GCL Mafia 126: The interview
Mc Jarvis
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

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

Dolus
ecargo
McJarvis
mith
mattbcha1
Thesp
Butterfly0038
cferejohn
touchstonethefool
fdubois

The first few items are intended to foster discussion.

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of June 10 - June 16, 2013. List any games played along with any other information that you deem appropriate. Also, feel free to give life updates, fun facts, or any other super exciting and utterly interesting thoughts you may have.
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1. Board Game: Black Friday [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1867]
Mc Jarvis
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This week, I've shamelessly stolen several questions from another geeklist. Grace told me to. However, I didn't include all the questions (I got bored), and I changed several of them for my own pleasures.

25 'Tough' Interview Questions

The jist is that you should answer theses questions as you would at a job interview. (I may have edited the language for you to reflect on your current job. Just got with it.)

Question 1:

You have to work late on a Friday night: what about your job would make this worthwhile?
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2. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:334] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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If you received $1 million as inheritence, what would you do with the money?
 
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3. Board Game: Factory Fun [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:887]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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How would you fit a giraffe in a fridge?
 
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4. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:43]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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What about your job do you least like?
 
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5. Board Game: Big City [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1018]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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The city of Detroit is famously going bankrupt. What's the best zany plan you can come up with to save the city?
 
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6. Board Game: Crazy Hospital [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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If you were driving a gravely injured friend to the hospital, would you speed and run through red lights?
 
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7. Board Game: Fantasy Fight Club [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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If you could pick anyone in history to have a friendly fist fight with, who would you pick?
 
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8. Board Game: Fail! [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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Tell me about something you failed at.
 
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9. Board Game: Ex [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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Pick three words which your last ex would describe you with.
 
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10. Board Game: Sticky Stickz [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:5551]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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Describe a time you've gotten out of a sticky situation.
 
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11. Board Game: Clippers [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:2137]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Qwixx 7
BITS* 1
Can't Stop 1
Clippers 1
Heave Ho!* 1
The Manhattan Project* 1
Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game* 1
Zooloretto: The Dice Game 1

BITS is okay, but majorly inferior to FITS.

Heave Ho! was actually a rather cute surprise. Definitely a great fit in the Kosmos 2-player line. I wouldn't mind picking up a copy if I found one.

The Manhattan Project was pretty disappointing. It is a well designed game and I like it in theory, but in practice it was rather long. Even if we had not all been new to the game, I think the downtime between turns would still be too much. I really wanted to like this, but I'm not so sure it'll get a second chance. It's on the line for getting traded/auctioned.

Once Upon a Time was just Matt and I trying it out. It took us about five minutes. I think there could be a fun game here with the right group.

Lastly, Clippers was not technically new, but I had not played it for over two years. With my now vast and refined board game knowledge and tastes, I was able to appreciate it a lot more. When I first played it, I was not as familiar with the whole "build routes with companies on the board that are not player owned" idea. So, it was a lot better than I remembered and I'm excited to get it to the table again.
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12. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:92] [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
Matthew C
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Quote:
"I demand you face me as a man -- a fight of honor -- in a battle of wits and dexterity. You will come and be prepared to duel no later than 7 o'clock in the evening. The loser will be subjected to the humiliation of servant's work for the remainder of the evening."


This was the message I received via email from my wife on Monday after she read that my win in Ticket to Ride last week was not entirely legitimate. She quickly rectified the situation by soundly defeating me on Monday night, leaving me to wash piles of dishes and bake a delicious coffee cake for her.

Otherwise, it was a pretty slow week for me. I played:

Ticket to Ride: Europe
Lost Cities (2x)
Castle Panic (1 Wizard's Tower, 1 base)
Bohnanza
Race for the Galaxy: Rebels Vs. Imperium
Dominion (2x)
Carcassonne
Cards Against Humanity


Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower was the first time we've played with the expansion. In fact, I had forgotten to add it to my collection until I went to log the play. I was worried that The Wizard's Tower would add too much difficulty, and remove some of the fun from the game. However, I actually enjoyed the experience more than I did with the base game, even though we lost in the end.

