GCL Swedish Meatballs #93: Time
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Introduction
Welcome to this week's Swedish Meatballs discussion list, episode #93. The Meatballs are a division of BGG's GameChat League, where groups of geeks blabber about topics they find interesting in a semi-open format. Civil comments from non-members are fine and even encouraged, but only members should add items, usually your weekly games played or anything else you find interesting to add.



Rotation
fateswandererup next
DarrinWilliams — honourably discharged from duty
baditude
rarevos
qwerytmartin
Sorp222
lacxox
aaarg_ink
Jugular
bnordeng
Bolger — honourably discharged from duty
NateStraight
Patrick Carroll
ellephai
johnbandettini
Osirus
ldsdbomber
cymric



This week's topic
As most of you know I have become a parent in February, and that meant giving up a lot of free time for the sake of newborn care. Or rather plannable free time as I find I can still do quite a lot... just not when I think I can because some small human wants food RIGHT NOW or needs his nappy changed RIGHT NOW or whatever RIGHT NOW. Lee kindly offered to fill up my place for the time being, assuming I'd be far too busy elsewhere to create a topic of discussion. I declined however, because this new experience of time management provided me with some inspiration for this week's topic: time in games. Now we have already discussed time before, in rarevos's Tick Tock, Tick Tock-episode about half a year ago. But there time was mostly considered as something external to gaming, affecting all sorts of other activities. This week's topic is solely about time in games, as a constraint, a resource to manage, or not at all, or ...

I'm afraid that there aren't many questions I could come up with, but still, it is a nearly-original subject, and an interesting one to boot. So let's get to it!

(Oh yeah, this is also my 25th Geeklist, meaning I'm probably going to receive a silver microbadge of merit for my continued efforts and contributions to BGG.)
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1. Board Game: What Time Is It? [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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The simplest way for a game to deal with time is to simply ignore it. Given how pervasive time is in our lives, it comes across as somewhat odd that it is explicitly absent from so many titles.

How do you feel about this? And if you were asked after a reason for this apparent lack of time in games, what would you answer?

If you feel philosophically inclined, discuss the following statement:

Since time is also the ability to order events in a specific and objectively definable fashion, games without 'normal' time can be said to still have some sort of time-like nature in them.
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2. Board Game: Four Seasons [Average Rating:4.35 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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If, on the other hand, time is present in games, it is usually there as a thematic anchor: for example using seasons, or weeks and days, sometimes even hours, etcetera. Time is present here as a 'force' which changes aspects of the game's rules in a periodic fashion.

What are your favourite games employing weeks, months, and seasons, respectively? Why?

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3. Board Game: My First Clock [Average Rating:3.83 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Just as leaving out explicit time in games is apparently something quite natural for many designers, adding time to a game is just as easy: simply add an external clock. I can share a nice anecdote here: While learning to play Chess as a young lad, I learned that chess clocks were invented somewhere in the 19th century because of a proliferation of rather unsportsmanlike behaviour. Chess was originally played without a clock, but it had become rather common to irritate the heck out of a winning player by literally taking one's time about making moves which would not result in a win anyway.

What game would you be your first choice for mandatory time keeping? What do you hope to improve by doing so?
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4. Board Game: Up Against Time [Average Rating:5.31 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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However, if you add clocks like that to a game which had not been designed with clocks in mind, you effectively add new rules and victory conditions: namely winning or losing on time (or lack of it, of course). There are stories floating around of people 'abusing' these new rules. With respect to Go for example I know of a story—but whether it is true or not is not something I've been able to establish—that a player in a position-wise losing position sacrificed so many stones that the player in the winning position who was desperately short on time, was forced to remove so many stones that this caused him to lose!

