GCL Mafia 307: Down With the Sickness
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread (links to past lists, subscribe for weekly notifications).
GameChat League Wiki (for general information about the GameChat League concept)
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Thesp's GCL Games Played Tool (an easy-to-use tool for collating your plays for the week)
Jam of the Week (a song to play on repeat while perusing the list. Mandatory.)

Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of December 5 - December 11, in this Two Thousand and Sixteenth Year of our Lord.
• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
• Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• A weekly game is spotlighted and discussed. The poster will pose questions about it to encourage conversation.
• Themed questions are optional. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics.
• A top five question can be asked for by this week's current-list writer, with members offering suggestions.

Current Roster:
touchstonethefool
jshufelt
fdubois
bobcatpoet
charlest
Happymrdave
tallgrant
Thesp
annowme
Dolus
Dr. • ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
captainraffi
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1. RPG Item: Cut Throats, Killers & Scoundrels: Tabascus T. Murnin [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
RPG Item: Cut Throats, Killers & Scoundrels: Tabascus T. Murnin
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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I was pretty quiet last week, on account of having some odd strain of death plague. Doctor was convinced it was Strep Throat even though I tested negative (I guess there are multiple strains). It felt like I'd swallowed broken glass chased with a shot of lime juice allllllll week.

It's that time of year I guess...do you have an insane immune system or do seasonal changes get you down?
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2. Board Game: Baby Blues [Average Rating:5.60 Overall Rank:16346]
Board Game: Baby Blues
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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I impressed myself with my ability to hold it together last week with Raffi. Katie was out of town, so I couldn't do my normal thing I do when I'm sick which is turn into a giant baby and not leave my fort made of pillows, blankets, and self pity.

What are you like when you're sick?
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3. Board Game: Doctor Who: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:7942] [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
Board Game: Doctor Who: The Card Game
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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I'm not sure I've seen much chatter about this show on the GCL. Do you watch? Why is it the best or worst sci-fi has to offer? Why should I, who has never seen a single episode, binge watch it the next time I'm sick?
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4. Board Game: Zobmondo!! Would You Rather...? twisted, sick and wrong [Average Rating:4.41 Overall Rank:17926]
Board Game: Zobmondo!! Would You Rather...? twisted, sick and wrong
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Siiiiiiiiick.

What's the coolest, sickest, most impressive thing you've ever seen or done? Does not have to be gaming related.
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5. Board Game: DOOM: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:1265]
Board Game: DOOM: The Board Game
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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DOOM: The Board Game x2 (new!)
Haze Islands x1

Reviews

The Walking Dead: All Out War

Haze Islands




DOOM
So lets get this straight, I like this game quite a bit but it's not mind blowing or fantastic. It's not as good as Conan or TMNT unfortunately.

Most of that is because we've seen this game before from FFG. The overlord player has a deck of event cards and works to kill off the players (needs 6 frags to win) before they can accomplish their objective.

The combat system is a streamlined and simplified Descent/Imperial Assault system where you roll Red/Black dice with Black just being better odds with more hits. Defender draws the top card from their personal deck and checks for shield symbols in the top corner which are subtracted from hits, the difference being damage sustained.

There's a cool glory kill thing where if a Demon is wounded enough, a Marine can simply move onto their space and auto-kill them, receiving a Glory Kill card as a bonus. This is a one-time use special effect. Neat.

The nugget of brilliance in the game are the individual player decks that consist of card sets linked to weapons. So if you start the game with a Super Shotgun and Plasma Rifle, you take the three card shotgun set and the three plasma rifle cards and shuffle them together with your generic four cards to form your player deck.

You find the Chainsaw during play? Add the three chainsaw cards to your deck. Pickup a grenade? Add the single grenade card to your deck.

This is awesome. It makes turns a little more puzzly and is reminiscent of Gears of War. The feel of how the attacks/weapons work is similar to Adrenaline and gives the game a snappy FPS style of play where it moves quickly. That simplified attack system helps it move as well.

The game is long though, it takes 2ish hours most of the time and is a bit grindy with good guys respawning and throwing themselves back against the waves of enemies. It also feels a little too easy on the first two scenarios. The original Doom board game was absolutely brutal. Probably the most difficult dungeon crawl game for the heroes I've seen. I half prefer that I think.

I'm really torn on this one in terms of keeping it in my collection. I do think it's a good game that falls short of great, mostly because everything besides the weapon system and glory kill mechanism is rehashed one vs. many stuff. I need to see more scenarios and see if the formula is changed up at all. It does offer 12 total scenarios over two campaigns which is nice.


