GCL Phoenix 153: Are You Sitting Comfortably? (2013-12-08)
Albatros
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Victoria
British Columbia
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ABOUT GCL mb PHOENIX DIVISION mb SUBSCRIPTION THREAD

If you're a lurker or have otherwise discovered GCL Phoenix, feel free to read along with us and see what the members have to say on everything under the sun. Everyone is welcome to make constructive comments, but please leave adding items to members.

Phoenix Roster
archivists
chally
Dormammu
Eeeville
indigopotter
Lowengrin
Morganza*
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
Taibi
tjshields
woodnoggin

*Next week's host.


Pull up a chair and make yourselves comfortable. We're going to play a Eurogame and through it spin a story that will put us on the edge of our seats, I promise. The days of abstract, tacked on themes are gone, after all, it's 2013. El Grande is so 1995.
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1. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:320]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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I've seen it postulated around BGG that it's no longer enough to just paste a theme on a Euro and expect people will embrace the game. That theme is at least as important as mechanics and playability, and the most successful Euros of 2013 prove it beyond all shadow of a doubt.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers is currently the top ranked game of the Essen 2013 crop. Is it really more thematic than Power Grid (2004) or Tigris & Euphrates (1997)...?

Discuss, tossing any Euros you'd like into the mix!



* Although I can't of course find the references now.... shake
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2. Board Game: Rock, Paper, Stick, Scissors, Glue [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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If theme is so 2013, why do many people refer to Stefan Feld* as one of the hottest Euro game designers today? He's the arch-villain of the glued on theme.

Isn't he?



*And how come we always have to talk about this guy?
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3. Board Game: Tell Me a Story: Fairytale Mix-ups [Average Rating:5.79 Unranked]
Albatros
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Victoria
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Maybe it isn't really theme that we should be talking about so much as story. Do Euro games in 2013 tell a better story than those from a decade or more ago? Can a Euro with a pasted on theme even play out as a story?

And if Feld is the king of Euros with pasted on themes, who is the king of the story-telling Euro (if such a thing exists)?



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4. Board Game: Shakespeare: The Bard Game [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:11077]
Albatros
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How much does theme influence your liking/disliking a game? How important is it to you that a game play out like...well...like a play?

Do you find some games are more interesting in the retelling than in the actual play?
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5. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:138]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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Ascension + Expansion (12)
Seasons + Expansion (10)
Lewis & Clark (1)

---

More Ascension on iOS. Some of the games were against real-life friends. Not much to say about Ascension that hasn't already been said. As for iOS, this week there will be an IAP for Pandemic available with all of the On the Brink roles and events. On one hand this makes me happy: a LOT more variability which is one of the reasons I like the OTB expansion so much. As well as the fact it wasn't too long of a wait for this content. On the other hand, I don't like how they're dividing the expansion piecemeal, for more money. Overall, the good outweigh the bad and I'm definitely going to purchase it.

Played more Seasons and it was all against a real-life friend. Not much to say here, except that I look forward to the new expansion coming in March. This might sound weird, but Seasons keep growing in esteem and may actually be vying for the top spot in my collection. My top 3 are BSG (which is #1), Seasons and Troyes. While I absolutely love BGS, it's hard for me to get to the table, it's kinda long, and there are now so many expansions and ways to configure the game, I don't know the optimal way. This is hardly a detractor to the game, but simply a reason why Seasons could end up taking the top spot.

---

Lewis and Clark. Wow! This game is really interesting. It's definitely the sort of game I would like in that there is resource management, card combos, and hand management. Basically there are 7 types of resources to manage: wood (typically used for upgrading you resource/Indian capacity), fur (typically for card acquisition), equipment (also for card acquisition), food (typically for movement along the river), canoes (more efficient movement along the river), horses (movement along the mountains), and Indians (playing cards, strengthening card effects, and board play). Besides the unique score track, I find it interesting that you can navigate resource acquisition through card play and through the board. There are many things to consider between the card play, the board play, the score track, and how your resource management affects the score track. There are aspects of this game that I didn't even try in my first game: I didn't cull a single card from my deck, I didn't use the space on the board that allows you to copy card effects, and I didn't purge the card acquisition track once. There is definitely a lot of space to explore (pun intended). Beyond the mechanisms of this game, the game is not only gorgeous but also has a really nice historical flair. I hadn't even heard of Lewis and Clark and if it wasn't for reading about the game on BGG, if someone had talked to me about the game, I probably would have thought Lois & Clark, the new adventures of superman. The rule book not only talks about the expedition, but also gives a card-by-card historical blurb about every character card. Even more impressive is that every players starting characters which are mechanically identical, have unique names, illustrations, and historical information.

