GCL Phoenix 104: Year of the Phoenix! (01 January 2013)
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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From gallery of ravenskana


GCL Phoenix Roll Call:

BennyD
chally
Dormammu
Eeeville
enzo622
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
judoka
leroy43
Lowengrin
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf *
Taibi
tjshields
topherr
Yokiboy

*in charge of next week's list.

GCL Phoenix Lost In Space:
Bruzza
JohnRayJr
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1. Board Game: Cromwell 2026 [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Cromwell 2026
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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January 1st, 2026: Michigan

"Hi Dad, I'm home," Avery called out as she entered Bryan's office. His nineteen year old daughter might have been brilliant at college, but once home for the holidays she often reverted to kid like status: "And don't try to hit me with that snowball, goofball," she called out to her brother.

Levi stepped out from behind the side door, snow on his jacket and hat, and mock pouted a bit, "I would have hit you as you got out of the car, but you got inside too fast." In his hands was a rapidly formed snowball that was now beginning to melt due to the warmth of the house.

"Take that outside, Levi."

"Yes, mom," Levi said with a sudden innocent angel smile, kissing Kat on the cheek as he went outside. "You weren't teasing him, were you Avery?"

"Mooommm, geez, NO!"

Bryan looked up from his computer, "She's innocent this time."

Kat nodded and looked to her husband, "Will you be ready for dinner soon?"

"Yes, just posting this week's GCL entry," Bryan said with a smile, "Tom said he would get in town tonight with Zoe."

"Judith is going to make it too?"

"Yes, she's coming in with her boys. And she was the only other one that might have had a problem getting in, so that's everyone!" Bryan smiled, as it had been a couple of years since the last GCL gathering, and he was looking forward to seeing everyone again. And with luck Levi wouldn't decide to start a sneak snowball attack with anyone.


Happy New Year everyone and I hope some of us will continue to get together before 13 more years have passed!

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2. Board Game: Proverbial Wisdom [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Proverbial Wisdom
Jon
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Urbana
Illinois
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For the new year, suggest a proverb that can apply for a game, or guess which one this is for: "You can't have your cake and eat it too."

I'm not sure how much collected wisdom we have!
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3. Board Game: Global Resolution [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Global Resolution
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Do you make New Year's Resolutions? Do you have any for this year? How did you do last year?
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4. Board Game: Hollywood Awards [Average Rating:4.88 Unranked]
Board Game: Hollywood Awards
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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What awards would you hand out for 2012? Game of the Year? Disappointment of the year? Most likely to slip on the ice?
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5. Board Game: Key Market [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:1881]
Board Game: Key Market
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_5_ Plethora x2 new!

I received this a week or so ago and first played it with my oldest son. He won a close game 28 to my 23. The next day I taught my youngest son along with his brother, and this time I was able to quickly grab three nobility cards in a row to force the game to end, winning 33 to my oldest son's 22 and my youngest son's 18.

The main problem with Plethora is it feels like it takes too long. I didn't time either game but I think they both ran 90+ minutes and it gets monotonous at times. I started a thread with an idea to reduce the playing time here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/905247/rendezvous-whats-... but even with my idea I'm not sure how much legs this has.


_5_ No Thanks x2
During the holidays, we got this played twice, both times with my daughter! In the first game she played with her brothers and in the second game she played with her cousin. This was highly enjoyable for me watching my daughter calling out "Nooooo THANKS!" I won the first game with 19, Daughter 53, Youngest son 64, Oldest son 89 and in the second game my Nephew won with 62, my Daughter 64, while I had 70.

_5_ Giro Galoppo x1
My daughter pulled this out to play but her brothers were too busy to join us. With just the two of us this game isn't the best, and I was able to edge her out in a win without really trying. She was slightly disappointed not to win, then declared we were both winners for getting our horses to the finish line.

_5_ Wise and Otherwise x1
My wife and extended family played on Christmas. Scores were recorded at the time but weren't kept, but think my wife won. Playing this always results in a lot of laughs and fits the same general space as Dixit.

_8_ Ascending Empires x1 new!
Taught this to my sons and some of our wacky ship-destroying shots had us cracking up. I ended up winning by 35 to my youngest son's 26 and my oldest son's 17. Looking forward to playing this again!


