GCL 226: In Memoriam
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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Houston
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the GCL Mafia wiki page. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

Our current roster in order of preparation (next week's poster in bold):

charlest
Thesp
Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
Beloch
Happymrdave
captainraffi
fdubois
touchstonethefool
bobcatpoet

The first few items are intended to foster discussion.

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of May 18-24 2015. List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions. Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

Rules for the list are:
1) A weekly game is spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.

2) Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.

3) A top five question is posed by the previous poster and answered by the current poster. These top fives are usually game-related, but can include other topics as well.
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1. Board Game: For the People [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:714]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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For most of us in GCL Mafia, this weekend marks Memorial Day. While nowadays it seems to mean "grilling," it's always good to remember Memorial Day was founded in 1868 as Decoration Day as a way to remember those who died in the American Civil War.

There will be game-related questions below, but I think this is an opportunity to share the experiences of family and friends. All of us have someone close to us who served or someone somewhere in the family tree.

There was a Fitzwater who served in the Revolutionary War (we had his musket up until about 15 years ago when financial difficulties forced its sale). Both my grandfathers served in the Army post-WWII; my father was very nearly born on a base in Germany. My grandfather died when I was in first grade. My grandmother became good friends with a man named Bill. As part of a history class project, I got to interview him about his service. He was part of the force that took back the Philippines and invaded Japan. It was fascinating to hear his stories.
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2. Board Game: A Brief History of the World [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1610]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
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Historical-theme games, yay or nay?

Do games themed or based on real events have extra responsibility to stay true to the source material (unless not doing so is the point) than games with other themes?
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3. Board Game: Case Blue [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:2266] [Average Rating:8.24 Unranked]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
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Wargames tend to be very polarizing. So, do you enjoy them? Or no?

Bonus questions:
1. Dedicated wargamers like to think their games are more complicated than even the heaviest euros. Are they correct? If so, is that a good thing?
2. Does the historicity of wargames draw you in or turn them off? Do they help you understand the complicated, messy decisions made in a war?
3. What do you think of the crowd at the wargaming forum?
4. Most people seem to think "historical game = wargame." Fair or unfair?
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4. Board Game: Blackbeard [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:3263]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
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There are themes (like pirates) that have one foot in the real and one in the fantastic. Which side do you tend to fall on when it comes to these tweeners?
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5. Board Game: Top 5 Rummy [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:8826]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
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Robin came up with many fantastic suggestions for a top five list. I'm going to do two of them and hope he remembers the others for next time.

Top Five Games For Playing When It's Already Too Late to be Playing Games

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Hey, the restaurant is closing. Oh, one game of werewolf? Yeah, we can probably sneak that in.

Loopin' Louie: This is actually the perfect time for it. People are tired, possibly slap happy, and things can get really silly. And it tends to attract an audience, which adds a delighful sense of chaos.

Skull: Pretty tiles! And you can play it completely randomly and still kind of do well.

The Resistance: Avalon: Same idea as werewolf, but for when you want to pretend you can do it in 15 minutes.

Tichu: It's my partner's fault! She's tired and making mistakes!
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6. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:346]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Top Five Games That Take 4+ Hours

The Republic of Rome: It takes a lot of work and adjustment; the rules as written (even the living rules) can lead to a frustrating experience and there's enough luck involved you can get completely screwed through no fault of your own. But when it works? Magic. You're totally focused on what's going on the entire time, even if you're not actively doing anything. You're never sure what the others are thinking or when they're going to try to strike. You really do have to work with the others to make sure Rome doesn't fall, but you have to do it in a way that furthers your own position. Just great.

Die Macher: Again, this takes a little work. I think it's best to look at the three different editions of the rules and pick out the best features of each. But it's still a wonderful game that really rewards planning and strategy as well as being able to talk your way into (and out of) situations. I have never not completely enjoyed this.

