GCL Phoenix 273 - Q4theT (March 28th 2016)
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League
Don't know what this GeekList is? Find out here: Gamechat League: Phoenix Division!

If you're visiting, thumb the list so we know you stopped by. Feel free to chat along with us, but please leave the posting of list items to members only.

Team Phoenix:
archivists
darker
Dormammu
familygaming
hawk-x-
indigopotter - whose blue clay invites clever questions next week -
karlfast
Lowengrin
Morganza
ravenskana
rynelf
Smintie
Taibi
tjshields
Woodnoggin

Other team-sters who are always but a pub table away:
BennyD, Bruzza, chally, Eeeville, enzo622, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Mr_Nuts, topherr, Yokiboy

This week's topic: Q4theT. My partner, reminiscing, recently shared about a game that she used to play back in college. Not *that* kind of game: there were no cards, pawns, boards, or anything of the sort... just nothing-to-get-in-the-way social gaming. It was called "The Cauldron of Truth." Think Truth or Dare with only truths! Anyways, as with any ad-lib social game, there are different styles of rounds -- and the type of round we are going to participate in is called Question for the Team, or Q4theT for short. I'm going to start us off with a few Q4theTs, but you're also all invited to have a spin and ask questions as well (unless you are a non-member, then no geeklist items for you!).

Rules: There are some, but very little rules to this get-to-know you game: 1. Once an answer has been claimed, you cannot repeat it (even if it is your top pick, except for questions like 2 and 3 which have reduced answer spaces); 2. Have fun and get creative.
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1. Board Game: Themewords [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Themewords
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: If you could have your very own theme-song that started blaring (or softly playing if that's your thing), what song would it be and why?

Bonus: Respond to the question using a youtube video to provide a listen!
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2. Board Game: Telebohn [Average Rating:6.20 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Telebohn
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: Order the following in terms of personal importance: Telephone, Cable, Internet. Why are they in this order? Also, when was the last time that they changed?
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3. Board Game: Chocolatl [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:5244]
Board Game: Chocolatl
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: You've been whisked into another parallel universe in which only one of the following exists: Chocolate, Alcohol, Caffeine. If you could pick, where would you end up?
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4. Board Game: The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill [Average Rating:5.27 Overall Rank:16953]
Board Game: The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: You've ingested a magic pill that suddenly makes you competent at something which you haven't developed spent those 10,000 hours doing. This means that, all of a sudden, you can pursue that *other* ambition that you never pursued career-wise. What job/career/occupation would you pursue (if you could always come back to what you are currently doing)?
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5. Board Game: Paris Paris [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:3571]
Board Game: Paris Paris
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: Your place of work has opened a branch in another city and is looking at you to go there, but only for a year! You close your eyes, cross your fingers, and whisper *please* *please* *please* before the city is announced... and, you are pleasantly surprised when they say where? Where would you go that you've been wanting to spend a year, but no more? And why?
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6. Board Game: Alice in Wonderland Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Alice in Wonderland Game
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: You've been transported into a fictional world that you're somewhat familiar with, but could never have imagined getting to be this up-close-and-personal with it all (from a game, a book, a movie, etc.). If you could pick, where would you end up? Would you want to stay there indefinitely?

Bonus: Add a picture to give nuance to your response!
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7. Board Game: Mind Your Language [Average Rating:4.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Mind Your Language
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT:If you could magically learn a language (no "Rosetta Stone" required!), what would it be and why?
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8. Board Game: Sunny Day Pond: A Puzzle Game [Average Rating:5.64 Unranked]
Board Game: Sunny Day Pond: A Puzzle Game
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: On a more serious note, share a good news item.
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9. Board Game: Mobile Suit Gundam: New Type [Average Rating:6.14 Unranked]
Board Game: Mobile Suit Gundam: New Type
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: What is your gamer genotype? Post yours here and share what it might say about you.
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10. Board Game: Word Shout [Average Rating:4.48 Unranked]
Board Game: Word Shout
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Q4theT: If you could have an SJ-esque idiosyncratic macro (like with Abluxxen!), what game would it be for? Furthermore, what features would you want prominently in it?

