GCL Amoeba 340 - Quality Over Quantity (2017-09-12)
Joshua Gottesman
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GameChat League - Amoeba Division 340
ABOUT | AMOEBA DIVISION | SUBSCRIBE

Welcome to this week's discussion list!

If you found us by accident you're welcome to join in the conversation -- we're friendly symbiotes in real life (and, in fact, we're looking for more interested and interesting people). If you want more info about the GCL in general or the Amoeba division in particular, follow the links above for more info. (If you're shy, just thumb the list so we can see who's stalking us). Please refrain from adding new items to the list if you’re not a member.

The current hosting rotation:
Mikko Saari (msaari) mb
Carlos Moreno Serrano (sprocket314)
Doug Faust (phrim)
Jason Obermeyer (Bond8089)
Garry Rice (garry_rice)
Jimmy Okolica (Butterfly0038)
Larry Rice (larryjrice)
Jeroen Doumen (jmdsplotter)
Eric Brosius (Eric Brosius)
Scott Russell (qzhdad)
Rebecca Carpenter (CoffeeRunner)
Chris Smith (Venser)
Joshua Gottesman (Joshuaaaaaa)

Amoeba alumni and friends are always welcome to contribute! Amoeba alumni are also welcome to ask to return to the hosting rotation. We miss you!
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1. Board Game: Hoard [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:5653]
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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This is going to be a long intro, and this has been at the top of my mind over the last week plus, and it influences this list, so I appreciate you sticking with it.

I have 3 pets, 2 cats and a dog. Some of you have met my dog, Himeko, at various conventions. She loves to travel, the cats, not so much.

Himeko is 12 1/2 years old, not ancient for a chihuahua, however she has an enlarged heart, and it's been causing breathing problems and puts her on the road to Congestive Heart Failure. Over Labor Day weekend, she didn't seem to be doing great. Not terrible, just not her old self. I actually had an all weekend gaming event, and on Monday when I left I said, only half jokingly, "I need to go home to see if my dog is still alive." When I got home, she was very listless, kept hiding in the corner (a sure sign of distress), had very little appetite, and was breathing rapidly and shallowly. I hoped it would just pass, and still took the time to check with an online vet who basically said "Oh, she can wait until morning, they will probably just need to adjust her meds." Well, she couldn't get comfortable, couldn't sleep, and just looked so pathetic. I hadn't wanted to take her to the Emergency Hospital, because I am convinced that they take advantage of grieving/panicking pet owners to jack up prices. However, I couldn't stand to look at her like that, so after midnight we went over, with me fearing the worst.

The vet there did a lot of (not inexpensive) tests, and kept her in oxygen overnight and started giving her Lasix to drain fluid. He was nice, but basically saying "Yeah, you letting her run up and down steps was bad for her heart, why didn't your vet tell you this?" and being fairly down on her chances for recovery. In the morning I took her over to my regular vet for more of the same treatment, and she only showed slight improvement. He recommended that I take her to a cardiologist to see if there was anything else to be done. The bills, they were adding up big time, and at this point, I wasn't going to go 3/4 of the way and quit. So, she spends the night in the Emergency and Critical Care facility, more oxygen and Lasix, and not much improvement. On the other hand, I didn't get a call overnight saying "She didn't make it."



Himeko on the way to the cardiologist



Himeko in her oxygen cage at the specialty center. Definitely looking livelier.

What I did get was a call the next morning that the cardiologist wanted to see me that afternoon and that I should bring her food and medicine. To me, this was great news. If she wasn't going to make it, they wouldn't ask me to bring these things. We met, and he tells me it's not Congestive Heart Failure after all, it's Pulmonary Hypertension. They were now treating her with Sildenafil (that's Viagra to you and me) and she seemed to be improving, yet they wanted to keep her overnight to make sure, and hopefully she could go home the next day (Thursday). She still looked pretty down in her cage, although definitely better than she did Monday night and Tuesday. When I came to get her on Thursday, I was amazed. She looked great! She was alert, active, and showed no real ill effects of the incident.

