GCL Phoenix 182: Around the World (again?) - 29 June 2014
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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You appear to have found the 182nd installment of the Phoenix Geek Chat League. Welcome to our regular subscribers, occasional visitors, members, and passers-by. Please feel free to thumb the list so that we know you're there.

If you're not a regular, and the notion of a Geek|Game Chat League seems peculiar or unfamiliar, please check out the wiki page.

As usual, members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars. The canonical text says "constructively and respectfully", but I hesitate to imply a higher bar for visitors than for ourselves. Perhaps I might suggest "try not to embarrass yourself", since that's the (admittedly low) bar that I attempt to impose on myself with at least intermittent success.) Our roster comprises:
archivists
chally
darker
Dormammu
indigopotter
Lowengrin
Morganza
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
tjshields <-- next week's correspondent.
woodnoggin

Over the past several weeks I've been amused (from afar) by the recent Eclipse and Amoeba lists. The conceit there (pioneered by the excellent John Bandettini) is that each of us has won a bunch of money. And our employers have given us time off. And our families, friends, and significant others think the plan is fine. So we're each off around the globe to explore (or re-explore in Rich's case.)

Strangely (co-incidentally?) after fixing your various itineraries, you discover that you'll be heading very near each of your Phoenix colleagues. So as well as travelling the world, you each get to play a game with each of the other Phoenix members. The trip goes great. You have a fantastic time and play lots of great games. But there is more; the Phoenix gang turn out to be almost as cool as the Eclipse bunch: as you leave each buddy they make the same offer (peer pressure? insanity? who knows!) They have enjoyed your visit so much as a token of their friendship they say you can take any one game from their collection as a souvenir.

So: for each of your colleagues: what do you play with them? And what game do you take home with you? (Please try to read the pilferings that have preceded you; it'd be silly for you to try to take a game that a previous visitor has already left with!)
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1. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1656]
Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days
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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Naturally, the visits with the remainder of the Phoenix Gang will be a highlight. But where will you concentrate the remainder of the trip? Are you tempted by a visit to some previously unexplored (by you, anyway!) wilderness area? An urban adventure? Something with History behind it? Or a current spectacle?
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2. Board Game: 2019: The ARCTIC [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:6553]
Board Game: 2019: The ARCTIC
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Would you ever consider visiting somewhere because of an association with a game you'd played? (Or, to take the other extreme, if you happened to visit a place with an eponymous game, would you notice or care?)
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3. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:27]
Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 28Jun2014:

11/25/236 plays of 8/19/111 total games, with 4/5/18 expansions employed.
Plays with 5/14/59 distinct opponents.

0/1/22 games acquired (plus 0/1/8 expansions.)
3/3/11 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/6 expansions.) - Princes of the Renaissance, Waterloo and Gettysburg.
3/3/11 games ordered (plus 0/0/5 expansions.) - Isaribi, Long Live the Queen and Onitama.
Orders for 10 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With family:
1x _6_ Tempus (89 months dusty) - Even less compelling than I'd remembered. And - to add injury to insult - my copy is one of those where the ink flakes off the pieces: several of the counters were just (uselessly) plain white. I'm expecting that this copy is worthless, and also that I'm not liable to play again in the next seven years.
3x _7.3_ Love Letter - My kids find this entertaining. And, in this instance, son #2 won them all - which is its own set of fun. Ordinarily the older siblings win their share.

With Paul from the Wednesday Night gang:
1x _7.7_ Flying Colors New! - Ok; I discovered that a bunch of "research" reading again through the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian was absolutely not enough to give me a clue what to do. I'm a terrible Admiral. Perhaps worse; just perceptive enough to have an idea of how much better was possible. Yet I really enjoyed the game. And even though I fell asleep twice reading through the rules, it played quickly; cleanly; sensibly. I'd be very happy to try another scenario.
2x _10_ Race for the Galaxy (with the first arc) - Very cool to play this again with the first arc (after all my recent plays being with Alien Artifacts.) The huge deck was tedious to shuffle; but I still really enjoy this variant once it lurches into play.

