GCL Phoenix 44 - Why We Game
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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If you're a regular visitor, please thumb this list so we know you're lurking, it's how we discover new friends. If you wandered here by accident, this link will tell you about us: [geekurl=http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/GameChat_League]GCL Wiki Page[/geekurl].

Phoenix Roster:
chally
Eeeville
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
JohnRayJr
Judoka
leroy43
Lowengrin
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
Rynelf
Taibi
tjshields
topher
yokiboy - next list
Dormammu

This week I propose we talk about two simple question which are of course not so simple: First, Why we game. I seem to be forever vexed by this question, and the related question of why we choose particular games.

As you may or may not know, my very first real contribution to BGG, nearly 5 years ago, was a geeklist about [geekurl=http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/20430/10-things-that-make-a-great-game]10 Things That Make A Great Game[/geekurl]. I'm still not sure, but I'm very interested....
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1. Board Game: Loopin' Louie [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:780]
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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I spent hours trying to figure if there was a single factor that linked together all the games I love - from Loopin' Louie to Puerto Rico to 18xx and Dungeons and Dragons.

My original metric was this. What makes a great game is....

"The number and quality of interesting decisions per minute."

How much does this resonate with you?
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2. Board Game: Star Fleet Battles [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1868]
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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My best friend Ben, while explaining why he had gotten tired of light/medium Euros, but never seemed to tire of Dungeons and Dragons or Starfleet Battles after decades of play, posited that a few days after playing most lighter games, he could hardly remember a thing about a particular game. But, he said, he still remembered epic battles - whether in space or dungeons - years later.

Memories of playing a game, he said, were the true test of a game's lasting greatness. This struck me because it was such a wholly different way of looking at the issue - more gestalt than calculations.

Ben's idea of what makes a great game is"

"Lasting memories"

How much does this resonate with you?
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3. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:117]
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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My buddy Robb, who recently moved from Seattle back to Canada, truly loves Hansa Teutonica, and his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. Robb once off-handedly said that what makes a great game is:

"Opportunities to feel clever"

Of course, board games offer not just opportunities to feel clever, but to compete with others as part of a shared experience. Whether we want to admit it or not, besting our friends in jovial competition gives all of us (or nearly all) tremendous satisfaction - even affirmation.

How much does this resonate with you?
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4. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:135]
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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My online and offline buddy CurtC samples more new games than anyone I know. I joke sometimes that if Curt really loves a game, he's willing to play it twice (the two big exceptions are Tichu and Dominant Species). This is very different from me - even though I do enjoy new games, I'd probably be happy playing an old favorite 80% of the time (and do!).

Another buddy of mine, I forget who, once talked about why so many board gamers are forever trying new games rather than diving into the depths of Chess or Go, for example. It's the process of exploring and learning novel new games, he said, that gives gamers so much satisfaction. By this metric, a great game can be defined loosely by its:

"Innovative new themes and mechanics"

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5. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
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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Many games are a way of modeling the complexities of real life - dynamic simulations if you will. Playing Civ, for example, gives a very real appreciation of the ways in which Mediterranean civilizations struggled, fought, and succeeded or failed. Some war games are particularly careful to emulate real world scenarios - and BGG's two top rated game, Twilight Struggle and Through The Ages, each give players a way of dynamically experiencing history, in a way no book ever could. By this metric, a great game can be defined by:

"Bringing alive complex real world situations"

How much does this resonate with you?

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6. Board Game: The Great Dalmuti [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1253]
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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CurtC has persuaded me that Tichu is probably a better game than Richard Garfield's Great Dalmuti, but I don't think I've ever had a better time hanging out with my friends than countless hours of playing Dalmuti under a thatched gazebo on hot muggy nights in the tropics. Friends would pop in and pop out, and we'd roll-play it as we could - making the lowest peasant sit on the rickety chair and get drinks for Dalmuti. No game has probably ever given me this rich experience.

For everyone I've ever met (with one prominent exception), board games are a way of connecting with people - otherwise we could just sit and play solo computer games all day long. Many of us play games as an alternate social experience to smoky bars, raucous sporting events, and boring cocktail parties. Personally, I've simply always been more comfortable playing games in social situations than figuring out what the heck I'm supposed to be doing and not doing, saying and not saying.

