GCL Phoenix 126: Oh no, not another learning experience! (2013-06-02)
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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This list was inspired by some... incidents over the past few weeks.



No, really.



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1. Board Game: Light and Learn [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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CSNY wrote:
You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.


There are two very different learning styles that I run into on a regular basis:

The person who says "give me a quick overview of the basics, I'll learn the rest as we play"

The person who says "I want to know all the rules of each phase before we start".

They both have their place, of course... but ideally not at the same table learning at the same time.

How much detail do you want about a new game before you start to play?

Do you like learning new games for its own sake, or is it just something to get through before you can really play?

(I know there's been a lot said here about getting off the treadmill of constantly learning new games and getting to know just a few games of known high quality very well, but some games are worth learning. Imagine that you are learning a game that you have good reason to trust will be worth your time.)
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2. Board Game: Teacher's Quiz [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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U2 wrote:
Johnny take a dive
With your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things
You can't explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel
On your knees boy


Conversely, how do you like to *teach* games? Is it the same way you like to learn games?

Do you start with the theme, the mechanics, or the victory conditions? Do you cover the rules procedurally, holistically, or by reading the rulebook (perhaps with insertions and deletions?)

Have you ever taught a game that you only knew from reading the rulebook? Would you do it again? (This includes sitting down with a game and teaching it cold, learning it from the rulebook on the spot... how well does that work?)

Do you talk about strategy? Tactics? What kinds of decisions need to be made? Is there anything that you make sure not to mention?

Do you help new players as the game proceeds? If so, do your hints go beyond the level of "you might not want to lie down in front of that oncoming locomotive"?
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3. Board Game: The Winning Touch [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Sunnyvale
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Kansas wrote:
You think that something's happening
And it's bigger than your life

But it's only what you're hearing
Will you still remember
When the morning light has come
Will the songs be playing over and over
Till you do it all over again

Play, play the game tonight
Can you tell me if it's wrong or right
Is it worth the time, is it worth the price
Do you see yourself in the white spotlight
Then play the game tonight


Do you try to win a game the first time you play it, or do you just try to understand the knobs and levers?

Conversely, how do you feel about playing games you know well with people who are just learning, and thus do things that seem irrational (and unpredictable) to you?

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4. Board Game: Wrong Chemistry [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:4613]
 
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Billy Joel wrote:
You're only human, you're allowed to make your share of mistakes
You better believe there will be times in your life
When you'll be feeling like a stumbling fool
So take it from me you'll learn more from your accidents
Than anything that you could ever learn at school

[...]

You probably don't want to hear advice from someone else
But I wouldn't be telling you if I hadn't been there myself
It's alright, it's alright
Sometimes that's all it takes
We're only human
We're supposed to make mistakes
But I survived all those long lonely days
When it seemed I did not have a friend
Cause all I needed was a little faith
So I could catch my breath and face the world again

Don't forget your second wind
Sooner or later you'll feel that momentum kick in
Don't forget your second wind
Sooner or later you'll feel that momentum kick in


What do you do when you find out you've been playing a game wrong? Play it through? Restart? Switch in midstream?

What if one player has benefited more from the error than others?
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5. Board Game: All About Ithaca & Tompkins County, NY [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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No gaming last week. Next weekend hopefully we'll be up in Syracuse, and maybe we'll get a little in.
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6. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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The Castles of Burgundy x 4

I lost a relatively low-scoring game (152-146) to my wife, then taught the game to my neighbor the next day and won both times. I'm so very clever.

We also got a game in on Sunday evening with my newly-printed The Castles of Burgundy: 3rd Expansion – German Board Game Championship Board 2013. Kat used it and said it's pretty tough at the outset (all 4 castles zones are on the outer edges).

Times Square x 1


Kat understood this one far better than I, but neither of us were impressed by it.

God's Playground x 1


I think we finally got all of the rules right! I finished last, 1 point off 2nd and 12 off 1st; I once again commanded the suicide squad, rolling several zeroes with my troops multiple times (not blaming my loss on that though). The blue player lost multiple estates early on, then got back into the game by essentially doing nothing but taking Jesuit Schools then sitting on his remaining money in round 3, which was good to see. The winning player went first in rounds 3 & 4 and took the Build City actions both times. I think doing that gives you a good chance at winning.

