GCL Phoenix 391: The World Cup offspring! (2018-07-01)
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Welcome to the Phoenix GameChat League!

If you stumbled upon this geeklist by accident or through your subscriptions, you can read more about GCLs at the GameChat League Wiki page. Visitors are welcome to comment, but please leave the adding of items to members.

Members:
Alison (grasa_total)
Carol (indigopotter)
John (John Rogers)
Karl (karlfast)
Michael (Lowengrin)
Paulo (Muse23PT)
Nicolai (Taibi)
Dave (rynelf)*
Morten (Tigrillo)
Rich (woodnoggin)

Alumni:
archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, darker, Dormammu, Eeeville, enzo622, hawk-x-, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, ravenskana, Smintie, TheRocketSurgeon, tjshields, topherr, Yokiboy

*Next up in the rotation.

I have been watching a lot of the World Cup in Russia. It has influenced the list for the week.

Happy chatting.
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1. Board Game: The World Cup Game [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:2353]
Board Game: The World Cup Game
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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I have to talk about THE event of the year. Putin showing off the glory of Russia and all of FIFA pandering to the man. The worlds eyes are on Russia, but that is not really the point of this entry.

Taking the view of board- and card-games as a competitive sport, is it possible? If so, what games would you see played. Obviously I am not thinking Chess, Go, Whist, Poker, but along the lines of Agricola and Pandemic, which already features as competitive games.
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From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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The new shiny at the World Cup is the Video Assistant Referee system. Love it or hate it, it seems, it is here to stay.

Recently we talked about being on-board or not with digital boardgames, playing classics on the iOS, Android and what not.

Now, let us talk hybrids. Do these hybrids have a place in the industry? There have been a few over the years, but we haven't seen a flood of them enter the market.

Something to embrace, reject or will it be another niche genre?
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Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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The World Cup has already seen its first major casualty, though given recent history, it should have come as no surprise. 4 out of the last 5 World Champions have been eliminated at the group stage in the following tournament. Germany out.

Do you favour the true and tested designers or do you seek out the new, up and commers? If the latter, how do you do that in our current, contested climate with Kickstarters left and right, every man and his dog starting their own company? If the former, can they keep up the pace?
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4. Board Game: Rotation [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Rotation
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
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Dave - 8th July
Morten - 15th July
Rich - 22nd July

Alison - 29th July
Carol - 5th August
John - 12th August
Nicolai - 17th August
Michael - 24th August
Karl - 31st August
Dave - 7th September
Morten - 14th September
Rich - 21st September

*Nicolai is taking Karl's August 17th spot. Karl is doing Paulo's August 31st spot.
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5. Board Game: Welcome To... [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:121]
Board Game: Welcome To...
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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Monday June 25th
Istanbul Dice

Tuesday June 26th
Istanbul Dice x2

Thursday June 28th
Istanbul Dice
Cottage Garden - new to us

Friday June 29th
Cottage Garden
Welcome To x2 - new to us

Saturday June 30th
Welcome To
Las Vegas (3p)
Istanbul Dice

Yesterday Sam wanted to go to a game store that we go to occasionally, about 2 hours away. The tables were full of people playing Magic and whatever, so it was hard to get back to the board games to browse. I noticed a guy (staff) recommending things to a young (college age?) woman, but he was also running the register and had to step away. Rather than leave her by herself, I went over and talked to her. She was looking for gifts for her friend. The staff guy came back over, got pulled away again (understandable, as it was busy and he seemed to be the only one there). What was weird, though, is that he seemed annoyed with me for talking to her (and recommending things off of his shelves, by the way). It can be hard for a woman to be by herself in a store full of guys, especially when you're not that familiar with games and gaming. I didn't want her to end up leaving without getting what she came for.

Her mom and (sister?) were there a bit later, and I introduced myself, we talked for a minute, the mom said thanks for helping her, she couldn't help her herself.

