GCL Amoeba 362 - Spaceflight
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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GameChat League - Amoeba Division 335
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Welcome to this week's discussion list!

If you stumbled into this geeklist by accident take a look at the pointers provided at the top. Constructive on-topic comments from visitors are welcome and we're happy about new regular contributors, but please refrain from adding items if you are not a member of this GCL.

The hosting rotation:

Chris (Venser)Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"
Carlos (Sprocket314)
Mikko (msaari)
Doug (phrim)
Jason (Bond8089)
Eric (Eric Brosius)
Garry (garry_rice)
Jimmy (Butterfly0038)
Larry (larryjrice)
Scott (qzhdad)
Rebecca (CoffeeRunner)
Jeroen (jmdsplotter)
Joshua (Joshuaaaaaa)

With last week's successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, let's talk a bit about spaceflight.
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1. Board Game: Space Flight [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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One of my non-gaming interests is spaceflight. I watched last week's launch live webcast (how amazing is that on its own?), and plenty before that.



What's your interest (if any)?
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2. Board Game: Black Stories Science-Fiction Edition [Average Rating:6.07 Unranked]
Board Game: Black Stories Science-Fiction Edition
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Of course it doesn't really hurt that I love to read science fiction - my favourite writers include Larry Niven and Frank Herbert.

Do you read any scifi? Anything you would recommend?
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3. Board Game: Fantasy & Science Fiction Movie Trivia Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Fantasy & Science Fiction Movie Trivia Game
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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How about movies and/or TV series?
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4. Board Game: High Frontier (Third Edition) [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:1422] [Average Rating:8.32 Unranked]
Board Game: High Frontier (Third Edition)
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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What's your favorite game involving space flight?
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5. Board Game: Bärenpark [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:285]
Board Game: Bärenpark
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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http://www.lautapeliopas.fi/ - the best Finnish board game resource!
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1 x _8_Quartermaster General: 1914
1 x _7_Through the Desert
1 x _7_Bärenpark (new!)

Very quiet week. Played some games on Wednesday, and that's it. Lost horribly in QG: 1914 as the Central powers, played Germany and didn't get anything done, while Austria was steamrollered by Italy. Not good!

Bärenpark turned out to be pretty nice. Quite harmless: nothing thrilling, but solidly built, fun to play and looks cute. Will play again, since there's a copy in the cafe collection and it plays so fast and easy.

Acquisitions

Went to a WordCamp on Friday in Jyväskylä, and visited the local game store. I first picked up Hero Realms: Boss Deck – Lich for my son, but then had to return to the store to grab the copy of Unlock!: Mystery Adventures, that's rare enough. Won't be a problem to get rid of it once I've played it. Looking forward to puzzling through that.
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6. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:8.81 Overall Rank:1] [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Board Game: Kingdom Builder
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Board Game: Memoarrr!
Board Game: Magic Maze
Board Game: Azul
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Board Game: 1822: The Railways of Great Britain


 10   Terraforming Mars x5
 10   Kingdom Builder
 10   1822: The Railways of Great Britain
 9   Magic Maze
 8   Azul
 8   The Castles of Burgundy
 7   Gloomhaven x2
 6   Memoarrr! NEW!


Not much out of the ordinary... the regular plays of Terraforming Mars (we're now at 40 plays since Dec 22), the regular 18XX (scores were 17.6, 17.4, 14.5), and a game day with Amanda a friend (Azul plays much better with my variant).

The two new games were Gloomhaven and Memoarrr. I get why Memoarrr is getting SDJ notice, but unfortunately, I'm not a memory-game sort of guy. It does what it does well and I'll probably pull it out with the right crowd, but I doubt I'll ever love it.

Gloomhaven on the other hand...2 more plays (we lost Scenario 3 the first time when we didn't focus on the Shaman and I went treasure hunting -- won't do that again) and I'm growing to like it. I'm still not sure how many plays it'll have before it gets samey, but I like it enough to suggest it when we have the time.
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7. Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:574] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe
Board Game: Food Chain Magnate
Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest
Board Game: Washington's War
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
Board Game: Acquire
Board Game: Antiquity
Board Game: Tiki
Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns


 9.0   The Great Zimbabwe x6 (4 x 2p, 2 x 3p)
I just discovered play.boardgamecore.net.
Now while at work Jon and I can crush out games, we're onto round four. This is nice implementation, and I log games as long as they're against real opponents.

