GCL Mafia - 344: Doing Burnouts
Raf Cordero
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Bolingbrook
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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 August 21 - 27, 2017 This Year of Our Lord.
• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
• Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• A weekly game 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, with members offering suggestions.

Current Roster:
touchstonethefool
cferejohn
jshufelt
fdubois
timotheous
charlest
Happymrdave
tallgrant
annowme
Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
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1. Board Game: Burn Out! [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Burn Out!
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Let's talk burnout! Any time you're as heavily into a hobby or activity as we are, there is risk of burning yourself out. Have you ever played too many games too close to one another and became sick of games? How'd you pull yourself out?
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2. Board Game: Big Time Professional Rasslin [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Board Game: Big Time Professional Rasslin
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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What about away from games? Work can pile on stress or responsibilities and family can put huge demands on your time and attention? Have you ever just wanted or needed to get away from it all?
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3. RPG Item: CMP 2011-05: Burn Notice [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 Missing Image
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Ha. I'm leaving the placeholder image.

A Burn Notice is a document put out by an intelligence agency disavowing knowledge or responsibility of an asset. It can also mean that the subject of the notice is unreliable and can no longer be trusted. Using a broad interpretation, put out your board gaming burn notice. What's dead to you?
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4. Board Game: RoboRally: Crash and Burn [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked]
Board Game: RoboRally: Crash and Burn
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Somethings, like toast, are awful when burned. Others, like snippy pop stars, are better when burned.

What do you prefer burned?
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5. Board Game: This War of Mine: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:148]
Board Game: This War of Mine: The Board Game
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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This War of Mine: The Board Game x3 (new!)
The Expanse Board Game x2
Bugs in the Kitchen x2 (new!)
Folklore: The Affliction x1 (new!)


TWoM
Love this game. It's accomplished largely what The Grizzled and The Mushroom Eaters similarly did for me, and I view it as art. It's not a fun game in the traditional sense, it's harrowing and bleak. But it does something on an emotional level that's difficult to get from this medium. I tweeted that I was playing this a bunch last week and I found myself being more empathetic and compassionate. That's pretty unbelievable, not because I'm a huge jerk, but because something like a game can influence me in that way.

Hats off to the design team and publisher. This is one of my top games of the year.

It does have some problems though. It's very tedious in its requirement for managing resources/tokens/cards. You're constantly shuffling and organizing little cardboard bits. It can pull you out of the game occasionally and it feels like busy work at times.

Also, the rules are not presented in a standard way. The journal kind of walks you through a turn and you learn as you go. It's a pretty straightforward game for its density, and I love this format. There's something special going on here in that it keeps you in the dark and you're not really comfortable with the game at the outset. This is a clever way to instill the theme with that sense of loss. That may sound ridiculous but I think it was absolutely intentional. I let go and really enjoyed the ride.

Expanse
Still great. Another top game of the year, although it's overshadowed by Gloomhaven, TWoM, and Sidereal Confluence for me. Right up there with WEDS though. Still wish the visual presentation was a bit stronger and it was a bigger overall package, but mechanisms are great.

Bugs in the Kitchen
I had bought this awhile ago and never pulled it out due to the 6+ age recommendation on the box. Decided to do it anyway this weekend and while Lila didn't get the strategy completely, she handled it well enough and thought it was really fun. She loves the hex bug.

This is a ton of fun and I found myself enjoying it much more so than Enchanted Princess Cupcake Party.

Folklore: The Affliction
There's some very interesting stuff going on here. This is the table top game that most closely resembles a traditional D&D RPG. It's as if someone took Gloomhaven, Ameritrashed it, and made it much more RPG-like. You have an area map you travel and have road encounters on, there's directed story in a manual, and you pull out map tiles for adventure/combat mode.

The story here is the center of play. You'll make skill checks outside of board play (much like an RPG), it will offer you choices whose outcomes will affect later encounters, and it's all very neat. There's a ton of character customization, levelling up, tons of dice rolling. It has a large stack of enemy cards like Gloomhaven, and this one actually comes with miniatuers. They're not particularly great miniatures but they're solid.

I really like how you pull out a single map tile to battle on. The game has a lot of stuff, a lot of tokens, minis, cards, etc. - yet it feels more direct and elegant than a similar FFG game. It's certainly not an elegant game, but transitioning between the different modes of play (area map, battle map) is very fast and seamless.

I also love that the setting is basically Ravenloft, which was my AD&D and 3.0 jam.

Only reservations about the game are that replayability is not high - you can replay stories and make different choices but it won't be as fun - and I kind of dislike how the miniatures are larger scale than the artwork on the tiles. That's something small but it bugs me.


On My Mind
Picking up development on Red Meridian in a big way. Finalizing the latest iteration and I've sent the rules off to Grey Fox so they can give them a once over. It's going into blind playtesting after Essen. Assembling the newest version now and going to start playtesting more regularly on my end. Nothing major in the game will likely change, but balance will be tweaked in the scenarios.

The two Ascendancy expansions will arrive this week. Looking forward to playing that game again.

I opened 7th Continent last night and wow. I was going to avoid sleeving the entire thing, but after nicking a card from light handling I caved. Ordered more Mayday sleeves. Ugh.

