GCL Amoeba 150 – Outside influences (2014-01-05)
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

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

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This week, let's talk about outside influences: games with their roots in books, movies and other pop culture. Let's take a small detour to video games as well.
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1. Board Game: The Bottle Imp [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1298]
Board Game: The Bottle Imp
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Lord of the Rings is a prime example of a book with board game conversion - and quite a few of them. Not all of them are inspired by the original book, though; some trace their roots to the movies, some to the role-playing game and other material not written by Tolkien.

I'll choose another game as the example here: Flaschenteufel is a remarkable game, as it's a trick-taking game that brings the R. Louis Stevenson short story to life in a very fascinating way.

What games would you like to highlight that take source material - either books or something else, like movies - and create an interesting game out of it?
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2. Board Game: Battleship [Average Rating:4.63 Overall Rank:19499]
Board Game: Battleship
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Then there's the other direction... Has anybody ever seen a movie based on a board game that's any good? For books, it's slightly easier – I can immediately come up with Yasunari Kawabata's brilliant Master of Go and Stefan Zweig's Chess Story. Anything else?

Non-fiction is fine as well (and from non-fiction, two great books come to mind: Jonathan Schaeffer's book on his Checkers computer Chinook, the Checkers master Marion Tinsley and how they solved Checkers; and Stefan Fatsis' The Word Freak about the competitive Scrabble world).
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3. Video Game: Carcassonne (2010 / Mobile) [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:187] [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked]
Video Game: Carcassonne (2010 / Mobile)
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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How about good computer versions of board games? For me, the iOS Carcassonne brought new life to the board game - that's certainly a fine game. What are your favourites, or do you even care about computer versions of board games?
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4. Board Game: Bucket Brigade [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:5436]
Board Game: Bucket Brigade
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I was thrilled a few months back when Joe Huber found a copy of Honeybears for me to buy. I wanted the original version, not the new-fangled (and obviously unacceptable) Bucket Brigade version! As you can see, BGG will display the correct version name in many places, but I don't know a way to make that happen in Geeklist item names.

I wrote up an extensive SR for last week's Amoeba Geeklist describing the 46 games I played at our house con. I posted the last part of it after many of you may have already finished reading the list, so here's a link:

My house con report

_7_ Honeybears -- So far this week I have only one play. My daughter and son-in-law came over yesterday for my son's birthday and we played Honeybears. It's a game I have never been very successful in, but I enjoy saying, "Go, Red Bear!" I was closer than usual, but my son won with 90 and I was second with 85.

_8_ Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts -- And this evening my wife and I played 4 games, without the Orb. There's a cost-6 Alien world that gives 2 VP per ALIEN card at the end of the game. She won the game where she built it and I won the one where I built it. Of course, given how expensive it is, you have to be doing reasonably well already just to build it.

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5. Board Game: 10 Days in Africa [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2055]
Board Game: 10 Days in Africa
Larry Rice
United States
North Newton
Kansas
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This last week includes a number of plays of lighter games with the nieces and games also from the New Year's Eve party.

New to Me:

d10-8 Caverna: The Cave Farmers x1
d10-8 Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts x1
d10-4 Danger x1
d10-4 It Happens.. x1
d10-6 Mückenstich x1

Return Visits:

d10-5 10 Days in Africa x4
d10-7 Perudo x3
d10-8 Pick Two! x3
d10-4 Q•bitz x3
d10-6 Airships x1
d10-7 Flash Point: Fire Rescue x1
d10-8 Foppen x1
d10-5 Hand and Foot x1
d10-7 Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road x1
d10-4 Last Word x1
d10-8 Paperback x1
d10-7 Stich-Meister x1
d10-7 Time's Up! x1
d10-9 Wildcatters x1

Random Musings:

Not really impressed with the Queen three pack of card games. Between Danger and Mückenstich I now have no interest to try the third. The mosquito card game was at least entertaining but not enough to keep. I think I also found my least enjoyable Feld game to date with It Happens... Thankfully, that one I didn't pay for directly as it came as part of a Kickstarter bonus.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers is another solid entry in the Agricola family. Not sure if I think it is $90 worth of solid. Enjoyed my first play. Definitely not as difficult although there is more feeding of the family. Resources tend to be much more plentiful so the focus is more on how specialize well (which is a welcome variation from the previous focus on diversity). I never can imagine playing this with more than 4...wish they would have just reduced the number of pieces an sold it for 4-5 players max to keep down cost. Looking forward to exploring this one more. Variation in this one comes from the rooms of which there is only one of each building except of the basic dwelling.

Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts is another interesting arc for the base game. Enjoyed trying out the Orb version but the first few plays I can see will take a fair bit of time until one fully understands how to place the orb cards.

