GCL Mafia 399: Family
Ambie
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San Mateo
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

Important Links:
GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread (links to past lists, subscribe for weekly notifications)
GameChat League Wiki (for general information about the GameChat League concept)
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Thesp's GCL Games Played Tool (an easy-to-use tool for collating your plays for the week)

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

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• Each week, one or more questions will be posted. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics. Themed questions are optional. Gifs are always encouraged.
• Members can post additional items as they see fit.

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1. Board Game: Family Game Night Book and Game Set: Scrabble, Clue, Sorry, Yahtzee [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Ambie
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San Mateo
California
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I'm visiting my family this weekend so let's talk about families! I grew up playing board games with my family. We'd have weekly game nights on Fridays where we'd play games together. Did you grow up playing games with family? Do you play games with family now?
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2. Board Game: Family Feud [Average Rating:5.46 Overall Rank:14062]
Ambie
United States
San Mateo
California
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When playing games with family, what types of games do you prefer? Do you get very competitive or do you play more cooperative games?
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3. Board Game: Love It! Hate It! [Average Rating:5.36 Unranked]
Ambie
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San Mateo
California
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Some cultures value family gatherings a lot more than other cultures. For some people it's normal to have multiple generations living together. For other people they'll move out on their own as soon as they hit a certain age. And family can mean different things to different people - it could just be parents/children, or it could extend to third cousins twice removed (I don't know if that's a thing). So... what does family mean to you? And do you like family gatherings?
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4. Board Game: Android: Netrunner – Blood and Water [Average Rating:8.40 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.40 Unranked]
Ambie
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San Mateo
California
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There's a saying "blood is thicker than water" that has various interpretations. Many people today use it to mean that family is more important than... water. But I've also heard that it used to be used to mean that people that have a shared harsh experience (blood brothers) have stronger bonds than the water of the womb, so it meant the opposite.

Do you have any friends that you're so close to that you consider them family? Do they come to your family gatherings?
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5. Board Game: Treasure Hunter [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1264]
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Treasure Hunter (7 all-time)
Azul (8 all-time)




Light week for me. We traveled all weekend, went apple picking with my family, and had many, many busy nights the whole way through.



Treasure Hunter
This is fine. The drafting for the min-max rewards AND the Goblin attacks AND the coinage AND the bonuses is a little much, in my opinion. It's not focused enough for the amount of cards you can reasonably accrue. Still, the two-player draft-from-a-bonus-pile-too mechanic is great, and something that a lot of two-player drafting games/variants could put to good use. As a Queen Games production, however, the pieces are fabulous, thick, and well-illustrated. Besides the absurd EGG Lacerda games, Queen typically sports the chonkiest chock for their cardboard bits, and I LIKE it. Still, Sushi Go! Party is immesurably superior. It remains the only drafting game I rank a perfect 10.

This reminds me that I'd really like to try Keep, but I've not, nor do I know anyone who owns it locally (James, you like this one, right?).

Azul
Like Cassadi, yep, could/would play this every week. We actually lent it out to friends over the last month or so, and we've sorely missed it. It's becoming our go-to "we want to play someting but we're too indecisive to choose" game. I lost SPECTACULARLY to Anastasia this go-around. Sheesh. I'm talking by dozens of points, here. A trouncing. The game continues to fascinate me with just how critical a single tile can be in terms of the game's overall action economy. It's smarter every time I play (while I feel dumber each time, but that's besides the point...).



I mentioned apple picking above... it's become an annual tradition for our family at this point, going on six years now. My brother, Brian (mentioned in this GCL from time to time) and his family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and there is a great little apple orchard out in the rural areas to the east between Saline and Ypsilanti we've gone to each year. It is a blech-teal colored building with a few broken fans that really strikes me like something out of Mad Max, except with gritty, post-apocalyptic apple farmers involved. Also, the best donuts I ever consume each year. Normally, we'd game it up quite a bit on weekends like this, but we ended up all sunburnt and worn out, so we mostly lazed, grilled out, and watched some movies together (the plan was for Root and X-Wing aplenty, which sadly, did not occur...).

Brian also introduced us to a favorite watering hole of his over in Ypsilanti called Cultivate, which is a post-hipster oasis of artisanal this, artisanal that, and some artisanal crap stuffed in between. Basically, it was a swanky coffee and beer bar, with a wide patio out back. Quite nice, really. We brought the kids, played some cornhole and a few little travel games, and boozed out a lazy afternoon as the weather got cooler and the sun wasn't too burny. There were a smattering of sour ale selections available, and between Anastasia, my sisters, and my younger sister's boyfriend, we tried them all. The best, I think, was the ultra-funky one I chose from Odd Side Ales, Aestas, which tasted of cucumber, black pepper, and old leather, atop a powerful barnyard funk from the various competing strains of brettanomyces stewing within its dregs. Man, it was dynamite. I've not had many Odd Side beers, but their reputation precedes them, and this one was certainly a winner. Seriuosly, when I have more time (read: when my kids grow up a little more) I'm definitely investing in a sour ale solera barrel. That's the dream, right there.

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6. Board Game: Captive [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:3365]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Trading Card Game x20
Beasts of Balance x3
Street Masters x2
Tears of a Goddess x2 (new!)
Captive (new!)
Root
Unlock! The Adventurers of Oz (new!)
Weird Things Humans Search For
Wits & Wagers
Yellow & Yangtze

**EDIT - My review of Yellow & Yangtze went up last night. I love writing about these dense Knizia designs. I should take James' suggestions and delve into Medici at some point.


Beasts of Balance
I got several expansions in which reminded me I still have this game. Lila and I played a few games and she declared it her favorite game ever. She likes telling me what to stack next when it gets very difficult.

