GCL Phoenix 362: The Lightness of Playing (2017-12-10)
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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You've found the 362nd episode of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Thanks for stopping by!. Please feel free to thumb the list so that we know you're there.

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

As is our custom, we encourage Phoenix members to add an item to the list. Non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars.) I believe the current (active) roster includes:
familygaming, grasa_total, hawk-x-, indigopotter, John Rogers, karlfast, Lowengrin, rynelf, Taibi, TheRocketSurgeon, Tigrillo and woodnoggin
†: next week's organizer.
(We're also thankful for our historic/lapsed/temporarily-inactive members. They're awesome, and completely welcome to contribute in any way they want if they have a moment. That absolutely includes adding an item: please go ahead.)


I found myself enjoying the (somewhat tangential, at least to Michael's Deluxifying theme) riff last week about game weight, and the things we play and obsess/talk/think about.

I was amused to discover that my (personal) game DB had no notion of weight. It's not a stat I'd ever thought to export from BGG. Nor, in truth, am I confident that I could strongly identify which game was heaviest given a list. So I thought it might be something that was - or could be - amusing to discuss.

I thought then to perhaps begin with a list of games that we*'d all played this year. But - perhaps unsurprisingly (and not in a bad way: I find it delightful) we're not playing the same games!

Here's the beginning of that list (sorted by most people playing), for the fun of it:
--
10 people 94 plays Terraforming Mars
10 people 50 plays Codenames
9 people 65 plays Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
9 people 38 plays Great Western Trail
9 people 24 plays Kingdomino
9 people 23 plays Yokohama
8 people 197 plays Jump Drive
8 people 74 plays Magic Maze
8 people 47 plays Innovation
8 people 44 plays Hanamikoji
8 people 26 plays The Great Zimbabwe
8 people 26 plays Patchwork
8 people 18 plays No Thanks!
--
Poll: Most played by Phoenix (and friends) in 2017
Please rank these games from heaviest (1) to lightest (13).
You're doing it right if you choose exactly one entry per column!
  1 (heaviest) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 (lightest)
Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Codenames
Great Western Trail
Hanamikoji
Innovation
Jump Drive
Kingdomino
Magic Maze
No Thanks!
Patchwork
Terraforming Mars
The Great Zimbabwe
Yokohama
      18 answers
Poll created by rynelf


That's not terrible, I guess; but I was hoping for a list with a bit more commonality. So I grabbed all of your all-time plays, giving:
--
20 people 1199 plays Agricola
20 people 935 plays Innovation
20 people 380 plays Love Letter
20 people 217 plays Patchwork
19 people 777 plays Dominion
19 people 468 plays Codenames
19 people 71 plays Keyflower
18 people 449 plays Pandemic
18 people 217 plays Bohnanza
18 people 187 plays Brass: Lancashire
18 people 164 plays Jaipur
--
Poll: Most played by Phoenix (and friends) all-time
Please rank games from heaviest (1) to lightest (11)
You're doing it right (again) if you have exactly one selection per column.
  1 (heaviest) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 (lightest)
Agricola
Innovation
Love Letter
Patchwork
Dominion
Codenames
Keyflower
Pandemic
Bohnanza
Brass
Jaipur
      19 answers
Poll created by rynelf


In addition to that rather subjective view of weight, I thought we might talk about it too... So: on to the questions!

*: I'd used archivists, darker, Eeeville, Eric Brosius, familygaming, grasa_total, hanibalicious, hawk-x-, indigopotter, John Rogers, karlfast, Lowengrin, Muse23PT, qwertymartin, ravenskana, rynelf, Smintie, Taibi, TheRocketSurgeon, Tigrillo, tjshields, woodnoggin as "we" for this purpose. Please let me know if I should (or shouldn't!) include you next time.
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1. Board Game: Heavy Gear Tactical [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:10693]
Board Game: Heavy Gear Tactical
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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It's all very well to pretend that games have a "heaviness" property like BGG does. But what does it mean? I have no idea!

If I was going to try to describe the space, I'd claim that there are (at least) a few factors that are all conflated in that value:

• rules load (how much work is it to understand and remember the ruleset?)
• mechanical load (how much work is it to manipulate the ruleset?)
• branching factor (how many options are present in any given turn?)
• strategic depth (how far in the future does one want to look?)
• forgivingness/tension/stress (how serious are the consequences of error?)
• duration¹

For example, Neuland is quite low on the first two axes; more on the next two; fairly high on the next, and wherever one thinks a two hour game fits on the last. And (again for example) Asia Engulfed feels different for me on each axis. And yet they're close (0.1 apart) in BGG's weight measure.

What factors would you include in your personal game-weight polytope?