_7_ Keyflower x1
Taught Keyflower to Amos and Gina with help from my youngest son. Amusingly, I blocked him from a tile he needed in winter, as I thougt he was playing a strong game but (we both?) miscaluclated:
Jon 62
Amos 51
Gina 44
Youngest Son 26

_8_ Caylus x1
After Keyflower, my youngest son changed placed with his older brother, who joined Amos, Gina and I for Caylus. It had been some time since we played and it was good to get this to the table.
Amos 80
Gina 72
Jon 69
Oldest Son 52

_5_ Giro Galoppo x1
Finally, after Keyflower and Caylus, my daughter asked us to play this, and Amos and Gina learned a third game for the day. After my daughter led for most of the game, Amos pulled in the lead in the end to win, with my daughter second, an myself and Gina slightly behind.


_8_ Key Market x1 new!
On New Year's Eve day I got another new game played and I liked it just a bit better than Ascending Empires, so this makes my game of the week. My youngest son and I were very close, with my score a bit higher: 119 to his 117; meanwhile, my wife scored 95 and my oldest son 67. I need to look over some things ot make sure we didn't mess up any rules but overall I think we did pretty well and I'm hoping this will get a lot of plays for this new year!


For 2013, I've decided that I'm going to TRACK my plays a little more closely, looking at the following five categories:

26 - Tabled: Games owned but not yet played.
00 - Removed: Games that have left the collection.
00 - Acquired: Games that are new to the collection.
00 - Cultish: Games played that qualify for Cult of the New status.
00 - Kudos: Games played thtat qualify for Kudos status.

Since this is the beginning of this chart, everything is set to zero except my unplayed games.
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6. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:138]
Board Game: Suburbia
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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We always have time for the things we put first.
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We just got done with our first play of Suburbia. The rulebook is short and sweet. Definitely easy enough to set up and teach during a game night. The tiles are a nice thickness, the colors are pleasing, and there are helpful aids, both in a guide for each player, and little hints built into the board (where your income and reputation markers start, how many tiles you use for different numbers of players, etc). The start player marker is delightfully over the top, a painted wooden rectangle that gets stickers on two sides.

One of the things I noticed in researching the game, and saw even more in playing through it, is how the designer took care to have the tile placement be thematic. You don't want a factory next to the suburbs or a park. You don't want an airport in the center of town. You want a gas station and a school next to residential areas.

I foresee lots of replayability. Only about half of the tiles, and only a few bonus tiles, are used during a game.

There's not much in the way of direct conflict. You can take or bury a tile you think your opponent wants, and you can benefit from tiles that your opponent builds, but you can't directly destroy anything on your opponent's board.

Has a bit of a Glen More feel to it, choosing tiles and watching what's adjacent to what, but it's also about money and population and not just tile placement.

I had bonuses for building next to lakes, plus my secret bonus was building the most connected lakes, so I went with a lake theme, and ended up with a lot of money at the end. I was also going for airports, and wanted another one, except Sam got wise to me and buried the last one.

Sam got unlucky in that he invested early in something that would benefit him when anyone built a restaurant, and no restaurants came out. Despite me winning by a sizable margin, Sam said he likes it, and I can see us playing again soon.
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7. Board Game: Letters from Whitechapel [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:247]
From gallery of Dormammu
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

_9_ Magic: The Gathering 3
_8_ Letters from Whitechapel 1
_8_ Ra 1
_7_ Archipelago 1 New!
_7_ Pax Porfiriana 1
_7_ The Castles of Burgundy 1
_7_ Shadow Hunters 3
_7_ Escape: The Curse of the Temple 3
_7_ Blokus 1
_6_ DC Comics Deck-Building Game 3
_6_ Love Letter 1 New!
_5_ Biblios 1

Week in Review

For the sake of the few who know what it means, this week I constructed my first draft of a Magic cube. It has been quite exciting and I got to give it a test run this weekend. It went pretty well and I'm looking forward to tweaking it. It's based on cards I have, which is basically Zendikar forward (I'm not using my super-old Magic cards - the balance is too wonky). This is a project that is very fun and engaging for me right now.

I got my second play of Letters From Whitechapel, almost 16 months after the first time. This session benefitted from the experience gained playing Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. Meg schooled us with her wily play as Jack the Ripper and declared she will play again any time. It was great fun and I'm excited I held onto this game until the time was ripe.

