GCL Amoeba 354 - The Great Escape (2017-12-18)
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

Visitors are welcome and encouraged to post constructive comments, but please leave posting new items to the members. We're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) For more info on GCL and the Amoebas, please use the links above.

Current hosts:
Jason (Bond8089) mb
Eric (Eric Brosius)
Garry (garry_rice)
Jimmy (Butterfly0038)
Larry (larryjrice)
Jeroen (jmdsplotter)
Scott (qzhdad)
Rebecca (CoffeeRunner)
Chris (Venser)
Joshua (Joshuaaaaaa)
Carlos (Sprocket314)
Mikko (msaari)
Doug (Phrim)


mb This week we're talking about escape rooms and escape room-themed board games! mb
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1. Board Game: Escape Room: The Game [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:780] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Have you participated in any real-life escape rooms? Give some thoughts on your experiences.
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2. Board Game: Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:586]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Have you played any of the escape room-themed board games, such as Exit or Unlock? What are your thoughts on these games?
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3. Board Game: Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:3491]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Like them or not, the popularity of escape room-like experiences has skyrocketed over the past couple of years. What sort of feelings do these games evoke that draw people in?
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4. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland - 1 play of this with Caleb on the iPad (along with 2 AI). Not one of our favorite maps. The additional scoring mechanism just isn't all that practical with many of the tickets and at least for me doesn't differentiate it enough from regular Ticket to Ride. Both Caleb and I would much rather play other maps. I suspect we won't be back to this one for a long time

Race for the Galaxy - A couple more plays of this on the iPad. I'm faring better lately against Scott I like to think I'm playing better, but it might be him trying out different strategies Squeaked by with a 1 point win the last game as I took the 4 dev goal back from Scott on the last turn for the necessary swing in points. I've purchased the third expansion they just added...it'll be interesting learning to play (or not) with prestige. I've never played with it before.


ACQUISITIONS:

Gloomhaven - Just received my copy of this monster in the mail the other day. I suspect I'll be working my way through the solo scenarios to try and get a feel for the game or perhaps starting a campaign with my friend Chris after we're done with Pandemic Legacy 2...we'll see

Black Sonata - Finished off my pnp copy of this one that I enjoyed when I played a copy I was giving away as a gift a few weeks ago. It's a clever little solitaire deduction game. Picture below (not my copy, although it looks very similar ).

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5. Board Game: Mein Schatz [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:10017]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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 10   Outpost -- I had just been thinking that I should get another game of Outpost in soon (I hadn't played it since September) when Joe Huber suggested it to start off our Monday evening session. There were four of us, so there were three of each kind of upgrade. I was the one to get the big start this time: both a Water Factory and a person on the first turn. This does not guarantee a win, as I know from past experience (on both sides of the situation.) I took the opportunity to buy all three Data Libraries and was somewhat disappointed when no Scientists or Laboratory came up in the first turn of Era II. I made some mistakes and Joe Huber's Titanium strategy won handily. I did also get all three Laboratories, though...

 10   1846: The Race for the Midwest -- We moved right on to a 3-player game of yet another favorite. It was my 28th play for 2017, which is more than I've gotten in any other year except 2011, which I played it 39 times. (In 2010 I played once for every book in the New Testament, and in 2011 I played once for every book in the Old Testament...) Joe Rushanan was due in about 70 minutes, so even with 3 players we had a challenge on our hands. Joe Huber spent a bundle on privates, as he often does without adverse consequences, and his B&O was a top earner for some time even without the Steamboat. It was close, but Joe won, with Michael 2nd and me last. It took us 80 minutes, but Joe R was still not home yet when we finished.

 8   For Sale -- To fill in the time until Joe R arrived, we played a quick and close game of this favorite filler. Joe H won yet again -- his third win of the evening.

 7   Mein Schatz NEW! -- Next Joe taught us this adorable push your luck game. It reminds me of It's Mine!, except that it's turn-based, and of Ra, except that there's no bidding. I'd be happy to play it again.

 7   The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game NEW! -- We swapped Joes at this point, with Huber leaving and Rushanan arriving. A few others left, so we played this with 4. I'm a big non-fan of the board game, but this was at least shorter. And as it turned out, I liked it reasonably well. I found the board in the board game non-intuitive and distracting to think about. Maybe the way I feel about these two games is similar to the way some people prefer Stimmt So to Alhambra.

