GCL Phoenix 115: Talk About A Revolution (2013-03-17)
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Microbadge: GameChat League - Phoenix Division: "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes..." Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League! Microbadge: GameChat League - Phoenix Division: "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes..."

If you stumbled upon this geeklist by accident or through your subscriptions, please read the GameChat League Wiki page for information about what this is all about. Visitors are welcome to make constructive comments, but please leave adding items to members.

When I started composing this week's GCL, I realized that I could not let the publication date, March 17th, go unmentioned.

-o- March 17th is the birthday of Bayard Rustin, who organized the 1963 March on Washington (now most famous for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech).

-o- March 17th is the anniversary of the Battle of Badr, where the prophet Muhammad (blessings be upon him if you lean in that direction) and his forces defeated a much larger army at Mecca, gaining the respect and fear of his opponents.

-o- The US National Gallery of Art opened on March 17th, 1941.

-o- And oh yeah, March 17th is the day on which Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, died. Here in the US this is celebrated by parades, green shamrocks, and the copious consumption of bad green beer.

What do these four things have in common? Revolutionary tendencies, of course! All have to do with upsetting the existing order and bringing in the new one. (Upstarts winning battles, downtrodden classes fighting for equality, the subversive nature of the best of art, making you see things you hadn't seen before, one religion supplanting another - those snakes St. Patrick drove out of Ireland weren't reptiles, they were the symbol of the Druid priests he replaced.)

Board Game: Ginkgopolis


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1. Board Game: Mind Reader [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
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Once upon a time reading was considered a subversive act among various classes. Even in modern times, governments and organizations have attempted to control people's thoughts by restricting their access to "inappropriate" reading material.

Do you read strategy guides and session reports before you sit down to play a new game, or do you prefer to learn the game from a blank slate? When someone is teaching, do you want hints and tips, or just the rules?

(Image: _The Reader_, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), from the collection of the US National Gallery of Art. Image from Wikimedia Commons.)
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2. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:289]
Board Game: Dune
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FunkyBlue wrote:
[listitem=2537575]SPICE! NOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM![/listitem]
(Cultural reference: Cookie Monster, from Sesame Street; (image).)

Some things, once seen, can't be unseen.

Have you ever had a moment where you saw something about a game in a flash of clarity and have never been able to forget it? Did it make the game better or worse?
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3. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:381]
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Last week I wrote:
Ben wrote:
[Archipelago](It is not uncommon for me to pretend to be the Separatist even when I am not, though this has backfired occasionally).
*Jaw drops*

That can backfire horribly if the real separatist *is* in the game.

But what a way to blackmail everyone else into paying the positive-space and negative-space costs for avoiding rebellion.

I stand in awe of your evilness.
How do you feel about taking actions in games that are anti-thematic or contrary to how you feel the game is *supposed* to work, for example the starvation strategy in Stone Age?
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4. Board Game: Circle of Respect [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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What does it take for someone to earn your respect at the game table? What factors do you try to balance in your gaming partners?

(Image: Southern Cross, by Alexander Calder, 1963. From the collection of the US National Gallery of Art.)
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5. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:732]
Board Game: Tammany Hall
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Tammany Hall x2 New! Cult!
First game with the boys. Played much quicker than I expected, probably because at first we were almost putting things down at random until the first election. My youngest son started off winning the first mayor, then my oldest son, then myself, and scores jumed around during the game settling on myself winning with 26, while both sons had 20, with my youngest son having over a dozen political favor discs at the end and my oldest son none. I did mess up a couple of things in the rules though. Sigh.

Second game was the next day with friends Amos and Steven coming over and my oldest son joining us. Steven looked to be a runaway leader after the third election, no thanks to everyone deciding to slander me, even though I was no threat to anyone, ahem. Finally in the last few years the rest of us ganged up on the Major enough to end his reign, but my oldest son and I were way too far behind to make a credible claim on the win. In the end there was a tie for first, with Amos winning 28 -- 17 discs to Steven's Steven 28 -- 11 discs, while I was far behind at 15 and my oldest son sadly only had 8. Still this was a lot of fun and I like the four players as much or perhaps a little better than three.

_7_ Hawaii x1 New!
First game with the boys. It takes a few minutes to understand what everything does and how the game works, but overall this is fairly straightforward although a bit weird. My oldest son surged ahead during the game, but I caught up with end game scoring. I won 117 to his 81 and my youngest son's 55.

_7_ Ground Floor x1 New! Cult!
Steven taught this to Amos and myself and both my boys. The game ran a lot longer than we expected and scores were closer in the end then I would have thought. My oldest son won with 41 while I was a moment behind at 40, Amos 38, Steven 36 and my youngest son 34. I liked this a bit although again, it ran long, but I suspect that was mostly due to it being new to everyone at the table. If this actually ran the 90 minutes advertised it would be better.