Yes, games are the alternate social lubricant

By this metric, a game can be judged by:

"Facilitating rich and engrossing social interactions"

How much does this resonate with you?
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7. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:170]
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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(Here's where I'm planning to put a poll...)

OK, I somehow have no idea at all how to do a poll. So I'll just list the questions and maybe some else with more coding competence can help me out...

What makes a great game? Which of these definitions appeals to you the most?

1 "The number and quality of interesting decisions per minute."

2 "Lasting memories."

3 "Opportunities to feel clever."

4 "Innovative new themes and mechanics"

5 "Bringing alive complex real world situations."

6 "Facilitating rich and engrossing social interactions"


EDIT: Oh, I totally forgot to add "Other - how else would you define what makes a good game?"
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8. Board Game: Olympos [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1035]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

_9_ Hanabi 2
_8_ Magic: The Gathering 13
_7_ (+) Inca Empire 1
_7_ (+) Tichu 1
_7_ The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game 2
_7_ Olympos 1
_5_ Urban Sprawl 1
_5_ Thebes 1
New to me in bold, (+) is trending up in rating, (-) is trending down in rating.

Week in Review

Last Sunday saw my disappointing play of Urban Sprawl. I wish two of the four at the table hadn't hated it, as it made it hard to give it a fair shake. In general, I wish I'd played with three people instead of four. I'd love to have a chance to play this with my usual three-person group; I know it would have its best foot forward with them. But it's not worth buying only for that, as it'd likely get one or two plays and then languish on my shelf. The whole game feels like a wasted opportunity.

The day was saved with Inca Empire, which I need to play much more, and Tichu. Inca Empire is such a great game. It's so original. I love the route building, the network leeching, the shared sun card dynamics… very good game from bottom to top.

I broke down and bought Olympos mid-week. We'll see how much play I get from it, but it's been bothering me since that first play a couple months ago. I kept wanting to revisit it and finally gave in to the needling from my subconscious. It was well-received and I think it may turn out to be a good purchase. Head, shoulders and torso above Keyaerts' Small World (I'm not a fan).

Another Friday night of Magic play saw me underperforming after winning in the prizes the last two weeks. I played way too well for my deck in the first two rounds, beating perhaps the best deck in the field, and it put me in the top of the bracket. I then got soundly spanked out of contention. Still having fun perfecting my skills…

Thebes is one of those dumb but cute games. Satisfying my theory about gateway games, this was my most fun play yet by virtue of playing with more serious gamers.

Lord of the Rings followed, but the game is simply too easy with four players. The Anduin scenario with two brand new people and core-set basic starter decks was trivial. The troll might have taxed us, but I opened with threat reduction and then put Unexpected Heroism on Gimli, allowing the Tactics player to eat a hit from the troll and destroy him with a same-turn return stroke.

We finished the Saturday session with some late night Hanabi. I converted a new player, though my friend J continues to be ambivalent about it. I don't understand: the game is brilliant.
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9. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:118]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Slide 5 x3 (new to me, from Thrift Generosity Box)
Ra: the Dice Game x2
Utopian Rummy x2
Zauberwäldchen (new to me, from Thrift Generosity Box)
Jaipur (out of the dust)


I just posted my auction for Blue Moon with The Khind and The Mimix

CLOSED Indigo Potter's A Chance Like This Only Happens Once in a Blue Moon auction - BLUE MOON, with KHIND and MIMIX - cards in shrink. Auction ends 11/16/11, shipping to US and Canada only, from Ithaca, NY 14850


I'm busy taking pictures of and getting version info for my thrift finds, so that I'll be ready to send a bunch of games out the door for Thrifty Santa.

My gaming's been relatively sparse lately, but Sam's busy (he's at work right now), and I've been busy with the beta project, including being on the team who is making custom icons for the new site, and my new admin duties. We went for a ride to Rochester yesterday, visited some thrift stores and an FLGS. Gaming surrounds me, but it hasn't necessarily been of the sit down and play a long game variety lately. These are lovely sunny fall days, soon we will be snowed in and ready to tackle a bigger game.
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10. Board Game: 18EU [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:2521]
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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Third week in a row for 18EU. I finally succeeded in not sucking! (2nd out of 6). First time we've played with 6, and I liked it. Took about 4.5 hours.

Didn't have much more gaming since I've been sick, but I finally found a new iPad game that I like - for months I've played basically nothing but Neuroshima Hex and Ticket to Ride on iPad, and have disappointed with the other games I've tried.

