Joe Solo (and not, on occasion)
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I play games. Always have, always will. This is where I will write about my experiences playing said games and anything else I feel like is important... or not.

There is no ultimate goal. No specific format. Read it... or don't. I'm just happy to make conversation.
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1. Board Game: 30 Rails [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:3964]
Board Game: 30 Rails
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Played a couple rounds of this while my kids are studying for the final... or playing Fortnight...

I'm bad. First round, I forgot about the override option. Second game I scored a 36 which doesn't even get into the score brackets.

Still. I like this game. I've got Utopia Engine here, too. I tried that one years ago and it didn't grab me, but we'll see how another try goes. I also should print Harbinger Project. Been curious about that one for awhile.
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2. Board Game: "300" [Average Rating:3.67 Unranked]
Board Game: "300"
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Time for a little update on my whereabouts and activities:

Wednesday after work, my wife and I drove down to Austin for one of the big annual education tech conferences. My brother and I were actually leading a session this year. We've been working on it the last couple months (him doing more work than me admittedly) and felt decent about it going in. I figured we'd get 50-100 people in the crowd and do a good job. Our session was intentionally not sexy. Most sessions at these events are about the latest and greatest tools, which is fine, but my brother (and me) despite working in and loving ed tech, feel that pedagogy (teaching norms and best practices) gets lost in the mix.

SO... he came up with this idea for our session looking at two big education researchers and where they overlap and in turn, how tech can be used to support their findings. Our session was called "Hattie and Marzano walk into a Bar". Apparently, this name was way more intriguing for people than we realized it would be. We had 350 people in our session and only a handful left during it (bad or mediocre sessions will often lose a lot of the crowd... especially around lunch). At the end, we had quite a few people come up and tell us how much they loved it and we got at least 3 invites to do it at other conferences, at least one of which would be paid.

So... yeah. Pretty cool. I'm pretty humbled by the whole thing as I've never felt like a "source" of good ideas in education. And really, we didn't say anything the crowd didn't already know. I just think we packaged it in a fresh way and people appreciated it.

THAT would be great enough for a post, BUT... you may remember that I said my wife drove down with me. The kids are with grandparents and my wife and I are enjoying a couple of days in Fredericksburg, Texas, a quaint little tourist town in the beautiful Texas hill country. We have a bunch of gift cards from Christmas and birthdays (today is my wife's) so this trip is basically free for us. Lots of food, beer, and a couple of frivolous purchases will be had. Life is good.
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3. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1 [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:532] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1
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There are some WILD sentences in this rule book.

And you can bet your bottom dollar there will be some videos uploaded of me making all sorts of mistakes.
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4. Board Game: After The Virus [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1973]
Board Game: After The Virus
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Thoughts on the game so far: This game raised my h-index in about a week of owning it. I could just stop there. I'm really glad I found this game after deciding I didn't want to hang on to Shadowrun: Crossfire a year or two ago. I like SC, but I just didn't feel like I was immersed in what was happening and as noted in this geeklist, me feeling involved in the narrative of a game is a key to me liking it. AtV shares some similar qualities to SC. It's hard... super hard. It's deckbuilding, though not handled in a traditional way. Every turn is a crunchy thinkfest of figuring out how to best use your limited hand to deal with the ever-growing challenge.

Most importantly, though, despite definitely needing some luck of the draw to win, you will always feel like you could have made a different decision or two and pulled out a win. It feels almost like traditional solitaire (klondike right?) in that way. It seems like there is a solution for every game and it's up to you to figure out. You're going to fail a lot, but the game plays so fast and every game, you'll get just a little bit better at figuring out what cards work in what way and how to balance your deckbuilding.

It's just great. I'm on a decent run with new-to-me games of late.

Let's do some tracking here:

Scenario 1A (6 prepared cards):
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam

Scenario 1B (4 survivors saved):
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam

Scenario 1C (Prepared facility and 6 survivors saved):
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam

Scenario 2A (5 survivors saved each with a destroyed weapon):
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam

Scenario 2B (5 saved, 3 traps, 3 equipment, 3 facilities)
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam

Scenario 2C (Survive to wave 6, all zombies into the deck at wave 5)
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam

Scenario 3A (End turn on wave 8, start at wave 5 with 1 zombie in deck)
Robert
Jennie
Ruth
Adam
---
Original Post:
After returning a couple things to Amazon, I had been sitting on around 30 bucks of credit. Sure, that's nice to have around for practical necessities like refrigerator filters or whatever, but I wanted to get Rat-a-Tat Cat for my daughter and this for me since I've had a slowly growing deckbuilding itch over the last month or so. Wipers Salient kind of scratched it, but I wanted something a smidge more thinky. Gary, among others, has spoken highly of this game with most comments boiling down to "simple, quick, and hard". I liked the sound of that.

Anyway, with RAF under the table cover, I broke this out tonight. Beat the first scenario easily (as it seems you're supposed to) and got crushed by the second one twice. Maybe 'crushed' isn't fair. I did manage to save 2 of the 4 needed hostages both times, but defeat came fast and furious. If you don't stay away from those zombies, they will make you pay.

Update: Scenario 2 defeated. Takeaway: don't get mobbed. The first two scenarios are short so I'm guessing luck plays a bigger role. I'll be curious to see how the 3rd scenario (a long one) goes tonight. When I watched Rahdo's playthrough I thought the mechanics seemed a little blah, but in practice, they're a lot more engaging. This is a pretty neat little game. Curious to see if it has legs.

Scenario 3: Took two runs at this one tonight. You have to find a facility and save 6 people. In my first game, I never saw a facility and got mobbed. Oh well.

In my second game, I came across a lab relatively early, but the location benefit for it was kind of meh so when the tunnels came out shortly after, I decided to push for that one. That hesitation may have cost me as the mob quickly got out of control during that time frame and I only ended up using the benefit of the tunnels once.

So tonight's takeaway: You have to be an opportunist. Waiting is suicide.

This is definitely a good game. The "long" scenario still was only about 30 minutes or so so getting two plays in was easy. Setting up and resetting after you die is fast. What I said in the comments held true tonight. Most turns, you will have a few "good" choices that may or may not work out depending on your next hand. You have to just commit and go for it. The game gives you ways to prepare for a bad draw, but while you're doing that, you're missing chances to progress in your objectives. Finding that balance is key.

And of course, all this is only based on 6 plays. I may change my tune on it eventually, but I'm feeling good about grabbing this. Scratches a similar itch to Shadowrun: Crossfire.

