GCL Phoenix 376: Forty (18th March 2018)
Rich P
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Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Welcome to the 376th instalment of GCL Phoenix discussion lists. More information about the group can be found here and info on GCLs in general is here.

Members are encouraged to add an item to the list and we love comments and discussion from visitors too. Please thumb the list so we know you stopped by.

Our current roster of active members is as follows:

familygaming
grasa_total <Next!>
indigopotter
John Rogers
karlfast
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rynelf
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Tigrillo
woodnoggin

Previous Phoenix members who are always welcome back:
archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, darker, Dormammu, Eeeville, enzo622, hawk-x-, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, ravenskana, Smintie, TheRocketSurgeon, tjshields, topherr, Yokiboy.

I had known for a while that my next turn in the Geeklist-making rotation would fall on or around my 40th birthday, so I'd planned a birthday-related theme for it. Imagine my surprise when I noticed last week's Meatballs Geeklist was on the theme of turning 40 too. Looks like I'm not alone in being unable to fend off the new decade any longer. Now rather than copy what John did there, instead I'm going to take a different tack and use the birthday gaming weekend as a jumping-off point for some non-birthday questions. I am going to steal the Geeklist title, though.
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1. Board Game: Patience [Average Rating:4.78 Overall Rank:15131]
Rich P
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Sheffield
United Kingdom
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For my birthday last weekend, some friends kindly indulged me in playing a couple of games I'd been wanting to try for a good long while. I had owned Age of Steam: Netherlands for three days short of 11 years before finally trying it. Liberté only took 7 years to get to the table. I had to use turning 40 as an excuse to put them there!

What's the longest you've waited between purchasing a game and finally playing it? Why the delay? What's the most effort you've put in to arrange a game? How about the furthest you've travelled to play one?
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2. Board Game: Just Wait [Average Rating:5.92 Unranked]
Rich P
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Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Both of the above games went down really well. Are there any games where you kicked yourself for waiting so long to play them? Conversely, any games you waited so long to play that your tastes had changed in the meantime and you wondered why you bought it in the first place?
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3. Board Game: Chase Large Numbers [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Rich P
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The Netherlands map has one of the largest player counts of any Age of Steam expansion, allowing seven players at once, making it handy for large group gatherings. It wasn't the biggest group game of the weekend, though: I think we had 12 playing Codenames at one point. What's the largest group you've ever played a game with? What are your favourite games that play best at maximum player count?
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4. Board Game: Life Begins at 40 [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Rich P
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Since it was my 40th, I vaguely considered seeing if I could play forty different games in one day. Even if they were short, ten minute fillers it would still take me around 7 hours to complete the challenge. But would it actually be any fun, or just a feat of endurance? In the end, I was rather too ill to go through with the idea, although I had made a Shortlist of Short Games I considered to be suitable.

How many games were played on your busiest ever day of gaming? What's the most different games you've ever played in one day and how did you feel after playing so many?
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5. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2240]
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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Hey all,

I'm going to go a little bit off the format we usually post the games we play here because I haven't posted last week about the previous week that was LeiriaCon!!

So this entry will have the games I played the week of LeiriaCon and the following two weeks, hope you like it and if you have questions feel free to ask!

Before LeiriaCon started I hosted
Peter Dringautzki
Germany
Berlin
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in my home... so we did a little sightseeing and also played some games, not many but we played some.

Baseball Highlights: 2045
This was the first game Peat haven't played it before and since it's a 2P game it's not that easy to get it played so I jump at the opportunity to play it with him... This is one of my Favorite games, it's really really great how it meshes the sport with a very cool deck-building system that's easy to understand even for those that don't know Baseball... a fantastic game that I want to see translated to other sports!
Peat played it for the first time, he won and said he liked the game a lot!


Harvest
Another new game for Peat, you guys already know I like this one a lot, played with a new farmer power and it seemed great during the game, was doing a lot of cool stuff and it seemed I was going to slaughter Peat... in the end I won by 1 Point!!!
This game is great great great... Peat also liked it a lot, he wanted to play it again but sadly it didn't happen


Treasure Lair
This was a game new to me and Peat, I had seen the video from Rahdo and liked it so I ordered it... The gameplay was interesting but I wasn't blown away by it, at least at 2P




Now the good Stuff... LeiriaCon time!

To start let me tell you, I've been going to LeiriaCon for about 4 years, I think, and this was the best one ever... to me was even better than Essen, they are very different cons but the experience this year was just amazing due to all the Industry people that were there and that are genuinely AWESOME people, some I already knew, others I didn't knew but I can say I made a lot of friends because I got to hang out with them for most of the convention, either Playing games, or just talking, eating (breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) or drinking... it was just fantastic!!!

Regarding the games (in order played):

The Mind
Played this one 10 Times!! It's a fantastic filler game, I think that by now everyone has heard of this but if you didn't go watch the last episode of Game Night on the BGG Youtube... We played more hardcore, with only 3 lives instead of 4 and no shouting Stop so that people stop and be able to avoid someone playing before you... I didn't like the stop thing in the video because it signals that you want to play a card before anyone else does it... It's much more fun to just be in silence and play
AWESOME game!


Revolution 1828 (Gebiestmanager)

This is one of the next Stefan Feld games to be released and if you just sit down at the table to play it you would never ever say it's a Feld game!!
The theme of the game is that you are candidates in the first Election where there was dirty tricks pulled to gain advantage over the opponent.

It's a 2P game, it plays fast and it is very very interesting. You have 6 "districts" and each has 3 chips in it, there are several different types of chips in the game that when you pick up can give you a special action or count towards a majority of voters of one color.

