GCL Phoenix 230: "Going Rogue" - 31May2015
SJ S
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the last 4 days have been nutso! to begin with, and so i can get Rich's disappointment out of the way --- i DID not go to Vegas as planned.... my event was cancelled (or potentially postponed until August). BOO HOO! so there will NOT be a live video feed of Max and i ziplining over Vegas.

also - these 4 days of chaos have left me frazzled and having a distinct lack of inspiration for our list. i decided it might be fun to go off topic this week, and ask the Phoenixes to join in a couple of conversations that Sean and i have had over the past week.

as always, there will be plenty of chances to talk about games in our weekly play items!!
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1. Board Game: Surprise Attack! [Average Rating:5.71 Unranked]
SJ S
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Sean and i had a conversation about moments we've been completely taken off guard... in a big way.

Sean admitted that he completely broke down watching "Up", and i shared that i was inconsolable watching Of Mice And Men. (those are just two of the examples we discussed)

we've also been taken off guard in a positive way - like when seeing the David for me (the guards finally had to run me off - i loitered around so long!), and Sean when seeing "Zulma" paper cut-out by Matisse. what was interesting about both these experiences is we were both expecting to be impressed - just not as overwhelming impressed as we indeed were!

and i (literally) jumped off the couch when watching the finale of The Jinx.

tell us about movies, books, songs, artworks, or concerts that have been dramatically poignant for you.
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2. Board Game: Real People [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
SJ S
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one of Sean's co-workers is currently trying Soylent, a complete food replacement. this is real and is, unfortunately, not people. their advertising campaign focuses around never having to think about food again. as an aside, he describes it as tasting like drinking liquid pizza dough.

is the thought of never having to make a decision about food again compelling, or like a living hell?
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3. Board Game: The Construction Game [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:11377]
SJ S
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i'm a knitter. i've signed up for a "machine knitting" class this summer. Sean makes dorodango. he is learning to whittle spoons this summer.

do you have a hobby in which you construct things? care to share a favorite "finished object"?

are you learning anything new right now?
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4. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4227]
SJ S
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occasionally, i'll recount to Sean conversations i've had/read on BGG. usually it's something funny someone says. he usually gets a kick out of this, but sometimes he is just utterly confused due to lack of context.

do your close friends/family know what "BGG" is? do you ever share conversations had here with those close to you?
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5. Board Game: The Cupcake Game [Average Rating:2.53 Unranked]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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I chose this entry because I just put some cupcakes in the oven to bake. No gaming this week. Rainy here, which is nice because it's a bit cooler, and it's good for the garden. It also gives me an excuse to take a break between the second coat on the deck, because two days in a row would probably be too much.
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6. Board Game: Brew Crafters [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:467]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Continuing the trend of lots of gaming this past month:

Paperback x 1

Kat whupped me 50-33; 15 of my points came from 2 bonus cards and the in-game bonus card (5vp to the player with the most J,Q,X,and/or Z cards).

Race for the Galaxy w/Alien Artifacts x 2

I won a couple of close, low-scoring games: 36-34 and 38-32.

Snowdonia w/Daffodil Line x 1

I won 85-73. Neither of us played especially well, particularly where the cards are concerned. I only took/scored 1, and she scored 2. Lots of cubes left on the board for both.

Max x 3

My 3-year old son continues to ask for, and enjoy, this game.

Roll for the Galaxy x 2

Kat and I split 2 plays of this while the young ones played with the dice.

Panamax x 1

From my play log:

We had 4 for game night last night and ended up going with Panamax. 3 of us had played before but were rusty, so it took awhile to get it setup and going. It's a game that seems really complicated when being explained, but flows well during gameplay.

One player got behind the 8 ball early on. Part of the danger in loading your goods on other players' ships and having your finger in many pies is that sometimes your opponents will deliver more of your goods than you'd like. It's easy to fall into the eurogamer trap of efficiently loading ships and delivering all of your goods only to set yourself up for big failure the following round. Carl started round 2 with all his cubes in the warehouse (there's a $5 maintenance fee for each one still here at the end of the round). He ended up getting pounded by fees and finishing last, I don't think he expected us to deliver his goods for him in a flurry like we did. And as much as I'd like to say it was clever and devious play on our part, I think it was an unforeseen side effect.

