GCL Phoenix 34 - When I got there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog got none (8/28/11)
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Welcome to the GameChat League: Phoenix Division weekly geeklist.

Did you stumble here by accident or via a subscription? Find out more about us here: GCL_Phoenix.


Roster: (bolded individual is list preparer next week)

1. Bruzza
2. Chally
3. Eeeville
4. Enzo622
5. Hawkeye (We switched weeks)
6. Indigopotter
7. JohnRayJr
8. Judoka
9. Leroy43
10. Lowengrin
11. Mr_Nuts
12. Ravenskana
13. Rynelf
14. Taibi
15. Tjshields
16. Topherr
17. Yokiboy
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1. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:20]
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Wurtsboro
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DJ asked me to switch weeks with him, and as I read through the current GCL list with all of its great questions, I thought to myself, "Kurt didn't leave me anything!" It occurred to me to turn that around, and use that as the theme for this week's GCL:

"In what games is not leaving your opponent something a viable strategy? How do you feel about it? Is it too much or not enough interaction for you?"

Agricola was one of the first things to come to mind, especially when there is a flock of sheep overflowing its pen. Sometimes taking all of the wood or all of the sheep is a necessary thing in Agricola, as you both need it, but you got there first. But taking the sheep and letting them run free just to deny your opponent is also a valid move. When playing with just the two of us, we don't do that. When playing 2p, we have a very low threshold for conflict and screwage. Some games that have the potential for direct aggression (removing a card from a society in Utopian Rummy, for example) we play, but we only use that power to help ourselves (remove a bad card from our own society) rather than attack our opponent (removing a good card from their society).

When playing with 4p, we'll play games that we wouldn't play with 2 (Small World comes to mind) and direct attacking was okay, since it was happening in lots of directions at once. I've been in games where everyone decided to gang up on me since it was perceived that I was better at the game, and that wasn't fun, but I don't mind a standard move, like using a red card to demand something in Glory to Rome.

What about your game partners/game groups? What kind of interaction/conflict/confrontation do you allow, like, and prefer? Do you relish in setting the sheep free to put the screws to your neighbor? Do you take only what you need? Is denying a resource not enough direct conflict or confrontation for you, and you want to be able to go over to your neighbor's farm and steal sheep directly?
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2. Board Game: Girl Talk Date Line [Average Rating:5.78 Unranked]
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Wurtsboro
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For making plans for online gaming.
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3. Board Game: Casino Yahtzee [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:9675]
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Utopian Rummy 8
Ra: the Dice Game 6
Casino Yahtzee 1 (thrifted yesterday, played last night)

Usually I would tell you about the silly fun we had with Casino Yahtzee, but my heart's not in it - as we were playing the game, I got a call that my mother was in a car accident, and is in the hospital in NC. They were keeping her overnight for observation. Suffice it to say that I'm not feeling very talkative at the moment.
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4. Board Game: The Climbers [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1113]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Gaming News:
I managed to accomplish my first official trade! I found someone locally who was wanting my copy of Norenberc, and in exchange I got The Climbers, Agricola: Gamers' Deck, and Frank's Zoo. It may be awhile before the latter two get used, but the Climbers has already done well with my boys, and I'm happy that Norenberc is off to a good home and with luck will get played more than we managed.

I'm also very close to preordering one of the Essen crop. Vanuatu has recently got on my radar and I really like the looks of this. I showed the rules to my boys and both of them had a good interest in the game. They liked that it has tile placement like Tikal, characters to select in each round like Carson City, and the overall look of the game, while I really like the theme, the spatial movement of boats to collect and deliver fish, as well as the many other options, including quirky things like "drawing in the sand." The mechanic of action resolution (in order choose an action where you have the majority) looks really clever.

I'm thinking it over but I may put that order in later this week.

Games Played:
_7_ The Climbers x3
Some learning games with my boys and some other kids at BAP. This went over pretty well, and while I lost in both my games it was close and everyone had a great time. I left the game in the boys' hands and went to play with my daughter, soon after that I noticed they had turned into an improputu cooperative Jenga style game or something. Looks like fun whether you follow the rules or use it as a toolkit. My boys and I then played a third round at home and then I got a win.