By that time I decided to sit at a table with a woman on a laptop, since I wasn't really looking for a game, and the full tables were still making it hard to browse. I did see Istanbul Dice, so if we had still been in the market for that, I might have picked it up there.

While I was sitting at the table with the woman on the laptop (roughly my age, perhaps a smidge older) a guy came over and asked if we were the 5E group. I said no, but thumbs up for thinking that a table with two women could be the D&D group.

The younger woman had been looking around, and had checked out. I could see her out of the corner of my eye, looking like she wanted to talk to me again, so I looked up and said Hi or something to invite her over. She wanted to show me what she had bought. I also found out that she's from Orlando (they were up here visiting), so I told her about CoolStuff.

The staff member guy still seemed annoyed at me (little things, like when he went by me and said 'scuse me, it wasn't what he said but how he said it. Sam told me later that he had picked up on it even from across the store, and almost left because of it.) So the guy was saying 'scuse me to get to the register because Sam was there, ready to check out. When I went up to Sam and Sam handed me our rewards card, the difference in the guy was like night and day.

While he didn't have to get me chocolates and flowers for helping the woman, it would have been nice not to get gruff for it, either. Just having another woman there, and having someone to talk to so you're not standing there alone, might have kept her in the store long enough to make her purchases. I didn't necessarily do it for him (although it's nice to support local stores), I did it more for her, so she felt okay, and also to perhaps encourage more gaming down the road. It was just a weird thing.

So then we went to the gaming cafe for some lunch and gaming. The owner was prepping a D&D encounter, and it turns out Sam had also run it, so they were talking about it. We played our copy of Welcome To... while waiting for our food. Afterwards we were sort of packing up, when a young (20-something) woman poked her head in and said something like "No one's here". She was staying with her in-laws with her baby while her husband was deployed. We stayed and taught her Las Vegas, which we had also tucked into our bag as something easy to teach (worked very well). Her baby was very good in the car seat watching us. As it happens, she, too, was from Florida. So I guess it was just the day for running into women from Florida.

The game cafe also has a book wall, we brought some books to donate. They also do interesting things like craft night and movie nights. If we lived closer, we would go for more of those things.

In non-gaming news, the new skylights are nice and bright, and it's nice not to be worried about the roof leaking when it rains.

Sam's done with his summer class, so our schedule should be more relaxed (more gaming) for a while. Sam mentioned getting out some of the longer games like Roads & Boats.

Our 6th wedding anniversary is Saturday, so we'll have to figure out something fun to do.








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6. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:42]
Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 30Jun2018:

8/27/186 plays of 6/19/107 total games, with 0/5/24 expansions employed.
Plays with 10/20/77 distinct opponents.

0/4/16 games acquired (plus 0/1/9 expansions.)
0/0/1 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
0/4/10 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 3 games and 0 expansions still outstanding.

With kids:
Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

image by pogo

1x _9_ Through the Ages (31 +5 total plays)

Son #2 defeats me in (what proves to be, after all the final scoring cards were tallied) a close match. Prior to those scoring cards, it had appeared that he'd a dramatic and unassailable lead. After the scoring, it was clear that while the lead was indeed unassailable, the margin was far slimmer than he (or I) had thought.


With the Lunch@work group:
Board Game: Oraklos

image by BigWoo

1x _6⅔_ Oraklos (4 total plays)

Player-summoning. We began with 3, and quickly ramped up the play: adding another couple players, then having a couple kibitzers join the fray. (Oraklos could easily be played as a team game without any loss of viability.) But rather than push our luck, we split into two groups. I played...

 

image by moromoro

3x _7⅓_ Birth (8 total plays)

with a couple others (Birth might have 2p rules, but it's really designed for 3p.) We played the default Blue board; the alternate Red board; then (with the aid of a bit of Google Translate, since I'd never bothered to translate it before) played the Purple board (with the five special-power spaces: all labelled helpfully in Japanese.)

