Heavy Games on Your Table - August 2017
Bleicher
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Welcome to
Heavy Games on Your Table
August 2017





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.

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.

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

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


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

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

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...)

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1. Board Game: Lignum (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:1724]
Board Game: Lignum (Second Edition)
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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I finally broke out my copy of this a few nights ago. I'd played a game of the first edition last October, and none of the other players in this game had played it at all. It was a four player game and we played with the included expansion, the joiners and buildings. I won with $95, two other players were in the low to mid 70s (I want to say $75 and $73), and the fourth had $66. The first winter card required three firewood and six food, and the second required nine of each. We played with the variant where you choose the area in which you log in the order that you finished the previous round, rather than simultaneously.

The first round I set up a planned work for the second round to get six pieces of timber from sawing one firewood, and I just collected saws and firewood at my log pile. This left me pretty low on money for the second round since I didn't sell anything, so I took out a loan, and I think it ended up paying off since I managed to saw three firewood that turn for 18 milled firewood. I put four in my wood pile (so then I'd only need two full firewood for next winter's nine), left four back to dry, and sold the other ten, plus an unmilled softwood I'd picked up that turn for $14 which set me up well for the rest of the game. I also got a joiner in that second round so I'd have some money coming in, and I finished a cabin that round, which made doing all of the sawing much easier.

One opponent got an early task and was working toward that, and he also took the planned work to get a free hardwood in the winter. Another was collecting rafts and took the planned work that got him two food per rafted wood. He also had the building that let him carry over food. But unfortunately when the Fall came, he forgot to get an extra bearer, which he needed because he hadn't done any of his firewood yet, so he decided that his best move was to not use his planned raft action and just plan to do it again later. I don't really remember specifically what the fourth player was up to. I'd had my eye on a particular task and so in the fall I picked it up and started planning for how much drying was needed.

We also all used our "3" planned work tokens here, as it was the last chance to do a non-winter one. I had collected a raft or two at this point, so I put mine on the one that gave me food for setting up rafts, as did the player who missed his first shot at doing so. Winter went pretty uneventfully, with me taking a hardwood for my freebie and using my guy to take two firewood. At this point, if I wanted a big raft I needed to just collect a ton of firewood to raft over.

In the following year, everyone was working on their tasks and the guy who got his first one early was already up to three of them, with all three looking like they'd easily be completed. I got worried and took a second one, one that needed two hardwood. This basically made it so I couldn't take a third because it would be too tight on hardwood, but I figured that wouldn't be a big deal. But all three of the other players ended up taking and completing three tasks, where I only finished my two.

But I got my two done and got a second joiner and gave them both milled lumber, I think I was the only person to actually give a joiner anything. I also picked up the joinery for a quick two extra points, and the building that lets you sell excess food for $1 each at the market, since I had extra food from my rafting planned action and picking up other incidental food here and there. I think I managed to sell like seven food with it.

I knew I'd need that last free hardwood before winter, which meant I'd need a sleigh to transport it and a cabin worker so I could transport and saw on the same turn, so those were the goals I was working toward. One other player took the planned work to make a cabin at a discount for the last fall, and managed to finish off two, a full and a discounted one, for five tokens. I feel like I barely managed to get everything done, and I was worried having only two tasks to everyone else's three and only exactly enough cash on hand going into that last winter to pay off that early loan. It was interesting seeing the four saw limit being a relevant limiting factor for multiple of us, as we were all sawing our firewood (and some of us our last hardwood for tasks) between that last fall and winter.

But it ended up working out. Thanks to just really aggressive rafting and sledding on my part, I had a lot to sell off in the final sale. I had two +2 milled firewood, eight firewood disks, a softwood disk, and three milled softwood, for a total of $40. Then my joiners plus small joinery were worth $11 and my contracts were $26+$18 for a total of $95.

