What Couples Have Been Playing – September 2017
Kate U
Canada
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Ontario
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A Couple of Gamers Welcomes You To

What Couples Have Been Playing
September 2017

Back To School!

ABC


Hello everyone and welcome to the monthly "What Couples Have Been Playing" Geeklist. This is very much a geeklist for couples by couples, and we can't wait to see what you have been playing. Feel free to post geek list items, and comments on other peoples items — don't forget to thumb! And mingle with the community in the comments below.

What you need to do:

1/ Play a game as a couple within the month of September.
2/ Post a geeklist entry after you've played.
3/ Let us know how it played.
4/ Provide feedback for others (and give them a thumb).

Previous Geeklists
What Couples Have Been Playing - August 2017
What Couples Have Been Playing - July 2017
What Couples Have Been Playing - June 2017
What Couples Have Been Playing - May 2017


Resources for Couples

A Couple of Gamers Guild

Couples of the Geek

Newbie Couples Games

Cooperative Games For Couples

What Couples Have Been Playing Monthly Geeklist SUBSCRIPTION THREAD

A massive thank you to Kevin L. Kitchens
Kevin L. Kitchens
United States
Gainesville
Georgia
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for creating our very own aggregator. Please check it out here: http://couples.onesuponagame.com

And of course to Ryan Olden
Ryan Olden
Wales
Cardiff
Cardiff
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our fearless leader, who will hopefully resume normal service in a month or two.


Tasks and Challenges

I don't know about you, but this time of year always feels like a time of renewal to me, maybe even more than a new calendar year. There's something about that back-to-school feeling... nothing like a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils!

Heading back to school was always about making new friends, having new experiences, and a chance to learn and try new things...

With that in mind, I find myself making "resolutions" about what I"m going to accomplish. How will that translate into gaming? Maybe you'll try a different type of game than what you normally gravitate to. Maybe you'll approach learning a complicated new game thoroughly, or approach an old game in a new way... Maybe it's simply that your kids are heading back to school for real, so you find yourself able to sneak in a little extra couples gaming time! Whatever it is, share your couples gaming with us here!

As always, please be respectful and remember this is a "what we played" list rather than a discussion thread. And above all, enjoy your gaming.
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked]
Greg Darcy
Australia
Blue Mountains
New South Wales
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Pennsylvania Map

Penultimate play for this map.

She seems to have sussed out how to play the Share market. Though to be fair, She was in front from the get go. But she really pulled ahead with the shares.

kiss 229
arrrh 190 cry
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2. Board Game: Pandemic: The Cure [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:238]
Kate U
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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This was another one on the birthday pile last week, and we broke it out tonight. It's quick to the table, easy to learn, and we enjoy a good dice chucking game, which is why it was so high up on my wishlist! Also, any familiarity with original Pandemic makes it especially easy to pick up.

We lost both games we tried, both on the outbreak track. The Medic and the Contingency Planner were a disaster together, and without the power to move around, we lost quickly. Good synergy between the Dispatcher and the Generalist, and we came very close to a win on that game.

The push-your-luck element is hard to resist — you can re-roll as much as you like on your turn, but every biohazard roll advances you along the epidemic track, increasing infection rates and causing additional outbreaks.

In general, if you like working together and throwing dice, you'll enjoy this one a lot.
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3. Board Game: Valletta [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:2568]
Matt Hindmarch
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Learned this one today. I was victorious, 80 to 75. Tight game. This is a solid "Yeah, okay." Light and enjoyable euro with easy decision set, not too brain-burny. Just right for the kind of thing we were looking for. There are times when this just won't be enough.
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4. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:29]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Recently acquired Concordia, after several years of having it on my wishlist but always finding some reason not to buy it in the end. The reason I at last bought it was that I wanted more five player games, and I had not intended to play it much 2 player.

Anyway, I have now played it three times with my wife and the verdict is that I find it very good indeed. I can see how it will be even better with more, but I can still recommend it as a two player game. It will be much tighter with more, and for some players that is not a good thing. The only thing that worries me is a lack of replayability. The same map and cards are used every time, and I can see how it might be a bit samey after a while. At the same time I am not sure if a new map is worth the money. I would like more cards, but apparently that would mess up the balance too much as after 4 years no such cards have been released.

