GCL Mafia 216: What's The Point?
Charlie Theel
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the GCL wikiand/or the Mafia wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

Our current roster in order of preparation (next week's poster in bold):

Thesp
Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
Beloch
Happymrdave
captainraffi
fdubois
touchstonethefool
bobcatpoet
charlest

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of March 9-15, 2015. List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions. Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

Rules for the list are:
1) A weekly game is spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.

2) Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.

3) A top five question is posed by the previous poster and answered by the current poster. These top fives are usually game-related, but can include other topics as well.
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1. Board Game: Jenga [Average Rating:5.60 Overall Rank:11270]
Board Game: Jenga
Charlie Theel
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St. Louis
Missouri
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Yes, Jenga is my choice for this week's featured game. I chose it because I wanted to choose a dexterity game that many may have played and I chose a dexterity game because it tied into the theme of this list and what I'd like to talk about.

So, you had to have played this at some point. What do you think? Did it make you swear off dexterity games? Surprisingly enjoyable? Still ever play it occasionally?

What other dexterity games have you played and how did you feel about them? Should every gamer own a dexterity game?

Have you played the fantastic RPG Dread that uses a Jenga tower as a resolution system? Gimmick or did you actually enjoy it?
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2. Board Game: WHY?! [Average Rating:5.29 Unranked]
Board Game: WHY?!
Charlie Theel
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So we're all here on BGG pretty much every day. Why do you play games? What's the point? Why not another hobby? What satisfaction does this hobby give you that others lack? What keeps you coming back?

You ever question whether games are still doing it for you anymore? Ever lose interest or find yourself overwhelmed to where you contemplate giving it up?
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3. Board Game: Show & Tell Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Show & Tell Game
Charlie Theel
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Random question, but any good gaming stories featuring something absurd or off the wall? Ever game with a person or group of people that resulted in behavior that made your jaw drop? Ever game with a woman wearing a purple dinosaur costume in the middle of an FLGS on a week night?
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4. Board Game: Boredom: The Dismal Anti-Game for 1 to 3 Players [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Boredom: The Dismal Anti-Game for 1 to 3 Players
Charlie Theel
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Doing two top five lists this week due to two different topics. The first, from Grace:

Quote:
Top five most boring games you've ever played (even if it was just once).
5. BANG!
I've had good games of BANG! but most have been a bit sub-par. This comes to mind pretty quickly because of the 6 player game I was in where I never got a turn. Shot, then Jailed, then Shot a couple more times. Fuck you BANG!

4. Harbour
Talked about this one a few weeks ago but just ugghh. Spent an hour bouncing back and forth between two locations, buying a building as soon as I could. So mind numbing and dull and the only saving grace was that I got a laugh out of the fact that I won.

3. Colonial: Europe Empires Overseas
Oh damn this one is dull. It's an expansion, conquest, economic game that's had its teeth extracted. The programmed phase idea is cool but slow. Everything about this game is just slow like it was dropped on its head when it was an infant design.

2. Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft
Only one play several years ago when it first came out and I was so disappointed. Ravenloft was my jam but this game was just dull. Encounters are all negative, the game always keeps you mindlessly advancing and not caring which path you take since it's all the same, and the stupid tiles are meaningless. No color, no soul.

1. Castle Panic
I played this at a game day in like 2009 and was let down. First, we played with 5 people I think and I found myself just not caring. Turns were slow due to discussion, people were trying to play my cards for me, and I just didn't care. How can you not care in a tower defense game? Every turn should be tense and you should always be on the edge of your seat. I needed a recliner.







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5. Board Game: The Big Fix [Average Rating:2.64 Unranked]
Board Game: The Big Fix
Charlie Theel
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This one's funny because I don't want to insult another designer or act like I know more than someone else who is intimately familiar with their own work. So if someone comes across this, Jeffrey made me do it (I do think it's an interesting idea for a list though).

Quote:
Top Five Games That Have One Fatal Flaw You Can Totally Fix.
Ok, so I think I can only come up with 1 game actually meeting this criteria. I'm going to take the list in a slightly different direction out of necessity. Most of the items here have a glaring flaw I think I could improve, but it's not fatal. Most of them I actually really like the game. No game's perfect though.

Also, of course, none of these are playtested and just ideas that I think are likely solutions.

5. Xia - Legends of a Drift System
I'm a big fan of this game. However, in Xia you lose a turn if you die while flying a Tier 2 or 3 ship. I think any mechanic which has you missing turns is...well, not a good mechanic. People have suggested different alternatives like losing a Fame (victory) Point - which I think is awful, and no one has a great fix. My solution? There should be an additional deck of cards called "Conditions". You draw a Condition card when you die. Conditions have lasting penalties that can be bought off by spending credits. You're of course not required to buy them off and can live with the penalty if you so desire.

So you could draw stuff like:
Leaking Core - Buyoff: 6,000 CR
At the end of your turn lose 2 Energy.

Broken Rig - Buyoff: 5,000 CR
Subtract 1 from all Mining Rolls.

Weakened Hull Integrity - Buyoff: 6,000 CR
When you take damage take 1 additional point of damage.

