GCL Amoeba 91 -- The Ghost of SPIEL past (2012-10-21)
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Sunnyvale
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

If you found us randomly (via subscription, perhaps), you're welcome to join in with constructive conversation -- we're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) Read the links above for more info. (If you're shy, just thumb the list so we can see who's stalking us :-) )

Our hosts:

elemental - Ed
fizzle - Jens
garygarison - Cary
Morganza - you know who I am, I hope :-)
Msaari - Mikko
out4blood - Tim
sprocket314 - Carlos

Our non-hosting members:

BrenoK - Breno
cadavaca - Jevon
jasonwocky - Jason
jdludlow - James
paulclarke339 - Paul
photocurio - Peter
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1. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:345]
Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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The Ghost of Spiel Present:

The reports from Spiel 2012 are trickling in; what new game(s) are you most interested in trying, or in playing again? Any surprises?
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2. Board Game: Panic Station [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3513]
Board Game: Panic Station
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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The Ghost of Spiel Past, Part I:

What game(s) from Spiel 2011 disappointed you the most?
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3. Board Game: Vanuatu [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:867]
Board Game: Vanuatu
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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The Ghost of Spiel Past, Part II:

What game(s) from Spiel 2011 are still welcome on your gaming table? Do you get to play them as much as you like? Why or why not?
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4. Board Game: 1833NE [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Board Game: 1833NE
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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The Ghost of Spiel Future:

What unreleased games are you looking forward to?
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5. Board Game: Amoeba Wars [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:6484]
Board Game: Amoeba Wars
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Amoeba discussion has been rather slow lately. What, if anything, would you like to see change? Is there enough interest to keep going, or should we congratulate ourselves on the run we've had and go our separate ways?
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6. Board Game: Andean Abyss [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:897]
Board Game: Andean Abyss
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Yesterday I spent 9 hours playing this from start to finish with 3 wonderful opponents. The game came down to the final scoring, as the events of the last propaganda phase, AFTER the instant-victory checks, left two factions exactly meeting their victory conditions and two factions one point away.

Most of the Prop cards came VERY late in their decks; there were several times when the game would have ended early if the card had showed up one turn sooner, and it took a concerted and heroic effort in several places to avoid any one faction's insta-win.

But I digress.

This is a 4-player deeply asymmetric card-driven wargame, set in Colombia during the recent political instability. The four factions are the government, the right-wing paramilitary (AUC), the left-wing revolutionaries (FARC), and the drug cartels. Cards have both an event and a turn order; the first faction to act on a card chooses whether to take a full turn, a limited turn, or trigger the card event, most of which have two versions, distorted-mirror images that help or hinder a given faction. The action taken by the first actor constrains the actions available to the second, so for example you might take a limited action to put the event off-limits to the next person in line. Anyone who takes a turn is ineligible to play on the foreshadowed next card, so you might well pass, if the next card's event is critical for you.

Never enough time. Never enough actions. Never enough resources. Awesome game.

Oh yeah, I played other games:
GamesDay:
Lokomotive Werks x1.5 4p -- both games featured a player completely out of it, once through their own fault and once through horrible dice luck countering correct play from last seat. My eagerness to play this game with 4 or 5 players is much diminished.

Friday night:
Puzzle Strike 3p -- John was about to die on his last turn, but had a Crash gem that would determine which of the other players won. That felt broken.
Power Grid 4p+robot on Quebec map -- our robot had the special head that makes players pre-seed the map with N starting cities, then people choose in reverse turn order; we ended up with cities ranging from relatively good to non-viable, and thus the initial plant auction took one player out.

Thursday night:
Kingdom Builder + Nomads 2x: It's nice to be able to play this 5p, but the nomads powers can be very swingy, even though they are single-use. I came in first by a wide margin and then last by almost as big of a margin.

Monday night:
18MEX:
I threw a company with a 4T and more than $200 into the NdeM, because of tokens and because of how much the share depreciation would catch JC off-balance. He had to sell a bunch of shares to buy a permanent train and never recovered; meanwhile I doubled up my 5T and 6T in the next OR to buy a 4D just after the next SR without having to sell any shares; that coupled with the NdeM president not holding soon enough to buy a 4D (with my money!) got me the win.
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7. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:145]
Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe

Eugene
Oregon
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Played this week

Glory to Rome
Blockers!
Manifest Destiny
Combat Commander: Europe
The Castles of Burgundy
Blue Moon City
Traders of Osaka
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8. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:155] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Board Game: Magic: The Gathering
James Ludlow
United States
Saint Louis Park
Minnesota
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Played last week

18x Magic: The Gathering
1x Go

About two weeks ago, I decided that I couldn't function properly until I built a Magic draft cube. I went with 460 cards, powered, with about 30 proxies. Given that I didn't own any creatures printed since ~2003, and most of the good ones have appeared after that, this thing cost me a boatload of cash. But we've drafted it twice now, and wow do I not regret building it at all. We had a riot.

