Recent gaming: Martian Dice, Wir Sind das Volk!, Among the Stars, Deep Sea Adventure, Fall of the Philippines, Plato 3000, and many more
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Jan 25-31, 2016

Holy cow, the stars aligned for me last week, and I managed to get in a huge variety of boardgaming. I met the lunch group at work for the first time in many months, I saw a friend one evening to drop off a game ordered from TimeWellSpent, I played with the weekly game group, another friend came to visit, I played a solo wargame, and even did some online gaming. When you see the list below you'd think I went to a convention or something, but it was just what happens when everything falls into place.


-Mark

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1. Board Game: Martian Dice [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1683]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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A simple push-your-luck dice game, but with some cleverness and a theme that will appeal to SF nerds...and people who design Martian spacecraft for a living. (My own mission has had some tough news lately. I'll update everyone when I can.)

 
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2. Board Game: Wir sind das Volk! [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:531]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Recently I played this a couple times online, but had honestly forgotten many of the rules. Predictably, I did horribly. Besides losing the games, I'm sure I wasn't a very fun opponent for snoozefest. But now I've had the chance to play face-to-face again, and I see what's going on. (Gregarius, I think with a phone call during the first couple turns I could teach you, too.)

I lost the face-to-face game, too, but it was competitive throughout. I really love the history and gameplay of this one. Now I've started another online game, and hope this can become my new obsession like AFAoS.
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3. Board Game: Among the Stars: Revival [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:2297] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I've been living under a rock, or something, because I didn't really know anything about Among the Stars. I think one of my local gaming buddies has been suggesting it for a while. I had my usual Kickstarter-resistance*, which was finally broken down when I played this 2-player version. It draws instant comparisons to 7 Wonders Duel, since both games adapt a multiplayer drafting mechanism to a tableau-drafting system for just two. I think 7WD is far superior, but have to admit that this one was pretty good, too.

* I did back the new version of Medici on Kickstarter.
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4. Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:569]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I've enjoyed this one all year. The videocast below was recorded mid-summer (I think), so that was a good prompting to bring the game out again over the weekend. By now everyone is up the learning curve so that we don't all die. I'm still waiting for the game where everyone makes a "pact" to dive deeper before collecting treasures. Though I have a feeling the Prisoner's Dilemma (or something like it) would case that uneasy alliance to break down. That's just it--I want to see that in action! Social experiments like that can be fun in a short game. (I wouldn't want to do it in a longer one.)


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5. Board Game: Fall of the Philippines: MacArthur's Defeat, 1941 [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Didn't love it as much as previous plays, but I've certainly "gotten my money's worth." More important, I've gotten the study & understanding of the military situation that I wanted from this light simulation.
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6. Board Game: Plato 3000 [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:3186]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I still like reading boardgame blogs (here on BGG and elsewhere on the net). It's through those that I sometimes get recommendations for older games that passed me (or everyone) by. I think that's what happened with this one. Someone recommended Utopian Rummy, and then I found it was re-issued as this published title.

Oh! Now I think I remember. The geeklist below is titled Print N Play Games People Actually Play, and that's how I discovered the game.

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/34664/print-n-play-games-...
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7. Board Game: Kraftwagen [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:764]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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One of recent favorites I still need to acquire. This time I knew to explain the strategy tip that significant points were obtained in the "technical achievement awards" and racing, not just car production & sales...only to lose the game to a car-selling newbie by a slim margin. That's a good sign, in my book. Different paths to victory.
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8. Board Game: Carson City: Big Box [Average Rating:8.16 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.16 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I'll give the game three stars this time, but I'm really just evaluating the outing we had. It's really a 4-star game with me. In fact, it was one of our last Games of the Month...though that was a few years ago. Now we played the deluxe edition, and the learning curve for new players was kind of an obstacle. I don't normally like worker placement games too much, but the western theming of this one really works. It wins me over.
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9. Board Game: Entdecker [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1795]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Nice to play one of my favorites, and even nicer that it was suggested by some of my friends.
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10. Board Game: The Last Spike [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2911]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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The more I play this, the more I think there IS a luck "problem," but one I don't really care about. It's just fun, quick, and thematic, but still strategic. This outing was with just three players (the lowest player count I've tried), confirming that 3-4 is best.
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11. Board Game: Black Stories [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:2166]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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What a weird "game." It's not really a game at all, more of a social activity. But I'm ok with those in the right setting, like at a restaurant or on a long car ride. In this case we were just sitting on the couch, talking. That worked. It's a group puzzle/deductive game that sort of like 20 Questions meets Encyclopedia Brown books.
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12. Board Game: Interplay [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:7096]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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My brain almost melted during this one. A perfect info abstract with lots of lookahead. NOT my kind of thing. But the 1980s retro packaging & components were kind of cool, and it was fun to play as a quick escape at work.
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13. Board Game: New York 1901 [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:669]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I'm not sure what it is about this one. In the beginning everyone takes nearly identical moves, and the game seems almost pointless. Like the strategy is obvious, and it can play itself. Then by the end there are big separations between the players, some are running out of time, while others are running out of things to do. Then all of those moves you made on auto-pilot during the first part come back to haunt you, and little differences in choices make sense in the rear view mirror. I call that subtlety, and think this game does a lot of things right.
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14. Board Game: Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3451]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Still the high water mark for light sports games. I have hopes to play some football games in the future, though not before the NFL season is over. (Even though I now have many gamer friends in Denver from my business trips there, I'll be pulling for Carolina in Super Bowl 50!)
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15. Board Game: Timeline Challenge [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1508] [Average Rating:7.15 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I'm not sure what to make of this one. I really enjoy the Timeline series, and think I may already own all of the games (plus Cardline). The "mini-games" that show different ways to evaluate Timeline cards are cool, but the card set that comes with this boardgame wasn't great. Also the game components are kind of odd--the wheels used on the player boards were too loose, and the plastic pieces used for the scoretrack were too light. Neither of those really matter, though, and you can play the Challenge game with any set of cards you have.
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16. Board Game: Treasure Hunter [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1234]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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One of my gaming buddies practically rolls his eyes and grumbles every time we pull out a new game. I'm no Cultist, but even I like to try new stuff along with the old favorites. I'd played this one twice before, and was sure he'd like it. He gave it a try, and DID like it. That's not always true, but it worked this time (and with Kraftwagen, above).
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17. Board Game: Take Your Pick II [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Another quickie to play at a restaurant while waiting for food, or after it. It's another get-to-know-you game, one of the best in that family.
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Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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That's a Palm Pilot on the left, and a pink iPod mini on the right. Yes, I've been doing BGTG that long!
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Avatar
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robotrobotrobot Online boardgaming robotrobotrobot

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization I've played TTA thirty times, but always online. I couldn't stomach it in person, but enjoy the online option. Now the website includes the new version of the game, which I've played 1.5 times. It's equally good. I never really thought the game needed fixing in the first place, except maybe the 2-player game with military.
 
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