GCL Amoeba 132 - The Trick is to Keep Breathing (2013-08-25)
Jens KH
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GameChat League - Amoeba Division 132
ABOUT | AMOEBA DIVISION | SUBSCRIBE

I've been lurching from phases with no gaming (admittedly, all of those phases were fairly short and I certainly won't start using the term "drought" any time soon) to phases with lots of gaming and back again recently. Add to that a rather high level of "ambient noise" (aka "crazy busy") and you have a breeding ground for this list.

Welcome to this week's discussion list!

If you stumbled onto this geeklist by accident take a look at the pointers provided at the top. Constructive on-topic comments from visitors are welcome and we're happy about new regular contributors, but please refrain from adding items.

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Jevon
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1. Board Game: Escape from Atlantis [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1869]
Jens KH
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How much gaming is too much? Is there an upper level of gaming you can take before you need a rest or break (apart from just physically falling asleep or similar)? I suppose this is might primarily be a question for those regularly attending cons and other gamer gatherings. I felt like I received quite the dosage this past weekend.
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2. Board Game: Time's Up! [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:382]
Jens KH
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How little gaming is too little? Do you start missing your gaming fix when you need to go without for a couple of days? Just a few weeks ago I would have answered yes but after a rather stressful recent period my desire for gaming has unexpectedly taken a dive, I think. I was fairly happy about any day with no gaming scheduled. That may just be a stress reaction, obviously, and I didn't actually game less overall during that time so I'll call my findings preliminary at best but still.
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3. Board Game: SOS Titanic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1663]
Jens KH
Germany
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Gaming as stress relief. Yes or no? Helpful or counterproductive?
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4. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:92]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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1 x _6_Pickomino
1 x _9_Innovation
1 x _8_Love Letter
2 x _9_Suburbia
1 x _9_The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game
1 x _7_String Safari
1 x _8_Continental Divide
2 x _7_Tatu ja Patu virheistä viis (new)
1 x _7_Mini Curling Game (new)
1 x _6_Livingstone (new)
1 x _7_Skunk (new)

Not a bad week, after a bit of a dry spell. Thursday games, then return of the circus school on Friday, then board game club with my son on Sunday and some new games with the family on top.

This was the first time ever I've seen Fission go off in Innovation. That was quite the blast.

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5. Board Game: Agricola: Farmers of the Moor [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked]
Jens KH
Germany
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Games played

.10. Agricola (with Farmers of the Moor) x2
_8_ Hansa Teutonica (with the East expansion, new)
_8_ Linq
_7_ In the Year of the Dragon
_7_ Kingdom Builder (with Nomads)
_7_ Ora et Labora
_6_ Love Letter x2
_6_ Régents
_6_ Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890 (new!)
_6_ Village (with Village Inn, new)
_5_ London
_5_ Qwixx (new!)
_4_ GiftTRAP (new!)
_4_ Time's Up!
_4_ Yay! (new!)
_3_ Seasons (new!)

Turns out I'm not quite over the hump just yet. But I've been gaming all weekend. Which, of course, didn't help me get things done, either. Oops. Anybody have 48h days for sale? I am on vacation starting now, though, which should hopefully improve things, and I'm going to fly to Ireland with the gf on Friday which I'm very much looking forward to. Don't expect me to turn up here between then and two weeks later.
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6. Board Game: 1853 [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2526]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I've played three games since last week's list. My wife and I were vacationing in NH, and brought some games with us, but we were mainly riding on boats and doing vacation things.

However, I was able to inventory a copy of 1837: Rail Building in the Austro-Hungarian Empire I had received in a trade before leaving for New Hampshire, set it up, and play through a few turns of a sample game. This game is the more complex precursor of 1824: Austria-Hungary. Both games are set in the Austro-Hungarian empire and involve different kinds of company and a complex assortment of train types. It seems like the kind of game I will like (of course, I thought so before I traded for it!)

Claire and I also went to visit Stefan O'Sullivan, who lives near where we were in NH. He has an admirably eclectic collection of games, something I aspire to myself.

