Labor Day Weekend 2013 Games
Juan Medina
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Cedar Park
Texas
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Got a few new friends in town and decided to get some gaming going. I had planned to to all three days, but we ended up too tired and today we will take a break.

This is what we played, and what I thought of it.

EDIT: Updated the title after a good fellow pointed I totally got this wrong
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1. Board Game: Court of the Medici [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2458]
Juan Medina
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Cedar Park
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Played a couple hands with Kel. I absolutely love this little game. Lots of interesting decisions to make in a really compact game. I find it really hard to believe the prices this one is fetching nowadays when I used to see copies going for $2-$4 bucks online.

I won the first game due to a poor move on Kel's part that added one of his jokers on top of my last inner court card while I had a clear numeric superiority. Conspired to kill my own inner court to win. Second game was more standard, with Kel reversing the tide and winning the game very clearly.
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2. Board Game: Shanghaien [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2195]
Juan Medina
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Kel has played this a lot of times online, but wanted to play a live copy. I can't remember who won, but that is perfectly fine for the relatively light feel of the game. This is a the core a game where driving the score itself is the game. Interesting decisions to make, but a healthy dose of luck.
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3. Board Game: Armorica [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:5255]
Juan Medina
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Kel wanted to play this super clever game which I love, so it was not hard to get it to the table. Ana Maria joined in and we got a pretty good game. This is one of those that gives you some semblance of control, but the more players, the more chaos. I would, however, heavily recommend it to people that like light card games and want to play something off the beaten path.
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4. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:126]
Juan Medina
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By now David had joined us and we went on to learn this amazing auction game. I had been very reluctant to try this mainly because I perceive the game to be one of those that people play really good or not at all, but thanks to David's super thorough explanation and very open recommendations on different paths to victory made me change my mind. Really good game. Finally, I went on to read about how well this plays with two, and though the judgement on that seems to vary, I found enough people that liked it well enough for that number, so a copy is on the mail now.
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5. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1579]
Juan Medina
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The now group of four set up to play this traditional game. We got a couple uncertainties with the rules, but went on to play as good learn-as-you-play-dont-care-about-winning-the-first-game people do. It is a nice game, one that I would play as a filler, but I got the vibe from everyone but Kel (maybe) that this was just Ok. I may put this out on the auction block, not sure yet.
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6. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:628]
Juan Medina
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David's friend, Pat, was in town for games and did swing by the house. Kel was very interested in playing this, and though I am not a huge fan of this game (traded my copy a while ago) I am not reluctant to play it. The game did not look good for me on the first rounds, but eventually I managed to put out the best movie out there, while securing decent enough completed films. David was hot on my track, and Pat also did pretty good, collecting a lot of early prizes.
It was fun, but I still hold the game as very "meh" for me.
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7. Board Game: PAX [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:2211]
Juan Medina
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Ok, one of my new favorite card games made its first four player appearance, and it kind of tanked with David. Reason is, I went on really early on the game to go for the traitor to illustrate its power while giving the other players ample time to recover while building almost nothing on my end. Unfortunately, my goal of teaching that did not go as well as planned, and I did too good. By the end of the game, there was one category on the balance, and the hidden cards made that into a tie, causing Rome to dominate in 4 areas. David found this anticlimatic, and I understand exactly why. As of now, I really think this is probably better with two or three players, but I will have to play it more with four before making a final call.
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8. Board Game: The Name of the Rose [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1656]
Juan Medina
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David had to step out for a bit, but Sebastian joined us to play a four player game of this amazing design. Ana Maria completely devastated us, both winning the came and avoiding detection. I was the worst player, but I also managed to not be recognized (one of the event cards severely affected my clue points and I had little chance to do much about it). Kel was happy to do well, particularly since he ended up only two points above Ana Maria.

