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GCL Mafia 289: Party Time, Excellent
Grant Johnson
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Cedar Park
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Important Links:
GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread (links to past lists, subscribe for weekly notifications).
League Wiki (for general information about the GameChat League concept)
GCL Mafia Wiki (for specific information about this division)
Thesp's GCL Games Played Tool (an easy-to-use tool for collating your plays for the week)

Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of August 1 - August 7.
• 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.

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• A weekly game might be spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation if they feel like it.
• Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.
• A top five list WILL be posted. You WILL comment on it. You WILL thank me for the privilege!

Current Roster:
• Thesp
• Annowme
• Dolus
• ecargo
• Epsilon_Balls
• captainraffi
• Timotheous
• fdubois
• touchstonethefool
• bobcatpoet
• mith
• charlest
• Happymrdave
• tallgrant
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1. Board Game: Sushi Go Party! [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:150]
Grant Johnson
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Cedar Park
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Hello, and welcome to this week's geeklist. I am your excellent host, tallgrant, and with me as always is Happymrdave. Party on, Dave!

Party on, Grant!

Alright, we're going to be inspired by Wayne's World and the subject of this week's list is partying. Have you ever thrown or attended a gaming party (not to be confused with gaming night)? What made it different? Or are they one and the same in your mind?

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2. Board Game: Star Trek: The Next Generation [Average Rating:4.07 Overall Rank:15981]
Grant Johnson
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Cedar Park
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I see some interesting generational trends in gaming. Specifically, I saw a divide between the gaming heyday of the 80s and the German games/Euro revolution that occurred in the mid to late 90s. Has there been a similar divide since then? IF so, when did it occur and what hallmarks does it have?

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3. Board Game: War of the Ring Collector's Edition [Average Rating:8.63 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.63 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
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Cedar Park
Texas
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This has likely been asked, but I don't think I was present. SO I'll bring it up again. What your holy grail of gaming? Are you going to try to obtain it? How far will you go to get it?

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4. Board Game: Master of Music [Average Rating:5.38 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Do you ever provide musical accompaniment at your game night? Or is gaming expected to be done in silence? Sometimes the right music can make all the difference, from setting the atmosphere to making a great joke!


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5. Board Game: Wayne's World VCR Board Game [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
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Cedar Park
Texas
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Did you ever play one of those cheesy VCR/DVD games back in the day? What were they thinking? Sure, the host acted like he was talking to you individually, but we all knew it was pre-taped. Shah, as if we wouldn't notice!

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6. Board Game: Don't Quote Me [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
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Top 5 Time! While we could do #5 hot babes (#5, Dave's mom!") I want to compile the top 5 obscure quotes you like to use. I'm not looking for something everyone recognizes- I want the bizarre bit of text you steal and quote and no one knows the source. And you can test yourself- do you know the source of what people are quoting?

I'll start: one of my favorites to use is "It certainly does suck!"

Spoiler (click to reveal)
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7. Board Game: Captain Sonar [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:105]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Captain Sonar x10 (new!)
Secret Hitler x6 (new!)
Vast: The Crystal Caverns x3 (new!)
7 Ronin x1
Animal Upon Animal x1
Blood Rage x1
Cry Havoc x1 (new!)
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game x1
Forbidden Stars x1
Hocus x1 (new!)
Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia x1 (new!)
Moongha Invaders Two Player x1 (new!)
Quartermaster General: Victory or Death – The Peloponnesian War x1 (new!)
Scythe x1
Techno Bowl: Arcade Football Unplugged x1
Tutti Frutti x1 (new!)



Captain Sonar
Gen Con is Captain Sonar and Captain Sonar is Gen Con. I brought this because I need to review it and it felt like the perfect format. We broke it out Friday night with my crew and Raf's, and recruited two randos who ended up being amazing dudes that I am now friends with on facebook and planning to meet up with at Gen Con next year.

This game is phenomenal for a group light strategy/party game. We were yelling at each other, drawing crowds from other tables. Tossing gummy bears over the player screens to mess up the other team. Cursing when the radio operator had no idea where the opponent was.

Getting a direct hit on the opponent is one of the most satisfying moments I've experienced in the past year. Everything has to come together perfectly, your radio man needs to perfectly track the enemy, your engineer needs to keep the systems hot, and the first mate needs to ready the weapons. Captain needs to time it perfectly. Just amazing.

We couldn't avoid playing this for another few hours Saturday night with the same guys.

