GCL Mafia 469: Playerade
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly geeklist!

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• List any games played along with your thoughts/opinions.
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From gallery of UniversalHead
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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This list is dedicated to player aids that make games better. One of BGG's most invaluable resources has been its fan-made board game support content, particularly in years past when player aids were not often included with games. What fan-created player aids have you found particularly invaluable to making your gaming experiences better?
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Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Are there any games that have a particularly slick player aid included or integrated with the game?

Are there any games that desperately needed one?
 
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From gallery of ecargo
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Toot your own horn! Have you ever created a player aid, published or not? Have you ever thought about doing so?
 
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4. Board Game: Hack Trick: It's Hacking Time [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:7800]
Board Game: Hack Trick: It's Hacking Time
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Do you have any real-life player aids you use and refer to?
 
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5. Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game: Undead or Alive [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game: Undead or Alive
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Board Game: Dream Factory
Board Game: Dragon's Gold
Board Game: Coloretto
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game: Old Saloon
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game: Undead or Alive
Board Game: Ka Pai
Board Game: Inhabit the Earth
Board Game: Impact: Battle of Elements
Board Game: Fleet
Board Game: Warriors of Jogu: Feint
Board Game: Volo
Board Game: Roam
Board Game: Noctiluca
Board Game: Mandala
Board Game: Android: Netrunner


Dream Factory NEW!
Dragon's Gold (4 all-time)
Coloretto (18 all-time)
BANG! The Dice Game (24 all-time) + BANG! The Dice Game: Old Saloon (9 all-time) + BANG! The Dice Game: Undead or Alive NEW!
Ka Pai (Solo) NEW!
Inhabit the Earth (3 all-time)
Impact: Battle of Elements x3 (11 all-time)
Fleet (29 all-time)
Warriors of Jogu: Feint x2 NEW!
Volo x2 (8 all-time)
Roam NEW!
Noctiluca (5 all-time)
Mandala x2 (4 all-time)
Android: Netrunner (180 all-time)

I finally got a chance to try an old Knizia classic, Dream Factory (I'd actually lent my copy of Hollywood Golden Age to a friend and they taught it at our recent game night). It's pretty darn solid, the re-distribution of money made for an interesting consideration of which auctions to pursue and which ones to drop out of, and the initial Director auction along with the drafting phases ensured that players had enough overlap so that the auctions didn't get too lopsided. I have a feeling that if the rights to getting pictures of all the movie stars wasn't such a big hurdle, this would have remained in print in the US over the years (I think the game would lose something with the "fake" actors, I liked having the classic movie stars and directors in my Hollywood Golden Age edition).

I eagerly snapped up a copy of the second Bang Dice expansion, BANG! The Dice Game: Undead or Alive. I like the new duel dice in that they give you more opportunities to dole out damage to other players that's not limited by the range mechanic (kind of like the Duel cards in the original game), but the combination of getting hit for damage AND receiving Duel Damage tokens was rough (tokens which invalidate certain die faces for your next turn). Playing with the recommended second module from the new expansion felt like it should help even that out (a deck of Rage cards that *add* more symbols to your future turn that you draw from when you get hit for two damage in a row), but we had a hard time dealing with the upkeep. We didn't even bother with the Zombie module, which I hear may be a little janky. I liked the variety of the new modules, but it might be a little much for first time players.

I threw Ka Pai into my most recent White Goblin order (largely to justify the shipping price for getting Bali: Village of Tani) and took it for a solo spin. It's fine, nothing special to write home about. At least it's fast.

My regular gaming partner has been trying to figure out whether or not he likes Warriors of Jogu: Feint or not, and I got a chance to try the game for myself. At heart it's a simple base control game with asymmetric factions, but there are a few things that create additional twists. The first is that players are allowed to play to any base, but only two bases will count for that round, with each player drawing a card from their own base deck and looking at it privately to figure out which bases apply (the cards are both revealed after players have deployed their units). The second is that a players strength is determined by the values of their units at an active base multiplied by the value of the base (2-6). The third is that the game can end either with the player who wins the majority of rounds, or if any player runs out of morale (each unit has a printed morale cost and the player who loses the battle loses morale for every card they've played).

The game worked well enough; It wasn't really my cup of tea, though multiple plays saw me getting comfortable enough with the system that I was able to pull off a win. The base multiplier rule did seem to occasionally run counter to the morale system (when a player knew one of the bases was the 5 or 6 the potential bluffing almost didn't matter, it was always worth it to dump your entire hand into that base and damn the morale, as the numerical superiority from that one base outweighed trying to guess which other base was active that round). However, if this kind of game is your thing, I think it's a decent one to try.