Game of Thrones finale was solid. Will be sad to see the show go after next season.

We started watching The Sinner with Jessica Beal, which is pretty good. Weird seeing her in such a different role.
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6. Board Game: Space Empires: 4X [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:486] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Space Empires: 4X
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Board Game: Dominion
Board Game: Space Empires: 4X


 9   Race for the Galaxy x2
 9   Dominion x2
 9   Space Empires: 4X

Wasn't expecting a ton of gaming, but a bunch came together. Here we go:

Space Empires 4x: After a long wait, I got the reprint in my hands and on the table. Game was fun- we played a 4 player game that was essentially 2-2 player games, with the winner being the first to destroy their opponents home shipyards. I got a big economic jump due to my experience (both with Starcraft/RTS games and with my prior play), and colonized a lot faster than my opponents. What I felt were the two best developed powers were both in my subgame, and we had quite a few big battles as I wore him down. I won due to the economic advantage, but I can already tell this opponent is going to be quite the problem next time. Which will happen- the hidden information, tech tree and fleet building in this game were pretty well loved by everybody.

Race for the Galaxy: I've recently reconnected with a friend from my old high school gaming group (which primarily sat around and talked RPGs without ever doing much). He's been a heavy MTG player since release, but has been looking at board games lately. This one came out. AS usual for a new player he struggled a bit with the iconography, but I he definitely had a better handle on it by the end. Don't know if he'll get the plays- this was a super popular game 5 years ago, but seems to have been supplanted by other things more recently in the popular gaming crowd.

Dominion: With his Magic background I insisted he try this. It took him about half a game to get his head around it. Then you could see the wheels turning, and he building a heavy action Village deck and won the second game. This was right up his alley. His Magic roots show though- he was really surprised when I told him the expansions included 15-25 action cards. I suspect he's just used to Wizards taking money for minimal game.

New game get: Due to Hurricane Harvey, UPS notified me Friday that my new game wasn't being delivered until Monday (today). So imagine my surprise when Friday evening they knocked on the door and dropped this off:
Board Game: Battle Above the Clouds


Time to get out the counters and clip.

On my mind
Here I am- Rock you like a hurricane: We're far enough inland that Harvey is just dumping rain, and it's spaced enough that we're not having anything too devastating for floods in the greater Austin area. I'm tracking 5.5" of rain at my place since Harvey rain bands moved in Friday night. I do have friends in Rockport and Houston. Rockport has a lot of wind damage, but the real mess of it is in Houston. And the event is still getting worse- I don't think their conditions will get better until Wednesday or Thursday.

Band band band: Rehearsal starts Thursday! Huzzah! This really is the best summer of practice I've ever put in (I hit my practice goal every week except for the one I spent in Virginia), and I'm really excited to sit and play in an ensemble again!

Are you ready for some football: Texas v. Maryland early on Saturday. Was a bit worried about an 11 am kick, but with Harvey we'll have lower temperatures. And I think I'll be ready to see some sunshine. I start bulking up on water this week!
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7. Board Game: Sorry! [Average Rating:4.51 Overall Rank:19520]
Board Game: Sorry!
Timothy Hunt
United States
St Louis
Missouri
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Board Game: Camel Up
Board Game: Dominion
Board Game: Zendo
Board Game: Color Wheel
Board Game: Snorta!
Board Game: Animal Upon Animal
Board Game: Mystic Vale
Board Game: Beyond Balderdash
Board Game: Snap
Board Game: Campy Creatures


N/A  Camel Up
10  Dominion
10  Zendo x14
N/A  Color Wheel x3
N/A  Snorta!
8  Animal Upon Animal x2
N/A  Mystic Vale
5  Beyond Balderdash NEW!
N/A  Snap x2
N/A  Campy Creatures x2 NEW!

Sorry I've been absent for a while. Real life got hectic and this was the first thing to give. So here's my gaming for a month or so.

Still playing Zendo, still not sick of it, Charlie

Campy Creatures is something one of my Wednesday lunch group got at Gen Con. He got it for the art, which is lovely, and it's a reasonable rock-paper-scissors type game. We certainly had a lot of fun second-guessing each other

On My mind

We took Benjamin down to Ste Genevieve, MO, last Monday for the Eclipse. Ste Gen was right on the centre line, and got a full 2m40s of totality. It was an awesome experience, no photo can ever do it justice, and I absolutely want to do it again. Conflicted about 2024 - There's either Cape Girardeau (maybe 2.5 hours from home) with 4m or more of totality, or Rochester NY where my in-laws live, with "only" 3m30 or so of totality. And if anyone would like 6m02s, consider 2045, with Nassau, Bahamas as your destination!

The other big thing on my mind, and part of the reason I've been busy is I learnt that my contract which ends on September 29 will not be renewed. Not because of anything I've done, just a small tightening of the belt at the company I'm contracted to. So, once again, I'm on the job hunt. I don't think I'll have a big problem finding something, but I just hate the process.