On My Mind
Uncharacteristically, scheduling has been a bitch lately. We were supposed to meetup and play New Angeles but that got cancelled. I can't do my regular Wednesday night this week due to a family thing, and people can't seem to find another night. I might just go to the Thursday night meetup group I haven't attended in a year or so.

I'm a few episodes into Narcos season 2 and I'm enjoying it. Not as much as I enjoyed Westworld but it's good stuff.

Alley Brawler (my real-time street fighter dice game) is in the mail to Zev/Wizkids. We'll see if something comes of that.
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6. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:25]
Board Game: Puerto Rico
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Board Game: Puerto Rico
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Board Game: Think Str8!
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Board Game: Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China
Board Game: Kingdom Builder
Board Game: Celestia


6  Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China NEW!

Lots of favorites this week, and one new one that... well, unfortunately was not was I hoping for.

9  Puerto Rico
9  Terraforming Mars
8  Think Str8!
10  Race for the Galaxy x2
8  Kingdom Builder
8  Celestia

So let's get the bad one out of the way first. Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China was a disappointment. I doubt my score will stay as high as 6, but that's where I've pegged it for now. I like the movie as a silly fun 80s romp movie. I was hoping the game would be able to ride the coattails of the movie and mix it with the tried-and-at-least-mostly-true Legendary system.

It sort of works, but also trips over itself in many places. The good part of it is the artwork is all new and hand-drawn, and it's largely high-quality. I'm glad they didn't go with fuzzy film clips, as those almost always look low-quality when put on cards. The bad part is the cards don't really mix together especially well. The Legendary system isn't exactly super deep, but it generally does offer you at least some interesting options in terms of setting up your deck for combos.

In this one, the combos are largely lacking. The extra functionality of most of the cards that you get from having other ones that link into just isn't that interesting. Some cards have no special linking at all even. Yawn.

It also has the schizophrenic Legendary thematic problems that never seem to have been addressed. What exactly am I in the game? And what exactly does me adding an Eddie card to my deck represent? Is he joining me? If so, why does he join... um, everyone? This is admittedly rather minor, but I do find it weird that many people who complain that euros are lacking in theme lavish praise on Legendary... where the theme really doesn't make much sense.

Ehh. Anyways. I want to play this a couple more times but I'm pretty sure my score will drop and I'm going to trade/sell it.

Puerto Rico for another week consecutive week! YEAH! We had a very competitive 4-player game, but I was able to sneak out a win with a factory + harbor + the VP chip 10 building. This game is just plain good.

I want to try the expansions sometime in the near future for the same reason as before (would rather have useful buildings in place of the 4 or so that nobody ever buys).

Terraforming Mars was a fun but loooooong 3p game. We played the full full game at long last, and ... well, I think I like the asymmetrical resource production starting with no levels in anything produces. The corporate era cards + lower production does make the game longer for sure though, and it's already a lengthy game. We also got a lot of cards that gave us income but through means other than raising the normal terraforming parameters, so that also contributed to the length.

Still a favorite from this year but will likely not be playing this on a weeknight again. Even with experienced players it was easily 3 hours, likely 3.5.

Think Str8! is one of the better deduction games of the last few years. We had a very fun playthrough of it, with (amusingly) every player making some big mistake at some point. So that was interesting to see...

I would totally rebuy this with non-terrible components. They're seriously awful but the game is seriously good.

Race for the Galaxy was fun but I didn't get much synergy-wise and one of the other players very much did and he wasted us the first game and had a reasonable lead the second one. Ahh well.

Kingdom Builder was nice to visit again. I really like this game, and repeat plays have made me feel like the "you have no control since you only get one card" argument just doesn't hold weight. I've been able to consistently crush my old scores.

Should try the expansions since I've had them forever but haven't tried them yet.

Celestia was fun but a little long with six. I think I'm still burned out on this. I don't know if I'm going to sell it yet, since I know I've had a lot of fun with it, but I still really don't feel like playing it much again. Needs more cooldown time? If I don't feel like trying it again after some arbitrary period of time I think that means it's destined for the sell pile though.
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7. Board Game: StarFall [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:6496]
Board Game: StarFall
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Board Game: StarFall
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Dunwich Legacy: Expansion
Board Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past


StarFall NEW!
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Dunwich Legacy NEW!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past NEW!

No game night this week. These are all solo plays where I controlled everything, mostly to learn them.

