GCL Amoeba 400 - Our 4th century
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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GameChat League - Amoeba Division 400
ABOUT | AMOEBA DIVISION | SUBSCRIBE

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:

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

Our 400th list! Let's talk a bit about round numbers and other questions inspired by that number.
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1. Board Game: Dungeon Lords: Happy Anniversary [Average Rating:8.21 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.21 Unranked]
Board Game: Dungeon Lords: Happy Anniversary
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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What types of anniversaries do you usually celebrate? Any other 400th anniversary that springs to mind?
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2. Board Game: Memory Madness [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Board Game: Memory Madness
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Looking backward, what's your favorite discussion on our GCL list?
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3. Board Game: The 400 [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The 400
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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What's your first association with the number 400?
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4. Board Game: Fall of the Roman Empire [Average Rating:4.42 Overall Rank:18182]
Board Game: Fall of the Roman Empire
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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A final thought that comes to mind with the number 400 is the split of the Roman empire around 400AD (395). What are your favorite games with a Roman or otherwise classical theme?
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5. Board Game: Tracks to Titicaca [Average Rating:6.21 Unranked]
Board Game: Tracks to Titicaca
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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2x _X.XX_ Food Chain Magnate
3x _6.00_ Animale Tattica
2x _7.25_ Sentinels of the Multiverse
1x _6.00_ Factory Funner
1x _6.00_ Tracks to Titicaca
1x _5.25_ Wolfpack
1x _5.00_ Taiwan
1x _5.00_ Shadows: Amsterdam

Not as much gaming this week, as we attended two concerts (Anastacia and Kim Wilde). Still plenty .

We liked Animale Tattica with 2p. Nice climbing game - especially the surrounding rule where you can play lower numbered cards with the same total. Decent special abilities cards as well.

Our longer weekend game was Tracks to Titicaca: good fun though extremely random. It's hard to roll 16 on three dice!

I had found a copy of Wolfpack, and finally got it to the table. The rules make it seem more complex than it actually is. The convoy movement system works decently well; once you get going it's relatively quick flowing.

I like the ideas behind Taiwan, but it seems to be over too quick (at least with 2p). There were two obvious cards that we wanted to build up, and then the game already finished... Not sure if the random resources you get work quite well either.


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6. Board Game: Blackout: Hong Kong [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:498]
Board Game: Blackout: Hong Kong
Jérôme
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Only a handful of games.
Again, busy days and some fatigue, unfortunately.

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: New York
Board Game: Concordia
Board Game: Blackout: Hong Kong
Board Game: Spring Meadow
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Board Game: Firenze
Board Game: Keltis: Das Orakel


7  Ticket to Ride: New York (14 all-time)
Stefan and Jacco visited and while Natascha walked the dog, we spent twenty minutes in New York. This remains a very fun game, but I’m very worried that the initial draw of destination cards is decisive for the chances to win. I had 7 and 8 point cards, which overlapped for the largest part. There is not enough time to draw more cards as long as new routes are being built almost every other turn.

10  Concordia (13 all-time)
Then we went to Egypt for a long play of Concordia. It looked like Jacco was going to finish it by building his final house, but his construction stagnated and Natascha was able use her Senator to buy both last cards. She won with an eight point margin over me, Jacco lagging a bit behind and Stefan was still below 100...
From gallery of Tsaar

Photo by Jacco.

9  Blackout: Hong Kong NEW!
The evening after Jacco and I wanted to give Alexander Pfister’s latest a try. We didn’t have enough time to finish and we didn’t count the score but I’m impressed by the tight arrangement of different elements into a coherent composition.
From gallery of Tsaar


7  Spring Meadow (5 all-time)
8  Century: Spice Road x2 (7 all-time)
8  Firenze (5 all-time)

7  Keltis: Das Orakel NEW!
One of the Spellenspektakel purchases, bought because Natascha and me have fond memories of Keltis. This version is a bit easier to play, yet also more strategic. Roel joined us and I managed to win with a one point margin. Roel liked it but Natascha not so much.

As I said in the first line: some fatigue.

On Sunday evening we didn’t play any more games and let Netflix take over.
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7. Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:377] [Average Rating:7.36 Unranked]
Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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 9.0   Shards of Infinity x2 (54 all-time)

My friend brought me the Shards of Infinity: Relics of the Future from Essen, and of course we had to try it. I think it's a must-buy if you're fan of the game, the Relics in particular are pretty cool feature that differentiate the faction leaders – they're no longer pretty pictures, but actually different.

