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Strategic Boardgaming Tales

A firsthand account of my adventures in Boardgaming.

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Saturday's Smorgasbord (BGG.CON 2012, day 4)

Kevin Marshall
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
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Saturday was a sleep-in day. I was very slow to rise.

My friend and I had discussed tackling something meaty, so we decided upon Vinhos.

Vinhos - Vinhos was released last year at Essen, but I didn't get around to playing it until a few months ago. It's an economic/manufacturing game where you take on the role of an aspiring winemaker in Portugal. The game can handle 2-4 players, and we played with 3. This was only we second play of the game but it ran much quicker than I expected, even though it was new to the other two players. The game features a lot of different mechanisms to score (many paths to victory). There is a sort of worker placement aspect to it that is also a bit similar to a rondel. This is a game that I rate a 9, and I hope to play it more this year.

Snowdonia - Next up was Snowdonia in the hot games room. It's a worker placement game from Tony Boydell. You're attempting to get the most victory points as you're building a railway to the top of a mountain (Snowdon). You've only got 2 workers, unless to spend coal to coax a third worker out of the pub (???). The game was fun and pretty straightforward. It was interesting to see how the four of us each gravitated to different strategic paths. I didn't pick this one up, but I believe someone from our gaming group did. I look forward to playing it some more if that's the case.

Helvetia - Another game I'd played before. A friend was interested in learning this one, so...why not? This is a 2011 release from Mattias Cramer. It's a worker placement game that allows you to marry off your workers and raise new "workers". It features a variety of interesting mechanisms and generally winds up being a very close game...at least in my limited experience. You're often torn between bringing your progeny back home to put them to work in your buildings and sending them off to neighboring villages to marry (giving you access to the resources they've developed). There is also a mechanism by which you can gain extra actions (and temporary victory points) by having the majority of action pawns on any particular activity. There's plenty to think about in this one.

Kolejka - This 2-5 player game is about trying to fulfill your shopping list in Communist Poland. Actually its mostly about waiting in line...but fun. There's LOT'S of opportunities to screw your neighbors in this one. It's a real "take that" sort of a game where you can manipulate people's position in line and manipulate the very limited items in the stores...even shutting them down to "take inventory". This game produced a lot of laughter as we kept playing the "You spoke out against the government" card on Greg, forcing him to move back in line. I spent the better part of the game trying to get a food item, only to have the store shut down whenever I made it to the front of the line. FINALLY I was there and the store was open but someone wickedly swapped an item in the shop, leaving me with only a toothbrush for my efforts. I suspect dinner that night was awkward. A big thumb's up for this one!

Hula Hippos - This was a good game to change things up. Basically a dexterity game where you flick wooden mice trying to get them to wind up inside a spinning wooden ring when it stops spinning and falls down. Its tough to convey the experience, but it was a nice dose of silly fun.

Spin Monkeys - We thought this would be a simple kid's game, but now that I check it...it's for ages 13 and up. The idea is you're all monkeys in bumper cars careening around the jungle trying to pick up (or steal) fruit. It was fun for about 5 minutes, but it dragged on way too long. I have no interest in revisiting this one.

Our last game of the day (night...early morning) was Martin Wallace's Dr. Who: The Card Game. I was expecting a light card game, but it was more for CCG-players. You play various locations in front of you and try to defend them from attackers played by the other players. One interesting aspect is that once you've played enough cards to reduce your hand to two cards, you pass them to your opponent on your right, then play passes to your opponent on the left. I think I would have enjoyed this game more had I been more awake. I also don't watch Dr. Who, so I missed out on the references.
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Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:56 pm
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Friday's Final Frontier (BGG.CON 2012, day 3)

Kevin Marshall
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
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No, Friday was not my last day of the con, but it DID feature a couple of Star Trek-esque experiences.

The morning began with a venti drip and a stroll through the vendor area to learn something new. After having Tokaido explained, I was quickly summoned to the Stronghold games booth, where a game of Space Cadets was about to begin.