This actually has, in my opinion, a fair bit in common with Concordia. I say this because there is a card market that escalates in cost and when you purchase from it the card goes to your hand. In both games you will play cards down and at a time of your choosing (up until you no longer have a choice) you can get all of your played cards back. Also, in each game, your turn is structured in such a way that you play a card from your hand (you have extra options in L&C though). There are more similarities than that, but what makes them different? Concordia marries the victory conditions to cards in your deck with a spatial map and unique resource acquisition. I think of L&C's race track as a VP track with rivers spaces being one type of VP and mountain spaces being another. L&C marries unique victory conditions to some cards with a worker placement mechanism on the board. Both are really solid but right now I would give the nod to L&C. I say this because L&C has better artwork, has a less annoying to set-up, it has a solo option, I like how the cards can be activated at multiple times depending on the allocation of resources (ala Troyes, slightly different though), there is no positioning for ending the game for bonus points, the camp/race track is more interesting than VP multipliers (though the multiplier hides the leader much better), and again... that artwork. Wow!

I do have a minor quibble that have to be mentioned. The game sometimes feels very... gamey. In some respects anyway. Before I give an example, I'll just say that having too many resources on your player board and having cards in your hand can impede your victory condition. So, you can play cards and not do anything with them. In regards resources, the game rules specifically say you can't ever dump resources unless you go above capacity but you can take less than you need anytime you would acquire resources. So, you can also place Indians on the board, block certain spaces, and not do anything with it. Actually there are 2 space on the board that allow you to place 1-3 Indians at a time and these spaces have unlimited capacity (ie you can't block the spaces). You can do this to trigger the space 3 times, but it feels gamey to place 3 there at a time and not do anything in the space simply because I have too many Indians in my expedition. Also, in one of the two previously mentioned spaces you may discard 3 different types of resources (including a horse) to produce one horse and you can do this a number of times equal to the 1-3 Indians you place there. Oh look, I have too many non-Indian resources and Indians with having to set up camp soon because my cards are used up. I guess I'll send 3 Indians to the horse space. I'll activate it two of my three times because I don't have enough resources to do it thrice but I still want to get rid of an Indian. So, I'll trade a horse, a fur and a piece wood for one horse and then 1 piece of equipment, another fur and another horse for a horse. That just feels incredibly gamey to me. I'm more of a fan of mechanisms compared to theme though, so I can put it out of my head. I just thought I would mention it because it's wonky.

If you like any of the following, don't hesitate to at least try this game: worker placement, resource management, card combos, racing and hand management. Right now, I rate it a 7 (I always like to be conservative with my first play). I can easily see this going to an 8 or possibly 9 with repeated play and don't see it ever falling below a 7. This will likely be in my collection for quite a while.

---

In Other News...

Exams start tomorrow. I'm going to be pretty busy and likely will not be playing any games until Friday, if at all.

Really looking forward to going home and trying the games that are sitting in the boxes in my living room. I think the day I arrive home will feel more like Christmas day, than Christmas day itself. I know this is mostly repeating myself but there has been some slight alterations. Here's what should be there:

-Ascension Promos
-God's Playground
-Haggis
-Pixel Tactics 1 & 2 + Promos
-Resistance: Coup + Kickstarter Promos... I also printed this out, so that I can try the expansion with this version of the game.
Rokoko
-A Study in Emerald

I'm most looking forward to playing A Study in Emerald. I wonder how many players I should include for the first game.

Here is what will ship to me as soon as Alien Artifacts arrives at my friendly online gaming store:

-Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition
-Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts
-Russian Railroads

Despite selling all of the current Sentinels stuff I've sold, I'll still be receiving Sentinels of the Multiverse: Vengeance in February. I'll likely try all of the heroes and villains before trying to offload it.

