GCL Phoenix 319: Playtesting (12 Feb 2017)
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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You've found the 319th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Welcome to any of you that stop by - whether regular visitor, lurker, subscription-stalker, passer-by or indeed one of our members. Please feel free to thumb the list so that we know you're there.

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

As usual, members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars).

darker Next!
familygaming
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indigopotter
John Rogers
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rynelf
Smintie
Taibi
TheRocketSurgeon
Tigrillo
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Previous Phoenix members who are always welcome back:
archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, Dormammu, Eeeville, enzo622, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, ravenskana, tjshields, topherr, Yokiboy.

So, I have been down with a nasty cold since Friday and obviously forgot about doing the list this week. Since I always have a hard time coming up with something creative, this list will be more about the interaction between us here than perhaps the gaming. It is time for you creative people to let us in on the secret. What makes a good (great) list. Questions below are starters, so feel free to go off on a tangent.
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1. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This At All [Average Rating:5.51 Overall Rank:18704] [Average Rating:5.51 Unranked]
Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This At All
Nicolai Broen Thorning
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Does presentation matter?
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2. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This Either [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:5819] [Average Rating:5.96 Unranked]
Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This Either
Nicolai Broen Thorning
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How about player count?
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3. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This at All: Dice are Fun [Average Rating:5.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.72 Unranked]
Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This at All: Dice are Fun
Nicolai Broen Thorning
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Random questions or some sort of commen thread?
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4. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This Pasted-On Theme at All! [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:15544]
Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This Pasted-On Theme at All!
Nicolai Broen Thorning
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Does theme matter?
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5. Board Game: Rotation [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Rotation
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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We always have time for the things we put first.
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Eric - Feb. 19th
Jeremy - Feb. 26th
Alison - March 5th
Marc - March 12th
Carol - March 19th
John - March 26th
Karl - April 2nd
Michael - April 9th
Dave - April 16th
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6. Board Game: Fields of Green [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:794]
Board Game: Fields of Green
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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I let Sam open Fields of Green yesterday, under the excuse of Valentine's Day, although we don't usually do much for Valentine's Day, it just happened like that. We played one game last night, and two games today. I've won all three games so far whistle

There are several pros - set up is pretty quick, the rules read-through was pretty painless, and there isn't a lot of rules overhead. There are overview cards that remind you 1 grain/2 water/3 coins at the beginning of the round. We harvest in turn, but once people know the game, especially with 4p, it would save a lot of time if everyone did the harvest phase at once.

With 3/4 players, it's a take-and-pass card game, like 7 Wonders. With 2p, the two players draw 6 cards as they wish from the 4 categories (fields, livestock, construction, buildings), the 12 cards are shuffled, and then 6 are laid face up. Each player chooses one in turn, the cards are replenished, and so on until all of the cards are gone. This happens during each of the 4 rounds.

The game feels like the right length for the complexity. It's not a full-on civ game, but it has the right amount of choices and the right amount of development for the length of the game.

Because the cards are sorted by type, players can control the mix of the deck each round. Early on, more fields, and then later, almost no fields, but some purple cards that will score end-game points.

A few years ago, we had bought City Tycoon, expecting something more like this. City Tycoon fell flat, and while Fields of Green doesn't knock my socks off, it fits when we don't have 2+ hours for a bigger game. Sam seems to like it at least as much as I do, and I consider it a successful pickup. Even with shipping, I paid a little less than the KS price for a copy with the extra KS cards.

Yesterday I took pictures of my newest batch of dice bags. Here are some of them:

From gallery of indigopotter
From gallery of indigopotter
From gallery of indigopotter
From gallery of indigopotter

From gallery of indigopotter
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From gallery of indigopotter
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7. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1760] [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked]
Board Game: Scrabble
Alison Mandible
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I spent much of this week at a work retreat. More than I planned to, actually; the snow kept us there an extra day and the general mood was to treat it as a snow day rather than trying to work remotely. So I gamed with work friends a lot more than usual.

 N/A   Valley of the Kings x2 NEW!

I brought this because it was small, and because I'd seen it played fast at Eric's. The first play was me and three people who were new to deckbuilders; it was a blowout. Once everybody saw the value of entombing starter cards, the next game was more balanced and more fun. But it still wasn't fast-- I'm not sure whether I'm up for any more 90 minute games of this.