_5_ Sorry Sliders x1
A quick game with my daugher. She made me "pause" before finishing the game so she could catch up and win.

_5_ Yomi x1
Someone brought the full Yomi box to BAP and so my oldest son and I tried two decks we didn't have. He defeated my Max Geiger character rather easily with his Aragarg.

_7_ Navegador x1
Borrowed Dave's copy at BAP and played with my boys. It was just the three of us so it was up to me to teach the game, and as usual for a new game, I messed up a few things so the overall score is suspect, but my churches/workers did a bit better than my youngest sons factories which did a bit better than my oldest son's colonies.

My oldest son liked that it was not aggressive and he liked the market. However, the game overall he was lukewarm on. As he said "It's not the first thing I would jump at." He likes the rondel which reminded him of Finca. He didn't like that someone can win a prestige token before him (oops, that was me). He says he would play it again but also says I shouldn't buy it. His initial rating is about a 6.

My youngest liked the game more than his brother. He also liked how the market fluctuated, although he didn't like it when other people changed the market ahead of him. The multiplers were neat but he claims (and this is true) that I didn't explain the end scoring well enough. He would play it again and wouldn't mind if we had it but other games are more interesting like Vanuatu. On a scale of 1 to 10 he says it is probably an 8.

I will say this was a great game for us to play at BAP. I didn't mark the actual time we spent playing, but it was nowhere near as long as some of the other games going on in the room, and luckily, my daughter was well entertained by iPhone games. This was a concern for me as I was doing my impression of a single parent as my wife is once again travelling for work. I would like to get another game in just to play with the correct rules. The main thing we missed is we didn't use the orange boat on the rondel to track when to give up the Navegador card, so it wasn't used as much as it should have been.
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5. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:140] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Carcassonne x 1
Yggdrasil x 1
Hansa x 1
Onirim x 2
Chronicle x 1
The Castle of the Devil x 2

RattleSnake x 3
Hey, That's My Fish! x 2
Container x 1
Shadow Hunters x 3

Carcassonne has been enjoying a mini-revival with us over the last few weeks. We've played 3 games of it this month, one with Abbey & Mayor, one with Inns & Cathedrals and one with Traders & Builders. After playing a few card-heavy games (London, Hanabi) with her trying to hold the baby and play the same time, we decided to play something where you don't need to hold and organize things in your hands. Add the fact that we've both been pretty exhausted for the last few months so we wanted something familiar and Carcassonne was the easy choice. We've also been playing with Carcassonne: The Phantom, which looks pretty sharp.

I played my first 2-player game of Yggdrasil and, not coincidentally, saw my first win at this game. Having the weapons divided amongst 2 players rather than 5 or 6 makes a huge difference. It was challenging, but winnable.

Hansa
(not Teutonica) saw play for the first time in a long time. It was nice to play it again, but by the same token it reinforced the notion that we could do without owning the game. It was nice enough, and there are things we like about it, but it's nothing special. The only real reason to keep it is that it probably wouldn't fetch much in an auction. Then again, if the buyer is paying for shipping then it doesn't matter. I'd like to pick up Catacombs (now that it's back in print) and may have a small auction to raise some cash (Grimoire, Mines of Zavandor, Hansa).

Chronicle showed me some interesting things and seems like a nice change-of-pace game for me. My only concern is getting it to the table enough to get used to it. It didn't go over as well as The Castle of the Devil, which I disliked.

Onirim has unique artwork, and I'll have to try the expansions solo to see if they offer more than the base game (which is functional but nothing special).

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6. Board Game: God's Playground [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:1446]
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Ben
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Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:
_9_ God's Playground


Gaming Notes:
As I mentioned last week, I finally had the opportunity to get God's Playground to the table with people other than myself. I'm really enamored by this game (as I tend to be with most games that lay bare the incentive structures of the players). I did not play particularly well, which means that I need to spend more time internalizing the game's various trade-offs.

One feature of the design that I particularly admire is the use of influence blocks. For those who are wholly unfamiliar with the game, players start with 12 wood blocks (two sets numbered 0-5). On a turn, players simultaneously and secretly assign six blocks face-down to various regions on the game board. The unused blocks fro the first turn are used on the second turn. These blocks represent the allocation of political influence, the primary resource in the game. The mechanic is beautiful: all players employ the same total amount of influence over the course of the game, but the forced allocation of that influence in pre-determined discrete chunks immediately leads to asymmetric positions and incentives across players. The combination of equality and asymmetry is something quite special.

