GCL Phoenix 118 - Time of the Phoenix (7 April 2013)
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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You appear to have found the 118th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Welcome to our regular subscribers! If you've become a regular without my knowing about it, please feel free to thumb the list so that I know you're there.

If you're not a regular, and the notion of a Game|Geek Chat League seems peculiar or unfamiliar, please check out the wiki page.

As usual, members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars. The canonical text says "constructively and respectfully", but I hesitate to imply a higher bar for visitors than for ourselves. Perhaps I might suggest "try not to embarrass yourself", since that's the (admittedly low) bar that I attempt to impose on myself with at least intermittent success.) Our roster comprises:
BennyD
chally
Dormammu
Eeeville
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
Lowengrin
Morganza
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
Taibi <-- next week's correspondent.
tjshields
topherr
woodnoggin

Inactive members (they might say "former", but I'm not interested in that distinction):
Bruzza
enzo622
JohnRayJr
judoka
leroy43
yokiboy

Some of our regular visitors (GCL affiliated or not):
EgorjLileli
Eric Brosius
quertymartin
WriteGamer
If you need to be added, let me know.

For the old-timers amongst us, I realize something close to this topic was chased in Roger's GCL Phoenix 22 - In Search of Lost Time (06/05/2011); I'm going to try to do it slightly differently - but if you go back and read his list and think that I didn't get enough separation please feel free to quibble.

Why am I recycling a topic? Well, I played a nearly 11-hour session of Here I Stand yesterday. It was, indeed, appropriately epic: loads of cool things happened, and I really enjoyed the proceedings, despite the fact that they proceeded at a somewhat leisurely fashion. But there was a degree of insanity to it, too. And I found myself wondering about time, and the way I spend it playing, researching, or even just thinking idly about games.

Roger wondered what one game one might play, given (different) fixed amounts of time. I'd like to spin that slightly. Suppose you were at a dozen-hour long gamesday. How much of that time would you like to spend playing games? How many games would you like to play? Would you stop for food? Drink? Would you spend time socializing; kibitzing; talking about the games that have occurred? Would you play the games as efficiently as possible, or enjoy them in a more leisurely fashion?
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1. Board Game: Time Agent [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:3969]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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So you've got twelve hours to spend, do you? How many different games would you want to play? And with how many different opponents?
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2. Board Game: Fast Food Franchise [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:4042]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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How much sustenance would you require for a long game day? Would you take a break for lunch? Snack along the way?
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3. Board Game: No Time to Waste [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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How efficient would you be on your game day? Would you jump from one game to the next? Or indulge in socialization and banter?
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4. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1242]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played
_7_ Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer x3
_7_ Il Vecchio x2 New to Me
_8_ Carson City x1 Out of the Dust
_8_ Vanuatu x1


Expansions Used

_7_ Ascension: Return of the Fallen x3


The Gaming Week in Review

Not wanting to push S to hard after the "Bora Bora Incident" the week before, the first half of the week consisted of only three games of Ascension. She took two of them and I one.

It wasn't until Friday night that we did some "real" gaming. P came over and the three of us played Vanuatu. S won. I find this game has a lot going on with just three; I can't imagine the amount of messing that can happen with five.

Someday...

Yesterday and today saw the first two plays of Il Vecchio. It's okay as a two-player, but I think it'd be better with at least three as there'd be a bit more chaos when it comes to the movement of the middlemen. As every time a middle man is activated, he moves away, with only two players, it's pretty easy to intercept the one you want. A third or fourth player in the mix would add more unpredictability one's planning.
 

P was over again tonight so we dusted off Carson City. I wasn't exactly wanting to play it, but P had suggested it on Friday (when we played Vanuatu instead). One of the last times, S and I played it, it was with our gaming friends (L&C) and we'd had so much fun with it as a four-player, I'd lost interest in it at the lower counts.

As a result none of us had played Carson City since December 2011 so I did a quick skimming of the rules before we started. S took an early lead thanks to remembering how powerful the dollars for victory points conversion spots were and she never gave up the lead. I lost a gun fight over a mine early and hadn't the money to build a cash engine from the get go, and never really felt I had a chance (although in the end, I was only one point behind P).

All in all, Carson City was the most entertaining game of the week.


The Gaming Week Ahead

The Opening Day Weekend - Canadian Math Trade ends this week. I don't expect any of my trades will go through, but I've been surprised before. I may tweak my picks a bit; I'd be willing to accept some gift certificates, but I suspect that when people trade away certificates, they don't really factor cost of postage into the value of the trade.

Anyway, depending on the results of the Math Trade, I may order The Palaces of Carrara. But Pax PourforFour has been trickling into Canadian shops so I'm considering it as well; although S would never play it so how much it'd get played around here...? Well, it'd be about nil.
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5. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:174]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 6Apr2013:

21/18/169 plays of 17/15/88 total games, with 0/0/19 expansions employed.
Plays with 16/15/57 distinct opponents.

