GCL Phoenix 223 - Everything is a Remix (12/04/2015)
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Topic: Everything is a Remix
In the last few years, the board game scene seems to have exploded in such a way that there a a plethora of boardgames released every year, every month even! This means that there are so many games coming out that not every can ever be played, or even be known.

Now, this isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing for board gaming as a hobby, but rather a change in the landscape. What this means for game design, however, might be a somewhat different story. With so many games being put out, it becomes incredibly difficult to put out something that is innovative, creative, different, new, or fresh. As the Barenaked Ladies sing, "it's all been done (woo hoo hoo!)." Now, this doesn't mean that every blue moon, someone doesn't do something ground-breakingly creative and brings to life a game that breathes new life into game design as a whole -- but it is more likely that games are new takes on old mechanics, fresh blends of old beans.

In his 4 part series, Everything is a Remix, Rob G. Wilson explores the changing landscape primarily within music and cinema to talk about this phenomena - not to villefy, but to think anew what "originality" might mean once everything has already been done.

Below is part one, they are all pretty interesting however.



Also, a special welcome to Karl Fast!

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1. Board Game: Creationary [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:3626]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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If everything is a remix, some games still stand to be the "master sample" from which other games draw from. (We're talking bass line from Chic's Good Times Rapper's Delight here). What games do you think have this type of enduring and copyable quality to them? Where they the first game to implement the copyable quality, or simply the more notorious one (e.g., Rapper's Delight, for me, being the more notable example of said bass line)?

Edit: Thanks to Max for pointing out that I hadn't done my homework very thoroughly!
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2. Board Game: Killer Bunnies REMIX [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:12695]
Marc Hawkins
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Edmonton
Alberta
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If everything is a remix, think of your favorite game(s) and the elements that they pull together, and imagine where they might have come from. Why do you think that they achieve such a smooth integration? (i.e., dropping the beat, not the needle)
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3. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1173]
Marc Hawkins
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Edmonton
Alberta
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Even if everything is a remix, some games don't hide the ways in which they creatively sample from others: Copycat being case in point. What's your favorite unabashedly unashamed design remix and why?
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4. Board Game: Metropolys [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:643]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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As Mr. Nuts reminds us about Metropolys, the designer intended to copy the brilliant spatial auction found in Goa but... misunderstood the way in which it was supposed to play out and created something equally charming, unique, and meaningful. If everything is a remix, what are the virtues of the "failed" copy whether intentional or not? What other games might exemplify this?
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5. Board Game: À la dérive [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Even if everything is a remix, some games simply do not fell as though they should not be considered much more than derivative and simply re-hashing others' work and not bringing anything new to the table. For you, what is this game (or what are these games)? Why? What are the characteristics that make it such that it does not stand-out as a meaningful "remix"?
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6. Board Game Designer: David Sirlin
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Lastly, if everything is a remix, there are ethical issues around and about how one goes about remixing. This has many parallels with the music and video industry in which there are many differing and diverging conceptions of what creative commons entail and what should and should not be common. David Sirlin has become the poster boy for a somewhat "anti-establishment" ethic of design commons for his Puzzle Strike and Flash Duel. What are your thoughts on questions of boardgame remix and ethics?
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7. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:418]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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 8   Innovation
 8   Twilight Struggle
 8   Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation x4
 8   Haggis
 7   DVONN x3

A few nights ago, I played an evening-into-night of games with frequent gaming buddy David (aka Smorange).

We started off with a game of Haggis . Things went back and forth but the game came down to the final hand as we were both within scoring distance from the finish line. Both of us bid thinking we both had good hands -- David's was better as he finished by laying an 8-card run. I'd never seen anything like it before.

We then moved on to LoTR: the Confrontation. We played four times, alternating sides. Ironically, all wins were "team Sauron." Neither of us managed to squeak through as we were reading one another relatively well; neither of us really managed to go toe-to-toe with the dark forces, although David did have a Gandalf killing spree one match (although my darkling drag net was inescapable).

Following a well-herbed bird from the oven, we broke out the main event: Twilight Struggle. Alternating our previous roles, I would be the USSR this time around. David and I both had a lot of the other's high value, high impact cards in the early war and played them out for when the event was minimized (or non-existent). This meant that control was more incremental until we hit mid-war (e.g., even the space race was toe-to-toe as neither of us was ever more than one space away from one another) and that the Russian early beat-down did not happen. During mid-war, David had established control in more regions than me, and I never fully recovered -- only able to bring the score back to zero on a few occasions, but never establish a lead of any sort. I was able to hold on until year 10 however at which point David played War Games when I gave him a single point placing him at a position (i.e., 7 points) to give me 6 and still win.

It still being the same day, we moved on to a series of Dvonn matches. David took the first two games, winning with 2 and 3 more rings respectively. The rubber match was a devastating turn around however, with me taking *all* of the rings. Of all the GIPF games, I still think that DVONN is the most opaque of the bunch: it reveals itself in partial, contingent, and unstable manners.