Mike Fogus describes is "like pseudo-Backgammon from another galaxy": that's fair. It's easily better than I'd initially thought.


With the Wednesday night gang:
Board Game: London & Northwestern

image by d0gb0t

1x _7⅔_ London & Northwestern New!

It's interesting. (In a good way.) Rather snowbally (by Winsome standards, at least: it's no Outpost.) It's a cross-investment puzzle where each company has a major/controlling/presidential share and set of minor shares that others can buy. Buying into another person's company helps them - and helps you, and helps (to a slightly lesser degree) everyone who has previously bought into that company, too.

It might be a bit too long for the lunch gang, but it's nearly plausible. I think it would be a delightful 45m diversion if players were playing quickly (and the lunch folk can often pull off that aesthetic: it was a 90m game for this bunch!)

Board Game: Neue Heimat

image by GeoMan

1x __ Neue Heimat (12 total plays) (36 months dusty)

As delightful as one would expect. And easily my headliner in a week I'd not played TtA. K (Scott's daughter #1) played particularly well, playing Paul and I off against her dad. (We were eventually manoeuvred into either helping her win (in which case we placed 2nd and 3rd) or letting Scott win (in which case we'd place 3rd and 4th.) Scott lost out.)

Board Game: Little Town

image by nannann2002

1x _7⅔_ リトルタウンビルダーズ Ritorutaunbirudāzu 'Little Town Builders' (6 total plays)

And with this (and counting the game of 横濱紳商伝 from last week) the four of us have each won one game in the last four things we've played together. Which is fun. This one saw particularly strong play by our winner; the remaining bunch of us were tightly packed in score.


Owned-and-unplayed: 3 (+0/-1) - London & Northwestern was played.
Owned-and-played-once: 96 (+1/-0) - London & Northwestern was played once.

Outlook for the week: Very likely some play with family (son #1 is home for a bit!) and friends (Wednesday and Thursday are holidays for me; likely some gaming will happen.) Not sure what we'll pull off, but it should be fun.
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7. Board Game: Nonaga [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:7131]
Board Game: Nonaga
Alison Mandible
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Board Game: Nonaga


 9   Exceed: Seventh Cross (Season 2) x2 (8 all-time)
 7?   Nonaga x2 (None all-time)

Very little gaming this week, but a lot of game activity-- I've spent hours researching new abstracts that I can play with an updated portable abstract kit (I borrowed stackable pieces from a copy of Splits, opening the door for Mixtour, Six Making, Mandalay and others).

The only one I've played so far is Nonaga, tested with S on a weekend getaway to Providence. It was surprisingly good; individual moves often felt almost forced, but the consequences of those almost-forced choices were often surprising, making it feel like there is probably at least one more later of depth to get at.

In any case, it's perfect for my yearly stint playing abstracts with strangers in the woods. Which is how I will spend the rest of this week!

[Edited to add: I just painted a game board using some cheap paints and a canvas that S had collecting dust in her arts & crafts cabinet. I am totally having that "maybe this is my new hobby!" high of having done amateurish but passable work in an entirely new medium that I've never even thought about before. But it's nearly 3am and I should definitely be asleep.]
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8. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:136] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Memoir '44
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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Board Game: Memoir '44
Board Game: Key Harvest
Board Game: The Great War


 7   Memoir '44 x4 (72 all-time)
 6   Key Harvest (7 all-time)
 7   The Great War NEW!

The Week That Was

Last week's play of Container made me nostalgic for other classic games; namely those from the Game: Commands & Colors family. So I messaged the core members of my group and floated the idea of always having C&C games present at game night for the remainder of the summer. That was an easy sell.

Between four of us we have all the iterations but Tricorne (which I am tempted to buy just to try) and today I took a plunge, trading for Napoleonics (CNN + 4exps = Antiquity; seemed fair to me). Anyways I'm hoping to get a series of plays from each in before the summer is out. So expect some C&C heavy posts for the next 8wks or so.