And as if that weren't enough, I'm taking on some more responsibilities at my church. It's a fairly large area, so much so that I'm going to start out by taking time to see where we currently are, before making improvements on the processes. Exciting and challenging times are ahead.
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8. Board Game: The Colonists [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:414]
Board Game: The Colonists
Joseph
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Board Game: Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary
Board Game: La Isla
Board Game: Thunderstone: Starter Set
Board Game: The Colonists
Board Game: The Blood of an Englishman
Board Game: Fugitive


 7   Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary NEW!
 8   La Isla NEW!
 8   Thunderstone: Starter Set NEW!
 8   The Colonists NEW!
 7   The Blood of an Englishman x2 NEW!
 8   Fugitive NEW!


Every game I played this week was new to me! Including a couple that I've been wanting to try very badly.


Notre Dame

I finally got to play this after I've been itching to play for a very, very long time. It... was good. It definitely wasn't what I hoped for though. I think this is a game that was probably groundbreaking when it came out, but now that drafting has been done to death over and over again, it's merely good. I suspect this is one game that hasn't held up over the years.


La Isla

Another "need to play". I didn't actually have very high hopes about this one, but it exceeded my expectations. Make no doubt, this game is random, but the cards give decent variety. I would firmly categorize this in the "Tactical" category. There's slight strategy, but your ability to execute it does rest firmly in the cards you get. And I think you need to make the best of what you have instead of trying to force what you what to do.

Thunderstone: Starter Set

I don't think this game would wholly replace Dominion, (if I still had Dominion). But I did like it way more than most other Deck Builders. It did intrigue me enough for looking into Thunderstone Quest. I enjoyed the leveling up system, and the ability to prepare or rest. Very nice ways to mitigate luck, and set up for a better turn. I didn't like how much the Dungeon dictated the pace and length of the game. The game overstayed its welcome because of it. And it also handed me a victory through dumb luck. My opponent tried to gamble on card draws and fight bigger enemies a lot; he lost every time. That would bring in weaker opponent for me to slaughter and gain XP. Which allowed me to level up, and take on bigger stuff. At the end of the game, I had a deck in place that would reliably get me 25+ damage, being able to take on any monster, and he was struggling to take on any level 2+ monster.

The Colonists

2 player game of and we played Eras 1-3. Set up takes a very long time. This game presents so many options in the later eras, it's a bit overwhelming. I really enjoyed it, but I also love seeing things grow, and this has it in two different ways. The main board and your own player board. Ultimately though, the game is really just a cumbersome logistics puzzle. The game is actually pretty straightforward. Once you learn movement rules, you can play it very similarly as a worker placement game. You move to a place, and take that place's action. The challenge to it is that you MUST take the action. Which sometimes means getting resources you don't want, which is a real monkey wrench in the logistics puzzle. In the later eras, things really bog down as both the logistics puzzle grows to help accommodate the new tier of resources and the locations populate. I would say Era 3 took as much time as Era 1 and Era 2 combined, despite the same number of actions you can take.

The Blood of an Englishman

This is *almost* a card version of an asymmetrical pseudo-abstract strategy. I rather enjoyed it, despite losing both times. I wasn't blown away by it, but it was novel.

Edit: I forgot a game!
Fugitive

I think I should stop underestimating Tim Fowers. I didn't like Wok Star very much, but every other game of his that I've played has been better than I expected. This is a really well done two-player hidden movement game. It's super straightforward, and it has enough to let both players feel clever.

OMM

I got a box of games I ordered MONTHS ago. I'm excited about what in it:

I finally got my first "Not part of the core" thing for Arkham Horror: TCG with the Curse of the Rougarou. I realize that I need to find a good storage solution for this game if I want to really keep playing it and invest in it. Anybody have any good recommendations?

Fury of Dracula, 3rd Edition. I don't know if I'm excited about this game or not. I ordered it when it was still in stock everywhere. I love Dracula, but I don't know if the game really captures what I like about Dracula. I might keep it in shrink and see about selling it off and using that money for new games.

Wasteland Express Delivery Service came in. I was super stoked to open it up and see what's up. Holy hell. The production quality is amazing. There are so many pieces. It took me a couple hours to punch it and organize it all. I love the inserts. Hopefully the game play holds up!
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9. Board Game: Alhambra: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:3187]
Board Game: Alhambra: The Card Game
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Modern Art
Board Game: I'm the Boss!: The Card Game
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game: Old Saloon
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game
Board Game: Alhambra: The Card Game
Board Game: Nefarious
Board Game: Fuji Flush
Board Game: DVONN


Modern Art x2
I'm the Boss!: The Card Game
BANG! The Dice Game – Old Saloon x2
BANG! The Dice Game x2
Alhambra: The Card Game x2
Nefarious
Fuji Flush x2
DVONN

No new plays, some quick hits on the old...

- Modern Art has been a huge hit with everyone I've played it with, with some folks of the most recent group immediately ordering a copy off of Amazon after we played. I think the thing that drives Dave nuts (that values are totally up in the air until the round is over) makes this game extremely approachable. I might even go so far as to call this game Anti-AP. I lost to an experienced player the first play and won the second because enough people were bankrupting themselves buying their own paintings that I made enough off of sales to secure the win.

- I'm the Boss!: The Card Game is cute and frothy, I liked the very low-stakes and gentle nature of the negotiations. If I have one complaint it's that the game is a little *too* incidental, but this additional play at least confirmed that it's a good time.

