GCL Swedish Meatballs #206 — Interesting
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Introduction
Welcome to this week's Swedish Meatballs discussion list, episode #206. The Meatballs are a division of BGG's GameChat League, where groups of geeks blabber in a semi-open format quasi-intelligently (and sometimes even intelligently) about topics they find interesting. Civil comments from non-members are fine and even encouraged, but only members should add items, usually your weekly games played or anything else you find interesting to add.

The Wiki page for this GCL group is here, and you can find its subscription list here. Enjoy!



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This week's topic
Some time ago Tom Vasel (or one of his lackeys, I forget) commented upon a game he didn't like at all. But at the same time he recognised that the game had strong mechanical merits which might appeal to the right crowd. In short, he just didn't find the game 'interesting' because it stressed mechanisms he had little fondness for. It sparked some discussion, not for the first time, on whether it was possible to dislike a game, but still think it good. I happen to think that it is, although it is not often that I am able to remove the bias of my own opinion.

But by and by it got me thinking. There are lots of mechanisms I dismiss as 'not interesting', and others which I welcome as the opposite. But why do find certain mechanisms interesting, and others not? Where is their appeal? This list, in which you are invited to add your own reasons as to why or why not you like a particular mechanism, seeks to explore this question.

And then, on a more formal and perhaps sad note: This will be the final geeklist I create for the Meatballs. I hope you find it... well, interesting.
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1. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:434]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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I have a soft spot for area control: usually in the form of encirclement but also in the form of simple tile laying. I think the reason is that given a finite amount of influence with which to mark off one's territory you are given a very natural and uncomplicated choice: make a few big terrains, or lots of small ones, or something in between. The rules don't need to enforce this: it's inherent to the mechanism. When playing with more people I find that the rules do need to give the players a hand: either by making the territory irregular or introducing bonuses so that it becomes easier (i.e., more efficient) to capture small areas.

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2. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:554]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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I also like the by now nearly forgotten mechanism of area majorities, for more or less similar reasons. Your amount of influence is finite, but how you distribute it is up to you. So you can go for a few areas which you totally dominate, or for lots where you are barely present. However, in order to support the latter strategy the game rules must allow for 2nd and perhaps even 3rd place VP awarding. Otherwise you end up with a title like Jerusalem, which feels rather 'off' due to precisely this lack.

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3. Board Game: Tournay [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:787]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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So naturally one would assume that another mechanism with finite resources needing to be distributed—worker placement—would sit well with me. But strangely enough, it doesn't. I think this is because in most WPGs the recall phase is synchronous for all players. This more or less forces the influence distribution into a very short-term pattern, as if you repeatedly clear the board in an area majorities game after a few areas have been claimed. Which is, in my opinion, neither fun nor interesting.

WPGs with asynchronous recall, now... say byebye to the timing straightjacket. It comes as no surprise that most WPGs I like use this mechanism. There's one exception: Olympus, but the WP here isn't really WP as found in Stone Age and the like.

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4. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Deckbuilding... No. Due to three characteristics: incessent card manipulation; sometimes overemphasis on the microscale of a growth problem; and the game's stochastic nature.

The card manipulation is easily understood, and can be alleviated by using a computer interface rather than a cardboard one. Honesty compells me to admit I've never played Dominion and its spinoffs that way, but it would certainly help me a good deal.

Not all deckbuilders suffer from what I consider to be the second problem, but granddaddy Dominion does due to it being only cards. Microscale is simply a fancy word for what goes on at the most detailed level. (The opposite word would be the macroscale, which deals with major events and plans.) Translated into Dominion lingo: card draw, card play, discards, draw new ones. It is literally all you do. You don't really 'see' how your position is being constructed, you have to imagine it as you go along, helped by the drawing of the cards you added to your draw pile.

Finally two games where exactly the same cards were drawn from the stacks can play out completely differently due to the random draw. Because I cannot easily distinguish chance play from a sound strategy that way, I would prefer to have deckbuilders play out like Core Wars. In Core Wars two programs are pitted against each other in a virtual computer, and are told to make the other execute a data instruction rather than a program one. The first program which has this happening to it loses. Humans are asked to create the programs, after which a computer handles the dreary task of executing them 100 times. The program which emerges victoriously most often wins, thus also (at least attempting to) account for a stochastic effect. Contrast to an actual deckbuilder: humans are not asked to come up with an overarching strategy (at least not explicitly), and have to deal with the minute execution of their idea one card cycle after the other. You'd lose out on turn-to-turn flexibility, but gain in macroscale deliberation, i.e., strategy.

An alternative would be to seriously reduce the number of cards in play. This has been done in Rococo and to a different extent in Concordia, with the result that the mechanism appeals to me much better.

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5. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:392]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Overemphasis on the microscale plagues another important game mechanism—pattern really, namely that of the snowball engine. Try as I might (and have!), I cannot make these games work in my head. There is a lot to take in from turn to turn: the sheer number of actions; whether or not a move is efficient, and on what time scale; feedback loops; player turn order effects; the position in a few turns' time. It makes me lose sight of the larger whole, and thus lose spectacularly on most occasions. It also doesn't help that most of these games are constructed in such a way that someone ending up in the rear after a while is no longer a threat to those in front, and that thus the game is essentially already over for the unfortunate player.

