Heavy Games on Your Table - July 2017
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Welcome to the July Heavy Games on Your Table Geeklist



Welcome to
Heavy Games on Your Table
July 2017




E The term "Heavy Game" can cover a wide variety of titles. Generally, games featured on these lists are complex Eurogames, 18xx, wargames, and other games that require a significant investment in time or thought.

E Please post entries only for games that you have actually played this month, and include a description of the session, interesting things of note, photos, analysis, etc! The list is designed for more in-depth discussion of heavy games.

E Please subscribe to this thread to be notified when a new GeekList is posted each month!

E If the games on this list interest you, please consider joining the heavy game discussions in the following guilds:
- Heavy Cardboard Podcast Guild
- Deep Cuts Guild.
Heavy Cardboard's Podcast and videos are also great resources.

And if the 18XX games on this list interest you, be sure to check out:
- The Dual Gauge Podcast and Guild

These Podcasts and their guilds also focus on heavy games:
- Punching Cardboard Podcast and Guild
- The Deep End Gaming Podcast and Guild

These Podcasts cover boardgames in general, but feature some heavy games content and coverage that is worth checking out:
- The Good, The Board, and The Ugly Podcast and Guild
- Board Game Blitz Podcast and Guild
- Low Player Count Podcast and Guild


E Please add only one entry per game. If someone else has already added a game you are playing, just add comments!

E After the next month's list is posted, this list will be re-sorted alphabetically to make finding games in each list quicker.

E Any GG donated to the list will be re-distributed to the top few contributors at the end of the month (quality, not just quantity...)

E Thumb the list if you like what you see!
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1. Board Game: Boudicca: The Warrior Queen [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:5475]
Reptillio Jazzdog
United States
York
PA
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While I don't find the rule set for this game to be heavy, I do find the operational play to requires some amount of brain power. Variability in when, and if, various tribe revolt add on-the-fly changes to the conflict. The specter of possibly late-arriving Roman forces from the South add a bit of a gamble to the plans players make. The card driven system of activation makes planning important. You never seem to have enough points to bring your full plans to fruition. When, and if, to engage the enemy is a large consideration. When, and if, you should split your forces (which then requires a larger amount of sparse action points to activate all your stacks).

This all adds up to a moderately heavy game with plenty to consider. High marks.
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2. Board Game: 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:2751]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Only my third 18XX (previous being 1889 and 1817), conveniently spread out with like 2-3 years in between each, so I'm pretty close to a newb. 4 player game, scenario VI, with bonds, but without the Dreamliner option.

The privates auction ended kind of early and I ended up with the "start a major" private and the "+$20 at a port" private, both uncontested. The top company was Green (southeast corner) and as 1849 mandates that majors be started in a random order, I started that one. 2 other players started companies (Orange and Red) and the third player opted to buy shares in our companies and "wait and see" – she would eventually start Blue.

I got out to a quick start, and it would have been quicker if I hadn't made my first newbie error (more to come) and declined to purchase a second 4-train, which I definitely could have run profitably. I did pick it up next turn was was definitely out to an early lead.

The bonds seem to give players a lot more control over the train rush and the other players took advantage of that and rusted my 4s. I took a bond anyway even though my company could afford one of the permanent 10s (newbie error number 2). I then proceeded to withhold several times to get money to buy my companies dumped shares out of the bank, which ended up costing me a fair amount of money (newbie error number 3), and to boot I missed what was in retrospect an obvious tokening opportunity in the city along the middle of the east coast which ended up locking me out of some very valuable territory in the upper right (newbie error number 4).

All of that led to a fairly ignominious 4th place as the player who started in red was able to a) leverage the track I was building along the south coast and b) use the "token any port" private to also leverage what orange was doing up north and c) start a second corporation (yellow) which was almost immediately plugged into some lucrative routes (and use some clever token swapping to benefit both corporations).

In retrospect, aside from the obvious tokening blunder, the lesson I learned is that if everyone else is being forced to withhold / issue bonds to avoid getting ruined by the train rush and I can keep my company paying out, I should really do so. It would have allowed me to bank more money, and probably be able to launch the last corporation, which I could have done the token trading trick with to plug into my fairly lucrative southern network. Not sure if I win that way, but I sure has hell make it more competitive.

Also I need to try to not wait 2-3 years before my next 18xx.
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3. Board Game: EastFront II [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:1261] [Average Rating:8.03 Unranked]
Sam Carroll
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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(Cross-posted from session report in game forums)

Second game with Jim P, one week after the first (learning) game. Jim stayed with the Soviet side, but we took on the Summer '44 scenario, which is almost the mirror image of Summer '42, our last game. Our initial deployment:



I placed my strongest troops (both SS corps, and plenty of armor) in the center, hoping to push south if Jim over-extended himself attacking from his big salient. I also put reasonable strength into Romania, because I was very concerned about losing Ploesti's oil.

As it happened, Jim did attack from the salient on the north side of the Carpathians, pushing towards Krakow; and also in Romania. The north side of the map was quieter, though after a couple of turns I pulled back to Riga and the Daugava River line. He made a lucky roll (1 in 6 odds) for Romanian surrender, which hurt my southern flank, but he wasn't able to exploit much, due to lack of HQ steps in that sector.

I made one really strong counterpunch in this session; I had pushed in and retaken the Pripet Marshes at great cost. Then Jim left a hole in his defenses, and I was able to push four blocks south through his lines and get in the way of his rail supply at Zhitomir, causing supply attrition to about 10 blocks.