 8.0   Imagine (6 all-time)

A bit of a filler for our game night. I got a slow start, but ended up winning as usual – I'm pretty good at this.

 8.0   KeyForge: Call of the Archons x3 (6 all-time)

More KeyForge! I bought a base set. The cardboard tokens are nice, but doing the stun and power tokens as cards instead of tokens is boring, especially if you have to pile up something like five +1 power cards on a creature. Not cool.

The new decks were fine, though, but I'd like to see some more Mars. I only have one deck with Mars so far.

 7.0   Quartermaster General (6 all-time)

I've been pondering about selling this game, but our game last week was a solid experience, so I'm not selling this – but I did end up selling 1914, because I ended up thinking the base game (with Air Marshal, which I haven't still tried!) will do just fine. 1914 complicates things too much. I sold it to a guy in the local group, though, so it's not far.

 6.0   Discover: Lands Unknown (6 all-time)

We're done with this. Not worth buying, but very much something you might want to borrow from a friend or from a library, or try at a board game cafe or something.

ACQUISITIONS

I've been mostly selling things recently (John Company, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Kyoto Protocol, Star Realms, Pandemic Legacy, Pantheon, Puerto Rico, My Little Scythe, Bunny Kingdom, Glass Road - I'm basically getting rid of possibly good, but rarely played games, especially those that are not good at two players), but I did buy the KeyForge, the latest Exit game (Exit: The Game – The Mysterious Museum) and ended up backing Spirit Island: Jagged Earth despite the long delivery time.
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8. Board Game: Getaway Driver [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:2624]
Board Game: Getaway Driver
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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Board Game: Getaway Driver
Board Game: Arraial
Board Game: The Ark of the Covenant
Board Game: 10 Days in Africa
Board Game: Welcome To...
Board Game: Coimbra


 6.0   Getaway Driver x2 NEW!

Finished off my pnp copy from the KS files...Got a few critical rules wrong in my first play with Caleb (in my favor as the police)...and I still barely caught Caleb before he left the city. Second game was played correctly but Caleb wanted to play the police so we switched sides. He caught me fairly easily as I made a very foolish decision to move towards the bottom of the city which was near the edge of the table...which meant it was the edge of the city and tiles were NOT placed and he was able to pin me without too much trouble.

It's an enjoyable two player game where the police player moves each vehicle one space as well as laying down the all the tiles the getaway driver could potentially move on to. Each tile has a red, yellow, or green traffic light on it. The red tiles immediately have a hazard token placed on it and the getaway driver must expend one of his 5 cards that have a matching symbol for a "stunt" to go on it...and any police cars that were following him (on the same tile he moved from) immediately crash and have to be re-purchased (police cars may not move onto tiles with hazard tokens). Yellow tiles are up to the driver whether a hazard token is placed and green tiles are free sailing for everyone. The driver wins if all city tiles have been placed when it is his turn to move. Police win if they successfully tail the driver 3 straight turns or get him trapped so he cannot move. The tiles also contain "money" that the police accumulate to buy better or additional equipment.

From gallery of garry_rice

From gallery of garry_rice


 7.0   Arraial x2 NEW!

Comes the closest to turning Tetris into a competitive game that I've seen thus far. The wheel is an interesting twist and players certainly need to place pieces to give them as much flexibility as possible as the player before them chooses from a selection of cards which tiles will be available to the next player...it can get a bit nasty I played a 2 and 3 player game and I think it probably plays best at two, but I enjoyed it regardless. I am not a big fan of the tiebreaker (reverse turn order), but I assume its there as players do not necessarily get an even number of turns.

 7.0   The Ark of the Covenant (29 all-time)

Caleb wanted to play a couple of older games that we enjoyed quite a bit when he first started playing games. My pasture wound up giving me the win.

 5.0   10 Days in Africa x2 (44 all-time)

Caleb and I split a pair of games. First time ever that I was able to set myself up with only needing to change one card...of course it took about 8 to 9 rounds to get one of the cards that would give me the win...

 8.0   Welcome To... x2 (4 all-time)

Taught this to a group at game night and it was well received...immediately asked to play a second time. Kelly won both games with a score of 87 with the rest of us in the 50s and 60s...

