GCL Phoenix 187 - Like Clockwork (3 August 2014)
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League
Don't know what this GeekList is? Find out here: Gamechat League: Phoenix Division!

If you're visiting, thumb the list so we know you stopped by. Feel free to chat along with us, but please leave the posting of list items to members only.

Roster

archivists
darker
Dormammu
indigopotter - up next!
Lowengrin
Morganza
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
tjshields
woodnoggin

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BennyD, Bruzza, chally, Eeeville, enzo622, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Taibi, topherr, Yokiboy

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1. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:41]
Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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This week's theme is INTRICACY.

Some games are called fiddly. In some cases, this is a clearly bad design trait but in others it may be more uncertain. Games like Through the Ages or Antiquity have a lot going on and a lot to keep track of. One may often find themselves in a bad position because they lost track of one small detail that revealed itself as pivotal.

Do you like games that have intricate rulesets?

Does it make a difference how easily you personally understand a game? If the intricate ruleset is harder for you to learn/understand, do you like it less?

Does it frustrate you if losing track of small details can have a large impact on your performance?
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2. Board Game: Fire in the Lake [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:422]
Board Game: Fire in the Lake
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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As I have been reading the rules for Fire in the Lake (anxiously awaiting its arrival), I have noticed the heightened complexity compared to Cuba Libré. There are many small details the game includes to reflect the specifics of the Vietnam War (as one would expect) that make for a much more intricate ruleset overall. It seems as if it will be tricky to teach to someone who has not read the rules themselves.

How do you feel about intricacy in support of theme?

This is particularly a trait of classic wargaming. Does it in any way relate to your feelings toward wargames or historical simulation games in general? Do you find modern trends in simplified wargames (and their ilk) make the genre more approachable for you?
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3. Board Game: 18OE: On the Rails of the Orient Express [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:3032]
Board Game: 18OE: On the Rails of the Orient Express
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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In GCL 185, clearclaw stated his distaste for the production of 18OE, lauded by other Phoenixes as gorgeous. We have heard this refrain from JC often before. Have you had a similar response to a game?

Do you find game assets with detailed art to be distracting from gameplay or is it appealing to you?

If you don't personally like art, does your tolerance for its distracting elements diminish or are the artistic and functional values separate for you?


(Yes, this is a thin connection to intricacy, but the idea came to me as as "visual intricacy.")
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4. Board Game: Piraten kapern [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:3138]
Board Game: Piraten kapern
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Mille Sabords!, to be more precise.

Board Game: Piraten kapern


It has wonderful engraved dice, and a very petite box. It, along with The Builders: Middle Ages, came in a trade from Jon this week, and I had planned to wrap them and keep them for Sam's birthday in a few weeks. But today is seven years since our first date, so I wrapped them and let Sam open them on Friday night, since I was itching to play them. So far we've played Mille Sabords! 8 times and Builders 4 times.

I got Mille Sabords knowing Sam would beat me at it, he usually does at press-your-luck games, and he has, most of the time. However, there was this great game where I won, 10,600 to -200. The score sheet is at the framers.

The Builders has a simple structure, quick setup, and pleasant palette that makes it a good quick game to sit down for, or to wrap up with. I won both games the first night, but we were 1 and 1 last night, so I think it will be much more even from now on.

On Thursday night, we played 2 games of Take It or Leave It, as I mentioned in the last list.

Tuesday was 1 game of Race for the Checkered and 7 games of Rack-O.

Monday was a game of Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld.

I had a BIN on a box of small card games last night in my auction, and I have a bid on Ora et Labora, so things are moving along there. If I count my trade with Jon, that's three things already. I'm surprised there isn't a bid on Antike yet, but I can always save it and relist it later when I have more things; it may be that someone doesn't want to bid on just one thing, and wants something where they can combine shipping.

Last night we saw a hot air balloon, much lower than usual:

From gallery of indigopotter
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5. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:14]
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_10_ Innovation x1
Four player team game using Echoes. My youngest son and I won 6 achievements to oldest son and my wife's two. We managed some synergies with our symbols so that I took draw actions that also benefited him allowing us to tech up quickly.

_7_ Keythedral x1
Played with the kids with my daughter teaming up with me to learn the game. She seemed to understand everything just fine and said next time she'll play her own position. Youngest son managed some law card shenanagians in the final round to win with 71 while oldest son took two of the last two tiles to bring his score up to 68 and I did ok but not good enough at 58.

