GCL Swedish Meatball Division: Experience
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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You have found the lair of the Swedish Meatballs, a division of BGG's Game Chat League.

Civil contributions from nonmembers are fine, but we do ask that nonmembers please not add list items. Members are to add list items to discuss what they played that week.

Rotation:
rarevos - up next
Osirus
Jythier
fateswanderer
sgosaric
qwertymartin
Hanibalicious
lacxox
cymric
Jugular
bnordeng
NateStraight
AAArg_ink
ellephai

So I had some fragmentary ideas I was considering developing into my next list. But here it is somehow my turn already, so I'm going to slap them together and pretend it's coherent. Don't act like you've never done it, fellow meatballs. ;-)
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1. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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What game(s) have you played the most, and how much is that, if you know? Are there many games at which you consider yourself experienced or a veteran player? How many times might you play a game to reach the point where you think of yourself as an experienced player of it, or is that a distinction you ever make?

How many times do you usually get to or try to play a game? Do you try to play a new game again multiple times in quick succession so that you become more familiar with it? Do you ever have the experience of playing a new game, then getting repeat plays only individually at such long intervals that it feels like you have to relearn the game every time?

Is there any game you've played that made you feel "this might be a really fun game if I played it a lot"? Did you then do so, and why or why not?
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2. Board Game: The Scepter of Zavandor [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:850]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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When you play games you know and like, how often do you get to play with others who all know the game well? In your gaming life, do you have the phenomenon of "there's always one person at every table to whom the game is new"?

How much do you value the opportunity to play your favorite games against experienced players? Is this something you seek out?

If you have ever arranged an all-vet game of something, how did you or would you handle excluding new players who expressed interest, or is this something you would never do? Would you take offense at being excluded from a game for this reason?
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3. Board Game: Letters from Whitechapel [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:184]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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What games have you found to be enjoyable even when there are great skill disparities between the players? Has your perspective changed on this depending on which end of the skill range you were speaking from?

What games have you found to be very unenjoyable, or completely pointless to play, when there are great skill disparities? Are there games where you have trouble finding people at your skill level? Is this because you're so expert at the game, because you're new to a game others already know, or because the game just demands very close matching in order to be good?

Are there any games you're so good at that it's a problem finding opponents at your level? If so, is the problem more that others are unwilling to play with you, or that it's no fun for you to play with them? Did online play contribute to this?

Are there games at which you've accelerated your skill by playing intensively online? If so, how did that turn out for you?
 
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4. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Lori
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Durham
North Carolina
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It seems to be a frequent occurrence that a gamer introduces a nongamer friend to a game that the gamer thinks is really easy, and the nongamer is bewildered by it. Has this happened to you? How did or do you handle it?

I think one cause of this phenomenon is that we underestimate the extent to which our experience with other games has given us skills that nongamers don't have. I have a gaming friend who has very wide experience with games, and he's really fast at picking up rules to a new game; it seems to be because he has so many potentially similar models in his head to correlate it to. Any feature the new game has is likely to have occurred in ten other games he's played before. At the other end of the spectrum is the bewildered nongamer looking at the Ticket to Ride board, trying to figure out how his pawn moves, and for that matter, where is his pawn anyway, and come to think of it, where are the dice?

Can you identify any of the skills you've developed through gaming that you think are broadly transferable to other games? If any of you are recent enough incomers to the hobby, can you recall from your own start what things perhaps seemed strange to you, but turned out to be useful general principles?

Gamers and nongamers alike, everyone recognizes that games teach certain skills early in life. Candyland teaches small children about colors, taking turns, good sportsmanship, and sitting quietly for a limited period of time without destroying anything. Other common childhood games teach counting, making change, and so on. For the ever-increasing number of us who have kids, do you think about what your kids can learn from games you teach them, or are you mostly just trying to have fun with them? Do you think there are skills they'll learn from your games that they wouldn't have from mass-market games?

Brad and anyone else whose kids are old enough to have nongamer friends, how does that go? Do your kids play your obscure niche games with their friends, or do they play standard mass-market games, or both? Are they better at games than their friends? What gaming skills do they have that their nongaming friends don't?
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5. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:338]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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The genesis of this list was a conversation about Roborally. I was saying that the fan-made boards is don't reward experience the way the standard boards do, because if you've played a lot you get to know the terrain and the best routes. I think I had framed this as skilled-player advantage, but my friend argued that skill lay not in familiarity but in the ability to adapt to new things. The more skilled player would be the one who could more quickly and effectively figure out the new board.

