GCL Phoenix 218: Turn by Turn (8th March 2015)
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Welcome to the 218th episode of the Phoenix GCL saga. For more information on GCLs, take a look at this link.

Contributions from regulars, lurkers and newcomers are all encouraged but please leave the posting of items to Phoenix members. It's just a rule.

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This week, some thoughts on turn order.
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1. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:378]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I played a game of Bohnanza the other day which I won by a single point but not everybody got the same number of turns. At higher player counts, the first few players in a game of Bohnanza start with fewer cards than later players, presumably to balance out the advantage of going first. But this was a 5-player game where everyone starts with the same number of cards. It got me thinking about games with uneven numbers of turns across the players and whether designers should strive for fairness in this respect where possible. How much does this matter to you? Are there any games which address this issue particularly well?

As an aside, has anyone ever seen a player win having bought a third bean field?
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2. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game – Sudden Death [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Are there any games you typically house rule to ensure players have the same number of turns? Do you play for second (or third and beyond) in games with sudden death finishes?
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3. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:15]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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There are some games where seating order can have an impact on the outcome of the game. Puerto Rico is the poster child for this, particularly if you have a mix of new and experienced players in the same game. Are there any games where your group thinks player order matters enough that you mitigate it in some way, e.g. by seating players randomly or deliberately? Are there any games with a clever way of getting round the player order issue?
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4. Board Game: Greenland [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1575] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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-10- Agricola (+France deck) (x4)
|9| Boggle (x5)
-8- Battlestar Galactica (+Pegasus; Exodus; Daybreak)
-7.5- Lewis & Clark (+Cedrick promo card New!)
-7- Greenland
-7- Roll for the Galaxy (x2)
-7- Sticheln
-6- Patchwork

I've internalised enough of the rules of Greenland that I was able to teach two new players without too much referring to the rulebook. It was a fun session which told a good story and ended hilariously. Rick had hunted very successfully the whole game, driving many species into extinction in his quest for trophies. My Norse had long since converted to monotheism and I knew the only way to compete with his wall of ostentatious adornments was to spread the word of the Lord forcibly in his direction. I sent a lone emissary - all I could spare after decades of decimations - and hoped. Rick promoted most of his remaining hunters into elders to try and banish my preacher. 9 dice were rolled, needing a single 1. The pressure was on... he failed all nine rolls. My representative remained in place. Now he had to hope I couldn't roll a 1 with my 3 dice. My last roll succeeded and the good word was spread! Nailbiting stuff made all the more tense by Rick's longstanding reputation of good luck with dice. It was the need to roll 1s that flummoxed him - he's used to rolling high. With his trophies made worthless, I scraped a win via my shiny piles of iron and ivory. Even so, it was still close as he had a very large tribe.

We played the Search for Home scenario in Battlestar, where the humans have to reach 10 distance to find Earth. This sounded hard enough without two early revealed Cylons sat next to each other. Mike's first action of the game was to execute John's character (Cally's once-per-game ability), clearly signalling his loyalties. He got his comeuppance at the end of his turn when the Crisis card allowed the other humans to execute him. A brutal start to the game. John's replacement character drew the other You Are a Cylon card and between the two of them they overran us with raiders. I find there are rather too many optional rules spread across all the BSG expansions now; it makes it harder to play as an occasional game because we tend to forget how some of the interactions work.

It had been a while since we last played Lewis & Clark and we were a bit rusty. Another tense finish with Jake managing to cross the line on the same turn I could get there. We played for second, since it was clear that I was so close behind.
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5. Board Game: Struggle of Empires [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:348]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Struggle of Empires x 1

We unveiled Struggle of Empires at game night this past Wednesday; 2 of us had played before (a 2-player game) and the other 5 were new. It went over pretty well. We had the expected rules questions, strategic blunders, and so on. One player had trouble sailing (even after buying the navigation tile) and I rolled a lot of 7's (or so it seemed to me). I tend to be opportunistic, attacking weak/defenseless areas with small forces; I'd win, but lose a unit. Playing as France, I finished 5th out of 7 players. We had to end it after 2 wars (of 3). We may get a full play in.

First Train to Nuremberg x 1

I recently reacquired this title. The price was right (traded GoSu, and the trade partner was in-state so the shipping was cheap).

We played this morning for the first time in a few years, so it was a "shaking off the cobwebs" play. The rulebook is a bit messy, and I know we got at least one thing wrong (red/green stations also count as town, which can be built from; the rulebook uses "stations" and "towns" interchangeably at times).

