GCL Mafia 215: Box Office
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the GCL wiki and/or the Mafia wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

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

charlest
Thesp
Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
Beloch
Happymrdave
captainraffi
fdubois
touchstonethefool
bobcatpoet

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of March 2-8, 2015. List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions. Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

Rules for the list are:
1) A weekly game is spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.

2) Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.

3) A top five question is posed by the previous poster and answered by the current poster. These top fives are usually game-related, but can include other topics as well.
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1. Board Game: El Grande Big Box [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Just in time for me to have just spent a lot of money on the Decennial Edition, El Grande finally gets a reprint. El Grande gets a lot of love as "classic" Euro, but it's been out of print for some time and many newer players have gotten to play it.

Some questions come to mind:
1. Will El Grande show its age, or could it experience a surge in popularity as a new crop of players get to try it?

2. Has the day or area control passed? It seems social deduction and microgames are the kings of the day, surpassing worker placement and action selection. Do these things run in cycles, or are we just looking for the newest thing?

3. Unlike other mechanics, El Grande is more or less the undisputed champion of area control. Why? What makes it so much better, or why has no other game been able to kick it off the mountain?

4. Do these "big box" reprints get new people to buy the game, or just people who are already fans?
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2. Board Game: Shut the Box [Average Rating:5.00 Overall Rank:15368]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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I use the Ikea Kallax both for books and games and they work great. But...

Have you ever noticed how many different sizes and shapes boxes come in? It can make storage a real problem. Boxes that are nearly perfect cubes. Boxes that are long rectangles. Boxes that are five times the size it needs to be (I'm looking at you, Queen). Boxes that don't seem to fit the components and you're not sure how. Boxes that look like they should be holding a poster instead of a game. I can't be the only one who finds this troublesome.

So, some questions:

1. Are the "big box" games really necessary, or are they taking up too much room?

2. Do your boxes inform your storage choices, or do your storage choices inform what boxes you keep?

3. Do you draw a line when it comes to storing games? For example, right now, I'm at a point where I don't want to store any more games, so if I get a new one, it has to take the place of something else. Or do you just cram it there somewhere?

4. Would it do good for the industry to develop some more standard box sizes? Obviously, different games require different boxes, but it strikes me as reasonable they could get closer to common dimensions.

5. Do you consolidate? I put expansions into original boxes to save space.

6. Vertical or horizontal?
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3. RPG Item: Fiasco [Average Rating:8.33 Overall Rank:6]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Liar's Dice: This game is stupid and pointless and I never win because it's stupid and pointless. Stupid, pointless game.

Hanabi: Hanabi deluxe again! It was a five-person game, three of which were new. It went pretty well for such new players, but the fives got packed between two of us. We ended up with 20 points. I'll take that.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Always fun, especially at a party where the only other option is karaoke. I somehow drew the robber three straight times. Out of... six games? I was on the winning team all but once. Pretty happy with it.

Sheriff of Nottingham: I did terribly when I was Sheriff, making about 75% wrong decisions and never really got any contraband past inspection. Just not a good sessions for me.

Fiasco: GCL RPG! It was a lot of fun, especially the part where my wife accidentally embarrassed herself in front of everyone. I think someone is writing a session report about it.
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4. Board Game: Homeland: The Game [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2074]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Catan
Machi Koro: Harbor New!
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham New!
Hey, That's My Fish! New!
Homeland: The Game New!
Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)
Fiasco

Lot's of games this week. I got to play a game with Katie, and with three different groups (including Katie joining for a game!) so it was a banner week.

Catan
It's time for a #truthbomb but this was only my second time playing. The first time kinda sucked because it went long, there was no trading, and was kinda bland. This time I played with a group at work who gets together for lunch "team building" and it was about 45 minutes long with lots of trading. I had no idea what I was doing, but ended up winning with largest army, longest road, and 3 Cities.

Machi Koro: Harbor
First time playing with the expansion, and it makes a huge difference. First game was a little lopsided while we tried to figure out how valuable some of the new cards are, but the 2nd one ended with me winning by one. Katie went all in on a certain strategy, and I went all in on some cards that piggy backed off of her. devil It was nice playing with her.

Dead of Winter
This was the second time time I played with a few guys I met through Netrunner. Really fun group, lots of shit talking; feels like playing with my college buddies. This was the most ridiculous game of DoW as the accusations began IMMEDIATELY and everyone made stories and narratives to go with their people. We properly exiled the right person and then promptly all lost to a low morale but it was tons of fun.

