GCL Phoenix 144 - Hidden Places (06 Oct 2013)
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Welcome to the 144th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. If this is your first visit or you just want to know more, check out the general Game Chat League information hub.

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I have spent my afternoon in Aarhus with a wonderful greek student and a bunch of other people visiting hidden places. Bereft of anything intelligent I will work off that tangent...
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1. Board Game: Hidden Gems [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Today we had a guided tour called hidden places, which showcased little known places in Aarhus worth visiting.

Do you have any hidden places you think we should all visit in terms of gaming? A theme, mechanic or other that is worth a look? Feel even free to suggest specific games to specific people if you feel like it. Any hidden gems/ designers lurking at Essen or in general?
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2. Board Game: Hidden Rules [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Ok, so this one popped up when searching for hidden... do you have any examples of games with rules that are so well hidden that only a few people actually know of them? Entertain us.
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3. Board Game: Hidden Identity [Average Rating:4.56 Unranked]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Yes, you, are you really Batman in disguise?

I sometimes think that who we really are is rarely seen because we assume certain persona in different situations based on the needs and our own perceptions of said situation.

Who would you want to be if you could choose?
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4. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:68]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Games Played Week 40:
Yes, indeed, a game was played this week too.

Monday with V.:
1x _8.0_ Troyes w/ parts of The Ladies
I won.

The Week in Review:
I have had a busy week. We had a latin test and I did surprisingly well, I was very pleased and positive about pressing onwards.

Elsewhere I signed up to be a Friendship Ambassador which means I get paired with a foreign student and then we get to do activities together, show them a good time in Denmark and make connections and possibly friendships.

I have been teamed up with a wonderful girl from Greece and it has been great fun so far. She is nearer my age-bracket than most of the people I study with and has a different perspective on many things.

It is fun.

The Week Ahead:
Who knows... school, exam paper, work, movie... games...
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5. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:320]
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:
.10! Dominant Species
_9_ Terra Mystica
_9_ Goa
_8_ The Palaces of Carrara
_7_ Automobile New!
_6_ Spyrium New!
_4_ For Sale New!
_3_ Mascarade New!


Gaming Notes: I finally came out from under the rock of article writing this week and had an opportunity to play some enjoyable games throughout the week. Oddly, none of the of sessions of my favorite games were particularly special. Not sure why that was, or if it was just something that happened.

Dominant Species was a three-player teaching game that we had to cut short due to time constraints. I was in the hunt for the victory, but came up just short after choosing my dominance cards poorly in the final round. I strongly prefer playing the game with four experienced players. The teaching always seems to take 30+ minutes, by which point people are a bit burt out. And the first rounds of teaching games are always dreadfully slow.

Terra Mystica was a four-player affair with a group that doesn't play often. I tried out the Chaos Magicians for the first time in a long time and played very poorly, though finishing second. The board was set up well for the Halflings and that player ran away with the game. Final scores were roughly 140-110-105-100. In under a year, Terra Mystica has become my most-played full-length game. And yet it lacks a certain flair that would be needed for me to consider it a 10.

Goa was a two-player game using some of the rules from the new edition (at my opponent's request). I wasn't a fan of paying one coin less to buy your own item. We bought from ourselves far too often and the whole thing just ended up feeling kind of solitary and uninteresting. It probably didn't help that I got off to a bad start from which I was unable to recover. I lost handily.

I took my first loss in The Palaces of Carrara in quite some time. We were playing the three-player advanced game and I really disliked one of the cards that came out (6 points per Land building). The particular combination of objective cards led to a very slow game (and I was effectively locked out of rushing the end). It ended up being a slaughter in favor of a player using a rather rudimentary strategy. The one thing I love about the base game is how well balanced it is in terms of play. Using the advanced rules, you sometimes get weird draws that just lead to lackluster games.

Automobile was a fun four-player game, though perhaps too mathy to be a personal favorite. I'd never played before because of the high player count required and my tendency to avoid purer economic games. Still, I finished second in a very close game, which I could have won had I not been so unwilling to calculate demand (I had something like 7 unsold cars on the last round, which cost me nearly $800).