- I really dig the Arrow of the Indian Chief and the Loudmouth/Coward dice that BANG! The Dice Game: Old Saloon adds to the base game, they're simple enough that I can include them in games with newbs and not cause problems. Both plays were with 4p, so no Ghost player. EDIT: The second play actually saw a Sheriff/Renegade showdown that went down to the wire, very exciting!

- Alhambra: The Card Game is drastically better at 4p or less. I'm a fan of it as a nifty (if mildly chaotic) filler.

- I'm warming up quite a bit to Nefarious, though it's still mildly awkward to teach the intended audience of not-hardcore-gamers (I found I had to really proctor the game to ensure everyone took their actions in order, and the timing of the invention phase caused the usual amount of trouble). That said, it's a reasonably fast piece of filler that handles up to 6p admirably.

- Fuji Flush is awesome as always, great filler.

- I'm in the "growing-pains" part of learning/teaching DVONN, where I have just enough experience familiarity to teach it without trouble but a heck of a time doing that AND playing reasonably well. It's going to take at least 5 more plays before I start to feel comfortable with it as a whole, which is par for the course considering my experiences with YINSH.
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10. Board Game: Dynamite Nurse [Average Rating:6.19 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.19 Unranked]
Board Game: Dynamite Nurse
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Codenames Duet 6 NEW!
Doodle Quest 2 NEW!
Hostage Negotiator 2 NEW!
That's a Question! 2 NEW!
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Lost in Time and Space 1
Caverna: Cave vs Cave 1 NEW!
Glass Road 1
Kaleidos 1
Potion Explosion + Potion Explosion: The Fifth Ingredient NEW!
Raiders of the North Sea 1 NEW!
Time's Up! Title Recall! 1
Vegas + Las Vegas Boulevard 1
Whistle Stop 1 NEW!

Tons of new plays this week, mostly Gen Con stuff.

Doodle Quest: I picked this up in a math trade because I thought it looked amusing. And it was. My parents (and Matt) enjoyed it.

Hostage Negotiator: I commented on my play in last week's list.

me wrote:
I like the gameplay. The pseudo-deckbuilding aspect is interesting, but you can definitely get screwed by the dice rolls. The theme does come through, but I agree it's unsettling. (I'm amused by as well as cringe with the one abductor who is the disgruntled pass-over-for-tenure professor.)
I could see this as a nice go-to solo game, but what if the dice aren't balanced? #shitbggerssay

That's A Question!: This is more of an activity than a game. It's What You Rather... with Dixit-like scoring. It's amusing as a conversation starter and fine to play casually with family (or people you know fairly well). For example, we had mini discussions ensue from one another's answers, such as when I said the person who takes up two parking spaces is worse than the person who steals coins from the blind guy's Salvation Army bin. I just think the former is more indicative of a greater, habitual, lifestyle asshole.

Caverna: Cave vs. Cave: I really enjoyed this. It's another great addition to Rosenberg's 2-player line. I like how these games he takes one thing and says "okay, do this". In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, it was animal breading; in Le Havre: Inland Port, it was the buildings/goods generation; and in Patchwork it was the Tetris thing. I know I've mentioned that I didn't like my one play of Caverna a few years back, but now I'm thinking I need to give it another try.

Potion Explosion: The Fifth Ingredient: There's different professors you can choose to have in the game and they have some ongoing effect that changes the game. For example, our guy made it so every time your flask was full at the end of your turn, you could take a marble from the Ghastly Cauldron (where the white, wild marble) is kept. This prevents the white marbles from flooding the dispenser from the beginning of the game, but add a nice little convenience once they're in there. There are also new potions, which is always nice to mix things up. Overall, probably not a necessary expansion, but I could see myself playing with it from now on.

Raiders of the North Sea: So this pretty much blew me away. It was really good. Turns are quick, the game flies by, and there's really lots of things to consider. Very cool and I probably need to buy a copy.

Whistle Stop: On the other hand, this was so underwhelming. It's Tsuro with more shit on top. It doesn't do any of its parts well: the puzzle, the stocks, the pick-up-and-deliver. It just left me a sense of being annoyed on my turns, which is extra shitty since individual turns felt slow. You can only plan so much when it's not your turn since others' trains and tiles will affect where you can go. We played this right after Raiders, making its sluggishness feel even more so considering how snappy the other game was.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Lost in Time and Space: I finished up The Dunwich Legacy. I keep telling myself I'm going to build a new deck and start The Path to Carcosa with, but then I remember that I'm lazy. I still have the standalone scenarios to do too.

---

On My Mind:

Matt started school today. For those not on Facebook.

Other than that, my semester already feels like it's in full gear. Luckily, the more stuff I have to do for school, the more likely I am to procrastinate it and write reviews instead.

Oh and we started watching The Defenders. Because I'm a quitter, I never finished Daredevil season 2 or Luke Cage and Iron Fist season 1. It's not too hard to keep up with what's happening though. I'm mostly just here for Jessica Jones and watching Luke Cage punch Iron Fist in the face. I don't know if the character is supposed to be like this or not, but Danny Rand sucks so hard.
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11. Board Game: Wolf's Lair (fan expansion for T.I.M.E Stories) [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Board Game: Wolf's Lair (fan expansion for T.I.M.E Stories)
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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This is a fan expansion for TIME Stories, and might possibly be my favorite scenario so far. This is a sequel to the fan expansion Broken Peace. Playing the prequel is not required, but adds a little extra flavor and fun.