4. Pitch Car
Pitch Car is pretty awesome. My big complaint is the rules tell you to do a test lap for each car called a Time Trial to set the pole position of the cards. This sucks, it takes longer than the game if you're playing with 5+ people and it's boring as hell. Don't do it. Instead randomly determine pole position and then there should be a deck of special powers where 2 + total number of players cards are dealt to the table face up. Each player drafts 1 card from this public offer starting with the person in the worst starting position. These are 1 use abilities like "Take a second flick", "Switch positions with a player 1 place ahead of you further up track", or "Take a mulligan".

3. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I love this game. It would be in my top 3 of 2014 releases and it's probably my favorite social deduction game. Here's the (minor) issue: the rules for agreeing to a circular vote are very weak. Additionally, there's problems by forcing everyone to vote because a player can take slightly longer than the table and delay his vote, possibly being affected by where other people point. Also, the Tanner makes it so a table full of the rest Villagers CANNOT WIN. Stupid.

Here's a playtested fix that I've played 60+ games with. Count down like normal at the end. Players don't have to vote and are not allowed to vote if they don't vote immediately when the audio tells you to. If players agree there are no Wolves they simply don't vote instead of that stupid circular voting. We call this "Abstaining from the Vote." Everything else is per normal rules, someone needs 2 votes or more to hang. Villagers win if they hang the Wolf and if there is no Wolf they need to hang no one. Tanner needs to work a little harder and can't just throw the entire game for everyone. Wolves win if no Wolf is hung or if they hang a Villager. It's perfect and improves the game. I don't even tell new players that I'm teaching it wrong.

2. Spartacus
Spartacus is an amazing game, one of my favorites for sure. However, the Speed stat is too important in the gladiator fights especially for determining initiative. So I use the house rule that someone on BGG created where you dice of initiative with speed like any other stat, with highest single die winning, on a tie go to next highest die and so on. Works much better as an underdog will have a legitimate shot at winning initiative.

1. Mythotopia
The end game is a huge problem. I preferred my accidental house rule of simply not resolving fights when you use the End the Game action. I'm not sure if this is a true fix but it's worth testing. If not, I'm fairly sure I could come up with something decent given up time and effort. The thing is I don't care enough anymore as I had an opportunity to trade it off and I did. I do love the main portion of the game though and it reminded me of how fun A Few Acres of Snow used to be.


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6. Board Game: Steam over Holland [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:2432]
Board Game: Steam over Holland
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Three nights of gaming! Work was a training course on a new technology (ReactJS, if you're curious) that I really enjoyed! Great week! Mostly new games! So many exclamation points!

New to me!

 9   Steam over Holland
 8.5   Deus x2
 8   The Speicherstadt
 7.5   Good Cop Bad Cop x2
 7   Scoville
 5   Eggs and Empires

Repeat!

 8   Space Alert


Ok, I'll lay off the exclamation points now!.

Steam Over Holland is an 18XX that mysteriously doesn't have 18 in the title anywhere (apparently it was once called 18IR but the name was changed when it was finalized and went into production). It's a short title for that series: 3 players, all 18XX veterans but new to this particular title, took us about 3h 30min including rules explanation.

I really enjoyed it. It's in the 1825 family, meaning it's more about train running than stock shenanigans, and it has a map that is compact and offers a good amount of route possibilities yet also gives plenty of chances to lock people out since no cities can ever get more than two tokens. The game is timeboxed to 5 full rounds (5 stock rounds each followed by two operating rounds) and that definitely keeps it short and focused.

This is probably an excellent teaching game for 18XX as well due to the straightforward rules and low amount of exceptions in it. Glad I nabbed it from the BGG marketplace, glad to own it.

Deus was just great. It's a feel-good game that just oozes possibilities with each hand of cards. I love the comboing mechanism (which I understand is related to the one from Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road?) and the quick playtime. Seriously, combo-based engine builder. Clearly a game made for me. laugh This game is an easy recommendation, I think many people will enjoy it.

The Speicherstadt (with the expansion) was excellent as well. It's a very tense "auction" game - I put auction in quotes because it doesn't work like a regular auction, but I think it still counts as an auction game. Money is extremely tight and everything you buy matters quite a bit. This game I think is good for people who enjoy higher-stress tense games. Be prepared for a lot of "ARGH you just screwed me" declarations during play.

Good Cop Bad Cop was better than I anticipated. Yes, it's Yet Another Social Deduction Game (YASDG) but it was well done and the way you have to reveal one of your three identity cards when you take certain actions ensures the game moves at a really rapid pace.

The first game I was the Agent and I was able to turn two of the people on the crooked side over to mine, which just Felt Good. I used a planted evidence card on someone who was about to shoot me, turning them into an honest player, and then he later used his card to swap my agent card for one of the crooked cards of someone else, thus forcing them onto the honest side too (and I still had two honest cards, so I was still on the now-winning side). That was a great little exchange.

Scoville was good. We played with 6, which was way too many. I think the game seems like it should top out at 4. I like the mechanisms and the market and recipes and such but it didn't quite feel... exciting? It was enjoyable but I'm not going to run out and buy it. I was able to secure victory using lots of mid-range recipes and avoiding the higher ones, which people were racing to get and not having much luck with.

Eggs and Empires is not the sort of game I generally like. It's a WIFM game (Wine in Front of Me) where you play a card and hope it gives you advantages over the other players, but if you guess poorly you can get punished pretty badly. I didn't really feel like my decisions impacted my outcome all that much. Sometimes I would feel smart when I pulled off a nice move but most of the time I felt like the outcome was fairly arbitrary. Not a game for me.

