GCL Mafia 308: Striking
James Keith
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Oakland
California
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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)
GCL Mafia Wiki (for specific information about this division)
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 12 - 18, 2016.
• 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:
jshufelt
fdubois
bobcatpoet
charlest
Happymrdave
tallgrant
Thesp
annowme
Dolus
• Dr. ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
captainraffi
touchstonethefool
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1. Board Game: The Big Book of Madness [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:803]
Board Game: The Big Book of Madness
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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There was some discussion that turned toward literature a few GCL lists back, and it inspired the following. What sort of stuff has stuck with you over time?

At risk of a re-tread, what book or books have ran into your brain and refused to leave?
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2. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:708]
Board Game: Dream Factory
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Has a movie made you cry? Has a movie made you think?
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3. Board Game: The Modern Orchestra Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Modern Orchestra Game
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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What sort of music speaks to you? Artists/Composers or Albums in particular?
 
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4. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:116]
Board Game: Istanbul
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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I REFUSE TO LET GAME OF THE WEEK DIE

So hey, Istanbul. You played it?
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5. Board Game: Trick-Taking: The Trick-Taking Game [Average Rating:5.19 Overall Rank:17392]
Board Game: Trick-Taking: The Trick-Taking Game
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Top 5 Trick Taking Games

5. Chronicle - While some may prefer the more free-wheeling chaos of The Dwarf King, to my mind there is no better "changing win conditions every hand" game than this clever design by Seiji Kanai. I love that different cards will be good, indifferent, or just plain awful based on which story card is flipped that hand, and I love that there is a shoot-the-moon rule for the nasty "Evil" cards. It's interesting and very functional in a way that other gimmicky trick-takers aren't *coughTrickOfTheRailscough*

4. Little Devils - This is not a game you play because you want a decent amount of control over your destiny. There's some strategy to be had, sure, but of all the trick-takers on this list, this is the most chaotic (the last trick of every hand is ALWAYS a roller-coaster ride). It's also the most I've laughed when playing a game across darn near my entire gaming career, and is a steadfast favorite in my gaming group.

3. The Bottle Imp - If you want a mean game in a more intimate setting (3-4p, to be exact), you can't get much nastier than this title. The awful game of hot-potato that goes on with the Imp forms a fiendish puzzle, and the fact that someone is going to get dumped on every hand means that trying to figure out who will end up with it forms a large part of the game. If there's one weakness it's that card-counting is an absolute must (there's even an included cheat-sheet that shows every card/suit to help you deliberate), but other than that it's a great game.

2. Wizard - This is the closest to a classic, no-frills trick-taker on this list, and what a classic it is. Ease-of-play, some tactical depth, and a great sense of drama, Wizard has it all, and then some.

1. Stick 'Em - You wouldn't expect turning a trick-taking game inside-out and upside-down would create anything worth playing, but this gem of a game proves all of that wrong. Sticheln does wonderful things with greed, and watching one player deliberate taking a trick that's positive for them while the current winner sweats over what's an incredibly negative trick for them is a thing to behold. The new edition of Sticheln reduces the player cap down to 5p (from the bugnuts 8p that the old edition, which I own, supports), and while the game takes some getting used to, it's an absolute must-try if you're a fan of Trick Taking.
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6. Board Game: Order of the Gilded Compass [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2778]
Board Game: Order of the Gilded Compass
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Order of the Gilded Compass
Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Bonus Pack 2
Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak
Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Board Game: Not Alone
Board Game: Little Devils
Board Game: Citadels
Board Game: La Granja: No Siesta
Board Game: Qwixx
Board Game: Archaeology: The New Expedition


Order of the Gilded Compass NEW!
One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Bonus Pack 2 x2 NEW!
One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak x2
One Night Ultimate Werewolf x2
Not Alone NEW!
Little Devils
Citadels (2016 edition)
La Granja: No Siesta NEW! (Solo)
Qwixx x2
Archaeology: The New Expedition

We once again played what's probably a really decent design with waaaaay too many players in Not Alone, a one-against-many WiFoM that probably works better with 4 or 5 rather than the max player count of 7. All the extra art and chrome hide a very simple game of secret simultaneous selection, with players attempting to advance their rescue marker by visiting locations and the monster player trying to catch the rest by visiting the same spaces. Really want to try this with fewer players, as it was we got whupped on by the monster really easily.

I'm a big fan of Alea Iacta Est, so I jumped at getting a copy of the revamped design in Order of the Gilded Compass. Aside from a STUNNINGLY awful art design (colors are muddy and bland compared to the original), it's the same game of dice placement you know and love, with some more variety in the building design. The up- and down-shot of the new buildings is that, while they don't change anything for the worse, they don't change anything for the better, either.

We played with the Auction House (one of the new buildings which is now part of the recommended first-time setup), and while I liked the idea of variable point value tokens for each player, the fact that there was no interaction between players aside from the usual jockying for dice placement made the design choice oddly flat. Sure, the tokens you take may be worth different values for you than for others, but the ones you don't take just get discarded. It was an oddly one-armed-bandit choice design-wise, and while the other buildings mix things up a bit more in terms of how dice are placed, they also look all kinds of limp.

So while the core of the game is unchanged, I'm not sure the new buildings really add anything aside from some mild variety. However, I haven't tried them all, so there may still be some better stuff. Recommended, with those caveats.

My buddy who owns One Night Ultimate Werewolf and the associated expansions picked up a copy of One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Bonus Pack 2 from BGG.CON and we got it to the table. I was a little worried about the power of The Thing given how much of a thud One Night Revolution made with it as a central power, but it actually added some interesting layers of bluff. The Squire also added some new intrigue as a Minion-esque werewolf team player.

I've also been experimenting with our meta by purposefully *not* using the Troublemaker/Robber powers (as they are both "may" rather than "must"). They're bold moves with a surprisingly balanced set of positives and negatives: on the one hand it reduces the chaos of what are inherently Villager team roles, which makes it easier to pinpoint werewolves, but it looks suspicious as hell when you say "I'm the Robber/Troublemaker and I *didn't* swap anyone." I'm continuously surprised by the shelf-life of this title, and am really happy it's part of our repertoire.

And finally, I got a copy of La Granja: No Siesta and took the solo rules for a spin. It's a decent resource management game at its heart, and while the solo game provides a milder challenge than most solo games I'm used to, it was a good way to learn the ropes. I'm interested in trying this with more players.
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7. Board Game: First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express! [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:386]
Board Game: First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express!
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Board Game: Tallinn
Board Game: Escape Room: The Game
Board Game: Aeon's End
Board Game: Broom Service
Board Game: La Granja: No Siesta
Board Game: A Feast for Odin
Board Game: First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express!


Several new games this week! Some of them good!

 5.5   Tallinn NEW!
 7.5   Escape Room: The Game NEW!
 7   Aeon's End NEW!
 8   First Class: Unterwegs im Orient Express NEW!

 8.5   Broom Service
 8   La Granja: No Siesta
 9.5   A Feast for Odin

Tallinn is a game from a designer whose stuff I like (Stefan Risthaus), but it's pretty much a microgame and suffers from the usual microgame lack of a raison d'etre. You have 10 cards, you play one per round, and it gives you some influence with different groups. Sometimes you trigger a chance to score points. When you do, you can give up a card and get a chance for some bonus points at the end.