The expansions are actually pretty good. One problem with this game is that it doesn't have staying power in the short term. It's something that's great to pull out every once in awhile, but the animal/pokedex thing isn't compelling enough to really make you chase new entries/species.

The new animals though livened up the stacking game a bit. Also, there's now a battle mode where you play competitively with someone. I kind of just faked this against myself, but it's pretty neat. It leads to stacking things in ways that make it difficult for the next person to place, hoping they make it fall.

It also opens up the game to the new legendary creatures. These have requirements and you can't place them until you've met the goal. They're stupid powerful though so they provide these very rewarding short term objectives besides simply trying to stack/win. The unicorn poops rainbows too which is fabulous.

I still don't love this game, but I have a deeper appreciation and think it's pretty nifty. Glad I hung on to it.

Tears of a Goddess/Captive
I got a set of the Graphic Novel Adventure series from Van Ryder games. Ever since Grace talked positively of Captive, I've really wanted these. If I would have remembered them at Gen Con, I may have just purchased the entire set.

Captive really floored me. I chose this one first so that I could discuss it with Grace and not worry about spoilers. The story though is bang on for my sensibilities and exactly what I was looking for. It's kind of an homage to another IP, one that I dearly love, and combined that with a somewhat original story that drew me in. There's many awesome things going on, but the format of graphic novel and choose your own adventure really works well. This is light years better than the CYOA game.

Tears of a Goddess was good, but not as effective as Captive. The system utilized was slightly less interesting, and the story wasn't as gripping. It was pretty different though in structure (searching a city and returning to a central map to head to a new district), and it had a very different feel. I was kind of fascinated by how they separated from each other and provided those different experiences while utilizing the same format.

I played Tears twice in order to actually win. It felt a little more random in that wrong choices just caused an auto-lose more often. I did not succeed in my first play of Captive either, and plan on hitting that again soon.

Root
I mentioned this in a reply last week, but we did a five player game and my first with expansion material. I would have won as Riverfolk but Woodland Alliance secured victory the turn immediately before me. Very satisfying game and our mix of factions - Woodland Alliance, Riverfolk, Lizard Cult, Vagabond, and Marquise de Cat proved pretty balanced.

Unlock! Oz
Excellent. This series continues to reassert itself as the best escape room line in my opinion. It's creative and each scenario is absolutely unique. You never quite know where it's going to go and I've enjoyed every play.


On My Mind
DUNE on Saturday. So pumped. I painted a worm mini to use for turn order in bidding and maybe to plop down when th Shai-Hulud cards are played. Will update with pics later when I can.

In addition to Dune, I'm still managing my regular game night. We're doing TIME Stories: Brotherhood of the Coast. Excited to continue this. Maybe hit another one of the last Unlocks as well.


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7. Board Game: Checkers [Average Rating:4.86 Overall Rank:16271]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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Still nothin'. But we do have TIME Stories: Brotherhood of the Coast and Seafall planned for this week. Seafall is not at our house (our church is having game night so it's there instead), so I anticipate it being a challenge with our kid. Especially with how hard it's been to put him down for bedtime when we're home. It'll be even harder when we're not home.

But in video game world, I've been playing some Zelda. I picked up Link Between Worlds for 3DS, and they say it's a sequel to Link to the Past for SNES. I've never played either, so I decided to finally play the SNES Link to the Past game first, and then I played the 3DS Link Between Worlds. These two titles are 22 years apart with their original release date btw, and I think playing them back-to-back is really cool and the way to do it. I also think Link to the Past is a good introduction to the top-down Zelda games in general.

Without getting into too much detail in case if anybody wants to discover the story on their own and haven't, the similarities in the games and how they've made it a clear direct sequel to each other is incredibly good. SNES version has you going between a light and dark world to complete your quest, and the 3DS version has you going between an alternate world. The maps between the two games is very similar. Not quite identical, but mostly only changing as you would expect landscape and scenery to change over time. So after playing the SNES title, the 3DS title I felt like I already knew where everything was. The quest was essentially the same journey, but different enough that it still feels like a new game and not a rehash of the same game. Also, Link Between Worlds on 3DS includes a feature where you can travel along the walls which allows for some unique and really cool puzzles.

I've now beaten both. Link to the Past I 100% everything. Link Between Worlds I'm still missing 2 heart pieces. 1 is a baseball mini-game that I don't care for and am not very good at. The other one I'm not sure which heart piece I missed. I'll admit I looked up lists for the last few things in Link Between Worlds to help me complete (for the most part it was to remember where I saw stuff but hadn't gone back to yet). I looked up for the last:
-1 Master Ore (It was a puzzle I didn't solve and decided to come back to, but forgot where it was)
-4 Miamis (I often have to play without sound, which makes tracking these down particularly difficult. When I was able to have sound, I basically walked to each location they should be at listening for the sound and then solving the puzzle myself to get them)
-3 heart pieces (1 was a "need to return to" puzzle but I'd forgotten about it, 1 was the baseball game, and 1 I don't know because everything else on the list sounds too familiar so I'm not sure which one I skipped/missed)
I thought the story on Link Between Worlds was really cool and clever as well.
Warning: Major Spoilers on after beating the game
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I definitely thought some things were sketchy. Princess Hilda didn't look like a good person and her magic holding everything back looked incredibly evil. But mostly, why do you keep talking to Zelda and leave her as a painting?! I can apparently touch paintings and restore them!



Now, I'm indecisive on which title to check out next, Zelda or something else. But I would like to get back to my Switch and play some new games I have for that. But I'll admit that I'm just enjoying my 3DS too much!

