A Geek Chat League is a weekly discussion-group format for people who love gaming and enjoy talking about games. It is intended to foster depth and familiarity, producing engaging content and worthwhile interaction. Members get to know one another, establish shared interests, and generally develop a friendly and productive environment.
Of necessity, each division of GCL is kept relatively small (typically between 12-16 members, though individual divisions may incline one way or the other). A tight-knit discussion group tends to function more smoothly than a free-for-all. It allows individuals to be heard and understood, and for each participant to keep up and enjoy multiple topics as the week progresses. The format is geeklist-based, and lists are not published to the BGG front page.
Policy: If you're a lurker or have otherwise discovered GCL Gelato, feel free to read along with us and see what the members have to say on everything under the sun. If you have a constructive comment or something else you think would add to the discussion, consider posting it — if it's helpful, respectful, and polite to the discussion group as a whole, as well as to its individual members.
leroy 43 (Roger)
the rest of the pack:
ad79 (Stig) alex352 (Alex) cmontgo2 (Chris) ***time to get ready for next week*** Cole Wehrle (Cole) cscottk (Skippen) eapeas (Edward & Amanda) Farsol (Patrick) leroy43 (Roger) Jacovis (Jacob) jtakagi (Jonathan) Lil Red Head (Nikki) Neil Thomson (Neil) oeolycus (Dan) PzVIE (Ron) tommynomad (T. Nomad) wifwendell (Wendell) wizardless (Mark)
Games handle tempo in different ways. Let's first start about a distinct minority. Games that force a specific tempo on the players. I can't think of too many but one that immediately comes to mind is Space Alert. Here, an audio track dictates the timing for a significant part of the game. Another, less fancy way to achieve this same result is using a timer. Think chess or Space Hulk. Where do you stand on these design ideas? Do you feel that the decision to include a timer in the design requires a thematic justification?
There are other mechanics that influence tempo, often indirectly. Perfect information is one of them. The posterchild of a game that breaks down during the last turn because of perfect information is Chinatown. The exact benefits of each and every single trade and how they will count towards the final VP-count can be calculated by the players. You could of course ignore this and just keep up the tempo from previous turns but that would be a bad strategy. Another example is 1775:Rebellion. The final turn is just slooooowwwwww. I find that when faced with the decision to either do the math, calculate the exact benefits of my options or instead speed up a bit and risk playing sub-optimally, I'm very much drawn to the latter. What are your thoughts on this?
Another way to influence tempo in games is the result of turn-design. At the most basic level, there's "you-go-I-go" vs "integrated turns". I feel like integrated turns yield the greatest benefits in games with high player counts. Then there's hybrids, think Twilight Imperium. Like most role-selection based games, it does not really use integrated turns as much as flexible turn order. Negotiation games by their very nature come with a high level on turn integration. Pure you-go-I-go games seem to be the exception nowadays, at least in games that are heavy in player interaction. CDGs, where each turn is broken up in a number of alternating actions, also seem to represent a variation of the integrated turns mechanic. As I'm not playing as many games as I used to and also stopped playing many new games, I'm not sure what the latest trend in turn design is but I suppose a high level of integration is not going to fall out of grace anytime soon. Where do you stand on integration vs distinct turns? Is pure you-go-I-go antiquated? Do you enjoy being constantly challenged by a game or do you prefer games that allow you to sit back and drift off once in a while?
Life is dictated by many factors that are beyond our personal control. Work, family commitments, etc. Vacations are our chance to take a break, change the tempo of our everyday life, if you will. How do you approach vacation planning? Do you plan all of your travels early on or do you like to do it spontaneously? Do you like to go on vacations where you relax and slow life down or do you prefer highly active vacations (lots of traveling, sports, etc.)?
This past week, these interesting things happened in my games and my life:
1 --->Solitaire Gaming / Miniatures Painting.
(a) Crossfire Miniatures Painting. German units figures are done and based. Bases are mostly painted and flocking is mainly the last thing to do. It still could take a few weeks as busy as I have been. I was wrong about photos this week, possibly photos in the next 2-3 weeks.
