BGCBS Mafia: 318 - And The Tommy Gun Goes To...
Raf Cordero
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of February 20 - 26, 2017.
• 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 can be 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, but it will be ignored.

Current Roster:
touchstonethefool
cferejohn
jshufelt
fdubois
timotheous
charlest
Happymrdave
tallgrant
annowme
Dolus
ecargo
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1. Board Game: Big Deal [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:16205]
Board Game: Big Deal
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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The Oscar's are film's biggest awards, and I'm currently watching Jimmy Kimmel crack wise. The Golden Geek finals are also going on, so we're doing an Award Show. We're giving out Tommy Guns to the Mafia's favorite games of the year. For the first:

Best Use of the Meeple (or favorite components).

Also, do you watch the Oscars?
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2. Board Game: Tom and Jerry Gay Double Feature Cartoon Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Tom and Jerry Gay Double Feature Cartoon Game
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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Intriguing Kickstarter of the year. Either fulfilled, launched, etc. Doesn't have to be the game you most want to play (though it can be).

The Oscars are often political, and these certainly are. Do you mind that? Does it make you more or less interested to watch?
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3. Board Game: The California Raisins Board Game [Average Rating:5.66 Unranked]
Board Game: The California Raisins Board Game
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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Best Board (or card layout as applicable).

The Movie industry is extremely localized. Hollywood, London, NYC, etc. The industry has gravitated to certain cities. Board games haven't. Do you think they ever will? Is there a reason you think some industries localize and others don't?
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4. Board Game: Terrapin [Average Rating:6.16 Unranked]
Board Game: Terrapin
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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What game has the most exciting finish/end?

Big Oscar award winning movies tend to come out at the end of the year. Boardgames cluster around GenCon and Essen, both late in the year. Some people on Twitter were talking about how we're about to see a chunk of KS campaigns because we're hitting the manufacturing window to meet GenCon. Do you like the way we have surges of games or do you wish they were dripped out more steadily?
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5. Board Game: Word Slam [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2144] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Board Game: Word Slam
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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SLAMBOOK!

Get it out of your system. What were the worst games you played last year? Worst gaming experiences?

The Oscars have spawned The Razzies, celebrating Adam Sandlerthe worst in film. I personally can't see something like this happening in games for a long time, as it still feels like a small tight night community focused on positivity. Do you wish there was more room for negative reviews or commentary?
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6. Board Game: Wok Star [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:2303]
Board Game: Wok Star
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Games, shmames.

If you did the recipe exchange and cooked something, post it here!
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7. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:8.81 Overall Rank:1] [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Board Game: Gloomhaven
Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons


9  Gloomhaven NEW!
10  1830: Railways & Robber Barons

Two full game nights this week but both games were pretty long, so just two plays. Buuuuuut:

Gloomhaven! Yay! I can be cool again since I finally played something HAWT right? Right? ...

Anyways, we were able to finally get a group for this and dig in. There's quite a bit of overhead on your first play to get everything together and get everyone able to play without having to constantly show everyone their cards, but once we got rolling it was really fun. I've tentatively given it a 9.

So why did I like it so much? First, the card management. It's a great system with a nice ebb and flow as you play cards from your hand then have to rest to get them back - but the timing of your rests (and which type of rest you do) is very important. Plus... the hardest choices of the night: every time you rest to get cards back, you have to lose a card for the rest of the scenario. Can I go without this card? But what if I need this ability later? Oh the hemming and hawing.

Next, the combat. The cardplay works very well, with you both being given a lot of ability to plan things out, but the enemies are powerful enough that you must be able to A) react to bad events and B) can't just jump in front of foes, as things can shift from manageable to a giant mess quickly. It doesn't feel like it's happening because of chance though, it feels like it was because you didn't prepare quite right.

Also, the characters are very distinct. None of us felt alike, although we did have some similar "party roles." Our group is a little light on the heavy fighters (we might change a couple characters next time because we kind of want one now), but we all felt our characters had a lot of things to do and were able to actively contribute.

The sheer amount of content in this box is astounding. Absolutely astounding. This is one of those KS miracles that seems to be a game that never would have existed without crowdfunding, but it somehow delivers what it promised to.

Will it continue to be this good? I look forward to more. I also look forward to seeing if powered up characters still feel good in terms of being "powerful yet caution still required," as that's tough to do.

1830 is definitely the 18XX I have played the most of, and it was nice to revisit - although the game was kind of marred with some really timid play by several of us (myself included). The game started out with a good gait to the train purchases, but we majorly got bogged down in the 4s, and the last 4 took waaaaay to long to go. Three of us had to make forced diesel purchases and yet nobody really came all that close to bankruptcy (although one person might have if the bank had allowed more shares of one particular company for a double company dump).

I do somewhat wonder if 1830 would have been better if the CanPac and Erie were better companies - they're clearly the weakest, and while sometimes they are useful situationally, it does feel a little awkward having two companies that are significantly less attractive than the others.

If we could have another 1830 night somewhat soon so we remember the lessons we learned / were reminded of that might be nice. Might try to nudge that into happening if I can.

On My Mind

Switch comes out this Friday. Wow. Um, that month went by quickly. Initial impressions of Zelda are very positive. Not much about the other games out there yet, as Nintendo has kept tight clamps on the games.

Reached 99 hours in Persona 5 - will reach 100 next time I play. Still my favorite videogame from 2016, but I also am wondering how much longer it will go.

Nioh continues to be terrific. I'm elated that Team Ninja over at Tecmo Koei was able to make such a great game again, as it has been a while since they have. The company just announced they sold over a million copies, so I'm glad it has found a receptive audience as well. I'll go ahead and say it: I think this game is better than Dark Souls 3. Wow.

