GCL Phoenix 378: Write It Down (1 April 2018)
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Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League!

If you stumbled upon this geeklist by accident or through your subscriptions, please read the GameChat League wiki page for information about what this is all about. We're glad to get to know visitors through constructive comments, but please leave the adding of items to members.


Active Phoenixes:
familygaming
grasa_total
indigopotter
John Rogers - next week
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rynelf
Taibi
Tigrillo
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Always welcome to participate:
archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, darker, Dormammu, Eeeville, enzo622, hawk-x-, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, ravenskana, Smintie, TheRocketSurgeon, tjshields, topherr, Yokiboy
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1. Board Game: The Big Idea [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:6623]
Board Game: The Big Idea
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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A week or two ago, I happened to visit one of the other GCLs, and someone said something that made me think, "That's great! I can springboard off of that for my next list topic. It's so good, I'll remember, I don't need to write it down."

Nope. Gone. Nada.

I know better. I write things down. I have various lists, long-term and short-term.

For some people, lists may stress them out, to see all of the things they need to do. That may mean that the topics are too broad. Instead of "clean the house!" (overwhelming), "vacuum the living room". (I've seen related advice for people frustrated when a young kid doesn't clean their room, the suggestion was to say specific things like "Make your bed, put your clothes away, take the garbage out."

A well-made list should provide some relief, because we don't have to carry it around in our head.

The list I perhaps most frequently edit and use is my grocery list. I get those magnetic long lists for the front of the fridge, so it hangs there, within reach but not taking up horizontal space, and when we go to the store, I take the paper.

My magnetic fridge calendar is also a bit of a list, as it has birthdays, anniversaries, and things like when to change the Brita filter.

My fridge also has a list of emergency contact numbers (with a second copy printed out with our emergency bag), and a list of items we'd need if we had to evacuate, in rough order from most to least important (our friends had to evacuate in the middle of the night in the CA wildfires, and it was part of the motivation for me to do some extra emergency prep).

What about you? Do you keep lists? Paper or digital? To do lists, emergency contacts, calendars?
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2. Board Game: Rolling Japan [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:4839]
Board Game: Rolling Japan
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Thinking about writing, I also thought about roll-and-write games. I suppose Yahtzee is one that counts, even if it's not very exciting. Roll Through the Ages perhaps a little more so. Rolling Japan, Dice Stars are newer examples.

Saint Malo doesn't get a lot of love, but I enjoy it occasionally.

Board Game: Saint Malo


And then there's Sunflower Valley

Board Game: Sunflower Valley


which has been hard to come by. Looks like Gigamic is releasing it in 2018, so maybe that edition will be easier to get, or it will inspire a new English edition.

Do you like roll-and-write games generally? Which are your favorites? If you don't generally, is there one you don't mind?
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3. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:376]
Board Game: Roads & Boats
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Those hexes in Sunflower Valley remind me of Roads & Boats. And, although I've never played one, Crayon Rails seem to be related somehow as well.

Are there non-roll-but-write games that you enjoy?
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4. Board Game: Can't Fool Me! [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Can't Fool Me!
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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I've never really been one for pranking, or April Fools. Do you prank? Do you find pranks funny? Have you been on the receiving end and wish you hadn't?

Happy holidays also to those that are celebrating - Passover, Easter, Ostara. What traditions do you have for this time of year?

When I was younger, we would go with my grandparents to bless the baskets, and then we would usually go out to eat to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

On Easter, we would go to my grandparents' house for brunch; eggs, kielbasa, babka (bread), ham, home fries. We would get Easter baskets - my parents were good at hiding them, and it often took us a long time to find them.

In NY, some years we'd be outside in the sun for pictures, and some years we'd have two feet of snow. Today it's 50 with green grass here at my house, and it's snowing up where I grew up.
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5. Board Game: Rotation [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Rotation
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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John - 8th April
Karl - 15th April
Michael - 22nd April
Paulo - 29th April
Dave - 6th May
Morten - 13th May (skip Nicolai for a while)
Rich - 20th May

Jeremy - 27th May
Alison - 3rd June
Carol - 10th June
John - 17th June
Karl - 24th June
Michael - 1st July
Paulo - 8th July
Dave - 15th July
Morten - 22nd July (skip Nicolai for a while)
Rich - 29th July
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6. Board Game: Mogul [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:2851]
Board Game: Mogul
Karl Fast
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Mogul was originally a card game, from 2002, that has been reworked slightly. I found a copy for about $15 last month and, having heard good things, snatched it up. Glad I did.

How it Works

This is a simple stock market game based on the "No Thanks" mechanic. The rulebook claims that the original game introduced that mechanic, which I did not know.

There are five different stock cards, each in a different color. The colors represent different railroad lines. There is a small board with lines matching these colors and squares where you can build "depots."

Everybody starts with a set of stock market cards. Then you flip over a stock card from the deck and auction it off.

The auction means passing around a wooden bowl (included in the box; and yes it is wood). You may either put in a chip or pass. If you pass you take all the chips in the bowl, so you've more more to bid with in a future round, but then you're of the current action.

The auction ends when the second last person passes. The winner then has a choice. They can either take the stock market card into their hand (say, a yellow stock card). Or they can take one of two actions with the second color on the stock card (say, brown). Those two secondary actions are either to sell all the stock of that color (ie, brown) or build a depot on that color route (ie, a depot in your player color on the brown route).