Spyrium was less inspiring than Automobile, but it was not bad. I generally dislike games in which engine-building is a heavy strategy component. While Spyrium offers some alternatives (residences, for example), I'm not sure it provides enough in-game scoring opportunities for me to fall in love with it. After one play, I can't imagine not being bored with it five plays from now.

For Sale and Mascarade were game day fillers. I don't tend to like fillers, with the rare exception. And I didn't see anything in either of these games that would make me want to play them over my favorite fillers (High Society and You're Bluffing!).


Other Gaming News:

Still gearing up for Essen. Starting to put in pre-orders and stuff. My list is only about 25 games long, however, none of which I am frothing-at-the-mouth for. I think Prosperity could be good. Beyond that, I'm willing to try other games in the hopes of finding a spark that I'm not currently seeing. Don't be surprised to see a bunch of 6s and 7s in the weeks following Essen as I play out all the games I've bought.


meeple
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6. Board Game: Continental Divide [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:4631]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 5Oct2013:

4/4/327 plays of 3/3/159 total games, with 0/0/29 expansions employed.
Plays with 7/7/90 distinct opponents.

2/2/28 games acquired (plus 0/0/7 expansions.) (I traded for a copy of Fast Food Franchise, and received a copy the cool new Google Datacenter Manager printing from the publisher.)
0/0/14 games ordered (plus 0/0/5 expansions.)
Orders for 6 games and 2 expansions still outstanding.

With my two youngsters:
2x _7.7_ The City - We continue to get better at translating the German on the cards. We're not quite so good with the card names; those tend to be (verbally) massacred by the children - who find them almost unutterably funny. (And, in truth, the way they pronounce the names is funny!) We don't dither much, so these are <10min plays, rather than something more significant.

At Dave E.'s Los Altos GamesDay:
1x _6.3_ Alien Frontiers New! - I can't claim I'm a fan of the game. My opponents were charming; the game is pretty; but (after the fact) it seemed that the first of us to roll the doubles and increase his ship count was at a significant advantage. It might be a bit more self-levelling than I understand: perhaps my job was to attack his card holdings or resources - but that seemed (naively) to me to play to the advantage of the third player. In the end, I think I prefer Kingsburg; and I'm not that impressed with Kingsburg! (In fact, I'm not that impressed with any of the roll-dice-and-do-cool-things-with-them games. My favourite of the bunch is Troyes; but even that is only a _7_.)
1x _8.5_ Continental Divide - This game was excellent. I didn't play particularly well; but I really enjoyed the experience. I still find the ability to choose both price and total number of shares for a company one starts to be a cool thing: the choices are sufficiently interesting that I seem to get them wrong as often as not.

Owned-and-unplayed: 11 (+0/-0)

Outlook for the week: I was only right with half of my predictions for last week. I hope this week is a bit better! (And, specifically, I hope to get both the Wednesday Night and Friday Noon gaming in this week - in addition to hoping for another game or two with my children.)
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7. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Viticulture x 1

My first 3-player game, notably looser at odd counts as anticipated. This is a very charming game that I am still enjoying and eager to play. The luck of the card draws will drive min-maxers nuts though.

Hive x 3

This is becoming a routine for my desk partner and I to play a game or 2 of this during break in German class. It is quite good at what it does.

The Resistance: Avalon x 2

The Merlin/Assassin aspect is interesting - we had a non-Merlin player trying to cover for his Marlin partner. I think Avalon depends a little more on the tabletalk than its older counterpart.

Romans Go Home! x 1


This is a very good little 10-15 minute filler. Simple enough to grasp quickly but still has interesting choices to make. Knowing how your opponents think is key. There is, of course, some luck too. It fits into the same slot as Love Letter but it's a little quicker.

Terra Mystica x 1

As usual for any week in which it gets played, Terra Mystica was the highlight. I noticed that I've won 3 of my last 4 plays pretty handily (with the Chaos Mages, Mermaids and Darklings). Apparently I'm a slow learner.

Bruges x 5

This one is continuing to be a joy. This week saw a pair of 2-player games and a trio of 3-player games.

Hanabi x 4

First plays with the new release (one of my cards from my original set is creased; the cards are sleeved, but it still makes me twitchy). I like the aesthetics of the new cards, though the dark background makes the green/blue a little tough to distinguish in less-than-perfect light. The white and yellow can likewise be a little tough. Anyhow, we bombed out in plays 2 and 3, and scored 26 in plays 1 and 4.

