GCL Phoenix 108 - Games and Metagames (27Jan2013)
Christopher Rao
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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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Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League.

If you're a regular visitor, please thumb this list so we know you're lurking, it's how we discover new friends. If you wandered here by accident, this link will tell you about us: GCL Phoenix

Phoenix Roster:
bennyd - next!
chally
Dormammu
Eeeville
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
Judoka
Lowengrin
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
Rynelf
Taibi
tjshields
topher
* (erstwhile, and hopefully future, members)
Bruzza
Johnrayjr
leroy43 (just added)
yoki
=========
Wikipedia sez:

Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.

In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.


Meta-games exist in our pastime whether we acknowledge them or not. If one of my buddies plays an auction game with me (pretty much any auction game), they'll know that my tendency is to overbid, and they exploit my weakness (as they should!).

There is, however, great debate amongst gamers about proper and improper metagaming. Some folks even say that all meta-gaming is inappropriate in all games, though I'm not even sure what this means.

This week we'll be talking about metagames.
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1. Board Game: The Metagame [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:3993]
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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Some types of metagaming are obviously inappropriate to most people ("I'll give you a ride home if you trade me three rocks for one sheep," "If you don't let me take back my move, I'll knock over the table," etc.).

But there are many squishy boundaries here. For example, saying "You have to let me take back that move because I let you take a move back on turn 3." is a metagame, is it not? For that matter, saying "If you play Archipelago with me, topher, I'll play Le Havre with you" is a true metagame.

One of my own pet peeves is the figurative kicking over the table by quitting a game if it doesn't go the way of a certain player. I consistently feel that this is inappropriate. And yet, in our group, we'll often let someone take back a particularly horrible move (sometimes mine!) if the consequence of that move is that the player will effectively be out of the game for the next few hours.

What are your own boundaries for what metagames are appropriate? Do you make exceptions for certain players in your play group?



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2. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:293] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
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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When I used to play Catan a lot, I explicitly and unapologetically metagamed like this: Early on in the game, when I really really needed something (say a brick to make it to a building spot before I got cut off), I'd make a vague deal like "If you give me the brick for a wheat, I'll give you a beneficial trade when you need one later in the game, whenever you need it."

A couple of times I even traded someone the card they clearly needed to win the game. That was the point. Everyone I played with knew that if they helped me when I needed it, I would be sure to pay the favor back with interest. No matter what. And, as it happens, I think that this in particularly helped me win a lot of games.

But at least guy I played with thought that such a deal was simply not kosher, on the grounds that any deal is verboten which leads to throwing the game for someone - that is, that every single you make in a game is predicated on the disclaimer "unless fulfilling this deal would allow you to immediately win the game." I think the reason the guy got irked is that I was very open about it. I'd even say sometimes "You know me, and you know that if you trade me the brick, I'll make it good, no matter what it takes."

In your game group, is this sort of explicit "banking" of perceived credibility acceptable or not? How come?
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3. Board Game: Tell Me No Lies [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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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In a Geeklist of game quotes a few years back, I included:

"But it was just a game, the man protested. Exactly, said the Texan. If you lie so easily in a game, imagine what you might do when there's real money at stake" - anecdote told by Roger Fisher, co-author of Getting To Yes

Do you believe this or not? Why? Does it make a difference where lying is explicitly allowed or at least encouraged by the rules, such as Advanced Civilization or Junta? What rules, implied or explicit, does your group have about this?
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4. Board Game: Nuclear Destruction [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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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What's the most interesting and/or uncomfortable situation you've been in because players were not on the same wave length about the metagame?

Mine happened in an area control game where a gamer (and very nice guy) attacked me after explicitly agreeing not to just 2-3 minutes earlier.

I shrugged and said "Well, now I know not to trust you in another game" (or something like that). At which point a third person took offense at what I'd said, the first guy said something like "well, it's just a game" only to have me amplify my comment to say that in my experience,there's a definite if imperfect correlation between someone's willingness to lie in a game and outside of a game.

Yeah, that didn't really help things, as I recall....

The thing is that I meant it. I mean if I was, for example, going to make a business deal for a few thousand dollars on a handshake with someone, how honest they were in-game would absolutely weigh into my comfort level in real life. Not only that, but I think that this is true for many people, whether they care to admit it or not. But maybe I'm wrong (really).

