The Star Wars franchise (love it or hate it) is a cultural phenomena. Adjusted for inflation, four of the top ten grossing movies of all time are part of the series.
Do a quick search on our own BGG and you'll find hundreds of games celebrating the movies. The X-Wing Miniatures game is ranked #22 out of all the games on the site.
I am not a "super fan" of the movies, but I do enjoy them very much, and one of my fondest memories is going to see Star Wars with my Dad as a child. It was one of the first times I had ever even been to a movie theatre!!
So let's talk about it!
As usual, Phoenix members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars.) "These are not the Phoenixes you are looking for": archivists darker Dormammu indigopotter Lowengrin Morganza Mr_Nuts ravenskana rynelf Smintie Taibi next Jedi master tjshields woodnoggin
In Star Wars, Han Solo and Greedo both work for Jabba the Hut. Jabba puts out a bounty on Han due to missing funds, presumably to be carried out by Greedo. Greedo finds Han and demands the money. When Han says he doesn't have it, Greedo responds that he has been waiting a long time to take Han out. Then there is a cloud of smoke, and Greedo slumps over dead.
It appears that Han shot first, make him kind of an anti-hero who turns into a hero later. In the re-release, Greedo is depicted firing first, therefore Han was simply defending himself and is less of a bad-boy.
Movie question: Who shot first? Does it matter? Did the change in the re-release mean anything to you when it happened? Now? Do you like the idea of Han being a bit of a rebel?
Board Game question: In a game with conflict, do you "shoot" first? Or do you work towards the victory condition until an opponent messes with you, and then you fire back?
What is an example of a game where it pays to strike first? When is it better to lay in wait?
EPISODE V: "I don't believe it." "This is why you fail."
Yoda was my favorite character from the movies. He had it all: a funny way of speaking, command of "The Force", wisdom, he can make things float, goodness, toughness in small package, he was old and spry, the works.
Movie question: who was your favorite character from the movies?
Board Game question: is there a game you never thought you could master but then did? What changed your belief that you could master the game? Have you ever given up and walked away (like Luke did) on mastering a game (maybe it just didn't seem worth it? maybe you don't have the right group to develop mastery?)
Movie question: at the end of the original trilogy, were you left wanting more, or did it come to a satisfactory conclusion? (do not factor in any change in your view after seeing the prequel trilogy.)
Board Game question: describe a time in a recent game when you realized you had fallen into a trap your opponent had slyly laid? what was your reaction? Panic? Admiration? Sheepish?
For many fans, the excitement of the return of the Star Wars movies was coupled with disappointment. And some placed the blame squarely on Jar Jar. He was widely ridiculed by critics and fans alike.
Movie question: The movie was the second highest grossing film of all time at it's release. Were you one of the fans who watched it at its release? Have you watched it at all?
Board Game question: is there a game mechanic, theme, component, or rule to a game that is SOOOO DISTRACTING that you can't even properly assess if the rest of the game has merit? What is your personal gaming Jar Jar?
Movie question: OK I didn't see this episode, so instead I'll ask this: if cloning were perfected and reliable, would you want a clone of yourself? you could play boardgames against yourself and always pick the game! your clone could go to work, and you could game!
Board Game question: Is there a game that you love even though it is a clear rip off of another game? is there a game you hate because it is a rip off, even if it might be a decent game? (for purposes of this question, it's not considered a rip off if an idea is re-done by the same designer)
EPISODE III: It is only natural. He cut off your arm, and you wanted revenge.
Movie question: Do they really expect us to believe that Hayden Christianson aged into Sebastian Shaw/James Earl Jones?
Board game question: have you ever done something in a game to spite another player even if it wasn't the best move for you? when you are beaten in a game you care about, have you ever wanted to extract "revenge" by staging a rematch (even in a good-natured, playful way)?
EPISODE VII: The Force Awakens This is a fan video of the recently released trailer. The official trailer was viewed over 24 Million times within 24 hours after being published on YouTube.
