GCL Phoenix 139: Long Summer Days (2013-09-01)
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ABOUT GCL mb PHOENIX DIVISION mb SUBSCRIPTION THREAD

If you're a lurker or have otherwise discovered GCL Phoenix, feel free to read along with us and see what the members have to say on everything under the sun. Everyone is welcome to make constructive comments, but please leave adding items to members.

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*Next week's host.

It's the Labour Day long weekend. The long Summer days are past and Fall is mere weeks away. School's starting for many on Tuesay. And others are returning to work as their holidays end.
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1. Board Game: Phineas And Ferb 104 Days Of Summer Board Game [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
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Summer's nearly over. How did the last few months fair gaming-wise? Did the distractions of Summer take you away from the gaming table or did the long Summer evenings get you and keep you at the table?
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2. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:103]
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It's the Labour Day long weekend. What better time to celebrate the worker in worker placement games!

Post an image of your favourite worker placement tokens. Why do they appeal to you (even if the game may not)?
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3. Board Game: Agricola: Farmers of the Moor [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked]
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Worker placement is one of the more popular mechanics in Euro games. Are you a fan of worker placement? What are some of your favourite worker placement games and why?

And if you're not a fan of worker placement, what is it about the mechanic that doesn't appeal to you? Are there some worker placement games you particularly loath?
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4. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:40]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
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What an apt topic for this week. I'm at Pacificon and I've played a few worker placement games.

2 games of Le Havre - a qualifier and a championship round. I won.
1 game of Dominant Species. (Friday night against 2 wandering monsters.) I'd forgotten just how nasty and vicious this game can be. Must play more soon. (Oh, and I won. By 1 point.)

And a few other things:
2 games of Power Grid - a qualifier and a championship round. I came in 3rd of 5 after the worst power plant stall I've ever seen (5 rounds, including 3 in which nobody either bought a plant or a city).

7p 7 Wonders with friends.

My first and last play of P.I.. Not my cup of tea -- longer than it was fun by a wide margin.

An unpublished prototype; the designer said I was the first person who ever called his theme of trolls catching and eating children cute. Sadly, I was able to point out several ways in which the game needed to more work. Still fun.

A 6p Outpost with 3 of the people I only see at cons and usually play 18xx with, and 2 other of their circle. I came from behind by lucky timing, beating Josh Allard who I thought had a lock, and who apparently has a 90% win rate.

And there was some gaming last week, two:

Monday night:
Eight-Minute Empire - first play. It's more like 18 minutes than 8, but still pretty good for what it is, a civ ultra-light.
Northern Pacific - First play. Cute, light, no staying power.
The Great Zimbabwe - The newbie won after we let him get away with murder by not building level 2 craftspeople.

Tuesday night:
Lokomotive Werks 5p. Eve first by $2! Me second. :-(

Thursday night at Dave's:
5p Imperial called on time; I had a strong but fragile position, in part built by spending most of the first half of the game with no country flags.
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5. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:331]
 
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

_8_ Pandemic 1
_8_ Carson City 1
_8_ Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set 3 New!
_8_ Netrunner 6
_7_ Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island 1
_7_ Macao 1

Week in Review

A very consistent week for me, in a good way. Four 8s, one of which is new (I just bumped Netrunner up from 7), and a 7 that may become an 8 (Robinson Crusoe was very fun on my second play).

I tried the Team Game of Pandemic for the first time, which is a mode in the new expansion that pits teams of two against each other. We had two teams. I really liked the way this gave a certain structure to what I was doing. We were all trying not to lose, but adding the layer of how to beat the other team was really fun. Especially after a cure is found, the jockeying for position to eradicate was quite tricky: if you can't do it in a turn, how do you set yourself up to do it next turn without allowing the other team to do it before you? Good stuff! The person at the table who least enjoys Pandemic did not find it to be a huge change to the game, so I can't say it will alter someone's feelings toward the game heavily.

