GCL Mafia 176 - Pushing Your Luck, Playing Online
Dave K
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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 Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread


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

Dolus
ecargo
McJarvis
badweasel
mith
Beloch
mattbcha1
Happymrdave
eapeas
fdubois
touchstonethefool

Please add an item for the week of May 26 - June 1, 2014.

New rules per GCL Mafia 171, as a reminder:
1) A weekly game is spotlighted and discussed. The poster will choose which questions are asked about it (whether its merits, drawbacks, experiences, etc.).

2) Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics (current news, trends, etc.) or non-gaming-related topics (food, vacation, unicorns, cleaning the gutters, etc.)
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1. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Dave K
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Austin
Texas
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The game for discussion this week is one that has been around for a few years and has been widely discussed on BGG for years. As the frontrunner of the deckbuilder genre, it was wildly popular and has spawned a huge amount of expansions.

Possible things to discuss:

- Does the large amount of expansions affect your interest in the game? Are you more interested in it because there is so much content? Do you have the base game and maybe an expansion or two and not care about the rest?

- It has been said (but I wish I could remember who said it...) that this is the most complex game to ever receive the Spiel des Jahres award. Do you agree?

- Do you have a preference on how many people you play with? Do the expansions affect your preference? (For example, I think many of the highly aggressive cards make Intrigue much better for two than three or four, because with more players it's too easy for someone to get picked on).

- How do you feel Dominion stacks up to other deckbuilders six years on? Do you feel like there's still room for growth in the genre?
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2. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
Dave K
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Austin
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The struggle between luck and pure strategy: on the continuum of luck in games, with purely chance-based things (like LCR) on one end and games with no randomness (like Go) on the other, where do games you enjoy lie?

Does the length of a game affect how much luck you want/tolerate in it? Does the presence/lack of a theme?

How about player count?
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3. Board Game: Web [Average Rating:5.30 Unranked]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Using things like Vassal, play-by-email, Rails, and other tools, people can play games a turn at a time online over a span of time. Do you use any of these tools? Do you like playing games a turn at a time for potentially several months? Why or why not?
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4. Board Game: The Great War [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Dave K
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Austin
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In general I am more of a euro player than thematic or wargamer. However, recently I've been playing more wargames than I had before and I've enjoyed a lot of them. Heck, I even had fun with ASL!

Do you play wargames? Why or why not? Which ones? How heavy and complex? Do like grognard-approved chit-heavy pure wargames or hybrids like Twilight Struggle? Both?
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5. Board Game: Café Melange [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:4622]
Dave K
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Austin
Texas
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There's a "gaming cafe" here in Austin called Emerald Tavern and I've been gaming there once a week or so with a friend semi-consistently for a few weeks. Even though it doesn't have anything super specific other venues (included our respective homes) are missing, it's nice to go there and have a coffee and/or beer while getting some gaming in.

Do you have a gaming cafe near you? If yes, do you go there? If you do not, do you think you would if one was nearby?
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6. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:164]
Dave K
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Austin
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No new games for me this week, but lots of games I already like. One I don't really like but decided to give it another try and I still don't like it much.

1830: Railways & Robber Barons
Small World (6-player with unit expansions)
Forbidden Desert
Splendor
Jaipur
Seasons
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game


1830

Saturday night 1830 was the highlight. We had six people and split into two groups of three rather than a big group of six. This made me happy as I really like 1830 more with three to five rather than six. I did really well early game but I made some poor decisions right as we entered the late game and that pretty much did me in. I tried to get back at the person in the lead with a late-game company dump but it was far too late for things like that to have an effect. As always a delightful game.


Forbidden Desert

Second time playing this and we got hammered. The storm cards literally buried us and we didn't even come close to winning. Still enjoyable. Still don't feel I need to upgrade from Forbidden Island but this is a fun game.


Small World

First time playing with six. Still not really taken with the game but it's better than Risk, which I sometimes hear it compared to (as a "introduce this to your non-gamer friends if they like Risk" sort of thing). The six-player map didn't feel all that different but the team rules it uses were kind of strange. You play in pairs and your score is the lower of the two people - meaning that as soon as the others have figured out which person is doing better, everyone just gangs up on the people doing worse. Despite this happening to me (as my partner was scoring like mad) and some not-so-great moves on my part we were one point away from winning.

I still can't stop feeling Small World is just okay and I don't think I'll ever request to play it, but I might play it once in a while if others really want to.