I might have some more thoughts later, but I'm going to head out for a bit.


meeple
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7. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:257]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Games Played: (links go to my play session details)
_6_ Sutakku x3
_6_ Rat-a-Tat Cat
_7_ Fabula
.10! Maria
_5_ Knights

Games Bought:
The Glory to Rome Black Box Edition was charged through Kickstarter, and I also decided to back Eaten by Zombies!.

Representative Item:
Maria was an easy choice, way easy! I'm in love with the game. A three-player wargame just feels so different to me, and how it's pulled off is cheer genius!

Week in Review:
Finally getting to play a complete game of Maria was amazing! This game is likely to have a solid place in my Top 10 for years to come. I also enjoyed my session of Fabula with my two daughters, it's a perfect introductions to storytelling games. On the other end of the spectrum Knatsch just isn't much fun sadly.

Plans for the Week:
None at this time, but hopefully I can sneak in some gaming at least.

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8. Board Game: Holidays [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:12630]
Judit Szepessy
Canada
London
Canada
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Last week in gaming

Scrabble x 2

We came back from our holidays yesterday afternoon. We had a wonderful and fabulous holiday, one of the best so far. We had lots of outstanding experiences throughout our road trip. We met wonderful people and visited beautiful and fun places.

First we stopped in Pittsburgh to spend a few days with my friend and her family. We played Scrabble with my friend's husband, who is from the Phillippines. Wow, he is such an amazing Scrabble player, we have never seen anything like that, and we have played this game with lots of different people throughout the years. He started off with putting all his seven letters down, and he repeated this performance once again in the game. Not only this, but he just looked at the letters and came up with various great combinations.

Unfortunately, we did not meet the Nutses, but we have not given it up, and are working on finding a Sunday when Bryan can take a day off and we could visit them.
However, we talked on the phone and now we can put voices to our faces and conversations!
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9. Board Game: JAB: Realtime Boxing [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2821]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 34:
4x JAB: Realtime Boxing
2x Glen More
1x Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
1x North Pole
1x Race for the Galaxy

Game of Choice:
4 games this week, 7 games in total and still undefeated. It irks V. but she is still eager to play and the game just flows. Sometimes it even comes to blows, when one tries to block and the other stagger - though unintentionally.

Great game with plenty of strategy, which we are still short of exploring fully. Right now it is mainly a matter of speed, though sometimes we try to slow down and keep our heads cool. FUN.

The Week in Review:
This will be the quick version before heading off to bed... extended version to follow tomorrow.


Glen More is proving a pleasant distraction, though not sure of the long-term potential yet. We clock in at 45 minutes, which is fine. Still stumbling at putting together an overall strategy, but getting there. V. is enhoying herself despite 3 wins for me, but as often is the case, she is gaining ground. We are getting better at learning the tiles that might come and when - though the dummy player also has to be taken into account. It can be frustrating... but it helps the game move along and throws you off your game plan from time to time. Interesting game.

Race for the Galaxy was it's usual self. I am sticking with Jesse's plan - we need to play this one 100 more times before we even think about moving on... Personally, I have gained a great deal from playing the game more regularly. You get a better sense of the cards and V. even has the consume phase down now. It is looking good.

Carc was a 2 player team game with the kids and fun as always, though the competitive side in V. and I has to be kept down, otherwise the kids are merely spectators. You can just feel the simmering rage, when I pull the tiles that Team V. needed and the frustration when Team MN sneaked up on the monster plain they were creating. Quick, fun and enjoyable.

Finally a new to us game in North Pole, with M. and he won. Rules are easy to understand and the concept is straightforward, though M. had a frown on his head while the movement was explained to him. It might be because he came straigth from a sleep-over... once the game commenced he had them down. He kept moaning because he couldn't move in the first round and kept it up for a long time. But, once I isolated V. on a single piece of floating ice it allowed him to race ahead on a dog sled, which in tune with the theme of this list, was not on purpose. I had hopes that I could catch him, but I had not thought far enough ahead and was stranded barely able to waddle.