With cool people at BAP:
1x _7_ Istanbul New! - This is a cute little race game. I'm not confident it would maintain my attention (so: quite possible the next play would see a decrease in rating) but this first play was amusing. It's likely the sort of thing that would play well as a lunch game at work: it's easy to explain, and doesn't overstay its welcome.
1x _8_ Caverna: The Cave Farmers New! - In contrast, I expect my rating for this one will rise as I play more: I'd not expected to like it as much as I did - the mutation of Le Havre to Ora et Labora wasn't one I really appreciated (I distinctly prefer the earlier game.) And while the mutation from Agricola to Caverna isn't quite analagous, I was a bit dubious prior to the game (sufficiently so to not have bought it without first playing.)
And despite the multiplicity of buildings; actions; opportunities; resources - I found it quite tractable to know what was going on. And despite blundering tactically, I found the set of decisions entertaining and the puzzle reasonably compelling.
I'm not convinced the theme works for me (or, indeed, that I care that it doesn't work); but it was sufficiently entertaining that I might need to buy a copy. Which definitely wasn't the reaction I'd expected.
1x _7.7_ Starship Merchants - I was among those that were annihilated in this one: one of our number played really well and absolutely left the rest of the field in her wake. We had no hope. I enjoyed the proceedings nonetheless.
1x _6.7_ Machi Koro (with expansion) both New! - It's both quite cute and quite random. I was amused (in the sense that it was likely the sort of game that would entertain my Mom); but, equally, I'm not convinced it's a game I want to play very often. So while I was delighted to play, I'm not terribly inclined to pick up a copy.

Owned-and-unplayed: 2 (+0/-1) - Flying Colors was played (and Gettysburg traded away unplayed. I was happy with the H&M5 math trade: I gave up Waterloo, Gettysburg and a duplicate/unplayed copy of Princes of the Renaissance and should be acquiring 1880: China and Patchistory. Though I account for such things when they actually appear.)

Outlook for the week: Hoping for some midweek gaming with the Wednesday Gang; perhaps some cool gaming on Saturday (though I'm still negotiating on that front with my family.) And possibly even a game on Monday at lunch - though I think my excellent boss has found me a competing meeting this week.
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4. Board Game: Quebec: je me souviens [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
Board Game: Quebec: je me souviens
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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It's hard to think what games I'd take from my fellow Phoenixes -- I have a terrible habit of acquiring games I want, or that I delude myself that I want, or that I temporarily want. But what games would I love to have a copy of that I actually played with the person in question?

With that said, though:

archivists -- I'd take your Brass except that I want Tom's more. So how about we trade copies of Race for the Galaxy?
chally -- God's Playground -- So very evil. Laughing our tails off while Poland burns.
darker -- Spirit Island. When it's done.
dormammu -- Hanabi, perhaps. But why on earth don't you rate Magic a 10? You could pick me out a nice starter set and I could teach BB to play...
indigopotter -- Antiquity. I'd love to play Antiquity with you and take it with me when I leave. You can have mine in exchange.
lowengrin -- 1860, perhaps. I'd offer to give you my Mayfair 1830 except that I actually like you.
Mr_Nuts -- Container, or Innovation. I haven't played Container in such a long time...
ravenskana -- Vanuatu, oh definitely. Not sure why that fell out of favor around here...
rynelf -- Have we really never played RftG together? No? How about Princes of the Renaissance?
tjshields -- Brass. *Your* Brass. You can have mine in exchange. In honor of that crazy run of playing so many games online together. Or I'll trade you my Cuba Libre for your Andean Abyss.
woodnoggin -- Perhaps I'll stuff you into my suitcase and take you home to play Princes of Florence with Kevin and Dave E.


Not quite sure what the proper format for blending the hypothetical travel and the actual reality are, but my week:

Friday night with Jeremy

Funkenschlag: EnBW 6p
6p.: Me, Jeremy, Don, Hugh, Dayton, John

Baden-Wurttenburg is an odd map. With 6 players you use the full map and Step 2 hits at *5* cities. The rules gotcha here is that you re-order after the plant auction, not during Bureaucracy, so it's harder to pull off last/first stunts, harder to predict relative ordering.

