GCL Mafia 364: Gaming Exercises
Grant Johnson
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Cedar Park
Texas
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Important Links:
GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread (links to past lists, subscribe for weekly notifications).
GameChat League Wiki (for general information about the GameChat League concept)
GCL Mafia Wiki (for specific information about this division)
Thesp's GCL Games Played Tool (an easy-to-use tool for collating your plays for the week)

Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of January 8 - 14, 2018.
• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
• Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

GCL Mafia Geeklist is made for everybody, not just ForMatt:
• A weekly game can be spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation. Plus we can bring out old warhorses to put those Cult of the New whippersnappers in their place!
• Themed questions are optional awesome. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics. Even non-gaming related twisted and contorted into gaming questions!
• You better believe we're doing a Top 5 list. This has been slacking lately!

Current Roster:
fdubois
charlest
Happymrdave
tallgrant
annowme
mith
Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
captainraffi
touchstonethefool
cferejohn
jshufelt
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1. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:121]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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A common New Years Resolution is to exercise. So today, we're going to talk about exercises in relation to gaming!

Have you ever practiced some aspect of gameplay to better unpack the strategy, and understand how to do things? Studied strategy or other small pieces outside of your normal session so you'd be better when you play? Did you learn anything useful and play better with the new knowledge?
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:17]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Agricola is one of the first games where I sat down and played it solo. I generally understood the rules- my primary aim was to get practice in at the mechanics, learn how to build an engine, and get a better understanding of basic strategy so when we played again I could share what I picked up, improve the experience of everyone around me, and then dazzle my opponents with my l33t sk1llz.

Do you play games solo to learn the games, and improve teaching? Do you work on strategies in the solo game so you can be better multiplayer?
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3. Board Game: Carcassonne: The School [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Do you ever practice teaching game rules by yourself, so you can be sure that you teach it well when the time comes? Did it help when you did? Did someone look at you strangely because you were talking to yourself?
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4. Board Game: Try it Again [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Is there any game that you made a specific effort to play repeatedly, for any reason? What motivated you to try it? Were you successful? Did you feel you accomplished anything particular by it?
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5. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:9.01 Overall Rank:1]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Let's pump some iron, and get fit as we haul our favorites out for game night! In terms of physical weight, what are the top five heaviest games you own?

I'm disqualifying modular games such as Kingdom Death Monster, Blood Bowl, Dominion plus 14 expansions, etc. We want the heaviest games you own that theoretically fit back in a single box.
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6. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:308]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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7. Board Game: Anaconda [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Some of us resolved to get in shape as part of the New Year- we're two weeks into the New Year. Are you keeping up? We need to band together and fight the fat!

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8. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:306]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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The game of the week is Taj Mahal, a classic auction game from Reinier Knizia....




Bidding with elephants! Who has played it? Was it at all recent? Do you think it holds up against modern stuff?
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9. Board Game: Werewords [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:1105]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Werewords x5
DropMix x4
Beasts of Balance x2
Space Freaks x2
Zoo Ball x2
Matryoshka
Monza
Outside the Scope of BGG (Dispatch)
World Championship Russian Roulette
Not Alone


Reviews
Fallout is pretty swell but not perfect. Check out my review at Ars Technica.

Raf and I are both somewhat mellow on The Thing.

I gush over Jump Drive.

Werewords
Finally tried some themed lists and I was appalled at the terrible questions when I chose the movie category. Surely Forrest Gump should be guessable.

DropMix
I'm logging a play as a session of sitting down and messing with the thing. Usually this is for about an hour.

I've bought most of the released expansion cards now and am still loving this as a toy. My favorite mix thus far is a splendid combination of Run DMC's "It's Tricky" vocals and guitars combo'd with beat box and double bass percussion, finally tied together with "Superfreak's" bass-line.