Technically this is a win. Game-ethically... hard to say. Or not? How do you feel about such 'tricks'?
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5. Board Game: Beat the Clock Game [Average Rating:3.85 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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A next step in game design would be to include a single physical clock as part of the game. Time, real time even, has now become a tangible asset to be managed. There seem to be two schools of design here. One is using a clock as if it were a simple timer: do or achieve something before time runs out. Many children's dexterity games fall into this category. As young teenager my mother had bought me several T.H.I.N.G.S. (Totally Hilarious Incredibly Neat Games of Skill) where the objective was to capture rings from overflying bats, or feed a hungry hippo plastic marbles, or transport astronauts to safety, or lock up an 'Eggzilla' inside his shell, and various others. They were great fun to play with until you figured out the 'knack'.

Have you got any childhood memories of this sort of timed game? Is there a game which would still be fun for you today?

The other school of thought is closely related to the first, but introduces various obstacles and periods during which rules change. This appears to be a more modern approach. Examples include Space Alert, Escape: The Curse of the Temple, and Atmosfear.

Have you played any of these games? If so, what were your findings? Do you prefer the simple race or the race with hurdles?
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6. Board Game: Clocks [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:7180]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Of course you can also add multiple clocks. This is, however, very rare: off the top of my head I only know of TAMSK and Space Dealer.

Are there other titles I have missed? Have you played any of these multiple clock games? What were your findings?

If on the other hand you allow for the 'pseudo clocks' I introduced in the first item of this GL, as simply something which causes ordering of events in a specific fashion, then your choice of games becomes a bit wider. Time is now an abstract counter which grows ever larger depending on the actions of the players. Crucial in these games is that the person in the last position on the 'time track' is the one whose turn it is: thematically a very understandable choice as that player has 'used up' the least amount of time. Games which use this mechanism include Tinners' Trail, Olympos, Thebes, and in a far simpler form, Tokaido.

Have you played any of these games? What were your findings? Do you prefer real time over pseudo time?
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7. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Merchandise [Average Rating:6.66 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Use this item to discuss other aspects of time in games. Topics include time travel (which is hard to do in boardgames, but a bit easier in video games), the RTS-genre in videogames (if you are familiar with any), wild ideas you'd like to see appear in games, ...
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8. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:158]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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As I knew I won’t have time to go to any gaming clubs next week, I had a special week – attending two gaming clubs, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Who knew I was going to play the same game at the two places…

Tuesday, gaming club:
Bora Bora – 2 “seasoned” BB players and two newbies; 50ish point difference between the two groups.

Wednesday, gaming club:
We were playing 2-player with a buddy for 2 and a half hours.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Das Kartenspiel 2x – he didn’t like it too much but I did and won both games.
Meanwhile Pierrot (a well-known Hungarian pop singer & musician who is nowadays also known for some video games and novels) entered the room and started to look for some games to borrow next to our table. I helped him and started conversation with him – we exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses as I offered help in proof-reading and checking his next book about some kind of board games. Then we continued playing with my buddy.
Asara – He said it's good and quite exciting but added he felt it was a bit “empty”. When I said it might have been the lack of a real theme he agreed.
Dragonheart 2x – he enjoyed it, and as usual for this game, I was beaten two times.
Then he left and I explained Bora Bora to 3 other players – and played it. Luckily the owner of the game has already read the rules before and could correct one mistake we had done the day before.

Friday, at home:
Some plays with my son. Panic Lab 1x, Alles Kanone! 2x, now we started to play the latter as a speed game and I found a way to give him a little (about 2 seconds) advantage (turning up the next card slowly, facing him first).

Sunday, at home:
Our stepson Marci and his family visited us.
For their daytime sleep, I told a story using Rory's Story Cubes: Voyages rolled on the cover of a book. I was halfway in the story when Marci asked, pointing at the book, not really understanding what was going on: "Are your reading this tale from this book?"
Then, in the end, he didn't sleep while I did sleep with my son...

In the afternoon, I wanted to play Heckmeck Barbecue (advanced Pickomino) with Marci's father, but then Marci wanted to join us so I opened Heckmeck Junior (Pickomino for the kids) instead. Finally he didn’t play with us so we, the fathers played it… then as he started to play something with Miska we played Heckmeck Barbecue and for the second play of HB the mother joined us as well.
In the evening we played a quick game of Kingdom Builder with my wife.


