GCL Amoeba 222 - Heavy Games
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!


If you found us randomly (via subscription, perhaps), you're welcome to join in with constructive conversation -- we're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) Read the links above for more info. (If you're shy, just thumb the list so we can see who's stalking us :-) )

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Jeroen (jmdsplotter) mb
Eric (Eric Brosius)
Carlos (Sprocket314)
Jevon (cadavaca)
Joshua (Joshuaaaaaa)
Mikko (msaari)
Doug (Phrim)
Toms (Painkiller)
Garry (garry_rice)
Larry (larryjrice)

Amoeba alumni and friends are always welcome to contribute!

Having attended the inaugural Heavy Con over the weekend, I thought it might be interesting to explore the concept of heavy games a bit more in this group.
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1. Board Game: Heavy Hitters [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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How would you define the term "heavy game"?
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2. Board Game: Heavy Cardboard (fan expansion to Age of Steam) [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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What are some of your heavier games that you most enjoy playing?
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3. Board Game: Heavy Steam [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:5471]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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What aspect(s) of heavy games make it difficult to get to the table?
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4. Board Game: Heavy Gear Fighter [Average Rating:5.63 Overall Rank:12856]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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As it was Memorial Day here in the USA and many war games are considered to be on the heavier side, which "war game" do you most enjoy playing? (Yes, I'm aware that there is quite a variation to the definition of war game as well).
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5. Board Game: Weights & Measures [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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And finally, just for fun, what is the heaviest game in actual weight that you own? We're talking physical weight, not mental weight.
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6. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:378]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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(FYI, I'm going to include the games played Sunday to keep my Heavy Con games played together instead of my usual Sunday through Saturday reporting. Games played at Heavy Con are underlined.

New to Me:

Pax Porfiriana d10-8
Arkwright d10-8
Broom Serviced10-6
Facts in Five d10-4
Francis Drake d10-5
KeYstoNe d10-7
Saturn d10-6
Northern Pacific d10-7
Savanna Trick d10-5
Conflict of Plants d10-8

Return Visits:

Among the Stars d10-6
Container d10-9
Dominant Species d10-0
Eldritch Horror d10-6
Glen More d10-8
Moongha Invaders: Mad Scientists and Atomic Monsters Attack the Earth! d10-8
Orcs Orcs Orcs d10-7
Rococo d10-7
Three Kingdoms Redux d10-9
Tigris & Euphrates d10-7

Musings:

Enjoyed Heavy Con thoroughly and appreciated the opportunity to play longer and/or heavier games including some new to me that I've been wanting to play! Food was best I've ever had at a gaming Con - BBQ chicken one night, macaroni and cheese bar another night, etc.

Glad I got the chance to learn and play Arkwright before my friend Jason sold his copy in auction! I was able to purchase his copy to make sure one stayed in the area and now the challenge will be to get it played here being as it is a 4-5 hour affair for the full game.

Pax Porfiriana is another game I've owned for a while and wanted to learn from someone else! Finally had the opportunity to be taught here and enjoyed our play. We went the distance and it came down to money. I didn't win, but I played a card that prevented another person from an autowin possibility (of course, right after I played that card I became the recipient of everyone's attacks)!

Played my worst ever game of Dominant Species. Been too long since I played! Also played an interesting prototype (Conflict of Plants) that reminds a bit of Dominant Species but is its own game. Quite interesting and I hope it gets published!

Wasn't really looking to play Francis Drake but it was that or go back to the hotel (or get into a long protracted game of selecting a game)! It was fine but would be much more interesting if the three voyages could have built on each other. Meh.

KeYstoNe is interesting but I'm starting to get a bit worn out of Japanese trick taking / card games. Still, one I would be interested in acquiring if it became readily available. I was less inclined to be so inclined with Savanna Trick.

I'm not convinced Facts in Five is much of a game, but it does make for quite a fun activity to do with a group and we had a blast.

Kicking myself over Three Kingdoms Redux where I tried to get to cute with my action selection and lost the game on a tiebreaker. I'm pretty convinced the worst thing that can happen in a long game is to lose on a tiebreaker. I'm sure it isn't fun to play a long game if one is losing badly as well (as in Dominant Species), but one can still try different things when losing badly. Great game but a frustrating loss!