Splendor

This is my perhaps tenth play of Splendor in about two months. Great game. Have enjoyed it each time I play and I would love to see it take the SdJ. The game seems designed to result in close scores, as most of the time the other players are just one or two turns away from the winner point-wise, but it still feels like your decisions are interesting and the mechanics are both simple and functional.


Jaipur

A favorite two-player game for me. Quick to teach (with the camels being the only tricky part) and feels both clever yet approachable. Nice to bring it out again, it had been a while.


Seasons

Played with two again, and I have heard this game is best with three, but enjoyed myself nonetheless. We used the "advanced" cards this time as well and rather than both getting great hands, we both had many cards we didn't like much. The game went much, much faster than the last time we played. Definitely liking this game a lot, I think it deserves the praise it has received.


X-Wing Miniatures

My friends like this game more than I but it's still fun. It's quick and the battles are entertaining, if a little random. Sometimes you get smoked and sometimes you deal astounding amounts of damage. I can't imagine doing really large battles in this and enjoying it all that much but small-scale it's fun enough.
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7. Board Game: Space Empires: 4X [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:437] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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2x Ghost Stories
2x UNO
Dungeon Roll
Eminent Domain w/Escalation
Puerto Rico
*Space Empires: 4X

*new to me

Ghost Stories
I finally won Ghost Stories legit on easy! My cousin and I played it, his first time. We ended up with the easiest boss, though, the yellow one that has the haunter. We scored 26 points FWIW. Base game only. Not sure how good that score is, but we were all very healthy.

Earlier that day, I played it solo and got the promo that makes us immediately roll dice, taking up to 4 damage. Which cause the four of my characters to immediately lose 2 of their 3 health. The next player was also already eliminated, so that basically was the end of the game.

EmDo
I took the warfare strategy this time around and did very well. Again, I am really loving this game with the expansion, where the base game I wanted to like, but really fell flat. The only major hit against it for me is how difficult it is to play when you don't know the game. It's all about knowing the tech cards you can get and building a strategy around them.

Space Empires 4x
This was the highlight of the week, and I actually got to play this earlier today. I've been wanting to play this for a long time. I was actually doing really well in the beginning, focusing strictly on economy and technology advancements until about round 5 or 6. But one player came in on me with well advanced technology that destroyed my foundation. I struggled to come back from that and repel the attack before I lost, but I was in ruins at that point. Had either of the other two players pushed, I would've been wiped clean. Thankfully, I was able to hold my own. We ended up calling the game after 6 hours, though. I would like to play this again, but outside of those two, I don't think there's anybody (that I'm aware of) in the area who would be interested in this sort of game.
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8. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Old Games

Concordia x1
Pandemic (with Pandemic: In the Lab) x1
Sail to India x1

A rather quiet week of gaming with nothing new to speak of. My shame burns with the heat of a thousand suns
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9. Board Game: Thunderstone Advance: Worlds Collide [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:966] [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Thunderstone Advance: Worlds Collide 2
Dominant Species 1
Le Havre: The Inland Port 1

Nothing new this week and overall not much gaming. The latter was mostly due to the release of Wildstar.
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10. Board Game: Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3769]
Matthew C
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This week I played four games:

Acquire -- Did not make the horrible mistake of not having any stock in the final company, but am still working to improve my play. I did not win as many majorities as I would have liked in this 5 person game.

The Great Fire of London 1666 -- A fun thematic euro game. I knew I'd lost when the first round my 6-point hidden fortress burned down, but it was still fun to burn peoples places down for an hour.

Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas -- I had heard people say that this was like RoboRally, but with dice. After a few other rave reviews, I picked it up. I was very happy with how this game played out with four people. It has 'currents' and whirlpools to do the rotating and shifting. Having dice rather than cards allowed for faster game play (because you don't need to constantly shuffle them). Also, there are only 4 commands every turn, which speeds things up a bit too. I ran off to an early lead, but then got my treasure stolen from me and then sunk. Never recovered after that. Great game and I think it greatly improves over the original.

Ticket to Ride: Europe -- played this with another couple on Saturday. I went with a conservative strategy of not picking any new tickets, and just trying to get longest route instead and snagging the 21-point route when I saw someone else aiming for it. This turned out to work and I won by a 15 point margin.
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11. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:185]
Edward Uhler
United States
Commerce City
Colorado
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Die Macher
Global Mogul
Sail to India
Strasbourg
Madeira
Ys
Bohnanza
Québec


Solid week of gaming capped off by one of THE monsters of our hobby: Die Macher

Die Macher - The uber-exciting game of German politics! We planned on playing this game for 2 weeks and, sadly, couldn't get a 5th player to join us. On Saturday morning, we got to our friend Tony's house at 9am and had some donuts and chit-chat before diving in. We all did a great job of having watched the all-but-mandatory video that Scott Nicholson made for the game. Yes, it's an hour long, but man, did it help IMMENSELY. Even with all of us having watched the video, we ran thru the steps and actually played a practice round, just to see it in action. Then, at 1115am, got started with the game.