Homeland
I'm really glad you put this on my radar Charlie, as I thought it was great. Everyone liked it, though the terrorist (me) won on terrorist victory. We were playing at the game store and our room was full with two games going at once so people weren't fully locked in and it meant people weren't paying as much attention as I think you need to. It didn't help that the first 5 threats came out on the same severity level so they all resolved at once. Everyone liked it though, and I think people want to play again. I sure as hell do.

DnD
PbF continues, and the first chapter of the starter box is behind us. I'm having fun with it, and since I had some free time this weekend I sat down with the core set books for some campaign work. I've been curious about the pacing for a campaign so I decided I'd reverse engineer the starter box adventures using the maths and tables in the Dungeon Master's Guide to see how they do it and discovered that as written...it's really fucking hard. It basically blows the the DMG suggested difficulties and pacing out of the water, but what was really valuable as a DM was to realize how many non-combat "outs" or ways to stack the deck they include in the writeups to balance it. I would have never scratch built stuff that way, and probably would have made things too easy. Also seeing the various difficulties of the "main bad guys" gives me a lot of ideas. So...what I'm saying is that hopefully the campaign continues for a while

Fiasco
Lots of fun again. Paul made an awesome write up so I'll wait to comment on that!



On my Mind
Playing with so many different groups this week got me thinking about the differences between gaming groups. I don't necessarily play with every group every week (or even month) but there are now 4 distinct groups that I've played with in the area and they're all definitely different. 5 if you count the Cult of Netrunner.

Random side note: they finally put the leaderboards up for Star Realms. My group still plays this almost constantly, and one of them is #59 all time. My old Netrunner buddy, despite not having played in months is still #6 all time. Crazy.
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5. Board Game: The Great Dalmuti [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1157]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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A bit of gaming with co-workers while I was out at a conference and then a bit when I got back from said conference. Plus a new 2-player title with my wife. Overall a slightly light but still good week of gaming.

New to me:

Kobayakawa

Repeat:

The Great Dalmuti x a lot
Alchemists
Space Alert: The New Frontier (w/expansion)
Summoner Wars: Master Set


The Great Dalmuti is a long-time favorite of mine. It plays 4-6 wonderfully and is a great filler for gamers and extremely easy to introduce to non-gamers. Probably my favorite ladder-climbing game still (even over Tichu). It went over extremely well with my co-workers and we likely played more than a half-dozen rounds before people had to call it a night.

Fun trivia: the game is based on a game called "Daihinmin" ("great pauper") that uses essentially the same rules but a plain deck of cards (so there are the same number of all cards). The different counts of each value makes The Great Dalmuti superior but it's interesting to me that this was based on a Japanese game still.

Kobayakawa was fun but fluff. One of the six people we had immensely disliked it for some reason but the rest of us had a reasonably good time. It's a light game and there's a point at which you simply won't know if what you're doing will let you win or not, but it really did only take 20 minutes so... Good but I don't think it'll blow anyone away. Probably only consider if you need really quick filler.

Alchemists was good and I'm waffling on if I want to raise my score from 8/10 right now. I think for now it's going to stay but it may change after playing it on "master mode," which we will probably do next time. I still feel I really like the constituent elements of the game (especially the deduction) but I feel the fairly high length makes the bluffing aspect too risky - sure, you might get away with something, but you might also dig yourself into a deep hole and be stuck there for another 2+ hours.

Space Alert is a perennial favorite in the group although I myself haven't played it in almost a year. We played a tough-but-not-too-tough mission and that's where I think the game is best. When you're on the one-mistake-equals-doom level the frustration level is too high but when you have just a bit of wiggle room it's great. (And always play with the expansion. It makes the game way better.)

Finally, I got in a 2-player game of Summoner Wars: Master Set with my wife. She was the ... err, mountain goat people, and I was the Shadow Elves. It came down to the very end but she was able to double-blast my summoner with her champion for the win as I was closing in on her. Good times and I'm glad she seemed to enjoy the game - SW does a lot of what I like about Magic: the Gathering but without the collectible aspect and with no deckbuilding required (although it is optionally doable).

