GCL Mafia 342: Gen Con
Grace P.
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of August 7-13, 2017.
• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
• Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

Current Roster:
Epsilon_Balls
captainraffi
touchstonethefool
cferejohn
jshufelt
fdubois
timotheous
charlest
Happymrdave
tallgrant
annowme
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1. Board Game: Geeks: The Convention [Average Rating:4.66 Overall Rank:13939]
Grace P.
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Gen Con is this week! Only a few of us are going.

Do you get con envy? #FOMO
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2. Video Game: The Golden Voyage [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Grace P.
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It's Gen Con's 50th anniversary this year. I don't know what people were playing back in 1967, but I assume it was just tic-tac-toe and jacks.

1) What's your favorite old ass game? Interpret "old ass" however you'd like.

2) Have you hit 50 plays of any games? Do you think any games are on their way to getting that many plays?
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3. RPG: Want (2005) [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Grace P.
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Any Gen Con releases you're excited for? Any surprises you're hoping for even though TI4 was already announced?
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4. Board Game: Banditos: Hippies and an Armored Truck [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked]
Grace P.
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My lunches (and sometimes dinners) are often the food trucks outside of Gen Con.

What are you favorite kind of food trucks to eat at? Was it wrong or awesome the one year I got a taco from one truck and sushi from another FOR THE SAME LUNCH?
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5. Board Game: Selfie: The Game of Silly Expressions [Average Rating:4.40 Unranked]
Grace P.
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Give me a scavenger hunt for Gen Con. I'll try to take a ridiculous selfie, when possible, with whatever you suggest.
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6. Board Game: Memories: The Personal Nostalgia Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
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Top 5 Favorite Gen Con Memories

Honorable mention: All the ridiculous questions/statements people had about the Pack O Games.

"It's like a juice box."

Kid, after I briefly explained BUS: "So it's like you're a taxi."
Me: "Or a bus." (I said something like that, or at least thought it.)

5-2) Meeting Matt, Charlie, Grant, and Dave.





Honorable mention: This guy whose helmet was blaring dubstep.



1) The first time I walk(ed) into the exhibitor's hall. It's this feeling of the calm before the storm. It feels like you're backstage, waiting for a show to start. I love it. Then the announcer says "Welcome to Gen Con" and the flood of people burst through the doors and you're (metaphorically) nut-to-butt whenever you have to walk around for the next 8 hours.

---

Top 5 "WTF Gen Con" Moments

5-2) Basically every cosplay.

1) The woman in a corset/dress so low cut that you not only saw a lot of boobage, but you could see areolas, like cartoon eyes peeking over a wall.

---

Top 5 things that have made you realize you're a famous Board Game Reviewer(TM)

I'll let you know when it happens.
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7. Board Game: Tiefe Taschen [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:2555]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Secrets x2 (new!)
Tiefe Taschen x2 (new!)
Wiz-War (eighth edition) x2
Cthulhu Wars x1
DIG x1 (new!)
RUM (new!)(finding this is too difficulty)
A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game x1
Unpublished Prototype x2

Reviews
Rise of the Empire at Ars Technica

Deadline at the Review Corner.

And finally, my Sidereal Conflunece review which I wrote a long time ago is finally up at G&S.

Geek & Sundry is undergoing some odd directional changes and future board game content is up in the air. Huge bummer for Raf and I.


Tiefe Taschen
This game is damn good. It's like a card version of "I'm The Boss" that's way better. Kind of with a Resistance structure. One player takes on the role of president (which could shift during play but is not guaranteed to) and splits a pot of money between everyone at the table. There's no rules here and they can give themselves all the bills.

Then everyone plays an action card from their hand which is either yay/nay, or one of a few special options.

It's a deep, subtle game with a great deal of emerging strategy. Tons of bluffing and double think and it's simply really fun with enough meat to remain relevant in your mind beyond the play. This one's going to get played a lot at Gen Con.