Space Cadets - Geoff Engelstein's 2012 cooperative starship simulation was a game I heard heard much about on a variety of podcasts. I was the last to arrive and was assigned the role of captain/damage control. In this game, each player has a role to play as a part of the crew of a starship. There was weapons, helm, engineering, shields, sensors, and of coarse...me, the captain. Each player has a little mini-game/puzzle that they try to solve during a 30 second period. Depending how well they do, they ship may or may not do what had been planned. For a group of 6 alleged "gamers" we failed miserably. Our mission was to destroy 3 enemy ships. Instead we never even managed to penetrate their shields. We managed sustain a core breach on turn 4 which quickly led to our demise. I had thought this would be a fun game for a group of non-gamers. I think I was wrong. I believe the difficulty would be discouraging. The game doesn't really scratch any sort of itch with me...light but difficult.

Il Vecchio - We happened upon this Rudiger Dorn, 2012 release in the Hot Games room. It will be available in the U.S. from Tasty Minstrel Games. It's a quick (1 hour) Euro that I enjoyed quite a bit. It's set in 15th Century Tuscany and the players represent the heads of Florentine families trying to rise in power. It is an area control game with very little downtime. Things move quick and there are a good number of decisions to make. I would have put in a pre-order for this, but a member of my gaming group bit first. I look forward to revisiting this one.

Tokaido - This game from Antoine Bauza is a thing of beauty. The board and the cards are gorgeous. I recommend it based solely on the game's appearance. The game-play is a bit lacking. There is not all that many decisions to make during a game. It is a set collection game that gets a C- on strategy and balance, but an A+ on looks. We had some issue with the layout of the board in regard to cramped quarters making movement difficult.

Antike Duellum - This one is a 2-player war game from Mac Gerdts. You can play Rome vs Carthage or Greeks vs Persians. Apparently its rules are modified form another of his games (Antike). I wasn't familiar with that game, so read over the rules while we ordered and ate a pizza. It uses a rondel for action selection (surprise, surprise). Combat is fairly abstracted, but this was not a detraction. The game flowed quickly and was not difficult to grasp. Mastering the strategy is another matter, and I like that. I would gladly play this one again, and might consider adding it to my X-mas list.

Artemis - Wow, what a blast. This was the other starship simulation and I want to play it again, and again, and again. Like Space Cadets each player has a role on the bridge (Communications, Science Officer, Helm, Weapons, Engineering, etc...). They each have a laptop in front of them that gives them information that pertains to their job. As Helmsman, I steered the ship and controlled its speed. I could also control the large oversized monitor that was our Captain's viewscreen. The Captain has no controls of his own, only the authority to order us to do what he wishes. The actual game-play is not very difficult, but what makes this interesting is getting six people to coordinate their activities. The graphics are rather low-end, but the fun is all in the interaction not the "pretty pictures". Our session ran 20 minutes, during which we destroyed a handful of enemy ships...but it really just whetted the appetite. It was fun afterwards to hear everyone talking about eventually setting up a bridge in their home. Remember to invite me!

P.I. - This Martin Wallace game from 2012, produced by Treefrog Games was most like a cross between Clue and Mastermind. We played with 5 and we had consumed a good amount of beer both before and during this game. In addition, my friend Dale brought along POUNDS of jerky which he kept passing our way to sample. I was in heaven. Good friends, beer, jerky and a Martin Wallace game...this is why I go to BGG.CON. We screwed the game up quite a bit but despite that, I think this game is clever and a lot of fun. I believe it will be great with families, gamers and non-gamers.

Tichu - I own Tichu, but cannot get anybody to play it. I've tried. So every year at BGG.CON I stay up past 4am one night and play Tichu with Bill and Tricia. I have a blast, and then I look forward to next year. Well, this year was much like the past. I think I crawled back up to my room at about 4:30am. I think I will try a little bit harder this year to find some Tichu opponents at home. Thanks Bill and Tricia!

