GCL Amoeba 365 - The Top Shelf (2018-03-11)
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

Visitors are welcome and encouraged to post constructive comments, but please leave posting new items to the members. We're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) For more info on GCL and the Amoebas, please use the links above.

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


mb This week we're talking about shelving and game storage. mb
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1. Board Game: Group Photo [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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If you can, take a photo of your gaming shelves and post it here for everyone to see!
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2. Board Game: My Toy Shelf [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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What's your preferred type of shelving for your boardgame collection? What advantages does this have for you over other types of shelving?
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3. Board Game: Verticality [Average Rating:5.57 Unranked]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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The eternal debate--do you store your games vertically or horizontally? What's your justification?
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4. Board Game: After the Flood [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1655]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Do you have any stories about storage mishaps?
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5. Board Game: Pick Picknic [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1433]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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8.0  Gloomhaven

Played with Chris’ daughter and she chose the spellcaster...and we proceede$ to just breeze through scenario 3. She has some pretty cool cards! Chris and I both leveled our characters up to level 2.

6.2  Qwixx x3

My daughter has taken a shine to this one so it’s been pulled out for 3 straight game nights now...

8.0  Paperback

I’m not sold on this expansion yet. The additional cards and their abilities are fine, but the Typo cards may not be the best with two players, and I could see players with poorer wordcrafting skills getting stuck with these. The new book cards are okay as well...but both Caleb and I thought it made a game that already tended to go a bit long to go even longer. Playing this has also reinforced my preference for his newer release Hardback as well.

5.0  Blokus

I wound up winning this one after telling the rest of my family that I was terrible at this one...someone else should probably have been helping my daughter at times as well to make sure she was blocking me as well...oops.

6.5  Rummikub
4.5  Rack-O
5.5  Pick Picknic

Introduced this one at family game night and it went over very well...although Caleb ran away with it after getting off to a slow start. Luck of the draw can certainly affect this one. Kirsten was drawing mostly foxes...she profited from them the first half of the game but not as much later in the game, and she had very little corn.

6.0  Mystic Vale x3

Getting reintroduced to this one as it is now on Yucata and learning all the things you do NOT do in this one
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6. Board Game: Kingdomino [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I only played 4 games this week, partly because I missed my regular Monday night group because I had decided to fly back from California on Monday rather than take a redeye on Sunday, and partly because I went back to work on Tuesday. I'm mostly recovered from my treatment, but it will be a short return because I'm going to be retiring on April 1.

Here are the games I played:

 10   Empire Builder x2 (119 all-time) -- On Tuesday evening, Claire suggested that we play choo-choos (which usually means crayon rails.) I told her that I'd play whatever she set up, and she set up Empire Builder. We usually play 2 games back to back once we set one up.

 8   Kingdomino (4 all-time) -- Tonight she suggested playing games once again, and she asked me to teach her Kingdomino. "I thought I already taught you that game, and we played twice," I said, "but I'll be happy to play it." Once we had it set up she realized that she had indeed played it before, but we played again and enjoyed it (we both scored more than 40 points, which feels satisfying even if you don't win.)

 N/A   Hibernian Rails (15 all-time) -- Since Kingdomino was so short, we decided to play yet another game with Bob Stribula's prototype. It was odd, in that neither of us built to Larne (where you get Salt for big payouts down south,) but we both built to Donegal.
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7. Board Game: Charterstone Recharge Pack [Average Rating:8.66 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.66 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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 8   Gloomhaven x12
This is certainly my son's current favorite. It's fun, but I'd mix it up a little in a perfect world. We're still on first characters. I'm 7th level, but far from goal. He's fifth and will probably retire after the next adventure or two. (We "cheated" and know our party member's life goals.

 9   Charterstone x5 Two games in our new four player and three in the first one that I started.
 N/A   Azul A quick game after the two games above before calling it a night. I think this has moved to buy list (when available).

 8   Potato Man
 7.5   Lewis & Clark
 6.5   Century: Spice Road

The previous three were with one of Hanson's friends home for spring break and another of his high school buddies.

 N/A   Charterstone Recharge Pack I used this to record the campaign scores. Nate crushed Hanson and I, partially with his 101 point last game! But at least we beat the automas...
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8. Board Game: Agra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:1086]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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1 x _9_Pax Pamir
1 x _8_Agra (new!)
1 x _5_Unpublished Prototype (new!)

