"Travel Con"
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Just a quick little bloggy list of games played. Will add comments as I get time.

Feel free to ignore.

We went out west (San Francisco) for a work trip in October, returned home for a few days, then went on a proper vacation visiting Brian and Sarah in New Jersey (with a little trip to NY in the middle, to see some shows). And we were able to play a bunch of games!
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1. Board Game: Fauna [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:718] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
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Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Monday, October 14, 2013

We got into town late Friday night. I had a busy Saturday and Sunday at the convention during the day. Saturday evening, I think Mary and I went out somewhere. Sunday evening, after a too-brief stay at the very crowded (shared the space with Vanderbilt and U-Penn?) alumni reception (I was having a good time at Town Hall Restaurant, I met Mary and Atri for dinner at a nearby restaurant (The Plant) recommended by our Concierge (I think). Pretty good dinner, but more for the company than the food (although that was pretty good); sadly, no gaming.

Monday, Mary had arranged dinner with Jeremiah and his fiance (who had to cancel, unfortunately), and Aaron and Jess (people new to us, but who game with Ted). Ted had left for Germany the same day that we'd arrived out there! After a nice dinner (loved that pesto spread they had for the bread!) we came back to the hotel and played a few games J had brought; only he and I had played it before.

Fun game! If we were likely to play this very often, I certainly wouldn't mind owning a copy. J, whose parents owned some kind of animal store or something, won ... damn, some of those animals are freaking HUGE!
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2. Board Game: It Happens.. [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:3266]
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Hillsborough
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A quick(ish) dice game to end the night -- they had a somewhat long drive home, and it was way past my bedtime!

1 play

Decent game, but not what I want in a filler-style dice game. This is just too slow: it's a little annoying having to just sit there and watch everyone else take their turn (since dice are rolled at the beginning of your turn, and then you must decide how to allocate them). I do, however, like the basic game play, which creates some tension as players try to force each other to take the less desirable columns on the anthill tiles. At the same time, they must balance getting the tokens they want against earning the end-of-round bonuses.

Neat game, but just felt too slow. But great to see you, J, and meet you other two, too!

--- Summary ---
Each round, reveal 3 anthill tiles. Each shows a unique set of columns of different heights, showing various icons.

On your turn, roll one d6 and add it to one of the tiles:
- if you're not yet on tile, you must choose leftmost empty column
- once you're in a column, can only add to that column.
- if you cover an icon, get the matching token (if available in Supply)

At the end of the round, the 2 players with the most pips on each anthill score VP. Then, draw 3 new anthills.

At the end of the game (when all anthills have been played), score VP for your sets (1 of each type of token; or 4 of one type). Most VP wins

 
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3. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:130]
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dinner with TomL and BayC, at the Thai place (Osha) near the hotel. After dinner, we returned to our hotel, grabbed a table in the bar, and played 2 games of Tichu. The first one was quick (51 min), but the second was more than twice as long! Good time, though -- thanks for coming out, guys!
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4. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:35]
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The meeting ended Wednesday, and we got home that night. After 2 days at home, we were back in the air headed for the opposite coast. We got there around noon, I think, and Brian and Sarah picked us up at the airport. We had a great lunch at this little Indian place -- definitely need to go back there next time we're in town!

We didn't get to the apartment until late afternoon, but we had all night and decided to give this a go. It was essentially new to Brian and Sarah, and even Mary had only played a few times (a while ago); we just played the Advanced Game. It still took us 5 and a half hours, but that's not so bad given the complexity of the game, and the slowness of the players! With the number of games I've played, you'd think I'd have done better! I ended up third, behind Sarah and Mary (winner) -- nicely done!
 
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5. Board Game: Venture [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:3018]
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Hillsborough
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Game Day! B&S invited a bunch of people over. Before they got there, though, we (not Sarah -- I think she was cooking lunch?) played this one.

1 play, 3er

An oldie! A business-themed set collection card game. There are some very clever (especially for its time) ideas here: for example, card drafting from a central pool, balancing low-value money cards by making sets more valuable, the randomly timed payoffs (like Union Pacific). But the things that killed the game for me (us):
- the totally random money card draws, despite the set-collection thing, is annoying
- the proxy cards, which allow you to steal cards from other players (with no compensation to them, and very little defense): VERY annoying!
- the game play was too long ... the end painfully dragged on well beyond the point when it should have ended

Strictly speaking, the game should probably rate higher than a 3. For me, though, a 3 fits: I'll not play this again unless someone else really really wants to; and in that case, it's really just to confirm whether my rating should be a 2 or a 4!

I'm not a fan.
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6. Board Game: Relic Runners [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1588]
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Hillsborough
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Mary and I played this with MikeF (his copy) and his "friend" Helene.

Wow, quite fun! It's a pretty abstract route-building game, but the theme does help make it feel less so (and that's good). It seems a bit deeper than I expected for Days of Wonder, and that's also good. In fact, this may be the game of their recent line that I like most!