Next time, we will cover Saturday's gaming exploits which began with wine, ended with a Tardis and somewhere in between there was a lot of waiting in line.
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Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:13 am
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Discrepant Distractions (BGG.CON 2012, day 2)

Kevin Marshall
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
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Having Starbucks coffee available 24/7 was a nice bonus this year. Once my morning caffeine infusion was complete I made my way down to the dealer area and explored a bit. It was very cool to have so much space for the vendors this year. While I didn't participate in the vendor bingo, it seemed a clever idea to promote interaction. Soon, 10am rolled around and I was off to try Queen Game's "Escape Experience".

Escape: The Curse of the Temple - Queen Games sponsored another big event this year and it was centered around this game. The game runs for about 10 minutes and features an accompanying soundtrack with audio cues that instill panic in the players. It is a cooperative game with a lot of rapid die-rolling where you are cast in the roll of an adventurer exploring a temple. The experience was fun but the game would not have a lot of replayability for me. Queen Games was very generous, giving away a game with each group of demo's (I think they ran 6 at a time), and a grand prize drawing that was for a trip to Essen 2013.

Vanuatu - I did not play a full game of this but in the vendor area was allowed to get a pretty good taste of what a whole game would entail...and I liked it. You are a Vanuatuan trying to prosper. Its a sort of action selection game where each action is carried out in the order based on who put the most "workers" there. You have many opportunities to thwart your opponents. Some of the actions include fishing, exploring and drawing in the sand. It plays with 3-5 and runs about 90 minutes. It's the right kind of medium weight Euro with a hefty dose of screwage tossed in.

VivaJava: The Coffee Game - This 2012 release from Dice Hate Me Games was different and interesting. You're trying to produce popular coffee blends from beans that you collect. One might categorize it as a "bean bag building game". The beans you collect go into a cloth bag and are drawn out randomly when you blend. Technology advances might allow you to set beans aside or even remove them from your bag altogether, helping you to make that top BOLD blend. There are points in the game you team up with other players that visited the same part of the world and you vote on whether to conduct research or to blend. This game had quite a lot of cool options. All and all a nice surprise.

Magnum Sal - While not a new release, it was new to me. A worker placement game involving salt mining sounds odd, but the game is solid. Lots of strategic options here. I look forward to playing more of this one. This game rewards early planning very nicely.

Northwest Passage Adventure - This one is about racing through icy waters to be the first to make it through the Northwest Passage. This game was my least favorite of the con. The rules were a mess. The game relied heavily on symbology which was highly inscrutable. Once the rules were finally deciphered, house rules were required to make an actual game of it.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - This was probably my favorite new game at the con. Much has been said about this game already, so I'll be brief. Its a worker placement game where placing the worker is only the beginning. A big strategic element of this game is deciding when to remove your worker, because it is at THAT point that the fruits of the workers' labor are determined. This game rewards foresight and the ability to juggle multiple actions. Its puzzly, yes...but I don't find that a bad thing. This is a game that I will enjoy solving. It forces you to flex some muscles that don't always get used in worker-placement games. There is a lot going on; resources, buildings, technologies, temple-climbing, CRYSTAL SKULLS. I cannot wait for my copy to arrive from Funagain Games.
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Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:27 pm
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Dumbfounded Day 1 (BGG.CON 2012)

Kevin Marshall
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
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Wednesday morning brings us to the opening of the con. Knowing that placement in line means little, I decided to sleep in. Having been up late gaming the night before may have contributed to this decision as well. As one would expect with so many attendees, the line was indeed lengthy. My friends an I settled into our position in line after our buffet breakfast and slowly progressed forward to acquire our badges and claim our "door prizes".

There were many games to choose from in regard to the prizes. Everyone was allowed to choose one from each of four different groups. I won't go into all that were available, but I wound up with New York, Martian Dice, Scavengers, and 1955: The War of Espionage. I haven't got around to playing any of them so those will be addressed in a future post.

Registration went smoothly for so large a group and after an elevator trip up to stash our goodies it was on to gaming. My buddy and I had made lists of the games we were most interested in and we divided some of those up for pre-con rule-reading. This was a good idea because rule-explainers are not always so easy to find.