And finally, I got a chance to try Laukat's newest, Roam. It had been compared favorably to an older game I like, Mykerinos, so I was very interested in getting it played. The overlap between the titles are cards/tiles that have spaces printed on them where players can put control markers, and once a card/tile is full then the player with the majority of markers gets it and it allows them extra actions/bonuses. I think this is Laukat's best small design since Eight-Minute Empire: Legends, and like Uwe I'm always glad when he goes back toward making compact games over his more beastly larger designs.

Players start with three character cards that let them lay down 2 or more tokens in a prescribed pattern (that very much CAN'T be rotated or mirrored, which felt like bullcrap but soon became apparent why that was). Once used a character flips face down, and the game has a refresh system sort of like Dragon's Gold where all your face down cards auto-flip face up when you run out of face-up cards, but you can also pay to re-flip cards when you still have face-up cards that scales based on your face-up cards.

The land cards you're placing markers on are characters with new and bigger placement patterns on the back (along with a VP value), and when you win them you add them to your tableau and give you more placement options. Players also get coins for placing on certain spaces, and those coins can be used to buy artifacts that give you some special powers or for special placements on certain cards (some cards have pieces with dotted lines in their patterns, which aren't placed normally but can be placed at cost for 2 coins each).

These patterns on the new cards get very baroque very quick, and I could see how not allowing players to rotate or mirror would be a requirement to keep the game moving quickly (players are also allowed to overlay patterns onto spaces that already have pieces on them or even partially off the board, with the proviso that only empty spaces on the board can receive their new placements). I found that the two player game seems to suffer from a spiral-up problem with the setup as-is: The advantage of getting new cards very quickly allows a player with more characters to drop more pieces, which lets them get more cards, etc. etc. While players with pieces on a card but not the majority do get a coin for their troubles, once a card has a majority of a player's pieces on them there's very little other players can do to change that. The 6 card setup for 2p was just too wide, and encouraged players to just bomb as much contiguous empty areas as possible, which really cut down on interaction.

Outside of that, it was a decent design. Not one I'm going to rush out and buy, but once I'll certainly play again.

Quick Hits

- Still awesome: Dragon's Gold, Coloretto, Inhabit the Earth, Fleet, Volo, and Mandala

- I got Noctiluca back out to the table, and while it was a pleasant play my regular gaming partner mentioned that there was a fairly basic heuristic to adhere to every turn in order to maximize points, which I think I agree with. I do like the game, but it's not a strategic powerhouse.

- Got another game of Android: Netrunner in, this time I built a deck around the Terminal Directive Shaper runner, and she was a ton of fun to play. She starts with a four card "NVRAM," which is essentially a second hand (you draw six and keep four prior to drawing your hand for the game), and you can spend a click to draw a card from your NVRAM on your turn. This allows for some much easier forward planning that Shaper absolutely needs to play well, and this combined with her program suite that focuses on hosting programs for no memory cost and bonuses for unused memory made for what felt like a really classic Shaper game. I lucked into a 5/3 agenda in a not very well protected remote and pulled out the win with late R&D dig assisted by the event card that allowed for additional access per unused memory. My partner played NBN and I was an idiot and forgot to priotize removing tags: I got Opus out in mid-game and he wiped out my credit pool with Closed Accounts because I was like "Ehhhh, I'll remove that tag next turn." Classic game.
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6. Board Game: The American Goldrush 1849 [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:15928]
Board Game: The American Goldrush 1849
Grant Johnson
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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7. Board Game: Zombie Kidz Evolution [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:863] [Average Rating:7.98 Unranked]
Board Game: Zombie Kidz Evolution
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Zombie Kidz Evolution x2
Galaxy Trucker
Imperius
Oceans (new!)


Zombie Kidz Evolution continues to have our attention. Lila insists we play enough games each sitting so that we can open an envelope, which is usually two if we hit an achievement each game. More interesting stuff coming out of the legacy content.

Galaxy Trucker was great as always. We included the new parts from the Big expansion and those were enjoyed by all. I particularly enjoyed the engine/shield/gun boosters.

Imperius did not go well. One of the players wasn't a fan from previous plays (I thought he was iffy on it but apparently not, he just disliked it) and the other guy who liked it previously was really frustrated because I got lucky and most of my cards popped out a couple of turns in a row.