I did start playing Zelda Tri-Force Heroes a little bit last night (3-player Zelda game). I went online to see if there are still players online and also to see what multiplayer was like. I was surprised and happy to find out our party filled up really quickly! I did feel bad because I clearly didn't know the levels or what to do, and the other players were more experienced, but it worked out. I struggled a lot on the first level or two (each game you play is 4 levels), but then I came together pretty well. But I was also quite a bit of a klutz on parts of the level. Communication is actually pretty good and after a while you catch on to how it works. There are 6 emotions you can express.
1. Shrug (I don't know or Oops)
2. Come Over Here (exactly what it says)
3. Totem Pole (you can pick each other up in the game, so this means pick me up)
4. Thumbs Up
5. Cheer
6. I can't remember the last one but it's basically the "WTF are you doing?" emotion

I think you can also click on a character to get the text "So and so is wondering about Player X" which helped me a lot. When "So and so is wondering about Dolus" would come up, I knew I was doing the wrong thing or going the wrong way. So it helped bring me back on track. I've also come to think that the game is actually pretty fun with a group of people, so I'm happy I picked this up and I'm happy to play it online some more. But I definitely need a chunk of time set aside simply because I can't just pause or go AFK when I'm playing online with others.


If I start up any other Zelda games, the next 3 (in no particular order) are these 3.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
The Minish Cap
Spirit Tracks

I might play Zelda II just to knock it off the list. It certainly seems like a game I'll enjoy, but it's just not really a Zelda game. It's not as much of a Black Sheep as NA Super Mario Bros. 2, which literally wasn't a SMB game, but still. It's a different game. Minish Cap and Spirit Tracks I know squat about other than the brief Wikipedia description.

Although, when I played Link to the Past (SNES), so many things seemed familiar. Enough so that I wondered if I had played or watched it played before. But it also reminded me enough of Link's Awakening for the Game Boy that I think I would enjoy re-playing it.
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8. Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:1280]
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team x2 NEW!
The Lost Expedition x2 NEW!
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania
Ticket to Ride
Root: Riverfolk Expansion NEW!
Root
KeyForge: Call of the Archons – Archon Deck NEW!
Reef
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger NEW!

Kill Team

Oh my. To hell with board games, I'm giving myself to Games Workshop. Played Rogue Trader and the KT starter factions. I've since assembled a Death Guard team and am about halfway through painting it. League starts at the Warhammer store and I'm going to *try* to do it but not sure if I'll be able to.

Lost Expedition

Some solo games and a 3p game. We probably overcommunicated in the 3p game but it was still pretty fun to try to manage our hands and sequence things appropriately. This game packs a number of tense moments of unknown or tough decisions in a light ruleset and game. A bit of a table hog but not too bad, and there are ways to easily reduce it. It tells a great story of tribe contact, mudslides, anaconda attacks, and more if you're into that sort of thing.

Root

Raf's back with his Root Downer talk. Played 4p; Marquise, Alliance, Vagabond, and Riverfolk. I was the Riverfolk and it was a neat premise but no one was buying anything no matter how cheap I'd set it. Despite my reminders, people either didn't want to manage the mental overhead of remembering I was selling goods or were worried about throwing me items. Alliance ran away with it with a couple power turns.

This is such a weird game for our group. At the end everyone just kind of says "meh, that wasn't a great play" but then the next day people wan to play again and if I pack it in my backpack they'll ask to play at game night. And then at the end it's "well, that wasn't a great play" and it repeats again.

I think I've answered this question:



On my Mind

There's an irony in missing the week where one of the questions is about overcommitting.

I was off on vacation last week to take care of Javi, though I still had to take him to daycare and go in for a budget review meeting. They're willing to support most of my budget increase requests which is cool, but I did still have to have a lot of frustrating discussions around compliance and how I won't budge on my requests to close the gaps. I'm not going to be the one who doesn't at least ask for the money on compliance issues.

We also had our Pig & Pimms party this weekend. Inspired by Ugly Delicious, I whipped up a Vietnamese Thit Kho inspired marinade that turned out delicious. Next year I'll do it again and inject 3x as much marinade as every bite I had that had that flavor was amazing. Best pig I've done yet. I also made deep fried gushers.

I am streeeeettttched too thin but I don't want to give anything up. Work is crazy, I have a few articles I need to do for G&S and more review copies to work through, and I can't stop finding painting projects or mini stuff I want to do. Also, you know...kids and all that.
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9. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:108]
United States
Yay Area
California
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 7   Kingdomino
 7   Don't Mess with Cthulhu Deluxe x2 NEW!
 6   Camel Up NEW!
 6   BANG! The Dice Game
 8.55   Forge War x3
 9.8   Magic Maze x6
 7   Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
 7.5   Lancaster NEW!
 9   Cosmic Encounter

Kingdomino - Four players, I absolutely wrecked 65 pts no weird bonuses. I only had 2 scoring regions a 50 point forest region, and a 15 point field region. I put myself in a bunch of bad spots but surprisingly instead of screwing me over people went for their own self interests.

Don’t Mess w/Cthulhu - Six player with a PnP copy. Social deduction without a weird eyes closed phase you have to moderate. It was fairly interesting but does have that slightly whiff of potentially game ending randomness.

1st session I’m good guy and have no good cards so I declare nothing, next phase I have 2 good cards and the 1 bad card. I decide to claim to have nothing because I don’t want people to accidentally choose the bad card. Someone decides to test me and they flip over a good card, so this looks bad. I shift the turn to a trustworthy person, they too decide to test me and reveal the second good card, I flat out look like a bad person liar. Next phase I know no one will trust me so I once again decide to use my turn to put a trustworthy person in control because they claimed they had nothing so they seemed safe to choose. That person had the evil card and was trying to obscure it from the bad guys and I accidentally chose it and we lost.