We were also using the green power plant deck, supposedly more efficient plants. Yeah, OK, we never actually ran ourselves out of coal. But it was close. And oh so many garbage plants; oh so many people driving up the cost of trash.

In the end Jeremy was able to afford 15 cities while nobody else had plants for more than 14.

Saturday at BAP (You may detect an echo, though one that has mutated as it reflected.)

Istanbul 4p - Karen taught me, Dave, and Dave

Acquire and sell resources, with some tech advances and wildcards thrown into the mix. A certain degree of "don't so the same as other people."

It's cute; I'd play it again, but no great urge to own it.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers 4p - me, Karen, Dave, Dave

This was only my second play -- I'm more into the Le Havre branch of the family. After a slow start, I went heavy mining/military -- I ended up the game with 4 dwarves at 10-helmet or higher. Two bonus tiles and a tile that let me reduce my food for each donkey on a mine drove my strategy; very late on I looked at my undeveloped farmland and rushed to develop it. The game ended with a tight cluster of scores, though two rules errors kept the end-game scores from being meaningful.

Still, a lot more fun than chasing card combos in Agricola.

Starship Merchants 4p - Me, Karen (first play), Dave, Dave

I'd only played this a few times before, none of them logged, but managed to find the successful strategy -- I bought one level 1 ship (scout) (my esteemed opponents took loans and bought multiple ships), financed a level two and then bought the last (half-price) level two free and clear. I got the last Level 3 and then a level 4 free and clear, and delivered the pair twice, mostly ice to go with my double ice refineries. The captain who pays for an empty hold did well for me.

All tugs, all the time; I was short on energy but made up for it with big deliveries.

Machi Koro: Harbor 3p - me, Karen, Dave P.

First play.

I had what should have been a viable strategy but terrible die rolls. Not so much fun.
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5. Board Game: Extrablatt [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:4316]
Board Game: Extrablatt
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_6_ Carcassonne: The City x1
The boys helped me teach this to my daughter and while the street and market scoring was fine with her, laying down the stewards and the walls/towers/guards bit she needed more help on. She still managed 77, but my youngest son had 91, I got 107, but it was my oldest son who won with 111, even though his brother took a lot of potential end game points from him at the end.

_8_ Ora et Labora x1
My wife requested this one and the boys joined us for the France side of the game. The other three were pretty close in score with youngest son at 115 (although he was the only one of the four to not have a wonder at the end), my wife at 117, and my oldest son at 119 but I was the only one to really take advantage of placing buildings strategically to win with 168.

_6_ Ascending Empires x1
Played this with all three kids, with boys boys ending at 22, my daughter 24, and myself 31, but overall the boys aren't too happy with the attacky elements of this even though many of the shots were hilarious. You can start off "nice" in this game but eventually there needs to be some kind of attacking to bring the game to an end, so this is going on the For Trade list now.

_5_ Alley Thieves x1
Finally got Mandy's game out and it is a pretty quick and breezy game. My daughter won with 15, with youngest son at 7, oldest son at 4, and myself at 3. Overall this really has a lot of dice rolling luck for my tastes, but the kids said we should keep it around for awhile.

_6_ Master Merchant x1
My boys and I brought this out and I ended up winning getting eight diffferent cards while they were both one step behind me. This is cute and the "build a hand, not a deck" concept has now been done more extensively in Lewis and Clark and Concordia, but this is very quick and the fact you have to play all your cards to get them back (unlike L&C's camping penalty and Concordia's "use this card to get the others" mechanics) is rather neat.

_8_ Fairy Tale x1
My daughter wanted to teach this to my wife so we got together for a game with my oldest son joining my wife as a team and my daughter, youngest son, and myself rounded out to a four player game. We're still using just the basic deck but we'll probably start adding in the other cards soon nw that my wife has learned the basics. Youngest son ended up winning with 51, I had 34, the mother son team got 33, and my daughter had 29.

_8_ Extrablatt x1
My youngest son and i taught this to my oldest son and my wife and they both enjoyed this so we're hoping it will get a lot of family play now. My youngest son and I attacked each other a lot at first just because the others were new to the game. I messed up my layout which made the endgame painful for me as I couldn't do much. My wife won with 430, oldest son had 330, I had 290, and youngest son had 270.

