GCL Amoeba 489 – Award season (2020-08-03)
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Welcome to this week's Game Chat League Amoeba discussion group!

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

Chris (Venser) Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"
Doug (phrim)
Adam (red_gamster)
Eric (Eric Brosius)
Jeremy (Familygaming)
Garry (garry_rice)
Larry (larryjrice)
Jeroen (jmdsplotter)
Scott (qzhdad)
Aaron (WonderCinz)
Mikko (msaari)

Spiel des Jahres winners were released recently.
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1. Board Game: Pictures [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:2877]
Board Game: Pictures
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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Pictures won the Spiel des Jahres award this year. Another party game winner, after Just One. What do you think? Was this a deserved win? Have you tried Pictures, or the finalists (My City and Nova Luna)? Which one do you think should've won? Any outside candidates that would've been the best match in your opinion?
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2. 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
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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The Crew got the Kennerspiel des Jahres award. Was it in the right category? Should it win? What about Cartographers and King's Dilemma? What would've you picked for the award?
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3. Board Game: Hedgehog Roll [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:8520]
Board Game: Hedgehog Roll
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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This was the Kinderspiel des Jahres announced earlier. Have you played any of the candidates?
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4. Board Game: Hoity Toity [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1475]
Board Game: Hoity Toity
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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The Deutscher Spiele Preis will be awarded later this year. Which game do you think will win it, and which game would deserve to win it?
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5. Board Game: Everdell [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:38]
Board Game: Everdell
Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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 10.   Innovation (62 all-time)

A rare case where my son beat me by drawing a 11 and having more points. It was disheartening to notice I'd lose in the end, no matter what... unfortunately the pieces to the AI victory, which would've been good for me, were hidden.

 9.0   Fields of Arle (19 all-time)
 9.0   Nusfjord (24 all-time)

These are endlessly entertaining. I won Fields of Arle, as usual, and lost in Nusfjord, as usual. My son's pretty good in Nusfjord, but Fields of Arle is still somehow too complex or something for him to grasp, he's constantly 20-30 points behind me.

 8.0   Merchant of Venus (Second Edition) (3 all-time)

My son got a nice short loop he ran for a while – as long as it lasted – and then managed to win. We played to 4000, and I was somewhere around 3700 when he finished the game.

 8.0   Spirit Island x2 (21 all-time)

A harder game we lost, and an easier game we won. We can pretty constantly beat the easier levels, but if it gets any harder, we tend to lose. We need more practise!

 8.0   Terraforming Mars (14 all-time)

I noticed my copy is missing the rules – easy enough to print out – and the ocean tiles. That's inconvenient. I have to figure out a way to get some... perhaps someone who has upgraded to 3D tiles doesn't need the cardboard anymore.

 7.0   Everdell x2 NEW!

I got Everdell from the library, the reservation finally arrived. Turns out this is a fun game, much better than I expected. A rating of 8 is not impossible. I like how the game starts really small, then snowballs into a proper engine. Feels a lot like Imperial Settlers, but I like this one more.

 6.0   Rummikub x2 (7 all-time)

We had some time to kill in a library, and this was the best game we found available on the shelves. It's not bad.

Besides that, I've played a lot of online Magic. It's very addictive, and I could see myself becoming a lifestyle Magic Arena player...
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6. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:453]
Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest
Jeroen Doumen
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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4x _6.75_ Too Many Cinderellas
3x _9.25_ 1846: The Race for the Midwest
3x _7.25_ Coup
3x _6.00_ Thunderstone Quest
1x _7.00_ Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
1x _6.00_ For Sale
1x _5.50_ DURIAN
1x _5.50_ Tiny Epic Dinosaurs
1x _5.50_ Invasions: Volume 1 - 350-650 AD
1x _5.25_ Ninja Catfoot and the Covert Action

Lots of 1846 last week . Two async games, and one live session...

And we played For Sale live as well - with the "incorrect" rules; though I think this will be an eternal debate...

We did a 2p game of Mansions of Madness: Second Edition, using a scenario from the latest expansion. Great fun, even if in hindsight the scenario was a bit straightforward.