It's odd that we played Castle Panic twice this week; that was a bit of a fluke. My wife and I visited a friend on Saturday and brought along a selection of games, which included Castle Panic. I was expecting to play Galaxy Trucker with this friend, but since there was a non-gamer there we settled on Castle Panic instead. Since they had never played before we used the base game, and soundly defeated the hordes of monsters.

In our 2-player matches, my wife is on a winning streak; having beaten me in both Ticket to Ride and in Bohnanza. I will have to rectify that some time this week, if I can.
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13. Board Game: Master of Economy [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:4892]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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4x Crokinole
4x *Loopin' Louie
4x Tichu
2x Alhambra
2x Dominionw/Prosperity
1x Innovation
1x Innovationw/*Echoes of the Past
*Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
Chaos Progenitus
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)
*Guildhall
Kemet
*Little Devils
*Master of Economy
*Rialto
*Shark
*Streams
Timeline: Discoveries
*Urban Sprawl
Zooloretto: The Dice Game

*new to me

And in auctions and others, my recent acquisitions are
Hanabi
Yspahan
Tigris & Euphrates w/double sided board.

GoT was an online game. I played as Lannister, and around turn 3, I knew Greyjoy had defeated me. I lost Lannisport by maybe Round 4, and Round 9 my last troop was defeated. I flailed around the entire game, basically making sure Greyjoy didn't win the game. The game finally ended in a 5-way tie, with Greyjoy eeking out the win on supply barrels tiebreaker.

At Conclave of Colorado Board Gamers, played in tournaments for Tichu, Crokinole, and Loopin' Louie. This was my first time really playing a full game of Crokinole. I did some practice games with Jennifer. In the tournament, we had I think 13 people. I won against Jennifer and lost to the guy who took 2nd place. First place was Dave from timewellspentgames.com, but the prize was a GC to his store, so he obviously didn't take the prize. I also learned that the rules I initially learned by where entirely wrong. I need to find rules online and read them to make sure I know fully how to play correctly.

This was also my first time playing Loopin' Louie. I played on two different copies, one that was really old and slow, and one that was new. It's a silly game, not much to say about it.

The Tichu tournament was long. We played for about 6 hours to complete 2 games. Both times we seemed to be fighting neck and neck for a long time, but we ended up losing both. The second game, Jennifer and I broke each other's Tichu calls 5 or 6 times throughout the entire game. I know, that's bad, but most of the time it saved us from losing 1-2 to our opponents and kept us in the game. So often times there were bad plays or bad Tichu calls by one of us, or we got in a bad spot, or they just had too many bombs between the opponents.

Innovationw/Echoes of the Past
We played this at the Conclave during the auction. I was a bit frustrated that Jennifer wouldn't play this with me even though I had the rules down for this, but when somebody taught us, I was glad because I had no idea that the latest expansion updated the rules for setup for this game.

Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
I got to try this 4-player. I don't recommend it, you should really play this 6 player. 5 player might be decent enough as well. 3 player might be interesting just because you care about two topics each. But there was often little incentive to bribe. I ended up tieing with 30 influence in the end, but won the tiebreaker because my opponent had scored 3 of his topics, and I had scored 0. I didn't really care for the game. I would still be willing to play it again if I could try 6-player, but I wasn't really impressed too much with it.

Guildhall
I finally got to try this at the Conclave as well. I thought the card mechanics were very interesting, but the exchanging of guilds for points I didn't care for. It's not a game I'm jumping to play more.

Kemet
Second play of Kemet. I went much more aggressive, but screw myself over with gaining only minimal prayer points each round. I was nearly going to tie for the win, and win the tiebreaker because I had at least 5 points which were due to battles. I ended the game with 11 points, two players had 10, one had 8 or something, and the player who was in last crept up quickly to 12 in that last round. I am enjoying this game and exploring it deeper.

Little Devils
This was a pretty fun trick taking game. Kind of like 6 Nimmt!, you don't want to win cards, and each card has an icon for how many points it's worth, and there are no suits, just unique card values (i.e. numbered 1-54). Each player gets 9 cards, and every card is dealt out. One player leads, then the next player plays any card. If the card is lower than the lead card, then players have to play lower if possible with the lowest card winning the trick. If the card is higher, then players have to play higher if possible with the highest card winning the trick. If you can't legally play, you may play in the opposite direction, but now since you broke the rule, you are winning the trick unless somebody else breaks the rule more. e.g. if we're supposed to play lower cards, and I play a higher card, now it's whoever plays the highest takes it, but you still have to play lower than the lead card if you can.