 8.0   Coimbra (2 all-time)

Taught this to the same group at game night and I think it was enjoyed as well. I pursued a monk movement strategy this time but it came up short to Kelly's card synergy as he pipped me by about 8 points.
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9. Board Game: 1822CA [Average Rating:8.37 Overall Rank:6061]
Board Game: 1822CA
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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Board Game: Endeavor: Age of Sail
Board Game: 1822CA


 7   1822CA NEW!
 6.5   Endeavor: Age of Sail


Back to my regular weeks these past few months. 1822CA was interesting, but I found it inferior to 1822. While I think a lot of people will enjoy how different minors and privates come out each game (our game ended with somewhere between 5 and 8 privates unpurchased), I just found it was one more thing to parse. I also didn't care for how the board stayed split even longer than in regular '22. Neither is awful and if I'd never played 22, I'd probably rate 22CA as an 8. As it is, I can't imagine choosing 22CA over 22.

Endeavor: Age of Sail was good. However, after 3 plays, I still think the 2-player game is too loose. Neither of us even got a cannon building all game and the only region we were both in was Europe. We have yet to play with the Silent Fleet variant (and I'm not sure if I'll be able to talk Stella into it or not). I expect that'll add enough interaction to make it more interesting for me. For Stella, just building and running her engine is interaction enough.

Tomorrow is my last lecture for class and the day the term papers are due. Wednesday is their midterm (read: final) exam. After that, it's just grading and presentations, so I'm hoping to have more time to play games (even if it ends up just being a bunch of solo games). I read the rules for Hitler's Reich again this weekend and am planning to do a two-handed playthrough today or tomorrow. Then, depending on how that goes, maybe tackling the solo bot later in the week (or talking my son into playing).
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10. Board Game: 1889: History of Shikoku Railways [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:888]
Board Game: 1889: History of Shikoku Railways
Chris Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.
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His marvels of artifice pale in comparison to the developing machinery of his mind.
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Board Game: 1889: History of Shikoku Railways
Board Game: 18CZ
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
Board Game: Brass: Lancashire
Board Game: Bitskrieg
Board Game: Horse & Musket: Dawn of an Era
Board Game: AuZtralia


 9   1889: History of Shikoku Railways NEW!
The person in last got to choose who won the game. I dumped a trainless company onto them in SR6. During OR6.1, they could have moved a 4T over from their other company (which held 2 x 4T) instead of paying out of pocket. They decided to buy a 6T out of pocket, which tanked their position because we both had to buy a D later in that OR.

That's what I get for kicking a person while he's down.

 8   18CZ NEW!
Want to play this again as I didn't fully realize the importance of the local railways with regards of upgrading the town tiles. Played this with Pam and Jon and they didn't push the trains fast enough. As such, I was able to get two large companies in comfortable positions that couldn't be touched. We finished the game while in phase f. I had wealth and my companies were flush with cash. It was Pam's first time played with a merging mechanic and you could tell she didn't know how to take advantage of the situation.

 7   The Fox in the Forest (11 all-time)

 6   Brass: Lancashire (22 all-time)
Two player game with Jon where he had a massive rail infrastructure and I went all in on ports and mills. The updated map works at two player, but I much prefer playing with three or four. After twenty games in the last three months, I'm starting to tire of this game.

 5   Bitskrieg (4 all-time)
Somehow I keep losing to my daughter. Might have to cheat so she doesn't get used to winning. Four hexes away, yeah, she'll go hail Mary on the range die. Of course the roll is successful. I try to hit her from the neighbouring hex and miss.

 5   Horse & Musket: Dawn of an Era NEW!
Played with too many of the optional rules. It really bogged the game down. I'll probably increase the rating a point or two when we play without them. Still don't know if I want to use line formations or not.

Line formations give bonuses to units depending on the orientation within a hex. Also means that movement points have to utilized to rotate the units, so units may advance slower. The nice thing about this is you can/could potentially flank or attack from the rear for significant DRMs.

 2   AuZtralia NEW!
Some game about Cthulhu terrorizing farms and cattle.

Acquisitions:
Unhappy King Charles! - Paid for the game, but don't get it for two weeks.
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11. Board Game: Beyond the Rhine: The Campaign for Northwest Europe [Average Rating:8.41 Overall Rank:4916]
Board Game: Beyond the Rhine: The Campaign for Northwest Europe, September 1944 - April 1945
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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 9   Beyond the Rhine (8 all-time) -- Just one play this week, with Jeremiah on Wednesday. We played the September 19 turn of Scenario 6.3. In this image, east and Germany is toward the top. The green units are US and the darker blue units are French. The gray, light blue, purple, yellow and black units are various branches of the Axis military (only the gray Wehrmacht and blue Luftwaffe ground units are in this image.)