Memoir '44 (Guadalcanal scenarios)
My journey began with a dive back into M44. This is arguably David's all-time favorite (though Agricola is close) and easily his most played game. As such I felt it only appropriate to have him choose our scenarios. He opted for a 4-part series focusing on the battles of Guadalcanal, inspired after recently reading a book on the Pacific Theater and this particular front. We made an effort to break after each session to have David fill me in on the larger context of each battle which was nice and informative.

Now the series is designed for players to play each battle twice, switching sides to ensure fairness. We prefer just to play straight through which at times means lopsided outcomes. Such was the case this go-around as David took the Marines and I the Japanese. Historically I had no chance as both the terrain and abilities were clearly slanted in the Marines favor. Now to his credit David offered to switch back-and-forth between the Marines and Japanese but I was determined to play through completely as the underdog with the goal of overturning history. In the end we were both surprised at how well I fared, losing the first two battles 6-4 before getting blown out in battle three 5-2. But I made amends in the last battle winning 5-4! History overturned! Huzzah!

Key Harvest (teaching game)
While David was busy setting up the intro session for The Great War, I was teaching 3 newbies how to play Key Harvest. I enjoy this game but am always annoyed at the random timer. Luckily for me one of the players, Christina, was so taken with the game that she offered to buy it from me if I ever tire of it. SOLD! I'm planning on using the money toward the purchase of Tricorne later this summer.

The Great War (intro learning session)
So after the Key Harvest sidetrack I got back into Commands and Colors, this time The Great War. David had read the rules and played one session back in January so he was a bit more familiar with this iteration and I. This iteration has some interesting new twists such as terrain not reducing dice rolled but rather the effectiveness of it. It also includes a battle deck with some very powerful though lovely illustrated and flavorful cards. But the trenches are the real star, offering amazing cover for those in vs stark nakedness for those out.

Overall I was quite impressed at how well the game simulated the feeling of being in trenches and the devastating consequences of advancing troops across open fields. I also enjoyed the historical flavor via some of the battle cards such as carrier pigeons, lice, trench foot, and Mata Hari. Now I am curious about the Tank and forthcoming French army expansions.

BTW David selected the second of two learning scenarios and chose the British, leaving me with the Germans. With the aide of some clever maneuvering, combined firing of my machine guns, and risky moves to take ground I took the day 6-4. I later learned that as the Germans I could have used recon cards to gain medals rather than using their post play ability to draw-two-and-select-one-card as normal. After looking at the scenarios it seems that half of them have this ability for the defender, apparently to simulate time being against the attacker. I'm not sure how much I like this and my guess is that it will heavily swing those particular matches in the favor of the defending side. We'll see.

Stay tuned for next week's trench foot adventures!
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9. Board Game: At Any Cost: Metz 1870 [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:3871]
Board Game: At Any Cost: Metz 1870
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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With S
Board Game: 51st State: Master Set

 8   51st State: Master Set x1 (52 all-time)
Evenings where we'd have once defaulted to Carcassonne, we've been picking up 51st State instead. This week got one play using the "Winter" deck rather than our more usual "New Deal" deck. I got lucky with a lot of cards that granted construction actions (arrows) and won on end game building scoring.

While the "New Deal" deck enhances the "deal" action, the "Winter" deck appears to favour balancing production as a lot of cards in it require spending one of X number of goods to get victory points. As a result, it feels less focused and, for me, less interesting.


With S and K
Board Game: Massive Darkness

 7   Massive Darkness w/Enemy Box – Troglodytes x2 (12 all-time)
Saturday night, K, S and I played the final two scenarios from the base game of Massive Darkness. As we've been playing "story mode" (with some house rules), we've kept our characters and their abilities and equipment from one game to the next. It's meant that the last couple times, we've easily overpowered the monsters in the game. So much so, that even K has agreed we need to start with new characters and with some tougher house rules. So next time, we'll all start with new characters; and to give us a bit more choice, today I ordered the Heroes & Monster Set – Noble Warriors vs The Cockatrix.