Games either need to emphasise the end goal more clearly; or the amonunt of complexity needs to be cut down drastically so that what remains doesn't cloud my judgment. I then end up with what most people would consider to be simple growth patterns found in Glen More, Loyang, Endeavor, and hell, even Dominion. (Provided the latter is modified as per above.)

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6. Board Game: Die Dolmengötter [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:3126]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Oh, now I'm getting started. Games allowing someone to take a lead and keep it given even a smidgen of competent play; or games where someone in the rear is simply left to his own devices, can count on my displeasure. Board gaming represents a certain time investment, so the last thing I want is to play 'voor spek en bonen' as I would say in Dutch. Literally it means 'playing for [a prize of] salt pork and beans', i.e., something of little value or honour. Granted, often it's my own fault for ending up in such a position, but I really don't think it funny if I don't have a good idea how to improve matters in subsequent games.

In any case, it neatly explains my strong proclivity for games where players always clearly need each other to get something done. There might still be leaders and laggers, but at least it makes everyone realise (or is supposed to make everyone realise) that allowing such a situation to endure is not wise, but can be dealt with by cooperating for a short while in a very specific way. Because the alternative is far worse.

Unfortunately to date the games where this principle is present in a more advanced form (notably the Splotter games, but also those by Winsome like for example Chicago Express, or even Hansa Teutonica) have not really resulted in what I think these designs are capable of. It is, admittedly, a difficult concept. And so I keep on playing them until, hopefully, people 'get it'. I'm still thinking fondly of the one game of HT where the players did get it, and all hell broke loose. That's worth some discomfort.

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7. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:196]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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In cooperative games, players must have absolute certainty that their actions proceed as planned. Dealing with random factors at this stage is an instant turnoff for me.

The reason is simple: the idea about cooperation is that you talk at length with others how to proceed. This is challenging under the best of circumstances. In my opinion there really is no need to screw up this process with stochastics as it makes the entire planning go to waste. So out go Ghost Stories, Witch of Salem and a slew of others; remaining are, for now, Pandemic and Hanabi. I should stress that this does not mean that randomness in a coop is a Bad Thing: it is in fact perfectly acceptable. Just not in the player actions themselves.

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8. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:135]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Auctions are a bit of a mixed bag. In the form used by some designers to fix balance issues they can't be bothered to work out for themselves I think they stink to high heaven. Yes, if the auction is functioning properly then any game, no matter how balanced, can be made into a competitive whole. But it feels so damn lazy.

Auctions where the inherent value of an object is of importance (Princes of Florence, Power Grid) are then already a lot better: the scope of the auction is more limited. Still, if players do not value an object correctly the game can still be thrown out of whack, a property I've come to term brittle. Which is rather appropriate, I think. Matters become even more fuzzy when the number of auctions is limited, or when there are feedback loops active where won objects give rise to future bidding power. Paradoxically, if you limit the number of players under these circumstances (such as in Goa when playing with just 2) then auctions turn into a powerful psychological weapon. Although in this particular case it probably has more to do with money being handed over to your opponent who can then subsequently use it against you.

The best auctions are in my opinion simply those where bidding power is just that: a means of prioritisation access to an object, which can be spent or gained, without there being mechanisms to add extra value to it. You end up in Ra and Metropolys country, where it functions beautifully, in my humble opinion.

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9. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:43]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Card drafting is not something which appeals to me on a regular basis. The reason is, I think, a balance issue: the amount of control the mechanism gives you compared to the amount of randomness which passes through your hands. I haven't thought of a dimensionless number yet to quantify this ratio. What I do know is that games where the ratio is off (like for example in 7 Wonders or Ginkgopolis) it is difficult to engage in any strategic thinking but that the games actually do reward it. It creates what I experience as unpleasant tension, because if I cannot truly control what happens on the short term (or microscale), how on Earth am I supposed to do something about the long term (or macroscale)?

Yes, I suppose that if you play often enough that skill will show through, but this doesn't fit into my regular play pattern which starts out at 'once ever so often'. Yes, it's criminal, I know, but there we have it.

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10. Board Game: Journey's End [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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And with the above contribution, I am going to mention the dreaded r-word retirement for real. Leaving has been a process which was started probably round about the time my little tyke was born or even before; sometimes it went ahead a little more quickly, sometimes a little more slowly... but all those tiny Δ's do add up, and lead to a significant amount I no longer wish to ignore. The past few months my attention has been elsewhere, in both a positive and a negative sense. No, it's not a second child as my partner and I have an Understanding that the child we now have will remain our only offspring. Call it health and people stuff if you want a fancier name for it. It will all be dealt with, in one way or the other.

The many, many discussions held over the years have made a lasting impression on my opinions and interests, so my heartfelt thanks to all who contributed at one point or the other, and were willing to read through my ramblings. And although it is unlikely that he reads it, I would like to extend my gratitude to Our Glorious Founder for the initial invitation, and pulling me a little out of the anonymity I'd been harbouring until that point.