Ehh? It's not really bad, but it's also terribly unremarkable. I guess I might try it again just to feel like I got some use out of it, but it's also largely pointless thus far. Meh.

Escape Room: The Game was 2/3 great and 1/3 annoying and vague. The first chunk of the scenario we played (and there are 4 in the box, FWIW) was really good and the group had a great time with it. Lots of escape room-y puzzles, lots of discussion, lots of careful examination of props. Yay!

Then the last section hit like a damp sponge and we pretty much just tried random crap for 20 minutes until we could use the last clue and not feel like we were cheating.

They were so close to having it right! Sigh. Well, there's 3 more in the box and I will try to be optimistic those won't run into the same issue.

Aeon's End was good. It wasn't quite great, but it was good. It's a KS-funded co-op deckbuiler where you take a bunch of mages in a remarkably-different-from-the-norm fantasy setting and fight against a big monster. You do the usual sometimes-do-something-bad-then-do-something-good setup and it works pretty well. I felt it was "good but not great" but the others that played really seemed to dig it. One of the players who normally dislikes co-ops (and only joined us because he disliked the other game being played even more) enjoyed it and said he'd play again. So interestingly, it's my game but I think I liked it the least of the group...?

The problem was the pacing. At first it was fine, but then things really slowed down mid-game and it felt like we were just churning and not actually making progress. Eventually I convinced the others to stop trying to kill all the small things and to focus on dealing some real damage to the big baddie and things picked up again before the end.

I'll play again to see how the other monsters are I think. I could foresee my rating going up a bit but I don't see it changing _that_ much right now.

Side note: the box is stupidly large and has all sorts of problems with the crappy insert, lame dividers, and too much clearance above the cards. The cards are also of really bad quality. After one play several looked very damaged and I didn't see anyone mistreating them. Not impressed with the printing Action Phase Games did on this one.

First Class: A Journey on the Orient Express (why does BGG not have the English title listed?) was intriguing. There's the building blocks for something really cool here, and I might have just not quite seen it all in one play. This is an action selection and tableau building game from one of the designers of Russian Railroads where you have a very limited amount of main actions overs six rounds (three per round for a total of just 18) and the ability to get some bonus actions.

You need to use these actions to build two trains up and set up a route for your trains to run on, and the combination of these things determines how many points you get over the three scoring rounds.

The game has a module system where you play using 2 of 5 included (I'm guessing there will be more?) modules to keep things fresh. We used the recommended A and B to start.

The game has a very fast pace, and you definitely feel like you don't have enough actions to do much. My wife built up a better route than I did, but I got more points from my trains than she did, and I was able to abuse the bonus actions via coins more than she could. The final scores were pretty close though.

The right way to chain things together didn't really click for me until well into the last round, and there's a lot neither of us really tried at all. Neither of us took a single contract all game, and no additional end-game scoring cards were bought by either of us.

I want to play this more for sure - this one really has some potential.

Broom Service was fun as always, but I feel like I am taking the same general approach each time I play now. Having to carefully watch the other players to gauge when to be brave/cowardly keeps the game from feeling like it's doable on autopilot, so I still enjoy it, but it has probably peaked for me. I'm curious what the mini-expansion in Broom Service the card game adds to the full game, but my expectations aren't super high.

La Granja: No Siesta is quite good. I played it twice at BGG.CON and picked it up since I enjoyed it there. While playing this time I discovered that we had been taught a couple rules a little wrong (but not majorly wrong). It didn't make a huge difference but it did make the endgame scoring bonus board a little less cutthroat.

I think this is a very nice dice game and there's a reasonable chance I'm going to sell Roll Through the Ages now that I have this.

A Feast For Odin was fun as always, but it took quite a bit longer than normal too. I definitely think AFFO is best when it keeps moving at a brisk pace. This was my 6th recorded play of this (I _feel_ like I have 7, but maybe not?), which is impressive for a game of this size and my bad habit of not replaying stuff. Definitely in contention for my game of the year. I really like it.

Will try to add some On My Mind later.
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8. Video Game: Monster Fart [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Monster Fart
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Dice Heist 2
Scrutineyes 2 NEW!
13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1
CVlizations 1 NEW!
Compatibility 1 NEW!
Dominion: Intrigue Update Pack + Dominion: Update Pack 1 NEW!
Fossil NEW!
Glass Road 1
Glüx 1 NEW!
Junk Art 1
Lords of Waterdeep 1
Menu Masters 1 NEW!
Santorini 1 NEW!
Splendor 1
Ticket to Ride 1

Review: I really like Terraforming Mars, but this review was rushed and not my best work.

---

Scrutineyes: This was a ton of fun. I like speed games like this where you have to think fast (similarly to Pictomania or Boggle). I think I want to buy Kaleidos now.

CVlizations: This shit sucks. How is this quality of game even getting made now? This is your standard get resources and convert them with no interesting twist. Plus, there's an annoying amount of take-that in it.

Compatibility: Fun party game. Made for some good "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, MATT?!" moments.

Dominion Upgrade Packs: MOAR DOMINION.

Fossil: Not a bad game premise, but the scoring is whack, completing ruining the game.

Glüx: I knew nothing about this, but it was a really tense, unique abstract. Would definitely play again.

Menu Masters: Meh, mediocre at best.

Santorini: We played the team variant, which I realize the rulebook says is not preferred. However, it gave me a flavor for the game. The aesthetics are great and we had a fun time with the game. I almost backed this on Kickstarter as Matt enjoys abstracts. Not sure this would get played much though and it's overall not my kind of game. I'd play again though.

---

On My Mind:

This is my FML-grading week.
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9. Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:93]
Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia
Board Game: Talisman (Revised 4th Edition)
Board Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past


Pandemic Iberia x2 NEW!
Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) NEW!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past

Pandemic: Iberia
Played 3 rounds of this. One with the base rules, one with the new Moving Cubes rules, and one with the Named Diseases rules. All in all, very good. Katie and I are pretty good at regular Pandemic and this was kicking our ass. All 3 games on Standard were won on either the very last turn or 2nd to last turn, and involved a little luck. Some of the changes are minor, others more significant. The change you feel the most is how hard it is to move around. It's very flexible and easy to move from one edge to the other (port cities) but getting inland is a pain as there is no direct transport between hospitals and no flying. You can build railroads but it's a tough choice as you get behind in actions. If you manage to build a bunch then you can zoom all over easily but you had to have invested. Also you have to cure a disease in the 1 hospital that matches its color, and you can't pull more cubes off when a disease is cured. No eradicating either.

The moving cubes rules are pretty fun. The cubes represent patients and once you build a hospital the patients begin moving towards the hospital of their color for treatment. You can use it strategically, to break up cities that have 3x cubes on them, but if you ignore it too long then they pile up and outbreak on the hospital. Also those jerks can use trains. The Named Diseases is interesting, we played with Blue = Cholera which makes outbreaks more deadly, but it never triggered because we focused on it so hard. Of course, that meant we let the other colors run rampant. All in all, I can't see us playing regular Pandemic for a while as we exhaust this one. It's still Pandemic, so if you don't like regular this isn't going to make you a fan but if you like Pandemic even a little, this is a nice twist.