I earned the bonus for most valuable shares in all 3 rounds and generally felt like I played pretty well. I ended up finishing 2nd by about $20. And I really have no idea why. I know he scored better for his endgame card than I did (I had 4 China flags for $12, I think he scored $20 for 10 flags total). Apart from that I don't know what I could have done differently or better, and I don't know what he did well or how he did better than I. This all ended up feeling more frustrating than intriguing, kind of like I'd been jerked around for 3 hours. This was my first 4-player game.


I think he owned more shares of stock than I did (5 to 3) and was more diverse (I only bought my own, but mine was the most valuable the entire way). My frustration comes from my inability to find the little black box from this loss. I felt like I played really well, and I can't quite find the thread to trace back and understand the outcome.

Valley of the Kings x 2

Really neat deckbuilder that comes in a small box with a low price point. The unique bits:

- The cards are laid out in a 3-story pyramid with the bottom row being available for purchase. Some cards allow you to swap or destroy cards in the pyramid.

- You only score cards that you entomb by the end of the game. To entomb a card is to stash it in a pile that is no longer available. You may take this action once per turn.

- Set collection. This isn't unique by any means, but I don't think I've seen it in a deckbuilder before.



Cards each have a gold value and an action, and can be used for one or the other. You may play and buy any number of cards each turn.

So at the end, you examine the cards in your tomb. Differently named cards in the same set (books, statues, masks, etc) are scored, each is worth X^2 VP where X=the number of unique cards of that set in your tomb. So 4 different books means the set is worth 16VP (4 x 4). There are also the starter cards that are worth a flat 1VP each, and some unique cards worth 2-5VP.

It can be pretty interactive. There are cards that force your opponent to discard, that let you put a card from your hand on their deck or in their tomb, or steal the top card of their discard pile (but never steal from their tomb).

The decision of when to stop using cards and start stashing them in your tomb is interesting. I'm not sure what sort of legs it will have, but we like it pretty well after a couple of plays.

Tragedy Looper x 1

This was a 3-player learning play (I was one of the protagonists).

We won after the first day. Had some things figured out. Carl misunderstood and thought that 2 intrigue in a location would trigger the killer murdering the key person, but he needed 2 intrigue on the key person.

I had most of the roles figured out. Not sure how I feel about the game. It's unique, and that's important to me. Deduction games aren't my jam though. Deduction quickly starts to feel like tedious work. I've played deduction games where I make an incorrect assumption early on, then spend the next 2 hours using that bad information. That's quite frustrating.

So I think this may get played at the shop at some point, but I think it will have to be soon before we forget what we've learned.

Brew Crafters x 4

We picked up Brew Crafters from my FLGS yesterday. We played it twice last night and twice this morning. Obviously, we were impressed by it.

It plays very much like Agricola with the action spaces that replenish and the blocking. There are 2 phases in which to place workers, and each has its own unique workers (that is, your workers are earmarked for one phase or the other, there's no deciding how many to use where).



You're collecting ingredients and spending them to brew beers. Each brew has its own unique ingredients, and the recipes are drawn from a stack of ~20 (there will be the same 3 basic ones then 6 advanced ones each game).

You're also hiring specialist workers (the equivalent of Agricola's occupations) and upgrading the brewery. Everything adds to your upkeep, which must be paid after every 4th round (of 12 total rounds). Failure to do so means taking loans, the equivalent of the Gric's begging cards. Each player also has an R&D board where you can get resources and bonuses for doing research actions.

There is a lot of variety in the brew recipes, each complete with its own clever name and nifty artwork; I'm not a beer drinker, but I always stop to look at them in the store - I like the names and the artwork on the labels. There is also variety in the specialist workers, and you have a the option of drawing a unique action space to use in each game.

The look of the recipe cards is great, the worker cards are alright (about the quality of Viticulture's artwork). The design of the boards and buildings is pretty amateurish, but it doesn't much bother me.

It's a strong 8 for me right now, and I'm pretty psyched about it. I really like the variety of the cards (the R&D boards are slightly different too). Trying to find the best path and fight your opponent to get onto it is very fun. I expect to be revisiting this one later in the week.