I could totally see his point, and it made me think about skill vs. experience, and how they are related. I agree that reading new terrain and responding to it is skill, but a Roborally player who's good at this probably developed that skill from lots of experience.

How much of what we think of as "skill" in a game is really familiarity born of experience? I think the answer to this might vary a lot depending on the game. I used to find it maddening to hear people say things like "oh, he's doing the corn strategy"--the corn strategy, not a corn strategy, as if there were only a finite number of known strategic paths in the game. But for some games, that may well be the case. In other games, it seems like it's more about general techniques and tools that might come into play.

What do you think about all this? What is the relationship between skill and experience?
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6. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:413]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective. Our worst failure ever!
Roads and Boats
Agricola
Metro
Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus

Hanabi. Also a rare failure.
Vegas Showdown. Tried and loved the 2p variant.
Dominion x8
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7. Board Game: Dominion: Prosperity [Average Rating:8.29 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.29 Unranked]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_8_ Dominion - 2 Players (x6)
_8_ Steam - 4 Players
_8_ Kingdom Builder - 2 Players
_7_ No Thanks! - 4 Players (x2)
_6_ Animal Upon Animal - 2 Players (x2)

With the kids...
_8_ Niagara - 5 Players
_8_ Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game - 3 Players
_8_ Château Roquefort - 3 Players
_7_ Zoowaboo - 4 Players
_7_ Word on the Street Junior - 2 Players
_5_ Ave Caesar - 5 Players
_5_ Straw - 2 Players


My birthday was last Sunday and I played a ton of games that day with a few more during the week.

(1) Dominion - My wife and kids bought me Dominion: Prosperity for my birthday and my wife and I played it. It was my 100th play which means a review is coming soon (since I review any game I've played 100 or more times). I probably won't be posting it until I take some vacation time in early August. I will say that my wife and I are loving Prosperity. I played it a few times before and liked it, but was concerned this expansion could change things too much for her. Turns out... no problem.

(2) Steam - I really love this game and would love to play the standard game again. This round was with 3 newbies, playing the basic game. It was fun, as always, and maybe this group'll want the try the standard game next time. I finished 4th. shake

(3) Niagara - A fantastic play of this with my whole family. Dane (5 yr old) and I won on the same turn.

(4) Zoowaboo - This game is quite fun with four and I played it with my 3 children. Perfect.

(5) Chateau Roquefort - I love this abstractish game and that I can play it with my kids. I played this with my 5 year old and 8 year old and they needed a reminder or two to remember to move in a way to maximize their opportunity to collect cheese (the object of the game). I did see them learn and adjust what they were doing during the game though. Yay!

(6) Legendary - My wife and son and I played and she wanted to see how it works so she could play it with him. We defeated Carnage and Dane and I were way ahead in points. I'm not sure she'll be playing it with just him, but she was glad to see what he is able to do during a game like this.
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8. Board Game: Qin [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1268]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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While the soccer craziness ended, it was time to watch the water polo European tournament, at last something interesting - Hungarian women got bronze and men got silver medals, yes! Also it was the week when our Big Leader declared we don't really want to follow the liberal democracy of the West as economic examples in countries like Turkmenistan, Russia, China and India provide a lot more stability. Yes, it was a crazy week.

Only one playing afternoon with my wife, which is exactly one more than one would expect from someone with a 3-week-old baby. We played Qin then, three times, two of them on the expansion boards. Out of 20 plays this one was the only one where I really felt the power of the double tiles - like in a game where one player almost always rolls 4 or higher while the other one always rolls 3 or smaller on the dice, she played almost exclusively double tiles while, by 75% into the game I could only play three. Yes, in case luck has such an extraordinary effect, the power of double tiles is disturbing - but it does not happen in every second game and Qin is fast so I still don't find it to be a real problem.

Otherwise, lots of plays with kids as usual.
Hisss x3
Animal Upon Animal x2
Coloretto Amazonas x2 with my son who won both games wow
My Beautiful Pony x2 with both kids and my daughter won both. She's fast!
Nacht der Magier x2, 4-player fun in the dark
Cheeky Monkey x1
Chicken Cha Cha Cha x1
Heckmeck Junior x1,
first time 4-player, Borcsa understood the rules quite fine and this was the first time Miska played really understanding what he does and why
Kangaroo x1
The Kids of Carcassonne x1
Old Maidx1

Something Snakes and Ladders-like x1 You know, all these roll and move kids games belong here
Dobble x1
Tor x1 - I hope the database change I initiated is going to happen soon, as this Tor is rather different (and I believe, better) than 1995 Tor
Trap the Cap x1

Two tales told with Rory's Story Cubes: first, in the evening, as a bedtime story, I wanted some change - I'd been telling the tales with the three small sets for too long, so now I told a story using 3-3 dice from the base set, Actions and Voyages each.