Bonus: Share it here if you can piece it together!
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11. Board Game: Mombasa [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:76]
Board Game: Mombasa
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 26Mar2016:

9/43/151 plays of 7/30/82 total games, with 0/4/13 expansions employed.
Plays with 9/33/76 distinct opponents.

1/2/11 games acquired (plus 0/2/10 expansions.) - Factory Funner.
0/0/1 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/0/1 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 0 games and 0 expansions still outstanding. (Can't remember the last time that was true!)

With son #2:
2x _7⅓_ Factory Funner [New!] - Fun to try the fancy new hexagonal version of Factory Fun. It's - strangely - much the same as the earlier title, other than that the physical constraints have a different set of angles. I found myself amused; but, in retrospect, probably don't need a copy of both versions of the game. Son #2 thought it was entertaining enough; but it's not quite the sort of thing he'd choose often to play.

With the Wednesday night gang:
1x _7⅓_ Orléans - Orléans [Scott/sctooker Paul/PaulHartenstine Tim Dave/rynelf]
2x _7_ 合併競議会 Vu~iranekkusu 'Villannex' - Definitely a mixed result: Paul and I find it entertaining; Scott was quite dubious. And Tim did that studied-polite thing that made me worry he didn't like it at all (but it could as easily have been the fact that the hour was late.) I admit the notion of a one-round euro-y doublethink game made me dubious before I'd played: but the game doesn't begin (even after multiple plays) to outstay its welcome for me.

With cool folk at BAP:
1x _8_ Stephenson's Rocket - (This could easily have been my headliner, too!) Really enjoyed this (again); it was quite fun with the four of us, even as my previous play (with 2) was quite entertaining. Really enjoyed the dynamics and choices (even if I also blundered several times along the way.)
1x _7⅓_ Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King [New!] - I liked this, and more than I'd expected. I was a bit worried about the pricing choices (and particularly after my relative non-enjoyment of Castles of Mad King Ludwig), but it turned out that those decisions seemed relatively harmless. I found myself wondering a bit whether the nice catch-up mechanisms ensured that games were always close regardless of what one does; but I'm willing to hope that there is good and bad play possible.
1x _8_ Mombasa - This was great, again. Very happy that Dave & Aliza forced me (forced, I tell you!) to buy a copy. Engaging, full of cool decisions, enough clarity that one can interfere with an opponent (or not!) if the occasion demands. Didn't play well (and my final score demonstrated it!) but definitely enjoyed the experience.
1x _7_ Fresco (46 months dusty) - I found the pretense of hidden information dubious here again: it seems quite trackable, and insisting on pretending otherwise just felt silly. What's more, it made the game feel far more like a multiplayer-solitaire exercise - since we were all pretending we didn't know what the others were accumulating or what they might do. It's funny: I expect there's a (possibly unsanctioned) variant that I'd enjoy; but the one we played isn't it.

Owned-and-unplayed: 0 (+1/-1) - Factory Funner arrived and was played.
Owned-and-played-once: 91 (+1/-1) - Factory Funner was played twice.

Outlook for the week: Multiple choir practices; a bit swamped at work; helping a friend move on Saturday. Won't have any lack of things to do, I expect. Might get to a Monday Lunch play this week (I missed the gang this last week); likely Wednesday games at my place; not sure what else might transpire.
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12. Board Game: Happy Pigs [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1749] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
Board Game: Happy Pigs
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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We always have time for the things we put first.
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Sunday March 20th
Stone Age

Tuesday March 22nd

Stone Age x2

Wednesday March 23rd

Stone Age

Thursday March 24th

Stone Age

Friday March 25th

Challenge the Chief x2 - new to us
The Game of Blast - new to us
Stone Age - first play with Style is the Goal expansion

Saturday March 26th
Stone Age with Style is the Goal expansion
The Builders: Middle Ages - last played Aug. 6, 2014
Livingstone - last played March 24, 2012

Sunday March 27th
Crime Solvers - new to us (seems we've owned it for 3 years, first play)
Dotzee - last played May 15, 2015
Zany Penguins - new to us
Happy Pigs - new to us

Sam put an order in with CoolStuff, and surprised me with a couple of things that put him over the free shipping threshold.