Secret Hitler
WTF? I got roped into playing this Friday night after Raf and his friends had left and my group loved it. I was totally surprised. It's a more refined Resistance Avalon that feels like it was designed from a high level Avalon player. The injection of a small amount of randomness really helps and there's a very nice element of direct accusation and pressure. Really great and we played the hell out of this. I waited in line and bought my own copy before it sold out.

Vast
Still mighty conflicted on this one. It's asymmetry is great. It's rules overhead is horrible for its weight. Every single player basically has their own set of rules and teaching this game to a large group would be a nightmare. I'm fine not owning it but it's very cool and neat.

Hocus
This was another surprise for me. I don't know if I'll buy it but the Poker with gamer powers and drama really worked for me.

Masmorra
Bland and forgettable. I would have rather played five minutes of Captain Sonar than an hour of Masmorra.

Quartermaster Genera: Victory or Death
A new Greek/Ancient Civ version of Quartermaster General. Blah, still don't dig the system but played it because my buddy Aaron does and was excited about it.


On My Mind
Still not recovered from Gen Con. Need more sleep.

I re-bought a cheap copy of DRCongo at Gen Con, couldn't help myself. I think that and Secret Hitler were my only purchases. I brought back review copies of Inis, Codenames Pictures, and Mafia City. Maybe another game or two, I can't completely remember.

Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu arrived while I was gone. Looking forward to trying that. The Others should also arrive soon.

I have to get back to work as I have a big project due soon that I was in the middle of when I left. My team will probably hound me and ask about Gen Con and if I played many games of Monopoly.
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8. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:71]
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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 8   Five Tribes
 7   Castle Builders
 7   Clue FX
 8   Elder Sign
 9   Lords of Waterdeep
 9   Carcassonne
 7   Blokus
 N/A   Dominion
 N/A   Dale of Merchants
 N/A   A Wanderer in the Forest of Wyr NEW!
 8   Queen's Architect
 7   Garden Dice
 9   Dead Man's Draw x10 NEW!
 8   Ascension: Year One Collector's Edition
 N/A   Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 x3
 9   Tigris & Euphrates x3
 N/A   Concordia NEW!
 N/A   Artisans NEW!

ecargo wrote:
Annowme wrote:
This was a light week for games for me, primarily due to cramming a final exam and writing a paper for a class that ends today.


Now that that's out of the way, what game(s) do you want to get played this week? Other activities, hopes, and dreams are not important.

Well, Grace, how about ALL OF THEM?!

Five Tribes -- My friend, Noah (whom I mentioned in last week's report), came over for games on Monday night while our wives were out wining and dining together. Noah and his wife are moving to Qatar for two years to teach ESL, and Noah's single request was to "play more games" before leaving. He has played a lot of games from my shelves, so he asked to try only eclectic titles new to him. We started with this one, and he scratched his head, "so this is like Mancala with meeples?" Yep. I ended up winning by about twenty points, but when a game scores 200+ points for everyone, that's pretty close. He figured out the system very quickly and reminded me that while I can perform well in balancing my scoring in this game, I am simply not good at visually identifying best moves turn to turn. It's been a little while since I played this, so it was great to get it to the table again. Best with two players, no doubt--there was some intense bidding wars from time to time for turn order.

Castle Builders -- Noah and I moved onto this one as a quick filler before the ladies returned, since they were on their way home. I mentioned last week that I am not really a fan of most abstracts, and I did this awesome game a great disservice by neglecting to mention it there. This is my favorite abstract game. No question. I was thinking too big last week, and forgot about this post card-sized gem. It takes less than ten minutes to play (five minutes, usually) and is a single board with a handful of teensy chits for each player. You score two ways--either having the top-most chit on a completed tower (vertical scoring), or having the majority of chits in any single row (horizontal scoring). You can add 2x multipliers to both vertical and horizontal scoring, but they will count for your opponent if they manipulate the chits to remove yours and replace them with theirs. It's a brilliant design, really. I gave this copy to Noah for his travels, and he later texted me from the airport stating that he played it seven times in a row and he and his wife were ravenous for more plays. It's addicting and crunchy. I plan to make a bigger, pimped copy mounting the chits to wooden Scrabble tiles and perhaps make it magnetic so we can play on our fridge.