He quickly restored supply there and started grinding in the northern sector. Around October he finally pushed me out of Minsk; then as the weather turned snowy he was able to make a devastating blitz which cut off some of my blocks, took Riga, and damaged my Army Group North HQ. The scenario ended with the front stretched from near Konigsberg to the Pripet Marshes, then to the Carpathians and Romania.

In the final scoring, the generous scenario handicap gave me the win, but I think that if the game had gone on to Winter '45, he would have gotten to the western map-edge by February. He hadn't taken that much territory yet, but he had really mauled my army. There were a few meatgrinder-type battles, and given the low Soviet rebuilding costs, attrition heavily favors them. I had lots of blocks in the deadpile or down to one pip. I also think if Jim had pushed harder in Romania early, he could have taken Ploesti and put a big hurt on me that way. (That Ploesti oil penalty sounds very painful!)

I like the scenario; it's a tough one to play as the Germans, but full of interesting problems. It seems like the Germans have only enough strength for one really good counterpunch, using their SS units and saving the good armor, so they need to make it a good one! Jim also enjoyed the game, and wants to play again - maybe changing sides next time.
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4. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:271]
Morten K
Denmark
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When we managed to start up a small train games group locally a couple of months ago there was one of the people in that group that I didn't know in advance because he was very new to playing boardgames. Only 18 months he's played and he's already into 18xx, Splotters etc. He just hasn't played that many yet. So I promised to teach him how to play Roads and Boats. I'm by no means experienced myself either as this was only my third play of it. The first one that wasn't the recommended two-player start setup. We chose another also quite simple and where both ends are identical so he could copy my moves initially to get going.

Last time I played R&B I waited for too long to get more donkeys and never got enough transporters so this time I chose to build the obligatory woodcutter and sawmill and then have the donkey breed twice the niext two rounds so I had more options early. My opponent soon lost his way in the logistical puzzle and ended up building stuff he didn't need and having his donkeys and resources in places they shouldn't be when he needed them somewhere else. For me it was the opposite. Of course I made errors but they were small and I trimmed my engine perfectly so I could both get to where I wanted fairly quickly and have enough resources on my home tile so I could control the speed of the monument building if I wanted to speed it up. Perhaps I should have ended it a bit earlier so as not to trounce my opponent completely - it ended 405-125 points. I talked to him the following day and he said he was still thinking about what to do different the next time so it wasn't as bad as I feared.

The board seen from my opponent's side at the end of the game:

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5. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:218]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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A good start last weekend with a play of Antiquity, probably my favorite game.

Played against 3 new players to Antiquity... and that cost me a defeat.

I trusted in my experience of the game, while 2 of the players went for San Cristofori, the other one went for Santa Maria, as well as I (I always do this when playing with new players).

Tried a strategy of building everything and having all workers with me, never had tried it. And... in the end, I loss for just 1 resource to build the last house.
Never have thought on the space this strategy requires, as you need your 4 cities on the board

Always an amazing game
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6. Board Game: Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:2128]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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Second game of the weekend, and new to me

How to define this game... I'm in love

While the Spartans focused on increasing their army and had some internal fights, Athenians worked better as a team, going for the short objectives and step by step.
The politics worked great for Athens and they got almost all issues all turns with lot of resources. When Spartans saw that this was almost impossible to win... launched a full attack versus Athens, which Athens stopped quite well.
Within Athens, the cooperation was good, but some distractions on the issues selected made the Demagogues to take the lead and win easily inside the team

Played the short scenario, no peace and Athens won in the 5th turn, with the Demagogues really ahead
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7. Board Game: Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:779]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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And now time for a Falling Sky

Played with Aedui versus 3 new players, and once again, the new player won the game.

Arverni did not well and they were almost out of the game, not many warbands, not many control on the map and a bit lost during the game. Belgians made him concentrate on Aedui
Aedui did a good work, spread warbands all over the country and focus on controlling enemy allies while increasing own.
Belgians concentrate on their country, but could grow a bit out of Belgium
Romans started with a crush in their troops, and probably this was the fate of the game. He started to work around Gallia but didn't fought enough

In the end, Belgium won on the second winter, a big victory that no one could stop time ago before winter. Aedui were close enough, but couldn't
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8. Board Game: Arkwright [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:620]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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And last game of the weekend

And once more, one player have played, the others were new.

The only thing I can say about Arkwrigt is... amazing, simply amazing.

Game started with 2 players in all products, but knives with 3. 3 of us focus on 3 of the markets, while the experienced had the timing as his ally and only fought in 2 of them.
As I was playing I was seeing all my mistakes, but this cannot guarantee I wouldn't do them again. As soon as I played the foreman I easily could see that he was on the wrong production, as soon as I got all those workers I saw they weren't on the appropriate factory.

One of the players were fighting against himself, doing a couple of emergency sells. Another one was there but did no damage, I fought until the end, despite all mistakes, with a solid second place and the winner, in this case, was the player who played before

Just impressed how everything works, although it's a heavy game, lot of rules... it flows really well, everything clicks on your head soon, and you start enjoying it since the beginning
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9. Board Game: Pax Renaissance [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:638]
Brian Pierce
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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I apologize again for the lack of pictures in this post. I always get caught up in the gameplay and forget to at least capture a picture of the end-game state.

