Solitaire Games on your Table - December 2013
chris leko
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Welcome to the Solitaire Games on Your Table Geeklist for December 2013

If you're curious as to what the community has been playing in previous months and want to subscribe to our notification thread, check out Solitaire Games on Your Table Monthly Geeklist SUBSCRIPTION THREAD.

For this month's giveaway I was attempting to come up with something appropriately holiday themed, but I couldn't think of anything really original!

So. For this month, I'll be giving away GG to anyone who writes about a game they received for a holiday gift (any ol' holiday around this time, be it Christmas, Secret Santa, or Hanukkah). If you know who gave it to you, please give them a shoutout and tell them how much you appreciate it (they don't have to be a BGG member).

To keep those who missed the Secret Santa (like myself), or don't get games as holiday presents, I'll also be running a GG giveaway from those people who write a mini review for their games. I've seen a lot of great thoughts about why the games we play are great, but I think it'd be great if we put some structure to it. So, feel free to use your own format, or use the following:
d10-1Overview of the game
d10-2Overview of the rules
d10-3Things you don't like
d10-4Things you really like
d10-5Summary + Score (use whatever scoring system you would like to use).

I have a bit of GG thanks to the generosity of Mo, and any and all GG that is donated to this thread will go as prizes for this month's GG giveaways (if I'm running them or not).


I'm repeating this word of warning from previous lists.

A Word of Warning:

Since
Albert Hernandez
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Greenville
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The show on solitaire boardgaming.
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had the initial idea for this kind of geeklists they have become on one side an invaluable resource for solitaire gamers, but on the other side - a wallet cleaning vacuum ;-)
Under the influence of these geeklists:
+some contributors have bought solitaire games they didn't plan on buying.
+some contributors have bought expansions for solitaire games they don't even have yet, because they happened to show up at a shop they visit.
+some contributors spend more time reading and updating this list than actually playing.whistle

So browse at your own responsibility.

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*Special Note*

If you feel like you'd like to run a GG Giveaway in this list, please do! Mo's RFTG giveaway last month was a big success considering it started at the end of the month. Anything like that would be welcome.
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51. Board Game: Solitaire Caesar [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:7011]
Andrew Borgelin
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
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Played a great game of this the other day. Only managed to get through to the end of turn 11 which equates to the fall of the west. Managed a historical level win which was quite good. Really like this game, it's fun, fast and engaging. Nice to get it back to the table again!

I played this as part of my drive to play some of my unplayed in 2013 list of games. You can follow my progress in trying to up the numbers of played games for 2013 and ensure that I halt the decline in games played here...

Numbers falling... Something needs to be done!
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52. Board Game: Onirim [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1042]
Flabbergasted Rhino
Japan
Osaka
Kansai
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This continues to be my first choice for a 5 minute solo game. I have added in the towers twice now since my last post and it is definitely a nice way to step it up a notch. Each game has been down to the last few cards and I have managed the narrow win. I sense the first loss may just be lurking on the threshold sauron


Edit: Another win with only 6 cards left. Still keeping the demons at bay!
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53. Board Game: Eldritch Horror [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:59]
Matt
United States
Central Coast
California
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Jim Culver and Trish Scarborough went up against Azathoth in my first game ever in this genre.

I liked it. It felt like "Pandemic for after the kids go to bed." There were more complicated tradeoffs to consider, and stranger interactions. It is clear that each Ancient (?) Great Old (?) One will play differently, and I like that about the game. I'd probably get an expansion if they add more ancient ones and beef up some of the decks.

My biggest complaint is the way they split the rulebook into two pieces, the first half being an introduction to the basic mechanics, and the second one an alphabetical index to the concepts. I would have preferred one rulebook with the basics in a larger font, and the details in callouts, so that I had a chance of picking it all up in a few read-throughs. There were a few things missing, too, but I got them sorted out eventually.

Next time I will pick two different investigators, although the spy was pretty good. The musician would be better with larger groups, but he didn't mesh well with Trish.

Things got tricky at the end:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I needed to close a gate under a matching omen (so only one in four turns would allow me to do this) to solve the last mystery, but there was a rumor that prevented me from closing gates! Fortunately I was able to deal with the rumor with the musician before I hit my next opportunity to close the gate with the spy, but it was a nailbiter. Plus, I wanted Jim in the gate city so that he could assist Trish with one of his artifacts. Monsters kept popping up on the gate I wanted to close, and the musician kept accumulating "conditions," but at the last possible moment he rolled a 6 to fire off a spell that cleared the way for Trish to close the gate.
Whew!

Oh, and I think I'm the only person in the world that this happens to whistle, but I think dice hate me.


edited for terminology. still learning this mythos!
edited again for terminology. Are both valid? Ugh.
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54. Board Game: Castaways [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1246]
Christopher Ebert
United States
North Fort Myers
Florida
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Good lord this game is tough. Well, I just haven't figured it out.
So here's my assessment of the game. Keep in mind this is after one multi-player play and one solitaire play and I have no idea on a strategy so I won't comment about that.

First I'd like to start off with, one thing I like in a solo game is a goal to reach. Those that have followed me know I love keeping track of my win/loss stats. So when there's no goal, like in Le Havre or Factory Fun, other than "Beat your last score"... I tend to hate that, but still play those two in particular cause they are just that fun. I want an objective, and if there's a score, even better cause I can see how much I have improved or not.
Castaways has that objective. Get rescued off the island. If you do, you win. If you don't you lose. Very easy victory condition.

The first time setup of the game, mostly with the cards, was a tad confusing but once I played a game, it made total since. I love how you have "starter" stories, but only 8 of them are randomly dealt to the main card deck(s) and shuffled in. Next to the board, you have a stack of cards numbered 1 to 105. Various cards will tell you to shuffle a certain number into a certain deck. The the story of what happens is not always the same. The two games I played, actually did feel a little different (beyond game mechanics that is)

You collect story points as you go, cause of the "semi-cooperative" part of the game, everyone HAS to work together to get off the island. (There is the possibility that not everyone will get rescued...) But the story points represent the story you wrote, so whoever "wrote" the best story about their "experience" on the island, ultimately wins cause their story is what everyone reads. (So story points are only counted if you make it off the island... of course) Some people don't like that. I have no problem with it.
Now, with the solo game, I read somewhere that the story points don't matter, cept during the game when you can use them for things. Well, I'll be using them to keep track of a high score to see if I'm improving or not.
That is... IF I ever get off that island!