With a bit of midnight oil left to burn we ended things with our usual night cap: Innovation. High scoring early game for both of us due to shared clothing, splitting the first 4 achievements two ways. I ended up medling my whole score pile in an effort to take a different path by having symbol majority for most symbols. While David shared often with me, I wasn't able to make any devastating demands. By the time I had something to work with, David had branched a two way victory (by either a score based achievement or a tuck-based one) -- the game ended 6 achievements to 4 as we entered the 9th age.
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8. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:70]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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I had the week off from school/work for spring break and Kat had a light work week, so we spent a lot of time with the kids, and we gamed a lot as well.

1775: Rebellion x 3

We've been hot for this one around here lately. We've taken to playing the Siege of Quebec scenario of late, and Kat prefers the British. I had a little winning streak going over her, but she broke it this past week.

The scenario is interesting in that it uses only the eastern half of the board (which Kat prefers, it is less overwhelming). This scenario is about control of cities rather than colonies, but you only check for control at the start of a turn. That means you don't get a control marker immediately, but only when you have a presence in an unclaimed city at the start of a turn. This timing difference changes everything.

TZAAR x 2

My recent flurry of DVONN plays made me want to revisit the series. Kat and I got in a couple of plays of TZAAR the other day. It's as good as I remember!

I'd like to spend a little time with PUNCT and GIPF, as I've very little experience with either.

Troyes x 1

We'd done a long stretch of Eldritch Horror, Dead of Winter and 1775, so this was a nice return to our eurogame roots.

Noble Treachery: The Last Alliance x 1

My play log:

I'm not a fan, but it's not as bad as I'd expected. I like it when games use dice in ways beyond "roll and try to get certain numbers". This one sees each round with players trying for either high points or low points, and the card you play contributes to that score along with the die of matching color. So my blue 3 would combine with a blue die showing 4 to give me 7 (shitty whether we're talking high OR low).

Each card also has an effect when played. There's a pool of common cards, identical in each of the game's 5 colors. There's also a pool of uncommon cards, from which you remove a certain number before starting. I like that as well.

What I don't like is the amount of chaos (player induced, but still). VP's can be stolen, sometimes en masse. You're trying to collect 1 of each of the 5 colors of VP. I missed a crucial rule about how to gain these until very late, so that may change things.

In the end, it feels like a near miss for me. I'd play but wouldn't choose it


Lexio x 1

First time playing my own copy (Thank you DJ!). One player loved it (as he tends to with card games, trick-takers), one was indifferent (as he tends to be about card games, trick-takers) and one hated it (as he did with Tichu).

I like this a lot, it's right in my wheel house. I finished a distant last, and I'm not sure I could have played well enough to win given what I had. This could be a problem with the game, or just sour grapes. It feels like a betting aspect would fit?

Like Tichu, some hands are strictly better than others, but at least with Tichu you have a partner to work with, and you have a betting aspect.

Njet x 1

We got only an aborted play, and I won't go into much detail (I talked about it in last week's list). I came away super impressed with the weird way teams are formed and parameters are set for each round.

Tigris & Euphrates x 2

Kat and I dusted this off after roughly 4 years unplayed. I feel that 4-player is the game's strongest count, but 2 is not without its charms. The amount of player-induced chaos is certainly lessened. I'll have to start bringing this around the shop again for game nights.

I love T&E, but it hurts my brain.

Snowdonia x 1

Kat and I played the Mount Washington scenario. It was a tight game, and I won 157-143. The clincher was probably when 2 event cubes came out in the same round and she was unable to pay for train maintenance. Her trains totally rusted, you guys!

Lost Cities x 1

Another 4 years dusty title for the wife and I, she destroyed me 138-63. When asked how she felt about the game after all this time, she said "Eh". I still like it, but I'd rather play Battle Line.

Roll for the Galaxy x 2

Two late night games of Roll (with cookies & cream cake and Long Island iced teas). I won both (I think).

Amerigo x 2

A pair of 2-player games today. It's similar to T&E in that it is better at higher counts, but perfectly enjoyable with just 2. We mixed it up in game to see whether it was worth it to strive for a big island completion bonus early on; we each completed a 2-port island in round 1 for a 30-VP bonus, so it seems like a viable strategy. Our overall scores were higher in game 2, so it was nice to grow the game a little bit. Not sure if it would be as viable with more players.



Back to school and work this week. The weather is finally nice though, and I'm going to try to get outside at some point every day for my mental health. Gaming-wise, I'm going to try to learn Tragedy Looper well enough to teach it. I got my group excited about it, then got intimidated trying to learn it. blush
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9. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:312]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Concordia x1
Large Germanis map with my wife, daughter, and youngest son. I picked up the Farmer and went after getting all my people out and acquiring as many Mars scoring cards as possible, which earned me the win with 133, while my wife had 90 and both youngest son and daughter had 86.

_7_ Copycat x1
My boys helped me teach this to local gamer Will who had been curious about it. Youngest son got a sneaky win in with 58 edging out his brother at 57, while I had 51 and Will 46.

