Carl Garber
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Hi all! I have played CoB 9 times now and have only won twice. 1 of those wins was against a beginner in a two player game and the other was against my wife who was 8 months pregnant and had baby brain. My wife routinely kills me at this game and I just couldn't get my head around it.

Some background:

I normally win with those that I game with. I normally see the optimal strategies faster, I adapt once others learn these strategies, and I generally see things during game play that gives me the edge to pull out victory. That is not the case with this game.

Most games I discover strategy as I play, however this time I decided to sit and think about it. I decided this for a couple reasons.

1) I got tired of losing
2) I like to write reviews after 10 plays but I do not understand the game well enough at this point to write a meaningful review.

My last game of CoB I came in with this simple strategy:

1) All players will pretty much get the same amount of points for completing regions therefore I must win the pasture battle as well as the knowledge tiles that give you extra points alongside shipping. If I can do better than my opponents in those areas I should win the game.

I managed to pretty much draw even in the shipping department and won in both the pastures and knowledge tile departments.....yet still lost. It was closer, but yet I still lost. The winner won many tile type bonuses, and yet after doing the math, even without those he still would have beat me by a couple points.

So after further analysis this is the strategy I will use going forward:

1) at the beginning of each round come up with a 10 dice plan that will net me the most points. Generally speaking the focus will be on completing the smallest regions for the first 3+ rounds and then shifting to regions 6 or larger in rounds 4 or 5(if there are any). Some exceptions to this general rule are 4 or 3 animal pasture tiles and point getting knowledge tiles.

2)win or at least tie in these 3 areas: shipping, knowledge tiles, pastures.

3) at the end of round 3 evaluate which tile type bonuses I can compete in and which tile type areas I need to abandon.(if I am set up for mines or castles these will likely already be accomplished by here.

4)early game priorities:

a) 4 animal tiles(especially if only one one the board)
b) the shipping knowledge point tiles
c)completeing regions
d) building knowledge point tiles

This is my plan laid out simply. Of course there will be many tactical decisions that will have to be made but this will be my main approach. I will report back here with the results of my future CoB games in which I use this strategy.






c)
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Dave Eisen
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And I will disagree. Pastures and yellow tiles are the best direct point gainers, but they provide no help at all in your velocity of getting tiles on your board. If you focus so heavily on those, then I do not see how you can keep up in the points for completing regions categories unless your opponents are making mistakes.

Basically, I do not agree with your premise that "All players will pretty much get the same amount of points for completing regions". There are tradeoffs. Game is harder than that.
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Carl Garber
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Sorry, I think I was unclear above. You see when I had that premise and followed that strategy I still lost. A big part of losing was getting beat in the completion bonus department. As I looked at the numbers, this game highly favors early completion and this completing the smaller sections. I drew the line at area of 6 tiles to switch from small to large. The math was this for 5 tile regions:

15 + 2(5 tile completed last round)

vs.

6 + 2 + 3 + 2(a 3 and 2 tile completed in the past round)

That is only a 4 point gap. An if you can complete one I the two smaller ones a round earlier it is only a 2 point gap.

For a 6 tile section though it is:

21 + 2

Vs.

6 + 2 + 6 + 2

a spread of 7(or at least 5). Worth pushing for.

Yes mines are a priority if it works for your given board. I think this naturally flows with the completing small region philosophy tho as they are smaller regions and usually decently easy to get too I would prioritize these above other smaller regions.

 
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Brian Gee
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dkeisen wrote:

And I will disagree. Pastures and yellow tiles are the best direct point gainers, but they provide no help at all in your velocity of getting tiles on your board. If you focus so heavily on those, then I do not see how you can keep up in the points for completing regions categories...


I agree, and an important thing to remember that seems to be missing from the original analysis are the fact that green and beige tiles essentially act as extra actions, as do silver in a more indirect way. If someone is focusing on these, they are going to have more actions than you, and will beat you in the race to complete regions.

Personally, I tend to ignore animals in this game, since there always seem to be more important things to do. I focus on green, beige, and try to grab helpful yellow tiles (either in game effects or bonus points), when they come up and match my strategy well. Silver I will grab when I can but they sometimes seem scarce.