Some things that surprised us were that it's not a difficult game, at all. The complexity comes from it's depth, not breadth. The rules are pretty simple and it isn't nearly as 'epic' a game as it's made out to be (which isn't a bad thing). We completed our 4-player game in 3.5 hours and when we play it again tomorrow (5-player this time) we expect it to come in under 3 hours.

All that said, holy shit is this is incredibly good game. We have the 3rd (Valley Games) Edition and after debating a list of possible variants, we played it just about as the rules call out. The only 'variant' is that we did not limit the exchange pool to 6 cards. The amount of randomness/luck feels quite mitigated w/ the weighted dice and the draw of each regions issues cards. I know that the biggest 'complaint' with the game is the bidding on the opinion poll without knowing the results ahead of time. This makes perfect sense, to us at least, in that if you're heavily invested in a particular region, you best win that opinion poll auction to make sure it can't come back to bite you in the butt. We all were totally cool w/ that.

This game was so good that it may be in both of our Top 5, just from one play. Really great game.thumbsup


Global Mogul - This is the polar opposite of Die Macher. Holy shit was this game a complete and utter fail. First off, the component quality is crap. The graphics used are laughably bad. The graphic design is just ok. And the gameplay is uninspired and brings nothing new to the table. It calls itself an economic game...we wouldn't call it that. It's action-selection, set collection and mission/contract completion and it uses money in the game. But it's not an economic game.

Now, it did have a couple of cool aspects, with the investing and control of markets (which is how gain you resources). Other than that, though, Mayfair was a huge bucket of fail on this game. And to think that MSRP is $50 or $60?!?! Thankfully, I only paid $15 (plus shipping), but evenso, it wasn't worth it.

One last note on this: The game is a 4-player game with player boards that each player uses: red, yellow, blue, and green. The wooden pieces each player gets are: red, yellow, blue, and black. I contacted Mayfair and they said, yup, the company couldn't make the green ones, so they included black instead. Sorry for the confusion. Wait...what?!? That's your response? Yeah, I'm going to have fun with this on the podcast next week. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Oh, btw, I saw your writeup prior, McJarvis, but I saw Jennifer's response and thought I'd give it a go. *sigh* I should have listened to you. gulpshake

Sail to India - I heard about this game all the way back to Essen of last year and was looking forward to giving it a go. There's a good bit of game in that tiny, inexpensive box. Not going to say too much on this only that, if you get a chance, give it a try. Cool game that is a better game that the 'filler time-frame' that it fills. thumbsup

Strasbourg - A Feld that we hadn't played, yay! Cool auction mechanic with you having to set up your bids prior to the round starting. Cool game and one that we'd play again, but not in the Top 3 (5?) of Feld's for us.


Lastly, our first podcast is in the can and edited. It clocks in @ 69 minutes and while we have to re-record a small piece tonight, we think it was a great first effort. We go live on Thursday. Yes, I will link to everything then. Feedback (both positive and corrective criticism) is highly encouraged, PLEASE!
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12. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:13]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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Plays are all plays since April 1:

No Thanks! 2
7 Wonders 1
Carcassonne: The City 1
Caverna: The Cave Farmers 1
Concordia 1
Container 1
Dominion 1
Dos Rios 1
Eurorails 1
For Sale 1
Innovation 1
Luna 1
Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India 1
Nefarious 1
Planet Steam 1
Terra Mystica 1
Tsuro 1

There are some really great plays in here-- I think Planet Steam and Container were on the same night, and I was so freaking excited the whole way home because the games were still replaying in my mind.

On a lark I picked up Caverna in a store, mostly because I saw it and I was trying to treat myself to a little something after a hard day of moving stuff into the house. On reading the rules prior I had decided to game was something akin to Ora et Labora with Agricola's action selection system, and I've been pleased thus far that I'm right.