 7   Masters Gallery x4

This turned out to be more the right rules density for snowy pick-up play. I ended up teaching it three times in a row as new people joined the group. Playing at 3p, 4p and 5p all in the same session was fun, actually.

 9   Scrabble x3

The hotel excitedly told us they were bringing out their stash of board games to help us weather the night (since we were renting the whole place), which led to an old friend challenging me to Scrabble. Back when I was an avid Scrabble player, he and I used to play and he'd usually win. I haven't really touched a Scrabble set since Dominion and Space Alert gave me a new hobby, but I still had fond memories of playing Scrabble with a clock and formal challenge rules. So we played three games with 10 minutes on each side.

I like the rush of timed play, but being stuck in Scrabble is frustrating. A few games of this per decade is probably enough but I did learn a lot about gaming from my Scrabble days, even if I didn't realize it was generally applicable.

 4   Pictionary

We had to check the turn-order rules several times to be sure we had them right. As far as I can tell it's possible for one team to simply never get a turn. And the cards were generally either too easy or too hard.

 6.1   Race for the Galaxy x28
 N/A   Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm x0
 8   Dominion x5

This week's online gaming was mostly RFTG, including (newly for me) the first expansion. I am terrible at this game!

Other game stuff: I'm working on pulling some data from the BGG API to update this list: Word frequency - the most "fiddly" games and much more. Should be fun!

Life stuff: My beloved cat will have lived with me for a year as of tomorrow. I got her some presents, including a little cave cube I thought might keep her warm as the winter got bad, but instead she's been sitting on the cablemodem. Fickleness notwithstanding, my cat is the best.
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8. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 11Feb2017:

8/11/59 plays of 7/9/33 total games, with 1/1/2 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/9/19 distinct opponents.

1/1/8 games acquired (plus 0/0/1 expansions.) - The Colonists.
1/1/12 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/2 expansions.) - Acquire.
1/1/6 games ordered (plus 3/3/4 expansions.) - The Colonists, Navegador: Privilege Cards, Concordia: 8 Forum Cards mini-expansion and Pax Renaissance: BGG Promo Pack.
Orders for 2 games and 3 expansions still outstanding.

On Sunday instead of watching the Super Bowl:
1x _7⅓_ The Colonists [New!] - This was tiring; fascinating; and very very long. And we'd only played three of the four eras!

When it was done, I thought I wasn't interested in playing again anytime soon. It was exhausting.

And yet, when I woke up the next morning, I was thinking about things I might have done differently. I found myself being strangely enthusiastic about it when I talked to a friend about the game after work. I asked the Wednesday gang whether it's something they'd consider playing (over four weeks: doing a save&restore between each era) and - unhelpfully - they thought that might be fun.

So I bought a copy. (And then, belatedly, sold my second copy of the 1999 Acquire to cover the purchase. Yay!)

With the Monday lunch group:
1x _7_ Panic Lab (with Shower [New!]) - A little player-summoning exercise. And quite amusing.
The Shower was fun, too. Though after thinking about it for a moment or two it wasn't at all surprising, it was amusing to discover that "Not there" is a possible answer when it's in the game. While that's a totally normal answer in Bongo! (a similar sort of insanity in my mind) I'd not seen that before here.
1x _7_ Igel Ärgern - We went with only the Doping rule for this one (we've often played with the Toroidal Board in the past.) It was quite entertaining; particularly as the overwhelming leader managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.
1x _7⅓_ Nyet! - With the new fancy Iello printing, rather than my old Mü and Lots More set. (I've a delusion there's a slight difference against the older one, too; I'd thought the old version had a No Trump option - but the new version absolutely doesn't.) It was fun.
2x _7⅓_ Fuji Flush - Jon had written Herr Friese about the endgame - and discovered that Friedemann had a cool proposal for an alternative ending that adds a few more choices. So we tried it a couple times; it worked nicely. (Basically: if one is forced to discard the final play, one turns it over - then draws as many cards as are turned over and keeps one. So if one fails to play a final card multiple times in a row, one ends up with more choice as to the next card played.)

With the Wednesday night gang:
1x _8_ Great Western Trail - This was pretty cool - and particularly after last week's game where I did terribly poorly. This one was much better: though I really can't claim I understand things well enough that the next game won't be another disaster!