 7   1835 -- And finally, I started a play-by-forum game of this using the RAILS application with a group from the Gelato Geek Chat League. We're off to a slow start as we gain familiarity with the software and the process, but I'm sure we'll pick up speed.
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6. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.70 Overall Rank:13]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 9   Gaia Project x2 NEW!

Enjoying this one after two initial plays on Sunday. Our first game was marred with a few rules errors when we weren't paying attention to what others were doing because we were so focused on doing our own thing! It is definitely a sequel to TM but feels like an improvement to me. I like the use of the "cult" track and how it influences the game much more and doesn't feel pasted on here. There is some iconology to work through and a few changes to the system but players of TM will have quite a few of the basics already cemented in place.

 8   Gloomhaven

I did retire my third character in this one and am starting play with my fourth character tonight which I will likely look to keep for a while and develop. I'm tired of running through my characters quickly at this point and we only have a couple more characters left to unlock.

 8   Mechs vs. Minions

This was just the tutorial to give a couple people understanding of the basic game. It is quite simple and I debated not including it in my list of plays.

 7   Capital NEW!

This Polish tile laying game I found interesting and am curious to give it another play or two. Uncertain if it has legs, but favorable first impressions at this point. You are building a 3x4 grid (or vice versa) and working with various scoring and income mechanics based upon how you place the different types of tiles. Since it covers an era spanning over both World Wars, there is also an interesting (if somewhat annoying) mechanic where after the third epoch everyone loses a tile and then after the fourth epoch everyone loses two tiles. You can overbuild (if you destroy an overbuild, you destroy the entire stack and it counts as one tile). Overbuilding allows for discounts in payment for later epoch tiles which are more expensive.

 7   Harvest Island NEW!

This was pleasant enough on first play outside of some confusing iconology on the fruits/animals tokens that were hard to sometimes match up for trophies. There is some hand and plateau management and floods and dry spells must be managed.

 7   Qwinto

Always a solid filler.

 7   Witch's Brew

Taught a few people this one. I still find it quite fun even if the theme isn't my favorite.

 6   7 Wonders

Feels like forever since I last played. We played with all but cities (and I like cities). Played as Rome which didn't work out so well.

 6   Meeple Circus NEW!

Outside of the stupid antics required in the final round, this was an enjoyable romp of dexterity that shouldn't be taken too seriously. Box was way larger than necessary - glad they packed all that air!

 6   Monstrous NEW!

Silly fun. Reminds me of FlowerFall with a mythology theme and some special card effects.

 4   Sakura Hunt NEW!

Not my cup of tea/sake. There are some holes in this one although I like the concept.

ACQUISITIONS:

Kaivai - Reacquired this one at FleaCon due to low price even though the box size of the first edition is ridiculous!
Ethnos - Acquired in trade from FleaCon MT
Harvest Island - Was curious so I picked this one up at FleaCon
Dark Souls: The Board Game - Acquired in trade for Godfather via FleaCon MT.
Turn the Tide - Acquired the earlier German edition with chickens at FleaCon
Doodle Quest - Acquired at FleaCon for silly fun
Evo - Re-Acquired via FleaCon MT
Clans - Re-Acquired via FleaCon
Capital - Acquired via FleaCon

I still came out $300 ahead from selling a number of games and have less overall. I intentionally did not take any money with me so I would only spend money received in sale of games at FleaCon.
Also picked up a playmat and the Cursed Loot promo for Colt Express
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7. Board Game: Reworld [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:3609]
Rebecca Carpenter
United States
Seattle
Washington
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 8   Azul x2 NEW!
What fun! My friend James described the 2P game as a brass knuckles fist fight, which is high praise in my circle. 3P was good too, will have to play more to decide on the best count.

 8   Reworld NEW! My husband and I loved it, and I expect we'll play it many times again. The drafting of tiles with cards is really neat, and felt competitive at 2P, but I imagine is much tighter at higher player counts. Lots of similarities to Heaven & Ale, such as new tiles on the top of the round and a race for bonuses.

 6.8   Rajas of the Ganges It's fun, fast, and easy to learn. However, it's also not very compelling.

 3   878: Vikings – Invasions of England NEW! The movement of dudes on the map is enjoyable, however the massive amount of randomness was incredibly frustrating. There's dice, they're okay, but the multiple decks with limited hand sized was torture! My opponent kept drawing events, and I couldn't get a single one until the last round. Uggh.