(b) Next Steps. I still intend to move on to the Americans, next. Then terrain. My date for completion is way, way, off (as usual). I am now thinking an end-of-May completion (for U.S. troops) and June (for terrain). Then I will tackle another project . . . which will probably be BattleLore at this time. But whenever my Star Wars: Armada set arrives (end of April or early May?), I will be taking a hiatus to paint the TIE and X-Wing squadrons - which is easily two-nights or more worth of work if I work very diligently . . . and you know by now that that is not my modus operandi.
2 --->Family. I think my son is good to go with the potty. We still diaper him at night, but he doesn't usually use it. He goes all day without a diaper, though he still needs help getting clean after a number two (that will take a while!). The next step for us is getting him able to use the bathroom at night, but we aren't going to push it right now. We are really proud of our guy. Stella's birthday party was yesterday (actual birthday this coming week) - and the friends and family are always good to get together. Unfortunately for her, her actual birthday will be a doctor's appointment where she will get 4 shots! Vaccines and such. But poor girl. The party was a short and sweet affair only lasting a couple of hours, but now my wife and I can focus on our Memorial Day Weekend cookout slated for the end of May.
3 --->On-Going PBEM Game Notes.1830: The Coalfields continues. I always get frustrated mid-way through an 18XX game because I can't "read" my opponents face to face. I think our group has played enough PBEM games together that we are starting to understand each other's styles of play, but it is still difficult. That, and of course, I usually just play impulsively, which is a *horrible* way to play 18XX. I *think* I play better now than I did 2-3 games ago, but I can't tell. I am thinking the 5s might come out in the next OR still, but we will see. Then again, I'm not good enough to predict when the 5s are due. Space Empires 4X has been slow this week, too - Alex and Stig are throwing hay-makers this week as they slug it out in a Battle Royale. Stig's titans versus Alex's fighters. Who will win? We shall see. I think it all comes down to the dice. In The Great Invasion Judd continues to wait. I've pretty much been too busy to actually want to sit down and do my GCACW turns (and this game).
4 --->Atlanta is Ours!Yet *another* laggard week! This section remains unchanged: Carsten was finally forced off the hex he was defending, but has essentially made a Union victory (for me) a near impossibility. A run of extremely good luck can pull off the win, though. We will see. I always have fun against Carsten because I feel that he and I are at comparable skill levels, which makes the game interesting without being frustrating. Scott and I had some movement in our game in which his Union corps vaped my cavalry . . . I mainly stayed put to let him run through the combat sequence, which was very clearly unfavorable to me by orders of magnitude. He finally is knocking on the doors of Resaca and I am hoping for Hood to show up! Patrick and I are well-into Turn 2 of our scenario. Union Corps leader Hooker has proven to be useless in this scenario - all his attacks have failed. My early successes have been reversed. On the crucial rolls, the Union just can't win. We will continue to see if I am able to get a little lucky in what remains of our game. It is not lost, yet.
5 ---> Star Wars: Armada. I continue to be enamored with this game . . . and I keep kicking myself that I preordered the Core Set and the Wave 1 on the same order. It won't ship until Wave 1 is released! Argh! It's okay, I'll be fine.
6 --->Forbidden Stars. This is another game I hope to enjoy. The game has been described as a more streamlined and cleaned up Star Craft, which is awesome. And the preliminary artwork calls it a "Core Set". I like this FFG trend of cleaning up and/or improving and/or upgrading/redesigning older game designs, such as this one. Or BattleLore to BL2E, Arkham Horror to Eldritch Horror, Star Wars X-Wing to Star Wars: Armada, and I think there are more.
7 --->Waterloo 200. I like what I am seeing with this game, and I think I'm a candidate to buy it, despite not being that much into Napoleonic-era games. I will continue to follow it, though!
8 --->Mayoral Election. Our candidate lost the election and we have a new mayor. We will have to work from the negotiating position of having lost the election, but the incoming mayor's council seat was won by the out-going mayor's pick for that seat. So the votes on the council did not change at all. The new mayor will no-doubt shake things up with appointments and such. I wish him the best in the new office, despite not being my pick. After the election loss, our union elections will follow. There is a small cadre of challengers to the union's current administration which has been rumored to have been picked/urged to run by the policeman's union, who supported the current mayor-elect. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
9 --->Third Baby. The baby has started kicking. A little bit. All is well.
