The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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Last year I participated in the Family 5 x 5 challenge and completed it in the middle of the year. I hoping for a more vigorous challenge this year to support two other challenges I'm engaged in with my 14 year old son: Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and Playing All of My Cooperative Games. I'm truly excited to play these games!

TEN HARDCORE CHALLENGE GAMES

Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel
7 Wonders Duel
Board Game: Arcadia Quest
Arcadia Quest
Board Game: BattleLore (Second Edition)
BattleLore (Second Edition)
Board Game: Blood Rage
Blood Rage
Board Game: Chess
Chess
From gallery of Photodump
Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Board Game: Cry Havoc
Cry Havoc
Board Game: Kemet
Kemet
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions
Mechs vs. Minions
Board Game: Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture
Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture

Alternative:
Board Game: London Dread
London Dread
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1. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:16]
Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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July 14, 2017: This past weekend I went up to New Hampshire with my son Patrick for a weekend with my three other sons (Matt, Joel and Kieran) and daughter-in-law-in-waiting. We try to get together at least once every other month. I last visited during father's day weekend when we played 9 rounds of Codenames: Pictures, Blood Rage, Arcadia Quest and Shakespeare. This time we were more ambitious slotting twelve games to play during this visit all playable by 6 players - we got through all of them but one. I have keys to my son Joel's apartment so when I arrive early, as occurred today, I can allow myself in. During our time waiting for Matt, Joel and Kieran to go see Spiderman: Homecoming, Patrick and I were able to play a few games of 7 Wonders Duel. We previously played this game as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament where Patrick soundly beat me except for our initial play where we learned how to play the game and I enjoyed a military victory. Now we are playing it to satisfy an entry in our The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge which is our contribution to 2017 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each. Well it appears that patterns rarely change. I again won military victories the first two games while Patrick won a civil victory 69-65. We wanted to familiarize ourselves with the game again before adding the expansion - 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon. We intend on play a few more of the base game before making that addition. Even without the expansion, the game is a wonderful quick play with several possible outcomes and implementable strategies that the player must consider or suffer an early loss, as Patrick did. You have the military victory where one of the players moves the conflict token completely to his opponent's end; The science victory where one player collects all six different technology symbols; or the civil victory where one tallies all of the victory points accumulated after the end of the third age. It's a great game. It is one Patrick and I continue to enjoy and look forward to playing, and after reading the rules for 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon I look forward to adding it to the base game. By the way, Spiderman: Homecoming was really good.

July 21, 2017: All of the bad memories are coming back. Twice today Patrick gained science victories collecting six different technology symbols including the Law progress token to defeat me. After the initial loss I immediately recalled Patrick's attraction to the science cards. Thus I was determined to deprive him of another science victory in the second game, but to no avail, since I he cards appeared to conspire against me. I would take a science card, but two would come up in short order and always in a manner where he could get the card and not I. To top it off, even though the law progress token did not make it into the game, Patrick completed the Great Library wonder that allowed him to choose a progress token from three randomly selected tokens of those discarded from the game. Sure enough, the Law progress token was among the three and he won the second game. Ugh!

July 23, 2017: We decided to spice up our game play of 7 Wonders Duel by adding the 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon expansion to our remaining plays. It certainly adds some more flavor to the game. Patrick took immediately to the new mechanics going so far as using the divinity Ra to steal one of my wonders! Again, I tried to prevent him from gathering the six different science symbols but time and again my attempts failed as he scored the "take another turn immediately" progress token at the completion of any wonder allowing him to draw science cards nearly at will to gain yet another science victory.

July 26, 2017: So I thought I had Patrick on the ropes accumulating a great many victory points while he persistently pursued his science symbols. Midway through the third age, he made a mistake. He already collected five divinity cards and sought to activate one more by purchasing the gate card. At the time he needed only one more symbol having collected 5 symbols despite my taking science cards whenever I could. Among the divinities he collected were Ishtar and Nisaba which gave him two science symbols. At the critical juncture where he sought to obtain a sixth divinity he could have obtained Hades which would have allowed him to take and build a card from those discarded. The final symbol he needed was among the discarded cards. But he failed to obtain Hades settling for another divinity that bore no consequence to the current game. As a result Victory appeared to be mine when we got down to four cards. I chose poorly. Instead of leaving the two last cards locked I picked one that left one of the cards unlocked which meant that Patrick would get the last card - a science card - and win the game. How frustrating!
 
