GCL Mafia 361: Christmas Time
Fabrice Dubois
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La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• A weekly game can be spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.
• Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.
• A top five question can be asked for by this week's current-list writer, with members offering suggestions.

Current Roster:
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1. Board Game: A Christmas Story Board Game [Average Rating:2.54 Unranked]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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What games did you offer to your family members ?
Any old time classics ?
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2. Board Game: Zooloretto: Christmas Gift [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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What games have you been offered ?
Have you been surprised by the titles ?
Did the members of your family ask you a list of suggestions ?
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3. Board Game: The Christmas Game [Average Rating:4.22 Unranked]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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What game(s) have you offered to yourself ?
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4. Board Game: My Cake! [Average Rating:5.84 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Doom Realm 2
Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes 2
Qwixx 2
Caverna: The Cave Farmers 1
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition 1
Time's Up! Title Recall! 1
Wizard 1

---

Caverna: After 3.5 years, I gave this a second try.



I think having played more recent Uwe games (including Cave vs. Cave), Caverna's sandbox-y style made more sense to me than it did at the time when I was just like "Why wouldn't I just play Agricola?". Granted, I ignored expeditions entirely in this game and played it like Agricola making babies like crazy (and even grabbing the sixth dwarf), but I enjoyed the variety of buildings and different options. I was ready to throw down money right after the game and buy myself a copy, but I am trying to be prudent and wait. I mean, how many Uwe games can you have? (Answer: Never enough.)

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition: Matt and I failed to escape Innsmouth. Again. Rita had a particularly tough time.



---

On My Mind:

Matt and I skipped doing presents this year for a variety of reasons and opted instead to exchange boxes of snacks. Our cupboard now looks like a child went grocery shopping.

Edit: Forgot to mention that I reorganized all my Dominion sets. My ghetto solution (two of these, plus extra storage boxes, handwritten index card dividers) was beyond its max. I went to Staples to have all of these dividers printed on card stock. That then meant cutting 40+ pages of them. #HowIspentmyChristmasEveEve

Here's what dividers for every set (except Nocturne) and some promos looks like:



And here's everything loaded up:



It is one heavy box. I just got Nocturne last week. There should be room for at least that set and one or two more. I questioned my need to have/buy every Dominion set after this. I also told Matt to punch me if I ever say I'm going to redo my Dominion storage again.
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5. Board Game: DropMix [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:2677]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Werewords x12
DropMix x7 (new!)
Monza x5 (new!)
Loopin' Chewie x3
Dark Moon x1
King Me! x1 (new!)
Rhino Hero x1
Rhino Hero: Super Battle x1
Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn x1 (new!)

Reviews
MoM: Streets of Arkham at the Review Corner


Dropmix
This thing is unbelievably cool. It's a fascinating piece of technology that comes across as mostly a toy. The cooperative game is a real-time mode where you're basically playing cards to slots on the board as fast as possible. Misplays cost you points and it requires some minor group coordination. You don't really get to enjoy the magic of the thing in this mode because it's all about speed and not actually enjoying your mixes. Still, it's a moderately fun activity that I enjoyed casually with my family.

The head to head actually has legit strategy, although it's not incredibly deep or anything. It's kind of an area control game and it's turn based. It can be random a bit and it's not something that's going to win you over on gameplay alone, but it's something with actual thought and since it's turn based, you do get to hear your current mix and get that satisfying feedback.

But this thing really blew me away when I got home and paired it to a Bluetooth speaker that was cranked to 11. I just messed around in the freestyle mode for about an hour, experimenting with songs and removing single cards to see the effects. The damn device is just ridiculous. It's incredibly responsive, the subtle ways songs shift from removing a drum track or adding horns or whatever is just amazing stuff. I'm now ordering expansions cards (which are way too expensive). The biggest drawback to this thing is that the songs included are all over the place. I think it kind of speaks volumes that it had me enraptured while messing with a collection of songs I have no real interest in.

Monza
This is pretty cool. I had an amazon gift card and ended up ordering this to play with Lila. She really enjoys it, although she's enjoyed every game we've played together (including tossing cards down in dropmix and then dancing to our mix).

King Me!
This was surprisingly good. I really enjoyed this as a family weight game and loved the chaos and social element. I'm now seeking out a copy of the new Super Mario version that Raf has praised.

Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn
This was fine. Not something I'd ever request again but not bad. With four players it wa sa little slow. You take single actions on your turn and I felt like two of the players were taking way too long. I'd take a 10 second turn and have two turns already planned ahead, but I'd have to wait 10 minutes in between.

It's a clever enough game but pretty abstract. Nothing terribly exciting in it.


On My Mind
Lords of Hellas looks great. Space Freaks and the Not Alone expansion showed up, which also look interesting.

I'm off all week and binging stuff, while also doing a chronological viewing of Star Wars with Emilee culminating with us going to see Episode VIII for a second time.

Watched a few good movies lately, including the exceptional Wind River that I really enjoyed. Dark Tower was kind of lame and a waste of time. Logan Lucky came through though. I'm finding myself slowly becoming an Adam Driver fan after not really liking him in the past.

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6. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:48] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Rajas of the Ganges NEW!
Dead Drop
Calimala
TZAAR x3
Master of Orion: The Board Game NEW!
Harvest Dice x2 NEW!
The Expanse Board Game NEW!
Citadels
Azul: Joker Tiles NEW!
Azul x5 NEW!

This was the week for knocking out stuff on my "to try" list, and it's been...mixed.

On the positive end, the Brands continue to design new games that I'm more and more on board with. Rajas of the Ganges is perhaps my favorite so far, a dice-and-worker-placement game with some interesting tempo decisions and a unique scoring mechanism. Players are pushing two different tracks towards each other from opposite ends of the board, and the game ends when one player makes theirs cross, with the winner being the person who pushed their markers the furthest apart after crossing.

While it suffers from the usual "you don't need to pay attention to the board until it's your turn" syndrome that most WP games have, the dice manipulation is interesting and the board spaces give you plenty of choices for a variety of different rolls. It's kind-of got a Ciúb-thing where you're maintaining a growing-shrinking-growing pool of dice, but there's enough else going on that it's not all that. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

Master of Orion: The Board Game was very pedestrian. I can't imagine playing this over any other engine builder, unless you have an attachment to the theme.

Harvest Dice was pretty decent, though I was saddened to see that strategically feeding dice to your pig wasn't a viable strategy, at least with 2p. The Advanced scoring pads offered some more interesting choices, and I'd be interested to try this with 3p.

I hated The Expanse Board Game so much that I asked to call the game partway through. I already dislike push-pull area majority games (I'm on record as not being a fan of Twilight Struggle and it's ilk), and not being familiar with the show gave me nothing to hang on to. While this was only a 2p game (and it might be more balanced with more players), I found it too swingy for my tastes. Hard pass.

And finally back to the positive, my family really enjoyed Azul. I can confirm that this game really starts to shine when you have players actively keeping an eye on each others boards, something which comes easier at lower player counts (I can imagine someone with AP sinking a game of 4p). As is, when played reasonably quickly with an eye to throwing a wrench in other player's plans, it's incredibly solid. We played 4 games with just the base board and one game with the base board and the Joker Tiles, and while the latter added some interesting squish to the proceedings, I'm hesitant to call them a requirement. Will need more play to see, but thumbs very much up for the time being.
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7. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.71 Overall Rank:13]
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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My friends indulged me in a game I was very excited about, although I'm not sure if we'll try to do it on a weeknight again... blush

Holiday Cheer

 N/A   Time's Up! NEW!
 N/A   What Were You Thinking? NEW!

Repeat

 7.5   Century: Spice Road
 8   Majesty: For the Realm x2

heartheartheart

 10   Gaia Project NEW!


Robin hosted a pre-Christmas game night where we played customized versions of Time's Up! and What Were You Thinking? for which he had written out Christmas-themed questions. It was really enjoyable and much merriment and holiday cheer was had. I still don't like the "you can't skip" thing in round 1 of Time's Up but I think I've largely made my peace with it. The team I was on won Time's Up this time for I think the first time ever for me, so clearly Best Party Game Ever.

Century: Spice Road was kind of a blowout as I was able to take more than one card that had 3+ cubes on it early on and still get a production card. I cruised to a comfortable victory while the new player didn't quite catch on to how you need to structure your turns, so he unfortunately didn't enjoy it much.

I still like the game but it's definitely very mechanical. Turn A into B into C and repeat.

