GCL Swedish Meatball Division #198: The Heat Death of the Universe
David P
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You've stumbled on the latest episode of the Swedish Meatballs discussion list! The Meatballs are a division of BGG's Game Chat League. If you'd like to follow along, there's a list to help you do it. Click here!

Civil comments from non-members are always welcome, but only members get to add items.


Rotation:

fateswanderer
sgosaric
Sorp222
AAArg_ink
chearns
qwertymartin
lacxox
cymric
bnordeng
ellephai
Hanibalicious
Osirus
smorange
Jythier (hopefully!)

-------------

This week I had physics on the brain.
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1. Board Game: Time 'n' Space [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:3448]
David P
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A recent thread elsewhere on BGG by Justus got me thinking about the role of time and space in games. Ideally I like some spatial and temporal unity in the games I play. I don't want to feel like I'm playing several otherwise identical games at once or in succession. A game with multiple identical rounds with little or no carry over of the game state from one to the next feels more like a series of separate games than a cohesive whole. Likewise, I don't like playing multiplayer solitaire on individual player boards if it feels like several parallel versions of the same game. Does spatial and temporal unity matter to you? Is one more important than the other?
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2. Board Game: 4th Dimension [Average Rating:5.27 Overall Rank:13716]
David P
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Vancouver
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Relativity shows us that time and space are aspects of the same thing. But in many ways, they're quite distinct. An event that occurs after another carries with it information from the first. A game played after another carries with it knowledge of the previous game. Sometimes this is derisively labelled "metagaming". Sometimes it's recounted fondly--"Remember when..."

I think we've talked about this before, but let's say you could keep the skills and understanding of the game, but wipe your mind of all knowledge of the other players after every game. How would that change the way you play?
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3. Board Game: Quantum [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:373]
David P
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Recently I played Chicago Express and made a move that I was sure would benefit me greatly. I was certain that the next player would do what I wanted him to do. Mathematically, it was the right move. And then, of course, he made a different one. You can never be sure what other people are going to do.

Do you wish people behaved more "rationally" in games, more deterministically, or do you embrace uncertainty?
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4. Board Game: Back to the Future [Average Rating:2.50 Unranked]
David P
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Time always points forward, and yet it sometimes feels as if we're moving backwards. One of my most hated games, Quelf, is like this, in that it penalizes players for missteps, sending them backwards on the race to the finish line.

Do any games give you this sense? Is it generally something you like or dislike?
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5. Board Game: TAMSK [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1508] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
David P
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Vancouver
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Time can be used to structure a game, as in a speed game. But TAMSK uses time in a unique way. Are there any others you can think of?
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6. Board Game: Wine Cellar [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
David P
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Wine gets better with age, but it reaches a point where it only gets worse. Do you think games are like this? Do they all peak at some point? In a more objective sense, as you look at the BGG rankings, it's hard to conclude otherwise, isn't it?
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7. Board Game: Entropy [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3807]
David P
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The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that the universe tends toward disorder. In a game of Tigris & Euphrates, the game becomes ever more complex, but the actions of the players become more disordered as plans give way to desperate attempts to generate VPs. What other games give you this sense?
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8. Board Game: BANG! [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1032]
David P
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Eventually the universe will end. For life everywhere in the universe, we will go out with a whimper. Would you rather go out with a bang, taking a spectacular risk and failing, or by a gradual decline?
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9. Board Game: Loony Quest [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:652]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Wednesday, gaming club:

 8   Blue Moon Legends x3
Giving the game another go. As a warm-up, playing with two factions we knew – Flit vs. Vulca. I still lost as Flit but I could see my mistakes and I was not far from winning. Then we learned and played Khind vs. Terrah, and whichever side I was on, I won. These factions really provide lots of variety.
 8.5   Times Square x2
I lent the game to the guy I was playing with (yes it was hard) and now he brought it back, after playing it more than a dozen times. I won the first one easily and the second one would have ended in a draw, had I chosen to discard cards in my last turn. I did not, so he won.
 6.5   Versailles
I really hoped for more. I know it is meant to be a family-friendly rondel/worker/whatever game, but it’s lacking, and it’s just too long for what it is. I did not hate what I was doing though, but I was underwhelmed.

In the weekend, short plays with Saci:
 6.7   Okiya x4
She won 3 times and then I had a narrow win.

With the kids:
 6.7   Okiya x3
I won the first (very friendly) game against Miska as we placed all our Geishas and he was the one who had no legal move left. He was even a bit angry at me that I did not emphasize that in this case he would lose. Then I learned from the forums that in this case the game ends in a draw. Damn!
 7.5   Loony Quest
It is a really fun diversion that is also completely different from any other game I know. While I’m not sure about very long-term replayability, I’m really happy that I own it now. On the other hand, I need to be strongly handicapped next time if I want to play it for scores with my son – I’m too good and his fine motoric and spatial guessing skills are not so developed yet.
 7   Circus Flohcati x3
 7.5   The Magic Labyrinth
 6   Pino Sortino
 7   Kangaroo
 7.5   My First Carcassonne x2

Alone:
 7.1   Imperial Settlers I had a solo play of it as I just did bring home a copy (it was just released in Hungarian). I guess I would never have bought it in English but the Hungarian text (which I have worked quite a lot on) did convince me it might become another gamerish game that my wife plays with me.
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10. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:151]
chearns
Canada
Montréal
Québec
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As always, listed in order of the fun I had.

