GCL Meatball Division: Knock knock!
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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This is the weekly geeklist for the Swedish Meatball GeekChat League! Only members are to add items (please add your weekly games played), but civil comments from non-members are welcome.

Rotation:
NateStraight (up next)
Patrick Carroll
ellephai
johnbandettini
Osirus
ldsdbomber
cymric
fateswanderer
DarrinWilliams
baditude
rarevos
qwerytmartin
Sorp222
lacxox
aaarg_ink
Jugular
bnordeng
Bolger

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We are now at a point where we know each other fairly well. We know what kind of games most of us tend to like, or at least have some vague idea about that.

But what would you do if one of us suddenly knocked on your door, eager to play a game? What game would you pick from your collection?

As a visitor we would all of us be much too polite to suggest something of course, so it would be totally up to you as the host to suggest something, based on what you think the other person's gaming tastes are. Let's also take for granted that you have a perfect compliment of gamers available, so if you want to suggest a game that works best for a certain amount/type of players, you have the perfect group for that.

Now, there is of course also the possibility that you will NOT suggest a game that you know the other person will like, but rather suggest something out of his comfort zone and try to get him over to your side. devil

So, all of us have one item here, and all of us should try to suggest one game out of our collection for each item (your own, not the target's collection). Don't stress about this though, I know that there will be many entries so if you don't answer everything that is fine. The target for each item should also give feedback to tell us if the choice was good or not! You might want to wait a little bit with that though, so that you don't help the users that have not answered yet. And try not to cheat by looking up the other members ratings!

So, what game would you suggest if...
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1. Board Game: Martini: the Game [Average Rating:4.30 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Martin (qwertymartin) knocked on your door?
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2. Board Game: John Silver [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:5790]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...John Bandettini (johnbandettini) knocked on your door?
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3. Board Game: John Carter: Warlord of Mars [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:6377]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...John (rarevos) knocked on your door?
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4. Board Game: Poetic Justice [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Justus (aaarg_ink)knocked on your door?
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5. Board Game: Bomber [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:9884]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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... Lee (ldsdbomber) knocked on your door?
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6. Board Game: Fate of Heroes [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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... Andrew (fateswanderer) knocked on your door?
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7. Board Game: Hungarian Nightmare [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:9241]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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... Laszlo (lacxox) knocked on your door?
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8. Board Game: Svenskt brädspel [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Brad (bnordeng) knocked on your door?
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9. Board Game: George of the Jungle [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...George (Jugular) knocked on your door?
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10. Board Game: The Journeys of Paul [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:10573]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Paul (Sorp222) knocked on your door?
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11. Board Game: Osiris [Average Rating:4.76 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Seth (Osirus) knocked on your door?
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12. Board Game: The Dutch Golden Age [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:3292]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Maarten (cymric) knocked on your door?
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13. Board Game: Quiz to go: Martin Luther [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Darrin (DarrinWilliams) knocked on your door?
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14. Board Game: Erynie [Average Rating:2.67 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Eryn (Baditude) knocked on your door?
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15. Board Game: Snoopy Come Home [Average Rating:4.68 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Nate (NateStraight) knocked on your door?
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16. Board Game: A Christmas Carol [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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...Patrick (Patrick Carroll) knocked on your door?
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17. Board Game: Sweden Fights On [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:2954]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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... Henrik (Bolger) knocked on your door?
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18. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:111]
Andrew
Japan
Tokyo
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I'll be boring and Hansa Teutonica again. Played 4p, and uncharacteristically I was the action-leader, taking 4 actions, gently preventing others from following, and then going to 5 actions. However I felt strangely powerless - I lacked any privileges, and the veteran player (my nemesis from previous weeks, once again sitting to the left of the newbie!) was specifically targeting me throughout the game - overbuilding my cities, averting others from displacing my merchants, blocking my routes, and pushing the game clock by rushing the bonus markers. Of course it was all sort-of legitimate, as I beat him again by 2VP!

The openness of the 4p board made displacements less common, led to fewer pieces on the board at a time, and sped the game clock. This helps me understand a past 4p game where my obstructionist tactics failed completely and the game ended far earlier than I expected.

