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JW van der Meulen
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2017 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each (normal)
E My logged plays for 2017.

Ten of these games, list may change during 2017.

Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
Great Western Trail
Hostage Negotiator
Pandemic
Patchwork

Qwirkle
Race for the Galaxy
Rhino Hero
Space Hulk: Death Angel
Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game

+
Pocket Landship


2017 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each (hardcore)
Starting 4 July.
E My logged plays for this period.

Ten of these games, no changes allowed.

Elder Sign
Forbidden Island
Friday
Glass Road
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Onirim
Pandemic Iberia
Mechs vs. Minions
At the Gates of Loyang
Eldritch Horror

+
Arkham Horror: The Card Game


2017 Extreme Numerology Challenge (gold)
E My logged plays for 2017.

Twenty of these games, list may change during 2017.

(40) Elder Sign
(34) Friday
(34) Onirim
(33) Legendary Encounters: Alien
(33) Pocket Landship

(31) Forbidden Island
(30) Glass Road
(25) Pandemic Iberia
(23) At the Gates of Loyang
(20) Great Western Trail

(20) Pandemic
(19) Mechs vs. Minions
(18) Arkham Horror: The Card Game
(18) Patchwork
(18) Rhino Hero

(17) Eldritch Horror
(17) Qwirkle
(17) Race for the Galaxy
(17) Space Hulk: Death Angel
(17) Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game
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1. Board Game: Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game: Exotic Predators [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
JW van der Meulen
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Almere
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So you wanna be a deck-builder

Somewhere before summer. Let's say I had come into possession of a decent amount of money of rather dubious origin* and it was burning in my pocket. In that case Ebay is your friend. I had read about this cool solo deck-builder and decided to not care about the price for once and throw some free money at it.

Of course it arrived while I was on vacation, but my mother managed to intercept it before it was returned to sender.

Counting

I remembered from Legendary Encounters: Alien that you should always sort and count the cards first (Newt was missing from that one). Luckily there's always a friendly soul on BGG who makes a list.



Right. So this time I was missing the Utahraptor set and some other cards (I had another pack twice). Inside a sealed box. I contacted the designer of the game and he sent me the missing cards immediately. thumbsup

Sleeving

Some weeks later. Next up is sleeving. If you want to be like the pros you just can't handle the cards unprotected. But, well, 1000 cards...



Four hours later. The good news is: even when you sleeve all cards, they still fit in the box. The bad news is, somebody had to buy all expansions. shake



But that total looked like an amount of cards that would fit into the box of Legendary Encounters: Alien - Expansion. Problem solved. Saving the Apex box for another game. Someday the shelves will get very confusing.



Studying

Later that week. Part of playing a board game is getting immersed in the theme. Reading about history, watching movies, visiting museums. I decided to study my daughter's specialist literature on theropods. She's our in-house expert.



Learning

Another week. Before you can start playing you have to learn the rules. But which rules? I found an updated version of the edition that I had, two FAQ's and a rulebook for the second edition. Lots of discussion on the BGG forums. Spent two hours over there.

Decided not to care and just start playing.



Except that it was time for bed again.

*) Well, I had asked our management to pay me and a co-worker for overtime that had been going on for like six months and to my big surprise they did.
 
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2. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:19]
JW van der Meulen
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Well, that was quick.

Took me half an hour to set up the game, checking some rules and spending victory points (I'm on the Dunwich Legacy campaign). Jenny and Zoey got on the Essex County Express today and in ten minutes something very unexpected happened and they were defeated.

I was so stunned that I forgot to take pictures.


November

Four months ago I kind of crashed with this game on the Essex County Express. Dit not have fun with that scenario and decided to quit my campaign.

But well, some time passed and I really enjoyed the story, and it's a pity to have unplayed mythos packs. So this month I started over with The Dunwich Legacy. This time I used some suggested starter decks, let's hope that will work out better. The first scenario had us looking for a missing professor.


It kind of worked out, but [story choice in spoiler tags]

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Decided not to get distracted by the trouble the students might be in. Heard terrible screams as we left campus.



thumbsup Story immersion
thumbsup Always good to be back in the Fantasy Flight Games lovecraftian world, it's like visiting old friends
thumbsup Difficulty can be adjusted with the chaos bag (yes, I play on easy mode)

<rating>4.0</rating>


Pretty soon Zoey and Rex decided to take the Essex County Express. Don't! I screamed, but they ignored me. gulp

Ugh. I don't want to talk about it. So, hey, have you seen my custom made deluxe storage solution? Fits base game, two standalone adventures, The Dunwich Legacy plus all its mythos packs, and there's even room left for all this shiny new content that I'm so not going to buy because money pit. (be strong)

If you look real close you may notice that the lid is slightly lifted, but I hardly see that anymore.
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3. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:238]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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14 July

So this was my all time favourite game until I joined bgg and my boardgaming world opened up and every month there was something new and interesting to check out and I ended up with like twenty favourite games. But it still gets out on the table regularly, because the solo variant is really good and because I'm on a personal quest of scoring 19 points.

