Heavy Games on Your Table - September, 2017
Brian
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Somerville
Massachusetts
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Welcome to
Heavy Games on Your Table
September, 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...)

Thumb the list if you like what you see!

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1. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Sicily [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Brian
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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When people ask what my favorite game is, I'll generally cite Age of Steam. It's a hard game to get to the table locally, though, so maybe if I ever got the dozen plays in rapid succession I really want to, I'd change my tune.

Last night, I played the new 3p Winsome map, Age of Steam Expansion: Sicily. I was blue, red was another moderately experienced AoS player, and yellow was new to the game.

The map is geographically interesting: a cheap border of plains around the island, dense mountains internally. I very much appreciate that the expansion plays 3p in the number of turns normally assigned to 5p, for a shorter experience.

In this particular play, I won the first auction too cheaply and opened in the west and both other players immediately started duking it out in the east. While we met rapidly in the middle, the density of western cities with good starting cubes gave me a quick lead and I was able to mostly run downhill to victory from there, forming a 7-loop with cubes mostly coming from the westernmost edge of the island for consistently at or near maximum payout, where it wasn't going to be easy for my opponents to interfere with them.

The new player enjoyed the game, and is willing to play again, which is the most important result.
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2. Board Game: Arkwright [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:545]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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Nice session starting with this awesome game (played once a month since the first time wooo hoooo)

2 newbies, 1 second time and 1 4th time players.
Game went really good for me, 2 competitor in each of the products and took nice benefits from my two.
Before mid game I started to fulfill contracts (not many but some) and made lot of money. My shares were not too far from the others and had quite some more shares than the rest.
Ending the game, stopped with my contracts while others started with them, thinking on raising my share value as I had more shares than my opponents, starting with a 3rd factory.

Seems it was not enough, close ending and losing the game by just 2 points!!!!! 506 vs 504!!!!
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3. Board Game: Avertigos: South China Sky [Average Rating:9.08 Unranked]
Siddharth Jain
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore
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So we had another play-test session for our Strategy mode. (We played with simplified rules and not Tournament rules)

Here's a quick graphic I did to introduce the contenders:



Suffice to say Jean Francois and Allan Simonsen (both veterans gamers) were the bookie pick for the winners. Nikkie and Elizabeth enjoyed the crowd support as the underdogs.

Avertigos is a heavier game with point-to-point tactical movement, engine building and set collection. Since it was a team game there was more aggression and less of the negotiation/betrayal element that usually comes with free for all.

The game started in a bit of a gold rush with both teams trying to manoeuvre themselves into an advantage over their favoured trade routes and strategic objectives.



After about 30 minutes of play the Superheroes gave the first hint to their ship-of-the-wall strategy with a ship that JF titled as the Bull.

With two banks of forward facing rockets it could sit behind a screen of lighter patrol boats and rain havoc on their rival's fleet.



The biscuit monsters lost 2 of their patrol boats and a scout ship to the bull quite quickly. They also ceded control of the coffee bean trade route that they had been trying to angle towards.

With only one scout ship afloat (and temporarily safe behind the pirate islands)and 4 islands in their control things were looking quite grim for the challengers.

At this point the rival teams agreed to a temporary cease fire. The favourites stepped away from the field to celebrate their impending victory with a refill of wine. While the contenders excused themselves to use the facilities.

On their return and the renewal of hostilities the contenders pooled their finances and commissioned a frigate. Equipped with short-range weapons and extra armour and entering the conflict zone at the highest altitude the ship looked fearsome.

It looked doubtful that it could get near enough to the Bull to make a difference without taking significant damage.



However, it transpired that the challengers' excuse to use the facilities was just that. They had used their time away from surveillance to discuss strategy.

The Frigate performed a daring dive and approached the Bull with unexpected velocity and from an equally unexpected angle. The extra armour was not needed to soak the punishment the Bull could dish out but rather to survive the extreme manoeuvre.

For all its formidable arsenal the Bull proved to be somewhat of a glass cannon in a fist fight.

The game continued to-and-fro for a good 115 minutes but between the wine and the frequent strategic surprises (often preceded by bathroom breaks) the Heavyweights eventually lost the contest.
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4. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:49]
Holger Schmid
Germany
Koblenz
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This game was introduced to me as one that inspired several modern worker placement games. So, I gave it at try last week.

