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GCL Amoeba 285 – Personalities, again, but from a different angle (2016-08-22)
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

If you found us randomly (via subscription, perhaps), you're welcome to join in with constructive conversation -- we're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) Read the links above for more info. (If you're shy, just thumb the list so we can see who's stalking us :-) )

Current hosting rotation:
Mikko
Doug mb
Jason
Garry
Jimmy
Larry
Jeroen
Eric
James
Christina
Joshua
Carlos
Justin

(Other Amoeba alumni are welcome to ask to be on this part of the list, or to return to the hosting rotation! And hopefully I got the list correct...)

Couple of weeks ago we had a dash of personality profiling in the shape of MBTI. That was good, so let's keep with the topic – but let's take something that applies to our topic at hand a bit more.

Quantic Labs has developed a test that analyzes your tabletop gaming motivations and spits out a nice little graph that tells how your gaming motivations work in four different dimensions. I found the test fairly accurate, so let's see what kind of results we get.

Take the test.
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1. Board Game: Graphos [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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You can post your result graph here in the comments, so we can take a look and see what kind of gamer you are.
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2. Board Game: Conflict [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:14604]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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"Gamers with high Conflict scores tend be more competitive and enjoy games where players can take hostile actions directly against each other. This could be stealing another player’s resources, forcing them to discard, or destroying their units/buildings. Confrontational mechanics often create more dynamic gameplay because the stakes are higher. After all, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. These players enjoy games like Cosmic Encounter, Android: Netrunner, or Smash Up. Conversely, these gamers dislike games that restrict player interactions where each player is largely walled off in their own world (such as Agricola).

Secondary Motivation: Social Manipulation

Gamers who score high on Social Manipulation enjoy playing psychological mind games, where outcomes aren’t determined by dice or rulebooks, but instead by their ability to bluff, deceive, and persuade other players. The social arena of trust and negotiation is their favored battleground. They enjoy games where they have to convince other players of something (especially if it’s a lie), such as in games like Coup, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, or Battlestar Galactica. Sure, sometimes their friends may hate them when the game ends, but what good are friends that you can’t lie to from time to time?"

How do you feel about conflict and social manipulation in games?
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3. Board Game: Strategy I [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:9430]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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"Gamers with high Strategy scores enjoy taking on cognitive challenges. For them, games are a fun way to hone and test their intellectual abilities. Thus, they prefer games that require a lot of thinking and planning, reward sound decisions, and where strategic mastery and skill (rather than luck) are the primary determinants of the game’s outcome. They enjoy complexity, whether this comes from an intricate ruleset or overlapping mechanics that have short and long term trade-offs. They prefer slower paced games that give them the time to ponder their moves, and more incremental gameplay where elaborate strategies can be planned and executed. You might find them playing games like Terra Mystica, Castles of Burgundy, or Race for the Galaxy.

Secondary Motivation: Systems Discovery

Gamers who score high on this motivation are discoverers who have a broad interest in rulesets, game mechanics, and the play spaces that are enabled and emerge from different game systems. To this end, they enjoy keeping up with new game releases and staying up to date with the current meta. They take the time to find out about and try new game mechanics. As part of this, they also tend to have a good sense of the history and idiosyncrasies of different game designers and publishers. While they enjoy innovative game mechanics, they have a varied (or even eclectic) game palate, and are likely to play a broad range of games."

How do you feel about strategy and systems discovery in games?
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4. Board Game: Fantasy [Average Rating:4.86 Overall Rank:16271]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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"Gamers who have high Fantasy scores enjoy being immersed in another world, with its own lore, history, and cast of interesting characters. Being able to choose or customize their starting character/city enhances this sense of taking on a role in another world. They like the implicit narrative of being part of an unfolding story as they play the game, and enjoy titles like Arkham Horror, Descent, or Mice and Mystics. To them, the game is a fantasy world that comes alive as it is played.

Secondary Motivation: Aesthetics

Gamers who score high on Aesthetics like high-quality components that strongly reflect the theme and setting of the game. They enjoy tactile components that capture, enhance, and represent the fantasy world created by the game. This includes components (e.g., cards, game boards, props) that are beautifully designed and illustrated, as well as sculpted miniatures that represent the game’s characters or buildings. They enjoy games such as Tokaido, Above and Below, or Zombicide."