She's been home since Thursday afternoon, and is doing well. Her appetite is good, her energy level is good, and if I didn't know she was at death's door a week earlier, I wouldn't have believed it. She's been coughing a bit the last couple of days, which can be caused by some fluid in the lungs, so the cardiologist (whom I credit for saving her life) upped her Lasix dosage. Hopefully that helps, and I have a follow up with the cardiologist a week from Thursday.



Himeko back home and happy!

So, how does this relate to games? Well, as I mentioned above, this whole procedure was very expensive. Thankfully, I had a client who owed me a bunch of money and had some in the bank and was able to pay it to me. That being said, they are a start up waiting for funding (and I had agreed to wait on fees), so what they paid me was a material chunk of what they had, and I would like to reimburse some of it if I can, although my savings are not huge now.

One potential solution is selling off more of my games. I sold off a bunch earlier this year when work was slow to get me through some rough spots. Thankfully that part is behind me (hopefully forever) and, at the same time, I haven't rebuilt savings yet. What I did sell off was a lot of my "marginal" stuff. Games I had and enjoyed, or hadn't played, and could live without playing again or with using a friend's copy. If I go this route, I may have to make some deeper cuts.

And finally, here's our topic. Quality over Quantity. Let's discuss whether you are a completionist on games. For instance, you own Agricola. Do you need all of the expansions? What makes you determine which you buy and which you skip?

Oh, and I will take Himeko having a better quality of life for as long as she can over having her linger on as her health declines. That's priceless to me.
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2. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1220]
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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How tough is it for you to break up a set of games? For instance, I have all the games in the Great Battles of History series. Why? Because it's become habit to buy them. I haven't played them all, I may never play some of them. Yet the thought of breaking up the series is tough. Have you ever had to dispose of part of a series of games? How tough is it for you to take that step?
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3. Board Game: Quality Street Monopoly [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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If you were collecting a series of games, and one came out that got generally bad reviews, would you still buy it, just so you could say you had them all? Or do you just pick and choose even within a series?
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4. Board Game: I'm the Boss! [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:934]
Joshua Gottesman
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Las Vegas
Nevada
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What stock do you put on having a big game collection? If you have 500 games now, how would you feel about having to cut down to 100 games, or 10 games? How would you determine what stays and what goes? Are there games with which you would never part, even if keeping them might cause strain, financial or otherwise?
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5. Board Game: Mega Civilization [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:831]
Joshua Gottesman
United States
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Nevada
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Because of Himeko's illness, I didn't do any gaming last weekend. Although I think it's fine to leave her for extended periods of time now (I have a lunch meeting in an hour from when I post this, and leaving her for 2 hours will be the longest I've left her since she came home), I was very gunshy.

However, as mentioned, over Labor Day weekend there was a "mini-con" at the house of a couple in our gaming group. There were 10-15 people there at any one time, and a lot of gaming got done from Friday night - Monday night.

Friday night and Saturday morning I played The 7th Continent with 3 others. Thankfully it didn't have the multi-player solitaire aspect which I feared. Even our alpha player didn't alpha that much. We're still in the middle of the 1st adventure (it's much longer than I thought), and we've come close to potential death twice, once down to 1 card, once actually drawing from the discard pile, although now we seem to be in decent shape...until the next crisis. It's definitely interesting, and I want to see how this adventure turns out.

On Saturday, I also played Innovation Deluxe, Bob Ross: Art of Chill Game (this was played a LOT over the weekend) and a 3 player game of 1844/1854 (we played 1844), which I won by just over $100 in a very tight game. My lead was shrinking, and one more set of ORs and I was toast. It was my 1st 18XX since CSW Expo, and I really enjoyed it.

