GCL Mafia 253: Abandoned
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Important Links:
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of November 23 - November 29, 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.

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• A weekly game is spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.
• Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.
• A top five question is posed for the next poster by anyone. These top fives are usually game-related, but can include other topics as well.

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1. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.36 Overall Rank:19521]
Board Game: Monopoly
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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I was at the post office, mailing things to people, and was talking with the lady at the counter about my BGG.Con 2015 shirt. When I told her I had been at a convention about board games, she litt up like a Christmas tree with excitement, and was very eager to tell me about how much she loved Monopoly, and she was quite good at beating her kids at it, going into some detail as to the tactics she uses. For as little love as it gets here on The Geek, it clearly holds a special place in the hearts of many.

Did you play it growing up? Have you played it since getting into the hobby? Do you have any memorable games or moments with Monopoly?
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2. Board Game: Abandon Ship [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:3277]
Board Game: Abandon Ship
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Have you ever walked away from a game that others were still playing? Why in the world would you do such a thing, you heartless cretin?
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3. Board Game: Abandon Earth [Average Rating:4.93 Unranked]
Board Game: Abandon Earth
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Have you ever been part of a game where all the players decided to end the game prematurely? Just how terrible was that game?
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4. Board Game: Leave Nothing Behind [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Leave Nothing Behind
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Scenario time. You're playing ____________, your favorite game that plays 5 or 6 players, and you're playing with the full complement. Suddenly, one of the players gets an unexpected call, and she has to leave immediately to go save a baby, and won't be returning tonight. WHAT DO?

(I'm sure the answer will vary depending on what game fills in your blank.)
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5. Board Game: Peer Review [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Peer Review
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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How was your Thanksgiving?
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6. Board Game: Facts in Five [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:4722]
Board Game: Facts in Five
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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What should my Top 5 for the week be?
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7. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:84] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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Board Game: Codenames
Board Game: Bausack
Board Game: Food Chain Magnate
Board Game: Orléans
Board Game: Ticket to Ride
Board Game: Timeline: Events
Board Game: Würfel Bohnanza


 11.0   Codenames Junior xMany
 8.5   Codenames x4
 7   Bausack
 9   Food Chain Magnate
 N/A   Orléans: Deluxe Edition NEW!
 7   Ticket to Ride
 6   Timeline: Historical Events
 N/A   Würfel Bohnanza NEW!



Codenames Junior
Our playtest of this was very successful! We played this with a 3.5-4 year old boy. We started with a 2x2 grid and then moved to a 3x3 grid. He only played as the guesser, never as the spymaster. He did a great job getting the clues, identifying the pictures, and correctly guessing word associations with multiple words. Also, when give the challenging clue "flight 1" with a bluebird and a penguin as options, he picked the bluebird correctly.

There was definitely a point where he was being silly and avoiding the right answer because he finds it fun (What else do you make a sandwich out of? Peanut butter, honey, silly answer, etc. avoiding bread), but for the most part, it was all going really well. Oh, and I had to have a platypus in the deck, which he didn't recognize. His best guess was a duck, and I think that's a pretty good correlation to the duck bill.

With how well he did, I think he can definitely handle 4x4. I'm not sure if 5x5 would be too much to take in, but I think 4x4 could be a good challenge that he can handle.

I made a suggestion for if they wanted to let him try being the spymaster, have one adult help him, one be the guesser, and do the 2x2 grid and try to correlate two pictures. At least to try to get him to learn the game, something like "guesser look away, pointing to the coloring on the spymaster card and the grid to associate the coloring with which cards you're trying to get the person to guess, and ask something like "What is one word that relates to these two cards?"

Bausack
As previously mentioned, we had a couple over from our church. He mentioned liking Jenga, so I brought this out and it was a lot of fun for us. Then we followed up with Timeline: Historical Events, which Jennifer won with. It actually came down to a tiebreaker between Jennifer and him, but Jennifer, her great ability and historical knowledge aside, got a really easy millions of years BC tiebreaker card.

Ticket to Ride
I bought the app and maps since I still have Google Play credit, and tried a map with a friend locally. It's neat and is a good app to have. When we tried a second game, though, my app kept crashing whenever I'd try to enter the game. I eventually abandoned it so it wouldn't be left open.

Food Chain Magnate
My second play, this time 4 player. I fixed my mistakes in the rules from my first play, and we fixed the mistakes somebody else played with. We actually had a debate over one thing, though, that we made a decision on but never really resolved.

