GCL Phoenix 96 - Card Game Geek
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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Welcome to the Phoenix GameChat League
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If you're visiting, thumb the list so we know you stopped by. Feel free to chat along with us, but please leave the posting of list items to members only.

Today we'll be discussing what I tend to focus on more than any other type of game in this hobby: Card Games.

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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:5]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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Beyond Card Games, let's just talk about cards themselves. How do you feel about cards in games in general? I know some games include cards but they could have just as easily been tiles (ie Ora et Labora) but were probably made into cards to just save money. I'm talking about games where you have a deck of cards or multiple decks, you shuffle them up and this randomness can help with added variety from game to game.

Do you think cards improve a game? There are some games without any cards at all (ie Hansa Teutonica and Imperial). Do you think you prefer games with or without cards? Are you a consummate card sleever?
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2. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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What is your favorite type of card game out of what I consider to be 4 main card game categories: Numbers & Suits (ie trick-taking, climbing, normal card deck games such as Poker, etc) Tableau, Deck-Building, and Customizable. What do you think would be your top 3 favorite card games and why do you consider these to be your favorites? Are there any card games or card game expansions that you are really anticipating at the moment?
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3. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:154] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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Have you ever been sucked into any money draining CCG's to the point were you said to yourself: "I'm spending way too much money on this card game and have to quit or at least cut back." Tell us your tales of horror! Any other thoughts on CCG's? What do you think about FFG's LCG model?

What do you consider your top 3 customizable card games? Why are they your favorite? These don't need to be CCG/LCG (Think Summoner Wars, Dungeon Command, Mage Wars, etc.) but of course are plausible options.
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4. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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What are your thoughts on the deck-building revolution? That's the only way I can put it, as so many card games that are released these days are deck-building games. It's even becoming a popular mechanism in general board games (ie Mage Knight).

What do you consider your top 3 deck-building games? Why are they your favorite?
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5. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:123]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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Did you grow up playing many traditional card games (ie Poker, Blackjack, Crazy 8's, Hearts, etc)?

What do you consider your top 3 games of numbers and suits? Why are they your favorite?
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6. Board Game: Munchkin [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:3439] [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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I haven't really talked about 'take that' in card games but I think tableau based card games are the type of card games that you'll most frequently see this type of player interaction. How much interaction do you like in your card games?

What do you consider your top 3 tableau based games? Why are they your favorite?
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7. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:340]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_9_ The Great Zimbabwe x2

In the first play of the week against both my boys, I went for the god Qamata hoping to get a revenue stream off of hubs but misread the board. My younges son got the Shaman before I could and later built a dimond cutter where I wanted and overall I couldn't keep pace. Both of my boys really like this game

Youngest son won: 33 of 30
Oldest son: 30 of 31
Jon 18 of 33

Amos invited me to tag along for gaming at Kyle's, who I had not met before. I also had not met David who joined us and we played Eclipse and then I taught Zimbabwe. Friendly fold and great to exted my gaming circles a little farhter. For Zimbabwe, early craftsmen getting priced starting at two and David getting Shadipinyi had me go for Anasi so I could get all my goods for 1 cattle each. Nice god.
i finally got the shaman to use and turns out I didn't make effective use of him. In the penultimate round I could only raise one of my two monuments because I was out of reach of the final good I needed which made me wish I had picked up the rain ceremony which Kyle used effectively. In the final round I still couldn't raise that monument so placed another moument to get to my VR of 31 points. Then Kyle finished the round by also meeting his VR target of 32, so he won on the second tiebreaker.

Kyle 32 of 32
Jon 31 of 31
David 27 of 32
Amos 26 of 31

I'm now 0 for 3 in Zimbabwe! laugh
Both the three player and four player games seem fine to me, so now I guess I need to explore the edges with 2 and 5 player games.

_6_ Eclipse

My second game of Eclipse ever and we played alien races. I was descendants of ancient folk or something which was an interesting race to play. Overall though I was happy to get this played again as it told me this isn't really a game I need to play a lot nor own. For one, it takes too long to play relative to my interest in the game. I like building up my tech, the exploration is kind of meh, the attacking and how dice work doesn't appeal to me although I had good dice luck in this game. I lost due to attacking David too much when I should have been attacking Amos.

Amos 38
Jon 34
Kyle 32
David 13

_7_ Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League new!
Both my boys worked as a team to play against me and learn this game which we had just received. The boys won 74 to my 65. One more round and I would have hit the target. Overall I liked this and it was interesting to buy tech using victory points as it is sort of like Zimbabwe's shifting VR requirements. Everything made sense and this feels like a solid game. It also looks good on the table.
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8. Board Game: Seasons [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:161]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Spot it! x 2

I got a little freebie demo pack of cards for this game at Gen Con, and introduced them to daughter this week. Each card has a bunch of pictures of random stuff on it; each player has 1 card in hand, and the game starts with 1 card face up in the middle. As soon as you see a matching image on your card and the card in the center, you call it out, take the center card in front of you and put the card from your hand in the center. Draw a new card, and the players are now trying to match an image on the card you just played into the center. It's a simple, fun little game for all ages. I'll probably try to hunt down a copy for the family.