New Year's Eve saw a return to some old favorites/traditional games in Hand and Foot and our own version of Time's Up! where everyone gets three slips of paper to write down three names they think at least half the people in the room should know (uh huh, right)...

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6. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:29]
Board Game: Agricola
Jevon Heath
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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_9_ 2x Coup
_9_ 1x Agricola
_6_ 1x Mice and Mystics
_4_ 1x Dungeon Roll

Coup is an excellent game, I discovered. It's quick and requires you to commit immediately, and it's extremely easy to set up and tear down. I'ma find me a copy.

We played a four-player game of Agricola down in Santa Barbara. I wasn't doing too hot, but the nail in my coffin was the player after me taking Starting Player on the second-last round because he was worried I would take his action. I haven't played a lot of Agricola with larger player accounts, but it seems like it might be a better game with four than with two or three.
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7. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:91] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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1 x .10!Dominion
1 x _9_Ribbit
1 x _9_Machi Koro
1 x _8_Spooky Stairs
1 x _8_Bunte Runde
1 x _8_The Magic Labyrinth
2 x _8_Marrakech
2 x _7_Fleeting Foxes
1 x _7_Da ist der Wurm drin
2 x _7_Ghost Blitz
1 x _7_Colorpop
1 x _7_Indigo
1 x _7_Die kleinen Drachenritter
1 x _7_Ab in die Tonne
1 x _7_Bugs in the Kitchen
1 x _7_Zebra-Schwein
2 x _6_Junior Alias

The Christmas vacation, which meant lots of games with the family. This is all with the kids. Nice week!
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8. Board Game: Promised Land: 1250-587 BC [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:5094]
Board Game: Promised Land: 1250-587 BC
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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1x _8.00_ Agricola
1x _7.50_ The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
1x _7.25_ Promised Land: 1250-587 BC
1x _7.00_ Omen: A Reign of War
1x _7.00_ Eclipse
1x _7.00_ Terra Mystica
1x _6.50_ Drum Roll
1x _6.50_ Topology
1x _6.50_ Hexellation

Promised Land: 1250-587 BC was a nice surprise. Somehow it feels like a mix between History of the World (Random card draws for people/leaders) and Kings & Castles (the fixed order track in which the leaders operate). Though splitting the players in heathens and Hebrews works great as well .

Omen: A Reign of War is a decent card game, even though B. managed to grab 3 of the achievement cards in a single turn (and then still lost)...
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9. Board Game: 1837: Rail Building in the Austro-Hungarian Empire [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:6867]
Board Game: 1837: Rail Building in the Austro-Hungarian Empire
Carlos Moreno Serrano
United Kingdom
Guildford
Surrey
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I played 1837 on the 29th December at Steve Thomas's house with some of the 18xx gang.

It was quite a remarkable experience. I have always played 18xx games with the help of Rails, so this was my first time going "pure".

It was painless thanks to the guys being VERY experienced at doing everything, handling the change, calculating payouts, routes, etc.

The game itself I really enjoyed, there was so much stuff going on with the mounties (privates), the mining companies, minors, majors, estate-owned ones. I was a bit lost to be fair, but they all helped me stay in the game.

They helped me so much that I ended up being 2nd out of 5 players! But it was all well engineered by the guys as I would have really lost in the auction. They had all played it many times...

Steve can do some serious math! He calculated our worth in minutes from a scrap of paper. It was amazing. He did all the calculations from the top of his head in less than 5 minutes.

What a lovely day...
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10. Board Game: Tribune: Expansion [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Board Game: Tribune: Expansion
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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A busy day of gaming Saturday. The morning group started off with Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set as we successfully completed the 1st scenario in adventure pack 1. We had lost it when we tried before, and had better luck with the dice and a better plan this time. Everyone is really enjoying the game.

Then we moved on to Rialto, where I think I came in 2nd (maybe 3rd). Not my favorite Feld game, and it does have some neat mechanisms. Here's an observation....ignore the Doge track at your own peril.

Next up was Tribune: Primus Inter Pares with the Tribune: Expansion. Being our 1st play, we didn't use the Bruti family. It had been a while since this group played even the base game, and everyone remembered how much they liked the game. I had been in search of the expansion for months and had found it recently, so I was very happy to get it on the table. As usual, I lost the game and still quite enjoyed it.

I did go home with one win, though, based on my great skill in rolling dice (a rarity) in Excape, a pretty good filler.

The evening group started with a much anticipated play of Concordia. I had seen it played once at BGG.con and had heard good things about it, however this was my 1st actual play of the game. Everyone except me architected on the 1st turn, that may have cost me any shot at a good finish. I wouldn't like it if going architect on the 1st move was the only way to win. That would limit things a bit. It could just be my inexperience cost me any shot at a win with a different strategy. In any case, I enjoyed the game and look forward to more plays.