_9_ Ora et Labora x1 Kudos!
On St. Patrick's day my oldest son had the clever idea to play the ireland side of Ora, which was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Scores were fairly close as I managed to get a wonder right before the end for 172, while my oldest son had 150 also with a wonder, my youngest son 135 and my wife 133.

TRACK:

Tabled: 17 unplayed. (-Tammany Hall, -Hawaii)

Removed: 12 removed.
Acquired: 14 acquired.

Cultish: 07 worthy / 08 played. (Tammany Hall, Ground Floor)
Kudos: 01 achieved / 12 progress. (Ora et Labora)

2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos
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6. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:37]
Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 16Mar2013:

7/17/108 plays of 5/12/69 total games, with 0/0/15 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/14/54 distinct opponents.

0/0/8 games acquired (plus 0/0/1 expansions.)
0/0/1 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 5 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.

With family members:
2x _7.3_ Ligretto - One with my lovely wife and two younger children; one only with the kids. The first game wasn't close: the youngsters and I were annihilated. Hence the second game - which was much closer.
1x _7_ FITS - Hadn't played this for a while. It's cute, but pretty unsatisfyingly solitaire: there's not much one does to interact with the other players (other than count score together, I guess.)

With most of the Wednesday Night gang:
1x _7.7_ Glory to Rome - A Forum victory! I don't think we've seen one of those before (though we'd had one threatened on a couple occasions.) It's charmingly chaotic, but I can't take it particularly seriously.
1x _7.7_ Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - I know I'd (mock-)complained about this one last week for its lack of persistent theme. This game was no better: we pushed cubes and disks about; rotated a few gears; acquired wooden cubes and cardboard rectangles. I tried something quite different from my last several games, and was (again) surprised by the number of viable paths through the game: that, at least, is still pretty cool.

With the back-on-Fridays gamers:
2x _7.3_ Town Center - Jeff dominated the proceedings: he played a really good game, and left me by the metaphorical roadside by half way through the final game: not only was he ahead, there was no possibility for me to catch him. Still, the games were intriguing: I saw some build patterns in this game that I'd never seen before; that was cool.

Owned-and-unplayed: 14 (+0/-0) - no change.

Outlook for the week: Expecting 4 on Wednesday; it'd be fun to give Conquest of Paradise a shot. I'll hope for more plays against daughter #1, too. And I'd like to remind you to visit the GCL Phoenix 2013 Madness Tournament Nominations - CLOSED! (though, again, there's no need to play if it doesn't amuse you!)
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7. Board Game: The Great Heartland Hauling Co. [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1282]
Board Game: The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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No gaming this week. I'm waiting for my copy of The Great Heartland Hauling Co. to arrive. I rounded up the nominations for the Microbadge Design Award and sent out a poll to the voting committee. I also ordered 3 more Erie decks from ArtsCow and supplies to make more prototypes to send out to playtesters.

In non-BGG news, on Friday I applied for a job that seems like it would fit me well, is full-time, and is about 2 blocks away. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get a call for an interview.

Sam has Spring Break this week, and while he has plenty to do, maybe we can play a game or two in between other things. We're also hoping to go up to Syracuse for some gaming with Ryan at the end of the week.
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8. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:219]
Board Game: Indonesia
Ben Draper
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Two weeks worth of plays:

Two Sundays ago @ Cafe Mox w/ Dave, Garret, and Taylor
_10_Magic: The Gathering (x5)

Two Tuesdays ago @ Cafe Mox w/ Tom (tjshields)
_8_Pax Porfiriana
_8_Equinox New!

Over the course of a few evenings @ home w/ Sarah
_8_Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases

Two Saturdays ago, w/ some dudes I just met @ their house
_10_Magic: The Gathering (x2)

Monday night @ home w/ Sarah
_8_Equinox

Saturday @ Maple Valley Gamers
_4_Escape: The Curse of the Temple New!
_10_Chicago Express
_8_Hanabi & Ikebana
_8_Equinox
_10_The Resistance (x3)
_8_Indonesia New!
_8_Trick of the Rails
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9. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:138]
Board Game: Suburbia
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_7_ Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer x6
_8_ London x1
_8_ Suburbia x1


Expansions Used

_7_ Ascension: Return of the Fallen x4


The Gaming Week in Review
Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game

I've had a bit of an 18xx bug in me the last week or so and even reread the rules to 1825 Unit 2 with the thought that S and I might play it this weekend (which for us even had an additional day). But other events (mostly hours spent shovelling mulch) left me too spent to play anything with any sort of complexity.