Enjoyed Northern Pacific - it is over almost before it begins. Not quite sure what to think.

I prefer Witch's Brew over Broom Service. Broom Service has less choices on role selection and forces more conflict and/or penalty points. Interesting still, but not much there. We finished our game and rules explanation in under 55 minutes.
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7. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:595]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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 9.0   Agricola
 8.5   Burgle Bros. x2
 8.0   Ginkgopolis
 7.8   Rallyman
 6.5   Ticket to Ride
 5.5   Forbidden Island x2

NOTES:

Agricola - Started a game on Boitejeaux to try it out there (I do not like the interface...did not realize everything was in French with English pop-ups...it works, but probably won't play there again after this game). After starting one there, I decided I better practice it on the iPad app (this week), so I am rapidly discovering just how much I've forgotten and just how poorly I have played this game. I still like it, but I'm nowhere close to playing it well...sigh.

Forbidden Island - Discovered that my local library is now loaning out some boardgames (this being one of them)...thinking it might be of interest to Caleb I borrowed it from the library and we played it twice and he enjoyed it - I'd still prefer playing other co-ops, but if Caleb likes it, I'll be happy to play it!

Burgle Bros. - These were two brutal games...but especially the first one...Caleb got himself stuck in a one way corridor sitting in a Foyer where the guard can see you from an adjacent tile...and I had to draw an event card since I was pinned by the guard and couldn't move which wound up forcing him to skip his turn, so in three consecutive turns he got hammered three times by the guard...I think we had maybe 5 tiles flipped on the first floor? We just called it a day and reshuffled the first floor cards and started a second game We had better success there until we got to the third floor where I promptly got caught a couple of times and lost us the game...we kept playing just to see what would happen...not much good apparently...I wound up getting caught 5 more times and Caleb was caught several times as wellshake Moral of the story: Do NOT let Caleb set up the walls on the floor how he wants too...there is a reason the designer doesn't set up the walls so you have one big loop the guard is constantly going around...

Enjoying Caleb's interest in games again...it will doubtless wane again in a week or two, but I enjoy it while he has it...he's also gotten quite good in Mario Kart on the Wii...I used to be able to beat him easily but the tables are turning, and nothing is certain anymore...sigh...my boy is growing up

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8. Board Game: 2038: Tycoons of the Asteroid Belt Expansion Set [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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 N/A   1914: Serbien Muss Sterbien -- In last week's list I described how I started the introductory scenario, playing solo. This week I played a little more, but came nowhere near finishing. Then I decided to put it away to make room for my daughter's birthday party. This game seems to have more of the feel of WWI operations than anything else I've played, so I'd be happy to play more extensively if I can find an opponent that wants to bang away at it for a while.

 8   Excape -- This has been one of my daughter's favorites for a long time. Saturday was her birthday and she and her husband hosted a game party at our house. We started off with a 5-player game of this. I really like the decisions not only about when to keep rolling and when to stop, but also about where to place your dice if you do stop before you bust.

 8   Mottainai -- A little later, my son-in-law and I were the only 2 people not playing a game, so I taught him this cool prototype. He beat me, but I was almost to the point of having a big score. It's a typical Carl Chudyk design, but more streamlined than most of his.

 10   Outpost -- A cry went up for one of my favorite games, and of course I had to play. it was an amazing game--close all the way, and with the winner not evident until the last moment. John went big into Titanium and bought two Outposts with large discounts. I saved going into Era II and got the first Scientists. You'd think this would be a big edge, but everyone was playing effectively. The key moment came when there were three Era III upgrades, one of each type, available for 4 players. First I put up a Planetary Cruiser, which Jeremiah got for about 195 as Nate and John stayed out of the bidding, hoping for the Moon Base. Then I got the Space Station for about 150. Finally the Moon Base went up for auction. Nate had 306, but John had 307, leaving Nate with no Era III upgrade, which was to prove fatal. If he had bid on the Planetary Cruiser, he could have had it, which would have won him the game. And on the very next turn, Jeremiah made it to 75 VP, surprising himself, as Nate and I were just behind with 73 and John was in the 60's. Jeremiah was as stunned as anyone that he was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

 6   Karesansui NEW! -- At the end of the evening, Mike wanted to teach me this unusual bidding game. We played a 5-player game with the Karesansui: Weeds, expansion, which I think detracts from the game by adding a small "take that" element. We bid aggressively and I took too many stones (I should have dropped out of the bidding a few times.) It's clever, but I didn't find myself eager for a replay.