N/ADeus - Starting to understand a little better, would like to play more N/APokémon Trading Card Game - My kids are really into the cards, but don't actually play the game. I read the rules and taught my oldest son. I'm not sure how much of a game is there, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. 9Brass 7Träxx - Shameless attempt to make a series out of Qwixx. I predict the next game will be called Stoxx. This was better than I thought it would be, an interesting challenge, and something different than most "Take It Easy" type games, but I'm not sure there's enough variability in there for the long term 6Stichling - Yet another trick taking game with a twist. I'm not sure what it takes to catapult out of this rather large lump of games, but this is not really that great of a game. 8Hansa Teutonica: Britannia - One of the better expansions I've played in the past couple years. This mixes up the game, gives both added restrictions and added paths to victory. A nice surprise. 6Black Fleet - Probably one of the more thematic pirate games I've played, even though its rules are among the simplest. Still, random cards make this mainly just a family affair. This isn't a bad thing, but the randomness is high enough that unless the play time comes down, I wouldn't be looking to play this very often. N/ATimeline: Discoveries 10Nertz x2 9Agricola - Already up to 7 plays this year. Looks like it won't be too long before this becomes one of the few games I have played 100 times.
Last Thursday's board game session ended up being almost the only thing I played last week, although it looks like we'll be continuing our adventures in the sewers of Redpoint tonight after music practice.
My friend Will picked it up and after some brief explanations of how things worked, we were on our way. I don't know what kind of scenario we were playing (or if there even are scenarios), but I liked the discovery of systems, upgrading your pilot, buying and selling goods, and the dice mechanism for moving.
I'll cut to the chase - we played 25 turns, and I won with 2300.
I liked this game quite a bit. It made me think of Xia: Legends of a Drift System, which has a fair amount of similarities, which I've played a couple of times. I like MoV better on the whole. I definitely want to play it again, but I suspect it won't hit the table very often since it only plays 4 and our Thursday group is seldom that low.
One of the nice things about my new work schedule is that I now work 8-4 instead of 9-5, meaning that my wife and I have been able to resume our Friday after school board game at the pub near the Kelda's art school. We squeezed in a game of Roll Through the Ages that I managed to win despite earning 14 points in penalties. I thought for sure she was going to clean my clock.
This past week (through date of posting), these games continued: 1989, Thunder Alley, Sewers of Redpoint
This past week, these interesting things happened in my games and my life: I'd like to say lots of interesting things have happened, but other than settling into a nice routine at my current job, there isn't much of import to report.
I'm sure I'll remember something five minutes after I put this up.
The Hunters and Imperial Assault for the win...the rest were good if simple enough fair.
Non-Gaming Related News
Saw 2 games of AFL Football in the last week of mu holidays. Saw the Hawks take on the Cats on Easter Monday and my Bulldogs take on the Tigers 6 days later.
Both games had crowds of 83,000 and 47,000 respectively and were good entertainment.
Locked in a painting commission for the first wave of Imperial Assault miniatures. Will come to almost $1,000 but worth it for the amount of play this game will get. They can't start the job until June though due to demand.
Other than that...not a lot. Back at work today and slowly getting into the swing of things...
Andrea and I had a quick game of Eldritch Horror on Monday – we choose Yot-Sothoth as our adversary and it was an extremely close game – we played to the last possible round and turn and it all depended on the last die roll – three dice and we needed only one success! Andrea made it and we won! I love it when games are that close!
On Friday we tried out a game from Essen 14 which I haven’t played yet: Imperial Settlers. As it uses the core mechanism from 51st State (a game that has been received very well by the community), I was really eager to try it out. But in the end, it came down to a resource/building/administration game – not bad, but nothing that impressed me much. I fear that it will end like many other games: as a dust collector.
Two games of Russian Railroads followed. A very good worker placement Euro with a theme I really like. I guess “9” is overrated, but as Lonny is one of the designers, I helped him a little to climb the ladder into the top games of BGG. Otherwise, I’d rate it a “7”.
The evening ended with Feudality – one of these games that I’m willing to play all the time and everywhere. Tom Wham’s best design so far. I hope for more to come!
On Saturday Arno, one of my wargaming buddies, visited and we started to play through the Combat Commander: Battle Pack #2 – Stalingrad expansion. We also decided to use the new rules for Personal Leaders from the latest C3i Magazine. After 3 scenarios, we abandoned them. We agreed that it’s not worth the additional paperwork to maintain his records. We found the rules a little frustrating, as my leader broke two times and ended up with negative Elan points, while Arno’s successfully got a promotion but was then broken by fire and subsequently killed by a sniper in the 3rd scenario. But apart from that, the four scenarios went great as always – two wins and two losses and tons of fun and trash talk! Very enjoyable. To be continued.