Movie Question: Are you excited for the new movie? What do you think JJ Abrams will bring to the series?
Board Game question: what is the most hotly anticipated board game release that you can recall (independent of whether you yourself were interested in it)? What is the game release you remember anticipating the most?
A game-free week until today; Kat and I sat down to a couple of plays of Troyes, playing with the Ladies of Troyes expansion for the first time. What's that you say? Where did I manage to get a copy? Why, from our very own SJ of course! She generously offered me her in-shrink copy for future considerations.
Of course, I had to do MY part and get it played. I'm very glad I did. It's a modular expansion, and it says it has 5 modules but there are really only 2; the first 3 "modules" are more characters, more events and more activity cards, and I can't imagine not mixing them in and dealing them at random every time from now on. The last 2 modules are the purple die (a "wild" die that cannot be purchased) and the outdoor activities. I know a lot of people dislike the purple die, but we were okay with it (mainly because we also used the outdoor activities module, and so had more things to spend dice on). I wouldn't use it without the extra actions.
And the extra actions are pretty neat. They're little modular boards that line up, one on each edge, on the board. Each player gets a little guard meeple (he has a helmet that looks like a penis) and dice can be spent to move them around the perimeter and place cubes on the activities they've passed. There's good variety here, as each activity has a pair of double-sided tiles to choose from in each game.
The new stuff all fits in pretty seamlessly. The characters are a welcome addition, the new activities we used felt like they belonged, and we had a nasty new event come up in both games: a 7-influence bastard that has the players add a grey meeple to a randomly-chosen building, then scoop up all its meeples and randomly redistribute them. My hopes were high and they were met. Thanks so very much, SJ! I received unsolicited games from Phoenixes in back-to back weeks, I think that's some kind of record!
You guys are great!
The semester is winding down and so am I. I'm dragging myself across the finish line this time around. Straight A's so far, hopefully I can finish that way.
Awesome games day. 5 different games (including 3 new games and 2 much-enjoyed classics), and made the acquaintance of a teen who's really into games, in a way that kinda reminds me of me at that age. :-)
Five Tribes: Interactive 2D Mancala is kind of cool, though I see why people complain about the AP. (I was fortunate; our table wasn't hit hard by it.) On just the mechanics, I'd probably rate the game a _6_, but I found the slaves + the rules surrounding them distasteful - I'll see if I can elaborate why in a comment. As a result, instead of being slightly intrigued and happy to play again, I'm slightly put off / disinclined to do so.
Pairs: Push-your-luck with "luck" way more relevant than "push", even for its genre. Felt really close to a game both pleasantly subtle *and* great pub fodder, in the same way that the bottom of a cliff is really close (horizontally) to the top. My low rating is for as-played; as a game to tinker with I think I'd rate it a 7-8.
Tiny Epic Kingdoms: I'm on the fence about this one. On the one hand, it was really neat, and I found it interesting + engaging. On the other hand, there are some areas of the game (conflict, trade) which... er. Also, the resources you get when you choose not to follow an action seemed awfully good - I didn't feel happy or clever when I chose an action that my opponents couldn't follow, I felt like they'd gained a different but roughly equivalent advantage, which scales back the stakes of one of the game's three core points of interactivity. (Combat, meeple positioning, action selection.)
 = I'm looking for a verb which summarizes "make me feel like the dynamics around them aren't good, but I couldn't say so for certain, maybe they're fine, I just have this general sense...". If it were code, I'd talk about "smells". Maybe "throw yellow flags"?
Ca$h n' Gun$ was an awesome 6-player 15-minute romp; a great end to the afternoon.
~ ~ ~
Outside of gaming: My wife and I went to a birthing class today as a refresher. We were the only not-first-timers there, and the midwife teaching it had been there when our son was born; we felt like old-timers, despite having only done this once before. :-) We didn't learn much new, but it started getting us back in the mindset.
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 6Dec2014:
8/7/534 plays of 7/7/211 total games, with 4/4/31 expansions employed. Plays with 16/16/84 distinct opponents.
