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GCL Amoeba 416 – Casting the pods (2019-03-13)
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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mb ABOUT GCL mb ABOUT THE AMOEBAE mb SUBSCRIBE mb

Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

If you found us randomly (via subscription, perhaps), you're welcome to join in with constructive conversation -- we're friendly symbiotes in real life, though vicious competitors at the game table. (Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most dangerous predator on earth!) Read the links above for more info. (If you're shy, just thumb the list so we can see who's stalking us :-) )

Doug (phrim)mb
Adam (red_gamster)
Eric (Eric Brosius)
Garry (garry_rice)
Larry (larryjrice)
Jimmy (Butterfly0038)
Jeroen (jmdsplotter)
Jérôme (Tsaar)
Scott (qzhdad)
Chris (Venser)
Carlos (Sprocket314)
Joshua (Joshuaaaaaa)
Mikko (msaari)

Let's talk about podcasts this week.
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1. Board Game: Pod People from Another Planet! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Do you listen to board game podcasts? If you do, which are your favourites? If you don't, why not?
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2. Board Game: Escape Pod [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Do you listen to podcasts that are not about games? Tell us some of your favourites!
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3. Board Game: Pod-X [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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What makes a good podcast? What's annoying in podcasts?
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4. Board Game: New Frontiers [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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Didn't get in as much gaming as hoped but what I did get played I quite enjoyed.



 10   Race for the Galaxy x10 (984 all-time)

yada yada yada

 9   Chicago Express (11 all-time)

I played much better this time and won thanks to a winning bid on the Erie and being able to extend it far without much interference. I should have gone west right away instead of dinking around in the east but in the end, it did not matter.

 9   New Frontiers x2 NEW!

Enjoying this blend of Puerto Rico and Race for the Galaxy. Looking forward to explore this one a bit more.

 8   Locomotive Werks (8 all-time)

Hadn't played this one in years and it was great to get back to the table again. Everyone else was new in our four player game and I felt new since it had been 5-6 years. At first, timing felt off for me but it worked out fine in the end as I finally got the timing/turn order to work more in my favor late game.

 7   Roll Player (18 all-time)

Fun dice puzzle I'm almost always happy to play. A bit lower scoring than normal this time as the market cards didn't turn up as many point scoring cards.

 7   Scorpius Freighter (2 all-time)

I do think this one is a bit clever. Whether it has legs remains to be seen. The three rondels and the crew move/action mechanic is clever.

ACQUISITIONS:

New Frontiers
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5. Board Game: WordPress the Card Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Last week I was planning to skip our weekly gamenight in order to play in a KeyForge sealed tournament. Unfortunately that didn't work out, I had to skip that as well. In the end of the week, I went to WordCamp Nordic, a conference for WordPress users. That was pretty cool, and I organized a small board game meetup on the night before the conference.

 9.0   The Mind x2 (52 all-time)

Couple of two-player games at WordCamp. We were pretty well in sync, both times managing to reach level 8.

 8.0   Magic: The Gathering x9 (109 all-time)

The new cards keep on inspiring play. My "Five Games for Doomsday" list has now changed: Magic: the Gathering, with a big enough crate of random cards, is definitely on the list. It's just so good.

My short-term plan is to get my cards sorted out. They're now all sorted by color, but I want them sorted by color, then by type, then alphabetically. I've got red, black and blue covered, so greens, whites, artifacts and lands to go. I'm also entering the cards to Deckbox to get some idea of the more valuable cards in the collection (since I have zero idea).

 8.0   No Thanks! (37 all-time)

WordCamp. This still works great.

 8.0   Qwixx x2 (33 all-time)

WordCamp filler for two players, while waiting for more players.

 8.0   Spyfall (9 all-time)

Couple of rounds at WordCamp, but we had to move on to other games because my copy is Nordic and one of the players wasn't. But the guys who tried this really got into this from round one.

 7.0   Dragon Dance (6 all-time)

This game of stacking coasters fits in at the bar environment.

