GCL Phoenix 266: Persistence of the Phoenix (7 February 2016)
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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You've found the 266th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Welcome to our regular visitors, dedicated lurkers, opportunistic subscription-stalkers, long (or short)-time members, and passers-by. Please feel free to thumb the list so that we know you're there.

If you're not a regular, and the notion of a Geek|Game Chat League seems peculiar or unfamiliar, please check out the wiki page.

As usual, members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars.) My most optimistic rendering of our roster comprises:
archivists
BennyD
darker
chally
Dormammu
Eeeville
enzo622
familygaming
hawk-x-
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
karlfast
Lowengrin
Morganza
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
Smintie <-- next week's organizer.
Taibi
tjshields
woodnoggin

(We also celebrate the historic contributions (and occasional present visits: y'all are always welcome to add an item) of Bruzza, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, topherr and Yokiboy.)


I recently enjoyed pondering the idea of Staying Power: games that have maintained one's interest for a while. Following the fine example of Eric Brosius' Staying Power metric, I posted my own Games with a tiny amount of Staying Power. On the way there, I needed to build the code to do the work ('cause I'm nothing if not lazy) - and so, for my amusement, thought to discover each of our top couple Staying Power entries. I expect these aren't completely a surprise:
--
archivists (since 2008): Agricola=47.93 Race for the Galaxy=8.40
BennyD (since 2006): Hansa Teutonica=10.60 Imperial=6.63
chally (since 2010): Twilight Struggle=6.93 Bora Bora=1.81
darker (since 2009): Argent: The Consortium=4.19 Hanabi=0.37
Dormammu (since 2010): Magic: The Gathering=77.30 Race for the Galaxy=16.30
Eeeville (since 2008): Ascension: Storm of Souls=358.87 Ascension: Deckbuilding Game=279.06
enzo622 (since 2008): Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition=12.06 Agricola=7.72
familygaming (since 2008): Agricola=19.93 Eclipse=4.70
hawk-x- (since 2007): Innovation=10.21 Twilight Struggle=4.61
Hawkeye77 (since 2007): Princes of the Renaissance=3.68 Tichu=3.29
indigopotter (since 2009): Magnate=7.49 Yahtzee=3.85
karlfast (since 2012): The Castles of Burgundy=83.49 Carson City=21.98
Lowengrin (since 2010): The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game=14.03 Carcassonne=10.73
Morganza (since 2007): 1830: Railways & Robber Barons=7.66 1846: The Race for the Midwest=7.02
Mr_Nuts (since 2008): Race for the Galaxy=18.66 Innovation=17.31
ravenskana (since 2010): Le Havre=14.08 Innovation=5.35
rynelf (since 2006): Race for the Galaxy=15.47 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization=9.18
Smintie (since 2014): Tigris & Euphrates=12.64 Pandemic=4.24
Taibi (since 2009): Innovation=24.25 Jet Set=14.83
tjshields (since 2010): Brass: Lancashire=33.24 Innovation=15.97
woodnoggin (since 2006): Agricola=97.45 Race for the Galaxy=18.40
--
If Staying Power doesn't have a resonance for you (or you've not bothered to chase either of those links; no worries!) The notion is that it provides a kind of decaying average of the number of hours you've played the game in question per year over the past while. Last year (2015, for my calculation) counts for full value - then every year before that at only 5/6ths of the year after it (that's "after" in time; not in the sequence that I've described. Oh, language!)

I ignored games that hadn't been played for three years (except for SJ, since she only started recording plays in 2014); and ignored games that weren't played in 2015 (except for Walt and Aliza, who didn't record many plays of anything last year.)


After that fiddling, I found it a bit unsatisfying. It definitely renders what it wants to: games that one has played often and for a (recent) while. But I found myself wondering about the games that might have missed: things that were played a lot, and for a while - but weren't necessarily the current set.