0/0/51 games acquired (plus 1/1/18 expansions.) - 開拓王 - もっと建物を！ belatedly recognized after being added to the DB. 0/0/15 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/6 expansions.) 0/0/22 games ordered (plus 0/0/11 expansions.) Orders for 6 games and 3 expansions still outstanding.
With my youngsters: 2x _7.3_開拓王New! - This one is charming: it's a remix/mashup of Carcassonne and Puerto Rico that plays happily in 30 minutes. (I also spent way too much time this week entering the expansion in the DB, translating (laboriously, with the help of Google Translate) the rules for the expansion tiles, and exchanging e-mail with the designer trying to make sure the latter was correct enough to upload. I think we're only a day or two from having everything nailed down!) 1x _5.5_モテねば。New! - This is a game about becoming popular with the Cool Girls over three years of High School. (Something that, for the record, did not remotely resonate with me. It did make daughter #1 laugh. Ironically, I think.) We went with the "Translator's Suggestions" in the English ruleset, which was probably a mistake. In retrospect, the insistence (in the original rules) that only one of the five Important Qualities may be used to influence any one girl might be not particularly thematic, but it does mean that calculating the various players' influence on the possible targets is a lot more tractable. Daughter #1 summed up: "This would work fine as an app, where the constant arithmetic is done for you" - but it's not very interesting against the backdrop of adding up mutating sums of small influence markers. It probably deserves one more try (and I may try to track influence sums with poker chips to speed up decision-making if we do.) 1x _6_7 Wonders (with Cities, Leaders (including Stevie) and Mannekin Pis) - Son #2 played a good game here. (It's been fun: he tends to extremal strategies that have often historically been a-priori implausible. In this game - following the pattern of recent plays of Concordia, Russian Railroads, and Outpost - he's aimed for something extremal and plausible.)
With the Wednesday Night guys: 1x _8_Outpost - Gloriously insane with six folk I enjoy. We chatted; we complained about our terrible draws; we overbid healthily on the Microbiotics and Ecoplants (or, well, my colleagues did. I won none of them, despite bidding furiously!) It seemed to go well. It was a delightfully unlikely night, though: normally I think I'm fortunate when three show up on a Wednesday - to get all six of the possible guys at once has never happened before!
With the Friday lunch gang: 1x _7.3_Clubs - This is firmly in my comfort-game zone. Easy to explain; opportunity for cleverness, but enough randomness that when things go dreadfully awry the cards may be blamed. It's quite cute. 1x _7_ひつじとどろぼう - Sadly for me, I got the rules wrong. In two places. Both of which make the game weaker than it is. So I've revised my rating up a bit to try to compensate. We'll see if this is right, or whether I stabilize somewhere else. But, hopefully, we'll play it correctly next time.
And finally finishing a game on orderofthehammer.com: 1x _8.5_Brass: Lancashire - Many thanks for rescuing us, Aliza; I'd thought for a while that the game would suffer the death of a thousand cuts, as moves were being made ~weekly. It was too slow for me: I need the game to go faster for me to engage & care.
Owned-and-unplayed: 3 (+0/-2) - モテねば。 and 開拓王 were played.
Outlook for the week: A bit of work translating the rules to the two remaining Japanese Hipster games that aren't yet in the BGG database. Hopefully a game (but with how many? I know John is out) with the Wednesday Night gang; likely a game with the Lunch bunch; hopefully more play with my youngsters (though daughter #1 is liable to be unavailable as concerts and the Exam Crunch occupy much of her time.)
Another singleton week. S's is caught up in Christmas crafting and baking. So when I'm not helping out, I've been playing on the iPad. I found a game very reminiscent of Sid Meier's Railroads! last weekend (or maybe the weekend before?) called DeckEleven's Railroads. It's a bit buggy - coming back to a game may result in some traffic lights malfunctioning and trains crashing - but on the whole, I found it very enjoyable for it's price (free).
Kanban: Driver's Edition arrived this week. I'm looking forward to playing it although it may be awhile before we find the time.