Fun game though and hopefully he has learned that slow off the mark is not dead certain to be last...
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10. Board Game: 18NEB [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:3796]
Christopher Rao
United States
Seattle
WA
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Q:When I say "lawyer" what pops into your head? A:Someone who designs games about penguins." - Dormammu
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Howdy Campers!

This week I had two great game days, and found a new favorite XX game - 18Neb.

18Neb - x3 (new to me!)
Neuroshima Hex - x1
Lancaster - x1
Automobile - x1

I really enjoyed Lancaster for the 3rd play. I can understand why some people think there's nothing so new about the game. I agree that there's no flashy cool new mechanic like a rondel. But I just love this game because of the way that everything in it flows so well. Player decisions are very tough and there's lot of player interaction. Other than XX's, probably my favorite game of the year so far.

I played my worst game of Automobile ever, but really had a blast. This game continues to impress.

I played a quick game of Neuroshima Hex. I play this game on my phone just about every day. It takes about 5 minutes. But I haven't played it very often in person, and it's (obviously) a more challenging experience against human players.

Finally, I am completely psyched about 18Neb. As you all know, I've been really into XX games lately. But each game I've played has some little flaws that hinder its replayability (18Mex is too predictable, as is 18AL, 2038 has a tedious end game, even 1860, which I love, has too little stock market manipulation). Enter 18Neb, which just hits all right points:

1 The six major companies are all very well balanced. This is key, because any company can become a monster. Clearclaw dislikes a lot about his game, and I technically agree with most of his points (most routes go east-west b/c of bonuses, the tokening can be obvious, etc.), but not with his conclusions.

2 The initial auction sequence is fabulous, mainly b/c you get your money back as soon as you are bumped from a small company.

3 The partial capitalization of companies makes it really hard to get enough money into your company to start, adding a nice level of tension.

4 The east-west bonus (you get to count a city twice for any train that runs all the way across the board this way) gives some focus to the routes, but allows for a lot of predictability.

5 The map is very small, but dynamic, and the tile mix is nice.

6 The pace of trains is fast and furious, giving you lots of juicy XX decisions in a relatively short time. I like it very much with both 3 and 4 players.

Before finding 18Neb, I had been playing a lot of 1860, and I still really like. 1860 has enough critical differences from other XX's (mainly that you are never forced to spend your own money to buy your company a train, so there is no possibility of bankruptcy). My gaming buddies don't really love 1860 as much as I do, and over time I've agreed some of their critiques. But so far, I feel like I still have a ton to learn about 18Neb.

In other news, the CGF team is finalizing the art for the Kickstarter GTR box (mainly to assure that the eagle on the box doesn't look too, uh, teutonic), and still waiting to see if I'll need to go to Shanghai next month.

I'm in trial again this week, so my GCL availability remains low. Balancing my main business with the increasing demands of CGF is tricky. Sorry, once again, and have a fabulous week!
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11. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:269]
Железный комиссар
United States
Indiana
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Games Played

Amun-Re x1
Innovation x2
For Sale x1

The Week in Review

Melissa and I have taught her brother Ryan a few games during his visit. The highlight was teaching them both Amun-Re along with Matt and Rachel. The game just clicked for everyone. Matt immediately grasped it and the two of us tied at 42, with me edging him out by one pyramid on the tie-breaker. Melissa told me that it has displaced Battle Line as her favorite Knizia game (!). Ryan has won both games of Innovation, although they've been close.

More gaming than I was expecting, really. I've started a "first play chronicle" of Suikoden II on the VGG side:

First Play of Suikoden II [Part 16: Implacable Fate]

I may be busy with other VGG-related things shortly. ninja
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12. Board Game: Hurricane [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Kurt R
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other.
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More detail later, but the big news is that I have no problems resulting from the "hurricane of our lifetimes". In fact, I'm completely surprised at how mild the event was. I was up till 3am last night as the worst was supposed to hit b/w midnight and 7am, but it was never more than rain. I stepped outside and there was hardly any wind. The mayor was on TV in the evening saying people should prepare to be without power for 7-10 days, so we were all a little alarmed.

