GCL Mafia 42: Feeling Special
Christopher M
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Goleta
California
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This is GCL (Game Chat League), Mafia Division! Welcome to our weekly list. Please feel free to join the discussion by adding comments (or an item) as appropriate.

If you stumbled onto this list by accident and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki.

Members (next week's poster in bold):

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

The first few items below are intended to foster discussion. In addition, please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of October 30 - November 5, 2011. Please list any games played along with any other information that you deem is appropriate, from game descriptions to thoughts on the games to new acquisitions.
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1. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1389]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Okay, now this time for reals! I'm putting this all the way at the top of the list so nobody misses it!

If you are interested in joining a GCL Mafia Werewolf play-by-forum game, post a comment below and we can plan it out so it works for everyone.
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2. Board Game: War of the Ring Collector's Edition [Average Rating:8.66 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.66 Unranked]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Board games are an interesting niche hobby where prices fluctuate frequently due to low supply. Games will often go out of print for years (or forever!). There are few things better than the feeling of acquiring an OOP game!

Tell us about the games in your collection you are most proud of owning due to it's rarity.
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3. Board Game: Risk (Revised Edition) [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:3558]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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What are some (infamous) board game misprints that you have seen? I always feel special when I find a misprint in a book but it seems to happen much less often in board games besides the lack of editors (?).
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4. Board Game: Panic Station [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:3129]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Due to board gaming being such a niche market, it is often easy to get a hold of those in charge. We often find publishers and designers frequently on the BGG forums. What are your experiences with people in the industry?
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5. Board Game: Lords of Vegas [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:375]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Have you ever pulled off a win in a game out of nowhere? What board game move are you most proud of?
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6. Board Game: Belfort [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:422]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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> Plays:

1 Belfort*
2 Chess

*=New to me.

Yesterday I was able to play two games of chess with a friend over lunch, which was quite thoroughly enjoyable. This ended up being a bit of a juxtaposition with Belfort as an experience, which was bad enough to make me want to resign from playing games early for the night just to recoup my stamina for new games.

This is how it is for me: bad games make me need to physically rest on account of my getting so wound up about them. This is the second time in recent weeks that I've been burned by new worker placement games(Vintage being the first.)

Now, to be fair I do think Belfort is innovative in one sense: I don't recall having seen three types of workers you can place in a game before. [Elves/Dwarves/Gnomes in Belfort's case.] I only wish this mechanic had been explored more fully: the dwarves and elves felt very interchangeable in the game. The only difference is which resource they can harvest, which simply turns into a mundane algebraic mental exercise.

Which brings us to my largest complaint of the game: There is simply little to no tension. There are only 5 squares of shared actions which are restricted to one use in a given round, and they are random actions so in any given game there may be even fewer prize spots. What this turned into during our game in reality is these spots took two workers to capture: one to claim 1st/2nd/3rd place in turn order, and another to take the action first in the next round. There simply is no tension in the rest of the game since most actions have either too many spaces available & not enough interest, or action spaces are private to individual players or can take infinite pieces on them.

Without this tension(which is fully present in other contemporaries such as Egizia, Caylus, Agricola, Le Havre, or even Stone Age) the game loses any bite which might make it intriguing to me. It's a mediocre middle-weight worker placement game with amazing aesthetic appeal. That second aspect is why I suspect it's getting such rave reviews for the moment.
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7. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:49]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Plays This Week:
Race for the Galaxy x3
Zombie Dice

A light week of gaming. I ran a game of Show Manager as well. I've been re-playing Dragon Age II lately, which has been a lot of fun.

Race for the Galaxy was without expansions for the first time in a while, as we tried to teach/indoctrinate a new player. He seemed to pick up on it well enough and I think he liked it, so hopefully we'll expand our player pool for this fantastic game.
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8. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:477]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Eminent Domain (x2): This is my newest acquisition and I am quite pleased with it. I was obviously interested in it enough to buy it, but was not sure what to expect. I am very much enjoying it though. It really does feel like Glory to Rome + Race for the Galaxy + deckbuilding. (Ted, you will likely see this as an aberration of RftG.)

