GCL Meatball Division #121 - This list is bought to you by various BGG Users
John Bandettini
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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:

ldsdbomber (Up next, maybe)
Osirus (Or could be Seth)
jythier
cymric
fateswanderer
rarevos
qwertymartin
Sorp222
lacxox
aaarg_ink
Jugular
bnordeng
NateStraight
ellephai
johnbandettini

I made a Geek List a couple of weeks ago that I called Geek Listers Block. In it I lamented that I had hit a dry spell for creating Geek Lists and could other users help me out with ideas?

I have done this sort of thing before, got other users to suggest topics and then try to do something with them. It can be a lot of fun.

I have not got around to doing any of the ideas yet, but I will. I thought I would try them out on you lot before unleashing on the general public.

So here we go for a real mixed bag.
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1. Board Game: Food Fight [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:4446]
John Bandettini
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London
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Food Related Games

A nice easy one to start, list a food related game.
 
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2. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:728] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
John Bandettini
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London
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Animal Related Games.

Another easy one, a game with animals.
 
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3. Board Game: What's That on My Head? [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:9853]
John Bandettini
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2 player games where the winner has to stand on his/her head for 2 minutes

Bit more of a challenge this one.
 
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4. Board Game: French Foreign Legion [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:6076]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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French military victory related games

Really tough one this one.
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5. Board Game Designer: Tom Vasel
John Bandettini
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Games Tom Vasel Should Never, Ever Component Drop

Be interesting to see what gets listed for this. I am thinking this is the first one I will actually do.
 
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6. Board Game: Iron Chef Board Game: The Ultimate Cooking Challenge [Average Rating:4.75 Unranked]
John Bandettini
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How about guessing what a food is by a list of games as the ingredients?

Could be a pretty hard one.
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7. Board Game: Survivor [Average Rating:4.06 Overall Rank:15180]
John Bandettini
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London
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A list of BAD games (is there any other kind?) based on reality TV shows

So a bad game based on a bad idea, sounds like a winner.
 
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8. Board Game: Time Travel [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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Time Travel related games!

I think this one is a lot easier than the OP thought.
 
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9. Board Game: Smooth & Rifled [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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Games that would feel good on your tongue?

You can probably guess one of the replies this got. (Hint, it appears on nearly every Geek List ever)
 
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10. Board Game: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [Average Rating:3.53 Unranked]
John Bandettini
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Games made better with chocolate. (or is that all of them?)

Sweet answers only.
 
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11. Board Game: King Me! The Toilet [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
John Bandettini
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Games So Bad You Wouldn't Even Wipe Your Arse With Them?

As a bonus for this one, which well known (To me anyway) board game designer suggested this one?
 
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12. Board Game: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die [Average Rating:2.80 Overall Rank:14926]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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A geeklist about the most beautiful places we geeks have seen..!


Another one that I will be doing myself.
 
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13. Board Game: Stacrobats [Average Rating:5.32 Overall Rank:13853]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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Games with TOO many pieces!

I like this one too, on the list to do.
 
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14. Board Game: Travel Blog [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3705]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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The strangest places you have played games.

I'm sure this one has been done, probably more than once.
 
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15. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:697]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_8_ Merchant of Venus - 4 Players
_7_ Ingenious - 2 Players
_7_ Cardline: Animals - 3 Players
_6_ Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! - 2 Players (x2)


Another slow week for me, though I did get to play Merchant of Venus which was a highlight.

(1) Merchant of Venus - This has to be the greatest pick up and deliver game ever made. It's certainly better than any other I've played. I felt like luck was not on my side this time early on (and I probably some bad early choices). This led to a game where I couldn't quite recover. One player ended up with 5 or 6 relics on his ship, including a yellow drive and several telegate/pilot # related relics. He won in a close finish with another player who developed a nice route where he didn't even pick up a shield for the whole game. This is one of those games I would certainly move to an 8.5 if I was rating with decimals... it's just don't think it's quite good enough to make it a 9 for me.

