GCL Amoeba 324 -- On the Road (22-5-2017)
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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GameChat League - Amoeba Division 313
ABOUT|AMOEBA DIVISION | SUBSCRIBE

Welcome to this week's discussion list!

If you stumbled into this geeklist by accident, take a look at the links provided at the top. Constructive on-topic comments from visitors are welcome and we're happy about new regular contributors, but please refrain from adding items if you are not a member of this GCL.

The hosting rotation:
Eric (Eric Brosius)mb
James (jdludlow)
Justin (jrebelo)
Kalle (Kuula)
Rebecca (Joshuaaaaaa)
Joshua (Joshuaaaaaa)
Carlos (Sprocket314)
Mikko (msaari)
Doug (phrim)
Jason (Bond8089)
Garry (garry_rice)
Jimmy (Butterfly0038)
Larry (larryjrice)
Jeroen (jmdsplotter)
Scott (qzhdad)

[Other Amoeba alumni are welcome to ask to return to the hosting rotation! We'd love to have you back with us.]

Traveling for gaming opportunities.
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1. Board Game: World Wide Travel [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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What's the farthest that you've traveled from home? Did you play/buy/otherwise interact with games?
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2. Board Game: The Play's the Thing [Average Rating:4.62 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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What's the farthest that you've traveled for the primary purpose of playing games?
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3. Board Game: Geeks: The Convention [Average Rating:4.66 Overall Rank:13929]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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What cons do you regularly attend? How far do you travel for those?
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4. Board Game: Periodic Quest: Card and Board Game Set [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Do you have any regularly scheduled game groups? How far do you travel for those?
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5. Board Game: Impromptu [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Assuming that you don't have conflicting plans, how far would you go for a day of gaming? How far for a shorter session (afternoon or evening)?
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6. Board Game: Travel Blog [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3700]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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What's your favorite game about (or involving) travel?
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7. Board Game: Virtual Empire [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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How much online gaming do you do? (mostly implementations of board games, but discuss computer games, if that's fun, too.)
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8. Board Game: Bargain Hunter [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:2054]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 10.   Indonesia

Taught this to one new player and another that was just a second play. Mergers were done that really helped my situation and I ran away with the game. Due to the nature of the game, all cities remained at level one for the duration.

 10.   Race for the Galaxy x62

The RftG app continues to see a lot of play. It will slow down this week due to HeavyCon most likely.

 9.0   Crokinole x2

I am not very good at this game. My board also isn't the best one out there but it continues to be great fun each time.

 8.0   Bargain Hunter x4

This has seen a sudden resurgence in play as I introduced it and its been popular. I maintain I think it is best with 3 after playing with 4 a couple times last week for the first time ever. I also find this one really challenging to teach well for some reason.

 8.0   Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Been too long since playing this one and was fun to revisit it. I won on the strength of 6 average end game cards.

 8.0   Glen More

One of my poorest games ever of this one. Couldn't get an engine going this time around for some reason. First time I've also seen whiskey get produced by everyone and I don't think anyone ever scored the max points for whiskey.

 7.0   Big Points

Continues to be a fun filler that comes in way too big of a box.

 7.0   Ca$h 'n Gun$

I can't remember the last time I played this one. I was wounded on the final round of the game and lost by 5000. Sigh.

 7.0   Compatibility

This was hilarious at times due to the company playing. Christina and I won but either team could have won at times. We were handicapped a couple times landing on the 2 spaces.

 7.0   Fields of Green

This might be my preferred drafting game at the moment. I enjoy the simple engine building that is part of this game.

 7.0   Foppen

I finally got this played in California! I've been envious of my friends in Michigan who have played this quite frequently the last few months. We only played with four which works, but I do prefer 5 or 6. I apparently taught well as I was last...

 7.0   Magic Maze x2 NEW!

This could be an excellent teambuilding exercise. I will likely pick this one up to play with my student leadership staff as games are short and rules are simple.