Secrets
Is basically Faidutti re-doing Mascarade with Eric Lang in the co-pilot seat. It's not as wild or simply crazy as Mascarade as it's easier to figure out who has what roles (that aspect of the game is not emphasized quite as much), but it introduces teams and attempting to score the most points. Hippies win individually if they have the least amount of points.

So it's wrestling with an interesting scoring structure that pairs score cards with special one off abilities while trying to deduce your possible teammates. You can of course switch teams (although again, much less common than Mascarade) which is interesting as you could be loading up a ton of negatives as a hippy and someone swaps your role with someone else.

Downside is that it feels somewhat random and out of your control. Fun though.

It does have one really nice quality in that you can teach it in 2 minutes. You don't need to explain the role cards (not the team tokens), because they come out during play and are publicly visible initially. This means you don't have information overload like you do in an 8 player game of Mascarade.

DIG/RUM
DIG was pretty good. Deduction by way of dogs digging up hidden bone cards. RUM was pretty meh.



On My Mind
Gen Con of course.

I haven't planned a whole bunch yet. Pitching Alley Brawler to just one publisher, attending an Asmodee private event that I is awesome, playing the Expanse with Geoff Engelstein, and hanging out with Jim Felli, Dan Thurot, and Raf Cordero Saturday night.

The scheduled game of the Expanse with Geoff is probably what I'm looking forward to the most. I've talked to him a bit online the past few years as I've reviewed a lot of his games and we both post on Fortress Ameritrash, but it will be very cool bringing my copy of the Expanse and him playing his first game on the published version with my group.

Besides The Expanse, I also received Wartime: The Battle of Valyance Vale from Wizkids which looks crazy. It's a wargame like say, Memoir 44, but everything is in real-time. EVERYTHING.

You can perform one action with a unit and then you have to flip one of your available sand timers and place it next to it. You can't do anything with that unit again until the timer is out. There are different lengths of timers so you need to strategically assign either the 30, 60, or 90 second timer based on expected tactical need. Combat is deterministic and there's a tiny bit of card play and even some magic. I'm playing Wednesday as part of some pre Gen Con gaming and I'm pumped.

I also received the Captain Sonar expansion which looks pretty nifty. It's mostly new maps with special rules that should be a blast. We're playing this at the Con with our buddies from last year who threw Swedish fish over the wall.

Still need to play the Conan Stygia expansion and Gangs of Commorragh for review purposes.

Oh, and if you didn't know Games Workshop announced a new version of NECROMUNDA.

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8. Board Game: Codenames Duet [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Plays since August 7, 2017

 10.   Pandemic x28 (iPhone)
 7.5   Codenames x6 (2P x4)
 8.5   Pandemic Iberia x2

Still playing a lot of Pandemic on the app. After adding in the On the Brinks Roles and Events (which changes the number of Events you play with based on player count) and playing through the same number of games at each difficulty, I added in the Virulent Strain and did the same for some difficulties. Big losing streak, as I haven't been able to win at 4P Normal or 3P Heroic yet.

I got a little frustrated with two player after losing a couple games purely because both players got stuck with a 4-3 split in the midgame and I ended up discarding too much trying to get a cure. This can still happen with more players, but it's much less likely (and you're also more likely to have a role that will help you cure).

On the other hand, I had a (probably anomalous) run of good games at 3P Heroic, which looks pretty funny in comparison to the 0-5 runs with Base only (5 Events vs. 6) and with Virulent Strain.

Still haven't tried 5P, sounds a little exhausting and less likely to fit into the short window I've been completing these games in - trying to figure out where everyone is and what cards I have available gets tricky at higher player counts.

Results so far:

5G 5V 6G 6V
2P 3-0 (5E) 1-4 (5E)
2-1 (4E) 1-4 (4E)
3P 2-1 (5E) 0-5 (5E)
3-0 (6E) 2-1 (6E) 4-1 (6E) 0-5 (6E)
4P 1-2 (5E)
2-1 (8E) 0-3 (8E)


We didn't manage to play anything consistently this past week. Our four plays of Codenames (using the two player rules) were all on the same night, with scores of 1, 0 (assassin), 4, and 3. We also played twice with my parents, who were in town over the weekend. Aerial and my dad had trouble getting on the same page, while mom went in a totally different direction on several of my clues but happened to hit other correct guesses in the process. They enjoyed it well enough; maybe we can talk my sister and her husband into playing at some point, it's better with bigger teams.