I did get lucky but I felt like I played well too and shut down a couple of key scoring opportunities in one round, and secured a big score myself in the other. Won't be able to pull it back out with this group again.

Oceans was a big hit. There's a flow to this one since it includes much more player interaction pound for pound compared to evolution. Going Carnivore is never a precise and temporary strategy, now there's creatures feeding off other creatures left and right but it's a bit harder to go extinct.

It's also wilder in that there's this big deck of cards called "The Deep" with fantastical and scary evolution cards. Each card in this huge deck is unique and results in building a crazy creature that you aren't likely to see again on the next play. I'm hoping to play this again tomorrow night and try it with four.

On My Mind
I saw 1917 this weekend and absolutely loved it. I have a thing for long tracking shots and the entire film is edited in a way to appear as one. Totally tense throughout and thought the score and cinematography were splendid.

We also watched Life Itself, an Amazon film with Oscar Isaacs. He was the best part but overall I found the movie a bit underwhelming.

Don't have much on the burner in terms of television shows I'm currently watching. I did start watching one very promising new show though - The Outsider. This is based on a Stephen King story that I'm not familiar with, and the show stars Jason Bateman in an uncommon completely serious role. The premise is that he's a youth baseball coach and one his players is murdered. Multiple witnesses and evidence put Bateman as the number one suspect, however, other evidence places him many miles away at a teacher's conference at the same time.

I've had a major element of this show spoiled for me when I was googling something. If you plan on watching this I urge you to avoid reading anything about it.
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8. Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 [Average Rating:8.62 Overall Rank:2]
Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Joseph
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Very tired today. Gonna keep it simple.

Returned to Pandemic Legacy. Since losing our first game in in-game-January, we've been on a winning streak.

March
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This one was a bit weird. Needing to build military bases without a lot of explanation of "why". But I can kind of get a thematic sense of why they did that too. We switched out the dispatcher with the new guy that builds structures easily. Between that, the medic, and the quarantine specialist, we actually had an easy time. Red (our COdA) come up heavily in the infection deck, but I was able to keep it all under quarantine pretty easily. That made it very easy to eradicate a disease.


April
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wow, that's a lot of unlocks we got to. Asia is turning translucent on us. Thanks to BGG shits intentionally trying to spoil the game for people, the zombies I had heard about came up. It came up a lot sooner than I expected. But I've been very careful not to spoil that for the other players. We started this game with zero funding, due to our win streak. And we won again, but barely.


-------

It is very probable that the baby will be here this week. We're guessing after Kim's doc appointment on Tuesday afternoon, we'll be heading towards the hospital.

Edit/Update:
We are going in to have the baby tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

Update 2:
So had a rough night, and we went to the hospital at 2am. They decided to delay the cesarean until they normalized some things for Kim or some until some other numbers get worse.

We're kind of in a wait-and-see pattern. Kim is in the hospital for an undetermined number of days. I'll be in and out to visit her while I watch Lillian and possibly go back to work in the mean time.

No idea. I'm just tired and stressed.
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9. Board Game: City of the Big Shoulders [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:673]
Board Game: City of the Big Shoulders
Ambie
United States
San Mateo
California
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Board Game: City of the Big Shoulders


 N/A   City of the Big Shoulders

Played another 2p game of City of the Big Shoulders before my review/impressions. Toby was back at work though and didn't want to play so I made most of his moves for him and played over many nap sessions. He was first player though and had the appeal+2 building and took that first, so his company had first move again, so he won. Having first move seems really important (at least in the 2p game), and it doesn't really seem like the other player can come back from that. It was close, but only because I had the Toby player let the Ambie player get some of the game end bonuses. I also don't think we could play it in under an hour. Probably 90 minutes. It took ~30 minutes for me to play the 4th round, and there are 5 rounds. The later ones take a lot longer because there are more actions and more companies. I still liked the building up of the companies and the worker placement part, but the stock market was boring (especially in 2p). And at that length I'd rather play Arkwright or an 18xx.

Video games
- Downloaded and played Deltarune Chapter 1 for the Switch, since it was free. You're supposed to have played Undertale first, but that costs money so I didn't. But partway through playing I read the synopsis since I guess a bunch of Deltarune stuff refers to Undertale stuff (the name's an anagram, and so are a lot of the characters, and the gameplay/story is similar). I didn't particularly like the gameplay, but the story/idea was interesting. Undertale has different endings depending on how you play it, but I think Deltarune won't. I don't plan on playing the full game, but if I remember I might look up the synopsis to see what happens.

