GCL Mafia 426: $500 Challenge (Revised Edition)
Philip Newman
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Plano
Texas
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

Important Links:
GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread (links to past lists, subscribe for weekly notifications)
GameChat League Wiki (for general information about the GameChat League concept)
GCL Mafia Wiki (for specific information about this division)
Thesp's GCL Games Played Tool (an easy-to-use tool for collating your plays for the week)

GCL Mafia Members:
• Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week.
• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
• Also, feel free to share gaming news, life updates, random thoughts, or anything else you deem appropriate.

GCL Mafia Geeklist Format:
• Each week, one or more questions will be posted. They can be gaming-related topics or non-gaming-related topics. Themed questions are optional. Gifs are always encouraged.
• Members can post additional items as they see fit.
• Please refrain from adding items if you are not part of the current roster.

Current Roster:
fdubois
charlest
tallgrant
annowme
mith
Dolus
ecargo
Epsilon_Balls
captainraffi
touchstonethefool
cferejohn
jshufelt
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Thesp
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1. Board Game: 500 [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:3351]
Board Game: 500
Philip Newman
United States
Plano
Texas
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A while back, I ran the GCL Mafia $500 Collection Challenge. Our roster has changed a lot since then, so I thought it would be interesting to do it again, but a bit more streamlined.

Rules

You are creating a game collection from scratch, with a budget of $500. You will only be allowed to play these games for the next 5 years. Insert your own ridiculous justification for why this is the case (probably aliens again).

This time, there are a couple limitations. First, you are restricted to highly rated (by BGG) games - either by Geek Rating or by Number of Voters. I have put together a list of 150 games, which includes every game in the top 100 on BGG by either of those metrics. (I went a little past 100 in both cases to get a nice round number, both because of overlap between the two lists and because of revisions, stand-alone expansions, and sequels.)

You are allowed one off-list item. However, unlike last time, you may not purchase a generic "system" for the purpose of playing multiple games. A $5 deck of cards will not get you a billion different card games, for example. You also may not purchase a game with the intent of playing some other game (Chess will not get you Arimaa this time, though you can buy both as Arimaa could be your off-list item and Chess is on the list). Assume that as soon as you purchase your collection, [plot device] will wipe your memory of all game rules and you will only be able to play the games given in the rule books of your collection. (You may also assume, however, that the rule book is not terrible, and you can figure out how to actually play the game.)

You may purchase something like Pyramid Arcade or Mü & More (as the first examples I came up with), which include the rules for multiple games in the box. If you aren't sure if something is ok as an off-list item, ask.

The off-list item does not have to be its own game - perhaps you want poker chips to replace money, or perhaps you feel the Gloomhaven insert is necessary for your sanity (guess what I've been putting together the past few days...).

For games with multiple versions, or "required" expansions, you will have the option to purchase your preferred configuration. For example, you may choose either the original edition of Agricola or the revised edition; you may choose Race for the Galaxy on its own, or with one or more expansions. Regardless of configuration, you will pay tax-free and shipping-free MSRP for anything you buy.

I will add MSRP for each game on the list later today, to make it easier for everyone. For games that are Kickstarter only, I will come up with a number as best I can, and if you want to argue about it feel free.

If you want to participate, please submit your list by geekmail by Friday. I will post all the collections, and then everyone can vote on their favorites and also guess who submitted each. You can vote/guess without submitting a collection.

List (now with prices) in the first comment below.

Quote:
Collections, in order of fewest items (bundling expansions with the base game) and then most expensive item. Two of these will be really really easy to guess, even though I modified one of them to use up the budget. (Honestly, most of them are probably easy to guess.)

If you'd like to vote and/or guess, do so by geekmail. For voting, send an ordered list of collections (ties are allowed), like this:

1>2>3>4=5=6>7>8=9

Collection 1
120 *Millennium Blades + Set Rotation Expansion
110 Cosmic Encounter + Cosmic Eons + Cosmic Incursion
100 Lisboa
80 Spirit Island
60 Five Tribes
30 Santorini

Collection 2
110 Race for the Galaxy + The Gathering Storm + Rebel vs Imperium + Alien Artifacts
45 Puerto Rico
60 Keyflower
44 The Resistance + Hidden Agenda + Hostile Intent
71 Carcassonne + Inns & Cathedrals + The Princess & The Dragon
84 Suburbia + Inc
80 *Hansa Teutonica + Britannia + East Expansion

Collection 3
150 Forbidden Stars
140 Gloomhaven
50 Betrayal at House on the Hill
45 *Myrmes
40 Azul
30 Patchwork
30 Santorini
13 Chess

Collection 4
140 Gloomhaven
100 Agricola (Revised Edition) + Farmers of the Moor
80 Spirit Island
60 Race for the Galaxy + Xeno Invasion
59 Brass: Birmingham
33 *YINSH
17 Scrabble
11 Hanabi

Collection 5
110 Race for the Galaxy + The Gathering Storm + Rebel vs. Imperium + The Brink of War
90 Mage Knight Board Game
80 Agricola
70 Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
49 Catan
45 *Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary
45 Power Grid
11 Hanabi

Collection 6
100 Eclipse
80 Blood Rage
60 Agricola (Revised Edition)
60 Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
60 Tigris & Euphrates
59 Brass: Lancashire
25 *Biblios
20 Bohnanza
20 Codenames
20 Kingdomino

