GCL Phoenix 455: How Many Games Do I Even Have? Or the Gentle Art of Letting Go
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You've found the 455th installment of the Phoenix Game Chat League. Welcome to any of you that stop by - whether friend, regular visitor, lurker, subscription-stalker, passer-by or perhaps one of our members. Please thumb the list so we know you stopped by.

Members are encouraged to add an item to the list and we love comments from visitors too, but please do so politely and leave the adding of items to members.

Currently active members:

Simon (Agner)
Jeremy (familygaming)
Alison (grasa_total)
Marc (hawk-x-)
Carol (indigopotter)
John (John Rogers)
Karl (karlfast)
Michael (Lowengrin)
Adley (mirror33) - you may want to start thinking about an idea.
Dave (rynelf)
Nicolai (Taibi)
Morten (Tigrillo)
Rich (woodnoggin) - you're up next.


Former or currently inactive Phoenix members who we’d always be happy to welcome back:

archivists, BennyD, Bruzza, chally, darker, Dormammu, Eeeville, enzo622, Hawkeye77, JohnRayJr, judoka, leroy43, Morganza, Mr_Nuts, Muse23PT, ravenskana, Smintie, TheRocketSurgeon, tjshields, topherr, Yokiboy.




We have begun looking for a new and bigger place much closer to work - we commute 125 km four to five days a week and with Lauge around that is not something that is possible when he starts in daycare of some sort next year. This of course is also a welcome opportunity to start thinking about the size of my collection. And also to some extent how I want my collection to be. That is the theme of this week's geeklist (our collections, not mine obviously).
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1. Board Game: Perfection [Average Rating:4.30 Overall Rank:19473]
Board Game: Perfection
What is a perfect collection to you? But much more importantly: which criteria do you use to decide whether a game belongs on your shelves or not?
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2. Board Game: The Others [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:696]
Board Game: The Others
Do you have a collection that caters for your own preferences only or do you also think about others that you do or may game with?
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3. Board Game: Size Matters [Average Rating:4.59 Unranked]
Board Game: Size Matters
Are you constrained by space when it comes to the size of your collection or is it money or other concerns that set the limits for your collection?
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4. Board Game: Love is Letting Go of Fear Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Love is Letting Go of Fear Game
When you come to the conclusion that your sagging shelves could perhaps do with fewer games stacked on them, when you realise your pile of shame, your hairshirt list is much much longer than you want it to, when you realise you have so many games that you have not played for years and may never play them again - what do you? How do you go about culling you collection? Or does it never get to there because you carefully manicure it continuously?
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5. RPG Item: The Rotating Labyrinth [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
RPG Item: The Rotating Labyrinth
Rich - 29th September
Adley (for Simon) - 6th October
Jeremy - 13th October
Marc - 20th October
Alison - 27th October
Carol - 3rd November
John - 10th November
Karl - 17th November
Michael - 24th November
Adley - 1st December
Dave - 8th December
Morten - 15th December
Rich - 22nd December
Simon - 29th December
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6. Board Game: Mini Rails [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1731]
Board Game: Mini Rails
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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9  Crokinole x5 (55 all-time)
7  JamSumo (42 all-time)
7  Mini Rails x8 NEW!
7  Modern Art (28 all-time)
7  Patchwork x2 (23 all-time)
3  Vindication NEW!


The Good
Multiple plays of Crokinole (again). This game is a solid hit and it’s fun every time. Wow. Just wow. Lots of nice 7s here, I’ll focus on the new one. Mini Rails is a very nice Winsome-like filler. The crux of the game seems to pivot on timing your two actions each round; you only get 12 so you better make’em good!

The Bad
Vindication is yet another incremental-cube-pushing-resource-converting-efficency-engine-building-points-salad-MPS-optimizer. On the plus side it isn’t terribly ugly and does have a setting, though its point salad nature undermines what little narrative there is. I found it tedious, redundant, lacking in tension and deeper decisions (min-maxing is the norm). Recommended for those who enjoy Scythe, Gaia Project, Terraforming Mars and the like.

