GCL Phoenix 372: Designers (2018-02-18)
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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Welcome to the Phoenix GameChat League!


If you stumbled upon this geeklist by accident or through your subscriptions, you can read more about GCLs at the GameChat League Wiki page.

Visitors are welcome to comment, but please leave the adding of items to members.

Members:

familygaming
grasa_total
indigopotter
John Rogers
karlfast
Lowengrin
Muse23PT
rynelf*
Taibi
Tigrillo
woodnoggin

Alumni:
archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, darker, Dormammu, Eeeville, enzo622, hawk-x-, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, ravenskana, Smintie, TheRocketSurgeon, tjshields, topherr, Yokiboy

*Next up in the rotation.


Introduction

So, I wasn't really sure what to put up for discussion, I'm not very good at those things, so this might not generate that much discussion but I decided to talk about Designers, the wonderful people that create the games we love and hate, the people that make all this possible!

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1. Board Game: Top Dogs [Average Rating:5.10 Overall Rank:14613]
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
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Who are your Top 3 Designers and why?


Mine are:

1- Vlaada Chvátil

I consider this man a Genius... The versatility and range of his games is simply amazing...
He designed 3 games that are on my TOP 10 of all time:
- Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization #1
- Mage Knight Board Game #3
- Dungeon Lords #7

(I haven't revised the Top 10 in quite some time but I don't see these ones getting out of there!)

So, based on that alone he would be my favorite designer, but he has done so much more, like Dungeon Petz, Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends, Galaxy Trucker, even a Co-Op Space Alert.
But not only does he make these wonderful heavy games he also designed great lighter games, like Codenames, Sneaks & Snitches, That's a Question!
Just mind blowing!

2- Vital Lacerda

Another guy that I consider a Genius.
What impresses me most about his designs is the amount of research he puts into the theme and the way he then translates that into the gameplay...
All of his games, to me, turn out to be much easier to understand and grasp because of said thematic integration, it would be so much easier, like many do, to just make a good game with good mechanics but Vital does it in such a way that despite his games being usually very heavy being much easier to get the rules and how to play because the thins you are doing make thematic sense, they are logical.

Kanban: Driver's Edition is to me is best design and the game, despite the busy board that might scare you at first sight, when you really look at it, it shows you how to play the game, how each department is connected to the others by spaces on the board and that highlights the thematic integration. It's amazing.

Up to now I haven't played a single game by Vital that I didn't think it was fantastic!


3- Stefan Feld

Feld is probably the designers that I have more games in my collection, I think I have 13 games from him, and that says it all... 13 games from a sole designer that I find worthy enough to be in my collection!

I think that the quality of his works was better earlier than in these last years, not saying that the last years have been bad, no, they weren't just as fantastic has previous years.


4- Paolo Mori

I know I said 3 but I had to extend my list to 4 because I think Paolo Mori is a Fantastic designer and I think that he doesn't get the recognition that he deserves, not even close to it!!

He made fantastic games, from all sorts, he designed the first game I ever bought, Libertalia... he also did Dogs of War, Vasco da Gama and Ethnos among others... great designer!
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2. Board Game: Dream Team [Average Rating:4.94 Overall Rank:14260]
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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What are your Dream Teams? Those Designers that when they work together do amazing stuff!!!


1- Wolfgang Kramer, Michael Kiesling

They are the Dynamic Duo, the quantity number of games they designed together that are amazing gets them the #1 spot, games like Coal Baron, Linko!, The Palaces of Carrara, Porta Nigra, Reworld
, Tikal, just to name a few... and then the quantity of quality games they designed solo or with others make them rise to the top!


2- Paulo Soledade, Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro

They are the Portuguese Dynamic duo and also two fantastic guys to be with, I might be biased because I consider them friends but I don't think I am biased because their games are just superb... I have no words to describe the master piece that Madeira is!
My Panamax is all blinged out with amazing painted ships and crates because the game is worth the extra investment I put into it.
Nippon, another amazing game.
Even the smaller games they designed for the Portuguese market like Reis de Portugal and I Love Portugal are good games...
Can't wait to try the changes they made to Brasil since I played last year and can't wait to see what Artificial Intelligence will be like!