No Wednesday game night this week. Preparing for a triumphant return to my summer job soon.
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7. Board Game: Chaosmos [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:2014]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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__7__ Diamonds (new!)
__6__ Chaosmos (new!)

Diamonds is an elegant little trick-taker. Mostly-standard trick-taking rules[1], but in each of three circumstances, you get to do a Special Thing:
* Winning a trick;
* Sluffing an off-suit card;
* Having won the most cards of a suit (after a hand is done).

What you get to do depends on the suit won/sluffed, and is how you score: there are little gems, worth 2 points each if inside your vault, and 1 point each if outside. Hearts get you gems from the supply, Spades put them into your vault, Clubs get them from other players (if outside the vault), and Diamonds get them from the supply straight into your vault. (They're just better.) Oh, and you score 2 gems to your vault if you duck all tricks in a hand.

Simple, clean, works well, leads to interesting decisions around sluffing. Would be great to teach to someone who's only played traditional card games. But I like my trick-taking games a little weirder, a little deeper, or (ideally) both. Right now, I'd be happy to play again, but suspect my enthusiasm will diminish over subsequent plays.

(Though the core concept is really interesting; the specific actions you get to take could be totally different, or drawn from a pool of >4, or allocated to different suits by face-down "bids" of cards from the players, or...)

[1] = Deck of 60 [4x1-15], hands of 10, no trump, pass 0/1/2 left at dealer's choice, only sluff if void.


Chaosmos is something of the opposite: I'm not as immediately enthused, but suspect that if I happen to play a few more times it'll become more appealing.

You're aliens in a universe winding down towards oblivion, searching for the MacGuffinOvoid, which allows control over the universe's rebirth. At game end, whoever has it in hand wins.

All of the game's cards - weapons, defenses, tricks, information-gathering, vaults, keys, and of course the Ovoid - are either in a player's hand or stored on one of ~8 planets[2]. Each planet has an envelope in which its cards are stored; if you're at a planet and control it, you can look in that envelope and move cards freely between it and your hand. But you have a hand limit of 7, and there are a lot more than 7 cards per player in the game, so many cards end up being stored/left on planets, and you have to choose what to optimize your current hand of cards for: Combat? Information-gathering? Movement? Etc.

(When you fight, the winner gets to look at the loser's hand and take a card, so other player's hands can also be viewed and ransacked.)

The knowledge-economy / bluffing aspect of the game appeals to me quite a bit, though it was present only in very crude form owing to our inexperience. (Where is what stashed away? Who's relying on what sort of weaponry? Who has - or had - the Ovoid?)

The combat... is caught in a dilemma. It must be (and is) swingy enough that someone can't just build an impregnable hand of combat cards and win every fight. But it also must be non-swingy enough that preparing for a fight is a good use of time. The game does some good things on this front by making knowledge into power[3], but in many cases, you're still in "well, I rolled a 5 on attack they they rolled an 8 on defense, sucks to be me"-land.

Overall... it's not really like any game I could name offhand. It felt kinda draggy and kinda chaotic, but I suspect both of those would improve with experience, and that the deduction portion would also get more interesting on subsequent plays. (Particularly with a semi-consistent playgroup, since you'd start learning each others' approaches / patterns / tricks.) I'm not strongly motivated to seek it out again, but if it crosses my table I won't be sad.

[2] = An oversimplification; there's also a market-board of 6 cards you can swap with, and about 20% of the deck is single-use effects that end up removed from play once used.

[3] = Eg, each of the better weapons cards has a corresponding counter-card that not merely nullifies the weapon but steals its bonus, so you can prepare for a fight with a specific player (or, on the other hand, choose to swap that great weapon after a fight or two in exchange for something less predictable).


~ ~ ~

Outside of gaming: I'm trying to think of something in my life this past week that has nothing to do with gaming or parenting, and drawing a blank. I've been playing some Crypt of the NecroDancer, which isn't board gaming...
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8. Board Game: Arkwright [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:583]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 30May2015:

15/39/324 plays of 13/24/129 total games, with 3/6/19 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/21/74 distinct opponents.