 7.0   Neue Heimat

It was interesting playing the full game (3 rounds or play until one person wins 2 rounds - whichever happens first). The game ended after 2 rounds due to the same person winning twice. I got greedy and tried to get a lot of points to keep the winner from getting enough points but opponents put the kibosh on my efforts. This game can sure be nasty...

 7.0   No Thanks!

We played the full 3 round game. I did not get lucky when I went for broke.

 7.0   The Grizzled

Played with missions expansion at hardest level and we won easily...this time. Mike is always first player since he's always the hairiest player thanks to his beard.

 7.0   Yokohama x2

I'm not certain if I'm enjoying this one or not. I certainly have to be in the mood to play. Christina (one of our former Amoeba) is very good at this game. The news of the church strategy being too strong if others don't get involved did bump the game down in my estimation a bit too.

 6.0   Avenue x2

This is another I picked up to use with my staff as you can have any number of people play as long as they can see the cards and have a player sheet. I think it is my favorite version of the Bingo-esque mechanic thus far!

 6.0   Kingdomino

I had a huge desert of around 11 squares. Shame the king had no interest in ever viewing it so I scored 0 for deserts. Ouch.

 6.0   Klunker

My very limited experience with this game seems to find it really challenging to reel in the leader.

 6.0   Saboteur

I was not very effective as a miner or a saboteur. I was a very good scout and always knew where the gold was though.

 6.0   Wettlauf nach El Dorado NEW!

I'd play this again but don't need to own. It was interesting seeing something a bit more fresh/different from Knizia in his take on deckbuilding within a racing structure. I probably wouldn't deckbuild much for the introductory race course...

 4.0   Dairyman NEW!

I've worked on a dairy farm for 8 years in my past. This game didn't remind me of those days at all. This theme was extremely pasted on and I'm thinking a different theme would have been a better choice. Silly push your luck dice chucker but at least it avoids the Yahtzee mechanic trap.

 N/A   Spyfall NEW!

The person who taught us was good, very good. It helps to have familiarity with the locations. One really has to be quite vague on the answers as well as asking quality questions that are also hard to pinpoint to a location. I don't know that I'd need to play again, but I might.

Acquisitions:

Phantom Leader Deluxe - using credit from Boards & Bits
Klunker - using credit from Boards & Bits
Le Passe-Trappe Grande - using credit from Boards & Bits
Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne - this is an interesting take on Cosmic Encounter
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9. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:442]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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 8   Eggs of Ostrich x2 -- On Monday night we had enough people for 3 tables, but not everyone arrived on time, so we started with this simple game. Then I played it again at Joe's on Saturday.

 8   Jump Drive -- People still hadn't arrived, so we played another quick one. This is my 26th play of this game in 2017 (I had 2 in an earlier year, as part of playtesting.)

 10   Medici -- This is my favorite game, and since we had 5 people, we played it (using the earlier French version pictured above.) Two of the players didn't remember ever having played it (it came out in 1995,) but one of them thought he remembered playing it long ago once we were about halfway through. One of the nice features of the game is that it's easy to explain (though not easy to play well.) Lou, one of the experienced players, won by a comfortable margin, though someone else might have edged him out with just the right card draws.

 9   Bakschisch -- At this point Brett had to leave, so I brought out another favorite. Geoff was amazingly effective with his thief in this game: twice he collected about 10 coins with one thief use. He won, but it was closer than you might have expected, given his skillful thieving.

 8   For Sale -- The other table that was playing SeaFall had a little more time to go, so we played this filler. Geoff won by a margin of 64-63.

 10   1846: The Race for the Midwest -- In this game Dan started NYC cheap (5 shares at $60) and got almost all the way to the 12-certificate limit in SR 3, which is quite early. The NYC wasn't a great corporation in the late game, but Dan's full portfolio of good shares (and resulting huge pile of cash from not having to spend on shares much in SR 4 or at all in SR 5) carried him to victory. It's nice that you have to balance getting a great late-game corporation against getting good shares early in this game.