This scenario takes place on a Nazi base during World War II. It also features in its own way chapter progression. I think it took us a total of 4 runs to complete in its entirety. This was also a playtest, so I am providing feedback to the designer as well.

I thought this may have been my favorite scenario so far. Jennifer disagreed, she really liked Lumen Fidei because of how well it's tying in the overarching TIME Stories story line.

The basic premise from the start (leaving out the tiny spoiler of the conclusion of Broken Peace) - you lose contact with the TIME Agency and the receptacles you are inhabiting are Nazi loyalists. In addition to your health, there's a sort of loyalty health which is your receptacle trying to fight your control and be loyal to the Nazi regime.
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12. Board Game: Seikatsu [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:1739]
Board Game: Seikatsu
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Board Game: Yogi
Board Game: Indulgence
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Undimensioned and Unseen: Mythos Pack
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Board Game: Runebound (Third Edition): Unbreakable Bonds
Board Game: Runebound (Third Edition)
Board Game: Seikatsu


Yogi
Indulgence
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Undimensioned and Unseen NEW!
Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Runebound (Third Edition): Unbreakable Bonds NEW!
Runebound (Third Edition)
Seikatsu NEW!

Arkham Horror LCG
We finally returned to this masterpiece and of course it'd been so long we dramatically screwed up the rules. Matt misread the setup instructions (easy enough to adjust for mid-game) but the big one was missing the rule printed on the monster card about how you destroy them. It isn't the game's fault, it's ours, but there are a lot of things you can misread or rules introduced for 1 scenario that never reappear. It's part of what makes the scenarios all so different and capable of providing unique experiences but it is just a little frustrating. No bother, we still had a blast and all love playing. Looking forward to finishing this campaign and moving on to carcosa.

Indulgence
The dads liked it, Chris especially. I'm going to land squarely on the positive side of the reaction to this game.

Runebound 3rd
The new single/coop expansion is something that was needed, I guess, to make the game technically solo/coop. I'd played it that way in the past and lost nothing for the experience but this does add a few clever (and needed) mechanics. The big thing are new combat boards and tokens for different monster types. Monsters have always have keyword types (Warrior, Trickster, etc) and now each type has it's own set of tokens and combat rules to differentiate them. Smaller, but also pretty cool are "envelopes" which are cards you can set aside with a skill, gold, or Rumor-keyword card if you're in a city. Anyone else in a city or town can then take it; as if you mailed them something. The new scenarios are really hard (and a bit fiddly) but overall it's a good expansion.

Seikatsu
A new one from IDW that they gave me at Gen Con. It's an interesting set-collection abstracty game, but the setting is stamped on so well that you sort of forget about the mechanics. It plays best at 3p, which is also kind of unique. The board is a grid of circle spaces and you take turns placing down a plastic disc that has a bird and type of flower on it. When you place a bird you immediately score for all birds of the same type that are adjacent (a flock). At the end of the game you score for the largest set of flower types in each column of spaces relative to your perspective. Since each player is sitting at a different corner, the makeup of their columns is different than the makeup of your columns. It's pretty clever, as you have to weigh placing a tile that will boost your score with which of your opponent's columns you're playing into. Played super fast, solo mode was < 10 minutes but I thought it was really good for a 30 minute game. Any game that can make me ignore set-collection is a good one.

On my Mind
I have a huge pile of games to review and articles to write, with 4 or 5 accepted pitches to G&S but I'm feeling really energized by it coming out of Gen Con. Our 50th episode of Ding & Dent is also coming out this week. Super crazy but excited and proud of that accomplishment.

I had grand plans to finally get back to more frequent posting here, and then Reddit fell into absurdity and I disconnected from the internet a lot. Last week saw a fight between mods spill into public with 2 of them being summarily dismissed for disagreeing with the head mod. Some users in /r/metaboardgames essentially revolted, calling for the head mod to resign and stepdown. I don't know why I can't just ignore that stuff and move on but I was running around behind the scenes talking to people trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Still don't know, but it was stressful.

Less stressful: i bought a fountain pen and have been having fun with new inks and stuff like that.

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13. Board Game: Dominion: Prince Promo Card [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion: Prince Promo Card
Philip Newman
United States
Plano
Texas
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Plays since August 21, 2017

 10.   Pandemic x15 (iPhone)
 10.   Dominion x14 (DO)

Lots of app plays this week and nothing else. Too busy/tired to play at night (plus Luke doesn't want to go to sleep before 9 usually), though we do have games arriving sometime this week so that should change soon.

Pandemic results:

5G 5V 6G 6V
2P 3-0 (5E) 1-4 (5E)
3-2 (4E) 1-2 (4E) 1-4 (4E) 1-4 (4E)
3P 2-1 (5E) 0-5 (5E)
4-1 (6E) 5-5 (6E) 7-3 (6E) 1-9 (6E)
4P 1-2 (5E)
4-1 (8E) 1-9 (8E) 2-3 (8E)


Last week's games were all at Normal difficulty. I think I'm going to get all of the categories with OtB Events/Roles up to 10 games each, and see how everything compares at that point. I was certainly not expecting to be doing so much better at 3P than 2P, but I've decided that with 2 there is a lot of potential for cards to not fall right and with limited options for fixing that.