My friend Steve came over last night for some 2-player Pax Renaissance! Neither of us had ever played before, but we had played Pax Porfiriana the previous week so we were at least both familiar with the multiple victory conditions/changing game state aspects of these types of games. We ended up playing 2 back to back games and I thought I would share a brief summary and my overall feelings about the game.

Game 1:
This was a fast game that ended in only 50 mins. The initial market distribution had no queens and was very heavy on religious wars and peasant revolt one-shots. We both began the game by causing a regime change to grab and early King card. Steve’s was in the East and mine was in the West. Then there was some campaigning to grab other King cards, but we were both fairly even on this front. I did a Jihad to take control of Hungary while Steve was busy running the East trade route for money. Looking at the board we both realized that we were hovering near a religious victory for Islam. Steve has amassed 2 prestige in Islam and due to all of the trade fairs building up black pieces in the East and the Jihad flipping the Hungary card, it was very dominant. All that was missing was a black Bishop out on the tableau cards. Steve purchased a card that would let him place one and was waiting to activate this victory condition later in the game. Fortune went in my favor as a comet card came out that I could purchase. I had amassed a good amount of wealth through trade fairs and tableau ops, and I spent those to grab the comet and active the Renaissance victory (most Republics/Law prestige). Crisis averted for the time being. A bit later in the game it occurred to me that I already had 1 Law prestige to Steve’s 0. If I could just find a way to create a Republic and gain another Law, I could claim victory. On my turn I performed a successful peasant revolt one shot on my own Empire card to create a Republic. Much to my surprise there was a Law prestige on the Republic side! I now had 2 Law prestige to Steve’s 0 and a Republic. Since I had already primed the victory condition on a previous turn, I used my second action to claim a Renaissance victory.

We were both very surprised how quickly the game ended. I think Steve was a bit frustrated that everything ended so quickly. However, the night was still young and the pieces were out so we set up for Game 2!

Game 2:
This game went a bit longer (still ended after only 1 comet card was out) at about 85 mins. The initial market flop had two queen cards in the cheapest slots (one East and one West) and I was the first player. I bought these cards into my hand, thinking that this would be an easy way to grab some quick Empires. Steve again went quite heavy into the East taking over some empires with various one-shots and putting out a lot of trade concessions. My marriages gave me lots of power over by England/France/Portugal, but Steve’s concessions in the East meant that the trade fair money wasn’t coming my way. For that reason I never got a good economy going in the game. Steve was building up the East and raking in the cash, while I was collecting large numbers of Empire cards, but had no real buying power in the market. I think that near the end I had 5 king cards to Steve’s 1, so I was of course hoping for things to work out for a Imperial Victory (most kings). Steve saw it as a lost cause and flipped his King to a Republic with a one-shot to go for the Renaissance victory that won Game 1. However, I had two Law prestige from my tableau cards so it was going to be difficult for him. A comet card came out, but I had no way to afford it! Running trade fairs would get me 1 florin, but give Steve 3-4.

It was about this time that we realized again that Islam was the dominant religion. Much like Game 1, Steve’s constant running of the East trade fair had built up a lot of black pieces in the East. In addition, religious wars had made both Byzantium and Hungary Theocracies. Steve also had a black bishop out in his tableau. Luckily I had one Islam prestige and Steve had one. Crisis averted for the time being. Steve used his wealth to buy the comet card and activate the Holy Victory with plans to try to Campaign and grab a remaining empire card with an Islam prestige on it. I was in full on defensive mode, trying to weaken Islam or get another Bishop out of another color. With no money I was very limited in what I could do, so I spent my turn running tableau ops to Siege and knock down the number of black pieces in Islam Theocracies to temporarily make it lose its dominant status. However, Steve used his tableau ops to Behead my tableau card with my Islam prestige (giving him more than me) and ran his trade fair to put out more black pieces in the East and regain dominance for Islam. I was handcuffed on my final turn due to no income. I ran an unsuccessful campaign to kill off two black knights in the East, as well as ran my ops to Siege again. This took away Islam dominance for the time being, but Steve simply ran the East trade fair (putting out black Levys and reestablishing Islam dominance) and claimed victory on his next turn.

Whew…that was a knife fight. Steve established a strong economic advantage over me with his early game concessions and I was on the defensive the whole game. I collected a ton of King cards, but did not have the buying power to manipulate the comet cards in my favor. While buying the two queens on the first turn seemed like a good idea, I think it hurt me to spend my early capital and only get concessions in the far West where it was difficult to reap the monetary rewards from them. Cards came out to perform Trade Shifts which would have greatly improved my economic situation, but I didn’t have the buying power to get them in the market! Well played by Steve!


Thoughts on the game:
I am a big fan of Pax Profiriana and think it works really well as a 2 player game. When Pax Pamir first came out I bought it sight unseen at Essen, but it fell flat for us at low player counts and I ended up trading it away. My understanding is that it is much better as a larger player count game, but for me it didn’t work as a 2 player game at all. Because of my Pax Pamir experience, I initially passed on Pax Renaissance. However, the recent Heavy Cardboard review piqued my interest again and I grabbed a copy. What can I say, I’m weak willed and it was only $27!

First thing is first….a huge thank you to the Heavy Cardboard team (Ash included) for their two wonderful playthroughs of this game on YouTube. I REALLY think that watching these helped me to learn the rules more quickly. Essentially, I watched the 2 player game and then read the living rules. Then I watched the four player game and then read the living rules again. Then I downloaded some player aids on BGG and reviewed those just before the game. A lot of preparation, but I wanted to be sure that I felt comfortable with the game before trying to play it (particularly since I had to teach it).

