GCL Gelato 184 - Eureka!
Dan
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San Francisco
California
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Roll Call

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This week: moments of inspiration.

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1. Board Game: Archimedes [Average Rating:4.85 Overall Rank:17743]
Board Game: Archimedes
Dan
United States
San Francisco
California
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Archimedes famously shouted "Eureka!" in the bathtub when he saw the water rise. Or so the story goes.

This week, our list celebrates and explores those types of moments, or the circumstances that precede those moments like Steven Johnson discusses in the header and in this longer TED talk.

Have you had any moments like this in your life when things clicked? Did you see the world differently from then on?
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2. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:489]
Board Game: Coup
Dan
United States
San Francisco
California
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Any games where you've had a eureka moment? Have you been undefeated since?
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3. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:412]
Board Game: Ingenious
Dan
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San Francisco
California
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How about at work? Any moments where you cut through the fog and revolutionized the workplace? Did people slow-clap for you or were you walked off the premises Jerry Maguire-style--or both?
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4. Board Game: Triumph & Tragedy: European Balance of Power 1936-1945 [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:477]
Board Game: Triumph & Tragedy: European Balance of Power 1936-1945
Dan
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Slightly off-topic, but in my wheelhouse of interest right now: what's the best game of the year for you so far? A quick check of my collection shows I own nothing from this year. That's a first.
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5. Board Game: Sorry! [Average Rating:4.51 Overall Rank:19508]
Board Game: Sorry!
Dan
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San Francisco
California
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I've missed being more active in this group, but life is in the way right now. The home purchase went through and we've been very busy fixing it up. If you'd like to see a photo, geekmail me.

I have NO plays in October and three in September (Backgammon). I think this is a first. With my collection boxed up, I've had a lot of time to feel divorced from it. There may be a fire sale as soon as we're moved in.
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6. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:458]
Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
"L'état, c'est moi."
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Vancouver
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This is the week that was:
Board Game: Twilight Struggle
Board Game: The Last Spike
Board Game: Andean Abyss
Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork


 10   Twilight Struggle
On Sunday I hosted gaming and there were going to be four of us playing Andean Abyss. Jonathan came by early and we played a game of TS. Jeff arrived to set up a few minutes before noon, so we called it early. I was leading quite substantially as the US player, but called it a draw.

 N/A   Andean Abyss
I like this COIN game more the more I play it. I've begun to appreciate the subtleties and nuance in the game play. Andrew beat us *again*. Except for my win in Fire in the Lake, Andrew has won every COIN game we've played.

 N/A   The Last Spike
Andrew had to call it a day, but my daughter joined the three of us left for a game of this. Jonathan has declared he now hates it, but I think it's because he went bankrupt.

 7   Discworld: Ankh-Morpork x3
On Thursday, we had three games of this. The first game was decided on points though I would have been able to declare a winning condition if it had come to me.

I won the next two games as the dragon lord with 8+ trouble on the board. I felt unlucky drawing the same role twice in a row, but I think it actually played out to my advantage.

This past week (through date of posting), these games continued:
Thunder Alley, Cuba Libre, 1989, Pax Pamir, Twilight Struggle.

This past week, these games concluded:
None

This past week, these games/accessories were acquired:
Combat Commander: Battle Pack #7 – Leader of Men: Tournament Battle Pack. Two copies supplied by GMT as prizes for BottosCon have beaten the copy I'd ordered for myself. I'm "claiming" one for planning purposes, but mine should be here by the time I'm back and I'll put it in the prize bag.

This week, these games are on my radar:
Looks like I get to bring The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43, Navajo Wars, Nemo's War, and a bunch of the pre-programmed adventures from Legends of the Ancient World series to Kamloops with me as there is a dearth of gaming to be had up there.

This past week, these interesting things happened in my games and my life:

Kamloops: I get to drive to my training (thanks to having been able to cost justify it to the powers that be), so I'll have a car with me. This makes what I pack to take with me much more flexible. In addition to some solo games, that I freely admit I may or may not get to, I'll be bringing some books, as well as my iPad and smartphone. At least there's free wifi at the hotel!

On the weekend between training weeks, I'm not sure yet what I want to do. Other things to do up there is catch a hockey game (Kamloops Blazers) - there are potentially three games I could go see, and the most expensive ticket is $21.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to learning new things, meeting some new colleagues, putting faces to colleagues I've interacted with over email, and a change is as good as a rest as they say.

BottosCon: BottosCon is hot on the heels of training. I get back late in the evening of the 5th, and BottosCon is the 6-8th. Then a week later I'm off to BGG Con. Yay! I feel bad for my wife who'll basically be solo parenting for three of the next four weeks!
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7. Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach [Average Rating:8.25 Overall Rank:576]
Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach
Stig Morten
Norway
Kvernaland
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Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach
Board Game: Shuffleboard Game
Board Game: Star Realms


D-Day at Omaha Beach
A play of the First Waves scenario. By turn 7 I had a loss due to losing to many infantries. A very good game, and I don't need any other D-Day game I think. Although D-Day at Peleliu is appearing this side of the Atlantic these days and is tempting. But I'm resisting.