Interestingly, the guy who broke his commitment to me never did it again in the many years we played together after that. And hopefully, I didn't say anything so pointedly stupid like that again....
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5. Board Game: First Train to Nuremberg [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1409]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_5_ Girl Genius: The Works x1 New!
Learned and taught this to my boys. This is a fairly easy to learn card game with a good amount of randomness. Its based on a comic strip I like and the art is really nice. The gameplay is decent but not great. I think of this as a very casual game. I ended up winning with 103 to my oldest son's 49 and youngest son's 48, but I really am not sure how I got so far ahead of them. I think this will get occasional play for awhile with my kids, especially with my daughter once she learns it. I'm not sure I would inflict it on anyone else though unless they asked for it.

_7_ Filipino Fruit Market x1
Taught this to my wife and boys and played four rounds. Even though I explained scoring up front, they let me get away with early points to the fruit stands in the first two rounds, so even though I didn't win a lot of tricks I won overall with 64. My oldest son once more beat his brother 41 to 40, while my wife scored 30. The family liked this and I'm hoping it will get some rotation here at home.

_6_ Haggis x1 New!
Finally played a full game with my wife and youngest son. I had problems throughout and ended with 90. My son had 219 while my wife played strongly and won with 367.

_9_ First Train to Nuremberg x3 Kudos!
First play of the week was two players with oldest son and won 62 to 52.

Second play was four players. We set up for my wife, both boys and myself, but right before we started some friends came over. My oldest son dropped out to play with other kids and their mom E. joined us. My youngest son won with 32, I had 20 (losing a lot in the end), E. had 15 and my wife had 13.

The next day my wife, youngest son and I played again on the Wensleydale side of the board. This time I edged out my youngest son 41 to his 39 while my wife had 27.

It was good to play three times this week at different player counts. I think I like three players best, but two and four were both good too. Four may have took slightly too long, although part of that was E. being new to games in general. Two was fine but there's more potential for each person doing their own thing solitare style.

_5_ Ingenious x1
My daughter and youngest son joined me for this. I won with 11, my son 10, my daughter 9. She's starting to understand this game better and knows how to score but doesn't always find the best moves.

TRACK:

Tabled: 23 unplayed. (-Girl Genius, -Haggis, +Keythedral +Rails of New England)

Removed: 03 removed. (Say Anything, Kids of Carcassonne)
Acquired: 03 acquired. (Keythedral, Rails of New England)

Cultish: 02 worthy / 02 played.
Kudos: 01 achieved / 05 progress. (First Train to Nuremberg)

2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos
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6. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:9]
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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Typical week for me:

1830: Railways & Robber Barons x2
Terra Mystica x1
Fast Flowing Forest Fellers x1

I really need to buy FFFF - it's pretty much my favorite light racing game ... er, except the one I designed of course

I enjoy TM. It was my third play, and first time teaching the game at our local Sasquatch Game Day. I really enjoy the way the map develops, the asymmetrical racial abilities, and a lot of the mechanics. But I'm still bugged by the fact that there are several ways to do one thing, which I feel is inelegant. And the various ways to get victory points seems .... cluttered.

All in all, still a game I'll likely buy, for those non-XX times.

EDIT: Here's one thing I like about the game, found from Chally's comments.
chally wrote:
everything is necessary and nothing is quite sufficient.
Yes, this is cool. And all the various ways to score points are both kind of cool, and annoying cluttered. Can't decide what I think. Time will tell.
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7. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:292]
 
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Ben
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Ann Arbor
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Games Played:
_9_ Archipelago (x3)
_8_ Terra Mystica (x2)
_8_ Ginkgopolis (x3)
_6_ Qin
_6_ Love Letter


Just got back from a big gaming weekend in Boston. Will hopefully elaborate more. Lots of fun, and I won more than my fair share of games (I went undefeated in Archipelago and Terra Mystica.



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8. Board Game: Dungeon! [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:3561]
 
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Sam and I played the new reprint of Dungeon so he could discuss it on an upcoming podcast. WotC is probably lucky that I'm not on the podcast, as I don't have a very good opinion of it. We agreed that neither of us is the target audience. If you had young kids who wanted to roll some dice and kill some monsters, it would accomplish that, and at a price point that wouldn't make you cringe if something happened to the components (which are pretty weak, literally and figuratively. Cardboard standees with cardboard stands that kept falling off - plastic clips would be an improvement - and the tiny cards are really thin and cheap feeling).

