GCL Mafia 137: The book was better...
Chris Ferejohn
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California
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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
badweasel
mith
mattbcha1
Thesp
Butterfly0038
cferejohn
touchstonethefool
fdubois

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of September 2 - September 8, 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: The Books of Magic (fan expansion to Dominion) [Average Rating:6.15 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.15 Unranked]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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We've done a couple GLs about movies that I can remember, but I don't remember one about books (which isn't to say it wasn't back there somewhere).

What sorts of books do you enjoy reading now? Sci-fi/Fantasy? Biographies? Classic literature? Photojournals of extreme German fetish porn?

Have your tastes changed over the years?
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2. Board Game: Repeat Pete! [Average Rating:5.39 Overall Rank:14105]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Do you ever go back and re-read books? If so, what inspires you to do so? If you have re-read books, have you gotten more out of them? Discovered they weren't very good after all? Or better than you thought?
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3. Board Game: Rory's Story Cubes [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1978] [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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One of the reasons I wanted to post a GL about books is because I've been in a bit of a book rut lately. I've been slogging through House of Leaves and I am honestly not sure if I like it or if it the worst kind of pretentious nonsense. Either way it is kind of dense and weird and I've ended up diddling around on the iPad or listening to podcasts while I'm going to sleep rather than reeding.

I really dislike quitting a book halfway through (or reading more than 1 book at a time), so the consequence is that I just haven't been reading much lately. To that end: recommend me (or everyone) a book - maybe one that's a little off the beaten path.
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4. Board Game: Happy Families [Average Rating:4.71 Overall Rank:16743]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Are you embarrassed about any books you liked when you were younger (like high school - I hope no one is embarrassed by Dr. Seuss). That is to say a book/books you really liked but when you've looked at them again in your adult life you are amazed at how badly written/trite they are.
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5. Board Game: Making It [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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There are a few games based on books out there - Pillars of the Earth, 1001 Arabian Nights, etc., but it certainly isn't the license bonanza that movies are. Are there any books you think would be particularly good in game form? How do you think that game would play?
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6. Board Game: Dragon Dice [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:7607]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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PAX
LOTSx Dragon Dice
LOTSx Daemon Dice

PAX Train
3x Hanabi
2x *Sentinels of the Multiverse
1955: The War of Espionage
Alien Labyrinth
*Alliances
Coup
The Duke
Elder Sign
*HERO versus GUARDIAN: A Game of Dungeon Craft
*Iron Dragon

Game Night
Liar's Dice
Love Letter
Small World
Yspahan
Incan Gold

Online
Alhambra

*new to me

==========

So this past week, I had game night on Tuesday. Rode the PAX Train from Wednesday to Thursday. (Though I got sick on Thursday. Way too hot on the train.) Then Thursday through Sunday I enjoyed PAX demoing Dragon Dice. I ended up coming home a little early, so I was one day short of achieving one of Thesp's achievements, playing games for 7 days straight. I don't count online plays for that.

Daemon Dice
Dragon Dice
At PAX, all I played was Daemon Dice and Dragon Dice. I ran countless demos of each. I'm not big on Daemon Dice. I think SFR's comparison is a good one. Dragon Dice is like Chess, and Daemon Dice is like Checkers. I picked up a pack so I could have it and show it to people, but if it wasn't SFR's product and I didn't want to support them, I wouldn't have picked it up. It's okay, just nothing noteworthy.

But as for Dragon Dice, I had a ton of fun, even though I was mostly doing demos. We made some great friends and had a blast. It was my first time meeting regular players, and even playing a few games against regular players as well! I played in our open tournament on Sunday, and won 2 out of 3 games for second place. I lost to SFR's rep director in the last match. His race were the Eldarim, which is the 13th race and I haven't any idea how to play or play against them, yet.

The Duke
This was my third game of this with my cousin. We also happened to have our SFR booth directly across from The Duke's booth with their giant copy of the game. This game was clearly going in my favor, as I always had at least as many units as him, but usually more. Though, we had made it much further along in this game, taking out about 9 of each others units. So we had gone through a majority of the bag as well. It was a good game. I look forward to more plays, and have considered picking this game up. I don't know how well it'll stand up long-term, but short-term, I enjoy it enough to play more often and explore more strategies.