Our first game of Pandemic Iberia this week was a refresher, normal difficulty without the expansion modules. We won pretty easily with the Sailor and Royal Academy Scientist. Aerial used the RAS ability quite a bit (we didn't need to switch cards around much, but it was nice knowing what was coming up), while I flew around the board to keep things under control. Pretty easy win.

We tried the Influx of Patients module last night, with Rural Doctor and Nurse. This combination didn't end up using the purify water action much (only once the whole game, I think), and we got lucky with the Nurse blocking the Epidemic draw twice (the first one in particular would have been bad without the Nurse, we drew a whole bunch of yellow at the start and it was yellow as well). The patient movement is neat, adding some time pressure that is somewhat predictable, and we were also able to take advantage of it to avoid outbreaks elsewhere (for example, Gibraltar was our only black card drawn; we built a hospital in Toledo right after it hit three, and pretty much every time it got back to three it was time for a patient to leave and make the trip to Toledo). We managed things pretty well, and our only real threat was that we discarded quite a few blue cards early and needed the remaining ones not to be at the bottom of the deck (Aerial was at five, but we needed to get a sixth to build a hospital).

I like the differences in this, and I'm particularly interested to see how it plays with 3 or 4 - playing with 2 has left us ignoring some aspect of the game in each of our plays (ports weren't very important in the first, as we were spamming rails and water; rails didn't matter as much in the second with my flying around the ports; and water didn't matter at all in this one).
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9. Board Game: Council of 4 [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1244]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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A light week for me - I'm actually surprised I got any gaming in at all what with the work trip and such.

Council of Four - 7.5
Habitats - 8.0


Council of Four was once again a 3p game - and I'm still convinced the game would be better with a full 4 players - but ... I'm worried about the "iron city" bonus. It just seems too good. Like, nothing else even comes close good. The only reason I could see it being a bad choice is if the bonuses on the iron cities were both really weak. If even one is good you just chain off of that city rather and the other is a sacrifice, but it's a sacrifice worth 30 points.

Still like the game mechanics but if this strategy seems broken after another play or two off this game goes. I want to believe it's just us not knowing how to play as well but I'm not entirely convinced that's the case.

Habitats was a 5p game. I didn't think the game would work well at that number, but it was actually not bad. The game still is a nice thinky filler, although the interaction in it, while definitely present (you'll get locked in and forced to take tiles you don't want at some point almost for certain), is more incidental than purposeful.

The scoring rules were easier to explain this time, so experience with that paid off.

After I played a chunk of people asked if I could leave it out so they could get in a second game, which is a Good Sign regarding how much it was enjoyed.

This one is probably a keeper.
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10. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:12]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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 10   War of the Ring (Second Edition) x3
 9   Battle of Five Armies

Austin War of the Ring Day

Hooray! My big party for my favorite game! I've got a pending session report that shows some pictures, and IT HAS BEEN APPROVED HERE!. But the cook was one of the best I've had, and I can couple that with the best briskets I've ever made. I call upon our friend Dave to describe his dining experience in detail, and the rest of you suckers can start making plans to go to this event next year.

We had 20 attendees (some of which stopped by to be socialable but could not play), and 12 players. 6 games going at once: overall 15 games of War of the Ring played, with 2 Battle of Five Armies for good measure.