How do you feel about fantasy and aesthetics in games?
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5. Board Game: Animal Fun [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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"For gamers who score high on Social Fun, playing board games is first and foremost about having a good time with other people. The board game itself is simply a convenient prop around which friends and family can gather and have fun together. They enjoy the chatting, the social interaction, and the shared laughter that games (especially party games) can elicit. For them, board games are a great catalyst for a fun social gathering. They enjoy games like Exploding Kittens, Codenames, or Time's Up.

Secondary Motivation: Acessibility

Gamers who score high on Accessibility prefer games that a broad range of people can pick up and enjoy. After all, if you like playing board games with other people, then it’s helpful to have games that a lot of people can get into. Thus, these players favor games that are easy to learn, and accessible even to people with very little gaming experience. And if they enjoy board games as part of family gatherings, then family-friendly themes are also a plus. In their game collection might be titles like King of Tokyo, Takenoko, or Ticket to Ride."

How do you feel about social fun and accessibility in games?
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6. Board Game: Fashion Show [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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1 x _9_Innovation
1 x _8_Cosmic Eidex
2 x _8_Completto
1 x _7_Burgle Bros.
1 x _7_Spookies (new!)
2 x _7_Karuba (new!)
2 x _7_Best Treehouse Ever (new!)
1 x _6_Vasco da Gama
11 x _6_Fashion Show (new!)
2 x _6_Kivi (new!)
1 x _5_Caylus Magna Carta
1 x _5_Run Bunny Run (new!)
2 x _5_First to Find (new!)

New game season again, as I've received bunch of new titles from the Finnish publishers, and also the new Haba titles that published in Finland.

Spookies is a nice and simple push your luck die roller with risk management.

Karuba is an excellent Take It Easy variant, but simple enough to work mostly as a family game.

Fashion Show is a really quick and simple pattern matching game with a fashion theme that's aimed for girls. Not as bad as it appears, and the fact that single round takes just few minutes makes it quite ok.

Kivi is a Yahtzee variant with six dice and some board play instead of a scoring sheet. Not bad, but not particularly brilliant either.

Runny Bunny is X-Wing Miniatures Game with bunnies and wolves and just cards. Simple, but doesn't seem to really work all that well.

Best Treehouse Ever is a nice kid-friendly drafting game. Looks good, fun to play.

FTF: First to Find is a Geocaching-themed card game, which unfortunately doesn't really feel like Geocaching at all.
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7. Board Game: Mare Nostrum: Empires [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:393]
Jason
United States
Irvine
California
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New To Me:
_7_ Mare Nostrum: Empires x1
_6_ Ninja Camp x1

Acquisitions:
Vast: The Crystal Caverns

Light week for me since I had a tough week at work, and also had a bunch of chores to do around the house. Did get to finally try Mare Nostrum: Empires, which I wasn't too hyped up on when it was on Kickstarter, but got very interested once the reviews started coming in. I have not played the original, but found the new version to be very good. Does seem like it would work better a 5 players, but was still fun at the 4 player count. I do think it takes a few plays to really see how to keep people in check, and if you are not careful the game will end abruptly. While the systems are built to encourage the game moving quickly, I still felt like there were areas that can slow down a bit. The building / moving phases have turn order selected by the player who currently holds strength on a track related to these areas, and them selecting the player order is interesting, but does seem to cause a good amount of slow down. There is a good amount to explore here overall due to the different factions, and various win conditions, so I do expect to get in more plays over the comings months.

Ninja Camp felt like Hey, That's My Fish!, but with the restriction of not being able to do what you want, unless you have a card to do it. Not totally sure if I like the restriction or not yet, but it does offer another layer, and it also didn't seem to slow the game down much. Would be down to play again for sure.

I hadn't even heard of Vast: The Crystal Caverns until the week before Gen Con 2016, and as soon as it was available to order from the publishers site, I jumped on it. There seems like a ton to explore in this game, as there are 5 different roles in the game (a Knight, Goblins, a Dragon, a Cave, & a Thief) and they all play completely different, and all their goals are intertwined. After going through the rules a bit this week, the game does seem like its going to be a bear to teach, but seems worth it since the game seems to very different than anything else out there!
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8. Board Game: Age of Craft [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:8503]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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2x _6.75_ Age of Craft
1x _7.75_ Bohnanza
1x _7.00_ Agricola
1x _6.50_ Drum Roll
1x _6.25_ Nicht die Bohne!
1x _5.75_ Crazy Karts
1x _5.75_ WarCraft: The Board Game
1x _5.50_ Project Kells: Sacred Hill, High Kings of Tara & Poisoned Chalice
1x _5.25_ Star Wars: Rebellion
1x _5.25_ Scythe
1x _5.25_ Im Auftrag des Königs
1x _5.00_ Big Kini
1x _5.00_ King of the Elves
1x _4.00_ Elementals
1x _3.00_ Galactic Empires
1x _3.00_ Alibi


Age of Craft remains an excellent game . We decided to start throwing in the second expansion as well, and I think I like the 2p trading rules it introduces - even if the upkeep is a bit involved. Maybe I should get different colored dice for trading or such...

