GCL Phoenix 167: Who's Got Your Back? (2014-03-16)
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Sunnyvale
California
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I've got a music virus. Last week I was helping a friend debug a problem on their iPhone, and I needed to have some music, so I downloaded the two free songs of the week from iTunes. Turns out both of them were pretty good, but one of them really stuck in my mind (and in my ear):



Lift your Spirit, by Aloe Blacc.

The song's refrain keeps reminding me

Quote:
It ain't who you know, it's who's got your back.


Hm... so many ways that could tie in here. :-)


Our Posse:

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We've Still Got Your Back:

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1. Board Game: Wings of War: Watch Your Back! [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1075] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Aloe Blacc wrote:
And just remember it ain't where you're from
It's where you're at
It ain't who you know
It's who's got your back
Who's got your back


Do you make mutual protection deals in competitive games? If so, how do you know when it's time to stop cooperating and go your own way?
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2. Board Game: Backstab [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Aloe Blacc wrote:
Told a secret to a friend I thought I could trust
He swore he'd keep it on his momma and the lord above
All the time I've come to find my business all in his tree
I'm still tryin' to forgive that low down, double crossin', murder, cheat


Do you forgive people who backstab you in games? What does it take for you to make deals with the same person again?

(And there's backstabbing and backstabbing. Diplomacy is about timing the backstab, you should understand that when you sit down to play. Bohnanza, it's easier to get to win-win, I'd think backstabbing would be harder to forgive, if less momentous.)
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3. Board Game: Blocks in the East: Chrome Expansion [Average Rating:8.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.14 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
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At the end of last week, Tom wrote:
People can cut up wargames for their chrome, but that's your life-chrome right there.


Chrome. It sure does attract the eye. You love it or you hate it.

What's your nice shiny BMW, where the chrome just makes the game that much more fun to play?



On the other hand, what's your Edsel, where the whole thing sinks under the weight of Just Too Much?

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4. Board Game: Fortune or Failure [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Speaking of the Edsel, sometimes no amount of hype can save something.




How much do you believe? Who do you believe? What's your reaction when a friend shows up at gaming with something new?

And you, do you fall for the hype or do you wait to get more information before trying something new?
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5. Board Game: Princes of the Renaissance [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:585]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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I was thinking about cooperation and backstabbing because I played Princes of the Renaissance this week. It fell just a bit flat, but we at least had some element of negotiation and cooperation.

Thursday night at Dave's:

Princes of the Renaissance 6p.
Me, Dave E., Alex T., Eric P., Brian, John

Friday night at Jeremy's:
Power Grid, Australia 5p.
Me, Don, Jeremy, Mr. Green (robot), Mr. Purple (robot)

I got early Uranium, the 17 for $26, and then no more Uranium came up for quite some time.

Both of our robots were fuel-hungry, which really hurt Jeremy when his mid-game oil plant was too expensive to run.

(In Australia Uranium plants don't power cities, but instead provide cash income. This has lots of big and small effects on the games -- far more competition for plants to power cities, viability of hanging back with few cities, etc.)

Saturday at Mel's:

Power Grid US map 5p
Me, Mel, Jeremy, John, Quacy (sp?, first play, new opponent)

This game hinged on coal shortages -- turn order meant that only some people could effectively use coal plants towards the endgame. Mel and Quacy both got early Uranium plants, effectively taking each other out of the game;

Wildlife 6p

Me, Mel, Sabrina, John, Michael F., Michael J.

Some of us had played this years before, some of us hadn't, but it didn't go well.

We managed to botch the turn order mechanic, so that players took turns getting skipped. This was dreadful.

We saw in the rules a description of the various types of cards, including a comment that "when a card has text on it, just do what it says", and in the absence of a cheat sheet, we should have riffled through the deck and examined them. Instead, we just played... and were caught completely unprepared. (For example, we had guessed that there was a card that destroyed some fraction of saved food (currency), to encourage people to cash food out for VP instead of hoarding it, but actually there was a card that taxed people a fixed amount, with a steep VP penalty for falling short.)

After we got used to the mechanics the game sped up quite a bit, especially when I pushed the endgame, but I'm left not remembering why I used to think this was such a great game for 6 players.

(And no, it's for exactly 6, as the creatures are all balanced symmetrically. I suppose you could find balance points for 3 or 4, but why?)