Hopefully I can try to not buy anything else until around next Essen, as I have a lot of great games that either haven't been played or haven't been played enough. Of course I'll still pick up expansion though.
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6. Board Game: Patchistory [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:781]
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:
_9_ Patchistory
_7_ Coup (x2)
_6_ The Resistance
_6_ Rococo
_4_ Rapidcroco
_3_ Bremerhaven


Gaming Notes:
Long game day yesterday, but sadly only one game that ranks among my favorites. Lots of game ratings trending downward after multiple plays.



meeple
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7. Board Game: The Capitals [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1550]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Only 2 games this week. Life is like that sometimes.

Monday night at Y!

JC's 1839, 3p

Me, JC, Daniel. Another playtest of JC's 1839 prototype.

Worried about the insane train rush, I declined to float a second company, but in this version of the game trains actually ran long enough to pay for themselves. Not a good showing for me. :-(

Friday night at Jeremy's

The Capitals, 3p

Me (second play), teaching Don and Jeremy.

Oh, this game was a mess. My Prosperity tiles were all over the map, the tiles I needed didn't show up (i.e. I had a tile that gave me +6$ for activating an Industry tile, but I only saw one Industry with an activation all game), I had no cash flow and no culture so I kept getting shorted. I did at least max out employment and population before the end of the game.

At least Jeremy and I scored as much as Don... when we put our scores together.

Run time was about 4 hours, but it felt much shorter. Still very absorbing to try to figure out how to help a struggling city thrive.
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8. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:996]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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König von Siam x2
Metropolys x2
Pax Porfiriana x1
Fifth Avenue x1
Unpublished Prototype x1

Sticheln x1 hand
Impulse x half a game over breakfast for a learning game
Santiago x.5 had to quit at the halfway point

I went up to Seattle and met up with Ben and a few of his friends for gaming this Saturday.

Both König von Siam were 4-player partnership games and were excellent. This has such a delicious tension with so few moving parts and, in a day of learning and teaching games, probably had the best sustained immersion of the day.

I'm reserving opinion on Chudyk's latest. We got about half way through a game over breakfast before meeting the others, so I got a good sense of the core gameplay but didn't get a sense for the gaming narrative, whether it has a dramatic arc and the... I don't know... suddenness that distinguishes his big two. I can't tell if it's thematic spareness in appearance will fill with play. Ben has played it a few times and I trust his opinion that it has Chudyk's combinatory richness as the game deepens, so I look forward very much to another play but I'm not running out to by it, I still like Innovation so much more!

And Pax Porfiriana, oh what a crazy game. A 4-player teaching game, an extravagance that I hope pays off if it's made another convert. Holy cow this game is hard to teach! Ben won a very well earned victory with a revolution topple, taking us by surprise. We had a big economy going, and I was positioned for a command topple, in tie with another player but my money would've brought me the tie-braking win. Ben foiled it with a headline stripping my funds to finance the topple, and the next player played red troops with a command badge (weirdass troops, them... the thematic exceptionalism of this game is just brilliant) to help stave me off. I was feeling cocky, even without a topple I felt good about my economy and the potential for taking it long..... well, Ben took it before it came back around...

Ooops gotta go! More later...
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9. Board Game: Starship Merchants [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:2855]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 7Dec2013:

6/6/429 plays of 5/5/195 total games, with 1/1/43 expansions employed.
Plays with 7/7/95 distinct opponents.

0/0/33 games acquired (plus 0/0/16 expansions.)
0/0/14 games ordered (plus 6/6/11 expansions.) I claim a moment or two of insanity.
Orders for 6 games and 7 expansions still outstanding.

With a few of the Wednesday Night guys:
1x _7.3_ Inkognito (78 months dusty) - I'd previously played it with my kids; and when they were quite young, at that. In the hands of sane adults it becomes quite an amusing deduction/race game, with a significant (and amusing) game arc. In this one, Tim and I identified one another as collaborators before our opponents figured out they were a team. The game came down to a very tight (and random!) race at the end - which, strangely, felt quite appropriate. I'd be happy to play it again (and am a bit sad I never tried to inflict it on my Dad; he'd've enjoyed it.)
1x _7.7_ Samarkand: Routes to Riches - Fast; friendly; amusing. Not earth-shakingly significant - nor, indeed, anything remotely resembling that state. But it's easy to explain, and the decisions seem to matter: the "best player" (not me!) won.