Sentinels of the Multiverse
I finally played Sentinels for the first time. Our first game was against the Dreamer. We had 4 heroes, so 5 characters started on the board. 2 of them reduced all damage to them by 2 total, and 2 of them were dealing 8 damage to all players every turn. The last one dealt 5 damage to the player with the most health. So by the time we started our first turn, we were barely above half health, and struggling to deal even one damage to a monster. We eventually slew the heavy hitters, and the others started going down more quickly, but we quickly dropped to about 4 health each by the time we flipped the Dreamer. The other side quickly wiped us out before we could kill off 10 more monsters...

We immediately played again with a much easier opponent, Spite I think it was. We were doing very well, but weren't damaging him because of all of his healing. I could typically do 3 damage on a turn, but it would mill 5 of my cards and hit me for 2, healing 2 of spite's health, so I was useless. Between two of our players, we negated that 2 damage, and one player started hitting for about 12 damage per turn, while another player was stocking up on cards for a mega blast. 2 damage per card underneath it. It wasn't long before we defeated Spite easily.

Overall, the game was interesting, but based on how the different decks play, heroes and villains, decks can easily become obsolete against the wrong villain. So I am not convinced that this is something I would want to pick up.
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7. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:409] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Trains* 3
Bananagrams* 1
Call to Glory 1
Carcassonne + Inns & Cathedrals (iOS) 1
FITS 1
Lost Cities 1
Spectaculum 1
Summoner Wars: Master Set 1
Taj Mahal* 1
Zooloretto: The Dice Game 1

I'm lumping yesterday's plays in here because it was a long weekend and BECAUSE I CAN.

I finally got to try Trains. So far, I've only played 2-player games, however with each one, I've enjoyed the game more. It definitely is Dominion-with-a-board. No doubt about that. I think the game will be better with more players given that there will be more competition on the board. For now, it's enjoyable and we'll see if it has staying power. (I suspect it may not, but we'll see.)

Bananagrams was a fun speed version of Scrabble. It is what it is. I finished first but ended up with a non-word meaning I lost. Bullshit. I still consider myself the victor. Rules be damned.

Taj Mahal was a little long with five players, but its bidding mechanic was fairly unique and interesting. I'm glad I got to play one of the older classics and I wouldn't mind trying it again.
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8. Board Game: Noblemen [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1646]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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New Games

Jungle Ascent x1
Pizarro & Co. x1
Noblemen x1
Garden Dice x1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – HWK-290 Expansion Pack x1
Elder Sign: Unseen Forces x1

Old Games

The Dwarf King x1
The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet x1
Chicago Express x1
Cosmic Encounter (w/ Cosmic Encounter: Cosmic Incursion) x1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game x1
Elder Sign x1

I, like Grace, am lumping yesterday's plays in with last week's, because I can

Jungle Ascent was a cute little take-that romp. Goofy and inoffensive.

I'd had my eye on Pizarro & Co. for a while now and was able to pick up a cheap copy from one of my FLGS' clearance shelves. It's a really tight little auction game that was very well received by my usual gaming group, and the fact that the scores were close definitely helped the reception. I'm eager to try it with the other sides of the main boards to see how the altered powers change things.

I had really low expectations going in for Noblemen, as it looked like the worst kind of bland euro tile-laying garbage I could imagine. However, I was pleasantly surprised as the game turned out to be much more dynamic than I had anticipated. The way that the Queen token alters round length, specifically, managed to salvage what could have been a boring optimization slog into something much more immediate and volatile. It's not the greatest game out there, by far, but it was certainly better than I had anticipated, which is saying something. Not something I'll ask for, but one I'll definitely try again.

Garden Dice is cute family fare that may work better with more than two. I may or may not hold onto it long enough to find out.

I got to try one of the new Wave 2 ships for X-Wing, specifically the HWK-290 (or the Moldy Crow, for those of you that played the Dark Forces series). It well and truly is a support ship, but one that turned my second X-Wing pilot into a giant murder machine. While a bit fragile in and of itself (had one of the Imperial players had a better grasp on the game, it's likely the HWK would have been shot down much earlier), it may need some juiced up defenses to make it really amazing. As it is, I really like it as one of the new additions, and not just because I think the model looks awesome.

And finally, I got a chance to try Elder Sign with the expansion, Unseen Forces. In truth, it doesn't change the game all that much, but it does add some additional variety in the blessed and cursed dice along with a metric crap ton of new adventures and investigators. A fine expansion, but one that doesn't make me want to re-buy the base game.