I have now managed to buy two good games in a row, the other one being Feast for Odin, which turned out to be awesome. I now have Yokohoma set up to be played soon, and I feel it just might be three in a row... Fingers crossed.
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5. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:999]
Greg Darcy
Australia
Blue Mountains
New South Wales
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World Map

Penultimate play

The harbours are important in this map. She was ahead on routes and tickets. But she had only one ticket for each harbour. I had two. And that was enough to pull ahead.

arrrh 284
kiss 270 cry

But it was a low scoring game for this map. We are usually in the 300s, and have hit the 400s on occasion.
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6. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:62]
Nigel N
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We bought Tigris and Euphrates last November, almost a year ago. We played it once, which went quite well, but somehow we hadn't had the mood/drive to put it on the table a second time.

A few days ago, we decided to dust off the box and play the game. We played with a variant found here, which reduces the number of tiles and treasures in play to limit the game length and increase tension. Wow, the game is very good indeed.

The game lasted for around an hour, which is shorter than I expected. Despite the quickness, there were a few numbers of fights, one of which was quite epic that seems to be the deciding battle making my girlfriend the winner.

To some, the game may appears dry. Nevertheless, I found the game to be engaging. Kingdoms arise as civilisations develop their markets, farms, etc. Meanwhile, like I said, we had quite a few internal conflicts and external conflicts throughout the game. It is quite thematic, especially external conflicts where tiles of the lost kingdom will be removed, signalling the fall of an empire.

I'm really impressed that our good Doctor designed such an amazing tile laying game this strategic and thematic 20 years ago. No wonder it is still in the top 100 of BGG today.

We both agree that we should play the game more often to fully appreciate its beauty and depth.
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7. Board Game: Mythos Tales [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:1231]
Kevin Shaud
United States
Landisville
Pennsylvania
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After playing the first two investigations solo and enjoying them, I convinced my wife to play the game with me and we went through Investigation Three - The King Cometh on Saturday. Be aware that you definitely will want to print out the errata for this game as there are several things that will affect how you find clues, etc. I have read a lot of complaints about this in the forums and while it is a bit frustrating, it's almost unavoidable with the way that this game works. There are just so many specific references, locations, entries, and leads that it doesn't take much of an oversight to throw something off track. If you check out the errata, it will save you a lot of frustration.

For anyone whose played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, the game play will feel very familiar. You go from location to location, visiting different places and talking to different people to gather clues and leads. You take notes on what you find out and continue to follow-up on clues. The three main differences between this game and SHCD are: the backstory (classic Holmes vs. Cthulhu mythos), the time factor (you have a set amount of time in MT that limits how many places you can visit), and the use of requirement cards.

Investigation three is a bit longer than most and more difficult in that the questions at the end require some more specific answers. There were a few leads that we didn't follow-up on (running out of time) and that definitely hurt us when it came to the questions. We ended up scoring 14 points, but had to subtract 7 due to penalties to end at 7 against 13+ needed for a win.

My wife and I both enjoyed the game. I used to own SHCD and it just fell flat with me. I find the theme here more interesting and the backstory more compelling. I also felt that SHCD required some large leaps of deductive logic that seemed a bit thin, whereas MT feels more linear.

Bottom line: If you enjoy SHCD and like games involving the Cthulhu mythos, you'll almost definitely like this game. Even if you didn't care for SHCD, but are a fan of the Cthulhu mythos you might enjoy this game.

Recommended for couples (out of three stars)?
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8. Board Game: Unfair [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:691]
Matt Hindmarch
United States
Denver
Colorado
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We played another round of Unfair (Gangster / Ninja). I win 123 to 95. Those two park themes are increased "take that." Still an enjoyable game for two.
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9. Board Game: Santa Cruz [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1700]
Kevin Shaud
United States
Landisville
Pennsylvania
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My wife and I played this earlier today. It was our second play of this one and we have enjoyed it both times.

This is a pretty simple game and fairly quick to play. The game is played over the course of two rounds, with the second one being more strategic as you're aware of the cards that the other players has save to possibly one scoring card. On your turn, you either play a building card or a scoring card. When you play a scoring card, all players who qualify will score so you're trying not to score a card when your opponent will benefit as well.