War of the Ring: Three games. I'm going to give a brief rundown of something significant for each, then a link to my play log if you want to see the goodness of game and narrative I get out of it:

vs. Daniel: I was cocky and did a few things I should not have against a fairly inexperienced player. He made good tile draws as I went into Mordor, shut me down into a miserable stall where I spent 6 turns in Mordor and only managed to reach Step 2, and completed the military. I'm not sure that correcting my mistakes would have won me the game due to this severity of the tile draws- sometimes that is how this goes.

vs. Alan: Similar strategy as I tried vs Daniel with a different results- both games featured me getting Wizard's Staff early, which is a timely and useful card that I usually draw too late. The Hunt dice failed Alan at every opportunity- I was only revealed 3 times in the entire game, and got the win on Turn 9. Would have been 8 turns (which is about as fast as I've ever heard of anyone getting a Ring victory) but Alan played a card that delayed it by a turn. This was a textbook Fellowship sprint and it absolutely worked.

vs. Chris: This is my annual grudge match and capstone of War of the Ring Day. Chris is a dedicated player who visits WBC every year and plays in the ~30 person War of the Ring tournament. He's the reigning champ from 2016 and this year, getting his fourth overall title 2 weeks ago. He's also owned me as of late- we started our series 2-2, but he'd won the matches since 2014 to take a commanding 5-2 margin.

While the game itself didn't have anything out of this world bonkers in it, it definitely had all of its narrative glory and balanced goodness. We both played well enough to win, and a couple of key things tipped it the way it went.

And if you really want to know who won you can read the report here.

Battle of Five Armies: We count it for War of the Ring Day. I played decently but combat Gandalf and his merry band of Elves slaughtered me mid-game. The Fate tile draws were against me and the whole thing fell apart in one turn.

New Game Get:

Hooray, it came on Wednesday!


On my mind: Band rehearsals are starting early for us due to the Midwest clinic business. We normally start late September, but this year it is before Labor Day. I've been practicing with the new horn all summer, so I'm actually in pretty good shape. I'm hoping to keep it going the next two weeks!

I need to exercise more. I did a lot of errands and prep work for War of the Ring Day. I'm happy to have the event, but its nice to be done with the preparation and busywork.
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11. Board Game: North American Railways [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:3913]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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YINSH
Oh Captain! NEW!
North American Railways NEW!
Jump Drive
Jórvík
Space Invaders Dice!
Tournay
Snowblind: Race for the Pole
Seasons
LYNGK x2
DVONN x2
El Capitán
Automobiles NEW!

Oh Captain! is in the same vein as Sheriff of Nottingham, though much lighter and not super impactful. Cute as a super-filler, but I'd rather play Sheriff.

North American Railways proved a more interesting puzzle than first met the eye, figuring out what your plays were based on the layout of the stocks and the cities proved to provide some interesting grist for the mental mill. I'm coming to enjoy auction-less train designs and this one fits the bill pretty well with a good balance of simplicity to depth. Plus, my game group really liked it, so hopefully more plays are in store!

I was a little bit skeptical of Automobiles, even though it's been met with pretty high praise in the reviews I've read. It took a lap of two of play to wrap my brain around it, but once I did it was a very neat experience. Balancing the need to keep your bag low on wear cubes with pushing forward on the track and buying new cubes to supplement your bag was an neat experience, and a vastly different beast than Trains. Outside of the rulebook being a little dodgy, I think the game is definitely worth a try if you have any interest in it. I'm looking forward to getting a copy of the expansion.

Quick hits on the old stuff...

- Closest game of Jump Drive yet, neck and neck through most of the game and I won by a single point. I've softened considerably on this design now that I've got a better feel for the deck composition, but it still bugs me minorly that I've had to put that much effort into familiarizing myself with a piece of super-filler. Still! I'm glad I've kept my copy.

- I think Jórvík is just a hair too frustrating to be fun. I'm all for games that smack your in the face with their difficulty, but this design takes it a little too far, which is a shame because the mechanics are unique and a nifty twist on a regular bidding mechanism.

- Space Invaders Dice! got one more solo play before I sold it off, as expected.

- Tournay and Seasons are still super solid.

- Snowblind: Race for the Pole fared pretty darn well as a 2p experience. I definitely want to try it with more and see what I think.