Clue FX -- Once our wives returned, we whipped up some Brandy Alexanders and got down to four-player bidnizz. What a great game! Without a doubt, it's my favorite version of Clue. Clue, being what it is, is actually a very fun deduction metagame, BUT roll to move etc... etc... blah blah blah. Clue FX flips the table on that, adds magnetic miniatures and a giant 3D board, introduces new characters like Marcellus Wallace Prince Azure, and infuses the game with both a ton of snarky voice-overs and a passive aggressive condescending Inspector who ensures that your failures are as public and humiliating as possible. If you know anyone who has this game, at least play it once--it's a holdover from the golden age of mass market games (the only other "talking board game" of legendary note is Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge). In the end, I lost by a single turn, because my logic was flawed early on and a drew a false conclusion which ruled out the winning possibility.


Elder Sign -- We got CRUSHED by Azathoth. There were so many monsters. Location penalties spawned monsters. Location rewards spawned monsters. Mythos effects spawned monsters. Midnight effects spawned monsters... There were just too many monsters, and they kept locking the Yellow and Red dice. It was a sorry end for my team as the Doom track raced to its conclusion while we only assembled three Elder Signs.

Lords of Waterdeep -- I had quite the plot quest combo chain going on during this game, and cleaned house with Warfare and Arcana. Anastasia then told me that my turns take too long, and it irritates her.

Gulp.

Carcassonne -- We played with the base game and river expansion only to cram in a quick game before we went to sleep. I had basically every single cloister, and I managed to slip a farmer into Anastasia' field at the end so that our points washed, making me the victor.



Blokus -- Anastasia requested we break the mold and pull out our dusty copy of Blokus. Though we were both rusty, my brain melted more than hers, and I ended up losing 29 to 19. Despite all of the fancy-pants games I generally prefer, whether Euro or AT, no game consistently makes me regret every choice I've made up to the present point. That's a good thing--the tension of merciless geometry makes this game a lot of fun. Two players each take two colors in alternating rounds, making the decision space even deeper.

Dominion -- I played against a friend with Base and Prosperity. Despite chaining my way up to multiple Platinums, I was outgunned by combo-breaking King's Court + Throne Room plays and I could not keep up with the Province-annexing, Colony-planting insanity of my opponent's deck.

Dale of Merchants -- I'm really enjoying this more and more as we play. It's not terribly deep, but the race element to completing your stall before the other players is really tense. To build a stack, you progress from card values of 1-8 in sequence, but any cards trashed to the stacks must match Animalfolk (color/suit/deck etc...), which makes your card acquisition very important, since you're not going for abilities and buying power alone, but also set collection so you can actually trash and score during later turns. We played with Macaws, Platypuses, and Ocelots.

A Wanderer in the Forest of Wyr -- Do you want to play a solo game that requires common components and a single printed sheet? Do you want to play a game within ten minutes? Do you want to insta-lose? If the answer is "yes" to all of these questions, then Todd Sanders' sadness factory is for you. In this quick solitaire game, you have to encounter ravens to release them from their evil spell (or something like that) by playing cards from your hand to match or overcome their attacking strength. However, for every raven you free, future raven encounters draw additional strength cards for each freed raven... so you end up scaling the difficulty to outlandish levels about half-way through the game. It's a fun game--don't get me wrong!--but I am going to need several more plays to figure out the rhythm of when to play cards and when to keep-away from the ravens.

Queen's Architect -- Yassss this is a really fun Euro race game. Anastasia and I wanted to continue pulling out some under-played games, and we realized that while we played this one a lot in 2015, we have not logged any 2016 plays. My engine totally fell apart about three-quarters of the way as nearly all of my artisans were too tuckered out to continue working in my employ. That said, Anastasia's artisans tanked shortly thereafter, and through some tavern manipulation and a few new hiring actions, I was able to end the game exactly ONE TURN before her, so I won. She was salty--she almost always crushes me at this one. Woof.

Garden Dice -- After Queen's Architect, we could not decide if we wanted to indulge some Patrick Stewart time with Star Trek: TNG, or play another game. Ultimately, we opted for another game. This one is a little gem--light, but crunchy, and very competitive in terms of leeching the actions of your opponents to serve your own ends. This is more or less an abstract dice game with a garden theme added after the fact, though it sort of makes sense, thematically. Eggplant seeds are value 5, artichokes are 4, tomatoes are 3, carrots are 2, and squash are 1. If you water a higher value while a lesser value is adjacent (including several in a descending chain), then all of the veg are watered. Same with harvesting for set collection points. Thus, the benefit is to plant all of your smaller seeds next to your opponents bigger seeds, and let them do all of the work for you. We typically play without the take-that animals because they detract from the fun of the leeching puzzle. In this game, we pursued very different strategies and both tied with 100 points at game-end. That was cool!

