GCL Amoeba 363 - Olympics
Chris Smith
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Welcome to this week's discussion list!

If you stumbled into this geeklist by accident, take a look at the links provided at the top. Constructive on-topic comments from visitors are welcome and we're happy about new regular contributors, but please refrain from adding items if you are not a member of this GCL.

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

[Other Amoeba alumni are welcome to ask to return to the hosting rotation! We'd love to have you back with us.]

Unless you live in a bubble, you probably know the Olympics are taking place right now.
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1. Board Game: Olympics [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:11212]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I'll watch any Olympic sport if it's on TV.
The CBC, Canada's national broadcaster, will have live streams to everything on their site. You can literally watch every sport, both Summer and Winter.

Do you follow the Olympics?
Any preference between Winter and/or Summer?
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2. Board Game: Track & Field Math [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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What's your favourite sport? Least favourite?

My favourite: Most races on the track. It's a pure sport that's accessible to everyone.

Least favourite: Any judged sport where someone tells me who won. Races that determine who's the fastest at a suboptimal means of forward motion (breast stroke, race walking, ...).
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3. Board Game: Sustainability [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Are the Olympics sustainable in their current state?
Do you care?
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4. Board Game: Eliminate: The Waste Minimisation Training Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Two more questions:
Any sport(s) you feel should be eliminated from the Olympics?
How about added?
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5. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:114]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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1 x _9_Age of Steam
1 x _8_Stone Age
1 x _8_Hero Realms
1 x _8_Unlock! The House on the Hill
1 x _7_Modern Art
1 x _7_Transatlantic

I had to skip the game night last week, I was watching over the school Valentine's Day disco. However, I managed to get some good game action going on later.

During the weekend, a my son had a friend over who wanted to play games, and we played Age of Steam, Stone Age and Modern Art over the weekend. That was cool, it was particularly fun to play Age of Steam. It's been couple of years from my previous play, and probably at least a decade from my previous go at the Rust Belt map. It was fun, even if the game was quite unusual (total lack of bidding makes the game... interesting).

We also tried Hero Realms with the Hero Realms: Boss Deck – The Lich and so far I'm not very impressed. It doesn't seem to improve the game; it probably is the most meaningful way to play multiplayer games, but perhaps this is essentially a two-player game.

The first scenario from Unlock! Mystery Adventures was fairly straightforward, easy and fun, with only couple of places where we needed a bit of a nudge.

Acquisitions

So, I've been eyeing Agra and when Fields of Arle: Tea & Trade arrived at the friendly local, I bought both of them. They should arrive today. Looking forward to playing them.
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6. Board Game: Careers [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:4913]
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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4x _5.75_ Triplock
2x _6.00_ The Waltzing Cat
3x _6.00_ Marvel Dice Masters
1x _7.50_ Age of Steam
1x _7.25_ Innovation Deluxe
1x _6.50_ Impulse
1x _6.00_ Merchants of Muziris
1x _6.00_ Vast: The Crystal Caverns
1x _5.50_ Lords
1x _5.50_ Bios: Megafauna (second edition)
1x _5.50_ Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Faerûn Under Siege
1x _5.50_ Target for Today
1x _5.50_ Careers
1x _5.25_ Napgammon
1x _5.25_ Kings of Air and Steam
1x _5.00_ Jam Dudel

Mainly some shorter games last week.

The new solo packs for Triplock arrived, so I played the first one. Still a decent dice puzzle game.

I got a copy of The Waltzing Cat from JoeH, and we played it last week. Good fun! It almost seems like the competitive version of Katteni Shiyagare.

I won three starter sets of Dice Masters in the EGG raffle (thanks again Lorna!), and we had good fun playing them. Though I don't really feel the need to collect stuff and make a "deck" for the game; I'll stick to Quarriors and random setups .

Another arrival from my US trip was the new Innovation Deluxe set. We immediately played with all expansions; great fun! As chaotic as always .

I also got the new Impulse plus its expansions in the mail, but I'm not sure the expansions really add that much (except complexity). I'll likely stick to just the base game. But I still like the game.

Another two I picked up were the last (I guess) Smallboxgames offerings Merchants of Muziris and Lords. Both fun two player games, starting from the same premise: on your turn pick two different actions and your opponent does another one. Merchants is a bit simpler, and I liked it better because of that.

We played the simple version of Bios: Megafauna (second edition), but that was a bit too simple. And ended in a tie due to B. having developed Language .

