GCL Mafia 111: Hot or Not
Mc Jarvis
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Arlington
Virginia
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

Our current roster in order of preparation (next week's poster in bold):

Rishi
Dolus
ecargo
McJarvis
1awesomeguy
mith
tscook
Thesp
Butterfly0038
cferejohn
touchstonethefool
fdubois

The first few items are intended to foster discussion.

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of February 25 - March 3, 2013. List any games played along with any other information that you deem appropriate. Also, feel free to give life updates, fun facts, or any other super exciting and utterly interesting thoughts you may have.
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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:5]
Mc Jarvis
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Arlington
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This week we're going to do some simple A/B/C testing. For every game in the top 25, simply state whether you think the game is hot (A) or not (B), or (C)- unplayed.

The Top 5:

1) Twilight Struggle
2) Through the Ages
3) Agricola
4) Puerto Rico
5) Eclipse

Pick a favorite out of this group and say why you think it's a better game than the others. Any games here you haven't tried? Why not?
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2. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:42]
Mc Jarvis
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Arlington
Virginia
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Same deal as question #1, just for slots 6-10

6) Android: Netrunner
7) Power Grid
8) Le Havre
9) Mage Knight: the board game
10) Brass
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3. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:46]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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11) Caylus
12) Dominion: Intrigue
13) 7 Wonders
14) Puerto Rico: Anniversary Edition
15) Dominion
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4. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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16) The Castles of Burgundy
17) El Grande
18) Race for the Galaxy
19) Dominant Species
20) Ora Et Labora
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5. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:69]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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21) Tigris and Euphrates
22) War of the Ring (first edition)
23) Battlestar Galactica
24) Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
25) Paths of Glory
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6. Video Game: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:55]
Mc Jarvis
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Virginia
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American Rails 1
Colorado Midland 1
Domaine 1
Macao 1
OddVille 1
Planet Steam 1
Quarriors! 1

Stuff counting towards my pledge bolded. Incoming games this week: 3 new gipf series sets (15 plays added to my list), plus some games purchased with gift certificates from work (Kemet, Vanuatu, Roll through the ages) (14 new plays added to the list)

While my list is still smaller than it was before I started, acquiring six new games has my spirits down. Also, Carrie is out of town for the week-- so it is unlikely I'll be playing many board games.

OF course, I have recently fallen in love with Starcraft II again. The proleagues are winding up for the Winter MLG championship, so I'm watching the qualifiers every day as they are webcast.
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7. Board Game: Serenissima (second edition) [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1784]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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New Games

Serenissima (second edition) x1
Clash of Cultures x1

Old Games

Gloria Picktoria x1

I'm a big fan of Dominique Ehrhard, so when I heard that Serenissima was being reprinted, I jumped right on it. Having never played the first edition, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but after getting a play in last Tuesday I think it's a pretty solid design. Sort of like a more euro-y Merchants & Marauders, the game sees each player controlling one or more ships that transport goods around the Mediterranean. Players earn money through delivering goods to ports and by being in control of ports that are stocked with goods during the scoring rounds. Oh and you can totally attack each other: Players in combat roll a number of dice equal to the sailors they have on each boat, eliminate each other's sailors for each hit, and continue until either the attacker backs off or someone sinks. The distribution of hits on the dice is exactly 50/50, which really drives home how risky combat can be for both parties.

Dice chucking aside, there's a smorgasbord of wonderful tensions between possible actions in this game. First, you can stock your ships with any combination of sailors and goods, but each space you have can only hold one or the other. The more sailors you have, the farther you can travel, but you have less room for goods, so figuring out which of your ships would work with certain configurations at any one point is fascinating. Second is the fact that you *only* receive money through the selling action if you deliver to a port that's either neutral or under another player's control, and you can't both deliver goods and offload your dudes in the same turn. The game is full of these kinds of decisions, and they're ones that I really appreciate in most games I like.

So how do I like the game as a whole? Pretty well, although not as enthusiastically as I imagined I would. I think I like the smaller parts better than the gestalt, but it's still one I enjoyed playing.

I was a bit wary of Clash of Cultures, comparisons to Eclipse seemed to abound in that it was a "simplified" entry into a larger genre that managed to pack in everything that mattered (I have yet to try Eclipse, but have been avoiding so far on the discontented buzz confirming that the "Fuck it, let's just roll some dice" aspect of it does, in fact, add more randomness).