Anyway, the week was mostly Ascension: Deckbuilding Game. After a total of a dozen games of it alone, we folded Ascension: Return of the Fallen into it too add a bit more variability to the deck.
Board Game: London

Thursday night we played London. It'd been nearly a year since our last play so I was hoping it'd have some of it's novelty back, but even after a year it felt stale. As a result, I've dropped it to an _8_. I'm a bit saddened because when we first got the game, S used to get so absorbed by organizing and reorganizing her cards. It was great to see her really enjoying a board game. But she's gotten too good at it and can pretty much play on auto-pilot now. So that's pretty much that.

Suburbia was the only other game this week. It was all about chasing each other for the public bonus scores (most lakes and most contiguous government buildings). As S had last turn advantage, all she had to do was keep matching me, to nullify the bonuses and if she managed to pull ahead (as she did in government buildings) it was impossible for me to catch up. So the whole game was building government buildings and digging lakes.
Board Game: Suburbia

To frustrate me even more (because I was frustrated), I had fewest residential as my secret bonus, but S never build a single residential building. I didn't know it, but she had highest income and that's the one thing I was actually leading in at the end of the game. So in the end, she got the government bonus and no other ones were scored. But it was enough to win.

I did not enjoy playing build the most lakes, but I've realized that you can't be competitive in this game without winning your share of the bonuses. So it's build income and build for the bonuses. The rest doesn't seem to matter so much.


The Week Ahead
Bora Bora and Il Vecchio will probably be delivered at the end of this week (or early next). Besides that, we'll see if we have both the time and energy around here to get in that game of 1825 Unit 2.
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10. Board Game: New Amsterdam [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1621]
Board Game: New Amsterdam
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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7 consecutive days with gaming. 12 different games. One "I want to play this again *soon*" from an opponent. 4 first plays for me. Wow.

Monday night at Y:
_7.9_ Continental Divide (the to-be-published Winsome) 3p

Tuesday night, SVB at Red Rock:
_8.2_ Terra Mystica 4p

Wednesday night at John's:
(unrated) Hisss 4p (an excellent game when you're 4 years old)
_4.8_ Conquistador 3p (first play)

Thursday night at Dave's:
_5.2_ Fast Food Franchise 5p (second play)

Friday night at my place:
_9.2_ 2x RftG 4p
_8.5_ Power Grid: Quebec 5p

Saturday was GamesDay:
_6.1_ War of the Ring 2p (first play)
_7.3_ Equinox 2p with 2 different opponents (first play for all)
_8.8_ Brass 4p (2 sharks and 2 minnows)
_8.3_ Nieuw Amsterdam 5p (me teaching 4 new players)

Sunday afternoon online:
_7.9_ Innovation 2p with Dave P., a slow game that let the tension build.

Details to follow.

=========================================================

Monday night at Y:
_7.9_ Continental Divide (the to-be-published Winsome) 3p

Me, JC, John. I thought I had handed the game to JC on Turn 1 by starting a 3-share company with $28; he snagged the other two shares and turned it into a cash engine (for him, twice as much as for me.)

I was kicking myself for that the whole game, but managed to come in second to him by only one point, mostly because North New Orleans stayed open and I was able to drive it to San Diego in 2 builds with last+first on the last 2 turns, 10 shares at 4 VP each.

This was a rather odd game -- almost every company sold out the turn it floated or the next one. None of the dance back and forth of attaining priority and building. I don't know if that's endemic to the player count of of the cash-rich game we played.

Tuesday night, SVB at Red Rock:
_8.2_ Terra Mystica 4p

Me, Dave E., Brian, Eric R.

Eric won with the Alchemists.

Wednesday night at John's:
(unrated) Hisss 4p (an excellent game when you're 4 years old)

Me, John, John's daughter A., Chris Dodd.

A decision-free game, but quick and simple. Teaches color-matching and (at the end) counting.

_4.8_ Conquistador 3p (first play)

Me, John, Chris. We set it up and went through a sample turn before deciding it didn't hold our interest.

Next week we will play God's Playground, unless Erich joins our party in which case I'll be voting for Andean Abyss.

Thursday night at Dave's:
_5.2_ Fast Food Franchise 5p (second play)

Me (my second play; the first was some 5 years ago) , JC, Dave, John, Brian.

Tom Lehmann revisits Monopoly.

It's a much better game, with actual decisions to make at every stage of the game. Until you roll badly or your opponent draws lucky cards, at which point you go bankrupt and go sit on the sofa just like Monopoly.

Friday night at my place:
_9.2_ 2x RftG 4p

Me, Dayton, Kevin, Hugh.

On the first play, we had a crazy idea: play 2 actions a turn each, as if it were a 2p game.

Double-develop and double-settle and produce/consume drives a game pretty fast.

It was fun. Not sure we'll do it again, but it was fun.

Second game was won by a much more traditional Prestige engine.

_8.5_ Power Grid: Quebec 5p

Me, Dayton, Hugh, Jeremy, Don.