I recently picked up the new Alliances Master Set but haven't tried it yet. I will say the new box is VASTLY superior and it even has dividers for everything, which makes it practically worth a purchase right there.
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6. RPG Item: Fiasco [Average Rating:8.33 Overall Rank:6]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Click Clack Lumberjack 2
Hey, That's My Fish! 2
Alchemists 1
Evolution 1
Fiasco 1
Fields of Arle 1
Martian Dice 1
Qwixx 1
Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem 1
Splendor 1
Yardmaster 1

Nothing new this week, but the highlight was another GCL Fiasco! We used the playset Dysfunctions & Dragons, which was fairly tame for most setups but still very amusing. We may have had an equal about of fun with all the Google Hangout features. In fact, Google took the liberty of taking my screen caps and turning them into a gif automatically. It's a little too fast for my personal gif preferences, which is why I'm putting it behind the spoiler (as I don't think everyone wants to see gif-Grace every time they read the list this week). Here is the result:

Spoiler (click to reveal)

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7. Board Game: Kaosball: The Fantasy Sport of Total Domination [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:2116]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem – Grim Bastards Club Expansion x1
Kaosball: The Fantasy Sport of Total Domination x1
Star Wars: Imperial Assault x1
Coconuts x1
Monolith: The Strategy Game x1
Shiv x1
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game x1


Kaosball

Man, this game. I'm a huge fan and it's my perfect sports game but I don't get it to the table enough. We played a three player game and I got stomped as the Ogres, but had a blast. I came close to selling this a few months ago as it takes up an entire shelf but I'm glad I didn't. Should be playing it more in the future as I'm reviewing it for The Review Corner and I'm also going to be reviewing some of the expansion teams.


Monolith

My buddy kickstarted this and I just don't like it. It's completely theme-less, I find the decisions easy. Much like Harbour, I'm finding any game where I can just bounce back and forth between the same points and easily win just boring. I won the first game I played of it last year as well doing the same thing. The rest of the table is trying fancy stuff with cards and powers and I'm just slowly and steadily gaining VP and resources. Not awful, but nothing interesting here.


X-Wing

Dove back into Wave 5 in preparation for a review. My Scum and Villainy stuff arrived after we played and I'm looking forward to tearing into that. Some of the illicit upgrades look nasty as hell.


On My Mind

More playtesting of Shiv with some modifications and I realized the advice I received before just isn't cutting it. Using the rules that were already working produced a much better game and this was confirmed from my group who convinced me to stick with the rules as currently available.

Too much TV. Watching like 6 shows right now and the best currently are The Americans and House of Cards season 3. I forgot how much I enjoy House of Cards, it's like a NASCAR race with vehicles burning furiously at top speed but careening down a track with tons of turns and unexpected bumps as opposed to just going in a circle.

I picked up Colt Express from MM's daily deal last week, so it joins Lost Valley, The Three Muskateer's The Queen's Pendant, and Fief as sealed games awaiting plays.

A review went up last week of the WotC 2006 collectible miniatures game Dreamblade that caught my eye. The review was ok, but it put this game back on my radar after it'd fallen off a bit. Doing some more research and reminding myself what drew me to it originally, I decided to reach out to the F:AT community on advice concerning what to pick up as the game sells pretty cheap on Ebay in lots. A few private messages later and I worked out a couple of great deals. have over a hundred minis including two starters coming my way.

I received a review copy of the Daybreak expansion for One Night Ultimate Werewolf in the mail and I'm looking forward to playing it. I know it's gotten mixed reviews and the new roles do seem to be largely over the top, but still looking forward to it.

I watched Rodney's Watch It Played for Quantum so that I could offer Grace some level of competition on BGA and it sounds interesting. Probably too abstract to be something I'd buy but looking forward to seeing how our play goes.

The Geekway microgame design competition user voting starts sometime today. I'll be posting to solicit votes from the GCL
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8. Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1792]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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New Game

Kakerlakenpoker Royal x1

Old Games

No Thanks! x1
Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition x1
Santiago x1
Star Realms x2
San Juan (second edition) x1
BANG! The Dice Game x1

Not a bad week for gaming, got some old favorites in and one new one.

I was surprised at how much I liked Cockroach Poker when Grace first introduced it to me, so much so that I got my own copy, played it a bunch, then got my own copy of the "update," Kakerlakenpoker Royal. This version does away with one of the suits, but adds a "Royal" card in each of the remaining ones, plus two special cards. You can now claim that a card is a "Royal," which, if it is one, can cause the loser to take both it and another card from a stack that's set aside at the beginning of the game. I like the extra layer the Royal cards add (as well as the special cards, which are essentially a "wild-except-for-Royal" and "anti-Wild") and will pretty much always want to play this new version.
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9. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:18]
Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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Lots of gaming this week - despite my usual group not being able to get together.

