GCL Phoenix 210 - And the Oscar goes to... (11 January 2015)
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League
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1. Board Game: Outburst! [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:5479]
Board Game: Outburst!
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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Now that 2014 is in the books, what are your top games of the year? Do you have a full TOP TEN list or maybe only a single favorite?

Share with the group. Tell us why!
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2. Board Game: Diabolical Doomsday Designers [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game Designer: Stefan Feld
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Did any game designers stand out to you this year? Did anyone release multiple great games, or maybe someone surprised you by doing something you loved when you never cared for their work previously? Or did a designer you like finally jump the shark?
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3. RPG Item: Class Expansions: Achievement Unlocked! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
RPG Item: Class Expansions: Achievement Unlocked!
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Was there any game that stood out for something other than being your favorite? Did any game have amazing components or interesting mechanisms you have never seen before?
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4. Board Game: Chantilly: Jackson's Missed Opportunity [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Board Game: Chantilly: Jackson's Missed Opportunity
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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What game (or games) have you not yet played from 2014 that you most want to play?
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5. Board Game: Panamax [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:588]
Board Game: Panamax
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island x 3

One thrilling win (scenario 3) and 2 frustrating losses (scenario 3, 4) with the wife. This game is a nice change of pace, and it was good to play a cooperative game again.

Panamax x 3

We loved this enough to play it 3 times consecutively. I lost all 3, but in one of the games I was in position to win at the very end and gave it away. I'm pretty smitten with this, I really want to play it with 4.

Bruges w/City on the Zwin x 1

I thought I had a slam dunk, but ended up winning by a single point: 62-61.

Troyes w/Ladies of Troyes x 1

I won this weird, cash-poor game 42-38-35.

Dominant Species x 1

2-player game with Kat, 3 animals each. Long and awesome. Your score is that of your lowest-scoring animal, and I won 94-91. The final scoring was nerve-wracking and tense. I thought she had won for sure. My birds had 94 to her mammals' 91. On the other end, her Arachnids had the high score by about 10 (~125).

Snowdonia x 1

We played the Zugspitzbahn scenario with the cable car and snow instead of fog. I pulled a coup in the last round, taking both gathering actions while she took lay track and convert. I won 142-87

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6. Board Game: Ubongo 3-D [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1402]
Board Game: Ubongo 3-D
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 10Jan2015:

13/23/23 plays of 10/18/18 total games, with 1/2/2 expansions employed.
Plays with 11/17/17 distinct opponents.

1/1/1 games acquired (plus 0/0/0 expansions.) - Ta Yü.
0/0/0 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
2/2/2 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.) - Ta Yü and Yavalath.
Orders for 7 games and 3 expansions still outstanding.

With family:
1x _8_ Ubongo 3-D - This is definitely my favourite Ubongo; and playing with my three youngsters is extra fun. As y'all might know, many Ubongo (including this one) have two difficulty settings: lovely daughter #1 played the easy side for most of the game - she switched to the hard side for the last three boards since she was overwhelmingly ahead of the rest of us (all playing, less effectively, on the hard side.) I suspect that all of us are stuck on the hard side now: the boys won't let her win quite so easily the next time.
1x _7_ Yavalath - We've been playing using the Android app - part of the reason I ordered a "real" copy: the youngsters enjoy it sufficiently to play elsewhere than on a restaurant table after placing an order. This one was that latter: and worked nicely with son #2 pulling out the victory.
1x _7.7_ Paperback - Son #1 was off visiting friends, so the rest of us pulled this out: it works very nicely for the lot of us - since we're all vaguely-or-more familiar with the deck-building pattern, and are all fans of word gzmes.
2x _7.3_ Ta Yü New! - After buying this (a bit nostalgically: I found myself tempted to buy it ten or twelve years ago, and could never find a copy - at least with the blue-and-white tiles: the red were occasionally available - in stock at any of my Regular Stores. When this copy presented itself, it seemed quite appealing. On play, it was charming to see Niek Neuwahl's ideas from Aztec revisited and refreshed in a rather different game. Aztec is too hard for most folk on which I've inflicted it: it's a lovely thing, but - like many pure abstracts - is more than a bit unforgiving. The randomness of the tile draw in this one make it much more generously accessible, while still permitting some cleverness: it's a cool thing.
1x _7.7_ よくばりキングダム (Yokubari kingudamu 'Greedy Kingdoms') - Son #2 and I then played three of our favourites from last year. He annihilated me in the other two, while I eked out a close win in this one. All three have that "I can't drink the wine in front of you!" doublethink character: and, usually at least, he does better at knowing what I'm planning than I do with the reverse.
1x _8_ Elements - I'm quite fond of this one: both for presentation (Yeah; I know: Skip-Bo cards work too. Pthttt.) and for entertaining game play. I love the play of probability, doublethink and constraint here.
3x _7.3_ R - And this one is likely son #2's favourite of the three. It was likely his most-requested game last year - even if we only owned it for a couple months. And he's better at it (at least agains the rest of his family) than any of the rest of us, too.