Hardwood is interesting because it doesn't really seem worth selling and is only good for tasks, though tasks are pretty important and so hardwood feels pretty important. It's also interesting that we only get 10 pieces of milled hardwood, where for the game I played we needed 12. I wonder how common that is. We were also scratching our heads about the color of the bearers, both because the purple and brown were so close and because the board showed them as green. But I've since read that this was a mix-up of some kind.

Overall, I think this is such a cool game. It's all about planning ahead and making sure you can complete your tasks and use your planned work as effectively as possible. I think I did the best job at utilizing planned work, but I was a bit worried about the task deficit. But the action track means there's also a lot of opportunity for interesting tactical play. I liked this system in Egizia too, but I didn't much like that game overall, so I'm glad to see it in a game I enjoy.

I also think now that the variant for picking regions is going to be my go to. In the standard setup it's all about double-think, which isn't something I personally care for. The first time I played it was a three player game and we played the normal way and for the first I want to say three, maybe even four (of five) picks, me and this one other player picked the same regions. It was incredible. I mean, at the time it was funny and now makes for a nice story, but in general I think it hurt both of us, sometimes pretty arbitrarily, and it just felt out of place and not what I want out of a competitive experience like this.

By contrast, the variant doesn't lose any of that good planning that the game is all about, and also adds a bit to the more tactical path navigation part of the game. Now you have some real incentives for getting back quickly, or slowly, or somewhere in between and it becomes a big part of the decision-making process to decide your pace through the season.

The buildings and joiners seem pretty cool too, but not strictly speaking necessary. When we started I felt like the buildings were all pretty minor, and I still basically feel that way, but they can come in pretty handy in a pinch. The joiners are nice because they give you the option of taking on a greater cost during the winters to make some nice income throughout the years, and the potential for an extra few bucks at the end of the game. Again nothing completely over the top, but those few dollars can be big if reinvested in the right ways. My friends were also varying degrees of bothered by the fact that the joiner/building board background art doesn't match up with the main player board. It seems like a really obvious missed opportunity.

Most importantly though, I just really enjoy playing this game. I love making sure to coordinate everything so I can get these really powerful turns and making sure I have everything done in time. And there are some nice tactical decisions to be made on the path as well, in terms of what you need and what you think you can get away with. It's just a fun game and I look forward to more plays.
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Board Game: Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775-1777
Matt Wilson
United States
Edenton
NC
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From gallery of croooooow


Tonight we played Supply Lines of the American Revolution. I reall enjoyed it although my wife isn't a fan of all the direct confrontation. I played the Patriots, my wife the Crown.

Things got desperate in 1776 when the Crown pinned one of my armies with a leader in Albany. Because Albany was surrounded, it couldn't generate any supplies to potentially fight back. And because the Crown already controlled New York, I had no choice but to sit back and try to hold Albany for as long as I could to prevent her from winning. In a last ditch effort I gathered a ton of armies and my last surviving leader to attack New York, but I was 2 food shy of actually being able to attack!

I spread myself too thin in the early game by trying to hold many areas with size 1 armies, for two reasons: generate a bunch of supplies and create a big supply line capable of moving supplies to wherever they'd be needed. The downside is you inefficiently spend food moving size 1 armies when you could've moved much more with that single food cube.

Also, it seems to me that the Patriot player should try to win the game by the winter if 1777 at the very later, preferably earlier; because recruitment ends after the second winter, the Patriot player is vulnerable to army shortages, which is not only bad for actually winning battles but also bad for the logistical infrastructure.

I very much look forward to playing again, especially as the Crown player next time.
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3. Board Game: Lisboa [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:65]
Board Game: Lisboa
Evan Scussel
United States
Longwood
FL
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On Sunday, August 6th, I texted a couple of guys from my gaming group and asked if they wanted to swing by to play Lisboa as my wife Lynn said she would be interested in playing. I had spent the better part of three days reading the rules, so I thought I was prepared for this play (more on that later).

Zack Crawford
United States
Orlando
Florida
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United States
Diamond Bar
CA
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jumped at the chance to play, so the four of us were off and running.