Quarriors Quarmageddon 3p

Me, Mel, and John finished out the evening with 2 rounds of this. The second round dragged quite a bit because nobody could live long enough to score...


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6. Board Game: Auction [Average Rating:5.15 Unranked]
Dice bags!
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Wurtsboro
NY
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No gaming yet this week, though maybe we can get something to the table tonight.

My auction is ready to go live in the morning.

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7. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:253]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_10_ Innovation x1
A two player game with my oldest son. I started off with my first several rounds with just Agriculture on my board, drawing cards then returning them to score, and got the first achievement and about sixteen points in score pile, then got some higher top cards to get more achievements, I also used Chemistry and had a 5-1 advantage in achievements, then my son clawed his way back, we got into the 10th age, and he ended up winning by taking whatever achievements he could with some special one mixed in.


We interrupt this scheduled program to bring you AMSP!

So after months of talking about it and waiting for old man winter to go away, I finally got to have Jimmy and DJ come over and hang out at my place for a gaming weekend. DJ brought his daughter who hung out with my daughter all weekend too which was a great bonus.

Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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Daniel Kenel
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New London
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Thanks for driving across state lines! It was amazing and always great to spend time with you! Spring is here, baby!

_8_ Machi Koro x1
Jimmy arrived about and hour before DJ, so my daughter and youngest son jumped in to help me teach him this game.
We just played the basic game and I went with Forests and Mines but built up too much while my son switched got all four of his buildings flipped while I had three and daughter and Jimmy both had two.

_5_ Pico 2 New!
Jimmy showed me this little card game from 1997 in a few minutes was we were still waiting on DJ. I lost and I thought it had clever mechanics but I didn't see anything on it I'd want to explore heavily. It was cute!

_6_ God's Playground x1 New!
Sorry, Poland.
DJ arrived seconds after the Pico 2 game and after some messing about we started in with the first big game of the weekend. New to me but not to the other two. We were all pretty bad at defending Poland but great at making Jesuit schools apparently. We're lovers not fighters I guess. Jimmy 39 Jimmy 36 Jon 35

It's neat but I guess I was hoping for.... something slightly different than what happened? I'd like to try again sooner than later to try to get a different experience out of it. A lot of potential to go up.

_7_ Citrus x1 New!
We ended Friday night with DJ teaching this and it was new to Jimmy and I
DJ 87 Jimmy 82 Jon 62. Certainly an old school euro and I like the spatial positioning and the weird market. Possibly due to late hour and tiredness with having God's Playground just before but I felt I wasn't playing super effectively so would like to try this a few more times.

_7_ Concordia x1 New!
Saturday morning started with Jimmy teaching this one and my oldest son joined me. I liked this quite a bit too and it felt very different from Lewis and Clark. Another one I'd like to try a few more times. More gears and switched here than I though. Jimmy 108 Jon 106 DJ 104 my oldest son had 68.

_8_ Maria x1 New!
DJ won, placing all VP for France
Jon had 1 VP left for Prussia and 2 for the Prussian Army
Jimmy had 6 VP left for Austria
I actually liked this quite a bit. Before we got together I had done a little research on this and liked what I could figure out of the hand management aspects and just thought it was interesting. Then during the rules explanation my brain started to give up on me a bit. It's like filling a pitcher with water and you leave the water running but it overflows and can't hold any more: that was my brain. Once we started playing the game things clicked in better. Not perfectly though. I'd look at Prussia's cards, then the Pragmatic Army's and forget which one had all the diamonds or something. At one point I left my supply train wide open to get killed off which I just totally missed. The Pragmatic Army sort of walked around for a bit and didn't put pressure on France; instead everyone picked on Jimmy who almost got in an early win. Each of us had a chance to win it which was neat. Starting the game I was really uncertain but it exceeded my expectations.

_8_ A Study in Emerald x1
This was a four player game with my oldest son, DJ, Jimmy, and myself and was DJ's first time playing the game.
Jimmy helped me realize I had been playing with two wrong rules. First, buying new influence cubes with coins costs 2 coin per 1 cube and I had previously done it on a 1 to 1 basis, which is just a silly thing I missed. More importantly, I had been playing you could only drop influence on cards and cities where you had an agent present and that is not the case at all. I totally made that harder than it needed to be. We were all loyalists except my son; however, because I tried to assasinate royalty early on (and was stopped by DJ who used a double agent on me) everyone thought I was restorationist. My trickery didn't help though as my son lost at 11 points, and of the rest of us, I had 13, DJ 14, and Jimmy won with 19.