I've played four two player games, and two three player games. I have three wins by the same method. Control the craftsmen during the early and mid game, take Gu in the last turn and win. Lots of players tend to grab either Anansi or the Herd immediately. The problem with doing so is you can rebuttal while they just took a massive VR hit as a defensive measure to an offense that may never materialize.

 9.0   Antiquity (1 x 2p)
It's been a while since I last played this one. Got crushed as I built a storage facility that wasn't required. Waste of one wood cascaded into other problems and I soon resigned.

 8.0   Food Chain Magnate x3 (2 x 2p, 1 x 3p)
Two, 2 player games against Jon.
First game, Jon places a billboard that touches no houses. Let's say that was an easy win.

Second game. Jon and I both rush Guru, but I sit out my team except for the trainer to take priority in the deciding round to snag him. In a two player game if two players rush to Guru they're sacrificing along the way. The player who gets the Guru is then in a commanding position.

In the three player game I mismanaged my roster in round five and took a massive hit; grabbed a management lackey instead of a marketer. Was one turn late directing the houses what they really wanted for dinner. The winner made $574, I took home $290, and third $104.

 7.0   1846: The Race for the Midwest (1 x 5p)
This was a silly game where I have no clue what one player was trying. He claims he wins all the time with his group, but I was left dumbfounded trying to figure out how.

In the opening round I managed to get the LSL taking pass cards the other rounds. In SR1 I had priority and it went as follows:
Me (LSL): NYC @ $90
Roddy (Big4, Mail): PRR @ $70
Zach (O&I, CWI) : Erie @ $70
Chris (MS, MC, Meat) : GT @ $60
Drew (Steam, Tunnel) : B&O @ 100
When it got back to Zach, he opened IC @ $40.
Zach then bought a share of IC, sold it to the market next time around to plummet the price (now at $30). So at the end of the SR IC is now at $20.

Now in OR1.1, Zach buys two 2T, laid no track, and IC is out of the game. Didn't see that one coming. When it got to NYC, I bought two 3/5T, and I had cash for a third, but I wasn't sure what B&O would do and wanted to be ready for the browns if they came OR1.2.

So the game continues on and myself and Chris are duking it out pretty good. When the bank eventually broke, he finished with $7845. I had $7690. Roddy finished third with just shy of $6K. Turns out it was Roddy's first game of 18xx. His company was the fastest growing at the end, but he didn't cross invest early enough to reap the benefits.

 6.0   Washington's War (1 x 2p)
Jon and I pulled this one out again and now that the rules aren't a problem, I like this game. Jon kept trying to end the game by taking my general off the board, but Washington rolled like a champ to avoid any such shenanigans. Unfortunately he forgot there's an area control aspect to the game, so when I played the end game year card of the current year, I won on region control.

 5.0   Time of Crisis (1 x 4p)
This is my first time playing a game over Vassal. I also haven't played ToC since it came out last summer. The interface isn't so bad once you get used to it. It's been so long since I last played, I made a terrible mistake one turn where I had six points to spend; I took two three point cards. It was all mapped out what I would do if player A did X, or B did Y. There was one problem, you can't purchase two three point cards with six points. Every additional card costs extra for each previously purchased card. I was a non-contender and simply went through the motions the rest of the game.

 N/A   Acquire x2 (2 x 3p)
Pretty sure this is a top three game for Jon. It's all he wants to play.

 N/A   Tiki NEW! (1 x 2p)
Some new Kickstarter game Jon just received. It's a simple two player abstract that isn't good. There are so many brilliant two player abstracts that breaking into the genre is tough. The decision space is too simplistic for my liking.

 N/A   Vast: The Crystal Caverns x3 (1 x 1p, 2 x 3p)
One solitaire game where I learned the Thief. As I mentioned last week, the solitaire game is pretty weak.