I'm 12-4 in Dominion games since I started playing again, though they reworked the rating system so I'm not playing top players yet. I've had a few moments of complete stupidity (forgetting Prince could only be used on $4 or less cost; trying to race Familiar before opponent got to Champion (and Teacher!)). I also won a game by a point after opponent trashed a Copper and cost himself 3 VP from Palace (though I could have gotten another 3 VP myself by buying a Copper at the end, so I probably win anyway). Overall, enjoyable games.

My main complaint with the interface right now is that I've clicked a few times instead of right clicking (to view a card) and ended up buying something unintended. It's also not immediately obvious how to view certain things (Tavern, for example). Hopefully I'll get all that worked out before the tournament.
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14. Video Game: Quiplash [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:4927]
From gallery of Annowme
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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Push Cubes. Blow Stuff Up.
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Board Game: Fields of Arle
Board Game: Blood Rage
Board Game: Chicago Express
Board Game: Innovation Deluxe
Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy
Board Game: Flip Ships
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Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories
From gallery of Annowme


Fields of Arle
Blood Rage
Chicago Express
Innovation Deluxe
Treasure Hunter NEW!
Roll for the Galaxy
Flip Ships NEW!
T.I.M.E Stories x3 NEW!
Quiplash x5 NEW!




Big ol' game night with friends in Pittsburgh! Also I lost a lot to Anastasia!



Fields of Arle
Yes. Yes. Yes. While I absolutely prefer the tighter/”difficult” Rosenberg games (Agricola/Ora et Labora/At the Gates of Loyang), his open/sandbox games are quite good, too. The more I play Fields of Arle and A Feast for Odin, the more I see that the tightness I like in more transparent designs is here, too, but in a different fashion. Whereas obvious constraints (penalties/harvests/entry costs) are not present in the broader games, action economy is the constraining currency. Fields of Arle is brutal insofar as it asks you what you want to do, then shows you how arduous it will be to get it done. The buildings offering few or no permanent bonuses exacerbates this, as the “engine” can’t fire very well over the long haul. Then, of course, your opponent is easily tracking your progression and blocking what you need, since you need ALL of the things... but you can only have so many! Mechanical concepts aside, this was a tight session. I went all-in for textiles and did everything I could to get side-stepped bonuses to weaving looms and wool/flax income. Anastasia went big into livestock, but she monopolized vehicles as much as possible to both shut me out of my ability to refine my textiles and also to max out her travel tracks and afford big buildings with refined construction material. We were always up in each other’s proverbial bidniss, and there was plenty of frustration to go around. In the end, I lost by a single point after lots and lots of course correction on both sides.

Blood Rage
When I suggested we play Fields of Arle, Anastasia said she wanted to play Blood Rage. I had the next day off, so we said, “why not play both?”

From gallery of Annowme

Well, we did! You all know I am an advocate for two-player games all day, every day, and I know the community consensus tends to relegate Blood Rage to the trash pile for only two players, but I definitely disagree. Perhaps it is the Euro component of this game’s hybrid heritage, but I think the tight balance of both drafting and area contention quite well even with just two (I recall asking about this here early last year before I was proselytize to the game). Since Blood Rage is basically a highly-polished resource management game (dat rage, tho), that brought our session this week to laser-focus. With so many regions blasted at the start of the game, we ended up with a single rage pillage tile in addtion to Yggrasil. Can you guess where we fought to the death? I ended up drafting Troll and several Warrior upgrades, but Anastasia buffed her leader and grabbed a few Loki upgrades despite my adamant hate-drafting. I camped Yggdrasil the entire game (especially after I got Dark Elf), but I could not win my quests very often because I had a hard time breaking into the rest of the provinces. While I won most of the pillages, I also got shafted in several and those all feature Anastasia also getting extra rage, glory, or clan stats upon victory. The kicker was her ending Age 3 with the Frost Giant, pushing me out of Yggdrasil, and pillaging it twice in a row. I lost. Do you know by how much? … … … one glory.

Chicago Express
Don’t get me wrong, this game is stronger with more than two players, but Anastasia wanted to learn this one (I forgot she’d never played until now!) as I suggested it would be a great pick for our upcoming staycation with her family. The biggest difference is the multitude of available shares for just two players--we fought each other for all of them, and while we struck a zero-sum in the even-numbered shares, it was the odd-numbered shares that really pushed the game forward. Yellow was Anastasia’s primary income, and Blue was mine. Red was mostly shut out early as Blue, Yellow, and Green blocked the central woods and mountains. When Wabash came into the game, we each grabbed one of the two shares, so the impact was minimal. The final several rounds were mostly our screwing each other’s primary routes while neither of us committed to running out the last shares to trigger the end-game. In the end, we both agreed that this game is still a lot of fun with plenty of crunch with only two players. I do look forward to substituting the Iron Clays coming with my Brass KS pledge for the awful awful awful paper money. As for score… guess what? I lost to Anastasia by ONE DOLLAR. Do you see a sad trend here?