StarFall
Given the auction nature, this is impossible for me to "review" or say too much based solely on a solo play. Auction-esque mechanics are like the one thing I can't adequately do on my own. That said, the game seems pretty interesting. These cardboard tokens flip out from a stack and have symbols on them that are favorious flavors of set collection. On your turn you can draw a new token (up to 3 on the board) and place it in the most expensive available slot, or you can move one to a cheaper spot, or buy one. The game ends when everyone runs out of their starting "cash". Unlike Morocco, they played the theme/presentation in well enough that it hides the feeling that your'e playing a fancy prototype so well done there. Neither auction nor set collection are things I love, so we'll see how my final verdict shakes out. IDW included this one as a surprise in my TMNT shipment. I wonder if Katie will like this one...may take it to VA over the holiday.

Dunwich Legacy
I was correct in assuming that an advance copy was coming last week. If there was any doubt in my mind that the expansions might dampen my enthusiasm for this game, it's gone. I'm going to be playing this game for a long time. I did Scenario 1a (you can do them in either order and it changes the game) and it was so fun. Lots of changes to the clue system in terms of what they represent and how you use them, and the resolutions were way more "gray area". Impressed.

TMNT: Shadows of the Past
IDW offered me this kind of out of nowhere and I jumped. I didn't think I'd be able to get a copy since Charlie had already covered it so I didn't ask, but after he talked about it I was super interested. Very glad I got it as its a ton of fun. Exactly the sort of fun and engaging co-op romp I'd want out of a turtles game. Felt like playing the old arcade cabinets.

On my Mind
Not much. This week was almost a total wash. I missed 3 days of work due to being sick so mostly watched a lot of TV and played Pokemon.

Speaking of, I beat the main Story line and am now working on my Pokedex. I've decided that (for now) I'm going to try to 100% the pokedex which is something I've never done. So far, I'm 5 Pokemon away from doing it for one of the sub-regions which is fun. The Global Trade system makes it so much easier.

My review pile went from 0 to "What?!" out of nowhere. I had only my Destiny review to write when suddenly Last Friday, New Angeles, Dunwich, TMNT, and Starfall all showed up in 2 days. I was only expecting 2 of them. Time to get playing! OH and Pandemic Iberia finally arrived. Katie and I are planning to play tomorrow night.

We bailed on my corporate christmas party due to illness, but did go to the ExxonMobil Children's Party. It's really nice and fun for Raffi to run around with other little kids. We also got this absolute gem of a picture:

From gallery of captainraffi
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8. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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Betrayal at House on the Hill w/Widow's Walk
Empire Builder


Empire Builder
Our weekly theme was Crayon Rails. We got our four, hooray! But then more wanted to play, people couldn't make it, etc. Lots of difficulties. I don't want to play a 5 player Crayon Rails, especially with people who've never played before. So I was going to do 3 and 2, or 3 and 3, or wait we're back down to 4. So I set up just Empire Builder, and then after the start time of 7, cause everybody was late, it turned out we were going to have 5 players. Great. Now we're playing 5 player Crayon Rails... And we didn't get started until about 8 due to late arrivals. The game took a very long time, about 4 to 4.5 hours. One of the reasons I do not want to play 5 players with new people. I got a really good head start, and then got a run of useless cards or cards that would only pay out in Mexico. I got tired of throwing cards away so I built to Mexico, spent about $100 and made about $100, and then all my tempo just halted. My opponent caught up and surpassed me for the win. I was over $200M at the end of the game, but a long ways out from reaching $250M.


We also celebrated my birthday a bit early and had friends over for Betrayal.
Get Bit!
We started with Get Bit!, which is always fun as long as it doesn't outstay its welcome. Two plays was a good number.

Betrayal at House on the Hill w/Widow's Walk
Then we played one game of Betrayal. This haunt (no spoilers outside of flavor known to both sides) was one person experimenting on the other players, and the other players were mutating. The traitor (me) had to capture all the other players. I had a lot of fun with it, and was able to hold them far enough back from their objective to not be able to win, but it could've gone either way.

After my second play of Widow's Walk, my conclusion:
Pros:
-50 more haunts with a more innovative and fun feel than the base game
Cons:
-Haunts are just as ambiguous and confusing as the first edition base game was before errata and clarification, which doesn't exist yet for the expansion.
-The expansion haunts are on average more complex and confusing than base game haunts, which is bad when playing the game with people unfamiliar with Betrayal.