With the Lunch bunch:
1x _7.7_ Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - The conceit of choosing who will play your card in this one is delightfully warped. It leads to some particularly bizarre and rather entertaining patterns of play that I don't tend to see in other trick-taking games of my acquaintance. In any event, I really enjoyed this one.
1x _7.7_ Njet - Then a fifth arrived - and since Dr.J&c only plays Exactly With Four, we needed to switch. was also a possibility with this set (and seriously considered, too); but we decided to go with Njet instead. It was fun - even if a bit more comfort-gamy than I normally find the other title. Except, of course, when the scoring is inverted: and then this really comes in to its own!

With the Wednesday Night gang:
1x _7.7_ Clash of Cultures (with New! Civilizations) - Quite delightful with the expansion: I liked it a lot. (Which might even be significant: I don't employ a lot of expansions in general play.)

In our previous games, we've seen quite a lot of groupthink: where each of our civilizations develops, expands and mutates in similar directions. With the different civs (and leaders) to start, we saw a dramatically different set of (viable!) patterns, which was charming. I'll be delighted to play this again.

Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+1/-1) - Ta Yü arrived and was promptly played.

Outlook for the week: I'll likely have the Wednesday Night gang at my place this week. I'm vaguely tempted to play several shorter titles (instead of the one large one); but we'll see how that goes. I'll likely get a few games with my youngsters and a game or two with the Lunch Gang; but otherwise? No idea.
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7. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:469]
Board Game: Snowdonia
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Snowdonia x1
Played the Blaenau Ffestiniog expansion for the first time with my three kids. Oldest son started on one side of the mountain with me, while youngest son and daughter were on the other. I gave daughter some minor assistance, but maybe too much, as she won with a total of 69, youngest son 52m oldest son 49 and I missed a few opportunities (stupid event cubes! Heh.) and only had 43.

_6_ Cherry Picking x1
Another one round only game with oldest son and daughter. I picked up 61 points, son 53, daughter 34.

_8_ Citrus x1
My daughter joined me for Urbana Free Library game day event and this was the first game we brought out. Will was interested in this and had already read the rules, but it was totally new to Lisa and Dave. As I hoped, the game was learned easily and Lisa won with 75, while my daughter was close at 69, Will managed 59, I had 56, and Dave 54.

_9_ Red7 x2
Two separate sessions at Urbana Library. First session was my daughter, Will, Dave, and myself and we played three hands I think, advanced canvas rule taught. Second session was Caleb and Mindy joining Will and my daughter/myself for a round.

_8_ Deep Sea Adventure x1
My daughter was exicted to teach this to Will, who of course didn't make it back to the ship on the first day... and neither did I. Oops. In the end, daughter won with 32, I managed to get 21 while Will had 17.

_7_ Snow Tails x1
With the cold winter weather this was a seasonal option and we played a short game to get the rules down. I took four dents but ended up winning, with Mindy close behind, and my daughter (with a decent amount of help from me, as she had trouble figuring out her options) managed to just sneak ahead of Will for the finish.

_8_ The Palaces of Carrara x1
My wife and I pulled this out, and I managed to get a rush suprise ending in, winning 84 to 51, but if the game had gone longer she would have blown past me.