I was leaning heavily away from the new Pathfinder Card Game, but the relentless buzz got to me. I had a chance to scoop up a promo with the game and I caved. Turns out I very much enjoyed it! Thus far, I've played the three times all in one day. If I didn't have an RPG background, I'd probably rate it 1-2 points lower. If I didn't like coops, I'd probably rate it 1-2 points lower. So perhaps someone without the buy in for either of these features will see it around a 5. I would not recommend it to someone who doesn't feel drawn to either playstyle.

After a brief partial play of Robinson Crusoe two weeks back, I got to play a "full" game today. I put full in quotes because we only lived to the halfway point before dying of exposure. I had a ton of fun in this play and am leaning toward putting it at 8. I'd love to play again but I am not certain I would buy it. It seems like a tough game to get on the table and I don't want games I can't get played right now. Still, if given the opportunity to get it, I could easily see myself losing the battle with self-control. Buying into the storyline is everything. This is another game that tickles my RPG itch.
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6. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:41]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Despite a slow start and no Wednesday game night, it turned out to be a pretty good gaming week.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island x 2

I got to try this one out, each play was a 3-player game with the Castaways scenario (it wasn't the same group of 3 each time though). We found the game thematic, interesting and tough. If you dislike coops because "they're just puzzles and one player takes over" then don't bother. If you want a good story game and have the group for it (or like solo games) then this is a good one.

Castles of Burgundy x 2

I played a game with my neighbor and a game with my wife, losing each time. The one with my neighbor was close - 180-171 - where I had a field of 8 brown spaces but only got 7 buildings down (the 8th wasn't available in the last round). Would have been 36+ points. Alas.

The game with my wife was ugly. She won 207-155. gulp

Hanabi x 2

We finally bagged a perfect score (25) with the base game! Time to go back to the rainbows.

Race for the Galaxy x 2

I won a 3-player game and lost a 2-player one. Good old Race.

Dominion x 2

My wife and I split a couple of games yesterday.

Key Harvest x 1


My neighbor requested this, and it was nice to play again. I never really got into a rhythm and wound up losing, albeit by less than I expected, 47-41.

This past week marked my first time in school in the last 10 years. It's an adjustment for sure. I took my copy of Palastgefluster to German class and the instructor explained and translated the names of some of the cards for me.
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7. Board Game: Seven Card Samurai [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:12923]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Sunday
Roll Through the Ages (with Late Bronze)

Monday
Roll Through the Ages (with Late Bronze) x2

Tuesday
Roll Through the Ages (with Late Bronze) x2

Wednesday
Ra: the Dice Game x4

Friday
Magnate x2

Yesterday we had some friends over for dinner and gaming. They brought Seven Card Samurai with them. I got only 4 points in the 4th round, but jumped back in the race with 20 points in the final round, putting me only 2 points shy of winning.

To keep with the Asian theme, we introduced them to Tsuro. They liked the artwork and presentation. We played two games of that, the second while eating homemade Key Lime pie that they brought for dessert.

We had time for one more game, so we played Piece o' Cake, which the husband had played with us the last time we got together and liked. He was the winner, followed by the wives (tied), and Sam was 2 points behind us.
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8. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:636]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_7_ Forbidden Island x1
Easy novice level game with my daughter and oldest son, primarily to get her more comfortable with making decisions in the game. The layout of the tiles wasn't too friendly with Fool's Landing off in a corner, but we had lucky card draws and the easiest win I can recall in some time.

_6_ The Resistance x1
My boys have been wanting to play the Resistance but opportunities have been low. With family in town for labor day we got this out, initially setting up for seven but then one person got a phone call so we ended up as a six player game. My oldest son and his uncle were the spies and the Resistence won with only one hit from the spies. Sadly, my son didn't know how to play a spy well (he had only been Resistance before) and his uncle had trouble understanding the game, which was a bit of a problem for the table overall. By the end of it I think it was better understood but I also don't think any of them (other than my boys) will be reqesting this. Oh well, sorry boys.

TRACK:

Tabled: 5 unplayed.
Removed: 30 removed.
Acquired: 31 acquired.
Cultish: 11 worthy / 12 played.
Kudos: 03 achieved / 16 progress.