2nd Session I’m good again and have good cards. People choose me and we develop trust. Eventually 3 of the 6 of us are trusted and since we all have good cards we just pass turns back and forth. Last turn I get the final good card and we basically just bounce back and forth with good guys until they choose it.

Camel Up - A bit too hectic for me. The person after me in turn order kept being the one to roll the dice so everyone else took the betting tiles before it got back to me once there was enough information to reliably lock a decision down.

Bang! Dice - This was okay. We played with one of the expansions. I was the Deputy with special power to become the sheriff. Real sheriff almost dies so I swap with them. I make it to final 3 but renegade and outlaw are both shooting me and one of the powers blocked my heal when I rolled 4 heals. Dead city.

Forge War - Finally did the solo variant. You have to control 2 automata players for the mine phase so I avoided the solo because I imagined there was more automata stuff for the other phases. But there isn’t so definitely better than two handed solo I was playing. Money and resources are so damn tight in this game it’s hilarious. I think eventually I’ll work up the effort to do the epic variant.

Cosmic Encounter - 7 player game (whirligig, judge, pickpocket, mesmer, daredevil, anger, voyager) I was the Daredevil and was desperately attempting to make my power work but it never did except once on a low risk battle. We potentially had a 7 player win possible according to voyager doing planet shenanigans but one of the adamant “Only solo wins” players at our table decided to omni-zap him. So game continued a bit longer with people hovering at 4 colonies and everyone teaming up to defend them. Eventually one person allowed some of the rest of us 4 colony-ers to join in and we were able to win the combat 58 to 32. 3 alien victory (Daredevil, Judge, Angler).

Other -

Might update later. I started feeling sick Saturday night and just have been in a lazy mood.

EDIT:
Playing Lancaster puts me at only having 1 more game on my shelf of shame (Bruxelles 1893). Yay!

Contemplated getting a switch with all the latest hubbub, but not sure if that will end well for my sleep schedule. Saw the actual Megaman 11 trailer and seems interesting, I'd also probably playthrough the Megaman X collections. I was never a huge Smash Bros player like some people are, but Sonic is in the game now so ... yeah ... gotta go fast.

CHEESE UPDATE - Went to the local cheesemonger for some cheese recommendations. Left with a lot of cheese, definitely a lot more than I budgeted for:

Stilton - Blue cheese people liked it but at the moment I didn't love
Havarti - This was a good snacking cheese
Manchego - Tried a 6 month manchego that went really well with the salame and crackers
Cheddar - Clothbound aged cheddar it was okay others loved it much more than me
??? - Some combination of truffle goat cheese covered in brie. Was fairly good
Goat - More goat stuff. Pepper log wasn't anything special, the Honey log was interesting I enjoyed it for breakfast
Fontina - Disappointing, I liked the texture but the flavor just wasn't what I was hoping for
Brie - normal brie, still good


Like everyone else who plays board games we've been begun the mandatory process of writing reviews.

Playing With Myself

Mostly solo stuff and kind of as a side project. If anything it's been particularly helpful for me to just really trying to figure out why I do or don't like certain things in a game. Reviewing is a lot of effort with taking pictures and writing coherent thoughts so special shoutouts to all of you who have been doing it this whole time.


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10. Board Game: Dragon Strike [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:4312]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Dice Heist 3 (31 all-time)
Werewords 3 (49 all-time)
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong 2 (16 all-time)
Vast: The Crystal Caverns (7 all-time) + Vast: The Fearsome Foes 2 NEW!
Charterstone 1 (22 all-time)
Dead Man's Draw 1 (14 all-time)
Fallout 1 (2 all-time)
Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension 1 NEW!
Mahjong 1 SORRY, AMBIE. HERE IS MY NEW, BUT INCOMPLETE PLAY!
Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War 1 NEW!
The Game 1 NEW!
The Grimm Forest 1 (2 all-time)
Time's Up! Title Recall! 1 (38 all-time)
Unpublished Prototype 1 (62 all-time)

Reviews: Dice Throne went up on Geek & Sundry and Dragon Castle went up on iSlaytheDragon.

---

My regular game nights this week plus a local game day!

Vast: The Fearsome Foes I actually didn't play any of the new characters. Our game on Wednesday was with the Goblins, Dragon, Ghoul, and Cave Ghost (who won). On Saturady, it was Knight, Goblins, Dragon, and Ghoul (same guy). I played the Dragon twice. It was really cool to not only play Vast twice in one week, but also the same role so close together. I messed up on my first play quite a bit (and could've/should've won). The girl playing the Knight on Saturday seemed a bit overwhelmed (maybe uninterested?) so I was pretty unopposed and pulled out the win. I still think Vast is a fantastic design/experience.

Gravwell: The randomness of this far outweighed the fun. The idea is neat, but it' shard to get your head around the ship movement and then have to actually plan it out when you have no idea what anyone else in the turn will do.

Mahjong: I felt like some kind of filthy casual when the rules were being explained to me. I was so lost. It was like someone took Rummy and then did the opposite for all the rules. We didn't play a full game; just a learning hand. But, I ended up winning so best game ever.

Thanos Rising: Surprisingly not bad.

The Game: That's right; I've never played this before. I played an unofficial app version a few times, but in person this was much more fun. Of course, it has that feeling of The Mind, though with more talking. I think my family would really enjoy this. I'll probably just play it with my copy of The Mind though I'm debating buying the Target version. This was with the original one and it's so hideously ugly.

