What Did You Play This Week? December 11-17, 2017
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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With the week behind us it's time to post your week's mini-session reports and stories to answer our favorite question:

mbmbWhat did you play this week? - Edition 451


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1. Board Game: Valley of the Kings [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:619] [Average Rating:7.13 Unranked]
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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Bill Kunes
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
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asked me to sub for him this week so I post this a bit earlier than usual since I am at least half a day ahead from most of you!

Wednesday

Just a soloplay while coming back from my trip to China.

Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game = 1 Play

I was up for a challenge so I used the Deathwing deck versus the Tyranids deck for a higher challenge. The Purple Red and Yellow teams managed to escape the Void Lock without a loss but brought a horde of Nids with them to the Teleportarium due to the event card which spawned a nid in front of every unengaged marine right after I had wiped out all swarms previously! Alas the entire squad did not get past the Teleportarium and they all died after a few rounds of desperate combat.


Dead dead dead…which is the usual outcome using the Deathwing.

Saturday

The busy Christmas season excluded the Celino brothers from our weekly gaming session but luckily Jim and later Pau were free.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) = 1 Play

I continue to spread my current passion for wargaming some more when I introduce this excellent title about tactical combat on the Eastern Front in WW2. Firefight 1 (Partisans) including the use of cards and variable action point generation is the usual setup for a teaching game with Jim choosing the Germans and me using the Soviets. Jim learned that his LMG teams can put out a lot of firepower and he managed to slowly whittle away at my troops with my only saving grace being that I managed to remain in control of the VP location throughout the game. It was looking grim as I was down to 2 rifle squads while Jim’s reinforcing Pioneer unit was making its way towards the VP objective and Jim’s 2 LMGs continually raining bullets on my squads. One of my squads got hit but drew a Berserk counter which not only increased its firepower and defence ratings but also made attacking use 1 less activation point. That squad proceeded to advance into the German firebase and eliminate an LMG and a German rifle squad before being finally killed. My last squad then managed to sneak behind the German Pioneer unit and got in a lucky shot which wiped it out in a single blow which gave me the win with a score of 9 to Jim’s 5.


A tense encounter where my Soviets should have lost if not for the Berserk damage counter on one of the last 2 Riflemen causing that squad to rampage and turn the tide in my favour!

Santorini = 3 Plays

It is surprising that Jim had not yet played one of this year’s best releases so I set out to remedy that. We proceeded to play 3 games with Pau just managing to join us for the 3rd game as he passed by to drop off his gifts to me and Jim.

Game 1: I won versus Jim using just the base rules without any Gods.


Game 2: My Athena really hampered Jim’s Athena in climbing up the buildings and I managed to win again.


Game 3: My Minotaur and Jim’s Prometheus were so focused on hindering each other so that Pau’s Hermes managed to isolate himself in a corner and sneak in a win!

Valley of the Kings = 1 Play (NEW)

Pau had to leave so Jim and I closed the night by trying out the first title in the Valley of the Kings family. I had always been intrigued by this game which is a deckbuilder which features a “crumbling” pyramid where you take new cards and also an “entombing” mechanic wherein cards are only worth VPs if you Entomb them underneath your tomb card. This is similar to Elysium in that you must balance the benefit of using the card’s actions or monetary value while it is still in your deck versus taking it out of the deck by entombing it for VPs. Starting cards and artifacts are worth straight VPs as printed on their cards but most other cards are in sets (ie statues, canoptic jars, etc.) with the total VP worth equal to the squared amount of unique cards in the set (ie 4 unique statues = 16 points). The nice thing with the cards are that many actions not only interact with you and the pyramid but may also interact with other players as well. I totally agree with Tom Vasel’s review that this is a small box game (same box size as Love Letter: Batman) which contains a lot of game for its size and I look forward to trying the other titles (I managed to get all 3 from the FLGS) and then mixing and matching the different sets in between games.


I manage to entomb bigger sets for the win! Me 66 Jim 45

Sunday

Enrique messaged me that he was free for some afternoon gaming and of course I obliged!

Combat Commander: Europe = 1 Play

This was the only WW2 tactical game I own that Enrique had not tried so I set up a teaching game using scenario 1 Fat Lipki. We actually played a few rounds before I realized that I had made a mistake concerning the range of my Soviet squads so we reset the game. That turned out to be good as Enrique had learned the basic mechanics with the aborted play so he much better prepared for the real play and things proceeded much faster.


Enrique’s Germans managed to grab 3 of the 5 objective locations early in the game and my leftmost forces attempt to get in close to evict the Germans from Objective 4 while my units on the center right try to form a firing line to shoot at the Germans in Objective 5.


My counterattack works as Melee wipes out Enrique’s squad and leader in the left (although I had to reduce I squad down to a half squad due to overstacking) and my Firing line in the center finishes off the German Leader causing Enrique to reach the surrender level of 5 units and I win! I also manage to advance some units off the board on the suddenly unopposed left flank and was about to rinse and repeat before the win. To add insult to injury my 2 eliminated squads were brought back to board flipped to their broken side due to Russian events!

Despite the loss Enrique ended up liking the game a lot so it seems that I now have a regular opponent for this game although the next time he requested that he play the side with more units which is no problem for me!

Century: Spice Road = 2 Plays

Enrique had not played this 2017 release yet and we manage to get in 2 quick games.


Game 1: Quality beats quantity as I win 64-59 despite having 4 VP cards to Enrique’s 6.


Game 2: A very close game with the both of us grabbing 6 cards each. I spent time to get 3 green cubes before ending the game though and those 3 points from those cubes were the reason I managed to defeat Enrique by a mere point 95-94!
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2. Board Game: Santa Maria [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:730]
Willem Verhoef
Netherlands
Weert
Limburg
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Greetings!

This is what I played last week:


Finished!
Mastering the normal game of Finished! Still really digging this solo game.