(2) Ingenious - My wife and I had not played this for a while. It's a quality abstract game and I took the day when I locked her out of orange relatively late in the game.
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16. Board Game: Sticheln [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:808]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Just one games night, on Thursday with my new regulars.

Black Spy - I was interested in trying this Alan Moon trick-taker, but it turned out to be just a minor variant of Hearts.

Cockroach Poker - first time I've played the non-royal version. It's still great but I did miss the extra tension of the penalty pile.

The Palaces of Carrara - I thought I'd played a good game and was first to hit the endgame objectives again. But I'd neglected the importance of the bonus scoring card - although I was ahead in every other area, I got hammered there and it was enough to put me 2nd. Still finding this game very intriguing!

Sticheln - wow, this is brilliant with 3! I had a very poor first round but then remembered how to play and came back strongly for a joint 1st place.
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17. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:483]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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At last my almost-NoNeGaMo ended this week (although next week is going to be more like my previous weeks).

Wednesday, gaming club:
Spyrium x2
The two Ystari releases are in the top 10 list of games I want to try from the Essen 2013 crop and this one was not a letdown. Caylus designer William Attia’s game is definitely not a grand scale game like Caylus; I’d compare it more to Ystari’s Mykerinos (another game where you are collecting cards with an innovative mechanism of placing your markers at the cards in a few subsequent turns). The game is tactical and strategic at the same time (like Mykerinos) – you can’t plan for the next round’s randomized distribution of cards (although you can know which cards are going to be present in the last round).
The mechanism is a kind of worker placement but not really: in each round players place their figures between cards (that are laid out in a 3x3 grid) one by one until you decide it’s time to take them back and/or use your own buildings. When you take your workers back (one at a time) you can use the card it is next to (if it’s a character) or buy the card (buildings, other cards for special abilities) or take money. You take as much money as the number of workers left next to a card you were next to; you pay for the cards you take as much as the number of workers left next to this card (plus the printed price of the card). The rest built around this idea is not that special; there are a few added options and also you are building your personal display just like in many other games of the past few years (even the three piles of cards marked A, B, C work just like those – cards in pile A can provide you easy conversions and some simple benefits, cards in pile B do the same but are significantly stronger, cards in pile C are mostly for collecting victory points).
I liked the game – it’s not a great game but doesn’t even aspire to be; it’s simply a very good game that is not too complex (but not for beginners either) and has many interesting considerations for your decisions – like timing (when to start taking your workers back; when to take money and when to take cards; when to take the special action available for everyone once in the round, just to wait to make a card cheaper etc.) and worker management (keeping some of them active – not using them at cards – so you can use your workers on your own buildings). I also like that it works fine with 4 but still rather good with 2 (of course there is a bit less competition for the cards, but on the other hand it’s a lot harder to get any money so you still end up around the same card with your workers). The game is not very thematic but that has never been a problem for me; what can be a bit of a problem is that it can get longer than it should if you play with AP-prone players. Otherwise, still I think it’s the best 2013 game I have played until now (I’m at 13 games right now; it hasn’t been a strong crop).

I have also played Mr. Jack Pocket 1x – between two games of Spyrium. It was an easy win.


In the weekend I played the Hans im Glück games I played against myself the week before.
On Saturday I played Masons with my sister and mother (visited them with the kids). They both enjoyed it, although it was a bit too complex for them in the beginning which gave me a bit of an early lead (even though my sister kept drawing lots of new cards as she was always a few points behind my mom) so I won in the end. It’s a tricky little game by Colovini; it’s more strategic than it seems and even though they are not that obvious for non-gamers, there are quite a lot of subtle things to consider when you make your decisions.

On Sunday I played The Hanging Gardens with Saci (she won). We both liked it – while it’s another old-fashioned Eurogame where you collect tiles with a special mechanism in order to have various set collection scorings in the end, the way you build your gardens is rather special (I haven’t really seen it before). And it has a nice dynamic throughout the game, a kind of story arc if you will: the first few cards are just about setting up the area, while in the last few rounds you keep scoring with practically each card (having more control on the events). It’s a keeper.

