This is the weekly geeklist for the Swedish Meatball GeekChat League! Only members are to add items (please add your weekly games played); civil comments from non-members are welcome.
Rotation: Hanibalicious ← up next Osirus smorange Jythier fateswanderer sgosaric Sorp222 AAArg_ink chearns qwertymartin lacxox Jugular bnordeng ellephai
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- As I warned you some time back that it would be, this geeklist is composed of miscellaneous items inspired by what is going on in my gaming life right now. Any semblance of thematic coherence can be attributed to the rise of Hanabi club.
On last week's Round-Up list, Brad remarked: "I know this is a super-simplistic game, but I love to see us gamers finding the move that provides the ultimate benefit."
One of my gaming comrades recently acquired Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge, which I have enjoyed playing with her on several occasions now. I can't remember all the precise situations that have come up, but it has become a frequent lament of hers that she would like to see this game have a set of rules written for and by serious gamers--that is, rules that wouldn't just give you a general idea of how to play, but would also address and clarify all the weird edge cases that will eventually manifest.
A thing that I hate is gaming with people who don't take a game seriously that I do take seriously. A classic example is Hedbanz for Adults!, which admittedly is just Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral with silly headgear. I enjoy this as a serious deduction game, but the silly headgear prompts some people to enjoy it as a "let's get drunk and laugh at each other" game.
So, are there games that you take more seriously than other people? Games that you take less seriously than other people? Games that you are willing to play both seriously and nonseriously depending on the people and circumstances? Do you find it annoying or enjoyable when people get analytical over something like Round Up? Do you think all games should have more solid rules, or do you think the level of rules, like the level of play, should match the target audience?
In this picture we see a giant backgammon set made to play at the beach. I have a backgammon set made for the beach, though it's completely different than this one. Mine is not oversized or handmade, and it has a waterproof rubber board that rolls up. I also have a floating backgammon set made to play in the water.
What's your feeling about bringing games into unlikely circumstances, like playing at the beach? Is this something you like to do, or would you rather keep gaming in the gameroom and other activities in their place?
If you have or would do this, what sort of unlikely circumstances have you played or would you like to play games in? Have you ever modified game parts or made a DIY version to be able to do this?
Soon I'm going to a boardgaming convention. It's a small con where 99% of the activity is open gaming, and the participants bring the games to be played.
When you go to this type of con, or if you were to do so, how do you pick the games to bring? -- Games too long to get played in your regular gaming settings -- Your favorite games -- Games you haven't played in a while or don't get to play often enough -- Newly acquired games that you're eager to try out -- Games you know other congoers also like and will want to play with you -- Newly acquired games that you hope someone else there will be able to teach you -- Games that are hard to get to the table at home for whatever reason -- Whatever games you just happen to feel like playing at the moment -- Games selected on some other principle Suggest a game I should take to this con, and why.
The nature of Hanabi is that the game rules leave a lot up to the players, in terms of conventions of play and what sort of talk and conduct is allowable.
The disadvantage of this is that different groups evolve different conventions and styles of play, so that if you assemble a random group of people to play this game, you may find that they've brought a mix of conflicting assumptions to the table, and that everyone thinks everyone else's style of play is horrifying and wrong. I've definitely reached the point where I avoid Hanabi with strangers.
The advantage of it is that if you play Hanabi a good deal with the same group, not only does the group establish its own conventions and limits, but subtleties of play emerge and it becomes an ever-richer experience.
If you play Hanabi, what has your experience been in these regards? How would you compare the emergent teamwork of Hanabi to that of other coop games?
How willing are you to try a new game you haven't heard of and know nothing about? (If you like, suppose that you're in an on-the-spot situation where you don't have the opportunity to research the game--or would you always pull out your phone and do a quick BGG check before saying yes or no?)
What are the most important factors in influencing your decision? -- What type of game it is -- What it looks like -- Online info (what would you look for?) -- Length of game -- Your relationship with the person asking you to play -- Age of the game -- Other factors?
Do you have gaming associates you can persuade to try a new-to-them game with you? Do you have gaming associates who can persuade you to try a new-to-you game?
Last Monday I played Keythedral for the first time. Although this was a good game on the whole, it has one rather common and annoying characteristic: it's one of those games that begins with a setup round (you're drafting cards, or laying out tiles, or something), and your fate in the game will greatly depend on the strategic choices you make in the setup round, but if you're playing for the first time, you don't yet know how to make wise decisions.