Innovation Deluxe
While I’ve played this a lot, it was only Anastasia’s second game. To be fair, though, it’s been a long time since I’d played a full game one-on-one, so there was not much advantage. I ended up with early splays across all five colors and snagged Wonder through Invention, while Anastasia had a very tight score-then-achieve engine up with a few of her top cards. I tried to mess with that as much as possible, but while I was gaining a lot of momentum myself, I could not interact/keep up with her inevitable win. She cashed out her sixth achievement in Age 7 and swept it. Would you call me crazy if I told you I had five achievements at that point? As in, she beat me by ONE again? For the fourth time in a week? Seriously?

Treasure Hunter
This was the opener for our game night in Pittsburgh. I liked it! Very light, to be sure, but I enjoyed the tension over the min/max totals, as well as the Goblin looting. The spell scrolls add a curious counter-optimization element to gaining lots of cash for sub-optimal play in the adventure regions. Is this the best drafting game ever? No way. But it fills a nice niche and adds more meat and a different set of decisions to the stripped-down polish of Sushi Go Party! (still my favorite drafting game). Given Queen’s mega-sale on Amazon, after I told Anastasia about this one, she impulse-bought it for about ten bucks despite our 2017 buying austerity.

Roll for the Galaxy
Always so good. I grabbed two 6+ Developments at the beginning of the game, allowing me to focus on re-assignment and other Developments, so I ended with just three Worlds and nine Developments, and crushed the game with 60+ points.

Flip Ships
Like all dexterity games, this was silly fun. I really enjoyed how the difficulty scales over the game--early on, you have a few tiny ships and can’t do much. As you get hammered, you get more, better ships and the special abilities come into play without any player becoming overpowered. We got to the very end and held off two waves with just one damage to Earth, but our final round we whiffed just about every shot, and lost. A curious spin on simple dexterity games, to be sure. Also, Kwanchai Moriya’s recent shift from cartoony art to oil painting looks great, and the aesthetic for this game was perfect.

Quiplash
While techincally not a real board game (or video game?), my cousin, John, brought Quiplash and we hooked it up to a projector to close our game night. It’s basically a more refined version of Balderdash, but played in secret through smartphones to feed into the big public display for scoring. It’s absolutely hilarious. Depending on how many players there are, each question is doled out to a specific set of random players, so most questions will have two options for everyone but the answer-submitters to vote on in sequence. Questions run in the vein of goofy-running-on-racy, and all of them were fabulous. Examples are “What is the name of the world’s hardest Yoga move?” (My answer: “ascendant bowel”) or “What is the worst historical event to use to name a restaurant?” (John’s answer: “Chuck E. Children’s Crusade”) or “What is the least helpful thing to tell an officer while being given a speeding ticket?” (Jason’s answer: “Blue lives matter a little bit, I guess.”). We played it over and over again after several beers and at about 2:00 AM. Perfection.

T.I.M.E Stories
I was never sure I wanted to play this, and have more or less dodged it for a while. I know I’d enjoy the discovery aspect, but the replay-to-win concept, however thematic, always irked me in principle. Well, my cousin, John, LOVES this game, and has invited me to play it with him multiple times in the past and I’ve had valid reason to do something else without offense. This go-around, I obliged given the long night allowing multiple plays without interruption. John GMd the first game to get the ball rolling quickly, then ducked out to play Inis two times while we played the rest of the scenario until final completion.

Right off the bat, I and those with whom I played hammed up our characters as much as possible, which played to great effect. I found the puzzles and decisions and development to be SO good. A ton of fun. It reminded me of the closest the board game world could come to emulating Myst/Riven/Timelapse/Point&Click games. The time mechanic started smoothly then became agonizingly tense. We argued back and forth as to where we should go and what we should do, but we ended up exhausting every possibility in the original scenario. The ups and downs were wonderful, and I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I expected.

But…

By the third run-through, the contrived sense of replay-to-win really started getting to me. Still fun, yes, but effectively racing through the “okay we know where to go and whom to talk to and what to pick up so let’s go okay roll okay flip okay roll okay and over here too okay” fast-forward phase to the next unrevealed plot with tons of time to spare… it was pretty anti-climactic? Not the ending itself, but how we got to the ending by way of necessary game mechanics/constraints. Also, I’m not sure how the other scenarios pan out in terms of plot resolution, but I got a strong LOST sixth season vibe from this one--all of the questions I cared about were not answered, and all of the dumb stuff I didn’t care about were the focus. Oh well.

tl;dr -- I liked the game very much, and I’ll happily play the other scenarios, but I’d never buy this for myself. No way.

Finally, I went back and watched a few reviews on the base game/system to see if anyone else got the impression I did. Sure enough, SU&SD 100% nailed my sentiments on this game. 100%.