Space Cadets: Away Missions
I finished my 10x10 solo challenge for this game by playing two more scenarios on Monday. I'm pretty sure I'll play the next scenarios too, even without the challenge.


I had bought At the Gates of Loyang on Saturday, with a 40% discount. A quick solo play in the evening convinced me I'd made the right choice. Hope to play it with my girlfriend soon.

Wednesday

Scythe was the last game on my 10x10 solo challenge, I had a glorious victory so it wasn't anticlimactic at all.

Friday I played the beta version of the Evolution App.

It's still a bit buggy, but hope to play this online with friends soon.
After that I did a solo Grand Austria Hotel play. I love this game


On Sunday I played Best Treehouse Ever with my daughter. Such a lovely colorful game.

I also played another solo game of Santa Maria. One of the best of the year for me!


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3. Board Game: World's Fair 1893 [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:650]
Nick Shaw
United Kingdom
Plymouth
Devon
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Not a lot this week, due to crazy busyness with kids' xmas concerts, plays, carol services, you name it.

With the Kids

Roll For It! - A quick game with my 9-year-old whilst I was cooking dinner on Saturday. My 7-year-old came in half way through and ended up taking most of my turns after that. She did very well considering she'd not played before (not that it's that complex a game!). but my 9yo was rolling better and won that game. They had another game on their own after that, which my 7yo won by a landslide! She was super happy about that.




Solo

World's Fair 1893 - This was last night - a solo play using the solo variant on the game's forum. It's a quick and easy solo variant. And I suck at it, apparently - I lost 67 to 47! But such a lovely, simple, and beautiful game to play.



Nations: The Dice Game – Unrest - A solo playthrough on Tuesday evening. I played against the AI as per the rulebook, but added a twist suggested in a variant thread - scoring any tiles the AI takes. This gives you an opponent score to reach as well as the official points levels to attain. I lost to the AI 32 to 30 (30 is just scraping into the Victoria level, for info!). Decent variant on the solo variant!



Skyline 54 - Playtesting one of my designs I've entered into the 54 Card Design Contest 2018. This design uses a standard deck of cards (or my custom-made ones!); players are drafting cards into their hand, then building up a skyline using those cards. There are two intermediate scoring rounds mid-game, then a final scoring round at the end. My playtests so far have really been balancing the scoring, and seeing if any of the gameplay needs tweaking for the different player counts. I've also started working on a solo play mode too. Coming along nicely!





Online

Cacao - The Chocolatl expansion is now available to play with on yucata.de, so I started up 2 games, one 2-player and one 4-player. The 2-player one I lost, 88 to 72 - but was a great battle. The 4-player one, I managed a very respectable 2nd place, 64 to 60 to 57 to 55 (so very close across all 4 players!). The expansion's modules add a nice change in rules, though admittedly playing the 4 player one with ALL of the expansions turned on was perhaps a little TOO challenging.
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4. Board Game: Sol: Last Days of a Star [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:1766]
Evan
United States
Longwood
Florida
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Really good week of gaming for me and with the holidays coming up, I expect a lot more like this one in the next month or so. I had a bit of a competency issue this week. I played really poorly at most of the games I played and suffered the fates I deserved. I don’t know why I wasn’t up to snuff this week. Hopefully this coming week I turn things around.

Weekly Thursday Meetup – Games with Lawrence, Zack, & Eric



 N/A   The Voyages of Marco Polo NEW!

I can’t rate this game after my first play because to do so would be a disservice. My critiques of the game would almost assuredly originate from my bad play, not from any poor design decisions, but I will say this. I had the player power that allowed me to move two meeples, not just one. I’ve read a lot about this game in that you have to utilize your special power or else you probably won’t win, but I felt like mine was neutralized, again by my own poor play. I didn’t look closely at the board and assumed all the cities were interconnected. They aren’t. I ended up getting stuck in a city where it was cost prohibitive to advance ($15) and where backtracking would have been extremely costly. Meanwhile, another player was getting a free resource every time someone went to the bazaar, which allowed him to fulfill contract after contract and basically run away with the game despite barely moving. I appreciate that the game is balanced and that multiple different strategies can win. The player who won our play didn’t travel barely at all. The player who came in second did a mix of contracts and travel and came in a close second. I tried to travel almost exclusively, but I couldn’t generate enough money to make that a viable strategy. I was humbly defeated and my point total was almost doubled by the other two players. That was disheartening. I didn’t rate the game because I need to play it again. Otherwise, I would apply a lower rating than the game deserves due to my own poor play and how that made me feel when the game was over.



 6.9   San Juan NEW!

This was OK. I’d certainly play it again. But there are more rules than I would like in a simple card game and there are too many purple building powers to keep track of, which is a pet peeve of mine (we played with the expansion). I liked it, but frankly, I’d just rather play Puerto Rico.

 8.1   Majesty: For the Realm x2

Keeps hitting the table. Keeps being fun. A certain winner for my family. Up to five plays already and I’ve only owned it a couple of weeks. Isn’t feeling “samey” yet either.

 8.8   London (second edition)

No doubt, London is a great game. You need to know how the cards synergize with the boroughs to play well, but once you do, you can really do some magic. My buddy Lawrence destroyed my buddy Eric and I. He had 52, I had 30, Eric had -5. That’s right, -5. That’s how much poverty can affect you in this game. What I love about this game is that if you play well, you will be rewarded, if you don’t you will be penalized. It’s as simple as that. It’s a game that rewards multiple plays. I have enjoyed this every time it has hit the table despite the fact that I have yet to win a full game. My only “win” was a game we called with 10 cards left in the deck due to time constraints.