Other
My Tak book arrived. I read it, I'm pretty much done with it. About what I expected. I really want to play more Tak, though, awesome game. The puzzles in the book I thought were easy enough, but also really powerful in a "solve this puzzle so you can know how to see different moves and end game possibilities". There are also two different game rules in there that are just interesting.

There are also the rules to Patrick's version of Tak. They're not finished because they were abandoned early on. Essentially, though, you play a piece and gain influence on surrounding spaces. Each piece ends up gaining you 4 influence, no matter how it's placed. Every game always ended in a tie, hence abandoning the project, but the fact that every piece or move offers the same benefit might be a good reason why.


Also, Jennifer and I celebrated Christmas early. She flies out this week and I fly out next week, then it's traveling until almost the new year. So we decided to celebrate amongst ourselves early. Maddy got a teepee playhouse that's pretty cool and functional with a big mirror (he likes to look at himself, he finds himself hilarious). Best part, though, is he's a week from being 5 months, and we encouraged him to open his own present. We did an initial tear, got him to grab on, and either he'd pull or (more often), I would pull or carry Maddy around while he held the paper. We did that until most of the package was unwrapped.

I got exactly what I asked for, and for the first time ever I asked for not what I wanted, but what I needed. A new wardrobe. I don't like buying clothes, and so many of my clothes are damaged or worn out that I don't have much to wear anymore. Well, Jennifer fixed that!

Jennifer got new utensils (place setting for 16, we're set for parties!), Boxcars, and Xeno Invasion.
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9. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:470]
Board Game: Citadels
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Under My Bed
Board Game: Mogul
Board Game: Medici
Board Game: Glory to Rome
Board Game: Citadels
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars: Yuggoth Map Expansion
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars: The Windwalker Expansion
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars: Primeval Earth Map
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars
Board Game: Archaeology: The New Expedition


Under My Bed NEW!
Mogul
Medici
Glory to Rome
Citadels (2016 edition) x2 NEW!
Cthulhu Wars: Yuggoth Map Expansion NEW!
Cthulhu Wars: The Windwalker Expansion x2 NEW!
Cthulhu Wars: Primeval Map Expansion NEW!
Cthulhu Wars x2
Archaeology: The New Expedition x2

Had a cracking good set of plays at my usual game group, and even got a game in of Glory to Rome which is a rare thing nowadays. Only new game there was a PnP of Under My Bed, which is also trying to be "Spyfall The Micro Game." Gooseberry remains the best of that lot so far.

I still am a defender of Citadels despite it's problems, so I was elated to pick up a copy of Citadels from my FLGS this past week. I got two 2p games in with my girlfriend and it went over like a charm. The new roles are also very welcome and let you customize your experience to a much higher degree than Citadels: The Dark City.

Faidutti also wrote a very lengthly reflection on the game's history and their design intent for the new edition which is included in the new rulebook: they recognized that game tastes nowadays tend toward quick playing games, and that they made adjustments to Citadels that would help it along (making the "game ends at 7 districts" be the rule rather than the variant, tweaking roles and special buildings to allow for faster builds). I think this is the best version of the game to date, and I can't wait to put it through it's paces with more players.

My regular group that plays Cthulhu Wars and I sat down to give some of the expansion content a try after I picked up some of the remainder from the Petersen's online store. While all expansion factions saw play, I spent my time with just the Windwalker faction. Having a nigh-indestructable second GOO in Rhan-Tegoth (along with the "you always spend 5 power on the Ritual" spellbook) really drove home how Rital-centric the faction is. Having units with punishing spell books also helped make me an intimidating target. I lost the first game to Yellow Sign then walked away with the second game, for reasons outlined below.

We played two of the expansion maps, first Yuggoth and then Primeval Earth. The former had a lot going on, between the Laboratory to make brain cylinders out of your cultists, to the Slime Sea with it's neutral Slime Molds, and finally the beastly Watcher of the Green Pyramid that cut a bloody swath through the map.

My friend Josh played Sleeper and made good use of the Lab to gain tons of power through brain cylinders and fortifying himself around the Slime Sea outlook. I started in the Windwalker spot right next to the Green Pyramid and should have gone all in with creating gates to get the extra power. As it was I kept chasing being first place through lots of uses of Hibernate but getting foiled by Sleeper's huge power gain. And once the Watcher awakened, I lost a ton of cultists and took a while to re-build. Meanwhile our third player floated his Yellow King around for some very easy desecrations and won decisively.