Majesty: For the Realm I played twice with my wife one evening. I like it. It's quick and simple and very combo-y. I'm still not sure I like how the knights work though. It feels like once you're on the attack the game really just wants you to keep hammering on it over and over which isn't a super interesting strategy. It won me the first game but it wasn't viable in the second due to how the cards came out, which actually was a relief.

My wife enjoyed it well enough and said it was a fine weeknight game, although likely not a favorite of hers. My score may adjust after I try the B-sides of the kingdom cards.

And finally...

GAIA PROJECT WOO HOO!

I'm sure my loving this one comes as no surprise since I'm such a big Terra Mystica fan. I think all of the gameplay changes are for the better at first blush. The tech tracks are more interesting than the cult tracks, the extra once-a-turn actions give you a few more extra buttons to press in the middle rounds, and the way you can add power tokens to your trays lets them do some extra things with that mechanism that largely couldn't be done in the original. The variable endgame scoring is a nice plus as overexpansion isn't always going to be rewarded.

The plastic pieces were not as good as the wooden ones but I don't think they're quite as bad as I had heard. They're passable. The board art is kind of bland but it's functional. The iconography is... okay. The difference between the three "arrows" - clear, green, and red - is not distinct enough, but otherwise it's fine.

I need more plays before I can tell if I have any balance concerns or not, admittedly, but I'm a huge fan thus far.

Amusing aside - one of the guys we played with is normally very quiet and reserved, but while playing this he got very visibly animated and excited. I've never seen him get that into a game before. laugh Needless to say I think he'll want to play again. meeple

OMM

Final Fantasy XII PS4 edition was on sale for just $25 at Amazon so I picked it up. I played the original many moons ago and loved it, and it feels like it has held up well. I would vote for this and IX to be the best (and more perpetually underrated) Final Fantasies.

My wife and I finished up the anime shows we were watching this season. The best by a good margin was Ancient Magus' Bride, which is also thankfully continuing into next season. The winter season looks a little... light. Not many things that interest me at first glance but I'd love to be surprised.

A friend that came to visit wanted to try Mario Odyssey and ended up loving it. Such a good game. He expressed interest in possibly buying a Switch for it (although he would likely pick up Zelda too).
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8. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 5: Sins of the Saviors [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Plays since December 12, 2017

 N/A   Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 4: Fortress of the Stone Giants x2
 N/A   Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 5: Sins of the Saviors x2 NEW!
 9.0   Ghost Stories

Already posted about the last two games of AD4 on GCL Mafia 359.

Game 26 (5.1) - This one was even faster for Henchman than the previous game; I think we had found and defeated all three within 5 turns or something stupid like that. The villain is a bit nasty and you have to defeat him twice, but we had loads of time to set up for that.

Both pieces of loot were a slight upgrade for Lini, that's the main (only?) boost we got in this one.

Game 27 (5.2) - Tighter on time for this one; there are 7 "location decks", which are smaller than a normal location deck. Since it's not variable with player count, we didn't get the usual benefit of fewer cards in the same number of turns.

We were intending for Lini to take care of most of the Henchmen, since she has a ton of spells to bury and avoid damage. However, Harsk kept turning up henchman early in the deck and just ate the damage, no problem. I think Lini still ended up getting 4 (taking one of "Harsk's" decks after we found one at the end of Harsk's turn).

Aerial really wanted to take on the villain, but it's not a great matchup for Lini. Because of the forced discard before the encounter (on a difficult check for her), she's likely to lose some good cards and have to make difficult choices for the combat checks. She also doesn't get to use Harsk's recharge bonuses because they are forced to the same central location. She actually tried twice anyway, getting clobbered both times, before giving up when we were down to Harsk's last turn and letting me do it. Even then, we were fortunate for her to not lose too many cards (so she had blessings to give me), and it wasn't quite as easy a check as most of them lately have been.

I think Aerial drew a random Item for her reward and whiffed. I drew a random Ally and pulled a Lizard - we haven't decided yet whether one of us should keep it. Currently she has all 4 Ally slots as Animals and I have 2 of my 3, and am leaning toward taking the "recharge instead of discard" power which Lini already has. So I may just go with all 3 even though Shalelu really fits with my deck's scouting and recharging theme.