- El Capitán's 2p variant didn't fare very well. I think it's one of those games that just doesn't scale down well unless some drastic changes were implemented to make it work at less than 3p. Still! Really nice design overall.

- JAMES' GIPF CORNER: My girlfriend loves the heck out of YINSH, which is awesome. LYNGK is still showing itself to be a little schizophrenic for my tastes (the game seems to be won and lost during the liminal period of claiming colors, with the rest of the game becoming a moot point once 2-3 stacks are claimed by one player). Turns out I had gotten DVONN's scoring wrong (at 6 plays with the wrong rules, oops!), which makes it a bit more thinky and a bit less snappy, but still very strong.
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12. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:11]
Joseph Shufelt
United States
Portland
Oregon
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The only thing I played was a very long 4 player game of Castles of Burgundy.

I enjoyed it, except I wasn't happy with how long it took. I think what made me not so happy is that everyone there had experience with it before, everyone but one person had a very firm and familiar grasp of it and it went on for about 2.5 hours.

I tried Veggie Garden on BGA once, and it's a decent little game. I feel like if it came out 5-6 years ago, it would have been a pretty big hit. I might give it a few more plays.

-----

OMM
So our bedroom has been a bit of a disaster since moving in. We bought a brand new furniture set, but had a huge delay with our dresser getting delivered. We finally got our dresser in, but it's felt cramped in our bedroom. So while Kim and her mother were out shopping on Saturday, I moved all the furniture in the bed room, and completely redid the layout of it. I also mounted the mirror and the TV. Moving a King Size bed by yourself is a lot of work. Kim had kind of a shitty time out shopping, but when she saw the new bedroom, she was so happy. It made all that sweat and sore muscles well worth it.

I've been both watching the latest episodes of Game of Thrones and rewatching the older episodes. I had such a hard time getting into the show at first. (A common problem with me.) But this show is just so damn good. I'm now ranking it as my favorite show, which is a dangerous situation to be in. Every time I've done that, the ending has always been unsatisfactory. (Except BSG. I'm one of the few that was content with the ending.)

I've also been watching Weeds. A very odd show. It's like Diet Cherry Breaking Bad. The episodes go by quickly.

We just ended a 59 day dry spell, which for Portland is a very long period. Weather is getting more and more extreme here, lately. Despite the humidity, we've enjoyed the cooler temperatures the last few days.
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13. Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1075]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 9   PitchCar x3
 N/A   Mystery of the Abbey NEW!
 4   Apples to Apples
 8   The Resistance
 10   Hansa Teutonica
 N/A   Unpublished Prototype x2


Mystery of the Abbey -- This game absolutely feels like a 22 year old game, in my opinion. It has some social deduction and is clearly based on clue[do]. However, it lacks meaningful decisions that have been the cornerstone of modern gaming. I'd politely find another game to play, rather than jump into this game again. I'm surprised to see it still in print.

The Resistance -- Spoiler: I was a spy. We were never in any particular danger because Merlin became increasingly obvious in the later rounds. In general I was able to convince the Resistance members that I was one of them by pointing out consistencies in one of my fellow spies' votes. Also, I joined in on the second mission, but they had replaced two of the people, so there was enough ambiguity there that people didn't immediately pin the fail on me. This allowed me and the final Spy to throw enough doubt on the other guy that all but merlin was convinced of my goodness (bolstered by being omitted in round 3 (fail) but added back in round 4 which I passed).

Hansa Teutonica -- I think this is the fastest game of Hansa I've ever played. With a new player, our 4 player game ended in < 60 minutes. I had First Player, so rather than think I just blocked out the Actions. When it came back around to me nobody else had blocked the actions... So, second turn I filled one side. Third round I took my 3rd action and proceeded to block everyone else out. After security that I pushed for bonus tokens. Somehow, people have not figured out that my go-to strategy is "take the bonus tokens" and have yet to develop a counter strategy to it. Ultimately this resulted in a blowout.