Andrea and I got the results of an overall blood test and – hooray – we’re both well and healthy. I have to admit I was a little unsecure when about this thing … you hear so many stories about friends and people you know and all the illnesses they gather … hearing that all is in the green is really a relief.
As the weather was simply great this weekend (temperature climbed to 20°C/68°F), I fired up the grill and we interrupted Saturday’s Combat Commander: Europe playings for some wonderful pork chops with taters, and on Sunday, I BBQ'd some smoked pork neck! Yummy yummy ymummy! Summertime’s near! I smelled it! The birds start to gather building material for their nests and bees and bumble-bees try to outrun themselves for the first blossoms! I’m looking forward playing games with Andrea on the patio again.
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
x1 Founding Fathers x1 Brass x1 Age of Industry x1 Divinare x1 Too Many Cinderellas x1 Johari x1 Indian Chief x1 Clans x1 Patchwork
The vast majority of these plays are from yesterday, which a couple of no shows turned a medium or heavy game night into something lighter. Still, it was wonderful to play so many new games. Patchwork was a particular highlight, though we messed up on a major rule. Too Many Cinderella's was an intriguing bit of Japanese madness. Johari fell a little flat. Indian Chief was a remarkably interesting riff on Yahtzee. It seems interesting, but the two player game feels loose. I'd be willing to try it again though. Divinare and Clans were characteristically wonderful.
After our guest left, Cati and I played a two player game of Age of Industry on the Great Lakes map. It's a really solid fan-made expansion and I think well worth owning. We only have a shoddy print out, but I've been meaning to buy the actual board for some time now.
The highlight of the week was a game of Brass which I played with some other BGG friends on another GCL. I got a sound thrashing but the game reminded me how much I enjoy Brass. After the game we opted to start a second one and we've already made it about half way through, I'm looking forward to finishing it up---though I doubt I will do much better this round. I still think AoI may be the better, more subtle game. But I love the loan/income system and the canal era of Brass so much. There's a great strategic dimension to the game.
In other news, the worst of the semester has now passed. I survived last week and all of its chaos and conferences. From here to the end my only priority is to cobble together this chapter draft. We'll see how it goes this week. We're also trying to get the house and order and I'm prepping a rather large game auction/giveaway. I don't know if I'll have time to formally set it up until May, but, if a window opens up, it could happen much earlier. I think I maybe getting rid of as much as a third of the collection--yikes.
Face 2 Face Games: Thunder Alley -- still hands down the best race game I have played. I will admit this last play reminded me that it can still be very random with the card draw, but still a great game. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game -- Still a big fan of this game.
On the nightstand (currently reading): Murder of Roger Aykroyd, by Agatha Christie
In the life and Times of skippen: This Thursday I am off to my annual Gathering of Fiends gameing weekend in Estes Park, CO, so lots of gaming this week (and eating and drinking). Worked on my entry for Reaper Con, but my slacking is starting to be a bad thing, and like all things, I realized I hadn't done my taxes yet, so I will do that this week.
Thunder Alley: Crew Chief Expansion - Coming soon to Kickstarter!
Evil lurks here!
7Star Realms x4 Played Shaun's solocampaign. Also a bunch of games on the app. Still prefer the physical copy. N/ADungeon Roll x2 ENjoyable enough short little game. N/AAfrikan tähti The only game I played on tabletopday and it was with my son and wife. N/ACITY Alarm Another game with my son. N/ACastles of Mad King Ludwig Tried this with Ingmar. Ok game, but probably better with more players. N/AMemoir '44 Me and Ingmar played Breakthrough to Gembloux. The scenario included with the nifty Memoir carrybag. I lost only 2 turns from exiting my required unit through the exit hex.
Got the c3i counters for No Retreat: North African Front from Chris. Pleasure doing business with you. And sold Navajo Wars. Just no will to get into it, so away it went.
Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
Last week I taught this cool little competitive puzzle/map-building game to some of the guys at the FLGS. It was a hit - hadn't played it in a long time.
