GCL Meatball Division - Video Game Geekery
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Welcome to the Swedish Meatballs' weekly list. We're one of the divisions of BGG's GameChat League. Only members should add items (please add your weekly games played), but civil comments from nonmembers are welcome. This is appearing on VGG mainly because I can't figure out how to add video games to the list without doing so, but I apologize for yet more BGG content spilling over into VGG territory. At least it's about video games! I think I unfrontpaged it, so that should keep it mostly quiet, anyway.

ROTATION:
ldsdbomber - Our leerless feeder (well, feeder, anyway) is next in line! I look forward to extensive rumination.
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Osirus

***

This week on Meatball Chat: Video Games! I know, I know, this is Board Game Geek, not Video Game Geek. But having recently heard from a few of you when I was VGGotw, it occurred to me that while we have talked a lot about board games, we have not talked much about video games.

Well, that stops now.
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1. Video Game: Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:4093] [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
Video Game: Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil
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I'm not saying you're not evil. But I'm asking:

*Are you a video gamer?
Do you play video games these days, and how much?
Did you previously play, and when did you start and/or stop?
What types of games do you play?
Solo, multi-player, turn-based, real-time, ports of board games, RPGs?
Console, iPhone, computer, minesweeper, online sudoku?
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2. Video Game: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1232]
Video Game: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game
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*What video game communities are you a part of?
Maybe none whatsoever?
Are you on VGG? Steam? VGG Steam Guild?
Do you read video game news?
Do you attend conventions that have video game sections?
Do you have regular gaming with friends?
Are you part of a guild or clan online?
Do you play any MMOs?
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3. Video Game: We ♥ Katamari [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:201]
Video Game: We ♥ Katamari
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*What do you love about video games?
Feel free to list anything from specific nuances in specific games, to broad generalizations about video games as a whole.
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4. Video Game: Analogue: A Hate Story [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:2323]
Video Game: Analogue: A Hate Story
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*What do you hate about video games?
Naturally, those of us who play have various things we dislike about them, both specific games and as a whole, which I hope you will all feel free to list.
But I know that some people who do not play do not just ignore video games, but actively revile them. Here's your chance to explain why.
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5. Video Game: BOARD GAME: Top Shop [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:3722]
Video Game: BOARD GAME: Top Shop
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*More and more board games are being released as video games. Thoughts?
This is happening, like it or not. So, like it, or not?
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6. Video Game: Best of the Best: Championship Karate [Average Rating:5.05 Unranked]
Video Game: Best of the Best: Championship Karate
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*What games are best?

What's the best classic game, and why should people try it?
What's the best game you've played recently, and why should we play it too?
What games do you consider easily "best in class"?
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7. Video Game: Jet Grind Radio [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:685]
Video Game: Jet Grind Radio
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*What, if anything, would interest you in listening to a podcast about video games?

Some of my friends over at VGG have been discussing starting a community podcast, and wondered what would draw interest from people who are not members of the VGG community. As fun, intelligent, thoughtful, polite, good-looking, morally virtuous, basically perfect individuals, I figure you Meatballs are exactly the type of expanded audience that they should be trying to attract. So thought I would ask all you Meatballs, what would it take to interest you in a VGG community podcast? And conversely, what would instantly turn you away forever?
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8. Board Game: Pop-Up Store Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Pop-Up Store Game
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BONUS QUESTION:

Sorry to butt in on you Seth, but I have a question that I asked on a general forum and got an anemic response due to a confusing poll question....so I thought I'd ask the folks here.

Now that I'm going to a Local Gamestore for my primary gaming...I'm now having to figure out how much I should spend there. I'm just curious how much you spend at local gamestores?

At first I was asking people about how much they purchased at their FLGS as a percentage of their game purchases which I think confused the hell out of everyone.

But the last response had a pretty resonable metric -- the guy bought about one game a month there....which seems like a reasonable "rent" for going there every Saturday evening....any thoughts?
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9. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Märklin [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:300] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Märklin
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So this week, aside from Plants versus Zombies, I did get to play a few games at the gamestore. Nothing too exciting - Container, Tichu, and Ticket to Ride Marklin.

