GCL Swedish Meatball Division #339: Triage
Vivienne Raper
United Kingdom
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Welcome to this week's discussion list for the Swedish Meatballs, a division of BGG's GameChat League. Only members are to add items, but there is nothing we enjoy more than contributions from other victims... oops BGG users.

Rotation:

NateStraight
AAArg_ink
lacxox
bnordeng
Jugular
hanibalicious
qwertymartin
ellephai
drbobjack
Osirus
chearns
Sorp222
VeeMonroe

We're continuing our attempts to reduce the size of our board game collection, without losing any games we would miss. We call this process 'triage'.

Triage involves systematically playing games to make an intelligent stay/go decision. This might involve playing multiple times, in comparison with other games, or at different player counts.
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1. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:621]
Vivienne Raper
United Kingdom
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How many times do you need to play a game before you know if it should stay... or go?

We do a 'first triage' on new games, which is an immediate stay-go decision. My intention is always to avoid making mistakes, but sometimes they do happen.

After the initial triage, we usually need to play a game 3-5 times before making a consistent long-term stay/go decision.
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2. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:147]
Vivienne Raper
United Kingdom
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Do you manage to play all your new games often enough to make a decision?

One of our problems is that games that don't shine on first play often hang around on the shelves, waiting to get triaged properly.
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3. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
Vivienne Raper
United Kingdom
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Have you ever decided you liked a game after an unsatisfying first play?

My classic example is Race for the Galaxy, which is very hard to learn due to the icons. I strongly disliked my first play, but learned the game on the Keldon AI and now enjoy it.
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4. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:71]
Vivienne Raper
United Kingdom
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Have you ever fallen out of love with a game?

Trajan's mancala was brilliant fun until we puzzled out how to manipulate it (relatively) consistently. The game behind the mancala was a very dull series of min-max mini-games that must appeal to optimisation fanatics because it's still being played.
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5. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Vivienne Raper
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What's the highest ranked game (on BGG) that didn't work for your group(s), and why?

Puerto Rico, a dry economic eurogame that simply doesn't work with two.
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6. Board Game: Galactic Strike Force [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:6907]
Vivienne Raper
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What's the lowest ranked game (on BGG) that you enjoy, and why?

I wrote a review of Galactic Strike Force, which I absolutely love - it's in my Top 100 - but which epically flunked with the wider BGG community.

It's not a perfect game, but I love the kooky space-fantasy theme and the novel 'shipbuilder' mechanics.
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7. Board Game: Blood Bowl (2016 edition) [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:530]
Vivienne Raper
United Kingdom
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Jon and I triaged the Games Workshop reprint of Blood Bowl, which a friend had recommended, but which - scandalously - we hadn't got around to playing. It turned out to be an expensive play as we absolutely loved the game and promptly bought some star players, a troll and some goblins.

I was playing orks against Jon's human team. My strategy was to incapacitate his players, allowing me to walk the ball into the end zone. Jon took an early lead, passing the ball down the pitch and dodging my slower-moving black orks with his human linesmen. However, I was able to intercept his cage of linesmen before they reached the end zone, leading to a multi-turn scrum with some spectacular ball fumbling. By turn six, I'd manage to KO, kill or stun all but four of his players, but was too far back on the pitch to reliably score with the ball.

At half time, after two hours of play, it was a draw! Unfortunately, we weren't able to continue into the second half as it was late in an evening - after my little one had gone to bed.

On Wednesday, we took a bunch of multi-player games to try out at the local board game group. As I arrived before Jon, I kicked off playing someone elses' copy of Isle of Skye, a game we sold, but which I don't mind playing. I lost by one point in a two-player match, which surprised me as Jon always won.

Next we played Colossal Arena, which we'd enjoyed two player, but thought would play better with more. I ended up feeling bad for inflicting the game on three other people due to the effective player elimination (a player put nearly all his bets on one creature, which was eliminated after a couple of turns), difficulty of teaching, and mathematical skill required to play well. Cheaty Mages is a much better game IMO.

