GCL Phoenix 306 - Unimaginatively titled BGG.con Edition (13 Nov 2016)
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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You've found the 306th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Welcome to all that stop 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.) Roster members I've seen in the last few weeks include:
darker, Eeeville, familygaming, hawk-x-, indigopotter, karlfast, Lowengrin, ravenskana, rynelf, Smintie, Taibi, Tigrillo, tjshields, and woodnoggin.
†: next week's organizer. And while I'd be delighted if all of you showed up this week, no worries at all if life gets in the way.

(We also celebrate the historic contributions (and occasional present visits: you all are always welcome to add an item) of archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, Dormammu, enzo622, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, topherr and Yokiboy. I'd also be delighted if any of you felt like showing up!)

Looks like this is the week of BGG.com. And I'd much rather talk about that (even if I am, again, not going) than anything that happened last week.

How many of you are planning to attend? Have you already planned out your time with scheduled games, or are you going to take your chances in the Hot Games Room? Are there any (unofficial) events outside the convention you're planning to support? And, perhaps more on point for a Phoenix list, what things would you want to play if you were able to attend?

Addendum:
If you're a lurker that might be interested in joining us, please let us know. Indigo (Carol) is our Glorious Leader: sending her a geek-mail would be most efficient - but if you'd be more comfortable geek-mailing me, please go ahead (though, frankly, she seems a lot more friendly/approachable than I am. YMMV, I guess.)

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1. Board Game: Dallas [Average Rating:4.62 Unranked]
Board Game: Dallas
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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How many of you are planning to head to Dallas this week? If you're going, (and you're willing to be silly and divide something which doesn't remotely need any division) how much of the impetus of going is the con; how much is Dallas, and how much is the people that might likely be there? Bonus points if the three coördinates don't add up to anything sensible, and you've got a good reason why!

(And if you're not going, what additional factor might tempt you to go?)
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2. Board Game: Time 'n' Space [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:4644]
Board Game: Time 'n' Space
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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How much slack do you have in your schedule this week?

(You're welcome to answer that whether or not you're heading to BGG.con.)

For my part, I think I've already events on five of the seven nights this week (ok; three choir practices: one each with three different ensembles. I may have been a bit over-optimistic on what I could pull off), and might actually have next Saturday morning free. And yet, if I were silly enough to attend the con, the tension between scheduling things that I'd be delighted to play; trying to meet folk who might be there (and whose writing I've enjoyed for years); and having still some slack for serendipity seems difficult. I've no idea what I'd do.

And if you've scheduled a bunch of things, what event are you most looking forward to?
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3. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:5482]
Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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What are you hoping to play this week? If you're heading to the con, are there some games you're particularly hoping to play? (And if not, pretend with me for a moment: would you want to play some weird old title that no-one in your circle owns, or some new release? Some multi-hour monstrosity that couldn't be scheduled under Normal Circumstances, or a smattering of shorter things that will let you play with a larger pool of people?)
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4. Board Game: Small City [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:2162]
Board Game: Small City
A very nice week boardgamingwise last week: a very nice mix of heavier and lighter games.

I'd worked a lot over the last several weeks so I decided to have some shorter days last week to relax a bit with some games, books and the cat in my lap.

 8   Taluva x3
Wednesday was one such day so in the afternoon my girlfriend and I played 3 games of Taluva. I got it second hand at Essen and had played it with her 3 times before. Last week she beat me for the first time and we're both beginning to discover some strategy to the game. It looks great and we both enjoy it a lot.

 9   Small City But not as much as we enjoy Small City! This is our heavier game. So far I've only played two-player but would love to try it with three to see how that changes the tourist dynamics. This was our fifth game together, my sixth in total. L suggested we play with the Godzilla mini-expansion. I'd never thought I would play it with that one but since she suggested it I agreed. It seems to add only randomness (and I did get it and its radioactive trail every single round it was possible) but if one of your promises is about filling up your borough then it can actually help - or the opposite. Still, it's just chance since it's determined through dice rolls. Silly but necessary for a city-building game it seems. I won't ask for it again but still enjoyed the game despite the obvious rust in my strategising. Through one small mistake I lost 30 points. Ouch!

 7   Carcassonne Thursday after dinner we played a round of Carcassonne with Inns and Cathedrals thrown in. Not much to say apart from me getting smashed by L.

 8   Age of Industry L went down to visit her family for the weekend so I tried hard to set up a day of gaming but had very little success. Fortunately, one friend found a whole in his calendar to play with me Saturday evening. He had never tried Age of Industry and I had never tried the two-player Great Lakes map so that was the perfect fit for our first game. I'd tried the Belgium two-player map twice and found that it stalled towards the end where we didn't have much interesting to do. Great Lakes didn't have that and it was very close. We both enjoyed the seasons mechanism and the end score was very tight - decided by who could control the ending of the game. I lost by a few points and would have won had I not had one card too many/too few to end it earlier. I'll definitely play this map again!