I really enjoyed this game, and I look forward to figuring out how to get off this island. I just please ask not to give me strategy tips (for now) cause I'd like to find out on my own (for now).


Game - Date
#1 - 12/05
#2 - 12/12
Castaway
Cook
Tough
Outcome
Not rescued
Not rescued
Score
0
0



Game #1: Holy cow. I had so much trouble keeping my energy up and getting the fire even started. I spent so many turns with very low energy and when I finally got the fire started, I got lost and it went out. Next time I'm going to work on getting the shelter built up faster to give me more energy when I rest. And I need to explore much more too. But so much easier said than done. Will try that for next game.

Game #2: Nothing much to comment. This one frustrated the crap out of me. Rollercoaster of a ride... DAMN YOU DICE! I still had fun, but grrrrrrrr!


Edit: Added Game 2


Castaways - Game Tracker Spreadsheet
Castaways - Solitaire Tracker Geeklist Item
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55. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:266]
chris leko
United States
Brooksville
Florida
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Think I did my best "ever" on this game. Might have equaled my score once before.

Got a 17, with 10 gold remaining.

I think I did fairly well considering my first 2 turns only had 1 regular customer in the offer. It was really tough to start making money those early turns, and even tougher when trying to plan out my fields. I hit the mother load about half way through the game. Kept getting a ton of Market Stalls and Regular Customers, and the odd casual customer that I could, just so happen, fill for a quick 13 gold (or so).

I continue to love this game. Of all the Uwe games I've played, this one probably plays the best solitaire. I've never actually played it with others, and I'm interested in the auction mechanic. But the offer mechanic is so clever, I've never felt that it was lacking something.

Oh, it also doesn't take up much table space, so that's a huge plus.
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56. Board Game: High Frontier [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:927] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Kyle
United States
Up Nort' Der
Wisconsin
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5-Player Solo
Colonization Rules but Basic Everything else

------------------------------------------
Play Log Link

ESA was the first into space with a early sail run to Eureka for the double glory, but NASA followed up soon after with a Resistojet-powered Rocket that carried a refinery and was all set up to build the first factory. With both cards type-M, Hertha was the obvious target.

In the meantime, Shimizu spent most of their time collecting patents while the UN slowly put together an all-in-one rocket of their own that eventually found its way to Mars. PRC looked closer to home, and with an early grab of the Mirror Steamer made a Lunar factory their priority.

NASA finally arrived at Hertha around the same time the UN took over Mars and PRC grabbed the Moon, and came up... as a bust. Plenty of other viable sites remained, but with the best chance for an M-site gone, they were now facing an uphill battle.

UN began transporting their first piece of Martian equipment back to LEO to hook up with some additional parts, while ESA sent a refinery out to their Karin B site to establish the second factory of the game. PRC arrived on Luna with the second part of their Zubrin factory a few turns later.

NASA put their last hope for an early M-site on Olijato but busted that too, so they started collecting new equipment that would work at alternate sites. To add insult to injury, ESA took their newly-produced S-type rocket and did what NASA couldn't by building a factory on Psyche, the last remaining large (but very dry) M-site available.

UN took a similar leap forward by lighting up the Vesta family and scoring hits on all but one of the sites. With two V-sites secured, Space Tourism was in reach...

PRC thundered back to Earth with their mighty Zubrin to pick up a refinery, while Shimizu finally arrived on Ceres to build their first factory. NASA arrived in the same cluster soon after with their improved rocket in the hopes of finally building a factory of their own.

PRC struck next by jumping UN's claim on Mars Hellas Basin with the intent of setting up their second factory. Moments later Shimizu established their first on Ceres, and ESA launched from Karin B with the equipment to build their third.

UN was poised to acquire Space Pharmacy on their next turn (needing only 2 hits among the remaining 6 sites in the Koronis Family) and NASA was ready to industrialize Minerva to finally put some meaningful points on the board, but it was PRC that put it away with the seventh factory on Mars Hellas Basin.




There were a lot of potential points left on the board in the final turn, but ultimately it was ESA that claimed the win by a mere 1 point over UN. Their fortunate claim of Karin B and the nice S-type pairing of a Missile Robonaut & Refinery put them in the position to rebuild factories very quickly. It's exactly what NASA had hoped to do from Hertha, so had that worked out for them it could have been a very different endgame.


Score Breakdown:

UN
Claims & Cubes(9): Mars-AMC(F), Mars-NP, Mars-HB, Vesta, Kollaa, Eichsfeldia, Unitas
Factories(16): 1C, 1V
Glory(3): Mars
Busted: Peking
Total: 28


NASA
Claims & Cubes(1): Minerva
Factories(0): --
Busted: Deimos, Hertha, Olijato
Total: 1

Shimizu
Claims & Cubes(3): Ceres(F+C)
Factories(6): 1C
Busted: --
Total: 9


ESA
Claims & Cubes(5): Karin B(F+C), Psyche(F)
Factories(18): 1S, 1M
Glory(6): Science, Any
Busted: Karin A, Karin C, Lacrimosa
Total: 29


PRC
Claims & Cubes(6): Luna(F+C), Mars-HB(F+C)
Factories(14): 1S, 1C
Busted: --
Total: 20
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57. Board Game: Space Infantry [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:3647]
Justin
United States
Plano
Texas
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I'm going to try and limit my quantity of games this month and spend more time on a few. This one and Suburbia will probably be my rotation for awhile if I can resist learning Navajo Wars. I'm planning to go back over the Andean Abyss rulebook during my time off.

Anyway, so this game I purchased solely on the indirect recommendations of people on this list. It seemed like a much thinkier Gears of War (which I love) and Pathfinder has gotten me interested in campaign-based games.

I did a little bit with mission 1 after getting everything punched and set, but didn't get very far. I'll be reporting back on my progress, but this one is looking pretty sweet so far. Anything I should know going in?