Target for Today is a re-implementation of the venerable B-17. I'll have to play more to see if I like all the extras and changes; it seems there's quite a bit more tables to go through each turn (though my memory of B-17 may be too rosy).

I hadn't yet logged a play of Careers, so had to fix that at some point. My copy does feature the Uranium prospector, but my biggest claim to fame was winning the Oscar after three Hollywood career paths.

Napgammon was a nice Christmas gift game from Hollandspiele, and quite decent at that. B. got much luckier in her dice rolls, and could field her complete army quickly. Since I couldn't roll more than 3+2's, I couldn't get reinforcements yet. But I could kill some of her units, and in the end that proved decisive as I could pin all her units while I got reinforcements.

I had not played Kings of Air and Steam before, but B. had played and liked it, so I got a secondhand copy when one came up. Good pickup and deliver fun, but nothing special except the need for good timing.
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7. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:220]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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 9.0   Antiquity x2
Brought Jon a tackle box so he could better organize the chits. Thirty minutes later I taught him the rules and we started playing. First game he forgot about wood and on turn two was out of the game. The second game played much differently, but eventually graves took over Jon's board while I had none.

 9.0   The Great Zimbabwe
Another game that unfolded in the same manner as many other two player games I've recently played. Opponent grabs Anansi first turns, I grab Builder, multiple craftmens, and win with Gu.

 8.0   Acquire x2
Finally gave this game a score. I'm pretty sure this is Jon's favourite game.

Both games played vastly different. The first game had an untouchable corp relatively quickly that consumed everything in its path. I was in on most acquisitions so made loot along the way while taking ownership of the mega-corp. In a first for us, the second game ended without hitting the auto-end condition for corp size. Instead we had four chains still around and the game finished when we couldn't lay a legal tile. There was no point in adding up final scores as it was obvious Jon had the win.

 8.0   Food Chain Magnate
Jon and I both rush Guru, but in the deciding round I sit everyone out except for a trainer. After Guru grab the radio tower and advertize lemonade since Jon had no means to get any for a turn. I had an errand boy along with his milestones.

 5.0   Ivanhoe x3
We finally played this with three players and it's much better than with two. Now there's a timing issue of when you should participate in the tournaments. The tit for tat event cards have to be played with consideration of that third player.

 5.0   Mini Rails x4 NEW!
I'm not sure about this game. I want to like it but it's missing something. After the first two or three rounds, the next three or four feel scripted. Once you see how the first shares get distributed it's about managing the delta and controlling taxation. If we revisit this game I'll probably lower the ranking unless something unexpected emerges.

Acquisitions
1 - John Company: The first purchase of the year.
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8. Board Game: Voodoo Prince [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:5076]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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5x Terraforming Mars
1x 1817
2x Sagrada
1x The Castles of Burgundy
1x Fast Forward: Flee -- New
1x Voodoo Prince -- New
1x The Builders: Middle Ages

I'll probably clean this up when my internet is working again.

Fast Forward: Flee was much better than I expected. I played it with Amanda and enjoyed the puzzle. I think it's probably best just as a solo puzzle game, but it worked fine with the two of us trying to puzzle out te puzzle together. A lot harder than I expected; it's something I'm looking forward to trying a few more times.

Voodoo Prince was better than most of the new tricktakers I've played/read the rules on. I liked it quite a bit. However, I can't figure out why the rules specifically direct for one hand's worth of cards not to be in play. I don't mind it in Clubs because Clubs is a lighter game. Is that what Knizia was going for in Voodoo Prince?

Finally, just a general question for folks. In the past week, I've twice felt underwhelmed about Spiel '17 releases. The first time was in reference to new heavy games. Someone said they thought Agra was a very good heavy game released at Spiel '17. I haven't played it and said I might try it, but personally couldn't think of any heavy games released at Spiel '17 that I'd expect to play two years from now. The second concerned going to a couple of game days with people who aren't necessarily all about the Cult of the New. Again, I struggled to think of any medium/medium-light games that I thought were good enough to bring (i.e., that I'd expect to be playing in a couple of years). Nusjford is one. Maybe Heaven & Ale? Possibly Rajas of the Ganjes?

