What Couples Have Been Playing January 2020
Roger Wink
United States
Penfield
New York
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A Couple of Gamers
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What Couples Have Been Playing January 2020 -- the Geeklist for People Gaming in Pairs

Subscribe to the What Couples Have Been Playing Monthly Geeklist SUBSCRIPTION THREAD so you never miss a list.



Welcome to the "What Couples Have Been Playing" Geeklist, a monthly geeklist community for people gaming in pairs.

Use this list to post about games you've played this month as 2-player games, comment on other people's items, and throw your thumbs around! Mingle in the comments below.

Here's your step-by-step guide:

1 Play a game as a couple* within the month of January 2020.
2 Post a geeklist entry after playing (If you play the same game multiple times in the same session, please post this as a single geeklist entry).
3 Let us know what you liked or didn't like about the game, and tell us how it plays with two (particularly for games that aren't 2p only!). If you've played it with more than two at another time, feel free to make comparisons with the 2p gameplay.
4 Provide feedback for others, chat, ask questions, and give a little thumb here and there!

BONUS ROLL - WELCOME!
d10-5 Welcome and hello to all newbies! If you're new to our Geeklist, please let us know! We're very friendly around here, and we'd love to welcome you properly!

*For our purposes, "couple" is defined as two people playing a game. Many of us here are playing with partners or spouses, but if you play a game with your sister or your best friend, please DO feel free to post about it here too!

January: Getting to Know You


January is a Time of New Beginnings!

Board Game: Happy New Year

As it is with this group.

Hi, I'm Roger Wink and I'll be taking over this list along with David Wiley (we'll rotate every three months).

As an introduction, I'm a lifelong gamer who got started with early TV games shows and their board game counterparts, moved on to war (Africa Korps) and 3M Bookshelf and Sports games and ended up taking some time off while in college. When my son got into Magic in the mid-90's, I started hanging around in game stores and had my mind opened up to the world of hobby gaming.

In the rest of my life, I have been married for forty years to my wife, Karen, who is my main gaming partner, and have two grown kids, Courtney and Josh, who are also gamers. For work, I am the administrator for the music lending library for our county's (Monroe, NY) schools and the New York State Music Association along with the county's Science Kit program. I have also been the owner of the website VVN Music and hosted the VVN Music Podcast.

Now it's your turn. Tell me a bit about yourselves and, because it's January, what are your new year's resolutions, specifically for gaming.

Here are the Stats


As of this posting, last month's top game was once again Wingspan at 7 entries.

In January 2019, the most played game was also Wingspan with 7 unique plays. In January 2018, the most played game was The Fox in the Forest with 5 unique plays. In January 2017, the most played games were The Castles of Burgundy and Santorini with 4 unique plays each.

Top poster for December was
Parisian Dreams
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with 28 unique entries!

You can find all the stats for this geeklist on our aggregator. It's a great resource for discovering great 2-player titles old and new: http://couples.onesuponagame.com

Last month's stats are here: http://couples.onesuponagame.com/Detail/Geeklist/265034/dece...

Got Questions?

NEW!

We're happy to help! If you've got questions about an item on the geeklist, please post your questions as a comment on that item.

For any other questions or to ask for recommendations please use the discussion forum in our Guild, A Couple of Gamers.

Thank Yous

Thank you to David M for administering the list over the last year or so.

Grateful for this geeklist? Geeklist thank yous are here.

And finally...

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1. Board Game: Happy New Year [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Happy New Year
Roger Wink
United States
Penfield
New York
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2. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:614] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
Board Game: Cribbage
How could I resist the opportunity to add the very first entry of the year?

Last night we celebrated new year's eve quietly, with our son and two close family members. We played some games during the evening, of course. Klask was a success as well as Skull.

Our first play of the year, once our guests left, was Cribbage. We wanted to play something and chat a little before bed, and we were way too tired to think much so the choice was easy. This game is a favourite of ours since discovering it through BGG - it's quite unheard of in France. We have also introduced some friends and family and it went over well.

Anyway, Laura beat me by a few points, I think I was at 115 by the end of the game.

We wish you all a great year!
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3. Board Game: Tiny Epic Mechs [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:2005]
Board Game: Tiny Epic Mechs
Kobus Brits
South Africa
Cape Town
Western Cape
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Got this as a Christmas present. Played our first game and we actually really enjoyed it. Nice 'light' game with some interesting mechanics and planning required. Keen to introduce this to some of our non-gamer friends.

From gallery of Kobus_Brits
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4. Board Game: The Fox in the Forest Duet [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:3902]
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest Duet
Sarah ...
United States
Minnesota
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We decided to begin the New Year by playing new games!