"We'll play the 4th map from the top in the box of just maps." That was Quebec. Don got Quebec City all to himself, I pinned Jeremy and Don and Hugh into Montreal, and Don won on cheap fuel costs plus an eventual relatively-cheap jaunt through the Gaspe Peninsula.

(We ll thought he would stretch out Step 1, because he had lower fuel costs, but he built out to 8 cities when we weren't expecting it.

Saturday was GamesDay:
_6.1_ War of the Ring 2p (first play)

Me (free peoples) versus Dave E. (Shadow forces.)

I wanted to like this game. Really, I did. Just riffling through some sample cards pulled me straight into the theme, those books I loved so well.

An asymmetrical wargame, special powers balanced against crushing might -- there could have been a lot for me to love here.

Instead, there was the pain of drawing really cool cards I couldn't use, character dice when I had no good character actions, a bucket of Palantir dice when I had a handful of powerful cards I had no way of meeting the prerequisites to play. The third or fourth time I spent one of my precious actions to throw away a powerful card in the hopes of getting something I could actually *use*, the game just died for me.

Perhaps an expert in the game could have taken my cards and dice and turned them into the stuff of legend. As a first-time player, it was just too frustrating to continue with.

_7.3_ Equinox 2p with 2 different opponents (first play for all)

First play: me, Chris L. (first play for both.)

Play was flawed by a few misses -- we did a blue flip as an immediate at one point. Still interesting, though my opponent actually thinks the TMG tile game with the aliens and monkeys is better for that sort of thing.

Final score was close, but more because we both fumbled through equally than because we battled wits to a near-draw.

Second play was at the very end of the evening, I taught Jeremy. This was VERY lopsided, as I had just enough experience to spike his powerful cards; I used the "toss the pool back in the bag" tile to shove things he could have used early to the end-game where they would be mostly irrelevant.

I used Death to get rid of Cog next to Vortex, where it would have taken a lot of my cards down with it.

_8.8_ Brass 4p (2 sharks and 2 minnows)

Me and Dave E. (the sharks) teaching Eve and Shelby (the minnows.)

I was perhaps less gracious than I might have been dealing with the vagaries of playing with newbies. (The first two tiles on the board were L1 cotton and L1 port in Preston. Dave, sitting in 4th seat, did loan/develop/autoflip iron. Things progressed from there.)

My hand screamed Iron, I tried setting it up, but every time I thought I was going to make it the iron money was gifted to someone else.

Things did get better in the Rail era, as our esteemed novice opponents caught on to some of the multiple levels of interactivity.

_8.3_ Nieuw Amsterdam 5p (me teaching 4 new players)

Me (this was my 4th play), teaching Jeremy, Albert, Eve, and Shelby.

This was a surprisingly tense game with a lot of brinksmanship in the auctions. Even better, all 5 of us really enjoyed the process of crawling over each other towards the shiny pile of victory points at the end of the tunnel. Jeremy was in real trouble with corn, twice sacrificed unfed buildings at -2vp each, but on the last turn Albert outbid me for the double-land row (18/19) and took both of us down, letting Jeremy win.

Several requests to play this again soon, and I got the best compliment on my game choice at the end of the game: "Damn you and your hard-to-obtain games!"

Sunday afternoon online:
_7.9_ Innovation 2p with Dave P., a slow game that let the tension build.

We were slow to find ways to score, but fumbled our way up to the 8s before I won on an unexpected Wonder. (Nobody expects the Spanish inquisi-Wonder!)

I raced up the ladder to the 4s courtesy of Tools and Paper, but neglected to watch Dave's Archery, so he got a 4 played before I did :-(

http://innovation.isotropic.org/gamelog/201303/17/game-20130...

I don't log most online plays but Dave's charm and mannerisms shone through strongly here.
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11. Board Game: Garden Competition [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:5542]
Board Game: Garden Competition
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Pretty solid week of gaming here:

Equinox x 1

Taught this to my neighbor. We (appropriately) fought over the War tile all game long. He won that battle (and the war, ho ho!) and defeated me 27-20. Equinox is pretty solid. I hope I can play it enough to really enjoy it.

Police Precinct x 1

My initial reaction was that this game is pretty good but I don't need to own it. I'm afraid other games (Pandemic, Battlestar Galactica) do the same things only better. I'd like to play it with a possible traitor in the mix to confirm that. My neighbor liked it quite a bit, so it's a candidate for game night. 2 players was a good way to learn the game but not the best way to play it.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar x 1

4-player game with 3 new players. Who finished dead last? thumbsup This guy!! thumbsup

Anyhow, I'm still really fond of this one. We had a stupid rules dispute where I got to yell at someone, which was fun. The player who won the game had one of those light bulb moments where he decided that he was happy to be last in turn order because he had enough food to pay for the better actions (all that's often available late in turn order). It went over well, which is a good thing for me.