After the Flood -- aborted! New!
We aborted this game after the first round due to issues I was having with some of the game mechanics and some silly weirdness on my own part. I was pretty fatigued and was losing the plot on this. A lot of it seemed interesting and Jimmy is a fan of it so I'd like to try it again sometime but need to study up on this a bit and approach it in a better mental state. I let down the team here; sorry, folks.

_8_ Extrablatt x1
My youngest son had played this once before and wanted to get it played again and I knew this was one DJ liked a bit so we had this as a possible game to try. It was new to Jimmy but he almost won it, just losing out with 500 to DJ's score of 510. My son and I were farther back with myself at 320 and my won at 280.

_6_ Russian Railroads x1 New!
Amazingly, after Extrablatt ended at 1 in the morning Jimmy and I stayed up just a little bit more so we could teach me Russian Railways. He concentrated on the upper level track while I worked the bottom factories along with some other things on both sides. Jimmy won 311 to 273. I can see why Jimmy likes this and it was fine; I'd certainly play again but I'm not compelled by it.

_6_ Takenoko x1
My daughter taught DJ and his daughter (sharing a position) this in a two player match and DJ's team won 43 to my daughters score of 40. I count my daughter's plays for myself here for my own odd purposes. whistle

_7_ Elements x1
Jimmy and I did a quick match of this while the others played Takenoko with me taking the set 6 to 2.

_6_ 1889: History of Shikoku Railways x1 New!
A gentle learning game with no drama to close out Sunday as Jimmy taught and this was DJs first 18xx, and even though I've played a few other 18xx I still fell totally new in general and hadn't played 1889 before. I got to run good companies which paid well but I was in last with 3214, Jimmy at 3498 and DJ won with 3517, did a microphone drop and retired from the 18xx scene undefeated. Actually my best 18xx experience yet thanks to Jimmy's patience. A great way to end the weekend. Rating is relatively low as I can really only play this in specific circumstances.

Now everyone is on their way home and I'm ready to sleep for a week. Typed this up now while most of it was still fresh on my mind and while I can still read my crazy notes.
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8. Board Game: Die Dolmengötter [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:3082]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 15Mar2014:

32/43/127 plays of 16/20/59 total games, with 1/6/12 expansions employed.
Plays with 21/25/50 distinct opponents.

1/7/12 games acquired (plus 0/0/7 expansions.) - received a copy of Paperback from a generous friend.
0/0/6 games sold (plus 0/0/3 expansions.)
0/0/5 games ordered (plus 0/0/3 expansions.)
Orders for 9 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With colleagues at the team offsite:
2x _7.7_ Trollmaster New! - Many thanks to Andy and Damian for help with translation. These were plays with three and four players. Both worked well; though I think the game might be slightly better with three. It's weird and cool, and definitely worth playing.
3x _7_ Chairs New! - (Three different sessions, rather than three rounds.) There's not much to the game. There are small plastic chairs, and one stacks 'em. So why have I rated it so highly? Well, mostly the gang that played, I fear: they went out of their way to try creative and insane pilings of the poor chairs. So as a platform for creativity it worked well; and that isn't so far off what I like to find in a game.
1x _6.7_ Such a Thing? - Really pretty dorky; but it's often proved entertaining when dragged out with the right group. And this was (mostly) one of those "right group"s. (Admittedly, one of the participants abandoned the game mid-way: it's certainly not a good fit for everyone.)
3x _8_ Diamant - I rate this one irrationally highly because of years of success in inflicting it on folk. These games worked every bit as well as expected. I realize that the game is entirely trivial - and that, on strict appreciation of merits it should be no more than a _6_. But I've had too much fun with it to be grumpy: maybe after my children leave home.
3x _7.3_ Spot it! - This is the bunch that calls it the "Noun Bellowing Game." And so we bellowed some nouns for a while. It was fun. I was amused to see that the three different games (Well, Tower, and Hot Potato; I don't play Poisoned Gift if I can help it) were all generally dominated by different folk.
1x _8_ Sail to India - A four player game; and one where the first seat and fourth seat tied. Which is again a modest amusement for me, given that the first two seats won all of my first five or six games. I'm definitely enjoying it.
1x _7.7_ Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Gloriously weird. I find this very charming; though it seems fairly perplexing for the collection of first-time players I drag in. I really need to develop a consistent set of opponents so that it can be played regularly.
3x _7.3_ Eggs of Ostrich New! - Silly; fast; a delightful filler. A bit of that bluff/second-guessing feel, but also with some deduction to add to the fun. Only trouble is the three-player-only thing.
1x _8_ Sticheln - Very cool game; a bit easier on the newbies than DJ&MH. We had loads of fun with this one.
2x _8.5_ Die Dolmengötter - Two quick games in succession. One to learn the dynamics; a second to play for real. I really like this one, and it was fun to infect some others with some of the same enthusiasm.
3x _7.7_ Rumis (with Rumis+) - It's a really appealing thing while in progress; easy to explain; and works well, too. My opponents seemed to enjoy it.
1x _7.7_ Google Datacenter Manager - This is very charming; and the GDM printing is clear, robust, and easy to play, too. My colleagues loved the techie in-jokes and wondered (vainly) where they could find copies.