I skirted cube shortage in the middle of the game, and arrived at 5 actions with just a few bonus markers left to go. I found myself replenishing (with the pathetic 3-bag) almost every turn, scrambling for points, hoping not to get overbuilt, and for the game not to end. Eventually, I took the last bonus marker - if the game had gone a turn longer, my HT nemesis would have taken the black Coellen slot and won (I'm not sure why he didn't do it a turn earlier...). Comically, he missed out on the tie because he was overbuilt (for non-bash-the-leader or bash-the-veteran reasons) on the last turn. So I narrowly won, but I didn't feel in control of the game.

After that brain-bruising ordeal, we moved on to games of Rooster Booster and Blokus Trigon. I won the first (we played 1 round only) via a lucky draw, and lost on the tiebreak in the second.

I also tried out Innovation on Isotropic and beat my friend for the very first time! The online format takes care of the tedious setup and icon-counting - I might even come to enjoy the game, which I was lukewarm on face-to-face.
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19. Board Game: Hab & Gut [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:992]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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A bit of a quiet week as I was ill for a couple of days in the middle.

Thursday: at friends' place

Zooloretto - second play for me and first for Sarah. As I wrote in my 'new to you' entry this month: I would most likely rate this higher if Coloretto did not exist. But it does, and I find it superior in all respects except the cute-factor of the animals. Coloretto has just as many tough decisions, an easier-to-read board state, a shorter play-time and fewer distractions from the game's excellent core mechanic. Sarah likes the babies though, so I guess this is a keeper

Friday - my first Friday night LoB, nice relaxed atmosphere and more drinking than normal!

Army of Frogs - multiplayer abstract by the Hive designer with a lot of similarities. Seemed less good though and I wouldn't rush to play again.

Tigris & Euphrates - I'd just finished teaching Cosmic Encounter when I got offered a swap into a Tigris table who all knew the game. Much as I love Cosmic, no way I was turning that down! It was a brilliant, aggressive game that I just sneaked thanks to getting an extra turn over everyone else. After several online games recently, it felt almost dizzyingly fast!

Hab & Gut - my second play of this stock market game and it turns out to be way better with 4 than 5. It's Sacksonian in its elegance and dryness, and had a hilarious conclusion when the clear leader wasn't quite generous enough and was elminated letting me win instead

6 nimmt! - just one hand before the others moved onto the Resistance and I went home.

Sunday: friends (the same ones as Thurs) at our place

Dobble - a few fun rounds

Love Letter x2 - a big hit with these guys. Also featured the first tied round I've seen so far.

Liar's Dice - always great fun with these guys.



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20. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:37]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Last Wednesday I had the best gaming evening of the month with 3 games.
First we played The Palaces of Carrara, my copy. As usual, it started slow and became very tense by the second half of the game. Now we played the advanced version and after this I’m going to play the family version only when playing with beginners – the advanced one made the game a lot more interesting with conflicting aims and so on. The family one was very straightforward and not bad, but this game got really interesting (I guess a lot depends on the aim cards of course). And as I played with gamers they insisted playing their first game with the advanced version – so I won easily even if I had some sub-optimal choices in the last three turns, losing 17 points this way…

Then we played Oddville which is a lesser game but still was fun for a 35-minute game. To quote my new to me geeklist entry,
Quote:
An odd little game, not necessarily the most elegant one even if it’s relatively simple and very fast. It’s a kind of hodgepodge of ideas from several different games, the card placement of Saboteur, the reward system of Blue Moon City and so on. I’m not sure the game is perfectly balanced and I’m almost sure it’s quite shallow, even if you can learn some strategies and good combinations of the action cards. While the artwork is a bit confusing (overcrowded in a King’s Gate way, also the multipliers can be mistaken with the symbols they multiply etc.), the game plays in 30 minutes and for this length it’s quite enjoyable and also feels different from any other game however derivative it might be.