1/1/18 games acquired (plus 0/0/7 expansions.) - Launch & Iterate.
0/0/4 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/0/10 games ordered (plus 0/0/3 expansions.)
Orders for 4 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With family:
1x _7.7_ Vasarely - Son #1 and I played three different games from Games of Art during act changes (lengthy: middle school students herd about as well as cats) at son #2's year-end school concert. Son #2 was great: he had a couple solos (flute and vocal) and seemed to enjoy the experience a lot. And son #1 and I did a lot of sitting. So the games were a nice distraction. This one was a lopsided win for me; while son #1 found it amusing, the lookahead escaped him.
1x _7.7_ Miro - So this one turned the tables nicely: each turn, he'd move up a point or three on me. And I ended up dramatically behind by the end of the game. Amusingly, we played it slightly incorrectly, too; but that didn't matter. I was annihilated.
1x _7.7_ Springer - And this one was very very tight. The second player won, but only a single impulse before the first player would have won. It could easily have gone the other way.
1x _?_ Launch & Iterate New! - With both of my boys, while we waited for our Sushi to arrive. (The restaurant was charmingly happy with their tables being used in that way. They artfully arranged the food around the game, and without any complaint.) This is a coöp game designed by a team of Google employees: one tries to launch a bunch of products in order to amuse the largest collection of Users. It's designed for use in campus recruiting events (where the recruiters divide the students into teams of four, and give each team a copy of the game.)

Who knows? It might even work in that context. It certainly worked for my boys: they found it engaging and entertaining. And wanted to keep playing even after the food arrived. For my part - as y'all know - I'm grumpily un-entertained by coöps. So likely the lack of appreciation of the game (on my part) is entirely my fault.
1x _7.3_ Yavalath - (Son #2) Sadly, not a very good play. Again decided by player inattention, rather than anything resembling "good play." If we'd been playing on a physical board, we'd have a do-over; but the PvP Android app doesn't permit rolling state backward.
1x _7_ Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 (with Babel13, Duel) - Played to a tie! Which is fun, since I can't recall that happening in our previous 30-odd plays of this. I went with the Smart faction to son #2's (favoured) Neojungle. We might need to try that pairing again.
1x _6.7_ Serenissima (first edition) (128 months dusty) - This was quite entertaining for me. Even if son #2 didn't like it much. I'd pulled it out because son #1 had been a huge fan of this when he was little. But the two of us played it as a semi-abstract economic bin-packing game, and didn't attack each other (much.) We thought that the game was flawed: given the scoring system (and considering the way we played) it was stronly to the players advantage to refit their ships as corsairs, and attempt to sack the other players' ports in the final turn. Which seemed a modest thematic disconnect.

But son #2 paid attention to the scoring system from turn 1. And began with corsairs that raided the Mediterranean looking for spoils. And, while I'm still not at all certain that I find the game compelling, it at least made more coherent sense that way. It worked. And, delightfully, I got to discover that my early perspective (and not a trivial one, either: it was based on more than a dozen plays!) was quite wrong.
1x _6.3_ Moje Ovce Tvoje Ovce (82 months dusty) - "Too Nasty" was son #2's review for this one. Which - entertainingly for me, since I'd not thought about it much in the last most-of-seven years - was just what I'd opined when I'd first rated it: "Deceptively nasty... Not sure if my children are ready for this one, though."

With the Wednesday Night gang:
1x _8.5_ Arkwright - We played the Spinning Mule scenario: which is long and involved - and yet somehow also disturbingly simple (against the glory that is the Waterframe scenario, at least.) Fortunately for me (since I'd love to get it back to the table) it was enjoyed by all involved: so there's hope for the future. I discovered (surprise! though in retrospect, it shouldn't remotely have been a surprise) that the arc of Mule isn't at all like that of the longer game; and a starting gambit that would easily pay off in the longer context was far too aggressive to survive in the shorter.