Space Alert was fun as usual and was a third victory in a row for us. We did come close to getting hammered a few times so I don't think it was too easy though. I like SA when the games feel tense but not excessively punishing and this one fell into that category nicely.
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7. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:87]
Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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 N/A   Roll for the Galaxy x2
 N/A   Red7
 N/A   Liar's Dice
 10   The Duke x2
 N/A   Balloon Cup

Roll for the Galaxy x2 -- After much anticipation, I was finally able to play. We played 3-players both times, and about 3/4ths of the way through the first we went "Okay, now that we know what we're doing... we'll need to play again!" Tentatively, I'm optimistic about the game. The dice rolling and die acquisition are interesting without being too constricting. Also, the game still [i]feels[/is] like Race for the Galaxy.

Liar's Dice -- A new one to me, although it's very similar to Skull which I've played before. I'm terrible at these games, so I was out first.

Red7 -- Another new one. Neat premise, but I drew three of the 3 cards, which allowed me more cards and that seemed incredibly powerful? I want to play it again before I make up my mind about this one.

The Duke x2 -- My foamcore insert is doing precisely what I'd hoped: getting expansions to the table. I used the City Troops expansion here, and it included a few neat differences. Specifically, it replaces footmen with militia which can move many places but only capture a few. Positioning those units definitely added to the tactical element of the game.

Balloon Cup -- I really enjoyed the first game with my wife. We vied for colors and had nice back&forth moments. This was not that. I drew only middling cards and got into a horrible cycle where I had to give my opponent his victories which meant he placed first on the next card. Incredibly frustrating game.

------

I'm on Spring Break and to celebrate the beautiful weather here I went on a nice bike ride. 41 miles later, my thighs feel like they're going to explode, and I just want to cry in a corner for mercy. Very glad not to have to bike to class tomorrow; I might have had to call a cab.
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8. Board Game: Santiago de Cuba [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:940]
Board Game: Santiago de Cuba
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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New:
Kakerlakenpoker Royal 2
Lost Legacy 2
The Ancient World 1
Chosŏn 1
Ciúb 1
Razzia! 1
The Resistance: Avalon 1
Santiago de Cuba 1
Worm Up! 1

Old:
Deus 1
Fields of Arle 1

---

The Ancient World was a pleasant surprise. It had some interesting mechanics going in terms of how workers are placed. It had a good tension to it in regard to wanting to do multiple things, but having to decide which ones were most important. My only issue with the game is that you do a relatively decent amount of work, but endgame scoring is based simply on how many sets of different colored banners you have on the cards you earn. So, it did not feel very rewarding in that respect. I'd give it another try though.

The Resistance: Avalon was okay. I played The Resistance quite a few years ago, so I barely remembered the basis of the game. The player roles in Avalon definitely make the game feel more like ONUW (which I think is just okay). Also, I wasn't in the mood for a social deduction game that evening, so it fell a bit flat for me. I'm starting to think that I like the idea of social deduction games far more than the games themselves.

---

Games with James this past Saturday meant lots of new plays!

Kakerlakenpoker Royal: Not sure how I feel about the addition of the royals cards. I love the game as it is and I don't know that it needed more. We only had three players though, so that may affected getting a real taste for the new layer of bluffing. That said, I would gladly play either version of the game.

Lost Legacy: Hands down, far superior to Love Letter. I would consider picking this up if I see it around.

Chosŏn: This is basically a reimplementation of Koryŏ. It makes some interesting tweaks and the new powers are cool enough, but ultimately it's the same gameplay so I'm not sure owning both is necessary.

Ciúb: Just okay. I'd play again, but it didn't excite me, especially since other players' turns aren't very interesting to watch. Moreover, I don't think I like the whole "roll and try to get some cards and upgrade your dice" type games as they have too much luck in them (despite attempts to mitigate it). I guess I prefer my dice games with just straight up press-your-luck (e.g., Martian Dice), some kind of manipulation to it (e.g., Castles of Burgundy), or allocation (e.g., Alien Frontiers).

Razzia: James taught this to me via iPad. Is it wrong that I think I like it more than Ra?

Santiago de Cuba: A second iPad play with James. This was quite the surprise! A very fun little resource conversation game with a rondel-type mechanic. And I usually dislike rondels!

Worm Up!: It was as cute and silly fun as I expected. I'd play again.
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9. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:102] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game x3 (Scum and Villainy - new to me)
One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak x2 (new to me)

Boardgame Arena
Quantum x2 (new to me)



ONUW - Daybreak
Interesting. I get some of the negativity here as these roles radically up the shenanigans and can quickly throw the game of its rails. I think the key here is only including one or two Daybreak roles until everyone's become acclimated to theme. I see a lot of potential for trickery and more mind games, which is great. Will need more plays.

X-Wing with Scum and Villainy
I played 3 games of X-Wing Sunday against the same opponent. I flew Scum in every game and had a blast. Really enjoy this new faction and find them interesting to play, definitely feel unique.