So following our riff on alternative H-Indices in #264 (as embarrassing as that might be for me, given that I misunderstood the Bendex™ at least twice!) I found myself wondering whether yet another alternative H-Index might describe what I wanted. So I played with a H³-Index: the maximum N where one has played N games (at least) N times for N consecutive years. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, most of us end up with rather small H³-Indices: I'll not list 'em all. (In case you were interested, Rich is the only one of us to get to a 5 - that is, he's the only one to have played five games at least five times in five consecutive years!)

That was unsatisfying, too.


But then I wondered whether there's a more subjective sense of staying power: perhaps a game one wanted to play for years; one that taunted from the shelf (even if it didn't actually get a play); a game one thought about - whether to ponder strategies, or consider how to enhance the bits, or perhaps reimagine into something a bit easier to get into play. I don't know! So I thought I could use this week's bully pulpit to ask you all.

What games have Staying Power for you? And how do you think about the idea?
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1. Board Game: Staying Alive [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Staying Alive
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Without any sense of criteria or definition: what games have Staying Power for you? (And if you have a "Why?" associated with the choice, I'd be delighted to hear that too. But - for this question, at least - that's completely not required.)
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2. Board Game: Advanced Persistent Threat Challenge [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Advanced Persistent Threat Challenge
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Ok: let's pretend you've been gracious enough to contribute to the previous question. Any ideas on how one might want to define Staying Power to satisfy your personal aesthetics? (If you think it can't be defined, I'm happy to hear that too!)
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3. Board Game: Pop-In Scoring Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Pop-In Scoring Game
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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And for my amusement: how did the two games I called out for you in the header do against your subjective view? Were they things that you'd wanted to identify with - or irrelevances that you'd just happened to play a lot (but didn't grab a bunch of your attention.)

(If that last didn't immediately make any sense, I'm perhaps projecting a bit. I played Machi Koro 28 times last year - all at the provoking of son #2. While I'm perfectly happy to play again if he wanted, it's not something that has any mindshare at all for me: I'm playing it for him, not for me. And any scoring that would pretend I cared about Machi Koro would simply be wrong!)
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4. Board Game: Neue Heimat [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:1872]
Board Game: Neue Heimat
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_5_ Madame Ching x1
My daughter had not played this yet and had asked about it so brought it out to teach her. I managed to pull off the full sail to Hong Kong with only one mission tile to go, which got me the win with 31, else I would have been in last place to my daughter's 25 and my wife's score of 23. Overall, unless my daughter (or someone else in the family) starts requesting this, it will eventually leave the collection. It's mostly fine; there's some attacky cards I don't think are to our taste, but the card play here is similar enough to Keltis I think I'd rather just play that.

_9_ Concordia x1
My wife joined me for Saturday game day and we brought this as my wife has been enjoying this game and with the new Salsa bits thought we could get some of that into play. Of the five people playing, two were new and one had played once before (and possibly with some rules errors then), so we didn't use the Forum, but we did use the larger side of the Salsa map and the salt resource, all of which I think were good decisions. Jerome, new to the game, won with 99 with some heavy mercury scoring among other things, Brian got second with 86, I had 72 and my wife 68, while Joel struggled a bit but managed 53.

_9_ Neue Heimat x1
I had brought this with the intention of teaching James, and Brian was willing to give it a try too. Only one round played. The Mayor came in handy in giving points to everyone but me, with James winning at 57, Brian 22, while I had 21, and I think half of that was embezzlement. I would have been well setup though if we were playing multiple rounds, which of course still means I lost. Looking forward to getting this played more often!

_10_ Innovation x1
Taught this to James in a two player match. I was showing my hand at times to let him know various options so this was very much a learning game, but he still won the game!

_6_ T.I.M.E Stories x1
Josh brought this and Mindy, James, and myself joined in to start the Aslyum case. As I suspect would be obvious, we lost the first playthrough, but instead of resetting we set it aside as Mindy had to leave. I had a lot of mixed reactions to it. No spoilers here, but I might comment later on some general thoughts, Right now my rating reflects a desire to see the end of the story. I found the actual decisions of gameplay to be fairly basic although the play was fun due to the company and some silly remarks throughout.