Most of you are probably already aware, but Lisboa is a game in which we play influential residents of Lisbon, Portugal during a time when the city was ravaged by 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami, ending in three days of fires. It's our job as players to reconstruct the city. To do so, we have to gain influence with royalty and nobility in order to build ships, construct stores, build public buildings and gain influence with the church that we may later choose to shun in order to gain more influence with the King and Marquis.

This is not a review, so I won't go into the mechanisms, my praise or critiques. Let's just say that the board is amazingly beautiful and after you play the game, you will realize that the iconography is perfect and very intuitive. This may be the easiest Lacerda title to grasp when looking at the board layout and icons.

I love the multiple paths to victory here. You can get points by building ships and having other players ship goods on your ships. You can get points by influencing the church and then later renouncing the church. You can get points from decree cards and building private buildings (stores). The timing of when you take these actions and where you place your stores is critical.

In the end, Zack won 111-103-103-53*. My wife came in last, but that is simply due to the fact that she is not used to a game of Lisboa's weight AT ALL. She's more used to games like Grand Austria Hotel and First Class. Furthermore, because there are so many permutations of what you can do on your turn (play a card to the court, tuck a card, trade with the nobles, sell goods, take a noble action, discard a card for $1, etc.), it can be overwhelming for newcomers or those prone to AP, both of which apply for my wife.

From gallery of GoingTopShelf


I put an asterisk on the scores because I messed up four rules in this game. Two of the rules mistakes were inconsequential, but two were major and probably changed the flow of the game and the final score. First, I didn't realize you could discard ANY cards in your hand after age 1. I thought you could only discard those cards in which you took a bonus (for a maximum of three cards, one of each noble). As a result, we all started the second age with less powerful cards in our hands, giving us an unnecessary handicap. Second, I forgot about the ship upgrade action, which allows you to upgrade from a 1-hull ship to a 2-hull ship by spending only one good. In the second age, I wanted to upgrade from a 1-hull ship to a 3-hull ship and thought I was unable to because I only had one good in my warehouse. Turns out that I had the one good ship discount removed on my player board and only one resource was enough to do the upgrade. I thought I needed two resources, three for the hull capacity less one for the discount.

Here are the two big mistakes. First, I thought you got influence whenever you tucked a card to the top of your tableau. Turns out you only get influence when you tuck a ship or move the Cardinal past the influence space in the church (and then decide to gain influence). You do NOT get influence by simply tucking a noble card. We misplayed that. As a result, our influence meters were too high throughout the game and influence was never hard to come by. It also kept the treasury values artificially low as nobody was ever incentivized to gain influence by building ships. That changed the whole tenor of the game. Finally, we were scoring private buildings incorrectly when placing public buildings. For each public building placed, you only score THAT public building, not those previously placed. I messed this up and caused certain public buildings to be double or even triple counted. This is how Zack ended up winning. He got 20 points for two of his private stores when he placed a public building on one of his last turns. Instead, he should have only gotten 8 points.

From gallery of GoingTopShelf


As a result, we are all playing this game again on Saturday. The game is AWESOME, but we want to play it as it was designed. I don't know why Vital's games give me so many rules issues on my first play, but I had the same trouble with The Gallerist.

In the end, I might still like The Gallerist a bit more, but it is very close. I think this will appeal to more types of gamers given the theme and will eventually get played more than The Gallerist. I am totally OK with that. This is a fantastic experience.
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4. Board Game: Arkwright [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:532]
Board Game: Arkwright
Dan Hable
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Played Arkwright 2 players last night and this time without following the preferred setup guide. I decided to start producing food and and cutlery while my wife decided to produced clothes and cutlery. My problems started when I only decided to sell 5 shares of stock. My wife took a more conservative approach and sold 8 shares.

Right away the neutral importer put pressure on my food production. Every decade it seemed like it was increasing its appeal by 2, forcing me to keep my price at 5£ and upgrade the factory to sell anything. My second mistake was opening a clothes factory while upgrading the food factory. Combined with my low capitalization, I ended up needing to spend actions early on to sell more shares. That really stalled out any growth I had for the first half of the game.