First was Zany Penguins, which has 2p rules, but really needs more than 2 players. We dislike having to maneuver neutral players. Added to the trade/sale pile.

Then was Happy Pigs, which was not on my radar in the least, but we gave it a try. So much cardboard! Thankfully the chits punched nicely. You have a field (which you can expand) and you buy pigs (or breed them from your existing pigs), and feed them to make them grow. The pace car of the game is the need for pigs to be vaccinated at season changes, or they die and are removed from your farm. So you can't grow more than you can vaccinate. Space is a concern, because while the first extra field is affordable, they get expensive, so you want to balance having enough space to be efficient in your actions versus spending too much for room you don't really need.

I'd like to give it another chance with another play, though it feels like one of those "okay" games that is destined to get passed over when we're choosing a game.

Also on Sunday, Sam grabbed Dotzee from the Decide Shelf and we played it while I was making brunch (we were standing and I was going back and forth to the stove between turns). Last played May 15, 2015. Now on the trade/sale shelf.

To round out our Sunday plays, we played Crime Solvers. My collection info indicates we've owned it for 3 years, but did not have any recorded plays. We really like true crime stories and crime dramas on tv, and this tried to capture that in a way that involved the players. However, it didn't work very well, and it got moved to the Trade/Sale shelf as well.

Moving backwards in time, we played The Builders: Middle Ages from the Decide Shelf (last lay Aug. 6, 2014) and moved it to the Trade/Sale shelf. Ditto for Livingstone (last played March 24, 2012, now on Trade/Sale shelf). Livingstone was a tougher call, as there are things about it that I like, but it's better with more than 2 players, and we just don't have the group for it.

On Saturday we also gave the Stone Age expansion a second chance, and liked it a bit more than its first play Friday night.

Friday night also saw plays of Challenge the Chief and The Game of Blast which I had thrifted on Monday. Challenge the Chief is going to live with a thrifter friend, Blast is on the trade/sale/donate pile.
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13. Board Game: Eldritch Horror [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:73]
Board Game: Eldritch Horror
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Ganes Played

_7_ Eldritch Horror x1


The Week in Review

Just the one play of Eldritch Horror. Quite a step back from the previous week with it's four plays of Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization. And sadder still because this weekend was five days long and we had only two commitments over it. Yet, S and I didn't play a thing.


The Week Ahead

The game I most want to get to the table now is Mombasa. Although if S suggests Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, I won't turn it down.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: German Railways, Mombasa, Pax Pamir, De Vulgari Eloquentia 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.
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14. Board Game: Burgle Bros. [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:228]
Board Game: Burgle Bros.
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

_9_ Codenames 5
_8_ Deception: Murder in Hong Kong 3
_8_ Hansa Teutonica 1
_7_ Burgle Bros. 1 New!
_7_ Quartermaster General 1
_5_ The Bloody Inn 1 New!

Week in Review

Hansa Teutonica was a 4P game so we did a throwback to the Hansa Teutonica: East Expansion, which seems best for that player count. Great game; I still suck at it.

Tim Fowers is on the short list of most creative game designers. I always wanted to try Wok Star and am a fan of Paperback, but this week I got to try his new coöp heist game Burgle Bros. It's not a brain burner and the difficulty is quite subject to the vagaries of the random set-up, but it has a potent charm to it. It also doesn't feel quite like any other game I have. I don't think it would withstand heavy play, but is a pleasing and adorable diversion to break out from time to time.

My third game of Quartermaster General and my third time as Axis. Even though I randomize the set up, this seems to be my lot. The Allies are generally considered favored, particularly among newer players, and this time I was Italy. I was able to get an early hold on Northern Africa and controlling the Strait of Gibraltar for the entire game turned out to have a major effect on the game. This led to the first Axis victory I've seen thus far. Japan did amazing and Germany ended up small and without Germany, holed up in the Ukraine. I declared that the formerly powerful Nazis would end up being farmers to feed their new Japanese overlords.