_6_ Takenoko x1
Daughter brought this to Second Saturday event at library and we taught Jeff and his son L. who is same age as my daughter. I won with 37, Jeff 33, daughter 27, and L. caught up a bit at the end wiht 25.

_6_ Fauna x1
Six players with entire family and visiting guest S. My wife ran away with this one, with S. in second, then both sons, myself and daughter at the end. We know so little about animals!

_8_ Abluxxen x1 cue war cry from SJ
My wife helped me teach this to S. and we played three hands, with myself winning the first two and my wife the third.

_8_ Vikings x1
Taught this to my wife and it went over well. As we scored the end game, we both ended up tied before scoring the blue fishermen, where I had just enough with one left over but my wife didn't have anywhere near enough and lost a bunch of points, so I won 74 to 53. I'm hoping this will make the rotation with my wife now that she's learned it.

_8_ Seeland x1
Revisited this with my wife while kids were busy with schoolwork and won a relatively close game, 286 to 254.
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10. Board Game: Tragedy Looper [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:509]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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__9__  Argent: The Consortium
__6__  Tragedy Looper (new!)

Finally got to try Tragedy Looper! Extremely engaging, and one of the more novel / interesting / dynamic takes on a deduction game that I can ever recall seeing, but for all that it was gripping, I found it only faintly fun. (Though: when playing RPGs, I lean towards GMing rather than playing, so perhaps I'd enjoy being the Mastermind more.)

As mentioned in a comment below, we used a communication rule which was halfway between the game's two choices - we (the Protagonists) could discuss to our heart's content at the start of the day, but not after the Mastermind played his cards. This both (a) turned communication into part of the game (since if we simply laid out exactly what we'd do the Mastermind could account for it), and (b) amped up the feeling of individual agency, because you could go off-plan in an attempt to anticipate what the Mastermind would do knowing the public discussion. I really liked this part of the game.

The deduction also worked nicely. Much of it ended up relatively straightforward, both because it was a starting scenario and because the Mastermind played things pretty straight-up. (I think he followed the "recommended play" guidelines; I get the impression those are geared more towards a good teaching experience than for maximal odds of victory.) Once we got enough information, it turned from a deduction game towards a bluffing / reading game, since it was "here are the board-states that will cause us to lose; how can we try to avoid them?" Sometimes this was simply a matter of probability / trying to read the Mastermind's mind - if he played card X, we need to play card Y - but sometimes there was room for clever plans.

So with all that going for it, why didn't I like it? I'm not sure. It might be that the 'team' aspect didn't do it for me - as mentioned last week, I'm often a little less fond of 1-vs-many. And the problem facing the Protagonists didn't feel like it really needed 3 people. I might enjoy this more as a head-to-head 2p game?

Got Argent: the Consortium to the table again with the same two friends as last month, which was awesome: we played the full 5 rounds, and there were more deliberate moves-and-countermoves going on. If I find time, I'll write up a play report in a comment later.

Both my friends ended their 2nd play enthusiastic to play more and start exploring some of the more complex rooms, B-side mage powers, and/or B-side candidates (player positions).

~ ~ ~

Outside of gaming: Got outside this morning to do severe pruning on our young fruit trees, which were wrecked by rabbits going after the bark during this harsh winter. My wife had put protective wraps on some of the saplings, but the snow got so deep that the rabbits had easy access above. We'll probably need to replace most of them next year. :-(

Winterpup has had a 6-8 hours stretch of sleep over most of the past week's nights. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this continues!
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11. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:35]
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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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 11Apr2015:

21/26/253 plays of 11/14/100 total games, with 2/2/16 expansions employed.
Plays with 11/12/70 distinct opponents.

0/0/16 games acquired (plus 0/0/7 expansions.)
0/0/4 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
1/1/9 games ordered (plus 0/0/3 expansions.) - Panic Lab.
Orders for 4 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With the Monday Lunch group:
1x _7_ ヴィラネックス (Vu~iranekkusu 'Villannex') - This is growing on me. Perhaps it's the generally positive reception it's getting; perhaps the fact that there's more here than I might have initially recognized (not remotely a surprise; I've failed to understand games before on first play, and I will again - even despite my best efforts.)
1x _6.7_ Municipium (61 months dusty) - This is lighter and fluffier than I'd remmbered; and that last play longer ago, too: it seemed (subjectively) more recent. Still, it's a rather nice lunch-weight game; and likely not a bad one for family, either - even if I've not tried it in that context.
1x _7.3_ RED New! - This is quite charming (as three-player perfect abstracts go.) It does require a lot more attention to the other players' various scoring opportunities than I had given it; I really wasn't thinking about it quite correctly. But the game is pretty - and charmingly direct and clear.