1) And that's not at all to say that there aren't heavy short games and long light games. But I hypothesize that if all other factors were identical, a longer game would still be perceived as heavier than a shorter one!
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2. Board Game: Real Math: A Sampler of Games [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Real Math: A Sampler of Games
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Suppose a friend (or a random imaginary person on the internet) asked you to come up with your personal exemplars of "A Heavy Game" and "A Light Game'. That's it: one of each. No waffling with two or three in each category: choose, or choose not.

What would you choose?

(I'll go with 1817 and Fuji Flush for sake of argument. Not to imply that either is extremal: I'm sure there are heavier and lighter games respectively.)
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3. Board Game: Essence: The Game of Insights [Average Rating:6.02 Unranked]
Board Game: Essence: The Game of Insights
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Are there any essential characteristic of weight?

All pub games lighter than all wargames?
Dexterity elements make games lighter?
Lack of randomness makes games heavier?

No need to agree with any of those! Are there axioms you'd suggest?
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4. Board Game: Rotation [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Rotation
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Not definitive (that needs to come from Carol!) but plausible:
--
Nicolai - 17th December
Morten - 24th December
Rich - 31st December

Jeremy - 7th January
Alison - 14th January
Marc - 21st January
Carol - 28th January
John - 4th February
Karl - 11th February
Michael - 18th February
Dave - 25th February
Nicolai - 4th March
Morten - 11th March
Rich - 18th March

Jeremy - 25th March
Alison - 1st April
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5. Board Game: Near and Far [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:144] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Near and Far
Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo
From gallery of Photodump
Board Game: Near and Far
Board Game: Grand Austria Hotel
Board Game: Spirit Island
Board Game: Medina


 8   The Voyages of Marco Polo x3 NEW!
This game feels VERY tight, but by my third game, I pulled off some nice combos (and improved my focus when planning) to get down all four locations for my trade routes as well as some decent contracts fulfilled. I can see why this one ranks highly: it definitely fits some of the things euro-gamers love, and the dice mechanic makes for interesting decisions. Also: super-powered characters are a nice feature in a game! And variability in set-up!

 8   Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Still good! Natalie started going deep in because of so few wounds and dragon attacks, so I decided to head up and put her on a timer. But then she got the 30 and 15 artifacts, plus two 7 goblets, and I thought I should hangout and buy some treasure cards first. Big mistake. Natalie busted out of there in fairly good order, and I couldn't get the money in my hand to get me the treasure I wanted. Should have bolted and hoped she didn't make it out of the depths. And this is why I love this game.

 10   Near and Far x4
Wow! Talk about a resurgence! After a nearly two-month layoff, four plays! Natalie has caught the Near and Far bug finally - she was not interested in the game initially because she didn't like the palette Laukat chose for the box art. (Her and I are two peas in a pod, apparently... ). So Natalie and I are two games into Character mode (she has a 18 point lead), and Kris and I are now five games into campaign mode. I seem quite poor at this game, but love ranging out with my pack birds. I am now a Pack Bird Breeder, in fact (in my game with Kris), though I am a Spelunker in my game with Natalie.

I do think I have a better understanding of what I've been doing wrong, so hopefully a few wins will come my way. But who cares. I love all the maps and stories.

 8   Grand Austria Hotel
Natalie smacked me down. I tried to play better to the guests, but made a couple key mistakes, and ran money too low to pull off my strategy. I'll do better next time. (I always say I will do better next time, but Natalie's average score in this game is almost 20 points better than mine.)

 8   Spirit Island
Just a quick solo loss to England 1 with Lighting's Swift Strike. I really struggled to get this spirit going in solo.

 8   Medina
Taught this to Kris and E because E gets bored of planning euros, and wants interactivity. I figure what E needs is more exposure to old-school classic euros, so I threw this on the table. It hit. Not only did he love it, he did well, winning the game. (Of course, it was do in no small part to how much Kris and and I were doing to damage each other's chances.)


The week ahead!
Busy week, so probably less gaming. Monday staff meeting, Tuesday coaching basketball, Wednesday photos for Xavie, Thursday cross-country skiing.

I'd bet that Natalie and I play a game or two of Near and Far to see what happens to Riza and Tanian. (Especially now that we have figured out how the failed-but-completed thing works with quests. Still not sure how it works with Campaign.)

COIN planned for Saturday - Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection is the COIN of choice this time around. My University of Oregon Ducks have their bowl game that day, but I'll just have to be satisfied with the end of that game, because this is the only Saturday that will work for COIN.


Desiring Near and Far: Amber Mines for Near and Far, and A Feast for Odin: Lofoten, Orkney, and Tierra del Fuego. It would be nice to extend play of two games I am really enjoying right now. Wendake continues to roll on with a good average rating, but I still can't justify $100 for it.