 9   Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts -- We started Monday gaming at noon this week because of the holiday (my wife was out of town, so I didn't need to stay home to spend time with her.) We started with a game of this newish expansion of an old favorite. Dan had a good engine, but I just outpaced him, both of us scoring in the 40s as the other 3 people scored in the 20s.

 8   Quartermaster General -- This is a remarkable game. It's a 6-player wargame covering all of WWII that takes an hour, is simple enough for any gamer, has real decisions, and has some of the feel of the actual war. This time I played Italy for the first time (I've now played 4 times with a different power in each game.) Joe Huber had Japan and was completely unopposed in the Pacific, but the Allies managed to take Germany and Italy to win despite our huge lead in VPs.

 7   The Ravens of Thri Sahashri -- Joe Huber had a copy of this still in shrink and wanted to play again to see whether he should sell his copy or keep it. We played with him as Feth and me as Ren. I drew two white and two blue cards for the first dream, a tough combination, and we lost because I couldn't manage to convey to Joe the colors we needed. He decided he's happy to play but doesn't need to own it.

 9   2038: Tycoons of the Asteroid Belt Expansion Set -- Our big game of the day was a 5-player game of 2038: Tycoons of the Asteroid Belt with the expansion. It's my second favorite 18xx title, and a "heavy game" to boot. With 5 players it's best to use the expansion. Oddly, every private went for face value in the auction, partly because Kevin, as he often does, bought the "plug" early. With my $420 in starting cash, I got Independents #1 (Fast Buck) and #4 (Ore Crusher) together with the Asteroid League private, which pays $30 an OR, all at face value, leaving me with $60 in cash.

We started two corporations in SR 1: TSI, which Joe Rushanan and John Delaney each got 3 shares of, and Mining Robotics, which Joe Huber started. Fast Buck hit it big with a good Ice in OR 1.2, allowing it to buy a second ship, followed by a good Rare in OR 2.1, which it immediately claimed. I formed AL as soon as I could, which meant it finished with a good stock value, but unfortunately I didn't see a way to get the multiple ships that it had claims for.

Joe Huber, for his part, started 4 of the 9 corporations that we started (no one started Mars Mining) and bought a train over to force a "buy out of hand" purchase that put two permanent ships into MR. He was coming on strong, but I edged him out by just $94 on my better share value. I really enjoy this game.

 10   Saint Petersburg -- Marsha continues on her quest for expertise in this game, and after she listened to the podcast episode (The Long View: St. Petersburg) that Joe Huber and I did on it, she wanted to play a game. I was of course happy to join her, as was Bill. It was an interesting game, and Marsha and Bill both finished at 95 VP (with equal cash, giving them a tie) as I ended just 5 VP behind at 90.

 4   Kigi NEW! -- Steph had a copy of this lovely game, but for me it's too chaotic. I wouldn't mind the ability to place on other people's trees, and I wouldn't mind the significant luck of the cards, but both together is too much for me.

 8   Coloretto -- We finished with one quick game of this favorite filler of mine. Fortunately, Steph and Bill both like it too.

[Edit: To fix a grammar error]
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9. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:54]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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1 x _9_Fields of Arle
1 x _8_Lewis & Clark
1 x _8_Patchwork
1 x _7_Thebes

A quiet week, but at least we managed a second game of Fields of Arle. It's a fabulous game, I might consider rating it a 10.

I realised I had somehow completely missed At the Gates of Loyang – I had no idea about it. While writing a review of Fields of Arle, I mentioned it as well as other Rosenberg harvest games, and then read a bit more about it, and actually it sounds quite fascinating.

