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 24 Aug 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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We're actually in the last month of summer already?

Cycling Party
Stage #2 in the ongoing "Tour" that I'm running to test out the web-based app that tracks the results of these games. Two of us played, each taking two teams. This turned out to be a two-man breakaway for most of the race. The Blue team Sprinter lead almost all the way until getting caught very late in the race. One final push put him across the Finish line for the stage win. The app is a bit wonky in places, but it seems to end up producing good results.

La Granja
Three of us played this new favorite farming game. We're finding all kinds of great combos and strategies here and are having a great time doing it. This game crams a lot of good play into only six rounds. Very close game with only 6VP separating the three players.

Arctic Scavengers
This was the 2nd deck building game -- after Dominion. Rio Grande republished the game and included the two expansions in one big box for a nice price, so I picked it up. The setting is post-apocalyptic, but without zombies. You are the leader of a small tribe of survivors and are in competition with other tribes for scarce resources and items and are trying to recruit more people to your side. A twist in this game is that you often can't play all of your cards in one turn since you'll have to save some for Skirmishes with your competitors trying to win the Contested Resources - which are strong cards. Three of us played the basic game and found it quite enjoyable. We played it twice and really got into the theme. Now, to get through the rules for the HQ and Recon expansions and see what the full game has to offer.

Pandemic: The Cure
Two-player game. I took the Containment Specialist and teamed up with the Dispatcher. This pairing worked out extremely well and we pretty much blew through the game without being in serious trouble at any point. A rare win, but a satisfying one.

Samurai Spirit
We got in two two-player games at the end of the gaming day. We won the first game fairly easily, but the second one got extremely hairy in the 3rd and final round. We came down to a 50/50 card draw that would either save or burn down the remaining Farmstead. Fortunately, the draw went our way and we managed to scrape through with a win.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters and Quarriors...
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Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:08 am
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AAR for 17 Aug 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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It hasn't been over 100 degrees here in nearly a week. What's going on?

Cycling Party
This is a European game that is based upon all of the excitement and strategy found in big-time professional cycling. You control a team of six cyclists competing in a stage race modeled after the courses commonly used in the Tour de France and other major events. Plays 2-6 players and we had a two-player game today. Each of your six cyclists has his role on the team and gets advantages in certain parts of the race. Your Sprinter is your primary cyclist that has the best chance of winning the race and the other teammates tend to support his efforts. In our race, our respective Sprinters were dead even as they hit the final mountain stage, a Category 2 climb. My Sprinter got through in good shape while the opponent's Sprinter faltered. Mine also had an assisting teammate while the opponent was on his own. My guys passed the summit first and got away on the final downhill section, with the teammate actually nipping the Sprinter at the Finish line to gain the victory. The sprints can be explosive, but the mountains always seem to determine the winner.

La Granja
This is a new farming game with a lot of recent buzz. It has similarities to Agricola, but adds a competition aspect in the central village marketplace. You're trying to manage your farm to raise and deliver crops and improve your farm with special abilities that keep things ramping up. The farm is primarily improved through the play of cards that can be used in four different ways and need to work together to keep things running smoothly. We had three players trying this one out. After walking through the first round to teach the game, we all got heavily into our own strategies and the game flowed rather nicely. As this was primarily a learning game, we weren't too concerned about an overall winner. Lots of good comments about this one and I'm sure it will see a lot more action in upcoming weeks.

Progress: Evolution of Technology
Three of us played and we used the Age IV deck, which is likely to become a staple of our future games for how good it is. I finally got a development engine rolling nicely and had many turns with between 2-4 free cards that just kept on chaining together, so I was able to use that to end up securing a win with 63 VP.