The Ugly
Nada. Two weeks in a row!
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7. Board Game: Maracaibo [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:51]
From gallery of Photodump
I played very little this week: one game of Tally Ho with N (bought for $13 on sale), two games of Pandemic with a couple co-workers when there was a bomb threat made to our workplace (hoax), and one game of Downforce after watch the New Zealand-South Africa rugby game.

I did get a chance to read through the Maracaibo rulebook 2 times. The last time I was this excited for a game was after I read the A Feast for Odin rulebook - which went on to be become my favourite games since Agricola. Until I play, there is no way to know how solid the design is, but the ideas in the game are right up my alley. Rondel movement, multi-use cards, deck of one-of cards, "fable"-like campaign, solo play, bright graphics, modifiable actions, action upgrades...yikes. My heart is all aflutter!


Also found Gloomhaven for $100 CAD. Trying to decide if I should break it open or move it on.
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8. Board Game: Fast Forward: FLEE [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:5120]
Board Game: Fast Forward: FLEE
Alison Mandible
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game
Board Game: Fast Forward: FLEE


 9   KeyForge: Call of the Archons (93 all-time)
 9   Ascension: Deckbuilding Game x2 (67 all-time)
 5   Fast Forward: FLEE x6 (8 all-time)

Almost no gaming this week, aside from an hour or two spent with FLEE solo. While I normally like my solo games to be hard, this was too much. I had the sense there was a Good Trick that I was supposed to figure out and without that it was just going to be frustrating. (My first several plays were also harder than they had to be because I had all four 'players' in a horizontal row in front of me, not realizing that when I did that, "left" and "right" were reversed from normal table orientation.) Oops!

Apropos of this week's list, though, I've been organizing my collection. This is the first time I've tried separating them based on anything about the gameplay.

From gallery of grasa_total

From gallery of grasa_total


It's hard to see in the photos, but each cell has an explicit label. While I don't have people over for games much (so many of my friends have kids, I'm usually the one traveling for games), my current house organizing kick is that sorting things AS IF for other people to find them is the best way to keep myself honest about organizing them for myself. Otherwise, stuff just goes where there's space.

A - short/light games
A1: short party games
A2: longer party games
A3: dexterity
A4: strategy
Z4: fuzzy boots that are the only good thing about winter

B - medium games
B1: semi-abstract
B2: Euro
B3: deck-builders and combos
B4: just trust me

C: heavy games
C1: tension
C2: mischief
C3: havoc
C4: solitude

D: 2-player games
D1: my favorites
D2: shorter dueling games
D3: longer dueling games
D4: other 2-player

E1-4: shelf for smaller games facing sideways
F4: sledgehammer, cat scratch toy

This is about 1/3 of my game shelving. There's also about this much space for unplayed games, and this much again for "everything else" (i.e. now it's all the perfectly good games that I don't actively want to play and am considering getting rid of).
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9. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1388]
Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game
Karl Fast
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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I've had two gaming meetups in two weeks: my first "real" gaming since early June. Neither

NEW TO ME

 6   Ra: The Dice Game NEW! - Got a used copy of this long-out-of-print Yahtzee-based Knizia game. First play was a bit rough since I was teaching from the rulebook, which I don't do well. But I think it's pretty good. Could become an 8 with time. Deserves a reprint. The structure follows from RA. The yahtzee-mechanice retains the push-your-luck, but removes the auctions. I probably like RA more but this is good. A travel version could be excellent.

 8   Egizia NEW! - A surprise for me. This clicked. Elegant design. Mechanics I like. Good interaction. Really really good.


 8   Q.E. x2 NEW! - Finally got to play it. Loved it. Not sure about the rest of the table. But I do know we need to play it more, get the meta-game going, and have people try other strategies. We tended to bid things into a certain range and then hovering in a relatively small range, say between 4-20 million, with a gaussian distribution. Need to try a hyper-inflation strategy and maybe some aggressive, taunting, hyperbolic table talk. I think the table treated it more as a serious economic game, rather than a creative economic party game.

