GCL Phoenix 463: The Story in Your Eyes (2019-11-17)
Lo
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British Columbia
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Welcome to the Phoenix GameChat League!

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

Active Phoenixes:
Simon (Agner)
Robert (BankofDracula) New!
Jeremy (familygaming)
Alison (grasa_total)
Carol (indigopotter)
John (John Rogers)
Karl (karlfast)
Michael (Lowengrin)
Adley (mirror33)*
Dave (rynelf)
Morten (Tigrillo)
Rich (woodnoggin)

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

* Next week’s host.

Introduction
Before I introduce this week's topic, let me be the first to welcome Robert (BankofDracula) to our group. He's been a long-time commentributer, who'll now have the pleasure of posting an item as well.

This week, the topic is narratives in gaming. As I've been writing a narrative for the games that I've been playing recently, it seems like something we could discuss as a group.

A special thanks to Morten actually suggested the topic. I was too busy playing to think of one on my own.
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1. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:932]
Board Game: Fairy Tale
Lo
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How important is narrative for you in gaming? Does it matter to you if a story develops from the game you are playing?

Are there any games you play that encourage a collective story-telling? Are these open, sandbox type games or do they have a linear story? Or something between the two? And are they for you?
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2. Board Game: Lost in Narration [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Lost in Narration
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I like playing with others who narrate their turns. When someone explains the steps their doing, I find myself more engaged than when someone just does their thing in silence (or, worse, does it while telling me what they did on the weekend!)

Are you someone who likes the narrative to match the actions? Or are you more interested in your opponent's weekend?
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3. Board Game: Careers [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:5540]
Board Game: Careers
Lo
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Even in preadolescence, I liked games that told stories. Careers was one. It told a story based on life choices (and did it much better than The Game of Life). Risk was another. Nothing like a narrative like global war and domination.

What games from your childhood do your remember playing that had strong narratives? Did playing those games shape your adult interest in gaming?
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4. Board Game: The War Game [Average Rating:8.29 Unranked]
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One game that changed my whole gaming story wasn't even a game, but a hard cover book. The War Game, written by Charles Grant, was published in 1971. It's an introduction to miniature wargaming that weaves rules and after-action reports into the narrative.

In junior high school, it turned me from board gamer to miniature wargamer over night. In much the same way, Dungeons & Dragons turned me into an RPGer for many years (from high school) and Saint Petersburg got me into "modern" gaming (in my forties).

What's your gaming story? (Let's get Robert up to speed on us all. And us on him.)

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5. Board Game: Rotation [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Rotation
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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mirror33 - Adley - 24th November
rynelf - Dave - 1st December
Tigrillo - Morten - 8th December
woodnoggin - Rich - 15th December
Agner - Simon - 22nd December
BankofDracula - Robert - 29th December
familygaming - Jeremy - 5th January
grasa_total - Alison - 12th January
indigopotter - Carol - 19th January
John Rogers - John - 26th January
karlfast - Karl - 2nd February
Lowengrin - Michael - 9th February
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6. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:579]
Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph
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Not Quite Triumphant Monday
Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph

7  Napoleon's Triumph x1 New!

What can I say, I lost as Napoleon. I may have done better if we'd not goofed up a couple rules. I may have even enjoyed it better, because it'd have been more what I was expecting in terms of wearing down the enemy before finally breaking them. We didn't read the rule about taking casualties close enough and it meant we weren't taking them first from our lead unit (and therefore keeping our best units for use over and over when they should have been worn down). That and the rule about declaring the combat over a wide or narrow front.

Still, both JR and I would like to play it again. He thinks we can bang out a game one week night, but I'm not so sure.


Solo in Saxony
Board Game: Napoleon's Resurgence

7  Napoleon's Resurgence x3 New!

I can't help but compare Napoleon's Resurgence to Ligny 1815: Last Eagles. They share a lot in common and it's pretty obvious to me that the designer of the latter must have played/studied the former. For example, the treatment of chateaus and other fortified locations is just so similar (in that anything in the space other than infantry negates/reduces the bonus of the chateau). It's just so specific that the one game system must have influenced the other.