Archipelago was a confusing and intriguing game. It took a long time and ended in the third round, which seemed quite early, based on resource piles running dry. We built little, felt aware that we were not manipulating the economy correctly and the rebel sympathizer was frustrated at the lack of opportunity to influence the game state for said goal. I'd like to try again to see how much more can be wrangled out of the system. I quite like Christophe Boelinger, though Dungeon Twister didn't capivate me. This game feels worth exploring.

I taught Pax Porfiriana to three new players and the four-player game was a little long and sluggish. I'm still quite disappointed in the feel of the end game. It seems to arrive suddenly and yet without impact. There is no drama to the ending. Someone plays a card and buys a topple and we confirm the math. It's too out of nowhere. I'm hoping we can improve that sense of pacing with further play.

Love Letter was a single play and it was cute but not inspiring. I would definitely play it more to see if it grows on me as I learn about the character interactions. Biblios isn't much fun for me, sadly. I can't seem to see the matrix and it feels random (even though I'm aware it isn't).
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8. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:529]
Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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Penny Arcade: The Game - Gamers vs. Evil (74)
Ascension + Expansions (64)
Escape: The Curse of the Temple (8)
Can't Stop (3)
San Juan (3)
Seasons (2)

---

This was another mostly iOS week with the exception of boxing day.

On boxing day, I played Escape for the first time. Escape is a frantic real-time game experience. Another example of this type of game is Space Alert. There are big differences between these two games however. The biggest difference is how much easier Escape is to teach players than SA. Escape also plays faster than SA. SA is mainly driven by cards whereas Escape is driven by dice rolling. I think there is a lot more variation from game-to-game in SA but Escape is easier to teach and faster to play, so it's going to hit the table a whole lot more. Escape also seems to have better experiences in how well it plays within the listed player range than Space Alert (ie I think Escape is good with any number of people whereas SA is probably 4 or 5 player only.) The bottom line is: if you've never played a frantic real-time game you should play/buy Escape and see how you like it. If you like it and you think you can get a dedicated group to play the more complex Space Alert regularly, you'll probably want to give that one a try. I could see owning both in a collection.

Ascension was played a fair bit on iOS, but my friend and I played a few games of my highlander cube. It was fun as usual. Well, 2/3 games were close and intense but the 3rd was a blow out and a little dull. While I've played a bunch of Ascension on iOS, there was something else that dominated even more...

A new deck building game on iOS by the makers of Playdek? Sign me up! No, not Nightfall (blah)... Penny Arcade: Gamers vs Evil. I picked this one up and it saw a lot of play time. How to describe it?

---

Penny Arcade is basically a hybrid between Dominion and Ascension, that or someone wanted to try and make Ascension more like Dominion.

If you're familiar with Ascension, I'll explain it that way (as I like Ascension and am not overly impressed with Dominion): Penny Arcade takes the 2 types of resources from Ascension (money/attack) and makes cards require one of these resources like Ascension. Unlike Ascension, each unique card has a set of 9 copies. Each game you'll randomly choose 14 sets of unique cards and place them in Dominion-esque piles. It doesn't have to be an equal distribution of 7 power sets and 7 money sets. It's similar to Ascension, in that there are no limits of card acquisition/playing of cards. Unlike Ascension, cards that you beat using attack, are acquired to your deck and not placed in a discard pile. These cards function similar to the money cards but are worth VP, often give +attack, and can be interactive like the Dominion 'Attack' Cards.

The game can end by depleting 6 piles of card sets. Unlike Ascension, there are also cards that are the equivalent of Dominion's curses which counts as a stack (despite being more than 9 cards). The game can also end by completely defeating a boss. Each game you will use a random boss that can be beaten by attack and another which can be beaten by money. You need to acquire the cards from the piles to be able to beat them. When you beat them, you gain a random loot card which are better than the cards you can get from the piles. After they have been beaten so many times, they will 'level up' and become harder to beat. After you beat them again a few times, they will level up a final time. If they are beaten again, the game will end that round. I think the boss cards are similar to the high cost cards that are available in Ascension except they're always available to be acquired. Once people start acquiring them, the game quickly spirals to it's end.

The only thing this game really does different, other than mashing the Dominion/Ascension games together is that each player has a unique personality that will give him a special benefit throughout the game (ie +1 money, or a unique card in their starting deck) and has their own starting deck with a different distribution between basic attack and money cards.