Two three player games. Jon played the Goblins, Pam was the Knight, and I played the sleeping Dragon. They have difficulty cards and we decided to all start with the easiest variant, and the winner will take the next difficulty for their character and we'll play at least five games with each class.

Jon wins the first game with ease as we see how the goblins jump in and out of the cave while poking the knight down in health. The second game Pam positioned the Knight better to avoid the Goblins, but I was able to do my thing off on the other side of the cave. Woke up and hit the exit without any problems.

This is a game I really want to play with four or more players now.

Acquisitions:
Vast: The Fearsome Foes
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8. Board Game: Clash of Cultures [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:284]
Board Game: Clash of Cultures
Larry Rice
United States
North Newton
Kansas
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Plays this week:

Clash of Cultures d10-7

This was new to me and we played with the Clash of Cultures: Civilizations expansion which makes the game better in my opinion due to having leaders and differing techs that may come into play for just you as well as adding in a couple more building types and unit types. Rules overhead for the expansion was low. Enjoyed the game but it sure does start slowly. AP can be a challenge in this one even though the options are limited, there is quite a bit to think about. Glad to finally get this one played; hopefully can get it played relatively soon again while the rules are fresh.

Gloomhaven d10-8

We returned to our successful ways and continued the campaign. My retaliate ability is getting up there - although I do not like facing ranged units which are too far away for my retaliate to fire off.

Fast Forward: FORTRESS d10-5

Implements the fable system and the game is fine but once we play through it will be done for us and it will be sold/traded. It plays very quickly so if we don't have a long scenario, we can usually get through a game or two of this one on a Monday night.

ACQUISITIONS:

Wendake
Rising Sun Kickstarter bundle
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9. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:441]
Board Game: No Thanks!
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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8  18CZ -- Since the Post Office is still looking for my group order for 8 copies of this game, even though they received it in October, Lonny shipped me one replacement (temporarily,) and on Monday night I brought it out and played a 3-player game of the Moravia-Silesia variant with Len and John. It uses a subsection of the map and a subset of the components of the bigger game, but it's its own thing, with different rules and game play. It was a remarkably close game, as I finished ahead of Len by less than $20. We both started two companies, while John, who finished not too far behind, started just one and came in third. I don't think his problem was not starting a second company; rather it was his failure to buy 2 trains at the start (IMO.) I still have to try the 2-player game that uses "Vaclav" as a dummy 3rd player.

8  Jump Drive x2 -- John and Len left at this point, and I played two games of this new filler of choice before we went home.

7  Tunisia II -- On Wednesday my son-in-law came over and we played 4 1/2 more turns of this Series: Operational Combat Series (MMP) title. He's the Axis, and some of his units have action ratings (ARs) of 5, which allows them to overrun many of my lesser-skilled units with a high probability of success. He made a strong push toward Tabarka, a small port near the front line, but my valiant defenders obtained a suprise against him in one attack (e.g., he rolled poorly) and we killed off two of those skillful attacking units. For the moment, I seem to have stopped his counter-attack, but I don't see at this point how I'm going to capture Tunis or Bizerte, though I do seem to be gaining air superiority, which will help. The game has the nice feature that both sides have the capability to attack credibly.

10  1846: The Race for the Midwest -- Jeroen was in town this past weekend, and Joe Huber hosted gaming on Saturday. When I arrived, it was just Joe, John and I, so of course we started a game of 1846: The Race for the Midwest. I had Priority Deal, and after the draft, I had the C&WI, John had the Steamboat, Mail, and Big 4, and Joe had the Michigan Southern and O&I. I launched the IC at $70, John the B&O at $60, and Joe the NYC at $50. Then I bought 3 B&O shares and Joe bought 1, as John bought a third to keep the Presidency. John half-paid while Joe blithely paid out (as did I) and managed to pile up enough cash to gain a big share count advantage, allowing him to withhold later with the NYC and still win by a comfortable margin. This game (by a small margin) took 6 sets of ORs to finish, which is unusual.