Also, 4 plays of The Kids of Carcassonne with the kids; my son just can’t get enough of this. This game is already my 9th most played game (well, only based on the number of times played – a 2-player game of it lasts 8 minutes while a 3- or 4-player game lasts maybe 15 because of my daughter who finds it a bit hard to focus on playing).
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18. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:362]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Finally got to try Chicago Express, at the inaugural monthly public game night that a friend of mine is trying to start up at the local cafe. I was...unimpressed. I know it's a favorite of some folks like rarevos, but to me it seemed like a less interesting (but admittedly streamlined) version of Goldbrau. Yes, none of us had ever played the game before so naturally some of the bidding was probably off, but I just didn't find the game terribly interesting. It seemed like in our 4p game, the one player who didn't get a share of Red just suffered from that, and there were too few choices of what to invest in. And lest you think my negative glean is sour grapes, I'll mention that I took first place by quite a large margin.

At the same game night, also played Innovation, which remains fun.

That evening, I fell ill, and have spent the weekend slowly recouperating. Almost recovered now; the joys of plague season.
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19. Board Game: Zendo [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:706]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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So I spent last week away at a family gathering. The women of my family used to gather every fall for a gaming weekend; in more recent years, the scene has shifted to Hilton Head island, which means we divide our time between the ocean and playing games. Yes, it's been a good week.

Blitz
Double solitaire*
Gang of Four
Hanabi x2
Ingenious x2
Mexican Train
Mhing**
Parade
Pastiche
P.I.
Zendo x4

*This is the annual game with my sister-in-law; it runs throughout each calendar year and we play some hands every time we meet. It used to end on New Year's Eve, but unfortunately we now live too far away to get together for New Year's Eve, so it has no formal end; whatever the score was the last time we see each other, that's the final score. She had more than a hundred-point lead coming into this week, and although I tried, she just widened her lead. I'm pretty sure this will be another year where she annihilates me (this is by far the most common outcome), especially since we're not slated to meet again.

**Referring back to my list a couple weeks ago, we did play this as I predicted we would, and that puts my top 10 list in really great shape, with the longest-ago play being Russian Rails last May. Since the other biggest crayon rails fan in my life will be gaming at my house next weekend (and it's her birthday, so she'll be calling the shots), there's a good chance we'll be updating this one too.
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20. Board Game: Entdecker [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1996]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Just two games.

Entdecker (the mark johnson variant). As a 3P game it was actually kind of heavy even with all the luck in it. I made a couple mistakes and lost to my wife by a couple points. At this point I'm going to try the original rules and see if I like it. I think I would rate it a 5 or 6 still. Its not bad, and a big bonus is that my wife doesn't really like auction games nor games with lots of writing on it...which unfortunately cuts out a lot of my favorites.

Speaking of lots of words, also a game of Pax. It went well, but there is a concern about how the game can be thrown by whenever the topple card comes out. However I can't complain too much, I had a chance to kill some opposing troops and didn't do it and I was the 2nd most experienced player at the table. Oh well.
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21. Board Game: IGOR: The Mad Scientist's Lament [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:11209]
Andrew
United States
San Francisco
California
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Lamentations!!

Well I got an iPad as a present so I played Puerto Rico, Magic: The Gathering, and lots of Kingdom Builder.

The interface to PR nudges me towards careless play; I'm very curious about MtG but the design shows its age and leads to some very annoying UI results (timers for interrupts, having a main phase before and after combat, not sure when I should boost creatures with mana, having to select blockers).

I love KB but the AI plays annoyingly slow and there doesn't seem to be a way to speed up the animation. I've also had the game flip to German and crash once.
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22. Board Game: Power Struggle [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:870]
 
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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I'll update the entry with a few more games as the week goes on.

