GCL Meatballs 204 - Election time!
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Welcome to this week's discussion list for the Swedish Meatballs, a division of BGG's GameChat League. Only members are to add items (add your weekly games played), but civil comments from non-members are welcome.

Rotation:

lacxox
cymric
Jugular
bnordeng
ellephai
Hanibalicious
Osirus
smorange
Jythier
fateswanderer
sgosaric
Sorp222
AAArg_ink
chearns
qwertymartin

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On Thursday, the UK goes to the polls for our general election. It's the closest one I can remember! Here are a few election-related questions for your edification and delight.
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1. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:580]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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What are your favourite elections in board games, or board games with elections in them? Why?
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2. Board Game: Swedish Parliament 2014 [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:8093]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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How do elections work where you are? Do you always vote? Party loyalist or swing voter? Happy or dissatisfied with your options?
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3. Board Game: Cabinet Minister [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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You've just been voted in as President/Prime Minister of Board Games and you have to appoint your cabinet. Which designer will you put in charge of the economy? the military? transport? Any other posts you want to fill?
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4. Board Game: The Hustings [Average Rating:4.40 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Have you ever stood for election yourself? (Not necessarily politically)
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5. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:541]
chearns
Canada
Montréal
Québec
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As always, games listed in order of most fun had to least fun.

The Palaces of Carrara is my discovery of the week. I have a copy of the game in shrink, but I played it three times on BGA and it is awesome! I'm starting to question owning games that lack a meaningful variable set-up. They really seem to get my juices going in a way that other games don't.

Speaking of BGA, do meatballers ever play games online with each other?

I know people who don't like Kingdom Builder go on and on about how awesome the hermit is, but, its a rather dull scoring option simply because, compared to the merchants and each vertical line, it just can't generate enough points to compare. I lost the hermit five to four to two, but won the game thanks to my 36 points in merchants and my 20 points for vertical lines. I was helped enormously by being able to get the water power on the first turn.

I got off to a great start at three player Innovation, using Metallurgy and then Gunpowder to quickly achieve one, two, and three. However, while I was getting points, the others were building up their tech and doing some splaying, and I then found myself outranked on all six techs. And then they started stealing my points. Outranked and without points I dug and dug until I found my opening. They had lost some coin strength, enough so that I could use my Enterprise to steal my opponent's Bicycle (his only top non-purple coin card). They obviously had never witnessed the power of the Bicycle before as I drew a pair of eights, and then scored 46 points, giving me a lock on gaining two more achievements and the victory.

Now, what I wonder about this game is, for those who know it better, is the game always just find a hammer and use it, until someone finds a better hammer, at which point you either search until you find a better hammer yourself, or can neutralize theirs?

Even when you lose at Ra, you still win if two people are pushing for more and your chants of RA RA RA RA RA RA RA succeed at summoning him. The table playing City of Remnants had to look over to see what this odd cheerleader game was that we were playing.

While I was on BGA I also played a game of 6 nimmt!. Finished second. The skill levels varied greatly, which made it difficult to come back as the bad players kept scooping up all the bull heads. The beauty of 6 nimmt! is that, it's still always fun to play out. Even under those circumstances.

RoboRally fell a bit flat. I got wicked good hands filled with move twos and threes. When I acquired the third flag, only one of other four players had even acquired the first flag. The first timers had fun, but I just wish they could have seen a better game.

Fearsome Floors is just as average and identity confused as ever. It's the Joker from the Dark Knight. The highlight for me was how the player to my right was running away with the game, but every time I tried to steer the monster in his direction, the player to my left would move in such a way that the monster would go after one of us instead. Ah good times good times.
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6. Board Game: Witness [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:667]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Tuesday: games night at Joe's.

8  Witness x3
7  Kobayakawa
8  Pairs
8  Potato Man
N/A  RattleSnake
8  Skull

Friday-Monday: A super fun holiday weekend in Cornwall with a couple of our best friends. Lots of food, drink, conversation and boating! And amongst all that, a healthy portion of card games:

8  Pairs x12
8  Witness x9
10  Hanabi x3
9  ABLUXXEN x2
10  Love Letter x2
9  Red7 x2
9  Tichu x2
10  Category 5
8  Fauna
8  Mamma Mia!

Witness continues to be great fun, but I don't recommend it unless you have a group of (exactly) four people with good short-term memories and a love of logic puzzles!
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7. Board Game: Flea Market [Average Rating:5.64 Overall Rank:11859]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Sunday gaming group had lots of new-to-me games.

Fairy Tale remains an excellent filler/starter.