The Week Ahead
I'm fairly sure this week will not see a lot of gaming.
_6_ Takenoko x1 Daughter requested this and we played with my wife and oldest son. As usual, scores were close, with daughter winning with 38, a few points back was my son at 34 and myself at 32 and my wife at 28.
_7_ King of Frontier x1 New! Learned this with youngest son and I comboed some crazy building tiles to win. I suspect this will be closer in the future as this game we were learning what everything did. I'd kind of describe this as XKCD: Carcassonne Puerto Rico.
I didn't know what to do with my UberBadge, so I left it as a GeekBadge.
Still travelling. Little gaming, lots of sightseeing. A trip to the impressive ruins of Carthage put me in the mind of trying some ancient Roman games. We wandered into the location of the Punic port just as the place was closing and were given a free guided tour by the curator. It's the sort of ruin you have to use your imagination to recreate it in its original form but there were models to show you how it would have looked too. Really interesting. The baths are more intact and are colossal but the port grabbed me more. I have a copy of Porto Carthago which I've never tried but was the closest game thematically to what we saw. I downloaded the rules to read on the next flight.
Mauritania is mostly desert so we took a trip out towards the Sahara to see it up close. We walked through oases and over dunes, slept under the stars and got covered in sand. There was a bit of dining in the nomad style (without cutlery and from a communal dish) and we learned how best to wear a shesh, a headscarf against the sun and sand. I must admit it was a little more basic than I prefer - I like my creature comforts - but it was certainly a unique experience and Kate loved it. One oasis we stopped at had a tiny makeshift market selling trinkets and jewellery. In it we found a bundle of carved wooden sticks which turned out to belong to a local game so we bought them and were taught the rules. The eight sticks have a light and dark side and are thrown onto the ground as a randomiser: count the number of sticks landing light-side up as your total. The game board is drawn in the sand and players use twigs and pebbles as playing pieces. The board play is similar to Backgammon but using the sticks instead of dice. We were told it was called Siq, but the only reference I've found online calls it Seig. Anyone heard of this?
In Senegal, we came across another new game being played by boys in the street. They had drawn a 5x5 grid on the pavement with the central square crossed out and pieces were moving around it. These kids were too young to speak enough French to explain the rules so I've no idea how it plays.
There are plenty of roaming street vendors in Senegal. They usually sell phone cards, sunglasses, watches or water but one time in Dakar we were offered Scrabble or Monopoly! The guy was walking round with boardgames and toys strapped to him. I started thinking of better, more compact games he could have picked instead...
We managed to find time for a couple of games of Innovation and one of Scrabble plus lots of Kingdom Builder on the App. So much in fact that I'm wishing the expansions were on there too.
This week my internet began to slow down and Comcast tech support demanded I replace my leased modem as the model I was using was very old. I drove across town, back home, plugged in the new modem and it didn't work at all! They then put me on a two day wait for a technician to fix it. Eventually, I worked out a fix on my own because To Hell With Comcast! I have internet back and here's what happened last week:
The second play of Shadows of Brimstone with my "group B," as I now have two separate groups of friends enjoying the game. This was my first play of any alternate scenario, thus far having played the basic one that is vanilla "wander the mine until you find the objective room." It's nice to have seen all the different characters now and I'm enjoying the early process of seeing characters become customized with some new abilities and items. I am curious how the balancing act will play out when the characters have reached the level at which the enemies start becoming more deadly.
My second play of Lagoon, a 3P game after learning it the first time with 2P. I enjoy the 3P dynamic more and in fact I enjoyed this play quite a bit more than my first. I think the game improves a lot by having an idea how it plays and I won the game fairly convincingly. I wasn't sold on it after the first play, but now I'd like to play it some more soon.
Zombie 15' is quite fun but is a little too easy. I am anxious to progress down the scenario list to see what else gets added because I need a few more decisions to ratchet up the difficulty. Six plays in, I have won every play in about 11-12 minutes (ie, not down to the wire).