GCL Amoeba 327 - Complements (2017-06-12)
Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!
Topic #327: Complements
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Eric (Eric Brosius)
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Thesaurus states the following: "As a noun, complement means “something that completes or makes perfect”: The rare old brandy was a perfect complement to the delicious meal. As a verb, complement means “to complete”: A bright scarf complements a dark suit."
I presume that we all enjoy the small things in life, the mood of a weather or family&friends.
For you, are there things that complement or brings the enjoyment together of a particular setting? For example, reading a book while it is raining outside.
At the moment I'm pondering about mechanisms that go well together. So the game related question for this week is that what mechanisms that are just bound together? I'm thinking Dice Rolling and Hex&Counter or Hand Management and Set Collection.
Can same be said with a mechanism and theme pairs? From the same examples Wargames with dice rolling and Trading with set collection?
Is that a good or a bad thing? Can that be used to ease new players into games? Are "veteran" gamers bored of those same things?
There's always the other side of a coin. What are your recent unfortunate complements that could have been good?
For me, I didn't enjoy the bag building aspect of Hyperborea. I like bag building in Orléans and Automobiles but with Hyperborea it really didn't complement the overall game it provided.
Board Game: Yamataï
[Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:559]
I am vengeance. I am the night. I am BATMAN!
7.0 New York Slice NEW!
7.0 Yamataï x3 NEW!
4.0 Veggie Garden
Throne of the World
Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
After Relic Runners & Cargo Noir, I had kind of lost faith with Days of Wonder, but Five Tribes, I started to pay attention to their releases again. Yamataï definitely deserves notice, as it is a very elegant (and beautiful game). In some ways, its kind of the inverse of 5 tribes, where instead of starting out with a crazy board and a million options, you build up to the crazy combos and tons of options. I don't like it as much as Five Tribes, but unlike others, I feel it is a completely separate game, and have no problem owning both. Not sure if this will end up on my top 10 of 2017, but it for sure will have a shot... and is probably the best non-expansion game I have played released in 2017 so far.
New York Slice hits all the right buttons with the "I cut, you choose" mechanism, and puts it into a nice filler. Cool components, cool decisions, and overall a fun game. Both this and Yamatai didn't actually go over well with the others in my gaming group, but I found both to be really neat games, and I think this is a filler that will stick around in my collection for awhile.
http://www.lautapeliopas.fi/ - the best Finnish board game resource!
1 x _9_Innovation
1 x _9_Love Letter
1 x _8_La Boca
1 x _8_Carcassonne: The Castle
1 x _8_Colony
1 x _8_Terraforming Mars
7 x _8_Hero Realms
2 x _7_King of Tokyo
1 x _7_Monster Trap
2 x _7_Karuba
1 x _7_A Few Acres of Snow (new!)
2 x _7_NMBR 9 (new!)
1 x _6_Game of Trains (new!)
The kids are off the school now, and that mostly manifests in the play counts for Hero Realms, which is what me and my son mostly play in the mornings - it's his favourite game, and it's short enough that we have always time for a round. I really should buy some of the character packs, but we've been having a good time without them. I'm pretty sure Hero Realms is going to hit 50 plays during the summer.
I've played couple of games of A Few Acres of Snow on Yucata before, but I haven't rated the game; it's been hard to figure out with a really cursory reading of the rules. Now I got a copy on loan, and played it with my son. He enjoyed it, and so do I: it's a pleasant deck-builder that's quite unlike many other deck-builders. It also reminded me of Tim Seitz.
We hosted a introductory games event at the local museum center, which includes the Finnish Game Museum. It was fun, even though we didn't drwa a big crowd (so Kalle, you didn't miss much; we had exactly one game doctor client, and we did fine dissecting his prototype). While there, I managed to give NMBR 9 a go. It was pretty much exactly as I expected. Nothing I need to own, but I would buy it, had I more need for these zero-barrier-of-entry games. It's really quite fine in that category.
Game of Trains was a ho-hum game; not bad, but I find Completto and Europa Tour better representatives of this genre.
No acquisitions, though I did print out the PNP files for Savage Planet: The Fate of Fantos. The 1970s scifi/fantasy paperback art is splendid, and when somebody mentioned that the gameplay riffs on Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, I was immediately interested. It sure is a Vampire: The Lite Struggle, without all the CCG baggage, and that makes me really interested. Hopefully I'll be able to give this a go soon.
Board Game: Onirim
[Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:936]
6.0 Onirim x4
7.0 Race for the Galaxy x2
No physical gameplay this week...just some iPad apps.