As for differences, the game scale is one. A hex in Napoleon's Resurgence is about 500m whereas one in Ligny 1815: Last Eagles is 250m. Units in Napoleon's Resurgence are usually brigades (usually three infantry battalions or a similar number of cavalry squadrons). In Ligny 1815: Last Eagles, they're usually a battalion or a squadron.

What this means for actual gameplay is that Napoleon's Resurgence's combat doesn't distinguish between firing and melee. Although there are bombardment rules for artillery, infantry do not have special fire phase as they do in Ligny 1815: Last Eagles.

Napoleon's Resurgence's combat is relatively bloodless. Units most commonly "die" when they're forced to retreat but they're obstructed (usually surrounded by enemy units). Otherwise they just retreat. Ligny 1815: Last Eagles is a much more bloody affair.

The other difference is the treatment of "zones of control" (ZOC) or the hexes surrounding a unit. In Napoleon's Resurgence, and EZOC (Enemy ZOC) prevents any further movement. In Ligny 1815: Last Eagles, a unit can't move through an EZOC, but it can move out of it.

And if a unit is in an EZOC in the combat phase, they must attack in Napoleon's Resurgence, they may attack in Ligny 1815: Last Eagles. The former game becomes a bit of a shoving match, with each side pushing on the other unable to fully disengage unless forced to retreat along the whole line.

All in all, Napoleon's Resurgence feels much more old school and it's artillery rules (with bombardment and counter-battery fire) just a bit more clunky. But, surprisingly enough, it plays fast; faster even than Ligny 1815: Last Eagles in spite of the latter having much more streamlined rules.


The Week Ahead
I will probably shift over to Quatre Bras 1815: Last Eagles this week - now that I have the PDFs for the setups and the combat charts. (Cardstock replacements are coming in the mail this week.)

Other than that, I have nothing planned. No, I lie. On Sunday, in the memory of Francis Tresham, a few of us are getting together to play 1853.

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: Quatre Bras 1815: Last Eagles and Mottainai.
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7. Board Game: Vivaldi [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:12610]
Board Game: Vivaldi
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 16Nov2019:

10/20/355 plays of 5/9/186 total games, with 5/5/39 expansions employed.
Plays with 9/15/106 distinct opponents.

2/2/38 games acquired (plus 0/1/22 expansions.) - Napoleon's Triumph and Hats.
0/0/1 games sold/traded (plus 0/0/2 expansions.)
0/2/34 games ordered (plus 0/0/7 expansions.)
Orders for 13 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.

With son #2:
Board Game: Hats

image by Xoul

1x _7⅓_ Hats New!

We play to a tie - and in less than 10 minutes. But the game is (subjectively at least: it probably isn't, since this both of our first play) well-fought and amusing. He thinks he's willing to play it again. (More, when I talked to him about it today he claimed it was fun.)


With the Wednesday night gang:
Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Board Game: Caverna: The Forgotten Folk
Board Game: Caverna: The Forgotten Folk – Adventurers Promo
Board Game: Caverna: The Forgotten Folk – Halflings promo
Board Game: Caverna: Water Expansion

images by W Eric Martin(x2), mborda, nangariel and TheLegoPirate

1x _8_ Caverna (19 total plays) (with Forgotten Folk, Adventurers New!, Halflings New! and Water tiles)

Turns out the Adventurers and Halflings are both pretty hard. I was a bit embarrassed (we tend to deal two Folk to each player, and permit a choice. I was dealt the Elves and Humans, and went with the latter because I'd done rather poorly on my last play with the Elves) with my choice of Humans, since they were comparatively easy.

So we've decided that whoever won the most recent game of Caverna doesn't get to choose their Folk: the rest of the table gets to choose for them.

(The other thing I find myself pondering after this game is that turn order seems rather important. So Tim and I - who both consider going first something to strive for - mutate the table differently when we're adjacent (like we were in this game) than when we're seated across the table from each other.)