Tell Tale x 1

Another pickup from Gen Con, this is a simple family game where you play cards with fantasy artwork on them to tell a story. Another one that daughter likes.

Animal Upon Animal x 2

More games with daughter.

Forbidden Island x 1

Daughter enjoys this one too, even though she doesn't get it quite yet.

Plato 3000 x 1

I hung with my wife and made it close until the end. I was down 77-70 heading into the final round, and she ended up winning 117-83. Woof.

Seasons x 1

I got my first win at Seasons. This was the first time I felt like I really had good synergy between my cards. I also realized that it's a bit like Settlers of Catan: your most important decisions are made at the very beginning of the game, and your subsequent choices are largely based on those initial decisions. How this affects the game's longevity for me remains to be seen.



I'm hoping to get Netrunner played this week. I watched a 45-minute teaching video and read the rules yesterday. It's all fresh in my head at the moment, so I'm hoping to apply it before the details fade. I'm cautiously optimistic about the game. The theme is unique, and I like the asymmetrical sides. My concerns are the dedication the game seems to require for enjoyment combined with my lack of gaming opportunities lately. I work on Wednesday night again, so no game night this week. There are also going to be major changes in my department at work that may (depending on how things play out) make things a little more tolerable for me or help push me out the door.
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9. Board Game: Magnate [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:3435]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Magnate 15
Doubles Wild 2

I did my New-to-You and Most Played geeklist entries this week. I had 28 plays of 9 games last month, which is a relatively small number, but it felt like a good variety especially with getting to try some games 4p with Ryan and Mrs. WG.
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10. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:29]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
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This is the week that was:
San Juan 2
1989: Dawn of Freedom 1
Guillotine 1
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization 1
TransAmerica 1

Through the Ages is a game that I'd only played once before and that time without the military factions, and I thought it was ok, but never really followed up on it. This time we had the military in play, and it was a much better experience, although I seemed to not have the military I needed in the mid game when it counted, and a lot of strength in the end game when nobody cared anymore. If the game had lasted a couple more rounds, I definitely would have come in second as I had the highest empire point accumulation rate, and may have had a shot at first, but I came in last.

My wife and I played two games of San Juan, splitting them between us, and one game of Transamerica during our Friday evening pub date while our daughter's in art class.

This week also featured Halloween where we had about 100 kids come by our house despite the rainy weather and my daughter went as Fluffy the three headed dog (from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) and I went as Hagrid (ditto).

Guillotine was this week's introduce-Simon-to-gaming game of choice, and I'm thinking that next week might be worth trying out Manoeuvre, if only because it's one of my favourites. Incidentally, look for my friend Simon in an upcoming episode of Once Upon a Time, playing a prince.

Play by email:
1989: Just won the power struggle in Czechoslovakia in my game with Ania and just started another game with Judit.

Here I Stand: in the diplomacy phase before turn 4.

Virgin Queen: two games going. One dead. Sad.

Twilight Struggle: I lost my ACTS ladder game, but a necro game has been revived from the dead and has resumed.

Unhappy King Charles: Three of the four games have regular progress.
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11. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:
_9_ Terra Mystica ( x5 )
_7_ Keyflower ( x2 )
_7_ Dixit
_6_ Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar ( x3 ) New
_4_ Tweeeet New
_4_ Goblins, Inc. ( x3 )


Gaming Notes:
Terra Mystica continues to be a top-shelf game for me. I have now played it a total of six times at three different player counts (2, 3, and 4 players). Yesterday's 4-player session was really the first time I hit a speedbump with the game (two speedbumps actually).

First, I ended up explaining the rules twice (once for the game I played and once to a table that wanted to play but didn't want to muddle through the rulebook). Despite knowing the game very well, it still took me (I would estimate) 30 minutes to explain all the elements of the game. Although the game feels very elegant during play, teaching the rules did remind me how saturated with mechanisms the game is. I don't think I would want to play as often if I had to teach it to new players every time. It should be a 90-120 minute game with brisk turns, not a 3-hour slog.

Second, I played the 4-player game with some very experienced gamers who just about maxed out the game. Players reached the top space on 3 of 4 cult tracks (in my previous 5 games, one player reached a top space once), and the winning player had constructed all but three of his buildings in a connected network (I think you start with ~17). I'm not sure if it was the players, the player count, or just an artifact of that particular session, but it has me concerned. One of the redeeming features of the game to me has been the impossibility of doing everything (and thus the need to really hone in on one's path to points). To see these players do a lot of everything on their first play suggests the possibility that, among experts, one must do all of everything, which would make every game feel reptitive very quickly. (Note: despite their impressive-seeming achievements, these players did not reach my personal high score, which indicates that there may be better means of scoring points than doing a lot of everything).