Sunday saw A Feast for Odin with 3, where I beat the guy I had beaten in 1844 by $100 or so by 1 point. Then an interesting game of Heroes and Tricks, more Innovation Deluxe, Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium (we played Hellas) and Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park – The Game. This last one captured the feel of the show, and was fun. Not a great game, and I think it will sell lots of copies.

Monday was Mega Civilization day, which had been very much anticipated. We were going to play with 5 and then a 6th player became available, so we went with that. We started about 10:30 AM after rules explanation, played until about 7:30 PM, with probably an hour of breaks, and an hour of inefficiencies (instead of making decks of the tech cards for each player, they were spread out all over the board...this was tough, and handing out the bonus markers was slow). I was Babylon, and fell behind at one point on tech due to some disaster or another. The player who had Saba won by a couple of points. Saba has a nice advantage in that they can stay in the bronze age 1 turn longer. Every time I wanted to take the offensive against him, I got crushed by disasters. It's not like Saba didn't suffer, too, we all did.

I think everyone really enjoyed the game, and I look forward to playing it again. I'd be happy to play it 2-3 times a hear. It is wonderfully presented, and streamlines the old game a bit and was very enjoyable.

Monday night I headed home to find a very sick dog, and you've seen that story and that story ended well.
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6. Board Game: Time of Crisis [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:1053]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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 7   Time of Crisis x2
The first game was called within the first twenty minutes when I got steam rolled by barbarians over and over. It was partly my fault for starting in Syria, but they're often easy pickings for legacy points.

The second game was more engaging, but after nine plays with three players, I'm starting to question the balance of the game. In every three player game the first player to govern Italia has won. We've found the game to be better balanced at four.

 10   Chicago Express
Three players, one new. Myself and the new player each owned one share of PRR. I managed to purchase a second share for a 2:1 distribution. Her only move was to bury the company ensuring it didn't reach Chicago, but she opted to do something else. That gave me the win.

We started to explain her mistake but she already knew. What she failed to calculate correctly was the remaining length of the game.

 9   1846: The Race for the Midwest
Same three players are Chicago Express above. It was a slow affair, just over four hours, as we dawdled in Phase II for far too long. I believe all company tokens were gone before Phase III hit. It was a blocking bonanza which dragged the game out way too long for my liking.

 9   Twilight Struggle x2
Two relatively fast games. I won game one playing the US. Five Year Plan stripped a card from USSR in round 2. I played Fidel before they had to play CIA Created and that was the game. My opponent admitted he didn't see Fidel being played given the position on the board and got greedy holding onto CIA until the end.

The second game I lost as the USSR. Headlined Missile Envy into their Duck & Cover at DEFCON 3, now 2. They gladly gave We Will Bury You in return.

 8   Ra
A game we play to fill thirty minutes.

EDIT -
New games:
Loopin' Louie
Vanuatu
Napoleon's Triumph
Through the Desert
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7. Board Game: Custom Heroes [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1902]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 8   Gloomhaven

Difficulty bumped by one and we were careless but we still pulled it out at the end although two of us would have been exhausted in another turn when it ended.

 8   Mini Rails

Enjoying this thinky filler.

 7   Bruges

With the expansion (I don't know that I'd ever want to play without the expansion despite some of the nastiness that can ensue due to boats).

 7   Custom Heroes x2

Another three player game affirmed that I really don't want too play this with just three. Much better with 5-6, acceptable with 4.

 7   Glüx NEW!

Acquired this in a local trade expecting to sell/trade it after my first play since it was an abstract but found it quite engaging. This one sticks around a while longer.

 7   Roll Player

Continuing to enjoy this fine dice puzzle. Looking forward to the expansion.

 7   The 7th Continent

I gave it away last week but we died. It was ugly. Baby rock work's death brought about momma rockworm who is just intimidating. On a two space island, even more deadly. We shouldn't have been distracted and gone to the island anyways. Next time we start from scratch, sigh.