The twist is that whichever action the winner takes, the person who placed second gets to do the other action. You always want to be the first or second person, but the way the auctions works you often need to pass and get chips so you can win a more desireable auction.

You get points by selling stock (timing is critical). You can also get points from your depots, with a multiplier for more depots on the same colored rail line.


My Thoughts

This takes No Thanks and turns it from a filler into a full board game, but one that still plays in about 45 minutes. This is a very minimalist game. The box is actually much larger than it needs to be given the components, but the game is quite good.

Some players won't like this. I think they'll find it too repetitive, since you spend a LOT of time passing around the bowl and putting in chips, or passing and pulling out chips. But once you get into the game you'll begin to understand the nuances in when to pass, when to bid, and how to force other players into bidding when they don't really want to.

This is the kind of minimalist game I enjoy. There aren't many mechanics (the rulebook is literally 2 pages). And one first glance it doesn't seem to have much there. But as you play you figure out the subtle push-and-pull of the game and realize the simplicity is masking more depth than you thought. It's not a deep game, or a complex one, but it is a game where skilled players can manipulate the situation to their advantage.

I like it. I'd recommend it. I can't recommend it at the $35-40 MSRP, but for the $15 it cost me, this was a great buy.
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7. Board Game: South African Railroads [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:6180]
Board Game: South African Railroads
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 31Mar2018:

11/30/96 plays of 9/21/55 total games, with 0/5/17 expansions employed.
Plays with 13/19/41 distinct opponents.

4/5/8 games acquired (plus 3/3/8 expansions.) - Schnäppchen Jagd, Fuji Flush, The Fox in the Forest, Vast: The Crystal Caverns – Bonus Cards, Heaven & Ale, Concordia: Aegyptus / Creta and Vast: The Fearsome Foes.
0/0/0 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/2/4 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 4 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With family:
Board Game: Super Big Boggle

image by DICE_COLLECTOR

1x _7⅔_ Super Big Boggle (25 +87++ total plays)

Four of us (including daughter #1, before she heads back to college to finish her year.) And quite an abnormal game, too: while my wife won more more rounds than anyone else, she wasn't the overall winner (for the first time in our memory): daughter #1 had the largest combined score.

Board Game: The Fox in the Forest

image by W Eric Martin

1x _7⅓_ The Fox in the Forest (2 total plays)

With son #2. As I've mentioned in the past, he's not a fan of learning new games. (He can be convinced, but he'd usually prefer to play an old favourite.)

This one suited him quite nicely: it's "his style" of game. Both quite clever and quite simple; not terribly long; and something (that is, a slightly funky trick-taker) that we've already developed some mental muscles for. I expect it'll see more play.


With the Lunch@work group:
Board Game: Mini Rails

image by darkavatar1470

1x _7⅓_ Mini Rails (3 total plays)

This was quite entertaining: I achieved a score that was an order of magnitude smaller than the winner's mark, and less than a third of the fourth-place player's. So the incompetence prize was mine, I guess.

Looking at the other end of the lists, Jon played very well: and the rest of us failed to perceive his lead (clearly, at least) until it was far too late. So while the game was entertaining, it wasn't close.

Board Game: 6 nimmt!

image by HirschDaus

1x _6_ 6 nimmt! (19 total plays)

Just one hand: and, amusingly, I managed the tail of the list yet again. Things were in doubt for a while, but the final card demonstrated that I'd chosen poorly eariler in the game.


With the Wednesday night gang:
Board Game: Heaven & Ale

image by flope

2x _7⅔_ Heaven & Ale (3 total plays)

These were both very enjoyable. Scott won both easily - so I can't assert that they were competitive. But both games were received enthusiastically by the others. (And the second game played in about half the time that the first required: we'd internalized the rules satisfactorily the first time around, I guess.)

This is now three consecutive games I've scored less than half the victor's score. I think some of the appeal for me is that I really don't understand the arc (yet, I guess; I've hope I'll figure it out eventually.) But it wouldn't surprise me if I'd still want to play even once I do have some idea.

Board Game: Sail to India

image by W Eric Martin

1x _7⅔_ セイルトゥインディア Seiruto~uindia 'Sail to India' (14 total plays)

This was funny: our final scores were all quite a bit higher than I remember from previous games. And I recognize that isn't an achievement: just a side effect of the groupthink. It was quite entertaining.


With cool folk at BAP:
Board Game: Botts and Balls

image by huber

1x _7⅓_ Botts and Balls (3 total plays)

A play with 6. Which demonstrated a couple things: the game works quite well at that number (the "assist" rule: where a player receives a point for suggesting a scoring play to a colleague) works really nicely, and keeps everyone involved throughout.

And that I'm quite terrible at this. I think I've played last in each of the three games I've played so far. (And worse; I'd played quite poorly: I set things up occasionally for my left-hand player, in ways that I'm sure I wasn't the only one to regret.) Hopefully I'll (eventually) figure this one.

Board Game: South African Railroads

image by rockusultimus

1x _9_ South African Railroads (5 total plays) (33 months dusty)

I'd never tried this one with six before either: and it worked really nicely.