We were both actually surprised that we were able to semi-competently play the game from Game 1. Yes the game is opaque, but the actions seem thematic and it wasn’t as impossible to play as I was expecting. Again I think the Heavy Cardboard playthrough really helped us here and there was of course still rules referencing, but it started to feel natural to evaluate the dominant religion, or quickly check if a peasant revolt would work in France, etc. I would say it wasn’t an unapproachable as I feared.

The game can go fast in a 2 player game! I know that some people play with the 3-player set up to prolong things. I didn’t mind the quick game, but Steve commented that our first game felt like it ended before it got started.

The tactical/"find the best move for you currently" feel of Pax Porfiriana is very strongly continued here. In fact, the hand limit of 2 and the way that Trade Fairs also cycle cards in the market make it feel even more strongly tactical. Maybe we aren’t playing optimally, but often our turns were “OK…what kind of trouble can I cause with the cards that are out. I wasn’t planning a Jihad in Hungary, but it is ripe for the taking”. I like this type of play, but I think Steve didn’t fully love the think on your feet aspect of the game and would have preferred a larger overarching strategy.

The game mechanics of paying for cards in the market and the trade fair are wonderful! I really liked this aspect and it made the game economy feel contained and like players could manipulate it. This was very thematic and enjoyable!

I also really like to way that the victory card activation (via comet) cards is handled in this game. It is very cool to prime one of the victory conditions that is now available to all players in the game. There were some times where Steve wanted to buy a comet card to block me, but all of the victory options felt vulnerable. This is a great twist on the Pax Porfiriana mechanic of priming the correct regime for a certain victory to be applicable. Really a cool mechanic and a great game design element!

The 2 actions/turn limit is perfect. You almost always want to do 3+ things and this adds an interesting restrictive element to the game. Coupled with the tight economy players are just constrained enough to have to work for it.

I loved the game and found the two plays fascinating and unique. I was pleasantly surprised that the rules complexity didn’t hamper our enjoyment of the game and that we were able to see the forest through the trees while playing. I also thought that it worked wonderfully as a 2 player game and would highly recommend it at this player count. I have been thinking about these two plays ever since we stopped playing and into this morning which is always a good sign. All I can think about after this write up is how much I would like to play another game!

There are so many subtleties to the game and it feels like the game presents a complex toolbox of options for you to solve problems. In that way, it almost feels like a puzzle to me – a puzzle where you lost the box and don’t know what picture you are building, where new pieces keep being dropped in front of you and other pieces are being taken away, and you aren't quite sure if you are working to put the puzzle together or take it apart.

Steve mentioned that he preferred Pax Porfiriana because he felt a bit more in control of things, but I am a bit torn at the moment. I think I might love them both equally, with Pax Renaissance feeling a bit tighter (tougher economy), quick, and possibly more tactical due to the limited hand size. If I had to choose one right now I would pick Pax Renaissance, but they are both phenomenal games. Thank you to Heavy Cardboard for convincing me to get a copy of this game and for helping me learn to play it!
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10. Board Game: Iberian Gauge [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:6936]
Chris Smith

Cold Spring Harbor
New York
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This was my first year ordering Winsomes, and I lucky to have some friends get together for an evening to try all three. Iberian Gauge with 5 players was first up. As a note, we are all beginners at train games, so I'm confident many of our plays were clearly wrong.

I had tried a 3-player solo game previously to get a feel for the rules and quickly realized how important alliances are in this game. You want other people in your company to speed up builds, and you want multiple companies grouped together to accelerate your income by leasing track.

The first player started Green (the 6-share company) at 20 par in Vigo in the northwest. The second player started Blue (5-shares) at 20 in Valencia in the east.

I went third and decided to buy a share of blue, as it seemed like it would reach additional major cities more quickly than Green. Presumably encouraged by the building power Blue would have with two shareholders, players 4, 5, and 1 bought the remaining shares of Blue, so we ended up evenly invested around the table.

I then proposed to player 2 that he start Purple (3-shares) in Barcelona, and I would buy the second share, and we both could take advantage of Blue's nearby track to accelerate our development. He agreed, starting Purple at 20, and player 4 bought the third and final share, creating the first clear divide in alliances. Players 2, 3 (me), and 4 each had one Blue and one Purple and no cash remaining. Player 5 realized he was somewhat forced into working with player 1 against the three Purple players, so he bought a Green to match 1's holdings.

This opening position seemed to be sufficient to determine the course of the rest of the game. Team Purple implemented our plan of rapid development using Blue's track. Team Green was in a difficult spot, as they didn't want to build track that helped Purple, but Blue still comprised 50% of their income, so they couldn't just waste the company treasury. Meanwhile, as Green was operating solo in the northwest, it lagged in development.

No one had enough for new shares in the second stock round, so we went into the first set of double build rounds with the same holdings. This was enough to put the Green players well behind Purple, enough so that player 5 wanted to stop playing as we entered the 3rd stock round. Obviously I was disappointed as I wanted to see how the Purple players would fight to break the symmetry, but I understood not wanting to go through the motions when you're dead in the water. Also, I don't enjoy playing games when other players are clearly having a bad time, so I agreed that we should call it.