I (uncharacteristically, if memory serves) stayed in the positive on the P&L track the entire way and won by ~25, despite my wife claiming the entire Nuremberg-Fursh connection bonus on her own. It was nice to play it again. I've never played as anything other than a 2-player game. I'd like to change that one of these days.

Dead of Winter x 2

My wife and I learned this today, using the 2-player variant. This makes it a pure cooperative game (no hidden goals) but the rest of the gameplay is unchanged. It's pretty tough. I can see it being the rare game where I embrace the theme though. We came really close to winning the first play. We had the win condition locked up, but my wife killed a zombie and rolled the "bite" result on the exposure die (instant death). In her defense, we hadn't seen that roll come up yet, so she probably wouldn't have risked it otherwise. It's a 1/12 chance.

Game 2 was less close. We had lousy die rolls (we had 4 survivors bitten). There's a mechanism where, when a survivor is bitten, the disease spreads to the least influential survivor at the victim's location - the player who control the character to whom the disease has spread chooses to either:

A) Let the character die.
B) Roll the exposure die; on a blank result (odds...50%?) everyone is fine. On any other result, the character dies and the disease spreads. Repeat this process with the next least influential survivor at the location.

Good first impression. Hoping to experience the "full" game soon.



We'll be having a game night here next weekend. Depending on headcount we'll probably be doing Dead of Winter, Shadow Hunters or The Resistance. Any of which is fine by me.
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6. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:400]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_8_ ZhanGuo x2
_7_ Ancient Terrible Things x1
_7_ Tokaido x1


The Week in Review

S and I started the week with a couple plays of ZhanGuo. I'd really like to see this one hit the table with at least one more player just to add a bit more interest to the area control, the wall building, and end of turn bonuses. Frankly, I don't see this game getting a lot more plays as just a two-player as it's just a bit too open in these areas.


Ancient Terrible Things (aka "Cthulhu Yahtzee") was a lot more entertaining than I anticipated. As it had been some time since we last played, S and I were probably more helpful to each other than usual. At one point, the game seemed almost cooperative and when S pulled off her final five die run (2 through 6), I was half cheering her on.


With three, Tokaido was cute, but with just enough edge to give some tension. There was some screwage as S and I visited the onsen (hotsprings) because we knew P's character benefited the most from them, and P and I stopped at the shops knowing S's character got bonuses there (but neither of them did much at the temple where I benefited). In the end, S won on the strength of her omiyage (souvenirs) shopping. Although I did well at the temple, P managed to come second with all his bathing with the monkeys....

I other news, I ordered Eldritch Horror and Doomtown: Reloaded.


The Week Ahead

Nothing planned this week. My next play of something 18xx isn't until the 21st.

Unplayed games of note still in shrink: Yunnan, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. Also two saga expansions for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: The Road Darkens and Over Hill and Under Hill.
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7. Board Game: Valley of the Kings [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:647] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

_8_ Alchemists 1
_7_ Valley of the Kings 1 New!

Week in Review

I got a chance to try Alchemists with 4 players and it definitely made the game more interesting. Even with the diminished number of workers per player, the board gets substantially more filled than with two players. Also a much higher percentage of information is coming into the game through other players, which makes the puzzling more interesting. We did have one nasty bought of AP, in the fifth turn, when a single player bogged down to 20 minutes for working out how to take two consecutive moves (no other players had intervening actions). This was torture, but thankfully did not occur again in the game. I like it overall and it's very interesting to take a game with a major deduction component and force the players to commit to choices before they've reached perfect information. Lots of good ideas here.

I heard good things about AEG's Valley of the Kings when it came out and I've thought to check it out a couple of times, but it seems to have been underprinted compared to some other similar games of theirs (cf. Sail to India). Out for a walk on Saturday, I happened into a Barnes and Noble and saw a copy nestled between two boxes of Love Letter. I took a chance on it and played it later that day. It was pretty neat and it's actually quite aggressive as a 2P game. Meg was less impressed, summing it up with, "I'd rather play Dominion." Still, glad to have it for now and it would be a nice travel game as it's such a small box and a relatively small in-play footprint.
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8. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:504]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 7Mar2015:

16/16/186 plays of 9/9/75 total games, with 1/1/12 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/8/67 distinct opponents.