- I've played some more Phoenix Wright and I've still been going through Ring Fit. I'm on World 7 now. I'm planning on going back to earlier worlds and completing all the side quests sometime soon. Dragaux will have to wait!

On My Mind
- Finished editing my top 100! Not sure when I'm posting them yet (checking with Tom about the schedule), but now I feel like I have a lot of free time since I was editing during all my free time the past few weeks.

- First week of taking care of the kids with Toby at work went well. They're a lot better at eating now so the double feeds aren't too difficult. Toby's gonna be working from home on Wednesdays, so he can help clean the pump stuff and bottles those days. Cleaning takes up time so it's a little more stressful when he's at work, but most of the time I do it while the babies are playing. At some point they're gonna be awake even more and I'm gonna need to take them out of their room and bring them around the house so they can play downstairs while I cook/eat. But right now it's so cold and the house heater is expensive. We'll eventually have to start using it regularly.
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10. Board Game: Q.E. [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:1104]
Board Game: Q.E.
United States
Yay Area
California
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Board Game: Dinosaur Island
Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon
Board Game: Just One
Board Game: Last Will
Board Game: On Mars
Board Game: Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Board Game: Dairyman
Board Game: Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama
Board Game: Mental Blocks
Board Game: Okey Dokey
Board Game: Q.E.
Board Game: Decrypto
Board Game: No Thanks!
Board Game: Spyfall


 8   Dinosaur Island (7 all-time)
 8   In the Year of the Dragon x2 (15 all-time)
 8   Just One x3 (28 all-time)
 8   Last Will x2 (5 all-time)
 8   On Mars x3 NEW!
 7   Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig NEW!
 7   Dairyman (6 all-time)
 7   Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama x2 (3 all-time)
 7   Mental Blocks x3 NEW!
 7   Okey Dokey x2 (10 all-time)
 7   Q.E. NEW!
 6   Decrypto (10 all-time)
 6   No Thanks! x2 (19 all-time)
 6   Spyfall x2 (9 all-time)


Dinosaur Island - On the final turn I got one too many hooligans to just be $1 short on patron income to trigger one of the objectives, that 7 point swing was enough to cost me the game. *Sad Trombone*

Dragon Year - I was at a game day and I was kinda hoping to learn new games but a lot of noobies and I didn’t bring games so I just skimmed the shelves and ended up teaching this twice to two groups. Both solid sessions, in the first I tied for first and swooped in with that person track tie-breaker. Second play, even though they were newbs they were experienced gamers and I didn’t want to play base game again so I threw in the mini expansions and it was good, I won by a lot more.

Last Will - We blitzed a 100 currency game. 3 player 1 newb. I was 4 dollars short of triggering game end in round 6, so I spent round 7 just being a rude dude.

Mental Blocks - This was fine, gave me a lot of Team3 vibes, otherwise didn’t find it too interesting.

Q.E - First play of this and coming armed with the knowledge of previous GCL strats. I felt like a massive douchenozzle going hyperinflation. Ended up tying for the first bid at 10k so I upped it to 100k. After that just kept going up. Felt super guilty halfway into the game when I was the only one with tiles, so I waffled at like 100 billion for a couple rounds letting other people beat me. Eventually I hit 1 trillion and was a bit anxious no one would come at me and I had just wasted all our times. But then on my second 1 trillion bid I got beat and so I pretty much just laid low after that only doing 0 bids for points. Final bid as an auctioneer I see someone bid 99 trillion so at that point I knew I was safe for sure. But also still felt bad because that’s the only tile they had got the entire game. I surprisingly ended up with the lowest amount of money spent, final score 91 points.

Between two Kings madly in Love with each other - Seemed like an unnecessarily more fiddly version of B2C.

Just One / No Thanks / Decrypto / Spyfall / Okey Dokey / Kokoro - No Comment

Dairyman - I got a perfect roll on 8 dice and it was stupid and ridiculous and on some level I think getting that lucky made others dislike the game. YOLO SWAG!

On Mars - 3 plays , 1 two-handed solo because I was lazy (2 player rules were a paragraph, solo rules were the 2 player rules plus 2 additional pages) and then 2 solo games. Ultimately I think either the solo goals/rules aren’t challenging enough or I’m doing something completely wrong.