Game 1 - Fett Yo Face vs. Outrider HLC
I flew Opportunist Boba Fett (whose Scum ability rocks), HWK that stripped Focus/Evades, and two a Lone Wolf Z with Cluster Missiles. I thought my positioning was solid and I was able to get in an alpha strike with my Z against the Outrider, rolling two four dice attacks and being able to re-roll a die in each attack due to pilot abilities/Lone Wolf. I rolled 1 hit on 10 total rolls. Each die has a 50% chance of being a hit. Luck continued to fuck me over this game as Boba dropped in about a round a half to HLC fire. We called this one pretty quick. I REALLY liked my list though. Very fun.

Game 2 - Xizor, Sirissu, Three Z's vs. Defender, Shuttle, and Bomber
Opponent had an HLC on the Defender and Shuttle and took the Bomber that allowed him to re-roll secondary weapon attacks. I flew Xizor on the flank and ran right up the gut jousting with the three Z's with Sirissu right behind them. He took down Sirissu right away but the Z's proved heart, utilizing Hot Shot blasters and pot shots to take out the shuttle. Xizor's maneuverability was great and I ended up taking this game with a large edge, losing only the Scyk.

Game 3 - IG-88, Y-Wing, and two Z's vs. Decimator, Int, and loaded Bomber
I think I was too afraid of the bomber here and focused on it at the expense of other ships. The Decimator's turret in combination with the Int took out IG-88 too fast. I did get one of my Z's Dead Man's Switch to go off damaging the Decimator and Int but that was about it. I spent too much time spreading out my attacks like a noob and fired too many Ion Turret shots into the Decimator, with the Ion of course doing nothing to the large ship. I did really enjoy my IG-88B with Mangler Cannon though.

I liked my first list best as every ship was interesting and I think they complemented each other well. Damn the luck though.

Quantum
This one's odd. I played a learning game with Grace but I had a huge advantage because I watched Rodney's Watch it Played before hand. I perhaps shouldn't have been so aggressive in a learning game but couldn't help myself. I played it a couple days later against some random on BGA and did very well, beating the guy before he put an entire cube down. Interestingly enough I think I only won 1 fight in that second game as the guy was very aggressive towards me while I just focused on settling planets and opportunistically striking back.

I think strategically/tactically this game is perfect for me. The movement and flow to the game feels to me like a tactical miniature game. You have to let the dice do the work for you and not try to force the issue, making the most efficient moves. It's an interesting game but it's not something I'd want to buy and it's not a game that gets me very excited. It doesn't feel like a space conquest game at all really which is its biggest downfall for me. It feels like an abstract really. I may play it again on BGA if I'm looking for something different.


On My Mind
Dreamblade arrived, damn those minis are amazing for a prepainted CMG. Excited to maybe solo this one soon.

I started another new show - American Crime. This is a new series on one of the major networks (NBC?) that I didn't have much hope for but gave it a shot. It's surprisingly gritty and interesting for regular TV. First two episodes were solid and I'm staying with it.

We sent copies of A Fistful Of Dinero to Tom Vasel and Daniel Thurot (Space-Biff!) - who will be the first two "reviewers" to take a stab at it. I think Tom will likely dig the game, but you never know.

Still waiting on a publisher to get back to me on my fantasy game, going to reach out to them at the 2 month mark and follow up.

We're going to Chicago this week (leaving on Wednesday) for my Wife's 30th. Hopefully it will be fun, although I'm not much of a traveler. Bringing Lila (our 16 month old) will be interesting. I am looking forward to Giordano's again.

Last week I got another new idea for a design and added it to the list. It's a Post Apocalyptic Mech game that thematically is kind of Necromunda meets Battletech. You play a faction/house that you track game to game like a Necromunda game. The mechanics are oddly enough influenced by Troyes, Escape, and Super Fantasy Ugly Snouts Assault. Oddball combination but maybe I'll eventually work on it further.
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10. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:533]
Board Game: Eminent Domain
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Lost Cities x1 New!
San Juan x1 New!
Excape x1 New!
Android: Netrunner x1
Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) x1
Eminent Domain x1 New!

First 3
I had another "team building" lunch last week though it was only 2 people. We played Lost Cities, San Juan, and [/b]Excape[/b]. Lost Cities was fun and I broke out of my standard go-for-broke strategy and just played to the stats and ended up winning by like 40-50 points or so. I enjoyed it, though I'm finding that I dislike games where a player is encouraged to dump turns simply in an attempt to bring about the end sooner. San Juan was great, and I think I probably enjoy it more than Puerto Rico. Excape was also really fun though will be better with more than 2. Apparently this group ends the lunch gaming session with that game a lot so I'm sure I'll get to play it soon.

Netrunner
End of league tourney and I didn't do quite as well as I'd hoped (4/8). On the one hand, I love how open the game is right now and how you can be successful with almost any ID. On the other, I dislike the rock-paper-scissors direction it's heading because I don't like sitting down against an opponent and knowing my odds of victory are slim because I don't include cares that would only be useful against that matchup. Also, I don't switch up my decks enough because I don't use the web clients to practice and some of the better players are starting to rapidly iterate a deck purpose built to win in the league. It's part of the game and I don't begrudge them that at all, just makes it a little more frustrating.