Both the solo game I tried and this game tended towards symmetrical holdings. Since companies with more investors can build (and therefore make money) more rapidly, there seemed to be a snowball effect in that players would pile in to a company until it was sold out. The outcome of our game seemed to partially be a function of how the different company's share counts divided into the number of players.

One thing I was interested in was how lower par values might have affected things, since the $20 pars made it such that no one could afford new shares in the 2nd stock round. I'd like to see how $12 or $16 pars might change how things develop in future games.

Another note is that Purple might have run into cash problems later in the game, as it had expanded rapidly early on, and so it's possible it could have suffered from some stock dings. I think this is one of the effects of the "groupthinkiness" of the game, as everyone sort of built the idea of Purple being ahead without full investigating counterplay (it's still possible that the Purple players were clearly ahead, but I think there were more intricacies to be explored.)

Overall, I enjoyed the game. It's the most viscerally I've experienced alliances in any train game I've played, and I'd like to see more of the ways it can develop.
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11. Board Game: Spirit Island [Average Rating:8.49 Overall Rank:53]
CARL SKUTSCH
United States
New York
New York
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Agricola, Sekigahara, Concordia, Innovation, COOKIE!!! (and Guinness)
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Played a solitaire runthrough of the newly arrived Spirit Island. Only one play, but I was quite impressed.

In the game, you play one or more great spirits defending the island against the evil white man (the pieces of the invaders are white and some of them look like conquistadors). The natives are sorta on your side but require mobilizing. You have magical spirit powers that grow stronger as the game progresses, a process that you guide along paths of your choosing. It's a co-op but plays just fine solitaire (except that I think playing multiple spirits would be very challenging from a brain burn pov).

Each turn is very puzzley as you try to figure out how to deal with the current invader problem (and the problems you can see just over the horizon). The game is thinky with just one simple spirit power; I can only imagine how much more so it gets with multiple powers (and harder opponents).

Invaders pop up like little nasty cockroaches.


Your tools are all these spirit powers. Figuring out how to use them and in what order is key to winning.


In my game, I played "Vital Strength of the Earth" (they all have names like that), which is one of the more straightforward powers. My special power was that I got extra defense if I had 2 presence (spirit tokens) in an area. Using this I was able to keep my lands fairly free of blight (European desecration of the land).

I managed to win just in the nick of time, in the last turn, by sponsoring a native uprising ("Vigor of the breaking dawn") that slaughtered the inhabitants of the last European city. Yay us!

It was fun.
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12. Board Game: 1868 [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Chris Smith

Cold Spring Harbor
New York
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1868 was our next title for the night. We dropped down to core set of 4 more experienced 18xxers for this one. (Note: we are still beginners; by "more experienced" I mean we each have at least a dozen or so plays of titles like 1830, 1870, and 1856.)

I had heard almost nothing about this game going in, so I was mostly playing things by ear and seeing how it went. I started by putting a bid on the most expensive private (Fray Bentos Corned Beef), using the regular 1830 logic of trying to secure the largest embezzlement opportunity. The ability also seemed relatively strong, as the $20 bonus lasted the full game. Player 2 put a bid on the 2nd most expensive private and then also outbid me on the Fray Bentos in the second round, which gave me the option to pass on FB and leave him without enough cash to start a major. I decided not to go down that path, though, as I didn't want to be the only player without private income, and I felt the ability and embezzlement was worth $135.

The immediate downside was that I parred at 67 while the other three companies were at 71, so I was concerned for my track possibilities. Indeed, the other three companies put their cheap tokens (I believe $10 with the immediate-placement discount) in the three cities closest to Montevideo. However, my going last also meant I bought the last 2T and the first 3T, letting me embezzle before everyone else, which is generally a very good thing in other titles I've played (most notably 1830 and 1870).

I didn't realize it at the time, but I also could have started the fifth company (NO/purple) in the second stock round if I was willing to sell some of my first company. While being the only player to control two companies has many advantages, I'm thinking it would not have been correct here, as, in addition to the lost share value from selling my first company, the NO would be starting with minimal capital and would still have to buy a bunch of non-permanent trains. But then again, given that the NO is the only other chance to inject non-player money into the system, maybe the trains would have been slow enough to make it ok? Many questions I don't yet have an answer for!

I instead invested in the other three companies. I brought my usual fear of getting dumped on to this game, but again things get complicated, as people are less likely to bail on their company when there are so few other places to put their capital. I decided to just play it safe and stick with a single share in each of the other companies. While this put me two certs ahead of everyone, it also meant giving myself anti-priority for SR3, which, crucially, is when the NO is a more viable option.

On the board, I secured my route to the Fray Bentos tile and started planning ahead for a 6T run through the two B tiles along the east side of the map. The lack of new companies meant the trains were moving slowly, so I was torn as to whether I should get a 2nd 3T, but eventually decided to do so.

As expected, the player to my left started the NO at 90 in SR3. I really started to feel the "company tightness" of the game, as I had plenty of cash, but no idea where to put it. I mistakenly bought Yellow without realizing the NO would rust Yellow's 2Ts at the top of the next OR, so I then sold and switched over to Blue. However, immediately afterwards the Blue player sold shares of the NO such that it would NOT rust Yellow's trains. It was a mess of an SR for me.

