Geek Chat League Gelato 124: Great expectations
welcome your reptilian overlords!
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A Geek Chat League is a weekly discussion-group format for people who love gaming and enjoy talking about games. It is intended to foster depth and familiarity, producing engaging content and worthwhile interaction. Members get to know one another, establish shared interests, and generally develop a friendly and productive environment.
Of necessity, each division of GCL is kept relatively small (typically between 12-16 members, though individual divisions may incline one way or the other). A tight-knit discussion group tends to function more smoothly than a free-for-all. It allows individuals to be heard and understood, and for each participant to keep up and enjoy multiple topics as the week progresses. The format is geeklist-based, and lists are not published to the BGG front page.
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leroy 43 (Roger)
Capt_S (Jon) *** your show next week ***
Cole Wehrle (Cole)
eapeas (Edward & Amanda)
Lil Red Head (Nikki)
tommynomad (T. Nomad)
*** = Next up!
welcome your reptilian overlords!
1. Managing Expectations -- in gaming
Last week I played my first game of Power Grid. It was the last of the
current top 10 on BGG that I had not yet played. I had heard good
things about it: heavy on strategy, excellent resource-market simulating
supply and demand, tough decisions. In retrospect, I think my
enjoyment of the game was hindered by my expectations, especially as
far as the resource-market goes. It was not a bad game but it
felt... dated. And just overall not as excellent as many die-hard fans
here on BGG made me expect. My biggest disappointement, however, was
probably Mage Knight or Eclipse. It, both actually, sounded totally awesome, I really
wanted to love these games. Somehow the mechanics get in the way and
prevent me from enjoying the thematic aspects.
This kind of disappointment due to expectations raised by the online
community has been more relevant in recent years where my gaming taste
has narrowed down. As a consequence (one among several others), I now spend much less time here
on BGG and do a lot less research about games I might be interested in.
What about you? How much do you enjoy getting excited about games by
reading up on them before actually buying or purchasing them? What was
your biggest disappointment of expectations in gaming?
welcome your reptilian overlords!
2. Managing Expectations -- in real life
This summer, for quite some time it seemed as if I'd be able to make a major
step forward in my professional life. Now, almost three months and
heavy set-backs later, it all seems to amount to nothing -- with
heavy negative repercussions for my current job. I now wish I had kept
my cool and waited until everything was 100% in place before sharing
my plans with friends and family.
How do you personally handle expectations? Do you tend to share them early and
freely at the risk of having to report failure when things don't quite
work out the way you hoped? Do you find comfort in sharing the story
of your failures or do you find it exhausting and adding additional
annoyance to an already unpleasant situation?
welcome your reptilian overlords!
3. Gaming -- a recreational experience?
I've always considered gaming a recreational experience. Until
recently, there was little chance I would turn down the opportunity to
play a game or two simply because doing so always felt good, relaxing,
and turned my attention away from the problems of real life. In a way,
gaming was one of my preferred ways of finding some peace of mind when
real life issues were overwhelming me.
More recently, however, my experience with gaming has been more of a mixed
bag: sometimes fun, sometimes relaxing, sometimes none of the two. I'm not entirely
sure what the explanation for this is: initially, I blamed the games
and sometimes my opponents (noone in particular; it was more like a
vague feeling). Then, I wondered if gaming in general had
lost its appeal to me and if I was maybe just moving on. Going to
gaming nights sometimes felt more like work than fun and I could not
even trace this sentiment to specific people or games. Even games I
rate very highly and have always loved were affected. In a way, it's a
bit of a gamer's crisis that I suspect is heavily influenced not by
the games or the gamers around me but by disturbances in my everyday
life. Sports how has taken the spot as the one pastime that makes me
forget everything else.
How does it work for you: is gaming something that helps you forget worries
and concerns at least for some time or is your enjoyment at the gaming
table directly affected by real life?
welcome your reptilian overlords!
Winter,… ahem, Autumn is coming.
It’s only early September but over here in Germany, it feels as if Autumn had arrived three weeks ago. With the hot season over and cooler temperatures coming, indoor activities become more relevant. What are you most looking forward to going into the last months of the year?
I for my part hope to schedule a vacation in the sun and hopefully some diving before the year is over. Maybe followed by a skiing-vacation. And before someone asks about Essen: I most likely won’t go this year as I found the experience underwhelming last October. Heck, I couldn’t even name one game that will be released at Essen that gets me excited.
Board Game: Flying Colors
[Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:1566]
[Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Dear Geek: Please insert the wittiest comment you can think of in this text pop-up. Then times it by seven.