Update: Finally beat 1C with Ruth. Took me 3 tries so still not an easy task even though she starts with the Pub in play. Funnily enough, my final attempt ended up getting done in just a few turns as I got a lucky draw the first time through my deck and was able to save 3 survivors right off the bat. Then, after hitting level 4 on the zombies, I was able to get my blockbuster trap set up and just wait for safehouse to come out and save the last survivor. Ruth took two wounds in the process, but that just added to the drama. She's a tough old lady.
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5. Board Game: All About Colorado Springs Colorado [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: All About Colorado Springs Colorado
Justin
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10 years. Hard to believe I've been married that long... well, not really... we've stayed busy. It IS hard to believe it's been that long since I've seen mountains, though. As my wife observed toward the end of the trip, I just don't get tired of looking at them. We made several trips to Colorado when I was growing up between family vacations and church trips. Most of them took me through the Colorado Springs area and even with several visits under my belt, I still feel like I could go back to that spot. I'm not going to run down every detail, but here are the highlights:

Monday - Leave the house at 7 and make the 11 hour drive straight through. Entering mountain time gets us to our room at about 5:20. We have a beer at Manitou Brewing and dinner across the street. Back to the room for a movie and we pass out around 9:30.

Tuesday - We hang out mainly in Manitou Springs. We do the Navajo Cliff Dwellings which I hadn't seen since childhood and a 45 minute spelunk through the Cave of the Winds which was great. Follow that up with poking around the shops in Manitou Springs and a fondue dinner.

Wednesday - A trip out to the old mining community of Cripple Creek and a ride on the narrow gauge railroad along the mountainside. The town is interesting... mostly mining stuff and casinos, but we had fun. Back to the room for a rest listening to the mountain rain and then a trip into Colorado Springs. There are several game shops in the town and I convinced my wife to browse one with me that was near where we would eat dinner. We went in, got a warm greeting and found the shelves stocked with normal fare. I worked my way to the last shelf near the tables and saw what appeared to be the games you could borrow. Oddly, there were a few old Avalon Hill games on that shelf and one jumped out at me. I picked it up wondering why anyone would come to a shop and borrow it to play, but then saw a price tag. Oh... these are used games up for sale and this one is reasonably priced and according to the guy in the store, his own used copy that was in good shape despite the beat up box. Well shoot... there's my anniversary gift. A game that I traded off for Ambush! with no regrets, but one I thought might be fun to reacquire given the opportunity. Boom.

From gallery of joestin


After dinner we searched for breweries nearby and found one that looked interesting. It's built in an old church and comprises a third of a community gathering space including a restaurant and an artist co-op something or other.

From gallery of joestin

Local Relic Brewing. All they do are one off batches. About 15 taps in constant rotation with new stuff. Cool. Some good, some bad, some great.

Thursday - My first time to ride a horse. Crazy. Super fun. Mine was Poker so-named because he likes to go slow. I had to constantly kick him to keep up, but we became good friends. I see why people get attached to horses. This was the highlight of the trip.

From gallery of joestin


Afterward, we drove further into the mountains to Fairplay crossing my favorite place on earth, Wilkerson Pass. I will never tire of that drive. It's spectacular.

Friday - 11 hours back home. Stopped twice for gas/dinner, but otherwise plowed through. Home by 9:30 to find a sleeping 5 year old and a bubbly, awake, 20 month old.
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6. Board Game: Ambush! [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:853]
Board Game: Ambush!
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I really want to dig hard into this one. I'm going to pay to have the revised rules printed and bound. I've got the play aids and map under plexi. Previously, I've only played the first mission and maybe started the second, but it's time to give this a proper go.

Update: Thankfully, the rules have come back fairly easily. In my past plays of mission 1, I've focused more on the northern half of the map. This time, I had one of my teams move south across the road. We caught some Germans off guard in a building so Chris and Dave each tossed a grenade in. The soldier got wounded, but we incapacitated the sniper. Good stuff.

Update: Sorry Dave... the wounded German was able to get a shot off when you moved in to capture and you took a bullet. You're alive at least. The guys up top were spooked by a German officer in the woods (probably just relieved himself). He took a shot and missed and was then downed and captured by Gary. Good work Gare Bear.

Also, I just hung this out front:
From gallery of joestin


On this upcoming July 4th, let's remember the brave men and women who fought the Nazis courageously for our freedom from taxation without representation.
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7. Board Game: Aventuria: Adventure Card Game [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:2425]
Board Game: Aventuria: Adventure Card Game
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From gallery of joestin


Table feels weird with no hexes on it.

Like Grimslingers, this game has a "duel" mode that comprises a simple head to head combat between two characters. You're encouraged to play a round of that before embarking on the adventure, but I said screw it and ignored that instruction. And it was fine.

So this game plays pretty similarly to LoR LCG, but without the intense deck construction. There's some light deck choices once you've gained some rewards, but that's it and I'm on board. The cardplay is serviceable. Nothing super clever like Champions of Hara, at least from what I saw this one play. Maybe there are surprises in store. But I don't say that as a knock against it really. There are choices to be made, but for the most part you're going to play the best cards in your hand when you have the energy to play them and boom goes the dynamite.

The narrative elements are like Grimslingers as well. You're reading from an adventure "book" at the end of the rulebook. UGH... that means that giant box-sized rule book has to sit spread eagle on the table while I play. Gross. I suppose you could close it during combat, but I had to keep it open for rules referencing so maybe that won't be an issue in the future. I just would have preferred the narrative bits be on their own deck of cards or a separate smaller booklet like Grimslingers. As it is, it's hard to cram everything on the table as the player areas could possible get very crowded in a longer scenario.

So overall? Decent first impression. Certainly a nice change of pace. I don't know if it stays in the collection long term. I could see just going through the scenarios with a trio of characters and calling it a day, but who knows?
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8. Board Game: Baptism at Bull Run [Average Rating:8.29 Unranked]
Board Game: Baptism at Bull Run
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I don't talk a lot about my faith here. I suppose not many of us do unless it's offering prayers for those struggling or relating it to particular life events. Religion is obviously a touchy subject. Truth is an objective concept, but belief is subjective and I appreciate that most of us (at least those in my normal circle here) seem to respect that. I'm always more than willing to discuss what I believe with others, but you'll not find me bringing it up spontaneously or out of context in order to tick a box on the "sharing my faith" chart.

That said, a lot of us share our lives here and have fostered what I think are real friendships even if they don't have a lot of history to fall back on. Today, I woke up this morning not realizing that today would be in the top 5 days of my life. My daughters were baptized this morning and it was one of the most unexpectedly beautiful things I've ever witnessed.

Quick backstory: I grew up in a decidedly evangelical home. Not militantly evangelical mind you. You wouldn't find our pastor(s) preaching politics on Sunday mornings or openly condemning the unsaved heathens walking the streets. I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home and church in which love was priority one. BUT, there were definitely some things I thought were weird and I'd have to chalk it up to what I was taught growing up. One of those things was the bizarre practice of baptizing children, babies especially, who couldn't understand what exactly they were doing. For me, baptism was a response to a choice and nothing further. Add it to the list of other more traditional church practices that were rightfully moved on from over time.