Here I Stand/Virgin Queen: These sister games can drag a bit, but there's just enough forced cooperation here to keep you interested in what's going on. I love the historical integration and the true asymmetry of the different powers. You get to have religious debates for victory points! How is that not fun? I mean, as long as your debated isn't getting burned at the stake, that is...

18xx: I haven't played enough to have a specific preference, but I find these games extremely satisfying. You're planning for the endgame at the very beginning, but you can't ignore what's happening now or you won't have the cash to keep going. It's a delicate balance, and of course someone could completely wreck you. Also, trains. Woo woo!

Princes of the Renaissance: This won't always take four hours, but it can. I knew this game was for me when I was told I could strategically start a war with the intention of losing it. THIS is the game of being the power behind the power, of being the person in the shadows who pulls strings. Sorry, I'm drooling a little.

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7. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
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I'm going to summarize the last two weeks (I was hardly on the Internet at all last week).

Twilight Struggle: I had a good run at the USSR, so I took the US. I was OK with my position after the Early War; -7 in VP, Europe Dominated, not a terrible position in Middle East, good position in Asia, but I simply got buried by cards. I got, I think, one decent card in the next two turns and a bunch of scoring cards. My rolls came up empty and I could do nothing as the USSR scored an automatic victory. Very annoying.

Mage Wars Arena: I got my revenge in Mage Wars, with the Beastmaster running roughshod over the Wizard. It was only his second game, and he didn't take advantage of the Wizard's capacity to screw with the other mage.

Star Wars: The Card Game x2: The Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Navy split two games. The Navy couldn't get out any units that actually damaged people in the first game but had its engine clicking in the second.

Washington's War: Crap, I'm bad at this. I really don't have much of a grasp for the strategy. I think the Americans don't want to get into too many battles. I had the Continental Congress dispersed twice and didn't get the French involved until the final turn. Related: I lost.

Terra Mystica x2: Two wins! The Halflings held off the Riverwalkers, 155-150 in a four-player game. The guy who was the Alchemists has this tendency to make the move that utterly screws you, which is fine, except he won't stop talking about it. He'll either say, "I had no choice," which is almost never true, or he'll try to convince the screwed player how it actually helps him. He tried to do this after boning over the Swarmlings, but I and the other guy were having none of it. The second game was five players with the auction variant. Strong factions were drawn: Alchemists, Nomads, Witches, Engineers, and Yetis. I got the Yetis. The other players were totally determined to prevent me from getting power. The flipside to that was they weren't really blocking me, either, so I was able to expand without much difficulty. I won pretty handily.

The Resistance: Avalon x3: The first game was not great; I was evil, we lost, and biffed on Merlin. The second I was also evil, but Merlin was really obvious. The third game... oh, the third game. I was able to add Excalibur to the mix. I was good. We lost in a sweep, but holy crap, I freaking love Excalibur. I rarely get to put it in, but it adds so much chaos and mistrust, it's intoxicating. I didn't even care that I lost. It was so much fun. The best part was they kept giving the sword to the same person, even though hardly anyone trusted her.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf x a few: Nothing too notable to say here, except a new player was a Werewolf and got Troublemade out of that role. They asked him who the other wolf was and he pointed at me, which was interesting, as I was the Minion, not a Werewolf. I didn't mind getting killed.

Medici: This was fine, but I really don't like the once-around auction style. It feels like artifice for the sake of it. Kind of jarring. But it is hard to find games that will play six and aren't social.

There was also a prototype for a friend's game, which was pretty bad. What made it memorable was this random girl joined us. She... didn't really look like she fit in. Lots of makeup, nails, that deal. Some of the guys thought she was really hot (not my wife, not my type). Anyway, after a while, she started going into some spiel about how she was going to make "five figures residually" every month and wanted our numbers so she could give us more information. You could feel the emotional drop at the table when she asked us. I excused myself to the bathroom, as did a friend. We agreed we should be slightly offended because she probably thought she could charm some nerds into her pyramid scheme. Apparently she didn't realize we tend to be pretty smart...
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8. Board Game: Pictomania [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:593]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Homeland: The Game 2
Pictomania 2 NEW!
Ascension: Dawn of Champions 1
Blue Moon Legends 1 NEW!
Lewis & Clark 1
Modern Art 1
Qwirkle 1
Show Manager 1

Blue Moon Legends was lackluster. Whoever said it was an overblown version of War was pretty much right on. Knizia, I am disappoint.

