A fine month of gaming... August 2010 plays
Burke Glover
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Well this month I managed to top 50 plays logged for the first time ever! That's in part due to a couple of short, replayable games (wouldn't have hit 50 without Puzzle Strike), but there's a nice breadth of games here too, with 31 different games played. So I'm celebrating 57 plays in an month with a geeklist of EVERYTHING I played in August. This is not likely to become a regular thing, but I haven't actually written anything about games in a while, so the big month is my excuse I guess. Here we go!

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1. Board Game: Puzzle Strike [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1468]
Burke Glover
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13 plays

Got this at the beginning of the month, and am happy to have gotten in 13 plays. I enjoy it quite a bit. It's a Dominion clone with some pretty clever player interactions, and everyone has a different starting character with three unique chips that change things up quite a bit. There are some very important chips which must always be purchased, but that hasn't made the game stale, yet. Now that I've got a few games under my belt I'll try to push the limits of what can be done. (Can you play without combines?) (Can an all-wound strategy win?) (Can you get away with buying ONLY purples?) (Can you beat someone else who's buying only purples?)

There are some downsides, mostly having to do with the production. Unfortunately the game relies on colors as identifiers and the colors are often so muddy that telling them apart is near impossible. Thus far we've been making spot judgments and moving on, but I feel like printing up a cheat sheet of the chips with their proper colors is going to be a necessity.
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2. Board Game: Wildlife Safari [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1356]
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5 plays

Great game that does so much with so little. Because of its length it's one that is usually played multiple times in one setting. I really adore games that are as pure as this.
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3. Board Game: Thunderstone [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:561] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
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4 plays

Most of my Thunderstone play is solo, including all four of this month's plays. Added the Dwarf Clan promo. I recommend the promo for any TS fans out there, as it adds a solid new hero but not one so overpowered that it messes up the game. Nothing worse than a broken promo expansion, I say.
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4. Board Game: Wyatt Earp [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:861]
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3 plays

I'm not a huge fan of this, but my mom is! Her birthday was this month so I brought this home. She's pretty good at it but avoids the "take that" cards like the hideout. This is often to her detriment since I have no qualms about using them on her. Still, she got one crushing victory over me, getting 23 out of the 25 needed to finish the game in the first hand.
 
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5. Board Game: A la carte [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1547]
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2 plays

The Easy Bake boardgame! I like the bit where you flip the crepe token in your pan. I'm pretty good at that. The spice bottles aren't as friendly to me. I remember one instance where there was only one spice crystal in the bottle... and it STILL didn't come out when I poured! Dumb fun, and a lot of laughs.
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6. Board Game: Chinatown [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:372]
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2 plays

I was happy to trade away Cosmic Encounter for this last month. It got two plays this month, both with my family. Being fans of Traders of Genoa, they all took to it pretty much immediately. A great time was had by all. If you're a Traders of Genoa fan, but want something a little shorter, this may fit the bill. It's not as deep as Traders but can scratch some of that itch in a much shorter time.
 
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7. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:357]
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2 plays

This is a perfect niche game for me when I'm in the mood for an American-style dice combat game. It avoids the length and tedium of something like Risk, though I wonder if it would get too lengthy with more players (I nearly always play this with just two). I wish the industry had continued in this direction, striving for that perfect hybrid of Euro and American styles. I feel like this game comes pretty close.
 
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8. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:16]
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Two very different games of PR this month, one a 5 player with a game group, one a 3 player with my parents. The vast majority of my plays are 3 player with my parents, and I found myself quickly in hot water in the 5 player game. My money strategy fell flat when the other players snapped up the coffee buildings, leaving my coffee plantations to rot and my factory running at less-than-peak efficiency. That simply doesn't happen in 3 player games.

Anyway the 3 player game was a resounding victory! While the 5 player was a crushing defeat. Puerto Rico, you are a harsh mistress.
 
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9. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:589] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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2 plays

My neurons snapped and crackled, but they never seemed to pop fast enough to compete, which is a shame because I like this game a lot in theory. I guess it says a lot about the game that I still kind of want to play it even though it's a foregone conclusion that I will lose by a wide margin.
 
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10. Board Game: 11 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2599]
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Well, the claim amongst my group is that this offers more control than the classic 6 nimmt. I haven't played either enough to decide if that's true or not, but my gut tells me 6 nimmt is the better game regardless of how much control there is.
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11. Board Game: Age of Industry [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:501]
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I still get confused about the difference between harbors and other ports, and I still think Brass is better, but this is pretty good. On an unrelated note, does anyone else call those generic goods X-Boxes?
 