 N/A   Reef Encounter NEW! Wasn't a hit with James and Theron. It's definitely a good game, but James wondered if it was fun, suspected not.




Ashton helped me decorate our gingerbread house.
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8. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:114]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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 N/A   Race for the Galaxy x2 NEW!
After playing this game I see no reason to play London or Terraforming Mars ever again. Obviously I need more plays to make a proper assessment, but there's more player interaction compared to London, and it's a streamlined version of Terraforming Mars. My only gripe right now is it seems like you just get an engine started and it's over. It'd be nice to have a turn or two to push it further.

 3   World's Fair 1893
We saw this on the shelf and decided to play it once. It's not a game I'd turn down, but the random nature of the cards can really affect the outcome of the game.

 8   Age of Steam
Paris map, three players. We've never played this map before, but I like it. The map is really tight and track placement denial is so much fun. The restriction of the engineer (only he can build on certain hexes) makes for brutal auctions. The only rule I don't like is that players can't go bankrupt. I really need to play this more often (this or any other map).

 N/A   Othello NEW!
While on vacation someone was playing this while I was grabbing some beers so I asked for a quick game. He was just passing time and didn't realize taking over corners and working outwards was dominant.

 N/A   Checkers x26 NEW!
It was raining pretty hard in Jamaica on Wednesday so the lifeguards were playing Jamaican checkers under the canopy. You must jump if possible (forward or backwards), kings can jump immediately in the same turn as they're promoted, and they play with super kings; kind of like bishops in chess but after you jump a piece you can go to any square remaining after the jump. We played a number of quick tournaments because games don't last long with super king rules. I'm not a fan of checkers as there are infinitely better abstract games out there, but location, setting, and playing with these people made this an exception.
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9. Board Game: Bambuti [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:8808]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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 N/A   Titus NEW!
 N/A   Loopino NEW!
 N/A   Last Minute NEW!
 N/A   Lao Pengh NEW!
 N/A   Gene Pool NEW!
 N/A   Elementals NEW!
 N/A   Bayon NEW!
 N/A   Bambuti NEW!

Hanson is home for Christmas break and helped me try some unplayed games. I want to try Bambuti and, maybe, Titus again. We need to try Lao Pengh with the right rules and Hanson liked Loopino. The rest are on my trade pile!
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10. Board Game: Champions of Midgard [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:118]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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1 x _8_10 Days in Europe
1 x _8_Takenoko
3 x _7_Century: Spice Road (new!)
2 x _6_Space Alert (new!)
1 x _6_Champions of Midgard (new!)

A friend backed Champions of Midgard, so we played it now, with five players and just about everything included. Let's just say there's way too much stuff that way. It's not a bad worker placement game, if you like worker placement with a dash of randomness in it, and there are some rather clever ideas, but in the end, I'd just much rather play A Feast for Odin.

Space Alert is a classic realtime game, and I can see why some folks think it's really, really great, but it's not a game for me. I don't want to devote it the time it would clearly require to be an enjoyable game.

Century: Spice Road is a fun little game of small actions. I'm not sure how much I like it at the moment, but I expect it will see a bit of play, since my son likes it (he prefers it to Splendor; I don't).

Sidereal Confluence arrived and just sorting through cards got me excited in a way few games have managed this year. Really, really looking forward to my first play.
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11. Board Game: Tragedy Looper [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:506]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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2x _7.00_ Fabled Fruit
1x _8.00_ Dixit
1x _7.50_ Tragedy Looper
1x _7.00_ Heaven & Ale
1x _7.00_ Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
1x _6.50_ Vegas
1x _6.00_ City of Iron: Second Edition
1x _6.00_ Oh My Goods!
1x _6.00_ Alien Artifacts
1x _5.50_ Origami
1x _5.50_ Otys
1x _5.50_ Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62
1x _5.25_ Manoeuvre

I'm happy we got in another play of Tragedy Looper this week. I quite enjoy the game, often as the evil mastermind . We played one of the Cosmic Evil simple scenarios.

We also had our first play of Heaven & Ale. It definitely deserves its praises. It's nice and tight; there's way more you want to do than you're able. Good fun!

City of Iron: Second Edition is a nice deck builder. You can buy whatever cards you want, but the resources to do so are quite limited. And so few turns...

Alien Artifacts was fun, but was over quite a bit quicker than expected. The long-term strategy didn't have enough time to work... But it can be frustrating constantly getting the wrong type of cards to pay for things.