With the Wednesday Night Gang:
1x _7.3_ Africa (62 months dusty) - The first of a quartet of shorter games; this one over dinner. The exploration conceit and theme binding is mostly great (though the "relocating the nomads to a different area of Africa" made me wince a bit more than the last time I'd played. It seemed a bit tone-deaf. If thematically more sound than one might want to usually acknowledge.) When I didn't think about it too much, I found the game charmingly evocative of a certain colonialist romance. I'm a bit schizophrenic on this one, I think: I expect I like it more than I should.
1x _7.7_ Roll for the Galaxy - By request, as our second game. Paul and I tied at the end, and wondered idly what the tiebreaker was (dice in cup, as it happens; with money as second tiebreaker) only to discover that Tim had beat us both quite significantly. This is cute, and growing on me. Compared to Race, this is much easier to set up and get started playing - and easier too to put away when done. And while I might prefer playing the older title, the simplicity of setup here is quite attractive.
2x _7_ ヴィラネックス (Vu~iranekkusu 'Villannex') - (Adding son #2 - and at his recommendation and request.) The older guys loved it - and wanted to play again. So: sure; it may be trivial - but there's definitely something there.
1x _7_ Machi Koro (with Harbor Expansion) - (+n) (Again with son #2, and at his request.) This game was charmingly different than the vast majority of my previous plays. And, frankly, made me appreciate the game a bit more. Paul was well behind in the beginning of the game; significantly off the pace. But he came storming back to win (he'd managed to tune his tableau for lots of revenue on an 8 - and rolled three consecutive double-fours after getting the "take another turn on doubles" special building to build out and win. The vast majority of my previous games were ones where the leading player won going away: where an initial lead led to a seemingly-inevitable win. The possibility of a come-from-behind win is excellent.

With family:
1x _6.7_ Qwirkle - My mom is here visiting for a couple days - and this is one of her favourites. Son #2 was willing to play with us. It's a perfectly pleasant game; and one where I expect there's cleverer play possible than we normally demonstrate. And I'm happy to play; but it demonstrates adequacy to me, rather than excellence. Perhaps the fault is with me?
1x _7.3_ Abluxxen - Same folk. This was well-received and quite delightful. It's growing on me. I may never be as excited about it as SJ or Martin; but it's fun.
3x _7_ Machi Koro (with Harbor Expansion) - Two with mom and son #2; one adding daughter #1, too. While none of these were as dynamic as the Wednesday game, it was fun here to see how differently the game plays with 3 and 4 players. I'm getting a lot of play of this - more than I'd expected when I bought it - because it's become one of son #2's favourites.
1x _7_ ヴィラネックス (Vu~iranekkusu 'Villannex') - Son #2 wanted to inflict this on the four of us, too. And - again - it's received positively. That makes six new players this week - all of whom demonstrated a better initial response to it than I!
1x _7.3_ Ticket to Ride (with the 1910 goals) - Daughter #1 and I normally challenge my mom to Ticket to Ride: Switzerland - but son #2 wanted to play too. So we went with the USA map, and finished quite closely grouped. Any of us could easily have won, but daughter #1 took this one.
5x _7.3_ Yavalath - A best-of-five tournament with son #2. I managed (at least) to make it go to the fifth game; but he played (significantly) better than I did.

With cool GCL people online:
1x _8.5_ Brass: Lancashire - A dangerous result: I think I had a clue about this one - but am probably just delusional. Still, it was an entertaining ride. Still very glad this gang tolerates me!

Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+0/-0).

Outlook for the week: Lunch; Wednesday; Online Brass; Mom; Kids. Might even conscript lovely wife to play Big Boggle. Other than that? No idea. Though I'd be delighted to be surprised.
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12. Board Game: Beasty Bar [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1064] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
SJ S
United States
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 9   Bridge
 8  or  9  ?  Beasty Bar x2
 8   Show Manager
 6   Sleeping Queens x2
 7   Pandemic
 8   Candy Chaser x3

more Bridge at the Bridge Club last week. i’m so enjoying time at the club. i love being a student, and it seems that with Bridge there is always something to learn.

Beasty Bar is a really fun, quick game. i absolutely loved it. all players get 12 identical animal cards that are hopeful patrons to a trendy club. each animal has a unique ability (skipping a place in line, scaring off monkeys, etc) to aid them. the player with the most animals in the club wins. it sounds really silly (and it is) but it’s the kind of game where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. if i have one complaint, the card iconography for the animal abilities is not always clear. if i'm allowed a second complaint, a distinct lack of elephants.

Show Manager was also a lot of fun! i’m surprised this isn’t a more popular game. i like hand management games and this one does it well. i need to pay closer attention to both money, and the actions of my opponents next time!