The Bloody Inn
would have appealed to me more five years ago. But at this point it's simply not a good enough hand management game to beat out the ones I really like. I am not interested enough to explore the subtleties of the timing and trade offs in this particular game. This reminds me of my experience with Oh My Goods! recently.
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15. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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 10   For the Crown (with Shock & Awe and Between Heaven and Earth - both NEW!)
 8   Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion NEW!
 7   Epic Card Game NEW!

Wednesday games was canceled - but I recently learned that a local restaurant is somewhat boardgame-friendly, so I met up with Rob there for dinner, conversation, and games.

For context, whenever Rob gives me a lift home from Wednesday games, we invariably end up spending 10-20 minutes (3-6x the length of the drive) sitting in front of my house in his car because we're embroiled in the middle of an excellent discussion about games or game design. Sitting in a restaurant facing each other was much nicer! :-)

For the Crown - an all-expansion game (aside from the 4 core cards). Some really neat stuff in there. Early-game revolved around us experimenting with Caravans to boost our income; late-game revolved around me using Lightning and Gravity to keep Rob on the ropes so he couldn't bring all those great units in his Barracks into play. Promotion threats were key in this game; I've only seen that one other time.

Race: Xeno Invasion - Love some of the new cards, and the Invasion Phase considerations add new decisions and theme. But the better-benefits for winning vs. the Xenos with the worst military feels really jarring - I think I see the outlines of its mechanical motivations, but thematically it's strikingly incongruous.

Epic - 80+% of what I enjoy about M:tG is the deck-building. I enjoyed playing Epic as much (or more) than I'd enjoy piloting a MtG deck I didn't build, and it had a nice "just pick up and play" factor[1]. To quote Rob's opinion: "I was ready to write this game off as an obvious rip-off of MTG. However, it turns out to be an obvious rip-off of MTG without mana screwage, faster gameplay, and no dud draws. Bravo!"

[1] = Modulo the fact that it has a mess of keywords. Someone who'd never played Magic would not, I expect, find the game especially simple - and therein may lie its dilemma.
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16. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:438]
Board Game: Chicago Express
Games Played:

I visited Chicago for a long holiday weekend with my family. All games this week were played on the train ride there and back with my youngest daughter, wife and niece.


Love Letter x4
Pairs x10
Scopa x2
Spot it! x3



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17. Board Game: Ponzi Scheme [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:982]
Board Game: Ponzi Scheme
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_7_ Tokaido Collector's Edition x1
Another game with all five of us in my family; this time we added in the Crossroads expansion, which really did not add much complexity. This time, my daughter won with a score of 81, while I had 77, my oldest son 65, followed by his brother at 64, and finally my wife scored 52. This is very much a light game experience, but we enjoyed being around the table together.

_8_ Panamax x2 New!
First play with with all three of my kids who were patient with me as I went over the rules and kept checking little details. The convolution of the rules here is slightly more than I'd like but by the end of the game I think everything was clicking and didn't really screw anything up. My youngest son scored 55, my daughter 80, my oldest son 84, and I won the game with 92.

Second play was at game night with my oldest son joining me along with James and Katie, who were both new to the game. Overall playtime with explanation took about three hours, which is a bit longer than I'd like but I'm hoping to get it closer to 120 minutes with experienced players. This was very much a learning game with several times people pointing out to other people things that could be done, not just to mutally benefit two players but sometimes pointing out just plain good moves for one player. Katie and I cross-invested in each other and often got ourselves in mutally beneficially situations, which allowed us to outscore the other two, but she won 109 to my 105. Meanwhile, my son edged out James (who had to take a bailout token at one point) 89 to 97.