None of us realized this ahead of time--including Blue, who had engineered the whole situation--but another outcome of the NO running later was that Blue was able to steal the second green OO tile, leaving the NO unable to lay its home tile and start running. This is probably the only reason the NO player didn't run away with the whole game. Instead, he decided to sit on his capital for a couple ORs, finally buying the last 4T and the first 5T at the end of OR3.3.

At this point, everyone had vulnerable trains, but no one had much capital, so the endgame became a question of who would be willing to withhold to push the trains and when. I was now trainlocked with my two 3Ts, and my plan was to just pay out and force buy a 6T when the time came. In fact, I almost made it to the bank breaking without having to buy a permanent, but Blue decided to withhold some insane number of times (I think 4?) to buy the first 6T, which both put a large dent in my cash and pushed us to another set of ORs. This gave the game to the NO player, who was able to run two 5Ts and a 4T between his two companies for three additional ORs. I ended up in 3rd with the Blue player in last. 4T's ended up running until the end of the game, and I don't think anyone would have been able to get a diesel without a lot of withholding.

I like this game a lot. Since all of the companies have 5 stations, and the stations are relatively inexpensive, there seems to be a lot of interesting room for fighting over routes. It reminded me a bit of 1870 in that sense (and even a bit like certain aspects of route planning in 1817). My first instinct was that, in the 4-player game, it's a race to be the player with the 2nd company, but I think there are additional considerations, as timing and routes seemed to have an impact on whether the NO is good. I'm also sure it would be very different with more experienced players; I'd like to know if the slower speed of the trains is normal or just a side effect of some of our players being less aggressive.

[Note: I have a couple pictures of the board at the endgame. Does anyone know if it's ok to upload them?]
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13. Board Game: Iberian Railways [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:8456]
Chris Smith

Cold Spring Harbor
New York
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We ended the night with 4-player Iberian Railways, the same 4 who played 1868. This was a good choice for the end of the evening, as it has a bit more of a "mellow feel," as one player put it. I think, for him, the game felt like an opportunity to concentrate on the experience of running your own company without constantly being at each other's throats. I personally think there's still opportunities for interaction, but I can see where he's coming from.

I went third in this game, and as such found myself starting in the south of Madrid with worse expansion prospects than the first two players. So, I decided to go for the Lisbon business interest and get ahead in income early. As the first to buy a business interest card, I also set myself up for staying in competition for the associated VP, and I spent the rest of the game trying to stay at least tied for first for BI cards.

While I was ahead on income, I wasn't really in contention for any of the route VPs (track length/most of a given city type). Fortunately, having that extra income gave me flexibility, and I saw an opportunity in the last turn to steal the most towns VP away from someone, giving me a comfortable lead.

gamerthrowaway_ said on reddit that his wife called IR "Paris Connection: The Euro," and I can see the idea of it having a euro-gamey feel. I could also see how that might make it feel like it has less strategic depth than more cutthroat train games. However, I certainly wouldn't make that judgment without a lot more experience with the game. But I definitely found the process of playing--managing my debt, balancing income with VP considerations--to have a satisfying feel, and I will be looking to play it more.
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14. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:562]
Bleicher
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
MG
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Last month I had the wonderful opportunity of playing with legendary 1846 players Eric Brosius and Joe Huber, a night I described here.
After the amazement of seeing a 1846 being played in a couple of hours, having bought a set of poker chips (those Great Walls - thanks, Rebecca!) and learning how to use Joe Huber's spreadsheet, I couldn't wait to reproduce it on my place - and I finally had the chance to put 1846 back on the table this week.
From the other three in the game, Marcelo and Flávio have played before, while it was Leidiane's first game (she had played Poseidon many times, but it was more than a year ago).

Marcelo opened IC, Leidiane went for the Grand Trunk, I got B&O, Flávio opened NYC. I can't remember the exact private distribution, but I remember I had the Steam Boat company (which was the reason I went for B&O) and the Michigan Southern, Flávio had the Big 4 and Marcelo had the Mail Contract. Most of us started our companies in the medium-upper range (80-100), except for Marcelo who started IC at only 60.

After making some money with MS it was bought by B&O, so that in phase II I controled a healthy company with three 2-trains (one of them the original one from MS) and a 4, which were paying big dividends. They wouldn't let me get away with that for long of course, so we quickly entered phase III, but at least I could get a last run with two of those 2s and still get some money. Also, nobody besides me got B&O shares in the first two stock rounds, meaning not only I was the only one getting those fat early dividends, but also that the company itself got a good capital from its unsold shares, and so it was no big deal to pay for later trains. There was a bit of a fight to get to Chicago as Marcelo's plans for IC were cut short from NYC getting there first as Flávio had the Big 4.

Then Flávio opened Erie which could easily join the network and pay good dividends in the later game, but he struggled a bit to get trains for both companies - in the endgame Erie was the company paying less per share, even less than Cheasapeake and Ohio which I decided to open in the very end simply to stir the pot, selling some shares from companies I didn't want to be sold out and making sure that was the case for B&O (it was not a great idea for the others to mirror that move since B&O was paying 81/share in the end, topped only by Grand Trunk at 84), but still that didn't made me win the game - Marcelo, who invested in virtually all companies (and was getting a lot of cash from all the IC shares he bought when they were cheap), was first with a 5967 net worth, I came second with 5068, then Leidiane at 5050 and Flávio at 4119.

As always, the game was an amazing experience everybody enjoyed - the only downside is that it was still a long game, lasting about 5h, which I believe may be partially because we are still not rushing the trains as much as possible (although it was definitely more than in our first plays) but, more importantly, the fact that two of my most AP-prone gaming partners were on the table.