Container went quite well. I went with a primarily shipping strategy with a minimal production push at the end to time out the game. I made a couple mistakes during the play (a couple stingy bids that I should have gone higher, and a crucial shipyard purchase where I did not take the right colors) so I didn't FEEL like I was doing that well, but the score was ended up around 150-100-90-60 or so. Its good to know that as someone who had experience (of the four players, it was 10 plays vs 1 vs 0 vs 0) you can beat the daylights out of the weaker opposition. That said everyone, even the low guy who unfortunately was kind of boned at the end of the game and had to pass actions while treading water, seemed to enjoy the play and hopefully I'll get them to play again.

Tichu and Marklin was with some other guys. One of whom is BRAND NEW to gaming. I got acquainted with him last week when he joined me and my GF for a 3P game of Kingdom Builder -- it was his very first visit to ANY gamenight and I was sure he was never coming back...not so much do to me and my GF but because his previous game was a game of Settlers Cities and Knights and he seemed a little shellshocked. In any case I was very pleased he came back this week...and most likely it was a good thing that he was a few minutes late so he did not get dragged into Container (he ended up playing 7 wonders instead). It turns out he got turned onto boardgames through Will Wheaton's videocast show....so I guess its doing something.

Apparrently he liked me well enough so when I called out "Tichu" he joined in as the 4th. Its weird to sit through another teach of Tichu...I'm at a certain snob level now where i generally avoid teaching games of Tichu, but since I liked the dude I thought, well why not! The other experienced guy at the table dealt out the cards, lows versus highs so it was me and the other guy versus him and a preteen. The preteen is no slouch as a gamer (he ended up winning Marklin and did very well in Black Friday last week) but they didn't have a chance.

As for TtR Marklin. First thought. The cards are fucking beautiful. I need to contact Days of Wonder and see if there is anyway to purchase just the deck. Second thought. The addition to the game is not awful -- it does not noticeably detract from the game...aside from the fiddlier start. At least it wasn't TtR Europe where all the changes were for the worse. Even though I am always harping about clean streamlined game design, its funny how it took plays of these variants to realize the streamlined beauty of the original. At some point I'll try the Asia partnership variant, but it will be grudgingly because I honestly just don't see any reason to play anything other than America. I suspect that no matter how simple the rules changes may be, the addition will most likely mar the game design than enhance it.

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10. Board Game: Dominoes [Average Rating:5.47 Overall Rank:19004]
Board Game: Dominoes
p55carroll
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Games played last week (I feel better about this since it's a video-game GeekList; most of these are smartphone games):

Dominoes (Android app + PC game)
Backgammon (Android app + Jellyfish Light on PC)
Checkers (Android app)
Gin Rummy (Android app)
Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 (Android app)
Levée en Masse: The Wars of the French Revolution (Android app)
Mille Bornes (Android app called "Safe Trip or Not?")
Civilization V (PC game)
Shot and Shell: Naval Combat in the Civil War (board wargame)

Played many games of Dominoes and Backgammon, as those are my go-to lunchtime and break-time games. They have the right mix of chance and thinking for the mood I'm usually in.

Been playing Checkers at level 7 on my AI Factory app. I lose at least as often as I win on that level. But I play too fast; I need to slow down and think my moves through.

Getting used to some new armies in Neuroshima Hex. Sadly, the AI makes some obvious mistakes even on "hard" level. Still beats me often enough, though.

Managed to win a Civ V game on "immortal" level (the highest). It surprised me. I usually suck at Civ. The only other version of Civ I've won on the highest level is Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (DS).