Origami is a decent little card game, which has nothing to do with Origami (except for the illustrations).

Otys was also a bit shorter than expected. But it was good fun (especially moving your divers around with the advanced diver upgrade tile), even if it's relatively simple set collection.

Our Saturday evening game was Colonial Twilight, with two actual players this time. It was quite similar to playing against the bot (sorry Mike!), as the government seemed quite powerful in wiping of rebel bases. Curious to play the rebel side next time.

We finished the evening with a quick game of Manoeuvre. It's a bit strange, as you can move each of your units but only attack with those you have cards for. Decent fun nonetheless.
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12. Board Game: Prêt-à-Porter [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:989]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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 10   Agricola
 8   Prêt-à-Porter
 8   18CZ 8   The Castles of Burgundy
 7.5   Rajas of the Ganges x2
 7.5   Nusfjord x2
 7.5   Altiplano
 7   1830: Railways & Robber Barons

Fairly light week as work continues to take it out of me. I'll hopefully hear this week if I've graduated. In the meantime, they've switched my office and gotten ready to send me offsite for some new work in 2018.

While my number of plays were relatively low (how quickly I forget), the quality was high. My Agricola play occurred when my son asked me to play a game and then (once I poo-pooed 1775) suggested 'Gric. While I crushed him, this was his first time with no negatives! and a respectable score of 29. Fingers crossed that he continues to be interested and continues to improve. My play of Burgundy occurred after I was talking to Amanda about Santa Maria and commented that I can't think why I'd ever choose SM over Burgundy. She said she was willing to try Burgundy again and enjoyed her play. So I think SM (along with Transatlantic and Bali) will be leaving my house soon if someone is interested.

Finally, after 4.5 years, Amanda and I pulled out Pret-a-Porter again. It was a rough start as we struggled to remember how to play. Even after we got the rules straight (we're not rules lawyers and don't worry about edge cases), figuring how to play well was elusive. She dominated the first two fashion shows (I got a total of 3 stars) but then let me dominate the next two. One of the things I like so much about Pret-a-Porter is how different it is at different player counts. With 2, cash is as important as stars. So, even though we finished with almost the same number of stars (I think she finished with two or three more), I won by over $100 due entirely to having a much bigger collection in the final show.

Rajas, Altiplano and Nusfjord still show they have legs. I'll happily play any of them (along with Burgundy) whenever I'm looking for a light euro. Unlike a lot of people, I find Altiplano to be as much of a race game as Rajas (at least with 2) and, as a result, fairly interactive.
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13. Board Game: Mini Rails [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1833]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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We had a couple more shots at Gloomhaven during the week.

_7_ Gloomhaven - On Monday, we decided to take a crack at the next scenario, Barrow Lair. We came in and immediately pinned the archers down where they'd have disadvantage, piece of cake. The next room featured the magical teleporting Bandit Commander. Unforunately for us, he spent his first two turns summoning Living Bones. We decided to concentrate all of our firepower at the commander at that point, before he could summon more dudes (though my AoE powers often hit the bones too). We managed to position it so that the bones got in each other's way and couldn't get in as many attacks as they would've liked. In any case, the commander did open door #1, revealing a couple of Living Corpses. However, we managed to kill him off before he opened any more, or summoned any more bones for that matter. It was smooth sledding from there, especially since the corpses were all bark and no bite. We did play a rule wrong, thinking that the summoned bones went away when the commander did (turns out that only applies to summons by PCs), but we would've won regardless.


_7_ Gloomhaven - On Saturday, we did the Crypt of the Damned. The first room was more trouble than we thought it would be, due to what we've dubbed the "Skeleton Healing Party". Upon opening the next rooms, the Cultists there immediately summoned more Living Bones. Great. This was a bit of a challenge too, but not compared to what was in the next room--an elite Earth Demon. We saw that he was slow and tried to stay out of his range at first, but of course the card he flipped was a multi-range attack. Anni got really lucky to draw her x2 card at exactly the right time, and we were able to finish him off, but Anni (who also went after the trapped treasure) was almost out of HP and almost out of cards, and I was getting depleted as well. We took on the final room, featuring two Wind Demons. This looked like a really tall task given our state, but I started whipping out all my cards that did non-attack damage to get by their shields, which was really effective. Anni was able to stick around long enough to get the final blow on the last demon, winning the scenario.