I've started playing with it mostly with headphones too after Lila keeps singing along to "Shut up and dance with me" and then randomly saying "I'm sexy and I know it" after I was messing around with the LMFAO song for quite a bit. On the plus side she also has an affinity for Cake as she loves the "Short skirt and a lonngggggggggg, long jacket" line. So DropMix is actually making me a worse parent.

Space Freaks
Man, this game is an odd one. It's got this wonderful old school vibe akin to a Tom Jolly release and is probably closest in attitude to Wiz-War. It's not nearly as good, although it has its moments and some unique stuff going on.

My biggest complaints are that the freak builds are too few and the stat variations are very small, so the asymmetry feels minimal (even if mathematically there is a legitimate divergence that affects downstream results). Also, the game really needs people who play fast. There's too much hex counting and things to consider and with players that want to think out their turn it can be a slog when it should be very fast.

But otherwise it's pretty slick. You run around the board controlling three freaks (and possibly alien and robot minions) attempting to kill other players, control the middle hexes of the map, and accomplish your card based objectives - Shadespire style.

The game's at its best when it's wacky and chaotic, and the event deck is probably the strongest mechanic to lean into this. Weird events like drawing everyone's built turrets and bunkers towards the middle of the map, or players being hurt by burning ground for each space they move, really jacks up the unpredictability of what will happen.

Overall, this is a solid game but it's not going to come close to attaining that Wiz-War jazz so I don't see myself hanging on it.


On My Mind
The game I'm most excited about in the near future is Firefly Adventures from GF9, a narrative scenario based miniatures skirmish game from GF9. It's a coop and allows you to do things like talk people down, sneak about the map, and generally offer more varied gameplay than just firefight. It also has awesome-looking 3D buildings. I have a copy coming sometime soon.

Noria (Euro-what?) and Dungeon Degenerates are on the table for this week.

I watched one of the top 10 weirdest films I've seen last night. 'The Lobster' came out a couple of years ago and stars Colin Farrell in a really oddball role. In the dystopian future single people must check into this hotel/resort where they're given 45 days to find a partner to marry. If they fail they are turned into an animal of their choice (he chooses a Lobster, hence the title). There's many layers of weird to this story but it was pretty entertaining. John C. Reilly has a nice role in it as well.

I'm kind of in a lull when it comes to shows as nothing really great seems to be on at the moment. I enjoyed the controversial ST: Discovery episode. Vikings and Knightfall continue to be fine but not really 'can't miss'.
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10. Board Game: Discount Salmon [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:11233]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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DropMix 2 NEW!
Kaleidos 2
Majesty: For the Realm 2 NEW!
Zendo 2 NEW!
Azul 1
Barony + Barony: Sorcery 1 NEW!
Harvest Dice 1 NEW!
King's Road 1 NEW!
Not Alone + Not Alone: Exploration 1 NEW!
Nusfjord 1
Raiders of the North Sea 1
The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game 1 NEW!
Time's Up! Title Recall! 1
Vegas + Las Vegas Boulevard 1
Wiz-War (eighth edition) 1

Review: Bohnanza: The Duel is great.

---

Games with James on Saturday!

DropMix: Best Buy had this on sale for $50 off, so I had to give in. It's definitely more of a toy than a game. Matt and I did the 1v1 mode. It was kind of dumb. We didn't make decks (which is what you're supposed to do), but there isn't much game there. The device itself is fantastic. I messed around with the freestyle mode a bit, though I didn't log it. Here are some of my phat mixes demonstrating my DJing talents:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/iEJavvmcMj3Ukbt42

https://photos.app.goo.gl/m5HYRARTsfivuqOv1

https://photos.app.goo.gl/RFOPgK6hY9VOLSXe2

Majesty: For the Realm: What a dumb title for a surprisingly addictive game. I just want to make Dave-joy-inducing combos all day long. Matt approved of the game as well, noting that we should pick up a copy.