Pictomania was awesome. Holy shit was it funny. We had some serious laughing to the point of crying moments as we would angrily ask what in the hell the other person was drawing and vehemently contradict and mock whatever they told us was. Here is a picture of what Matt drew for "queen". (Note: Somewhat NSFW. Cartoony boobs present.)

I was glad to get two more plays of Homeland in. Unfortunately, it seemed like others weren't that into it and there was off-topic talk during others' turns that seemed to disengage everyone from the game. I think there is a good game in there and really want to play it with experienced players. I think our plays suffered, in part, from people not being familiar enough with the game and thus making it an easy win for the terrorist after about four or five rounds. I read up on it on the forums (where Charlie posted some good information!) and it seems to be the consensus that the game is easy for the terrorist when everyone is new. We also were trying to stop all the threats instead of just the higher impact ones. I hope future plays will lead to smarter play and thereby more fun/engagement.

After not playing for almost a year, I had been considering getting rid of Lewis & Clark. The last time I played, it was with four and the game dragging on really soured my previous enjoyment of the game. This was so much so that I had no interest in playing it after that. However, I'm glad I gave it another try. It was just Matt and me, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable game. I was reminded how much I liked it and how interesting the use of cards/pseudo deckbuilding is in it. That said, it definitely suffers from long turns. Unlike the AP-proneness of Five Tribes though, you can at least plan your turns in L&C while others are going. So, the moral of the story is that I knew I would never try it with five and I now won't play it with four. BGG says it's best with three, which I can see, but I still think it could drag a bit more than I'd like then. I'd try it with that given the chance though.

---

Best news of the week: I am going to be able to go to Gen Con after all! Long story short, I'll be helping Chris out at his booth (yay, exhibitor badge!) and I have some miles to use that will make my flights cheaper. I'm super excited.
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9. Board Game: Shadows of Malice: Seekers of a Hidden Light [Average Rating:8.16 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.16 Unranked]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Shadows of Malice: Seekers of a Hidden Light x4 (new)
Greed x1
Merchants & Marauders: Seas of Glory x1

Eclipse Review on the Review Corner




SoM: Seekers of a Hidden Light
This expansion comes out at GenCon and it's pretty damn excellent. It kind of fills out the base game with some more options and things to do in addition to hunting monsters, but it doesn't get in the way or add a bunch of heft. Really a great addition for any SoM fans I'd heavily recommend it. Will have a full review up sometime near the end of this week most likely.


Greed
I think this is my favorite drafting game. Just saying.


On My Mind
Been working my ass off this week to get my re-themed Shiv finished. Adding nearly 80 more cards to the design and prototyping them all has been exhausting, not to mention modifying the existing cards. I have everything finished electronically, need to assemble now and try to get a playtest in this Wednesday before Origins next week.

Depending on how much time we have on Wednesday I may get to finally play Camp Grizzly too, which I'm really looking forward to.

HOLY SHIT Fury Road was great. Everything I imagined. Senseless plot, amazing action, spectacular actual special effects that didn't rely wholly on CGI. There were so many great scenes I had to work hard to remember all of them when reminiscing about it. Stuff like the hand to hand brawl with Max chained to that guy are easy to forget due to how balls out the whole thing was. Going to try to play some Thunder Road soon.

