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ABX Boardgamers' Group (What we're playing)

A weekly AAR for what we've been playing at our weekly Boardgame Day at Augusta Book Exchange in Augusta, GA. http://comics-n-games.com/backlot/

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AAR for 22 Aug 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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My 59th birthday today. Woo Hoo! *NOT* ;-P

Legendary
Three more attempts at tackling the very difficult Civil War expansion. We had four players for each of the three games today. First up, we took two tries at trying to defeat Ragnarok and the Predict Future Crime scheme. The first try saw us lose badly when we drew nothing but high-strength Villains and high-cost Heroes early on. Our second attempt went much better, but we ended up losing by being overwhelmed by new Villains due to a poorly-timed Scheme Twist with only four cards remaining in the Villain deck. So, we trudged onward and tried out Baron Zemo and the Reveal Heroes Secret Identities scheme. Here we figured out the right strategy to keep the Scheme from beating us, but it looked as though we might run out of time. Two cards remained in the Villain deck. If the last Scheme Twist was the next card, we would lose. Anything else and we had a chance to put the final whack on Zemo. We got lucky and did not draw the Scheme Twist and won the game literally at the last possible moment. Still a few more to go through. These new ones are all tough, but they're all loads of fun to play!

Mare Nostrum: Empires
Brought this one back for a new player. Three player game, where I took Rome against Greece and Carthage. Greece attacked me as I was trying to peacefull expand (*cough* *cough*) and that put us into a war where Carthage was quite happy to sit on the outside, egg us both on, and build up an overwhelming economy with no resistance. Finally put Greece into a bad position, but Carthage snuck off with the victory by achieving "Leader" status on all three tracks. Caesar demands a rematch!


Other games played today included: Dice Masters and Legendary Encounters: Firefly...
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Tue Aug 23, 2016 5:37 am
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AAR for 15 Aug 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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GenCon is over and the new releases are showing up. Great time for gaming!

Legendary Encounters: Firefly
Maybe the most-anticipated new release of the summer. Legendary Encounters travels out to the 'Verse and lets players assume the roles of the crew of Serenity. This couldn't help but be a major hit with our group. The game is organized as a three-part story, much like Alien and Predator before it, but each part is one episode of the TV series. All nine major characters are available, with the interesting twist that players choose five Avatars as Main Characters, with the unchosen four becoming the Crew and using their 14-card decks to construct the Crew Deck. Players' Avatars have Talent and Flaw abilities that are triggered when those cards are gained into their deck and played. A few other tweaks to give the right flavor to the storylines being played and you have a terrific game.

We played three games today, one each with two, three, and five players. First up, we went against the two-part pilot episode and Episode 2 "Train Job". We took Mal and Zoe as our player characters, with Book, Inara, and River as our NPC Mains. This one was, naturally, a feeling-out process for game play, but we made it almost to the end of the third and final episode before failing to complete the final Objective. In Game Two, we had three of us against Episodes 3, 4, and 5. Our player characters were Simon, Jayne, and River, with Zoe and Inara completing the Main characters. This time, however, we got stomped rather badly in Episode 4 and all of us got "Defeated" at once for an automatic loss. Undaunted, and now with five players, we tried again. It was Book, Inara, River, Wash, and Simon as Mains. This time we did *much* better and won the game after taking out both Grange Brothers in the final Episode.

The game has a great thematic feel to it and was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. It's not easy to win, but good cooperation ended up getting us a victory. The game also has a Campaign mode where can take an initial crew and guide them through all five sets of three Episodes, with characters improving along the way. I can see that getting played.

Quartermaster General: Victory or Death
This is the Kickstarter follow-up to the the original WW2 game and is set in the Peloponnesian War featuring Athens (with Delian League) vs Sparta (with Corinth). The game features low piece density, simple unit types (Hoplites and Triremes) and unique deck of play cards for each of the four powers in the game. We had three players, so one took Athens/Delian, while I took Corinth and my teammate took Sparta. The rules are simple, but the strategies can be tight and deep due to the nature of the card play. Cards can be Prepared for us on following turns. Status cards can grant game-long powers. You Muster units, fight Battles, and play Events that can shake things up in unexpected ways. The game lasts for fifteen rounds with most VP determining the winner. VP are gained by owning cities and through certain Status cards. Our game was quite close through the third scoring round (after nine turns) until Athens ran out of cards and had to take VP penalties for not having cards in hand to play. That would help open up what would be a six-point win for the Oligarchs of Sparta/Corinth. Fun!
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Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:24 am
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AAR for 08 Aug 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Should boardgaming be in the Olympics? :-)

Baseball Highlights: 2045
Broke out one of my favorite games for solitaire play while waiting for other gamers to arrive at the store. I got stomped badly, 0-3, in the mini-series, but started to turn things around once the World Series got started. I ended up taking it 4 games to 1.