Maria x 1

First time playing the advanced game, the Austria player had dreadful cards the whole game and acted as a punching for myself and the other player. It was a quick game won in round 4 by the Prussia player, though I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when I didn't realize that I didn't just need to win a battle against the Prussian player, but I needed to win by at least 3 in order to drive him back far enough to give me control over a fortress. That would have been my 11th VP marker, I just needed to play my 10 instead of my 7. Alas. shake

Race for the Galaxy x 2


Kat and I busted out good old Race for a couple of plays.

Terra Mystica x 1


I played the Swarmlings for the second time and ended a couple of points out of first place. This was a low-scoring game (the winning score was 97). I'm still quite taken with the game, even though I cannot buy a win at it.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue w/2nd Story x 2


We went 0-2 on the Hotel boards from 2nd Story. Yikes.

Hanabi x 2

4-player with a new player and no rainbows, we scored 18 and 20.

Biblios x 1

I won a 3-player game on the second tiebreaker (whoever took the Brown die is the winner).

Dominion x 2

Kat and I split 2 plays of this old favorite.

Il Vecchio x 1


Another 3-player game of this, I think I'm closer to liking it. It's definitely an efficiency puzzle-type of game, but players can and will interfere with each other a bit. People acquire tiles that give them unique bonuses and unique scoring conditions, and I like that.

Plato 3000 x 1


Kat won (of course) 115-113. You blockhead!

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7. Board Game: Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:1294]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
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This was a short week recovering from the whirlwind of Kublacon, but ending with a GamesDay. In addition, Mike Calhoon was back in town (sadly for an unexpected funeral), and I got in two 18xx games with him.

Tuesday night at SVB:

The Great Zimbabwe 3p with Albert and Brian (Albert's first play)
Romans Go Home! 3p with Albert and Brian (Albert's and my first play)
SUTAKKU 2p I taught Brian this filler, acquired at Kubla for prize bucks.

Thursday night:

Peloponnes 2p.

Friday night at JC's:

1817 4p. Me, JC, Mike, Daniel. Called on time everyone keeling over from exhaustion.

Saturday was GamesDay:

Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 4p. Dave E., Erich, and first play for me and Jeff Shih.
1846: The Race for the Midwest 4p. Erich, Mike, me, Daniel.

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

And now for some details:

Romans Go Home!: This is a quick little bidding game that Brian picked up on Kickstarter. Every player has a deck of 9 soldier bidding cards, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,9. On each round, you draw 7 cards and arrange 6 face-down in front of you, corresponding to the 6 forts that are up for auction. Some of the cards and forts have powers (for example, if multiple people play a 9 in the same turn they annihilate each other, and there's a big fort that makes you discard one already won, possibly a negative value... but if one player gets 3 of the 4 negative-value forts, they win instantly). Then there are 6 cycles where players each reveal a card to contest the first fort in the row. The strongest player claims the fort and clears their revealed soldiers. The game is in guessing what other people are going to do and counteracting it. Of course, they know that you are going to try to guess and counteract... I have too many games but I'd really like to get my hands on this one.

Peloponnes: I'm not sure how I feel about this as a 2p game; it loses a lot of the chaotic auction shuffling, especially with 3 items packed off to the Conquest ("buy-it-now") rack.


Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648:
This was the keystone game played at GamesDay. Dave E. and Erich (experienced) versus me and Jeff Shih (new players.)

The other "big game" from Francis Tresham, the designer of 1830 and Civ, and both roots showed, though in different ways.

First of all, I need to say that the artistic design of the game detracted quite a bit from the game experience. Trying to find similarly-named towns identified in small script letters on the board; tracing the paths of rivers through all the clutter of chits; identifying faction chits by the faces depicted on them -- all of that made the game state so cluttered and opaque that I spent the first third of the game just trying to keep track of what was going on. The rivers were so hard to trace and track that we collectively just never used that feature of the game. My biggest contributions to game flow were suggesting that we put the NPCs face down on the board, so that we could identify them by their plain gray backs, and that we do the population phase by putting new chits on the board upside-down to track where new stuff was going, and then flip them face-up to commit.