Eminent Domain
That was supposed to be all the gaming for me last week, however on Friday night the refinery where Katie works had some emergencies and shut down. It meant that she got called in to work around 7 PM on Saturday. Sucked, but it freed me up to go to a friend's bday celebration at the FLGS. Got in an 8 player game of Cash & Guns where I was quickly eliminated but still had lots of fun. I then got to try Eminent Domain for the first time, which one of the guys is obsessed with right now. It combines a lot of mechanics in pretty clever ways and on the whole I enjoyed it. The technology card purchase process is physically clunky but that's my only complaint. I'd like to play it again soon. I took a colonization strategy and worked to win by just settling a ton of planets, while taking a few early upgrades designed to give me VPs when my opponents went for warfare. I got points off that but more than anything it slowed them down enough for me to have a really strong colonization engine going.

On my Mind
MARCH MADNESS!!!

Also, I went to deep clean my brewing set up as it looks like my issues are related to bacteria. Turns out, using unsealed particle board for a brewing workbench is a terrible idea. I need to replace the entire workbench top before I do any bottling on it again. Blegh. Pain in the ass.
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11. Board Game: Chosŏn [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3967]
Board Game: Chosŏn
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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New Games

Ahoy x1
Mascarade: The Damned x1
Deus x1
Fields of Arle x1
Chosŏn x1

Old Games

Mascarade (with Mascarade: Expansion) x3
Pairs x5
Stick 'Em x1
Wits & Wagers x1
Lost Legacy: The Starship x1
Lost Legacy: Flying Garden x1
Worm Up! x1
Kakerlakenpoker Royal x2
Santiago de Cuba x1
Ciúb x1

Finally got to one of my regular gaming evenings in Alameda, got to try some new stuff!

Ahoy was a bizarre little Cwali game that I didn't mind, but didn't really like, either. You're trying to speed your meeple around a ring of 12 cards as fast as possible for 5 revolutions, but then land exactly on the starting card. It was an odd mix of lightweight yet a bit grindy that didn't do a whole lot for me, but I didn't hate it.

I was first a bit wary of the new power of The Damned in Mascarade, as I've rarely seen player elimination as a selling point in most games. However, I absolutely adored it because it went a long way to "fixing" one of the more outstanding issues with the game. Now I love Mascarade dearly, but it can often develop a stasis problem (especially when playing with hardcore gamers who play to win): Once a general idea of who has what role is developed, it takes a lot of very purposeful role-swapping to get things back to a state of uncertainty where the game functions best. I've found this difficult to encourage, because often players are within spitting distance of winning and choosing the swap action is only indirectly helpful in putting them across the finish line.

To that end, the Damned does a really cool thing by discouraging reveals. You're still allowed to use your "look at your card" action without the Damned knocking you out, but swap him around a few times and all but the most brain dead of players will think twice about challenging someone's claim if there's any chance at all that they might have the Damned. This does a fantastic thing of giving more leeway to actually bluff about your character card, because the risk of calling someone out isn't just a measly coin, it might knock you out! I would even go so far as to defend the player elimination aspect, as the drawback absolutely needs to be harsh enough to act as the discouragement it is. That said, I was the only person at the table who liked it, so I might consider house-ruling it in the future (though I imagine that might create it's own problems).

Had games with Grace this past Saturday, got a lot of good plays in.

I finally got a chance to try Deus, and for the most part I liked the civ-light aspects of the game (quick turns, an indirect mildly-military, engine building), it's got the same "problem" as games like Race for the Galaxy as your odds of winning are largely proportional to how well you know the deck. Aside from the first-play-blues this engendered, I thought it was a solid title and wouldn't mind trying it again. I'm surprised I wasn't more enthusiastic about the game despite the long list of pluses I found, but I guess that's more me being jaded and crotchety

After vehemently disliking Agricola and actually kinda digging Le Havre, I've dragged myself through all of Rosenberg's other titles on the off chance that I might actually enjoy them. While I've liked the 2p versions of Gric and Havre (and been mildly interested in Glass Road), I wanted to give Fields of Arle a fare shake before I wrote it off and got a chance to with Grace. It definitely continues the "kinder, gentler" streak that Rosenberg kicked off with shortly after Gric/Havre, and also with a giant dollop of point salad. As I've lost interest in Feld titles, another spin on "who can get points better/faster" didn't really endear me to the game, but it was inoffensive enough that I could see it's appeal. Fine, but not for me.

And finally, I got a chance to dust off my copy of Chosŏn and give it a whirl. As Grace has said, it's an update of Koryŏ with the emphases from that game shifted. The new version gives you many more options for sniping cards out of other players tableaus (and giving other players opportunities to snipe back), where the original game was more about giving you extra help in taking/holding more cards. The higher amount of player interaction is definitely a plus (as well as presenting some difficult choices between building up your own majorities and going after other players), but it's added some additional complexity and rules overhead that took us a bit to get our minds wrapped around. I like it as much as Koryo and maybe a little bit more, but further plays will prove it out.
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12. Board Game: The Speicherstadt [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:743]
Board Game: The Speicherstadt
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Board Game: Cockroach Poker
Board Game: Deus
Board Game: Kaispeicher


 9   Castles of Mad King Ludwig x3
 8   Cockroach Poker
 8   Deus
 8   The Speicherstadt (with Kaispeicher)

Lovely games this week. Deus was an interesting and very competitive game, with the top 3 scores all being quite-high (64-64-66). The Speicherstadt (with the Kaispeicher expansion) was lovely to play again, and is fimrly cemented in the "great to play but no need to own" category. Castles of Mad King Ludwig saw three plays this weekend, including a first-ever (for us) 2-player tie that came down to the biggest castle tiebreaker. It continues to shine with further play (and I'm excited about the recently announced expansion).
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13. Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2010]
Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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3x Red7
2x Betrayal at House on the Hill
2x *Space Cadets: Dice Duel
7 Wonders
The Bottle Imp
*Cthulhu Wars
Little Devils
Mamma Mia!
Merchants of the Middle Ages
*Mü & Lots More (Was Sticht?)
*The Rivals for Catan
Roll for the Galaxy
*Targi
Rampage
Warrior Knights

*new to me

Red7
Why do people like this?