Played Glory to Rome twice. Even though that black box has been sitting in my house forever, these are my first plays of the game. I think I was worried that the game would be complicated. The game was good enough, played first with two then with four, to remind me that I need to cull my collection so that I can play more awesome and less good games. Out went Galaxy Trucker and 1989 right away. I also realize that this is the game I wanted Innovation to be. That might bode poorly for that game as well.

An odd experience with Dominion, it featured one first time and one second time player, who copied the owner's strategy of buying Coppers when they had an extra buy. I can imagine that there are layouts where that makes sense. This wasn't one of them. With a Witch in the mix, one player finished in the negatives, and my score was greater than all the rest of their's combined.

A quick two player game of Continuous Pairs while waiting for some other people to finish up a game. Plenty of laughs, especially when it came down to both of us unable to fold at the end (30 to 28, with the one and twos already taken).

An unfinished game of 1989: Dawn of Freedom as my playing partner didn't quite like it. Personally I find it nicely streamlines the OP rules and helps the players focus their attention with the way scoring works. However, the scoring battle doesn't really interest me all that much, and the lack of nuclear war makes the game less tense than TS. So, uh, I guess I'm wanting a game with the tension of TS, but the simplified rules of 1989.

Bananagrams

Mascarade

After Martin when on about Port Royal, I was expecting something fun. It wasn't terrible. But I never really got into it. It felt so... I don't know. Bland.

First time playing Munchkin with the correct rules. Don't ever need to do that again.
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11. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:410]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Just one games night, Tuesday at Joe's. We had the dreaded six players, but decided to avoid splitting up and ended up playing a really fun set of talkative, social games.

Kobayakawa - nice, simple bluffing game. On second play, my only worry is that the game will always come down to the last round, because bets are doubled, and if you're losing prior to that round you have to stay in to have a chance at winning.

I'm the Boss - loud, chaotic negotiation. I am *so bad* at this game but I always enjoy it. I always start the game thinking to myself 'save your cards, save your cards' and then get carried away and burn them all.

Mysterium - hey, this is neat! It's a co-op deduction game, but where one player is the clue-giver ('ghost') and the others are the clue-interpreters, and the clues are all given using Dixit-style artwork cards (and no words), which can be discussed by the detectives. Genuine whoops of excitement when we figured out a subtle clue. I want to try being the ghost!

Spyfall - and finally, a social deduction game that I didn't hate. One player is the Spy, the others are all given a card showing the same location ('school', 'police station', 'submarine' etc.) Players take turns to ask each other questions, with the aim of catching out the Spy without giving away the location. The Spy can guess the location at any point, or the players can initiate a vote on the identity of the Spy.
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12. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:113]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Game night started with King of Tokyo, which I'd so often heard praised. And I cannot see why; it's just rolling dice and while it was pleasant enough as an opening filler game, I don't see it holding my interest for many repeated plays.

Puzzle Strike, on the other hand, remains pretty neat. It had been a while since I'd played with 4p, and our first game had an epic cascade where the deathblow my lefthand neighbor dealt to the player on his left went around and killed everyone else including me! I normally don't like player elimination in games, but here the combination of lack of VP and the real feel of a video game make it worthwhile.

Eminent Domain is still fun even though it has VP. The person I introduced it to had never played RftG or Glory to Rome. I'm hesitant to bring the former to a game night just because I don't relish belaboring the arcane iconography. The latter, maybe.

We ended the game night with Splendor, and I couldn't help but use the same strategy I did last time of "Just get as many cheap/free low mines as possible", but I was glad to see a woman at the table who only bought 2 cards without VP was the first to 15. Admittedly she didn't end up winning, but still, it's nice to confirm there are various ways to go about this game.

At home, after reading the previous Meatball list with envy, we decided to play Aton again. After the first scoring round, Debbie was leading me by 10 points and had crossed the 20-point rubicon. "I thought I was doing much better." "Yes, you always think that." Well, my board control still paid off in the end, because while Debbie was threatening an insta-win on yellow, I managed an insta-win in temple 4, which she saw coming but could not prevent thanks to a hand full of high cards allowing me to play first.

We also pulled out Rivals for Catan, which hadn't seen the table in too long. A more balanced Settlers for 2p, Rivals guarantees everyone at least 1 resource each turn, and has no map on which to block people in. Still, it's a game that snowballs, and once each player builds 2 extra settlements, whoever nabs the 5th and final one has an income advantage for the rest of the game.
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13. Board Game: Cube Quest [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1290]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Tuesday: I was off work with a nasty cold and that meant missing games night too. But I did content with myself with another play of Navajo Wars. I'm starting to learn the rhythm of the game, and this time I was able to force the enemy's morale down to zero with a series of failed raids, giving me an auto-win about two-thirds of the way through the scenario.