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2. Board Game: Arcadia Quest [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:159] [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked]
Board Game: Arcadia Quest
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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June 17, 2017: I went up to New Hampshire to visit with my sons over the Father's Day Weekend. I introduced them to Arcadia Quest which they enjoyed quite a bit. At first they sought to work cooperatively to destroy the monsters but soon realized that the monsters served merely as distractions to the goals that need fulfilling and that one of those goals is seeking to kill one of the members of a rival guild. My son, Joel, learned the lesson quickly to my detriment sitting on the sidelines where I brought the Minotaur or another player down to 1 hp and then stepping in to receive credit for the kill. He won the Manor scenario using this tactic. When we played the Rookery scenario, however, I was able to pull out the victory including being named a Lord of the Eagles, while my children fought amongst each other.
 
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3. Board Game: BattleLore (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:222]
Board Game: BattleLore (Second Edition)
Jason Vicente

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September 8, 2017: Matthew looked at the games brought for Another Family Board Game Marathon in New Hampshire and stated "This looks interesting," regarding BattleLore (Second Edition). I thought, great, we can knock off a star in my The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge. But it's a statement he would later regret making. He took the Uthuk army while I played the Daqan. We went through selecting our armies and laid them out. Matt thought he took a good strategic approach to the game, but dice, I must say, hate him. There were instances where he could not damage my troops at all, while I would wipe out his with one roll. I could see the anger growing in him and asked if he wanted to end the game and move on to something else. He insisted on completing the game, which we did. He did not end up doing too badly losing 16 - 10, but declared his hatred of the game. BattleLore (Second Edition) remains one of my favorite games. I love it, but if dice hate you, you probably can empathize with Matt.
 
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4. Board Game: Blood Rage [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:33]
Board Game: Blood Rage
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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January 27, 2017: After spending dozens of hours painting miniatures I finally got Blood Rage to the table at a gaming weekend with my sons. It was the second game we played, after Sushi Go!, since I knew knew that if we started at eight we wouldn't end until midnight...and so it was. I certainly experienced the entertainment potential in the game but did not find it as enjoyable as anticipated. This may be because we played with five players and many say the game does not play as well with that number as opposed to four. Regardless, I plan to play this further with different player counts and we will see if that makes a difference. Right now I rank it an 8 out of 10.

February 4, 2017: After playing with five players last weekend, Patrick and I were anxious to see how this played with just two as we fit this game into our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . It worked well and went much more quickly. Last week it took more than 4 hours to play the game. Today we played it in less than an hour and a half, but Patrick destroyed me. I started off well raising my rage and glory point tracks during the first round, but then Patrick started moving up on all of his tracks pillaging Yggdrasil three times including one with a card that allowed re-pillaging it for two rage! This enabled him to score 20 points for each of the rage, glory and horn tracks decimating me. The final score was 92 to 41.

June 17, 2017: In addition to playing Arcadia Quest we also played Blood Rage. Sadly, I have to say every time I play this game I like it less and that causes me some distress considering the amount of time I spent painting all of the game's miniatures. My son Joel delivered a whooping to the rest of us playing the Loki strategy building up a significant number of glory by losing battles and dying. In the end he scored an impressive 158 points while Matthew had 83, I 72 and Kieran, who won our first play ever of Blood Rage, was stunted at 63.

June 21, 2017: This maybe the most humiliating loss I have ever endured in any game. My son, Patrick, crushed me winning 156 to 41. No matter what I tried to do, he got there first and beat me, destroying me in battles, leaving me without any troops on the board which allowed him to pillage the entire board unhindered. He maximized all of his clan's attributes by the third age and simply dominated which won him the challenge for this game in our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and, with a victory in New York 1901, has placed him ahead in that contest.
 
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5. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:452] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Board Game: Chess
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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January 13, 2017: Patrick and I played chess today as part of a mini gaming marathon that we took part in today. Patrick often competes in chess tournaments and has won several trophies. Thus, when I win a game I take great pride in the victory. In the first game Patrick was white - which is his strongest side. Nonetheless, within ten moves I was threatening mate by focusing on the F2 space with several pieces. Unfortunately, when we started trading pieces, I came out behind and resigned when I was down to my King and two pawns. The second game proved quite different. I've been studying a video entitled "The Unbeatable Urusov Gambit," and though it is beatable the reckless player will lose. Patrick is often reckless relying on his gut rather than his brain resulting in his loss here after I sacrificed my Knight to free the way for my Queen to mate Patrick's King by moving to F7 under the protection of my Bishop. The drama played out in less than fifteen moves and was one of the more satisfying victories I have ever enjoyed.

January 21, 2017: I got whipped three times this morning in Chess by Patrick. I've been studying numerous defenses and he beat all of them (French Defense, Sicilian Defense with the accelerated dragon (my favorite) and the Latvian Gambit). Patrick has improved considerably since we played last year and recognized all of the defenses except the Latvian Gambit which the chess website recommended as one most have not seen, and even though Patrick noted that he was unfamiliar with the move, he played it perfectly bringing down his Queen on the black diagonal to check my King and win my King side Rook and eventually the game.