A classic game in my household.
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9. Board Game: Bid It Right: The Price is Right Card Game [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Juan Medina
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Board games rule my life, and my wife's. That is a good thing, believe it or not ;)
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To be completely honest, when I saw this I did not hope for anything. I thought to myself: This is one of those cult following games Kel loves so much. I am pretty sure the glances Ana Maria, David (who made it back) and myself were giving at each other were not reassuring. So, first offer comes out, play a card, ok, I get it. Second item comes up, play a card, hmmm ... this is more intriguing than I thought. Third card play comes, everyone but me plays their fifteen, and I won a large item for my eight card. I pretty much jumped out of my seat. From that point on, the game picked up for everyone, and we had a huge blast. I may track a copy around, and gave it a good review. Goes to show I need to keep an open mind about games, and to remind me many of what I consider the jewels of my collection are commonly overlooked or under appreciated games.
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10. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:836]
Juan Medina
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Board games rule my life, and my wife's. That is a good thing, believe it or not ;)
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Ana Maria wanted to play this, Kel did too, and I always love to play this. David was Ok with learning the game, but a bit aprehensive. Kel was out of his mind and by the time he realized it, he had more corruption, his only way to get rid of it was to get more corruption in an attempt to overbid people with the priests bribe ... or so the thought. In reality, he ended up not getting that much fame, and by the end of the game his pyramid was overflowing at the bottom with corruption tokens. Ana Maria did not build much, which surprised me. I think she did put too much effort on making sure she had some presence on the mosaics in preparation for the corruption phase. David, who did not like the game at all, went to win. Later on I thought to myself that I kept making fun of Kel for getting so much corruption but I still kept playing conservative when I should have gone all out to try and outbuild others. I love this game.
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11. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:597]
Juan Medina
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David taught us this really amazing game. I think I might have found my new favorite game to explore with Ana Maria. As he put it, it is great to learn this from someone that knows the game, because the rule book is apparently atrocious. I think David won, but can't recall for sure. I did pretty decent by collecting 21 coats of arms, while absolutely failing at completing my missions. I figured out it is really silly to get harder missions when they don't give you any difference in victory points.
Kel and Ana Maria also liked it, so that was great!
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12. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1366]
Juan Medina
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We closed the night by playing this little dice game. I must remember to print out player aids for the Senate cards, so players don't lose a lot of time reading that. It is the only real drawback of the game. I really like this game, and played with four is always really tight.
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13. Board Game: Jericho [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:4356]
Juan Medina
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I am really glad we got to play this little known Lehmann game. I liked it a lot. Ana Maria on the other hand, tends to be bothered by games where other peoples actions destroy here little buildings, and so I am not sure whether this will remain in the collection or not. It has a lot of interesting elements for a card game.
 