Also caught the Imitation Game which I enjoyed but didn't love. Wife convinced me to watch Horrible Bosses 2, avoid that. First one was funny and I love Charlie Day, but man the second one was crap. Also watched Lone Survivor last night in honor of memorial day and thought it was just ok. I'm a huge Ben Foster fan so his inclusion made it more watchable. I still think Hurt Locker was the definitive Iraq/Afghanistan war film and American Sniper/Lone Survivor are a huge cut below.

Hey Raf - did you grab those King of New York/King of Tokyo promos at Geekway? I don't know if they had any left by the time you got there but I pretty much paid for my pass selling them this week.
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10. Board Game: 1889: History of Shikoku Railways [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:1273]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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An 18XX and Eldritch Horror? Yay gaming!

New:
 6   The Game: Spiel... so lange du kannst! NEW!

Repeat:

 9.5   1889 x2
 8.5   Eldritch Horror
 5   Citadels


So after playing The Game, I have now tried all the SdJ candidates for this year. This one is a fun filler, and since it's quick and easy I'd play again, but it certainly didn't blow me away. It is reminiscent of Hanabi in that it's a cooperative card game where you can't share full information, so I think that is working against in the actual competition. I also think it's not as interesting as Hanabi and doesn't have nearly as many tough choices - I felt many of the things I did here were essentially on auto-pilot.

I'm pretty comfortable saying I think Machi Koro should win the SdJ this year, both as my guess and as what I think should win out of the nominees. Colt Express is a decent intro to programming games and has lavish production values, but I didn't find it all that compelling as a game. The Game is fun but I don't think it really brings anything new to the table or has enough substance to even warrant repeat family play.

1889 was great, as usual. We played with 3, and this was my 3rd (and 4th) play, I think. We started our first game out and one of the players tried to hold off a round on starting a company (I don't remember if it was because he spent too much on privates or because he just wanted to try and get a 3 first OR?). He tried to ride my coattails and bought into my company, as I looked like I would have the most profitable runs turn 2. However, he and the other player miscounted the trains, and I was able to buy a 3 (despite operating last), and I was able to dump the almost totally drained company on him and start a par 100 company in SR 3. We called the game at that point as one player was completely shut out and I had a significant advantage over the other player as well - it's possible he could have turned the tables on me, but it didn't seem likely, and we didn't want the 3rd person to be that screwed over from the get-go.

We tried again and the subsequent game was nail-bitingly close for two of us. I started out with high-value routes and pushed up my stock prices, but another player was able to sell their privates first, and was able to get some stronger companies out. One of my companies got a bit too trashed and it was able to build a nice little nest egg, and I started a second and tied them together. Unfortunately my profitable routes weren't quite good enough and started eyeing jumping the trains more and starting the final company... but both of those opportunities were handed to another player. Doh. In the end I pushed the trains I had as hard as I could to try and win on stock price and I barely was able to do so. I won by something like 17 when the final scores for the two of us were in the 6300s. That's low enough that it could have been a misplaced chip at some point, or if not that, then basically any one mistake by either of us flipped the results. Whew. Good times.


Eldritch Horror was a 4p game vs Shub-Niggurath. It was a good time but surprisingly... easy. Once you know the game the base old ones/outer gods other than Cthulhu aren't that bad. I do still think the game is mechanically better than Arkham Horror, although you really need the extra cards from expansion 1. I have only played a half-dozen times and I was able to recognize several repeats. Also found a couple rules we had perpetually played wrong in the past, but one essentially didn't make a difference and the other we actually made the game harder for ourselves. Still a good time and I enjoyed playing. We also managed to get the game done in less than 3 hours, (probably 2h40m), which was nice to see.

Citadels closed out our Saturday night, although I had forgotten how much this drags with more than 5. We played with 7 and I had to call it quits halfway though at midnight (we had played for about an hour after rules explanation and the person who had the most buildings was at 5, but he wasn't winning). I wouldn't rule out playing this again totally, but I think I will refrain from playing with more than 5. But at 5... I think there are many games I'd probably rather play instead? I think I might be done with Citadels and I have decided I'm definitely selling my copy, even if the box is small.
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11. Board Game: The Game [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:898]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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 9   7 Wonders
 9   Witness
 8   Eldritch Horror NEW!
 8   Steam NEW!
 7   The Game: Spiel... so lange du kannst! x5 NEW!