So, for now, it remains a winner. Not quite a Top 10 game, yet, but a great one, to be sure.
meeple



I shared my initial thoughts on Keyflower in last week's list, based on one 2-player game. Since then, I have played once with 3 players and once with 4 players, and the game has risen in my esteem slightly. I also discovered that I had been making a minor rule mistake that should improve the experience once corrected.

Overall, I find the game enjoyable, but after only three plays I think the end-game scoring opportunities are already begining to feel repetitive. The best parts of the game are (1) the player interaction effected by the auction/action restrictions, and (2) the elegance of the worker redistribution system. The underlying resource conversion and logistical puzzles don't hold enough interest to stand on their own, and the ultimate question for me is whether a table of players (in my typical game group) can sufficiently utilize the game's mechanics to make this the kind of cutthroat game I'd enjoy long-term, and not just another generic personal optimization resource engine game.

meeple


More thoughts coming later...
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12. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:710]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 44:
3x Innovation
2x Fleet
2x Morels
1x Animal Upon Animal
1x By Golly!
1x Numbers League: Adventures in Addiplication
1x Piece o' Cake
1x Zooloretto

Game of Choice:
I almost went with Innovation but thought enough is enough, even if a great game - so I went with one of the new kids on the block.

This game is well-produced, plays in about 30 minutes, has some strategy to it and is fun to play with the theme coming through in the cards. V. and I have both enjoyed our two plays of it so far and look forward to exploring it further.

The Week in Review:
It has been a great week in terms of gaming, in large part due to me being home all day and the kids wanting to play when they get home from work.

Of notable mention would be playing 2 player Zooloretto with M. and having an evening with E. tonight, playing 3 games and winning my first ever By Golly!

Aside from a lot of gaming with the kids, V. and I have enjoyed our new games. Fleet has been detailed above, but also Morels has seen table-time. It plays in about 30 minutes for us and has some tough decisions along the way. Of course there is luck, but you can mitigate it to some extent by selling cards to locals allowing you to get foraging sticks, which will let you go further into the forrest. This is sure to be played in times ahead too.

Elsewhere Innovation keeps shining for us and rewards us with each session we play. We are closing in on 100 plays. Time to prepare the expansion.

meeple

The Week Ahead:
Well, I am off to the movies on Tuesday (Shame) and Wednesday (The Act of Killing), both promising to be interesting viewing.

Friday V. and I have planned to play Polis: Fight for the Hegemony, so something to look forward to in next weeks list...
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13. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:35]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Brass x2 (ongoing)

A pair of Brass games with GCLers. One I opened with a Cotton1 by interface error, and I'm struggling how to deal with that and have not found a creative approach. The error didn't distress me, it intrigued me to experiment, but my choices so far point at an historic personal low score. The other game I entered the Rail with a lead that has disappeared. Where'd it go? Oops, it's a bar brawl now.

Planet Steam arrived. Lovely.

Yesterday I spent with the wee kids for a day in the city, they move to Portland in about two weeks, and we went to a brick and mortar and bought
Mice and Mystics. Hoping to get a game off the ground when we got home, I found a ruleset I need to spend time and it was too late at night to try to spin it up. I was hoping for King of Tokyo but it's sold out. Hopefully we get a play in this week. This is not my sort of game to play with adults, but I hope it spins up well with the kids. At first glance it owes something to Claustrophobia but lacks its charm or streamlining.

I'm loving the commentary on the Essen crop. Just fantastic analysis everyone. I remain hopeful on TGZ on order. I may pull the trigger on ordering RRR, Trick of the Rails, and Elements as other Essen choices (except the latter).

Kurt, I just loved your news of a new game by the designer of Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. Instant buy for me too, and I'll watch eagerly. I wonder if it'll be a GMT title?
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14. Board Game: Neue Heimat [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:1523]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 3Nov2012:

8/1/327 plays of 6/1/167 total games, with 2/0/31 expansions employed.
Plays with 12/2/103 distinct opponents.

0/0/26 games acquired (plus 0/0/19 expansions.)

With neighbours:
1x _6.7_ Bongo! - A bit of insanity with a neighbour family. They understood what to do, but - even amongst themselves - found that they were slower than they'd wanted to be in order to enjoy the proceedings. It left me all the more impressed with my nephews - who picked the game up (and were playing it more competently than I do!) in about 15 minutes.
1x _8.5_ Neue Heimat - Inflicted on one of daughter #1's excellent friends and her (that is, the friend's) younger brother. Both youngsters are extremely bright - so we had some fun with the game. The little one was a tiny bit overmatched by the ramifications of his decisions; but since he tipped the game toward his sister, everytone was happy!