Got my butt royally (hah) kicked in Warriors of God - my first ever auto-defeat. It was very sad.
What else - oh yeah my first play of God's Playground about 18th century Poland. A very cool 3-player game, interesting decisions and a fascinating topic. Appropriately, my narrow victory (56-54 VP vs 2nd place) came about when I exercised my liberum veto to remove all five blocks from the Sejm (parliament) space. That meant the King's Army could only be used once against the various invaders, who fortunately for me did the most damage in parts of Poland where my estates were well protected... Good for me, bad for Poland.
All my my gaming this week has been with my kids, and no game has shone brighter than Gloria Picktoria (effectively the same Alan Moon design). UP is responsible for one of my all-time most memorable gaming experiences, but I've only played it thrice since then and each has been lacklustre. My Gents' Group members didn't love it, so it's unlikely to get played anytime in the next five years. I think that's a safe criterion for parting with a game.
Speaking of lesser-known versions of great games, our other favourite lately is Razzia!. For the grownups it scratches our auction itch and leaves us hungry for more. With the kids we play without auctions, but the pictures are fun (Kidnomad is obsessed with the trinkets). and the theme is vastly superior to Ra's, which makes little if any sense at all.
We've also been puzzling Cathedral. I have the original wooden version, and my boys both love trying to get all the pieces placed within the board's borders.
1989: Dawn of Freedom PBEM features a fight with Roger over Romania, and (I think) a pending one with Wendell over Bulgaria. I am also hoping for some tablemates for a Gelato Cuba Libre.
In life, my stitches are out and I'll be off my crutches in a few days. We still have no home to move into but made an offer today. We really hope to stay in the neighbourhood, which is restricting our options a bit.
Oh, yeah. And I suddenly have a hankering for duck--roasted.
On Tuesday, Andy and I played a 2p introductory game of Caverna. He whomped me by picking up the two discount rooms. It looked like I was ahead at the midgame, but he accelerated to victory. I made note of that. Caverna seemed like an Agricola-killer for me. I know I’m late to the game—I usually am—and that people have differing opinions, but my first play reminded me of how much fun I had playing Agricola the first time, and not really the last few times. Caverna deals with Agricola’s flaw for me: the cards. Now, everyone has a chance at the wet nurse and I don’t have to spend part of my turn referring to my cards again and again.
We also played a 2p game of 1860, which looks very promising. We called it right before phase 5 since we were playing slowly and he had to run. I’ve played 1830, 18AL, and 1889, so I kept referring to the manual because I couldn’t believe you could own 100% of a company and/or sell 100% of it too! This was also the first time we really had to be our own bank. We had used the moderator in other games. I’m fortunate that Andy is so good at math because I am not. His estimation afterwards: “Well, I can’t describe that as fun.” He didn’t mean it was not enjoyable, but it was not lighthearted. I hope I’ll get more 18xx plays in soon.
On Saturday, I had 3 friends over for a planned game day. Very rare for me, sadly. We played Dead of Winter, Caverna, Sheriff of Nottingham, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Dead of Winter is not life-changing, but it makes other coops obsolete for me. I like the traitor mechanics and the gameplay is much less dull than Battlestar Galactica. That everyone has a secret objective, even if they’re not a traitor, is brilliant. In our second game, when I was the betrayer, someone’s selfishness cost the team the win. I had a brilliant coup, essentially committing suicide with one character to bring morale down to 0 (loss condition for them, win for me). That character HAD to die for my secret objective as well! We played an introductory game of Caverna since it was new to two and I won by a margin of 20 points. I filled my board, had the most points from animals, and had three ore mines with the bonus point room for ore. This is a must play for the rest of the year.
This was my second game of Sheriff. I won this and the last one, but the shine really fell off. I don’t think I have any interest in playing again. Not a lot of room for negotiation.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf was brilliant, as always.
PBEM Games Continued. 1830, 1830:C, Twilight Struggle, Thunder Alley.
Some sad news. My colleague and friend passed away from his fight with brain cancer this Monday. He was sharp, witty, and incredibly gracious to the end. He enhanced my life with every interaction and I will miss him without end. I’m so happy that I could be a part of his caregiving, but there are indelible marks on my memory of his decline in health. This is such a horrid disease. He was cut down in his prime, leaving behind two kids under five. He is at peace though, and I am at peace too, but deeply saddened.