Two Handed solo - This was a mistake I think overall I spent 6+ hours getting through the rulebook and trying to strategize for two sides.

1st solo was overkill on points but a bit short for lvl 2 goals but then again I didn’t read what those were I was a bit focused on doing well, willing to accept some rules mistakes.

2nd solo, read up on the forums, crushed the goals, read the lvl 3 goals and apparently I was one upgrade short of completing that as well which considering my 50ish point lead I think had I known that I could have just done that easily on my final turns.

There is only one challenge above that and it’s an extremely specific scenario and I kinda don’t want to bother doing it. Overall I like the game but it has this Terraforming Mars (no I’m not just making this comparison because it’s another Mars based game) thing where people can just ignore the goals and supporting the colony and be super selfishly building up their engine so they’re in a good position to do lots of stuff, but if everyone does that then it’s a looooong game. I almost feel it needs to people to just constantly be pushing the end game so it doesn’t drag. I don’t know I have two more plays for my solo thing so we’ll see how I feel later.

Other -

PTO - A lot of my days were going to just expire so I just plopped like 13 days down on the calendar to take off in the next two months. Didn’t work on Friday, today and tomorrow as a result. Feels a bit odd to just take time off without a real goal, but getting actual amounts of sleep has been great.


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11. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:49]
Board Game: Android: Netrunner
Raf Cordero
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Board Game: Android: Netrunner
Board Game: Thunder Alley


Android: Netrunner
Thunder Alley NEW!

Netrunner

I'm back babyyy. I recently picked up a large lot of Netrunner cards...I guess I really couldn't quit this game. Apparently, it's been up to Some Bullshit. My first game was as a runner against Chris. He gave me 8 tags pretty easily then did 8 meat damage. It felt like it was turn 5 or something...I have a lot of cards to learn. Then we played a great game where I used his superfund Corp deck to build some towering servers of ice.

Finally, I played Tim and this was the first game where I felt like I had my groove back. It also ended in that classic Netrunner way. Turn 1 run HQ and luckily grab an Agenda; run triggers a draw that gives me the 1 card I needed. Click 2 install, Click 3 credit, Click 4 run and use some shaper/anarch bullshit to get into the remove server and grab the card I knew was an agenda. Ended with 0 credits in hand.

Thunder Alley
VROOOM +30 Os

On my Mind

I am so close to finishing my AoS army. Maybe 1 or 2 nights left only on the final Character model. The batch painting is done, thank Sigmar. After the character is done it'll be a crap ton of bases but I can do those all at once.
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12. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:8.81 Overall Rank:1] [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Board Game: Wavelength
Board Game: Horrified


Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Egad we are sucking at this one (Forgotten Age). I think we got a little cute with our character builds and we are really getting our heads handed to us. I have to say after the luxury of the reporter guy's (Rex something?) ability to get double clues when succeeding by 2, having to collect 1 clue at a time is really suck.

Also, this is like our third time trying to make a spellcaster "work", and we just cannot do it. They are just so gimped if they don't draw their spells.

Gloomhaven
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Pretty challenging, especially with trying to figure out our new characters. The music note character is really powerful, but seems a bit dull to play since it really just does one thing, but that one thing is super important.

I started painting the Cthulhu mini, but then some of my paints had frozen up to the point where i literally shattered a glass paint pot trying to get the lid off with pliers, so had to take a break on that. I may try picking up some cheaper craft paints, since after a bunch of reading it seems like they work "pretty well", and I'm not trying to win any awards here - just have something more interesting than flat gray.

Wavelength x2
Saw this at Game Kastle and picked it up. Played a couple of games by the co-op rules with Hilary and Alistair, who both really liked it, despite the fact that getting/giving clues to/from a 7-year old with a much narrower cultural context is challenging. Side note, I used "Hitler" for the popular/unpopular scale, and both Hilary and Alistair came to the conclusion that he was "somewhat popular". I want my country back. (For the record, the correct answer was pinned all the way to 'unpopular'). Hope to play more games of this on the cruise with players who have less cavalier views vis a vis Hitler's popularity.

Horrified
Tried this with a friend of Alistair's (Ezra) and his mom. Unfortunately, a 4 player game with 2, umm, slow players ended up being a little draggy for the 2 kids, and once they were sufficiently restless Ezra's mom and I said they could just go play on their own, which they happily did, while Jen and I set up a 2-player game and won it easily in about 15 minutes.