Acquiring The Voyages of Marco Polo because I like Grand Austria Hotel, and find Lorenzo il Magnfico quite good, and this game by the same cadre of designers is ranked even higher than those!

I also picked up Xavie's birthday present for February (shhhhhhh! it's Animal Upon Animal), and a surprise for Natalie too. I also reacquired A Feast for Odin. Had to make use of 13% off at 401games.

Perspiring over Charterstone. Boardgamebliss let me know my pre-order arrived, so now I'm on a 6-day clock to either keep it or cancel it. I know I rely on you Phoenixes to hold me hand through a lot of my purchasing decisions. Sorry about that. But I'm still on the fence with this one. I feel that it is somewhat unlikely I'll keep it. Sounds better with more than 2p, not really resaleable (unless I'm just flipping). Anyone else going through with a purchase on it?
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6. Board Game: 1844/1854 [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
Board Game: 1844/1854
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 9Dec2017:

3/5/441 plays of 3/3/201 total games, with 3/3/32 expansions employed.
Plays with 7/9/127 distinct opponents.

0/0/37 games acquired (plus 0/2/21 expansions.)
0/0/16 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/3 expansions.)
0/0/29 games ordered (plus 0/0/13 expansions.)
Orders for 3 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With kids:
1x _10_ Race for the Galaxy (with the first arc) - We both had comparable Prestige scores; but I'd managed five 6-Developments to his 1; and that proved the difference.

With the Lunch@work group:

1x _7⅓_ Peak Oil - The game took about 75 minutes for the four of us - so it was probably a bit long for the lunch slot.

And we had a rules misinterpretation. I'd explained things (in a way that - hah! of course it did - made sense to me. But the others interpreted it (based on things I didn't say) in a way I still (perhaps delusionally) think was inconsistent with the rest of the way the game works. Hmph.

As to the game, we had a bit of a bimodal distribution. A couple folk had concentrated on Consultants (with awesome special powers, too!) but acquired relatively few Start-ups (the base unit of scoring goodness to my naive eye.) The other two had many more of those Start-ups, and consequently scored much better.

(Again: it reminded me of my first game of Terra Mystica: I scored 50 (and had built a fine engine, though took advantage of rather few scoring opportunities) while another player (read: Dave) scored in the mid-120s (with a much more successful approach to the game.)

I rather appreciated Dave's explanation in that instance: while I lost convincingly, it made me aware of what I needed to pay attention to in subsequent games.

But I'm not confident my colleagues share my biases: they could easily prefer that the explanation include something like "Make sure to acquire a bunch of Start-ups, or you'll lose." But while one could equally conclude that was a reasonable thing to infer from the rules explanation, the faults of my existing rules explanation (where things I had said were interpreted with principles I had not addressed to achieve faulty conclusions) makes that a bit dubious.

In any event: the game seemed quite worthwhile to me. The decisions were interesting; the inferences and interference were cool; and it could easily play a good deal faster with a bit of practice.

With the Wednesday night gang:

1x _7⅔_ 1854 - Really enjoyed this one: I made a few blunders here (most notably: strongly undervaluing the earning potential of the late-game Localbahns; but there were more than a few bad track lays on my part, too.)

Paul won: and there mostly on predicting a late-game synergy between a few companies that were relatively poor early-game performers. In contrast, I was an early leader that fell (dramatically!) off the pace as the game wore along. Some of that was being satisfied with permanent 5-trains; but there were other blunders, too. I'll do better next time - but whether that wil be better enough to not place last? That's a different question!

Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+0/-0)
Owned-and-played-once: 96 (+0/-1) - Peak Oil was played again.

Outlook for the week: Multiple choir practices - and a couple concerts next weekend. Wednesday night gang this week (but no lunch games.) And a play or two with son #2, I hope. I doubt I'll have time for anything else.
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7. Board Game: Expedition: Northwest Passage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1361]
Board Game: Expedition: Northwest Passage
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Games Played

_7_ Expedition: Northwest Passage x3 New!
_8_ Vinhos Deluxe Edition x1


The Week in Review
Board Game: Vinhos Deluxe Edition

S and I started the week with a play of Vinhos Deluxe Edition, but boxed it up afterwards as she complained it was too much like work. It's too bad as I was hoping to give the original rules another go while the game play was still fresh in our minds.

Expedition: Northwest Passage has turned out to be even more successful than I anticipated. I can't say I love it (as evidenced by my rating), but it's growing on me. And S enjoys tile-laying more than most other mechanics.