 6   Walnut Grove NEW! - A friend always brings this to my primary meetup, it gets played at least every other month, but this was my first chance to play since joining the group five years ago. It's good, and the resource conversion is really tight. Need more plays to be sure how I feel.


CURRENT FAVORITES

 8   Fleet: The Dice Game (5 all-time) - The more I play, the more I like. This is the combo-tastic RAW game for me. Like it more than Ganz Schon Clever, which has the virtue of being quicker and simpler, but felt mostly solved after a dozen plays, with only a few viable paths, and you can't reliably score above a certain level without some good luck. FtDG is has so many paths that good players should do well no matter what dice are rolled.


THE REST

 6   Hey, That's My Fish! x2 (32 all-time) - One has to admire such a quick, simple, and brutally vicious game when it's packaged (successfully) as a light family game. My son is usually willing to play this one.

 6   Splendor (16 all-time) - This hangs around and I will gladly play it because it's so smooth. And sometimes, like last night, I achieve a CRUSHING VICTORY. I won a 4p game 15-6-6-4. That was fun, at least for me!

 6   Keyflower (3 all-time) - A friend of mine loves this. One of the few euros he really likes. I'm starting to warm up to it more. I was always mixed on this one to start, and have grown weary of resource conversion games. I like a few, but it doesn't interest me as much as it does other people. Still, I'm liking this more with each play.

 6   Get Bit! (7 all-time) - My son likes it. It's become a go-to kids game. They love ripping the arms off and it makes kids laugh. Once they grow up though, this game will go out of the collection. I've got other games that involve bluffing and outguessing your opponents that do this much better.
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10. Board Game: 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways [Average Rating:8.26 Overall Rank:1869]
Board Game: 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 21Sep2019:

1/13/303 plays of 1/12/169 total games, with 0/4/36 expansions employed.
Plays with 2/8/97 distinct opponents.

1/2/31 games acquired (plus 0/0/19 expansions.) - ジャンキー.
0/0/1 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/2 expansions.)
0/1/20 games ordered (plus 0/0/7 expansions.)
Orders for 1 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.

With the Wednesday night gang:
Board Game: 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways

image by Werbaer

1x _8_ 1849 (2 total plays) (4 years dusty)

This was ferocious and interesting and entertaining. And pretty close, in the end, too: I think it wasn't more than ₤77 between the first couple players.

I suspect we're still playing (collectively) poorly, though: that there's a (somewhat mysterious, yet) "good pattern" of play that we're neither perceiving nor achieving. It matters rather little, I guess; unless we were to play with another group, we're managing something competitive and engaging amongst ourselves; and perhaps that's enough.


Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+1/-0) - ジャンキー arrived.
Owned-and-played-once: 97 (+0/-0)

Outlook for the week: No Wednesday Night games this week; though I'm hoping both for lunchtime games and something with BAP this coming weekend. And ジャンキー will be played this week. (I'm hoping for "on multiple occasions.")
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11. Board Game: Maskmen [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:3350]
Board Game: Maskmen
The Mirror
United States
New York
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Board Game: Maskmen
 7.5   Maskmen

Guess I didn't game much this past week either. I must be experiencing a bit of a silence hangover, also, I've been moving back into the apartment and much of my free time has been committed to seeing folks and cleaning and unpacking and just generally getting settle back into nyc life...

...I did however get my copies of Junkie and Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town so that's a thing!

Miss you Carol! So does Stevie (the doggo)!
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12. Board Game: Dealt! [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1963]
Board Game: Krass Kariert
I had two game nights last week: first with the 'Root Group' and then with Lærke during the weekend. I finally got Conquest of Paradise after waiting for my order to arrive for several months and I also played it with Lærke. Krass Kariert was also finally removed from my list of unplayed games.