Speaking of Agricola, though--- I think people compare the two because of the action selection system & the fact that the rulebook directly calls out that the game is similar to Agricola. However, the close-to-zero randomness nature of the game paired with the wide array of options makes me think more of Ora Et Labora while playing. In some ways the game has the weaknesses of both systems: lots of upkeep between rounds while filling various bins with goods, and a huge number of choices building-wise to the point that you feel overwhelmed and lost in a sea of options. Fortunately Caverna has one more thing which Ora Et Labora doesn't have--- charm.

I don't often speak of charm in games, because most games I enjoy don't have it. However, I think lookout has really put together a fantastic feeling game here, and it makes me think that there is good reason they chose to super pimp-out the game. There is a game concept called transport which I stole from the Phoenix GCL, but in essence it's a game's ability to transport you into the theme, and become immersed. Caverna succeeds that this tremendously, and that's why I call it charming:

* The game achieves transport into theme by having very distinct roles for each of the resources: wood feels like it has a very different role from stone, ore from rubies, even donkeys from dogs or sheep. Agricola was never able to achieve that on the animal side of things, and I think Caverna captures it much better.

* The game also reenforces transport by differentiating workers. While all workers start off the game the same, you outfit them with different weapon-levels as the game progresses. Because of this, I found myself thinking of workers as distinct, and maybe even having personalities of their own. I couldn't figure out why the most advanced weapon user has to go out into the fields last exactly, but in my mind this ended up being because he was elderly and tired, or something.

* The game also achieves transport by not getting too bogged down in different steps to achieve tasks: if you want to start a pasture of sheep, you collect supplies and then select one action space where you build fences, stables, and collect sheep all at one go. Instead of feeling like the system is fighting you, you get to proactively go out there and make what you want. (but not everything you want, because things still feel constrained)

I was hesitant to give Caverna praise because of the new Mayfair branding--- after all, there are only one or two Mayfair publications which I think they didn't botch up--- but I'm pleased to find it has none of the cheap cost-cutting measures which are such a trademark to Mayfair's brand. Instead, everything is pretty lavish--- perhaps a bit too much so at times, though. Did we need player boards for more than 5 players? Probably not--- though I'm sure this didn't directly increase the cost of the game, so maybe it's ok.

Overall I'm pleased to say that I've found my favorite game of the year so far--- which is high praise given the crowded field with games such as Madeira and Wildcatters out there.
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13. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:34]
Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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Just 3 games this week:

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island x2
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Sail to India

I've been meaning to get RC back off the shelf for months, but I knew I needed to sit down and sleeve it and generally sort the bits out. I also wanted to try the official solo rules, rather than just playing 2 characters.

Had a blast. Managed - at last - to defeat the first scenario; and almost the second, too - but was pipped at the post by horrid weather.

It will be back out soon.

Legendary was a teaching game, so we trounced Red Skull with ease. Next time the difficulty will go up.

StI delivered all the big-fun-in-a-little-box that I'd hoped for. Just a quick intro game, with at least one rule wrong, but it is so quick to set up and includes so many options that it puts some bigger boxes to shame. Good recommendation, Mafia!

Sadly no game tonight (our usual group get-together) - holidays, illness and, mainly, work are conspiring against us. Suspect that I'll be solo-ing a few more times before June is out.
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14. Board Game: Machi Koro [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:735]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 10  Android:Netrunner x7 (151 plays so far)
 10  Machi Koro x13 New!

Android:Netrunner : we are still involved and i would say even more since Honor & Profit because of the new Criminal IDs.

I am playing Ken Tenma for the moment but i am struggling how to build around him. I have read intesting but mixed thoughts about central servers's run event. It is certainely tempting to play lots of these events with cheap-central-only-icebreakers. But how about Power Shutdown ?

My buddy is still playing a GRNDL and Iain Stirling decks.
Here is a photo of one of our games (he played GRNDL and i played Reina Roja) :



The wall of thornes on the remote was rezzed with a Corporate Troubleshooter and 30 credits in pocket

Machi Koro : what a great little game ! Our 13 games was played in 2 days with my children. They are always willing to play it, as soon as they arrived from school. They are even complaining about there mother who doesn't want to play it with them. They have said to her : "fortunately, daddy is playing with us !"

Quick setup, quick playing time, small box, interesting mechanics with choices to make :
1) playing with only 1 die or with 2 dice ?
2) lot of same buildings for less often but great effects or more balanced development in order to earn often but less money ?
3) in what order to build your 4 landmarks ?
4) playing alone on your side or buying interacting buildings like Cafe, Restaurant or purple ones ?

I am wondering if this game won't make me sell my 3 Dominion boxes...
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