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14. Board Game: Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:3908]
Juan Medina
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Taught Kel how to play this in a game with Ana Maria. He totally won that one. It is a nice game, lighter than its direct sibling "Biblios". Essentially, the bluffing of putting cards for later rounds and the keeping money secretly is exchanged by the roll feature. It is a fun game, and it does make good sense for something that is heavily based on dice rolls.
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15. Board Game: Relationship Tightrope [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:3286]
Juan Medina
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We played this Knizia game (Kel claims not to be a Knizia fanboy, but we play a Knizia every time we get together), and Ana Maria and myself did horrible. I kind of liked Yin-Yang a little bit better. Also, this does not hold a candle to "Turn the Tide".
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16. Board Game: Morels [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:635]
Juan Medina
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Ana Maria went to bed to take a nap, and we decided to try some two player games starting with this game. I found it cute and interesting, but also found it a bit more of an activity than a game. Mellow, and with neat elements, I liked it but I am kind of happy I have not tried to buy this one for the prices it is fetching nowadays. That may mean I will never get it, since everyone that has it seems to want to hold to their copies. I guess my fascination for all kinds of games is starting to wane, I would be all over this a couple years ago.
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17. Board Game: Murder of Crows [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:5702]
Juan Medina
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Kel wanted to get this one played and I abided. Not a bad game, just not a very interesting one. I like the artwork on it a lot, and the color pallete is also something I like. However, this is one of those "take that" card games, where every card will mess up your chances of winning. I will play this again, but only if there is nothing better to do.
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18. Board Game: Dracula [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:2721]
Juan Medina
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Kel had asked to play this and I absolutely love it. It is a pretty simple, silly game with some minor memory elements. Kel got unlucky and actually, got easy to read in the very heat of the game. I had two of his coffins, and then he had two of my maidens. After I got the second coffin, he rushed to one of his locations, kind of out of the way, and swapped a card. I knew right then and there that he had placed a coffin. Got there, revealed the coffin, and paid for the movement with the card that allowed me to look at his supply, where I found the two remaining coffins. Muahahahahahaha! It was a cool game. I am happy he now knows how to play it, teach it.
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19. Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:667]
Juan Medina
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Kel wanted to learn this. I had a copy for a while, but Ana Maria did not care for it, and I did not think it was that great. At any rate, I taught Kel, and we played a really good, tense game where he was barely one step ahead of the investigators. In the end he managed to block my vision, and I cold not accuse him, even though I knew two moves before the end who he was. That is not enough for Sherlock, Watson, and whatever the cute dog name is. You have to prove the criminal identity without any hint of doubt. Kel won!
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20. Board Game: Der Feuersalamander [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:10974]
Juan Medina
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Board games rule my life, and my wife's. That is a good thing, believe it or not ;)
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Ana Maria woke up and we played this game. I knew beforehand the game was not going to be a hit, and I wanted to make sure. I got this because it was pretty obscure, it has a deduction element, the pieces and board are very appealing to me, and it was super cheap.
To summarize this, it took a good 20 minutes to get Ana Maria and Kel to understand what the game was about. We played a super short game, but the total time with explanation was probably around the 45 minutes mark. Well, I guess I knew that was bound to happen but I wanted really bad to be wrong about it! I have a couple ideas to fix some of the annoying elements of the game (e.g. the roll/move mechanic) and make this simpler, but even after that there is not much game here. My final thought about it, the one that probably will have it ejected from the collection, is that if I was to play this, I would rather spend the time playing Inkognito, which looks and plays better with a very similar theme and feel.
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21. Board Game: Piece o' Cake [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1591]
Juan Medina
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Kel taught us this neat game with one of the most amazing mechanics: I divide, you pick. We actually played the first two rounds the way the game was supposed to be played, but I was kind of thrown by the fact that it was relatively easy to gather quick points and eliminate information by just eating your pieces right away (of course, not a very sound strategy, but something I wanted to validate). Last round we tried playing where you either collect or eat everything on your piece of the pie. The designer confirmed later to Kel that our original way was right, you pick you piece, eat whatever you want, collect the rest. I like our second way better. It is a nice game, I might get a copy (my only reluctance comes from the fact this requires at least three players).
 
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22. Board Game: Boom Town [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:5815]
Juan Medina
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Board games rule my life, and my wife's. That is a good thing, believe it or not ;)
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By then, Tony and Aimee arrived. They taught us this really simple and silly game and encouraged us to give the businesses on the board funny names, and that we did in spades. Kel is now known as the "Pervert Cobbler of Mount View", while the infamous strip club "Bazongas" got approved only on their fourth try at trying to get on the board. Cool game, good points, great for laughs. I may try and track a copy, but it may prove quite difficult to do so.
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23. Board Game: Opera [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2323]
Juan Medina
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Property of LunaClara
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Board games rule my life, and my wife's. That is a good thing, believe it or not ;)
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To close the night, Tony got a huge amounts of points on this super elegant game. Unfortunately for me and Ana Maria, this one will join the ranks of Terra Mystica and Chicago Express as games that we absolutely dig from the elegance of their design, but that we are unlikely to play with each other due to the fact they are very deterministic games. During the scoring phase of the first turn, I figured out my decisions had been rather poor. By the scoring of the second round, I realized I was never going to catch up. We did make a couple things I considered decent (which I may be totally wrong about) like keeping the lead in the budget track so we could have first dibs on some things. However, without the cash to support being ahead, we ended up picking all kinds of crappy things. I don't think we did as terrible as we could have done, and it was well worth it to see the game from beginning to end. I will play this if offered, but Ana Maria and myself went from considering to buy it, to relegating it to the place of games we would play only if asked to.
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