_6_ Terra Mystica x1
When I was at the Urbana Free Library a couple weeks ago for their second Saturday event, I noticed that they had acquired Terra Mystica for the library. I had played it once at Geekway 2013 but hadn't seen it since so this week I decided to check it out and try it again with the boys. This time I played the Alchemists and ended up winning with a score of 90, my oldest son played the Cultists and scored 88, while my youngest son played the Engineers and had 79. The game didn't go over great with the boys; they both agreed if it comes up at a library event they might play but they don't think I should check it out again. A lot of this reminds me of Hansa Tuetonica which the boys didn't like either; they thought Terra Mystica was a bit better than that though.

_10_ Innovation x1
Youngest son and I started with Agriculture and grabbing some early achievements and it looked like we were going to win, but my oldest son and my wife managed to get some achievements on their own, then oldest son started drawing 10s and won the game 6 achievements to our 5. My 30th game of Innovation!
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6. Board Game: 18Scan [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:3935]
 Missing Image
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_9_ The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game x4
_7_ Vikings x2 New!
_8_ 18Scan x1 New!


Expansions Used

_6_ The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Shadow and Flame x3 New!


The Week in Review
Board Game: Vikings

All in all, a pretty good week beginning with S enjoying our first two plays of Vikings. The game is just the right depth and length, and the pace is perfect. I can see us getting a lot of plays with this one as I enjoy it almost as much - and currently more than Alhambra and Carcassonne.

My buddy P has been unavailable the past few weeks. He's currently busting his butt (literally) riding the Tour Divide on his bike (as in bicycle). He's just over half way on his 2745 mile/4418 km ride from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. He's f'ing mad, but you gotta love his determination.
From gallery of jrebelo

Anyway, with him gone (and having some new wheels to get around town), I decided to take up a long standing offer by the "Victoria 18xx Contingent" to join them. And Saturday just happened to be a perfect opportunity because they had a complete novice playing so I wouldn't have to jump straight into one of the more complex games they've been running of late.

As Aliza mentioned on the last list, 18Scan is a bit messy having privates, minor railways and major railways (as well as a national railway that merges the minors). But the auction is much simpler than some others (as you just bid for the opportunity to buy rather than on a particular company).

It also has a very restrictive tile set, which bit me hard in the initial operating rounds. Nevertheless, once I dug my minor railway out of it's starting mess, I didn't do too badly and I started to enjoy the game. And it was nice to play with people who I didn't have to bribe or coerce to play 18xx.
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Shadow and Flame

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Shadow and Flame is completely misnamed.

THERE IS NO SHADOW. JUST A LOT OF FLAME (AND DEATH).

This scenario is one of the most difficult (if not the most difficult) I have played. The outcome is almost entirely determined by luck. Get the wrong hand of cards from the outset, you lose. Get a series of bad encounter cards, you lose. Yes, you can mitigate the bad luck with some skill and some deck-building in advance, but it's still heavily determined by the cards that get drawn, which makes it quite frustrating to play. I am glad we sort of beat it because I don't want to play it again any time soon.


The Week Ahead

To celebrate Dominion Day*, I've been invited to play 18OE: On the Rails of the Orient Express. It'll be the inaugural ride for this beast of a game so we'll see how it goes. We won't be playing the full game, just one of the four to six hour scenarios. Hopefully I won't end up with a brain of mush.

Unplayed games of note still in shrink: Yunnan, De Vulgari Eloquentia, 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. Chance of one of them getting played this week: pretty slim, but maybe someday I'll actually get 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire out of shrink.

*Whomever voted to rename it "Canada Day" should be taken out and shot. What a pabulum name for a national holiday.
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7. Board Game: Rialto [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:978]
Board Game: Rialto
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Endeavor x 2

After game 1 I thought "It's kind of nice to play this again" and after game 2 I thought "I don't need to play this again for a long while".

Torches & Pitchforks x 1

When humor is the main draw for your game, that game will not be for me.