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8. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Barnyard Roundup x2
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures x2
Gorechosen x1
T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance x1 (new!)
Warhammer Quest: Shadows Over Hammerhal x1 (new!)
Heroes and Tricks x1

Expedition Endurance
I'm a mixed ball of emotions on this one. In terms of overall feel and atmosphere, this was maybe my favorite adventure. There's paranoia, tension, and general mystery.

But it's very linear and there's no discernible reference to the meta-story. The latter is very disappointing after the excellent Under the Mask finale. Also, the climax of this adventure was very odd in how it resolved. Huge letdown.

But otherwise it rocked.

WHQ: Shadows Over Hammerhal
I received an advanced copy of this which arrived on Friday. I spent about 10 hours (literally) assembling and cleaning the minis after getting done yardwork this weekend. It was kind of exhausting as I had to come away from it and go back over and over again so I could get some family time in.

But the game is good. Better than Silver Tower and maybe great. Big changes are there's now a game master and dungeons are pre-generated. There's a ton of hidden information in the dungeons (traps, secrets, and the like) and the campaign has this feel of exploring one continuous underground labyrinth. This is accomplished via dungeons linking to each other.

You can also return to the surface of Hammerhal now and go to town. This was a big part of the original WHQ that was missing from Silver Tower and I'm happy to see it return. The options here aren't super deep and it seems less developed than Shadows of Brimstone even, but it's still good fun.

Also, the game is harder. We had a TPK in the first dungeon. I've never seen more than a single hero downed in Silver Tower. I'm looking forward to exploring this further.

On My Mind
Tons of stuff going on right now. Banner Saga arrived, Skull Tales arrives today. I don't owe a review on either of those but I'd like to pen them anyway.

I have review copies of Burke's Gambit, Vikings Gone Wild, and Saltlands all coming in soon. Shadows Over Hammerhal and Fantasy Fantasy Baseball on the two I'm focused on right now. More of those on Wednesday.

I'm getting an extra night of gaming in this week as I'm hanging out with the group of history teachers I played Black Orchestra with last month. The plan is to teach them Secret Hitler. I'm going to convince them that modern gaming is solely games based on the third Reich.

I watched the entire first season of Colony this week. Way too much TV for one week but it is what it is (see the WHQ entry above). I enjoyed this quite a bit. It has a BSG New Caprica feel to it. Insurgency against occupation forces.


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9. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:19]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Joseph
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Board Game: Mythos Tales
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Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Board Game: Concordia
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Board Game: Santorini


 6   Mythos Tales - Played through the... fifth? scenario. One of the weaker stories and plots in this one, but it was one of the least buggy too. Not sure if it is worth diving further in.

 9.1   Clank! x2 - Played this in a 4 player, and it was a bit slow moving. And I didn't care for a couple of the other players at the table. Oh well. I still had fun with the game!

 N/A   Arkham Horror: The Card Game x3 NEW! I played through the core game campaign with Roland. I should say now, I played one rule wrong until the third scenario which made the first two scenarios MUCH harder. (Even when I double checked, I didn't see that doom tokens are removed when advancing the agenda. I knew something was wrong in the third scenario.)

Midway through the first game, I was so pissed off at everything. The bag had it out for me, in the rudest way possible. I was about ready to be "done" right there, and throw the game up at the marketplace. It was the most infuriating experience with luck I've had since, well... Arkham Horror. In the last turn, everything happened so quick and I couldn't mitigate it at all, I eventually took enough wounds and sanity points to knock me out. But then the most amazing thing happened... I got to keep playing. The story wasn't done even though I thought I was dead. I took my penalties, read my story, and instantly forgave the string of bad luck.

The second scenario, things were fun, but I felt the game was basically impossible to play well though, just not enough time. (Ref: One rule I got wrong). But I still enjoyed how the story was moving along.

I should say, in addition to getting the rule wrong, I never got any of Roland's weapons at this point. I never got to draw any of them.

Come the third scenario, my string of bad luck reversed, and I felt almost guilty for how well things went. After figuring out the doom track rule, things felt more "possible". Things were very intense going into the final act of the third scenario. But I was successful enough to actually stop the bad guys, but it came down to me needing to pass three difficult skill checks in the final turn.

Then the most amazing thing happened that made me smile and go "Well done..."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I got what I'm assuming was the best ending, though I may be wrong. Either way, I can't tell you how happy it made me that I had to take two mental trauma. That's Lovecraft. Well done, FFG.


I think I want to give the game another shot with another character.

After playing all three core scenarios, I'm thinking this might be one of the more enjoyable customizable card games I've played.

 N/A   Concordia NEW! - I finally see what the buzz is all about! I can't tell you how confused I was when it started. The rule book was very, uh... short? I eventually got the groove, but this is not a game I was able to understand after one play. I really need to play it again soon.

 8   The Castles of Burgundy x2 - Yay! I had one game where I did really well, and another game where I didn't do as well.

 N/A   Santorini NEW! - Yeah, this is a great (pseudo/) abstract strategy game. I was very impressed with it. Between this and Onitama, I think I'm pretty well set with the genre.

On My Mind
I've had a bit of sickness throughout the week, but not nearly as bad as Kim. I'm more or less good, but she's needing to see a doctor. We should have done that days ago. I've sorta kept my distance, or have been busy outside the house, so that we both wouldn't get sick, and I may have done that a little TOO much for her. So I'll be trying to spend more time with her, and probably sacrifice a few games in this following week, so I can make sure to spend time with her.

