GCL Mafia 38 - Illicit Behavior
Ian McCarthy
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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Hello. Welcome to GCL Mafia.

If you would like to know more about the purpose of a Game Chat League (GCL), please go to the wiki page.

If you want to peruse past GCL Mafia lists, go here.

Everyone is encouraged to comment.

Our current roster -- next week's list preparer in bold:

Rishi
Dolus
KenToad
petroleumjelly
seppo21
McJarvis
1awesomeguy
Lemur
mith
tscook
Thesp
Butterfly0038

The first three items are the discussion starters of the week. Just a reminder, don't feel obligated to comment on these point-by-point. Focus on what interests you most and we'll see where this goes. If nowhere, c'est la vie. Remember that this is all for fun (leisure).

Also, Mafia members, don't forget to add an item and list your plays for last week (October 2nd-October 9th).
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1. Board Game: Eaten by Zombies! [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:4420] [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
Ian McCarthy
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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Let's hear about experiences with the authorities here on BGG. I know that we Mafia are far too "embedded" amongst the power elite to have experienced any offline chill time for ourselves, but I'm sure that some of us know of incidents, friends of friends. You get the idea. Examples are appreciated. The more controversial (read: debatable) the better.
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2. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:147]
Ian McCarthy
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Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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Conversely, has anyone had to smite some troll-ish youth with the revered red X? Or perhaps a letter of rebuttal was in order? Anyone thought of quitting? Know anyone that did? Examples and/or links would be appreciated.

Let's use the following stories as reminders to maintain the aloof coolness that characterizes our fine organization.
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3. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:67] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Ian McCarthy
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Milwaukee
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To change gears, lets talk plagiarism. We know that game mechanics can't be copyrighted, with the notable exception of Monopoly (which is patented, I believe, which would in some degree explain the marketing muscle behind the game), but this is a Gentleman/woman's industry and surely publishers supporting overt plagiarism will bring down the wrath of those on both the giving and receiving end of the business.

In the last few years, we've seen some interesting cases of plagiarism or something that resembles plagiarism. How does this make you feel as a gamer or, if applicable, as a potential designer or as someone who values creative commons, or in any other way?
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4. Board Game: Eaten by Zombies! [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:4420] [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Plays

.10! The Resistance
_8_ Magic: The Gathering x 3
_7_ Eaten by Zombies! (new!)

Light gaming week due to lots of work obligations aka "the busiest week of my life".

I talked about these Magic games in last week's thread and I am sure you guys are tired of how much I talk about The Resistance so I will keep my comments this week only related to zombie games I have played this week:


I just finished playing Eaten by Zombies! earlier today. I played with two of my friends who had not played it either. Eaten by Zombies! is a deck-building game of another sort. You are trying to survive the zombie attacks long enough to out-live the other players. The theme is great but the gameplay was a little strange. I think I will need at least another playthrough to fully grasp the game.

The three of us that played started off on even footing, but soon my friend Hylton got into the lead and it was obvious he was doing really well by beating up lots of zombies. All of a sudden, he draws two zobie cards on his turn (which he needs to either fight or flee from) but then the other two of us playing, add an additional card each. My friend got a bad draw and was forced to discard 16 cards. It was enough to kill him and he became the first zombie. The next turn my friend Brain got eaten because he also had just too much to handle.

I did love the theme of the game but I felt like it was a little too random on who wins the game. I love luck and randomness in games because I think it is exciting. In Eaten by Zombies!, it may be a little too random or luck-based. I felt like I played well but not necessarily better than either of the other two players. Things may change next time I play.
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5. Board Game: Hearts [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1591]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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This week I had an old college friend and his wife visit DC/myself all week. This friend(Tim) is always great to see, as we did just about everything together in college. He's one of my few college friends who I still talk to on a regular basis, too: Every Wednesday night he and one other friend get together for Diablo 2 & voice chat. (Used to be an online D&D campaign, but we've found Diablo 2 is easier to deal with when one guy can't make it.)

First Night:

8-5-3 x1
Heartsx1
Loopin Louie x3
(Remaining time spent showing magic tricks to them.)

Second Night:

A la Carte
Ave Caesar
Snow Tails
(Remaining time spent eating Ben & Jerry's.)

Third night:

Factory Fun x3
(Remaining time spent watching Lonely Island videos.)

Planning gaming events for him and his wife is difficult, though, since she does not like strategy games in the slightest. There seems to be a delicate tightrope which I have to walk when selecting games around her, since when I pick the wrong game it just ends up being a trainwreck :S

First Night:

I decided to start off with a book of card games that I recently purchased. I really highly recommend this book in particular because it is a nicely presented book, (Worthy of coffee table status, I think.) and it also seems to have some really great games that I hadn't heard of before. Anyway, I thought that some card games would go over well with the three of us.

