GCL Mafia 228: I'm a SpeCial SnowFlake
Robin Levins
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki and/or the Mafia wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread. Also, if you want an easy-to-use tool for collating your plays for the week, try out Thesp's GCL Games Played Tool!

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

Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
Beloch
Happymrdave
captainraffi
fdubois
touchstonethefool
mith
bobcatpoet
charlest
Thesp

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of June 1-7, 2015. List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions. Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

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

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

3) A top five question is posed by some random member of the GCL and answered by the current poster. These top fives are usually game-related, but can include other topics as well.
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1. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:503]
Robin Levins
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Round Rock
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The game of the week is Bridge. I imagine many of you haven't played it before, but I know at least a few of you have. What do you know of Bridge? Have you ever been interested in playing it?

If you have played it, what do you rate it? Is it something you seek out to play?

I shared my thoughts on it during the Geek Madness Tournament of '015:
Thesp wrote:
There are many things working against this game. You have to have exactly 4 players to play it. More than that, you have to have exactly 4 players who have some experience playing it or have learned it for it to work out well in any form or fashion. It's not a pick up game unless everyone already knows the game, and learning the mechanics of the game and the bidding takes a learning session. And it's not helped by its casual reputation as the game of Old People (TM).

That said, if you have 4 people who have played before (or are willing to get into it), who are competitive but don't mind winning/losing, who truly enjoy the "What is my partner saying by that bid?" or "How can I communicate as much information as possible with the limited things I can say that affect the game state?" aspects of the game, it's sublime. In the time's where my wife and I have had a couple friend to play with, there really may be no better game to play (and there certainly is no better trick-taking game than a fine game of Bridge). It plays quickly, requires tough decisions and skillful play while still allowing for friendly conversation, and the variety of hands that can come out with a 52-card shuffle ensure that the game never gets old or solved.

In my own top 10 list, every game I have is from 2004 or newer, save Bridge, which occupies my 2nd spot. With 3 good friends and a lazy weekend afternoon, I can think of no better way to spend my time.


Tangentially, what do you think of trick-taking games, and do you have a favorite?
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2. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Battle for Faerûn [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:878] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Robin Levins
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Do you have a game that you absolutely love, but seem to be alone in this regard or otherwise have a difficult time getting to the table?
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3. Board Game: Facts in Five [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:3863]
Robin Levins
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Round Rock
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Top 5 Games That Do Something That Feels Very Unique

This is somewhat of a difficult list, as it's somewhat moment-dependent. After all, for a window a few years ago, Dominion would be a shoo-in for this list. Perhaps there's an argument that it still deserves to be here, but Dominion has moved from the only deck-building game of it's kind to being the forerunner of a host of deckbuilding games. Invariably, when a game does something truly unique, other games will try to use the mechanic or idea that makes a game unique and appropriate it for their own, diluting the uniqueness of the original idea. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, it's the nature of game development. Given this premise, I present to you my own Top 5 Games That Do Something That Feels Very Unique (as of this moment in 2015):



5. 7 Wonders
Alright, bring on the haters. I pondered what to put in this last spot for a long while before I settled on 7 Wonders. The card drafting isn't unique by any stretch, nor is the tableau building, but the scalability to 7 players is, absolutely. I remain fascinated by the ability of this game to remain as deep and satisfying with 3 players as it is with 7. For someone that hosts large game nights and needs a good 7 player game from time to time, playing this game with 7 players in relatively quick speed makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.



4. Witness
Every game I've played of this so far has seen players smiling and giggling. the stories and clues and mysteries fit together so neatly that it's just a gem of a game.



3. Tragedy Looper
Co-op puzzle-solving, where you rewind time after bad things happen and try to stop them from happening the next time. (Oddly, some bad things can happen, you just want to make sure the right bad things don't happen.) I don't know of any other game that plays like this one does. It wouldn't surprise me if someone comes up with a more streamlined version of this in the next few years, but for now nothing else does what Tragedy Looper does.