The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
This past week, these games were played face-to-face:
This past week, these games started:
Stonewall Jackson's Way II, Scenario 6 v. Patrick (Advanced Game!)
This past week, these games continued:
1889 v. 4-Player (GCL Gelato!)
Song of Ice and Fire RPG v. 4-Player
Burnside Takes Command, Scenario 2 v. Carsten (100-Game-Play Challenge!)
Space Empires 4X v. 4-Player (GCL Gelato!)
Pax Porfiriana v. 4-Player (GCL Gelato!)
This past week, these games concluded:
Unconditional Surrender: Case Blue (Solitaire) - The game ended in a draw. I think this is probably the most likely outcome of any play of the game barring an extremely high (or low) amount of luck. This version is the younger (much younger) brother to the full game of Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe. This game's goal is to teach the basics of production, maneuver, combat, supply, upgrades, mobilization, and replacements without the political and naval layers. Overall, I found the design interesting; especially with regards to the stickiness of the EZOCs and the way supply is handled. I had some questions about the scenario, but I'm reserving them until (if) I play through the game a second time. I made lots of errors. The northern part of the map was a shambles of intermixed out-of-supply units . . .
This past week, these games/accessories were acquired:
Gettysburg: The Wheatfield
Won By the Sword
Fire in the Lake
This past week, these interesting things happened in my games and my life:
1 ---> 100-Game Play Challenge. Started the Advanced Game (Scenario 6) of All Green Alike. This is my first foray into the "Advanced GCACW" -- I chose this module because it has the lowest unit density, relatively simple rules, and a short number of turns. For all it's "advanced-ness" it is really just a much longer scenario (13 turns) with a few extra rules. It should be a great first step. I have heard that the advanced games are the real way to play GCACW. I'm going to find out.
2 ---> Future PBEM. All right, so I had previously said I wanted one 18XX game, one Pax Porfiriana game, two GCACW games, and two Other. Thus far I only have to fill one: I think this one is going to be Flying Colors. Any Gelati up for a game?
3 ---> Solitaire Gaming / Miniatures Painting. The follow "solitaire" projects are coming along:
(a) Sails of Glory. Status: Painted the masts on the core set. I plan on sepia washing the masts tonight, and possibly gluing the rat-lines into place. Since I own two copies, I am planning on putting the pimped minis side-by-side with the out-of-the-box minis for a comparison photo. I also repainted the hull of one of the sloops - I wanted a stripe of red running down the gun whales. It looks awesome.
This is all part of a goal of pimping my Sails of Glory miniatures in preparation for a Flying Colors mod with pictures and plan, here. If I get enough interest, I'll be running a game with these minis at BGG Con 2014 -- of my three "con experiences" I want to have this year.
(b) Unconditional Surrender: Case Blue. Status: Completed! This will be removed next week.
(c) Crossfire Miniatures Painting. Status: No Progress this Week - Still Working on the Germans.
4 ---> Family. I have a five-day period off with my wife, so splitting child care duties will be really great for a few days. She generally does most of it, anyway, and I love her for it, but I try to help out where I can.
5 ---> BGG Con 2014. The wargame meet-up list is up. I am currently hoping for three primary "con experience" game events this year: (a) Here I Stand Annual Game . . . the only time of the year I get to play this wonderful game, (b) Pimped, Epic, Flying Colors, (c) a double-blind refereed game of Napoleon the Waterloo Campaign, 1815.
"L'état, c'est moi."
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
This is the week that was:
Combat Commander: Pacific 1
Pacific Typhoon 1
Thunder Alley 1
Twilight Struggle 1
A crazy busy week. My mother in law came to visit us and so there was a lot of great family fun to be had all around.
However, I did get out gaming on Thursday with the usual gang, and on Friday with Jonathan where we played until very late or if you're of another mind until very early...
Thursday night we played a game I haven't played in ages - Kingsburg! It might have been one if not the first of the dice roll allocation games trend that came and went (and will doubtless come around again). I managed to eke out a one point win.
We then played Pacific Typhoon, which I keep feeling should not take more than about 45 minutes full stop, but with these guys takes almost twice as long. This is an observation rather than a complaint as I really enjoy Pacific Typhoon. I came middle of the pack.
Friday night after a great dinner with Jonathan and his wife, the three of us played Thunder Alley. Once again I managed to lose out to Jonathan who seems to have a real feel for the game, but I really made him work for it.
He and I then broke out Twilight Struggle, a game that I fall in love with again every time I play it live (it loses a lot of that poker tension in pbem) and he crushed me with a Soviet steamroller at the start of turn 4.