So, now I have it on order, along with promo copies of Cacao and Nations: The Dice Game.
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10. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:118]
Toms Leikums
Latvia
Jelgava
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1 x Splendor

Not sure, how it happens, but lately I play very rarely. And it's not even summer yet. Just one game in all last week. There's even more - we were in birthday party, where some gaming was planned, but only 1 game of new to me Splendor happened, and then party took another vibe.

Still - our purchase from German Amazon arrived with 3 (hopefully) wonderful games: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects (German version, of course), Dungeon Petz, and Istanbul. Copy of Star Realms is still on the way from England. Yep, that's how it works - 1 game played, 3 acquired. Something needs to be changed.
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11. Board Game: Trambahn [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1178]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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1x _7.00_ Terra Mystica
1x _6.50_ Die Siedler von Catan: Das Kartenspiel
1x _6.25_ Sukimono
1x _6.00_ Merchants
1x _6.00_ Batik
1x _6.00_ Trambahn
1x _5.00_ Nations
1x _5.00_ Fox and Geese
1x _4.75_ Fish Cook
1x _4.00_ Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot
1x _3.00_ Schweine-Würfeln
1x _2.00_ Woof Woof


A decent week for me, though the heavy games night fell through. So you see mostly lighter fare

I got the new Trambahn direct from Lookout. Quite a fun little game, which reminds me a bit of Lost Cities: you also build sets with increasing value, though the cards are also used for other purposes and you need to buy a tram for each row you start (but you can have multiple per colour).

Sukimono was surprisingly nice, even though I didn't do too wel on the memory element. I could hardly remember what colour stacks I had already seen previously...

Nations didn't go too well - we only had four blue cards in the first half of the game, and most people fell into a death spiral as a result...
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12. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:341]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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This is a continuation of my time at John Kerr's "Beach Week" gaming retreat, from Monday through Friday.

_7_ Strozzi - This was with me, Anni, Sheila, Chris, Joe, and Brent; Anni and I had played before, Chris taught, but I'm not sure about the others. I decided to concentrate on two things, which turned out to be green bottles and gold--I ignored the purple things and flags almost entirely. This worked out fairly well for me, as I was able to establish early leads in both of those categories, getting into the bonus point range for both of them by the end of the game. I wasn't really trying to, but the goods tiles that I picked up to bolster my green/gold positions got me some extra points at the end of the game too. I won.

_8_ Indonesia (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, and Tucker; Anni and I were new. I started out in spice but lost it to a hostile takeover--in a merger attempt, Jeff bid more money than I actually had. Noting that both Jeff and Tucker were in commodities, and only Anni was doing shipping, my next move was to go into shipping as well. I built that up for a little bit, but then Anni outbid me for it when it merged. I continued on picking up companies here and there, holding them for a turn or two until they got merged and someone else outbid me. What I didn't really understand until the last turn or so was that I was grossly undervaluing the companies--the base cost is close to the per-turn payout of the company, so I should have been willing to go well above double that to acquire them. Tucker was having some of the same issues, as Jeff got all of the commodity companies and Anni got all of the shipping companies. We ran into some downtime issues as Jeff's operations turns started taking forever. Jeff won by a landslide. I need to try this one again now that I know what I'm doing.

_7_ Quartermaster General (new!) - This was with me (Russia), Rob (Italy), Anni (US), Ben (Germany), Tucker (Britain), and Jeff (Japan); everyone but Tucker was new. Looking through my deck before the game, I thought I spotted a pretty powerful combo--there was a card that let me discard a card to let me play a second army, and another card that let me put my army card back on top of my deck when I played it. As luck would have it, I drew both of those cards very early on, and spent turns playing them instead of trying to stop Germany from invading. As expected, I was able to get lots of units out, but the limiting factor turned out to be actually doing anything with those units--attack cards were a lot more scarce than I thought. Germany ended up camped out in the Ukraine for most of the game--fortunately I found the card that says that Ukraine isn't worth points for the Axis. Toward the end of the game I ended up playing a cat-and-mouse game with Germany, as every turn he'd destroy my unit in Moscow, and every turn I'd be forced to rebuild it. I had other things that I definitely wanted to do at that point, but having no unit in Moscow would mean that my entire army would fall apart. Eventually Germany ran out of attack cards, and the game started to turn around seriously for the Allies. Unfortunately, the end of the game came at 20 turns, which was before the Allies could catch up in points, so the Axis won.