Are employees played mandatory in their role? Yes according to the rules, but it generally means "If you offer a discount, you can't choose to not offer it." FAQ confirmed that if you have a recruit action, you must use it, cause why wouldn't you? (There's virtually no reason not to take a free recruit action if you can). But what about training? The rulebook uses the word "may" which implies optional. But if you play a trainer, are you forced to train? It actually made an impact in our game where a player realized, partly due to what was played, that he wasn't going to be making a sell as expected for the turn, so he was forced to train somebody into an employee he couldn't keep and promptly fire him. Obviously a bad move to make, and one that wouldn't be made unless forced.

On to the gameplay itself, I tried a slightly different strategy. I forewent the freezer, because while immensely useful, I could also see it as a crutch. I focused on advertising and got the bonuses for first billboard, first pizza and first burger advertised. These bonuses were awesome. I also managed the first to $20 and first to $100. I started off in a corner to try to monopolize the corner houses, and then took advantage of discounts (which I had competition with one other player over) and made use of a single waitress to win ties with that one player to make many sales. Another player started a hamburger radio campaign when I was going big in pizza. Radio campaigns, especially the first one, are always huge, and I was very fortunate to be immediately after him in turn order, so I immediately hired/trained to a burger chef to make 8 burgers the following turn. Completely different from my plans, but it worked out (this was also the round that I got the CFO milestone). The following round, I managed to sell out of hamburgers (8) along with my standard order of 4 pizzas, and lots of beer. Oh, it also helped that in that prior turn, I opened a restaurant in a competitive location to the player with the radio campaign. The player with the radio campaign had also been building lots of homes, so there were plenty of people being advertised to. He unfortunately didn't develop his production enough. He had a burger chef, but only had one beer to go with all of his burgers. While he still sold out, his sales paled in comparison to mine. We broke the bank about a turn or two after the first breaking, and it was my CFO bonus that broke it (we had about $20-50 left in the bank before my CFO bonus). I made over $300, about $500 after CFO bonus to win with $500 to $200 to... something like $50 and $35.

Orléans: Deluxe Edition
This was a really cool Euro that was really well designed and put together, but unless a very Euroy Euro is stellar or has something that really grabs me, it just doesn't do enough for me. I loved it, and will enjoy playing it again, but I won't request it or seek it out. I won by pursuing a "get the yellow head meeples and max out the book track". I had 7 of those and 3 houses worth the maximum 6 points each, and probably 50 or so in money.
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8. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1708] [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
Board Game: Bananagrams
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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EDIT: Forgot a game! It occurred before Bananagramsblitz so I don't feel bad.

Airborne Commander New!
Bananagrams
Anomia
Codenames
Runebound (Third Edition)
€uro Crisis
Clockwork Wars

Airborne Commander
I was really excited for the jury duty summons but knew that the pool would be boring while I waited to see if I got picked (I didn't ) so I decided to let the nerd flag fly and took some DnD books and my recently Kickstarted copy of Airborne Commander. Luckily there was a table, so after a couple hours of working on the DnD campaign I pulled out the game to play a couple rounds. It's a solo deckbuilder set around the actions of the 101st Airborne (Band of Brothers) during WW2. Only got 2 games in but first impression is that it's hard, very hard. The instructions recommend a specific order to the enemy deck for your first few games and right off the bat you are going to lose soldiers permanently or take a bunch of disorganization cards. Deciding to save soldiers to buy new cards comes at a pretty solid opportunity cost so I can see it being full of tough decisions. Hoping to squeeze in a few more games soon.

Bananagrams
My god we played hours of this. My sister in law went to a boardgame party down in Houston a few weeks ago and played this a bunch and liked it. When she saw I had it she asked to play and she, Katie, their mom, and I played like 100 times. I like this one, it's got some of the same fun stuff that Escape: Curse of the Temple has going for it but for Scrabble. Funny sidenote about the boardgame party, is that my SIL mentioned how the girl who was hosting had like 2 big dollies of games and how she was "a little obsessed" and yet it was apparently all mass market games like Taboo, Scattergories, etc. No "hobby" games. I also cringed a little at "obsessed" as I glanced up and down my overflowing bookshelves.

Anomia
Did not go over very well. I really like word games, but often don't like playing them and this is one of those times where I felt that way. I'm probably not objectively a great Word Game Player but among any average group I do really really well and people start to get annoyed and grumble and when it's a competitive group it starts to take an uncomfortable tinge where I stop enjoying myself. Played through one deck of this and then excused myself to the Playstation for a bit while everyone else went back to Bananagrams.

Codenames
I wasn't super hype on this, but we recorded another podcast episode last week and Charlie's description of it sold me on it. The FLGS had a buy 2 get 1 free sale so I went and snagged a copy of this since we were in Word Game Mode Alpha. It went over really well, though we only played 3p. I liked it a lot and think it will get more fun as we play more and start getting better at stringing together more multi-guess clues. Word:1 over and over gets a little dull.