With a couple of the guys from Tom Grant's I've been Diced! gang:
1x _7.7_ 1825 Unit 1 New! - It's a nice constructive game: which, to my chagrin, turns out to be the part of the 18xx toolkit that I'm least competent at. This is a game where having a handle on the track mutations is pretty important - and I catastrophically misread the way the board would change in time. Still, I quite enjoyed the experience.

With my youngsters:
1x _6_ Clue: Limited Gift Edition - This was daughter #1's provocation. And somehow, when we'd finished, it was son #2 saying "Can we play this again?" It's amusing: the notions of suggestion, inference and implication (that come fairly readily to an adult) probably need to be learned at some point; the youngster is interested in improving his skills - it's delightful to watch. (Even if the game is almost completely trivial.) If the "Limited" thing amuses you, there's only one extra card/concept in the game: an extra weapon, the Poison Chalice.
3x _7_ Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 (with bits from Babel13 and Duel) - All with son #2. I like the setting - and find the game works really well with 2. It's short enough that if things go against one, it's easy just to play again. With more than 2, it becomes an exercise in politics: who does one attack? Opponent A or Opponent B? With opponents of adequate sanity, it works - but my children aren't always there.

With the no-longer-on-Fridays guys:
1x _7.3_ - We probably were consistently underbidding in this one - and a bit more practice will allow us to explore more of the bidding space with success. The question of how much (and what!) to expose during bidding is interesting: it's important both to convey information to a partner and conceal information from an opponent - and, naturally, while the bidding is occurring there's only the beginnings of declaration as to which camp a particular player will occupy. I'm still finding it pretty cool (and, perhaps particularly so in the context of this week's topic!)

Owned-and-unplayed: 18 (+0/-1) Managed to get 1825 Unit 1 played: it was met with substantial approval by my opponents - but both of them missed some of 1830's sharper edges. I think we'll try 1860 next(*) - though I'd love it if I was closer to the front of deepthoughtgames.com's queue so that I could instead try them on 1889: History of Shikoku Railways.

(*) That next should be read "The next time we play an 18xx", not "next week." I hope that The Great Zimbabwe will be the game of record next Wednesday.

Outlook for the week: Another game with daughter #1. Likely some more Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 with son #2. Something cool Wednesday night. And perhaps my copy of Terra Mystica will arrive... I've got Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage set up on the big gaming table right now; but I suspect that it'll be put away without my managing to recruit an opponent. I'd be very happy to be wrong on that front, though!
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15. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:44]
Kurt R
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other.
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I'm home and ready to crash. I've already given you all most of my thoughts but I'll probably write up a blog on the convention for my own posterity if nothing else.

Hard to choose a representative game. I'm very curious about Tin Goose, and Keyflower, Tzolkin, and Terra Mystica are the best of the games I actually played. Since I won this one I chose that.

I don't think I could have lasted another day, at least not learning and playing more new games. I was fried today and had little patience for questions while I was teaching and playing Village. I do have a limit for new games. I look forward to doing some non-gaming things for a few days. But what a great time. Every game I played was new to me and I got to do a lot of effective try-before-buy.
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16. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:584]
Judit Szepessy
Canada
London
Canada
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The week in gaming

Discworld x1
Deterrence x1
Gosux1
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small x2
Container x1
Glory to Rome x1

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small: we are borrowing the game from our friend, and quite like it. The game still offers interesting choices and strong competition. Can be an excellent choice to play during the week when we do not have a lot of time for games.

Gosu
: we are still getting to know the cards and the combos. I am glad we followed Mark's suggestions about drafting and the number of turns after a player has passed.

Container: a wonderful game with the family. (I always remember the image Jon posted after he had played the game for the first time, and it always makes me smile).
Well, we did not have a very strong economy, but we kept it going. My husband bought four warehouses, I and my older son three, my younger one only two, in vain we suggested he should buy more. Two of us produced two kind of goods, and two of us four. I took out loan once, and was able to pay it back soon enough.
We did some acting too during the game, being true to the theme of the game. I am glad we all like that game, I only wish we had time to play it more often.
One of our friends wants to play Container, and I am planning to have her over soon, and have a five player game.

November is going to be a busy month for me it seems, and I am not sure how much time we will have for games. I am glad I could start a game with Roger by email.