Collection 7
80 Terra Mystica
75 Dominion (Second Edition) Big Box
70 Ora et Labora
85 Orleans + Trade & Intrigue
50 *Hansa Teutonica
50 Ticket to Ride
42 The Castles of Burgundy
30 Patchwork
20 Codenames

Collection 8
130 Dominion: Intrigue + Seaside + Prosperity
60 Agricola (Revised Edition)
60 Cosmic Encounter
50 Mysterium
42 Castles of Burgundy
40 Pandemic
35 *Secret Hitler
35 Race for the Galaxy
20 Kingdomino
15 Sushi Go
13 Chess

Collection 9
70 Le Havre
70 Trajan
65 Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
60 Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
40 Azul
40 Flash Point: Fire Rescue
40 Splendor
30 Patchwork
20 Bohnanza
20 Codenames
20 The Resistance: Avalon
13 For Sale (Travel Edition)
11 Hanabi
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2. Board Game: Five! [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
Board Game: Five!
Philip Newman
United States
Plano
Texas
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Top Five

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RPG: Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Board Game: Gloomhaven
Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy
Board Game: 42
Board Game: Just One
Board Game: Unlock!: Exotic Adventures – Scheherazade's Last Tale
Board Game: Martian Rails
Board Game: Dinosaur Tea Party
RPG: Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)


 10.   Gloomhaven (17 all-time)
 10.   Power Grid: France/Italy (5 all-time)
 9.0   42 (14 all-time)
 9.0   Just One x2 (12 all-time)
 7.5   Unlock! Scheherazade's Last Tale NEW!
 7.0   Martian Rails (4 all-time)
 6.0   Dinosaur Tea Party x5 (6 all-time)
 N/A   Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) NEW!

Games
Way more games played this week! Got in a Gloomhaven session, and our Scoundrel will be able to retire next session, though it will be a few weeks before we can play again. That will mean every player will have retired a character at that point. This was a side quest and fairly rote kill-all-the-monsters quest. We're getting quite good at handling all the baddies.

It was good to get Power Grid to the table again, and I'm always impressed by how smoothly it handles 6 players. And Just One handles 10 players well, even if you have to snag some wipey boards from Show Manager to get those extra players in. (I'm probably just going to pick up another copy of the game at some point.)

42 is such a delightful trick-taking game that I could play it all night. I should push this more.

Kristen and I took the time to play a crayon rails game and got our Martian Rails out of shrink. It's been one of my least favorites in the line because of how "foreign" everything is, in that you really don't have references to where locations might be. But I think it's growing on me more. It's a weird map, but it's an interesting one, and that's worth something.

Meanwhile, AnnaMarie has fallen in love with Dinosaur Tea Party, and really gets into hamming it up while we play. We don't play with the three placards that change answers (the "Always Lies", "Switches Answers", and "Always Says No" because she doesn't need that complication), and it suits her perfectly.

I think I'm starting to get a sense of what it is about Unlock! games that can make or break it for me. We're pretty good at puzzle games in general. Yet every now and then, we'll encounter one puzzle or riddle that we can't seem to quite get, and we consult a hint, and the hint is absolutely worthless. And then we're stuck. Just absolutely stuck. And when we hit that feeling, the perception of the game radically changes. It happened in the Adventures in Oz, and it happened in Unlock! Scheherazade's Last Tale as well. I absolutely loved this one, with the glaring, huge exception of that stuck moment, which put a damper on the experience. We even had to glance through the cards to see what our path forward was. Maybe it's just us, though we whizzed through the rest with minimal clues. I dunno. I'd be curious to see if anyone else has a similar experience, as looking in the sparse forums for it no one else seems to have hit the roadblock we did. This one does some very clever things as well, which I quite enjoyed.

Our Session Zero of D&D 5th Edition went very well. Characters are created, sample battle run through, and I think it's going to be a great group of people. The first real session is this Sunday, so we'll see how it goes!

On My Mind
I'm teaching a Sunday School class this coming week on the book of Job as told in Twitter format. I got a bunch of people to summarize the speeches in Job into single tweets. This class is one of my favorites, because it so accurately captures the sense of communication in Job. The friends are talking past each other instead of to each other, and the whole book of Job has nonsense words and confusion and uncertainty, and putting it all in the lens of Twitter is too perfect.
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4. Board Game: Scarabya [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2779]
Board Game: Scarabya
United States
Yay Area
California
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Board Game: Maskmen
Board Game: Love Letter
Board Game: Carson City: The Card Game
Board Game: Scarabya
Board Game: Champions of Midgard
Board Game: Mexica
Board Game: Everdell
Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game


 7   Maskmen
 5   Love Letter
 6   Carson City: The Card Game NEW!
 8   Scarabya NEW!
 7   Champions of Midgard NEW!
 8   Mexica
 7   Everdell NEW!
 6   Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game

Carson City: The Card Game
- This was acceptable but we spent like 20 mins very boringly counting up the score. I had an easy scoring thing so it took me a minute to add up my 3 scoring conditions while everyone else calculated there 15 or whatever the hell individual conditions.

Scarabya - I liked this it’s like karuba with polyominoes.