Mage Knight Board Game x 2

and

Fiasco x 1

Fiasco was terrific, again. Grace has linked my report below but it's here too: Re: Dysfunctions & Dragons - Setup & OOC

It doesn't do the thing justice, of course. It was laugh-out-loud funny throughout, and despite the lack of guns and mob bosses and drugs that were all writ large over the last session, I thought this was just as much fun, or more, with the story developing and concluding in ways I'd never have guessed up front - but ways that were really satisfying for me, anyway.

4 players was good. I think it kept individual scenes a bit shorter, whilst making ensemble scenes more chaotic and fun; the 2 hour run time was the same as for 3p.

It is, too, a cool way to spend a couple of hours with some of you GCL folk. Gotta love that global reaching out thing.

Looking forward to another go at this.



What to say about MK?

I've gone nuts with it.

I took to Vassal, since the house is upside down with spring cleaning at present (irony there, somewhere) and it's a terrific way to play this game. The latest mod is a complete build - all 4 players and all the cards; get it whilst it lasts.

So game 1: a mere 113 points. Not a lot of improvement (9pts) over my previous effort BUT, significantly, I felt it was much easier to take out City 1 (lvl 5). I left it too late - beginning I think of R6 - so there was no chance to tackle City 2, but the whole thing was tense, and fun, and funny, and challenging and I felt I earned every Fame point.

Game 2: just finished tonight. One of the nice things about Vassal. And YES! Victory! Solo Conquest, you are mine!

190 points cool - miles ahead of anything I've done before, and I'd frankly have been pleased just to take out the 2 Cities to complete the Scenario - the cool points are just a bonus.

I've now played this 5 times in 2 weeks, for a total of 9 games in 3 years, so I'm really glad I kicked this off.

My BGG rating has gone up to 9 - and would be a 10 but for the length of game. I think both of these last 2 took the better part of 5 hours - each.

Still: I feel I've got bang for buck, at last. And I'm even starting to look at the expansions.

Also: the rules are not at all troublesome once you're playing often enough - apart from the site reference cards, that you'll need for a few dozen games I guess, or forever, I hardly looked at the rules in the last game I played.

Love it.



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10. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:328] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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So, these past couple weeks have been... amusing. I already mentioned this, but I accidentally ended up with 3 copies of Last Will. One, I bought for myself as an early birthday present (thinking nobody was buying me board games this year), one from my younger brother (whom I had told I'd bought Last Will, just in case he decided to), and a friend from my group. Whoops! So, obviously the universe/my friends are telling me I need to play Last Will.

 8   Last Will
 9   Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts
 9   Puerto Rico

Last Will -- Remains as enjoyable and light as I remember it being. We played with the $70 start game, but I don't think I'll play a short game light that again. In the future, I'm interested in playing a $130 game, since that would give us more time to properly run our engines. As soon as any of us got something operational, we had to dismantle it. Still, fun was had and I won pretty handily.

Race for the Galaxy -- We played 3 players with a new guy. My buddy who got me Last Will originally hated this particular expansion, but he's come around to it recently, and admitted that it's his go-to on Kheldon these days. That makes sense, since he's gotten far better at it since we originally got it. He played a solid strategy that leeched well off of my bonuses and won by a decent margin. I knew I was throwing the game early on when I settled, expecting him to call trade, but did it anyway.

Puerto Rico -- The new guy actually won this one. So, each of us won one game of the night. My RftG buddy is exceptionally skilled at Puerto Rico, but he rarely plays with 3, so he was shocked at how well I manipulated his income, and he finished a miserable last place. Despite losing also, I was very pleased with how I played the roles, although I should have focused more on shipping somehow.

D&D -- Continues to be a really great time with Raffi and Grace. I'm getting a better feel for my character as well as theirs. I was surprised to see how they've changed/streamlined leveling up in this particular edition. I had not realized how much your first level dictates your character (at least in the basic rules).

Pathfinder -- My brothers and I are gearing up to do a play-by-email, and I'm setting the final piece in place for them. I expect we'll start sometime this weekend.
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11. Board Game: Scoville [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:517]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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Kemet
Red7
Scoville
Curse of the Pharaoh - A Murder Mystery Dinner

It looked like I was going to run away in Kemet, but they really stopped me from doing so. I still managed to win, but scores were something like 8-7-6.