From gallery of Eric Brosius


My supply situation was better this turn, but I am still suffering from the effects of the first three turns, so mainly I am cautiously moving things that don't require fuel, including my infantry divisions. The Germans have a solid front along the Moselle River from Metz (to the left of this image) to Nancy, and this turn I marched the 35th Infantry Division up to give him something to worry about on his southern flank. I suspected that the hedgehog in 29.11 was thinly held, and Jeremiah confirmed this by releasing reserves to bolster the position. I think that I will not succeed with a bold frontal attack at this point; I need to probe in different areas to force him to commit himself first, since that will create weaker points (though I will have to guess where those weaker points are.)

I've recorded 8 plays of this game so far, probably averaging 4 hours per session. But BGG thinks each play is 50 hours, so Friendless stats is showing me with 400 hours rather than the 32 I've actually played.
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12. Board Game: Reef [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:591]
Board Game: Reef
Larry Rice
United States
North Newton
Kansas
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Wasn't the week of gaming I was expecting, but it was still fun for the most part even if the games were lighter.

Board Game: Carpe Diem
Board Game: Reef
Board Game: Welcome To...
Board Game: 7 Wonders
Board Game: Circus Flohcati
Board Game: Diamant
Board Game: Village Attacks
Board Game: Space Base


 7   Carpe Diem (6 all-time)

Taught this two new players and one of them learned very well and scored higher than I've seen anyone else in any of my games score. Wasn't close. I can't believe I've played this one 6 times already.

 7   Reef x2 (4 all-time)

Went to a game store to game on Saturday and had to pay a couple bucks. Then, we had five when the game two of us wanted to play only played 4. So we set up 7 Wonders to play five and the fifth person disappeared so we reset 7 Wonders to play with four. The fifth player came back near the end and we went back to the discussion of what to play at 5 players when a group near us finished. I thought this would be a great chance to split up so we could play the desired 4 player game but no one else wanted to join the Reef game so I jumped over to play Reef when the group started talking playing Age of Empires or whatever its called now (Glen Drover game). I taught Reef and won both times and had a great time with the three new friends made.

 7   Welcome To... (9 all-time)

Taught this well to the same group as Reef and showed them exactly what not to do as I finished dead last.

 6   7 Wonders (64 all-time)

I am looking forward to trying the Armada expansion when it arrives in the US. I know this one is older, but I still find myself enjoying it when I play.

 6   Circus Flohcati x2 (63 all-time)

Quick filler played twice when we had 15 minutes before people needed to leave. Both games ended with a grand parade but only one person who did so won their game they ended that way.

 6   Diamant x3 (63 all-time)

My resident assistants wanted to play a game. I hadn't realized how much they wanted to play a game as we walked back in the game room they were all excited to be back in the room again. Since there were 7 of us, I pulled out this one and we had a blast playing.

 5   Village Attacks x2 NEW!

Played the first two learning scenarios on Monday night and split. Thinking this won't be a keeper but will play another full game scenario most likely tonight to get a good feel for whether its something we want to play more. I didn't care for the low variety of player characters available. Tower defense where the situation gets out of hand fast if you can't keep up and you are rolling dice which you use to suss out your actions/turn. Honestly, not a huge fan of the theme either since the players are monsters protecting their home from rampaging villagers (and apparently us monsters like to build our homes where villagers get advantages attacking us in certain rooms or we get hurt if we move in - huh?)

 N/A   Space Base NEW!

I enjoyed this take on the Machi Koro system. Makes for a much better game! That being said, I went for the game win card condition and failed miserably so I finished with only 1 point.

ACQUISITIONS:

Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog (Kickstarter arrived)
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13. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.25 Overall Rank:11] [Average Rating:8.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Scythe
Adam Deverell
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
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Board Game: Scythe
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Board Game: Fearsome Floors
Board Game: Pax Renaissance


A week long toothache that resulted in a root canal saw me battle through a couple of games, with the help of pain relief.

 10   Scythe

Hooray! A return to Scythe after a couple of months away. My wife is wary of it now as she claims I'm too aggressive. No combat at all in this three player (first time ever) and as a result my wife won by 10 points with the Russki faction. She had loads of resources. I had the Agricultural board - not really one of my favourites.