This is a decent game. I personally find it most enjoyable deckbuilding game that uses randomized piles of cards. That said, I've only played this game on iOS, which alleviates the annoyance of randomizing piles and placing them out. I may have liked Dominion better if I had played it digitally. While I enjoy Penny Arcade, I don't think it's as good as Ascension. This is especially true if I were to play PA in the physical version.

Edit: Please note that you should mute the music and sound effects on this game. They're pretty atrocious.

---

I played more Can't Stop on iOS and it really bothers me that the start player isn't randomized as being start player can be a huge benefit. I also played more San Juan and it was ok, but I find it so much slower than Can't Stop, Ascension and Penny Arcade. I don't necessarily mind if a game is longer but I'm just not having nearly as much fun with San Juan.

Played a few physical games of Seasons and I enjoyed myself. My opponent didn't seem to happy. I think the first game had to do with me re-explaining that you can activate a card once per turn when I meant that each card can be activated once per turn. The second game also had a rules niggle in that he didn't like how Onys breaks the summoning gauge rules since he passes and is not summoned back and forth. My vast amount of experience over my opponent meant a fairly large disparity in the scores.

---

In Other News...

I don't really have much of anything planned for this week but I'm sure I'll get in some iOS gaming and maybe some other games here and there. I'd actually really like to get together with the lighter games group to play Escape with more than 2 people. I think that would be a great fun time. Speaking of Escape, I traded Uchronia Promo Cards for Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Queenie 1: The Pit. I think the both promo sets for Escape will be available through the BGG store in January but by making this trade I hope to recieve that one faster!

I had two HUGE expenditures this week after a notably sour day the day after boxing day. The first was picking up the complete Blue Moon set. Well, i don't think it has all the promos, but it's the base set and all of the expansions. Beyond it being expensive, shelling out for the proper sleeves will also be expensive. I just hope I still consider it a good experience. It's been a long time since I've played Blue Moon and it was in my hay days of getting into the hobby. I'll have to put some faith in Dr. Knizia.

I think I have complained multiple times in the past about the look of plastic in board games when it's unpainted. Yes, I consider it hideous. In fact I now only own two games with unpainted plastic: Ghost Stories and Battlestar Galactica. In further effort to make myself feel better, I decided to commission someone to paint both the miniatures of both games and their expansions. I don't feel so bad about it as both of these games have easily withstood the test of time. Well, I don't play Ghost Stories a lot anymore but it's not because of dislike but perhaps I'll try to make more of a effort this year once it's painted.

The heavy games group will all be back in town as of Saturday coming, so hopefully after the 5th, I'll be back on track for more gaming!
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9. Board Game: The Hobbit: The Defeat of Smaug [Average Rating:4.83 Overall Rank:19455]
Board Game: The Hobbit: The Defeat of Smaug
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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This is the week that was:
The Hobbit 3 New to me!
Astra Titanus 1 New to me!
Dixit 1
Go Fish 1
Hogwarts: House Cup Challenge 1 New to me!
Levée en Masse 1
Paris Connection 1 New to me!
Scrabble 1
Ticket to Ride: Europe 1
Unpublished Prototype 1 Invented by me!

As I mentioned last week, the interregnum between Xmas and New Year's is a relatively quiet one for gaming, and yet I did get some good gaming in. Almost all games this week were solo, with my daughter, with my wife, or with both!

We had a lovely quiet Christmas day, and had some good friends of ours over for dinner - the selfsame ones who had us over on Xmas eve for their tourtiere party. After dinner my daughter wanted to play some games so we played Dixit, without scoring which is in some ways more fun than with the scoring, and then Go Fish because it was bedtime and we got the "just one more game" plea from the little one.

The Hobbit is new to me, and as a kids game it's quite delightful. My daughter thinks it's great fun, and she seems to have a real knack for it, having won every time we've played. The fact this was a thrift store find for $6 makes it even sweeter. Definitely got my money's worth from this one!

Astra Titanus gets the honour of being the first Santa Grogs/Gelato game I've played (but not the first I've read the rules for). I quite enjoyed it and think it would make a fantastic iPad game.

Paris Connection was great. Short and sweet with lots of really interesting decision points.

The Hogwart's House Cup Challenge is an interesting game. Every time you score VP, Gryffindor gets the points too, and the end game trigger is the VP marker hitting 500 points, at which point whoever is in the lead is the winner. It has a slightly Talismanesque feel to it in that you keep having to improve your three stats and can do that in various ways, but you can also cooperate with your fellow players or occasionally throw them under the bus. Could be raucous fun with the right crowd.