3- Simone Luciani, Daniele Tascini, Virginio Gigli

I group them together despite thinking that the 3 of them never worked together in one game but the teams of two that come out of the combinations of these 3 made fantastic games like Grand Austria Hotel, The Voyages of Marco Polo, Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, Lorenzo il Magnifico and Council of 4

They seem to work very well in teams and whenever a game by them is announced it enters my radar because their track record is awesome!


4- Viktor Peter, Richard Amann, Dávid Turczi

I mention these 3 together because they seemed to be linked and designing the games for Mindclash Games...
From Trickerion: Legends of Illusion to Anachrony, two amazing games, I just can't wait to see what they will do next!


5- Andreas "ode." Odendahl, Michael Keller (II)

They seem to be venturing off in solo adventures in the design land but I have to say I love the two games they put out as a team, La Granja is simply fenomenal and Solarius Mission is great!
Would love to get more games from this team!
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3. Board Game: New Kids On The Block Game [Average Rating:3.46 Unranked]
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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And what about your "newer" designers to watch, the ones that have been on fire lately or appeared in the last years and got you excited for what they can do next?


For me:

1- Alexander Pfister

He has to be #1 in this list, he just appeared out of nowhere, a bit like Randy Orton, and knocked everyone to the ground with great great games like Great Western Trail, Mombasa, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King and Broom Service.

And he also shows some versatility by doing smaller lighter games that are also great like Port Royal, Oh My Goods! or Gier.

Can't wait to see what he does next


2- Isaac Childres

This is another one that I have to say is a Genius... how can someone come up with a game like Gloomhaven on it's own, design a beast like that, with story, with so many different monsters and characters, cards, cards and more cards, and more cards and it all works fantastically!!! Even the scenarios that were designed by others or in collaboration are well balanced...
Before that he had designed Forge War, another beast of a game with very interesting mechanics and production.
And the next one that's coming looks to be another hit, Founders of Gloomhaven... and he does it all on it's own, making these massive projects without a big company behind him... it's only him on Kickstarter... it blows my mind!!!


3- Stefan Risthaus

Stefan as designed a few games but some of the last ones he did put him on a map with a big spotlight, a guy that desigs games like Arkwright and Gentes deserves to make this list and to be excited for what he does next!


4- Tim Puls

I can say about Tim the exact same thing I said about Stefan in the #3 spot... but Tim is actually a new kid on the block... he only designed one game so far and what a game it is!!! The Colonists.
It's an amazing game and I can't wait to see what comes next from him!
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4. Board Game: Rotation [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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Dave - 25th February
Nicolai - 4th March
Morten - 11th March
Rich - 18th March

Jeremy - 25th March
Alison - 1st April
Carol - 8th April
John - 15th April
Karl - 22nd April
Michael - 29th April
Paulo - 6th May
Dave - 13th May
Nicolai - 20th May
Morten - 27th May
Rich - 3rd June
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5. Board Game: Heart of Crown [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:2157] [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked]
Paulo Renato
Portugal
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Like I said when I posted my plays last week, this week would be even slower and it was and I think the following week will be the same... but I know things will pick up in the end of the month and the start of March with LeiriaCon!



 10.   Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Another session came to a close and this time scores were very high, I finished second. I can't get enough of this one!
WINNER IS NOGUD NOGUD AS GREY (280 PTS)
2nd is Paulo Renato as Orange (247 pts)
3rd is Joao Carlos as Green (201 pts)
4th is Eduardo Cruz as Purple (200 pts)

Game ID: #7418480

Confrontation History
Me – 10
Nuno Ascenção – 8
João Carlos – 5
Eduardo Cruz – 2


 9.5   Gloomhaven

This was the first scenario with my new character, I selected the MindThieve and it was a bit weird, I was too used to the other character and built a 10 deck out of 17 cards with only 2 cards that gave good movement... so it was a bit of an odd game, a game of get to know the character, I like it but I have to be more careful for the next scenario with the choice of the cards.
We won the Scenario with ease!