Scoville was played properly this time with 4 players, so it was actually a game! (HINT: Never play with more than 4.) I still haven't wrapped my head around the planning enough to get a lot of this, but I did manage to win yet again. Huh. I may consider trying to trade this off, as much as I wanted to love it.

The highlight of the week, and the focus of all of my attention, though, was Curse of the Pharaoh! I was the moderator, and planned and ran this for my wife's birthday last Saturday. The game had 21 players, which is basically the base game + expansion + 2 official extra roles for surplus players. I fortunately also had one other person helping to serve food and such, so 23 people in total were in attendance. Everybody had a blast, tensions ran high, oh, and I think the players effectively brought about the apocalypse... Well, if that caught your attention and you don't mind spoilers...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
As the story goes, Sir William and his team excavated a Jade Scarab recently, a highly prized artifact. Two other nearby excavation teams, along with the local curator, and many others are attending a party in celebration. Huzzah! But half an hour before the party, the corpse of one of the diggers, Abu Nazir, has been found! Sir William disgracefully put the corpse in the Camel Shed, quite disrespectful to the Camel Shed as I pointed out, and the local authorities were immediately summoned. They arrived 10 minutes late, into the party, but were hot, or rather cold, on the trail of the murderer. Meanwhile, it was up to the servant, me, 'Oi, You!', to keep the party cheerful and bellies full.

The evening started out quiet, as people got to know who they other guests were. Professor Mathers from one of the other archaelogical dig sites was showing off his most recently prized find, the agate mask. Many people started asking around for a Mr. Big, a well known leader of a smuggling ring and member of the Crimson Sash.

As the evening drew on, tensions rose. One of the most popular men that evening, the local curator Shahfeeze Merouf, was poisoned 3 times by 3 different individuals by 3 different means. The poor man was fortunate enough to find an antidote in time each time, but was clearly an important man many wanted dead. Meanwhile, the local digging team begged and pleaded for him to re-sign their digging license. But without being able to procure the now stolen Jade Scarab, he would not put down his pen. The lead excavator, Sir William, turned out to have quite a despicable past, having killed his peer and taken all the credit in past expeditions. Shahfeez couldn't stand for that, but he could concede renewal if it meant recovery of the jade scarab. Cause without that scarab, there would be dire consequences.

Meanwhile, the two servants running the show hemmed and hawed to themselves. Watching the guests quickly depleting the plate of cookies. Little did anyone know, the servants knew that Abu Nazir managed to stash the real Jade Scarab in the plate of cookies before being stabbed to death. The plate was nearly empty, and the scarab was glaringly obvious to anyone looking plainly at the plate. But still, guests walked up, took a cookie, and walked away without a notice or a thought. And had Helen even seen a glimpse of the scarab, that would've been enough for Queen Bity to take over. She was, after all, the reincarnation and bloodline of Queen Bity, and humanity's last hope against the Pharaoh should he arise again.

Off in the distance, Alvy Spanheim, aka Mr Big, walked morosely over to eat another cookie. He had lost all of his money earlier that night, and been robbed of one of his greatest artifacts by one of his own employees! Stolen for the purpose of selling to Mr. Big, whom she didn't realize was the man she'd just stolen from, nor that he no longer had the money to buy back what was stolen! And his abilities were all but exhausted. As he reached down for another cookie, Alvy took pause. Then, casually, he cupped the jade scarab along with a few more cookies and swept down the hall to slip the scarab in his pocket. Success! He had gone away unnoticed, with the treasured artifact everybody had been searching out! Not long later, he escaped into the corner of the night, away from prying eyes, and started to speak his spell aloud, holding the Jade Scarab to the sky where the form of a great Pharaoh began to emerge.

At this sight, the mob (oh yes, there was a mob forming outside) scattered. The guests cowered. Shahfeez and his supporters started scrambling to bring out Queen Bity. Shahfeeze spilled the beans to Helen, about how he knew she was Queen Bity, but just did not know how to awaken the Bity within. He desperately gave all of his magical artifacts to her in the hopes that something would trigger Bity. They frantically went about camp, fighting and looting other guests to obtain any other artifacts they could, hoping to awaken the only being capable of stopping the Pharaoh beformed his full form came forth. Nothing seemed to work. Finally, desperately, shouts of "Where is the Jade Scarab?" and "We need the Jade Scarab!" was heard abound, but nobody could identify where the scarab was or what had happened to it. Alvy kept his distance, and kept quiet. A mere spectator in the crowds.