Glory to Rome: both my sons was going for the Forum, and my older was able to achieve the condition one turn earlier than my other one - it was a fun game.
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17. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:144]
Daniel Kenel
United States
New London
Iowa
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Games Played

With my wife and oldest daughter:
Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game

With my oldest daughter:
Carcassonne x2

With my wife:
The Castles of Burgundy x2

With my friend Michael:
The Castles of Burgundy x1
The Great Zimbabwe x1
1989: Dawn of Freedom x1
Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan x1

Week in Review
Just a great week of gaming full of memorable sessions. A fun filled special Halloween scenario of LNOE, intriguing as hell first play of Great Zimbabwe, an absolute curb stomping in 1989 and a miracle comeback win in Sekigahara. All worthy of more details which I plan to provide in the comments below as I find some gaps of free time this week.
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18. Board Game: Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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Android: Netrunner (3)
Ascension + Expansions (2)
OddVille (1)
Race for the Galaxy + Expansions (1)
Terra Mystica (1)
Troyes + Expansion (1)
Uchronia (1)

---

I played a bit more Netrunner but have decided the out of box factions are not interesting enough to play against one another. At least not compared to other card games that I have available to me. I think there would be a lot of fun to be had if I could force myself to get into deck construction. As I should have learned from my experience with LOTR LCG, I shouldn't have bought into Netrunner. This is especially true as a local gamer has the set and we've mostly been playing his copy. That said, I didn't even realize that he had ordered it. I had a bit of fun with but it's time to move on.

Ascension hasn't been getting much love from me at all lately. I think this is partially because I stopped playing Ascension on iOS. It was a conscious decision but rather something that just sort of happened. I'm sure my disappointment with Immortal Heroes has a lot to do with it. I still like to play my Highland Center deck but Seasons, Gosu, and Gosu 2 have been taking up more of my time lately.

OddVille. I had high hopes for this one. Here's a basic premise: On your turn, you either (1) play one of your workers or (2) build a building you have the schematic for. Before you play a worker you may pay money to get your previously paid cards back at a cost of 1/card you have in your hand. Workers allow you to do either (a) place a meeple on a resource (there are 4 types), (b) get money, or (c) take a building schematic from the building row. They get replaced as their taken. The 4 workers range from best at everything to worst at everything. Your money caps at 5 and you can only have 2 schematics in front of you. There is a central building card with paths. You place your meeple on buildings that you attach to the city. The game ends when a player has 6 of their 9 meeples on buildings. When you build buildings you remove the resource meeples matching the requirements of the schematics. When you build a building you gain a immediate benefit (usually a resource) and if there is a road connecting your building with adjacent buildings you get their bonus as well. The buildings have various scoring methods.

My main problem with the game is that when you build, you can somewhat circumvent the need to use workers for resources because of the bonus resources. Some of the characters seem way better than others and sometimes it can be hard to negate someones character bonuses. It went pretty fast and it's an easy game to learn but the flaws really keep it from having hard decisions to make in the game. I can immediately think of some variants that would make the game better, but I usually don't bother with variants unless a game impresses me out of the gate. I was really disappointed in this one.

I enjoyed Race for the Galaxy and will continue to play this 'cycle' until the expansion comes out. I'm glad that my friend doesn't mind playing with the 'no prestige leader' variant.

---

Well, I talked a little bit about Terra Mystica last week but let's go a little deeper. Terra Mystica is a euro with a strong spatial element. You have to manage the following resources: Workers, Money, Power and Priests. Money and workers are needed for building and upgrading buildings. Workers are also needed for terraforming neighboring land types to the type of land that your race is able to inhabit. You usually start the game with 2 of the most basic building (the Dwelling) on a hex board. The Dwelling gives you workers in an Eclipse sort of method such that when you remove something from your board to place on the board you're uncovering additional income. These Dwellings can be upgraded into Trade Houses. The Trade Houses will give you money and magic in the income phase. It's cheaper to build a Trade House if it's next to an opponents building. Though, if you build or upgrade any buildings next to an opponent, your opponent can buy power for a VP amount. The Trade House can be upgraded into one of two things. The first is the Stronghold which is one of your mega buildings. It usually gives you power for income and always unlocks a special ability based on the race you've chosen. The special ability could be a one-time effect, a constant ability, or a special action you can use once/turn.

Trade Houses also have the option to upgrade into a Temple. Temples will give Priests for your income and also a Favor Tile. The favor tile will move you up a Cult Track of your choice and usually has a special ability. This could be income, scoring options, special abilities and special actions. Temples can be upgraded into a Sanctuary. The other mega building. Upgrading gives you a Favor Tile, typically a Priest for income and it makes it easier to create a town in your conglomerate. When conglomerates get so large, they will become towns which will give you points, a one-time benefit, and the ability to climb to the highest point in one cult track.

At the beginning of the game you can choose a special tile which usually will give you income of various types, and/or scoring opportunities, and/or special actions. Tiles that aren't chosen get money ala Puerto Rico. When a player passes at the end of the round they choose one of these special tiles to use in the next round gaining any money that may have accrued on them and then pass in their old one which other players can then choose from. So, what are Priests for? You can advance in the Cult Track with them. This can be done in a minor way or a major way which removes them from the game. They can also help upgrade your workers to make terraforming land more efficient. Beyond that, you can use Priests to upgrade your naval capabilities. Naval capabilities will let you transform lands across water and make your network larger for the end game scoring. The alternative to naval capabilities is creating bridges which costs Power.