No games with the kids, which was a bit sad. But I did manage to join them for their school performance of Anything Goes, so we had some fun.

Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+0/-0)
Owned-and-played-once: 93 (+1/-0) - The Colonists was bought.

Outlook for the week: Again optimistic that I might get a play with the kids. Something tomorrow for lunch. Then on call for the week: I might find my gaming quite limited.
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9. Board Game: Wir sind das Volk! [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:572]
Board Game: Wir sind das Volk!
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Board Game: Wir sind das Volk!
Board Game: The Guns of Gettysburg


 10   Wir sind das Volk! x4
 9   The Guns of Gettysburg

This week marks the end of my *crazy* teaching stretch, meaning that I'll (hopefully) be around a bit more! While I've dropped in here and there, I do miss all of the hub-bub of the group (and have missed out on some of the excitement of new members) but I'm looking forward to engaging more with you all.

More time has meant that it has been easier for me to engage in the longer, heavier types of games that I enjoy! So onto the game play review:

Sunday morning with Morten
This morning (for me; evening for Morten, pre-supper matches!), Morten and I put in two matches of Wir sind das Volk! on the beautiful BGC interface. The reason why we played two matches? Morten tanked hard on the first match as the East, facing full protest at the end of the first decade (due to a living standard assault). So we did a re-do in which Morten was now grabbing cards extra-defensively (which invited me to do the same) -- the result: both of us had strong economic infrastructures, reducing the types of locations in which I could strike as the West (because Morten's political ideology was strong enough to hold out against even a strong strike) -- so I did a Hail Mary, leveraging his Living Standards against him by bringing my export factories to 4 across the board. While his infrastructure fell to shambles, and, in turn, his LS, it wasn't enough to push a full protest (5 protest markers reduced to 3 after police and socialist involvement). A very well fought match!

WsdV! Season 2 League
For those who stalk me are subscribed to my posts, you've noticed that I totally tanked the first bracket of the Season 2 WsdV! League and came out 0-2 in my first match-ups. I thought myself a semi-proficient player -- but getting spanked here is not only humbling, but has me excited that there's still room to grow and a whole other level or layer of strategy that I wasn't even aware of! I wish I could more clearly identify *where* I went so wrong (one game ending pre-maturely, the other being a full-protest "tie", win going to the East). I'll have to take a look at the game logs and (try to) learn from them.

Saturday Guns of Gettysburg
With only Louis and I having responded as available for this weekend's heavy gaming, we talked about what we might play. Louis said the magic words: "could you teach me Guns of Gettysburg?" ("and then make a run of it"). With a resounding YES PLEASE, I engaged to teach the game (with him having read the rules prior, thankfully) -- and in turn we played the first day (the most exciting day) of the battle. In a bizarro twist, Louis got next to no reinforcements for most of the day, trying to hold back increasing numbers of infantry with a small screen of cavalry (with me trying to dart around and past them to prevent the holding of key geographic areas). It made for a hard start for Louis, but the objectives kept crawling backwards into the safety of the woods (and often wooded hills, i.e., uphills both ways, back in my day). He would have had a lot of time to create new lines on day two, but holding key features like the aptly named Cemetary ridge were no longer a given, but rather a deeply contested area. We're planning on giving it a full go in the near future.

As mentioned earlier, GoG is a beautiful mix of form and function. I think I might have to give it a 10 (now that I think I have *all* the rules down). Speaking of, it is now officially off of the HAIRSHIRT (which is almost fully updated).
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:19]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_6_ Arkham Horror: The Card Game x1 New!
_?_ Unpublished Prototype x1


The Week in Review

As mentioned last week, JR, JS and I played a prototype on Friday evening. I can't say much more than that at this point, but it'll be interesting to see if it is published and how much, if at all, it changes between now and when (if) it's released.

Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game

There's been quite a lot of hype regarding Arkham Horror: The Card Game and I was expecting to enjoy it almost as much as The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, but it fell a bit flat.

There were some things I liked more than The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, for example, just playing with a single character/hero, and having location cards actually have a spacial relationship to each other. But there were some things I liked less. The biggest was pulling the modifier chits from the bag. I don't know what it is, but I don't enjoy random chit pulls. I understand they did it to avoid creating a bunch of specialized dice, but I way prefer the tactile rolling of dice to drawing a token from a bag. Even drawing a card, I find more tense.