Betrayal at House on the Hill
This was awesome to be playing with a group of gamers who all still love Betrayal. Halfway through the firs game, one person new to the game said "This is fun." The response was "We haven't even started the fun part yet. We haven't started the haunt." Unfortunately, the first haunt was anticlimatic. To avoid spoilers, essentially, we had to go to a room and pass a skill check. Then in the same room pass a different skill check. Then dispose of all remaining monsters. The player we wanted to resolve the first skill check was unfortunately caught in a web. On his turn he escaped the web, reached the room, and passed the check. Second player reaches the room, passes the second check. This immediately removed all monsters. Now we have to kill all remaining, oh, wait, they're all gone. We win... That wasn't a fun win.

Later that night, though, we played again, and while just as fun throughout, this one ended with a haunt that was actually competitive and a lot more fun. There were voodoo dolls representing each of us, and we had to search the house looking for our own voodoo dolls before we all died. I'll avoid game-changing spoilers, but this one was really fun and came really close. Oh, and a really cool aspect about the ground floor. It was fully explored, and in the corner was a ballroom with a wall switch. Since there are doors on every wall, we had to attach the room via a corner, which was entirely unattached (even by wall) to anything else in the house. Just a wall switch in the corner. It had one door leading to the coal chute (one way path to the basement) and a second open door. The traitor immediately took our mystic elevator and attached it to that second door. Oh you clever traitor you...

Space Cadets: Dice Duel
We had 6 players, so two teams of 3, and it was a blast. Oh what fun it is to have your captain tell you to drop a mine, then direct how you should navigate the ship, only to catch yourself land on your own mine. Yeah, I was that captain... After we lost, I insisted that we play again. The other ship was surprised as they were catching up to us, that we dropped a mine and immediately tractor beamed them onto the mine. They responded in kind by dropping two mines in our now shared space. I was trying to direct the helmsman and give him all the engineering dice to get us out of there, but he kept questioning my orders. We were promptly tractor beamed twice while he was questioning me and we landed on both mines and blew up, cause we weren't moving anywhere to avoid this... But man, this was really fun. I really look forward to playing again. I would love to pick this up.

7 Wonders
I never request this game anymore, and try to avoid it in favor of other games, but it is still fun to play. I took on a science strategy and did really well. I can't remember who won, it wasn't me, but my last action of the game was to take a card from the discard pile and play it for free. My options were:
-Science card, completing a third set and giving me an extra 12 points.
-War card, giving myself and effective 12 points (+10 for two wins, and one less -1 for one less loss), but gave my left neighbor 5 fewer points, and my right neighbor 1 fewer points. It needlessly hurt my left neighbor, but we believed my right neighbor was winning, so I took the latter option.

The Bottle Imp
When we were looking for simple card games, I pulled this one out and we all had a blast. It was late, so we decided to play 3 hands and call it. I got stuck with the bottle the first two times. Ouch! But we managed to stick the lead player with the bottle in the third round. And I nearly got enough points to catch up! This is such a fun trick taker.

Cthulhu Wars
I got to try this on our Wednesday game night (on Thursday last week). I've heard enough about it that I wanted to try it, but expected it to be more about cool macrotures (definitely not miniatures). I was pleasantly mistaken. This game reminded me of Chaos in the Old World with how unique each race was, and how the game played in general, but I enjoyed this much more. I played the yellow race and was surprisingly successful. I lost by 4 points at the end of the game, but had a huge last turn where I corrupted about half the board for tons of points.

Little Devils
We only played a hand of this, so it really shouldn't count as a play. It's an interesting trick taking game, and one I'm happy to play, but I prefer others over this one.

Mamma Mia!
This was another one of the simpler fun card games we chose to play. It's all about playing ingredients into a shared pool and then attempting to complete pizza recipes with those ingredient cards. You have 8 recipes and 3 times through the deck to complete them. I managed to win with 7 completed recipes, second place getting 6 recipes completed. Had I waited one more round of card play, I could've completed all 8 (although, that may have encouraged somebody else to play one of their recipes instead).

Merchants of the Middle Ages
I loved this game when I first played it. Enough that the memories of how much I loved the game made me pick it up as soon as I could in trade. But then it just sat there, unplayed, and I couldn't even bring myself to read the rules. It was requested on Saturday (cause they saw it on the shelf, asked about it, and liked my description). We practically learned from the rulebook cause after about 3 years since playing, my memory was too rusty on this one. But it's an easy enough game that learning from the rules wasn't a problem at all. I quickly saw the mechanics that made me love this game in the first place.