It wasn't until about the 1790s that I finally was able to produce and sell enough to sustain operations. At least bureaucracy waited to hit until then, letting me limp along paying 2£ for administration fees. At this point it was too late. My wife had been doing the smart strategy of using shipping contracts to keep her stock price low and buying shares along the way. In the end it took too long to fix my early mistakes in capitalization and I ended up losing 414 to 616.

The game played much different than it had before. Food was not a safe, cheap bet in this game based on the random competition from the neutral importer. We also found with the race to produce clothes that the job market got expensive quickly but then leveled out as machines came in to replace the workers. I also forgot that I could have shut down my food factory and maybe doing so early on would have been a better move. So much to think about until I can play again.
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5. Board Game: Steam Barons [Average Rating:7.35 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.35 Unranked]
Board Game: Steam Barons
Bleicher
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
MG
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So I finally had a long gaming session that included a heavy game. After warming up with Ponzi Scheme, we played Steam Barons. Yeah, the less loved member of the Age of Steam family. Usually, only three members are mentioned - the original AoS in one extreme, the "family version" Railways of the World in the other, and then, sitting in the middle, Steam, a game that gets flak from both sides (being too complicated for RotW players and too watered down for AoS players) and for being the symbol of the Wallace vs. Bohrer feud.

But there is actually a fourth game, which is usually forgotten because it is listed as an expansion (to me it should be considered a game itself just as, for example, any 18XX released by Winsome that needs 1830 components to be played): Steam Barons. There's another reason why it is probably the less loved of the family: the original rules state that the company order of play is random - more on that later.

What Steam Barons does is merge the AoS system with share control. Instead of each player controlling a color, each color is a public company on which the player with most shares decides what to build and what to deliver, and all shareholders get dividends proportional to their number of shares (depending on the quality of the delivers on each turn, there may also be a bonus for the company CEO, and also money for the company treasure).

It seemed pretty obvious that I would like that "expansion" and that was really the case. The way the market works in Steam Barons is very very interesting. While in the 18XXs I played share values are more often than not varying slowly unless in special cases (those "triple jumps" in 1846, selling a lot of shares in 1830, etc.), in Steam Barons every share price can suddenly have big jumps because their change is related to their deliveries in that turn: so that company which managed to do a couple of 5-segment deliveries on a turn may just as well find itself with nothing very good to deliver on the next.

There's a very interesting mechanic on how the price shares change: the "number of stacks". If all companies made exactly the same value for their deliveries, the associated price change will be 0, regarded if they delivered nothing or all of them did two good deliveries. It is the relative value and their spread that counts. Half companies had a 10 delivered total and the others an 8 total? The first half increment their share value by 1, the rest don't change. All six have different total delivery values? The best increases its share value by 5, the second by 3, the third by 1, the fourth doesn't change, the fifth decreases by 1 and the last decreases by 3. There are also some increments/decrements that are applied that makes share values tend to be on the $4-$7 range if the companies are not particularly good or bad.

Ok, so we used the England map and I opened two companies, thinking about using a strategy of forcing a company to bankrupcy (which would mean their tracks could be used by anyone) and reap big dividends from the other which was opened close to it, on the east side of the map (everybody else started on the west side, which had more cities and cubes). I noticed the strategy I had in mind would be difficult to apply, as forcing a company to an early bankruptcy is not that easy as one might think, because in the beginning of the game everybody's deliveries are usually not great anyway. So I decided to do the regular route and try to make money from both companies while investing in most others.

There was a big span strategy I was hoping to make it work: since those two companies weren't making big bucks anyway, people weren't paying much of their shares even if they were cheap anyway. So I hoarded all I could get from them while they were cheap, expecting to do a brilliant move in the last round (there are only five). I envisioned a route on I which could deliver two cubes that would very probably make it the highest paying company in that round, which would mean amazing bucks from me as (1) I had lots of shares from it, way more than anyone else (2) it would get a share value boost, pearhaps a big one, in the last round, meaning I would also earn extra for share appreciation.