Not that I've ever been even close. I don't think I ever scored 18 points. Today was one of my better sessions, scoring 17. Which I'm going to celebrate right now - a nice start of the weekend.



8 September

You're a farmer, growing vegetables and selling them on a market. If necessary you can use the profits to buy vegetables or land, hire help or lure customers. Any surplus money can be spent to increase your welfare, on a scoring track that runs from 1 to 20, where 17 is a "good score". So basically every lower score counts as a loss, because why would you want to end the game as a poor peasant?

Personally I'm going for 18 points and living well. Never happened.

Had three tries this month, lost them all:
* 16 (+ 15 yuan, would have needed 17 to get to the next level of welfare)
* 15 (+ 6 yuan)
* 13 (+ 5 yuan)

Things were spiraling down so fast I decided to stop torturing the poor farmer. It was clear he was not made for this profession. Time to send him jobhunting. I'll try again next month.



thumbsup love the solo set up, where you can see which cards are coming and try to figure out a good strategy
thumbsup love to try and handle the randomness, am still not very comfortable with for example Fields of Arle (by the same author) where you can basically try to plan all moves in a 60 minutes game before you even start
thumbsup 45 minutes of fun
 
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4. Board Game: Coffee Roaster [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:1699]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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Spent the last few days learning how to roast coffee beans. In this game you can either roast a single kind of bean (trial menu) or make a test involving three different kind of beans (full menu). I had kind of hoped that it would be a nice ten minutes filler, but (1) I'm too slow a player and (2) I'm having too much fun playing the full three-beans campaigns. So including set up (times three), it's closer to an hour per game for me.

Every turn you draw some tokens from a bag. You then try to upgrade (roast) the beans to a certain level, or use some of the tokens for special actions. These actions can have an immediate effect or be used during the end count.

Well, "count"... The game ends with the cup test. They actually make you drink the stuff you produced. gulp Scoring runs from "they would not even put this in the machine at the office" to "you're in coffee heaven".

After six trial menus and four full menus my coffee finally tastes like it does at home.



But you've never been at my home. You'll live, but I'm not quitting my day job just yet.
 
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5. Board Game: Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
JW van der Meulen
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6 - 10 July

Earlier this year I played the Elder Sign: Campaign Challenge by Maximiliano Sanchez de Bustamante (flashshadow69) and had a lot of fun. Playing it over and over made me appreceate Elder Sign a lot more. We had to defeat 8 Ancient Ones with a fixed set of investigators. As I had included some expansions, this meant that there were still some slumbering Ancient Ones left in the box after the campaign had come to an end. Time to confront them.

Included in those sessions:
* Elder Sign: the base game
* Elder Sign: Unseen Forces: adds blessed/cursed cards, extra investigators and items (plus adventure cards for the base game, which I did not use because of Gates of Arkham)
* Elder Sign: Grave Consequences: adds phobia cards, epitaphs/gravestones and epic battles
* Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham: replacement cards for the entrance, the adventure deck and the mythos deck. Gameplay is changed with facedown adventures and gates to other worlds that block regular adventures. This expansion made the game more interesting to me.

Glaaki, Yog-Sothoth (GoA-version), Ithaqua and Yibb-Tstll were sealed away so fast, that I started to worry that this game had become too easy. I was not having much fun, as the whole sense of doom was missing. But then came Hastur.

Now with Hastur you add a doom token to the doom track every time you succesfully resolve an other world adventure. And with Gates of Arkham you cannot ignore other worlds for too long. So here was a challenge. Because once the doom track is filled, the Ancient One awakens for an epic battle that you're bound to lose.

After a few games Hastur was still going strong, and the graveyard filled up rapidly.



Amanda Sharpe and Gloria Goldberg went on a truly epic and exiting series of adventures, collecting their last Elder Sign at the same time as placing the final doom token. So that was a very close and satisfying win.



After which they took on Cthulhu and got devoured.

 
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6. Board Game: Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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26 August

And it's time for joining the second Elder Sign: Campaign Challenge of 2017 by Maximiliano Sanchez de Bustamante (flashshadow69) . The campaign is a fun way of getting to know an expansion. The first time I played a lot of Gates of Arkham, this time it will be Omens of the Deep. This expansion is based on an expansion to the app version of Elder Sign

New (to me) is the staged play, one relatively smooth voyage aboard a ship where you can take your time collecting some useful stuff (without advancing much in the game). The second part is way harder, but then you can start collecting Elder Signs and try to seal away the Ancient One.

First up were Roland Banks and Minh Thi Phan against Dagon. It took some time getting used to the new gameplay and I miss the gates (of GoA). Also, no Other Worlds got into play. But by playing the campaign I'll encounter all adventure cards eventually, perhaps I was just a bit unlucky.