The best game of the night however was our session of CC Pacific. We played scenario B which sees a group of Japanese troops following a trail to go reinforce the front ambushed by allied troops. We decided sides randomly and I got the Japanese. The set up is intriguing because the Japanese must set up in a long chain along the trail, only one unit per space (making the leaders quite vulnerable), while the allies use the objective markers as potential set up spaces (and can also set up anywhere along the road except the hex where the road intersects the trail).
Adding to this intrigue are special rules that the allies cannot exit while there are Japanese leaders on the map, the allies have six broken green teams on their side to start (representing fatigue), and only one objective in play - exit points being worth +1 - and it's an interesting race. The time track runs from 4-12 so time is not going to be a pressure factor the same way most other scenarios are.
I set my guys up, he set up his, and then it was on. He quickly despatched a few of my SNLF guys who were out in the open, but I managed to quickly exit the lead of my pack and tossed a few guys into the jungle. He was very solid at firing at my guys and keeping them shot up and suppressed and I kept sneaking units off the end of the map.
In the end what turned the tide in my favour is that he wasn't able to get all my leaders off the board and I was able to not only get enough units off the board to give me a comfortable VP cushion, but also their return at the Japanese map edge meant I was able to get a consolidated force that was able to hold up on its own as well as well as start inflicting return casualties. When time expired I was at +24 VP even though I had more casualties than he did.
One Hundred Game Challenge Comments: I've always liked CC Europe better than Pacific. Europe feels more cinematic, more HBO Band of Brothers. Pacific is touted as the better CC game by some, and it is a harder game in several respects. The American and Commonwealth units feature very few with boxed anything on their counters. Recovering your units is a slow and difficult process - contrast this to the all or nothing approach in Europe where you could potentially rally everyone.
It's accurate to paint Pacific as more nuanced and requiring (and rewarding) more careful planning. I give CC Pacific a _10_ alongside Europe, I personally feel Europe's more fun. However, all that said, Scenario B from Pacific is the most fun scenario I've played on either side of the Europe/Pacific divide in a long time.
This week in pbem: Two games of Pax. One each of A Distant Plain, 1989, Thunder Alley, UKC, and 1989. Our Eclipse game ended and while I thought the one guy was the leader, it turns out that, um, I was, and I won 36-28-21-15. We're kicking off a 4 player Thunder Alley soon.
Speaking of which, I've enjoyed Thunder Alley at every player count I've tried to date, but I think 4 might well be the sweet spot. With 4 cars each you have 16 on the track. We're going with Pullinger's Pyramid.
The teachers and the province were in all weekend talks, and there was a glimmer of hope with the well respected and renowned labour mediator Vince Ready present and ready to jump in to help get a deal done, but the talks collapsed and now there's talk that school probably won't resume until October.
On a more positive note, and a more cheerful one, I have a friend who runs a community kitchen out of her home and backyard, and this weekend was salsa and tomatoes. Yesterday a crew descended on her house and they prepared about 80 litres of salsa. Today I joined the crew to prep, scald, peel, dice, jar, and can about 220 litres of tomatoes. Many hands make light work as they say - my haul was 24 litres of tomatoes and a bonus of 3 litres of tomato juice. There were 20 cases of ripe Roma tomatoes involved in the process, roughly 362kg (800lbs) over the two days, the bulk of them today.
Tomorrow I have to deal with about 10lbs of rhubarb my parents dropped off yesterday morning as well as about 8lbs of blueberries. I might just have to make bluebarb jam. There may be a rhubarb custard pie too.
“It's all in the mind.” ― George Harrison
Devoted Follower of the Most Holy Church of the Evil Bob. Possessed and down the road to become chaotic, evil & naughty. All hail the Evil Bob and his Stargate.
Not much gaming this week, and no new games.
We had an invitation to a steak house on Friday, and it turned out to be a great evening. I haven't been at that place before and I was pleasantly surprised to see a wonderful restaurant, furnished mostly with wood and decorated with old Wild West stuff - Winchesters, cowboy boots, lanterns, flags, colts, pelts, and all kinds of stuff. As a side order, I tried "chuckwagon beans" to my steak as I never have heard of them before. I was so excited about them, that I searched the net the next day and I cooked some yesterday! Ingalisa - not really caring for beans - wasn't impressed, but I and Andrea were totally happy with the result!
Sunday afternoon we played three games of Race for the Galaxy on the patio, but in the middle of our fourth game, it suddenly went dark and a bad thunderstorm broke lose. This one was really fast! No wind or other signs beforehand as a warning. We quickly ran into the house, saving the game, but not the match ... oh well, I was losing anyway
Board Game: Cubist
[Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:2338]
Once again not a lot going on board gaming wise, though I hope to rectify that today.