Also, here's a picture of Rufus playing "Pawnsa Teutonica: Puptannia"


[b]Unpublished Prototypes[b/] -- Two different prototypes, both being pitched at Gen Con (I'll add the space just for you, Charlie). The more interesting of the two is an Airport game. The basic cycle of that game is:

1. Entice people to come to your airport (different colored meeples)
2. Upgrade your terminal, concourse, gates, and planes
3. Move meeples and claim flights to various locations using aforementioned meeples.

The flights are a fairly typical point-scoring mechanic, but the clever bit of the game is that every time you fly/score you have to add that card to your airport, which will then make it more difficult/expensive for people to actually get from Security to the actual Airplane they need. It definitely has potential in the same strategic realm as something like Takenoko or Ticket to Ride.


On my mind:
My summer is finally getting a little less crazy. This past weekend my younger brother got married. I'd say that as best man I gave a rousing speech, but mostly I just cracked jokes. They must not have been good jokes since about 1 minute into my speech, they cut the mic (okay, maybe it was just that the batteries died, but still). Naturally, Marion's single line to contribute to my speech was the most memorable/complimented portion .



Unfortunately, the night before the wedding Marion seriously injured her ankle. It's doing better now (9 days later), but it means limited mobility and 0 biking. I have decided that I much prefer biking on the tandem with her than I do just riding my solo bike. Mainly, it's much easier when I make her do all the work.
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14. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:209]
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Sushi Go Party! x2
Paris Connection
Glass Road
Biblios
Hive



We had a super-busy week but one of Anastasia's great old friends came in for the weekend and we played multiple games with her. There is also a still-ongoing game of Summoner Wars against Grace that might be the longest, most drawn-out match I've ever played. Mercenaries can be real punks sometimes.

Sushi Go Party!
Always fun. We played a very basic game at first to teach, then added lots of wonky options in the second game. I ended up winning on a three-way tie the second game by having a veritable cornucopia of Fruit. I really dislike Fruit as a dessert--it's overly complex for a wonderfully-simple game, but whatever. Anastasia basically said, "collect Fruit, you won't." So I did. I got all of it. I was drowning in it. Then I won. So there.

Paris Connection
Such a delicious game! I started speculating in dead shares and sowed seeds of confusion, then cashed them all back out for high-value shares and crushed the end-game. Excepting a button that auto-sets up the game, it's really quite flawless. A gem of social reasoning.

Glass Road
I really enjoy Glass Road. It's so smart. I also enjoy that it proves Herr Rosenberg can design a very slimline game if he feels like it (spoiler alert, he doesn't). I was thwarted many times during this match, but ended up sneaking in a close win by tweaking my any-time buildings to grab extra windfall for some nice straight-points buildings right at the end.

Biblios
Playing this every week on the week is not a bad thing at all. Quite good at three-players though we're used to two.

Online:
Hive
I played this on BGA because there was a tournament announced. I didn't take part in the tourney, but I do like this game a lot. It's been a mega-long time since I've played, and was contented to get matched up with a rando. Unfortunately, said rando was rude from start to finish, making constant commentary like "wow, have you played this before?" or "that was a dumb move" etc... In the end, I gave it my best shot but lost. I didn't forfeit as it's a short game, but that was a less-than-favorable match. Still a fun abstract that actually interests me.



On My Mind:

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 officially pre-ordered.

I'm having a Stan Rogers renaissance and I've enjoyed every moment of it.

Trying my hand at GMing multiple RPGs has been quite good. Challenging, but a lot of fun.

I managed to actually make lots of progress with multiple long-on-hold PnP projects recently. Hopefully I'll have more fancy Puerto Rico and Container copies ready for my shelf (I've given the others away to localish friends), as well as A Straight Road (finally).
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15. Board Game: Leave It To Beaver Money Maker Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Tumblin-Dice 5
First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet 4
Arcane Academy 1
Solarius Mission 1 NEW! (incomplete)
Star Wars: Destiny 1
Super Motherload 1
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game 1

Review: Cottage Garden isn't anywhere close to being as good as Patchwork.

