GCL Meatball Division: Merry Christmas!
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Introduction

Welcome to this week's secret hangout of the Swedish Meatballs, a division of BGG's GameChat League. You can access the subscription list here and the wiki page here. Only members are to add items (please add your weekly games played), but civil comments from non-members are welcome.

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Sorp222 - up next
lacxox
aaarg_ink
bnordeng
Bolger
NateStraight
Patrick Carroll
ellephai
johnbandettini
Osirus
ldsdbomber
cymric
fateswanderer
DarrinWilliams
baditude
rarevos
qwerytmartin

This Week's Topic

On my flight yesterday, I passed right over the location I identified last week as the centre of mass of the Meatballs. That, and the fact that Christmas is a time for meeting up with family and friends, inspired this list.
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1. Board Game: Travel Blog [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:3806]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I don't think there have been all that many Meatball meet-ups, but for the record, which Meatballs have you met face to face?

And which of the Meatball locations (states/countries) have you visited? When, and what did you think of them?

Countries: UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary
States: MA, NY, NC, WI, MN, TX, LA, CA
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2. Board Game: Meatball Madness [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Let's imagine that we managed to get a Meatball-Con together and we could all make it.

Which one game would you bring along because you want to introduce people to it?
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3. Board Game: So You Want to Teach? [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Which game would you request one of the other Meatballs bring along because you want to learn it from them?
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4. Board Game: The Art of Conversation [Average Rating:6.11 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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What else would you want to do besides gaming? Any topics that have come up on the lists that you'd really like to talk to someone about face to face?
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5. Board Game: Christmas Party Gift Exchange Game [Average Rating:2.20 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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And finally, give someone a gift! What would you bring along as a present for the poster immediately before you on this item (starting with me!). It doesn't have to be a game!

Sorp222
lacxox
aaarg_ink

bnordeng
Bolger
NateStraight
Patrick Carroll
ellephai
johnbandettini
Osirus
ldsdbomber
cymric
fateswanderer

DarrinWilliams
baditude
rarevos
qwerytmartin
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6. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:69]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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A nice week of gaming with lots of favourites

Monday: 2p gaming with my regular partner

_9_ Pax Porfiriana x3 - I was taken by surprise in an incredibly short first game, then won a couple of long ones. It works well as a 2p but I want to get more multiplayer games in soon.

Tuesday: my last LoB of the year

_10_ Tigris & Euphrates - a couple who I haven't played with before wanted to get their copy to the table, having only played on iPad. I was of course happy to oblige! Ended up winning 11-8-8-6 in a game with all six monuments built.

_9_ Love Letter x3 - this was being played on three separate tables at one point. So much fun.

_8_ Divinare - another of my favourite new games of 2012. I think I like it slightly better with 3 than with 4 but it's always enjoyable.

_10_ 6 nimmt! - how could I not? I won too

_9_ Liar's Dice - just as I was about to leave, I saw a game of Perudo starting up that I could jump into. Won this one as well, despite going into the final showdown with only one die to my opponent's 3

Sunday - on the transatlantic flight

_10_ Cribbage x2 - one win each, both of which missed out on a skunking by a couple of points.

There probably won't be much gaming this week, though I have plans to make a local games meet-up in the New Year.
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7. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Alabama Railways, Antebellum Louisiana & Four Corners [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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Blokus Duo x2
Ordo x2
Age of Steam x1
Animal Upon Animal x1
Botswana x1
Cartagena x1
Coffee x1
Hey, That's My Fish! x1
Kingdom Builder x1
Tier auf Tier: Jetzt geht's rund! x1


Not much time to write here. AoS was on the Four Corners map, and it was 4p....for two turns. Then one guy went bankrupt and it was 3p the rest of the way. I screwed up my initial placement and first two moves and was sunk from about turn 4 on; I was just trying to survive at that point which, oddly enough, is often more fun in AoS than trying to win. We were saying things like "we are so screwed" very early in the game, and that's one of my favorite things about this game. This was a new group, and I seem to have found a new gaming buddy in it, which is awesome. It looks like we might be trading train games for war games, as he's already seeing how interested I'd be in trying Twilight Struggle, 1989, or Hannibal.