We’ve played this one once, but still counts as pretty new and I wanted to try it out again.

We enjoyed it just as much, even though we lost this time. It’s fun to lead a trick and guess/hope what your partner will play. It’s fun to follow a trick because if you have options to play you can see what exactly is going to happen, so can play what you think will help the most seeing how the piece is going to move.

I wrote a bit more about this in December, but still don’t know what to write to be truly helpful ... so feel free to ask any question about the game!
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5. Board Game: Catlantis [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:12262]
Board Game: Catlantis
Sarah ...
United States
Minnesota
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Now onto first time plays of games for us!

So, I bought this game for it’s look, to fill out an order for free shipping and thought might be a good game for our daughter as she gets older.

I really like the look of the game ...the card art is shiny and gives it an underwater feel.

This game will obviously be better when playing with 3 and I’m sure best with 4. At two players it wasn’t bad but was pretty easy to collect cats and fins you wanted just because of the sheer number of cards you get. No matter the player count you go through the deck so you get a lot more cards at 2 player then 4. On your turn there are 4 cards to choose from you select two and offer them to another player (when more then 2 players you have gems to keep track of who you offered to because you have to offer to everyone equally) the player you offer to keeps one card and you get the other. Then two more cards come out for the next player.

We still liked it ... but don’t think we’ll play a ton more at 2 player.
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6. Board Game: Circle the Wagons [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:1382]
Board Game: Circle the Wagons
Sarah ...
United States
Minnesota
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Another new game for us.

This game seems so simple ... and really is rules wise, but found out right away it’s impossible to do well at all the scoring opportunities. I guess unless if you’re much better then us ... you won’t get big scores for all the different land types and score well in all three objectives. Based on my first couple cards I decided to ignore one scoring card and concentrate on the others and concentrated on land type as I got it.

I think Jeremy skipped two cards once and maybe a single card and then I skipped a card at the end. At the beginning of the game I felt so overwhelmed trying to do everything all the cards felt the same, so I saw no point in skipping.

Our scores were really close ... only 1 apart and the person with the smaller boomtown won.

We really enjoyed our play and happy to have it in our collection.
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7. Board Game: Fleet: The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:1213]
Board Game: Fleet: The Dice Game
Sarah ...
United States
Minnesota
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Another new game for us and a Christmas present.

The first round I didn’t understand how people could have a difficult time keeping track of things ... by round three I constantly felt like I was forgetting to give myself some bonus!

I started with Sword Fish and was happy with my bonus action after fishing ... Jeremy started with Lobsters and I became jealous of his income.

We both enjoyed the game so much. We went after different fishing boats overall, although there was some overlap. The harbor and town we had different strategies and it was fun to see how they worked out over the game.

I think it’ll always be a task to make sure you’re getting all your bonuses but much easier when you’re not tired!

I’m not sure if this will be our favorite roll and write ... but it might be. We also don’t have a ton of Roll and Writes just Castles of Burgundy Dice, Qwixx and I thought another one but without looking at our collection I’m not sure. Plus I have a few digital ones.
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8. Board Game: Legendary Forests [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:5227]
Board Game: Legendary Forests
Sarah ...
United States
Minnesota
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Another first play and Christmas gift.

This one is such a fun puzzle. We placed our first tile the same and I’m not sure about the second but by our third tile our world building was going in different directions. I was really enjoying building out my world and was sad when we were at the last (19th) tile to place. By the end our worlds looked very different. We always seemed to take different color scoring trees although in the end we had two of each anyways.

It was a nice relaxing game to play.
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9. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:205]
Board Game: Antiquity
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Ended up choosing my saint as Santa Maria, and my friend Nick chose San Nicolo. It was pretty tense deciding to pick Santa Maria since it meant I had to achieve two victory conditions, and I regretted my decision pretty quickly because Nick was making it towards his single victory condition faster than I could get to either of mine. I decided to spread out to force him to be unable to place pollution, I also explored, forcing the famine tracker up faster than he was getting food, thus giving him graves. My intention was to make him lose the game so I didn't have to "win".

He ended up getting out of the famine issue by building fountains (dropping the amount of food needed), but the lower requirement on food meant I could build inns more easily and spread out my influence even further, which achieved my San Giogorio condition. We ended up winning on the same turn (him from building his last house, me from building a city and six buildings at once to achieve the Barbara condition). But because of my larger spread of influence, I had more non-polluted spaces in my zone of control, and won by a tie breaker. It was very intense

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10. Board Game: The Fox in the Forest [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:386]
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
Sam S.
United States
Long Island
New York
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After a pretty sedate New Year’s Eve (though we did split a pint of Americone Dream! Wild, I know...) this morning we decided to do a gameday of “small games”. We started off with Fox in the Forest, which we had only played once before. As I shuffled the deck and we went over the simple rules once more, I reminded April how she always beats me at trick taking games, which she denied.