Talisman
Is this a game? Maybe. As far as decisions go, it has slightly more than Candyland. It's roll and move. And draw and resolve. And roll to resolve. There's no balance to it, as the draw deck is massive and has some incredibly beneficial/detrimental cards with no mitigation. Also, the way you advance your character is by killing bad guys. So if I draw a Str 7 bad guy and manage to win the battle with some good rolls, I make every subsequent battle stronger immediately. However if you draw a Str 2 bad guy, even if you win (and you might not) you don't get stronger yet. So you're immediately behind.

That being said, it was a lot of fun. I think primarily due to the way the Dads play it. There is absolutely zero tolerance for not taking your turn promptly and thinking too hard, and you're encouraged to start going while the person before you is wrapping things up. We tell the story of our actions in grand narrative prose and rules are enforced lightly. They just say eh...talismantalismantalisman and move on. It's why my Swashbuckler had 4 swords and a mule, which isn't as game breaking as it might sound.

To put in perspective how ridiculous some of the cards are, to ten dthe game you have to move through a Portal. Roll 2d6 and you have to roll lower than your unmodified strength. If you roll higher, your strength goes down by 1. Next space is roll 3d6 trying to roll lower than your strength. Roll higher? You're going to move back spaces...possibly right back out that portal or even to the beginning to try again. Chris drew a card from the encounter deck that let him drop a die from those rolls, making it significantly easier. Again..blind luck. There isn't a "hard encounter" deck he was risking, or a dangerous bad guy he had to fight. He just drew the Gnome Follower and we didn't.

It was fun, and honestly it was good for me. I've been getting hung up and super competitive lately...nice to play a game that forced me to let go.

TMNT Shadows of the Past
They loved the dice mechanics and it was a close match between the turtles and Old Hob. Tactically they did dumb stuff, but I also took it easy and pushed my luck harder than I normally would have so it worked out. Fun, and we'd all play again. I don't love this as much as Charlie but it's a great one for the year.

On my Mind
Pokemon! Played Sun a bit more this weekend. I've beat the main story line and done about 80% of the postgame. Working right now to fill out my Pokedex which is a goal I always had as a kid and could never pull of. This is aided immensely by the online trade system. You're no longer dependent on a friend at school promising to catch a pokemon and trade with you, only to have them forget and lose interest. Fucking Davey. I managed to have some blind luck and find one of the pokemon with a 1% spawn rate during my normal playthrough. That thing is gold on the trade system. Currently at about 70% overall, with one of the Island's at 100%. This is a silly thing for a 30 year old to consider an accomplishment but...here we are.

Working my way through the review pile. Iberia is great, Dunwich expansion for AH:LCG is excellent, and turtles is a lot of fun. Hoping to play New Angeles tomorrow. The holidays are going to jam me up a bit so hopefully I can squeeze stuff in.

We leave for VA on Thursday morning. Raffi is going to meet his Great Grandma on Katie's side for the first time which is exciting. Her brother also managed to get leave from his sub so he'll be in town too which is awesome. Really looking forward to it. Unfortunately on my family's side, it's going to be a rough holiday. My parents have been having some problems for a while. We didn't find out about it until a few months ago, but apparently it's been years and now I think they're going to get a divorce. Dad moved out last week and they were going to do the holidays together but that isn't going to happen. I really wish I could be down there with my siblings and with them for support, but I'm also selfishly glad to be away from it. Speaking of 30 year old...this isn't something I ever expected to be dealing with, especially at this age. Alternating between an urge to fly down there and throwing my hands in the air in rage and focusing on my family.

Ding & Dent is doing well right now, this episode is doing great and showing that our recent numbers aren't outliers. Apparently we're big in Russia? Zdorovo!
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10. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:102] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Board Game: Imperial


 9   Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
 9   Imperial

Fun week that can be interpreted as Star-Warsy in ways that were not intended! I'm going to get a bit wordy about one of the titles as we're thinking about it- would appreciate input from anyone who's played this game and has opinions.

X-wing: Pretty straightforward battle. I'm not sure I like playing this with more than 2, as the teamwork (or lack thereof) can really mess with this game. We got stomped because the Imperial players generally worked together better than we did, and my teammate (who ran 2 of the 3 rebel ships) went off on his own and left my Y-wing to fight Vader and 2 TIEs.

Imperial: This was an interesting game. I managed to plan and track the Investor card well from game start, and got out in front of everyone else. I managed to diversify, and had the one flag I was holding pulled away from me right as the country turned less profitable. I invested where I saw the good things brewing, and got control of Russia as it became top country. The other 5 players scores were all pretty close, and all well behind me. Pretty sure I won because we had not played Imperial in 18 months, and I recalled the rules and strategy better than everyone else.

What I found fascinating is the amount of strategy and design discussion during the game. During the back half of the game and postgame, we discussed the following topics:

1. Generally, we all liked the game better without the investor card. It leads to fewer flag moves, but gives more freedom in buying bonds and planning.
2. A lot of our group feels that the investor card's presence is a sign that the game's design had a flaw that the designer never was able to solve. The investor card is listed as a rule for play, and then shown with an optional variant without using it. The game is substantially different depending on which one you choose, and there's not really a consensus in the online world for which was is better. I'm not sure I agree with this, particularly in light of the fact that the 5 of us agreed very early into the game that it was better without the investor card.
3. The game has a very interesting self-balancing nature. The nations that succeed do so at the expense of others. In my unscientific poll of 8 plays, we've seen everyone except France be the big dog crushing the war and scoring major points. Sometimes the Germans steamroll Russia, sometimes the other way, and sometimes both flounder so someone else can roll. There's definitely some balancing that needs to occur among the players, and we definitely put corrections in place after Italy steamrolled the first two games we played. Good gameplay almost always involves getting invested in the right countries at the right time, and not making poor choices late in the game when more money is floating around.
4. We also saw that other players make a pretty big splash. I got cash at a critical juncture when England paid out its bonds. One other player had the flag, and only the two of us benefited, but it let me make a big move as the investor card came by. He was in a similar critical situation later, waiting for France to pay out so he could invest. But another played held the French flag and avoided paying out because he would not be investing soon and skipped the payout. When he finally did get money the great investment option was gone. There's a lot outside your own hands during the game.

I'd like to play this again soon. I'd also like it with fewer players- all my tries have been with 5 or 6, and while we talk often about playing it with 4 other things tend to hit the table at that count.

On my mind
Rogue One hit this week, and I liked it pretty well. On the non-spoiler side, it's definitely a war movie. There are some things you'd see in a standard Star Wars movie that you won't see here. I don't think it is too spoilery, but here it is in tags just in case. No major plot points or things that you can't see in the trailer:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1. No Main Title card or crawl at the beginning
2. Minimal (if any) love story.
3. Only Jedi present is Vader, and he's not a lead character as in other films. Also no lightsaber duel.
4. Only minor characters present from other films, without ties to the main cast of the series.