The new game is Kard Combat, and it's supposedly partly designed by Richard Garfield. It's similar in a lot of ways to Magic: The Gathering, with a few key differences:

1 There are no land cards. Instead, you get 1 extra mana each turn in each of five colors. It adds up until you spend it.
2 There are 6 slots for your creatures to enter the game. Creatures generally just inflict damage on the creature directly opposite.
3 Creatures have variable life points (4 up to 60 and beyond). So they inflict damage on each other, slowly killing each other.
4 Instead of drawing a hand of cards, you get 16 random cards from your deck each game - at least two in each color. You can cast a card over and over without limit.
5 You generally start with 60 life.

There's online play against other people as well, but so far I've just wiled away the time, all alone, in my room - ironic given my questions for the week.

Next week is bgg.con. I can't wait. I haven't really been paying attention to who is going. If anyone wants to get together at the con, just geekmail me you coordinates and I'll reply. It would be great to meet more of you in person!
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11. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:265]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Games Played: (Listed in order of play, links to play details, with my ratings in color.)
.10! King of Tokyo, play #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8
_6_ Snorta
_7_ Sushizock im Gockelwok
_9_ Eaten By Zombies!, play #1, and #2
_8_ The Resistance
_9_ Vanuatu
_7_ A la carte

New Games:
None (but the free PSN titles) for the first time in a long while.

Representative Item:
King of Tokyo is even better than I thought initially, and I now rate it a perfect "10"!

Plans for the Week:
Buying Animal Upon Animal: Small and Yet Great!, Animal Upon Animal: Crest Climbers, Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge, and My Very First Games: Animal upon Animal to play with my family over the upcoming holidays.

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12. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:433]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Trading Madness:

So trading yesterday went really well! We no longer own Ghost Stories, Ghost Stories: White Moon, Mare Nostrum, Cathedral, Risk and Gobblet.

We now have instead Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game, Thebes, Neuland, Hagoth: Builder of Ships and Easter Island.

Overall this resulted in games taking slightly less space than previously. Cathedral was a huge beast, but Castle Ravenloft is fairly big, and Thebes is a bit bigger box than it needs to be. The games we have now are certainly going to get played more than what we exchanged, although I'm not really sure about Easter Island, as that only plays two and we seem to have enough two player games right now.

Games Played:

_7_ Thebes x2 (*new*)

First play with my oldest son and my wife. We really enjoyed this. I can see how some might not like the luck involved in excavating, but it feels true to theme and it didn't bother me. I won with 79 points with a concentrating on Congess cards, while my wife had 60 and my son 46. It was interesting to see the time track in action after first playing Glen More.

Second game brought in my youngest son, along with my oldest son and myself. This time I did relatively poorly in artifacts, but again made up for it in congress card points, winning 82 to my oldest son 66 and my youngest son 51.

Overall this is a pleasant family game with a bit of luck and a lot of charm. While I don't think I'd like to play this every week, it will be fun to take it for a spin from time to time.

_7_ Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game x1 (*new*)

First play with my oldest son and my wife taking on "Adventure 2," apparently the easiest team advanture (#1 being a solo adventure). My son got knocked down and needed a healing surge, but other than that we did well and had little difficulty. It was a fun first game.

My boys are looking forward to playing this later today. This is our replacement for Ghost Stories, and while I'm not yet sure how it will hold up in the long run, the initial reaction here is that there's more of a sense of progress than what we were seeing with Ghost Stories.

_8_ Eminent Domain x1

Two player game with oldest son, and this was the first time for him trying this in two player mode. I thought the game would be closer but I won 58 to 50. He had a decent produce/trade strategy, but I went with scorched earth and simply conquered enough planets to win the day.

I still like that the two player game has a different pacing to it then three or four players, but I feel we're starting to get a bit perdictable in our plays. I'm going to have to experiment with doing some other things in future games to see what I can get away with.

_6_ Arkham Horror x1 (*new*)

Played at GamesDay. Lots of expansions. I played as scientist Kate Winthrop which I thought was a neat character. We won the game without too much trouble. It was enjoyable and I would play again although I am not sure all the expansions were needed. After the game, my son was hungry and we left for food; meanwhile, the group I played with was planning on playing Mansions of Madness. I would have liked to play that too to compare the two games. Perhaps next time?
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13. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:767] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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The Week That Was:
Go 2
Quarriors! 2 New to me
Scrabble 2
7 Wonders 1
Combat Commander: Pacific 1
Innovation 1
Pacific Typhoon 1

Monday edit: So now that Monday is here and I have time to think, I can summarize a few things from last week.