ANYWAY, several years ago, my wife started reading about church history and became really fascinated with church traditions and liturgy and such. Things I barely knew anything about. She also grew up in an evangelical home so all of this was new territory for both of us. Before we left Houston, she was wanting to find a church that valued traditionalism and egalitarianism. The Anglican Church seemed to be the best fit and we found a small congregation meeting at an elementary school close to home. I was trying to do "man" stuff like work, drink beer, and play games, so I just kind of went along for the ride. When it comes to church, I've always been pretty open to whatever. As long as they're not preaching heresy and I can drum from time to time, I'm pretty easy to please. The liturgical stuff and old-school traditions were a little odd to get used to, but I'm getting there. But then a few months ago, the idea of getting the girls baptized came up and suddenly, I had to have a strong stance on something, whether for or against. As I said above, I had to get my head around what was happening, but I got there and was excited for today.

I'm rambling a bit at this point. Long short story shortened, today was the day. All of our local family came to church this morning and over to our house afterward for brats and beer. Everyone at church now knows I'm a crier and I got to enjoy one of the most satisfyingly proud moments of my life. The girls will go through confirmation some time down the road and make their decision about whether or not the believe all this stuff, but until then, we'll just do our best to teach them what we believe the truth is.

If you read all that, I appreciate that you're here. If you didn't and skipped to the bottom to see where I went with all of this, you're appreciated too. If you're not reading this, then I probably still appreciate you in some way, though I'll have to find another opportunity to express it. I'll probably end up editing bits of this post after I reread it a couple times and find mistakes. Forgive the sub pings.

It's a good day.
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9. Board Game: Battles of the Bulge: Celles [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:3367]
Board Game: Battles of the Bulge: Celles
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Using the last bit of my Paypal credit, I grabbed this during the Revolution games sale. It's got good reviews and looked to be a simpler way to dip my feet into a Bulge game after Ardennes '44 completely overwhelmed me (still don't understand how that game is only rated as "moderately" complex).

There's just one scenario here, but seemingly a lot of variety in how it can play out. It's got a movement/combat system remniscent of Unconditional Surrender so it was pretty easy to learn, though I restarted a few times after figuring out rules mistakes. I'm a few turns in still getting a feel for it, but it seems like an even match so far. The Germans are trying to get their units to the big river on the western side of the map, but they have a pretty limited time in which to do it. It's chit pull unit activation so easy to solo.

From gallery of joestin

Really nice looking map

It's Christmas Eve. Who's side is Santa on?
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10. Board Game: Black Orchestra [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:461]
Board Game: Black Orchestra
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Status: GONE

I forget why I let this go. It was relatively recent. I think it was around the time I was trying to get cash for the Switch. I may regret it at some point as it's a really cool game, but I think it's one I would much prefer to play multiplayer rather than solo and it wasn't going to get a lot of plays that way.

---



Okay, I really have to stop. I've seen this in my FLGS (the giant one that's 5 minutes from my house... still love that) the last few times I've been in there, but it's 60 MSRP and though it looks really cool, I wasn't convinced enough that I'd enjoy it to go for that. It was pushing that price online as well so I've passed.

Until a few days ago when Amazon had this marked down to a price that just happened to match what I just sold a couple of games for in the last week or two. Ugh... couldn't resist. I like supporting the LGS, but money is money.

I set this up yesterday and just pulled levers for awhile to see what would happen. Hitler's military was maxed out and I didn't really have a plan in place. Reset this morning. Wife is out with daughter and baby actually went down easy. Sheets in the washer, time to have a little fun.

And fun it's been. Now that I understand how the game works, I can actually try things. I just had a chance at taking down Hitler in the first stage (of 7) and took it because he was distracted by his parade in Berlin and I wasn't risking any failure. Typically, I wouldn't be satisfied with a game that let me win in the first 10 minutes, but we're killing Hitler here.

I failed the attempt, though, so we trudge on. That was a thrilling roll of dice, though. Good first impression.

Update:

External image


The lesson today: I have to make myself slow down with this game. I attempted two plays over the course of today but had to shut down both because I got so excited about what was going to happen that I moved the wrong pawns for 2 or 3 turns. In my first play, I was able to catch it and undo it, but lost when both conspirators got arrested. Just now, I'm pretty sure I moved the wrong one for 3 straight turns. How? I don't know.

Anyway. Slow down.

Update: BOOM!

From gallery of joestin


Oh, that was great. I had all the pieces in place, I just had to get Hitler's military support down and wait for him to move. One of his guys got in trouble so he made his way to the Chancellory which gave me my opportunity. I had two reroll cards and came up with 3 hits on the first roll. The first reroll missed. The second... well, you see what happened.

That was on easy which was by no means an easy task, though I haven't seen how the game state evolves into the last couple of stages. This happened in stage 5. But man, what a trip. This is definitely "gamey" so look elsewhere if euro-style mechanisms are a turnoff, but I'd liken it to Knizia's The Lord of the Rings in that the feeling is dead on. This is a tense affair of resource management and push your luck and every time one of those events leads to Hitler and his deputies foiling your plans, it hurts. We'll see about longevity. I could see playing this one 10-20 times, winning a handful of them, and then deciding you got what you wanted out of it. Or maybe it will become a long-term favorite. We'll see. Either way, the plays to get there should be fun.
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11. Board Game: The Blood of an Englishman [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:2215]
Board Game: The Blood of an Englishman
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This arrived today from my little Amazon gift card purchase. Convinced my wife to play a couple times before we watch Handmaid's Tale.

I liked it a lot. It's pretty on the table and presents a nice little asymmetrical puzzle for 2. I was the giant both times and won both times, though just barely.

The small simple games are a hit with my wife right now and will probably remain the go-to's while she's in grad school.
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12. Board Game: A Castle for All Seasons [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1363]
Board Game: A Castle for All Seasons
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The other day, my wife brought up the idea of dedicating one night a week to a game and one night a week to reading. Both of these things are things I'd like to do more of so the "YES" was shooting out of my mouth before she even finished the thought.

We started tonight with this 'old favorite'. We haven't actually played that many times, but this was one of the first games I picked up with my wife in mind. It was sitting on the shelf of the FLGS in Houston with a clearance sticker on it. Those were the days of more dispensable income so I said what the heck and grabbed it. It's now "The Castle Game" for us and we've enjoyed every play of it. It's every bit of a Euro, but it's a little more interesting than a simple cube converter. You're trying to construct different buildings within a castle community using various resources. You have deck of 8 cards with different actions on them that you play through until you decide to 'reset' your deck with the Master Builder card. It's got some fantastic Michael Menzel artwork and rules that are relatively easy to grasp.

I obliterated my wife with a score of 100-something to 60-something, but she enjoyed it and actually suggested we play this one for the next few weeks so that she can get better at it. Fingers crossed this idea holds. Having young children has led us to watching a lot more TV than we used to and I've been hoping to break away from it for awhile now.