1/1/10 games acquired (plus 0/0/1 expansions.) - my copy of New Amsterdam finally made it home.
0/0/2 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 5 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.

With lovely wife and son #2:
1x _6.7_ Liar's Dice - This one was provoked by the youngster - and my wife was kind enough to join us when I told him that the game worked better with more than two players. We had some fun with it - though the little guy might have challenged a few more bids than he might have preferred in retrospect.

With my Mom and other family members:
1x _8_ Through the Desert - This is one of my Mom's favourite games - that she can't get to the table. She owns a copy, but since Dad died, she'd not managed to convince any of her friends to play. So we try to get it to the table during her visits. Daughter #1 won this one - though the spread from first to last was very tight (not nearly normal in my experience with this one when there are five players; we usually have a couple folk fall badly off the pace.)
1x _7.3_ No Thanks! - Mom owns a copy of this one, too - but she's not got it to the table recently either. We really enjoyed this play: it's a simple easy thing, and surprisingly compelling given its minimality.
1x _7_ Escape from the Hidden Castle - Oops; forgot to mention this one. We played one session - three games in a row. The first couple played out very similarly (where Hugo ascended the stairs early - so the far side of the corridor was more prudent than the near.) But in the final game, things changed up: Hugo didn't get to the top of the stairs until nearly all the pieces were gathered just to the left of the stairwell: it was fun to see the variation. (This, too, is ranked more highly than it deserves after years of amusement.)
1x _7_ Black Vienna - Daughter #1 is still on her deduction game kick; and this one worked really really well for us. It's easier with three players than with more - so it was a nice light diversion for us.
1x _7_ FITS - We'd played last week too - and this was the redemption game for mom: she'd enjoyed it the first time out, but didn't do as well as she'd hoped. This time things went much better: she had a much better idea about what to do, what to expect, and what risks might be worth taking - and it showed.
1x _7_ Timeline: Inventions - This game reminds me of Dad, we had some fun with it (more, perhaps, than the game really deserves.)
2x _6.7_ Piece o' Cake - A couple plays: again, one to learn the game, and another for redemption where she made better decisions. The most amusing thing for me is that the finish order of the first game was entirely reversed in the second!
2x _6.7_ Qwirkle - A game that Mom admits she might actually like to own a copy of (which is actually saying something; she's been trying to remove things from her house for the last 10 years.) Much like the other games we'd played twice, this is one where we all did better on the second play.
1x _6.7_ Little Devils - My youngsters thought their Grandma might be turned off by the little devil heads - but it turned out they didn't bug her. She had no difficulty at all with this one (and the kids enjoyed themselves.)
1x _6.7_ Ingenious - Another she enjoyed: "Excellent, but not quite as cool as Qwirkle" was her review. She did well at it, too - so we didn't need a rematch.
2x _6.3_ Animalia - This was a favourite of daughter #1 and her BFF-de-l'année four years ago - and we'd not played for a while. But she and Mom enjoyed the play even if we didn't know what we were doing. Again, the second play was to see if we could do better than the first round - and, indeed, we could.

At the local Game Day (with Dave & Aliza):
1x _8.5_ Here I Stand - I was the French. I enjoyed an uneasy détente with my Anglo neighbours; "fought" a completely bloodless campaign in Spain; discovered the Amazon basin and much of North America; built a bunch of Chateaux; taunted the Papacy a bit more than might be thematically sound - and probably contributed a bit more to the Protestant victory than I'd really care to acknowledge. It was a hugely long endeavour: some of that was our relative novice-hood (we didn't have a lot of complete games between the six of us) some of it was that we weren't always completely focussed on getting the game completed. Yet it was really compelling, too. A spectacular experience.

With a couple of the Wednesday Night gamers:
1x _8_ Pax Porfiriana - This was quite glorious: might easily have been the headliner in a different week. The three person game was very much more interesting than the two-player one. We ended on the third topple (but either of the two previous ones might well have ended the game, had one of us managed to wrangle a different government.) The other two guys really enjoyed it, too - so I've some (perhaps irrational) optimism that there are more games in store with the same folk.
1x _7.7_ Glory to Rome - This was the weirdest instance of GtR I've yet seen. I've only played 22 times - so I'm sure there's a lot of other other weirdness yet to experience. But we had one player get an early Colosseum and Wall - and then bludgeon the other two of us to death by a metaphorical Legionnaire's Disease. It wasn't remotely close.

With (a different) friend Dave:
1x _8_ Pax Porfiriana - It was very cool, but not quite up to the glory of the three-player version. Really happy to have played twice this week, though!
1x _9_ Le Havre - Only a partial play - we ran out of time, because Dave needed to get home to his realtor (he's, sadly, moving out of the area. Well, sadly for me: I think he'll be happier a bit further from the urban blob.)

With the back-on-Fridays game gang:
1x _7.3_ Fleet New! - It was pretty cool: but I'm afraid that the other folk were (in my opinion; tuned by a recent brutal game of New Amsterdam) a bit more gentle about their bids than the game demanded. It was fast & cute; the theme was fresh; there were cool decisions to be made. I rather liked it - and more than I'd expected given its Kickstarter heritage.