_9_ Inotaizu x1
New to Josh and James; Will had played this with me once almost exactly a year ago. Happily, all caught on to the mechanics quickly and the game was really interesting. The final round was very interesting and I think James and I shot each other enough to keep us both back allowing the others to pass us.
Josh 40
Will 38
Jon 36
James 36
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5. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:82]
Board Game: Patchwork
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Patchwork x6

Two plays each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We go back and forth enough that it always feels like either of us could win when we start a game, which is nice. We play with my button collection from my sewing box, which is fun (and of course the deluxe tile bag).

Weather is still in the forties here, sunny, with blue skies and green grass. Just amazing for February. I feel quite spoiled. We went to a little local lake to take pictures of the swans today, but we couldn't see them. We got some local produce, honey, and bread from one of our favorite farm stores. The apricot trees that I started from pits are about a foot tall, enjoying their spot in a sunny window. Soon it will be time to start seeds I saved from my garden last year.

Yesterday was our town's winter festival. We walked to the fire house for the chili tasting/competition. There was a great pulled pork and squash entry. We also watched three guys carving ice sculptures with chain saws in the park.
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6. Board Game: Inhabit the Earth [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1843]
Board Game: Inhabit the Earth
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Games Played

.10! Race for the Galaxy 3
_9_ Roll for the Galaxy 2
_8_ Inhabit the Earth 4
_7_ B-Sieged: Sons of the Abyss 1 New!
_6_ Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King 1 New!
_5_ Matcha 1 New!
_4_ Pixel Tactics 1 New!

Week in Review

All the colors of the rainbow! I continued the early forays into the Xeno Invasion expansion for Race for the Galaxy, but still no Invasion Game. I am scheduled to get in a series of full Invasion Games this coming Thursday night and I'm very excited to see how it plays out.

My first game of Inhabit the Earth was last week and it was followed by a solid run of plays this week. I have played 2P and 3P and both counts feel good; I suspect 4P is inferior due to added downtime with no payoff. The 2P game is pretty unforgiving and falling behind early can be a problem. I find the puzzle of this game interesting: navigating the opening hand is not yet a clear process, and many of the scoring bonuses in the later decks are still new to me in these early plays. In my last game, I drew a scoring card that gave you a lot of points for having every animal in region 1. That seems crazy! Is it possible there is a strategy for getting all your animals on the board, parking the in region 1 and giving them all scoring powers? It seems unlikely. My impression thus far is that you want a mix of all three types of scoring to win: track advancement, tokens and scoring cards.

B-Sieged is a big mini production game from CMON unlikely to hit the Phoenix sweet spot. It is a cooperative, tower defense-style game whose early claim to fame is that it is very difficult. Tom Vasel panned it for being unreasonably hard and forum discussion of tactics has been pretty interesting as people navigate the game in the early going.

Isle of Skye was cute and inoffensive, but didn't make me hunger to play more. Matcha was similar.

I've wanted to try Pixel Tactics for years and I have to confess I was shocked at how much I disliked it. There are far too many options for every action one takes and it seemed inordinately difficult to process every possibility. It sometimes feels like lazy design to throw in every option and the kitchen sink and let the players work out how to use them; this game gave me that feeling.
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7. Board Game: Scharfe Schoten [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:5354]
Board Game: Scharfe Schoten
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 6Feb2016:

7/7/52 plays of 6/6/35 total games, with 2/2/8 expansions employed.
Plays with 10/10/35 distinct opponents.