As time wore on, the powers of good were too late, and never inspected the man who had found the Jade Scarab in a plate of cookies. Governments across the world fell and succumbed to the power of the Pharaoh. A reign of tyranny and anarchy had begun. But oh what a great story for the two reporters present!
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12. Board Game: Top 5 Rummy [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:8824]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Top 5 Great Moments in Gaming:

1. Trivial Pursuit: DVD – The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy Edition/Mastermind: In 2011, I was working the overnight shift at an emergency shelter. I had noticed the cute volunteer working one night a week and eventually even starting talking to her. In time, I marshaled the courage to ask her out. Her enthusiastic reply: "That sounds fine." Being a hopeless nerd, I suggested we meet at a coffee shop, have some tea, and play a couple games. I brought LOTR Trivial Pursuit, she brought Mastermind. I believe she cleaned my clock in both.

2. The Resistance: Avalon: I'll let my session report speak for me here. I still think it's my most satisfying moment.

3. Mage Knight Board Game: Most of my great memories involve Abbie. This time, she was drunk. We were all having drinks, but she had the great wisdom to accept a rum and Diet Dr. Pepper. Understand that she's quite small. It was mostly rum, and she hated it, but she drank the thing. She has no explanation as to why. We were playing the intro scenario while she was "enjoying" her cocktail. And she was doing well! Perhaps the alcohol loosened her up. But by the time we got to final scoring, she had polished the thing off. She was convinced she was going to win, and as other players won categories and caught up to her, she became angrier and angrier. "No! NO! Stop scoring points!" Again, understand she's quite small, and her being angry is more funny than anything. She ended up not winning, and she was comically furious.

4. Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 Edition): I was in a party of 6th level adventurers that ran afoul of a roper. For those uninitiated, a roper is an appropriate challenge for a party of 12th level. And they're really annoying, too, using sticky rope-like strands to grapple you and draw you in. We weren't supposed to fight it. We were supposed to go around it or sneak past it. Instead, we engaged it. And it kicked our tails. We barely got past it alive. We regrouped and armed ourselves with a whole bunch of fireballs. Killing it was the most satisfying victory we've ever had. And had it not been 2 AM, we would've celebrated loudly.

5. Here I Stand: I won a military victory as the Papacy. If you know anything about the game, you know that's nearly impossible. When you get props from the designer, it's like a badge of honor.
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13. Video Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:208]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Board Games
 10   Category 5
 10   Power Grid
 9   Firefly: The Game
 8   Deus*

Video Games
 10   Dragon Age: Inquisition x4

Quantity in games this week was lacking, though quality most certainly was not.

Power Grid was an excellent affair, with 6 people jockeying in the US, and the typically vibrant Northeast corner deliberately excluded from play. (If you were not aware, 6 is the correct number of people to play Power Grid with.) I thought I had won, able to trigger the endgame with only a dollar to spare, only to discover that I hadn't bought resources for my third power plant, which would keep me from powering enough houses to win, so I didn't trigger the endgame, but I had indeed overbuilt and put myself in terrible position for the last turn. As it was, I ended up not being able to build 16 houses on account of so many spaces taken, which garnered me a respectable third. This game was notable in that 5 people were quite competitive, all powering 15 or 16 houses, and ~$10 separating 1st and 2nd. Lovely game!

Deus was new to me. It's an engine-building game where you are looking for synergistic cards to build your tableau with. I'm already hooked based on that. I think there's likely a fair amount of luck in the game based on the distribution of colors of cards you get at any given time, but the game is short enough that it's forgivable. I enjoyed it tremendously and am looking forward to playing it again. (And Kristen wants us to pick up a copy, so yay!)

I was quite sick this weekend, and Kristen was gracious enough to take the lion's share of AnnaMarie duty while I rested in the bedroom, set up a card table, and played a lot of Dragon Age: Inquisition. I finally finished the game, after 111 hours logged on it, and am a bit torn on it. It's still a fantastic game and I strongly recommend it. The main plot was fantastic, and I'm still thinking about it. I loved the characters and their stories, especially Cole. I also played through fairly completionist - I didn't get out maps to do all the mosaic pieces everywhere, but I did every sidequest I found. (And the game provides helpful aids for doing so.) I'm concerned that the sidequests on so many maps were too numerous, and too disconnected from the main plot. Sure, you're shoring up support from everywhere. But sometimes it was hard for the sidequests to be memorable, and the ratio of sidequests to main quest was way out of proportion. It's still a must for fans of the game, but next time I play it through (if I ever play it through) I'm going to leave a lot of things undone, and I suspect that will irk me. I still strongly, strongly recommend it for fans of the Dragon Age series, and if you haven't played any of the Dragon Age series, I strongly recommend starting with the first.