I've been rethinking the game my daughter and I designed together and the design bug has clearly bitten me. Time to get my CC:E battle pack ideas into a more concrete form!

Santa Claus brought the family an iPad to share and my wife and I have already played TTR on it (the Europe version), and I've played several solo games of Dominant Species. That's also where the play of Levée en Masse comes from. I don't as a rule log electronic plays of games (e.g. I did not and would not log the plays of DS), but I do log plays of pass-and-play with no AI editions of standard board games, such as TTR.

pbem: 2 games of HIS on the go. 1 game of 1989. My ACTS ladder game of TS ended in ignominious defeat. I owe Jon a move in our UKC game. I'll be home on New Year's Day to get some of those things under control!
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10. Board Game: Nonesuch [Average Rating:6.71 Unranked]
Board Game: Decktet
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Plato 3000 x 1

My goal is to try to, at some point, make the score close before losing to my wife. Mission accomplished.

Ginkgopolis x 1


Another 2-player game with my wife. She won 86-80. My score has gotten lower with each subsequent play. That can't keep happening, right?

I played it with my neighbor, who also liked it, so I think it may be able to see at least a few 3+ player games. As I've said before, I like it but I don't think I'll ever love it. It lacks that intangible something. Heart? Soul? Respiratory system?

Love Letter x 2


2-player games on separate days. One neighbor liked it quite a bit, the other didn't. I think it will be exclusively a 4-player game for me.

Hey That's My Fish! x 1

My buddy Carl ruined me at this game 54-40. My penguin-killing is a little rusty.

Magnate x 1

Taught this one to Carl, it went over well as always.

Automobile x 1

3-player game of this new-to-me game. I liked it a lot and hope to play it again with 4 or 5 players. There is a lot of tension with the game, and I think the "Only 12 actions over the course of the game" thing is a bit overblown. There's a lot to consider.

Nonesuch x 2

Really cool trick-taking game played with the Decktet. I was glad to learn this one and hope to be able to play it more in the future; it seems like a game I could teach to muggles.

Memory (My Little Pony Edition) x 2

We got this for Avery for Christmas, and she won both games against me. Made her really happy.

Animal Upon Animal - Here We Turn! x 1

Daughter likes this one, so we played it.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective x 1

Wife and I tried out this one (the new Ystari reprint). Not my kind of game. Despite my love of the theme, it's more of an activity than a game. It's sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure. You're given info about a crime and a map of London. You also get a directory of businesses and people, and each turn you choose a location to visit and look it up in the book. The book tells you what you find/hear, and when you think you're ready you look at the questions and answer them as best you can. You lose points for taking more turns and are scored against Sherlock Holmes at the end.

For me, trying to sort out what's important and what's not and keeping it all straight in my head, plus the open-ended nature of play really made it all NOT work out for me. After about 40 minutes or so I just felt lost and stupid, and wanted it to be over. Kat liked it. I'd be willing to try it again (this time in an environment free of noise and distractions).

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11. Board Game: Extrablatt [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:4314]
Board Game: Extrablatt
Kurt R
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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_9.5_ Hanabi 3
_9_ Caylus 1
_8_ Extra! Extra! blatt blatt blatt 1
_8_ Thurn & Taxis 1
_4 _ Dominion 1

Hanabi and Dominion on Christmas with niece, nephew, and brother-in-law. They're a very competitive family and have a strong dislike for cooperative games (they didn't like Pandemic I got them years ago), so I don't know why I decided to make them try Hanabi, but it went over just fine. We even scored 20 points. Dominion was incredibly dull for me, mostly because what little experience I have with the game is with those same starting cards, so my decisions were all of 10 seconds but then I had to help everyone else with their turns. Not a game I'll ever return to except for situations like this. Still, it was nice to get some gaming in after dinner.

I need to play Caylus more. I'd won the previous game but was flailing around here. The bottom favor track (buildings) seems like the way to go, but maybe I haven't played enough to realize you can avoid it and do something else. I'm smitten with the game right now and could play a lot more.

Extrablatt is a grail game I finally got a copy from Germany this fall, and it turned out to be unpunched (from 1991!) and in pristine condition. I spent 40 minutes using an exacto knife to punch the game pieces (with only a few mistakes) while watching my friend play Silent Hill 2, and I'm very happy to report that we all loved the game. Quite a balanced design, in fact, we ended up with the improbable scores of 420-400-400-400 (too balanced?).