Owned-and-unplayed: 14 (+0/-0)

Outlook for the week: Perhaps New Amsterdam on Wednesday (if we get enough players.) If not; perhaps it's Pax Porfiriana!
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6. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:174]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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As mentioned, I was in the Here I Stand game with Dave:

Me: papacy (0.5 previous plays)
Erich: Ottomans (experienced)
John: Haps (0.5 previous plays)
Dave P: France (?)
Dave E: England (one previous play years ago)
Jeff Shih: Protestants (first play)

On some levels we've been trying to get this game to the table for almost a year.

Sorry for the lack of detail; I'll come back and edit tomorrow after my first day at my new job.

--------------------------------
Sunday at lunch:
Lost Cities
Pandemic 2x2p

Sunday with Hawk and Bill:
Marriage Material (first and hopefully last play)
Settlers (yes, old-school Settlers of Catan)

Monday at Y!:
BSG with Exodus Expansion 6p (long epic game ending with Galactica destroyed)

Tuesday at SVB:
Nieuw Amsterdam 5p

Wednesday:
We barely kept Erich from auto-winning Successors.

Thursday:
King of Siam 2p

Friday:
Nieuw Amsterdam 5p (win with Big Land)
RftG 3x3p.

Saturday, Gamesday:
HIS 6p
South African Rails 4p
Hanabi 3p

Sorry for the lack of detail. Lots going on in my life.
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7. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:378]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Hanabi x 5

More 3-player Hanabi this week. In 5 games, our scores were 21, 24, 24, 24, 25 and 26. Notable were the 26 because it was an all-time best for us (I had 4 fives in my hand at game's end) and one of the 24's (the Rainbow 1 was the very bottom card of the deck, capping us at 26 possible points). Playing the game regularly with the same group has been so satisfying. This game is deserving of its place in my top 10.

Innovation x 1

My play log:

Today Bryan came over and we played vanilla Innovation to start with. I like the expansions, but I still firmly believe that base Innovation is the best experience. This game is just brilliant. We had an odd game this morning. I teched ahead early with Tools (more out of lack of other good options than any real plan) but he leapfrogged me a short time later with Education. Neither of us was scoring many points at all. We were into the Age 9 cards by the time I achieved the 4. It was a wonderful session. He leapt into the 6 pile while I was in 3. I used Construction to steal his Metric System. HA! I melded Skyscrapers - he covered up his clocks. Eventually he got Railroad and Empiricism, drew a Blue cards with the latter, splaying Blue up and giving him 21 science for the win.

Pixel Tactics x 1

I won a best-of-3 match against my neighbor. This is a wonderful, aggressive little 2-player game and I'm glad to have discovered it.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar x 1

My friend beat the bejesus out of us by teching up quickly, staying late in turn order, getting lots of food and buying the more expensive actions up. He was top dog on all 3 temples at the end. We're all pretty inexperienced, myself included. So far I just kind of play tactically, doing whatever seems best at the time. Next time I'm going to go in with a plan (I think I'm going to focus on materials and build a lot and see how that goes). I like Tzolk'in, but this game sucked just because it wasn't competitive.

Pax Porfiriana x 1

A 4-player game with a fairly even card distribution. It was the first play for one of us, and the second play for the rest. We're still far from understanding how to play well, but we're figuring out how to play. There are many layers to this one, and I was very glad to see it received well. We finished up in about 90 minutes and ended on the 2nd topple.

The Speicherstadt (with Kaispeicher) x 1

With some planning and a bit of luck, I landed each of these in the recent math trade. Kat and I had a rare bit of time to play something together, so I taught this one to her as we tend to like FEEEEEELD around these parts. This one is no exception; I like the dickery of the bidding, the hefty metal coins and the charming artwork. I'm pretty sure I screwed up the deck as we had an uneven amount of cards at the end, so we just pitched those and ended it (all 4 were static scoring cards). The balance of money shifted back and forth with each of us being bullied by the other at various points. She bought more contracts and ships than I did, while I had more firemen and utility cards.

Much to my surprise, I won: 53-45. I enjoyed it and so did my wife, and I really dig the aesthetics of the game. I feel that it's probably best with more than 2, but it's okay at that count and finishes in about an hour. Thanks again, Jon, for teaching the game to me months ago.



The upcoming week:

This week's therapy session is tonight. Still going well. I have about a week and a half left at work. Exciting and terrifying.

Game-wise, I'll have the usual morning session with my neighbor and multiplayer session at the shop on Wednesday, hopefully sprinkled with more Hanabi here and there throughout the week.