The investigators managed a win though, so they'll be back next time. And I'll have a lot of time making up my mine about this expansion - no thumbs up or down after just one play.



6 September

This month's sessions for Elder Sign: Campaign Challenge were nail-biters.

Had to confront Ithaqua twice, lost four investigators along the way. The stages in Omens of the Deep put some extra pressure on, and I was convinced these plays were finished a lot quicker than those with for example Unseen Forces or Gates of Arkham. But I had timed them and they take just as long. So it's just my stress level that's different, or the fact that this expansion is still new to me.



thumbsupthumbsdown Still not my favourite expansion. <rating>3.0</rating>
Think it works best with the included Ancient Ones though, and I still have to play two of them.

30 October

I'm playing Elder Sign: Campaign Challenge to get familiar with Omens of the Deep. This month Zoey Samaras and Lola Hayes first had to face Glaaki. They stumbled through the adventures until the Ancient One woke up, but they were prepared and managed to win by sacrificing their allies.



Next up was Hydra, one of the Ancient Ones that came with the expansion. I must say I enjoyed this play a lot more, as it was more thematic (with Deep Ones surfacing all the time). This was my fifth game and the first time that more than one Other World came into play. For which I was glad as I managed to collect enough Elder Signs to seal away the Ancient One.



thumbsup fun game when played with the included Ancient Ones
thumbsup Elder Sign is my most played game this year (not even counting plays on the app), so yes, I like it

thumbsdown too bad the expansions are kind of stand-alone versions where you swap out the mythos and adventure decks. I prefer to pile everything up and dive in.
thumbsdown and with this expansion I think using one of the other Ancient Ones does not work that well either (but I'll play some more to make sure)
 
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7. Board Game: Eldritch Horror [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:46]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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19 July

Last month I bought Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa but the cards for the Ancient One and the investigators were missing. Today I got them in the mail, so I could spend an evening with Hastur. Of course I wanted to try all new investigators, so I started with Michael McGlen, Wendy Adams, Jenny Barnes and Dexter Drake.


We only needed to solve two mysteries, but it was tough. For the second one we needed to collect eight clues. So when some investigators were defeated I called in the help of Jacqueline Fine and Trish Scarborough (one can gain a clue of she doesn't have any, the other can trade clues with an investigator on any space).

Then, when we were ready to solve the second mystery (with just two left on the doom track), the mythos card brought on a plague of vampires. Every investigator had to impair all five skills, or spend a health or sanity (per skill). Somehow everyone managed to survive this. Very lucky.



Now I am very curious to find out what's in the extra decks that did not come into play (King in Yellow, Cities on the Lake, Unspeakable One). Think I will meet Hastur again real soon.

thumbsup impairment tokens, that lower investigator skills (or negate improvement tokens)
thumbsup interesting new conditions (like promise of power) and additions to all other decks - add even more variety to the game
thumbsup enjoyed all 2.5 hours of it
thumbsup I won
 
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8. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:55]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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Was rather intimidated by the rulebook, but took it with me on vacation so I would have no choice but to play it. Today was the testrun, figuring out the actions and making some mistakes along the way.



28 July

My third game today and I have no idea what I am doing. At the Gates of Loyang is probably my favourite game, Glass Road is so much fun, but this one does not click with me yet.

I'll try to find out what it is I don't like and report back next month. Perhaps this is one I should not play solo, but perhaps I should just play it some more. Sometimes it takes me over ten plays to start to enjoy something.

 
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9. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:584]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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I thought I'd try to win a game on the legendary difficulty level. Bought this game for my daughter, but she prefers to play Pandemic Iberia with me so it's going to collect dust on her shelf.

On legendary difficulty the game will end before you cycle through the treasure deck a second time. I guess it will be easier to take a full party of four roles then, because of the hand limit of five cards. Playing on this level also means the island will sink real quick (will be drawing 4 or 5 flood cards real soon). Basically, I'm going to need a lot of luck. We'll see.

5 July
Two sessions with Engineer / Messenger / Explorer / Pilot. Lost them both, and both were very close. The next "player" would finish and win the game and then I'd just draw that one card that lost me the game.

7 July
Yes, it's a pattern. Had collected all treasures, had a helicopter lift ready. Next turn would be the Engineer (red) joining the rest of the team at Fool's Landing, so what could stop us?


Edit: This may have been a win. The first card I drew from the treasure deck, was a second helicopter lift. I think I could have played both helicopter lifts at that time and win the game before drawing the waters rise as my second card...

Oh well. I'll get me some coffee, and then it's back to the island.

(...)

Played two more games and just had another very narrow escape. Going to stop now, no need to push my luck any further.



thumbsup artwork
thumbsup tension
thumbsup legendary difficulty mode is challenging
thumbsup quick to set up, then some 20 minutes play time (nice to have a few games like that)
thumbsupthumbsdown from very unlucky draws to narrow escapes, you need to be able to cope with the luck factor
 
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10. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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4 July

As I just entered the 2017 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each in hardcore mode for the second half of this year, I decided that I had to start playing Friday on difficulty level 4. I'm a serious gamer now cool

And yes, it's harder. It took me three games to make it all the way to the pirates (and beat them, I'm happy to say). So now it's up to get that win-percentage up from 33% and score some more points.