Edit:

I forgot, I also had another two plays of Castellion. My third plays overall.

Board Game: Castellion


Much better impression on these plays than my first experience. I failed the first game I played, but got things together for my second game. It's actually pretty satisfying to to win. It's not a much of a brain burner as the other games. It's very straightforward, and I think there's a pretty strong luck element in the game. Shockingly, more so than both Onirim (cards) and Nautillion (Dice).
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Miskatonic Museum: Mythos Pack [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked]
From gallery of CristiQ
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Dunwich Legacy: Expansion
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game


Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Miskatonic Museum: Mythos Pack
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Dunwich Legacy
Arkham Horror: The Card Game

I wrote a thing on TI3 for G&S

Spooky Stuff

Dunwich Scenario 2 and Miskatonic Museum Scenario 1 with the dads. Narratively, it was kind of funny. My character is a clue generating monster but is only OK at the fighty stuff. The first scenario of the night was in the Clover Club and has baddies and fighers all over the place. It never made sense for me to join in the fighting, so while eldritch monsters are rampaging through the building and reducing people to blood and psychic trauma my guy was just calmly wandering around getting fingerprints or something.

On my Mind

Katie put in her 2 weeks notice recently and starts a new job next week. She's going to take Raffi with her to DC tomorrow to see her mom before she has some surgery. This means for 5 days my lack of responsibility and freedom is a level I didn't even imagine possible. I've got gaming scheduled almost every night.

FFG sent me a copy of "The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen" a story telling RPG that only just barely meets the technical definitions of "game". It looks absolutely hilarious. It's about telling grand boastful tales of totally super true exploits like the time the Baron rode a cannonball 45 miles through the air or how he discovered that the lost city of Atlantis was actually on the moon. Might play this weekend. Also has some rules for online/forum play if anyone wants to mess around. There's no character to create and there are like 2 rules to learn.

Did some anniversary celebrations. Our 5 year anniversary was back in November but due to a bout of stomach flu we had to postpone things. This weekend we finally went and stayed a nice hotel/spa about 45 minutes away while a friend spent the night with Raffi. Super nice fancy hotel, dinner was pizza at a brewery. Perfect night. Then the next day I discovered chorizo sausage gravy at a local breakfast place, and witnessed a proposal which was cool. Then yesterday we bottled the beer I've had aging in a whiskey barrel Katie got me for our anniversary. Looking forward to tasting that one.
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11. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:184] [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons


 10   1830: Railways & Robber Barons

1830: Played in the game with Dave, and this one was quite interesting. Despite some anger I had afterwards (I was the dumping victim Dave references and felt one of the other players unintentionally acted as king-maker) I felt it was an interesting game. It reminds me why I like to get in several plays of a title like this- there's a lot to explore in the game mechanics and a lot of it works together well.

On my mind: The next week or so may be a bit slow. My work Pathfinder group is meeting this weekend, and I suspect they'll be in striking distance of the big bad guy. I'm a bit worried about them- they're still in the path of "I'm going to do this other big thing a bit later with the character to improve his survivability, but I've got some lesser ability/feat I want to get in hand first. We've got plenty of time". I don't think they've realized that time is going to run out of them, and some hard hitting monsters may eat their lunch. We'll see.

The new fancy edition of War of the Ring is supposed to ship out this week. Very excited to get my hands on it. Also should be rolling with Zelda come Friday- keeping my fingers crossed that there's no ordering problem with Target. Amazon already has had a mistake where they cancelled over a thousand pre-orders for the Switch.

My big painting project passed the halfway point last week. I may finish next weekend- if so I'll post pictures. Otherwise it'll be the week after.

Independence Day is Thursday. I'm usually pretty excited for that too, so I'll get the flag flying Wednesday night.
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12. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:78]
Board Game: Troyes
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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MIND. BLOWN.
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A pretty strong week for games!



Board Game: Troyes

 N/A   Troyes NEW!

I'm glad to play this again this week after my first session featured me making horrible decisions on a regular basis. I thought I knew the rules well enough to play competitively. I think we can summarize this experience by my buying one of James' yellow dice for two deniers so I could use agriculture to turn it into one denier.

Yep.



Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set

 6   Summoner Wars x2

Not much to say. This game continues to be fun, though I tend to doubt if I would ever buy it to play in person. Playdek prevails.



Board Game: Castle Builders

 8   Castle Builders

This is a PnP gem. Everyone should make a copy. It's a post-card sized abstract game that is way deeper than it looks on the surface. Scoring is majority for horizontal rows and winner-takes-all for whoever has the top-most token in each tower. Modifiers boost scoring (exponentially!). There are also mandatory lose-a-turn tokens which need to played strategically so as not to lose tempo, but your opponent has them, too. You can also zap open tokens and take multiple turns if your tokens allow. It's crunchy and fast.

I plan to make a larger version and mount the token faces to Scrabble tiles, then mount the modified Scrabble tiles to adhesive magnets so Anastasia and I can have a "board" on our fridge.

If you're curious, there is a free app version to try first.



Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game

 10   Ascension: Deckbuilding Game x21

This is last week's plays AND the plays from two weeks ago, because I forgot to log them at the time. This week, I saw the largest score in the history of my playing... and it was my opponent's score. Wherever you are, Transcats, kudos to your insane ten-minute-plus turn which nearly drained the entire center deck. I spent my entire afternoon break just watching it happen.

