My 2015 Gathering Highlights: Eclipses in 1714, 1834, 1846, etc.
Joe J. Rushanan
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Massachusetts
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I played many long games (perhaps a slight rebellion against the amuse bouche craze), and not all of them started with the digits "18". There were also some shorter, newer, excellent games (but still not that short).

A shout out to all the great people that I got to play with, and regrets to all those great people that I didn't. Thanks, Alan.
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1. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:60]
Joe J. Rushanan
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We have been playing a lot of RoftG in all of my game groups, so it was fitting that my first enjoyable game (after a disappointing Water Walker) was a play with Jeroen and Bianca. I won the tie breaker, which set off my happy dance since I could check off the "beat Jeroen in something" goal for the week. Little did I know that such gloating hubris would come back to haunt me in three 18xx games.
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2. Board Game: 18Dixie [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Joe J. Rushanan
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My first 18xx, with Ken G., Bob D., and Jim McD, and my first play of this game. The system has 13 minors that become shares in major companies. I liked this approach: it meant there was a lot of track development, while removing having to do mergers, etc.

I saw an opportunity to steal a company from Bob and did so, which in retrospect hurt both of our positions. Sorry, Bob. Jim won handily.
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3. Board Game: 1714: The Case of the Catalans [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:3101]
Joe J. Rushanan
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One of my two favorite new games of the week. It is a "weuro", wargame euro, which is rapidly becoming a preferred genre. This game is best with five, and I was fortunate to play twice with that number. Thanks to Steffan for bringing and teaching the game.

The first game had me, Steffan, Ben McJ, Eric B., and Ron K. I was Austria and realized quickly that I needed to grab all of Italy to win. Steffan as Savoy repeatedly hindered me, which evidently was the right thing since he won. But in the "shoulda-coulda" category, I want to state for the record that if I hadn't been so deeply in debt and taken resources when I should have, I would have won (yadda, yadda, yadda).

The second game had me, Steffan, Ed B., Geoff S., Brian B. I played Portugal mainly because Ron K. complained about Portugal's fate in the first game. Portugal is hard to play, since they really want to play in the Med, and yet no one knows how to build boats until mid-game. But a last minute uncontested walk into Madrid sealed my victory, even with Geoff doing a better job with Austria in Italy than I had before.

I found this game charming and enjoyable. It captures history while still being low complexity. I look forward to owning and playing this again.
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4. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:534]
Joe J. Rushanan
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[Hmm, I see this is the 10th anniversary of 1846. Maybe I should play it 10 times this year, but then it seems a shame to play it so little.]

Eric describes our game with Tucker and Alan S. I'll only add that I was pleased that starting the IC so low worked out well. The initial par price is one of the most important decisions in the game, and I make that choice incorrectly too much of the time.
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5. Board Game: Sails of Glory [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:1286] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Eric B. describes our game with Geoff and Steffan really well, including my joy in defeat since the French won. For the record, I actually had a plan for sailing my ship directly in between Geoff and Eric; I just did not anticipate them turning the way they did. Breaking the line turned to breaking moi.
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6. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition [Average Rating:8.18 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.18 Unranked]
Joe J. Rushanan
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I played this new expansion to RoftG twice. It is excellent, a fine addition to the game without adding any undo complexity. Eagerly awaited.
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7. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:534]
Joe J. Rushanan
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My second 1846 game, with Ken, Brian, Tucker, Bob. A good game, where Ken's early lead was almost surpassed by Brian in the end (losing by $50). I love playing with people I do not normally play with, if for no other reason then track can end up being bizarre. Yes, I am talking to you, Mr. Bankler.
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8. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:32]
Joe J. Rushanan
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I played Eclipse three times. Three. Amazing. This first game was with Geoff, Brian, and David S. My borg (mechanema) eked out a win (over the Hydran, Magellan, and human). From there, my Eclipse play could only go down, and did.

Here is the board near the end, with my borg getting inconsequentially picked on while the Hydran (Geoff) masses in the center.

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9. Board Game: 18Ruhr [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:6876]
Joe J. Rushanan
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I really like 18Ruhr, but I really, really do not understand it. I played with Eric, Tucker, Mark G., and Jeroen (who only impeded me twice, I think). My problem is with the montan companies, the non-railroad companies that compete with the railroads for resources, while complementing there track needs. I never run them well, while everyone else seems to use theirs like well-oiled (coal and steel) machines.

The game rewards knowing what your are doing. I came in fifth, with Mark and Jeroen close for the win. As in 4653 to 4652. A difference of 1. Wow. Nice job, Mark.
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10. Board Game: Black Cross / Blue Sky [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:6320]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Jeroen picked this game up in a trade, and I offered to play it if he wanted to give it a try. The game is miniatures on a hex grid, where the planes are on stands that show maneuver choice and (physically) elevation. Hexes are 100 feet across. Altitude is in 24 levels of 500 feet per level. A turn is 1.7 seconds (I joked we should play real time).