From gallery of joestin


Update: Laura just beat me! I love it! She's talking about the idea of "other games" like this one. meeple

So it's making me think about Euros. In my mind, I don't own many Euros, but we have Agricola, Pillars of the Earth, Loyang, Terraforming Mars, and Carcasonne. Of those, She even said that Pillars might be a little "too similar" to Castle. Guh WHAH!?

I'm a happy man right now. whistle
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13. Board Game: Cataclysm: A Second World War [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:2275]
Board Game: Cataclysm: A Second World War
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And... acquistions done for awhile... seriously... I swear. shake

One could call this an impulse purchase. It just started shipping and only a couple people in my sphere have posted about it. But if you go back a year or so, I got it in my head that I wanted a World War 2 grand strategy game to sit alongside The Lamps Are Going Out on the shelf. Something that kept battle minutiae to a minimum and covered the big picture of the war in a relatively simple way. As far as I could tell from people's reports, Cataclysm seemed to pull this off. I've had a handful of games on my radar and almost grabbed Blitz! A World in Conflict at one point, but I just never was convinced that anything was going to fulfill what I was looking for.

All that said, I had no plans of picking up anything until I found that long lost gift card in the bedside table after the move. A call to my FLGS led to a preorder and it arrived coincidentally while Robert and I were there playing most of Friday. And to top all of it off, they gave a 20% discount on the purchase (I assume because of the preorder, though they didn't tell me that ahead of time... awesome). So there we go. I had said that only one thing would boot Ambush from the table this week and sure enough. Here it is. I went through the example of play last night. Skimmed some of the rules (I'm not the type to read the rules like a book ahead of time... often to my detriment) and just got started pulling chits in between building pillow forts and moving my baby around the house to keep her from fussing.

So far, Germany and Italy formed their alliance followed soon after by Britain and France. Then Germany talked Benelux into letting them put down some roots. Sneaky Germans.

From gallery of joestin


Update: Yeah, I'm going to have to bite the bullet and just read the rulebook for this one. Cover to cover. It's not the complexity, it's the terminology. I need to have these terms in my head so I have a better frame of reference. I just checked on increasing Germany's commitment to Mobilization, but they don't require an effectiveness check if they're belligerant. I'm pretty sure they're not, but I have to go look up what that means. I've had to do that for several things already. Anyway... not a bad thing, just not my norm.

Update: Oh boy am I liking this. I'm sure I'm playing some stuff extremely wrong, but I've got the general flow down pretty well. The ideologies ended up at war with each other. Germany hit France hard and caused them to collapse, but they didn't fold entirely. Britain was able to take Libya from Italy which caused Italy to then collapse. They're in a little worse shape than France, but definitely not inert. Germany, meanwhile, has created a nice little wall of influence running from Scandinavia southward. They'll be a hard nut to crack. I'm headed into the final turn with the fascists at the victory condition. If Japan attacks Pearl Harbor (which will happen with a chit pull), it's over. Britain needs some heroics to swing things the other way. Germany has to decide if it's going to play the diplomacy game and try to swing another country or two to their side or hit France again.

From gallery of joestin


Update: First play in the books. Britain pulled off a last minute diplomatic agreement with Norway to swing VPs the democracies direction before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

First Impressions:
1. What a great rulebook. I haven't encountered anything even slightly unclear. I caught one incorrect reference number and the layout took a few flipthroughs to get used to, but it all makes sense once you've been through it. I'm sure I'm still doing a handful of things wrong, but that's fine. Assuming this game sticks around, I'll get things cleared up along the way.

2. The game does indeed tell a story as you play. I was actually surprised at how quickly it came together considering how differently this game plays (at least compared to anything I've played). By the end of it, I could feel the tension of the nation's leaders trying to figure out their best plays for success. Germany had a chance to either attack France again or do the Norway diplomacy. They chose the latter and I wonder how it might have played out the other direction. Interesting.

3. Once you play through a turn on your own, things move at a good clip. The scenario I played runs through just two full turns, but a lot happens in those turns. Especially the second when the war was underway and acts of aggression kept putting flags back in play for each country (flags let you do political actions). Now that I more or less know what I'm doing, I could see this scenario only taking a couple hours to get through as the rules suggest.

4. I haven't really messed with naval or air combat yet. I was ready to conduct some aerial operations into Germany by the end of the game, but it ended before I could try. I guess this isn't an impression.

As you can probably tell, I think this will probably be a winner. I'm going to hang out in Europe for at least a couple more plays before I move over to the PTO. I wish my plexi covered the width of both maps. I may just have to figure out how to pay for the mounted ones. whistle

Short Update: So most of my night gaming recently has looked like an hour or so of board game and another hour or so of video game. Last night, for the first time in a long time, I started playing a board game, looked up, and realized that 2+ hours had passed without me realizing it. Pretty cool.

My second play is going entirely different from the first. France AND Britain have both collapsed. Germany has spread it's tendrils throughout Eastern Europe and looks to keep that chokehold in place. Italy conquered Provence so France is down a resource. One more turn to go, but it's not looking good for democracy.
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14. Board Game: Champions of Hara [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:3697]
Board Game: Champions of Hara
Justin
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I hope I don't regret it, but Fallout is gone and this is on the way. All blame will be placed on Chr... Gary if I don't like it.

From gallery of joestin


I did the intro versus arena today with Oric and Leaf. Oric won so now we're going to do A Drop in the Well. Early impressions are good.

Guess I'll track progress here and not mark up the rulebook.

Oric
A Drop in the Well -
The Chosen -
Warrior in Distress -
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15. Board Game: ComancherĂ­a: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:1835]
Board Game: ComancherĂ­a: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire
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From gallery of joestin


No, it's not Gears. I know, I know. I'll regret it someday. Or not.

Pictured: My new little gaming corner in the front room of our new house. At some point, I plan to build or purchase a nicer looking table so that it looks like an actual piece of furniture. Will still have to be covered, though.

Not pictured: Wall mounted shelves for games. Perhaps a summer project. For now, they're stashed various places. The Crokinole board will go on the wall by the window.

I went back and forth on what to set up first. Gears was an obvious choice, but I didn't feel like committing to an entire play of something just yet. I really want to get back to Fields of Fire, but that's going to require some mental energy I simply don't have at the moment. I wanted something I could pick at for the next week or two. Comancheria is awesome. Done.

Update 4-3-18:

From gallery of joestin


I posted on SGOYT for the first time in awhile and I don't feel like copying the same thing here. Any of you reading this list know (even if second hand) how good this game and its big brother are. I played through the first Passage of Time tonight. My first solo game in months. It felt great. I didn't find myself missing the video games at all.