 8   Baptism By Fire: The Battle of Kasserine -- I played another day of the solo play of Scenario 5.2. The Germans took Sbeitla, but with the -2 SNAFU modifier, didn't accomplish as much as they would have liked on Day 2.

 6   Napoleon's Art of War: Eylau and Dresden NEW! -- I had pulled this Strategy & Tactics game out some time ago with the goal of playing it (I hadn't played before that I remember, though the counters were punched, so maybe I did.) I played the Eylau game, in which the French get a head start while the Russians have to wait till Day 2 to do much. It seemed that that head start unbalanced the game toward the French, but maybe I didn't play optimally for the Russians.

 3   Game of Boom or Bust NEW! -- Joe Huber hosted a game day on Saturday, and he had a big stack of (probably) lousy games he wanted to try. The first was this economic game, clearly derived from Monopoly. It didn't have the opportunity to add houses or hotels to a space, but it did have a process to move you from normal conditions to boom, then to bust, and then back to normal. There wasn't much control. I succeeded in bankrupting myself fairly quickly to make it stop. I hadn't rated a single new game lower than  6  in 2017, and Joe solved that problem nicely.

 4   Star Reporter NEW! -- This is a game that has a good idea, but way too much die rolling trying to get a 7 or 11, or to get doubles. It has a type of contract fulfillment mechanism, like crayon rails, but the payoffs depend only on ending city and not on how far you had to go to get there, so it's quite luck-dependent as well.

 10   Saint Petersburg -- After two sub-optimal games, I wanted to try something enjoyable, and this filled the bill. It was an odd game, in that the early nobles were all quite expensive. This slowed down our economic growth curves. Then, on the last turn, we got a bushel of nobles that cost 4 and 7. One of the nice things about this game is how the random draw of the cards creates different situations (and makes different strategies good.)

 5   Top-ography NEW! -- After one good game, it was back to the dogs. I've set a goal of playing no more than 40 new-to-me games in 2017, and this run wasn't helping my chances any. This game involves looking for as many locations on a US map starting with a given first letter as you can find in the time it takes to empty a sand timer. It was actually enjoyable, to some extent, but some of the letters (which you are assigned by the spin of a spinner) are much, much better than others. Joe remembered this fondly from his childhood, so he rated it higher than I did.

 7   Iron Dragon -- I suggested that we play this, which is (as far as I know) Joe's favorite crayon rails game. It's not my favorite crayon rails game, but I like the series in general and was happy to play it. We had (I think) two brand-new players whom we taught the rules to before we started; I taught the regular crayon rails rules and Joe taught the Iron Dragon special rules. I just heard that this game is going to be re-released by Mayfair.

 2   Buckaroo: The Cowboy Roundup Game NEW! -- This is a 4-player abstract with a severe lock-up problem; if players aim to prevent one player from winning they can do so, and this causes the game to grind to a halt. We finished because one or two of the others conspired to help me win (I was closest) so we could stop.

 6   Loot N Run NEW! -- Matt Stone had brought this simple treasure-collecting game alone, and we played a 3-player game. The game worked mechanically, though I didn't find it particularly compelling. It was better than any of Joe's new games, though.

 8   Coloretto -- This was yet another game I brought with the goal of playing it. We used the variant that introduces different stack sizes, which was interesting (and gives the first player each round an actual decision!) Our scores were quite high, but Paul edged Matt and I out.

 8   Excape -- My final game of the day was a 6-player game of this favorite of mine. Some of the players felt that it was a little too long for what it is, but I enjoy the game, especially the part that involves trying to "read" how aggressive your opponents are likely to be in knocking people off rather than trying to score high for themselves. We were quite aggressive, so the game took a little longer than usual. Fun though.
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10. Board Game: Completto [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:4128]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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My entire face to face gaming this week was three plays of this with my wife and son.