Solo
Board Game: At Any Cost: Metz 1870

 7   At Any Cost: Metz 1870 x1 New!
This week I finally sat down to play At Any Cost: Metz 1870. Thursday, I punched and clipped the counters I need to play the first scenario...or so I thought. Friday, I discovered I'd actually opened the Play Book to the second scenario and punched it instead. So Friday, I punched the first scenario counters while setting up.

The production quality for this game is "standard" GMT; thin, small square counters and a gloss paper map. From watching a video on the game, I assumed At Any Cost came with the rounded "deluxe" counters, but I quickly realized it was because the person who made the video clipped his counters very professionally. Given the bother, I'd be happy to pay GMT a bit more for "deluxe" counters (as clipping the corners is just so time consuming)....

The game itself is okay. I enjoy the randomness in the way units are activated (pulling their chit from a cup). It adds for some uncertainty that one doesn't get from the old "I go/you go" turn order. And the tactics for each side are very different. The French infantry is armed with a rifle of longer range and accuracy so they do better standing and blasting away especially with a Mitrailleuse in support. The Prussian infantry, on the other hand, is better at close combat and their Krupp artillery guns are much better than the French artillery.

And while the game plays rather fast, I don't find myself getting as drawn into the (solo) experience as much as something like Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain. It may just be that I'm not all that familiar with the period or the battles. I'm curious to see how Ligny 1815: Last Eagles compares as it's a similar scale and has similar mechanics in a period and a battle that I'm more familiar with and more interested in.


The Week Ahead

I may play another scenario of At Any Cost: Metz 1870, but I've nothing specifically planned. As mentioned, I did order another expansion to Massive Darkness. With it, I ordered Near and Far based on Jeremy's enthusiasm. However, I'm a bit concerned that it may bomb with S. She's pretty disinterested when it comes to theme and may find the "read an adventure" part of the game annoying.

Unplayed games of note in shrink: Sakura Arms, 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.

On order: Ligny 1815: Last Eagles, Near and Far and Massive Darkness: Heroes & Monster Set – Noble Warriors vs The Cockatrix.
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10. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:312]
Board Game: Maria
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Board Game: Triumvirate
Board Game: Five Cucumbers
Board Game: Pax Porfiriana
Board Game: Agricola, Master of Britain
Board Game: Red7
Board Game: Age of Steam
Board Game: Spirit Island
Board Game: Finished!
Board Game: London (Second Edition)
Board Game: The Maiden in the Forest
Board Game: Maria
Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe
Board Game: Schnapsen
Board Game: Coffee Roaster
Board Game: Nyet!
Board Game: The Lost Expedition
Board Game: Hanamikoji


 10   Triumvirate x9
 7   Five Cucumbers x2
 10   Pax Porfiriana x6
 7   Agricola, Master of Britain x4
 7   Red7
 8   Age of Steam
 8   Spirit Island x18 NEW!
 8   Finished! x10
 8   London (second edition) x2
 7   The Maiden in the Forest x3 NEW!
 9   Maria x3
 9   The Great Zimbabwe
 N/A   Schnapsen NEW!
 N/A   Coffee Roaster x4 NEW!
 9   Nyet!
 8   The Lost Expedition x15
 8   Hanamikoji x3

Continuing my trend of infrequent posts, I'm continuing my at-least-once-a-season thing (so this is the SPRING 2018 update). Gaming has relatively slowed down in the last month and a bit, work has picked up extensively (in a period that is supposed to be a lull). Nonetheless, it's about time to report again!