That said, I had some bad luck on a couple of raids and couldn't manage to keep a ravaged marker on the last enemy tribe during the first PoT so I'm arguably still at square 1. I have managed to advance my Rancheria a bit, but the big amount of reinforcement I put into its bands was negated by disease. Pesky Europeans.
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16. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:145]
Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe
Justin
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Time to revisit this. I don't think I've played it since we moved a couple years ago and that's entirely too long.
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17. Board Game: D-Day at Tarawa [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:2597]
Board Game: D-Day at Tarawa
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From gallery of joestin


I have just a couple weeks until work starts back up and who on earth knows what that's going to look like so I want to take advantage of my last bit of flexible time to sneak in the new stuff.

My oh my does Decision Games need a new die cutter. Yeesh. I think it was technically better than when I punched Omaha Beach years ago, but not my much. I had to super glue a couple counters where the corner ripped away. Other than that, everything looks good.

I played through the first Japanese fire phase and as you would imagine, already had some guys go down.
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18. Board Game: Dallas: A Game of the Ewing Family [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:16253]
Board Game: Dallas: A Game of the Ewing Family
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1-4-19 Marty's House: The War Room is like a black hole. I was there from 1 PM to midnight yesterday (that's 11 hours for those keeping score) and I swear it felt like 4... maybe 5. Obviously that means I was enjoying myself. We played a bunch of stuff ranging from an abstract (Abalone) to a political conflict (13 Days) to a euro (Snowdonia) to deduction (Sheriff of Nottingham) to a thematic deckbuilder (Alien). That's one of things I like best about playing with these guys. Mixing things up makes for a great time. I won our game of Blueprints and helped deal the killing blow to the Perfect Organism in Alien to end the night, but otherwise, it was a pretty futile effort in the win department for me. No matter. Our 2019 budget dictated that I buy cheap beer so it was a 6-pack of Lone Star for me of which I drank 5 through the day and felt absolutely nothing. Ended the night with a 45 minute drive home listening to the Jai Wolf Pandora station. A fantastic way to wind down a pretty decent holiday break.

7-28-18 Meetup at Peticolas Brewery: One last summer get together with Robert and Marty. Beers and games all afternoon.

1. Blood of an Englishman - Marty and I played while waiting for Robert. I won as the Giant, but I'd wager another play or two would see me beaten. Still love this game. Definitely my go-to 2-player at this point.

2. Spirit Island - REDEMPTION! I was fully awake and played pretty well (if I don't say so myself). We won by taking out all the cities. What a great game.

3. Sunset Over Water - Fun. Robert beat me by one point.

4. Black Orchestra - Made myself hoarse trying to teach this in a loud room, but it paid off with Robert's poisoning of the Fuhrer (right? wasn't that the plot?). I think we played everything right (a tall order when I'm teaching a game). Loved it. Such a unique experience.

5. Mint Delivery - Whoops... forgot to mention this one. I hadn't played the other Mint game. Neat idea. This game is basically a scaled down version of Great Heartland Hauling Co. Marty left so it was just me and Robert. I enjoyed it, but as Robert pointed out, might be more interesting with 3+.

And of course, the beers were outstanding. Peticolas isn't my favorite brewery for nothing. Had a couple of IPAs, a casked winter warmer, and my favorite barleywine: THE DUKE!

Work's starting back up soon. Not sure when I'll see these guys again, but it's always fantastic to meet up with them. I'm glad they keep me around.

6-29-18 Meetup at Madness Games (near Justin's house): Robert graciously drove out to my neck of town again yesterday for some games over at the massive game store nearby. We got there and got rolling shortly after it opened and after browsing around a bit, cracked open some boxes.

1. After The Virus: First up, we gave this recent hotness a go 2-player. Played 1C since that's where Robert is. We lost, but got fairly close to a victory. The only real change with multiplayer is that you can kill each other's zombies and that came in real handy a few times. I lucked out with an early chainsaw which saved the day at least twice for both of us.

2. Twilight Struggle: Grabbed a quick lunch and then got rolling with this bad boy. This was my required game for the day. I love it, but rarely get to play it. I'm also really bad at it as Robert quickly found out when he trounced me a couple turns into mid-war. It was his first time playing it so I'm going to be tacky and chalk it up to beginner's luck*.

3. K2: On to Robert's required play for the day. I've been interested in this one off and on for awhile. It did not disappoint. East to learn, but tense, fun decisions throughout. I actually trounced Robert this time which I'm going to totally NOT chalk up to beginner's luck. All skill baby.

4. The Blood of an Englishman: I really like this game. Sort of chess-like, but with completely different mechanics for the Giant and Jack. I played Jack and Robert played the Giant all 3 times. I won the first two, but Robert got me in the third with a slick move. I was one action from victory.

5. Tiny Epic Quest: Another that I've had interest in from time to time, but I don't see enough good buzz on the solo game to warrant a purchase. I liked it. Robert beat me, but it was at least close. Some wonky mechanics and you could probably apply a handful of different themes to it... pretty Euroey.

Burgers for dinner with my wife.

6. Back to my house since Friday Night Magic was in full force at the store. My wife wanted to try K2 so we all played that again. Robert won, but it was really close between all 3 of us. Robert won the tiebreaker for reaching the summit first, but my wife was only a few points behind us.

7. Sunset Over Water: Finished with this one. My daughters had to be brought back home due to my parent's AC malfunctioning. Sucky, since my wife and I were going to sneak out for a late drink, but oh well. Sunset was a lot of fun. Definitely in a similar vein to Herbaceous, but definitely different enough to have both. I bet I own it one day, but I need to not spring too much new stuff on my wife, lest I cause another burnout.

That was the games. I also had a nice surprise at the game store which I will report on elsewhere. As always, Robert is a great opponent. Hopefully, we'll get to sneak in one more meetup this summer after Marty's back from galavanting around the southwest.

*In this case, luck refers to Robert being good at games and me making at least a few really stupid mistakes

5-25-18 Meetup at Justin's house:I had the pleasure of hosting Marty and Robert last night for some drinks, pizza, and games. Everything about the night was high quality.

The Drinks:
1. I had a local super strong 12% IPA just before they arrived which may now be my favorite IPA. Martin House Big Hoppa... good stuff. Then I drank some Old Bardstown bourbon (good and economical) and spilled some while we were playing which was sad. Finished with a Houston brew, a St. Arnold Bishop's Barrel 19 which was a cherry pie inspired sour... also good.

2. Robert had some whiskey, Coke and some Mountain Dew. I'm pretty sure he mixed the first two, but probably not the third.

3. Marty had a Dallas IPA, Four Corners El Chignon IPA. Good stuff.

The Pizza:
Pizza Hut pepperoni and a CB/Pineapple. Pizza Hut has risen in my esteem over the last couple years.

The Games:
1. Herbaceous - I actually won with 49 points. Potted my first two conservatively which left me room to wait for better combos on my last two. Love this game. Cut-throat and relaxing all at once.

2. Santorini - My third play of this. Robert won because he knew what he was doing. I thought I knew what I was doing a couple times, but for the most part, I think Marty and I were just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing if it stuck.