 7   König von Siam I had been out with some friends the night before so my head was only ready for lighter stuff now and I introduced my friend to several favourites from my shelves. I'm usually not very fond of area majority games (perhaps because I am awful at them. My brain seems not to be able to figure out what is good to do when for some reason) but this one is excellent - and one of the very few that actually works with two. It's extremely elegang, short and full of tension.

 7   Carnac Carnac was a two-player abstract I mainly got because of the wonderful bakelite pieces but it is actually quite good too. Contrary to most other abstracts it's far from good to control the centre of the board and you being able to place a piece of your opponent's colour as well is what makes this special.

 8   Murus Gallicus Murus Gallicus is another unknown two-player abstract that I really enjoy. It's from Néstor Games so it's far from pretty but it's very elegant and one where you have to balance your offensive very carefully with your defence.

 9   Khmer x2
We ended with two games of Elements. It's so simple and this the Japanese original version is both beautiful and well-made. I find it rather addictive. Our second game was my twelfth in total and the first one I didn't win. Great with a bit of competition

 7   Shephy Sunday morning my time, Marc had promised to play Wir sind das Volk with me online for a teaching game. While waiting for Marc to wake up and have his morning coffee I played a round of the great solitaire game Shephy. Having only 930 sheep at the end I lost.

 8   Wir sind das Volk! With coffeeine in his blood, Marc was ready to introduce me to some of the strategies of Wir sind das Volk!. I had complained that after two games of it I still found it awfully opaque and had no ideas how to apply pressure to my opponent in the game. Marc had very kindly offered to show me a bit through talking his way through his choices in an online game. It helped but I really need to play it more often to have the decade scoring fresh in my mind and know what to do during the game to affect that. Online that is a bit harder because you are not going through the steps yourself the same way as in real life but it was still a very helpful experience. Marc won of course


I'm usually not a twitcher (a birder that travels to see a rarity) but last week I did. This autumn has been rather strange in Northern Europe due to a long-lasting high pressure in Russia. That meant we have had a lot of easterlies during migration time which have brought over a lot of eastern rarities. Before this autumn Sibirian Accentors had only been spotted once in Denmark and that was 24 years ago. So far 16 have been seen over the last month! Most on islands in or next to the Baltic Sea but three have also been seen on the mainland where I live. Two of those only shortly but last week one was staying several days on a harbour close to where I work so I decided to drive up there at noon Thursday to see if I could find this little beauty:

From gallery of Tigrillo


It was a frosty and cold day but after a bit of bush-whacking we found it. New species for me and hard to find one too. Usually it's only found in its breeding area from the Ural Mountains and eastwards through Sibiria or in its wintering grounds in Northeastern China and the Korean Peninsula.
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5. Board Game: Road to the White House [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:7406]
Board Game: Road to the White House
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Without discussing more than is fit for this space, this week felt a bit like a punch in the gut, and a lost week. I didn't get much done, and we didn't play any games. I had a few nights where I didn't sleep much. I had been starting on holiday preparations, and that came to a screeching halt. Saturday found me unprepared for company on Sunday. I did a little cleaning and preparing, and Sam helped me get some things done on Sunday morning. We all had a nice lunch together and took a walk, as the weather is quite lovely here.

My birthday is on Sunday, so we'll probably go out to dinner at some point, and perhaps play a game or two. Sam is busy trying to prepare to defend his dissertation, so we may well just stay home and stay in for Thanksgiving so that he can work on it. I have a turkey breast in the freezer that I may use for Thanksgiving dinner. It is nice to have the new fridge so that we can tuck away some things in the freezer. With our old fridge, it didn't cool very well, and we were worried it would conk out on us and everything would be ruined.
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6. Board Game: Wir sind das Volk! [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:572]
Board Game: Wir sind das Volk!
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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 9   Triumvirate x2
 10   Wir sind das Volk! x2

My plays seem to be homogenizing these days! (which means that WsdV! is now part of my h-index, and Triumvirate is soon to follow)

As others have mentioned, this last week has been... well... a long week. The news of the election was difficult to stomach... as was the aftermath... as well as the prospect of a Conservative party runner to make an appeal for similar politics in Canada (social media posting of "thank god we live in Canada" kind of misses the point as to how political ideology moves and circulates... above and beyond being insensitive to those who are immediately facing consequences).

