GCL Swedish Meatball Division: The empty table
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Welcome to this week's HQ of the GCL's Swedish Meatball division.
Visitors are welcome to comment (keep it civil, though, because our wrath is fearsome to behold), but should not add items.
Fellow Meatballs, please add the traditional item with your weekly games played. If you have played no games this week, please add a lamentation.

Rotation:
johnbandettini (up next)
ldsdbomber
Osirus
jythier
cymric
fateswanderer
rarevos
qwertymartin
Sorp222
lacxox
aaarg_ink
Jugular
bnordeng
NateStraight
ellephai

The empty chair is a common metaphor for an absent person; for an absent game, it seems fitting to think of an empty table. This week’s list is about the presence of absence, the negative space in your gaming life. At the end of the list we’ll report as we always do on the games we’ve been playing lately. But first, let’s consider the games we’re not playing.
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1. Board Game: Mhing [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2588]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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If you have a top 10 list, how long has it been since you've played each of the games in your top 10? (Most of us do--for the few who don't, you might answer based on whatever you think of currently as your favorite games, if you have such a thing.)

What's the game from your top 10 that you haven't played in the longest time? Why not?
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:17]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Are there games you like that you don't get to play because your regular gaming partners don't like them?

What are they? Do you ever get to play them? Do you manage to get them into your life somehow, or have you given up in despair? Why don't your regular gaming companions like these games, and do you ever try to change their minds?
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3. Board Game: Queries 'n Theories [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Are there games you have never played that you really want to try, but have never gotten a chance to?

If you could get to play any one game that you've never played, what would you choose? What made you interested in this game, or made you think you'd like it? Do you think you will ever play it? Why haven't you so far?
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4. Board Game: De Vulgari Eloquentia [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:786]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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What about games you have played that you really want to play again but don't get to?

What are they? What prevents you from getting them to the table?
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5. Board Game: Der Prestel Schlossgarten [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:11980]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Are there unplayed games in your collection?

How many games do you own that you haven't played? How long have you owned them without getting to play them? What's holding you back? Do you have games you fear you'll never play?
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6. Board Game: Forlorn Hope [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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If there are games you're not playing but wish you were, do you have a plan to change that? Where do your hopes lie?
 
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7. Board Game: Gang of Four [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1513]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Shockingly little gaming this week. This is one reason the Monday group is so great; it ensures there's (almost) always a little gaming in my life. It was my turn to choose this week, and I'd been thinking about bringing my newly-acquired copy of Belfort, but after playing on the weekend I decided it might take too long. I'm reserving that one for some Monday when we're down to 3p.

Instead I brought Gang of Four. I have a whole group of games that have trouble getting played because they require exactly 4p, and Gang of Four is the queen of this unfortunate category. I love this game, but it had been almost 2 years. We played twice, and a good time was had by all. My edition of Gang of Four has a little bound scorepad, and since I got it I've been keeping and dating the scores, so we had some fun looking back at past games with this group.
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8. Board Game: Santiago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:523]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
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Tuesday: I was invited to the house of one of the gamers from last week's meetup. Turned out there were 8 of us, a nice number.

Unnamed Object - played it too safe and got destroyed by the players who stayed in on their own for a round and got away with a huge haul.

Santiago - a close game and but for a slight mistake at the end I might have won instead of coming second.

TimeLine - a bit of a damp squib of an ending when the winning player's last card was 'formation of the Earth'.

Saturday: at home

Cribbage - a nailbiting one-point win for me.

EDIT

Sunday: there were a couple of different gaming events going on in Bristol. Neither turned out to be particularly exciting.

Guillotine - this is on my Trip Through Time list so it was good to get it ticked off. I can't see myself being terribly keen to play it again though.

The Resistance: Avalon - I wish someone could show me how to like this game, because it ought to be the kind of thing I go for. I was the Assassin. The good guys passed three missions in a row and then I correctly guessed who Merlin was. Woohoo.

Pit - not the worst way to pass the time.

