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Rick's Adventures in Board Gaming

Making note of my life in the hobby. Occasional attempts at humor included.

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Gamenight 6/19/15 - First play of Elysium and EPIC Imperial Assault action

Rick Baptist
United States
Highland
California
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Ah, gamenight. Release your cares and revive yourself with pizza, friends, and games.



Camel Up - New to me!

FE brought his copy of Camel Up like he was a mindreader, really wanted to play this one! I imagined it almost the way it played out -- a light, party-type feel that would work well with any group. The main problem with the game is that I wasn't really big on it. I do like group racing/betting games, but for some reason this didn't take. I want it to take, but I feel like if I'm going to play a game like this, I would want to play Manila. Still, glad to give it a play. I love playing new games ...



Elysium - New to me!

Speaking of, I got a taste of Elysium thanks to AS bringing it over. I had no idea that Elysium was rather hot stuff right now in our world, and after the first playthrough, I understand why. It's like an advanced 7 Wonders that tries to incorporate some depth to the system. I came away with a noncommittal "okay" feeling from the first play. The game worked, was pretty, and everything else -- but I'd rather play 7 Wonders. Taking 7 Wonders out of the picture and leaving Elysium at its own merits, the game was just okay for me. I'm not sure what I'm looking for in a euro even to this day, but this one didn't do much for me.



Dungeon Fighter

The amazing Dungeon Fighter! Well, at least for me. I don't think (well, I know) that I'm the only one that likes this game. That is okay with me. My son and I will play the heck out of it. Actually, I think it works great as a party game, and perhaps it's best to present it as such. Sometimes I think the rules can bog down the experience a bit, so it's best to teach it "on the fly" as opposed to laying it out to start with. It's a fun dexterity game. And yes, I'm going to buy Flick 'em Up! too. By the way, this was with the Dungeon Fighter: Stormy Winds expansion, which is completely unnecessary but it's fun.



Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery

Yes, Spartacus has reached my highest of highs -- it has reached my Top 10 of all time. Perhaps I will write that list soon. Spartacus has it all. And one of the tenets of my Top 10 would be that 99% of the games are enjoyable, and of that 99%, 30% or so are FANTASTIC AMAZING MEMORABLE games. This one was not in the 30%, but it was fun, and I rode the wind to a victory. This win was achieved with pure gladiatorial might.



Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Speaking of favorite games -- I love this game. We are now two games away from finishing our first campaign and have plans to dive back into another one. Come to think of it, we haven't even explored the Skirmish rules, which seem incredible in their own right. This was one really, really tight scenario. The idea of the mission was the rebels had to take their newly-acquired saboteurs and blow up my awesome ship. The saboteurs are cool minis and they played a good mission. I really thought that the Rebels were going to lose this one. But I kept the pressure on, knowing that I've seen the Rebels come back time and time again. I was soooooooooooooooo close this time. There have been no less than FOUR times in this game where the Empire are one life, one objective, one space away from winning. This is one of those times. Somehow, they made it to the ship at the last possible chance, and somehow the exact roll was rolled that was needed. I have to think that the balance in this game is wacky good. Either that, or both Rebels and Empire are extremely good at the game! Either way, good job FE and co.

I'm behind here, but more recaps are on the way. I finally got to play Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game last Friday, and I'll talk about it soon. Hint: I loved it!
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Tue Jul 7, 2015 7:45 am
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Gamenight 6/12/15 - a lot of Highlights from 2045!

Rick Baptist
United States
Highland
California
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I've been lagging on my Friday Gamenight posts. Last night was particularly fun, so away we go ...



Battleship Live - New to me!

So A.S. asks me if I want to play Battleship, to which the answer was a sound no and a question on my face for why he had asked such a thing. Then he pulls this out. THE JOY! Very excited by the concept as I am quite interested in unique attempts at technology in games. After fussing with it for about 10 minutes it finally started up. The camera appears to be quite detrimental to the game, as it really wasn't working well. Regardless, we got through half the game and it was fun. By far the highlight is flicking the plane around on the track to the other side to hit your opponent with a fly-by. If this worked perfectly, I think it's a blast for a couple plays.



