GCL Amoeba 131 --Your dream game
Carlos Moreno Serrano
United Kingdom
Guildford
Surrey
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GameChat League - Amoeba Division 131

ABOUT | AMOEBA DIVISION | SUBSCRIBE

Welcome to this week's Amoeba discussion list. If you have found us through a subscription and are wondering where you are, see the links above. Non-trolling comments from non-members are welcome and encouraged, but please leave adding items to the members.

Jevon (cadavaca)mb
Jens (fizzle)
Joshua(Joshuaaaaaa)
Mikko (msaari)
Doug Faust (phrim)
Larry (larryjrice)
Eric Brosius
Carlos (sprocket314)


Tomorrow Sunday I will be blindtesting Robofactory and probably Guilds of Florence with the guys at Playtest.co.uk, this is because I've got a German publisher interested in Robofactory.

So this week is all about your dream game, or the perfect game for you.
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1. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2240]
Carlos Moreno Serrano
United Kingdom
Guildford
Surrey
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If a publisher came to you and told you that they will publish a game from you and that money is not an issue (so you can have any components, any topic, any style...), which kind of game would you design? Imagine that there are no deadlines, basically you can design the game of your dreams.
If you have no particular interest in designing games, imagine you could commission such a game from your favourite designer.
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2. Board Game: The Perfect 10 [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:6817]
Carlos Moreno Serrano
United Kingdom
Guildford
Surrey
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Does this perfect game already exist?
Do you have a specific game that connects with you and who you are?
Why is it that makes it special?
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3. Board Game: Money! Money! Money! [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Carlos Moreno Serrano
United Kingdom
Guildford
Surrey
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How would you improve an existing game if money was not an issue?
Just imagine you won an obscene amount of money somehow and you would like a super-deluxe edition of your favourite game. What would you do? Be creative!
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4. Board Game: 1775: Rebellion [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:247]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I attended SNEW (Southern New England Wargamers) for the first time in quite a while yesterday. It meets regularly on the 3rd Saturday of each month, but those Saturdays just seem to get booked up!

We started with a quick game of No Thanks! while we were waiting for everyone to arrive. That's yet another fine game from 2004 (the most recent episode of The Long View podcast that Joe Huber and I did with Geof Gambill included a survey of 2004 releases, but we didn't cover No Thanks!.)

We had 5 people on hand, so we needed a game for 3 or 5. Scott Pizio and I played a game of 1775: Rebellion with our host, Nick Avtges. It's another game in the series started by 1812: The Invasion of Canada. It turns out I really enjoy two games that are named 1812: the other is 1812: The Cradle of Steam Railways, the 18XX design by Ian Wilson, who also designed the better known and better rated 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire. I prefer 1812: The Cradle of Steam Railways, which is compact, to 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire, which seems too sprawling to me.

In any case, 1775: Rebellion covers the American Revolution. It uses cubes and areas and cards just like its predecessor. But it features one great innovation and one valuable simplification. The innovation is the reinforcement mechanism, which is driven by control of colonies. To place reinforcements in a colony, you must control it. You control it if there are no enemy cubes or neutral tribes in it. If you control a colony, you may place any of your reinforcements in any city in that colony.

This makes control of colonies absolutely critical, not only for victory at the end of the game, but for placement at the beginning of each faction's turn. I played the British and was allied with Scott's Loyalists against Nick, who played both the Colonial Army and the Patriots (there are also Native Americans, Hessians and French.) Time and again I kept wanting to reinforce New York City, but we didn't control New York state, so I couldn't do so except when we got an event card that included a shipment of Hessians from Europe that sailed straight into New York harbor. Although you can make naval moves (I as the British had more naval cards than any other faction, though other factions had a few,) once one side clears a part of the country, it's hard for the other side to retake it.

The simplification deals with control of areas. In 1812: The Invasion of Canada, you must mark each vacant area to denote which side controls it. In 1775: Rebellion this is no longer done. If an area is vacant, no one controls it (thus, any unit can use a blank die to move out of a battle to a vacant area, something only Native Americans can do in the older game.) Perhaps this represents the "civil war" nature of this conflict, but mainly it makes things easier.

In our game, we started with a big invasion from Halifax to Rhode Island, and by moving out of our Delaware stronghold to try to take New Jersey. Nick started in the South, and eventually took Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Meanwhile we cleared the north, expanding from our base in Nova Scotia and Quebec to take Maine (which is unhistorically a separate colony) and New Hampshire. Nick's reaction to our invasion eventually allowed him to fortify Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, but he sure did pile a lot of his forces in there.