2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos
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9. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:151] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Games Played

_8_ Magic: The Gathering x4
_7_ Carcassonne x2
_7_ Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer x1


Expansions Used

_7_ Ascension: Return of the Fallen x1


The Week in Review

Not a very exciting week of gaming. Ascension and Carcassonne with S, topped by some Magic: The Gathering with P. The week ahead should (hopefully) prove to be more interesting as Trains and Archipelago should arrive in the next couple days. Their imminent arrival and the beginning of September do have me thinking about another auction. I really need to free up some space around here.
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10. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:348]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 31Aug2013:

12/26/283 plays of 10/18/145 total games, with 1/1/26 expansions employed.
Plays with 11/19/78 distinct opponents.

2/5/22 games acquired (plus 0/1/7 expansions.) Elements arrived from Japan, and I unexpectedly received a very generous gift of Julchen und die Monster.
1/4/14 games ordered (plus 0/1/5 expansions.) Elements
Orders for 6 games and 2 expansions still outstanding.

With my youngsters:
1x _7_ Endeavor (44 months dusty) - Just son #1 for this one. He was amused - far more than I'd expected (I admit to some sanity here: I wouldn't have inflicted it on him if I thought it wouldn't appeal. But he found it quite compelling.) He had the better board position, but I had the better cards: the final score was very close.
1x _8_ Elements New! - Again son #2. He took to it very quickly, and seemed to enjoy himself. He won, too; which is never a terrible thing for him and a new game. But the real reaction happened the day after: he wanted to tell me that 1) he really likes "logic card games" (Which, I guess, is how he classifies Khmer.) and 2) he thought that having a family Khmer tournament would be a perfectly sensible plan for Labour Day. That's quite a lot of enthusiasm from a youngster that prefers to jack himself into the computer and play Minecraft or League of Legends.
1x _7_ Julchen und die Monster New! - We added daughter #1 for this one. And, admittedly, it's more her style than his style. But they both seemed to enjoy it. I was amused to discover that - even though I think I'd been clear about the three possible end conditions (i.e. Eat Juliette, protect her until the cards run out, or have her in hand with few enough cards to match the number on the ruler-thing) both of them were working toward the first of those conditions.

On Wednesday with the, uh, Wednesday Night guys.:
1x _8.5_ Taj Mahal (69 months dusty) - Years ago, this had been one of my _10_s: a rating coloured somewhat by playing with pretty much the same set of people all the time. It was a game that worked for us; and worked really really well. I dropped my rating after trying it on a few other folk: people for whom the whole bid-or-die chicken aesthetic didn't work.
This game was delightful. I don't think we, collectively at least (one exception - not me!) played well. But the style and dynamics were embraced enthusiastically by the table. As a result, the game was very enjoyable.
2x _7_ Erie Railroad - Both of these were relatively unsatisfying. Some of that, perhaps, was that we didn't play well. (In fact, that wouldn't surprise me at all: I'm pretty sure we didn't play well.) But the first game was thrown to a player (me!) who didn't deserve it at all when one of my colleagues made a move that looked to benefit him (and did; but helped me more.) The second had a similar endgame: one player made a "best for him" move that dropped him out of contention and gave another player (who had, up 'til that decision, been out of the running) the victory. I'm not sure yet whether those dynamics are good (and worth further investigation) or chronically unfortunate. But I'm running out of opponents that want to try: none of these three guys are interested in exploring it further.
1x _7.3_ Northern Pacific - This one, on the other hand, was amusing - even if it was less than five minutes from opening the clamshell, through explaining the rules, playing, and putting it all away again. After playing now with 3, 4, and 5, I'm not sure which of the three I prefer. And that's its own surprise: I had expected that I would have found one of the three better than the others. The guys claimed they would be happy to try it again, too: so more exploration will be possible.