The game plays in 4 rounds, where each player picks a chip at a time trying to get Majorities (better if they can get a Monopoly, all voters of one color) trying also to be the one that clears each district because if you do you take another turn immediately.
This is a very light summary of the game but I have to say, I was very surprised, it's a very simple game but it's a very thinky game too, you have to map out the way you want to pick up the good things and force your opponent to do moves that probably they didn't want to do.

Liked it a lot!



Caylus

Next up was the first time I played Caylus... had only played once on an App and didn't get too excited about and that was years ago...

Sat down to play this and thanks to a great teach from Edward from Heavy Cardboard I proceed to wipe the floor with the others
It was a very cutthroat game, oh yes it was! It was just fantastic!!

There's a new version coming out this year and I'll be picking a copy for sure


Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog

The final game of the first day was a playtest for the prototype for the latest game from
Nick Case
England
Epsom
Surrey
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He had previously designed The Front Nine and Nimbee so I sure wasn't expecting that gorgeous looking prototype to hit me in the face with 3 hours worth of great gameplay!!!
It's a semi-coop worker placement game with a theme of a cartoon TV series from the 60's in Britain... it was only a prototype but the production was amazing, the artwork done by the same artist that did the cartoons back in the 60's and great gameplay!

It was considered by many the biggest surprise of the con and there are already lines cued for when the KS launches!


And that was that for the first day...


FRIDAY


Captains of the Gulf

Another BIG BIG surprise for me... this is one of the next games from Spielworxx and the first game from designer
Jason Dinger
United States
Louisiana
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and man what a start this is from Jason!! I simply LOVED IT!!!

In this game you are a Fishing Company and will try to be the best one in the Gulf...
The player board is very reminiscent of La Granja where you have Multi-Use cards that can be slotted in different places of that Player Board, your Boat...
So a card can be used for 4 things:

1- On Top of the card you have the Fishing License - You slide it under your boat on top leaving only the license that allows you to fish Shrimp, Oysters or Crabs and each license allows you to fish one time per turn, so if you want to fish more than one shrimp for example you have to have more than 1 shrimp license.

2- On the Left of the card you have the Crew - These are people that you hire and slide on the left side of your boat that give you special powers

3- On the right of the card you have Equipments - These are upgrades you can do to your boat, increasing the Fuel Tank, Increasing the Storage capacity of the boat, etc, etc...

4- In the middle of the card you have the Fish you catch if you use the card for fishing

The actions you take are in a rondel and you can imagine how that works... There's a board where the action takes place with 3 harbors and the Gulf sea where you have to move your boat and catch the fish, then maybe cook it to make it more valuable and deliver to the harbor.
Moving the boat costs 1 fuel per hex, so you have to manage the fuel, etc...
The way the sea gets populated with Fish is also very cool, there are events each round that can change your plans...

There are also a lot of ways to score, one track for each Harbor, there were scoring for fishing in different zones, scoring for equipment and crew...

All this is subject to change but what I can say is that I was very impressed by it and have no doubt I'll be getting a copy of it!


Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea

Next up was another prototype play, this one from the Gentleman, The Sir Tony Boydell

This is the sequel to the amazing Snowdonia, if you played it you will be instantly familiar with Alubari but they aren't the same game with a different setting.

I prefer Snowdonia, I prefer it's harshness, Alubari seems to me a bit lighter a bit easier to do things do to the power of the "Chai actions", you do basically the same actions as in Snowdonia but if you have "Chai" (instead of coal) you can use it to do overpowerd actions in each spot you send a worker, for example when you send a worker to the Stockyard to get resources, if you spend 1 Chai your worker gets to pick 2 more resources, so instead of 3 you get 5, and those 2 extras can be all Chai
if it's available!!! It's insanely powerful!!!
And you have these same insanely overpowered Chai actions in all the actions spots, so with one worker you usually do the same that 2 or more workers would do in the same location in Snowdonia... This for me makes the game a little less interesting.

I think it makes it much more fun for people that like easy going games but I heard most of the people there saying they prefer this one to Snowdonia, I don't agree, I think it's a very good game but for me Snowdonia is better (well it's on my Top 5 of all time so it wouldn't be easy to de-throne it!)

I have to say I preferred the way the Events are done in this one over Snowdonia, it's a Rondel Event wheel.


Foothills of Snowdonia

And time for another prototype from Mr.Boydell, this time was a 2P only game. I think the name is probably going to be only Foothills but I sure prefer to add the "of Snowdonia" part to it.

This is another great great game... the main mechanism is extraordinary where each player has 5 cards on the table and those cards are the actions they can perform but once they do the action on a card it flips to the other side and now the action of that card is different and to do the other action again you have to flip this card over either by doing the new action on it or by doing an action on another card that allows you to flip over other cards...

The actions cards you have also have a scoring bonus for the end of the game on top that if you go to the Pub with your surveyor, you can retire that action card to be used for end game scoring and then you get a new action card from the stock that is a little different from the one you had.

You are still clearing rubble, laying tracks, building stations, having your surveyor moving from track to track but you have 5 (if I recall correctly) different Tracks of the railway instead of one continuous like you have in Snowdonia.

Another great game!!!


Nusfjord

To end the second day I sat and read the rules for this one... and after finishing I liked it but wasn't over the moon...
the fact is that I talked about the game a little after finishing it, I talked about it the next day, I talked about it on Sunday and every time I talked about it I was getting more and more enthusiastic! It was sinking in! Ended up buying a copy!

It's a very simple game, a very fast game (a 3P game of all first timers learning the game from the rulebook on the spot took 1h15) but I have to say it's a great game... good to see Uwe getting back to good form (with this and Reykholt!)