Fortunately, one of our other games was Magic Maze, which struck a chord with the group and ended up being played five times (!) in quick succession. It's a fun game with five people, with lots of silent (illegal) gesturing and frantically banging the 'do something' marker. I'm sure the group would have played it more times, but we had to go home to relieve the babysitter.
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8. Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:428]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Games night

Sam picked up The Quest for El Dorado which I was keen to give another go. Enjoyed it - I focused on racing over deckbuilding, but Ian hung back and visited several caves, allowing him to power past me at the finish.

Eggs of Ostrich x3 filled in nicely until the other three had finished with...

Azul which, as suspected, is even better with 3 than with 4. I did best on the endgame bonuses, but got hit with a -11 floor row in the penultimate round and lost by a couple of points.

Finished with NMBR 9 which did not go well for me at all.

At home

98th play of Jump Drive
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9. Board Game: Roma [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:856] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Had an old friend over for some 2p gaming. We played two old favorites of mine, and although he'd never played them before, he took a game from me in each!

Roma is Feld's least stereotypically Feld game, fast-paced, highly swingy, some aggro destruction, and hard to predict. I've always loved it, and I also like that we can have games where whoever runs out of points loses, followed by a game where it's a race to most points.

Aton is the other Queen 2p game I like, a very different checkered beast. We had an odd set of games in that both of the first two games went to instant win. The second one he won incredibly fast; he'd gotten four checkers in a temple which didn't worry me overmuch, then the next round he put in four more while I couldn't reach the temple, and in the round after that he played 1s in the first and second cartouche, managing to finish off the last four checkers before I got a turn. Brutal! Our third game was much more defensively-focused.


ADDED: GAME NIGHT

Elysium 2p - This is much faster at 2p. I was doing well until my opponent decided to start taking first player, then I was suddenly out of money and lost. I like this a lot at 2, moves really fast.

Copycat 3p - Had just mentioned to Hanibal that I tried this and felt merely so-so about it, even though it's made up of mechanics I love. Well, tonight we gave it another try, and it turns out, I still feel the same way. It's neat, it pushes all my buttons, but it just doesn't add up to anything. I'll be perfectly happy to play it again when someone suggests it, but I don't think it's ever going to be a favorite. Which is a shame, as on paper, it totally should.
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10. Board Game: Telestrations [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:224]
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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Dinner followed by some light gaming. I had not played Telestrations before and it was a hoot - much enhanced by abysmal drawing skills. Also played Apples to Apples and Take it Easy! Am hoping for some gaming over the Christmas holiday. The shop is busier than ever and between xmas/Essen releases and sales selling games stops me gaming.
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11. Board Game: Heaven & Ale [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:559]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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I organized the regular (monthly) company gaming night on Tuesday. As usual I had 40ish game with me as you may never know hom many and what kind of people turn up and when (even though you try to get a response from everyone in google calendar) but no one played more than one game - well, most of them did it twice. They played Medici two times at the other table and we played the game below.

 7.5   Heaven & Ale x2 NEW!

Buying Heaven & Ale was more of an impulse buy than something I planned for long. It's an Esen 2017 game and I was certainly curious because of Michael Kiesling's name on the cover, but it also looked like a JASE so I wasn't sure it would go well with me. I just wanted to give it a try... and ended up buying. I'm not sure if it would become a game my family plays (in a few years) but it was a success with the two guys I played with. One of them is one of the most tustworthy members of this gaming club - in the past 6ish years I think he joined us more than 40 times for the gaming club. I wouldn't call him a gamer but he's learned and played lots of games by now (mainly at these events) and a few months ago I was even able to teach him Agricola. The other guy is a developer, recently the head of the IT, with far less experience (he even drooled at the sight of Back to the Future Monopoly) but he's curious and willing to learn anything. The first guy (a big beer fan) really wanted to learn Heaven & Ale even though I told them I haven't read the last pages of the rulebook yet. Still, we learned the game together (they looked a bit confused) and had our first play. I won by 47:32:17 (the first guy with the lowest score) and I thought okay, they'll never want to play it again but they insisted we should replay immediately. And they even enjoyed this part, even though the order remained, me winning 37:12:8 (the numbers were lower as now everyone could see what we should go for so competition was more fierce). And then it was too late to start a third one but they insisted we should play it again next time!