I have caught up on The 100 on Netflix.....
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11. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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1 x _9_Brass: Lancashire
2 x _8_The Magic Labyrinth
1 x _8_Hero Realms
1 x _7_Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
6 x _6_Fashion Show
1 x _5_Terra Mystica

A friend of mine moved to escape major renovations. I took few games from him to hold while he was off. Terra Mystica was one of those. As you can see from my ratings, I'm not a fan (and the rating used to be 4, actually).

I still thought my son should be given an opportunity to play the #4 ranked game on BGG, so we did. He quite liked it, really; I guess part of that is because he won... But he probably wants to play more. I upped my rating to 5, because I don't find the thought repulsive... I can do that. It's not that bad.

Fashion Show looks like a likely candidate to hit 50 plays at some point. It's that fast.

Acquisitions

A Feast for Odin became available. I bought the last copy from Board Game Guru, then it was available everywhere. It was quite expensive (120 euros), but hopefully worth it. I'm looking forward to receiving it soon.

I've also got Yokohama in the mail. Let's see which one arrives first, and if one of those games is here by Wednesday so they can immediately hit the table on our weekly game night. It's the quiz finals, by the way, and we're guaranteed a place on the final top three - but will we win, be second or remain third, that's the question (that, and 20 other questions).
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12. Board Game: Pandemic Iberia [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:93]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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7.8  Rallyman

Finished off a game of this. It's now available once again to play online, and you can play solo. I believe it includes dirt and you can set up the course as you wish, but I haven't tried it or confirmed it.

7.0  Race for the Galaxy x7

Continued my matches of this on the iPad. I feel like I'm starting to get a better grasp of it, but I'm in a couple games right now I'm not quite what I should be doing with the cards I've seen

8.0  Paperback

iPad play.

6.0  Kingdomino

Played it with Caleb and won a close 111-104 game thanks only to my larger and more effective scoring areas...C had more crowns and was able to place all his tiles but split his areas up a bit more.

We played this in King mode, which I really liked...all the tiles are used and both players build a 7x7 kingdom instead of a 5x5. Really like that you know all tiles will be coming out.

7.0  Pandemic Iberia NEW!

Chris taught me this and I played it with him and his daughter. While we won very easily with 5 epidemics in play, I found it much more interesting than the base Pandemic game. Liked how patients move as the hospitals come out. I would really like to try it with the historical disease cards in play.

6.5  Legends of Andor x2

Played thru and won the first two missions with Chris and his daughter.

Acquisitions: Picked up Kingdomino as I just have really enjoyed it as a quick filler when I've played.
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13. Board Game: Magic Maze [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:332]
Jason
United States
Irvine
California
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8.0  Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
8.0  Yokohama
7.0  Magic Maze x2 NEW!
7.0  National Economy NEW!
7.0  Wettlauf nach El Dorado x2 NEW!
4.0  Dairyman x2 NEW!

Acquisitions:
Mask of Anubis
Mask of Moai

Little did I know that this week I would play 2 of the 3 games nominated for the Spiel... and both were very good! I haven't played Kingdomino yet, but right now my pick of the two I have played would be Magic Maze. It felt different than what else is out there, and the way they approach playing the game has a bit of that legacy feel, as each scenario adds one more thing to include in the game.

I also did like The Quest for El Dorado... and what really got me hooked was the 2 player game. The rules are the same, except that you need to get 2 pawns across the map to win... and the decisions you have to make seemed more interesting this way. This one is different than most deck builders since the replayability really isn't in the available cards, but instead the different "race tracks" you can make for the game. Another one I am looking to play more with some of the more advanced "tracks".

National Economy was another neat "new to me" game that I played last week. It's a worker placement game with a fixed economy... and oh man is the money tight. I do wonder if there is too much power with certain cards that you can build, but it is one I do want to explore further.
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14. Board Game: 1841 [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:2809]
Rebecca Carpenter
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Last year at the Portland 18xx tournament, Mark Derrick, Steve Thomas, and Jeff Heuer kindly taught me 1841. Steve decided the table was bidding too much for concessions and stayed an investor until the end of the game when he snatched the presidency of one of Jeff's companies and with it, the win. I was awed at the power to print money. Surely 1841 was the perfect game for my financial shenanigan loving group!