Toward the end, we had the Mid-Atlantic (Delware and New Jersey, with "almost" control of Maryland and Pennsylvania---at least enough to keep Nick busy) and together with our northern provinces, that made 6. Nick had 7, but on turn 6 we got the last two plays. Scott snuck a unit into the Delmarva peninsula to break Nick's control of Virginia and then hammered Nick's two remaining units in New York to take New York. I played my truce card to end the game, but we were already ahead 7-6 and I didn't actually have to do anything.

There's plenty of luck in this game, especially in the order of cube draws at the end of the game (the last faction to go can ignore defense and pile into key areas.) But it's much tenser than 1812: The Invasion of Canada. I enjoyed it a lot.
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5. Board Game: Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2373]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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2 x _8_Das Kleine Gespenst
2 x _8_Animal Upon Animal
1 x _7_Memory
1 x _7_Fleeting Foxes
2 x _8_Felicity: The Cat in the Sack
1 x _7_Indigo
2 x _9_The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game
1 x _2_Rapelli
1 x _6_Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant

Aeroplanes isn't Martin Wallace's hottest game. It has plenty of odd design choices. I might play again, but not with five players, but I wouldn't miss much if I never played it again.

Rest is mostly games with kids. We're quite excited about The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-Building Game, which should come out in couple of weeks - we read about the game from Cryptozoic blog, and it sounds very good indeed. Meanwhile we've been enjoying the first game quite a bit. I've even managed to win the game couple of times.

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6. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:575]
Jens KH
Germany
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Games played

_8_ Dream Factory
_7_ Comuni
_7_ Shitenno
_6_ Animal Upon Animal x2
_6_ Hanabi
_6_ O Zoo le Mio
_5_ Ubongo x2

Shitenno (4p): I cannot decide whether it's best to be able to divide the cards yourself or to be the first one offered the result. I know that this time I was very happy to do the cutting on the final turn because that way I could make sure to get something useful while keeping my closest pursuer at bay. Which would you like, useless or unhelpful?

Comuni (5p): Except for one badly timed invasion that netted one player 14 damage markers (ouch!) Italy was very well defended this time. Most cities had quite the military budget, however. Chalk that up as a lesson learnt from last time. Scores were quite a bit lower as a result.

Fabrik der Träume (5p): The two first movies produced (by the same player; what was everyone doing?) divided up the early Oscars among themselves, and even though they didn't get much recognition during the final ceremony the early advantage proved too much for anyone else to even come close.

Ubongo (2p): This got suggested in an attempt to collect a few easy wins. I believe I successfully thwarted that plan. No, men are not necessarily super-slow at this. devil
I actually enjoy the game so a 5 might be a bit low, but then I think the puzzles tend to be too easy and the scoring doesn't make sense, so...

This coming week won't see a lot of gaming but I'll be at a gaming retreat this coming weekend which should more than make up for the rest of the week. Assuming that Jevon's still abroad, I'm going to post the next list on Monday, hopefully.
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7. Board Game: Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2704]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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_?_ Unpublished Prototype x2 - I was at Andrew Parks's house on Saturday to playtest his new prototype. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to say anything about it.

_7_ Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean - After getting in a couple of good playtests, we were ready to do something else. There were six of us: me, Anni, Andy, Kyle, Manny, and Rob--unfortunately, our only choices for six were Parthenon and Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery. Despite the fact that it is Andy's game, no one had played Parthenon in years, so we went with that. Kyle and I got off to a really fast start, as the first turn revealed a grain shortage in Athens (Kyle was the 3-grain island, and I was the 2-grain island). I used that gold to get both of my wonder plans, a Great Harbor, and my second fleet in the first year. In the second year, I made sure to get a Fortress and a Shrine early, remembering that there are events that hurt people without those buildings. Sure enough, those events came up in the third and fourth seasons, so I managed to dodge some bullets. At the beginning of the third year, Anni went to Ionia but came home without even flipping the Harbor Status card. Seemed a bit suspicious to me, and I had been waiting for an ore shortage all game, so I went there with 3 ore next turn. Jackpot! Of course, Anni got me back by sending the Persian War at me next turn, meaning that I didn't produce. A shame, since I was planning on winning that turn. I knew that Kyle was also planning on going out that turn, so I managed to trade a spare Warship for a couple of much-needed goods. I got my last building built, but so did Kyle, Andy, and Rob! First tiebreaker was number of philosophies--Rob and I had 1, but Kyle and Andy had two. Second tiebreaker was Aegis cards--Kyle had one to Andy's zero for the victory. Close game!
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8. Board Game: Lost Legends [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2054]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I have another five plays to add to the list. Three were "fillers" that I enjoy quite a bit, one was an old favorite, and one, Lost Legends, was a game I had never played before.