 8.25   Heart of Crown NEW!

This is a very cool deck-builder, it as some different ideas on how to play the cards (you can say it's almost the same thing of getting more actions with dominion for example) but it feels different.
Also, the way the market works in this game is pretty interesting.
The game flows because turns are quick and you are engaged to see what others are doing.
The art is gorgeous!
I won the game very comfortably
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6. Board Game: Massive Darkness [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:629] [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Monday Night with S&B

 6   Charterstone x1
The game was somewhat more interesting this time around. It was the fifth game of our campaign and the first that B won. Without giving away any legacy spoilers, I tried to win this one mainly through getting points from Reputation and Quota tracks and ignoring building new buildings and opening boxes. I came dead last and was left wondering if there really is any other strategy than building structures and opening boxes. For a legacy game, I'm not finding there's really not that much narrative to it. In fact, beyond unlocking new stuff/rules, there's really no narrative at all.

Friday Night with S

 7   Heaven & Ale x1
S continues to warm to Heaven & Ale. Our third play actually had her hang around the table when it was over to discuss how it played out and how we both could have improved our play. As for narrative arc in this game, it has even less than Charterstone; the theme is completely pasted on, so much so, this thing could almost be an abstract. But it plays quick and it has that tension that comes with not enough time (and coins) to do everything one will ever want to do. So it has my curiosity for now.

Saturday Night with S&K

 7   Massive Darkness w/Troglodytes x1
The game was ramping up to be quite epic. Find a lost artifact of great power and then get ambushed by some big bad boss monsters and have to fight for our lives to escape. Unfortunately, it didn't play out as anticipated; instead, we massacred three big monsters and some goblin cannon fodder, and walked out with hardly a scratch. There wasn't a single moment of the whole dungeon where I got any sort of depraved delight in seeing my fellow companions mauled by a ogre mage or an ogre. Before we play again, I may have to come up with some house rules to make it more deadly.


The Week Ahead

No plans as yet, but there's a chance some social gaming may happen this weekend. In addition, I am looking forward to soloing John Company when it arrives.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: Maria, The U.S. Civil War, Francis Drake, German Railways, Tikal and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

Unplayed games not in shrink: Normandy '44 and Mottainai.

Ordered: 18CZ and John Company.
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7. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:142]
Morten K
Denmark
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My gaming last week was definitely influenced by the fact that Marc and Brooke arrived Monday. Marc and I played several smaller games during lunch breaks (or just breaks to play games…) and then one bigger one Friday after work. This week will be the same it looks like. Today I host my work group which has grown a lot it seems as we’ll be 14 people this afternoon. I’ve promised Marc to teach him Medina so that’s definitely on the table and I’ve also promised Alison to play Q.E. as soon as possible so I hope we’ll be able to find time for that afterwards. It’s great to have Marc around; playing WsdV! online was fun but sitting at the same table for a game of Sekigahara is just so much better. Despite still living 125 km apart now, it’s a lot closer than Alberta for sure.


 9   ZÈRTZ x3
ZÈRTZ is a favourite game for both Marc and me and none of us have played it much lately so it was a natural place to start. We were both rusty but Marc perhaps a bit more so to start with as he had forgotten that you should not leave a row of four with two marbles in it (or one of five where you can remove one of the ends) a couple of times. So first game went to me. In the second one, Marc began to remember some tricks of his. It’s interesting but here we began to see that we play it slightly differently. Marc likes to place marbles along the edge and try to isolate chunks of them whereas I do not mind having some in the central area. And I never used isolating marbles as a strategy much. Marc kept placing marbles of the weakest colour – black – and won by isolating a group of three of them to get 6 in total. So best of three then. In the last one at least my rust had started to come of and it was a great game with lots of marbles on the board. Three in the centre and lots surrounding the edge. We both needed just one marble for the win in the end so we had a tense finish to the match series. I won by giving Marc first a black and then a grey to get a white marble in position for me to get it and win the game. A great start to the week!



 6   Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 x2
Thursday evening my Pandemic Legacy group got together again after a hiatus of a couple of months. It’s hard for us to find available time so it’s probably going to take the rest of the year for us to finish. Especially after us becoming too discovery happy as it made life a lot harder for us in the near future at least. Both plays were of April. The first play was so very close to a win but for the last of three infection cards to be flipped. Next turn we would have won. In the first month we reconed into Africa and in the second into Asia so we now have explored all areas from the initial board state. I’m beginning to like this one a bit better but it’s still a co-op and it’s still Pandemic.