Kingdom Builder (4P) — Rematch! With the proper rules this time. I'm happy to report that contrary to my expectations in the end the effect of our inadverted mistake didn't appear to be all that great, probably due to the fact that sound placement strategy is to simply try to border as many region types as possible which is what happened in the 'wrong' game too. Players were more confined to their chosen starting area, though: it's difficult to get out from there if you're not paying attention.

So, what do I think of the game? I think it is quite a clever and polished design which achieves quite a bit with a minimum of rules. It makes for a good family game without doubt. So in that the author earns my respect. Unfortunately I thought it all a bit lacking pizzazz. You must reach as many region types as possible so you don't get stuck in the later game, and the boundary conditions set out by the trio of cards, while creating diversity, are really just boundary conditions which pull a fairly simple choice of hut placement in slightly different directions. That's not a lot to go on for a spoilt gamer like me. I have decided to not request KB in the future, but if someone wants to play, I'll join in without fuss. Then again if the expansions add in Good Stuff™ I might reconsider. Resident KB experts...?

Las Vegas (5P) — Friendly and inoffensive GCD game to break gaming ice. I seem to do quite well at it, almost always finishing first or second. I do not own a copy, but many of my gaming friends do, so I get to play it almost as often as I want or care.

Power Struggle (5P) — Part of a Get Everything Played Which Was Purchased At Spiel 2012-rush. I'm not particularly fond of office politics and do not like to be reminded of them in games: a very, very rare exception to me mostly ignoring subject matter. But after a while I found I could ignore my distaste and focus on the game. It is, as far as I could tell, a faithful rendition of the game of musical chairs in a large coorporation. Most of the action takes place in the shape of a crude majorities game in which majorities are built up according to a few rules, and taken down according to a few others. It is not a case of direct influence placement, players must do more to accomplish their goals here. And because some have ulterior motives you may end up fighting each other even though you're not fighting for the same thing.

It has to be said that I got one rule about corruption wrong, which soured me on this particular aspect of the game, and led to a bit of a grating feel. I ruled that you only got points for this aspect if an offer to bribe succeeded, but as it turns out making an attempt already counts. That would have caused me to bribe the hell out of everyone save my mortal enemy using spare pocket change, for there was no opportunity for me to keep up in the money stream others were amassing and lose out in related point tracks. But even given that improvement I expect to have a noticable effect, I found Power Struggle boring at the end. It's too much going through a few motions to obtain a point here and then here, which is then repeated for as long as it takes. Players don't really change or specialise; and if they do the special abilities of every division are gone before they know it. This renders the game more tactical than I deem proper for its length. The owner proclaimed he liked it so I think another game of Power Struggle is on the agenda somewhere, but at least I hope it's later rather than sooner.

Santiago (5P) — A delicious desert of a game with lots of good-natured screwage and spoilt crops. Evergreen title which always is a joy to play... and not because I won.



Merkator (2P) — Tough game because very early on I bought a building for a godawful amount of money which tied down my contracts (as every contract fulfillment using goods listed on that building card would cost rather a lot of points). Still in the end it proved sufficient to win the game, although my partner made a convincing comeback by getting the Peace of Westfalia-card onto her kontor.



Keyflower (3P) — Typical 'hasty' or 'frantical' growth and conversion engine game with tons of possibilities and far too little time to make a meaningful selection: in the same spirit as Homesteaders, Factory Manager, even in some (distant) fashion Lancaster and World Without End. Pick what seems worthwhile, incorporate whatever useful items come your way, runrunrun never to stop asking yourself why, and be done before the game has begun. Not my type of game, and thus without doubt a public's favourite who confuse depth with having tons of options.

Nice aspects? There is a shadow of a memory of goods transportation which tends to complicate matters; and the use of multiple colours of meeple can really bite. It can also lock down someone's own village quite brutally, which in this sort of hasty-frantic game is not something I would enjoy happening to me. (It didn't stop me from really tightening the thumbscrews on my partner, though... and she still won by 5 points, the *****.)
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23. 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: Chronicle of the Godslayer x10
Boggle x3 (2p)
Friday x3
Six x3
Andantino x2
Finca (2p)
Innovation (2p)
Qwirkle (2p)
Slide 5 (2p)


I might have an Ascension problem.