We also played our two new Oink games this past weekend: DURIAN is a nice bluffing game, with just enough choice and nastiness. Ninja Catfoot and the Covert Action is mainly weird - but a brilliant idea. Just not too balanced (literally!) if the two devices used vary a lot in weight and size.

Tiny Epic Dinosaurs was good fun. It's the worker placement set collection game of the series, and the meeples are cute .

Then I also played Invasions: Volume 1 - 350-650 AD over Zoom. We picked the 1 turn learning scenario; maybe not the best choice. It focuses on the movement and combat subsystems of the game, and they can get weird - pointswise it was better for the Persian army to keep running away from the ransacking Romans, leaving a nice fortified city to be looted behind. But the game is very ambitious, and I suspect the full game (and having to consider what happens next turn) is a lot more fun.
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7. Board Game: Imperial Struggle [Average Rating:8.54 Overall Rank:1311]
Board Game: Imperial Struggle
Adam Deverell
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
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Board Game: Friday
Board Game: Pax Renaissance
Board Game: Imperial Struggle
Board Game: Wilderness War


Stage 4 triggered in Melbourne today. Hard lockdown - only allowed out for an hour, all shops (except groceries) closed and our local tennis courts locked up until September. It's going to be a long month.

 7   Friday x4
Found this more difficult than Imperial Struggle to learn! Got the rules wrong spectacularly in the first two games. Eventually got it together for the third game, and lost rather badly. More thematic decision making once I played it correctly. Now, just have to work on tactics.

 10   Pax Renaissance x2
Playing in two PBeM games. Pushing for an Islamic Religious victory in one, only to have a rival go all out Catholic. Will be interesting to see how the cards flop. This is my Race for the Galaxy. A real quick playing game (once you get the opaque rules and strategy) that is totally absorbing.

 N/A   Imperial Struggle
Played five out of six turns via Vassal. Got several rules wrong in the first session, but I think we have ironed it all out now. Of course our strategy is all over the place, but I've found it a really intriguing game.

It has threatened to become overwrought, and it the rules aren't comprehensive enough, but I've found it accessible. Area control with action point selection. Easy! What isn't easy is tracking the state of play. Glad I'm using Vassal. Otherwise I'd need some sort of tracking device. Perhaps a bucket of d6 dice x 16.

Definitely recommended, although it is very long. We're pushing six hours + in our game.

 10   Wilderness War
Third round of the BPA championship. I'm still smarting from my loss in the second round. This one is tight going in to the second round. I'm spreading myself very thin as the British. My opponent is playing very quickly, which is always good. In my last game, the tighter it got the slower my opponent became. He went AWOL for work for two weeks right in the middle of it!
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8. Board Game: Outpost [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:2029]
Board Game: Outpost
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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 10   Race for the Galaxy x6 (864 all-time, including all arcs) -- I continued to finish games and start new ones. More than half of the games I play include Scott. I also play with my friend Paul who used to work with me, and with Bill. With Scott I play Brink of War on the app, with Paul I play Gathering Storm on BGA, and with Bill I play Rebel vs. Imperium on the app. It's nice to have a mix. Sometimes I play the base game with pickup players on BGA, but I don't record those plays. I especially look for BGA games that have more than 2 players, since so many of those games only have 2.

Another observation: BGA gives player strength ratings based on your wins and losses and who they are obtained against. I've found that when I play against someone with a much higher rating, I usually lose, but when I play against someone with a much lower rating, I usually win. There is a lot of skill in this game.

 10   1846: The Race for the Midwest (296 all-time) -- This is a 5-player game using the new 18xx.games implementation, which is in beta. I also completed a few games last week, but I had recorded them as plays when they started.

 9   Industrial Waste (37 all-time) -- I've been playing four titles on Yucata: Saint Petersburg, Thurn and Taxis, San Juan, and Can't Stop. I suggested to Michael and John that we try this, since it seemed like a game that would work well on line. We're well into it now, and it does indeed work well.

