$10.00

Cake is a Young Man's Game

Polemics & mutterings.

1 , 2  Next »  

Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

The Fall of Rome

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Played my first game of Julius Caesar, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I lost badly as J.C., I think mostly because I didn't come into the game with a long-term plan of attack. Caesar can't just test the edges and wait for opportunities to appear; the game is too short for that.

It looks to be a really good design, and I'm glad that I got it. There's definitely a lot of scope for strategic planning and drama, and it never once bogged down. The relatively small rule set still provides a lot of options, particularly because of the complicating factor of the sea. For example, I was caught off-guard by an amphibious attack by two navies into a port defended by a skeleton force, and the attack was successful. There's also a good amount of bluffing that can go on, since it's not hard to raise a lot of small weak units.

The game does lack the epic, immersive quality of other wargames I've played, such as Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War and EastFront, but it still has a good amount of historic flavor, and what it lacks in detail it makes up for in speed and ease of play.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:07 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

More of the New

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm on what these days practically qualifies as a game-buying binge; Julius Caesar arrived last week, and it's all stickered up and ready to go. This is my last-ditch attempt to find a wargame that works for me; I have Squad Leader, Eastfront, Crusader Rex and Hellenes, but as much as I liked them all, they all proved to require more time to play than I have available to give (except Squad Leader, which was just too rules-heavy). I have high hopes for Julius Caesar, though. It looks like there's some nice scope for strategy exploration within a workable timeframe.

In other news, I got in a couple of two-player games of Qin, which I enjoyed a great deal. It definitely has that certain Knizia magic about it; lots to think about, but still somehow fast and breezy. It has an interesting mix of luck and skill to it, and it's just somehow very satisfying to make your little moves and one-up your opponent.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Mon Jun 16, 2014 1:45 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

I Love That New Game Smell

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
First new game order in over a year: Helios, Qin, and the Qin expansion boards. I'm excited! I picked Helios because I have a soft spot for Hans im Glück, the gameplay looked interesting, and the bits are really nice. I don't often go for games where players have their own private boards and the interaction is limited, but for some reason I felt like this one might be a good fit with my regular group.

Qin I've played once and enjoyed, and somewhere along the way I decided I wanted a copy. This is the sort of game that Knizia really excels at, so whenever one comes out in a nice edition it's usually a candidate for purchase. It is, you might say, Knizia's idea of the "perfect game"—simple rules that you won't forget, hardly any setup, playing time under an hour, two-player or more, and interesting and variable enough that you can play it over and over. Examples of similar games would be Ingenious, Callisto, the underrated Genesis, and Indigo.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Thu May 29, 2014 9:17 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

2013 in Review

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Light year for me. 151 plays of 86 different games, 25 of which were new to me. I only bought one game all year, which was Last Will, though I also got Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus as a birthday present. Oh wait—I also got a crokinole board, so I guess that counts too.

There were some nice highlights to the year, though:

• Annual Choner Crokinole Championship, which was lots of fun. I won the 3rd tier, the prize being a glass stein with the words "Celebrating Mediocrity" engraved upon it.

• ConnCon, which is always a good time. Geeklist here. I finally won the Blue Moon tournament.

• The first-ever M.A.Y.B.E. Games in Pelham, NY.

• Three games of Imperial 2030.

• Six games of Last Will.

• A game of Hellenes.

• A game of Gipf including the Zertz potentials.

• A play of Dragonmaster, which we owned when I was a kid and never played.

• Replays of games from my collection which hadn't seen the light of days in years, for example Java (x2), Atlantic Star, Tyros, Through the Desert, and even Magic: the Gathering.

Collection as of 12/31/13:
136 games
17 expansions
0 unplayed games
percent of collection played in 2013: 34%.

Gaming goals for 2014? First and foremost, I want to pare down the collection a little, even if it means donating them to the ConnCon library. Maybe I'll make a point of getting some favorites played a few times as well. We'll see.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:59 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Featherlight

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
After playing Pinguin-Party again the other night as a closer, I got to wondering what the lightest games in my collection were, and which of those were my favorites. "Light" I define as "short and easy to play, at least as dependent on luck as skill." The contenders are:

Pinguin-Party (15 minutes, ages 6 and up)*
Circus Flohcati (15 minutes, ages 6 and up)
Mmm...Brains! (20 minutes, ages 6 and up)
Cheeky Monkey (15 minutes, ages 7 and up)
Bucket Brigade (30 minutes, ages 7 and up)
Crazy Derby (20 minutes, ages 8 and up)
Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck (20-30 minutes, ages 8 and up)
Sushizock im Gockelwok (20 minutes, ages 8 and up)
Exxtra (30 minutes, ages 8 and up)
Figaro (30 minutes, ages 8 and up)
Who's the Ass? (30 minutes, ages 8 and up)
Escalation (15 minutes, ages 10 and up)**

My favorite of the bunch—the go-to game when I want something simple and non-thinky—would probably be Cheeky Monkey. Even though it's one of the lightest of the light, it's still a great deal of fun. There's something about the push-your-luck mechanism that's very appealing.