It is to that anonymity that I return. Have returned, I should say, for I haven't been active in this GCL for some time now. I didn't wish to leave without a proper goodbye though, hence me returning for one last time. See ya round, Meatballers.
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11. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:31]
chearns
Canada
Montréal
Québec
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A question for some, I was out of town on Sunday, and in the local game shop I visited, they were selling an in shrink Container, with dishing on the bottom, for 45$ Canadian. Should I have bought it, knowing that the odds of me getting it to the table once or twice is possible, but I can't see it ever hitting the ten play level, I just don't know those kinds of people?

As usual games in ordered from most fun to least.

Meetup turnout was really low this week, and for the first half hour there were just two of us and we played a game of Red7. Two player Red7 is where it's at. I am convinced of that. With more than two players, folding isn't really a thing, but with two players, folding is the difference between winning and being blown away. I won.

Two things of note with our game of Power Grid. One, having not played in many years, I got a crucial rule backwards, and instead of eliminating the most expensive power station for half the game, I eliminated the cheapest one. Once I figured out what I had gotten wrong, we went with the actual rules, but, yeah, that error made the game a bit wonky.

Two, at the end of the game we kind of stalled out, with no one able to build a 14th city (six player game) to end it, we needed to wait until the third phase marker was dealt. So.... we just sat there collecting money until the end.

When it came up, we all knew it was the last round. I didn't want to hold up the game too much so I guessed at how much money I needed to power the most cities if I won the last 7 station (with only one other player capable of powering as many I could and who was later in the turn order), and I was off by a dollar.

The person who went first bought up the cheapest cities, and with what was left I was missing a dollar to power up my max.

Here's the interesting part. If I build anyway, I'm pretty sure the first player will win as like me he was soaking in cash, and unlike me, he didn't pay 170 dollars for a power station (he was the one I was in the bidding war with), and the other player who can power the most cities goes after me, and without access to those buildings, I don't think she can afford the buildings she needs in order to have the most cities.

So, what do I do? I passed. Opting not to build. And so he lost and she won (the other three players are out of it, they can't power enough to compete on that level, and don't have the cash to compete on the other).

It's the dreaded kingmaker situation. Clearly when I passed I wasn't playing for place, as passing guaranteed me last place. But, it did end the game faster, as we didn't have to sit through my turn, the clearclaw logic, or, if you'd like, it could be viewed as revenge against the player who bid me up and also bought the cities I needed to win.

But, would anyone flip the table had they been the first player after I decided to pass?

Played Carcassonne with some people who had never played. A good game, it was closer than I expected, but, they had never played so, uh, yeah.

Another game where I made a mistake with the rules, Family Business, played with five. Probably the best queue game I've played to date, I think it's because you can clearly see that standings at all times, so we just kind of keep everything even steven as the game continuously moves towards the end. Unfortunately, I failed to mention something while explaining the rules, which brought about the end of the game a little faster than people expected, and I didn't remember that turn order bounces around during the game instead of always clocking.

Saying the game is the best of the queue games might be a little biased though, we had a good group for that game, a group that could have made Munchkin fun.

Played three game of 6 nimmt! and two of Can't Stop online. My final final was this week, so on the odd break from studying here and there, I'd log in and give them a play.

My two games of Coup have me wondering if I've made a terrible mistake ordering Guatemala 1954. Once again I felt like there was little I could do to win. Just constantly bombarded with coups and assassinations by players who felt that I was too silver tongued to be allowed to live.
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12. Board Game: Broom Service [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:404]
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Folsom
CA
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It's been a gaming smorgasbord.

Colt Express 5p ww x1
How was it? It was pretty ok. It moves fast, which is a good thing. Megan and I weren't really impressed, her less than I (Probably because I love programming games. A programming game. I love Edo). We would play it again though, because the company was grand, it moved along at a good clip, and was pretty. HOWEVER. at more than 3 players, the train gets long enough that perspective matters, and from where I was sitting, I had no idea how much was left in the last two trains. So, solid effort, lighter than I'd like, and I can see how it was SDJ material (Sorry Laszlo, but it's tough to rationalize five tribes. I honestly think it's a heavy game in light wrappings).

Inkognito 4p ww x1
Well this was interesting. It was extremely fun, but I'm not entirely sure if it was fun because I had a great partner, and we took every opportunity to signal each other whilst our administrative wives looked down at their sheet and cross referenced, or because the game works. Frankly, I find the game somewhat less than the experience, if that makes sense. I want to play it again to see if cracks start to show, or if it is genuinely a delightful experience time in and out, and the critic in me is just being harsh. I really wanna know Samo's opinion. I loved breastzilla, all knowing movement nun, and the rest of the brazenly over-produced game bits. It genuinely looks beautiful in motion. I have a friend who likes deduction games, and I'm wondering if he's played this, as it may just be the game he's looking for.