A Study in Emerald x 1

A 4-player game between myself, my wife and 2 new players. My wife won handily. Some plays I get to feel like a mad scientist, and some plays I feel like a buffoon. This was the latter. I was the anchor in this one, finishing last and eliminating the Restorationists from the game.

Animal Upon Animal x 1

Never not fun.

Rialto x 1

I was surprised to see that it had only been 6 months since my previous play, it felt like longer. I got to play this with 4 and was again very impressed with it. I can see how some folks wouldn't care for it, it's not exactly exciting. I'm a fan of area majority, and I like the way this one blends strategy and tactics together.

It's defnitely one of those games where you can sit down at the table, draft whatever cards you want, play them and still end up with at least 25- 30 points. You need to be invested in the game, to keep an eye on the other players, to try to squeeze every last bit of life out of every action to win. Or at least play less poorly than the rest of the table, which I did.

If the prospect of working to nab majority in gondolas this round so you can place an extra dude in area 2, stealing majority there and scoring yourself an extra 6 points isn't exciting to you, this may not be the game for you. Fortunately for me, I dig that sort of thing.

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Summer time. Work time.

Summersummersummer.

Workworkwork.
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8. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:195]
Board Game: Bora Bora
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Sunday
Cribbage

Monday
Cribbage

Wednesday
Cribbage

Sunday
Bora Bora - new!

We were at a bbq on Saturday, and Sam was at an RPG session on Sunday, but Sunday night we sat down for Bora Bora, which was already set up on the table.

My impression was that it reminded me a lot of Stone Age. I know there are other family ties to other games, but I think it was the fishing spot (similar to the hunting spot for leftovers in Stone Age) that was most of the reason.

We floundered around a bit, and missed some opportunities because we forgot that the purple god tiles could be used as god cards. This would have helped Sam in particular.

I was ahead most of the game, even doing evil things like bumping Sam off the priest track (?). He was rich in shells, because he got lots of women and slid them down, allowing him to buy expensive jewelry, which ended up winning him the game.

It's fun, if a bit disjointed. I'm not really a "bunch of piles of tiles" person (Shipyard). I know, one could say that about Castles of Burgundy, but those can be easily managed with bags. I might have to rig cloth bags for Bora Bora, and then I might like it a tad more. Clean up by putting tiles into bags, and then we can draw them out as we need them. I just dislike making stacks of tiles, I guess.

Plenty of different things to try, the second game should be interesting now that we know what we're doing (sort of).
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9. Board Game: Archipelago: War & Peace [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Archipelago: War & Peace
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Microbadge: Magic: The Gathering playerMicrobadge: Marvel Champions fanMicrobadge: AtheistMicrobadge: Race for the Galaxy fanMicrobadge: Hanabi & Ikebana fan
Games Played

.10! Hanabi 1
.10! Dominion 11
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 2
_8_ Archipelago 1
_8_ Eldritch Horror 2

Week in Review

Hanabi was my second test game using an online client programmed by a member of one of our sister GCL lists. It's fun, though it has no support for the rainbow suit and I've started to think 3P/5-color is a bit too easy for experienced players.

For the second week in a row, we had a Monday evening Dominion marathon. This was even longer than the first time and we calculated afterward that we had seen over 20% of all Dominion kingdom cards by the time we finished. I enjoy revisiting this game after so long away.

Archipelago was played with the new expansion, as might be inferred from my header. This expansion is a second set of Evolution Cards, which can be played instead of or in addition to the base set. We mixed them all together. They tend toward being more intricate, rules-wise, and being more confrontational. Much like the scariest cards in games like Pax Porfiriana or A Study in Emerald, they were less frightening in practice than they seemed. They simply don't get activated all that often. I started off very poorly in this game and began playing selfishly as a result: I did nothing to stave off rebellion, taxed liberally and expanded my own assets. I also predicted goals pretty well and ended up edging the competition by 1 point.

caravan

In less than a month, Eldritch Horror has become a dime. In our ninth play, we took our second stab at beating Cthulhu. We also learned that we had been playing one rule incorrectly, which was adding similar bonuses from different cards (eg, getting a combat bonus from a weapon and an ally). Turns out they don't ever stack. We almost lost hope before we started, as we had had so much trouble with monsters in previous games. It was tough, but we pulled it out.