To keep it short: this game is a beast! The rules explanation took 40 minutes and the game itself went almost 3 hours with four players. Playing it the first time, I noticed quite fast that it definitely helps if you have played this game before, so two of my opponents had quite some advantage.

Nevertheless, I tried to come up with a good plan: building the site that allows the construction of stone building as fast as possible to force my opponents to use my site. Well, this did not turn out that great as my site was used only two times the entire game. Thus, I went on and built the advanced market which subsequently was only used by me… In contrast to that, the architect of an opponent and the advanced resource generation sites were used all the time and I was always one step too slow: while other players gathered loads of resources, I was falling behind because I could not get the lucrative spots.

As a result, I changed my strategy once more, trying to accumulate as many coins as possible in order to buy the needed resources. My further plan was to build the church and then start to convert my numerous coins to points. However, due to my last position in turn order, an opponent destroyed also this plan by building the church.

As a consequence, I tried to gather my points via the construction of the castle. This worked out quite well gaining me lots of royal favors and a steady income of points. However, my opponents went heavily into prestige buildings and I was stranded behind. The mechanism of the steward and seneschal might have changed things a bit if we would have ganged up against the leader so that he could not build and end the game during the same turn. Though this would have meant “mean bargaining” and it was enough for the leading player to persuade just the other rooky player to not intervene so that he could finish the game.

Summarizing, I have quite mixed feelings about this session: maybe the game is quite unforgiving, maybe I should not have changed my plans so often, maybe you should be more ruthless and try to obstruct your opponents much more. Anyhow, I’ll give this game one more try very soon – everyone deserves a second chance.
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5. Board Game: The Climbers [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1111]
Will Beckley
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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I stuck around after Modern Art to teach my host another of his Gen Con acquisitions and to answer a question for myself:

Is The Climbers, which I have only played with 5 and which I love, a good 2-player game?



Answer: Not really, especially with all the other 2-player options out there and specifically Santorini scratching some of the same itches. I'll keep this one to a minimum of three players from now on.
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6. Board Game: Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62 [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:1528]
Todd Carter
United States
Neptune
New Jersey
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I played this Friday with a friend. We both know Fire in the Lake and other COIN games well. But, this was our first experience with Colonial Twilight. I really enjoyed the game, but my opponent was struggling a bit with how exactly he should win even when we played a second game switching sides. Both games were full scenario but played under 2 and a half hours each.

As the Government, I focused on securing cities first and then taking out insurgent bases. I was helped a lot by an early propaganda round. The challenge throughout the long second campaign was that FLN took a momentum that prevented attacks and assaults from happening. So, I was really reliant on neutralizing my opponent's pieces and hoping to take out bases. I think I had a capability that made neutralizing more effective as well. The game ended in 2 campaigns.

In our second game, the Government didn't secure the cities before the first propaganda and suffered from terrorist attacks. (He raised support without eliminating all the insurgents in the cities.) The FLN then managed to eliminate support in a sector the government was trying to secure and build bases like crazy. There was a lot more death and destruction in this game and the FLN was beginning to feel the pinch of guerillas going out of play. Luckily, it ended in 3 campaigns.

Overall, we enjoyed the games immensely and look forward to giving it another try. I'm already thinking about how I should have played the government more efficiently now that I know what exactly the insurgents can do.
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7. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:618]
Ron
Netherlands
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If I'm remembering correctly, this is my first time posting in this geeklist series, even though I find heavier games the most satisfying Playing a 'grail game' for the first time justifies posting!

After being generally unhappy with the Container reprint campaign, I bought a first edition copy off the 'Bay, so after a few years of being very interested in this one, I finally got to play it!

As far as our session goes: we were four people who had never played Container, two of which are okay with heavier games, but don't regularly play them. So we did well not to ruin the economy to the point of stagnation, but still had people bidding way high on every shipment. I won by landslide by shipping less than others, but cherry picking and only buying low. My last-turn shipment earned me way more than it was worth and voilá, a sound win.