But for nearly a year, 1841 was tokened out from the table by group favorites such as 1822 and 1817. I kept suggesting it, and lo! Last week the stars aligned. Jacky was in, so was Adrian, Jose and Paul. Finally we were playing the wacky 18xx in which companies can buy shares and also own companies - during the OR no less!

1841 x2 TLDR: I like it a lot!

Edit: we were letting new "child" companies operate the same OR. They must wait an OR.

5P. My major takeaway from Thursday's game was, a poorly executed merger can dilute ownership considerably. When merging two ten share companies, their current market value (CMV) is summed, but old shares are only worth half the new CMV. As such, pairs of shares downgrade into a single 10% share. If merging a parent and child, where the player only holds 60% of both (or just one), then after the merger the player will only hold 30% of the newly formed company. I’m sure all you sneaky types can sniff out the quagmire other players might find themselves in.

Paul and Jose were free and interested to play again on Saturday so we did!

4P game on Saturday, now with Christopher, who had played a few times at various tournaments, joining the roster. Based on observations from Thursday, I set out to learn how to keep cash in hand and hold a large percentage of my good companies.

The initial auction: I won the SFTG, parred it at $100, bought three tokens and six shares. Christopher had the IFFST and the major in Tuscany area, Paul started in north Torino and also in Curneo, and Jose had the two minors in Tuscany.

OR1: The IFFST bought two 2Ts, Paul’s north Torino bought no train, since it had no legal route, because of that I bought two 2T, then Paul bought two 2Ts in Curneo, Jose’s minors each bought a 2T, and finally Christopher’s Tuscan company got the first 3T. I laid a track to Curneo, but Paul chose not to connect, pointing up to make a second route.

SR2 was uneventful.

OR2a: Paul’s North Torino dodged trains again, but upgraded Torino. I decided to lay a tile towards Milano instead of towards Curneo as Paul expected me to, which made my run only $160 instead of $180, but Paul’s Curneo was only able to run one train for $90 instead of both for $180. (Later I also upgraded J6, Alessadria, with #12, a green city with only one station, which hurt Curneo even more. Curneo is a dangerous starting location! Curvilinear tiles rock! http://www.18xx.net/tiles/e012.htm)



OR2b: Operating second, the IFFST broke 4Ts, and I smelled blood in the water. The IFFST had been parred at $144 and Christopher only held 50%. When the CMV is that high, it’s difficult to afford very many shares. The IFFST splits into two companies after a 4T is purchased. Pairs of shares become a single, and players may either pay the difference to upgrade an old 10% share to a 10% of the new company, or take half the CMV. Christopher didn’t have much cash in hand but was able to secure 30% of the new Milano company, the SFL, and 20% of the SB. I did suggest that he not break the 4Ts, but he countered that in this way, he would prevent all our 2Ts from running, and both companies would get a train. Otherwise the SFL would have been trainless after the split that was sure to happen later. Fair enough. My takeaway was, if wanting to keep both presidencies, par IFFST lower or figure out how to own more shares before phase 4.

That same OR, my company had a 3T, some cash, three or four IPO shares, and I deliberated on if I should start a new child company to buy it a 4T. I probably should have. Instead I sold its treasury shares (allowed after the train buying step), to cover train debt in OR3A. Next time in that situation this is what I might do:

1.Start a child company in the Conservative zone (so that it didn’t have a route and tokens were cheap) at a CMV low enough to operate that same OR, $68 or $100, and cheap enough to buy in the SR, but high enough to buy trains.

2. The child would complete the OR without a train or track lay. That is unless it could afford a train without having to sell too many shares at half price per the emergency fundraise step. Companies have to complete an entire OR before their IPO shares may be sold to the bank pool for full price.