I flew to Seattle for a couple days early last week, and finally picked up an iPad (Mini 4) to take with me, which means I finally have access to the Ghost Stories app. I only played once (I had watched so much TV at that point that I was having a hard time focusing), and didn't play all that well (lost on Normal, with one desperation shot at Wu Feng - Death's Army - needing 3 black on 3 dice). Good to get back to it though, and having my two favorite games to play solo on the iPad will be nice.

On My Mind In My Nose Out of My Nose

Mostly I used the iPad to catch up on TV; on the flight there, they had the personal screens in the back of the seats and I was able to watch the first two episodes of Game of Thrones S7 (I should be able to finish it off with a trial of HBO through Amazon Prime, just need to figure out when I will have time to watch 5 episodes in a week); I also finished an episode of Arrow (still 6 to go in S5; I am really looking forward to the finale which I have heard is good, but getting there has kinda been a drag) and started The Blacklist S4 (already 10 episodes in now).

The morning after I got back, I went for my sinus surgery - in addition to the polyp, they corrected my septum and some other stuff. Was pretty much out of action and miserable until Friday, but fortunately my parents were able to come and help Aerial out (dad even put together the Kallax shelving we got at Ikea - hoping to get games organized on it sometime this week). Luke had a big time. And then he got a bunch of toys for Christmas including a car to ride around in, which he thinks is the best thing ever.

Anyway, got the packing/splints out this morning, so I am feeling much less "stuffy". Still can't blow my nose, which is annoying, but otherwise making it through the day.

We're going to see The Last Jedi on Sunday as part of our anniversary vacation-within-a-vacation. So far I have avoided any major spoilers...
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9. Board Game: For the Crown (Second edition) [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:3028]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Thesp's tool is timing out for me again. I demand better service from free helpful websites. I'm including Christmas here (which is technically *next* week's list) because I don't feel like remembering stuff for a week. Fight me.

Wednesday
For the Crown (Second edition)
Broke this out to play with my friend Trevor – his first game, my second. I think I really like this game, but it feels like I (and my opponents) have been playing pretty badly as we've been feeling out how the game works, and I'd be interested to play 4-5 games with the same opponent in a reasonable time frame to get passed the "obvious mistakes" part of the game. If you are unfamiliar this game is exactly Dominion crossed with Chess.

Thursday
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
Early April. We thought we were going to get completely crushed at the beginning, but we ended up being only 2 turns from winning, and could have gotten there with some slightly luckier infection deck draws. Makes me optimistic we can handle late April. I haven't lost 2 games in a row in either Season 1 or Season 2, so here's hoping I can keep that streak alive.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
We found the first lab, so we were at least able to make some progress – that power was already super helpful in almost pulling ourselves to the win, so it will be nice to have it for the whole game).


Friday
Tramways
Unfortunately I probably bit off a bit too much here trying to teach a game that I'd never played at Friday game night (where teaching doesn't really even get rolling until 8:30). We called towards the end of turn 3 (of 6) we decided to call it at the end of turn 4 (at which point it was about 11:30 and there were some pretty tired people). The good news is I really liked it. I know there's a lot of kvetching about that auction, but I think it is way cool and it offers so many opportunities to make really important, dramatic decisions. Unfortunately, the other 3 players weren't as enamored, so if I want to play it again (and I do!) I'll probably need to find some new victims.

Saturday
Crazy Eights
Some friends got Alistair a deck of cards that were "designed" to play Crazy 8s (basically just 12 of each card from 1-12 rather than face cards). If you are unfamiliar it's basically Uno where the 8s are the "wild card". He understood and enjoyed it, so that was cool.

Christmas Day

We ate an early dinner (around 2:30), so after opening presents in the afternoon and most of us taking a half-doze from all the booze/food, we rallied around 6PM to play a few games.

Rhino Hero: Super Battle
I got this for Alistair for Christmas and we set it up and played in the morning before going to my parent's place. He doesn't have the best fine motor control, so he was a little prone to knocking stuff over, but it's kind of cool how the structure kind of gets more stable as you go. As for the game itself, eh, there really isn't much of one. That's even more true with 2 players were it basically goes until someone knocks something over (since that person automatically loses). It looks pretty neat though.