It's pretty much a roll and move, except you don't roll to move, you have a movement allotment where you can move from room to room, Clue style, and in a room you fight monsters to gain treasure. The goal is to gain a certain amount of treasure, which varies depending on which class you are. If you roll higher than the needed number, you kill the monster and draw a random treasure card. If you don't kill the monster, he gets a chance to attack you. The rules make mention of different profiles for different classes, and different classes doing better in certain areas of the board, but those correlations seemed weak at best.

There were player aids pre-printed on the board, but sideways, whereas a tile would have been better, as it could be shared among the players.

Generally I thought that if they were going to go to the trouble of redesigning it, it could have been much better done in this day and age.

More musings than one play of a mediocre game probably deserves, but as it was my only play this week, I'm running with it.
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9. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:44]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_9_ Keyflower x2
_7_ Ascension: Storm of Souls x1
_6_ Suburbia x1 New to Me!


Expansions Used

_5_ Ascension: Immortal Heroes x1


The Gaming Week in Review

It was a fairly slow gaming week. Only four plays in all and Keyflower was two of them and one of them was our first three-player go at it. For this reason, I recognize it as my representative item of the week - even if Suburbia was the "new to me" item for the week. Well, that and I just enjoyed our two plays of it more than our learning game of Suburbia. I found the latter rather procedural with a lot of overhead for what is essentially a tile-laying game.

Although I rated it a "6" after one play, I suspect it will trend up as I get to know the tiles better and the maintenance (hopefully) becomes second nature. If not, I could see it leaving my collection fairly quickly - particularly after realizing yesterday that I'm pretty much out of space.


The Week Ahead

No plans as yet for the week. We'll probably have another go at Suburbia. S seemed to enjoy it more than me, but she has this thing for tile-laying (maybe from her childhood enjoyment of puzzles).

No new game purchases planned though I have been looking seriously at Pax Porfavor.
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10. Board Game: Fantail Handball [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Yesterday I watched Denmark being humiliated by Spain in the Handball World Cup finals. It seemed like they thought the tough part was over after the semi-final win over the (uptill then) excellent Croatia - hence the item for the week.



Games Played Week 4:
2x _8.4_ Innovation: Echoes of the Past
A double-session of our number one game. I won on both counts and both plays using Bioengeieering. The last time though through the dogma effect of other cards snowballing. Our first play had V. in the driver's seat but saw me luck out on Bioengineering an win by most leaves.

3x _7.8_ Kingdom Builder
3 plays of this abstract game that I have really taken to. We are getting more and more familiar with the mechanics and the tactics/ strategies of the game and certainly getting a feel for which abilities work great with certain scoring opportunities.

1x _8.2_ Jet Set w/ Distant Lands
I seem to be on a losing streak here. Great connections early on, but then following a windfall (mostly to V.) 3 long flights (and 17 points) came up for her.

At one point I did take money after a windfall (Vacation card) and it might have cost me the game. I did it because I intended to do so before and the card came up and then just did it without thinking. I lost by 1 point, but could have gotten 2 more by not taking money that round as I would have finished one round earlier.

shake

I really should not play when tired, nor be so down about it, it is only a game after all...

The Week Ahead:
V. has a birthday on Wednesday and the celebration was to have happened yesterday (as M. goes to his father tomorrow) but she has been in bed with the flu since Saturday and still is.

I hope come the weekend we might have more luck but of course health comes first. Instead I am going to start that High Frontier Colonization test I have been talking about as I have now printed the new cards.
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11. Board Game: Fresh Fish [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2089]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Perry Rhodan x 2

Taught this game to my neighbor over coffee last Tuesday. He enjoyed the game, and I like it quite a bit as a light, quick 2-player game. Not too heavy but not without some things to think about. The way the sun's gravitational pull affects movement always makes me smile, too.

Yggdrasil x 1

We finally won a 6-player game of this at the hobby shop, but we had to badly botch a rule to do so (despite my protests). Still, it was nice to play this one again. This game did have one player who likes to be the boss, but I do a pretty good job of ignoring him (even when I think his suggestions may be correct).

Keyflower x 1

Another 5-player game of Keyflower. I played much better this time and finished 4 points off the winner (53-49). I focused on getting lots of keyples in autumn which let me do a bunch of stuff in winter. One player had a tiny village, a shitpot of skill tiles and placed pretty well (45 points). Nice to see someone mix it up. This game is continuing to go over well at the shop.