But what an awesome game! The only time I had less of an idea of what a good strategy would look like was when playing Go for the first time

Photographic evidence:

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8. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:50]
Bryan Carpenter
United Kingdom
Haverhill
Suffolk
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I finally got this back to the table on Saturday! (It had been nearly 4 years since my last play). There were due to be four of us but one guy dropped out at the last minute. We figured that playing three animals should still provide enough conflict so no need for each of us to play two animals. I set up the six animals and let the first player choose an animal, he chose Birds. We then removed the adjacent and opposite animals to the birds which left the other two of us with animals to choose that were equidistant. I got Reptiles and my other mate got Amphibians.


After a quick refresh of the rules we got stuck in. We noticed a few interesting things happen. The Birds and Reptiles seemed to spend the whole game competing with each other over similar elements while the Amphibians player just got on with it (and won in the end).

Possibly due to the similarity of the Birds and Reptiles needs, the grass element was never needed by any animal and never made an appearance on the board. The board did seem to consist of about 50% suns, though!

Finally, 'grubs' will forever been known in my gaming group as prawns. Frankly, because they are pink and look like prawns!



It was a very enjoyable 2.5 hours but the Amphibian player was in control the whole game. I even consciously took a couple of swipes at him to knock him out of his strong position but couldn't do enough as I was trying to defend from the Birds player.

Much fun, and I hope we'll play this more now.
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9. Board Game: Lignum (second edition) [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:1691]
Chris Broadbent
United States
Covington
Washington
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Friday night saw Lignum on my table. I failed to snap any pictures - I'll have to get better at this hobby of discussing our hobby.

It was my first game, the second for two players, and the third for one player. As seemed the design intent, everyone's plans were tossed out on their ear repeatedly each season. The planning aspect really seems to ramp up later in the game. The first season or two is laying groundwork, and you really aren't getting much done. And you don't have much income to do it anyway.

Early on, I planned some work to increase firewood production (6 pieces when sawn instead of 4). Most went to my winter stores, but I sold enough to get me through the next couple seasons. I later planned to have my sawyers able to each saw 2 rounds with a single saw the season that my flotilla of logs arrived down the river, which I had also planned to give me 2 food per log I unloaded that same season. (I suppose the logs snagged on berry bushes overhanging the banks and spawning salmon leapt into my logpile accidentally - good thing I had planned for that!) It was a great season and gave me all the cash I needed to see me through the end of the second year, all but one of the firewood I needed for winter, the balance of the food I needed for winter, and all but 2 wood I needed to fulfill 2 tasks. I completed the one I had bought that season (2nd summer) and was eying the second task to buy in the second fall.

That fall, I needed 1 cutter, 2 sawyers, 1 saw, and 1 task card. I could skip everything else. I was well out in front of the pack, getting just what I needed, but then someone screamed around half the track and stole the second sawyer. I spent a goodly amount of time trying to figure out what I was going to do to recover. I had, unfortunately, forgotten I could saw and complete tasks in the winter, so I resigned myself to selling some wood rounds and sticks and paying $3 for my missing firewood for winter.

That little oversight, forgetting to buy a saw to use in winter, cost me the game - it was a 21 point task that I didn't get to fulfill. Subtracting the sale prices of the logs and adding the money I spent on not having firewood, it was a 19-point oversight.

The final scores were 46, 44, 42 (me), and 26.

I assert that I lost because I forgot to buy a saw in the 2nd fall.
The guy who did win had a planned work that failed (he forgot only 2 sticks can sit in his aging areas - he had planned to extra age them and even had huts to help out, but not the sticks to age) and so his second task was unfulfilled. He would have gotten quite a few points off of it - it is hard to say who would have won if we hadn't both goofed. Second place had wanted to try making tons of firewood, but his planned actions ended up being a minor explosion, rather than the intended detonation because that same someone jumped out and took some of what he needed, preventing him from harvesting and transporting and sawing all he intended.

The always-in-your-way player wasn't typically doing it deliberately, but he did take 4th, which suited me just fine.