OMM
T-Minus 3 days until we get on a plane for the cruise! I am already feeling like literally the worst kind of American about this, but I'm going to try to tamp that down and enjoy myself. I honestly don't know if I'm going to be able to deal with much off-ship stuff though. Yes yes, it's bringing income and jobs to the countries in question, but in my heart of hearts I know that cruises are kind of an environmental and socio-economic disaster but I really just want to have one. I'm trying not to burden Alistair with that so he can just enjoy it.

Past the halfway point of death note. I think the big mid-season change was kind of cool so far, but we'll see how it plays out.
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13. Board Game: 1817 [Average Rating:8.79 Overall Rank:1636]
Board Game: 1817
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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1817
Dragon Dice
Unpublished Prototype

Unpublished Prototype
We had our board game day at work last week. I prepped 8-player Killer Queen Black, but we ended up playing a new person's game prototype. Well, his brother's prototype that he brought. He plans to Kickstart it in February. So they're trying to get as much additional playtesting and feedback as they can right now.

There were a couple of elements that were very much "Do not include this."

Other than that, the game overall was enjoyable and I would play again. It was really similar in theme and play to Campaign Manager 2008, but still very different. When the kickstarter comes up, if I see it and remember it, I might talk about it more.

1817
There was a 3-day board game convention last weekend that I'd written off. Friday I was invited to play 1817 at the convention. So Saturday morning I bought a 1-day ticket to the con.

We played it until partway in to M&A Round 3.1 I believe. There was still I think 1 3-train, or maybe the 3's had just expired, but we hadn't broken 4's yet. 1 player had bankrupt and another was desperately on life support (virtually no assets left, 1 company with little to show for it and many loans, and multiple shorts for company's that were bleeding him dry). We called the game and they went on to play again, but I couldn't stick around for a second game so I had to leave.

They normally call the game at the 4's and restart, and everybody else agreed and wanted to restart, but I really didn't want to restart the game at such a pivotal part of the game. It was 5 players, and 1, almost 2 players were eliminated, which was big. But we hadn't even broken 4's yet. The game would've shifted so dramatically in the next Operating Round and the next Stock Round is where potentially the game could've gotten very interesting, maybe even led to starting of companies that would rush to the 6-trains and derail the rest of the game. I would have loved to play through to just the end of the next Stock Round to see where things ended up.

But with one player bankrupt, and going into the game with the intention of restarting, nobody else wanted to play further. Everybody else wanted to restart. It was too bad, since it felt like the game was finally just starting. But it was really good up to that point too.

I ended up with... I forget private names, but 2 bridge tokens, 2 coal tokens, and the mountain blasting company. The player who eventually went bankrupt ended up with 0 private companies, and started 2 companies at $55/share.

I saw that I'd put myself into bad position. I had 2's but no good way to get a 3. I started a 3rd company in a bad spot to buy me a 3, but it's been almost 3 years since I've played the game and I couldn't remember the best way to gracefully kill the company without major consequence, so I ended up merging into it and ended up with a 5-share with 3 2's and 1 3 train. And my second company was a 2-share with a single 2 train (mistake was buying it's other 2 train in to my new company. I had a different plan that I realized was bad too late). My new company, after merging, which happened pretty late, at the end of M&A 2.2, was overinflated at $180/share. So I took out the max loans to deflate to $135/share. At least to prevent the shorters from getting too rich on me.

Now let's step back to look at 2 other players. One was growing up his companies fast, and by the end of M&A 2.2 had a 10-share company at $65/share. It wasn't in bad shape, but wasn't in very good shape either. But at $65/share, and enough feet to survive on, this was also a terrible short choice. The next player had healthy companies on good cash and buying power. This came in handy during one of the M&A rounds (maybe 2.1?) when somebody had accidentally pushed themselves into acquisition, I think with the intent to have train buying power, and got bought out by her company for $110 with some great train options. This took her company from 1 2-train to 4 trains that had a 3 and a 2+. This easily made her company the best in the game. I already had 1 share but I quickly bought a second share. It was at something like $45 or $60/share so I thought my chances of being dumped on, even if she wanted to, were slim. This gave me 40% to her 60% ownership.