So, I know it's only February, but my question is: are there games I'm not thinking of? What games (if any) released at Spiel '17 do you think you'll be playing two years from now?
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9. Board Game: Show Manager [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1033]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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 7   Thurn and Taxis -- Last week on Monday our numbers were down, and 4 of us wanted to play The 7th Continent, so Bill, John, Brett, and I chose this favorite of Bill's. Brett didn't think he had played it, but as we played, he realized that he had played it at some point. Bill is an acknowledged expert, but I got off to a pretty good start. However, I just could not draw a Pilsen card, and it's hard to do well without Pilsen. Brett began to make it clear that he wasn't enjoying the game; it especially bothered him that you were forced to use one of the helpers every turn even if you didn't want to. No one was surprised that Bill won with 21 VP; Brett finished second with 16.

 10   Saint Petersburg x2 -- Brett left at this point, and we played a 3-player game of Saint Petersburg. John did an excellent job collecting unique nobles, and though he trailed throughout the game on the score track, his large end-game bonus put him ahead at the end. It's certainly true that the player with the most unique nobles doesn't always win, but it can make the difference.

This Monday, Brett and I arrived early and started a 2-player game at 5:30 while the others were eating. On the first turn he built an Observatory and used it to take a worker. I built a Market. This left him with $16 and me with $19. When the two nobles flopped, there was a Mistress and an Administrator. Brett couldn't afford the Mistress, but he couldn't let me build it, so he took it into hand and I built the Administrator. In the upgrade phase I took St. Isaac's Cathedral. On the next turn, I got Potemkin's Village, which was a boon, and I was off to a large blue VP engine. At the end of the game he out-bonused me, 8 to 6, but I still won by a decent margin.

 8   Puerto Rico -- After Saint Petersburg we chose another classic game, Puerto Rico. Bill and I pursued similar strategies, and it was close, but he edged me out, 42-41. I don't play with 3 very often (most of my games are 4-player games at WBC,) so it was nice to see a different aspect of this game.

 8   Jump Drive x2 -- John went home, and the other table was finishing up their episode or whatever they were doing, so while we waited, Bill and I split a pair of game of Jump Drive.

 7   Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition -- One of the 7th Continent-ers went home, so we played this "dice game that's more complex than the base game." I drove myself down one or two blind alleys and finished dead last.

 8   18CZ -- On Thursday, Joe hosted his Fiscal Group for the first time in a long while, and I had my recently-arrived copy of 18CZ with me. We played a 4-player game. People often comment about how essential the acquisitions are in being successful in this game. In this game, I started and ran just 3 companies, and I did not make a single acquisition. I started the OFE small company in SR1 at $55/share and paid out every OR after the first, using value appreciation from Local Railways and sales from my other companies to keep it stocked with trains, including a permanent 4-train that reached a price of $196/share and paid $180 at the end (it may not seem like a lot, but that means the Director's certificate paid $90 each OR.) I started the KFN medium company soon thereafter at $100/share, disappointing Len, who was hoping to start it himself to work with his MW. The KFN did have to withhold once later in the game, but it too got a permanent train with help from my large company. The large company was the PR, which I started at $120/share. It bought a 4+4 for the KFN and a 4E for itself, and bought in my two remaining Local Railways, which generated enough value that the PR was able to buy a (permanent) 5E train. I won this game by about $700, though we made some errors (failing to apply the train limits as they reduced) that would have made my margin of victory smaller. So you do not have to acquire to win. The notable thing was that the PR was able to run two trains for some time with only one non-home station.

I have discussed with my wife the possibility of making a "train limit" display something like the spiral-bound display in Catan: Cities & Knights to help avoid making train limit mistakes. If it works, maybe we'll make more for others.

 10   1846: The Race for the Midwest -- Yesterday, after the 2-player Saint Petersburg game I described above, Brett, John, Joe Rushanan, and I played a game of my favorite 18xx title. I was 3rd in Priority order and drafted the Steamboat Company as my first choice. The second time around I had the choice of the Lake Shore Line and the Ohio & Indiana (and some more expensive things) and chose LSL in the theory that it might help me get to Cleveland faster. But it didn't turn out that way.

After SR 1, we had the following:

John: C&WI, Mail, 3 PA @ $80, $20 cash
JoeR: O&I, Big 4, 4 IC @ $60, $20 cash
Eric: Steamboat, LSL, 4 B&O @ $80
Brett: MS, Tunnel, 2 GT @ $100

JoeR looked at Brett and said "you should have launched GT at $50!" He also said that he was thinking of taking the B&O so I couldn't get it. I wouldn't have been too unhappy; I would have taken the NYC. You don't see many 4- or 5-player games in which the NYC isn't taken in SR 1.