Oh, and Phil and I tried out Netrunner on OCTGN. The system is really weird, most of the stuff is automated, but you're given free reign to adjust stuff as you go. It makes it really easy to take back/rewind moves, and allowed Phil to take back some cards he accidentally discarded after the auto-discard of a Snare! flatlined him by getting rid of the rest of his hand The whole thing is a little wonky, but so far I like it, and we're looking to get some more games in in the near future.
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9. Board Game: Monopoly: Disney/Pixar [Average Rating:4.82 Overall Rank:16442]
Beau Bailey
United States
Missoula
Montana
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No board games again this week. Still waiting out the arrival of a minihuman.

We played a lot of Disney Infinity again this week. I'm still really enjoying it. As I said before, the pick up and drop nature of it makes it ideal for the interminable waiting.
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10. Board Game: The Duke [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:451]
Matthew C
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I headed over to the LGS this past Thursday to get my game on. I got to play three games:

1. The Duke - it's like chess, but not at all. The idea of having an abstract where the pieces you move have two sets of commands is a brilliant one. If you have not already tried it, I think you would enjoy it, McJarvis. However, I lost brutally quickly in my first game due to a blunder I made -- this made me remember that I am terrible at chess. Luckily enough, I was not so blunderous in the second game, and managed to play long enough that my opponent made an equally stupid move to mine, and I was able to Dukemate[?] him.

2. Race for the Galaxy - actually played this before The Duke. I espied someone else's copy, so when people were deciding what to play, I suggested it. Since it's not a game I suspect is not requested from people-you-don't-know very frequently, it was chosen to start the night off. We played with four (one of whom was new). I played an alright game, but nothing spectacular. I ended up stealing 1st place on the last turn because I dropped a 6-cost development for the blue-worlds (of which I had 6).

3. Finally, I pulled out Rattusto introduce to my fellows. They had never played it before, which obviously needed to be rectified. Again, the game astounds me with its simplicity -- 5 minutes' explanation and you're happily setting cubes about Europe, waiting for impending death. I managed to eke out a win here by ignoring the King for once, which means that I won [almost] every game this week? Odd.
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11. Board Game: Android: Netrunner – Creation and Control [Average Rating:8.23 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.23 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Plano
Texas
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Weekly Plays:

Android: Netrunner - 3 (2 on OCTGN with James)
Brass: Lancashire - 1 (OOTH)
Ghost Stories - 1 (solo)
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - 1

MOAR DIFFERENT GAMES FAIL.

Another Ghost Stories Hell loss (I switched to Nightmare yesterday, and won, though I had full boards for the latter half of the game so it wasn't exactly easy). And finally a Brass game is not completely falling apart - I've got a small lead early in the rail phase (though I only flipped three mills; just a tight, low scoring game).

Netrunner

We tried out OCTGN on Monday, and mostly figured out all the little quirks of the system by the time we were done (having to restart once because I screwed something up, and nearly having to restart again for the same reason). I also got my first taste of Creation and Control...

First game I tried out a Next Design version of my HB deck, against James' Whizzard. His build was cool - typical Anarch virus fun, but also Joshua B. to tag himself and the Data Leak Reversal to trash some of my cards. Between that and Next Design's ability and the Beta Tests I was scoring I got closer to decking than I've seen before, but I did get some nice pulls from the Beta Tests, and also an early Cerebral Overwriter for 2 brain damage, and he didn't get much out of R&D, so I ended up winning 7-2 (though with 4 points sitting in Archives, which he could have forced through if he'd wanted).

Second game I finally tried NoiseShop, against his Jinteki: Replicating Perfection. I got an amazing draw - Wyldside, Grimoire, a couple Sure Gambles - and Wyldside soon found a Workshop and some viruses to get rolling. With so many cards early I shrugged off an early Snare (and Dues Ex cancelled out a Ronin), and his draws were as bad as mine were good, too many Agendas.

The game with Adam was my first try at NBN, against his Whizzard deck again. I had some pretty bad luck early - at one point, I had a lone Pop-Up Window protecting HQ, and four agendas in my hand - but fortunately he did some more building up instead of running there, so I was able to score one (at which point my remote was much safer, with Archer). After it hit 4-4 though, I was able to lock things down a bit better, use my SanSan to score PSF, and then wait for a Breaking News. I think he's retooling this as a Noise deck, after deciding he wasn't really getting much use out of Whizzard's ability. (I am currently having a hard time seeing why you would run Whizzard over Noise at all with the current card pool; Imp is so much better at trashing, and if you really want a discount to trash you can get that from Scrubber. That new neutral Corp Operation to purge viruses is going to hurt Noise significantly, but still.)