This is basically a pick up and deliver game, but players share wagons that make the deliveries, and all partake in fluctuating the value of resources in the market. The exciting aspects of this game were the auctions over becoming the loading master, who negotiates loading prices for the other players (I usually recovered my loading master expenses immediately), and the simultaenous adjustments of the market where you want to increase the value of your own goods while toppling the value of your opponent's goods.

I also invested early in some powerful cards that helped me maintain my lead throughout the game, and I spiked my reputation early, so I made my end-game goal to rush the end of the game and win. I had a blast, the other players did too and would want to play again (now that they have a better idea of gameplay and good strategy). So I consider this another success!

Mü & Lots More (Was Sticht?)
We played Was Sticht? because one of our players was recently enamoured by it and wanted to play it again. I knew nothing about it, but had a blast playing it and definitely look forward to playing it again. Now I know and love 2 of the games in this box! (Njet being the other one, I don't remember Mü well enough).

The Rivals for Catan
Also should not count as a play, as we didn't get far before others started showing up and we packed this up. But I think I'll like this alternative to Settlers of Catan. I look forward to getting to try it again.

Roll for the Galaxy
I'm not crazy for Roll, but I do like it better than Race. I had fun playing this, though.

Targi
The last game of our Saturday game day. It was highly recommended for a friend of mine who had a gift certificate to spend. It was late and we were both tired, so we messed up many things, but overall, we did pretty well and had a lot of fun with it. With blocking each other, buidling up our resources, and building our tableu, it was great. We tied at 43 points and 1 gold. But again, I lose the second tiebreaker by having the fewest resources.

Rampage
I'm glad this got pulled out with the group who played it. It's still a bit annoying to see how incredibly powerful some abilities are, but the game itself is really fun and silly.

Warrior Knights
Wow, somebody else requested this one! This one (and Container) was requested as "I've heard bad things about it, and I've never played it, so I want to play it." Of course, the bad things for both games was from somebody who dislikes Container, and dislikes the type of game Warrior Knights is (he's never played it). It was a 3-player game, so not as exciting as more players, but it was still surprisingly fun with 3, and the other two really liked the game as well. The game ended in a tie with 14 points, and control over 4 cities each. My opponent won on the second tiebreaker of most faith/crowns/votes. I was still head of the church, but spent the last of my faith on all the event cards that turn.
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14. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:457]
Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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A good week's gaming:

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork x 2 in honour of Sir Pterry RIP

Mage Knight Board Game x 1 co-op via Vassal, not complete but some hours of fun with 3 of us so I count it as a play

Ascension: Deckbuilding Game x 3 thanks to whichever of you suggested it last week - iOS this time


As the avatar might suggest, I am a huge Pratchett fan and was pretty gutted by the news of his death. My game group unanimously voted for A-M tonight to mark the great man's passing.

It's a good game, with loads of screwage - but you're never far from getting your own back, so it doesn't feel like one-way traffic. I won game one comfortably because newbies weren't watching area control. Game 2 was a Vimes win and I do worry - as the forums suggest, at least to an extent - that Vimes in play is going to be the default win most times. The ability to block, even in a 4 player game, is strong enough that getting all the way through the deck seems not unlikely.

One of those I'll dig out now and then and certainly wouldn't want to part with even just given the Discworld connection. Some of the cards are inspired.

More Mage Knight = good. Another game planned via Vassal this week. If you haven't seen it yet, there's a pretty, new V. 3.0 Mod on the Vassal website just today. Looks lovely, though the main changes are graphical.

Ascension: new to me. A really nice App with a helpful tutorial (though it doesn't really teach you how to play, as opposed to what to click). And at £0.00, a proper bargain. Do I like it? I dunno. 3 games isn't enough to say. I think I'd need to play more to learn the cards because at present the choice of drafting a 5, 6, or 7 point hero/construct is pretty random. It's easy to go for the big point, but I suspect there's more subtlety than that. I'm 3 for 3, which suggests that the AI is poor. If I were a gambling man I'd bet this won't see much more playtime. It's ok, but there's plenty of "ok" out there.

On my mind:

Freezing to death with a bust heating system has been the lowlight of the weekend. But it led to curling up on the sofa with a pile of blankets, which was fun. Under the Skin was a movie I'd wanted to see for a while but just went to show that arthouse these days often means tedious + ambient weird sound + naked star. Scarlett J with her kit off does not a good film make. Also: too many boners. The new arthouse nudity Xtreme, I guess.

Hannibal Rising: also crap, but without arthouse pretentions, at least.

Highlight movie-wise: the old 1973 classic "Westworld" with Yul Brynner. Just a great movie, and though looking dated, still holds together 40 years later.





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15. Board Game: El Grande Decennial Edition [Average Rating:8.35 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.35 Unranked]
Board Game: El Grande Decennial Edition
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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Last week was Spring Break, so it was a great chance to get some gaming in.

Tragedy Looper: I think I've become Designated Mastermind. We did scenario #5, which ended up being really challenging for me. There's just so few ways to win. The Protagonists found out a critical role early and that hamstrung me. They ended up winning on just the second loop.

Suburbiax2: Both were four-player games. The first was super frustrating. I took the most grays goal to complement the public most contiguous grays, and the player to my left was just killing me, taking Community Parks to stay ahead in that goal rather than purchase a productive tile. Abbie crushed us. She somehow won the least money goal and still had more than $20.

