Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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Below you will find the list of games I intend to play for the basic challenge in The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition. All of these games are in my collection and, with the exception of Quadropolis, I have not played any of them. My son and I have played the classic variant of Quadropolis as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament , but we've yet to play the expert variant which we will as part of the fulfillment of this challenge


#: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis
A: Alien Frontiers: Big Box
B: Black Orchestra
C: Covert
D: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
E: Elysium
F: Flash Point: Fire Rescue
G: Great Western Trail
H: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
I: Inis
J: Junk Art
K: Karuba
L: Last Friday
M: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
N: New York 1901
O: Orléans: Deluxe Edition
P: Pandemic: Iberia
Q: Quadropolis
R: Room 25
S: Shakespeare
T: Terraforming Mars
U: Ultimate Warriorz
V: The Voyages of Marco Polo
W: World's Fair 1893
X: Xiangqi
Y: YINSH
Z: Zombicide: Black Plague
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1. Board Game: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:592]
Board Game: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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September 7, 2017: After playing 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 twice as a prelude to other card driven games, Matt and I played 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis as part of Another Family Board Game Marathon in New Hampshire and to satisfy the # portion of my Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge which is part of the site wide The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition. Matt played the United States and I played Russia in this intriguing game that keeps the pressure on by escalating three different DEFCON tracks (political, world opinion and military) each of the three turns of play. The DEFCONs each have three levels. If all three of a player's markers are in the DEFCON 2 range a nuclear is triggered. Likewise if any one marker lies within the DEFCON 1 area you have nuclear war. Accordingly, managing the DEFCON tracks are as critical as the tug of war for prestige points that takes place throughout the game by fulfilling agendas such as dominating certain domains on the board. As with the other card driven games. Matt found the historical aspect of the game interesting but did not find the game play particularly compelling. I, however, found the game full of tension with both sides coming close to triggering nuclear war. I ended up victorious in a fairly close game. A 7.5 out of 10 from me.
 
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2. Board Game: Alien Frontiers: Big Box [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Alien Frontiers Big Box
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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April 7, 2017: Patrick and I undertook learning to play Alien Frontiers: Big Box to satisfy the letter "A" in Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge, which is my contribution to The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition and also as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . The Alphabet Challenge has spurred our learning new games since the list contains nothing but unplayed games in my collection. Thus, we have a backlog of games that we have learned but have yet to complete for the Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . Our initial play through was a slaughter as Patrick quickly shut me out of various locations collecting all his extra ships and quickly placing all of his colonies while I only managed to place 3. A brutal beating of 13 to 3. I really hope I can come back and be more competitive as the tournament play begins.
 
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3. Board Game: Black Orchestra [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:461]
Board Game: Black Orchestra
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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4. Board Game: Covert [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1443]
Board Game: Covert
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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May 28, 2017: Patrick and I learned to play Covert as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament as well as satisfying the "C" in the The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition. This is an intriguing game with many parts. The goal of the game is to complete at least six missions by placing six rolled dice to different areas of the game board to collect equipment, agency cards and moving about a map to satisfy the requirements listed on each mission. In order to obtain equipment you have to unlock a combination on the equipment card. The bulk of the resources you will need to complete missions come from the versatile agency cards that allow a variety of uses from special abilities to flying to cities to supplying the materials necessary for a mission. This was a pretty enjoyable game that probably benefits from familiarity to understand how the different mechanics mesh with one another. For example, Patrick began to appreciate how to use dice not only to take certain actions but to prevent me from taking actions. Despite his increased knowledge I was able to defeat him soundly 85 to 65. I do, however, anticipate that Patrick will step up his effectiveness with repeated plays. Right now I rate this a 7.5 but suspect it may go higher after playing it a few more times.
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5. Board Game: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:182]
Board Game: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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January 28, 2017: I brought my fourteen year old son, Patrick, with me to New Hampshire to enjoy a gaming weekend with his three older brothers. While there we played Blood Rage, Cyclades: Titans, The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac, AssassinCon, For Sale, Escape Room: The Game, Sushi Go! and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, which we played three times since everyone, except me, really enjoyed it. It's not that the game is awful, it's a good game, (7 out of 10) but the evidence and revealed cards seemed to have tenuous connections at best. It shined because of the interactions between the players, but the game itself did not grab me.
 