Zendo: As James accurately described, it's group Mastermind. I really enjoyed the puzzle of this even though it made me feel really stupid. I can see how playing it more would be rewarding. I would prefer to do it asynchronously somehow so I have time to think it out without the pressure to come up with something in front of others. As such, I probably will never be able to get into the game enough to ever learn about...



/immature giggle

Barony: Sorcery: Continuing our Marc André fest, I wanted to try out the Sorcery expansion. The spells that allow you to essentially break/buff the normal actions is a nice addition, though I don't regret getting rid of my copy of the game. There is something about it that is irksome, whether it's the fiddly rules/restrictions or just the continuous build/destroy nature of the game, I'm not sure.

Harvest Dice: I only wanted to play this because I wanted to draw little vegetables. The game itself is overly balanced and utterly mediocre. I did, however, draw this masterpiece when trying to prove to James that the cabbage shouldn't be square (as depicted on the sheets) and a simple enough version could be drawn. As the fine art critic that he is, James said it looked more like a fireball than a cabbage so I had to complete the scene.



King's Road: This might as well be called My First El Grande. It's one of the many examples of Reiner Knizia just phoning it in.

Not Alone: Exploration: More cards for the Hunted and Creature are nice as are the new locations. It's really just more of the base game, which means I'm going to have a difficult time stretching the review past 250 words.

The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game: CoB is the only acceptable Feld game. I actually own The Card Game version, which is an impressive reimagining. Likewise, The Dice Game also manages to feel like CoB somehow. I'm considering cheaping out and PnP'ing this thanks to the minimal map in the files section.

---

On My Mind:

I put up an auction last Thursday. It's time to clear some more shelf space and admit that some games just aren't going to get played.
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11. Board Game: The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:3265]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 9  Kanban x1 (3 plays so far)
 9  The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade x1 New!
 8  Broom Service x1 New!
 5  Rajas of the Ganges x2 New!

The Ruhr : Disclaimer : i loved it (and my buddies too)!

We feel directed in our development and being in front of a scripted game. Somehow, this is true given:
1) that the Grafschaft Mark area is not accessible at the beginning of the game
2) that initially, nobody is able to export coal throught Port Ruhrort
3) the prerequisites for acquiring progress tiles : Lock Building or Coal Hauler tiles have only 2 prerequisites (acquired throught delivering coal of Essen, Werden, and Broich regions (the only regions initially accessible) whereas Ruhr Railways requires you to deliver coal (including the Grafschaft Mark coal) to all types of destination (industries, cities and Port Ruhrort)).

But yet, the gameplay (= the choice of actions) and the development path that we will follow give us all the latitude to carry out our strategy (= the order in which we are acquiring progress tiles). The question that each player must answer is: "In the end, we will all succeed to aquire almost all the progress tiles. What should I do to choose a differentiating development path to get there ?"

That is to say :
- do i have to unlock the progress tile that gives me access to the Grafschaft Mark? if so, when ? This will give me access to coal from this area before other players.
- do i have to unlock the Port Ruhrort progress tile to export the coal and score at the end of the turn according to the revealed flag ?
- do i have to unlock the Coal Depot progress tile to go for majorities for the end game scoring ?
- if i want to score on cities, i will have to unlock Warehouse progress tiles and maybe the Ruhr Railway tile.

Hence the importance of the destinations to which you will deliver coal: it opens/closes/shifts in time development paths (ex: if i want to unlock the progress tile that gives me access to Grafschaft Mark's coal, i will have to deliver coal in an industry AND in a city AND in Port Ruhrort (2 times).

Players will have to do things in the right order, more, in a competitive environment where timing is crucial (we only play 12 turns for as many actions). We will not have the time to do everything, to be everywhere and we will have to make choices, especially since money is tight.

What I like a lot ? The small number of points scored at the end of the game (score of our play : 44-39-38-29). This allows us to assess each scoring section (3 points max for scoring a flag, 5 points max for scoring cities, 8 points max for scoring coal warehouses...).

Evilly damn good.