I've only played two 2-player games, both of which I lost. Of course, the first game was the "no clue what I'm doing, let's just randomly grab stuff" play. The second game was "Let me try out a warfare and research strategy. Great, this is going to work! Uh oh, my planets are not supporting this strategy because they all have different role icons. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. Must scavenge some points from somewhere!" I ended up only 4 points behind my boyfriend, who went a super strong colonize strategy and had nearly all the colonize cards in his deck.

It's a very enjoyable 2-player game and although I'm curious to try it with three and four, I'm not clamoring to do so. I am not sure more players will add more to the game (and I'm wondering if they may actually subtract from it a bit).

Urban Sprawl (x2): I got to do a 3-player game of this and a second 2-player. In the 3-player game, I came in last by just a few points. Unfortunately, I didn't get many vocations partly by the cards not being out for my turn and partly due to unintentionally ignoring them. The game is definitely best with three, however my second 2-player game went a lot smoother than the first (since we both knew the rules better). We played the "short game" which puts the event cards higher up in the decks. It took under two hours to play. I ended up winning, purposefully trying to focus on vocations and high value blocks as much as possible. I think I'm learning the game better with every play and still enjoy it quite a bit.

PitchCar (x1): Beaten by a 4-year-old, but first place among the adults again. I think tiny fingers have an advantage when playing this game.

King of Toyko (x1): A 5-player game. One person got eliminated halfway through and the winner achieved 20 VP before we could stop him in any meaningful way. Always a fun game though.

Lords of Vegas (x1): My second 4-player game. Lots of competition for building and I got some bad luck on lots, both in where they were located as well as not being near each other. However, I came in a very far away second place.

Airlines Europe (x1): Fourth place in a 5-player game. I needed to diversify more as I have a tendency to just focus on one or two companies (same tendency that I have in Acquire too).
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9. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:135]
Chris
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Games played

Quarriors! x1
Hotel Samoa x1
PalastgeflĆ¼ster x1
Time's Up! x1
Tichu x2

Took advantage of Daylight Saving Time to have an impromptu 5-person gamenite on Saturday evening.

I was in a lousy mood, since I had a fairly major car accident on my way home from work on Friday night (and, mostly annoyed because, even though I don't think the accident was my fault -- basically, another car decided to merge into the highway from a turning lane, without signaling (or even seeing if the merge was feasible), then their car "shifted into park" on the highway, immediately after cutting me off). Of course, when the cops arrived, their story changed.....

Anyways,

Quarriors - decent filler, we played this while waiting for food to arrive (4-p game). I would've won if we'd played to 12; but we've now started playing all games to 20, and I finished 2nd.

Hotel Samoa - first play, and I eked out the win. Interesting -- lots of chaos, but I loved the El Grande-like mechanics, and won pretty handily. 5p game, because one of the guys' wife joined in (and gave up playing with the baby!)

Plastgefluster - one of my favorites, but the end game breaks. I could've won on my own, if someone had tossed the lead back to me; but instead, I ended up tied for first with two others of the 5 players.

Time's Up - got my wife to join in (she's a medium-weight gamer; she'll play a lot, but nothing hardcore (so, no TtA or Adv Civ or 18xx for her), but she'll play nearly any Euro game. In this case, though, the baby prevented her from joining us until here. We broke into three teams of two, and my team won pretty handily (50-39-31).

Tichu - it's been too long (since September). For the year, Tichu is easily my most-played game (as it is almost every year). These were my 40th and 41st plays this year. My team won both games (against two different teams - first game was Mike & Chris S; then Chris S and his wife left, and the second game was against Mike & my wife). We won the two games 1045-455 and then 1150-(-50).
 