---

Solarius Mission: We finished three of four rounds since one guy had to leave. There's a lot of moving pieces, so turns were slow as everyone was wrapping their heads about things. I don't really know what to say about the game itself. I was pretty bored most of the way through, but it's not a bad game. It's just the standard bloated medium-heavy Euro that I'm tired of. Plus, the moving around space (i.e., the board) part of the game didn't interest me at all.

First Martians: Three of these plays were solo and one was with Matt, who surprisingly liked the game. I'm pretty confident in my understanding of most of the rules. I'm still not sure I've played a whole game without accidentally cheating though. Things come up and it's hard to know how to resolve it or it's easy to forget an effect. All that said, I'm really enjoying the solo experience and I love the app integration (even if it does still need some improvement and optimization). It was actually pretty weird playing with someone else and having to strategize together. I'm not sure if Matt is interested in the campaign. I plan to continue working my way through the standalone scenarios, replaying some, and eventually moving on to the campaign. So, I guess the game is a keeper.

---

On My Mind:

Gen Con this week! My excitement has started ramping up. Not looking forward the traveling part, but pumped for all the con energy.



Other than that, finished up a quick 5-day auction last night. Got a little extra spending cash for Gen Con and cleared some shelf space.
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16. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei
1880: China

I got a few games in this week! Hooray!

T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei
I have non-spoiler things to say, and many spoiler things to say. I'm definitely using spoiler tags.

First of all, if you choose to play this, I recommend taking extensive notes. That's all I'll say.
EDIT: Apparently this is officially allowed. I did not know this and we've never taken notes. I'm going to have to add a pen and paper to my box.

I enjoyed this, and I enjoyed how much this changed the system and structure from other scenarios. It's definitely more complex than the other scenarios and you need to keep an eye out for certain icons while you play. Our group is notorious for missing anything from icons to "Take item x". There were some complaints about the repetitive nature of this one, but my arguments against that are:
1. Our group complained about that before we actually repeated anything.
2. The way we normally play of practically "montage"ing our way through the repetitive steps combats this.
3. We had a lot less repetition in this game than we did in others.

I'm not entirely happy with the choices our group made, but we all had different opinions (and there were both times I was right and times I was wrong). It doesn't help that it was late and we had our son with us at somebody else's house, so distractions and tiredness was abound.

This is far from my favorite, but I still enjoyed it. I think mostly I want to replay it differently and explore it more. So perhaps that's actually a good thing.

Now on for spoilers.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Seriously, spoilers for Lumen Fidei. Do not read unless you've played it already.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
So we took the easy route, overall. One thing I didn't like in the beginning was realizing how very little your starting faith mattered in the first location.

We decided to switch to the Djinni when we found her because Michael wasn't doing much for us. Jennifer was against it, but we didn't listen and opted to switch.

In the second chapter, we went to the priory first, then a middle city, followed by the lake. It was all informational. We opted to fight for the sword instead of looking to see what the other locations had in store for us because they were thinking the time agency symbol meant (as it usually does) to keep the item between runs. Nope, it means we don't keep it. Either way, the second run through Chapter 2, we got into an early fight with a Black Guard which we took out handily. Then our first location gave us immunity to the other black guard. We then backtracked and found the girls for the lake location, so we proceeded there immediately and moved on to Chapter 3 (without the sword, unfortunately), with only 7 TU.

We started by going straight to the palace and then the third area where we ran out of time. Our second run, we smuggled our way into the city, heard the coded message with our last TU, and didn't know what to make of it. This is the part where, since we don't take notes, we had no idea where to go. We decided to re-visit our palace spaces, found the passage we needed, and tried to solve the puzzle.

Eventually we got it, but with how late it was, we weren't making the best choices. Nobody believed me when I kept repeating that the player who listened to the whispered confession was a traitor, and so we went with it. When we got to the final battle, we took my advice to split up. We realized that all of them, we could easily defeat by taking no action, easily letting us beat up the others. I never knew what the text on the locked card across the table said, just that it showed all 4 black tokens. I thought we needed all 4. No, we just needed any 2. And it gets revealed immediately. So yeah, we got a choice to lose or win by joining the vampires. I was the only won voting that we lose. So we joined the vampires.