Agra looks great and plays well. We tried it with just two, and it works ok, just the workers are fairly static. I noticed Michael Keller is working on a two-player variant where a neutral worker will go around the board kicking out workers. That sounds like a good idea.

Agra isn't all that interesting as a worker placement game: there's not much tension, as you can go everywhere on each turn. But the resource conversion mechanism is interesting, the way you have to manage sixteen different kinds of resources is pretty neat and the delivery side of things in interesting.

Pax Pamir was pure awesome, as usual, even if I didn't really have a chance against a strong British opposition. Lots of spies this time, and interesting twists and turns, but nothing I could do, the British won the supremacy in two topples in a row, and I managed to get just couple of points with my spies.

The unpublished prototype was a Qwixx-like roll and write game, but it's going to need some work yet. As it was, it was too difficult and constricted.
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9. Board Game: Castell [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:2609]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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 9   The Castles of Burgundy (37 all-time)

Finally played this with the team expansion. It seems like it really extends the game as there is a good bit of talking back and forth with your teammate to figure out how to work together effectively. Not sure I'd do it often, but I must admit I was engaged in the game play and didn't think too much about the time except once or twice when the other team took a fair bit of time to talk through their options. You had to be careful to talk about strategy when it wasn't your turn so your opponents wouldn't block you, etc. We also played with the trade cards which were an interesting add. Score was 515-462 or so. (It took us 3.5 hours which seems long but as I said, I didn't think about it that much - still, that feels long after the fact for CoB!)

 8   Blokus Trigon (45 all-time)

Been a little while since I last played Trigon. I won thanks to placing my single piece last when another opponent also played out but had to use his single piece earlier to stay alive.

 8   Castell x2 (3 all-time)

Really enjoying this one and expect to dime it before the year is out.

 8   Claim x2 (4 all-time)

Taught a friend this solid two player trick taker.

 8   Gloomhaven (43 all-time)

Won again. I've just about leveled my sun knight as far as she can level.

 8   Hardback (2 all-time)

This took longer than expected time wise but played a base game with 5 players. Pulled out the win after an opponent was unable to draw the right cards to give him 10 points to eke out the win.

 8   The Hanging Gardens (49 all-time)

Two player game - this one is solid with two.

 7   Magic Maze x2 (5 all-time)

Taught a couple friends and played scenario 3 twice. Failed the first time and won the last time.

 6   Bamboleo (2 all-time)

I was impressed how Mike was able to balance the disc quickly each round. As a game, I'm less impressed with this one.

 6   Colorfox (2 all-time)

Don't think this is that good with 4. Best with 2 or 3 most likely.

 6   Majesty: For the Realm (2 all-time)

Won this one with over 200 points as I was able to gain quite a few majorities. Saw one opponent score a ton of points using the hospital and the building right before that and he ended up with 180 points or so despite all the injured workers.

 6   Voodoo Prince NEW!

This wasn't a bad trick taker. Twist was when you took your third trick you were done for the hand and you would score a points for each trick your opponent had taken when you went out - if you were the last player that did not go out, you'd just score a point for each trick you took.

 5   PaiMiahhh (2 all-time)

We didn't want to play Bridge style where the partner puts down his cards and doesn't play. Instead, we played that the player who made the winning bid gets to lead which seemed essential to still keep the game interesting. In that form, I'm willing to play.
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10. Board Game: Ulm [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:882]
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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 9.0   The Great Zimbabwe
A three player game where I snagged Tsui-Goab and the Shaman in the first two turns and managed to have my way the entire game; no one upgraded the craftsman I was using for my monuments. It was obvious how to slow me down but neither player wanted to eat more VRs to make it happen.

 8.0   18MEX
After dumping a trainless company on a player, I brainfarted in the next SR, bought a third share of two companies I had no business buying, and got two trainless companies dumped on me the following SR. I had $1300 of the $1400 required to buy the 4Ds, but there wasn't enough time to make those trains give the ROR I needed. Final score was winner $5800, second $5000, and I sucked the tailpipe with $4400.

 3.0   Ulm x2 NEW!
It's marginally better than Orléans. On your turn there's a 3x3 grid which dictates the action you can take. I don't know the name of the character, but one gives you a VPs if you create lines of identical actions. That's why this gets the bonus point. Otherwise scoring comes down to who accumulated the most sets of cards. I may be wrong in this assessment, I don't care enough to find out.