_7_ Macao x1
While I enjoy Castles of Burgundy, I've been looking for additional options so we can rotate things a bit more nicely. We had tried this a few months ago as a four player game with both boys and it was ok but didn't engage my wife quite as much as CoB. This time we tackled it just the two of us and the experience was very nice. After a short rules review the game played fairly quickly. In the end I won 81 to her 69, but it was fairly tied until we scored the city quarters, where I built up a much longer connected string than she did. There wasn't much competition for the wall; she started with it, I took it over in the second or third round and held it for over half the game, then she took it over and by that point I didn't need the turn order as much. Neither of us had to take a punish marker which I thought was a good sign that we both understand the game enough that we don't make silly mistakes.
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8. Board Game: Paperback [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:432]
Board Game: Paperback
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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__8__ Paperback (new!)
__6__ Mexica

Mexica can be roughly described as "partition a map into areas; have an area-majority competition within each such area", with additional interest from "you can only act an area you're in" - getting from one place to another is critical, and the rules around water travel vital if you don't want to constantly blow 5/6 of your turn teleporting. Spending actions on movement means you're not spending them on development (either forming areas or competing over them by adding buildings), so you want to spend as little effort on transit as possible.

I can recall a time when I would have loved this game. The spatial aspect is really appealing, the buildings you use to claim areas also block movement (further enhancing the spatial aspect) and vary in size (meaning someone who's filled half the spaces in an area isn't necessarily winning it).

These days, I'm less jazzed, simply because my tastes have changed. I still enjoy playing it (and might be interested to see what happens playing multiple times with the same group, so we could learn from each others' dirty tricks), but the gestalt doesn't excite me as much as other games do.

Paperback was a pleasant not-quite-surprise. (Not-quite because of the commendation of other Phoenixes.) Any non-timed word-making game is an AP danger, but the table I was playing with was really good about playing promptly rather than seeking perfection out of each hand. I tend to be more fond of word games which encourage longer / awesome 25-cent words (Prolix, Bananagrams, Tisby) rather than rewarding lots of smaller boring words (Scrabble[1], Boggle, Quiddler), and Paperback certainly falls on the good side of that line.

For those who've played this more: with experience, do you start shooting for combos of particular 2-letter pairs that you've pre-figured work well together? Or does the variability in when cards are available (and what other letters are in your deck) make it less pre-calculated than that?

[1] = To be fair, among experienced/good Scrabble players, 7-tile bingos play a large role. I'm not there. Most Scrabble I've played has been decided by using bonus spaces well more than interesting words.

~ ~ ~

Spirit Island has been handed off to >G. I'll remain involved, but much more lightly, and will no longer being the one making file updates and pushing them out to playtesters. It feels good. (Both where the game is, and letting go of the reins.)

~ ~ ~

Outside of gaming: Our household's had an energy-sapping, throat-attacking headcold this past week, which has made everything a bit harder. Happily, the Spirit Island handoff means I've had more free time to sleep. Since I've started feeling better, I've gotten my workroom half-clean, which is tidier than it's been in almost half a year.
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9. Board Game: Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:359] [Average Rating:7.98 Unranked]
Board Game: Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_7_ Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients x2 New!
_6_ Machi Koro x1 New!
_9_ Mage Knight Board Game x1 Out of the Dust!


The Week in Review

Really not a bad week at all for gaming. Somehow we managed to tear P away from whatever he usually does for three nights - something that hasn't happened in a few years.
Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game

Mage Knight Board Game with just him and me was a bit of a relearning experience. It was certainly good to get it back to the table and interesting to compare it to the other adventuring game we played this week, Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients. Mage Knight is certainly the more intelligent game with a much higher decision-making per action ratio than the die-rolling RPG-lite that Shadows. But what it makes up in intelligence it lacks in just pure entertainment.


After two nights of Shadows, my first (but not necessarily biggest) complaint about the game is the book-keeping. I don't mind keeping the gold and experience points tracked on paper, but I am a bit annoyed that the levelling up bonus abilities also need to be tracked on paper because there are no cards or chits for them. My other complaint is (now was) the amount of time required to glue the characters and creatures together.

But my biggest complaint is the combat. The system is okay, but I think the way Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game has varying behaviours for the creatures is more interesting. All the monsters in Shadows chose targets, move and then attack in the same way. And move so fast that it's impossible to pull off any sort of fighting withdrawl. But that's not my biggest beef with combat - my bigger beef is the number of creatures encountered. I'd have much preferred a game with more encounters that triggered skill checks and fewer creatures of better abilities. Basically less combat, but with tougher foes and greater obstacles.