.10! Merchant of Venus - This was with me, Anni, and Jeff; we had all played before. We played to $3,000, so I took a somewhat longer-term strategy (I think) of fishing through asteroids and trying to find a good relic. After a few turns of finding nothing but hazards, I eventually found a Jump Start. Unfortunately, telegates were in a little bit of short supply in the game, so while I did use it, it wasn't as ridiculously overpowered as it can sometimes be. As the board unfolded, it turned out that most of the high-numbered systems were all clustered toward the upper-right of the board, which was making finding a good loop really difficult. I managed to find three-quarters of a really good loop--and then had to head off into the great unknown to get someone to buy that last good. As the game neared its end, both Jeff and I were getting close, so I headed off to my homeworld to try to squeeze the last little bit of value out of everything before Jeff ended it. Didn't work; even with bartering my stuff, I could only come up with $2,900-some. Jeff won before I could get to the next system.

_5_ Transylvania: Curses & Traitors (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, and Tim; everyone was new. Turns out that this was the sort of game where you move around the board performing dice-based skill checks, and when you passed them you could get items that could increase your skills. So, I did that for a while, it wasn't too interesting. Eventually, Tim became a Werewolf, which switched his winning condition from "find certain items" to "kill other players". The board was big enough that we didn't have too much trouble staying away from him, though. Eventually, Jeff found all of the items he needed to win, so he returned to the start space and did just that.

_7_ Uptown - This was with me, Anni, Rick, and Jeff; we had all played before. Early on, Jeff kept eating my tiles, which was a little annoying. Fortunately, I was able to connect my two big blobs of tiles through the center of the board. Anni was doing very well not creating additional tile groupings, but it broke down a little in the end. I think Rick won.

_6_ Samurai - This was with me, Bob, and Tim, who was new. I hadn't played this game in years, so I ended up taking a cross-section of different tiles for my opening hand. In retrospect, I should've taken stronger tiles. I had a pretty nice move toward the beginning, as I swapped two tokens so that I could take both of them. Toward the mid-game, though, my hand started getting clogged with boats and other powerful tiles that I just didn't have a use for at the moment. There were some issues with left-right binding as well, as Tim was far more likely to leave something open for Bob than Bob was to leave something open for me. My end game was pretty poor, and I finished without any majorities. Bob won.

_9_ Age of Steam - This was with me, Bob, Ben, and Tim; Ben and Tim were new. This was a very unfriendly board setup; I didn't see a single place where I could take the locomotive and get a two-move delivery on the first turn. I ended up bidding to go first and took urbanize. Luckily for me, there was no first-mover, and the Loco player did not decide to snipe me (note to self: think twice before going first to urbanize in the future). The game was neck-and-neck between myself and Ben for its entirety, which was surprising to me because Ben was new. Bob was not that far behind, but Tim didn't really understand the game and kept building a whole bunch of tracks that were not connected to a single network, and also didn't improve his train much. His economy started to head into the dumpster 2/3rds the way through the game, and he resigned himself to being eliminated. However, that turn a number of us ran cubes over his tracks (not to help him out per se, but rather because giving him points clearly didn't hurt us), which actually caused him to survive another turn. He was eliminated the next turn. I spent the latter half of the game trying to put the brakes on my expenses, so I was ducking turn order a lot and Ben got ahead of me in locomotive. By the end of the game though, I had bumped mine up to six, and managed to set up a few 6-move deliveries for me. I ended up winning over Ben by a narrow margin.

_7_ Spyrium - This was with me, Bob, Ben, Matt, and Tim; everyone had played before, though I was a little rusty. I ended up getting the patent that made using the 1/2/3 chips better on the first turn, so I based my entire strategy around that. So I didn't really invest in improving my economy, building spyrium mines, or trying to convert spyrium into points, but instead mostly focused on the person cards. This worked better than I expected, as I didn't need that much money, and I was able to jump ahead in points early on. My end-game was obviously not as strong, as people started to really start to use the big victory point engine buildings, but I think I finished a respectable third. I don't recall who won.