Unnamed Object - the most brutal game of this I have ever seen! No mission lasted more than about 4 cards. Final scores 8-8-6-6-0.

The next game on the table was Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. I made my excuses.
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9. Board Game: Connect Four [Average Rating:4.84 Overall Rank:15318]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Well not really, cause it was with my 5 year old niece but still its the only game I played this week as we were traveling around Southern California on vacation.

It was fun. We put the tokens down the frame, and then we opened up the frame and let all the pieces fall out. Rinse Later Repeat.
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10. Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:496] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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Ascension x2 (one 2p, one vs AI)
Innovation (2p)
Urbion
Patience


That is correct: my representative item for the week is Ascension. It was free this week on iOS, my brother got it, enjoyed it, bought the physical copy, emailed me to tell me, then I picked it up for free on the ol' iPad. I played a couple times this week vs the AI, and once vs. my brother in person on Friday. I'm sure there's an essay in comparing it to Dominion. However, I don't feel like writing that essay. It's a tactical card game in which it is not possible to plan too far ahead, in sharp contrast to Dominion. I'll play either if asked; I prefer neither.

I then taught my brother Innovation. I beat him on Achievements 6-0, and he said he enjoyed it except for the part where I kicked his a**. The more Innovation opponents the better, and I've now taught the game twice in two weeks, which is promising.

Rounding out the week were solo lunch games. I had a very busy two week stretch at work, which is letting up now.
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11. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 3 – The Heart of Africa [Average Rating:7.49 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.49 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.49 Unranked]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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I have my busiest weeks and my wife is attending an afternoon school to get a driver's licence so my almost-NoNeGaMo continued this week.

The most "grown-up" games I played were Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries with my mother and my fifth play of Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 3 – The Heart of Africa with my wife. During Nordic my children were having their supper so I spent more time serving them than playing the game (so I lost). And during the first half of our night play of Africa my wife kept complaining and saying she doesn't know when can I talk her into playing this one again - yes, this game is cruel but what's more important, it needs to be played differently than the others. Go for wild cards, go for doubling the value of the routes and try to take tickets that use different landscape areas, I think these are the keys to playing Africa. Next time I'm going to remind her about these before play.

Besides these, I only played with the kids, My First Carcassonne 4x (my son just loves it), Der kleine Sprechdachs 1x (my daughter is already getting good in playing this one while my son tells 5-minute stories, it's just hard to stop him), Solo 1x. Also two plays of Callisto: The Game with my son - obviously he can't win right now but he is really ready to learn as much as he can. He's a great student!


... well, and as I really miss playing and learning new games, I have played two of my never-before-played Hans im Glück games "2-player" against myself. The Hanging Gardens feels really fine, better than expected reading the rules, a quite Knizian game actually, while Masons is a typical Leo Colovini made more fun by the publisher; I've yet to play it multiplayer to feel if it's fun enough or not.
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12. Board Game: Alchemicus [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:11875]
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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I played this with my sons and had a bad time. I think the design is flawed in that there is a very player interactive blocking mechanism that makes the game just drag on. Basically you can stop buildings from working and that means someone's hard-built engine stops working. That's contrary to what I tend to see and like in games, and just as you feel you're getting close to the win, everything grinds to a halt. Just like Munchkin or Cosmic Encounter. Maybe it would just be faster overall with adults.

I also played Eclipse with my oldest son, who I beat very handily because it was his first game. 34-21. It wasn't a bad showing by him, he was mostly learning the game. Next time he'll have more tricks up his sleeve.
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13. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:156] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Hadn't played this with constructed decks in a while. But a local friend just built decks he wanted to try, and I'd still never taken apart my old ones, so we played a few 3p free for alls, and a few 2p games, all with constructed decks.