Saturday – Games with Mom, Lynn (Wife), & Don (Father in Law)



 7   Pi mal Pflaumen

This has become my wife’s favorite game to play with immediate family and company. I will say it’s growing on me as well. It’s a game that isn’t super intuitive at first, but is fun to play with a lot to think about for a modified trick taker. I came in last. Another miserable performance this week.

Sunday – Games with Josh and Kevin



 N/A   Sol: Last Days of a Star NEW!

Another game I can’t rate due to my poor play. To put things in perspective, the final scores of our three-player game were Josh 14, Kevin 12, Evan 5. THE SCORE TRACKER GOES TO 54!!! Now, Josh admitted that he set the game up incorrectly. We played the shorter game, but did not start with one station and one gate already on the board, which would have allowed us to do more things immediately, so we essentially had to play the long game strategically in the time it takes to play the short game, hence the lower scores. This really limited one’s ability to build an engine. Sol is an interesting game in which you have to explore the orbit around the sun with your ships. The goal is to get as close to the sun’s core as you can to transmit energy back to your base station in order to be the only civilization that survives the supernova (i.e. the one with the most VP). OK, so the theme is a bit weak, but in essence, it’s a 4X game minus the extermination. The twist here is that you HAVE to piggyback on the actions of your opponents. When one person builds a portal, you need to go through it. If you build an energy station, other people should be using it. When you use something another player has built, they get a side benefit, usually minor, and they get it from the supply, not your personal reserves, so there is little discouragement for piggybacking. Instead, what we found ourselves doing was trying to build our own unique infrastructure and ignoring what our opponents are building. The game expires too quickly for that. In essence, we played a long game using a short game clock and didn’t play the long game efficiently. No wonder we scored so poorly. We messed up, both with the rules and with the strategy. This is why I’m not rating the game. But what I did experience was super interesting and I’d really like to play this again with the knowledge I’ve gained from my first play. If you like games with high player interactivity, this game has it in spades.



 9.7   Great Western Trail

I finished off the week with a game of GWT, which Kevin wanted to play. This being my all-time #1 game, I am always down for a play of GWT. This was my first play of the game since mid-October. The way the buildings were randomized, the hiring station was right next to the cow market, which made it very difficult to do both actions on your trip to KC. You either went to the cows and spent all your money on cows with nothing left over to hire workers, or vice versa. Therefore, this was one of the lowest scoring games of GWT I have ever played as it was nearly impossible to synergize your actions together. We played with the A-side buildings, so most people built the building that allowed them to buy more cows, but where you put it was super important. I thought that putting it early in the trail after cashing in at KC was best, but doing so neutralized my advanced movement. Just bad planning/logistics all around and it was frustrating for all involved. It was also the first game of GWT I have ever played where nobody delivered to San Francisco, but only one of the three players even made it as far as Sacramento. This was a game I won with a score I can’t boast about: 72-55-46. I’m just glad that Josh had a good time with it. I could tell that he had his reservations going in, but he admitted that he had a much better time playing the game this time around. I don’t think his teach was all that good for his first time and with me having played the game 12x, I think I have the teach pretty well down by now so things made a bit more sense for him.

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5. Board Game: Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur [Average Rating:5.09 Overall Rank:14094]
Derek
United States
Greencastle
Indiana
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I was able to get in one play this week. My kids really wanted to play my old Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur game again.
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6. Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1823]
Phil Fenerty
United Kingdom
Southport
Unspecified
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Just one game this week, the social bluffing game of Kakerlakenpoker Royal. The Junior meomwts like to gang up on Dad, but somehow, this time, I didn't lose the game (Junior meomwt #1 tried to bluff a card he already had three of in front of him, failed, and lost that way). We did try and start a second game - which wasn't going my way - but were interrupted and never managed to complete it.
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7. Board Game: Zendo [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:706]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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NEW Zendo - We kicked off this week's meetup with three, 8 player rounds of Zendo. None of us had played before, so I started us off with an easy rule. It was guessed pretty easily, so we stepped up to a medium difficulty level. We played 2 of those, and they were definitely a bit more challenging. Some of us liked this better than others, but I really enjoyed it. I think there's a definite turn order advantage here, but the puzzle is fun enough that I don't think I'll care.
Rating: 7.5

Sol: Last Days of a Star - After Zendo, I played in a 4 player game of Sol. This time, I placed a tower on the outer ring as my vestigial structure, and then built an energy structure on the outer ring to sustain it. I also built gates all the way through to the inner orbit, but that was pretty much all I built. Otherwise, I used other players' structures, careful about who I gave the bonus to. It worked out pretty well, but not quite well enough. I came in second by a couple of points. I really like this game.
Rating: 7.5

NEW Mombasa - On Saturday, I played a 3 player game of Mombasa. This was my first time playing, but the rules are simple enough. I was locked out of buying cards during the first couple of rounds, and that hurt a bit, but I made up for it a little later. I mostly focused on moving up the Saint Louis track, and I did alright there. I fell behind on the Mombasa track but kept relatively even with the players on the other 2. I tried to make up for my weakness on Mombasa by buying stocks later in the game. It helped, but didn't quite make it up. I ended up tied for 2nd place with 110. The winner had 115.
Rating: 7

Circus Flohcati - After Mombasa, we played a quick game of Circus Flohcati. I liked the push-your-luck set collection in this one. Very quick and straightforward, but a lot of fun.
Rating: 7.5

Bärenpark - Next up, we played a 3 player game of Barenpark. I love polyomino games, and this is a good example. Setup is kind of a pain, but once you get going, it's very simple. I'm not crazy about the theme here, but I may end up having to pick it up at some point. It's a good one.
Rating: 7.5
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8. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Jon Enns
Canada
Herbert
Saskatchewan
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Monday

In the evening I played 2 solo games of Lanterns. I lost them both.

Tuesday

Melissa and I played a game of Crows.

Sunday

Melissa and I played a game of Patchwork.


We then played Stone Age with the Casino expansion.