It was quite interesting. My opponents were making as much money as or more money than the B&O through most of the game (and in fact, the B&O was tied for the 4th most valuable corporation at the end, way behind the GT and one space behind the PRR.) As a result, it was able to keep shares in treasury. In SR 2, the B&O didn't need more money, so I bought a GT share and a IC share. I couldn't afford to buy two GT shares, or I would have, and I chose IC because the PRR was going to end SR 2 with shares in the Stock Market. Later I bought more of my opponents' shares, buying B&O only much later as it was clear that it would make it to a 5 and a 7/8 easily. When purchasable shares ran out, Joe launched the C&O and I launched the NYC. Even though Cleveland had NYC, IC, and PRR stations, I knew that the NYC could get a western run with help from the B&O. Joe very effectively tokened out Dayton (!) with his two corporations, forcing me to build a bypass through the mountains south of it to Cleveland and the west. It was close, but I won to a large extent on the basis of my GT holdings. Another victory for the "don't have the best corporation but own the best stock" approach.

 8   Show Manager -- We finished up the evening with a 6-player game of this Dirk Henn gem. Geoff, Joe Huber, and I tried to go as long as we could without taking a loan on a production, making Dan (on our collective left) very unhappy. The ballet went to New York, with a 40-point performance, but a 43-point and then a 44-point production (mine) followed it. We all eventually took loans, but Joe Huber held out the longest and also went on to win the game, despite his 9-point King Lear in Bochum (which he reduced to zero with a $9 loan.)
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10. Board Game: Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:958]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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MittenCon weekend!
We started with
 N/A   My Village
 N/A  to mixed reviews. I am really torn on how to rate this one. My sister flat out doesn't like it. (Which isn't totally surprising given her tastes in games and that we started at 8 or 9 PM.

The next morning we started with  Queendomino NEW! I'd played King, but this was my first Queen. I liked the changes, but still see a use for King for more casual gamers.


 8   Magic Maze x14 was spread over three sessions each of which started with Scenario 1. I think we won five with the highest level including two security cameras. We did a victory lap with the dwarf one game to make sure that we used the dwarf door.

 9   Jump Drive x2 as a filler early one morning.
 N/A   Hardback NEW! was a fun word making deck builder. My wife liked it, so it's on my trade for list.
 10   Dominion
 N/A   with a suggested Nocturne/Adventure setup

Charterstone x2 I think I missed logging a game of this. All three were 6 player on the campaign that Hanson and I had started. It led to at least one copy being purchased.

 N/A   Viceroy I've Kickstarted the expansion, so wanted to play it to decide if I really wanted it. It passed.

 10   Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion x2 One without the Invasion with a newbie in five player. The other was a two player which I'd not tried before. It works fine as expected.

 N/A   Dominion: Nocturne Also a Nocturne/Adventure suggested setup.

 N/A   Dinosaur Island NEW! I need to try this one again, but if it takes 2 and a half hours again, I think I'll decide against it. But it definitely puts together familiar mechanics in a fresh way.
 9   7 Wonders with 6, again without leaders because no one knew the rules and we didn't feel like reading them Science dominated.

 N/A   Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant NEW! Closing game of the con with three newbies and one experienced player. I enjoyed it, but want to play again before deciding how much. We took three hours, but part of that was rules.

 8   Oh Hell! We played this at home after returning from the con.

 7   Murano Teaching game for three of them (and I had to use the rules to teach.)

Not listed was the 14 player double deck The Great Dalmuti that closed Saturday night.
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11. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:9.02 Overall Rank:1]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 8   Biosphere

Didn't quite finish and realized thanks to Jennifer S that I have been missing a rule for some reason regarding the tiebreaker track. Spaces other people are on are skipped.

 8   Gloomhaven x4

Three of these plays were my hero's solo scenario attempting to gain my special item. I failed all three times. Will try again this week.

 7   Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

This was fun to play again. Won fairly convincingly and was relatively quiet so clank was not much of an issue for me.

 7   Custom Heroes

Went to Strategicon for a day and enjoyed gaming with the crew there. Was fun to revisit this one.

 7   Imhotep

Very tight game with 43-42-41 scores.

 7   Noch mal! x2

This is a solid roll and write.