Settlers of Catan is another such game, and that's why it comes with a first-game prescribed setup. In Keythedral, you lay out tiles and houses to build the board at the start of the game. Then you play the game, realize why all your tile placements were ill-chosen, and regret everything.
This experience really made me see the value of a game-teaching technique I don't habitually use, but probably sometimes ought to. What would have been great in the Keythedral game (in which 3 of 4 players were new to the game) would have been to build the board, play maybe a turn, and then tear it up and start over. Then we would have understood much better the consequences of our choices when we built the board for real. I think there are many games that could benefit from this play-a-round-then-reboot approach.
Do you ever use this technique when you teach games? What games can you think of that it is well suited to?
Last Monday night we played the Keythedral game described above, and then it was Hanabi Club time! We scored our first (well, my first) 25, but it came with an asterisk. One of the players pulled an unexpected move that the other two didn't think should be allowable.
The situation was that one person had three cards of the same color on her rack, say the red 3 (which was immediately playable), 4, and 5. The other player spent a chip on his turn to tell her those three cards were red, but when he told her which ones they were, he pointed to them in numerical order, which was visibly suggestive as it wasn't the order they happened to be sitting in. Would you consider this a legitimate move or not?
We had a really good deal and might well have won the game even without those shenanigans, though we'll never know. We played a second game of Hanabi and had a rare lightning-strike defeat.
Back home, my mom has been over this week and we're continuing to explore the new Dominion release, and also playing games that begin with F. Dominion x5 Fluxx x2 FITS Freight Train
On Friday, I opened the swimming season with one of my Monday comrades, and we experimented with the most exciting development of this gaming week: !
It was quite successful. We'd been discussing many possibilities for how to make aquatic Hanabi happen, but what we ended up using was the deluxe tile edition pictured here, and two kickboards. One kickboard was for our hands and the fireworks, and the other was for the deck and discard heaps. The latter was on a short leash so it could float wherever and just be reeled in when needed.
We'd been concerned about the stability of the tiles, but they showed no inclination whatever to fall over (though this might have become a greater challenge if we hadn't been the only ones in the pool). An unexpected bonus was that when the tiles get wet, they tend to stick together, so stacking the fireworks was surprisingly feasible.
I'm sure we'll add some refinements, and we might need a larger playing surface for more people, but on the whole, we were very pleased with our first venture into aquatic Hanabi. We also got another 25 (this time without any sketchy sequential pointing).
Quite a bit of gaming this week considering that I was on vacation. I brought the Travel Edition of Ingenious with me. Jenn and I played several matches throughout the week. I won them all, but she came close on one and could have beaten me with a meaner move at the end.
We happened to run into a friend of Jenn's (also named Jen) as we were walking down the street in Toronto. We didn't have any plans later that night after going to see Ex Machina, so I suggested that we get together for board games afterward. I expected that this would involve some gaming, as I was aware that Jen's partner is
Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message.
Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont.
It did. They treated us to some take-out Indian food and Adam introduced us to Medina and Infiltration. I had been looking for an opportunity to give Medina a try for a long time. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed it a great deal. It has a similar feel to Dorra's MarraCash. To win, you have to encourage other players to help you out by manipulating incentives. Simple rules, deep decisions. Dorra rarely disappoints. I won this one by taking palaces surrounding the markets early. That meant that no one could lay markets without giving me a lot of points, which meant that I was free to do other things, including one particularly nasty move to limit the potential for growth of one of Adam's key palaces.
Infiltration was okay, I guess. I like Dominion and I like Kingdom Builder, so I was hopeful that DXV might have designed something equally enjoyable. Infiltration is not that something. It's very light, essentially an Ameritrash Incan Gold but with a higher probability of everyone losing, as occurred in our game. Looking back, I can see what we could have done to avoid the outcome, and although a more cautious approach would have worked out better in this play, it could have easily gone otherwise. There's so much luck it's difficult to strategize except in retrospect. In our play, the game had an unfortunate mismatch between fun and optimal play. Never a good thing.
Friday night we met up with some friends for food and drinks. The group decided to go to a board game cafe afterward. Not Snakes & Lattes, which, being the best place in town, we thought might be too busy to walk in and get a table. We went elsewhere. They had a much smaller selection. We played 6p Balderdash, Cockroach Poker, and a few rounds of Telestrations. Telestrations went over especially well. Good times with good friends.
Earlier in the week I played some Settlers of Catan, with some expansions. I am going to review them eventually. Some of them are good expansions, but I still do not enjoy Settlers of Catan.