Biblios x 1


Taught a player in a 2-player game. I won 10-5 (I only won 2 colors but effed with the values to my favor).

Macao x 1

My last (and only) play was a 4-player game over 3 years ago. My tastes have changed enough that I figured I'd really dig Macao now as a 2-player game. Oddly, I still don't enjoy it much. I find the way resources are allocated with the dice to be clever, but I find trying to get the right resources to play my cards to be frustrating, and the rest of the game to be boringly generic.

A la Carte x 1


A game with my wife and daughter. Daughter likes it and is good at it, but sometimes she just wants to draw the coffee cup tiles in hopes of getting one of the nasty ones. This was one of those games. My wife won 23-14-11. I lost, but flipped a crepe (after several attempts).

King of Tokyo x 1

Like with A la Carte, she foregoes better options for the attack-y stuff (I DID NOT RAISE YOU TO MAKE SUB-OPTIMAL DECISIONS AT THE GAME TABLE, YOUNG LADY!!). Just kidding. She's 6, so I'm not surprised that she sometimes gets involved with the less goal-oriented "play". She had 2 health and decided not to keep her 4 hearts because she wanted to attack me. So I killed her the next turn (otherwise she wouldn't learn anything).

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8. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:11]
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United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Last Sunday we had a game of Castles of Burgundy. Sam was at an all-day D&D game yesterday, so no gaming, but maybe we'll get something in yet tonight.

It's been a week of odd sleep schedules and times of not-quite being able to get to sleep, and in my drifting off to sleep state I've had two game ideas that I've sketched out. I'm also helping Ryan with a prototype for a new game of his. We're heading up to Syracuse on Friday, and have a game day planned for Saturday - we're looking forward to that.

My bargain-hunting for Christmas gifts continues; I saw a copy of



which I've long been mildly curious about, on a recent auction list. It was incomplete, and someone had already responded asking for a few of the parts. I added a comment that I'd take the leftovers for $1 plus medium flat rate shipping, and it worked! For the two of us, we can combine two colors, it only really matters if the cards and tiles are there. So, I'll be excited to give it a try.
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9. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:142]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Forbidden Desert x3

First game this week was with my sister in law who joined my wife, myself, and kids to have a five player team up which sadly ended in a loss. Second game this week was five players with neighbors vistiing and we got a bit closer but still lost in the end due to multiple people dying of thirst. Oops. Third game this week was only three players with youngest son and daughter and we won. Our only two wins so far have been three players and all losses have been with more.

_8_ Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan x1

Oldest son learned this with me. In the final round I managed to do an assault that killed his leader and won the game, which was fortunate for me, as I suspect my son would have won if we had to count points. He started the game a bit overwhelmed by rules but by the end he understood things pretty well. Let's see if he will be up for a rematch soon!
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10. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:283]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_9_ Archipelago x4
_8_ Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords - Base Set x1
_7_ Trains x1


The Week in Review

Much like the last few weeks, the same three games saw plays. S resisted learning a new one (Yedo). Maybe later this week, it'll hit the table.

With Essen later this month, and thanks to last week's theme, I've started looking at some of the releases. Need to find a half dozen or so to launch my annual geek list - although at this point I've got all of three games for the list and only one of them (Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy) is a buy. The other two are Glass Road and Russian Railroads. The latter appeals as a sort of simplified Ora et Labora with role selection. I could see S and I getting more plays of it than some of Uwe's heavier games. I'm curious about Russian Railroads as it's designed by O&O. But, I'm more interested in seeing their 18xx games getting (re)published by Mayfair Games.

Maybe I'll consider them Essen 2013 releases and put them on the list. whistle


The Week Ahead

I'm seriously considering picking up Bruges as based on Bryan's enthusiasm. I think S would enjoy it. I'll also order some sleeves for the Magic cube that Max was so kind to put together for me. And maybe get the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Character Add-On Deck as the game is getting regular play around here and my need to collect is kicking in on it.