Well, modulo my explaining the rules slightly incorrectly. (Which I realized only after the game was done: oops! Made me sad: the game we played was fine; but the real game is better still.)

This is likely my favourite of the Winsomes. It's got some charming texture and interesting possibilities of interference between the players. It shares those things with Pampas Railroads, admittedly; but as it takes about half as long to play, it's much easier to get onto the table.

Board Game: Sluff Off!

image by Pavía

1x _8_ Die Sieben Siegel (2 total plays)

This was great with the full complement of 5: loads of opportunity for havoc and cleverness. Michael played really well, too.

Board Game: Heaven & Ale

image by flope

1x _7⅔_ Heaven & Ale (4 total plays)

This was funny: I did well at it. Which was its own weirdness after the previous demonstrations of incompetence. It's possible that I just took advantage of the slack left by the other two (who were both attempting the game for their first time) rather than actually demonstrating any understanding of the thing.

It still remains to be seen if I can give Scott a run for his money: I'd guess that it will take a few more plays of practice before he's in any danger.


Owned-and-unplayed: 0 (+0/-0)
Owned-and-played-once: 97 (+3/-3) - Schnäppchen Jagd was bought; The Fox in the Forest and Heaven & Ale were played twice; Die Sieben Siegel was played again.

Outlook for the week: リトルタウンビルダーズ looks like it might arrive this week (the package tracking claims that it's arrived in Los Angeles after five weeks crossing the Pacific.) As to plays, I might be able to convince son #2 to play something, and I think the Wednesday Lunch folk are on. I can't make Wednesday Night this week. And I've three choir practices (including one dress rehearsal: our concert is this Saturday.) So rather few plays are likely.
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8. Board Game: Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:1526]
Board Game: Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Solo
Board Game: Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain

 8  Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain x2 New!
I'd been considering jumping into COIN games since the release of Cuba Libre back in 2013. Well five years later, I finally bought and played my first one: Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain. What was I waiting for (other than a theme that was less modern and generally more appealing)...?

This COIN pits Romanized Britons (the Civitates) and their Roman lords (the Dux) against Saxon invaders from Europe and Celts from Ireland and Scotland (the Scotti). The game comes with a number of scenarios from short to long (even the shortest has taken me two evenings to play) and from the first invasions of the Saxons and Scotti right through to the total collapse of Roman rule.

It's a card-driven area control game at it's heart, but includes some resource management and, if not played solo, would almost certainly include some player negotiation. For solo play, there are optional "bots" to use...flow charts to program the actions of the non-player factions. They work fairly well though some of the steps aren't completely clear (to me), but I don't mind winging it a bit.

All in all, I hope to get a lot more hours of Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain in over the next month.

With the Victoria 18xx Contingent
Board Game: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight

 9  1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight x1
I've played a lot of Series: 18xx in the last decade and one of the first of the bunch was 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight. It's also the one with the most plays at nine (tied with 1825 Unit 2) and my top rated game of the genre (at least for now).

It has a tight map (the Isle of Wight is small) and a fairly restrictive track tile set making it tough to get good routes. Unlike most games of the genre though, it allows one train of a company to run through one blocked out station. It's rare that this unique rule isn't used by every company every turn from the mid-game on.

The other unique thing about this game is the end game. Most "traditional" Series: 18xx end when the bank runs out of money or one company hits the top of the stock chart. While 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight has kept these rules, it's rare the bank will break or a company will hit the top of the stock chart. Usually the game ends when the first train of the last type is bought and the companies are "nationalized". In the final set of operating rounds, the two companies with the lowest revenue run once and then are "nationalized" and removed from the game. The next two lowest run twice and are nationalized, etc, until there are none left. So much of the game is about anticipating which companies are going to run the longest and buying them up (or piling trains onto companies where you already hold stocks). Nor is there the threat of player bankruptcy. In this game, companies without trains go insolvent and have to lease a train from the bank until they acquire enough funds to purchase one. They still lose value every turn and the company can go bankrupt (as happened yesterday with JR's C&N).

The final thing about this one is that it really works well with three-player when most Series: 18xx play better at higher counts. And it only takes three or so hours to play so can even be tabled during the week.


The Week Ahead

No plans this week although Monday is a statutory holiday so I'm going to try to play another game of Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain. If not Monday, then maybe Friday as I have it off. Yay, three-day work week!

Unplayed games of note in shrink: Transatlantic, No Retreat!: The North African Front, Maria, The U.S. Civil War, Francis Drake, German Railways, Tikal and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

Unplayed games not in shrink: Normandy '44 and Mottainai.
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9. Board Game: The Mind [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:578]
Board Game: The Mind
Alison Mandible
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends
Board Game: Mystic Vale
Board Game: The Mind
Board Game: Concordia
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype


 7   Mystic Vale (9 all-time)

I'm still enjoying the mechanics, but I'm getting disenchanted with the leaders and amulets-- tracking key cards is already important, but the leaders make it disproportionately so; tactically risking a spoil to flip your amulet is interesting once but not a game I want to play over and over.

 9   The Quest for El Dorado x2 (4 all-time)

The more recent of these two games was with one opponent who hadn't played before and two others who'd only done the suggested first course. I was like, "There's nothing qualitatively different about the harder courses, they just have more going on" but it turns out you can actually get really frustratingly stuck on one of the tiles if you don't plan ahead. I wouldn't call it a flaw, but I might call it out explicitly the next time I teach.

