GCL Phoenix 193: Let's Go Exploring! (2014-09-15)
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Have you lost your sense of adventure?

From gallery of Morganza


Our Travel Companions:

archivists
chally
darker
Dormammu
indigopotter
Lowengrin
Morganza
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Taibi
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Already found their exit:

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1. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:713]
Board Game: Can't Stop
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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What's stopping you from going off on that adventure you've always wanted? Money? Family responsibilities? Fear of a gap in your career? Don't want to be late for dinner?

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2. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:27]
Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Tom texted me and asked me to pick up this week's GCL because he was in the middle of an epic game of Caverna -- he was teaching six new players and nine hours into the game three of them had yet to play their first workers.

From gallery of Morganza


Where's the balance point between trying to play well in a new game and simply trying to explore the mechanics? What factors move that balance in one direction rather than another?
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3. Board Game: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Tom's either an idiot, incredibly dedicated, or both. He texted me in the middle of being stalked by a hungry mountain lion that came down from the hills to ask me to step up and do this week's GCL. (My money's on idiot.)

Sometimes we're living. Sometimes we're surviving.

From gallery of Morganza


Is playing board games part of living or part of surviving for you?
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4. Board Game: Monopoly: Simpsons Treehouse of Horror [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:17304]
Board Game: Monopoly: Simpsons Treehouse of Horror
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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In some parts of the world it's headed towards fall, when the leaves on deciduous trees turn pretty colors in death and flutter down to the ground.

From gallery of Morganza


The thistle Tom was living in finally flowered and got caught up in the wind; the wind is blowing him off on new adventures so he was unable to post this week.

Do you use games to imagine yourself off on adventures?
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5. Board Game: More or Less [Average Rating:4.79 Unranked]
Board Game: More or Less
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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What would you cut out of your life?

If you cut boardgaming out of your life, what would you replace it with?

What did you cut out to make room for gaming?

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6. Board Game: The Art of Conversation [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Board Game: The Art of Conversation
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Some games just cry out for taking artistic license with them. I'm not talking about rules variants, I'm talking about the theme. Just a little bit of embellishment to the theme to make the mechanics more memorable, a bit of back story to the setting, anthropomorphizing the bits. Got any good ones to share?

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7. Board Game: Patchistory [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1100]
Board Game: Patchistory
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Metropolys x1
Played at game day. Young boy L. learned the game and scored 14, Caleb had 18, Erika was also new to the game and scored 22, while I ran away with the win at 33.

_5_ Eight Minute Empire x1 New!
Byron recently acquired this and wante to get it played. I wasn't focused enough and only scored 9, while L. was a bit ahead at 11 and Byron edged him out with 12. This was ok and played quickly enough.

_7_ Mai-Star x1
Taught this to Byron and Caleb and we did a three round game where I lost points in the second round and endedup with only 14, while Byron again had a one point victory with 27 to Caelb's 26.

_5_ Haggis x1
We did one round of Haggis which Caleb brought and I had 10 to Byron's 21 and Caelb 24. I ended up wishing I had brought Abluxxen.

_7_ Patchistory x1 New!
At home learned this with both of my boys. While I did some trade route things throghout the game the boys never got around to it and my one war against my youngest son near the end turned out horribly for me as he had squirrled away far more resources than I had expected. I had 75, while oldest son had 122 and youngest son had 145.

I'm divided about the long term aspects of Patchistory with me though. The boys seemed to like it fine. I thought it ran pretty long but I didn't time it and I also expect it would go down with some experience. It seems to be more tactical than strategic though. Looking through geekbuddy comments, the following jumped out at me:

Quote:
Getting your economic engine going seemed more about the right tile coming up than anything else; the economy itself is very simplistic. All of this wouldn't be so bad if the game didn't have so much time-consuming process you have to slog through.

Also, the patching mechanic wasn't as compelling as I'd hoped. The fact that it's entirely tactical - you add just one tile to your tableau each round without knowing what tiles are coming up in future rounds - felt unsatisfying to me. I would have enjoyed the spatial challenge of planning ahead for future placements, or at least having to place several tiles at once. As is the mechanic felt like it didn't live up to its potential.
From .

