GCL Mafia 140: Plays and Playing
Travis Dean
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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 GCL Mafia wiki page. If you would like to be notified each week when a new list is posted, subscribe here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

Active Members in order of preparation (Next week's preparer in bold):

Dolus
ecargo
McJarvis
badweasel
mith
mattbcha1
eapeas
Butterfly0038
cferejohn
touchstonethefool
fdubois


The first few items are intended to foster discussion.

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of September 16th-22nd, 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 BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4389]
Travis Dean
United States
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How many plays do you need of a game to feel like you can rate the game?
 
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2. Board Game: Arimaa [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:2026]
Travis Dean
United States
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What do you think of a game where 1 play, or even 2, 3, or more is not enough to understand the strategy and full complexities of the game? How often are you willing to play such a game before giving up on it? Or would you give up on figuring out such a complex or deep game?
 
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3. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:516]
Travis Dean
United States
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When a new game comes out, or even an old game but new to you, do you try to play it before you acquire it? How many plays typically tell you if the game is a keeper, or will have a short shelf-life in your collection?
 
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4. Board Game: Blue vs. Gray [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:3026]
Travis Dean
United States
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Which games in your collection have the fewest plays? Why are they so low? Any plans to increase their plays?
 
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5. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:334]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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This week I got a chance to try out Ginkgopolis again, and the play was with 2 players. I rather enjoyed it, though we used a variant--- the "Natural Topology" variant posted in the forums. Both C and I agreed we wouldn't like the random 6 or 7 cards being discarded from the deck every cycle(which is in the normal game-- the variant removes this), since we prefer games with more control.

Overall a very good experience, though.
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6. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:72]
Travis Dean
United States
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Shadows over Camelot
*Spyrium
Tigris & Euphrates
Trajan

*new to me

I was very proud of my Trajan play on BAJ against Mith and McJarvis. I managed to eek out a very close win at the end of the game, that I wasn't quite expecting. Recently, I've been focusing more on acquiring the bonus tiles for end-game points, and that got me about 25% of the points I had by game's end.

T&E was also a good experience. I hope to play it with some more regularity so I can start to figure out some sort of strategy in the game. That's part of what I like about it. It's not terribly difficult to figure out, but I feel I have a particularly more difficult time with it than other people do. So I like that it's more of a challenge for me. Early to mid-game, I knew I was far behind, with a total of 2 points. But in the late game, I was content with forestalling the game, because while I wasn't scoring points from temples, I was gaining a lot of tempo and really building up my score. I ended up tying for second with 7 points. First has 12 or 13. Fourth had 6 points.

And Spyrium was a good experience. I enjoyed the game and would play it again. I'm not sure how much lasting power it has if I continued to play it, though. So I'm not going to jump on picking up a copy. I might not be opposed to trading for a copy.
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7. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:49]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Airships 2
Northern Pacific 2
Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 2
Botswana 1
Dark Minions* 1
Dominant Species 1
Erie Railroad 1
Mercurius* 1
Prêt-à-Porter 1
Tournay* 1

Dominant Species gets the item entry because it continues to be a great game, even if our 4-player game (three of whom were new) took over three hours (and the entire Wednesday game night).

After sitting for a year and a half, Roll Through the Ages actually made it to the table again. Still an enjoyable game.

Northern Pacific got nickeled and continues to be a lovely, crunchy filler.

A games day with James proved to be great fun with three new games played!

Mercurius certainly feels like the big brother / beefier version of Hab & Gut. Good game, but I don't know if owning both games is redundant, so I'll have to wait and see.

Dark Minions was a cute dice rolling, area majority game. Far more entertaining than Smash Up in terms of a "add dudes on spaces to win the area". Not one I'd go buy, but I'd certainly play again.

Finally, Tournay was more enjoyable than Troyes and overall a good game. Another one I wouldn't run out and buy, but I'd play again. (Though, I did win so perhaps I want to remain undefeated. whistle)
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8. Board Game: Northern Pacific [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:4813]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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New Games

Little Devils x1
Dominion: Prosperity x1
The Great Dalmuti x1
Northern Pacific x2
Erie Railroad x1
Prêt-à-Porter x1

Old Games

Spyrium x1
Tournay x2
Skull x1
Hansa Teutonica (with Hansa Teutonica: East Expansion) x1
Mercurius x1
Dark Minions x1

Some good plays this week, thanks to Grace and her husband Matt moseying on over the bay for a great day of games!