12-5-13: Did a full basic run of mission 1 and succeeded, though all my guys were pretty banged up by the end. Will most likely put together my first campaign next time I have this one out.

12-15-13: Circled back to this one tonight to try and get a campaign started. I go over the rules, feel like I have a decent enough handle on them and go to select my mission.

"H003"

Well crap... I have no clue how to do a hive mission. So that's my next project. I have it all set up ready to go, so I'll be on that tomorrow night.

12-16-13: Got in my hive learning mission tonight. Everything was rocking along just fine until I ran smack into 4 soldiers and a sargent (humanoid mercenaries I think they were). All my squads had a wound so they were ground up quickly and efficiently.

The hive was definitely different. I had to change course a couple times simply because I lacked the skills to advance. I had revealed about 7 tiles and one of the special hexes before drawing that B/6 encounter. Ouch.

So having read the rules for the campaign, am I right to assume that had that happened in my actual campaign mission, those squads would simply be dead and I'd have to recruit new ones? Pretty brutal for mission 1, but I guess that's how it's going to be with this game. I ain't scared.

12-17-13: Off work today for a doctor appointment with the baby. She's napping and wife's working on Christmas cards so naturally, it's game time.

I excitedly kicked off my legitimate campaign with the H003 mission. That is, until the first encounter on the second node in which I found myself facing 6 cultists at melee range (read: suicide bombers). I didn't give up hope immediately, though. I drew the RNs for my squad:

2,3,7,0,1,1,2 with 1 CP. That would amount to at most 3 hits if I don't do ambush. I go to draw the RNs for the cultists:

3,6,5,5,4,5. 5 hits... 5 GRENADE hits at that. On the first combat round.

Yeah... I'm chumping out and starting over.

12-18-13: Good grief... this hive mission is relentless. Made my 3rd attempt this evening (this would be my 2nd legitimate attempt at starting up the campaign) and my team was wiped out within maybe 5 battles. I did the best I could to mitigate damage from the suicide bombers with well-timed ambushes, but every time one snuck through for a hit, I'd draw a 6. It was a double hit of two 6's that obliterated my crew.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't think I am. Maybe it's just bad luck on the RNs. One thing is for sure, however... I'm having a blast (pun) getting my butt handed to me in this game.

Oh and I'm playing it on easy mode so... yeah.
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58. Board Game: Level 7 [Escape] [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4691]
Rick Noetzel
United States
Duluth
Georgia
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I'm building a foamcore insert for Level 7 so, while glue is drying, I decided to play a 4-character 'campaign' of the scenarios to see how far they could get through the complex. Let's just say that if humanity depends on these four, humanity is doomed.

Level 7: The 4 subjects (Bingo, Bango, Bongo, and Irving) have to find the elevator. Things went well -- a lot of tiles were explored before the first couple clones popped up. Bingo and Bango were on the losing side of fights and both ended up in the infirmary. On the same turn, Irving found the elevator which automatically triggered lockdown. Any characters in the infirmary when lockdown is triggered are out of the game -- half my characters gone in a single turn. Bongo and Irving escaped in the elevator and won the scenario.

Level 6: The elevator is shutdown by the guards and Bongo and Irving must locate/activate some control panels to get the elevator running again. Running is a key word since the clones and guards were all over the place fast. Irving was knocked out, sent to the infirmary, escaped, attacked by more clones and killed. Bongo led a conga-line of guards and clones around while she activated 2 of the 3 required control panels. Then a pair of clones attacked and she went to the infirmary -- scenario and game over.

Ouch!
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59. Board Game: Navajo Wars [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:1339]
Jared Wilson
Canada
Port Perry
Ontario
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I think I may have already added this earlier in the post, but I was playing the Spanish scenario, and now I've got the Mexican one set up, so it should be a different entry right?

This scenario is called 'A Broken Country' and covers the rise of the Navajo from the time of Mexican Independance, to the arrival of the American Army of the West.

I finally got around to reading the errata, and that makes a big difference with regards to the Culture cards. Before, in order to purchase Masters of the Mesa level 2, it said you needed Cunning level 1 (which is written on the cards). But the errata says you only need Masters of the Mesa level 1, in order to buy MotM level 2. Big difference.

In this scenario, you're allowed to purchase 4 Culture cards to start the game. So I've chosen Masters of the Mesa level 1 & 2, Horsemanship level 1, and Cunning level 1.

I'll keep you posted.
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60. Board Game: The Phantom League [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:4894]
Deathworks
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Hello!

I just finished my first real play-through of this game, going true solo and using my basic solo house-rules (limiting improvements).

I picked a random non-male character and a random ship and ended up with Erica Dayson and the Corsair.

For inital improvements, I had the choice of Foam Coating, ECM Device and Small Cargo Bay and decided that the Foam Coating would be neat as I felt the Corsair was a bit lacking in defenses (and also feared the malus of any damage taken).

My missions were Peace Talks, Medical Aid, and Microscopic Load. None of these could be fulfilled within the core of the map as not all required planets/stations were available.

In the beginning, I looked longingly at Alpha III, the only space station in the core map, and thus the only place to get better improvements. But with only 30 credits left, there was no use to go there right now. Instead I went for the opposite side of the core where Bethax Superior shared its hex with an asteroid belt. Mining the ore, I filled my cargo hold with it and sold it at Bethax Superior where I bought food. I then headed for Alpha III, where I had to pay customs thanks to the "Milking cows" docking card. (T_T)

It turned out that Alpha III offered the Free Trader and Courier, as well as Secondary Fuel Tank, Flares, Turbo-Laser, Small Fuel Tank, Crystallization Lab, Anti-Targeting Chalf, and Fuel Harvester. I wasn't really interested in going down for notoriety, but that Fuel Harvester looked really appealing: Right next to the Alpha III System, there was a brown dwarf together with New Hebron. The Harvester could be my door to explorations, which would fit perfectly with Erica's personality.

Thanks to the greedy officials, I was still low on money, so I went back to Bethax Superior and its asteroids. Having harvested again a full cargo hold of ore, I docked at Bethax Superior - and got milked again!!!

