My Shame Spiral and Possible Redemption
Maricel Edwards
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My daughter, who is twelve going on 32, outed me to my husband tonight. Spotting my dvd set of Firefly on my nightstand, she asked me in outrage if it was another game. I replied weakly that it was not, that it was the series box set, but, in a very disparaging tone, she announced to the room in general but to my husband in particular that I "have five Firefly games, four of which aren't even opened yet!" She then proceeded to recount how many of my games were still, indeed, in that same state of shrink-wrappedness.

I felt my face flush and I couldn't make eye contact with my husband. My family knows I tend to go full bore with obsessions, but I can usually spin it away (e.g. "Yes, I need four long bins to house my yarn; I'm knitting blankets for everyone for Christmas!" or "Yes, I need five long boxes to house my comic books; how else would my students be able to catalogue them and find them?" or "Yes, you need to build me floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to house the countless books I own; reading is fundamental.").

Board games, however, are hard to spin.

As we all know, our hobby is difficult for non-gamers to grasp, especially non-gamers whose idea of board games are of the Milton Bradley/Parker Bros. persuasion. There is no obvious, justifiable explanation for owning over 200 board games, two-thirds of which are unplayed. So, rather than trying to validate my excess, I intend to attack the "unplayed" part of that previous sentiment instead. Hopefully, this geeklist will help me do just that.

Every time I play a game once, I will log my initial thoughts of it here. I won't be thorough or analytical with my gameplay because I can't and don't think like that; I guess I'm not a true gamer yet. But I can chronicle my visceral, emotional reaction to the games, and at the very least, knowing this list is out there for all the world to see will compel me to play and record more.

Only time will tell...
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1. Board Game: The Royal Game of Ur [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:12793]
Maricel Edwards
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So simple. So elegant. So scratches my itch when all I want to do is roll dice. Enough choices involved (which piece should I move? Do I run and bear off or try to knock GB off the board?) that makes each game never boring. I've been thinking of this game A LOT and almost wish for school to start so I have more opponents to play with.

EDIT: So, school has begun and I have yet to bring this to work and inveigle students to play with me. My grand plans of using my board games in my classroom have gone to pot because life. Too bad, too, because my version of this game is not the actual board game but an Etsy creation, all wood and hand-painted. This game needs more attention than I can currently give it, more's the pity...
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2. Board Game: Urbion [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1809]
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If Ur was my personal 2-player 10 game, this would currently be my personal solo 10 one. Played numerous rounds already - both at home and on the plane to Boston - and never tired of the mechanics. Didn't even mind having to constantly discard cards - beginning to think this is Shadi Torbey's M.O. anyway. Will definitely always travel with this game in my bag. Thinking of even getting it its own special case...
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3. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:463]
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I'd expected to like this more, but I think my single play involved a lot of distractions, interruptions and frequent referencing of the manual which bogged down the immersion for me. I played solo with 4 investigators and barely beat Yig. My strategy was to keep all my investigators sane and healthy while going for 2-point adventures to get the 10 Elder Signs needed to best Yig. I like playing solo because it afforded me time to think about each move, but I think playing it with even at least one other person would enhance the experience and maybe bump up my rating. GB won't play this with me because she says it's a campaign game, which is shorthand in our family for "more than 30 minutes". :/
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4. Board Game: One Deck Dungeon [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:516] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
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Only played this solo. Wonder if my rating would go up if I played it cooperatively like it's supposed to be played? I personally love all the separate bits this game is comprised of (dice rolling, dungeon theme, powerful female characters), but because all moves are predicated on the results of dice - and perhaps I didn't interpret the rules correctly - I found it very difficult to even get past the first floor of the first level. This game also makes it perilously easy and inviting to cheat during solo mode (Oh, lemme just re-roll that, shall I?) so although I really had high hopes for this, it's not currently on my must-play roster.
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5. Board Game: Sagrada [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:168]
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Because it's pretty, easy to teach, and allows me to chuck dice in my DIY-ed dice tray (that still makes me feel so accomplished!). If I have this out, GB will more than likely be enticed into a game. I do find the solo variant extremely punishing, especially if you roll high and don't use tools. I wonder if I should house rules this when I play solo and only use one die on the round track? And always choose the highest die to place on the track? Although, why am I belaboring this? This is probably one of the few games GB will actually suggest playing rather than be begged to play, so I doubt I'll be doing much solo play out of this. Which is okay by me!
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6. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1088]
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Although it's an "old person" game, I do love my leatherette carrying case; reminds me of how I felt when I played "office" as a kid. I also like the tactile-ness of physically moving bakelite-esque discs on a felt surface. SS and I didn't play with that funny numbered die, but she did teach me basic rules like putting someone on the bar and rolling exact numbers to place your pieces home. It's not a game I could get GB to play - we're more Royal Game of Ur status coz it's easier - but I would never turn down a game. Unfortunately, it's yet another game that requires a specific kind of person to play with or risk hurt feelings/bad blood.
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7. Board Game: Jamaica [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:400]
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Played this with SS and although it was fun, it felt really fiddly because I played "bank" and handled all the gunpowder, doubloons and food. Shoulda set them out in the tray but the table was crowded. Another fiddly part was the whole "roll dice then choose which card then play the card face down then turn the card face up". I'm sure this would've been mitigated with more than 2 players, but putting a card facedown only to reveal it a second later felt silly.