I've got two very enthusiastic nephew gamers at my in-laws' house at the moment, so my next few days will probably be pretty busy game-wise. I did get Slide 5 and Bananagrams for Christmas so far, so there's that.
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8. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:110]
Andrew
Japan
Tokyo
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This was a relatively great week for gaming.

Things started off crazy, as I was dragged into a long game of Indonesia, had my companies merged out from under me, and ended up in second place nevertheless. The mergers are the most interesting part of the game, and are critical to how it turns out; however you spend most of your time tracing shipping routes, and messing around with the companies, which I have very little interest in. I wish there were a game more about the merger element, as there seems to be some interesting analysis you could apply.

I managed to get Suburbia to the table, but realised that it's not as easy a game to teach as I expected. Plus I was taught the turn order wrong at BGG Con (though it barely matters)... Nevertheless we had a lot of fun - the other players constantly compared their suburbs to US cities (which completely went over my head - mine was supposedly Burlingame).

We ended the night with one of my favourites, Hansa Teutonica. I thought I was pretty rusty, and another of the players apparently had dozens of games of experience, but I started well, getting displaced quite a lot. I ended up falling behind on actions (but earned about 10VP from seizing Goettingen before the action-rush started) and was overbuilt all over the place. I thought I was screwed, but when we tallied up the scores I was in 1st place by a pretty large amount. It turned out that I had scored well in almost every category (except for the Coellen table), while my opponents had impressive skills and lots of important offices but far less points.

I also acquired the San Juan game on my phone and have been playing it like crazy. I may never have to play Ascension: Deckbuilding Game again! With several games experience, SJ's shortcomings relative to RftG become very clear: it's a relatively linear game - get a good plantation for cardflow, and build out according to at least one Large Building for VP. The game only advances and players only score during the Builder phase, so that predictability is a bit disappointing for me. (But I'm someone who knows the ins and outs of Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War.)
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9. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Hosting a friend this week, so we've played a few games, mostly 2p stuff like Roma and Kahuna, but a game of 3p Stone Age as well. As he's never played most of them before, I worry it might be frustrating to just keep losing, but at least he won a round of Roma. I just can't not play to win, which can be problematic.
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10. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:285]
 
Darrin Williams
United States
Allen
Texas
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A decent week this week. Thursday at DGM and Sunday afternoon in the Red Room.

Archipelago - My second play. It's much better the 2nd time. The game is fun and there's a lot of freedom, but I'm not wild about the victory points. There's simply nothing that gives you victory points unless that card is in play. You only know 2 of the 5 things that will benefit you in the end. It makes the game a little aimless at times.

Ginkgopolis - One of these day's I'm gonna figure this game out, but that day wasn't last Thursday.

Love Letter - I think I'm liking this game more, the more I play it. I managed to win with the Princess from the start (which ain't easy).

Bears! - I like this frantic dice game.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - I finally got my very own copy of this, so I played it. Everybody seems to love it.

Ascension: Deckbuilding Game - Played Ascension. I'm torn on this game. It seems like it plays itself a little, but the combos are really nice, so I may just need to be a more discriminating buyer.


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11. Board Game: Piranhas [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:11244]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Still only children's games.

This week is going to be better.
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12. Board Game: 'Over a Thousand' Question Quiz [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
eryn roston
United States
San Diego
California
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So when I wen to double-check my plays for the week I saw this nice round number:



I know it pales in comparison to many of you but it brought a smile to my face

Anyway this last week was pretty good for gaming. My buddy Mike had a brother-in-law in town who was really excited about boardgames and new me as "the boardganme guy" and was desperate to get some people together for a game night (or two)

This guy was hillarious. He had never really been introduced to "our games" but was SO enthusiastic by the idea. Sorta a dream come true for a gamesevangelist.

We started with 7 Wonders which went down about as well as the 2 or 3 cocktails he drank by the time we finished Which is to say nice and easy.