Then I wanted to leave but suddenly 3 players opened the box of Tzolk'in and I thought I might jump in. Here I’m also going to quote my new to me entry, but then have a question to those meatballs who have already played the game.
Quote:
Yes, in some aspects even I know I’m unfair to this game. It seems to be a well-developed game. But it was such a letdown... Because however cool it looks, it's a very typical excel sheet game (manipulating columns with values until you get the most points possible).
As for the wheels: as a mechanism, they are columns made more usable. I mean, they are simply spectacular forms of columns (the game would also work if you pushed each worker down by one in a column at the end of each turn). So I don't call this a very interesting mechanism, even though it's more usable than columns and looks cool. So what is the interesting part of the mechanism? To me, it's that you EITHER put some workers there OR you take your workers off (and do the actions). This is interesting. But that's it.
The rest is something you can expect from a designer who knows and loves Agricola and Caylus. Nothing really new: familiar ideas (favor track from here, feeding your workers from there, building boring buildings, going up some tracks that score you points and give some in-game benefits), multiple ways to win, also I'm sure it's well-developed and well-balanced, only... I just felt I don't really care.
Besides the lack of interesting ideas, what I really missed was some sense of theme here. You get different looking markers but this game is not more thematic, than, say, Keltis. Agricola has lots of theme. Caylus has theme and cool mechanism ideas. Goa has a great central mechanism. Even Shipyard (another Czech game with lots of rondels, some of which always changes what actions are available for you and what aren’t) has a lot more theme and moving your ships on the river. And I’d play even Shipyard over Tzolk’in again any time. For this complexity a game needs some more theme to remain interesting and entertaining, not to mention some fresh ideas connected to the different scoring possibilities.
So no, I didn’t fall in love with Tzolk’in, however much I wanted to.

As I think this game is rather overrated, I checked the Geekbuddy analysis and found you have also rated it rather high. What makes it so special for you? Is the wheel part spectacular enough to make it feel different? Or you enjoy finding the different strategies, however themeless and uninventive the action possibilities are? Or… why? Convince me, I’d like to like Tzolk’in more than I do.


Out of habit I bought some new games in the last day of the month (see Do I even play the games I buy this year? Lacxox's Bought and played in 2013), and while I didn’t think I would have lots of time to play them with my wife in the weekend, I still read the rules of each of them. Then, just out of curiosity I played Elfer Raus! Das Brettspiel against myself (it seems to be a variant on Wolfgang Kramer’s Elfer Raus! Master with some further tinkering with the rules) in one night and wanted to take some pics about Rondo on Sunday. But then my son asked me how it is played and I told him and we played. Whenever I saw that he’s attempting a sub-optimal placement I helped him find the best possibilities - and in the end he won. And in the afternoon he said he would like to play the other side of the board as well and he won again. The game looks good, is simple enough (when Saci saw us playing she expressed interest in playing it herself) but right now I’d say it’s rather shallow as well. It’s definitely not the Keltis of 2012 even though it looks like the publisher tries to position it so (it really looks like an abandoned Keltis spin-off prototype with the 5 colors, the flowery forms shown on the tiles and the four player markers that, I think, have no other reason to be white, black, grey and brown just like the Keltis markers). But I need to play it against my wife to really know. Until then, I have still written my impressions on Knizia’s 2012 games here: 2012 – Reiner Knizia and his variations on mass market-friendly tile laying
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21. Board Game: Pack & Stack [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1631]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Well I did get a little bit of gaming in on Friday, all a bit lighter because we had a couple friend join us for game night.

Started with a 7P game of Bohnanza which was pretty awesome, its a little hard to explain to non-gamers, but once you get moving it really starts to work and three rounds gives people plenty of time to make up for a mistake in the first couple turns.

Then a game of Word on the Street which is fun but really not that good of a game. It just stalls at the end. A decent word-party game but really not on my list of games I'd want to play again.

And Atlantic Star which is a lovely little game. I really did not like it my first couple plays and I suspect its best with 6P but after repeated plays, I've really, really come to enjoy the tense experience that it provides.

I also roped my GF into a 2P game of Condottiere which as the Geek says really isn't that good 2P, but was still an interesting experiment espsecially since I was feeling out the original rules. I feel that there is a good 2P game hiding there under the components. I suspect the FFG changes do not improve the game though they don't necessarily ruin it either...will have to try with more players.

And finally just packed up all my games. It was time to do some cleaning. So after some serious packing, I've got 8 boxes of games....not bad, it was one full completely packed Gorm shelf of stuff so getting it condensed was pretty good (lots and lots of games nested within games, and more than a few non-perfect inserts in the trash).