So this put us into the interesting short period of Stock Round 3. There was one good company to short, my 5-share at $135/share. The next best short target was the 10-share at $65/share. So for me, really, the short game wasn't an option. And for other players, I was a great target, but by no means was there enough influx to sacrificially force the 4-trains, which is what 2 players tried to do. They max shorted my company and the 10-share company to open up a new company each at $200/share. I shorted 1 share of the 10-share company to buy up a share in the best off company I mentioned earlier. Then I shorted it 2 more times because, even thought it was a terrible short, I had the most to lose from 4s breaking and I didn't want the other players to be able to open more companies. I don't know if the $195 I took was enough to prevent one more company opening, but it might have been.

Then they took out loans to jockey for turn position and drive up the interest rate for us. They drove it from $20/loan to $40 in the stock round! But then the mistake happened. The player who was first didn't want to get stuck with too many 3-trains, so he didn't buy enough for the next player to break the 4's. This let me run my 3 2-trains and my 3-train again, which didn't bankrupt them, but put them on the brink of bankruptcy. The player with the 10-share company was debating on his new company's turn to buy a 3-train, and determined that doing so would let the best-to-do player break the 4-trains, and he also had 2's he wanted to run, so he declined buying the 3-train. Once his 10-share company ran, the first shorter went bankrupt and the next player had less than $100 cash to keep himself afloat. This put 3 companies into liquidation which would have been a very exciting liquidation round if he hadn't scooped the game. We played part of it which gave my company a 3T and 2+T to at least survive better later on. Also, the owner of the 10-share company refusing to buy that 3T eventually led to my company running it's 2s AGAIN in the following OR (that we never got to). The second shorter player had to grow up one of his 5-share companies to a 10-share, to afford a friendly sale of his other new company just to put enough cash into his personal wallet to survive short payouts on my turn. Oh yeah, my share price of $135/share dropped to $110 because of shares in the pool, but then jumped to $165 or so after that first stock round. The shorters were not happy. It was a good lesson learnt about not being too afraid to buy trains, especially when you're trying to hurt a company you've shorted.

Dragon Dice
More postal games last week. One of a casual game, Scalders vs Frostwings, which taught me a lot about Scalder and Frostwing strategy. The other one I want to say was me playing Treefolk vs Amazon, in a tournament game. But it's now been so long I can't remember.
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14. Board Game: Terraforming Mars: Turmoil [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars: Turmoil
Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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MIND. BLOWN.
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Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Board Game: Rhino Hero: Super Battle


Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game (47 all-time)
Terraforming Mars (8 all-time)
Rhino Hero: Super Battle x4 (14 all-time)

I introduced X-Wing to the two dudes from Kent State whom I mentor, and while it was a little unorthodox, we opted for a three-faction game to try it out. Rebels had Han, Luke, and Miranda in a K-Wing, Scum had Bossk, that Prince dude in the Starviper, and a cartel bruiser in a Khiriaz fighter, and Imperials had Rear Admiral in a Decimator, Countess in a TIE Defender, and Soontir Fel. It was a bloodbath. We skipped upgrades for the sake of a learning game, and it was wonky as all get out, but a lot of fun. In the end, Soontir Fel got wasted by Luke, who was then blow up by Bossk, who was then shot down by Countess, etc, etc, etc. Hilarious. I am most excited that they want to play a Heroes of the Aturi Cluster campaign with me after I pitched the concept to them.

Our friends got the Turmoil expansion from the latest Terraforming Mars Kickstarter and played it a few times before introducing it to us. I was immediately taken with it. Not only are there some exceptional new cards and concepts introduced in the game, but the nature of the political majority struggle and the boons/banes that come with it is compelling, easy to manage, and adds a lot to the big-picture considerations of the game. Timing is huge, even just managing to align the +1 titanium political bonus on a big round of space cards and such can be a big swing for you. New prelude/corps/cards are always fun, and I am impressed by the tightness of design and concept through this and a few other expansions we've tried at this point. I ended up with the TerraLabs corp, allowing me to draft all cards for only one spacebuck despite starting with minimal cash on hand. I drafted into a titanium and research steamroller, and fought tooth-and-nail in the political game to ensure my lobbyists gave me all the best bonuses and screwed the rest of the table. It was a blow-out. I won, so best game ever.

Theodore also managed an astoundingly-ballsy play in Rhino Hero wherein he balanced a floor on a single tall wall twice in a row atop a flimsy structure. I assumed he would knock it over and lose right away, but he unwittingly setup Anastasia and I to 100% knock over the tower on our own turns. Anastasia was in the lead, so Ted won after all. He was exultant.
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15. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:53]
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Matt C
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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Race for the Galaxy

No physical games for me this week, but it's worth noting that I finally logged my 1,000th play of my iOS RFTG game (all 2p expert rules on TGS & no goals). I still suck at the game, but I suck less than most.