My gaming buddy I hadn't seen in forever canceled our game day yesterday, which was kind of depressing but I ended up funneling all that energy into yard work instead.
I got to play Manoeuvre this week (10x10) and I was the Austrians versus my wife's Spaniards. Thankfully I can look Ron in the eyes afterward and say that I won. My wife is really quite good at Manoeuvre, and I expected her to win with the strong Spanish defense by trotting up into my territory and just locking me down, which she attempted, but I finally got my cavalry through her ranks and started wreaking havoc back there so she had to divert attention to me. It was still a close game, but Nightfall saved the day for the Austrians.
I also got to play Cubist, which I was excited about. Alf Seegert is a friend of mine, and I really like his designs. This was no exception. He does a great job of allowing luck to enter his games and seem like a potent force, but then provides just the right amount of control to make the game more strategic than lucky. This one was fun because it utilizes dice for rolling, as usual, but also as parts of sculptures, wherein matching numbers and sequences of numbers is important to completing them. I had a blast, and my son picked up on it quickly too, which was great. Very cool game.
Other than all that, I did a ton of yard work. My HOA is a bunch of noisy, bored twits, and they randomly decided my rock landscaping was too sparse.. So they literally gave me 6 days to fix it. I got a 60 day extension (24 days ago) because I wasn't sure when I would have time. My buddy canceling gave me the time so I went and picked up a half ton of rock and spread that over my front yard yesterday. I probably could have done with less than that, but I got a good deal.
I also cleared out some old stuff from my backyard that I've been meaning to get rid of for ages but couldn't quite get figure out when or how to do it. We have bulk trash pickup this week, and I can guess that my trash guys are probably going to love me afterward. I moved everything into my garage until trash day, though, so I can't wait to dump all this stuff on the curb.
Other than that, it was just work. Convention season is starting in Vegas, starting with SEMA in a month or so and culminating with CES in January. For those who aren't familiar with convention centers, We are the third largest building in the US, and CES takes almost a month to build up prior to the show, plus a couple of weeks for tear down. My gaming life in December and January may be nonexistent.
I hope everyone has a great week!
Edits: fixing iPad autocorrections...
Edit again: I keep forgetting to list the a PBEM games.
Gelato Thunder Alley and Space Empires are going well. Stig's and my master plan is about to unfold upon the unsuspecting aliens, and TA just keeps surprising me. I can't wait to play it f2f. Really cool game!
Thunder Alley: Crew Chief Expansion - Coming soon to Kickstarter!
Evil lurks here!
This past week, these games were played solitaire:
Thunder Alley Played a 2-team race on Yunta. My cards wasn't shuffled good enough, so the various cards came in chunks. Sometimes the whole field drafted like crazy, sometimes everyone went solo.
Dungeon Roll 3 games of this one which came in a trade. Light filler.
The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 Took out this for a spin. Almost caught a Capital Ship, but my Aft Torp doors was shot to pieces before I could take the last damage point. Good fun.
This past week, these games were played face-to-face:
Dungeon Roll My daughter played this as I was the dungeon. She has some of the cclever decisions already. She liked it a lot, but pushes her luck too far. She tries to reach level 9.
Super Circles 4 games against my daughter. Fun enough game and she beats me sometimes.
This past week, these games started:
Noe, as I think I am at my sweetspot of games pbem.
This past week, these games continued:
Cuba Libre Gelato game 3. Playing as 26July.
Thunder Alley Gelato pbem game. No longer winning as the Black Mythos team.
Thunder Alley 7 team pbem game on Saint Adriana with some folks from the SGoYT list. Curently 6th in the standings. 4 points behind the one in front.
Memoir '44: Campaign Book Volume 1 Dunkirk vassal pbem scenario. Last scenario in the Fall Gelb campaign.
Space Empires: 4X Gelato pbem game. I went into Deep Space today.
Thunder Alley My final race of my 4 race 7-team solo season. This one is on Pullinger's Pyramid. Forgot to mention this one last week.
This past week, these games concluded:
This past week, these games/accessories were acquired:
Recieved a bunch of items from a "Choose 10 points worth of games"trade
Giro D'Italia Card game
Scrabble Dash(Norwegian edition)
Dr. Kawagagi's brain training for DS(for my daughter)
This past week, this was one of the songs I listened to.
10 year olds are not nearly old enough to understand how embarrasing the 80'ies was. Let's just leave it at that.
This week is the 90'ies. Grunge, britpop. Looking good.
This past week, these interesting things happened.
Can't really think of a single thing of interest.