The second went better. I was able to ride the PR Firm and a reliable flow of money to a one-point win. A private goal of fewest greens went well with the residential challenge other people tried to get.

El Grande: After talking about it so much last week, why not play it? I fell really behind early, but the brown player used too many bullets too quickly. I was able to manipulate the turn order successfully enough to put the king in the same province as my grande and get a good number of cubes in the castillo. I ended up winning by 10-15. Satisfying victory.

Race for the Galaxyx2: I taught this to a new guy and at least one other was a beginner. In the first game, I got the Alien Rosetta Stone World and the Alien Tech Institute really early, so I figured, why not? Of course, I didn't draw any more alien worlds again until the end. Ended up in last place. The new guy won! He drew a lot of military. The second game, I was able to get a brown machine going and rolled to victory.

NOIR: Deductive Mystery Game: The multiplayer version of this is just chaotic enough. Sometimes, you get hit with a spawn kill, but it's short enough to not bother me a whole lot. Three of the four players got two kills.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: We got a handful of plays in. The most notable was the minion who convinced everyone he was the robber and switched with the werewolf. Nice move.

The Resistance: Avalon: I thought we had a win in the bag, but they figured out who Merlin was. Darn. Can't remember if we had one play or two; if there was another, it was not memorable.

A Study in Emerald: I am so tired of being a Restorationist. And I'm still not good with them. I can't get the timing down. I was faced with a nasty situation late where I didn't really have the ability assassinate, any assassination cards I took would have resulted in the War Track moving up, and a Loyalist was pushing hard for my cities. Oh, and I had two mad counters. Just not a good situation. Another Restorationist ended up winning thanks to mistakes by others.

Nanuk: Nanuk's not great with five. The game was basically over when four out of five went on a hunt and it failed at the very end. Huge stack of cards to one guy.

Article 27: The UN Security Council Game: I had not gotten to play this in some time, so it was nice to bring it out again. The problem with having a bunch of new players is it's hard to negotiate subtly; everyone just wants to throw bribes around. I managed third, which I'll take. I was way behind for a while.
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16. Board Game: De Vulgari Eloquentia [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:1054]
Board Game: De Vulgari Eloquentia
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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10 6 nimmt! x1 (15 plays so far)
9 De Vulgari Eloquentia x1 (10 plays so far)
 8 Race for the galaxy x1 (5 plays so far FTF against my daughter)

On De Vulgari Eloquentia :
It was my 10th game last evening. We played for 5 players in 2 hours.

I wanted to play, "Ralphy-the-scholar-monk-who-can't-stop-grabbing-manuscripts."

I decided to start from Taranto to go for the "knowledge diagonal" (go to Bologna before turn 8 while picking up 30 points of Volgare of Naples, Rome, Arezzo and Firenze) and become Ralphy along the way because his special ability helps a lot in order to move freely to collect manuscripts in 5 colors.

I was made Ralphy as expected early on (turn 2) in the monastery between Roma and Napoli. The Sassari event (+8 points of Volgare) made me digress a little bit of my strategy and i think that it was a mistake, actions lost to travel won't be spent to grab manuscripts or rest to gain political support (i was the most scholar during much of the time).

Soon, there will be 4 friars and the only one merchant strove to spend his money for not paying charity to all of us.

The Stupor Mundi was not crowdy and the 3 other brothers were made cardinals. I have reached level 3 of knowledge and given the distribution of manuscripts on the late game, i have decided not to go in Bologna: in fact, there were 5 or 6 orange levels 1 and 2 manuscripts : suffice to say that this have slowed down my strategy because i wanted the manuscripts to become cheaper in action points....

From Brindisi, I will disembark in Venice to unblock the situation a little bit in Udine but it was too late, Pope died on turn 13.

Final scores: 51-44-43-43-41

Zazza won, followed by the inquisitor Shlasinger, elected Pope. The only merchant was about to win (43 points in the end) if he had managed to be the richest (Zazza is the plague for merchants and he was perhaps well inspired to go to Palermo to earn 35 ducats...but at the same time, he couldn't have transformed his copists to VP. Choices).

I have scored 26 points of manuscripts and was elected monk. Not enough to make knowledge's strategy competitive enough. This strategy is very risky :

1/ you play almost always last in the turn. So you have to spend actions to rest in order to have more choices in political supports and manuscripts. But these actions are lacking to move and take manuscripts.

2/ the uncertainity of the end game can annihilate this strategy. The healtier the Pope, the better.

3/ distribution of manuscripts can be very painful as it was the case last Friday. You can't count on opponents to help you to reduce the action cost of mansucripts.

I think Ralphy must reach level 3 with Bologna very quickly and spend his time travelling to learn 3 points manuscripts.

I will definitely try this again.
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17. Board Game: Collect [Average Rating:5.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Collect
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Love 'em even if a few games get scuttled from time to time.
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Microbadge: Meaty Game fanMicrobadge: Train GamerMicrobadge: My cat destroys games in progressMicrobadge: Owner of Too Many Unplayed GamesMicrobadge: GameChat League - Mafia Division: "A mob is forming."
For those of you who are fans of Richard Breese (of Key series fame), there's an auction for his three first games up on EBay right now. These are rather rare and valuable... but I'm not lining up to spend over $400 on each one. Apparently some people are though: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=4&cam...
 
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