More than that, I think I'm just bored by the Fantasy Flight Games Lovecraft universe.


The Week Ahead

S and I will probably play a few more games of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, just to see if it gets more interesting - especially as there's a campaign system to it. Other than that, no plans...although tomorrow is "Family Day" here in BC, so neither of us have to work tomorrow.

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

Unplayed games not in shrink: Normandy '44 and Mottainai.
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11. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:219]
Board Game: Indonesia
Last week’s plays:

Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle

 7   Carcassonne: The Castle x2
After I asked for a break from Habitats some weeks ago Lærke has entered into a Carc mood instead. I don’t mind as I actually quite like both the ones we have (but have now started looking for an expansion for each of them as well). We started the week by finishing the game that got interrupted by L’s migraine attack. We both managed to get our highest scores – first time anyone of us passed 100 points and the both of us did in the same game. L by 7 points more than me. The second game of it was totally different where we had trouble hitting the corner bonus tiles and ended with around 70 points both us but this time with me in the lead. I’ve asked a company to make the Falcon Expansion that Knizia made available after it was decided it wouldn’t be published so let’s see if that will be possible. If not, I’ll craft it myself.


Board Game: Carcassonne

 7   Carcassonne x2
Two games of regular Carc as well – with the Inns and Cathedrals and a mini-expansion I don’t remember the name of. Robber and something. Both games were played while having lunch and with me as the winner which was nice after L winning the last couple of times. Since it looks like L will ask to play this more in the future I have ordered the Traders & Builders expansion.



Board Game: Quadropolis

 6   Quadropolis NEW!
Wednesday night I had arranged with two friends to play a couple of games of John Company but both skipped so I ended up playing Quadropolis with L and two others. I’ve seen rather mixed reviews of this and I can see why. To me it definitely lacked player interaction and some thematic integration with the mechanisms. It’s not a bad game but it’s also pretty bland. I’d play again if someone else wanted to play it. L might as she won the game handsomely.



Board Game: Indonesia

 8   Indonesia
My second play of this and the first one in a year. Through the Heavy Cardboard monthly geeklists I found a fellow player interested in heavier games. It was purely by chance since he put two and two together when I reported that I had played Small City at the public library and he had seen someone play it there. So we started playing together and I introduced him to a couple of other players here. Unfortunately, he is moving back to the States this week so Friday was our last night playing together. He had asked to play his new and unplayed Indonesia so we did. I’d forgotten the rules more than I thought and he had misunderstood a rule about shipping but we still had a good 3-player game. Despite my memory being fairly vague on the game and its high level of opacity I could see my one previous play made it much easier for me this time. In my first game the player with a siap faji monopoly won the game so I tried to get that here as well. I succeeded in both that and a late oil monopoly but I lost all my shipping agencies so I had to pay for everything but not enough (because of the rule mistake) to take away the victory from me. Had we played it right we would have valued the shipping companies higher so things might have been the same but who knows – and who cares, we still had a great game.

Board Game: Terraforming Mars

 8   Terraforming Mars
Lærke agreed to a longer game on Saturday so I was thinking about either TM og the new Through the ages but decided this might be the better option to introduce her to. My fourth play and I still lost to her. At least I came in second… We chose not to play with the beginner’s corporations and I thought I’d try and play with the weaker of the two I picked to try some new strategies and not heavy on plant production as I usually do. It was fun to get some mining and more heat production going and I ended with +19 on the ME scale. But still lost 109-103 I think it was. Importantly, L really really liked the game!


Board Game: Taluva

 8   Taluva x3
In the evening we played three games of Taluva that L all lost so she was not in a good mood. So no more games last week with L…





Board Game: Wir sind das Volk!