Champions of Midgard - I won so best game ever. First time but played with expansions, Valhalla and Mountain. I could see how without Valhalla losing your warriors would be annoying as hell but with the rewards for dead people we were semi-strategizing who to get killed. I ended the game with ZERO blame tokens and mostly went for points from killing gummybears and druggers. I attempted hunting twice and got blanks on 4 green dice so I just avoided dealing with the voyages stuff since I had no food all game.

Mexica - Finally broke this out, really good, the game ended a bit too quickly as we realized our last district couldn’t be made so we went straight to scoring despite all of us having 5 or so temples left to place.

Everdell
- Hotness, I got an opening hand that through comboing would allow me to play everything but the host got a garbage hand and decided we should reshuffle. I spent a lot of time trying to take advantage of the cemetery/undertaker combo and ultimately came in 3rd place.


Other -


Mega Man X8 - With this I am done with the X collection. I enjoyed X8, it was a decent one to end on. You can spend a crapton of ingame currency to purchase essentially the women facsimiles of all the characters, which was a neat addition. Now make the next X game with them as fully unique playable characters you cowards. Overall maybe felt a bit too easy but meh, but story wasn't just another ERMAGERD SIGMA AGAIN FOR THE nth time. Overall the entire series grew to like Zero a lot more because of how versatile his fighting is whereas X feels a bit stunted with just his charge and shoot. Axl is still trash.


D&D - Someone DIED. That someone was ME. I died. Gobi no longer lives. And not even “fell down we’ll revive you after this fight” dead, straight up “you are disintegrated levels of dead”. On top of that where we fought this creature ended up collapsing into a void so they can't even find my dust to resurrect, at this point only a wish gets me back. Anyways I was totally fine with that, I was rolling hot garbage and failed like 4 Dex saves as a monk, otherwise I would have evaded full on 80 damage and then a disintegration ray. The only things I was slightly annoyed by was there was some DM rulings I wasn’t a fan of. I jumped down from a thing very high and stated I was using my reaction to slow fall and the DM said I hit the floor and just rolled bludgeoning damage and I asked if it was fall damage so I could reduce it via slow fall and they said no. Then later on I was trying to walk down a steep slope, I figured since I can walk on vertical surfaces(monk) a downward slope shouldn’t be an issue. But he made me roll a dex check and I failed and I apparently fell down and again wouldn’t let me use slow fall to negate any of the damage. But in the grand scheme of things I guess that didn’t matter since I’m dead now and we healed up before the battle. I’m rolling up either a paladin or warlock. Need to look into both since they have more technical stuff than wonderfully simple to use monks.


EDIT:1

Rando life stuff

Outside
-I went to a comedy show to see Maria Bamford - one of my favorite comedians. It was a bit odd since it seemed like mostly an older white lady crowd which I'm not sure if that says something about me. The concession stand had Brie and Prosecco so yeah...

Brazilian Steakhouse - took my broski out for his b-day to eat meats. Espetus. Definitely will avoid some of the "trap" meats next time, that were cooked a bit too well done for me and filled me up a bit too much. My move from last time worked in which I load my plate with their vinegary peppers since my palate is unrefined and needs a little oomph or else I get tired of the meat flavor.

D&D GCL
- I am playing a Tortle.
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5. Board Game: Cthulhu Wars [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:235] [Average Rating:7.92 Unranked]
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Board Game: Sail to India
Board Game: Mech Command RTS
Board Game: Hellapagos
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars


 6.6   Sail to India (3 all-time)
 7.6   Mech Command RTS (3 all-time)
 7.8   Hellapagos x2 (6 all-time)
 9   Cthulhu Wars (25 all-time)

Reviews
My critical take on Ultimate Werewolf Legacy went up over the weekend at Ars Technica.


Sail to India
This was fine. I remember being particularly impressed with its mechanical versatility with such modest components (re-using the cubes mostly) upon my first play years ago. I still think it's a solid Euro-style filler that has very little in its competition bracket, but I'm not quite as endeared to it now. I won (by a single point), so that helps.

Cthulhu Wars
This was kind of a mixed play. Only things from OS3 were Nodens and the unique cultist sculpts. I was Cthulhu and ended up winning with a come from behind over Opener who had a huge late game round.

The play was not ultimately super satisfying due to the owner accidentally placing the "3 player" side of the board on both halves (instead of one 3 player and one 5 player which is required for a 4 player game). We realized this mid-game when the board seemed very tight and it kind of tarnished it.

Otherwise it was fun though and I wreaked havoc with Cthulhu and a neutral GoO whose name I can't remember.

Mech Command RTS
I'm beginning to notice a pattern to this game. It's very scenario dependent. The core mechanisms are solid and quite fun, but the scenario design is all over the place.

It seems the scenarios that focus on retrieving stuff and bringing them back to base really minimize the best parts of the design. Our play had us blowing up buildings and retrieving the wreckage/salvage. There was no direct incentive to attack each other and we ended up winning because we focused on wrecking buildings while the other team attacked our mechs.

Our gameplan was somewhat smart in that I built a light and fast mech to maneuver around and pick off their trucks. I was fearless and didn't mind taking damage, opting for extra health instead of a shield upgrade so I could retain the energy for moving. It worked wonderfully.

The scenario I played last time with my brother was much better though. That was a kind of the hill thing where we needed to control areas. In that setup there's a direct benefit to taking out the enemy in that it allows you to control contested spaces.

