GCL Mafia 356: Giving Thanks
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!
GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of November 13 - 19, 2017.
• Post a picture of your favorite pet.
• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
• Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.
GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• A weekly game can be spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.
• Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.
• A top five question can be asked for by this week's current-list writer, with members offering suggestions.
• ecargo, phd
This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. I wanted to take some time to reflect on being thankful.
Board game geek now has 94,831 distinct games in its database as of today. What is one game that you are especially thankful that it exists? This game doesn't have to be your favorite. You don't have to even like it. I'd like you to take some time to discuss why you're thankful for that particular game.
Who is one person you've been thankful to have in your life this past year? This could be a partner, a child, or even just that weird guy who shows up every third Saturday to play games. Please give an example of why you're thankful for that person.
This GCL has been going strong for almost 7 years now. Some here are OG, while others of us joined at later times. However, we've all had a hand in building this together. What is one (or multiple) things you're thankful for regarding the GCL or its members?
Board Game: Tradition
[Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
I think we've asked this in previous years, but what is your family tradition for Thanksgiving? Do you always bring the green bean casserole? Does your family participate in Black Friday shenanigans? Are you a Macy's Parade family, or a Cowboys Game family?
I still like answering Top Five questions. Give me your best suggestions.
Most, if not all, of us keep some pets. Many times at Thanksgiving how thankful people are for family, the beauty of the world, or their specific circumstances. Let's take a moment to thank our pets as well.
Ok, so I mostly just want cute pictures of all of your cats and dogs, but this is a great excuse!
80 plays thus far in November and over 60 of them came at BGG Con.
Werewords x17 (new!)
3 Secrets x8 (new!)
Secret Hitler x6
Tiefe Taschen x4
The Chameleon x3
Dark Moon: Shadow Corporation x2
Jump Drive x2 (new!)
The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 x2 (new!)
1775: Rebellion (new!)
Abandon Planet (new!)
Alien Artifacts (new!)
The Bloody Inn (new!)
Cytosis: A Cell Biology Board Game (new!)
Eminent Domain: Microcosm (new!)
Modern Art (new!)
Pandemic: The Cure (new!)
Pie Town (new!)
Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery
Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
Two Rooms and a Boom
Unlock! The Tonipal's Treasure (new!)
The Voyages of Marco Polo (new!)
Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
Word Slam (new!)
This game is a ton of fun. It has a lot of room for creative maneuvering as a Werewolf trying to sabotage, a great deal of tension due to the timer and a traitor, and it just moves along at a great pace.
This was a surprise hit that someone pulled out. It's basically a card with black and white stylized artwork. Three items in the image are highlighted and the group needs to ask yes/no questions trying to figure out the story of the card and why the three items are important. This works because of a background timer and because the background stories are darrrrrk. Stay the hell away from people named Clyde.
Trying to get a copy of this but it's not available in North America.
Fantastic as always. I was the most experienced player in every game by far, so I kind of ran the discussion. This was successful as I figured out the Fascists in nearly every game and won all but one game. Fun times, even when I was assassinated.
I think this has moved up to one of my favorite games of all time (in my top 20ish games). Everyone I introduced this to loved it and my skills of manipulation within the boundaries of the mechanics have matured. I think I won all four plays of this.
This surprised me. I really enjoyed it and it scratched that RftG itch that I've had lately. I can see its faults (luck matters more than RftG), but it's so fast I can forgive that. I may pick this up.
Abandon this game.
Neat concept of saving the innards of the library of Alexandria, but poor execution. Some nifty mechanisms but overall too messy and awkward. Too bad this game wasn't in the library.
This disappointed me but maybe I should have known ahead of time as I'm not a huge Imperial Settlers fan. I want my engine building games to ramp up quickly and be flying off the handle at the end. Much like in RftG where you're pumping out tons of victory points and the train's leaving the rails. This felt stilted as you progressed, then needed to find ways to take the next step. It also felt repetitive in the middle of a single play, which is a bad thing.
You know how you can make worker placement less interesting? Make it about cellular biology. On the plus side, I kept referring to ATPs the rest of the week.
Eminent Domain: Microcosm
I liked this about as much as I liked ED, which is about as much as I imagine I'd like ED if I suffered from it.
James is my hero for introducing me to this. LOVED it. Buying it at some point.
Dark Moon: Shadow Corporation
Got in two plays of this, one we pushed for with James, the other impromptu with some others. Both good but the second game was a little more interesting as we included the module James and I did not use. This balanced the Corporate Man nicely and felt right. Big fan of this expansion overall.
Pandemic: The Cure
This was ok. Better than Pandemic but I'd probably never ask for it.
I enjoyed aspects of this game but the secret recipe deduction element felt a little tacked on. I basically just made my secret recipe as often as possible and won. Awesome. Not really.
I don't know about this game. Underwhelmed I guess is my opinion. All of the parts that help it to capture the setting detract from the actual theme, if that makes sense. The board and extra tracks, room chips, all of that feels unnecessary. Also, the hand management economy feels like it should be a thing and matter but there's almost no tension in the missions. Everyone either has the requirements or doesn't, maybe it gets sabotaged. BSG does this so much better because most crises you can pass, it's just a matter of how much do you commit and managing your hand. Who cares about your hand when you just redraw to full every round? This makes it feel more random as you just need to draw well.
Unlock! Tonipal's Treasure
Best Unlock! yet. Really excited for the other two new ones.
The Voyages of Marco Polo
I want to just say the Voyages of Marco Sucko. Yeah, I'll just say that.
This is fun but I think I'd rather play Werewords, Codenames, or another social game instead.
On My Mind
So many things to review. GF9 only has 6 copies of the Borg in North America and they gave me one. I still need to assemble Necromunda. Too many games dammit.
I also started co-designing a legacy trick-taker with Charles Wright on the way back from BGG Con. This will probably be dropped soon as I'm too busy, but who knows.
Exhausted and happy to be home to see my family.
The Golden Camel UberBadge is a mystery. Nobody knows where it came from or how it got there.
No one expects the Spanish penguin!
But after my exam, I punched Gloomhaven and watched the How to Play video. I'm thinking of solo-playing through the first scenario twice with groups of 3 adventurers (or more times until I win both ways). I need to read through the massive rulebook.