I'll agree with Dave that there is a disconnect with the theme, and as much as the gears, actions and timing are all very clever I wish that the rest of the game was more interesting (build things for VP, move up on tracks for VP). It's a very solid 8 for me.

Hanabi x 2

Played with Kat and Angie. Playing with the rainbow cards we scored 21 and 22, not too shabby. We were very much in control in the first game, but we didn't see a green 2 until very, very late and that hurt us a bit.

Pixel Tactics x 1

Taught this to my wife. After the first round she really got into it and enjoyed it. There's a lot of text to track and information to take in initially, but I think it's worth it.

Race for the Galaxy x 1


The rare single play with the wife. My economic tableau trumped her military one 61-45.

Garden Competition x 1


Taught this to Kat and Angie last night. This one has really simple rules and it is a game of scarcity rather than one of abundance (this is a Good Thing). The game has hidden scoring, so (in a 3-player game) you end up seeing 6 of the 9 scoring condition cards, and you're left to deduct the other 3 are based on what your opponents do.

I'll go into greater detail about the game below. It seems that Angie is a gamer. We introduced her to the hobby last week, and she's taken to it very well - including winning this one pretty handily.

Biblios x 1

After Garden Competition we taught her Biblios, which didn't go over as well. It seems that with this game, more than most, people are lost for their first game and don't really get it until they see the final scoring. Sometimes (last night) it seems that new players don't find themselves collecting any specific color, then don't know what they should be bidding on in the second half of the game. I may need to teach this one differently. This game made perfect sense to me right away, and I think that makes it harder for me to teach in a way.

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This week will see a game night tonight with coworkers past and present. We'll probably have enough people that we'll be playing Shadow Hunters and/or The Resistance. I have therapy session number 4 tomorrow, followed by game night on Wednesday followed by back-to-back open to close shifts at work.

Pala should be arriving today, and I've printed up the cards for the new Innovation expansion beta. GOSH!
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12. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:196]
Board Game: Bora Bora
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

.10! Hanabi 3
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 7
_7_ Dungeon Lords 1
_7_ Libertalia 1
_7_ World of Warcraft Trading Card Game 2 New!
_7_ Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) 1
_7_ Bora Bora New!

Week in Review

A lot of wishy-washy rating this week. Sometimes I'm sure of a 7-rated games; other times I don't yet know where to put it.

I lowered Dungeon Lords to 6 in a recent ratings review, but this session was my most enjoyable to date. It was also the first time I played it with four players. For those who haven't followed this game, there are many people who say it should only be played with the full four players. I had played it five times previously, always with three people, and felt like it worked fine with that player count. But my estimation of the game continually slipped. Now that I actually tried the full player count, I think that common wisdom may be true. I'm excited to play it again and could see its rating going even higher... as long as I have three opponents to play with.

Libertalia was also a really good session. My first play was a little flat and I regretted the purchase, but this renewed my hopes for the game. We played with six players and the decisions are quite tricky. It's a lighter game - a serious gamer might consider it a party game - but the feel is unique and the element of predicting other players moves has a good home in this ruleset.

I'm still enjoying Descent, although I won the second time in a row as Overlord and the Hero players seem a little frustrated, but they almost got me a couple of times. I hope they stick with it.

The WoW TCG was something I played after some random dude handed me a pile of cards. Since I play the computer game a couple times a week with my girlfriend, I thought it would be fun to try it with her. The games were a little lopsided which took away some of the fun. It also seems too similar to Magic to get major traction. More than anything, I was curious because I know some serious Magic players who have claimed it's a better game system (even while they keep playing Magic).

Bora Bora was something of a miss for me, in spite of the decent rating I gave it. As I said at the table, if this had been the first Feld game I played I think it would have amazed me. But there is a certain feel to Feld games and over time the favorites rise to the top; this is not a favorite for me. I don't think it makes my top five Feld games and how many Feld games do I need to own? My table trended slow in playtime, which also compromised my fun as I'm a faster player by nature. I did find it intriguing though, in that Feldian way, and would like to play again at some point. I'm leaning away from adding it to my Feld shelf, but I wouldn't be surprised if I change my mind down the line. I definitely won't make any effort to import it.
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13. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:61]
Board Game: Keyflower
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 11:

... another week saved by the bell, or in this case the weekend.

Sweet Friday:
2x _8.4_ Innovation
We were both tired after a long week but also wanted to get our gaming groove on. It was decided by mutual agreement that a return to an old favourite was the order of the day. Skipping the expansion made for a much quicker session - and more fun.

... on a quiet Saturday:
1x Keyflower (rating pending)
I won this game, yet, at the end I was not sure how. Sure, I had more points than V. but how I managed that was beyond me. V. confessed that she enjoyed it a lot more than Key Market and I am not surprised. The latter requires her to think ahead and plan out much of the game, something she is not overly fond of, gaming or elsewhere in life.