Watched "Captain America:WInter Soldier again. Cool movie.
Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
So we got in a game of the short scenario (using historical cards) of Fire in the Lake on Friday night (I was the VC). Outstanding. I'd playtested it with Volko (I like to think my scamming skills as the ARVN helped shape the final rules on patronage!), but not for a while so it was nice to play the final version. Highly recommended.
World in Flames vassal/skype resumed after a couple of weeks off. The damned weather won't cooperate - Sept/Oct 1944 was long, and the opening weeks of November/December were fair weather. Germany is probably doomed. Japan though might be able to hold on long enough for me to get a draw. Won't play for a couple of weeks because one of the Allies is off doing something unimportant, what is it, oh yeah getting married.
On Friday night after FitL had a game of A Study in Emerald (quite like it), and of an old favorite, Atlantic Storm.
PBEM: We're rocking along in Pax Porfiriana. Jon is back in action in Fire in the Sky. Cuba Libre and A Distant Plain and Thunder Alley games moving slowly. Hopefully the paces will pick up as the summer holidays end.
I also finished my solo play of the 1944 campaign in Unconditional Surrender. The Allies managed to break down the Germans and achieve victory with a turn to spare.
Winner of the C. Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence
I've been kind of out of the loop of the GCL over the past several weeks, as I've still been battling vertigo issues that have interfered with my gaming. I did manage to post my own GCL a couple weeks ago because I didn't want to bail and stick somebody else with an unexpected week, and I had a topic in mind, so it didn't take me too long to post it.
But I haven't been posting much in the other GCL lists, and haven't posted a gaming update in quite a while.
Despite my health issues, I did make it through Gen Con, though because of the medication I was on, I was only able to do about 25% of what I wanted to do, and ended up about 50% more exhausted than I usually am after Gen Con. Fortunately, I'm off the medication now and the vertigo symptoms are improving every day. I should be back to "normal" in a couple more weeks.
It was a busy week at work this week, so didn't do much gaming, but did manage to get in some Labor Day gaming with the wife. Also, I've been working on finally painting my much-neglected Mansions of Madness figures. I've now got almost the whole set painted, except for the large Cthonians and Shoggoths. Those should be pretty easy, since there's not too many colors or fine details involved, but I need to get a bigger paintbrush for them - my usual minis brushes are too small.
Anyway, to gaming:
Tried out Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, which I saw demo'd at Gen Con and ended up picking up from my FLGS, as I had a nice discount built up through their loyalty points program. I love all things Aliens, so I had to get this. I was hoping the artwork would be a little more movie-inspired, but I understand they want it to still be able to merge with other Marvel deck-building games, so they can't go too far afield with the artwork. Plus, the gameplay soon left my concerns with the artwork in the dust. A rollicking good time, especially with multiple players. And a fairly difficult game, at that. We got our asses handed to us several times.
This was a Gen Con pickup, from the Game Salute booth (along with Epic Death!). I actually really enjoyed it. Playing as Caroline Bingley, I was able to secure my desired suitor, Col. Fitzwilliam. My wife pinned all her hopes on one suitor and ended up an Old Maid, so I won, even though she had the initiative in picking suitors, thanks to her high cunning score. A fun little game, and actually quite a bit of strategy involved - I'd be interested to see how it plays with more than two players. We were both pretty aggressive at stripping points off of each other, and I'd be curious to see how the attacking dynamic plays out with larger groups.
Anyway, next week I'll finally be getting back to some wargaming, with The Civil War on the table at the club, and Fire in the Lake arriving from CSI.
Also, I'm toying with setting up This Terrible Sound and trying it with the Line of Battle 2.0 rules. Probably not the full campaign - I'll try something small first.
nominated me to be Geek of the Week this week, for which I'm duly honored. Especially considering that I haven't been posting as much lately.
J. R. Tracy
welcome your reptilian overlords!
These last weeks in gaming:
I've been lazy and haven't posted much about my recent gaming, in part because there was not too much to write about. Therefore, the following list covers roughly the last 5 weeks.
Power Grid I've already talked about a bit. Not a bad game but my expectations were probably just too high. It felt dated and the fact that there is virtually no hidden information and almost no luck makes the last turn AP-prone as players can calculate pretty accurately how their actions will affect the final VP count. I'd play it again but will probably not actively ask for it to be brought to the table.
After Power Grid, we were joined by a fifth player and had to decide whether to play Caverna: The Cave Farmers or Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game next. I was happy we went for BSG. It was a fun game including a few elements from the various expansions. Unfortunately, both Cylons came up during the mid-game sleeper phase and it was an uphill battle from there. I was one of the toasters. For a long time, I was not totally convinced I like this game. Nowadays, I really enjoy it.