With one of the Wednesday Night guys and son #2:
1x _8_ Mage Knight Board Game (with Lost Legion) - Son #2 and I got tangled up in the first day, and it set us both back. Paul ended up with a dramatic victory: I think the youngster and I need a lot more practice.

With family:
1x _7.3_ Eggs of Ostrich - Daughter #1 had said she'd try it; so this is her being honourable. Fortunately both kids thought it was fun, so it all ended well, too.
1x _6_ Mythe - This is cute and really pretty - but the game play has very few choices (the only real ones, it seems to me, are how to dispose of the cards one selects.) Still, the kids liked it; and we had fun.
1x _7_ Scalawag! - This one was on the prompting of daughter #1: it was its normal silly self.
2x _7.3_ Paperback New! - It wouldn't surprise me if I raise my rating of this one: despite the deck-building style, the rest of the game play is excellent, and the presentation quite lovely. Daughter #1 is hoping to play again this afternoon - as soon as she has her homework done.
1x _7.7_ Greedy Kingdoms - Mostly that "I cannot choose the wine in front of me" doublethink. But the mechanics are cool, and there's some interesting deductions that are possible amid the randomness, I think. (Though it wouldn't surprise me if this rating goes down.)

With the Friday noon gang:
1x _7.7_ Trollmaster - Didn't have the full slot to play, since I had an interview to conduct immediately following lunch. So we played two fast things. First, a 5p Trollmaster. Fast; sensible; just needs some paste-ups to work really well for the anglophone audience. I found the game quite charming.
1x _7.3_ Eggs of Ostrich - And then a couple guys left; so we ran through this one. It was very well received.

Owned-and-unplayed: 6 (+1/-3) - Paperback arrived; Trollmaster, Paperback and Eggs of Ostrich were played.

Outlook for the week: Wednesday night gaming (perhaps 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways?) Friday noon games (perhaps Road to the Palace?) Likely some Paperback with lovely wife and daughter #1. Probably a game of some sort with son #2, too; though I'm not sure what his current bias is. (The last game of Greedy Kingdoms went less well than he'd hoped; so I'm wondering whether he'll want another try, or whether he'll move on to something else.)
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9. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2240]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
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12 x Spirit Island: all solo playtests, and - unusually - all actual solo games (ie, playing 1-player, as opposed to simulating a 2+ player game).

Solo games dramatically highlight the strengths and weaknesses of an individual spirit, and can be useful when calibrating relative power levels. In this case, I began the week testing a new Spirit (Memory of the First Embers) against a medium-strength Adversary (French Plantation Colony @ Lvl 2, minus the 'Slave Rebellion' Event), and got spanked. I tried again - this time with lots of what-ifs and backtracking - and again lost quickly and badly. I'd been expecting this spirit to have some trouble with France, but these losses felt like too hard a fall.