Our third play this evening got us discussing the screwage possible in the game and as we play it more, we'll take it from the hypothetical to the actual as is done in Carcassonne. That will depend, of course, on whether or not it gets pushed aside in favour of something in the stack of new games accumulating.*


The Week Ahead

Likely at least one more play of Expedition: Northwest Passage. K's set to come over Saturday so probably some Massive Darkness as well.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: Maria, Isaribi, The U.S. Civil War, Francis Drake, German Railways, Lorenzo il Magnifico, Tikal and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

Unplayed games not in shrink: Normandy '44 and Mottainai.


*Of the stack, there are really only a few games that are playable with two so I don't see the stack reducing significantly any time soon.

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8. Board Game: The Gallerist [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:55]
Board Game: The Gallerist
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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I've been looking to introduce a new heavy, worker placement game to my home group's current rotation - (currently Great Western Trail, Agricola, A Feast for Odin) and this was on the short list.

More like Wish list than short list, as both difficult to get hold of, and likely too long complex / dry to be suitable for the group.

Still, I kept my eyes out and when spotted in a recent sale I snapped it up with no real thought of getting it to the table. |Well the stars aligned, snow-day, kids away and fellow gamers who were curious rather than skeptical.

4 hours, a couple of introductory videos, and a dinner later, we were packing it away after a complete play through.

I like to think they were tempered in fire rather than broken by the experience. Fingers crossed this gains a place on rotation.
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9. Board Game: Carthago: Merchants & Guilds [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:3298]
Board Game: Carthago: Merchants & Guilds
I’m trying to cull my collection but I’m finding it pretty hard to find any of my bigger box games I’m prepared to sell just now. I really need to try some more of the Essen batch and see if they are worth keeping. So far I’ve been much happier with my Essen releases from this year compared to those of last year. The only one from last year I still have is Terraforming Mars and the only reason I keep that is because Lærke loves playing it. My preordered list is now very small again so that’s something at least.

Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

 6   Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 x2 NEW!
Most of the group I played Season 1 with is on board for the second season as well. Lærke doesn’t have the time this year so one from my train games group jumped in for her. After having very much the same experience as Rich (winning the prologue and losing January on our first try) I must admit that I agree very much with him. It’s not as good as the first season so far – and I never liked that much in the first place. I thought the gameplay would have been quite different but it turns out that it’s pretty much just the opposite where instead of removing disease cubes you now place rations cubes. We were very close to winning January during our last turn but the infection cards (that’s not their name here) that came out after the penultimate turn meant we saw an outbreak of the plague that moved us down to 8. Almost. With 12 months still ahead of us I’m beginning to regret that I agreed to play another season…


Board Game: KLASK

 7   KLASK x3
A friend visited Friday for a venison stew and some very good wine from North Rhone (St. Joseph), some Christmas beers and a bit of gaming. He’d never tried Klask before because he’s not that fond of dexterity games he said. I’m not sure I’d call this a dexterity game but perhaps it is. I won all three plays quite easily so I think that was enough Klask for him.



Board Game: Jump Drive

 9   Jump Drive x2
We also played two quick games of Jump Drive which he wasn’t that fond of either. He’s the one who introduced me to modern boardgames 8 years ago but I fear our tastes have moved in different directions since then in many ways. Still happy to play with him so perhaps I should just let him decide what to play in the future. It cannot be all bad when he says Keyflower is his favourite game!



Board Game: Azul

 7   Azul x3
He was more fond of Azul and as it appears to be the case of this game for me I find it very hard to win after the first game against a new player. That said, I did win the one play against Lærke last week but that was also a bit a matter of luck about who would end up with all the minus points in the last round. She was the unlucky that had to take two out of the last three colours in the middle. Had it been opposite she would have beat me by a few points instead of me beating her by a few points. At least I was much more competitive than usual.


Board Game: Carthago: Merchants & Guilds

 6   Carthago: Merchants & Guilds NEW!
I walked past the booth where they sold this at Essen quite a few times and was tempted to buy it every time. In the end, I ran out of cash before I was tempted enough. But when I asked Edward from Heavy Cardboard about which games he’d might recommend or had heard good things about this was the first title he mentioned. I’d also watched a couple of videos about it and the multiple use of cards mechanism is one I always enjoy. Despite the whole trading in the Mediterranean setting of it, it actually has quite nice artwork and it seemed like an interesting medium weight euro. It’s cheap so I decided to order it two weeks ago. Lærke and I played it Saturday and were surprised at how quick it was. The box says 90 minutes but we played our first play in an hour so we could easily cut 15 minutes of that with more plays. You have 15 actions, five each in every of the 3 rounds. It’s a bit clumsy how you both have to play a card for its action and place a pawn on a rondel to show which action you are taking but I guess it’s necessary since you have to pay another card if there is someone already on that action spot in the rondel and if a guild token is on it you get to take another free action that will award you points. It’s a trading game so you want to get contracts to trade your goods (cards) for more goods that you can either use for their action, good type or to get upgrades on your small tech tree. With so few actions you of course cannot do everything you want and you have to find the optimal way to use your cards. You have 7 home cards that you’ll get back at the beginning of each new round but the goods card are gone once you use them. My initial rating might be a bit low but it might also be spot on. I’ll find out with more plays. 45 minute lighter end of medium euro is not something I have a lot of and sometimes they are nice to have for a weekday evening for instance.