SATURDAY



Escape Plan

Saturday started with another playtesting session, this time it was Escape Plan from Vital Lacerda and man, Vital took some of the feedback he got from the last time I playtested this and made the game even better, he cut somethings off, streamlined it a little more cutting the play time a little and making it even more interesting... the game is in it's latest stages of development but it's progressing massively! (well, Vital is a work horse, he did around 13 playtesting games of it at the Con!!)

This one is like you know very different from his normal heavy games, it's more simple and much easier to grasp, I would say anyone can play it but it doesn't mean it's a simple game, it isn't there are still many things to consider in each action you take because there are many shiny things that can distract you from the main goal!



Lux Aeterna

Another prototype play for a game from Tony Boydell... I think the Brit should pay me something!! I even got
Matthias Nagy
Germany
Berlin
Berlin
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to play it and he was so impressed that they started discussing business for possible publishing partnership right there!!!

This is a solo game, (Yes, I PLAYED A SOLO GAME AT A CON!!!!) with multi-use cards that you have to assign to 3 different actions.

The theme is that you are alone in a space ship in space and you are having problems and have to fix the ship before it gets completely destroyed or gets sucked into a black hole!

In each turn you will draw 4 cards, in the first turn you'll have 4 cards in hand, and you'll have to assign one card to do the damage to the ship that is represented on the card, you'll have to choose a card to perform the action listed in it and another card to move the ship closer to the black hole. The 4th card you keep for next turn, meaning that next turn you'll have 5 cards in hand, and to the same, one to do damage, one to do the action, one to move to the black hole, one to keep and discard the other one.

You also have 6 (if I recall correctly, could be 5) cards in the table that represent spaces of the ship (navigation, engines, etc) and each card has a die on it of the respective color that tracks the damage. If the die would go bellow 1 that part of the ship is destroyed and the bad thing that's listed on the card happens. If the die would go above 6 that part of the ship is permanently fixed and you would put it in your score pile and apply the good effects it provides.

When a part of the sip is fixed or broken for good, you can only choose to apply damage to those parts if you have no other choice, so you can't keep applying damage to parts of the ship that would have no effect unless all cards would apply damage to that part of the ship.

There are also some anomaly cards that are placed in the lower two third of the draw pile (shuffled) that if they are drawn you have to resolve them and they are all bad effects. You have ways to remove these cards from the deck if you choose to perform the actions on the cards that allow you to remove them... if you remove them they will give you victory points if you don't you don't get penalized in points just in the bad events that happen.

Each system card for the ship (the ones where you place the die) had 5 or 6 different versions making the game extremely replayable because these can change the way you play the game.

Tony also talked about making a game mode like a campaign where you have challenges and achievements that you have to beat and unlock making the game more challenging each time.

He also talked about playing the game with a timer, so that players would have a pressure to be fast in choosing what to do with each hand of cards.

The game is very very interesting, despite being a solo game that I usually don't like, but this one gets rid all of the things that make me not look for solo games, the setup is easy and fast, and the game is very interesting and also fast! The only thing it doesn't fix is that it's a solo game.

This was a Huge surprise for me!! Can't wait to see it published!



Reykholt

This is the next Uwe Rosenberg and it's coming from Frosted Games and like I said above when talking about Nusfjord, Uwe is back to good form

In this one you are getting Fields to sow crops, to harvest them, to exchange them for progress in a "race" track a little bit like At the Gates of Loyang but without the cards that you "drafted"... in this one there's a comunal worker placement board and you have 3 action discs and it's first come first served on those slots in typical worker-placement fashion.
There are also cards that will be in play that players can get and after a player has one the neighbors can spend an action to be able to share that card (only one neighbor per card).
you have to build an efficient producing engine to be able to advance on the track.
Very cool game and the artwork that Matthias showed us was excellent!


Familiar's Trouble

Next up was another game that Frosted Games is bringing to Europe, this is an older game from Japan (I think) and it's a co-op Trick Taking game!! What?!?!? Co-Op Trick Taking?!?! Yes... I wasn't very impressed by it because I'm clearly not the target audience for this, I don't usually like Trick Taking games and Co-op's I like a little bit better but still not my preferred thing.

The other players liked it a lot, so much so that they played it another session right after we finished, they just substituted me


Empires

To end the Saturday with a bang I played Empires from WizKids with 7 (some of them very drunk) boardgame industry guys:
Uli from Spielworxx
Matthias Nagy from Frosted Games
Nick Case
Tony Boydell
MeeplePeat
Adrian Richardson (The Kardashian of Boardgaming - The Ambassador of Gaming) from the podcast Mile High Game Guys
Lucian Pleianu - The administrator of the biggest Romanian boardgaming forum

This is a negotiation game and you can only imagine how this went... it was amazing, after 3 days of being together, play together, eating and drinking together... it was amazing... there was so much name calling and threats and... well you think it we probably said it!!

In this game each player represents a colonial European nation that is competing to gain the most support. Support is won by supplying your people with goods; goods are produced when your people work in your territories. You can gain people, territories, goods, and supporters by winning wars. To win wars, you must pay gold to raise armies, and gold can be earned by winning wars and by selling goods.

All turns are taken simultaneously, and there are no restrictions on trading. At any point in the game, you may trade anything: people, territories, goods, gold, player powers, etc. The game takes place over a series of rounds. At the end of the final round, the player with the most support wins.

This seems to be a streamlined Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant because it doesn't have that part of using and transforming resources in new techs, etc... and I have to say it's amazing!



SUNDAY


Only one game was played on Sunday, it was:

Wendake

In this game you are the Chief of Native American Tribe and you have to manage the most important aspects of their lives.

The action selection is the core part of the game and it's wonderful, you have a grid of 9 action tiles and the first action you choose can be any but that choice will limit the second choice because you can only do choose an action in the same row, column or diagonal of the first action, and when you do that you are locking in your final action too.