2. Roll for the Galaxy
To me, this is the most innovative use of dice I've seen in a game to date. How they are used in action selection, as well as how you can tailor the kinds of dice you get to ultimately affect your later rolls, is incredibly creative. It blends the luck of the dice with strategic and tactical choice so smoothly that it demands a place on this list.



1. Bridge
I prefaced this list talking about how situated in time this list would be. That said, I have a hard time imagining Bridge ever leaving this list. Other trick-taking games exist in a wide variety of forms, and some look remarkably similar to Bridge. For example, Spades is a much simplified form of Bridge that mechanically does most of what Bridge does, except for the bidding. But as I said in the GCL Madness 2015 rounds earlier this year:

Thesp wrote:
The mechanics of the game are very easy. It's the conventions of bidding that are indeed complex, and moreso than Tichu. (How do you convey just how good or bad your hand is, and what suits you're good in, when everything you communicate potentially increases your commitment to the number of tricks your team will take? It's delightfully tense.) However, I have found that exploring the game and its complexities is incredibly rewarding. If you find someone who can teach you and is willing to be patient (as most people are), it's worth a couple of hours learning to see if it's for you.


I think that there are fewer "lifestyle" games being devised now than ever there were before, which is understandable. I think for something to do what Bridge does, it likely would need its own conventions to naturally develop over time, which I don't see happening any time soon. Compound this with the number of different possible conventions out there for Bridge (some play Goren, some American Standard, some other offshoots like Every Hand an Adventure, and even more I'm sure I'm not aware of), all within the same fixed game space, it's like people learning to speak beautiful languages with a very restrictive set of tonal sounds to work from. It's a masterpiece we shall not see again in our lifetimes.


Honorable Mentions
Agents of SMERSH
Agricola
Serengeti
Hanabi
Lords of Vegas
Neuroshima Hex! 3.0
Pit
Pizza Box Football
A Study in Emerald


What do you think? Is there something I have that doesn't deserve to be here? What have I totally overlooked that deserves a spot on the list?
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4. Board Game: Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:671]
Robin Levins
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 10.   Puerto Rico
 10.   Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War
 8.0   India Rails
 8.0   Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise NEW!

A relatively light week of gaming, but our Thursday night game nights are really picking up. We had 7 people this week (counting myself), and in addition to playing two favorites (RftG & PR), I had the pleasure of learning Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise. In it, there are 5 animals racing. You receive an animal in secret at the start of the game, and choose another one secretly, and are pushing for these two to win or place as highly as possible. All players have hands of 6 cards, and on your turn, you play between 1-4 cards of a single animal down. Players continue in this manner until there are 8 cards down, or 4 of a single animal. Then, animals move according to the cards played, and each animal moves differently. The rabbit moves 2 if there's at least one rabbit card played, unless he's in the league and 4 are played (when he moves 0!). The sheep moves X+1 spaces, but stops at water spaces. The turtle always moves at least 1, even if no turtle cards are played. It was quick filler and a lot of fun, and likely something I could play with AnnaMarie in a year or so. I must now acquire it.
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5. Board Game: Doomtown: Reloaded [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:844]
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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Pandemic
Doomtown: Reloaded New!
BattleCON: Devastation of Indines New!

Pandemic
Still Katie's favorite, and it'd been a while since we played. We shuffled in some On the Brink events for the first game, and then tried the purple mutation strain. This game was really only notable because things were going really well and then we got one of those annoying almost-back-to-back epidemic turns and Europe just went to absolute shit. Lost on outbreaks totally unrelated to the purple stuff.

Doomtown: Reloaded
The guys in the "dad group" often do something called "Breakfast Club", which is a weekend game session from 5:30-8:00 in the morning. Two of them live in the same neighborhood making it easy for them, but I was happy to join as I usually wake up really early on weekends anyway and Katie sleeps in until past 8. No brainer. Ended up only being two of us so I finally learned Doomtown, which Matt has been pushing on us. It has a really cool/unique system of locations which creates a tactical movement aspect. Your guys can only fight where they are, or a location adjacent to where they are but if it's adjacent they have to tap to move there. Adds some really cool stuff. Weirdly, both games ended in less than 2 rounds which apparently is common with new players. I liked it a lot, but not sure if I liked it enough to get it.