Mike and I ended up tied, but he beat me on the tiebreaker.
 
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7. Board Game: Uchronia [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2326]
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Mike taught this one as well (me, Mary, Mike, Helene, and Brian played).

It's a reworking of Glory to Rome, but I think I prefer the original -- missed being able to do something on everyone's turn (there's no "following" in this game).
 
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8. Board Game: Koryŏ [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1704]
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Mike had also brought this game, and seemed to be a fan. I played it with Mary, Helene, and Roland. I won -- yay me!

1 play, 4er

Interesting micro game that really makes you think, with only a small deck of cards. You play several rounds, each time getting fewer cards in hand. Players simultaneously choose to play 2 cards of different ranks, or multiple cards of the same rank. As you play, you're building up majorities in the different card ranks. Each rank gives a different power, but only to the player with the single majority of those cards in play. There are also special action cards to mess with other people's tableaus. At the end, the player with the majority in each rank (2-9?) scores as many VP; lose VP if you played those special action cards.

But I don't think it's one I'd return to often: although there's definitely a quick, cool game here, it may be a bit too chaotic for me. And the fact that Mary absolutely hated it makes it even less likely that we'll get a copy! But I'd definitely try it again....
 
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9. Board Game: Power Grid: The New Power Plant Cards [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
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Last game of the night: me, Sarah, Rob, Joe, and Mike. We played on the China map, which I'd played before (but the new power plant deck was new to all of us).

Meh. Nice change, I suppose, but I'd rather play different maps. If I played a LOT of PG, I'd probably be more interested in this deck.
 
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10. Board Game: Poseidon [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1493]
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

We took the train into the city on Monday. We visited MOMA, saw a few shows (Kinky Boots was great, Pippin not so much), ate a few dinners, and just hung out. Sarah drove us home Wednesday night (after Kinky Boots). Thursday, Brian had to work but Sarah was home most of the day. We decided to try something we'd be unlikely to play with Brian -- an 18xx game that would likely never end if he'd been in the mix! I'd traded for this a while ago and had been looking forward to trying it out!

Well, it's a shorter 18xx variant but it still took us over 3 hours (new to everyone). I'd like to try it again, just because I'd play it differently next time. But it just wasn't very interesting! The whole time, I (and Sarah, it turned out) were thinking "meh"!

Mary won this one.
 
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11. Board Game: Saint Petersburg: New Society & Banquet Expansion [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
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Sarah picked this one, and won.

Decent game, but neither Mary nor I are big fans. I do kind of like the expansion cards, though.
 
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12. Board Game: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1817]
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Brian got home. After dinner, the 4 of us played this. Sarah was the bad guy (The Mayor) but had TERRIBLE rolls -- the good guys won in an hour, but it wasn't all that much fun when she really couldn't accomplish anything most of that time!
 
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13. Board Game: Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1481]
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Hillsborough
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Brian and I ended the night with this quick little game of pick up and deliver in space. It's a pretty fun, very light pick up and deliver game -- in space. It does have a pretty cool way to randomize and control the resource distribution. If I played more 2-player games, I might return to this more often (although I suspect, given the time, I'd rather just play a big game of Merchants of Venus!).

--- Summary ---
Place the 9 planet cards in a line. The goods cards are double-sided; randomize them, then place several on each planet grouped by type (but no more than 2/type/planet to start). Players' ships start on planet 1. Each has their own deck, shuffled; draw 5 card hand. The cards are mostly tech cards, which can give you ongoing power; or single-use cards (counter opponent's card by playing matching card yourself). Spend VP to play the cards.

On your turn, move your ship (costs less energy moving towards sun), pick up stuff (start game with only 1 cargo hold), deliver stuff. When you deliver, you flip the delivered cards over; any resulting matches are removed from game -- works as a game timer! You win by getting to target (75?) VP, or if goods gone (most VP wins).

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14. Board Game: Würfel Bohnanza [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1603]
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Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Brian, Mary, and I played this one (Sarah working for a bit?). I won -- yay!

This is yet another dice version of a card/board game. This time, though, it feels somewhat different: not quite so much of a Yahtzee variant, and it still retains a feel of its parent game.

Yet another game I wouldn't mind trading for!

--- Summary ---
There are 2 types of d6, each with different distributions of beans. The deck of cards show several rows of dice combinations; each player starts with 2 in a column: you use the bottom one to show which row you are currently working on in the top card. On your turn, you roll the dice; then everyone ELSE simultaneously sees if they can fulfill their combos, starting from the bottom of their card; if so, they slide the lower card up so that the done combo is hidden; may keep sliding as far as possible with the current roll. Then, the player sets aside at least one die -- unavailable to everyone the rest of the turn -- and rolls again. When they stop, they use all the dice they've set aside to complete as many rows as possible. Once players have reached the top several rows, they may (at any time) cash the card in for 1-4 gold (like Bohnanza, face down cards are used as currency) and draw a new card. A player wins by reaching the target score (13 coins?).
 