For those who don't know, a draft cube is a carefully selected set of cards from which you build random "packs" for drafting. In our case we made 4 packs of 11 cards for each player. In a standard draft format, everyone looks at their first pack, chooses 1 and then passes the other 10 to the left. Repeat until all 11 cards are chosen, go to pack 2, pass to the right, etc.

When you're done you have 44 cards, to which you can add as many basic lands as you want to create a minimum 40-card deck. Whatever drafted cards you have left over act as your sideboard. You'll generally use something like 22 of the non-mana cards that you drafted, so you can and usually will also be drafting cards that you simply want to keep out of other players' hands.

What made this particularly fun is that the idea of a powered cube is to assemble an all-star cast of the best cards ever printed. Every pack you look at is agonizing, because you have to pass so many good cards. Of course you're being passed strong cards as well, and the general strengths of the decks is just high. It was good times, with some games ending very quickly and some going quite long if two people who managed to build control decks faced off.

In the 2nd draft I managed to pull off a mono-white / artifact old-school prison deck that was just ridiculous when it worked. I got stomped a few times, but it was exactly the style of Magic that I enjoy playing.
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9. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:534]
Board Game: Kingdom Builder
Jens KH
Germany
Karben
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Games played

.10. Agricola
_7_ Kingdom Builder x2 (new!)
_7_ Ra
_7_ Shipyard
_6_ 18EU
_6_ Rotundo
_6_ Thurn and Taxis
_5_ Guildhall (new!)
_5_ Ingenious
_5_ Milestones (new!)

Sunday was my day at the Spiel, but with only one day there's not a lot of time to actually play anything. It's kind of ironic that I'm choosing a 2011 title as my game of the week...
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10. Board Game: Fleeting Foxes [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:14625]
Board Game: Fleeting Foxes
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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1 x _8_Village (new)
1 x .10!Samarkand: Routes to Riches
1 x _5_Making Profit: The Boardgame
1 x _9_Gulo Gulo
1 x _7_Das Kleine Gespenst
1 x _7_Ch√Ęteau Roquefort
4 x _7_Fleeting Foxes
1 x _7_The Kids of Catan
3 x _7_Volldampf voraus!
2 x _7_Mord im Arosa

A good week. Most of this is with the family. Now that both my son and my daughter are capable of playing games by the rules, we've played quite a bit more. It's easier to have family game time, when you don't have to exclude one kid.

In our weekly game night, I was finally able to get Village on the table. It's a good one. I doubt my rating is going to rise and eventually may drop, but I don't think it'll drop below 7. It's a good game, with lots of stuff going on. A bit pain to teach, but not too much (it's no Dungeon Lords).

Samarkand is always a pleasure. Making Profit got a rating boost from 3 to 5, as it turned out to be halfway decent, when nobody gets a really bad start and players do some cross-investing. Still, having a factory that makes little money and running it a lot seems way more effective than developing a solid factory. The game balance seems a bit off, and selling shares is still pretty much completely pointless - I don't nobody even considered it. Selling goods was used a bit, and maybe I should've done it once or twice, but it rarely felt like a good move.

Volldampf Voraus is cute. It's very simple (especially as I forgot the correct rules and the way we played it made it even easier and more luck-heavy), but it's a train game. My daughter's first train game! I just recently bought a copy of Volldampf, it'll be easy to move to that with just a little more practise with Volldampf Voraus.

Fleeting Foxes is an entertaining little roll-and-move, with a neat die-allocation mechanism. You roll dice one by one and allocate one die per player. A bit of risk-taking there, all in all rather lovely little game mechanism for kids. The game has also very cute art. Not bad.

I've also got into Geocaching. Anybody here interested in that madness?
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11. Board Game: Antike Duellum [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1323]
Board Game: Antike Duellum
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
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I have a new favorite game: Antike Duellum.

This just went live this past week on Yucata. I am a huge fan of the gameplay of Antike, but it doesn't play well with 2, and with more players, it turns into a political game.

From my comments:
Quote:
An innovative 2-player version of Antike. Antike has always been a favorite with me, but it doesn't see much play largely because I prefer my civ games 2-player, and that game doesn't seem to end well. Well, now we have a strictly 2-player game that returns to the original distillation of the rondel mechanism.
---------------------
Update: This just moved into the 10-spot for creating unbelievable tension throughout the entire game. The actions are quick, appropriately limited, and generally easy, leaving all the thinking to the strategic aspect: Do I build a temple now, or another couple of cities? Do I recruit more troops and get a technology? Do I follow behind to gather event cards or try to win by force?
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