With son #2:
2x _7.7_ Starship Merchants - This is working really well for us: we split this pair of games, and managed to set progressively higher "largest score seen!" awards in each one. I'm confident a larger score is possible, but I managed to finish with $254 in the second game - after hitting the dock in my penultimate round with a total of $147 and electing to "go around again." Our first games were fairly multiplayer-solitaire things; but we're learning how to mess with one another a bit more as each game goes by. It's quite entertaining.
1x _7_ Galaxy Trucker (52 months dusty) (with The Big Expansion (56 months dusty)) - The youngster was delighted with this one. Which surprised me a bit: I'd've thought that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune here would prove too much for him. But he rolled with the perils gleefully, and particularly enjoyed it when I succumbed to a Sabotage roll in the third flight that took out my control room and blew my ship in half. I suspect we might play this again.

With the Friday Lunch gang:
1x _7.3_ The Palaces of Carrara New! - Ooh; quite charming. I was perhaps a bit insane, but I played this (much like I do RftG, in fact) as a sprint to the end line. Unfortunately for a couple of my opponents, they were playing it to maximize their (eventual) score; and they were caught a bit off guard when the game ended. Richard knows me too well, and was ready for the (silly? reasonable? who knows?) pace change: we finished only a couple points apart.

Owned-and-unplayed: 10 (+0/-0).

Outlook for the week: Chance of playing 1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties later this week; possibility of Sail to India Friday lunch; perhaps a game or two with my youngsters (though I think daughter #1 may be again too busy this week with concert prep.)
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10. Board Game: God's Playground [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:1382]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Despite missing my Wednesday game night, I managed to salvage a pretty good week of gaming.

Race for the Galaxy x 2

My wife and my neighbor each like this one as much as I do. We did 3-player with Gathering Storm and Rebel vs Imperium (go to hell, Brink of War).

Gosu x 2

It was so very fun to play this again after 3 years of collecting dust on the shelf. I hope to be playing this on a weekly basis for a while, eventually maybe mixing in Gosu: Kamakor (which I have yet to play with at all).

Coup x 1

My Kickstarter copy arrived this week, so I introduced it to the neighbors. It was a 3-player game just for the sake of learning the rules and the flow. The see the potential (and so do I) but it clearly needs 5 or 6 players. It might become an opener/closer for Wednesday nights.

God's Playground x 1

Not a competitive game, but oh sweet baby Jesus do I love God's Playground! My play log:

I dominated this one from buzzer to buzzer. I lead early and never relinquished. I focused on Greater Poland and Lower Poland, dipping my toes into Lithuania on occasion.

I never spent any of my council discs, turning them into points instead - except for on the last round. Most of my estates were the lower value ones (and less vulnerable to attack). The council had 3 of Carl's discs, 1 of Bryan's and 1 of mine (unlike the previous turns). The Ottomans and Habsburgs had canceled each other nicely in round 3, so the Ottomans were weak. The main threats were elsewhere, so I did the Liberum Veto, wiping out everyone's council discs and making it so the King's Army would offer little support. The resulting invasion cost me one of my 3-point estates, but hurt the others much worse. I also did Jesuit schools in turn 3 and 4. Carl got both city markers (but lost one).

In the end, the scores were 73-36-35. I feel like I played Bryan quite a bit; I never bothered using the King's Army because I figured he'd do it - and he did. He keeps the walls up and I score the points.


I played Bryan like a harp. devil

My only concern is that it might have soured them on the game. I hope not.

Legends of Andor x 1

We finished with a quick 3-player game of this to introduce the game to Carl. We used the intro scenario again and it was way too easy. Turns out we bungled something major. Whoops.



Coming up on finals at school for the Fall semester. I also have an interview/paperwork thing for the supplemental instructor job I'll be starting next semester. Gotta make that money, yo.
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11. Board Game: Wildlife Safari [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1299]
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United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Botswana 4 - new!
Catan Dice (with Extra map) 2

Played 4 games of Botswana with my Rage deck and plastic cubes I won on Games for Geekgold (they come in very handy). The three trash cards are what make it interesting - in one game, three fours were trashed. You don't know if your opponent is holding back the last card to tank the stock price, or if it's out of the game. In one game, I made Sam's blue cubes worth 0. It's simple enough for my dad to play, but I'm not sure if he would enjoy it. It's probably better as a filler with gamers (WriteGamer).

We also played two games of Catan Dice with the Extra map, but Sam won both of those, so we won't talk too much about them...