Board Game: Kingdom Builder

 8   Kingdom Builder x2
Nicolai has lent me his copy of Clans of Caledonia. I read the rules and punched it so I could play it solitaire Sunday but spent all Sunday with Lærke and my parents and buying a new bed. So I’ll have to wait with CoC. But as I punched it the modular board reminded Lærke of Kingdom Builder which gave her an urge to play it. This time we picked four boards from the Harvest expansion that we bought at Essen for our first play. They were a lot of fun but having four meant there were way too many options both for scoring and for placing your settlements. One of the things I really like about KB is that can be so very hard to get away from an area if the cards do not align. In Harvest there are many different ways to circumvent that restriction which is okay if there is one option and not 4 or 5 as we had with all four boards. They all have two different extra powers each. And they are quite strong. Lærke of course won the first play so I wanted to play it again but with only two board from Harvest and two from the base game. That worked a lot better but our VP-giving cards weren’t a great match. We got points for having settlements on as many different vertical lines but also for having as many vertical lines as possible with only one settlement on them. It was quite easy to do so we both ended up on the same score after scoring the three cards. Only difference was that I had built next to one more castle than her.




Games that left my collection this month: Spirit Island, High Frontier 3rd Ed., TZAAR, Coloretto and In a Grove.

Games that entered my collection this month: Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Edition), Cobras, Gentes and Carthago: Merchants & Guilds.

Unplayed games in my collection: Tahuantinsuyu, 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Automobile, Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar, Splatter SHOOT, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, Sword of Rome, Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62, Endeavour, El Alamein, Chicago Express, Democracy under Siege, India Rails, Mini Rails, Q.E., Sakura Hunt, Struggle of Empires, Tulip Bubble, Visby , Voodoo Prince, Secret Hitler, Indian Summer, Photosynthesis, Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Edition), Cobras and Gentes.
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10. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:57]
Board Game: Fields of Arle
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Traded in my pastry chef apron for some charcuterie this week, with Fields of Arle (weight 3.91). Last played July 2015 (!)

Sam's RPG day was cancelled yesterday, so we had an unexpected afternoon. I decided to play something big, instead of something small a couple of times. After almost two and a half years, things were fuzzy, so we went through the rules again, which took us about an hour, and then about 2 hours to play.

I concentrated on animals, but neglected my wagons and was a bit resource-poor, whereas Sam got wagons early and had upgraded resources, so he was able to do cool buildings. He won by a fair margin.

But then I saw how things worked. In the second game, I started early with animals again, but with a building that let me do a stable upgrade anytime for 1 brick and 4 food, meaning it saved me actions, and used less brick. I managed to get all 3 of the special 6-space pens (6VP) and even flip one over at the end for 9VP. With the 6-space pens, I could have 4 animals in one square, and they would make two animals every time. It was a very efficient way to go about it.

I also traveled a lot more this time, having woefully neglected that the first round as well. Since I had wagons early, I was able to make food through traveling. I had had random things like hides the first game that I didn't do much with. With the wagons, I could upgrade things that I acquired, and either keep them for points or travel with them. I got, and spent, a lot more food the second game because I could see how to acquire it in big chunks. We both got several cool buildings. Sam got two of the 15VP buildings!

I ended up winning, but not by much. If he had let his animals get established a little more, and gotten 10VP out of them, he would have won.

We had snow here on Saturday, about 2-3 inches (6-8cm). But the sun was out afterwards, and everything is clear now.
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11. Board Game: Dominion: Nocturne [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion: Nocturne
Alison Mandible
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Board Game: Dominion
Board Game: Exceed: Red Horizon – Alice, Zoey, Gabrek, and Ulrik
Board Game: Dominion: Nocturne
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures – Fifth Avenue
Board Game: Industrial Waste
Board Game: Dice Forge
Board Game: Captain Sonar


 9   Dominion x2

Nocturne arrived! There's nothing as revolutionary as Landmarks, but the new stuff is still fun to play with. Spirits are awkward-- I'm not sure what they have in common, beyond being 'extra' card piles that some cards use.