 10   Outpost (97+ all-time) -- This is one of my Top 5 games, but I hadn't played it since January. Dave Peters from the Phoenix Game Chat League had posted about a Tabletop Simulator implementation he's been working on, and I contacted him to ask him whether he would demo it for our group.

Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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He did this for us on Saturday evening, and we played a 5-player game. The implementation, which is still in development, does a remarkably good job already. One advantage it has is that Outpost is already a fiddly game, so the usual TTS fiddliness isn't a big turnoff for people who are prepared to play Outpost. And it removes quite a bit of the fiddliness by scripting the drawing of new upgrades, the dealing of resource cards, and so forth.

In the game, I had average cards, but I failed to choose and stick to any plan. There were several plans that could have worked, but I chose none of them. Mike got the WaF/pop combination on the first turn, but Joe Rushanan won in convincing style. Luck is certainly an aspect of the game, but the game isn't generally won by drawing lucky resource cards (I've played more than 100 times now, including plays before I started recording plays, and the differences in how well people play have almost always trumped luck. (I tied for last in this game with Dave.)
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9. Board Game: Azul: Summer Pavilion [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:189]
Board Game: Azul: Summer Pavilion
Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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Board Game: Rallyman: GT
Board Game: Downforce
Board Game: Azul: Summer Pavilion
Board Game: Hadara
Board Game: Butterfly


 7.0   Rallyman: GT x2 (35 all-time)

Finished off my GT5 season 2 races...will be taking the next season off in both GT5 and GT6 although I do like that the organizer is moving to a relegation setup for divisions in GT5.

 5.0   Downforce (6 all-time)

A friend wanted to play it on BGA...so we did

 7.5   Azul: Summer Pavilion (3 all-time)

Caleb and I figured out the Tabletop Simulator version of this and gave Caleb a chance to learn it. We enjoyed the play although the tiles did not come out well for Caleb in the final round.

 7.0   Hadara (2 all-time)

Played with my Monday night group on Yucata...they really enjoyed it so they played it again Wednesday night with another group...and I think we'll be playing it again tonight Wound up losing by 1 point, but none of us were able to get to the 30 colony.

 N/A   Butterfly x2 NEW!

New tile selection game on BGA. It works okay for 2 players but it can get old quickly towards the end if the other player can seize control and determine the tiles you get...in some sense it sort of reminds me of Dots and Boxes albeit with scoring modifications Probably won't play it again after I get through the games I'm currently in.
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10. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Larry Rice
United States
North Newton
Kansas
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Really busy with work - although I wonder how much of this will end up being in vain. I'm not convinced we will be able to make college in person work this year but I'm in the middle of finding out. I'm enjoying working with my new RAs at my new college, but there have been some challenges. Bailey is loving Kansas so that's good. She's eating better than she ever did in CA and has been much more active which is great!

Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Board Game: Terraforming Mars


 10   Race for the Galaxy x2 (1463 all-time)

Been a bit pre-occupied so I've slowed down here.

 10   Terraforming Mars x2 (45 all-time)

Played this a couple more times with friends on TTS. Still enjoying it - each game is quite different.
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11. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion
Aaron Cinzori
United States
Holland
Michigan
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Board Game: Magic: The Gathering
Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy


 6   Magic: The Gathering x2 NEW!

Aaron (White starter deck) and Isaac (Red starter deck). First play for Aaron. My brother sucked my son over to the dark side, sending him home with some Keyforge decks and some Magic decks. What can you do? So, I finally gave Magic a play. It was fine. We had played Keyforge first, and that seems to give the player a bit more control. I can see how the deck construction would entice a certain type of (not me) person, and knowing your deck well likely enhances the experience. Isaac won the first game fast as I had a handful of expensive creatures that I couldn't play. The second game was closer as I pulled some cards that gave me health back. I had knocked him down to 1 point with 8 of my own, but couldn't quite finish him and he drew just the right card to finish me off. I'd play again if he asks, but it's not something I'll seek out.