With a 4-player game it breaks into two natural alliances -- the Pope (Jeff) and the Hapsburgs (me) versus the Reformers (Dave) and the Burghers (Erich). All the people who say that 5 is the best player count are probably right, as our game was pretty static for 2 or 3 of the 5 turns. (The unused 5th faction is the centrist Nobles.)

In addition to fighting for control of Provinces and Cities for end-game VP, and for other land features for the right to pop extra chits on the board, each faction has personal goals -- the Catholics want to keep cathedral locations under Catholic religious control (and not just occupy those towns), the Hapsburgs want to have military units in different places, the Burghers want to control trading centers (random towns marked with white script on the board), and the Reformers want to found liberal universities, which only get disbanded if they fall under heavy Catholic control.

The game broke on Turn 3 when I attacked Jeff and Erich then turned around and attacked me via teleport to my unifaction Flanders. I was able to fight Erich to a standstill in Flanders, twice, but only at a huge cost to both of us.

So, the game. In many ways this is a clear successor to Civ -- majority control of provinces is money income and VPs, cities can be taxed for varying amounts of money, control of various board features lets you put more chits on the board, the same counter-limited set of chits are used as both money and people. In addition, there are offboard boxes with various powers, each restricted to a different subset of the factions. Some of them are quite powerful (the ability to teleport into new areas, the ability to turn people into coins). There's an additional military layer, where unopposed armies can influence citizen chits to defect to their faction, and a financial layer where you can just buy the love of major cities, pushing them either more Catholic or more Protestant; the pro-Catholic option just adds and removes chits, but the heavy Protestant one does wholesale chit-swaps no matter how big a stack is.

Like many historical games set in this era, the Pope starts out with a clear commanding lead and tries desperately to protect it. Our random faction assignment set Jeff as the Catholic player -- and Jeff is known for his freewheeling approact to negotiation and convincing other players to bash on the leader, who is anyone but him. In fact, perhaps the best moment of the game was when Dave started putting people in Utrecht, and Jeff suggested that they stop to negotiate. Dave was amenable, and Jeff said "well, you know I'm putting armies in Utrecht this turn."

Jeff, I don't think that word means what you think it does.

It took me a few minutes to stop laughing.

In the end, though, in spite of my botched backstab of Jeff, I came within 0.42 points of Dave's winning score, with Erich 4 point behind and Jeff trailing the pack. (In fact, Jeff's last-minute offhand purchase of the love of a city stole a point from me. Harumppfh!)

I'm glad I played it once. Would I play it again? I'm not sure. There are so many great games I could devote a whole day to.
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8. Board Game: Ur: 1830 BC [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:4216]
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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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 1Jun2013:

4//204 plays of 4/0/106 total games, with 0/0/22 expansions employed.
Plays with 7/0/61 distinct opponents.

1/0/14 games acquired (plus 1/0/5 expansions.) (I found a nice copy of Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, in hopes of convincing son #2 to play; hasn't happened yet, though he found the bits amusing.)
0/0/8 games ordered (plus 0/0/3 expansions.)
Orders for 4 games and 1 expansions still outstanding. (Two kickstartery Wallace things; two DTG titles, and Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts. So nothing that's liable to appear in the near future.)

Last Sunday with my two younger children:
1x _7_ Cobra New! - It's pretty cute. Sadly for my youngsters, part of the game is learning when to stop playing (rather than letting a snake-column collapse.) I suspect - were they to continue playing - that we'd eventually figure it out. But for the moment, the loss of a player to collapsing a column feels like a bit of a defect.

On Tuesday night with the Wednesday night guys:
1x _8.5_ Ur: 1830 BC New! - I see some of the BGG.comments suggest that this game is scripted, or lacks replay value. I guess that's part of the charm of having very little clue about the 18xx; the "natural" scripting didn't occur to any of us, and so the game didn't appear to have any great probability of playing similarly the next time out. I know I'd blathered about this last week: but it was quite charming, and it presented some cool decisions (and the ripples of those decisions).

Touching (for the moment) on this week's theme, I found it quite clear in play. We weren't tempted to forget any details, or otherwise play incorrectly. Some of that, of course, may simply be Good Game Design (I find that games - Vinhos comes to mind - where it's easy to forget nuances of mechanics a bit less elegant than games where it seems subjectively more difficult to play incorrectly - a game like Nieuw Amsterdam, again for example.)