_6_ Madeira x1
Youngest son and I tried this as a two player game and while it played much qicker than our earlier four player game, it was still close to two hours and we were not terrinly happy with the game. I did well during the second king's request and had +25 points over him, and so the final rounds of the game were just an exericse to see if he could catch up. We both ended up with no pirates and I won 85 to 59. Probably will be gone soon.

_7_ Cobra x1
A four round game, so each of us could start once. I caught up from behind and won with 10, oldest son got 8 to youngest son's 7 and daughter only scored 2. We were all laughing at this. Weird, quirky game.

_5_ Deeku x1
Boys and I played second edition rules with my first edition game and stealing some of the fourth player. it kind of was awkward but I took out a loan (new to second edition rules) and used that and some good timing to win 38 while oldest son had 29 and youngest son 27. We think this is ok but doesn't attract me like Inotaizu does. It's casually marked for trade now, where I am not actively trying to get rid of it but would consider offers; meanwhile, if and when this gets played again I think it really needs all four players and I need to have cleaned up rules as right now I was looking at three or four different documents to get the changes from first to second edition. It's not a complex game just disorganized right now.

_7_ The Castles of Burgundy x2 Feld!
People might recall I played this a bit back and thought it was fine but at the time tried to dismiss it a bit as I was being more critical on what I wanted and didn't want in my collection. However as time has passed and I've been whittling away at my collection I kept coming back to this and thinking about it more. Recently I ended up trading Lewis and Clark and Inca Empire for CoB and On the Underground.

In the first game this week I played wuth both boys. This worked rather well and youngest son quit liked it, not lest of which because he won with a 185 to my 178 score, with oldest son slightly back at 144. I had dismissed this earlier as ok but not necessary but as time has gone on I've thought more about it and now think this is a good addition to the collection.

Second game was two players teaching my wife. I did some major scoring on animals to win 198 to 171. Happily, my wife really enjoyed the game!

_6_ On the Underground x1 New!
As mentioned above, I also got this in a trade in high part due to recently visiting London and my wife likes this game mostly due to being able to recognize places. For a four player game with both sons and my wife it played fine and I ended up winning with 45 and everyone else tied with 40, but I think this might be better with three players or even just two so there are more lines per player to run.
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6. Board Game: Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Board Game: Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Space Alert x 1

4 of the 5 of us were (somewhat) experienced. The 5th player hated it.

Alas.

Troyes x 1

I won a close 3-player game 38-36-32. The new player liked it. I liked it, too. You win, universe.

Magnum Opus x 1

Another pleasant play with a lackluster ending. I think the biggest issue is the luck involved with locating/acquiring the 3 philosopher's stone clues. I'm still enjoying the game and impressed by the thematicity* of the game, I just wish the end was a little more satisfying (though I do like that it's not a standard count-the-vp-at-the-end game).

Snowdonia w/The Daffodil Line scenario x 1

Kat and I brought out this favorite from earlier in the year to much success. I love the way the scenarios change it up, and the Daffodil Line is a good one. I won 139-125.

Mystery Rummy: Jekyll & Hyde x 2


Kat requested this one as a closer this afternoon, and I walloped her pretty badly each time.

External image


I believe I'll be missing Wednesday night, but I'll be involved in a no-pants, boardgame weekend. Should be quite wonderful.
*I have crafted a new word lovingly, like a wordsmith.
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7. Board Game: Elements [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3198]
Board Game: Elements
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 2Aug2014:

16/9/297 plays of 11/7/136 total games, with 0/0/19 expansions employed.
Plays with 6/6/64 distinct opponents.

1/1/32 games acquired (plus 1/0/9 expansions.) - Flying Colors: Ship of the Line (bought) and Village (in trade: Thanks!)
2/2/13 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/6 expansions.) - Notre Dame (traded) and Alea Iacta Est (sold.)
0/0/15 games ordered (plus 0/0/6 expansions.)
Orders for 9 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.