Beasty Bar 2p ww x2, 4p ww x1
At first, Megan and I were disappointed. It was purchased on Smintie's recommendation, but as we actually played it, it seemed too tight and rote, and not really... much there. We calculated who would win, and then someone won on tiebreak. HOWEVER. That is the 2p game. I don't recommend that. The 4p game injects so much uncertainty, gamesmanship, and chaos that it truly shines. As a 4p filler, I adore it. As a 2p card game, it can go away. Also, it scored bonus points for being the only game I own with a clearly visible skunk rectum. Yay!

Kuhlorado 2p ww x1
A palate cleanser after our two games of 2p beasty bar. I don't understand how this game is flying under the radar. Perhaps it's because it takes a game or two to really start to see the positional nastiness that can ensue?

Stichling 3p ww x1
So I got to play this, and man. This is crazy. It's a trick taker with four ongoing tricks, but unlike You Suck! the trick threshold is 4 cards, and it's also got a brilliant little scoring conveyor belt that I love. It's the first trick taker with bids where I feel the majority of the action comes in the play, not in the bid. And there are some nasty things you can do to tank other players. I want to play it again. Megan was unimpressed, but admits that she was tired.

Roll for the Galaxy 3p ww x1

Holy cow. Megan got a synergistic green tableau out of the gate, and then proceeded to never stop abusing it. I almost caught up with a table of blues a particularly relevant 6dev, and some excellent leeching, but her steady hand and refusal to waver from the plan caught me dead out. Also, we got to play with these lovely lovelies. Four sheets of adhesive felt and 5 foam mini sheets later, and our ears are thanking us.



Nottingham 5p ww x1
This continues to impress me. Is there any way that I can tell Uwe to just focus on the little box stuff? When he does, he's just brilliant, taking a little mechanic and just wringing the best game out of it. Someone tried hoarding, but in this game, it just didn't work, as the game end was heralded far too quickly, and well, any number of in-built reasons that prevent it. Such as the titular sheriff.

Tsuro of the Seas 5p ww x1
Oh god. Don't make me play it again. So much silly dice rolling, and dragons can cause the game to drag, as well as knock people out in the first few moments. To misquote Siskel and Ebert: Two down-dangling appendages.

El Gaucho 2p ww x2
Ah! Forgot about this one, as it was played in the twilight hours of last week, right on the border of the two. Got reminded by Paul's list. I disagree! I find it really, uh, ballbusting. When we were playing, I couldn't believe the amount of ap it generated for me and Megan- me especially, as I am usually the swiftest of players. I really enjoyed my plays of it, and put it firmly in the category of "gateway games that I can be assed to explain because I actually enjoy them". And who doesn't like a 3d dice corral? I can imagine it gets better with more, as the stealing gets more frantic, and intense.

Ugg-Tect 6p ww x1
Now this was silly fun. Don't know if I'd play it again, as I hurt my voice being so wonderfully caveman-ish, but I can see the appeal. Also, am furious as clearly the original name of ARGH-itect was superior.

Space Cadets: Dice Duel 6p x1
Do you like rolling fists of real-time die, team communication, high stakes, and plastic crystals? I don't know if the meatballs are into that sort of thing, but If any of that sounds good to you, this game is for you. I was surprised at how in-elegant the game is in action, whilst still being an exciting, functional, whole. I might have actually entertained the notion of purchase, were it not for it being a. real time b. team based c. space themed. If you had added d. auctioning, it would have been a perfect example of things Megan hates.

Guns & Steel 2p ww x1
Holy cow. First design town ends up being a miniscule take on dominion, now Guns & Steel ends up being a tiny version of Lewis and Clark. A 50+5n (n being player count) card hand-builder, it's absolutely brilliant. There's attacking, and drafting, and oh it's glorious. Megan hates it, but can see the appeal. Mainly, she wasn't a fan of having to visualize production chains and bonuses all in your head- as there is no board. I've put it up for sale for 100$, which is a good threshold for a thing I don't really want to sell. Watch out for this sucker at Essen. It's got all kinds of depth, and even some bluffing, re military cards.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE MAIN EVENT:

Broom Service 5p ww x1
Witches' Brew game+, if that means anything to you analogue types. The board is excellent, and adds all sorts of interesting positional considerations. Vincent Dutrait's art is just wonderful, and there are plenty of interesting variants and set-ups to consider (almost bordering on DXV style-design). It takes that element of bluffing and reading that I quite like and marries it to a charming set of new pick-up and-deliver mechanics. I played the basic game on the basic side, but even that had a lot of pleasant things to consider. Also, the stakes seem a little bit higher, as, unlike in witches' brew, where you don't have a constant reminder of when you whiffed and got nothing, the board reminds you of all of your failures. The spatial element adds a nice race to deliver to the good spots, and the interactions all seem a bit meatier- despite there not being any "steal" cards this time around. Also, the potion gatherers are slightly tweaked to make them more interesting. I like it. I love it. I can't wait to play it again. This is the sort of thing I imagine when I see a game that has a brilliant main mechanic, and I think about re-vamping it. Broom Service is not just a retread, it's a superior re-vamp, with all sorts of new goodies. Megan, of course, disagrees- but in a rare bit of agreement for this week, is glad that we own it, and wants to play again. I, however, am thirsting, and only more Broom Service can slake my need.