 7   Exceed: Red Horizon – Gabrek & Ulrik vs. Alice & Zoey

With a coworker, over lunch. It was fun, but in the end both of us took big hits because of not knowing what the other's deck was capable of. Hopefully we'll get in a rematch before we forget.

 3   Unlock! Fifth Avenue NEW!

I appreciate them posting new adventures as PnPs, and I've been working on ways to play those solo on my computer without having to do double-sided printing. But this one is basically just a second demo; nothing original or new.

 1   Industrial Waste NEW!

I don't know why it's mostly games I dislike that ended up taking the longest on Yucata. This had a little of everything wrong with it-- auctions where it's easy to overbid, drafting for cards that don't really matter, random disasters, variable game length (i.e. it takes much longer if nobody knows how to make it end).

 7   Dice Forge

I hadn't realized how little variability this has-- of the 15 card stacks, 6 never change, and at least 3 of the others have alternate versions that make only minor changes. So I fear it'll get played out faster than I'd thought when I decided to buy it. But it does have the same thrilling pulse of "stuff! I get more stuff! roll more dice!" that it did when first played, so I don't think I'll mind the rest of the plays. I just hoped it would have more of them.

 9   Captain Sonar x7

A long afternoon of teaching the kids from several families to play Captain Sonar. This was pretty great. S told me ahead of time that the 10-year-olds are just as capable of playing games as adults are, but honestly, I've seen real-time games flop with more adults than not too. It takes a particular mix of people, and I wasn't sure we'd have it. I love Captain Sonar, but in the end it's usually visible that most people are playing the same game but one person is just over their head (so to speak) and that's the sub that loses.

It turns out, I think, that in addition to the kids being really sharp, Captain Sonar is also designed more shrewdly than I realized. There's room for zippy captains and for slow ones, for aggressive radio operators and careful ones, and so on. And the four stations use very different skills. I wish the First Mate had more to do, or maybe the OPTION of more to do-- even people who gravitate to it at first as low impact sometimes get a little bored of it by the end of a game.
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12. Board Game: Neuland [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2457]
Board Game: Neuland
Karl Fast
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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The marathon this weekend. I flew back from Toronto at 6:30am so I didn't do a lot of gaming at the marathon, but everything I played was great.

Neuland. I finally got to play Neuland and me likey-likey. I have the original german version which I found several years back for $0.99. Of course most people have the Z-Man printing and that's what I played with. This is excellent and hits a nice combination of rules and mechanical simplicity with a ton of depth and branches and ways to combo. thumbsupthumbsup

Firenze. My first 3p game. Better than the 2p game, though not by a huge amount. Definitely better and surprisingly cut-throat given the simplicity of the game. Easy to see why the 4p game is considered the least attractive: too much changes before your next turn. This is really a timing game. Playing well means getting the timing right, and what makes it interesting is the number of elements where timing matters: collecting bricks of the right color, avoiding bad cards, collecting bonuses, and completing towers. Putting all that together makes this a definite keeper. thumbsup

Innovation Deluxe. New edition. With Echoes of the Past expansion. I was losing badly but had a shot at victory once the clocks started coming out in the 8th era. A particularly wacky game with one player who almost won, only to see the second player develop massive powers, and then weak little me begin to seriously threaten, and then a crazy card flipped by player one that gave player two the win because player three (me) was so weak. So good. So distinctive. thumbsupthumbsup

Inis. My first play last year was awful. Poorly taught and I was starting to get sick and it took 2.5 hours. Ugh. But this time it was taught well, I felt fine, and we did a 3p game in under an hour including the teach. And, oh yeah, I won. I played an action card to take the Pretender token and my friend, who has played this a ton, said "Why'd you do that?" "Because I just won" and he smiled and then looked and did a double-take and said "Oh, yeah, I guess you did. Wow!" Still not sure how much I like the game, but I'm now much more willing to play it again. It's good, just not great for me. thumbsup
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13. Board Game: Burgle Bros. [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:228]
Board Game: Burgle Bros.
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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Had my brother and sister and their families over for an early Christmas. My family, aside from my mom really are casual gamers but humor me nonetheless when the occasion calls for it. Well, it called for it in...

The Week That Was

Board Game: JamSumo

Rating: 7
Plays: 1


Started Saturday morning with a game of JamSumo with my brother Jake (age 33), and my niece, nephew, and son (age ranged 5-7). Everybody got a kick out of it. The kids especially like it as the goals are super intuitive; get the die in the hole or knock others off the board. Jake enjoyed it for its simplicity yet challenge in physical execution.

Board Game: Burgle Bros.

