GCL Amoeba 333 - Dripping with Theme! (2017-7-24)
Jason
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Irvine
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

Visitors are welcome and encouraged to post constructive comments, but please leave posting new items to the members. We're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) For more info on GCL and the Amoebas, please use the links above.

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


In this weeks discussion, we dive into "Theme" and its roll in your board gaming life!
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1. Board Game: This War of Mine: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:164]
Jason
United States
Irvine
California
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Are there games you have enjoyed not so much because of the mechanisms, but more so just because of the theme? Are you able to like a game solely based on theme?
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2. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:16]
Jason
United States
Irvine
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Is it possible for you to absolutely love a game without any type of theme? In general, do your top 10 favorite games have theme's that you find interesting?
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3. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:89]
Jason
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Irvine
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Have you ever lost yourself within the theme of a boardgame (like you might in that of a TV Show / Video game / Movie)?
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4. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:40]
Jason
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Irvine
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What are some of your favorite games that are very thematic? What about them makes them so thematic?
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5. Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:23] [Average Rating:8.18 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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1 x _9_Suburbia
1 x _8_Splendor
1 x _8_Imperial Settlers
4 x _8_Hero Realms
1 x _8_Yokohama
1 x _7_Kingdomino
1 x _7_Twenty One
1 x _7_Mansions of Madness: Second Edition (new!)
1 x _6_Terra Mystica

This is quite fitting with this week's list theme! We played the shortest scenario of Mansions of Madness last week and yeah, that's something that's definitely dripping with theme. Not my kind of game, really, but it was interesting to try, if not for other reasons but to see the app GM in action.

It worked really quite well. The other players had played before, so I was given very minimal introduction to rules ("you've got two actions: either move up to two steps or interact with something"), and off we went. It was easy, smooth and interesting.

Not very true to theme, though - I think Lovecraftian horror should not be about close combat with monsters. When my character beat up a Deep One unarmed, instead of being afraid or going crazy, that's just not believable to me. With monsters running around and the place being set on fire, it seemed a bit... slapstick, I guess, to me. Definitely more funny than scary.

But the app works, and makes playing the game smooth. I'm somewhat worried about the longevity - I do have games that are decades old in my collection, and they're perfectly playable. How long is an app-based game playable?

Yokohama was my first go with more than two players, and I'm quite happy: it worked well, and I managed a clear victory. This pick up and delivery stuff is a nice change from tired, old worker placement.

Splendor was added to the Fifty by Fifty by Mikko Saari. Hero Realms will make the list this week, it's two plays from being listed.

I'm clearly warming up to Terra Mystica: I already raised my rating from 5 to 6.
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6. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:76]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 9   Crokinole x2

The other team had an off night and my team won easily both times.

 8   Arboretum

Such a taxing/thinky little card game that really caused one AP friend to be stressed out.

 8   Bärenpark

Another play with one player new to the game. Four player.

 8   First Class

It was fun to get this back to the table after a several month hiatus. The others were new so I won fairly easily although one person had a heckuva final scoring round where he scored 130 of his 134 points!

 8   Gloomhaven

We won the pressure plate scenario without too much trouble despite the new characters. I think we've figured out how to work this new party group. The bard is a really interesting character.

 8   Schrille Stille

This is just fun. There's a lot of randomness/luck in the game, but I find it charming. The wooden record player helps with theme and the play off of old rock band names is comical!

 7   Capital Lux

Taught this to three new people and everyone enjoyed it. This is a fun filler.

 7   Fields of Green

I was amused to see one new player talk about how complex this game is when it really is fairly simple. He also complained about lack of money after I said before the game started that money usually isn't much of an issue as long as you build an economy (which he didn't).

 7   Orléans: Deluxe Edition

Four of us played the cooperative module of the game and we lost by one knight. One frickin knight when two of us couldn't draw another in the final turn. It looked highly unlikely we'd even be close to winning at one point, but things almost worked out in the end. It is a very different beast to play this cooperatively.

 6   Pit Crew NEW!

This one was fun. Most likely best with 6 or 9 players, this real time game is interesting. Might end up picking it up to play with my student leader team.

 5   Pandemic: The Cure

We won fairly easily.

 N/A   Battle For Souls NEW!

Not one we'd likely need to play again. It was an interesting team game where we missed a rule that would have made the game move along much faster (sadly). It is an interesting tug of war, but I'm not overly fond of the theme.