A friend of mine who came over in the day decided to crash at my place. We Skyped with another friend and played on BSW together (I have 2 PCs so we each were using one on my couch and Skyping with my friend in the suburbs). We thought we'd game until we lost power but we made it to 2:30am before tiring out.

Not complaining that it was so mild, but I am surprised given all the warnings and coverage we watched yesterday. I had the TV on all day with weather updates. I will say that the TV coverage provided some really good entertainment as we mocked all these gonzo reporters outside in the wind/rain/blowing sand showing us exactly what it's like to be somewhere you shouldn't be. The best was the guy in Virgina Beach talking about how dangerous everything was and then guys in bathing suits running and dancing behind him and then all these cars driving by, LOL. He got so angry that people were "setting a bad example" by being outside. What the hell was he doing?

I hope my fellow east coasters made it through with no problems.

------------------
Carcassonne 2^
Julius Caesar 2
Auf Achse 1^
Fearsome Floors 1^
Maria 1
Merchants of the Middle Ages 1
Stone Age 1^

^Denotes online play

Maria was my 3rd attempt at playing it. I still have yet to actually finish a game. Part of the problem is that we pick this up every 6-12 months and try to play and we have to relearn the damn thing and then one of my friends has to meet some husbandly curfew and we have to end the game. I was playing Prussia/Pragmatic army and was down to 3 markers for Prussia and 5 for PA.

The game is amazing in its relationship tension. France stumbled and seemed out of it but came roaring back by withdrawing from the Austria map. Prussia hit Austria early and often, taking them by surprise. I had big gains into Austrian territory and clearly had Austria on their heels. On the other map, France made a huge error in a battle and lost one of their generals/armies. The Pragmatic Army moved into France and was taking territory. They decided to withdraw from the Austria map since Prussia was doing so well and focus on retaking France and invading the PA territory. This meant Austria had no second front on the Austrian map and that France could focus its entire army on one map. I like to think I would've won had we continued, but who knows. France was advancing, and the way France withdrew really made it harder for Prussia.

Merchants of the Middle Ages was interesting but it was a learning game for 2 of the 4 people. I like this game, but can't really get a feel for it since my plays have all been learning/teaching games to this point. This is a fun 2 hour game, but a sluggish three hour one. It's a pickup and deliver game with two different auctions (blind bid and traditional) with the most ubiquitous of themes. It probably shouldn't be as interesting as it is, but it's saved by the price adjustments and the way that money is the means to the end but not the end per se.

You purchase goods, pay to load them on the carts, move the carts (which provides a nice spatial element to the game), adjust prices with an eye to screwing the other players, and fight via auction for a share of the 8 permanent bonus cards. When you're done with all that, you have to pay for your social status "upkeep" and then pay to advance your social status (which will result in a higher upkeep cost next turn). The tension of these priorities makes for a lot of very interesting decisions that go beyond mere pickup and deliver.

The potential problem is the game has several points where you really need to stop and think the permutations through which causes a lot of downtime. First, you have to decide which good(s) to purchase and in which cities to store them. Then you have the auctions and price adjustments. These points choked the game play to a halt and made it feel longer than it should have been. Having one big decision point a turn is OK but we had a hard time getting some momentum going. That said, I'm not sure how much of that is the game and how much was new players learning the phases and cards, etc. I give the game a 7.5 for now but it could go up or down.
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13. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:144]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Games take a back seat to summer. But a couple new one's came in.

Twilight Struggle x1
Innovation x1
Sekigahara x1, complete solo learning game

I was the USSR in Twilight Struggle, and if ever there was a Soviet steamroller, this was it. Unlikely to ever happen again, I was up by 2 vps on Turn 5 or 6 and I drew 4 scoring cards. The kiss of death, right? Nope.

With me holding 4 score cards, I headlined Junta and USA headlined Central America scoring. He'd led Central America intending that neither of us score points and to unload the card, we were tied there. Ouch for him, he just facepalmed at the injustice, I luckily played the perfect headline. Since Junta resolved first, I got to established dominance with it before his headline executed. 5 vps IIRC. Then I dropped two score cards: Asia and Southeast Asia, back to back. I owned all of Southeast Asia but Australia for 8 vps, and all of Asia but the Koreas for 9 vps. A 24 vp autowin. I'm not crowing here; it was a good game by my opponent and I pulled alot of OP draws as the Soviets. Once he was on the run, he played things like Red Scare/Purge for Ops struggling for board presence. My feelgood was devoting myself to the board rather than the 'next upcoming scorecard.' I was tempted to wrest away Europe but focused on the whole map and things fell into place. Also - I worked under the force of a USA activated NORAD and had the OPs to keep vulnerable countries padded.