After the round is done, you will flip all the action tiles you used that round to the tribal side and that means you don't have access to that action again until you flip it to the other side, the tribal side allows you to send warriors or women to the base camp so that you can move them on the board with other action.
At the end of the round you also push all the tiles down one row, so the tiles on the bottom row go off the player board, you them flip all those tiles to the action side and in turn order you select a new and improved action tile from the board to replace one of the tiles that just were pushed out of your player board, after you make that selection you shuffle the 3 tiles and place them in the first row of your player board.
These new tiles are improvements on the actions of the starting tiles, not that they allow you to do the same actions better, no, the tiles now have 2 instead of 1 action in them, so with one tile you perform 2 different actions instead of just 1! and latter those tiles will allow you to perform 3 actions!

Let me tell you, the game is simple but it's thinky... it's GREAT!!!

And that was that for LeiriaCon... I highly recommend you guys to come in 2019 if you can, this was by far the best Con I ever attended, so many great great people from the boardgaming world that you get to know and see in a very different light... it's 4 days of pure enjoyment and fun... way to much fun!!!



----------------------------
WEEK OF 5/3 to 11/3
----------------------------


Cake or Death

Played this 3 times that week, this is a game that is being playtested and developed to be on Kickstarter in the near future and I'm a part of that process.

This is a very very simple game from Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert coming from LudiCreations

I can't say much about it but it's improving greatly with the playtesting, still it's a filler game, 20 minutes top (in a 4 player game)... the base version was way to simple for my taste but with playtesting and feedback it's getting more interesting for gamers without making it too complicated to non-gamers or people that play mostly lighter games (the target audience)


The Bloody Inn with the The Bloody Inn: The Carnies expansion

I love the bloody inn, it's dark theme and art are right up my alley and the expansion introduces new things that make it even better... the only part of the expansion I didn't like was the Events introduced by the Carnies that bring way too much chaos to the game... these events only come into play when Carnies enter the Inn and will only happen if the Carnies are still in the Inn at the end of the round, so you can try to take them out, either by killing them or hiring them if you don't want the event to trigger, but this just derails you from what you want and were doing and costs you time and time is already short in this game for the things you want to do!

I will gladly play with all the modules of the expansion but next time I won't use the events to see if it feels better, I bet it will!


Happy Salmon

30 seconds of craziness to show my wife what this game is... like this one a lot!


Majesty: For the Realm

Already talked about this one here, like this a lot, very simple fast game, still have to try the B-sides of the locations


Avenue

This was the week of the lighter games
This one is very cool and can be played by the whole world at the same time
I was very happy to see my routes building magnificently and scoring an amazing 80 points!!! My previous best was 48 and all the scores in the sheets of all plays in my box from many different players were never higher than that!
João managed to score 105 POINTS!!!! OMG!!!!


Great Western Trail

A 2P game of this one... it scales so well and plays beautifully and another victory for me This is a great great game!


Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

This was a very close one...Eduardo led for most of the game, I made a great end game run leading the game in the last rounds but Eduardo scored better in the final scoring and won

WINNER IS EDUARDO CRUZ AS GREEN (246 PTS)
2nd is Paulo Renato as Purple (231 pts)
3rd is Joao Carlos as Grey (194 pts)
4th is nogud nogud as Orange (181 pts)

Game ID: #7421490

Confrontation History
Me – 10
Nuno Ascenção – 9
João Carlos – 5
Eduardo Cruz – 3


----------------------------
WEEK OF 12/3 to 18/3
----------------------------


Incómodos Invitados

This is a Spanish game from 2016 that tried recently to get an English version on KS and failed and man, that's a CRIME!!! This game is AMAZING!!!

This is a Competitive Deduction game where you have to investigate and solve the crime by saying who did it, why and with what weapon (and in higher levels who are the accomplices).

Yes it sounds pretty familiar, but it's simply great! The game consists of 249 cards (give or take) and in each case there are 70 cards used that are listed in the case...

It just blows my mind how they can come up with this... There are 3.600 different solutions and millions of different games. You will never play the same game twice!! and with the app they can just make more cases...
The brilliance here is that the cards don't change, card #1 will always say the same thing for every case and somehow there are 3.600 different solutions and millions of different games!!!

The way you get the information is by trading it with other players... at the start of the game you get a number of cards depending on the number of players and that's your starting information... you have a player sheet with all the suspects, a plant of the house, the pathways that can be done in the house, the weapons that can be picked up in each location, a list of the weapons and the physical evidence on the body.

and with those cards you start crossing off things in the list, you can start confirming alibis for where the suspects were when the crime was committed, you have information from the helpers and police, etc...

But to get new information you know have to trade your cards with the other players, so you are also giving them information... so on your active turn you can ask for information on 2 things, Suspects or Locations in any combination, be it one suspect and one location, two suspects, two locations, and the other players will offer you card that have to do with what you are asking for, if the cards they have don't have any information about what you ask they can't offer them.

The cards have an information value that ranges from 1 to 3, so the players can offer any number of cards they wish and, in turn order, they place them down with a token on top of them with the total value of all the cards they are willing to trade... after every player has offered cards the Active player will decided with how many of them he wants to trade and he has to give each of the players he wants to trade with a value of cards that is at least the same as he is getting but he can give information about anything, he's not restricted to the information he asked for.
If now one offers any info to trade with the active player he just draws 3 cards from the top of the deck and gets that information!

After everyone was the active player, players will secretly decide if they want to try to solve the case by using a token that they reveal at the same time... if no one wants to try to solve it a new round will begin, each player chooses 3 cards from the ones they have to keep and discard the rest and then they fill up their hand to the normal hand size, getting new information this way and new cards in play! And then the 1st player token goes to the next player Anti-Clockwise, so the last player in the previous round becomes the first this round.