We then moved on to Power Grid, which was great since I profess to love that game but probably havent actually played it in a couple years. We also played on the Central Europe map (which was my first play with an expansion map). He absolutley loved this game despite getting completely hammered and spilling his pink-alchohol all over my rule book (at least no cards or anything got hit)

We met up again a few nights later for a more (albiet only slightly more) sober attempt at Powergrid. This time on the OG Germany map. Another successful game with the new guy who ended up winning.

We closed with my introducing the group to Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. THe sober guys seemed to dig it, but the new guy was too drunk and tired at this point to tolerate it.

I realize this sounds like a couple nightmare sessions but honestly it was great fun. It was especially good to get PG back on the table.
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13. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:227] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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It was a week where I fell in with some new gamers but a groupl I really enjoyed playing with so it was Hanabi, Snorta, Hare and Tortoise, and Dixit. All great games, and one of the most fun game nights in a long time.

I'm very happy with my personal HT random hare space rules (based off of Parlett's latest set of random events, but selected by a die roll instead of a deck). I'm actually gonna purchase a copy of HT in my next big game order, even though I have a DIY version. I really, really like it.

Then I played late into the night with our host's new wii controller that has its own touch screen. Really interesting because it means that it has asymmetric information against the other players. The game we played the most was this "ghost" game where one player is playing an invisible ghost while chasing the other players down who are trying to kill it.

But really what killed this weekend was CIVILIZATION!! On the computer! Good old CIV ONE from 1991. I had a weird dream about it a couple days ago and dug it up and haven't stopped playing. It sucked me in so much, I'm scared to ever get a newer version, I suspect it would kill me...or at least end my relationship with my lovely girlfriend.
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14. Board Game: Basari [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1398]

Lacombe
Louisiana
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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4 straight days with games, leading up to Christmas.

2 games of my new German copy of Basari. I need to raise the rating on this one; it's a perfect super filler, and a really good game.

A game of Stone Age and I Go! with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law. Should probably raise Stone Age's rating, too; it just works so well and has a ton of different viable ways of playing.

Cat and I played a Christmas Eve game of Vikings. On Christmas Day itself with her family, we only managed one game of The Market of Alturien which didn't change my mind that this is a really underrated little family game. I think I solidified my variant ideas to make it work better.

It's got a bit of a runaway leader problem similar to Dominion's, and I think it needs a few alternate ways to score. It also has an equalizer mechanism that enters the game way too early and cuts the legs out from under the game's early development of infrastructure ... which exacerbates the runaway leader since this stunts the growth of anyone who got off to a slow start (strangely enough for a catchup mechanism, but that's what seems to happen; it keeps the middle of the pack closer to the leaders, but doesn't help the losers).
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15. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:219]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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It being Christmas, we flipped the bird to the Alphabet Challenge and played what we wanted.

The Manhattan Project — The more I play this game, the more I realise it is not for me. It features some deft WP mechanisms, and the interaction the game requires of the players is not common by any measure... But it is only there as a cleverly disguised stick to beat more efficient players with since the game does not reward agression by itself. The result ought to be that players cooperate in order to reel in a wayward leader who is then bombed back to the Stone Age, after which other players hit on the victors of that conflict, until the engines are more or less equally efficient and insane chaotic timing can decide over victory or defeat. The game doesn't present agression as an option, but rather as an integral balance aspect without which the game is barely functional. A side effect is artificially lengthening the time it takes to play the game without really adding any depth to it, just more mindless mayhem.

It is probably a good game for those who enjoy this kind of mindless bashing each other's brains out, and I suppose it can be fun if matters are kept simple and straightforward. But TMP is the opposite: it features a rather hefty ruleset with an elaborate WP core, suggesting one can think one's way out of a scrape. It is always a disappointment to find out this is not the case. This game is probably going to the trade pile in the near future.

Mykerinos + Mykerinos: The Nile — It's been ages since I played Mykerinos, let alone its expansion. It was nice to do so again, and to discover that the tight and intense feeling of this parsimonious majority game is still there. At the cost of a little of its intensity it gets even better with the Nile expansion because it introduces a character who can block the rather powerful (and in case of inexperienced hands, too powerful) Sir Brown. It was fun exploring the depths of this ageing Ystari again, and rediscovering all the tricks which come with it, for example conserving a lot of cubes by playing for second place (which can be insidiously powerful). This game has been forgotten by most people, and that is not really fair: it offers a lot of punch for such a small box. But since majorities are no longer hot (and deck building and worker placement are), and it not being readily available any longer will also not help much. Shame, really.