Battlecon
I had only ever observed this game but hadn't actually played it. Matt and I went through the walkthrough and finished that game. Again, both liked it a lot and I wish we could have played a few times. It's clearly a game that benefits from repeated play, especially given how many different and very unique characters there are. I'll keep this one, and hope to get it to the table. Katie may like it if we stick with only 1 character each for a while. Might give it a shot.

On my Mind
Finished up the baby prep classes at the hospital, and got to see the delivery and recovery rooms. Getting really close now. We have an appointment for an ultrasound on Thursday because the baby grew quite a bit in the last couple of weeks and the doctor wants to get an idea for the size. Hopefully all is well. Babies room is about 95% complete, just need some shelves. We're basically in "any day now" mode which is equal parts exciting and terrifying. The classes we took were really good though I'm not sure if they made me more or less nervous.
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6. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:192]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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This was a wonderful week for gaming (with one little exception)

10  Race for the Galaxy
9  Bruxelles 1893 NEW!
9  Indonesia NEW!
3  Shanghaien NEW!

Indonesia was a game I was pretty sure I would like, as I'm a big Splotter fan and economic game fan. The game did not disappoint gameplay-wise. Let me get the physical negatives out of the way real quick - the map is pretty but not especially functional, and there are many confusing points on the board (with one of the islands just baaarely poking out over an ocean line being an egregious example of this). Then there's the issue of shipping - it's very important you track how many times each ship has been used but the board isn't really well-suited to doing this; it's easy to goof up (especially as people have to reconsider moves, which will inevitably happen) and felt rather fiddly.

So physical issues aside, the game is excellent. The way companies expand and can be merged is highly interesting, with the merger system of the game being both an interesting offensive and defensive weapon. The mergers do get rather mathy ("ok, so you owe 7/11ths of 209 for this company") but the way they work does make sense. The way they greatly affect the game yet aren't an overwhelming thing to put your research points into was also excellently handled.

My wife joined us for Indonesia, and she normally doesn't like the games that run quite this long, but she enjoyed it quite a bit. She was definitely in the running at the end, as she was making a boatload (har har ) off her shipping companies but my junk food siap faji (microwave noodles, apparently) empire and rubber company were just making me too much each round. She said that having to manage so much stuff at once at work these days was making her better at this type of game - and after she beat me at Power Grid last week and did so well at this, I think I agree... One other player was hoping that he could be an oil baron and scoop up lots of money that way but the alignment of the cities in this game simply didn't make that pan out quite well enough for it to work for him.

Hope to play again soon.

I'm a confessed Feld fan and Bruxelles 1893, despite not being from him, feels like a very good Feld game. It's a bit of a point salad, as there's lots of actions you can do (with availability changing between rounds), but they all tie in together in a very cohesive fashion and there are multiple valid ways to get points at the end (several reviews seem to think the architecture track is the only way to win, but I'll cordially disagree). Interaction between players was definitely present, as we were constantly trying to make sure we were bidding up the "column bonus" cards as needed, avoiding giving bonuses as much as we could on the actions board, and not allowing people to sell art whenever we could (but you can't stop it all the time).

I see a lot of potential for future plays of this. If I had to pick a concern, it's that the "intersections" bonus didn't seem to be all that viable point-wise (maaaaybe if you really pushed that up early game) and the art sales got really stale if even two players didn't push very hard to acquire new art pieces. Too early to say for sure but overall, highly enjoyed this one. It was right up my alley and it delivered.

So what didn't deliver? Shanghaien. I like Michael Schacht's games quite a bit, generally, but this one was a big letdown. The scoring mechanism sounded clever but the core game felt very random even with the buffer of two dice being rolled at a time but only one being used. You could try to strategically place your dice, but there was an essentially equal chance your opponent could just undo what you did with every move.