The first game we played was listed in my book as 8-5-3. I chose it to play because it is a 3 player trick taking game that requires no bids, but is still interestingly asymmetric. (But at the same time, not as nasty as Bottle Imp.) The dealer deals 16 cards to each person, then calls trump. Then the dealer picks 4 cards from his hand and swaps them with the 4 remaining cards in the deck. Now play proceeds like pretty much every other trick taking game ever: The dealer is trying to capture 8 tricks, the player to his left is trying to capture 5, and the person to his right is trying to capture 3. Any tricks you capture over your goal count as points, and the game is played to 16.

The nasty part is that if you don't make your bid, the next round all players who did make their bid can demand cards from you equal to your bid amount. So if you needed to get 3 and got 1, the next round (before trump is called) all players who made their bid can give you two cards & you have to give them back the highest cards of the same suits as you can. Of course, if the card they give you is the highest card in that suit you just give the card back.

I found the information passed during the game to be the most subtle aspect to it. Trading cards away from the dealer can influence trump, but also tell the dealer what you don't want trump to be. Always playing your lowest card when you know you've lost a bid actually telegraphs the rest of your hand to everyone, which is a tempting strategy to take in this game.

We then moved on to Hearts as Tim's wife had never played that either & Tim had been talking about other interesting trick taking games. She enjoyed it after a few rounds, but the first round was doing things like leading the Ace of Spades when the Queen of Spades was still out. I think she was still in the "Taking tricks is good" mode. Looping Louie was last game-wise that night & it was the favorite of the evening.

The next night we got together and played A La Carte, which everyone seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Then I whipped out Ave Caesar and that game worked out well too. Snow Tails ended up being too much, however: Tim and I came in to a close finish, and Tim's wife as well as another friend I invited ended up hitting issues mid way through the track. I forgot how much thought goes into Snow Tails: but I'm glad I got to play all the same

The last night I stared at my collection dumbly for about 5 minutes before Tim asked what Factory Fun was. I decided to give it a try, and they really loved it, which was surprising to me for some reason. It was fun playing!


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6. Board Game: Arimaa [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:1997]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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Arimaa x7
Mansions of Madness
Arkadia
Dou Shou Qi x2

I learned about Arimaa last week, and just fell in love with it. I've already picked up an Arimma board and started playing on their website, [geekurl=Arimaa.com]Arimaa.com[/geekurl]. The game is similar to chess, and can be played with a regular chess board, but is an entirely different game. The pieces rank from Elephant (king) on down to Rabbit (pawn) in strength. The goal is to get a rabbit to the opposite side of the board first. You can move four times in a turn. Pieces can move in any orthogonal direction, except rabbits can't move backwards. Stronger pieces can push or pull weaker pieces, using an extra movement, and pieces can be captured on one of four trap spaces on the board. Arimaa has approximately 17,000 possible moves on any given turn, compared to about 30 for chess. This makes the game significantly more difficult for computer AIs to determine the best move. Players can also set up the board in any configuration at the game's start. Gold first, then silver. I forgot what I calculated, but this comes out to millions of possible start configurations. I'm really enjoying the game and I'm trying to learn the ins and outs of strategies for it.

I finally got to play Mansions of Madness. We played scenario three, which takes place outside and involves a blood relative. We had three explorers and the Keeper. I really enjoyed the game and would like to play again. It did take a while, but it didn't feel too long and should go faster next time we play now that we know most of the rules. The rules also aren't too convoluted or difficult to learn. There are a few special cases to remember, but nothing crazy.

Arkadia proved to be pretty fun. You place buildings and workers (your own and neutral workers, both of which have a limited supply) on the board. When a building is complete surrounded, players gain guild seals of the specified color for each worker they have surrounding the building as well as one seal for the player who completed it. The player then also builds the castle which has potential to make some seals worth more money and other seals worth less. Therefore, seals can be worth anything from 0-6 gold, but typically 2 gold throughout the game. You have four banners that are each one time uses, which give you two workers and allow you to gain two more workers and trade in guild seals for gold. I was doing okay in the beginning of the game, and towards the middle to the end, I started collecting a lot of silver guild seals, which wasn't worth very much. But I also saw the other two players also starting to build silver buildings. So when I cashed in, I traded in all of my red seals, but saved my silver. It was only worth 3 gold each, and that was with me building up the silver part of the castle. When the game ended, we all trade in all of our seals. At this point, silver was worth 5 gold each, and I traded in 16 seals for 80 gold! I ended up winning with 140 gold, and second place took 139 gold.