 6   Festival of Thousand Cats NEW!

Light and fun card game from Japan. Everyone plays a card at the same time and high and low cards take the displayed cards and everyone else keeps their own. My cat couldn't hold its saki - such a lightweight and I was left in the dust. Stupid saki cards. I'd play again but don't need to own.

 6   Path to Yaaru NEW!

At first I wasn't thrilled with the game but it grew on me as we went on and I realized how to work the game a bit better. My first round wasn't pretty, but my last two rounds were top notch and pulled me to victory. It is a bit of a racing game but you don't want to go too fast as you want to build temples/statues/whathaveyou for set collection points at the end of the three rounds (which scores differently each of these rounds). As seems typical of Japanese games, it is a drafting game but with the limitation that you can only draft a card from either side of the hand and not any in the middle.

 5   Dead Man's Draw

Push your luck mindless filler.

 5   Fuji Flush NEW!

Finally played this and had fun. Nothing significant but I would play again as a quick time waster. 3-4 of us had chances to win before someone finally couldn't be blocked.

 5   Red November

We won! Front half of the sub was pretty much on fire and hatches blocked, but we survived. The Kraken did not show up. I was prepared to flee and try to win on my own but the game state never presented a good opportunity.

ACQUISITIONS:

Import / Export (Kickstarter)
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8. Board Game: Dice Forge [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:350]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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8.0  Burgle Bros. x6

Played this a number of times on the iPad with Caleb to unlock the sixth building...

7.0  The Shipwreck Arcana NEW!

Enjoyed this deductive tile drawing game with Caleb...definitely prefer it to Hanabi for a cooperative deduction experience.

7.0  First Class

Played on Yucata after discovering it had been added there...

9.0  The 7th Continent x2

Starting our search for the items the goddess wants...Now that we finally found her!

7.0  Now Boarding

Played with three, we wound up winning fairly soundly although things didn't look good for awhile...I think one of the keys in this game is avoiding angry passengers during the game to give more room at the end of the game for undelivered passengers.

7.0  Dice Forge x2 NEW!

Recent acquisition that I've been enjoying...in keeping with this list's theme, this is one I would almost certainly buy an expansion for to add more variety/replayability. Interested to see what my game group thinks of this one...definitely my favorite of the limited number of dice crafting games out there. I will say that some cards seem considerably weaker than others, but I may just not know how to use them well.

I've also picked up Techno Bowl: Arcade Football Unplugged and finished off the pnp for SteamRollers, both of which I'm really looking forward to getting to the table.
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9. Board Game: Jórvík [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1612]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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2 x _9_The City
1 x _9_Love Letter
2 x _8_Machi Koro
1 x _8_Patchwork
1 x _8_Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
1 x _8_Deus
1 x _8_Hero Realms
1 x _7_Jaipur
1 x _7_Indigo
1 x _7_Arboretum
1 x _7_7 Wonders Duel
1 x _7_Karuba
1 x _6_Village
1 x _5_Jórvík (new!)

Pretty good week. I met a friend on Tuesday, as he wanted to try couple of games he hadn't tried before, and we spent a very effective 90 minutes playing Jaipur, Patchwork, 7 Wonders: Duel and Karuba.

In our weekly game night, I got to try Jórvík. I wasn't much into it, because I've played Die Speicherstadt on Yucata and did not enjoy it a bit. Jórvík was chosen as the Strategy Game of the Year in Finland, though, so I had to give it a go to write a review of it.

I didn't like it. It's such an annoying game of almost no progress whatsoever. The auction mechanisms are clever, but lead to annoying game play.

Deus was played with the Egypt expansion. The expansions is... fine, I guess. Some of the new cards are interesting, and some of the new mechanisms too. Not a must buy; the base game is already very good, and using the whole expansion deck seems a bit much, taking one or two colors might be a better idea (also I'm not particularly sold on the new military cards).

