GCL Mafia 155: Snow much more
Matthew C
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the GameChat League concept, please see the GCL Mafia wiki page. If you would like to be notified each week when a new list is posted, Subscribe Here.

Our current roster in order of preparation (next week's poster in bold):

mattbcha1
eapeas
touchstonethefool
fdubois
Happymrdave
Dolus
ecargo
McJarvis
badweasel
mith

The first few items are intended to foster discussion.

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of December 30- January 5, 2014. List any games played along with any other information that you deem appropriate. Also, feel free to give life updates, fun facts, or any other super exciting and utterly interesting thoughts you may have.
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1. Board Game: Dust Tactics [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:1795] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Matthew C
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It's the new year, so what better time to think over our past year? The theme of this week is to look over our collections and how our habits have (or have not) changed in the past year.

Take a look at your collection. What games have you not played in the past year (limit it to only a few if you have more than a few). Why have you not played them? Why did you originally purchase that game? Do you think that you will play it again in the future/this year?
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2. Board Game: Nickel & Dime Pool [Average Rating:5.83 Unranked]
Matthew C
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Take a look at your fives & dimes list from last week. What is the most surprising game to you that made the list?
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3. Board Game: Get Over It [Average Rating:3.75 Unranked]
Matthew C
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Did you play any games this past year that you absolutely do not want to play again?
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4. Board Game: Dibs [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:7768]
Matthew C
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What was your favorite game you played in the past year, and why?
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5. Board Game: All Time Favorites [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Matthew C
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Disregarding the previous favorite of the year, what is your favorite game of all time? How often do you get to play that game?
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6. Board Game: eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:5446]
Matthew C
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McJarvis recently sold off a decent part of his unwanted collection. Have you ever sold off (or thought of selling off) parts of your collection?
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7. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:94]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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All in all, I am currently standing at 39 games sold in my auction for around $1100 in gross turnover. That's a nice little warchest I have for new games for the coming year. In terms of New Year's pledges, I'm just going to try and tread water in terms of getting games played this year. Next Christmas I'll hold another sale to try and get rid of the remaining 30-40 items I want to get rid of.

Additional pledges:

1) Buy a set of golf clubs, learn golf.
2) Buy camping equipment, take advantage of local weekend vacation spots.

Admittedly I'm trying to get away from boardgaming proper as my go-to hobby. It's not that I don't enjoy it, I just have this subtle feeling that I'm boardgaming myself to death in terms of exercise.

Plays this week:

Nations 2
CO₂ 1
Hare & Tortoise 1
Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 1
Samarkand: Routes to Riches 1
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar 1
Village 1

Notably Nations has already seen 2 plays and will likely see many more to come. It's not quite as knock-your-socks-off good as Terra Mystica was last year, but it's definitely got that "Oh wow, this is good for the timespan" effect. I don't think I'll have any problems getting it to the table, even considering that I have Madeira, Wildcatters, A Study in Emerald, and Village Inn coming this week.

In other news, it continues to be depressing to read forums on BGG. This weekend I've mostly been trying to answer questions in rules for A Study in Emerald and Nations, but the side-shows of people complaining bitterly for small slights against them as kickstarter backers(aSiE) and for not having premium bits ala Caverna (Nations) has been very grating. I know I should just walk away from the forums, but reading this stuff makes me want fewer people in the hobby at large.
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8. Board Game: Drum Roll [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1095]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Finally got Drum Roll to the table! YAY! Thanks to Robin and his wife for indulging me.

Drum Roll x1
Betrayal at the House on the Hill x1
Bootleggers x1
Family Business x1
Hanabi x1


Relatively light gaming week for me. Played Drum Roll with people this afternoon and enjoyed it. I'd probably give it a 7.5 but I'll round it to an 8 since the art is so nice. It's a pretty straightforward game but I feel it's pretty fun for the time and effort level involved. I agree with Robin that the fact that you have to take the money action so often is a little uninteresting.

Betrayal is a fun game that pretty much was what I expected. Not balanced, not refined, rules a little iffy in places, tons of dice rolling. The theme is fun and it plays fairly quickly so I enjoyed it enough - would play again but not sad I sold my copy (needed space and several people in the group have it).

Bootleggers did not impress me. It's like someone thought that El Grande would be improved with lots of dice rolling and even more 'take that.' It's not a horrible game but I really don't see why I'd choose it over other games. If it was faster I'd be more inclined to be nice to it but I don't see it taking less than 90 minutes, and two hours doesn't seem unlikely.

Family Business isn't my style at all but it's quick so I can forgive a lot. Would play it again if people wanted but I doubt I'd ever ask for it.