Oh, and God's Playground arrived yesterday from SPAIN (thanks for the tip, Aliza!). I tore the shrink off, examined it a bit and put it on the shelf. I'll sort and bag the bits and read the rules this week, maybe see if I can find a how-to-play video on here.
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8. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:95] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Three games of Railways of the World this week. (This is a picture from yesterday's game.) I had a +2 bonus for each link I built out of Chicago, so I filled in all 4. We were neck-in-neck in the last round. I upgraded to a 5-train and made a couple of 5 deliveries. Sam was doing some 3 deliveries, which let me just about close the gap. When it was time to subtract for bonds, he had more, nudging him behind me. I won by 2 points, but it could have gone either way.




Also did some solo and 2p playtesting of my prototype, and worked on the above image for the rules booklet cover.
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9. Board Game: TZAAR [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:348] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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_10_ Pax Porfiriana x2
_10_ Twilight Struggle
_8_ Tzaar x3
_8_ Haggis

I made it to Ben's apartment, a great city pad in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. I think next time I'll take up the offer of a sofa and play into the night, he and S. and his cats made me comfortable & all sorts of things are a short walk away. (DJ & Max, this is the part of town with the Troll under the bridge). We'd planned to be joined by J. for our rotation of Chicago Express, German Rails, Indonesia, and/or a learning game of The Great Zimbabwe, but J. didn't make it.

Tzaar was a delight. What is remarkable is the player created aspect - our choices essentially develop the board & stresses that become the game. The shift in thinking that occurs over the game I found exquisite. Three plays gave us a good view of the game & it's a keeper. Bryan, you are right. I hope we keep playing it and start adding the others to the list. Quick, energizing, and aesthetically the pieces & the simplicity made me a fan.

Twilight Struggle was a hesitant affair. Pretty much a learning game for Ben, and I haven't played in a very long time as 1989 had taken it's rotational slot. My deck familiarity and earlier 'confidence' in choices needed a slight reboot. I say hesitant, as we quickly ran into a card FAQ situation that screwed Ben on his hand development, then he boxed himself into blowing up the world on a forced nuke in the second round (another blindside). I'd love Ben to fall for this game, as it'd be nice for us to get a deep, long replayable 2-player game going between us. But it's always good to realize the implicit early awkwardness of a game design we love, for TS you really need that initial hook (thematic? what's your hook?) to get you through both building up reasonable deck + map heuristics and absorbing the hand management implications of the gamier aspects of the mechanics. Plus, the FAQ hinkiness addressing the inconsistencies of card text with game terms. I really wish GMT would float a third edition and get this right so this burgeoning classic can have a long lifetime.

Ben had just beat me on Haggis with a big bet and stuffing me holding some 6 (iirc) cards for a huge point up as I ran out the door to make the last bus home. We really need to play to 350 for a beer.


Just a delight to be in your home Ben, thanks, I have a new 'place to be' on my personal map of the world. Everyone, don't pass up a chance to join him in Fremont. Gracious & comfortable & the gaming is top drawer.

*

One Pax was at my place, an 2-player that walked a crazy tightrope to a $ win in the end. I won with $116 to $50. After neither of us could win on the early topples, I cut bait and went economy, my outrage lead permitting me to have my way with his enterprises, and managed to offset (& make expensive) his continued attempts at topples #3 and 4.

The other was another epic 3-player with DJ and Joel. I tried hard to convince DJ he needs to let me live deeper into the game so I can be strong enough to help drag Joel down. Did the bastard buy it? What do you think?

I really need to change up my game with the crazy Iowans, I was crushed without pity because I made an early (weak) attempt (within $1, dammit) early outrage topple. Because I was such a greedy prick the others calmly kicked me down into the basement. In the end, Joel won on the long game with money, and really took it to us both as we closed on the the last couple turns and realized he'd created both a $ and final topple double threat that was unassailable. So he drove the win home giggling. Another stingy game financially, I think Joel had about $25 at the win. Always a particular pleasure playing with these two, the game patter a mix of humor, insight, and genuine love of the game.

I love this game. The experience is almost Twilight Struggl-ish for turn-to-turn tension. It also has that experience game ensemble; win or lose you have a dramatic narrative arc that's rewarding.

*

On the personal front, I secured a downtown art studio and should have the keys in a week. I'm very excited to set up shop again.
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10. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:50]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

.10! Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization 2
.10! Hanabi 3
_9_ Twilight Imperium 1 New!
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 8
_8_ Merchant of Venus 2
_8_ Seasons 1
_7_ Code 777 2
_7_ Shadow Hunters 2

Week in Review

High quality week of gaming. I'm continuing to play games of Through the Ages online with the same three people (me plus two others). I have two more games running now.

Saturday, we took the plunge and played Twilight Imperium! We knew it was a learning game and had a timeframe which we didn't anticipate would allow for a complete game: 5 hours. Teaching the rules and setting up took over an hour. We only played three full turns but I really loved this game. It's quite stunning that anyone considers Eclipse a substitute, as it has nowhere near what this game offers. TI does a very good job of throwing in everything you might want from a giant space opera. Obviously there's exploration, direct conflict and tech tree advancement. But there's also the political deck, which sees the players voting in Galactic Council on agendas and laws, and the action card deck, with many oddball surprises that keep the game unpredictable. All in all, a huge success for me personally and likely to make my Top Ten games as soon as I can play a full length game.