Sean’s kids were with us this weekend and they wanted to play their favorite: Pandemic. we won quite easily, in fact it was the easiest game we’d ever played. it made me wonder if we did something wrong! Sean’s daughter then wanted to play Sleeping Queens “for old time’s sake”. when she was really young, this was her favorite. we also played 3 rounds of Candy Chaser, which Sean’s son thought was the bee’s knees. i love seeing their excitement for playing games!!

mb mbyour weekly moment of Elephant:mb mb
elephants sleep 3 to 4 hours a day. they need lots of awake time for chewing as they can eat up to 300 pounds of food a day. they can sleep standing up, but when they need deep sleep, they lay down. they can even snore and move their legs while dreaming like dogs do!!
sleeping elephants snore:
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13. Board Game: The Con Game [Average Rating:6.09 Unranked]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played at Djengis Con:

Alchemists x1
Black Fleet x1
Machi Koro x1
Orléans x2
Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise x2
Terra Mystica x1
Village x1

The Weekend in Review:

Friday: Our first board game Con - well, Con of anything really. V. picked me up at Uni and we took the ferry across to Zealand. Then drove for little over an hour and arrived at Lerbjergcentret and were greeted by people preparing dinner for the evening and others enjoying a sunny spring day.

Once we had unpacked and perused the bazaar for games on auction (which were to swell considerably once I unpacked my games) we were quickly pulled into a game of Machi Koro. I think most people here are familiar with it. Suffice to say, I was very poor at it, failing to diversify my holdings, whereas V. raced ahead and won the game - something that was to become a fairly regular feature of the Con on her part.

The game itself was quick and a great gateway into the whole event. I am sometimes a bit hesitant to approach people but here it seemed more natural, most likely because we all had one thing in common - our love of boardgames. Again, the game was fun but nothing neither V. nor I felt the need to own. It would also seem to be better at higher player counts anyway...

We began another game before dinner, but did not manage to finish it. Instead we settled in for soup (very, very spicy) and a welcome.

In advance we had signed up for different games. V. was to play Betrayal at House on the Hill after dinner and she enjoyed herself a lot. I had opted for a beginners game of Terra Mystica, playing as the Swarmlings. The rules took 45 minutes and then we set off. There was one person at our table (5 players total) who had played it once before so he offered some advice along the way.

It was an interesting game. I joined my 2 initial settlements for an early City, including a temple so I could get one of those bonus tiles. It gave me an extra 3 points when I built a trading station, which I did once per round with my special ability - my fort was quickly built to.

The only problem was that I then had difficulties getting out from there. I therefore had to upgrade my shipping options and found a way, hopping across the waters twice to continue my settlement. In the end that turned out well as I won for longest settlement, but there were some tense moments midway through the game.

In the final round I made a miscalculation and took another bonus tile that allowed me to create my 2nd city with just 6 points, however, I had not needed doing that and should instead have raced ahead on one of the other temple tracks which I eventually split with the winner.

I scored a respectable 100 points, 3 points off the winner. It is a game I am happy to have tried, so I have an idea what you all have been talking about before, but not one we need to own.

By the time we had finished V. was ready for bed. I sat down with 4 other people and played 2 rounds of Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise which turned out to be a fun game considering it is perhaps considered a game for kids. I can certainly vouch for the fact that people got into the spirit of the race.

After this I too hit the sack. Except, the beds were very short, so I could not rest on my back, and very hard so I had a very poor nights sleep.

Saturday: We began the day with an excellent breakfast to make up for the poor night we had. Then we sat down with another couple to try out Village. This is a game that has intrigued me for some time now, though I have never pulled the trigger, despite it being reasonably cheap from Germany.

A quick introduction was enough to get us going as V. and I had already watched the Rahdo Run Through at home. At first I was very pleased with it. I settled for a travel strategy, except before I got that up and running everyone else seemed to want to join in, without actually doing much travelling.

So, instead I focused on the market and the town hall. Unfortunately we played the latter wrong, so we paid time and cubes every time we activated it, even for just the rewards. We were playing with K. and T. and they had only played it once or twice before, so there were some rule look-ups.

I was playing a poor game I felt, but was having fun exploring. The game seemed to drag on and on and on though. Once we passed the 90 minutes mark I was beginning to tire of the game and it just would not stop. I had been quietly hoping we could play it twice before lunch.

Ultimately we finished the game early and calculated scoring as we had to clear the table for lunch - by then we had been playing for 2½ hours and the game is most certainly not worth that kind of investment.

So I felt like, ok, been there, done that, not again. Except I have been thinking about the game since (as I also had beforehand from time to time) and I think the concept of time, the fact your workers die and you get to tell their stories. A common thread for much of the gaming I enjoyed over the weekend was story-telling. It does not have to be a narrative, just small stories concerning individuals or actions you take.

"Oh, no, Olaf went to market and got trampled by a spooked horse. He will be missed."

"Corrupt clergy, never again will my family set foot in this church again."

So, V. and I are still thinking about it. She enjoyed it a great deal and I think we might get it at some point with the Village Inn expansion which seems to add a great deal to the game.

Lunch was just as good, perhaps even better than breakfast. We had no plans in the afternoon, but prior to the Con I had spotted someone arranging to play Orléans and asked if we could borrow their copy. This is a bag-building game set in Medieval France. I have been hooked on it ever since I saw the, yep, you guessed it, Rahdo Run Through.