_9_ Ponzi Scheme x3 New!
First play with both boys. I made a mistake and didn't see the bear market coming and was a few dollars short and went bankrupt (would have scored 23 otherwise). This allowed my younger son to win 13 to his brother's 10. We all thought this was pretty hilarious and generally easy to understand after a couple of rounds.

Second play was game night with my oldest son, James, and Kieran. This time James went bankrupt (would have scored 22) and at first my son thought he miscalculated and went bankrupt too, but then realized two bills of the paper money kind of stuck and he had enough after all. This gave me son the with with 22 which was slightly above my score of 19 and Kieran's score of 10.

Will started watching the previous game about halfway through and wanted to give this a try so we stayed late. This time my son joined me as a team (we could have played five players but wanted to go a little quicker). Kieran was the one who went bankrupt (showing a score of 4), which allowed James to win with 13 to my 9 and Will's score of 2.

I really enjoy the auction here which is similar but not exactly the same as Neue Heimat, and the fact that money is hidden here is very interesting. The theme is pretty insane and i took great pleasure in watching people take on more and more ridiculous debt in order to try to stay alive just longer than someone else. I'm pretty high on this initial rating but this hits a lot of notes with me: quirky theme, economic focus, low convolution of ruleset, decent amount of decision space, fairly unique auction, and reasonable playing time.
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18. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:92]
Board Game: Pandemic
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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We had old friends come to stay for a night who we hadn't seen in years.

They marvelled at our boardgame collection and asked us to choose something.

I made a few suggestions and they picked out Pandemic. "This looks very complicated" lets go back to drinking, they said when I started to explain the rules... two hours and two games later they were pretty hooked. We followed up with Times Up Title Recall which was enjoyed but it was Pandemic that was the real hit.

One of the two has already ordered a bunch of games online, and I sent them a link to a local gaming group.

Success. ninja
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19. Board Game: Food Chain Magnate [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:28]
Board Game: Food Chain Magnate
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Online with some BGGers
 7   UR NEW!

I played a 4 player game of UR with verandi, tumblesteak, and slothninja, taking the win! An agressive early play, when partnered with taking advantage of pace-setting defensive plays from others (i.e., building too many ziggurats) meant that I was in a position to lock it down. It's not new-to-me, but its my first logged play! (due to qualifying to my online counting online plays if I "know" who I am playing; i.e., not random). No one congratulated me by saying "UR the winner!"

ThursdayWednesday (I think) night with Patrick
 7   Schnipp Es! NEW!
 8   Food Chain Magnate NEW!

So I finally played Food Chain Magnate and I (think I) get what all the fuss is about. It's at once deep, simple, and actions are highly intuitive. The similarities to TGZ abound, but this is also its own beast with an open economy rather than one that is closed. Here are my thoughts-to-come in the new-to-you:
Quote:
Food Chain Magnate is pretty darn cool: it's a competitive fast food economy in the era of booming fast food. It's quirky, it's vicious, and surprisingly pretty straight forward for a game of its weight.

As the newest Splotter on the block, this game offers more of what they boutique publisher is known for heavier Euro fare with a focus on economics, logistics, timing, and positional play -- all of which pulled together by a sensible theme. FCM does not buck this trend but rather pivots on it a bit. It's closest relative, the Great Zimbabwe, has a closed economy, but not here! Money is earned, money is spent in ways that are open (who knows where that money goes, its the American dream/nightmare!) -- in turn, you are *almost* wholly responsible for your revenue... if it weren't for everyone around you undercutting your costs, advertising products you can't deliver on, or even hiring key staff before you can! The small-ish map means that every game has players coming into inevitable competitive and collusive relationships: this is where the fun occurs! Throw in a bit of typical Splotter turn-order shenanigans and it is tense. As an economic game, it provides milestones (i.e., powers) as an incentive to not treat the structure strictly as a snowball: this encourages many different approaches (e.g., early food spoiling means you get a freezer for keeping up to 10 food items between turns - great if demand surpasses supply!).