 9   Throne and the Grail x2
I’m off at work at noon on Fridays so Marc came over to my office and we went down to the big hall facing the fiord where we’d have a nice view and plenty of light. We might not have talked about it much in advance but we definitely had a long list of games we’d like to play against each other. Throne and the Grail was one of the top ones for me since it seems to be our little secret game of the GCLs. I like it a bit more than Marc does I think but we both had fun trying to bluff each other to get the cards we wanted the other to have so we could get the juicy other ones (hoping the other one did not have a hand full of minus cards). We won once each so I reckon we have to play it some more. 



 9   Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
Warmed up we started the main course. Marc had played three times before and I had played once. I played Ishida (yellow) first time and Tokugawa (black) this time. My first play was very much a learning game. The rules are easy but I had no idea what to do with the rules and my blocks. This time though I had a much better idea and I found it easier to play the Tokugawa side. The game was probably my best gaming experience this year. Only rivalled by first plays of 1889 and Automobile. After the first two rounds where we didn’t do much apart from move around a bit we started battling it out. Marc annihilated a my southwestern force and I made a surprise attack and took out some of his crack forces before my small force was killed as well. And then fighting for the central part of the board started. Punches were thrown all around. Twice Marc almost won and twice I almost one – the closest was in big battle at Sekigahara itself where both our leaders led big forces. Marc attacked me but I had the better cards so I only lost a couple of blocks but I took out 6 of his 7. Had I had just two more hit points, his leader would not have been able to escape. Then Marc bid high to make a quick counter-attack on my leader and his few remaining forces. My leader also escaped and I sent my newly mustered forces behind his big army to move into Osaka to take out the heir to the throne. Phew. My rating has now increased from a 7 to a 9! By now the area had been converted to a student Friday bar so we had a beer and walked across the street to a better bar with some decent microbrews on tap.



 8   Greed
With a weak American saison in my glass, I set up Greed for a teaching game. This is Lærke and my favourite game for travelling and since Marc is travelling, I thought it was apt for him to learn it. I’ll let Marc say more about his thoughts on it but he played well for his first game, found some very nice combos and pulled them off so despite a couple of quiet rounds initially he ended up with a very respectable score.




 8   Triumvirate x3 NEW!
This was a must of course. I had asked Marc to bring it so he could teach me. And I liked it a lot – much better than König von Siam actually. Marc beat me twice and I borrowed the game so I could teach Lærke. She also beat me. She doesn’t even like trick takers much and had no idea what she was doing initially. I still liked the game but perhaps I won’t get to play it much if I should find a decently priced copy of it. If I do, I’ll buy it. Last year I bought a first edition copy that then got lost in the post on the way to me.




 6   Pandemic x2
What am I doing?? I don’t like co-ops and I don’t like Pandemic and still have played three different avatars of it three times (six plays in total) over the last 9 days… This was with an elderly couple we know. We often have dinner, good wine and perhaps a game with them and we had talked about what a good game for them to play with their grandchildren could be so Lærke and me suggested Pandemic and that we would teach them how to play. Last weekend we had scheduled an afternoon gaming sessions but fittingly, one of them was ill so we postponed to this weekend instead. I haven’t played the base game for quite a while but it really is vanilla. I might have to lower the rating. We lost the first game but then realised there were 8 instead of 5 epidemic cards in the deck so we reset it and started again and then won. They were impressed and will buy it so mission accomplished.



 7   Terraforming Mars
While I was cooking for other guests to arrive in the evening we played a couple of Bobby Womack albums which we usually listen to while we play Terraforming Mars so Lærke wanted to play it the next day where we chose the Hellas board. Lærke chose the plant corp and I picked one of the mining ones so our strategies diverted very quickly. We both struggled to improve our income so we struggled to do much the first many rounds and had to discard good cards because we couldn’t afford them. Lærke of course focused on the board and I focused more on cards and improving production. She got two of the Milestones but I got all three Awards and in the end when we had tallied our scores I was ahead 124-123. Until she discovered two points on some cards she hadn’t included. Finally Lærke won again! It’s amazing how much I enjoy our afternoon sessions with some old soul music on the speakers, tea and chocolate/croissants because I don’t like the game that much. It’s not the downtime or the length vs player interaction that makes it a mediocre game for me as much as how unthematic and anticlimactic it is that so little of the gameplay is on the board.