Rialto
This one didn't do much for me. Not saying it's a bad game by any means, it just didn't move me.

Urban Sprawl
I actually really enjoyed this one. I didn't feel the game was nearly as swingy or random as some people led me to believe. Though the downtime in this game is horrendous. I did manage to take first place, but I was surprised to see the player in last end up with nearly all of the political positions at the end of the game and tie for second when he was way behind second before final scoring happened.

Shark
This was advertised as a game that was better than Acquire, so I had to play it. The comparison was how this took away the randomness of which tiles you draw. True, but now you have the randomness of which color you can grow and which sextant you can grow in.

So in Shark, you are growing 4 colors of... hotels or whatever they are. You roll two dice, one for which color to place (white is wild), and one for a sextant to place in. The stock of a color is equal to the total number of of pieces in clumps. Clumps are at least 2 connected pieces, with a capped value of 7 per clump. Additionally, when two clumps combine, the larger clump erases the smaller clump, and shareholders lose money. If you can't afford it, you must immediately sell shares at half price. You can buy and sell stocks before and after you roll, but you can only buy up to 5 stocks per turn. I quickly made money, then quickly dumped stocks for a ton of cash as I erased and destroyed several other players stock value. My mistake, though, was getting out of one color on the heavy risk that they'd get wiped, but no other players wanted them to get wiped, so they were still making good profit on it. I fared very well, but Jennifer made a win by a large margin. I would definitely look forward to picking this up. I wouldn't call it better than acquire, but I like the different approach it takes for a very similar game.

Master of Economy
And finally I got to try out Master of Economy. The game moves fairly fast and is incredibly fun. But I'll add the person who taught this says he likes 18XX games better. In Master of Economy, you start by controlling two entities: your player, whom you always control; and your corporation, which you control while you are the CEO. The player actually does very little in this game, so if you lose your CEO status without becoming CEO of another company, you will be sitting out the majority of the game.

The gist of the game is you invest money to build buildings, use resources to power buildings to produce resources, buy and sell those resources to other corporations other players are controlling or to foreign markets as long as demand hasn't been met, invest in stock of other companies, and when you can, become CEO of another company.

After the end of the third round, there were 15 outstanding shares in my company. I owned the starting 10 I got as CEO. I was forced to buy back 5 shares to prevent the takeover of my company. But likewise, I personally (between myself and my company) owned something like 15 shares of a company where the CEO had only his 10 starting shares, so he had to buy back a lot from me to prevent me from taking over his company.

At the end of the game, I had a score of 95, taking second. The other scores were 78, 79, and 99. I was so close! I would definitely pick up this game and really want to play it some more! Best game of the con!
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14. Board Game: BGG: The Board Game [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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Who is going to BGG.con again?
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15. Board Game: Honor of the Samurai [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:5275]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Weekly Plays:

Dominion - 4 (goko)
Brass: Lancashire - 2 (OOTH)
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization - 2 (BGO)
7 Wonders: Cities - 1
Android: Netrunner - 1
Cities - 1 (BAJ)
Ghost Stories - 1 (solo)
GIPF - 1 (BAJ)
Honor of the Samurai - 1
Nefarious - 1
YINSH - 1 (BAJ)

Online Plays:

Dominion - Got my first play in with a Guilds card yesterday (Merchant Guild), which was therefore also my first play with coin tokens. I had fun putting together a deck to generate lots of tokens, and then badly mistimed the endgame. Oops. Still pretty rusty with my engine building, and the interface still disagrees with me... but I'm starting to lean toward taking the plunge. $45 for all the expansions isn't a bad deal.

Brass - I've been playing really poorly lately, after a nice long run of winning. Hopefully turning that around in the King of the Hill top game, but we'll see. Everyone has been pretty aggressive with building iron in this one, pretty interesting.

Through the Ages - Lost my first game in a while (actually ended up tying for second, 11 behind the winner, close game). Still experimenting with the expansion cards, which is fun.

Cities - I like this as a puzzle, but as a competitive game... not sure. I might start playing it solo.