Board Game: Hats

image by Xoul

1x _7⅓_ Hats (2 total plays)

One of the four packs it in early (ish. Well, earlier than the rest of us.) So we play a 3p Hats as a nightcap. It's again entertaining and fun.


With the Lunch@work group:
Board Game: Hats

image by Xoul

3x _7⅓_ Hats (5 total plays)

This was a bit unfortunate. I won all three. Which didn't encourage my esteemed opponent at all. He took it out on me (gently; kindly) by introducing me to...

Board Game: Heptalion
Board Game: Heptalion additional boards

images by nestorgames(x2)

1x _7⅓_ Heptalion New! (with additional boards New!)

...this combinatorially difficult (for me: wouldn't surprise me at all if others could imagine it satisfactorily) tile-placement game.

It was really cute; and I enjoyed it. But I'm nearly certain it'd be less work for me to write code to play well than to actually play well myself.


With cool folk at Gamesday:
Board Game: Babylonia

image by dramaplastika

1x _7⅔_ Babylonia (7 total plays)

This was lovely: I'd won my last few plays, and this dropped me back very close to the dead last position I'd enjoyed for my first three games. Definitely more to learn, I think.

Board Game: Hats

image by Xoul

1x _7⅓_ Hats (6 total plays)

This was my first play with 4. Definitely a different feel with 4 than with 2 or 3; and still quite entertaining, I think.

Board Game: Vivaldi

image by maruXV

1x _8_ Vivaldi (2 total plays)

Subjectively, this was a huge success. Might have just been a fortuitous match with a particular group of folk, but we enjoyed ourselves a lot. And while I don't begrudge (well, yet!) any of my Spiel acquisitions, (and acknowledge that this is 'just' a slightly tweaked classic public domain game) it's still a really fine little game for 5€. (And, particularly for me, when the public domain game wasn't one I'd ever previous seen.)


Owned-and-unplayed: 1 (+2/-1) - Hats arrived and was played; Napoleon's Triumph was acquired.
Owned-and-played-once: 98 (+1/-2) - Hats was played twice; Vivaldi was played for a second time.

Outlook for the week: Probably won't get Napoleon's Triumph played (though it looks really pretty on my dining room table.) I expect some lunch gaming this week; a play or two with the Wednesday Night gang; possibly something with son #2. And then my older kids arrive home next weekend for Thanksgiving break (yay!) so there might be something silly like Tales of the Arabian Nights in my future, too.
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8. Board Game: Yokohama [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:100]
Board Game: Yokohama
Robert
Canada
Ottawa
ON
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Games played between November 11th and 17th

Board Game: Tiefe Taschen
Board Game: Yokohama
Board Game: Coup
Board Game: Pairs
Board Game: Tapestry
Board Game: Undaunted: Normandy
Board Game: Jacynth


 8   Tiefe Taschen (4 all-time)
 8   Yokohama (3 all-time)
 7   Coup x2 (29 all-time)
 7   Pairs (26 all-time)
 6   Tapestry x2 NEW!
 5   Undaunted: Normandy NEW!
 N/A   Jacynth NEW!


With students in the game club + With our children

Two weeks ago, one of the students admitted that he was familiar with contemporary games, rattling off names such as Agricola, Dead of Winter and Avalon. We only have an hour available for the club, and since this guy skewed towards social deduction games, I introduced him and the other students to Coup. My son O was with me on this day (he had a PD day) so he showed the students how the game is played by assassinating his father. So proud!

With other adults

During the week, N and I tried Undaunted: Normandy, which I should have known would not be a game for us. For me deckbuilding works best when the game develops like a soup simmering on the stove top. But our intro scenario was over in 10 minutes or less, ending abruptly as N drew an entire hand of useless fog of war cards while I moved in for the final capture. It didn't help that neither of us felt a connection between what we were doing and who we were supposed to be in the game.

Tapestry was only marginally better. It's harmless fun that I won't mind playing again, but I really felt constrained as far as what I could do to implement a long term strategy. And worse for me at least, the theme, setting and conceit in Tapestry, all of which are normally important for my enjoyment, really feel nonsensical here.