If someone try to solve the case and they fail, they are out of the game and all the cards in their hand go to the middle of the table proving information to all the players!

When the deck runs out, the discard pile is shuffled and 3 cards are placed face-up in the middle of the table for everyone to see, this can be information that you already know but that someone else hasn't seen yet!

This is a great deduction game... very very interesting and with amazing replay ability with just those cards!

Can't wait to get my hands on the English version... really hope they relaunch the Ks soon!


Who Should We Eat?

Played this 2 times this week.
This one is sort of a party game a where the players are stranded in a desert supernatural island (like Lost) and have to build a raft to escape.

The problem is that they have to eat and if there's not enough food for everyone, someone will have to die to provide some food for the others!
But we are still human and killing someone is not something done lightly and it costs us our sanity!

So, we have to manage to get food, to keep our sanity and build the raft... easy... but people will die, and if people die it's not that bad because the raft then doesn't have to be so big because there's less people to go on it

the problem is that people that die will come back as ghosts and try to mess with the survivors.

Very very cool game and it plays excellently with large groups of people, we played with 5 and 8 and it works like a charm (and it plays up to 10)


Joking Hazard

This is a game in the vein of Cards Against Humanity but with the Cyanide & Happiness cartoons... it can create some very funny strips, and you already know it, some very offensive ones, etc...

It's not a game for everyone and you have to be on the right mind set and with the right group to play it... I liked it but I think that despite the artwork being able to cause amazing things, the "writing" is funnier in Cards Against Humanity

And that was that... sorry for such a long post but it was a recap of 3 weeks, the first two were supposed to be posted last week but I just didn't have the time to finish it before Saturday so I thought it was better to delay posting one or two days and put all in this weeks GL.

Let me know if you have any questions
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6. Board Game: Castell [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:2747]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Afternoon and Evenings w/S

 7   Castell x3 New!
I follow a couple dozen blogs and one of the more active ones is All the Meeples of the Rainbow. It was Steph Hodge's enthusiasm for Castell that made me do some more research into the game before finally buying it a couple weeks ago.

I figured it would be a good fit for S and I because it looked to have fairly simple rules, but with some decent decision-making, and looked to play pretty fast. It also helped that has tiles and tile-laying and that theme is unlike any other game in my collection.

In Castell, players travel around Catalonia with their teams of castellers performing feats of human strength and balance by building human towers.

Castell is played over ten rounds. In each round, a player can do each of the three main actions once (in any order) and take one bonus action if they wish. The three main actions are: move, train and recruit castellers.

Move allows the player to move from one region to an adjacent region. Train allows a player to improve one skill. The skill improved depends on the current region (and skills basically allow the player to break the rules when building a castell). Recruit lets the player add two castellers to their team from the available pool in the region (which gets restocked every second turn). Castellers come in ten different sizes (smaller ones can balance on bigger ones) and, due to festival scoring (and size tokens), some can be more desirable than others.

In addition, the player can sacrifice one of their bonus action tokens to take one of three bonus actions: move (exactly as above), recruit (but only one casteller), or perform for the locals. This last requires the player to build a human tower that matches one of two "design" tiles associated with that region. If the player can match it, they get the tile (which is worth VPs at the end of the game).

At the end of the turn, if there is a festival in one (or more) of the regions of Catalonia, players that are in the region(s) can participate by building the tallest tower that they can using casteller including those of a particular size (as required by the size tokens associated to the festival). Players are awarded VPs tokens for having the best towers. In addition, if the tower is the best that the player ever built, the point value is recorded on the score track. This becomes every player's base points for end game scoring. On top of those base points, players get additional VPs for each region that they successfully performed in (either at a festival or by doing a local performance). Then players get points for their award tokens and "size" tokens.

So while the rules are easy, there's a lot players have to process. They need to recruit a balanced team (roughly a pyramid of appropriately sized casteller tiles), but also get the castellers that match the size tokens of the festivals they intend to participate in. Players also have to train for the appropriate skills to help them build towers taller and to create specific designs required in local performances. So while moving around to be the right place to recruit and train, players also need to make sure their in a location close enough to get to the next festival and/or local performance.

The game is growing on me. After the first game, I felt just a little disappointed that it didn't wow me. Three games in, I'm liking it a lot more; the trying to balance all the options and plan ahead for not just one festival but a number of them was frustrating at first, but it's gotten better with practice.

If my enthusiasm for Castell continues to grow, it might even go up a notch in my ratings.


The Week Ahead

No plans, but I did splurge and order Transatlantic, No Retreat! The North African Front, and my first COIN, Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain.

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: Transatlantic, No Retreat! The North African Front, and Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain.
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7. Board Game: 1844/1854 [Average Rating:8.19 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.19 Unranked]
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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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 17Mar2018:

5/15/81 plays of 4/10/50 total games, with 0/5/17 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/11/38 distinct opponents.

1/1/4 games acquired (plus 0/0/5 expansions.) - Botts and Balls.
0/0/0 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
1/2/4 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.) - Schnäppchen Jagd.
Orders for 5 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With family:

image by evilone

1x _8_ Outpost (22 total plays)

(With brother #3 and son #2): I can't recall the last game where I played so poorly! I tripped on the Era I to Era II step, and was quite dramatically behind thereafter. Son #2 made a short run for it, but it wasn't particularly close in the end. Still loads of fun, though!


image by huber

1x _7⅓_ Botts and Balls New!

(With son #2) This was quite charming; I really enjoyed it.