And once again the players involved were texting each other discussing what could have been done differently, and what other strategies we could have explored. It is not my first choice for a regular gaming night yet, as we are still too slow, but it is definitely among my favorite games already.
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15. Board Game: Poseidon [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1331]
Brian Pierce
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Another very long game report from me. It turns out that I am a bit verbose

I picked up a copy of Poseidon in a trade last week and I got it to the table for a 2 player game last night. My only previous introduction to 18xx games was with 1889. I very much enjoyed 1889, but didn’t have the opportunity to get it to the table often. Having just relocated back to my hometown, I have been gradually introducing my friends into hobby board gaming. For most of them it is a slow process, but one friend has really latched on to the hobby. He has only been playing games for a few months but has already tackled titles like Pax Renaissance/Porfiriana. I have been eager to introduce him to 18xx games and when I saw Poseidon pop up in an auction for a low price I thought why not try this one.

For those not aware, Poseidon is a 2010 title from Helmut Ohley and Lonny Orgler put out by Lookout Games. I don’t know the entire history of the game's development, but I imagine the origins of the game were something like “If only heavy euro gamers would try out 18xx games I really think they would like them. I have an idea! What if we hid the train theme, gave them chunky wooden bits, and simplified some aspects of the game to help get them into the system? What themes do euro gamers like? Shipping in the Mediterranean? Sounds like a plan!”

The game:
A picture of the end game board is below. In the end, Steve was operating 4 countries (Red, Orange, Purple, and Blue) and I was operating 2 (Yellow and Grey). Steve ran two of his countries (Purple and Blue) as shell countries that only existed to give ships to his more profitable countries. At game end Steve had $2475 from stock and $1675 cash. I had $2430 from stock and $2036 from cash. That gave me a victory with $4466 to $4150! A fairly close game and one that Steve appeared to be winning for most of the game. My final stock round and operating rounds were very strong and that allowed me to pull out the win.


End game board. As you can see, purple and blue issued quite a few shares to get money into their coffers to help buy ships.

What did I think:
So essentially, Poseidon is a rethemed 18xx game with some simplified aspects for new players. I’m not experienced as an 18xx gamer at all, but some aspects of “simplification” that caught my eye are:
One dimensional stock market
Companies can’t really be “tokened out” of their route, but can be deprived of maximal income.
Initial private company auction is replaced by a simple “buy for this price” market round. No estimation of value required by players.

First thing is first, the theme makes very little sense. This isn’t a huge deal for me, but I think that by retheming the game the designers actually made it harder to understand why certain things are happening. Stock shares are “merchant licenses”, president certificates are “king cards”, stock values are “prestige”. For almost the entire game we just referred to things as shares, etc. since trying to justify the theme isn’t worth the trouble. Why does the businessman that controls the most merchant licenses become the king of the nation? Again, this isn’t a big deal for me, but it is quite obvious that all of the mechanics were built around a different theme and a new one was pasted on top.

Some interesting aspects of the game that I enjoyed:
When a country (i.e. company) is started, the initiator selects the stock value and how many shares to issue of the stock. They are forced to buy at least 50%. So I could start blue at a share price of $100 with 9 shares. This gives $900 to the company and would require me to buy 5 shares for $500. Instead I could start blue at a share price of $60 with 5 shares. This gives to company only $300 and I could buy out all shares of the company for $300. In the previous 18xx games I have seen, the number of stock certificates is fixed and this freedom seemed to provide lots of opportunity (to screw up!) early in the game.

A country’s route is built in a unique way, by sending a “discovery ship” around the board to place down trading posts (thick wooden discs to show you can earn income from that space). This ship helps you build your routes and the distance it can travel is dictated by what ships (i.e. trains) have been purchased in the game. This was fairly unique and led to some interesting decisions. This means there is no track in this game. Players are just trying to build these trading posts to allow them to profit from a space on the board.

The Special Powers (i.e. privates) provide income each round or can be cashed in once for a special power. This may not be unique to this game, but it provided some interesting timing decisions as well.

There is no “breaking the bank”. The game is played in a fixed number of rounds. I suppose this makes planning easier for newer players to this system.

The wooden discs that countries place out as trading posts are the same discs that represent company shares. Each country only has access to 18-22 of these, so there is an interesting balance between putting out lots of trading posts (to reach maximal income) vs. issuing lots of shares (to allow the company to buy better ships and allow more stock to be owned).

The ship rush (i.e. “train rush”) felt fast paced and the threat of ships rotting (i.e. “rusting”) was real. I enjoyed this aspect and I think the ships removed for a 2 player game provided a very nice balance. We hit the E-ships (i.e. “Diesel trains”) right near the end and got 2-3 operations out of them. Seemed like perfect timing.

Some things I didn’t enjoy:
The 1D stock market was a bit too basic for my tastes. In particular, a country whose prestige (i.e. stock value) is at the bottom will just bump against the left end of the track and not decrease. I don’t think this is unique to this game, but because there are no par prices and the company can be started at this low price means there is no risk associated with this.

If the king of a country (i.e. “the president”) sells shares, the value goes down. However, they can also buy these shares back later in that stock round. This usually doesn’t make much financial sense (unless you dump a ton of shares and buy back a lot again), but it just felt too gamey.