My wife likes Innovation so we played that again last Friday while my little artist was in her art class. We'll be making another art calendar for the grandparents this year (thank you Apple/iPhoto).

The Thursday night gaming crew enjoyed a game of Pacific Typhoon, where my friend Gerry did not come in last for a change (I did), and then I won our game of 7 Wonders, but only narrowly. I forget who said the game was better with more people, and I'm starting to agree. I still like 7W plain though. I think the Leaders expansion would actually detract rather than add to the experience.

Finally on Saturday, after work I went to see Jonathan who's been working double shifts and is in the middle of selling his house and buying a new one, so this was likely it before BGG.Con.

We played the Stalemate scenario from Combat Commander: Pacific, my first time as the Japanese. The Americans were emerging from jungle into the open and had to charge up the steep slopes to roust out my units that were entrenched in caves. The Japanese had built cave networks during WWII to defend against invasion and the way it's represented in the game is that the Japanese can move from any one cave to any other using advance orders.

In the end, time let me grab the victory, but the linchpin of the entire scenario was likely the melee I won which took out one of his leaders. Had I lost, I would have lost my only leader and I would have been the one dead in the water.

A blurry phone photo of the map at the end of the scenario.

The more I play scenarios from the Combat Commander Series, the more I appreciate the importance of protecting ones leaders.

But, I know all y'all want to hear about Quarriors!

The tin says "deck building without the shuffling" and that's a pretty apt description. You randomly toss out three spells and seven monsters and the three base cards. Each of the cards gets a set of dice on them. Each player begins with eight "quiddity" dice, and four brown dice (don't remember what they represent, don't care) and you randomly pull six from your bag and roll. The quiddity dice only have points on them, the brown dice have quiddity and pawns on them (and a couple other things). You want to roll monsters to attack your opponents and lots of quiddity to buy bigger badder monsters to earn points.

Basically, you roll, pay for monsters you roll, buy a spell or monster die, and at the end of your turn, your monster attacks your opponents' monsters and then at the start of next your turn, monsters still standing win you glory points. First to 20 wins.

I thought it was a lot of good silly fun. I think it would be a riot with a group and my only real disappointment is that it's only 2-4 players, but it's already got an expansion which I expect will take it to 5, but I'm just speculating.

I rate the game a 6. As a reminder, anything 6+ is something I'm happy to play. The difference between a 6 and 7 for me is a 6 is something I'll play if asked, and a 7 is something I'll ask for. And of course, I prefer to play things I rate 8-10.
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14. Board Game: Vanuatu [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:755]
 
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:


I opened game day this week with Tier Auf Tier, including the animals from Das Duell. It was my first experience with the game. Although dexterity games are not genrally my forte, I enjoyed the session and I think I see what Bryan gets excited about. I would happily play it again to pass time between games, but I have a hard time seeing it as anything more substantial given my personal gaming preference.



Next, we played Discword: Ankh-Morpork. It was the light, silly game I expected. I picked up the Collector's Edition in the hopes that I would have something charming and colorful to break out with co-workers who also happen to play games. I'm not sure it went down as well with the somewhat more serious gamers at this game day, but I enjoyed it for what it was.



Vanuatu was probably the highlight of game night. This is definitely a game with potential, though we just barely muddled through as we tend to do on first plays. The action-selection mechanism is the core of the game and is well done (though it might be a little too AP-inducing for many). My only real questions lie in the game's perifery. Are there enough meaningful scoring avenues? Are those avenues sufficiently balanced to make the harsh action-selection mechanic still palatable at its worst moments? Will the game become too scripted over time? I put this game in the same category as something like Troyes last year: clever, fresh, and enjoyable, though probably not a world-beater.

Those who described it as Kavai-lite are not wrong.



Finally, we closed game night with Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas. Unfortunately this one did not finish. In part, this was because we ran long (nearly 4 hours). In part, this was because one player had just about had enough of the Risk-ish gameplay and rules uncertainties. I actually had a really good time playing, and the four hours playing this felt faster than the two hours playing Vanuatu. But it's simply too early to have any sense of whether this is a long-term game for me. I'm not sure that I'll have the right group, and I worry that overt diplomacy is too much a part of the game's intended design. You can be sure that I'll be making every effort to get this game played repeatedly over the next few months to help fix my opinion of it.