About the new games learned:


Bora Bora – my first 2013 game. I’m not a fan of Stefan Feld’s games but I like them. They are always well-developed, most of the time feature one or two interesting central mechanism while most of the time there is just too much general Euro stuff built on these mechanism ideas (and even the stuff built on these cores is more or less the same in each of his games).

Bora Bora is no exception from anything I have written above – or… Well, the core mechanism is only slightly interesting. It’s practically simply dice placement, a worker placement sub-genre (where you place dice instead of workers) rather popular since Kingsburg (2007). Bora Bora doesn’t really reinvent this mechanism, even though the variation on it is nice. There are 7/6/5 action spaces in a 4/3/2-player game, respectively, and each player rolls 3 dice. You can place your die to any action space if you are the first one there – or you can place it if your number is lower than what’s already there (and of course there are God cards that can help you change these rules). This idea works in a Troyes-like way: throwing high numbers can be good if you are the first player; otherwise, the later you get to place a die the lower it needs to be in order to get any advantage of using it. But of course it’s just a part of the game, then there are different tiles and tracks that can help you score in different ways, there are a few different phases and so on, everything is very Feld.

In the end, I’d say I like it more than I like Tzolk’in because of three reasons: 1. it has the fun of dice; 2. It has a little fun of a map and some spatial aspects; 3. The decisions and combinations are a bit more interesting than in that boring cube-pusher. On the other hand, it's still a create your VP engine game which I rate a bit below all the other Felds I know because the core mechanism doesn’t really feel special.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Das Kartenspiel – It’s King’s Gate simplified as much as possible. The cards are more simple. The locations are not different (they only give you increasing numbers of VPs). There are no special ability tiles. The theme is still ridiculously pasted-on (the most thematic aspects being that there are 13 dwarves here (some of them come in pairs – Ori&Nori, Fili&Kili, Ori&Nori; of course Thorin has a little special ability). You could say it is the junior version of the original (which is not even really King’s Gate as KG was the rethemed version of the Ravensburger LotR card game – Der Herr der Ringe: Die Gefährten – Das Kartenspiel). But actually… I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I’d say, right now, after two quick plays, I find it more elegant and more fun than the original.

Heckmeck Barbecue – I have already played it against myself so it wasn’t really new to me. But it’s fine – it makes every aspect of the game a little bit more interesting, adding a little bit more stuff to consider. I really like it; the only reason why I rate it slightly below Pickomino is that (because of the components) it just would not work as a pub game (of which Pickomino is a prime example).
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9. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:158]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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.N/A. Bora Bora - 3 Players
I9.5I Puerto Rico - 3 Players (x2)
_.9_. Pandemic - 2 Players
I8.5I Macao - 3 Players
_.8_. Android: Netrunner - 2 Players (x2)
_.8_. Ginkgopolis - 2 Players
_.8_. Medici - 6 Players
_.8_. Flash Point: Fire Rescue - 2 Players
I7.5I Saboteur 2 (expansion-only editions) - 6 Players
I7.5I The Magic Labyrinth - 3 Players
_.7_. King of Tokyo: Power Up! - 3 Players
_.7_. Hey, That's My Fish! - 2 Players
_.7_. Escape: The Curse of the Temple - 4 Players
_.7_. Nexus Ops - 2 Players
_.7_. No Thanks! - 3 Players
I6.5I Monza - 2 Players
I6.5I Whoowasit? - 2 Players


I put together another good week of games as my wife and kids left for two days to visit Chicago and I played games (and worked and cleaned) and that was all I did. Game-playing is sure to slow down as work is gearing up for a killer week.