I'm looking forward to trying other games with the Rage deck, and my ArtsCow deck should be here any day now.
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12. Board Game: Yedo [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:450]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_7_ Yedo x1


The Week in Review

S continues to be more into quilting than gaming so it's been another sparse week. It doesn't help that the weather has been below freezing and our dining room is probably the coldest room in the house.

Just the one game of Yedo, probably the best yet. Another like that and I may adjust my rating up a notch.

I read the rules to De Vulgari Eloquentia last night as bedtime reading. As much as they made me more curious to play it, they made me wonder how I'd teach them to S without her losing all patience during the explanation. The moon and stars will have to align perfectly to get the first game of this going smoothly.


The Week Ahead

My order from France has cleared customs and is in Montreal. Canada Post is saying at least another week.

K may come over this Saturday in which case we'll play the first scenario of the second cycle of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - something about the Road to Rivendell. Maybe more if we get through it.

Oh, and one more thing. It looks like Z-Man Games' Essen 2013 crop is due to hit the shores of Canada this week. So I'm putting together my Christmas shopping list. If there's one thing I do know, S isn't going to buy any for me.
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13. Board Game: A Study in Emerald [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:594]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Scrabble
-8- A Study in Emerald New! (x3)
-8- Love Letter
-7.5- Alice in Wonderland Parade (x3)
-7- Concordia
-7- Fauna
-7- The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet
-7- Sleuth
-7- Town Center (+Expansion No.1 New!) (x2)
-5- Saint Malo (x2)

Scrabble, Saint Malo and Town Center were quick two-player games at home. We used the Paris board for Town Center which has different adjacencies but it felt like there were fewer viable building options. Black cubes were highly prized, to make the elevators we needed to avoid unprofitable suburban building. (I'm not sure why they're called elevators in the game. To me, cranes would make more sense - you're using them to enable the creation of taller buildings.)

Saint Malo has been unplayed since last Essen and after last week's two games, I can't see that changing. Even two player, Kate thinks the downtime is intolerable for this sort of game. I get annoyed by the dry-erase markers - the ink smudges too easily and it's hard to scrub off your skin. In the first game, I built up my defences quickly to avoid the pirate attacks, then collected lots of gold to enable me to adjust the dice to what I wanted. In the late game, I was buying Nobles and Jesters each turn, so that went well. In the second game, we pretty much swapped strategies, with Kate pushing the pirates to attack while I went for churches. I got so many churches and priests that my endgame scoring went off the board, but pirate negatives brought me back to a sensible number.

Wednesday night gaming
We squeezed an extra player into Love Letter (there were five of us) and it's not great with so many. You get too few turns that way, and wins are spread across more players so even playing "first to three" took too long. Still a fun game, though.

Concordia was requested ("Let's play that Roman game!") and Jake won it comfortably with a Mars colonist strategy plus a Tools monopoly. I went heavily into Cloth, grabbing the Weaver and all the Cloth cities, but concentrating on that left me with little board presence elsewhere and I was not competitive. I was wondering whether you could just concentrate on one area, keep producing there repeatedly and use the goods to buy lots of cards instead of spreading out across the board. After trying that here to some extent, I'm not convinced it can work - a balanced approach seems to be better as otherwise all the multipliers you've bought aren't worth much. If you could buy enough cards to rush the end of the game before anyone else has bought any of those multipliers, it might go OK, but I doubt this can be done fast enough to produce a winning score.

Again, it was easy to teach the two new players and they picked it up quickly.

Weekend games
The Little Prince took too long with five players (two new). Sleuth hurt people's heads and prompted another discussion of "is this even fun?" I got lucky with my opening hand of gems, drawing three diamond clusters. The missing gem was the fourth in that set, so it wasn't too difficult for me to work out the answer. Fauna saw Kate's knowledge of small animals come into play to good effect.

We had a hilarious game of Parade where Simon's opening hand was so terrible, he was forced to take one card of each colour on his second turn. So the game ended with most players having no cards in front of them and the choice of which two cards to keep from your hand was crucial. Scores were 1-2-3-4-9.

A Study in Emerald
We almost played this on Wednesday, but I'm glad I saved it until I'd read the rules again. This was tricky to teach the first time with 11 different actions, plus special effects on many cards. I taught two different groups and both times I left the revelation that there were vampires in the game until late in the rules explanation. Both times it was met with WTF expressions and gales of laughter. There's just so much going on here, Martin seems to have thrown everything he could think of into the game, it's completely bonkers.