One pleasant surprise for us during the week was how well Yokohama plays with just two people. Three is still my favourite player count though.

The weekend game group ballooned to nine people. It unfortunately include two people who insisted we play as one large group even if it meant forcing people to play in teams. They also refused to play anything with more than a page of rules, so you know, party games. As the person who has to bring all of the games and then teach them, this was a bit of a problem because I don't have a lot of party games. But we made do with Pairs, Tiefe Taschen and Coup, which again I played once and then sat out for the rest of the evening.
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9. Board Game: Triumvirate [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2749]
Board Game: Triumvirate
The Mirror
United States
New York
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Board Game: Neue Heimat
 8.5   Neue Heimat x2
I love this stupid thing. Wait! Actually it’s not stupid, it’s dynamic, and cruel and thrillingly volatile. Nice to finally get this to the table this calendar year. It was a pair of 3p games back to back with J and N. The first round (teaching) I’d forgotten all of my old tricks, luckily that meant that N was able to win in the face of J’s zero-company chaos creation. First game went 12-9-(-11) with me losing on the chaos flop. N needs to win to feel like the game is to his liking so that’s good, because aside from that annoying trait he’s a wonderfully thoughtful and competitive gamer. The second round I was able to right the ship and I was playing with more intention which meant punishing both J and N mercilessly and eking out the win as the only player with positive points. We played with the zero-multiplier roofs, and alt game end condition of 12 roofs placed. As a relatively new gamer, it’s been nice over the past few weeks to see that my sense of what I like has started to become more reliable, as I’m still feeling quite positively about games I rated highly over a year ago. A year prior I think I was less discerning with regards to games that will hold my esteem over time.

Board Game: Exceed Fighting System
 7.5   Exceed Fighting System x3
FINALLY, I found an opponent in J who likes this game! He even suggested that he might buy more fighters which I was surprised by since J is always willing to play a game with me, but he’s never shown interest in procuring any (he’s mostly a video gamer). Anyway, he’s one of two people I know that I was hoping might be interested and I’m glad to see that it’s true. I got my first win in too! But just one. I’m clearly not very good at this game, but I still enjoy myself.

Board Game: Triumvirate
 7.5   Triumvirate x3 NEW!
And, finally, this! So we played our first two games (best 2 out of 3) with a rule wrong. We were shuffling all of the remaining cards and re-dealing between hands. It was actually not at all a bad game that way, but our third play we corrected for that, and it becomes more tense. I’m interested to see how much tactical and strategic space there really is in this game, but I will say that it does give me that *feeling* of potential. I’m a bit curious about the drafting variant. The variant with swapping a card during the pledge seems interesting as well. That advanced scoring variant was too opaque for me to understand really. That said, as Hanibal suggests, the vanilla rule set is pretty wonderful. I can easily see this rising in my esteem with further play. A likes it too and ultimately, I’m pretty sure I’d put this above Maskmen for 2p at least, which means that it’s possible that we’ve finally after 4 years of (only me) trying (and her pandering), we may have found “our game.” Thank the D_gs! My only knock on it at the moment, is with the vanilla rules, once we’ve pledged our 3 cards, it seems like it’s a bit procedural playing out the remaining cards, and trying to assure that your opponent doesn’t get what they (fairly obviously) need.


______________________________________________


Unplayed games of note: 1849, 18CZ, Angola, A Study in Emerald (First Edition), Balance of Powers, The Bridges of Shangri-La, Cartagena, Clans, Clippers, Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62, Conspiracy, Die Dolmengötter, Dutch InterCity, Kogge, Meridian, Modern Art, Mü & Lots More, Napoleon’s Triumph, Paths of Glory, Rolling Stock, Shadows of Malice, and Villa Paletti

Only played once, games of note: 1714: The Case of the Catalans, 1860, Cataclysm, Here I Stand, Indonesia, Junkie, Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town, and Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648
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10. Board Game: Catacombs (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:717] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
Board Game: Catacombs (Third Edition)
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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7  KLASK (70 all-time)
7  Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan (6 all-time)
6  Commands & Colors: Medieval (15 all-time)
8  Catacombs (Third Edition) (3 all-time)

Well no reason to do good, bad, ugly this week. I don’t feel there is really anything for the latter two categories this go around. That’s a good thing.