At BAP on Saturday:
1x _7_ Panic Lab - These first two games were done as Player Summoning Rituals. And both provided enough entertainment for those few minutes until our fourth came through the door.
1x _7_ Bongo! - This one might have been a bit better received: it's a bit crazier - and after the lunacy of Panic Lab, they were ready for this.
1x _7.7_ Patchistory - This was our Main Event game. And pretty nice, all things considered. I find the chaos quite charming, even if it is dramatically volatile. It's not as good a game as Through the Ages; but it doesn't need to be that good to be worth playing.
1x _8_ Puerto Rico - Lovely to see this back in play. I'm quite rusty (and came last - two whole points behind the victor) but really enjoyed the experience. This is an excellent game with folk of roughly equal competence.
1x _8_ 開拓王 (Kaitaku-ō 'King of Frontier') (with 開拓王 - もっと建物を! (Kaitaku-ō - motto tatemono o! 'King of Frontier - More Buildings!')) - I really enjoy this one too - though not at all for the same reasons. This is fast, and crazy, and entertaining. And except for the last, those aren't Puerto Rico virtues. This play was marred by my playing a tile where it didn't work. So I defaulted (embarrasingly) to last place.
1x _7.7_ Traumfabrik (101 months dusty) - It was delightful to be able to play this again: I've tried (unsuccessfully!) to get this to the table on a variety of instances over the past ten years - but a German-language auction game based on the conceit of remaking movies from Hollywood's Golden Age doesn't quite work for most of my friends. Which is a shame, because I find this quite charming. (But I think the other two let me win after my disastrous showing on the preceding two games.)

Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+1/-1) - Launch & Iterate was acquired and played within the same day.

Outlook for the week: I'll hope for something like more of the same: games with family; games with friends on Wednesday Night; perhaps a lunch game and something silly at an extra gaming event. No chance of Europe Engulfed getting to the table, though I may receive a care package from Japan that will cause the total to get a bit larger - and likely for more than a day or two.
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9. Board Game: Panamax [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:476]
Karl Fast
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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My 4th play of Panamax that affirmed how much I like this game. I'm starting to internalize more of the small rules and that is helping me see the vast landscape of strategy available.

For this game (which I won with 130 points), I did well despite modest end-game scoring with the financial advisor bonus cards. I did well on trains, giving me extra country tokens and my company board was almost full. I was managing director for rounds 2 and 3, giving me an extra 12 points. I had the highest stock price and owned three shares in my own company, while also investing in players who consistently paid out dividends. That helped me a lot.

The crucial thing was how I managed the tempo of my ships. I got a lot of my ships into the locks just ahead of other players. Instead of moving one ship multiple times, I moved multiples ships once or twice. Spreading this around got me into the locks and then other players pushed me through. I also managed to avoid delivering too much cargo in one round, so in rounds 2 and 3 I had a reasonable amount of cargo in the warehouse. In my previous game I started round 3 with, I think, 8 dice in the warehouse. Trying to get that out crippled me.

I was playing against three people who were still learning the game (first or second play). This made it easier for me. I noticed a big difference for this, my fourth play. The decisions were relatively easy for me. Where other players stared at the board and seemed paralyzed at points, I made my moves quickly and I felt in control throughout the whole game. It was the first time where I wasn't struggling. Maybe it was circumstances but I think a lot of it is how all the small rules, and thus the variety of options, are becoming second nature to me and I can flow with the game rather than struggle against it.

Verdict: Panamax is a great game for me. It has a tedious setup and lots of little rules, which I normally dislike, but in this case I'm willing to look past that. I love it and love getting better at it.
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10. Board Game: Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:1535] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_8_ Roll for the Galaxy x1
_7_ Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King x1


The Week in Review

A light week of gaming with just two plays. The first, Roll for the Galaxy was just between S and I. And as is usual, she went with a settle/develop strategy and won. I went heavy into developments as I had two tiles that granted extra credits when I developed, but I should have still done some (more) settling because I was always short dice.


Sunday night's game of Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King did not go that well. J, our newest gamer, appeared to enjoy it the most, but then mostly on the strength of the miniatures and other aesthetics of the game. P was less impressed and said it wouldn't replace Eldritch Horror as his preferred cooperative. S was even less impressed due to the downtime between turns. And I have to agree. I think the fully cooperative Arcade Mode is probably best played with just three. Any more than that, I think the Classic Mode (with one player playing as the evil overlord) is a better way to go.

The problem with Arcade Mode is that two players take their turns, then the monsters get a turn (their actions and the order of them is based on a card drawn from random), then two players get to take turns, etc. And only one of those two players in the second round needs to be a player who didn't take actions in the previous round. So it's quite possible that one player may not get a turn for quite some time...as happened last night when my Questing Knight was heavily wounded and we wanted to take some of the pressure off him.