1/1/9 games acquired (plus 0/0/3 expansions.) - Scharfe Schoten.
0/0/0 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/0/1 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 1 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With family:
1x _7⅔_ Scharfe Schoten - With family (save son #1, off in New York). Worked nicely. Lovely wife and daughter #1 were amused. And - surprise! - son #2 thought it was cool, which he normally doesn't with new games. Though, snarkily, it probably didn't hurt his opinion that he won!
2x _10_ Race for the Galaxy (with Xeno Invasion) - Both a stereotypical "big military" play, and my first try with a non-military strategy... Both worked very well - and the second one quite surprisingly so! There's loads of interesting edges in this that I've still to experiment with. Definitely enjoying the exploration, and very privileged that son #2 is willing to play it with me.

With the Monday lunch group:
1x _7⅓_ TransAmerica (with Vexation (30 months dusty)) - Brian could do no wrong in this one - and the rest of us placed a good ways back. I found my personal lack of traction quite amusing: I can't remember the last instance of this where I felt so incompetent! I guess I was fortunate that the five non-Brians amongst us all placed in a pack.
1x _7⅓_ Abluxxen - This was, as you'd all expect, quite entertaining. The deck-runs-out end condition with 5 players is a cool thing that I'm not at all used to playing with fewer players. But at least it wasn't completely a surprise this time out.

With the Wednesday night gang:
1x _7⅓_ Orléans [New!] - Entertaining; frustrating; likely worth trying again. I liked many of the decisions here - though I also found the draw-from-bag randomizer more irksome that I would a deck of cards with shuffle: there were things (I wanted!) in the bag that just never came out. I expect that I could do (a lot!) better with thinning my pool of workers so that was less of a factor, too: so I'd be completely happy to try it again. (I might do better at understanding the scoring, too: this game felt an awful lot like my first Terra Mystica play - where I spent too much of the game building an engine, too little of it scoring points, and finished with less than half the score of the second-place player. Here I realized my blunder half way through, and though I still ended up in last place, I wasn't quite that badly off.)
1x _7⅓_ Inhabit the Earth - My previous play was with two players - and with 3 is more entertaining. Fun to see more of the card powers in play, too (I've not read through the deck: so there's a lot of discovery in these early plays.) I think my esteemed opponents would play a bit more urgently on a reprise: the sudden-death ending caught them a bit by surprise (much like when we played The Palaces of Carrara!)

Owned-and-unplayed: 0 (+0/-0)
Owned-and-played-once: 93 (+1/-2) - Scharfe Schoten and Inhabit the Earth were played again.

Outlook for the week: I'm on call So definitely reduced gaming. And only one (I think!) of the Wednesday Night gang is available this week. (Unless, of course, we try an alternate night. Who knows? It might work.)
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8. Board Game: Shadows of Brimstone: Other Worlds – Caverns of Cynder [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked]
Board Game: Shadows of Brimstone: Other Worlds – Caverns of Cynder
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_6_ Love Letter x2
_7_ Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients x2
_8_ Haspelknecht x1

Expansions Used

_7_ Shadows of Brimstone: Caverns of Cynder Expansion x2 New!


The Week[end] in Review

Saturday, K was over for our (almost) monthly cooperative evening of gaming. The game of choice for the past while has been Game: Shadows of Brimstone. Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King was supposed to relegate Game: Shadows of Brimstone to the dust heap, but that never happened and now I'm wondering if I should hang onto Forgotten King and see if the next release in the series rescues it (with campaign rules), or whether I sell it.

Anyway, last night we played the "blow up the mine" scenario and got very lucky. In less than an hour, we'd found two suitable rooms to put our explosives in and our escape was unopposed. We blew the mine up with barely a scratch to any of our characters.
Board Game: Love Letter

So we found another mine and played again. And again, we fulfilled the win conditions without much opposition at all.

So then we played a couple "best of three" games of Love Letter.
Board Game: Haspelknecht

This evening, S and I played our third game of Haspelknecht. Other than the set up is a bit fiddly, this game is just the right weight and length for our evenings: not too heavy, not too light, not too long and not too short.