20 July

Won my fourth game as well today, scoring 77 points. Which was above average for me when I still played at difficulty level three, so, yay!



thumbsdown It took me over thirty plays before I started to enjoy this game
thumbsup but it's a short game, so it's easy to find some time to practice
thumbsup and now I know what I'm doing I can play at the hardest difficulty level
thumbsup and have some fun when I don't have the time to play a longer game
 
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11. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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While away, I tried another app last week. How I struggled with this one! The app for Friday has a portrait interface on the tablet - and it turns out I've got a landscape mind.

I keep tapping in the wrong spots and of course there's no "undo" button. To compensate, you do get an "OK" button every three seconds that you have to tap to continue.shake

Still, it's an excellent digital implementation for other people.

What I did like:
* automated counting during the pirate fight
* the achievements (like beat every pirate at least once) are a nice addition to the game
* the app version adds a fifth level! It's like turning the volume knob to eleven


Fortunately the original card game comes in a small box and soon we were reunited. So it's back to counting out loud:

3+1+2+1+1+1+1+4+4+2+2+2+3+2+1+3+2 plus one point for every card, that's 1,2,3...18, which adds up to, where was I...
 
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12. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:210]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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3 July

I find the solo version very enjoyable. Was able to score 29 pts, which is great. Though I'm sure my strategy was not optimal as I never take too long to think. So I always end up just one or two resources short of buying that extra building.

21 July

Two plays tonight, scoring 22 and 23.5 points. About average for me. Could have done better in the second game, as I misunderstood the meaning (scoring) of a building. I really should pay more attention to what I'm doing. shake


4 & 16 September

When I was young (last June) I managed a score of 32. But as I grow older I start to wonder if that was maybe just a dream. Oh, it probably was that one game in which I used the Oktoberfest tile that I threw out afterwards. But still. Looking at the stats I see some scores of 28 and 29 in the past and I never seem to come close anymore. Six plays this month, the three best all ending in 24 points. But hey who cares about the score. I had a lot of fun.


There are three kind of buildings in this game:
* ones that you can use every turn for some kind of production engine
* ones that give you a one time production bonus during play
* ones that give you extra victory points at the end
Set up of available buildings is completely random. So it's better played as "lets see how we can make the most of this" than as "lets try to beat my previous score". Set out your own goals ("I'm going for this combination of buildings") per session for winning or losing. And enjoy the ride.

Nah, I'm trying once more for 30 pts

thumbsup Very good variant for solo play included
thumbsup Lots of replayability because of the randomized set up
thumbsup The production wheels are genius

Randomized rating: <rating>4.25</rating> hey! it's a high score, well done

22 October

17

This summer I noticed I had accidentily played ten games ten times. With more than a little bit of mathematical naivety I decided to join the 2017 Extreme Numerology Challenge and go for 20 (games) x 17 (plays) in 2017. shake Found out real soon that it's no fun playing a game just to add an extra play to your score. So I'll just see how far I'll get playing whatever I feel like.

My two rounds of Glass Road this week were not much to write about. My scores are actually getting lower by the month and I didn't achieve any cool combinations. I did however log my 17th play thumbsup and that's just because I enjoy it so much. It's one of those games that when I look at the shelf I almost always think "yes, I could play that one".

Saw some posts about the storage problems with the components. That bothered me as well, when I'd bought it. I am still trying to figure out a small insert for the tiles, but until then I just have everything bagged. Cards, starting tiles and resources per person, and the different type of buildings in seperate bags.

Solution 1: easy fit
Throw away anything 2-4 persons related.


Solution 2: good enough fit
But it's also fun multiplayer. Just fits, with the tiles next to the boards.
 
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13. Board Game: Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:1691] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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15 July

Unfortunately I bought a misprint of this great fantasy game. My box says "45 minutes per player". Must be about some other game. After six plays I managed to bring down solo playing time from three hours to 1,5 hours but that's about the best I can do.


But then that's how long I want this game to be as well. I love spending some time in Kilforth, unfolding my personal saga, admiring the artwork, reading the flavour text while slowly getting experienced enough to battle the Ancient.

Today I played as an orc war mage, who had heard some tales about a dragon's hoard. I had a lot of fun with this spellcasting warrior. I like the "character creation phase" of the game (uhm, yes that's just the first five minutes, but hey you can enjoy them), where you combine a race with a class and then figure out how you want to play. So for example I decided to never use charisma or sneak today. I was on my way to kill me a dragon and get me some riches and too bad if you were in my way.