Dead Man's Draw -- Wow. Just wow. This game is press-your-luck perfection. Seriously! There a lot of fun, tense, and straight-forward just-keep-going games, such as BANG! The Dice Game and Diamant. Those are lovely little games which serve their purpose... but I think they might be second-rate at this point now that Dead Man's Draw is a thing. This was not on my radar at all, but once I found it this week, I've binged. It's the most addicting little game I've ever played in terms of sheer "JUST ONE MORE" quality. Wow.

Ascension -- Howabout I Hedron Cannon your face? Okay. There is something so sickeningly satisfying about chaining multiple Combustion Idols and other Mechana Constructs and playing a defensive game of denial for your opponent from getting any of them... Granted, my friend employed a really excellent Void/Lifebound synergy of a mega-tight deck of Honor-spamming and card draw. It was a really close game with entirely disparate strategy. Very cool. I'm still considering the Year Two Collector's Edition for more content...

Pandemic Legacy -- Our good friends have been in Colorado for months this year, and our campaign stalled as a result. We got together again and played three games with a vengeance... Spoilers through November:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
October, 2nd Attempt:
Totally brutal month. We played the second half of October, after already losing our first attempt. Turn one, round one Epidemic. Turn two, round three Epidemic. We couldn't find Patient Zero, though we got so close. We had two outbreaks in one turn, then two, then three, then three. Horrible, horrible loss. We got the "open package 7 for free" legacy card. Now we can vaccinate with a funding level of 4!

November, 1st Attempt:
November, take 1. Devastated. We removed a military base in Cairo and built two vaccine centers... The the faded outbroke everywhere. It was a giant chain of unmitagable sadness.

Two epidemics in one turn. TWO IN ONE TURN.

November, 2nd Attempt:
We made so much progress, but we lost all the same. We had to open Package 8... This was a game of stalling. We couldn't really win because of card draw keeping us away from creating cures, but we kept everything at bay with the good fortune of almost all diseases sticking to cubes, not COdA. We're now heading into December with a funding level of eight and the three Package 8 cards. If we lose, it will be downright embarrassing.

Tigris & Euphrates -- This is another game I played once last year and then got lost in the shuffle. Anastasia and I broke it out and ended up playing three games together. I won the first, but she crushed me in the second and third games. The manipulation of the board through wars and revolts is breathtaking, frankly. "Wait, WHAT?!" realizations were constant as we fought over monuments and coyly fiddled with the strength of our leaders. I know it's old hat to praise this game since it's so evergreen, but holy crap, man, this thing is a masterpiece. I don't care what sort of gamer you are--PLAY THIS GAME.

Concordia -- This and the Salsa expansion are on loan from my friend, Jon. We were only able to set up and play a few rounds due to the timing of a few unexpected phone calls, but I'll tell you what, this is the paragon of beauty-in-simplicity. Four total pages of big-font rules and a few pictures, but the space of this game is so deep! I know already that I'll dig more and more the shared incentives of the games core Praetor mechanic. I don't have to give this back until the end of September, so I hope to get several plays in before that point.

Artisans -- There are only a few entries in the 2016 Solitaire Print & Play contest, but this one is at the tippy-top. Chris Alton won the 2016 One-Page contest with Paper 'Mech (which I have not built or played) but this is his take on a solo Euro game with a very savvy AI, "Shearspike," who represents your local rival in a small town. You collect goods and craft refined commodities to complete contracts, all while Shearspike slanders your name and attempts to out-craft you or steal your commissions to please the locals more than you can manage. This was a quick learning game, but I already like what I see.

On My Mind:
I'm super jazzed about Arkham Horror: The Card Game. I wonder if the AT germ is growing inside of me. I'll never abandon my precious Euros, but I am definitely more and more a fan of this sort of fare. We shall see. I have Tramways, Lunarchitects, and At the Gates of Loyang coming later this year, so there's plenty of Euro love to be had, but I also have Gloomhaven inbound. I wonder if I'll add Arkham Horror LCG to the mix and pretty much call it good. I am not as rabid a collector as it may appear, and I think I'm reaching critical mass in terms of having all of the sorts of games I want.