3. Renegade - Wow is this one a punch in the face when you're first looking at everything. Lots of colors, pieces, and unique vocabulary. I'm still not sure I understand how it all works, but it was a pretty neat little doom management puzzle. We won this one together.

4. Spirit Island - Finally I get to see what all the fuss is about. Sadly, I started to run on fumes at this point (should have made coffee) so I had a hard time figuring out what I was doing. Carrying out my actions wasn't too difficult, but I had no sense of strategy and I never did figure out how combat worked. However, it is really cool looking on the table and I'm pretty sure I'll end up picking this up one day. Lots of game in that box. I do indeed see what all the fuss is about. Oh and we lost... bad apparently. I'm probably to blame.

No Gears. We could have tried to squeeze it in, but we were all wanting to try Renegade and Spirit Island was my one required game to play during the evening. Next time.

From gallery of joestin


I should have taken some more pictures including a Marty trademark selfie, but alas, I'm horrible when it comes to that stuff. The night was awesome. It's nice living a little bit closer (we're about an hour from each other in normal traffic rather than the 1.5+ we were before) so hopefully, it will be easier to get together going forward. Love playing with these guys.
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19. Board Game: Don't Tread On Me: The American Revolution Solitaire Board Game [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:5875]
Board Game: Don't Tread On Me: The American Revolution Solitaire Board Game
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Felt like time to get this back to the table.

Turn 1: New England is lost to the rebel cause. British suffer devastating losses at Lexington. Liberty at 1.

Turn 2: The British make an addlebrained decision in New York. King George sprinkles some magic time dust and undoes this. Things still go bad elsewhere, though a minor campaign in New York is temporarily halted by Hessian mercs. Liberty at 2.

Turn 3: After continental enlistments expired to great effect last turn, the British are able to mount a bit of a comeback. New York, Pennsylvania, and Carolina all go back to the Crown. The rebels mount a foolish and unsuccessful invasion of Quebec. Liberty at 2.
This turn was a good demonstration of a player's influence on the game. I've seen comments (from me early on, too) that this game plays itself, but I made some very specific tactical and strategic choices this turn that turned out well. I was still at the mercy of the dice, but I was able to put the odds in my favor.

Turn 4: An uneventful turn. The rebels didn't push very hard, but they did drop a unit in Pennsylvania that the British couldn't do anything about. Liberty at 3.

Turn 5: Eat it Arnold (but still join the empire after turn 9 kthxbye).

From gallery of joestin


That was an insane turn of luck after the rebels carried out what should have been an easy minor campaign in Virginia. The outnumbered British forces parried and launched a bold counter attack (to quote the rulebook). The 6 means that all defending units were eliminated. Awesome. Too bad I didn't get the loyalty boost since Washington was there. Rest of the turn was back and forth, but we managed to control 3 colonies by the end. Liberty at 3.

Turn 6: Finally feel like I've got my forces spread out well across the colonies and was successful in holding back the rebels once again. Arnold is one persistent dude. I've knocked him out twice but he came back yet again to launch a major campaign in Carolina. He was unsuccessful. I need him to meet Peggy already so I can get that fire on my side. Liberty at 3.

Turn 7: Oof. The rebels hit hard this turn. Arnold got his revenge in Carolina and a major campaign in New England just about wiped out the British there. Liberty at 4.

Turn 8: Parliament was ready to throw in the towel. Rebels popped up EVERYWHERE this turn. King George had none of it and apparently, the British were inspired. They won just about every battle this turn and managed to retake control of 3 colonies. Liberty at 4.
So at this point, I just need to keep the liberty marker from moving two more turns (of the next 6) and I'll have a chance to concede independence and gain a "marginal British victory". I'm pretty excited about this.

Turn 9: Welp... the title for Revolutionary War Turning Point might be jointly held by the battles of Hudson Valley and Piedmont. Rebels captured the former in New York (the target state), thus ensuring a liberty increase unless they foolishly tried to overreach into a minor campaign (they didn't). Piedmont was the bigger disaster as the French helped the rebels wipe Virginia clean of British presence. That will be hard to recover from. Liberty at 5.

P.S. Arnold was executed.

Turn 10: One more before bed. Momentum has definitely shifted, though we've managed to hold the northern colonies fairly tight. We caught a break when the rebels launched an ill-planned major campaign in New England. Their one Committee of Safety was hung out to dry. Liberty at 6.

Turn 11: Oh my, the "Invasion Scare" event hurts... like a lot. Some of my strongest units were reassigned to fight in the Mediterranean. Ugh. So yeah, another bad turn. I don't think this is going to end well. My Navy has been been either absent or ineffective the last few turns so Continentals are dropping in all over the place. Liberty at 7.

Turn 12: I need to go check the errata, but Liberty hit 8 this turn which is a British defeat on the scoring scale, but the sequence of play says you're defeated if the liberty marker reaches 9 so I'm not sure which is right.

Either way, stick a fork in it. The French have a stranglehold on Virginia (the target state in turn 13) so even if defeat should be scored on a 9, we're probably done. Need to get that table cleared for the Phantoms.

This was easily my most satisfying play of this game. It's got it's flaws, chief among them it outstaying its welcome a bit, but I'm also not sure what part of the game I would streamline. Maybe you could combine the rebel placement and campaign phases into one... I don't know. The positives far outweigh the negatives, though. The system is great and there is a lot more nuance to your decisions than is first apparent. Having certain units in certain places can make a BIG difference. I also love that I learn a little something new about the Revolutionary War every time I play, be it a note I missed in the rules or looking into a name on a counter to see why they have the stats they do (Morgan is really good in the wilderness, for example).

Anyway, great game. The rules come back to me quick enough that even just playing once every year or two is no big deal. Maybe I'll win one day.
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20. Board Game: Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:3590]
Board Game: Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid
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As I posted on SGOYT, this is my next endeavor. I'll probably make a few videos for it, too, as I have enjoyed making them... useless as they are.

I'm just diving into the full campaign head first. Already, I proved myself an idiot by looking through all the game materials twice to figure out where the separate planning blotter was. The picture in the instructions looked just different enough from how it appears on the main board that it threw me. 3 minutes of my life I will never get back.
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21. Board Game: Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:3535]
Board Game: Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid
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Man... take my cardboard away for a couple months and watch me want to play everything at once when I get it back. Oh well... I'm having fun. Life is wearing me out right now (everything's okay, just busy and baby) so I'm grabbing every little moment I can to get some play time in.

I was between Doolittle and Fields of Fire, but I think I'm going to need to do a little forum reading before I dive into FoF again so Doolittle it is. I played quite a bit wrong in my first full play so this time I'm going to take it slow and try to make sure I'm doing things right.

Planning: *original text deleted*

Let's try this again. After a little more investigation, it seems that I already had a couple things mixed up. For one thing, Doolittle being on the phone is all or nothing so just having him benefit a couple of months is pointless. I decided to keep him off it and have him stationed at Eglin to help train the crews.