Shuffleboard Game NEW!
Annual tournament at work. Lost in the first round. yuk

Star Realms
Two handed solitaire.

PBEM
My co-op of D-Day at Omaha Beach is going forward at a leisurely pace.
The first race in a 4-race season of Thunder Alley is about to end. Looks like I might be able to take the win.
1830 is in the first stock round. I haven't opened B&O.
Gelato Thunder Alley is progressing at a unsteady pace.
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8. Board Game: Victory Roads [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:4956]
Board Game: Victory Roads
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Lots of Victory Roads this week. I did a couple of solo runs of the Bagration scenario. First time out, the Soviets were badly embarrassed. Second time, it was much closer.

And last Monday we began a four-player vassal-and-skype campaign game (I'm one of the German players). Poor billyboy started his Soviet offensive with two consecutive rolls of '2' (on 2d6). But, plenty of time for the Soviets to recover.

I am REALLY LIKING this game. I'm also not surprised, since I really like its older sibling, Liberty Roads.

My PBEM game of Churchill made good progress. Tournament scenario so starts with conference 6. My Soviets are beginning to doubt the willingness of the British to conduct this war effectively; they refused to allow the invasion of Normandy and have shown further disturbing signs of non-cooperation. Oh well, we will bury them in the Twilight Struggle sequel to Churchill. Or the Patton in Flames sequel...
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9. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:9] [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked]
Board Game: Twilight Struggle
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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x4 [Pax Britannica]
x3 Twilight Struggle
x1 Lewis and Clarke

It's been a long dissertation-writing week here. I finished a chapter draft. It's in bad shape, but it's "complete." My chair is reading it and we'll meet this week. In the meantime, I'm organizing my notes for chapter two and trying to get an article in shape. Busy times!

On the game front, Cati and I were able to play some Lewis and Clark. It was a great match, our third. It's amazing how brutal the game is. It seems so pretty and kind looking, but it's quite the race! Still hankering to play this with three and four--I imagine the play of initiative would be really lovely (with all of those double and triples jumps over others' scouts.

Twilight Struggle got steady play as well. Like Roger, I'm experiencing something of a second renaissance. I've been playing the lion's share of these games with an old friend and there's a wonderful meta game that has emerged over the past 10 games. So far the games have tilted heavily to the soviets, but I think I may pull out the first US win this game (the handicap of 4 US influence may have gone a long way).

Lastly, Pax Britannica. This week I had 4(!) playtest games. 2 two player games, one 3 player solo game, and a partial 1 player solo scenario. The solo scenario is about surviving as the Americans in the early days of the republic (5 turns, 1785-1860). There will also be a Napoleonic solo scenario that is just two turns long (1800-1830). The playtests went really, really well. At this point, all of the subsystems are fully designed and seem to work. The major challenge is balancing the victory conditions. To understand exactly what I'm working through, I'm going to have to tell you a little about the game. So, first:

From gallery of Cole Wehrle


So, this is another card game of similar footprint to Pax Pamir, but there will be at least a few "charts" which are used during play. For playtests I just threw them all on one sheet. Those two tracks at the top chart global instability. The shorter track is used for 2 and 3 players and the longer track is used for 4 and 5 player games. Figuring out the victory condition for this game has been a deeply vexing process, but I've finally settled on something. The basic idea is that things are worth different amount of victory points depending on the position of the global stability pawn. This pawn will shift every turn based on the current turn's momentum which is informed by troop deployments, uprisings, trade agreements, etc, but the Stability Pawn will only move a max of three spaces each turn so there's some feedback delay.

In stress testing this idea, I've been setting up playtests where I will ask one player to play very aggressively and the other to be very peaceful. In a 1v1 situation, both of these approaches should lock horns and hold stability in a place where the victory points are close. In order to push that stabilty in either way, each side is going to be forced into making uncomfortable overreaches in policy that expose themselves to greater risk--both external via wars etc and internal via growing unrest. In the most recent playtest, the peaceful player was a runaway winner. Once he got to a certain amount of economic power, his culture couldn't be checked by all of the state suppression and colonial wars in the world. In fact, in prosecuting those wars I nearly bankrupted my poor French and threw the country into civil war. I don't mind the game's arc bending towards peace--in fact, I want it to. But, I want each player to be under the same stresses that I was facing during that game. In the multiplayer games this is less of an issue because 2 weaker players can affect more of a paradigm shift than one weaker power. Still, this game should be robust with two and I wanna make sure I get this thing right.