From gallery of Annowme

From gallery of Annowme

From gallery of Annowme

From gallery of Annowme

From gallery of Annowme

Basically, the dude played Adayu, The Serene (+1 everything, draw a card, all factions for multi-unite fodder), then played Daybreak Askara, which will duplicate a played card once, or duplicate it TWICE if it is an Enlightened card. Adayu is considered all factions, so it was triggering THREE TIMES for EACH subsequent card played. Just bonkers.



Board Game: Gloomhaven

 10   Gloomhaven x3

In an attempt to further reduce my wall-o-text regarding Gloomhaven details, I'll just link to the session report for the previous week's plays (so, two weeks behind). Here is the related session report:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1732221/gloomhaven-mini-ses...

As for this past week's plays, a highlight was when Bart's landmine was detonated under a stone golem after Ambrosia stiff-armed it, then she jumped back and threw critical-hit daggers into that golem and one of its cohort, at which point Bart unleashed the BATTLE BOT and tore the remaining stone golem a new one with several rolling modifiers.

Overall, this game continues to amaze me. The depth of strategy in each scenario only becomes richer and more interesting with each new class card added or attack deck modification or monster difficulty increase. Many missions are "kill all the things," but many are variations on fetch quests, puzzles, grab-this-to-do-that, and escort missions. The game is crazy ambitious, and delivers in spades.



Board Game: Sushi Go Party!

 10   Sushi Go Party!

I went big-points through Temaki, Eel, and Takeout Box, but in the end, I lost to the other big-points player as she managed to score at least a single Fruit, so I lost more points than she did and was two points behind the win!



On My Mind:

If I end up with any birthday cash this week, I'm going to replenish my print and play supplies. I've tended to buy them in big quantities for better pricing then let them dwindle as I build. I have a rough-and-ready build queue set up once I am back in stock of necessary materials:

Board Game: John Company
*
Board Game: A Straight Road
From gallery of Annowme
Board Game: Container
Board Game: Dark Moon
From gallery of Annowme
Board Game: An Infamous Traffic


*I signed up to playtest the 1- and 2-player iterations of John Company for Cole.

This Friday, Heritage Classical Academy is hosting a family night featuring one of my old professors (sorta, I audited one of his classes), Jason Edwards. The topic is "board games for families and education" and is more or less board game evangelism for kids. As a board member, I and a good friend (and also board member), Sam, will be running "open play" after the discussion, so we'll likely set up all sorts of gateway fare for the masses to learn and play. I look forward to it. Jason is an avid BGG user:

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For reference, aforementioned Sam is the same guy who plays Ambrosia the Scoundrel in our Gloomhaven campaign and the lucky winner of the group-buy copy of Blood Rage from our most recent meetup.

Finally, if Anastasia lets me request a game to play tonight, I've already decided it is going to be Ora et Labora. It's likely her least favorite Rosenberg, so we don't play it that often, but I LOVE it. One of his best, IMO.
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13. Board Game: Food Chain Magnate [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:28]
Board Game: Food Chain Magnate
Timothy Hunt
United States
St Louis
Missouri
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Board Game: Zendo
Board Game: The Resistance
Board Game: Power Grid
Board Game: Ingenious
Board Game: The Game of 49
Board Game: Tyrants of the Underdark
Board Game: Iron Dragon
Board Game: How To Serve Man
Board Game: Canterbury
Board Game: Secret Hitler
Board Game: Pick Up Sticks
Board Game: Mystic Vale
Board Game: Food Chain Magnate


10  Zendo x12
10  The Resistance
9  Power Grid
9  Ingenious
N/A  The Game of 49 NEW!
N/A  Tyrants of the Underdark NEW!
9  Iron Dragon
N/A  How To Serve Man
N/A  Canterbury NEW!
N/A  Secret Hitler x3
N/A  Pick Up Sticks NEW!
N/A  Mystic Vale
N/A  Food Chain Magnate NEW!

A lot of gaming this week. Regular Wednesday lunch gaming. Thursday was our meetup group's 12th anniversary.

From gallery of Timotheous


Friday and Saturday was a mini-convention: a friend decided a few years ago that for the cost of going to and staying at GenCon, he could rent a couple of event rooms at a local hotel, and invite his friends. He then gets to play games with 50 or so friends rather than with lots of strangers. Thus Joshtocon was born.

The Resistance: At work. With a bit of luck, and an error in play from a spy (who rejected a team that would have won them the game) we rebels managed to win on the last team of the last mission.

Zendo x 2: Folks at work are liking it, so it's getting more play there. We played a couple of games after The Resistance.

The game of 49: I'd seen this at Geekway last year. It seemed unlikely to be good, but did get good reports. At the meetup event I had the chance to play, so I did. It's an interesting take on auctions, push your luck, and tic-tac-toe. Winning some early auctions even if they didn't really seem to help in the goal of getting 4-in-a-row was key, because that provides income. Also, some judicious bluffing to make other people pay more for their auctions. I'd managed to get to the point of 3 in a row, and I was pretty sure I had the lead in money, so it was a case of waiting for the right square to come up for auction while hoping that a competitor's final square didn't come up (or the auction was won by someone other than the person needing it to win the game). It eventually came around, and I bid all my cash, which was indeed the most anyone had, giving me the win.

Ingenious: Karyn played this with me and two others. Benjamin helped her play her pieces, and count her points. I got locked out of yellow, so although I got several 18s and a 17, I couldn't get enough to be competitive.