The other things about the game is that it's just a tactical combat game. For all Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients's flaws, at least it has some other types of encounters (with some colour text and where skill tests are required). Super Dungeon Explore could really learn a thing or two from Shadows.

I don't think I'll ever suggest playing Arcade Mode again with more than three.


The Week Ahead

It's my birthday this week and I've let it be known to even my non-gamer friends that while I don't want any gifts, I expect them to humour me and play a board game. (Somehow, I think they'll all be busy until July.)

Unplayed games of note still in shrink: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, Yunnan, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. Also The Hobbit saga expansions for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: Over Hill and Under Hill and On the Doorstep.


Edit: Added rankings for games played.
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11. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:308]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Last week was a slow gaming week for me -- as it was both a getting back into gear post-conference (i.e., schooooool-work), but also still being 'away from home' (and finding out that there are no meetups in the town I'm at!). It's likely to be a lot of solo games until July (with the occasional game with my partner, and/or party games with a few friends).

So here's what last week looked like:

 8   Friday x2

Game 1:
evel 4: loss (at 1st pirate). While I was doing moderately well at the beginning, the second half of the green stretch hit me hard (and didn't leave me with much to show) and left me with a trim deck (which meant lots of aging!). This got much better through the yellow stretch as I beefed my deck back up. However, I didn't have as much luck as I'd like in terms of copy cards landing with the life+2 or destroys at the same time as the aging cards -- this meant the aging cards hung out and I wasn't able to bring my life up beyond the 4-6 range. The red stretch was extremely short (i.e., 3-4 bouts) but extremely taxing: I went in to the pirate round with 2 life. It didn't help that I was also adding the extreme aging cards to my deck at this point -- what's worse, the 'suicidal' card shows up during the first pirate fight (so I'm working with a -5 modifier) and little to no life to work with. As far as I'm concerned, Friday ran himself into a pirate's scimitar (GAME OVER MAN).


Game 2:
Level 4: Win (65 points). Spent most of the game struggling to stay alive, hovering around 3-4 life points until bam, mid-to-late yellow, my hard labour of getting high valued cards (and hitting the occasional copy & +2 life) paid off. I would have enough life to ride through the tumultuous red stretch (which was populated with the 1 card drawers) and take on the pirates. The first one (6 cards, 20 life) went down pretty easy, but the second (10 cards, 52 life, each card +1) was a bit more complicated as I hadn't been as aggressive about taking all the draw additional ability cards. I lost a lot of life on the second one, but still came out on top! (even after getting 'really hungry' during that battle! - that's not the time for that Friday!).
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12. Board Game: Guild Stack [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:9217]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_7_ Bangkok Klongs x1
Taught this to Will who picked up on the game pretty easily but my experience with it helped me ot win 162 to 140. It's okay with two people but I prefer it with three or four.

_5_ Lancaster x1
Will recently acquired this. I used to own it and decided not to keep it but still like the game well enough. Mindy won this at 77; I had 66; Will scored 62 and David 46.

_5_ Room 25 x1 New!
David taught us (myself, Mindy, and Will) the most basic version of this in cooperative mode and we won fairly easily. I didn't hate it but didn't see much worth trying it again.

_8_ Guild Stack x2
Finally got this back to the table with both boys. Youngest son won with 33, oldest son 20, and I had 18.
Need to make a rules summary as the english rules in the box are hard to follow. The game's not extremely difficult but since it had been so long since last play we were needlessly relearning things that a proper summary page would have made easy.

Second play was when Mindy came over to visit, and since we had just played the day before we were able to teach it quickly. I was set up well to win but got shut down by my youngest son long enough for Mindy to take the win with 40 to my 37. Oldest son had 19 and youngest son 16.

_5_ The Captain Is Dead New!
Mindy brought over this cooperative and the boys were interested due to the space theme. Apparently there are a lot of Star Trek Next Generation joke things in it, but we didn't see much of them in our play and the one example Mindy gave my boys completely didn't get (about the first mate needing to grow a beard). We lost simply due to not keeping our shields high enough; I suspect we'd do better on a second play since we would know most about how things worked. The main mechanic is getting cards to fix the warp core and other cards to deal with all the threats to the ship. Sort of like Forbidden Island. I liked this better than Room 25 and would play again but for this kind of theme I'd probably rather do Space Alert.