1880: China
We played 4-player last Saturday. My only private company was the first one, putting me last in SR order. Three of us started on the Southern part of the map with our Foreign Investors. Several of us got route-locked before the first 3T was bought, but once that 3T was bought we carried on with route building again. I made a horrible mistake, planning on connecting my FI just before communism, but should've seen that I wasn't going to have another run. So communism happened and my FI could no longer upgrade tiles to connect. By the time it was my company's turn again, it's building permit had expired, so even though upgrading any 1 of 3 tiles would've folded the FI in and given me enough money to buy a 6T (the first permanent train).

This resulted me in limping with what I had and depending on my other company to slowly, eventually, build down and connect my first company with the FI, which happened after communism fell. I rarely withheld dividends, even during communism. I withheld just enough to afford permanent trains - since our stock prices wouldn't be affected, while other players withheld much more. This gave me a lot of capital for the intermediate stock rounds to get a much bigger share advantage on the other players. I eventually owned 3 companies with 30/30/40% Director's certificates to maximize my share holdings as well. I ended up winning handily with about over $2000 more than second place.

We all enjoyed it and look forward to another player. But we also wouldn't mind replaying something like 18OE (which another player picked up but hadn't played yet).
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17. Board Game: Gridstones [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:8931]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Cthulhu Wars
Gridstones
Ethnos
Go Cuckoo (x2)
Legend of the 5 Rings LCG
Warhammer 40k 8th Ed
Warhammer 40k Know no Fear

Ugh. BGG ate my post.

Cthulhu Wars
Played with the XOM crew (Mike, Tim, John) on the base Earth map with only expansion factions. My first game was Wind Walker. I started slow, and was targetted pretty heavily. Tim and John were doing pretty well when suddenly Tim stayed out of a few fights as Cthulhu. John jumped to an early lead but couldn't hold on. Elder Sign draws played a huge role, as everyone was within a point or two at the end. A lot of fun, and I enjoyed Wind Walker though I think I enjoy Sleeper just a bit more.

Gridstones
Played a game of this afterwards to cool off. It's an abstract gearing up for a 10th anniversary release. You've got constellation cards in your hand and on your turn you either place or remvoe a stone from the board. The stones are laid in a grid and you're trying to match the constellation card exactly to the layout of stones on the board. It was a lot of fun, I ended up playing two 2-player games fo this on the weekend with my friend.

Ethnos
2 games back to back. The first had a lot of cards that mitigated the risk of overdraw (Elves, Skeletons, Centaurs) and the 2nd used the other 6, so it was the reverse. Trolls are really strong, and strategy-warpingly important in the late game. They bug me a little but w/e. I still really like this game, and we saw a lot of tactical maneuvering around draws and dumps. I think Mike is going to go buy it.

Legend of the 5 Rings LCG
Had the day off on Friday and a friend came over to play this and some 40k. He crushed me in our two games; apparently he's been proxying the cards and playing. We both commented throughout that the single-core experience wasn't a lot of fun/didn't seem great. Some of the factions really seem to depend on multiple cores. For example, Dragon's Stronghold ability leverages attachments, but there are only 3 or 4 attachments in your deck with single core. Meanwhile, Scorpion and Unicorn have abilities that are useful almost every turn. It's going to be really hard to review 1 core of this.

40k
Know No Fear is one of the 3 (!!) starter sets currently available for 8th edition. For new players, I think it might be the best one as it walks you through 6 missions introducing rules as you go and has a good amount of standard minis so you learn if you like the modeling aspect. We went through all the missions, and they were all pretty close. The final battle was a lot of fun, with some good stand-up dice rolls and tension throughout. Still really enjoying 50k.

On my Mind

GenCon! Very busy with meetings and demos, and I'm really looking forward to seeing people (even grace).
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