 9   Jump Drive x3
We finished the week with a best of three of Jump Drive. Nothing went my way in the first play where I kept picking up either cheap cards that gave me no draws or very expensive cards I couldn’t afford so I just watched Lærke sail ahead. Second play everything went my way with several cards giving other cards a bonus draw or point. So a third and final play was needed and it was close. My engine went into gear a bit earlier than Lærke’s but hers picked up pace and overtook mine. Very close scores but this time I was one point ahead.



Games that left my collection this month: India Rails and Sakura Hunt.

Games that entered my collection this month: BIOS: Megafauna (2nd Edition), Too Many Cinderellas and Power & Weakness.

Unplayed games in my collection: Tahuantinsuyu, 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar, Splatter SHOOT, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, Sword of Rome, Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62, El Alamein, Stephenson's Rocket, Chicago Express, Continental Divide, Q.E., Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Edition), Scharfe Schoten, BIOS: Megafauna (2nd Edition), Too Many Cinderellas and Power & Weakness..



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8. Board Game: Perikles [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1030]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

|9.5| Race for the Galaxy (+The Gathering Storm; New Worlds) (x3)
|9| Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
-8- The Castles of Burgundy (x2) (+1st; 2nd; 5th; 8th expansions New!)
-8- Greed (x2)
-8- Kingdom Builder (+Crossroads; Harvest; Island; Nomads)
-8- Puerto Rico (+New Buildings)
-7- A Few Acres of Snow
-7- Azul
-7- Deus (+Egypt) (x2)
-7- Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
-7- Flamme Rouge (+Peloton New!)
-7- Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (x2)
-6.5- Cottage Garden
-6.5- Ticket to Ride: Old West
-6- Perikles
-5- K2


Two October games of Pandemic Legacy: Season 2. The first we thought we had sewn up, about to win on the next turn when disaster struck and the Infection Deck turned against us. We should have spent more effort controlling the plague. We won the late October game. We've been enjoying the decisions involved in the later parts of the campaign much more than the early games, it has improved as we progress through it. We're going to try and finish it this week. Spoilers for October and the start of November:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This time we revealed the storyline "twist", the true identities of our characters, an exciting link back to Season 1. Sadly, we had already guessed this twist months ago. Jake proposed the idea early on, Kate re-read the story cards a couple of games ago and decided he was right, the truth was in front of our faces. I guess if we had not figured this out, it would have been a jaw-dropping moment, but it lost its impact for us by having been signalled a little too clearly. Also, I'm sure I read that you didn't need to have played Season 1 in order to play Season 2. That's technically true, but the twist wouldn't make much sense if you hadn't played the first campaign.

We put a lot of effort into connecting all the red, East Asian cities and searching them, looking for the remaining components of our "plan". We needn't have bothered, the legacy deck gave us what we needed in November anyway. There's a bit too much of this for our liking – wait long enough and the game will move on regardless. I can see that the designers want the story to progress whatever the players do, and not derail the campaign, but we'd rather there was more chance to fail. We've become quite cavalier about damage to characters now, we don't believe the designers would dare kill anyone off with an early scratch and would love to be proved wrong on this. Our group would enjoy a less forgiving campaign, with more character death, more risk of failure and the agency to have things go really wrong.


I took two Martin Wallace games along to Thursday game night, after one friend told us she didn't think she'd ever played one of his games. Tinners' Trail was deemed to have too esoteric a theme (I could have pushed for it but it would have been a hard sell), whereas Discworld: Ankh-Morpork was acceptable, albeit not a great example of the sort of game that Wallace is renowned for. It was a very short game. I managed to control five areas at one point, when I only needed four to claim the win at the start of my next turn, but I was quickly knocked back down again. Thinking I'd overplayed my hand, I used Zorgo the Retro-Phrenologist to switch my secret victory condition for one of the spares, receiving another Lord with the same goal, but at least the others were no longer certain what I was up to. Before I could build back up, Kate won with Dragon King of Arms having bought the city area that allows you to add more trouble markers to the board. It was an obvious ploy but one that the rest of us weren't able to stop, simply because of the cards we had available to us. Becky had the misfortune of drawing none of the cards which allow you to chain into another card play, which makes for dull turns. I would have liked to play again immediately but there was little enthusiasm for it from the rest of the group.