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22. Board Game: Kingdom Builder: Nomads [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_.8_. The Castles of Burgundy - 2 Players
_.8_. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - 2 Players
_.8_. Mr. Jack - 2 Players
I7.5I Kingdom Builder: Nomads - 4 Players (x2); 2 Players
I7.5I Forbidden Island - 2 Players
I7.5I Survive: Escape from Atlantis! - 4 Players
I7.5I Loopin' Louie - 4 Players (x3)
I7.5I Duck, Duck, Bruce - 2 Players
_.7_. FlowerFall - 2 Players (x2)
_.7_. Batik - 2 Players
_.7_. Magical Athlete - 4 Players
_.7_. Gulo Gulo - 3 Players (x1); 2 Players (x1)
_.7_. Klondike - 3 Players
I6.5I Sleeping Queens - 5 Players
I6.5I Tumblin-Dice - 4 Players
I6.5I Eyes of the Jungle - 2 Players
_.6_. Animal Upon Animal - 3 Players
I5.5I Ave Caesar - 5 Players
I5.5I Mummy's Treasure - 2 Players
_.5_. Beep! Beep! - 4 Players


A lot of lighter and kids stuff. We're getting more games played with all 5 of us at the table and that's good. Also, I played more games with all 3 kids this week than normal; also good.

(1) Agricola: All Creatures, Mr. Jack - My dad and I played these one night and they are a couple of nice 2 player games. I won All Creatures with 50 points, my best score yet... scores have gone up every game. And, he stayed hidden as Jack... I screwed that up, but he made some clever moves to keep hidden.

(2) Kingdom Builder: Nomads - So, I'm coming around on this game more and more, John. I'm still not in love with it, but I'm pretty happy to play it at any time. Nomads is an excellent addition to the game. Interesting enough, but not game-shattering. My brother received this for Christmas and I played it with him and my dad. My brother and I both thought Citizens was a low-value scoring card (and it kind of is), but then watched two games get decided by Citizens.

(3) Flowerfall - Nice recommendation Martin. I've just got a few two player games in, but I can see this one working well with all 5 in the family. Kind of an odd mix of dexterity (kind of) and area majority, but it actual seems to work.

(4) Castles of Burgundy - Marie beat me by 2. Close game which made it even better. I had a big lead the whole way, but she scored a bunch on yellow tiles at game end.
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23. Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:423]
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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Tigris & Euphrates x3 (all 4p)
Age of Steam (3p, Four Corners map)
1989: Dawn of Freedom
Slither


I'm going to be a bit of a tease and add my comments later. Got a few work things that need tending to.

----------------------

ADDED LATER:

To start with, I played a few games of T&E. Lost them all (two to a Martin-Tom-DJ opposition, and one to a Martin-Lee-Laszlo opposition), and the final game was the worst T&E I've ever played, and I'll include my very first game there. Onward.

I've been playing Slither against George at littlegolem, and it's a game I'm veeeeeerrrrryyyyy slllllllooowwwwllllyyyyy starting to learn better. I've already lost two 9x9 games to George, and we have since moved on to 13x13, and our current game of that is a bit more sporting, so I think there's hope that I'm learning.

To kind of assist me, Friday I played a lot of Hex against the Hexy AI. On the Beginner level. At least 20 times, because that's when the free preview ran out and I needed to register. I lost every game. Then I played 4x4 Hex maybe a dozen times. I lost there too.

The AI always swapped--always--and that annoys me. Not that it doesn't have the right to, but if you pretty much always swap unless the opening move automatically gives initiative to the 2nd player, what's the point? It seems to be a game in which the start player must deliberately hand initiative to the second player, and then the first thing he needs to do is get it back. And I don't understand how to do that, so I am backpedaling from the very first move in this game, and that makes it doubly hard to learn the game, because you're not trying to make offensively "strong moves" right away, you're just trying to not fall any more behind, and that sucks from a learning perspective.

There are occasionally moments when I understand why fighting over a certain area of the board is no longer a good idea; usually because of a bridge move, that path is already claimed, or a forming ladder makes it clear that a certain region is a lost cause. And at that point, it's necessary to move to another location and establish some kind of dominance. At least I get that much, even if I don't always get the best move to actually pull that off.