 2.0   Epic Card Game x2
Would anyone be shocked if I said the games were extremely swingy? The game is fun only because every second card is game breaking. I played Magic for nearly twenty years before I got into board games, so I appreciate Vintage on steroids. (Although there are no first turns wins here.)
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Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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5x _5.75_ Triplock
3x _6.00_ Wild Blue Yonder
3x _5.25_ Play Gauss
2x _7.00_ Fabled Fruit
1x _6.50_ The Castles of Burgundy
1x _5.50_ 秘密のサイン (Himitsu no Sain)
1x _5.50_ Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775-1777
1x _5.25_ Petrichor
1x _5.00_ 運命の人 (Unmei no Hito)
1x _5.00_ E.T.I.: Estimated Time to Invasion
1x _4.00_ Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate Game
1x _3.00_ The Skins Game

A nice week of gaming (do I say this every week?). Finishing up the solo campaign of Triplock; some give you fun puzzles though other scenarios simply need luck.

We played a teaching game of
Supply Lines of the American Revolution. Good fun; I like the focus on supplies. As the rebels, I got in an early victory on an isolated British unit, and was lucky to survive the counterattack. Slightly later I could massacre Boston, and we called the game at that point. Not sure how I would have survived the disbanding of my armies if I hadn't been able to take Boston though, but we'll see that next time around!

I also played my first 2p games of Wild Blue Yonder. Simplest setup - just a one on one dogfight. Great fun; even though the BF109 really dominated the Hurricane in all games.

Good to get some of the games from Play Gauss in; though most seemed very derivative (pun intended). But I really like the description and how it's tied into accomplishments from Gauss.

Petrichor arrived, and we played a 2p game of it. It's a decent area majority game, though the action choices you get may be too restrictive for me.

E.T.I.: Estimated Time to Invasion was good fun to play, though it's one big luckfest. And I have my doubts whether the alien player has any chance to win on the easiest game settings...
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12. Board Game: The Mind [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:1652]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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 10   Terraforming Mars x3
 10   Jump Drive
 9   Magic Maze x2
 8   Heaven & Ale x2
 8   The Resistance
 7.5   Nusfjord
 7   Lisboa
 7   The Mind x4 NEW!
 7   6 nimmt!
 7   ブレンドコーヒーラボ (Blend Coffee Lab.)NEW!
 7   Agra NEW!

A relatively ordinary week of gaming. We played The Mind with a 6 Nimmt deck and I found it more interesting than I expected. My one take-away is it needs to be played with people not interested in "gaming" the game.

Other than that, nothing special. Agra was good, but not one I feel I need to own. Happy to play someone else's copy though.
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13. Board Game: Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:590]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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On Thursday, Anni and I had time for another Gloomhaven session.

_7_ Gloomhaven - This time we played #52 Noxious Cellar. This is Anni’s personal quest scenario, so our hope here was that we could retire our first character. This was a bit of a strange scenario, as it basically split our characters into two completely separate dungeons, with the goal for each character being to reach the chest at the end. This wasn’t a problem for me, as the dungeon seemed to feature a bunch of little enemies bunched together, which really played to my Cragheart’s strengths. Anni was a different story though, as we had really been using her Scoundrel as a support character, and a lot of her cool tricks depended on having me next to enemies (also, she depends on my healing a lot). Due to some bad draws, she took more damage than expected in the first room, and decided to just try to dash through the second room. That didn’t work out so well, as the monsters all swarmed her, blocking her movement path, and eventually killing her. Seems like we’re going to need either a different strategy or a higher level before we can take on this one successfully.


On Saturday, we went to NJ and stopped at Don’s for his birthday game day.

_8_ Concordia: Britannia (new!) - This was with me, Anni, and Tom; everyone had played Concordia before, but no one had played this map. This map looked good for 3, and didn’t have any special rules (besides having different start cities for land and sea colonists), so we decided to try it out. From the beginning, I tried to execute what’s become my favorite Concordia strategy—the food/tools strategy. I was able to pick up the Farmer and Smith cards early in the game, and from there I just tried to build on every food and tool city on the map. I also picked up a couple of wine cities just out of convenience, which served me well for selling purposes. I also managed to have 3 cities in a single province which I had all to myself for most of the game, so that was a big advantage. By the end of the game, I had built in every food and tool city, had cities in all but one of the provinces, and had 5 colonists down. I won pretty easily.