6 games played this week, 1 was an expansion.
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9. Board Game: Helios [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1343]
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Centennial
Colorado
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I continued my solitaire Jump Drive play with half a dozen failed Science Campaigns. I'm coming to the conclusion that Science Victories are just too hard. I've landed them seldom.

We got out Summoner Wars for the third play of a matchup between Prp's Maldaria Titania and my Samuel's Celestial Ministers. In a hard-fought contest we both decked, but the game was clearly Maldaria's. She summoned three champs to my one (Colleen), and Samuel was all alone against multiple foes at the bitter end.



I got Helios out again for a two-player session. Prp activated the Priestess, Cartographer, and Prophetess. I activated the Inventor and Princess, and recruited but failed to activate the Architect. I got 30 points in sun orbits (5 + 5 + 10 + 10). We thought Prp had won by 1 point, and then I found another 5-point token in my bag! It was a new personal high score for each of us, and we're still liking this game very much.

I found a couple of "new" (to me) combinatorial games to play with my Looney Pyramids and a Volcano board. The first was Neutron, a game first published in Games & Puzzles magazine in 1978. I played twice with Prp, once as first player and once as second, but I won both.



The second game was King's Valley. Playing with pyramids, I've thought it might be called "Valley of the Kings" instead--not to be confused with the card game of the same name. Again, we played twice. In the first game Prp led. In the second, we not only changed lead player, but tried out the "Retrieve the King" variant with an alternate starting setup.



As long as we had the Volcano board out, we played a little three-game match of EinStein würfelt nicht!. I won the second and third games, dominating alarmingly in the third.

I also had a blast with a solitaire play of Runebound (Third Edition). My hero was Tatianna, in the Runebound (Third Edition): Caught in a Web – Scenario Pack as modified for solitaire play by Runebound (Third Edition): Unbreakable Bonds. I was just terrible at fighting the Avatars of Ariad, and got my ass handed to me repeatedly in the second act, never once defeating one of those menacing ladies. In the penultimate turn, I finally went after Queen Ariad, and she fled from Burrow Town to Forge. I healed immediately (from the Itinerant skill), but I had little hope of ultimate success. Then, on the last turn, I was able to win by killing La Jefa in a single round, with not a point of damage to spare! She had done 7 damage to my eight-health hero, too. In retrospect Tatianna's Crack Shot ability and her skills Sense Weakness and Inner Fire (plus the absolutely necessary prior success in the "One Good Turn" story quest) were just what were needed for this fight. Plus, I was lucky.



We ended the weekend with a lopsided play of Feudality. I was very lucky; Prp was not. She did a good job developing her fief, but production rolls and amorous intrigues favored me hugely throughout. At the end she made a Hail Mary play and went to war against the kingdom of Fiumaccio, but lost. The muster requirement for the ensuing general war was only 3, which I was (barely) able to fulfill, and we lost that one too. So she ended up 3 points down for the exercise, and I was unchanged at 16.
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10. Board Game: Wiz-War (eighth edition) [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:591]
Justin
United States
Kentucky
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The more I play this one, the more i enjoy it. I think it works best as a game between close friends. You can't take it serious. Most of the fun comes from seeing all the crazy stuff that happens. This game was 4 players.

In one turn someone rotated their board, created a wall blocking one opponent from his own home base, and threw a fireball at someone else.

I picked up both expansions last week. We used one of the decks from the Wiz-War: Malefic Curses expansion. We really liked the cards from the Chaos deck.

This is the best "beer and pretzels" game I've ever played.




We only keep playing this because of the Lord of the Rings theme. I need to find some other light dice filler games. I only play it if i have my custom dice tray I built.

Everyone at the table said that they only enjoy playing because they like to roll the dice in the tray and stack them up on the edges. One even said he would rather play Yahtzee. I say i like them about the same. Journey to Mordor might be a little quicker.
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11. Board Game: Brew Crafters [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:458]
Kirk Groeneweg
United States
Clear Lake
Iowa
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I'm still keeping up with the Advent Challenge of playing at least one game a day. Dusted off a couple this week because of it.


Monday started off with a quick game of Cribbage in which I barely escaped being skunked! My wife had at least 3 double/double's during the game, ouch! This losing streak would continue throughout the week...


On Tuesday, the daily challenge was to play my favorite game. I was so excited to play Brew Crafters that I set it up during my lunch break so it was ready to go when my wife was able to play after supper. Even with having the whole day to plan my strategy (that's what normal people do all day, right? Plan board game strategies), I think you know what's coming. I got off to a great start, I had plenty of resources to brew beer like crazy, my farm was pumping out fruit for the specialty ale I was making, life was grand. Then somewhere in the third year, I ran out of supplies. I just couldn't get what I needed from the market. Where did I go wrong? I lost a close one to my wife.


Wednesday's challenge was to enjoy your favorite holiday beverage while playing a game. I decided to have a beer and play D-Day Dice. I played 5 times, since the first 4 ended VERY quickly. The dice can be fickle, that's for sure. The last game, I made it all the way to the bunker (on Utah Beach) before losing. I had a good run. Great game that I really should play more.


Thursday was a great night. We went to see A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Musical at the local Community College. What a fun show. I just felt like a kid again. The daily challenge was to play a game I haven't played in 2017 so, Before we went, my wife and I played a game of Piñata. We havne't played this in about 2 1/2 years. Wow, that's been a long time. It usually ends up with her being mad at me by the end of the game, that's why it gets so dusty. I like this game. It's not nice to play on somebody else's side, it's not nice to have a couple won and just focus on other things while they sit there, but I still like it. I still lost.


Friday's challenge was to play the newest game in the collection. That's Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. My wife joined me for this play of it. Still trying to figure it all out and beat the opening scenario (just my second play of it tho). It's not easy to figure out how to get everything done to complete the mission and stay alive at the same time. I died trying to fight a gorilla, yeah... I won't be doing that again! My wife wasn't so sure about the game overall, just too much going on for her to really enjoy it.