Flea Market was our first new one, and we got in two plays at 5p. Pretty well-paced, and although it has more luck than I tend to want in a game, the ability to reroll a die every turn (which I, uh, may have missed in the rules my first time through) does add a surprising amount of strategy to the game. Not a bad filler game.

Airlines was new to me as well, and I was surprised to find later that this came before Ticket to Ride. I found it far more enjoyable than TtR, although admittedly still unlikely to become a favorite. My favorite stock game remains Goldbrau, for reasons I cannot explain.

Medina was the third new-to-me game of the evening, and I could immediately see why it would be immensely popular. It's a very clever design, plus tactile satisfaction from the pieces, a very neat game. Not really my genre, but I appreciated this one nonetheless.

Finally, we tried the new-to-me DC Deckbuilding Game, which played about as generically as you'd expect from the title. The wrinkle is that each player plays as a Superhero who gets a unique bonus power, but some of these rely on certain types of cards appearing in the flop, leading them to be potentially woefully unbalanced. (Some are unbalanced for other reasons.)

My first game I played as Batman who receives a bonus from playing Equipment cards. We did not see a single one for the first third of the game, and none were available for purchase on my turn until 2/3rds through the game. I ended with half the score of my opponents. Our second game I bought a curse-giver early, the only one available in the game, and ended with roughly double the score of my opponents. I'd play it again as a filler, but it is a bit silly.
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8. Board Game: Backseat Drawing [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:6557]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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.NA. Ricochet Robots - 2 Players
_7_ Wildlife Safari (Quandary) - 4 Players

With the kids...
.NA. Labyrinth - 2 Players
.NA. Unpublished Prototype (Venture Capitalist) - 2 Players
_8_ Pick Picknic - 5 Players
_7_ Word on the Street Junior - 2 Players
_6_ Backseat Drawing - 3 Players
_6_ Pictionary Junior - 5 Players


A pretty light week of gaming and played a bunch of games I traded for.

(1) Backseat Drawing - I traded for this because my family likes Pictionary Junior. If you enjoy drawing games then this is worth trying. It's the opposite of Pictionary in that one player looks at the word and the other player is the drawer... and the guesser. The clue-giver, describes how to draw the picture. For example, make two circles and connect them with a curved line, etc. The person who is drawing is also trying to guess what they are drawing. It's fun.

(2) The aMAZEing Labyrinth - All of my kids grew up on Junior Labyrinth which is the same game with fewer tiles and a lot easier. I grew very tired of the junior version and this one is much better. Same thing, but bigger. My 11 year old and I played a round.

(3) Venture Capitalist - A little stock market-like game that I created; my 9 year old and I played a round. It is mediocre. I invented a very clever (IMHO), simple deck of cards that I'm sure can be used for some good games. This idea that I've been trying out for over 5 years isn't cutting the mustard. The players affect the market, but there isn't enough forward knowledge about what is going to happen in the market to make thoughtful enough decisions. Hmmmm... maybe I'll have to try a different route.

(4) Ricochet Robots - I silly puzzle exercise that I'd never played before. My wife and I played it but didn't really keep score. We enjoyed it that way and might do that again, but I don't really see busting this one out with a group to play. There are just WAAYYYY too many better options.
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9. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:501]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Not much playing because of some super secret crazy Briton-related stuff going on; a few plays with the kids and one short and rather uninvolved play with Saci.


 8.4   Carcassonne: The Castle - well, it was not a great experience. She's obviously very tired and it felt like she played only because she knew I'd like to. I won by 101:62.
 7.5   Château Roquefort
 8   Whoowasit?
 7   Wer war's: Das Kartenspiel
 7   Mmm!
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10. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:279]
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
United States
Folsom
CA
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Brass 4p ww x1
Have you ever played a stunningly excellent game with horrid company? I have. I did. And there it was. No jokes of any type, stonewalling any dialogue whatsoever. It was terrible, but the game itself was brilliant fun, you know? I can't wait to play it again. I certainly won't count on other people to stop cotton abusers.

Note my pretty player mats, with flip information readily available.

Blue Moon 2p x1
With mother in law. Fun, can't wait to play again! I was the hoax, and played like the flit, and thus got ANNIHILATED. Her first time. I want to get back in the groove... it's been a while. With the MIL adding pressure, I know Megan will get right back into it.


Barricado 4p ww x1
Turns out our new gaming friends are game designers! And this is their game (She didn't take his name when they married). It's got ridiculously simple rules, but there is definitely game there. I want to play it again, especially with some expansions! They've got adorable little 3d printed as potential components.