. . .

Sekigahara, the new kid in the house, is gorgeous. I'm smitten. The mechanics are as graceful as the components.


The wood blocks stack. Like, you know, wood blocks did when we were 5 years old.

The ruleset was easy to get in swing and the game flows with no bookkeeping. The board & decisions develop quickly & man - this is about bluff, changeable loyalty of your troops, maneuver, and that only certain clans/blocks you see stacked all about will actually deploy in a given battle.

In this war, for example, two clans who vastly outnumbered a sieged castle defense first fought each other to decide who would have the honor of leading the siege. Generals do not like this shit. This sort of thing is abstracted in the card management. The Historical Notes are extensive and really get across the personalities and honor culture of Shoganate Japan, and the effort to abstract & distill this flavorful period with streamlined mechanics that takes a turn to internalize so the immersion into the board & decisions & adapting to surprising tactical outcomes is sweet.

So, a thrillride of risk management along with maneuver. The mechanics are designed to hurl you into the game; it'll be tough to hoard cards to seek a perfectly controlled battle because if you don't use 'em, you lose half of them at turn end & refresh.

There's two very huge & cool bags to keep the reinforcements... they get randomly pulled to be put in a box on the map and at card cost you can muster them onto the board. You'll need them, it's a bloody game.

I strongly recommend the two-page Designer Notes on the last 2 pages of the linked PDF'd rulesets that will open here. Scroll to the last two pages. This isn't the historical notes - which are excellent - but his short and admirably clear statement on how he built the game mechanically. I recommend a skim even if the game doesn't turn you on.


Yes, I stole some cones from Dominant Species to mark controlled castles.

All comments have the caveat of a solo play of a game that needs to be played ftf. I smell an excellent game.

Oh, I got No Retreat too. It'll get it's love in turn. I suspect Roger will be able to report before I will.
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14. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:140] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
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Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (92)
Carcassonne (39)
Race for the Galaxy (5)
Troyes (2)
Dominion (1)/Dominion: Intrigue (1)
Haggis (1)

Except for Race, all my games were played in a digital medium. Ascension and Carc had a lot of solo games against the AI but there were still a bunch of pass and play games as well. The bottom three were all played on BGA this morning. I'm really enjoying iOS games and am thinking of acquiring Samurai, Through the Desert, Army of Frogs, and Battle Line.

My auction was relatively successful in my eyes. I sold about $200 worth of games and I think people are going to be adding to their winnings from my trade list. I almost want to start another auction up to try and purge that trade list but I'm thinking I'll at least give it a week or two.
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15. Board Game Publisher: GMT Games
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
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I'm ba-ack!

This week's representative game is not a game, but rather a publisher because I had a parcel slip waiting for me when we got back from vacation and when I picked it up today, here's what was inside:



I spent the afternoon today sitting on my deck enjoying the nice cool afternoon breeze and opening them all up. I have to say that these new GMT games are some of the best produced nicest component games I've seen from anyone in the industry in a long time.

I've already put the stickers onto my Sekigahara blocks and I'm hoping that I can give the games a spin soon.

Last week's gaming:
Spot It! 3
Die Macher 1
Rack-O 1
Scrabble 1

Clearly a quiet week, not surprising as I was still on vacation. Don't let the Die Macher entry fool you - I just joined a play-by-email game late in the week.
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16. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:110] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game x2
Carcassonne x1
Jambo x1

Expansions Used
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Hunt for Gollum x2

The Week in Review
A light week of gaming for a couple reasons including my being preoccupied with vacation planning, my wife being preoccupied with her career, and our main gaming buddy being off back-country hiking.

