Recent gaming: King of Frontier, Kraftwagen, Lancaster, Hardest Days, Qwixx Cards, Minuscule, Machi Koro, Bang Dice, Africa, Sushi Go, Vulture Race, Dr. Eureka, Flying Carpets, Polterfass
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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May 23-29, 2016

Nothing during the week, then a flurry of gaming over Memorial Day weekend. It was actually just one day, but mostly short games. Also one epic wargame played solo the day before.

-Mark


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1. Board Game: The King of Frontier [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:3717]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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You need to have a connection to Japan to have the opportunity to play this game, as it's impossible to find here. Luckily, I met someone on my work trips to Colorado last year who has that connection, and that's the first time I got to play this. Here at home there's another guy, Nathan, who is a Japanophile (?) with many of these new games. He had the base game, and its expansion.

I really enjoy King of Frontier, while simultaneously thinking it needs some more polish. The stick figure artwork is charming, and I THINK the building powers & player actions are balanced...but I'm not sure they're quite right. I'm hoping that an eventual later, international edition will have a bit more testing & development to confirm those things. In the meantime, I'm happy to play this whenever I get a chance.
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2. Board Game: Kraftwagen [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:767]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Happy to play this again, which was actually the first play of my own copy. (Funagain was blowing these out recently, no doubt because a new version with a built-in expansion is coming. Not even sure I'd want that.) This is a game I should've remembered to list in my podcast as a Kennerspiel personal nominee. I think it's pretty great. Two of the other three players weren't quite so sure about it, though, to be completely clear. One of them won and thought he'd stumbled into a dominant strategy (engines for bonuses, racing, and car sales), while another felt he'd worked himself into a no-man's land without specializing in anything. I think they're both wrong, and that the game is robust to various strategies.
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3. Board Game: Lancaster [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:225]
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
California
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Like Kraftwagen, this is another game form Matthias Cramer. I remember it as one of the first Kennerspiel nominees, and hadn't played it since that year. My memory was that it was longer than it actually is. In fact, it felt closer to an old-school euro. Yes, there are quite a few systems & choices in the game, but not a lot of resource conversion. The use of knights looks like worker placement, but is actually more like auction bidding. The voting & laws system is fun (I always like those in games), and I found myself constantly making strategic errors in that portion of the game.
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4. Board Game: The Hardest Days [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:6862]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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Memorial Day Weekend was a good opportunity to finally try Butterfield's magazine wargame about the Battle of Britain. It's obviously compared to his other solo wargame on the same topic, big brother RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940. I understand that game covers the entire campaign lasting several months, while this magazine game adaptation(?) has a few different scenarios that model what happened on a single day. In my case, I tried the Eagle Day scenario, which has a different bombing target table (closer to the coast), and still has the Stukas in the fight.

It was a good experience. A little tedious in the mechanisms, though really that's mostly because the game doesn't have a reference chart or flow diagram. I kept flipping back & forth in the rulebook to remember what to do at each step. After the game I sketched out my own notes to make something quicker & more practical as a game aid. If they're legible enough, I'll see about typing them up to share here (on the game page).

I thought I'd managed a minor win, but a recount of VPs showed that it was a minor loss. I think I made the mistake of sending too many "penny packets" of just one or two squadrons to take on a Luftwaffe raid. As I've learned in other BoB games, it makes better strategic sense to wait until you can get a more advantageous situation to attack the raid. It doesn't need to be a full blown "Big Wing," and it might not happen until after the raiders have dropped their bombs, but you have to avoid losing too many Spits & Hurricanes while the Luftwaffe's fighter strength is still high.
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5. Board Game: Machi Koro: Millionaire's Row [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Now that's TWO times that I've played mega Machi Koro, with both expansions shuffled into the base game and all of the landmarks used together. I really doubt that's the best way to play, but we couldn't readily find a recommended alternate way to use one or both expansions. Is there? Of course we were using the shuffled deck of buildings, flipping just enough to have 10 choices in an array. But even that wasn't enough. Someone suggested that we keep flipping until the INITIAL set of buildings are only numbered 1-6, so that all may pay out on a roll of 1d6. That would've been easy to try, and I wish we'd done that. Is there more modification, or is that sufficient?

(Don't say not to play Machi Koro or its expansions--I really enjoy them. Just need a way to quickstart the game from its ponderous beginning.)
 
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6. Board Game: Minuscule [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:4788]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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It may get 5 stars for cuteness (the images come from a French CGI cartoon?), but the gameplay is pretty pointless and chaotic. I may still keep it a while longer to play with the most casual gamers, but there's almost no way to play strategically or tactically in this one.
 
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7. Board Game: Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:3623]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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Converting a game from dice back to cards is going backwards, right? That's how it feels in 2016, anyway. Here the transformation is pretty ingenious, though I can't imagine playing this one without having some experience with the original dice game. It was fun, but some didn't see the need to have this AND the dice game.
 
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8. Board Game: Sushi Go! [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:318]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Haven't played this in at least a year, which means I hadn't played the Gamewright edition. The artwork is different, but equally cute, I'd say. They didn't change the scoring or gameplay one whit, and that's good! It's nearly perfect the way it is. We played a couple of 3-player game so quick, it was fantastic.
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9. Board Game: Vulture Race [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Nathan, the same Japanophile who brought King of Frontier, also had this silly, little card racing game from Japan. In fact, I think he's the guy who made the translation of the game's title and rules into the BGG database. It's going to be too light for some people, but I thought it was awfully clever, with a complete "a-ha" moment that happened near the end of this short game. I don't know how much strategy or replay potential it has, but I aim to find out. Very clever filler.
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10. Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:450]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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I still like the original Bang! card game, especially as later printings got the iconography & rules down to a nice, playable state. Nonetheless, the dice game gets you 2/3rds of the gameplay for 1/3rd of the playing time, which is a good exchange. I think there's room for both.
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11. Board Game: Dr. Eureka [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1325]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Roberto Fraga is one of the best when it comes to kids' games, especially games with physical objects, and ones that can be enjoyed by adults, too. This is one of those, a funny implementation of the classic Towers of Hanoi puzzle, but with a scientist/chemistry/test tube "theme" and speed game mechanisms. A crowd pleaser (and gatherer).
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12. Board Game: Fliegende Teppiche [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:10276]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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This one just charms me, somehow. It's a dexterity game with cards, meaning you toss cards onto the table to capture others by overlapping them. It's got a Flying Carpets theme, which also works. Good stuff.
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13. Board Game: Polterfass [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3904]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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A push your luck dice game that involves the other players on "your" turn because they're speculating on your level of success. All done with a clever beer tap theme and some awesome beer barrel dice.
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14. Board Game: Africa [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:3236]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I was halfway out the door after a long day of great games when my buddy Dave Arnott lured me back with an offer to play a speed 2-player game of our shared favorite, Knizia's Africa. I've always loved this game, one of Knizia's lesser-loved gems, and playing it like that with my buddy was a great end to the night.
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