Lord of the Rings

Before the game with Adam, I taught Adam and Casey LotR (finally), using three of the "starter" decks I put together from the Core+Mirkwood cards. Adam took the Dwarf/Eagle deck, Casey went with the lone female character, Eowyn, in the Rohan deck, and I played the Gondor/Support deck (which was designed with lots of multiplayer support cards, since I never get to use those solo).

Pretty easy win... We were slow going on the build up, and had a lot of locations out, and also Ungoliant's Spawn hit before we got through stage 1 (with me at 31, and with WallDenethor not yet prepared to deal with her), so Adam took her on with some Eagle fodder taking the damage. After that it was fine, with Denethor set up to defend against pretty much anything (Dunedain Warning + Burning Brand = 4 Defense and no shadow effects), while Casey quested and did some support attacking (with Ranged Brand, and Quick Strike Dunhere), and Adam waited to crush anything that moved. We drew the path requiring a second Ungoliant's Spawn defeat, which Casey finished off with Gandalf (to be cute, I played Son of Arnor first to take Spawn away from Adam's staging area, bwahaha). They both seemed to enjoy it, so hoping we get in another game this week before I leave.
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12. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:49]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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1x Dominant Species
2x Court of the Medici
1x 18NY
2x Northern Pacific
2x Erie Railroad
1x Airlines Europe
1x Lost Legacy

It was my first play of Dominant Species since it was first released. I had a lot of fun, but my earlier impressions remain. The key to this game is hanging back, not being perceived as a threat and making a last gasp for the finish line. That said, it's still a lot of fun and with 5 players, it still only took 3 hours.

18NY continues to impress. My notes: Charlie, Greg, and Adam. I started the 6 and the 9 at $65 and the 10 at $60. My gut is that along with the 8, 11, 1, and 2, these are the strongest minors (with the 7 and 5 being situational). We played with the newest rules (with Buffalo starting as a double city, the BA and NH cities being pass through and the Erie Canal costing $140). With Buffalo as a double city, Greg (owner of the Erie Canal) started the Erie in the second SR. In the 3rd SR, I started the NYH. In the 4th SR, the NYC started and I kept all of my minors (the 6 already had a 4). Then, before the NYC ran, I bought a 6H with the 9, rusting all the NYC trains. I ended up started the BA and NH using the Foundry to buy one 12H and taking loans for a second 12H. Unfortunately, before the NH ran, the remaining 12s and 5Es were sold. The NH ended up holding 2 (or 3?) times for money for a diesel. The D&H had really good tokens and ended up with a diesel and a 5E and ran for $1700. If the bank had broken, I'd have won, but with $10 or $20 left in the bank, we ended up with 3 more ORs and Adam with the D&H won.

I got in two more plays of CoM and I'm glad I did. It still feels like a quick filler, but there is more strategy and depth than I originally thought. Amanda and I got a couple of more plays on bowling night between games.
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13. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:351]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 10  Android:Netrunner x3
 8  Ginkgopolis x2
 8  Seeland x1

Back from vacation and back to an average gaming pace as a result.

Android:Netrunner. This was my 80th FTF game. Wow. And this will certainely not end in a near future as we (me and my buddy) are stucked into it. My buddy don't want to play anything else anymore.

We played Creation & Control's decks. I tried to build an Haas Bioroid deck to counter the Katman-Datasucker deck of my friend. 3 Atman in play (0,2,4 strenght) with Datasuckers and Parasites is very difficult to defend against. So i was very happy to see that my deck was able to score 4 AP each time. I made some adjustments in order to improve it. We will see this evening if i can win.

I played Kate as a runner. 1 win, 2 losses. 1 won by R&D locking (Indexing + Medium). For this evening, i removed Inti/Dagger/Cloak.

Ginkgopolis. I bought this game last week because of my recent enthusiasm for Pearl Games's Tournay. I played the solo variant 2 times (against HAL the robot) and i must say that i am very impressed by the design. It is neat, engaging, appealing and it might be a game more strategic that it not seems at first sight --the first time, it looks like more to a luck fest, a tactical and chaotic game.

I can see my rating reach 9 as soon as i will be able to play it against real humans.

Seeland. A 2 players against my son who enjoys this game a lot. Always a pleasure to play this great "little" game.
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