Power Grid using the UK/NI board at the Meetup Anniversary. At four players we decided that the two regions to leave off would be Ireland and Northern Ireland. This made things particularly tight, resulting in one player choking off access to Scotland in the early game. As we entered the end game, things got awfully close. R was clearly out of the running, with not enough cities built. S could power 17, and may have been able to build 17. E could clearly build and power 17. I could power 20, could clearly manage to build 17, and might be able to build an 18th. As things played out, S was unable to build his 17th. E built his 17th with no problem, and didn't attempt to build another as he couldn't power it. I looked hard, but couldn't find a spot that I could afford to build an 18th city. So, it came down to money to break the tie between me and E. It was a 5 Elektro difference... to me! Such a close and tense game! [As an aside, I'm still hoping to play the Power Grid Card Game, as I've heard good things]

How to Serve Man: I'd played this once before, before it was kickstarted. There were a few changes since then; particularly the inclusion of Garnishes (a special recipe card that can be fulfilled at the same time as another recipe of another type - it typically doesn't give points, but instead gives the chef a special ability for the rest of the game), and removing the limitation on the number of people who can visit the raw ingredient locations. It was a lot of fun, and the game ends much quicker than you might expect, so the balance between scoring fewer higher scoring recipes and more lower scoring recipes is quite tight. Really liked it.

Iron Dragon: Benjamin was spending Friday at a friend's house, so we had the opportunity to play some games without being distracted. Josh played with Karyn and me, and it was a good game. Karyn had some luck Dragon contracts, and Josh had two different same-good deliveries to Bluefeld and Octomare, with the Rainbow Bridge having opened, for 60/70, and 60/69 points, which gave him the win.

Tyrants of the Underdark: A deck builder with an area control element on a board. I really liked this, but the theme is dark enough that Karyn probably wouldn't want to play, which is a bit of a shame because the theme is fairly pasted on. I might even like it more than Clank!, but I'd have to play both more to be sure.

Canterbury: I'd been wanting to get this on the table for some time. I'd backed the kickstarter, then decided against it last minute. Some time later, a friend who had got it on the kickstarter decided that he needed money more than the game, so he sold it to me for a considerable discount. But I couldn't seem to get people to try it. Well, this time I did. It's a really nice game with some clever elements. I'm glad I got it!

Pick Up Sticks: The plan had been to bring Benjamin with us on Saturday, and share responsibility for him. However he wasn't well, and we really couldn't take him. So, I stayed home to start with, while Karyn went to the con. I played a simplified Pick Up Sticks with him, which helps with his motor skills. We were going to play more games at home to make a "Benjacon" but he decided he wanted to do some other things, so we read some books and had free play together. Karyn came home while he was napping in the afternoon, allowing me to go to the con for the rest of the day.

Secret Hitler x 3: A good mix of personalities, but Hitler was elected Chancellor in all three games, twice selected by Liberal Presidents. In the third game, Nazi Presidents assassinated Liberals, thus giving the Nazis sufficient power to control the vote, and elect Hitler once again. As I play this more, I realise how there is some incentive for the Liberal presidents to have Nazi policies enacted because of the extra power that gives them. There are certainly complex motives in this on both sides.

Mystic Vale: I really like this. The mechanism of the see-through cards being added to your sleeved base cards to improve the powers is very cool. I think I should put it on my wishlist.

Zendo x 10: Some folks at Joshtocon wanted to play and others were intrigued so people swapped in and out for a while. There was someone who had played before sufficiently to take on the role of the master, so I was able to be the student for a change.

Food Chain Magnate: I'd played this online before and found that experience frustrating because I felt it was often hard to follow everything that happened between times I needed to do something. I even tried several times because everyone raved at it, but I found it so well, boring, that in the last game I played, I decided to fire all the employees and then just pass my turns. No one noticed. I hoped that playing live, and being able to see what everyone was doing and following who fulfilled which house's demand would help. I came away feeling very meh (and quite tired) after nearly 4 hours of game. It felt like I couldn't get any traction, and it's not like I was playing with experienced players, so they didn't have an advantage of knowing strategies. I'm sure it appeals to some people, but it's really not my kind of game.

On my mind: I've been watching Midsomer Murders on Netflix, starting with season 1. Although it's currently in its 19th season, with between 4 and 8 episodes per season it's not completely overwhelming. Really enjoying it.
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14. Board Game: Candy Land [Average Rating:3.18 Overall Rank:19526]
Board Game: Candy Land
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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So I played games this last weekend. 2 games which brings my 2017 total up to 4!

Candyland
Go Fish!

The pastor's kids were very excited to play Candyland with us. It was 4 player, and they play until everybody makes it to the end, and when the first person finishes, they start again since it takes a while for others to catch up. That is how I got 5th place in a 4 player game. I had several turns of moving one space, and in the latter end of the game, repeatedly drew cards depicting a candy that would send me very far back to get to that space.

Go Fish was funny as, we only played with one of the kids (the other was too young), and he kept putting his cards face up on the table or do things like this:
On my turn, I (knowing the kid has a 3 in his hand) ask somebody else "Do you have any 3's?" I'm told to go fish. The kid excitedly exclaims "I have a 3!" Good job, don't tell anybody, and remember who it was that had a 3 so you know who to ask for it on your turn.


Other than that, nothing to update in the past week in terms of games. My wife took the Bar, so Maddy and I got to spend the week together in a hotel while she took the exam. She is very excited to be done. To celebrate, this weekend we went to Universal Hollywood to explore Harry Potter land. We rode all 2 rides, saw all 3 shows, and went into about half of the shops. And we ate at the 3 broomsticks. I heard there were 6 forms of butterbeer and we had 3: frozen, hot, and custard/cream whatever the dessert one was. It was fantastic. We also bought a chocolate frog, which I think is another overpriced product, but I want to recreate some sort of chocolate frogs for a future Harry Potter themed party.