On the other hand, the earlier game this week was against a friend who was also just learning it, and she schooled us.

 9   The Mind x2 (3 all-time)

One guy was skeptical: "Is this basically a party game? How am I supposed to know what cards anyone has?" And at the end of the first game (4p, lost during level 5) he looked grumpy and said, "Well. [long pause] I'd play that again."

I was so surprised it took me a minute to realize he meant right away. So we did, and we lost around the same point. One odd thing I noticed was that the skeptical guy was the slowest to play, and the most "sure, let's try it!" player was the fastest. This makes a kind of sense to me.

It's such an odd game. And it somehow feels like it's testing your psychic ability even though that is manifestly not what's going on.

My first game had been played in total silence and near motionlessness, which made me a little internally fussy at first when this group was visibly leaning forward when they thought they might play a card, or fidgeting when they knew they didn't have a card to play for a while. But on reflection... I'm not sure that helps? Maybe over multiple games with the same people, you would eventually learn "when W looks fidgety, it's not just that he has no cards to play 'soon'... it's that he specifically has a jump of 20 or more". But if it's never confirmed with words (and in fact you never find out whether W is doing it intentionally), that seems like the same kind of fun as the pure time-estimating part of the game.

 7 -> 5   Concordia (2 all-time)

Playing this brought back a very visceral feeling of playing it before, and of playing the other Mac Gerdts games I tried on Yucata. Somehow those games hadn't reminded me of Concordia, but playing Concordia again brought it all back? I don't know.

Anyway, when I first played Concordia I felt sort of caught in a trap, but often my first play of a Euro feels that way, and once I understand the system a little better I can see the elbow room. But despite understanding this okay (I won, and it was 5p) I didn't really *like* it any more. Sometimes I enjoy dilemmas. But I'm starting to wonder if this is not the type of bind I want to be in.

 N/A   Unpublished Prototype x5 (41 all-time)

Five playtest rounds of Science Or Die!, a game of Eric's. I've steadily enjoyed the block-stacking part more as I got better at it, and I finally got to try the game's newest system, a puzzly tile-arranging game that is how you actually win. That bit was harder and subtler than it looked. I'm excited for this to be published.

 10   Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends (476 all-time)

Apparently I signed up for a really long online tournament? With random faction selection? So approximately 8 of my 20 games will be as Empire. Maybe I will learn to appreciate them. Stranger things have happened.

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10. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:154]
Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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The Hawk-x- Quarterly Report

Board Game: Pax Porfiriana
Board Game: KLASK
Board Game: Finished!
Board Game: Agricola, Master of Britain
Board Game: London (Second Edition)
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
Board Game: Red7
Board Game: Hanamikoji
Board Game: John Company
Board Game: ZÈRTZ
Board Game: Triumvirate
Board Game: Throne and the Grail
Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
Board Game: Greed
Board Game: Q.E.
Board Game: Medina (Second Edition)
Board Game: Elements
Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe
Board Game: Dead Man's Draw
Board Game: Winner's Circle
Board Game: Torres
Board Game: Too Many Cinderellas
Board Game: Scharfe Schoten
Board Game: Ponzi Scheme
Board Game: Kogge
Board Game: Container
Board Game: Voodoo Prince
Board Game: Taluva
Board Game: Love Letter
Board Game: Import / Export
Board Game: Eight Epics
Board Game: BraveRats
Board Game: Quarto
Board Game: Age of Steam
Board Game: Leaving Earth
Board Game: Five Cucumbers


 10   Pax Porfiriana x7 (27 all-time)
 9   KLASK x10 NEW!
 8   Finished! x38 NEW!
 7   Agricola, Master of Britain NEW!
 8   London (second edition) x7 NEW!
 7   Time of Crisis NEW!
 7   Red7 (8 all-time)
 8   Hanamikoji x12 (22 all-time)
 N/A   John Company x2 NEW!
 8   ZÈRTZ x3 (13 all-time)
 10   Triumvirate x9 (48 all-time)
 8   Throne and the Grail x5 (21 all-time)
 9   Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan (4 all-time)
 N/A   Greed (None all-time)
 7   Q.E. NEW!
 8   Medina (second edition) NEW!
 8   Elements x3 (12 all-time)
 9   The Great Zimbabwe x3 (5 all-time)
 7   Dead Man's Draw x7 NEW!
 8   Winner's Circle (3 all-time)
 10   Torres (11 all-time)
 7   Too Many Cinderellas x2 (5 all-time)
 8   Scharfe Schoten (4 all-time)
 8   Ponzi Scheme NEW!
 8   Kogge NEW!
 7   Container (4 all-time)
 8   Voodoo Prince x2 NEW!
 7   Taluva x2 (9 all-time)
 7   Love Letter (8 all-time)
 7   Import / Export NEW!
 7   Eight Epics x3 NEW!
 7   BraveRats x4 (28 all-time)
 7   Quarto x3 (4 all-time)
 8   Age of Steam NEW!
 8   Leaving Earth NEW!
 7   Five Cucumbers x2 (6 all-time)

Alright, so I know I don't post here as much as I used to, but I'm thinking that I can at least post a quarterly report or something until things slow down! So below are some highlights from the last three months!