I was trailing most of the game, but made the most of some scoring opportunities in the second round including one time when my wife had to play a scoring card that benefitted me and not her (you must play all of your cards each round). I ended up winning by around 10 points.

Recommended for couples (out of three stars)?
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10. Board Game: Temporum [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2217]
Kevin Shaud
United States
Landisville
Pennsylvania
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This is another one that we hadn't played in a while and broke out today. It was good with two, but I think it's better with three or four. The two-player game isn't nearly as dynamic so we didn't find ourselves changing time all that often. I managed to just squeak by; playing a scoring card that let me advance the last five crown spaces I needed for the win. My wife only needed six more moves so she could have probably done that on her next turn.

Recommended for couples (out of three stars)?
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11. Board Game: Federation & Empire ISC War [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Ryan Witmer
United States
Burien
Washington
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With the holiday weekend coming up, we decided to play a short (for us) game over the weekend.

We finished our epic seven-month Federation & Empire campaign last month, but this expansion set has been calling to me, so we broke it out.

The Interstellar Concordium (ISC) was the only major power that did not take part in the General War (the subject of our previous game). The ISC is a pacifistic empire that was horrified at the events of the General War and decided to take it upon themselves to enforce the shaky peace by any means necessary.

This expansion set adds the full ISC fleet, plus scenarios for the ISC Pacification War. The ISC's plan was to occupy the neutral zones between the formerly warring empires and forcibly prevent any future military buildup on those borders.

The pacification effort is divided into eight "cordons," each of which can be played individually or combined with neigboring cordons to create bigger games. At the extreme, you can play all eight cordons in a mega-campaign. Since this was our first experience with the ISC, we decided to just play cordon alpha, which is where the pacification begins.

Cordon alpha is the neutral zone between the Romulans and Gorns. For this game, I played the ISC and my wife played the Romulans and Gorns. The ISC's goal is to enforce a "no-fly" zone within two hexes of the neutral zone, and they score points for hexes that are clear of enemy ships.

The other powers need to assert their sovereignity by violating this no-fly zone as flagrantly as possible. They score points for every unit they can maintain in the cordon enforcement area, the inner row of hexes being worth the most points.

The economic situation is also very interesting. There are rules to simulate each empire's military and economic commitment to the other cordons, and resources are very tight.


The Pacification begins. Red chips mark the cordon boundaries

I do but keep the peace: Put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me!
Romeo and Juliet, translated from the original Klingon


This game played very differently from our previous one. The combination of tight resources and cat-and-mouse movement made for a fun game. I was a having a lot of trouble at the beginning, mostly because I was trying to figure out how the ISC fleet works.

One thing I figured out quickly was that the special ISC echelon formation is one of the keys to the game.


Forming the ISC echelon

The echelon, which requires the use of the special PPD ships, offers several bonuses to the ISC in combat. My wife came to be very frustrated with her inability to damage my best ships because they were protected by the mighty echelon.


Intense pacification action

As the game went on, it seemed like things were finally turning around in my favor. On turn 8 (of 10) I even managed to nearly clear the entire cordon. This was my moment of greatness.


A peaceful border, but for how long?

Before I could even finish gloating, my wife's half of the turned killed the euphoria.


Why do they resist us?

Each side of the cordon is scored independently, so you can win one side and lose the other. There are also graded victory levels.

This game was a blowout, I suffered a "major defeat" on the Gorn side, and a "crushing defeat" on the Romulan.

Still, this was a lot of fun and it was good to get back to F&E after a month.
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12. Board Game: New Bedford [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1099]
Kirk Groeneweg
United States
Clear Lake
Iowa
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My wife and I have really been enjoying New Bedford this month.
I finally took the time to learn it and then teach it to her.
It's a great tight worker placement game. Building city spaces to use in the game and sending out whaling ships where the largest number of points are. Give it a try if you have a chance.
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13. Board Game: Codenames Duet [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:609] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Brian Minsker
United States
Champaign
Illinois
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This month had me travelling down to visit my wife to celebrate our 30th anniversary, hauling a carload of things including a twin bed, which meant very little room for board games, so small boxes only. Codenames Duet is about the biggest box I brought.