 7.0   Who Did It? (7 all-time)

At WordCamp, something for five players – and this delivered. I managed to win with zero turds taken. This is a rather delightful little filler.

 6.0   WordPress the Card Game x2 (5 all-time)

This was the main course at WordCamp, we played this twice and the same guy won both games. Looks like he's in the right business

TRADES

I've been mostly selling games. I sold Hero Realms, my son didn't miss it a bit. We've got Magic, KeyForge and Shards of Infinity; Hero Realms is just inferior to all three.

I'm still some way from my goal of 200 games: the current count (sans expansions) is 229 I think.

I got some coin capsules for Altiplano. It sure is lot of work putting all the chips in the capsules, but I think it's a clear improvement – picking up the chips from the bag should be more pleasant.
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6. Board Game: Duel of the Giants: Eastern Front [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jérôme
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Some of my favorites got played and got me thinking: why don’t I play these games more often?



4  Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 NEW!
4  Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 NEW!
4  Wing Leader: Blitz 1939-1942 NEW!
Tuesday evening at Jeroen’s. We played Wing Leader and since it was a mixture of all three boxes, it looks like we played three times. I don’t think we ever will. Despite the huge board all planes were crammed in a single square and the game consisted mostly of checking tables for modifiers before and after rolling dice, then rolling dice again and checking other tables. To me it was a boring game and I cared less and less whether my dice rolls were bad or worse, and even forgot to glare at the occasional successful hit. When all planes but one were disrupted and all we could was fly off the board, we called it.
I joked afterward that Jeroen mistimed this game: he should have played Wing Leader with Michael and Newton with me

7  Breitseite NEW!
Fortunately the evening was saved by this super fun dexterity game. We built two clunky boats opposite each other, side by side. Then we start hammering a piece of wood from one’s own boat toward the other, trying to hit it and make some pieces shift. After doing this on and on, turn after turn, one boat will collapse and lose the game.
I don’t think that there’s enough precision to ever become good at it but you can aim a little bit and most importantly, you can try not to touch your own boat when you hammer the cannon. Really nice game!

Not long before Jeroen’s boat was destroyed...



10  The Voyages of Marco Polo (10 all-time)
Jacco’s second time, Natascha and me played it for the tenth time!
I got the dude with the extra die and Jacco didn’t have to pay for anything extra, while Natascha ploughing her way through the deck with secret pathways. I got lucky several times with perfect dice or just that bonus gift (another mini expansion) that I needed and ran away with over 100 points. Jacco managed to get a lot of bonuses from Venice and I expected that he had more points, but he screwed up his journey around the board, for which Natascha and me both received 24 points. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to build my final two houses but I dare say that I get better at every play. Next time we will give more options to choose a character, avoiding repetition.
I raised the rating to 10 because I love almost everything in this game.

7  Terraforming Mars (2 all-time)
When visiting Bart and Marriët we played Terraforming Mars at my request. My first experience with that game was pretty bad and I thought it’s probably better than my initial rating. Fortunately it is. We drafted the cards and I was looking for the energy-symbol because I could build them with a discount of 3 moneys.
Early in the game I was able to transfer energy into victory points (which is also income) and my machine was running. Bart tried to throw a wrench into it and he scored heavily on his tableau (24 vs 2 VP) but my final attempts to build cities on Mars were enough for a narrow win.
I think Terraforming Mars is a nice game, but not great. It seems a very expanded version of Race for the Galaxy, with a board. If it didn’t take so long to play I’d like it more. Also the graphics look quite amateurish, a mishmash of styles and pseudo futuristic ornaments. Almost as ugly as Gaia Project.

9  Rajas of the Ganges (5 all-time)
Finally Natascha caved in and wanted to learn a new game. She enjoyed it and we’ll play again this week when Jacco comes along. I’m happy about that because I really like Rajas. Actually so much that I went all the way and bought the last mini expansion to complete the set.