2/2/13 games acquired (plus 0/0/4 expansions.) - 三千世界の鴉 (Sanzensekai no karasu 'Ravens of Thri Sahashri') and Birth.
0/0/3 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/0/5 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 3 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With son #2:
7x _7.3_ Yavalath - These are all on the Android (no-AI) two-player app. (And increasingly make me look forward to the Real Copy on order.) We split this set four to three; and each instance was intriguing, fast, and decisive. I find the game quite compelling.
2x _8_ Bohnanza - A couple Bean Duels (though in this format, we've got a pretty strong correlation between buying a 3rd field and losing. The 3rd beanfield comes into its own with more players!) Uncharacteristically (because the youngster has been thumping me at this recently) we split the games.
1x _6.3_ Birth New! - It's not really my thing, but it's also more appealing than expected. Possibly by a significant margin. This is very pretty (in a rather austere way) but appeared dry and uncompelling in a rules read. It is dry; but it doesn't last long enough to become uncompelling. The decisions all seem sufficiently interesting for something that is as serious as this appears.
1x _7.3_ 三千世界の鴉 (Sanzensekai no karasu 'Ravens of Thri Sahashri') New! - Weird; cool; perplexing; and not at all son #2's thing. I think his lovely sister might enjoy it. For my part, I'm very impressed with the design.
1x _7_ Machi Koro (with Harbor Expansion) - (adding daughter #1) Son #2's request. This was a bit embarrassing: all the rolls went my way. Daughter #1 liked the game (in principle, at least; she was doing her best to be philosophical about it) but hoped that she might occasionally roll the buildings she owned in a follow-up game. (She was successful in that regard: today's instance - reported in Next Week's Phoenix installment - went dramatically in her favour.)

With the Wednesday Night guys:
1x _9_ 1846: The Race for the Midwest - Quite lovely, if also played in a leisurely manner (I think it was 4.5 hours including explanation and dinner.) I blundered in a variety of new ways this time out (most notably buying in the Big5, making me train tight when I really wanted to push the train rush along.) Paul played really well - so I likely wouldn't have won even if I'd not blundered, so no complaints.

With the Monday Lunch gang:
1x _7.3_ ロストレガシー (Rosutoregashī 'Lost Legacy') - A bit of (enjoyable) fluff while the gang assembles. We quickly reach our quorum of five, and dig into the offerings to discover...
1x _7.7_ Too Many Cooks - A classic Knizia climbing game. It's very cute: a game is composed of five hands - and on each hand, you're aiming for something slightly different. To add to the havoc, the players blind bid (from a set of five goal cards) their plan for each round prior to beginning play - but since each goal must be attempted exactly once, the final bid is a bit of a done deal. In this one, I rushed out to an early lead - only to have Richard come back strongly in the latter three hands. And Brian (who normally does very well) managed to finish with an impressively vacant zero.
1x _8.5_ Die Dolmengötter - Then Jeff left, so we had exactly four: the right number for this one. It's lovely, if also quite odd: it plays quickly and sensibly (so that I've had success inflicting it on relative non-gamers) but requires some subtle decisions. Play that's too heavily concentrated in one area dilutes your score; and collaboration with your opponents is vital to success. I spent too much attention on one ring...

Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+2/-2) - 三千世界の鴉 (Sanzensekai no karasu 'Ravens of Thri Sahashri') and Birth arrived, and both were promptly played.

Outlook for the week: Likely Wednesday at Paul's this week; something tomorrow for lunch; some gaming with my kids; and the possibility of something cool on Thursday. Feeling quite fortunate about game opportunities.
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9. Board Game: Parade [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:705]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_7_ Parade x3 New!
Two plays in the same afternoon. For the first play, my daughter joined me to learn the game. She got a handle of the rules pretty quickly but I could tell she was missing opportunities to mess me up. In the end I ended up winning 21 to her 28. When my oldest son came home, the three of us played, and this time she did a little bettr but ended up last at 39, while her bother had 35 and i won again with 32.

Third game was later that night with my wife joining my daughter and I. She managed to win with an impressivly low score of 9, while I had 28 and my daughter 31. This seems to have gone over pretty well with the family so far.

The Z-Man purple box edition I received is kind of weird as the cards take up only half the box, so I ended up putting No Thanks on the other side of the box, with the idea that Parade will be the "don't get points" game for two or three players, and No Thanks will cover the four or five player counts.

_7_ Uruk II: Die Entwicklung geht weiter x1 New!
When Uruk II got announced sometime last year it caught my interest. I had looked at the original game, and I think at one point Indigo had that (?), but it never percolated up enough for me to try.

My boys joined me for a first game of this. We all handled the various disasters the game threw at us, although in one case I just barely did so thanks to the help of a god who showed up. In the end I managed to optimize the final round to win with 26, while youngest son had 22, and oldest son 18.