Saturday's challenge was to play a game that uses pen and paper. I chose to play The d6 Shooters. It's a neat little PnP game about trying to get a prisoner to Reno. Kinda like the movie 3:10 to Yuma if you know that one. You roll dice kinda Yahtzee style and try to move along the road and survive getting attacked by the prisoner's gang. I have never won this game but try from time to time. I haven't played this one since summer of '15, so it needed some dusting off. Check it out, you just need to print the map, grab a pencil and some dice, and you are off.


Yesteday's challenge was to play a game you got for Christmas last year. The only one that is a good two player is Seeland. My wife and I played twice (again, I lost both badly!). The first game we played the base version, for the second one, we threw in the governors. That made for an interesting twist, although I only got one governor during the game and that was towards the end, so I never got to collect on it. This is a neat game. I like that options when purchasing mills/seeds from the market. It's the... take the first for free or pay an increasing amount for those farther away.

Well, last week of the Advent Challenge with week, I hope I can keep it up!

Have a great week everyone!
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12. Board Game: Sword & Sorcery [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:536]
Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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A busy week translates to little gaming.

Tuesday
Cubeox4 -- new to me
Sword & Sorcery x1

Four plays of Cubeo, which basically is a simpler version of Hive, using dice and only the Ant ability. Easy, quick and works pretty well. But I'm as good on it as I'm on Hive: losing 3 and won 1.




Another debut of the night was of Sword & Sorcery, which is a cooperative game that uses many of the rules, with some tweaks, that are present in Galaxy Defenders. There is so much crossover that learning to play was quite easy. Marcelo, the owner, commented that the main critic regarding the game is that it leans to the easy side. Thus we played with the hard rules, and maybe this won't be the way to go, as three of the four heroes were down - although the last one completed the goal and won the scenario, in these conditions is more of a loss, since we don't even have enough to pay to revive the fallen heroes. We need to think more about the difficulty of the game, as there is the whole campaing ahead of us. For now, the game seems very good - has some interesting story elements, the heroes are neat and varied, with unique powers deck. The perspective is quite nice.


There were some other plays, but all solo, and there isn't all that much to say about them.

Regards,
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13. Board Game: Yokohama [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:104]
Joe H
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Gaming Group

Wendy and I began by teaching Sharon and Olivia Yokohama. It was an odd game as the end game appeared quicker than expected. I was setting up for a longer game and had to scramble a bit to adjust to the shorter game. The trading post I put on the Employment Agency early didn't really pay off as players focused on getting resources than building up their force of assistants or trading posts. Sharon got out to an early lead while Wendy was fine lagging far behind before she made a big push. Wendy focused on technology and contracts. Sharon focused on contracts but also got involved in the Church and Customs boards. Olivia also went for lots of brick and later got involved in the Customs house. She was a bit hobbled early as she invested lots of assistants on a brickyard and didn't have many assistants to place. I focused on 5 power actions and placing shops. This gave me the imports to take a dominant position on the Customs Board which I later solidified and then finish up the game by taking the lead in the Church. In the end, several strong plays by Wendy vaulted her into second place over Sharon while I was able to hold onto my lead. It was the lowest scoring game I've yet to play.



Next, Sharon and I taught Wendy and Olivia the mind-melting Stroop. Sharon narrowly took the first game over Olivia while I narrowly took the second game over Olivia.


Gaming with My Wife

On Monday Sharon and I played one of her favourite abstracts, Ingenious. I played this game very differently than I normally do. Instead of just looking for point scoring opportunities for me I looked to close out opportunities for her and plant the seeds for future opportunities for me. With that, I won 11-9.



On Tuesday Sharon and I played Case 6 from Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases, The Mummy's Curse. This game was definitely proof that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" as our discussion and debate led us to most of the right conclusions. With the bonus points, we fell just shy of 100. This may have been the most enjoyable case since the first case, it certainly was its best. I still have a problem with the "leaps" Sherlock takes to reach his conclusions.



On Wednesday Sharon wanted to play 7 Wonders Duel. Although I built the first Wonder, Sharon quickly raced to 4. I held off a bit as I wanted to use the Mausoleum to grab a duplicate science symbol and wanted to wait until I had the one in hand that matched something in the discard. With that pair of science symbols I chose the "Strategy" token and worked hard to take advantage of my Colossus to get a boost on the military track that I pushed further with military cards I took. This was a big swing since Sharon had an early push on military. In the end, I finished off a military victory about 2/3 of the way through the final age.



Later on Wednesday we played Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft. Sharon pushed on maps while I had a pretty diverse tableau. With my last turn I used Irene Adler to give me the advantage on the 8th clue. Unfortunately for me, she had a couple in her pile of hidden clues and took that clue but, at least I had minimized the damage. The surer play would have been to get the absolute majority in the 3rd clue. With that we ended the game tied at 18 points, with me taking the game on investigation tokens.



On Saturday it was snowing and Sharon and I pulled out Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. It was a butt kicking of the worst kind as I found myself completely boxed out of all my routes. She wasn’t being mean but she and I were, I guess, competing for the same spots and she totally beat me to it. This is the most lopsided this game has ever been for us. At least we could laugh about it.



Solo Gaming

On Thursday I played a game of Pandemic Iberia using the Agronomist and the Politician. The black diseases started out overloaded. I was lucky to have black cards in hand to put out that fire and keep the characters close to pass cards. I built a nice rail system up the center and across the top that allowed the Politician to position himself to pull cards from the discard pile and the Agronomist to quickly get to places to to drop purification tokens. I won the game with 3 outbreaks and 8 cards left in the player deck.