Now that my class is done, I'll enroll in another mid-September. For now, I have a family reunion, summer vacation, and five-year-anniversary trip to enjoy before then!
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9. Board Game: War of the Ring: Warriors of Middle-earth [Average Rating:8.46 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.46 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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N/A  Unpublished Prototype
10  War of the Ring (second edition) x3
N/A  The Battle of Five Armies

War of the Ring x3: This weekend was War of the Ring Day. There will likely be a session report with game summaries so I won't include them here. But I had 81 lbs of meat (before cooking) that I prepared. We had our best attendance (20), with 8 simultaneous games going during the event. A lot of good times by everyone. I'm still short of sleep (the cook started at 10 AM Friday and went all night) but I'm content. Unfortunately, I'm a lot less hungry when I'm that tired, so I didn't enjoy too much of the food. But we did manage to pawn most of the leftovers off on guests (I brought about 1-1/2 lbs home). And I got to play my favorite game 3 times, including a pretty solid match to close out the event.

Battle of Five Armies: I brought my beautifully painted set and got the adoration of my public that I so long have desired. I also got to teach this, and I think all the learners enjoyed it. Something special about watching Bilbo using the Ring to help his friends.

Unpublished Prototype: Still playtesting. The info on my mind may tell you a bit about it.

On my mind: Warriors of Middle Earth (the next War of the Ring expansion) released this week at GenCon. I let the cat out of the bag during my event- I was one of the playtesters. It's exciting because I can see my name in the rulebook online. I'd never playtested before. I think I did well here because of the passion for the source material- I provided a lot discussion points and feedback in this playtest and feel that I made a lot of contributions to making the finished product better. I'd probably be a lot less useful in a Euro style game as I think I'd lose interest, especially if its not balanced: that's ultimately not fun for me. But I'm willing to put up with a bit more if its Lord of the Rings related.

Speaking of which, there are two other unpublished prototypes I'm working on. But you'll usually see the logged plays and not much else because I'd rather not disclose what is going on, particularly as stuff changes for balance purposes. I did go back and update my War of the Ring plays to include my notes from the playtest, so if you're curious to see what's added narratively for Warriors of Middle Earth it is out there.

I may try to get out and play Magic the Gathering this week. Depends on schedule. We have a local Convention (Board Game Bash) this weekend that I intend to be at quite a bit, so other gaming may take a back seat to it.

And there are going to be photos of food later. We use them to provoke future attendance. Trust me, it's pretty tasty.

And let's have some pictures!



Snapshots of the feast (including 81 lbs of meat)









The Lidless Pie of Sauron!!!

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10. Board Game: Secret Hitler [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:182]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Arcane Academy NEW!
Arkham Horror: The Card Game NEW!
BANG! The Dice Game NEW!
Brynk NEW!
Captain Sonar NEW!
Codenames: Pictures NEW!
Cry Havoc NEW!
Dark Souls: The Board Game NEW!
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
Dragoon NEW!
Dreamwell NEW!
Go Cuckoo! x2 NEW!
Grifters NEW!
Imagine NEW!
Lords of Vegas x2 NEW!
Onitama NEW!
Panic Lab NEW!
Patchwork
Project: ELITE – Adrenaline NEW!
Secret Hitler x2 NEW!
Sneaky Cards NEW!
Star Realms: Colony Wars NEW!
Techno Bowl: Arcade Football Unplugged
The Duke NEW!
The Last Friday NEW!
Thornwatch NEW!
Tutti Frutti x2
Unpublished Prototype
Würfel Bohnanza

This is the first time I've ever used Robin's tool, because I thought you had to include ratings and I rarely rate games. Sorry Robin, it's great!

Arcane Academy
I saw that Kevin Wilson and Lang were designing together and wasn't sure what to think. Wilson is meh, and normally Lang is great but this came when he announced working on like 73 games this year and so I didn't get very excited. I was wrong, naturally, and will be trying to snag this quickly. The heart is your board where you lay tiles that give you abilities. Clever tile laying lets you make more powerful actions that you use to build a tableau of spells and items. Super fun. And Eric taught it to us at the demo and said he's listened to ding and dent so....yeah. cool

Arkham Horror Card Game
This is what I wanted Elder Sign to be. It has some clever mechanics to make you feel like you're exploring a physical place and all the mechanics were moving smoothly together. Looks tough. Only concern is replayability of the scenarios but...LCG model!

Captain Sonar
FFS. A triumph. It's amazing how so many very light and disparate systems can come together to create a game that works. Playing as the radio operator was my favorite (and one I was best at). Listening to the opposing team and nailing a couple direct hits is the best feeling. What a tremendous game. Shame it's really a con game which makes for limited opportunity to play.