Plato 3000 x 1


Typical play for my wife and I. She kicked my ass but I made it appear close by outscoring her 34-13 in the last round. She won 103-98.

Innovation ON THE INTERNET x 3


I played 3 games of Innovation online this week and lost badly in each game (including my first GCL ladder game). One against Jimmy and 2 against Benny.

Innovation w/Figures in the Sand x 1

Played another with the new expansion with my wife, and Figures is growing on me. The cards have a big impact on the game, but not too many of them come out over the course of play (so far, at least). This was one of those games where she had board advantage and I got an early lead and had to hang on and get creative in snagging that final achievement.

Fresh Fish x 1

After borking the rules in our first attempt, we played a second game with the right rules. I can see this one getting some traction with a couple of guys at the shop, and it helps that it plays pretty quickly. Kat said it wasn't her kind of game, and I expected that. Sometimes I ask her to be a guinea pig so I can learn how new games play. I'm an abusive spouse.

Pax StrawberryPopTarts x 0


I set the game up and spent about 45 minutes teaching the game to my wife before work yesterday. We didn't get close to finishing, but I wanted to give her an idea of how the game works. I sort of accomplished that, but the card distribution was the polar opposite of my first play; in that game there were many properties and we were flush with money (we ran out of money chips). In this game we didn't see a single property for the first 5 or 6 turns. Many of the cards and mechanisms are hard to explain without properties around, and in hindsight I probably should have stacked the deck a bit. I'm not sure it'll end up working out for us or not, but we'll give it another go when we get time. I think the game is pretty interesting, but I can see that getting it played with any regularity is going to be difficult for me. First world problems, I know.



In non-gaming news, I got my A+ certification this week and wrote my resume. A friend and former coworker who works in IT support called me (at work, appropriately) and told me that his company was hiring. Here's hoping.

Kat and I also reserved a hotel room for MittenCon - a small gaming con about 2 hours from us. It's in about 3 weeks, and I think we have someone to watch the kids so we can hopefully get away for a couple of days.
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12. Board Game: New Amsterdam [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1274]
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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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 26Jan2013:

12/35/35 plays of 10/26/26 total games, with 8/12/12 expansions employed.
Plays with 18/27/27 distinct opponents.

0/2/2 games acquired (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/2/2 games ordered (plus 0/1/1 expansions.)
Orders for 12 games and 3 expansions still outstanding.

With son #2:
1x _6.7_ Catan (with Seafarers and Cities & Knights) - True to form, we added another expansion this week. And amusingly, son #2 is as fond now of the Seafarers as son #1 was nine years ago (at a similar age.) Apparently, the lure of the Unexplored is strong in these young folk. He's getting a lot better at making good decisions, too - which gives me hope for...
2x _7.7_ Keyflower - His scores have been improving over our 4 plays. But mine have been improving faster: he's not looking to block me (at all!) which lead me to a (mock-)catastrophe of unexplored dynamics in my game later in the week. The game is much more interesting when all players are doing their best to stomp on one another.

With friends
1x _6.3_ Tsuro - Trivial and (apparently) amusing. The folk playing with my lovely wife and I are relative non-gamers, and seemed to enjoy themselves.
1x _7_ Ca$h 'n Gun$ - Daughter #1 played in this one, too. While tremendously inappropriate (in a variety of ways) it seems also to amuse the teen-and-early-twenties crowd. We had some fun with it here.
1x _8.5_ Wits & Wagers - Another instance of "the world's least irritating trivia game." The friends claimed (after the game, that) they didn't like trivia games, and that they did like this one. I find this a charming and friendly party game (and, of course, that means that it's not remotely appropriate for some settings.)
1x _6.7_ Kingsburg (with To Forge a Realm) - Different friend; different evening. I'd not played for a while, and was roundly toasted. Still, a few different rolls on one or two occasions and things could have come out quite differently. Amusingly, I was reflecting a few hours prior to playing this one how much the recent "do cool things with dice" games (Yspahan, Troyes, Seasons, Kingsburg, and even To Court the King have faded in my desire to play.) So while this was completely inoffensive, it's definitely not something I'm pushing to get to the table.