 6   Century: Spice Road

I never win this, but I did this time. Five player, and as per usual I went with the cheap purchases. This rarely works, but I had a good combo of cards. The funny thing about this game is the kids and I talk and sing and tease through the entire game. I think Queen was sung quite a bit (we'd just seen the movie).

 7   Fearsome Floors

My son missed this during Halloween, but it doesn't really work as well two player.

 10   Pax Renaissance

Things are heating up in the west! I have the ear of France but lack the money to do anything with it.
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14. Board Game: Boomerang [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:3375]
Board Game: Boomerang
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Comments coming

Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Board Game: Decrypto
Board Game: Deadwood 1876
Board Game: Boomerang
Board Game: Between Two Cities
Board Game: Oh Hell!
Board Game: NMBR 9
Board Game: Maskmen
Board Game: Gizmos
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
Board Game: Dominion
Board Game: Brass Empire
Board Game: BANG!


9  Vast: The Crystal Caverns x2 (9 all-time)
8  Decrypto x3 (8 all-time)
N/A  Deadwood 1876 x2 NEW!
N/A  Boomerang x2 (6 all-time)
8  Between Two Cities (15 all-time)
8  Oh Hell! (44 all-time)
9  NMBR 9 x2 (30 all-time)
9  Maskmen (30 all-time)
N/A  Gizmos (5 all-time)
8  The Fox in the Forest (6 all-time)
10  Dominion x3 (47 all-time)
7  Brass Empire (8 all-time)
7  BANG! (15 all-time)
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15. Board Game: Underwater Cities [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:50]
Board Game: Underwater Cities
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Last weekend was BGG.Con! All games played were new, so I'll just run down my thoughts in the order I played the games.

From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Carpe Diem (new!) - Carpe Diem is a tile-laying game where players move their pawn around a 7-pointed star to draft tiles to place on their board. The tiles depict parts of buildings or fields, which provide bonuses when completed. At the end of each round, players place a scoring disc between two scoring cards in a grid, and either score those cards or lose victory points. These spots are then occupied, which makes scoring round turn order very important. That’s okay though—you can influence this turn order through tile completion. I found this game to be a nice mix between relaxing Carcassonne-style tile completion and tense trying to get the tiles you need. It can get a touch mean at the end, but on the whole it’s enjoyable.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Fuji (new!) - Fuji is a cooperative dice-rolling game in which players are trying to escape from the erupting volcano to the safety of the town. Terrain tiles are laid out according to a scenario set-up. Players can move their pawns between 0-3 tiles, but whichever tile they choose to move to, they must have the best die roll at the table for the dice that count for that tile. For example, to move to a tile that says 4/Blue, the total pips on the player’s 4-pip dice and blue dice must exceed each other player’s pip total on those dice. While I’m not generally a fan of cooperative games, the concept of this game just felt so novel that I always was pretty engaged.


From gallery of Phrim
_6_ Civilization: A New Dawn (new!) - Civilization: A New Dawn is a new civilization game that revolves around five action cards that are in your tableau. Cards in slot 5 work the best and cards in slot 1 work the worst, but any card once used goes to the 1-slot, sliding everything else up. These cards can be upgraded via technology advancement. Board play is pretty streamlined, with only city tokens and influence markers on the board. Of course, attacking other players is still a thing, and you just need to be in range and use whatever your attack action card is. While I enjoyed the streamlined gameplay and the action card system, I thought the game really bogged down in the end as players would just spend turns trying to stop the leader from winning.


From gallery of Phrim
_6_ Valparaíso (new!) - Valparaiso is a action-programming game where you decide the order of your action cards secretly in the beginning of the turn. You can move your pawns to the villages and make use of trading tiles to get resources or turn them into points. You can also erect tollbooths to annoy players trying to get to the villages. The resources can also be loaded up into the boats to go get more action cards. I was a little disappointed in the programming aspect because it just seemed too easy—players would rarely find themselves in a bind, and even if they did the game provided a way to switch the order for a couple of bucks. I was also a little annoyed by the ability of other players to use up the trading tiles you were aiming for. Not a horrible game, but this one didn’t have a lot to speak for it.