GIPF - Made some dumb mistakes, but opponent did not punish me for them like Travis would have...

YINSH - Played a much more solid game here, eventually ending with a chain of forced moves after offering him his second row to clear some of his pieces out of the way. I really like this game.

Offline Plays:

Monday night we had a "surprise" birthday party game night for Adam, who doesn't really celebrate his birthday. We ended up chatting for a while before we actually got to playing any games (we had 11 and were reluctant to split); we ended up playing 7 Wonders with 8 after the others left, which was a little scary with two newbies... though one of them actually did quite well for himself and ended up second (with Giza, and building wonder or blue pretty much whenever possible).

After that it was pretty late and most everyone left, but I stayed to play Netrunner with the birthday boy (while another friend finally arrived and chatted with Casey). This was our first close game, with Adam winning 7-6 (NBN vs. Criminal). This was the deck I had rather hastily constructed the previous week using no influence, and after drawing all three Crypsis very early and discarding two of them, I screwed up one of my runs and had to use Crypsis without a virus counter, then realized that I had no breakers left in my deck which could get through a Code Gate... I was able to make a few runs anyway with two Femme Fatales, but wasn't able to find that last point I needed. They're out of town for a week, so I'll have to find time to actually do some deckbuilding while they're gone.

Friday we got in a couple games after bible study, the first of which was Honor of the Samurai, which Adam's parents had found in their garage. It's a really terrible game, but led to a hilarious ending which almost not-really-at-all made up for how bad it was.

So, this is kind of a hot potato, attack the leader sort of game. You have two rows of cards in play, one for your Samurai (who can die, and you lose all your stuff but immediately replace the Samurai with his twin brother or something), and one for the Daimyo your Samurai supports. The Daimyo can also die (again, you lose all his house's stuff), and if that happens, your Samurai becomes Ronin (and can't get any Honor = Points), but in this case you can ally with another player's Daimyo and become their second Samurai (you get half the points they would generate, and if something should happen to their own Samurai, you steal the Daimyo).

All these massive changes to your "tableau" are bad, but what makes it worse is how easily and randomly they happen. You can steal items (some of which give you lots of strength) at the cost of some points, and that can't be stopped. Combat is determined by rolling strength/3 d6, so you can at least try to build up enough to have good odds there (but see previous bit about people stealing your stuff). Then there are also ninja assassins, who hit on a roll of 3+ (5+ if you have a guard, which you then lose)... and again, whenever your Samurai or Daimyo dies, you lose everything they had.

Some of the cards give Honor, but most of the Honor comes from the Shogun card, which is initially claimed by whoever wants to be the early target and then is stolen through combat or assassination. It gives you 75 points each turn (in a four player game), with the goal being 400. I think the most anyone ever scored from non-Shogun cards was 40. This massive chunk of points is counteracted by the Dishonor card, which costs you 75 points (but can be blocked by Saving Face, in which case you "only" lose 30, but you can't play these if you're Shogun; or by committing sepppuku with three Ps because that's how you spell it apparently), so if you look like you're close to winning, the game still has another several hours to go.

Adam was finally a turn from winning (after I helped him by pointing out that he could become my second samurai, then assassinate my samurai and steal my Shogun Daimyo, basically wiping me out and giving me no chance of ever scoring points again). The previous turn, Jamie had become his second samurai, after spending most of the game not getting points (lots of stealing of items, which meant people kept losing 25 points and then losing the item again before they could score anything from it), not caring that this would probably help him win. But then on her next turn she drew a Dishonor card, which she played on Adam. This is an unblockable -75 which would prolong the game at least another turn. I joked that Adam could commit seppuku and avoid that loss, but losing his Daimyo would mean he wouldn't be gaining enough on his next turn to win anyway (his Samurai wasn't scoring anything on his own). Then I pointed out he could seppuku his Samurai and not lose any points... So he did without thinking this through. At which point I took all his cards and moved them over to Jamie, as her samurai was now first samurai for the Shogun Daimyo.

(And then we quit playing, because it had already taken over two hours to get to this point, and no one really wanted to play anymore.)