 6   Kribbeln

This one isn't as fun but is a decent replacement for Yahtzee.

 5   Fuji Flush

It works fine as a social game I suppose.

 N/A   Egghead NEW!

Party game I really don't need to play again. I don't really like party games where there is little guidelines for what is an acceptable answer except for group consensus.

 N/A   PaiMiahhh NEW!

Team trick taking game that reminded me somewhat of Bridge.

 N/A   Rondo NEW!

Enjoyed this one for the simple rule set with interesting play - probably best with two and solid with 3. Probably wouldn't want to play with 4.

 N/A   Unearth NEW!

This was interesting. I'd play again.

 N/A   Viral NEW!

There's some interesting things going on here but this game is nasty and fairly chaotic (but not random). Don't know that I have much interest in playing again though.

ACQUISITIONS:

Dungeon Dice with all the promos and stuff
Flag Dash curious and it was cheap
Tulip Bubble
Source of the Nile
Fool's Gold there was a comparison to Thebes in the digging here...
...and then, we held hands. decent 2 player co-op
Civility was curious but not sure I'll get it played
The Boss Solid little filler which also included 5-6 player expansion.
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12. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:138]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Anni and I played a couple of games at home this week.

_7_ Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 - This time, we played through March.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We received a note before the game that it would be particularly important to recon South America, so we made that our primary goal. Naturally, the game had other ideas, and many of the yellow cards were buried on the bottom of the deck. We started with a focus on getting the supply centers built, and in the process, we ended up drawing some of the "search" cities as well. I had some reservations about scratching these off right away, as it might be better to save that objective for a later month, but heck, discovering things is fun, so we ended up scratching off Atlanta and Chicago. So at this point, we were basically just waiting to get enough yellow cards to recon, but the yellow cards were not forthcoming, and the plague cubes were starting to pile up. I was still preaching patience while the incident marker was at 3, but it seems like just a couple turns later it had advanced to like 6 or 7, and we had our first outbreak. (Fortunately, it was just a very isolated London.) At that point, we were very much in danger of losing, so I just went to Denver and drew a couple more lines to satisfy that objective instead. We made the supply center in Sao Paolo permanent so that we could make sure to recon next month, but we are both a little concerned that the game only gave us 3 permanent supply center stickers to work with, and we've already used two of them.


_7_ Gloomhaven - We decided to give #19 Forbidden Crypt another shot, despite the fact that it seemed like we lost pretty badly last time. This time at least we knew our problem would be keeping Hail alive, and tried to get in her way as much as we could, difficult as that is with two players. We actually had some pretty amazing luck early on, and blasted through the first two rooms without breaking a sweat. Because of that, we were able to stay in front of Hail pretty well. Toward the end of the dungeon, Hail started getting a little ahead, but Anni took point and I (with my terrible movement) picked up the rear. We actually dealt with the elite Living Corpse without too much of a problem, and Anni disarmed the trap before Hail threw herself into it. Unfortunately though, we weren't able to prevent Hail from marching into the final room and getting surrounded by monsters, though Anni managed to get into that room as well, drawing some of their fire. I got in the doorway behind Hail and tried to range-strike everything, but unfortunately the Cultists took that moment to spawn new Living Bones. In the end, it came down to a final Living Bones attack--if it got a +1, it would kill Hail, but otherwise, Hail could move to the altar. Fortunately, we drew a +0 and were able to beat the scenario.


On Saturday, we hosted a game day for my birthday.

_6_ Smile (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Ken, Brian, and Micah; Ken and Brian had played before. I ended up picking up a bunch of mid-value cards early on, and filled up my tableau. Turns out higher-valued cards came out later (I think it was just random), and not wanting to run out of beads I had to pick up new cards and discard a lot of the cards I had planned on keeping. I did a fairly good job not being constantly poor, except for the one time I ran out and was forced to pick something up (which turned out to be somewhat to my disadvantage). The end of the game didn't go great for me, as I had to discard my only 4, but I still had a modestly positive score at the end. Micah ended up winning by a lot, somehow.