Last Tuesday my in my regular gaming group I got a chance to try Little Devils, a nasty little trick taker in the vein of The Bottle Imp. The whole "second player decides whether ascending or descending takes the trick" thing was interesting (there aren't any suits in the deck), but I managed to do very well ducking as many as I could. While fun, it seems to be largely a game of not taking tricks, which feels a bit one-note. While we only had time to play a single hand, I felt like I got a good idea of how it played. Not bad, but I think I may prefer my trick-takers to be more meaty.

I also got a chance to play a game of Dominion with a couple of cards from Dominion: Prosperity, and it is very much a case of "here, have a whole lot more money!" Fun, but as I'm not really a Dominion fan, I wasn't super excited.

I was also pleasantly surprised by The Great Dalmuti, which I had shied away from initially because it seemed that it valued silly drinking-game antics and I wasn't interested in being forced to wear silly hats (not that mind, but there is such a thing as too much silly flapdoodle). Fortunately, there's a really solid climbing game underneath all the frat-boy flimflam, and luckily the group I played with was more interested in the game itself. I can see why this game is as popular as it is, as it combines some light strategic play with the sort of warm-social-mash of a classic card game. It was a pretty low bar to begin with, but that I came out of that play feeling good about it is a testament to how it exceeded my expectations.

Grace came by on Saturday bringing Winsome games, so I got a chance to play the new hotness. I was looking forward to Northern Pacific as a bit of thinky super-filler. While it certainly had a good chunk of tough decisions, with 3 it became fairly obvious what the final few moves of any given game would be. It packed a good punch for it's weight, but I'm wondering how easy it is to sink your chances in the game with a single poor choice. My only gripe is that that's a high level of vigilance for a 10 minute game, but then again I usually don't ask the world of fillers I like to play.

I regret to say that I've almost completely forgotten Erie Railroad as it was another super-condensed, pure auction game. Like Northern Pacific, it was highly concentrated and had a lot to think about, but it also seemed to be super punishing if you over-bid. I found myself in the unenviable position of having enough money to bid up items against the leading player, but not enough to soak up "accidental" buys of stock I had no interest in. If it weren't for the whiff of rich-get-richer that seemed to hang over the game, it could be a decent bit of auction filler. As it is, I'm still on the fence.

And finally, I got a chance to try Prêt-à-Porter, which I know is one of Jimmy's favorites. It certainly helped to be taught the game by people who knew the game well, I can't imagine trying to learn the game through the ugly, ugly rule book. It's not a bad little worker placement game, but it did feel a wee bit overwrought with all the bits and cards whizzing about as the game progressed. The mechanical underbelly is very solid for what it is, and choosing how to balance out the cards you take and the resources you buy makes for an interesting puzzle. The theme didn't really do much for me (we joked that it wouldn't take much to change it over into some sort of Space Merchants type game), but I can sort of see why it's gotten the under-rated status it currently holds. I won't ever ask for it myself, but I'll be happy to give it another go or two.
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9. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:136]
Matthew C
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My wife needed the car on Thursday, so I could not go to my usual game group then. However, my local store had an open trading/gaming day on Saturday, so I still got a game in.

This particular match took about 3 hours to complete, because we were playing in a game store and introducing it to two new players.
I had brought my copy of GT to play, but ended up using someone else's Anniversary Edition. I never realized just how big that box is. Wow.

We had 5 players, which is an awkward number to play as a first game for people, because there are special exceptions you have to use. Also, you can't use just the base game for Flight 3, since there won't be enough pieces. I suggested we play the base modules for the first flight, and slowly introduce some of the other components (mainly the additional lasers and cargo pieces, rather than the 'fancy' things like solar arrays and routers).

Each leg of the race took about an hour, after explanation and building. By the third leg, I felt like people actually had a feel for the game, which was nice to see. However, both new players ended up Giving Up on that leg, so what do I know? In terms of final score I came in a resounding first place (more than doubling anyone else's score); good times were had.