(1) Bora Bora - It must be Bora Bora week, eh Laszlo? I almost played it on Thursday and did play it on Friday. Once again, I liked this game from Feld. However, I am starting to get the feeling from his games that I've heard others complain about where you just do anything and score points and it doesn't really matter what you do. I got less of that feeling in Luna and I get less of it in Macao (which I played the same night as Bora Bora). But, Bora Bora, Castles of Burgundy, Trajan and Notre Dame all give me that vibe. I still like those games and will play them. I just wonder if I am tiring of the same thing. I will say that the dice placement mechanism in Bora Bora is very clever and well implemented and that was the one, brightest spot in the game for me. Feld always seems to introduce a new, unique, primary mechanic in his games which keeps me coming back... for now.

(2) Android: Netrunner - My brother destroyed me this time around after he put some care into building his decks. I tried building decks where I wasn't as confident and it showed. Now, we each have two expansions (more cards) so we've built decks with those and we'll see what happens.

(3) Ginkgopolis - As I've heard, it does really work well with two and my wife and I were just 5 points apart in the end. I think she'll play it again.

(4) Medici, Saboteur, Escape - Six player game night at my place was good with Medici and Saboteur. My first bid in Medici was a mistake from which I couldn't recover. I bid 11 for tiles that weren't that great after warning everyone not to overbid before we started. Eh heh. I scored one gold in Saboteur 2 on a theft in the last round. Four of us finished with Escape where we all ended up trapped in the temple. Oops. Lots of losing, but lots of fun for me so it was a good night.

(5) King of Tokyo: Power Up! - King of Tokyo is a decent game, but I'll probably be dropping my rating and I'm shocked at how well received it has been on BGG. I'm still happy I picked up Power Up! because my kids will play the game with me and that's a good thing. Maybe that's the appeal... that you can get it to the table with a lot of different groups?

(6) Nexus Ops - I played the Fantasy Flight version for the first time and it's pretty much the same game. We both had trouble seeing figures on the tiles (behind the mines) and noticing the difference between different figures. I never have that problem with the old Avalon Hill version. The scoring for winning battles seems better, but otherwise I'm happy to keep my original.

EDIT: Mechanism/Mechanic?... whatever.
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10. Board Game: Zip! [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Andrew
Japan
Tokyo
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I didn't do any gaming this week. zombie
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11. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:29]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Oh man.

We hadn't sat down and played a long satisfying game in a while -- I'll admit lately I've been playing a lot of Path of Exile on my computer -- so we decided to take the afternoon/evening and play a luxurious game of Through the Ages.

I started with Hammurabbi ("...you're the one, you make actions so much fun..."), and then grabbed the Pyramids on my first full turn. I was civil action heavy, but drawing few military cards, and the politics cards I got tended to benefit stronger civilizations (read: Debbie), so I didn't play anything.

Consequently, for the first time ever, Debbie had played all four of the new event cards when the stack turned, which was bad news for me. I built the Taj Mahal -- another thing I'd never done -- to try to catch up to the massive point lead Debbie was starting to build thanks to grabbing Michaelangelo. However, since I built Pyramids and Taj early, it was too expensive for me to keep St. Peter's Basilica out of her hands.

Still, I upgraded Da Vinci to Newton in Age II, and had more blue techs, so I trusted my infrastructure would overcome her culture lead. We flip-flopped on military lead, each sacrificing some to get a colony. A brutal event caught me with two discontent workers and lost me all but one of my actions on a turn, and I was behind by roughly 60 culture going into Age III.

Long story slightly shorter, Michaelangelo disappearing at least meant the 60-point gap wasn't widening, and I took military supremacy and raided a few opera houses. I abused my science to play lots of blue techs and Computers, and then got Alex Randolph for another 12 culture a turn to close the gap. By the time the game ended, I had just squeaked ahead by 2 points -- and since I was the only one to have played AgeIII events into the pile, I knew I had won.
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12. Board Game: P.I. [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1560]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Apparently a slow gaming week for me. I played P.I., which I had just managed to finally acquire, with the regular Monday night group.