_6_ Forbidden Desert x1
After losing in The Captain is Dead, wanted to try a cooperative we knew better so got this out. My wife became free and joined the two boys, Mindy and I making this a five player game. Even at normal difficulty I think this is harder with a high player count, and we lost due to all the sand coming out and we were about halfway done. Oh well.

_7_ Indigo x1
My wife's sister was over visiting and my daughter and I introduced this to both her and my wife. Rules were easy to teach them and in the end everyone else scored 7 and I had 9. I thought it was interesting in the four player game all gates are co-owned, so anytime you score you are sharing with someone else.

_9_ Finca x1
My wife wanted to teach this to her sister so the three of us played. I picked up a lot of bonus tiles to win with 63, while my wife had 51 and her sister 45. Nice enjoyable game with some good wine.

_8_ Concordia x1
Another game my wife wanted to teach to her sister and this time my daughter also joined the three of us. My gathering of Mars cards gave me the win with 104, while my wife's sister did fine for her first time with 93, my daughter at 81 sneaked a bit past my wife's 79.
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13. Board Game: Sylvion [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:793]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Sylvion x23

First, I've got your back SJ. I covered the elephant thing for you. From Sylvion, The Deluge of the Elephants:


Just gorgeous artwork, and it's been a pleasure hacking the game open. That whole mysterious pleasure of flipping cards.

So, work has been one of those weekend & evening crunches. I've had to suspend gaming dates, so the Ukraine '43 campaign is stranded on Mike's table. I really wanted that, and was looking forward to Ardennes '44.

I have Red Winter: The Soviet Attack at Tolvajärvi, Finland – 8-12 December 1939 on the table ready to start a solo campaign scenario but long days have drawn me to sprawling on the floor with Sylvion listening to the ballgame. Maybe tomorrow will bring the right energy.

Hey, I definitely think Squirrel Disinformation has Jon written all over it:


Who's The Stag King? The Owl's Wisdom? This could be as fun as the Pooh game.



(Do you play the Pooh game at work?)
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14. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:308]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

_7_ Friday 4

Week in Review

This carried over from my first game of Friday last Sunday, into a more plays early this week. My first two plays were failures, still on level 1. Then I won level 1. My next game was level 2 and was also a win.

I haven't tried level 3 yet, but my early understanding of the game leads me to believe it will be easier than level 2. In spite of adding the Very Stupid card to the Aging deck, I think the benefit of a larger Aging deck is greater overall. Maybe I'm optimistic.

As previously mentioned, the long window of time traveling to Las Vegas for the GP ate any chance of other gaming. Time to start making up for that!
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15. Board Game: The Game [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:903]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Agricola (+France deck)
|9| Terra Mystica (+Fire & Ice; 4 Town Tiles)
-8- Codenames New!
-8- The Game (x5) New!
-7- Jane Austen's Matchmaker New!
-6- Mysterium (x3) New!
-6- Dead of Winter
-5- Elysium New!

The UK Games Expo gave me the chance to try out a few new games and I came away surprised. The SdJ nominee I expected to like most (Elysium) I was unimpressed by, whereas the simple little cardgame out of leftfield has seen loads of play.

Melissa and daughter were over from Australia and it was great to catch up with her. They'd bought a copy of The Game in Germany and had it with them, so taught us. It's really fun, much more amusing than it has any right to be. It's almost as pared down as a game possibly can be and still be a game, you're just co-operatively placing number cards onto ascending and descending piles, trying to play them all out in order. But the twist that you can back-up by exactly 10 is clever and the restriction on communication is what makes it hilarious. Almost every turn brings painful decisions and groans from around the table but then there are the occasional cheers of success. I've just played it with four and five players, only managed to win once, and I think it'd be best with a higher player count, both for difficulty level and for group entertainment factor. I haven't played Machi Koro yet but it'll have to be particularly impressive to beat The Game as my favourite of this year's SdJ nominees.

Another surprise hit from the show was Jane Austen's Matchmaker. I'm not sure it's actually a good game, probably a bit too luck-based, but it does well with its theme. Here players are trying to foist utter cads onto their opponents' virtuous young ladies, all characters from Jane Austen novels. At first we missed the rule about siblings not being able to marry each other which resulted in some improper pairings! It's light and entertaining and there's plenty of opportunistic screwage and getting into character silliness.