My wife felt the same and summarized it nicely: "it feels like you're just rolling the dice and hoping you get a good number." She absolutely destroyed me at the game (she won almost every tie for several rounds) but didn't enjoy it much and said she wasn't really interested in playing again.

Going to the sale pile. Meh.

So yeah, that game aside, great week. Actually, not liking Shanghaien means I can get rid of it and make space, and that's a good thing (even if the box is small, it's still space!)... so nevermind, a great week in every way.
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7. Board Game: Spyfall [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:409] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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 7.15   Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
 N/A   Unpublished Prototype x4
 6.5   Lords of Waterdeep x2 (pass and play on iPad)
 7.6   Camp Grizzly x3
 7.2   Spyfall x10 NEW!
 8.4   One Night Ultimate Werewolf x3
 7.25   Greed x3
 6.8   Chaosmos NEW!
 6   Lanterns: The Harvest Festival NEW!
 6.6   For Sale NEW!
 7.25   Dark Moon NEW!
 6.5   Welcome to the Dungeon x3 NEW!
 7.5   Two Rooms and a Boom x2
 8   Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery


Origins was crazy (but Geekway was better).

Spyfall
This started almost immediately upon our arrival. I hadn't played it yet and Chaz kept getting us to play the free online version. He ended up picking the physical copy up and this game is a blast. A nice twist on the typical hidden role game and it has a refreshing take on forcing the players to be clever. I love that the question you ask is as important as the answer you give. Really cool stuff going on here and we really enjoyed it, playing it a ton throughout the weekend.

We had one particularly memorable game while eating dinner where I was a good guy with a buddy and Chaz was the spy. We kind of figured this out and but Chaz immediately yelled out "Circus Tent!" as his location guess. He was pretty far off and this became a re-occurring joke throughout the weekend. #CircusTent

We also met up with the Action Phase Games guys who happened to be sitting across from us in their booth which worked out well for demoing them my new version of Shiv they requested. We ended up joking around and hanging out all weekend, even playing their new game coming to kickstarter in a week which is pretty enjoyable (Scoundrel Society). Travis Chance is a crude dude and downright hilarious.

Anyway, we played a few large games of Spyfall with them which was pretty awesome.

Dark Moon
Travis bought this before it sold out and I was eager to try it. After stumbling through the rules for a 6 player game and realizing his player screens weren't cut/folded/creased correctly (which led to many jokes and harassment of the game itself), we got it on. Early in the game Travis said if I was infected then they weren't going to publish my game, which was funny because I was infected. Team infected ended up winning narrowly as I tanked the game at the right moment, sending the whole station into chaos.

It definitely has a BSG light feel although the setting is a bit more "The Thing", which I love. Really dig this and hoping to get it in the future.

Shiv 2.0 (Unpublished Prototype)
They dug it and are interested. We had a great playthrough and all of their feedback was positive, especially considering I had only 2.5 weeks to expand the game by 300% to this new 100 card version. Travis said they had looked at "like 50 prototypes" recently and mine was the only they really liked. Although that kind of changed when they played a cool sounding deckbuilder prototype later in the con and then Travis joked they weren't going to publish my game.

The plan is to incorporate some tweaks that they have in mind and show them what I got at Gen Con. Nothing's signed yet but I'd be honestly shocked if they don't publish it based on reaction/discussion. Hopefully we get there at Gen Con and I'm looking forward to hanging out with them again.

Welcome To The Dungeon
Interesting. Totally a much better Gauntlet of Fools. Don't think I need to own it but fun to play.

Also, some dude came over to us when we were playing it asking if we worked for Jello. I paused and then said no. I've never heard anyone pronounce Iello "Jello" but it was humorous.