_7_ Roll for the Galaxy - Same group here, everyone had played before. I'm still trying to figure out how to do well at this game, but for the second straigh game, I've managed to avoid the pitfall of crashing my economy. I think my main issue this time was that my tiles didn't really go with one another, and I was unwilling to spend the extra Explores to try to find stuff that did. So I started with a genes world and a rebel world, built a blue world, had some stuff that helped developments, and eventually got a 6-point development that gave extra points for red dice, despite the fact that my only red dice were the two I started with. I think I came in last, but not embarassingly so. I don't remember who won.

_7_ Craftsmen (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, and Tucker; everyone was new. None of us really had any idea what we were doing, so this was mostly a game about exploring the system and tripping over the non-intuitive phase order (you play building cards from your hand before you acquire new ones). My initial focus was on shirts, and while I was the first one to make shirts, I was having trouble getting the entire production chain because I needed cows, of all things (it's a base resource). Anni was doing a good job assembling all of the buildings needed for chains, and got like 2 or 3 of the bonus chips. Tucker was more concentrating on making weapons, the most expensive finished good in the game, but I competed with him a little (I had nowhere near the entire chain). I tried to let my buildings grow organically, picking things that seemed to work with other things as they came, rather than digging for specific buildings. Eventually, this led me to complete the entire chain for making beer--unfortunately, Anni had already claimed that building chip. When the game ended, Anni ended up being a close winner over Tucker and myself; Jeff was further behind.

_7_ Bruges - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, and Rick; we had all played before. Jeff and Anni went into canals right away, so I felt okay ignoring them for the entire game. I actually got some pretty nice card combos pretty early--my lynchpin was a card that gave me 2 money for every church card, which I combined with a cheap one-time use church card and a church card that gave me 2 points for each church card at the end of the game. Spending a brown for 6 money every turn was definitely super helpful. Some other useful cards I got were a card that let me spend a blue to draw a card and immediately use its ability, and another card that let me get rid of a threat each turn. Before I drew that last card, we all had a problem when the yellow threats hit, but fortunately my money was fairly expendible at the time. Purple threats his everyone else later on, but I was able to dodge with the card I mentioned. Through my various cards, I was able to take a commanding lead in in-game points. The cards I managed to play were worth a fair number of points themselves, so end-game didn't hurt my position at all, and I won by a good amount.

_7_ Glass Road - Same group here, everyone had played before. My strategy this time really focused on lakes. My first building purchase for end-game points for lakes ordered in a 2x2 square, and I was also eyeing a building that gave points for connected ponds. No one else was doing that strategy, so I was able to pick that up later. The rest of my points came from a building that gave me extra points for water. So basically, I spent the entire game building lakes. That wasn't enough to win, as Jeff built a ton of buildings and won.

_7_ Alhambra - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, Rick, and Cheryl, everyone had played before. We were actually playing with a hodgepodge of expansions, including the vizier, treasure chests, rotatable tiles, things that make some tiles worth double, crystal cards, and change (I think that was it, at least). I worked on my walls early on, but eventually built myself into a corner, in need of specific tiles that didn't come up. Likewise, I built some chests early on, but later I fell way behind in chests because my city was fairly small and didn't have room for them. Eventually I got myself out of my building bind, but I had trouble competing in the majorities after that. I ended up in last place. I think Jeff won, but I'm not sure.

_7_ Lords of Waterdeep - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, Rick, and Bob; everyone had played before. My Lord card said I should get green and red missions, and I actually had a few green missions that gave bonuses when I completed other green missions, which was nice. I mostly stayed out of the building business because I needed money to complete my green missions, but I did get a building that let people pay for lots of orange/black cubes and gave me money income, which was nice. I ended up completing the 25-point missions for both green and red. This was a bit of a double-edged sword though, as it meant I completed fewer missions, so my per-mission bonuses for green didn't fire as much. I don't remember who won in the end, but it wasn't me.