 9   Wir sind das Volk! x2
Luckily, Marc and I had planned to play WsdV! together online Sunday afternoon (my time) again. It ended up being two games because I didn’t even survive the first decade in our first game. I played as East Germany and had big difficulties building up any infrastructure with the 1 valued cards Marc left me so my lovely country ended up in turmoil and unrest all too soon. In the second game I had more success with my build points and managed to build up a much stronger economy and the living standard that entailed. Marc is a sly fox of course and tried to use make my living standard into a double edged sword by removing my access to Western currency. Not enough to destroy my economy or cause too much unrest apart from in one region. The prestige was all his but I managed to claw myself through the final decade with just enough Stasi power to remove the pockets of unrest that would have led to more than the three allowed mass protests. After six games, four of which have been with Marc, I am beginning to come to grips with the game. It’s still bloody opaque but at least not as much as it used to be.





Games that left my collection this month: Mondrian: The Dice Game.


Games that entered my collection this month: Ponzi Scheme.

Unfortunately it seems like the copy of Triumvirate I bought has been lost in the post.


Unplayed games in my collection: The Republic of Rome, Tahuantinsuyu, 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Automobile, Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar, Road to the Palace, Tinner’s Trail, Pax Renaissance, Stephenson’s Rocket, 1846, The Traders of Genoa, Ponzi Scheme.

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12. Board Game: The Colonists [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:412]
Board Game: The Colonists
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Board Game: The Colonists


Wednesday night, Brandon (whom I had not seen in perhaps a year or more!) and I played  10   Great Western Trail.
(The night was free because Natalie was over at a friend's house for knitting group.) He knew nothing about it (he likes games, but it not a "gamer", but the setting of the game clicked with him, and I knew he enjoys management style games, so to the table it went! I thought he played his first game quite well, actually, and both of us had fun, so yet another winner!

So Brandon went home at 9pm, I went to bed at 10pm. Natalie came home at 12am. I got up to make water at 3am.

"Jeremy."

"Hrrrghmmmmm?"

"My water broke."

Sustained silence. Thoughts slowly cohering. "Really?"

"Yes. My contractions have started. Go back to sleep."

I was so tired, I nearly succeeded, but there was a deep-seated excitement buried deep within the fatigue, and I couldn't quite sleep. And, of course, Natalie was contracting, and once I heard her utter in greater and greater distress, I got very anxious. At 6am we had the doula over; at 8am the midwife joined us; at 10am I filled the birthing tub with water, and contractions started to get very strong.

And once Natalie got into the tub, and I was face to face with her (or face to cheek: Natalie didn't really want anyone in her face - she punched away the midwife at once point...), I'll tell you what, I have never in my life felt so useless. There is nothing I could do to help her except offer her water that she didn't want, hand-holding that she didn't care for, and words that interfered with her inner processes. Some roads are walked alone.

Anyways, contraction intensified, but did not get longer, so we transferred into hospital at 1:30pm (driving to the hospital in a snowstorm, with Natalie contorted on the passenger seat from discomfort), epidural at 2:30pm, pushing at 4:30pm, baby at 5:01pm. And since we didn't know ahead of time what the sex of the baby was, we got to enjoy the surprise of a GIRL!

Anyways, now we are in the throes of sleepless nights, nappy days, and tons of pajama-wearing for comfort's sake.

Sometimes Xavie will sleep in my arm, and then I can manage a few rounds of  N/A   The Colonists x3 NEW!.
It works quite well as a 1p one-armed game, which is one reason I bought it, in anticipation of having a newborn.

I have to say that I really don't know how enthused I am for the game at this point. I played through the tutorial (which was quite helpful), and felt that it was a bit flat. There aren't that many things to do, and the things you can do (collect resources, use resources to build) aren't that interesting. Then I played the Introductory game twice over two days, and my opinion of the Introductory game met expectations from the Tutorial.

So this morning I read through the rulebook and looked at some cards, and I am really on the fence about this game. It could have had a ton of variability (the framework of the game certainly allows for it), but the special cards are far less interesting than Agricola's cards (or even A Feast for Odin's cards), the same actions are available every game (lacking the shifting availability of unique buildings that Le Havre offers), and many of the buildings are "vanilla" and bear a lot of similarity to each other. Had the cards offered what Ag/AFFO offer, and/or the buildings changed up from game to game a bit, and/or the buildings had greater variety, this might have been once of my favorite games ever. As it is though: get wood, get tools, build Farms for workers; get wood, get clay, get tools, build Forester to produce some wood every year; etc. etc.