Saturday game night I got to try: Defenders of the Realm, which is like Pandemic wearing a World of Warcraft hat. Sadly, while it takes the dice-rolling and plastic figs of WOW, it doesn't include all my favorite parts -- namely the character customization through skills and gear, and the interesting decisions of which skills to use how and when to modify your die rolls. So, glad to have tried it, would play again if asked but not a first pick.
And we got a 5p game of The Scepter of Zavandor, hooray. 3 of the other players had played Phoenicia with me previously, and the last player is a hardcore gamer so it wasn't a problem for him to pick it up. In fact, after the game two of the other players said they felt it wouldn't have been so bad to start right in with Zavandor, but at least one player appreciated the Phoenicia background, so I still feel justified (especially as the last time I tried to introduce Zavandor to a group, they seemed a bit overwhelmed).
And, since they had a vague idea of how that sort of economic snowball is played, I ended up barely winning by only a few points, which I think is impressive given how Zavandor is a game that decidedly rewards experience. So, hopefully it will get to the table there again, and now that people are familiar with the game, it'll go even better.
(1) Tigris & Euphrates - I see the quality of the game in here, but it isn't really calling me back to play again. My two plays of the game to everyone else's zero plays seemed to be a much bigger advantage than I expected. I won 12-6-5-5. I'm sure I will play Tigris again, but it just hasn't yet captured my attention like it seems to have for so many others.
(2) Round Up - My first ever play with all grown-ups and we won. I don't really play games online and, if I do for some reason, I don't record those plays. This time, I recorded the play. Good work everybody! Hey... shouldn't I see "Round Up" on a bunch of Meatballs' lists of games played last week?
(3) TAMSK - I was beaten twice. In the first game, I thought I had the key piece trapped, but it snuck through the middle of the board. Oops! I had the second game won near the end, but I let the 15 second timer run out when it was my turn... Oops! I find this to be a very clever, albeit simple, abstract game with timers.
Three of my standbys to play with Sarah (she won 3-2 overall) and when she got tired of gaming, I tried out some of the Onirim expansions that I hadn't investigated yet. Each mini expansion tends to add one thing that makes the game more difficult and one that makes it easier - an interesting approach to add complexity while maintaining balance. I'm interested in trying some tailored combinations out now, but Sylvion is arriving any day now!
...the headlamps of your eyes will make them dream.
Boom. Lots of gaming this week King of Frontier ww 3p x2 Puerto Rico and Carc had a baby. A baby that is both as fast and as smooth as a porpoise. I love it, Megan and her Mother loved it too- they both took one match. I think my favourite part is how you constantly have to balance, due to the short nature of the game and the randomness present in the development tile pull, the choice for large, efficient areas that may or may not be fully built versus small, easily built areas. At 30 minutes a play, I don't ever see this game outstaying its welcome. It's a perfect little slice of game, and it reminds me of that thoroughly-tested Dominion or RFTG game length, in that the short length is just just long enough to allow short engine-less point grabs compete with full engine building.
Roll for the Galaxy ww 4p x1 Megan just abused GalRen. I tried to piggy back with some free ship actions, but I ended up just short. I do love this game. It's so interesting. I can't wait until I get comfortable enough to start milling for specific tiles, as I'm still at the "zen-like flow" level of competency.
Lewis & Clark 3p x1 Using Coboway as my main engine, I basically ran the other players into the ground. It was their first time, and I hope they enjoyed it, but even messing up turns and trying to go a little easy on them, I ended up across the finish line with both of them just about to hit the first mountain range. I do love this game, but I want to play with Megan, and other people who are similarly at her level now, because there is so much in that game, so many little efficiencies, counter-moves, etc that end up having snowball-like-effects, I can't really teach it to new players without just crushing them. That's a good thing, as it means there's a real skill level, but also a bad thing, as, you know. Social gaming tends to suffer. I would love an L&C group akin to Lori's Hanabi group cult.
Ra: TDG ww 4p x1 Raaaa! This never fails to please me, despite getting tied for last due to my monumental ignorance ignoring monuments.
Robinson CARUSO: Cursed Island and whatnot ww 4p x1 Ignacy once again creates a super-thematic euro with over-fiddly bits, too many edge cases and unclear rules that, despite what I just said, is more fun than any sort of large-scale sickness or forbidden landscape. I really love the simultaneous action programming- it makes it really... co-operative.
P.S. It's pronounced CRUSOE, fellow players.
Black Box ww 2p x2 What a wonderful mastermind-esque deduction game. Have you tried this Lori/George? It's simple, it's fast, and it's quite pleasing, not unlike a good sudoku.