We then resolved to re-battle all the other Great Old Ones with the correct rules and discovered the optional scoring system. We beat Azathoth with a score of 2 (like golf, low scores are good).
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10. Board Game: Intelligent Design [Average Rating:9.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Intelligent Design
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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No gaming this past week, but a lot of design work for Spirit Island, and an extra concall with GtG to go over the results of their art call.

For my visits and souvenirs, I'm choosing to assume two things:
1) That people won't mind playing something they'll school me in. (If this isn't true, I'll be happy to make a second choice.)
2) That whatever I take from their collection will be magically duplicated so they don't lose it.

archivists: Walt, Assumption #1 is in there especially for you, since my top pick would be Notre Dame, followed closely by Agricola, and while I used to be decent at both I haven't played either in years. I'd happily take a copy of Gulo Gulo], as I've had no luck picking one up casually; I seem to always be looking when it's out-of-print.

With chally... man. I'd happily reprise anything I've already played with you (Dominant Species, Archipelago, Cavum, Hanabi), but I'd love to try Key Market. I'd depart either with it, or with Dominant Species.

Dormammu: The possibilities are endless. The Great Zimbabwe, perhaps? A Study in Emerald? Through the Ages? Space Alert? Let's go with the Splotter; it's harder to find. If I liked The Great Zimbabwe, I'd happily take it in memory, otherwise I'd probably raid your copy of Vikings.

indigopotter: Antiquity, on that spiff-looking board. (I'm remembering which game that was correctly, yes?) If I liked it, I'd take it with (see assumption #2 above); if it was less my thing I'd grab Animal upon Animal - it looks like something great both for friends and with my son in not-too-long.

Lowengrin: Let's make it a Splotter hat trick for me and play Indonesia - I've been wanting to learn that for ages. Like the others above, I might bring that home with me; if not, perhaps 18AL.

Morganza: I'd love to try Outpost. (And a whole mess of 18XXs, repeatedly, but that's a whole vacation unto itself.) I'd take home a copy of 1889 - it was the first (and thus far only) 18XX I've played.

Mr_Nuts: Bryan, your recent enthusiasm for Snowdonia puts it at the top of the list, though Krosmaster, Black Gold, TZAAR, and Innovation with FitS are also way up there. Snowdonia or TZAAR would make a fine souvenir.

ravenskana: I keep seeing things about Neue Heimat, and keep being intrigued. Let's try that. (Or Glen More. Or Finca.) I'd take home Palaces of Carrara; I associate both it and Gonzaga with you.

rynelf: Something of the Renaissance - probably Princes, since you seem to like it more and I'd love to learn, but I'd also be happy with Age of Renaissance as a blast from the past. For a souvenir, Princes if I liked it, or perhaps Metropolys if not.

tjshields: Pax Porfiriana. I'm still feeling the game out for myself, but your love for it shines through, and it'd be great to play it with you. Perhaps with Khmer, Haggis, or Clans as a chaser. I already own PP, so I'd probably clone-and-bring-home Trick of the Rails, because geez, that's difficult to find right now.

woodnoggin: Mage Knight or Die Macher, unless there's a new Magic set coming out, in which case we could go to a release draft. (See assumption #1 above.) As a souvenir, let's take home Space Alert with The New Frontier - your enthusiasm for the expansion makes me want to revisit the base game so I can try it.

~ ~ ~

Outside of gaming: my sister and brother-in-law have moved about half a mile away (hooray!), my mom's just had knee surgery (hopeful!), and my son hates wearing his bike helmet with a fierymiserable passion (argh!).

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11. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:454] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Board Game: Chess
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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My day with toddler today. S. at home during nap time and we managed a game of chess after lunch. S. won handily - I was busy doing my normal sacrifice pieces for position and then I had no pieces left and my position wasn't good enough .

Also tried Hoppe Reiter with the toddler. While we've played Loopin' Louis and Snap it was his first 'real' game and I was slightly apprehensive. He loved it, taking turns, rolling the dice, counting the pips, moving the horses and fitting the jigsaw pieces. We ended up playing again with S. and while as might be expected the rules were implemented on a slightly ad-hoc basis, I can see this working near correctly after a couple more tries.