Of course I couldn't help but notice that the world around me slowly fell to gloom. So after a heroic battle in the dragon's lair I decided to go find the source of all these demons that had gotten in my way. Turned out to be some "Marquis of Pain". Well, where I come from we don't care too much about fancy names. And don't you think you can teach an orc anything about pain.

It was a good fight and I really need to take a break now after having been on the move for sixteen days straight. But the world's a safer place and I think someone's going to pay me 10 gold for having killed this marquis. They better.



7 August

My dark elf ranger went on a quest for the Casket of Souls. She took her sweet time wandering around, hardly noticing the whole country was falling into gloom. Just going on side-quest after side-quest, getting absurdly rich, not hearing my pleas that there are more important things in life than making money.

When she finally noticed the Deacon of Betrayal it came to a horrible fight. She defeated the Ancient enemy but lost her life. I gave her gold to charity. Perhaps they can rebuild the land.

3 
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14. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:9.00 Overall Rank:1]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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My daughter and I have been gluing, sorting and sleeving all day, yesterday.

It was fun admiring everything in the box. But come on, 9.9 kg, 5,000 components, and no dice?!? I don't know.


Then I spent the evening reading the rulebook and setting up the first scenario.

Played it today, but forgot to take pictures. Too busy playing, thinking and looking up rules. Managed to get two of my three characters exhausted (knocked out and removed from gameplay) while on easy mode. The third character could just finish the scenario with its last two cards. No actions left for looting. Perhaps I should consider this practice and just try the same scenario again. Because I really, really, really like loot. My characters, that is, they're only in it for the money.

Though I'm also curious what awaits me in the catacombs below. Them. What awaits them. Yeah, let's send them in.
 
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15. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.28 Overall Rank:9]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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8 July
First play with my wife (I had played it before). We both enjoyed it, so it will hopefully be back on the table soon.

26 August
After eight plays my wife M. and I were comfortable enough with the game to use variable set up for the settlements on the board, and for the personal set of buildings (A/B side). This really made the game more interesting as our sessions were turning rather samey.

GWT is turning into one of M.'s favourite games. Even though she made it all the way to the end of the railroad track today greentrain, scoring a lot of points along the way, I managed to win thumbsup
 
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16. Board Game: Hostage Negotiator [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:790] [Average Rating:7.13 Unranked]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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Bad management decisions combined with budget cuts: they sent in a rookie to the last few hostage situations over here, just armed with some conversation cards and a couple of dice. I think you can guess how that worked out.



I really like the gameplay of this one, but after getting a class of students killed twice tonight, I'm packing it away for some time. Sometimes I just get too emotionally involved.

15 October

Managed to end the hostage situation at the school today. Almost half of the students were killed though and I had to take out Donna to get the last few out.

26 October

Talk about immersion. My last night in hospital, and Edward Quinn walks in, holding the whole floor hostage to try and get medical attention for this son.

I'll handle this, I call out. Feeling very confident after having succesfully resolved similar situations involving government officials and students earlier this month. But when I started talking to Edward I just made things worse.



He lost his patience, I lost the patients. They won't remember me very fondly around here.
 
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17. Board Game: Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:1870]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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We've been in the lab for days now, trying to construct antibodies to molecules of a constantly mutating virus. I've run a computer simulation (played a test game learning the rules) that did not bode well: after ten days the disease destroyed all humanity in hellish pain.

This is a game that tells a story, in the rulebook and on the status report cards (the "event deck"). It's not just a puzzle and a race against time, you get to know the lab personnel, while some news from the outside world seeps through. Every turn you've got some money to spend on harvesting proteins from the icubator to create antibodies or hire personnel or invest in lab equipment. A turn might go like this:

The virus mutates once again, we have to find the antibody to yet another molecule. The Homogonizer Mk. III that we bought yesterday has been really useful today, it sure speeds up our research. Decided to spend some money to buy Marvin the Rat. Smartest lab rat in NY.

The Departement of Plague Control in Atlanta is overrun by a mob wanting a cure. Dr. Adam Schlinker (our intern who turns out to have a knack for crisis management since he started working with dr. Amanda Brown) had friends in the Atlanta DPC and is too grief stricken to work.

Also, with that DPC down, the death toll rises and the epidemic turned into a pandemic. Which has dire consequences for our funding.


Still, I managed to create the anti-viral coctail just in time.



But the costs were high. Marvin, to whom the whole team had become very attached, sacrificed himself in the end. Here's a picture to remember him by:



<rating>4.0</rating>

21 October

Playing this game is like going to the theatre. It tells a story in a small setting (a lab) and lets you focus on the struggles of a handful of people. You get to join them for a little while and be part of their lives.

But every turn there are glimpses of what's happening outside. And as the death toll rises, you start to realize something terrible. That eventually in this game the stage is the whole world, and all the players are going to die. Because you failed them.