Edo - Game number one was Edo, a 2012 Queen Games release. This one I like a lot. Mechanisms include action selection and area control. Each players has 4 square tiles with an action printed on each of the 4 edges of the square. You select 3 actions from the potential 12, but choosing one on a given tile means that you cannot select the other three on it. This game has a number of paths to victory and many meaningful decision points. Additional tiles can be gained which add more options. Right afterward my mind was going to work contemplating other paths to pursue in this game (always a good sign). Edo was one of my favorites of the con and I rated it a 9.

Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant - Martin Wallace's 2012 Mayfair release was up next. This game was taught to us at the Mayfair booth. We were able to sit there and play an entire game. In this game you're establishing airports in Europe (initially), purchasing planes and transporting passengers. Points can be gained from each of those activities. As you branch out further (North America, Africa, Asia) the point-gaining becomes more and more lucrative, but so do the risks. I liked this game quite a bit and rated it in the 7-8 range.

The Doge Ship - This is a worker-placement game released at Essen this year and will be published here in the U.S. by Rio Grande. It's set in 16th century Venice. The players are shipbuilders trying to gain the favor of the Doge by being the most impressive shipbuilder. You take turns placing your workers and paying costs for the actions you take. The costs vary from turn to turn depending on die-rolls at the beginning of each turn. You can build gondolas (to raise money), barricades (to stop the flood waters which can leave you with less workers to place if you neglect this activity), or build sections of the large galley...the Doge Ship. The various actions can alter what particular characteristics of the ship will be favored by the Doge each turn or even affect whether or not the Doge will be inspecting the ship on that turn. We played this with a full five players (plays 2-5). As with many worker-placement games, this might have been a mistake. It made the game drag a bit. I purchased this game and am curious to try it with 2 or 3. I bet that it will flow much faster.

Dream Factory - I'd never played this Reiner Knizia game before, but it was fun and amusing. You're a studio trying to produce films. The various films each have differing needs including directors, actors, music, effects, cameramen, guest-stars, and maybe another category I'm forgetting. You bid on packages of these to fill the slots on your film-card. Once filled the film is complete and you score depending on the quality of the people that worked on it. We played the German version of the game which features actual actors, directors and film names on the counters. This is what makes the game amusing. My masterpiece film was Harvey, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Orson Wells and guest-starring Yul Brynner. I also released All's Quiet on the Western Front with an all-female cast.

Love Letter - This one is part of AEG's "Tempest" line. These games are all set in a sort of shared world. It's a sort of renaissance era world. I played this one and Courtier while at the con. Love Letter is a quick but intriguing card game. There's only 16 cards in the deck and games are very fast. The story is that you are trying to get a love letter to the Princess without it being blocked by the actions of competing suitors. It definitely passes the "let's try it again" test. We played this one a number of times during the con including one mealtime game, managing to spare the cards a greasy fate. This was a good game at a great price (yes, I picked this one up as well)

Tune is next time to read what Thursday was like. It included both my favorite and least favorite games of the con.
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Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:12 pm
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Dallas Diversions (BGG.CON 2012)

Kevin Marshall
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
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Upon returning from the 2012 BGG.CON, I must say...whew! I had a LOT of fun, played MANY games (both new and old), and slept very little.

This year, along with my friend
Manuel Serpa
United States
Costa Mesa
California
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, several friends from the local Meetup gaming group also attended. It was great to have so many familiar faces present and I hope they had as much fun as I.

Before I go into the games played, I will comment on some of the changes this year. While I am not an "everytimer", this WAS my 4th BGG.CON. This year marked a significant increase in the number of attendees. I was concerned that this rise in number would have negative impacts, but for me this was not the case. The library seemed to have grown enough that it was not difficult to get the game you wanted (unless it was King of Tokyo, the library's 2 copes seemed to be checked out every time I checked).

The new location was amazing. It was a beautiful hotel with plenty of space. I think that it matched the increase in attendees marvelously, making the convention seem just about equal in crowd-density to prior years. The main ballroom for open-gaming was enormous, but appropriately so. The hotel staff were friendly. The food reasonable in both quality and price. Rooms were big and clean. I liked the set-up at the main desk that made for easy printing of boarding passes for return-flights. All and all the place was great and at no point did I miss the old location (but I suspect those that wound up stuck in the elevator on Sunday might feel differently).