Still, I got my 6 food and went back to Alpha III. The crackdown taking place there didn't touch me, so I got enough money to buy that gleaming harvester. And my calculations had been rather stiff.

So, losing no more time, I flew to the New Hebron system and refueled at the brown dwarf (this actually raised the question whether I could have also done a hyperspace jump that turn as I had speed 3. Not that it matters, but I decided to require extra turns for hyperspace jumping).

With my tanks full, I felt excitement as I turned towards one of the unexplored hexes (south) bordering on New Hebron. That temper got somewhat cooled after one calculation error and die roll that left me at Central system (^_^;;

Immediately I went to a different system (Black hole/Walton-Rye) from which to start my explorations. And off we went - stalling the engine and sending my fuel done by another 2 (reaching 0!!!). Fortunately, the new system consisted of Xatray and Hollow Core. So, I docked at Hollow Core and bought that one unit of fuel I needed to reach the brown dwarf at New Hebron.

Things now started to look better. Having earned my first additional level of recognition, I continued exploring. During my next jump, I encountered an alliance fleet, which ignored me as I had no illegal cargo (or any cargo at all, for that matter (^_^;; ). Thus, I arrived at Condo Primi/Eccentic IV without incident.

Continuing the jumps, I passed an Alliance Patrole to reach a gas giant sharing its system with Rredra.

Feeling confident, I pushed for another jump - and my engines failed. Fortunately, I still had one fuel left, so I was able to reach New Hebron and refuel at the brown dwarf again (that harvester really paid off).

Resuming my explorations, I discovered Radianus and Occultus. However, I got lost in Hyperspace, so I could not take any actions there (I find the fact that the jump still succeeds despite the disheartening card title confusing).

My next exploration, which would bring me to the recognition limit of 6, thus ending the recognition bonus due to exploration, was really lucky - not only did I uncover El Dorado sharing a system with Gravor, I also got an alien encounter with them sending me a message to go to New Hebron.

Curious about what may be available for sale (I still needed to fulfill at least one mission and was not too thrilled about risking transporting narcotics for the Medical Aid mission), I docked at El Dorado. However, the riots there delayed my trading by one turn (I assume no docking cards are drawn if you start a turn docked).

The offering there was rather disappointing, besides the Space Miner and Explorer, they offered the Targeting Computer, Fuel Scoop, Alien Armor, Nano Fibre Net, Reactive Armor, Particle Accelerator, and Missile Launcher. None of them interested me. I had hoped for the containment bay so I could fulfill the microscopic load mission.

Resigning myself to my fate, I bought 6 units of food and went to New Hebron, both to refuel at the brown dwarf and also succeed in the alien card. Having done that, I docked at New Hebron, without worrying about their law about No Lasers Here and not caring about the Temptation. I sold the food to get some more ready cash before heading of to Occultus.
There, I was greeted by people freeing slaves and a crackdown on illegal goods. Fortunately, I was not bringing any illegal cargo to the planet, I had come to buy such cargo

So, without further incident, I bought the narcotics medicine they desperately needed at Eccentric IV and set course for the system.

Fortunately, I was using the themed docking system, and being on the path of Fame, I only needed to face one docking card. A single crackdown could have really hurt me a lot. So, my hand was a bit shaking.

Fate's Fickleness

Well, it delayed the delivery by a turn, but it did not threaten it. Thus, Erica delivered the medical supplies at Eccentric IV, becoming a local hero and reknown for her far and wide travels.

------------

All in all, a very satisfying play. Playing true solo works quite nicely as there is enough story to enjoy its unfolding. However, I think I will go for the explorer variant I have detailed before next time as I feel that otherwise it is just too unlikely to resolve many missions (depending on your luck, you may not have the required planets/stations in the core, so you need to explore, which already gives you Recognition up to level 6, which is short before victory).

I hope that my local store some day has the combo pack (it is unlikely to get the mostly harmless expansion by itself nowadays, I guess), so I can really get the flavored missions, something that sounds like just the thing for me.

Anyhow, this was quite fun.

Yours,
Deathworks
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61. Board Game: Ogre [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1133]
Reuven Fischer
United States
Bala Cynwyd
Pennsylvania
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After 5hours (over 3 sittings) of punching out the entire game & assembling the tanks (the read me first sheet advises against this as it is "a way to madness"), I finally got to play one of the intro scenarios (MKIII) solo. Not Bad. The OGRE won a marginal victory. Got my CP but I was able to finally take him out as he fled for home.
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62. Board Game: Phantom Leader [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:2227]
Ron A
United States
California
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d10-1Overview of the game
Phantom Leader lets you recreate USN and USAF bombing campigns during the Vietnam War. The player chooses a group of planes to fight through a series of missions. For each mission a target is chosen, aircraft are armed, and the mission is then flown by the player.

d10-2Overview of the rules
Targets are drawn from a target deck, subject to political restrictions. Planes have weight restrictions on how much they can carry, and how far away the target is. Each target has a different and random set of defenses, split between anti aircraft guns and MiGs. The player has to commit to an approach path before the MiGs appear. All weapons have values for damage, hits and destruction, you have to roll greater than the value to cause an effect. An event deck is drawn from 3 times per mission, once pre target, once over target and once flying home. The actual attack phase lasts for 4 turns. Each plane has a pilot with different modifiers for air to ground and air to air weaponry. 'Fast' pilots attack before defenders fire, 'slow' pilots must suffer possible defensive attacks before they can fire. Each weapon has employment parameters, for example, SAMs (surface to air missiles) can only fire at 'high' altitude aircraft, some weapons have range=0, etc. Each pilot can be affected by stress, stress can accumulate from being shot at, damaged, or merely by flying against certain targets. Pilots that get too stressed out cannot fly, they must sit out missions while they decompress.

d10-3Things you don't like
2 different aircraft types carrying the same type of weapon have exactly the same chance to hit with that weapon. Smart weapons seem too easy to get, many times you can bomb the target with standoff missiles and never take return fire. Oh, and the aircraft loadouts are not historically accurate, real life aircraft can carry more weapons than the game allows.

d10-4Things you really like
I REALLY like the stress system. You may have one pilot that is better than the others, but when he gets too much stress he has to sit out the war. The political track is a nice touch. Each campaign tracks the political restrictions placed on the player. Each target has a political value, and the player can only bomb targets that have a political value LESS THAN the number on their political track. I also like that the game tracks individual weapons and defensive systems. The target and event decks work well within the game system, adding randonmess which increases replayability. Oh, and there are multiple campaigns for USAF and USN, again, adding to the replayability of the game.

d10-5Summary + Score: Even with the abstractions, the game shows the unique nature of the air war in Vietnam. You are cheering for your pilots to make it through their missions and level up, and you cringe when their plane is hit or shot down.
53 out of 55
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63. Board Game: Hostage Negotiator [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:880] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Mikolaj Laczynski
Poland
Warsaw
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My first game played at MikoCon 2013 - The Solitaire Half Day Convention - Edition 1.0.