 N/A   DIG NEW!

One of the tiny games that comes in a kit. Don't need to play again. Most of those games I have little interest in playing as they are super light and often don't feel developed to a solid final product. I also don't care for the tiny card size.
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7. Board Game: Rivets [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:5804]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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2x _6.25_ Santorini
2x _5.75_ Dice Forge
1x _7.00_ Unlock! The Elite
1x _7.00_ Pax Pamir
1x _6.50_ Flip City: Wilderness
1x _6.25_ Chemistry Fluxx
1x _6.25_ Math Fluxx
1x _5.75_ Mint Works
1x _5.75_ Dungeon Roll
1x _5.50_ Evolution: The Beginning
1x _5.25_ Obscura Tempora
1x _5.00_ Tokaido
1x _5.00_ My Dwarves Fly
1x _5.00_ Zauberschwert & Drachenei
1x _5.00_ Rivets
1x _3.00_ Final Fantasy IX Tetra Master Card game

I picked the title item not so much because of its gameplay, but because we finally got it of the unplayed list. And it's quite entertaining as well, though it does show its age.

I jumped onto the bandwagon and got ourselves a copy of Dice Forge. Quite interesting, though I'm not sure if it has enough repeat plays in it. It's a bit clunky (especially with 2), as everyone rolls their dice at the start of any player's turn.

We also got the new Flip City: Wilderness, and B. was confused as on what to do in order to win with these cards. I'm not sure I like the market card (that let's you remove a card from your deck); it seemed to powerful in getting rid of your sad faces.

Also two new Fluxxes: Chemistry was ok I guess, but the Math one was a bit weird. Gotta give that one a go again later as I had a winning combo in my starting hand to win on turn two.

Tokaido remains a nicely sedate game. THough I like the second expansion too .

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8. Board Game: Combat Commander: Mediterranean [Average Rating:8.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.52 Unranked]
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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A busy gaming weekend for me. One of my friends had a hall pass weekend, so he and 2 other friends took off Friday from work. Since my schedule is mostly my own, I did, too, and we planned a gaming weekend. Friday was
Gloomhaven day, as we are all in a campaign. We made it through 4 sessions in about 14 hours (with breaks) and are starting to get pretty competent, although my attempts to die keep failing (to do my personal quest, I have to get exhausted 12 times).

Saturday was only 3 of us, and we were going to do a bunch of games...which turned out to be 3. We started with This War of Mine: The Board Game which is a bleak, depressing game where people do horrible things. And it's pretty fascinating. We played 3 days, and will probably pick up where we left off, although I'm really not sure we are equipped to survive well (we just barely survived one encounter). Still, the theme shows through on this one.

We then played Innovation Deluxe with the Innovation: Cities of Destiny expansion. We had all played the base game before, none of us had played CoD. It was interesting. One player didn't like it (he thinks all the expansions muck up a fine base game, and I even partially agree). I thought we probably didn't use the Endorse power enough. It does create some odd complications. I want to try it more.

Then we played a 20 point game of Xia: Legends of a Drift System with all of the goodies from Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star. All 3 of us really like this game and this was a wild one. One of the players rolled 4 20s, 3 in close succession! and looked to be running away with it until his ship blew up in a debris field (he went through a karmic series of bad rolls at that point). None of the others of us rolled even 1 20, and he was not using the game die, so of course we accused him of a weighted die. I was getting points with missions and relics (and bears, oh, my...no, wait, no bears) and later, becoming an outlaw and blowing up people, although my main target seemed to be the scoundrel. In the end, it ended up something like 20-16-15, and the last 10 points went quick. A pretty long game, and we all had a blast.

Sunday was VASSAL day, as I played my 1st game of Combat Commander: Mediterranean in a couple of years, for a tournament. My rust showed early on, as I made some really bad set-up choices that put me behind the 8 ball. However, lots of things started to happen in my favor and it looked like I might pull off the upset victory...and time was against me, and I fell just short. Playing it reminded me what a great game this was, and I look to play it much sooner than 2 years from now!

Then a buddy of mine and I hooked up to play 3 intro scenarios from Silver Bayonet: The First Team in Vietnam, 1965 (25th Anniversary Edition). The scenarios were tiny, and they served their purpose to get us used to the mechanics. We're scheduled to delve more deeply into it next weekend.