I can see this one becoming a classic for our friday gaming evening along with Navegador, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Hansa Teutonica, Mombasa, Yunnan....

Broom Service : as expected, it was really fun. We played all 4 of us and we had a great gaming evening. Scores were tight (76-76-73-57) and my daughter won me on tie breaker.
My wife went last despite her 19 VP of lightning.

In the last 2 turns, i was screwed twice for the brave "mountain witch" (i wanted to go to the right lower mountain corner because there are 4 towers and i had a lot of green potions) which was very detrimental to me. I was too greedy but it is part of the fun. In return, i screwed my daughter on the upper right corner of the board : i managed to deliver the purple tower which is worth 10 VP.




On my mind
I have watched Sam Peckinpah's :
- Straw Dogs
- Ride the High Country
- Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

We will start to watch Dark (this evening perhaps).
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12. Board Game: Party Pooper [Average Rating:4.84 Overall Rank:13636]
Joseph Shufelt
United States
Portland
Oregon
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I didn't play any games. I saw Jumanji with a friend instead of going to game night and I caught a cold.

Aside from digital plays, I have been wrestling with good organization options for Gloomhaven.

So instead of being a party pooper with no contributions, feel free to ask me anything! Serious responses are not guaranteed.
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13. Board Game: Barony: Sorcery [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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Mascarade Expansion
Mascarade
The Golden Ages
Zendo x2
Wiz-War (eighth edition) NEW!
Raiders of the North Sea
Majesty: For the Realm x2
King's Road
Harvest Dice
The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game
Barony: Sorcery NEW!
Barony
Coloretto x2
Azul

Games with Grace!

We're finally getting to the point where there's not a lot more new stuff we're eager to try, which means we're getting time to revisit old stuff. Soon we'll both be curmudgeons playing nothing that came out after the early 2010's

Only two new titles that were new to me: I'd requested Wiz-War (eighth edition) on the off-chance I'd find it's brand of chaos fun, and the answer unfortunately was "not really." I think it would be a fine "ping pong balls in a tumble dryer" kind of game and it certainly doesn't outstay it's welcome (though Grace told me that our game was uncommonly short), but I found it ultimately too chaotic for my tastes.

On the other side of things, I very much enjoyed the stuff that Barony: Sorcery added to the base game. It's very minimal and smoothly integrated, and allows for more variability in strategy. We actually had our first "player who ends the game doesn't win" situation due to the new spell cards, which was refreshing. I understand Grace's discontent with the awkwardness of the design, but I really like the abstract positioning in a sleek package that it provides. Happy I own this.

Some quick hits on the old stuff...

- Mascarade, The Golden Ages, Raiders of the North Sea, Majesty: For the Realm, and Azul are all still quality designs.

- Zendo continues to be the most rewarding/frustrating experience I've ever had. It's so difficult to convey the scope of the game using the provided cards, because the cards themselves limit the scope by their difficulty in a game where the scope by definition can be very wide. Every single person I've played it with has had Grace's reaction, "I think this is a very neat game and I feel very stupid for not being able to play it well."

- I so want King's Road to be more than I think it is, but every play continues to erode my trust in Knizia's minimal area control design. At least it's very fast.

- The shine is very quickly coming off Harvest Dice. The game is set up to potentially be very clever, but because the dice pool doesn't change over the course of the game, everything turns out very even in the end. I wonder if allowing the last player in turn order remove a die from the total pool at the beginning of every round might make things more interesting...

- One of my favorite moments with Grace was when we looked at each other during our play of The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game and she said "HOW DOES THIS STILL FEEL LIKE BURGUNDY!?"

- I bought a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Coloretto to fill out a Coolstuff order and taught it to my Mom, who loved it. It's such a great, minimal design, and I really dug the gorgeous new art and the new "golden wild" card.
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14. Board Game: Welcome Back, Kotter The Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose Game [Average Rating:4.27 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Plays since December 25, 2017

 N/A   Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 5: Sins of the Saviors x3
 4.0   Mexican Train

The play of Mexican Train was with my nephew again, 2 player; he was playing by himself this visit (and even "taught" Aerial how to play). They had an epic tie after running out of dominoes with 2 left each.