Hanabi is a modern classic and I really enjoy it. I got to use my German deluxe set and I'm very happy with it (as a Mahjong fan the tiles make me smile).
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9. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:87] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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No Thanks! 2
Qwixx 2
Star Realms* 2
Archaeology: The Card Game 1
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer 1
Ascension: Immortal Heroes 1
Ascension: Return of the Fallen 1
Ascension: Storm of Souls 1
Carcassonne 1
Cards Against Humanity 1
Cribbage 1
Cutthroat Caverns 1
Guillotine 1
Paris Connection 1
Qin 1
Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin 1
Vegas 1

Star Realms was a game I Kickstarted. It plays like Magic and Ascension had a baby. Not bad, but it suffers from a similar problem that Magic has, which is that it can quickly ramp up and someone gets destroyed without being able to do much to prevent it or retaliate. Also since Matt didn't really like it, it likely won't get played much; however, the digital version of it will come out in March and I will likely play it on iOS instead of the physical copy.
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10. Board Game: Nauticus [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1389]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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New Games

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia x1
The Outcast Heroes x1
Nauticus x1

Old Games

Wizard x1
Shadows over the Empire x5
Telestrations x1
Archipelago x1
Mundus Novus x1
Can't Stop x1
Android: Netrunner x3
7 Wonders (with 7 Wonders: Cities) x1

Played a bunch of stuff over the week of the new year, only a few new things.

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia is a fine family-weight resource-conversion euro. It wins the prize for "dice driven euro where the outcomes of rolling the dice matter the least:" the sums of the dice only come into play once or twice and barely impede your ability to perform actions. There's an admittedly interesting thematic accumulator called "intelligence" that in theory makes it easier for you to lose your workers (dice) if they roll too high (representing your workers smartening up and leaving your dystopia). I, however, ended up maxing mine out early and only lost one worker in the entire 2 hour game

I suppose one good thing I can say is that the game is insanely well balanced, so well in fact that it came down to who had the best randomized specialist cards rather than any particularly bravura play by my fellow players. All in all it was mostly innocuous, but I really don't have any further desire to play it again.

The Outcast Heroes is a sort of semi-co-op card game by a duo of Polish designers (also responsible for Sigismundus Augustus: Dei gratia rex Poloniae) and continues their historically-drenched theme-first design philosophy. While the game is mechanically solid and offers some interesting games of chicken and push-your-luck, there's a clunkiness in the design that also permeates the other above mentioned game that I have a hard time getting over: The two games feel more procedural than organic (first you do this, then we do this, then this happens, then we do that, etc.), like the designers started with an interesting historical period/setting/event and went "how can we fit mechanics into a game about this?"

To their credit (both for The Outcast Heroes and, hopefully, Sigismundus Augustus), the game does work. The mechanics are serviceable and on occasion offer some interesting choices while the theme is pretty much there. It also feels well play-tested and balanced (though not so much for 2p), but on the whole their design aesthetic just feels too artificial for my tastes.

And finally, on the opposite end of the spectrum is Nauticus, a game so aggressively about well-integrated mechanics that the theme is almost irrelevant. While the over-balanced nature of Euphoria seems to come from the core of the game, there are so many additional balancing mechanics in Nauticus that it feels a lot more forgiving than other euros. I played a 2p with my dad (who's not really a gamer, but a pretty sharp cookie) and we were within 10 points of each other with my having lapped the scoring track. Either we're both really good (doubtful) or barring brain-dead play, there's not a whole lot you can do to screw up. This may also speak to the game being more tactical than strategic, and lest I come across as super negative on this one, I did enjoy it. It scratches the well-integrated solo-ish optimization puzzle itch for me, though that isn't one that's been bothering me in the last half year or so. Liked it, but didn't love it.

Let's see if I can move away from the negativity a little with some shorter musings...

- Wizard remains awesome, I really need to play it more when I need a pick-me-up, as it never fails to cheer me up.

- Shadows over the Empire has been wavering back and forth, as a 2p game it feels like a foregone conclusion, but with 4 it's dynamic enough to be pretty neat (despite its incredibly short playing time). Despite having nickled it, I'm still figuring out just how much I like it, with my current opinion being "may be situationally good."

- I'm still figuring out what I think about Archipelago, Ben's review of it has helped me suss out the best mindset to have to both make the game (sort of) work while still being competitive. Once the free trading and negotiation are demonstrated to be integral to balancing the game, I think it actually has a fighting chance of being good. Still not sure how much I enjoy the whole experience, however.

- Like Big Points, I decided to re-buy Mundus Novus as a) I got the promo card set in the geekstore and b) it really is a good light-weight game that's both family friendly and gamer friendly.

- Android: Netrunner continues to be fascinating now that I've made peace with all the various ways luck can influence the game.

- Finally, the way 7 Wonders handles a 2p game may be the best way I've ever seen it handled in a multi-player experience, and may even be better than the +3p game!
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11. Board Game: Master Thieves [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2561]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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4x Coup
Catan: Seafarers
Master Thieves
Railroad Tycoon
Space Cadets
Spite & Malice
StarCraft: The Board Game
Stone Age
Survive: Escape from Atlantis! w/The Giant Squid Mini Extension

I was so happy to finally play Railroad Tycoon again! I first played it in 2007 at Thespival, and could never remember what that train game was. I managed to win by a fairly significant margin. I think I was about 30 points ahead of the others, and the other two players were tied, with the tie broken by money/stocks or something like that. I gained a lot of points by connecting major cities and such. I would like to read through the rulebook to make sure we did everything and understood everything correctly, though. But I think I would prefer the updated Railways of the World for the changes it makes (major connections are always available to be scored, not only when the card comes up).