Fox in the Forest is an interesting, two-player only, trick taking game. There are three suits, and all the odd cards have special powers that change the gameplay up a little bit. The scoring mechanism is very interesting, in that if you win too many tricks (being greedy) you get zero points. There is a sweet spot of winning either 0-3 or 7-9 of the 13 tricks in a round. Doing either will give you six points, winning over 9 will get you zero, and between 4 and 6 will get you between 1 and 3 points. You play until at least one player has over 21 points at the end of the round. Highest points wins.

The odd-numbered cards that have powers on them don’t drastically change the game but do add some more tactical and even strategic choices to the game.

All in all it’s a very well done 2p implementation of a trick taking game.

And even though I was winning much of the game, April beat me 22 to 19.

My WCHBP Mini-Review:
Pros:
+ Extremely easy to teach, especially if someone has played trick-taking games before.
+ Very small form factor and table presence; great for a traveling game.
+ Streamlined gameplay that retains interesting choices.
+ Quick to play (box states 30 minutes, will be less with experienced players). Easy enough to “play one more time”.
+ Attractive art on the cards.
+ Very inexpensive game (~$12).

Cons:
o None yet, though given the limited card set (33 cards), I’m concerned that it may get a bit “same-y” after a high number of plays but given the price point, even if true not much of a concern.
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11. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:16]
Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel
Sam S.
United States
Long Island
New York
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For our second game of the 2020 New Year’s Small Box Gameday (which is what it’s officially called now), we played 7 Wonders Duel, with the 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon expansion.

We’ve got a fair number of plays with the base game, but this is only our second or third time playing with the expansions, which we both really like.

You can check out my WCHBP mini-review for the base game here:Item for Geeklist "What Couples Have Been Playing (WCHBP) — August 2019" . I’m going to wait one or two more games before doing one for Pantheon.

The game was tight the whole way though, though I was looking good into Age III when April wound up getting the sixth science card she needed for a Science Victory (it was one of a small number of face down cards in the display so I though I was good - wrong!) and laughed gleefully when she beat me (it looked like I had a pretty strong lead on points, and I had five science tokens as well).

So far I’m down 2-0 on the day. And still she doesn’t believe me when I tell her she wins her fair share of games....
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12. Board Game: Caverna: Cave vs Cave [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:605]
Board Game: Caverna: Cave vs Cave
Sam S.
United States
Long Island
New York
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Next up was the 2p version of Caverna. A concise worker placement game (made to look like action selection). Nice bit of exploration, resource management and engine building too.

The streak continues with April beating me 51 to 48. Yep, she never wins.....

For my WCHBP mini-review of Caverna: Cave vs Cave click here: Item for Geeklist "What Couples Have Been Playing (WCHBP) — March 2019"
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13. Board Game: Funkoverse Strategy Game: Harry Potter 100 [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:5281] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Board Game: Funkoverse Strategy Game: Harry Potter 4-Pack
Adrian Pillai
France
Paris
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Got this for elfgirl who is an avid Harry Potter fan. How avid? Books before movies avid. How avid? Loves book version Ron Weasley - deserving best friend of Harry, not movie ruined Ron.

Anyway, back to the game. We got in a learning game and even after just that one scenario we can see how good this game actually is. Not straightforward simple (the rules are well written but still made us go 'huh?' A couple of times.

Anyway, during one turn her Harry had my Bellatrix in attack range. That is until my Death Eater came out of nowhere right in front of Harry. It just feels... cinematic and just so cool.

Speaking of cool, the cooldown track is worthy of the hype. It's simple but it adds so much strategic consideration. I timed my attacks coming off the cool down track let my Vol(he who shall not be named) to strike down Hermione and an Auror with the same attack. Harry resisted (so cinematic!)

Elfgirl's rating for this game: 8/10
My rating: 7/10, but with its potential, I'm sure I'll bump it to 8/10 soon.

Am already planning on getting the Ron expandalone. If they made a Hogwarts teachers edition with Snape, Mcgonagall etc., I'm pretty sure I'm gonna come home one evening to find it all set up, ready to play.

Me... my god, if they make a Star Wars version which had Han Solo and Boba Fett...
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14. Board Game: Above and Below [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:216] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Board Game: Above and Below
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Happy New Year everyone! This was our first game of the new year, a new to us game that we saved for Christmas.