Thankfully, CoC does genuinely seem to be a very solid Civ game in it's own right. Everything is really pared down and the tech tree is very well conceived. The freedom to pursue advancements in almost any order you see fit jives with the random card pulls and dice rolls that determine special scoring and combat outcomes, respectively.

Everything just seems well balanced, like how the lion's share of your score comes from the objective deck that you draw from every three rounds, but you also get points for the other stuff you do. The additive nature of the combat rolls is nice, to be certain, but I found that it still doesn't mitigate having shitty luck with the dice. It usually means that your middling rolls aren't quite as bad, but your poor rolls still suck the big one. Being able to culturally influence your opponents cities is a nice touch (essentially "turning" a part of it yours for scoring purposes), and all-in-all it looks like it has the workings of a very solid design.

My one qualm is that, with an AP prone player (or two) the time commitment jumps right back up to TtA levels. Admittadly my one play was a learning game, but that combined with one of the most AP guys I know meant it took 3 hours to complete. At that point, I'd rather just play TtA! However, scuttlebutt seems to be that once people are familiar with the tech-trees, the opportunity for shorter play starts to rise again. CoC would really be something special if it could reliably deliver a compact experience, but with it's profusion of bits and susceptibility to AP, I'm not certain that I'd pick it over other Civ games. Time will tell.
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8. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:321]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Weekly Plays:

Dominion - 30 (all isotropic)
Brass: Lancashire - 1 (orderofthehammer)
Ginkgopolis - 1
Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium - 1
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization - 1 (boardgaming-online with Grace, James, and Chris F)

Light week - I didn't stay long at DGM Thursday. Ginkgopolis was with Matt and a new player, and was a comfortable win for me (which is a rarity against Matt in this game). I put together a nice little specialized engine with overbuilds giving me tiles (and later points) and discards giving me resources, so I was able to overbuild a lot and do well on both region and card scoring (plus 10 points for throwing back tiles when we ran out the first time). This is not a super deep game, but the drafting and area control aspects are nice and emerging more with experience, so I think it's got quite a few plays left in it.

After that we played a four player game of Race. Matt got GalFed down as his second card (with Galactic Developers as his start world), which already signaled quick game, and the guy who had joined us set up a quick Produce/Consume engine with the Toy Shop (at least, it would have been quick if anyone else were consuming), but I was able to rush them both out with military + Improved Logistics (with NGO as my big scorer) - 34 vs. scores in the 20s all around. (No goals, one of the guys was only on his second game.)

I somehow avoided relegation in the most recent KotH Brass game which finished today, despite not flipping any L2+ tiles in the canal phase, so I'm pretty happy about that. Thesp and I will be together again for the next one, and he had better give me a heads up when he starts the game so I don't get stuck playing red again, grr...

I also finally won a TtA tournament game, after losing by 1 in my second to finish. I had a weird build, with no military units through most of age III after grabbing Gandhi to try to hold my lead. I had built up a good colony engine (Colossus + Cartography) which had me cycling through Swordsmen like crazy, but ended up not getting Cook because he came out late and I needed Newton in the short term. Anyway, it worked out, and I avoided getting a 52 vs. 17 beatdown when that player didn't have the military actions to overcome Gandhi.

Dominion Plays:

Playing erratically lately, and slowly losing rank, but I'm not too bothered about that these days. If I had time to play a dozen games a day, I might care more. Anyway, the most interesting games (as is often the case) were the ones against better players.

Mic Qsenoch 41-39 mith - I should have extended this, but I wasn't keeping track of the points. He went for Duchies far sooner (in part because of Contraband, as I was denying him Provinces), and split them 6-2. That, plus my trashed Estates, meant he only needed 3 Provinces. However, I have two chances to make a comeback - Followers to Curse (and pretty much ensure he can't buy the last Province), and Saboteur to eventually hit something green.

-Stef- 52-66 mith - This could have gone either way ultimately, but I think my plan is better here. Apothecary does help cycle to the Goons (my response: buy more Goons), but Loan eats all the Copper that Apothecary normally likes to draw. Anyway, I get more VP chips, and buy some extra green along the way, so I only need to split the Colonies evenly, and I do. (I also got super unlucky after buying my third Goons on turn 15, drawing all three in the next hand.)
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9. Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:147] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Summoner Wars: Master Set* 2
Carcassonne + Inns & Cathedrals (iOS) 1
Hanabi* 1
No Thanks! 1
Node* 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - A-Wing Expansion Pack* 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - Millennium Falcon Expansion Pack* 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - Slave I Expansion Pack* 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - TIE Advanced Expansion Pack* 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - TIE Interceptor Expansion Pack* 1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - Y-Wing Expansion Pack* 1
Suburbia 1
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar* 1
Unpublished Prototype 1

Here is what I said about Summoner Wars from the Mafia Secret Santa geeklist:

Quote:
I've played Summoner Wars once before. It was the base game, so I don't know if this counts as new to me or not. I quite enjoyed it. Matt doesn't like the "I send my guys to fight your guys" games so much, but is willing to indulge me with them.