You're competing for best articles and filling in your newspaper, and there's nasty interaction where you either place a duck on someone's article (It nukes the article. German joke?) or place an advertisement for a male or female escort in their paper to take up precious space. Thing is, when you attempt to mess with someone, it could backfire such that they end up doing it to you. The balance is that you trade checks you use to bid, so even if you lose, you'll be stronger for the next confrontation. It's very strategic and fun, and I expect us to play this one a good bit.

To that end, I spent some time customizing my copy. The article headlines that come with the game are super lame puns in German. Even with translation handy, we knew we were missing out on a big element of the game, so I made new headlines from The Onion and printed and cut them. There are 12 picture pieces you can play in the game, so I printed 12 new pictures too (that go with some of the headlines).

I printed all of this on card stock which I hope will hold up to repeated play. If not, I can print to paper, cut, and glue to the original pieces, but I wanted to try the easy way first. The Onion is my kind of humor. If anyone reading this wants a copy of my set, let me know via gm. Fair warning, The Onion is not PC.

Update from last night: Two games of Hanabi and one of Thurn & Thaxis. I still enjoy T&T and hope to get my group playing it more.
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12. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:208]
Board Game: Space Alert
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Games Played:
.10! Space Alert (x 2)
_7_ I'm the Boss!
_6_ Qin
_6_ PIX
_5_ Aztlán New!
_5_ Love Letter
_5_ Two Rooms and a Boom (x 4) New!


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13. Board Game: Key Market [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:1881]
Board Game: Key Market
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 52:
9x Innovation
1x Key Market
1x Puerto Rico w/ Expansion
1x Troyes

Game of Choice:
Perhaps it should have been a different game but playing this beauty again reminded me why I love it and want to explore it further. It has simple, yet elegant rules and plays in 75 minutes for us.

We did make a minor mistake (buying more than 2) as I used the market to great effect and recorded another win. It will hit the table more this year than last.

The Week in Review:
Christmas is celebrated on December 24th in Denmark. On the 25th it was just V. and I and we had a lot of games planned. In the end we managed "only" Key Market and Troyes. The latter was once more a fun experience and joins the list of games I hope to play more often. V. has some objections to it but I will try to have her talk about those because we both seem to enjoy it when we play.

The rest of the week was in the name of Innovation. We got the 9 plays in that meant we reached our target of 104 plays (total 125 - I am coming for you Bryan!) for the year. In 2013 we are perhaps going to slow down but I hope not. I think we will strive to have a weekly Innovation night.

On the Sunday we added a game of Puerto Rico to the mix. It was tense and tight. Another one... repeating myself here it seems... We played with the 2 player variant (not the official) and mixed all tiles together and drew 12+4. V. worked the forests and the town, I worked the plantations and sent all kinds of goods back home for a narrow win.

The Week Ahead:
Well, we have already recorded 7 games (one our last of 2012). Tomorrow school is back in session for V. and the kids. Over the weekend we have games planned for Saturday and a movie with my parents treating V. and I on Sunday - Life of Pi.

I will be wrapping up my list on 2012: Our New Year Gaming Resolutions! and adding a new for 2013. One of our targets will be to explore Kingdom Builder and hitting 100 plays - I hope to settle on a format to detail the journey, though not sure yet how but I have joined in The 100 Play Challenge: In Support of Deeper Exploration of Games (Update: Now with GeekGold!) with my entry here.
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14. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:15]
Board Game: Terra Mystica
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 31Dec2012:

11/25/395 plays of 11/20/197 total games, with 3/3/33 expansions employed.
Plays with 17/28/113 distinct opponents.

1/1/28 games acquired (plus 0/1/22 expansions.) - I was given Doctor Who: The Card Game for Christmas - and managed to play it a couple days later.

Wednesday night:
1x _9_ Terra Mystica - Lovely game. Our one new player did very well (well, at least compared to my first couple games) and I'm gradually getting the hang of things. This time - and it's a new experience, so I'm still enjoying it - I had some feeling as to what I might have done differently to score a bit better. So I've hope for further improvement.
1x _7.3_ The Bridges of Shangri-La - Short and more subtle than I'd remembered. Both of my colleagues managed some lovely unexpected-in-the-moment (though I totally should have seen a couple of them coming, had I been remotely competent) plays. I really enjoyed the experience.