All this criticism is also probably borne of the fact that we played Samurai first. (see Samurai notes)

I actually enjoyed this much better when I played solo with the black ship variant.
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8. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:172]
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I enjoy this game IMMENSELY. It's like a kinder, gentler chess with an infinitely more beautiful board. The game play is simple and elegant and fast and crunchy. I do think I can only play this 2 player with the proper person (SS and NEVER my husband) because the "take that" element would normally kill the carebear in me. Also, there's math and colors involved which sorta made my brain fuzzy and caused a slight bit of AP in me - I kept looking at the board and trying to add numbers, all the while mistaking SS's color for mine. Still, we both enjoyed it and we probably shoulda played this after Jamaica instead of before so my experience with the later wasn't tainted. (see Jamaica notes)
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9. Board Game: Limes [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1755]
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After 4 games back to back, I have to say that I enjoy this immensely. I like the thinky-thinky bits of where to place the tiles (I kept having to refer to the rule book to remind me how to score that darned woodcutter!) and I like that feeling of "YES!" when the tile I need pops up. I do have a bit of AP initially, especially when I have to decide whether or not to commit a meeple, and sometimes I just give up and place a tile randomly because I'm tired of pondering. It's like things don't become clear until I complete the grid and I'm ready to score, so I don't have a strategy at all, but I'm hoping more plays will fix this.
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10. Board Game: Eight Epics [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:5199]
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Only played once, but I think I just wasn't in the mood for dice. Every roll I made was crap, and I lost almost immediately. Wonder if there's a way to optimize the order of the avatars in solo mode? Beautiful art, though. And the avatar powers are pretty boss; it was just me and my rolls, I guess...
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11. Board Game: Burger Up [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:2515]
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I like this game. Got GB to play it with me. Probably would've enjoyed it more had she not rushed me through my turns (I guess I AM prone to AP after all, but in my defence, it's those two-sided cards that get to me and I'm old). The burger names are funny and the art is vibrant and fun. Super simple mechanic and loads of choices. Played unwittingly with the Burgers of the World expansion and was stymied at first by the globetrotting ingredients. Will have to read the expansion rules later...
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12. Board Game: Blend Off! [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:7300]
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I think GB liked this a lot more than I did, mainly because we have finally determined that she likes, fast, real-time, non-thinky games. But I like dice. So this is a win-win for us, especially after we figured out how to use the durian. I like the fun fruit components and the communal pool of resources, but that Kevin sure does favor GB over me! Also, I'm beginning to sense a strange pattern here - why do most of the games I play and enjoy right off the bat involve food? Things that make you go "hmmm..."
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13. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:556]
Maricel Edwards
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Finally played this game and really do enjoy it. Took 2 play-through vids to understand it (thank you, Rahdo and Slickerdrips!) but all is good now. Not that the instruction booklet was bad; I'm just rubbish at written directions. Playing Aaron was tight - he won the first game by one and I won the second game by one - and it is a bit more thinky than I'd like. I always felt like I was making optimal moves then realize I need two "rolls" to complete a move, so next time, I need to be more aware. I do think I was in the mood for a less swingy game than Eight Epics gave me this weekend, though, which may explain my current rating.
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14. Board Game: Musée [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:2920]