Crazy Karts was good fun. Lots of laughs, and some strategy misunderstanding between the teams. I'd love to play with more than 2 teams next time though.

And this was likely my last play of Scythe until the expansion hits. All friends have had similar reactions, and noone really understands why this one is shooting up the ranks so quickly. Viticulture was much better imho.
We must be gaming snobs .

Nicht die Bohne! was particularly fun again. I forgot it was this good...
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9. Board Game: Outpost [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1653]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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 10   Agricola
 8   Outpost
 8   Grand Austria Hotel
 8   VOLT: Robot Battle Arena
 8   1880: China
 7   Spectaculum NEW!
 7   Riff Raff
 7   Quartermaster General

It was a close choice between Grand Austria Hotel and Outpost this week. All the games but 1880 were from a Saturday game day with my kids, my 14 yro son and my 10 yro daughter. It started with a 2-player game of Quartermaster General with my son while my daughter was at dance class. We didn't quite finish before I had to go pick her up. I was the Axis and had amassed a 25 point lead, but it was about Round 12 and Japan and Italy were almost out of cards. I'm not sure if I'd have kept my lead to the end of the game or not. It'd have been close.

When I got back with my daughter, her first choice was Riff Raff which was a nice palate cleanser for me and my son and a good start for her. Then it was my turn to pick and I chose Outpost. I'd already played Phoenicia with them once and they seemed to like it so I thought I'd give Outpost a try. It took right around 3.5 hours including rules explanation. I expect future plays would be a bit shorter but I'm not sure how much. In any case, everyone loved it. My daughter rated it a 9 or 10. My son rated it an 8 or 9 and I rated it an 8 (which surprised both of them). Everyone was engaged the entire time. The scores were tight up until the very end. Just before we broke Era 3 there was a 2 point gap between first and last. Then, in the first round of Era 3, I grabbed the cheap Upgrade. In the second round, my daughter grabbed the expensive upgrade and I grabbed the middle upgrade, and my son grabbed the cheap upgrade. However, in the last round, I couldn't get anything while my daughter grabbed the second expensive upgrade for the win and my son grabbed the middle upgrade. Final scores were 80 (10 yro daughter) to 70 (me) to 63 (14 yro son). Can't wait to play again!

Then it was my son's turn to pick. Did he think after 3.5 hours of brain-burniness we should do something light? No. He picks 'Gric. OK, to be fair, it's light for me, but neither of them. They're both still really struggling with the amount of forward planning necessary in that game. The final scores weren't close. I won't say no when they suggest it, but it's not one I'll suggest playing any more.

Then, for her second pick, my daughter chose Volt. This is an absolute favorite of ours. It's the sort of social conflict, out-guessing each other that we all love. Simple rules (we have yet to try the special power tiles) and just lots of chances to mess with each other. I think we all scored more points from killing each other than by landing on the goal spots. I won this one 5 to 3 to 3, killing my daughter and landing on the goal spot in the same turn.

Then, for my second pick I chose Spectaculum. It was my first time playing it and I liked it. It has a Paris Connection feel to it but with more things to think about including margin calls and pay outs. I'm not sure if it's good enough for repeated plays, but I'm holding onto it for now.

At that point we'd been gaming for about 8 hours (including breaks for lunch and dessert) and I figured I should get them home. However, they both wanted to play Grand Austria Hotel. So, we went home. They got ready for bed and then we played GAH. As it turned out, I crushed them, but if things had played out a little bit differently, it would have been a lot closer. They both needed one more turn to get cubes and they'd have finished 2 of the 3 goals as well as getting VPs for completing blue sections and avoiding negatives for unfinished customers. I'd have still won, but my son would have been close and my daughter would have avoided being lapped. Play time was right at 90 minutes which I thought was good.