Cry Havoc
I think Scythe is going to be Scythe for eurogamers and Cry Havoc is going to be Scythe for Ameritrashers. Liked it and want to play more. Walked away very high on it but in the cool light of morning, the low number of rounds is something I want to explore more. I played a crystal mining faction and ran away with it.

Dragoon
Total surprise. I'd never heard of it, but a friend from the local gaming store showed me the components and I figured I'd try to get a demo. The designer brought a demo copy over after the hall closed one night and we played with Tom. It was a really cool "themabstract"; mechanically it's an abstract but it was so closely tied with the theme of dragons fighting over humans and their gold that it's difficult to do so. I only call it an abstract because it doesn't really have any mechanics that would belong to any other families. Super fun but $75 reflects the tiny print run and boutique components. A cheaper version will be KS'd eventually. Designer gave me the demo copy afterwards so I'm going to try to play some more games and get a review up.

Dreamwell
Great art if you like the style, kind of meh/simple gameplay.

Go Cuckoo
I'm going to be honest and say I went a little Cuckoo in the HABA booth. Raffi got as many new games as I did. This is one of them, though it's the one that is going to need to wait the longest for him to play. It's a bit like reverse Kerplunk. Pull the thin sticks out and use them to build a nest you put eggs in. Great pizza and beer game. I will try to get some pics uploaded to BGG, but there are some good ones on my twitters.

Grifters
Card based engine builder that I liked. You can either play a single card for the ability or a group to claim a goal, but any cards played won't return to your hand for a few turns. Quick game (we played 2 games in like 45 minutes) and liked it. Snagged a copy for Grace (with promos!).

Imagine
This is a word/party game in the family of Anomia and Banagrams. A big pile of clear plastic cards have a simple symbol printed on it. You can combine them, laying them one over another to get everyone to guess the word or phrase you've got. It's like an animated card based charades? It's $15 and was a no brainer purchase.

Lords of Vegas
The Dads love this game and I've never played it. Thought it was really neat, though you really need to be comfortable riding the dice/card lightning. Anyone can come to your casino and gamble, winning all your money and there isn't naything you can do about it if they roll well. It was fun, and we played with the designer of Techno Bowl.

Secret Hitler
You all know how much I dislike The Resistance. I loved Secret Hitler. By crazy chance, I got to be Hitler 3 times out of 5. Playing as him is really interesting because he doesn't know who the other fascists are (they know who he is). Super cool. I think I liked it so much for 2 reasons.
1) The meta is not established. There are no major rules or conventions yet, so I didn't feel super behind just from sitting down.
2) The little extra bits of information grounded me, and gave me a nugget to focus on beyond just votes.

Dark Souls
As expected, it's going to blow the minds of heavy video gamers who don't board game much. Board Gamers who don't know anything about video games are going to find a good tactical game between Fireteam Zero and Descent complexity, with a focus on learning your enemies action deck and exploiting it. The smaller intersection of Dark Soulds die hards who are also board game die hards are going to gnash their teeth and wail loudly all over the internet.

On my mind

I can barely think. I forgot both breakfast and lunch today. GenCon was super fun. Made a bunch of good contacts for future podcast stuff which was really cool, and played some great games.

EDIT: Forgot to log The Duke and Onitama (which we've renamed Okeedokee)
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11. Video Game: White Clocks Can't Jump! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Codenames 8
Mystic Vale 2 NEW!
Dominion + Dominion: Empires 1
Shakespeare 1
Tobago 1 Not technically new, but it's been 6 years, so basically new!
Wizard 1

Mystic Vale: This is pretty much everything I heard others say about it: innovative mechanic with the card crafting, totally multiplayer solitaire, ends a bit before you feel like you've built up anything really cool, and somewhat of a pain to put away. I don't know how long this will hold my attention, but it's got at least a few more games in it.

Tobago: Holy fuck the down time. The game itself is an great idea (and the pieces are pretty cool), but there's little planning you can do when it's not your turn. This is an odd design as a family game since I think the strategy is a little too opaque for casual play, but there's too much luck for more serious play. I'm perfectly fine waiting another six years to try this again.

Things I stumbled across on BGG this week:

Thunderstone might not be dead after all?!

Shit BGGers say.

On My Mind:

I looked at tons of pictures and tweets from Gen Con this week, which I really enjoyed. After having gone the past two years, it was kind of cool to see certain areas and go "Hey, I've been there!" Of course, I was sad to have missed not getting to meet up with people, but there weren't OMGMUSTHAVENOW releases for me. Plus, seeing all the crowds made me remember how annoying that can be. Hopefully, I can go to a con within the next year though. I'm strongly considering Geekway as is actually about playing games and I might be able to make it since it is during finals week.