I knew Vlaada Chvatil's Codenames would be up my street. There was a prototype of it at the Expo and it was top of my list of games to try. It's a team word game where each team leader is trying to get the rest of their team to pick eight or nine specific words from a grid of 25. However, each turn the team leader is only allowed to say a single word and a number. The word should be something associated with one or more words in the grid and the number is how many of those words fit with that association. So for example, if I wanted my team to guess "kangaroo", "cat" and "horse", I could say "animal, 3". The team then get up to three guesses. Of course, it's not usually as easy as that animal example. It's challenging coming up with connections between specific words, especially as you want your team to guess as many in one go as possible. There's also an Assassin word which, if picked, causes your team to immediately lose, so you have to ensure you don't accidentally clue them into that one. The game has a pasted-on spy theme which I basically forgot about as soon as I was informed of it. Rounds are quite short so you'd probably want to play more than one, and that way team leaders can switch around so everyone gets a chance to come up with clues. Great fun and an automatic buy when it comes out later this year (GenCon, I think).

Elysium was just OK. A special powers drafting game with more take-that than I care for and the potential to bog down with AP. There were too many things to factor into the decision-making such that to play optimally would take forever. Do I draft a card or take a turn-order tile? If I draft a card, there are up to 13 to choose from and I need to consider which are useful to me, which are useful to my opponents, which are likely to still be there when it comes back round to me. Once I've picked my card, I need to choose how to pay for it - four different options. Yeah, sorry guys, I'm taking ages here aren't I? Not nice.

I was also really looking forward to Mysterium, which I played midweek prior to the Expo. A co-operative game where Dixit meets Cluedo/Clue. Unique and atmospheric but it didn't really grab me and I thought it would. I enjoyed playing as the ghost more than one of the investigators and in fact that's the only one of the three games we won (all on easy mode). I think I found that discussing the meaning of pictures is not all that interesting to me, whereas predicting what other players will think when presented with a particular image is more satisfying, especially when you find yourselves on the same wavelength. I'd be happy to play it again but I'm not actively looking to arrange that next play.

Other bits from the Expo: they had the new Through the Ages. Not as many big changes as I'd expected but lots of little ones. For example, Joan of Arc has been powered-up with a flavourful ability to look at the top card of the Future Events stack each turn before you play your event in. One player's tactics can now be learned by the others to help mitigate the luck of drawing them. They seemed like good additions to the game, as you'd expect for something that has been heavily played online for years now. I'll probably pick up a copy of it at Essen.
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16. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:67]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 22:

 8.0   Caverna: The Cave Farmers x3
 7.6   Jet Set
 7.8   Kingdom Builder x11
 8.0   Troyes x3

The Week in Review:

We began by getting in another play of Jet Set with the expansion, though we rarely bother with the overseas routes. It was a different game from the day before with a familiar outcome.

On Saturday I had game-date with J. and brought a number of games to his house. So many in fact I had to drive them there the day before as I was going by bus on the day.

We decided to try Troyes which was a first for him. He had been watching videos online, so he had some idea what it was about but from there and getting to grips with cards and such is a step or two.

I left the expansion activity cards and events in, but left out the scoring cards. We played with the purple die and nothing else from the expansion.

J. won the first game before I took the next two, but it was a success and he seemed eager to play again soon.

After dinner we decided to re-visit Caverna: The Cave Farmers. I had a great 2nd game but flunked the other two, so J. won this round 2-1. It was great fun and a game I keep thinking about, especially since I can't seem to crack the 100 bar.

On Sunday V. and I sat down to play Kingdom Builder. I had only slept 2½ hours so it was some achievement that we even got to play at all - even more so that we persevered and managed 11 plays. It also meant we completed that section of our 10x10 (and 15x15) challenge.

Go us!

The Week Ahead:

Well, seeing as it is half-way over... not much gaming. I have been at university every day studying for my next two exams and when I get home I slump in front of this screen, playing games - or getting an early night.

On Saturday we are going to a wedding, so no gaming this weekend either. I do hope that we might sneak in a play or two of something light from now until Sunday evening but who knows.
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