On the other hand, there is something quite alluring about the prospect of playing 4 ages. My gut feeling is that once I do get that far, I won't be that much more impressed with the system, but it might be satisfying enough to keep while Xavie is in my arms. Again, long, 1p, one-arm games that are easy to remember rules for are at a premium! So I'm guessing this will get played intermittently (staying on table possible for the next few months) as the easiest-to-play long game, and then I'll pack it off in a math trade in September. At that point, hopefully I'll be able to dive back into COIN, and into the newer stuff I will have acquired by then: Comancheria, Mr. President, Nemo's War, etc.

I hope to be proven wrong though! Maybe the whole of the system will make it more interesting, but I can't help but feel that the designer and developers missed a grand opportunity to offer a lifetime game full of events, buildings, opportunities and minor occupations (by way of cards), and new actions spots (what I wouldn't give to have a fishing concern, or copper mine with a jeweler!).

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13. Board Game: Tak [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:784]
Board Game: Tak
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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 8   Tak x3 NEW!
 8   Santorini x2
 6   Ad Astra
 6   Dream Home NEW!
 6   Potion Explosion NEW!
 6   Fuji Flush NEW!

I don't play abstract positionals super-often - well, at least outside of Santorini, lately - but I do enjoy them; I cut my gaming teeth on Chess at a young age[1]. I've also read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. So unsurprisingly, I followed the Kickstarter of Tak with interest... but between not getting a chance to try it and my limited 2p gaming time, I chose not to back it.

A friend got his set recently, and taught it to me this weekend.

You play on an NxN board. Each side has pieces that can be played flat ("flats") or upright ("walls")[2]. On your turn, you either place a piece (flat or upright) into any empty space, move a single piece (flat or upright) 1 space, or move up to the top N pieces from a stack you control (ie, that has your piece on top) - the stack must move in a straight line, and you must "drop off" at least one piece per square. (So the max distance you can travel equals the number of pieces you picked up.) You can move onto empty spaces or flat pieces/stacks, but not onto walls.

There are two ways to win:
1. Make a 'road' of your flat pieces joining two opposite sides of the board. (Orthogonally contiguous. Stacks only count their top piece.)
2. At game end - triggered by someone running out of their supply of pieces[3] - have the most flat pieces showing. (Again, stacks only count their top piece.)

If #1 were the only victory condition, the game would constantly end in stalemate due to lots of walls. If #2 were the only victory condition, the game would be pretty boring, since you'd always choose plays that net you +1 flat. (You might be able to set up moves that net you +2, but I suspect it'd be tricky.) The game lives in the tension between the two.

My first two plays were "get thumped and observe basic strategy", but by play #3 I had enough of it that with the first-player advantage[4] I was able to make my friend think; it got quite interesting! We had to call it on time, but I'm looking forward to playing again someday.

---

I also played a bunch of new or almost-new games that I'd rate a 7 if not for one factor making me slightly less interested. (Varying by game.) Plus two quick games of Santorini, which I continue to love. Wow, is Medusa nasty; haven't figured out good counterplay to her yet.

---


[1] = My dad taught me when I was... 5? 6? We played, he let me win, and as I got better, he amped up his game. Sometime while I was in elementary school, he started trying to win and discovered that I'd gotten better than him.

[2] = On larger boards, each player also gets a 'capstone' piece which combines all the virtues of flats and walls - with the further power that when it moves, it can flatten a wall if it lands on that wall by itself.

[3] = Supply size varies with board size.

[4] = IIRC, first player wins ~55% of games on www.playtak.com. I'm not sure why they don't use the "first player makes an opening move; second player may swap" thing many abstracts do. Perhaps it's insufficient?
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14. Board Game: Baltimore & Ohio [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:2332]
Board Game: Baltimore & Ohio
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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Microbadge: GameChat League - Phoenix Division: "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes..."
So I didn't get a chance to play anything this week, game night was cancelled due to freezing rain, but I did purchase a copy of Baltimore & Ohio along with Paris Connection and have been brushing up on the rules. Both look rather promising and I'm excited to try them out soon.

Since we are all doing bios...

On Me: Gaming

I've been running a game night in some form or another since 2007 and 3 of the founding members are still present. By necessity then I am omni-gamer; however, I do have a definite preference for medium-heavy games with a good depth:time ratio. I acknowledge the contributions of gateway and party games, but I'd rather spend my gaming time elsewhere. My ratings and rankings are based on BGGs system and subject to change as I continue to play.