_8_ No Thanks! -- I'm a big fan of 2004 designs. From a quantity standpoint it's my favorite year, though it doesn't quite match the quality of 1995. Joe Huber and I recently went over a number of 2004 designs in the episode of The Long View we did with Geof Gambill. The featured game from that episode was Saint Petersburg, which was, of course, released in 2004. One 2004 game I usually forget to mention is No Thanks!, a short game on the subject of risk and liquidity. Perhaps if the people running investment banks (including AIG) had played this game a few times, the crisis would have been less severe. For a long time I rated it a _7_, but I always find myself happy to play it when it's suggested, and even suggest it myself fairly regularly, so I had to upgrade my rating.

This week there were enough people for three games, and I was hoping to teach 1853, which I had learned, but one group was committed to playing Spyrium and another to Clash of Cultures, so we couldn't really start a third heavy game (some people in the group can't stay past about two hours.) Bill was delayed, so we started with a quick game of this charming little game. I decided to play optimistically, but the more successful optimist was John, who took the 33 with a pile of chips on it, then the 35 with a pile of chips on it, and was delighted to see the 34 come up late in the game. He won by a country mile.

_8_ Puerto Rico -- Once Bill had arrived, we needed a more substantial game. We were all happy to play Puerto Rico, though it took us quite a while to find it on Joe Rushanan's game shelves. The problem wasn't the fact that he owns more than 2000 games, but the fact that he owns the deluxe edition of Puerto Rico, which comes in a box that isn't the color we were looking for. I always think of Brian as a strong Puerto Rico player because he won his first game against good players who had already played many times, but he said he has only played it a handful of times. In this game, Brian started by building a Hospice, and I (having seen that movie before) took a Construction Hut. Bill and John took the more traditional Small Market option. I got a great building infrastructure going, with 3 Quarries, but I didn't ship anything for a long time (2nd Indigo often has that problem) and Bill and I tied with 50 VP. He won the tie breaker quite handily. I like this game better when it's not experts playing, because you see so many unusual things you need to react to.

_8_ Coloretto -- The Spyrium game was just over halfway done, so I suggested another favorite filler. I know that Zooloretto is the more highly regarded game, having won the 2007 Spiel des Jahres, but I rate it only a _5_, even though I'm a big Michael Schacht fan, preferring the elegance of the earlier game. I'm a regular user of John Farrell's stats site, and one of the data elements I watch is my "H-index", which is currently 34, meaning I have played 34 different games at least 34 times each (but I haven't played 35 games 35 times each.) Since I had played Coloretto 32 times, it's one of the obvious candidates to get me to 35 (though I need to play it several times to get there,) the others being Winner's Circle, Merchant of Venus, Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War, Notre Dame, Snow Tails and Bakschisch (all of which I rate _8_ or higher.) John had never played it, but it's not the kind of game that takes a long time to learn. Bill got off to a nice lead, but Brian had a big last hand to win by a margin of 97-93.

_8_ No Thanks! -- John had to leave, bringing our table down to 3 players. Spyrium was still plowing slowly along (they say time goes backward in that game) and Clash of Cultures was nowhere near done, so we whipped off a second game of No Thanks!. This time Bill was the most successful risk-taker.

_4_ Lost Legends -- Finally the Spyrium game was finished. Some people needed to leave, but we had 5 left to try this game, which Brian had gotten via Kickstarter. I have to thank Brian for making so many games available for us to try via this route. It's a gorgeous game, but I was immediately struck by the fact that it belongs to the "cards with microscopic print that you have no chance of being able to read from across the table" family. This type of game faces a steep uphill climb if it's going to earn my affections. The most recent game like this I tried was Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation, which I rated a _2_ (it also had many other problems.) We dealt out characters and I was unhappy to see that Bill, on my right, had a character with the same symbols I had---which I assumed meant he would draft the cards I wanted. Sure enough, I saw almost no good cards all game. I have since read that we should have gotten our first opposing creature before the draft. This might have made the game slightly more palatable for me, raising it from a low _4_ to a high _4_. There were a lot of "not quite baked" elements to the game, though it sort of worked. But a tiny print game has to be terrific in other aspects or I'm not going to give it a second try.
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9. Board Game: Nada! [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:9851]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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Played zero games as I was too busy with work. Thankfully, that has changed a little bit this week.
 
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