I arrived in the late afternoon on Tuesday. After checking in and grabbing some dinner I hooked up with four friends and we managed get get a few pre-con games in.

Perikles - This Martin Wallace game from 2006 is a favorite of mine. We had 5 players which is the number at which this game rocks. Only one of us had not played before, and he caught on quick. I don't recall the victor, but I believe it was fairly close. Whenever I get this game to the table, I am surprised at how little love this game gets. I suppose it has to do with the fact that it REALLY needs five players for the best experience, despite it claiming that it can be played with 3-5.

Rumble in the House - This 2011 release from Flatlined Games was brought along by
Bob Mesrop
United States
Camarillo
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. It is a quick filler that was a fun, lighthearted fight between twelve amusing animals/monsters/ninjas that are for unknown reason all occupying the same house. The art is very whimsical and is really what makes the game. Curiously, this game was one of the door-prizes available the next morning when checking in to the convention.

Las Vegas - We ended our pre-con gaming with Rudiger Dorn's 2012 Spiel des Jahres Nominee, which is a common night-ender with our gaming group. I own it and always enjoy it. It was difficult to find when I got my copy and I hope it is now easier to acquire. For those that are not familiar with it, it is a dice-rolling game where you get to assign your dice to various casinos with the hope that you will wind up with the most in that location, thereby winning the money at that particular spot.

In my next installment, I will go into the games played on the first day of the con.
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Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:21 pm
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Capturing Canada

Kevin Marshall
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
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Last week at our Tuesday Meetup gaming group, we played 1812: The Invasion of Canada. This is another new game from Academy Games. It is interesting in many ways. First and foremost, it is a wargame that is playable by 2-5 players.

The game has two sides, the U.S. (made up by the American Regulars and the American Militia) and the Canadian side (made up by the British Regulars, the Canadian Militia, and the 6 Nations Native Americans). This is how 5 can play the game, one faction being played by each. Its also possible for players to control multiple factions on the same side. It seems to me that the best case scenarios would be 2 or 5 players, but I've only played with 5.

The game has a nice quality board, as one would expect from Academy Games. There is a 12-card deck for each of the 5 factions. The cards are of good quality and have nice artwork depicting the card's function on the top half with symbols at the bottom giving you the specific details.

Players muster troops at the beginning of their turn and then play a movement card to get them where they are needed. There are four special cards in each deck that can also be played and have various effects on movement and battles.

Battles occur when an army (group of troop cubes) moves into an area with enemies. Players roll dice depending on what troops are present (and how many). These are special d6's that vary from faction to faction, indicative of that faction's strengths and weaknesses. Combat is simple and quick, but still exciting.

Endgame is triggered when either side has played all of its "truce" cards. Each faction has a movement card that is also a truce card. Once each faction's card is played by either side, THAT is the last turn of the game. This is a very interesting mechanic, because turn order is random each turn. In fact, you don't know who will go after you, until the second to last player has gone (because at that point, only one player is left). At game's end whichever side has more captured enemy "objectives" wins.

In our game, I commanded the American Regulars. Early on we seized the initiative and pressed into Canada, forcing our opponents to react to our advances. It was a 3 pronged attack launching northward out of Plattsburg, swooping around through Detroit, and punching up the middle into Ft. Erie out of Buffalo.

We made a tactical error when we took Ft. Erie, we left Buffalo unprotected, which enabled the 6 Nations units to use a special ability to move out of battle into our land. Our opponents took full advantage of this and pressed onward over the next few turns, eventually capturing four objectives.

I played my "truce" card early in the game, as it was a very powerful movement card. We needed it then. Now here we were down 4 to 1 and my partner's only movement card was HIS "truce" card. Cue the dramatic music...

We couldn't let them know that we HAD to end the game this turn, so we put on our poker faces and reached into the bag and drew...one of their colors. They had the first turn. They moved a few troops here and there, confident in their holdings. Next cube...one of theirs. Again they mustered and moved up close to the lines, but no attacks. Third cube...theirs! They discussed whether or not to press further South, but decided to put it off til next turn, massing their forces. Whew!