Acquisitions

I bought a copy of Unlock!. I found these escape room games worth getting, because they seem fun and are really easy to get rid of once you're done with them. I already have a taker for my copy. Also, my son is really eager to try this, which is nice.

I'm bidding on Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor in the Lautapelaamaan auction, I'd like to give that system a go as well – you know, just for professional purposes.

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10. Board Game: Dungeon of Mandom VIII [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:6984]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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5x _7.00_ Dungeon of Mandom VIII
2x _7.50_ Jump Drive
1x _7.50_ Heart of Crown
1x _7.00_ Tokyo Highway
1x _7.00_ Fabled Fruit
1x _7.00_ The 7th Continent
1x _7.00_ Lost Legacy Legend
1x _7.00_ Here I Stand
1x _6.00_ Lisboa
1x _6.00_ Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin
1x _6.00_ Flash Point: Fire Rescue
1x _6.00_ Catan
1x _5.75_ Alemannen-Skat
1x _5.50_ Qwijit
1x _5.00_ 1, 2 oder 3
1x _5.00_ Bodycheck
1x _5.00_ Star Trek: Customizable Card Game (first edition)
1x _2.00_ ZEIT-Roulette

Back to some more gaming over the past week .

We played a couple games of the new-ish Dungeon of Mandom VIII. I like the additions; there's now two random monsters in the dungeon, as well as quite a few different adventurers. Base game remains the same, quite good!

In the same order I also got a copy of Tokyo Highway. Keeping with this week's theme: now I want the expansion too! It's a great little dexterity game of building snaking highways. We quite enjoyed it, even though the rules took a little while to sink in.

We also continued our adventures in The 7th Continent. And nearly died getting to the first goddess, only to find out that we still needed to get items for her! And found a giant rockworm camping the spot were they likely are hidden... Now we're half patched up again, though we fell into a river and got swept away to somewhere. Let's see if we can find our way back in the next session.

I also finally printed the paste-ups for Lost Legacy Legend, so we gave that one a go too. I enjoy it, but B. doesn't like it too much. Maybe with a different group .

Another arrival was the Lisboa KS. But it didn't grab me; even though (for me) it's one of Vital's better games. Once you get through the rules, it's relatively simple: each turn you play a card for its actions in one of two ways, and then you get another choice as to what actions to actually do. But it still left me feeling lukewarm, though I can't put a finger on what or why.

Finally, we broke out Here I Stand last Sunday and started to play in turn 1. Great fun, but it was a learning game for most (last time I played was 7 years ago). We completed the first turn, and then it was time to pack up again... We projected we'd likely finish a game in, oh, 49 years or so?
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11. Board Game: FleetBoard [Average Rating:7.08 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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This week, I played a number of games that were on the "Want to Play" list. Around this time of the year, I often check which of my favorites I haven't played. I've asterisked the ones that fit that bill.

Joe Huber hosted his last gaming day on Saturday before he leaves on his extended trip.

*  8   Flowerpower -- I arrived a little before the starting time, so we started with this wonderful 2-player game in the Kosmos series. It's basically a domino-placement game with a flower theme that adds to the attractiveness of the map. Joe got the only 10-space patch, worth 4 VP, but I got many more 3-space patches to pip him by 1 VP. I've found that you need to decide whether you're going to stop at 3 or go for a larger patch, because if you end at 4 (or worse, 5,) it's a big waste. Joe was a little free in placing his weeds in my area, and that allowed me to plant in other spots without fear of obstruction.

 8   Deep Sea Adventure -- One more player joined, so we played this push-your-luck 3-player game. I pushed my luck just a bit too much in the first dive. Joe made it back to the boat all three times (a rarity in our circles) to win.

 6   Canal Mania -- Now we were up to 4 players, so Joe suggested this. As you can tell from my rating, I'm not crazy about it, even though I own it. Part of the problem is that I can't tell what to do in order to try to win. Joe blew us out, scoring about 120 while none of the other 3 of us were above 80 or so. I asked him what his winning decisions were. He said he was quite lucky in the card draws, but also that he has a better idea of what canals to start than most people seem to have.