Sunday: Sam arranged an unusual weekend session for my group at his place, with 4 of us answering the call.

Camel Up was better than my first play (with 8 players) but I still feel like there's a vital ingredient missing. It sets up this nice shared incentive structure where different players want different camels to win/lose, but then it doesn't give you any tools to manipulate whether they do or not. I wonder how it would play if you could *choose* the colour of die you roll when you take the roll action.

Impulse continues to delight. This time a calm build up to 12-12-12 was followed by a mad destructive chase around the board. I sent a cruiser to kill Ian's undefended transports, leaving mine unprotected in turn for Andrew to take out. Then I chased down Andrew's for the win. At one point there were only 4 ships on the map!

In the Shadow of the Emperor feels like one of those transitional Euros like Princes of Florence (it came out in 2004). There's still some residual interaction (area majority, voting and even some direct attacks) but you can feel the inflexibility setting in. I won 26-24-23-18 and I can't see the point spread ever being more than that, given the scarcity of VP opportunities.

Cube Quest is a blast - dexterity (flicking) with light tactics and special powers. It felt cleansing after the dryness of ItSotE.

In other news, I really need to print out Mottainai.
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14. Board Game: Carcassonne: The City [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:509]
David P
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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 8   Wir sind das Volk! x2
 8   TAMSK x3
 8   Carcassonne: The City
 6   El Caballero x2
 8   Blue Moon x7
 7   Attika x2

Just one game day/night with Marc last Saturday. We started with a couple games of Attika. I took the win on both. The first game came down to a single turn at the end. The second was a much wider margin. I got lucky on a few early tile draws, and I think the tile draw is more decisive than I'd like. I recently knocked the rating down from 8 to 7, and although I don't think it'll go down any lower, I'm not as enamoured with it as I once was.

We also played a couple games of WsdV. I played both as East. The first game ended quickly in the first end of decade scoring round. The protests can really sneak up on you if you're not careful. The full effects of scoring continue to elude me before actually going through it. The second game ended at the end of the fourth decade. I just barely pulled out a win. The third decade ended with me having a single factory. I spent the fourth decade building my economy back up and withstood the last round's onslaught.

I wanted to play Carcassonne, and Marc has the City, which I really like, so we played that. Fun, close game that I edged out at the end. We went from there to another tile-layer, El Caballero, which was new to me. I had trouble learning the game, largely because I'm more of an experiential learner and the game is hard to grok in the abstract. The first game was tough. Marc got out to an early lead that I couldn't close. The second game I did much better, getting control of the main piece of land early and never losing it. We split the two games.

I wanted to get some GIPF on, so appropriately enough for this list, we played three games of TAMSK. Two were close to-the-last-second games decided on the "tiebreaker" of waiting for the sand to run out. We split them. The other was a clear win.

Finally, we played a few rounds of Blue Moon. Initially I played as Aqua to Marc's Vulca. I ended up winning the series in four rounds 8-4. After that I played as Flit against Marc's Khind. He beat me in three rounds 5-1.
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15. Board Game: XCOM: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:484]
Andrew
United States
San Francisco
California
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Two weeks in one entry!

The game of note this fortnight was XCOM: The Board Game, the app-centric co-op game based on the excellent video game franchise. Most FFG games consider a healthy (even unhealthy) dose of luck and XCOM was no different - one of the other players disliked this intensely.

Each player takes a distinct role that functions mostly independently of the others, except that they share resources. We played the game on the tutorial level so the time constraints were relaxed, but I suspect the weaker coordination requirements (relative to games like Space Alert) hurt the cooperative aspect of the game.

The other new game was [redacted] - a hidden teams game about running around an embassy and trying to steal documents. While it's not my usual fare, the group I was playing with was great.

I played a bunch of Roll for the Galaxy and Android: Netrunner too.
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16. Board Game: Oware [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:4987]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Just three games of Oware. Really the big gaming news of that week was the announcement of Mottainai which of course has me all geeked up.

Also helps that Chris of Asmadi games is like super responsive and stuff. Social media strategy at its best!

So yeah. I'm completely luxuriating in the hype.

Even though I know it most likely means I'll be disappointed. Cause that's how these things always ends for me.

But we'll see, maybe it will be different this time.
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17. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:2277]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_8_ Stone Age - 4 Players; 2 Players
_8_ Dominion - 2 Players
_8_ Kingdom Builder - 2 Players
_7_ Morels - 2 Players

With the kids...
_9_ Pandemic - 2 Players
_7_ Circus Flohcati - 3 Players
_6_ Dixit - 5 Players
_6_ Stratego - 2 Players


(1) Stratego - My son came home with this as a gift grab from a birthday party. I played without my 1 or my 2 and still found a way to win. Experience pays and my son learned a few lessons about how not to give away his flag.
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18. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Ra
Through the Desert
Backgammon
Aquaretto


When Ra was new to me, I was happy because I disliked it less than most auction games. But now I realize there is something even better than Ra, and that is Not Playing Auction Games.
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