Game 28 (5.3) - Don't remember much about this one. It was on the easy side; the henchmen and villain abilities didn't affect Harsk much at all (only 1 spell in deck, and not an attack). Aerial bumped her hand size to 7, I think I took the Wisdom blessings add d12 but I don't remember for sure since it didn't get used in the most recent games.

Game 29 (5.4) - Yet another game where we kept hitting henchmen/villains early. We saw one on each of the first three turns (once after an Augury), and peeked at the top of the fourth (some lame weapon or armor) for good measure. Good times.

Lini kept Ordikon's Staff, for a little extra combat check option (if she doesn't have her weapon or one of her attack spells).

Game 30 (5.5) - The rule for this one is a little nasty (if you can't close after defeating a henchman, shuffle them back in). However, there is plenty of time to slow-play, with only two location decks (plus the villain waiting at the third). We made sure Harsk never encountered a henchman (being terrible at closing either location).

Harsk still lost a combat in spectacular fashion. It was a Giant (Ogrekin? One of the ones where you roll a d4 to determine its ability), so I got 2d8+d6+10 only needing a 13, automatic success! But then I remembered the location ability meant I actually needed a 15. No problem, right? Rolled three 1s. In addition to 2 extra damage from the location, I had also rolled 2 extra damage for the monster ability. Fortunately I had my armor to bury and avoid all the damage.

Lini also lost a combat to one of the henchmen (the one I left on top of "my" location); she was rolling something like 2d10+2d6+2d4+9, needing 22; she rolled 11 on her 6 dice (four 1s), and took 4 damage which wiped out her hand.

Despite all that, we were in no time trouble (or health trouble, for that matter, after Aerial used Major Cure on herself). She also found Biter (Harsk's animal companion), which eventually set up Harsk nicely to take out the villain. Since the statue is the only card in the deck, he can use Biter to get a free d6, and still use another ally to add to the combat check since Biter wasn't played on the check itself - at least, if I am interpreting the rules correctly. I also had Venomous Dagger +2 which can add to a combat check using another weapon. Can't usually add so much to my own checks beyond the crazy bonuses I get just from whichever weapon I play.

On My Mind In Our Ears

In addition to Christmas/New Year's stuff, we haven't done much gaming because of all the illnesses going around. Our entire extended family has had something... Luke started having a cough in late December and was eventually diagnosed with a double ear infection. Aerial was sick most of the first week of January and she also had a mild ear infection. And I finally succumbed and missed all of last week at work, and probably would have developed an ear infection too if not for having a surgery follow-up last Monday (doctor gave me antibiotics and a nasal spray, because any sort of infection in my sinuses or ears could be bad times until everything fully heals).

Our furnace was also mostly dead Tuesday/Wednesday. I was fortunately home to notice what it was doing Tuesday night (it would run until it hit the target temp, but then couldn't come back on unless you turned it entirely off and then back to heat to reset something), and called our warranty people to get someone out Wednesday morning. Turned out the coil was like 80% dog hair (previous owner) and there was a hole in the furnace itself (likely leaking carbon monoxide, though apparently to the outside since our detector never went off). Ended up replacing the whole system. It needed it (I was hoping the furnace would make it through winter and then we could replace it sometime in the spring), but big chunk of our savings to spend unexpectedly.
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15. Board Game: Enchanted Forest [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:5164]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Late April. This was a cool month. Not only did we win, we also opened up some cool stuff that will be helpful in the short term and makes me really intrigued about how it will be used going forward.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
We found the 4th haven. Getting to box the infection cards seems pretty great, and the extra 15 cubes are obviously a huge relief.