Everyone else seemed to prefer the blind forest selection (as opposed to first to the end, first to choose). I think I would prefer the tension of choosing forests to be factored into my track walking and turn order selection, rather than being a separate tension, independent from much of the rest of the game. Instead of being a calculated risk in how fast you get to a forest, it is a calculated risk in guessing where others might go. Picking up items in town is done because you need them. It just so happens that others need them, too, so it gives the appearance of blocking or sniping, but in almost every case, it is just good play to advance your own designs, independent of any fringe-benefit of perturbing someone else. The blind forest selection, then, feels out of place and disconnected to the feel of the rest of the game.
Does anyone else have thoughts on that? Who has played it both ways and can comment for me?
Thanks!
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10. Board Game: Lisboa [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:78]
James Klemm
United States
Concord
CA
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We completed a 4 player game of Lisboa on Wednesday night. Though I came in last, I learned how important influence can be and how difficult it is to obtain compared with The Gallerist, where influence is easily obtainable. I also will try next time to focus more on production buildings, waiting on the public buildings for later. The public buildings are nice though, because they grant 2 cubes.
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11. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:222]
Maida F.
United States
Vallejo
California
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I wish I could play this more as it takes me several rounds to finally settle into what kind of strategy I want to try! I do love this game though. And am working on finding others to love it with me
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12. Board Game: Mini Rails [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1729]
Will Beckley
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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Next up was Mini Rails, which was a Gen Con acquisition of our host. I really enjoyed this one. The constraints of your turn marry nicely with the reasons to select one company or another (invest, stock appreciation, stock depreciation, turn order, or tax payment) to make a game that is much larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The biggest lesson from this game is the importance of counting the discs as the game reaches its later turns. One player expanded red to our mutual benefit vs the third player, but didn't realize that was red's last disc. As a result, red did not score. None of us really saw that coming until it had happened, but that mistake shaped the rest of our game.

The turn order mechanism is pretty great (the selection of company disc also determines next turn's order), though it resulted in me being last every single one of the six turns. While that might be considered an advantage, I wasn't left with too many relevant choices in my position of power. Still, my game was as tense and juicy as everyone else.

As best as I can tell, the game hinges on just one or two investments made differently than your opponents, or at different times from them. I suspect that 4 is the sweet spot in terms of player count, and also that all of my assumptions will crumble on even just one more play. There's a lot under the hood here, and finding it will be effortless because it is so enjoyable and so quick and easy to get played.



Incidentally, we moved from this to the equally breezy but far less crunchy Kingdomino, which had the same turn order mechanism.
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13. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:216]
Will Beckley
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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The three of us closed out our day with my favorite Knizia, Modern Art. I just got the new CMON printing, and it was a delight to play with. I still have some qualms with the auction iconography choices, but I solved that problem to my own satisfaction. The actual art on the cards, the size of the cards, the chunky money, and the large and clear value board all come together to, ironically, get out of the way of the game. The game is no different, of course,* but the previous American printings were always sort of annoying in use. I find that I haven't played the game in years, largely because I couldn't persuade others to want to play it when they looked inside the (massive) box of my 90s-era Mayfair copy (and our host showed me that what was in the tiny 00s-era Mayfair printing was even worse).

I've always been pretty good at the game, playing tactically but leaning on making money from auctions with a strong dash of my high school theater background and my Bohnanza trader's pushiness. This game was no different, with two being the most paintings I ever acquired in a season. One opponent played strongly, grabbing paintings by the truckload and ending every season by crowning the winning artist, including gobbling up one of his own 2x cards for free because we wanted more time, then grabbing a pile of money for that freely-acquired card. But it wasn't enough to overcome my strong salesmanship, and I won 510-410-402.

It didn't seem worth grabbing a picture of the end state of this game, which is a shame just because this new printing is so lovely. A bargain at the price, and a game for every gamer's collection.




*Actually, now if you provide the second card in a 2x auction, you get all of the payout, but the original "split-the-payout" outcome is included as a variant; I don't know how important this change is, as I haven't encountered that case much.
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14. Board Game: Murano [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:918]
Scott Nelson
United States
American Fork
Utah
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Question is: Is this heavy enough for this geeklist? The design has deep strategies, but playing the game isn't anything earth-shattering. I just moved so this was one of the only titles that I could find to play, so it was played twice, and then the Ibyron prototype was tested for co-op advanced game (tri-hex tiles used=5 types). Eventually the rest was found and unpacked (10 boxes) games, 3 boxes more prototype stuff.