That said, I have enjoyed playing Shadows. Although I've had little luck getting either S or P to do much role-playing. It's too bad, because I think it'd add another layer to what is really a pretty shallow game. The question now is: do I want to drop another bundle of cash to pick up the other base set, Swamps of Death.
Board Game: Machi Koro


Machi Koro's not a bad, little game. It certainly plays quick though I think it could get samey fast. But then I guess that's why there are expansions. Still, I imagine S and I will get a number of games out of it before it gets relegated to the back shelf.


The Week Ahead

P, SH and I are set to play one lunch hour this week, but beyond that, no plans.

Unplayed games of note still in shrink: Yunnan, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. Also two expansions The Road Darkens and The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill.
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10. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:86]
Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

_8_ Roll for the Galaxy 3 New!
_8_ AquaSphere 2 New!
_8_ Eldritch Horror 1
_8_ Carnival Zombie 1
_6_ Arkwright 1 New!

Week in Review

A week with three new games worthy of being a header for my list item.

Roll for the Galaxy was a very pleasant surprise. I love Race for the Galaxy a lot. I read the rulebook some months ago and was convinced I wanted to get the game before I had played it or seen reviews. But still I was not sure I would be satisfied with it. But it was very fun! It's not as good as Race for the Galaxy, but very importantly it's different. If you've played Race, you will recognize much of what is here and note the obvious differences. But what sneaks up on you are the differences in how the game plays, and these are completely different from concrete rules differences like the Consume/Trade phase (called Shipping in the dice game) coming before the Produce phase. If you think you know how to win this because you've played RftG, think again. If you liked learning to be good at RftG, I think you'll like this too. Very positive feedback from the four people I've taught thus far.

My copy of AquaSphere from the KickStarter campaign arrived and was played this week, then again the next day. This game reminds me of a category of Feld games that includes Trajan, Luna and Amerigo. The actions you can take in the game are not complicated to understand, but doing them when you want is not as simple as choosing. The game has systems in place that must be respected before you can select an action and sequencing actions in a specific way requires careful planning. Of those mentioned, this is my favorite thus far and is one of the best Feld games I've played. I am cautious because I felt as bullish on Trajan initially and cooled to it over time.

Arkwright was something of a disappointment. I went in expecting little, as stock/economic games are not traditionally my thing. All four of us were very enthusiastic about the game after two rounds. By the end of the fourth round, we were all less convinced. The game became too dominated by fiddly, busywork calculations; we all agreed that we liked the game but not as a six-hour experience. I think this game would be tremendous fun in two hours but I doubt even an experienced player could make careful, informed decisions in that time frame. You simply have to work out too many variables on each action. Also, the events are too swingy for my taste and seem out of keeping with the rest of the game. I feel like this game is better than a 6, but I have little desire to play it again so apparently I don't like it that much after all.
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11. Board Game: Dodge Dice [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:15498]
Board Game: Dodge Dice
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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We always have time for the things we put first.
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Last night we played 3 games of Dodge Dice, our first gaming in a while. It's been busy here, cleaning and painting and such things. We had a coating of ice yesterday, but today was quite nice.
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12. Board Game: Greenland [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1928] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Board Game: Greenland
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Agricola (+France deck) (x2)
|9| Terra Mystica (+Fire & Ice; 4 Town tiles)
|9| Goa
|9| Love Letter
-7- 7 Wonders (+Cities; Wonder Pack) (x2) (+Leaders)
-7- Colt Express (x2)
-7- Dragon Run
-7- Greenland New!
-7- Heimlich & Co.
-7- Kingsburg
-7- Libertalia
-6- Clubs (x2)
-3- World of Tanks: Rush New!
N/A Start Player (x2)

We all agreed that Greenland would be a learning game so nobody was taking it too seriously. It went well – the first few turns were very slow as we made sure we weren't missing anything but after that it picked up speed. Jake's population was decimated early on but he had time to recover. Mine was decimated late in the game and I spent the last couple of turns with only a couple of hunters, desperately trying to bag a seal. It constantly evaded capture! Jake and Kate had an abundance of fuel thanks to their colonists in Markland while my Norse struggled to find enough to promote elders or feed their sheep. In future games, I think I'd try and send at least a couple of cubes over to the New World for the easy fuel. I collected lots of ivory and iron and it was easy to turn Monotheist with all my elders dying off to various events. Jake also turned monotheistic and turn order advantage allowed him to send a representative to my tribe. This made him tied for the win with Kate, who had remained polytheistic and had a handful of trophy points, despite my best efforts to convert her tribe. We couldn't find a tie-breaker rule in the book.