That said, I am probably missing out on an aspect of the game by ignoring the animal tiles. I plan to try to be more flexible in my next game.
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Dave Eisen
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downstream wrote:
dkeisen wrote:

And I will disagree. Pastures and yellow tiles are the best direct point gainers, but they provide no help at all in your velocity of getting tiles on your board. If you focus so heavily on those, then I do not see how you can keep up in the points for completing regions categories...


I agree, and an important thing to remember that seems to be missing from the original analysis are the fact that green and beige tiles essentially act as extra actions, as do silver in a more indirect way. If someone is focusing on these, they are going to have more actions than you, and will beat you in the race to complete regions.

Personally, I tend to ignore animals in this game, since there always seem to be more important things to do. I focus on green, beige, and try to grab helpful yellow tiles (either in game effects or bonus points), when they come up and match my strategy well. Silver I will grab when I can but they sometimes seem scarce.

That said, I am probably missing out on an aspect of the game by ignoring the animal tiles. I plan to try to be more flexible in my next game.


I do the exact same thing, and yeah, animals can be worth a lot too. Plus more strategy to learn by going a different avenue.
 
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Carl Garber
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He I am all for efficency and using the buildings to get other tiles (If I can use a building to get an animal tile I am all for it). But there is just too many points to be had in the pastures to avoid animals. especially since, if you avoid them your competitor will have an easier time taking advantage. Lets say on the base board a player fills it all up with sheep. If they get the sheep in say this order: 4,3,2,3,3 that would be worth 20 + 12 + 6 + 6 + 3= 47. add to that the 15 points a 5 tile region is worth and then maybe a 2 point completion bonus(last rd) and you are looking at a total of 64 points for 5 tiles. or roughly 13 points per tile. That's better than completeing 5 one tile regions in round 1 even. So yes, pastures are definately something to consider

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The Dave
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I win many of the games that I play of this game, and in my experience it is because my opponents are often doing exactly what you describe.

My number one objective is to be in a better place to secure the black depot tiles before my opponents can. Why do I do this? It's the one area of the game that is least determined by randomness, thus it is one the players have the most control over.

How do I do this?

First, it is imperative to fill the mine spaces as soon as possible. I make this an almost absolute priority - I MUST generate income.

Second, I keep an eye out for tiles that help - tiles that provide bonus silver, tiles that make shipping easier or more lucrative, etc.

Third, I try to control shipping so that before the black depot is refilled I am first in turn order (or second if I'm pretty sure my opponent has no income coming his way).

Beyond this I lay siege to the castles early and often. They provide extra actions when I have the most available choices. Sometimes my opponents like saving their castle spaces until mid or late game, but by then their board is getting filled and their strategic options have narrowed. Thus if you start hammering the castles early, not only are competing for two completion bonuses (castles and mines), but you are using those extra actions when they are more useful.

I tend to ignore animals unless they fall into my lap. Certainly if I can snag a 4-pig tile because I have nothing else to grab, and I can follow that up with buying a 4-pig tile from the black depot I will do that (assuming there isn't a juicier option in the black depot). But usually I let others tend their flocks while I carve out kingdoms.
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Drew Gormley
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based on what everyone is saying, I may be the only person out there who wins 75% of the time or more by playing a buildings/boats/(insert third item depending on board) strategy.
 
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Howard Burdett
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bchlax944 wrote:
based on what everyone is saying, I may be the only person out there who wins 75% of the time or more by playing a buildings/boats/(insert third item depending on board) strategy.


I'm with Drew, particularly on the thing least talked about so far - buildings. Imagine this game was Dominion. Pastures are basically the estates of the game - good points, but do nothing but slow you down in the early game. It's better in early stages to get things that give you extra actions and more money. Mines are key, but so are lowly buildings - played strategically, the extra action many give can be as powerful as a castle. Plus - and this is key - there are so many of them available most of the time. You hardly ever have to worry about competing with another for the tiny number of available mines and castles. You can buy and place buildings so easily, you will hardly ever need workers. Town regions will be filled up in no time.
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Stephen McHale
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This entire thread just reiterates to me one very important thing, this really is a great game.
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Colin Goldberg
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StephenM wrote:
This entire thread just reiterates to me one very important thing, this really is a great game.


Agreed. This one doesn't get to my table nearly often enough.

