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GCL Phoenix 288: Do or Don't? (10 Jul 2016)
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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You've found the 288th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Welcome to all that stop by. Please feel free to thumb the list so that we know you're there.

(If you're not a regular, and the notion of a Geek|Game Chat League seems peculiar or unfamiliar, please check out the wiki page.)

As usual, members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars.) My most optimistic rendering of our roster (which I acknowledge is very optimistic) comprises:

archivists
BennyD
darker
chally
Dormammu
Eeeville
enzo622
familygaming
hawk-x-
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
karlfast
Lowengrin
Morganza
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
Smintie
Taibi
tjshields
woodnoggin (up next)

Intro copied from Dave (ed. 286).

This week has been inspired in part by last weeks list and pose questions I myself often ponder and would like to hear folks view on. Especially since I know some are direct opposite of mine and I think it could be interesting to see the thought processes that go into it.

Feel free to add your own.
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Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Do or don't you follow/back/support new games on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding pages?

Either way please elaborate as you see fit.

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Nicolai Broen Thorning
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Do or Don't you chase down promos?

Please elaborate as you see fit.
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Nicolai Broen Thorning
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Do or don't you take steps to keep your collection in order?

Please elaborate as you see fit.
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4. Board Game: Lords of the Renaissance [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:10507]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 9Jul2016:

3/8/251 plays of 2/6/134 total games, with 0/1/25 expansions employed.
Plays with 4/5/98 distinct opponents.

1/1/22 games acquired (plus 0/0/18 expansions.) - 横濱紳商伝.
1/1/2 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.) - sold Endeavor.
3/4/13 games ordered (plus 0/0/3 expansions.) - the 2016 Winsome Essen Set.
Orders for 4 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

While on-call:
1x _7⅓_ Lords of the Renaissance [New!] - It's a cool thing. Quite random; decidedly fiddly; and very evocative of Dorothy Dunnett's Niccolò series (which I've read multiple times and really enjoyed.) This play was with 3, which is nearly certainly not the best count: I expect it's distinctly better with more players - and likely wants a minimum of 5 or 6.
The randomness here seems substantial. And that's not the worst thing from my point of view: I really enjoy games (Dune; Magic Realm) with significant randomness. Subjectively, though, (and I should be careful to assert that it's a viewpoint from relative ignorance) there doesn't seem to be nearly the set of mitigations for that randomness that both of those other games demonstrate. Magic Realm, for example, permits one to adjust one's risk profile by being relatively careful or reckless as the fit strikes. Here, the randomness strikes by plague or mishap without any reference to player behavior: it may be entirely thematically appropriate, but it leaves the game far more as one to experience instead of a game in which one competes strongly.
I'd be delighted to play again. But in a spectrum from Tales of the Arabian Nights to 1830 (substitute other endpoints as you'd prefer; I like both!) it's much closer to the former than the latter.

With Paul from the Wednesday night gang:
1x _7⅔_ 横濱紳商伝 Yokohama Shin-shō-den 'Yokohama' [New!] - Quite cool. The game is much clearer and easier to visually understand than expected. (Many of the pictures I'd seen of the game look busy; but it's quite sensible in practice.)
The game plays as a set of rather short turns. One competes for a bunch of VP awards (most of which can only be claimed by a single player.) Some of them are claimed by achieving some milestone; some as a side-effect of building infrastructure; some are awarded at the end of the game for specializing in a few different areas. There's bonus VP at the end of the game for things one has collected, too.
No idea as to how much staying power it'll have at this point. I am interested in trying with more players. Also interested in seeing whether there's a tempo-pressing strategy that brings the game to an end early - penalizing players that aimed for infrastructure that would then not pay off.

With son #2 after he returned from camp:
1x _7⅔_ 横濱紳商伝 Yokohama Shin-shō-den 'Yokohama' - While we both tried distinctly different things in this game than Paul and I had in the last, this played out similarly: the game was mechanically quite sensible; we had no difficulty in understanding the game state or playing correctly; and our final scores were close.
That latter thing: "our scores were close" is a (tiny) bit worrying. I hope this isn't a game where one's scores are always close regardless of what one does!* (Naively, scoring seems lumpier than would permit that conclusion: I could easily be wrong, though.)

Owned-and-unplayed: 0 (+1/-2) - 横濱紳商伝 arrived and was played; Lords of the Renaissance was played.
Owned-and-played-once: 90 (+2/-1) - Lords of the Renaissance was played once; 横濱紳商伝 was played twice.

Outlook for the week: Likely something tomorrow at lunch; Wednesday with a few of the gang; possibly also with youngsters. And a bit more cycling this week, since I'm not on call.