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Played this with L. on our first GNO (girls' night out) of the school year and we both enjoyed it. It's very relaxing and quite elegant in its simple gameplay. I did find myself worried more about colors and numbers rather than immersing myself in "building a museum", but the end result sure was gorgeous. Easy to explain and rulebook was just as easy to decipher; not bad for not having prepped myself and for reading things on the fly at Panera.
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15. Board Game: CV [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:887]
Maricel Edwards
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I absolutely ADORE this game. Went on a Palm Springs mini vacation with my BFF and brought this along as my game of choice to continue proselytizing my love of the hobby. Over a bottle of Merlot, we proceeded to take a whack at it after my having watched only one playthrough. I almost shouldn't have bothered - the instructions were easy peasy (I especially love the way specific cards with special powers are catalogued on the back page for ease of reference) and the gameplay was smooth and simple. The icons weren't confusing at all and the art was fabulous, although BFF said she found it rather disturbing (especially "Neighborhood Friends"). We ended up not scoring at all and just narrating our respective life stories to each other after a good hour and a half of playing. Love, love, love! Will no go and buy the expansion!
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16. Board Game: Dr. Eureka [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1303]
Maricel Edwards
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Just got this game in today and played the ENTIRE deck with my daughter in one sitting. There was a lot of trash talking and screaming at the top of our lungs to distract each other, and we both realized we were good at some puzzles and not others (she's boss at the two-in-one and I love the four-zero-twos). I knew when I bought it that this would be the game for her, and I was not mistaken. A total win-win for both of us.
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17. Board Game: FUSE [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:542]
Maricel Edwards
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Did I say I liked dice? After one game of this, I may just change my mind. Ten minutes have never gone by so fast! Maybe it'll be better once I memorize what each die icon means? Or once I wrap my head around what to do with unused dice? Or just not using the official timer app with the annoying soundtrack? I'm rating this a 5 not because I think this game is average - it's actually quite clever - but because I'm realizing I don't like real-time games; they stress me out.
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18. Board Game: Wordoku: Fun Spelled Out [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked]
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Played 2 games (6 rounds) solo back-to-back and am conflicted. On one hand, it's a word game and I'm a sucker for word games. And I like the finite-ness of a 4x4 board (although, I suppose, Boggle does this too). And the addition of the symbols and Sudoku style makes me feel smarter when I create words. That said, keeping the symbols straight in my head was already challenging enough, but then I had to juggle that with making words horizontally as well as vertically. All in 5 minutes. So the logic and the frustration of not having the freedom to make any all word coupled with the time limit lowered the score from a potential 10 for me.
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19. Board Game: Shahrazad [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:4600]
Maricel Edwards
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Soooo pretty! And the "cards" are lovely tiles that look gorgeous once laid out. I had a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around the flipping of the tiles (I get the bit about the ascending numbers, but got confused about rule #2), but after watching Zee Garcia's review, it made all the sense in the world. The key here is that ALL tiles must touch at least one other tile at the start point and end point. This makes sense because without this rule, nothing prevents you from just making columns ad infinitum. And now, of course, having it mandatory to stagger tiles also makes all the sense in the world. A wonderful solo game that's less brain burn-y and definitely less math-y than Urbion and might just replace it as my go-to super light solo game
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20. Board Game: SOS Titanic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1663]
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Had a good two hours today before the kids woke up and finally decided to dig in and play this. The instructions were super easy, but could have been made even more simpler by saying something to the effect of "played like Solitaire".