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6. Board Game: Elysium [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:410]
Board Game: Elysium
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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February 4, 2017: After watching Rodney Smith's How to Play video, Patrick and I played through Elysium in anticipation of playing it for our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and as usual Patrick showed me how quickly he can master a game. Elysium has an interesting drafting mechanic where you draw a card from a display of cards on the table (called the "Agora") comprised of 2 times the number of players plus 1. The cards have various powers that you can activate when they are located in your "Domain" (a section of your playing area where the cards you obtain initially reside before you can transfer them to your Elysium where you get to score them at the end of the game). You can assemble some interesting combinations of cards but getting the right cards can be tricky. Patrick managed to get all of the level bonuses (You play with five families, each with a different card color, that contain cards numbered 1, 2 or 3 - there's a bonus you can receive for having the most of each of those numbers from each family in your Elysium). I only managed to get one family legend bonus (essentially a straight of 1,2 3 in the same color). This was a very enjoyable game and I look forward to future plays. Hopefully, I will grasp the concepts a little better in the next couple of plays.
 
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7. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:329]
Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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September 21, 2017: Today Patrick and I learned Flash Point: Fire Rescue to fulfill the "F" in Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge as well as working on our Playing All of My Cooperative Games geeklist. In our first game we focused on saving POIs instead of managing the fire. The result is that the building collapsed after a few turns and some ill rolled dice that set off explosion after explosion. In our second attempt we focused on reducing the number of fires throughout the house first and then sought to save POIs. This worked far better for us as only a few explosions occurred by the time we reached the last POI. This is a fun challenging game that I dare says is at least as good as Pandemic and perhaps more challenging than Pandemic when playing with only two players. Honestly, Pandemic is a breeze with only two players, while it appears that Flash Point: Fire Rescue presents a challenge at all player counts. An 8 out of 10 from me.
 
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8. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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July 8, 2017: Patrick and I learned to play Great Western Trail today to satisfy the "G" of The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition as well as preparing for our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . I must say that this game took a great deal of investment to learn - videos (I strongly recommend https://boardgamegeek.com/video/140531/great-western-trail/g...) and reading and re-reading rules - and we still had to check rules during our initial game play. Yet, the investment was well worth it. The initial problem was the vast number of different iconography to remember, which required nearly constant review of the rules at the beginning of the game. At one point we discovered the need to place an one of your employed characters when upgrading a station - a critical rule to remember because it severely impacts other gameplay. All of the iconography is included on the game board and its associated cardboard chits - an essential element to make the game playable, but which also initially causes players to look at each other and ask "What does that mean?" Once you've learned the system, however, the game flow improves markedly. By the end of the game both Patrick and I felt that this was an extraordinary deep deck building/tile laying game. He won our first play 92 to 66 by upgrading a number of stations beyond San Francisco that award significant VP. I highly recommend this game and give it a 9.5 out of 10.
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9. Board Game: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:282]
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Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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October 8 through 28, 2017: Whenever my wife enjoys a game I am thrilled. After our first play of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle she was entranced. Indeed, she insisted that my son and I not play the game without her. Consequently, we played the game 11 times this month enjoying the strategic challenges as the game grew in complexity and difficulty, The game was a natural for a family who has undertaken numerous deck building games including Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, Paperback and, of course, Dominion. The need to develop decks capable of defeating the villains which increase with each of seven scenarios played. In addition to the villains, who pose different obstacles such as causing damage or preventing multiple attacks on a villain, there are Dark Arts cards that also perpetrate similar events on the players with increasing severity as you progress through the scenarios. In later games you will have to defeat Voldemort and have to overcome Horcrux powers. As the game intensifies the need of a coherent plan of attack becomes essential. We played through the last two scenarios twice defeating it in the last play. We used an intriguing strategy for the final scenario after dominating the first play of it until Voldemort came into play turning the tables and defeating us. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
 