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15. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:117]
Judit Szepessy
Canada
London
Canada
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The week in gaming

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers x 1
At the Gates of Loyang x 1
Hansa Teutonica x 1
Glory to Rome x 1

At the Gates of Loyang continues a pleasant gaming experience, this week I played it with my younger son. At times you wish you had other cards, and therefore sometimes you get hold up.

Today we had three young friends over from church for lunch and for a game of Hansa Teutonica. Our friends are experienced players and play a great variety of games. Two of them played HT before once.I played a five player game of HT for the first time, and it was great. We quickly went over the gameplay and soon jumped into the game. It was a tense and tight game, and I did much better than last weekend, as I paid more attention to route building. I came in second, my husband beat me with one point! If I had had one more turn, I would have got the second key and would have won the game. Instead of clearing off the resource track, I should have gone for the second key. Well, next time. But I completed the route that gives you 7 VP. Our friends liked the game a lot, we are amazed at the myriad of choices and the different paths you can take. I would like to try going for the bonus markers and building routes around them. You are always left wanting to do more and wish the game lasted longer. I hope to have another game with them fairly soon.
One of our friends played Last Will, and she liked it. In this game, you win by spending the most money, not collecting the most, sounds like an unusual idea.

GtR was a three player game, I had loads of VP after building the Atrium, Sewer and Fountain. I cannot say enough how much I love this game. Every game is different. I am glad we did not have the Forum or Colosseum in play.

It looks like I am going to play Belfort this coming Sunday.
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16. Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1781]
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 a couple of the I've been Diced! guys:
1x _8_ Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas - Not too bad with three. It was a bit weird to pretend that one of the continents wasn't there (we chose South America.) But even though we got the rules "right" - that is, consistent with the BGG judgments, threads, and FAQ at the time - they've already changed slightly since then. I'm tired of chasing a moving target. While I think I really like the game, I'd really like to have a tight, consistent, and comprehensive ruleset.
1x _6.7_ Gears of War: The Board Game - Would you think that playing this with the correct rules was much better than when we got it wrong? Yeah; when you don't put in the locust-specific AI cards (so there's only 8 AI cards most of which activate all the locusts!) things are both really hard (which isn't so bad) but very monochrome. With the correct AI, it was more entertaining. Though, possibly, a bit on the easy side. (Not terribly so: it seemed that if we'd made a few more bad decisions the outcome might well have been different.)

With son #2:
3x _4_ Fluxx - A few more games with son #2. It's nowhere near my favourite, but the youngster enjoys it - and I like playing games with him.

With some twenty-something youngsters* from church:
1x _7.7_ Age of Industry (on Minnesota Map New!) - Pretty cool; I'd not played Minnesota before - and it added a few nice twists to the AoI dynamics. I'd played the base game before, but this was new to all the other players - and we (mostly) had a good time. At least the guys did: I hope Sarah survived it (she's hard to read.)

At the Los Altos Game Day:
1x _8_ Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas - Whoa. I was annihilated. Not even remotely in contention. I was rather frustrated about the War rules: I'd read up all the threads here on BGG the night before the game - only to find that Christophe had edited some of his judgments that morning - so the rules had changed since the last time I'd read them. I'm not satisfied that many of the corner cases are currently covered: but I believe that the game will eventually work. The bones are solid, even if the flesh is in flux.
1x _7.3_ Montage New! - Very cool stuff. This was much more accessible, playable, and sane than I'd imagined on reading the rules. It's a really really cool design. If you've ever been tempted by a word game, this is one of the good ones.
1x _7_ Mosaix New! - An interrupt in a game of Urban Sprawl (in which I wasn't involved, as it happens.) One of the players had stepped out for lunch, so the others dragged me into a little diversion. This is a cool thing; I'd be happy to pick up a copy.
1x _6.7_ Piece o' Cake - We grabbed Jon's son #1 for this one. It's a comfort game for me: harmless, yet not entirely trivial.

With the No longer on Fridays gamers:
1x _7.7_ Palastgeflüster - Is this my ugly baby? I love this game. It's eccentric; subtle; rewards practice. I'll inflict it on everyone that comes to the GCL-con if I can!
1x _7.3_ TransAmerica - Once upon a time, I had some clue about this one. But I sure didn't demonstrate it in this instance. I was clearly the weakest of the five players.