So. It's good that I played the game two times in a row as I can appreciate it more after two plays. After reading the rules the game didn't seem to be very streamlined and indeed I wouldn't call it Kiesling's cleanest design but even if it's not that elegant, it's got a rather good structure where everything has its function in the mechanism. It's got Samurai-ish tile-laying which of course I like. It's actually closer to Seeland (which I mistakenly called a Kiesling design in the new to you list - it's actually a Kramer/Burkhardt design) - you collect plant and other tiles from a - kind of - rondel (okay, in a way it's Tikal II-ish, at least that's a Kramer/Kiesling predecessor); just to place them on a hex map where you score them depending on their sum value when something is surrounded. By the second play it became clear that even if you can place these tiles wherever you like it needs quite a bit of planning and perfect timing to put them to the right places. Then there is the scoring action which reminds me of how the scoring actions go in Palaces of Carrara (score type, score 'city' - tiles around a monk - and one scoring for a selected number, but you may score each only once), only with more fierce competition for the possibility of scoring (scoring actions are commonly available on the track and whoever goes there first would score them). Well, I'm not sure about the Andreas Schmidt part (no dice; maybe his Hobbit games are somewhat like this, following a path and taking actions) so in my eyes the mechanisms are pretty much Micheael Kiesling.
Oh, and the endgame (VP) scoring is especially to my liking - I don't know what it is, but I love multiplayer scoring (collect A, collect B, your score is A times B), even though it's spiced up with the Knizian 'highest lowest' concept (instead of A you have A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 and your score is Amin times B) but also with an idea that makes the role of the brewmaster (B) more important - the more he's ahead the better ratio you have for exchanging different resources (As) in the end. It can of course make scores more different than in many so-called 'very balanced' games but I think it's part of the charm of this game.
On the negative side, the game is, well, not very thematic. Theme and look does help in playing it but you won't really feel like monks gardening, growing the ingredients of beer, then brewing them etc. But whatever, when did it bother me much? I like this design and I'm really curious how replayable it can remain with only the order of the tiles coming up randomized during the game. I have a feeling it's going to have an old-fashioned kind of good replayability - which is cool.

In the weekend, no time for playing. Besides some hospital visits, we had some programs as well: a (children's) literature festival on Saturday and enjoying the first snow outside with the kids on Sunday. Pics on my instagram account.
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12. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.70 Overall Rank:13]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_9_ Battle Line - 2 Players
_8_ Gaia Project - 4 Players
_8_ Le Havre - 3 Players
_8_ Kingdom Builder - 2 Players
_8_ Can't Stop - 4 Players, 2 Players (x2)
_8_ Dominion - 2 Players
_8_ Diamant (Incan Gold) - 4 Players
_7_ Saboteur - 7 Players
_7_ The Resistance - 7 Players
_7_ Deception: Murder in Hong Kong - 6 Players (x3)
_7_ The Quest for El Dorado - 2 Players (x2)
_6_ Wits & Wagers - 7 Players

With the kids...
.NA. Unpublished Prototype (Renewables) - 3 Players
_8_ Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower - 4 Players
_7_ PitchCar - 3 Players; 2 Players
_6_ Fugitive - 2 Players
_6_ Imaginiff - 5 Players
_5_ Mr. Mouth - 3 Players (x2)
_5_ That's a Question! - 3 Players


(1) Gaia Project - My second play of Gaia Project and I'm getting more comfortable with how it works despite the fact that I forgot one my race's special powers for the first half of the game. I've given an 8 rating thus far because the game is very good... I think it has potential for a 9, but I need to see it play out more first. The changes to the technology track (from cult track in TM) are excellent. The races feel more varied with more special stuff. I think that's good, but the balance concern is there. I don't think anyone expects everything to be perfectly balanced (that'd be boring anyway), but might they be too unbalanced? One player at our table is concerned with the Gaia and Transdim planets and how contentious those are and how much scoring they cause. He brought up that they might be too important with different abilities to actually get to them. That may be true, but there seem to be other ways to score so I'm not sure if it's a problem. I look forward to playing this more.