After 3 plays I think I still need another play or two to review this one.

Hellapagos
We can't get away from this one. We played two four player games and one particularly was crazy. A player used the fruit basket early, an item intended to allow you to survive one round late in the game when your supplies are low. It lowers food and water to 0 but lets you skip voting for one round.

When you play that on the first round and tank the group, it's something to behold.

We were laughing and the player who did so had a plan as he had a food and water card in his hand. He was hoping to survive the vote and be the only one left alive going into the next round, maybe having enough food or water from the dead player's cards. Unfortunately we conspired against him and I gave a bullet to Aaron who possessed the handgun. We all ended up dying beautifully.


On My Mind
Had a ton of stuff come in from FFG/Asmodee recently. Have Just One, and the new three Unlocks to check out. Also have 14 pounds of new X-Wing stuff to work through. Today I should be receiving another package with an early copy of Journeys in Middle Earth. I haven't requested much to review lately so this should keep me busy.

The OA Season 2 was excellent. I love how daring and bizarre this show gets. It reminds me very much of Twin Peaks in that regard - I have no idea what's going to happen. I totally knocked this out in three days as I couldn't stop watching. That's 8 hours of my life that I don't regret.


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6. Board Game: Passing Through Petra [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:3970]
Board Game: Passing Through Petra
Joseph
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Passing through Petra - This will be a lengthy entry about a game that most will probably overlook. Regardless, here I go: After only three games of this, I think I’ve come to a conclusion about this. I want to like this game. It has some very cool things about it. But there is something about it that I don’t like. And I say this as someone who still hasn’t played it enough. There is a serious lack of strategic divergence, making optimal plays feel very “on-rails”. The central mechanism of the game revolves around setting up settlers and traders.. And as you gain more traders, you push them off the trade row, and the old traders become new traders. Settlers of one color are looking to trade with a specific color of traders for another, when you initiate the trade between the two colors, they act as multiplier to each other. So you find yourself in this cyclic pattern. You have a few green settlers. Green settlers want to trade with brown traders. So you’re working on getting brown traders. Since now your trade row is full of brown traders, you’ll want to start pushing them up to settlers. And brown settlers want to trade with blue traders. Blue wants to trade with red. Red wants to trade with yellow. And yellow wants to trade with green. Now you’re at the start of the cycle.

The catch: Due to the 3x3 action selection grid. You can never do the same action more than twice in a row. You will a wall very quickly and you’ll have to stop collecting traders, and initiate a trade, just so you can gain the opportunity to get more traders. What this means is, even if you do take a few turns to get TONS of traders of one kind, so you can set up a huge multiplier, you’ll get caught into a hole where you either can’t get the type of traders you want, completing stalling your momentum, or you don’t have enough options to do the other action” outside of collecting, as they tend to be actions that resolve the results of your collection, and you can’t do much. So you’ll want to actually hit a sweet spot of doing only a few of one color and a couple of another, just so you have a quickly revolving door on your traders and settlers, and giving you more flexibility in your action selection.

This is compounded by the fact of how the market places work. When you initiate a trade, you move your marker on a market track that matches the settler color you are trading with. If you get to a certain spots on the track, you can get a bonus, become eligible to place a cube, or place a cube (Ultimate goal). While you can only collect the bonus once per turn, if you can make several rounds on the track in one action, you can place multiple cubes. But those bonuses are key in how you build up your engine. So it is actually less ideal to set up big combinations that allows you to place multiple cubes. We decided it is best to initiate combinations that give 6-12 movement on the tracks.

To further compound the situation, there are cards that give you a bonus place to place a cube. The criterial for most of them require you to have X=Y amount of cubes on markets A and B, or some other variations of that. Either way, it is something that makes it harder for you be able to qualify for when you have 4 cubes on X and 0 cubes on Y.

That is to say, the game seems to punish you for working hard to deliver on bigger combinations, and encourages everyone to follow the same idea of setting up combinations that multiply to numbers 6-12, and barrel through your way through your settler cycle as many times in as few turns as possible. And since everyone’s cycle is a little different, it will very much favor whoever has traders that are least contested over at any given time.

Ultimately, I’m a little let down. The game has great potential, but it just hums white noise in the scene.

Daxu - Taught it to a friend. We both did about 4 or 5 backstabs in a row, which was hilarious. Great little game.

Secret Hitler - I was killed, which led to the liberals winning. I think I’m sliding into the “If it isn’t ONUW, or if it isn’t a part of a much bigger game like BSG or DoW, I don’t’ care about social deduction games.”

No Thanks! – I won with 29 points. Mid-game, I had to go get Lillian, and to free my hands, I put my tiddlywinks into my pocket. Everyone laughed and groaned with annoyance as I walked and made loud jingles of all my chips.

Castles of Burgundy - This was probably my least favorite play of this game ever. Maybe I need to work on my patients with other players. But this was a 4 player game. Two of us have played it multiple times. One was new. One had played it once before, but forgot a lot of the rules. We started rules explanation around 6:45. 7:15 we got underway. 9:45 we were done. Two and a half hours.

I really do like Castles of Burgundy, but if I was going to play a game for 150 minutes, I’d want something with a bit more of a rewarding experience. The one who took the longest on his turns was also the one most experienced with the game, and ended up in third place.