Do people do anything different for playing solo other than just control multiple characters?
If I'm too cheap to purchase an expensive insert (I know, I know, wrong answer), any recommendations on how to sort the monster tokens? For now, I have them sorted by roughly how they appear they would be grouped. But I don't see any easy way to identify monster token from the hex picture in the scenario book. Even for the first scenario, it wasn't straight forward at first look.
Any advice before I start?
I took Thursday off of work to take my OSCP exam. (Reminder, basically an Offensive Security exam about hacking a bunch of computers.) I started at 7am and crashed at 4 am for 2 hours. I woke up around 6:15 with half an hour left to see if there was anything else I should pull off the boxes for my report.
When I was done, I estimated I had 65-70 points with a passing score being 70. A complete lab report (all exercises plus documentation of at least 10 lab machines hacked) is worth 5 bonus points. Mine wasn't finished, but it was close. It was close enough that I was confident I could finish what I had left in 24 hours (the time allotted after the exam to submit your reports), which is why I hadn't bothered to complete it previously. Unfortunately, my access to the labs expired at 4pm, and I was home alone with my son, and my laptop wasn't working to access the labs, so any remaining exercises that required lab access had to happen while my son was sleeping. I barely got that done, and technically wasn't successful in the exercises, but was close enough. I finished the other exercises and write-ups that evening, and sunday after 2am received the email that I had passed.
3 months of this course. For 3 months, all of my free time plus about half of my sleeping time was dedicated to this course. I haven't been playing board games or video games or socializing much. Pretty much not at all except for times that Jennifer had something planned. And now I've passed and can move on. Hooray! I have one other certification I might try to complete before the end of the year. It'll be an easy one and is simply a few hour multiple choice exam, I'm not too concerned. Mostly, I'm looking forward to returning to board games and video games.
Video Games I'll return to Zelda BotW + expansion, Splatoon 2, and Disgaea 5.
Board Games we need to resume playing Seafall, but we'll see if we can make that happen with holiday stuff going on. It might be too difficult.
TIME Stories might see play again, but it's not high priority now as we're mostly caught up. I don't recall if the latest expansion has been released or not, but we do have one print and play ready to go.
Gloomhaven I look forward to starting, but I need to figure out who will play it with me and how to proceed.
Probably there won't be much organized play before 2018, cause these holiday times are chaotic for everyone.
Board Game: Beer!
[Average Rating:3.37 Unranked]
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
Light week, as I was in San Diego for work most of the week.
Played March with Katie. Lost the first game and won the second. There is more to do in Season 2, both mechanically and narratively. We made the mistake of not being smart about our objective plan and also i royally fucked up the shuffle in a way that hurt us bad. Oh well. One thing that's interesting is that the story is not as "on rails" anymore. So while I'm about to put some March stuff in Spoiler Box, someone else may not get to it until a later month.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We reconned South America and Katie did a lot of searching for objectives. We discovered a new Haven off the coast of Central America and will explore it next game. We also positioned ourselves well to recon Africa. Unfortunately, Atlanta fell to 0 population and is now Infested.
Great beer, great food. Found a place that did burgers where the patty is 50% ground beef, 50% ground bacon. It was delicious even if I couldn't finish it. Stocked up on some beers including a bottle of Pliny the Elder and Consecration, both from Russian River.
On my Mind
Oathbringer is really good so far, though it's long. I'm a pretty quick reader and I'm at 40% with about 10 hours into it already. Despite the length, it feels more compact than the Wheel of Time series. Where Jordan spent a lot of time world building and making every little province, country, and peoples have a fleshed out society, Sanderson is focusing on characters and action. I don't think you could play an RPG in Stormlight yet, but it's more engaging than hearing about lace, dresses, and men's fashion.
Katie and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary on Sunday which was cool. Went out for breakfast, played some Pandemic, and took it easy. On Saturday we went to the Notre Dame Navy football game despite hellacious weather. 40 degrees and dropping + rain at Kickoff.
Well me known for eating cookie when me don't they shout
Look! He try to throw loyal fans a curve!
9.5 Tichu x3
N/A Gunslinger NEW!
N/A Grant Takes Command NEW!
N/A 1886 NEW!
N/A War of the Ring (Second Edition)
N/A Sword of Rome
I would be doing myself, and everyone else in GCL Mafia, a huge disservice if I didn't mention the hell out of this: Matt is the man for putting this thread together today, and we're in his debt!
Now that that is over:
WOOT! BGG CON!!!!
Going to do this in chronological order. Everything I played at the Con was planned beforehand, and I liked it that way. I did all of my gaming outside the main hall, I played a few new games while avoiding the new hotness, and I got to teach some old favorites. Old friends and new friends- absolutely great time.
We hit a bakery in a the town of West on the way in Thursday morning. That area of Texas was settled by Czech immigrants. I ended up getting all the flavors listed in the poll previously, except for straight cream cheese (mistake on my part). Several of the ones I bought included fruit and cream cheese. I also got Pumpkin, Very Berry, and Pineapple flavors. I did not eat any Thursday.
Tichu Tournament: I got the in-person experience we really wanted. I also met some really nice people. Our very first game out was against the last year's championship team, who were both very nice people. It was friendly, they gave us some great pointers, and we were pretty well outclassed by them. But I was happy to meet them.
Our second game was an exercise in frustration. The game went 9 hands, and of those the opposing partnership had the Dragon, Phoenix and at least three aces 6 times. They called Tichu in some form 7 times (including the first 5 hands). To our credit, we started by setting a Grand Tichu and a Tichu in the first two hands. But they got big cards, set us 1-2 several times in a row and we got pretty badly blown out. They also talked quite a bit about how they could have played the hands better. I don't think it was intentional, but with the terrible cards we had it really felt like they were gloating and rubbing our faces in it. We came out of the game really bitter toward the two of them, and in a sour mood.
The third game we did a bit better. I had to shut up bitter Grant several times as I complained about game two. But I carried that unhappiness into Friday.
Dinner at Hard Eight
I skipped lunch so I could have a big meal at Hard Eight. It was ok- I felt like it was not the all-world place that several people made it out to be. My brisket I think is better (my War of the Ring Day brisket blew this place out of the water) and while their ribs, turkey and sausage are on-par with my hangouts in Austin they generally cost twice as much. I give it a solid "meh". I did my best not to say too much as the three out of towners I trucked to it were having a near religious experience.