With the Wednesday Night guys:
1x _7.7_ Glory to Rome - Compared to RftG (which, barbarian that I am, I prefer by a substantial margin) this one seems frivolous and unstable to me. I felt I was trailing significantly in this game, but managed to Merchant a couple cards into my vault on the penultimate turn for ten VP and the win. (It was a pretty pathological game; my colleagues were primarily concentrating on building - or acquiring the Patron Set to complete a Forum win - and no-one (up to that point) had bothered with a Merchant action.) I can't claim that wasn't my plan all along; but, it still felt a bit unsatisfying.
1x _7.7_ Keyflower - Tremendously lovely (and quite long!) game with 5p. The guys embraced the possibilities, and messed with one another throughout. A much more dramatic (and entertaining) game than the ones I'd previously played with my children (who mostly get out of each others' way.)

With the back-on-Fridays gamers:
1x _7.7_ Peloponnes (with a few expansions - the last of which was New!) - I'd not played this for a little while, so it was lovely to give it another shot. Fun to try the Goats (they're amusing; more than I'd expected, too: but they drag the game perilously close to that Carcassonne-like cliff where I can't remember all the rules to all the expansion bits that are hanging out in the box.) It again took me about 40% as much time to explain as we took to play; perhaps I can inflict this on the guys again soon, so that they won't need a rules refresher.

At BAP with Dave, Aliza, John and Erich:
1x _8_ New Amsterdam New! - Despite the fact that I only gave this an _8_, I'm making this my headliner for the week. I found myself thinking about "what might I have otherwise done" for a couple days now after the game: moreover, despite the fact that I think I might have great difficulty getting it to the table reliably, I've felt tempted to order a copy of the North American printing whenever it might become available. I found the game impressively unforgiving; the choices hard; the dynamics appealing.
I suspect that playing with a table - like my Wednesday Night guys (though they wouldn't necessarily enjoy this at all!) - where plays are customarily made for delta score alone (rather than maximum score) might make this still more amusing. There's a certain temptation to "score maximally" at times; but arranging things so that others can score less (or that costs for others increase) was something that I felt (in retrospect) we'd explored imperfectly.
1x _8.5_ Here I Stand (with 2p Diplomacy Deck New!) - Just Erich for this one. I find the game particularly evocative of a totally cool period of history: I get sucked in to the theme easily. We got a few things wrong (on this, our first shot with the 2p Diplomacy Deck) but I'm looking forward to trying this again (and I'll review the rules before the play, as well; that'll only help.)

Owned-and-unplayed: 16 (+0/-0)

Outlook for the week: Not oncall this week, so I'll hope to get in some gaming on Wednesday Night. Might get in another Keyflower play with son #2 (and nearly certainly some Catan.) I'm hoping to play Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small with daughter #1 later in the week, too.
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13. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:46]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

.10! Hanabi 8
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 28
_8_ Automobile 1
_8_ Caylus 1

Week in Review

It was another prerelease weekend for the newest Magic set, so that was the big part of my gaming this week.

I did get a good night in on Wednesday, in which I taught Automobile to 4 new players followed by Caylus to 2 of the same players. Both were good, tight games.

High-quality week of gaming.
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14. Board Game: Antike Duellum [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1034]
Daniel Kenel
United States
New London
Iowa
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Week in Review

With Tori

Khmer x1
I finally manage to get a win against Tori. She has utterly owned me to this point. Khmer has quickly become a favorite game for us when we only have 10-15 minutes.

Castles of Burgundy x1
I was really glad to return to this game since it proved to be rather popular in our 2 prior plays. We had to do a rules refresh as it had been a while since we played but we were up and playing rather quickly.

Tori rushed out to a quick lead as I focused on getting some mines and a couple of nice special yellow tiles. That allowed me to put on a big rush in the last ½ of the game and cruise by her for the win by about 25 points. What are typical scores in a 2-player game?

With Tori and the kids

Mice and Mystics x1
We continued our quest with chapter 6. Our mission was to defeat the Old Crow in the courtyard with the aid of the mean tomcat of the castle, Brodie. We failed miserably.

Chapter 6 amps up the difficulty of the game with both harder random encounter cards and simply more nasty creatures to defeat. We made it to the final tile but lost when we had a surge, which pushed us up the time track to the chapter end. Next time.

With Michael

Antike Duellum x2
Tim was on my mind a lot during this game and I’m certain he was smiling down at our gaming table. I’m also rather certain he was shaking his head and disgusted by some of the rookie mistakes we were no doubt making. This was the last game Tim and I discussed and I’m happy to say that he steered me the right way with it.

The game is very streamlined and easy to jump into after spending just a few minutes reading the 6 pages of rules. The rules get the hell out of the way quickly and allow you to really match wits with your opponent.