This was my fifth play of StarCraft. I got to play Terran (which I actually kinda know how to play). I was the forerunner most of the game, but it was still close between 3 of the 4 of us. The second to last turn had us at 14-14-13-6, and it's 15 points to win. After the last round, I won by about 3 points. 2 of those were from dedicating the entire turn to taking the Protoss's home base. I am really learning, however, how I need to diversify my troops. I would have 2 battlecruisers in most every battle in the late game (which were cheap since I had all 15 workers out), but then one would end up being a 2 strength 5 defense and easily die. For those who are unfamiliar with the combat system, you play a card for each skirmish (led by a unit), and if your unit matches the card, you use the stronger numbers. Anywhere from 8/8 to 9/10 for a Battlecruiser. If they don't match, then you use the inside numbers, which are very weak and almost always end up dying. I am really enjoying StarCraft and look forward to more plays of it.

Our game of Seafarers was fun. I mostly did normal Settlers play with no exploration in the early game, cause I was short on sheep and wood. But late game I could finally explore. This scenarion did not have the bonus points for developing on an island, though. While I started out slow, I gained a lot of momentum towards the end for a strong victory.
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12. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:92]
Matthew C
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This week I got to play my first City Building game. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though, as it was the last game I played.

This past Thursday it was cold and snowy, so it didn't surprise me when I showed up and there were only about 10 people there, all of whom were already in some game or another. Luckily, someone else showed up the same time as me, so we went about playing a few 2 player games. Unluckily, neither of the two of us carry 2 player games on us, so we made due with:

Tsuro 2x -- This was actually the first time I've played Tsuro. The game is a nice relaxing tile-placement game and after a loss in the first match, I bounced back in a later 3 player match to win by cutting one person off and then properly routing my territory into my enemy's when I had no more room. Clever quick game I'd play again but probably not own.

Coup3x -- I wanted to stick with short games in case more people showed up, so I introduced Scott to Coup. One of his other friends had recently gotten a copy too, so he was happy to learn the game, although he lost in our Best of 3 match. The game continues to be a fun filler.

Race for the Galaxy -- It was still just the two of us, and Scott let slip that he'd played RftG before. So, I set up the match and began reintroducing the game to him. He clearly knew what the symbols meant, but was not particularly practiced in the game. I think he enjoyed the game while we played it, but it was a clear victory for me in the end.

Finally people started showing up at this point, so we started to set up Suburbia for four players. A fifth person walked in at that point, and it would be rude to exclude him since everyone else was in hours long games, so we decided to play a different game instead. A 6th showed up so I recommended a quick game of The Resistance while we decided on another game. As per usual, the resistance lost badly as people didn't really know each other, but it was enjoyable and short. At the end, two of the people wanted to play Betrayal at House on the Hill, so a third joined them and that left us with 3 who wanted to play Suburbia. Works for us.

Suburbia is an interesting game to me because of the way it handicaps people. My hidden objective was to build more Blue economic districts than other people, so I focused early on with economy rather than resources. This helped me quite a bit, as I was able to outbid my opponents for any tiles I truly wanted. Also, Adam (the owner) acted right after me, and we had similar plans so my actions frustrated him quite a bit. I bought the +resource counteraction tile when that appeared, so my last three or four rounds I banked a solid +15VP on turn-end. This helped me finish with 150 points to my opponents 97 and 94.

The only other game I played this week was one match of Carcassonne with my wife on Saturday. She does a surprisingly good job with roads, and with Inns&Cathedrals she was able to double down on those and pull out a win. I did manage to frustrate her a lot by sharing control of many of her big cities though.
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13. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:60] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Weekly Plays:

Pandemic - 3 (2 solo with In the Lab)
Brass: Lancashire - 1 (OOTH)

Jumped back into the Brass King of the Hill thing, after a couple rounds off. Three player game, so whatever rust I have is going to be partially masked by not really knowing what I'm doing most three player games anyway.

Two more Lab Challenge attempts, both 2P-5G, both losses. They at least went better than my first game; I got two cures in each before getting overwhelmed by cubes (no relevant cubes on the lab board at the time, just a matter of spending too many actions coordinating the other cures and not enough putting out fires).

The third game of Pandemic was the same day (Saturday), on my second date. She had heard us talking about it quite a bit, and had also seen her coworkers play it, so I taught it to her before our movies (Hobbit and Catching Fire). We won, way too comfortably for a first game... I should have made it harder for her, heh.

I picked up the X-Wing Miniatures Game in the Target clearance... Had had my eye on it for a while.
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