Quartermaster General: Victory or Death
This new Kickstarter game takes the original game from WW2 to the Peleponnesian War featuring Athens (with the Delian League) vs Sparta (with Corinth). In a very close and exciting game, Athens pulled out a slim victory. I hope this system continues to be successful and that it will eventually feature more historical situations.

Mystic Vale
Two more games of this very popular new title. I got stomped in one game and handed out a stomping in the other. Each game continues to show new strategies for building and playing your cards. If this system is used for future games, as is being promoted, there will be lots of good gaming ahead.

Dragonwood
Three of us battled for creatures. This game played out rather differently from many of the others previously played since nobody seemed to be able to draw good card combos and the Enchantment cards were few and far between. As such, there was a lot of card drawing and that, of course, sped up the game to its conclusion. I won it, but only scored 22 points.

Vikings
Three-player game with two new players. I got a Raiding strategy going early on due to my Heroes and was able to turn this into plenty of Spoils, which converted into plenty of VP. In the end, I took a close 68-62-58 win.

7 Wonders
A couple of new members to the group came in with their favorite game, so four of us played three rounds of this classic. I won the first game and came in a close 2nd in the other two. It's been too long since this one has been on the table in our group.


Other games played today included: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Dice Masters, Dark Deeds, and On Her Majesty's Service...
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Tue Aug 9, 2016 5:36 am
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AAR for 01 August 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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"Dog days" of August? At ABX right now, it's the "Cat days" of August.

Ogre: Objective 218
We had a good crowd later in the day, but early on there were only two of us. So, we broke out this one and had a battle. I'm learning new tactics I can use with the new Ogre card in this game and exploited one of them to gain the win.

Mystic Vale
A new game from AEG that is said to be the first in a new line featuring a new mechanism they are calling the "Card Crafting System". It's a deck-building game, but you don't add or remove cards from your starting deck. You modify and improve those cards by purchasing and inserting clear plastic inserts containing resource symbols and text abilities into the card sleeves. The tarot-sized cards have a top, middle, and bottom position where card graphics can show through and build up to create strong combos. Players are wizards trying to repair the damage done by evil spirits to a formerly idyllic valley. The cards represent their efforts towards that goal. VP are gathered from a fixed pool and the game ends when the pool is empty. These combine with VP on the cards themselves and add up to determine the winner. I just picked up this game over the weekend and has proven to be extremely popular among all who have tried it. We had three different games today, one with three players and two more with four players each. The game plays very quickly and is quite easy to learn. I was able to win two of those games, but they were all very close. I'm looking forward to seeing where AEG is going to go with this series!

Vikings
A two-player game today that introduced a new player to this game of exploration and planning. I got a Hero combo that made my trips across the sea relative painless and that gave me better chances for a lot of exploration after making landfall. For a game with a lot of rules, it plays very smoothly and I've yet to see any new player struggle with it.

Baseball Highlights: 2045
Two of us who also enjoy playing the app version of this game sat down to try to lead our respective teams to the World Series title. This one featured several very good mini-games, with three of them going into extra innings and four others being won on the very last card. This included one thrilling 9-8 game where we had to play two sets of extra innings to decide it. In the end, we were tied at 3-3 in the World Series and I held home-field advantage for the final game. A hard-fought defensive game ensued. It was scoreless until we traded Homerun cards, but mine ended up being a grand slam and got me a 4-3 victory.


Other games played today included: Android: Mainframe, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and T.I.M.E. Stories...
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Tue Aug 2, 2016 5:33 am
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AAR for 25 Jul 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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One political convention fiasco down, one more to go....

Nexus Ops
This is one of those games that I have always wanted to play, but, for some reason, have never actually played or owned. So, I was very happy to finally get a chance to give this one a try. This is a sci-fi tactical combat game where players represent corporations trying to exploit the mineral resources of an extra-terrestrial planet. Each side has to enlist creatures to fight for its cause and the game is played out over a relatively small tile-based map with a monolith in the center that confers advantages to the player who controls it. You maneuver and fight to gain control of rubium mines and to fulfill secret objectives for VP. 12 VP wins the game they can be hard to come by -- until an opponent suddenly springs something on you. In our two-player game, I held a slight lead for most of the game until my opponent killed one of my Rubium Dragons and achieved a 3VP mission that put him up to the 12VP level for the win. Great game and one I'm looking forward to playing again.