Had my first two plays on the viral side of the board today. It's so cruel. You think you're going to make it and then the virus mutates again. A whole new strain pops up and you're running out of time. surprise
 
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18. Board Game: Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:88] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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Using the solo rules and "Hard Mode" from Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game Expansion

I always play this game two handed, but this time I'm going to do all the scenarios with just one hand. And I'll be using the hard mode locations and objectives because they have not seen much use yet.

4+5 July

Scenario 1: The Nostromo
Warrant Officer Ripley / Captain Dallas / Engineer Brett / Navigator Lambert
Session 1: Synthetic
Session 2: Commander
Session 3: Medic
Session 4: Mercenary
lost
lost
lost
won
Next up: Hadley's Hope.


Ash and The Perfect Organism hit the Commander very hard. He bled out in one round.


Success on my fourth try: the Mercenary did his job.

4 August

Tried Maloma's August Solo Challenge today: 3rd movie with Priest and Technician. Came close to dying so many times, but was saved over and over by applying emergency surgery. Phew.

Though I did draw a lot of strikes that could not be healed... kept me on my toes.

win/lose
health Priest
health Technician
deck Priest
deck Technician
enemies
50
60
20
67
69
81
347


12 August
A few days ago I started Maloma's August Solo Challenge and I really should have another go at a better score. But I'm also on a quest of my own. So today I was back to playing another scenario one handed, using the solo rules and "Hard Mode" from Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game Expansion.

This month: Scenario 2: Hadley's Hope
Lieutenant Ripley / Bishop / Lieutenant Gorman / Private Drake
Session 1: Executive
Session 2: Researcher
lost
won
The first session was over in 40 minutes. Drew some nasty strikes like "Bleeding out" (which leads to more damage on objective 2 and 3), "Somebody help" (which gives 4 damage unless another player helps, well this was solo so nobody to answer my call). Then the Queen entered, giving two strikes on top (strictly one for the next player, but hey, guess who's next when you're playing one handed) and my Executive was finished.

The second session went miraculously well. Could keep the Queen in the complex until I was ready to fight her, by using one of the sentry guns over and over for fighting other aliens.



thumbsup Hard mode is a lot of fun, if you like your events and hazards to feel real threatening
thumbsup I was afraid I'd really miss the "coordinate" action playing one handed, but the solo rule is fine (you can choose to discard one "coordinate" card and draw a replacement card)

6 September

When you include Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game Expansion there are six scenarios, and each of them also has a "hard mode". I'm playing one of them every month and last week it was time for Alien3.

Hard mode adds insult to injury when you draw an event or hazard card.


Luckily I had just had a lot of practice playing Alien3 eleven times in Maloma's August Solo Challenge. There you had to try to survive normal mode with the Priest and Technician characters. I'm playing these hard mode scenarios one handed with the solo rules of the expansion. So this time the characters had to go it alone.

Scenario 3: Fiorina "Fury" 161
Sister Ripley / Brother Dillon / Brother Morse / Superintendent Andrews
Session 1: Priest
Session 2: Technician
lost
won

Well. The Priest managed to draw two events in the first three cards. Which meant six strikes (that give you wounds) - and one of these strikes had him draw an extra strike. Seven minutes in and he was dead.


Reshuffling all the cards and setting up my second play took longer than seven minutes.

But then came the Technician and things were going very well. He kept buying cards with attack power every round and managed to take out almost every enemy before they could strike back.



thumbsup One year ago I never played a deckbuilding or hand management game, now this is my favourite game
thumbsup If you want to you can make hard mode even harder by adding in "soldier" enemies gulp

 
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19. Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:24]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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1 July
Mission 5: "Don't Panic", EZ-mode

After my daughter and I failed this mission twice in our cooperative session, I had a go at it alone. This time using all four mechs. I'm glad I'm taking this first playthrough of all missions on EZ-mode as it was a very close finish. The minions did not mess with me that much this time, but that lava wall...

13, 22, 24 September
Mission 7: Blast Chamber

My 6yo daughter makes me put this on the table once in a while (she can't carry the box). She really likes the characters and has fun programming the board. The rules are too hard though, especially as they change a bit every mission. So we lose every game we play together but afterwards she makes her own stories with the mechs and the minions. And after that I'm left on my own to try and beat the mission.

I've given up trying this with just two mechs, I really need all four to succeed. Plus some luck with the cards.



thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupQuality of the components is really good, the insert is excellent, the price was very reasonable, gameplay is fun...
thumbsdownIt's just a game I think I'll enjoy multiplayer much more than solo. So the rating as a solo game for me is just <rating>2.5</rating>, but for playing with friends I think it will be great. We should have a go at it, back to back with RoboRally, one of these days.
 
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20. Board Game: Onirim (second edition) [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:457]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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When I got interested in playing solo, eight months ago, the first game I bought was Onirim. I like the artwork and all the variety the expansions bring. But I'm not quite sure I ever played all the expansions so I'll be a bit more systematic this time and try them all.