We played a quick game of Nefarious after that, but given the late hour I don't think Jamie was fully aware of what was going on. We had the half-cost-inventions twist and the draw-a-card-after-inventions twist, so it was a quick game which Adam won by inventing every turn but one. I tried to draw a bunch of cards looking for Secret Lair, only Casey found it before I got set up... so then I did it anyway because it was clear I wasn't going to have enough money to win, and ended up with 14 cards in my hand at the end of the game. Also, Buttered Cat Array = moral victory.
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16. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.39 Overall Rank:14]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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Old Games

Mord im Arosa x1
Credit Mobilier x2
Cosmic Encounter x1
Flash Point: Fire Rescue x1
Escape: The Curse of the Temple x3
War of the Ring (Second Edition) (with War of the Ring: Lords of Middle-earth) x1



The only play of interest was another game of War of the Ring (Second Edition) with War of the Ring: Lords of Middle-earth this past Sunday with my usual gaming buddy. I played the FP for the first time and found it immeasurably easier than playing the SP, though we still got a handful of rules wrong. Maybe once we get to 10 plays we'll have it down

The expansion continues to offer very interesting additions to strategy. My friend took advantage of an early mustering of Gothmog to blitz his way into Minas Tirith and denied me Aragorn (along with never bringing out any of the original minions, which locked me out of Gandalf the White, as well). Bolstered by the keeper dice, I pushed for a Ring Victory and managed to make it with very little difficulty, though this was due to a mis-read of how the keeper dice work: I was using ALL of them every turn, but apparently you're only allowed to use one per round. As a result, I was drawing a frankly embarrassing amount of event cards which allowed me to reduce an amazing amount of corruption. Now that we've got our rules down better, it won't be such a cakewalk, and my friend now knows to bring out the new version of the Witch King earlier if it looks like the FP is focusing on the fellowship.
 
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17. Board Game: CO₂ [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:555]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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CO₂ 2
Nefarious 2
Galaxy Trucker 1
Keyflower 1
Neuland 1
Power Grid: Factory Manager
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Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 1
Sumoku 1

bolded games apply towards my pledge.

CO2 has been a newfound experience for me, which I have been enjoying quite a bit. The game's strategic space is a distant cousin of Container and Hansa Teutonica, which was a pleasant surprise--- I had heard it was a fairly random game. In reality, it is anything but.

Thematically what is going on---which is not made clear by the game design, IMO--- is companies in the game are developing the science behind CO2 neutralization or replacement technologies. Those technologies include Nuclear and Solar energy, but also include other technologies such as planting new forests, agriculture improvements, and recycling programs. I shot a note off to the developer, and he offered the following insights into the various technologies-

Cold Fusion: a clean and potentially not-as-hazardous-as-fission power source
Solar- This technology is meant to encapsulate all green energy plants: from hydroelectric to solar itself to thermal energy and wind.
Recycling- Energy not spent making new stuff is effectively CO2 savings. Sadly, he did not use the whole phrase--- "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". It's useful to remember the whole phrase, because they are listed in order of effectiveness. It just so happens that "Reduce" is unpopular since it isn't consumption driven.
Reforestation- Planting new forests offsets carbon emissions.
Biomass- In the geekmail he described this as advanced in agricultural production--- I suspect it might also be scientific advances in not wasting food. Perhaps even making veggies more yummy.

So now that all makes sense, as my first few plays I thought we were just burning everything to cut down on emissions. Back to the gameplay.

In the game you have no choice but to interact with your opponents in subtle ways--- each technology requires three steps to create it, and you can only accomplish one on a turn. This means other players can finish your projects. Your goal, much like Container, is to figure out how to get the most points at specific junctures of this exercise. I like this aspect of the game since it offers a fairly deep and game-theory-thinky aspect to the game experience, but also doesn't give the impression that the game is as harsh as it is. How harsh is it? In my second game I won by a margin of over 50 points--- 2nd place had only 60-some points.

Regarding my comparison to Hansa Teutonica, there is this genius little mechanic where you can park a scientist on a project to reserve it for yourself--- other people have to pay to kick him off. This reminds me of pushing cubes in Hansa Teutonica: most people don't see it as intuitive that getting pushed is great and you want to position yourself to get pushed alot. CO2 is no different, except the rewards for not being pushed are almost as great as for getting pushed. Your challenge? Ensure you park scientists in such a way that them getting pushed is as good for you as them not getting pushed. This is a tricky task to take up, but doing it will generate great rewards.