Favorite Play: Sekigahara
So, as many of you already know, I had the opportunity to visit Morten in Denmark (Morten was kind enough to look me up in my other spheres of life, and made significant connections between the work that the center he works at does and the work that I do -- so it wasn't only a gaming trip, but also a professional one!). It was such a treat to get to know Morten in the flesh, share some food, conversation, and laughs; and, of course, play some games! My favorite of the bunch was Sekigahara: it was a tense battle from start until finish with swings of power and a few near misses with our leaders as we upped the risk towards the end game as the finish was quickly approaching and our score was too close to not take risks! A super well-fought match.

Runner up: London (second edition). My partner and I have got a run of this going, and many of our games come down to small margins. It's a neat tense, yet accessible, game.


Favorite New Game: Finished!
Surprisingly, I have fallen in love with the anal-retentive game that is Finished! I say anal-rententive because the game screams boring: it's a card sort themed as a day in an office. But there is something refreshing about games (in this day and age) which pares down mechanics and presents itself as little more than it actually is. That, and the core of the game is a little puzzle which (in my many plays) doesn't seem to have a general "solution" in the same way that Friday does. It's tough as nails to try to get momentum in this one: it requires planning, card counting, and a bit of luck. But there is something meditative (for me) about the amount of concentration that it requires, without requiring a headache inducing amount of thought. Friday is definitely my current favorite solo game for under an hour.

Runner up: KLASK. OMG, how did I not pick this up earlier. So much fun. Unfortunately, it is the size of a small piece of furniture, but what a treat to break out! (This is a tough category though, as Ponzi Scheme, Medina, Kogge, Voodoo Prince, and London, and Leaving Earth have all been amazing games).


Back on the Table:Torres
At the gaming con in Denmark, I saw a copy of Torres floating around (and not the new one, so it wasn't a hot item for cult of the new-ers!) and thought that it would be a good fit with the group (as they were all capable and willing of nasty play as our other games had demonstrated). It had been a while since my last physical play of the game, but I always delight in the spatial ebbs and flows that emerge (and the whittling down of special power cards). There's a real pleasure (for me) of playing a game until it feels like a worn old glove (which, incidentally, is what my copy looks like): learning the nooks and crannies and getting to the point where you can play by feeling and flow.

Runner up: Zertz. Playing Zertz with Morten was super cool. Nice to see that the rich abstract allows room for personalities to show through play by providing an open enough gaming space.


Online:Pax Porfiriana
Speaking of gaming personalities, DJ, Tom, and I have gotten back into a short run of Pax Porfiriana. What a cauldron of dickery that is. With every game playing out so differently as well, I now very much see the appeal of the game -- needing to operate some risk reward heuristics without guarantee and leaning on other players hard (sometimes forcing them into making moves that need doing, but that you don't want to do -- even better if you can profit from it). This is Ecklund's opus -- playing it with the right dicks makes it sing.

Runner up: The Great Zimbabwe is now available online at boardgamecore and I've been playing with a friend from Vancouver. Tense matches which all play out differently as well -- even at two players, the distribution of gods really produces different shapes and outcomes!
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11. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:227]
Board Game: Antiquity
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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Board Game: Reef Encounter
Board Game: POW!
Board Game: Keyflower
Board Game: Antiquity


 9   Keyflower
Started the night by hosting a 4ply game of Keyflower. Brett, Scooter, and Allistor had all played Key London and were curious as to how it compared. Game took 98mins (which shocked me) and they seemed to dig it well enough. Not sure how they felt it compared to Key London though. I'll have to give that a play soon as Brett has a copy.

 3   POW! NEW!
While waiting for David to arrive, Troy introduced Jack and I too Pow. It was fine I guess. A yahtzee dice chucker. Jack couldn't hide his contempt for it and the game didn't seem to feature any real decisions outside of which dice should I re-roll.

 8   Antiquity
The big game of the night. I taught and David, Jack, Troy, and Stephen played. Took 125mins with David winning as Saint Gorgio, using his harbout and mass amounts of connected waterways to stretch across the countryside toward and eventually around Jack.

 10   Reef Encounter
Ended the night with a 4ply game of this. Game took 70mins. Jack, Troy, Bill, and I. Troy complained that the game wasn't as vicious as I had led him to believe (more on that in a moment). Scores ranged 19-26.

So regarding Troy. I originally met him at a local New Years game event. That night we played For Sale, Ethnos, Mars Attacks, Isle of Skye, and TGZ. During that night we talked about we liked to play and it was clear to me that our tastes did not align. We hadn't crossed paths again until this past Friday. Upon setting up Antiquity he inquired and I kinda tried to talk him out of it (knowing he wouldn't like it) but he insisted.

And he hated it. He complained most of the time and said he didn't like how easily solvable it was (even though he wasn't close to winning; he said the same thing about TGZ and I ran circles around him). He said the low interaction (legit complaint) and easy to manage famine and pollution (though the tide of graves was threatening to consume him by the end) was too simplistic and that he felt nothing happened in the game. That there were no "AH-HA!" moments.