New Acquisitions
My CSI gift certificate continues to feed our addiction - just shipped yesterday and on its way to us, we have Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Battle for Faerûn starter and boosters, Catan: Penn/Jersey, Concordia: Britannia / Germania, Kingsport Festival, and Witness.
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14. Board Game: Shiv [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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The voting for the Geekway BGG Microgame contest is underway. I'd be very grateful for any votes for my entry Shiv. The top selections from this list will move on to the round robin playtesting at Geekway where a winner will be determined.

The Poll
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15. Board Game: Tournay [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:766]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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10 Android:Netrunner x15 (227 plays so far)
10 6 nimmt! x5 (14 plays so far)
9 Tournay x1 (10 plays so far)
 8 Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game x6 New!
 8 Witness x2 New!
7.5 Forbidden desert x2 (12 plays so far)
5 7 Wonders x4 (32 plays so far)

On Tournay : I would bring into light this truly gem to me, so overlooked and overrated here.

Here is my story and thoughts about Tournay :

I discovered Tournay in February 2012 in a 3 players game. As a fan of Troyes, i told myself that i had to try it, even if the games have nothing in common except their artwork universe, the 3 colors and the events. The verdict was definitive. I did not like the game: i found it very mechanical and super dry.

Most recently, Bruxelles 1893 was the last Pearl Games i was stucked with. This brought me Tournay to my mind again. Why Troyes's publisher took the risk of publishing a game like Tournay the year after Troyes (i mean in term of weight/positioning/segmentation) ? I certainly missed something and judged it a little too hastily.

I decided to buy the game before my holidays. After 7 games in 12 days, my opinion has changed dramatically, to the point of considering Tournay as one of the best card/combo game of my library. Why?

1) the game has an excellent interest/playing time ratio: it is a race and this prevents from playing the same martingale for hours while allowing players to develop their strategy.

2) the straightforwardness of the gameplay: only 1 action to choose from 5 quick and simple actions. This minimizes the waiting time between rounds and helps to keep involved. It also reinforces the feeling of race and makes the game very dynamic.

3) everything is a matter of timing and decision.
- when to draw ? where ? why ? draw early at level III to guide your strategy ? build a money engine ? build a draw engine ?
- fight against events and defend yourselves with walls ?
- stack your cards for more points vs. rush the endgame ?

4) false sense of randomness and lack of control. This is perhaps the most virulent grip i had about Tournay (at least for 2 and 3 players configurations).
- the draw mechanic allow one to rationalize his choice given the knowledge of the decks compositions (each color has a purpose, cards in 2 copies, the first card is visible...)
- it is possible to counter a player with Ballista to defend your city. Sure, this will slow your development down but it is a matter of choice and priorities. Hence decision.
- a building does not come out or it was built by another player ? There is always the solution to get the Bridge/Road/Port.
- not enough manpower ? there is always the solution to hire opponent's workers.

I find now that luck is finely tuned and, oddly, is necessary to control the game. This is a game that requires to give it time, to insist, to play games in row in order to enjoy all its flavors.

Like always with Pearl Games, the components quality are top notch kiss

On Witness : Wow ! Great fun and interesting little game.
We made the #1 and #2 cases but we did pretty bad : 7/12 and .....1/12.

We found that the #2 case was pretty confusing but in the same time my 9 years old son screw this case by not giving all the info he knew to his mother-Nasir

Very good surprise from one of my favorite publisher along with Pearl Games. It is really something different than what we were used to play from them. It is clearly not Amyitis, Caylus or Myrmes

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game : My boxes were standing in shelves for years. This week, my son asked me to show him my ships and to teach him how to play.

We started with the simplified rules with 2 TIE and 1 X-Wing and now we are playing with the full set of rules and 2 to 4 ships each one of us, depending on the scenario.

I will have to buy a nebula/galaxy playmat at some point cool

Tomorrow : De Vulgari Eloquentia and Tournay if all goes well.
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