With family on vacation:
3x _6.7_ Perudo - We managed to run out of steam: it wasn't to be played every night. I think there's still some enthusiasm for more play - though I may need to get a new set of cups: the raw-paper espresso cups I'd been using are getting pretty frayed.
2x _6.3_ Scattergories - Not one I'd brought with us: we found a copy in a lovely little cafe in Seaside OR; and (since the nice baristas there will bring one's beverage to you - rather than doing the SBUX thing, and having you loiter around a receiving counter) we played Scattergories while waiting for our beverages. And then a bit longer after receiving our beverages, because we were all having fun. It's definitely not the best game ever - but it's quite amusing to play with the right gang.
1x _7.7_ Big Boggle - As expected, the rest of us lost (quite decidedly, too) to my lovely wife. While the rest of us aren't remotely incompetent, we're not close to her level of expertise.
1x _7.3_ Long Live the Queen - Requested by son #2. It's really quite cute. Here we saw yet another not-seen-before pattern: one of us switched up our instructor tile late in the game, and managed to squeeze out a win by triggering it with one of the centrally-placed apprentices.
2x _6.7_ SET - We're all well out of practice: but when son #2 saw the copy on my Mom's shelf, he thought we should play. Fortunately, our level of incompetence has decreased the variance between the best and worst players: so all of us had the opportunity to believe there was a chance we could win.
1x _7.3_ Love Letter - Inflicted on my Mom. I don't think she was completely convinced, though she enjoyed playing with a couple of pleasant grandchildren (who seemed to be enjoying themselves.)
1x _7.3_ Onitama - Inflicted on my Mom. She thought it was quite sensible, and she managed to defeat me soundly. I was reminded of the story of when Dad taught her to play chess: she lost the first game, narrowly lost the second, and soundly defeated him in the third game. And he had no hope thereafter of ever coming close to her level of competence afterward. This is the sort of game she's good at!
1x _8_ Elements - With son #2. (His request, again.) It's amusing: there are lots of patterns; lots of mutations; and the game does indeed become one of second (and third-)guessing. I lost: the wine in front of me had the iocaine powder, I guess.
1x _7.7_ Starship Merchants - After being annihilated by Aliza in my last play, it was amusing to take on a slightly weaker opponent. (To be fair, the 2-player dynamics are quite distinctly different from the 4p. One can begin with a plan that is entirely 2p-viable in the 4p game, only to have the butterfly effects of an opponent's decision torpedo everything. But that only explains why Dave did so badly in our game with Aliza: he tried things that would have worked fine if I had not got in his way!) Son #2's disinclination to take loans hurt his cause here: I think he would have won handily if he'd bought the first 4-ship on credit!
1x _7.3_ Village (27 months dusty) - Fun to try with "our" copy. (As an amusing aside: I play red whenever I possibly can. Playing with Dave and Aliza is interesting as a result - since all of us prefer red! But when playing with the Wednesday Night guys; or the Monday Lunch crew; or my kids, I pretty much always get red. And my esteemed trading partner was apologetic: there was a missing red disc (a potential-travel marker; so not necessarily needed in any given game.) But when I upended the box in order to dump out Everything, there was a loose matching red disk that came out with everything else. So the game I have is complete!) Daughter #1 liked the game, but claimed she kept expecting things to be more complex. She expected to need to feed her people, or pay them, or something - and that the unrealized (nonexistent) complexities got in the way of her making good decisions. She thought it would be better the next time out. Son #2 was less amused; but still agreed he'd be willing to play again.
1x _7.3_ Isaribi - This one, on the other hand, captured the imagination of son #2 and my Mom both. They thought it was sensible and charming and engaging. (Which is nice, though that's still a hair more exciting than I think the game is. I may be coming around, though.) In fact, the youngster was trying to recruit his siblings tonight to revisit "The Japanese Fishing Game."

With an esteemed GCL colleague while on vacation:
1x _8_ Elements - Many thanks for the trade, and the chat, and being willing to play. I admit that Khmer is one of those things that improves as a game with increased play (particularly against a single opponent) so the first time out isn't nearly at its best. But I still enjoyed our play: thanks again.

Owned-and-unplayed: 2 (+0/-0).

Outlook for the week: Probably more little Japanese games. Likely more Perudo. Lots more driving. Should be fun, though.
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8. Board Game: 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:2138]
Board Game: 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_9_ The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game x3
_7_ 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire x1 New!
_7_ Khmer x1 New!
_7_ Vikings x1


Expansions Used

_8_ The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Hunt for Gollum x3


The Week in Review
Board Game: Vikings

Vikings started the week for S and I. And as is usual with our weekday evening plays, she kicked my butt. But I'm not quite sure how.
Board Game: Elements

Elements was played at a coffee shop on Saturday morning. My opponent was none other than Dave, yes, our very own rynelf who is up visiting.