While this isn't the most mechanically accessible Splotter, the congruence between theme and mechanics create a real sense of narrative that many players may already be familiar with. Splotter definitely has a hit on their hands with this one.
In our two player game, both of us laid down a short game card; nonetheless, I still played (dangerously) the long game. Patrick had secured many of the production bonuses, the freezer -- but I had snuck in and undercut his early efforts and kept afloat with overpaid waitresses. My engine EXPLODED on the last turn when the board opened right up.

With two, I think that, like with many other multiplayer games that play two, the game is a bit more fragile (in that there is little room for collusive balancing) due to the open economy. Getting cut out (i.e., undercut) might make for low/no/negative income for a round or two.

And, I also played Schnipp Es!: a cool little flick'em soccer game. The cool twist here is that the flick-able players also stand vertically. If they fall over, you don't get to cash in the remainder of flicks you would have for the turn (determined by a die roll). In turn, you have to be a bit more precise with your flicking. Furthermore, there are throw ins (for going out of bounds) and yellow/red cards (for knocking over opponents' players!). Really neat take on something that's been done many times over. The game, however, comes in a box that is grossly huge for the size of the components (which means you could hide entire other dexterity games in the box, I guess).
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20. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:44]
Board Game: Eclipse
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-8- Brass
-8- The Castles of Burgundy
-8- Puerto Rico
-8- Roll for the Galaxy (+Ambition)
-6.5- Eclipse (+Rise of the Ancients; Nebula; Pulsar; Supernova)
-5- Aladdin's Dragons New!
N/A Start Player

On Tuesday I had the chance to visit a local boardgaming club in its new venue and it had substantially improved since my last visit 15 months ago. I hadn't been tempted to attend much because of their preference for Ameritrash-style games and an off-putting, boys' club atmosphere on their online forum but I saw some photos of the new location and noticed a much better mix of games and even a slightly better gender balance. I joined a game of Aladdin's Dragons, new to me, although I have a copy of the spin-off cardgame that never gets played. It's a hidden bid auction game that used to be highly regarded but it felt a bit ponderous to me, with potential for over-analysis. Just OK but I'm glad to have tried it.

Afterwards I jumped into Castles of Burgundy, typically long with four players but I've played it enough that I didn't add much time. In fact, I took my moves so quickly that another player dubbed me "the A.I."! In my haste, I neglected to consider that the balance of a four player game is a little different to that of a two player game, which I'm much more familiar with. So while I eagerly grabbed a pair of mines early to secure my income, I should have realised that trade goods were actually more important. Each sale is worth 2 points with two players but 4 points with four players – twice as good, but likely to be more contested as a result. I thought I'd found a path of least resistance with the other three players focussing on ships and trading but it may have been more profitable for me to get involved in the trade goods fight earlier on. I lost by about four points.

I took advantage of the good weather at the start of the Bank Holiday weekend to visit the nearby World Heritage site of Cromford Mills – where Arkwright set up his first factory at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Afterwards, we were inspired to play a thematically-related game. I don't have a copy of Arkwright (and frankly, the guy sounded like a ruthless bastard), so we went for Brass. It was the first time I'd tried the three player game and I appreciated that it went a little quicker. Now I haven't played the game as much as most people round here (I only play face to face) but this seemed like an unusual game to me. Jake had built all of his ports and coal mines by the first part of the rail era which left him building railways for the rest of the time. It meant he couldn't respond to opportunities to overbuild coal because he didn't have any tiles, while Kate was in a similar position with ironworks. I got a couple of nice windfalls out of that situation but mostly concentrated on cotton and shipyards. All that industrious activity tired us out and we were almost too sleepy to finish Roll for the Galaxy.