---

On My Mind:

I placed an order at Cool Stuff. I'm getting mythos packs for Arkham Horror: TCG as well as Spy Club, Pantone: The Game, and Gizmos. AMA.

I've been playing around with Warhammer Champions more. I decided to put $20 into some booster packs, which are not nearly as fun to open digitally as they are physically. I also don't like deckbuilding online either since my way of deckbuilding is to grab every card I like first, then whittle down to the deck size. But, since I don't want to buy a bunch of the physical game and have no one to play with and then feel guilty about having a bunch of cards sitting around (hello, Star Wars: Destiny), then this is the better way to go. Oddly, I'd be fine buying $100 worth of the physical game, yet I bemoan putting $20 into the digital game.

Anyway, as for the game, I'm understanding a lot more of the nuances now and it's really cool. I still suck though and not having an undo button is definitely my downfall. My faction of choice at the moment is Destruction. They seem to be the aggro-heavy deck. I know that Chaos is not for me. I like the aesthetics of Order and need to figure out the gameplay more. (I think they're more tanky/defensive? I could get behind that.) Oppositely, I hate the aesthetics of Death, but they had a few cool gameplay things going on.

We're still working our way through The Great British Bake-Off. We're down to five bakers. I started season 2 of Atypical. We also finished the first two seasons of Letterkenny over the past couple of weeks and have been quoting it obnoxiously.
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11. Board Game: Mahjong [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:648]
Ambie
United States
San Mateo
California
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 N/A   Gloomhaven
 N/A   Miraris x2
 10   Codenames x2
 7   Mahjong x12

Visited family this weekend so played some games with them. Oh, but first we continued our Gloomhaven campaign on Wednesday night with one scenario. It was so long ago that I forgot what happened though. I think I got a lot of loot. That's what matters.

On Friday we introduced my brother and parents to Miraris. And then we played my brother's homemade version of Codenames that he made a long time ago when Codenames was out of print and he thought it wouldn't be reprinted.

Saturday we had dinner with my mom's side of the family. We went to my grandma's earlier to play Mahjong since the last time we came down (3 weeks ago) and visited her for her birthday we didn't have time to play. My parents visit her every week and play with her, so she really likes that. I remember playing with her like 10 years ago and she used to win every time, but she's forgotten a lot of stuff and doesn't win as often anymore. But it's still fun. We don't know the scoring or the special hands, so we just play to go out first. Spoilers for Crazy Rich Asians:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
We had a Crazy Rich Asians moment in one of the games where Toby wanted to take a piece for a pong/pung (I don't know how to spell Cantonese words in English), but I took it for the win, so I glared at him and took the piece (ok, I didn't really glare at him).


Non-board game - we went to Universal Studios Hollywood yesterday for Halloween Horror Nights. Toby got discounted tickets with early entry since he works at Netflix. Since we got in early, we were able to do some of the regular park stuff and we got to see Harry Potter land! And we got some frozen Butterbeer. That was good. Then we played a game of guessing how much the merchandise costs. The Halloween thing was decent. Lots of "mazes," which are just decorated studios where you go around a path and they have actors jumping out at you to scare you. We saw the Stranger Things one, The Purge, and The Poltergeist. I've only seen Stranger Things, so it was neat to see the decorations. But I don't like scary movies so I hadn't seen the other ones. I didn't get too scared because the buildup wasn't as much as a movie, and I was disconnected enough and realized they were actors so I was more amused than scared by the events. There were also scare zones which were the open areas that you walk through, and the actors tried to follow you and scare you. We were walking through and one jumped at a group of girls and they got scared, and then they walked on and we saw him come back behind them and scare them again! That was funny. Props to their efforts at scaring people. There was also some themed food. We did not get the Eleven Waffle Extravaganza (which cost $11).

On My Mind
-GCL Bay Area game day October 20 at my house! I guess everyone can PM me their email and I can get an email thread started up?

-My brother makes a bunch of neat things out of leather (wallets, coasters, passport holders, etc) and asked if there's anything I'd want. I'm having a tough time thinking of something (he already made us a bunch of coasters that are neat so we don't need any more of those).

-Speaking of making gifts, I need to start planning my Christmas gifts. My brother's wife apparently doesn't like tissues, so we were joking around that I should make her a tissue box cover.
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12. Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.57 Overall Rank:3]
Louie L
United States
San Francisco
California
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 8   Le Havre x2
 7   Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization x3
 7   Founders of Gloomhaven x2

NO PLAYS WITH ACTUAL HUMANS THIS WEEK.

Instead, I recorded the apps I played in my evenings in a motel room/flight back to San Francisco.

Le Havre were some good plays. I think the easy AI absolutely crushed me while I figured out what I needed to do again.

Through the Ages - I love this game, and I want to play the board game implementation, it's just the idea of teaching this really scares me.

I also feel like I can play this forever and not get bored. Like I want to explore strategies with different leaders, like, get Shakespeare up with a badass Theater and Library engine. Is that viable against humans?!?!?!?!

Founders of Gloomhaven - Ran through this solo a few more times, where I failed to make it past Round 3.

OMM - EDITED WITH MORE STUFF

Work commitments in Anaheim. Next week, I've got a work trade show over in Anaheim. I should probably use this as a means to get better at doing professional things, like networking, but it's always a bit tough for me. That being said, my work tends to have some good/memorable events going on that should be fun.

WHEN IN ROME (Anaheim). Since the Anaheim Convention Center is a spit shot away from the Disneyland Resort, I'm flying in this Saturday to spend some time there. Mostly to eat deep fried sandwiches, and churros and junk.

Louie's progress in Mario + Rabbids. I finished up the main storyline over the weekend. I had so much fun with the weapon, skill tree, and battle system, that I might continue on just to play it a bit more. I don't tend to 100% games, though, so I might look forward the next thing.