Grant Takes Command: Battle of the Wilderness, with me playing my first GCACW game as Union commander. I got my corp moving and generally we went correctly historically as far as respective command strategies. I learned a valuable lesson about getting flanked early on, which was worth the entire experience. I sent in WS Hancock and the II Corp in a pretty faithful historical model, but in a non-Superb fashion he failed to get his troops into a fight twice in a row. Instead they marched around and tired themselves out- Lee brought up reinforcements, dug in and I lost any hope of victory. I got beat soundly.
Still, this was super valuable. My opponent Patrick is a highly experienced player in this system, and seeing it done well gave me a lot to bring home and think about. Fantastic to play.
Breakfast with G-rant
A nice breakfast- I set out the four dozen kolaches and waited. I didn't see anyone for the first half hour, but a good number of folks trickled in. It was nice to share a treat with everyone, and just catch up on what we'd done in the past year. Fantastic event, would do again. May buy fewer kolaches next time- I think only half the people I invited came, and I had two dozen left afterward that I worked to give away the rest of the Con. I did eat a pumpkin kolache and while I enjoyed it, I would have been happier with apple or raspberry.
I did see our own Dave and James at this event!
Gunslinger: Western music and an good old-fashioned gunfight. Wild Bill and his buddy were ambushed by a group of 5 prospectors. This was intended to be a showdown of two great marksmen who were outnumbered and letting their superior aim and skills make it close. But lady luck had been cruel to me the day before and decided to make it up here- my pal El Guapo* and myself ran up to some stone walls, popped our heads out and took aim at the two marksmen. The second banana got hit in the gut by my pal Andy in his first attempt, and we were told he was going to bleed out in a few turns. My first shot came simultaneously:
I put one right between the eyes of old Wild Bill. El Guapo* finished off the other with his next shot. Game ended very suddenly. Apparently the player who got Wild Bill has terrible luck in this game, and this year was no different. He took two shots that both missed (as did his partner), and I made a highly improbable headshot to take him out.
Also fantastic. Was happy to visit with several emeritus members, including Robin, Kristin, Jeff and Abi. Was also happy to meet several others, and I got my first chance to listen about what was popular in the hot games room, and what folks had enjoyed.
James also reminded me that we played a game together at my first BGG.CON in 2011. I even have him listed in the play log! Had no clue about it, but was a fun surprise.
1886: I'd offered to play something 18XX with Jeff after lunch, so we hit the library. He wanted to try a title he never played, so we settled on 1886. Despite some wonkiness in the rulebook we got into it and had a fun game. The merger aspect was new and interesting and led to a lot of options. Unfortunately we had to call it right as we bought the six trains because I had a commitment at 7- I think lunch ran a bit long and the 4-1/2 hours we took was not quite enough to get this one in. We agreed Abi won the game- Jeff got stuck in purgatory in the Government railroad, and while Abi and I had comparable stock value she was more widely invested and making better payouts.
I'm happy though- Dave has a copy and now I can teach him how to play it, and I know where the pitfalls in the rulebook are. And it was a really pleasant afternoon to spend with Jeff and Abi- it was nice to chat with them and get to know them.
Junta: It's technically not my event, but I'm pretty highly experienced at the game, know the rulebook and cards pretty well, was asked to teach it to the noobs and keep the game moving. This one started out nicely as I think everyone held assassins. I got to put on a clinic on how to agitate as a character with no money or power to instigate change (I spent the first several turns as Admiral), and I did garner a successful rebellion about 1/3 of the way in.
The new president's first action was to make me Minister of Internal Security, and I initiated what can only be described as a Reign of Terror. I was being paid well by El Presidente (some above board and some under the table), so I set about getting revenge on the prior president, threatening other generals who were suspected of treason, and causing as much mayhem as I could. This ultimately drew out the other assassins (either try to and kill me or other wise opportunistically seize money) and the game opened up. There was an absolute bit of anarchy when El Presidente was murdered, and the new president immediately faced a coup to oust him. But Al had drawn several wealthy budgets in his long time as president and greased the right palms- he kept a lot of cash for himself and I obligingly took the heat off him. He won by a million pesos, with 4 other players with 4 million pesos of his total. That's a really really close game.
And we got to wear hats!
Sword of Rome: I was a bit too aggressive here- I took my Etruscan army to fight off the roving Gauls and lost the whole thing in a crappy battle. Combined with a Roman conquest of my remaining towns (which I should have bribed away) I lost half my empire, plummeted in points and was a nuisance the rest of the game. Rome got theirs later as Gaul put most of their cities in revolt. The Greek player eliminated Carthage, and after turn 5 we called it in his favor- he was still 3 VPs short but he'd have it in two turns, and no one was in position to stop him.
It's a fun game and I'd like to try it again. This really feels like it needs a bit of experience to do right- it's very easy to lose everything, so you want to be selective in how many troops you send in. And I'm unhappy that I made the exact same mistake I did in the prior play- the biggest difference is Rome can recover from it, and the Etruscans and Samnites (and probably the Gauls for that matter) cannot.
War of the Ring Our grudge match against Canada. This was ultimately a sloppy game with mistakes all around- Sauron marched his big force to Minas Tirith only to see a huge army, and back off. Sauron had troop problems as he mustered nearly everything in early and had no room when the war plans had to change. We were hampered by uncooperative action dice (too few musters early and not enough character or army later) and had a few abysmal sieges. And despite three large armies (one in Rivendell, one in Edoras and one in Minas Tirith) the Free side had miserable hunt luck early, went slowly, and got hit by some unpleasant events. I made an action die mistake that allowed an extra elite to go into Lorien before we could besiege it. They attempted to threaten a Free Peoples military victory on spaces Sauron had minimal chances to reinforce, but left Rivendell empty and I put an Isengard army in position to capture it.