Better still, son #2 was very very much better at it than I was: he saw options (and for both of us!) that I didn't (or, occasionally, before I did.) The limit of six moves per turn left things pretty tractable, and there were definitely more possibilities (and more kinds of possibilities, if that makes any sense) than I'd expected.


image by DICE_COLLECTOR

1x _7⅔_ Super Big Boggle (25 +87++ total plays)

(With son #2, daughter #1 and my wife.) Unsurprisingly, my wife won easily. And achieved the moral victory, too: her score was greater than that of the rest of ours put together!


With the Lunch@work group:

image by huber

1x _7⅓_ Botts and Balls (2 total plays)

Amusingly, it's got even more possibilities with three than it did with 2. And, again, I was significantly outmanoeuvred by another player. I think I may need to resign myself to being one of the weaker seats at the table where this one is concerned. (No need to tell me that it's not really any different than so many other games!)


With the Wednesday night gang:

image by W Eric Martin

1x _8_ 1844 (3 total plays - and 3 plays of 1854)

Decidedly entertaining yet again. Though not terribly stable for us, since we're not particularly skilled at it: I think this now makes three games in a row where the person that floats the FNM jumps out to an early lead and ends up winning quite easily.

I thrashed about (more than I should have) in the middle game; trying to pull on various levers to see what could happen. I think I discovered a few things that might well have helped (if I had executed the idea more cleanly, at least); so I've hope that the next game might remain in doubt for longer.


Owned-and-unplayed: 0 (+1/-1) - Botts and Balls arrived and was played.
Owned-and-played-once: 97 (+1/-1) - Botts and Balls was played twice.

Outlook for the week: Possibly more games with family (daughter #1 is home for spring break for part of the week. And I only have two choir practices!) Probably something with the lunch gang; possibly also something with the Wednesday Night group. And I'm optimistic that リトルタウンビルダーズ Ritorutaunbirudāzu 'Little Town Builders' might arrive.
Edited 1844 play description for better clarity. And a few spelling corrections, too.
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8. Board Game: American Megafauna [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2842]
Morten K
Denmark
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A pretty regular week of gaming I think. I sold a few of my bigger games that don’t see much action or that I won’t get to play much in the future.


 7   Secret Hitler (4 all-time)
Monday after work, we had our work group that has doubled in size the last 6 months or so. Instead of 3-6 people we are now 8-12. That means we can start off with something Secret Hitler. 4-5 of us had tried this or others in the genre before so we were naturally also the more vocal in the group but everyone, including the quieter nicer ones, had a great time and asked for a second play. Two more had arrived so were now 12 people so I sat the second play out. To me at least, this is by far the best game in the genre that I have tried but it’s also a genre I do not enjoy that much usually. What Secret Hitler does well is that everyone is more involved all the time in comparison to for instance The Resistance where several people in a large group will never get to have an active role.



 8   Dominion x2 (61 all-time)
Last time we played one of the new ones told me he’d love to try Dominion because he was thinking about buying it so I had promised him I’d bring it this time and introduce him to it. We played the first game together with his wife and then Lærke joined us for the second play. I chose a kingdom based heavily on cards from the Prosperity expansion. Far from my favourite but I wanted something simple that wasn’t the base game which I usually use for introductions. They were quick learners so played at a nice pace. As always with new players, they bought a bit of everything and did not see the point in trashing unless it was a curse. I bought a Steward and trashed as much as I could and ended up with more points than they had combined. That made them realise the strength of trashing so our second play was mainly cards from the Dark Ages expansion since that’s centered around trashing. Rats is my favourite card in Dominion so I included that of course. I didn’t buy it this time unfortunately but Lærke did and won the game. She’s also quite new to the game so it was great seeing her beat me.



 6   Charterstone x2 (4 all-time)
Lærke and I continued our cosy Charterstone campaign with another two plays. After the second play where we played with one automa we decided we’d rather play without them for this style of play. It’s relaxed tea and biscuits gaming, not very competitive let’s push the limits of the game kind of play so this suits us better. We do have a tendency to focus more on the new buildings and not the crates so we have talked about shifting a bit to those so we get more stuff into play. My stars have been used to fill out the persona line and almost the upgrade line whereas Lærke is focusing on the ones higher up that need fewer stars. Let’s see how that works out. I won both games last week so she got the two circle upgrades from that. I don’t remember what they are called like I don’t know what most else in the game is called. The universe doesn’t speak to me so I have difficulties remembering stuff like that. It’s a pretty mediocre game so far but we enjoy our time playing it.



 6   Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 x3 (11 all-time)
This was only the second time this year that my Pandemic Legacy group could find a date that suited all of us but we were able to start a bit earlier at least so we could squeeze in three games. Our next date is during Easter so we’ll be able to get 4-5 games in then. You may remember my worries last time that we opened up new areas too quickly and that we’d get punished by it. In the end we were extremely lucky in our first play. All the bad things were in one small area and even though it threatened to get out of hand quickly with 7 quick outbreaks we managed to hold out, mainly due to extreme luck in our card draws, and win the game. The next two plays were much easier so we have now completed May, June and July. It does get more interesting as we play more games but it’s not something I look forward to a lot. A game or two once in a while is fun but even three in one night like here was definitely one too many for me. It looks like I’m the only one who feels that way though so it’s a matter of sitting through it and be happy that it’s only 6 more months. I really do not get why these games are loved so much. Especially Charterstone which is now number 98 on the BGG list.