Edit: Pathfinder Adventure should have been an _8_....
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11. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:147]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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-10- Magic: the Gathering (x2)
-8- Space Alert (x4)
-7- FlowerFall
-7- Win, Lose, or Banana (x2)

Building work and illness took their toll, so the only gaming I did was over the weekend. We've sealed off the door to the kitchen to reduce the amount of dust that makes it into the rest of the house. This means that if I want to get anything out of the fridge (like milk for tea), I have to go out of the front door, down the alley and in through the back door, which is inconvenient to say the least! The council have also decided to dig up all the roads around our house this month, so we can't park the car nearby. To compound the turmoil, at work my team has been deemed "mobile" and we've been turfed out to serviced accommodation elsewhere in order to fit new staff in our existing building. So I feel like my world is in chaos right now.

I've been building lots of EDH/Commander decks for Magic, but not getting too many opportunities to try them out. The first of my Essen pre-orders arrived: Age of Steam expansions - The Alps, Giant Maps and Railroad Switches and Town Center expansions 1 and 2. The Alps map has a confusing gimmick. You use the box as the mountain area with hex boards laid either side and you can build track through tunnels in the box side, or up over the top of the box if you prefer. I can't wait to give these expansions a go.

Round at D & J's on Sunday, D had requested we bring along "the game you're most excited about at the moment". After some discussion, Kate and I decided that was Space Alert, after we'd revisited it the previous weekend and found we were woefully out of practice. Using the Experience system from The New Frontier, I'm still hoping to get the Achievement for teaching two new players and running them through a successful mission. I couldn't get it this time though, because D & J had both played once before, many years ago, so although it was as if they were being taught afresh, it wouldn't count for that Achievement.

It was one of those sessions where we had to keep on playing until we won. For the first couple of missions we thought we'd been successful but each time an early error resulted in catastrophe down the line... Two of us using the same lift in round 1, or thinking the Alien moved one less than it actually does. We got there on the fourth attempt, though. There was a time some years ago when we had an expert crew for this game and could contemplate adding Red level threats. I'd like to get back to that, but for the moment we're still struggling with the easy cards.

FlowerFall rounded off the evening but wasn't quite a satisfactory ending because there was some debate over whether a card had been nudged during the scoring or not. surprise
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12. Video Game: Pandemic: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:541] [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

.10! Race for the Galaxy 5
_8_ Pandemic 3
_8_ Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set 1
_4_ Ascension Deck Building Game 2

Week in Review

A quiet week with some gaming on the weekend. Ascension and Pandemic were played with the gf sitting on the couch; I still log iOS plays when they are with another human but not when they are solo or vs AI. In general, I've been struggling to do as well in the iOS version of Pandemic as I usually do in the physical board game. I think the two new roles in the new printing are weaker than the original five and that may play a part.

We had a grueling game of Pathfinder. It was the fourth game of the Adventure Path and so our seventh game with these characters, due to the three-scenario intro adventure. It was my eight play and I found another rule we had been doing slightly incorrectly - this game suffers badly from the poor rulebook. We were to the point that we had essentially lost and the Wizard took a long odds stab at beating the villain with two turns remaining. However, we had failed to keep track of his deck size and he ended up without enough cards to draw at end of turn. RIP Ezren. This game was marked by a LOT of bad die rolls, including no fewer than a half dozen failed checks in which success was 90-95% in our favor.

I have also discovered that I don't think I like this game with five players. The number of turns is fixed regardless of player count, and once you're splitting it five ways the game suffers heavily from down time. On the upside, we are getting close to the second adventure pack (which is due this month) and I am interested to see things beginning to alter the adventure decks more heavily.

I made a concerted effort to teach Race for the Galaxy to the gf, which she had played once over a year ago and felt she hadn't understood well. We played an open-hand game of the base set and followed it immediately with a second game. The next night we added in the Gathering Storm (the expansion barely alters the game) and played three more games. I think playing five times in a row will make it easier to keep her interested as she began to play more and more confidently.

This is good news for me as I'm a big fan of RftG, but I've never had consistent regular partners to play with. I feel as if most serious fans I know measure their plays of this game in the hundreds and I am only now closing in on my first 100 plays (though I have played against the Keldon AI probably 3-4 dozen more times than my recorded plays).
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13. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
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Ascension
Pandemic
Tanto Cuore

---

All of the above were played on iOS solo. No face-to-face board gaming for me for a second week in a row. Beyond being busy at school and work, the friend that was playing games with me has begun playing different games with me... and I'm ok with that.