And now for the big spoiler thoughts:

Spoiler (click to reveal)

5. Holy cow that was dark. I gotta give big props to Disney- it was gutsy to kill off all the heroes at the end. It was definitely the right call for the story, but I spent the entire film wondering if they'd miraculously pull one or two of them off Scarif before it was destroyed.
6. The film was choppy in the first half hour, good in the middle half hour, and near perfect once they head out to get the Death Star plans. The action at the end is one of the better battles, particularly considering there is no lightsaber duel to add into it.
7. Vader is an absolute monster in his last scene. Wonderful! I didn't really mind the pun he threw out either, but I've seen complaints it was out of character for him. I disagree.
8. There was some spotty CGI. The only thing that really bothered me was Tarkin- he was awful the first time we saw him, and it got better as the film went on. A few of the folks with me complained about Leia as well, but I didn't think it was poorly done.
9. I liked the fan service, including the callback I spotted to Episode 1 (its on Jeddha). It was a really special treat to see Red One and Gold One at the battle. The Red Five thing was a bit too obvious for me, though other people seem to love it.
10. The story really tied into ANH perfectly. I was waiting to see where and how the plans would get to Tantive IV, and I was blown away by that entire sequence. My eyes welled up for the last 5 seconds of the film when we saw Leia.


I have a hard time ranking it versus the other SW films. On the one hand, it doesn't always feel like a Star Wars movie because of the missing elements. But it is so well put together it stands pretty well as a science fiction/action/war movie. For the film in and of itself, I think I place ESB and ANH as better, then this film, then the others. There are things that I think make ROTS, ROTJ and AOTC better Star Wars movies based on the items listed in my first spoiler block.

I saw one other interesting discussion on Facebook that I've been pondering. A friend who is in a big fan family (and is also very socially conservative) saw the movie and really disliked it. I think her problem stems from the fact that it is not kid friendly, and is extremely dark as a movie. She commented that the demographic aimed at in the film is the adult males in their 30s-40s, which included her husband (and he loved the film). Her daughters love Star Wars, and they've all been excited that there are strong female heroines in the recent movies, but she did not think they could handle several things in Rogue One due to their young age, both due to the intensity of the action and some of the darker themes. She does have a point- my 8 year old nephew very much wants to see the film, and afterward I told my brother-in-law that he'd have to probably screen it beforehand to make that call. It's a bit sad that it is marketed toward the kids so strongly- this really pushes the boundaries a bit, and deserves to be rated PG-13.

AD&D: We got an old school module from first edition AD&D on the table, with my old group from high school (Ghost Tower of Inverness for those following along at home). It's interesting to review the design, especially as I've been reading more Pathfinder items. I see things in the older modules I love, and also some vestigial items that got cut away from later releases for good reasons.

I really enjoyed that this was a tournament module, and the first half hour we were handed pre-generated characters without equipment. We had a budget and had to purchase what we felt was best to equip the party. Led to some really fun decision making and discussion. I felt we'd knock that out in ten minutes, but we used the whole time allotted for it up.

Other stuff:
Trying to organize something bigger the day after Christmas. Not sure what yet, but should be interesting.
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11. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:91] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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Board Game: Galaxy Trucker
Board Game: Best Treehouse Ever
Board Game: Agricola
Board Game: Splendor
Board Game: Dominion


 8   Galaxy Trucker
 N/A   Best Treehouse Ever
 10   Agricola x2
 7   Splendor
 5   Dominion

Dominion -- Haven't played in several years now. Marion and I had dinner at a friend's house on Saturday and we played afterward. I didn't buy enough chapels, so when my chapel did show up I only managed to trash like 3 useful cards in the whole game. Pretty lame. Lost badly. Marion did afterward tell me that she forgot how much she actually like Dominion, so there is that. Maybe it'll hit our table more often? Probably not.

Splendor -- I beat someone 2-15! Ha! What loser does that badly in this game ever? Pffffft. More accurately, I was before him in turn order and he was going for the same strategy as me. While he realized early in the game that I was doing that, he did nothing to change his strategy and lost miserably.

Galaxy Trucker -- for whatever reason, I use this as a gateway game a lot. I always have. Anyway, my cousin's husband's brother just moved to the area so I invited him to game night. While we were all flying the advanced ships we gave him the basic ones and an Even Stevens card to help balance things a bit. He seemed to have a lot of fun with it, and managed not to die terribly. I ended up winning by 1 point in the end. My third round we built the Totally Not A Death Star ships, and I decided to just not arm my ship at all in favor of cargo. Unfortunately, planets were early and pirates were late, so I arrived mostly intact with with little reward. I barely broke even on that flight, but had a substantial lead going into the round to eke out the win.

On My Mind:
Our home renovations are almost done! Today or tomorrow should be the last day that they're here, finishing the trim and whatnot. I'll probably post pictures. Since Marion's family is coming in to town for Christmas I am very glad to have a few days where we can clean up the dust/debris before they arrive. Neither Marion nor I enjoy living in a messy house, so it'll be a huge relief when we can vacuum and wipe down everything that's currently filthy with dust.

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12. Board Game: Dungeon Dice [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:8535]
Board Game: Dungeon Dice
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set
Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game
Board Game: Agricola
Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy
Board Game: Power Grid
Board Game: Lunarchitects
Board Game: Dungeon Dice
Board Game: Tramways
 
Board Game: Secret Hitler
Board Game: Codenames


 8   Summoner Wars x2
 10   Ascension: Deckbuilding Game x8
 10   Agricola
 9   Roll for the Galaxy
 9   Power Grid
 N/A   Lunarchitects
 7   Dungeon Dice
 N/A   Tramways NEW!
 N/A   The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game
 7   Secret Hitler x2
 8   Codenames x5

EDIT: formatting, get rid of pictures, add On My Mind.

Well, my most recent class ended with flying colors of mediocrity, SO IT WAS TIME TO PLAY MORE GAMES.

- Summoner Wars with Grace, wherein I manage to get five dice rolled against my summoner and am promptly obliterated by Guild Dwarves and their totally broken (in a great way) hit-everything-in-a-two-space-radius hammer champion + double Heroic Feat. Also, Vanguard is hilarious tanky and just won't die, which amuses me greatly. I suck at playing Filth and Fallen Kingdom, as many weeks of repeated failures prove.

- Ascension with Grace, wherein we both defeat each other by a SINGLE POINT multiple times. There was also that one time when I defeated Adayu, popped him into my hand due to the current Enlightened event, and spammed my whole deck unexpectedly while raking in free 6-8 cost Mechana Constructs. Boo-yeah.

- Agricola was terrible this week. It was my last asynchronous game with stranger danger, so I'm glad that is behind me (seriously, playing online games with strangers is just... not fun). I scored twenty points fewer than the leader as both of my opponents had bonus points on wood and just spammed it from me all game. I could barely build a stable. That was a very action-inefficient game!

- Dungeon Dice was a hoot, as always. My sister, Becky, came over on Saturday night and we opened with the ever-hilarious 1977 Parker Brothers dice-in-a-plastic-dungeon-thingy game, which I got as a sweetener in a Math Trade for which I traded a rando deck of playing cards with Don Quixote on them (one my of favorite among the many highly-slanted trades I've had on BGG...). Roll dice, try to literally dig your way out of prison with a spoon, and indulge schadenfreude as you sic the guards on your blood relatives! I think I have a big weakness for press-your-luck games...

