GCL Swedish Meatballs Division #342 - Holiday again
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Welcome to the Meatballs

This is the weekly geeklist for the Swedish Meatball GeekChat League! Only members are to add items (please add your weekly games played), but civil comments from non-members are welcome, as always.

--
coming up:
Annual New Years List (AAArg_ink again)
bnordeng
Jugular
hanibalicious
qwertymartin
ellephai
drbobjack
Osirus
chearns
Sorp222
VeeMonroe
NateStraight
rarevos
ghopper21
AAArg_ink
lacxox
--

It's Christmas again. I don't have any fresh ideas nor have any energy to think of something creative. Also, I spend most of this time with family. So I'll be short.
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1. Board Game: My Precious Presents [Average Rating:6.16 Unranked]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Obligatory question: do you give/did you receive any board games (or maybe puzzles) for Christmas this year? What kind of other presents do you usually get/give?
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2. Board Game: Christmas Tree [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:4937]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Do you (usually) have a Christmas tree at home? Big or small? 'Real' or 'fake'? Which one do you think is more environmentally friendly? (frankly, I don't know.)

Also, do you know any games where environmental protection is the aim, the main way to collect VPs or anything? I can only think of (3) Knizias touching this issue, but even the more environmentalist ones are more cynical in this aspect: environment protection is important but only to some extent.
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3. Board Game: Christmas Lights [Average Rating:5.69 Unranked]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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What about decorating the tree, the interior and/or the exterior of the house/flat you live in? Do you do it every year? If yes, how?

I'm not sure what to ask board game-related: do you have any games with pimped up components? Is this aspect important to you?
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4. Board Game: Dinner Party [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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What about Christmas dinner? Do you eat some kind of traditional meal in these years, or some family members' favorites, some own specialities or...?
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5. Board Game: Awkward Family Photos [Average Rating:4.87 Overall Rank:14810]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Do you spend the 24th/25th/26th with family? Friends? Do you travel to others' homes or do the travel to you? Do the celebrations and parties continue after the 26th? Maybe these start before the 24th?
Do you have any tradition of playing certain, specific board games in these days? Or gaming at all? Or do something that is like the opposite of celebrating the holidays, like work, or spending lots of time on the internet...
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6. Board Game: Heaven & Ale [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:564]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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Gaming club in the company:

Of course you can't expect many workers to show up in the company gaming club a few days before Christmas but whatever, we had fun.



 7.8   Heaven & Ale

Trying it two-player. I'm not sure if it's because of the 2-player play or the experience, but this game gets more and more cruel which I love. Also instead of scoring more and more, we score less and less because of the competition. It's great!

 7.5   Hanamikoji
I won only in two rounds, but I won.

 6.8   Citadels
Then we were more than two, five players around a table, and as everyone knew Citadels we decded to play it (I haven't played it for quite a long time). I sure don't know how the game can last one hour (as written on the box); as some had to leave we played as fast as possible and it still lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. (but after struggling in the first 8 rounds or so, either having my money stolen or just my character killed, which reminded me of the aspects I don't like that much in this game) I made progress in the end and won.


Playing with the family:



 7.5   Hanamikoji

And a play with Miska as well. 1-round victory.

 7.4   Mr. Jack
Now I was Mr. Jack and Borcsa caught me in the 5th round. Yes!

 7.5   Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale

I think this might be the Carc version Borcsa and Miska likes to play the most. It's really a good one.

 7.2   Beasty Bar
One of Borcsa's favorites - and she won by 6:3:3.

 7.4   Qin x2
 7.4   Qin: Toad and Dragon Turtle Game Boards x2

so we (with Miska and Borcsa) played on one side of the expansion board and it seemed I just can't not win so during game I started nordenging the game, soon I was holding only 2 cards and in the end I even took three more pagodas from the box but still won. Then I said let's give another try on the other side of the board and I took all the 5 extra pagodas and played with 2 cards from the beginning. It turns out it wasn't a good idea for the other (green) side: when the game ended I still had 6 pagodas...

 7.3   Dragonheart
Another one Borcsa keeps demanding - and she won by 60:55.

 8   Onitama
 8.2   Onitama: Sensei's Path NEW!

Early morning play with Miska. 4 of the 4 cards were from the expansions, various interesting cards, and the game ended faster than any Onitama play with exclusively short-range cards.