I've been working on a few of my research projects this week. In passing, I was talking to my colleague about my dream project of doing a study on board games and families. Long story short, she loves the idea and is totally willing to work on it with me. I'm super excited about the prospect and my mind has been buzzing with methodology and, most importantly, which games to include.

Lastly, Matt and I saw Suicide Squad. I'll put my opinion in spoiler text in case anyone doesn't want to be biased one way or another before seeing it.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
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12. Board Game: Dicht dran [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:5558]
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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Sticheln
Medici
Hansa Teutonica
The Bloody Inn
Dicht dran NEW!

Only a single new game this past week, I played a number of rounds of Dicht dran with my parents, who loved it. It definitely feels like "6 Nimmt, but with actual strategic play," and scratches the light family-card-game itch. Definitely keeping this one in my bag as a go-to filler.

Quick hits on the other stuff...

- Sticheln with 7p+ remains bonkers. It becomes fun for a lark at that high of a player count, but loses some of it's tough decisions (pile-ons with pain suit cards can really hurt due to the higher card values).

- I'm really starting to warm up to Medici in a way I haven't before. It's a really tight design that player can grok without too much trouble. I'm glad I stuck with it and look forward to more plays of it.

- It looks like the gods heard my prayer, because I got another Hansa Teutonica play in and will be getting another this week.

- The Bloody Inn remains quality. I hope it remains as fresh on my 10th play.
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13. Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:25] [Average Rating:8.17 Unranked]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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A very ameritrashy week for me. So many thematic games. And a couple euros so people don't think I'm lying, I guess. laugh

 9   Mansions of Madness: Second Edition NEW!
 5   Barbarian Prince NEW!
 7   Artifacts, Inc. NEW!

 8.5   Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
 ¡BBQ!   War of the Ring (second edition)

Let's start with the premier event of the week: War of the Ring Day. Grant puts on quite the production (as you have doubtlessly seen from his pics). 60 pounds of meat. Almost 20 people gaming. It's quite the production. And he really is very good at making BBQ. If engineering doesn't work out perhaps we'll see Pitmaster Grant.

We have a tub of leftovers in the fridge that I will slowly and blissfully pick at. Nom nom nom.

The game itself is a design I respect but it's not quite for me. I enjoyed playing it again (after last year only playing The Battle of Five Armies at War of the Ring Day, which I think is technically cheating), and it does an amazing job at capturing so much of the series in the game that you can't help but be impressed. Roberto truly loves Lord of the Rings and you can really feel it here.

The standout new game of the week for me was Mansions of Madness: 2E. The app-runs-the-game setup works wonderfully and this is now basically the experience I wanted out of the first edition but never quite got. It tells a story, it sets up the scenario in multiple ways to give extra replayability, it includes the kit to use the 1E monsters... excellent. And although I'm generally against pointless "streamlining just because," I must admit that the simpler rules here work quite well (minus a couple edge hiccups). The group loved it and is eager to play again.

All that said, I do have one big bone to pick with it. The insanity cards. There is something terribly flawed with them. This could somewhat be considered a spoiler so...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Several of the insanity cards make you turn traitor against the group. This thematically might be appropriate, but after a potentially very long game (one of the scenarios could easily be 3+ hours), having the game abruptly come to a halt when either a card makes someone intentionally tank the game and cause you to lose or make the game instantly end via a "just the insane person wins" condition is crap. I don't care if it's thematically appropriate. It's not fun. We'll be playing with those insanity cards removed; I care not if that makes the game easier (which I suppose it does, but there's still plenty of ways to lose).


This is likely an unpopular opinion but I'm sticking to it.

Barbarian Prince is a silly product of its time. It is a Conan-inspired affair from the era of charts-and-tables-mean-gameplay. You roll dice constantly to determine virtually everything that happens. Strategy need not apply. I had fun with it some of the time. Mainly when things were actually happening and I was not dying repeatedly due to huge mobs of monsters that my starving character had no chance of dealing with.

The main thing the game is lacking is goals. There's no way to actually make something happen - you just wander and hope for events that aren't terrible. If they just put in some actual quests that would go a long way. So would scaling the charts a bit so that the beginning wasn't such a crapshoot. Oh well. It is what it is, I might play again for a few yuks. I would likely severely tone down the "lost" rolls, as all they do is make you waste time, and not in an interesting way. It's just a bunch of extra rolling.