The Primeval Earth map was less complex rules-wise, but ended up being a lot tougher. A lot of gates iced over very quickly, which really constrained the map and bottle-necked doom points. Since that aligned with Windwalker's strengths (hitting the Ritual became the main source of Doom point earning) I ran away with a victory, and while I liked the glacier mechanic in theory, it felt more frustrating than interesting.

Also our third player really wanted to try Opener, and while I mentioned that the general consensus was that Opener was at a disadvantage in 3p games, it actually worked out for him on the Primeval map: Everyone had to continually open new gates in order to gain Doom early on, which meant that we got to 12 gates on the map in no time. The drawback was that Opener's ability to abscond with Gates shortly became useless, as there soon was no spot on the map that didn't have one. He did use his ability to promote units and summon them at any gate very effectively, though, so I think the faction still has lots of merit. As always, looking forward to more plays of this fantastic game!
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10. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1254]
Board Game: Android
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Board Game: Patchwork
Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game
Board Game: Reiner Knizia's Decathlon
Board Game: Android
From gallery of Annowme
Board Game: SeaFall
 


9  Tigris & Euphrates
9  Patchwork x2
10  Ascension: Deckbuilding Game x5
N/A  Reiner Knizia's Decathlon NEW!
N/A  Android NEW!
N/A  Hybris NEW!
N/A  SeaFall
N/A  Mint Works x3 NEW!

I had another gaming-with-people-from-Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh evening this past weekend, but I could only stay for a few hours on Friday night. THAT SAID, we managed to play Android, which was our planned game.

It was a three player game, and I played with:
Piper Kilpatrick
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Jason Panella
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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It's Jason's favorite game. Period. He's a big D&D player and has gravitated towards many narrative games as a result. Android and LotR LCG are his top two, and he's been begging everyone to play Android with him for months. Now, if you'll recall, I got Android from my BGG Secret Santa in 2015, and the game has sadly sat unplayed since then. I have been chomping at the bit to play this!

Piper was Rachel, the Bounty Hunter with daddy issues, Jason was Floyd, the Bioroid wrestling with an existential crisis, and I was Caprice, the psychic clone who fears she is sub-human and on the brink of mental collapse. Our initial plots were interesting. Rachel needed to keep up the cashflow so that she and her friend, Lena, could pay back their debts, Floyd was trying to discover emotion, and Caprice was befriending Daniel, a fellow student at Levy University (a major location), who she believed might genuinely view her as a normal human being. My strategy revolved around spending time at Levy University for "Daniel Favors" and cashing in favors and cards at Jinteki (a major location) so I could get as many corporate VPs as possible. However, I learned that major and "seedy" locations were bad news for Caprice, as Piper and Jason spammed dark cards for Caprice anytime I went there, putting a lot of trauma on Caprice as she fought off crippling nightmares and hallucinogenic episodes. Despite getting some bad baggage for these cards, Caprice managed to accrue lots of "trust" baggage and her initial plot resolved positively, meaning the Daniel really was her friend and her sanity improved.

The second half of the game featured Floyd getting nailed by dark cards, but his second "Property of Haas-Bioroid" plot allowed him to gain lots of positive baggage just for moving around the board without getting stopped. Jason and I realized too late that Piper was going to run away with the game. He had to check the rules regarding perjury evidence twice, which led us to believe that he drew said evidence more than one. He ended up adding the most guilt to Noise, and scored +15 VP for his guilty hunch, while Jason and I only got +5 for our innocent hunches. My bonus plot and corporate points from Caprice did score a lot, but in the end, Piper/Rachel won with 44 VP, while Floyd/Jason and Caprice/I lost in a tie at 35 VP.

I loved it. It was a narrative roller coaster. Sure, it has its clunky moments, such as interruption of play to intervene with dark cards, or referring to plot cards, your hand, and the myriad board locations for text keywords, but even with it being a table-hog with lots of "fiddly" bits, I thought it was perfect for what it set out to be: a noir crime plot generator. We all felt very invested in our characters and the setting because we knew what to expect going into it--it's not Clue: Blade Runner, it's a narrative game. It's all theme, all the time. It was very existential and we talked about the plot progression for almost a half-hour after we were done tearing it down. It's not the sort of thing I'd play on a weekly basis, but I do want to play it many more times. Piper, Jason, and I agreed that we should plan to play it at these game nights more often, being careful not to play with five players (the downtime would be crippling).

As for the other games I played this week:

-- Tigris & Euphrates: a narrow win by me over Anastasia. We were at each other's throats, but in the end, she got greedy to build another Black monument and I swooped in for the revolt against her weakened Black king, tipping the end VPs in my favor.