After playing, I immediately went to my iOS version to play some more. So, I am really digging it.


Hanabi was a surprise. I don't like memory games, but this one was interesting and I was not expecting to like it so much. A very unique game.

I played Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar with who I am I presuming is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for Most Annoying Man Alive. This guy had no internal monologue. I am fairly certain every thought he had came out of his mouth and it was nonstop through the entire game. So, I gave up about halfway through trying to win and focused my energies on not punching and/or cussing him out. That said, I lost horribly but I think the game is good. At least now I know how to play it and can explore it some more hopefully soon. It's also one more game crossed off my my owned-but-unplayed list.

Node was a freebie at the board game tournament (where the aforementioned Annoying Fool was at). It's actually quite a cute little abstract filler. Reminded me of Pilus, but with cards and shitty 8-bit art.

X-Wing Miniatures was our first time giving the missions a try. We each did the 100-point squad building for it. I was the rebels and ending up losing. Gate Play is having an X-Wing Miniatures tournament this Friday, which I will undoubtedly lose at, but look forward to.
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10. Board Game: March Madness [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:7653]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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GCL Mafia Madness 2013

We'll use the same format as last year... for those who weren't here or don't remember:

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Everyone nominate your favorite 10 (or more) games, in order. Make your list independent of everyone else.

Rather than counting up nominations (which is problematic with so few) or everyone getting to add 3 games (which is problematic insofar as everyone won't be adding their top 3, but rather their top 3 which hasn't been picked by someone else already), I will add games to the field such that each participant will be "responsible" for some amount of game added (at least 3, probably 4 - depends on how many participate). For example, if Thesp and I both list Race as our favorite game, it will be added to the field but only count as a half pick for each of us (but if we later get to someone's fifth pick which is also Race, it will now count a third for each of us, and so on).

(Probably overly complicated for me, but for you, easy nomination system!)

I'll tentatively say "all expansions are considered to be included with the base game". The definition of "favorite" is up to you, though - feel free to take into account how often you want to play it, how often you get to play it, how much fun you have, how good the social experience is, how thematic it is, how elegant the design is, how much you think about the game when not playing it... whatever criteria you want to use.

After the nomination stage, I'll put together a bracket from the chosen games (possibly with some byes, possibly with some additional games included by runoff... just depends on how the numbers come out).


Reminder: I need an ordering for the games on your list, not just an unordered set of games!

I'll aim to get the bracket up in a couple weeks - I'll send out reminders all our members and any lurkers who participated last year; if you post in GCL Mafia at all, or if you are the significant other of a GCL Mafia member, or if you are stalking a GCL Mafia member, or have any tenuous connection to this group at all, feel free to send a list along.

(I will also likely be trying to put together a cross-GCL version, if anyone from the other GCLs is reading and interested in helping coordinate that.)
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11. Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:620]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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4x Mr. Jack Pocket
3x Terra Mystica
2x 1830: Railways & Robber Barons
2x Chicago Express
2x Campaign Manager 2008
2x Werewolf
1x 7 Wonders
1x Archipelago
1x Citadels
1x Divinare
1x Ground Floor
1x Hanabi
1x Innovation
1x Poseidon
1x Puerto Rico
1x Race for the Galaxy
1x The Resistance
1x Sentinels of the Multiverse
1x Sticheln
1x Suburbia
1x Tammany Hall
1x Twilight Struggle
1x Vikings

I went to my annual Ohio Gaming Retreat Extravaganza (OGRE) this past weekend. Given the sheer number of games played, I'm not going to go over them all in detail (though I'll answer any questions people have). However, I'll hit the highlight and lowlights.

First, the biggest negative was Citadels. I had heard before that it dragged with 7 so when someone suggested it, I wasn't enthused; however, when everyone pointed out (a) I'd never played it and (b) they thought it was fine with 7, I agreed. They were right. It didn't drag with 7. It played in just over an hour and with a beer, it wasn't a bad experience. However, I'm not sure how much of a game there was there. It just felt like passing cards and guessing roles. and not even in the good way of Love Letter or Coup (not that I'm lauding Coup. I'd probably play it again if someone really wanted to but I don't see any appeal to it.