I'd never solo'd vs. France before, so I played four sanity-check games using other spirits. Most won handily and with strong board control in about 7 turns; one - a Lightning Spirit, also expected-weak vs. France - barely squeaked out a turn 9 win. I revised Memory of the First Embers and re-tested, winning solid-to-narrow victories on turns 6-8. I returned to the Lightning spirit for some more calibration (two turn-6 losses and a fairly solid turn-10 win), then made some mild nerfs to Embers; now it should be closer to Lightning's effectiveness.

On a lark, I solo'd vs. France with Deep Heart of the Island, a heavily cooperative spirit never meant to be good at solo play. It was an intricate game, and extremely dicey at beginning and end, but I pulled out a turn 9 win.

Outside of games: My wife's headed to a work conference / retreat for the week; this will be the first time she's been gone for any duration since our son was born. Fingers crossed that it goes well! Barring illness, I have good hope that it will - nights are likely to be somewhat restless, but I've lined up extra help so I can catch afternoon naps, and will even catch a night off in the middle of the week as GB spends an overnight at his grandparents'. (Which he loves. Awesome on multiple levels, that.)
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_8_ Arkham Horror x1 Out of the Dust
_7_ Carcassonne x1
_7_ Concordia x1


The Week in Review

Just single plays of Carcassonne and Concordia with S this week. She humiliated me in the former, but I did squeak a win in the latter.

After three plays of Concordia, I'm feeling like it's a keeper. But. It's one of those games that I enjoy while I'm playing, though it doesn't leave me feeling much when it's over. So it'll be one of those games that I'll happily play, but will usually pass over when I'm picking a game.

We hadn't played Arkham Horror in about a year and a half so I wasn't sure what to expect from it. Turned out to be fairly entertaining and often comical at times, even for S who spent a good part of it lost in time and space - which gave her time to serve us tea and cake.


The Week Ahead

No definite plans, but I did talk to L on Friday about getting together either with him and his wife for some Sunday gaming or forget the wives altogether and play something like Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. We'll see if anything comes of it. Now his little girl is three, she doesn't need dual parental supervision any more, does she?
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11. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:533]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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A lot of gaming this week and, more importantly, a lot of good gaming this week.

Palaces of Cararra x 8

This was new and well received this week. These were all 2-player advanced games save for a single 3-player game.

I feel like, for the most part, 90% of Palaces is a standard euro fare: thin theme, a market, building differently-colored buildings in differently-colored cities using differently-colored resources. These all score various amounts of points/money depending on which cities they're in. You also have a secondary function, a set collecting mechanism whenever a building is scored so you're chasing multiple things with every purchase and every build. It seems somewhat Feldian.

The 10% that really sets it apart for us, and that's the goal cards that are dealt out at the start of the game. These are universal for all players, and they determine both the conditions for ending the game and the way players score points for the game. This adds a very important timing element to the game, as you can take your time and make brilliant plans, but your opponent might see this and rush the game to its conclusion before you get there. So you always have to be considering both how you're going to execute your plans AND when the game may end. There are also some 30 cards to draw from, and 4 are drawn each game which should keep things from getting stale from game to game.

Our 1 experience with 3 players was a bit more stuff to keep an eye on than we're used to, and at the moment we both feel it's better as a 2p game. Might be sour grapes too, because we got our asses handed to us pretty badly. I should have seen what was happening and tried to hit the gas on the endgame, or tried to score Pisa before he could...something. He collected Villas and put them all in cash cities, scored all of his Villas then bought up lots of expensive bricks, built an 8-cost Villa in Pisa, upgraded Pisa then scored it. He was swimming in cash. He then built the 8-cost Castello, upgraded his green scoring and did that. It was something like 120-70-30.

Snowdonia x 3

3 plays of Snowdonia this week, each different from the other. Our first was a 2-player game with the advanced scenario from the base game. We started on opposite sides of the mountain, and the fact that we were not in the same area removed much of the timing things that make the game fun. We also had almost nothing but rain and fog for the first 80% of the game, so it was a bit lackluster. I the scenario would be fun with 4. Maybe not less.

Later in the week we played a 5-player game. It was kind of neat to see at that count. Rubble suddenly became a hot commodity as it goes quickly when 5 people are excavating. Everyone liked it, but my wife said she'd prefer it with fewer than 5.