.10! Saint Petersburg -- Our friends came up Friday night, and even though they arrived fairly late, I played a game with Cally and Andy before going to bed. I had some good luck, but I also avoided falling into any traps. I was first to take a noble on Turn 1 and got a Judge (though, to be fair, there were several nobles flipped.) This is a fine start. In the upgrade phase I got the Carpenter's workshop---not a killer card, but very useful so early, especially because I had two small buildings in hand already (taken to open up spaces.) I also got an early Observatory, but only used it about half the time, cognizant of my money and hand space challenges. At one point there were two upgrades available to me: the Patriarch, a noble upgrade that earns 4 VP but no money, and the Bank, a building upgrade that is a cash machine. I picked the Bank, since the whole game was cash poor, giving an opponent the chance to take the potentially valuable noble upgrade. I was more or less even with my opponents during the game, but pulled way ahead in final scoring, with 10 unique orange cards. Joe Huber and I did an episode of The Long View with Geof Gambill on this game. I still enjoy every game, even after nearly 10 years.

_8_ King of Tokyo -- On Saturday all 5 of us played this fine king of the hill game. Cally started off with a strong notoriety push, and without taking too much damage, making her an early target. Claire bought Wings, a great defensive card, and I had to settle for the cheaper Unstable DNA, which allowed me to take someone else's card in exchange for it when yielding Tokyo. Andy was living life fast, and decided prudence required the purchase of It Has A Child, which let him restart if killed. I made it into Tokyo briefly and cheerfully withdrew when Claire clawed me, taking the Wings card from her. Andy had an energy generating machine and bought an Air Strike that cost everyone including him several health (but missing his Child!) I had used my Wings to prevent the damage, so when Andy's card killed the other 3 players, I was still relatively safe.

I killed Andy's initial monster together with its valuable card collection, and now I only needed to beat him to victory. I had a lead in notoriety and my Wings, and since I was able to roll an average of 2 lightning bolts a turn, I simply stayed in Tokyo and closed out the game.

_7_ 1853 -- On Monday night we played the beginning of a game of 1853. I had studied how to teach the game and even posted a Teaching Guide to BGG. Kevin and Marsha wanted to play. The most significant innovation in this game is the Contract Bid process, which serves to randomize the start of the game (1853 has no private auction---or privates, for that matter.) It went much more smoothly than I had expected. Kevin bid $120, I bid $110 and Marsha bid $100, so we rearranged ourselves accordingly. I wound up with Company 1, Kevin with Company 4 and Marsha with Company 8, with Company 6 also in the initial set of companies but not started for a while. This turned out to give me an advantage as far as we played (only to just into the green trains.) We knew we probably wouldn't finish in the time available. We spent 30 minutes learning the rules and 105 minutes playing, then packed it up. I went home to rest for a business trip the next day, while Kevin and Marsha stayed for another game.

Next week Claire and I are headed to Spain for a week to attend a wedding. It is south of Bilbao in Basque country. While we're there, we'll try to learn something about the area. So I may be irregular in my postings for a while.

[Edited to fix typo]
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7. Board Game: The Amazon Hop [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jevon Heath
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Hi everybody, I'm back! There was obviously not a lot of gaming going on, although I did get in one aborted attempt at Pocket Hive at one point on the trip. The only bit of gaming news I really have is that one of my partners in train games back in Santa Barbara has just moved up here, so maybe there can be more Winsome and 18XX in my life.
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8. Board Game: Hotel Life [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:4305]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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d10-9 Crokinole 2x
d10-7 The Downfall of Pompeii 1x
d10-8 Hotel Life 1x
d10-6 Nothing Personal 1x

NEW to me:

Enjoyed playing Hotel Life despite the game obviously being a bit dated. This one is tough to come back if you start getting behind and sometimes you get behind just due to a poor dice roll. My first play really had an enjoyable narrative that unwound as I built up my hotel to a three star hotel despite hiring illegal immigrants as a hotel doctor and receptionist...of course, some other hotel was quite happy to hire them away from me after they got caught. The action cards can really lead to some zany and chaotic results as quite a few actions chain together to bother other guests in both your own and other hotels. The game is quite thematic which probably also plays into the difficult to catch up issue.

Nothing Personal was interesting but did drag on about 30 minutes too long. Perhaps repeat plays would move along more quickly but I'm uncertain as I expect we would all play quite a bit differently. This one was a close game with a three way tiebreaker having to be in place - and the victor was the only person in the three way tie that still had one mob position under control. The last round saw quite a few mobsters go to prison or assassinated. This is a nasty game - very little in the game is nice. Play at your own risk!

Other comments:

Crokinole is always fun...even if I played poorly. My partner and I were skunked in the first game but managed to turn things around in the second game. Sadly, time ran out so we couldn't play a tiebreaker.

The Downfall of Pompeii is generally a fun, light but spite filled game. Lots of table talk happening in this one.