Hive x2

Alistair wanted to try a new game, so I taught him Hive. As expected, it's a bit beyond him strategically, but he still insisted on playing again the next day.

Gloomhaven

We explored a cave. Ran into oozes for the first time, which are somewhat hilarious. We won and 3 of us went to level 3, which means that we're going to bump to level 2 monsters next time, so that should be interesting.

Hey, That's My Fish!

Played with Hilary and Alistair. He hadn't played this in a while, but he was *much* better able to play it intelligently. He was still 3rd place, but it was pretty close (something like 36-35-28).

Enchanted Forest NEW!

Some friends gave us this (their kids had long outgrown it). It combines roll-and-move, memory, and the traveling salesman problem. It's decidedly a kids game, but the multiple paths and ways to use doubles ("magic") mean there are actual decisions to be made. It definitely shows its age a bit (designed in 1981 by the late Alex Randolph), but it definitely is a nice alternative to things like Sorry.

The Climbers NEW!

I picked up this because Edward from Heavy Cardboard *loves* it and is always talking about how it works for everyone. Played with my sister and her husband. The pieces are certainly cute. The game seemed all right. There are some surprising holes in the rules for such a simple game. It is certainly short, so I'll play it again, but I didn't see a whole lot of interesting decisions here, but maybe ways to plan ahead will be more evident with experience.
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16. Board Game: Stuffed Fables [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:1079]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Battle for Rokugan
Pandemic: Rising Tide New!
Stuffed Fables New!

Boy posting has been hard.

Battle For Rokugan
4p game at a new gaming store. Some really interesting situations came up in this play, in that I had the potential to really hamstring myself accidentally. We also had a lot more table talk. I began really slow and accelerated quickly. I also went in for a very high reward, high risk goal and just barely achieved it which was good. It ended in a tie, but there is no tie breaker listed in the book (in fact, no victory condition technically). However, my Crane ability reads: "When you are tied, you win". So I won.

Pandemic: Rising Tide
A moment to marvel about Pandemic. I know it's a game that gamers move on from, and that you can play base enough to sort of figure it out. However, the system has legs and the way epidemic works is still my go to example for mechanisms that reinforce the narrative. Pandemic turns 10 years old this year, and has spawned a number of expansions, spin-offs, and sub-franchises.

Rising Tide is...not my favorite unfortunately. It's good, very thinky, and changes the formula the most of any previous title. Rather than preventing things from building up you're first preventing things from breaking down. You've got dikes built up all over and when you draw a card the dike degrades. Once there are no more dikes as part of a region, water cubes start to build up. Also after every turn water will flow. Any area that has 3 cubes will fill every adjacent area not walled off by a dike to 2, then every area with 2 cubes will fill everything adjacent to 1. There is a global Sea level that puts pressure on the coast that goes from 2 cubes to 3 cubes to 4.

The concept of this constant pressure threatening to spill over is my favorite part. At first, with only 2 it isn't so bad but the jump to 3 is really dramatic because of the way it cascades into adjacent spaces. Unfortunately, this water flow system causes it's own problems. You can't build a dike in a region with any cubes, but removing a single cube is a single action. Because water flows every turn, sometimes you end a turn with nothing to do because you can't wipe the cubes out of a region and build a dike so removing cubes doesn't do anything since they'll flow right back in. Also, the map is beautiful like Iberia but readability isn't the best when it comes to figuring out how things will flow.

So...overall it's good but not great? I thought Iberia was excellent because it added wrinkles but not so many changes that it crumpled under its own weight. Rising Tide gets borderline (insert a better water metaphor). Not to mention that Dutch names are hard to remember. The Semi-Coop crew was saying on Twitter that Iberia was hard for them because of spanish names and this is the opposite.