I was also very excited to see my idea for moving photos being enacted via framed screens being used in the waiting line for one of the rides. Obviously I don't have all the resources to recreate it perfectly (I have access to several picture frames because of my grandfather, but I doubt they'll perfect fit the size of my TVs or tablets/laptops).

Then Jennifer and I played a little bit of our Lego Harry Potter game, working towards 100%ing the game (years 5-7). We're going to break out playing The Force Awakens soon. She also looks forward to finally playing RftG: Xeno Invasion, which she got for Christmas, and we're probably going to try to get a group for TIME Stories before we start Seafall.

EDIT: Fire Emblem: Heroes update
The timed out quests I did not complete were the axe and lance lunatic quests which awarded great badges that are farmable and mostly useless to me. For the axe users, even with attack boosts, only one of my units could damage the red unit, and he would get himself killed before actually defeating the unit cause he'd have to attack it 4 times before killing him. So that one was impossible for me. My lance units are no better, so I didn't even bother.

I finally completed the obnoxious 80 arena wins (after a previous 60) quest this morning, and I've completed all the achievable new sibling quests, so my quests are all complete until new ones arrive for the month of March. And Reddit links to a google doc that lists them. My tip? Start leveling up your armored units - although you may still not be able to complete the quest for it. I have 3 armored units.
4* Sheena lvl 25
3* Draug lvl 24
3* Draug lvl 1
So yeah, I'm not even going to bother... I don't have the 4 armored units to attempt the quest.

I didn't realize I was on the lunatic level for the new paralogues quests until I finished the second chapter. So I'm 4 out of 9 complete with 2 of those being on lunatic level, so I'll be able to finish the rest easily enough. Once I complete all 9 of those, it's back to grinding levels on the Training Tower. I've got Olivia up to level 35. I'd like to level 40 her, but aside from dancing units, she's not a very good fighter so it's hard to level her and keep her alive at the same time. I may eventually work towards bringing all my units to level 20 because it is cheap CP to do so, reaching level 20 is relatively easy, and it enables units to be either promoted or they'll at least be partly leveled if I discover I need them for a particular quest goal.
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15. Board Game: Colony [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2003]
Board Game: Colony
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Stick 'Em
Board Game: Paris Connection
Board Game: House of Borgia
Board Game: H.I.D.E.: Hidden Identity Dice Espionage
Board Game: Santorini: Golden Fleece
Board Game: Santorini
Board Game: Peloponnes
Board Game: Colony
Board Game: Ciúb
Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends
Board Game: Tak
Board Game: Parade
Board Game: Abyss


Sticheln
Paris Connection x2
House of Borgia
H.I.D.E.: Hidden Identity Dice Espionage NEW!
Santorini: Golden Fleece NEW!
Santorini x4
Peloponnes x2
Colony x2 NEW!
Ciúb
Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends NEW!
Tak x10
Parade
Abyss x2

Fantastic week of games, between my regular game day, a night with my regular gaming partner, and Robin and Kristen coming to visit from their week in SF!

H.I.D.E.: Hidden Identity Dice Espionage is so far the best version of a light, dice-driven deduction game I could hope for. Players are drafting dice out of a pool in order to try and guess the face/color of each player's hidden die (that they select at the beginning of the round), and if they survive a round trying to get loot cards at one of four locations. It's functional and very well polished (not to mention featuring two of my favorite things in gaming, dice and deduction), but it does seem to lack that soupçon of je ne sais quoi that makes it a great game. Happy to own it, not sure how long it'll survive my collection.

I introduced Robin to the awesomness that is Santorini (and was continually impressed by how the god powers improve the game immeasurably from the base rules), and we gave the Golden Fleece module a try. In these rules, players only play with a single god power that's tied to a Golden Fleece piece that's placed on the board by the last player during setup. If any player starts their turn with a builder adjacent to the fleece, they have access to that god power for their turn. It was an additional spatial element that focused most of the action on a specific place on the board, which switched things up but didn't necessarily convince me that it was a must-play.

We also broke out my new copy of Colony, which we were both interested in taking for a spin. It's not bad for a dice drafter/builder; the decisions are interesting and the buying/upgrading make for an interesting puzzle as you race for VPs. However I'm not sure how well it would fare with 3-4p due to downtime and, like it's brother Favor of the Pharaoh, there isn't really any catch up mechanism if one falls behind. I won't say no to it, but I'm not sure how much longer it has on my shelf.

I have trouble articulating just why it is that Vlaada's games turn me off (the sublime outlier Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization excepted), but my two clearest gripes are that they are both un-intuitive and unfriendly to new players. It's a hard charge to level, because it's not like his designs can't be learnt (and the more familiarity you have with his games, the better you'll do), but they feature such raw disdain for the players that I find it difficult to enjoy them without either a) a large interest in the theme, or b) enough play that I start to feel confident in what I'm doing.

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends is no different, but also with a heaping helping of short-term decision-making in an abstract framework. In theory, I like that the game is about maximizing what you can do on your turn in order to aim for goals (we played the standard mode with the goal cards), and that the effervescent nature of those goals meant that players were only invested in board state for the short time it helped them accomplish them. In practice, I found that the central mechanism of "place pieces down in patterns to summon more pieces and do more stuff" only intermittently clever, in that it was next to impossible to go straight for them through regular play. Only through filling up the board willy-nilly was I able to get enough presence to finally summon the big guns and set up the short-term combos needed to actually start winning points.