It will be interesting to explore it further. We clocked in at 90 minutes gametime which is on the long side for me if this is to be a go-to game but I suppose only time will tell.

Gaming Sunday:
4x _7.8_ Kingdom Builder
This game is a pleasant stroll for me. I always play competitively and returned to a winning way with a 3-1 overall win. It is unclear to me how much better I/ we are going to get at this game, even as our understanding of the locations tiles and their abilities and how they interact with the Kingdom Builder cards develop, I am not sure we discuss it enough for it to sink in and become knowledge.

Still, can't beat 4 plays in 60 minutes.

1x _7.4_ Glen More
A return to the Scottish Highlands and me getting slaughtered like the sheep. I couldn't help myself and we talked about different options during the game - even at one point showing her a superior move. It proved costly as she set up 3 inns (taverns) scoring her 3, 6 and 10 points - then adding a Grocer netting her 18 points and for the kill she went with Loch Oich.

It was a nice trip though...

The Week Ahead:
M. turns 12 on Saturday so we have the boys from his class over and then family in the afternoon. I have signed up for an online course on Ancient Greeks - it begins today though I am unsure if it is wishful thinking or I am dedicated to go through with it.

Yes, time will tell...
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14. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:219]
Board Game: Indonesia
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Indonesia x1
Pax Porfiriana x2
Chicago Express x1
Hanabi x1
Equinox x1
The Resistance x3
Trick of the Rails x3

I'm in love with Indonesia. We didn't get the full game in as someone had to leave, so we didn't experience the infamous irritating-final-turn so my 'instant 9 could become a 10' rating has that qualification, but I can't believe it'd matter. Basically because, perfect info or no, I don't think I'd try to calc out the perfect min-max and wouldn't diss having a calculator if need be. Ben did a great job teaching this 'all noob' game - including teaching himself - and I was enchanted. The merger tension & dynamics are fascinating, and everything ropes together beautifully.

To the question "Are you an Antiquity or Indonesia person?" I'm definitely an Indonesia person. Without a moments thought. Hopefully Ben & Joe agree and this joins our rotation along with Chicago Express and German RR in our 'play good games, establish rotation, play to depth' conspiracy.

In gaming culture, this goal necessitates a conspiracy.

It took 4 plays, but I won a game of Chicago Express. Sorry if that sounded egotistical, please grin knowing I finished last my first three (a joyous last, this game is about how to see before how to play - not that I claim I see well at all). I think it goes from a '9' to a '10' but I want more Winsome experience. I didn't succeed getting Pampas into the mix, but I hope to experience that &/or South African RR when we're ready to flex.

Pax Porfiriana included an epic game with DJ & Martin that I talked about last week.

I played it with Joel & DJ last night, another Vassal+Skype experience that was terrific. Anytime playing with these two is a stellar experience. DJ won on the 3rd topple on loyalty & had one sequence of turns early in the game that were nasty good. He really earned his win playing a long game that had a nasty, punishing economy Joel put us through, that stubborn vicious bastard.

The battle was between DJ's pricey loyalist tableau based on his good oil baron buddy Lord Cowdray's under-the-table payola and Joel's cheap tableau of revolutionary hotheads, including essentially shutting down all enterprise growth outside of Pax and having a long lockdown of an anarchic regime that killed me (no card money, no estates money) but DJ could offset with Cowdray and loyalist badges. My early Outrage pusch just missed first topple & then I sank, pinned hopelessly between bastards. I think I built two enterprises that were immediately destroyed at a loss. Or was that three? One I destroyed myself, not because I needed prestige, I needed money, but because I knew it would just be destroyed anyway. I did build one ranch in the lategame wondering if they'd let me survive just to help balance the game; nope, they wacked me immediately and I lost the huge $5 bankroll I had mustered & spent the rest of the game in jail making $1 per turn passing my hat as Joel & DJ fought it out. I love this kind of stuff. And enough about myself, I hope DJ and Joel relate their favorite plays or POV, my hacendada was a clean shaven American interloper and I spent a considerable bit of time having forced unsavory sex in prison and missed the revolution. Which is what you get with a clean shaven, pretty face and an gringo's 'can do' attitude.

This game is a thematic masterpiece.

I hope DJ and Joel both chime in, they both had good things going on in the game, both strategically & some nice tactical moves.

Hanabi is so cool. We played with Ben's SF-style notetaking method & it works really well, pure deduction.

Equinox was with Ben & is a perfect gamenight 20 minute pleasure.

The Resistance was a 3 win slam dunk by the blue team. We had Morpheus in the game. The development of signalling in The Resistance (especially with Morpheus in play) has soured me on the game to the point I may drop my high rating to a '5'. It's no more about deduction & psychology, every game was won by the successful receipt of signals from Morpheus exposing the spies without any deduction and at that point it's playing hide & seek with faces or (in the case with two spies on a mission) the thrill of kicking someone under the table and getting away with it. Perhaps I'm wrong & someone here can turn me.