Runebound
I do really like this game and am considering getting rid of Mage Knight. Anyone I'd play that with already owns it and I can't see myself ever pulling it off the shelf when I could play RB. I paid a lot more attention to monster combat to see if I felt like they were samesey like we discussed last week and didn't really feel that way. I will say that I wish there was a little more guidance for monster combat. A little icon that says "Aggressive" or "Intelligent" or whatever. It feels weird to control combat against your cooperative ally (kinda) and often found myself wondering if I should play with full knowledge of my opponent's surge abilities even if I was a dumb troll, or whether or not I should recognize that I'd die this turn and maximize damage immediately in lieu of setting up for more damage later (as in, I Raf know the troll is going to die but a dumb troll wouldn't). Seems like a weird thing in the game where you could have an opponent who goes for broke in trying to eliminate you every time you fight a monster and the person who controls the enemy when they fight isn't as bloodthirsty. I tried 2 new heroes though, and they all felt very different which was cool.

Euro Crisis
Another great game. I can see myself playing this over and over. It's super tense for the majority of the game even though it plays very quickly. In this game, Tim invested heavily into two countries both in points and income and he saw himself eliminated from the game right before the last two rounds. "I guess I'm Bear Sterns" was his comment. I was right on the edge of being eliminated but since I'd manipulated turn order appropriately I escaped and won a crushing victory with my points marker off the score track. Really dig this game.

Clockwork Wars
Second game of the day for Tim, John, and me. This time I took control of the Troglodytes on a 3p map. Not a lot of combat in this game, and a couple of times I committed inefficiently because I thought there would be blood. Decided to try leveraging some discoveries for alternate scoring and to also hit the espionage deck hard. There are some incredibly strong cards there. It was neck and neck for a bit, and then I played two that unfortunately crippled Tim for a round even though he was in last. Surged me far ahead though, and John wasn't able to catch up.

On my mind
I did the GCL proud when it came to Game Acquisition. MOAR GAMES was the rallying cry this weekend. At the FLGS sale I snagged Codenames, The Time Stories Expansion, and the Castles of Mad King Ludwig expansion. I also picked up my winnings from the last auction: Formula D and Homesteaders for 30 bucks total. Pretty pumped about that. I also finally got my copy of Epic but at this point I wonder if I'll even play. Secret Santa also came! This year's haul is Sherlock Holmes, Patchwork, and a new podcast as Santa is the host of Making Dad with Chip and Zach which was pretty cool. Finally, I received a mystery package of a big carrying case for X-Wing full of awesome foam trays. I wrote a "Christmas Wish" blurb about the product for Miniature Market and the general manager of the company saw it and wanted to send it to me. Pretty cool

I also dusted off the video game controller. Tom works at Gamestop and got me a sweet deal on a used PS4 and gave me the new Star Wars Battlefront for my birthday. It hasn't gotten awesome reviews but I'm having an absolute blast playing it and have been able to play a little with my brother. I suppose I'll get Fallout soon.

Thanksgiving was excellent. It's nice to have Katie's family here and it was a really good meal. Raffi was great, and we've started the process of putting him down to sleep on his own. It's going really well for the most part, though last night was rough.
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9. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1008]
Board Game: Titan
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Board Game: Mysterium
Board Game: Mice and Mystics: Heart of Glorm
Board Game: Ghost Blitz
Board Game: Codenames
Board Game: Acquire
Board Game: Titan


 N/A   Mysterium NEW!
 9.5   Mice and Mystics x2
 N/A   Ghost Blitz
 N/A   Codenames x10 NEW!
 9   Acquire
 8.5   Titan

Titan For all the jokes, I do occasionally get to play this and really enjoy it. I had a pretty formidable assortment of stacks built, which did me no good- my Titan stack lagged behind. When it was crushed by another player's Titan (yes, we had hot Titan-on-Titan action) it super-powered him, and he carried it to the win. I'd like to play this more frequently- I'm getting better but still not as good at the strategy as I'd like.

Mice and Mystics has an incredibly good story, and I don't see the plot twists they have in mind. We got through scenarios 3&4 in Heart of Glorm. The game itself is starting to wear thin (the mechanics are pretty repetitive), but the story makes it worth my time. And we get the occasional surprise that puts new spins on the gameplay.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We were ambushed by undead rats using grape-traps ala Indiana Jones.


Acquire is something I get nostalgic about, but it has a couple items that shows its age. If your companies don't merge early (and it can happen if your tile draws are poor) you'll sit for a while waiting and may lose through not fault of your own. This happened to a new player to whom we taught the game, and I think negatively affected his opinion. I drew tiles that would work well if played in the right sequence and ultimately led me to victory, but I could not really show that to him during the game.