DIG
As mentioned above I gave this to one of my sisters. It's a cute little 15-20 minute set collection game with a spacial element as you have your dogs move around the yard and dig up bones of various colors. I suspect it might work a little better with 3 because at 4 there's almost no point to trying to plan ahead, but for a 15 minute filler, it is very good. The tiny cards are a little annoying to deal with.

Superfight
One of many barely distinguishable games in the "people pick a thing from column A and thing from column B and argue over which is best" a la Snake Oil, The Big Idea, etc. In this case you're matching a character and superpower (well sort of, unless "has vertigo" counts as a superpower) and having them fight. After one round of the "normal" game, we tried a variant from the rules, which we preferred in which one player plays a "Villain" and everyone else tries to make a combo to specifically beat them. It was fine. I'd certainly prefer to just stick with Cards Against Humanity for this kind of goofy party game (though with Superfight we were able to include my 12 year old niece, to there's that), but I wouldn't object to playing it for 30-45 minutes again some time if my sisters wanted to.
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10. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:17]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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 8.5   Agricola

I got Agricola at a fairly exciting time in my gaming life- I was in something of a renaissance as my core gaming group had formed, and I was buying a lot of games. At the time I picked it up it was locked in a death struggle with Puerto Rico for #1 on BGG, and I liked it a lot. It was also one of the first games that I bought that could be played solo, which intrigued me. I brought it to my in-law's home and played it on Christmas morning, before anyone else was awake. While I'm not quite so enamored of solo play in games (the social aspect is big for me, even in less than social games) I still break this out every Christmas morning.

I use the K deck these days. I liked a lot of the professions I drew, but I didn't see a lot of good synergy in the minor improvements (which among other things included two "play and pass" improvements and several others with high prerequisites). I used the Wood Distributor to save a few actions, the Clay Worker to speed my house construction and lived off of sheep and fishing in the early going. In the midgame I got the Schnapps distillery up and running, catapulted my family from 3 to 5 during Round IV, and finished strong from there. I was diligent in plowing fields and planting during the game (I had one critical bake bread early to make up food deficiency), built a 4 room stone house and essentially topped out all other categories. I scored a 61. I think a little better planning might have boosted the score by two, both in getting a little more reed for my Basketmaker's workshop and getting the Beehive out. But I was content with what I did.

Other gaming news: Received and built my Gloomhaven organizer, thing is going to be handy. I did not get any board games for Christmas (unless you count the Sushi Go I received as a White Elephant gift) but I did get 3 RPG books for Christmas (2 Pathfider modules and a sourcebook for The One Ring).

On my mind:
Sweet Home Chicago: Spent most of last week in Chicago. We had our big performance for the Midwest Clinic, which was pretty well received. I was very happy for the music educator crowd- this event is a big networking opportunity for them, and a chance to really show off what they've done in front of their work peers. I don't think it meant quite as much to me, but it was a neat experience and a great time to bond with friends.

I also got to try a nice, fancy $3500 Alto Trombone in the exhibit hall which was a joy to play and that I really can't justify the expense of buying for myself. Easy to play, sounds wonderful and a joy to know it exists, and something I can spend the next few years scheming about. It worked for WotR: CE.



Chicago itself was pretty wonderful- I hit up the Field Museum, Grant Park and Millenium Park, The Federal Reserve, the Willis Tower and Billy Goat Tavern. I found a civil war statue (John A Logan). I had Deep Dish pizza on 3 different days, and worked it off by walking 35 miles. Our hotel had an NES classic in the lobby so we played Tecmo Bowl and Double Dragon II. And the weather wasn't too terrible- we hung around freezing without any precipitation.

Looking to my idols: When I started playing trombone, I was told to listen to great trombone players to get an idea of what I should sound like. My go-to orchestra was the Chicago Symphony. They're well known for having great brass (and particularly low brass) for a long time, and my gold standard. In fact, their bass trombone player (Charlie Vernon) has been in the orchestra since 1986. They've generally been regarded as one of the top 5 in the world, and I don't think there's a more respected brass section anywhere.

Thursday night before we left we got to hear them live, in their symphony hall. They opened with the Beethoven Violin concerto, but the main attraction was their playing Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. Everything was just about perfect in the performance, and I was completely blown away during the fourth movement. This was a concert I've waited more than 20 years to hear, and it fulfilled every expectation I'd had. They are other-worldly good.