The only other play last week was 1880 last night. I think the privates in this game are often underrated as they can provide early cash that's better than share payouts. So, I went with all but 2 of the privates (Charlie got the Rocket and the "D" private) and only started one company (the BCR). Charlie started two companies and Greg started three. By the end of the game, Charlie and Greg still just had their initial companies while I had four (one 2-share presidency (BCR), one 3-share presidency (CKR in SR3), and two 4-share presidencies (WNR for train money and JGG to break the 8Ts and speed the end)). I had 100% of the BCR which got to the top right on the last OR and 20% of the JHA (one of Charlie's two companies) that got to the top right a few ORs earlier. Despite having better shares (he had 100% of his BZU that was one spot shy of the top right and 80% of his JHA), he didn't have enough shares and I beat him 10.9 to 9.5. Greg struggled with starting three companies and never came close (7.9 I think). He started with the SCR, HKR, and NJR. One problem was that he started the NJR with a BCD permit and lost at least one OR when he couldn't run it. Neither of them really grasp the need to buy trains even when you can't run them and that hurts them (my private money was $50 a round while Charlie's was $25 and Greg's was $0). Play time was right at 3.5 hours which I thought was pretty good.
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10. Board Game: Arkwright [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:567]
JR
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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This week was a pretty active one for me as gaming goes. Early in the week we took Naomi's sister and her partner to the local stay-and-play FLGS for an evening of some light social games (even I do it occasionally!). Our 18XX contingent was slated to play a game Saturday and finally Naomi and I we were expecting an afternoon visit from some gaming friends on Sunday.

Entering the X/10 rating system with coloured backgrounds seems really fiddly. Is there some easier way of doing that? I think I'm going to use a 5 star system for now because I can just click the star icons a few times.

1x Bohnanza
1x Traders of Carthage

Stay and play gaming at the FLGS with some guests who had a bit of gaming experience but don't know very many games yet. We chose Bohnanza for a starter game because it is easy to teach and since they are vegans the bean farming theme clicked easily.

After that, Naomi selected Traders of Carthage (the original), which I hadn't played in a while and was happy to quickly re-learn and teach. I actually own the newer Traders of Osaka printing, but we haven't played it since I got it. TBH I can't remember who won this game but everyone had a good time. I was happy to have been reminded of a bit of a light gaming gem I had forgotten about for some time.


1x Cuba Libre

During a couple of mid-week evenings I got into my fourth or fifth play (solo) of Cuba Libre, my first foray into the COIN system of games by which I have been fascinated for some time but only finally took the plunge into a couple months ago.

In this game I played as Castro's July 26th insurgent group and also controlled the Directorio faction. I used the game's own non-player faction (bot) rules for Batista (the Cuban govt) and the "Syndicate" faction (the organized crime presence that was fairly strong in Cuba at the time).

I know some rules were played incorrect here, but it was only my second game running the bots and it went much more smoothly than my first attempt and I think by my next game I should be mostly doing everything correctly. I won this game by a large margin but that's a result of a last turn swing that really toppled the scales in my favour and it had been a fairly closely contested match until then, but if I had got all the rules correct I am pretty sure I'd have been trounced by the Govt and their armed police forces in the mid game...

For my next solo play of Cuba Libre I am planning to devise a simple shorthand notation to record each event card that is turned and then record which factions act on it, in which order, and which operations they carry out. I plan to post this game as it happens in verbose detail on the 1p gaming guild as a geek list or forum thread so I can get some feedback from experienced COIN players on where I am interpreting rules incorrectly. Once I have another play under my belt I am going to start to look for an opponent to play a table game with. I LOVE this game concept and the whole series is sure to please. I've already acquired two more COINs and am on the P500 for more.

2x Arkwright

I went into Arkwright with high expectations and they were quickly validated, despite the fact that we only played the Spinning Mule version for our first day of Arkwright. Our 18XX group was looking to be only two players for this past Saturday so, for the first time ever, we tabled a non-18XX only to have our third player show up after all. So, we played two back to back games of Spinning Mule with three players.