I've seen people win without shipping, without mines, and without animals, but not without all three! I have never seen anyone win the game without using the building that gives you four workers. Flexibility and adaptability is key.
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Hi Carl,

Iam always impressed on how much thoughts you spend into games and strategies and i well noticed that you are a true "Feld-geek". Since I played CoB already at least 30 times with a positive winning-balance against other frequent players of my gameing group, I think I might be able to give some ideas on how to win more often:

1. Ships are not that important unless you have the VERY VERY powerful knowledge-tiles which give you extra points for sold goods or different colours of sold goods. Sometimes, in case these tiles were grabbed by someone else early in the game, I play with almost no ships and easily won concentrating on other strategies. If these tiles pop up later in the game, I might speculate on them, but since I am often last on moveorder-track I should be lucky to pick them up then.

2.
Very important are the knowledge tiles wich give points for same buildings. Picking one or two of them early also provides you with a goal to strive for/after. Meaning also that you build buildings which give some momentum for your further development. And if you combine them by finishing the yellow area fast you gain more extra points.

3.
Very seldom anybody ever won without being successful with the animals!

4.
Everything else depends pretty much on what others do. Sometimes others are just better. Or: why not getting another baby




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Carl Garber
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Pasvik: thanks for you thoughts friend! I also appreciate your thoughtful posts as well. Also, your translations of german to english! Thanks again for the Bora Bora translation!

Your thoughts seem to be in line with mine as well. I think I overvalued ships early in my plays but I am still on the fence with them. Is your analysis based on all plaer counts? I think ships might be better in a 4p game where the goods are worth more. Yes, I agree that the buildings are powerful! If everyone plays well finishing off their regions it will come down to who has better pastures and bonus points and those buildings are a good source of that. This is one reason I like board 8 so much as it allows you to get so many of the same building easily!

Yes, good pastures seems to be a common thread among the winners of our games as well.

On a side note I just ordered Trajan not to long ago, hopefully I will get it by mid-October and can then finally join in on Trajan discussion/analysis!

Always good to talk with a fellow Feldian! I also just geek buddied you, don't know why I didn't sooner!

Happy Gaming!
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Steve Duff
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I think what makes this game truly great is that for everyone that says "you can't win without X" there's someone saying "Yes, you can, you can't win without Y" and vice versa.

Animals win, animals lose, ships win, ships lose...
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Pasvik -
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I think what makes this game truly great is that for everyone that says "you can't win without X" there's someone saying "Yes, you can, you can't win without Y" and vice versa.

Animals win, animals lose, ships win, ships lose...


Totally agreed! That is what I also find so fascinating about this game and that is probably why the replay-value, at least for me, is still very high. My thoughts above are just a result of what I experienced playing CoB. Truly someoneelse might have found other ways to win the game.

Carl, thanks for the "buddy". Will write an eMail to you.
 
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David B
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I think this may be one of those games that will still be getting attention 5 to 8 years from now. I know Trajan is getting a lot of buzz right now and many have crowned Trajan as Feld's masterpiece. But I think CoB is more likely than Trajan to maintain its high regard in the long run. CoB has just the right amount going on. I think Trajan overdid it by a tad.
 
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Dave Eisen
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pfctsqr wrote:
I think this may be one of those games that will still be getting attention 5 to 8 years from now. I know Trajan is getting a lot of buzz right now and many have crowned Trajan as Feld's masterpiece. But I think CoB is more likely than Trajan to maintain its high regard in the long run. CoB has just the right amount going on. I think Trajan overdid it by a tad.


Castles of Burgundy is a better game. Trajan has the very clever mancala mechanic which is much more innovative than anything in Castles of Burgundy. But around that, there are kind of a mishmash of ways to get points without any real focus. There's also the matter that it's just plain better being earlier in the original turn order and this balance issue is going to grate on people.

Trajan is likely to be more influential. I expect a series of mancala-structured games to appear on the market in the next few years.
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Seisyll W.
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Are we talking about a two-player game or a four-player game or what here?

Because pastures can be rough in the two-player game. Not enough tiles appear during that game - your animal type may not come up enough to fill a region. You also tend to steal each other's animals in two-player because you can focus on attacking each other directly, whereas it's difficult to know who to go after in a three- or four-player game. In a four-player game, pastures can be decimating, of course - comprising at least a fourth of your score.