That said, Medieval continues to be less interesting me. The play still feels rather redundant (impervious mounted clashes). I stand by my earlier comments that this may look like Ancients but feels more like the Mediterranean tank battles of Memoir 44. On a similar note I am settling into an admire-but-not-love relationship with Sekigahara. It’s a solid design but plays continue to feel rather samey with blips of nuance rather than bangs of it. A quick shout out to Klask which continues to be fun on occasion with the kids.

Now, onto the very surprising Catacombs which continues to confound me. I am really enjoying this. Yes it’s long, but it doesn’t feel like it. Yes it’s fiddly, though with more familiarity it’s nicely smoothing out. Yes it’s icon heavy (which I typically hate) yet for some reason I kinda get it here. It reminds me of Root in that I should not like it. I am not a DnD-RPG-fantasy fan. I eschew fiddle and icons. I don’t dig most co-ops or team-based games. And yet, to claim that Catacombs isn’t charming me would be a lie. I am very amused by the experience it facilitates and continue to look forward to more sessions and (gulp) more expansions.


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11. Board Game: Res Arcana [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:143]
Board Game: Res Arcana
What a week. Everything that was not already in a box was put in a box, Lauge was ill for the first time all along making things a lot harder and Friday I got a crick in my lower back from juggling Lauge making it even harder still. Fortunately, we had professional movers Sunday so I did not have to lift much. Everything is still in boxes and I really have no idea what we'll do with all the kitchen utensils and foodstuff we have because the kitchen is smaller than in our old flat. Every free moment this week will be spent unboxing and figuring out how to place furniture etc. Still no internet at home so you won't see me much here I'm afraid.


Board Game: Res Arcana

 7   Res Arcana (3 all-time)
I played this twice at a con in the spring and for a long time felt comfortable not owning it but as we played Jump Drive more and I felt more and more burnt out on that I thought Res Arcana might be a good swap even though it's longer and has a shitty setting for me. So on Thursday, Lauge and me went down to a local boardgame shop and bought ourselves a copy. During a break when Lauge was asleep, Lærke and I sat down and played it. Lærke mentioned a couple of times she was surprised I would get that kind of game. I expect she thought of the setting too. I had given her one of the starter hands and I just 8 random cards from the deck. I had the dragon bridle and 3 dragons in it but not many options for getting ressources so I decided to use those cards for discarding so I could get ressources for my gold engine. My engine was way too slow for Lærke's death engine once it got started so she beat me handsomely 14-6. She was not overly keen on the game but let's see after a few plays.




Games that left my collection this month: Nothing yet.

Games that entered my collection this month: Dadaocheng, Res Arcana and De Vulgari Eloquentia - it's the new deluce edition but I refuse to add that to my list when it's the same game as the one I used to have.

Unplayed games in my collection: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight, Napoleon's Triumph, Turning Point: Stalingrad, Ligny 1815: Last Eagles, Autumn for Barbarossa, Dubbe, Nakanuki Paradise, PQ-17: Arctic Naval Operations 1941-1943, Lords of the Sierra Madre (Second Edition), Triumph & Tragedy, The Princes of Florence, Paths of Glory, Cataclysm: A Second World War, Joffre, Greed Incorporated, Mice and Mystics, Big Shot, Happy Hour, King Thief Minister, Yin Yang, The King's Will, Promenade, Mauwi and Dadaocheng.
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12. Board Game: Q.E. [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:1107]
Board Game: Q.E.
Karl Fast
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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NEW GAME GROUP

I'm working to start a local game group in my area. The key criteria are (a) regular group, (b) within a 20 minute walk of my house, (c) for grownups and not a family game night. I've got gaming friends in town but I'd like to develop friendships with people right here in my neighborhood.