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12. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:119]
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This was one of the better games of Age of Steam I've had in recent memory, an incredibly tight and nasty 3 player scrum. I thought I was doing really well until the last two or three turns when I realized I'd run out of 6 link deliveries and the second place player was going to be able to deliver 6s for the rest of the game, and my 5s wouldn't be able to keep up. He pulled away slowly, like in one of those dreams where you're chasing something that always seems to slip through your fingertips. This really is starting to become a favorite with me.
 
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13. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:269]
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1 play

I love Kinizia games. I love auction games. I just CAN'T figure this one out! My record on this one is 0-8, and I can never look back and say, "This is what I should have done differently."
 
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14. Board Game: Australia [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2009]
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Hoo boy. It's dry and highly dependent upon the guy on your right screwing up. It's not terrible by any means but... not really my thing. Also, I am not a theme stickler, but come on! This does absolutely nothing to evoke its setting, because it has nothing to do with the setting.
 
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15. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:340]
Burke Glover
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I am not a math guy, but I am a guy that likes a good challenge, and I find you can play this somewhat intuitively, in spite of its mathyness. Unfortunately this time I got stuck with the job of being banker in a five player game which basically ruined it for me. I'm not entirely certain but I have the feeling that in this case I inadvertently screwed myself by dropping a substantial chunk of my own money into the bank around turn 2. I never came close to recovering. Even if I hadn't screwed that up, Automobile is a game that, at least for me, requires a great deal of computation, and if I'm constantly being distracted by banking for everyone else I'm sure to fail. No more banking for Automobile!
 
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16. Board Game: The Bottle Imp [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1103]
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I like trick taking games, but this... I don't know. It never seems to work quite right. In this case, one player found himself in a kingmaker position, leading to a resounding "ho hum" from all. We played by limited number of hands, which didn't help, but I suspect that playing to a score could lead to the same problem.
 
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17. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:791]
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I love this game but I may have to dock it a ratings point due to the fact that it nearly always ends in a tie, and the tiebreaker is downright awful. I like close games but... this game is pretty much always too close. For the record, this month's play was a tie.
 
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18. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:113]
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Jury's still out on this one, but it's not growing on me yet. The initial jockeying for extra actions is SO important that it's starting to feel samey. Also I don't like the weird tokens very much. The hieroglyphs on them are pretty much undecipherable to me. Others in my group like it enough that I'll probably play it a few more times.
 
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19. Board Game: Hoity Toity [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1271]
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A great light game for lots of people. Classic. The weird way the pawns seem to haltingly lurch forward is both fun and confusing as hell... I can never seem to time it so I have a nice hand for the endgame. But this one's always a lot of fun.
 
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20. Board Game: Kupferkessel Co. [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1564]
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It's one of the few short two-player games that's always on hand on game night, so it gets played every once in a while. I never really got a handle on all the weird little intricacies. This feels like maybe it's a little too quirky for its own good.
 
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21. Board Game: Last Train to Wensleydale [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1397]
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It has all the punishing nastiness of something like Age of Steam without any of the intuitiveness. I like it though, especially the really tight map that constrains players so much. Seems to force some really vicious competition. An early mistake took me out of the game on turn one (it REALLY punishes mistakes), but I have seen the various errors of my ways and want to get this one played again soon.
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22. Board Game: Magical Athlete [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2498]
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It's dumb fun. Really, really dumb. A simple dice/pawn moving race, but with special powers that interact to make all kinds of really weird things happen. The opening draft for characters is kind of neat but there's little choice in what happens after that. And yet... it's one of those things where everyone hoots and hollers and laughs at the stupidity of it all.
 
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What a bizarre game. The theme is well presented with the great comic-book style board. But it's integrated in a strange way. For instance, destroying cities is less the focus than fighting each other. Furthermore, you won't want to outright destroy a city because that would be a waste of your resources... you're better off just letting someone else finish the job. Protecting cities is also sort of awkward because you'd rather be attacking someone else. And that whole passing thing where you might get a free action is funky too. Overall I'm not sure this is all that successful but it certainly is unique.
 
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24. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1096]
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A fine little dice game, but doesn't have that spark to make it really special. Taking the other players' tiles is interesting, but it doesn't have the pure excitement of the races in Can't Stop.
 
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25. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:137]
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An all-time favorite that I'll play in almost any situation. In this case, it came down to a tight final epoch between me and my nearest competitor. I was going for sets of monuments, he was going for different ones. In the end he filled out his collection while preventing me from getting the fourth monuments I wanted for my sets. In spite of losing 5 points for suns, he won, by something like 3 points. Next time it will be different. Also, we had one habitual Ra-sterbator... he got a full rack of tiles at the end of the first epoch but was foiled in the second and third. Remember folks, the sun god does not look kindly upon playing with yourself.
 
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