S built a couple storage structures and managed to keep them filled with the appropriate items granting her 2 VPs in the first and second years and 4 VPs in the fourth. Those, more than anything, allowed her to pull away from me and ultimately won her the game.

I had one brain lapse for my part, when I thought I only needed one food for the first winter. Nope, need two....


The Week Ahead

Tomorrow is "Family Day" so S and I both have the day off. We may or may not play something, which is the closest we have to planning any sort of gaming this week.

Meanwhile, my unplayed game list continues to grow.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: Mombasa, Pax Pamir, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. Also The Hobbit saga expansions for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: Over Hill and Under Hill and On the Doorstep.

Ordered: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, Nippon and German Railways.
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9. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:412]
Board Game: Ingenious
Since we are talking a lot about staying power, I thought I'd choose Ingenious as my header item because it is a game I have been playing since about 2006, and played again Saturday.

I'm not much for boiled-down abstracts. I'll play them, but I'll never love them. But my mom loves this one, and since it is fairly harmless, and since it brings my mom so much pleasure, we pull this out nearly every time we game.

This year was a bit different: I got married! So now it's 3p games of Ingenious! And I think my wife enjoys it as much as my mom does, so I suspect all my trips to Westbank will now include Ingenious. Because my mom is loathe to get rid of any games in her small collection, I could easily be playing this 20 years from now.

- Ingenious
I'd rate this a 4 for me in a vacuum, but my mother loves it, and my wife liked it too. Others' love for a game often increases my own enjoyment of a game (see Morels, Hive).

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases
My wife and I finally cracked this one open, and we are finding it enthralling. Just as good as I had been led to believe it is. We're only maybe a quarter of our way through the first case, but we are loving it!

- Love Letter
Taught it to my mom, who thought it was great.

- BraveRats
There was an accident on the road that had us waiting for a bit, so we broke out BraveRats and played it using the centre console and our laps!

- Morels
My wife finally had the energy to learn this game, and she really enjoyed her plays! I'm a bit on the fence with this one: it's one more 2p card game in a long-line of well-designed, mechanically elegant, just-pick-one school of game design. Lost Cities, Arboretum, Thor, etc. So my biggest problem with this one then is the price. Why did I just pay $28 Canadian (that's the online price!) for a deck of cards? Arboretum is less than half the price, and it is just as good. I really have a problem with the price point of this game. Totally unjustifiable to me.

- Tides of Time
Tides of Time was being talked about as an interesting 2p microgame, and it was by Portal Games, so I just threw it into my last order. That was a mistake. It's fine, I guess, mostly because it is a microgame, so it will get played in a 10-minute pocket when no other game will fit, but I found it in no way enthralling. (Big ups to Dewald who lent me the right sized sleeves for these pointlessly massive cards...)

- Haggis
I just don't enjoy numbered card games very much, so Haggis was never going to rate very highly for me. I'm a magpie! I need theme and colour! I did like the gameplay, but it reminded me a lot of Frank's Zoo...which has theme and colour.

- Orléans
Orleans is another euro-point salad, but I had this very strong urge to play it again. Soon. Of course, I hate the set-in-europe-with-earth-tones thing going on with this game, and keep imagining how cool this game would be set in medieval Japan, but the bag-building mechanic and the coloured-worker-placement give them game some legs, and the individually owned buildings are a neat idea. If this game had something like Agricola's minor improvements (or another 100 buildings), it might be one of my favorites, but - lacking that variability - I suspect it's a five-plays-and-done kind of game. Also 2p wasn't much fun as the travel board was too wide open. I think it forces everyone to place guildhalls to prevent one player from easily scoring high on the halls/development points.

- Innovation
I finally got to play Iello's gorgeous redone version of this game...and I hated it. The old cards are far clearer, and much easier to scan quickly. This game is difficult enough to icon-count, and they made it harder! Ha!