I've also played two games (one of them via Vassal) of Sekigahara. I like block games but was never terribly interested in thi one. Not sure if it was the artwork or the theme that didn't really catch my attention. I really missed out on a good game (potentially "great" but I need more plays before making up my mind). The card-driven system is both innovative and very interesting. Definitely superior to the one used in Columbia's games, although I understand it is strongly influenced by the historic context and thus should probably not be copied to any other conflict/war. The production quality is impressive and play time is very reasonable. Playing it on Vassal was not quite as good as playing the physical copy of the game, I think, as handling the blocks and cards is a bit clunky.
Also played some Warhammer: Diskwars with my nemesis,
That game's ok-ish. I will play it again but am just not interested enough to explore the deeper mechanics. Which, of course, damns me to perpetuating my loss-streak to all eternity. We also played some Summoner Wars, a game of Glory to Rome and a 3-player game of Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game and of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. I also introduced Chris to Paths of Glory but it was not a big success. In case I failed to mention it: that weekend at Chris' place I was a perfect guest: I let him win every single game we played. Except fot that little military-themed cardgame (forget the name).
Two weeks ago I managed to introduce some fellow gamers to an old favorite of mine, Middle-Earth Quest. I played Sauron and was up against the Ranger and the Gal from Gondor. The players had a very good start but then the game resulted in some sort of stalemate. The heroes were not able to penetrate my defenses (I had my minions nicely covering my plots) and I was not able to really push my own agenda. The game would have ended in a duel between a hero and the Wraiths but we decided to call it a draw. The imbalance between the single heroes and the victory conditions are the two things that still bother me about this game. Other than that, great fun.
So yeah, y'all know about the drama last week with Amanda and Asher getting attacked. All are healing well and life is finally getting back to somewhat 'normal'. God knows we could use that for a few days now, heh.
Game plays from the last 2 weekends (since I haven't posted recently):
Hammer of the Scots
The Downfall of Pompeii
Facts in Five x2
bold = new to us
The obvious big one was Panamax, but I'll get to that one last since it's going to roll into the bigger discussion of heavy vs complex.
Craftsmen - I had heard about this @ Essen time last year, when it was released. However, it never really got a US distribution, so it flew WAY, WAY under-the-radar. That was until Vasel reviewed is and H-A-T-E-D it. Which, obviously, puts it higher on my radar than it already was. An i-buddy (from Twitter & here) wrote a good review of it, so those two reviews drove me to obtain a reasonably cheap copy of the game. It's longer than most here are going to be willing to play (an hour per player), plus, this is the ONE game I'll agree with that has aspects that are 'complex for complexities sake', which doesn't bother me, but will y'all. In a nutshell, though, man this was really, really enjoyable. So much so that it's one of my co-host's Top 3 games of all time. I wouldn't put it that high on my list, but it's one I'm excited to play a lot more of. Go watch Vasel's vid if you're curious, but y'all won't like it.
Hammer of the Scots - FINALLY got a block wargame played! Super, S-U-P-E-R simple rulebook (8 pages) that is easy to grok and the mechanics and battle system are, again, simple, yet it is a damn interesting game. With it being a block game, combat losses are as simple as rotating the block to a different side. Also, there is inherent 'fog of war' since all you see is the backs of your opponents blocks, which are blank. The two sides, (Scots and English) are quite asymmetrical and it's driven by cards, but not a CDG. The wintering rules (in which everyone goes back home and the next turn is almost reset-ish, but not. I hate using the term "elegant", but it applies here, imo. I have most of the other games from Columbia Games from this system (Julius Caesar, Richard III, & Wizard Kings), so I'm curious to try them all out and see which I enjoy the most. Again, all of them have 8 page rulebooks. Hard to beat that, esp for a wargame. HIGHLY recommended if you have any interest at all in 2-player wargames.
Bus - More Splotter fun! I had been curious about the game, but the artwork has...well, let me put it to you this way: you either love it or hate it and I don't love it. But my buddy Chad brought it with him this weekend and we gave it a go. Simplish rules and a cool premise: Folks want to go to work then hit the pub, then go home. And it's your job to create bus lines for them and pick them up and deliver them to those various locations. But you can stop time and make folks want to stay/go to the pub, even though some are still at the pub (or home or the office). But if that happens too often, you rip the space/time continuum and the game ends. Action selection and route building and logistics. Lots to figure out, but has that 'Splotter-feel' that Amanda and I call it. We really enjoyed it and would love to play it some more. I'm sure, eventually, we'll get a copy, too.