Finally, at night, I finished up a scenario of Panzer Grenadier: Korean War – Counter Attack, mostly because my cleaning people are in today (they arrived as I was typing this) and they tend to mess up games in progress!

All in all, a solid 4 days of gaming, and great fun.
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9. Board Game: 1825 Unit 3 [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:3590] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
JR
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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2017-07-22

1825 Unit 3 thumbsup

Lacking a full table until next weekend but having a free weekend off, MN and I had a quick 2-player bout in Scotland over a game of 1825 Unit 3 straight up, no extras except the optional halt tile(s).

MN was put in the position to buy the 3rd private company, so I started the Caledonian, he the NBR. We each bought up our own companies and got rolling.

The early game was unusual as I hemmed myself into a position where I really needed green tiles to grow but I didn't have routes to run more trains and Michael had little to do with them himself. If he didn't buy the 3T, then I would have sold a few Cals to start the GSWR but he talked himself into buying the 3T (rather than sitting on a single 2T) and while it opened things up for him, it also opened things up for me. I didn't try to manipulate him into it, but I am still not sure whether he would have been any better off not buying the 3T because he'd still be earning almost nothing with the NBR and I'd then fire up GSWR and have it working with Cal in tandem.

Anyway, the game moved toward a blowout as I managed to isolate some good early cheap 3-Trains (they are so so good) and then then icing on the cake was when I did a retain and took the sole 5-train away which left him unable to buy it and having to settle for a less attractive U3 or 3T train.

The minor companies add some interesting decision points to this unit such that I always prefer to play it over Unit 1. Next time we dig this out I think a 2+3 set will be in order.


1851: Kentucky & Tennessee thumbsup

I wrapped up an email-based game of 1851 played with a few Canadian players I met while I was at the Hattanooga gaming convention in May. Alex started strong with the L&N presidency, buying an army of 4-trains. Marc and I were unable to keep pace with him because our less wealthy companies couldn't run through to the 4s fast enough and once we did, we had set up the L&N to then get into the early permanents. Marc made an error on selecting his second company and might have handed me second place for it, but either way it looked like Alex had a tidy game put together from early on.


Coming Up

Our next local game day is set for this Saturday as we will be teaching a brand new player his first 18XX game. We're going to play 1846: The Race for the Midwest so that MN can table his new GMT copy for the first time. Hopefully it will be a smooth first experience for the new player and we'll see him return in August...
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10. Board Game: Weekend [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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 N/A   Wits & Wagers Party NEW! Party doesn't improve a game that I am not crazy about to start with.
 9   Camel Up always fun we had a mostly non-gamer rookie among the seven/
 6.5   Arctic Scavengers This rating may be too high.
 N/A   Potato Man Three player game with one newbie, I really have to find a real copy of this.
 9   Orléans
 N/A   Mystic Vale This worked well two player.
 10   Mottainai My favorite game of the weekend.
 7   Metro We had a new to us player (colleague of my son's) who I think enjoyed the experience.
 N/A   Medici: The Card Game It works with five as well as with two and three.
 N/A   Karuba Also worked two player, but even with reduced opponents, I still have a perfect record.
 N/A   Jump Drive x2 Ken hadn't played this yet and had fun.
 9.5   Innovation x3 Finally got to break out my new deluxe edition. We did one with the base set and two with Echoes.
 9   Greed Still may be my favorite Vaccarino.
 N/A   Completto We closed with this one, it's a nice Rack-o variant.
 8   Between Two Cities Still fun with large groups, but want to check out the expansion.
 7   Magic: The Gathering x4 Hanson had picked up a couple of the pre-release packs and we did this Sunday.


 N/A   Iberian Gauge NEW! My only new one this week, from the Winsome Essen set. It was fun, but hard to get our heads wrapped around. I really think it may be better with more than three. We all had shares of all six companies (3-6 shares in each company) which made it weird. So if the shares split 1/1/2, with one, do you try to sabotage completely, or just steer it towards a company that you like better so you can transfer funds. It was fun and I hope to try it again, but afraid it may take more plays than my group will give it to truly appreciate it.
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11. Board Game: Burgle Bros. [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:193]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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All games on the iPad this week...although many of the Burgle Bros games were with Caleb.