Personal Fitness: Despite the trip and Christmas, I've still been losing weight. I'm going to hit a very big milestone this week- I actually passed it yesterday, but it was a bit false because I was dehydrated and I swung back up above it this morning. I suspect I'll pass the goal for good tomorrow or Friday.

New Years is coming: Looking at the New Year and working on resolutions. I totally whiffed on the gaming resolutions this year (play Virgin Queen and Paths of Glory). I did manage to get in better shape, which I think was the most critical one. And I'm very proud that I learned the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War system, and cranked up the trombone practice to where I'm approaching my best efforts ever with the instrument.
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11. Board Game: Battle for Rokugan [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:1724]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Vegas NEW!
Tumblin-Dice
Strike
King of Tokyo NEW!
Go Cuckoo!
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Codenames: Deep Undercover
Kepler-3042 NEW!
Battle for Rokugan NEW!


Plenty of goofy gaming with the dads and a couple of bigger games as well. Also published a write up of an interview with a new board game table company that I'm very happy with. Love their table, and would love to find a way to get one into my home.

Droopsmas

Droopsmas is the annual Christmas party the dads group does. We eat and drink to excess, swap gifts, and play a lot of games. This year I received some Shadespire accessories, a sweet custom leather coozie, and a framed print of a 40k Ork that will hang in my game room one day. We also ate 2 large Jet's Pizzas, a White Castle Crave Case, and half a cheesecake (plus snacks and drinks). I was in physical pain the next day. The only new (to me) game we played was the new Target edition of Vegas and it was a lot of fun. Plenty of hooting and hollering, as is pretty standard.

Kepler 3042

I don't understand Euro people. Here is this gorgeous board full of 30 planets to discover and explore, including Alien Planets that require special tech, and no guns to be seen at all! No space combat or neutron bombs or plasma missles or trading or any real interaction besides "hey man don't touch my planet I got here first".

I played the included solo mode to figure out the rules, and this is a tough little game. It's almost pure resource conversion peppered with a little bit of that race feel which is wholly absent solo. In solo mode, the ability to burn resources permanently (which is what sounded really interesting to me) didn't shine but I'm hoping it'll round out with plays with actual people. Once my engine got moving it was pretty satisfying to watch it move and leap frog deeper and deeper into space.

Battle for Rokugan
Here we go. This game feels 100x more like Diplomacy than the vaunted Diplomacy-inspired Rising Sun. Played this with my dad and brother on Sunday. Each player plays one of the L5R clans with some asymmetric abiliites, and the point is to control territory across 5 rounds. All scoring takes place at the end so most of the rounds are about jockeying for position and staking out some safe zones. Each faction has a pile of facedown tokens that are identical for each faction save for a single token, and each round you draw a random set of 5 to take into battle.

These are placed face down and have various abilities and powers. It's a big game of bluffing, and trying to guess how strongly an opponent is committing to various provinces. We really enjoyed it. It could play in under an hour with the right group but every now and then it would stall while someone played the Iocaine poison game with a couple of decisions. Despite completely misplaying 2 tokens, Dad managed a convincing win.

On my Mind

Holidays were great. My family all came into town. My parents are still working through their stuff and we don't know where everything is going but everything seemed fine at the house. It was really nice having everyone there and Raffi absolutely loved having 5 people to chase around the house. His energy seems to be unlimited so it was good to have someone to tag in. Katie made an awesome paella for Christmas Eve and I made sous vide beef tenderloin that came out great. Again, ate too much and loafed around a lot.

I got a new journal/agenda I'm looking forward to using my new pens on, and an airbrush for painting that I can't wait to use. A lot of nice clothes which is great for 2017's New and Improved Model of Raf.

On Christmas Day the shower in the guest bathroom broke. The valve stem sheared off from the valve body, meaning that you could turn the knob but it didn't turn the water off. Because it was Christmas Day, nothing was open. Not Home Depot, not Walmart, nothing. We had to turn the water off at the main and coordinate showers until the next day. Luckily, the repair wasn't too bad and I was able to do it myself.