 8   American Megafauna x2 (7 all-time)
Now we’re talking! Lærke went down to Funen to visit her brother and a mate of mine came by to play this with me. We’d played once before so he knew what he was in for. It’s two plays but the first one ended after 4 rounds out of 41 with both my genotypes extinct. And I even insist on playing with two genotypes each because you’ll have something to do when one of them dies or gets sent out to sea on Iberia. And it’s highly likely that it’ll happen. So instead of playing with two Lazarus genotypes we added four new cards and started again. Once again, my dog face went extinct but my beak lizards survived in Iberia and across the Panama bridge only pretty quickly. I managed to resurrect some genes from good old dog face in a new immigrant species and even branched off in a new amphibious genotype before the lazarused genotype also went extinct. Not a lot of luck for my creatures in this game. It was a game where lots of DNA came out but not a lot of biomes so when catastrophes that cooled the climate came out at regular intervals our habitable area decreased evermore in size. In the end, the game ended in an ice age just after two new immigrant species arrived on the scene and wiped out four of my animals and thus took away the victory from me. My mate took back BIOS: Megafauna 2 with him to read up on the rules so it looks like I might get to play that some time soonish.



 9   Jump Drive (63 all-time)
Another play of this while waiting for dinner to finish. I had a choice between scoring big early but not getting any cards or the opposite. I chose cards which delayed my VP production enough for Lærke to win. Would it have been different had I chose the opposite? Perhaps but I’d only get 3 cards each round so chances weren’t good.




 8   Time of Crisis (3 all-time)
We just finished our second Vassal play of this. A lot! of barbarians came out early and kept us away from Egypt and Syria for most of the game and as in the last game, a lot of Franks swarmed into Gallia. It was fun for most of the game but when nothing came out of my big move and my competitors moved in and ousted me from a region I held, my role in the game was over pretty much. For a while it looked like Martin would win and had one of us newbies helped him a bit better against the ruling emperor in what became the last two rounds he could have won it the coming turn. But he didn’t and we learnt something from it. Even though the game is quite simple there is a lot to learn about pacing, how to construct your deck and which cards to pick when. I’d love to play it face to face again soon.



Games that left my collection this month: König von Siam, Lisboa, Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar, Skull King, Calimala and Age of Steam.

Games that entered my collection this month: A couple of promos plus Happy Salmon.

Unplayed games in my collection: Tahuantinsuyu, 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Splatter SHOOT, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, Sword of Rome, Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62, El Alamein, Stephenson's Rocket, Continental Divide, Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Edition), BIOS: Megafauna (2nd Edition) and Happy Salmon.
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9. Board Game: Charterstone [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:94]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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 5   Charterstone x2 (4 all-time)

We've adopted a regular biweekly schedule for the rest of the campaign, but the game's owner is out of town next week, so ended up playing games 3 and 4 both this week.

I'm finding a certain amount of bad feeling may be inherent in the legacy format for me; you have to make guesses about what will be valuable in the future, and some will just be wrong. "But I worked so hard for that!" Sorry, lady. You'd better roll with the punches more.

Nearly every game has proceeded the same way: I'm nominally keeping pace with the leader for the whole game, but everybody else gets points on the reputation track and I don't, so I end up near last. In game 4 I tried something radically different that didn't seem like it should affect the outcome, but did-- I tied for 2nd (of 5) and just generally felt better about the whole thing. Which is good, because my overall campaign prospects just took a dive due to [REDACTED].

I think I am... grudgingly enjoying this? It's hard not to think about the fact that, by the end, I will have played it 12 times-- one more play than my favorite worker-placement game which I've owned for years. But so be it, I guess? There's nothing stopping me from inviting people to play Dungeon Petz with me every two weeks for six months, aside from the fact that, without legacy elements, it's not clear why they'd accept that invitation.

One of the other players pointed out that it's sort of like playing 12 new games; it has some of the "hey, let's see if this works!" novelty value each time, but also some of the "oh. I guess that was pointless. I'll know better next time." downside.

 9   Wits & Wagers x2 (7 all-time)

We almost had time to play game 5 at our second meeting this week, but not quite. This was the fastest to learn of the five-player games on our host's shelf. Good fun, as always! Though, it's an older printing, and the "as of February 2007..." questions are getting to be more and more of a challenge in ways not intended when they were written.

 7   Mystic Vale (7 all-time)

An in-person play with my girlfriend. I seem to win pretty easily on BGA (playing strangers at just the base game) and lose consistently against her with all expansions. I suspect this is more about her skill than about the expansions-- every time we've played, she's finessed fine distinctions that I didn't see.
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10. Board Game: Lords of Vegas [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:350]
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United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Monday Mar. 12th
Clans of Caledonia

Saturday, Mar. 17th
Clans of Caledonia

I had the extra merchants, start with river crossing, $1 at market clan, so I decided to try to use it to its full potential. I finished two contracts and was on my THIRD in the first round (meaning I also earned $15 for taking those three contracts) so I was out to an early lead. Upgrades were also one of the bonus VPs, so my extra 3 merchants gave me a head start on that. But, somewhere in the 4th or 5th round, Sam's long-term investments (building grain) were paying off, while I couldn't keep up the momentum, partly because Sam had expanded so much he really cut me off and I couldn't get to where I wanted to go, or it would be expensive, and partly because he didn't build a barrel, so I didn't have an opportunity to build next to him and get a neighbor discount. I couldn't buy my way at out the end... I could have finished another tile, but was short on money, didn't have all of the $15 to buy the tile. I ended up about 3VP behind Sam.

He had the build-processing-buildings-for-a-discount, and he made good use of them. Because one of the VP tiles was +, he had way more than me, and also had more people in the people round. He won the more settlements bonus, as usual. As he said in the game, it was very much tortoise and the hare. I was the hare, jumping off to an early lead, but his slow and steady won the race.


Sunday Mar. 18th
We went to a 4p board game day with another couple in Sam's RPG group (Sam's RPG group has another member who couldn't make it this weekend).

I brought Loot Letter (Love Letter with Munchkin art) to get us started, because it's light-hearted, with minimal rules, and plays quickly. It gave everyone a chance to win a round (Sam ended up winning the overall game with 4 cubes).