Stuffed Fables
Hmm. Follow up game from the designer of Mice & Mystics. In this one you play as a little girl's stuffed animals who get dropped into the shadow realm under the bed. The game is divided into Stories, each around a major milestone in a little kid's life. The first Story is called "Big Girl Bed" which is rather timely. Story 2 is about leaving diapers behind over night, Story 3 is the First Day of school etc. I've played Story 1 so far. The big gimmick or whatever is that the story comes in a huge book. You turn to a page and set up the miniatures and tokens on the page on the left and the page on the right provides some story, instructions, and "When you do this, read 17-4" kinda like Dragonholt. Peppered throughout are fables and discussion questions for you to talk about with your kids. For example, Big Girl Bed has some discussions on change. It's really cool, the art is classic Plaid Hat awesome, and seems like it'd be approachable for kids.

For adults...it's pretty gameable. I need to check a rule but on almost every page I've played if you just focused directly on exactly what you need to do to complete the page you can end it really fast. There are things you can do on the side but from a "power gamer" perspective, the rewards are too random to feel worth stopping. The game isn't really about that, it's about exploring story and I imagine kids will be naturally drawn to running over all the tokens while shooting for the goal but it's something I noticed. Also, things like combat depend on pulling the right color dice out of a bag with seemingly minimal ways to mitigate your pull. As an adult I get how it works, the probabilities, and can figure out how to combo things or work around it. I can see a kid getting frustrated that her brother keeps pulling the dice he needs to attack and she can't pull a red die herself.

So I had fun, the story is really cute and the production value is through the roof. I like the discussion questions/fables and all that. I'm just not sure I will ultimately recommend it to adults playing with adults?

On my mind

Painting my last Shadespire minis, having fun with that.

Our last episode of Ding & Dent has gone great from a numbers perspective. Hope we can keep this trend going.

BGG is making posting a pain.
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17. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:61] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Keyflower
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game x2
Rolling America
Lucky Dogs Dice Game
King of Tokyo x2
Broom Service
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 x2



Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Two more games in face-off 1v1 against Anastasia. She refuses to play Imperial ships because she's "a Rebel at heart." WHATEVER. Granted, all of my slung insults and careful tactics were rebuffed for naught since she smoked me twice in a row. Amusingly, when the second game ended with her T-70 taking out my last TIE, the soundtrack she was playing earlier swelled into the New Hope Rebellion Award Ceremony music. It was delicious (horrible, for me) irony. I now want to cue the "Glory to the Empire" track for when I win next time...

Oh, and I totally bought that lot off of the GeekMarket, which should arrive today. Now I just need a few Y-Wings, and a Decimator, and an Imperial Raider, and a playmat, and... and... and... and... zombie

Keyflower
So, I've had an awkward Keyflower game strung out on BGA for, like, half a year. Somehow it came to an end this week, and I lost. It was started back when I apparently thought playing with randos in a faceless medium was somehow going to be an enjoyable experience. SPOILERS: it wasn't.

Still, now I want to play a ton of Keyflower. Wink.

Broom Service
We introduced our friend Mike and his girlfriend, Clara, to Broom Service. Mike is a very seasoned board gamer, while Clara is more or less a neophyte--willing, but entirely out of her element. I knew it would be a good fit since the game is so deliciously above-the-table, and I was not disappointed. It was, however, a hilarious string of seven rounds wherein everyone misjudged everyone else, and we barely moved across the board as a result. After being blocked during the Braveheart round, Mike finally pounded the table in humored exasperation and asked the world, 'where my witches at?!' after failing for a third time to dispel a cloud in the mountains when his Mountain Witch was forced out of order in the round. I ended up winning in the 60s with Lightning Bolt points and general resource sets. It was an odd game for me, as I ended up just abandoning the traditional potion-delivery-race and instead played the Gatherers as often as possible. I ended up with 20+ points from resources, which is a bit insane.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
After an amazingly-delicious dinner out with our long-time Pandemic/Gloomhaven friends, Sam and Eee, we went back to our house for beer (my goodness, T.O.R.I.S. is astounding), dessert, and MOAR PANDEMIC. We started in June and WON. Then we played July and WON.