YINSH 2p x1
So they like abstracts, and I decided to show them my favourite. I won, 3-1, but it was just so fun. I love that game, and I love that zen mindset you have to get in for that game. You let the board flow over you, and sort of pick moves from the aether. While I was doing that, Oolong, another game of theirs, was being played with Megan and such. It's nice to have couple gaming buddies!
Here's a picture of Oolong:


Tigris & Euphrates 4p ww x1
5(6)-5(5)-3-3, Megan won, but barely. There was a MASSIVE middle kingdom that lazily spread out its tendrils hither and thither to assimilate all other little families. They were a little confused, but they were excellent company, so it was terribly fun. I was a little annoyed that Megan managed to snaffle up a last turn treasure, sealing her win.

Alcatraz: The Scapegoat 4p ww x1
So this is interesting. It's very much a cute game of incentivizing other to be the scapegoat. In fact, we learned, far too late, that the scapegoat should be destructive on his turn as revenge. I want to try it again to see if it ends up being better on repeated plays, or if it falls apart like panic station. I think it'll end up getting better and better.

Sticheln 4p x1
Megan was snarfing down her bread pudding at the pub, so she wasn't in this game, but it was SO GOOD. It's like Macao, Antiquity, or rolling japan: The game hates you. It really does. I loved it, and can't wait to play it again. I just hadn't played it before, to mine and Martin's chagrin.

Frank's Zoo 7p ww x1
Too many people. Gotta try again with less. Like masKmen, having more people really reduces your decision space.

5 Tribes, 3p x1
Megan was sitting over there, playing (and winning!) Trump, Tricks, Game and Castle Panic whilst I played this game. It's a really neat implementation of the mancala, and the wood is breathtaking, but I don't know if I'd play it over Trajan. The ap possibilities in this game are astounding- luckily I played it with 2 great other players. It was all our first games, and I gave up a lot of dumb points to viziers. Good, maybe even great, but not my game. Will play it again, especially with the same mitspieler, but no need to own. Also, the sentence "I'm going to use my white guy and a slave to buy this dude" made us feel a bit funny.

Who Stole the Cookie 4p x1
Merp. Broke the game. Would not play again.

Trump, Tricks, Game 4p ww x2
Excellent trick taker. I absolutely love the conceit of "capturing your next hand". It allows for a lot of strategic play in a short amount of time. And the sheer amount of dickery (Megan won a hand leading a 3), makes for wonderful hijinks.

Wizard 3p ww x1
One of the ultimate shoot-the-shit games. I prefer this to hearts or spades due to its higher player counts.

INNOVATION 2p ww x1
"That game, honey, that game of innovation..."
Has been our catchphrase all week. It was incredible. We started off with me hitting my stride dropping monument with masonry almost immediately. She then dominated ages 1, 2, and 3. That hit in tempo meant that I ran away with every symbol, splaying left, then right, then up. Megan managed to keep ahead with lightbulbs, hoping physics would pay off, but it misfired TWICE, making her furious. Meanwhile, I ended up spamming democracy once I managed to overtake her bulbs.

Lookit how pretty my opponent is! Doesn't matter, I've got more bulbs!

Democracy in hand, I dominated a couple of ages, and then ran up the rung, grabbing software, dominating technology, and coming within 6 inches of my 7th domination (we were playing to 7). Megan splayed for culture, and soon, she had 6. She put down fission, and her hand trembled. Was she going to? Would she become shiva, destroyer of worlds? Would she sing the song that heralds the end of days? Perhaps. Cooler heads suggested she check her hand again. And lo and behold: She had her twelfth clock in hand! Would diplomacy save the day? Yes! Yes it did! She grabbed her seventh domination, and it was OVER. What an epic game.

Out of curiousity, we checked the top of the deck.

We could have been nuked back to the stone age!

What a game. Drama, excitement, lovely wives. It was so good. I had the lead the entire time, and then BOOM. Wow. Whattasmackdown. This game, meatballs, this game.

Also Megan finished our living game room.





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11. Board Game: Quartermaster General [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:699]
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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Not many plays of anything since Lobstercon.

I have been thinking about the popularity of Quartermaster General at my last 2 cons. And I think its success could be down to :-

1) it plays 6. Its amazing how many times there seems to be 6 people looking for a game at any one time.
2) It takes 10 minutes to learn the rules and 1 hour to play. This fits it in to the common denominator game category.
3) You play in teams (and you really do need to play as a team). This is a (pleasant) novelty for most Euro gamers.
4) The variation in the decks and the occasional nasty, brutish and short ending encourages '1 more play'

I really enjoy playing the game - because of what it does in 1 to 4 above.