I don't want to go on and on about this game but suffice it to say it is a VERY good match for me and I think anyone who really enjoys a deep economic experience will find positives in this one. There's a lot of very nice interaction between several subsystems of the game which makes it feel more like a rich simulation than many economic euro games I've played in the past. One particular point of interest as an example is the way the job market both influences and is influenced by several other parts of the game. Without getting into game specific rules, etc, just understand that the game has a job market. There are scads of little grey pawns sitting in this job market and they all want jobs so they can feed their families in the industrial revolution. When you hire workers for your factories, you remove them from the job market. As more people become employed and fewer workers are available to be hired, the wage demands of all workers increase (even those hired first in the game). If many workers are fired and put back into the market, then over time the wage demands decrease as people become more desperate for work again. Now the interesting counterpoint to this is that the level of employment in england also directly influences the amoung of demand that exists for goods. So a very high number of employed workers means very high wages need to be paid but it also means all these employed workers need to buy food, cutlery and clothing which you are producing in the factories. Because this is the industrial revolution, you can build machines to automate tasks in your factories and decrease the number of workers you need to employ. This reduces your costs but also raises unemployment which reduces the demand! There are many intertwined systems within the game like this such that most actions tend to have re-actions in some other part of the game and figuring out how all that hooks together and managing a half decent score at the end is a really delicious cerebral puzzle that I know is going to have legs for a very long time, and I haven't even touched Water Frame yet, which increases the complexity quite a bit. Our next play we will be going straight into that version. I can see this going 5/5 stars once I've played Water Frame a few times and confirmed my expectations.


1x Patchwork
1x Traders of Osaka

Through the week Naomi and I played a couple games of Patchwork. The theme and easy, light game play work for her. The challenge works for me. Somehow I just seem to get worse at the game with every play. The more I try to do better than last time, the worse I seem to do. I literally almost filled my entire board the first time I played the game (one space missing I think), and since then I've never come anywhere even remotely close to that. This game is really attractively designed and component quality is nice enough to get special mention from me, and I'm not usually too fussed about graphical design and such.

Finally, on Sunday we entertained a few friends who are also gamers. I broke out my newer Traders of Osaka game and taught and played in about 45-60 minutes with some chatting along the way. Everyone seemed to be pleased with this clever but fairly simple game. Naomi was looking like a clear winner after the midway point with a large stack of points, but for the final action of the game I bought a large market of goods, two of which sold on that turn and I was able to pull level with her 14 VPs but she won the game with 9 achievement tokens vs my 8. Our guests each scored 11pts, I think. Not bad for their first plays.

If you're not familiar, Traders of Osaka (nee Traders of Carthage) is a low-complexity card game in which a single set of cards is used for a number of different purposes (a la San Juan, RFTG, GtR).
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11. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:264]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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10.  Kanban: Automotive Revolution
8.0  Flash Point: Fire Rescue x2
8.0  Last Will: Getting Sacked
7.5  Roll Player
7.0  Carcassonne
7.0  Murano
6.5  Karuba
6.5  Pictomania
6.0  Las Vegas
5.5  Rattlebones NEW!
4.5  Apples to Apples
4.0  Bohnanza

Game night at the library wound up being with 4 ladies who knew nothing other than traditional American games...so Caleb and I introduced them to Las Vegas and Carcassonne...I think they enjoyed the former but not the latter as much We also played Apples to Apples, which they had brought as it was the one I felt Caleb would be most likely to have some fun with and do okay at (I was wrong on this count...he felt he never had any good cards to use and won 0 green cards) - but it was better than Taboo (I prefer Taboo, but Caleb doesn't do all that well with word games, and even more when there is a timer involved. I'm starting to question whether we'll keep going or not - this meetup has deteriorated dramatically from a year ago and we seldom see any former regulars anymore.

Played a number of games at game nite...enjoyed my play of Pictomania, although it was not a particularly good game for me...I need to slow down a little when choosing what others are drawing - had a number of times where I threw a card down to be first and then got to another player and suddenly realized I really needed that card on the other player. Some of those words can be very close when it comes to trying to draw them. Had one round where I actually scored 11 points...which was promptly followed by a -6 round...sigh. One round I had the joy of drawing donkey and naturally horse was also on the card, so I tried to draw two different sized equines and pointed an arrow at the smaller one. Alas, I was too sloppy and the size difference was too small, so everyone thought I did horseshake

Enjoyed playing the two new pnp maps that were created by a BGG user - seaside house and administrative building. Both of them have their own set of challenges, but the administrative building destroyed us on our first go around...we'll see how quickly we can figure it out. There's alot on that board that is similar to the high rise board which is another board we really struggle on.
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12. Board Game: Saloon Tycoon [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:1995]
Christina Law
United States
Aliso Viejo
California
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New to Me:
_7_ Saloon Tycoon with Boomtown expansions
_6.5_ Gemblo
_6_ Too Many Cooks x 2
_6_ Municipium
_5_ That’s Life


Return Visitors:
.10! Tichu
.10! Vikings
.10! Mord im Arosa
_7.5_ Coloretto x 2… more attractive 10th anniversary edition is a must if you like this game!