On Friday with the back-on-Fridays-for-2013 lunchtime gamers:
1x _7.3_ TransAmerica (with Vexation) - This one is always fun. But, usually, it's also close. This game wasn't. Richard just won each round until one of us fell off the bottom of the score track. I don't think I've ever seen that happen before!
1x _7.3_ Africana New! - This one reminded me a bit of Valdora, a previous Michael Schacht game that uses a few common mechanisms. Yet while I'd not found that previous title worked for me (I couldn't reconcile the mechanics with the theme; and the generic medieval theme didn't help me remember why I was doing anything) this title seemed clear and coherent. The "European Explorer in 19th Century Africa" theme was disturbingly* fun, and worked really well in the context of the in-game actions.
*: The romanticisation of the explorer is delightful; but the reality of that exploration was outrageously exploitative. As long as I could confine myself into the former sense, it was completely enjoyable. But the other leaked in periodically and needed to be beaten back with a stick. Or a gang of mostly-unpaid native labourers. Oops.

On Saturday with the BAP crew:
1x _7.7_ Homesteaders - A nice reminder of how much better this is with 4 than 3. It's a cool thing: I wandered down a low-loan path that I've never travelled before - and had a surprisingly large degree of success. (My "normal" path takes loads of loans, and aims for the Bank - amongst other things - to reduce the loan load by the end of the game.) The number of potentially successful paths is pretty impressive: it's a nice design.
So why don't I rate it higher? I think it's because I fall completely out of theme during the game. It feels like a particularly dry optimization exercise while I'm playing. It's an impressive dry optimization exercise, but a very abstracted one.
1x _7_ Endeavor - This was fun with 4, too. (Though the 2p game is a reasonable facsimile of the larger experience.) Son #2 came by to deliver pizza during the game, and lit up with pleasure when he recognized the game on the table. (Normally we play things that he doesn't recognize and, more, doesn't find sufficiently visually appealing to want to investigate further.)
The game itself worked nicely, even if we blundered a few times with the geographic restrictions. The final scores were close, and the game didn't overstay tis welcome.
1x _7.3_ Power Grid: Factory Manager (38 months dusty) - This one was with 2. And, sadly for me, it's tighter than I remembered. I blundered in turn 1, and played catchup (unsuccessfully) from there out. I need to play this more often to have any competence.

Owned-and-unplayed: 13 (+2/-2) Julchen und die Monster and Elements both entered and left the list this week.

Outlook for the week: Mostly the "usual routine": I'll (hopefully) have some folk over on Wednesday. I expect to play a few games with the youngsters. And there's a good chance of a game or two appearing at noon on Friday. Dave E.'s Los Altos Gameday is on Saturday; I'll try to hit that, too - though lovely wife and I are going to hear a friend's band on Saturday night, so I won't be able to pull off a Really Long game.
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11. Board Game: Blank [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 35:
Nothing at all... well, except for one drinking game which I lost.

The Week in Review:
Freshman week at Uni and it was awesome. I am so super excited about it all. A few boardgamers in the mix too so that might be promising.

The Week Ahead:
First week of classes and plenty of homework, plus getting up even earlier in the morning than usual.

Life is GOOD!
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12. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:35]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Sorry I've been somewhat absent over the past week. I had a bank holiday weekend of gaming and countryside adventures followed by a busy time catching up at work. Most of my gaming time has been taken up with building Magic decks, oddly enough, as that's something I haven't done for many years. A few friends have recently rekindled interest in the game amongst our group so I've been putting together some Commander (EDH) format decks. I'd forgotten how much time that part of the game actually takes.

We played a couple of long Commander games at the weekend with half the players being fairly new to the game and the other half coming back after a long absence. Both halves were having to peer across the table to find out what the others' cards did! I'm not familiar with many of the cards from Worldwake onwards - some of them seemed pretty powerful for the format. Meanwhile the new players were shocked by the efficiency of old school cards like Sol Ring. It looks like I'll be playing Magic a bit more since there's been a bit of a drop off in interest in board games, although maybe that's just due to summer and the warm weather we've been having.