- Power Grid came after the minor dice fest. After a lot of really grueling auctions (in which Becky and I discovered that this game brings out the feral rage in Anastasia like no other board game), we had a very slow mid-game since the power plants kept coming out as too high for auto-scrap due to city link count, but too low to be of any worth, so we had a lot of turtling rounds wherein we all did not hold auctions to mill the deck to step three. However, step three was rough for me because I could only power fourteen cities, while Becky could power sixteen. She pinged seventeen cities and auto-won at the end of the round. I literally lay awake in my bed that night realizing that I could have purchased another three-coal plant then starved the market of six coal to block her from being able to fire all of her power plants and buy out another round to expand. Alas, she won and we lost.

- Lunarchitects wrapped up the evening, which Becky loved (first time playing) and I continue to enjoy greatly. I need to rate this game soon, as I think it could oust some fodder in my top twenty-five list. It's addictive in its combined speed and depth. Really. I could easily play multiple sessions in a row, and the setup really encourages east resetting. I won because I scored majority in red tiles, crystals, and WHOOOOOOOOSH WEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PURGGGGGHHHHHHH rockets every performance review (my table-side rocket sound effects added). I highly, highly, highly recommend this game to anyone who likes engine building and combos. It's pretty hard not to love.

"Solitaire Sunday" was excellent this week, with back-to-back plays of Roll for the Galaxy and my newly-arrived Tramways from Alban Viard.

- Roll for the Galaxy continues to be deeply enjoyable. I had a very strong start with The Last of the Gnaarsh and Damaged Alien Factory as my starting faction tile and homeworld, due to getting a Genes and Alien die right off the bat. The bot quickly developed and settled several times, cutting the game length in (apparent) half in no time, which really tightened the vice for me. Thankfully, I explored a few more Genes and Alien worlds, as well as putting two powerful developments in play which allowed for kicking back two settle dice to my cup after a successful settle--huge tempo swing!--and getting a one-die discount on all developments. What was originally looking like my wimpy tableau withering while the bot trounced me turned around 100%. The bot kept rolling produce, ship, and explore, which netted it victory points, but no progress in its tableau. In that precious time, I was able to pump up my tableau quite a bit, and actually hit twelve tiles first (a rarity in this variant). At the end, I won with my highest score ever (solitaire or multi-player) at sixty points!

- Tramways traces its heritage back to Age of Steam and its family of games, as Alban Viard is, himself, a big designer of Age of Steam maps and is well-versed with the warp and woof of the game system. In his designer diary, he noted that it always struck him as unthematic to move cubes to a city "just because" and score them. So the germ of Tramways is very much a desire to tell a worthy story about what is actually happening on the board. Instead of blue cube A to blue city B, Tramways has you delivering citizens of the city to their destinations, whether to industrial or commercial jobs, leisure locations, or home. In this way, the building of a light rail network around town paints a picture of meeting the needs of everyday people, not vague railroad profit based on ambiguous context.

The game is a mixture of hand management and route building as I said above. While an auction-heavy game, the solitaire variant augments the auction to tailor to a single player with a draw deck and four possible card slots. You draw one card and if you take it, it's free, but you gain one stress. You can opt to skip the card, keeping it on the auction board but resetting the auction to step one. As a result, you pay a dollar for every card still on the auction board after reset. If you draw another card, you may grab that one for free, but gain one stress, or take a previously-revealed card for free but NO stress. Stress is the debt mechanic of the game, insofar as stress equates to negative points at the end of the game. Stress comes from the auction as well as if you double-down on actions during the action rounds.

Actions are played via the cards you draw at the beginning of the game, win from auctions, acquire from building new locations, and gain through commercial developments. The deck-building is slow, but rewarding. This is not Dominion with light rail, it's more hand management than anything else. Cards will have none, one, or multiple possible actions, such as "build a rail," "build two rails," "earn two dollars," "use a commercial/industrial/leisure/residential destination." The action phase consists of two rounds: round one has you perform one action from you cards in player order, and round two has you either perform two actions, perform one action and take two dollars, or perform no actions and take two dollars. However, anytime you can "take an action" you can opt to employ more than one symbol on your action cards to take even more actions-per-card than are normally allowed, at the cost of additional stress. Risk v reward... is what I'm going to take stress for worth it? We'll see.

Now, again, I'm mostly shaky on the game rules at this point, and this is the first time I've played. I ended up building the two available industrial buildings on my parcels and connected a network from a large residential area through many destinations, finally linking a leisure center to the other end of the rail. I managed to upgrade my longest link, which brought in some extra profit as I whizzed passengers across the board. In the end, however, I found that my lack of destination cards made for a series of weaker-than-they-could-have-been turns, and I ended up spending all of my cash at the leisure center (forty-five bucks exactly) for nine additional points, ending the game in final scoring with fifty points earned, twenty-one points lost due to stress, for a total of twenty-nine points. According to the rulebook, this is a "sad" score. Ha. It was quite fun, though. I hope to play again soon.

- Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game made an appearance after Anastasia, Ted, and I went to our friends' weekly college night which we used to host, and we played for several hours. I humored the kids with this ever-freaking-adorable "set collection" game (complete with "Squirrel Squeezer"). After two Squirrel Storms and Sad Squirrel, I was hurting for acorns. After some good spins on the spinner, I rallied to four out of five acorns, by my friend's three-year-old came back from last place to score all five acorns and take the win. I'd like to point out that I am one of less than ten proud owners of the official microbadge...

- Codenames and Secret Hitler comprised the one-two punch of the evening. Both games had an interesting dynamic since the familiar group of players was spiked with a few new holiday hangers-on, so the established groupthink was turned on its head. We did guys versus girls for Codenames, and guys lost 3-2. Our last game was killer, as the final clue for "Platypus" and "Dish" was "Food, 2." "Dish" seemed straightforward enough, but the previous clues were "Military" and "Chinese," both of which had (apparently) a single unresolved answer, which led us to all pick "Princess," rather than "Platypus." Princess was the assassin word. The Spymaster was pissed, and said, "at least you can EAT a platypus, not a PRINCESS." We were all baffled. That game ended poorly, but it was hilarious and we had a great time.

Secret Hitler was delicious. I have not played in months, but it was so good. Still so much better than Avalon et al. I helped shepherd us to a liberal victory in the first session as the start player, Sam, investigated Hitler on round one, and we promptly flushed out the fascists. Many stacked fascist policies came out, but that simply allowed us to shoot and kill Hitler, immediately ending the first game as a win. The second game I was dealt Hitler, and my goodness, it was one of the best, most heated, most manipulative games of Secret Hitler I'd ever played. We got to the end of the game with 5/6 fascist policies and 4/5 liberal policies, so it was an absolute tipping point. Early on, I was president and passed my chancellor a liberal and fascist policy each, and both times the liberal policy was chosen. Through cunning obfuscation, the table decreed that both of my former chancellors were fascists, and they were both killed. In the final voting round, fascists had a majority and drew two liberal and a fascist policy... and we won! Everyone was dumbfounded that I was Hitler. One of my fascists loyally fell on their sword and played Percival to my Merlin, and it was beautiful. I so wanted to be elected chancellor after the mid-point, as that is, I think, the most gratifying way to win. That said, so much paranoia laced the table BUT THEY STILL THOUGHT I WAS A CONSUMMATE LIBERAL. Ah, perfection.