Artifacts, Inc. is a perfectly nice but not really standout dice placement game. You roll dice, get some stuff, acquire new cards, get some more stuff, then the game ends. It's fun enough and the art is lovely. There's just not quite any oomph to it. There's no single aspect that makes it stand out.

It's got more life to it than your run of the mill TMG title (oooh, burn), but I don't think I'll keep it forever. Maybe get a few more plays first and then sell.

Isle of Skye continues to be excellent. It's got a great mix of tension and tile laying, and I'm always a sucker for this sort of money system. The "you take the money of the other players or pay yourself" setup is a great way to make players have to balance out opportunities carefully. I predict this will be a keeper.
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14. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition [Average Rating:8.15 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.15 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Plays since July 25, 2016

 9.0   Dungeon Lords (BAJ with Grace and Grant)
 9.0   Hanabi (Robin's)
 9.0   Roll for the Galaxy

Whoa, actual meatworld play!

We finally lost a three player Hanabi game (breaking our streak of 6 wins, as well as our streak of 9 with 24+), but we're playing well in the current one. Dungeon Lords is still in year one, and I am one space away from attracting the Paladin's attention (which I am not at all prepared for, eep).

We finally hosted our RPG group last Tuesday night, and then the same group (minus Casey, who was having some neck pain/spasms) Saturday. We finished off our RPG session (with our characters being written out for now, since we aren't able to commit to playing regularly - I'm going to try to write up some little side adventures for our characters in the meantime to keep engaged). Then I taught Roll for the Galaxy while Aerial sat out to look after Luke. Everyone was new, and only Adam had even played Race (three years ago), so it took a few rounds for it to really click, but they seemed to enjoy it. Kelly stomped us with a massive produce/ship engine (she had the extra-green-and-white-shipping-dice thing, and five production worlds), while I came in second with some big worlds and pretty decent shipping (quality over quantity, with two purple dice).

That was all the plays we got in though, as Philip and Kelly needed to get home with Rose (who is adorable, and really enjoys hanging out with Luke; her foster family had some little ones and she had apparently missed having a baby around), so we just watched some Olympics with Adam until it was time for Luke to go to bed. Really enjoyed my birthday game day. Next weekend, Tyler (Aerial is getting to see a production of the Little Mermaid with my mom, sister-in-law, and niece, while dad and I hang out with Luke).

On My Mind Floor

Luke is really close to crawling... He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks forward, but then he'll usually decide he'd rather roll. Such a happy baby, though. He's also got some teeth poking through. And we've found our first favorite food - mango. Good times.
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15. Board Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Hyrule Fantasy [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 N/A   Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set
 N/A   The Legend of Zelda: The Hyrule Fantasy NEW!
 9   Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
 10   Roll for the Galaxy

Zelda -- I have a coworker who I periodically play games with via Tabletop Simulator. I went AFK for 2 minutes to grab a glass of scotch, and the group had somehow booted up this game while I was gone.

For being a game from the 80s, it actually had some interesting ideas going for it. Specifically:
1. The distance you could move was directly related to how much health you had.
2. There was some press your luck, as you could shout "Battle!" at the end of your turn to encounter a random enemy.
3. Items allowed for significant luck mitigation.
4. Reused the exact world map from the original game.

Unfortunately, there were several things within the design that did not work well:
1. There was little incentive to actually press your luck. You needed rupees to buy certain upgrades, but once you had them you should simply avoid conflict at all costs.
2. The bosses you fight were not balanced. Many were "Roll dice equal to your hearts total, and if you get a 6 you win." but the boss you fought was randomly determined (not by dungeon), and several of them were instead "roll 1 die, if you get a 6 you win." This caused me to go from a solid 1st place for most of the game to failing/dying within one dungeon 10 times in a row, and ultimately losing the game as a result. While it was decidedly funny, it was also horribly obnoxious considering it was a 2 hour game.


Tzolk'in -- Man, I forget how much I like this game until I play it. With 2 previous games, I was apparently the 2nd most experienced player at the table. I did a decent job of balancing my God tracks and gathering resources, but I was never able to convert those resources into an effective point scoring mechanism. Would love to play more.


Roll for the Galaxy -- Lost pretty badly here. Explored a bunch in the early game and just didn't hit anything that meshed with my starting worlds. As such, I lagged out and ended up with a bunch of low point junk at the end of the game, having never actually found any 6-cost developments.
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