OMM:
I now work at a place that gave me a name plate plaque. It’s all wooden and fancy and totally weird. I feel official!

I finished Dead Beat (Dresden FIles #7). That’s probably my favorite one of the series so far. It has one of the best fight scenes in the whole damn series that puts the walmart scene from a few books back to shame. Bob’s moment of triumph was awesome.

I’m going through books so quickly, that I’m thinking about bumping up my Audible membership from Gold to Platinum.

I made a Brisket over the weekend. I smoked it with oak wood, and I definitely went the “finish in the oven” route. With the new grill setup, the new dual probe-thermometer with a wireless reader, this brisket DESTROYED the brisket I made last July. It was too tender for any of our knives to cut well, so I had to go with thicker pieces to avoid it from shredding apart. I will have dreams about the burnt ends. Probably the best meat I’ve ever had.

Edit: Pictures.

From gallery of jshufelt

From gallery of jshufelt

From gallery of jshufelt

From gallery of jshufelt


I couldn't focus enough to take pictures after it was done and I was cutting it up.
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7. Board Game: Neolithic [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:3842]
Board Game: Neolithic
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Hansa Teutonica
Board Game: Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture
Board Game: Neolithic
Board Game: Keltis (with Neue Wege, Neue Ziele)
Board Game: Keep
Board Game: Daxu
Board Game: Biblios
Board Game: Android: Netrunner
Board Game: Android: Netrunner – Terminal Directive


Hansa Teutonica x2 (23 all-time)
Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture x2 (3 all-time)
Neolithic NEW!
Keltis (with Neue Wege, Neue Ziele) (12 all-time)
Keep (8 all-time)
Daxu x2 (4 all-time)
Biblios x2 (35 all-time)
Android: Netrunner (166 all-time) + Android: Netrunner – Terminal Directive (2 all-time)

Lots of good plays of older games, and one new one...

My buddy Josh had picked up a copy of Neolithic a while back, and after some fiddle-faddling I finally agreed to play it on the proviso I didn't have to teach it. It's OK, largely functional but a bit too clunky for my tastes. I found the double use cards a little too awkward to juggle and the action selection interesting if a little flat in practice. I imagine this game gets better as players start to memorize all the cards and don't have to keep flipping them up-and-down to read both sides. Unless it gets overhauled in the upcoming new version from Kolossal (which I backed mainly for the new version of Keep, which still rocks), I'll probably sell it shortly after it hits my doorstep.

Quick Hits

- Still awesome: Hansa Teutonica, Keltis, Keep, Biblios.

- I'm still entertained by Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture (and more so after trying the expansion deck included in the main box, which ups the interactivity by a good amount). I find the tactical turn-by-turn decision making fun in that running-through-an-obstacle-course way, and the balance of investment/control to play time is really well done. However, I still can't shake how unfocused and somewhat samey the whole thing feels: I liken it to trying to eat as many potato chips out of a bowl as you can, where each round you get a little better at shoveling more chips into your mouth. In the end all you've done is gorged yourself on chips, which while fun in the moment ultimately feels kind of empty. I recognize that I'm probably holding this game to an unfair standard, as it largely succeeds as a zippy, tactical super filler. But I just can't shake how insubstantial it feels to me in comparison to other games of similar weight.

- Had a game of Daxu come down to the final, I-know-you-know-I-know turn, and zigged rather than zagged for the lose. I like this game a lot, but I don't know that I understand it all that well.

- Played our second game of Android: Netrunner – Terminal Directive and managed to get back on track: I won a game with the special Agenda and truly moved on to set 3, which was a good thing as I had accidentally started stickering when I realized I'd flubbed up the set advancement in the first game. I now also have four different triggers for four different sets and I am super curious about all of them. I'm really digging how there's an emphasis not just on winning or losing rounds but also trying to accomplish different things in your games, which really freshens up the formula. Let's see if I can tag my opponent 3 times in the next game!
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8. Board Game: Drummer Boy [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Drummer Boy
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Gen7: A Crossroads Game 5 (8 all-time)
Strike 4 (72 all-time)
Decrypto 2 (5 all-time)
Dice Throne: Season Two – Battle Chest 2 (4 all-time)
Ascension: Deliverance 1 (3 all-time)
Happy Pigs 1 (7 all-time)
Monikers 1 (3 all-time)
Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition) 1 NEW!
Wingspan 1 (2 all-time)

---

Gen7: Oof. This game is bad. I decided to capitalize on our friends' visit by forcing them to complete the campaign with me and I'm glad I did. Not only will Matt's upcoming clinicals schedule impede playing, but the game is so rules-y that it would've been really difficult to play with my parents. I can't say that we didn't cheat a bit throughout our games just to get through it. The story isn't awful, but the gameplay is boring, and the rules are terrible. All in all, a very unpleasant experience and Plaid Hat really shit the bed with this one. It's going to be difficult to write a review on this without going on a 2000-word rant.

Decrypto: I had considered selling this because I have several "guess the word" type games, but this was a fun enough play to warrant keeping it. (Plus, the game isn't worth much anyway.)

Dice Throne: We played with three, which worked pretty well. The rules give you an extra card if you attack the player with the most HP, but you don't always feel compelled to do it. For example, we ganged up on Johnny, who was constantly healing with the Seraph, even though he didn't have the most HP. I've now played against or played as everyone in Season Two except one character.