The spatial element was awkward and un-intuitive and my eventual win seemed by pure accident. And again! It's not like the game couldn't be learnt: Each faction clearly had a different play-style and familiarity with each faction's deck meant that players could make an easier time of playing well. But as with most of Vlaada's designs, I felt less like I was playing a game and more like I was wrestling a construct. It's certainly challenging, and can be rewarding when you do well, but it's very much not how I enjoy playing games. If I wanted an abstract that emphasized tactical play with a mercurial board state, I'd play the excellent The Duke in a heartbeat over this.
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16. Board Game: Deckbuild Mobile Suit Gundam [Average Rating:6.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Deckbuild Mobile Suit Gundam
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Secret Hitler 2 NEW!
Star Wars: Destiny 2
Arkham Horror: The Card Game 1
Capital Lux 1
Covert 1
Dragonwood 1 NEW!
Isle of Monsters 1 NEW!
Little Circuses 1 NEW!
Outfoxed 1 NEW!

Reviews: Flamme Rouge is alright.

---

Destiny: Apparently I suck at deckbuilding because in 9 plays, I've only won once. Matt's General Grievous / Kylo deck severely wrecks Qui-Gon and Leia. It might be time for the Old Farts to retire.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game: I always feel weird sitting down to solo a game, but then I start it and enjoy the experience quite a bit. See above about deckbuilding. I was trying out my Daisy deck in The Gathering (which I haven't actually decided to move past since each time I've played, I've tried out new characters/decks) and got stomped by the Ghoul Priest.

Huge props to FFG for making deckbuilding in this and Destiny a fairly easy and straightforward experience (unlike when I tried to build decks in Magic, which was daunting and awful).

Dragonwood: Gamewright sent me this and Outfoxed when I solicited for copies to consider in my study. As a family game, this is fine. As entertainment for a gamer, it's lackluster. It was a strong contender for being in the study except it's got some awkward permanent ability cards that even Matt and I were confused on.

Outfoxed: Like Dragonwood, we weren't playing this for the game. (I mean, Matt and I did deduce who did it, so at least we have the mental abilities of a 5-year-old.) For those of you with kids in this age range, this game is adorable. My concern was whether or not the game would be interesting for kids over about age 7, but Matt felt pretty strongly about it being included in the study since it's easy to play, understand, and more appealing than the fantasy-themed Dragonwood. I also think it might work well since it's a simple co-op, which might help families be able to tackle Forbidden Island. My R.A.'s are working through playing the games themselves to give opinions on how difficult they are to learn. One of them said the rules to Forbidden Island were long and it took them two tries to play it. She's a smart, dedicated, and motivated girl, so if she's having trouble with it, then we have to be aware of that if we're dumping the games on families and saying "Play!".

Secret Hitler: This was amusing enough, but it really just felt like just another social deduction game (JASDG?). I think I'd for sure pick it over The Resistance or Coup. It's about tied with Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, which means I'm fine playing it again, especially depending on the circumstanes, but probably won't ask for it.

Isle of Monsters: I don't know how to describe this. It's like rock, paper, scissors meets Pokemon? Basically, you're picking food or monsters from either your left or right side, then you'll use your monsters to do a rock, paper, scissors battle against your neighbors (7 Wonders style). It's cute and lightweight, and didn't outstay its welcome too much, but I'm not sure there's a reason to try the game. I did win though, so best game evar.

Little Circuses: The was a major flub in the rulebook in which the descriptions for what the icons do were swapped. We only found out, via BGG, midway through the game. Consequently, it kind of fucked up that first play quite a bit. As best as I can tell, the game is okay at best. This is a review copy, so I can't imagine giving it after a 3-star rating, if even.

---

On My Mind:

Matt and I have been watching Ultimate Beastmaster on Netflix (which is more or less America Ninja Warrior). It's totally dumb, but it's entertaining to watch people face plant and fall, laughing at them while you eat frozen pizza on the couch, and critique these crazy buff people's strategies.
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17. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:18]
Board Game: Brass: Lancashire
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Board Game: Escape Room: The Game
Board Game: Evolution
Board Game: Brass: Lancashire
Board Game: Tavarua


My Friday night board game night had only one person show up this time. We played:

 6   Escape Room: The Game – We did the second scenario (Virus) with 3 players and it was pretty great. It was challenging enough that it wasn't always clear what to do, but we weren't ever just staring at each other in complete confusion for 10-15 minutes and waiting for clues. Each person had at least one instance of looking at something that had been stumping the other two and saying "what about X?" and being right. I will say that I think (at least for this scenario) that doing with with more than 3 people probably would just lead to people sitting on their hands, but for 3 it was great. If the next one goes this well I'll definitely bump the ranking.

 8   Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation – Played this with my friend Heather and won by getting Bilbo to the shire. I feel like everyone I teach always wants to start as the bad guys. What's up with that?

On Sunday I went to a friend's monthly game day and played:

 10   Brass – I taught this to 3 players. It's been a couple years since I'd gotten to play so teaching was not the smoothest, but once we got going it was pretty good. One player said that as I was teaching she was like "I don't feel like I have any idea what's happening in this game" but after a few turns things started to click. Everyone basically left the Cotton Mills to me and I was able to get down 2 3s by the end of the canal phase and all 3 4s by the end of the game, which led to an easy win (and even being rusty an experienced player damn well should crush 3 new players at this).