6  Duel of the Giants: Eastern Front NEW!
Last year Friedemann DePedro sent his second game to me and I’ve been looking forward to play, but had to wait until the board was de-warped. Michael had some spare time and we gave it a try. I wish I had prepared better because we literally opened the rule book and started at page 1, setting up the board.
When we started playing I thought that my aim was to destroy both German tanks as often as possible, until it became clear that I should try and race off the board.
Aha. That was a game changer.
At that moment we called it and I hope to play it again at least once more, knowing what to do.
My first impressions aren’t very good though. In Duel in the Dark the scale of the game is so vast that it doesn’t bother me that no plane gets actually shot, but this abstraction feels somewhat off in Duel of the Giants. If I play with a model of a tank I want to do what I’ve learnt almost 30 years ago, when I was an actual tank commander. But that’s not possible.
I’ve promised to Friedemann that I would upload some pictures and that’s another good reason to play it again. Michael, want to give it another try?

7  The City (18 all-time)
Michael and me spent the final quarter with the German edition of The City, which he didn’t know yet. After seven turns I passed 50 points, snowballing to the end.
Really fun game and I decided to be happy with this version and not kickstart the new one.

8  Carnac (11 all-time)
Natascha wanted revenge and I was able get an early lead and defend that successfully. It’s hard to get back in Carnac once you’re behind. We have to learn some tricks I guess.

10  Viticulture Essential Edition (36 all-time)
Jeroen came by and at Natascha’s request we played Viticulture, including Tuscany and using the Visit form Rhine Valley decks.
We’ve played this so many times and still I made a major mistake in the second year, which on hindsight has cost me the game. Still, what I like,so much about Viticulture is that there’s always new opportunistic ways to score. Unless not a single card you draw helps. Which happened.
Jeroen won 28-25-24 iirc.

It was a good weeek!
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7. Board Game: Rajas of the Ganges [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Adam Deverell
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
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My daugher has her Learner licence (aged 16) so she's been driving everywhere. I'll give her another month and I can start reading games rules during car journeys.

 7   Werewords Deluxe Edition x7

Played with lots of players, had fun. Still has legs, but some of us are getting a bit tired of it.

 9   The Resistance: Avalon

Back to Avalon with a ten player game. Goodies came out and won, and we couldn't pick Merlin. The baddies were 2-0 up too, however there was a chain of four good guys in a row.

 9   Rajas of the Ganges

Terra Mystica was put up for play in our Saturday night meet up, so I jumped on whatever the alternative was. Luckily it is the wonderful Ganges, a game I haven't played in a while. It was fast and furious. I was lucky to finish the game and win when I could, as two of other other players would have passed me easily with their coin engines if we'd gone another turn.

 7   Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62

Playing solo v a Python Program bot some awesome BGG user has designed. It makes playing solo a realistic proposition as it does the leg work for you. I'm exploring strategies. This game is one that plays like a puzzle. You really need to put in the hard yards to understand the strategy. I'm hoping the rating rises as a result. It's close at the moment, but the FLN Algerians are now moving against my cities.

 6   Agricola

I've now almost given up hope Aidan will be a wargamer. He takes after his mum, a pure euro gamer. We played the family version and he won by a point! He went the farm animal strategy, and killed it. My wife came second. I scored a miserable 14 points after getting shut out of fences. I'm eyeing off some Ameritrash and wargames to sell, but still living in hope he'll just love Command & Colors.

 6   Bubble Talk

Up to my parent's farm and played this fun, Apples to Apples with pics and captions game. It'd be really funny with photos of the family. I won again in a six player game. It's probably my background as a copywriter.
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8. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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Very little gaming this past week as I or my wife was sick much of the week leaving little time or desire to game

Did get in a game of Flash Point: Fire Rescue where we added a basement to a custom board available on BGG and played with the cards instead of the hotspots (the best way to play in our opinion ). We handled it pretty well and won relatively easily.