I've got six people, plus myself, with the idea that most nights we'll only have 4-5 people who can make it. And if they all show up we'll play 7 Wonders, Wits & Wagers, The Resistance, and so forth. Only one of them is seriously into the hobby and on BGG, with the rest being more casual but interested.

Everyone in the group, save one, is a parent. That's the opposite of my other gaming friends in the twin cities, the majority of whom are either single, or childless, or both. But this group is the opposite and, for them, part of the appeal is getting out of the house, doing something that is not about work or being a parent, and not having to drive somewhere. If my place is at the center, two people live on my block, two more within two blocks, and the other two within a twenty minute walk. Perfect!

We had four of us for the first night. Here was the inaugral play list.


 6   Fantasy Realms NEW! - A quick drafting game where you are looking to combo. Generic fantasy. Simple rules. I really liked this. Only a 6 for now, but with more plays this will probably become an 8.

 6   Winner's Circle NEW! - I had never played this but picked a cheap copy of the Dice Tree deluxe edition. This was good and reminiscent of Camel Cup, but felt slower, and less chaotic. I liked it but I'm not sure if I will ever love it. In retrospect, I might like Camel Cup more.

 8   Q.E. - The hit of the night. Opening bid was $125 million. Later bids ranged from $1000 to in the hundreds of billions. The final company bid started at $1 trillion. Everyone loved it. This game is fantastic.

 8   Ra - This was requested and I had not played in years. Still solid.


OTHER PLAYS

My monthly game day was the weekend before, so much to report on.

 9   Baseball Highlights: 2045 – Super Deluxe Edition x5 - We are nearing the end of the online Mudville Season 3 tournament. I'm in the east division and am a lowly 3-8 with 5 games to go. Ugh. But I've been improving, having won 2 of my last 4, and if I win out I would likely still get the wildcard spot in the playoffs. Yeah, right.

 8   For Sale x6 NEW! - Big hit. Introduced this to a family we spend lots of time with. They loved it so much, even the kids, that we played it five times in a row. My son was fascinated and requested 3 more games the next morning.

 8   Glory to Rome - I was a runaway leader, but couldn't close out the game, and wound up tied for first place at 28, but lost on the tiebreaker!

 8   メトロックス (MetroX) x3 - Until now all my plays were on the original map. We played the flip side and then the first 2 maps of the expansion. All in a row. The other maps are terrific. Still Metro-X and don't change much, but force you to think in other ways. This and Fleet: The Dice Game are my favorite roll-and-writes, with Kokoro as close third.

 6   Paladins of the West Kingdom NEW! - One play, three of us were new, and I kinda liked it. There is a lot going on here and it seemed overwhelming at first. But it clicked about a third of the way through and I came in a close second against someone who had played the game five times already (that was a surprise). Even so, this is only a six because it has so many things going on that I can't see myself playing it very much. Nice art, nice mechanics, all bound up, and a very good design. I liked it more that Architects, but not a game that speaks to me.
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13. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:24]
Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game
Simon Agner Holm
Denmark
Aarhus C
Danmark
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Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game
Board Game: Spyfall
Board Game: Mascarade
Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition)


 9   Mage Knight Board Game
So last week I had a night by myself so I decided to pull out Mage Knight for a grandiose solo adventure. I played a 6 round campaign of "Volkare´s Return" and it was great. I am sure I got a few rules wrong since I been some time since I last played but it was very satisfying. That being said I still think this is way better as a 2 or 3 player competitive game.

Also speaking of narratives in game Mage Knight has a whole dang lot of it.

Homestand
 6   Spyfall x3
 9   Mascarade x2
 N/A   Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition)
This week 7(!!) people showed up for game night and since nobody (other than me) was into the idea of splitting into two tables we played some bigger social games. Fine by me I got to play some Mascarade for the first time in a little while
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14. Board Game: Tsuro: Phoenix Rising [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:5801]
Board Game: Tsuro: Phoenix Rising
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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I am the proud owner of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising!

From gallery of indigopotter


I told Sam that since I had already gotten Suburbia, he should keep back the largest wrapped present for Christmas, but he said to open them.