Monday's rain drove our friend (P) out of the mountains for a couple days and allowed us to have another couple goes at the Gollum expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. We won both games relatively easily, but I enjoyed them both the same. We're still using "vanilla" decks most of the time although I think it's near time to shake things up and start S into deck-building. The Lore deck that she almost always uses has some things in it that make it worth mixing in some Leadership cards. I have a feeling she may just tell me to make a deck for her, but hopefully not.

Saturday we played a single game of Jambo in which S snatched victory from my hands. On her very last turn, she drew the Dancer which allowed her to cash in one ware card for 12 points in spite of not having the right combination of goods. Combine that with another ware card where she did have the right combo, she scored 24 points without so much as spending one. Horse shoes!

Tonight, S and I played a quick game of Carcassonne. We now have over 40 recorded plays of this game (and probably a dozen or so unrecorded ones). I've toyed with the idea of getting an expansion or two, but the idea of muddying up such a simple game with more rules and increasing the time with more tiles stops me from making a purchase. Instead, I've come close a couple times to ordering Carcassonne: The City, but never followed through. I like the novelty of the wooden walls and towers, but do we really need another "Carc" game?

The one thing that keeps me coming back to vanilla Carcassonne is it's quick set up and take down. Some nights I'd like to play a game like Vinhos or Troyes, but can't convince myself it's worth the time and effort to set it up. With Carcassonne, I can set it up and be half way through the game in less time than it takes to set up Vinhos. And it's one of the few games that S will request.

Although I suspect it's because Carcassonne plays fast and she feels her obligation to play is satisfied by one game of it.

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17. Board Game: Kaivai [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:2964]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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With half the I've been Diced! guys:
1x_6.7_ Origins: How We Became Human plus Expansion- I'd whined about this one last week. Our play lasted 7 hours: we were completely blasted by the time it was done. Some of that was general incompetence; some unfamiliarity with the game and its subsystems; some of it was the game. In the end, it was impressive how long the game maintained our attention. I think at least two of the three of us would be happy to play again, too!

With the No Longer on Fridays gang:
1x _7.7_ Colorado Midland - This one was a bit different than I'd expected. It's definitely lighter fare than many of the other Winsome games I've attempted recently. And it provoked me to consider simulating the effect of some pathological initial divisions of the mine cards (something, admittedly, that I've not yet attempted. The game provoked a discussion of how much the outcome was driven by the draw: my hypothesis is that it's one of those games that my Dad would have loved - the winner can be convinced that the win was achieved through excellent decisions, while the losers can be convinced that they would have won if they only had a better draw. I'm at least momentarily unconvinced that the game is decided after the mine draw!)

With some excellent folk at BAP:
1x _6.3_ Tsuro - Aliza roped us into a 8 player (and about 5 minute) play as BAP opened for the morning. It played about as most of us expected, I think.
1x _7.7_ Manifest Destiny - I suspect it was the contrast with Origins, but even after three and a half hours of play, this one seemed light and almost frivolous compared to the slugfest of that other behemoth. I'd avoided Manifest Destiny for a while because of a misapprehension of its similarities to Age of Renaissance - a game I'd owned for a while and at whose hands I'd been completely defeated: despite multiple attempts, I'd never managed to comprehend the rules. It was fun to be wrong yet again (and I'm often wrong): it definitely wasn't one I should have been avoiding. Many thanks to Dave for the play.
1x _7.7_ Kaivai - My first shot with the 1st edition rules (I'd previously played by the modest deltas that Pfifficus had posted in the 2nd edition rules.) I really like Kaivai, despite its brutality. I find the dance of VP and influence acquisition to be very cool.
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18. Board Game: St. Louis in a Box [Average Rating:4.20 Unranked]
Daniel Kenel
United States
New London
Iowa
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Games Played:
A Few Acres of Snow x 1
Troyes x 1
Key Market x 1
Neue Heimat x 1
Brass: Lancashire x 1
Hanabi x 1
Amun-Re x 1
Dominant Species x 1
Taluva x 1
Twilight Struggle x 1
Glory to Rome x 2
Crokinole x 3
The Resistance x 3
Commands & Colors: Ancients x 3

Week in Review:
Got back late last night from a weekend of gaming with friends in St. Louis. I'm swamped right now with playing catch-up with work and home. I'll try to get some thoughts down on the weekend in the next day or so.

*** I'm adding my weekend gaming summary down below in the comments.






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