We played a small scenario: my 9 Junker bombers against his 3 Hurricanes:



The scenario simulated the initial volleys of the Battle of Britain, where historically the British sent the Germans home packing. Things went differently in our game. The Hurricanes are much more maneuverable than the Junkers, while the latter maintain, by rule, formation integrity. Thus, when Jeroen got behind me (right after that picture was taken), it was unfortunate for him to discover that I had rear-facing guns. We Germans then continued over the Dover Cliffs as if hardly anything happened.

I like the game, and would play it if someone else has it.
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11. Board Game: Quartermaster General [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:699]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
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My other favorite new game of the week, and another weuro. This game combines a WWII strategic theme with a constrained hand management mechanism and simple board elements. All in just over an hour. I played twice with six players in each game.

The first game had the kind of epic ending that makes one literally go out and buy the game (it was waiting for me when I got home). Joe H. (Italy), Larry L. (Germany) and Brian (Japan) played against Steffan (Britain), Lou W. (US) and me as the Russians. The Axis owned the Allies throughout the game, scoring tons more VPs. On the penultimate turn, I decided to take the Balkans to do something with the Russians, and then on the last turn destroyed the remaining Italian and German armies in Rome and Berlin (out of spite, for no other reason). Lou, in the last turn of the game, redeployed US armies to Rome and Berlin. None of us knew that that was an alternate victory, and thus we won. Semper Fi to the Marines.

In the second game, it was Eric (Russia), Jeroen (US) and Joe H. (Britain) against Jim McD. (Italy), Ian M. (Germany) and me (Japan). In this game, the Axis again owned the Allies, almost lapping them in points. And that is how it ended, since there was no come from behind this time, despite the US trying to get to Germany via Finland.
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12. Board Game: 1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:2356]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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I played a lot of 1862 last year, but not so much recently, which is too bad, since this is my second favorite 18xx. I played a three-player game with Joe H. and Tucker. The game was very symmetric; at one point we each had a single company: the ECR, ENR, and EUR. I managed to hold more of the good shares through the various mergers and finished easily in the lead.
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13. Board Game: Desperado [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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Steffan ran this Western miniatures game with about 10 of us. It was chaotic, fun, bloody, and visually pleasant, exactly what I had hoped for. My brief existence in the game:

Searching the Assay office and finding nothing, I hear something and opened the door. There is Sheila with a rifle, preparing to shoot. So I fire twice with my right hand gun, wounding her with my first bullet, and them my gun blows up in my hand (double zero, I mean, really?), half killing me. I am still able to empty my left hand gun into Sheila before she can shoot, but she refuses to die. She then shoots me in the groin, finishing me off. Women.
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14. Board Game: Food Chain Magnate [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:28]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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I playtested this new Splotter game with Jeroen, Gil H., Alan S., and Ian M. We played a simplified game, which allowed me to try something that was slow to develop and then ramped up. Too bad the ramp wasn't fast enough.

I liked this: built in variability coupled with some interesting paths to success. Will hopefully get it.
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15. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:27]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
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I played the revised set with Geoff and David S. Great tweaks, and probably a must buy for me even though I have an original set. Geoff won, as usual. Need to play more often.
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16. Board Game: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:1344]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Eric had the expansion with the new trains and arranged a game with me, Tucker, and Jeroen. Eric won in an impressive comeback, while Jeroen only managed to hinder me a few times.

I used to be lukewarm to 1860, having actually sold my first copy (gasp!) and then buying a second. But this game, especially with the trains, grabbed my interest such that I hope to play it much more.
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17. Board Game: Clash of Cultures [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:210]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Tucker wanted to learn Clash, and I was able to convince Scott H. into a game. Despite it being Tucker's first game, we played with the expansion: Tucker as Japan, Scott as China, and me as Rome. Scores were very close with Tucker and I at 46 (I won on the second tie breaker) and Scott at 40.5. We all agreed that Rome is probably too powerful (all of their new advances are useful). Not a problem for me, since I am trying to play all of the civilizations at least once, and so I don't expect to play Rome again for a while.
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18. Board Game: 1834 [Average Rating:7.48 Unranked]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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I played a five-player game with Eric, Jeroen, Tucker, and Jim McD. I had not played with five before, and the game is much tighter both in track and money besides being way more interactive. I barely managed to stay afloat, which was good enough to watch Eric and Jeroen be in the lead when we called it after several hours. [Jeroen only hindered me a few times this game.]

I suspect that if this game is ever published and I get to play it more, it will rise to be one of my favorites, in no small part because the geography is personally pertinent.
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19. Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:555]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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One of those amuse bouche that is tasty every time. Six of us (me, Joe H., Jacqui B., Larry C., Tucker, and Jeroen) played on Scott F.'s pimped out set. Here is a picture. Sorry it is blurry, but hey, it was underwater. [As for the game, it went as usual. Most drowned. Jacqui won.]