My wife is very good at this and she tends to focus entirely on chaining buildings. She also values highly the knowledge tile that allows you to have duplicate buildings. I agree that this tile might be the most overpowered tile in the game. It enables two things: first, it allows you to overload on the buildings which grant extra tiles; second, it knocks up the power level of the knowledge tiles that give bonuses for those buildings. This game is all about loosening your restrictions until you have complete flexibility.

She also finishes small areas early and these early grab for points seem to alway pay off in the end.

I tend to value mines highly, as well as mine modifier tiles. These, in combination with the tile that allows you to buy any tile on the board with silverlings, gives you the chance to scoop up extra tiles to slow your opponents down. However, I think I need to start building quicker rather than investing so heavily in the late game.
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Carl Garber
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Alrighty...So this is round 2 of this post. I made the mistake of typing a lengthy post and pressing send without saving it somewhere. Unfortunately I accidently pressed the wifi button on my laptop so I lost the post. This one will be a lot less long winded

So I finally got to play this game today and try out my new approach!

It was a three player game between myself, my wife, and my sister.

I won with a score of 230, my wife was second with 224. My sister was quite a bit behind us. So it was nice to see my new appraoch bring me victory!

I used board 2 and started in the bottom left. My wife used board 4 and started on the bottom left, my sister used board 1 and started in the middle.

Going first greatly benefitted me as I was able to pull of a church/mine combo in the first two turns. Also, since I had good access to ship spots I went first most of the game. I got a great knowledge tile early that really helped me this game. I got the one that let you adjust dice for taking any tile from the board. Between that tile and another that gave me workers for mines I only had to use the worker option with my dice twice(possibly 3 times).

I wasn't able to complete any regions in the first phase, but I was able to set myself up nicely with that knowledge tile, a mine, a ship, and another church(to do the church/mine combo again in phase 2).

In the 2nd phase I was able to close 4 or 5 regions as well as grab both the 3 points per shipped good tile and the tile that gives you a worker per mine. I also think I worked my way up to the large pasture and bought a 4 pasture sheep tile.

For the rest of the game I worked alongside the right side of the board trying to complete these small regions as quickly as possible. No sheep came up until the last round which limited my growth in that area. I did, however manage to grab two 4 pigs in round 4 which I played in the small pasture, and bought the other 4 sheep in the last round.

At the end of round 4 I had 4 buildings on the 8 building region with two in my storage. I decided to wait to phase 5 to see if it was even possible to complete the region. I had the knowledge tile that lets you buy from all spots by then so I knew I had a good opportunity to get them if they appeared(I also had all my ships done by then so was first). Unfortunately they didn't turn up so I scurried for the points I could get in other ways.

Here is the breakdown in scoring for the main areas between my wife and I.

pastures:

wife: 32 points
me: 24(2x4 pigs, and 2x4 sheep)

knowledge tiles:

wife: 36 points(9 x 4 buildings -she had 4 building knowledge tiles)
me: 30 points(18 for different goods, and 12 for shipped goods)

completion bonuses:

wife: 15 points
me: 24 points

As you can see it was a tight game! It was my early completions of many small regions and a few extra shipped goods that were the difference. Also, the fact that I only had to use dice to get workers 2 or 3 times was key as well. (Also that knowledge tile that let me adjust +/-1 in selecting tiles from the board, coupled with me being first most of the game was huge as well).

While I was unfortunate that not more sheep came up and that I wasn't able to complete the 8 region(my biggest completed region at the end of the game was only 2!). I was fortunate to grab four 4 animal pastures as well as both of those shipping knowledge tiles as well as those good worker saving knowledge tiles. I feel that it all balanced out and that in the end 230 is probably a decent score overall. I am curious how high a score I could've gotten if everything broke right.

So far my strategy has proven good for me, although I was delighted by how many tactical decisions I still had to make even with this approach. The interplay of what gets taken every round forces you to always adjust on the fly. I feel like my better understanding of the game helped me enjoy my play better.

I will post again here after my next play to see how my approach does next time!