Just set up an The Ironclads: A Tactical Level Game of Naval Combat in the American Civil War 1861-1865 scenario using the Shot & Shell rules. It's still on the table, and I've been rereading the rules before I start. A Confederate ironclad, the Arkansas, is disabled, and two Union ships are moving upriver past shore batteries in an attempt to destroy the stranded vessel. I'm thinking the Union ironclad, the Essex, will withstand shore-battery fire OK; not so sure about the Queen of the West, which is a wooden ship. But she's fitted with a powerful ram, so if she gets close enough, she might be the one to sink the Arkansas.
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11. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:119]
Board Game: Chaos in the Old World
Just a game of Chaos in the Old World with the Horned Rat from the expansion (I was the Rat).

Playing the game, I was struck by how much I enjoyed the cleverness of the things I could do (also there's more cleverness in the expansion than the base game, where the tools are pretty blunt). All the special effects were a nice break from the more straightforward Euros I've been playing recently.

The variance of the dice still irritate me though. I was pretty annoyed because a 1/72 chance (3 hits on 1 die) on the last turn cost me the game, but I had been going easy throughout (not counting etc, like I used to), and there were a few other places I could have picked up the 4VP. So I played well, but not as competitively as I could have.
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12. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:534]
Board Game: Kingdom Builder
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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Monday, at home:
Lord of The Rings 2x – he still loves it and it’s his most demanded title at home.

Thursday, visiting a gaming club:

Ticket to Ride: Europe – yes… There were only gamers there, we were five, we could not agree on what to play and finally we played TtR. Well, the game was tense as always and the scores were surprisingly close – I won with 123 points and the player who came last had 113 points. It was a pleasant experience but I missed playing something meatier in a gaming club with gamers.

Saturday, at home:
Morning plays with my son, while the girls went shopping:
Lord of The Rings – of course
Kamisado – we play a variant suggested by the kid: the first to have 4 pieces at the enemy’s base line wins (this makes the game a lot more chaotic but that’s not a problem with a 4-and-half-year-old).
Abandon Ship – this time with the correct rules (the rulebook is written poorly, this was the reason why I didn’t play this game so long, and now I learned we played it wrong the week before: you always have to reroll in the beginning of your turn…)

My parents visited us in the afternoon and as last time my father played Qwirkle (at last he played a game with us) I decided he’s ready for further gaming.
Kingdom Builder – we played it 4-player and I focused on helping them so much that I came last but no problem, at least everyone enjoyed the game.
Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus – my son asked them to play this one with him so we played it 4-player. It went fine.
Lord of The Rings – again: I loved how my father was trying to cheat during game.
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13. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:254]
Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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The first week of Sarah being away Monday - Friday, but I didn't do quite as much gaming as I thought I might

Tuesday - I was hosting at LoB so I played some games with newcomers to the club (though not completely new to our games)

Kingdom Builder x2 - I won the first but was well beaten in the second by one of the new players who picked up on the game really quickly. After the second game, another one said "Can we play something more interactive now?"

King of Tokyo x3 - that player was wearing a Godzilla T-shirt, so this seemed to fit the bill nicely. They really enjoyed it. I like playing with new players who are still in the "that was great! let's play again" phase rather than "that was fun! let's play something else!".

Kakerlakenpoker Royal x3 - this simple bluffing game was a multiple play hit too.

6 nimmt! - and finally one hand of 6 nimmt which constituted my 100th logged play.

Wednesday - at home, last session with my 2p opponent Matt before he spends a few months in Scotland

Pax Porfiriana x3 - I won 2-1 but they were all closely contested, two of them featuring extended depressions. Nice to see three different win conditions too (Loyalty, Outrage and Revolution).

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - I liked this game a lot already but I love what the expansion adds. This time Matt had the Dog House and Wild Boar Pen, a nice combo which let him fill empty spaces with pigs and sheep. He made the best of those buildings by grabbing 4 of the 5 expansion tiles, fencing them all in near the end. Meanwhile I had to go the intensive route, piling up horses in a Stable and using an Insemination Center to breed animals with only one rather than a pair!

From gallery of qwertymartin
From gallery of qwertymartin


Sunday - at home with Sarah

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - my best score yet (58) centred on the Stud building, which allows 2 horses to be stored on each adjacent empty space, and a bunch of sheep picked up in the midgame. Sarah felt a bit frustrated by this game although she did get a decent score herself.