Our 3rd play of the week was a 3-player game, interesting because the events came out early and often. My wife bought the train that lets you convert 2 iron into a steel bar rather than 3. She gambled that the train maintenance event wouldn't come up that turn, and of course it did. That was pretty much the death knell for her, and the new player won 76-74-59.

I'm really happy with the game. The theme is invoked pretty well, there are multiple scenarios to play, the timing choices are fun and it's a game of scarcity (2 workers per turn or 3 with a sort of upkeep cost).

Amerigo x 1

3-player Amerigo continues to impress. I enjoy games that force me to work with what I'm given, and Amerigo does that. The competition over the islands and the goods on them is pretty fierce, and turn order is so very important. I finished 2nd to the tune of 174-173-140.

Viticulture x 1

Got a win in this one. I hit the 25VP wall and could have gone further. Not sure how I feel about the scoring (when someone reaches 20+VP it is the final round, but you're capped at 25VP). Is it to keep people from folding back at 18-19 then trying a flurry to finish in the 30's?

Bruges x 3

3 plays of this game this morning with the wife. She hasn't warmed to the game yet, but the light finally came on for her today. She'd been paying most attention to the colors of the cards/dice/workers/house and less attention to the effects of the persons on the cards. I told her to reverse that mindset, to figure out which people she needed to get into play first, then figure out how to make that happen. She actually likes the game now.



I'm in the middle of some math trade drama this week. The person I am to ship Bora Bora and Sylla to is a new trader. He made a mistake that somehow involved duplicate protection (this is his only trade, so not sure what happened) and he is due to ship a big Star Wars X-Wing Fighter lot. He's playing the "This isn't fair so I'm not sending my games" card. He asked me to hold of on shipping my games, so at least he isn't trying to run a scam. I've been in contact with the rest of the users in the trade loop, and we have a plan to fix things as best we can without him if need be. The person who was slated to receive his games contacted him and offered to receive a subset of the X-Wing set, which is more gracious than he deserves. Funny thing is, had he just owned up and shipped his games, I have no doubt that 1 or 2 charitable math traders would have volunteered to help him out had he posted a "I'm new, this happened and I'm sad about it" message on the trade forum. shake Some people's children.

I have a small auction ending tonight. I think that between the proceeds from this and the GC I got in the math trade, I'm going to order Patchistory and Caverna.
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12. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:455]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

.10! Hanabi 2
_8_ Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space 1
_8_ The Capitals 1
_8_ Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island 1
_7_ Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends 1 New!
_7_ Concordia 1
_7_ Glen More 1
_6_ Unexpected Treasures 1 New!
_6_ Scotland Yard 2
_5_ Kingdoms 1 New!

Week in Review

A very busy week for me. I was in Tacoma for the weekend judging a major Magic event. I had brief windows to visit with Tom each night, but could only manage to chat and have a meal. We wanted to get in some games, but it wasn't in the cards.

In spite of that, I somehow shoe-horned in quite a few games this week. Of note...

Scotland Yard was my first time playing the physical game (I had previously played the iPad version). It was interesting comparing this to Letters from Whitechapel, which I like better in general. Scotland Yard does a great job of controlling the game length but its rules don't scale well as they give one piece to each player so our 3P games had Mr. X vs only 3 detectives. This didn't seem balanced, but was good for a family game.

I achieved a new high-water mark in the Capitals: third place. I've been third place in every game of the Capitals I have played, but this was the first time I played with four players. Not last, yeah! This was my fifth play but only my second with Prosperity buildings (three games have featured new players). I like this game in spite of being absolutely terrible at it.

I also won Concordia for the first time on my seventh play of the game. Oh, yes. I'm on a roll.

Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space was interesting because it was an 8P game with 5 new players, two players with 1-2 prior games and me with 30 plays. I know this game has an experience curve and it was funny to see it in action as new players flailed around. I was an alien and ate one of the players three spaces from an airlock. He pained, thinking he had almost made it, not realizing I was on to him for some turns ahead of his death. Overall, 8P is not ideal because the game does have player elimination and I think the first humans to die had to sit out too long. I recommend it at 4-6 players.

I upgraded Robinson Crusoe to an 8 rating on my third play (also my first win). Understanding the rules better and playing with good friends who enjoy theme (and spoke in silly British accents) made the game that much more fun. I'm ready for Scenario 2!