Video game pipeline. I think at this point, I could move back over to Monster Hunter World. I'm also looking at Bayonetta 2 as my next Switch purchase.

I'm from K'un Lun. Iron Fist Season 2 came out on Netflix! And it's better than the first season, which honestly isn't saying much. Danny is still an incredibly awful and problematic character, but without saying too much, I think I'm feeling positive about the show. I'm a point where I'm invested into these characters, and I'm looking forward to the next one, if they get greenlit.

Soggy bottoms. I'm six bakers left in GBBO. I don't know what else to say about it, really. I want to eat a sticky toffee pudding. Life is better when I can watch GBBO on a regular basis.
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13. Board Game: Root [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:117]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Root
I got my preordered copy of Root from my FLGS and played a 3-player game (which was going to be 4, but Hilary begged off after already feeling tired 10 minutes into the rules). I was the Cat and the others were the Eerie and the Woodland Alliance.. In an unsurprising twist, I liked it and want to explore more. Halfway through the game, there were about 10 things I realized had been poor decisions. Hopefully will manage to get this in again during our Gloomhaven interregnum.

Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab
Hilary and I played this one and it was about the perfect amount of challenge. It took us 73 minutes and we used 4 clues, which translates to 6/10 stars. It wasn't quite as hand-holdy as the 2.5 star one, but unlike some of the others it was usually clear which puzzles we were meant to be working on (e.g. that we had all the materials for) at a given time. We've got 3 Exit games left, and they are all rated 4/5 difficulty (this was 3.5), so I expect those to be more challenging.

Azul
This is a pickup from last week, but I broke this out with my sister and her husband (this is the older of the two sisters if you are playing along above). They liked it will enough that we immediately played a second game. I managed to win both games by a comfortable margin, which speaks well to there being a decently high skill cap despite a decent amount of randomness going on.

OMM
Per last week, I'm still real busy with the school fundraiser. I had a big anxiety attack about it this weekend, but that's usually helped by actually doing something and accepting that I'm not going to fix everything all at once. I also started playing Witcher 3, which is probably a terrible idea given how busy I already am, but there you go. Haven't not played 1 or 2, I do feel a little left out on the story stuff. Otoh, it reminds me of this which for some reason always makes me laugh:



Also, Hilary and I are almost done with Season 1 of The Americans, which I'm enjoying so far and does a good job of keeping its footing unstable. I've also watched the first couple episodes of Iron Fist Season 2, which by all reports is a big improvement on Season 1 (which was the only Marvel Netflix series I tapped out on - though I never did watch Punisher), and so far I think I agree with that assessment. Like Luke Cage Season 2, it's taking it's time establishing the elements of the story that are clearly going to blow up in the back half of the season, but it's doing it in an interesting way. I'm also happy to see it's only 10 episodes, because there's been a bit of a pattern with these series' feeling like there's 2-3 episodes more than they really had story for. Finn Jones is still a crap martial artist, but he's improved and they are doing better at hiding it, and thank god they aren't making him do any Tai-Chi style stuff this time around, because that was where it really grated on me in Season 1.
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14. Board Game: Carson City: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:3861]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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High Society (2 all-time)
Gizmos (2 all-time)
Carson City: The Card Game NEW!

One new game this past week, and it was...OK? I'd played the original Carson City a few months ago and like most of Xavier Georges designs I can't remember a single thing about it. The Card Game version strips quite a bit away from the game, reducing it down to a simultaneous bidding game that feeds into a tile/card layer, and for what it's worth I think the simplification works. I tend to be a fan of boiled down simultaneous selection (which is why both Santo Domingo and Basari: Das Kartenspiel are permanent fixtures in my collection), and the implementation here is very functional.

I think the biggest design aspect that tickles me is that the game self-scales by *not scaling.* That is, you add a number of dummy players into the game so that you're always playing with 4+ players, and the NPCs are the usual platonic ideal of "Dummy Players Done Right(TM)" by simply being randomized upkeep (See also, Historia's Bots, Alhambra: The Dice Game 2p, Vinhos Deluxe Edition Solo).

While the card/tile laying is pretty standard (with a dash of Honshū in being able to cover over cards and a splash of Robber Knights in having a limited sized grid), also having a re-working of Carson City's Character Cards gives the game a bit more variety, as well. Had a pretty bad case of first-play-blues in that the combo I went for scored markedly less than all other combos (maxing out mines/mountains/mine-mountain-oriented-characters looks impressive but was decidedly low-scoring), but aside from that it was a decently-put-together design.
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15. Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion [Average Rating:8.46 Overall Rank:6]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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 N/A   Star Wars: Rebellion
 9   Fresco
 9.5   Gloomhaven

Rebellion: After my first game, I decided to not make the same mistakes twice. I would build a better fleet by protecting planets and clearing out sabotage, I'd farm my deck for the big projects so I could get SSDs and maybe another Death Star, and I'd blow up planets. And that way when we got to end of game and I trapped the Rebels, I had a fleet that would be able to defeat them. Unfortunately, I didn't stop/remove the sabotage the way I should have, my fleets (while bigger) still ended up spread too thin, and at game's end the Rebels held me off then finished their missions to close it out. But at least I blew up two planets. My opponent claimed he also wasn't doing well for most of the game, but about an hour before we finished I saw the handwriting on the wall, and the game played out pretty close to what I expected. I'm still being told it was closer than I think, but I feel fairly confident I read it correctly.