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10. Board Game: Inis [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:108]
Board Game: Inis
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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11. Board Game: Junk Art [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:401]
Board Game: Junk Art
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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July 15, 2017: I could tell that some in the group were skeptical when I brought out Junk Art. Some decried the instability of the table as we ventured to build the tallest structures of art during a three city tour through New York, Amsterdam and our home town. Despite the initial criticism and skepticism, I persuaded everyone to try it since I needed the game as my "J" in the Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge. Concerns aside, everyone appeared to thoroughly enjoy the game laughing as they built their rickety art, scolding others that touched the table too harshly threatening the demise of their artistry. The game revolves around obtaining fans in each city of an international tour. Matthew ran away with this one scoring 17 fans. Only Kieran came close with 15, while the rest of us did not obtain more than 8 fans. I had 5.
 
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12. Board Game: Karuba [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:459]
Board Game: Karuba
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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February 6, 2017: Patrick and I conducted another play through today. We learned to play Karuba as part of The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition as well as this Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . Again, Patrick won our initial play 26 to 19 getting the treasure from every temple, while I only obtained three. The game is interesting because you need to play one of 36 tiles chosen randomly. You either lay it on the map in order to create a path from the four explorers to their corresponding color temple or use it to move your explorer. You need to balance the number of tiles laid to create the paths with the ability to move the explorers to their destination. Though I successfully laid down functional paths I didn't have the movement points necessary to get each explorer to their temple. We'll see if I'm able to discover a more successful strategy in later plays.
 
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13. Board Game: Last Friday [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:3072]
Board Game: Last Friday
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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July 15, 2017: There are several games I have patiently waited to play waiting for the right number of players to maximize the game's enjoyment. Last Friday is on the top of the list sitting on the shelf since December 2016. I placed it on the Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge to assure that the year would not end without playing the game. It is a hidden movement game with a few twists. The game goes through four phases or "chapters," each with a different goal. The premise is that 6 campers come to Camp Apache for a free vacation as an award for helping fix up the camp. The camp, however, has an ominous history that includes the drowning of a suspected murderer whose body was never found. In chapter 1, when the campers arrive they participate in a treasure hunt for hidden keys that will allow them to enter into one of six cabins situated around the camp site. During this treasure hunt, they are likely to come across the corpses of the two owners of the camp which serves to emphasize that a murderer is lurking about. The campers need to find a key and enter cabin to survive the chapter, while the maniac weeks to eliminate as many campers as he can before the escape into the safety of their cabins. At the end of 15 rounds, dawn arrives commencing the second chapter. The embolden campers now become the hunters and the Maniac the hunted. The purpose of this chapter is to find out who is the Predestined one - the individual who captures the Maniac. Of course, it possible that no one will capture the Maniac making the camper closest to the Maniac the Predestined. Then in Chapter Three the Maniac hunts the campers again seeking to kill the Predestined to win the game, if the Predestined survives chapter three, then the campers help the predestined find and kill the Maniac in chapter four. The back and forth of the hunter/hunted roles makes for a tense game for everyone. The tension felt as the campers hunted me down was extraordinary and the jubilation they felt when they killed me in the final move of the final round of the final chapter is precisely the exhilarating gaming experience we all wish to enjoy. I know some have expressed problems with this game, and I can see a weak set of campers unable to triangulate the Maniac's position feeling frustrated and disheartened. Indeed, half way through the final chapter the distance between the Predestined and the Maniac appeared insurmountable, but Matt - the Predestined, as it turns out - encouraged the other players to continue on to an almost inconceivable victory. I find this to be a solid hidden movement game worthy of it's place among Specter Ops, Fury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition), Letters from Whitechapel and the silly, but still fun, Nuns on the Run.
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14. Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:32]
Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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15. Board Game: New York 1901 [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:952]
Board Game: New York 1901
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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April 1, 2017: Today Patrick and I learned to play New York 1901 with the Flat Iron Expansion for our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament as well as knocking off the "N" in the Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge which is my contribution to The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition. The game was quite exciting considering the tile laying mechanism. The street bonuses made for some tense play as we sought to cut each other off from accumulating buildings on certain roads. It was pretty cut throat. The game bonus card was for the Master Architect (building non-square or rectangular shaped buildings). I gained the largest bonus there, but Patrick began a campaign of demolishing and replacing buildings to accumulate more points while accelerating the end game trigger event of having four buildings. In the end the tally resulted in a 77 to 77 tie. The tie breaker goes to the individual who built the tallest legendary building. Patrick built the Woolworth Building which rises 792 ft., while I built the Flat Iron Building which only rises to 285 ft. Nonetheless, a very good game with a surprising cut throat edge to it. An 8 out 10 from me.
 