Tom and I had a long talk about politics (and the politics of affect as new school political theory to make sense of it all, and reconsider micropolitics as having macro ripples), before playing a match of WsdV! (which seems appropriate given its ideological focus, and relational flow). Our game went into the fourth decade, with Tom holding on for dear life as the West (after a feint or two in the early decades) only to falter ideologically in the fourth decade (although he *almost* pulled through). A lot of choices that game seemingly came down to "how greedy can I get and not screw myself?" (and which goals are worth the knife in the foot?). Tom's a really crafty player at this game, and I'm always pushed to rise to the occasion when playing him. (and props to boardgamecore for such a great interface -- The Great Zimbabwe is currently in Beta, so looking forward to that)

Speaking of, Morten (our newest Phoenix!) and I also played (on Sunday AM MST, Sunday PM in Denmark!) WsdV! as he has mentioned above. Morten's got a good gut for this game with its multiple interconnecting layers. Also, as mentioned above, it was a really great exercise for me to articulate the things I seemed to know at a gut level but had not yet put into words (which I still wasn't fully able to either), so I hope you took away a few lessons from the game Morten! Speaking of lessons, one of the best ways to learn this game (like with Twilight Struggle), is to take your beatings, lick your wounds, and come back at it stronger -- Morten, what I pulled off that game was a Shields(-late-game-unrest)-Tsunami -- trust me, the first time I was on the receiving end of that one, it hurt! For a game that places (almost) everything out in the open, there's still room for so many surprises! Morten, I'm looking forward to our next match!

.. but speaking of, Morten is a real swell character and a pleasure to game with (yes, even over skype!). It was great to connect and meet another member of the crew!

Last but not least, Brooke and I put in two games of Triumvirate of which I won one... barely. Brooke shut down the first match 2-0, lickety split. The second we split the first matches and in the third, I had two sevens and pried the third from Brooke through deep fishing. I went "lucky sevens" but Brooke drew it out and inverted the possibility by going with the fork (playing gutsy to hold 3s and 5s in two suits) and *almost* pull it off. Brooke totally has her head wrapped around this one!

In non-gaming news (above and beyond what's already been mentioned), I got to teach my very first doctoral seminar today. What a treat and real pleasure! On a topic that is of my heart ("advanced research methodologies in educational research") to students who were lovely, engaged, and critical.

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7. Board Game: 1867: The Railways of Canada [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Board Game: 1867: The Railways of Canada
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_8_ 51st State: Master Set x2
_8_ Russian Railroads x2
_8_ 1867: The Railways of Canada x1


The Week in Review
From gallery of Lowengrin

I'm not sure why I'm putting 1867: The Railways of Canada as my headliner; I played abysmally bad. I had almost no strategy at all and not even any tactical skill to keep three of my four minors floating past the first round of nationalization. In my defence, I was on a doctor-prescribed cocktail of pain-killers and Gravol to numb a migraine. You might think that these would induce some sort of freeing of inhibitions and make me play fast and loose, but I found myself incapable of risk-taking. I knew vaguely what I needed to do, but couldn't think through the chain of actions required (moving trains from company to company and forcing loans to get more money to buy more trains) so I did nothing. And so when JR bought the first 4-train, my 2-trains all rusted and I crashed and burned.

Now, with defeat so fresh, I just want to play it again sooner than later.

Board Game: 51st State: Master Set

I managed to win both games of 51st State: Master Set against S. The first, by a large margin, the second on a tie-breaker.

51st State: Master Set is a good, fast moving game for us. And it doesn't take too long to set up or knock down. Although I rate it quite high, at least a point of that rating is due to it being so playable with S. To be honest, if someone else suggested playing it, I'd probably decline.
Board Game: Russian Railroads


Russian Railroads, on the other hand, I'd be happy to play with others. In fact, I'd love to try it with more than two. That said, to keep it's longevity up with just two, I've ordered the sequel/expansion: German Railroads.

S and I have now played it enough that the games are down to 45 minutes (not including set up or knock down) and I don't need to play facilitator so can concentrate on my own stuff. So it's a pleasure to play in the evening with S - although it's getting a bit samey so I'm looking forward to getting the expansion before we burn out on the base game.


The Week Ahead

Russian Railroads is still on the table, although I'm thinking of putting it away until closer to the day that the expansion arrives. But I've also tracked down a copy of Grand Austria Hotel so German Railroads may find some competition for table time when it does arrive. Not that I expect either will arrive this week (and probably not even next).

So really, I have no plans for this week.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: Tin Goose, Francis Drake, The U.S. Civil War, German Railways, Pax Pamir and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

Unplayed games not in shrink: 1844/1854 and Normandy '44.
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8. Board Game: 18OE: On the Rails of the Orient Express [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:3032]
Board Game: 18OE: On the Rails of the Orient Express
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 12Nov2016:

4/8/389 plays of 4/8/194 total games, with 3/4/44 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/11/137 distinct opponents.

1/1/33 games acquired (plus 5/5/27 expansions.) - Isfahan, Pax Pamir: Khyber Knives, Pax Renaissance, Pax Renaissance Expansion, Codenames: Pictures – 5x5 Promo Tiles and Russian Railroads: American Railroads.
1/1/5 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/2 expansions.) - Neos.
0/0/26 games ordered (plus 0/2/8 expansions.)
Orders for 7 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.