Quite a few new plays this week, and an awesome Thursday game night that pulled in 9 people at different tables.

I mentioned The Game: Spiel... so lange du kannst! on last week's list regarding SdJ nominees. I've now played it at 2, 3, and 4 players, including several times at 2 players, as Kristen has really become interested in the game. It's...okay, I guess. A neat time waster, but nothing approaching SdJ worthy, I think. Additionally, it felt way too chaotic with 4 players, and I have a hard time imaging 5 players being any good at all. It's worth trying because it's relatively easy to try (grab a copy of 6 Nimmt! and spend 10 minutes of your life), but I don't think it's going to amaze anyone.

I finally got a chance to play Steam for the first time. If you don't recall, I adore Railroad Tycoon and despise Age of Steam. So how would I react to a game somewhere between the two, but closer to Age of Steam? Actually, pretty well! It should be noted that we played the base game, which strips out a few features which make the game closer to Age of Steam (notably the repeated auctions for roles, the obligation to take loans at the start of the turn, and railroad maintenance cost at the end of turn). It turns out these changes are pretty critical towards my enjoyment of the game. I still think I enjoy Railroad Tycoon better, but I definitely want to give Steam more of a chance, and I don't have any interest whatsoever in the "Standard" version of it which adds back in the auctions and the loans-before-the-whole-turn aspects.

I also had the good fortune to try Eldritch Horror for the first time this weekend, as Kristen and I got a babysitter and got to go out for the evening. Despite a good bit of being interrupted repeatedly in the game during discussions (grr!), I liked the streamlined play of Eldritch Horror when compared to Arkham Horror, particularly as it pertains to players always having something to do and not missing turns from being trapped by monsters or being stuck in the street and missing an encounter. There's a lot to like, but I couldn't help but think that the replayability for the game is significantly lessened for it when compared to its patriarch, which despite its many plays has not seen a dropoff in replayability. Still, I'd happily play it, but feel no need to supplant (or even complement) Arkham Horror with it in my collection.

We managed a perfect win in Witness for the first time, despite me nearly blowing it in the end. The case material is nothing short of brilliant, and its rating has been moved up to match just how much I enjoy the game. I also need to get out 7 Wonders more often, as it's just so good at providing interesting choices in a short timeframe.
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12. Board Game: Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness [Average Rating:8.26 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.26 Unranked]
Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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Nice to be back. Work has been bonkers of late, but I hope less so in the next few weeks.

Finally got a play in, albeit just the two:

Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness x 1

Love Letter x1 (or 5, if you count each round)

But numbers of hours made up for lack of numbers of games.

6 of us played EH/MoM, but I had to finish the thing solo in the end. A little more than 6 hours, not including setup and tear down.

Lost, miserably, of course. Did not even complete the 2nd (of 4) mysteries.

But interestingly, adding in both expansions made the journey worthwhile. MoM in particular introduces some great new flavour so that there is an even greater sense of story than I'd usually expect from AH/EH.

Still not sure I believe the buggers who say they win 70% of the time, but hey ho. Am happy to be crappy.

LL - a whitewash for me. My other half took 5 games, 1 person 2, and 2 of us none. Sometimes the cards hate you.


This Friday I go to the UK Games Expo for 48 hours of gaming so I hope at least to compete a little with you guys' huge lists come next week.