Also, Nimitz becomes harder to convince as time goes on so pushing him out later does little more than slightly reduce your security risk, so I bumped him up to March.

ALSO, flying 19 bombers is a little silly since flying 18 or fewer affords you a couple of nice benefits. Anyway, all that done. I played through the planning phase tonight. I'd call it a success overall.

From gallery of joestin


Positives:
-Planes are nicely equipped and carrying extra ordnance while staying under the 'heavy' weight threshold
-Crews are pretty well trained even though they had to leave their wives at home and I stationed extra MPs at the base.
-Doolittle stayed off the phone

Negatives:
-China and Nimitz both struggled to get on board with the plan. I had to just brief everyone involved which made security take a hit.
-The task force is delayed meaning that rendezvous with Nimitz could be tricky. Hopefully, this mission doesn't end before it even starts
---
Thoughts to this point: Wow, did I miss a lot of stuff my first time through. I'm using the actual rulebook more than the player aid this run and it's shed light on several things. Eventually, the aids will be plenty, but I'm glad to take it slower. The decisions are also meatier in the planning phase than I thought. Every little decision has potentially huge ramifications.

Naval:

Things went well at first. Despite rough seas, the task force made it to Midway easily and rendezvoused with the Enterprise no problem. That's where the problems began, however. The Japanese had a lot of eyes in the air and on the waves. My security risk spiraled out of control and an air boat caught my task force napping just before we were set to launch the B-25s.

Airstrike.

I could have attempted a launch of the B-25s. We were close enough to Japan after all, but they would be at risk of attack and may not all get off the deck in time. I figured I had a full complement of destroyers and cruisers to fend off the strike. The carrier group defended their objective valiantly. 3 dive bombers downed by flak. 3 torpedo bombers downed by flak.

One torpedo bomber attacked from the south. He was persistent.

From gallery of joestin


He broke through and got his ordnance off. On target. The Hornet was damaged and with that, all the B-25s were lost.

Game over.
---
Thoughts: Well, that was an abrupt ending, and I could see how many people might not be satisfied with that kind of outcome. You could just reset from before the airstrike, though.

You know what that ending did have going for it, though? Narrative power. We were so close to launch. We'd managed to stay relatively covert up to that point and it all just fell apart so quickly. When I flipped the hazard chit and saw that air boat with the '!', my heart sank. I knew this was going to be rough. As the Japanese bombers rolled in, I could see the ships' crews scrambling to defensive positions. Flak peppering the air. It was awesome. Then the one got through...

I see why ECA is so beloved. Great game.
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22. Board Game: Fallout [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1029]
Board Game: Fallout
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Sticky edit

Co-op House Rules for single character:

1. When you level up, restore HP to full (this may be OP, but seems necessary at this point... may adjust to restoring a certain amount of HP)
2. If playing as the Lone Gunslinger and you draw a companion as loot (which you're not allowed to equip), get one redraw.
3. Single character victory condition probably needs to be adjusted. Either:
a. Abandon the victory track entirely other than to strengthen the Enclave (this would require knowing what the ultimate end point of the questline is and having to achieve that for the win)
b. Allow the character to take more actions per turn (This might mess up balance at a smaller scale... not sure)
------------------------
From gallery of joestin


Taking my first steps into the wasteland and running into looters at the Super Duper Mart is a great first impression for this game.

Update 1-2-18: And done! Missed victory by one influence, though I realized that I voluntarily completed a quest that did it so I guess I could have not done that. Hard to feel like you lost when your aligned faction accomplished their goal.

I like the game itself a lot. If you've played Runebound, you can imagine what this game is like. A few things are a little more dynamic, but the overall questing/fighting feel is the same. I love the way Fallout handles combat. Roll 3 dice and then do whatever reroll/manipulation you need to do. No figuring up strengths and modifiers. It's those 3 dice every time and best I can tell, it works well. Neat system.

Questing is pretty fun, too. It often goes beyond simple skill tests, though there are plenty of those, too. Questing often alters the decks and may slightly change the board state when you "stage" the next part of that quest or a new one. I'm sure other games have done something like this before, but this is new to me. I like it.

People seem a little lukewarm on the solo rules. They don't change too much about how the game is played and I actually didn't mind them for a first run. I may read around about what others are doing with it. I think Kurt mentioned playing 2 characters or something like that. We'll see.

Dadgum, I'm tired. Need to hit the sack. One more day of Christmas break sadly, but it's been a good one. Fields of Fire should be on the porch tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow night can be the 'reading' night.

Play 2 / 1-2-18: Played the Commonwealth scenario again as the Ghoul. I felt pretty hapless wandering wasteland as I failed to find any sort of weapon the first half of the game. I finally found a wrench. Because of this, the board quickly filled with enemies as I explored and I was just trying to complete quests and find a good place to shop. It was frustrating, but also pretty fun. I just kept imagining my character griping in his raspy ghoul voice the whole time. I scraped my way toward the end, but came up short of victory when a Deathclaw eviscerated me outside Railroad headquarters. I took it down with me, though, and with that, maintained my dignity.

Play 3 / 1-7-18: Commonwealth again, this time as the Brotherhood Outcast. He starts off with some tough power armor (-2 hits), but you only get 1 move point per move action (you can pay a cap to negate this per turn). So normally, he/she can't even move through difficult terrain. Interesting.

So my big tank just trekked across the wasteland offing baddies and slowly helped the Institute achieve their goal, but not slow enough unfortunately. I unexpected reached the end of that quest line which ended the game. I was 2 influence short. I had a lot of fun again playing around in the Fallout universe, but I'm now definitely seeing the flaw in the solo game. In this play, I was allied to the Institute. Helping them achieve their goals should ONLY help me win, but in this case, TECHNICALLY, I lost because they reached the end of their track before I had the required 11 influence. I guess thematically, I'm trying to figure out the significance of my personal influence. I mean I get it... I want to be a renowned wastelander known for his amazing survival skills, but losing because I did something good feels off. This may be exactly what others have written about this and I'm forgetting who so if you've already talked about this issue, I'm not trying to take credit.

Some possible solutions:
1. If I help my allied faction win, then I also win. Simple.
-Drawback: I can just complete that faction's quests which would water down a experience a bit.

2. If my allied faction wins, I reduce my required influence by X (not sure what number would be best).
-Drawback: Not sure... this may be the best bet.

3. Ditch solo and play 2 wastelanders. This may be where I go with it. "Winning" this game is secondary to having loads of fun in the Fallout universe. Maybe I pick two characters and role play a little bit. Maybe they both have to achieve their required influence. I don't know.

4. See what other people who are smarter than me are doing with the solo variant (I'll do this regardless).

Anyway, none of the above gripe(s) is meant to sour anyone on this game. It's a really good time. I feel like I can usually tell with 3 plays if a game is going to work for me or not. I'm pretty sure I was doubting Runebound by 3 plays. I don't know why my mind always goes back to Runebound to make analogies/comparisons. Maybe I just really wanted to like that game. I'm still sad I couldn't get into it.