Helvetia ww 4p x1 This game has so much more going for it than you see at first glance. I love the way that player choices really shape the nature of the game in that everything you choose affects other players, whether it's adjusting the number of available breeding couples due to marriage, children, building, tradings- ahhh it's just such a brilliant mishmash of mechanics, most of which feel fresh. When I play it, I feel like we're all inside a bubblegum-bubble, slowly pushing out different sides, and the manner in which you push or knead the sides really affects how everyone else is able to push. I think I might bump this to a ten again, as playing that last game really inviguorated my love for it. Also Hanibal:L&C::Megan:Helvetia- she is dynamite with a laser beam, that one. I think I only got second because I avoided all of her production chains, and bottomed out my engine for the build-bonus.
I also love any sort of cute farming or town-building game that generates that much invective and obscenity- and especially such directed at other players, not the board. It is a highly interactive, superbly cutthroat experience, when you really get down to it, but really I can't believe that red stole my goddamn bread bonus.
As usual, games ordered from most fun to least (although even the least fun this week was quite fun).
After moving my ex dating partner's brother from Montréal to Québec city, and having a bit over a bottle of wine, I played a game of Kingdom Builder with my ex-dating partner before going to bed (staying the night in Québec city before driving back the next day. While I played poorly, I was strongly reminded of just how much I like this game.
Another crushing defeat for my sister in common law and I against my father and my brother at Taboo. This was Friday night and I was pretty drunk before we opened up and finished off a bottle of Porto. Most of the rest of these games were played the next day and I was well hung over.
Played two games of Patchwork incorrectly. Different rules mistakes both times (and then I got the rules right for the third game which was between the two people I had played in the two wrong games). However, even played wrong the game was great, and I watched the played right game so I feel comfortable saying that this one is a winner.
Camel Up won the SdJ? After two games Saturday, I can see why. It is awesome fun! Plus, you stack camels! I also don't understand how people who go on and on about how much they want a reprint of Manila can complain about a game that has basically the exact same dynamic winning the SdJ. I had a lot of fun calling out Go Green Go! Or groaning when the camel I had backed fell into those -1 pits.
Two games of Red7, which I really need to own one of these days. They were three player games, which I don't enjoy as much as two player games.
An online game of Round-Up which was a lot of fun, but I already went on about on the list last week.
A game of Glass Road where I chose really badly, only getting three actions per round for all but one round when I got four. However, I made the best purchasing decisions for buildings and so tied for first place. I thought for sure I was out of the running. Glass Road is odd because it is over so fast. You barely have time to get anything done (which will help out the replayability enormously).
On Saturday before going to the meetup I made a quick stop to purchase two games that were listed on craigslist, Sorry! Sliders (which got played twice at the meetup to everyone's surprise) and a 1962 copy of Acquire with the wooden blocks. For both of them the boxes are heavily damaged, and the Sorry! Sliders game was missing a critical piece for four player play. But I bought them both because I was like, eh, it's 12$ and I'm getting a complete copy of the original Acquire. The Sliders games were fun (although we had to play with only three sliders each).
A game of Backgammon against my father. I won because he tried to race me from behind after taking some risky moves that set us both back, but him back more. I was surprised as his play is usually more cautious than that.
String Railway with the family... but I'm not sure how well received it was. They all liked the idea of the game, but felt that the string made the game less robust than they would like. You play a string, the move is legal, but the table gets breathed on a bit and now the string wasn't where it was before. This is funny to me, as I figured that would be totally acceptable to people who play games casually, but unacceptable to people who play games frequently. But I was the only one at the table who had no problem with that aspect of the game. I definitely want to play it again, hopefully it will be enjoyed more next time.
Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends is a very very tactical game. By which I mean, there is so much to think about each turn. Way too much. The game is quite brilliant, but I don't think any game is brilliant enough to warrant that much downtime between turns (or so many guilty feelings on your own turn as you stare and stare at your cards and the board trying to figure out this turn's particular puzzle). Certainly it should not be played with more than two players. I'll probably end up playing it again sometime, but it will be the last time unless I notice that it speeds up significantly with experience.
11 sessions, 39 hours. That's as much as they'll pay us. We're good.
I came to the conclusion I like doing this. Not all the time, but one workshop per year, maybe two, is neat. Me and a friend make a good team (2 extroverts) even if he secretly wants to turn kids into gamers. Well with these kids it's a hard sell, so I'm not worried (and when they turn 13 or so, they can't afford to be playing with "kids" doing "childish stuff"). Attention spam plummeted in two years, since my previous workshop, plus this year we had more kids with learning disabilities and some conflict between two gipsy kids and rest made all boys more irritable. But we managed quite well.