Sunday, I taught Merchant of Venus to the gf and another friend. We completed a 3P game and then a 4th player showed up. He'd been wanting to learn Shadow Hunters, so we agreed to teach him even though 4P isn't a very interesting player count. We played two quick, ridiculous games; at least he knows how it works. After a game of Code 777, he left to get some sleep and the original 3 of us decided to play Merchant of Venus again. It's not often you get to play the same game back-to-back this way, which was great fun. I was very happy to play this a couple more times.

Perhaps my tastes are evolving more Ameritrashy. TI and MoV were slamdunk highlights of the week, with nothing else being close (in terms of live gameplay).
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11. Board Game: Tell Me No Lies [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played

It was a quiet week. I've been dealing with house rearrangement issues and only got a couple of games played.

_7_ Keltis x1

I brought Keltis with me to dinner with my sister-in-law, and four / five of us played it. Players were myself, my wife, my brother in law and my sister in law with assitance from my daughter. Surprisingly, both my brother and sister in law enjoyed this and seemed willing to play again. This may be my first real victory at getting them to play something since we arrived a year ago. My wife won with a score of 31, while her sister had 29, my brother in law 23, and I ended at 21, but who cares. A game we can all play! Victory!

_7_ Lectio x1

After Keltis, my daughter dragged her uncle away for other activities, while my youngest son jumped in to play this. In the end my wife won again with 168, then my youngest son 152, while I had 148, and my sister-in-law only 129. Still, she seemed to enjoy this too, although without her husband playing the enthusiasm seems a bit less, so I'd say Keltis won the day in her heart.

Those games were fine, but I decided to find a game aligned with the concept of lying for this week's theme, as I'm about to change the way I record some things. I already wasn't recording all my "minor expansions" in my BGG database. I was including expansions for times when my setup changed more than a certain point. If I played Le Havre and happened to include a card or two from the Le Havre: Le Grand Hameau expansion, that was pretty trivial, so that expansion wasn't recorded. I was recording plays for Power Grid expansions that used alternative boards though.

It's that latter part I'm going to change going forward. Looking at my unplayed games list, I have included Power Grid Brazil/Spain & Portugal, for example, and yeah, I haven't played that yet, but it's still Power Grid. Originally, I was recording this kind of expansion to see how often I played one kind of board vs. another, but it doesn't work. If I record two plays of the above expansions, that could both be Brazil, or Spain/Portugal, or one of each. I still have to drill down to check my stats. Plus, it dilutes the overall plays of Power Grid, since i only record one play, not a play against both base game and expansion.

So, I moved my plays of this kind of expansion to the base game (affecting mostly Power Grid and Age of Industry), then deleted the expansions from my collection, which had the nice side effect of seemingly reducing my collection, but really, just making it more like how I think about it.

So for lack of anything truly interesting in my gameplay this week, I'm here to tell you I'm a lying liar who lies.

TRACK:

Tabled: 12 unplayed. (+Boże Igrzysko, -Power Grid: Québec/Baden-Württemberg, -Power Grid: Brazil/Spain & Portugal (collapsed to main game), -Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Urban Structures (also collapsed to main game))

Removed: 23 removed.
Acquired: 18 acquired. (Boże Igrzysko)

Cultish: 07 worthy / 08 played.
Kudos: 03 achieved / 15 progress.

2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos
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12. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:378]
Daniel Kenel
United States
New London
Iowa
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Games Played

With Michael:
Equinox x2
I can see the ample opportunity for clever play and nasty moves in a short 30 minute package but it just isn't exciting me at this point.

Clash of Cultures x1
Michael has been really wanting to get this one to the table and we finally got the chance. Even with fairly low expectations heading into the game I wasn't all that impressed. I'll play it again if someone is really pushing to get it to the table but I certainly feel no desire to seek out a future play.

A few things bothered me. I could see a 4p game taking a long, long time with a ton of downtime. That is just a guess since I've only got the 2p game experience but I'd be shocked if it didn't play out that way with more players.

I tend to really enjoy games that feature a tech tree to play around with. This game features a rather bloated, mess of a tech tree. There is so much going on with it that it can feel a bit overwhelming and will certainly lead to some long early games as players get familiar with all the options and how things interact.

One of the major ways of scoring points in the game is by accomplishing objective cards. You get 1 at the start of the game and then a new one at the end of each round. I really disliked this at it felt rather wonky with what cards you received and if it happened to fall into place with what you were already doing on the board.

The last significant issue I had was with the event cards in the game. As your civilization advances in a couple of different areas it can trigger event cards. These cards often feature nasty negative events that impact the players but once in a while a good event can take place. I saw no point at all in the cards and found them to be rather annoying. Just random bs the game throws at you.


With Tori:
Khmer x2
Tori crushed me in 2 straight games. I think every game we were either tied or she had me by 1 point at the time of the knock.