From gallery of Phrim
_8_ Underwater Cities (new!) - Underwater Cities is card-combo worker placement game. Players can place their workers on one of a number of different placement spots, which have a benefit and a color. They take the benefit and then can play a card from their hand of that color. Players are building up cities on their own player boards, with associated production discs to generate resources. Cards can be one-shot, provide an ongoing bonus, or give you an action that can be used in conjunction with certain placement spots. While the game is definitely very busy, lovers of card combo games will certainly appreciate this one. My only complaint is that I wish there was some way to draft the cards instead of just getting luck of the draw. Great game, though.


From gallery of Phrim
_8_ Newton (new!) - In Newton, players play action cards that increase in value for the number of that action card symbol played. At the end of each round, players tuck one of their action cards to provide that symbol for future actions. The actions are fairly disparate and take place on a number of different boards, but they are all tied together. Despite the interconnectivity, time is very short in the game and you don’t have time to do everything. You will need to do some of each thing to meet requirements and scoring thresholds for other parts of the game, but the game does encourage specialization with the saving of action card symbols. I thought this really provided for an interesting balance of trying to meet all of your needs. I enjoyed this quite a bit.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Space Base (new!) - Space Base is a refinement of the dice rolling system of Machi Koro—the active player rolls the dice, and everyone might get something depending on which cards they’ve built. Here, players are building ships that go in slots 1-12 on their player boards, corresponding with possible dice rolls. When bought, cards go to the active section, which corresponds with what you roll when you’re the active player. Any card already in that slot gets kicked to the opposing player section, which triggers when another player rolls that value. Many of the cards provide income or points, but there are a number of cards that provide more complicated abilities for manipulating dice rolls or which slots cards go in. I enjoyed this one more than Machi Koro, if for no other reason that there’s a lot less take-that. Still, it’s just a light card game that can be prone to the right cards not being available at the right times or dice rolls not going your way. Enjoyable, but don’t take it seriously.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Magnastorm (new!) - Magnastorm has an interesting action selection mechanism where you take a pawn from the top half of the board and move it to the bottom half. The row in which you place the pawn determines what you get, but taking it out of a given column makes the associated admin leader easier to take. Actions generally let you move your rover around the map board and drop turtle stations, advancing you on four science tracks and possibly getting you income and majority points. Science leaders are claimed by the player highest on the associated track, and taking any leader (admin or science) gets you two points plus a special ability. There’s also a storm that rotates around the board shutting down certain regions, so players are constantly trying to move their rover away. There were a lot of newish and interesting ideas in this game, making it feel pretty different. I enjoyed this, but the game didn’t really hook me.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Reykholt (new!) - In Reykholt, players obtain greenhouses and vegetables, plant the vegetables in the greenhouses filling the rest of the spots from supply, and then harvest one each turn—a lot like Rosenberg’s previous game At the Gates of Loyang. This game, however, is a worker placement game where you do those things via placing 3 workers each turn. At the end of each round, players move up the score track as much as possible by turning in increasing values and quantities of vegetables. You also get one freebie move each turn where you actually get the listed vegetables instead of paying them. I enjoyed this as a shorter and very much streamlined version of Loyang. However, I thought there wasn’t enough scoring granularity—it’s really easy to tie, and ties are broken by a fairly arbitrary “get there last” mechanic. Still, a fun puzzle.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Prehistory (new!) - In Prehistory, players take six different actions—painting caves, gathering fruit, hunting, fishing, putting guys on the map board, and taking end-game bonus cards—using 6 different cubes in two styles of action rounds. In the Spring rounds, players pay resource cubes according to wheels associated with each action. In the Summer rounds, players pay action cubes that correspond with the colors of the actions. All of these actions score in different ways, from point income to set collection to majorities on the map board. This game falls squarely in the “everything and the kitchen sink” school of game design, and while I could grok everything after a few rounds, there is really a lot going on. The game has a lot of interesting ideas, but could use some streamlining or maybe splitting the ideas into separate games. I had fun, but this one is a lot to wrap you mind around.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Castell (new!) - Castell is a game about competing in acrobatics festivals in the Catalonia region of Spain. Players compete to build the most impressive towers of humans according to the rules of the region they’re in. While there are certain base rules for building these towers, you can train your skills to break these rules in various ways. Scoring only happens in one or two regions each turn, so you have to move your pawn around the board to make sure you can participate. There’s also special scoring tiles that aren’t associated with turns, but provide a prescribed, often difficult, tower-building challenge that could only be claimed by one player. This game was fun and moved quickly. I do think it’s better at higher player counts, as there’s more competition in the festivals. I also wish there was a little more variation in what you could do with the acrobats. This is definitely a solid entry in the “put-on-a-show” genre, though.


