GCL Meatballs 101: On Numbers & Games
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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You have reached the GCL Swedish Meatballs, a division of BGG's Game Chat League.

Civil coomments from non-members are welcome (leave the incivility to members, please). We politely ask that non-members refrain from adding list items. Members are to add list items to discuss what they played that week.

Rotation:

bnordeng
NateStraight
Patrick Carroll
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johnbandettini
Osirus
ldsdbomber
cymric
fateswanderer
rarevos
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Sorp222
lacxox
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So although I'm changing from contracting to permanent work and currently between jobs I decided to skip that as a subject since it's not terribly interesting. The list is essentially a menagerie of ideas but perhaps there's a light theme of the conjunction of statistics and gaming.
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1. Board Game: Fibonacci [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:8976]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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What are your favourite statistics related to boardgames. Friendless' website is full of them and many BGGers over time have constructed formulae for popularity, ratings, collection usage etc.

Tell us or link us to your favourite examples.
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2. Board Game: Outpost [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1583]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Which games feel like a chore in terms of their use of mathematics. Calculating scores, auction values, reading out sequences of consequences, arbitrary limitations or thresholds that cause frustration.

Where does your personal comfort zone end and does this set you apart from your gaming friends or family.
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3. 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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In contrast to the above question, which game(s) subsume their mathematics in intuitive mechanisms or allow for other intuitive methods of deciding consequences and effects?

Alternatively, which game(s) do you make light work of the analysis but few others seem to see it the same way.
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4. Board Game: Saboteur [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:872] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Is there any game in which you've tracked extended statistics or analysis throughout the game or over a series of games?
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5. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:192]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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People that know I'm an actuary seem always to expect my mental arithmetic to be very sharp. Unfortunately it's not. I make mistakes all the time since I don't practice it.

Are you the calculator of your group? Do you mind calculators at the table?
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6. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Bonus Question: My wife decided to help by suggesting a question for my geeklist.

What is your favourite animal game? [I'm disallowing the representative item to make some of you think a little harder ]
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7. Family: Ticket to Ride
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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On Friday, in a gaming club I played the last two 2012 games I wanted to learn to be able to write my yearly best of list (to be published soon).

Milestones – is a game that wasn’t bad during play but the more I was thinking about it the more I liked it. It evokes the feel of Dorra games and Ralf zur Linde’s Finca at the same time (and this way I consider it a better co-design of them than Pergamon). I can't really put my finger on why it feels like Finca (there aren't really common mechanism elements here), but just like there, it's a game where short-term planning is more important than long-term; you have a rondel-like mechanism where first you collect different colored resources (with the never obvious decision - should I collect a lot of one type or 1-1 of different types?) then you "deliver" them - exchange them into points on a map, jumping on new possibilities created by others or cursing them for taking away the best scoring possibilities; finally you can decide when to end the game and even get 5 points for majorities on your tiles. Okay, the comparison is a bit forced but the feel is somehow the same for me. That's why I also strongly believe it has the potential to get a lot better after some repeated play.
Actually, I "got" how to play the game very fast; I even won - almost, as I just forgot the majority scoring in the end so I had to accept the second place.


Copycat– is a bit the contrary: I had some fun during play but the more I was thinking about it the less I liked it. However fun the theme and the “stealing” is (it’s mostly Dominion meets Agricola-like worker placement and ideas from some other games) it’s more of a joke than a really good game. And for a joke it’s a bit too long even, while it seems it should be about collecting cards that make it possible to buy for lots of gold and take all your cards in your hand so in the end of the game you can score a lot. For this you almost always have to choose the actions “buy” (or “buy twice”) and “get 1/2/3 gold” or “use a card twice” with your workers… It’s just not much beyond that.


My wife had tonsillectomy on Thursday so we spent the weekend together, without the kids (they are at the grandparents until Wednesday). She didn’t feel good on Saturday so when she slept I played Lord of the Rings (this time the Knizia board game for grown-ups) with myself, "2-player", just to get the hang of it - "we" lost by the end of the second board. I want to play it multiplayer, more than once, soon!

Then, on Sunday afternoon she was ready to play. I decided it was going to be a weekend where we play her favorites so besides trying how La Boca works (just building a few buildings to get to an opinion about its SdJ chances), we played the Ticket to Ride series on Sunday and Monday (which is a holiday here because of Whit Monday).