 6.9   Dream Home
Sunday early in the evening, first play with one of the Christmas presents (this one is Borcsa's). Playing with Borcsa and my mother. We were tied with Borcsa in the end and then I learned about the tie-breaker - it's a funny little idea added to a game full of fun little thematic ideas.
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7. Board Game: Hemloch: Vault of Darkness [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:9880]
Vivienne Raper
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More triaging...

We got a few turns into Hemloch before I realised it was basically the same game as Hanamikoji but with a tonne of unnecessary complexity - straight onto the sale pile.

We started T.I.M.E. stories Estrella Drive, but only got one short 'run' into the scenario before we had to stop and, when we restarted, I played BattleCon: War of Indines instead. I used to think T.I.M.E Storieswas the best game ever, but my enthusiasm has been tempered by some mediocre and uninspired recent scenarios.

We also triaged Mexica, which went straight into the collection after half a game, and then mum, Jon and I triaged Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, which was also a keeper. Not sure what to say about either if them - they're just solid games.
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8. Board Game: Steam Works [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1740]
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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SUNDAY GAME NIGHT

Felicity: The Cat in the Sack 5p - A quick auctiony game in the For Sale mold, this has a cute mechanic where the later you drop out, the more you get paid. Not my cuppa, but well-designed.

King's Forge 4p - This seemed like a cool little engine-building game in search of an engine. You basically use dice to get better dice, use your dice to build thingums, first to build 4 wins. Nice and fast, although I tend to play towards a longer arc.

Steam Works 5p - This was pretty overwhelming with 5. I think I definitely preferred it with 2, although I suspect the sweet spot is at 3 (or maaaybe 4).

JUST GAMING WITH DEBBIE BEFORE THAT, WHICH I CERTAINLY WOULD NEVER FORGET ABOUT AND POST MY LIST ITEM WITHOUT MENTIONING, NO YOUR MEMORY IS TERRIBLE, I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, NO YOU HANG UP FIRST, NO YOU, OKAY I LOVE YOU, BYE

Star Realms (3x) - Thanks Hanibal! Debbie is a big fan of deckbuilders like Dominion and (especially) Ascension, so I was curious to see what she'd make of this. The first game I got all the Blob things and attacked her to death right quick. Second game I had an unfocused deck and she managed to whittle away all her starting cards, to her advantage. Final game I had bases out the wazoo so she couldn't get enough damage though. So far she's cautiously enjoying the game, but I think she'll like it more once she learns the cards a bit and gets more into the strategy.

Final Fantasy Trading Card Game - This game has the highest quality cards of any CCG I've ever seen. Thick, plastic, and laminate, rather than cardboard and cheap, these are cards built to last with serious durability. And it's pretty final fantasy characters. The only downside is that Debbie hated the actual gameplay. I neither hated nor loved it; seems like another game trying to be Magic but not Magic, and while various rules are different (Draw 2 cards per turn! Discard any card for 2 mana!), the overall feel of the game is similar to Magic with fewer cool things you can do.

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9. Board Game: Family Feud [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:13506]
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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_8_ Dominion: Adventures - 2 Players (x4)
_8_ Kingdom Builder - 4 Players (x2)
_8_ Carcassonne - 2 Players
_5_ Ticket to Ride: The Card Game - 2 Players
_5_ Facts in Five - 2 Players

With the kids...
_7_ Family Feud - 6 Players (x2); 4 Players
_7_ Eat Poop You Cat - 8 Players
_7_ Finca - 3 Players
_7_ Escape: The Curse of the Temple - 2 Players (x3)
_7_ Animal Upon Animal - 2 Players (x3)
_7_ The Quest for El Dorado - 3 Players
_6_ Pictionary Junior - 5 Players
_6_ Qwixx - 4 Players
_6_ Batik - 2 Players
_5_ That's a Question! - 5 Players



(1) Family Feud, Eat Poop You Cat, Qwixx - We celebrated Christmas at my brother's place on Friday and played these games. Family Feud was the biggest hit, playing the "6th edition" from 1983. A few of us took turns as Richard Dawson, hosting the show. It's fun to read off the answers that weren't found at the end and have everyone repeat them with a fading voice like we all should have known it... like they did on that show in the old days. Classic!

(2) Dominion: Adventures - I received this as a gift on Friday and Marie and I played it on Saturday. I'd played once or twice before, but still a lot to explore here. We set up both rounds with 5 cards from Adventures. We both liked what it adds though it certainly feels more gamery than good old, basic Dominion. I also received Kingdom Builder: Harvest and Space Alert: New Frontier expansions as gifts, but haven't played those yet.