Workouts:
Now that the holidays have died down, my workout schedule is a back to a semi-normal state. Late December/January the gym was closed a bunch of the days I usually teach, so I had substantially less biking during that time. This past week I:
- Ran ~ 30 miles (mostly inside due to ice)
- Biked for ~ 4 hours
- Made 2 new Group Cycle playlists

My cycling classes last night went very well. I felt genuinely comfortable with teaching, and including continuing to teach while handling some other issue (e.g. several people showed up right when we were slated to start but had never cycled before, so I had to teach the warm-up while also getting those people situated). Additionally, my supervisor asked if I could teach a special class series that people would pay extra to take in order to improve their performance (I ultimately declined because I am not comfortable teaching weight training exercises, which would be part of the curriculum).


Baby CC:
The past few weeks have been hectic with the baby. She had her 9 month pediatric appointment this week, which confirmed what we knew: she's massively ahead with fine motor and communication, but lagging in gross motor skills. We asked for a referral to a PT, and Colette had her first appointment yesterday. The consensus was that she's a bit behind in strength because of spending so much time in the harness, so we have specific exercises to build that and we'll go to appointments twice a week until she's caught up.
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16. Board Game: Empyreal: Spells & Steam [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:2364]
Board Game: Empyreal: Spells & Steam
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
TX
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Board Game: Empyreal: Spells & Steam
Board Game: Shards of Infinity: Shadow of Salvation
Board Game: SteamRollers
Board Game: Empire Builder
Board Game: Magic Maze
Board Game: Indigo


 10.   Empyreal: Spells & Steam x4 (6 all-time)
 9.0   Shards of Infinity: Shadow of Salvation x3 (4 all-time)
 9.0   SteamRollers (10 all-time)
 8.5   Empire Builder (28 all-time)
 8.0   Magic Maze x2 (5 all-time)
 7.0   Indigo x2 (5? all-time)

Games
So Kristen and I got each other Empyreal: Spells & Steam for Christmas, and it came in last week. (The box alone is a beast, a cubic foot coming in at 10 pounds!) We played it 4 times between Friday and Sunday, once with just the two of us, and three times with two other people. We'd played it twice at BGG.Con and really dug it, so we expected it to be fun. After more plays, it's absolutely our kind of game, and will see a lot more play. It's route building, pick-up-and-deliver, asymmetrical player powers, and essentially leveling up your company powers while you play. It's absolutely fantastic. We sprung for the deluxe version and expansion, and we're incredibly glad we did. I've already created a player aid for the game to reference the specialists more quickly and easily. Games have been mostly close and competitive, you have to watch what everyone is doing carefully or they'll steal your stuff, and there appear to be multiple ways of winning. I'm fond of grabbing specialists ASAP before moving on to other powerups, but I've used other approaches and seen others do well. This might be a top 10 game for me.

Shards of Infinity: Shadow of Salvation is indeed excellent, and now I've sleeved everything in proper sleeves. It looks sharp, and fits into a smaller box. (I'm going to try some card trackers for health/mastery.)

SteamRollers and Magic Maze were solid as always. Empire Builder is always such a delightful game, and this play was a tense two player game that I managed to win two turns before my opponent did.

I pulled out Indigo on a lark and enjoyed it well enough but was going to put it on the sell pile, but one of the players noted that her 6-year-old son really enjoys it, so I may try it with AnnaMarie before unloading it.

AnnaMarie has expressed an interest in trying Legacy of Dragonholt, so I'm ready to get that rolling! She wants to play with her friend, so our Gloomhaven crew will probably give this a whirl for a few Sundays when we can get together for it.

On My Mind
Getting the flu sucks, 0/10 do not recommend. I'm finally on the better end of it, but now Kristen has it. We're just hoping AnnaMarie doesn't get it. (Last night while Kristen and I were collectively at our worst, AnnaMarie had the anti-flu - full of energy, bouncing off of walls, trying to do trick push-ups, you name it.) On top of dealing with that, the car is in the shop with some weird electrical issue, so we're juggling one truck to get us all around right now.

The new edition of Die Macher just came in, and I'm eager to try it out with the new changes.

My Tennessee Titans made a good run in the playoffs. I would have loved to see them in the Super Bowl, but I think they did very well and I'm happy for them.
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