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20. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:32]
Joe J. Rushanan
United States
Bedford
Massachusetts
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Eclipse number two. Played with Lou, Brian, and introduced David G. David caught on quick as the borg and easily beat the three of us.
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21. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:375]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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Jeff G. wanted to learn this, and we got a game with Nick W., Tucker, and Jim McD. I like this game a lot, but don't play often enough ever to remember how to play (that seemed to be the case with everyone else).

Still, we got going ok, and the game ended up being pretty short when Jeff won on the first topple card (he had way more revolution points than the rest of us). Now that I understand things a little better, I hope to get this to the table again soon.
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22. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:32]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
Massachusetts
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My final game of the Gathering and my third Eclipse. This was memorable because our five player game (with Geoff, Lou, David G., and Terrence T.) got to play with the ships painted by TauCeti that Terrence grabbed off the prize table. Here is an early picture showing all the ships:



My pirates were crushed in this game. Lou won, because Geoff forgot to take monoliths (another shoulda-coulda). My last ship, with no where to run, no where to hide:

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23. Board Game: But Wait, There's More! [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:2626] [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Bedford
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No, I did not get to play this, though I got to chat with Ed B. about it and will likely pick it up.

Here are the other games I played

Water Walker (Jeroen and Bianca) My bouche was not amused

Elysium (Craig M., Dale Y., Ben McJ.) Liked well enough, reminds me of Deus.

TauCeti's Prototype (Alvin C., TauCeti, Doug H.) It uses a mechanism I don't usually enjoy, but this game does it well and the asymmetry is quite nice.

Favor of the Pharaoh (Played twice: Geoff, Scott F., and Brian; Tucker and Rob R.) Really liked this and will buy it.

Dungeon Raiders (Brett M., Tucker, Kevin Wi., Kevin Wo.) An ok filler.

Baseball Highlights: 2045 (Brian) I've been meaning to try it to see if I should own it. The answer is yes, thanks to Brian.

Pandánte (Brian, Geoff, David S.) This would be a hit with my son and his friends, so I may seek it out. Likely would not be a hit with any of my groups.

Ciúb (Jeroen, David S., Geoff) Very cool, and makes me want to get it partly because I want to think about it more.

The Resistance: Avalon (twice, with John C., Gina D. , Scott F., Jeroen, and Bianca). I like these kinds of games, but my evident transparency will mean I am never good at them. Evil lost both games, and I was evil, but not evil enough.

Think Str8! (Dan B. and Wei-Hwa) A cute enough deduction game, which would have been better with fewer rounds.

Viceroy (David S., Tucker) Very cool tile mechanism, but as is so often the case, I was unimpressed by what one then had to do to win.

Joe H.'s prototype "Up with which I will not put" (Joe H., Jeroen, Kristin M., Tucker, Eric B.) One of my favorite of Joe's games, and I think this has the potential to be popular. Even if I can't get Eric the actuary to guess "per".

The Voyages of Marco Polo (Joe H., Geoff, David S.) One of the hits of the week. I liked it well enough, even when crushed by three experienced players. The asymmetry is fantastic (Geoff: "every character is broken and unbalanced"). I suspect that I will like it as my understanding grows.

Nations: The Dice Game (Walter H., Ed B., Jeff G.) The game is ok (though I like it better than Nations), and for me has balance problems. But it is fast enough and I like what it is trying to do. This last example serves to illustrate a common thread: non-excellent games can be overlooked when the company is great.


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24. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:212]
Joe J. Rushanan
United States
Bedford
Massachusetts
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My goal to leave the week with more games than I came with was absurdly trivially accomplished (thanks to Ron Charity and the flea market):

Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648, Revolution, The Battle of Five Armies, Merchants & Marauders: Seas of Glory, Serpents of the Seas, Prophecy: Water Realm, Twin Tin Bots, Tragedy Looper, 6-Tage Rennen, Rush n' Crush, Patchistory, Sentinels of the Multiverse (with many expansions), Quartermaster General, Hearts of AttrAction, Plunder

My prize table pick was Dark Darker Darkest. My prize table donation was Tajemnicze Domostwo (actually Il Sesto Senso), which ended up being a very early choice.
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25. Board Game: King's Breakfast [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:2624]
Joe J. Rushanan
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Our traditional Bob Evans outings are at 7:50 AM. We had some subset of the same 7 people over the week, though never all seven. We were able to achieve our "everyone gets a unique drink without discussion" goal each day until Brian messed up by ordering OJ. I did my usual something different every day until the last day's winner. This year it was pot roast hash.

We went to Grover's again this year, since there was sufficient interest. Three-quarter pound hamburgers. Yum. Makes getting up to exercise pre-Bob Evans worth it.
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