On the next day they prepared some surprise for me in the morning: they made a 36-dice long snake using all the dice in the 6 sets and asked me to tell a story. Even though I told them it's going to be crazier than a usual tale, they really wanted the story so they got it. This 75-minute story turned out to be more coherent than I hoped (hey, 36 dice from many different topics in an order they created and not me...) with later dice explaining things that happened in the beginning and so on, even though it still had crazy sub-threads like a triceratops turning into an elephant with a pirate on its back or a naked old man with long white beard, trying to catch butterflies to cuff them to his beard with tiny handcuffs, lots of crazy things happening because UFO tourists wanted to turn our Earth into an amusement park... it was a fun exercise, something in the vein of Neil Gaiman's Fortunately the Milk.
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9. Board Game: Kingdom Hearts TCG [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:12219]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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I found two unopened starter packs nestled on my gaming shelf, and Debbie and I decided to give it a go -- we'd been discussing Netrunner, I had lamented that she doesn't like CCGs, she replied she just didn't want to play Magic with me again for skillgap reasons upthread, but wouldn't be averse to learning a CCG wholly new to me as well. And so we did.

Cute little game. Probably a bit too draw-luck based for me to dive deep, but I'm not looking for more addictions that make me buy lots more cards. The fact that it's out of print will keep me from buying any more cards for it, and that to me is its main advantage.
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10. Board Game: Neuland [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1893]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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The Alphabet challenge continues...

Neuland (3P) — This time we played the game according to the correct rules, though we did add the Alchemist from the 2nd Ed.

Regrettably it did little in the overall feel for the game. Creating little production pockets was easier, true; but in the end it still was a slow, arduous process with everyone on the verge of completing the last (winning) building. Considering the effort that went into reaching that state... no. I wasn't interested in finding out who won and left the calculations of optimum moves to my opponents while cleaning up the kitchen and putting out some refreshments. One of my opponents, who'd been complaining a little that various resources were not directly needed for the prestige buildings, indicated he wanted to play a final game because he agreed with me that neglecting their indirect requirement wasn't such a good idea. But how that is going to improve matters to the point where I like playing Neuland is something I cannot really imagine. For the same time investment I could put out something like The Great Zimbabwe, and have a far more enjoyable time playing that particular game... so I fear Neuland's days are numbered.

OddVille (3P, 2x) — Two games which cemented my view on the necessity of houseruling the Cheater and Bookkeeper character cards. The answer is, somewhat surprisingly, not. OddVille has numerous other lopsided combinations which can rear their heads under all sorts of circumstances. In one of the games for example I was innocently blocked from placing two valuable buildings along roads, thus forcing me to place them against closed edges, foregoing the placement bonuses. The alternative would have been to nullify nearly every action up until that point, so I had little choice in the matter. Unfortunately my buildings also opened up the road system again, which was immediately taken advantage of by my opponents. They were then one full resource/building cycle ahead of me and had various useful characters to rely upon; I had none. The result: me losing the game at about 1/3rd in. Even though Cheater and Bookkeeper were present, houseruling their powers as suggested by me would have amounted to exactly nothing.

OddVille simply behaves like this at times; and if it is clear that an early winner emerges, then the wisest thing to do is probably to concede the game and start again. There is simply no point in continuing play save for, perhaps, working out how all the building bonuses work together.

The second game was much more balanced with the players finishing within 7 VP from each other, which I think is acceptable. (The 21 VP of the previous game wasn't!)

My gaming friend pronounced this a game he'd like to see more often at game days with friends and relatives, and philosophised a little why this game was as unknown as it was, especially given its small price of slightly over €10. We did not reach a conclusion.
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11. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:60]
Andrew
United States
San Francisco
California
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There was quite a bit of gaming this week, though a lot of losing as well!

On Monday I started with a fun 3p game of Hanabi (score 22), definitely most fun when played casually without convention, with the meaning of clues being primarily contextual.

This was followed by two victorious rounds of Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts, and Glass Road, which received a positive response. It's always nice to see other people enjoying a game I like. Another player described it as "point salad" compared to Le Havre, which he preferred for its more straightforward "get steel, build ships" gameplay - the meaning of the phrase is muddy, but scoring in Glass Road is definitely less straightforward (assuming his description of Le Havre is correct).