Codenames was well received. Vlaada really knocked this one out of the park.

On my mind: We're having discussion to get some bigger games played- the chief suspects I've seen floating around are Dune, Here I Stand and Sword of Rome. I'm really thankful that I have an opponent who plays some of longer 2 player titles I've been exploring, as we can set up a day and get them to the table. I wish it was easy to get six players free for the long, heavy stuff. But December isn't conductive to heavy gaming.
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10. Board Game: Season Harvest [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Season Harvest
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Codenames 13
Bargain Hunter 2
Sushi Go! 2
...and then, we held hands. NEW! 1
Arboretum NEW! 1
Dungeon Lords 1
Evolution + Evolution: Flight 1
Mysterium 1
Patchwork 1
Pictomania 1
Power Grid: The Stock Companies NEW! 1
Sticheln 1
The Grizzled 1
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia 1

...and then, we held hands.: I had been curious about this since seeing it on Rahdo. In particular, the novelty of the theme grabbed me, so when I saw it on Kickstarter from Ludicreations, I immediately backed it. First, the production is great and I look forward to hearing what the soundtrack will be like. As for the game itself, Matt and I lost (despite totally breaking the rules and talking more than we should have). As we played through, we started to pick up on some of the nuances of staying balanced. I still think it's a cool idea, though I don't know how I feel about it as a game. I kept thinking of what Raf and Charlie talked about in regard to The Grizzled and games as Art. This struck me as perhaps not the most mechanically innovative game, but it kept bringing to mind the tension in a relationship and both parties trying to achieve emotional balance. We'll see how I feel after subsequent plays.

Arboretum: This one had gotten a bit of hype and I was excited to give it a try. I was disappointed. The art is pretty and the feeling of building up an arboretum was kind of relaxing in a Tokaido kind of way, but I thought the scoring ruined it. In order to score for a color, you have to have the highest sum of that color left in your hand. That means you're trying to balance putting trees out while keeping them in your hand too. Although I get why this would be interesting to some people, I find it an annoying mechanic. I'd be willing to try this again since I think I could play it a little bit better, but of the four of us playing a half hour game, no one felt the need to immediately give it a second try (compared to Bargain Hunter, which we played a second time just for another try). Glad I didn't end up buying it recently with the latest reprint that just happened.

Power Grid: The Stock Companies: First of all, kudos to FF for the great integration of stocks into Power Grid. Mechanically, everything fit together and worked well. It's impressive how he made that happen and does make me wonder about 504 simply for seeing how all the different modules work together. That said, the game was slooooow with a looooot of down time. It also had the fiddliness that I recall Black Friday having, which, I think even if everyone had played before, would still bog the game down (e.g., how the stock prices move). I think our game lasted about three hours and I was ready to call it by about one hour in. For three hours, there are much better games to fill the time. Unless my friend who owns this really pushes to play it again, I can't see myself giving it another try. I would much rather play Kansas Pacific (which has the similar idea of the president running the company) or Dominant Species (which isn't related at all, but takes about three hours and is way better).

Team Asia: I had only played this map once and it was years ago. This was a much better experience and changed my opinion of "that side is terrible" to "it's actually kind of fun".

On My Mind:

My copy of Through the Ages (generously shipped by Robin) arrived this morning (a day early than estimated) and included a copy of Convoy (generously gifted by Robin)! I am super excited for both and cannot wait to force Matt to play. (He still owes me for Super Scrabble.)

We finished Jessica Jones. We had some qualms with a few things that happened in the plot (see below), but overall it was enjoyable. I also thought they did a particularly good job with the character of Trish as she wasn't just the typical best friend.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
- The character of Robyn is so fucking irritating and served no purpose other than to make trouble happen. It felt contrived and unrealistic.

- I assume that the subplot with Simpson and his private research company is being set up for the next season, but it was somewhat annoying and felt out of place.

- How many times are they going to let Kilgrave escape?! FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

- I'm still not sure why Kilgrave was so obsessed with Jessica, but he was creepy as shit and his powers were terrifying. Well done.
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11. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: The Marcy Case [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: The Marcy Case
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Coconuts x3
Spyfall x3
Good Cop Bad Cop x2
Wits & Wagers x2
504 x1 (new!)
Blood Rage x1
Cthulhu Wars x1
Survive: Space Attack! x1 (new!)
T.I.M.E Stories: The Marcy Case x1 (new!)


TIME Stories
I refuse to add the periods for the (not quite) acronym, sorry. I enjoyed this slightly more than the Asylum, which I also found excellent. Much more combat in this one and a very different feel to the story, but still an exceptional narrative experience. There is a touchy detail here that we missed which made the resolution of the story not as fulfilling as it could of been, but overall everyone loved it.