Three games played: 2 won - 1 lost (but it was close and all hostages were saved).

I will post more details after the Con

Edit: Game details
1. During the first conversation I managed to find out out the Abductor's demands. Then I was slowly convincing him to free hostages one by one - all of them. It was going too well. After the last hostage was released the Abductor would not answer the phone. A team was ready nearby. It was sent in. Unfortunately too late. It turned out he had a secret tunnel and escaped.
I needed 1 success (5 or 6) on three dice - I rolled 3,4,3.
Edit 2: When writing a detailed report for my Hostage Negotiating blog I noticed that on the last turn I used the "Gain Trust Card", which meant that 4s were also considered successes.
Arkayne was caught leaving the Tunnel. Game won!

2. The first two conversation ended with me losing a total of 5 Terror cards from the deck. That means 5 less turns until game end, so I knew it was going to be very tough. Before the last Conversation there were 5 hostages freed, 3 - killed and 6 still captive. I managed to convince Suzanne to free all the remaining hostages through skillful conversations and by conceding her demand and arranging a tenure award for her. With no more hostages in the pool I arranged a bus for her escape (the second of her demands) and captured her when she was on her way to board it.

3. Q really wasn't very determined and was cooperating well. After 5 turns all the Hostages were released and he surrendered.
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64. Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach [Average Rating:8.25 Overall Rank:511]
Matt
United States
Central Coast
California
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Wow! What an amazing game. I spent Wednesday night punching counters and lining up the divisions, and last night I set up Easy Fox and started learning the turn sequence.

I got halfway through turn one, during which one tank got delayed, one was destroyed, and the other two lost a step. Fortunately the only WN that got an armor bonus was out of range of the two remaining tanks... Tonight I get to take my action phase, and fire back (hopefully!), and then try to get through the rest of the scenario.

This system looks really well designed, and I think the iconography will be manageable once I get through a few turns. Even though I've heard the opposite opinion, I love the map. For me it is a great combination of representative images and clear markings.

This is my first real wargame (!), so I am learning several things at once, but so far it has been nothing but a positive experience.

I have now printed out the flipbooks, which will help me pick up the pace quite a bit, and I am really looking forward to getting chewed up on the beach. I'll update this entry with progress.

Edit: 7 Dec 2013
Well, I lost my 8th infantry unit on turn 7, when the red nests tore me up. I was about to lose at least one armored unit to the tide, and was going to have to decide on sacrificing another just to get an attack in that round.

This game is brutal, and really, really immersive. I want to set it up again and have another go at that stupid green nest! I almost had them!

The way the single deck of cards is used for so many different things, and the fact that almost everything can be resolved with just a few key tables, is just amazing. Great game.

Edit: 10 Dec 2013
Just beat Easy Fox after two days of thinking and scheming. The first six turns were a little nerve wracking, but I got quite a few full-strength infantry units across the danger zone. Armor never really helped much except for at the very end.

I got an early hero, and his unit ended up kicking over quite a few nests. The HQ made the second half much easier, and by the time General Wyman showed up we were just cleaning everything up. His boost to mobility helped me control the entire eastern draw by turn 16, plus all the VPs from the WNs I controlled at the end put me well over the 9pt target.

Now for the real scenarios. (!)
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65. Board Game: Cruel Necessity [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:1808]
Andy Cowen
United States
Union Springs
New York
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Two words: Crushing defeat. I think I need to spend more actions increasing the fortification level of Bristol and Hull, to try and hold up the North and West armies. I did win my first tactical battle though.
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66. Board Game: Thunderstone: Starter Set [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1996] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
Rick Noetzel
United States
Duluth
Georgia
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I bought this after watching Ricky Royal's solo play videos. It arrived yesterday and I sat down today with the solo rules from the Alderac website to try a couple games.

If you haven't played solo, the dungeon deck is a timer and creatures advance from the dungeon deck each turn. If they emerge from the dungeon before you kill them, they "raid the village" and count against you. If you kill them before they emerge, they join your deck, you get VP, etc. The game ends when the big boss either emerges or is killed.

I thought I did OK the first game...not great, but OK. Instead I lost by over 50 victory points. The second game was even worse and I got trounced by about 70 victory points. The poor village was getting slaughtered and I didn't see any way to make that stop happening. By the time I got a deck strong enough to kill the Level 2 and 3 monsters many of them were already outside the dungeon, munching on villager souffle, and counting against me.

This is where my motto of "if things are going badly in a new game, it's me - not the game" comes into play. So I reread the rules, can't see any errors I'm making, so I'm going with the "I suck at this game right now" conclusion. I need a lot more practice on rapidly building a deck that can kill the tougher monsters.

*Update*
I ran through 2 more games, tweeking my strategy in order to focus more on getting rid of low-value cards quickly and less on killing monsters. That improved my score to a best-ever -46.

Having 25-30 victory points of monsters leave the dungeon before I can begin killing things it is creating too large a hole for me to dig out of.

*Update 2: Electric Bugaloo*
I keep getting beaten at solo play, so I decided to buy Towers of Ruin. If I can't beat one module then I may as well buy more of the system and let it beat me too.