*  8   Viva Pamplona! -- Matt now joined us for this game of courage. The bull took his ever-loving sweet time for most of the game, but at around the tomato-throwing spaces, he suddenly took off like a rocket. As a result, scores were very low. The winning score was no more than 10, while I ended with 4.

*  8   Ab die Post! -- This is a wacky game that holds together quite well with 4 or 5 players. It seemed topical given the two recent US hurricanes. I don't recommend it with 6, though. We played with 5. I got a few very lucky card draws, but I also suffered from drawing Orkans (hurricanes) which, though I had plenty of parts to repair damage, kept me from finishing the second race in first. In the end, Joe and I tied both on the score track and the tiebreaker, so we rejoiced in our shared victory. Another oddity about this game is that you have multiple airlines sharing one passenger: a statement about over-capacity in the airline industry if ever I saw one!

 5   Sushi Kappa NEW! -- Matt had three new games to try. I've been trying to avoid playing too many new games under these circumstances, but I played two of them. This is a memory game that probably degenerates if your memory is too good. It was okay for a memory game, but that's not a favorite genre of mind.

 4   Jungli-La NEW! -- This is a game of rolling dice, collecting resources, buying cards, and trying to end with the most victory points. The fun/effort ration is lower than many games of this type.

 8   For Sale -- On Monday, Joe Rushanan couldn't host, but Geoff hosted in his stead. We started with this quick game while we awaited Steph's arrival. I did well, but Geoff did better.

*  8   FleetBoard -- I had asked Joe to bring this game out. I like it enough that I want to play it at least yearly. It was a close game; Bill and I tied at $7,900, with him winning the tie-breaker (most fuel left on your truck,) and Joe wasn't far behind at $7,100. I would love to get a copy of this game, but it doesn't seem to be for sale or trade anywhere.

 8   Show Manager -- When our game ended, we all got together for a 6-player game of Show Manager (it's my favorite player count.) The first two shows were put on in Troisdorf and Bochum because they were lousy. I made a big mistake when I took one too many cards to put on my lousy Wolf in Troisdorf, so I was forced to put on a 14-point King Lear in Hamburg (not a good idea...) Steph won with 51 VP. Behind her were players with 39, 37, 37, 30 and 26 VP (I had 26, which was at least more than half of what Steph got!)
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12. Board Game: 1822: The Railways of Great Britain [Average Rating:8.45 Overall Rank:3183]
Rebecca Carpenter
United States
Seattle
Washington
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 8   1822: The Railways of Great Britain
 9   1889
 6.8   Transformer Boxes: Taiwan’s Most Beautiful Scenery x2 NEW!
 4   Mangrovia NEW!

1889: History of Shikoku Railways
WOW. 1889 continues to amaze me with it's broad strategic range. In this 3P game, I was first and started Tosaden in the south, placed the port tile and bought three 2Ts. Tallis started Uwajima second, operated after me, and only bought one 2T, even though with a token he could have run three! James was playing investor and understandably bought four of my shares, Tallis got one, and I got one of Tallis'. I didn't want to pay James 40% of the revenue while he gained more cash from his privates than I got from mine. I thought that after getting fat and happy from my dividends that he would sell my stock, trashing the value, to start a company, or two, of his own, and I didn't want him to receive 40% of the benefit without any of the liability, so I withheld. And withheld. For at least four ORs! I got fully held bumps, so I didn't lose share value, although was planted on the left of the market. Tallis never bought another train; he ran for $7 and paid. Eventually James started a company, the IYO, but by then we were in position to ruin it's routes, that is after he bought the last 2T and two 3Ts. I was imagining that all that capital I controlled was going to allow me to rush trains, but they thwarted that plan by not buying trains themselves. I still had a chance to make something cool happen, but made a catastrophic mistake of leaving my main company train locked. etc etc. I saw there was no way I could catch up with MR. One-2T-Tallis, So I engineered my bankruptcy with a force train purchase. Both Tallis and James reported that they would play exactly the same way again next time! Can't wait.