Our first game was a baffling learning experience, taking a while for us to understand what was going on, then suddenly ending. Kate created a load of zombies as a distraction before assassinating Jen's lone agent to end the game. I'd just crafted the perfect hand to blow up Gloriana when the game ended, so didn't get the chance to implement my master plan. In this game, we got the rules for Hiding Royalty wrong, thinking you could do it as an Assassinate Royalty action. When the Hide Royalty card appeared later in the game, we realised we'd played it wrong, but we let Matt keep his points. The rules density was too much for Jen, but the rest of us were keen on trying it again. I rated it a 6 after this play and honestly expected it could go either up or down considerably in future.

The second game was crazy, with vampires and zombies available from the start and three new players not really knowing what was going on. Free Actions were hotly contested. I grabbed Diogenes Club and a couple of Freemasons to whizz through my deck each turn. The others groaned that I'd made a boring Dominion Village deck, while I was searching for my zombies to play them repeatedly. I got all eight onto the board, but knew I couldn't end the game with them because I wasn't in a winning position. I've a feeling Jake didn't quite get all the rules because he assassinated Kate's Main Agent to end the game, handing the win to Nik who had been happily collecting cities throughout. This game was great.

We were going to pack it away and play something else when it became apparent that everyone wanted to try it again. Having seen the power of the Diogenes Club in the first game, Simon went straight for it this time. Nik responded by annihilating Madrid with Cthulhu. goo It was an exciting start, but after that it went downhill. Everyone went for cities and contested them back and forth. Lots of blocking discs were used and it felt like a dull Eurogame - nothing thrilling happened. It transpired that Simon had the same plan as me, namely to push the War track up. While we were spending precious actions doing this, Nik as the other Loyalist was consolidating his city points. He revealed and claimed victory at 22 VPs.

This time the game was rather boring. I'm hoping that's a blip based on Group Think and the cards that had come out on top of each pile. There were lots of agents available and very few cards with interesting effects. None of us really went for the agents - the Restorationists went for one each to protect their Main Agent, but there's no great rush for Loyalists to get them. Looking back, I think it would have been better if I'd grabbed some agents as they can be effectively used as Influence cubes that don't leave the board to Limbo, so they can protect your cities somewhat. I get a feeling A Study in Emerald will be like Battlestar Galactica, where occasionally the cards will come out in such a way that the game just falls flat. Still, there's a lot to think about and plenty of different paths you can go down and I'd be very surprised if there was one unbeatable strategy. Martin seems to have learned some lessons on deck thinning and has only included a single card (that I could see) which trashes other cards, and then only at the glacially slow rate of one card at a time.

Aside from the dull city-based tactics everyone was taking, I found the last game less fun because I was unable to cycle through cards quickly. I was stuck with certain cards in hand (the two bombs card being the main culprit) for much of the game and didn't feel like I was being very effective. In future, I'd prioritise getting some card manipulation powers, and maybe even use up the double bomb card as an Assassinate Royalty even if I was a Loyalist, just to stop it from clogging up my hand!

Current rating is 8, because the second play through was so good, I can see this being a firm favourite. It has a high degree of chaos, but I think navigating that chaos is the enjoyable part. It's a wild ride, but I can see it's not going to fit for everyone. I'm really looking forward to trying it again and I think this will go down well at Winter StabCon after Christmas.
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14. Board Game: High Frontier [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:782]
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

_9_ Magic: The Gathering 1
_8_ Pandemic 1
_7_ High Frontier 1
_7_ Rallyman 1
_4_ Ascension: Deckbuilding Game 1

Week in Review

A quieter week than I realized, especially since Pandemic and Ascension were plays sitting on the couch over an iPad with the gf. Of note was that Pandemic was a win on heroic difficulty. That was quite sweet!

Mid-week I brought Rallyman to the table. This is one of those funky little games that never got much buzz but I picked up based on a couple of enthusiastic reviews. I found it interesting but only got to play one incomplete game before it went back on the shelf. Nearly two years later, I dragged it out for another try.

Rallyman is basically a push-your-luck dice game with a thematic framework based on racing. It uses a very clever method for mapping the theme onto the mechanics, as dice represent gears and players use the gear dice to traverse the track in the least number of moves and/or the highest possible gears. At the end of each race leg, each player adds up their time and finds out who is leading. A standard game is played over three legs. There are also elements such as car damage and track deterioration. It's quite a clever game, but I don't know many players who fit the profile for enjoying it:

Push your luck. Racing theme. Simulation detail. Longish game time (a full game is three track sections, each a different short-length race).