8  Q.E. -- We didn't finish 1846: The Race for the Midwest all in one shot, though. After we finished SR 1, Will arrived, so we left the game set up and moved to the other table, and finished it much later. In Q.E. I didn't lose through spending too much this time, but Joe spent the least and stayed close enough that the extra 6 VPs for spending the least gave him the win.

7  Little Town Builders -- Joe got this game recently and is on a tear trying to get it to 10 plays. We randomly selected the buildings to use, as we did in my first game. There was only one building that granted money, so I chose to pursue a strategy that didn't depend on money very much, including building several wheat fields. Will had the one building that gave 2 coins, and people used it heavily, giving him a lot of money. I scored 20 points for buildings, as well as having the building that gave 2 VP, which I pounded on heavily, and this gave me a win in a close game (I had 49 VP and the last-place player had 41.)

N/A  US Air -- Joe is working on this prototype, and he had some improvements to test. It's an enjoyable game already, and the improvements seemed to work fine, though I'm sure there will be more tweaks.

9  Black Friday -- I played this quite a bit before it was published, and I've played it even more since, but I didn't play it at all in 2017, so when Joe suggested it I was happy to play. I thought my holdings in the red stock were going to give me the win, but the red briefcases stayed in the bag and I fell well short of both the win and my ambitions.

7  18Ruhr: Extension 01 NEW! -- Jeroen had air travel difficulties, and Joe's wife went the airport to pick him up. They arrived quite a bit later than he had been planning to arrive, unfortunately, but we did get to play this new expansion. It's really a "contraction", because it takes the original game and removes some of the playing board and a number of other components. There are six "Montan" (coal and steel) companies in the game. John started 3, I started 2, Brian started 1, and Jeroen avoided them altogether. Those of us with Montan companies found it hard to run them effectively, and Jeroen won by a mile. He does that often, though, so it's not necessarily a result of our investment in Montans.

7  Cities x2 -- On Sunday, Joe Rushanan hosted gaming. I arrived somewhat late, since I came after church. Steph and Ron arrived about when I did. Jeroen, Joe Rushanan, and John were playing 18Africa, but since my name doesn't begin with "J", I wasn't in the game (or maybe it was because they started before I arrived.) Back in January I created a GeekList entitled Games Steph likes that I'd be happy to play!, and one benefit that has resulted is that I've gotten to play Cities several times. In our first play, Ron beat me by 1 VP, with Steph coming in 3rd. That doesn't happen very often! But in the second game, the universe reverted to its natural state and Steph beat us by a good margin.

6  Cat Hills NEW! -- One of Joe Huber's recent Japanese game acquisitions is this trick-taking game. It's one of those games in which you have to predict at the start of the hand how many tricks you'll take in each suit (something vaguely like Die Sieben Siegel.) It's an interesting game, but it has a bit too much "clockwork" for my taste for a trick-taking game.

4  京都エクスプローラー (KYOTO EXPLORER) NEW! -- This was another game from Joe's order, and this one didn't go over very well. There's a card tableau, and players take turns. On each turn you can either look at face-down cards and/or manipulate the positions of the cards, or you can take a row. Then you score. Several of us just took rows more or less at random, and one of those people won.

8  Through the Desert -- I got my phone out and found another game on the Games Steph likes that I'd be happy to play! GeekList -- this tile-laying gem from 1998, a full 20 years ago. I played a game of taking what I could get when I could get it: some nice waterholes, some oasis attachments, and a few medium-sized enclosed areas. I also took the 10 points for the largest lemon-flavored chain (everyone got one flavor) and that was enough to win. This is a rare game that's fun with any number from 2 to 5.

8  Pit -- As the 18Africa game churned along (they didn't finish by the time Jeroen had to leave for his flight back to the Netherlands, but they enjoyed it,) we kept thinking of 5-player games that everyone would like. I played this when I was a child, but I've been playing it more often recently again after a long hiatus. It's quick and action packed, and it's less susceptible to analysis paralysis than almost any other game.