Also played a quick game of Illusion which Caleb won as I made poor choice after poor choice after getting off to a strong start
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9. Board Game: 1822CA [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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10  Saint Petersburg x2 (259 all-time, including plays with the expansion) -- On Monday night last week we were waiting for one last person to show up, so we played a speed game of Saint Petersburg while we waited. When you play a speed game with Joe Huber, it really moves along! It took us about 20 or 25 minutes with 4 players. I think a few of the players may have had wind burn after we finished!

Last night we played another game at the end of the evening. This game was played at a slightly more sedate pace (to be fair, Joe wasn't there last night.) It was quite a thriller. Michael got an Observatory and used it to collect nobles, but he trailed on the score track all through the game. At the end of the game, he scored for 9 different nobles, and I scored for only 7, and that brought us to the exact same spot on the score track (after reflecting VP for money.) Michael won on the tie breaker.

7  18EU (24 all-time) -- The second game we played on Monday last week was this 18xx title, which we've played quite a few times on Monday nights. We used the "special powers" variant, and this time Joe Huber got the low-valued powers and as a result was able to get the better minors. It didn't work when I tried it, but Joe did a better job and won with about 7000. Michael and John Joe Rushanan and Dan were very close at about 6000, and I trailed with 5600. I haven't been all that successful with this title after two dozen plays, but I enjoy it.

10  Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm x2 (654 all-time, including all of the expansions) -- To wrap up the evening we played a pair of games of Race for the Galaxy using the French version, which Joe Rushanan owns.

8  1822CA (8 all-time) -- On Friday we tried another playtest of the Eastern Regional Scenario using some tweaks released by the designer. We played at Michael's house, and used his copy of the game, but I brought my stock market price tokens for the minors, which I had augmented by putting the minor company numbers on the reverse side in an outline font. This meant that even after a minor company ran and its token moved on the price chart, you could still see what company it was. John launched the GWR early, took a loan to buy a 3-train for one of his minors, and won a nice victory on the strength of much better stock holdings than the rest of us.

10  1846: The Race for the Midwest (234 all-time) -- Last night Brett sent out an e-mail saying that he was pining for a play of this favorite (of his and mine,) which he hadn't played for some time. I was pining a bit too -- I hadn't played it all month! We discarded the Tunnel Blasting and Michigan Central privates and the PRR. I went light in the initial auction, taking nothing but the C&WI. After the private company draft, we had the following:

Brett: Lake Shore, O&I, Mail, $240
John: Meat Packing, Big 4, $240
Eric: C&WI, $340
Michael: Michigan Southern, Steamboat, $220

Brett announced before we started SR 1 that he was going to make a big mistake. Then he launched the NYC at a price of $40/share! My opponents were worried that I might take over a company they launched with my massive bankroll, and he reasoned that the NYC was the best company for him and if he launched at $40 he could buy enough shares to keep me from taking it away from him. John passed to see how I would spend my money. With a guaranteed station in Chicago from the C&WI, I chose the IC as my starting corporation, but what price should I start at? I thought about the fact that Michael would probably start the B&O at $70, and that he would make a lot of money early, and I earmarked $140 of my $340 in my mind to purchase two B&O shares, leaving me with $200 to spend on IC shares. After some thought I decided to start the IC at $100/share, buying just the President certificate. Michael then launched the B&O at $70 as expected. Brett bought his way up to 6 shares of the NYC, John launched the Erie, I bought two shares of B&O (making Michael grumble) and we started the ORs.

I bought in the C&WI in OR 1.1 and built east, but in OR 1.2 my initial run was only $8/share, not enough to even move one spot on the stock market. But I did still have 8 shares in treasury, so that was a plus.

In SR 2, Brett had a boatload of money and went after the IC, forcing me to sell a B&O share in order to defend it, and Brett sold the IC and scooped the B&O share up. This forced the IC's price down, but allowed it to buy back up to 7 shares in treasury for OR 2.1 and 2.2.