Also, we played this with 7 players, sharing characters. It worked fine as the strategic decision points are made in group discussion, not by controlling a particular piece or character. Several of these people played Asylum and loved it so much they didn't want to miss out, which is how we ended up with so many.

Spyfall
A couple of people in my group really don't like this game because of the lack of player aids. My main gaming buddy Ben (who doesn't like social deduction much anyway) said he has no fun playing it. Half-contemplating selling it now but I really dig it.

504
It works and the first world (123) is somewhat boring. Not much to say yet until I can play more.

Blood Rage
Taught my brother and another friend, along with Ben playing his second game. I destroyed them.

Cthulhu Wars
We played this right after Blood Rage. My brother spread too far out with Black Goat and was set back early, which kind of soured the experience for him as he never had a realistic shot at winning. I rode in second place most of the game and almost leapt into first (as Crawling Chaos) but Cthulhu ultimately won.

Survive: Space Attack!
Survive in space. A couple of new elements like Laser Turrets and Fighters which are pretty neat. This might make it one step too far for family gaming, not sure.


On My Mind
Couldn't help myself, I ordered Tumblin-Dice, Ghostbusters, and the Colt Express expansion in a sweet black Friday deal.

I have almost all of KDM sleeved. Going to start putting together the starting minis soon. 504 is the main thing I'm focused on right now.

We are all caught on Homeland and the season kind of got worse as it went on. It's still exciting but a bit ridiculous so far. We'll see how it ends.

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12. Board Game: Saint Petersburg (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:593]
Board Game: Saint Petersburg (Second Edition)
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Saint Petersburg (Second Edition)
Board Game: Android


Saint Petersburg (second edition)
Android

No new games this week, but I did finish my BGG.CON write up, for those still interested...

Touchstonethefool's BGG.CON 2015 Games Played

Android was the 3p game mentioned earlier in this weeks GL. I wanted to give it another go after the interesting but draggy 5p play almost a year+ ago. My opinion remains largely unchanged in that it's kind of a mess of a game that tries mightily to be a unique experience, but that has enough clunky things going on that it just doesn't work for me. I'll be avoiding it in the future.

Saint Pete is so awesome, way better with +3p, though also susceptible to newbs unintentionally giving advantages to experienced players.
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13. Board Game: Candy Land [Average Rating:3.18 Overall Rank:19526]
Board Game: Candy Land
Philip Newman
United States
Plano
Texas
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Plays since November 23, 2015

 10.   Dominion x30 (MF)
 7.5   Summoner Wars x2 NEW!
 10.   Brass (OOTH)
 2.5   Candy Land
 3.5   Pengoloo NEW!

Played a couple of my league matches yesterday... 1-5 in the first (I played really badly against the 2015 World Masters champ) and 4-2 in the second (after continuing to play badly in the first two and finally turning things around). Haven't written them up yet.

In between, I played this hilarious game:

mith 46-29 Geronimoo - Ambassador/Possession is always entertaining. I opened double Ambassador, while he took Baker/Ambassador. I assumed the Baker was to spike an early Possession, but he actually didn't get his until turn 15. Meanwhile, I picked up two Islands after he took his Potion, and set aside both my Ambassadors (!) before transitioning to Possession myself. He bought Islands later, but never connected them with his Ambassador (or wasn't trying hard to do so), allowing me to steal a Province and Duchy for an 18 point swing. Being able to set aside his Islands with Possessions would have been awesome too.

Candy Land and Pengoloo (or rather, a Chick-fil-a kids' meal version) were with my nephew. He was quite good at the matching. With Candy Land, he would want to grab the pawn that matched the card rather than find the space... but he also figured out that searching through the deck to find the double cards was a good strategy. My sister won after drawing the snowflake card... broken!

Summoner Wars (picked up the Starters and Master Set in the VFM) was quite enjoyable. In the first game we played Phoenix Elves (Aerial) vs. Tundra Orcs - I had all sorts of luck rolling for Fury, and she wasn't rolling well on her own attacks. I think I had 6-7 guys out at the end vs. her summoner. In the second game, it was Guild Dwarves vs. Cave Goblins (Aerial) - She got off to a much faster start here, and we both had more magic to get champions out. I had a small lead at the end, which was compounded by her confusing my remaining champion and my summoner, which resulted in some wasted turns and eventually a pretty comfortable win. She enjoyed this one (said it reminded her a little of playing Warcraft), so shouldn't have a problem getting this back to the table to try out the Master Set factions.