With family:
1x _7⅔_ Russian Railroads (with American Railroads [New!] and Mini-Expansion) - American Railroads is amusing. The mutations are quite small - particularly compared to those of the German Railroads expansion (and that even without considering the Coal game.)
Son #2 enjoyed it; but he thought that the unexpanded game was likely still his favourite.
1x _7⅓_ Pax Renaissance [New!] (with Expansion [New!]) - It's amusing: very much a child of its respective Pax & Lords parents. I'm not confident it'll ever be something I love; but I also expect, as I come to a greater accommodation with how it works, that I might rate it higher in future than I currently do.
Subjectively, it's closer to Pamir than Porfiriana in fiddliness. It seems it's likely a bit shorter than either, too: there isn't the Topple equivalent here - so one plays to a Victory condition or when the (rather small, compared to the total number of possible cards) draw decks run out. This play was with 2; so I'm definitely interested in seeing how it does with more players.

With the Monday lunch group:
1x _7⅔_ Santiago - This was quite glorious: though, admittedly, I also came quite a distant last. I misjudged the groupthink here quite badly - and was amused to watch a couple folk maximize their own points without noticing that their relative score (against the leader) didn't do nearly as well. But with five of us playing, that was enough to leave the results a bit more chaotic than when I played online with some of you all.

With the Wednesday night gang:
1x _8_ 18OE - Short scenario #2. And, sadly, we've regressed a bit in speed: this one ran until 2am! Some of that was lack of discipline in noting (and mutating) train runs. We calculated and recalculated them for hours. And had a load of fun with the remainder of the game, too.
(I mismanaged the train rush here - and was bailed out by converting my hapless (and train-less) companies to Nationals. Which did pretty well for a while - but when the 7-trains came out, I was distinctly behind the revenue that the best companies were earning. And since Paul had the majority of the shares in those Best Companies, he won quite easily.)

Owned-and-unplayed: 0 (+1/-1) - Pax Renaissance arrived and was played.
Owned-and-played-once: 91 (+1/-0) - Pax Renaissance was played once.

Outlook for the week: Choir practices Sunday (Sine Nomine), Monday (Viva la Musica), Tuesday (Peninsula Cantare), and listening to son #2's Coastal Honour Choir Saturday. Lunch games today (though only Brian showed up; so we played a couple little 2p games.) Wednesday night gang (I'm hoping we'll try Russian Railroads: American Railroads or more Pax Renaissance; but I'll likely be happy with whatever we try.) Probably a couple more games with son #2 - and we might be able to convince daughter #1 to join us for Bohnanza.

Edited 'children' to 'child' for slightly better grammar.
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9. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:416]
Board Game: Vikings
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

|9| A Feast for Odin (x9)
|9| Love Letter
-8- Terra Mystica (+Fire & Ice; 4 Town Tiles)
-8.5- Vikings
-7.5- No Thanks! (x2)
-4- Escalation! (x2)

Plenty of Viking gaming last week. A Feast for Odin was even played three times in one weeknight (one 2-player, two 3-players) – it's just that addictive. My favourite occupation of the past week was Festive Hunter, which allows you to take a free Hunt Game action if you eat meat in the feast. There's something about free, out-of-turn bonus actions that appeals to me and adding the Antlers Seller (+1 silver if you successfully Hunt Game) made for a nice little combo. I've noticed we're getting better at watching each other for blocking opportunities and timing our placements, especially around claiming extra boards. Newfoundland is popular, so manoeuvring for start player to pick it up first is important.

Sticking with the theme, Vikings was a blast. Three diverse strategies resulted in quite close scores. I was miles behind during the game but jumped into the lead when I cashed in my 98 money for points with the 3:1 bonus token. However, I had underfed, so lost points there. Kate was just ahead of me with many nobles and bonus village tiles but Simon's warrior and fishermen strategy gave him the edge. Still a great game.

It had been many months since we played Terra Mystica, so we were all a little rusty and made some mistakes. The Dwarf player missed out on his second town by one point of power – desperately hoping someone would build next to him in the last round. I was playing Halflings with a Round 4 spades bonus and scored a good chunk of points aiming at that. Scores in general were low as there was a lot of blocking.

The other three games were quick fillers while waiting for others to arrive. Escalation! is a Knizia card game I'd be happy to never play again – very luck based, biased against the start player and with an awful theme.

Seafall arrived at the weekend and I have a group eager to try it. Probably more eager than I am, in fact. My anticipation has been tempered by the indifferent reviews I've seen; I'm not expecting it to be as big a hit as Pandemic Legacy was but still looking forward to it. It will have to wait until next week, though – too busy this week.
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