*: After writing this, I read Steph's Dice Tower Con report. Her 横濱紳商伝 report made it sound quite encouragingly non-Feldian.
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5. Board Game: De Vulgari Eloquentia [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:844]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_8_ De Vulgari Eloquentia x4 New!
_8_ 51st State: Master Set x2
_7_ 18NY x1 New!


The Week in Review

Four plays of De Vulgari Eloquentia and half of them scored just wrong. I don't think it would have actually changed who won, just how much she won by.

At it's heart, De Vulgari Eloquentia is an action point salad. While I'm not a big fan of salads, this one is elevated because of two things. Firstly, it's not quite a free-for-all salad. Many actions are restricted by where your little pawn happens to be in Italy and where you can move it to. Secondly, the actions fit the theme of wandering the city states and collecting knowledge (and ducats).

I do think it'd be more interesting at a slightly higher player count. While it supports five, I think it's sweet spot is probably three or four. Nevertheless, I think it has a few more plays with just S and I. If only to explore the Friar/Cardinal path.


I continue to lose at 51st State: Master Set. S tends to sacrifice early victory points to build up resources. It seems to work well for her as she's won the majority of our twenty-one games. I expect we'll play another twenty-one times before we tire of this one.


I don't have a lot to add to what I wrote about 18NY yesterday.

Since then, there's been a bit of a discussion over the strength of the (cheaper) 5DE-train vs (costlier) the D-train. The 5DE counts any five cities it can reach and doubles the amount while the D counts all cities it can reach. Which is better? For the money, probably the 5DE. It's available earlier and costs less. And with a couple cities like New York and Philadelphia on it's route, it does pretty good.

(My NY&H ran for $910 with a 5DE.)


The Week Ahead

S and I have had a pretty good run of evening gaming the past little while which I expect will continue through the month. But no specific plans this week.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: The U.S. Civil War, German Railways, Pax Pamir and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

Unplayed games not in shrink: Normandy '44.

Also The Hobbit saga expansions for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: Over Hill and Under Hill and On the Doorstep.


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6. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:287]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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(Copy from last week's GCL. Getting my sea legs)
Kat asked for a game yesterday morning. It's been a while.

It's been a long while.

It's been over a year since we've done tabletop gaming with any regularity.

Innovation x 3

So! We sat down and played tabletop games on Sunday. Our first game on Innovation, she skunked me 6-0 (base Innovation, no expansion shenanigans).

In our second game, I waffled her something like 6-1.

Our third game was a doozy. I surged out to a 4-0 lead, staying just a step ahead of her (thank you, Agriculture). Her board was better-developed, and I got that panic that comes with watching a big lead shrink. And shrink. And shrink. She cut the lead to 5-4 and was ahead in ages. She pulled Empiricism and activated it with 15 Science showing (Empiricism: name 2 colors and reveal a 9. If it matches either named color, meld it and splay that color up. If you have 20 or more science, you win).

She calls green and blue and misses. On my turn I activate Flight to splay my red cards up, revealing a 2nd clock. I meld a green card for a 3rd clock, giving me 3 of each and the associated achievement (Monument?). Just for a good, we checked the next card in the 9 pile. It was blue.

Arboretum x 1

We followed up Innovation with this beauty. I love Arboretum. The artwork is gorgeous and it does the simple rule and tough choices gameplay I love so much. Feels kind of like Lost Cities. If I have a criticism, it's the convoluted scoring. Anyhow, I bagged a 29-15 win that was closer than the score makes it look.


I'm hoping this is the beginning of a resurgence. We've done a lot of PC gaming over the past year. I like it a lot, but there are times where she's at her PC and I'm at mine. And that's shitty. I've missed the tactile aspect of boardgaming. I've missed the face to face element. PC gaming is SO much easier logistically. Our kids are 9,5, and 3 now.

I posted pictures on the facebook (I know) and connected with an acquaintance who recently moved back into town. They're a couple with one young kid and shelves full of underplayed games, so hopefully we'll be able to get together soon and see how it works with them. Having a close gamer couple with kids would be nice.

As for life outside of the hobby realm, it's been rough. I got a great job with GM that paid much better than anything else I've ever had. Got to experience NOT living paycheck to paycheck...for about 3 months. One Friday I got home and got a phone call from my contract house that my contract had been terminated due to lack of available work. A friend there told me that they laid off more than half of our group.

So I was scrambling for work, worked at Meijer for a couple of months before getting a job with DHL Global Forwarding (my current job). It's about 1/2 of what I was making at GM, but at least it's local and it's not retail. Other than that, the family is doing well and we're still alive and kicking.