The main mechanic is a rondel that features 3 resource production spaces (marble, iron, gold), 3 spaces associated with utilizing each resource (build temples, arm military recruit military/advance knowledge) and 2 military spaces (move/fight). You pick a space on the rondel each turn followed by founding new cities at the cost of 1 each of the 3 types of resources and then claim any VP earned that turn.

There are a few different ways to earn VP in the game: every 5 cities you found, every 3 temples you build, destroying an enemy temple, controlling 7 sea spaces, and advancing on the knowledge track, Its simply a race to 9 VP by accomplishing any combination of these VP conditions.

In our first game I focused on building temples so that I could start cranking out mega amounts of resources as they triple resource production for where they are located. I used this to gain gold and advance up the knowledge track quickly. I won the majority of my 9 VP by building temples and advancing on the knowledge track while Michael was working on military more. It just took him a tad too long to get them cranking before I could end the game.

In our second game we basically flipped strategies. I was able to be a bit more efficient in pushing an early military strategy while Michael was saving resources to build temples. I was constantly using up all my resources and just building out a ton of cities but no temples. I got to 8 VP and Michael had switched to block my military just before I was to claim my 20th city and win.

However, I had the lead by 2 points over him and had time to switch gears to some quick resource production in order to crank out 3 temples for the win.

Polis x1
Polis is a rather stark contrast to Antike Duellum. First off, the rules are a bit mangled to figure out and have several easily missed steps as we discovered in our 2 plays. The game is an absolute brutal grind it out affair. I ended up feeling like the game was kicking me in the balls harder than my opponent was most of the time.

So one person plays as Sparta and the other as Athens. You win by having a higher combination of population and earned prestige points. The game is a blend of a wargame with direct conflict both by land and sea as well as some extremely tight resource management.

You need military to expand and take over new populations. However, to build that military you take them from the population in your polis and thus reduce your VP. That is a bit rough but it doesn’t stop there. You then need to use some resources (iron – hoplites, wood – ships) to arm that military of course. In order to get those resources you have to tax a polis, which takes 1 prestige point and thus reduces your total VP. Let me not forget to mention you can only tax each polis once each round (4 rounds total in the game) and if you use it get iron then you are missing out on other valuable resources. Now you want to actually use that military to move around and fight? Well that also takes another prestige point. Get the point? Simply brutal. I’ll not even get into the silly siege rules and how much of a bitch it is to lose a siege due to a d4 die roll and lose all the VP I just described for nothing.

I’m a bit concerned about the game becoming scripted. You have to use wheat at the end of each round to feed your population (1 wheat per population point). Thus the game is really focused on a fight for wheat. Sparta has a couple of areas that produce a lot of wheat while Athens doesn’t. However, Athens has greater naval power and thus can control trade routes. They can use the trade routes to then trade off other resources for wheat. Thus I can see Sparta always trying to lock up their 2 wheat-producing areas while Athens locks up the sea-lanes for trading purposes. If Sparta can maintain the 2 high producing wheat areas I don’t see Athens standing a chance. Granted this could easily be the lack of experience on my part and I’m missing some other possibilities but it sure seems like the direction the game naturally pushes you.

Both my opponent and I found the game to be an exhausting experience. The glowing comments and ratings on Polis by others have left me a bit baffled. Maybe I’m really just missing it but I don’t see myself devoting more time to it when I have so many other great 2-player games that are demanding table time and just feel like a more rewarding experience.

Sekigahara x1
This was another amazing session. Michael and I have now logged 6 plays of Sekigahara against each other. I have played as Ishida the last 3 games and managed to win all 3….barely.

This session I played very aggressive as Ishida and brought out some Mori blocks for a quick attack in rounds 1 and 2. Michael was able to beat me back effectively which really put me in a significant hole. At one point I had lost 10 blocks to his 2.

Rounds 3-5 saw Michael take 2 of my castles and put a push on toward my capital. However, he stalled out a bit on a couple of sieges which gave me some time to recruit some more units and get myself back into position to launch some attacks the last 2 rounds.

I managed a crushing win in the south taking a castle followed by 2 big wins in the north and taking 2 more castles. That proved to be enough to offset the 2 castles I lost earlier in the game as I ended up with a 3 point win.

Another extremely tense game that featured some dramatic battles and swings of fortune. I’ve raised my rating to a 9 after our last 2 sessions.