We revealed our "truce" card, indicating this would be the final turn. As they studied the board they were heard saying "They could win this." The American Militia player went first and moved four armies, but did not battle, he stacked our lines, because we knew we had to win all four battles to ensure a victory. On my turn, I pressed into each held territory with overwhelming forces. But, again, I made a tactical error, failing to leave any troops behind the one battle that involved the 6 Nations. We won the other three battles and then focused our attention on this last one. If we failed to kill them, and they rolled a single "command decision" they would snatch victory from us. We held our breath as they rolled a single die...

Well, those Injuns got a good look at us Yanks and decided to run back North. It was a very close match, coming down to the final die roll. Aren't those the best?
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Wed Feb 1, 2012 9:05 pm
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Hammer Hindered

Kevin Marshall
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Thousand Oaks
California
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I've played Strike of the Eagle a couple of times in the last month and I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Strike of the Eagle (SoE) is a diceless, block game by Academy Games (makers of the Conflict of Heroes games and 1812:Invasion of Canada). It is the first in their line of Fog of War games. The block system keeps you guessing throughout the game, which really adds to the experience.

The components are amazing. If you haven't seen the board, go check out one of the video reviews. Its a thing of beauty...and huge. Its a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get into the game you notice how manageable it is...and the work that must have gone into its creation. The cardboard pieces are all of very good quality as well. The blocks themselves require a bit of work, to apply all the stickers. But its a one-time thing and then you can put it behind you.

The rulebook is organized clearly and like other Academy Games products, it includes plenty of historical notes to help with one's understanding of the battles that are to be fought. They include an introductory scenario to help ease one into the system.

I've fought through two of the battles, playing the Polish both in both cases. The most recent game was a 4-player endeavor with 2 players per side, one running the Northern Front and the other the Southern Front. The rules handle this well. Last night's game had me looking at massive Soviet forces poised to overrun our lines and march their way to Warsaw. It looked like it would be too much at first. Studying the map, I realized that there was relatively little connectivity at my line. So, rather than stand there and face the hammer, I fell back to more defensible positions.

The Soviets wisely advanced at the most Northern point, sweeping past our line to begin their march to Warsaw. Warsaw is a big deal in this scenario, if the Poles can keep the Soviets out of it by the end of each round, they get 5 victory points.

I placed 4 divisions on a train and began to head back to defend Warsaw. Before the railway redeployment ended, I noticed that we were in striking distance of Kaunas, a key Lithuanian supply-point. We gambled, hopping off the train and force-marching North to defeat Kaunas' garrison. This placed the now over-extended Soviets in a dire situation. Being out of supply damages the infantry and cavalry as well as limits their command options. They made a last ditch effort to capture Vilinius, but its fortifications managed to hold, pressing back the Soviet cavalry.

At this point things went from bad to worse for the Soviets. Bad weather brought further advances to a near standstill. In addition, the Soviets' war in Crimea and depleted vital resources bringing Tukhachevshy's Offensive to a halt.

I cannot wait to try this scenario as the Soviets and see if I can reach Warsaw.
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Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:13 pm
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Convention Cornucopia

Kevin Marshall
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Thousand Oaks
California
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It has been quite a while since I blogged, but this past week I attended my 3rd BGG CON and I figured I would run through the games I played while there.

Tuesday Night:
Urban Sprawl - I brought this one. We've been playing it with three players at home and having a blast. This time I played with four and it dragged a bit. It might have been that there were 2 new players. There was also a really long run of events that seemed sort of odd.

7 Wonders - Played with seven players. Five of whom I did not know. It was a lot of fun.

Saboteur - Hooked up with six people about to play this and my friend and I were invited to join in. This was a great group of people and the game was a blast.

Wednesday, first day of the con:
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game - A friend wanted to play this. The two of us were stomped just as we reached the boss room. We recruited a third player for a second try. This time we pulled it off. It was fun, didn't seem all that different than Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game.

Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War - Stronghold games made a nice new version of this code-cracking sort of chess-like game. The pieces are amazing, but the cost was a bit on the high side.