Hello! (entering collection)
No thrifting, trading or buying of games this week.


Goodbye (leaving collection)
Currently own about 200 games right now, including promos/expansions. (Previously owned list is at 65 items out the door.)


Saloon Tycoon: Good Western-themed building and tile placement game from KS, along the lines of Castles of Mad King Ludwig (but no auction mechanism). I like that you get to build multi-level locations, up to four floors. Terrible score track though, and everything is brown + brown + brown in this game.

Gemblo: Fun, light abstract. An attractive variation of Blokus for up to 6 players. Pieces are hexagonal, rather than square, so rules for placement are somewhat different. Colorful, translucent, gem-like pieces create a work of art by the time the game board is full.

Too Many Cooks: Potential for a good family trick-taking game. I like the recipe card positive/negative points consideration, along with taking the pot once it reaches or exceeds 10 points. Enjoyed my second play more once some rules were clarified and corrected after a confusing first game on a different night. Cute cartoon artwork for the soup ingredients will appeal to kids… and kids at heart. (I heard that the 2009 reprint has flimsy cards, but the 2002 edition that I traded for has good card quality.)

Municipium: Beautiful board and colorful game pieces. Gameplay isn’t intuitive, but there are interesting decisions to be made when players move around the board to garner majorities, use unique building actions, and trigger citizen events. I want to like this game more, but it just didn’t make me feel invested in the process. Even though I just got it last week in a trade, I’m already putting up for adoption again.

That's Life!: Simple roll and move that was too light for me. Interesting movement choices in the same vein as Cartagena, but I like Cartagena better.
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13. Board Game: Suspicion [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:5836]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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On Thursday, Anni and I continued our Pandemic Legacy Thursdays.

_7_ Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (February) -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We opened our monthly bonus to find the Quarantine Specialist role, which seemed worth using right away. We made her co-workers with the Scientist, who we also used in this game. We weren't too happy with our opening city draw, as all three of the two-cube cities (as well as one one-cube city) were blue, which was our unstoppable virus. As it turned out though, the co-worker thing made this scenario really easy. I (the Scientist) started out with 3 black cards, so Anni flew to a city near the a fourth black card she had in her hand, moved there, and used the co-worker ability to pass me the card. I was standing in Atlanta, so we cured a disease on turn one. On turn two (with the help of the pilot ability from the previous game), we eradicated the disease, because heck, might as well (I named it "Lower Black Pain"). Anni used her Quarantine Specialist role to throw quarantine markers on a few European cities, but eventually it seemed to be getting a little out of control, so I walked over there to manually drop some quarantine markers there too. Anyway, I was having some pretty good card luck, not drawing blue cards or more black cards, so with a little more co-worker shenanigans, we managed to cure the last two diseases. This game was over very quickly--we only had two outbreaks all game. As our bonus, we decided to keep a research station in Tehran (which seems really key) and started the black disease down the helpful mutation path.


On Saturday, I was down in NJ visiting my family.

_6_ Suspicion (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Jon, Tina, and Lauren; everyone was new. Jon had picked up this brand new "Target Exclusive" game because deduction games that play a lot of players are a favorite of this group. I think I did the best at hiding my identity early on in the game, but that just meant more people asked me questions. I guess technically I could've tried to keep track of what other people knew about me to manage what to reveal, but that was obviously way too much work. However, the game did kind of drag, as people tried to arrange the pawns to get maximum information, and you couldn't really plan ahead. I switched from trying to eliminate as many suspects as possible to trying to identify particular players, and by the end of the game, I had figured out Anni and Lauren, and had Jon and Tina down to 50/50. Jon had made an offhand remark that made me pretty sure who he was too, but I wound up guessing wrong on Tina. Jon managed to figure out everyone before the game ended, so in trying to end the game he didn't get two sets of gems. Despite this, he still won.