(2) Le Havre - My 4th play of Le Havre and it is my favorite Uwe Rosenberg game. Considering how much of a gamer I am, I'm not much of a fan of Uwe; I own just 4 of his games. I like Le Havre and ACBAS; Bonanza isn't bad for a family game. I haven't been able to identify what keeps me from getting too excited about his games, but Agricola grew old for me and I didn't love Ora et Labora and Gates of Loyang as examples. I don't hate any of his games... I'd just rather play a lot of other games than Uwe's. Anyway, this round of Le Havre was fun and unique. We never got the Cokery and Steel Mill out, so I was able to win with a ton of scoring from buildings that scored symbols on buildings. I built and bought a lot of buildings by the end.

(3) Can't Stop - I taught Can't Stop to 4 different people this week and they all quite liked it. I anticipate more copies of Can't Stop will exist in the Madison area in the near future.

(4) Saboteur - Almost 2 years since my last play of Saboteur and I like it with 6 or 7 people who are willing to go with the flow. I think the geologist (Saboteur 2) is a bit overpowered, but not to the point where it ruins everything. I play without the boss and the profiteer because they can't get as much gold as others. It's decent, shifting teams, take that fun which would benefit from clearer iconography on the cards. We're always constantly throwing around the 2 instruction booklets for everyone to understand what a card does.

(5) Castle Panic - Azalea and Dane wanted to play and Marie was willing. Somehow, we squeaked out a win with just 2 towers standing at the end. We had some slick turns to keep ourselves alive and were probably saved by the boulder which trampled two monsters about to topple one of our last 2 towers. Marie enjoyed the game enough, but couldn't believe how "nerdy" it was. She laughed out loud a few times when Dane, Azalea and I talked to each other cards because we all knew what they meant. For example... Dane says, "hey dad, will you trade me your Chain Lightning and I'll give you an Any Color Knight so you can hit the Centaur on your turn." Azalea says, "good idea Dane. Then, I can trade you Teleport on my turn if you can give me Nice Shot so I'll use it with my Archer to take out the Chimera." laugh

(6) That's a Question - I'm sure it would be better with 4 or more players, but just a little too plain to get me too excited about it. There are decent scoring mechanisms here (it is Vlaada) and Dane and Ivory did really like determining questions for others and answering them. So, that's worth something for sure.

(7) PitchCar - Dane and I set up our track with all the expansions. It can be tough to travel on the second level so we created an option to stay low and have to deal with some curves and a short jump or go high and follow an easier track to drop back down to the first level. It worked great and was loads of fun. We played it the two of us and then Azalea joined us for a round. Dane won them all.


Also, a shot of Azalea and Dane playing "Apple Town" in our recently decorated dining room. Apple Town is a game Dane designed at school. They laughed and giggled and had a blast and got up and played again this morning. Awesome!
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Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures
Roborally


Wow, I guess it's been a low-gaming week! It doesn't feel that way because I've spent a bunch of time this weekend doing gaming-related stuff that wasn't actually playing games.

Monday night group has been intermittently playing the SHCD Jack the Ripper cases. It was really a mistake on my part to start with them; I would've preferred to start with a stand-alone, but I was afraid of going out of order because of the newspaper. Then after I had already committed and prepped Ripper case #1, I discovered a note somewhere in the game rules saying it was OK to not do the Ripper cases first. Oh well.