*) Well, "youngsters" by my antiquated standards. No disrespect intended.
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17. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:267]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played
At the Gates of Loyang x1
Grand Cru x1
Thunderstone x1

Expansions Used
Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements x1

Representative Game
Although I lost, (wait a second, I lost every game this week), At the Gates of Loyang was probably the most enjoyable gaming experience of the week (and therefore "game of the week"). Both S and I enjoyed it - at least I got the impression she enjoyed it. I think she enjoyed Thunderstone as well, and even though I did some trash talking in that one, I really didn't enjoy it all that much. Conversely, she didn't much enjoy Grand Cru for the first half of the game, although by the end of it she was enjoying herself (I think because she realized she was winning).


The Week in Review
Monday to Thursday were absolute duds. S had thrown her back out and I was feeling miserable with a cold. It wasn't until Friday that we sat down and play At the Gates of Loyang. As mentioned, it turned out to be the most enjoyable game of the week - although it was on in which I had to play "catch up" the entire game. Not that I ever did. S won 18 to 17.


Saturday night, after wining and dining at our favorite little Greek restaurant, I pulled out Thunderstone and the Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements and we sat down for a game. What can I say, I sucked. S won 43 to 37. The game got me curious to look at other deck-building games (or maybe it was my curiosity of other deck-building games that made me pull out Thunderstone), but anyway, I took a second look at Ascension: Deckbuilding Game. But having reread the rules tonight and looked at the artwork again, I have mixed feelings about the game. It's a simpler game than Thunderstone and therefore feels like a step backwards.


This afternoon, we sat down and played Grand Cru. It's been a few months so we did a quick recap of the rules. Even then we replayed the first turn because S thought that if you had the highest bid, you had to buy the auction item. She was unimpressed to find that I was bidding up to six with no intentions of buying anything.

Anyway, after a rocky start and her taking what I thought were too many loans, we settled into playing. In the beginning, I tried to keep to as few actions as possible, but she was able to optimize better with her investments and next thing I knew, she had paid off a few of her loans and my nice spartan estate was starting to look flabby as I tacked more on to it. In the end, she just out played me and trounced me 116 to 62.

Does this bother me? Not in the least. One of the things Christopher suggested up top was whether "we want to admit it or not, besting our friends in jovial competition gives all of us (or nearly all) tremendous satisfaction", but I think it's just as much satisfaction to be bested by my wife. When she "gets" the game and pulls a clever one on me, I feel as good about it as she does - maybe even better.
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18. Board Game: Catacombs [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:810]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Sorry Sliders x 1
Animal Upon Animal x 1
Race for the Galaxy (with Gathering Storm) x 3
To Court the King x 1

Agricola x 1
Shadow Hunters x 2
Catacombs x 1
Magnate x 1
Elder Sign x 3

Alrighty then.

We've been enjoying playing Race with just the first expansion (the vast majority of our games have been with all 3 mixed together). We plan on swapping out The Gathering Storm for Rebel vs Imperium soon, and eventually playing with Brink of War only. Heck, Prestige Leader may even work for us with the smaller pool of cards. Race is following the same pattern as Carcassonne and Agricola so far where we mix all the expansions together then eventually remove them and one-at-a-time them.

Speaking of Agricola, we got a little closer to our 100th play this week in a 2-player game with the K Deck. The final score was 49-39, but it was a good game for both of us because we both felt like we were in control, and able execute our plans.

Kat whitewashed me 5-0 in Magnate, the heartless wench. It was very nice to get Shadow Hunters back to the table, even though I didn't personally have a lot to do in either game. In game one, I was David (the neutral character who wins by having ownership of 3 out of 4 or 5 "relics" - specific white cards like the Spear, the Talisman, etc. That victory condition meant I didn't care who was who, I was just working to prolong the game until I could win it (I didn't). In game 2 I was Allie, the neutral with low hit points (8) whose victory condition is to simply be alive at game's end. I was only concerned with survival - which I did until one of the hunters died. Then I became an honorary shadow, looking to find and kill the other hunter and end the game (I did).

No single play stood out this week as especially spectacular, but most were very enjoyable. Catacombs gets the nod simply because it's hit the table every Wednesday night for a month at the game shop, which is quite a feat. We've got a rotating Overseer policy, and I'm very much looking forward to the expansion so we have more characters to play with/against.