I think I played significantly better than my first game, which made it immensely frustrating that I ended up with about the same result. Some of that is my opponent playing his second game better as well, but it really bothered me that the same things that bit me in the first game got me again, despite actively trying to avoid them. I'm holding off judgement until I try the other side, but it feels a bit that the sheen is wearing off here.

Fresco: Lighter game and a classic. I remembered how to handle the in-box expansion, and won by turning in the paint splotches per the Bishop's request. This doesn't scratch the heavy strategic itch, but it's agreeable enough.

Gloomhaven: Back out of the box after a long hiatus. Game is still brilliant, but I set the difficulty too high by not remembering how it should be set (Dave had recommended one below the book's "normal" method, and we set it to the normal method). I think what we tried is achievable if we really understand how our characters work and dialed in the efficiency, but we don't. We got about halfway through and whalloped.

Which is too bad- I'd like to try this more.

BGG Planning abounds
The usual planning geeklists are active, and I'm plotting out my time. Right now I'm looking at:
Great Campaigns of the American Civil War (which I volunteered to teach and am nervous about)
Tichu Tournament
War of the Ring (US vs. Canada Grudge match)
Die Macher
Dungeon Lords (hopefully with Louie)

Can there be an official Mafia lunch?

On my Mind
Brave new dieting world: I've had minimal progress on my waist size in the last few weeks, but I've been very gradually losing weight. That's not particularly in line with what I'm after (it likely means my body is cannibalizing muscle instead of fat), so I'm readjusting to put myself at less of a caloric deficit. Hopefully, that will encourage my body to build more muscle, and will ultimately move me in the right direction. But I'm mentally preparing myself for a lot slower gains than I've been having.

*Bonus Edit*
Grant the Planner
: It's been an interesting week. We've got a Disney trip next spring with most of my wife's extended family to Disney world. I've become fairly plan-heavy when it comes to vacations, and so I've been doing my research. I found that if we want to do the neat Disney sit-down dining where you go to themed restaurants and/or meet characters, we have to book our reservations in advance. Like 6 months in advance. When family was together this summer I gently prodded at this question and got a "let's decide" later kind of attitude, and it was bugging me that it never got discussed. Thankfully, when my in-laws booked the trip they hired a vacation planner, and between my poking at it last week and her responses ("If you want all 11 people at the same dinner you need to be booking it ASAP!") things finally got organized.

I've tried to tread lightly here- on the one hand I really like to have a plan, especially if it enables us to do something neat, and its definitely necessary in this regard. But I also don't want to be the vacation nazi telling people where to be and what to do. Thankfully, once the urgency became apparent people got to make their own choices; but since I did a ton of research I got credit for knowing my stuff, and a couple of my preferred restaurants got picked.
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16. Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:61]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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 10.   Dominion x46 (4328 all-time)
 10.   Brass: Lancashire x12 (304 all-time)
 8.0   The 7th Continent x5 (14 all-time)
 8.0   Ganz schön clever x2 (14 all-time)
 8.5   Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure NEW!
 8.0   Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle NEW!
 7.5   Utopia Engine NEW!
 7.5   Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game NEW!
 6.5   Scattergories (2 all-time)

I knew I was behind, but not this far!

Dominion - Started playing again to warm up before the tournament, which starts this week. Some games I've felt just terribly slow. Others I feel like things are clicking again. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. I'll once again be playing a top 10 seed in Round 2 if I win this round, so it will almost certainly be over soon. Which is good, with baby arriving in three weeks.

Brass - The game with Robin and Jim prompted me to play more 4p games. I climbed to 5th on the ratings briefly (in part because the ratings on OOTH are silly, but I did have 5 wins and 2 seconds in my first 7 games). Someday I'll get on the app, too.

7th Continent - We finished our first game, but it's been long enough that I don't remember many details. We definitely got rules wrong more than once; probably balanced between helping and hurting. It'll probably be a while before we play again, but I may try to get in a solo game in the meantime.

Clank! - Finally got this played last week, very fun. Aerial beat me pretty solidly - I would have won if I had gotten out entirely, but I would've needed some insane luck to pull that off. Looking forward to playing this again with 2, and also trying it with 4.

Exit - Forbidden Castle - This one was a lot harder than Abandoned Cabin. Lots of fun though, and we especially enjoyed the last puzzle.

Dead of Winter - Can't remember if I already talked about this somewhere. It was fun as an experience, but I don't particularly care for semi-coops. We got clobbered at one point because I didn't know what I was doing, and needed some absurd string of luck to make it through the last two rounds, eventually coming up short. I was the only one to complete my personal goal, anyway.

Three weeks til baby, unless she comes early.
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17. Board Game: Mystic Vale [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:376]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 N/A   Mystic Vale NEW!
 10   Hansa Teutonica: Britannia
 N/A   Deep Sea Adventure
 N/A   6 nimmt!
 8   The Mind x2


Deep Sea Adventure:
Still enjoyable, but the RND gods did not do me any favors. I rolled twice and ended up at the bottom of the ocean with no way back. Whomp whomp.


Mystic Vale: A clever deckbuilder I actually enjoyed playing! Neat! One of the people I was gaming with was an absolute nightmare of AP. Even the guy who we usually have to nudge to make turns faster was also nudging this guy to go faster. The guy at the end of the game was naturally the winner and had this self-satisfying smirk of every goddamn slow gamer I've ever played. Would play again, but not with him.

Hansa Teutonica: Tea Edition -- Am not used to map. Pushed heavily for offices in the mainland, while ignoring Wales. Went well for the first part of the game, but my opponents eventually got wise and started kicking the Bonus Plates to Wales were I could not get them, and I struggled my way to the end. Ended up in a tie, much to all three of our surprise.

The Mind -- Nope, not a mind reader.