I sprung for Tash-Kalar last weekend when a store gave me a discounted price as thanks for some Magic judging, partly because my gf had said it looked interesting enough to play. We played the recommended learning game: the High Form without Legendary pieces. I found it quite interesting. She won but was more tempered in her feelings for the game. She said she'd play again but would have to be in the right mood. We shall see how that works out.

I also received my copy of Roads & Boats last week. The rulebook is awful. I suspect it will be a couple of weeks before I can get it to the table for a test run.
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13. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:377]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Pax Porfiriana x1

Sorry everyone. Just too much going on at work to settle into writing here. And I admit, evenings, the winter blahs have really gotten to me. The last two nights I've been under a blanket on the sofa, watching the first season of West Wing & just letting go of even a pretense of creative living or trying to be a good date for the gf. It actually felt good to let go and give in to the blahs... It's so stressful to fight them off, right?


Pax.

My buddies from the north Sound, Mike & Joe, came over and I got to have my first game night in the new home. So it was awesome of course. A 3-player game of Pax that went the distance, constantly teetering on a topple win by either Joe or I, with Mike playing spoiler, as we differentiated our tableaus. I played what I think of as a DJ game, coming out of the gates with Loyalty & building a bank & trying the denial route; threatening a loyalty topple and a superior income for the long haul & affording adaptability. I had a pretty strong economy, too much steeped in Loyalty kick-backs, but on my turn it was usually easy to punch the government back into Pax. So, I variously tried to position for loyalty, revolution, and command topples. Then Joe used a few assassins to commander my loyal dictator suckups, so that freed me to focus on an even distribution of distruction, keeping a threat in revolution, & focusing on a long game of money.

Mike played a very cagey long game of denial, responding to my bank by building one himself & joining in controlling the enterprises (poor Joe just shit himself trying to build), then not trying for any topples at all, just managing Joe and I. Joe nearly got a surprise command topple, having bought into the free market early at some risk, and setting himself up for a win at the end, and Mike positioned to win on money and had the edge, but I managed set up an income/Revolution pin on the last topple, whereas the cost to Mike to stop my revolution topple would give me the money win so I took it on the last round.

Joe and Mike are strong gamers. I eeked out a win by a hair, despite being much more experienced.

We were going to try to play ASiE, which would've been my first play, but the Pax game ran long. This particular group will get together monthly, so I hope to get Wallace's latest (and controversial, to my ear) title to the table soon.

Also, my old 2-player friend is coming next Tuesday. He's the one I played TS, 1989, Dominant Species and Innovation with, and believes in playing games we know instead of new things. So this'll be awesome, I bet we get 1989 going because he favors that over TS (and I may agree, it could be better).
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14. Board Game: Agricola: Belgium Deck [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Agricola (+Belgium deck)
400th play for my birthday.

-10- Magic: the Gathering (x2)
An epic 2-Headed Giant Rochester draft (Return to Ravnica block). My team's speedy Boros and Simic decks overpowered the control decks, slowly in the first game (Rogue's Passage was our MVP, making fat creatures unblockable), super fast in the second.

|9| Boggle (x7)
Trying out my new DGT Cube (birthday present).

|9| RoboRally
What to play with seven? This works well for large groups, but there's usually at least one person vehemently against this game. This time, we bullied Rick into submission and he gave it a go. I think everyone enjoyed it.

|9| Through the Ages
Teaching D, straight into the full game. I got pummelled by early events then Kate hit me with a War on Culture. I played a Colony strategy, picking up Cook for points. The war wasn't too devastating; I nearly caught up but didn't see enough endgame events to compete there. D made a good show for his first game.

-8- The Castles of Burgundy (+4th Expansion)
I like getting early mines for income and went with that and shipping this time.

-7- 7 Wonders (x2)
With the full seven players. Not played for ages but this was with three new players so we stuck to the base game. Blues and military gave me the first game. In the second I struggled to find the resources I needed to build the Colossus and only managed 3rd against a strong science and guilds board.

-5- Mapominoes: Africa New!
Another birthday present. More or less dominoes with African countries. The table is the edge of the world, so we kept trying to balance cards to squeeze a few more on. Since all cards are used in each game and it's very hard to play multiple cards on a turn, there seems to be very little to differentiate the winner from the loser, just one card in it.
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