I'm still unpacking the new cards (and reveling in the heady new-card smell), but I played a solo game on the Wilderness board with the Starter cards. I eaked out a tie on the Easy board which means I still suck but I got a TIE! Maybe now my Hero cards will stop hiding in my Agricola box out of embarrassment.
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67. Board Game: Navajo Wars [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:1339]
Flabbergasted Rhino
Japan
Osaka
Kansai
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It's 3:06pm. Coffee is made. Floor heater is on under the table and Navajo Wars is setup on the table for initial run.

I tried to upload an image here but for some reason it loads up on it's side.

Oh well.

4:38 now and my slow progress through all the STOP and reads in the tutorial is making me feel moronic.


5:22 Gotta take a break. Where is this damn Tribal Diplomacy Chart? I'm seeing the Battle and Raid tables but no Diplomacy. Better go eat.

Got back to it this morning and finished up the tutorial. I'm still a little too fuddled on some of the systems to finish the scenario up so I am gonna have a watch of these videos and then jump back in.



Minor Victory or Minor Defeat?

So I finished off the scenario from where the tutorial left me but I am confused by the Franciscan Faction Ascendant card. Action number 1 states "Conduct two "Build" instructions (4.2.1)" and 4.2.1 states "Spend the APs required by the Instruction Counter". In this instance does the enemy need to spend AP in order to build or would these two build actions be "freebies" forcing me to place two Missions? If free it seems I've lost a minor defeat and if they must be paid for then a Minor Victory as the Enemy only has 2AP.
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68. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:69] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
John Farrell
Australia
Rozelle
New South Wales
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Et voici quelque chose hors du quotidien...

Je suis étudiant de français depuis quelques années, et je cherche toujours à trouver les moyens divers pour m'immerser dans cette langue. Quand j'ai entendu parle qu'il y aurait une version française de cet jeu, j'en avais envie immédiatement. Je possède déjà la version ancienne en anglais, et j'espèrais que les cas dans la nouvelle version seraient différents.

Je cherchais à philibertnet toute cette année pour qu'ils pourraient me vendre un exemplar, mais ils n'offraient jamais. Donc j'ai dû me débrouiller sans... jusqu'à nous sommes allés à Montréal il y a un mois. J'en ai trouvé un exemplar dans un petit boutique de jeux dans le RÉSO, et je l'ai acheté immédiatement (et "La Boca" aux même temps :-).

Nous étions revenus chez nous, et ma femme a dû partir encore une fois pour s'occuper de sa mère vieillie. Elle est partie pour plus d'un mois! J'avais autant envie de jouer à Détective Conseil que j'ai pris la boîte au lit, ou elle a resté jusqu'à aujourd'hui. Enfin, je me suis débarrassé de toutes les autres distractions, et je pouvais rester éveillé assezs longtemps pour jouer!

Donc j'ai essayé la première affaire, "LE MAGNAT DE MUNITIONS". Malheureusement, cette affaire existe dans la version ancienne du jeu, et j'y ai joué il y a plusieurs années. Le pire - je me souvenais de la piste la plus importante... donc j'ai decidé de ne pas essayer de concurrencer avec Sherlock Holmes, mais de tout simplement jouir de l'investigation, et surtout, de lire beaucoup des paragraphes pour peut-être apprendre des mots français.

Bien sûr, l'affaire m'était familière. J'ai trouvé de pistes, je les ai suivi, j'ai lu beaucoup. Enfin je suis allé à l'interrogation pour éxpliquer qui à tué le magnat de munitions, et pourquoi.

J'ai eu tort. J'ai complètement tort. Des huit questions, j'ai donné la bonne réponse à trois. Je ne savais rien. Qu'est-ce que s'est passé? Je ne sais pas vraiment. Peut-être ils ont changé la solution pour la nouvelle édition, peut-être je suis stupide. Je n'ai pas examiné la version anglaise parce que je ne voulais vous avertir s'il existe des modifications :-).

En tout cas, je ferai plus d'attention pour la deuxième affaire.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's something you don't see every day. I played this solitaire game in French, hence the report above. I thought it was only fair.

I've been studying French for a few years and I'm always looking for ways to involve myself in the language. When I heard there was a new version of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective coming out, I wanted it immediately. I already have the old English edition, so I hoped the new version would be a bit different.

I've been looking to buy this on philibertnet all year, but they never had it. So I had to go without... until we went to Montreal a month ago. I found a copy in a small games store in the underground shopping network and immediately bought it (and got "La Boca" while I was at it).

We came home, and my wife had to leave again to care for her aging mother. She's left for more than a month! I wanted to play this game so much I took this game into the bed with me, where it stayed until today. I finally got rid of all the other distractions, and was able to stay awake long enough to play it.

So I tried the first case, "The Munitions Magnate". Sadly this case is in the old edition, and I'd played it several years ago. Even worse, I remembered the most important clue. I decided to not try to compete with Sherlock Holmes, but to just enjoy the investigation, and especially, to read a lot of the paragraphs and learn some French words.

Of course, the case was familiar to me. I found some clues, I followed them, I read a lot. Finally I went to the quiz to show that I could explain who killed the munitions magnate, and why.

I was wrong. I was completely wrong. I only answered three of eight questions correctly. I knew nothing. What happened? Well I don't really know. Maybe they changed the solution for the new edition, maybe I'm just stupid. I didn't check the English edition because I didn't want to be able to tell you guys if they *had* changed it :-).

In any case, I'll pay closer attention in the second case.
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69. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked]
Mo
United States
Downingtown
Pennsylvania
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Mini Giveaway #2


Based upon last month's successful giveaway, I'm back with another round of solo gaming fun for all...well all who actually own this game. whistle

Here are the basics again:

I’m calling this a “giveaway” rather than a “contest” because I like how this geeklist regarding Snowdonia was setup. I’m more interested in the how and why aspect of your score, rather than your score itself.

With that being said, you are not required to write comments or post a pic of your session, but any you wish to provide will help the rest of us understand your strategy.

If you would like to participate, please post a comment to this geeklist item with your score(s). You may post more than one score, but you will only be entered in the random drawing once (see below). You must use the same two starting worlds I list so that everyone begins on the same footing. However, you may play at whichever difficulty level you normally do. (I play on Easy because I’m a wuss.)