3. The following SR I would purchase its shares if I was concerned that someone else might force it to have a route, or if I wanted to inject it with capital. Shares in hand are essential so that after a merger, I retain a good percentage of the new company.

4.Depending on many factors, the following OR the parent company would either: A) Buy a train across and merge or, B) Buy a train across and the child company would remain trainless but free to sell its IPO shares, then they would merge, or C) The child would use the money from IPO sales done in ORa, to buy a train in ORb for the parent and only merge when forced to.



Instead I sat on a pile of cash, because my goal of the game was to learn how to stay liquid and have cash in hand. Having to buy those child shares worked against that plan, I reasoned. Plus, I wanted one of Christopher’s companies.

SR3: I bought three of Paul’s best shares in the same company. I couldn’t afford to steal the SB.



OR3a: Paul began threatening to dump the company on me. Oh - but not until it had started a child that started a child and all were trainless. He was mad with power. I thought that sounded like a bad idea for him. The company that he was dumping had a token in Milano. Why not simply merge his companies? Paul did start a few child companies, he was sitting diagonally from me, and the process was lengthy so I took my dog outside for a walk while he sorted it all out. When my company finally ran, it’s 3T was rusted and I had to emergency fundraise for a 5T by selling IPO shares at half price and paying $20 out of hand. If I hadn’t sold the treasury shares the previous OR, I would have only received half price for them too. However if I had started a company with that money and bought a 4T, I wouldn’t have had to sell any IPO shares or buy a non permanent 5T. Without any shares in the IPO and no treasury shares, the only means to get another train would be withholding - and that was out of line with my cash in hand goal. On the bright side, I did get the third token spot in Milano.


(Great weather up here! My 14 year old dogemon likes joining me on game days and gets his own chair).

OR3b: I ran for a nice sum. Paul’s shares paid out too.

SR4: I was last in priority, but Paul had decided not to dump the company. I sold his three shares asap and set eyes on Christopher’s position. I had $668 in cash and 60% of the SFTG. Christopher held a couple cheap shares, had a few bucks and 40% of the SFL with a 5T in it and a CMV around $70. Chris also owned a mere 20% of the SB, with a CMV of ~$150. The SB had no train, but get this, it was parent to the CMST with a 6T in it! Christopher held zero of the CMST, outside of the 40% in the SB. I bought a CMST. Then another. He started cursing and sold shares to buy a CMST. I bought a third, he bought one too - and now was at his limit of 60% between the parent company and his personal withholdings. So I bought a SB. He would have to sell the CMST to buy another SB. He couldn’t sell the SFL because there were already 50% in the bank pool. I bought two more SB and became the president of a trainless company….that owned a company with a 6T. I kept the maximum number of CMST shares that I could, two, capping me at 60%, and three SB.



OR4 a-c: . The SB and CMST merged. I later only got 50% of it.

Meanwhile Paul was juggling trains and starting more companies and becoming overwhelmed as the train rush that he started, left him at the station. He wasn’t merging the companies, and I think it had to do with the fact that so many of them were children of children, that by doing so, he would lose ownership, freezing them.

Jose however, started a routeless company in the Conservative zone (whoops in OR3b), and had the parent buy across the 6T. I used the SB to give Jose’s suitcase a route, forcing a merger. Paul ultimately decided to go bankrupt and took the $500 to later invest. He engineered it so that Christopher got a company with a 7T, which was nice considering we were at Christopher's house and his position was pretty bleak.
Early in the OR set, my SB had collected enough revenue from treasury shares that it was able to buy a 7T. My SFTG had to withhold for the $1 to buy the train across. Force purchasing trains really hurts if the company remains unmerged. I opted out of merging it because I had routes for all these trains and plans to get another 8T.

SR 5: One of Paul’s frozen companies had piles of cash in it, over $1,000, and I owned a share of it, as did Jose. There were other great shares to snag that SR, but when my turn finally came - I was last - I bought the $9 share and melted that liability. I was comfortably able to out of pocket an 8T with it, rusting the 5Ts. In the future, I think the group will look out for more of those opportunities should they arise.