Going into the third turn in Mordor the Shadow had 3 victory points , the Fellowship was on step 2 with 7 corruption. Their first move knocked off 2 corruption on a good tile draw, but I took Rivendell to push to five points. We took Lorien on a 3rd siege attempt, captured Pelarigr, and had a decent army besieging Helms Deep. The Free peoples had to choose between quest for Mount Doom (3 eyes plus their prior move in the box) or trying to hold out- they did see a weakly defended Shire that they could likely recapture, in the hopes that even with Helms Deep we'd be held to 9 points and a ring victory could occur the next turn. They chose to retake the Shire, then Helms Deep fell in a tight battle. At this point I put on my best poker face, watched them spend their last die....and attacked Dale. It wasn't well defended but could have been reinforced- without help it fell easily and we achieved 10 points for Shadow.
This was a fantastic social game though- we had great conversation and a good time together playing, and that's what I'm at this convention for. I also had booked us into a nice conference room and trucked up my Anniversary set and Strongholds- we got a lot of folks looking in and complimenting the set, which made me feel good.
End of Con: While I got to learn only two "new games" (one of which is 35 years old) this is what I wanted out of the Con. I made several new friends, met with a bunch of older ones. Life is good.
On my mind
New game get!
I had 4 games I snagged through the VFM, one of which is a grail and cost more than all the other things I got combined. The fancy expensive title was one of the last from Avalon Hill before they disappeared, and so was low in quantity and hard to find:
The other three I got through the VFM were:
I'm excited to try the block games- I got ones on subjects that interest me. I've played with (and feel failed at) designing a Texas themed game, so I've wanted to try Texas Glory to see how someone put things together better.
In the Year of the Dragon is a mixed bag- I loved the game when Robin taught it to me, but not enough to go crazy to get it. My copy is missing a tile- since he's local we made the trade in person a few weeks ago and I noticed a missing tile that night. The guy paypaled a refund but waffled on me returning the game to him- I was asked to bring it to the VFM and ultimately told via text during the exchange that he didn't want it back. Which led to a funny moment- I bumped into him on the elevator Thursday night and said "Hey! It's you!" He fist bumped me and smiled, and was really friendly- he was obviously completely drunk and had no clue who I was.
I snagged the following in the vendor hall:
I didn't see anything at the VFM that seemed great, but a few friends mentioned that a COIN game I saw cheap was a bargain. So I waited until 5 minutes were left in the market and offered $10 under asking price and got:
Looking forward to checking it out.
What I left behind: I made eating and exercising a regimented priority at the Con. On Thursday I skipped lunch so I could go all out for Hard Eight, and found my stomach filled up before I could overeat. I packed lunches for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I climbed the stairs from the lobby to our room on the 11th floor at least twice every day we were there. I did several miles on the treadmill on Friday and Saturday, I made calorie goals all 4 days I was at the Con, and I limited my food properly (one kolache, no sodas, no candy). As a result, I actually lost more than a pound between weigh-in before I left Thursday and this morning when I next checked. Not official 'til Weigh-in Wednesday, but I'll take it.
James and I had a talk about what I'm doing to lose weight, and he had unfortunately guessed the secret of my success: watching food intake, exercising, and making sure I burn more than I eat. Bummer there's not a magic secret to it, but I'll swear by it- it's never as fast as you want it to be but ultimately it works.
I also made a friend in the workout room- he was an older gentleman on the treadmill when I came in Friday morning. I saw him leaving the exercise facility on Saturday and introduced myself- his name was Howard and he actually lives in North Austin. After talking to him for a few minutes I realized I'd actually met him at GenCon a few years earlier- he'd been staying with Dave as he's Dave's father. Oops.
This week: Keeping after the health goals despite Thanksgiving coming. I made it through this week well, and I actually jogged for 20 minutes without walking yesterday. I'm getting where I need to be, and I won't let a potential bad week at Thanksgiving get me down. Especially as I got through BGG.CON on the right side.
I think that's enough- I've rambled on for a long time here. I'm watching the mailbox for Gloomhaven, but I can't really complain.
Push Cubes. Blow Stuff Up.
Lords of Waterdeep x2
Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization x2
The Resistance: Avalon
This week, I think I actually "played" my first game with Theodore, insofar as he really understood the objective beyond "daddy, play a game?" which translates to "let's push around random components and then call it a day." He always asks me to pull Sorry! Sliders down from the shelf because he likes to roll the pawns. Up until now, I've never bothered to pull out the track or goals since I didn't think he'd do much with them. This week, he insisted. So I setup the yellow goal board with the hole in the center and attached a single track. He rolled a pawn down the center and it landed really close to the hole, and he looked at me with an excited expression. Then he rolled a second one and it came up short. He looked frustrated. Then he rolled a third pawn and it hit the one which stopped half-way, pushing both onto the goal board. He was smiling again. He rolled the final pawn and it landed dead-center in the hole. He jumped up and down with excitement, and said "Daddy! I did it!" I gave him a high-five and returned the pawns, then asked him to do it again. He rolled the first two short, then looked at it for a minute, the rolled a third and tapped one of the first ones into the hole as a result. He was elated. Then he rolled the fourth and it stopped just before it, and he said, "oh! so close!" I was floored. He totally understood the goal, even using the pawns to knock other pawns forward. We then "played" a full game, taking turns, and he really got into it.
The next day, Ted asked to play another game, and pointed at Lunarchitects. The solitaire challenge requires lots of additional dice rolling, so I set up the full game and had him be the die-roller. He moved the dice around the board well enough (only bumping EVERYTHING twice, which was recoverable). Rolling with gusto, he definitely knocked over my rocket ships like bowling pins a time or two, but we made it work. In the end, it ran just a little too long for his attention span, but it was still a quick game.
Anastasia thought it was precious, and asked to play it with me again later that night. Unsurprisingly, I lost.
We received our Kickstarter rewards for Morels and Foray on Saturday, and played two games back-to-back last night. I had originally borrows the base game from a friend last year, and both of us really liked it a lot. The timing of cards lost to the decay regardless of actions taken fills each decision with a layer of dread regarding possible loss to you and possible benefit to your opponent. There is actually very little AP, but much of the game is on-the-fly assessments of "I'll get this card, but that means she'll get this card, unless she does this so I'll end up with THIS card etc..." The decision space is tight, however, and I've yet to play this with anyone where the turns have come anywhere close to dragging. We opted not to add any Foray expansion content since we were a little rusty on the base game. However, we had all of the fancy hand-made bits from the Kickstarter, including the freaking tagua nut carved into a massive mushroom as the turn-position marker. WORTH IT.