Skipping FNM this week though have been following the spoilers for M15 which looks pretty good for a core set.
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12. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:380]
Board Game: Archipelago
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Age of Steam (+Austria New!)
-8- Love Letter
-7- Abluxxen
-7- Archipelago (x2)
-7- Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck
-7- Zicke Zacke Huhnerkacke (+Zicke Zacke Entenkacke) (x2)

What gaming time I had last week was taken up with long sessions of Archipelago. I taught Simon and Phil earlier in the week, then got a repeat play at the weekend. Phil said after the first game that he would be disinclined to play it again, but I guess he must have been thinking about the game during the week and revised his opinion because he was quite keen by Saturday night.

Both were Medium length games and both felt slightly too long. I find the game fascinating for about five sixths of the time, then the last sixth I'm wishing it would end. This is probably because I'm not yet good enough at pushing towards the end condition on my goal card, or maybe it's just a matter of everyone playing faster. Neither game ended in rebellion, so we're doing OK at surviving crises, mainly because I was building lots of churches. As soon as someone gets the Rebel goal card, I think they'll easily win that game.

The second game was the more entertaining. Jake picked up the Barbarian and set about burning down most of Simon's production areas. We wondered if he might be trying to cause a rebellion, but it turned out he had the Pacifist goal. Some pacifist! He reasoned that he'd rather be in control of the barbarian than anyone else, as he could avoid activating it if the rebellion marker was getting to high. It didn't seem like he worried too much about that during the game, though. The turn-order auction and negotiation came into play more than I'd seen before. We had a Trend card for stone and I had access to the most stone production sites. I was worried about Jake jumping into one of the double stone hexes with his barbarian and making a mess of the place, so I needed to ensure I was ahead of him on turn order. I didn't have much money to bid with, so when Phil bid 10 (much higher than we’d seen on previous turns), I offered him a stone to put me ahead of Jake. This he did gladly, then immediately proceeded to move his workers onto my stone hexes and produce all the stone there, using my Expansion card to pull this off all in one turn. I'd been so focussed on stopping Jake's barbarian that I'd missed that Phil was the real threat. He ended up with the most stone after this sneaky manoeuvre. I'd probably be grumpy about this if I hadn't won the game anyway. I scored a few points from all goal cards in play except Pacifist (which didn't score) and that was just enough.

I'd like to pick up the War & Peace expansion to add some more variety to the cards but it seemed to barely make an appearance over here before selling out.

Age of Steam - Austria is a two-player only map and feels almost like a different game. There are no shares, no auctions, alternating turn order and the only expenses to pay at the end of the turn come from your locomotive. The only way to make money is through delivering goods, which makes money very tight at the start and plentiful later on. Money is also worth endgame points in this version, which is a big change from "money is just a tool" of the base game. The initial cube distribution made for a painful start: there just weren't many good options. Kate went first and used Urbanisation to give her more deliveries; she was soon making much more money than me. I had to bide my time and hope that Goods Production would provide some money-making opportunities for me later. It looked like Kate was running away with the game but I had exclusive access to purple cities, so if she wanted to deliver purple goods she'd have to use my track. She didn't mind doing this at first, as 5 income for her and 1 for me seemed like a good deal, but later on I was able to find my own 6-length deliveries and she was torn between helping me catch up and taking smaller deliveries herself. On the last turn, I overtook her on the income track but she had more track and more cash in hand than me. The surprise result was a draw. Kate said she should have been meaner in the first few turns but that she'd thought there was no way I'd catch up so she was being nice. It was like the tortoise and the hare but I'm sure I won't get any sympathy next time.

I'm not sure how often I'd play this map - some of the track builds seem scripted and the big changes take out some of the heart of what makes Age of Steam (but then the two-player game is a pale imitation of the multiplayer experience anyway).

I picked up a copy of Concept on a visit to a friend's (excellent) game shop in Huddersfield. I'm hoping to get that played at the StabCon convention this weekend.
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