But then I noticed one of the other players was building a route that could completely screw my plans in an all-or-nothing situation. If he blocked me there, that company wouldn't even deliver anything in the last round, which would be a disaster for me. So I went defensive and build a tile that meant the possible route I would get in the end was 4-segment long, instead of 5.

I did the math - the simple fact that this route was 1 segment shorter meant I lost more than $30 in the end. And what was the final score? Daniel had $83. Flávio had $132. And I had... $131!

Yeah, that single segment was the difference between winning by a big marging and actually losing by a single dollar!

It was a really great game, which had an interesting twist. Instead of using the original rules on which the company playing order is random on which round, we played it like an 18XX (highest valued companies on a round operate first). And the game played amazingly well.

I'd really like to play this more often (too bad Flavio is moving next month, he just loved the game and lives just a few blocks from me), as I confirmed this is one of my favorites. I can't get enough plays from share-controlled railroad company games, and I'm quite glad to have one that is very different to other games that fit that description, but very interesting as well. With Chicago Express, Steam Barons and 1846, I have completely different implementations of railroad investing games for a large span in game length.
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6. Board Game Designer: Vital Lacerda
Board Game Designer: Vital Lacerda
Jesse Whitehead
United States
Chattanooga
Tennessee
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Yesterday was LACERDA-FEST 2017! We played ALL of Vital Lacerda's games.

We started around 930 Saturday morning and finished up about 20 minutes after midnight! It was a very long awesome day of gaming! There were four of us, and I'm the only one that has played all five games before. Two of them had played Lisboa once, and one played Vinhos with me last week.

For such an epic endeavor, there had to be some prize support. I made a truly ridiculous plaque for the winner.

From gallery of JesseW


We started with Kanban because the setup for this one is so ridiculous that I wanted to have it ready to go. This one is the one I have the least experience with, and it showed with my brutal third place finish. I love how unique it is, but something about it just does not fit into my brain! James ran away with this one. (Just a setup picture- I didn't get a play pic!)

From gallery of JesseW



After Kanban, we headed to the beautiful Portuguese coast to make some wine in Vinhos. I played this one just a few days earlier, and I was feeling good going in. I was still surprised when I managed a narrow win! I have only played the 2010 version once and it's definitely heavier, but I like the new version a lot. The one thing I'm not crazy about is the export area. It just seems like it's a little too easy to get points there. The other side's export area is much better.

From gallery of JesseW


Next on deck was The Gallerist. This one seemed to be everyone's least favorite of the day. I really like it, but it is probably a little more dry than the other titles. I thought I was doing well here, but Amy ended up really going hard at the end for the win! Our scores were the closest here out of all of the games.

From gallery of JesseW


As our minds slowly deteriorated, it was time for a "break" with his "easiest" game- CO2. In fairness, I didn't do the best rules explanation here since I was a bit rusty and tired, but it was a bit of a blowout. This one really rewards multiple plays since it's SO interactive and has a lot of subtle moves and maneuvers that can pop up. I can't wait for the cleaned up version of this one because it really is great. Everyone seemed to like it even though I was killing in it.

From gallery of JesseW


Finally, just as we were truly incoherent after having our brains turned into mush it was time for Lisboa. The sun had set, and we were none of us at our sharpest at this point. It was around 10pm when we started playing! I had two victories at this point, so Amy and James knew they needed to step it up to make the tie happen so we'd go to overall points. Everyone has played before except Amy so she was already at a disadvantage. This had to be the most poorly played game of Lisboa ever lol! We barely built buildings, we were all broke the whole time, no one had goods- a real mess, but just as the new day struck, the scores were tallied and I CAME OUT ON TOP!

From gallery of JesseW


The trophy was mine with three overall wins! That's right- I won my own trophy that I made, in my own house, with my own games, that only I had played before lol. I'll take the victory, though!