Some days it's just perfect. They're kids, they're engaging they're fun to be around. And some days, like today, it's just, oh damn, why me? What's with this kid, or these kids, aaaaa. (that's probably a normal adult reaction?). But as I've said, it's part of the package and as something on the side, it's cool.
Today's issue was that I've promised to fix some games we've bought for them two years ago and they have since demolished. I probably should have taken this on my shoulders, but when writing an application grant I put in the budget and this was the last session, so... had to be done. Playing with them this year I've came to the conclusion that's it's not worth the bother - whatever games they get, the "complex" ones (those where you need to read the rules before playing) will stay on the shelf and the simpler ones will wait for that moment when one bored kid or one lacking attention will either lose a crucial piece or mess with components in a way nobody will touch it after. So kids will go back to playing Uno.
But anyhow - I've fixed Pyramid of Pengqueen (4 new magnet figures, painted with acrylics + lacquer, 2 new life tokens), Survive: Escape from Atlantis! (new die - painted, luckily I had a replacement meeple of the right colour as some were slightly damaged and they've sent me replacements).
The session started pretty good - two plays of Get Bit!. One four player (I won) and one 6 players, a rarity with this game (not as popular as others), but today boys really got involved. By which I mean they swore a lot and more and more as the game went by. "F**k" goes a kid "Gosh, darn it" I intervened. "Oh s***w him" "Oh, the devil?" I suggested. Soon after my teaching partner started implementing sanctions for swearing (half a limb, of a plastic figure, of course). This got some attention. And our amusement (hey, if you're not at least a little bit evil, you have no place in running such a workshop.).
These kids left and we've played a game of Survive: Escape from Atlantis! which went by pretty normally. New kids joined and I've pulled Pyramid of Pengqueen out of the bag - that game which was demolished after only a week in youth centre, which I let them know, ahem. 2 minutes in (I was the mummy) a new kid enters the room - "He's here", he tells me and shows me where I knew was an opposing piece. I look at him and realise it's one of the probable Pyramid destroyers from 2 years ago. "You realise, you've just ruined the game?". Nope, he didn't, he wasn't defending himself he wasn't ashamed, he just looked at me cluelessly. And it's not that he's that young.. After this exchange and another kid deciding to use the incident as an excuse to leave the table, the "Pyramid destroyer" ended playing with us and wasn't doing too bad, actually. It was older kids which ended up providing for mummy's lunch (I won). One more game, another mummy victory (but not mine). It was hell trying to grab kids' attentions when they were making pancakes right behind us!
We've tried to play Scotland Yard as a closer (they have this really old copy, with 1980s art, neat). With kids changing their minds and leaving the table - but with this game it just means somebody else takes their pawn! Like they would design a game for exactly such players. They've caught me after 8th turn as I don't notice one connection. So my co-teacber wanted to try playing as Mister X, being sure, he'll do better. He made it till turn 3 (didn't notice a connection). Heh. It would be really useful for Mr X to have a copy of the map for themselves. (maybe they have in newer versions?)
... Oh and Round Up! (just logged, thanks for the reminder Brad)
Harbour was pretty terrible. There are some fun ideas but they don't hold together as a good game. Le Havre is soo much better I find it difficult to understand why someone would produce this. There are all the downsides of Le Havre but little upside. - You need to parse several personal tableaus of 'buildings' across a table using less than ideal iconography. - Converting one good into another just to satisfy some arbitrary exchange rate doesn't excite. - The exchange rates change when someone buys a building so it's a legitimate move to buy whatever building you can just to switch the market up and devalue a following player's tableau - If you try and hoard goods to mitigate the revaluation you are forced to exchange all your goods so you lose the value of any goods you might expect to retain.
I enjoyed getting American Rails on the table but unfortunately we weren't quite able to finish, poker chips would have helped a little. Now that I've played this sort of game more I can see more viable options to weaken opponent's position. I like that there are some weak actions available to a player who could only otherwise improve a leader's position. I would like to play this with the same group many times over.
I'm hoping I can get Captains of Industry to the table this evening!
I've been on a complete gaming drought but I've rediscovered photography which was my expensive hobby befor this one.
I've been listening to an excellent podcast "On Taking Pictures" where they talk about the "gooey stuff" more than the gear. Actually they almost never geek out on gear unless its old stuff or technical stuff (as opposed to just recent releases).
In any case, they have weekly assignments. The one from last week was "camera motion".
And I've been catching up on old archived assignments. So this one was "horizon"