Then I went to a games night Friday, but was really tired, so I played Can't Stop and Mississippi Queen and then went home early.
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13. Board Game: 18Scan [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:3532]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Soooo...I got my first play of an 18XX game! Interesting, its a heavy, heavy system. I think its a touch out of my league, but I will definitely not refuse to play it again -- though of course the circumstances need to be ideal (enough time, forgiving players, etc.) I can see how the 18xx series becomes a lifestyle sort of thing for some people.

Otherwise, I picked up a copy of Urbion which is a bit pricey at $15 but the art is glorious. Only got to play through half a game but I think its should be a nice challenge and a worthy successor to Onrim.

I played a game of Conspiracy. Unfortunately one of the guys was not paying attention for half the game and ruined the experience. It was my first time playing a game with him and it may well be my last if I have any diplomatic ways to ensure that to be the case.

And a game of Aton with a kid who is pretty damn sharp. I pulled off the victory but he gave me a good run -- which is not usually the case for a first play of this game. Though there is luck in the game, usually 1st time players do not realize how quickly an experienced player can hit one of the instant win conditions, but he kept me on my toes. I've always loved this game and I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it. It seems a little fussy here and there when you read the rules, but when you play a game of it, it all fits together beautifully!

And then 18SCan, once again props to Little Shop of Magic for letting us run the game till 11:30pm and not kicking our asses to the curb. It was an interesting game, I did a respectable 3rd out of 4 players....the scores were about 4k/3k/2k/1k so I think I decent enough given that the 1st and 2nd place guys were much more 18xx experienced. Hopefully I'll get a play of Brass and/or Great Zimbabwe soon enough!
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14. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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------
Dominion 22 (Isotropic)
Innovation 9 (Isotropic)
Connect6 3 (LittleGolem)
Go 3 (Kiseido Go server)

Abtract Mondays
---------------
Shogi 2
Carnac 1
OMEGA 1

Qwertymartin's House
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Pax Porfiriana 1
RRR 3
Counterpoint 1
Indian Chief 1

With Kathryn
------------
Bali 1

Well this week marked the sad passing of Dominion Isotropic from the interwebs. So I tried to squeeze in as many games as possible and held vigil at the end (worth a read for the site host's eulogy).
I played it 22 times this week. It is a top top game, and all you suckers that disagree with me are unequivocally wrong

Since Dominion went down I've been hitting Innovation hard. Unfortunately not in the same league as Dominion but some fun nonetheless. The game is far too complex to track in person or online near the end and the early game is dominated by a small number of strong cards; Tools(1) and Mathematics(2). Though I did see a fascinating Fermenting(2) win yesterday. Innovation is some wacky mental fun. Quite enough for me to know that GtR and RftG are permanently in it's wake (not that they were exactly worth my time to begin with).

In other online news I'm having a go (badum chick!) back at KGS. The problem with KGS? Precious wrankers. I can't gain a rank because noone will play against someone without a rank...! Enjoying it but looking fordward to some proper competition. If anyone plays on there and wants a game let me know.

The Connect6 division I'm in is very weak so I'm just blitzing through those games to hopefully get a decent game in the next championship.

Played a cople of games of Shogi where I threw away early huge leads. I need to learn to defend my King or be more decisive in attack. Stephen is an excellent chess player though so it's not too surprising. We tried Carnac with the wrong rules three times (I lost them all but it was still fun), and once with the right ones; which I won handily. Stephen preferred his rules .

We played Omega. It was a bit crap, but the set can be used to play nearly any hex board abstract game.

I had a glorious victory over Martin in Pax Porfiriana and I look forward to a rematch. I see no reason to ever play with hidden hands. I crushed him at RRR but then, I have played it alot. He destroyed me in Indian Chief and I think I've made a convert (I assume everyone else took my suggestion and played it... right?!) and we're collaborating on some improvements to the rules, kinda. We tried one hand (I'm still counting it!) of Counterpoint which was slightly underwhelming though this wonderful geeklist by rayzg, a recent geekbuddy, lists it among some facinating looking trick takers.