What's power good for? Power can get you immediate resources at a somewhat hefty cost that don't take an action. In addition to that, there are 6 power costing actions that all players have access to. That said, each actions can only be used once per round in a first come, first served basis. What's the point of the Cult Track? At the end of the game, each of the four cults have an area majority-eque scoring for whoever has climbed the highest on the cult track. Rising on the cult track is a minor method for gaining power. Finally at the end of a round players can possibly get a bonus based on how high they have climbed a particular cult based on the round tile. They higher they are the more they can benefit from this round tile. The round tiles also dictate what you will get bonus points for during that round. This is typically for putting a specific type of building on the board. Beyond the Cult scoring, the end game has a scoring for the 3 largest networks.

I thought it was ok. I'm going to play it another time or two this Tuesday coming. I don't suspect it will impress me enough that I'll want to keep it my collection but I'll try to keep an open mind.

---

I also managed to play Troyes with Les Dames de Troyes. What does this expansion add to the game? (1) More activity cards. It actually doubles the amount of activity cards when you mix them with the base game. There are some funky types of activity cards (ie area majority scoring based on cubes you put on the card, cards that give points for cubes on them but the points reduce as more cubes are added to the card, cards that require influence instead of money to place meeples on the card, cards that you add cubes with activations and then in subsequent turns activate to remove the cubes for special ability). (2) New event cards. Some are particularly nasty (add +3 to max of 6 to each of the event dice and takes 16 pips in red dice to defeat and can't be touched by red activities or The Resistance). (3) 3 new Secret Objective cards. There is also and optional variant that you can start with one of these revealed from the beginning of the game in addition to what each player receives. (4) Head of the Household/Purple Die. Each player starts the game with 1 Purple Die which can't be bought by any player and can be used as any color of your choice when creating a group of dice or combating event dice.

(5) The last module is the rampart guards. Each player starts at the top gate which is the 0 & 20 space. There is a gate every 5 spaces. Once you hit the 20 space you can't move anymore. On your turn, you can do a rampart action using 1 and only 1 die. It should be noted you can actually increase the the value of the die (regardless of whether it's your's or your opponents)... 1 money/pip to a max of 6. You actually get to do a number of rampart actions equal to the pips on the dice. There are two types of rampart actions (a) Move your guard 1 space along the rampart track. (b) Add a cube to an outdoor activity that you have access to. Access refers to arriving at the gate next to the activity. You maintain access if you leave the gate to progress further on the track. There are two restrictions to the cube option: you can't add more than 1 cube to a single outdoor activity during this action and you can't add a cube to the III outdoor activity if you used a die that matches the color of the die indicated on the III outdoor activity's special ability. It should be noted that you can use multiple outdoor activity cubes in a single turn assuming they all come from different outdoor activities. You can also combo activity cubes with outdoor activity cubes.

We played with all modules except the Purple Die we were pressed for time, and adding 4 extra dies every round would likely increase the length of the game. It was amazing and not just because I ended up winning. I was surprised no one else used rampart actions other than myself.

Uchronia has crappy cards and thus, it's leaving my collection. As I said last week, I do think it has some merits over Glory to Rome but I'm not going to explore it any further.

---

In Other News...

Not much to say really! Will probably be gaming Tues as previously mentioned.
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19. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:90]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played
Ascension: Storm of Souls x1
Carcassonne x1
Dungeon Petz x1
Ora et Labora x1
Thunderstone x1

Expansions Used
Ascension: Return of the Fallen x1
Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements x1

Representative Game
Since it was mentioned on this list already, Ora et Labora would have been a much better game with large SQUARE tiles instead of cards. Sure, it would have cost more, but the aesthetics would have been much more pleasing.

S and I played it tonight after a long break. The last time it hit the table was in March, so we were a bit rusty. Too make things even more troublesome, we played the "France" version for the first time. So not knowing the unique cards, we really hadn't much clue on how to get any sort of VP engine going.

In spite of how poorly we both did, I did enjoy it enough to consider putting back on the table sometime soon. But, really, I'd like even more to put Le Havre on the table if I could just convince S that after two or so years, her taste in games may have matured and she might like it now. If only...

The Week in Review
Monday, S and I dusted off and played (not EPIC) Thunderstone. Yes, I should stop cringing and start shuffling all the cards together and play EPIC and be done with it. Maybe next time...if there is a next time.

After carving pumpkins on Tuesday night, S and I played a quick game of Ascension: Storm of Souls/Return of the Fallen. Although this game has probably more luck and requires less thought than Thunderstone, I can enjoy it more for what it is...probably because it doesn't take as long to set up and knock down and usually plays in less time as well. It's just not to be taken too seriously.

Friday night, S requested Dungeon Petz. How could I refuse? Here's a game I love to hate. Well, hate's maybe too strong a word, but it's a game where I love the one mechanic and hate the rest of it. I really dig the assigning needs to your pet based on the colour code in such a way that you can satisfy your pet. The rest of the game, I'm just not all that fond of as most of the rest of the game (except the auction) is housekeeping. The shows and the selling phases require no decision beyond which pet to send to the show and which pet to sell (if any). The rest is just computing the VPs. At least in Prêt-à-Porter (my favourite put-on-a-show game), the shows themselves are very quick. Quicker than Dungeon Petz.