Knowing that they like dice games, especially the husband, I had packed Can't Stop. With a toddler and two dogs, we want something with not-too-many pieces, but also durable in case one gets grabbed or dropped on the floor. Can't Stop fit the bill. It also has low rules overhead and minimal setup, with a reasonable play time. Also important, if someone gets called away for a moment to check on the toddler, when you come back, you can see the state of the board, and start your turn without really missing anything.

It was really close at the end, we each had 2 columns, and only 3, 4, and 8 were open at the end. The other woman was doing the smart thing, inching up the columns, whereas both husbands were making big rolls and losing the ground with a bust. The husband got some good rolls and got his 4 column to the finish line (I was still holding a grudge against the 4 column, since I had been so close with it in the first game, but it had failed me).

I had brought Auf Teufel komm raus, one they've played before and liked, as well as Lords of Vegas, since the gambling and dice theme would fit with what they like (Las Vegas is another one they've played and liked). The husband was happy to see Auf Teufel and would have happily played it, but the wife wanted to try the new game, so we got it out. It's a game that feels a little overwhelming in the rules, but works once you start playing. Sam mentioned the different actions, but they aren't used at the beginning of the game (you're probably not going to remodel until halfway-through or so) so we re-visited them once they became viable options.

Like Monopoly, the early part is mostly claiming and building on property, and then when things start filling up, things get more interesting. The husband started calculating the different possibilities, making an "evil but brilliant" (my description at the time) move that changed colors on a casino, freeing up those tiles to go onto another one, and making him the boss of a large, powerful casino.

The wife kept waiting for cards to be drawn that would kick out the dice of people who had expanded ("sprawled"). We had two, towards the end. Had more come out, especially in the middle, things could have really been shaken up. Since everyone at least recognized the possibility, it added to the tension and risk.

Sam and I had a tug-of-war over a large gold casino in the middle of the board. We kept paying for it to get re-rolled. I paid a large sum and managed to become the boss, and then turns went almost twice around the table before a gold card was drawn. Gold was the color with the fewest cards on the table - we should have been drawing them. Green and silver were drawn the most. Early on, when I had made that casino gold, I had waffled between gold and silver. If I had chosen silver, I would have been rolling in money and points, and I think it's fair to say, I may have won the game. Gold only ended up having 4 of the 9 cards drawn, as I remember. It was the color with the fewest.

There was also a re-roll of a 4-point casino, where I rolled a 5. If I had ended up as the boss of it, I would have had 4 more points. If the leader on the score track was one space (4pts) behind, it could have been a tie and come down to money. It definitely felt like a close game right to the end. The winner commented that she liked it, so hopefully we'll get to play it again before they move this summer.







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11. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansions: Southern US & Pittsburgh [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Age of Steam (+Pittsburgh)
-8- Concordia (+Aegyptus/Creta)
-8- Terraforming Mars (+Venus Next; Penguins; Self-Replicating Robots)
-5- Century: Spice Road (x2)
-5- The Mind (x2)

Age of Steam: Pittsburgh is a strange map. Straight track tiles cost a whopping $10, compared to $3 for any curves and $0 for track in towns, so you end up with lots of winding routes around the board and the shortest distance between two points is rarely the cheapest. I've never played on a map where the physical tile limits were more relevant – tight curves and crossings went quickly and as a result, I wound up with exclusive access to the new Yellow City, giving me some juicy deliveries when others had run out.

I enjoyed the Creta map for Concordia, as it's just the right size for three players whereas the base game maps feel a bit too open at that player count.

Kate crushed us at Terraforming Mars again in a game that went surprisingly quickly despite the presence of the Venus board. Nobody bothered terraforming Venus at all, so the World Government Phase only served to speed the game up and the Venus-related cards were just fodder for discarding.

Century: Spice Road was just about acceptable when players were too tired for anything meatier.

The Mind gets more difficult when a grumbling baby is distracting everyone. I wanted to see if it worked better with three players. I've now played it at all suggested player counts and nobody has been impressed beyond its novelty factor. It's a harmless bit of whimsy but it's not what I look for in gaming. After our first play, it garnered comparisons to Gloomhaven, if you can believe that. In Gloomhaven, you have to plan the speed of your actions based only on a rough description of your fellow players' speeds and your interpretation of how fast their characters will actually move in relation to yours, given that description. You make similar decisions in The Mind, only with more shuffling per minute of game time.

I didn't get chance to write about Pax Pamir last week. It was new to me but last week was so hectic. I was lucky to find a couple of others interested in playing it – the dry theme is too boring for most. It wasn't as difficult to explain as I'd feared. I was using the map board which helpfully has summaries of the actions on it to remind us of some of the rules. It was quite difficult to parse the game state, though. In fact, at one point Jake noticed that Nik was in a winning position, when Nik and I had missed this fact. It was Nik's turn at the time and he was in a position to purchase a Topple card to end the game. But we felt we didn't understand the game sufficiently at that point, so we wound the clock back to my turn and I took some actions to prevent Nik from winning on the next turn so we could carry on playing. Nik did go on to win some time later – he had a strong base of 3-Star cards, which just seem to be better than cards with fewer stars. So there's something we learned: buy the 3-Star cards. They let you put more pieces on the board, which is how you get to win. It's a game which will take us many plays to comprehend the ramifications of our actions, to learn which levers to pull to manoeuvre into a winning position. I seriously doubt I'll ever play it enough to figure it out but I'm sufficiently intrigued by it that I don't feel like I should get rid of it just yet.

Unusually, I played no games at the weekend. Instead, we went to North Wales to visit Caernarfon castle and Portmeirion, incidentally avoiding the latest snowstorm by being in one of the few areas of the country unaffected.

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