Did have a record score (and final turn the other night in a Race game against Scott). Played a 20 point AND a 12 point 6dev and then settled a planet that gave me two more goals to boot for another 8 points...won't forget that turn for awhile It was a high scoring game for both of us 92-70 or something like that.
N/A Bärenpark x3 NEW!
N/A Great Western Trail NEW!
9 1841 x3
I logged 20 plus hours of 1841 last week. Feeling better prepared to play at the Portland 18xx tournament in 1.5 weeks. Bruce Beard and the Utah contingent are interested in playing and I welcome the chance to pick up their tricks in this wacky 18xx. Our 6P game was a little too chaotic for my taste - nearly impossible to predict how the trains would fall. The IRSFF must be slowed down by rusting the 4T asap, and to do so the table may need to work together, otherwise the sword is too deadly for one player to fall on alone and as such, it won't happen.
More fun with polyomino shapes! If I could, I would play this game over and over for hours. Here is a fine example of decision density - lots of planning is done in the 20-30 minutes it takes for a 2P game. It's not as interactive as Patchwork, but a deeply satisfying weeknight game for home or a filler on game day. I suggest tracking down a copy. Would make an excellent app game.
Great Western Trail
My Wednesday group is hot for this title and thankfully it's among my favorite euros. We'll be playing again this week, and in July when a couple of people return from vacation. I suspect Cowboys are very strong at a green table.
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3x _7.50_ Jump Drive
3x _7.00_ Sheep 'n' Sheep
3x _6.00_ 30 Rails
3x _6.00_ Last Seven Days
2x _7.00_ Favor of the Pharaoh
2x _6.00_ Era of Voyage (航海の時代)
2x _6.00_ Urbion
2x _5.75_ NMBR 9
1x _9.25_ 1846: The Race for the Midwest
1x _8.75_ 2038: Tycoons of the Asteroid Belt
1x _7.50_ Power Grid: The Card Game
1x _7.25_ Colony
1x _7.00_ Nubia: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile
1x _6.50_ Breitseite
1x _6.25_ Emperor's Choice
1x _5.75_ Rights
1x _5.50_ Startups
1x _5.00_ World Cup Cricket
I was on a business trip last week, so lots of solo games in the hotel evenings. Luckily, JoeH was able and willing to host me again over the weekend (Japanese games may or may not have been used as bribes ), and I had a blast again with two days of gaming.
Era of Voyage (航海の時代) is a cute little game. Provided we played correctly... We learned the rules of this Japanese game from a Frenchman doing an English review. And a little it of automatic translation. We played two rule variants; either works. But it's a nice little trading game.
We played the oddest game of 1846. Yes, that's saying something. After SR2, Joe controlled all privates in the game. And Michael had made the mistake of buying a single share in Joe's B&O, which made Joe able to steal the IC. And then the B&O bought back its 5 shares in the bank pool with the IC's money to rescue itself. I had started both GT and NYC in the first round, and did reasonably well (I think) - but couldn't compete with Joe's windfall.
I think the start was:
Michael: MS, C&WI, IC @ $100
Joe: MC, LSL, Steamboat, Big4, B&O @$40
Jeroen: NYC @$50 & GT @ $50
On Sunday we played 2038 (with expansion). That had been quite a long time; it was good to get that out again. We couldn't finish the final pair of ORs, and it was quite close between Joe and myself.
Joe introduced me to Breitseite. Quite a fun dexterity game, I may have to find a copy.
We also played Nubia, which is a derivative of Guild (by the same designer I believe). Quite interesting; build a pyramid and activate the cards in two straight lines (down) when you build a new section.
The last Japanese game played was Emperor's Choice; also quite nice. It almost is a euro game, mainly featuring bidding for turn order and using the gold you earn wisely.
There's no real gameplay reason to take World Cup Cricket as geeklist item, but it was interesting to play. Dexterity/luck based...
On Monday night last week Joe R was out of town, so Geoff hosted in his stead. Although Joe owns many games, there are some Geoff owns that Joe doesn't. I quickly went through Geoff's shelves and named a dozen games I'd love to play.