I'm hoping that if I keep bringing Galaxy Trucker with me, then people will become more familiar and it will run faster. It ran particularly slow this time because the person running the game did not enforce any sort of timer. Ouch.
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10. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:286]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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3x Roads & Boats
1x 18NEB
1x Inca Empire
1x Dungeon Twister
1x Innovation

A good week of gaming, although a lot of it was solo. I played R&B three times (sort of) and all of them were solo games. Amanda doesn't want to play it with me until I stopped being so stressed out by the game. Seeing as how last night, I kept saying, "God. I suck at this", I don't think she will be changing her mind any time soon. I played the A River Runs Through It scenario on three separate occasions (and multiple times last night) and have only managed to mint two coins (the high score has minted two coins and produced a piece of stock). I love this game for the puzzle it creates. I do think that while R&B can be played competitively (with stealing of goods and building of roads), in general it is a multi-player solo/coop sort of game and therefore plays very well as a solo. Hopefully I will eventually figure out how to play it better.

18Neb was an interesting game. The game starts where the only cities on the map are the company starting locations and everything else is a town. However towns can grow up into cities (first one hole and then two hole) which makes for some interesting decisions as to when to break the 3s, what par price to start companies at, etc. Companies are able to lay two tracks (and the Credit Mobilier private encourages it) so the board fills up quickly. Also, it uses the Lawson tiles, so blocking people is difficult. We played a 2-player and one major didn't start, so the game felt pretty open. I enjoyed it and think it probably has a few more plays in it, but I suspect it won't have long term appeal.

Inca Empire was not at all what I expected. I had heard several times that it was a train game so that was what I was expecting. It is not in any way a train game. There is route building but, with the wilderness track, even that is not nearly as tight as AoS/Steam. It is an exercise in synergistically mooching off of other players while simultaneously managing Power Grid turn-order mechanic made even stronger. I enjoyed it and would play it again, but suspect that it isn't a game I need to keep in my collection.

Lastly, Dungeon Twister was a neat surprise. It had been explained to me as Chess meets Dungeon Crawl, but I was not prepared for how true that statement was. After one play, I definitely feel that it is a game that needs repeated plays to figure out. Initial placement is critical and a bad placement can probably knock you out of the game before it even gets really started. Unfortunately, with the base game, you have no idea what tiles you're placing your tokens on so that adds in some uncontrollable randomness. I'd like to play it again but don't know if it will be picked over other 2-player games that fit into the same time frame/weight (1.5 hours and fairly meaty).
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11. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:220]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Games played
Love Letter x 5(?)
Hanabi x 2
Euchre
Muggins
Hansa Teutonica
Suburbia

Concerts attended
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Plenty of games played this week with family, and got to see a few friends this weekend as well. Played several games of Love Letter with family, and got in some Hanabi, Euchre, and Muggins as well. I met up with two friends on Sunday and played Hansa Teutonica (where I got excessive actions early, thought I had rolled over both of them, only to barely win a close one), and Suburbia (which was a two point finish between the two other players, with me 20 points behind). All good games!

And Five Iron Frenzy was awesome. They are a ska band that disbanded about 9 or 10 years ago (I saw them on their "Winners Never Quit" Farewell Tour), and last year did a Kickstarter to put out a new album. They've done a couple of shows since, including one in Houston this past Saturday that was great. You may now commence discussing how terrible Kickstarter is for music and how it's ruining songs for everyone.
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12. Board Game: Arctic Scavengers [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:998]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 10  Android:Netrunner x4
 8  Ginkgopolis x7
 8  Tournay x1
 7  Arctic Scavengers x2
 7  The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet x2

Ginkgopolis. This game is growing on me. After some solo plays against HAL, i manage to play it FTF (2 players). We plan to play it again this Friday evening.


Tournay. This was a 3 players game and i won (37-35-29) mainly with a military strategy (4 Rampart, Knight + 3 Prestige buildings with Tour Henry VIII)


Arctic Scavengers. Cool deckbuilding game, way more thematic and fun than Dominion. Wait to increase (or not) my rating because :
- i played 2x2 players game and this is a fight for the constested cards. With more players, you can give up for a turn and focus on something else.
- i found the game scripted : Dig and Discard useless cards at the beginning then Hunt(Recruit).

The building variant is pretty good thought and the artwork awesome.

Looking in the future :
- Friday evening : Ginkgopolis, Spyrium (or Assyria)
- Week-end : Ginkgopolis with wife ? Seeland with children ? Spyrium online ? (if someone is interested here...)
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