- Kingdom Builder
I finally got to teach my wife Kingdom Builder, and as I suspected, she really liked it. So much so, she gave the green light on trying to buy the Big Box version for the cool houses!

- Red7
Still enjoying this.

- Mottainai
Taught it to my wife, and she liked it. Great 15 minute game.

- BattleCON: War of Indines
My first play with War of Indines. Taught a student how to play.

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10. Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.45 Overall Rank:6]
Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week’s plays:

-10- Agricola (+France; Bielefeld; Pi decks)
|9| Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
-8.5- Vinci
-8- The Castles of Burgundy (+New Hex Tiles; Monastery Boards; Pleasure Garden; The Cloisters)
-8- Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization (x3)
-7- The Voyages of Marco Polo
-6- What’s My Word?

We had a good run of Through the Ages this week. The first game was incredibly close, within the margin of error, and neck-and-neck on military. In the next two games, we each experimented with pushing our luck against the military threat. A New Story tones down aggression and it feels like that gives Theatres and Libraries a chance to shine. Previously, concentrating on those technologies would just generate a culture bank for your warlike opponent to plunder later in the game. In game 2 I had Drama then Opera, Bach then Chaplin and Hollywood and kept a minimal military available in case Kate decided to attack, but she had her own plans. With game 3, Kate made Shakespeare work well. I gave up on competing for culture with buildings and instead poured all my efforts into military. I emptied her yellow bank of workers with aggressions and wars, so she disbanded a few workers to concentrate on her culture generators. I only saw one War over Culture and would have like to play a second. It brought us back to parity, but Hollywood pushed her ahead again. Being unable to sacrifice units really hindered this strategy but overall I think I prefer the lower threat of attack in this version of the game.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries was hugely cut-throat from the outset, as we both needed the crucial Boden-Tornio link but Kate got there first. I managed a long-winded way round while blocking her in retaliation a couple of times. This turned out to be very effective, turning several of her long tickets negative. Although I won, the strategy may have unintended consequences for the metagame – she’s likely to remember and punish my ruthlessness next time!

I fell upon another blocking strategy in Agricola, restricting Reed access so neither of us could build rooms and grow our family. That would usually be a terrible plan, but I had a couple of Occupations which rewarded me for staying at two family members as long as possible (Cowboy & Mother and Deaconess). By the time Kate escaped from the stranglehold and expanded to a family of four, the game was in its closing stages and I sneaked a win by a single point. With so few actions between us, it was a fast game too.

Vinci hadn’t hit the table since February 2009 – 7 years dusty! (I blame Small World.) It was still very enjoyable. The other three players agreed that they preferred this to Small World, so hopefully it won’t be so long before I get to play it again.

I’m off to the Caribbean this week so I probably won’t get much gaming in for the rest of the month, although I’ll take Innovation and Scrabble with me at least.
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11. Board Game: Nyet! [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1455]
Board Game: Nyet!
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Tuesday Fun-Day with Brooke

 9   Haggis
 8   Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

January has simply been a hectic month for both me and my partner (as it often is - university's demands suddenly ramp up with the beginning of a new term) - we hadn't taken a *full* day off together since the holidays, so we decided to make time. So - Tuesday Funday - included a lovely brunch, an ocean-side trot, an afternoon game of Haggis over a flight of microbrews, as well as dinner and a murder mystery (starring Sherlock Holmes).

Speaking to SH:CD, it was the Fifth case and this one went horribly awry! Worst result yet! ZERO! We totally misinterpreted a key clue early on and "built" later meaning on top of that off-base inference - despite potential indicators that we may have botched it earlier! At least we "broke even" on the score (if that's anything to brag about).


Trick-Taking and Pizza with David and Jenn

 8   Tichu
 8   Nyet! NEW!

Brooke and I hosted David and Jenn over a few home-made pizzas (greek and mushroom, YAM!), some drinks, and a few trick-takers. Nyet with its pre-trick-taking round in which players choose what properties will not be in play for the round makes the game what it is: "Trump is nyet red comrade!" After a lot of jockeying for position, fruitful and not so fruitful partnerships, Brooke came out on top with David and Jenn collaborating on the last hand to overtake her as a shared first. The shifting alliances in this game are a real riot -- the possibility for negative trick hands really make this game shine.