Monikers: Despite my love of pop culture and the internet, I think I prefer the Time's Up! Title Recall! rules and version of cards more. This includes having each card worth one point instead of variable from 1-4. Our friends also play with slightly modified rules where missed cards are tossed face up in the center so everyone can see them, which takes out some of the fun.

TI4: This happened. Cross it off my board gaming bucket list. We played 3-player and it took us about 3.5 hours. I played the turtles. (There's no way I stored their actual name in my head.) I lost, tied with 9 points. While the experience was good, it's firmly a Not For Me game. At least I can say I've played it now.

---

On My Mind:

We found out we're having a boy.
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9. Board Game: Orléans [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:23]
Board Game: Orléans
Louie
United States
SF Bay Area
California
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Board Game: Secret Hitler
Board Game: Orléans
Board Game: Meeple Circus
Board Game: Just One
Board Game: Not Alone


 8   Secret Hitler x3 (24 all-time)
 8   Orléans (3 all-time)
 6   Meeple Circus (3 all-time)
 8   Just One (3 all-time)
 8   Not Alone (2 all-time)

Secret Hitler -- In one of the games, the Fascist team won with me as Hitler. Mostly notable because, my teammates were two people who tend to (rightfully) throw me under the bus before we even start playing. So it was cool that the two of them worked together well to get me through so easily.

Orleans -- Good play at 3P, one newbie. I had a solid, all-around strategy. I was able to save money, acquired some high-valued goods through the map, and raised up my development to the fifth multiplayer, with a fair share of Followers and Trading Posts.

We were also ridiculously quick with our play. I think I did a full teach, which started at around 7:15 PM, and we were all packed up with about ten minutes before 9:00 PM. For comparison, we finished before a group playing a 5P game of Citadels. I also checked in with another group that was halfway through a game of Wingspan. So like, sweet.

Meeple Circus -- Again, this went over well. One thing that’s common throughout my three plays is that, you can absolutely feel the stress this game gives you. So when you’ve got the music playing, and your hands are shaking and those damn meeples keep toppling over, the game can legitimately make you sweat. Plus, you start out with some grand aspirations and then the shit keeps falling over, so you know you’re running out of time so you settle for some safer stacks to at least score something. It’s some great tension.

My favorite soundtrack is the Metal Circus.

Just One -- I had a very memorable play of this one, and I’m glad I purchased it. I think like most social/party games, your experience can vary with the group you’re with. But say that the majority of the players are fun and friendly, you can have some good-natured ribbing, and start cracking jokes, and reference some nerdy stuff. My favorite was putting forth MULDER for the word FOX. Actually I pulled out a SHARKNADO for TORNADO. I’m not convinced that clue was legal but whatever.

OMM

So I got sick pretty bad last week, which messed up my work flow and caused me to stay at home for a good bit of time. Never good.

I also saw US on Saturday - Jordan Peele’s new horror flick. I was more or less in for the ride, so I wasn’t thinking too critically during my watch. But apparently there’s a lot to unpack, so I might put forth some of my favorite tinfoil theories in a separate thread. Well worth the watch IMO.

No video games lately.
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10. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:2774]
Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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Altiplano -- First time playing. At the end of the 2 hours I can say that it's a game I played? The game always has you planning a turn out, but I spent the entire time looking at what I was going to do next rather than enjoying the game in the moment. The bag building was fine, but uncompelling. I did win though, so best game ever?

D&D (3e Siblings game) -- We're chasing cultists around town. The module we're playing does an interesting thing where it punishes you for playing by the rules. The town we're in does not like our Paladin's order, so they're watching us like hawks and we're not supposed to get into any physical violence if we can. This meant that as we found cultists we flagged them for interrogation but did not immediately arrest or fight them. So, when we finally went to interrogate the worst offender EVERY cultist we'd seen came to their aide and joined this massive 3 wave brawl. It was a fun encounter, but the setup felt like it had punished us, which is a bit cheeky.

D&D (5e Eberron) -- The PCs accepted a contract to retrieve adamantine and mithril for some artificers. After exploring the area they found that the warehouse has sunken into the ground where underground lava and ettins are protecting it. After almost being discovered they sent their sorcerer in to scout (invisible, at least). They see a few Ettins milling around as well as 2 make-shift bridges that cross a lava flow. One ettin is on this side of the lava flow, while there's another clearly in the near-distance. Sorcerer creates a distraction, getting the closest Ettin to cross the bridge to the far side to investigate. He shoots a lightening bolt into the bridge as soon as it's mid way, which throws the ettin off balance and eventually causing it to burn to death as it struggles to get out of the lava. Naturally the second Ettin nearby comes charging in to see what's happened! Except... yep... he has exactly enough movement to get to the other bridge. Sorcerer gleefully looks at me and repeats the process, actually breaking this bridge and the poor giant is left trying to clamber onto the ground as the other players also charge in guns blazing (literally). 10/10, great opening to their first proper dungeon.