From gallery of Phrim
_6_ Futuropia (new!) - In Futuropia, players are competing to build their own self-contained post-scarcity community in which as few people work as possible. The game works via five action tiles which flip over when used, and can be flipped back either when all five are flipped, or before that at a cost. These actions let you build machines that produce food and energy, get more people and living space, or get robots to free up people not to work. The machines definitely had a Factory Manager feel to them, and there was a little bit of taking things making better things available for other people. The action sequence itself felt a little scripted—it was always pretty obvious which action to take, the only difference was which tile to buy. Also, the end game is very mathy—it takes a lot of think to optimize end-game score. So it was easier until it wasn’t. Not sure I like that.


From gallery of Phrim
_6_ Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra (new!) - Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is a stand-alone sequel to Azul that uses the same tile drafting mechanism. Players take all of one color tile from a lot and push the rest into the middle, which becomes its own huge lot. The tile placement mechanism is different, though—you move your pawn down a series of columns and place in that column, with columns on the left being worth more. On the whole, I feel like this system is more forgiving, though it’s still possible to take big penalties. I thought the original was more strategic and interesting.


From gallery of Phrim
_8_ Smartphone Inc. (new!) - Smartphone Inc is an economic game about producing and pricing smartphones to sell in various markets. Which actions you can take in a turn is determined by players’ secret arrangement of two 3x2 tiles with various symbols that need to overlap and display action symbols. You can also acquire 1x2 tiles that can be placed on top of these tiles to give you more or better actions. Through these tiles, players can increase or decrease the price of their smartphones for that round, with cheaper smartphones selling for less, but also going earlier in the turn order and possibly cutting later players out of demand spots. The game flowed very smoothly and everything seemed pretty intuitive. You don’t see too many economic games with pricing as a big component, and I was definitely a fan of this one.


From gallery of Phrim
_6_ Ceylon (new!) - In Ceylon, player are competing to build successful tea plantations on the eponymous island. The main mechanic in this game is the action cards, which all have tops and bottoms depicting different actions. Players choose which of those to execute themselves, and their opponents all get to either take the other action or a minor money boost or movement. The game has majorities with plantation placement in each of the four board regions, contract fulfillment where you turn in tea cubes, and set collection for contracts from different companies. There’s also a technology track that gives you free actions for moving up with, which also scores independently and serves as the tiebreaker, which is hugely important in the end-game. This was a bit unsatisfying, as it’s very easy for players to be clumped in the same spot, and ties on that track are broken in a fairly arbitrary “got there last” manner. While everything seemed to fit together fairly well, I just didn’t feel very enthused by this game.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Catan Histories: Rise of the Inkas (new!) - Catan Histories: Rise of the Inkas is a stand-alone Settlers variant that is supposed to depict multiple eras of the Inca empire. When you build your fourth point worth of buildings, your empire goes into decline—all of your roads are removed, and green vines are placed over your existing buildings. Then, you place a new settlement somewhere else. Players still produce off of their vine-covered buildings, but those can be replaced by anyone else building in that spot. The Largest Army card and Longest Road card provide special abilities instead of points, with the former letting you kick the robber out and get a resource, and the latter giving you a free 1:1 trade each turn. There are also 3 other goods available on the edge of the map that aren’t used for anything but can be traded 2:1. My main complaint about this game was a component one—the plastic settlements and cities look very similar, particularly when covered in vines. Aside from that, I think this is a fine Settlers game.


From gallery of Phrim
_8_ That's Pretty Clever! (new!) - Ganz Schön Clever is a roll-and-write game in which players claim colored dice to mark off the appropriate boxes on their chart. The active player rolls all six dice, claims one, and then can re-roll all dice except those with fewer pips. Three dice can be claimed this way, and any dice that aren’t re-rolled because they were too low can be claimed by all of the opponents. The boxes on the chart have a variety of different scoring or requirement mechanisms, and many of them have bonuses associated with them—including extra re-rolls, die claims, or even free box checks. Late in the game, this can even cause chain reactions of scoring, which can feel really good when it happens. I was really impressed by this game. It’s rare that a filler-weight game makes such an impression on me, but all of the different box checking mechanisms along with the chain scoring just worked so well and felt so good. This one is a real gem.
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