The first thing I'll say is, wow, power creep is pretty serious. I started playing during revised, when 3 mana got you a 2/2 creature with no abilities. Nowadays, 2 mana gets you a 2/2 creature with a good ability. Six mana, which formerly got you a big creature with no special ability, now gets you a ridiculous creature with a game-winning ability. And the 8/8 trample green creature for 6 used to require 4 mana upkeep plus more drawbacks... now there's just an 8/8 trample for 6 that takes fewer colored mana to cast, and can't be countered.

The second thing I'll say is, given all this, I was pleased that my old decks performed as well as they did. Granted, they weren't revised-era, but also augmented with urza/invasion-era. But still.
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14. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:197]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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.NA. Bruges - 4 Players
_9_ The Princes of Florence - 2 Players
_8_ Indonesia - 4 Players
_8_ Dominion - 2 Players
_7_ Cleopatra and the Society of Architects - 4 Players
_7_ Can't Stop - 4 Players
_6_ Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! - 3 Players


No games until Thursday and then a bunch of games in 3 days and some good ones.

(1) Bruges - I'm losing faith in Feld. This game, like so many of his (especially his recent games), is just so many little pieces with little effects being pieced together so I can inch along to a whole lotta nothin'. One of these was okay, but now that he's made so many, it's just dull. Notre Dame and Macao are still top games in my opinion, but not the new stuff.

(2) Princes of Florence - I still rate this game a 9 with five players. We played it with two players and with that number of players it deserves more like a 6 rating. We like it okay with two, but there is just not the same tension.

(3) Indonesia - This is clearly a super game and I'd like to put it back to a 9 rating, but I fail so miserably every time I play it that I can't rate it higher than 8. I do want to play it again and soon so I can use what I learned. It's always many months before I play again. I thought a made good decisions early and then was just terrible after the first third of the game. I love the way it unfolds though, even if I'm not too involved.

(4) Cleopatra and the Society of Architects - For a light game, this one has a place in my collection. I've enjoyed this game every time I've played it. It is not great, but enjoyable and tense enough since you can't reasonably track where everyone is with their corruption and points. This play came down to the last turn and was very close between all of us.
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15. Board Game: Dead Men Tell No Tales [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:880]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Quote:
please add a lamentation


ululululululululululululululululululululululululu
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16. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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RANDOM QUESTION

I was going through my bgg collections and rating and I realized that there is a category of games that are "thrilling" but in large part because you spend a good chunk of the game hoping your opponents don't do something that blocks you out.

I think its similar with Acquire -- hoping people don't buy your stocks or people don't make mergers that you're afraid of happening...

Maybe that's why I don't like Worker Placement games?

Its kind of a weird passive aggressive confrontational sort of thing. It kind of crystalized when I was re-rating Settlers and realized that even though I get the flutters in the tummy, I don't really love these game.

I don't mind confrontation per se, but just this type of confrontation which is still nascent and not well defined in my head. I'm going to try to think of other examples....but I thought I'd throw this out there and see if anyone else has some thoughts on this. Cheers!
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17. Board Game: Wildcatters [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:1660]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Apologies for the deletion of my earlier contribution: apparently the Search dropdown box is borked for editing existing GL-entries, and the only way to make it work is to simply add a new entry.

Wildcatters (4P) — A pleasant surprise to be able to play a game which is scheduled to be released at Spiel 2013 prior to that release... although it has to be said that the authors appear to be on a tour of sorts across the Netherlands to play the game with all kinds of people and player groups, so my preview wasn't that exclusive.

Wildcatters is, very unusual for this day and age, a pick-up-and-move game where in various regions of the world drilling towers are erected which get turned into pumpjacks; the oil these devices pump up is transported using trains and ships to refineries where it eventually gets turned into production majorities and 'shares'. The shares are not shares in the traditional sense of the word as nothing you'd usually associate with them is present in the game: no companies are floated, you cannot sell shares, you do not get dividend. Instead they are a weird certificate of sorts which can be obtained or spent, and function like a kind-of money. The idea is that developing oil fields is too risky and expensive to be done on your own and so requires others to tag along; and that tagging along is maintained throughout the entire journey to a refinery. Once the maximum capacity of a refinery has been reached, it is automatically emptied: the barrels get stored on a special area on the board, and depending on who put his oil barrels on the refinery the ower of this industry gets shares. Later on in the game the majority of barrels in the special area is established, which gets the players involved points. The problem is, however, that the kind-of money-like function of shares sees your own stock of them depleting rapidly, which is something you do not want. SO you want others to use your refinery... but then your barrels do not end up in the special area so you wouldn't get the majority points. Choices, choices... There are more points for majorities handed out: most money, most shares of any player's colour, and the already mentioned majorities in the special areas.