Thursday with lovely wife and daughter #1:
1x _6_ Doctor Who: The Card Game New! - I was surprised how well the Doctor Who conceit informed the constraints of play. The take-that thing isn't something I like - but I'm always happy to play something with family.

Friday at Aliza's house:
1x _7.3_ CO₂ New! - Only a partial play, in that (failure that I am) I bailed on the group after 4.5 hours of play (I was expected home for dinner, and had a hard constraint on time.) Again here, I found the theme quite charming. The game decisions appeared interesting, too. But as I'd whined on the new to me list, I also found several of the choices the game made regarding procedure and memory trivially tedious, which detracted from the experience. The speed at which we were playing wasn't ideal either, but some of that was provoked by the game itself.
1x _7_ Morels New! - It's very cute. I like the theme; the gameplay is nice. It seemed harmless and fun. But I didn't get either of the "Oh, I must have a copy" or "I need to play this more" impulse as a result.

Later Friday after I got home:
1x _7.3_ Spot it! - Totally trivial; but it amused the other participants (including my lovely wife) so that's a win.

At BAP last Saturday:
1x _8_ Outpost - I came a distant 3rd in this one. I fear that my right-hand neighbour and I overconstrained one another (and I equally failed to constrain my left-hand neighbour.) I find the game charmingly pleasant, still: I have enough clarity after the game is complete to see places where alternative decisions might have been preferable.
1x _10_ Race for the Galaxy (with all three expansions) - Still one of my absolute favourites, even if it's a filler, rather than a Main Gaming Event. I had jumped out to an early lead in this one, but proved to be unable to maintain the rush. A fortuitous draw might have saved me; but the likelihoods weren't in my favour. I was surprised to see that this was my #1 game by number of plays this year - even though I'm dramatically down in count against the previous several years.
1x _8.5_ The Great Zimbabwe - This was a lovely cool play. I did rather poorly, but really enjoyed the game dynamism. While I'm not completely certain, I think a slightly different set of final-turn bids might have dramatically changed the outcome: and that's not for a moment to imply that the buildup to that point was irrelevant or inconclusive - it absolutely wasn't - but there was a cool convergence of agendas that could easily have conspired to tip things in a couple different ways.

Yesterday before midnight:
1x _8_ Ubongo 3-D - We played the non-game version: "Here's a puzzle; try to solve it." Lovely daughter #1 was able to complete five or six different puzzles in the time that our guests took to do one (so it wouldn't have remotely worked as a game) but the puzzles were enjoyed.
1x _7_ Timeline: Inventions - While a couple of the cards perplex me (it's a question of definition - the game chooses the 18th century Diderot and D'Alembert Encyclopédie as the "First Encyclopaedia" - while you might remember that weird quote I'd provided in my first Phoenix list as a quote from a 15th century English translation of a 13th century Encyclopaedia (Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum Maius). I would have been much happier if they'd gone with Pliny's 1st century Naturalis Historia!) the game play is surprisingly amusing - admittedly with the right players. My two opponents in this instance were amused by the things they were required to locate in time. It worked well.

Owned-and-unplayed: 17 (+1/-1)

Outlook for the week-and-a-bit: I'm back on call this week, so my gaming may be a bit constrained. Hopefully, I'll convince my youngsters to play something, will manage a game Wednesday night (another shot at Terra Mystica wouldn't surprise me at all!) and will get a play Friday Lunch at work. I probably won't see quite as many movies this week as last, though.
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15. Board Game: Trick of the Rails [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:2671]
Board Game: Trick of the Rails
Ben Draper
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Catching up on the previous two weeks...

Games played

Monday, December 17 w/ BGG-ers @ West Side Seattle Gamers
_ 4 _Plethora New!
_ 6 _Saint Petersburg

Thursday, December 20 w/ some guys I just met @ Cafe Mox
_ 6 _Dominion
_ 8 _Keyflower

Friday, December 21 w/ Garret, Kim, and Liz @ Cafe Mox
_ 4 _Cards Against Humanity
_ 8 _German Railways

Sunday, December 23 w/ a whole mess of friends @ my parents' house
_10_Chicago Express
_ 6 _Horse Fever New!
_ 6 _Mai-Star

Monday, December 24 w/ my mother, brother, and father @ my parents' house
_ 6 _Love Letter New!