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10. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:393]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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(to help the skimmers )

1x Belfort
1x Chicago Express
1x Dominion
1x Innovation
1x The Resistance
1x Vinhos
1x Omen: A Reign of War

It was an interesting week. My friend had his annual Con, which consists of a regular Friday night at our FLGS followed by a full day and night of gaming Saturday (till midnight). Unfortunately, this year, I could stay until dinner time on Saturday. As a result, I played one "meaty" game Friday night along with one filler and one meaty game on Saturday along with one filler. Then, my friends, Geoff and Amy, came over Sunday and again, I played one meaty game and one filler. The only other gaming I did this week was one game of Omen: Reighn of War on Friday before Amanda left for the weekend (she was back in time to play Sunday night).

Belfort: this was my 4th game, but my first playing non-2Player. I taught it to one gamer and two non-gamers. The extent of the non-gamers exposure to Euros up until Belfort was Settlers of Catan, so while gameplay isn't particular deep, the idea of worker placement, shared boards, private boards, area control, etc, was a bit much. The game took us 4 hours to complete (with the last round taking almost an hour by itself). I will give it another try with 4, but I continue to wonder whether the sweet spot for this game may be 2.

Chicago Express: I played tihs Sunday night with Amanda, Geoff, and Amy. Everyone but Amy had already played it and we immediately went after each other while trying to help Amy along. The net result was that the three of us each got one share of the PR while Amy got two shares of the B&O and drove it to Chicago. Since developing the PR didn't help either of us relative to each other, we let it go once Geoff got the third share, and it never got to Chicago. I had a chance to end up one turn early which would have given me second place and Amy the win, but I decided to try to play one more round and see how it played out. As a result, Amanda stole 2nd from me and Amy still won. I absolutely love this game and wish I got to play it more often.

Dominion: nothing special here. Base game. Played as a filler on Saturday just before going home.

Innovation: We played this Sunday night. Amanda and I have played this 3 times and I had played it one more without her. It was Geoff's and Amy's first exposure to it. I don't think they enjoyed it as much as Amanda and I. I certainly see the luck of the draw in this game, but I continue to suspect there may be more ways to mitigate that luck once you get more familiar with cards and card combinations. Hoping to get this out many more times.

The Resistance: I think this was my first time playing this 10 player. It felt really easy for the spies. I was a spy. We had one spy go on the first mission and lay low, passing it. On the second mission, she and I were both on it and we both failed it (mission team size of 4). Even so, we successfully failed the next two missions and one of our spies never even went on a mission! I still think this is the only game to do the traitor mechanic right.

Vinhos: This was my first time teaching this game and, wow!, it was tough. The game took only a little over 3 hours to finish, which is in line with what the game says, but I don't think the questions stopped the entire length of the game (and I'm actually usually pretty good at explaining games). I took an unusual approach and completely avoided competing at the fair and focused on the foreing market. I got one very nice vineyard right away and ended the game about 10 points out of first place. I think if I had focused on the foreign market a little better and never presented to the fair (I presented at the second fair, wasting a wine and two barrels to the critics that I only used twice), I might have squeaked out a win. I still love this game but it may be a while before I try teaching it again.

Omen: A Reign of War: a nice game. Amanda and I played this Friday before she left and it was the first time for both of us. It felt a little like Battle Line with only three piles. She focused on accomlishing her feats while I focused on winning battles. In the end, she accomplished her fifth feat (3 beasts) and caused two cities to go war torn, getting two rewards and winning 16 to 14. A good game that I hope we play again.
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11. Board Game: Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Rishi A.
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Look at me, posting early in the week for once!

Plays:

Neuroshima Hex! 3.0* x3
Summoner Wars* x2
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork*
Antics!*
Hansa Teutonica
Crokinole
No Thanks!
Animal Upon Animal
Igloo Pop

*New to me

Neuroshima Hex is good! It's thematic, fun, and although it's an abstract game at its heart, it doesn't feel like an abstract. That's good and bad - it doesn't have that precision and lack of randomness of an actual abstract, but you really feel like you're placing units on the board and not just an "Attack 2" chip. The artwork helps.