Oh, and I've got the app, but I still prefer playing the physical game. I don't mind shuffling cards. I like to have some time thinking about my next actions, enjoying some details of the artwork, or contemplating life in general.

7/8 July
- The Book of Steps Lost and Found
- The Glyphs

The Book of Steps Lost and Found adds a lot to this game. I like the challenge of having to find the doors in a specific order, and I like how you can use your discard pile as fuel for spells that help you overcome obstacles.

The Glyphs is also very nice, I like using keys hoping to discard a nightmare, but then if I know a door's coming, using a glyph to grab it. Cool synergy.

Combining the two is perfect. More cards, so a slightly longer game to enjoy, 12 doors, so lots of room for tactics.

It took me four tries for a win. Two times I almost made it, which is always good fun because that makes you want to go at it again right away.



thumbsup I think this combination is the one I've played the most since owning the game. To me it is the default version.

But I will play the other expansions a few times in the next weeks. And perhaps I'll have another favourite at the end of the year.


16 September

Ever had a fever dream?
I had a fever dream.
A real bad fever dream.
I hate fever dreams.

I hear some people consider Space Hulk: Death Angel hard and unforgiving but they obviously never played Onirim. Give me some sweet little SF escapism every time, this is the stuff of nightmares.



Ever had a fever dream?
I had a fever dream.
A real bad fever dream.
It repeated like a fever dream.
It repeated like a fever dream.

Played the expansion The Dreamcatchers over and over today. Never a win, never escaping the labyrinth.
I hate fever dreams.
I hate fever dreams.
Except, oh, sometimes, sometimes, I love fever dreams!

After a few nervewrecking hours I had found the doors, escaped the nightmares and woke up behind the table. Phew.



Some people prefer playing Onirim with this expansion as it reduces the times you have to reshuffle the deck. I think that's weird. Who buys a big box Uwe Rosenberg and throws away the vegimeeples? Who goes all in on a CMON kickstarter and throws away the minis? Onirim is all about shuffling, repeating it over and over so you reach some kind of mindful, meditative state AND THEN GETTING LOST IN YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE. Ehm, sorry.

<rating>4.0</rating> Lyrics by The Residents
 
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21. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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My birthday at the beginning of this month has put a bit of stress on one of the game shelves:
but it'll hold.

Though Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 can be played solo, we've got group sessions planned starting next month. Which gives me time to play regular Pandemic on the board this month, to refresh my memory. I enjoyed playing it but never bought it, I figured owning Pandemic Iberia would be enough.

Two games with the Medic, Researcher and Dispatcher today. Both games started with an Epidemic card. The first game ended when I drew two Epidemic cards in one turn, causing six or more outbreaks in Asia. I ran out of red cubes as well cry
Big trouble in China

The second game was won in the very last turn, and I had to use all three role abilities to make that happen, which was cool.


I'll probably play this some more in September. Looking forward to the legacy experience though!
 
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22. Board Game: Pandemic Iberia [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:93]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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8 July

On easy difficulty, with my six year old daughter. We played with the sailor and the nurse, who are her favourite characters at the moment. She asked me for advice a lot, but did have a brilliant idea at the end (the sailor taking the nurse to harbour cities where we could swap city cards). Which actually made us beat the game with just one round to go. And barely surviving the outbreaks.



12 July

Pandemic Iberia has some very nice variants included that make the game more challenging and add to the thematic experience. Today I tried combining
* Influx of patients: after you built a hospital, you move a disease cube (patient) towards it
* one of the historical diseases, chosen at random - turned out to be black. So the black cubes would represent Malaria, having more rapid infection.



My team of politician, sailor and rural doctor did surprisingly well. Especially considering it took me a few turns realizing I could do four actions per turn instead of three (I have to stop playing Forbidden Island, this gets too confusing).

I just needed two more actions in my last turn. Or some more cards, for an extra round. Or just anything, I was so close! But I lost with another outbreak from an overrun hospital.



thumbsup This is a beautiful looking game
thumbsup I love the historical theme (more than regular Pandemic)
thumbsup The variants are interesting - and hard. Lots of replayability here

16 September

Pandemic Iberia has some fun changes to the regular version right out of the box, due to the historical setting.
* You have to build railroads before you can travel fast
* Hospitals (the research stations) are specialized in the local disease only
* Diseases are never cured, but there are ways to prevent them from spreading (like purifying water)

And then it has some variants included.

One of them is called the "influx of patients challenge". The cities with hospitals attract patients every turn now, which can lead to more outbreaks. So you'll probably try to build them as late as possible - as once they are on the board, they add an extra danger to manage.

Another one is the "historical diseases challenge", in which every disease has its own characteristics. This month I had to cope with typhus, a disease that's harder to treat in larger populations (it takes more actions to remote a cube once it's getting out of hand).