_9_ Notre Dame - This was with me, Brian, Ken, and Arthur; everyone had played before. As usual, I focused on cubes and money early on. Other players (particularly Ken) really focused on moving the car, so I generally stayed away from that, though I did move once because it was convenient. I had actually planned to move a second time once, but Arthur grabbed the message before I could, so I scrapped that plan and used my other card. I did actually have to use the doctor in this game, which I hate doing, but I think everyone else did that round too. The mid-game minstrel came in round 4, and I wasn't ready at that time to move cards into the park, so I ended up doing it the hard way. I did manage to get up to 6 cubes in the park, but I ended up being short scoring opportunities as I couldn't play any point house cards or Notre Dame cards in the last 3 rounds. I did decently and finished second, but Brian won by about 10 points.


_9_ Lewis & Clark - This was with me, Anni, Ken, and Mike; Mike was new. I was the last one to leave St. Louis, as I spent a lot of time early on acquiring indian boats and messing around with indians in general. I grabbed a card early on only because it was a 3-power card--I never used its actual ability all game. In fact, I always used it with my movement card, and moved 10 with my first move, taking the lead. I kept on the lookout for a good card that would help me with mountain movement, but one never came up at the right time for me, so I didn't actually get any more cards. Regardless, I still maintained the lead, and and got through the first set of mountains just as everyone else was getting in. However, it did take me a fair bit of time to get lots of different resources and turn them into horses, so my cycles ended up taking a little while. In the meantime Ken started catching up to me, thanks in large part to a card that let him turn one wood into a canoe. He managed to pass me in the end, and won the game when I was still three turns away from winning myself.


_7_ Lignum (second edition) (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Mike, and Steve; everyone was new. My main takeaway from the beginning of the game is that $5 doesn't buy you very much on the first turn. Mike jumped on a planned work that gave him a free hardwood, Anni ended up being the only player to buy a contract on the first turn, and I ended up being the guy who went around and picked up all of the rafts. Several turns later, when I decided to use a whole bunch of rafts, I ended up with no money on the following turn and had to take out a loan. A little bit later, I was $1 short on something and took out another loan. After that, my economy started recovering, and I started working toward completing my own contracts. Somehow I managed to amass large quantities of wood on my woodpile as well. I picked up two contracts over the course of the game, but one of them basically just canceled out my loans. I completed these without too much of an issue, and I was able to finally transport all of that wood home by the time the game ended. I ended up coming in 2nd, mainly due to final turns sales of largely unmilled wood, and Anni won on the strength of her two large contracts.


_9_ Terraforming Mars: Elysium - This was with me, Anni, Micah, Arthur, and Steve; everyone had played before. I was playing the Mining Guild, but somehow I was able to build up my energy production to a point where I could afford to use the card that let me convert 4 energy into two steel and an oxygen every turn. I managed to play a few garbage tiles to utilize the Mining Guild ability, but my board presence was otherwise poor. Despite there being a Thorium player in the game, I somehow just kept on raising and raising my energy production, but I never could find city cards to go along with that. I was hoping me pumping the oxygen would limit Micah the Ecoline player, but Arthur got out another card that pumped the oceans, and we just ended up having a really short game. I missed out on the milestones (the only one I found myself eligible for, Arthur grabbed before I got a turn), but I did fund the Industrialist award, which I won easily. However, as it often goes in this game, Micah had the best board presence and won easily. I came in fourth.



THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES

Smile is a light card game in which you're trying to amass cards of high values. Like the classic game No Thanks!, players have a number of beads that they can play to the active card to avoid taking it. Whoever takes the cards gets all the beads on it as well. There are two reasons why you might want to avoid taking a card--some of the cards have negative values, and if a player gets two cards of the same color, both cards are discarded. Players who take high value cards early on may find themselves placing lots of beads to avoid discarding it. While on the surface this seems very interesting, I found the game to be very chaotic. This isn't a show-stopper in a filler, but there are better fillers out there.

Lignum (second edition) is a board game about the lumber industry. Players have to cut wood, transport the wood back to their sawmill, mill the wood, fulfill contracts, and sell the wood. This game features a small amount of simultaneous action selection for claiming lots, but it's easily mitigated for those that find themselves in a bad position. The game centers around a path that players move their pawn down to claim various items--players can't move backwards along the path, and finishing first is rewarded by going first for wood cutting. There are a lot of planning elements in the game, from contracts that require wood be dried for a certain number of turns, to "planned work" bonuses that can be claimed, but only for a specific future turn. I was intrigued by the planned work idea, but found the actual bonuses to be rather limited--players can do fine even if they ignore that part of the game. The rest of the game seems to work together fine; I was happy with the game but it didn't blow me away.
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