_8_ Rails of New England -- One of them was this non-Euro railroad game. I helped playtest this game during the development process, and it has a lot of New England flavor (one of my favorite features is the clothespin factory in Claremont NH.) I say it's not a Euro because the designer, Walter Hunt, put more emphasis on historical fidelity than on balancing everything perfectly. For one thing, the various businesses that players can build are not perfectly balanced as to cost and benefit; some are just better than others. This introduces more randomness than if the differences were sanded down, but it also makes it more fun for me. In this game we decided to include Rhode Island in the mix, even though we had only 4 players (usually Rhode Island is included only with 5.) As it turns out, there was no Connecticut. Joe H got Maine, John got New Hampshire, Bill got RI, and I got Vermont. I was able to get some decent synergies in my Era I businesses, including a pair in Barre VT, and I connected to Montreal to improve their earnings (it's always a question of how much you should spend to accelerate construction in this game.) I managed to stay debt-free as a result of good early income, but with loans becoming available as soon as possible, Joe H and John leveraged up to pay for their projects. Then I made a move for NYC, straight down the west side of the map, and grabbed the Hoosac Tunnel on the way. From there I went to Boston, getting enough Mail cities to claim the MA Mail contract, and then swept up a bunch of the special runs. The game ended unusually early, before the Era III businesses came out, as we had claimed all the specials. I won, thanks to my eschewing of debt while still achieving reasonably broad goals. Perhaps the lack of a CT player helped me, though Bill sort of "took over" that role, claiming both the RI and CT Mail contracts. I really like this game; there's plenty of luck, but skill matters a lot.
_7_ SteamRollers NEW! -- After my recent Amoeba list on the topic of what new games people choose to try, you'll be watching to see what I try! Joe H had brought this new-to-me game out, and it was one that I'd heard enough about to want to try. As he explained it, I could see that it takes a number of elements (track building and cube delivery) from the much heavier Age of Steam and grafts them onto a die-selection mechanism (instead of the auction and economy of the earlier game.) As a result, it's far more luck-driven, but you have important decisions about what die to use and how to use it each turn. It was just a little long for what it is for my taste, but other than that it was quite enjoyable. I would cheerfully play it again.
_8_ Jump Drive -- At this point several people left, and with the other table going strong, Bill and I played a pair of short 2-player games. We started with this new (in 2017) Tom Lehmann design. Bill got off to a roaring start and although I managed to fall over the 50-VP finish line on the last turn, he was way ahead.
_8_ San Juan -- We then moved to this much earlier title; one that is very different from Jump Drive, but shares some common ancestry. Unlike the previous game, this one was close all the way, and in fact, I felt that Bill was marginally ahead the whole time. At the end I drew a Guild Hall (for 6VP) and a Palace to edge him out by a single VP. This is not my favorite game in its broad family, as it's a little more tactical than I'd ideally like, but I enjoy it and am happy to play it multiple times each year. In fact, Claire and I have it here in NH and are planning to play it together some evening this week.
_8_ 18CZ -- I'm not sure whether I should count this, since I don't usually count online gaming (yes, I have a part in a number of the Race for the Galaxy games that Larry and Scott have been reporting, but I've not reported them.) However, this was a game conducted entirely by e-mail. I played with the designer, Lonny Orgler, the lead playtester, Ron Novicky, and another player named Richard Ruhl (with an umlaut in the obvious spot; I can't remember how to type them on a Mac.) It was my 6th play of the game (all the rest were face to face) and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. The Kickstarter period is finished, and we're all awaiting the arrival of the production version, but I have a PnP copy I made up for the purpose of play testing. It was a fascinating game: Ron spent every dollar of his cash on privates, and Richard spent enough that he couldn't float a company. This left Lonny and I to do the floating, which is both a benefit and a liability. The benefit is share density; the two Presidents' certificates we bought at the start of the game were among the most valuable pieces of paper at the end (and in this game, the certificate limit is critical not just at the end.) But of course, there's also the obligation to get permanent trains for those companies (or acquire them with larger companies.) Rich played the investor role very well early and then started a medium-sized company that proved to be a great performer, and he won the game by a comfortable margin. I was delighted to have played this game.
Too much watching TV (Netflix mostly) this week. But Hanson and I are caught up on Better Call Saul.
I was somewhat under the weather last weekend, so didn't try to get any gamers over for fun.
I did continue playing Ascension and Race for the Galaxy online as well as keeping up with my Yucata and various Robo____ moves.
Tramways arrived, but I've not cracked the shrink. I read the rules and am thoroughly confused, but may try a solo game when we get back from Origins.
On Saturday, we were at a monthly game day at Mike's house.
_5_ Magic Maze (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Brian, Ken, Mike, and Phil; Brian and Phil had played before. We played the intro scenario. I had a dual role that either moved east or used the escalator. Since Phil also had a move east role, I mostly just used the escalator, and since there weren't that many escalators, I think I ended up watching more than other people. We ended up getting out most of the tiles before we claimed all of the items, but we somehow forgot to get the last exit out. So, we ended up so focused on getting everyone to the exits and forgot to explore the fourth exit and ran out of time.