Getting into miniatures games this year was a bad bad call. I'm really hooked on them, or at least the idea, and I keep looking at review games in the pile and thinking "ugh but i want to paint/play/something else". Osprey randomly sent me 2 new miniatures games books, an expansion for Dracula's America and a fantasy gang skirmish game called Kobolds & Cobblestones that uses a poker hand mechanic for combat. I started looking at their catalog and they put out a lot of these small rulesets for miniatures games and I just want to swim in all of them.
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12. Board Game: Dinosaur Island [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:321] [Average Rating:7.98 Unranked]
Joseph Shufelt
United States
Portland
Oregon
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 9   Dinosaur Island
 7   Gloomhaven x2

Not a lot of gaming in. Had a slower game of Dinosaur Island, due to teaching 3 other people and 2 of them having a bit of AP with it. This game is great. I'm super impressed with it.

Gloomhaven was a better experience with an app. Had fun in the first mission. We then decided to go off towards a different mission, that involved several elite forest imps. FML they are annoying. It made everything SUPER grindy, and it wasn't a great experience during that. But it did make the final turn super exciting. It was a great experience at the very end.

I'm warming up to it, but with that said, the setup time, tear down time, and painstaking upkeep will always keep it from being an all-time exceptional game for me.

OMM: Had snow and freezing rain hit our area Christmas Eve which kept us house locked and away from the family, and I got pretty sick starting in the after noon of Christmas day. Still feeling like poop.

Fun fact: DayQuil makes me feel nauseous. NyQuil makes me poop.
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13. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.71 Overall Rank:13]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 9  Gaia Project x3 (6 plays so far)
 8  Jaipur x1 (19 plays so far)
 7  Fabled Fruit x1 (17 plays so far)

On Gaïa Project:
3 more plays and 2 against my son who have just discovered the game. He enjoys it a lot ! He said that this game is awesome ! My son is used to play meaty games (Lorenzo Il Magnificio, Great Western Trail, Bora Bora, Trajan...) and he was able to get into it pretty quickly and easily, without that many questions while playing.

In the first play, we played Hadsch Hallas (him) vs Xenos (me). The play was great and interesting mostly because of the endgame scoring tiles ("Built the most satellites" and "Colonized the most Gaia Planets").

Thanks to his planetary institute ability, round boosters and "Economy" track, my son was focused on power (he was able to earn 12+ powers on the revenu phase) and was able to take a lot of special actions in a recurring manner. He was able to form 2 federations and took the first place on satellites.

I was going for heavy Navigation, Terraformation and Science (i manage to grab 6 tech tiles), earning 32 VP on tracks at the end of the game.

I won 134 to 116.

In the second play, we played Terrans (him) vs Itars (me) because both factions are focused on gaïaformation. As a result, we were fighting for Transdim planets. The 2 endgame scoring tiles were "Owns the most structures that are part of federations" and "Colonized the most different planet types". So gaïaformation didn't help towards final scoring, apart for the federation scoring in some way (my son manage to form 2 federations --one only with mines).

The Itar's faction and planetary institute abilities are great fun : i really like to manipulate power with them in order to be efficient for special actions, gaïaformation and tech tiles through planetary institute ability (i was able to grab 5 technology tiles).

He won 110 to 103.

I just enjoy the thinking required to make the most of the tactical aspects of the game (faction ability, power cycle, tech tracks and tiles bonuses, federation's tiles bonuses...) to carry out my strategy according for the endgame scoring tiles.
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14. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:31]
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Rolling America
Eclipse
Tokaido
Dominion x2
Innovation Deluxe x5



I’ve been in Annapolis since Saturday and will still be here into next week, armed only with a smartphone, so my posting comes short, late, and likely replete with autocorrect errors. That said, the week leading up until Christmas was a pleasant one, game-wise.

I taught Eclipse to my cousin, Jessie, who has seen me post pictures of it multiple times. She caught on in about two rounds and proceeded to smash Ancients all up in their business, and while we had to end the game after round six due to the hour, we were all doing well. Jessie really liked it, and said she would love to revisit the game when more time is available.

We played base Dominion with our Broom Service/Agricola friends, and did a draft to setup both games. Both times, no one included Chapel (I never saw it), and the games suffered big time (in my opinion). The second game, especially, was basically no additional draw and had Thief, Witch, Chancellor, and Feast... and was downright painful. Basically no one could do anything for almost (get this) an hour and a half. Barf. Love the game, but this session sucked, haha.

Innovation continues rising in local popularity and might crack my top ten soon.
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