Also, on another note, I've been auctioning and selling stuff to make room. I loved Qin and Lemuria, but Megan's waning interest and their redundancy in my collection (Qin due to Rondo and TnE, Lemuria due to Mac Gerdts) meant it was a solid goodbye. Also, I finally got all I wanted from artificium. I'd gladly play it again, perhaps even request it, but its tenancy is now at an end.
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13. Board Game: Backseat Drawing [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:6677]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_8_ Hanabi - 4 Players (x2)
_8_ Dominion - 2 Players
_8_ Kingdom Builder - 2 Players
_7_ Tobago - 4 Players
_7_ Bohnanza - 4 Players
_7_ Click Clack Lumberjack - 4 Players (x2)
_7_ Loopin' Louie - 4 Players (x2)
_6_ Backseat Drawing - 4 Players (x2)
_6_ Patchwork - 2 Players

With the kids...
_8_ Flash Point: Fire Rescue - 3 Players
_7_ Labyrinth - 2 Players
_7_ Gulo Gulo - 6 Players
_5_ Mr. Mouth - 4 Players (x2)


(1) Loopin' Louie - This game just makes people happy!

(2) Backseat Drawing - We play a lot of Pictionary Jr. here and this game is working well for us. This week, we played it with once with our neighbors and once with my brother and sister-in-law. It's backwards Pictionary where the drawer is trying to guess what they are drawing and the other person knows the word and has to describe to the drawer how to draw it with words like... "make a wide oval with a line coming out of the top of it...."
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14. Board Game: Phoenicia [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1592]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Early in the week, a new friend taught me Canasta, which we ended up describing as "gin rummy's racist step-cousin". This game is filled with rules I dislike, including getting 100 points whenever you draw a red 3. I was glad to learn it, I hope never to play it again, since there are at least fifty better traditional card games.

Later in the week, Debbie and I played Goa, which we had not played in too long. I know it's a wholly different game with more players, but it sure is a fantastic game with two. This time I had gotten myself over a barrel and was about to be stuck with no more colonies, but then I finally won a bid on a clove plantation and came back to barely win the game on the back of a 4-point Duty tile.

Sunday was game night, and we played more Splendor, although it was with some new people and I felt like everything had regressed; I returned to earlier strategies because my opponents were also playing less cagily.

We also played two more games of Phoenicia, with which I have been slowly grooming this group to prepare for Zepter of Zavandor, bwahahahaha. Our first game was nice and close, with everyone within a victory point of each other for much of the endgame. Our second game was not at all close, a one-sided rout where nobody else had even hit 20 points when the 32-point victory was claimed. This caused someone to observe that Fort and Clothmaker seemed to be the two crucial components in victory... which naturally leads me to want to try to win without them next time.
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15. Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045 [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:369]
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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Baseball Highlights x 7.

Brian Bankler has written a superb review here. I love the combination of a 3 minute rock, paper, psycho battle with drafting and it has the feel of baseball (though with cyborgs and Robots). If I can find people to play with I think this might become one of my favourites.

Cacao x 2.

Quartermaster General. 3 new players. All wanted to play again immedialtly. I love the effect this game has on people.

Forbidden Desert. First time I have played. Sitting back from the game I admired its mechanics (exploring a random grid to escape the desert – you search for tilesthat point to an intersection on the grid to get the bits to the ship that let you escape, whilst battling the effects of sun and drifting sand). A clever jive on pandemic, but not something I care if I play again.

Stockpile - Procedural, dull. Push 'stocks' up or down tracks, some hidden info, Vegas showdown bidding (this should be tense but is just dull). There were moments of schadenfreude crashing stocks or seeing holdings fall. However the theme and mechanics don't knit v well - its a game that would be better of as goods round the med. Colors boring though cash nice. I like randomness in games - this is just not an interesting example of how it can be used.

Polterfass – the new LOB dickery game

El Gaucho – Nice cows. Pleasantly dull.

'Verflixxt Kompact' - 1st time i have played with the 'Worminator' and, if such a thing could be possible, it might add unnecessary complexity to the game

'Sky Tango' x 1

'Welcome to the Dungeon'- I like the addition of extra adventurer classes in the new edition
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16. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:125]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Tuesday: games night at Adam & Hannah's (2 mins walk from our place )

10  Ra
8  Basari: Das Kartenspiel
10  Love Letter
9  Spot it!
8  Pairs

Friday: charity games night at Joe and Sam's studio space

5  Loopin' Louie x2
9  Tichu
8  Las Vegas
8  Potato Man

Really fun event with 20-25 people. I was particularly amused by a former head of the BBC Natural History Unit showing up, having never played any of our games before, and proceeding to crush all-comers at Fauna. He left talking about getting a copy as an interview aid.
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17. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:60]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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More plays of games with grown-ups than anticipated, but no new to me games this time.



On Wednesday I had a fast play of
 7.7   Roll for the Galaxy; it's still fine (and I lost; I'm not sure i played optimally but my opponent was damned lucky with the tiles he got - three blue planets that gave him further blue dice...).