The Tanto Cuore implementation by Playdek was decent but not as good as past releases. As Max has stated, there is very little variation from game-to-game as there aren't as many different stacks in this base game as deckbuilders like Dominion and Trains. I'm also not a huge fan of the 'analyze the random set of cards and try to pick the best strategy,' deckbuilders compared to the tactical Ascension/Core World method. That said, when it comes to Tanto Cuore's deckbuilding style, I prefer Penny Arcade: The Game – Gamers vs. Evil.

I was very surprised by the quality of the Pandemic app. I'm very excited that Onirim is going to be the next implementation by developers. I always enjoyed the game, but the shuffling was as bad as most deckbuilding games and thus sold it. I think I even said multiple times that it would be a great iOS implementation but never did I think it would actually come to fruition as it's not the most popular title.

I can't believe how close it's getting to Essen!
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14. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:277]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Innovation x1

Tomorrow morning I fly to Iowa to attend CabinCon, with days of high level gaming with DJ and Joel. I'm very happy about this! I'll have more gaming in the next week than in the last five months! Be patient, I expect the cabin will have wifi so I can get a list done Sunday, but it'll be hard to predict exactly when.


*

Last night I had a game of Innovation with an experienced 100+ games opponent.

He had early success with the first two scores and early splays while I Tooled into the third era and had well stacked tableau that, once it all splayed in the fourth era - using Paper and a second 'splay these two colors' dogma card, I can't remember which - I took over the crown and leaves for the duration.

So I emptied his score pile & stripped his top cards with leaf & crown attack cards, used my burgeoning industry to spam a tucking dogma into a thorough icon dominance with about 8 card per stack spreads, allowing me the action-tempo room to spam score and achievements as he drew desperately into Era 8 looking for a clock-icon silver bullet dogma to stop me. He did draw an Era 10 card which I promptly stole from his hand - gotta love those leaf attack pins. And just as he found a clock-icon attack dogma to start stripping my score pile I ended the game by taking the Wonder special achievement using Measurement to get my last splays to the right. 6-2 win.
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15. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:157] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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_10 _Magic the Gathering x 7.

Just got back from my first foray into competitive Magic since 1999. It didn't go so well . I cobbled together what I thought was going to be if not format defining then at least a rogue tech blue/red (Izzet!?) speed creature rush which had goldfished kills on turn 3 or 4. Deck here: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/remember-to-chew/

First game 0-2. I mulliganed in the first game to four cards and never recovered with no land, and in the second game I mulliganed to six and then could draw only land. In theory it should have been a deck I could beat black/red/white control which only got going on turn five. We played a friendly game after and I got a kill in turn three so I'm telling myself I was just unlucky.

Second Match was against a white weenie with multiple protections from multicoloured - (about half of my decks creatures were blue and red)- this didn't go so well and went 0-2 again.

Match 3 was against another magic returnee with a deck which included a wall, multiple one ofs and not enough land I won 2-0 but it doesn't really count.

Match 4 was against a bestow white/black beast, he played single massive creatures and I swarmed past, winning easily in spite of over 15 life gain in game two. 2-0

So all in all, a very average showing. I don't think the deck is bad, just not really tuned for the random collection of archetypes on offer in FNM. I think I need to slow it down a bit with counter-spells, and go for a combo type win with Nivix cyclops backed up by Guttersnipes.

Either that or I put together a mono-green creature swarm thing, which I think would be consistent and perform reasonably well.


Also played some other games, will add more tomorrow.

_4_ Smash Up

Played at Rugby on Board. This is so not my type of game: random poorly balanced powers and take-that area majority mechanics combined with obtuse rules for the perfect storm of bad game experience. The design choices were also annoying with grating artwork and an overwhelming volume of text making a tedious game even slower.

I can see that further plays could lessen the luck and improve speed as cards and combinations became more familiar, however I've no desire to subject myself to this again.

_9 _ Krakalakan Poker Two rounds of this joyous bluffing game ended the night. Love. It.

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