It also made me think I need to replay Samurai Gardener now that does a similar thing in a much faster format. There's room for both of course, and I like putting together my alternate history timeline as an alien collecting Earth artifacts, or whatever I decide the theme is, but I also think after a few more plays I might just decide to trade or sell it.
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8. Board Game: God's Playground [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:1910]
Board Game: God's Playground
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Chairs x 2

It's Animal Upon Animal with little plastic chairs instead of little wooden animals. I got this on the cheap based solely on Dave's enthusiasm for it and I wasn't disappointed. Then again, I like dexterity games in general (stacking games specifically) so it's hard for those to fail (unless it's Rukshuk - screw that game always and forever).

God's Playground x 1

I stuck to the southern areas (Ukraine, Great Poland, Lower Poland) and got some land managers the first couple of rounds (no territory saw its estate values increased in round 1). I got an early lead as I scored in round 1 for invading both the Ottomans and the Tatars. In the all-important 3rd round, two of us put 0's in the King's Army box and the third guy used a 5. That meant he got starting player (and thus could take the City action) but also meant the King's Army was...not strong.

In round 4, I spent a 5 in the King's Army box as did another player. I was Daddy Warbucks at the table with $29, and I ended up winning the resulting bid for starting player $7-$0. I took the City action, and decided on Jesuit schools as I saw the window there for it: my estates in Lower Poland and the Ukraine had other players with interests (and more vulnerability) and the only place of concern was Greater Poland as the Habsburgs were in force there (9 cubes). Another player and I had successfully held off the mess of Ottomans in round 3. I lost an estate in Lithuania, but ended up winning 58-47-41.

I realized in last night's game that I have never taken the Diplomacy action in God's Playground. It costs an action (you get 8 over the course of the game), it costs an unknown amount of money (2 + 1d6) and it can fail (if doubles of that enemies number are rolled later in the turn). Everything is in such short supply in the game, you never have enough nobles or enough money. I love walking that knife's edge of trying to invade enemies, protect my estates while sneaking in a few dick moves and pure scoring actions. I stuck to the southern areas (Ukraine, Great Poland, Lower Poland) and got some land managers the first couple of rounds (no territory saw its estate values increased in round 1). I got an early lead as I scored in round 1 for invading both the Ottomans and the Tatars. In the all-important 3rd round, two of us put 0's in the King's Army box and the third guy used a 5. That meant he got starting player (and thus could take the City action) but also meant the King's Army was...not strong.

Patchistory x 1

I sprung this on Kat this morning (despite the strong suspicion that the 2-player game is far weaker than 3 or 4). I wanted to get a feel for the game before bringing it to game night, and Kat is always a wonderful, patient partner for such endeavors.

The auction is probably the biggest difference with 2 players; you reveal 2 new tiles at the start of the round, and each player secretly decides how much money to bid and which tile they're bidding on. Player may choose either side of the tile they win.

The other major difference is with the trade routes and military, you just just one other player to interact with. Oh, and the voting at the end of the era is different too.

Anyhow, the game ran pretty long (~3.5 hours) due in part to the fact that we have 3 young children, and that it was a learning game. We had no additional politics tiles in the first couple of rounds, which meant no workers and no trade routes. I thought that was a little weird. I built my economy while she built her food supply. A better economy allowed me to get whichever tile I wanted for essentially the entire game.

I built the Colossus early on and later added Napolean, so I felt compelled to wage war on her at one point; I won, and won handily, so I scored 10 (for the win) +3 (for the Colossus) +7 (for winning by 5+, these 7 are taken from her VP supply).

She got Pacal early on (workers are cheaper, your kingdom size limit is increased by 1). She was also racking up more votes than I, so she was scoring the end-of-era cards and I wasn't. In the 3rd era, however, I shifted away from military (thanks, Forbidden City) and started hoarding votes. I had been saving the card that scores for most culture (VP) until the end, and dumped 32 votes on it, making it worth 32 points. I damn near lost it, as I only had 2 more than she did.

I ended up squeaking a 108-97 win, which was closer than I thought it would be. I liked it, though I think 3 or 4 players would be better (too long with 4?). It is mostly tactical, though you have to plan a bit with the cards you are dealt (much like the Winter tiles in Keyflower). I see the heroes and wonders as being powerful but seductive, much like the cards in Agricola. A couple will go a long way, but a bunch will sink you.

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More of the things this week. Work. School. Play. Coffee. Probably some Rush. Sleep? No, not much sleep these days.
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9. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:456]
Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 13Sep2014:

19/23/382 plays of 9/13/164 total games, with 0/0/21 expansions employed.
Plays with 14/14/72 distinct opponents.