From gallery of JesseW


In the end, it was a truly fantastic way to spend 15 hours! I had a lot of fun with my friends, and got to play some of my favorites. Big thanks goes out to Mr. Lacerda for being such an awesome designer! I can't wait to see what he does next.

The final total scores (for whatever that's worth):
Me: 565
James: 546
Amy: 490
Jaclyn: 473.

Only 19 points separated us! Awesome! I can't wait to do it again once my brain re-solidifies itself.

From gallery of JesseW
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7. Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:880]
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
The Mirror
United States
New York
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From gallery of mirror33


Got a couple rounds of 3-player Time of Crisis in. Really interesting amount of depth with the lightest ruleset I've ever experienced with a GMT game (have not played Battle Line). Also it's a deck builder.

There's probably too much luck (in the form dice rolls) for the 18xx contingency, but this is the game I wanted Polis to be. Maybe it shares some DNA with the Eklund/Pax system as well, though the randomness is on the back end rather than the shifting chaotic context of the card pool. There are also some similarities with Ortus Regni as well. In fact the way you build your deck is extremely similar to Dominion, where the cards that are available at the start is all you'll have access to. But unlike Dominion, which requires a large pool of cards to keep the efficiency game novel and interesting, ToC uses this mechanic as as the foundation for what is ultimately an extremely interesting ahistorical (thogugh historically grounded) game of political and militaristic maneuvering with the goal claiming and holding the seat of emperor in the wake of a power vacuum in the Roman Empire. Plus there are pretender empires, barbarian raids, mobs, and random events a la many CDGs to disrupt the empire. Pretty interesting game overall.

We played 2 times, the first I was just minding my business and they handed me the first crack at emperor which I never relinquish and it being our first game I just rocketed my way to the 40 VPs to end the short game a bit too quickly. Our decks were just getting powerful.

Second time through I tried an alternative path for card collection with a simultaneous military build. Not sure exactly what happened but I timed some hands poorly and found myself with little support or military might as an opponent took the throne. My other opponent and I set out to disrupt the empire and in that process she established a pretender empire which was poised to profit far more than the primary throne. We had to call the game for time reasons, and while I was certainly the one being left in the dust I would have liked to see the pretender government used to catch up or even surpass the VPs of the original emperor.

Overall, very interesting game and looking forward to more plays and player counts.

Curious to see if a meta around early game card acquisition becomes a thing like in Food Chain Magnate. Or if different choices are viable paths to victory.




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8. Board Game: Lisboa [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:65]
Board Game: Lisboa
James Schultz
United States
Massachusetts
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My new gaming table arrived (Duchess) so I needed something heavy to christen it -- Lisboa! We played a three player game; first time for each of us with this game. It took an hour to setup, an hour to explain the rules, and four hours to play! But we had a great time. I ended up playing a stores and ships strategy, versus a public building and decree approach, versus a little-bit-of-everything. I won, but not by much: 119-115-103.

I was a little surprised that the influence didn't play as big a role as I expected -- no one had trouble visiting nobles even when I filled their lobbies with officials and the economy was low. Deciding which actions to take was tough, as well as which shop to build considering if I wanted wigs, majority control, the bonus, or the rubble. A fun decision space to explore!

From gallery of js3b
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9. Board Game: Tramways [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:1148]
Board Game: Tramways
Joel Oakley
United States
Brandon
Mississippi
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From gallery of Joakley815

I was fortunate to get a 2-player game of Tramways with my wife tonight. She is a good sport to indulge my heavy game desires from time to time even if she doesn't always love them herself. Fortunately, she has enjoyed Tramways apart from her first play. This is definitely a game in which the more experienced will likely win, and that held true tonight as well. I am grateful that my wife does not mind a loss as long as she feels that she played well. Tonight was her 3rd play I think, and she has definitely improved a good bit since the last time we played it.