We really enjoyed it (loved storybook aspect). Although it's got lots of bits, we did not find it too complex. I had an organizer inset for it (Folded Space) which really helped with set up, organizing the play space and putting it away.

I'm curious about Near and Far and the upcoming Sleeping Gods because of the storytelling aspect but I've heard that they are considerably more complex and may be out of my husband's complexity range.

My husband won 57 to my 50..
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15. Board Game: Trash Pandas [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2911]
Board Game: Trash Pandas
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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For our second game, we played this light filler with set collection and press your luck.

(Jamey Stegmaier mentions this game as his favourite press your luck game in one of his recent videos about favourite mechanics.) There is some "take that" in the game (card stealing) but the game is so light that we don't mind. (There are also cards that block the stealing and ones that turn the tables on your opponent).

I won with 21 points to my husband's 11, probably because I got quite lucky on some dice rolls.
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16. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:249]
Board Game: Takenoko
Anna Yalci
United Kingdom
Oxford
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I have decided to go back over some of my old games so we played this today. We enjoyed it and it plays well with two people. My husband beat me by 1 point!
I am going to try very hard to play some of the older games in the hope that I can save some money by not buying new ones, but I am not sure it will work!
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17. Board Game: Quarto [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:907]
Board Game: Quarto
Frances McGregor
Canada
The Pas
Manitoba
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I bought Qwinto in the Board Game Bliss holiday sale and mentioned it to my husband.

"Oh, so it's like Quarto, except it plays 5 people!" he said.

And I said that if it did play more people, it would be 3. Anyway, he mentioned that he wanted to play Quarto, so we did!

We played twice! I won the first game, and he won the second game! What a fantastic, quick little abstract. I've got to pull it out more often!
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18. Board Game: Cat Café [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:6009]
Board Game: Cat Café
Elizabeth Williams
United States
Colorado
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Hi, everyone! I’m new to this geek list (not just this month).

My husband and I played Cat Cafe (new to us) to kick off the New Year. It was sweet, and easy for two, though as beginners, we found that we needed to keep the rules open in front of us to keep track of the scoring rules. I think that will go away with just a couple more plays, though.

We may try it with 4 people in the near future. If so, I’ll leave a note about how it compares to just 2.

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19. Board Game: Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated [Average Rating:8.91 Overall Rank:578]
Board Game: Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated
Kayla D
United States
Washington
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My partner got me Clank! Legacy for Christmas, and we played our first game today. We just played through the prologue, but we had so much fun. We've both played Clank! and Clank! in Space before, but this is easily the most fun we have had with the game yet. We're really excited to continue the campaign throughout the year!

I even added it to my 10x5 challenge... there are a lot of legacy games on there, which might be cheating, but sshhh.
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20. Board Game: Wingspan [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:24]
Board Game: Wingspan
Kayla D
United States
Washington
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And here we go, Wingspan! This was a birthday gift back in November and we have played it many times since then. We really like it at two player - it plays very quickly and sets up and packs down quickly as well.

He beat me by 1 point with a score of 84 to 83.

We have been playing with the Wingspan: European Expansion as well ever since I got that in the BGG Secret Santa. I'm sure this is going to get in a lot more plays in 2020!
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21. Board Game: Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2813]
Board Game: Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write
Elizabeth Williams
United States
Colorado
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This is another new-to-us game, which we wanted to learn in case we play with another couple this weekend. I really liked that this has a few modes: very basic, to initially get the hang of the game. Then there’s an advanced mode, which adds a new phase to each round, but is very doable.

The game has one score pad that’s used in all games. There are two other pads: one for competitive mode, the other for solo mode. The competitive mode pad is the same sheet each time, but the solo mode is all unique pads. According to the forums, the solo mode is more interesting, even for more players in competitive mode. So we already bought additional solo pads to try later, once we know the game well and want some variety between plays.

This played well enough at 2, but I’m looking forward to trying this beyond the basic rules.
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22. Board Game: Wingspan [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:24]
Board Game: Wingspan
Since having our second child in April, gaming has slowed to a crawl: a busy two-and-a-half year-old combined with a busy 8 month old is quite a combo. Our usual slate of medium-heavy euro games (Gaia Project, Great Western Trail, etc.) just doesn't work very often. I've been picking up some 30-45 minutes games, hoping a few of them might be minor hits at our table. N doesn't tend to enjoy lighter, simpler stuff, and neither do I, but we are trying some new ones out in order to be able to play games at all!

Wingspan takes about 30-40 minutes for us right now, which is the sweet spot. Today I scored my highest (77) and N her lowest (52?), but my highest wasn't as high as her highest (86) nor was her lowest as low as my lowest!