3/3/40 games acquired (plus 0/0/11 expansions.) - 1846: The Race for the Midwest, 1889: History of Shikoku Railways (Doin' the Delighted DTG Dance) and Too Many Cinderellas.
0/0/13 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/6 expansions.)
1/1/17 games ordered (plus 0/0/7 expansions.) - I found my historic play of Concordia adequately compelling, in hindsight.
Orders for 5 games (Concordia plus Wallaces, as it happens) and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With son #2 throughout the week:
1x _7.7_ In the Year of the Dragon (75 months dusty) - I was delighted to discover that this one entertained the youngster. He liked the regularity, and enjoyed the pressure of the incoming events, too. I think the game is likely (significantly) better with more players; but it worked pretty nicely for the two of us.
1x _7.3_ Ys (nearly 10 years dusty) - This amused me: it was distinctly less involved than I'd thought I'd remembered. Which was sort-of-disappointing (though more with me than with the game.) Hisself wasn't particularly amused: I think he might have liked it better without the colour (or distraction; take your pick) of the Character Cards.
2x _7.3_ Long Live the Queen - Oops. He was paying more attention that I was in both of these - and gave me the "You need to try harder than that, Dad" look when the games were done. He's probably right.

Last Sunday with a friend's young daughter
1x _6.7_ Chess (37 months dusty) - My esteemed opponent had hoped, I think, that I was less competent at the game than I in fact am. Sadly, it's something I've played hundreds of times: and even in my dotage, I still have some remaining clues. She has potential, though: her vision could improve, but her clarity of thought is fine.

On Monday with the lunch gang:
1x _7.7_ Isaribi - Another shot at the Japanese Fishing Game. And, again, a better experience than I'd originally had with it. Brian played well, and demonstrated a few mutations that I'd not previously considered. It may well play its way into a semi-regular rotation.

With the Wednesday Night guys:
1x _8.5_ Neuland - Oh, this was excellent. Son #1 would have demolished us all, but no matter: it's a really lovely thing (when played, as it should be! - with the 1st edition rules. Don't even consider the 2nd edition rules.) Lots of opportunity for havoc; charming aesthetics (at least in the 1st edition; I'm not quite as enthusiastic about the 2nd on that count); simple rules. I like it.

At Aliza's friend Andy's place:
1x _?_ Museum Heist - Still in the tuning stage. It has promise: there are several things about it that are quite charming. For the moment, it needs to be clearer about its balance between rules complexity and intended length, I think. I'd've been happy with its current mechanics at a 20 minute duration but would want some addition to the set of decisions if it were intended to take an hour or more.
1x _9_ 1846: The Race for the Midwest - With Aliza and Andy. And it was surprisingly close: I finished within 10% of Aliza's score - and that was surprising! Better still (for me, anyway) I could identify significant errors of timing, placement, and mutation throughout. If I can learn from my errors (and, indeed, I can; though whether the lessons sink in for the next game, or one ten games hence remains to be seen) I may one day have a clue here. Having my own copy can only help. I do better with paper rules than online documents.

And with at least nine different people throughout the week:
10x _7.3_ Too Many Cinderellas New! - It's tremendously cute: a bit of insane deduction mixed in a volatile and capricious soup. It's doesn't (remotely) overstay its welcome, so it's been met with some distinct amusement and approval. It's not great, or anything; but definitely a charming little filler. Thanks, Bruce!

Owned-and-unplayed: 2 (+1/-1) - Too Many Cinderellas arrived; Too Many Cinderellas was played.

Outlook for the week: 1846: The Race for the Midwest with the Wednesday Night guys. Something on Monday. Likely more games with my youngsters (and Too Many Cinderellas wouldn't surprise me at all.)
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10. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:27]
Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Monday night at Y!:

Le Havre 3p

I'm not sure what I was trying to accomplish but... I didn't. In a few months maybe I'll forget how embarrassingly low my final score was.

Le Havre 4p

Yes, we played again. This time I played more coherently and was actually part of the game (even came in second.)



Thursday night at Dave's:

Caverna 5p - me, Dave, John, Kevin, Brian

I went military eearly. The second player to go military was my right-hand opponent. Who never once took Start Player. Fail. Hard fail.