Transformer Boxes: Taiwan's Most Beautiful Scenery
I was tremendously impressed with Ponzi Scheme, and have since been on the lookout for other gems from Taiwan. Transformer Boxes didn't have much information on BGG, but I saw that it was a bidding game for 3-6 players with a mere 20 minute playtime (which we can all agree means to expect 40 mins, right?). I could really use a filler for my 18xx group (just in case, ya know), and with high hopes and five players we checked it out on Monday.

Well, as you can see, the production is just as lovely as can be. Those yellow lightening bolts are used as single dollars, the green bolts are five dollars, and the blue plug is the first player marker, which is part of the bidding process.

If you play this game, please be advised: there's a large typo in the rule book (I'll get to that soon) and important set-up information hidden on the last pages under the card descriptions.



Okay, so here's how it plays: there are eight rounds in the "original" - not simple - rules (the rule book is misleading and implies there are only seven). Every round the start player deals six to nine cards, depending on player count, face up and for the table to examine. When everyone's ready, the first player divides the cards, including a first player card, into piles equal to the player count, up to three cards per pile. Starting on the first player's left, each player turns exactly one card over revealing it to all. Then bidding commences, starting with the player to the left of first player. There's a minimum bid of $1 per card in the pile. Once all bids are resolved, players add the cards to their tableaus, everyone gets $3, the new start player gets an additional $2, and the next round commences just as the last.

There are eight different types of cards, I'll describe a couple here.
Some are part of an eight card set, one makes other have to pay an extra dollar when they outbid you, one makes the lightening bolts worth one point each instead of .5 for end game scoring. Another grants the players with the most five points and subtracts five points from the players with the least points. Another called "sextuplet" grants an inta-win once a player collects only four of them (seven in a five player game).

It was not clear at all, because the "original" rules were labeled as "simple" rules, so we did not play correctly in either of our games, but players take dollars equal to their scores after the fourth round.

There was some concern that the insta-win "sextuplet" card is too strong because the player that tries to intervene is essentially falling on a sword. However, as with other auction games, I think that players have control if that happens, and the mid-game scoring might make it a less desirable path. Still, insta-win is pretty attractive.

Conculsion: I loved the game. It's charming! I could see it working perfectly for my 18xx group and casual gamers alike as a quick filler. It's a little more complex than For Sale, and feels more engaging than Biblios. Unfortunately, I am concerned that it wasn't developed rigorously enough. But that is easy enough to fix; there are more than enough cards that we could remove the insta-win ones prove OP. Regretfully the rule book needs work, but I'll do my best to organize the typos and post them in the game forums with questions for the design team.


1822: The Railways of Great Britain
I had been planning on writing about '22 this week, but the opportunity presented itself in the game's forum last week, and so I wrote that reply with mind to repost here.

My relationship with 1822 has gone through phases.

1. Infatuation: After my first introduction to '22 at the 2016 Portland Tournament I was excited to play it again.

2. Going Steady: My group took to '22 too, and we played it around 20 (some people more like 40 due to a bachelor party, etc) times in a row. We got to know it very well. Indeed, I thought I knew it too well - there were a dozen or more back to back games where the players who bought the two 2Ps came in first and second place. Clearly OP, right?

3. Break Up: I told everyone that I didn't want to play '22 regularly any more.

4. Chance Encounters: At Chattanooga I played '22 with a table of experienced players that were outside of our group think. They valued privates/majors/minors very much the same as we did, but the game was tense and exhilarating.