Oh and I played Bali with some variant rules with Kathryn. Some worked well others were not quite there yet. We had fun and she's kicked off a bit of a word game penchant. She's been asking for Banangrams, Boggle or Bali again. Good news.
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15. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:186]
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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Agricola x3 (1 4p, two solo)
Agricola: ACBAS (x2)
18NY
Eleminis
Haggis (3p)
Innovation
Poker (5p, x 12ish?)


I'll start with the one I know everyone wants to hear about. Eleminis is a kids' card game about the elements. The point of the game is to collect all 5 elements. Yes, 5. 5 Elements. In the game, you have Fire, Rock, Air, Water, and Plants. You also have Star cards (wilds) and Trash. On your turn, you draw a card, and you can place it in front of you, or you can place it in front of someone else. You can only ever have 5 cards in front of you, so if you draw a Trash card, you can screw someone over by having it clog their tableau.

You can also cover up an opponents' card because each card has a "Suit" of an element, but then also two sub-suits, where a Fire can cover up (I don't remember) Rock and Plants. So if your opponent already has a Fire card and a Plant card, you can cover up his Plant and give him a second Fire card. Then there are the Uno actions, as some cards have you reverse order, or discard 2 from anyone's tableau, etc.

It was light, had screwage, and worked with beers. The guy who owns it is a teacher and bought it for his classroom, but after playing it with some friends decided it also works as a light adult game.

After Eleminis and after dinner, I taught Agricola. 4p, 2 new players. I dislike teaching games, but since I own 90% of what we play, such is life. I forgot to have us start with food, so the game was tighter than normal, and I realized afterwards that I've been playing the "Sow a field" rule wrong every time I've played. Evidently you can sow multiple fields and not just one when you take that action. Whoops. Played it a dozen times and got that wrong every time. Growing veggies just got a lot easier.

Anyway, no one needed to take a begging card, everyone had a good time, and there was MUCH more interaction and cackling than I thought there was going to be. All the new players were trying to do was beat my mother's score in her one game of Agricola (her score was 4. 4 points. 4). But it was great. I enjoyed myself so much, in fact, that one day over lunch last week I played two solo games. In the first, I crested the 50-point goal by one point and finished with 51. In the second, you aim for 55 and I fell one short at 54. I don't think I'm very good at solo action efficiency/optimization games, but there's a ton of replay just in the few I do own (Agricola and Notre Dame are the only ones that come to mind). My guess is that both the new players buy their own copies soon, if they haven't done so already. My brother won, one of the newbies placed second, I placed third (this is my life), and the other newbie placed fourth.

I had an abbreviated 18xx day on Saturday, as I could only stay until 4. We got in a game of 18NY (still in the prototype stages), and one of my opponents wrote up a little thing over on the WNY GeekList here. That's where I'll track/describe ftf 18xx plays from now on. But the short-short version is that 18NY is like 18EU, 1861, 1826 and 1830 mashed into one, and this game was simply awesome. You have a regular 1830-style Private auction, and then you have minor companies that you start with and that payout 50%/50%, as in 18EU. These minors can either be run and merged into the New York Central which forms mid-game, or they can be merged into a major company, or they can be forcibly merged into another player's major company via a hostile takeover. Majors are floated and are funded via incremental capitalization, and all trains are hex-based until you get to the 5Es and Diesels. I had no good sense of how to play the game simply through the rules explanation, but this game was terrific. As is my wont, I came in third, albeit by about a hundred bucks. The game had a slow, money-tight opening, then majors started to form and money/trains started to shuffle and then it utterly exploded toward the end. There were company dumps (which doesn't happen in 18EU), there were hostile takeovers, and, ultimately, the game-centered NYC was mercy-killed because the director was about to dump it, trainless and broke, onto a player (there's no yellow or brown area on the stock market in 18NY--but once stock drops into a "black zone," the company disappears). Given a choice between this and 18EU, I will choose 18NY every time. 5.5 hours, including teaching.