D&D (5e Tomb of Annihilation) -- My OTHER D&D group met for the first time in 4 months to play ToA. I went All In on being ridiculous with my character. We went to the bird village we've been told has a ritual to make us fly. Unfortunately, actually getting up the mountain into the village proved far to difficult for our puny adventuring selves. The wooden path is rotted out and each of us attempts and fails to climb without falling. After taking about 30 points of damage we begin trying to signal to the bird-people that we'd like assistance, but it's 500 feet up so we're having no luck. I begin using Dancing Lights to imitate a shadowy bird figure and dance around parroting them to get their attention. I continue these antics for about 10 minutes IRL until the DM finally has some pity on us and we get the attention of someone, who then flies our gnome up to get better help (help that turns out to be the replacement character from the one who died last session). Those rolls go better for most people, but one person does end up falling and being KO'd, so we split the party with one group heading to the village to check it out while the other camps at the base of the mountain to wait. Oh, the other thing that happened is the Warlock had 250 flyers made up that put a 2 gold bounty on every goblin that people can show proof of kill.


On My Mind:
So much D&D last week zombie.

We had some backup in our basement last week so I called the plumber and it turns out the entire cast iron piping in our basement under our concrete is broken and needs to be replaced. Thankfully they were able to schedule it for this week, so hopefully we'll be able to shower at home soon (we've been using the gym's facilities all week).

Saturday we had a low key Friends Brunch / Baby Shower. This was mostly an excuse to show people our new kitchen, and bake a shit ton of things. As promised, I took pictures of the apricot couronne this time.
From gallery of Epsilon_Balls
From gallery of Epsilon_Balls


Exercise:
My running partner cousin signed up for a few 5ks with his daughter (she's almost 7). I went out running with her for the first time on Sunday; she did 1.5 miles at roughly a 10:30/mi pace surprise.

Tons of swimming last week. I've been doing drills that helping my catch and pull. My actual swim class had us doing reduced stroke counts (begin at 22 per 25& and then reduced down to 13 by the end). That exercise is brutal but it definitely shows you how much more efficient each stroke can be when you focus on it.

Saturday was mid 50s here so I did 7.5 miles of hilly running followed by 40 minutes cycling to recover. Pushed myself to work on speedwork on the run, which basically meant 2.5 miles of running at a 7:00/mi pace and with 1-2 minutes of walking recovery. I did snag a 6:40 mile during a nice downhill section though, so that was nice.
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11. Board Game: Codex: Card-Time Strategy – Deluxe Set [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:1162]
Board Game: Codex: Card-Time Strategy – Deluxe Set
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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MIND. BLOWN.
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Board Game: Innovation Deluxe
Board Game: Codex: Card-Time Strategy – Deluxe Set


Innovation Deluxe (21 all-time)
Codex: Card-Time Strategy – Deluxe Set x2 NEW!



Our lives are becoming too busy, and we need to say "no" to evening commitments. Erf. We spiral in and out of this habit of either being voluntold or taking on too many weekly responsibilities... oh well. Bye bye, free time.



Innovation Deluxe
Our friend, Mike, came over and we played a three-player game of Innovation which was absolutely delish. It see-sawed back and forth with a few remarkable dogma effects, some wild card draw, and a chain of conflict over who had the most lightbulbs, but ultimately, despite my earning three special achievements, I could simply not disrupt Anastasia's scoring engine enough to stop her from grabbing all of the standard achievements she needed. I did manage to splay all five colors up, though, but it was too late, and my one-in-a-million chance for a dogma auto-win busted. C'est la vie. Still a favorite, and probably my all-time top "seriously, it's just cards" card game.

Codex: Card-Time Strategy
For the main event, however, Mike brought Codex, and we played two 1v1 matches together. Now, I am no veteran of head-to-head card games. That is, I've played (and enjoyed) a large number of them, but I have never had a period in my life as a meta player with weekly games, tournaments, and the like. The ship of lifestyle gaming left port before I knew about it, basically. But I've heard all about Codex, and it's grand claim to be a real metagame within a closed system, but I didn't know anyone who had it and balked at the price everytime I considered it. Mike, however, got a blowout deal direct from Sirlin around Thanksgiving for ALL THE THINGS, and bought it.

We played the starter matchup ("finesse" vs "bashing" plus "neutral"), and I picked up most of the mechanics from having binged so much Hearthstone over the years. Sure, the first match was a bit wobbly for me as I was learning, but after picking it up, we played a second match--this time me as Blue and Mike as Purple (the "Vortoss," which is the most deliciously shameful ripoff of Starcraft's Protoss... all down the line, from top to bottom). I decided to tech into the "Law" tree, mostly because I wanted to attempt to defeat a hyper-advanced alien space armada FROM THE FUTURE with tax collectors, insurance agents, and pigs sipping brandy. And you know what, I very, very nearly won. It came down to a single turn.

I liked the RTS feel to the game, though it really doesn't come through as much as I think it wants to say it does. That said, what DOES come through is a sincerely engaging, quick deck-construction game. I recall hearing that when deck-building games (such as Dominion and its vast iterations) became popular, many people described them as "a collectible card game, but you construct your deck as you go!" Now, you all know I am over-the-moon for deck-building games. Call it a crap gimmick, but I really enjoy them. I have never played a deck-building game that reminded me of playing a meta card game, as if that was even a truly plausible concept. However, playing Codex... with its multi-spec decks of slow-drip cards, its variable counters to other decks based on archetypes and mid-game decisions, its economy progress and the nigh-endless customization of decks by hero-color choice? Well, shoot, it really DID feel like I constructed a meta deck as I played. It was awesome. Looking at the sheer magnitude of cards and decks and possible combinations, I can only imagine that this really does offer basically the closest we'll ever come to "a whole meta in a box." Top-notch stuff.