Glad you all are still here, Phoenixing away!
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7. Board Game: La Isla [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:757]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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We always have time for the things we put first.
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Sunday July 3rd
La Isla - new to us

Monday July 4th
La Isla

Wednesday July 6th
Doubles Wild x2

Friday July 8th
Patchwork
Doubles Wild x3

Saturday July 9th
Doubles Wild x7

Sunday July 10th
Doubles Wild x2

Our new game last week was La Isla, from the 50% off table at Barnes & Noble.

In between playing games, I've been inventorying games for my auctions, and Sam has been inventorying RPG stuff for eBay listings. He has a huge minis lot that got a bid right away, so that's good.

I'm almost ready to launch my next auction, but I still have some pictures to edit, so I expect it to go live tomorrow. Feel free to take a sneak peek. Some stuff carried over from the other auction, but there's quite a bit of new stuff. I have 43 things on my for trade list at the moment.
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8. Video Game: Pokémon GO [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:2732]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

_9_ Magic: The Gathering 1
_8_ Zombicide: Black Plague 1
_7_ The Grizzled 1
Unpublished Prototype 2 New!

Week in Review

Not too much to report this week.

* I began a Zombicide campaign of my own creation.
* I played a refresher game of the Grizzled to prepare to try the expansion.
* Magic was a game of EDH.

The prototype was a design by a friend that he said was inspired by Magic and reminded me a bit of Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends. It was remarkably short-playing for two players and I thought it showed real potential. Kinda neat!
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9. Board Game: Fire in the Lake [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:430]
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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New job and busy life have meant not a lot of board games recently. We have however purchased a new Table Tennis table / dinner table which is providing a lot of entertainment value.

Ventured out to RoB for first time in an age. They were setting up Fire in the Lake so...

I jumped in as the North Vietnamese it started well -with the US hampered by an early event that cut off air attacks. I got the trail up to 4 and raided along the South - and there were a couple of turns where a coup card would have won it for me.

Then the helicopters came back on line, special forces dropped in, and my forces were decimated for several turns in a row. The South gained all the points with my loss of control and without an outright winner they were only 5 points from their objective. I was next at 11, the Cong at 12 and the USA at 13.

I haven't played MTG in a couple of months but will be venturing out for the midnight pre-release this Friday. I missed Eternal Masters so looking forward to this one- the set (Eldritch Moon) looks like fun.
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10. Board Game: KLASK [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:417]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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 10   Argent: The Consortium (with Mancers of the University)
 7   Grand Austria Hotel NEW!
 7   Missing Link x2
 ?   KLASK NEW!

At Knight Moves #2
A semi-local board game cafe has opened up a much-more-local 2nd location. I stopped by to chat with the owner and ended up playing a couple of games.

KLASK was a lot of fun, and I liked the additional consideration of the 3 white puck-loaf things. We didn't finish even one game, though; I was down 5-4 when the ball jumped the table and vanished. We were the only two people there, and we were looking for it in an empty store for 10-20 minutes to no avail. Baffling.

Grand Austria Hotel has just the sort of "get your ducks lined up in a row" action-chaining I love... combined with a dice-rolling action system which means you can't actually predict whether you'll be able to line up your ducks! Still, with only 5 distinct values (6 is a wild, assuming you can spend 1 money) it seemed like you could usually make at least some contingency plans.

At Picnicon
I dropped off Spirits of the Rice paddy as a gift for a friend, during which we played two rounds of Missing Link, 5-cards 2-minutes variant. It worked nicely; I'm pleased with the purchase, though I'm finding that really entertaining/memorable comparisons lead me to remember that certain nouns are in the deck, which will give me a statistical advantage in guessing going forward.

At 2nd-Sunday games
I'd really hoped to get a game of Argent in, but none of us finished up our earlier games until 9 PM, and I had no sitting for the next morning.

But Galen and Cate were up for a blitz game, so we gave it a go anyway. Total time from "deciding to play" to "game over" was less than 90 minutes, including all setup and me eating dinner.

I played Technomancers. Gold was super-scarce this game, and the "Steal 2 gold" Bell Tower card was in the mix, which made my starting 2 orange mages little better than Apprentices, but the "Gain 1 Research or Mark" spell is fantastic. My starting Mark was "Most Diversity". I took a heavy Research + Supporters strategy, mentally ceding the Influence battle immediately, pushing Influence up to 2 Merit Badges but afterwards taking just enough occasional points with the Council Chamber to keep Cate concerned about a last-minute steal.

There was minimal board offense - I think something like 1 Banish, 1 Wound, 1 Wound/no consolation, and a few Moves happened the entire game - but Galen picked up the spell which lets you steal/discard foes' Level 1 spells or steal Int/Wis and hit me with it 3 times, which was painful and very nearly cost me Most Diversity despite angling for it from turn 1.