Friday night at Jeremy's:

Caverna 4p - me, Don, Jeremy, Eric (new opponent, relatively new gamer)

No. Just say no. Caverna is a fine game, but not for a new gamer, not at a table of new players, not with 4. We all armored dwarves. We all pondered choices. We all found flaws in our plans and made new ones. The game took 6 hours. Just Say No.

Saturday at Andy's:

Too Many Cinderellas 2x4p - Dave graciously taught us, and assigned me the pink player color. :-)

This is cute; very cute. And it plays in 5 minutes. You have 4 cards, each with 2 parts: a princess with various attributes (age, hair color, beverage of choice, food of choice, etc.) and a rule excluding certain princesses. Play a card, give everyone a chance to secretly use their one veto it (including an extra veto and a remove-veto). Twice around the table, then the last card is flipped up from the deck. Among surviving princesses the lowest number wins, or the lowest sum if none is eligible. (Barring, of course, the rule that inverts the numbers.)

Pretty good for a 7-minute game.

Unpublished Prototype -- Candy's latest set-collector game, a work in progress.

1846 3p - me, Andy, Dave P.

I did a brief refresher as we sat down to play, and stressed that the trains can *move* -- it's not all that uncommon for the first (brown) rank of permanent trains to hit (and trigger a rusting) in OR 2.1, and for the second rank to hit in OR 3.1

In the ISR I got the Tunnel and O&I, and floated the IC at $112 hoping to get a cheap share of something else. Andy with the MS and Mail Contract floated the GT at 90, and Dave with the Chicago token and Big 4 looked at my $76 and took 3 shares at 80 of the NYC. Everyone issued 2 shares; the trains split 2+2, 2+2+2, 3/5+4. However, faced with a distinctly hostile Big 4 the IC ran for only $8 in OR 2.2, still enough for me to realize that I'd made a huge mistake issuing 2 shares. Dave bought a green train even realizing that he would not be able to buy in the Big 4.

I kicked myself mentally as I bought the 2 IC shares out of the market to preserve my piddly stock value; I'd been hoping to spend that money on more profitable shares. Andy and Dave's stock fell as they were unable to clear the market, and that left the IC running first. Issuing 4 shares and a half-pay later, my mistake got the IC to $450 and the first brown train. Big 4 and MS went poof without being bought in.

This was a very poor game with a very open board as a result -- nobody was able to afford to play token games, preferring to issue and half-pay to get gray trains to pair with the browns. All three of us bought paying shares (taking capital out of the companies) instead of floating the C&O or B&O -- even though with a weak and poorly-tokened board either would have been quite viable. Finally we ran out of good paper and floated them - Andy the B&O, Dave the C&O, and I looked at the board and bought out the C&O, fortunately not altering who got second place.

We ended the OR set with about $400 in the bank but decided it was over anyway.

Power Grid: Baden-Wurttenburg 4p - me, Jeremy, John, Andy.

For the first time in a long while we used the Green power plant deck, in mixed mode, and the random shuffle got us fuel-efficient early plants and old-fashioned CO2-belching later plants. We had at least 3 turns where nobody wanted to buy a plant at all, leading to the end-game plants going for about $90. Very odd game.


In other news, tomorrow morning I start my new job. I had multiple offers and the decision turned out to be far harder than I expected; that's all I'm willing to say publicly.
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11. Board Game: Carnival [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:9268]
Board Game: Carnival
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Wednesday
Belle of the Ball - new to us
Carnival - new to us

Thursday
Mille Sabords x3

Got back this afternoon from a quick weekend adventure.

I have, for a while now, wanted to take a weekend away at a little B&B somewhere. While a lovely idea, I've never actually gone through with it. But Sam needed to be back in Ithaca this weekend, and his day would be short enough that it made sense for me to come along, and to have a little place to retreat to in which to wait in case I wanted/needed one. It also meant that he could get a good night's sleep and keep his weekend on track, rather than starting Monday bleary-eyed, and he'd have my company during the drive.

I started my search on hotels.com, but, having lived in Ithaca, I knew there were places that weren't showing up, so I did just a regular Google search, and starting finding more interesting things. I found something within walking distance of the Commons, with unique rooms, and a $40-something discount for last minute booking (last room left).

I have a bunch of photos that I haven't uploaded yet, so I'll just describe it. I think it used to be an Inn originally, and was recently bought and updated. The bathroom had heated stone floors, which both Sam and I fell in love with. There was a rain shower head. Three sides of the room had glass walls, with curtains that could be drawn. The afternoon light was lovely, sitting and reading a book from the local book store, watching people go by below me.