Light week, overall, with the highlight (yet again) being a game of Innovation in which I spammed Metalworking, grabbed the first Achievement, then never really got anything going that allowed me to either score my own cards or steal from my opponent. He eventually spammed Pirate's Code and then Chemistry, and despite the fact he was sharing Chemistry with me and I was upgrading cards and scoring cards, he was able to 1-2 score-Achieve one step ahead of me and he won 6-1. The game continues to open up and unfold.

I lost all three games of Six, and won both games of Andantino. Since they are very closely related, I'm not sure what that means, exactly.

I played with my wife three nights in a row: first night Finca (I lost 77-71), second night Qwirkle (I lost 242-225), and third night Boggle, in which my own highlights were "spelt," "mooned," "spites," and "woven." The Finca game was quite good, as I played around a bit with blocking what she needed, and she responded by selling to the very tiles I was collecting for.

And George recommended Slide 5 as a 2p game a while back, and I think it's pretty safe to say that I really like it at 2p. There's a terrific bluffing component to the game that comes from guessing and double-guessing what your opponent is going to do, which is only possible when you know precisely what cards your opponent has. It's very light when played multiplayer, but quite tactical when played 2p; I agree with George completely, and highly recommend it with two.

And the last item of note is that I have been rebuilding my closet shelves over the last few weekends, and yesterday I finished. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the amount of storage space for games that I was going to have, and I now have an entire shelf that has nothing on it, even after moving my games into the closet. This is Very Bad, because I already used that as an excuse to buy both Steel Driver and Tinner's Trail. This isn't going to end well.
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24. Board Game: String Safari [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:7587]
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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I finally go to play one of my Tokyo purchases. Its cute, nice art and easy game play. I prefer String Railway but this is better with younger gamers.
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Space Cadets I love the idea of the game and want to love it - however despite each mini system being quite simple the whole is quite complex. Which made my one play drag. I had imagined that the timer would impose a fast paced game but it did not feel like it. Also I think it might work best if gamers play into the roles - treat it like the bridge of the Enterprise. It might work even better with out decision by committee- I.e a stern authoritarian Captain.

FaunaMy 16th play this year and works every time with non-gamers

Pathfinder RulelordsFinished off the first adventure. My only criticism is that the difficulty might depend on the characters chosen - my cleric might have made the campaign a little too easy.

Navegador. I don't get to play 2 hour Euros very often. I played this to death in 2010/11 - I did not enjoy it as much as I had back in the day.

Cuba Librea run through of the tutorial game. I hope I actually get to play this face to face as the tutorial was as far as I got with Andean Abyss. This games looks a little more manageable and the history is more interesting.

Loads of fillers at LOB and at home with friends

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25. Board Game: Ditto [Average Rating:5.20 Unranked]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Ditto last week.


In reality I've been playing lots and lots of Backgammon against the AI on my phone and a bit of Dominion. I got a bit bored with 2P Dominion against the included AIs since they were a bit predictable and I found I was beginning to play in such a way as to exploit the flaws in their strategies rather than play the best I could.

I've moved onto 3P with a fixed Big Money+ AI and a random other AI (of which there are about 5). This is much more fun and a greater challenge. I might be changing my mind about the playability of Dominion with 4.

I've been ogling the Star Wars Miniatures game which looks awesome but expensive.

I really need to go to Paul's and buy up a huge box of games that I NEED. There aren't really all that many but I'm getting stressed that I don't own all the Power Grid maps and Dominion expansions. I need to order the original artwork Innovation and I'm seriously considering buying Legend of the Cipher, but I want it for Essen and I'm sure it won't arrive by then.

I'm also goign to put a handful of games up for auction for delivery at Essen. I'm hoping I can shift my German copies of Keythedral and Guillotine.
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