August 26, 2017: So I spent a couple of weeks learning the London System for white knowing that Patrick is a much weaker Black side player. In our first game I had him on the ropes. He appeared completely unfamiliar with the London System and sought, as he usually does, to open up the board by trading pieces left and right. The problem for him was that I was maintaining at least a one piece advantage throughout the game - UNTIL - I blew the game by throwing away my Knight, which Patrick took with a pawn leaving me with no adequate response. It was all downhill from there and I ended up resigning.

I tried the London System again in our second game, but instead of permitting me to create the typical London System structure of an upside v-alignment of pawns with the Queen's pawn on E-4, Patrick again took to trading pieces to the point we were both left with two Rooks and a few pawns. Although I had two pawns more than he did they were not well placed, a few being doubled up because of previous exchanges. Consequently, he plucked away my pawns, then trapped one of my Rooks leading me to resign yet again.
 
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6. Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:62]
From gallery of Photodump
Jason Vicente

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February, 17 2017: I felt quite certain that Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure would expose one of Patrick's major weaknesses - the inability to resist pushing one's luck and allow me to increase my lead in Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . In our play through this prediction came true as I was able to collect a couple of artifacts and other treasures then promptly escape the dungeon before Patrick did. Indeed, he could not sustain the onslaught of dragon attacks that occurred losing 82 to 72, but when tournament play began the gaming gods clearly favored Patrick. Despite having all but a few of his Clank cubes in the dragon bag, Patrick's blue cubes would not get drawn. Instead the dragon's black and my red cubes seemed to be the only ones coming out of the bag. Each time the dragon attacked you could see anxiousness consume Patrick as he thought perhaps this time the odds would catch up to him and five blues would come out all at once, but a sigh of relief and amazed laughter always followed. He knew he was beating the laws of probability. Just two rooms from escaping the dungeon, the dragon knocked me out. Patrick won our first tournament play by an amazing 155 to 93!

March 24, 2017: I travelled to New Hampshire for the weekend to play games with my three sons who live there. On the first night we played Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure. It was an interesting game as I quickly obtained an artifact and a few other treasures and then sought to beat the others out of the dungeon. Unfortunately, the lack of movement cards undermined my plan as two of my sons left the dungeon before me despite their being deep in the dungeon and having to travel through several crystal caves to get to the exit. My third son died in the depths but those of us who managed to exit scored in order - Matt had 101, I had 102 and Joel won with 103.

April 8, 2017: Today Patrick and I completed our tournament play of Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure for our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and my prediction of Patrick's manner of play proved correct in both games, he would die in the dungeon, but with different results in each game. Today we decided to play on the more difficult side of the game board which has only one escape route. Having lost to my older sons while playing this game with them because of a lack of movement cards (you can see a description of that debacle at The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge I collected them like precious stones this time - Elven boots, flying carpet, sneak - I had a large collection that meant having two to five boots with each hand drawn. This enabled me to leave the Dungeon rapidly after collecting a couple of artifacts. Patrick was stuck deep in the depths after my exit and he was unable to withstand the dragon attacks receiving his final death blow before escaping the depths. As a result I won 107 to 0.

In our second play, he again was deep in the depths when I escaped with the two lowest scoring artifacts available, but I was sure he would not leave the dungeon alive. He learned his lesson, however, making sure he had a good set of movement cards in his deck. He still had not escaped the depths when I initiated the dragon attack, but he had both the 30 and 25 point artifacts when he began his ascent. After the attack he was left with one life when he drew the four boots needed to get to the first spot just above the depths. He was knocked out on the subsequent dragon attack but survived long enough that this time his points would count and he had a ton of them including having accumulated over 30 gold pieces. He won the game 139 to 99.
 
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7. Board Game: Cry Havoc [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:537]
Board Game: Cry Havoc
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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August 26, 2017: Patrick and I learned Cry Havoc as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and the The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge. We learned the game by viewing the Watch It Played "How to Play" and "Game Playthrough" videos. After watching Rodney Smith gat manhandled by his son, Luke Smith, who played the humans, and getting destroyed by my son who also played the humans, I have my doubts about the game's balance. I studied the strategic approach for the machines, but still lost 78 to 22. The game is fun to play and it is interesting to watch the different strategic approaches to this asymmetric game. Nonetheless, more game plays are needed for me to finalize my opinion. Right now it's a slippery 7.5.
 
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8. Board Game: Kemet [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:97]
Board Game: Kemet
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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9. Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:39]
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions
Jason Vicente

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10. Board Game: Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked]
Board Game: Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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March 5, 2017: Debbie and I played our first game of Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture for The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge. As usual she beat me again 33 to 21. She started by planting vines and adding workers to build an engine to harvest grapes, make wine and fulfill orders. I started accumulating VP immediately because Papa left me with a tasting room as part of my inheritance. Thus, each time I gave a tour I would receive a VP, but I neglected to build my work force as Debbie used her to extra workers to collect more cards and dominate on the star board. Between filling orders, exchanging cards and playing some very advantageous visitor cards she accumulated 9 VP on her last turn and added another 8 on the star board, leaving me in the dust. Despite losing, I really do enjoy playing this game.