Also: Mad Max Fury Road: film of the year. Star Wars has no hope. He said controversially
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13. Board Game: Lost Legacy: Second Chronicle – Vorpal Sword & Whitegold Spire [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2410] [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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New Games

Lost Legacy: Second Chronicle – Vorpal Sword & Whitegold Spire x2
Pyramid Raiders x1

Old Games

Lost Legacy: Flying Garden x1
Antidote x1
Blood Bound x2
Little Devils x1

Only two new games this week. I sadly didn't get a chance to try the Whitegold Spire set of Lost Legacy, but we did get the Vorpal Sword set out twice. It's really nasty! Lots of elimination going on. I also paired it with the Flying Garden set for a first ever play with the Megamix rules, as we had 5 for our second game. I think the elimination aspect dramatically helped the pace of the game, as it flew by pretty quickly (I was worried that doubling the size of the deck would slow the game down).

Also, a friend of mine broke out Pyramid Raiders, which is basically Fearsome Floors-lite. It was cute.
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14. Board Game: A Fistful of Dinero [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:9756]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Coup
A Fistful of Dinero New!

I had a crazy week of traveling after Geekway, so I didn't get to do much gaming.

Coup
A college friend got married in the Atlanta 'burbs on Saturday, and then we had another mutual friend's bachelor party Sunday night. My college buddies have enjoyed Coup, Love Letter, and The Resistance in the past so I threw a few games in my suitcase in case we had some down moments. The wedding was an early Southern Baptist wedding that was over by 3, so relatively sober we headed over to Danny's place to spend the night before going into the city on Sunday. After dinner, one of the guys asked to play the games I'd brought so we sat down and played 8-9 rounds of 6 player Coup. I have the original City/State version so I don't have the Inquisitor role, but I do have the Reformation expansions. 4 of us had played, and Danny's wife and sister were new to Coup/gaming. Everyone enjoyed it once we got the hang of it. As always, new players were reluctant to lie so it made the first few rounds a little dull until suddenly the light switch went on. Everyone really enjoyed it.

Fistful of Dinero
After about an hour/hour and a half someone asked if we could try the other game I had. Given that only one of them had ever even played Munchkin I was a little nervous that they might get turned off by the relative complexity (compared to Coup), and I saw the standard "confused Muggle face" at first, but after the first round it clicked for everyone and we had a blast. Everyone liked it, and at least two people remarked out of the blue "Man. This is a really well done game". A lot of the little thematic touches were great and helped weave a story of sorts while we played, and the programming worked really well. I had no chips going into the last few rounds when we'd whittled it down to 3 players, but was in a decent position to eliminate both my opponents with a single stick of dynamite. Unfortunately, I couldn't successfully throw the card despite 3 attempts and Dan brought about the end of the round with a Mad Dash. Throwing was surprisingly difficult, and no one had a successful toss the whole game. Not sure if was simple lack of coordination or if the fan/crossbreeze in the house was stronger than it felt. Really fun though, and if it hadn't been 2 AM we would have played again. Very glad I picked it up, and I'm pretty sure both of my primary groups will like it. One for sure.

On my Mind
My little brother graduated high school on Tuesday, and it was cool to head back to FL for 36 hours for that. I'm really proud of him. He's going to St. John's Honor College in NYC with a really good scholarship, despite us all having been worried about his grades in the first couple of years. He really buckled down though (with a push from his new GF) and now has an awesome opportunity. I definitely felt old seeing him and all his friends grow up. I'm about 10 years older than them so I remember them all from high school and college summers. On the one hand, it's neat to be able to sit and smoke a cigar with my brother but on the other I still picture him as a little dude following me around everywhere I went.
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15. Board Game: Struggle of Empires [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:335]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 8   Castles of Mad King Ludwig
 8   Struggle of Empires
 9   Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts
 N/A   Puzzle Strike NEW!
 N/A   Legendary: Villains – Marvel Deck Building Game NEW!
 N/A   Dungeon Dice NEW!
 7   Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland
 10   The Duke x3

Castles continues to be a fun game to play. However, the skill gap is clearly an issue. While my group had different winners the first few times, I've become the winner of the last 5 games, because I've got the most experience with it now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Struggle of Empires was the big game of the week. We had five players, which is the fewest I would play with. None of us are experienced enough to really know how/why to manipulate alliances; for my own part, I was the last person to choose teams, which meant I was on the first team of 3 people. Since there were no slavers out, I was fine with going last. The rest of the match was particularly weird because no slave tokens ever came up.