This afternoon while waiting for a pumpkin pie to bake, S and I played Carcassonne. Tonight, while eating the pumpkin pie, we played Ora et Labora.

The Week Ahead
Four days of work followed by a four day, long weekend. Fingers crossed that the four days off will translate into some good gaming, but as of now, there are no definitive plans to make it happen.

And for all the buzz of new Essen games, I have no purchases planned at this point. Of course, if things start hitting the shelves of the online shops, that could change in an instant.
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20. Board Game: Vanuatu [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:660]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

.10! Dominion 2
.10! Hanabi 2
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 13
_8_ Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space 1
_8_ Trajan 1
_8_ Troyes 1
_7_ Vanuatu 1
_7_ Yggdrasil 1
_7_ Shogun 1
_7_ Sentinels of the Multiverse 2
_7_ The Castles of Burgundy 2
_4_ Terra Nova 1 New!

Week in Review

Meh. Not feeling the game love much at the moment.
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21. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:42]
Ben Draper
United States
Seattle
Washington
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_8_ Android: Netrunner x9

Week in Review

Last Sunday, I went to the weekly Netrunner meetup at Card Kingdom. Throughout the evening there were about a dozen or so players, and I was able to get in games with four different people. The play level was competitive, but the atmosphere was pretty casual, which is exactly what I like. I got lots of advice on my current decks and a general rundown of the local metagame. I hope to make this a pretty regular event, but the late weeknight start time might make it difficult.

My girlfriend, Sarah, arrived in Seattle on Thursday, and we moved into our new place. Many of our belongings are still in boxes, but I made sure to take out all of the games to see how much space they are going to take up. This weekend, we'll be picking out furnishings, including gaming shelves and a game table.

The Week Ahead

Another busy week, as Sarah and I continue to unpack and settle into the new place. Band classes are starting to settle down a bit, but I'm teaching private lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after school now. So, my main hopes for gaming this week are the Thursday night board game night at Card Kingdom and/or some 2-player gaming with Sarah.
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22. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – More Buildings Big and Small [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Games Played in Chronological Order: (Links to play details, with my ratings in color, and milestones in red italic.)

SPIEL, October 18-21:
I finally recorded my plays from SPIEL '12.

Please remind me not to have a heart attack following SPIEL 2013.

Wednesday, October 31:
_.8. Flash Point: Fire Rescue, and play #2 new!
Ella and I decided to play together, something that is always good fun.She was immediately interested in trying a coop based on being a firefighter. However, she first asked if it came with timers, something she hates in all types of gaming (video games mainly), I think Escape made her ask.

We lost our first game very quickly as we allowed the fire to get out of hand and the building came down on top of us. In the second game we concentrated on controlling the fire, and won with only a single damage cube on the board.

I look forward to playing this again with the full rules.

Sunday, November 4:
_.7. A la carte 10th play!
My daughters wanted to play a game with me, I suggested Flash Point, but Ella countered with this one. As we were about to start my buddy Daniel showed up and joined us. I broke our record score with 30, but we did play the Beilage rules incorrectly.

_.7. Blackrock City new!
Daniel came over for some gaming, but he first had some very heavy stuff to get off his chest, and after a few hours of that we were not exactly in it for this lone attempt at gaming. The game definitely shows signs of some of the same brilliance as The Boss, but will require a few more plays where we're in a better place to appreciate it.

_.8. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small with Agricola: More Buildings Big and Small, and play #2
This was the first time we played with the expansion, and while during our first game my brother and I were still too caught up in Daniel's issues, by game number two we were in love with the expansion and how it enhances the game.

New Games in My Collection:
None, but I backed Nothing Personal, Lost Legends (which comes with a free copy of (Sh)it Happens...), and Sentinels of the Multiverse: Shattered Timelines on Kickstarter.

Week in Review:
My family and I went on a very nice cruise to Helsinki, Finland. It was a two night cruise, where we had half a day in Helsinki. Unfortunately the weather on the trip out was rather bad and apart from myself everyone had to take seasickness medicine, and the day we had in Finland was very rainy. Still, we ate some great food, and had a lot of fun sharing a cabin together as a family.

I've been very low on energy, but attribute it to my beta blockers that I'm taking post my heart attack. I have a follow up appointment with a heart specialist in about six weeks.

Representative Item:
Agricola: More Buildings Big and Small wins for how darn well it enhances the base game. Without this expansion I think I'd be done with the base game in about 3-5 plays, but now I'm eagerly looking forward to many more plays.

Plans for the Week:
I don't think there's any gaming in sight for me unfortunately. I will finally do that PET CT scan of my torso Thursday, and then Monday the following week I will see the lung specialist to find out what the growth is in my left lung.