March 12, 2017: In this game of Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture I changed my approach and focused on training workers early in the game to enable me to have more actions as the game progressed and I made sure she didn't dominate the star area control game. I thought I was doing well, but Debbie again lambasted me using a structure and cards that enabled her to immediately fill orders whenever she drew a purple card. In the last two turns she filled 4 orders crushing me 35 to 24.

April 2, 2017: My wife and I played Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture today to the usual result - she won 34 to 26. I was at least able to make it pass the 25 threshold and get closer to her than I have been in a while. Perhaps I'll catch in another play or two.

April 16, 2017: Wow, I finally won one! My Papa card gave me a tasting room which I used almost from the beginning of the game making sure I had enough workers to devote at least one to providing a tour which not only gave me 2 Lira but also gave me a victory point. Later in the game I would give two tours per turn enabling me to spread the gap between Debbie and me. She had some difficulty building an effective engine. She had a great structure card that allowed her to harvest all of fields at once, and she would have six or seven grapes on her crush pad at a time, but she could not make wine fast enough to exploit all the grapes she had. I really didn't need to fill that many wine orders to win the game only filling 3 large orders that pushed me to 31 points. In her poorest showing in Tuscany ever Debbie only scored 21 points.

April 23, 2017: Wow again as I pulled off another victory over my wife 27 to 24. This time Papa gave me a windmill which permitted me to gain a victory point when planting a vine once per turn. This resulted in 5 victory points. As with my prior victory, I also focused on gathering my workers to build an engine that would move forward quickly. At one point I was twelve points ahead of Debbie. She did gather 6 VP from star placement in addition to 6 VP in the last round to shoot up to 24 victory points to make it much closer than it looked throughout the game.

May 7, 2017: Today Debbie and I played Tuscany again and it was a squeaker. I tried to adhere to the strategy I used to win the last two games but found myself dominating the area control portion of the game with my distribution of stars. When the last year ended Debbie had 26 points and I 21, but the he stars gave me 5 more points to tie Debbie, but it also gave her 1 for the victory as she overcame me this time 27 to 26.

July 3, 2017: It's been awhile since we got Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture to the table, but Debbie returned to her winning ways clobbering me 36 to 24. It's amazing the quality of cards she has at her disposal. At least I came closer than I have in some previous games.

July 4, 2017: Today was a really good day for Debbie. My daughter, Crystal, was off from work and I taught both of them Shakespeare (My son, Patrick referred to this as a minor miracle given Debbie's reluctance to learn new games - Moreover she hates the Bard making it more difficult to persuade her to learn the game). Despite her resistance, Debbie won Shakespeare. The she went on to crush me in Tuscany amazingly scoring 15 points in the last round for a 41! The scoring track only goes up to 40! I wasn't all that shabby at 32, but what pains me is that I was ahead until the last round.

July 8, 2017: Today was my day in Tuscany. After playing Great Western Trail with Patrick as part of the The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition and teaching Patrick Shakespeare, Debbie and I played our ninth game of Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture for this 10 x 10 challenge. Papa gave me a cottage enabling me to receive a winter or summer visitor card each Fall, while Mama gave me the Fruit dealer which allowed me to collect a victory point each time I harvested the field to which it was attached. Both the points and the cards kept rolling in giving me the opportunity to discard them for victory points. Debbie had some outstanding cards as well, including receiving the medium cellar from her Papa and then playing a winter visitor card that upgraded it to a large cellar for a couple of Lira. In the end I prevailed 31 to 27. she came close to catching me with the placement of her stars.

July 17, 2017: Today I learned that the most important aspect of a successful strategy in Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture is to fill orders. This in addition to mixing the types of grapes each field makes, which allows for mixing the grapes into Rosées and champagne wines proves a powerful tact. So when presented with the option of either training a new worker or filling an order, I chose the latter and believe that made the difference. I also received some outstanding visitor cards and built a statue that awarded me a residual victory point at the end of every turn. Debbie fought heartily, pulling ahead at one point in the game, but Papa gave me an extra worker which gave me an extra action early on and I built a Tasting Room to sound the deathknell since I could obtain an additional VP each turn. I used a summer visitor to gain three victory points by discarding four cards and obtained one more point by selling a red wine. The result was 27 for me and 20 for Debbie finish this portion of the The Passionate Knight's 10 X 10 Hardcore Challenge which is part of the 2017 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each.
 
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11. Board Game: London Dread [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:2625]
Board Game: London Dread
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it!
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