Thematically, it's a little like Innovation and there's some similarites about getting a number of actions a turn, but this is more "get resources and convert". Some small similarities with Xanadu as well in that you use cards either to build them or as a resource to build other cards. It's decent and I like it but also think this probably wasn't necessary; I struggle to see what this brings to my collection that I can't get with other games. I want to play it more to see if it there's something I'm missing, but if I had to guess, I think after a few more plays I'm likely to trade it, although perhaps my family will attach to it.

_7_ Acquire x1
The whole family played this and it was my wife's first time. She liked the game. I helped my daughter with strategy probably too much! She won with 43100. Second was oldest son at 33000 while my wife had 31100, I had 27,600 and youngest son 21,700.

_7_ Machi Koro x1
Three players with my wife and daughter now using the English harbor cards in place of the older Japanese plus cards. Makes a big difference for my family not to look up things! In this game I ended up winning with my wife one card left to build and my daughter two left.

_6_ Fjords x1
I had local friends Mindy and Will over for gaming. Will showed up first and we played a quick game of this so he could learn it; he won 17 to 11.

_8_ The Castles of Burgundy x1
Will had played once before while Mindy owned this but had not played yet. As this is a favorite of my wife's she joined us so we could have a full four players. Will led through most of it until I completed a ring of knowledge tiles to take the lead and ended up getting 234. My wife also caught up and had 207 (while my youngest son stepping in for her for a bit while she ran an errand). Will had a respectale 187 and Mindy 165 which seemed fine for me for a first game.

_8_ Concordia x1
New to both Mindy and Will, we played the Imperium side and after the game, I realized I've been doing something wrong in the previous plays. You're not supposed to use the entire deck unless playing with five players. Instead, you use just the era cards equal to number of players. So my two player game with my wife from a week or so ago was highly over-scored as we used way too many cards. This game just had a few extra cards.

It's not a bad variant to use all the cards I suppose but makes for longer games. I'm curious now to play two players the right way and hope it makes for a short, snappy game. Anyway, on this one I snuck out a win with 112 to WIll's 108, my wife 90 and Mindy 85.
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10. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
SJ S
United States
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only one game this week, but it was so so so juicy!!

i wanted to do a detailed write up of the drama -- so detailed that it could be used as a screenplay for a tense blockerbuster -- but when i have sat down to write it up, i've been interrupted so i present to you the condensed version!!

4 player game. i'm the lion as always RAWR! we had many early monuments, with me building a red/green monument to my benefit right away. of course others wanted in on this goodness, so they challenged me to battle. luckily i consistently survived the attacks AND gained territory with supporters in red/green/black in the battles. subsequent attacks were therefore less and less likely to be successful.

by mid-game, there were 4 monuments all clustered in the middle-ish of the board, each only separated by one tile-width! those monuments were separated and re-connected so many times during the game i lost count. for example, someone would connect two of the monuments with a tile, then a few plays later a conflict would remove the connection.

i was running all over everybody with my gigantic red-fortified civilization, picking fights with all the other red leaders just because it was so easy to beat them. but i could not score any blue points to save my life. i was loudly and repeatedly complaining that i only had 3 blue points, and that seemed to relax the other players and remove focus from me, as their scores were more balanced.

my score was 27-17-16-3 and i knew the tile bag would only support one last turn for me. at this point all 4 central monuments were connected, producing a huge payday for those leaders. i attacked S's (potter) blue leader from the NorthEast and won 4 blue points in the victory and 2 blue points from monument income bringing my blue from 3 to 9 (overall 30-19-17-9) on the game's final turn eeking out a win over M's (archer) 14-13-11-8.



IN OTHER EXCITING NEWS - The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will no longer be using elephants in their performances.
they will be phasing them out through 2018 (i wish they would just stop now, but i'm still happy). YAYAYAYAY ELEPHANTS!!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/us/ringling-brothers-circu...
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11. Board Game: Chromino [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:11436]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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It's Saturday and I haven't added an item yet. I kept meaning to, but this week flew by.

Sunday March 1st
Machi Koro with Harbor (first time with Harbor)

Tuesday March 3rd
Machi Koro with Harbor

Thursday March 5th
Machi Koro with Harbor

Sunday March 8th
Chromino - We tried to interest my dad, but at least he watched a bit to see how it was played.

No gaming since then, but I did all sorts of other things, like put in a faucet, including new chrome quarter-turn shutoffs and a drain, and help to expand Sam's closet (we didn't need a tub/shower combo, a tub, and a shower, so we took out the shower and connected Sam's closet to the shower stall to build a wing onto his closet). Painting almost done. Bringing more things over, including some game shelves and games, so it is looking more and more like home. My 5 lb. weight loss has become 10, from all of the activity.

We've had some warm days and our snow is melting. There are ever-increasing patches of grass visible.
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