During the week I played 24 games of Android: Netrunner online and unfortunately bitterly lost two thirds of them. A few experimental NBN-without-Astroscript decks contributed, but many of the losses were due to an Anarch deck I've been working on. Anarchs are considered the weakest Runner faction at the moment (with poor economy and card draw, and self-destructive tendencies), and I encountered a lot of glacier builds that simply locked me out. With the recent release of Android: Netrunner – Upstalk (with the glacier-friendly NEXT Silver, Midway Station, and Mother Goddess), I might take a break from this deck and play an easier faction for a while.

On the weekend there was a local charity convention, which Ted Alspach, Matt Leacock, and Thomas Lehmann attended. Raffle prizes were sessions playing unreleased games with them, and I was hoping to play Roll for the Galaxy.

I was going to play Suburbia with a friend, but there were some confused-looking newer/non/pre-gamers wandering around, so instead I taught them Splendor. Admittedly it can be a bit of a brain-burner (though I never play it that way, probably why I lose) but it's always eye-opening to see what a cognitive load learning a hobby game can be.

I then jumped into a partial 2v2 game of Word on the Street, which I quite enjoyed. Unlike Scrabble, having a vocabulary of long words and knowing their definitions is more important than memorising those accursed 2-letter words and defensive positioning on the board. We called it ahead of time, but I was definitely on the underdog side. There was a hilarious point where we had to name a Biblical character (preferably one with a 'G') and both of us drew a complete blank, and in the last seconds spelt the very low scoring "God".

Up next was the 2p push-your-luck mob-themed dice game Capo Dei Capi, followed by the also crime-themed Greed, which due to my lousy reading comprehension we played wrong three times (not putting any money markers on newly built holdings). shake I enjoyed them both; the first is a little unusual - a 2p push-your-luck game! - while the second (a Donald X game) is very familiar: a Fairy Tale style drafting game in which you draft one card, play one card, and repeat. Card selection is simultaneous (each card has a priority number in the corner) and after a couple of turns you'll know almost all the cards in the game, unless people are drawing new ones from the deck. The card play itself involves combos, and mild interactive effects (bonuses for majorities, making opponents lose money or trash cards they've played - though the latter happens next turn so they can mitigate it). It's really simple and I liked the fast play.

A pleasant but very close game of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small ended the evening - I didn't build any of the special buildings and won by a single point. Our scores were kind of low and I'm still experimenting with the advice that guy gave me months ago.

A bunch of the prerelease game sessions were raffled at this point, and one of the newbies I taught Splendor to (unable to attend those sessions the following day) gave me his ticket, which ended up being drawn! Needless to say, I signed up for Roll for the Galaxy, a secret Tom Lehmann game, and Pandemic: The Cure (I wanted to play another secret game but the times didn't line up).

The next day I jumped into 2p Pandemic: On the Brink - normally I lose it horribly, but the other guy knew what he was doing (though he refrained from saying what to do), and the game started to click. Surprisingly after the first two epidemics, we gained control of the game and won smoothly. It'll come as no surprise to the veterans, but exploiting the player powers and timing the special events was critical.

With some time to kill I went over to where Tom and Matt were and chatted. Tom contrasted his XKCD-level prototypes to Matt's amazing prototypes, and showed some of the Roll for the Galaxy art and an older draft of the rules. He told stories of his older designs (I finally found out what the original theme of Pizarro & Co. was.) A few of us played a microgame Tom had made, and then we finally got to what I had been waiting for.

Roll for the Galaxy is about as complex as Race for the Galaxy, with phase selection, special powers, combos, and many similar elements to the card game, and appears to be around as deep. The central mechanic is a fantastic roll-and-allocate system that is surprisingly mechanically evocative. The dice do what they want - depending on how you acquired them, they have different tendencies - you can spend effort controlling them (to a degree), getting more dice, or being more selective in the dice you acquire. It's great stuff, and an auto-buy for me when it comes out. My only concern is that it will probably be less portable than the card game, so I might not be able to bring it everywhere like I do with Alien Artifacts.

Next I played Pandemic: The Cure, and perhaps it's the effect of having a good group, but I thought the game was fantastic. Rather than being dumbed down, it seemed like there was more happening than in the non-dice version! Players have dice specific to their role, and the way you're rolling dice every turn makes it feel like anything could happen, rather than being as calculative as the original game, with the pathfinding and action/card counting. It was a close game, but we lost.

Next up was Tom's secret co-op, and it turns out that Tom is a funny guy, as he cheered every time something bad happened and booed when something good happened. We won, sending Tom into deep depression.

I played another round of Greed, this time with the right rules (and lost badly).