Summoner Wars is okay. It's kind of like Magic: The Gathering with an actual board. The odd thing is that the purpose of the game is not to control the board (though it helps), but to kill your opponent's leader (called a summoner). The summoner has more hit points than most of your units, but a lucky shot could take him out (you roll dice to see if your attacks hit). In both games we played, the person who seemed like he was winning ended up losing due to a last ditch attack on the summoner.

Discworld is also very thematic, apparently. I've never read the books... so I'm not the best judge. I didn't know that Martin Wallace could do a chaotic, silly game though.

Antics is also very good. I am surprised to see a Lamont Brothers game with disappointing components, though.

Also, I want a Crokinole board now...
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12. Board Game: duck! duck! Go! [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:4472]
Neil Wilson
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Captain's Log
2 x Duck, Duck, Go!
1 x Caylus
10 x Scrabble
? x Brass
? x Race for the Galaxy (AI)

Not much in-person gaming over the last several weeks, but I did finally break out Duck, Duck, Go! against my Mother a few nights ago, and it was good for some laughs. (We hit a point on an "intermediate" map where our ducks were stuck in the same corner, and constantly bouncing off each other and the walls. Hilarity ensued.)

I've been rather leery about introducing Caylus to my Mother and sister (my Father does not play anything) because (i) it is relatively heavy/complex, (ii) the provost can be a mood-killer, and (iii) game-length. Still, when they suggested we play a board game on Sunday night starting at 6:00 PM, I figured there wouldn't really be a better time. My sister seemed to catch on surprisingly quickly, and she definitely gave me a run for my money. (I barely squeaked out a win with 102 points to her 98 points... Mother was somewhere in the low 70's). Hopefully this game can join the ranks of "playables."

Been getting slightly back into Scrabble on-line. I'm definitely nowhere as good as I was back in college (when I actually memorized word lists and mnemonics for common smatterings of tiles), but I still hold my own against the more experienced crowd. I should probably start reviewing the 3/4-letter words again if I'm going to try and be serious about it, though.

 
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13. Board Game: Lords of Vegas [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:375]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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This week was very light. Lots of other stuff took priority over games. But for my plays:

Arimaa x1
Lords of Vegas x1

Nothing to really share about Arimaa. I downloaded an interface to test designing a bot to play the game, and I played the default (weak) bot that came with it. Otherwise, I've been continuing my 3 postal games online. 1 which I'm going to lose, 1 I think I'm winning, but the other player hasn't made his move in over 12 days, and 1 where we're materially equal, but I'm in a poor position at the moment.

When we pulled out Lords of Vegas with Chris, I quickly made the connection to Chinatown, although the trading aspect almost never came into play. I think the extent that it came into play is Jennifer and Chris discussed trading lots, which I think would have benefited Jennifer more. I don't remember if they did it or not, and then there was one time I got Chris to donate $2 mil to me so that I could try to reroll dice and steal Ning's casino, since that would be in both of our interests (I was in dead last, and Ning was right on his tail in points). I really enjoyed the game and would be willing to try it again. I feel like in the beginning, I didn't have much I could do. I ended up building casinos that almost never came up until the end of the game (most color cards were depleted or close to depleted when silver only had 2 cards revealed). I also decided to have fun with gambling, even though the odds were against me, since that is one aspect of the game. I also made a good play in the middle of the game, where I converted my lone 1-tile yellow casino into something else, which allowed me to build a casino with a 6 die, allowing me to control a 4-size yellow casino. I didn't see many other people changing casino colors to take control of more casino space. Chris had a great opportunity to add 3 silver casinos to his empire earlier in the game, but it ended up being smart that he didn't since silver almost never came up.
 
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