So on Sunday we played
Ticket to Ride: Europe with the Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 expansion – as I believe this (Mega-Europe) is the best way to play the game two-player. As you could see all week I wasn’t good in focusing (possibly because of being tired and taking care of her) and this continued here. She won as I was late (I could not finish all my tickets).
Ticket to Ride Legendary Asia – Okay, here I mistook Shanghai with Peking (Budapest vs Bucarest anyone?) so I didn’t finish a ticket and she won (for the first time in the history of this map) by 103:92.
Ticket to Ride: India – once again I was late: if I had one more action I would have scored 30 extra points. But I didn’t, so she won by 118:108, also a first-time win in case of this map.

On Monday:
Ticket to Ride: Switzerland – One route section was still missing when once again she ended the game so I got -26 points instead of +26 for two tickets. But even with +52 points she would have won.
Ticket to Ride: The Heart of Africa – Wow, this was the first time when I could finish all my tickets on this map! Well, but still she won with 10 points difference.
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries – and another one where I finished all my tickets but she won with 12 points difference.

Then she said she’d like to play another game of her favorites, Ingenious – and of course I was ready to play a Knizia! We played two times, she won both…
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8. Board Game: Luring Royalty [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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.NA. Luring Royalty - 2 Players (x2)
_9_ Caylus - 3 Players
_9_ Puerto Rico - 3 Players
_9_ Ra - 4 Players
_8_ Battle Line - 2 Players
_7_ Lords of Waterdeep - 3 Players
_7_ Catch Phrase! - 4 Players (x2)
_6_ Domaine - 3 Players
_6_ Max - 2 Players
_5_ Beep! Beep! - 4 Players (x2)


By my standards, it's been a bit of a gaming hiatus lately. Seemed to be the same this week until I, somewhat unexpectedly, headed out for games on Friday. I was able to play some quality titles with gamers. Saturday also saw games with my wife while my kids watched a movie with my mom at the care center and then even more, unplanned, games with neighbors.

(1) Luring Royalty - I've noted it before and I'll note it again... I have 3 games that appear on BGG where I am the designer and this is the one that is best. It's not a great game, but a nice, simple card game that works and is pretty fun to play. My wife and I had fun with 2 rounds.

(2) Caylus - On the second-to-last turn, I spent 7 coins to place my last 3 workers and made an error where 2 of those 3 workers ended up unused. I figured that gross error would take me out of the running, but I guess the rest of my play was okay because I did get the win. Caylus is a favorite.

(3) Puerto Rico - My two brothers and I played this and it was good. Puerto Rico and Ra are the easiest games to take out and play with anyone in my family.

(4) Ra - My neighbors had played once before and knocked me out in this one. I finished last with 21 points and one of our neighbors was first with close to 50 points.
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9. Board Game: Cheaty Mages! [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:2159]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Monday: LoB

Primordial Soup - nice to get another play of this in quickly after the enjoyable one at Eastbourne. This time it was me who led for almost the whole game and then got pipped at the post, rather than vice versa.

Die Dolmengötter x2 - unfortunately had to accomodate a 5th player, and it was too chaotic. The first game (where only I'd played before) was very quick and a crushing win for me. The second (with the same players), I came last

Panic Lab x2 - this speed game is really fun, but it does seem that the slightly better player will always win. That might be an advantage in a strategic game but probably not in a party game.

Skull x3 - one ridiculously short game, and one which I actually won for once!

The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet - good game, but I really want to punch people who have analysis paralysis in this one

6 nimmt! - restored to its rightful place for a second week running.

Thursday: Lloyd's place

Tigris & Euphrates - 3p which is unusual for me. The other two were reasonably experienced but I crushed them 13-8-7.

Cheaty Mages! - only the second play for one of my Japanese imports. Very random but lots of fun.

Unpublished Prototype - Adam's nice little dice filler

Eat Poop You Cat - amusing drawing game

Santiago de Cuba - the only word is 'meh'.
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10. Board Game: Railroad Barons [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:4594]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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3x Go - Fun to play some Go. I'm getting a little mojo back. I'm more confident in attacking an overplay and getting back to my sacrificial ways to afford a kill. So I'm back up to 2k on KGS and hopefully I'll rise to 1k within a month or so.

3x StreetSoccer - A couple of online games and one face to face game. I must admit I really don't enjoy face to face games of this one very much. In fact I can't think of many dice rolling games that I actually enjoy.

2x Mini Shogi - Both online. A great little game.

1x Deduce or Die - I enjoyed it but one player didn't, it was a little too much for her. The game would have worked better with a printed notepad for note-taking. I need to get on to Artscow with that.