Rating: 7
Plays: 1


A few hours later my brother-in-law showed up. Now it's important to note that I have NEVER gotten Ben (age 31) to play anything. Ever. Not even Klask. Maybe it was the 3D aspect, the idea of Ocean's 11 the board game, or the fact that it was a co-op with just the boys (Jake and myself) but when I asked he surprisingly said yes. Ben chose the rigger, Jake the pearlman, and I the acrobat. Both Jake and Ben took to it rather quickly thanks in part to the 3D board which really helps players visualize going up and down floors, hiding around corners, and revealing rooms. We got the first floor safe cracked but lost when a guard double-backed on Jake and I causing him to lose his last stealth token. Everyone involved enjoyed it and both fellas asked if the cool board came with the game (it doesn't sadly).

Board Game: Santorini

Rating: 7
Plays: 1


As customary in our family we do a gift exchange. Jake had drawn me and one of the games on my list (not exclusively games mind you but my family knows me) was Santorini. I was quite happy with the selection and quickly broke it out and surveyed the rules, which by the way are mercifully short and easy to grasp. Whilst I didn't get a chance to muck about with the gods, my son Jack (age 5) really wanted to play. He got the idea of move one and build but didn't quite grasp to what end. He was excited to build the buildings and cheered at every blue dome placed. He has since asked to play the building game a few times, and we have broken it out to take turns building our little towers.

Can't wait to try this out with my game group. Superficially gives me a Torres vibe crossed with the gods from The Great Zimbabwe, but lighter than both. Should be fun. I wonder how it will play with 3? And for some reason the 4 player game actually intrigues me as well.

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14. Board Game: SeaFall [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2326]
Board Game: SeaFall
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Massachusetts
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Seafall game 15 tonight. Spoiler-free TL;DR: Didn't get to the 2nd winter (ended round 6). Our last-place player opened Box 6, won the game by 20+ Glory, and leaped to campaign 2nd place. More details when I get time to write 'em.

New-to-me games from the last couple months (not including BGG.CON, which has its own GeekList):

* Kanagawa - light, quick, pretty. Perhaps too light; people stay in for 3 cards >50% of the time, and I don't think I've ever seen someone grab 1 card by itself.

* Broom Service - enjoyed more than Witches' Brew (spatial/positional element), seats 5 well. The convoluted reverse board looks interesting.

* 1775: Rebellion - despite the vagaries of the dice, I really enjoyed this one! (Plus I grew up in Lexington MA, so the theme appeals.) Had a heck of a time getting it to the table, though, so it may not stay here. :\

* The 7th Continent - one of the best choose-your-own-adventure books I've ever played... but it turns out that's not really what I'm looking for when I sit down for a board game. There are some neat/fun/clever things about the design that I really appreciate, but I didn't like it as-a-game as much as I'd expected.

Also been playing:

* Sidereal Confluence - 3 times in the last 2 months. I think I'm getting better? (I won once, so hey.) What's interesting to me is that the things I've been learning about the game are basic economic-engine lessons that I'd have thought I already knew cold... but something about the game obscured them enough that I had to re-learn them the hard way. (I think it was partly just "information overload" - meh - but partly also my focus on the trading/asymmetry, which is good.) Anyhow, it was a good humility-reminder, and something I'll try to recall when I'm playing games with folks who just don't see stuff like, eg, "earning 3 VP is way better than earning 5 VP and all opponents earning 4".

* Spirit Island - my wife likes Spirit Island enough that she'll *suggest playing it on date nights*. This is, basically, miraculous. And a tremendous (wonderful) surprise - until pretty recently she flatly didn't play board games other than abstract positionals, and those infrequently. And she didn't *try* Spirit Island until Aug-Sep. I'm still happily boggled.
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15. Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:573]
Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Board Game: Wir sind das Volk!
Board Game: The Lost Expedition
Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest
Board Game: Push It
Board Game: Innovation
Board Game: TAMSK
Board Game: LYNGK
Board Game: Hanamikoji
Board Game: Haggis
Board Game: Five Cucumbers
Board Game: The Bottle Imp
Board Game: Battle Line
Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom
Board Game: Power & Weakness
Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045


 8   The Lost Expedition x2

 8   Push It x25
 9   Innovation x3
 7   TAMSK x3
 8   LYNGK x3 NEW!
 8   Hanamikoji x3
 10   Haggis x2
 7   Five Cucumbers x3
 8   The Bottle Imp
 7   Battle Line x6
 10   1989: Dawn of Freedom x2
 8   Power & Weakness
 8   Baseball Highlights: 2045

A shit ton of games, but most of them were two weekends ago when I had the exquisite pleasure of receiving
David P
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Lots of beer and wine, good food, conversation and laughs.