Tichu was a lot of fun too. David and Jenn ran the table for most of the game. Brooke and I had a glimmer of hope following a 1-2 with a Grand Tichu, but we were still ~300-400 points behind!

Over the course of the week
 8   Castellion x2
 7   BraveRats x4 NEW!

Played a few more games of Castellion exactly as I left it - Master/regular - as it had been a while since I last played and wanted a refresher before I incorporate the last two elements and get my behind kicked. No problem on this front: 2 wins!

At R, Brooke pulled a clean sweep when collectively learning the game and playing a first to 3. The only round she didn't take was a draw! I really like how cute the aesthetics are on this double-think game with a dwindling hand size.

Hairshirt update: Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective and Tichu are now officially un-hairshirted; R makes a meteoric entry almost by-passing hairshirt status altogether; and Sticheln makes an entry as part of the "Duncehat of Penance" series (i.e., games I should get, but don't, but should given my tastes) -- so I'm going to try that one again.
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12. Board Game: Castellion [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1517]
Board Game: Castellion
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Castellion x18
Onirim x4
Friday x9

I've been moving. nearly done, all settled in the new place but hope to get most the cleaning of the old done tonight while listening to the New Hampshire election returns. I love the new flat - windows looking out on the city instead of the back alley. Aiiiiii, life!

As you can see, squeezed off some solo card games while in the chaos of the move. They were all fun romps. Damn, Castellion is cute. Onirim is probably still the best of the lot, in the strictest sense of an evolving game, with it's expansions giving it some real changes & challenges & more divergent thinking to ride out. Friday is cool at first, but once solved pretty much gutters itself, just too narrow a puzzle of deck cutting, like playing Dominion forever with the same cards out there. It's a one trick pony in the end. But if you forget that trick, it'll surprise you again a few months later. The idea is funny with the marooned guy when you play a card that says you're 'stupid.'

Castellion has a pleasure that is hard to pin down. Why do I like it? Definitely easier, and a bit more of a random throwdown if you want to skate hard in one direction instead of taking proper caution. So, it's mood savvy. Cutest thing I've ever seen for a quick spell of tile grubbing, no set-up time, 15 minute puzzle. Even cuter than Ornirim & Sylvion. Can't really recommend it because... how do you recommend a solo game? It'll always come with a '...but I don't play solo' caveat & a little self-reflective crisis. Nobody wants THAT!!


Right now I will grab Castellion before the others. It's more lite & fluid. I tossed the insert & have a draw bag for the tile pulls, which I really recommend as it gives it speed get going (instantly) & that last aesthetic nudge, both which lend itself to taking a blind run at the hidden goals rather than thoughtfully exposing them first, which is fun, like driving too fast, because it's that much speedier and 'what the hell." whereas Onirim & Sylvion have larger commitments to a session.

But can you bring yourself to throw away that insert? That can give a gamer ANOTHER anxious crisis.


All in all, while I was moving these are little time whittlers that get cards (or tiles) running through your hands as a fair companion to Making a Murderer or the Republican debates. It cured the slack-jaw, bottomless incredulity seeing both back-to-back threw me into while I was scrubbing things or sighing from atop a ladder.

Carol, you'd have fun making a bag to go with it, lovely yellows & charm up at the brighter end of the rainbow.

With my sister bombing in on the weekend & new digs, I'll probably be somewhat absent until after the dust settles this weekend.

Jon, if you read this far, please please drop me your phone number so I can call... you can probably guess what I pulled out of a box while packing/unpacking/closet diving. And thanks for all this hairshirting, tho it made me grumpy & philosophically rebellious. I did weed out my games of all those early or impulsive things I hid in a closet.
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13. Board Game: Edel, Stein & Reich [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1647]
Board Game: Edel, Stein & Reich
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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    Fealty
 8   Cinque Terre
 6   Edel, Stein & Reich NEW!