On Friday I played a quick game of the Onirim (second edition) app. This time I was successful, discovering the 8th door with just 4 cards left in the player deck, two of which were nightmares.

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14. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Estrella Drive [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Keith Rudolph
Canada
Langdon
Alberta
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The Estrella Drive module for T.I.M.E Stories arrived earlier this week and we got our first play of it in on Wednesday evening. This continues the proud tradition of bad translations and lack of proof-reading that T.I.M.E Stories modules have experienced since day 1. This contains such literary gems as "got got" and "light spills forth dimming the darkness". By the time we entered our fifth location, we had already found some 15-20 of these issues. Sadly, that continued to be the case throughout the entire module. The whole thing is incredibly jarring as a native English speaker and really pulls you out of the experience. We're constantly having to go back and re-read sections of a sentence as it feels like we've somehow skipped a line but did not actually do so. Seriously guys, hire a damn proof reader whose first language is English; they'll catch stupid mistakes like this! We had time for another run but neither of us really felt like slogging our way through it again right away.

We started our second run on Saturday and reached a natural break point when we both decided that we just didn't have the drive to keep going with it at that time.

We finally worked up the nerve to push on again on Sunday afternoon. By this point we were completely disappointed with the game and decided to just ignore all of the idiotic time sinks they scattered throughout the cards to force you to re-play the module over and over again. A story game like this needs an interesting story, interesting setting, interesting gameplay, and interesting puzzles to keep it, well, interesting. Sadly, this module was completely devoid of every single one of those. We just wanted the damn thing over with. We finished it and were thrilled we could stop playing. The story had absolutely nothing interesting to it and we were just pushing through for the sake of getting the damn game done, not because it was something we wanted to know more about. The "mature" setting is simply there because they seemingly want to tantalize people into buying it and I guess keeping their sales going when in reality, the setting is a joke and poorly realized. It honestly would have been better as anything else that was half-decently written instead of trying to write this setting as poorly as they did. There is nothing of interest gameplay wise and they simply introduce time sinks for the sake of artificially extending the game to keep their Groundhog Day effect going which has become incredibly old and tiring at this point. This is the 7th module - give us something new and exciting. And this time there are literally zero puzzles which is a big step down from "1 crappy puzzle" we've gotten used to seeing in previous modules. This completely killed off any remaining enjoyment we had for T.I.M.E Stories; we're done with the whole damn system. We listed it for sale on a local group and were able to find a buyer a little later that day.

We brought Veggie Garden out for another play that evening and got to try out some of the expansion vegetables (that sounds a little weird). It was a pretty close game but my wife managed to beat me by a narrow 2 points as she had a single potato that pushed her ahead of me. Still a weird but fun little card action selection game.

We got Noxford as one of the games from the Dice Tower Cruise and decided to give that a quick try as we were looking for something short. After quickly reading through the rules, we were both left thinking this was going to be pretty awful. We were both rather surprised by how the game played once we started to wrap our heads around what was going on in this area control game. There's actually some pretty neat board manipulation going on at times that can really change things around, and being able to replace an opponent's gang member with your own or suddenly drop a barracks next to them to make them not count during scoring can suddenly change who's going to be earning points. While it's not a very long or deep game, it's a fun little area control game that you can knock out in about 20 minutes.

Azul was our last game of the evening. This one was pretty close for the entire game and we ended up with tied scores by the end of final scoring. I managed to win this one on the tie breaker as I had 2 complete rows to her 1.
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15. Board Game: Massive Darkness [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:629] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
James Valadez
United States
El Paso
Texas
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SATURDAY



We played the second quest of the Crystal and Lava expansion with four players. It was our first time playing with the lava. We are enjoying the expansion and the game overall.
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16. Board Game: Clank! In! Space! [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:229]
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
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Crossfire

Failed somewhat for the group through the first three plays, but we vastly didn't pick up on the meta of it so we'll give this another try. Not sure what potential this has. Feels like a 6.

Ethnos

Another play for one of the better 2017 games, and I'm not sure I was expecting that considering its weight. Merfolk feel like something only to use late for the extra placement of tokens versus really going out and getting points from it. If you can win all of the highest amounts for the 7 points it might feel useful, but one player ignored them and rolled to victory. I was first on the track and looking at last place after the second age. I ignored the track for the final age and came in second. Outside of orcs, it nearly feels best to just horde cards and pull off large bands. Even better if you use elves. That's what the winner did and he lapped the board twice.

Clank in Space

The problem of being your group's pied piper is you show them a game, they like it, you order the new base game version, and before your copy comes in due to a preorder, two other people have it and the new person in your group has a copy coming at Christmas.

I like this although that's not a surprise. The board is more compact so movement is more important but that is countered by various ways to help with it. Scores were also high. I pulled off second despite feeling like I was continually screwed with the market row. It was either the person before me getting the card I wanted, or the card showed up after I had just gone. I wasn't able to combo any type of faction card until one of my last turns. I did start strong but got the last artifact for 15. I buried everybody else in space bucks which saved me.
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17. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:906]
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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It was a great week of gaming. So let's start by listing off what I played, then I will try to give some thoughts on the games as we go.

Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn x1
Queendomino x1
Nusfjord x1
The Palace of Mad King Ludwig x1
Planet Defenders x1
Shahrazad x1
Chimera & More x1
Glen More x1
Memoarrr! x1
Majesty: For the Realm x2
Azul x3
NMBR 9 x3
Pit x1

Whew, that's a workout just listing them.

Of those, I imaging that people are most interesting in knowing a bit about The Palace of Mad King Ludwig & Nusfjord or possibly Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn.

All three of these were played with 2 players this week and two of the three felt very much like 2 player solitaire. But let's get to the good one first.