_9_ AquaSphere - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, and Tim, Tim was new. After having witnessed every single game of AquaSphere being won by the guy with the most letters, I decided to double-down on collecting letter sets. I spent my first turn dropping a sub, getting some crystals, and snagging a 2-letter wedge. Once I got my 3rd sub out, I stopped working on subs, because the time I'd spend to get them out exceeded the value I'd get back from them. This was especially true as Anni really played the sub game well, and took most of the cheap slots. Anyway, absolutely no one was taking care of the octopods early on, and it got to the point where people were taking 6- and 10-point penalties. I grabbed an octopod wedge and did a little hunting, but Jeff and Tim had the same idea, so that didn't yield as many points as I'd have liked. In fact, in the last turn, I had activated an octopod bot planning to clean out octos, but after Jeff got the last big batch, I decided it was worth more points to deprogram by octopod bot and use that time to program a wedge bot to take the last wedge (I already had all 6 letters before that). Anyway, when we computed the final scores, I won.

.10! Ra - This was with me, Anni, Rob, Tucker, and John; everyone had played before. I played my normal Pharaoh game early on, and tied Tucker for them at the end of the first epoch. Unfortunately, Tucker doubled down on Pharaohs early in the second epoch, and I had to claw my way back into contention. I was having a little trouble finding a secondary way to get points, too, as I was slowly building up Niles, but floods were very hard to come by (after a lot of them went in the first epoch). Both John and Anni were focusing mostly on monuments, but John took a lot of negatives during the intermediate scorings and Anni did not. In the third epoch, Anni surprisingly was able to get into the Pharaoh game, and came away with points for Pharaohs. That plus her copious monument points won her the game.

_7_ Martian Rails - This was with me, Anni, Jeff, and Bob. Bob had not played Martian Rails before, but he did have a little (but not much) experience with crayon rails. Unlike my earlier game of India Rails, my starting cards seemed to go together very well, and I had a good plan from the start. Bob got off to a bit of a rocky start, as he really relied heavily on using other people's rails early. Both Jeff and I were able to ramp up quickly, using profits from deliveries to keep upgrading our trains. Anni got bogged down a little, and was the last to upgrade her train. In any case, my game proceeded without hitting any major roadblocks, and eventually I was able to win by a little bit over Jeff.

_9_ Lewis & Clark - This was with me, Anni, Bob, and Tucker; Bob and Tucker were new. I saw a card early on that I thought would be helpful, it let me turn 2 equipment into a horse. It was a level 2 card, and I didn't have time to go get the extra equipment, so I ended up burning my hides card for it. That would have been problematic if I ever wanted another card, but as it turned out, the one card was enough. I did my usual thing where I got a ton of wood early, and turned them into single-indian boats and a bunch of canoes. While other people were first to move, I sped past everyone using the canoes. Bob was buying too many cards--he even got a card that made buying cards easier--which slowed him down a lot. As we approached mid-game, I was significantly ahead of everyone else. I won as everyone was making their way through the first set of mountains.

_7_ Village - This was with me, Anni, Rick, and Ben. I think Ben was new. I decided to fire up the old turbo-death strategy, and put two gen-1 guys into the workshops with the intention to kill them off right away. That worked pretty well, as I occupied the first two workshop spots in the book. The third corpse came from my farm, but I was having a little trouble with potential corpse #4--I neglected to pull him out of the church bag with a coin on the first turn (clearly a mistake), so he was stuck in there, and people were dying in the church ahead of him. I couldn't have that, so I spent the coin to get him out and quickly killed him up before the church section of the book filled up. Corpse #5 turned out to be problematic though, as Anni was being nearly as efficient killing off her family as I was, and soon enough all the spots were filled except for one travel spot. Wouldn't be a problem except that I had already deployed all of my gen-2 guys, and none to travel. I considered trying to re-birth a deployed guy to send him on a deathly field trip, but ultimately decided that would cost too much. From then on, I just focused on trying to get points where I could, but the game dragged on longer than my strategy was used to. In the end, Rick took the victory, having visited all of the travel locations.