1x Schachadma - "Beautiful plumage" as Stephen always says. It is a beautiful game and a little over-produced. It's a good game too. I wouldn't mind playing it some more. No longer often the case with Chess variants.

1x Railroad Barons - Really pleased to give this a try. Lots of opportunity to learn about the strategic options in 18XXs (excl. track builds). I hope Kathryn can get into it. Though I suspect it will be a bit too mathy for her.
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11. Board Game: Merchants of Amsterdam [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1529]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Merchants of Amsterdam with the Monday night group. Second episode in my experimentation with blind bidding to replace the Dutch auction clock. I thought I had a working scheme but this game taught me I was wrong.

I went to a friend's monthly game night and 6p Merchant of Venus broke out. Woot! Too long since we played this.

Random gaming with Mom during the week whenever she came over:
10 Days in the Americas when she couldn't find something in South America and decided we needed a geography boost.
Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League as a thematic coda when I got home from MoV night.
Ingenious just because I realized we hadn't played it in ages. We always get it out when we visit my aunt because she's a big fan, but other than that it hadn't been off the shelf in some time.

Major gaming ahead this week!


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12. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:584]
Andrew
Japan
Tokyo
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Well, the 7-week long Meatball game of Container came to an end, and after some missing-container skulduggery by EffernGrefferths was sorted out I made it to second place (behind EffernGrefferths arrrh ).

I also played Innovation online with a friend - this time he rolled me by scoring and achieving - I had zero achievements at the end of the game.

I taught RftG with the first expansion, and won using FTA both games (in the second one I had SETI and Galactic Renaissance too).

I also played Le Havre on my phone and arrived at an unexpected (and probably undeserved) win.
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13. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:149]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Pretty Chill gameday on saturday...

Started with waiting a bit as I entered just a tad late, but got to play a 5P game of Pax, one of the n00bs won on money after the 4th topple, but I had a very good chance if I didn't fuck up in an early topple. Still a very good game.

Then a game of condotierre, still a lovely game especially when played correctly, but I need to get myself a pewter mini cause that would be rad.

Then a round of entdecker which is a nice light superfiller. Its not ever gonna be mistaken for anything heavy but its a fun game and pretty board when its over.

And then closed out with Glory to Rome. The more I play that game the more I like it. I'll have to give innovation a second try now. Since I also hated GtR as a game where you couldn't do anything the first couple plays. Maybe Innovation will grow on me -- the only problem is that its hard to get 2P plays in a game group setting and I was really not thrilled with it as a 4P-team game....but I guess I'll take the opportunity now....but yeah, Glory to Rome is absolutely excellent.

With Pax, Verrater, GtR, you could have a pretty damn good gaming library of eurogames of just cardgames.

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14. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:285]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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Two visits to LoB accounted for my gaming last week.

13th May

Only one game but an interesting one. Archipelago has been on my list of like to try for quite a while. It has received a fairly mixed reactions, so I had been finding it hard to decide if it was for me or not.

A friend of mine sent me a copy of Commands & Colors: Napoleonics Expansion #2 – The Russian Army for my birthday but as I had already got it, I took it back. After spending a long time agonising over my choice I left the store with a copy of Archipelago in the bag.

The game bills itself as a semi co-op, but as with Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, when the team wins you then get a best winner. This seemed a bit of nonsense initially then I came across Martin’s article about semi co-ops, based on him never having played Archipelago. And it started to make a bit of sense. His suggestion was that players need an attitude adjustment to play this kind of game in the manner the designer meant it to be. So I was determined to approach the game in the right frame of mind.

We were set to play four player until a late arrival joined us and we went up to five. I think I would limit the game to four for future plays with three probably being best as with five there was a lot of down time.

Even playing the short game it lasted all evening. Like a lot of the games we play at LoB it would really benefit from multiple plays with the same players.

I enjoyed the game enough to want to play it again, maybe even try the medium game. (I don’t think I am enough of a masochist to play the long game). We did have a traitor in the game, but he was not a very successful one. In the end we won the game fairly easily, no real threat for independence. (I think it gets harder in the longer games). And the Grand winner, was me. whistle

14th May

When I first got back into board games, around 2008 one of the first games I tried was Memoir '44. I had been quite a war gamer back in the 70’s and 80’s so I was keen to play this light war game that appealed to non-war gamers. I was not very impressed. I know the idea was to a degree to create the fog of war, but the cards were too restrictive. It seemed far too easy to end up with a hand of cards which only allowed you to activate units on the left side of the board while all the action was on the right. (Or vice versa)

I soon sold on my copy. Then I read that Commands & Colors: Ancients was a lot more flexible than Memoir, so I got a copy. I liked it more in nearly every way. Yes it still had left, right and centre cards, but it also had cards that were more flexible and it was much less likely that you had turns where you could not do anything. I also preferred the wooden blocks to the toy soldiers you got with Memoir. It made it feel more like a game for grown-ups (anyone know any?). But as it was two player my chances to play it were limited.