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15. Board Game: Northern Pacific [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:3279]
Will Beckley
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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I got together with a couple friends yesterday for a long session of gaming, and while the main event was scheduled to be Small City, I insisted that we open with an "appetizer" play of the new-to-us-all Northern Pacific, Tom Russell's perfect little morsel of shifting situational alliances and incentive management. I included in my rules explanation the bullet points as I remembered them from Cole Wehrle's wonderful strategy article, and I'm glad I did. We had an interesting, tense game with a lot of close play, and I'm sure if we'd gone in with rules alone it would have been far less any of those things.

I won the match 12-8-6, and I credit that to two things. Firstly, I think I did slightly better than my opponents in occupying the perspective of the player to my right, so my investments slightly better anticipated what he might do. More importantly, I think, I wasn't afraid to move the train. As much as we all tried to get others to do the work for us, I made the jump a number of times when I felt like I'd made all of the investments I felt comfortable with. By the time the train reached Idaho, I knew that there was nothing to be gained for me with a longer game, and I ran the train to Seattle at top speed, giving my opponents a few opportunities to grab points along the way, but nonetheless securing my victory.

I think it would be fair to say that my opponents went into the game skeptically, but everyone really loved it. We left it set up on the other end of the table for the rest of the day so that we could go back for more quick rounds; that never happened, but I'm sure we'll see this again and again in future sessions.
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16. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:35]
Bleicher
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
MG
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There was a big, all-day gaming event this Saturday, which I managed to arrive at 13h, and so I had the opportunity of playing three really nice games. And the first one was Power Grid, one of those games I-should-obviously-have-played-before-but-didn't.

I knew Friese from his lighter games. Fearsome Floors is one of our favorite ways of entertaining a big amount of people (even 7 players are possible), while also being a very interesting game with less (with too many it is too chaotic, but with fewer players it is a nice tactical game). I also had Famiglia, an interesting 2-player game.

But Power Grid is completely different. It is a very, very interesting design which has some of those things that click with me - a bit of network building, a supply-and-demand simulation, and auctions, lots of auctions.

At first I had the feeling there was a very heavy luck factor related to the way new power plants appear - you can spend a lot of money for something you believe is a great deal, and then a clearly much better one appears immediately after you bought it and someone else can get it for face value. But then I got the impression (I still don't know if that's the case, I really need to play it more) that this effect is somewhat minimized by the fact that everybody will eventually have the opportunity of getting good plants.

Also, it seemed to me it is perfectly possible to fight back after a bad start. It left me wondering if it also meant it would punish players who play well in order to keep everybody with a chance at the end of the game, but even though in the end the scores were quite close (three out of four players had plants that could power 17 cities, the endgame trigger on that player count), the winner still was the player who clearly played better than anyone else.
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17. Board Game: Small City [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:1864]
Will Beckley
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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After Northern Pacific, we jumped in to Small City, a game we've really fallen head-over-heels in love with. This was my third play in about a month's time, the third as well for one opponent and the second for the other. On a whim we decided to mix it up by playing on the easy side of the Small City: Player boards Expansion #1 – The Beach board, which really changed the play in a lot of subtle, nuanced ways. On those boards there is a slightly irregular coastline along the top edge. The ocean is treated as a giant cultural building, but all of the "beach" spaces that border the water cost an additional $1 to build or expand on. To help out, all players start with $2 more than normal, and to make sure no one saves that pricy real estate for residences by keeping their industrial zone far inland, the wharf's two water spaces must be played overlapping the water.

I was dealt the 18 point card for 3 size 3 factories, but I wasn't certain I could do that with the restrictions on the wharf (it can be done; another player did it), so I passed it up. My 12 point card was to get all 22 residents into your city, and my 6 point card was to max out two of the favor tracks. I took the easy way out and went with the 6 point card. Having no specific building goal to meet left me deciding to lean into the advantages of the beach board, so I aimed to get two size-5 residences and occupy them for their 30 votes per turn as many times as I could. This was a tricky strategy for me to pursue, differing radically from others I've employed in the past. I was the first to host the mayor, and the other players correctly identified where my industrial zone was to be, delaying my factory builds for a turn, which really hurt my population growth. Meanwhile, I misplaced a residential zone on the first turn, making it impossible for me to build my second factory and its warehouse (a problem I solved by building that factory as a size 2 with no warehouse, as well as an extraneous size 1 factory elsewhere just for its warehouse). Past that, I followed my plan reasonably well, maintaining the lowest pollution in the early game, and planning my builds and cultural buildings "just-so". Eventually my population problems were solved, and I popped one of my size-1 residences to a size-5 in a single build phase and spent the last four turns generating 15 points per turn there. My second size 5 was delayed when I lost the metro station I was building (and had on my board) due to turn order. As I saved for the building that took its place, I neglected to grow it to a size 4, and the turn seven mayor blocked that growth, so I only got 1 turn of double size-5s instead of 2.