On My Mind:
I'm building this for Anastasia for Christmas, so this week features plenty of cold-weather work in the secret corners of my garage. Theodore, Anastasia, and I all just got over our week-long illness. I took off of work for four days on account of "severe bronchitis," which was sadly shared among all family members in our household (exception: fluffy cat). I rallied on Saturday and was able to clean up the house and get our affairs in order following the closure of my recent Ethics course for seminary.

New, unplayed games to play this week:

* A Feast for Odin (very likely)
* Arkham Horror: TCG (very likely)
* At the Gates of Loyang (very likely)
* Android: Netrunner (mostly likely)
* Panamax (not likely)
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13. Board Game: New Angeles [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1029]
Board Game: New Angeles
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Here, Fishy, Fishy! x3 (new!)
DOOM: The Board Game x2
New Angeles x1 (new!)
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game x1 (new ships!)

Reviews
DOOM is pretty awesome.


New Angeles
Oh man this game was great. Four player, skipped the intro setup and dove right in, took us four hours. As my buddy Aaron stated the next day, It was one of his top 10 gaming experiences of all time. Our group was perfect with tons of wheeling and dealing.

This game combines a dash of Homeland/BSG, a little bit of Dead of Winter, little bit of Cosmic Encounter, and some Archipelago. But it's mostly a new approach with fantastic ideas.

I was the Federalist (traitor) and was NBN. I was worried early and mid game I wouldn't have a chance to push Threat to 25 and force a solo win for myself, but managed it on the very final Demand phase with the event draw. I outed myself very late but was nearly called out early game. I recovered some goodwill though.

The whole setup of that you only have to do better than your Rival at the table (randomly dealt) is fascinating. Really eager to play this one again and it will be in my top 10 if it keeps rolling.

Here, Fishy, Fishy!
I bought this for Lila and it was part of a pre-order with the Scythe expansion. I was going to add it to her Christmas presents but after what she went through this week (see below), I just broke it out Saturday and she had a blast. She's too old for it unfortunately (already knows her colors and the dexterity element is too easy) but we had a great time and she wanted to keep playing it. Her next Haba game I'll make sure is above her age group instead of behind it (this is 2+ and I grabbed it when she was 2.5 but the pre-order took longer than I'd thought).

Doom
This has done nothing but grow on me. It still doesn't edge out Conan or TMNT but I really dig it.

X-Wing
Got in a game with the U-Wing and TIE Striker. Fun ships but they don't really add a whole lot to mechanical space. Beyond the "ROGUE ONE, AWESOME!" I don't think I'd pick them up.

On My Mind
Last week was pretty terrible. Lila and my mother in law got into a pretty bad car accident Thursday afternoon. Had to rush to the children's hospital out of work not really knowing what condition Lila was in.

When we got there they sent us to her room but she wasn't there. A couple minutes later she came back from the bathroom with the nurse (good to see she was able to walk on her own), and she had a large gash on her scalp that was the cause of a long line of blood down the side of her face/ear. She also had a large cut extending from the corner of her lip and was wearing a neck brace (precautionary). Her shirt had quite a bit of blood on it and Emilee and I of course couldn't really hold the tears back. I kept it mostly together as I didn't want to scare Lila.

We ended up being in the ER for 7ish hours as they didn't want to give her any drugs until they were sure she was acting mostly herself and didn't have any brain damage. They eventually stitched her scalp and her lip and we were able to go home that night.

She was extremely tough. The responders said as much, and the nurses/doctor in the ER were surprised how well she did with the stitches. She actually fell asleep half-way through stitching.

We're home now and everything is ok. I took off this week to watch her and we're heading to her pediatrician today so she can check on her and make sure her cuts are healing well and not looking infected. She was pretty much herself the next day (attacked me when I got home and said, "My boo-boos don't hurt daddy!") and is acting completely ok now. She just looks a little gruesome and banged up.

My mother in law was tough as well. She refused treatment at the scene because they were going to take her to a different hospital, so she didn't end up going until later that day, a few hours after the accident. She had a broken wrist, cracked ribs, minor internal bleeding around her liver, and bruises on her heart. They just released her yesterday and we went and visited last night. She looks a little rough but is happy to be home.

All in all, everything could have been much worse and this serves as a reminder for the holiday season to be thankful for everything we have.

Since she was doing so well we didn't cancel our plans to see Rogue One Saturday night (my mom watched her). I'm talking about it a little in Grant's post but I loved it overall.
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14. Board Game: Jim'll Fix It [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Jim'll Fix It
Joseph
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Board Game: Onirim (Second Edition)


 8   Onirim (second edition)

Onirim is the only game I played this week. I also played a little bit of the Ascension app and I tried the new Colt Express app.

I'm not a big fan of Ascension still. I'm thinking it may go bye-bye off the tablet.

The Colt Express app is okay, but the game seemed to really lose a lot of appeal without having other people there to laugh at/with.

On My Mind: I only got about an hour of sleep last night, because I feel like I'm summiting my stress levels.

I love living with Kim. I adore her. I love her mom. I love having the dogs around. But I'm just not really fitting in with everything yet. I don't do well living in box land. The walls of boxes and stuff in the house is a bit hard with me, because I feel like we're hoarding. (Albeit, organized and packaged hoarding). The house layout is funky. I'm trying though. But I just can't wait until we move into our new house.

Speaking of which, my house was inspected, and we had the house we have an offer on inspected. I'm suppose to be getting the repair addendum today, which is probably the big reason why I stayed up. My entire life and its direction hinges upon the successful transaction of that house. My agent said the buyer still loves the house, but the inspector couldn't find access into the crawlspace. Despite me telling my agent several times how to gain access to it. And the foundation is the buyer's biggest concern. (Which, I lifted the house and replaced all of the posts and doubled the piers on one side of the house this summer). Structurally, it is the best and most sturdy it has ever been.

But I do still have concern. October, November and December is on track for being the wettest months on record for their respective months. The ground is likely to be wet. I don't have a vapor barrier installed. If they send the inspector back out, and they get a look under the house, I wouldn't be too surprised if they see some water. (I would be surprised if it was still standing there in a couple months though). Plus, a lot of the ground was recently disturbed, which could cause accelerated settling of the new piers. It may be nothing.

I just want it all to work out.

We have a few things we are going to mention to get repaired for the house we have an offer on, but overall the house is in very good shape and I feel prepared to really keep the house in top condition if everything shakes out.

On top of it all, we've been fighting Freezing Rain and poor road conditions here for the last week. It's suppose to all be cleared up tonight though. It caused me to cancel seeing Star Wars on Thursday evening, but I was able to catch it yesterday afternoon. It's very good. I like it a hair more than Return of the Jedi, but I prefer to take the other OT films and The Force Awakens over it.