One of these days I'll finish my BGG.con write-up.
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14. Board Game: Thunderbirds [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:1000]
Board Game: Thunderbirds
Timothy Hunt
United States
St Louis
Missouri
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Board Game: Animal Upon Animal
Board Game: Thunderbirds
Board Game: Bomb Squad Academy


8  Animal Upon Animal
8  Thunderbirds x3
7  Bomb Squad Academy

The plays of Animal Upon Animal do not reflect all the plays that Benjamin gets. Sometimes he plays with his Mama when I'm out or unavailable, and he sometimes plays with the baby sitter when we're out gaming.

Thunderbirds got played as a 2p, 4p and 3p this week. The 2p, at home, was great, though we thought it would be very difficult - manipulating the other characters and their machines is difficult when there's only two of you. Fortunately, I was playing Scott whose ability is to acquire tokens that can be turned in for F.A.B. cards without the penalty of advancing The Hood. Having a lot of those cards certainly helped.

The 4p and 3p games were played at a meetup event. When I got the game out, one person there just about squealed at the thought of being able to play the Thunderbirds game - big fan of the TV show, he was. So, although he can be a bit frustrating to play with, I let him into the 4th spot. The first game was a nightmare. We had some really tough Disasters to rescue people from, and we just couldn't do it. Mr Almost Squealer then decided it was a terrible game (he's somewhat notorious for having to do well in a game on the very first play - one game he left in the middle off was Galaxy Trucker, because his ship got destroyed in the first race. I believe he hasn't played it since, and this event happened years ago). So, he left, leaving the three of us - and we saved the world!

On My Mind. Home networking. Upgraded our internet from DSL to Cable internet. Went from 3-4Mbps down to 50Mbps on wifi, 80Mbps wired. Except when Benjamin was asleep, in which case, wifi crawled. Odd correlation, but there you go. Eventually figured out our Wifi Router only supported 2.4GHz and the baby monitor also runs on the 2.4GHz band, so it was interfering. Came up with 2-pronged (foreshadowing!) attack: Get a new router and run some ethernet. Some of this was mentioned last week. New router arrived Friday. Turns out the old router was also limiting throughput. I can consistently get 130Mbps down wired off peak hours. (Early-mid evening, we "only" get around 50-60Mbps). 5GHz band works great.

Wiring the ethernet was interesting, because I wanted to move the Wifi router and cable modem to a different location that had more room for devices for future expansion. The friend who was coming over to help install the ethernet pointed out that the outlet there was only 2-pronged, and had no ground. But he noticed that that outlet was on its own breaker with no other connections, so he said it would be easy to replace with a 3-prong outlet. I then lamented about our janky house wiring, including the fact that the outlet for the microwave is on the main floor lighting circuit, so if you happen to have more than one ceiling fan on during the summer, and run the microwave, you'll almost certainly trip the breaker. Friend says that given we're already running one electric circuit, it's not that much more effort to install another, including cutting a hole in the (plaster and lath) wall in the kitchen. Took quite a bit longer than originally planned, mainly because of the scope creep and trip to the hardware store, but we're all very happy with the results - we can now take the post-it note off the microwave oven, our printer is now wired instead of wireless (it only ran on 2.4GHz), and wired connections are now easily available in the places we most frequently use our laptops.
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15. Board Game: The Gallerist [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:55]
Board Game: The Gallerist
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Board Game: The Gallerist
Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases
Board Game: Lost Cities
Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition)


A pretty solid week. More than I was expecting!

 8.5   The Gallerist NEW!
 8   Fury of Dracula (third edition) NEW!

 8   Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
 7   Lost Cities


I'm a fan of Vital Lacerda, and so me enjoying The Gallerist shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's a mechanically complex game with 8 actions (although only 4 board spaces), tons of ways to get points, a lot of endgame bonuses you can gather over the course of the game, and multiple types of resources to manage. Except for a couple things on the board, it's surprisingly thematic for one of his games, but I still definitely think of it as a mechanics-first game.

I like it. I would recommend it to others who like his games. But I doubt it will change anyone's mind if they don't like his style.

Aside: top-notch production values and a great box insert are a nice bonus.

Fury of Dracula is one I have been meaning to try for a long time and we got the 3rd edition to the table. It was really enjoyable! Well, minus some rules issues. I mean, yes, it was the first time for almost everyone (and our one experienced player had only played once), but we still ran into some unfortunate issues. Everything was resolvable by re-reading the rules... except one. There's one hunter ally that I think we played "as written" but it was intended to act differently, because Sister Agatha is absurdly powerful compared to the other allies.

So those slight issues aside, it was a really fun game. Definitely want to play again, and I do want to try it as Dracula soon.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective was a nice play with my wife's family, although due to lots of football games on TV and a leaky roof at home, our playtime was cut short and we didn't finish.