I asked what he meant by ah-ha moments and he said you know, when you take your guys and attack my guys and we roll dice and see what happens. Ah-ha. He talked about liking heavily themed games with strong narratives and unpredictable outcomes. He loves ameritrash (obviously) and likes engine-builder and point salad euros. He asked if I liked any of those and I said no. His retort was what's left then? I mentioned auctions, logistics, abstracts, dexterity, wargames, spatial, and Splotters (he asked what a Splotter was and I said you just played one to which he made a bitter beer face).

I didn't think he'd want to play Reef Encounter but as we were deciding what to play next he jumped in and asked which one has the most direct attacking. I said Reef Encounter lets you mass your reefs, find vulnerable spots in others, and eat into their reefs. Kinda an underwater war between coral. That sounded cool to him. But alas halfway through he began complaining, saying there wasn't as much attacking and fighting as I had promised. I told him that depends on the player and the best decision at the time. I also pointed out that much of the attacking was happening in the open sea board, where players were drastically undercutting one another by devaluing what they had ate. He thought it was another low interaction euro though better than Antiquity.

Across the room a five guys were playing Star Trek: Ascendancy. I felt bad because I think Troy would have enjoyed that far more. Even though I learned later that there was only one battle and it happened more than 4hrs into the game. Still I couldn't help but feel bad for how miserable his night must have been. I promised to play one of his favorites the next time we met.

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12. Board Game: Awkward Guests [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:408]
Board Game: Awkward Guests
Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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Last week I couldn't come to the GL to contribute to the discussions, was way too busy... but here's the recap


Board Game: The Mind
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Board Game: Guilds
Board Game: Transatlantic
Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Board Game: Scharfe Schoten
Board Game: The Lost Expedition
Board Game: Gold West
Board Game: Cobras
Board Game: Awkward Guests
Board Game: Heaven & Ale
Board Game: Harvest
From gallery of BoardGameGeek


 9.5   The Mind x6 (16 all-time)
Not much to say about this one that hasn't already been said, it's a fantastic filler game... simply great!


 9.5   Gloomhaven (34 all-time)
In this session we finished one of the Story Branches, beating the Final Boss... it was the easiest game we ever had, it took us 4 rounds and 34 minutes to beat this level!!!


 7.0   Guilds NEW!
Very interesting Auction game... the twist in this one is that when you bid you have to bid in two different things and the money you already bid on something will only go back to you at the end of the auction phase, so you have to be really smart on how you bid!
The game has also a lot of interactive cards that some people might not like



 8.15   Transatlantic (2 all-time)
First play of the finished game and I really like it... The central mechanic of the game is the same as in Concordia, so that's a good thing.

Really like the gameplay, the art is great... the rulebook could be a lot better. The timing is this game can be very cruel or very fortunate to the players and that is a thing that will not appeal to many people, when the ships come out is very very important.


 10.   Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization (63 all-time)
In this game I pursued a Military strategy from the start and I got a lot of Colonies that helped me with Population, I ended the game with 2 guys in Agriculture!!
I played successful aggressions against all the players in the game and managed to get the victory!

WINNER IS PAULO RENATO AS GREY (230 PTS)
2nd is nogud nogud as Orange (216 pts)
3rd is Joao Carlos as Green (194 pts)
4th is Eduardo Cruz as Purple (184 pts)

Game ID: #7423046

Confrontation History
Me – 11
Nuno Ascenção – 9
João Carlos – 5
Eduardo Cruz – 3


 9.3   Terraforming Mars (10 all-time)

This was a 3P player game of TFM with Venus and one of the Hellas or Elysium boards... Played for the first time with the Viron Corporation and it was very cool, the power of this Corp is that you can activate one of your action cards a second time each generation... And did I leverage that!!
One of my floater cards had 22 Resources on it at the end of the game for 11 points... had another card with I think 15 or so points in animals!

Won the game with 106 points to 100 and 90


 6.5   Scharfe Schoten NEW!
I'm not really a trick taking guy but enjoyed this one... the twist in this one is that there are 4 suits and each suit will vary in power from round to round and also each suit will have a super trump.
At the start of each round you have to predict which suit you'll get the most cards of and which you'll get the least of.
The card backs show you what suit the card is, so you know how many cards each player has of each of the suits...


 8.0   The Lost Expedition (3 all-time)
Two player game in the medium difficulty and we won with ease, without any of the expedition members dying!


 8.5   Gold West (4 all-time)
This game is great... it's very simple to play but yet provides you with a lot of good decisions and you are always engaged with what the other players are doing in their turns! Great great game


 7.5   Cobras NEW!
I'm not a trick-taking guy and I played another Trick-Taking game!!

This one was played 2P and it plays very very well with 2... it uses a dummy player that is very very simple to use and it's great!
It can also be played solo!!! haven't tried it yet.
Liked this one more than Scharfe Schoten


 9.0   Incómodos Invitados (2 all-time)
Second play of this Deduction game (that I now own) and it's indeed great! This time I failed completely in my deduction, I had a very good deduction on everything, it all made sense but it was incorrect :\ hehehe


 8.85   Heaven & Ale (3 all-time)
Finally played this one with all the correct rules... and man, it was a near perfect play!! Just look at my Board:

External image


I completed my board... I managed to get 9 Barrels and scored 88 Points!!! It was more than double the score of the other 3 players combined!!
The highest score I'd seen so for was in a 3P game and with the incorrect rules that made it much easier to score more points and it was 53 or something like that... so 88 points, wow!