8  Mamma Mia! -- I started this game with a "Monotone" recipe, which is a bad one to start with, but slowly worked my way back into the game. Dan was a star, though, finishing 6 recipes (which is a lot for a 5-player game.)

5  Africa -- Now Joe trotted out this old Knizia family game. I had played it twice before, once in 2002 and once in 2011. I feel the same "blah" way about it that I felt the first two times I played. It's "fine", but it's almost entirely tactical, and that's not very interesting. Let's see: I turn over a tile, and oh, it's a zebra. So what am I going to do with it?

5  Jericho -- Next we played this Tom Lehmann "filler with a learning curve". I drew almost exclusively high cards and trumpets. So I alternated playing the high cards (and having them trumpeted away) and playing trumpets to knock down other people's cards. I finished with a score of 4 and don't really know what I could have done better. Dan had a score of like 27. I don't mind losing, but I do mind not knowing what to do that would be interesting.

8  6 nimmt! -- It was getting later in the afternoon, so we played a game of this. I always enjoy it, though I'll admit that you only sometimes have useful choices.

8  No Thanks! x2 -- We ended our day with two highly unusual games of this classic "do you feel lucky?" game. In the first game, I took the 28-29-30 and 33-34, together with 33 chips to finish with a winning score of 28. But in the second game, Joe Huber took 26-27-28-29-30-31-32-33-34, together with 33 chips, to finish with a winning score of -7. That's the best I've ever seen, and I've played the game 66 times.
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10. Board Game: Seize the Bean [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:9976]
Board Game: Seize the Bean
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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7.0  Seize the Bean NEW!

Currently on Kickstarter, I printed out an early pnp version of this. I've found it a fun little deckbuilder with worker placement, tableau building, and set collection. The game definitely accelerates and can the end can catch a player unawares. The options the different customers give you are interesting and give different strategies to pursue.


6.1  Sequence
5.5  UNO x3
6.5  Rummikub
7.0  Sushi Go!
3.0  Sleeping Queens x3 NEW!

Games above were all played on family game nights. Sleeping queens is pretty much luck of the draw...blegh


6.0  Charterstone x3

Games 3 through 5...finally managed to win one in game 5. Still not impressed by the game but I'm still enjoying the legacy aspect of it.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I really do not like the unknown/unexpected scoring due to certain guideposts at the end of some of the games - no way to anticipate or prepare for it. Took away a win in a game I thought I had won.

Minions certainly have added some more interest to the worker placement aspect of the game.
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11. Board Game: Clash of Cultures [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:284]
Board Game: Clash of Cultures
Jason
United States
Irvine
California
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Board Game: Clash of Cultures
Board Game: Dungeon Petz
Board Game: 朧ニンジャスタートリック (Oboro Ninja Star Trick)


8.0  Clash of Cultures (w/ Expansion)
7.0  Dungeon Petz (w/ Expansion)
7.0  朧ニンジャスタートリック (Oboro Ninja Star Trick)

Acquisitions:
Antiquity (Latest version)
Champions of Midgard

Collection Reduction Count:
-45 (-18 more from last week!)

Nothing new this week, but all games that I enjoy. Was fun to get to play Clash of Cultures with the expansion, which I see no reason why you should ever play without. Might be a little too fiddly to be a truly great game, but I think its one of the better Civ boardgames out there.

It had been 4 years since I last played Dungeon Petz, and it was fun to get to the table. I went back and read my comments from previous plays, and I made the same mistakes on this play LOL

Was fun to also play Ninja Star Trick which continues to be a fun trick taking game.

Did well selling off more games, although Larry still made fun of my stack of games against the wall in my game room.
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12. Board Game: 18Africa [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:8726]
Board Game: 18Africa
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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3x _7.50_ Finished!
3x _7.25_ No Thanks!
2x _6.00_ Qwixx
1x _9.00_ 18Ruhr
1x _8.75_ 18Africa
1x _6.50_ Little Town Builders
1x _5.50_ Neos
1x _5.00_ The Grimm Forest
1x _5.00_ Länder toppen!
1x _5.00_ Black Friday

Joe Huber was kind enough to host me last weekend, so I played games with him (again ) last week.