_8_ Tragedy Looper (First Steps #1) -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Lauren got this game for Anni for her birthday, and was really interested in playing, despite having five people for a four-person game. So Anni and I decided to be co-masterminds (since we had played before), while all of the other players (who had not) were investigators on the first training scenario. Well, this didn't go well for us in mastermind-land. We couldn't end the first loop with the serial killer because of some movement chaos, and wound up giving up her identity in the process. We did end up using the murder incident to end the first loop, but that gave away the murderer. In the second loop, they avoided the serial killer and the murder (actually they tried to feed the murderer to the serial killer, but that didn't work out for them), but we couldn't get the suicide to work, as they guessed who the suicide was (it's not hard). We managed to not set ourselves up for the 4-intrigue autowin because apparently I can't tell the difference between paranoia chits and intrigue chits. So in Day 4 of the second loop, we were pretty screwed, and I planned a move that wouldn't work by itself but would if they tried to screw with it. Well, they did screw with it, and ended up moving the key person to the serial killer, but they also moved another person to the serial killer to stop her. So, we didn't even get to loop 3, and they won.



THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES

Suspicion is a Sleuth-like deduction game in which player are trying to both collect gems as well as figure out which pawn is associated with which other player. The game begins with 10 pawns on a map board (which is obviously more than the number of players), and players receive a secret identity card that tells them which pawn is there. On a player's turn, he rolls two custom dice that tells him which of the two pawns he must move this turn. Then, he plays a card from his two-card hand. Each card has two actions, both of which must be performed. Some cards let you take a specific gem, and others let you take a gem from the room where your pawn is (which will give others information about you). Others will let you ask another player if their pawn can "see" a certain color pawn using normal line-of-sight rules. Another card will let you look at an unused card from the secret identity cards. In the end, each player you have correctly identified (you may guess) is worth 7 points, each set of 3 different gems is worth 6 points, and each other gem is worth 1 point. I liked what this game is trying to do, but it failed a little in the execution. My main concern is that the game really dragged, as players tried to maximize the information they got from questions when they moved the pawns, and this couldn't be planned before their turn because of dice rolling. Additionally, while playing one of two cards gave you some choice, it still felt pretty constrained--in particular, taking a specific gem felt flat-out better than taking a gem from where you are, because of the information given up. I'd play this again, but it's definitely one that requires some patience for analysis paralysis.
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14. Board Game: Beyond the Rhine [Average Rating:8.52 Overall Rank:4464]
 
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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 8   Beyond the Rhine

Just one game this week. Joe Rushanan and I set up Scenario 6.2 (the northern campaign) months ago, but tonight we got together and played the first turn. Joe is the Allies and I'm the Axis.

With Limited Flight and a shortage of supply, the Allies can't do too much on the first turn, but he did blast through the Gembloux gap and exploited his way forward, so I retreated energetically and tried to set up for difficult times ahead. The thing I particularly like about this game (in addition to my general affection for the OCS series) is that it illuminates so much of the history I've read about the Western Front in 1944 and 1945, and in fact gives insight into many game on this topic that have more limited scope.

So, you often hear about the bitter disagreements among the Allied commanders as to who would get how much in supplies. This game shows you that issue in tangible form. On his first turn, Joe's Commonwealth troops got a decent amount of supply, but the Americans got just 1 Supply Point. You can just imagine Bradley steaming!

I can easily imagine raising my rating to _9_ after some more play, precisely because of the insight it provides to someone like me.
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15. Board Game: Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:2240] [Average Rating:7.99 Unranked]
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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A pretty light gaming weekend for me. My regular Saturday group met, and we started with Beowulf: The Movie Board Game which didn't suck, and which I wouldn't rush to play again. It was okay, just not my type of game. We started a game of Quadropolis and had to stop, as our host got a call that his mother-in-law had been taken to the emergency room with breathing problems (older woman, it's been kind of a nightmare dealing with her health and dementia issues, apparently). She passed away the next day and, while I don't wish people dead, it will reduce the stress load on my friend and his wife hugely, and the mother-in-law wasn't showing any signs of improvement. Still sad for all involved.

Later during the day, I finished up a VASSAL scenario of Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 with my regular opponent. We're onto our 6th scenario now, so I guess we like the game.

Sunday I finished up a VASSAL game of Crusader Rex. The dice hated me, and I conceded after maybe about 1/3 of the game. I was the Saracens and had to be on the attack and I lost every attack badly. Overall, my opponent averaged about 1 extra hit per combat round, and I was about 1 hit shy. Add these 2 things together, and the Crusader kingdoms are around to stay. I don't even know if I like the game because there was so much bad luck. We're going to start it again this coming weekend and keep the same sides to see if it was just the dice, or if I really suck at playing the Saracens.
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