Fire & Axe
After today's Dice Masters tournament, we got our Viking on and set out for some good old trade/raid/settle action. We had to cut the game off a little short due to running out of time, but everybody who was a new player had a great time with this one.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters and Eldritch Horror...
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Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:56 am
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AAR for 18 Jul 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Maybe we could help get rid of some of the world's problems by getting people off the streets and into the game stores... :-)

Dragonwood
We don't really need any "warming up" on these ridiculously hot days, but we kicked off the gaming day with a quick 2-player round of this current favorite. I got a lot of smaller creatures, my opponent got several bigger creatures, and the game went in my favor by one little point because of the +3VP bonus I got for having more creatures. Great game!

Rattle Battle: Grab the Loot
This is a pirate-themed game where players try to attain fame and fortune by defeating enemies in battle and building bigger and better ships and crews through a series of scenarios. It uses an interesting dice mechanic where each die represents a ship in the current battle. All dice are collected up and dropped (not rolled) into the center of the game box. Of course, they will scatter to and fro and where they end up relative to each other determines the necessary movements and cannon fire needed to wreak havoc on them. You get Loot from defeated and boarded ships and use them to acquire ship/crew upgrades and more VP. This one requires some turn-to-turn planning in order to maximize your abilities and that made it fun.

Heroes of the World
We got a full five-player game going here and that always makes for a great game. You have fewer turns to maneuver and gain points, so that makes each move more important and nerve-racking. Two of us broke away from the pack as the Modern Epoch started. I wasn't able to get a card to finish and score the Middle East, where I had a clear advantage, and that ended up relegating me to a 2nd place finish.

Vikings
This is a game based upon a TV series that I haven't watched, but I've heard some good things about. But, since I'm always a sucker for a Viking-themed game, and picked this one up for 1/2 price, it hit the table so we could see what it had. It's a game played over three years, with a Winter season where you provision your longboats followed by a Summer season, where you sail, explore, trade, raid, and plunder. You don't attack the other players directly, but you can do things to interfere with their plans. It's a bit of a sandbox-type game in the Summer season as there are many different ways you can go to earn the required VP to try to win the game. The planning needed in this one is absolutely critical. You can fulfill Quests from Seers, use Heroes from the show to bolster your abilities, and you always have to carefully manage both your available time and your resources to do everything you want. In our three-player game, I got a strong Raiding combo going with my Heroes and rode that to a nice win. I'm looking forward to a full five-player game to see how thinly things get stretched and how the resulting competition will increase.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters....
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Tue Jul 19, 2016 5:57 am
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AAR for 11 Jul 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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All-Star Week in Major League Baseball!

Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis
A new tactical combat game set in the gladiatorial arena in the glory days of Rome. Players are free to select Attacks and Defenses from a deck of available cards that is customized to the particular type of gladiator being played. A draw deck resolves control, attack/defense success, and damage amounts and locations. Attempting to gain flank or rear positions vs the opponent can be very advantageous, as well. There are many stats possessed by each player, but the key ones are Stamina and Hit Points. Losing stamina reduces your other attributes and, of course, losing hit points gets you killed or forces you to appeal to the crowd for mercy. The tactical options each turn are very interesting and the resolution of each move is very dramatic. There is also a campaign mode in the game where you can start as a basic fighter and work your way up through the ranks to become the top gladiator in Rome and eventually gain your freedom -- the Rudis. Our game was a first playthrough and went rather smoothly. My Stamina ran down before my opponent's did, but I put enough damage on him to make him appeal for mercy. The crowd, however, were having none of it and he got his ticket to the afterlife.

Dice Masters
Tonight's tournament was an Elite constructed event contested under "Gauntlet" stipulations. Here you began the next match with whatever hit points you had remaining after the previous match. So, you could win but still be at a decided disadvantage in the next match. This led to many teams focusing heavily on defense and life gaining tactics. I decided to take a different approach and go straight for a Lantern Ring beatdown deck featuring lots of cheap Shield characters. The idea was to thrash the opponent before he could do much to me. Unfortunately, in both of my first two matches, my army stalled out right at the brink of victory and I actually managed to take 20-4 leads in both before managing to lose. I did come back to win the third and final match of the evening despite some more of my trademark spectacular dice-rolling ineptitude.

Splendor
Time for something rather less adversarial after the tournament. Three two-player games of this steady favorite and I was able to take them all.

Dragonwood
Two two-player games tonight. First time I've played with two players and the scoring was *much* higher. I won the first game, 37-34 on the strength of the +3VP bonus for having the most creatures captured. The second game saw a reversal of fortunes and I was beaten, 29-40.