Speaking of the local book store, I got to walk around the Commons and buy a few small things. There's some number about spending locally is equivalent to four times as much(?), because the money recirculates through the community. One of the places was a used clothing store; I'm happy to save some clothing from a landfill, and save a bit of money in the process. I also got a book about eating local at one place, and a book about Anne Boleyn at another.

It rained a bit, and I was glad to be able to walk to a room with a hot shower (and heated floors!) and warm up and dry off. After a bit, I set off again. Sam was done in time for a late dinner, and then we had a nice night's sleep and a light breakfast. Sam had yogurt from grass-fed animals and granola; I had homemade biscotti and lemon ginger tea.

There was a drawing entitled "Phoenix" above the table where we ate breakfast; I snapped a photo. Also, in a cabinet in the sitting area outside of our room, there were books and board games - board games as in Puerto Rico and Endeavor! We talked to one of the guys, and he said they used to have a game night. If we had still been in Ithaca at the time, we could have tried to help make it happen. So we got to talk board games and Star Trek this morning over breakfast.

On our way home, we pulled off onto an exit that we've never been, exploring the town and possible house listings (it's just across the county line, and a bit cheaper there). We found a small organic foods market and browsed for a moment. I told the woman there (who was the owner) that we were looking for houses and checking out the town, and she gave us some good leads.

When we were back home, we drove by a local lake where two swans live, and they were happily swimming in the sunshine, along with a heron, some ducks, and some turtles sunning themselves on rocks and logs.
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12. Board Game: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:1641]
Board Game: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_9_ Archipelago x2
_9_ 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight x1 Out of the Dust!

Board Game: Archipelago

The Week in Review

Two "Top Ten" games got played this week but nothing else.

Archipelago has seen a bit of a Renaissance here with three plays this month, two of them this week. One of those was a play of our "standard" short game, but the other was a medium length game. S felt it went a bit long (but then she forgot her end game condition and let it go an extra turn or even two). I'd like to give the medium game more plays as it does make the chances of rebellion more likely and it takes the game beyond being an exploration game and more about building an economy.

1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight was a mental roller-coaster. I thought I was down and out early, then I thought I had a shot at winning, and then it slid away in the final operating rounds as the FYN chugged away from my NGStL.
From gallery of Lowengrin

I'd play this one four times back in 2012 so I wasn't a complete newb going into it (like Corey). I had an opening strategy...but no back up when JR executed my strategy (by buying the two most expensive privates which later can be surrendered for shares of the IOW or C&N. I'd thought I'd just sit on them and accumulate some cash while Corey and JR started the IOW and/or C&N. Instead, Corey operated the IOW and I ended up with the C&N, while JR collected the early cash from his two private companies.

To shake things up, I then bought into the IWNJ to link it to the C&N lines - but being one share short, I sold one C&N share FORGETTING JR could cash in his private for another C&N share giving him the directorship. As I couldn't be certain JR then wouldn't lay a green tile next to IWNJ's home town of Merstone and block the IWNJ, I dumped my shares of IWNJ (which later went insolvent then bankrupted just as it could buy a train) and bought the NGStL instead as it was already connected to the C&N line (although it was a less well positioned company). At this point, I figured my chances of winning were close to nil. Roller-coaster down.

But then I picked up S&H, plundered it and dumped it with a train that was about to rust. I later picked it back up just before it became solvent with a 9+5 train, but it really couldn't capitalize on it's runs being in such a bad location. I also got the BHI&R (from Corey when he failed to purchase 50% control of the company as he was cash short and wanting to get control of the returned-from-the-grave IWNJ instead.

My shenanigans brought a lot of money into the game and the train rush got really intense towards the end. While I managed to end up with permanent trains on my companies, JR's had one train for three companies and Corey had one for two. At this point, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of winning this one. Roller-coaster up.
From gallery of Lowengrin

But my shenanigans with the other companies allowed JR get 90% control of the FYN which end up running two permanent trains (and was skipping up the stock chart faster than anything) while his other companies sat insolvent and delayed the triggering of nationalization and the end game. FYN finally topped out at the top of the chart and the game ended. Roller-coaster crashed and burned.

Final score:
JR: £12,154
Michael: £11,099
Corey: £7,121

Having now played this one after two years of it collecting dust and being able to compare it to a whole whack of other Series: 18xx games that I've played recently, I still think this one is still my favourite. 1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties is not that far behind though.