Colonialism - I've talked about it quite a bit previously, but I wanted to add just a couple of things here:
1) My above mentioned fellow heavy gamer buddy, Chad, loves him some El Grande and after playing this for the first time said they are nothing alike. Period.
2) This game is much better as a 4-player game than with 3. It's not bad, but much more interesting with max players, but that is usually the case w/ area majority games, so yeah, same w/ El Grande, too.
Panamax - We've played it 4 times and absolutely love this game, to no ones surprise. I really don't want to rehash rules or go TOO in-depth since this is the big podcast for us and it drops Thursday. That said, in my other GCL, one of the posters wasn't a fan of it and I gave some counterpoints and thought that I'd copy that over here in case some folks might be curious to both sides of the fence on this one:
Finally, I have a lot of thoughts on Panamax so I will try to make this as succint as possible. First of all, it's better than Madeira (same designers if you're wondering about the comparison). I think there's some very interesting ideas in the game, however it ultimately felt like two games that they tried smashing together: a game consisting of pushing boats through the Panama Canal and a market game based on delivering cargo. I think both parts are really cool, but the "games" failed. The dice selection was interesting (and better than Madeira's) but like Madeira, I felt the game suffered from complexity for complexity's sake. Nothing really felt like it was smoothly integrated, but rather forced together into this three hour movement of bits without any real fun attached. I kept thinking that in the time we spent trying to figure out how things worked and the minute details of different actions/consequences, I could have spent that time playing one of the longer Winsome games which would offer the same market/stock element, planning, and strategy but in a more streamlined game.
I completely disagree with the 'two games smooshed together' notion as I feel that the stock market is not only well integrated into the flow of the game, but it's ESSENTIAL to the game. Everything in the game is built around boosting share prices and getting paid for investing in the companies. If that weren't there, there just isn't a game. The shipping of containers is the 'meat' of the game, but the purpose of doing so is to create a wealthier company, which in turn, hopefully, makes you the wealthiest CEO. Both of those come together seamlessly to create this heavy, deep, game.
I agree that the dice mechanic is cool (although I enjoyed the different dice mechanic in Madeira as well) and again, completely disagree about the lack of integration and the complexity for complexity's sake comment. Just like in Madeira, I simply don't see that as the case. If you 'streamlined' and removed Part X or Y, you don't have the game that it is. It would just be...bleh.
And this brings me to my last point about the game that I want to touch on & I have no way to not come across as a douche canoe, but I have no idea how to not be blunt:
How/Why are people having such a hard time learning the rules to this game? The rulebook is plain and simple to LEARN from. Amanda has never in her life read a rulebook and the night we sat to play this the first time, Amanda, Tony, and myself all had a copy of the rulebook and we sat and read it outloud and had zero problems. Yet, there are a plethora of questions that people are having w/ the rules and none of us understand it. Please understand that I am NOT saying that everyone is dumb and we're the smart ones (hell, I'm a Marine, after all, so we know that's NOT the case), but please help me out here...what are we getting that no one else seems to be getting? Now, with that said, for REFERENCING, if/when you do have questions, it's not laid out well. I'll wholeheartedly agree with that. But for learning the game, we found it fine. Every single question that we've had, thru 4 games, has been covered in the rules.
There has been a lot of arguing also about this game and the 'complexity for complexity's sake as well as Complex vs Heavy and I hit on that too:
Alright, here is my take on the Heavy vs Complex discussion:
To me, the things that contribute to a game being "Heavy" are its complexity (both in rules and gameplay), how much planning goes on (or another way to put it, how many decision points are in a game), how little luck/randomness there is in the game, how long it takes players to 'get it', and finally, game length. ALL of those things factor into my opinion of what makes a game heavy. So, complexity, imo, is a component of the heaviness and not its own thing.
So I've been asked why I enjoy heavier games...I play games for a few reasons, just like I'm sure y'all do. I enjoy hanging with my friends and socializing and all that goes with that. However, if you told me I had to pick the single driving reason why I play games and I would tell you that I play games as a competition of decision making. Remember, I used to play poker for living and since the US Government took that away from me, I needed something to fill that void. Obviously, playing boardgames isn't going to pay the bills like poker did, but it scratches a similar itch that I absolutely need scratched, in my life. So, I've realized that boardgames have become my replacement for the pressure-filled decision making that originally drove me to poker to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy a shorter, luck-filled game and just have fun. But for the meat of my gaming, fun for me is that competition of decision making and lighter games don't fill the void like heavier ones do.
Lastly, if anyone has questions about Panamax, feel free to fire away. Otherwise, check out the podcast later this week.