Happy Gaming
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Paul Holman
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jmanders85 wrote:
Silver Mines need to be a priority, and I'm inclined to think that there are better knowledge tiles for early game than any shipping bonus (eg the one that gives +/- on selecting tiles comes to mind)


As a general rule of thumb, taking and placing a Mine during the first phase seems to me to be a "can't be bad" option. Assuming the game is properly play-tested and balanced, then Mines are at their most valuable if taken and placed during phase 1. If they're not worth it in phase 1 then they're not worth it ever. Well, that's my simple analysis after 4 games.

If a phase 1 mine is outstandingly good compared to other openings (and I'm not necessarily saying it is, just "if"), then the starting player has quite an advantage, as there is much better than 75% chance they can take one in their first turn of the game (if I got my sums right.)
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downstream wrote:
and an important thing to remember that seems to be missing from the original analysis are the fact that green and beige tiles essentially act as extra actions, as do silver in a more indirect way. If someone is focusing on these, they are going to have more actions than you, and will beat you in the race to complete regions.


I agree. IMHO, if you haven't used all your dark green Castle spaces, and several of your beige Building spaces, you are missing out on doing lots of extra stuff, which seems a very strong tactic for winning. Having said that, I'm a bit crap at making use of beige Buildings, and still seem to do well so far. I think that partly illustrates the good balance of CoB, and that there are a variety of paths to doing well.

Focusing on completing smaller regions during the early game seems to me to be very worthwhile.
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Andrew Walters
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I'll second and combine those last two points: actions get you points, and each castle gives you an action, and each mine gives you half an action each round. Most buildings give you an action. So building all of these will advance your efforts. A mine built in the first round gives you the equivalent of two actions over the course of the game, a mine built in the third round only gives you one.
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Paul Holman
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CarlG wrote:
I am all for efficency and using the buildings to get other tiles. But there is just too many points to be had in the pastures to avoid animals.


Yes, but Animals only provide VP, and the same amount of VP whether you place them early or late in the game - they give you virtually no advantage during the game, so why use early moves to place them? If you're playing on a board with many small pastures, then the bonus for completing in an early phase perhaps make it worth doing - I don't think I've been in this position to test this idea. With a large pasture, I try to complete it as late in the game as possible. Obviously, I have to take the occasional Animal from the early/middle game, but the very minimum I can.

By contrast, Castles and Buildings help you during the game, and often it is the case that the earlier that help is gained, the more powerful it is. For example, placing a Castle to take another Castle from the board, puts me a move closer to filling my Castle region for the first bonus than my opponent who has not used a bonus action. Earlier in the game is more likely to secure me the bonus before anyone else - later in the game I've probably already missed out.

Of course, the other side of the coin is that I suspect placing Castles and Buildings can be very useful during the last phase, when you can't roll the numbers you need. So again, I think there are a variety of tactical approaches.
 
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whattheproblemis wrote:
My number one objective is to be in a better place to secure the black depot tiles before my opponents can. Why do I do this? It's the one area of the game that is least determined by randomness, thus it is one the players have the most control over.


I'm certainly with you on this, but not just the black tiles - I extend the concept to "all the good tiles", not just the black ones. If you're playing against competent opponents then they will have Workers and Yellow tiles to help them be able to take the good tiles pretty quickly when they come out in the new phase. So having cash at the start of phase is important, which means mines and other cash generators are important. But there is also opportunity - going first at the start of a new phase appears to be very powerful, IMHO. The third piece of my tactical trinity, is having as many empty storage spaces as possible at the start of a new phase. Ideally for me, on round 1 of a new phase, I will be going 1st, with at least 2 cash, and 3 empty storage spaces - pick up two of the best tiles on the dice and buy the best black tile

So towards the end of each phase I'm looking at emptying my storage, getting cash, and what Ship placing I need to do to go first in round 1 of the next phase. So in the middle of each phase I'm looking at how many ships I will need to pick up from the board so I can to place them in round 5 and go 1st.
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Paul Holman
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... and another thing ...

Yellow tile 15 (3 VP for each goods type sold) seems perhaps too powerful to me, as it seems pretty easy to max out the bonus. Certainly seems a no brainer to take if I have the chance, as long as I've shipped a few different goods and there are quite a few rounds left in the game. I've seem it taken in 3 games, and every time the player managed to get max bonus from it.

Also, if Yellow 15 (1 VP per goods sold) seems mediocre for the effort of selling extra goods, but combined with Yellow 25 it seems great.
 
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