 8.75   Harvest (4 all-time)
The character powers are insane in this game... Juliana played with one I hadn't seen before, basically it gave her -2 points at the end of the game for each field she had and she didn't have to pay for any costs in any action that required payment!!! So she practically ignored anything to do with planting, tending and Harvesting and just built buildings for free!! She won by 1 point... I finished second!


 N/A   Cake or Death (None all-time)
This is a game that's coming to KS in the near future that I'm playtesting, so there's no rating for it.
Really enjoying bing a part of this process, of testing a game and suggesting ways to try to improve it

And that was all
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13. Board Game: Populi Turolii [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:14227]
Board Game: Populi Turolii
I was quiet most of last week because Lærke and I went to Spain to visit a friend and his girlfriend over Easter. They also play boardgames but focus was on good food and wine and some historical sites in Aragón and both Castilles. This was my sixth visit to Spain (Lærke’s first) but my first visit to Segovia, Cuenca and Teruel. We also visited a couple of very beautiful nature reserves. One had a large colony of Griffon Vultures and in the other we saw three of the endemic Iberian Ibex by chance. That’s a new mammal species for me and an unexpected one on this trip so I was very happy. One was standing on a cliff right next to the road even.

Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

 6   Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 x4 (15 all-time)
I had taken the whole week off which was nice in itself of course but it also meant that we could start earlier in my PL Legacy group and finish 4 plays in one go. And that is great because I’d like this to end soon. Just like with Season 1, it becomes repetitive and 15 plays plus however many more we need to finish the last two months are clearly too many hours spent on a game I’m not fond of when I can play something else. Despite our worries, we seemed to have it easy (we also did forget a couple of things about what you cannot do in forsaken cities but it wouldn’t have changed much I believe) apart from in one game where a couple of early outbreaks meant we were on the back foot. Of course it ended on the last possible infection card before we would have won the game. Anyway, we have now finished October and we’re getting closer to the end of the narrative which seems a bit cramped for the last two months. So far we’ve been ahead of it all game but I think it might have caught up with us now after we won 5 months in a row.


Board Game: Throne and the Grail

 9   Throne and the Grail x3 (36 all-time)
As always when travelling we brought Throne and the Grail as it’s a good small game to play while waiting in airports. We played three times, I won two of those but Lærke played really well for a grail win.




Board Game: BraveRats

 9   R x3 (7 all-time)
I fell in love with this game playing it with Marc while drinking a good Danish rye. I received a copy of it just before leaving so I of course brought it along so I could teach Lærke. She’s normally not that fond of this type of game but I think she has started warming to it. It is really the perfect game for travelling as you can even play it on a plane without a problem – and that’s what we did. I won 2-1 and that’s the last thing I won during the trip.



Board Game: Too Many Cinderellas

 6   Too Many Cinderellas x3 (5 all-time)
Spaniards travel a lot inside the country over Easter, or the holy week as they call it. That also means it’s very difficult to find a place to stay but fortunately we did manage to find an AirBnB in a village outside Teruel. It wasn’t great but we had beds and nice and warm kitchen to play a few games in during our stay. We started with teaching our hosts Too Many Cinderellas which they to my surprise really liked – for its theme mainly. It was fun, especially when the old man became the Prince’s favoured Cinderella.



Board Game: Sagrada

 5   Sagrada NEW!
Our hosts have played Sagrada quite a bit recently. It has killed Azul for them which I do not understand because Azul is clearly the better game. The colour choices for Sagrada is a major issue for everyone but especially for us colour blind. Not only did they choose to have red and green dice but also blue and purple. I couldn’t tell the blue and purple apart at all and that is far from good in this game. It’s pretty but it’s also too much a solitaire puzzle for me. And it’s very AP prone. I’d much rather play Azul twice than this.



Board Game: Expedition: Northwest Passage

 7   Expedition: Northwest Passage (3 all-time)
I was very interested in Northwest Passage when it came out in 2013 for my first time at Essen. I played it there but wasn’t wowed by it despite the great theme and setting and nor was I when I played a few months afterwards. It’s been on my mind lately again perhaps because of some talk here so I really wanted to play it when I saw it in my friend’s ludoteca. Just a two-player game against him and like before, I liked (loved) the idea of it much more than I did the actual game. I’m not sure why because it’s thematic, the theme speaks to me and it has some cool ideas about warm/cold parts of the board and the action selection mechanism that follows from it. Still, it leaves me a bit cold. I might need a bit more interaction than just competing over 5 different majorities and a small race element. I’m not sure.


Board Game: Clank! In! Space!: A Deck-Building Adventure

 5   Clank! In! Space! x2 NEW!
Our hosts hadn’t played Clank! and since it’s a favourite of Lærke’s we thought we could bring that along with us on our road trip to Teruel and teach them. Only, they had In Space which we hadn’t tried before but it’s one that people speak highly of so why not. I’ve rated the original a 6 and now this a 5 even though people talk of it being an improved version of the original. Why you might ask. Well, I like you get more clank and the alienometer raises more quickly than the dragonometer, how you have different escape routes and the added mercenary cubes that makes the end game better because it’s harder to get out alive. But – and that is a big but (which I like and I cannot lie) – the game also lasts much much longer and that takes away all the fun of it for a long stretch of the game. It’s a simple silly game that is fun to play for 1-1½ hours and not 2½-3 as our two plays took. That is much too long for what the game is. If you play on the advanced side of the three modules that can be flipped it’s worse because they have a lot of rooms you cannot pass through during the same round. I’ll stick to the original, thank you. And I do not even like that one that much.