Panic Station - I had high expectations for this game that was billed as a 45 minute version of Battlestar Galactica. I was underwhelmed with its play. It was rather fiddly and there was an odd desire to become infected and join the winning side.

The Road to Canterbury - I had never heard of this new game. Apparently it was kickstarted. I'm glad I tried it out. You take on the role of an unscrupulous seller of indulgences to pilgrims on the road to Canterbury. It works well with 2 or 3 players. It was simple rules-wise, but still very strategic. It will be great for my wife and I.

Tournay - This is a card game that has some similarities to Troyes. I enjoyed it. There is a lot of iconography but once you have that down, its a good one.

Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game - I played the US and got a tech win. I've played this game twice now and got a tech win both times.

Cartagena 2. The Pirate's Nest - After a full day, we closed with this Always fun.

Thursday:
Dungeon Run - This was another one I had high hopes for It wound up seeming a bit lengthy for what it was. I heard later that we had used more tiles than were meant to be used. I suspect the game demonstrators had not encountered a more distrustful bunch as us. Fun, but a bit too lengthy.

Strike of the Eagle - New, from Academy Games. I played through the introductory scenario. I own this block-game and cannot wait to get some more plays in.

Nefarious - A quick card game where you are a mad scientist vying for world domination This game is highly replayable. I wound up playing it three times throughout the con. Designed by Donald X. Vaccarino (Dominion and Kingdom Builder), this is on my Want To Buy list.

Liberté - I own this Martin Wallace game and have been wanting to play it. It was a fun one. I'd like to get more plays in (crosses fingers).

Lancaster - This game from Queen Games was one of my favorites from the con. Its a Euro with a lot of ways to mess with your opponents. Funagain games sold out of it there. I played it twice at the con and look forward to more plays.

Pergamemnon - Card game. Lame. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Friday:
Quarriors! - This is a dice version of a deck-building game. Its very much a game of chance, but still fun. Several of my friends at the con picked it up, thinking it would be good for the whole family.

Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game - We played this with a guy who brought his copy. He had painted the figures and black-lined the tiles. This game had of those classic cinematic endings where we were about to lose and my halfling thief pops out of the shadows to stab the big boss for the win. It seemed like the characters in this iteration were more powerful than in the others. Maybe it was my imagination.

Can't Stop - This was an updated version of game from the 80's. Not exactly my cup of tea, but its nice to try different things. Dice rolling, press your luck.

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) - We finally got to play this. I think once was enough for me. A lot going on and a lot to have to manage. People often describe these games as very cinematic and memorable. For me...not so much, oh well.

Long Shot - We needed something light at this point. This fit the bill and was a fun think-break.

Dixit - Played with 5, 3 had never played before. Always fun. Was good late at night like this.

Saturday:
Dark Minions - This was a fun little dice-rolling, set collection game where you get to be a evil overlord laying waste to cities and towers. I'd play again, but probably not purchase it.

Kingdom Builder - I entered the tournament thinking I'd get a chance to play it before the tournament began. This was not the case. I learned it from the guy who translated the rules to English about 20 minutes before the first round began. I managed to make it to the second round, but wound up coming in second place in that game. The game is a lot of fun. I look forward to more plays now that I own it (but will have to pay my OWN way to Essen).

Alien Frontiers - Dice rolling game of area control. Uses a sort of a twist on worker placement, as you place your dice. I'd certainly play this one again. Many interesting decisions to make.

Upon a Salty Ocean - Euro economic engine game involving salt and fish. It was much more fun than that previous sentence. We consumed a lot of beer during this one and I think people thought we were playing a party game.

Fiasco - This had to be the highlight gaming experience of the con for me. This is an RPG without a Gamemaster. In essece, you create and play out a Cohen Brothers movie. Much hilarity. My character, a professor of rainforest pharmacology wound up butchering a Saudi Prince and paying the price by having his head used as a soccer ball. I'm leaving out may details, you can learn them when you see the film.

Sunday:
Stalag 17 - A set collection card-game, where you try to escape a WWII POW camp. It was quick and fun. A good filler.