We came up with a decent enough variant for Elder Sign, though I don't think it will be enough to save the game. It'll be coming soon to an auction or a math trade near you. Ditto for To Court the King. After sitting down with it and reading the rules, I knew it was doomed to failure. The entire game is claiming characters and using them to alter your die rolls over and over again. It's another flavor of resource conversion, which usually bores me. This was no exception.

Hopefully my Dominion preorder comes in soon so I can get in on all the Urban Sprawl disappointment.
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19. Board Game: Terra Evolution [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:15722]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 44:
1x Glen More
1x Rallyman
1x San Juan
1x Terra Evolution

Game of Choice:
I like this game. There is a pattern to the game, which could be destructive, but so far we have had fun playing it. It is necessary to be careful with your population, keeping track of what the other person buys and ensuring that you play catastrophes at the right time for maximum effect.

It plays quick and works great with 2 players and it is certainly proving to be something different for us. I have taken the whole interaction aspect of the game to heart faster than V., but I am sure she will catch up soon.

We will see how this holds up with repeat plays.

The Week in Review:
In terms of number of games played, this was a mediocre week, but at least the quality was decent. Other issues shrouded the week and the weekend was hampered by social engagements and me suffering from too little sleep.

Our first game of the week though was a contender for the game of choice. V. and I sat down with M. for a game of Rallyman. At the time he broke down crying, tears streaming down his cheeks. No matter how much you say it doesn't matter if you win or lose - it does to him. I think it stems from a lack of self-esteem. He keeps thinking I am no good, even at this game - he cannot just have fun.

It was also, perhaps, a little too much for him. Yoki already hinted at that (or rather clearly stated it) in an earlier list. In truth V. and I laid out the options for him and he made the call whether to play it safe or go all-in with the time-attack. In the 3rd stage he crashed into a mountain wall, lost 4th and 5th gear and basically crawled towards the finish-line.

Still, there was a glimmer of hope Sunday, when we asked the kids to name the games that they found the most fun and he ranked Rallyman as number 1 followed by Tobago. E. also favoured Tobago, Mamma Mia! Plus and Goldland. She is more forgiving, for her it is all about the fun.

The next day we took another trip to the Scottish highlands and whiskey brewing in Glen More. I wanted to go the whiskey route, but was continually denied the distilleries. Instead I built up a great infrastructure of a number of different goods. Once I secured a few VP-conversion buildings, including a butcher and finally the 5-goods fair (I think), I was on the way.

On top of that I managed to secure the special tiles, which offered bonus points for villages, green and yellow tiles. These 3 tiles gave me a total of 30 points, so it mattered little that V. had the smaller village - it was a measly 12 points... V. was a little miffed at the end as she felt she had been in with a chance, but I kept my undefeated run going.

Our final game of the week was a return to San Juan. This time we took it all the way and added the event cards on top of the expansion cards we have long since included. It turns out there are very few bad events and those that are there are not that harsh, though they can be annoying if activated at the wrong time.

The game itself followed a familiar pattern with V. mixing producing and building VP scoring buildings purple). I, on the other hand, went all purple, with the sole exception of my starting plantation. A Customs House and some other card giving me an extra card if only 1 sold good meant I regularly took in 3 cards when trading. I even managed to get the Library early on (meaning I could double a privilege once per round) only to completely forget about it and only use it for the last 2-3 rounds.

It was a nice re-visit to an old favourite, even if I think we might prefer Puerto Rico with the 2 player variant. This one still manages to set-up and play in half the time, so might stick around a little while longer.

The Week Ahead:
Hopefully a few more games will hit the table, but V. is having a busy week in school and her class will have their Christmas party on Friday, so we won't see much of her... It will give me time to play with the kids instead and perhaps look at some of the Essen releases.

I succumbed last week and ordered a copy of Eminent Domain in a group order. Hopefully it arrives this week as I am going to Aarhus on Thursday (where the person responsible lives). We are eager to play again, though I have also noted the few voices this week speaking of the repetitive pattern emerging in their plays.
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20. Board Game: Wok Star [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1988]
Daniel Kenel
United States
New London
Iowa
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Games Played:
Tichu x 1
Pandemic x 1
Carson City x 1
Wok Star x 2
Crokinole x 2

Week in Review:
Just two nights of couples gaming last week. Friday night we hosted Mike and Heather. With 4 kids running around the house we had to stick with some quick, lighter games. We played a game of Tichu. Mike and I really killed the ladies in this one. It wasn't even close as I believe Mike and I won every single hand. We followed that up with our 1st ever game of Wok Star.