He and I weren't the only one at the café gaming. Next to us were two fellows playing Chess. The one had taken quite an interest in the collection of Japanese microgames Dave had brought with him including Welcome to the Dungeon. And maybe the three of us would have played that had his Chess partner not arrived.

Dave also had his copy of Isaribi and though he let me drool over the artwork, it required three players and there were just us two. So we played Elements.

Elements proved to be more interesting than I'd imagined. I understand now why Tom loves this game from low complexity, high interaction right to the hand-crafted look and feel of the cards.

Yes, I can see why using a Skip-Bo deck is an abomination. And speaking of an abomination...
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Hunt for Gollum

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Hunt for Gollum should have been a stroll down the Anduin River. Our decks have been buffed since our first play of this scenario by the addition of a dozen newer sets of cards. However, not having a lot of experience in deck building, S (playing Lore) and K (playing Tactics), had very bloated decks of around 100 cards apiece. And even after I realized (after our first loss) how big they were, neither of them could be bothered to lean them up. In addition, S was using both Aragorn and Elrond so her threat level was starting around 35 and bad stuff starts in this scenario at 35.

After we won on the third attempt, there was some talk of tuning decks, but as neither wanted to do it while it was fresh on their minds, I don't know whether they will follow through the next time we play.
From gallery of Lowengrin

1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire has been in shrink since I ordered it from the UK back in 2011 or thereabouts. I got to play the game today, but not my JKLM Games copy (which remains in shrink). JR has the new version by All-Aboard Games and, as it was all ready to go, we used his. JS was our third player.

I had two vague plans in my mind going into this one. Either try to secure the triangle that makes up Moscow, Kharkov and Poland and/or push East and set up the very lucrative Moscow to Siberia (Ekaterineburg) run. In the initial auction I won two private companies which gave me bonuses for running to Odessa and Moscow. I hadn't really planned on the Odessa private, but it seemed no one else really wanted it so I got stuck with it trying to bid it up.

I did end up with a couple well placed minor companies (that fit in with my Moscow/Kharkov/Poland plan): the MK out of Moscow and the KR out of Kharkov. Later I picked up the MNN in Moscow, which would have secured my Eastern Dream, but a lack of funds and the train rush foiled that plan.

I ended up merging the MK and KR to form the MKN and used its treasury to buy the first 4-train. This purchase caused the 2-trains to rust and left my MNN and another minor I had to get nationalized. I think JS also had a couple of his minors nationalize at this point, but as he had a bunch of them, it wasn't so bad for him. I think JR got hit the hardest as he had his one major with have all three of it's trains rust and they hadn't run in that round.
From gallery of Lowengrin

Later in the game, I started the SW in the South-West and it was able to use existing track and a permanent 5-train for good effect - but it was hampered by a low share value. It did end with a 5-train and 5+5 train, but it still wasn't as good as the MKN which had the highest share price in the game and a 6-train and 8-train. The latter was running from Poland through Moscow to Siberia for pretty good value. Enough for me to place a second, but a very distant second to JS.

The game clocked in at around six hours including a rules overview. It's a tamer game than something like 18MEX; there are no player bankruptcies and the train rush wasn't too ferocious. Although I probably wouldn't want to play it regularly, I'd certainly give it a play a couple times a year.

The Week Ahead

A Canadian math trade wraps up this week. There's a couple things I'm interested so maybe my collection will look a little different by the end of the week.

Unplayed games of note still in shrink: Yunnan, De Vulgari Eloquentia and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. And an out-of-shrink Notre Dame which I traded Dave for my copy of Village.

Preordered games: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game and Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men.
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9. Board Game: Myth [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2411]
Board Game: Myth
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

.10! Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization 2
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 2
_7_ Myth 1New!
_6_ Libertalia 1

Week in Review

A slow week. Lost Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday gaming to various unusual factors.

I finally got to try the infamous Myth. It was a fun game but the rumors about murky rules are true and the lack of information was distracting. I think this game could be good but I'm not sure I have the patience to make it so (especially since the full solution probably requires buying extra content). The verdict is still out.