The Week Ahead

I may wrap up my geek list tracking Essen '14 games this week as I didn't last week. It's still fairly short.

Unplayed games of note still in shrink: Yunnan, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 and Love Letter.

Unplayed game of note not in shrink: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game.

Preordered games: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game and Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men.
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13. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:198] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Board Game: Imperial Settlers
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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_7_ Imperial Settlers (new!)
_?_ Ninety-Nine (new!)

Ninety-nine: Only played 2 hands, not enough to really get a handle on it, but enough that I'll be able to explain the (very simple) rules easily next time I break it out.

Imperial Settlers... hm. Thoughts from halfway in:
* Egads, that's a miniscule font.
* This is neat! Chainchainchainchainchain.
* Passing early in a round[1] seems like you get to sit around and do nothing for a while. Or go get a snack. Or contemplate how you're probably getting curbstomped.
* Much smoother than I recall 51st state being. And the different faction decks really do result in different playstyles. Nicely done.

Thoughts from the end:
* Man, that was way longer than I wanted it to be.
* Keeping track of other players' tableaus would have been much easier in a 2p game, or if I'd played a number of times already.
* That could be really interesting with 2 players, but I don't think I want to try it with 4 again.

[1] = This didn't happen to me, but did happen to one of the other players nearly every round.

~ ~ ~

Spirit Island testing has been in low-to-middle gear while I do research for details of islander culture, which is one of several blockers on art. Thus far, I have had a much easier time detailing substructure and broad sweeps (eg, clan organization, or how the geology of the island affects their technology and building) than visual details like "what kind of jewelry do they wear?".

I'd really like to have RC0.0 (notional release to GtG playtesters) ready at the end of this week, but world-detailing and art discussions may push that back.

~ ~ ~

Outside of gaming: My wife is going to be away for the week, fairly last-minute. Simultaneously, some friends whose house was flooded are going to be staying with us for the week.
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14. Board Game: Tragedy Looper [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:666]
Board Game: Tragedy Looper
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

_9_ Magic: The Gathering 1
_8_ Tragedy Looper 2 New!
_8_ Chicago Express 1 New!
_6_ Battle Merchants 1 New!

Week in Review

Though I had played Chicago Express on an iPhone app, this was my first chance to play it against real people. It was a 5P game with three absolute newbies, me knowing the rules but not the good gameplay, and a 15-game veteran. The game was more or less over 2/3 through, as the veteran had correctly built an unassailable position, but I enjoyed playing it out. Every turn provided learning opportunities. I wish I had a group to play this repeatedly.

Battle Merchants was unexpectedly cool. It gave me an Outpost vibe. The turns were comprised of small decisions and over time these added up to economic advantage. The cards seem to add a lot of variability which was difficult to assess on a first play. I didn't love it but I think it would go over well for the more economically-minded eurogamer (Aliza!) as a short enjoyable game.

I don't even know what to say about Tragedy Looper. My rating is 100% speculative. The flaws of the game are that it is difficult to learn and teach, is unlikely to realize its potential unless you have a group committed to playing it together multiple times and unavailability of the many Japanese expansions (for additional scenarios and variety). My plays went well but much of that was the excitement of seeing what more is there to discover. I played the learning scenario twice, with two different groups, and it is intentionally simple. Both groups had fun, one person in each group showing particular enthusiasm, but I don't know if I would buy this game. I'd like to believe I could get it played but now that I am up against my game ownership limit (I'm resolved to respect my space issues in their current state), I doubt I would risk having it sit unplayed.
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15. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:451]
Board Game: Carson City
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I didn't get chance to post my plays for last week, so this will cover the last fortnight. Most of these plays were at a gaming retreat in the countryside. There were 16 of us (a couple of non-gamer spouses included) and we managed to get a couple of nice walks in as well as loads of games. Good food too.

-10- Magic: the Gathering (x4)
-10- Agricola
|9| Hansa Teutonica
|9| Terra Mystica (+4 Town Tiles)
-8- Battlestar Galactica (+Pegasus)
-8- Dominant Species
-8- Fauna
-8- Gambit 7
-8- Greed (x4)
-8- Love Letter
-8- Macao
-7.5- Ghost Stories (+The Guardhouse; Jean-Claude van Rice New; Crazy Shaman)
-7- 6 Nimmt! (x3)
-7- Chaos in the Old World (+The Horned Rat)
-7- Concordia
-7- Pictomania
-6- Carson City (+The Indian)
-6- I Betcha
-5- Apples to Apples
-5- Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak New!
N/A Start Player (x2)

Magic was with EDH/Commander decks. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher won three of these games, the fourth we called a draw because a situation occurred that would have taken an age to resolve and we were all hungry. In case you're interested, a Warp World went off, bringing in Confusion in the Ranks and Grip of Chaos along with a load of other Comes Into Play effects...