I think those are all my thoughts on the game in no particular order for the moment--- aside from saying that the physical look of the game is fantastic as well.
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18. Board Game: Clash of Cultures [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:214]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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Clash of Cultures x1
Rondo x1

Last friday, i went to my local gaming club for the traditionnal 4 hours of gaming in my children's school. Before, i asked to a friend if he could bring and teach us Clash of Cultures (CoC) because i heard good feedbacks about it and i am still looking for a civ game that meet my tastes.

Here is my experience and concerns about civ/colonization/exploration games :

- Endeavor (own) : i played it 8 times and i like it (ramping up game, short playing time, simple, slavery abolition that focus the game) but i think it lacks something : too abstract, too dry and not epic.

- Navegador : i played it only 1 time (3 players) but i didn't enjoyed it. Its trading system doesn't appeal to me. I think it is too euro-ish.

- Archipelago (own) : i played only for solo (9 times) and i like it a lot. The exploration mechanism is great, the rise of the rebellion too. I can see how this game could be epic although there is no fight/war between players. But i will have to play it with other people to validate my though.

- Eclipse (own) : i played it 1 time and i find it very scripted (i know, it is a 4X but still). All this stuff for the big final battle.

- Tempus : i played 1 time but i found the game very (too ?) focused on military.

- Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization : i played it a couple of times and i found the game very "computational", very focused on military. The big cons is that there is no dudes on the map.

I own, played and enjoy Ur, Antiquity, Tigris & Euphrates but i am wondering how this games could be categorized as a civ/colonization game.

So, we went for a 3 players game (short variant given the timing issue).

1) I found the gameplay very straightforward : actions make sense thematically and contribute to the good flow of the game.

2) It is very touchy around resources and actions : you can't do everything you want to do and as a consequence, you have to make choices.

3) It is a strategic game because you choose how you to shape your civ (what developpements to buy ? what units to born ? going for military ? going for science ? a mix ? what kind of political orientation ? what buildings to build ?) but in the same time, you have to take into account the fate implemented through 'event cards', revealed as soon as one player reach a certain level of mood (happyness of dudes) and/or culture. For example, one player revealed an event (the 'Plague' if i remember correctly) forcing all players to discover the 'Sanitation' in order to expand a city. But 'Sanitation' requires 'Engineering'....So we were slowed down in our expansion and we have to adapt ourselves.

4) To some extents, 'objectives cards' shape your strategy as well because they award you VP for meeting a condition (1 military or 1 non military). Since this is a significant source of points (2 VP by card and you draw additional card in each 'balance' phase), you could be entice to score as much objectives as possible. But these could not meet your overall plan : you will have to take into account the choices and expansion of your opponents, the barbarians that could appear as a result of an exploration.....

5) The tech-tree is pretty overwhelming at first sight : there is 48 devs to choose from. But there some restrictions : you have to discover the top one of a given category in order to discover one of the 3 three other ones (each category has 4 devs). Since the top dev is always a basic one, it is OK. More, the category are well identified and self explanatory.

6) Happyness of your cities is very important because it decides of the effectiveness of your actions. 'Civic improvement' actions can be taken to improve a city from angry to neutral to happy.

7) Cultural influence is the big specificity of the game (hence the title) : you can grab some points by acculturating your opponents cities. Basically, you launch a cultural influence toward a city in range of one of your city (from 2 to 6, each buildings count as 1 hex range). Each city begin with size 1 and can be increased by the number of cities you own (3 cities ? they can go to size 3 each). The targeted city is not totally screwed : the owning player can still benefit from the building and he can launch a cultural influence to recover it.

I enjoyed CoC a lot despite the short variant : this is certainely not the best configuration to get into this game since it seems to be very hard 1) to go for war against your opponents and 2) to build wonders. These 2 aspects of the game take time and lot of resources to accumulate.

I have several cons though :
1) lack of epic --but this is certainely due to the short variant
2) it is easy to forget certain benefits awarded by your dev --some are irrelevant
3) some objectives can be very hard to meet given the situation

Is the military to strong ? I can't figure out because of the short variant. I had to fight 2 barbarians cities near my outpost and this slow me down to move my fighting units forward in order to fight my opponents's cities.
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