The Resistance: Avalon
Okay, so it's been a long time since I've played good ol' Avalon, but I daresay this session was THE SINGLE BEST TIME I've ever played a social deduction game.
Why? Because I played with with nine middle-schoolers.
Years ago, Anastasia and I led Youth Group at our church for three semesters, at which point enough of the kids involved went off to college and we didn't really have enough interest to continue. Flash-forward to 2017, and there are around a dozen middle-schoolers and a handful of high-schoolers who are a great fit for getting things rolling again. We decided to frame this iteration of Youth Group as a committee-run event, rather than just one or two people doing it all. As a result, Anastasia and I ended up on the Activities Committee. We rotate in every few meetings, and it was my turn for running the evening's activity. I opted to bring Avalon and Codenames, since I was working with a group of kids in sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders who are totally set for bigger social games.
We had nine (really timid) kids, so I played rather than just GM-ing. I started explaining the rules and was met with several tentative stares and a few mutters of "this sounds complicated" and "is this going to be fun?" and "wait, what are all these pieces for?" I soldiered on and explained the roles, the voting, and the underlying idea that no, everyone is not on different teams publicly, but the bad guys are SECRET. It was as if I could see the manipulation and bloodlust ignite in everyone's eyes. We went through the opening moves, then one of the bad guys whispered "wait, what doe the Assassin do again?" REDEAL. Then we did it again, and one of the more confused kids said "oh, NOW I get it!" during the "bad guys open your eyes" phase. REDEAL. The final deal had me as a Minion of Mordred (my first two were Loyal Servants of Arthur). being a mild sociopath myself, this pleased me, of course.
First Quest -- Everyone has no friction during the vote except for the token "I reject this since I'm not on the quest." It passes. We flip four successes and one fail. That last fail card makes everyone gasp, and another level of "aha" flashes across everyone's faces. FAIL
Second Quest -- Two of the same folks from the first quest are assigned for this one, and the vote still passes! Accusations start flying even without any cards played. The bad guys are a bit overeager and TWO fail cards are flipped. One of the kids, Cameron, slams his hand down on the table and starts reciting the theory he already has cooked up for who is who (Cameron is a bad guy). Lots of nodding ensues, accompanied by leering and squinted eyes. Gavan, next to me, counters the points made pretty vehemently. More nodding. More squinting. Dissension prevails. FAIL
Third Quest -- Only one person from the first quest is assigned this time, and the vote stalemates into rejection. This happens two more times. I warn everyone that without a passing vote five times in a row, we get an auto-fail. Tension palpably increases in the room. We reject the mission a FOURTH time! Now the table is at a fever pitch. We approve the next vote and five success cards come out. I'm really scratching my head, because I know that there was a bad guy on the quest, but he had a truly malevolent grin on his face, and frankly, it made the game that much better. PASS
Fourth Quest -- I make sure to tell everyone they need TWO fails to crash the quest, and more discussion erupts. This goes on for almost ten minutes. Courtney weighs the significance of getting only one fail and letting bad guys go to flush them out. Luke says it's ridiculous to expect two failures since he's "figured out" all of the good guys, so he tries to sway me (quest chooser) to pick these players. Hannah accuses Cameron of being a bad guy, and meticulous retraces his voting history and quest participation. Maddie sits silently, trying to avoid eye contact with everyone. Ryder and Evan both point to Gavan and say that "if you're Merlin, you've done nothing to help anyone!" It's raucous, and really something beautiful. I pick two bad guys (including myself) and three good guys. The vote passes. We go a-questing. I deliberately vote success, and so does aforementioned Luke (total bad guy). PASS
Fifth Quest -- Everyone is dumbfounded. Luke and I, voting to succeed, confuses all of the good guy players and the whole table is met with a mixture of smiles, perplexed stares, dropped eyes, tapping fingers, nervous throat-clearing, and finally, silence. I kid you not, the whole room went quiet. As soon as Hannah speaks up, everyone starts shouting. Mason and Cameron are standing up, eyes wide, Gavan is flushed with embarrassment and frustration, Maddie gets up to get a drink of water and leaves the room. It's chaotic perfection. The refrain of "well, now we can't trust anyone" comes up several times. Mason, to my left, is the next to choose who goes on the quest. He quiets everyone, clearly deliberates carefully, and chooses his five--all of them are good guys. The vote is close, but I was not the only bad guy to approve it, adding to the smokescreen. The cards are flipped, and all of the air is sucked out of the room in anticipation: success, success, success, success, success. Just about everyone gets up from the table and shouts! I place the third good guy win token on the board. Then Luke stands up, declares he's the assassin, and looks at all of the good guys, one after the other. He finally walks over to Gavan and pokes him hard in the shoulder. "YOU'RE DEAD!" Gavan just about flips the table over and reveals that he is, in fact, Merlin. More shouting! More pointing! More laughing! Luke does a victory lap around the room and all of the bad guys high-five him. PASS, BUT MERLIN'S DEAD!.
It was extraordinary. The other Youth Group leaders who had to sit out were laughing out loud and congratulating everyone on all of the deduction and scheming. The good guys were lamenting their loss. The bad guys were gloating in their deception. I was beaming. Everyone LOVED it (if you couldn't tell), but we didn't have time to play again. We're having an all-nighter event early-ish next year, and everyone told me I have to come and play this with them over and over and over again. Two of the girls, Hannah and Courtney, had played board games with me in the past and both thought they were horribly boring and un-fun (Pandemic and Biblios), but they then told me that "this was the most fun game ever!" and "I couldn't believe what happened!"
Nine timid, seemingly-disinterested kids sat down at that table. Nine ruthless, scheming, and 110%-invested kids stood up at the end, begging for more games to play with each other. I'd chock it up to being one of the best single board game moments of my life.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Path to Carcosa 2
Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes 2 NEW!
Bohnanza: The Duel 1
Flatline: A FUSE Aftershock Game 1
Potion Explosion 1
The Fox in the Forest 1
Time's Up! Title Recall! 1
Review: Legendary Buffy sucks, but that one rando commenting doesn't think so.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Path to Carcosa: I played the second scenario both times. The game continues to impress me in terms of narrative and novel mechanics that fit the story so well.