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16. Board Game: Orléans: Deluxe Edition [Average Rating:8.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.38 Unranked]
Board Game: Orléans
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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My son, Patrick, and I have not played a new game together in quite some time. Between year end exams and baseball he hasn't had the time to play with his old man. We were sure to set today aside to play something new since he's going away to camp on Sunday. We played Orléans: Deluxe Edition as part of the The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition satisfying the "O" on my list of games. Of course we will also add it to our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament , in which Patrick recently took the lead 23-22 defeating me in Blood Rage and New York 1901. Hopefully, this game will help me regain the lead. Of course we both just learned the game, but I came out strong building Guilds and collecting citizens while steadily moving up the Development Track. About midway through the game, however, Patrick started accumulating obscene amounts of wealth end the game with 76 gold coins and catching up and passing me on the development track which at one time I lead by 8 points. In the end I scored 124 points mostly from the (citizen + guilds) x Development Track bonus and collecting 7 brocade from one of the add on building obtained early in the game. In addition to the 76 gold Patrick added an additional 30 from citizens x Development Track - much closer than I thought it would be, and perhaps an ominous sign for our future plays. One of the issues I discovered was that I lacked a sufficient number of farmers and boatmen to perform some of the tasks that would improve my score. Anyway, this was a fun game. Quite enjoyable.
 
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17. Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:93]
Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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18. Board Game: Quadropolis [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:333]
Board Game: Quadropolis
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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January 13, 2017: My fourteen year old son, Patrick, and I played the expert variant of Quadropolis for the first time today. We've played the classic variant as part of the Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and my son owned me. The expert variant did not alter things at all. In fact, Patrick dominated beating me 80 to 54. What a shellacking! Fortunately, this was only one of several games we played today as part of a gaming day at home. I was much more fortunate in the other games.
 
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19. Board Game: Room 25 [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1040]
Board Game: Room 25
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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April 17, 2017: Room 25 is an intriguing game where you are a prisoner seeking to escape a complex of rooms by finding Room 25 and moving it out of the complex. Among the rooms you will find obstacles that range from cold to flooding to instant death. The most interesting aspect of the game is the number of ways you can play it. You can play it competitively, cooperatively, and in what is called "Suspicion Mode" that involves a couple of players acting as guards seeking to undermine the other players hoping to prevent their escape. Since the game has cooperative and competitive modes Patrick and I learned the game as part of Playing All of My Cooperative Games as well as our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament and of course to fulfill the R in the Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge. Today we played competitive mode but neither of us won. In order to enjoy victory you need to escape the complex within 10 turns with both members of your team. Although I found Room 25 with two turns left I could not manage to get my pair together to leave the complex. Thus, the game won this one.
 