From gallery of qwertymartin

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14. Board Game: Merkator [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1039]
Board Game: Merkator
Brad N
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Madison
Wisconsin
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.N/A. Merkator - 3 Players
I8.5I Battle Line - 2 Players
I8.5I Village - 3 Players
I8.5I Notre Dame - 3 Players
_.8_. Android: Netrunner - 2 Players (x4)
_.8_. Niagara - 5 Players
_.8_. Carcassonne - 2 Players
I7.5I Loopin' Louie - 4 Players
_.7_. Walnut Grove - 2 Players
I6.5I Escape from the Hidden Castle - 3 Players
I6.5I Abandon Ship - 3 Players
_.6_. Reiner Knizia's Decathlon - 2 Players
_.4_. Cloud 9 - 3 Players


A good week of gaming with a number of games I rate well...

(1) Merkator - I didn't know much about it, but I tend not to be a huge fan of Uwe's games. I liked this one more than I expected with the interaction between players in following each other to different cities and stacking benefits from the contracts and other cards. It looks like a complete resource management mess and it is, at least a little, but also very manageable. I will play it again and get a rating out there... I'd be looking at 7 to 7.5 right now.

(2) Niagara - I've always liked this game as its simultaneous selection works well and it is so visually appealing. My family is taking to it and this has turned into a family favorite for the 5 of us... my wife won this round, but my 4 year old was, once again, next in line to finish.

(3) Android: Netrunner - My brother and I built decks and we are really starting to see the appeal of the game now. I'm appreciating the distinct flavors of the different runners and corporations. I won 3 of 4, but which cards we draw and when seems to have a significant impact on our outcomes. I'm hopeful that will decrease as we get better and we know that's just part of this game. I lost the last game as NBN, but had 3 agendas in my hand (HQ) for at least 3 consecutive rounds near the end where he was able to run on HQ and just happened to not draw an agenda. I nearly won this game I had no business participating in at the end. That sequence did make it more fun and also demonstrated a pretty huge luck factor.

(4) Battle Line, Walnut Grove, Reiner Knizia's Decathlon - Another nice week of two players with Marie.

(5) Abandon Ship, Midnight Party, Carcassonne, Cloud 9, Loopin' Louie - It's been kind of neat for me to see the games I play with my kids steadily get a bit more grown up. I taught Carcassonne to my 4 year old this week and he picked it up no problem. I helped him through the first, shortened round and he pretty much did it on his own in the second, shortened round. We still play plenty of games made for kids (e.g. Duck, Duck, Bruce) and party games mostly intended for kids (e.g. Midnight Party), but the games we play are getting a bit more involved as time passes.
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15. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:270]
Board Game: Notre Dame
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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Tigris & Euphrates x2 (both 4p)
Slither x1
Qwirkle x1 (2p)
Boggle x1 (2p)
Notre Dame x1 (2p)


I'm currently experiencing a bit more work & life commitments than is normal 'round these parts, so please forgive me for being less John than usual. I have zero time to write up a weekly report that's worth reading, so I'll just share my notes that I sketched out on Sunday.

More Tigris here at BGG. One of the things I actually have grown to quite like about T&E is that there's an ugliness about it that I'm not sure would be welcome in today's Euroish designs. It plays up to 4 players, but there's really only room for 3. You can get an unequal number of turns. The game is opaque. You can assess risk correctly and still lose a conflict because your opponent had 6 same-colored tiles. There are no efficient paths to notice and execute; it lacks a straight Process Analysis/Improvement vibe that so many modern games center around. Etc. Anyway, two third place finishes for me, one as the Goat.