Okanagan: I had to look up how to pronounce this because I don't speak Canadian. This was a random review assignment. It's basically a trumped up Carcassonne. It plays super fast and has some cool stuff going on.
A quick rundown for those who are interested:
On your turn, place a tile then place a building on the played tile. There are three different buildings, which get placed in different areas of the tile. Like Carcassonne, when a territory is completed, you score. In Okanagan, you score based on your buildings' influence in the area and divvy up the resources shown accordingly so there's some vying for control that goes on. Objective cards give you purpose in why you'd place in one location or another. The tile stack also provides you an action if you are the only person in a territory and choose to forgo getting resources.
Flatline: I think I finally played this correctly. We had an amazing last turn where we could only spare one dice and all the rolls had to be perfect. On a reroll, one of the guys rolled the exact three colors we needed to win. Fantastic.
Gloomhaven: Okay, scenario 2 went much smoother and was way more enjoyable than the first one. Matt and I switched from a mindthief and tinkerer to a spellweaver and brute, respectively. That brute is way more up my alley in terms of my play style. If I'm not going to be on the sidelines healing and buffing people, then I want to be a big beefy dude that gets all up in enemies' faces. I'm still a little fuzzy on the monster movement and attack, but it's getting better. I just assume whatever is most logical and makes it so we're most likely to get attacked.
On My Mind:
I'm still trying to figure out a cheap storage solution for all the Gloomhaven stuff. My CD sleeves are okay, but the J.Lo Grammy's dress plunging neckline on them makes the tokens fall out too easily. The wooden inserts are more than I want to pay right now, so I'm looking toward other CD sleeves and counter trays. My goal is to fit everything in the box.
I got the newest three Unlock! games and am looking forward to playing those. With the escape room games, Mansions of Madness, and Gloomhaven, I have sneakily gotten Matt to play co-op games.
8 Codenames: Disney Family Edition x10 NEW!
Only played 2-Player Disney Codenames with Kim. Which was really nice, because we never play games together. But she had some news that kept her troubled. Between that and the stress of work, the game was a nice distraction, with a looming feeling of life stress we both held.
The Disney version is… I mean… it’s what mostly what you’d expect. But in some ways, I would say it’s even more challenging, because it demands a lot more intimate knowledge of the movies/characters. A lot of the pictures share a lot of similarities and overlap, which forces you to get super creative. And creativity will come from more intimate knowledge.
Had a pretty rough week at work. Long hours. I had almost 60 hours in after Friday and I worked over the weekend too. We’ve got a lot of things going on both in the office and in the field. I decided to stay home instead of going to game night on wednesday night, because I was burnt out and wanted to spend time with the wife. Now I’m wanting a full week vacation.
I finished the Lords of the Sith novel. One of the worst new canon star wars novels so far. The first few chapters were pretty good, but then it turned into Michael Crichton's Congo, only the gorillas were the Arachnids from Starship Troopers. Very one dimensional characters. It didn’t really bring anything new to the universe. Events of the book got very repetitive, and I considered just stopping part of the way, but it was a shorter novel, so I just finished it. The whole thing felt very small, when most Star Wars books have a pretty big feeling.
After finishing Lords of the Sith, I started up Phasma. A silver lining of the number of hours I’ve worked is that how much I’ve been able to listen to this audiobook. A book of this length will usually take me two weeks to get through. Maybe getting through an hour in a day, most of it during a commute. But I’ve had a lot more time to listen to this, especially with the office not being super packed with people in the odder worker hours. I was able to finish it at work on Saturday. This is the most captivating new canon Star Wars book I’ve read/listened to yet. It’s a post-apocalyptic setting with a still familiar Star Wars feeling. Biggest criticism is that the titular character is a bit one-dimensional. But it’s nice to have a bit more context regarding her and the First Order. Spoiler: She’s a very bad person who works with very bad people.
I started up Thrawn, who is among my absolute favorite characters from the old Star Wars books. I was giddy when he came back into canon. And so far, he’s still just as awesome as I remember. I’m about halfway through now. It’s great when an author seems to be able to write a character that would perceivably and convincingly be smarter and more cunning than the author themselves. I know when you write in a separate universe, you can pull on strings that don’t exist in reality, and those strings can make them appear smart. That happens here too, but there’s still a thoughtful element of deduction and intelligence that echos a sort of “evil Sherlock Holmes”. (Not Moriarty, which was more of a brilliant but ruthless criminal mastermind). I hope this book expands into a larger story though. So far, it’s basically an origin story with Thrawn being smart accelerating through military his ranks.
One thing that I love is happening with Disney is just how much diversity there is in every story. Characters come from a place with different cultures, and there’s a diversity of views and characters that exist within those cultures. It’s something that makes everything feel more tangible, and interesting. While many characters often feel one-dimensional (Phasma in particular), the places the books explore gives a sense of depth that help give the characters themselves some depth as a proxy.
10. Dominion x2
N/A Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 3: The Hook Mountain Massacre x2 NEW!
Only time for a couple games of Dominion (with Nocturne) this week. The new cards didn't feature too heavily in either game (the second(?) had Ghost Town which helped with the consistency of whatever attacking nonsense I was doing there), so not much to say about that yet.
Game 14 (3.1) - We didn't come all that close to losing this one, but it was a bit more challenging than previous scenarios. The villain here (Mammy Graul) has to be defeated twice, and after rolling well the first time on the second she came up 1 short (21 needing 22). We had stuck a bunch of monsters on the bottom of that (last) deck, and her getting shuffled in could have been annoying, but Aerial drew her second Augury and the villain had ended up right back on top anyway. I finished her off.
I can't remember which skill Aerial took this time - I don't think it was Wisdom. Maybe Charisma, since I'm so bad at that? I took another Dexterity, so now I'm +6 on Ranged (without accounting for my weapons and Snakeskin Tunic).
Game 15 (3.2) - I ran into the villain fairly early on this one, but Aerial gave me a 2 dice blessing for the second check so not much trouble there. Later I ran into the henchman requiring a Charisma check, which I am just terrible at. Otherwise, nothing too bad. We recruited a lot of allies (and both took an extra one for our card feat - I added Shalelu, who is a slightly better Archer, and Aerial added Aldern Foxglove as a temporary placeholder until she can get another Animal).