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15. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:702]
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Hillsborough
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Sarah still away. Mary won.
 
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16. Board Game: HellRail: Third Perdition [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:6083]
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Sarah back, but cooking dinner?

New to me and Mary. Cool multi-use of cards, but the end dragged.

A neat pick-up-and-deliver card game, where the cards have multiple uses: tracks, fuel, souls, and pick-up/drop-off locations. The problem, though, is that the game lasts a bit too long. As people make what they think is their final delivery, they add a bunch of cards to the discard pile -- and the game keeps going! If not for that little problem, the game -- with it's weird theme, cool mechanics, and a bit of chaos with the circle posers -- would have been kinda fun!

--- Summary ---
A board is created with cards for the gateway and the 9 circles of hell, each with a randomly assigned circle power. Players start their trains at the gateway.

On your turn, draw a card and then perform one or more actions. These actions include laying track card (add to play area), moving your train (may use circle power when you enter a circle), pick up souls (add behind your engine), or drop off souls (add to your score pile). Next, may discard a card to draw more cards (equal to fuel number on discard) -- if deck empty, shuffle discards.

The game ends immediately when someone needs to draw a card but both draw/discard decks are empty. Most souls saved wins!
 
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17. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:368]
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Hillsborough
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All 4 of us played this one; first time on the reprint for me and Mary. They did some good things here, with the suggested maps and the arrows on the robots. But the (painted) pewter pieces of the original are better!

Brian won this while the rest of us shot each other up!
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18. Board Game: Merkator [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:886]
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Mary, not feeling well (caught Brian's cold earlier in the week?), went to rest while the rest of us ended the evening with this one. I'd played it once before, but had largely forgotten how it worked.

I ended up winning - yay!

This is a cool take on the pick-up-and-deliver mechanic, and feels TOTALLY different from any of his other big-box games (e.g., Agricola, Le Havre, At the Gates of Loyang). The pick-up-and-deliver is highly abstracted, but works very well. The reward system is pretty clever, too: successively get more valuable contracts in hand, which you also want to discard for their coin value (to buy buildings); but if you do so too early, you limit your contract-related VP potential!

Here's yet another game I'd love to play more often!

--- Summary ---
The board shows several interconnected locations, each with a stock of cubes in different colors (seeded at start) and each costing some amount of time chips (some locations give you chips). Resources are unique: every color can be one of 2 types; you must choose when you acquire the cube. There are also several contracts on display (each requiring a unique combo of cubes, and worth VP) and several building cards. Players start the game with some contracts in hand, as well as one of every resource.

On your turn, you move a marker to any location and collect resources; add a cube to every connected location. You may also fulfill contracts for that location if you have the correct combo of cubes. You reward is to get a contract of the next higher value. There is a hand limit, and you can return contracts to supply to earn coins (which are used to buy the building cards).

At the end of the game, you earn VP for all the contracts still in hand, plus the building cards (which each have different requirements and VP values).
 
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19. Board Game: Eurorails [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1180]
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

All four of us played, with the public locking variant. Normally I don't like that -- would rather just look at 3 cards at once -- but it actually worked pretty well!

I was one turn away from winning, but instead ended up in third (behind Sarah and Mary, the winner with exactly $250!).
 
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20. Board Game: Tyranno Ex [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3819]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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I'd traded for this as well, and have been wanting to play it for a while. Glad I did, I suppose, but it's not one I need to keep. We played it with at least one rules error, but I don't think that would fix the game for any of us -- too much randomness for our tastes (stupid dice!).

A pretty interesting design with a great evolution theme. Each round, players draft animals (from face up decks) each of which have a unique combination of environment elements. The current environment starts out with a random mix, but players can slowly modify it to try to best suit their own animals. They can also each attack one other animal, with combat based on the animals level and strength (which improve as you win more fights and match more elements of the current environment). At the end of the round, animals that survive (being attacked by others, or environmental changes -- need to match at least one element) advance on a conveyer belt style board, and score VP; the longer an animal sticks around, the more VP you earn.

Really, a pretty neat design, especially the way the environment changes. But there was just too much randomness in the order animals became available, and the dice-based combat. Also, winning combat early makes you stronger and stronger -- hard to catch up with those animals. And worst of all, you have to depend on people figuring out who's actually winning ... and not attack the person already in last place when it makes no f-ing sense!
 
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21. Board Game: Le Havre: Le Grand Hameau [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked]
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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Sticking with the loser-picks-next-game rule that Sarah had declared a few days ago, I picked this. Mary had no interest in playing, so she went off to rest/surf while the rest of us played.

Fun game, which Sarah won in the end.

They drove us to the airport early the next morning. Thanks for having us, for hosting the game day, for feeding us, and keeping company -- had a great time as usual!
 
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