Last Monday we were on case #3, the murders of Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes on the same night. We adjourned the investigation at the suggestion of one of the detectives who didn't want to stay out super late but thought there was a lot more stuff we should investigate (which we all agreed with). So we'll be finishing that case tomorrow. We haven't exactly covered ourselves with glory in the first two cases, but our efforts continue.

On a completely other note, the geeklist link here is me being interviewed about Roborally (see item 18).
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14. Board Game: Nemo's War (second edition) [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:617]
Joshua Kuhlmann
United States
Huntington Beach
California
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Nothing this week, still in detox after TI4.

Not-hatereads-of-the-week:

This look at political games since 1887 is fascinating and is one of those interesting things that makes me happy about BGG's existence. Yeah there's a lot of roll-and-move, but there's also auctions, area control, card play, and some just outright weird stuff. There's a mix of games that are clearly just there to make fun of political opponents, simulations, and strategic games. Cool stuff.

This two-part session report/Nemo's War review/history of Victory Point Games is a bit effusive but really got me interested in exploring VPG's offerings. I suspect Nemo's War might be a little dice-heavy for me but they seem to have a lot of similar offerings in, for example, the State of Siege series.

I feel a certain draw to the whole solo gaming thing, even if I haven't tried anything that I've loved so far*. And a historical wargame-like seems ripe for solo play, as it's more focused on a sort of recreation of history than things like social and tactical interaction that I'm looking for from other sorts of games with other people. We'll see if Navajo Wars, State of Siege, or some other title ends up clearing the purchase threshold.

* Mainly it's been already-owned Eurogames, like Agricola or E:NWP.
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15. Board Game: Bali [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:4106]
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
United States
Folsom
CA
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Bali 2p x2.5

The gods of wall street take break
(messers bull and bear are tired)
to take a flight away out east
where one gets re-inspired

But soon they turn this sceptered isle
this tropical near-heaven
into a roiling trading pit
from zero to eleven

this rice is now worth thrice the price
i'm selling grain on loans
Buy Bali low, sell Bali high
they scream in fevered tones
--
Re-implementation of Rapa Nui, which I'd never tried. Played .5 of the game with the wrong rules- interestingly, MIL said it wasn't a game because she didn't groan over a bad decision. When we did, there were groans a-plenty. Very interesting little card driven game with a neat stock system. Am wary of trying the included expansions, to the point where I probably never will, as the simple tight package of the original is more than enough for me.

Kashgar 3p ww x1

A mule, a mule, my kingdom for a mule
I've got the gold and spice to spare
I'm suave and ultra-debonair
but lord I missed the golden rule
when trading, bring a mule.
--
This was amazing. It's become a family staple, and I feel like, as a result, we've all hit a higher level of play. Megan and I tried to hit the bauers, where as MIL picked up the quacksalber and adeliger and with the zigeuner pushing the patriarch to the back, churned the special deck. She also, powered by the quacksalber and pflanzerin, and the newly acquired cinnamon prince (she had two by the end) and schmied, tore up the contracts, especially making sure to steal any fields from me and Megan. I was donkey shy, Megan was gold shy, and in the end MIL took it by at least a turn. I'm really loving all the subtlety in this game. It also feels interesting, as it's an anti-engine game in that it's only 25 points- which comes up fairly quickly, and it also constantly throws inefficiencies in your way with the patriarch.

Beer Report
Calm Before the Storm x1
Coffee and vanilla? Yeah, I can taste it, and it's a rich, smooth drop of cream ale. Indeed, am excited to go back this weekend and kill the six pack.

Tropic Plunder IPA x1
Really, am just finishing off the six pack. It's not bad, it's not good, it's there, and it was cold. I wish I could taste the lychee more. Don't advertise a flavor if it's barely in there! It's like advertising Jackie Chan in Twins Effect.
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16. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
chearns
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Codenames Duet x3

Friday x9 - Have now beaten level five. I think I'll stick to levels one or three when playing, mind, as the other levels don't really add anything other than decreasing the odds that I win. And winning or losing are kind of besides the point of playing.

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