The Battlestar session was memorable for our mistakes more than anything else. Tim tried to brig Tom, an obvious but technically unrevealed Cylon, but misread which colour of skill cards would help pass the check. He dumped a lot of cards into that check, convinced it would pass easily. When he revealed the cards, he realised his error - he'd put in the cards that made it fail! I had an interesting game as a Cylon Leader (Pegasus rules). I wanted the Cylons to win but the Humans had to have travelled 6 distance. The first part of the game was very quiet, with the Humans doing well. At Distance 4, a huge Cylon fleet amassed and two Centurions boarded. I thought this was all looking very convenient for my win condition: the Humans would jump to 6 thanks to Admiral Cain's Blind Jump ability and then I'd help the Centurions finish them off. However, the Blind Jump turned out to be only 1 distance, leaving us at 5 and I suddenly had to switch sides and start helping the Humans so they could survive to make another jump. The Humans and I lost to advancing Centurions shortly afterwards.

Enjoyable games of Hansa Teutonica, Concordia and Dominant Species with a rare win for me in the latter as Amphibians. I haven't played it with 6 players before and it worked better than I thought it would despite everyone having fewer actions. I took out the cards that gain Action Pawns to make for a shorter game as there were two new players. Wasteland caught them by surprise a couple of times - they wasted actions adapting to elements that then left the board later in the round. I did try to warn them about this possibility but I guess there's a lot to take in on a first play.

Chaos in the Old World was with the expansion cards, which I enjoy more than the base game as I think they open up more options. Khorne's Bloodletter upgrade is still annoyingly powerful. This game Nurgle got off to a great start, double ticking on a few turns and he ended up winning on the dial, which is unusual. I was playing Slaanesh and almost managed to catch up but an aggressive Tzeentch killed off some of my key Cultists.

With 18 plays of Greed, I've seen one particular Thug-based strategy win more often than others. It could be I'm ready for an expansion to shake things up, but it's probably a matter of everyone hate-drafting against it. It's fun the first couple of times you can pull it off, but it just keeps winning.

One game we managed to play with all 16 people was I Betcha.... Everyone gets a card with three strange tasks listed on it and you have an hour or two to try and complete as many of them as possible without someone calling you on it. We played it over dinner. This time, the tasks included things like "ask a riddle", "dance like a ballerina", "give a shoulder rub to someone who is not your spouse". It's funny to see how people’s behaviour changes during this game but with a big group of gamers, everyone became really suspicious of everything anyone said or did. Some people stopped talking altogether, others talked a lot more than normal to provide cover for their tasks. Tom won after managing to successfully quote from the Bible and not get caught. He pulled it off with that Samuel L. Jackson bit from Pulp Fiction.

More successful was Ghost Stories on Nightmare level - my first win at that difficulty. This was mostly thanks to the Guardhouse tile which enabled us to see which ghosts were going to come up and collect the appropriate coloured tokens. The Buddha temple was out of the game and we initially thought that was a big deal, but actually we didn't miss it, making us think that our over-reliance on Buddhas was holding back our potential. The final Incarnation was Jean-Claude van Rice who gives you a tasty apple when you defeat him.

I got a couple of plays of Carson City in and it's still a game that puzzles me. In the first game, Phil won easily by making lots of money on turn 3 when he had the Banker (high cash limit), then collecting all the guns on turn 4 so we couldn't contest the spaces he claimed. I guess the response to that should have been to use the Sheriff on the $>VP conversion space but nobody thought of that at the time. He won by a mile. In the second game, Kate was successful by owning lots of buildings and mountains. I don't know what it is about this game - there seem to be lots of different approaches that work here but I always find myself flailing for something productive to do. Long term plans seem easily thwarted by duels so I shy away from them but opportunistic play hasn't worked too well for me either. I need some strategy tips for this one.