It took playing Castles of Burgundy for me to realize what a sensible German Family game Notre Dame really is. It also feels beautifully dated, and by that I mean it clearly predates the current trend of making medium-weight Euros collapse under the added weight of Needless Component Bloat, wherein a game still offers a medium-weight amount of Action Efficiency yet uses twice the components and three times the fiddle that it needs to. Notre Dame feels downright sleek by 2013 standards. I'm fine with the occasional largely solitary exercise in point chasing, and Notre Dame is the absolute maximum amount of setup and fuss I can tolerate there. Based on the initial chatter on the Intertubes, there's no way I'll ever agree to play Bora et Bora.

I'm terrible at Slither.

My wife beat me at Qwirkle by two points.

Boggle I'm evidently quite OK at.
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16. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:91] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Online Plays
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Dominion 47 Yeah kind've got carried away here. Loving the game so much with the new cards available on isotropic. I hear the site's going down soon so I'm trying to fit as much in as possible before refusing to pay for an inferior product in the form of Goko. I own the cards to I might as well just stick to face to face play. If only I could find a Dominion club.
Lines of Action 4 Few plays of this on LittleGolem. I have alot to learn. hopefulyl I'll end around mid-table.
Amazons 1 Played this with russ from round these ere parts and he held out for a close a victory. I would like to get back to this some time, except that it doesn't do much that other games don't.

Abstract Mondays
----------------
Cairo Corridor 3 - Played this car crash of a game three times to see if we were missing something. No deep strategy here at all. Nestor needs to tighten up his publishing otherwise he'll never build a good enough reputation.
Trax 3 - Stephen is trying his best to convert me into a Trax player. Every time I play it I get more and more annoyed with the design. Opaque game that's got enough clarity to snag a few players, but not me.
Hex 1 - I talked myself down and Stephen challenged me (he usually trounces me at everything) giving me a nice little handicap. I won comfortably. Excellent, a top game that we can compete at.
Slither 1 - I taught this to Stephen who'd avoided it because it's not very pretty and the rules seem a little kludgey at first sight. I think I convinced him otherwise. A great tussle that I just won at the end.
TAMSK 1 - I finally got to play the 6th GIPf game. What fun! A really neat mechanic that I can see doesn't quie fit into the GIPF series but it's good fun nevertheless.
Unpublished Prototype 1 - Stephen showed me Four, his new game. It was a nice mix of Blokus and Quarto that is perhaps better than both of those games. He gave me a prototype (a huge one at that) so I can prosletyze at LoB if I like.

2p with Wife
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Small World 1 Really enjoyed this 2 player after having played it 4 player the week before and it taking waaaay to long. With two it was tight and intense I must give drunkenkoala some respect for having stood up to the barrages of insolence from gamer's claiming it's only a multiplayer game or not even worth playing then. I'd like to rack up a few games andsee if Kathryn can become more au fait with the special abilities to really get it.

3p with guest
-------------
Animal Upon Animal 2 We had one of Kathryn's friends visit who doesn't usually engage in the whole gaming thing we made her watch Hikaru no Go and try Tier auf Tier. She enjoyed the silliness of Tier auf Tier as that's in her comedic wheelhouse. It's a reasonable little game but I'm not convinced it's all that great as a kids game and I have other dexterity games that I'd rather play with adults.
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17. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:931]
Board Game: Merchant of Venus
Nate Straight

Covington
Louisiana
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It would be kind of thematic to add any video games I played this past week, but there weren't any.

My only play this past week was a 3p game of Merchant of Venus [a Dathkadan PnP] on Sunday evening.

Probably one of the best plays of the game I've had. We use a few combat tweaks to the original system, and a few fan variants / expansions, and it all came together really quite nicely this time around. I think I've happened on a close to perfect set of rule and system tweaks to add the variability that the original game lacks.

Cat and our third player were leading most of the way through, but I made a strong showing by blasting through about 3 or 4 Rastur in sequence [in our variant, combat can actually be profitable], then bartering my lasers for a couple of goods that net me around $400 a turn later by fulfilling some pent up demand.

In the end, our third player won with around $2100, I was second with like $1850, and Cat was a close third in the high $1700s.