(3) Carcassonne - We don't play this as much as we used to, but I still really appreciate it as a good game. I especially like it with Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders (just the extra tiles and guys, not the goods stuff). Marie is often saying that I don't like this game, but I do... I just often choose to play other games. I reviewed my 8 rating and decided it was right. Carc is a good game. We finished this round 3 points apart 200-197... great play!

(4) Ticket to Ride: The Card Game - In my opinion, this is a not-so-good memory game. I don't really like to play it and would like to get rid of it. For some reason, Marie likes the game so we keep it around. She used to demolish me in every play, but I've been competitive and winning our last several times playing. This round, she demolished me again... it was something like 150-97.

(5) Facts in Five - I played this once before with my mom and dad and Marie. I remember it being like Scattergories, but maybe better. Well, I don't think it's better and I didn't really like Scattergories much, so I have it up for sale now. I doubt there is a bunch of demand for it, but I have an old copy and a new copy. If you like Scattergories, you might like this.
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10. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:121]
Ien C.
United States
New York
New York
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10 -- Go

Only Go in the last week. (This will be a common statement from me.) Lots of "fast" games online -- with 10m "main time" per side. Not blitz, but not a serious game either. About 30m total (after the main time runs out, each side gets five 20 second "overtime" periods which only get used up if you take more than 20 seconds).

It was one rotten losing streak of a week, dropping my rank from 7kyu to 8kyu (lower is better). David, my friend who taught me Go and is still my informal sensei, looked at my games and observed that I'm being sloppy when I think I'm winning. Indeed, in many of these games, I was in a stronger midgame position, but in the endgame, I made fatal mistakes and sometimes outright blunders. That's at least 50% why I was losing so much. And it's a bad reason to lose -- being sloppy out of overconfidence.

The other reason is I was trying out new strategies and tactics. That's a good reason to lose. Can't learn new stuff -- and ultimately get better -- without pushing past one's comfort zone.
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11. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:47] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Games night

Flamme Rouge - with the Peloton expansion. We just used the new terrain types which are nice if not terribly different. My sprint breakaway faded.

Squirrel or Die - silly memory game.

Azul - can't remember the details of this one as I've played so many recently! I think I won by a couple of points with good endgame bonuses.


At home for Christmas

Stroop x3 - went down well, especially with my psychologist sister.

Azul x3 - once each with 4p, 3p, 2p. Wow, very different and great with 2!
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12. Board Game: Cardline: Animals [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1745] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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Well hi. Good to be back, though admittedly that requires a rather loose definition of what it means to leave. I already know most of you. For those I don't know, I'm John. I live in upstate NY and am married with three children: 6, 3, and 4 months. It goes Boy-Girl-Girl.

I mainly play with my two older kids. Gaming with my wife tailed off pretty dramatically in the last 14ish months, mainly because it was a hard pregnancy and now we have a new kid who will not take a bottle from anyone and won't go to sleep for anyone but my wife, so we're basically in the shit again. I had a group during my initial few years as a Meatball, but we all went our separate ways eventually, as we moved, had kids, had more kids, wandered off into the desert, etc. I play with family occasionally, and my neighbor and I try to get together a few times a month for cards and scotch, though sometimes it ends up being more scotch than cards. That's pretty much it for gaming. Now and again I'll solo something in my office during lunch.

If I remember correctly, for plays we do the previous week, Sunday-to-Sunday, yes? So a list on December 24th would be all plays the previous week, including 12/23? I know people are going to say it doesn't matter, but I just need to pick something, so I'll go with that.

Last week was:

Cardline: Animals x2 (with nephews)
First Orchard x2 (with daughter A)
Cockroach Poker (with nephews)
Go Fish (with daughter A)

It'll take me a while to figure out formatting for this stuff.
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13. Board Game: Schollen Rollen [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:9502]
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
United States
Folsom
CA
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Telestrations 8p x3

Freud's forehead glistens bright with sweat
he's unsure what to write
He chomps cigar till soggy, wet
he blushes red with fright
I know that no one cares too much
if it is right or wrong
but knowing me, it seems a crutch
I swear it is a dong

--
Played at work meeting. I definitely tried to make my guess more "original", as the game gets stale otherwise. Don't tell anyone- it worked. The point isn't to win, the point is to see information twist in transmission. My motto for this game? Needs more Jpeg.