I like that they did things to intentionally distance themselves from the episodic Star Wars films. But it did lack some of the things that really set the Star Wars atmosphere.

Added to Collection

 


Adrenaline

Despite the "average, good but not great" review from Charlie, this game seems right down my ally. When it was first announced, I really didn't have interest in it, but after seeing it and reading about it, I think it's right down my ally. I shouldn't ever doubt CGE's ability to make games that resonate with me.

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15. Board Game: Tak [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:786]
Board Game: Tak
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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6x Tak
2x Titan
1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight
Cave Troll
Deep Sea Adventure
Nippon

Tak
After bible study, the pastor and I played several games of Tak. It was a bit of a blend between Tavern Tak and Courtly Tak. 5x5 board with the board imagined, we did not call out Tak, but we allowed takebacks for mistakes or bad moves, so that we could learn from our mistakes and see a good full game play out. I took various pictures throughout that I'll try to post later, but with travel incoming, I won't count on it.

Some interesting positions that were achieved:
- A full stack of 5 of my pieces with one of his in the middle. Stack was in a corner with no walls or capstones along either direction. Since he couldn't take over the stack, and could only block one of the two sides, it was a guaranteed win.
- In one game, I had a lot of board control, but was fighting imminent road win from black. Ultimately, I had two moves to stop a road. To move on top of a stack, or to build a wall. I had two pieces left, so I opted to build a wall. Regardless of his next move, my next move would be laying a flat piece and gaining the flat win by one point. He didn't have any possible move to gain a two piece advantage for a tie or outright flat win.
As a way to explore this game further, we backed up and I did the other move instead. We then played it out to see what I could have done at that point, because then I was losing the flat count, so I couldn't play my last piece without losing the game, and had to resort to moving stacks around. I can't remember if we eventually found a winning move for me, or if I was just stalling until my luck ran out.

Tak Pictures - I am white:
From gallery of Dolus

Our first game.

From gallery of Dolus

Look at the size of that stack! I literally had to keep a finger on it to keep it from falling down. I got tired of trying to put it back together.

From gallery of Dolus

Later in that same game, look between the two pictures, you'll see this is the one where I got a stack of 6 pieces, 5 of mine and 1 of his tucked away in the corner with a win in two different directions.

From gallery of Dolus

Here's the flat win. I had just placed that wall in the back row and had one piece left in my reserve.

From gallery of Dolus


From gallery of Dolus


Titan
From gallery of Dolus

First game was in the morning, 2-player, to teach it to my friend. I won pretty handily and had many stacks on the board, but he got a good feel for how to play the game.

That evening was our big 4-player game. My initial friend and one of the other players had only played once before at that point. The fourth player wore his Behemoth shirt, as he always does for Titan day.

This was a very painful game, so many turns of no recruits! And many of us were complaining about that. Behemoth player clearly knew what he was doing as he had few of those turns and had many stacks on the board.

An interesting fact on the game, we had so many Cyclops and Gorgons die, we almost depleted both stacks. Not a single Behemoth had been recruited, and the probability of one being recruited had become slim to none with how much Cyclops death there was.

Finally, I started getting aggressive and getting into a lot of fights. Eventually, I got into a fight against one of the newer players' Titan stack with my Titan stack. I'll add I don't have any angels at this point. I had a clear advantage and expected to win, but it was going to be close. I also screwed up horribly because I always forget that Titan's are immune to rangestrike, so I went from good striking position to horrible position which ended up costing me everything but my Titan and a Gorgon. I did get an angel out of the battle, though. Oh, and I was fighting in a Swamp, of all places. That left my Titan a 9-4 with an Angel and Gorgon to protect it.

The experienced player immediately attacked me on his next turn, a full 7-stack. Mostly Cyclops, but a Gorgon and 2 Warlocks as well. He positioned his Cyclops in a wall that, along with the Swamp terrain, meant I couldn't reach his Titan. I could only reach one Warlock which would've been terrible position for myself, and otherwise I was in terrible position to be attacked by his warlocks. I took advantage though and traveled to the far side, out of range of one warlock, and given the terrain and lack of flying, he couldn't maneuver his warlock within range. I killed a number of his smaller units as I worked my way to his Titan, and tried to position myself to move my Titan at the start of my turn (e.g. kill a Cyclops in the counter-strike on his turn). He never opted to bring his Angel in, which gave me the edge I needed. I was down to just my Titan against his 6-4 Titan and all his other monsters, so I moved my Titan in and struck. He'd already taken 2 damage and I got... 4 hits! My Titan had taken 3 or 4 damage, and his counterstrike was close, but not enough to kill me. So I took out another player, the strongest one on the board. The fourth player conceded at this point, but I think continuing would've been interesting.

I estimated I would've ended up with a 12-4 or 13-4 Titan and an angel at this point, a terrible stack, but a very strong Titan. I would've been desperate to make it to towers to recruit Warlocks, or to teleport to weak stacks to kill them for points and hopefully get more angels. I had some moderately good stacks elsewhere, well, at least one or two moderately good stacks. I only had one stack that wasn't following the slime recruitment path (2 ogres and 2 trolls was the stack, so it was pathetic), and with the nearly depleted Cyclops and Gorgon stacks, there was very little room for growth for me. But after 5 hours of Titan, and me having such a powerful Titan, the last player was all too happy to concede.

1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight
From gallery of Dolus

A full 4-player game on the second edition. Also, my last owned but unplayed 18xx. I still need to play 1835 though, as I used to own it.

The game had a really slow start. I had no concept of how good the privates were, so I ended up not getting any. Many were won with bids of $20-25 (you pay full price on top of your bid). Only the first two companies floated the first round. I had 3 shares of each. Unfortunately, they weren't good investments.

Train buying was timid. That's because in the yellow phase, it's very difficult to run multiple 2-trains. C&N can't and IOW has to lay an early station marker to be able to run multiple trains. So the president's didn't see any reason to buy a second 2-Train. In the second stock round, I didn't invest in the next row of companies because their prospects didn't look good and I thought C&N and IOW would start paying money. They didn't, or not much. Third stock round, somebody sold a C&N, so I bought it and became president. I bought the last 2 2-Trains, leaving C&N with 3 2-Trains and no money, but only able to run one 2-Train. I had priority deal so I sold all of my C&N and all but one IOW to start up FYN at the highest par. C&N was crippled and struggled, and eventually everybody else dumped C&N as well when it's trains rusted and it went insolvent. It was the only company to go bankrupt, just when it made enough money to otherwise buy a 4 Train.

I re-parred C&N as high as I could re-par it to take advantage of the assets they gained in insolvency. I mistakenly bought 2 5-Trains, because they could afford it and I'm used to 5s being permanent, but no, 6's are. I really should've waited to buy a 6-train as the second train. Oh well. The game really started rolling at this point. In the penultimate stock round, the last 3 companies were not yet floated. There was also a 7-Train available for offer. The player before me started one of the last two companies at the highest par (62), so I started the one on the layer above it since it could be parred at 68. That meant I could get the 7-Train straight up, but he had to go insolvent to get the 8-Train in the second OR. He decided to start up the last company as well, to go insolvent and buy a 9-Train in the third OR.