Pandemic: The Cure
Two games with two players each. The first game produced my first victory playing this game. I had the Contingency Planner to go along with the Medic. I made it tough on us by failing on three consecutive turns to cure the final Black disease before finally nailing it on a six-dice roll. I rolled 14 "threes" out of 15 dice at one point. The final winning roll was made while we sat at seven Outbreaks. The second game looked like we would win easily as we cured three of the four diseases rather quickly. I was the Dispatcher and was able to keep sending the Scientist to wherever the need was greatest. Unfortunately, we stalled out at a bad time and got overrun with Outbreaks. I'll have to say that I enjoy this version of Pandemic more than the classic boardgame version.

Trains: Rising Sun
Two of us played and we used the new California two-player map for the first time. We got a strange mix of eight Randomized decks to play with, so the game took rather longer than normal to play out. In the end, I came out on top after scoring a couple of 6-pt Victory cards late in the game on the way to a final total of 55 points.


Other games played today included: Dead of Winter...
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Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:28 am
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AAR for 10 Aug 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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More new stuff from GenCon coming in!

Pandemic: The Cure
This is the recent purchase that brought my game collection to the 1000 mark. It's a variation of the classic board game without the Risk-style map for movement and a few other minor tweaks. We played three games today, one each with two, three, and four players. Unfortunately, this new version proved to be every bit as difficult as the classic version and we ended up losing all three games after hitting eight Outbreaks in each.

Samurai Spirit
Another new one from the designer of 7 Wonders. Some have called this "Seven Samurai". It's a cooperative game where players assume the roles of samurai who are defending a village from an invading rival clan. Each turn, cards are drawn and either confronted or defended. Samurai can also lend support abilities to other samurai to help them out of tough spots. The game is played in three rounds, which get progressively more difficult as stronger cards are added to the deck each round. We had a 5-player game and were doing quite well through the first two rounds. Then, the Boss cards in the third and final round just wrecked us and we watched the poor village go up in flames.

Dice Masters
We had a booster-draft tournament using only the DC Justice League set. Three rounds of Swiss-style brackets were played. I won my first two matches with an army featuring a Green Lantern character who gave all other attackers +2A and +2D. Once he got in the field, the attacks were brutal. In the final match, however, I was unable to field him and ended up losing to a Firestorm/Cheetah army that just pecked away at me and bled me dry. We played one more game and I avenged myself by dealing out a final and crushing 27-point attack.


Other games played today included: Cthulhu Wars...
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Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:56 am
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AAR for 03 Aug 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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GenCon is over, but the flood of great new games is just beginning to roll in!

Exploding Kittens
This is the Kickstarter game that broke all records for funding. In addition to the normal version, there was an additional "NSFW" deck that one could obtain through the Kickstarter project. The game is quite simple, but a good deal of fun. Essentially, you're playing cards from your hand while attempting to avoid being blown up by an Exploding Kitten as a result of the mandatory card draw at the end of your turn. You can avoid the draw in various ways through your card play or play a "Defuse" card to avoid the explosion. But, all Exploding Kittens drawn are returned to the deck in a position determined by the player who drew the card. In effect, it becomes legal to stack the deck against your opponents. Three rounds were played today, one with two players and two with three players. The final three-player game used the "NSFW" deck, which is mildly raunchy and quite funny if you're not too thin-skinned.

WWE Superstar Showdown
A new card game from Gale Force Nine that is based on WWE Wrestling. There are six decks in the game, one each for Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Randy Orton, Big Show, Roman Reigns, and Big E. You have a starting hand size of six. Each turn, players play three cards face-down. Each card is resolved against the opponent's card. There are Maneuvers, Strikes, Grapples, Slams, and Blocks. Using something of a rock-paper-scissors mechanic, the cards are compared to see which one "wins" and the winner gets to execute his actions and do damage to the opponent. Wrestlers are represented by miniatures on a board overlaid by a square grid that regulates movement. At the end of each three-card round, the player with the most winning cards may attempt to gain a pinfall victory if he is adjacent to his opponent. If the opponent can play a "Kick Out" card, he survives the attempt and a new round begins. Players lose cards by taking damage and this either reduces or removes your ability to Kick Out or can even reduce your deck to just a couple of cards. If that happens, you are no longer able to play cards and you are defeated. I played in three games and got to see all six wrestlers in action. I lost to John Cena with Big E after an overwhelming series of attacks, and lost to Big Show with Roman Reigns after almost pulling off a miracle comeback. Then, I played Daniel Bryan and defeated Randy Orton with a "hit-and-run" strategy that wore him down while keeping me out of harm's way. There are specialty matches, stipulations, and a career mode where you can earn points and buy upgrades. Matches are quick and fun and there's lots of possibilities for expansion. This one should be a big hit.