On my mind:
Lots of biking this past week. I went on an 8 mile run last Monday, but I aborted 7 miles in due to my foot aching. I've been resting my foot and I doubled down on the biking to compensate. I ended For whatever reason, I did not feel like taking my bike outside, so all of my training was either at the gym, or on my indoor trainer at home.

The biggest accomplishments this week were:
1. Taking another FTP test (a gauge of how many watts of power you can produce for an hour) and seeing improvement. This meant pushing about 260 watts for 20 minutes. zombie
2. Pushing myself at 85-90% of my FTP for 3 hours
3. Getting 12+ hours of exercise in, despite the foot, and feeling properly fatigued at the end of the week.
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18. Board Game: The Flow of History [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1382]
Cassadi
United States
Blacklick
Ohio
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Legacy of Dragonholt - Finished up day 1 in Dragonholt. Spent basically the entire day in the library. Good times!

Le Havre - Played a 2 player game with a friend. I felt so bad because I crushed her, but I think her next game will be way better.

Azul x3 - After beating her at Le Havre she wanted to play Azul on the advanced side of the board. I hadn't done that yet so it sounded fun. We played 3 times, each time she kept asking to play again because she kept losing. Seriously, felt so bad. I'll definitely be trying that side again!

Sprawlopolis - Quick little filler while we looked for people willing to play El Grande at Buckeye Gamefest. It was cute and fun.

El Grande - I'm glad I finally played this! I enjoyed it. It was easy to learn, which probably means pretty simple to teach. I kept forgetting I had to place my cubes adjacent to the king pawn though. Stupid king.

Echidna Shuffle - Played the play to win copy. Didn't win. But it was still super fun! I'll probably be picking this one up to play with the kiddo.

Broom Service - Another one I've been wanting to play for a while! Really liked it. The unintentional/intentional mean-ness the game brought was actually kind of refreshing.

Orléans - I came the closest I've ever come to winning the vanilla version of Orleans! I was only 4 points from the winner. My strategy was moving around Orleans, dropping houses, and picking up goods. I didn't do much else outside of that.

Gunfights & Gamblin' - Local designer was demoing this at Bucket Gamefest. It was definitely just a gunslinging fight. 2 v 2 or 1 v 1. It was cute and fun. 2 people were the good guys trying to save the town, the other 2 were the bad guys trying to burn it down.

Gizmos - I'd been hearing some buzz about this one. It was fun, but really felt like just another tableau building game BUT WITH MARBLES! I wasn't impressed by the marbles. Would rather play Splendor.

The Flow of History - Never heard of this one, but glad I sat down with some stranger to play. I had such a blast! I'm going to be talking about it on my segment for The Shuffle in October, but I really enjoyed how the civilization building went in this one. Some seriously interesting choices were made to get my people where they were by the end of it. I didn't win, but I came dang close!

On My Mind
- Buckeye Gamfest was a small local convention in which I received a free badge to attend. There were maybe a couple hundred people during the busier times. Mostly it was people part of a local gaming club that I'm not part of, but there were a few others, like me, who weren't and just came to game.

- I really have no desire to deal with work this week. It's been pretty slow in the day job, and it's making me go crazy. Really starting to contemplate updating the resume and looking for something else within the company.

- I'm finally about to start generation 5 in Sims 4. I've taken a break, but I'm back at it! I added some mods so now teenagers can quit school, get pregnant, get married, and just basically be adults. I also added a mod that included drugs so my teenage artist heir is smoking a bunch of pot, making and selling a bunch of art, got a girl knocked up, quit school, and I think he's about to get sent to rehab? His parents keep threatening it even though he's bringing in fat stacks of cash with his pot art.

- Still plugging away on Tigana. Really enjoying it, but it's such a big book I can't use it for my read and walks at work. I'd actually run in to people. So, I've been reading through the Inkheart trilogy. On the 2nd one now!

- Started watching American Horror Story while I work, that's how dead I am at the day job. I can get my work done and watch some shows. On season 2 now. Season 1 was super fun. Definitely going to ride this spooky show train through Halloween at least.

- My kid's moving up to the next class at daycare which means pullups only. Which means we need to get serious about potty training at home. Since her poop issues have started getting better (because I'm feeding her Miralax every morning in her milk per her dr's orders) she's not afraid of the toilet. So not looking forward to the messes this is going to create, but we need to find a reward system that will work. I really don't want to use food as a reward. I'm already trying to break that habit in myself.

- Speaking of food, I just can't seem to keep myself honest when it comes to my calorie intake. I know when I'm doing terribly, I get mad at myself, but I continue to do it anyways. I haven't gained, I've managed to maintain the last month or so, but I really need to just suck it up and do it. It's not motivation that's lacking. It's willpower. I just don't seem to have enough of it right now.
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19. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:876]
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Well me known for eating cookie when me don't they shout
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AVAST ME HEARTIES! IT BE TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!!!!!!

arrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrharrrh









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20. Board Game: Brass: Birmingham [Average Rating:8.69 Overall Rank:54]
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 10  Brass:Birmingham x1 (2 plays so far)

Brass: Birmingham is great and very intriguing. The winner (yellow) of our last 4 players game won with only 1 loan, he built all his potteries and boost his revenu with iron works.

I like the variable merchant tiles : with your initial hand of cards, it makes the game even more interesting to me.



On my mind:
I have preordered Caverna: Cave vs Cave and i am considering Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (with the 2 expansions) but the french version is OOP so far (i am looking for second hand copies)
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21. Board Game: New York Slice [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1242]
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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Avast ye landlubbers! Unlike yesterday, today is a real holiday: National Pepperoni Pizza Day. How do you all plan to celebrate this auspicious day??








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