 8   Evolution x2 NEW! – I'd just listened to Charlie and Raf talking about it on ding and dent, so I was excited to try it. I thought it was pretty great, though I can totally see why Charlie (or was it Raf – I have trouble keeping their voices straight) said they would basically always play with the Climate expansion – I definitely wanted more ways to put pressure on people at times. We played 5-handed. Game 1 there was just one predator for most of the game and then a couple turns from the end I turned my big-bodied guy into a predator and literally ate him for the win. Game 2 I learned that the problem with ignoring body size (and defending yourself in other ways) is that you aren't a credible threat to suddenly turn predator, which seems pretty important. I think my extended family would dig this.

 4   Tavarua NEW! – The theme is pretty cool. The 'balancing' mechanic is nice, but the game seriously needs another round or two of trimming. The box said 45 minutes and we called it quits at around 2 hours when we were around halfway through the wave deck that functions as the game timer. I expect there's about 45 worthwhile minutes in the game, but I don't want to play a 2-1/2 hour game to find them. Too bad because this game *looks* cool.
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18. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:135]
Board Game: Hansa Teutonica
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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Microbadge: Keyper fanMicrobadge: Hansa Teutonica fanMicrobadge: Smell your way to victory!Microbadge: Dinosaur IslandMicrobadge: GameChat League - Mafia Division: "A mob is forming."
Board Game: Hansa Teutonica: East Expansion
Board Game: Puerto Rico
Board Game: Wombat Rescue
Board Game: Spyfall 2
Board Game: PitchCar
Board Game: Hansa Teutonica: Britannia
Board Game: Galaxy Trucker
Board Game: The Duke
Board Game: Codenames


 8   Hansa Teutonica: East Expansion
 9   Puerto Rico
 8   Wombat Rescue
 N/A   Spyfall 2 x20 NEW!
 9   PitchCar x3
 9   Hansa Teutonica: Britannia
 8   Galaxy Trucker
 10   The Duke x2
 5   Codenames x2


Hansa Teutonica: East Expansion -- If I wasn't a completionist, I'd just sell my copy off at this point. I don't enjoy this map at all. The game is not focused, and does not differ from the base game enough to warrant playing it. I always would rather either play the base game or the much more compelling Britannia map. The parts of the East Expansion which are neat (like sea routes) were reimplemented in Britannia anyway.

Hansa Teutonica: Britannia -- This is the best Hansa Teutonica map. The decisions you are forced to make in this game are much more compelling. It also actively addresses the "Grab all the actions!" strategy with a clever solution. Sure, there are three routes to the actions city (as was true in East Expansion), but only one is available in the beginning of the game. That route is 4 long, so the earliest you could ever expect to get your third action is the third round. Also, everyone else is going to fight for it, so it's unlikely you're going to get it then.

I went straight for books here. Rather than claim the upgrade, I claimed the city because it requires Pink privilege for the second route. I made about 10 points off of that route throughout the game because this map strongly encourages people to upgrade that ability. I maxed out my book action myself, which I used to either clog other peoples' routes, or claim easy cities with bonus markers/plates on them. For whatever reason, the guy who had Double-Blue placement chose not to start placing plates into that region for himself, which would have be extremely difficult to counter.

Puerto Rico -- I was the first person with a coffee plant, which was awesome. But then the guy before me took Settler the next time and grabbed coffee before I could build a roaster (ew). So, I invested in an Office but it was too late. I spent too much on the office and it killed my economy and I never recovered. I ended dead last. However, I will say I was impressed that our 5 player game lasted < 60 minutes including rules explanation for a new player.

Wombat Rescue -- Yep, I'm still enjoying this one a lot, Grace. I chose to push my Momma Wombat further out, ignoring the close-in baby in order to expand my scent network in the mid game. As a result, I was captured by the Dingo a few times, but I was the only one who did not struggle to get to my furthest-out baby wombat in the end game. So, despite active sabotage by others (read: pushing me into Dingos), I was able to be the slightly-better negligent momma wombat.

On My Mind:
We threw my birthday party on Saturday. It's the first time that many of my friends have seen my house, or met Marion + Rufus. We spent the past two weeks painting our front room + dining room. While it was a lot of work, I am happy with the result (+ the rearranging of furniture we've done to transform that front room into an actual usable space). I was a bit nervous about Rufus because he can still be a bit jumpy when he's excited. So, because we're those people, we took him to doggy day care the day before. He came back exhausted from playing for 8 hours straight. Best decision ever. He was perfectly behaved the whole time and never even got into anyone's food.

For the party itself, most of my friends are gamers. So, after some mixing and mingling they grabbed games off my shelf and settled in for some gaming. I wish I'd taken a picture of Captain Sonar happening. I did play a few lighter games (such as Spyfall2, which I received as a present), but I figured maybe the host shouldn't sit and play games for 3 hours while non-gamers are also there. From my perspective, things went very well, and everyone seemed to have a great time. I'm happy with how everything turned out.
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19. Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.45 Overall Rank:6]
Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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Microbadge: Babylon 5 fanMicrobadge: Gaia Project fanMicrobadge: Nemo's War (second edition) fanMicrobadge: Dawn of the Zeds 3rd EditionMicrobadge: Mage Knight Board Game fan
 10  Through the ages: A new story of civilization x1 (3 plays so far)
 8  Néfertiti x1 New!
 8  At the gates of Loyang x1 (3 plays so far)
 5  Kanagawa x1 New!

On TTA: 4 players games, 6 hours. What else ?

On Néfertiti : 4 players. It is all about elegance. Pure dead brilliant.

On Loyang : one solo play. I have reached the 16th spot on the prosperity track (0 money left), still without a loan.
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20. Board Game: Texas Glory [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:5404]
Board Game: Texas Glory
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Happy Independence Day y'all!

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