So overall, gaming-wise, it's been a fantastic couple of weeks and with everyone on the mend, hard to be too down-in-the-dumps. Both Amanda and I are getting excited for BGGCon and looking forward to meeting so many folks who I 'know' from here. Gonna be a blast!
Count me among the ranks of those playing catch-up this week.
PBEM Games - aka this is not an excuse
Apologies to Wendell and Roger, who have most patiently (not so much as a reminder email) awaited my return to the ether. Our arrival home from Canada was marred slightly by the apparent death of our PC. Then at work, my office IT guys have been scrambling to solve what appears to be some kind of mobile-stealth-gremlin problem. I just sent off two turns of 1989: I'm really sorry.
Gaming with Kids
Lots of loopy fun with Louie and my kidlets.
My BIL and I stayed up late one night last week to play one of our Guildhall marathons. I really like the way this game is always decided by a turn or perhaps two.
Which brings me to Keyflower. Maybe never since 2012's De Vulgari Eloquentia has my Gents' Club so embraced a game. We played twice last week and have sent countless emails since as a post-mortem (in the case of our second game it really was one, as I won 63-39-33-30). When a game so occupies the brains of 5 very different academics, it's got something special.
One of the best things about Keyflower is that it probably obviates future game purchases. It does so many things so well that when considering other games, I'm likely to think 'Keyflower scratches this itch' and thereby save myself money. It might even lead me to part with Reef Encounter.
edited to add: Argh! I forgot solo gaming. Chris, you will be happy to know I finally tabled Soviet Dawn. I got one turn in before my baby boy awoke, but my early mornings (SWIDT?) will be spent trying to save the Motherland from the White usurpers for the next while. Session report pendng...
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I dropped by. My computer time has been far and few between as I finished a very busy summer session and then did a little travel to the Midwest for work and pleasure. But, as I’m safe and sound in Austin now, I thought I’d give an August update. I’ll try to keep this to mostly games and just let all the good personal stuff seep out over the next couple of GCLs.
Looking over my plays it looks like I had the usual summer slump. Normally my plays go down a little over the summer and this one was no different. July managed 21 plays and August took in 24 (compared to 32 and 24 last year).
Here’s the big list:
5x Pax Pamir
3x Lost Legacy
3x Ortus Regni
3x Roads & Boats
1x Chicago Express
1x Fast Food Franchise
1x League of Six
1x Northern Pacific
A large portion of those plays occurred over the last week. I did a boatload of play testing for Pax Pamir while in Chicago. While riding the train back to the Midwest, I finally had time to give the game some thought and fix a design problem that had been bothering me for months. Basically the game’s economics were simply too generative and constructive. Though the earlier version worked fine, I resisted sending it out to playtesters until I figured out how to deal with this problem. After a few hours of scribbling I had figured out a solution and quickly rebuilt the game’s market system. It’s still a Pax game, for sure, but the game is definitely its own beast now and I think it captures the problems of the period perfectly. If I get any time this week I’ll write up a post for the BGG page about the new system of buying and selling. I’ve got a few other small changes to make but after a few more local playtests it is all set to go out to a small blind playtest and then on to Phil. (Yes!)
The main reason I managed getting a lot played over the past week or two has to do with my brother who is now living with us in Austin. He’s a sharp gamer and a great roommate and I imagine I’ll be getting more games in coming months. One of the first games we played when we both got back to Austin was Roads and Boats. And then we played it again. And then we played it again. R&B is quickly rising in my estimation. It’s such a wonderful, mean title that, if fiddly, pays dividends. Actually, I think the meaner the game is the less fiddly it feels—at least, its scrappiness makes up for all that counter fiddling. And really, compared to most logistic heavy wargames, R&Bs has a positively minimal counter density!
I also managed to get some games in earlier this month, including a play of Fast Food Franchise, which I thought was delightful. It’s a quirky product of its time (but really, what game isn't?) that I’d happily play again. There were also a couple plays of Indonesia which got a lot of love locally and I think I’ll be able to play more soon. I also got a chance to play 1846 which I thought was totally charming. The complaints of JCL and others about the games narrow engine-building “euroness” seem completely spot on, but I guess it didn’t bother me too much. The game felt like 18xx: Mariocart Edition with track buzzing about the map in short order and incomes skyrocketing. I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of buying it, but I’ll happily play it some more.
There were also some plays of old favorites like Chicago Express, Caylus, and Agricola. They were all very enjoyable and made me happy that my smaller collection is providing me more time to explore them.
So, all in all, I had a busy and productive month with an ample dose of gaming. Here’s hoping September affords even more opportunities for pushing cubes etc.