We lost but at least made it to the last round and ended up about $10 short of being able to pay off our loan. My first impression of the game was a bit dissapointing. It was certainly chaotic and felt like the pressure of crazy kitchen but it didn't capture me like I expected it to.

Sunday we hosted Tyler and Cindy. They are our most promising serious gaming couple but it's sadly been well over a month since we managed to get together. They were in the mood to return to some games that they had already played so we started with a game of Carson City. Tyler had won our last game by really being a bully with the duels. He tried to run with that same strategy this game but it blew up on him. I focused on mines and using the character that lets you double the value of a specific building type. I was cranking out some decent money and converted that for some quick VP early in the game to jump to a 20-0 lead. The other players did a poor job of pulling me back down and instead got caught up in dueling and in general messing with each other. As a result I was able to crush them. I had well over double the score of 2nd place. A bit of a dissapointment really and frankly some bad play.

Cindy then requested a game of Pandemic. Since this was only their 2nd time playing we decided to stick with the basic game. They were a bit cocky as we won our last game rather easily. Not so lucky this time. It took us a long time to get even our first cure done. It was rather obvious that we were doomed. The game ended on the 8th outbreak and we had 3 cures but were not even close to the 4th. I really want to introduce some of the expansion material the next time we play.

Tori headed to the kitchen to make some supper so I taught Tyler and Cindy, Wok Star. Sadly we failed to even make it to the end of this one. We lost due to bad publicity on the last round of the game. This session felt less chaotic than my prior one. I'm not sure if that's because of me being more familiar with the game or that it was only a 3 player game. Probably a bit of both. I was still less than thrilled with the game and highly prefer Space Alert for a crazy, co-op game with a timed element. I'll certainly explore Work Star a bit more but I don't expect a big change in my rating.

After supper we ended the evening with a couple of quick games of Crokinole. Tyler and I made quick work of the ladies with a couple of 100-0 wins.

This week has some promising gaming and gaming related news. I have an all day game day on Saturday which should be a blast. Tori and the girls don't have school this Friday so I'm considering taking off work to stay home for some family gaming with them. I'm also hoping to receive several games I have on order: Drum Roll, Prêt-à-Porter, Flash Point: Fire Rescue and Space Bastards.

I just found out that I'll be in Rochester, Minnesota the last week of this month. If anyone is in the area and wants to game drop me a line.

Other Stuff:
I've really watched some interesting documentaries recently that I wanted to pass along.

- Loose Change
- Pelada
- Forks over Knives
- Touching the Void
- Inside Job

And a couple of good movies.

- The Wrestler
- Winter's Bone
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21. Board Game: Catacombs [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:810]
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 (62)
Wits & Wagers (4)
Dixit (3)/Both Expansions (3)
Catacombs (2)
Quarriors! (2)
Gosu (1)
No Thanks! (1)
Race for the Galaxy (1)/All Expansions (1)
Ricochet Robots (1)

---

I'll post more on this later today or tomorrow!
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22. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:5]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Twilight Struggle
Innovation x2

Well, I played perhaps the best TS game ever. As USSR, I culled the deck of USA events, dominated Asia & the Middle East (to the tune of USA having one country in each iirc), had South America nailed down and Africa dominated. AND LOST in the 8th turn when USA dropped a headline that discarded a card (that was fine) leaving me at Defcon 2 holding the card that blew up the world (not fine). S. threw his hands up & hooted when the world blew up cause it wasn't looking good for USA and it'd been a long, hard slog. Like he was raptured & I was the left behind.I continue to impress myself with my own play as each loss mounts.

Innovation is still swell.

Loose gaming stuff:
- I'm weirdly in thrall to the idea of RPG games Apocalypse World or Dogs in the Vinyard. Max & Yoki have both got me really thinking about them hard.
- Zoe and her beau are starting a new D&D 3.5 campaign with new buddies this weekend.
- I'll be gaming with the three shrimps (Money. Liam, Nora) this Saturday, and I'm trying to get my Dvonn board done by then.
- No wifi at home; hopefully I'm back online within days to start gaming online with you all.
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