The Palace of Mad King Ludwig- This really surprised me. I had read a couple reviews about the game and I worried a bit about the fiddliness and the mess that is the game, but it worked beautifully with 2 players. This one takes the best part of Carcassonne(the physical building of the map) and adds a bit of that Mad King flair to it. Gone is the auction track that was a favorite and in it's place is a competitive game where you will be building a singular palace. Swans are the currency here and you earn them by matching doorways of the same color, some things on the buy row of tiles will cost you 1 or 2 swans to buy, which isn't much, but like Castles of Mad King Ludwig & Suburbia you will be shooting for collecting things to complete goals, AND swans are worth points at the end of the game based on how many different ones you have. I've failed to mention the best part though, the MOAT. So the moat kicks in after 1 pile of the 5 piles of tiles has been diminished. Players from then on will have to place 1, 2 or 3 moat tiles around the outside of the palace, closing it off. The game ends when this moat encloses the palace and then you score personal goals and many, many other things.



Oh, my, what next. Let's jump into Nusfjord, which I was looking forward to playing quite a bit, which may have led to my disappointment. Maybe this is a two player thing, maybe it isn't, I didn't even bother to check the other sides of the board, but there is zero tension in this one, at all, and it is light light light light. Even with spots limited in 2 player there was always something you could do that would help you, and it all seemed equally helpful, it just felt like you were picking based on what your opponent chose. Oh, they went there, guess I'll just go here. I really want to know what's happened to the punishing Uwe, I would love for him to make another appearance.



Lastly we'll mention Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn. Caveat, this was my first complete play and we played at 2 player, but there was so much map space it never behooved us to interact in any way whatsoever, neither friendly or adversarial. The game is a race anyway, be the first person to hit 3 different goals, but add in a big map and make it difficult to cross terrain and you have your beginnings of a two player game taking place on two different halves of the map. I think this one is going to be really good at 4, and I'm interested in playing it more at 2 and 3 player, but man, a non adversarial Civ game is just not what Civ games are about for me.





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18. Board Game: Near and Far [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:148] [Average Rating:8.05 Unranked]
Evan Dunn
United States
New York
New York
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This week was...

Near and Far - 3rd play

Third time restarting the campaign to accommodate new players. Will I ever see map 2? Only time will tell...

Still very much enjoying the game though. I thought I had this one in the bag as I emptied my land of cards way ahead of any other player. Unfortunately, I wasn't aggressive enough picking up trade routes and that cost me the win.

Oh My Goods! - 8th play



First time playing the campaign mode 2 player. I liked it a lot better than single player mode. The campaign goals were alarmingly achievable, which wound up hurting me in scoring as I had over focused on making sure I had enough food to meet the criteria. My opponent had built normal things, and so had a better money engine, and was able to meet the food goals quite easily. Excited for more, and to finally see where the plot(?) goes.

Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters - 1st and 2nd plays



This game is like a cross between Pandemic and a Dungeon Crawler, that has a rules set that my 4 year olds can handle. It's a blast for them, and for the first time with a kid's game, I'm actually having fun playing it too. I'm excited for more. I just ordered the expansion from the geekmarket for the future.
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19. Board Game: Legendary: Captain America 75th Anniversary [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Amy Bills
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Wednesday

OctoDice
It took me awhile to fully grasp the rules since I tried this for the first time after a tiring day at work. I bought it for the cuteness and to help with my Dicember challenge. Not that I really needed an excuse to buy myself a new game!

Thursday
Played Legendary with the Captain America expansion with two co-workers at lunch. Unfortunately we lost just as our lunch hour was up. It would have helped if we had ready the Mastermind's card completely before we started so we understood how to beat him! Oh well, we'll give it another try this week.

Pencil Park
A quick solo game of this PNP for the Dicember challenge.

FUSE
Ended my night with two games, both losses.


Saturday
Viticulture Essential Edition
I played a three solo games to learn the game. The first game was truly a learning game as I lost badly. Rereading the rules and watching a few videos, I discovered I was playing wrong. The second attempt was smoother but I still lost. I squeaked out a win in the Winter of year 7! I just acquired it this week along with the Tuscany and Moors expansions. I'm looking forward to adding in the expansions soon.

Catan Dice Game
One quick solo game to help with the Dicember challenge.

Sunday
I ended the week with my first play of Clank! In! Space!, a gift from my very generous BGG Secret Santa! My friend and I had loads of fun and look forward to playing it more often.

After dinner, we continued on our way through Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 with our first play of the month of September. We were able to win fairly easily but I have an ominous feeling of what's still to come! Hopefully we'll finish this off before year end since my friend asked for Season 2 for Christmas.

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20. Board Game: Wendake [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:1338]
Thomas Leitner
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Hello all. I played only three games this week, but two were new which I always nice. The first was Wendake.

Wendake is a new (Essen)release from Placentia games...a small Italian publisher. Players each play as a native North American tribe during roughly the period of the French and Indian war of the mid 18th century.

Each player has a personal action board with nine action tiles. Every round, three of the tiles are used, then one is discarded in exchange for an upgraded tile.

There’s quite a bit more going on, but that’s the crux of the game and it makes for some very interesting decisions. I liked it it quite a bit.

Next up was



a game about which I had decidedly different feelings.

I bought the game directly from DLP because the game is the spiritual successor to Orleans, and I like that game a lot. So, impatient as I am, I wanted a copy and certainly overpaid for it.

I was pretty disappointed. I found the game very dull and lifeless. It’s a solitary experience, and not a terribly compelling one at that.

It has some nice ideas, built upon ones from Orleans. But there is absolutely no sense of urgency to get things done as players can do zero to affect one another.

I’ll give it another shot, but have low expectations that my opinion will change.

Finally, another game of



I just love Gaia Project and want to work my way through the races. I’m finding the learning curve a bit steeper than Terra Mystica, though, and I’m not entirely sure why.