And in the weekend we spent some quality time together with Saci (a rare event ever since we are five).
 7.4   Targi was once again good (and cruel) and she won with an even higher advantage than last year. And now she also won
 7.4   Patchwork which made me happy.
On the other day we visited a Belgian beerfest and really enjoyed it.


With the kids:

I noticed my daughter Borcsa likes to try games that her brother already plays only when Miska is not at home, so when my son and Saci left home I asked her what she wants to play. So we played two new to her games and one of her favorites; this time I won all but she did not get sad as she knows what it means to play a learning game (and she can even be proud, playing age: 7+ and 8+ games at all).
 7.2   Keltis: Der Weg der Steine Mitbringspiel
 7   Kangaroo
 6.5   Coloretto Amazonas

Then we played our first real 4-player game of
 8   Whoowasit? which we won at 5:30.
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18. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:5]
David P
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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 10.   Twilight Struggle
 7.0   Red7
 7.0   Kingdom Builder x3
 10.   Innovation
 10.   Haggis
 10.   Tigris & Euphrates
 10.   Tichu
 7.0   Oasis NEW!
 9.0   Mü & Lots More x2
 7.0   Category 5

Saturday

After a long week of 16-18 hour work days with little sleep, it was nice to get some gaming in on Saturday with Marc. It will be the last time we get together for a while, as he is away for the next few weeks and I will be in Toronto in the first week of June. We began with Haggis. It was a typically back and forth affair with me taking the lead, losing it, and betting big on the last hand to pull ahead just over the finish line. We followed that up with Red7. I won that one too, though we didn't play a full game.

Then there was Twilight Struggle. I played as the USSR and rushed hard in Europe. My rush forced Marc to waste influence points trying to take back France. We escalated up to 25+ IPs in France before I took overcontrol. By that time, I'd developed a strong grip on Asia as well. The Europe scoring card came up at the end of the Mid War. I played it in my first action round to take the game with control of Europe.

We followed that up with three plays of Kingdom Builder. Marc won them all. I'm not very good at the game, but I'm enjoying it more with each play. As Martin suggested last week, it's a grower. We mixed in Crossroads, which seems to be more of the same.

We concluded with a game of Innovation. I can't recall the details, except that Marc took the victory.

Sunday

Sunday I got lots of exercise biking to a gaming friend's house about 25 km from the heart of downtown Vancouver, which is where I live. We began with 6p (and then, for one round, 8p) Category 5. I've gotten a lot better at the game; I won, even with so many players.

We broke into two groups. Mine went with a long overdue game of . As we played successive rounds, the game only improved. It was every bit as good as I remembered it from last year, when I played it for the first time. It's perhaps the finest trick-taking game I've played. We played a second game later in the night. I lost both.

We played more of my favourites after Mü: Tigris & Euphrates and (Suicide) Tichu. I won neither, coming in last in T&E with an experienced table. My partner and I had a decent finish in Tichu, despite the difficulties of calling Grand Tichu every time. Despite the relatively poor showings, I cannot imagine a better line up of games than those three.

My table finished with a new-to-me game, Oasis. It was an interesting push your luck bidding game with a map. Though the map is important for area control and for scoring provided that you are playing, as you should, and as we did, with the maximum 5p, the heart of the game is in the bidding mechanism. Luck plays a large role in the bidding mechanism. I have concerns that the draw determines the results; there might not be much a player can do to mitigate unlucky draws early on. But it's a fun, well developed euro with a touch of nastiness, one of Alan Moon's better designs, and it's over in 45-60 minutes.
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19. Board Game: Waterworks [Average Rating:5.50 Overall Rank:14185]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Groo x2
Roborally
Firefly
Waterworks. I think the art in this game is magnificent.
Vegas Showdown. Loving the 2p variant here. Twice as much Vegas Showdown!
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20. Board Game: Magnaci: Nadanie tytułu książęcego [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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More of Nada. Its a really dry month.
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21. Board Game: Gloobz [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:5002]
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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This item will be kinda evolving as I have a lot of catching up to do. Or maybe I'll do it in couple of weeks.

Basically: We organized a huge (for our parts) table top event, which took some time and preparation and stuff and lots of responsibilty on my shoulders. Afterwards I collapsed and just fucking didn't care for gaming events. Hating gamers, hating games, wishing they would all burn in hell. Then I got 1 week of cold, 2 weeks of sinusitis, one and a half month of avoiding gamers and games like plague.

While in the meanwhile I was doing weekly gaming workshop for kids.

The realisation I got from this is that: I don't care for development of gaming scene of gaming hobby or games. I do however care for people living better lives and if games help in the process that's great. The idea is for me to find a new equilibrium in relation to gaming and there will be less of it. But maybe more fun.

So:

tabletop event

A huge success. 9 hours. Some 200 people, 100 at the same time.