I still really enjoy the game, but it can be frustrating if your leads seem to run dry and you just don't quite see the next step. Looking forward to more plays regardless.

Lost Cities was a nice little revisiting, as I haven't played it for over a year. It's still very enjoyable, and the tension between "do I play this or hold out so I don't help my opponent" is handled expertly. I had a lead on my opponent at first, but sadly a giant multiplier led him to a big lead that I couldn't catch up to as the game went on. Has aged relatively well thus far I'd say.

On my mind:

Just Cause 3 comes out tomorrow - the first game in the series was utterly forgettable, but the sequel was amazingly good. It had great tongue-in-cheek humor, lots of missions, and a really fun set of gameplay gimmicks that carried it way farther than we were expecting. My wife and I are looking forward to this one for sure.

I got one of the Brettspiel Advent Calendars at BGG.CON and I'm going to try and stick to it through xmas, which means my first expansion is tomorrow! Here's hoping it's for a game I have.

We're finally getting our roof replaced this week. We've dealt with an intermittent and hard-to-diagnose leak for a year and it has dodged each repair. It's not cheap to do that, but it will be worth it - we're sick of paying for repairs that don't work.
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16. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:474] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Board Game: The Republic of Rome
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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BGG.CON week

Suburbia: This game was decided in the first round when the player to my right bought a building instead of taking a lake. An opening lake allowed me to take the Desert on the second turn and it was off to the races from there.

The Republic of Rome: Not a bad way to commence the convention, no? We had planned a five-player game, but a dude from Splotter showed up and asked to play, so... six players. We did Late Republic for the first time, which was quite interesting. I got to control Caesar, which was all sorts of fun. Everyone is (rightfully) terrified of him, but he's so awesome, you kind of have to let him have power at least once. Someone passed an insane law that allowed governors to stay in Rome, so it made getting rid of threats nearly impossible outside of an assassination. The Late Republic makes threats emerge really quickly, and Rome doesn't have much money, so everyone is walking on eggshells. Would like to try it again. Unfortunately, we didn't reach a resolution, calling the game after about 8 hours. Hmm, didn't someone say something about that sort of thing...

One downer: We had a player who was totally uninvested. It really wears on you to see him regularly leaving the room and having people come in to make transactions.

Scotch tasting: Mmm... scotch. The Octomore was the belle of the ball.

Artemis: This is a very, um, interesting experience right after the scotch tasting. But yeah, I wanted to do this for a while and it was fun.

In'N'Out Burger: So good, it got Abbie to eat a burger for the first time in like a decade.

Spyfall: I wanted something quick as it was almost midnight, but the group really wasn't into it, so it fizzled. Oh well. Needed sleep for...

1830: Railways & Robber Barons: The was the opposite of RoR; we had 7 people signed up and only 4 showed. I got off to a bit of a slow start with the PRR and seeing others sell off stocks in it to fund other things. That changed when privates could be sold (in the middle of an operating round, which was great for me because PRR was the lowest price). Selling my private allowed me to dump PRR stock (except for the president's share, which nobody wanted) and found the NYC at the highest par value. Later, selling off some valuable NYNH stock allowed me to found the C&O, also at the highest par value. Suddenly, I was snowballing out of control. I forced the 4 trains to rust by personally funding a diesel train for one of my companies. We had to end, but it was obvious I was way out in front. The PRR had suddenly become quite valuable, so I snatched those stocks back up. When we called it, I was in control of 3 of the top 5 companies. So glad I picked this up in the Math Trade.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong: This is a decent enough deduction game; if you're into deduction, I'd check it out. If you're not, I don't think there's much for you were. This was popular enough with our Houston group it got pulled out again on Sunday with the girl who does Cardboard Vault.

Poker: I had yet to do the poker tournament, so I figured I would give it a go. Back in college, I would make my food money playing poker against guys who watched ESPN and thought that taught them how to play. But that was a while ago and I was curious to see how my skills held up. Aldie was at my table, which was fun. I played very tight early on, earning me a lot of respect when I got involved in hands. Things were going well, and after the first hour so, I was in the chip lead at my table or close to it. Fortunes turned against me when I went all in with a full house, hoping the other guy in the hand caught a flush. He called... and revealed quads. Ouch. That crippled me, leaving only about $300 in chips. A desperate situation. I was able to claw and scrape long enough to last until the interminable break, but with blinds rising quickly, I had to get lucky. I didn't, so I finished about 90th out of a field of ~230.

Icarus: I'm not sure what happened to Knizia, but this game is simply awful. We all decided to end this because it sucked so much. There is nothing about it worth playing. Avoid.