I've also started doing card research. The cards themselves are done, but I designed them "impressionisticly." Like Pamir, instead of having each card have a unique or nearly unique ability (porfiriana/twilight struggle/cdgs), I boiled down the special abilities to about 12 different actions. I then started assigning these to the various diplomatic action cards in a way that aligned with what I knew by not with a lot of specificity. Eventually, I want every action on these diplomatic cards to be named for a specific event. So, there's an effected called "Massive Uprising." And, on the China card it will say something like "Massive Uprising: Taiping Rebellion." Also, every enterprise spot on the game will have a common export named. There are 100+ cities in the game, so this will take some work. So right now things feel a little odd: if I can get this victory condition stuff done, then design itself will be "finished," yet there's not a line of flavor text in the game yet nor an icon designed. With Pamir everything moved together like a big wave. With this design I've decided to compartmentalize my various responsibilities. It's nice, but I wish I had time to do it all right now.

In Austin, things are wet and rainy, which means that summer has finally come to an end. We had some flooding over the weekend, but I think most folks have been safe. I'm glad the hurricane that hit Mexico was downgraded, and I'm glad its sending so much moisture our way. The weather has been lovely for working and reading inside. I wouldn't mind a month or so of this .

The week ahead is mostly just more dissertation work. On the game side, I want to get a playtest or two in of PB and start to collate my various commitment for bgg con. I also need to figure how I'm getting to Dallas.
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10. Board Game: Melee [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:7038]
Board Game: Melee
Jonathan Takagi
United States
Escondido
California
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Games played

 7   Melee x3 - Wow, some of these matches were over very fast! I really love the battle resolution mechanism (guess your opponent's blind bid). Turtling is not rewarded in this game, as it will most likely be over before you're done building up. More games should aspire to be this short.

 8   Coup x2 - Taught a bunch of high schoolers, went over very well.

 7   Diamant x2 - Taught the same group, I witnessed some extraordinary changes of fortune where huge greed was rewarded. It's much more fun when it works out this way. Very often chickens are rewarded since there are so many dangers.

 N/A   Hack Trick x2 NEW! - A very different little deduction game themed around competing hackers. A nice surprise!

 N/A   London After Midnight x2 NEW! - Very light and quick hidden role set collection game. Very chaotic, with some cards that are way too powerful. If I liked classic monsters I would probably enjoy this more, since the artwork is probably a draw for most people.

 N/A   Too Many Cinderellas x2 NEW! - Joe Huber drew a distinction between deduction games and "proof" games like this one and the games in the Old Town family in his geeklist this week. I probably prefer deduction games, but I continue to enjoy this one.

 8   Trötofant x2

 N/A   Baby Blues NEW! - Not sure what people saw in this one. Great theme about crying babies, but the card play is pure take that.

 8   Le Passe-Trappe
 7   Mago Magino
 6   Salmon Run

 N/A   Strike A Pose NEW! - Was glad to get this one played. It can be a little unwieldy with more than 7 players, but everyone had a lot of fun. It is surprisingly difficult to act out certain things.

 9   Tichu - revisited the iOS app with my wife. We played the low level AI which was horrendous. I believe we won 1170 to -170 - stupidest AI ever, almost as bad as the AIs for Le Havre and Brass. Going to have to try the Android version next.

I watched The Martian this week. It was entertaining while I was watching it, but completely forgettable.
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11. Board Game: Fortress America [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1683]
Board Game: Fortress America
Ron
Austria
Vienna
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Gaming Life

 10   Advanced Squad Leader
 8   Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
 10   Dark Moon

My entry this week features a game that haven't been played ... although it should haved ...

On Friday, a friend came over for the sole purpose of playing Fortress America. I hurried home from work, sorted all the pieces and created a fine and tough US setup. When my friend arrived at 18:00 sharp, we sat down in the living room for a small chat, Andrea joined us, we took a drink, talked, laughed, took another drink, talked, laughed ... and suddenly it was after midnight. So no Fortress America this evening ...

Saturday was reserved for ASL play, but my partner got a foot injury and had to stay in bed. In fact, he has to stay in bed for the next too weeks as he now has a cast on his left foot. Tough ...

So actually, my gaming this week was a little reduced. On Thursday I played another VASSAL/VASL Advanced Squad Leader scenario with JP, called SP82: NORWAY IN HALF. I had the Norwegians, and my task was to clear a road from entrenched Germans. Tough call, they had a nasty mortar that shelled my poor Norwegians badly, so when they finally got into close combat, they got roughed up by the Jerries.

Sunday we playd Dark Moon again; great design, yes! This time the infected player was a little too careless and we found out and threw him into quarantine (after I was falsly quarantined by my unknowing and nonbelieving fellows - although they let me out after they found out about that other player). Just in time - the uninfected players won the game, but it was a close win!