Then we played a 6 player game of Alhambra with several new players. The cards did not like me until late, and while I made a brave charge, it was only enough for 3rd place. Alhambra remains a good filler/gateway/light game.

Then it was another game of Tribune with the expansion, this time we had 6 so I played the Bruti. It's very different running them, and I did get 3 of the 4 victory requirements, however I was really not close to the 4th and did not win. I declare the expansion a good purchase!
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11. Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked]
Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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New Year's Eve was the annual "all-night" game night hosted by Marc.

_8_ Lewis & Clark: The Expedition - This was with me, Anni, Micah, Anthony, and Stephanie, the latter three of whom were new. Since I've had so much success with buying cards that help me move through the mountains, I kept my eyes peeled for such a card, but one never came up when it was convenient for me to grab. Instead, I got a card that let me turn one resource into two basic resources, plus a 2-power collect resources card (that I mostly used for the 2 power). I think I bought a goods boat in order to buy one of the cards, which is a strategy I didn't see before this game. In any case, the game was neck-and-neck up through the first mountains, and I was able to bump forward ahead of everyone because they were all lined up. Turning one resource into two was particularly helpful in getting horses, and I was able to time everything to blow through the second water area and the second mountain area while everyone else was still muddling around in the first mountains. I had a bunch of canoes saved while standing on the last mountain space, so I immediately moved again and then camped, setting me back by a bunch of cards in my hand, but not enough to prevent my win.

.10! Power Grid: France/Italy - This was with me, Anni, Marc, Mark, and Kristi; I think Kristi was new. We were playing on the France map with the new Power Plant deck. For some reason, everyone made their initial placements in the north in this game; I ended up with the southernmost board position despite placing second. I was able to get a 5-power coal plant early, paying about 12-15 more than the list price. Later on, I was able to get another 5-power garbage plant--between the high capacity and the low cost of garbage, I thought it would be pretty popular and was prepared to pay at least in the 50's for it. Instead, I was able to get it at a cost in the low 20's. Since I was sitting at 6 cities before, and I had half the board open to me, I jetted up to 11 cities in one turn. Step 3 triggered in the next turn, and I built a plant that ensured I had the highest capacity (I think 13), and then easily built to 15 for the victory.

_7_ Bruges - This was with me, Anni, John, and Sarah; John and Sarah were new. I decided to try to focus on getting cards out this time, which earned me the person bonus, but I was never able to get my hands on the canal bonus or the reputation bonus. My first person allowed me to discard a threat by gaining a reputation (and get a point), which I used to good effect all game. My second person allowed me to take a worker of any color for free every turn; I never needed to spend a turn collecting workers the entire game. The other people I played weren't particularly good, until I got down a card that said that I got two points per type of person at the end of the game. Unfortunately, I never was able to draw the colors of cards I needed to get more than 3 points out of my canals. However, all of the people I got down were worth big points, so I ended up winning by a decent margin.

_9_ Amun-Re - This was with me, Anni, Micah, Matt, and Kristi; Matt and Kristi may or may not have been technically new, but they definitely needed an explanation. I played conservatively to start out, getting some good deals on money provinces in the first few turns. Everyone was consistently stealing except Kristi, who got the big bonus on the first two turns by donating all of 3 money. No one was really making a run at majorities in the Old Kingdom, so in turn 3 I decided to do something rash and buy 6 bricks, guaranteeing me a set and a majority. I thought I could pull that off while maintaining a money lead, but for some reason bidding went crazy in round 3, and the sacrifice got pushed to level 3! I lost out on some camels, and everyone else made out like a bandit with farmers. Kristi emerged from the Old Kingdom with 20-some points. I set my usual goal of getting 3 sets in the New Kingdom, and managed to pull that off and got a majority in the process. I probably scored the most New Kingdom points, but I couldn't make up the deficit; Kristi ended up holding onto the win by a handful of points.

New Year's Day featured an impromptu game day at Micah's place.

_8_ Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia - This was with me, Anni, Micah, Marc, and Brian; Anni and I were the only ones who had played before. From my last play, it seemed really easy for the Icarites to reach the end of the track, so I made sure to keep an Icarite card. My other card was a Subterran card, which I put face-up. Sure enough, the Icarites zoomed right along the track. However, despite the fact that Brian also had a Subterran card, I had trouble advancing the Subterran track. Instead, everyone seemed to want to advance Euphorians, but only Marc had a Euphorian card showing. I felt like I was treading water for a little bit, and found myself behind on getting markets built. I kept having to get my stars on the markets by gathering and spending artifact cards. While I spent time doing that, other were getting their stars out in other ways, particularly Anni, who had gotten some stars on the Icarite section. Marc caught up and got himself down to one star, but Anni had a nice last turn and got out her remaining stars to win the game.