Too Many Cindarellas 3p ww x4

The Gruau-esque simplistic lines
unsavoury suggests
that of the details one assigns
he chose the tissue breasts
--
Really turning out to be our microgame of choice. Especially as Megan loves it.

My Story 2p x1

Money money everywhere
and not a point in sight
it turns out that when all is done
just coin makes one contrite
--
Interesting deckbuilder where the choice is all in the buying, not the playing. Will house rule it after one game, if I decide to play it again, which I might not. I kinda like the idea, but I don't know if it's good enough and actually typing this out it's probably not. Probably. We'll see.

Eggs of Ostrich 3p ww x1, 3p x2

I hope that when my daughter's old enough
she doesn't get too mad
That I rethemed this ostrich game
forgive! I am new dad!
--
As always, it doesn't disappoint. Lots of meanness, lots of bluffing, lots of lovely feinting.

Big Boggle 2p ww x2

I guess you know that I'm a turd
I'm just not up to snuff
I can't even think up a word
to use instead of stuff
--
Megan owned me. Nuff Said. One 7 does not a winning score make. I'll super big next time!

Sagrada 2p ww x3

I roll, you take and then I choose
you stole my one! I guess I lose.
--
I don't think I'll ever play with more than 2. It's quite tough to have the mental space to hate draft for one other person, and without it (i.e. I would totally just give up the mental exertion with more), I would just play take it easy.

Last Word 2p ww x3

Scrabble turned into a brawl
a deathtrap made for two
Sometimes it's best to wrap your shawl
and snap your neck to coup
--
An interesting mix of entrapment abstract and word game. There is a lot of interesting old school design going on, and as can be seen by the x3, Megan loved it. It is neat that you get +5 points for trapping your opponent, so sometimes if you're ahead it's better to just kill yourself. Megan has an adorable habit of working the word she made into her trash talk- although it cost her the game. "Nailing was just too good a word to not do!"

Schollen Rollen 3p x1

Ok Igor, what did you bring
who's sitting on my slab

The name is Zombie LCR
his corpse I dared to nab

Kniziastein prepares his blade
and then begins to cut
the corpse into a slimmer shape
He trims the thighs and butt
And the corpse returns from death
new fate has it been dealt
of course his new life is improved
now that he's sleek and svelte
--
Dr. K does zombie dice/LCR, and of course it's an improvement in every way. It's earned a permanent place in my family games bag. Nothing mind-boggling, but really, just solid PYL. Exponential scoring and increased incentive does make for interesting moments, but then, he knew it would.

Path of Light and Shadow 3p x1

He screamed am I not merciful
across the empty plains
yeah sure you are, just keep it down
we're nursing nasty sprains

--
Mage Knight for dummies. And that's not a bad thing, as I can get it up and running fairly quickly. Would I rather be playing Mage Knight? With Megan, sure! More than two- well then it's time for PoLaS. Heh. Pole-ass. It does look like it occupies the same sort of space as Time of Crisis, but in 1/4 of the time, so, there's that.

7 Wonders 3p x1

Evil Oprah Winfrey said
to check under your chair
Free debt for you, and you and you-
I give to you despair!
--
I love the city cards, and the anniversary cards are great additions. I love that they add a little spice to the usually calculable 7 wonders melee. Oh there's no way you'll beat me on shields, I'm fine- enter mercenaries. Oh I'm playing it to the wire with my money- enter debt tokens. I won, but the scores were 53-53-54, despite the wild vicissitudes of fate.

Mystery of the Temples 2p x1

So what you're saying is that they
are suffering from a curse-
and now the only way to cure
is shove gems in their purse?
Of course it is, you silly git
don't question ancient ways
It doesn't matter what you've got
a shiny thing allays!
--
A really quick rondel with spatial puzzle that might be better with more. It's no Gerdts though, although the game box is tiiiiiny for what it actually is.