Ben, Joe, & I agreed to play three rounds of Trick of the Rails. Ben won, Joe a respectable 2nd, and I trailed a distant third. It needs more play so we can get the tempo into that quick-minded 'trick taking' card playing rubric. Certainly my hardest trick taker to date, and I need to study the deck.

Thanks to Aliza's heads-up, I cancelled my The Great Zimbabwe order with Boards & Bits and it's on it's way from Coolstuff. Tom got shafted by a shipper & he missed the big boat that just arrived, so his delivery is still unknown. I realize it didn't grab everyone, but I smell a game I just might love. My experience with Indonesia certainly reinforced that.

I also crowdfunded Dark Empire: Revolution because I think it looks awesome. I have the playtest kit & hope I can interest some local play before it arrives this summer.
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15. Board Game: Pointless: The Board Game [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:16734]
Board Game: Pointless: The Board Game
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Played Last Week

-7- Hanabi (x4)
-5- Pointless New!

Taught Last Week

-8- Kingdom Builder
-8- Medici
-8- Puerto Rico
-7- Hanabi (x3)
-7- Jamaica
-5- Lords of Waterdeep
-3- The Resistance

It was a very busy week in terms of games, although I only managed to play two different titles. On Wednesday, I had tickets to see Pointless being filmed - currently the only TV show I watch, and then only on BBC iPlayer. If you haven't heard of this programme, it's a joyful quiz where all the questions have been asked to 100 people before the show and contestants try to give the least popular answers, ideally one that nobody else gave. A Pointless Answer scores 0 points and adds cash to the jackpot. It's very similar to the Rare Answers Competitions I've run here on BGG and it appeals to people who think they have very obscure knowledge. I count myself among that group, so I was hoping to be one of the 100 people who get to answer the questions before the show, but they didn't ask any of the audience to do that. So the mystery of who these people are (only 89% of whom could recognise a picture of the Earth) remains unsolved.

It was interesting to see behind the scenes at a quiz show and Kate and I were happy to both get different pointless answers while watching. Mine was in the picture round where they asked contestants to identify subway stations from around the world - I'd been to all of them and the Pyongyang metro was a pointless answer. Kate's answer was in a round about US TV Shows - name an actor who has appeared in at least 100 episodes of any one of the following: Dawson's Creek, Desperate Housewives, ER, The West Wing. It helped that she has recently been re-watching The West Wing. (West Wing fans, can you guess who the pointless answers were?)

The following evening, we got the chance to play the tie-in boardgame round at Kate's parents' place. It's a long way off the fun of the TV show with long-winded rules that must be off-putting to most of its target audience. They've sensibly removed the player elimination but in doing so they've made the early rounds pointless. I'd love to think this was done on purpose as a satirical comment on the format but it's much more likely that the designers are just clueless. Instead, the early rounds determine turn order in later rounds and victory still comes down to luck on the final question. It's not a great game, and is in desperate need of an electronic scoring tower using the tense sound effects from off the telly.

The rest of the week was spent preparing for and running the UK Student Nationals Wargaming and Roleplaying Championships. It's an annual competition where the winning team gets the honour (?) of hosting the following year's event. It used to be just tabletop miniatures games and roleplaying but Sheffield have won it a few times in the past decade and over the years I've managed to broaden the scope by adding CCGs and boardgames as available categories. It was our turn to host again and I was helping with the boardgames, which involved scheduling games for about 40 players and making sure they were in the right place at the right time with the right GMs. No easy task, I can tell you.

The boardgame categories are not the most competitive at the event and a lot of people enter just to learn some new games and have a laugh, but nonetheless it needs running as a fair and proper tournament. We had the players move between nine different games and everyone got the chance to play every other player at least once. Here's what we ran:

7 Wonders
Cyclades
DC Deckbuilding Card Game
Dixit
Jamaica
Kingdom Builder
Lords of Waterdeep
Puerto Rico
Vegas

The games were chosen by committee with the restriction that they had to fit within 2 hour slots and they had to be easy enough to teach new players within the time constraints. The list of games is not released beforehand, so we can't expect players to necessarily know the games we choose. I wondered whether we'd get more or fewer entrants if we did announce which games would be played. Instead, we tried to make the category more about being able to learn games quickly and adapt to different types of game rather than being expert at a few specific games.

7 Wonders was in a shorter time slot (45 minutes), as every time I've taught the game we've been able to play it in half an hour. This turned out to be overly optimistic as many of the players were new to the game. One five-player game took over an hour!