At the weekend, Kate and I broke out A Few Acres of Snow (6 years dusty). She was dubious that she'd enjoy it, so it was really a favour to help out with my Wallace challenge, but I think it surprised her. It was less of a wargame than she'd expected because a lot of it was about settling new territories and upgrading them. The biggest problem we had with the game was that key information is hidden on cards when it could easily have been drawn onto the board. The existence or lack of connections between locations is not obvious and you can't tell what capabilities your opponent has without examining their cards. It looks like there are a few useful help sheets available in the Files section so printing those out will help. There's a chance she may even play again without too much arm-twisting.

Then, on Sunday, we had five players so I suggested Perikles (7 years dusty). It's an odd game, mixing area control, stock holding, bluffing, temporary alliances and a combat system that involves a lot of dice rolling. Its similarities to Princes of the Renaissance had me looking forward to playing that game, where you have more paths to choose from and more subtle ways of interfering with your opponents. We were probably not aggressive enough, as only Athens suffered any military defeats. Usually, the defender won easily. Victory went to the player who had held two cities twice in the game, giving her extra statues. Control of cities is so valuable yet you are very restricted in what you can do in the Influence phase. You really don't want to miss out and be saddled with the Persians. I found the special tiles a little annoying since they vary wildly in power. Some have a very narrow application, while others are more generally useful, yet there's no balancing factor to who gets them, they're just handed out randomly at the start of the game. This surprises me for a Wallace game; he usually throws an auction in there to put the onus on the players to evaluate the utility of diverse abilities like this. (Not that you can easily auction off secret powers, but there must be something that could be done.) It's a game I'd be interested in trying again with the same players, now we all know the rules, but only if we can keep up the pace. 2.5 hours is too long for this; if it could be completed in 90 minutes that would be fantastic.

Updated Wallace count:



Played:
A Few Acres of Snow
A Study in Emerald
Book of Dragons
Brass
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
London
Perikles


Looks like this challenge is going well. I may have to expand it if it turns out to be too easy.

Castles of Burgundy is great as a two-player game but not much fun with four: it takes twice as long for a more frustrating experience because there are more players accidentally ruining my plans, reducing the strategic possibilities. I had just received the Trade Routes expansion from the BGG Store (thankfully, I didn't have to buy the 10th anniversary edition of Notre Dame to get these cards – I just hope the new Notre Dame expansion also makes it to the GeekStore some day.). We tried them out in a two-player game and they noticeably changed the value of ships. Now selling goods can trigger a chain of other actions, which is very pleasing if you can achieve it. I wonder if mines could do with a small improvement to keep them viable.

It was a brutal first game of Ticket to Ride: Old West. There are two twists here which have a massive impact on the game. First, all trains played by each player must be contiguous. This is a huge restriction and caused me to realise just how much I appreciate the ability to play trains anywhere on the board on other maps. You now have more chance of working out where your opponents will play next, which feeds into the next rule change. Each player starts the game with a city piece in play (their trains start from that city) and can add a couple more to the board as the game progresses, one per named city. The city pieces make it so that whenever anyone builds into or out of that city, you get the points for it, not them. Choose your cities wisely and you can earn a lot of points from other players who need to build a route through there in order to complete their tickets. It's very disheartening to have saved up the cards you need for a key route only to have the player before you build a city piece there. Do you change tack and look for a way round, or do you cave and give them the points? Tough choices all round, and ones I was entirely too tired to enjoy, compounded by simultaneously bouncing a grumbling baby on my lap. I finished with a negative score – a first! If you think regular Ticket to Ride is too gentle, you may prefer this map.

Unplayed games: Alea Iacta Est, Augsburg 1520, Capitol, Circus Maximus, Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom, EXIT: The Game – The Forgotten Island, Fowl Play!, GeoFlag, GIPF, Hellas, Hunt for the Ring, In a Bind, Letters from Whitechapel, Liberté, Like Dice, Meins!, Minotaur Lords, Mü & mehr, Palazzo, Pax Pamir, Porto Carthago, PÜNCT, The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, Squatter, TAMSK, Tournay, Tybor the Builder, TZAAR, Viking Fury, WildLife, Wyatt Earp
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9. Board Game: Welcome to Centerville [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:3295]
Dice bags!
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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No games this week, so I'll post my CoolStuff order which should come at the midweek. (I hadn't ordered from CSI since 2016; the games I got last year were mostly trades/auctions, with a few Amazon pickups to round it out).