Still, I thought I was in good shape. I finished with 105 points, minus the 35 pollution my booming population had generated in excess of the parks I built as quickly as I could expand my borders (which were pretty tightly filled). So 70 points. One opponent had way more points, but WAY more pollution, and predictably had the 18-point promise of more than 40 pollution. When the final tally came in for him, he was left with... 70 points! I narrowly beat him with the tiebreaker of lowest pollution. Meanwhile, my other opponent seemed to be pursuing a versatile, unfocused strategy, and he was amassing a lot of points while keeping his pollution very low. He met his 12-point goal of 3 parks larger than size 4, and so his final score was 71. Final score was 71-70-70, and there is no greater feeling than spending hours of tense, tough play with two great friends and coming out statistically tied (any number of friendly mulligans during the game could have resulted in a few points one way or the other; any of us could have won).

I'm really enjoying my personal growth in this game. Every game I make mistakes that I can identify pretty quickly, but every game I'm making different mistakes. Meanwhile, we're all getting quicker and I've devised a system that makes setup a bit easier, so I think this will be seeing more and more play. I'm anxious to try the other expansions (I finally got the one I was missing, and I eagerly await Asian Cities), but I'm just as happy to play vanilla too. We really just love this one.

Mirror, we need to get you in next time!

Here's my city at game's end. There was a tourist grave in that one unoccupied beach space, but that (and the other player boards) got cleared after dinner before I could take photos...

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18. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:11]
Bleicher
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
MG
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So in the last day of September I finally played something that is said to be heavy. But to be honest, I just confirmed this isn't really my cup of tea.

My first play was in January and, simply because I always like to play with yellow, I played with the fakirs, said to be the worst faction of the game, and still won in a table with people who played the game before, which I found to be odd.

This time I played with two more players, only one having playing it before (Fernando, with the green) and a newbie (Rafaela, with black). As required by tradition, I played with yellow again (but this time with the nomads), and we did the beginner three player setup recommended in the box.

Knowing that having the biggest city is what won me the game in January, I worked in order to secure that against Fernando (I thought Rafaela wasn't a threat on that as she was split in the beginning of the game - I was wrong) and then tried to do more or less what was scripted in the game rounds. This rounds gives points for outposts? Let's build those outposts! Do I get points for building those chunky buildings? Let's convert those outposts to chunky buildings and blah blah blah.

So I was getting a big lead throughout the game, until Fernando got some elyptical piece that give him a bonus that, coupled with the bonus he already have from his faction, began accumulating quite a big number of points. And I didn't pay attention to the colored track bonuses, meaning that in the end I was second to Fernando who secured two #1 and two #2 in the tracks and won by a ~10 point advantage against me.

It's not that I dislike this game, but it makes me a bit sad that this is what "excellent euro" means these days. The biggest problems to me is that is too long and the downtime can be terrible. There's nothing really to do between turns except moving the purple thingies if someone builds anything nearby, and since there is such a huge list of possible things to do, the game can suffer a lot when there are AP-prone players. We spent ~3h in a 3-player game and I'd rather have a 4-hour 1846 session (I still can't play it in less than this), as I know I wouldn't feel the game was taking so long.

Anyway, since we started early, the rest of the night was spent with two non-heavy games: Ra and Trick of the Rails, which I enjoyed much more.
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19. Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:916]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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2 plays in a row, being both amazing, and losing also both

First play was quite quiet, became emperor quite soon (1st chance I had) and kept it for 3 turns, getting lot of points. In the meantime the other were facing some barbarian issues while seeing the power of Rome.
Not enough time, they focused on Rome and beat me up. Another emperor with stronger position took my place. Forgot about it and tried to go back to my original thoughts of having a quiet empire and trying to be pretender. Well, is not a good idea changing plans so heavily so soon.
Last play was a kind of letting the other player win, few points were needed for him. My play made me available to win on my next turn, but the few points he needed were awarded by some barbarians.