I'm sure I forgot something, but that is all I recall.

whew!
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Wed Nov 23, 2011 6:15 am
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Heroes Halt Historically Horrible Homicides

Kevin Marshall
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Letters from Whitechapel

This week at our gaming Meetup I brought along a new game that I had not yet played, "Letters from Whitechapel". I had read over the rules a couple of times and everything seemed very clear. I was excited to get this one to the table, as I had never played a deductive game like this. I'd read about Scotland Yard and Fury of Dracula, which I often see compared to "Letters from Whitechapel" but never managed to ever play them.

The game centers around the murders of Jack the Ripper. The board is large and very detailed, depicting the Whitechapel district of London. One player is Jack and the rest play policemen or detectives trying to track him down. The game can be played by 2-6 players, with 2 or 6 probalbly being optimal. With other numbers the police are divided up unevenly between the players.

There are some interesting mechanisms employed in this game. Intially a number of tokens are placed upon the board by Jack. These represent potenial locations of potential victims. One of the investigators then places a number of tokens on the board, some of which will wind up representing police, and others are simply there to fool Jack. There are mechanisms for Jack to try to figure our which are fake, but this allows the police to move the potential victims, bringing them closer together...which will make their work easier.

At some point Jack will strike and the scene of the crime is revealed. At this point the investigators know exactly where Jack is (except on the 3rd night, when he kills twice) but Jack will move before them. The investigators then get to move and try to sort out where Jack went by looking for clues (or making arrests if they feel particularly confident).

Jack's movements are all recorded in secret. Each turn when the invstigators search for clues, Jack consults his secret record and tells them if they found a clue ot not.

Jack also has at his disposal a dwindling number of "special movement" tokens. These allow Jack to move twice in one turn (the coach) or to pass through city blocks (alleyway). These are invauable for Jack and can make capturing him, daunting.

We played once and the game lasted roughly an hour or so. I played as Jack and it was a bit stressful at times to plot my escape with so many people thrying to thwart me. It was loads of fun to sit back after making my move and watch the other players discuss their theories as to where I went. I had to struggle to hold back a grin when they overlooked a possibile route.

They wound up capturing me on the 3rd night (out of four), the double-murder night. It was very close and if I had gotten one more move, I'd have slipped past them and been home in my lair (twists imaginary moustache).

This game, while dark in theme, was a blast. The board is amazing to look at. There are so many possible routes from A to B, they did a great job with is. I cannot wait to play it again. Playing Jack was fun, but I think the role of investigator will pose interesting challenges as well.
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Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:33 pm
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Veni, Vidi, Vici

Kevin Marshall
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Tribune: Primus Inter Pares

At this week's game-night I managed to get four different games in. A couple of them were light games I had brought. I also managed to learn two new (to me) games. Among them...Tribune: Primus Inter Pares.

This game, designed by Karl-Heinz Schmiel, is produced by Fantasy Flight Games. It is a 3-5 player game, estimated at lasting around one hour.

I purchased this game last December when Fantasy Flight Games had their big annual sale. I believe I got it for fifteen dollars and the expansion for ten. As this was around x-mas and shortly after BGG CON, I had a plethora of new games to learn and play. Consequently "Tribune" wound up getting placed on the back burner. I was curious about it and had heard good things about the game, but had simply not managed to get it to the table (or even open it)

I was pleasantly surprised by the game. It was fairly easy to learn. We played with four and two of us had not played it before. The components are the typical good quality that one expects from FFG. There are many carboard chits to represent money, laurels, legions, and favor with the various factions in the game. It even includes a cool little cardboard chariot.

The game utilizes a variety of mechanisms to allow players to portray various patrician families vying for power in ancient Rome. There's auction mechanics, worker placement, set collection and even a bit of card drafting involved.

Despite employing all these varying mechanics, the games flows fairly smoothtly, The theme comes through as well during play. I'd been listening to some historical podcasts recently on the decline and fall of the Roman republic (Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History'), and the game had me thinking back to the details of those stories.

The game may be a bit too complex to bring out for my family, but I'd like to try it with some of my gamer friends that don't enjoy Euros.
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Fri Apr 8, 2011 7:46 pm
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