Saturday games:

While waiting for folks to arrive, a few of us broke out one of the unpublished Fealty piece-sets for an opener. It's been a couple years since I last played with it, and the fresh perspective was really nice.

I got a bit of playtesting in, watching one game of a new thing I threw together (19th-century-ish street gangs fighting over turf / area control with some twists) then joining in on a second game with some modifications. It didn't run too long, which I was pleased by; I'm trying to keep this one short-ish.

Then five of us played Cinque Terre, which I recently picked up (after repeatedly thinking about how much I'd enjoyed my play at Origins last year). I don't think I want to play with five again - playtime wasn't unduly long (just over an hour), but it was much harder to keep track of what other people were doing, without which the game is purely a dynamic delivery-optimization exercise. (Which is still fun - there are loads of ambiguous situations - but not nearly as much as when there's an awareness of what your opponents can do, I think.) More players also meant more turnover on the available contracts, which meant more "hey, I can just claim that with no additional work" moments. Four players would probably work decently, but I think I'll mostly push for this as a 2-3p game.

I finished off with Edel, Stein, & Reich, which I'd wanted to try for a while. We had four players for the first two rounds, but someone ran out of time and had to leave; the third round felt substantially looser in a way I don't think I liked. (It's a game where everyone secretly and simultaneously selects one of three possible actions. If you're the only one to choose that action, you take it. If two people do, one of them pays the other to take the action as determined by a bidding war between them. If three or more people choose an action, nobody gets to do it. Needless to say, how much duplication you get is very different in 3p than 4p.)

~ ~ ~

Outside of gaming: We got two real snowstorms on Friday and Monday; the former had great snowball snow, the latter not so much. I'm finally on the mend from the cold that mugged me while I was reeling from the stomach bug back in January. And last night, our kids (3.5 and 1) spent time playing together with no need for adult mediation - we could keep tabs on them by listening to the laughter racing around the first floor. I don't really have words for how lovely it was hearing that.
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14. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia
 10   Bridge
my group has decided that we all need remedial lessons cry


 8   Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia NEW!
 8   Pairs
 8   6 nimmt!

for game night, we had 2 couples over, including the wonderful Ien (ghopper21) and his lovely wife, and one of the nicest guys i know (Graham) and his new girlfriend.

Sean made homemade chicken soup and fresh bread. YUM.

the main event was Team Asia. i suggested that we not play as couples - more on that later. i absolutely LOVE team and partnership games and was super excited to play. it did not disappoint!

all the best features of partnership gaming were present: supporting your partner, signaling intentions with your choices. really well done. i immediately wanted to play again.

a BGG user commented
Glamorous Mucus wrote:
if you play with six, you'll want to make sure that you have players that are able to play quickly. Otherwise, stick to four players.
which i think is true. 3 players had never played base TtR before. in addition, everyone was partnered with someone they didn't know that well - which i originally thought would be fun but realize now was a mistake. we were all concerned about letting down our new partner and thusly played overly cautiously. on top of that, some of the cities were difficult to locate on the map due to unfamiliarity. all this to say -- the game went quite long which detracted slightly.

i really want to play again, taking the lessons of the first play to heart. i started to get a sense of the tempo and methods of communication about halfway through the game and am excited to try out partnership info sharing techniques!

also - i really liked the "tunnel" mechanism used for building some of the shorter routes. i had not seen that before and loved the tension.

Ien and W won! their team (principally Ien) had been saving up for a 8 length route which not only gave them massive points, but ended the game on the turn before Graham and i could finish a high scoring ticket - creating an 18 point swing for us. Sean and J were right there in the chase as well.

outside of gaming - it is SO COLD HERE. yoinks!

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