Otherwise a few plays of Patchwork.


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12. Board Game: Jarnac [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:5162]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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 9   Slither
 N/A   Welcome to the Dungeon
 7   Spyfall x2
 7   Splendor
 6   Lines of Action
 6   Biblios x2
 8   Amazons
 8   Twixt
 9   Connect6 x4
 9   Catchup x3
 8   Blokus Duo x2
 9   Shogi
 8   Jarnac

So plenty of online gaming. All of a sudden LittleGolem appears to be moving along nicely (I think they've sorted out the time-out part of the server - previously many people were in negative time but no resignation, obviously this drags out tournaments).

Nice to play Biblios again. Again I concluded that it's good but I'm not sure it would ever achieve great. The play could easily be replicated in a standard deck but I'm not sure it's good enough to deserve the effort. Lots of lovely relaxing card play but there are plenty of alternatives that do the same. Also only really plays well with three.

Higlighted Jarnac since it was a surprisingly good use of a Bananagrams set when you only have two players. I find Bananagrams weak with two since it drags out a little and there's less of the split excitement that tends to come in more distinct waves rather than that exciting rat-a-tat-tat you get with 4-6 players. I wouldn't mind adding a timer to Jarnac also. This would bring it closer to another word game I've read about that sounds fun that involves people jumping in to get bonus points or something... anyone know it?
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13. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:261]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Not much gaming this week. :-(

It was my turn to choose for the Monday night group, and I brought out Amun-Re because there were going to be 5 of us and I hadn't played this in quite a while. We had a good classic time.

Then later one game of Dominion: Adventures with my mom. We just played the intro setup again because it was her first time. I'll be Adventuring more this weekend!
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14. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:452]
David P
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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 8   Seeland
 7   Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation x2
 7   Kingdom Builder x3
 10   Innovation
 7   Hive x3
 10   Haggis
 6   Star Realms
 5   Kaigan
 5   Galaxy Trucker
 8   For Sale
 6   Villa Paletti
 6   San Juan
 7   Patchwork
 6   Mahjong
 3   Kalimambo
 7   Category 5

Lots of plays this week and long hours at work means little free time to write about it.

Friday

Marc and I got together for games. Highlights included a great game of Haggis, Seeland, and Kingdom Builder. In Haggis, I was trailing, then built a big lead, then Marc almost caught up before I could put it away. It's now a 10. It was good to play Seeland again as well. It had been a few months. Something about it just seems very satisfying to me. I won this one as well. I lost all of the games we played of Kingdom Builder, though the first we played with a rule wrong! The last one was very close. I'm glad I picked up a copy of the game. It's risen from a 6 to a 7.

Saturday & Sunday

I went to a board gaming fundraiser for charity on the weekend. It was a good event, but I played few of my favourite games. The company was nice though. I had a crazy winning streak, taking the win in every game I played save for two, Star Realms and 6 nimmt, and in both I placed second.

The highlight of the weekend was a first play of Patchwork while my opponent and I were waiting for another group to finish up. It's on the more interesting end of the Kosmos 2p series, along with the travel edition of Ingenious. Granted, it's not actually a Kosmos 2p game, but it might as well be. It's an engine-building economic game, but a good one. As is often the case with games of this type, I wonder about long-term replayability. I don't think it's particularly deep. But it was good.

Lows were Kaigan and Kalimambo. The former was my second play, and I ran away with the game. I just don't think the questions the game asks are very difficult, and there's not much fun in the game besides that. It's okay. Kalimambo is a kids game with animals and little poop meeples. It has some of the feeling of 6 nimmt, but it's almost entirely random and just seemed pointless.

Star Realms was new to me too. It was okay. I don't think it really works with more than two players, and it doesn't displace Puzzle Strike. It is clever and I won't deny that I had fun, but it just doesn't have the depth, balance, or strategy of Puzzle Strike.
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15. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:84]
Andrew
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Tokyo
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I'd better get this down while I have time.

Played a 6-player game of A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) with 3 newbies, and it went smoother than expected. However as Lannister my peaceful overtures were rebuffed and two of the newbies teamed up and attacked me for the hell of it. I made a couple of tactical mistakes (forgetting an opponent's special power, not refreshing my cards when I had the chance) and ended up in something of a stalemate. We called the game on the 9th turn, when the third newbie sort-of had the most castles (she forgot to put down a power token to retain a region when she attacked, but I give her the moral victory).
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