Ogre: Objective 218
This is Steve Jackson's reimplementation of one of my all-time favorite two-player tactical combat card games, Battle for Hill 218. The game plays almost identically with its predecessor except for some minor changes necessary for the Ogre theme -- including the Ogre unit itself. For example, Cruise Missiles replace Air Strikes and Light GEV replace Paratroops, but they still work the same way and still produce the combo that I used to capture my opponent's base to win.
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Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:11 am
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AAR for 04 Jul 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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4th of July -- Independence Day, America!

Star Realms
I played in two best two-out-of-three game matches throughout the day. In the first match, I lost the first game, but came back to take the next two. The second match was just the opposite. After winning the first game, I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by losing the next two. Waiting for the new Hero Realms Kickstarter to see the light of day!

El Grande
The King of area-control games comes back to the gaming table! This game is 20 years old, but is deservedly continuing to maintain a high ranking on BGG. The theme is trying to gain favor with the King of Spain in the 15th century. Players do this by controlling the nine different scoring regions on the map. We had a three-player game today, which I managed to win thanks in large part to a fortunate Action card that got me 12 victory points.

1775: Rebellion
What better day to play a game based on the War for American Independence than on the 4th of July? I took the Brits and we got embroiled in a tense game where I used naval power to invade the South while the Americans were trying to play with force of numbers in and around New York. As it turned out, I managed to capture three Southern colonies and hold them just long enough to drop my two Truce cards and eke out a 5-4 win.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters and Castles of Burgundy...
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Tue Jul 5, 2016 4:58 am
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AAR for 27 Jun 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Next week is the 4th of July. If you're travelling, be safe!

Dragonwood
Three-player game of this Mensa Select winner. I got a couple of nice Enchantment cards early, but was unable to draw well as the game progressed and couldn't take full advantage of them. My final score ended up being 19 points while the winner bagged 24.

Car Wars - The Card Game
Picked this one up during the most recent Barnes & Noble sale. This is a very simplified version of the classic Steve Jackson game where everybody has identical cars and plays Attack, Armor, and Special cards to try to breach the opponents' cars and take out the driver. Last car standing wins. We had a three-player game to try this one out. Plays pretty quickly and smoothly. The game can play six players and should get better the more players are available. I ended winning this one, but it got pretty hairy at the end.

Mare Nostrum: Empires
This one should be seeing plenty of table time in upcoming weeks. Four of us played this time and I took Rome. Not much combat between the players in this one as we all went for infrastructure improvements. I missed a chance to build the Pyramids and had to watch Egypt build her fifth Hero/Wonder in the next turn to take the game.

Dice Masters
Sealed booster tournament tonight. Your buy-in got you 12 boosters from any one set of your choosing. You built your army with what you got and we went to war against each other. I chose the new Civil War set and got an awful draw. I ended up only being able to field nine total dice with my eight-card army. I got stomped badly (and not unexpectedly) in the first three rounds before pulling out a win in Round Four after buying up my opponent's "Registration Act" action dice to use for myself.


Other games played today included: Star Fluxx...
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Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:58 am
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AAR for 20 Jun 2016

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Summer is upon us -- as if we hadn't already noticed...

Star Realms
We had a couple of two-player games to get the day rolling. One turned out to be a long and epic battle that I managed to win after scrapping four of my ships and bases on the final turn for extra damage points. We tried a variation using poker chips instead of the Authority cards to keep track of damage.

Lords of Vegas
We had five players for this game, which I think is the best number and leads to the most intrigue on the board. That was certainly the case with this game as the scheming and plotting were hot and heavy for much of the game. I pulled off a conversion of a 4-tile casino to a color nobody else was using and managed to score it twice in the game's final turns to help put me in a tie for the overall VP lead. I won the tie-breaker by having the most cash on hand.

Mare Nostrum: Empires
Kickstarter delivers again! Just got in this highly-anticipated reprint that features a lot of stretch goals and add-on goodies. This is an empire-building game centered on the Mediterranean region around the time of the rise of the Roman Empire. Players need to expand their starting empires and build their infrastructure to become dominant on the Trade, Culture, and Military tracks. Other provinces need to be captured and other players need to be conquered. There is resource management, diplomacy, acquisition of Heroes and Wonders, etc. The game looks awesome when set up on the special *BIG* playmat and plays smoothly. We didn't have enough time to complete the game and nobody had a decisive lead. I miscounted my resources on one turn and cost myself a chance to win through being able to build the Pyramids. Everybody had a great time with this one and wants more!


Other games played today included: Dice Masters, Munchkin, Starcraft, and Dominant Species...
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Tue Jun 21, 2016 4:28 pm
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