Khmer x1
I introduced Michael to Khmer and I believe he feel in love. He gushed over the beauty of the game and said he would love to have the cards framed as a decoration. They are rather cool. I warned him that he would have a hell of a time finding the game and he didn’t believe me till he spent the next 15 minutes searching online for it with no luck.

With Tori and Michael

Pala x1
Thrilled to teach Michael this mind bending little trick-taker. I really would love to get it to the table more often as I’m just horrible at it. Dave, have you played this one? I can’t help but think you might enjoy it.

Love Letter x2
A most pleasant way to end the night after a day full of some intense games. I am so glad we are only playing to 2 tokens of affection now. That abbreviated playing time just feels right for what the game offers.

Online

Tigris & Euphrates x 1 (with Tom, John and Martin)
I am really enjoying getting in some plays of T&E with this group. Martin has just owned us so far but Tom was so close to pulling this one off. This is a great group to unravel the layers of a game with. I so wish we could share a beer and a discussion about each session afterwards.

Innovation x2 (with Tom and John)
I was thrilled to also get some plays of Innovation in this week after logging only 1 play in the last 18 months. The shame. Of course I was totally owned in both games but I had an absolute blast. I’m looking forward to getting some more plays in and hopefully getting to the point of actually knowing some of the cards.
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15. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game: The Lost Legion Expansion [Average Rating:8.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.83 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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Mage Knight - 6 (within the past 2 weeks)

Since getting Lost Legion I've played it about 6 times in the past 2 weeks or so. I've played some solo conquest games, 1 coop game, 1 competitive blitz, and finally Volkare's Quest (the one where he heads towards the portal). I think the best thing about the expansion is the both the extra monster tokens and extra cards for each deck. I'm not overly fussy on the new hero but maybe it's just my play style clashing with how she plays.

Re-learning Mage Knight was a bit difficult which resulted in some long games but things have been speeding up. I have been enjoying it but I'm still not sold on solo gaming. I think the fact that I have no access to my computer has been part of the reason I've been playing so much.

That's about it for now until I can get back onto a home PC. Not sure how long that will be as I'm still troubleshooting.
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16. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Brass x1
T&E x2
Innovation x1
Neos x18

A recent excursion into T&E has been a thrill. I have Martin, DJ, and John to thank for an intense learning crucible. I'm fascinated by the game & it surged back into my top ten. Martin is the master and is schooling us generously.

DJ took me to the wall in Innovation and had a win had he Refridgerated on the last move. In very few plays he gets it, the nasty bastard. Since most my internet stuff is on an iPad, I struggled with the interface and haven't joined the Innovation on-line love fest, but I think a laptop will take care of those quirks so I think I'll wander into this at some point in the near future.

Brass is the start of a new table with DJ, Michael, and Joel, and I hope we continue the ride because it's a new metagame with them and another tough table of fresh tricks and a particularly Iowan spin on the lovely nastiness the game breeds.

My participation must lighten, I'm sorry I'm late and I'll try to catch up if I can. Work has me buried for the immediate future, though I am gaming and I'll make my local meet-up on Saturday. At work we're ramping up for a Bond election in about two weeks. Being ready for that election, both professionally and personally, will soak up the sort of energy I usually put into us. Plus some personal life (good!) stuff is drawing my energy.

Power Struggle arrived and I bagged on of the last copies of Metropolys I could find on-line, thanks to many of you. And I'm excited that a copy of South African Rails will head to me soon, hopefully to supplement the gaming with Ben in the next month. Thanks for putting this on my map, Dave.
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17. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:597]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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In the past few weeks we've seen an exodus from GCL Phoenix with Roger, Kurt, Judit and Yoki all leaving. I'd like to begin a discussion here about what (if anything) we should do. Some of you may prefer to take parts of this to private geekmail, which is fine by me. I'm also fine having the talk out in the open (obviously). Discussion of specific BGG members should still take place in private.

Options that come to mind in no particular order:

- Add new members. Honestly, most of my BGG time is spent right here so I don't have any candidates off the top of my head. Most of the BGG regulars I know are either in GCL phoenix or another GCL. Some new blood would be nice.

- Disperse. I don't see this happening, but it's an option. I'd probably try to catch on with another GCL if this happened.

- Carry on as we are. There are still 13 of us, so no big deal.

- I was going to suggest merging with one of the smaller GCL's, then checked and realize none seem to be all that small. So nix that one.

Discuss!
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