- I pushed for a Pitch car tournament which exceeded all expectations in terms of cheering and excitement involved - 2 guys took over organisation. We had 3 base tracks and some 30 players flicking disks for 2-3 hours.
- I got some 15 sponsor games to give out (we had play-to-win section), most of them kids games. Which meant I was playing them for the entire day with some 6 year olds. I had fun. More than it seemed to me gamers were having, but what do I know.
- I organised a sort of "artistic" experience - we got a copy of Nacht der Magier, and the building we were in (high school dormitory) has a functioning theatre space in the cellar. So I was bringing groups of 4 people to play "a game that glows in the dark" every 10 minutes to another guy running the game. The funny part was explaining the game before people saw it. "So you're wizards with these really pointy hats and you're pushing* your cauldrons around, trying to get one into the hole that glows in the dark" (* also in Slovene "pushing" is an euphemism for the male part of a sexual intercourse, ahem)


gaming workshop

Oh my how things changed in 2 years.
- I was very worried about how they destroyed the games we bought for them then. Now I just shrug. Even with ones that are still complete, they're just playing Uno when they're playing anything. *shrug*
- The place got renovated and looks really great (now we play in a room with windows!).
- Kids have changed. The ones I played with hit the age (13-15) when they want to look all serious and grown up and totally not doing kids' stuff. But new kids came. And new problems. We have more kids with learning disabilities, one cute ADHD kid, and two gypsies which brought all sorts of problems as other kids don't like them and they aren't angels either. On top of it, seems there's less 2nd/3rd generation immigrants and more 1st generation ones (refugees). One really calm and well behaved Ukranian kid. And the usual suspect. Plus kids fluctuate more. In general games this year have to be simpler and less conflict oriented.
- I'm actually having more fun this year. The relation between me - a grown up - and them is clearer. Also I don't run the workshop with my GF as 2 years ago, but another gamer who's also a dance teacher. He had a hip-hop workshop there and was very popular. Actually for 2 guys we're really popular. Only problem is that I found our he wants to turn kids into gamers (argh!), though the chances of it happening are slim.

Games:
- big on stacking games this year. Animal Upon Animal is a staple. Really works with anyone from 4 to 99 (at 100 you need a drink to play so you feel like 99 again). It's more tricky with adults, but I've just played with 4 year girl with super steady hands. She won fair and square. Riff Raff is a more serious stacking game. Problem is, when things start to fall, everything falls. Catch a Falling Star is a new discovery, kinda like Pick Up Sticks in reverse. Pretty cool as a sort of nest/knot forms in the air.
- Speed games oh yeah. A lot of Spot it!. Some Jungle Speed (I have missed it), some Pick-a-Dog, some Ghost Blitz. I've tried Panic Lab, but it didn't catch on (deduction is very linear and logical) . However I've tried Gloobz and wow, this is hilarious (will report more).
- Some Mamma mia, some Get bit (not as a big hit as I hoped as they don't get doublethinking), quite a lot of King of Tokyo, but always the other table, not mine. Dixit, Forbidden Island, Survive, Indigo, even Sushi Go seems to be working. (provided no 10 y.o. boy tries to joing 13 y.o. girls at the table. seriously.).


EDIT

new to me games this week


With plenty of simple games for the kids workshop this year, especially stacking and speed games I was a bit surprised to find a new speed game that stands out.

Gloobz 7.5

Quote:
Gloobz caught me by surprise. I love speed recognition (reaction?) games and this one didn't seem as special. Its trick is combining speed reaction game with VPS. Funnily enough it works really well.

Gloobz is one of those simultaneous free for all speed games, meaning each turn you're against everyone. Problem with these games is that it's hard to get better at them, if you're facing the best player all the time and they're beating you. Gloobz solves this by diluting the competition - each turn you're trying to grab 2 to 4 squishy plastic Gloobz (out of 7 total). As many as correct answers you get, as many points you get, minus the points for incorrect answers. What this means is that while a good player may be able to grab one or two items, it's really rare to be able to grab all of them. And there's also a case of shifting gears, when you try to grab something, it gets taken for you and so you try to go for something else - this kind of thinking on the spot reacting to other players is really unique.

And of course Gloobz has 2 tricks up its sleeve. Okay 3. First one is that a player turning the card says "less" or "more" so you try to grab the colour or shapes of which there are the most/the least (or tied for most/least) on the card. Basically it means there are two different ways to read a card which adds variety and catches sleepy players unaware. The other two tricks are:
- A card where you have to grab one Gloob only. The MEGAGLOOB! He is so glorious. Worth 3 points even.
- A card where you have to grab everything. Yup. Everything. Each thing gives you a point.
The last one is just hilarious and is the highlight of the game. I recommend playing with cards in the middle of Gloobz as this will prevent a single player grabbing everything with one sweeping motion.

So it's game where you slowly pick a point here, pick a point there, and then get a shitload of points every time there's a special card. So the ability to recognize rule shift is really crucial. It also makes the game exciting and funny. As opposed to some other speed games, there's really no skill to get better at, Okay detecting shapes is a bit harder than colours, but I'm not sure one can get substantially better at it. It's probably more focused on speed reaction than most, I feels faster, which is why "gear shifts" matter more and create more laughter. So it's the party game of speed games (which some consider party games to start with). This is the funky one. With the MEGAGLOOB!



You can't miss the MEGAGLOOB!