Other standouts on the list include Crazy Derby (a.k.a. Trendy), Circus Flohcati, and Mmm…Brains! Crazy Derby is fast and breezy, but it makes you think just enough to keep things interesting. Circus Flohcati shares the same push-your-luck mechanism as Cheeky Monkey but is a bit more involved. Mmm…Brains! is a unique little dice-roller/take-that game where players collect brains and then lose them, and attacks can sometimes backfire in a very amusing way.

My least favorites would be Figaro, Who's the Ass, and Bucket Brigade. Perhaps not coincidentally, those are also among the three longest of the games; I think for a light game to be really successful it needs to be very quick.

Feel free to post your own favorite featherweights!


*The game is definitely longer than 15 minutes, but probably less than 30
**10 and up? I'm sure an 8-year-old could play with no problem
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:31 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Just a Regular Gaming Report for No Particular Reason

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Had a good long weekend of gaming. On Saturday I made my way down to the house of the honorable & esteemed

Joseph McDonough
United States
Pelham
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

though we never actually ended up playing anything together, the reason being that his brother John is a big abstract strategy games fan. For years it has been a dream of mine to try out all the GIPF expansions and then write a review of the game, and this was my chance to use the Zertz potentials.

The game was extremely enjoyable, as usual. John was able to capture three of my pieces fairly early, but I chipped away and chipped away and in the end I was able to deplete his reserve for the win.


I'm black. It's John's turn, and his move should be obvious.

The strange thing, though, was that we really didn't use the potentials; doing so almost never seemed preferable to adding a new piece to the board. When I got home I reread the instructions and realized that I had misinterpreted them; I had thought that you removed the potential from the game and jumped the singleton piece, but actually you remove the potential and use that to jump, essentially adding a new, "free" piece to the board. That's a much bigger deal! I was quite bummed out by the mistake; I couldn't check the Zertz potential off my to-play list after all, since we had done it completely wrong. Still, though, it was a really fun game.

Next up was TZAAR, which is another one of my favorites (I rate it a 9). I don't have a regular opponent, but over the course of time I've gotten in seventeen plays, which makes me happy.

Joe, Mark Casiglio and the rest were still playing Suburbia, but Paul was interested in playing something at that point, so we tried out a tag-sale find of his, Psyche-Paths. This turned out to be an extremely annoying game, first because we made the mistake of using the "easy" rules, which would only entertain a very bored child, and second because the print job was painfully misaligned and none of the little paths would match up right. There was a shameful amount of complaining which I regretted a bit afterward.


Somebody barfed up a hippie

Afterwards John wanted to play the Jack the Ripper Mystery Rummy game, but it quickly became clear that he had no memory of the rules, so I put the kibosh on the project and ran to find something pleasant and short that I could easily teach. So, naturally: Ingenious. I clobbered them.

The marathon Suburbia game finally ended but at that point I had to go and so I said farewell until ConnCon.

Ordinarily that would be a decent amount of gaming for one weekend, but thanks to Presidents' Day we were able to squeak in a session at the hallowed halls of the Sandy Hook Beer and Gaming Academy last night. To start off we played a quick game of Pinguin-Party with the elder daughter while the younger doled out the penalty points for us. I really like this game; it's a little too light to be a filler for serious gamers, but if you want something quick and not particularly demanding it's perfect.

Afterwards when Chrissy was shooing the kids off to bed Eric broke out Zombie Fluxx and we played a couple of games. It delivered some chuckles, but I wouldn't want to play it regularly.

Last on the docket was an oldie but a goodie: Java. It's not a game that I get to play very often because the conditions need to be exactly right: I want there to be only three players because it's too long and crowded with four, and you can't have any analysis-paralysis-prone players at the table or it will be a disaster.


Black again.