The next one looks like it could just randomly beat us through bad rolls and shuffle luck, so that will be different...
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
8 Clans of Caledonia x6 New!
8 Jaipur x1 (18 plays so far)
8 Ra x1 (6 plays so far)
7 The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet x1 (25 plays so far)
7 Patchwork x1 (17 plays so far)
7 Maskmen x1 (3 plays so far)
On Clans of Caledonia :
4 solo plays :
- #1 - Cunningham - 116 VP (5 contracts)
- #2 - Cunningham - 116 VP (5 contracts)
- #3 - Mac Kenzie - 104 VP (5 contracts)
- #4 - Mac Kenzie - 111 VP (5 contracts)
So i am stuck around 110ish and 5 contracts. In my last game, i would be able to earn +99$ in last round with Mac Kenzie (2 whiskies out of my sellar (+22$) + selling 5 whiskies for 15$ each) but having money is not enough : you need to have some production chain because 7 traders is not enough in late game in order to fulfill contracts.
For now, i would say that getting out your 7 traders ASAP is very important.
And 2 plays with friends (3 and 4 players). It is a well crafted game. Lot of decisions and lot to explore. Everyone else liked it a lot and asked me to play it again.
On my mind :
We have finished Narcos season 2. It was great, not even an average episode so far. I really hope that season 3 is good too.
Love 'em even if a few games get scuttled from time to time.
BGG.CON = GAAAAMEZ so many games
2 Forest NEW!
2 Senators NEW!
6 Adventure Land NEW!
6 Fast Forward: FORTRESS x3 NEW!
6 Super Mario: Level Up! Board Game NEW!
6 Transatlantic NEW!
6.5 Dragon Castle NEW!
6.5 Entropy: Worlds Collide NEW!
7 Fische Fluppen Frikadellen NEW!
7 Cyclades NEW!
7 Fast Forward: FEAR x25 NEW!
7 Istanbul: Das Würfelspiel NEW!
7 The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game NEW!
7 Zooloretto Duell NEW!
7.5 Fast Forward: FLEE NEW!
7.5 Montana NEW!
7.5 Whitehall Mystery NEW!
8 Altiplano NEW!
8 Carthago: Merchants & Guilds NEW!
8 Caverna: Cave vs Cave NEW!
8 Majesty: For the Realm NEW!
8 Nusfjord NEW!
8 Pioneers NEW!
8.5 Clans of Caledonia NEW!
8.5 Dolmen NEW!
8.5 Santa Maria NEW!
9 Calimala NEW!
N/A Klondike Rush NEW!
4 Starving Artists
6.5 The Bloody Inn
ROBCART Project: ELITE
8 Terraforming Mars
8 Witness x2
9 Paris Connection
9 Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion x2
10 Cthulhu Wars
10 Race for the Galaxy x3
I had an amazingly wonderful time at the con, and I was able to game a lot with James, quite a bit with Charlie, and although I spent some time with Grant and Jeff, I don't think we actually got to game together. I did get to game with some GCL alumni as well, being Robin, Rishi, Kristen, and Abby (Abbey?). Also got to say hi to Phil (and go to the pre-con escape room with him!) but he was not able to join for the con itself this year.
Since this is a long list I'll try to keep the descriptions at one or two sentences:
Forest seems more like a kid's counting activity than a game. It's from Leo Colvini (seriously) but all you do is play a card from the 3 in your hand and declare if there are 7 or more of something on the table. Cute artwork, completely random and pointless as a game though.
Senators is the latest from the designer of Coup, whom has a knack for making games I don't like. I'll post a rant later (since people seem to like those) but I'll just say TSS for now. Ugh.
Adventure Land was... okay? The "you can go forward but not back" thing works fine here but it felt quite random. Is there useful stuff spawning at random near you? If yes great! If no whoops your turn sucks. When I was making trade-offs it was nice, when the game stuck it to someone position-wise it was much less so.
FORTRESS was my least favorite of the three fable card games from Friedmann Friese. It seems like it could be fun but the random game ending timer being really short sucked all the fun out of the game. Some rounds a few players drew less than three cards. Meh. But when it didn't end abruptly it showed some potential.
Super Mario: Level Up! is a cute little bluffing game. Definitely not a thinky or deep game but not bad as filler for a big group. Would play again but likely would not request.
Transatlantic was my disappointment of the con in terms of "I thought this would be good but it fell short of expectations." It feels like all the interesting parts of the game were streamlined away, and you are left with a very flat game where decisions aren't very interesting and the gameplay progression arc is relatively fixed by design. It's not terrible but it's not as good as Gerdts' classics at all.
Dragon Castle is basically Shanghai (the tile pyramid game) but with some gamery stuff added. It's fine. Tiles are lovely, game is decent. Would play again but not going to buy it for the high price the materials seem to make it cost.
Entropy is a wine-in-front-of-me game that was better than expected. The take-that element isn't too high (yay) and with a group of 4 (which it really wants) everyone will clash and lose their actions a lot. End game outcome is somewhat random but for a game that lasts 15 minutes I won't begrudge it too much.
Fische Fluppen Frikadellen with 14 people was terrifically hectic. It's a nice but slightly plain pickup and deliver game that has a few interesting twists - but having people jump between tables elevates it (even though it also drives up the chaos factor by a huge amount too).
Cyclades was fine. I wasn't blown away but nor was I repulsed. This was a 3p game with Charlie and James and they said it turned out really weird due to how money ended up being doled out. I'd play again but I'm not in a rush to buy it.
FEAR is a nice and quick push-your-luck game combined with the fable deck thing. We played through all 90 cards in one giant sitting (which was neat) and I do think this one is enjoyable. You want to get high cards for the points but you need low cards so that you don't get kicked out of the game on your turn, and the tension there works.
Istanbul: The Dice Game is good, although not as good as real Istanbul. It works fine but you can get some cruddy turns since you can't reroll the dice much. It works though overall.
Castles of Burgundy Dice is pretty good - it's definitely a roll-and-write (and doesn't deviate too far from that model), but you can feel the influence of the original CoB in it. It's different enough from the base game that I can see playing this rather than it sometime, which I never felt from Cards, which was just an inferior version of the original too me.