Jolly Roger: The Game of Piracy & Mutiny: On the other hand, this was a pleasant surprise! It's rare to find an enjoyable "take that" game, but the pirate theme and the taking of temporary sides works. Funnily enough, I find myself the fulcrum of sorts, swinging mutinies one way or the other. Didn't quiiite get enough treasure, though. Maybe I have to be meaner. For $20, it was worth picking up.

Mafia de Cuba: This is *much* better with the expansion. I was lukewarm on this before but now would play it. I still think it's fundamentally flawed, though, as there are people who are just not going to be really involved because of the way the game is set up.

Werewolf: Werewolf is all about the moderator. A good moderator does not spend more time in the night phase than the day phase. That would seem basic.

A Study in Emerald: A couple of the people we played with on Friday wanted to learn this and we were happy to oblige. As per the decree of the heavens, I was a Restorationist. I was really unsure about whether it was 3-1 or 2-2; I just went about blowing crap up as quickly as I could. That seemed to work out OK as it freaked out the Loyalists to see me shooting ahead in points. There was one guy who was playing coy, but I decided not to worry about it too much. Things got bogged down for a while as we tussled for cities, but that eventually got broken up (as it tends to do). I ended up being the sole Restorationist, but it was good I ended the game when I did, as Change of Heart had just hit the Permanent Effects and could really have screwed things up.

Tragedy Looper: I feel like I'm always teaching this game, so I jumped at the chance to play with people who had already played. The game comes with 10 scenarios, and when you get past the first five, they become super interesting with characters with some pretty crazy powers and roles that can be very powerful or disastrous, depending on the situation. This was harmed by having to break for Game Show, as I forgot about something important and really screwed up when we came back. Basically, my mistakes caused me to give the game to the Protagonists by default. It was really a shame, as I had them all completely fooled as to what plot they were even under. But I wholeheartedly recommend getting into the meatier scenarios.

Game Show: Family Feud was fun (The Dr. Seuss answers nearly caused a mini-riot though). I think I'll skip Game Show next year, as I did a lot of events this time.

Stronghold (2nd edition): I wrote down a list of games I wanted to play at the convention; this is the only one we got to and we only played half. This is in part because of the rulebook, which... woof. Burn it. Not helpful at all. I think there's a fun game here, but we had to put in just too much work to coax it out. The "300"-ish art is cool, but also makes it kinda hard to really see what's going on the board.

The Resistance: I got to play with Don Eskridge. That was cool.

Napoleon's Triumph: One of my RoR mates was gracious enough to teach this to me, for which I am thankful. This game is quite neat, and unlike other wargames I've played. It's not about throwing troops at each other or even manoeuvring as much as it is a game of cat-and-mouse, probing for weakness and gaining ground an inch at a time. I would love to play a full version of this at some point, as I rather liked what I saw.

Bottom of the 9th: I enjoyed the demo of this enough that I immediately purchased it. I've since showed it to three people who have all liked it as well.

Last week

Metro: Picked this up at the convention; it's a game I've wanted to add for a while. Unsure about how to handle players whose trains are all done. Should they keep laying tiles, or are they essentially eliminated? Queen not providing full sets of all colors is just one of those weird, off-putting things Queen seems to enjoy doing.

Witch's Brew: Another one I had been wanting to obtain for a while. I got clobbered pretty good, as the guy to my left always seemed to have the right play.

Thunder Alley: I saw in the rules there is a provision for season play... I might try to put that together. I bet it would be fun. I was doing really well, all three of my cars well position for a good finish coming up on the final stretch... and then a yellow comes out. Absolute worst time. There were LAPPED cars that got a total reprieve. Nobody pitted, either, which was another disaster for me because I had two cars with three wear markers. I was going last in the round- all of these factors totally killed me. I ended up finishing behind someone who had a car removed because it was lapped 2/3 through the race. Total bummer.

T.I.M.E Stories: I'm not sure I buy the hype. I think I have a problem when there's a puzzle and you can't proceed until you figure it out... but one or two people have all the clues and they're the ones working on it and you're just kind of sitting there, waiting. That's not fun. I also didn't like we never really got to figure out WHY the people were doing what they were doing. I would do the next case, but I wasn't swept off my feet like everyone else seemed to be.

Sheriff of Nottingham: I tried the innovative "never lie" strategy. Just didn't feel like I had a good place. Ended up solidly in third out of five. Probably should've lied.
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17. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles – Base Set [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:890]
Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles – Base Set
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles – Base Set
Board Game: Splendor


 9   Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles – Base Set x2
 8   Splendor x4

Not much gaming this week over Thanksgiving, but I did finally update my BGG.Con play list item from last week!
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