Two Rooms and a Boom
Playing with Tuesday Knight was fun, although playing with so many newbies made me crave for my own games with more experienced players. The first game I played in the bomber totally just hid and didn't even tell her own team. Ruined the game. Second game I was bomber and met Engineer early as well as meeting up with our spy and we coordinated a great victory.

The games were more memorable for Chaz stumbling around with his bottle of Fireball walking the edge of being rude and I was worried/hoping he'd get tossed out by the moderator.

Chaosmos
Interesting game and I liked it, but didn't enjoy it enough to warrant asking for a review copy or play it again. Kind of a case of too many other interesting things going on to really keep this game on my radar. I think it kind of also left me feeling like I wanted to play Cosmic Encounter more.

Lanterns
Fine filler, nothing amazing but enjoyable. It may have helped that we were partially drunk and I was able to trash talk beating Chaz on my first play despite the fact he's played it numerous times and is credited as a playtester.

Spartacus
The new Shadow of Death expansion is interesting and I definitely like it. 7 player Spartacus is probably not something you want to do on the regular, but it was awesome mostly because of the people I was playing with. Chaz and I ended up feeding money and cards under the table to another guy so he could end the game as it was 2 in the morning. This game was definitely running on alcoholic fumes.


A Fistful Of (Robert) Dinero
So being in a booth for 8 hours during the day kind of sucks. I'm not complaining as I was happy to be there helping sell my game but it's hard being chained to a stall with so much going on around you. I of course got out from behind the booth in small bursts and could have probably spent more time wandering but just an observation. Being able to walk over and talk to the Action Phase guys helped.

Sales were decent and we sold 47 copies of the game. Considering Aaron needed to sell 23 to break even he was happy. I think he realized he doesn't want to be a publisher going forward either and just wants to focus on design. This means Dinero will likely not be reprinted; Raf, you have a collector's item.

Two particular stories of note - one guy who we played Sail to India with last year at Origins came by and bought the game. He later came back and said it was one of the most fun games he's played at Origins and he really loved it. That was cool.

Second story is a kind of homely woman came by and walked up to us brazenly half-yelling, "Does it play solo?!?"

Aaron, being the business-minded salesman he is, looked at me instead of giving the obvious answer (the box says 3-8). I think he was hoping I'd somehow come up with a solo variant on the spot or something and I kind of just looked back in shock and said, "Not really..."

The woman was not impressed and immediately shot back, "FAIL!" and walked away. As she was departing she yelled back, "I'm 95% housebound and the only gamer in my home."


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8. Video Game: Splatoon [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:985]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Le Havre x2
Piñata NEW!ish
Seasons
Trains: Rising Sun
Trans Europa
Wizard

Although not a heavy week of gaming, some good plays.

I finally got to try Piñata. I'm a fan of Balloon Cup and have played with its variants. I think Piñata may actually be better. I'm tempted to pick it up, but am hesitant simply because I feel it's slightly redundant even though the two are mostly distinct games (i.e., different distribution in cards and Piñata has wilds).

Seasons was my second play in person, but I've played numerous times on BGA. I like the game, but I feel like its bookkeeping makes it better to play online.

Matt and I played two games of Le Havre with the second being the full/normal game instead of the shortened one we usually play. I like the inclusion of the special buildings as they do spice things up, but the game is enjoyable either way.

---

As you can guess from my entry item, I got Splatoon last Thursday and have been playing the shit out of it. This is remarkable since I'm not a first/third person shooter fan. I worried I wouldn't enjoy the game at all after some difficulty getting used to the controls, but now I've got it down and am splattin' (not killing) fools sometimes more than they are me! So, it's been super fun and you all should buy a Wii U and play with me.
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9. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:60]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Games Played since June 1, 2015

 10.   Dominion x14 (Goko)
 10.   Brass x4 (OOTH)
 8.0   Ginkgopolis x3 (BAJ)
 7.5   Concordia x3 (BAJ)
 9.0   YINSH x2 (BAJ)
 8.5   Roll for the Galaxy x2 NEW! to Aerial
 7.0   Alhambra x2 (BAJ)
 6.0   Scrabble x2
 6.5   Kamisado

Started a bunch of online games this week, and also got in a few plays with Aerial. She enjoyed Roll for the Galaxy quite a bit more than her one play of Race - I'm hopeful it will get her familiar enough with the iconography to feel more comfortable with Race next time we try it.