Firefly: The Game
Fresh from GenCon is the new "Kalidasa" expansion, with a new area on the map, two new ships, and lots of new cards. Three of us played. I took the new Jetwash ship and had Atherton in command. The story was "Where No Wind Takes Us". This one involves seeding the map with a dozen Goal tokens. If you complete a job on a planet with a Goal token, you gain that token. First player to get three Goal tokens wins. I started in Meridian and there were six Goal tokens nearby in the Georgia system. Unfortunately, I had an awful time trying to draw jobs that would put me on any of those planets. I had a fully-loaded ship and crew and had plenty of money, but ended up wandering around the map trying to scare up the necessary jobs. Oh, well...


Other games played today included: Dice Masters, Quarriors, and Nightfall...
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Tue Aug 4, 2015 4:50 am
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AAR for 27 Jul 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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GenCon this weekend!

Firefly: The Game
Three of us played using the Blue Sun expansion and without using the Piracy/Bounty rules. The story was Niska's Holiday. Players had to pass a big Fight check, complete four Niska jobs and return to his HQ with $12K. I took the Bonnie Mae w/Corbin in command. I easily collected enough Fight points and cash, but fell behind in the race for the necessary jobs and had to watch another player get finished first.

Progress: Evolution of Technology
Four-player game. This one turned out to be a real nail-biter to the finish. I had a very nice Research engine going on with 3 Tech capability only needing 2 blocks per Tech. But, I took a beating on the bonus VP tracks and had to settle for second place.

Sons of Anarchy
Another game (along with Firefly) likely to be a feature for Gale Force Nine at GenCon. I took the Mayans gang and set off to ride for glory and cash. One turn of getting forced out of a lucrative spot was all it took for me to come in just a few dollars behind the winner. The player that everybody thought was winner ended coming in last. But, that's what happens with all the secret information and resources in this one.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters and Dragonball Z...
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Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:40 am
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AAR for 20 Jul 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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First landing on the Moon (Apollo 11) happened on this day in 1969. Am I old? I still clearly remember watching the black-and-white ghostly TV images from the Moon on an old rabbit-ears TV set.

Dice Masters
Quite a few friendly games played this afternoon in anticipation of the evening's Dice Masters Tournament featuring the new Age of Ultron set.

Roll for the Galaxy
We did find some time for another dice-rolling game and broke out one of our old favorites. Two games were played with three players each. I won the first one with a big score of 46 VP, but lost the second when one opponent managed to get a combo that allowed him to Settle 3 worlds each turn and rush his way to 12 tiles very quickly.

Dice Masters Tournament
This time, our event was a fully-constructed event using all four Marvel/DC sets. The catch, however, was that each player had to have both a Hero team and a Villain team. An initial die roll determined who would get their choice of team for the game and the opponent had to play his adversary team. Strangely enough, the event turned into a complete rout in favor of the Hero teams. There were 15 games altogether and the Hero teams defeated the Villain teams all 15 games! I played Villains for all five of my games since I was determined to be the one who broke the shutout. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But, it was great fun trying out the new set of cards.
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Tue Jul 21, 2015 5:28 am
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AAR for 13 Jul 2015

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

Progress: Evolution of Technology
Three-player game including the Age IV deck plus all of the small expansions that came with the game. The Age IV deck proved to be plenty of fun, but the other expansions could probably just as well be left out as they seemed to have little impact on game play. This game was a runaway for one player who seemed to be getting 3-5 free expansions every turn and built up a tremendous tableau. He ended up with more bonus points than anybody else had *total* points.

