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Recent gaming: 3rd & Long, Paydirt, HGSB, Plan Orange, Thebes, Treasure Hunter, Settlers of the Stone Age, Hanabi, Cat Tower, Livingstone, Welcome to the Dungeon
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Feb 15-21, 2016

Back to a good week of gaming. A REALLY good week, in fact.

-Mark

My recent gaming geeklists (2016)
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1. Board Game: Third and Long: The Football Card Game [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:8114]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Paul Schulzetenberg did an amazing job with his extensively researched & documented geeklist survey of American football board & card games. Check it out. When I saw that he appreciated Third & Long, one of my favorites, I dropped him a line. Come to find out he's a new transplant to Los Angeles, not so far from me. We made plans to meet last Saturday to play Third & Long, and some other sports games. It was great to play this one again. Hopefully Paul also enjoyed playing at an outdoor pub table during a February morning in Pasadena in glorious weather. Betcha can't do THAT in Minneapolis...
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2. Board Game: Paydirt [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2846]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Paul has played a million football boardgames, and can break them down into different categories. This is his overall favorite, though, and I'm glad he showed it to me. In fact, it took a little shine off of MY favorite (3rd & Long, above) once I saw how cool the historic NFL teams were differentiated. It doesn't play as fast as 3rd & Long, but it's not too slow. That's why Paul likes it--Paydirt packs the most "real" football into a game before getting overloaded with chart lookups & recordkeeping. It's right at that edge.
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3. Board Game: Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:3646]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I also showed Paul our favorite local sports-themed game. Everyone knows Harry's isn't a simulation. It's a fun card game that gives a good feel for baseball. I've said it before--I wish there games like this for football, basketball, and hockey. That would still leave plenty of room for the more serious (and slow) simulation games.
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4. Board Game: Plan Orange: Pacific War 1930 – 1935 [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:4553]
Mark Johnson
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It's a rare treat when I get to play a wargame against a live opponent. Also rare is the time when I play a new wargame that people are talking about. (Most of the time I'm playing some old magazine wargame from years ago that relates to my Wargames To Go podcast.) My buddy Brian came over and we tried to get through a play of Mark Herman's game about the US-Japanese war that never was--the conflict both countries anticipated in the western Pacific in the 1930s. This game takes Herman's earlier & acclaimed Empire of the Sun, stripping out a bit to cover this what-if topic. It's the featured game in the latest C3i magazine.

In our attempt, we only got partway through the game before we had to call it on account of time (more friends were coming over for the eurogaming below). And I know we made mistakes. But that's no big deal. We both enjoyed the experience, and learned from it. Just what I want in a wargame. (I'm giving it only 3 stars because this remains a bigger wargame in scope & rules than I prefer, though I plan to try it again next month.)
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5. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:363]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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Haven't played this favorite for several years, and it was great to get it back to the table. As with a lot of my older favorites, some of the newer players are seeing them (even hearing of them) for the first time. Emmanuel kept commenting on how thematic this game is, and I heartily agree. This is the best kind of thematic game, too, where the theme is both the look of the game (its "theme-as-narrative") and how it plays (its "theme-as-metaphor"). Just like Greg Pettit broke down the way game themes can work. Emmanuel even went to his phone to see if the game is still available for purchase.
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6. Board Game: The Settlers of the Stone Age [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1387]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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One of my favorites I almost never get to play. I agree with the criticism that trading happens less than in the parent game (perhaps because there's one less commodity?), but that little disadvantage isn't enough to outweigh my fascination for how the nearly-standard Catan system ends up modeling (seriously!) the expansion of humanity from African savannah into the entire world. Amazing!
 
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7. Board Game: Treasure Hunter [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1190]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I still really enjoy this game, but even I think it may need an expansion (which it has).
 
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8. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:261]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Introduced a couple new players to the game, and both of them were instant converts. This game continues to surprise me. It's so dry & thinky, but wins almost everyone over like a much lighter game. I think the sheer innovation of it is part of that magic.
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9. Board Game: Livingstone [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2001]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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A lesser-known family strategy game from a few years' back. It's got a pleasantly interesting dice allocation mechanism, combined with the fun of a blind draw from a bag for nice, plastic gems. People tend to like this one when I show them.
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10. Board Game: Cat Tower [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:3869]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Oh, I didn't care for this one. Not that I'm against light or silly games. I just kept thinking about how Rhino Hero does this same idea so much better.
 
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11. Board Game: Welcome to the Dungeon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:774] [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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This continues to blow people away with its surprising depth in a microgame. At the same time, it's still very evocative and fun. AND short. Really amazing.
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Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
flag msg tools
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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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http://www.WargamesToGo.com
Avatar
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robotrobotrobot Online boardgaming robotrobotrobot

Firenze A solid game, nothing more for me.

Maori Also solid, just cleaner and more fun for me (especially with the built-in variants).

Wir Sind das Volk! Hey, I finally won a game! (I lost another one, too.)

Glen More Very pleasant. The best thing about it is how the selection mechanism made its way into Kraftwagen.

Hacienda I've never warmed to this one, even with the variant maps.

Port Royal Still good. I need to read the rules to the expansion so we can start playing that online, too.
 
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