Really, the difficulty is continuing to spike wildly, but we managed to hold on for two full rounds with the Incident track almost maxed (one more and we'd lose) due to some really careful planning. Without a doubt, we played more collaboratively and critically in these two games than we ever have across both Pandemic campaigns. What could have been (understandable) losses ended up as nigh-miraculous victories, and the PLOT (oh man, the plot is getting SO good). In fact, far more than Pandemic L1, we spent a lot of time simply mulling over what the overall plot points will be as the game progresses. Juicy stuff.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Our current theory is that the Hollow Men are, in fact, a resistance of sorts who have long been trying to undermine Utopia, which we believe to be a Hunger Games Capitol sort of entity, abandoning the remainder of the dying planet while bolstering themselves. The Hollow Men are, then, actually the good guys, if antagonistic to the players since the latter doesn't know any better.

Freakin' leaders off abandoning us to Utopia...
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18. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:19]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 N/A   Werewords x6
 8   Secret Hitler x2
 8   Dinosaur Island x2
 N/A   Arkham Horror: The Card Game x3 NEW!


My game plays for the past month or so have been pretty consistent. Every game has been played multiple times, and only Arkham Horror: TCG is new.

Dinosaur Island -- In the one match I played my first three player game. We pushed the objectives too hard so even in the long game it only went four rounds and the high score was only ~50 points (me). Crazy.

The second game was a week later, and in the initial options were both the T-rex as well as the Jeep Ride. I mean, who wouldn't want both of those? My first round I ended up picking up both of those as well as extra workers. I immediately started combining DNAs and building new paddocks to prepare. I did not bother securing my park just yet.

In the second round, I picked up all the aDNA I needed to build my first Rex, a raptor recipe, and nabbed a PR specialist to encourage new people to come visit my definitely-not-a-deathtrap park. I built the Rex and just "happened" to forget to increase my security level that round too. Whoops.

By the third round, when I now had two T-rex and no security, the others at the table started to catch on. My PR specialist recommended that we keep at least one person alive every round "to tell the tale" so I ejected all of the hooligans from my park and only fed my dinosaurs proper paying customers.

This continued until the end of the game. I managed to run THE MOST EXCITING park the entire game, catering to swaths of suicidal patrons who readily paid for entrance into my deathtraps only to be eaten by large predators. In total, some 70 patrons fell victim to my dinos, which pushed my negative score higher (in absolute value) than at least one other player. 0 regrets were had (well none from me at any rate).


Arkham Horror: TCG -- Not sure what to say other than "this is very good." I enjoyed the base campaign. We came very close to winning the last mission with the best victory condition, but then Arkham Horror happened and we failed four tests in around and a special card flipped that did horrible things. Choices were made, sacrifices were preferred, and physical + mental scarring abounded. 10/10 will play again.



Get baked!:
For Christmas, Marion signed me up for several baking classes at Zingermann's. In the first one, I learned that lamination/puff pastry is not nearly as hard as I thought it might be, and the results were both aesthetically pleasing as well as damn delicious
.

Separate from the baking classes, I've also made a few other notable things since New Years: cinnamon raisin bagels, rye bread, rye rolls when I thought my rye bread was ruined but it turned out not to be, and just today I finished my first Sourdoughs from a starter I've been working on/feeding for a few weeks now (I'm calling the starter Breads Willis, to compete with my friend's starter Arnold the Yeastinator).


One thing I learned while working with rye bread is that the tangy flavor that is iconic is actually due to ryes usually being made from sourdough starters. I am considering starting a rye and calling it Ryen Reynolds.

TL;DR -- Yeah, I guess I played some games, but baking is more fun and you can play it solo. Also, I guess I'm having the opposite of a "eat healthy and cutback" resolution for the year.

EDIT: forgot to mention that I was nominated for the Feel the love geeklist this week. Neat!
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