My Brass play has been less than stellar lately - I don't remember the last time I won in a non-friendly outside of KotH and Madness. Part of it is bad cards, part of it is unknown opponents, but mostly I'm just not getting things quite right.

Dominion went pretty well this week. I won my first 8 before finishing up 3-3 yesterday. I got a lot of resignations before yesterday - mostly due to nasty attacks (for example, mafiascum (-1)-resigned N13, where I had a deck of 3x King's Court, 2x Minion, Ambassador, Curse). Games of the week:

mafiascum 26-25 Count Grishnakh - I think this was closer than it should have been; Mountebank should be faster than Soothsayer, but I had some bad luck drawing them together. After the Curses split evenly, I Prince'd a Mining Village and went Provnice, Province/Duchy, Duchy/Duchy, Province and on turn 22 I missed that Duchies would be the third pile (should I should have trashed my Prince'd Mining Village to finish it off at 28-22).
Catman Style 9-0 mafiascum - I tried to build some wacky double-Tactician Swindler engine to repeatedly muck up his deck and win the Ambassador tennis, totally failing to realize that I was probably going to give him free cards by hitting his Fortresses and also that Apprentice-Fortress is just stupidly good. His deck wasn't that great, but it didn't need to be.
mafiascum 16-8 Catman Style - This time my wacky build did work; I invested more heavily in Crossroads (with Great Hall on the board and also not caring about Estates from Ambassador so much) and was able to win the Curse split with a better Torturer engine and Ambassador - went from 3-5 after his turn 11 to 9-0 after my turn 18. I eventually just bought a few Duchies for a comfortable win while he was stuck buying Estates.
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10. Board Game: Hansa [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:718]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 N/A   Manoeuvre NEW!
 8   Last Will
 N/A   Hansa NEW!
 10   The Duke x2
 4   Puzzle Strike
 10   Hansa Teutonica

Hansa -- I finally got to play my copy. We were going to do a 4-player match, but at the very last minute a fifth guy showed up, so I tore down and play Last Will instead. When I did later play Hansa, it was with only 2 players, and I'm actually glad I waited. Now that I've played, I would be very hesitant to play with more than 2 players in the future; so much of the game is deciding where to leave the boat to screw your opponent over. With 3 players, that would certainly be mitigated.

Last Will was enjoyable with 5, but I played badly. I invested in three farms due to having a nice steward who cost me 2 pounds per farm I had. However, I never got any other form of money-bleed in motion, and that caused me to stagnate badly at the end. It turns out, Rich Uncle Rich did not want us to Buy The Farm with his money.

Manoeurvre last game of the night, and reminded my why I so rarely buy war games. I like the idea of the game, but needing a specific card to attack a specific unit means you have this really weird positioning element to the game that felt largely random to me? Also, while rolling many dice helped alleviate some of the randomness in the game, it was still frustrating when every bombardment failed. If asked to play again, I'd probably attempt some diplomatic way of doing something else.



Hansa Teutonica was online using the Tabletop Simulator. 3 player match where I went second. Mike (my friend from work who I've been playing with) has played with me half a dozen times, and immediately went for The Book. I managed to fend him off, and upgrade it first. After that, I focused on clogging the Book and Ledger while I started my Arnheim-Stendal offices. I ended up with 4 of the 5 Extra Office tokens, which proved useful later when Mike decided he would try to stop me from finishing my connections by buying the offices himself (I had no priviligium). In the end, it was not close at all, since I managed 11 offices, 8 towns, and 7 Bonus Tokens. Final score was 63-23-20.
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11. Board Game: Nations: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:715]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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"So long, play actor!"
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New Games

Unpublished Prototype (Eric Vogel's Unthemed Co-op) x1
Nations: The Dice Game x3 (Solo)

Old Games

Greed x1
Chosŏn x1
Zombie Dice (with Zombie Dice 2: Double Feature and Zombie Dice 3: School Bus) x3
BraveRats x10
Biblios x2
Sushi Go! x1

Vogel was back again this week with another prototype, and this time *I* get to be all mysterious and say that I can't tell you what the theme is due to an NDA! BUM BUM BUUUUUUM!