-- Decathlon: a very light press-your-luck dice game by Reiner Knizia. I've had it printed for the longest time, but I decided to break it out so I could count it towards my Dicember 2016 challenge. It's fun, though I have no idea how it would be as a multi-player game since it has zero interaction.

-- Ascension: one of my local friends wanted to play, so we set up the first block of cards. He really enjoyed it, and will probably grab the app and a few expansions to dive in the deep end.

-- Mint Works: this is a winner from the 2015 Mint Tin PnP Design Contest, and it recently Kickstarted a commercial release. It's effectively the Buildings portion of Lords of Waterdeep distilled down to its essence. It is worker placement in ten minutes, and actually quite fun and crunchy for being so light, otherwise. Anastasia creamed me best two out of three. I see this as a perfect travel game or something to introduce to non-gamers.

-- Hybris: a finalist in the 2016 One-Page PnP Design Contest and my personal pick for #1. This is basically a more economic-focused Eclipse Lite. It's a single page board (which is PACKED with iconography), six dice, and thirty-one cubes. It's very, very good. Far better than I anticipated, being so spoiled on its big brother and inspiration. It is a dice drafting/placement game, so all six dice are rolled, then each is assigned to a related action spot in player order, making for very tough decisions and the ability to preemptively starve your opponent of what dice they need to assign to their board.

"1" activates your scientists, which can research a gamut of game-breaking technologies. "2" activates your workers, which can construct economy and culture buildings. "3" activates your alien ambassadors, which can clone additional scientists and workers, or allow you to change your dice rolls, or provide one-time boosts to your economy. "4," "5," and "6" allow you to expand across the sector, colonizing planets and increasing your workforce, economy, and culture, but also diminishing the size of your allowable cube allocation, simulating the bureaucracy of a bigger and bigger empire. Finally, there is a trade track and political intrigue track for use by any dice, which allow for instant money and eventual culture and first player privileges. Upgraded weapons technology allows you to attack your opponent's cubes in the sector map for conquest. There are three victory conditions: dominate your opponent's homeworld, reach ten culture, or research the alien master technology and "ascend."

This one is a real PnP winner. It's tight, offers great choices, is easy to build, has strong art and graphic design, plays in twenty to thirty minutes, and requires only a few components. Any of your could print the board and rules and scrape together the necessary bits. Charlie, you would especially like it, I think.

-- Patchwork: surprise, surprise, Anastasia wrecked me.

-- SeaFall: we finished game two of our campaign. One important milestone got sniped out from under me by the green player in our PbF, and I ended up coming in third. I'm still figuring out the economic warp and woof of the game, but we have lots of fun spoilers to work with now, so I'm happy to get into game three following the holidays. More than ever, I'd love to play this in person. I have warmed to it very, very much.

On My Mind:

I have to write my paper for class this week, as it is due by the end of Thursday. Time management, as always, is my Achilles' heel. Illness abounds. Lots of snow has fallen. We've had many delightful wood fires in our fireplace.

EDIT: what did I tell you? My BGG Secret Santa gift showed up today, so Anastasia went and grabbed her gift for me out of the back room to compare...

From gallery of Annowme
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11. Video Game: BOARD GAME: Top Shop [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:3723]
Video Game: BOARD GAME: Top Shop
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Dice Heist 2
13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1
Clank! 1
Potion Explosion 1
Terraforming Mars 1
The Guardians: Explore 1

Nothing new this week. I skipped game night on Wednesday due to being sick and not wanting to cough on other people.

Dice Heist and 13 Days both got dimed.

Dice Heist is a quick filler, so it's not surprising it got dimed so quickly. It remains to be fun when you embrace the random and yell obscenities when the dice don't know how to roll properly.

My opinion on 13 Days has cooled a bit. I think it's a decent enough game, but I feel like I'm terrible at it and am not really sure how to improve. I get the idea of what I'm supposed to do, but cannot seem to actually put that into action. Still, I enjoy the tradition Matt and I have made out of it. It's just too bad it's not Agricola instead.

The Guardians: Explore: I played a full game of this with Matt. My first impression from my solo attempt remains. It's a pretty subpar game, typical of many Kickstarters. It's not broken, but it's not good/fun either. This feels very much like someone who really likes deckbuilders so he made a variant on the Marvel: Legendary system that his friends like playing and then put it on Kickstarter. I'm trying to make my review a bit more fleshed out than simply stating "This shit sucks."