That said, I was playing like it was a solitaire game and perhaps that was the wrong strategy because I didn't really make use of the action cards. Then again, I was using First Officer Murdock which is probably the best character to play for starters.

Overall, I like this game and am happy that I stalked it and acquired it.
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21. Board Game: Deckscape: The Fate of London [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:3679]
Maricel Edwards
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I knew going in that this would be the weaker of the two currently out right now (the other being Test Time), so I started my first foray into escape room-type games with this one so I wouldn't experience anticlimax later on. Glad I listened to Zee Garcia; this story wasn't really very compelling. And some of the puzzles were downright counterintuitive. But it was a diverting way to pass an hour with my daughter, and it was hilarious watching the perfectionist G.A.T.E. student in her struggle with the more ludicrous bits. Had I played this solo as I'd initially intended, I think I would've been more disappointed. This is definitely more fun as a co-op. As it is, I don't regret buying it, especially since I now get to gift it to my Secret Santa who happens to like games like this. Would I buy it again, or others like it? Ask me again after I finish Test Time.
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22. Board Game: Meeple Circus [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:1055]
Maricel Edwards
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First game that I busted out and played immediately out the box, which tells you something about the clarity of instructions. (I did miss the step where I was supposed to sticker the special guests; was that supposed to be intuitive or was it mentioned somewhere?) I would normally not even have given this game a second glance, but the cuteness of the meeples suckered me in, and it really is a good game to play with my daughter, who loves real-time dexterity games. I don't even mind losing big (34 to 24) because I enjoy the maniacal laugh of triumph that escapes her when she finishes before me.
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23. Board Game: Dice City [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:844]
Maricel Edwards
United States
Fontana
California
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Tried this for the first time today without really watching a runthrough and ended up with 45 points. But that's because I played the "Attack" part incorrectly (took the number of the die and added 1 every time I landed on an army square instead of adding up all my army squares like I'm supposed to). I feel that this inadvertent "cheat", however, balances out the fact that I was only taking one die turns rather than all five; I misinterpreted the directions. Having since watched Rahdo and realizing my errors, I think I'll have another go at this, but I'm tentatively calling this a solid 7 in my book because it's relatively simple yet has interesting choices. It's kinda like Castles of Burgundy the Card Game lite.
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24. Board Game: Chrononauts [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:1945] [Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
Maricel Edwards
United States
Fontana
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First impressions after one play: very think-y and puzzle-y; would want to play this co-op rather than competitive; wish the patch cards were more distinctly differently colored than the alternative reality cards; I forget how turns work so I just draw up to five and make it work from there; may have inadvertently cheated a bit since I left some things patched rather than nullified and/or didn’t flip events over when I was supposed to; only played with 6 Chrononauts my first go around

Played a second game immediately after and got more into the swing of things, remembering to draw a card after playing one and being more deliberate with the cards I flip. I still ended up playing more tactically than strategically - which is my gaming M.O. anyway - and I did end up sending only 5 of the 6 Chrononauts home, but I felt more confident playing it and hold this akin to S.O.S. Titanic in terms of enjoyable solo game play.
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25. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:115] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Maricel Edwards
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Super fun! Played with SS and GB on New Year's Eve. GB won after thinking she'd lose when she used all her random cards to build a really long track and got 27 points for it. Talk about a runaway (train) victory! Eheh. Odd that it only played 3 people out the box; will I need expansions? Now I see why loads of people say this is a perfect gateway game, especially since even finicky GB liked it. Didn't play with the tunnel rules. Wonder if that'll make a difference? Also wonder if 2P will make a difference in future games w/o SS. Oh, and we house ruled it so on a turn, we can make trades.
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