Final vote tally was 6 for me, 5 for Cate (who won Influence), and 1 for Galen. Two of my voters nearly went to Cate (who had all 10 possible Marks; I only had 5); it was a very close game between the two of us. Galen wasn't too far behind on some of them, but I think spread his efforts a little too thin, and gambled on some voters being present who weren't. (Also, I prevented his last-minute attempt to surpass me in Influence, which would have given him at least one voter on tiebreak.)

I often miss gaming-in-general, or gaming-with-specific-people, but Argent is one of the few games where I miss it-in-particular.
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11. Board Game: The King of Frontier [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:4081]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_9_ Power Grid x1
Northern Europe with my family. My wife ended it by building to 17 as she didn't think she would do better in the next round. I won with powering 13 to her 11, oldest son also had 11, daughter 9 and youngest son 9.

_8_ Porta Nigra x1
New to the others. Joel and James managed to both pass me by and tie each other!
Joel 167
James 167
Jon 162
Meg 147

_8_ Tausch Rausch x1
New to the others.
Jon 5
Greg 4
Rachel 3

_7_ Deep Sea Adventure x1
Also new to the others.
Jon 25
Greg 13
Rachel 0

_7_ Orléans: Invasion x1
Learned invasion with my three kids.
This is a cooperative version
We lost and here is the progress we had for each goal:

1: 7 of 11 (reinforcement) knights on walls
2: 9 of 9 citizens
3: 33 of 50 money
4: -4 wheat -1 cheese -1 wine goods
5: 12 of 13 cities built
6: all done personal goals

_7_ Orléans: Invasion x1
Invasion again, with my daughter sitting with me and also w/ Joel and James (3 players)
This time we Won on the final round!

_6_ The Gallerist x1
New to Miles. I timed the game; Jerome's explanation took about 24 minutes, playtime jusst slightly over 2 hours. I'm still having trouble getting nuances of the rules right.
Miles 128
Jerome 121
Jon 120
James 91

_9_ Concordia x1
Original board with Forum in play but Salt not in play.
Youngest son won with 130, my wife had 110 to my 109 and oldest son had 93

_7_ The King of Frontier x1
Dusted this off, printed better formatted rules, and learned again with my daughter. She won 36 to 25.


_7_ Istanbul x1
New to Karen and Rafael. Greg took an early lead and it was pretty obvious he would win about 20 minutes before it actually happened.
Greg 6
Rachel 4
Karen 3
Rafael 2
Jon 2

_7_ The King of Frontier x1
Taught Greg and Rachel who tied for win, but tiebreaker gives it to Greg. Fairy easy to teach now.
Greg 38 win
Rachel 38
Jon 35
Daughter 19


_7_ The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet x1
New only to Greg. Nice counterpoint to King of Frontiers "From building a city to a world!"
Jon 44
Greg 40
Daughter 38
Rachel 34

_8_ Tausch Rausch x1
Closest game I think I've seen yet! I would have won if it had got back to me!
Daughter 5
Jon 4
Greg 4
Rachel 4

_6_ Santa Cruz x1
Daughter requested this one and I was a little rusty on rules and also didn't plan ahead very well. It's a miracle I did as well as I did here.
Dan 113
Jon 103
Caroline 85
Daughter 67

_7_ The King of Frontier x1
New of course to Dan and Caroline. My daughter made a large city with a couple buildings that gave her tons of points during the game which was impressive. Hoping to keep this in rotation for awhile.
Daughter 47
Caroline 45
Dan 36
Jon 33


Also ended up joining Pokemon Go and I'm on Team Mystic. My kids and I stumbled into a local meet up at a gym a few blocks from home which was a lot of fun. After one day I'm level 7. Battery hit is substantial!
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12. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Montréal Métro [Average Rating:8.20 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.20 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Just two games played last week: Bohnanza and 6 Nimmt! with the family after a wedding in Lisbon.

We're now in Québec, on the way from Montréal to Québec City. There has been a heat wave making it a bit uncomfortable sightseeing but we're having fun. There's a circus festival on in Montréal at the moment with free street-side events and displays in the park of some very impressive trapeze and high wire tricks. I'm surprised at how much construction work is taking place in the city. Every other street seems to be blocked off at some point (either that or 'Rue Barrée' is a very popular street name).

The road our hotel was on seemed to have four different boardgame shops/cafés on it. We didn't stop to play in any of them but all the underground rail travel has me wanting to play Age of Steam Expansion: Montréal Métro again. I'll add it to the list for when I get back.
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