I am not sure that I will really be all that interested in playing Tramways with only 2 players again. There is definitely a lot of tension missing in the auction without the extra people contending over turn order. The track laying aspects are still really enjoyable and challenging to deal with regardless of the player count. One small concern I have begun to have is the importance of the Leisure cards for scoring well near the end of the game. It is hard to imagine what would take the place of visits to the leisure buildings for lots of points, Perhaps an extremely heavy track laying strategy with lots of residential deliveries to keep stress really low?

Nevertheless, this game is a real pleasure to play, and I am ready to get it played again with more players soon!
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10. Board Game: Leaving Earth [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:542]
Board Game: Leaving Earth
Joel Oakley
United States
Brandon
Mississippi
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From gallery of Joakley815

My new hotness when it comes to solitaire gaming is Leaving Earth. This game was set up as a "very hard" game with the Mercury mini-expansion included as part of the game. Despite losing a few probes and ion thrusters early in the game, it looked hopeful that I would be able to earn a lot of points for a Mars mission as well as completing the Mercury and Moon missions.

I took a risk using the Vostok capsule to get a man to Mars, and despite relatively low solar radiation, I managed to roll a 1, leaving Jim Lovell to die on the trip to Mars. Rather than call my game quits at that point, I decided to accept the game as a loss but play on as if the die roll had been more favorable. After all, a big part of my enjoyment of the game is in seeing my plans come to fruition. Unfortunately, I failed to plan very well for the return of the Mars sample back to Earth (I forgot to send along an Ion Thruster to get the sample back from Mars orbit). I also rolled another 1 on the maneuver from the Inner Planet Transfer to Mars Orbit (but ignored this result as well). The Mercury and Moon missions were very successful, and I did manage to rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial life as well.

All in all, the experience of playing Leaving Earth was enjoyable as seems to be the norm. I will definitely consider the Apollo or Aldrin capsules for future manned Mars missions. The solar radiation is just too risky to send one person out there alone.

This is a game that continues to draw me in more with each play. I will likely try another solo game tomorrow night!
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11. Board Game: Small City [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:2129]
Board Game: Small City
Will Beckley
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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From gallery of Wiyum


After an enjoyable solo play a couple months ago, I finally got this to the table with an opponent last weekend. We had a great game, full of moments of realization that we'd made horrible mistakes. I'm sure that repeated play will yield better play, but the slope feels gloriously steep at the moment. The goal cards provide just the right kind of incentive to pursue a particular strategy without leaving you feeling as though you've been corralled into a scripted play.

The comparisons to Antiquity, a game which I love, are apt but overstated. Ironically, I find that while there is a solo mode for Small City but not for Antiquity, Small City is the one that feels less like multiplayer solitaire. Points of interaction are immediate from turn one and rather devious, while in Antiquity I often finish a game without having meaningfully crossed paths with an opponent (though some games go the other way).

My friend, an omnigamer with no strong affinity towards nor opposition to heavy games was absolutely smitten with this game (the "best new game [he's] played this year, dethroning Tramways for the title"). So much so that we arranged a four-player game last night. That game ended inconclusively after the sixth turn because people needed to get home, but six turns was enough to reveal that the game is a different animal at four. I learned this the hard way on turn one when I took a promise card in the city council phase. I drew four promises that all felt hard to manage, because they were all "have the most" or "have the least" situations, and with three opponents, that can just be impossible to manage or predict. The same cards were totally reasonable in our two-player match, so that's a takeaway for my next 4-player game.

We used the advanced rules with all 12 roles in our two-player game, and we happened to overdraw the 4 advanced roles, with those almost always comprising 3 of our six options. For the four-player game, we just played with the basic eight and preferred that, though perhaps in that case the advanced rules (which would have put 10 roles out every turn) would have mitigated the problem we'd had in our first game. Either way, the core roles are just more interesting and universally useful, so we enjoyed the game more having them always in the mix (the crucial city planner role had only come out once in our earlier game, for example).

Regardless, I now have three people hounding me to play this game again. It is an uncommonly good time, difficult and rewarding in equal measure. I'm anxious to get one more clean game played, with the plan to mix things up after that with new buildings and/or boards. Perhaps the Asian cities I ordered this week...
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