The above is a mangled summary, so if you want to know more, please ask. What struck me first and foremost is that this game is not a run-of-the-mill design featuring worker placement, deck building, fantasy, dice rolling, miniatures, or something equally 'modern'. The pick-up-and-move idea is on its own rare, and that you actually need other players to succeed even more so (although you can of course attempt to strike out on your own, at a cost). I daresay it even reminded me of some Splotter games, but then with, I think, a more limited scope (because it is all oil -> transport -> refinery). And it all seemed to work rather well, too. That said, I wasn't too fond of the continued share payments: A non-neglegible amount of points is introduced into the game (20 to 25%) by having majorities in the shares, yet keeping track of them is at some point a lost cause even though their amount is in theory always perfectly trackable. Another nit, in the final analysis less important I think, was the fact that you had to pick from a row of 8 continously replenished cards in which area you were going to take actions. If you specialise, the game bites your ass because the area cards you need will not turn up as often as you'd want. If you fan out, you cannot make a few strong and easy to understand deliveries. Neither alternative feels very pleasant. But then again perhaps that wasn't the intent.

If you want to play something different this Spiel, you should take a closer look at this game. It's definitely a gamer's game, and from the looks of things it definitely supports multiple plays. In total rather a nice surprise as I had never heard of the two designers.

Tournay (3P) — A game which hadn't been played enough since I purchased it during Spiel 2012. As with all Pearl Games boxes to date, it is crammed chockful of little mechanisms, although it has to be said that this time I played it (3rd or 4th occasion) it all became a bit easier to grok. It is a rather tactical game, though, because there is no way to plan your own little city district given how the cards enter the game. But at least you are left with a feeling of control over where you put down whatever came your way; and you can always use the meeples of another player, which helps in some ways too. Although I doubt Tournay will ever become a favourite, I think I like it better than Troyes which takes place in the same 'universe': the cards may be full with little rules, at least you know that once you understand a card, you're already nearly there rule-wise. There are no complex other currencies to keep track of or exchange: you pay with money or you don't.

I won this game, but later I realised we made a mistake because we didn't deactive buildings which had been used by another player. Consequently it became rather tempting to do combos from some point onward, and although these helped to speed up the affair, they did amount to unlawful behaviour meeple. Next time we play we'll use the correct rules.

Funfair (3P) — 9 party games rolled into one. That sounds as much fun as it looks, trust me. A blind Spiel purchase from my gaming partner, and one which will go onto the trade pile.
 
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18. Board Game: About Nothing [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Andrew
United States
San Francisco
California
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Nothing this week.

I guess it's an empty table
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19. Board Game: Firenze [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:746]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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That one not so much
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Late and brief but at least I got it done this week.

22nd Sept at LoB

Got to play a couple of older games I bought at a very good price recently.

First off Elfenland, the 1998 SDJ winner. It was OK, I won so maybe I should say it was great

Then Firenze. I have been wanting to play this for ages as it looked like my kind of game. It was anyone want to play on Yucata?

Finish with Parade, and Karl piped me by a point. I'm sure he has done that before.

23rd Sept back at LoB

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set. Played the first two scenarios before one of our bold adventurers quite. (It was Jakob, who wanted to go and see what Lloyd was up to)

Finished the evening Guildhall, another game I really enjoy and a lot of my gaming buddies don't. What is the matter with them, as it's obviously not me.

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