I liked it and look forward to playing again. I've a better idea what I should be doing now and there are some areas of the game which we didn't explore the first time. We did very little in the way of raiding each other but there are probably interesting options available there.

One of the Agricola games saw me successfully use Convict Number 24601, which seems like it will be a one-off. It's an Occupation that stops you from taking actions with one of your family members for the rest of the game but you get 2 bonus points per round from the turn you play it. I got 14 points out of it and managed the disadvantage using the Grotto to provide space for an extra family member. Even with those bonuses it was a close game, with only one point in it at the end.

I tried the Shapeshifters in Terra Mystica and they seemed distinctly over-powered. We used the rules as written, although I understand the designers are testing out some fixes to tone them down. Gaining extra tokens directly into power bowl 3 whenever someone takes power from your builds is amazing; being able to change your favoured terrain type is extremely useful and getting VPs for doing so is icing on the cake. Playing this faction felt like cheating. What were the playtesters thinking?

It was good to get Goa back to the table after a couple of years' absence. After a slow start, not winning anything in the first round, I foolishly went for a money and spices approach, hoping to be able to buy my way out of trouble in the auction. I struggled for ships for much of the game and lost out to more expedition track-focussed strategies (as usual). We played with the classic rules so expedition cards were still as strong as ever. Next time I might look into trying it with some of the new rules to see if lowering the power of those cards makes the game a bit fairer.

Heimlich & Co. was hilarious. Mike basically revealed himself as the orange agent on the first move and made himself a big target. Whenever his agent could be moved to the ruins for negative points, we did it. We were playing with the variant whereby you have to write down at the halfway point which colour agent you think is controlled by which player. After we'd reached this stage, the game became all about screwing each other over. Although orange went into the second half with a massive points deficit, there was so much picking on the leading agents going on that Mike was able to catch up and overtake most of them. I decided to end the game by pushing orange over the finish line while my agent was in second place, hoping that my guesses were better than Mike's. It turned out well for him: since he no longer had to worry about hiding which colour he was, he had been concentrating very hard on watching which agents everyone else moved and had worked out perfectly who everyone was. 5 points for each correct guess put him way out in the lead and gave him the win. He was very pleased.

We played his new copy of World of Tanks: Rush but it was unfortunately a dud. The idea is to buy tanks and other soldiers, then attack your opponents' tanks and bases with them to score VPs. It's yet another in a long line of deck building games that hasn't learned from its predecessors. In this one you have a hand of three cards, so there's little to do on your turn (on the plus side, this makes turns very quick). The cards you can buy are in a random row, of which one card is replenished each turn, and we found there was often nothing you could afford early on. The game started off at a crawl, as we all struggled to do anything with our decks. This part was really tedious and should have been dealt with during development – the game needs to play faster at the beginning or it gives an instant bad impression. One player bought several attack cards, which mostly came up by chance on his turn and weren't available for others. These forced everyone else to discard a card and there was at least one turn where everyone else started with no cards in hand and had to effectively pass. Boring!

Your starting deck comes with a card that allows you to make multiple buys on your turn, but in the early game you can't afford multiple cards even if they fortuitously happen to be available on your turn and later in the game you'd prefer the more expensive, better tanks, not multiple small ones. So this card seems of marginal use for most of the game and we all looked to trash it as soon as we could.