EDIT: I forgot Dou Shou Qi. This is Animal Chess, which seems like a kid's or simplified version of Chinese Chess. I downloaded an app for my Android, and by the second game, I found an easy way to win where I basically march my Leopard (or one of those front animals) forward until I reach the Den. The AI isn't bright enough to stop this.
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7. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:32]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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This week was a light week for me. Amanda and I went out on our weekly date and she suggested TtA. She was leading until late in Age 3 (at one point by 40 points) before I finally came back and beat her by about 30 points (I think it was about 220 to 190). I was surprised she did as well as she did because she never expanded beyond 3 bronze mines.

We went to a Pagan festival on Thursday and were there till Sunday, so gaming was light this week. We played Lords of Scotland once (an excellent game for $6) and Metropolys once.

Then after we got back on Sunday, we tried out Belfort. I was a little worried about it 2 player after reading some of the post (not to mention my experiences earlier this year with Lancaster). However, it played very well with 2. We got a couple of 2 player rules wrong that we didn't catch till the end of the game and that we'll need to fix for the next game, but I was pleasantly surprised. A solid medium-weight, low-luck worker placement game with a couple of interesting mechanics mixed together.
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8. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:444]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Games Played This Week:
World of Warcraft: The Boardgame
Cities x5
Elder Sign
Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War x3
Navegador
Wizard
Eminent Domain* x5

So, Eminent Domain is our new hotness in the house. It's been love at first play so far - it seems like there are multiple paths to victory, and the possibile routes of play are quite varied. Most plays so far have been with 2 players, and immediately afterwards we want to play again. To me, it feels like a cross between Puerto Rico and Dominion.

Navegador was lovely as always. Cities showed its adaptability in our ability to play well with our 11 year old niece. RftG is unrelentingly awesome, and Elder Sign is losing a bit of luster, though is still cute (this last play took too long gamewise). Wizard continues to be hysterical, particularly with how we score it.
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9. Board Game: RPGQuest [Average Rating:8.53 Overall Rank:11460]
Rishi A.
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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No plays this week.

Well, if we're talking about board games.

I went to a small RPG convention this past weekend and my regular RPG group met last Wednesday. I'll list the Sunday plays next week.

Wednesday:

Mutants & Masterminds (3rd Edition) (as GM)

Saturday:

Fate Core (as Player)
Mouse Guard (as Player)

The FATE game was a play test for Sand & Steam. You can go to the website for the game if you're curious about it. The top post on the blog actually has a session report from the author's perspective.
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10. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:107]
Chris
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Only two plays for me this week (since I was in Indiana from 10/1-10/7, adopting my son (still weird to write that)).

Played Combat Commander: Europe the night I came home - I have a friend who used to enjoy wargames; but now, notsomuch. This game didn't change his mind. I'd not played the game in probably two years (and had only played twice before that, anyway), so the teaching was less than stellar, and the game was less than eventful -- the lack of orders for my squad (one only, each turn) allowed him to run right past me, getting units off the board (for double the value); and, at one point, we realized that even if I killed everything remaining, I'd still come up short.

So, we played Balloon Cup next, and I was able to win pretty handily, which he quickly attributed to "pure luck."

Played a lot more the next day (but, that's *next week's* list).
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11. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:709] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Weekly Plays

Dominion - 159 (all isotropic)
Faces in the Crowd - 3
Quarriors! - 2
Small World - 2
Pandemic - 1

Actually physical board gaming took place last week, and I've been too busy to comment here! (Had an interview yesterday, and spent the early part of the week preparing a presentation for that.)

Last week, on the other hand, not so busy. 159 games of Dominion is clearly excessive. Partly to blame is the isotropic leaderboard... because of the way the levels work, there's an incentive to play lots of games on a given day, to reduce the uncertainty. So, in a quest to see just how high I could climb... I managed to get up to 15th after Tuesday, just a hair below level 41, then made the mistake of continuing to play Wednesday while sick. (And then with the interview, and going to Austin this weekend, my level of play has dropped a bit, so I've lost some ground. Still, fun while it lasted.)

Games in Austin... Faces in the Crowd is a harmless filler; might be vaguely interesting as a two player abstract, I guess. Small World was with 2 (a close win, helped by picking up a Wealthy race on the final turn) and with 5 (those of us who knew how to play got crushed by the newbies, though at least I had some fun on the last couple turns with Sorcerers). Pandemic was an annoyingly close 4 player Normal loss; we had the cubes under control, but the cards didn't come out well, and came up one action short on the last cure with the deck empty.

Quarriors! was neat... I'm a little skeptical insofar as it compares to Dominion (shocking, I know), but trying to keep in mind that I'm comparing the base game to a Dominion game with a bunch of expansions out. The culling mechanism seemed, in the first game, to promote a runaway leader problem, but the second game had a neat Ghost culling interaction. Needs more plays, but it was certainly entertaining.