One of the guys came out to a roaring lead, solidifying a position in every European country. I was able to lock him out of the Americas, but had almost no foothold in Europe myself. For once I decided against any army/navy training; I bought a single Navigation tile, but otherwise took money tokens as opposed to combat technologies. While that did not help in the first few rounds, the last war consisted of almost everyone else taking Governmental Reform, while I could continue attacking and taking territory. This propelled me to a massive lead in the end.

RFTG, Puzzle Strike, Legendary, and Dungeon Dice were all online matches. My coworker who used to game with my family convinced me to buy Tabletop Simulator. The interface is a bit weird, but I was honestly impressed with it. They basically just put objects on a board, and it's up to you to actually know/play the game. In that sense, it's a very precise way to play games online. I learned that apparently my coworker really likes deck builders; I'll have to find out what other things are available and have him play games I actually enjoy next time.


Finally, one of my wife's friends from our undergrad is visiting us currently, and those are what the TtR and The Duke plays are from. She plays games regularly with her family (the usual gateways of Catan, TtR, some Betrayal at House on the Hill) so I went out on a limb with The Duke. She liked it a lot. After a few quick games where I captured her Duke, our third match was a nice long 30+ minute game where she got to actually see and use most of her pieces. While I did best her in the end, there were a few very close moments in the game. I wouldn't be surprised to see her pick up a copy to show her brothers the game.
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16. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Plays since May 19, 2015

 10.   Dominion x28 (Goko)
 7.0   Onirim x6 (solo)
 10.   Brass x2 (OOTH)
 9.0   YINSH x2
 7.0   Alhambra with the Magical Buildings NEW! to Aerial
 7.0   Thurn and Taxis NEW! to Aerial
 6.5   Chaos
 6.5   Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary NEW! to Aerial

Lots more Dominion this weekend while Aerial was napping. About half the time I feel like I'm playing pretty well, and the other half I'm doing stupid things (and/or misclicking because I'm unfamiliar with the interface). If you ever play on Goko, get the Goko Salvager extension, being able to see the log at a glance is very helpful.

mafiascum 7-(-4) dough - Most interesting game of the week, due to all the nasty attacking. Not often you get five attacks on a board and play all five. Mercenary is stupid-good in this one (and in general).
mafiascum 36-11 peiling - Notable for the draws I got early. 2/5 split on a Mountebank board (yes!), second Mountebank on turn 3 (yes!), 2 again on turn 4 (uh oh), both Mountebanks in turn 5 (bad)... and he has a Watchtower in hand (ouch). Anyway, I eventually got back on track, and opponent tried to build an engine with a junked deck.
Steviespielt94 35-34 mafiascum - Tunnel/Wandering Minstrel is cute, but there's no draw (or +Buy other than the Ruined Market), and I didn't thin enough to take advantage of the Golds... plus Wandering Minstrel discards the Golds anyway (and leaves the Ruins) so it's all a bit counterproductive. Anyway, could have tied or won if turn 19 wasn't a complete bust.

Posting about the Onirim expansions last week got me wanting to try them all again. Results so far:

Base (Win); Book-Hard (Win); Towers (Win); Dark-4 (Win); Glyphs (Win); Dreamcatcher (Loss)

The Dark Premonitions game wasn't that interesting, because I drew all the Happy Dreams early (and used them to cancel three of the Dark Premonitions - the fourth was the one that removes all the remaining Happy Dreams). Glyphs was about as good as I remember (and I forgot to mention the other benefit on last week's list - discarding a Glyph lets you look at the top 5 cards and claim a door if there are any, and then put the cards on the bottom; combos really nicely with prophecies). Dreamcatcher and Towers are more frustrating than fun.