Because of some leftover GG donations from last month, I am adding 7GG to my normal offer of 8 for a total of 15 to player with the highest score (you must have beaten the Robot however), and I will give 8 to one random participant (win or lose to the Robot). If any additional GG is donated to this item, I'll decide whether to divide among the two winners or choose more than one random winner.

The winners will be different. You can’t win twice though (the high score and random winner with be different). Any tie for high score will be broken by a geek die roll.

The giveaway will conclude at the end of December, and I will post the winners on January 1st. If you have any questions regarding this giveaway, just ask. Here are the starting worlds as decided by die rolls:



Player = Separatist Colony vs Robot = Alpha Centauri


(Believe it or not, I actually rolled the same two starting worlds as last time but reversed for Player and Robot. While that may have been interesting to see the outcomes compared to the first giveaway, I decided to roll again to mix it up a bit. Hope you don't mind. )

Obviously, this giveaway is based upon good sportsmanship and honesty since we are all playing solo, but I’m sure there won’t be any issues.

Good luck! I'm off to play my first session with this setup. meeple
Mo




EDIT 01-Jan-2014

Okay, my calendar says it's 2014, so it must be time to close December's GG Giveaway and hand out the prizes.

Our Top Score winner is: Ryan (Ryanmobile)
He is the proud recipient of 15 .

And since I received some additional funds for this item, I'm giving away 8 each to two random winners as decided by GeekRolls (your numbers are posted below for reference):

Random Winner # 1 1d4 = (4) = 4
Dave (yetirydr)

Random Winner #2 1d4 = (3) = 3
Chris (often)

Congrats to the winners!! If anyone has any questions or if I missed someone, please let me know. Thanks to everyone who participated this month. It wasn't quite as popular as November, but that's probably to be expected with so many new gifts & acquisitions this time of year, plus lots of family activities taking away from solitaire game time.

I was thinking that maybe for January, I'll try Snowdonia since several solo gamers seemed to have picked it up recently. Or maybe I'll take a month off. Not sure yet. We'll see.

See ya around.
Mo

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70. Board Game: Iron and Oak [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:5391]
Scott Key
United States
Knoxville
Tennessee
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This was, for years, my most anticipated game. Got it this spring, but haven't played it a whole lot, yet. Played the Wassaw Sound scenario again. Atlanta struck it's colors after running aground while pursuing a mortally damaged Nahant.

This game is one of those "a life time of play in one box" deals. It has a lot of scenarios, but it also has a really comprehensive campaign system which include DIY scenarios.

I think I'll start a campaign. I came to this game from The Kaiser's Pirates which has an awesome solo-system. Iron & Oak is a two player game, and you do sacrifice some by soloing it, but not much.

Highly recommend it, plus the subject matter is fascinating to read about...

EDIT:
First Campaign scenario: US passage, night 12/11

US Monitor Tecumseh and Sloop-of-War Steamer USS Hartford attempt a night passage across a torpedo laden sand-bar (Map D) guarded by the Confederate Ram Manassas.
The Manassas had a much easier time maneuvering than the Union ships did but was unable to ID either ship in the dark (and thus could not attack) eventually a brief fight ensued on top of the Bar where the Hartford grounded. The Tecumseh then blasted the Manassas' stern seriously damaging the hull, degrading the armor and killing the Captain. This rattled the crew enough so that they failed to make contact with the Hartford in a ram attack. The Hartford quickly refloated herself (the tide must have been rising) and Tecumseh crossed the bar (exiting the map and winning the game). The Manassas again failed to ram and the Hartford crossed the bar as well.

Very enjoyable scenario.
EDIT
Second Scenario| Confederate Escort (Night)
USS WINNEBAGO, USS manhattan & USS Minnesota vs CSS Palmetto State, CSS Selma & Steamer
The Confederates were running with a swift current so made it to the far end of the map but they were intercepted by the Manhattan. The USN had stationed each of it's three ships to cover the open lanes between torpedoes. The Mnahattan blasted the steamer with Grape Shot and holed it's stack. The Steamer tried to escape with the Selma attempting to ram the Manhattan but to no avail. The Winnebago and Manhattan ganged up on the Steamer and shot her to pieces. The Winnebago also rammed her which eventually sank the Steamer. The Palmetto State escaped but the Selma, which also had a stack hit and green crew, could not maneuver off the map and was rammed by the Manhattan and sank.
The Minnesota did engage the Palmetto State but was unable to join the general scrum.
This scenario lasted a good deal longer than the first, but the narrative feel was strong.
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chris leko
United States
Brooksville
Florida
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After reading some of the other play reports of this game I decided to pick it up. I tried to get a play in while the wife was out. I had a few thoughts as I played.

I only ended up playing 2 days. Maybe it's because I haven't really played B-17 much, or something, but I found the rulebook to this to be one of the worst I've seen recently. There's what I feel to be a large amount of clarifications and errata out there (though most are small things, like in Navajo Wars... but I had an easier time learning that game than this one). A number of the rules don't really show up where you think they would, and it doesn't really describe most stuff very well.

After I played my first day, the second went a lot smoother.

I also feel that it was a bit easy? Maybe, again, it's because I haven't played b-17, or that the dice that came with the game were loaded (...they did LOVE to roll 11), but I shot down about 9 plans and only had 2 miss me. I was sort of praying for one to ram right into my ship, but none of them did.

I was left with a question. If I deal 3 points of damage to a plane, do I still roll for it on Table 10?

I am a bit disappointed at the amount of errata and clarifications. This is my first game from Legion Games, and the rulebook is about as difficult to follow as Fields of Fire's second edition. For a game that really seems to be quite simple, it's sort of sad.

That being said, I enjoyed what I was doing. Choosing who to shoot at with what gun was fun (on my second day). The chart that was included seemed to speed up the process.

And the damage repair crew + other crew members component seems like an awesome idea. I just didn't get to see it in action, though I'm sure that will change the next time I play.

A side question. Why the heck are there so many planes? Looking in the charts, it seems like the biggest phase will have about 8 planes (unless there's something in a scenario I missed). The "draw cup" (I had to use a tupperware container) for the plans is massive, 1.) because the chits are quite large (not really an issue, but makes shuffling them hard), and 2.) there's a TON OF THEM. I wonder if the number could be cut down without screwing with game balance (don't know if there's a statistical model for this game like there is in Steel Wolves). Also, if the most number of planes the charts in the book go up to is about 8, why does the wave description go up to like 18? Does this account for the "special" attacks (of which I drew none).