So, we begin with a merchant on the map and 4 workers. These workers we can assign to get other workers in the guise of farmers, scholars, soldiers, fishermen etc. and so, over the course of the game you add workers to your bag, place them on various actions on your board and try to get the most gold by the end of the game.

On your board you can get various types of workers and you can travel by road or waterway and build trading stations. Another option would be to send them to do beneficial work, in essence, thin your deck for small rewards and ultimately a chance for a bigger bonus at the end. You can also create (I cannot remember the word) books to improve your knowledge. Along that specific track you get bonuses and end-game scoring multiplier. Aside from that your merchant can pick up goods, you can manufacture them yourself or you can pick them up when you advance up the farming track. Each worker type, except monks who are jokers, have a track with bonuses that you can advance and claim. There is a set number of workers and goods in each category, so you have to be aware of that when planning your strategy and making choices over the course of the game. Workers do come back, if you are hit by the plague event - otherwise not.

Our first game was a 4-player game which took 2-2½ hours. It was slow going at times as you tried to figure out what to do, what buildings to get (you can also get buildings, when getting specific workers). Plus, we had a sweet woman play with us who had an 8-month old girl who woke up in the middle of the game, so we had to pause for a while just then...

V. won the first game. The mother then left us and the 3 of us played a second game which lasted only 60 minutes. It was played at a very brisk pace. I managed to up my score in that game but still finished last. V. won again and she was very happy.

These plays confirmed my initial thoughts on the game as something we would love. V. was just as enthused as I. Now, I cannot really say what it is about the game, though I think a lot of it has to do with drawing your workers out of the bag, then figuring out ways to utilise them, which tracks to work and so on. The interplay with the buildings.

I am not sure if the novelty will wear off quick and it will start gathering dust. We almost went home and ordered it first thing, then cooled and decided to wait and see. The TMG version out at some point and maybe a 2nd edition from dlp games. There is an upgrade kit for the 1st edition, but include that and it is becoming an expensive game.

So, after a wonderful afternoon, we decided to relax for a bit. I sat outside in the sun with a book on Athens in the Age of Pericles and V. wanted to take a nap, but it turned out she was talked into a card game called Klunker...

We had outside catering for dinner and it was yummy. After dinner we were on clean-up detail, through good planning, so was the rest of the Black Fleet crew. One person bailed but we quickly seized another one and sat down for some swashbuckling fun.

It was all with a smile on our faces and trash talk all round. In the game you control a merchantman hoping to trade goods for gold and a pirate ship you hope can snatch wares from other merchantmen and hopefully stash them on a beach somewhere. Finally there are 2 navy vessels of which you each turn get to control one (sometimes both).

Your aim is to flip 5 development cards that give you various upgrades to your abilities and finally win the game by flipping the victory card worth 10 points (or 20 for a longer game).

It was a lot of fun, played in good spirits and with a smile on our faces. I won, which made it even sweeter. Unfortunately this will not be one we are playing with the kids - too much take-that.

Except, it does not feel that bad when you are playing, because on your next turn you are up and shooting down someone else.

After this game I sat down to read the rules for Deus while the others played Tajemnicze Domostwo. It was getting late and we were tired, so we went to bed.

Sunday: An awful night later and the final day at the Con. Breakfast was over quick and we proceeded to find someone scheduled to play Alchemists with us. This was V.'s most anticipated game of the show - ever since we had watched the Rahdo Run Through.

Unfortunately the guy who should teach us had been playing StarCraft: The Board Game till 4 in the morning so hadn't had time to read up on the rules. V. was so bummed. I said we would play it anyway, we found 2 others, one of whom had played it twice. She did a good job getting the show on the road and our runthrough had given us a general idea of the game.

It proved to be a lot of fun, though again, it might just have been the gimmick of the app telling you - once again - that you had tried out some awful potion on yourself and you had to spend the night in the infirmary.

V. won and was thrilled. I came last and was entertained. It is a game I could see us pick up at some point, though I think we might wait and see if someone tire of their copy first and it comes on the market for cheap.

That would prove to be the end of the gaming side of the Con for us. Left was to see if anyone had bid on our games and we sold 8 in total, so that was a decent haul.

We then packed our bags, had some leftovers for lunch, helped make the place look clean and headed for home.

On Monday we signed up for next year...

The Week Ahead:

Soo many plans this week, so I decided to skip class today on the basis of a poor nights sleep on top of only 8 hours over the 2 previous nights. Instead I did my homework for Wednesday and set up a new game we got over the weekend...

Probably not a lot gaming otherwise...
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14. Board Game: Brew Crafters [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:458]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_8_ Brew Crafters x2 New!
_8_ 1830: Railways & Robber Barons x1 New!
_6_ BraveRats x1 New!
_7_ Carcassonne x1
_7_ Eldritch Horror x1 New!

The Week in Review

Four "new to me" games this week leaving me pondering which one to use for the item header.


Brew Crafters was the first "new to me" played in the week. S and I played it twice - the first time incorrectly and the second time with still a few misunderstandings about the building upgrades so we didn't use some we might have.