OR5 a-c: The SB withheld for an 8T, the previously frozen company got an 8T, and I ran for gobs of money. We called the game in my favor.



Also last week I played:

Ponzi Scheme
4P, a couple players weren’t that into it, and so it was just an okay game.

Traders of Osaka
2P, we played with money cards open, and decided that it diminished from the push your luck element of this filler.

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure plus expansion.
4P, I didn’t enjoy this one. Drawing cards to move isn’t my thing.

Lost Cities
2P, I loved it, but by husband was annoyed by the randomness. He says that he’d prefer to play 2P Arboretum.

10 Dwarves
Took ten minutes, and that was ten minutes too long.

Hanamikoji
2P After two plays, I’m over it. It’s cute, but not much game space. Considering gifting to pre-teen niece.



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15. Board Game: Valletta [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1946]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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4x _7.50_ Jump Drive
2x _X.XX_ Kiek
2x _8.00_ Race for the Galaxy
2x _7.50_ Unlock!
1x _6.50_ Die Siedler von Catan: Das Kartenspiel
1x _5.75_ Valletta
1x _5.50_ Twenty One
1x _5.50_ Planetarium
1x _5.25_ Islebound
1x _5.25_ Arcadia Quest: Inferno
1x _5.25_ Dune: The Dice Game
1x _5.00_ Mystic Vale
1x _5.00_ RARRR!!
1x _5.00_ Urban Sprawl
1x _5.00_ Just Desserts


My copy of Jump Drive finally arrived (it was held up by other preorders), and duly hit the table a few times. I think B. still focuses too much on initial points though...

We played Unlock! The Formula. Quite a fun puzzle! I think I may need a few more of these Escape room games...

Another recent arrival was Valletta. Decent fun, though I'm not yet 100% sure what to think of it. It seems awfully short, and especially with 2p Mr. Purple doesn't get very far...

I got Twenty One after reading about it on Steph's blog. A decent effort in the roll-dice-and-score-boxes genre, though I'm not sure it's one of my favorites there.

Planetarium is somewhat of an odd duck. Almost serene - in a turn you collide one token with a planet. Most of the game is in managing your hand, and when to get endgame scoring cards (that clog your hand otherwise).

We also played the first scenario of Arcadia Quest: Inferno. The game is good fun, though some rules are quite strange. Resting freely while engaged with a monster?

Dune: The Dice Game was a good effort. When explaining the rules, I jokingly said that the first step (rolling your dice) is the most involved of your turn. That turned out to be more the case than I'd realized...
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16. Board Game: 18CZ [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:2930]
JR
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Victoria
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I got home yesterday from Hattanooga, the first dedicated 18XX/Train gaming convention in Canada from what I gather. I had a great time and will definitely be making it an annual tradition.



Powerrails

The weekend kicked off early as Marc Voyer and myself arrived in Medicine Hat on Thursday afternoon. We played a game of Powerrails on the small mexico scenario. It was a pretty crazy scenario which lets a corporation optionally remove a non-tokened tile from the map at the start of its track laying. Additionally, it comes with privates which give claims to hexes on the map which requires you to pay the private holder for builds on that space. It was a neat little system and played pretty quickly. Given it's loaded with scenarios I'd love to get this into my collection one day. We were getting hungry for dinner and it was looking like I couldn't be stopped, so the game was called in my favour to go eat some steak and mashed potatoes and veggies.



1883: Alberta

The next game after dinner was a playtest of 1883: Alberta. This is built on the ruleset of 1856 with a new map and set of historical companies. The tile set is largely drawn from '56 but with several unique tiles for the large cities with some very interesting configurations (particularly Edmonton). There are some pretty big differences from 1856 in how loans and the CGR (CN in this game) works. Overall I quite liked the fresh approach to '56, though I am not sure I am fully sold on how the CN acquisition mechanics are currently working. I won a close victory over Tyler by about $100 margin (roughly 2%).