There are no generic cards you can always buy (like Silver in Dominion or SHIELD Officers in whichever one of the superhero comic games has them) and I think World of Tanks misses them. Too much luck of the draw on what's available each turn, too little control over what's in your deck. There's also a thematic disconnect in that the rules don't really encourage you to concentrate on one nation's tanks, you can happily collect Russian, French, German and US tanks in the same deck. You can only attack with one nation at a time but that's not a big enough incentive to specialise, especially when you might not have a choice of what to buy. My tactic was to buy whatever small tank I could afford each turn and attack other tanks whenever I could to win medals from that nation (worth VPs and coins). My deck was a bloated pile of nonsense but it seemed to work and I won with 50% more VPs than the second place player. It was a 5-player game, so maybe it's better with 2 or 3 but I'm not keen to try it again. It's pure franchise cash-in: I can see fans of the computer game buying it, playing it once, then returning to their screens. For people who don't know the original online game, there's no reason to suffer through this cardboard version. I'm amazed it has already received expansions - who's buying this?

Kingsburg was a close contest. Those of us who went for Farms were screwed when the King sent us a measly number of troops in the third winter (we were playing base game rules), while those who built up strong defences came out on top. There was a lot of cut-throat blocking going on, so I thought myself lucky to come a close third behind the two military players. I built the Embassy but too late for it to be effective. I only get to play this when Kate's not around as she hates it, but I quite enjoy it, possibly more because it feels like a treat.
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13. Board Game: Kanban: Driver's Edition [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:166]
Board Game: Kanban: Driver's Edition
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I made it to my first Rugby on Board of the New Year. Stuart had brought Kanban: Driver's Edition and asked for volunteers, warning us that it was long and complex. That sounded like just my sort of thing so jumped in.

The set up took ten minutes and the very clear rules explanation took a further forty. This is a game with lots of components with a lengthy initial set up and a certain amount of turn to turn upkeep.

The game has a worker placement, resource and set collection mechanic at its core. You play car designers competing for recognition within a car manufacturer, collecting designs, pushing your car concepts for testing and building while being hampered by a difficult senior administrator called Sandra, who rewards or punishes according to her seemingly arbitrary criteria (you have the option of a nice or mean Sandra, - we went with nice - I think mean would prove punishing).

You have one placement each turn, moving to various areas within the company following each stage of the production process from initial concept to final build, with turn order dictated by a reverse of this production line order.

There are limited spaces available so at least in a 4 player game only two players will be able to spend time to carry out 1/4 actions in each section with the first player taking the cherry pick of available resources/points scoring opportunities, while the second getting an additional action in that area. You cannot stay in the same section move to move, and your worker stays on the board rather than coming home again limiting available actions (though there are some Wild spaces available in administration allowing emergency actions, though with last pick and reduced time). 'Sandra' further hampers your plan of action, moving along the board blocking spaces and rewarding/punishing in her area.

While the board state initially looks overwhelming, the turn by turn choices available are limited. The tension of the game is in trying to work out which spaces will be available in the following turns and ensure you have the correct car parts, designs, and the time to take advantage of empty spaces, all the while taking advantage of turn-to turn points bonuses, end game scoring targets, Sandra rewards/punishments and preventing other players from succeeding/hampering your plans.

This was not the brainburner I feared it might be, and while fiddly, once the machine was in motion and we had ironed out some of the rule,s it was fairly intuitive. There is a lot to track, particularly with an eye to end game scoring, but the iconography and board states are clear and can be read without too much difficulty.

I really enjoyed it, coming second in a game with a fairly wide distribution of scores. I had spent the last couple of turns trying to build the necessary number of cars to trigger a scoring round missing out on more lucrative actions. I also neglected to train and certify my designer, missing out on end game scoring opportunities.

It feels quite different from other games I've played recently, (perhaps most reminiscent of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar?). While I'm not a fan of the theme (colour is about the only thing I know about cars, and somewhat at odds with the environmental message of the designer's C02?!) the theme ties beautifully into the game's mechanics and you do feel immersed within the world.

One complaint, while the Sandra mechanic is clever, the rewards were near impossible to meet, and un-relating to game play, the character itself of a busybody female administrator with wild mood swings may be seen as another example of the everyday sexism present in many game designs. I'm sure many will find it amusing, or simply not worthy of comment, I found it unpleasant.

Overall, a meaty (3 hour) game experience, very enjoyable and looking forward to playing again. Provisional 8.5/10

The succinct review
There is a lot going on.
It was fun.
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