Our first play was "meh". Our second play was much more interesting and even after it was over, I wondered about it. Unfortunately, we never got around to a third play to shore up my enthusiasm for the game.

Some of the things I liked about the game include:

Little or no randomness beyond the opening set up.

Money is tight. You only really need it to pay upkeep (à la Agricola) at the end of every Winter (fourth turn) and taking a loan to cover costs is expensive but not prohibitive. Because all beer no matter how fancy is only worth $2 a batch, it requires players to balance quality with quantity (in order to produce and sell enough beer to stay solvent). Fancier beers require more ingredients and give more VPs.

Specializing is good; ales with a hops infuser are worth more VPs and porters and stouts with oak barrels are worth more. But the first player to brew a new recipe gets three bonus VPs so if a player specializes in one stream, they may give up on those VPs.

So, all in all, it's a bit of a juggling act. And with no randomness, it allows for some strategizing from the outset.


R is a micro-card-game not unlike other card games from Seiji Kanai. Play a card, high card wins...unless one of the powers on the cards instructs otherwise. Unlike something like Love Letter, the two (and only two) players have identical starting hands from which they select one card simultaneously to play.

Needless to say, R is all about the meta-game. To play well, one has to get into the head of the opponent. So it's okay for a quick session, but I can't see myself playing it over an entire evening.


1830: Railways & Robber Barons is a game that I've been a bit intimidated to play. It's the classic 18xx game. It was first published in 1986, which was just when my board game days were in full decline so it never made it into my The Avalon Hill Game Co collection. In retrospect it's really too bad because it's a game that would have fit into the back-stabbing, double dealing that I was accustomed to back in those days with games like Kingmaker and Junta.

My apprehensions about playing 1830: Railways & Robber Barons were due to it's reputation of being an unforgiving game. The train rush is brutal can leave a company with no train and the president having to pick up the cost (which if it doesn't bankrupt the player may leave them crippled for the rest of the game). The stock market is three dimensional making it easy for players to trash each others' stock value. And the track tiles are limited making it easy to mess with other players on the board.

All that said, I really enjoyed Saturday's game. Unlike a lot of newer 18xx games, this one has a fairly lean set of rules. So one can concentrate on playing the game and not be bogged down by excessive overhead. At the same time, the game is unforgiving so it's not that fewer rules makes it easier to play well.


Carcassonne was S's request. And it was meaner than 1830: Railways & Robber Barons. At least it was at the outset. It got a little tamer once we'd locked some of our meeples in for the duration of the game so we couldn't take as many chances.


Eldritch Horror was a bust. Four of us failed to save the world from Azathoth. In fact, we failed to solve even two of the three mysteries of Azathoth before the world was annihilated.

In addition to P, S and I (all seasoned Arkham Horror players), we were joined by J. She was obviously jinxed for, although she caught on to the flow of the game*, her dice rolling was cursed as she couldn't roll a 5 or 6 even if her life depended on it.

Our fates were pretty much sealed when I drew an encounter that said open as many gates as you have spells...and I had four spells. After that, the Doom token pretty much raced down the Doom Track to zero and our obliteration.

I'm not convinced Eldritch Horror is a better game than Arkham Horror. Yes, it's more streamlined. But at the same time, it's less focused. Arkham Horror's objective is absolutely clear; close all the gates before the Doom track maxes out (or fight the Great Old One). Eldritch Horror's depends on the Mystery card requirements (which behave much more like the old Rumour cards which were an unwanted distraction from closing gates). And the fact that there are Rumour cards in this new game which behave like the Mystery cards leaves me feeling even more muddled and befuddled. More plays might clear things up, but right now I'd almost rather play Arkham Horror.


* Better than S who kept having to be reminded that during the encounter phase she could not do actions and during the action phase she could not draw encounter cards.


The Week Ahead

It's "staycation" week for S and I, but even with all our free time, I'm not sure how much gaming will be done. S thinks of it too much like work....

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 The Hobbit saga expansions for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: Over Hill and Under Hill and On the Doorstep.
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15. Board Game: Würfel Bohnanza [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1479]
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United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Würfel Bohnanza x8

The weather has turned nice here, we opened the window yesterday, and turned off the heat for most of yesterday and today. I have been weeding and cleaning up the yard at full tilt. There's an L shaped garden that goes along the driveway and road, a garden along the side of the deck, and a garden along the back half of the house, towards the shed. Plus, I've been making wooden planters to start a vegetable garden. I'm making them 4' x 2' x 12", so that it's easy for me to reach. I have 6" boards, so I make two frames, stack them, and secure them with verticals in the corners. I made the base with dried leaves, brown corrugated cardboard (mailing boxes with the tape/labels taken off), and newspaper, then topsoil. I planted two raspberry bushes (well, twigs) in the first one. I plan to put my chives in front of them (had the chives 15 years and 4 addresses).
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16. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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For the first time in ages managed a game of Agricola with S this evening. We had drafted a few previously and I had to remind myself of the planned strategy.