One of the plays was with the 18Ruhr contraction, as Eric wrote about above already too. I enjoyed it; I think it preserves the essence of its "bigger" base game well in half the time or so. In this particular game, train companies were starting quite late; only after SR3 did the second company start operating. I think that helped my BME run quite handsomely and set me up for my win, as that resulted in a late train rush that left the public Montan companies in the dust with not enough time to flourish.

JoeR was kind enough to play and explain 18Africa. I've always been intrigued by Mainline, but dislike its endless yellow lays (in particular, there's a single turn 1 lay that ruins a lot for many companies). This is fixed here, and the resource bonuses are also quite nice. It was a pity we didn't have enough time to finish - I was handicapped at the start by having one of my companies cut off, and sold off the whole thing at personal loss to give my other company an early second train. That gave me the first 4+4+4E which ran for a ton of money. But I doubt that would have been enough to catch up to Eric JoeR.

The main attraction of The Grimm Forest is its cuteness - it's massively overproduced, and looks fabulous. Game-wise, it's decent - there's as many resource locations as players, and everyone picks blindly where to go. And shares the resources if multiple players picked the same spot. But you might run into the big bad wolf, and have Rumpelstiltskin as your dear friendly helper...
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13. Board Game: Charterstone [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:272]
Board Game: Charterstone
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I finished the last three games of my solo Charterstone campaign while "stranded" in the UP for work. I beat the Automa in the campaign while winning five of the twelve games. The automa never got above three strength (they go up one when the human average is above theirs and down one [min. 2] when their average is higher.

Saturday, Hanson and I played another game of Terraforming Mars: Venus Next on Elysium side of Mars. In a rare turn of events, I beat him with a double digit margin. Our game lasted 14 rounds and two and a quarter hours. Venus may be increasing game length some, but in this one we were really slow on both heat and oceans. By the end we were getting ridiculous amounts of income.

We were finished as Nate arrived to continue our three player campaign of Charterstone. We added automa and retroactively added capacity (the rule that I mentioned last week that we'd missed. The automa beat us in the first two, but Hnason won that last three and for our next one, we'll be facing strength five automa.

MittenCon is this weekend! I'm hoping to have more games to report next week.
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14. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:1086]
Board Game: Keyper
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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We played a couple games at home this week:

From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Near and Far - This time we played on the Fire Delta map. I still had a side quest from the last map that involved hunting down some giant creature, so I prioritized getting swords. Unfortunately, when I actually did the quest, there was a combat option, but it seems like the better reward would've been for a skill option. By no means did I have the skill, so I chose the combat option, but was a little disappointed. In any case, I'm not quite sure what happened in this game, but Anni really blitzed me. Not only did she get a whole bunch of her huts out really fast, the way the board was laid out made it really difficult to get to open spaces given the move limit. I still had a whole bunch of huts left when she ended the game, and she won easily.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Gloomhaven - We played the Forgotten Crypt (#19), which unlike most of the scenarios we had seen, didn't have a "kill everything" objective. Instead, we needed to keep an NPC alive until she reached the end of the dungeon. We had some cultists to deal with in the first room, and after killing one, Anni left the other to me and barged into the next room, where she immediately got wrecked by the monsters in there. In that second room, I finally got to use my card that pushes an enemy into an obstacle for 2 damage, destroying the obstacle. This seemed really cool as I killed the monster (and I've been trying to use that card for a while, but it seemed like every time the opportunity came around the monster had flying), but in the context of this scenario I think it turned out to be a bad idea. You see, the NPC just moved two spaces toward the end every turn, and she quickly got ahead of us as we tried to deal with the monsters. The lack of a large obstacle to go around made that so much easier. We went into panic mode as the NPC kept running headfirst into danger, and I actually managed to keep her somewhat healed. However, as she entered the final room, she ended up parked in the doorway in front of two Living Corpses. She didn't last very long, and we lost.


My birthday was this week, so I traveled down to NJ and split time between my family and Tom and Anne's game weekend.