We were playing at Geoff's, and Geoff's cat was giving Brett huge allergy problems, so we stopped after three pairs of ORs. We knew that the scores at that point weren't representative of what the final scores would be, but amusingly, Michael was in the lead, with Brett just $9 behind him and me $1 behind Brett. We then played the game of Saint Petersburg that I described above.
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10. Board Game: Triumph & Tragedy [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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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 9   Antiquity (12 all-time)
Four player game where two players spent all their wood in the first turn. The third player graved themselves out and I had free reign. Lasted a couple of turns before everyone resigned.

 9   Twilight Struggle (98 all-time)
Won at the end of turn nine when my opponent held onto a scoring card. It was clear that unless a miracle happened, I was winning at the end of turn ten. Instead they kept trying to change the tides on the map and instead of playing out another full turn, just ended the misery.

 8   Age of Steam (23 all-time)
After the recent brouhaha dusting up with Wallace and Bohrer again, decided to pull this off the shelf. Played the two player St. Lucia map at the end of the night. Thought my beginning engine could take me to the end, but Jon pulled off a late game comeback to win by two points.

 8   Medici (14 all-time)
I love how the coin card throws everyone's math into a tail spin. It's always fun seeing how others value the large influx of boat points relative to moving up a position on one of the scoring tracks. I definitely overbid when Pam turned up three value "5" cards.

 8   Rolling Stock x2 (13 all-time)
These don't count. I had two games on autopass because of inactivity. Somehow, after ten months, they both finished in the same week. Couldn't tell you anything that transpired and I don't care to read the logs. That's my main problem with playing anything online, is the latency of same games is glacial. Was debating if I should even log the games, but the first eight or nine rounds were smooth.

 8   The Fox in the Forest x2 (20 all-time)
Soon enough this game is going to increase my H-index to 24.

 7   Blokus Duo (66 all-time)
Jon bought a copy of this game and his version sucks. The pieces don't fit together, so one always wants to overlap the other. It's really annoying. He's going to file them down.

 3   7 Wonders (23 all-time)
Jon is adamant to try every expansion once before getting rid of the game. This time we included the tower of Babylon and I didn't like it. There comes a point when there are too many decisions to make, and it adds to much randomness to an already random game.

 N/A   Triumph & Tragedy NEW!
Our first time playing and we made it through four years to 1940. This game needs to be pulled out again, and soon. Pretty sure this is a tentative nine, that could move up to a ten. Liked everything I saw so far. Playing time will be the only thing that restricts this seeing the table more often.

Departures:
Ivanhoe
Stephenson's Rocket

Didn't even play SR. Read the rules and decided I'd rather play Chicago Express, American Rails, or German Railways instead. How vetoes worked seemed interesting but not enough that made me want to keep the game. Jon still has his copy so we'll eventually play it anyways.
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11. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Only had a chance to play a single game at home this week.

_8_ The 7th Continent - This was the beginning of our fourth run of the Voracious Goddess. Now that we were given the relative coordinates of the statues "eyes", our goal this time was to map out the early parts of the continent and connect that to the map of the Wastes that I created at the end of the last run so that we could pinpoint the exact grid coordinates. However, I chose the botanist character and got a little carried away with her special abilities. I got a card right away that helped with decipher abilities, so I ended up spending a lot of time and effort getting 050 cards, including repeatedly fetching cards that granted 050 cards from the discard pile. I ended up with 3 different plants and 3 musical scores, one of which I was able to perform. However, none of this ended up being useful, so aside from getting a better feel for how things work, it was a bit of a waste of time. We did really well on hunting this time though, and made sure to have stuff to make fire. However, we got stuck at the cliff, fell off once, and hunted around for more star cards for a while before finally making it up. Once we did, we quickly located the bridge to the Waste, matched up our maps, and plotted where the Eyes should be. It was getting pretty late at that point, so we saved the rest for later.
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