We're watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (re-watch for me, new for Anastasia) and it is so much fun. I never forgot how good it was, but watching it again is equal parts delighted nostalgia and fresh wonder at how well Joss Whedon makes characters and stories tick. Amazing stuff.

The D&D adventure I co-wrote premiered this weekend at a Pittsburgh convention and was met with a very positive response. We also got a ton of awesome feedback to streamline the module before it is publically released on DMsguild.com in a little bit. I'm also pumped about GCL Mafia D&D here on RPGG. Hooray. Finally, I killed off another player character this week in stunning drama, and it was deeply satisfying.
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12. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:8.81 Overall Rank:1] [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Ambie
United States
San Mateo
California
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Board Game: Gloomhaven


 N/A   Gloomhaven

Played a Gloomhaven scenario on Wednesday. It had been 5 months since our last play, so we forgot what was going on. We ended up doing a side quest, scenario 15.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I think we were supposed to try to run past the monsters and not kill them all, but we ended up defeating most of them because they kept blocking the way. We all almost ran out of cards, but after we all got on the switches to open the last door, our Scoundrel booked it to the end and opened the treasure chest. I was excited because I got to summon my Monstrous Rat and it did stuff! Way better than my Rat Swarm, which usually just gets summoned and then left behind since it moves so slowly.


We're planning on getting together again to play in less than 5 months for the next time.

Also starting to make my character for D&D! I'm not sure about everything, so I may need help with finishing it up. I decided to be a Dragonborn Monk because Dragonborn sounded cool and having a dragon thing be a monk sounded funny. No idea about what its personality will be yet though. Or a name. Names are tough.

EDIT: I forgot to log my plays of War. We've been doing a tournament bracket of War (the card game) at work, with a 5 minute time limit (whoever has the most cards at the end wins). So far I've won 3 out of 3 games and I'm in the top 8. Waiting to see who my opponent is. The winner of everything gets a $30 Amazon gift card! The only reason this is fun is because it's limited to 5 minutes and I like trying to play the cards as fast as possible.

On My Mind
- Finished my nephew's road play mat present! I lined it with truck patterned flannel on the back (my first time lining a crochet project with fabric). We were going to get together for dinner last night to celebrate his birthday, but I guess his family's sick so maybe we'll visit sometime this week to give him the present.

- My parents visited over the weekend and we did some home improvement stuff. My dad helped us fix our front door (it was hard to open/close), and my mom helped with some gardening. We bought a cherry tomato plant and a Fresno pepper plant and I'm gonna try taking care of them and eating them! My parents also took Toby's "bread class" where they each made a loaf of bread! We didn't end up playing any games cause all of us were tired on Saturday night.

- We're flying to LA this weekend for Game Night!

- Tonight we're going to karaoke with a cappella! I'm excited, although karaoke with this group has a lot less Disney and show tunes than going with board game people. And I'm not excited about getting home late and being tired.

- My weekends are all pretty busy up until I quit work, and then I'll have a lot more time on weekdays and weekends. Although I'll probably end up having things every weekend anyway. But I'm looking forward to having weekdays to do things like grocery shopping and chores, since it's tough to do that when weekends are booked. I wonder if it's weird that one of the things I'm really excited about is going to Costco on a weekday.
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13. Board Game: Twice as Clever! [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:404]
Board Game: Twice As Clever
Philip Newman
United States
Plano
Texas
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Plays since March 13, 2019

 7.5   Twice As Clever x5 (sessions, all solo) NEW!
 5.5   I Spy Bingo x2 (6 all-time)
 5.5   Go Fish (2 all-time)

More games with Luke (and the nephews), but otherwise all my plays have all been on my phone. I don't know how many individual plays of Twice As Clever I have, but I played it a bunch over 5 days.

It's a lot harder (or at least more unpredictable) than the first game - the theoretical high score is much higher (I saw 564 on the forums, and couldn't come up with a way to do better), but the way grey works in particular makes it infeasible to try for anything close to that. I've only managed to score over 300 twice (309 and 310) - mostly I'm in the mid 200s.

I think I would teach the first game to a group, but move to this one as soon as possible. I think the first is a nice solo puzzle that would get stale quickly as a multiplayer game, whereas this one is chaotic as a solo game and (probably) more interesting with a group.

On My Mind In The Box

I gave in a few weeks ago and ordered the Gloomhaven Broken Token insert, knowing I will never get it to the table until it is better organized, and that it will be a long time before I am happy with a DIY solution. It was quite a lot to put together, but I finally finished getting everything in tuck boxes last night and now everything is in the box except for two of the player trays. I'm assuming we will play it 2 player before we try to play it with 4 (our group gets together so infrequently that a campaign might take a decade), so I'm trying to figure out how to work with the character boxes - the guide assumes 4 players (and collapsing the boxes for the 4 characters currently being used), and I think it fits (just) with 3 used, so either we need to collapse an extra box for a character we aren't using, leave out the player trays we aren't using (as I've done for now).
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