If you want a good rundown of how I came into and evolve in the hobby check out An Ongoing Retrospective. A quick addendum, 2015-2016 was mostly lighter fare as I was away at grad school and didn't have time for heavy gaming. Now home again, I'm back to my heavy ways.

On Me: Personal

I have a lovely wife (Nicole) who humors me once and awhile with a session. Her favorites include Reef Encounter, Cavum, Container, and Indonesia. When I'm not gaming I am occupied with two endlessly curious boys: 4 year-old Jack and nearly 6 month-old Harvey. Between work, family, and games I'm pretty busy but I somehow also find time to host film page on Facebook and sneak a book occasionally.

On BBG Voice

I love discussing things. I tend to poke, prod, think aloud, and evolve over conversation. I'm open-minded and my positions can be quite fluid in the throes of conversation. So the Phoenixes were a perfect fit for me.

On My Collection

As has been previously noted on this geeklist, I do not harbor many games. While I have played and/or owned over 300 games over the past decade, I have taken to reducing my collection to include only those games I really enjoy playing. I will likely not keep a game that is merely good or just okay though I do take group availability and play probability into consideration.

On Gaming Interests

To quote user MScrivner, I want interesting...to think and act and play in ways that I don't get to do anywhere else.

What I find interesting are games where mutualism and player incentive management drives victory. Where decision ambiguity abounds and player decisions are non-trivial, compensatory, butterfly effect inducing, and opaque in their ramifications. I'm a fan of depth and elegance and prefer occam's razor to the excesses of modern boardgame complexity.
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15. Board Game: Rabbit [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Rabbit
Chris
United Kingdom
Birmingham
England
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So I'm confused by this weeks questions. After being goaded by Tigrillo that I'd not commented yet as I said it was from getting sidetracked designing my own game. And so I come and the questions are all about play testing... but they're not... I'm still not sure...

So this is my game, as of Monday evening:

From gallery of TheRocketSurgeon


It's much prettier now though, and probably called Rock Bottom. As it's a pun on a stock market based about stone. And everyone loves puns. Because puns.

If it's possible for anyone to make any sense of when combined with the picture, the rules are here... https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YWFyGwggCqep9uOac7r_wM5F... and any possible thoughts would be *hugely* appreciated.

If there are any maths nerds here who would specifically be interested in looking at some of the costing logic and principles in the game i'd really appreciate a PM about that currently. I have three scales - Profit made from the stock market, Cost of stones to buy with that profit, and the VP they can be turned into. Currently I'm struggling to fully realise the right way to balance them off together in a way that supports thematic gameplay, and I've a feeling there may be an existing correct principle out in mathsland!

As much as I think the game is fairly novel, and fun and something approaching "complete" (before mass play testing of course, so who the biscuit knows..!?) there are two tangents I'd mention.

1) This theme is a fricking gift. The more I read about the history of island of Yap (Yap Yap Rabbit Rabbit... geddit?!!) the more mechanisms just fall out of the pages. So many things seem too good to be true. So many in fact that there are lots I've already had to leave out. For example, in the immediate time period following the games end, the Germans tried to encourage the Yapese to improve their infrastructure, but they didn't want to, as they didn't need it. So the Germans daubed black crosses on the biggest and best stones, which caused them to be devalued in the eyes of the Yapese, so they did the work in order to have the crosses washed off again... What an excellent idea for a mechanic... but that can wait for the expansion. Probably.

2) A key phrase in designing games has been "get it played". Scribble things down on paper and play the darn thing already. But I've spent loads of time learning nandeck, brushing up my gimp skills etc., and in designing nicer looking cards, tiles etc., I've had so so many ideas about how to improve the game. Ones that maybe I wouldn't have if I was happy with messy presentation.

=========================

At least with this in my mind, I've a better excuse for not actually playing real games. Maybe.