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20. Board Game: Shakespeare [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:493]
Board Game: Shakespeare
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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June 19, 2017: In addition to playing Blood Rage, Arcadia Quest and Codename Pictures over the Father's Day Weekend with my sons in New Hampshire, I introduced them to Shakespeare the Boardgame. I was surprised that they enjoyed it so much. Indeed, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would having studied Shakespeare as part of my Master's Degree in English, thus expecting the teme to be flimsy at best. Yet, the recruitment of actors, stagehands, set and costume pieces proved far more compelling than it should. You felt the stress of producing a good play within 6 days and accumulating enough money to pay everyone. It quickly became one of my favorite games.
 
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21. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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September 10, 2017: Terraforming Mars is a game I have anxiously been waiting to get to the table since the fall of last year. I watched numerous "how to play" videos in an attempt to wrap my mind around the rules. It really is a game you need to play to learn. Once I played it I understood it and could teach it to others. Playing with my sons allowed me to satisfy the "T" in my Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge as well as teach it to my son Patrick to play it as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . The game is all about the cards. You start off with a corporation and purchase cards each generation to help you terraform mars. There are a variety of tacks to follow. I focused on developing plants. My son Kieran developed heat production. When I taught Patrick he focused on producing Mega Credits and nearly won the game by using the standard actions to purchase cities and oceans while funding a few awards he was guaranteed to win (I beat him 111 to 101). The game contains extraordinary depth and though it has a few "got you" cards they are not particularly vicious or debilitating. This is by far the best game of the month for me at a 9.5 out of 10. By the way, I won scoring scoring 60. Matt received 57, Joel 53 and Kieran only managed 50.
 
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22. Board Game: Ultimate Warriorz [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2263]
Board Game: Ultimate Warriorz
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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February 18, 2017: Patrick and I engaged in an epic struggle today In our initial play through (which we do to learn the game before we count the games toward our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament ) we used two characters each. I had Bonzai and Sorgho seeking to focus on defense and attacks toward the end game - e.g., Bonzai has a card that allows him to roll one die for each damage he has. Patrick used Zamioculcas and Agaric taking the two characters at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Although Agaric has few hit points his defense is quite high at times requiring 6s to hit him. Today the dice absolutely hated me. I would just need 3s to strike Zamioculcas but would roll 1s and 2s. Patrick received nothing but love from the dice rolling 5s and 6s consistently. The result was that he knocked out both of my warriors by the 5th round. Likewise, when we expanded our teams to three characters each (Patrick added Burdock and I Boboa), the same result occurred - all of my characters were knocked out by the fifth round. Interestingly, Agaric knocked out each of my three characters. We will boost the teams to four characters each for our next play.
 
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23. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:47]
Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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24. Board Game: World's Fair 1893 [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:791]
Board Game: World's Fair 1893
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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January 26, 2017: Similar to other games on this list, not only am I playing this game to satisfy the "W" in The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition, but am also playing it as part of Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . This was a very enjoyable game with some interesting mechanics including a car on a ferris wheel that serves as a round timer, area control and set collection. During a round you place "supporters" (cubes) in one of five different areas (agriculture, fine arts, electricity, manufacturing or transportation) collecting cards and trying to have the largest number of supporters in a given area. If you win an area at the end of the round you receive a blue ribbon (value of 2 or 4) and can get a certain number of proposals (cards) approved, which means you would get a token for each approved card. At the end of the game you layout each set of approved proposals for the five different areas receiving points per set (1 for one up to 15 for five). You also add in your blue ribbons and coins (received for admissions) to calculate your total and which player won the game. Despite it's simplicity it is enjoyable and offers interesting choices (e.g., do you block an opponent or focus on winning an area to get proposals approved). A solid game. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
 
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25. Board Game: Xiangqi [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1322]
Board Game: Xiangqi
Jason Vicente

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Connecticut
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