In any case, it's a co-op with variable player decks that sees you as protagonists seeking to complete tasks that are ordered randomly in two rows, and each of your action cards have ranges, meaning that certain tasks should be completed in certain orders based on setup and draw. The two points of interest were a hand management aspect (whereby you don't draw cards automatically, you get draws based on card effects that are few and far between) and an implementation of Fudge dice (which I think were based on the FATE system, but I'm not familiar enough to say) to modify tasks.

It was relatively simple and played in about 20 minutes, but it definitely fell on the "puzzly" side of co-ops, in that most of the challenge came from optimizing your plays as a group to get as much done as possible. Chalk up another "not bad at all" design still in development.

I debated whether I should log my solo plays of Nations: The Dice Game, but went ahead with it as the solo game is included in the rules. While I'm on record as not being a huge fan of Nations, I'm always interested in dice game implementations of board games and wanted to give this one a shot. There's less going in in this compared to similar fare like Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age, or at least, less unique civ aspects ported over from the base game (stuff like War and Famine are simply other ways to score points). That said, it feels like the best possible version of a simple dice-engine game that manages to capture a little of the Nations experience. Some may be turned off by the relative simplicity, but it makes the game ripe for expansion possibilities and a quick little jaunt in it's own right. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, though playing it with more people will also help solidify my opinion.
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12. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:421]
Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT?
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In the last week:

Tajemnicze Domostwo x 4
and
Chess x2


Mysterium was one of my very reasonable 2 purchases from the Expo last week. I got to play it with 2 and then 3 players and it's exactly what I thought it might be - Dixit without the problem posed by lack of inspiration (alright, sometimes you don't know what to do, but it's still easier and quicker, I'd argue).

Great fun, a proper co-op with only limited alpha-gamer-issues. And a 30 minute play time. I expect to see it a lot in the coming months. So far family only - but that's a good sign too.

Chess: 2 games against my son, and worryingly I had to work to win both. The second, in particular, I was in danger of losing throughout, till a silly queen giveaway let me clinch it. Turns out that he is likely, I think, to beat me before the age I beat my dad. I can live with that.

On my mind:

Comics. I decided a few weeks ago to revisit my favourite collections. I have now completed Preacher and Lucifer, both in their 9-or-so volume greatness; and am 8 volumes into Sandman, since I like to save the best till last.

These are amazing bits of art, I think. Thought provoking, moving, exciting, challenging; never boring.

I wondered about ebaying them off, but I think they'll repay a biannual visit.

And a terrific day out today choosing suits in my capacity as Best Man for one of my pals who marries in October; suits chosen, we hit the pub for a few afternoon hours. Much hilarity.
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13. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:364]
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Chicago Express: CE struck me as an 18xx lite, so I approached it strategically as such. This was a terrible idea. I had Red cornered, but all that meant was I was on an island, watching other lines make it to Chicago and cashing in. I didn't get in on any other companies until way too late. I somehow avoided last place, but this is a good game and one I would like to try again.

Tichu: Hadn't played it in months and then two weeks in a row. No problems this time and the cards were extremely in our favor; after trading successful Gran Tichus, we ended the game on consecutive successful Tichu calls and going 1-2 on both.

Tragedy Looper: Played an easy basic scenario because it had been a while. As usual, I was the Mastermind. I'm getting better at this; I was able to keep the main plot in doubt up until the very end. As this game does, it went to the wire. I was able to trigger a loss condition via intrigue on the penultimate day of the final loop. One role was still a total mystery to the players, so they had to guess and were wrong.