On Sunday, we went to a game day at Gil's.

_8_ Haspelknecht - This was with me, Anni, and Gil; everyone had played before, but Anni and I definitely needed a refresher. I decided early on that I would focus on the tech tree, particularly the spots that gave bonuses for icons, and pre-determined my route to the bottom. Though clever use of the upgraded farmer's assistant tile and free action discs I got from techs, I was able to complete my pinge in the first year. From there, I mostly focused on trying to get the techs I needed, making sure I could pay the landlord when it was time. I ended up meeting all my goals for the game, and I was the first one to each of the techs I got, which was worth a reasonable amount of points. Of course, with my focus, I was only able to excavate about half of my mine shaft. Gil excavated his entire shaft and got a bunch of tech besides, so he won out.


_7_ Mini Rails (new!) - Same group here; Anni and I were new. As with many stock games, I tried to play cautiously, trying not to make myself a target and just trying to draft off of other player's success. Well, I think Anni and Gil were basically doing the same sort of thing, which resulted in no huge swings either way for any of us. We were all careful to make sure the more valuable stocks never paid their taxes, so what scored at the end was mostly stuff that no one cared much about. Suffice to say, this was a low-scoring game, I think Gil won with like 7 points.


_8_ Round House - Same group here; Gil was new. Anni and I bought this game at BGG.Con, and were disappointed to find that our copy was missing the bag of player discs. Gil bought his copy at the same place, but his set was complete, so we were happy to actually play after a failed attempt a couple of weeks ago. My starter contract was one that gave me money each time I got money, and I followed it up with a contract that gave me two money each time I got money. So yeah, I was the moneybags player. I focused on getting experts, spending a lot of my early assistants to get a bunch, which did hinder me a little in that department. The only permanent-bonus one I got was 3 points per chair, which was really nice. However, I did prioritize getting ones with (different) amulets, and combined with buying amulets at the market, got me a really nice set at the end of the game. Eventually I also got a contract that gave me 2 points for getting a gold cube, so between that and the chair thing I was collecting a lot of points. Of course, doing all that I wasn't prioritizing the offering at all--I got a couple of early amulets and then basically gave up. Gil pulled off a really impressive offering at the end and actually hit the final spot, but he wasn't quite able to catch up to me in points. I won.



THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES

Mini Rails is a light stock game win which players expand a rail company's territory or take a rail company's stock. In fact, during each turn, players must do exactly one of each of those things. Expanding a rail company either benefits or hurts the company, depending on the terrain being expanded to, and players holding stock in that company adjust their shares up or down accordingly. Taking a stock gives a player a new share in that company, starting at $0. The companies that are available to be interacted with are random, and at the end of each round, one company that no one chose will pay their taxes. Only companies that paid their taxes at some point in the game are eligible to score positive points, and only those that didn't can score negative points. I'm not generally the biggest stock game fan in the world, but this game impressed me with its simplicity and ease of play. It's kind of like the TransAmerica of stock games.
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14. Board Game: Linko! [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:705]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 9   Gaia Project

I made a poor decision on turn 1 and knew my game was over. Still keen on playing more.

 8   Azul

Always fun. Taught some of my nephews and a different brother.

 8   Flamme Rouge

Taught my twin and his son. Quickly becoming a favorite racing game.

 8   Gloomhaven

We continued onward and forward. Found out my character as a tank doesn't get many opportunities to fight/gather treasure. Hmmm....

 8   Sentient

Taught Garry.

 7   Birdie Fight!

Played with my brother John and his sons. Close game!

 7   Linko! x6

Returned to this favorite from a couple years ago.

 7   Team Play

One of my favorite partnership games out there.

 6   Eggs and Empires x2

This went over pretty well at Christmas when my whole family got together.

 6   Meeple Circus

Silly fun. Will it stay fun for long?

 6   Stich-Meister

Traditional game of this with my brother John and his sons. I got hosed in this one!

 3   Monopoly Deal Card Game

John's wife shockingly said she'd join us if we played this game so we jumped into it. It isn't my favorite game in the world but the opportunity to have Sue join us was fun. I actually won, much to my surprise.

 N/A   Gearworks NEW!

Played this PnP of Garry's - it was interesting but I wonder if it would be better with 3.

 N/A   Mint Works NEW!

Cute, but ultimately not something I need to add to my collection.
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