From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Keyper (new!) - This was with me, Anni, Tom, and Pete; only Pete had played before. I had heard good things about this one and suggested it, knowing that Tom was a big fan of the Key series, and it turned out that he had just gotten it and hadn't punched it yet. Fortunately, we were able to find Pete to teach us all. My strategy throughout the game was mostly to flip and max out a bunch of animal pens. I was able to get the boar pen early on, and I figured at 3 points apiece it was worth it. I also maxed out both one-of-each-type pens. My building strategy wasn't as focused, as I mostly played and then flipped some of the base buildings for points. I did max out my Pavements, but that seemed to be a pretty popular thing to do. I also did a few good contracts, which was much easier given my animal diversity. I thought I did pretty well, but Pete edged me out by a few points.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Mansions of Madness: Second Edition - This was with me, Anni, Jon, Lauren, and Tina; everyone but Anni had played before. We played the second scenario, which involved escaping from a town before being caught up in some sort of creepy riot. We got off to a good start as Lauren busted through a door and immediately killed the first baddie. I managed to pick up some sort of cult sigil, and Jon found where it was used after I had started moving away from that spot. So, by the time I got there, everyone was off doing something else. I tried to play it cool with the creepy shopkeeper, but she saw past my ruse and turned into a scary cultist monster. After a couple turns of futility, it was my turn to be awesome as I whacked her over the head with a fire extinguisher, rolled really well, and killed her. Jon had some sort of item that told us whether we had discovered enough evidence to beat the scenario, and I had found a ship captain that would take us out. Of course, we had to root around to find the evidence we needed, and as we were doing so the monsters started accumulating. The ship captain told us to make sure to bring some FBI officer, but we had found a dead FBI officer in our searching, so we figured that we'd just have to tell him that the officer was dead. So, as the rioting townsfolk were just about to block our way off to the pier with the boat, we managed to get all the evidence we needed to succeed. So we talked to the ship captain, and he wouldn't go without the FBI officer. Umm. Turns out there was ANOTHER officer who we didn't find that we needed. So, as we had to run through the giant pile of monsters to get to the few spots left of the board, Lauren ended up going insane for the second time and we lost.


From gallery of Phrim
_8_ Viticulture Essential Edition - This was with me, Anni, and Anne; everyone had played before. Everyone was (naturally) trying to build up their supply of workers early, but I decided to forgo my final worker for a turn to make sure I could get my fields going. Cards let build both of my warehouses for a total of 2 money and 1 point. I was also able to save up and play the Statue really early, which gave me a point every time I collected residuals. I had a contract that I could do fairly early, so my position looked pretty good in the early game. However, as I started to collect more contracts, I realized that my fields had a big flaw--I only had 1 red grape production, and most of my contracts required more than one red or blush wine, or the red it required was quite large. So, while everyone else was trying to ramp up their contracts, I had to go back to the drawing board and start fishing around for more fields. I managed to find one more red grape, at which point I really had to give up on that and go back to focusing on contracts. Unfortunately, I kept drawing ones that required red grapes, so I had to spent a late-game turn without completing a contract. By this time, Anne had shot ahead of both of us, and I couldn't catch up, so she won.



THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES

Keyper is in essense a resource-gathering game. Players have a number of differently-colored meeples, and can place them on an area of the game board--ordinarily they get the resource, but if they match the color of the space they get double resources, and if another player chooses to "follow" by putting their meeple of the same color there, both players get triple resources. Players can also claim one of the four parts of the modular game board, and they'll get those meeples back for the following round. Players have extra incentive to use the "follow" action, because once they run out of meeples, they can lay down meeples on the board that they claimed to do those actions again, essentially giving them free actions. In the following round, players can arrange their claimed board in one of a number of different configurations by folding it in one of several ways. The rest of the game mostly involves building and improving buildings and animal pens, the former to do some resource conversion and be worth points, the latter to fill out with animals for points. I thought this was a fairly solid game where everything seemed to work well together. I was a little frustrated with the folding boards because it was difficult to evaluate my choices when I couldn't look at them at the same time. No real complaints other than that, but I wasn't super-enthused about anything either--it was just really solid.
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