Haggis, Poker, and Innovation were all at a St. Patrick's day party. At first there were 5 of us left at the party, so we played a dozen or so hands of poker, all different kinds. Draw, Stud, Texas Hold 'em, something called Hot Bottom, and a few others. I'm a terrible poker player, but might start playing once a month.* Haggis was 3p (my first 3p game ever) with my neighbor and his wife. It was a learning game for her. Naturally she won handily, then announced "I like this game, good night, guys," as she went to bed. This is my life.

Innovation was 2p over a beer. After I fell behind early in points and achievements, I rushed the draw piles and got a nice Emancipation-Printing Press combo working, and was drawing/scoring the ten pile pretty soon thereafter. He couldn't stop me (I out-Clocked him and he had no hope of matching me) and I won on achievements 6-2.

Finally, I was sick last week and missed work Thursday and Friday. Friday night I felt better, enough to play my shiny new copy of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small with my wife. The story with this is that I turn 35 soon, and my family all think I'm hard to shop for, so I get gift cards. Lots and lots of gift cards. So with this year's stash, I wound up buying a few expansions for things I already have, and then ACBAS, because Martin likes it and because it's small.

It just absolutely screams "low-conflict couples game." Oozes it, in fact. Even the cover of the box shows a happily-married couple gazing lovingly at one another amid the gentle, comforting fertility of their sheep multitudes. And, unsurprisingly, my wife loved it. Enjoyed it so much that she requested a game of it last night. So I made us some stiff White Russians, and off we played. And while I beat her in Game #1 45-30, she edged me out last night 37-36. Again, this is my life.

* As much as I'd like to just play games I know and love and convert all my friends and their friends to my preferred hobbies, other people are trying to do that same thing to me and my friends and with different hobbies that they're passionate about. Poker it is.
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16. Board Game: Indian Chief [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:8766]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Another excellent week. My entry should probably be Pax Porfiriana having played it three nights running, but I promised George I would big up this cool little card game, which I played three times too.

Monday: on Vassal and Skype with DJ and Tom

Pax Porfiriana - we were keen to try a 3p online game and after a few technical hiccups it worked really well. The Vassal interface does slow things down a bit, and this game went all the way to a money victory after a 4.5 hour Skype session! Huge amounts of fun though. DJ and Tom are great guys and we were joking and giggling all the way through. As I pointed out to them, we are three of the top four for logged plays of Pax so this was probably the most experienced table ever assembled outside playtesting!

Tuesday: my place with 'our George'

RRR x3 - another Kanai hit for me but I need to get better as George demolished me each time.

Indian Chief - George has often mentioned this modern standard-deck card game so I was keen to learn. It's great! The idea is that there are seven different 'melds' you need to make over the course of the game (once each, but in any order) and there's a bit of hand management to score the most points from them. A bit like Yahtzee without the dice. It takes 10 minutes and can play up to 8 with two decks.

Pax Porfiriana - George is a quick learner and was soon pulling dastardly moves like playing both Rebel Governors, making it impossible to build anywhere in Mexico. I bought the final Topple thinking it gave us a tie on money, but unfortunately it seems there is a tie-breaker I didn't know about

Innovation - I got revenge with an early scoring engine leading to a 6-0 win. George was about to Vaccinate my score pile away but he was just too late.

Counterpoint - another modern/trad card game, this one by David Parlett. It's kind of a hybrid of his wonderful Ninety-Nine and the traditional game Sixty-Six. You drop cards from your hand as a bid, but in this one you're bidding for the point-value of the cards you take, not just the number of tricks.

Wednesday: LoB

Pax Porfiriana - completing this week's trilogy, a 3p this time. I thought I'd won once, but was stopped by a 'during toppling card', then Jason thought he'd won, but had Unrest on one of his Loyalty points, and then I did win

UR - my new acquisition and I rather like it. It's very dry and brain-burny but also feels refreshingly different. The neat twist is that the double-sided tiles making up the map also determine the actions you can take. At the end of your turn you swap your action tile with one on the map, both changing the geography and signalling to everyone which actions you'll be able to take next time.