New to us, but we've played regular Codenames with the boys and with visiting family many times, so we were familiar with the basics. Duet has you working cooperatively to identify 15 words (9/side with 3 overlapping) that are agents out of 25 while avoiding the three assassins per side (1 overlapping) and civilians.

Rather than having one card that identifies who's who on the whole 25-card layout, Duet has a 2-sided card that differs to some extent. That means that what looks like an assassin on your side may be an agent on your partner's side of the card. It helps to understand the mapping a bit, as it can make things a little easier. The rulebook does a good job of explaining it.

We played twice, winning the first time with 8 points (1 civilian hit), but lost the second time with only a few agents left when I picked an assassin.

We enjoyed it, and it works well as a two-player version of Codenames that really captures the feel of the original, including the "Oh my God, I married an idiot." realization as your loved one totally butchers the brilliant clue you provided them.

Edit: Another night, and my wife suggested another round or two of Codenames Duet. Two wins, one with 8 points and another with 7 points.

Edit 2: Back from our anniversary dinner, my wife suggested another round of Codenames Duet. We hit the assassin about halfway through the first game, but won the second with 8 points (again), started a third and hit the assassin on the second clue, so went for one more game. Squeaked out an 8-point sudden death win when I finally connected her "Forest, 2" clue with "Frost" (Whose woods these are I think I know...).
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14. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:19]
Jon
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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Brutal...but fun!

Playing as Wendy and Roland we took on the Gathering forces of Mythos and were well and truly beaten in the first scenario of the Core Set.

I had tried the scenario previously in solo mode to learn how to play, so was teaching it to Nick as we went along. Therefore we were probably not as efficient as we will be next time.

I got complacent about suffering horror and promptly went insane, leaving Nick (Roland) to fight all the bad guys singlehanded.

We both really like this - the gameplay and the unfolding story elements. We're going to allow ourselves one more go at this scenario before carrying on with the rest of the campaign...
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15. Board Game: Yokohama [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:134]
Cookie Monster
Belgium
De Pinte
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Played this again. Brilliant game, we both love it very much. Rules are quite straightforward, but the game offers some very nice challenges. Not for every night, but when you're in the mood for something a little heavier, this does the trick!
Works good with 2, but we prefer this with 3. With 4 it just takes too long.
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16. Board Game: Hanamikoji [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:463]
Greg Darcy
Australia
Blue Mountains
New South Wales
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This has to be our prettiest game.
And one of the toughest. It does not have quite the same difficulty in the decision space as Arboretum but it is close. It also plays quite a bit faster. At least in this AP prone household.

We took two rounds tonight to reach a decisive victory. Each round was about 10 minutes. So 20 minutes all up.

arrrh
kisscry

The final victory was on points. At the end of the second round, we both had the favour of three Geisha, but I had charmed the more influential ones
giving me 11 Charm points to her 8.

This is a lovely game and very worthwhile picking up for a quick couples game.
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17. Board Game: Underlings of Underwing [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:7273]
Ilja Preuß
Germany
Karlsruhe
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Even more fun when you play with the correct rules...

Also more complex. Played it late at night, and we were kinda glad when it was over. LOL. Won 46:44. Will play again, soon.
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18. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:391]
Rico Cordova
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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We played this for the first time at a con a few months ago and really liked the deck building + follow the leader. I like games where players are involved in another player's turn - keeps things moving and involved.

We bought this and the Escalation expansion because we had heard it brings a lot more to the game.

While I still enjoyed the game, I think it's probably better with more players. Our first play was with 4 players and it just felt like you were able to build more of an engine before the game ends than in a 2 player game.

The Escalation expansion added so many more options. At the very least, I liked the additional planet types and advanced technologies. I didn't pursue any ships and am curious how that would play out.
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19. Board Game: Tiffin [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:10296]
Rico Cordova
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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We played this for the first time at our first con ever. I liked it, and bought it soon after we returned from the con. Then it sat on the shelf for about a year before we finally played it again.