We had a really good time with it; Eric & Chrissy picked up the strategy quickly and it kept us completely engrossed. I had a lead in points coming down the home stretch, but my opponents had done a better job of setting themselves up for the endgame points, so I was fairly convinced that I was going to get creamed at the end-game. As luck would have it, I was able to squeeze my way into enough cities to give me the win by six points.

I'm really glad to have this one in the collection. It's an excellent game if the conditions are right, and it's one of the best-looking games I own as well. It also seems like a game that could only have come out in the early 2000s, when a company like Ravensburger was still willing to put together a really gorgeous production of a gamer's game. Ordinarily I would look at it wistfully and think "I should really play that more often" while knowing in my heart that I won't, but Eric and Chrissy enjoyed it enough that I think I can bring it back the next time we're a threesome. Hmm…maybe I could make a geeklist of the best three-player games in my collection…

I tell ya: I don't have a huge game collection, and I don't have a particularly current game collection, but dammit, there's some good stuff in there.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:44 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

2012 in Review

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Totals:
179 game plays
87 different games played
27 new-to-me games played

Most-played games:
Yavalath: 15
Little Italy: 9
Cheeky Monkey: 8
Escalation!: 8
Indigo: 6
Ingenious Challenges: 6
Crokinole: 5
Pandemic: 5

Favorite new-to-me games played:
Cannon
Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War
Imperial 2030

Collection:
140 games
17 expansions
15 unrated
1 unplayed (Dragonmaster)
67 games by Reiner Knizia
Percent of collection played in 2012: 31%

2012 additions to collection:
1. Little Italy
2. Cannon
3. Penguin Soccer
4. Yavalath
5. Saint Petersburg: New Society & Banquet Expansion
6. Indigo
7. Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War


Expansions not included unless specifically mentioned
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Tue Jan 1, 2013 11:26 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Manly Warfare, Pursued Manfully with Manliness

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
I played my first game of Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War with BGGer

Is Not Geddy Lee
United States
Sandy Hook
Connecticut
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

yesterday. We opted for the 431 scenario, and we made it about halfway through before we had to quit because of time. This was, I think, the fifth wargame I have played, the others being Squad Leader, EastFront, Breakout: Normandy, and Crusader Rex. It's one of the least rules-heavy of the bunch, perhaps being just a little more involved than Crusader Rex. We got a two important rules wrong, though, since it was the day after Thanksgiving, we were both a little tired, and I hadn't had as much time to prepare as I had hoped, but the game played well nonetheless and we both enjoyed it. Eric happened to sit down at the North side of the board so he played Athens.

Early on I attacked Platea and Naupactis, and I ended up holding on to Platea for most of the five years that we played. Eric played the "Athens Raises Taxes" event early, and this was one of our mistakes, because we didn't apply the tax revolt part of the card. I would have racked up a lot more prestige over the course of things if we had played this right! Meanwhile he used his extra actions to recruit and build, and when I later tried to attack his capital he was too tough for me. I would never be able to besiege Athens and use the plague cards I would draw from time to time, and thus I was never able to get rid of Pericles.

Eric would later play another Raise Taxes card, which, added to Pericles's bonus and the first raise tax card, got him an extra three actions every time he maneuvered, and so his forces gradually grew stronger on the mainland. Potidea was liberated and Pella taken, and eventually all of Ambraca fell. Units surged out of Athens, and Thebes and occupied Platea were besieged. Eric was very clever to use the fog of war to his advantage; it didn't occur to me until too late that a sizable part of the scary-looking force that he had built up in his capital were wimpy naval units.

He had his problems too, however. I drew into loads and loads of revolt cards, and soon his subject cities were all shrugging off the yoke of oppression. Even if he had stronger forces, I was sneaking ahead on prestige. I should have had even more, actually, because we were flubbing another rule: I was only awarding 1 prestige point per occupied city, not the city value.

We called it quits after the fifth year, and it was hard to tell who was in better shape. Eric had beaten or starved my forces in Platea and Boeotia down to shadows of their former selves, but he had only just begun cleaning up the mess in the subject cities. Meanwhile, I had just scored the Ids fleet, and was ready to make some trouble.

Regardless of the fact that we screwed up rules and didn't finish (and had a seven-year-old standing next to us telling us that it was boring) we really enjoyed the game. It definitely conveyed the sense of managing a war across a far-flung empire as well as a feel for the time and place. We're going to try to get it on the table again soon.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:07 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Double Gaming! Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love I-84

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Had a fun night's gaming this weekend, and felt inspired to write something up about it.