Then I went to the eurogaming session for the first time since august. Say hello and stuff. And try this thingy:

Roll for the Galaxy 5.5

Quote:
Nope. Not as good.

Firstly I must say it's an impressive re-imagining of RFTG, a testament to the designer skills of those involved. The result is actually better than many dice versions of games are, maybe even on the higher level than the line of FFG's another re-imaginings or Arkham Horror. It just fails to deliver exactly the thing I play RftG for, instead this is replaced by the kind of things that make me run away from many euro games.

RollFTG is a bit simpler than RFTG, way more accessible, because it is in essence an engine building game. I wanted to say I like RFTG because it forces me to think on the spot while RollFTG doesn't, but actually both allow me to think on the spot. However: RFTG demands of me strategic, long term decisions to be made on a spot, big risks, high possible rewards. Whereas RollFTG seems mostly tactical - fiddle with this, change that, adjust this. Selection of tiles is much more random than in RFTG (because: draw engines) - which again makes the game more tactical.

Summary: it's safer.
It's more accessible, you don't need as much skill, learning curve is lower, there's less risk, less rewards, less interaction (not that there was much of it to start with). It's more controllable, moves slower, is more forgiving. And supposedly gives you more "choices" (by removing all the hard ones the rest became equal and suddenly more of them are viable). So: exactly what euromasses ordered.

RollFTG is a more typical and "pure" engine building game, which also makes it stand out less between all the engine building euros compared to RFTG.


Oh, and I won. By 20% margin. Got an allien starting world, built a few cheap worlds next, got some red dice, was lucky to get one 6 value development built in 2 turns (which allowed 2 coloured dice to be relocated anywhere) and the tableau pretty much played itself.

A few day later I went to one of our open gaming events (which I avoided since the post tabletopday collapse) and joined the international table. Always a good idea. There were 5 of us - 1 normal Slovenian (actually 2 of them but in succession), 2 talkative Slovenians (we are a rarity), 1 Spanish señorita and Ken from U.S. (He said something something Minnesota, something midwest, was it eastwest, anyhow I said "near the lakes?", he said, yeah, right next to the big one. So now you know). We played Catch a Falling Star which went over better than I expected, pure joy, no gamerz' elitism. Gloobz went over pretty well also. And it was my first play of:

Sheriff of Nottingham 8.5

Quote:
It's a smuggling game - you're merchants bringing stuff across the border (or in this version into a city), declaring what's in your bag and having trouble if the inspection finds anything you didn't claim to be there. However the inspector (sheriff) has a problem, if they open a bag and everything is legal. You can bribe the sheriff offering them money, delivered goods, potential goods (ha!) - to not check your bag, or maybe somebody else's, or whatever you wish. The trick is that any deal made for the current round is binding. This lays down the framework for a player driven hilarious game about bluffing and negotiating (kinda sorta). And as with best games of this type the groupthink grows with the game and the group. Anybody claiming to find "optimal strategies" is just formulating their groupthink that can be countered. You just need to reach that equilibrium where you're not sure if a certain move is honest, a bluff, a counter-bluff or a counter-counter-bluff. Light roleplaying helps, I mean, it's an excuse to do stupid things before other player's noses.

I'll try to get over the hideous front cover art, will see if I'll manage. Oh and the theme is pretty pedestrian as well.


3 extroverts behind the table was a good idea and it was nice to see how the groupthink developed. First they tried bringing the sheriff, but that made them suspicios and they opened the bags. Then I manage to bring contraband home with "only two chickens,sire. Only two? Yep, they don't breed well this time of year. Oh okay then.".
The next level was "I give you one of my 5 apples if you don't check the apples".
The next level was the same with the reply "there are no apples in there, are they?". Maybe you give me one of your cheeses from the stand.
So I went exploiting how to make legal goods sound as suspicions as possible. usually with - there's five cheeses in there and I'll give you an apple if you don't check. So, no cheese at all, well how about two apples? No, kids would be hungry, got a lot of the sire. So, they've opened it and everything was legit. Ha! (Actually I pulled this trick 3 times, people never learn).
But the funniest was the finale - me being the sheriff the last round. I confiscated some contraband, let the other through and went to deal with the apple merchants (both fighting for majority in the apple business).
"5 apples in here"
"No, they aren't"
"You see me take three from the pile"
"so there's maybe two apples in there"
"I'll give you 5 if you don't check mine, but check his"
"I'll give you three goods if you leave mine and check his"

So they escalated their bids and oh my I was having a blast. Both had contraband of course. A lot of it. Of course. I just wanted to get my cut.
"but sire, you have to understand"
"Look, I'm just a government official, they don't pay me a lot, so... Don't hate me, hate the system. We were talking two chickens and an apple I believe."

I got some 20 coins worth of stuff, plus the confiscated contraband of one player. Ha! Yeah, turns out people were panicking in the last round, each trying to get illegal stuff across.

I only got one majority and no second place, but I won. On money and chickens.
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22. Board Game: Fail! [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Andrew
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I failed again this week. If I'm lucky I'll have something to write about this week - or maybe not, again.
 
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