Il Vecchio x2
A couple of very close games. I won the first by 2 points and Tori came back to win our next game by 2 or 3 points. Have no doubt that this is a Euro. We found it be an enjoyable game that plays in about 50-60 minutes but I rather doubt it has more than 5-10 plays in it.

Online with Tom and Joel:
Pax Porfiriana x1
Tom beat me to the punch in talking about our most recent session of Pax. However, he failed to tell you how he continues to try to get me to fall on the sword for him in every single game to stop Joel. Bastard.

A growing concern I have with 3p Pax with open info is that it seems to always go the full game with a money winner. That bothers me a bit. With that in mind I took a gamble this game by going strong for a Command win and tossing most of my money away to do this with only 2 topple cards left.

I realized at the time that it was likely to grant a money win to Joel but I wanted to at least put the pressure of a topple win back into the game. Sadly not another single Command card ever made it to the market and Joel cruised to an easy money win.
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13. Board Game: Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 15:

Monday with my wife:
2x Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia
Another 2 games and we gave our feedback based on the 5 plays we managed over Easter. Looking forward to testing the next version.

1x _8.0_ Troyes w/ Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes
Unsure what to think of the expansion. Didn't use the ramparts at all, misunderstood my character cards and still managed to run away with the win 51-31. It certainly makes it harder to deduce what the other player has. Will play again soon hopefully.

The Week Ahead:
Work has exploded. A co-worker has succumbed to stress and is on sick-leave for the rest of the month meaning a lot more work for me for a few weeks until we either hire someone else or...

Still, I know my own limits and do not hesitate to say no, so I think I will be fine.
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14. Board Game: Seaside Frolics [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:12199]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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A tonne of gaming last week. It was LoB-on-Sea over the weekend, which ran into Monday, so I'll include all the games I played there, even though some were technically this week.

-8- Carcassonne: The Castle
-8- Ticket to Ride: Europe (+1912)
-7- Dominion (+Prosperity; Dark Ages)
-6- Vegas
-4- Mansions of Madness New!

LoB-on-Sea

|10| Age of Steam (+Ireland New!)
|10| Agricola (+WM Deck)
|9| Ginkgopolis
|9| Himalaya (+5-6 Player Expansion)
|9| Ricochet Robots (x3)
-8- Love Letter
-8- Macao
-8- Space Alert (x3)
-7- Basari New!
-7- Dobble (x2)
-7- Extrablatt New!
-7- FlowerFall (x2)
-7- Hacienda New!
-7- Pax Porfiriana New!
-7- Pictomania
-7- Ra
-7- Snowdonia
-7- Town Centre
-6- Crokinole (x2)
-6- Drunter & Druber New!
-6- Legends of Andor New!
-6- Lifeboats New!
-6- Snake Oil New!
-6- Ubongo 3D New!
-5- Animal Upon Animal (x2)
-5- Skittle-Bowl New!
-5- Tumblin' Dice
-4- We Didn't Playtest This At All (x2) r{New!}

A bunch of local roleplayers organise a boardgame day every bank holiday Monday, so I went along to that, having never been before. There were a few heavier games going on (Dominare, Tzolkin), but most of it was lighter fare and I just played Dominion, Ticket to Ride and Vegas. I lowered my rating of Dominion from -8- to -7- afterwards, as I'm just not enjoying it as much as I used to.

That evening, I tried Mansions of Madness, expecting a co-operative game. It turned out the scenario we were playing had a hidden traitor element to it, so it was more like playing Betrayal At House on the Hill. I was disappointed as it wasn't the sort of game I'd been expecting. Expectations aside, it's another in a long line of adventure games that leaves me feeling like I could have played an RPG scenario in the same amount of time, with a more immersive story. I did like the way the game throws a mix of problems at you, not just combat encounters but also spatial puzzles. In the latter, to reflect the differing abilities of characters, you only get as many moves per turn as your Intelligence characteristic, so the Scientist can solve the problem quicker than the Gangster. That was a good way of tying the theme into the gameplay, but the puzzles weren't very difficult. A lot of effort has gone into Mansions of Madness, and it's still a bit rubbish. I left thinking whether there could be a way of designing this type of game that I'd enjoy playing. Mage Knight comes closest - I suppose a haunted house re-theme using the same mechanisms could work.

Later that week, Kate and I drove down to Eastbourne, stopping half way to stay with
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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and Sarah for a customary game of Agricola. The four of us spent a lot of time playing it in Indonesia and New Zealand and between us we have over 1000 plays, so it's always an exciting game when we get together. After so many games over the weekend, I can't remember what happened here, except that Sarah won in a close game. The next day we carried on to the coast with Walt.