 7   KeyForge: Call of the Archons x2 NEW!

Aaron (Blessinger) and Isaac (??). First play for Aaron. Kind of interesting. I can see how getting to know a deck would improve play. And I like the non-deckbuilding aspect of it because I'm not interested in deck construction at all. I needed to figure out a way to inhibit Isaac's reaping. I forged the first key, but then stalled. Isaac wins 3-1.

We played a second game, but I forgot to record any details. Isaac won again, maybe 3-1 again. Different decks from the first time. He got a really good combo going with the Sanctified(?) house. I was mostly stuffed with my Mars/Untamed/Dis deck.

 8   Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion (11 all-time)
 8   Race for the Galaxy (72 all-time)

Aaron and Isaac. Xeno Invasion. First play of Xeno for Isaac. Aaron doesn't manage to draw any military cards until late in the game, but only loses one world to the Xenos. Isaac does a good job contributing to the war effort (8-4). Isaac wins 41-32.
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12. 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
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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From gallery of Phrim
_9_ The 7th Continent - This was the second part of our fifth attempt at A Prison of Clouds. The goal this time was to pick up the Ballast Bag and the Aerial Ace, and then make an attempt at the far northeast landing that had previously required too many stars. Since we knew exactly what we were doing this time, grabbing those two items was a piece of cake. We ran into the annoying Birds card on the way to the northeast, but it gave us a bunch of food so I guess it’s worth it in the long run. We were able to land without any problems, and found a shipwreck! We failed at the “beams and boards” puzzle, but I think you have to know what you’re doing to do that one correctly. Anyway, we grabbed one last balloon item—the anemometer, which had the wind symbol that we knew we needed to proceed. Additionally, it made flying around much easier, so we knew that with our mostly-intact draw pile (from eating all of those Birds) that we were looking very good at this point. It was late though, so we called it a night.


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine (new!) - Anni got this game for her birthday, so we decided to give it a go with two players (I doubt we’ll be able to play it with more for quite some time). This involved a dummy player named Jarvis (I guess someone’s a Marvel fan). The Commander takes actions for Jarvis, but half of Jarvis’s cards are both unknown and unplayable because they’re underneath the other half. In any case, both Anni and I are fairly experienced with trick-taking games, so that part didn’t trip us up. We breezed through the early missions, often completing them in the minimum number of turns. We got stuck on level 7 or 8–it gave us three tasks, they all turned out to be blue, and two of the cards were obscured in Jarvis’s hand. As the Commander, I have Jarvis the blue-2 mission, and it turned out that it was the very last card to be revealed! We couldn’t engineer a way for Jarvis to take it, so we lost that one. We did keep playing, and finished our session after winning scenario 8 (which was a bit of a close call itself).


From gallery of Phrim
_7_ Gloomhaven - This time we tried #39 Treacherous Divide. As expected, all the monsters converged on us in the entry room. I made a bunch of extra minions, but they all died immediately due to retaliate. My bear took quite the beating early on, and I had to pitch a few cards to keep him alive. Eventually, though, we were able to kill all of the enemies in the large first room—it was really helpful that Anni was able to kill the Cultist before it spawned any Bones. The final room featured an elite Frost Demon, which was annoying but nothing we couldn’t handle. So the beginning was a bit touch-and-go, especially for me, but the end was anticlimactic. We won.



THOUGHTS ON NEW-TO-ME GAMES

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a cooperative trick-taking game featuring four numbered suits plus a four-card trump suit. Each mission (game session) provides a given number of tasks, which represent specific cards that must be taken by a certain player. The Commander (the player with the highest trump card) assigns the tasks to players, but must distribute them evenly. Occasionally, these tasks must be done in a certain order. Play then proceeds like a typical trick-taking game, with limits on communication, and a mission ends as soon as all tasks are complete. The game comes with 50 missions of increasing difficulty. I thought this was a very clever take on the trick-taking genre, as I haven’t seen a coop one before. Missions can definitely get tricky, and experienced trick-takers will have to resort to their bag of tricks to pull it off sometimes. I do wish the game scaled more evenly, instead of just calling out in the rules that it’s harder with more players.
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