Welcome to Centerville (my first GMT game)

Fields of Arle: Tea & Trade Expansion (probably for Sam bday, if not then, Christmas)

A Feast For Odin: Mini Expansion 1 (I don't get a lot of mini expansions, but for free shipping, sure)

Chemistry Fluxx (gift for my brother)

Take It Easy! ($6.99, gift for friends' kids)

Steam Works (at $13.99, it seemed worth a pickup for birthday/Christmas. Somehow reminded me of Galaxy Trucker, with building weird contraptions)



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10. Board Game: Spirit Island [Average Rating:8.49 Overall Rank:53]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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 7   Spirit Island

We turned up the difficulty a little (Sweden 2), which extended the game a little. Like my other plays, it seemed hopeless at first but eventually we won. This time, though, it seemed less like our power level was growing exponentially and the win was inevitable-- we got to Terror 3 the same round we got them down to zero cities, but the board was crowded and we'd spent down our energy; I could imagine us having lost.

 5   Rewordable NEW!

The mechanical hook-- make words from cards that have 1, 2 or 3 letters on them-- did kinda work out, in that it wasn't all prefixes and suffixes. On the other hand, the game also seems to want you to steal, and that almost never happened except when somebody had no options and made a short word. Skillful play would therefore probably have made the game longer (better to just change cards than play a short word) and the game was already too long.

 7   Azul

3p was fun! Having only two opponent boards to look at is tractable.

 7   Fabled Fruit

We've been playing in accelerated form, with only three cards per number. I like it a lot that way-- each game has an arc to it with multiple piles being exhausted. Also, this way I might ever see the end of the campaign.

 7   Neuroshima Hex!

Uranopolis vs. Mississippi, our first play with both. I got pretty frustrated with Mississippi's inability to break through the wall of +Toughness units. But the opening, where two units that both had free Push Backs every turn (my HQ, her warrior) had a very abstract-game-feeling fight over the center of the board that in retrospect determined the outcome. I do like the abstracty parts.

 7   Wordsy
 7   Qwixx x2

Two short games with a new friend, who took to them great, including a squeal of glee when I brought out the Qwixx Gemixxt sheets for the second round.

Also, I have a fun BGG-related project cooking; I might even have it posted tonight.
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11. Board Game: Super Big Boggle [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:6657]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 17Feb2018:

5/12/52 plays of 4/10/33 total games, with 2/9/15 expansions employed.
Plays with 10/15/32 distinct opponents.

0/2/3 games acquired (plus 0/2/4 expansions.)
0/0/0 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/0/1 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 3 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

At the Los Altos Game Day:

images by a_traveler, Lord_Aethan and W Eric Martin

1x _7⅓_ Terraforming Mars (with Hellas & Elysium and Venus Next)

The victor of this one was very proud of his victory. And it was indeed a noble accomplishment: he'd not been the target of any of the take-that cards, and had managed to ably deflect his opponents into attacking each other.

For my part, I was unimpressed. (Perhaps doubly, since I was a point off dead last, and yet had been the target of by far the majority of the take-that cards.) I prefer it when my opponents act in their own interest (that wasn't uniformly the case); when there's little whining and arguing that others should be attacked (a failure on multiple counts). I might do better to not inflict myself on the group (or simply not attend) next time.


With family:

image by DICE_COLLECTOR

1x _7⅔_ Super Big Boggle

The expected result: my wife won, and son #2 and I (unsuccessfully) attempted to match her score with the combined total of our scores. I really didn't expect better: but as we play, it seems she's improving faster than we are (which surprises me a bit; I'd a modest delusion that her skill level is at a sufficiently high level that there's not so much headroom remaining. That seems false.)


With the Lunch@work group:

image by W Eric Martin

1x _7⅓_ Abluxxen

Funny. I did as well this time out (hands of +16 and +18 points) as I'd done badly the last time out. I don't think I'd played any better (nor, indeed, that my opponents had done any worse.) So I'm left with blaming the card distribution: it seems as plausible as anything else.

And that's not to say that I don't enjoy it: I do. It's a lovely frivolity. I also think (in the aggregate, and medium-long term) that better play will win a bit more often than bad play. But I'm nearly certain there can easily be enough randomness in any single game to throw things to one player or another.


image by darquil

2x _6⅔_ Money! (35 months dusty)

This was fun in that we all played very very much better in the second game. The first one was a bit over-patterned: folk (repeatedly) made trades that followed their sense of something reasonable. But we all tried different things. In the second game, there was more realization of the possible variations of successfully useful bids: so folk tried a far greater variety of gambits.


Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+0/-0)
Owned-and-played-once: 97 (+0/-0)

Outlook for the week: Not clear that I should be any more optimistic about this week than last: but I'm still hopeful that I'll do better. I'm hoping for a play or two with family; a play (ideally of Die Sieben Siegel) with the Lunch group; and the Wednesday Night gang might actually play something this week.

Or it all might fail. I think my best chance is the game with family, everything considered.
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12. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:218]
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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More work from home (which allowed for a solo play of Antiquity) and a visit to see my folks for a few days lead to some interesting play in...

THE WEEK THAT WAS


Rating: 8
Plays: 2


Having failed to get this played last Friday I took advantage in working from home this past week and set up a session to tinker on during breaks. I was doing so mainly to remind me of the rules and general flow of the game.

This paid off as I broke out a four player session featuring myself, Nicole, mom, and Jordan (a friend of my folks). A near unweildy beast teaching three newbies with frequent interruptions from our one-year old. Nicole and I were consistently pulled away and she eventually had to abandon the game altogether with Harvey at one point pulling down Jordan’s player mat; he got a free Saint Barbara blessing there.

Perhaps I should have sat out and just taught. While Nicole and Jordan caught on quickly, my mom was surprisingly confused throughout, though I think her pension for wanting to make and execute the best plan was really hampering her this time out. At the end of the session I had managed to win with Saint Nicolo (Nicole likewise built to this Saint before leaving) and only had my granary and cathedral feee from graves; everyone else was painfully circling the drain.

My wife was the most positive on it. She liked the building and low interference, commenting that while the game was easy to get it was hard to play well. Jordan liked it and said it reminded him of the various computer Civ and city building computer games he’s played. My mom was the most frustrated, always feeling the impending doom of pollution and graves, she didn’t like the fact that she was unable to get ahead and felt progress was an illusion; not too far off there. All three said they would play again if given the opportunity.


Rating: 9
Plays: 1


My folks consistently request certain games. Reef Encounter is a favorite of my mom’s (Nicole’s as well). I really like RE at three players; less randomness in cube pull but enough players for interesting shenanigans, of which there were plenty. The session involved myself, mom, and dad. Unlike Antiquity, this one played far faster and was easier for my folks to wrap their heads around, though both had played it about 6 months prior. Anyways, my mom did quite well in growing her reefs but ignored the open sea board for too long and suffered greatly for it in the end. My dad didn’t mess about with it that much either but noticed how worthless one of his reefs had become and subsequently abandoned his large yellow reef for a white which netted him 16pts in the end. I won 71-49-26.


Rating: 8
Plays: 1


Our one big game was Modern Art, which was played at a full five. This is my dad’s favorite game and he will always opt for it given the opportunity. This session added Destiny to the mix, a friend of Jordan’s and acquaintence of my folks. She wanted to play clue and uno but we were able to talk her into this. She complained most of the session that it was too hard and she never really got proper valuation down, much to my father’s joy who coasted to victory with over $300m. I came in a distant 4th followed by mom. Jordan and Destiny were separated by $1m for second and third.

This never strikes me as a hard game. I mean the current and potential values are easily seen and calcuable. It is a game where certain auctions mesh well with seating position and where a newbie can really throw the balance but that’s understandable in an auction game. I think I prefer this at four players best but it was nice to see my dad win this time. Also it’s been a while since I was so thoroughly beaten at this game which was nice.


Rating: 10
Plays: 1


The weekend ended with a very late Sunday night session of TGZ with Jordan. I had commented previously that this was my current favorite game and promised it would take less than a hour with the teach (play clocked in just under 30mins). Jordan took Engani, the rain specialist, and eventually built three primary craftsman/techs: wood, ivory, and diamond. I took Anansi and had a single primary potter. I built three monuments pretty much simultaneously with two getting to level 4 and the other to level 3. Jordan built one monument to level 3 and another to level 1. His score was 13/33 and mine 34/28. Jordan said this was his favorite game of the weekend and would love to try this again the next time I was in town.


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