I played with the designer and he gave me one of his extra copies of the game so hopefully I can get this tested again locally and help with some more feedback.



1846: The Race for the Midwest

Friday was a lot of setup earlier and so two shorter games in the evening. First was a 4 player game of 1846. I played a very different game than I usually do with regards to the opening. It went OK, but not good enough because I lost. The winner, however, was slated to win the first free copy of 1846 (graciously donated by GMT for the convention prizes) and guy who did win very much deserved the prize (I wouldn't have accepted it since I own it already and wouldn't want to lug more stuff home on the plane anyway). I finished a reasonable second.



Texas & Pacific

The only non-18xx play of the weekend came Friday night as I was too burnt out to want to get into a long game. It was pretty much Wabash Cannonball with a few slight tweaks. I played it pretty much the same as I play Wabash and won handily.



1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight

By far the most exciting game of the weekend for me was the first match of Saturday in a 4-player of what remains probably my favourite 18XX. I had some pretty stiff opposition in this game but had the experience of at least a dozen plays of this to help me hold my own against a very astute Russian mathematician name Alex. One player wrote the game off in the middle, certain that the Alex had won the game long ago. I told him he was being hasty. We continued. I won $9119 to $9103. I was very happy.



18CZ

This was the game I was most looking forward to playing this weekend. Four types of companies (including privates) and three types of trains. There are several similarities to previous OO games here but also some bits reminiscent of 1862: East Anglia. This game features the uncommon trait of a fixed game length. Generally I like the idea of uncertain game length in 18XX, but I suspect that Lonny has good reason for this setup. I will be very eager to get my hands on the final edition of this game. I think it will definitely be popular with our group. Another fellow named Justin from Calgary eked out the win here and I finished 3rd.



18Oki

Sunday was a pretty quiet day as many players had left to travel home. Two tables got started when Andrew showed up so I left the table that I had just sat at (which hadn't started playing yet) and he and I played a 2p game of 18Oki, a strictly 2-player 18XX set in Okinawa, Japan. This game was all kinds of unusual for us. The opening auction works as in Medici vs Strozzi: the active player elects a certificate, states a price and then must buy it for that price unless the other player accepts the price and buys it.

The game has a few public rail companies, a couple of public tramway companies and even single-certificate bus companies which cleverly earn more money for more railway shares in the pool (perhaps simulating that when business is down for railroads, the buses are picking up the slack).

The tile mix and terrain is pretty savage. The tightness of the game makes 1849 look like a sandbox. We both felt it was too limited and there ought to be a few more tiles in the mix to make the game more interesting. We found that one tramway company could only ever connect two cities with the track we developed while the other tramway company was completely stifled from ever running (and thus was never floated) because of how track was built. Granted, knowledge of this might change how we build in the future, but it still leaves the game balanced on such a sharp edge where one tile can just completely ruin one of the very few companies. I think that needs to be tamed ever so slightly an then this would be a great quick 2p game. I won this game by a fair chunk, but neither of us had much idea what to expect and were playing pretty casually.



1859

We finished the day with a 5p game of 1859: South Africa, Winsome's latest 18XX release. I'd played it once before so just needed a bit of re-familiarization. One thing I remembered was that while the game is almost just 1830 on another map, the special rules about track and token building and running routes through blocked cities meant that revenues could be much higher in the late game. To this end, I retained a few times with a 5T to get a 5T/6T combo on my main company after the then-leader had bought the first two 5Ts for his two companies and everyone thought he had won the game right then and there. It was another pleasing opportunity to show people they were being too hasty in their predictions, as I then won the game by a pretty healthy margin.



Acquisitions
As mentioned above, I brought home a copy of the 1883: Alberta playtest set. At least one of our locals has an affinity for historicity in 18XX and especially when the setting is Canadian so I think this will be an easy one to get tested here.
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