_5_ Time 'n' Space (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Micah, and Brian; everyone was new. We decided to play the 12-minute intro game rather than the 30-minute full game. Despite the fact that the game operates on sand timers, it didn't really feel that frantic. However, there were plenty of times where I felt like I committed to something sub-par, and it took too much time to try to make up for it. Since it was good to trade with different people, I had my ship visit Anni, then Micah, and then Brian. Seemed to work pretty well. I also made sure I had ample stuff available for others to trade with. At the end of the game, I made a bunch of blue deliveries available just so I could score the one blue chip I got, but this turned out to give Anni a ton of multipliers with which she won the game.

.10! Ra - Same group here. This was a game in which no one really did well. Micah picked up a whole lot of monuments early, but they kind of dried up for him after that. He also got most Pharaohs, but had to keep buying more to keep that up, whereas I didn't really compete for them but picked up some incidentally. Anni and I both did pretty well with Niles and Floods, and had a modest number of monuments. However, Anni kept losing two points for fewest Pharaohs, and she had lowest suns to my highest suns at the end. Somehow, I managed to win that game with a score in the 30's.
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12. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:220]
Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
Max DuBoff
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
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Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
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Microbadge: I searched for the Golden Camel and this is all I found.Microbadge: Make love, play wargames!Microbadge: "TAKE SIX MEAT DAMAGE, FROWNY EURODUDE!"Microbadge: I speak LatinMicrobadge: I play both wargames and euros
New Year's Eve was supposed to be some great gaming with the family. Unfortunately I slept through it. I did get to play a couple games this week, though, especially with the snow last Friday.


_8_ Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan: I got to play 2 and half weeks of this one on December 31 online. I was Ishida. I lost some land on the right side of the board but made some modest gains on the left. It can still go either way.


_7.5_ Manoeuvre: In my first game of this last week, I had Spain against France, and France went second. As expected, I lost (3-9), but the game was closer than the score reflected (I lost an unit in enemy territory at the very end). In the second game (against a different opponent), I had Spain against Great Britain, but this time I went second. I was still unfavored, but I managed to use to my advantage Spain's main redeeming quality--Guerillas and Supplies. I went through my first deck decently quickly, so I was able to predict by the end which units he had cards left for while I reused my Redoubts and other special cards. Some decent luck helped too, and I won.


_9.5_ Here I Stand: Miraculously enough, an online game of this one actually finished! It took about 3 hours and 40 minutes. I had the Hapsburgs and Papacy. As expected, the English soon jumped out to a lead after Henry begot a healthy heir. Suleiman sacked Vienna at the beginning of the game, but he was never a threat again (and the Hapsburgs actually captured Vienna on the last turn). France was rather weak in terms of VPs, but he maintained a nice army and managed to keep the English at bay (including during an invasion of Rouen and an attack on Hapsburg-held Antwerp). The Hapsburgs held three electorates for Turns 5 and 6. Jesuit Universities came out in Turn 5, and the Pope packed England with them. Paul helped the Pope surge in VPs. In Turn 6, the Pope played Andrea Doria to take Genoa from the Haps and Pilgrimage of Grace to void Protestant spaces in England. The Hapsburgs played Peasants' War to void Protestant spaces in Germany. The Pope managed to reach 25 VPs for a win.


_9_ Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage: In the midst of Winter Storm Hercules (possibly the most bogus name for a weather event I've heard in a while), I convinced my buddy to play some Hannibal. It earned the entry title because I rarely get to play this fine game in person. I played Carthage. Hannibal moved into Etruria early with Hannibal Charms Italy. He camped out there for the entire game. I also took Sardinia with a Revolt. Syracuse revolted but was recaptured. I managed to win 10-8 in the end, as Africanus accomplished little.


_8_ Wits & Wagers: Two six player rounds of this follow the Hannibal game. (It's worth noting that we only use the original rules.) In the first game, I did rather well throughout, and when the last question asked how many plays Shakespeare wrote, I picked up the win. (I actually had two gut instincts on that question, one of which turned out to be the correct answer. I wrote down the lower one, but fortunately it was close enough.) I didn't do so well throughout the second game, but I got really lucky and pulled an upset on the last question. The last question asked how many time the Yankees appeared in the World Series in the 20th century. I guessed (as a semi-random number derived from 10+ what I thought the number of wins during the same period was) 36. The ardent Yankees fan at the table wrote 34 (because he was pretty sure the answer was 35 but wanted to be safe). I decided to bet on myself for the hell of it, and my answer was miraculously right for the win.


_7.5_ Ingenious: I love this game, but I haven't quite played enough to really understand the strategy. Still, it' a consistently good time (I believe this was my sixth game). In this round, a 4-played game, I managed to Ingenious 3 colors, but I only scored 9 on Green, keeping me in last place.
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