Anyway, I feel the same way about Slither. There's an intelligence about the game that comes from playing it a lot and envisioning exactly how and why a detached piece is only exhibiting the illusion of being detached. I don't have that yet, but some of the thought you need to do is similar to what you do in Hex, so unless there's a Slither AI out there somewhere, any Slither practice I get will be by playing Hex.

In Hex, I'd be floundering and in survival mode--and feel it--for good at about the third move. So I don't get connection games at all, at least not immediately, and maybe not even after a reasonable amount of plays. At one point with Hex I just hit the Hint button from the very beginning and I still lost. Hardcore abstract players might really dig Hex, but it's frustrating as fuck. Slither, on the other hand, isn't as frustrating, and that, friends, is how I know a game has grabbed me in a good way: "Wow, this game is deep and not as frustrating as Hex." Again, don't ever ask me to blurb your game.

Now, 1989. WAAAAAAY out of my comfort zone. Back in December I randomly hooked up with a local gamer who was looking to play Age of Steam. This guy:

tom moughan
United States
Rochester
New York
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We played AoS in December, then immediately scheduled the next game. So Saturday he came down to my house with the plan of 2p 1989 and 3p AoS once my neighbor showed up.

Pause. According to Gmail's gchat log, the following transpired between myself and a certain Mr. Griffiths at about 10:30 in the morning on Friday:

Quote:
10:27 AM me: Here's my initial thought, and I'll see how closely my final thoughts align to it.
  a.) I think I will probably seriously dislike the minigame
  b.) I will probably like the option of playing a card with an event that my opponent might take advantage of
10:28 AM c.) I am unlikely to enjoy the die roll thing on the sidebar, whatever it's called
  d.) I will probably enjoy the "choke points" where cities/ideologies all connect through one area
  that needs to be controlled
 Martin: makes sense
10:29 AM I don't know if 'like' is the right word for b) though. it's more like horrific gruelling tension, but in a good way

So those were my predictions. How'd I do? Ahem:

A.) I didn't dislike the minigame, but I'm not sure I loved it, right off the bat. I was expecting the military card game from Sid Meier's Civilization (which I've never been shy about declaring my hatred for), so the fact that it plays very differently is a big positive for me. It still feels a bit detached from the rest of the game, even though your actions elsewhere dictate how many cards you draw for the power struggle cardgame part. However, I haven't at all learned how to manage the cards in the power struggle, so the jury is still out.
B.) The hand management portion of 1989 is huge, and I can't see a new player grasping that on their first play. I understood a lot of what I was doing on the first turn (this is independent of how smart those moves were), and loved the Stasi card, among others. My second turn saw me with a hand mostly of Democratic cards, and I had to do a lot of triaging to see what events I could live with giving him, so I had to think about what cards to try and bury, and that's not easy your first time through a game. There's definitely an Innovation-ish component to this game, where you can deliberately play an event that your opponent can not fully capitalize on because another card/event is not in play or has left the game. There's a lot to explore here.
C.) Breaking: I do not like dice. At least in the power struggle there's a value to your played card that you have to roll against, and there's a decision to whether/when you play a high value card as a reaction or when you gain initiative and can lead.
D.) I didn't actually "get" this part of the game until it was too late, as Tom had the Poland scoring card in his hand and scored it toward the end of Turn 1. So...that kind of snuck up on me, and I stood no chance in the resulting power struggle over Poland. But otherwise, yes, the choke points are cool. We had some contested areas in Hungary for the next turn, and I liked that. There was a bit of back-and-forth where we were sort of nibbling away at SPs in certain areas, losing majority influence, gaining it back, focusing in a Battleground area for a second, moving back. Neat element.

Overall, I kind of liked 1989, and I was pretty spot-on in my prediction, I think. Yes, there's randomness, and yes, that's not something I typically like. But it's also pretty clear that the stronger player will win, and that's important to me. I played as the Communists, and there were a few things I now know to do differently next time (I committed to playing it again). There were times when I felt like I was making the "least bad" decision because of my hand of cards, and there were times I could make a strong move because my remaining cards were all red. In other words, I greatly need to recalibrate my "don't tell me what I'm allowed to do, game" reaction to this level of randomness. One funny thing that happened, though: I gambled during the power struggle over Hungary by upping the odds (i.e., discarding three cards) because I had two wilds I couldn't use. But it turns out the third card I discarded could have won me that struggle, even though Tom had more cards. Whoops.