I would concur with the folk that say "should have come with sticks to mark canals, so that one didn't need to draw on the board" though. I bought a set of nice blue sticks from spielmaterial.de for just that purpose.

With the Friday lunch gang:
1x _7_ David & Goliath - It's pretty cute. I'd not played for more than 5 years, so anything I'd learned last time wasn't still available to me. It seemed quite a bit more random than some of my favoured trick-takers (Sticheln, , or Too Many Cooks are currently ascendant, though there are others) but it's possible that there's just some subtleties there that I've not yet found. (Normally, to be fair, my expectation is that if the game is non-random, Brian and Jeff will win more than their share. This one had the winning hands pretty evenly distributed.)
1x _7.3_ Hinkel & Stein - A second play - but my first with 4. It worked quite wonderfully, and (I think!) amused the other guys as well. It's not nearly as insane as Neue Heimat - but there's a surprisingly subtle game hiding under the cool rocks and balance beam.

Owned-and-unplayed: 14 (+0/-2) Managed to play Cobra and Ur: 1830 BC. I'm having a lot of trouble getting this count below 14, though.

Outlook for the week: Gaming again on Tuesday (we've again got a bunch of kids' activities this week, including three "graduation" ceremonies. Fortunately, they're not cotemporal.)
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9. Board Game: Olympos [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:899]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_5_ West Riding Revisited x1 New!
Learned this with my boys and we sort of stumbled through this but by the end of the game most of it was clicking. Sadly, I suspect this is not best three player, and while the holding companies were ok they were not quite as interesting as German Railways of Chicago Express, and honestly, the sparse Winsome presentation doesn't help with my boys nor myself. In the end I won 294 to oldest son's 263 and youngest son's 141.

_7_ Olympos x1
Taught boys this game and they picked it up pretty easily. In the end my youngest son won by over 10 points over his brother and I who were tied, but oldest son had democracy which wins all ties so I was last.

_7_ Blue Moon City x1
Oldest son waited too long to turn in crystals and ended with 3, my wife had 3 as well, while I turned in two in one turn and another the next turn to win with the 5 needed.


TRACK:

Tabled: 7 unplayed. (-West Riding Revisited)
Removed: 28 removed.
Acquired: 24 acquired.

Cultish: 09 worthy / 10 played.
Kudos: 03 achieved / 16 progress.

2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos

Days Without a Kitchen: 15
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10. Board Game: Partizan [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:7891]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

None


The Gaming Week in Review

It was a very poor week for gaming, but not really a bad week at all. As I hinted last week, S and I are in Britain. Rich, why did you leave! I did visit a couple board game shops, one in Keswick (which had very few Euros and nothing particularly new or interesting) and a second (comic shop) in Lincoln which had some wargames and Euros. Oh, and a stationary shop also in Lincoln that had even fewer Euros, but a number of mainstream games. I bought nothing.

Sunday, we went to Partizan, a miniature wargaming convention in Newark-on-Trent. We had no real plans - well, S had a plan to read a book if I got caught up in something - and though I was invited to try a couple games, two world war two skirmish games and one of Wings of Glory, I declined, being curious to see what else there was. As far as games to join, they turned out to be about it. Most of the others were either demonstration games or (I assume) advanced signup. So S and I wandered around taking photos of what there was - and there were some really beautiful setups. One of the best was a Carlist War (Spain in the 1820s) - the two sides fighting over a river crossing in Winter, complete with snow and ice.


There was also one table with a battle of the War of 1812. I headed over to the British/Canadian side and introduced myself as the Canadian cheering section. Got in a chat with a fellow who'd actually been to Victoria back in 1999.

Also had a long chat with a guy waiting for his mates to arrive to play. It looked like a scenario between the British and Germans in France in 1940 - a very long table that it looked like the British would have to do a fighting withdrawl. We came back later, but the guy we were talking to was engaged. The Germans had arrived on the table in force.