At the convention, I managed 36 plays of 27 different games, including most of the new ones I'd wanted to try. I would have liked to also play Neue Heimat, Sekigahara and Tammany Hall, but there wasn't time. Here are some quick notes on what I played:

Friday
Himalaya - taught to four new players, all of whom enjoyed it and wanted to play again. Great fun, but a bit more chaotic with the full six players.
Animal Upon Animal - a practice round ahead of Sunday's dexterity tournament. Kate's pretty good at this.
Macao - teaching Walt and Erin. The ambiguous card text and poor English translation caused some consternation. I got a good money engine going and was able to buy PPs from the Tribute Table regularly. Endgame points for multiple different offices sealed the deal.
Ra - somehow it looked like I knew what I was doing in this game, but I felt like I got lucky. I like how quick this game plays with people who know it well.
Ricochet Robots - more practice for the dexterity tournament, although what this was doing in there I don't know.

Saturday
Snake Oil - a kind of story telling party game, this was a lot better than I'd expected. In an Apples to Apples style, the judge draws a card to tell the players who the customer is for that round (e.g. a billionaire, a vampire, a cheerleader). Everyone else combines two cards from their hand to create a product that would appeal to that customer, then has to persuade the judge that their product is the best, going around the table in turns. This leads to some funny inventions and creative sales techniques. I was fortunate enough to be able to sell a Blood Closet to the vampire and a Storm of Silence to the hunter. John took the prize for best product of the game when he offered School Keys to the cheerleader, to give her somewhere to sneak off to with the captain of the team!
Snowdonia - Rikki (designer of Coup) wanted to play this again and warned us that he would show no mercy and play to win. Apparently he said this before any game he played, perhaps to psyche out the competition! Anyway, I had to disappoint him by winning instead. We played this at speed as Rikki and Walt had to finish in time to start the Eurogame tournament. Walt fell foul of the events track causing his newly-purchased engine to rust. I'd seen how that worked before so avoided buying one until later.
Lifeboats - a back-stabby negotiation game where there were opportunities for sneaky moves to put yourself ahead, but only with the risk of being picked on afterwards. Sherine and I stayed below radar for most of the game and I was happy to share the win with her... except I'd forgotten about the tie-breaker - her boat had come in first, so she won.
Legends of Andor - nicely put together and quite simple co-operative adventure game. The scenario we played was very balanced and it came down to the wire. In the end, the dragon got lucky and we were toast. I liked how indiscriminate combat is discouraged because the time track is advanced for every monster you kill, giving you less time to complete the scenario. That made the game feel different from other dungeon-hack adventures.
Age of Steam - This is one of our favourite games and also one of Jon's, so we jumped at the chance to play. Nobody else was interested in joining, so we tried out the 3-player Ireland map. Jon and I didn't notice until it was too late that Kate had a monopoly on the sea routes connecting red and blue cities, so there was no way for us to make deliveries in those colours without giving her points. Oops! The De-Urbanise action is nasty and I was struggling for good deliveries all game long, taking regular hits to my income. I think I only made money on the final turn. Kate ran away with it but it was still a fun game.
We Didn't Playtest This At All - From the sublime to the ridiculous. Fluxx by any other name, albeit slightly quicker.
Ginkgopolis - With hindsight, perhaps it wasn't such a great idea to teach this to new players after midnight. Kate always calls the resources "dibleys", which prompted Jon to call them "Chumleys" while Martin went for "Johnsons". Yeah, it was that sort of game. Luckily, nobody opted for Jon's endgame suggestion of trying to stuff as many of the grey cylinders into your mouth as possible... We put an asterisk next to Martin's score, as he claimed to have lost 10VPs somewhere.