Tuesday, December 25 w/ family @ my parents' house
_ 8 _Trick of the Rails (x3) New!
_ 6 _Trains (x2) New!
_ 6 _Love Letter
_ 6 _String Railway: Transport New!

Wednesday, December 26 w/ Clayton and Mark @ Mark's house
_ 6 _Love Letter
_10_Magic: The Gathering (x2)

Thursday, December 27 w/ a whole mess of friends @ my parents' house
_ 8 _Trick of the Rails (x2)
_ 8 _Keyflower
_ 6 _String Railway: Transport

Friday, December 28 w/ a whole mess of friends @ my parents' house
_ 8 _Trick of the Rails
_10_Chicago Express
_10_The Resistance (x3)

Saturday, December 29 w/ a whole mess of friends @ Joe's house
_10_The Resistance (x3)
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16. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:68]
Board Game: El Grande
Judit Szepessy
Canada
London
Canada
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Scrabble x3
Libertalia x3
El Grande x1
Samurai x 1

We played Scrabble with three different couples, in all the three games I enjoyed the company more than the game, as usual, but in the last game, today, I did quite well.

Libertalia
is not as bad as I described it last week under my entry, but I certainly feel the game is too long for what it has to offer. I continue to enjoy the role selection element, the interaction between the card abilities and the opportunity to interact with other players, to put it mildly. I also like how you try to guess what other players will put down in the next day. The mechanics are quite repetitive. I am afraid it will take a while till we take the game out again.

El Grande: we played it with the family, and it was as fun as ever, good old El Grande. There was quite a lot of commotion and screwage around my caballeros and home region, but I could still secure a solid win.

Samurai: seems to be good with all player account, and I like the interesting the scoring. Quick play time and tense decisions. Lots of potential in that game, it was a very solid purchase.
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17. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:64]
Board Game: Caylus
Christopher Rao
United States
Seattle
WA
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Caylus x 3 - Really nice to play this again, after so much time. Really need to play it more.

The Great Zimbabwe - Keep trying to play this game, but it's definitely not a hit with my gaming group The game has a fair amount of design elegance, but the last turn or two seem to be unfailingly fiddly, and I don't know how to fix it....

1830: Railways & Robber Barons - Ah, my love. Yet another fun game, yet another game losing to my buddy Stephen. (I got 2nd out of 4 )

Friedrich - Some really neat mechanics here, and I love the combat system, but I'm really iffy about the whole "Russia is suddenly out of the game now. You get Sweden instead." Very very odd random element, historical or not, for a longish game. I'm curious to hear from someone who likes this game and doesn't mind this random element.

Lancaster - Boy do I love this game. Possibly my favorite Euro in the last 2-3 years. It flows nicely, and is tense throughout. We generally play with squires being public because it's trackable anyway. I think it makes the game better.

Happy new year!
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18. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:347]
Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_7_ The Great Zimbabwe x4 New to Me!
_8_ CO2 x2
_7_ Peloponnes x2 New to Me!
_5_ Ascension: Immortal Heroes x1 New to Me!


Board Game: Ascension: Immortal Heroes
The Week in Review

Christmas Day, S and I played our first game of Ascension: Immortal Heroes and neither of us was impressed by the new "Soul Gem" card type. These cards introduce more randomness in what is already a very random card game. Unlike having to draw a card from your own deck (so you have some control over what it is by what you put into your deck), when you draw a soul gem card, you draw from their special deck over which you have absolutely no control. Stupid.
Board Game: CO₂

Flanking our disappointing play of Ascension: Immortal Heroes, we played two of CO₂ - including a three-player affair. But S is just not feeling the love for this game so I've decided to shelve it for a bit.

In its place, we broke out The Great Zimbabwe and, in all, S and I got four plays out of it this week. The Great Zimbabwe plays fast with two and although it's quite abstract with it's pasted on Zimbabwe tribes and Zimbabwe gods, I enjoy it quite a bit. It's like a Splotter that's been stripped down to the bare bones; I guess that's really what it is.
Board Game: Peloponnes

The week ended with two plays of Peloponnes. The first was rather flat, but the second was much improved. Although I'm convinced the auction mechanic would be better with more players, the two-player game is of short enough length that even with the few decisions to be made, it has enough there for the amount of time it's on the table.


The Week Ahead

First Train to Nuremberg is still in shrink. I'd like to get it out, but I'm sensitive to S being a bit burned out on learning new rules. We'll see how it goes...he says, checking the online shops for copies of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar.
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