---

On My Mind:

Last day of class is today. I have mixed feelings about that as I had two really great classes and two very meh classes, So, I'm happy for the latter to end, but sad for the other two as they were great groups. I have miscellaneous things to come to campus for the rest of the week, but I'm excited to be able to sleep in.

I got rid of my copy of Puerto Rico and my friend's copy of Millennium Blades in the most recent math trade. I'm getting Haspelknecht and Time's Up: Title Recall in exchange. I'm looking forward to both.
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12. Board Game: Empire of the Sun [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:755]
Board Game: Empire of the Sun
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Board Game: War of the Ring: Second Edition
Board Game: Empire of the Sun
Board Game: Tichu
Board Game: Dungeon Lords
Board Game: Churchill


 10   War of the Ring (second edition)
 9   Empire of the Sun
 9   Tichu
 10   Dungeon Lords
 N/A   Churchill

Really great week for gaming. Lots of big and exciting things!

Empire of the Sun: Played on Pearl Harbor Day to commemorate. This is one of the more complicated games I've got and I was really happy to place it out because there's a lot of neat things working in it. It had been too long, and it showed- we got in one full turn (the opening attack on Pearl Harbor and East Asia is considered a turn, though its a lot less complicated). My wife was not impressed that our 2 hours of play time netted one turn of gameplay. But I (as the Japanese Empire) pounded the US fleet in Hawaii, took the Phillipines and Hong Kong. The US player is unhappy because his Army and Navy are fighting (interservice rivalry), and because I sent submarines to the Panama Canal he doesn't get any reinforcements next turn. We've left it on the table and will hopefully complete this week!

I really do enjoy getting games out on historical dates and playing- it is a fun way for me to connect the history of it to what I'm doing in my life. I'm getting the sense that Pearl Harbor Day isn't something that's much in the American consciousness anymore, and that does make me sad- this was as impactful to that generation as the Kennedy assassination was to their children, or as the September 11 attacks were to my generation.

War of the Ring: Met a BGG/playtesting friend in person and got in a game. It was really exciting to play someone who is pretty active online, and that I know to be solid. I played toe to toe with him most of the way, but did something stupid and left Mordor open near the end. He sat on Path of the Woses until I had a low muster turn and sprung an unpleasant surprise. The following turn I rolled a ton of Eyes and my goose was cooked.

Tichu: Still wonderful. Want to play it again. And again!

Churchill: Nonhistorical outcome! Germany survived the war, but Japan lost...because it was invaded by Great Britain??? Our winner pulled out the game as the United States because he dominated issues and won each of the conferences. Comrade Stalin got stymied on his final drive into Berlin, and I think the US choke on the Western Front removed any chance of victory I had.

Dungeon Lords: I played well here, well enough that with a little luck in combat cards and fatigue I avoided all conquering. I did manage to get frozen out of three orders, but still took care of business. This was a rare occasion that we played this game without a player making a large mistake (4th place was 8 points behind first), so the game was overall really good. We also got to use dungeon setup cards to add some variety. I don't feel a need to use them every game, but they definitely were fun.

On my mind: Rogue One on Thursday. I won't be making as big a deal as I did for Episode VII, but I'm excited to see it. Especially as I think there'll be some fun trailers with it too!

Also, Overwatch Holiday Event: All I want is for them to turn the payload into Santa's sleigh.
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13. Board Game: Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele [Average Rating:7.15 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.15 Unranked]
Board Game: Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 8  Keltis x3 (43 plays so far)

On my mind:
My parents went at home the past week-end in order to drive my daughter back to my native village because she must spend a week in a company in order to discover the "real" world.

We choose to send her to the sawmill where my father worked for about 30 years as she enjoys the nature. Also, this is a small company (10 persons) will lots of interaction/exchange with other businesses (ONF.fr, woodcutters, transporters, bankers, coopers...).

http://tonnellerie-gauthier.pagesperso-orange.fr/pages/accue...

Christmas is coming and i am eager to be with my family and have some great time eating, drinking, talking.....

I have bought a new camera (second hands) : it is a Panasonic Lumix GX1.
It comes with a fixed focal (wide) lens (f/2.5).
It is really great and think it will let me progress slowly.

I have made some photos to try it and i am satisfied with the outcome.