I don't need to give you all the pros and cons of this game. You all play it too!

N likes it more than me, but for a 30 minute game, I think this game is great. Very much a keeper for weekday gaming.
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23. Board Game: Maracaibo [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:238]
From gallery of Photodump
I usually acquire a fair number of new medium/medium-heavy euros in the fall and winter as the Essen releases come out. With two little ones, and precious little time for uninterrupted gaming, I've cut down tremendously. This year I *cancelled* pre-orders for Black Angel, Cooper Island, Crystal Palace, and more. But one pre-order I was never going to cancel: Maracaibo.

Alexander Pfister designed Broom Service, Isle of Skye, and Great Western Trail - three favourites of mine - and after reading the rulebook for Maracaibo, I made it my number one priority for acquisition.

Today I taught it to N - who was NOT in the mood to learn a new game, and who definitely did NOT want to learn and play a long game with a million icons. I pointed out to her that there would be no better day to learn it in the coming month, so she came back with, "Let's get this over with."

We sat down. We were interrupted several times. Tea needed to be made. Daughter needed help with playdough. At the one-third point, N said, "My head hurts." And then it happened. "Ooooh!" "Cool. Got that boosted." "Sweet! Three career goals completed."

Two hours after it began, it was over. And we had a lot of fun, even though we both admit our strategy was clumsy. Final score: 154-154!

Nice board presence, art, and clear icons.
Lots if approaches might be viable: forts, cards, quests, journey, prestige buildings...
Even without all the Story Mode stuff, I feel like this is a challenging and interesting games I could get a lot of play out of.
Game flow is surprisingly quick once you get the hang of all the possible options. I think we can get this down to 75 minutes.

...but learning all those options is overwhelming. I didn't teach N about prestige buildings, majority bonuses, career goals, ship power-ups, nor did I mention much about journeying, points for skipped workers, or how all the end game points came together. I had my hands full with movement bonuses, iconography, battle rules, displacement effects, worker actions in villages, token activations, and end-of-round flow. Yeesh!

For me, Maracaibo is tied with Ecos: First Continent as my games of the year for 2019!
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24. Board Game: Habitats [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:1372]
Board Game: Habitats
Canada
BC
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Started off 2020 with our favourite board game! We both had really low scores and I screwed up so many things. Our brains were not working right tonight!
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25. Board Game: Azul: Summer Pavilion [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:548]
Board Game: Azul: Summer Pavilion
Parisian Dreams
Canada
AB
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I **finally** received my copy just after Christmas. I say finally because Next Move/Plan B seem to have issues getting their games to Canada for Distribution (don't even ask me about Black Out Hong Kong) for some reason.

We set this up this morning and played two games back to back. We typically play Azul games 3xs in a row as a mini tournament to declare the ultimate winner. We started this for games in our collection we play in about 20m - Azul(s), Splendor, Patchwork and a few others fall into this category.

We only played twice even though I won the first and he won the 2nd. Mostly because I wanted to play another game this morning and neither of us are still feeling that great. O has been fighting a bad head cold for over a week that won't let go and I have caught it.

We both enjoyed this "third" instalment of Azul but I think we still prefer the 'original' the best.

What we liked in Summer Pavillion;
Planning ahead. I liked that you could save up to 4 tiles per round.
Wild colours each round, which play into the above, taking them early when you can grab more then 1 at a time to then use in the following round.
negative points - I prefer how they work in this Azul versus the previous versions. I like that as soon as you/opponents take from the middle for the first time, you can somewhat decide how many negative points you take. I also like that it does not compound and then you take a huge hit all at once like in Stained Glass. I guess in a way it's similar to original Azul in that you are taking X negative each round if you can't fit your tiles in your rows. This though seems more controlled to an extent and feels like less screwage from opponents.
I like the added surround a statue/pillar/window - gain x tiles from the centre flower. It adds more depth to the game.

What we did not enjoy;
We both still prefer Azul. We do not play Azul for depth/complexity, we play it for a 'light' evening or lunch time game. This version adds more depth, complexity and I feel is more a gamer's game. That's not a bad thing, we both think it's a good game, just not what we look for when we pick Azul as a game to play.

How we would currently rate/order them in what we prefer to play;

- Azul
- Azul: Summer Pavilion
- Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

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Game one I tried to fill up the flowers, game two I changed tactics and tried to score points for having all of one number complete and fill the 2 higher value flowers. I succeeded in getting numbers 1-4 all filled in each flower but only managed to fill one flower completely. Our second game we also took better advantage of the 'public' flower to gain tiles there.
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