5 Villages of Valeria the week before.

And URGH. Never again thanks. This just a light, themeless combination of, say, Imperial Settlers and ... Puerto Rico(?) and little else. You pick an action, everyone does a weaker version of it, buy cards that power up your actions, build buildings. It was fine enough, utterly forgettable but mechanically sound enough save for the fact that the buildings that help you build other buildings didn't seem to really kick in. By the time you've done the thing to get an extra stone and water each build, the games nearly over anyway. But the real kicker was max player count syndrome. 2 and a half hours to play an hour long game with 5 dithering players. That's what killed it. Someone chooses an action and everyone else around the table then, in turn, says out loud to themselves "Hmm, a build action... do I want to do a build action. Well I suppose I could, but then later on my turn I won't be in as good a position..." Argh, just get on with it, I've not done anything at all for 5 minutes! Maybe it could be phrased as Glory To Rome for boring preschoolers?


7 Helvetia this Monday, before playtesting

Yeah, nice. Looks dull and another one on the pile, one of those MPS games that's probably pleasant enough (see above), but there's a surprising amount of key interactivity here. You're taking turns to sell goods from your buildings for VP and building those buildings, some at the end of a tech tree for VP too. But you're using dudes and dudettes to intermarry with opponents pieces in other towns. Someone puts out a nice action and moves a person into it, you can then marry them with one of your own of the opposite gender (Woah, it's not the 21st century here!) and also be able to get that action, going to sleep once you do it. They then have this notion of a night watchman who wakes up all dudes in a certain area of your board, so do you wake up this top corner, knowing it'll also re-arm that action for some other players too? Also these guys get to breed in your own town, adding more dudes to then marry off etc. Clever littleish game. especially as I won it. Which never happens. Must be broken.
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16. Board Game: Mint Works [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:768]
Board Game: Mint Works
Chris
United Kingdom
Birmingham
England
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Does anyone have any views on this thing which seems to be arriving on all it's KS backers doormats this week?

It just strikes me as so so odd that it's entire slogan is that it is a worker placement game. Yet more signs that that bloody mechanism is ... i don't know... out of control? Remember when mechanisms were just there to work out how the fun happened, rather than being the whole point of it?
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17. Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion [Average Rating:8.42 Overall Rank:7]
Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

|9| A Feast for Odin (x2)
|9| Through the Ages: A New Story
-8- Concordia (+Salsa; 8 Forum Tiles)
-8- Puerto Rico
-8- Seafall
-7- The Voyages of Marco Polo
-4- Star Wars: Rebellion New!

A friend had received a copy of Star Wars: Rebellion for Christmas and I was keen to try it and find out what all the fuss was about. I am no wiser. In fact, if anything, I'm more baffled. It promised to be an epic space game but it was really only epic in game length. It took 90 minutes to explain the rules, so we got off to a bad start. The game itself took over 6 hours and there are nowhere near enough decisions or points of interest to merit that sort of time. I could have watched the entire original trilogy in less time! It would have been more fun. The main reason for it taking so long was that we were playing 2 vs 2 and the Rebels were very slow with discussion on their turns. It felt like it shouldn't have gone on so long, and that it would be a lot quicker as a 2-player game, but there wasn't enough of interest there for me to want to try again. It was too much of a wargame for my tastes, with surprisingly little story despite the card events attempting to inject flavour.

I quite liked the part about finding the Rebel base, a little bit Scotland Yard as the Empire's troops spread out across the galaxy trying to narrow down the Rebels options for hiding. The combat was tedious, the resource and unit production fiddly, but for me the biggest disappointment was that I saw too much of the game in that one play. I'd read that there are many strategies and that it plays differently each time but we saw the project deck in its boring entirety while the Rebels had dug through most of their special cards. (They did at least look a bit more interesting.) There were some characters we didn't use, but they just do the same things with different stats. I wanted there to be plenty left to surprise me, I wanted it to feel epic in scope instead of showing me most of what it had to offer in one play. I wanted it to have the charm of the films but it was just dull. With a shocking lack of Greedo.

It's ranked 5th on BGG as of this post, with Scythe at 6 and 7 Wonders Duel at 7... What on earth is going on? Who’s rating these games so highly? Haven't they played any actual great games?

Elsewhere, I played Puerto Rico and still couldn't shake the Factory/building strategy despite switching the costs of the Factory and University. It was a winning plan, again. Seafall was good fun with some exciting power plays and swings of fortune. I managed a draw against Kate in A Feast for Odin, which is a good result for me these days: she regularly scores much higher than I do. And I tried The Voyages of Marco Polo 2-player and it worked reasonably well at that player count.
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