A few months later at Portland I played '22 with an excellent group of players, a couple newish to 1822. I regaled them with all of my "wisdom" from previous plays such as "get a 2P or lose" and "figure out how to not be train locked for a 5T", "shares are almost always the priority because of the massive stock appreciation". They absorbed all that, and one clever person decided to take his own approach. He didn't get a 2P and ran a yellow company because the paper limit is so tight - and won! Later I found out that in a different '22 game, Anthony didn't start a company until after the concessions went away, didn't have a 2P, and won! So clearly I didn't know everything there was about 1822.

6. Back Together Again: Last Monday we played a 6P game. We had a new player. which with such a tight game, (only three bidding cubes and a cert limit of 13) can sort of throw off my research, but still we had a surprising result: the players with Pullmans worked together all game and took first and second place.

7. Just Friends: I do like a lot of what '22 does, but it's not The One. '22 has potential to start a "family" of 18xx; a few elements of it's design really inspire me and are flat out brilliant. '22 is wonderfully demanding from start to finish. Players that pick a strategy from the start based on the order that privates/minors/majors become available will do the best, and there is room to try unorthodox approaches. 1822, more than most titles, benefits from a dedicated group or experienced players, as it really takes a few plays to get a sense of the value of things. The rules can be fiddly, complex, and poorly written at times. I'm glad to have 30+ plays and I'll visit '22 again - even suggest it. Do I recommend '22 over 1817, 1841, 1860? No.



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13. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:28]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Monday was a holiday in the United States, so we went over to Micah's for a game day.

_6_ Jump Drive - This was with me, Ken, and Steve; only Steve was new. This is my second time playing, and I felt like I "got it" a little bit more this time. I pretty much went all-out on a military strategy, and I thought my synergies were working decently. However, Ken was the experienced player at the table, and as such, he ended the game before anyone was ready and scored about as many points as the rest of us combined. Of course, this is pretty much how my early plays of Race for the Galaxy went too, so *shrug*.


_7_ A Feast for Odin - This was with me, Ken, Tom, and Johnny; Johnny was new. I spent the first turn or two getting myself up to 3 income and claiming the mead income. After that point, I completely ignored getting more income, got a couple of big ships, and spent the rest of the game using the spot that gives me two giant treasure chests. I got out a pretty wide variety of cards too, including a card that seemed particularly strong in that it let me play a card in a 3-spot, but since I was going to that particular 4-spot all the time anyway, it wasn't a huge boost. In any case, I got out like 8 cards, and most of them were worth a point or two, and I think I used all of them at least once (except for the one that was worth 7 points and made me feed an extra time). I managed to emigrate 2 ships, but couldn't get the third one because I didn't have the cash. I didn't end up getting any extra islands or boards because I was too busy doing other things. For those that are really paying attention, this is the same strategy I played when I first learned the game (this is my second play). I got about the same results this time--it looked pretty impressive when I was doing it, but didn't score as many points as I expected. I had trouble placing all of the giant treasure chest tiles because I couldn't cover up the income spots, so that created a bit of waste. I did spend some time getting some points from animals, but it turns out I finished a close third. Tom won.


_9_ Power Grid - This was with me, Micah, Tom, Davey, Steve, and one other; everyone had played before. We played on the Germany map, with the north-central part blocked off. I started out by taking the 5 plant, placed second, and immediately got boxed in. Maybe I should start trying to take higher-number plants to I can place later in the turn order, so I don't run into this issue. In any case, the 26-plant (2 oil powers 3) comes down early, and I get into a bidding war with Micah over it, and won paying close to $40. The big purchase early slowed down my city production, but I was eventually able to claw my way into making some use out of the plant. Of course, that's when the 35-plant (1 nuke powers 5) just falls in my lap and I couldn't resist buying it for cost. Well, maybe I should have, as I was already well behind the income curve and should've been using that money on cities. So I ended up being poor the entire game, though my plant mix made me look scarier than I actually was. I managed to spook people into thinking I had a shot at the end, but I could only get to 14 cities, while Tom won with 16.

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