There were a number of other World War II games going on including a Pacific skirmish (I think Burma or maybe New Guinea), some North Africa battles. And there were some sci-fi/steampunk looking things and some colonial stuff. Finally, there was a battle hosted by a group called the League of Augsburg. I've been a follower of this group for years to see a game hosted by them was probably the highlight - even though they were too into it to talk much to the spectators.


Of course, there were stalls with vendors, but I really didn't need any thing and the vendors that I would have bought from weren't at Partizan. In the end, I bought a single model for my World War II Germans - ironically the model's made in Canada.

This week we'll be in the South (East Sussex) taking it easy. We've got an apartment with a dining room table for gaming. So gaming we will do.
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11. Board Game: Viticulture [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:122]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 22:

It was another great week in terms of gaming and the weather has been excellent too allowing for some outdoors fun. On the gaming front we had the weekend mostly to ourselves as the kids were on a mini-break with their aunt on their mothers side.

Sweet Monday with V.:
1x _7.8_ Puerto Rico w/ Expansion (rating up by 0.2)
We have really taken to this game and it was another win for my shipping strategy. It seems we have had a few sessions where the buildings have fallen that way.

1x _8.0_ Troyes w/ parts of Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes
V. requested this favourite and I duly obliged by kicking her sweet behind. Always a joy to play and this time with a selection of cards we have not seen before.

A Midweek Madness with V.:
3x _8.4_ Innovation
Now, what happened there, yes gaming on a Wednesday. We played a best of 5 sets session with tennis scores of 6-2, 6-3, 6-1. Two of the games were a lot tighter than the scores make them seem.

Continuing the trend on Thursday:
2x _7.8_ Kingdom Builder
We cut things short and finished at 2 plays as I was simply knackered. Still, a fun session as always. One play I thought I was out of only to snatch it at the end by having a huge army of knights.

Friday Gold:
1x California Gold
A playtest of a new Numbskull Games game out next year. It perhaps does not play at its best with just 2 players but we enjoyed ourselved none the less. I hope to play it again in the near future.

Saturday Madness with V.:
See my comments from last weekend...

Ok, just kidding. We are getting quality games to the table and even with repeat showings they are holding up very well.

We settled in for a wonderful day outdoors and kicked off the proceedings with...

1x _7.4_ Suburbia
Yet another convincing win for me. I seem to have a knack for this game - at least against V.

1x _8.0_ Key Market
A very fun game because we had the Gamers Guild and so it changed things around a bit. V. messed up too as she forgot she needed 1 less resource to promote and it allowed me to sneak in. It would have been a lot tighter though the winner would have been the same.

1x _8.0_ Yedo
This is a new experience favourite. It is not in league with Mr. Phil Eklund but would very much enjoy the mechanics and the theme. It all just seems to flow together nicely even if you can sometimes get hosed.

1x _7.8_ Puerto Rico w/ Expansion
Yet another trip to the sandy shores of Puerto Rico. This time a different strategy was employed though no less successful and another win for me. I am surprised at how much I enjoy this because it often seems it comes down to shipping and getting the right mix of buildings. I suppose it is in the journey that we find the enjoyment.

1x _8.2_ Jet Set w/ Distant Lands
A blow-out this was. Sometimes you get the right placement and the flights just come up your way. Even if some of them went to V. I had 2 out of 3 locked in from the moment they were turned up. Fun for me, less fun for V.

The Week(s) Ahead:
The observant reader will have noticed that my game of the week has not been mentioned once so far. It arrived in the mail today and looks stunning. We just have one minor issue, namely that I have pledged my support for and continue to back NaNoNeGaMo 2 - "I will play no new games in June".

Obviously this means that Viticulture will have to wait for July 1st or thereabouts for its maiden run. I am sure it, like a fine wine, will age well and be all the more special for it. In the meantime I can look but not touch.

In other news I am helping out on a local dig this Wednesday and I am super excited about it. I think it is going to be awesome to get to try what I have dreamt about for years on end. My faith in myself is high in some regards though I keep having doubts my dreams will come to pass with regards to my career goals. I want to stand firm - I will stand firm on those.

This coming weekend V. have requested a game of Roads & Boats and I have promised to prepare by reading the rules, so there is that to look forward to for next weeks list.