Subbuteo
This is one of those famous old games that I've known about for *MANY* years, but have never before had the opportunity to see or play. Subbuteo is a dexterity game about big-time soccer. The playing field is a large felt mat and each player has ten player figures (plus a goalie) on rounded bases that slide across the mat when you flick or push them with your index finger. When you flick one of your players, you must make contact with the ball and move it any distance down the field without having it hit an opposing player's figure. The defender then gets to flick one of his player figures to attempt to block the offense from making further contact with the ball and continuing his offensive actions attempting to score a goal. If the offense fails to make contact with the ball or sends it into a defensive player, he loses possession and the defender now becomes the attacking player. Play goes back and forth for a prescribed period of time for two halves and whoever has the highest score wins. There's a great deal of strategy involved in positioning your players properly to continue attacks or mount defenses. And, of course, poor flicking will undo any amount of good strategy. I got to play two games today and, even though I lost both by 0-2 scores, I had a great time and would love to play again!

Blood Bowl Team Manager
Four players took to the pitch and we used both the Sudden Death and Foul Play expansions for the first time. I played the Nurgle team and, as such, was spreading disease and rot all over the place to advance my cause. But, of course, my normal spectacular display of inept dice-rolling kept me from making several key Tackles that would have set me up quite nicely for key Matchup victories. At one point, I made six rolls and failed *five* of them when the odds were about 75% in favor of making each of those rolls. Oh, well.... The new expansions were a lot of fun to play, though.


Other games played today included: Heroscape, Love Letter: Batman, Quarriors, The Builders: Middle Ages, Art of War, Splendor, Android: Netrunner, and Hull Breach...
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Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:23 am
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AAR for 06 Jul 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Pretty good weekend... US Women's Soccer wins the World Cup. Dale Jr wins at Daytona. Finn Balor wins the NXT title in Japan. Of course, there was some dipstick who killed himself trying to launch fireworks off the top of his head. Oh, well....

The Builders: Middle Ages
People have suddenly flocked to this game. We played four times today, twice with two people and twice with four. I took one of the four-player games and managed to win while building only four buildings. Just hit everything perfectly. Not so much luck in the other games. First time playing with four and it was a pretty good battle.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
My first time playing this one that so many others have found enjoyable. I'm not much of an RPG guy, but this game impressed me. I played a priest/cleric name Alahazra. I thought I would mainly be a supporting member of the party with healing spells and whatnot, but it turned out that I had a couple of strong fighting spells that came in handy to clear out some annoying monsters and help close a few locations. In the end, I had plenty of good Spells to hand out to give extra dice to other players for their combats and our party ended up winning the scenario.

Progress: Evolution of Technology
Four players this time and that started stretching the available card resources a bit thin, so more strategic play was required. I got hung up for a couple of turns in the middle of the Age II deck and that may have cost me in the end as I came just one VP short of the eventual winner. Time to throw in some of the expansion stuff for the next games to see how they play.

Spy Alley
A bit of four-player fun. I was the French spy and ended up being the second player that was guessed correctly and knocked out.

Splendor
Final games of the tournament were played today. Three more games with three players each determined the final standings. Congratulations to Chris Fowler for being the overall tournament winner!

Sun Tzu
Finished up the day with a little head-to-head tussle. The turning point of the game came when I had a big 2nd scoring round and jumped out to an 8-point lead. From there, it was just a matter of holding on to enough points to prevent any possible comeback.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters, Android: Netrunner, Forbidden Stars, and Hull Breach...
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Tue Jul 7, 2015 5:18 am
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AAR for 29 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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WOW! It was actually under 100 degrees today! Time to break out the long underwear.