Cyclades was chosen early on by a GM who later dropped out and had to be replaced. In retrospect, I'd have been in favour of swapping Cyclades out for something else as we only had one GM who new how to explain it and I think he was getting pretty sick of the game by the end of the weekend. It also ran a little long.

We switched out Rune Age for similar reasons, replacing it with DC Deckbuilding. Its GM was surprised at how few players were familiar with the deck building genre - many hadn't played Dominion. He joined in some of the games to make up numbers which slightly skewed our scoring system as he was clearly more experienced than the competitors. We had to exclude his score when working out placings. We had three no-shows for various reasons and needed to put ringers into a few games but generally the replacement players were as unfamiliar with the games as the competitors so we could count them in the scoring.

Dixit was a token gesture towards a Social Games category that didn't get enough entrants to run. Some of the players who wanted to play those lighter games were moved into Open Games as their second choice. I heard one complaint about Dixit being in the competition ("If I'd known more Lady Gaga songs, I'd have won the game!"), but otherwise I think it was OK.

The silly pirate race game, Jamaica, was well received with at least one player saying they wanted to buy the game afterwards. It also gave players another chance for some direct conflict. End game scores like 22-4-3-0-0 were not untypical.

We ran two games of Kingdom Builder in the same time slot since it's very quick, so everyone got to play it twice. As on BGG, it received mixed responses, although I think more people enjoyed it than not. A few players said they'd never tried it before but really liked it, whereas one player said he'd played it lots and hated it. Why would he keep playing it then?

One of our GMs was very keen on running Lords of Waterdeep and although I think it's a pale imitation of Caylus or Agricola, he made a good choice with this game. It's easy to explain and intuitive to play, all the extra information entering the game is drip fed via cards or buildings so everyone can read what's going on, it can feel competitive even for new players but it does reward the more skilled player. It worked well for this group. The only problem session was when the GM was required to explain a game elsewhere and left three players to their own devices. That round dragged on beyond its time slot without someone to move things forward.

In contrast, Puerto Rico requires a lot of front-loaded rules explanation and there are a whole host of building abilities you really need to read to play properly. I ran one session of this for four players and only one had played before, and then only once. It's a tough game for new players and an easy one to win in such a group if you've had a bit of practice with the game. However, I think the category benefits from a game which really rewards experience, given that some of the others were more luck-based.

There were two other categories running at the same time: Team Games and Geek of Steel. Team Games is an odd category because it doesn't matter if you win the games or not - the top three places are decided by the GMs who ran the games based on who contributed best to team objectives. As you can imagine, it's quite challenging to decide the winner. They played: Werewolf, Battlestar Galactica, RoboRally (Team Capture the Flag variant), Pandemic, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Hanabi, Tweeet and The Resistance.

Geek of Steel has competitors playing one session of roleplaying, one wargame, one card gaming session and some boardgames. Kate ran Bohnanza, Take It Easy! and Winner's Circle for them, while I took some Medici sessions. Most groups had played Bohnanza before but the other games were new to them. It was fun running Medici and seeing the different valuations and approaches to auctioning in each group and also how long it took for the game to "click" with people. Some players always turned over three cards for auction on their turn, regardless of what came up - more is better, right? One canny player quickly realised it could be to his benefit to put single cards up for auction (he won). Running these sessions reminded me how great this game is - lots of tricky decisions packed into a short time frame.

At the end of the weekend, we had two players tied for first place in the Open Boardgames category. There was no time for a deciding game of anything as the closing ceremony was due to start, so we had to use tie-breakers based on their number of 1st place finishes (both had 6), then number of 2nd places (Nottingham edged out Leicester 3-2). First place points went to Nottingham, but at the ceremony, Leicester won more categories overall, so that's where it'll be held next year. Afterwards, I spoke to one of the traders who had been selling games at the event and he told me that he had sold copies of several of the games we played in the competition, so clearly some players liked them enough to go and buy their own copies. I should have been on commission.

Summary: great fun, completely exhausting.
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16. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:455]
Board Game: Pax Porfiriana
Games Played
With Tori:
Ginkgopolis x2

We both rather enjoyed this new title. It packs a lot more game into 60 minutes then what I expected. Plenty of room for clever plays and screwage.

Online:
Pax Porfiriana x2

First session was with Tom and Martin. I believe this one got discussed at length last week. One of the best gaming sessions I've had in a while. Sure it ran long (4+hours) but I don't regret a single minute of it.

2nd session of the week was with Tom and Joel. Tom talked a bit about this one in his entry already. Another brutal knife fight that saw all 3 players on the verge of a win at different times. I got lucky that I had the money to buy both the headliner I needed to flip the regime and the topple card in one round.

After these 2 sessions I've concluded that the game really shines with 3 players and open info. Still a solid game with 2 players that I'm more than willing to play but adding a 3rd player really opens up a much bigger strategic playground to explore.
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