Dominion commentary... If you skip the rest, at least check out the last game, it was awesome.

mith 13-resign Chaos - I'm seeing quite a few Ambassador games the past couple days, and they're all pretty similar; someone eventually wins the tennis match and eventually coasts to victory with a thin deck. This one isn't really any different, but it's worth noting how nicely Quarry compliments Ambassador, with the proper action support. There is a careful balance with Ambassador in terms of trashing/spamming as much as possible vs. getting some Silvers so you can ramp up to a post-tennis engine, but Quarry bypasses that to some degree by making actions affordable without the other coin; it's basically a Gold for 4, when you want to buy actions, and even better with +Buy.

mith 34-22 Brandon - A rare Coppersmith opening. I saw Wishing Well and Hunting Party, and knew I would be able to draw plenty of Copper. Three Provinces by turn 8 (almost too fast for my deck to handle without choking!), and I held on for the win.

mith 12-resign begins a solitaire game. - Saboteur is badly overrated/overfeared, at least for two player games. But in the rare case where you can virtually guarantee a Throne Roomed Saboteur every turn? Yeah. (That said, he probably resigned prematurely; his own Saboteur could have easily disrupted the somewhat delicate balance of my deck.)

Stealth Tomato 50-47 mith - A solid example of a Duke game. I should probably have done some Duchy-denial when I saw what he was up to, but at the time I feared it would slow me down too much.

mith 31-16 needle - This is Salvager at its absolute best: a turn 3 Gold, leading to 6 consecutive Province buys to end the game in 13 turns.

CO Grit 25-25(turns) mith - Linking primarily because my opponent is apparently a Scummer, and recognized me. Cute game, though - my Torturer deck is more effective (and hurrah, another creative use of Secret Chamber), but he gets to 4 Provinces anyway and I miscount to end the game tied as first player. A Duchy buy gives me a chance, but I think he's still favored.

mith 37-20 Jack Rudd - Venture has long been my worst card in terms of "Effect with" (councilroom's stat comparing personal win rate against overall win rate), and is second only to Duchy on "Effect without"... I don't play well with it, and do play well on boards where I can avoid it (whether because my opponents try it anyway, or just because those boards suit my playstyle, I'm not sure). I've felt a little more confident with it recently, however, and here's a good example of its potential with thinning.

mith 49-43 Noquar - Fairgrounds to the rescue, in a game I had no business winning; opponent gets a Mountebank opening, and after opening Potion I can't afford an Alchemist until turn 9. Luck with the Cursing helps; I am able to discard a Curse often early, and somehow end up splitting the pile. Still, I'm down 4-1 on Provinces, and in a normal game I lose - but here, Fairgrounds become an additional pile of Provinces for me, allowing me to catch up while extending the game, with a strong Herbalist/Alchemist/Golem engine that won't quit.

mith 4-0 Wasp - I deserved to win the very next game even less. My points were Duchies from his Swindlers, which crippled my engine... but he left an opening for a three pile ending, and I had just enough to get there.

mith 36-35 YKK - And just to complete a week of epic comebacks... The 5/2 is bad with Remake, so on turn 3 I grab a Potion and try for a stupidly involved University engine - Mining Village for more actions, Library/Envoy/Steward/Courtyard for drawing. It's not until I have most of the Mining Villages that it goes off (slowed by Curses from Sea Hag), at which point I'm down 4 Provinces and a Duchy. With no +Buy, Remake saves me by gaining the Duchies I need to gain ground.
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12. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1560]
Neil Wilson
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Captain's Log
1 Scrabble
1 Puerto Rico
3 Ticket to Ride: America, with 1910 Expansion
~ Brass
~ Mafia
~ Race for the Galaxy (AI)

Because I've so clearly been bored around the house waiting for Bar Exam results, job results, and having pretty much just finished my contract job with law school, Dad suggested that Mom play a game of Scrabble against me. I suggested against it, but what can you do. It was a slaughter. I was already feeling bad by the third move. My starting play was the bingo "eDITION" (lowercase "e" to denote I used a blank tile). My second play extended it to "SeDITION" with the word "ZAS" putting the Z on a triple-letter space; and then I played the vowel dump "ORIBI." This just isn't the type of play a random person expects to see in Scrabble, and it just kinda made for a bummer of a game. Scrabble just isn't fun unless you're up against a similarly skilled opponent.

Ticket to Ride games were also a general slaughterhouse; probably got one of my highest scores (almost hitting 300) in a game where I connected 6 of the 7 big cities (only missing Miami).

Puerto Rico should actually be on last week's list, but I introduced it to a couple of my high school friends (who I try to get to play a boardgame at least once a month). Although they were VERY skeptical during the rules explanation (since the game DOES have a lot of pieces), the game went pretty smoothly once they fell into the rhythm. This has happily happened both times I've taught Puerto Rico to players: it seems like a lot to take in, and yet it feels very natural once play has gone around a time or two.

Edit: Somehow typed that I put the "A" on the triple-letter space; that would be absurd. Naturally it was the "Z."
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