I had a taken 4 different improvements with the requisite of having no occupations. I figured I could concentrate on wood, reed, clay and housebuilding, jamming those minors, waiting until the second phase to start on the value occs of resource seller and wood deliveryman. Magic lantern (8 potential points) was the big draw with the minus of giving -points for each card in hand, I had a combo with another card that reduced building payments through discarding cards, a sure winner, or so I thought.

Unfortunately S punished my freeing up of the occupation space, dropping occupations every round so that on round 4 with her fourth, she was able to take start player and play the Animal Pen - (place 2 food on each remaining even round space). With 20 food over the course of the game this removed all food worries and prevented any plan to reduce her options by threatening starvation.

With the extra food, (and some strong occs) S was able to grow first, and then reach four family members while I was stuck on two. I caught up eventually with a double build but by that point I was lagging way behind.

I did manage to get 14 bonus points, but this was piffle in comparison to S's 24 - (in the last few turns S picked up a massive point boost via the occ that gives 3 points per room for renovating backwards to wood, and then re-renovated up to a stone house).

Final scores were me: 41 S: 59

Brutal.
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17. Board Game: Onward to Venus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1499]
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

_9_ Roll for the Galaxy 3
_8_ Peloponnes 1
_8_ Inca Empire 1
_7_ Edo 1
_7_ Super Motherload 1
_7_ Onward to Venus 1
_7_ Harbour 1
_7_ 7 Wonders 2
_6_ Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar 1

Week in Review

I enjoyed my first (3P) play of Onward to Venus, but it quickly slipped off the radar. I heard a podcast recently in which Stephen Buonocore compared it to Struggle of Empires. That really caught my attention! I don't remember SoE very well, having played it once and enjoyed it a lot. I was able to round up a 5P game at Sunday game day. I liked it but it produced a lot of sore feelings as some players seemed not to grok the way the game worked and arbitrary attacks made out of boredom caused tension. Too bad. I think it's a good, lighter game, but none of the six people I've taught seemed particularly high on it.

Peloponnes and Inca Empire were played on Wednesday with visiting BennyD. Inca Empire was 3P, which is somewhat less ideal than 4P, but it also seemed to be underwhelming for Ben and my friend Aaron. I still like it, but I enjoy surfing the randomness of cards in games and they both found that element overly capricious.

Not too much else to report. I did order a copy of Sticheln. I'm not big on trick taking games and the one time I played this I found it interesting but not that intriguing. However, I like to return to the well from time to time to see if I'm missing something. This is the most promising of the various card games I've played in the last 6 years so we'll see how it goes on my second effort. Sorry, SJ, I'm not going for Abluxxen.

I also got the expansion for Merchants & Marauders. Don't ask me why since I haven't gotten this game played in 4 or 5 years. But I like the game and I failed my willpower check, so now I have it.
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18. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:35]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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-8- Battlestar Galactica
-8- Brass
-8- The Castles of Burgundy (+New Player Boards; 2nd Expansion)
-8- Fauna
-8- Gulo Gulo
-7- 6 Nimmt!
-7- Identik
-7- The Magic Labyrinth (x2)
-7- Ticket to Ride (+USA 1910)
-7- Zicke Zacke Hühnerkacke (+Zicke Zacke Entenkacke)
-6.5- Loony Quest
-6- GeistesBlitz 2.0
-5- Rat-a-Tat Cat (x2)
-5- Suspend
N/A Start Player (x2)

It was Easter holidays so lots of these games were played with children (friends and relatives rather than just ones we found wandering the streets). Identik was particularly well-received, although the youngest nephew had to be repeatedly prevented from erasing parts of his opponents' drawings during scoring. At least when he cheats he does it blatantly! Loony Quest was a spatial awareness step too far for him but he enjoyed himself regardless. He got his own back by beating me soundly at Suspend, where his nimble fingers gave him the advantage.

At a midweek gaming evening, Mike requested Brass, which he'd never played. It was a long and slow game but more because of me and Kate trying to remember how to play – Mike was happy to play quickly and see what happened. He and I concentrated on ports, Kate and Phil went for cotton mills. But Kate tanked the Distant Market early in the Rail Age, leaving mills looking like a less attractive option. I still hoped someone would build them and put out all my ports in readiness. They paid off eventually, which was lucky as I didn't have many other good options. I spent most of my time building railways and raked in lots of points that way. I was surprised to win the game – Phil must have been going easy on us to encourage future plays. laugh

It's been a long time since I played Battlestar Galactica without any of the expansions but I rather liked dialling back to basics. The last few plays have been quite a confusing jumble of modules. It was nice being able to rely on drawing particular action cards instead of the decks being diluted by the expansions. Although there wasn't a lot of paranoia, just about everyone spent some time in the Brig. The game was very close, with the Humans needing one more jump icon to be able to FTL their way home. They didn't make it, though, as one cunning Cylon player had held onto his Super Crisis card for the right moment and sent a nuke at the Galactica. Having drained our hands on previous checks, we couldn't stop this one from taking our last remaining point of Fuel.
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