Second play was more aggressive, lot of fights, lot of barbarians on the map and many interaction between players. This is a thing I love about this game. Your start could be quite similar, but all plays are different.
This time I was without chances almost all the game. A soon attack of barbarians left me in a bad position, recovering step by step while the rest went for Rome several times.
Near the end I was close in points, but there was thing that was sure... I needed Rome!!!! A desperate governor action put me in the Throne, giving me some chances, not many but some. The situation in Rome was weird.... Troops from several players and none from the emperor.
A hard fight for Rome was the end of the game, with no emperor lasting more than one turn

Loving the game, really a master piece
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20. Board Game: Tramways [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1087]
Joel Oakley
United States
Brandon
Mississippi
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With the arrival of some new expansion content for Tramways, I was excited to be able to play the New York map (from Tramways: Paris / New York) tonight with my wife. It was a very enjoyable time, even if we completely ignored the added park tile from Tramways: Grand Station (it actually was more of an obstacle than an attractive location to my mind - perhaps I will try to utilize it next time).

My stress was high (but only in game terms) by the end of the game, and I even hit the 21 stress penalty for the first time. However, my huge rail network allowed me to do some super-happiness-inducing deliveries to leisure buildings, especially in the last 2 rounds. The bridge building was a cool twist on the base game, and it definitely created a bit of a bottleneck for us.



Overall, I like the New York map, but I will probably only play it occasionally since I really love the modular boards of the base game. Of the currently unplayed expansion content, I am probably most interested in the rivers module from the Tramways: The Tramways of Small City expansion, since that will provide bridge building options while maintaining the modular board.
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21. Board Game: Trickerion: Legends of Illusion [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:153]
Holger Schmid
Germany
Koblenz
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This game which did not get too many attention was played in one of my gaming groups two times this September: once in a four player round and once with just 2 players.

Three features really caught my attention:

Fistly, the theme and artwork are really immersise. A game about early 20 th century magicians? That's really fresh and unique. The art on the cards depicting the different tricks you are performing reflects the retro look and the game board and player boards have a like little touch of industrial steampunkish charme.

Secondly, the worker placement is performed in a quite interesting way: all players simultaniously slot in a card for each of their workers secretly determining his/her destination. Then, all cards are revealed and each player has a turn in turn order. This creates a nice dilemma: you know where your opponents are heading but when do they go there? Of course, there are definitly better spots on the board then others. Timing can be extremely important in the theater as the magician giving the earliest show may deside which show to perform and might sneak some points from other magicians performing later.

Thirdly, this game uses a quite clever mechanic for the dummy player in the two player mode: a card is drawn each round from a deck and tells everyone which worker placement spots are already occupied. As this constantly changes, the simulation of the missing two real players works quite well and you always have to adapt to a given situation.



Our two sessions took quite some time (tree hours minimum). Okay, the first game you are still learning and exploring. However, also the second game with only two player also lasted three hours. Playing this game, you have to keep checking so many moving parts - when to prepare a show, when to hire new assistance, what properties to buy, which new tricks to learn? AP can really become a serious issue - especially when you have to prapare tricks in a way to get a maximum of chain bonuses which lets everyone go: "All right, let's put this here like that and this so and that... Oh no these two have to match ... Then the second one has to go this way ... No wait, I can rotate the first one ... but mechanical tricks bring extra points this turn ... So, I'll change tricks. Or do I want to prepare tricks in for two different shows..." As preparing and performing tricks is the only source of points, this bottleneck in gameplay flow was almost palpable. And due to limited or unatractive spots in the theater, more than two shows in one game round are unlikely. This means it is quite certain that each round someone will do this quite fiddle puzzle slowing the rest down. However, due to the fact that everyone has to do it from time to time, it's o.k.

We actually liked the feeling of getting a great magic show started: first you start with some quite unspectacular trick like hypnosis, mind reading or getting out of a pillory. The you go outand get new props, learn better tricks and hire specialists and in the end you might let elephants disappear or are burried alive.
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