Ah... thematically, our third player was showing off some board game stuff on his iPad to me after Cat went to bed.

He showed me a few of the Eclipse demoes and they did look super nice, but they just made me want to play MOO2.

I saw a post just the other day somewhere of someone who said they'd played MOO2 on DosBox on their Android. Hmmmm.
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18. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:934]
Board Game: Liberté
The Bridges of Shangri-La with my regular Monday crew. New to me and didn't care for it at all.
Through the Ages which I got to play IRL because someone else was new and wanted to learn it. Otherwise, as mourned above, I think online TtA is crowding out real TtA in my circle.

Then we had a gameday in which it was my brother's turn to pick the games, so the theme was France, and the lineup was:
Liberté
10 Days in Africa/Europe - We often play with multiple sets of this merged together, but this game was a special 4e republique variant in which France and Algeria are considered to be the same place. Pretty fun although we all had abominable initial draws, and actually had to reshuffle the deck, which rarely happens.
Overthrone
Courtisans of Versailles
Liberté again. In the first game of Liberté it was all we could do to fight off the counterrevolution; I won the second with the radical landslide. My brother and I horrified the rest of the table by demonstrating that Robespierre perfectly fits the Mickey Mouse club song. We also tend to sing the "Red and Black" song from Les Misérables a lot while playing this game, and yesterday he rang up to sing to me on the phone because he's now written an alternate verse for the counterrevolution. (It starts "Blue/the blood of noble men...")

Then the next day my mom and I played a couple of the games we acquired at Prezcon:
Cities
Can't Stop


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19. Board Game: Fauna [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:828] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
Board Game: Fauna
Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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Not too far from the surface is an atavistic itch for a quiz game. Something that recreates the fun of outsmarting aunt Enid at Trivial Pursuit or that puts right the 7 pints of Timothy Taylor inspired defeat in the picture round ('no way that Gloria Gaynor's backs side - could of sworn it was Diana Ross....') of the local's quiz night.

'Fauna' scratches the itch and adds a dolop of game on top. I Will let Martin tell you about the accursed Northern Pika next week.....

I played this 6 times last week and I love it.
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20. Board Game: Plus One [Average Rating:5.14 Unranked]
Board Game: Plus One
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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I managed to play a single game, yay!

Carolus Magnus — An old favourite of my weekly group. Arguably Colovini's best. Short and fairly fierce and with an attractive need to be flexible with your influence. We don't play with the variant suggested in the game's subforum to have the players choose between sets of cubes while replenishing: we find it is simply not necessary. The only snag—if you can call it a snag—is that we are able to play the game so well that it now usually ends in one player winning because he can no longer be prevented from doing so. It has usually been quite the fight to get to that point so it's not that important, but a small voice whispers that it is 'better' if the outcome is uncertain until the very last brilliant move which secures victory by a fingernail.

In any case, a game lasting between 30 and 40 minutes now took twice as long because Sylvain had a bad evening. But we didn't mind.
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21. Board Game: Zen Garden [Average Rating:5.70 Overall Rank:12536]
Board Game: Zen Garden
Osirus
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Half a dozen games of this, in preparation for my review. I think it probably doesn't help that abstracts don't tend to excite me, but then again I have played abstracts I really like, and this just wasn't it. You take turns placing (shared) tiles on a board and hope they make your secret pattern before your opponent's secret pattern. Not a bad game, but nothing to make it really stand out and demand more plays.

I also got to try Lords of Waterdeep for the first time. Debbie liked it quite a bit, but I wasn't overly impressed. The theme is obviously pasted on, and as a worker placement "collect cubes to fill orders" game, it didn't particularly distinguish itself for me. It's a game I'd happily play again if it was on offer, but I have zero desire to acquire it.

Video-game-wise, I played some more Path of Exile. And found out that another guy in my local boardgaming group is also playing (in addition to the couple I already knew was playing). Honestly, my biggest challenge in the game now is trying to find reasonable level matches between my characters and both my VGG friends and gaming group friends if we want to all play in one big party.
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