Then we had the Race for the Galaxy tournament (double elimination, with around 10 people), which I thought I had a good chance of winning - but it turned out that we were playing the base game! As alluded to in my answers this week, I am not good moving between formats, and I ran into another top player in the second round and got smashed when I tried to go military. Tip for the base game: don't go military. Another thing is that produce-consume loops are viable much earlier in the base game, which I didn't quite get the timing of. So my hopes were dashed and I bombed out of the tournament.

Finally, I played a 4p game of Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts with Tom. When I got a bad draw I said "This is terrible - who designed this ridiculous game? It's all just luck!" and he replied "Welcome, you're now an official member of the playtesting team." Anyway, I finally got that military strategy working (sort-of) and rushed the game; however Tom dropped Rebel Resistance and if I ended the game then, I'd be in second place. So I held back and prayed for good cards for a couple of turns. Unfortunately Tom got those cards instead, and the other two players caught up in the interim, sending me to last place!

So it was a great week for gaming but not for winning. However it was great playing a variety of new games and getting away from Netrunner. Maybe I'll do some research on upcoming games prior to BGG Con after all.

Oh, we had a charity auction and Tom bid high to purchase Android: Netrunner - turns out he played a lot of the original back in the day. Who knows, he might get addicted to it and neglect Race for the Galaxy, just like me!
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12. Board Game: UGO! [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2620]
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
United States
Folsom
CA
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...the headlamps of your eyes will make them dream.
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UGO! (4p)

Eff yeah. I think I finally got this game, winning it 63 to 21 to something small and something negative. I finally understood that, when you look at your hand, you can KIND of suss a strategy, but really, it's very very tactical. I think I love it a little more every time. I quite enjoy that the card counting isn't absolute because of the 5 discards- it keeps me playing loose.

OddVille (3p)

I quite liked it, as it was short and brutish, with lots of disruptions. I built a scoring plan and eventually triumphed. My wife... seems less enamoured. She feels she's seen everything she ever wanted from it. I'm going to try to convince her, but she's got high standards. At least higher than me.

Bruxelles 1893 (5p)

So much fun, but dammit. Dammit. I tried ignoring shield bonuses and characters just to build, build, build. I ended up burned pretty badly, but it was tons of fun- despite my voice going because I had just explained Helvetia the next table over. I can't wait to play again, just to swim around in the strategic space.



Also, I wasn't blue, and that surely had SOMETHING to do with it.

Los Banditos (2p)

Man, I love this game, especially with my homebrew cards, which I remade with that kumon retheme I so love. Like a quick, hilarious battle-line with a much funnier PYL element. Used a new cigar box tower my friend made for me.


The Dice tower made for me being used at the other table.

Mummy's Treasure (2p)



Theseus: The Dark Orbit (4p Team)

Wow. This... game. It's pretty awesome, and team is hilariously fun. I quite enjoyed the fact that you can use each team-mate's cards and the fact that the sectors really fill up much quicker. On a minus, apparently you can see who's going to win about 2/3 of the way through. But that may have been pessimism from the sleepy post-midnighters.

Candy Chaser (2p)

Still great fun! It really is a perfect little slice of bluffing.

Great questions this week, and I'm going to be thinking about that as I pack games for the family vacation.



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13. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:208]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Sorry Lori, I just can't face answering all those questions this week. Particularly when I think the answer to them all is essentially "It depends..."

So, what have I played? Well crazy working hours means I've had very little opportunity to game. When not working I've been blackberry picking, snoozing on the floor (literally myself, Kathryn and her sister fell asleep splayed across the floor) and just general playing with Sophie. She's so close to walking, she climbs the stairs super quick and can walk comfortably with a walker. She likes practicing standing without support in the bath which seems a funny place to do it.

I did get an opportunity recently to play Acquire with Kathryn. We used the AChoir Android app with an AI player. I had to hold back to ensure Kathryn wasn't completely locked out and she said in future she'll have a better idea of what to do. We also had one game of Hanabi with her sister. It went reasonably well, scoring 23 I think.

Aside from that I've been making occasional moves on LittleGolem completing a few StreetSoccer games. I think my luck is on the wane at the moment but I'm holding on to a top 30 position on the site.
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14. Board Game: Dragon Teeth Washer [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:9675]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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not much really for two weeks. well no really to the not much.

None whatsoever.

However the girl's first couple teeth broke through this saturday...surprisingly emotional. Its moving too damn fast.
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15. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:537]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I've got some catching up to do!

Two games nights this week, Tuesday at Andrew's house and Thursday at the bike cafe.

Tuesday:

Port Royal - a well-established hit with my group now
The Palaces of Carrara - a welcome return to the table
Abluxxen (NOT Linko!)
Hanabi

Thursday:

Port Royal
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
Take It Easy
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