Favorite Play: Maria
So, I knew I really liked Maria for both its simplicity and its depth. Doing a short run of it reinforces this belief. I have yet to play all of the sides of the battle, but it's great to see how the game encourages balancing out its beautiful asymmetry, requiring that all players approach the game a bit differently. Speaking of beautiful, I love the look of this one on a table! Maria might very well be a 10 for me. It's a magnum opus of hybrid wargames, and a perfect three way knife fight... but then, I have yet to play a Histogame I don't love.


Favorite New Game: Spirit Island!
So I'm late to the party on this one. What a great game! I love the entire premise of the game, reversing the usual colonial tropes of games; but the game is also extremely well executed in terms of being both relatively accessible, but also having highly customizable depth! (the colonizers as bots also runs incredibly smoothly). I have only played a few of the spirits so far (Lightning, Earth, and the Flame [not the fire]). Lots of game space to play with, and each of them play differently (and each colonizer offers a differing challenge as well). I look forward to playing this one more!

Back on the Table:Lost Expedition
While not off the table for a terribly long time, I've been looking to play some short, not-too-demanding solo games (which I haven't necessarily "figured out" in the way that I feel my plays of Friday are!). I'm not trying so ferociously to run through the deck and my win count has gone up considerably (even though I often make it through most of the deck to do so; the "survival" skills developed were not wasted!). I'm still enjoying this one, coming up on 50 plays.

Online:Pax Porfiriana
Because it still applies from last time, I'm just going to cut and past this:
Quote:
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.
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11. Board Game: Bugs in the Kitchen [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:3155]
Board Game: Bugs in the Kitchen
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-8- Great Western Trail (+11th Building Tile; Promo Station Master Tiles)
-8- Terraforming Mars (+Hellas & Elysium; Penguins; Self-Replicating Robots; Snow Algae)
-7- Ganz schön clever
-7- Gloomhaven
-5- Bugs in the Kitchen (x2) New!

Catching up on these reports...

Kate completely thrashed us at Great Western Trail with a heavy building strategy. She was able to grab the only two builders available at the start of the game, which discouraged the rest of us from taking that path. She eventually collected six builders, sending some to be station masters and replacing them to repeatedly build cheaply. First she gummed up the board with taxation buildings, then upgraded to the building that allows you to max out your certificates and the 25-pointer. Even while concentrating on building, she wasn't missing out on valuable cattle deliveries since her building powers helped her there and she still made it to San Francisco. It was very impressive.

It made up for her mistake in Terraforming Mars where she worked towards a milestone that wasn't in play. I had the UNMI corporation, which I feel is one of the more scripted: you want to raise your Terraforming Rating at least once each turn to use your ability and push the game to an early end before others get their engines running. It's fun to play now and again but sometimes I like to have the time to build my own engine.

We played a four-player Gloomhaven scenario to introduce Mike to the game. It was the Inox Encampment, reputedly one of the tougher scenarios to win. I don't think it was the best scenario to start a new player on though, as it's quite static with most of the action taking place in the same room. I prefer scenarios with more movement to them, but Mike was happy enough and interested in playing again. I pulled off a very profitable Loot 2 with my Mindthief and there was general eye-rolling in response.

Bugs in the Kitchen was my nephew's birthday present and I was keen to try it out. When I played it with him, though, he kept cheating (rerolling dice, taking double turns, moving parts of the board that he shouldn't and so on) so it was clear he wasn't quite up to playing properly and we aborted the game. Later, I tried it with Kate and it wasn't as fun as I'd hoped. The idea is to direct a nanobot bug through a maze and into your trap, avoiding your opponents' traps. You can manipulate the walls of the maze as directed by a die roll on your turn. The first player to catch the bug five times is the winner. The gameplay is fine when the components work as intended but we found the bug kept getting stuck in a corner and needed a nudge to continue its journey. If the bug had been slightly smaller (or the walls bigger) this problem may have been reduced. The bug also seemed to favour one side of the board over the other and we wondered if the slope of the table had something to do with it. We swapped sides for the second game and the bug still favoured the cheese trap over the chocolate one.

Ganz schön clever continues to please.
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