I taught one of my favorite gamers to play Through the Ages and she enjoyed it. We've talked about playing some more and I hope to get a series of face-to-face plays going.

Libertalia was this week's choice for six-player social fare. There is a fair amount going on in this game that boils down to educated guesses in the end. This makes it a good level of investment for less serious sessions. Paolo Mori is one of the more idiosyncratic designers out there; I am often surprised by the variation in weight and style between his games.
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10. Board Game: Impulse [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1480]
Board Game: Impulse
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-8- Hanabi (x2)
-8- Love Letter
-7- Impulse (x3)
-7- London
-5- Paperback

Our first game of Impulse took ages, way too long (over 2 hours with 4 players). We had intolerable downtime between turns as everyone wrangled with the options available and yet we all wanted to play again immediately afterwards. That game was much quicker, mainly because I managed to get myself eliminated after only one turn! In the first game, there was little combat, everyone was playing fairly peacefully and looking for other ways to score points until the very end, when attacking became a useful way to grab those last few points needed for a win. In the second game, all bets were off and there was aggression from the outset. I went 4th and was surprised that only Rick had headed to the Sector Core before me (Jake and Kate decided to fight each other on the periphery). I thought this was a good opportunity to jump in there and replace him but hadn't realised how vulnerable this left me. On his next turn, he built up his Plan and ran it to execute a couple of moves in my direction. My defenceless Transports on my home card were overrun and one of Rick’s Cruisers sabotaged my lone Cruiser. He hadn't realised the game featured player elimination until that point, as I'd forgotten to explain that rule. It was lucky it was me at the receiving end, as I can imagine there'd have been annoyance if someone else had fallen foul of it.

I played another 2-player game later in the week to better embed the rules in my mind and it felt quite different. I like the Impulse mechanism a lot, but because it remains the same size regardless of the number of players, your opportunities to plan ahead are reduced with more players. With four players, you only get to use the card you added once, whereas with 2 or 3 players you can use it twice. My 2-player game didn't have much interaction on the board, as we both concentrated on Mining/Refining. I see a lot of potential in this game, plenty of choices and variety from play to play, but I'm still at the stage where it all feels like a chaotic mess and the outcome is decided mostly by chance. This is how Innovation started out for me, so I'm hoping paths through the confusion will appear eventually. Although it has similarities to Innovation, the cards in Impulse are in groups with similar effects, so I think the potential for unexpected wackiness is lessened. This should make it easier to build a reliable strategy but could also make for less exciting and unusual games. We shall see - I think my game group will take to it so there should be opportunities to play it some more.

Revisiting London was a little unsatisfying. I'd more or less forgotten how to play so made too many mistakes and ended up only running my city twice. I feel that's the fun part of the game - the reward for putting in the mental effort involved in planning and hand management - so to only have done it twice before the game ended was disappointing. Lots of drawing from the deck caused the game to run short and the player who had made the most money early on won easily. There wasn't enough time for the rest of us to repay our loans.

The quick game did mean we had time for a couple of rounds of Hanabi: one 0-scoring explosion and one passable comeback to 21. I haven't played this enough with the same group of players to consistently get high scores and 25 still seems unattainable for us. Still, one new player this time who picked it up quickly and really enjoyed it.
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11. Board Game: Camel Up [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:466]
Board Game: Camel Up
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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Microbadge: GameChat League - Phoenix Division: "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes..."Microbadge: Race for the Galaxy fanMicrobadge: Agricola fan
So I played some games...

Camel Up - really liked this. Light, quick, slightly too random but there are definitely decisions here - I just wasn't able to make any right ones in our two games.

Lost Legacy- I like this about the same as I like Love Letter. Not a lot.

Monopoly Deal Card Game- A player new to the group brought this along. Different from the board game this is a mass produced, lightning quick, feather light card game that has some fans. I liked it more than Lost Legacy, and at least everyone had a couple of turns. I won by swiping everybody's sets.

Cockroach Poker - This is always popular, though a new (and very slow player) made the game lag - to the extent that a couple of times everybody had forgotten the claim by the time the card was revealed.

No Thanks! - Another favourite, we ended with this. One of those games with newbies who took cards very early. The lack of chip build up did not suit my usual style and I ended up running out of chips and taking some big numbers.


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