Games that left my collection this month: Fast Forward: FEAR.

Games that entered my collection this month: 878: Vikings - Invasions of England, R, Saint Petersburg (1st Edition) and Populi Turolii.

Unplayed games in my collection: Tahuantinsuyu, 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Splatter SHOOT, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, Sword of Rome, Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62, El Alamein, Stephenson's Rocket, Continental Divide, Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Edition), BIOS: Megafauna (2nd Edition), Happy Salmon, 878: Vikings - Invasions of England, Saint Petersburg (1st Edition) and Populi Turolii.


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14. Board Game: Piraten kapern [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:3138]
Board Game: Piraten kapern
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Two games of Mille Sabords, and some games of Can't Stop together on Sam's phone.

Our grocery store is being renovated, so we've switched to a different one. There's a pizza place in the same parking lot that had good reviews, so we gave it a try. Reasonable prices, and the people were very nice. While we were waiting for our order, we played Can't Stop.

I grilled on Sunday, and then we had about 6 inches of snow on Monday (had to shovel before Sam could go to work). My first crocuses (a purple and a white) are poking up. Thankfully the snow was fluffy and brief enough that it looks like they made it through okay.
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15. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:26]
Board Game: The 7th Continent
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:
|9| Love Letter
|9| Ricochet Robots
|9| Terra Mystica (+Fire & Ice; 4 Town Tiles; Erweiterungsbogen)
|9| Through the Ages: A New Story
-8- Fluch der Mumie
-8- Hanabi (+Die Bonus-Plättchen New!)
-8- Terraforming Mars (+Self-Replicating Robots) (x2) (+Hellas & Elysium; Penguins; Small Asteroid; Snow Algae)
-7.5- Great Western Trail (+11th Building Tiles)
-7- 6 Nimmt!
-7- The 7th Continent New! (x2)
-7- Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck
-7- Last Train to Wensleydale

Plenty of gaming over the long weekend.

I enjoy Great Western Trail but it gives me so much to think about that I feel I need to spend a long time over my turns. I don't like doing so, because it's not fair to keep the other players waiting, so instead I try to play faster and inevitably make disappointing mistakes. Maybe a few considered solo plays would cure me of this and help me to internalise the game, work out what I should be doing when. Kate seems to have got this down already: she is able to make valuable deliveries more frequently while I get distracted with all the other bells and whistles the game makes available. I can't remember the last time I managed to deliver to San Francisco.

First play of the Hanabi mini-expansion. It merely adds a few different rewards for playing a 5, so you don't necessarily get a free clue out of it. We found ourselves desperately hoping for the one bonus that lets you shuffle a discard back into the deck, because otherwise we'd be unable to complete the green fireworks. It didn't show up, so we finished with a mediocre 21 points.

On Saturday, a few of us visited the Midland heritage railway for a day out. It was bitterly cold but made for a charming day out nevertheless. That evening, I suggested another Wallace from my infrequently-played list, which conveniently featured the Midland railway: Last Train to Wensleydale. I'd forgotten how fiddly adjusting the different influence tracks was but aside from that the game went down well. I failed to sell off many of my first turn tracks and was repeatedly punished for it, coming in solidly last and learning a valuable lesson for next time!

Updated Wallace count:



Played:
A Few Acres of Snow (x2)
A Study in Emerald
Age of Steam (x2)
Book of Dragons
Brass
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
Last Train to Wensleydale
Liberté (x2)
London (x2)
Perikles


This challenge is going well which goes to show what a bit of focus can do.

Love Letter was the evening's closer and I managed to win one round with the fiendish Dark Clown strategy – hilarious when it works.

I was lucky enough to be an early recipient of The 7th Continent (many UK backers have faced unexplained delays in receiving their games) and it monopolised the kitchen table for much of Sunday. Kate and I played it for most of the day, the time passing a lot faster than we realised. That the game is so engrossing is a good sign but I wonder what it's like when you have to replay sections you've already been over. Although there's an introductory print-and-play scenario, I hadn't prepared that so we were playing "The Voracious Goddess" curse, which I understand to be quite long. We did well at finding the clues we needed to progress but less well at hunting for food to keep ourselves alive and so died exploring the third area. I'm looking forward to continuing the adventure. It reminds me a lot of that part in 'The Secret of Monkey Island' where you reach Monkey Island itself and keep finding clues that suggest you may not be alone. Despite not being a fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books, Kate enjoyed this a lot, so it should be a good co-operative game for us to explore. I can't see myself playing it with 3 or 4 players, though – there's not enough for everyone to do.

Finally, Through the Ages was a good, tense match. We both kept pace in military so although no aggressions were played, it was far from a pacifist game. If one of us fell behind, the other would surely capitalise. I had good culture production throughout the game but Kate's economy kicked into high gear in Age III to outpace me. Key was her ability to draw and seed more endgame events that favoured her.
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