_8_ Pulsar 2849 - This was with me, Anni, Don, and one other; only Anni and I had played before. We played the standard game because we had new players. Just to try something different, I decided to go all-out on transmitters this game. I hadn’t really seen a transmitter strategy work, and I was a little concerned that without the alternate tech boards from the advanced game it might be a little weak. I prioritized double-ended transmitters so I could make sure I could get the extra die every turn. I also got the tech that let me use +/-1 on transmitter dice, though a turn later than I wanted to. On the flip side, I sacrificed my positions on both the turn order tracks and the engineering track so that I could get the dice I needed, though I (barely) managed to stay out of the penalty zone. Also, I didn’t move my ship at all; the only time when my ship moved was when I got a free warp as a transmitter reward. So I was really rolling in the in-game points, but I was a little concerned about scoring a big fat zero for systems visited at the end. Fortunately, I was able to get the tech that gave me points for extra dice earned through transmitters, which was worth a ton. I ended up winning by a pretty good margin.


Later that evening, we went to my parents’ house to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. Naturally, there were some games afterward.

_7_ Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab (new!) -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This was with me, Lauren, and Mike V.; only Mike hadn’t played an Exit game before. I found this one to be a lot more straightforward than the previous Exit games I’ve played. Maybe it was just me though, as I think I ended up coming up with a lot of solutions—maybe I’m just more on the Brands’ wavelength with this one. In any case, this game made it fairly apparently which puzzle we were supposed to be solving, so we didn’t need any of the level 1 clues. We didn’t really get stuck on anything until the very end puzzle involving drawing a circle. Because the numbers were so small, and the error range of the circle was relatively large (because of the size of the holes), it was very difficult to determine which numbers they were going for here. We knew the clue wouldn’t help us here because we were pretty sure we were doing the right thing, so we ended up just guessing a bunch of possibilities until we got it right. We ended up finishing in about an hour with 9 stars.


_7_ Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin (new!) -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Same group here. Like the Secret Lab, this one seemed fairly straightforward all the way through and we always knew which puzzles that we were trying to solve. I did end up solving the domino puzzle before we knew which puzzle it went to, and I did it just by counting whether there were odd or even amounts of each value. We ended up hitting a fairly major roadblock in the middle of the game, involving counting the number of flowers on a particular card. The card pictured a vase with 3 flowers, plus four petals on the ground. We also had a hint from another card, something about flowers withering, but while that seemed like it should be helpful, it really wasn’t. We tried 3, 7, 4, and none of those worked. Finally, I had an off-the-wall idea—what if the petals were from another full vase, so the answer was actually six? That actually worked, but it turns out another card pictured a cabinet from the background of that picture open with another vase inside that we never thought to look out. The DECABOR anagram puzzle at the end was a little bit of a stumbling block too, since apparently we’re all bad at anagrams. It wasn’t until Mike pulled out the word “code” that I could figure out barcode. Nonetheless, we still finished in around an hour, and again with no clues and 9 stars.



THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES

Britannia is an expansion map for Concordia. Like in Germania, players start with their land colonist and their sea colonist on two different cities, though in this case, they are very close to one another. The rules changes end there, though; this is really just a smaller map intended for lower player counts. It doesn’t really feel any different from base Concordia, and I like it about as much.

The Secret Lab is my favorite of the Exit games that I’ve played thus far. Unlike other games in the series, in this one it’s fairly obvious which puzzle you’re supposed to be working on at any given time. The puzzles themselves in this game were both varied and interesting, but at the same time there didn’t seem to be any huge logical leaps that players would get roadblocked on. The final puzzle was a bit tough because of the graphic design, which was a little disappointing. I do enjoy the science theme too, even if it is mostly window dressing. Good fun.

The Abandoned Cabin is another Exit game in which it’s pretty obvious which puzzle you’re supposed to be working on, which is definitely a good thing. While there was one puzzle that I don’t think my group would have gotten even if we spent a lot more time on it, in general I think this one was easier than The Forgotten Island or The Polar Station. Most of the puzzles were fun to solve, and I enjoyed this.
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