Zooloretto Duel has surprisingly terrible art (I wish I took a picture now, darn it) but the game is good. It's a variation on the usual push-your-luck-take-a-group *oretto games, but with enough twists for 2-player (only) to make it feel different enough.
FLEE is a big logic puzzle - and a surprisingly good one. It's so much of a puzzle that there's actually not a whole lot of just plain "game" here at all, but I did enjoy it still. Don't bother playing with 4, a lot of the game is just deciding what characters will do what, there's no needed to have a person sitting at each.
Montana might have a spinner, but it's a fine game. It's a quick race game that plays pretty smoothly and has nice art and pieces. The mechanics work but might be a tad shallow. I'm also amused that the "store auction" is entirely done with... pumpkins? Um, not with... money? There is money in the game too. Whatever. :laughing:
Whitehall Mystery is a nice mix-up on Whitechapel. It's shorter and smaller but also (much!) quicker. I don't think it replaces the original for me, but I might ask for this for Christmas since I could see this getting played much more readily.
Altiplano is an odd one. It's a variation on Orleans, and I think I might like the fact that it's more of an engine builder quite a bit, but the interaction in this is soooo minimal. The game is still enjoyable mechanically, so I do like it, but do not play this expecting to feel like you're in direct contention constantly - other than the per-turn race to grab the better building tiles you're largely doing your own thing.
Carthago: Merchants & Guilds is an interesting take on a limited actions game. You get 15 actions (over the whole game) to try and get a fleet of ships, people in the guilds, and tokens on the bonus tiles. You're severely constrained by the cards you have (and what your opponents do, for some things), but the whole thing feels like it works for people who like high-stress euros. I can see why many would't like it though.
Caverna: Cave vs Cave is a variation on (you guessed it) Caverna, but modified for just two players. It's super quick, and there are a few actions that you'll both frequently want, so there's definitely some racing to get those actions and some of the rooms. Not mind-blowing but solid.
Majesty: For the Realm is like Splendor in that you just take one card at a time and they build upon one another, but instead of the very subdued gameplay of that one, here you get POINTS POINTS POINTS HAVE SOME MORE POINTS. The way the game makes getting attacked not all that bad much of the time is interesting too. Short and fun.
Clans of Caledonia is basically "what if Terra Mystica was a market game?" given form. The tableau management is practically the same as TM, but you make assorted resources that you use to fulfill orders, and there's a price-shifting marketplace. It's a euro-y euro, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Dolmen was a lovely surprise, and I'm glad James talked it up. It's (rare?) abstract that is best with more than two, and there's a lot of interesting things to decide on, since many moves will help you but also help other players, and you need to balance that out. Thinky, crunchy, and distinct. I like.
Santa Maria is "what if Patchwork had dice drafting," perhaps. You put Tetris-like pieces on a grid and draft dice (with the same mechanic as Grand Austria hotel), then those dice run down a row or column and trigger things to give you stuff. It's very combo-rich, which I loved, and there seem to be multiple valid ways to win. Very enjoyable.
Calimala has a tired trading in the Mediterranean theme but a really awesome action triggering and scoring setup that feels fresh and vibrant. It was the best new game of the convention for me. Really neat stuff and plays with 5 in 90-120 minutes.
Klondike Rush we flubbed two major rules on, so I haven't rated it yet. I feel like it will be kind of ehhhh when we play it right, but it seems to have a lot of randomness in a set of rules that is strangely unforgiving of bad luck.
Starving Artists is something I'm pretty much done with. The values of the cards are too random (some are easy and worth lots of points, others are hard and literally worth none), and the "make five paintings first" strategy seems totally undoable just given the mismatched card values.
The Bloody Inn is still fun, but I feel like I've also seen the limits of the system in the base game. There's not enough time to build much, but it's a good time regardless.
Project: ROBCART HAS ROBCART
It's fun and silly. Not worth the premium price but enjoyable for sure.
Terraforming Mars I'm slightly falling out of love with (I feel like certain strategies just seem... a little better?), but it's still a good game. I'm just not quite as taken with it as I was in the past.
Witness is still terrifically unique and quirky. I wouldn't play it for hours on end but a case or two once in a while is just lovely.
Coloretto is such an amazingly pure and streamlined experience that it feels timeless. Great fun in a small box and short timespan.
Paris Connection is one of my favorite fillers, and it didn't disappoint. It's so simple, yet there's still strategy and bluffing to be found.
Race for the Galaxy and Xeno Invasion still are amazing. Not falling out of love with these at all.
Cthulhu Wars is still the best asymmetric faction dudes-on-a-map game in the business. I really need to get this played more. It's just a great system.
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Well I took some games to my work meetup in the Dominican (Cacassone, Ra, Coloretto, No Thanks), but we didn't end up playing them, as we tended to hang out in the pool in the evenings (if only I had waterproof no thanks), which is fair enough.
It is technically in *next* weeks list, but yesterday (Monday) my friends Grey and Mikhail came over and we played the first two Gloomhaven scenarios. We're the Mind Thief (Grey), the Cragheart (me), and the Scoundrel (Mikhail).
We *barely* won the first game (I was exhausted, but I managed to activate my Retaliate ongoing effect, then plop myself in the middle of 4 guys, hit them some, and then inflict some decent retaliate damage even as I died.
Second game we won a bit more handily with none of us going down and only the Scoundrel (who has a more limited card pool) really being anywhere near in trouble. He did take a healing potion over the game-recommended Stamina potion and by the end of game 2 he was like "yeah, I can see how the Stamina potion would have been better". We have 4 options now for where to go next, so we'll see how that goes after thanksgiving.
I have this week off work (which is even more enforced by the fact that I *kinda* left my laptop in the Dominican Republic - co worker is sending it back to me), so yesterday was gloomhaven, and today and tomorrow are cooking, including:
Corn Pudding (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRUkJ0e3LQg) - Making one today for my son's afterschool care potluck and then another one to bring to my side of the family thanksgiving friday.
Make ahead gravy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgO4emPuW9U)
Babaganoush (not really for thanksgiving - just had some eggplants to use up)
Tomatillo chicken (again, not thanksgiving, just had some chicken thighs and tomotillo).
Chipotle Black Beans (to have w/the chicken).