Beer Report
Calm Before the Storm x1
Still chugging along and being a satisfying favourite.
NOT A BEER BUT-Corn'n'oil x3
I went to a fancy anniversary dinner, and there was a bar, so I asked for my favourite, a corn'n'oil. The dude ran into storage, apparently, and found an almost empty bottle of falernum. It was astoundingly excellent, although I would have used cubes instead of crushed ice. Still, to get a corn'n'oil is a rare treat. So rare I had it thrice. 'Twas nice.
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14. Board Game: Fabled Fruit [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:608]
Joshua Kuhlmann
United States
Huntington Beach
California
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With the Family

 8   Concept
 6   The Resistance
 3   Jarl: The Vikings Tile-Laying Game

Concept was enjoyable as usual. It was an odd 6player game of Resistance; we had 1 evil team member sandbag the first two missions and double fail on the third, clearing me and another team member. Quite a bad coordination failure, so good of course cleaned up- while our 3P mission failed we picked all good on the last round and took the victory.

I played a quite long half-game of Jarl. I'm not sure how it could last 15-25 minutes -I don't think I've ever had a game last less than an hour and most are longer. Still quite an off game.

With Alexandra

 8   Fabled Fruit

We won't be finishing it by the end of the year, but we are due to finish in about 4 more games which shouldn't take long.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The doubling rabbits have been with us for quite a while, but they don't warp the game quite so much as they did in earlier rounds. Alexandra is a bit too fond of wild tokens -I was able to trigger pool depletion and take 2 away from her!


With the Small Group

 8   Celebrities

Another quite competitive guys v girls game. We had Christmas-themed topics which was a bit of a slight source (or maybe we just weren't creative enough.) There were 2 Clark Griswolds, 2 Die Hards and 1 John McClane, and 1 each of Mariah Carey/All I Want For Christmas Is You. A Christmas Carol is apparently a very obscure source, people had some difficulty with Tiny Tim...
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15. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
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Samarkand: Routes to Riches - I invested in cheap families who could easily collude and then ended the game before the rich families could really spread out.

Coloretto - I'd like this incentive manipulation game more if it wasn't so fragile. I made an two card single colour offer to my left neighbour, it was his first game, but he completely ignored it thinking that this was a get lucky game and refused to ever take anything before it hit three cards, so he gave it to his left neighbour, who then pretty much cornered the colour and went on to win the game (naturally, I had wanted them to be in competition).

Cottage Garden - Due to the nature of the game, there's very little look ahead (one turn max). It's really just about asking yourself, which of these two to four tiles is best for me right now? It's probably the biggest one, as that will help you to fill in your tiles fastest, but once one tile is nearly done, you start to need specific shapes to fill it in, so the biggest one might not be the right answer (this is where looking ahead one turn may help). The game doesn't have much bite though, as no decision ever really feels painful thanks to the presence of the pots. Also, while you are all taking from the same set of tiles, there isn't any interaction as your choice is unlikely to affect anyone anyways.

Honshu - The best thing I can say about this is that it's quick. Each turn you bid for cards. The final bidder always has the option to trump and is the only one who knows what they are bidding on completely. Each card will get you points. You will acquire thirteen of them while playing. The goal is to nickle and dime your way to victory. At the end of the game you have some points and an ugly collection of cards in front of you. This game lacks tension, interesting decisions, and beauty. But, it's over quickly so the whole thing feels rather harmless overall.

Rheinländer - The tension between being big enough to defend yourself but small enough to have all of your dukes on the board at the end of the game is fun, but ultimately not great. Onto the trade pile.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases - If I solved the cases as quickly as Holmes, like in 5 moves, then I'd probably enjoy this more. As it stands, it doesn't feel like a game to me, it feels like sitting around doing lateral thinking puzzles (which are the right length for me). Doesn't feel like a game, takes too long (about two hours per play), I'd dump it, sadly MC still thinks it's great so it'll stick around.

Twilight Struggle - Airheart hit me mid war with Blockade when I had very little in the way of OPs in my hand, after we had had a bidding war on the country, leaving him safely owning it with 8 influence. Next headline phase I put out Missile Envy, while he went ABM Treaty. My Missile Envy netted me a useless Nuclear Test Ban which brought the Defcon up to five. He goes first with a coup on my last remaining country in Europe, Italy, rolls a six, and now I'm on the clock. The next time Europe gets scored I lose. What I should have done at that point was fight for points and try to win that way as I was ahead on every other continent. What I did instead was try to get back into Europe and failed at that, which guaranteed a loss (although a loss was certainly likely at that point).

Villages of Valeria - Harmless. Easy to explain, fairly quick to play, but there's neither anything interesting nor innovative here. There's basically no reason to play this game over any of the games that came before and do pretty much the same thing (only better).
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