Happy Gaming all.
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12. Board Game: Say Bye to the Villains [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:3109]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

.10! Hanabi 2
_9_ El Grande 1
_8_ Say Bye to the Villains 2
_8_ Seasons 1
_8_ The Great Zimbabwe 1
_8_ Letters from Whitechapel 1
_7_ Pax Porfiriana 1
_6_ Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game 1
_6_ DC Comics Deck-Building Game 1
_5_ Tichu 1

Week in Review

Monday was the last day Tom and DJ were here and we played games I mentioned in the last list: Pax P, The Great Z, Say Bye to the Vs.

Mid-week I got to try out the expansion for Blood Bowl Team Manager and had a fun game. I like the variety the new teams offer, and the downed abilities are quite interesting. We had an amazing scrum in the final round surrounding the Blood Bowl itself. I suffered by being start player twice in the five round game (four players). In my final round, I couldn't respond to much and had to rely on my score from the first three rounds. I finished third.

After playing Tichu thirty times, I think I'm over it. There's more fun to be had elsewhere.

Over the weekend I taught the gf Seasons and she enjoyed it (and won). This is part of my continuing quest to define her gaming tastes. She likes playing games but dislikes a substantial majority of the games we play (and I play a greater variety than many BGGers).

Afterwards, we tried two-player Letters from Whitechapel. This may be her very favorite game but we've been having trouble with it bogging down in recent plays after the early plays were so successful. The game is often said to be best two-player and I somehow hadn't ever tried it at that count. So for my eight lifetime play of the game, we did just that. It was pretty fun and definitely finished in a timely manner. I got pretty close to Jack on night two and knew the neighborhood she was going to. The third night I swarmed it and arrested her while she was trying to sneak between the investigators to get home.

I rarely get to play El Grande. Most people I know don't like it nearly as well as I do. This was a five-player game in which I taught four newbies. I only got a distinct thumbs up from one of them, so it's probably going to remain underplayed in my collection. (P.S. GF didn't like the game, though she did well.)
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13. Board Game: Dahschur: Die Rote Pyramide [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:10116]
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Ben
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Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:

_9_ Archipelago
_8_ Dahschur: Die Rote Pyramide New!
_6_ Wallenstein (first edition) New!
_6_ Bamboleo New!
_5_ Myrmes
_5_ La Boca New!
_4_ Kunst Stücke New!


It's been quiet around here, so here are the games I played last weekend. Discuss.

meeple
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14. Board Game: Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
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Digital plays:

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer + Expansions (39)


Face-to-Face plays:

Seasons + Expansions (5)
Sentinels of the Multiverse + Expansions (1)
Taj Mahal (1)
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar (1)

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Not much iOS gaming this week. As for other iOS news, I did notice that Final Fantasy Tactics on iOS was updated and put on sale. I think it added retina display which is tempting me to purchase as I love FFT and haven't played the new iOS/PSP version of the game. Then again I did finish the PSX version of FFT a few times, and given my current lack of video gaming, it may not be woth picking up. I have avoided Warhammer Quest. People seem to think it's good but the videos I've seen of it looks pretty choppy/sluggish. Hopefully Agricola this week, regardless of whether I actually purchase it or not. Stoneblade mentioned on facebook that Immortal Heroes is on the horizon, so hopefully before the end of June but I guess Playdek are more concerned with Agricola at this point... I'm guessing July for IH.

Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom for me is pure bliss. This game adds two copies of 20 new unique power cards. These new cards are decent but I was surprised that this wasn't the most important addition of the expansion. Prior to the draft each player now draws 3 unique player powers. After the draft each player discards two powers and keeps one. I don't feel as if all of the player powers are balanced but since you choose 3 and keep one, I think it's a good addition to the game. The powers themselves are mostly once per game abilities, but they can really matter. These powers can also change the focus of your draft which really expands the life of the card game.