El Grande: Four player game, two of which were new. This was basically all me and Abbie, beating up on the new players and fighting for the win. I had things set up perfectly for the final round... then the King's Advisor card flipped over. Abbie was able to get that and position the king in the most advantageous place for her. I probably could have done better to prevent her from using it that way, so that was likely another tactical misfire on my part and it was the difference in the game. One of these sessions, I'm going to play it clean.

NOIR: Deductive Mystery Game: I like playing this with new people because you look like a magician when you have everyone's identity figured out and they don't even know who you are.

The Resistance: Avalonx4: This was a fantastic week for Avalon. First, we did a 10 player game with maximum chaos: All the special roles, including Lancelot, and Excalibur. This makes it extremely difficult for the good team to figure out what's going on. Evil Lancelot, figuring he'd switch sides, made his allegiance quite obvious in the hopes he'd switch to the good side and be accepted. That never happened. We thought we had it won, but in round 4, Excalibur was used by a unscrupulous minion of Mordred to force a second fail. But we rallied and figured out who to put on the final quest for the win!

There was another very tense affair, this time with 8. I was Percival and it was 2-2. We knew two of the evil people but not the third. We were down to two guys, one of which was good, the other evil. We proposed a team and ascertained via the voting it was probably a bad choice. One of the evil people got too coy and rejected it, allowing us another chance at it. Had he voted for it to go, they would've won.

And a first: We lost via voting. It was the fifth vote and one player was lecturing us about how, if we're good, we have to vote to accept the team. Being truculent, I said I was rejecting out of spite. So did another guy, for some reason MERLIN VOTED AGAINST IT, and then an evil person, taking a shot, voted against it. Auto-lose. Achievement unlocked!

Cosmic Encounter: Played with five, which is probably the ideal number. I was the Losers. The guy to my right was the Sorcerers, which made things really fun when we went against each other; I always declared upset and he had to figure out if I played a good card or not. And we'd always do those battles one-on-one. Good fun. The Kamikazes burned through all their ships and ended up completely in the Void; he had a card that allowed him to get all his ships back, but I stole it via Negotiate. I didn't have many attack cards, which made my upset power really strong. I was able to get the fifth colony by attacking the defenseless Kamikazes.

Unpublished Prototype: The game designer was in the game of Virgin Queen and decided he wanted to make it a more streamlined game with no dice, fewer rounds, and a shorter playtime. So we tried it out. Factions were England, France, Spain, Holy Roman Empire, Ottomans, and Golden Horde (a first). It's a good game but needs a lot of refining. We called it quits after about four hours, but I hope to stay in the development process because it has promise.
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14. Board Game: Zombicide: Black Plague [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:113] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Love 'em even if a few games get scuttled from time to time.
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The latest Zombicide is up on KS and it has raised over a million in less than a day. Just crazy.

I admittedly enjoyed Zombicide 1 more than I thought I would (I was expecting it to be really bad, instead it was decent), but I haven't bought any of them. The medieval theme here is at least a nice change of pace (there are a few medieval zombie games out there, but not nearly as many as the oh-noes-zombie-apocalypse ones), but I'm pretty sure I'm not buying it.

What is the secret sauce these games managed to put together? Why have they consistently been able to get such a huge amount of support on KS and pull off the very-difficult stunt of not tanking at retail afterwards?
 
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15. RPG Item: Toys for the Sandbox #051: The Poet's Hut [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Pale Fire discussion thread:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Woah! What a book. Not sure I've read anything like it. I really enjoyed how quickly my opinions on Kenbote changed through the novel. It went from sorrow for someone losing his friend, to laughing over someone who didn't realize he was in love with Shade, to thinking he WAS aware and was creepy stalking him, to pity for someone who had mental issues. I liked it a lot, and laughed my way through a lot of it.

How did you read it? Did you read the poem first, then the commentary? Did you follow along with the poem as you read the commentary?
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