When Commands & Colors: Napoleonics came out I read the reviews with interest. General opinion seemed to be that it was even better than ancients. I spent the next couple of years trying to decide if I should get a copy. More than a couple of times I went to buy a copy only to find something new and shiny that I wanted more. Then one time I thought about getting a copy, I found out that the base game was out of print. Then a few copies appeared and I finally succumbed and bought a copy.

So this is a very long winded way of saying I played Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. I had noticed Lloyd had been playing some heavier games lately including Battles of Westeros, so I asked him if he wanted to play CCN, maybe even on a semi regular basis. We played the very first scenario, in fact we played it twice. I was the French and Lloyd was the British and the Portuguese. It’s a situation where the French are very much on the defence and the emphasis is on the British to win it.

In the first game Lloyd was very aggressive and I destroyed half his army. In the second game he was a lot more cautious and had a slow build up all over the map. This time it was my pieces that got chewed up. We both enjoyed it and agreed that we would play some more, but that LoB was not the best venue for it.

I finished up the evening with a quick game of Biblios. Lloyd and I were joined in that by Tagorre and Ricardo, two fans of heavy games. Always quite amusing to see the heavy gamers (Both play 18XX a lot) playing light games like Biblios, but they both seemed to like it
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15. Board Game: Shipyard [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:441]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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With me and the missus and Junior returning from our rather rainy holidays in France, we didn't have much chance for gaming. I only played two games at a local club: Shipyard and Las Vegas. I won the latter with a nice difference in capital thanks to a few small but important lucky breaks which saw me winning large amounts of cash uncontestedly. The former I brought with me on request of someone else, and he later confessed that after seeing the amount of material on the table, he wanted to play a different game. My opponents mentioned having had similar feelings. But they all agreed that at the game's end, the game itself wasn't mechanically difficult, but that striking upon the correct point synergy between all elements was. Despite that, and realising that impressively looking ships were equally impressively worthless, everyone was having fun.

The winner of the game was the guy who had the infamous 'broken contract' which yields points for the number of ships built. I let him play out that contract nearly uncontestedly to see where his score would end up: it was certainly high (88 or 89 points, I believe). The difference with me was about 15 points, which I squandered thanks to mistaking a life buoy for a blue ribbon symbol, screwing me out of 6 or 7 points; and not working my chosen contract synergy hard enough, which would have netted and probably even surpassed the remainder. After seeing this particular contract in action, I'm inclined to say that it certainly is a very easy contract to play, requiring only a little effort. Points roll in nearly automatically as opposed to the rest which require some thought and planning. In that I believe there is some truth in claims of its imbalance. Even if the points ultimately are able to be matched competitively, the amount of effort spent is decidedly not the same. It's still no cause for concern, though: Shipyard remains a pleasant favourite to play.

Some related news then: I've decided to halt my Dutch blog on boardgames because I had no interest in writing for it anymore. Three things contributed to its demise: the birth of my son, growing lack of spare time to devote to writing, and steadily lessening interest in gaming in general because the way I really want to play games does not readily coincide with that of casual get-togethers where a random title is plucked out of someone's far too big collection, and played suboptimally. At this point I'm not even sure I will attend Spiel in 2014. (My partner has already made reservations for this year's edition, and we both wanted to push up the number of visits to 10, our second lustrum. After that it's open season.)

With the above in mind I've also decided to spend a little money of a tax break on a nice Go-set (still looking for an equally nice goban) and start putting in the effort to learn this game properly. I don't have to be the rules explainer with Go, only a willing student; there is no lack of opponents online; and I can even attend a strong Go-club in Amsterdam, 20 minutes away. Devoting serious time to Go will eat into my regular game time, but I find I'm willing to make that tradeoff for the moment. You won't find me agreeing with Michael Barnes often, but I agree with his comment for the game:
Quote:
What more is there to say? One of very few "perfect" games...all skill, all intuition, all raw gaming power. Separates the men/women from the boys/girls!
It's time to stop screwing around at random, and start growing up.
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