8.0  Burgle Bros. x10

Playing the beta version of the iOS app and helping find all the bugs. We've found a few, but C and I have been enjoying it on the iPad. The walls are always randomized...and we've encountered some brutal setups

7.0  Race for the Galaxy x2

Couple more plays on the iPad.


PnP - almost finished with my copy of Founders of Gloomhaven...hoping to give it a play in about 2 weeks at the next game night, but we'll see.

Acquisitions - Picked up Pictomania on a low, spur of the moment bid that apparently won in a recent auction...I'll have to take it along to the junior high retreat this weekend and see if the kids have any interest
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12. Board Game: 18EU [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:2353]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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I'm at WBC this week and will report on thise games in a future list, but here are 3 pre-WBC plays:

8  18EU -- Joe Huber wanted to get a play of this in on Monday, and 3 of us assented. My mistake this game was not connecting my Paris(N) minor with my Bruxelles minor, and it took way too long to fix that. (We used the variant.)

8  Jump Drive x2 -- After the 18EU game, we played two quick games of this favorite 2017 filler.
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13. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:47]
Jason
United States
Irvine
California
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8.0  Race for the Galaxy
5.0  City Tycoon

Acquisitions:
The Lost Expedition
The Fox in the Forest
Lignum (second edition)
Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides

On Tap (Going to try to get played this week):
thumbsup The Fox in the Forest
thumbsup The Lost Expedition
thumbsup First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet
thumbsup DiceBot MegaFun

Not a whole lot of gaming last week, but I do plan to get in more this week. Haven't played City Tycoon in 3.5 years, and while I remember enjoying it last time, this play didn't get me very excited about it. The drafting just isn't as exciting as drafting in other games, and while there are some combos you can create, there just isn't enough there to be a game that I would want to play often.

Got in an actual "real" play of Race for the galaxy Arc #1 (with no take overs), and it was fun. The app is cool cause it takes care of a lot of stuff for you, but I still really like playing in person better.

Really looking forward to getting First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet played this week (although it almost got trumped by The Godfather: Corleone's Empire... but it looks like it won't be here in time for Game night).
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14. Board Game: 1889: History of Shikoku Railways [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:1151]
United States
Seattle
Washington
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We've all been there, unable to unlock a game's potential due to inexperienced opponents. We optimistically tell ourselves that at least we have the basics down for when we play it again, but when that time comes, noobs again! Oi!

This has happened to me with1889: History of Shikoku Railways. Because it's a good beginner title, I seem to have only played it while teaching or with inexperienced players. 1889 is super subtle, so even a semi-experienced player can add randomness that makes it hard for me to extract credible data from. It was nagging at me to resolve.

Finally, I'm glad to report that I played 1889 last week with two players with over 20 years 18xx experience apiece, Anthony and James, and both had played 1889 before (I had more recent experience with the title though). Whee!

I also happen to know both of players really well and was able to predict their opening strategies. James would be the investor and Anthony would try to efficiently run a healthy company. I countered this by parring the Iyo as high as I could, $75 to limit how many James could get, and cross investing in Anthony. James held on to my shares for four ORs! I had made the Iyo too good to sell with two tight cities pointing into the off-board at F1, at least that was his rationale at the time. Anthony had the pink company and two 2Ts. Anthony's second company was the brown on the west, Uwajima, which irritated me because I had laid friendly track towards it, hoping to get it myself. I couldn't let Anthony's companies prosper, he is just too skilled a player, so I started the green company in the south, Takamatsu, and set out to be a bad neighbor.

The following OR speculated that James, operating after me, would buy the last 4T, train locking both of his companies (Senuki and Awa in east). Anthony was already train locked. Based on this wager, I moved money between the Iyo and Takamtsu for one 4T,some expensive tile lays, a token blocking Anthony's Uwajima from hitting the northern off-board, F1, and a 5T in each of my companies. And it worked. Here is a potato pic at the end of that OR set.


Pretty blurry, so below is from the following OR set:


Laying the K in F3 facing west, and double tokening E2 and F3 was my favorite play of the game. The track lays might have hurt me too under different circumstances, but I knew that I would have two 5Ts and not need long routes.

The game ended with the bank breaking. A Diesel was never bought, although I considered it. I won, but Anthony was only $200 behind me, and James $200 behind him.

And that's all I played last week. I got a new adult cat that is quite fractious, and that took up a lot of free time.
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