Finally, Age of Steam was 3p on the Four Corners map. This was the second time I played this map, and I like it. It's listed as a beginner map, but I'm not sure how right that is; the early game felt exactly the same as every other Age of Steam game (this is a good thing), in that you never have enough money to do anything and you trip and fall on your face right out of the gate. So the twist with this map is that when you deliver cubes, you keep them in front of you and once you collect four different colors, you cash them in and move up 4 spaces on the income track. It adds a few neat choices to the mid- and end-game. For one, we found ourselves choosing between a 2-link and a 4-link cube toward the end, and choosing the 2-link purely because that would give us a fourth color and a big leap. It also was quite fun making sure the next guy to move a cube couldn't complete a set of 4 different colors on this turn, so the Move Goods First action was nicely contested. And the map is nicely separated, as well: all the purple cities are in the NW, all the yellow are in the NE, all red are SW, and all blue are SE. Yellow, btw, are surrounded by mountains. So urbanizing early is key, particularly the yellow city and at least one black city, otherwise, you're waiting a looooong time before someone punches into the mountainous NE quadrant to deliver yellow cubes and get the 4 cube bonus. Anyway, Tom won, I placed second by 6 or 7 points, my neighbor was behind me by maybe that same amount. We were already talking about the next game before this one was even over, so my hope to play AoS at least a dozen times in 2013 is looking pretty good so far.
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24. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:149] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Had a local friend over to play some Zeddemore Format, which was fun as always. We played a bit with constructed decks as well, but although I won 6 of 7 of those games, I still much prefer playing Zeddemore format.

Got in a game of Merkator with my partner, and won by filling a 10-contract. I still have no idea of strategy in this game.

Jay Sachs
United States
Woodinville
Washington
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has returned to the area and although his freetime remains limited, I managed to catch him for an evening, where he brought over Lancaster to teach us. In spite of having seen many of you Londoners playing it, it wasn't really on my radar. So we gave it a go 3-player.

Well, I thought it was an interesting game. Basically does everything that I feel like In The Shadow of the Emperor was trying to do, but does it better (the one exception being ISotE has a really cool aging mechanic). But the creating of new knights, claiming of territory, squabbling for control of cities, voting on things, I enjoyed it more in Lancaster. Add that it's quasi-worker-placement and that you can level up your guys, and I definitely found it interesting. Not destined to become a favorite, but certes a game I'd play again, and I can see now why other people really like it.

Finally, a 2p game of Agricolawith a local friend. I had a hand full of amazing improvements that required 3 occupations, so I was lucky to be playing 2p where such was easy to achieve. Between the Beehive, Veggie Field, and SomethingElse IForget, I had a ton of extra points and extra food. Add this to the fact that for the first time in a LONG while, my final farm had 4 pastures and all 3 types of animals, and I walked away with this one.

Alas, only after the game ended did my opponent realize that two of his occupations might be a powerful combo: Clay Worker (which gives you a free clay whenever you take wood or clay), and Wood Distributor (which lets you move some of the wood off the wood space onto other spaces). He never played the latter; if only he had, I think things might have gone very differently.
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25. Board Game: Myrmes [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:412]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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(The Alphabet challenge games will be added later this week.) See below for the Alphabet games.

I was attending a get-together of the largest Dutch forum on boardgames in Eindhoven this weekend, and apart from talking a bit to people I also played a few games.

Myrmes — After a bit of a nasty explanation at Spiel 2012, this game was still on my 'todo' list. So I sat down with three others and played it without the burden of an incompetent rules explainer and the drowsy heat in the Messe. Owing to a major rules misunderstanding I made a terrible error at the end of the first year by giving up a worker ('nurse' in Myrmes jargon) in exchange for points: this had the effect of completely obliterating my ability to get back into the game. Over the course of year two it became apparent that I simply could not produce sufficient food for both a new nurse and the winter season, causing a downward spiral from which escape was not be possible. With the permission of the others I withdrew and watched what happened on the board. (My pitiful attempts to get back into the game were practically reducing the player count from 4 to 3 already, so it wasn't a big loss to the other players. Or perhaps it was: the board was too large for a 3 player-game, so there hardly was 'conflict' until the very end.)