Last week's plays:

-10- Magic: the Gathering (x2)
|9| Boggle (x10)
|9| Hansa Teutonica
|9| Through the Ages (+Polish expansion)
|9| Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
-8- Hanabi (x2)
-8- Kingdom Builder (+Nomads)
-8- Terra Mystica

A three-player game of Hansa Teutonica saw Kate teaching D and I felt like the game was running away from me. I was stuck on 3 actions while Kate and D had 5, so I knew I had to end things quickly before they could take advantage. Seeing that the bonus markers were popular, I worked towards running them out and ending things that way. Turns out we hadn't properly explained that game-ending condition and D was surprised when he didn't get an extra turn. I think he enjoyed the game and was content to chalk it up as a "learning experience".

We followed that up with two Hanabi games, probably too much brain burn for the lateness of the hour. We hit 20 on the first attempt, which I thought was reasonable with a new player. Our second attempt saw us on 20 and Kate knew she had a card that could get us one extra point, but didn't know which of her four cards it was. We were down to our last life and agreed that we'd take the 1 in 4 gamble to try and beat our previous score. It didn't work out, so we scored 0 (although I understand some people play that we'd still have scored 20. That seems like a cop out to me, where's the danger?).

Kate and I had an odd game of Through the Ages with very little conflict. I ramped up my science while trying to reduce hers by taking key cards from the card row and seeding Ravages of Time to get rid of her Universitas Carolinas. She had plenty of other resources and put them into as much culture as she could. Neither of us saw any useful aggressions or wars that would make it worth putting our strength up way above the other, so it remained outwardly peaceful. Four lategame Movies plus Space Flight helped me catch up and endgame events favoured me enough to push me a single point ahead of her. In this game, such a score is within the margin of error, so it was effectively a draw - a first for us.
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13. Board Game: 10 Days in Asia [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:2021]
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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Hi all,

I had an email from
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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saying that he'd suggested me as an addition to Phoenix and to post if interested. I'm interested, (and flattered!), so I hope its ok if I just jump in here with this post.

I've been following and commenting on a number of the GCL's as some of the more interesting content on BGG, and Phoenix seems to be one of the friendliest, and it definitely has the best name. I'm definitely a fan of the mythical bird, and have always found the concept of rising from the ashes, and rebirth through fire, captivating. I hope I'll be able to contribute regularly.

My entries are likely to be short - a combination of childcare, PhD, work and family commitments mean I don't get to play as many games as I'd like these days, but I probably get to play an average of 1-2 games a week with occasional days with friends / holiday gaming sessions in which as much is crammed in as possible. Game group wise, I'm a founder member of Rugby on Board - started last October and going strong, I also occasionally get to Southampton on Board and the original London on Board where I first met Rich P.

I'll try to keep an accurate tally of those games I do play and otherwise comment / answer questions.

_10_ Agricola x 1

You are likely to be seeing a lot of this, I'm a fan, and right now preparing for the first ever UK Agricola Championship, which is being held this Saturday (not coincidentally) in Rugby, the town where I'm living. Last night at Rugby on Board, actively recruiting for participants in the tournament on Saturday, I taught two complete newbies (players 1 and 2) one Agricola sceptic (player 3) and a keen novice (player 4).

At their request, I rather threw the newbies in the deep end, dealing out a full hand of cards from EIK decks. They both coped admirably and with only the meagerest of pointers succeeded in finishing the game without a begging card between them. While they occupied only wooden huts, one of them grew to four family members and, despite cautions to the contrary, both successfully pursued a sow/bake strategy, using the cards for support, and scored 19 each.

Player 3 caught a begging card after some inefficient food gathering from the newbies, but otherwise had a fairly decent farm - scoring 35 and ended significantly more favourably to the game.

Player 4, played a blinding game (only her 3rd time), an early Axe led to rapid growth, slowed slightly due to aforementioned food deprivation and somewhat reluctance to cook animals.

I started last and due to a heated fight for start player (when teaching I had perhaps overemphasised the mistake newbies make in neglecting the space), remained last player for most of the game, but was able to take the win largely due to a lucky cattle combo (milking stool, milkmaid?) which with the early cattle availability on the 5 player board, was netting me 6 food a harvest by mid game, and also gave me a whopping 8 points in bonuses at the end.

Everyone said they'd like to play again, and we got one more recruit (player 3) for the tournament on Saturday.
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