Board Game: Pax Pamir (Second Edition)

 7   Pax Pamir (Second Edition) (2 all-time)
Our second consecutive game night away from Root, spent on Pax Pamir 2 instead and I think this might be the last one. Unfortunately, Simon couldn't join us but we managed to scrounge up a last minute replacement so we still had four players. I know I have only played this twice but I also played Pax Pamir 1 five times and I see some of the issues I had with that here as well. Mind you, it's still a good game but it is far from the heights of Pax Porfiriana to me. My issue is that out of the 7 plays several have ended with prolongued periods of stagnancy where everyone or most of the players are locked down due to the hard limits on cards in the tableaux and no cards in the market that can change it. I our game three of us were forced to change our alignment to save the game but that also meant discarding cards that let us have a larger tableaux so instead of losing we ended in a long period of stalemate where nothing much happened. One player had two cards with a total of three purple stars which meant he had many more options than the rest of us, including the actions on his cards of course. Needless to say that he won the game. I like the narrative and the setting and much about the game is good but I'd just rather play Porfiriana so I may sell this one in my upcoming purge.


Board Game: Dealt!

 8   Krass Kariert NEW!
After Pax Pamir we finally got to play Krass Kariert. We had talked about it for a couple of months but this time we also managed to get it played. It's fun, it's a lot of fun. Highlight of the game was when one player had a great hand - so great that he showed it to us all and bragged about it. And then went on to lose that round. This is definitely a keeper.


Board Game: Conquest of Paradise

 6   Conquest of Paradise NEW!
As mentioned above, CoP arrived during the week. I managed to find the time to read the rules while Lærke and Lauge napped and then asked if Lærke wanted to play it with me. She accepted but mainly to please me I fear. She really did not like it. Not so much hate it as feeling absolutely nothing. So she wanted to end the game sooner than later to clear the table and when I kept drawing open ocean tiles and she kept getting nice and juicy islands forcing me to attack her, the feeling of indifference turned to dislike. Perhaps because I was under the impression that it was less a wargame than a push your luck exploration game. I too was surprised by how big the war element is. Contrary to her though I do not mind it. My initial rating might be skewed by her experience but I also did think it felt a bit light and that is has positioned itself between two chairs. More plays will tell. John, at which player count should I try it next?



Games that left my collection this month: Secret Hitler and 1846: The Race for the Midwest.

Games that entered my collection this month: The Princes of Florence, Paths of Glory, Cataclysm: A Second World War and Conquest of Paradise.

Unplayed games in my collection: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Napoleon's Triumph, Turning Point: Stalingrad, Pizza Master, Ligny 1815: Last Eagles, Autumn for Barbarossa, Dubbe, Nakanuki Paradise, PQ-17: Arctic Naval Operations 1941-1943, Lords of the Sierra Madre (Second Edition), Zimbabweee Trick, Triumph & Tragedy, The Princes of Florence, Paths of Glory and Cataclysm: A Second World War.
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13. Board Game: Obsession: Upstairs, Downstairs [Average Rating:8.47 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.47 Unranked]
Board Game: Obsession: Upstairs, Downstairs
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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No gaming last week other than some Yahtzee on Sam's phone, but we went to the Downton Abbey movie on Saturday, and I backed Upstairs, Downstairs.
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14. Video Game: Anthem [Average Rating:4.57 Overall Rank:7102]
Video Game: Anthem
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Anthem

I've gone over to the dark side. Well, I'm fighting for the light side, but it's in a video game so as far as the board gaming community is concerned, I've gone to the dark side.

In other words, I spent my evenings this past week playing the video game Anthem and not a single board game hit the table. That's not to say I ignored the hobby altogether, I did follow last week's list, and updated my Essen watch list and even check the latest games to appear at my online stores. But not much else.

Anthem is an online multiplayer action role-playing video game that is set in a place called Bastion. Players assume the role of "Freelancers", a loose band of adventurers who wear powerful exosuits to defend humanity from the threats beyond the walls Fort Tarsis.

It can be played solo or with up to three other players cooperatively. I've been playing mostly cooperatively with a coworker (and sometimes one other) and also with total strangers.

The game is apparently a bit of a bust as far as being the blockbuster that EA and Bioware were expecting. It was probably released prematurely, but I missed all the growing pains. What they have now is a decent FPS with some gorgeous graphics. And for the $20, I invested in it, well worth the money.