While I immediately concede that Myrmes is a solid and 'finished' Ystari title and as such a worthy addition to the impressive lineup, I can't say I'm much enamoured by it. And no, that has nothing to do with my blunder. It just doesn't feel ... memorable in any way. What it does feel like is constructed. You could be forgiven to attribute Myrmes to Stefan Feld, for example. The worker placement is quite micromanagement-y, the garden movements mostly simple resource and point grabs or, in a later stage blockades to choice garden resources. Surplus nurses at the end become points through objectives. This isn't particularly awe-inspiring, we've all seen it before, although of course not with this subject. The only thing which makes Myrmes stand out somewhat for me is that the shared aspect of the game requires commitment prior to anything occurring in that space: make a mistake here and it will probably cost you considerably.

For now it seems to be an Ystari like Sylla or Assyria. Not bad games in their own right, just not able to captivate me.

Fortuna — Another title which was still on my 'todo' list. In this game I blundered too, though to a lesser extent. The card swapping mechanisms are quite insidious and really force you to make choices about what aspect you prioritise. It's quite a clever idea to put into a game, actually, and navigating these waters will take some experience.

Where I went wrong was pursuing a strategy which everyone was taking (namely attempting a combination of marriage, a building, and lots of dice to make the odds of a '5' appearing as large as possible), and at some point allowing myself to become stuck without money and resources. Whenever I took a card which would give me a resource it would be taken by another player who came earlier in the turn order—this was not pleasant for a player in a position like mine because you need resources or money to be able to do something. If you don't have these, you can't do anything. So I was stewing nicely util it was pointed out that the card allowing bribery, nearly perpetually stuck to my side of the board, would also give money as an alternative option. I had just not seen that particular icon. By then the game was unfortunately nearly over.

Will I play a third time? I'm not sure. The card swapping gives Fortuna something characteristic, but the rest of the game is just... well, grab resources and turn them into points. Nowadays there are so many of these games to choose from that it feels somewhat pointless to spend much time with such a title unless it presses all one's buttons. Fortuna doesn't do this.

Zoom Zoom Ka-Boom!! — A silly race game with a very positive characteristic: it is over and done in 15 to 20 minutes. I still have nightmares about Formula Dé. And I won this game too, a bit of karmic payback after the blunders and oversights in the previous two games.

Genesis — Alphabet challenger. We played this game in an each on their own-style, and while we felt we did not do too badly, the Dark Angel won convincingly. I immediately knew what the problem was: this game forces cooperation onto the players to block the bugger, and in my group such cooperation doesn't come naturally. But at least they saw and understood what happened, so we rescheduled the game for the next session in order to attempt to play a little more intelligently.

That said, the game doesn't award you points for blocking the Dark Angel, so my guess is that if played properly (at least at low player numbers) scores will be very close. You only want to hobble the Dark Angel, you do not want to keep his score at 0, but as the hobbling affects everyone in a positive fashion temptation will be great to let other players do the dirty work. I'm not sure how these dynamics will work out. There might even be a sort-of Container-light brinkmanship involved. The only thing I'm really a bit scared for is that my group will just quit the game before having given it serious attempts to make it work.

Glen More — Alphabet challenger. Good game, but I stink at playing well. I attempted to create a whisky economy backed up by taverns and did very well in the first two parts of the game. But then my economy faltered and stagnated: I couldn't make the resources I had 'work' for me, and my competitors were able to catch up brutally as a consequence. My sweetheart activated a monster combo four times, netting her 8 points per time she activated it, and sailed right by me before the part was over. I also misjudged the moment the game would be over, causing me to mistime a final step which would have netted me 11 points (8 net) which would make me a good second instead of a disappointing third.

More and more I realise that this game is not really about the tradeoff between taking an action closeby or skipping far ahead. Or rather, I don't quite see how to make that work, as I find it very hard to recuperate the loss of many actions. Thus the game is more about making do with whatever comes my way. I'm actually rather curious as to how a gamer is supposed to make his economy work if he skips far ahead all the time: obviously the other players are going to face a major penalty at the end, but at the same time they have all the time in the world to set up massively scoring combos. Obviously the playtesters were way smarter than me.

In any case, it's a nice game, especially for its length, and I'm happy to own it. Perhaps one day I'll be able to work out how to make it work competitively.
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