An interesting thing about this game was that our first leg saw players complaining there were few decisions to make and the game seemed too easy. But the race results were not what people expected (it can be hard to tell, since players are racing spaced out across the track for total time results so you can't tell by relative position who is winning). The second leg saw a lot more pushing at various strategies. We didn't have time for a third leg, so once again I couldn't get a complete game. Another year and a half until it gets played? Sad.

On Sunday, I played High Frontier, which had also been languishing for a very long time. This was a fun, four-player session featuring three players who had played 1-3 times and one complete new player. We all had to refresh the rules but no one felt time pressure. We played the base game without the expansion content.

High Frontier continues to be very tricky to grok but unlike my other full play, this one didn't seem quite as rushed. That first time, the game ended in a way that felt very premature. This one saw more back and forth, especially because most of us made at least one crucial calculation error. The solar system was littered with the debris of our poor planning.

I quite like this game. It's the only Eklund game I have played other than Pax Porfiriana and it has the same wild experience game feeling. I won the game on the basis of developing a very powerful thruster which could only be built in space factories (like most of the best technologies in the game). It seemed imbalanced in the base game because it had incredible thrust capabilities that are balanced only by excessive heat generation, but the base game doesn't use radiator tech so I ignored the drawback.

Still in all, it was very fun and left us wanting to try again (who knows whether that will actually happen).

That night, we played an epic, four-hour EDH game (Magic) that was very well balanced with each player taking it in turn to stop the dangerous move of another. In the end, I killed 2/3 opponents and would have killed the third but she managed to mill me out with Traumatize and Mind Crank! I was playing a monoblack deck which I have been tweaking and tuning for several months. I think it's pretty close to where I want it, though there are 2-3 other cards I'd like to try out.
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15. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:138]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Glory to Rome x1
My oldest son thought he had the game won so ended it and didn't realize with the little bit more in my vault I was able to pull ahead 28 to 24, while my youngest son had only 10 for some reason. The three of us are pretty comfortable with the mechanics of the game now.

_8_ Lewis & Clark x1
Just finished first game with my youngest son and my wife while my oldest son was locked away finishing a school project. We all liked this quite a bit. I was able to surge ahead and camp for the win at the end of my turn partly due to thinning my deck a dew times earlier.

There's a lot to think about here, and I quite like the hand management, the different abilities of cards and resources, and the crazy camping action, which caught us all off guard a few times where we wanted to camp, but argh, wanted to pick up helpers or resources, which would set me back too far. Juggling the timing of things was annoying in the best fun way where you are trying to line up dominoes while the cat is walking around knocking them down too soon with a careless tail swipe. Neat.
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16. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:451]
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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_8.5_ Kingdom Builder x 12

I'm just adding Kingdom Builder last week - Rich taught us the other weekend - we got it out after they left on the Sunday evening, and it has been on the dining room table since.

We're really enjoying this one. Short, not too repetitive and just enough blocking to keep it entertaining without being nasty.

I'm afraid Troyes looks like it will be going on the trade pile (as predicted by Rich) but very happy to have learnt another fun game.

_10_ Magic the Gathering x12

I didn't make Rugby on Board last week or this, but did manage to get to Friday night Magic. I built a version of the Rakdos (Red/Black) blitzy haste deck that made a surprise win at a recent big event in Santiago, but which has vanished without trace since. It utilises multiple black/red creatures that can attack the turn they come into play, with limited spells to remove opposing blockers and efficient creatures that grant benefits making them harder to block or produce zombie tokens on death.

I went 3-1 but the decks I played weren't that strong and further testing against more competitive decks revealed the Rakdos blitz dies to just about any removal and either of the very popular red or white aggro decks.

My wife's encouraging me to go to a Pro Tour Qualifier event this coming weekend, but I'd decided it would end in embarrassment. I'm away most of this week and without time to build an alternative and was going to pull out, fortunately one of the other Rugby players who can't make it is lending me their deck, so I'm going to pilot it.

This will be my first big competition in many years and looking forward to it with both some excitement and trepidation. A sizeable contingent is driving up from Rugby and it should be a fun day.

I'll let you know how I get on - I'm aiming to win at least 2 matches.
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