Glen More II: Chronicles
My Happy Farm
De Stijl
Dairyman
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15. Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:70]
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Last week's plays:

-10- Age of Steam (+Vermont New!)
-8- The 7th Continent (+Comfort Creatures; The Forbidden Sanctuary; What Goes Up, Must Come Down)
-8- Letter Jam (x2)
-8- Maracaibo
-7- Abluxxen
-7- Flamme Rouge (+Peloton)
-7- Guess Club (x2)
-7- KeyForge: Age of Ascension New!
-7- KeyForge: Call of the Archons
-6.5- Die Crew New!
-6- #MyLife New!
-6- Ecos: First Continent New!
-6- Everdell New!
-6- Point Salad (x2)
-6- Tapestry New!
-6- Yukon Airways New!
-5.5- Ligretto New!
-5.5- The Mind Extreme New!
-5- Combo Fighter New!
-5- The Magnificent New!
-5- Northern Pacific New!
-4- Bus New!

Lots of new games played at London on Board's seaside convention, some of which I'd even be happy to play again.

Bus didn't click with me. It's very spatial, which I usually have no problem with, but requires planning ahead in the face of unpredictable opponents. The possible outcomes became overwhelming to assess, at least if I wanted to keep the game moving. I felt like I was playing one of those abstracts you can win because your opponent failed to notice something important. The sort where you need to look many moves ahead or your opponent will capitalise on your oversight and your game falls apart.

Another player in this game clearly disliked it more than me but said afterwards he would rate it a 6. I was surprised that our rating systems were so out of alignment.

One thing I wondered, and perhaps Bus fans can enlighten me, is how you could use the "Stop Time" action to your own advantage. I can see how it would mess up other players' deliveries by keeping passengers where they were last turn. To help your own game, you'd need to have access to passengers and/or destinations which weren't available last turn and enough of them to offset the -1VP stopping time gives you. That seems like it would take a lot of actions. Is it ever viable?

I need to play Yukon Airways again to form a solid opinion of it. This play was very definitely a learning game. Despite it being at the lighter end of Euro games, there are enough moving parts that it didn't feel entirely intuitive and it took longer than we had hoped (1hr 45). I like that you can customise your special abilities to determine a strategy while the heart of the game remains a straightforward dice draft. I'm curious as to whether there are certain sets of upgrades which work together so well as to be automatic choices (i.e. baked-in paths to victory). If not, then how the dice fall and the cards you draw must play a big part in determining your overall plan, and that would make the game a lot more interesting, reacting to opportunities rather than going in with a fixed plan. Still, the game is charming and was clearly a labour of love - see the designer notes in the rulebook or his Designer Diary here on BGG.

Northern Pacific is so slight I could take it or leave it. It's likely not at it's best with six players due to the chaos of five other players taking actions between your next turn but I doubt I'll try it again with fewer. It's a boiled down game of shared incentives which is either very clever or very stupid. The purity of the game play is sullied when group think and metagaming get involved and it becomes more about interpersonal negotiation. By that I mean, although it feels like decisions should be taken based on where the cubes are on the board, in fact it ends up coming down to verbal goading and cajoling: "Don't give him points, move the train here!" I had a nice time playing it, but that didn't have much to do with the game in front of us.

Guess Club with the same group (plus one) was more fun. It was amazing how George and Ricky both wrote down the same six biblical characters, and also how none of the other six players wrote Superman for the category of "comic book heroes and villains". Bah!

The Magnificent is The Princes of Florence for the Kickstarter Age. Put on performances by renowned artists who demand certain shaped buildings to be present in your tableau. They'll give you money and points as a reward. The auction is replaced with a dice draft with higher value dice costing you more money. PoF's Prestige cards are present in the form of scoring cards, also drafted, but they have additional powers on them, mostly around dice manipulation. These are all familiar ingredients, combined in a modern recipe but it's nothing new or exciting.