_8_ The Great Zimbabwe (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Tucker, Jeff, and Bob; Bob and I were new. I decided to go for the total cheapskate path, taking the god of drummers for -2 and passing on the other helper cards. I did take the pots craftsman though, placing two tiles and pricing them at one, which gave me an immediate advantage of Anni, who priced her bracelets at two. The third good, masks, were taken by Bob, but unfortunately for him, he was only able to place one tile right away, and Jeff bought the advanced mask craftsman a few turns into the game, making the masks less appealing. After placing my initial craftman tiles, I spent the rest of the game working on my monuments. I put down a few new monuments in some key places, and then started to build them up. The steady income I was getting from my initial pots tiles sure was helpful in this. However, I was constantly late in the turn order, meaning I was at the whim of the big spenders (Tucker and Jeff) as to what resources were actually left. Both Jeff and Tucker looked like they were close to winning at a couple points, but couldn't pull it off. That left me a little window to build up my own monuments, and it just worked out--I was able to build them up to get 22 points compared to my 21 winning condition to win the game. Any longer and someone probably would have built the advanced pots craftman, which would have been a major setback.

On Saturday, I was at my parents' house for my sister's birthday.

_7_ Tales of the Arabian Nights - This was with me, Anni, Jon, Tina, and Lauren; everyone had played before. My initial quest was pretty non-specific--I had to acquire a treasure and return it to Baghdad. So I started wandering off in a random direction, and somehow earned a status that said someone else got to determine where I moved. Good thing I didn't care! I did get a few city cards, which were both in Africa, so once I got rid of that status, I made my way south. There, I was lucky enough to pick up not one but two treasures. So I made my way back to Baghdad to complete my quest, and as luck would have it, my treasure was randomly determined to be worth the better quest outcome. That gave me just enough points to fulfill my win conditions. However, Lauren (who uncannily always manages to win this game) also reached Baghdad on the same turn, also earning enough points to meet her conditions, and won on tiebreakers (which is number of status cards, oddly).

On Sunday, Mike V. had his "bachelor party"--which consisted of a co-ed game night in my parents' basement.

_6_ Shadow Hunters - This was with me, Anni, Jon, Tina, Lauren, Mike V., Kathy, and Mike L.; everyone had played before. I randomly drew Charles as my character--this was the third straight time I had Charles! Fortunately, my win condition of killing someone after a pile of bodies already exists is much easier in an 8-player game. I decided to keep to my strategy of trying to identify and kill the other neutral. There actually was a lot of confusions as to who was who in this game. I think a lot of it stemmed from early on when Tina (a Hunter) gave me a green card that actually revealed my role to her, and then attacked me anyway. There was an Unknown in the game too (Kathy), but the only person she actually lied to was me, and I didn't care. Eventually I found out that the other neutral character was Mike L., and started to go after him. In the meantime, a bunch of people died, so I was all set to win no matter who I killed. I did kill Mike L., though, and without even having to use my special ability to attack him twice in a row. Thus, I was the sole winner.

_6_ Coup: Reformation (new!) - Same group here. Everyone had played Coup, but the expansion was new to everyone, as it had been a birthday present for Lauren. We did not play with the new Inquisitor role. I started out with the Duke card, and pretty much stuck to using that all the time, collecting 3 money and denying foreign aid. However, I took care to tactically flip allegiances (mine or others) to avoid getting targeted by a coup. That worked well until Mike L. used the Assassin on me. I decided to keep my Duke card and flip my own Assassin card. It because a little harder to manage everything at this point, as everyone knew that my only card was the Duke. I was one of the last few still in, though. Eventually though Mike V. backed me into a corner with the Captain, and impressively won still having both of his roles.

_8_ Telestrations - Same group here, everyone had played before. We played with the cards from Cranium Scribblish, which are a lot more off-the-wall than the ones that come with the game. I ended up between Kathy and Anni. Some interesting things that I drew included a buffalo on a trampoline and a cow rollerblading into a brick wall. And somehow I managed to get mixed up between double-dutch and hopscotch. I think Jon won.
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