On an operating round, a country can either A) run a route and pay out money to share holders (increasing stock price) or B) Not run and earn a fixed amount of money to the country’s coffers. I much preferred the system I saw in 1889 where the company decided to either pay out the income from their run or retain their income. It didn’t feel right that a strong company with a very profitable run would not pay out and earn the exact same amount as a shell company that had no valuable run at all.

Going along with the previous point, withholding doesn’t decrease the value of a company’s stock. I would have rather seen this happen.

Overall we both really enjoyed the game. I think it is a very good introduction to many of the 18xx concepts. It provides the ability to play around a bit with stocks and shifting money between countries. It allows you to experience the ship rush. It introduces route building and the idea of placing tokens. I enjoyed 1889 more and I don’t think this is the best way to introduce 18xx games to a new player, but it is a solid way to do it. The game was clearly made for someone that is interested in this type of game but would rather look at a board full of colorful wooden pieces than just a spreadsheet. For example my wife played 1889 with me and enjoyed it, but hasn’t agreed to do it again due to the time and the poor quality print and play components. However, she thought this game looked much better on the table and would probably be more likely to play it. I also thought it worked very well as a 2 player 18xx game. Like all of these games, it would be better with more but it certainly was enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate to play this at this count. I’m glad I bought the game as it fills a very unique niche in my collection (i.e. introduce 18xx concepts in a colorful, fairly short playing euro game that plays well across multiple player counts). It was successful at its goal since Steve expressed real interest in stepping up into the more complex train games next! We also spent at least 30 mins after the game discussing strategy, key points in the games, etc. which is always a great sign after playing a game!
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16. Board Game: Fields of Despair: France 1914-1918 [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:2636]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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Played this one last Wednesday (have a couple of pictures, but they are on my mobile).

First of all, the game is amazing, the rules are not so complicated and the bluff is something I really love.
I like also the representation of the Eastern Front and the Naval Warfare, although they are a bit abstracted, the feeling that something is happening is there.

We started the first scenario, me as the Central Powers, with the option to continue after turn 3, but, this was not necessary.

Central Powers started with a quite good movement over Belgium, taking a couple of hexes and prepared to continue the battle against the other 2 fortresses later (on of those was really damaged).
The movement was good, the positioning on the first action phase of turn 1 was good for the Central Powers - a strong army on the north while keeping the Ally player confused in the south. The fear on his eyes were perfect for my plans.

Started the second turn and everything looked fine, Central Powers Army started to break the center of Allied ones, while keeping the bluff on the south and strong position on the north. Aviation working at full capacity and Artillery doing pretty well but...

Why didn't someone tell the Commander that Belgium was still there? Forgot totally about that, so the Ally entered without opposition (no problem yet) and some supply lines were cut (neither here either). Ally started to raise north from the south of the map, and the Central Powers focused on reaching Paris

In the end, the idea of the Central Powers was a good one, sacrifice some points on the south while going for Paris, but forgotten Belgium was something that someone must pay for.
Game finished on turn 2 with Ally having more than 6 VPs than Central Powers

Just can say that I am willing to play this again as soon as possible
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17. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:180]
Bryan Carpenter
United Kingdom
Haverhill
Suffolk
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I got to play this at the end of the month with two of my 'heavy gamer' friends. It was a get together to celebrate a couple of up-coming 40ths so this was a very chilled game with plenty of beers, crisps, toilet breaks and just occasional chats slowing up the game. It took us 3hrs 20mins to play the game where we normally take 1.5 - 2 hrs to play. We had added in the Festival Season expansion so I'll blame that!

I had a dreadful game. Year 1 went OK and I felt like things were going OK. Due to taking a vampire early and using Plague as a trap during the fighting I got near to the Paladin mark without quite reaching it - which is how I often like to play. I end up with the tougher heroes (the others were fighting over who could be the nicest) but hopefully I can deal with that.

Year 2 everything went pear-shaped for me. During one round I used the unique opportunity space to pick up an expert Elderbeast. I had to pay wages again before the end of the year and hadn't budgeted the surcharge for him (it was 1 gold and I had none). So that was a complete waste. I had also attracted the Paladin which I planned to use the Elderbeast to take care of, obviously that didn't happen! All my plans turned to dust and I finished the game with 1 point. To be honest, I was happy with a positive score!



As for the others: 'P' had been pursuing a traps strategy having got hold of the trap workshop early. He then followed that up with the labyrinth room that allows players to use two traps and one monster. He had no problems with the year 2 fight.

'M' had been trying to stay the least evil, however late in year 2 he gave up on that and crept up the Evilometer. He eventually tied with me and earned himself the second Paladin. This rather messed his plans up and he struggled too.

'P' won comfortably with a score of 31. 'M' finished on 11 and I was last on 1.

It was a fun game. We got a couple of rules wrong because we hadn't played for over 6 months but that didn't matter as this night was about friends catching up. And we caught up over a game of Dungeon Lords!

I always forget how much table the game takes up!

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18. Board Game: A Feast for Odin [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:31]
Scott Daniel
United States
San Diego
California
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Played this at local convention. It's the first time I've played an Uwe Rosenberg game. Played with one other beginner and someone familiar with the game. As expected, the familiar player ran away with it.

Very intriguing, there's a lot going here. I focused on just a few types of the actions that were suggested by my occupation. I'm intrigued enough that I'd happily play again, but not confident that I could get it to the table regularly enough to actually buy it. I hope to play it again at another convention.
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