Combining these challenges does make the game even harder to win. After two tries in which I did not come close, I decided to play four handed. Using everyone's special ability (and of course having four sets of cards available) I managed to research all four diseases. Just one turn before I would have lost because of too many outbreaks. But the good games always have a close finish.



thumbsup I prefer this over regular Pandemic
thumbsup It's a beautiful game to look at
thumbsup Lots of replayability with the included variants

<rating>4.5</rating>
 
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23. Board Game: Pocket Landship [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:5817]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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This morning before I went on vacation I quickly printed out this game as it would easily fit in the luggage.


In this game your landship (tank) has to manoeuvre a minefield and battle infantry, artillery and three enemy landships (on normal difficulty). I have no military - or wargame - experience, but that does not sound like an easy feat. And indeed, I only managed to survive/win three times out of the first ten games I played on this "normal" difficulty.

You play by rolling dice and placing them on your cards (selecting actions). You can't influence enemy actions, but you can select your own actions (which enemy card to hit, repairing parts of your landship). Play time so far varies from losing in three minutes to winning in 15 minutes.

Most cards are double sided so that will bring some variety to later games.

Not sure yet if the randomness of the dice rolls is going to bother me too much in this game. First going to play it more and find out if I can play more strategic.

thumbsup small
thumbsup quick
thumbsup the actions on the cards are thematic and nicely balanced
thumbsupthumbsdown not sure yet about randomness and replayability

September

Well, I like this PnP a lot, so I entered the Pocket Landship Print and Play Challenge #2 - CLOSED this month. Normally you have to confront six enemy cards, but for the challenge you have to face reinforcements as well:

Once the enemy is down to 2 cards, reinforcements arrive for them, resetting them to a full enemy force of 6 enemies.

And there my slightly autistic brain got stuck in a loop. Because once I would have brought the reinforced enemy down to two cards, I figured new reinforcements would arrive. Over and over. Making this a game you could only lose. It turned into a game of delaying an unstoppable enemy, a game of heroic sacrifice.

Normally this game takes 5 - 15 minutes tops. The challenge took me 75 minutes before my landship was defeated. 75 minutes of rolling dice, adjusting tactics, selecting actions. 75 minutes of taking out enemies, manoeuvering through mine fields, repairing while the enemy regrouped. Sometimes after playing for an hour I had a hard time motivating my soldiers to keep going. Some had tears in their eyes and started cheering when the enemy scored a hit, hoping for an end to their ordeal. But we fought on. And on. Until, at last, we lost.

Having taken down 32 enemies with us.

shake This game is not meant to be played that long.
shake The author felt forced to clarify the rules (that everybody else had understood): reinforcements only show up once. My bad.
thumbsup I've become rather good at this game, actually:

Managed to defeat all 10 enemies after that.

P.S. here's the link once again, as you can still play this week: Pocket Landship Print and Play Challenge #2 - CLOSED
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24. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:659]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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21 July

This is a game my wife and I can play even when we're tired after work etc.
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25. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
JW van der Meulen
Netherlands
Almere
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Played solo with Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm

While looking for another game I stumbled upon Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm, changed plans and bought that, together with the base game. I've loved science fiction since childhood and was very interested to try this.

I've read that some people have trouble with the icons, so I sat down and studied everything at leasure.

Turns out the symbols are very clear and easy to grasp. I have a lot more trouble with words like "veil" and "deed" in Gloom of Kilforth or "vigilant" in Legendary Encounters: Alien as I keep forgetting the Dutch translation of these words - and which gameplay mechanic would be logical then.

To get some feel for gameplay I started with the base game, simulating a two player game with my left and right hands. As they shared one brain there was not much exciting going on. I had a nice Stroll through the Galaxy.

Then I switched to solo play with The Gathering Storm and met The Robot.

Wow. Just wow. Yes, this certainly turned into a race for the galaxy.

I played this game over and over this month and managed to win one time my first ten plays. And that was because The Robot had some unlucky draws, no thanks to my playing style. Took a picture though. If the game turns out to be real tough I can always frame it and make The Robot watch it from the shelf.

P.S. (1) Then I bought the app and played that to practice. My score after some 80 games is 50% win on medium difficulty. I've set it to "hard" and am at about 16% wins on that level. (2) Then I noticed I dreamed about the game every night. So the training goes on while I sleep.

Time to get the box out again. I'm so ready for The Robot now. Bring it on.

8 & 9 September

Practicing on the app some 150 times on hard difficulty this month (ehm, sometimes I'd rather not know how I spend my time, why does that app keep statistics) sure payed off. I know most of the 6-point development cards now and how they generate bonus points.

Played six times against the robot, won three times. The last one with 50 points to 37!

I had a very cool Mining League going.

Then, when I was celebrating, beer in hand, headbanging and jumping around, I suddenly realized that I am still playing The Gathering Storm on "easy" difficulty. I'm still in space kindergarten!

On medium difficulty the robot would have beaten me at least five times out of these six plays. On hard I probably would have lost them all.

thumbsup Time to practice some more

 
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