The Week Ahead

Almost certainly more Anthem. Hopefully, S will tear me away for an evening or two to play a board game (but I think she's using the lull to catch up on her TV series and her reading).

Unplayed games of note in shrink: 18Lilliput, Maria, Francis Drake, German Railways, Tikal and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

Unplayed games not in shrink: Mottainai.
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15. Board Game: This War of Mine: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:148]
Board Game: This War of Mine: The Board Game
Simon Agner Holm
Denmark
Aarhus C
Danmark
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Board Game: This War of Mine: The Board Game
Board Game: Throne and the Grail
Board Game: Elements
Board Game: Hive
Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Board Game: Leo


Homestand
 8   Throne and the Grail x4
 8   Elements x4
This week was a Gloomhaven week in the in-house game group and unlike the week before in which only one other person showed up, we where 6 to attend this time around. As Gloomhaven only plays up to 4 and some of the folks seemed really really eager to continue their campaign, two of us volunteered to sit out and play 2p games instead.

So I taught Brian Throne and the Grail and after and half a game he was hooked. But after 4 loses in a row he was ready for something else so I pulled out Elements. We played a single hand learning game and then proceeded to play three "best of 3" games.
Eventhough Brian didn´t win a single hand of any game the whole night I think he enjoyed himself.

Digital
 8   Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization x2
Since the digital release of the new expansion we been playing a bunch of TTA on the app. 2 of these games where with live with friends and hence qualify to be logged. I really do like this new expansion, more than I thought I would. Its super easy to understand and integrate but the new abilities certainly change the game up in subtle but interesting ways. Using a random assortment of old and new leaders/wonders adds a nice new dimension to the game.

Miscellaneous
 9   This War of Mine: The Board Game
After realising that there is a second expansion coming at Essen SPIEL I sat down for a solo play This War of Mine. From a storytelling point of view this game is astonishing however even-though the gameplay doesn´t scale with player count I significantly prefer playing it with others. It is a lot easier to "game" and detach yourself from the tough moral choices when there is no one around to discuss them with.
The upcoming expansion is campaign-based and I might get it if the in-house gaming group is interested in playing it.

 9   Hive
 6   Leo
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16. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #3: Scandinavia and Korea [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #3: Scandinavia and Korea
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

10 Age of Steam (+Scandinavia)
9 Gloomhaven (+Forgotten Circles)
7 Clank! (+The Mummy's Curse; Brawn vs Boots; Dire Wolf; Snack Table; Wand of Time)
7 Gaia Project
7 Ganz schön clever

In our Age of Steam: Scandinavia game, there weren't many good options for initial track builds and I was lucky to get one without interference. It provided a headstart which gave me the income to win later auctions, when the Ferry action was crucial to my opponents' profitability. I was able to make some small use of that action myself but the main reason to pick it was to deny it to them and maintain a stranglehold. I love how the Scandinavia map has useless hexes for geographical accuracy (south of Visby, for example).

Our second Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles scenario was going well until we encountered a puzzle part-way through. It took time to decode the text, then we were presented with a riddle. It was clearly going to take some time to solve but one player needed to head home at a reasonable hour so we assumed we'd solved it and finished the rest of the scenario. Now, in between sessions, we're going to look at it more closely and solve it for real (hopefully). I was happy to see this scenario did something different and unusual but the unpredictable length of time it would take doesn't really suit how we play the game.

I found Gaia Project more frustrating in my second play than my first. Perhaps it's toddler-induced lack of sleep but I felt there were too many rules to keep in mind over Terra Mystica. It went very long at 3.5 hours. To me it's a bloated version of Terra Mystica and while I can see there are additional decisions to make, I prefer the cleaner design of the original (hardly a model of streamlined design itself).

In Clank!: The Mummy's Curse, Kate bought an early Magic Carpet and flew to the bottom of the Sphinx dungeon, grabbing the 30 VP artifact and lots of Secrets on the way. I felt there was no catching up after that but she left the dungeon too early and I had time to grab a few more points. I had also been lucky with my Secrets draws, as they were all worth points. Avoiding being cursed by the Mummy helped too.
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