Overall, this was an awesome game that I'm glad to have and have played. I look forward to playing it more at any player count from 2, 3, or 4. I took a close second in our game. $5437 to $5764

Cave Troll
From gallery of Dolus

Another owned but unplayed game. It was okay-ish, but mostly eh. The first scoring round I got no points, cause I was building up for something. - My first card in hand was score a room. I had a guy in a 4 or 5-coint room, and kept getting stuff to make it worth more. I put a treasure chest in there, and my dwarf, then I used a wraith to chase out an opponent. I then played the scoring card, which also triggered a scoring, so I soared from 0 points to 38 or something ridiculous like that. I was really pushing going through my deck to end the game early, so I wasn't moving around as much as others. I played my artifact to teleport 3 adventurers to a room with 2 of my opponent's units in a 5-coin room. He set himself up to kick me out and move one of his own in to regain majority, but only had one action left so waited until his next turn. I had 4 cards left in my deck, so I simply played 4 cards. I could've forced another scoring, and while I thought I would've scored more than everybody else, I didn't know for sure, didn't want to count, and was already in the lead, so I played my non-scoring adventurer card instead, to not trigger an additional scoring. I won by a hefty margin.

Deep Sea Adventure
Just a quick 3-player game to finish off the long game day before starting up Titan. Nobody made it back up the first round, and the second round only one player made it back up. The second round was funny because I was doing really well and had good treasures but few treasures, and should've been able to make it back up. But the other player who drowned kept rolling poorly despite being two spaces away from the sub, and used up all the oxygen.

The third round, the other two players turned up a bit early, so I continued my descent to the bottom of the treasures before picking anything up. And only something like 4 air was consumed before I had picked up my first treasure and was the only player playing. I grabbed one more rich pile of treasure and returned and won outright.

Nippon
From gallery of Dolus

This was my first time playing Nippon, and it was 3 player. I nearly lapped third place on the scoreboard. It feels overwhelming at first, but overall it isn't too complex. It feels more complex than it really is. But I had a blast with this game and I look forward to playing more of it. Thank you Secret Santa!


EDIT:
As we are nearing the end of 2016, I thought it'd be interesting to look at my quantity of plays per year. It's an interesting bell curve...

2011 - 489
2012 - 464
2013 - 678
2014 - 624
2015 - 401
2016 - 268
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16. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 9  Great Western Trail x1 (3 plays so far)

On my mind :
1) We have watched Westworld #4. Very good stuff all around.

2) I have read good feedbacks from Fortitude.

3) I will bring the following games with me for Christmas's holidays :
- Co2
- Great Western Trail
- Scythe
- Thurn & Taxis
- Keltis
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17. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:155] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Board Game: Magic: The Gathering
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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HELLO!

Thanks for welcoming me back! For those who haven't met me, my name's Chris. Yes that's a real picture of me, though it is a halloween costume where I dressed as Mr T (though it should be noted I had the good taste *not* to wear blackface).

I'm in my early 40s, I live in Mountain View CA, and I'm married and the father of this guy:

From gallery of cferejohn


His name is Alistair. He's 4, and we're sure that's just a phase. Games he's played over the past couple years include Go Away Monster!, Spot it!, Hey, That's My Fish!, Animal Upon Animal, and Gulo Gulo.

So I used to play games pretty regularly, but about 3 years ago it all kind of fell off dramatically, partly due to Alistair, but also due to the fact that for some insane reason I decided to start playing Magic: The Gathering regularly again (mostly online, but also with a group of former work friends who would meet at Google to draft). I drafted pretty regularly from Theros until Kaladesh, but that fire has, thank god, evidently run its course, so I've come crawling back to my first love, board games (well, it's not like I completely left). Other than Magic, recent highlights include:


Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - My wife and I are *almost* done - we're about to start November. We've been playing with just two characters (as opposed to each playing with two), which has been all right, though I have found myself wishing we could explore some of the stuff that we can't really get to with more than 2.

Summoner Wars - We've got 20 decks between the master set and other stuff we've picked up and a giant spreadsheet tracking our plays. Still a lot to go. We played twice this week with my Vanguard Second Summoner running over her OG Phoenix Elves followed by my finding out how horrible of a match up the original Guild Dwarves are for the second Tundra Orcs.

Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) - I've been running a semi-regular weeknight game weekly for the last few months. It's on break for the holidays, and I'm not totally sure I want to continue because I feel like I've written myself into a corner and I've already rebooted the campaign once. I watch Mat Colville's videos and read Angry GM stuff and I get all excited, but then I have the bad habit of writing stuff that's way too complicated.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game - Just picked this up a couple weeks ago and been playing through the campaign with my friend Grey. He's picked up a copy of his own, but we're going to finish the campaign (we've done 2 of the 3 scenarios) and then maybe try it again while building 'real' decks. I've been very impressed with this so far. The Cthulhu theme is one I enjoy and I feel like Fantasy Flight has done a really good job so far with the story and making the scenarios not just be "you failed, try again", but actually end with the characters moving forward with consequences based on how they did. Experience-wise, it's what I hoped the Pathfinder game would be (but it ended up just feeling like moving piles of cards around) and a little what I hoped TIME Stories would be (which felt like a choose your own adventure novel where the penalty for choosing wrong was grinding back through 75% of the same adventure).

Metropolys - Pulled this out for 4 players when I had some friends over to play this with me and my wife. I somehow won despite feeling like I was failing the whole time, but it was definitely a 'land of the blind' scenario. I do still really like the combination of bidding and area control that as far as I know is unique to this game.

Terraforming Mars - The local game group I used to go to at the Mountain View Community Center merged with the game night at the new Mountain View Game Kastle, and I took my first trip to that on Tuesday. I got there late and got in a somewhat shortened play of this with 3 new players (one of whom left before the game was over, but this game is actually pretty tolerant of that). We started around 2 hours before the store closed, so with learning we knew we'd be pressed, and we scooped it up about 1 turn from ending, but the writing was pretty solidly on the wall (I would finish last of the remaining players). It was a good learning game and it seems like a game that will reward repeated play, so I'm excited to play it again. The graphic design is, unfortunately, pretty amateur hour, but the breadth of effects on the cards and things to tweak seem well thought out.

Sorry if that's a bit of a wall of text. I'll get my BGG-formatting-fu rolling again.
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18. Board Game: Roll For It! [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:3188]
Board Game: Roll For It!
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Okay. I am a dice fanatic. The current Dicember Challenge is my favorite challenge on BGG yet, out of the sheer delight it is to roll dice. I like heavy games with dice. I like medium games with dice. I like light games with dice.

Ironically enough, I find that the one aforementioned category which is underrepresented on my shelf is "light dice games." Curious, indeed.

Grace and James, I know you're Qwixx aficionados. Clearly, that's the best place to start with both easily-print-and-played versions or the fancypants Gamewright Deluxe version. However, I'd like to pick your (collective GCL) brain on those listed below and any other favorite pure dice games, be them quick and puzzly, or with more meat.

Off the top of my head I can think of:

- Qwixx
- Qwinto
- Rolling Japan
- Rolling America
- Roll For It!
- Favor of the Pharaoh
- Ciúb

...go!

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