After that, we tried scenario 4 of Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game. Four heroes entered the Dungeon of Ashardalon and ventured deep into it, until we finally found the Dire Chamber, where the boss-baddie already awaited us: a Duergar Guard and a couple of minor monsters. After we inflicted 5 hit points on him, I died, slaughtered by a hit with the Duergar's Morning Star; and my fellow heroes all died too. Our rotting bodies still lie in that chamber ...

Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader
Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
Board Game: Dark Moon


New Games

This game has been advertised as Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit "reloaded". True or not, I ordered it and got it this week. Risk: Star Wars Edition. It features the story from Episode VI, the assault on the second death star, the attack of the rebels to get rid of the force shield and the fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Looks really good!

 


Other News

Not much. Ingalisa is totally excited about being a student at Vienna's University and makes good progress, and also managed to pass the theoretical part of the driver's licence test. Now she has to pass the other part, where her driving skills are checked, but she wants to get more experience first, so I will drive with her a couple of hours at a closed course.

Today is Austria's national holiday and Andrea and I just came back from a walk through woods behind our house. Now she asked me to set up a game of Relic, which I will do after I wrote this weekly report! Looking forward to it!

Hope you all had a great week too! meeple
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12. Board Game: Resident Evil Deck Building Game [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2460] [Average Rating:6.55 Unranked]
Board Game: Resident Evil Deck Building Game
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
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Resident Evil: Deckbuilding Game1p x1, 3p x1
Which expansions did I use?
ALL OF THEM.
I have guilty pleasures, and by zeus this game is at the top of them (Well, maybe next to Mortal Kombat: The Movie). I dislike zombie themes, I dislike dungeon crawlers, and I even somewhat dislike the attack cards in dominion. However, the mashing of all three becomes this game that I thoroughly enjoy. It started out as an underdeveloped dominion clone, but quickly smoothed out a lot of its issues through later expansions. In fact, the last expansion made it near night perfect, adding a second RPG-esque xp balancing act in addition to the original character powers.
The multiplayer game took place in the basic dungeon- which was woefully undertested- the gatling gun and the rocket launchers being so ridiculously overpowered it kind of ruined the power curve in the game, but fun was still had by all.
The solo game took place in a penultimate dungeon, and by jove, it was excellent. Megan and I had caught something Sunday, and were under the weather. I couldn't even look at a screen without generating a headache, so I pulled out the ole dungeoncrawling zombie-smashing deckbuilder. It was a ton of fun, and I would've loved to play that with others. I will be bringing it to Halloween game night, that's for sure.

Before we started, I had also accidentally spilled the box with over 1000 cards, sorted and alphabetized. My fellow players were kind enough to pick them up. What heartache.

Lines of Action x 1 2p ww
I played very aggressively, like Megan, and in doing so, took it all the way with spiderweb connection.

Mysterium x1 6p ww
Holy cow. This was actually really great. Much better than dixit, and absolutely stunning. I really would like to play this game over a flickering candle light.

Colt Express x1 5p with both expansions
Meh. It's pretty, but the game is so light, and random in an irksome way. If I was going to program, I'd much rather play EDO. But that just speaks to my resource-lovin' euro sensibilities.

Discoveries (Megan only) x1 3p
I did not play, but taught in between my zombie killing turns. Megan then proceeded to run roughshod over her opponents. Civility, dear wife. Civility!

Africa (Megan only) x1 3p
I did not play again, but she played with her parents- her dad camping for massive points in the midgame, sweeping it.

Scharfe Schoten x1 3p ww
Ah, what wonders one experiences in simple trick taking. Megan decimated us handily.

Roll for the Galaxy x1 5p ww
I played like Megan, deep diving for tiles- and it worked! In the end, I picked up Galactic Renaissance, and though we were cash poor, our civilization consumed on credit like a madman, boosting me to the finish line on the power of intergalactic tamagotchi and pet rocks (novelty goods). I particularly enjoyed an implicit agreement between me and my left hand neighbor- he'd produce, I'd ship. It was never formalized with words, but we rode out our agreement to 1st and 2nd like crooked bureaucrats. Indeed, if Race is about building an empire, Roll is a space bureaucracy simulator. Spend your whole budget or lose government funding! Pay your workers! Commit citizens to infrastructure! Still, incredibly fun.

Intrigo x1 3p ww
An oft overlooked wonderfully mean... spatial trick-taker/auction with drafting and special powers? I don't know. As its FFG reprint Masques is only 10$, I'm surprised this isn't a gaming staple. It's brutal, head to head, and full of all sorts of sequential card value shenanigans.

EDIT: Forgot to post the quote of the week from Megan:
"What if there was a deckbuilding game about our marriage? For example, there would be a 'Win an argument card', and it would be really cheap- but it would DO NOTHING FOR YOU."
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