For me, the biggest addition was the new Enchantment Cards. These are cards that change the parameters of the game for all players. For example, there are cards that change the draft or even completely remove the draft. You could end up drafting 12 cards each and splitting 4 cards per year makes planning more difficult and makes the summoning gauge more important. The card that removes the draft and allows each player to draw 18 cards and discard down to 9 completely changes the game. In addition to seeing a larger percentage of the cards to make the most effective combos, the interactive cards (such as Syllas the Faithful) have more teeth to them because the opponent hasn't seen any of your cards. Beyond that, all of the Enchantment cards potentially change the value of specific cards. For example, Argos' Embrace (lose 5 crystals when you would draw a card... if you can't, discard or sacrifice a power card) makes cards like Vampiric Crown and Amulet of Fire less powerful. Finally, one of the Enchantment Cards: Olaf's Knowledge adds a new special action which is to simply draw a card and either keep it or discard it. I always play with this card in addition to another random enchantment as I always thought it was strange that the card drawing action required the luck of the die, when the other special actions helped circumvent the luck of the die.

I played Tzolk'in for the first time this week. Tzolk'in actually reminded me a bit of Trajan. I think the main reason is that both games have a very thought provoking central game mechanism with mediocre scoring subsystems. One thing I thought Tzolk'in handled really well is more workers does not equal more win. If you don't have the means of supporting extra people, they are not worth your investment. This could be argued for Agricola and other games as well, but in Tzolkin not only do you have to feed your people at regular intervals, but just doing the normal worker placement thing will also likely cost you food. This game also seems to have decent variety since each player will have asymmetrical starting powers and not every monument will be used every game. I think some people would prefer this to Trajan being that there seems to be more player interaction. Overall, I thought it was pretty good and would be fine with playing it again in the future. I don't think it's one I would add to my game collection though.

I also played Taj Mahal for the first time this week after having owned it for years. I can really see why people say: if you like poker you should try Taj Mahal. Knowing when to fold from a visitation or to potentially bluff and proceed is an important aspect of the game. The card play and hand management is really the heart of the game but you have a bit of a spatial board element as well as a set collection for points to contend with. There are also special cards for the players to compete for. These are not only strong because they allow you add a bonus to a played card but they come back to you every round until another player steals the card from you. Being that I've only played it once, I'm not really sure how much I like it and if I should keep it in my collection or not to find out.

I have also been playing more Sentinels of the Multiverse recently. I think the game has a fantastic amount of variety when you consider mixing 4 heroes (out of 18) with 1 villain (of 18) and 1 environment (of 12). Beyond the amount of stuff you mix together, even the way the cards are drawn from the deck could potentially change a similar matchup to have quite a different result. It's not all sunshine and lollipops though. The amount of bookkeeping that you have to do each Villain and Environment phase in this game can be frustrating. My friend jokes... "aren't you going to school for Accounting." Touche. Though getting paid to do something is different than doing it in your spare time. Beyond the bookkeeping, the game can bog down when a player is handed a new hero for the first time and they play a card that allows them to search their deck for one of a variety of cards. I guess I'm missing playing games such as Ghost Stories and Pandemic, where there isn't much downtime between players making decisions and doing stuff. Pandemic mostly is on hiatus until the new edition of On the Brink is released, but maybe even until the 2nd expansion is released. I really do need to play Ghost Stories though. I haven't played it since I had the minis painted and that's just criminal.

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In Other News...

I've already played games Tuesday past, which I'll talk about next week and it looks like I will be doing some gaming this Saturday. There is no specific game on the agenda but I keep thinking I should try Imperial instead of auctioning it off without playing it. Maybe I will play it with 3, but I do have a lot of other 3 player games I want to get to the table: Notre Dame, Macao, OeL, Troyes, and more. I'll probably start an auction either Saturday night or Sunday. I think It will bring me down to about only 40 unique game systems which is pretty low! I think it's for the best however, as despite having a low number of games there are many games that don't get to the table as often as I would like. I hope to get a lot of gaming in soon as I start vacation Wednesday next week.

Other odds and ends... Game of Thrones had an insane episode last week. I mostly knew what to expect from the books but there were still things that surprised me. It's sad that in a week Season 3 will be over and the wait for a new season/book will resume. It appears that I have abandoned Heart of the Swarm and it proves to me, yet again, that I should never spend my money on any more video games since I never play them. I didn't even intentionally abandon the StarCraft expansion. It just sort of happened. Not much else is happening outside of board games lately. Not that that's a bad thing. In fact, it's quite nice.

For you video game geeks, enjoy some acapella from NES Jesus who likes cats:

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