Sunday
Drunter & Druber - a quick run through this old Spiel des Jahres winner. A decent filler which reminded me a little of Blokus meets Heimlich & Co. It's a tile-laying, route-making game with secret player colours and occasional voting on tile placement. The aim is to have your coloured spaces visible at the end of the game, while using your placements to cover up other coloured spots. Soren suggested it might be better if voting was secret, so you could better hide which colour you were rooting for. I enjoyed it and think it's worth playing as a lighter filler. The art is horrible, in the cartoony old-school German style (see also Um Reifenbreite).
Dobble - The Dexterity Decathlon began with a speed game. I came third, but only needed to not be last in the first three rounds to make it through.
Animal Upon Animal - Almost won this, but fluffed it on the last placement. Tournament rules were harsh - instead of taking two animals, we had to take all the animals we knocked off, putting me way behind. I managed to claw my way back to (joint) second.
Tumblin' Dice - Third place here meant I was through to the next round.
Ricochet Robots - Kate and I are quite practised at this, so it was a good chance to make up some points.
FlowerFall - Only Martin and I have copies of this, so it was new to most people. I was surprised to find my experience with the game benefitted me - I hadn't noticed I was getting any better at it, but won both rounds.
Ubongo 3D - New to me, but I like Expedition Pyramide and spatial puzzles, so this was good fun. The scoring system is a bit wonky, since it relies on luck of the draw. My luck held. Another game I'm not sure fits under the "dexterity" banner, but I wasn't complaining: it got me points.
Crokinole - I got off to a good start and everyone thought I was an expert. In fact, I'd only played once before and I was soon wiped off the board. The Willard board was so much nicer than the type available in the UK (I say "available", it's still pretty niche and hard to find) - smoother with bouncier pegs.
Skittle-Bowl - The decathlon was shortened by two games to save time. The final was this bar skittles game, with the final eight players handicapped based on their scores throughout the tournament. Kate was in the lead going in and held onto her position for the win, I was 4th and clawed my way up to 2nd. Very tense and exciting, except for Martin's epic spins which had the crowd yawning. Kate won a gold badge, a large gold letter D to hang on the wall (although the hook is placed so that if you do hang it up, the D is backwards!) and a copy of Geistes Blitz 2.0. I got a nice silver badge and Circus Maximus.
Hacienda - I've been wanting to play this for ages, ever since it used to hover around the Top 100. It's a decent Euro, a bit like Through the Desert with an economic engine. It felt of a similar weight to Thurn and Taxis, although I liked it a bit more, and I was surprised to see it wasn't SdJ-recognised.
Extrablatt - Martin taught us this brilliant old game. Really glad I got to try this. It has an interesting newspaper editor theme and quite an unusual blend of mechanisms. Some spatial elements, some take that play, plenty of laughs as you block opponents' stories with annoying adverts. We also had fun coming up with our own translations for the German stories we were placing in our newspapers.
Pax Porfiriana - I really should have gone to bed, but I didn't think I'd get another chance to try PaxPoff and see what you lot have been going on about. Martin taught (and won, of course). I said at the time I felt like I was in a whirlwind, cards spinning around me while I interacted with about 25% of the game. I was just happy to be able to come up with a plan and work towards it, even though it was almost certainly too slow to be effective. Very intriguing game.
Love Letter - An epic first to 3 where Jon, Alec and I all got 2 before blowing it big time and letting Martin catch up! Some spectacular shuffling tricks were displayed...

Monday
Basari - I love Edel, Stein & Reich, which is very similar to this, so wanted to see what the differences were. It's easier to read the game state in Basari since all the information is presented on a central board. It also seemed easier to collect lots of gems in this game, without the tight limit imposed by the supply in ESR and with fewer gems being discarded by a winning player, but this made it very hard to catch up to Kate with her huge gem lead. I missed the special power cards, which are replaced here by an extra movement/points action, but still enjoyed the light bluffing and deduction common to both games. Fun stuff but I think I prefer ESR.
Town Centre - This burned our brains. Kate and Sherine had warmed up with Card City earlier in the weekend, but I was thrown in at the deep end. I'd played a couple of times before but it took me a while to get back up to speed: time that Kate used to set up her massive residence victory. The extra dimension compared to Card City makes things much more complicated. Missing out on any additional income in the first round meant I couldn't afford an office in the second round, when it was my turn to pull bricks out of the bag, stifling my town's development.
Pictomania - Poor Rocky drew a perfect Pied Piper of Hamelin, but everyone had squandered their 5 on Kate's Cruise Control, assuming it was a Steering Wheel (she drew a picture of a cruise liner with a prominent ship's wheel).
Space Alert - teaching Eliza, we played three missions and didn't lose any of them, much to our surprise. It was touch-and-go when a Psionic Sattelite knocked us all out, but we weathered the storm. Always a pleasure.

A great weekend of games with a chance for fish and chips plus cream tea at the seaside, what more could you ask for?
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15. Board Game: TZAAR [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:348] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Ben Draper
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Last week was my Spring Break, but I wasn't able to convert the extra time off into much more extra gaming.

Sunday @ Cafe Mox w/ the M:TG crew
_10_Magic: The Gathering (x5)
Nothing particular memorable about this session play-wise. However, it was the impetus for my cutting the number of cards in the cube by half. I realized that the ideal of an 8-player draft just isn't realistic given my gaming circumstances. With a much more typical 4-player draft, I can safely cut the weaker half of cards, providing a more powerful play experience.

Saturday @ my place w/ Tom (tjshields)
_6_Twilight Struggle
As mentioned on Tom's entry, this game had a couple of major letdowns, from ambiguous card wording to an unforeseen auto-loss. That aside, I think I've realized I'm just not a wargamer. All three of the wargames I expected would appeal to me (Twilight Struggle, Sekigahara, and Hannibal) ended up disappointing.
_8_TZAAR (x3) New!
This, on the other hand, was a surprising hit. A recently finished novel (The Queen's Gambit) got me re-interested in trying out some abstracts. Something about the simplicity of the rules and the tension of the increasingly empty board makes for a satisfying game. I lost all three games, yet I felt that we were both improving after each game. My third game self would have crushed Tom's second game self.
_6_Haggis
This is actually more like an 8 for me, but I've just played it too much to garner much enthusiasm for playing. In that way, it has run a similar course to Puerto Rico. Tom took an early lead and I came roaring back with a big bet win on the final hand before he left. I'm interested in discussing Haggis strategy with those of you who know the game well. I feel like good play is rather non-intuitive in this game.
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