I'm cautiously optimistic about this one. I like the bones of the game, and I'm excited about the narrative that will develop with my damage crews, I just don't think I've seen a ton of the game "in action" yet.

On a side note, I also got Bios: Megafauna in yesterday. Found it on BGG for 25 bucks! I downloaded the new rulebook and read through it. The game doesn't seem that difficult at all, quite a bit simpler than High Frontier, so I think that one will be next to the table. Then I might just rotate through those 4 games for the rest of the month. Until the Hunters comes in... though I might give that a shot on VASSAL tonight after the baby goes to bed.

*edit* Removed the last sentence fragment...*/edit*
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72. Board Game: Bibliogamo [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:11249]
Kuhns, party of four!
United States
Muncy
Pennsylvania
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...the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
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I got in two plays of this the other night. I have a review pending. I like this game as a simple worker placement game with a reasonably intriguing and immersive (at times) theme. It does fall short at times, but then it's a pretty slim design, which makes it go smoothly. Tension was a difficult thing though. Game 1 was tension free which left it boring, but game 2 was very tense and down to the wire and much more fun.
Edit:
My review is through the mods now: Middle of the road review
And I played again last night, accomplishing 2 collections, though I think in the future I'm going to continue to force myself to complete collections even when I can't, and maybe on collect VP from the collections? have to think about that one. I'm looking for a way to get negative points if I stink it up.
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73. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:365]
Mo
United States
Downingtown
Pennsylvania
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Score:
17 = Purple
18 = Orange
29 = Red
29 = Yellow
30 = Green
30 = Blue

So I really enjoy this game, but I don't get a chance to play it very often. After Brian and I seemed to be the only ones interested in this game for a potential GG giveaway, I decided to give it a go for the fun of it.

I played this once before with the solo rules, but it was quite a while ago and I scored it incorrectly. So, I'm taking this as my first "real" solo session. And it was fun! Okay, not nearly as good as a multiplayer session, but I still enjoyed myself.

The concern with the solo game seems to be the luck factor. In a multiplayer game you are blocking and trying not to get blocked by other players. There is a nice back and forth and planning of moves with your rack of six tiles. In the solo game, you only draw one tile at a time, so you have no way to plan ahead. Obviously, you are going to draw all of the colors at some point, but the luck of the draw is definitely a factor here.

Otherwise, I still think it is worth solitaire play if 1) you really don't have much chance to play it otherwise (as I do) and 2) you get get as much pleasure from the aesthetics of creating the colorful board as you do from trying to achieve a high score (again, as I do).

Purple was my trouble spot most of the game, and that being my low score shows it. I didn't have much Purple early in the game, and by mid-game, I had blocked myself off from Purple at the top of the board. I needed to add Purple elsewhere and hope to draw the right tiles. I did make up some ground, but it was not enough to get all six colors onto the second score track, which was my goal for this first solo play. Maybe next time.

Okay, Brian, let me know how you do!!
(anyone else, feel free to give it a play as well)

Here is a progression of pics taken every 10 tiles or so. Oooohh...pretty (well, if I had used a nicer camera, it would be ):









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74. Board Game: Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:323]
Ryan
United States
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Lone Warrior
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I finally played my first game today. Incomplete, as I quit somewhere near the end of the 1st deck when I realized I'd been playing the 1st recruit box wrong on the Jihadist flowchart every turn. All day I looked at that and thought, "This doesn't seem correct." Turns out I can't do the simplest math and did the complete opposite of what I should have done. On the simplest block as well. Oh well, I R DUM.

Initial impressions are very favorable. Though I realized quickly that while the included play throughs and the online video tutorials were incredibly helpful (and recommended!), this is one of those games that you have to bruise your way through for a few hours to really understand. This one has to be learned though hard work and making mistakes. There are so many different card interactions that I had to take a lot of time to think things through.

That's not a slam on the rules or the included play through (a big help). I found the rules enjoyable to read; additionally I think they are organized very well. There's just a lot going on. The flowchart is intimidating at first, but as I started to internalize the process, I found I didn't have to refer to it for many of the Jihadist card draws.

Labyrinth seems like it will offer a great challenge when played. In the 5 or 6 turns I played, it felt like nothing came easy as the U.S. player. Even when I knocked Jihadist funding down to tight and had eliminated a lot of cells, the Jihadist AI would throw me some very unanticipated curves. It was actually really fun to have my plans derailed so skillfully. Kind of felt like I was playing a real opponent. I started with the Regime Change in Afghanistan deployment (probably a standard move, I'm guessing) and couldn't improve Afghanistan's government from poor to fair in the 5 or 6 turns I played. I also couldn't improve any other nation's government either. Most of my time seemed spent on eliminating cells and countering plots. I was just getting to the point when I thought I could really start working on governments when I got thrown a major curve by the AI, then realized I'd been playing the rule wrong.

Anyway, I'm happy with this game and will try to get in a full game or two over the next few days.

Edit: 9 December 2013

Played halfway through a second game. Came to a better understanding of the rules and realized I'd been playing quite a few small ones incorrectly. So it's back to the beginning again and off to start game 3; hopefully to completion this time.

As for some commentary from my game: Halfway through a 3 deck game and I CAN'T get out of Afghanistan! I try and I try. I've been on the cusp of successful regime change at least twice; once a failed die roll, once or twice due to incredibly unlucky timing with certain Jihadist event cards; and most frequently with unresolved Plots that tank my Prestige, remove Aid, inflate Jihadist funding, and almost always worsen any progress in Governance from Fair to Poor. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Then Somalia went to Islamic Republic and then Algeria went to Islamic Republic. And most of the world wants to go Soft. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Edit: 29 December 2013

I've now played 5 games (I went on a Labyrinth binge), but due to Christmas travelling and a week without internet that started during my binge playing I haven't been able to update my plays yet. I'll add a mini-review to the comments below this item(hopefully today) since this area has so much text.
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