Other than that, the weekend went well. Despite more downtime than I wanted, I got in 3 games of Terra Mystica, a game of 1830, a game of Poseidon, a game of Chicago Express (the first of the two plays was really just teaching), a game of Archipelago, and a game of Ground Floor. The Chicago Express game was a bit of a letdown since it was only 3 of us and I don't think they really got it. 1830 and Poseidon were particularly good since I lost both but had lots of fun. Terra Mystica continues to be lots of fun and I still have not grown tired of it. I enjoyed Ground Floor and found it played well with 4 but not significantly better than with 2 (which makes me feel good about the 2-player game -- I'd rather play with 4, but i think 2 is good enough to play). While I don't feel like it's as good as Pret-a-Porter, it is still a very good play.

I got in several shorter games. My play of RftG was fun. I enjoyed learning Sentinels. Hanabi was a 4-player game and a lot of fun. Divinare was also a 4-player game and it was ok, but I felt it was a bit too crowded and a bit too much chaos. I think my favorite player count for it will be 2 > 3 > 4. 4-player was not bad and I'd play it again; it was just a bit too random for my taste. Sticheln was a lot of fun and significantly heavier than I expected. For a trick taking game there was a lot to think about it and I really enjoyed my play. I hope to get to play it again soon. Lastly, I played two games of Campaign Manager. After hearing a lot of negative things, I was very pleasantly surprised. It may play a little longer than it should, but I really enjoyed myself. It's a mini-Twilight Struggle with a deck building aspect and I had a lot fun. I am now considering trying to pick up a copy, although I don't know how often I'd get to play it.

my two plays of Campaign Manager convinced me I wanted to give Twilight Struggle another chance. I had owned it at one point and Amanda and I played it a few times. At the time, although I acknowledged the beauty and depth of it, I found it frustrating enough and enough of a time investment to learn that I traded it. With my play this past weekend, I've reconsidered and will probably end up picking up the deluxe edition.

My first play of Tammany Hall was fun. I'm not a big area control fan and my feelings of it reflect that. It's a wonderfully designed and produced game (I have the new edition) with probably the best looking and most functional board I've ever seen. However, my feelings overall are lukewarm. I'll happily play it again, but will probably choose other games over it to bring to game days. However, I certainly won't complain about playing it. It's a nasty game with lots of opportunity for screwage. We didn't do nearly as much negotiation as I expected but I think if I got the same group of guys to play this, that would change.

Lastly, after I got home Sunday, Amanda and I went to a FLGS to pick up something I ordered (Archipelago expansion). I saw Mr. Jack Pocket there and decided to pick it up. I read the rules and then we proceeded to play 2 games, switching off who was Jack. Our first 3 plays went as expected with the investigator winning easily. However, in our last play, I was Jack and managed to eek out a win pushing the game through 8 rounds (and getting my 6th hourglass at the end of round 8). That game took longer than the advertised 15 minutes, but the other 3 were under. We were able to play it in bed as we watched TV and she chatted online. While there are other games I like more, this game is portable, able to be played in bed, quick, and thinky enough. I am hopeful to play it many more times.
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12. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.39 Overall Rank:14]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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*Battles of Westeros
Dragon Dice
*Earth Reborn
*Scotland Yard
Star Munchkin
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
*Timeline: Diversity
Unpublished Prototype
*War of the Ring (second edition)

*new to me

Quite a few "new to me" games. I'm glad to have finally been able to try Battles of Westeros. That and Battlelore have been on my want to try list for a long time. It's more complex than Memoir '44, and I prefer the simplicity in Memoir '44. Though I may change my mind with more plays. I really like the order system in BoW over Memoir '44. It's much better IMO. Memoir '44 has too many occasions where you can't order any units or more than one unit because of where they're located and the cards you're holding.

The first scenario to Earth Reborn was also a lot of fun. I really look forward to playing more scenarios of this game.

I am very proud of my play of Through the Ages. It was against Mith and McJarvis, and I actually won! Not sure how I got so lucky.

And War of the Ring was amazing. I went through the rulebook afterwards to figure out everything I did wrong. I think the second game I play of it will be much smoother. I really want to play this some more, and try it from both sides.
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Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Since the official Five & Dime Report thread is up this week, thought it might be interesting to see GCL Mafia's lists for 2012...
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