First up was la casa de

Caleb
United States
Seminole
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

and a game of Tempus with his friends Ken and Dan. I had played once before, but it was years ago. I went first and picked out a primo spot on the map, but Dan plunked his guys down almost right on top of mine. What the hell! Meanwhile Caleb and Ken had acres of space off to themselves. I threw out a couple of early cities but then made a tactical error and Dan kerploded one. Soon after, Ken made a devastating encroachment into my territory, limiting my future city-placing options severely. We were only about a third of the way into the game and I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a little glum about my prospects. Meanwhile Caleb traipsed around his corner of the board without a care in the world, and, yes, I do believe I actually heard him say "tra la la" under his breath once.

Eventually my opponents became satisfied that I was no longer a threat or really even a participant and started eyeing each other instead. The wounded panther still had some bite left in him, however; I was able to tie Dan for first in the seafaring advancement round and in a flurry of boating I expanded my empire like some kind of third-world bird virus. Meanwhile Ken had made the costly mistake of having more than three hexes occupied with troops while also having no cards in his hand, and he got knocked down harder than a CL&P power line. I cleared him out of my backyard and was working towards plunking down a four-city but crafty Caleb outfoxed me and beat me to the punch.

As we made it down the home stretch, the game was clearly between me and Caleb; I had more cities and a lock on flight, but Caleb was occupying lots of hexes with his minions. At the final tallying we both had 24 points. First tiebreaker: cards in hand. We both had two. Second tiebreaker: most cities on board. I win! Woo!

That finished, I scooted over to the house of

Is Not Geddy Lee
United States
Sandy Hook
Connecticut
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

as he was also hosting a game night and moreover had apple crisp with Ferris Acres cinnamon ice cream. I know this because he had everyone taunt me by posting pictures of half-eaten apple crisp on my Facebook wall.

They had just finished up a game, so I threw Knizia's Strozzi on the table and subsequently got my first win, beating runner-up Chris Brennan by only five points. I was quite proud of myself. I felt like everything had finally clicked for me, which is not to say that I hadn't understood the game before, but this time around I felt like my intuition had finally kicked in and was helping me to make good decisions.

I've come to feel like Strozzi is one of the better middleweights I've played for groups of five or six. Players' turns are extremely fast, so the larger crowd doesn't slow the game down, and it's not one of those games where the luck factor increases exponentially with more players. In some ways you could say that the luck actually decreases, because there are fewer cards left out of the deck; if you are looking for something in particular, there's a better chance of it showing up in the course of things. I could understand some people feeling like the game doesn't have quite enough competitive "bite," but I think that bite comes with experience. There is definitely an increase in dramatic tension once you learn the deck, get a feel for how point-earning typically plays out, and figure out the worth of the Florence contracts.

What other middleweights do I like with five? Looking around my collection, the two that jump out at me first are card games, Die Sieben Siegel and Drahtseilakt. Ra and Bohnanza are good too, of course. What are yours?
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:23 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

New Knizia in the Collection

Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
A copy of Indigo arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm quite entirely pleased. Beautiful production, really nice bits, simple rules—perfect for playing with family or casual gamers.

My wife was too busy swearing at the TV for conking out just when she was trying to watch the Queen's jubilee*, so I had to play a couple of games against myself to try it out. It's nice—similar to Tsuro and Metro, but slightly more involved and perhaps less luck-dependent. Instead of moving their own pawns along the paths that they create, players are trying to bring gemstones to their home bases. Each home base has a number of connections, so it's not easy to cut one off.

Another interesting aspect is the shared home bases. There are six home bases, and in the two-player game each player controls three. In the three-player game, each player controls one outright and shares his other two with another player. In the four-player games all goals are shared with one other player. Whenever a gem enters a shared goal, a second gem is taken from the supply and each player receives one.

It's probably not a game that's going to appeal to those who play for theme or to hardcore gamers who want something complicated to grapple with, but if you want a short, simple positional abstract game that looks nice on the table and has a nice blend of luck and strategy, you could do a lot worse. If you like Ingenious, Genesis and Callisto (and why wouldn't you?), you'll probably like this one too.


*I've noticed that only a person of royal rank can really pull off a jubilee. If anyone else told you that they were having a jubilee you would probably just laugh in their face.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Wed Jun 6, 2012 1:57 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2  Next »  

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.