The highlight games of the weekend (because I love it and it is hard to do a back-to-back match of it) is 1989. We split the games, winning as the Communist each. David holding on to both Poland and Germany, repeatedly. AKA, the kiss of death. I pulled a miracle out of my ass for my win with a late game New Year's party which ended the game pre-maturely with me slightly ahead but likely to EAT IT at end game scoring (as David had crushed me on most power struggles).

Also, loads of Push It: my new table has a hole down the middle which makes for two long surfaces on which you could play; like two curling rinks! A great way to just end every day -- David has a real knack for agressive knock off shots.

Also, a series of three for Innovation, Battle Line x2, LYNGK, TAMSK, and Hanamikoji: all of which are quick, fun, and have room for a bit of creative dickery. Always nice to break out many games we have enjoyed together in the past, and to break out a new one (LYNGK -- which is way-too-cool, an abstract with an economic/stock sensibility)

Also, Brooke joined us for a local sampling of beers at (one of) our favorite pub -- at which we played Bottle Imp (David mopped the floor with us) and Five Cucumbers (in which Brooke was non-stop winning).

Overall, a fantastic visit that was greatly appreciated (as I have been missing my regular games and company of David P.).

-----
Other than that, I also soloed Lost Expedition a few more times: I think I've finally got a bit of a rythm with the game, achieving more wins, while also surviving longer (making it to the reshuffle -- which is important in terms of keeping the worst cards out of the deck)
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16. Board Game: Illimat [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:2583]
Board Game: Illimat
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Magic: the Gathering (x3)
|9| Notre Dame (+The New Persons)
|9| Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
-8- Terraforming Mars (+Hellas & Elysium; Self-Replicating Robots; Snow Algae)
-8- Witness (x3)
-7.5- Alice in Wonderland Parade
-7- Dragon Run
-7- Gloomhaven (x4)
-7- Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
-7- Qwixx (+Characters)
-6- Cottage Garden
-6- Hoot Owl Hoot! New!
-6- Illimat New!
-4- Guess Who?

I drafted the latest Magic set, Unstable, a supposedly humorous set filled with wacky effects and hilarious in-jokes. I think Wizards of the Coast's sense of humour must be different from mine because it doesn't seem all that funny. Instead, it focuses on effects they can't print in a "real" Magic set because they wouldn't work in tournament play. Cards involving dice rolling or dexterity would be reasonable inclusions for many games but Magic relies so much on competitive play as a revenue stream that they can't experiment with things like this outside of a silly set for fear of breaking something. I find this quite sad. In turn, it makes the silly set not as silly as it could be. The craziest cards show up mainly at Rare and Mythic rarities, while the Commons have had any rough edges sanded off them to ensure a balanced draft environment. Frankly, fuck that.

I drafted as many silly-looking Rares as possible, including the RoboRally-themed Great Calcutron (everyone's hand of cards becomes an ordered programme) but my blue/white fliers deck still ended up looking like it could have come from any other set of the past ten years. Disappointing.

Illimat is a traditional-style cardgame of unusual provenance. It first appeared in photo shoots for The Decemberists (the Portland rock band) and someone decided it would be a nice idea to create rules for it, then stick it on Kickstarter. Sounds like that could have had terrible results, right? Actually, it's not bad.

The design achieves its goal reasonably well, which is to emulate an old parlour game with arcane conventions, and it gets plus points for its stylish graphics. The game play itself is pleasant enough but quite luck-based. I'm not too familiar with the genre but I understand this kind of card game is categorised as a Fishing game (like Cassino or Koi-Koi). What separates it from traditional card games are the four Luminaries dealt into each round. When the relevant field is emptied of cards, you reveal the corresponding Luminary which then changes the rules slightly, perhaps providing a special power you can use on your turn. The field having been refilled, you can later claim the Luminary yourself by emptying the field a second time. Ownership of a Luminary gives you a point and sometimes an ability that only you can use.

It felt like card counting could possibly improve your score, but you are limited in the extent to which you can do so at the point in the game when it would make a useful difference. Our rounds were prone to over-analysis, although I'm unconvinced of the value of this, so the whole thing took considerably longer than the stated playing time. Nevertheless, I would play it again.

Also new this week was Hoot Owl Hoot! which a five-year-old taught me. She refused to play, though, so I played it with her three-year-old sister instead. It's a co-operative game about trying to get owls back to their nest before sunrise and was surprisingly fun for a children's game. There are three levels of difficulty and it has scope for learning tactics around which owls to move in order to maximise the leapfrogging over other owls. My young mitspieler wasn't quite up to those considerations yet but her older sister was. I later noticed this was designed by Susan McKinley Ross. I enjoyed this a lot more than her SdJ winner, Qwirkle!

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