Westworld : we have watched the first 2 episodes and we enjoy it a lot. It is a very intriguing and refreshing TV show with great production value.
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14. Board Game: Orléans: Invasion [Average Rating:8.32 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.32 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.32 Unranked]
Board Game: Orléans: Invasion
Joseph
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Board Game: SUTAKKU
Board Game: Orléans: Invasion
Board Game: FUSE


Didn't get to go out to game night this week, but had a friend call up and wanted to meet up on Sunday and play some games at my FLGS. After being locked inside for a few days due to a freezing rain storm, it was good to get out for a bit.

 5   SUTAKKU x3 - Had a few minutes to kill before the FLGS closed, so me and the friend did this. It isn't really that great of a game, but when the improbable happens, it can be pretty fun, even to watch someone else have their run.

 9.5   Orléans: Invasion NEW! - Played the cooperative scenario. So good. This is so, so, so good. I'm really loving Orléans. I am very disappointed with TMG's ability to import games though. Village and the expansions took forever to arrive, and Orléans is in the same boat. I'm really interested in the next expansion, but there is plenty already within this game that I'd be happy with what I have for a long while. I want to play this again.

 5   FUSE - This game just hasn't clicked yet for me. I'm not sure it will. The closest is Escape, and when that first came out, I loved it, but it became overplayed very quickly, and became real boring and uninteresting. FUSE never hit the early plays of Escape "high", but it hasn't hit that same "low" either. It's just a consistent "eh".

On my mind
I didn't mention anything last week. But the last two-three weeks, I've barely been able to keep up.

I got a buyer for my house, and after knocking off $20k from the price. I'm hoping everything goes through because we've placed an offer, and after a few days of negotiating, we've agreed to terms on a new house. If all the cards fall into place, we'll be moving in at the beginning of February.

The problems in place though is that interest rates are on the rise, and from the beginning of us looking for a house, to today the rates rose, making us lock in a rate that is a bit higher than what we wanted. When I told Kim what our current payment was, she started asking if we should look at some cheaper houses. And maybe she's right. The problem is that the house we found is a *perfect* living situation for us.

Aside from that, work has thrown a lot of strange pitches towards me, keeping me real busy.

Between the house stuff, the close quarters living situation, the ice storm(s), and a flat tire to top it all off, I'm just keeping on. But I can't say I'm frustrated or even in a bad mood. Stressed, yes. But it is a major joy to be waking up every morning to the girl I love. It's not something I'm use to. It's something that I once upon a time thought wouldn't ever happen, and I've been getting to do it every day, and I get to do it every day for the rest of my life. Despite all the stress, I'm excited for my future and for the blessing of being together with my little my family every day.

New to collection:

Board Game: Railways of the World
Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink


Railways of the World - Got this one from the JVMF Auction. I've heard really, really good things about it. I've never really played any big "train game", but I'll gladly give one a try!

Pandemic: On the Brink - This was basically NIS for less than a dollar on Amazon. It was on a Flash sale, plus I had just completed a survey which gave me $10 on Amazon, and a promo with my credit card that gave me an additional 10% off any one purchase that day. Working the system!
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15. Board Game: The Golden Ages [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:929]
Board Game: The Golden Ages
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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Board Game: Power Grid: The Card Game
Board Game: The Golden Ages
Board Game: Agricola


 N/A   Power Grid: The Card Game
 8   The Golden Ages
 10   Agricola

This week I completely forgot to bring Galaxy Trucker to my board game group, so we played the only other games I already had in my bag: The Golden Ages, and Power Grid: The Card Game.

The Golden Ages -- Actually played with 3 people I regularly game with but none of whom had played before. I kept beating up on someone the entire game who I thought was doing very well. That person came in last place, so I probably still have a lot to learn about this game. Also, my civilization cards led me in yet another direction this game, so it's definitely still got the variety thing going for it. Fun game I'm glad to have, but I'll probably remove it from my bag for a few years so as not to overplay it.

Power Grid: TCG -- Nothing particularly new to say about this that I didn't already in my first write-up. The auctions were tense and the resource market is clever. I'm happy with it, although I doubt it will get as high a rating from me as the original.

Agricola -- Grace and I have been battling online for a while now. I think both of us made some terrible choices over the course of the game simply because it had been 24 hours since our last move and we forgot what we were doing. I'm sure that explains why I only had 3 rooms by the end of the game, right?

On my mind:
My house continues to be a construction zone. Our contractors have been working hard and some serious progress has been made. Our new washer & dryer are supposed to arrive on Monday, and theoretically our new laundry room will be ready by then. I think this weekend we're planning on painting the room.

Otherwise, not a whole lot going on here. Just hanging out with Rufus, mostly and knitting him his own christmas stocking.
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