I've heard some luke warm reviews of this game, but I really like it. It's a simple area control game where you play as a food delivery person trying to contribute more to a route than other players.

The only thing I don't like is the score board...I hate wrapping score boards. yuk
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20. Board Game: World's Fair 1893 [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:642]
Rico Cordova
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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This is a staple for us. I enjoy this game at all player counts. I love the balance of area control and set collection going on here. "I need another blue card, which I can get by playing to green, but I also need more in blue so I can turn in my blue cards; but I need the blue card to turn in if it's worth playing in blue." So good!
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21. Board Game: March of the Ants [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1616]
Sara McNeely
United States
Fort Wayne
Indiana
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My husband picked this up last month in a garage sale for $10 (unpunched and unplayed!) and since we both like Eclipse, he thought we should give it a try. It's a light 4X game and I have to say I really enjoyed it! Building out your colony and customizing your ants was great fun, as was drawing random tunnel tiles and not knowing if you had just marched yourself straight into a centipede nest...surprise

There are also the multi-use nature of the cards. Do you use them for their evolution? The event? Or to boost your army at that critical moment when you food production is in danger from your nosy neighbors!

It can be a "mean" game, but you can easily avoid each other if you prefer and build out your colonies in opposite directions.

It went quickly as a two player game and I won by a mere antenna thanks to my ant's "exploding head"--which kept my husband at bay every time he tried to invade my colony near the end. I really wish it could have gone on longer. Looking forward to playing with the expansion soon!
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22. Board Game: The Fox in the Forest [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:1488]
Matt Hindmarch
United States
Denver
Colorado
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My wife wins her first game -- 22 to 20. We LOVE this one!
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23. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:999]
Greg Darcy
Australia
Blue Mountains
New South Wales
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HC 10x10 d10-9
Great Lakes Map. Another penultimate! (Love that word)
Just 7 more Ticket To Ride games to go to complete the challenge. We are still enjoying the games, but have our clear favourites. Luckily they mostly coincide. Still it will be nice to take a break for a while. And perhaps play Heart of Africa which we aquired after starting the challenge.

Today it went all my way. I was just ahead on routes. Then I pulled well ahead on tickets. So much so that her final score didn't beat mine before I included harbours. Then I very nearly lapped her when we counted my harbour bonuses. It could have been even closer except that I picked the wrong port for my final harbour. I was tossing up between Duluth and Green Bay, and settled on GB. Then I drew a final set of tickets. You guessed it. A completed Duluth was there.

arrrh 266
kiss 181 cry

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24. Board Game: Lunarchitects [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:2129]
Em French
United States
Roseville
Minnesota
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We set about creating our moon bases in Lunarchitects [a reimplementation of Glen More]. This is one of our favorite games. You draft tiles featuring different modules that give you varying resources and abilities. To place them in your moon base, you have to follow the placement rules [must keep rails and tubes connected and be next to an astronaut].

There is a lot of freedom in the tiles you can select from those available [in a oval queue], but the player in the back always goes next so if you select a tile a long distance from your starting place, it may be a while before you get another turn.

Having astronauts and moving them effectively so you can keep placing tiles in beneficial places is one of the most challenging aspects of the game. When you place a tile, you activate its features and also those tiles adjacent to it. Careful planning can lead to lots of benefits if you can place tiles appropriately.

The rules are simple, the game plays quickly and we think it is loads of fun. There are a variety of round and end game scoring so each game plays a bit differently. We like games where you can see what you built at the end.

And then there is always Spot, the dog, who likes to steal tiles...

TK won 138-105 [she snagged the astronaut quarters so had more options for tile placement and got the quarters bonus for 14 points.]

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25. Board Game: The Blood of an Englishman [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1797]
Em French
United States
Roseville
Minnesota
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This is a new game and new mechanic for us.

It is an asymmetrical card game where one player is the Giant and one is Jack. The Giant tries to get the Fee Fi Fo Fum cards in one of two configurations before Jack can collect three treasures. The cards are laid out in 5 stacks of ten cards [fanned out like solitaire] and each player has different card moving options.

Quick to learn and play.

TK played the Giant and won but I was very close to having the third treasure. We haven't played many asymmetrical type games and found this one to be really fun.
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