We played Alhambra and Chaos last Tuesday - she didn't care for Alhambra so much (even accounting for it not being as good two player). Chaos is a cute abstract that she got me for Christmas; we had played it a couple times then, but not since.

The two games of YINSH were with Aerial as well, but also one of my online games finished yesterday and it was notable in that I was able to claim three lines in two turns for the win (I was set up to claim two no matter what he did the turn before, but he ignored the threat in such a way that I could claim one and force the other two).

We also played some connection games Friday - she enjoyed Thurn and Taxis a bit more I think (and won that one). I told her next time we play games I'm going to have her pick from among the games she has played exactly once - that list is starting to get long. The Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary components are really nice, but it's still not a game I care to play that often.
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17. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:112]
Stephen Smith
United States
Jackson
MS
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Games Played:

Parfum
Endeavor
Splendor x2
The Last Spike
Dimension x2
Spinderella
Push-a-Monster
7 Wonders x2
Unspeakable Words
Railways of North America
Spin Monkeys
Lanterns
Terra Mystica with Fire and Ice
Machi Koro
Monkeys Need Love, Too
Thrashcar

Despite changing jobs recently, the family was able to get to BGG.FAM this past weekend. We had a lot of fun, though I'm not sure how much gaming some of the kids did. I ran the virtual flea market, which was small and not much work. I found a number of items at the other flea market. That, too, was more sedate with the smaller crowd. We did get to play a number of new games.

Parfum: This was the first game we played when we got there because Queen was running a "tournament" where the winners at each table got to keep the game. Christine won (handily), so it has now been added to our collection. It's fairly harmless resource collection and conversion game. Christine made a good guess about what would be coming up and was able to really cash in.

Spinderella: This was one of the SdJ kid games. It uses magnets and a spider hanging from a second board to capture players' ants racing toward the finish. It's really random and you can get hosed by the dice. It's still fun to capture another player's ants.

Push-a-Monster: This is another of the SdJ kid games that is actually a really good dexterity game. We had a lot of fun with this. It will be joining the collection in the future.

Dimension: Is a marble stacking game that the kids enjoyed. We played a scoring rule incorrectly which resulted in me not liking it as much. With the correct scoring, I like it much better. It only plays four out of the box, so I am likely to get two sets so the whole family can play at one time.

Lanterns: This was a nice tile laying game with mechanics similar to the game M. You collect lanterns and trade in sets for VP. It also apparently was a Mensa Mindgames winner this year.

The Last Spike: This is a train game currently on Kickstarter. It is supposed to be an update of a game from the 1970's. It is very similar to Acquire in a lot of ways. Our game was marred by the demo not having nearly enough money: The bank only had 180,000 but we needed nearly 400,000 by the end.

Monkeys Need Love, Too: This is fairly random, take-that card game. The fun comes from the cards and doing things to other players. It theoretically can never end. Once the end game is triggered, everyone draws a card from a second deck, some of which basically say "You lose". In our demo game, Christine and I both ended up in jail ("You Lose") while the winner escaped with zero points and "won". Christine liked it, so we ended up with a copy.

Thrashcar: This is another take that game with a racing theme. This is really not about the race, it's about doing things to the other players. If you can do that it's kind of fun; if not, it's less fun. There's also some interesting humor in the cards.

Unspeakable Words: We played this during a library shift. It's an interesting little word game with a Cthulhu theme. You create words to score points based on cards you have. Then you roll a d20. If you don't roll higher than the word you scored, you lose one of your Cthulhu minis. When they are all gone, you lose. Since we were playing a shortened game (to 50 instead of 100), I plowed through with little concern about the minis and won. I think it would have been a lot different if playing to a higher point total.

Spin Monkeys: This is a really chaotic game of monkeys in bumper cars picking up fruit. We played with 8 so it was really chaotic. Because of that, planning ahead is of limited utility.
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