Inca Empire — This title has been sitting in my closet for well over a year now, and today I simply put it out on the table. It was my second play, and it went better than I remembered. The fact that we used the Pizarro-variant (which is the original way of doing things in Tahuantinsuyu) probably helped considerably, even though the game remains somewhat too longish. I'm hoping that repeat plays will bring playing time down to more acceptable lengths.

My partner discovered the hard way that this game is not about points, but about point deltas. It is very hard to come back from an every growing difference on your own: it is unlikely that you can improve your own efficiency to achieve this. So you must cooperate with another player, most likely the one who is also struggling with a lower point delta. Unfortunately with three players it is probably too easy for two players to permanently lock out the third despite the balancing mechanics of the most point-rich player supporting the one lagging behind, and that player going first in placing a card in the Sun phase. It is doable, but the best course of action is simply not to let a too great delta appear in the first place. And guard your wild road cards until you absolutely need the effect of one. With 4 players your choice in how to play the various group dynamics is greatly increased, likely strengthening the game considerably. (Although it also adds to the game's length... hard to say what will win out.)

It's a good game because of these game-theoretical tricks, even if it is a little longish. It's certainly one of the better White Goblin games to hit the shelves of distributors, in any case. Too bad that a good 2P-variant is not really feasible though. Looking forward to more plays of this.
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16. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:2254]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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.N/A. Unpublished Prototype (Undermine) - 2 Players (x3)
_.8_. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - 2 Players
_.7_. Magical Athlete - 4 Players (x2); 5 Players
I6.5I Tumblin-Dice - 2 Players (x4)
I5.5I Mr. Mouth - 2 Players
_.4_. Snail's Pace Race - 3 Players (x2)
_.3_. Let's Go Fishin' - 2 Players

I'm working on a 2 player game for a Print and Play contest and I've created a functional prototype that works. I've played it myself many times and my dad has played it with me 3 times. He likes it and is giving me some good feedback. Now, it's being tweaked and this is usually where I screw up a pretty good game. Hopefully, I can focus this time and make it work. It's just cards and about 50 of them. A simple game with plenty of different ways for cards to interact, including unique scoring cards in a unique sequence each game. We'll see where it goes.

Dane kicked my butt in Tumblin' Dice this week. We kept playing with the hopes that I could get a win, but I couldn't. He's got skill in getting those dice onto that bottom level.

I eeked out a game of Agricola: ACBaS this week again. We're calling it "Vegan Agricola" since you just raise the animals and don't eat them. That makes us chuckle anyway and this game is working for us.

Magical Athlete is still a favorite and I'm playing plenty of kids games as usual. There should be at least a few more involved games on the list next week. I have some new ones to play after Christmas too... we all do, right?
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17. Board Game: Legends of Andor [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:290] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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I wore my Cult of the New badge with pride last week. An opportunity to play the (unreleased in English) Legends of Andorra was too tempting to resist. It's a fantasy coop, distinguished by simplicity and Michael Menzels artwork ( he also designed the game). I think it's set to fire Defenders of the Realm when it hits the shops.

Homestretch is not going to replace Winners Circle as my go to horse racing game - it was enjoyable though with horse ownership and betting and wild dice rolls

Monster Factory is barely a game - you create a monster, carcassonne like, by laying tiles. The monsters looks cool. Fun for 6 year olds.

Ticket to Ride Map Pack 3 Heart of Africa adds another set of cards to the game - terrain cards which you can select like normal colour cards from the display and play to double the points when claiming a route - but only if you have the most or equal of that routes colour in terrain cards. It adds a level of admin and complexity ( not much) that the game does not need. Not as enjoyable as the first two Map Packs.

Boring old stuff ( only joking..)played included Innovation, archipelago, Agricola big and small


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18. Board Game: Game of the Year [Average Rating:4.60 Overall Rank:15173]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
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To keep us going until Paul's well enough to put his list up, what's your game of 2012?
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