In one of the Love Letter games, I managed to pull off what is known locally as the 'Dark Clown'. This is where you play a Knight on someone when you only have a Clown in hand. It's not often it works, and it's only worth trying if you haven't seen many Soldiers played, but it's hilarious when it pays off. "What?! Why would you do that?" surprise Unfortunately, the look on the face of a player who has just been knocked out by a Clown is sometimes enough to indicate which card you have and so you lose to the next Soldier. Great game!
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16. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:882] [Average Rating:6.82 Unranked]
Board Game: Animal Upon Animal
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 37:
1x _7.8_ Agricola
1x _7.4_ Animal Upon Animal
2x _7.2_ Eruption
2x _7.8_ Suburbia w/ Inc.
2x _8.0_ Yedo

A great haul of games from a weekend without the kids.

The Week in Review:
Monday through Wednesday have been hellish round these parts so in terms of gaming the week begins on Thursdays... unfortunately V. had some problems with her eyes (eye migraine) so she had to stay at home.

Thursday with the SP (Søhusparken) gang:
Our "usual" opener - a game of farm building, cattle raising and wheat. It was a strange game. I ended as I began, with just 2 family members. Instead I had a lot of animals and plenty of crops. The game was a tie between I. and I.

No huge fan of Agricola I will never become, but it has been interesting to explore the game a few times now with 3 players.

We then played one of the games I had brought - Eruption. This game is easy to teach and plays quick. There is a decent amount of take-that interaction, so it is always difficult to determine beforehand if it will go down well. I think it went ok.

In the first game no-one attacked each other, instead going for the neutrals. Our second game was much more hard-fought. Both games went to J.

I am not sure I will be bringing it next time though.

Saturday we had company planned in the afternoon, a friend from Uni, his girlfriend and their 6 month-old child by the wonderful name of Atlas. It was quite a surprise to get to talk about games with them and naturally I showed them Animal Upon Animal which would also be perfect for little A. in a few years time (or some of the many other great HABA games.

They wanted to give it a go and were overjoyed by it. Ju. in particular was very focused.

In the morning we had a 2-game session, V. and I, with Suburbia. We always play with the expansion though we rarely manage to get any of the bonus' from the challenges.

The first game was very tight with me sneaking the win, coming from behind and scoring heavily on goals. Our second game was a blow-out win for me with V. never really getting anything going.

Sunday we had to ourselves and we spent it in the delightful company of Yedo. It is a game that we enjoy a great deal. We get into the spirit of the (pasted-on) theme and crow when we succeed in stealing the church donation box or steal weapons from the market. It just works for us.

Both games saw me come out on top, though I had a scare in the first game when I seemed to be lagging behind and spent an entire round doing nothing as I had the steal from the church before buying in the market. V. then bought the weapon I needed and the rest of my actions were thus rendered moot.

The Week Ahead:
This bit feels like cheating since we are already halfway through the working week for us. Games were planned, even with the hectic Uni schedule.

Now, as luck would have it - or the chemistry of my body - I succumbed to the pressure of an overloaded schedule and broke. Today I have cancelled the extra classes and will instead be focusing on doing the regular ones plus a little bit of extra on the side if and when I have the desire to do so.

I can already feel the load on back easing...
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17. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:817]
Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish!
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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Looking after a friend's four year old for an afternoon, gave me the opportunity to try out some games.

Hey, That's My Fish! was probably a little advanced - (While he's an avid player of video games, analogue was a new experience - I found out after he had just started playing Memory pairs) but he's a bright and highly enthusiastic child and I thought he would manage.

He enjoyed setting up together and after a few repeats of the rules we got started. He understood the concept of collecting fish and removing tiles really well, but it took a few turns before he would routinely move his penguins in a single straight line - he wanted to do a couple of slides. He enjoyed counting each of our fish piles every turn shouting out who was winning - this took some towards the end especially once he reached the 50s - 60s . His favourite part of the game was trapping three of my penguins (and one of his) in the ice.

Next we played Loopin' Louie which was declared 'the best game ever', and given he's not quite ready for Agricola, I had to agree. We started with one flicker each, but after a short while we were playing two vs two. We were still playing 20 minutes later when we were joined by my 2 year old, and his dad.

Today I'm off to the pre-release of the new Magic: The Gathering set release - Khans of Tarkir - a loosely Mongolian/Chinese themed set with some great art and flavour but rather dull mechanics. I love sealed format and the three colour wedge cards are new to me, so should be a good event.

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