I was introduced to Ecos: First Continent as "Gamer Bingo". As resource tiles are pulled from the bag, you mark off spaces on cards which need those resources. Once a card is full, you activate it. Card abilities typically affect the board or help you complete other cards. The board play is quite interesting, with players building up a shared continent, adding trees, mountains and animals to it and scoring them in various ways. You need to pay attention to other players' scoring cards as that will affect how you want the map to develop and maybe you can leech off their hard work with a similar scoring card of your own. Unfortunately, this can be hard to follow as there are a lot of cards on the table in front of everyone. In my learning game, we had a couple of shock scoring cards, including one which brought the game to a sudden conclusion. Plans were cut short, incomplete and unrewarded. It's bound to happen on a first play but it left an unsatisfactory taste in the mouth. I would play it again, though, and try to be more aware of the endgame. There was talk of one starting card set being overpowered, so it's worth being aware of the strength of the hippos.

Tapestry might be Stegmaier's best game, but that's not saying much. It was pleasing finding combos between the various tracks we were moving up on and there are several factions with different powers to explore but there's not much depth. It and Everdell have the dubious feature of allowing players to be in different stages of the game from each other, and one can even complete the game while others are still playing. In both games we had a player leave for other commitments, we carried on without them and the game still worked. Neither player won, mind you, so finishing early appears to be a poor strategy.

More as I get chance to update this.

Update
Notes on the rest of the games:

Age of Steam: Vermont - two new players wanted to learn the game. I didn't have the base map with me but this one is fairly vanilla, and Markus and Frederic are seasoned gamers who can easily handle the few rules changes involved here. As a learning game, I think it was a success. As an actual competitive experience, not so much. The game was paused partway through for the LoBsterCon raffle, during which both my mitspielers won prizes but I was not so lucky. That's ZERO raffles won in EIGHT LoBsterCons attended. soblue

Still loving Letter Jam but I favour it with a full table. It's less fun having dummy players; I want to see what words other people can come up with.

Abluxxen is always a good time, while Flamme Rouge is still amazingly reminiscent of an actual cycle race, despite its simple rules. This one was a nail-biter, with cobblestones allowing stragglers to catch up but also disrupting the speed bursts of our Sprinters.

I was happy to get in two games of KeyForge, although one was with Age of Ascension decks and now I'm not sure how to log the plays. BGG's system for tracking this game is all over the place.

I tried Die Crew thinking it wouldn't be for me but it was surprisingly compelling. It's a co-operative trick-taking game with increasingly complex missions to attempt. We found it a bit too easy with three players, so I'd like to give it a go with four. I'm no trick-taking fan, but I can see how this game could be used as an introduction to the genre, to get new players thinking the right way and developing the skills needed for competitive trick-takers.

#MyLife is a quick, card drafting filler where most of the entertainment comes from narrating the events happening to your character.

Point Salad is not the sort of game that lends itself to extensive post-game commentary - the very opposite of the narrative-rich games talked about on this week's list. Notable here was my new high score of 90 when owning a pair of each vegetable paid off in spades.

I can't believe I'd never tried Ligretto before. It seems like something I should have encountered before now. George taught, and crushed, giving no quarter to the three new players at the table. As it's a speed recognition game, it's clearly something you can practise and become skilled at.

The Mind Extreme is the same as The Mind but now with two piles of cards to play on, one counting up, one counting down. Sometimes you have to play face down on one pile or other, which is challenging but pleasing when you pull it off. I forgot which direction one of the piles was going in and messed up one round, so we had to start that again. A bit of silliness.

Combo Fighter is glorified Paper, Scissors, Stone where you can chain cards together for bigger effects if you win the initial round. From this unassuming set of rules came an unexpectedly tense match. But if I want a two-player fighting game where I can learn the pros and cons of my deck, I'd choose Magic or KeyForge.

Maracaibo and The 7th Continent were both at home, before LoBsterCon. I didn't go in planning a rush strategy in Maracaibo, it just turned out to work for me. Tim was exasperated, saying that if the game is always going to involve someone rushing to its conclusion, then it wasn't a game for him. I know what he means; sometimes I'm in the mood for taking time and developing a wider strategy, not just doing what will win fastest (see also Race for the Galaxy).
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