What better way to celebrate Easter than by conquering the galaxy with plastic space ships? I was pleasantly surprised by local enthusiasm for a six player game of Eclipse and it went down well with three new players, one of whom took the win with the Planta. No doubt he was helped by the experienced players going easy on him in his first game and fighting each other instead. I played the Orion Hegemony, an aggressive faction that wants to find Ancients to attack early on and I'd picked up Improved Hull to help here. Unfortunately, exploring didn't provide me with anything to fight, so I took a risk and went for the Galactic Centre. I figured I had a decent chance with the cruisers I'd built but the other players rolled an awful lot of 6s and demolished my fleet. After that, I had to sit back and rebuild before a few minor skirmishes with my neighbours. Not an impressive performance. Everyone was keen to play again soon and a nine player game was even mooted. wow

Eclipse was followed by Puerto Rico where I failed to escape the 'buildings' rut I seem to have fallen into over the past few years of playing this game. I know how to win via buildings whereas it feels like I haven't picked Captain in about three years! I just can’t score points through shipping. This time, I was unable to resist the lure of the Factory and the plan was enough to win by a single point. One of these days I'd like to create a large crop of corn and have the Captain phase actually do something positive for me, rather than have its sole purpose being to steal away that coffee I was going to trade next turn...
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21. Board Game: Normandy '44 [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:1431]
Board Game: Normandy '44
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Quick note before games:

Max, you really might like to listen to the new Guns, Dice, Butter podcast. Mark Herman has a long convo on his new Peloponnesian game (both a Churchill-like and a remake of his original solo), and there's also a long interview on the period with an historian. Love to hear your opinion if you do.

I expect you've seen this? It includes full view of the game late in it's design phase, make sure you scroll down to find it: Prancing in Peloponnese: 1st MN Gives Polis a Punt: Some Gopher Thumbs Up: March 19, 2016

Jimmy and Dave and DJ, you might be interested too.
*

Marc, DJ, and Jimmy... you need to know the podcast opens with a wonderful 50 minute interview with Fran Diaz, designer of Polis: Fight for the Hegemony! There's a lovely exchange worth hearing too, on ignoring/eye-rolling the outmoded barriers between Euro and historical gaming. Also - Max & Dave - you might like to hear that the game that most turned Diaz on was his encounter with your beloved Through the Ages. He's a lovely man, and quite critical of his own design and what he'd change, and it's funny to hear how it got put into final form days before it went to press. Anyone into design should have a listen.
Martin & Eric? You may love his interview too. The game may or may not be in your wheelhouse, but I think you'd enjoy him & his charm & humbleness & how the heck this design got out the door the way it did is a great story.

*

On Sunday, I played Normandy 44 (a Simonitch design) with Mike. He was generous, wanting me to experience playing the West in a game he knows well.

I had good weather to enable the first days advances & restrict German mobility. As we ended this session Mike has managed to pull together a tough line between the north edge of Caen toward St Lo, and I couldn't find a way to breakout and take either cleanly. This is going to become a slog. A very cool game and I learned a great deal.

From gallery of tjshields

The Utah landing went reasonably well, most of the parachute drops scattered but were able to reform and expand, with elements of the 101st and 2nd Infantry clearing the road to Carentan and trying to finally join the landings. Mike has delayed well & reinforced the peninsula, I was too slow setting priorities & it'll be a grind cutting off supply to Cherbourg.

From gallery of tjshields

Unlike history, Omaha had the cleanest (rather than the bloodiest) landing and the Americans & the Brits met to clear Bayeau and (for a moment, but the window was too tight) threatened a breakout to St Lo. See how I said threatened there, instead of 'did' breakout? A general must be a politician, yes? Mike was rushing the 12SS Panzer to St Lo but dropped them back into Caen when it was nearly taken by...
From gallery of tjshields

the Brits and Canadians. Oh, I was so close! But nearly doesn't cut it, and Caen will be bloody as the German 12SS Panzer showed up and the blood feud with the Canadians is begun.

*

A side comment. Our last play of US Civil War was across the table. You may be able to see McClellan is unwilling to leave Washington. Notice the US 1st Army and Monty poised north of Baltimore to move in?
From gallery of tjshields

I'm looking forward to playing this with DJ in Ashland, NC in a couple of weeks!

*

I have Liberty Roads set up on the table, but haven't put down my book on the West War to make any moves, it's too damn good. Rick Atkinson deserved the Pulitzer. A wonderful writer, I doubt anyone is running in that direction here, but ask if you want to know more.
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