===========================================

Was good to return to gaming again after about a month of almost no games after a trip to China and some intense weeks at work. Work is still quite busy, but I'm able to get away on some evenings and weekends once again, thankfully.
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9. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:696] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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I was down in NJ at Don Poletti's for gaming on Saturday.

_7_ Suburbia - This was with Jay and Don's college-aged nephew whose name I should remember but don't. I started out with a hidden goal that wanted me to have the most gray hexes, and there was also a public goal that wanted the most contiguous gray hexes, so I knew where I was going this game. I started out, though, with building up my income with some offices and a bunch of things that went with them. Jay was using a strategy that involved him getting a ton of airports, while Don's nephew built up his income a lot and completely ignored his reputation. Jay boldly staked a claim to a public goal that required most contiguous lakes, which we weren't going to compete with. There weren't many gray hexes early on, so I had to sit and wait. In phase 3, they started coming out en mass, so I grabbed a bunch of schools. Jay was also grabbing gray buildings, so I had to make sure to stay ahead of him. Both Jay and Don's nephew grabbed PR Firms while they were still high on the track, which really put me at a disadvantage. On the last turn, I had one more gray building than Jay, and I figured he wouldn't shell out $20+ for a mostly worthless gray building just to tie me, so I didn't shell out myself. I was right--instead he bought a $3 gray community center to tie me. Ugh, so I missed out on both bonus tiles. I don't think I'd have won even if he didn't do that, since he had a commanding lead due to his PR Firm, but no bonuses meant I came in last.

_7_ Guildhall (new!) - I saw a copy of Guildhall in Jay's bag, which is a game that I've been anxious to try. So I was happy when he suggested it without me saying anything! Same three people for this. I really liked how this game flowed, but it seems somewhat beyond me to try to describe specific gameplay. I took a strategy of trying to just get more cards on the table, instead of going out of my way to get specific cards. I tried to save up my sets for an 8-pointer, but Jay beat me to it. Fortunately, a 9-pointer came up shortly and I was able to grab that. Eventually I built up enough to declare victory, but both Jay and Don's nephew said they would have won on the next turn. So, close game!

_7_ 7 Wonders - This was with me, Anni, Don, and Don's nephew. I had the Pyramids on the B-side, so I decided to spend a lot on trying to do my 4-part wonder. Don on my left had the science wonder, so I didn't do science at all (turned out that Don didn't do science either, and Anni and Jay split it). I managed to get all four parts of my wonder built by the second age. After that, I did a little bit of military (with mixed success) and a little bit of blue buildings. At one point Don passed me a hand full of cards I had already built, and my wonder was done--that made me a bit grumpy. I didn't have any advanced resources, so getting those big blue buildings at the end was a bit expensive. When the dust cleared, I came in second--Don's nephew won with a military strategy.

.10! Merchant of Venus - This was on Don's custom Dathkadan set with me, Anni, Don, and Jay, who was new to the game. I get off to a fast start, and I'm quickly able to identify a convenient four-loop for delivering goods. Unfortunately, everyone else saw the same four-loop, so I ended up splitting the real estate with Anni (I think she ended up with more of it, actually). Then Don went and bought a transport, and before I knew it, all the goods along the route were depleted. Well, darn. Game didn't last too much longer than that though, since we were playing to $2,000. Somehow Jay ended up winning with a strategy of buying up every single factory he set his eyes on (don't ask me). I somehow managed to come in last place despite a fast start.

_9_ Agricola - This was with me, Anni, Don, Pat, and I think his name was Mike. We were playing with the I-Deck. Pat got down the improvement that lets other people pay him to plow more fields, so I put down the improvement that lets me plow a free field anytime someone uses Pat's improvement. The net effect was that no one used Pat's improvement until late, except me (begrudgingly). I played an occupation that gave me an extra grain and vegetable when I got grain, but gave everyone else a grain too--I'm still not sure this card is a good idea. Don played a card that made people pay him a good when they went to the grain space--since I was giving everyone free grain, I ended up being the only person to use the grain space all game. Anyway, I was really concerned that someone might beat me to the clay oven, especially considering that they already had grain that I so graciously provided. So, I sold out to go after it, and did in fact get it, but neglected to get any wood early on. The wood was very popular in this game, so I was having a really hard time building my third room. I think I got my third person out later in the game than I had for years. So, in the end-game, I found myself pretty far behind the curve. I did manage to get five people in four clay rooms, with tons of fields and crops. However, I was only able to build fences on the very last turn, and only got one sheep and no other animals. That's obviously not a winning strategy, but at least I didn't embarrass myself. Don won.
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