_8_ Yokohama - This was with me, Anni, and Mike; everyone had played before (but Anni and I hadn't played since we played on the Japanese version at BGG.Con). I established myself in the top right of the board early on, quickly putting my starting two houses on the fish and silk. I made plans to grab a tech card that gave me +2 points per completed contract, but Mike grabbed it the turn before I could. Mike put an early trading house on the copper, so I tried to play the whole game without needing copper. I managed to get some early trade goods from my contracts, so I claimed some of the better customs spots. I seemed to be doing fairly well for most of the game, but I was having trouble getting different countries, and I didn't get any tech cards at all. As the game ended, both Mike and Anni were able to jump ahead of my on the customs board, and Mike also jumped into the Church on the last turn. Mike beat both of us by a lot, and Anni managed to pass me on end game points (I had very few).
_6_ Fleet Wharfside (new!) - This was with me, Anni, and Mike; everyone was new. I had the captain that gave me extra points for shrimp contracts, but that turned out not to matter much. It was hard enough to get contracts that I always ended up taking the cheapest one. I ended up with a bunch of contracts that let me keep a card when I completed a contract early, which was okay I guess. I also made an point of collecting King Crabs early, so I was able to store a bunch. Anni picked up a building early, and then Mike got one, and then it suddenly became expensive (lots of King Crabs), so I knew I wouldn't get one. So, I tried to pick up contracts and end the game as quickly as I could. I wasn't quick enough though, as Mike ended up ending the game. Mike and I actually ended up tied on King Crabs, so neither of us got the bonus. Mike won.
_5_ Too Many Bones (new!) - This was with me Anni, Mike, and Ken; only Mike had played before. I was playing Boomer, and we played the intro scenario. In the first battle I found that I couldn't use all my dice, so I spent some early experience points getting more dexterity. It turns out that it was a bit overkill for that early, but I eventually started getting some of my grenade dice and it stopped being that much of a concern. I was able to get the holy hand grenade fairly early from a loot card, but I also used it early. We also got a ton of trove loot this game, and were really having trouble getting it all open. As the game progressed, I finally got both of my grenade dice, as well as the bigger boom die. I found that, by using these all at once, I could take down even the biggest enemy. Unfortunately, the first time I tried this I used it on a 5-point guy who was a more immediately threat, so it was kind of wasted. We barely survived that battle. Eventually we moved onto the final boss, who unfortunately for me was invulnerable until all of the other bog-type enemies were defeated. So I was to save up for the finishing blow, while everyone else tried to take care of the rest of the dudes. Well, first Mike died, and then Anni died. Ken lasted longer, but in the end, he too died--but in the process he took out the last of the bog-type guys. That was my cue--I unleashed my grenades and ended up being the last man standing, on either team.
THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES
Magic Maze is a real-time cooperative game in which the players are trying to move four pawns to claim the appropriately-colored pieces of equipment, and then leave via the appropriate exits. The pawns all start on a central tile, and all of the other tiles, which possibly contain the equipment or exits, don't come out until they are explored. Each player is given a tile showing a direction or action (such as explore), that player can move any of the pawns only in that direction. Players cannot talk at all during this game, but there is a large totem that you can place in front of a player if you want them to act. The players lose when a sand timer expires, but there are spots on the board that can reset the timer. As someone who likes neither real-time games nor cooperative games, this one really doesn't appeal to me. I find the communications embargos tend to increase awkwardness too. I can see why a lot of people like, though.
Fleet Wharfside is a card game in which players acquire contracts requiring certain types of fish, claim the fish cards, and the complete the contracts for points. Contracts also grant the players special abilities--but only before they are completed. The cost of contracts varies by a random mechanism, but it can be a little frustrating when many of them get stuck at a high cost. King Crab cards can also be claimed like normal fish cards, but those provide points by themselves without contracts. This is a pretty straightforward game, but it didn't really stand out in any one way.
Too Many Bones is a cooperative tactical skirmish game that revolves around rolling custom dice that you've chosen to acquire for your character. Each scenario involves a series of these skirmishes, between which players can spend their experience points to buy new dice that are unique to their characters. Each of the characters plays very differently, as each has a different "tech tree" of dice they can buy, many of which have custom faces that don't show up anywhere else in the game. As this might imply, the game has a ton of rules overhead, and while extensive player aids are available for each player, they tend to omit a few key items which can be pretty frustrating. Scenarios themselves can be extremely long, as they involve many skirmishes, each of which can last upwards of an hour. While I definitely think the game had some nice ideas--I really liked the dice acquisition--on the whole the frustration over rules that were hard to find combined with the length and slogginess of the battles soured me on this one.