Sumeria - this new-to-me area-majority game was a bit underwhelming though. It reminded me a lot of China but felt more repetitive, and the turn order system doesn't seem to work properly.

Indian Chief - I shared this little gem and won again, but one of the players complained that he'd never drawn an Ace (crucial to one of the melds). I think he missed an opportunity to steal one earlier in the game though.

Sunday: with friends

Indian Chief (with just Sarah) - she liked it, especially as she beat me.

Dobble - never fails to amuse

Love Letter x2 - a whitewash of a first game and a close run second.

Liar's Dice - just about managed to avoid one player winning with all his dice intact.

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17. Board Game: Angola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:1754]
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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Time is a commodity I have very little of what with the shop being perma busy. I do manage to slide off to Eastbourne for 4 days for a Euro fest at the Counter magazine get together. The gaming highlight was my first play of the Ragnar's 'Angola'. My notes 'Almost futuristic for 1988 - asymmetric, card driven. The specialist unit/equipment and of fog of command/programming via cards superb. Maybe too long for today's tastes but a real epic with interesting ( and thematic) catch up mechanism via foreign aid.'

Other games played

Bora Bora My favourite Feld (not that is saying much) since In the Year of the Dragon. Not so much a point salad as whole Buffet.

Nieuw Amsterdam2 plays. Brutal auction game with 4 players, flabby and no tension with 3. Lovely board

World Without End2 plays. This is a close as I have got to having a bucket of night soil emptied on my head. Objectively I should not like this game but it has a great narrative.

Myrmes. Worker placement/Goods conversion/area controlish- with the area control part being the most interesting as your ants try to lay bigger and better pheromone trails on the board, block in other ants and maybe destroy other players trails/

Snowdonia

Pirate DiceRobbo Rally with dice and more take that. Not keen

Also Il Vecchio (goes down a notch with every play)and Oddvillewhich we played with wrong rules.





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18. Board Game: Hacienda [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:724]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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One game: Hacienda an Alphabet challenger, although presumably there are still some G's left to play. We played on the asymmetrical board, where I was allowed to create a huge waving chain offering plenty of opportunity to place watering holes. I took an insurmountable lead in the first half of the game, and basically mucked about in the second: it was enough for the victory. In my partner's defense I have to add that she was nursing Junior who had had a bit of a rough day, so all sorts of blocking opportunities were not really taken. Hacienda really needs a bit of an attacking and blocking mindset, otherwise it fizzles out—as was the case now.

But other than that a relaxed evening of simple but fine dining and catching up on the latest gossip.
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19. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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Two visits to LoB last week.

11th March

We have a new American member called Ben coming to LoB recently. Ben asked me if had any games a bit heavier than he had been playing there so far so on Monday I bought in Terra Mystica. I played the Giants, well known for being difficult to play. I made a crucial mistake on the first turn, I used all of my workers to terraform one space and build a dwelling. What I should have done was burn some of my power to acquire a priest, upgraded my spade ability and then terraformed and built. This would have left me in the same position on the board but in a much better position for future builds.

Terra Mystica is an unforgiving mistress and I was never able to make up for this mistake finishing second again. Regular readers will already know I always come second. It’s a bit annoying to see lots of session reports where players quite often win with scores lower than my second place finishes. I will win one day.

My second place finishes continued with Aquaretto, thus blowing my previous 100% win ratio at the game. I knew I should have quit while I was ahead. Comparing Aquaretto to Zooloretto reminds me of last week and comparing TTR to TTR: Europe . Aquaretto has a bit more to it than Zooloretto, so I like it just a bit more. Most of you will still probably say you prefer Coloretto.


12th March

Another night and another game for Ben. This time it was Tzolk’in. This is a game it seems I am destined never to get. Playing with one veteran and two newbies I managed to finish dead last and it was not even close. It really does not seem to matter what strategy I follow in this game I always finish last.

A bit of light relief afterwards with a game of Sharp Shooters. A quick dice game that has a lot of luck but is also quite good fun.
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