Bring Out Yer Dead
A new game from Upper Deck with the theme of trying to get the most prestigious spots in the cemetery for your dearly-departed loved ones and not having their caskets dumped into the river. Players choose three cards from their hand secretly at the start of each turn. These cards give them the ability to load caskets onto the cart or take other actions to improve their standing in the graveyard. There are two separate sections that the first player (the gravedigger) can choose from each turn and each has its own strategies for optimal placements. After a maximum of eight rounds, whoever has earned the highest number of VP wins. Not anywhere near as zanily morbid as an older game called "Plague", but still a light-hearted treatment of the theme. Interesting strategies for game play can make each turn critical. We played one two-player game and could easily see that the game could be a real battle with 4-5 players.

Progress: Evolution of Technology
Another new game that is reminiscent of "Civilization", but features only the tech tree. There are three Ages to play through. Players try to acquire and develop a series of interconnecting technologies that increase their skills and bonuses and VP levels. We had a three-player game and found that this one plays smoothly and quickly with plenty of planning certainly being necessary for success. We didn't use any of the advanced options, but they look like fun.

Nations: The Dice Game
Four players for a quick round of this one. I took Greece and the game evolved into a two-player race to see which one of us could get the best final turn. I settled for 2nd place after watching a 5VP Wonder get built.

Splendor
Continuing with the ongoing tournament. There were three games today with three players each. One more week to go in this one. Players need to play at least three games to qualify for prizes and all players so far have done that.

Roll for the Galaxy
Three-player game that came down to the very last turn to determine a winner in a very close race. I would have won if there had been one more turn, but, such was not the case.

Spy Alley
Three of us did our best to bluff and deceive our way to potential victory. One player acquired *two* Wild Cards, but got successfully guessed before he could win. I thought I was going to sneak in the back door and win, but I also got guessed at the last possible moment.

Sun Tzu
Two-player strategy game using the backdrop of the historical wars of Sun Tzu. Players compete for control of five provinces whose VP values change with each scoring phase. Scoring is done after Rounds 3, 6, and 9 and is a simple differential total. You play one card face down for each of the five provinces each turn and, when they are turned over, battle is resolved with the winner receiving armies and/or taking away opponent's armies according to the comparative values of the played cards. Lots of clever strategies here as some cards are powerful, but can only be played once each game. Other cards continue to go back to your hand after each round. Our game was decided by only 1 VP in the very last round.

Elysium
We tried out a two-player game using Apollo, Ares, and Hermes to see what they could all do. They added quite a bit of new wrinkles to play and had the effect of boosting scoring pretty dramatically. I won with 76 VP against 68 for my opponent.


Other games played today included: Forbidden Stars...
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Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:13 am
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AAR for 22 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Spring gave us a lot of Summer. How about if Summer repays the favor?

Star Realms
Played shorter games early today since there was a Dice Masters tournament scheduled for the evening. Four game of Star Realms is always fun. I won three of them. I can't imagine getting tired of playing this one and there are still new goodies for it to be released shortly.

Baseball Highlights: 2045
Introduced a new player and he took to it pretty quickly. Beat me in the mini-series, two games to one and then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the World Series. But, in an amazing comeback, I managed to win four games in a row to take the Series, 4-3. Great game!

Dice Masters
Another in our series of Dice Masters tournaments. This time, the format was Marvel/DC only and players could only use *female* characters along with actions. This made people do some thinking and they put together some very interesting armies using characters that might not otherwise see much playing time. I enjoy exploring the possibilities of new characters and, every now and then, I find some that had been overlooked and are actually quite good. My army featured Stargirl and other characters that pumped up and worked off maximizing my Sidekicks. I went 3-3 for the five games of the tournament plus one additional friendly where I got "revenge" for an earlier defeat. My army was pretty good, but I made a few glaring mistakes playing it that cost me a couple of games. But, as usual, it was a fun tournament with good people.

Spy Alley
We had two four-player games to finish the day on a lighter note. I was close to winning the first game, but got guessed correctly when the last player before me took a flyer and hit it. I had correctly called out another player earlier and survived a subsequent attempt to guess me.


Other games played today included: Werewolf, Forbidden Stars, and Boss Monster...
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Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:26 am
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