NOT Eclipse

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One other guy in our game group agrees with me that we would rather play games we’ve already played and get better at them/return to favorites than always chase the new hotness. We’re just two out of about nine or ten regulars. Guess who wins? ::fist shake::



On My Mind
We’re gearing up for a long staycation in Annapolis next week and it will be grand. A much-needed actual vacation where we can rest. That will be lovely. Also, all the crab. So much crab. More crab than I care to eat, but will eat anyway, because CRAB.
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15. Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:62]
From gallery of Photodump
Dave K
United States
Austin
Texas
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Only one play for me last week. cry

I still enjoy Clank, although this play of it went very, very slowly. We just had a hard time getting our movement cards to come out at useful times as a whole and the start of the game felt like of dull because of it. Once we finally got moving it was more fun, however. I pushed the timer and got out first, but lost to a person who came within two health of dying before he got out. That's the closest I have seen for someone who grabbed a low-value artifact and tried to run. I'm not entirely convinced that's a viable strategy but it's definitely fun to watch the other players make a frantic dash to get out, so it was worth it I guess. laugh


OMM

Our roof seems to have gotten a bit of damage from the storm over the weekend, but we came out largely unscathed. I think we got in the realm of 8-ish inches of rain? We're close to Grant so I feel like that seems like a lot more than he did, so not quite sure.

I'm like 40 hours into Dragon Quest XI and I'm pretty comfortable saying it's the second-best one in the whole franchise (after VIII). I don't want to make a final call between it and VIII until I have beaten it though.

As with most games in the family, it's more about the individual stories of the places you go and they kind of flow into one another, but it's more a series of vignettes than it is one giant plotline. There is more character development than in other titles (possibly even more than in VIII?), which is nice though. The item crafting system is also very enjoyable and breezy - it doesn't turn into a big time sink, but it's worth doing.

I might be coming down with a cold (feeling a little bleh but I'm not sure if I'm actually sick or not yet) - am hoping to game more if I can, but if I'm sick I need to rest as I have a job-related conference I'm going to soon.
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16. Board Game: Blood Rage [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:33]
Board Game: Blood Rage
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Well the only thing I played in the last week was my first play of Blood Rage. My friend John was hosting a game day, but as it happened, most of the invitees were either off at GenCon or were teachers getting ready for the first day of school, so my wife and I were the only attendees, and we mostly spent time catching up with them and watching our kids (2 and 5) play with their dog. That was actually pretty nice as we hadn't seen them in a while (they are about an hour away and having kids makes it harder for both of us to travel to the other).

Blood Rage
John did have a chance to teach me Blood Rage, which he *loves*. We played a 2-player game, and while I can see what more players would add, it seemed to work fine at 2 to me. I almost managed to win on the back of the card that lets you "steal" 2 points every time you lose, and I would have made it awfully close if I hadn't punted the Ragnarok quest in the 3rd round (age? whatever it's called) with the 2x points for quests upgrade.

He said he felt that the problem was that he thought a lot of what was enjoyable about the game for him was KS exclusive stuff, which kind of puts a damper on my willingness to buy it.

Fabled Fruit
Since I haven't posted an entry in a couple weeks, I'll also say that I got Fabled Fruit and played through like 4-5 games of it with some rotating sets of players. I think this would be a big hit over thanksgiving with my sisters, mom, and a couple of my niece/nephews. Hoping to play through the rest eventually with my Friday night crew. I am a little curious about the new games for the system that have been announced, but I don't think of them as must-buys.

OMM
My FLGS should be calling me any day about my pre-ordered Path to Carcosa, so definitely looking forward to that. Also Import/Export is on it's way, so now I'll just have to sell people who've never played Glory to Rome or Container on a game that's basically a hybrid of the two.

I did do a couple gigs (singing) with Bug Horn Rex, the NO Jazz Band I occasionally front. One in a fairly crowded bar, one in a not-very-well-attended street fair. Fun either way.

Alistair has started Kindergarten and thankfully got in to the on-site aftercare after the first day, so my lining up at 4:30 AM a few months ago was not for nothing. He seems to be doing really well there so far, and other than needing to get up at 6:15 AM instead of 7 now, the impact on our schedule has not been big. I hate *getting* up early, but I do like *being* up early.
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17. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Fabrice Dubois
France
La Garenne Colombes
Hauts de Seine
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 9  Great Western Trail x4 (19 plays so far)
 7.5  Forbidden Desert x2 (15 plays so far)

On Great Western Trail : Still playing GWT and working around the builder strategy so we decided to play it for 2 with the basic Setup (neutral buildings A to G, buildings on side A)

It was my 19th play against my son and i won (94 to 51)

Some photos :
My player board :
From gallery of fdubois


Final board :
From gallery of fdubois

From gallery of fdubois

From gallery of fdubois


Some thoughts :
No doubt, this strategy is challenging, requires careful planning and is all about timing :

1) unlock the player board abilities that is usefull for you (x1 money, x1 draw/discard, 5th et 6th certifcates, +1 movements).
The order of unlocking depends on what you choose : buying a 3 value cow (it could be better to unlock draw/discard) or building in the hazard paths (it could be better to unlock the 5th certificate spot).

2) don't waste your time doing actions that are not required to your strategy : favor efficiency and rush over butterflying and slowing you down.

3) don't forget to move your train in order to grab certificate station tiles :
- it is vital to unlock a black ability ASAP (6th certificates spot and +1 movements spots)
- by promoting your 4th and 6th craftsmen, you will earn a cheap building/upgrade in a future recruitment

4) try to put your buildings in order to tax other players and/or to give you cascading effects (buildings #3, #4 and #10 (either faces) allow you to move your cattleman forward).

5) pay attention to your money : you will need a lot of money in order to recruit, build and upgrade in one trip.

6) pay attention to your number of craftsmen and your upgrade path to the strongest buildings.
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