That’s it. Until next time...
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21. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:9.00 Overall Rank:1]
Kent Pritchett
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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This week my son and I continued our campaign of Gloomhaven. We raided an encampment and explored some more crypts. Not to help the town clear the surrounding undead but to pillage for riches.

My parents are in town for the holidays so always get in a few games with them. We played several games of Seven Dragons, and a game of Alhambra, Citadels, Love Letter. Have to build them up to meatier games.


We played several games of Ticket to Ride Europe, and my wife joined us for a game.


I had a solo play of XIA, continuing on with my campaign. I drew lightning victory and managed to win in a very quick game. This one seems almost impossible to win at the start but after playing about 12 campaign games and having all those perks to shoot around quickly it isn't so hard. Not one you want to draw at the start of the campaign.

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22. Board Game: Pandemic: The Cure [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:259]
Scott Daniel
United States
San Diego
California
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Solo Games

Pandemic: The Cure

Played 4 characters and pulled out a victory when the Scientist cured diseases in a single turn while sitting at seven outbreaks.


Online Games

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - Won a 3p game by hitting the Chitzen Wheel really hard. I was the only player using that wheel as they were pursuing monument strategies.
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23. Board Game: Railways of the Western U.S. [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
Alex Drazen
United States
Massachusetts
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Just one day of board gaming, but packed in two old favorites, plus a couple fillers.



Taught Splendor to Mrs. Drazen. I thought she was not getting it when I was up 8-1, but then I barely hung on for a 16-13 win, and that was only from getting a noble on my final turn!

Since I was doing these games in celebration of my birthday, my all-time favorite game, Power Grid, was a must. We chose France and eliminated the central eastern region, making a tough map with a crescent moon type shape. This was a wild game, with plants in the 30's in the market in Round 2, 3, and 4. The black player snagged the #31 in Round 3 and the #35 (!!) in Round 4. I managed to walk away with the #32 and later the #25. Two critical moments let me walk away with victory, despite Black's huge capacity advantage: one, I set up to build first in Step 2, and built a wall of cities that meant Black could either expand down south or pay a fortune to jump over me. As Black was a clear threat, others also expanded to slow him down specifically. So, despite three of us being in the north, I was quietly saving money. Secondly, when the #21 came up, I recognized that it was going to be the LAST quality plant until Step 3, and I bid on it, giving myself 15 capacity to Black's 13. Black was betting on seeing a Step 3 plant market, but everything broke exactly right: Step 3 broke after the final auction, giving me a super-easy path to 15 cities and the win. Mrs. Drazen played in this game as well but was never really a factor, boxing herself in a corner and not getting her capacity up quickly enough. We also had a guy in his second game ever, but this time he was a distant 4th. His comment was "Aw, man, both times I've played this, I thought I was doing pretty well, but then the game suddenly ended!"

When it was time for pizza and cake, out came King of Tokyo for a six player game. The second player got Parasitic Tentacles, half the cards on the board, and cruised to a 21 VP win while the last two of us standing were licking our wounds -- though we did both get to 18 VP ourselves. I had too many blown turns, otherwise I'd have made 20 VP first.

And last, but as the list manager might say, definitely not least, was a game of Railways of the Western U.S., in which I thoroughly schooled the entire table. I picked up three of the four starting bounties (everything but the Promentory one), three bonus routes (Tacoma-LA, San Fran-Promentory, and Sacramento-Ogden), a first-turn city bounty, and by the late mid-game had pulled out to a 20 VP+ lead. Western map seems to be like Eastern -- play on the coast, it's cheaper and easier to expand rapidly there. Of course, my income track was something like $7,000 after turn one and $12,000 after turn two, while everyone else was back around the $4,000 mark. Black tried to contest me, while Blue and Green played inland trying to set up for a long game of their own, but with the longer distances, it was too slow for them. Oh, and I did all of this on a mere three bonds (two on the first turn, one to get my 4 train for that bounty). The final score was 96-53-48-31, though the final three turns were a huge part of my score: shipping cubes for 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, a route for 5, and a train upgrade to get my baron (best train) for 6. 50 VP over the final three turns, while everyone else scuffled to find 20 apiece. I did make one dumb mistake in paying $8,000 for First Player to get a Coal Fueled Engines card that later only gave me $7,000. Duh.


It was for my birthday (which is today, actually), so I was supposed to do well anyway


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24. Board Game: Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star [Average Rating:8.90 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.90 Unranked]
Justin Wawrzonek
United States
Amsterdam
New York
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 8.0   Xia: Legends of a Drift System

Almost no games this week, but I did manage to give the solo mode of Xia out. I was very impressed with how well it worked. The NPC's are very difficult to stay ahead of, and require alot of creative maneuvering. Next time around I will add in the campaign mode and give that a try. Definitely one of my favorite solo games.


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25. Board Game: Deus [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:301]
Darryl with one "R"
United States
Redmond
Washington
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I've had my eye on Deus for a couple of years. It's designed by Sebastian Dujarin, who co-designed Troyes, one of my favorite games. Several reviews made the game look interesting to me. And my GeekBuddies rated the game 8.2 on average -- well above the BGG average of 7.4 -- and only 1 GeekBuddy (of 11 raters) rated Deus less than 8. All of these made me quite confident that I'd like the game.

But I never bought it. There was always another game I wanted more. Finally I acquired it in the most recent US math trade.

I'm glad I did. No surprise; both my wife & I liked it. It fits nicely in the group of games that my wife & I enjoy playing, we can play in an hour or less (and we're usually pretty slow players), and which have enough meat that we feel satisfied once we've finished playing. There aren't a lot of those games for us, so we're always happy to find a new one.

My wife won the game we played, 50-43. She had a nice civic building engine that provided both coins and VP for grain areas she occupied, so she utilized that multiple times. I did better on the temple scoring at the end of the game, but it wasn't enough to catch her.
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