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23. Board Game: The Game of Life: Card Game [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:9681]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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We were discussing a holiday card exchange back in GCL 92

I've signed up for the main exchange and gotten my Thrifty Santa target, so it feels like the time to work on this as well.

Anyone who wants to do it, email me your address and I will do the swap, most likely in a high-tech fashion such as drawing names out of a hat.

Yes:
Roger - have address
Dave - have address
Judit - have address
Kurt - have address
Nicolai - have address
MMB - have address
Yoki
[Me]

No:
Max
Michael
Mark
Yoki
Ben
Bryan
BenD
Jon
Aliza
Ryan

Anyone is welcome to do it or not, I just want to make sure we don't leave someone out who wanted to do it, so if you previously said you wanted to do it, please let me know either way.

If you didn't respond before, or didn't want to before but now you do, feel free to join in. I'll plan on doing the swap sometime Sunday.
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24. Board Game Publisher: Cambridge Games Factory
Christopher Rao
United States
Seattle
WA
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Q:When I say "lawyer" what pops into your head? A:Someone who designs games about penguins." - Dormammu
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I did play the requisite XX this week - three games of 1830 - but honestly most of my game-related energy was spent drafting this:


I have resigned as Cambridge Games Factory's Director of Production.

I am grateful for the opportunities that CGF has given me. I thank Amber, Chris, Wake, Jeremiah, Heiko, Rob and Ed for the chance to meet and work with a such stellar group of individuals - each of them uncommonly smart, nice and hard-working. I continue to be struck by Heiko's daring, original, and uncommonly beautiful art and graphic design, and by how Rob's (and Ed's) game development sensibilities seem to make each new game quite a bit better than you expect it to be. These days I mainly play marathon 18xx games, and yet Quills, Montana, and Pala seem to keep my attention far longer than such short, light games have any right to - and the next batch (whenever it does get published), is likely to be just as compelling.

Silver Screen, art by Travis Kinchy, graphic design by Heiko Gunther, game development by Rob Seater. Designed by Reiner somebody.

I remember sitting in an empty Burger King in Shanghai after midnight in the middle of a 19-hour work day, upon returning from the Black Box factory, with a slew of impending deadlines coming down on us ... playing Barons. Because at that moment, incorporating Heiko's variant to fix some issues with a game we had already printed - was the most important thing in the world to Ed.

"Why are we focusing on this now?," I asked. I lost this argument

As dawn broke the next morning, we were play-testing Pala one last time, and making sure the rules as written made sense.

That afternoon Pala went to print.

I'm a deadline-driven guy in a deadline-driven profession for my day job, and I've certainly had my differences with the company over deadlines. But this absolute commitment to making a good game great - over sleep, over profits, over everything - is wildly infectious. It's why I accepted a role with CGF, why I stayed with CGF as long as I did, and ultimately why these games will always find the eye of discriminating tastes, even in a crowded marketplace.

I thank the combined Kickstarter/BGG community for its support. The patience and good will of most all of you, even as deadlines continued to slip with scant explanation, were extraordinary. Through this difficult process I received numerous supportive geekmails and emails, and got to know a lot of you in some highly entertaining and informative back and forth dialog worthy of a Dwarven pub in a D&D Eberron campaign (including the obligatory troll or two, stopping in for a pint). In the end, the community was more complementary to me personally than I deserved, and my appreciation for these many kindnesses endures.

As you may not be aware, in addition to my time, I have also kicked in a not insubstantial amount of money towards shipping, customs, storage fees and, well, more shipping. Although my resignation is effective as of last week, I want to be clear that the personal commitment I have given to the Black Box supporters and partners around the world - especially to those in Australia and New Zealand! - is just that, and continues past my formal separation from CGF. I am coordinating with Chris S to make sure that a new update comes out soon, and that everyone gets their games as promised. So this lost penguin may seem like that bad habit you tried to quit....

Earnestly teaching one of my little penguins something I have no idea how to do myself. Fortunately, no fingers or toes were lost to the hole-digger!

If I can be of any assistance in making sure you all get your games, rewards, replacement parts, etc., I will do my best to assist Chris S, Amber and gang in their exemplary efforts to follow through on worldwide fulfillment of Black Box with both elbow grease and ready wit. I'd happily defend a foxhole with these folks any day.

If any of you supporters find yourself in Seattle - or, say, at bgg.con next week - look me up, and the first cup of joe or something stronger is on me! Really. I'll be the one hiding in the Glassock room, desperately ogling a 5-train I'll never get a chance to buy, then quietly crying into my five-hour energy drink as I inexorably circle the drain.

We can discuss some relatively light and uncontroversial topics, like religion, politics and why the real 2010 Antoine Bauza masterpiece is Hanabi.

topherr
======================

Here's the link: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/10469977#10469977
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