Update 4/2018 Forgot to mention I played this to complete a rare gaming hat trick on Saturday. Played the Fallout 3 scenario (blanking on the actual name) as a super mutant. I had a reset after several turns after realizing I was spawning enemies wrong. What's cool about that is that my starting agenda card led to a butterfly affect creating an entirely different story between the two plays. Still love how the game uses its dice. Roll all three everytime... combat, tests, everything. It's pretty brilliant.

I still haven't decided on a solo variant. I was killed on my second play with about 6 of 11 points needed. I was maybe a little over halfway through the game. I think I like this game for the adventure and probably won't worry too much about "winning" anyway.
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23. Board Game: Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:2989]
Board Game: Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats
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Sorry Gary... that was pretty gorram enjoyable.

There's a beautiful mess under my table cover that I already can't wait to get back to in 24 hours.

Update 24 hours later: Just finished the "Questionable Objectives" mission again. Two plays and two pretty varied experiences. I tried to be a little sneakier this time. Jayne and Zoe tried to pick a couple of goons off on the edges of the map while Mal strolled up to the main area and attempt to lure guards off their posts.

Zoe succeeded in sneaking into one of the buildings and blowing away a cowboy with her shotgun before they knew what was coming (brutal, but effective). Jayne lured a goon around the corner out of sight and tried to lay them out with a solid punch. Unfortunately, the goon was a martial artist and dodged the punch. Jayne found himself a bit outmatched until Zoe came back out and helped him out. She had to patch him up afterward.

While all this is going on Mal casually strolled up to the first cowboy he saw and spun a story about some guy somewhere who needed him and that he (Mal) was there to relieve him at his post. The cowboy wasn't buying it and called out to all the goons nearby to come take care of the browncoat.

From gallery of joestin

"Whoa... easy now gentlemen. We're just having a chat."

Mal punched out the grizzled gunman and the punk and ducked around the corner after the tracker's first bullet grazed him. Hearing the racket, Jayne bolted down to help while Zoe decided to calmly move to the other side and see if she could take out one of the last waiting guards without stirring up further trouble. Jayne rounded the corner of the center building and knifed the tracker.

Then the power went out. Shaky grid I suppose. This left the doors to the center building conveniently unlocked so Jayne waltzed in to see what their objective was. It was a set up. 3 more thugs surrounded the building. They entered and had Jayne on the ropes 3 to 1. However, one of them walked right by Zoe (who was acting casual) so she was able to follow him in and blast him with the shotgun. Mal ran in and helped Jayne take out the other two. Mal and Jayne were bruised up pretty bad, but they just had to make it out of town and claim the bounties on the downed goons.

Just as they were about to make it out, two more goons got the drop on them. A duelist and another martial artist. The duelist shot Jayne who went down just steps from the map edge. Zoe turned and downed the martial artist while Mal grabbed Jayne and drug him to safety.
---
Holy cow. I took no notes during this play but everything that happened during it is vivid in my mind. It's early and the honeymoon phase could wear off, but I'm loving this. It's got some rules issues, but it's the type of game that perfectly allows the "just do what makes sense" approach when questions arise. Can't wait to try another mission tomorrow night.

Update: I really want to play this again tonight, but I can't leave it set up because the buildings are too tall for the table cover so I have to basically start from scratch with set up every time, which is a bit fiddly here (though not horrible).

Choices.
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24. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:899]
Board Game: Fleet
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I'm loving being back at the table. I'll get back to Ghost Recon and Kingdom Come over the summer probably, but right now, my gaming time will be spent with cards and cardboard.

My wife and I got back into our game/reading night groove this week (is it a groove on just one week back?). I put a few options on the table including Fleet, but she opted for Jaipur instead (which was great... love that game).

But I was really hoping to play Fleet. I haven't played it in awhile. Some may recall this being an incredibly awesome gift from the great Mo that he sent me just after my house flooded. That was 2 years ago this week... maybe that's what put the game in my mind. I loved the look of this game from the first time I saw it and most people seemed to regard its gameplay well. It's almost Race for the Galaxy like in the way you build a tableau paying with cards in your hand and gathering resources to cash in. It's a game I'd like to play with 3 or 4 sometime (perhaps the last day of school whistle).

Anyway, I went ahead and set it up to solo last night, but was dog tired after being up late the night before finishing Doolittle. I played one turn while my daughter was going to bed and will finish later tonight.

ALSO... check out the awesome shelf we inherited from the in-laws!

From gallery of joestin


Sadly, it will not fit Gears well. That will remain in the closet until further notice.

Game 1:
Captain TC - 25
Captain Kirkman - 24
Captain Joe - 33

I got pretty lucky with the launches. TC only launched 3 boats and Kirkman just 1. I think I played everything right, though I expected the game to last more rounds. If you build the license deck for a 3P game, I don't know how you actually make it into rounds 8, 9, and 10 unless I missed something about reshuffling the licenses.

Hold up... you don't clear unbought licenses from the offer. Well, crap. I mean... me and both captains were playing under the same wrong conditions, right? I still can call this a valid win, right?

...

right?

Game 2:
TC - 31
Kirkman - 28
Joe - 44

Crap... I wasn't fishing for the other captains. The solo rules should point out not to forget this.

Someday, I will play this game right.


Wait... I just watched a playthrough of solo and they didn't fish for the other captains either. That would seem to make the solo game really easy. Maybe I'm missing something...

I promise I'm not doing a bit. I finally found the sentence. All captains' boats are credited with 4 crates of fish at game end. I think in my last play TC had 3 boats and Kirkman, 2 so I beat Kirkman easily, but may have been beat by TC.

Rerack. Going to get it right this time.

Game 3:
TC - 56
Kirkman - 74
Joe - 55

NOOOOOOOOOO! So close to not last. Kirkman launched 7 boats which basically made it impossible for me or TC to compete.
---
Thoughts: Not to keep bringing up Race for the Galaxy, but this is another game that should keep me from missing it too bad. The AI is easy to work, the rules are simple (despite my idiotic struggling with them) and it plays a lot quicker. I also enjoy the look of the game more.
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25. Board Game: Forbidden Sky [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1876]
Board Game: Forbidden Sky
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I just sneaked in a quick play of this with my daughter before her bedtime. We didn't play the storm cards right (kept drawing 1 instead of 2), but that was fine because it gave us a sense of how the map develops.

I can already tell that I will like this more than Forbidden Desert, but I'm not sure it will supplant Island in the end. On the other hand, I like the tile laying here more than the set collection in Island so maybe I will enjoy it more. I hadn't read anything about this before receiving it (thank you again Suzy/Robert!) so seeing the rocket and how you make a circuit to activate it for the first time was really neat.

Anyway, we'll get a "real" play in soon enough I'm sure. Felt nice to play some board games today. And of course spending time with my daughter is always a blast.
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