Terra Mystica

It had been a while, but M.S. was here from far away and I wanted to see if the five of us wanted to bust this out. For some reason, I think I've only played with 5 all three times I've played. And also for whatever reason, I really like this game! It's long and involved, and the rules are hard to remember from play to play, but it's a great, variable game. I just love it. I need to play this more. And I won pretty convincingly with the Witches, who I think are quite good.



But Wait, There's More! - New to me!

Well here's some excitement! I've been itching to play this since I've read a couple reviews as I enjoy the concept of this game very much. It doesn't hurt that a lot of the cards leave the door open to fun innuendo. This is a great design. It takes Snake Oil and makes it go even crazier. To 11, perhaps? Strong items were sold tonight, like a towel made of 100% human hair and a dictionary with razorblades. I think my wife got the win because she is the Queen of Puns.



Excape

It seems weird, but I consider Excape to be a classic at this point. I guess 1998 IS a long time ago. But it's a fun filler that is fun to look at and fun to play. I'm curious to read about more XX variants, as there sure are a lot of them. A.S. won this one as much as we all didn't want him to. He does that quite a bit! Stinker.



Ancient Terrible Things - New to me!

This was a fun Yahtzee mechanic game that has great art and presentation. It's pretty underrated as I certainly have not heard much about it. The theme is pasted on like most Yahtzee games but this one is enjoyable enough that it doesn't matter. There were some fun decisions to make about which locations to go to and the use of the tokens to give yourself options was excellent too. Lots of different strategies to explore here, also. I hear there's an expansion and I'm interested in giving that a go as well. This is a winner for me. Oh, I won 50-36.



Welcome to the Dungeon - New to me!

Welcome to the Dungeon! G n' R is playing through my head the entire time this is on the table. Regardless, it's a fun game in the style of Diamant but has an interesting mechanic of passing and removing an item. I found this to be the winning point of the game, as you have some limited information on what is available to fight and then it's all about being brave enough to walk into the dungeon with the small amount of info you have and perhaps not as much equipment as you'd like. Very good game! I think I won this also. Yes, I did! I got lucky with the last dungeon, as M.S. pulled out too soon (hahaha).



Baseball Highlights: 2045 - Best of 11 challenge!

A.S. and I have developed quite an affinity for this game. We have played some super close series and now with all the expansion cards in the game, this one would prove to be a serious challenge. A.S. shared with me that Mike Selinger's preferred version of the game is a Best of 11 challenge and although it was late, we agreed to go for it. What followed afterward is one of the BEST games of 2045 I have played! A.S. assembled a team of Naturals after I went for robot-handicapping cyborgs to start the game. His naturals were good with the glove and I had some powerful robots with the bat. Almost all of the games to start were 1-0, 4-3, 3-2. Eventually, we had gotten to a 3-3 tie, and with the time so late we decided to do a final game 7 this time. I had gotten my natural-stopping cards in my hand and was ready to go. Unfortunately, A.S. had maybe the only two effective robots in his deck in his hand, and played them at just the right time. He got the game 6-3 and won the series 4-3. Baseball Highlights 2045 might be my favorite game of 2015 so far.

Thanks for coming over, great fun night of laughs, gaming, and friends.
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Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:52 pm
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Gamenight 3/14/15 - The Night of the Great Serpent

Rick Baptist
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Highland
California
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We had a Saturday gameday and attracted some awesome folks over for the party. It didn't hurt that it was Pi day and Margie brought some fantastic homemade pies! And of course thanks to Jerry for the pizza.



Star Wars: Imperial Assault - Side mission

We continued our campaign with a side mission that had both sides looking for a droid with an important piece of memory. The Rebels did a good job of waiting outside for myself to run the droid right into the hands of Ghaarkan. I now realize how foolish I was to just deliver the droid right into their hands. It would have been wiser for me to bide my time and build up threat, allowing the Rebels to try and get it for themselves. Live and learn, and my general was force choked later on for his idiocy. The campaign is now tied up 1-1. Still loving the game! Can't wait for the next story mission.



Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game - New to me!

We sat down to play this one right after my follies in Imperial Assault, and right off the bat I found out that this game is tough. We were playing with five players, and I have no idea if it was the player count but we were doomed right from the beginning and it never stopped. I thought the game was interesting, and I'd like to play it again just to see if it really is that hard! We got trounced about halfway through.

Around here I saw some games of old favorite Ubongo and new favorite Castles of Mad King Ludwig starting up. We had a great group of folks this night. Lots of laughs and fun throughout.



Risk Legacy - Games 7 and 8

I personally hadn't played this in a year and I was so happy to see it come out again. It felt like returning to an old stomping ground, still not cleaned up from all the messes of the past. The first game through we didn't keep track of one of the starred players, and he ran away quite quickly. But the second game was perhaps the most fun that we'll ever have with this game, with me loading up on coins and opening the tray marked to open when 30 units are dropped on the board. It was a blast and continues to be a blast seeing what secrets are laid out. I'm telling you, I can't wait for Seafall and Pandemic Legacy.

Our pet snake found his way onto the board at some point. This resulted in several players fleeing, but no harm done. I'm not sure why Jerry put our snake on the board. But the images are priceless!



Dragon's Gold

Dragon's Gold - such an underrated game, and so freaking enjoyable to play. I hadn't played it for over a year and I really forgot how fantastic it is. We have the old blue box version and I have no real need to "upgrade" to any recent version, because it holds up quite well. The premise of the game is to kill dragons, but the fun begins with the negotiation of splitting up the treasure. It's a tense 30 minutes that just flies by. Using the "advanced" rules is highly recommended as the black diamond changes things up quite a bit, as do the magic cards. Always fun stories from this one!



Stone Age

It was a night to remember old classics, as I was so pleased to bring Stone Age out on the table once more. It was a real battle between Fred and I as the two new players still have some ropes to learn on this one. I think I beat Fred by around five points -- excellent fun.

Great game night with some awesome memories!
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Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:54 am
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Gamenight 3/6/15 - All Space, all the Time

Rick Baptist
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Highland
California
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Gamenight 3/6/15

I hosted a gamenight last Friday and had four guests and my son ready to play! I was excited to start our campaign below, but I ended up playing three games that were new to me! Fantastic!

Star Wars: Imperial Assault - New to me!



For the first time in my gaming history, I had these minis painted professionally and it was before I even played the game. This is simply because I love two things in life: Star Wars and Descent. So to question whether I would like the game or not was really not a question at all. I loved it at launch date!

This was a big moment in my life (not even kidding) that we could actually sit down and start the campaign. We sat with a full load of five people. I am the Overlord for our first campaign. The heroes were Jyn (damn her! more on that later), Mak, The Wookie (whatever his name is, Grossh or Grannkk or whatever), and Samuel L. Jackson (again, whatever his name is).

Started out with the first scenario, which is excellent. Being my first play of the game, I wasn't quite sure how to best effectively use my troops. But I caught on quick enough after some early deaths. I LOVE how this game creates a narrative for you as you play. Opening up that door and seeing that gunner right there was exciting for both player and Overlord. Now, when it came down to my choice of sealing the door or supplying more strength to the consoles, I went the console route. I think this was a good plan. As the heroes stormed in, I kept them occupied with some newly-spawned Stormtroopers and started to really hold them back from the main supply room. Jyn was hopping around all the place driving me nuts and interrupting all of my attacks, though. She killed the gunner with ease and did so again once I respawned him. But I think I drained enough time using him as a distraction. He will be buried with high honors.

One of the biggest differences between IA and Descent is that the heroes can move through enemies for an extra movement point. No blocking in this one! So while they were able to get to the consoles, it was getting down to the wire. And that's exactly what happened -- I think I literally won by one point of damage left on the final console. Go Imperials!

The game was everything I had hoped for. I wasn't clear on several rules but the playthrough really helped and I can't wait to play the second mission.

Star Trek: Catan - New to me!



We decided to keep the space theme going and played this version of Catan. It was new to all of us, well, at least the variant. We played a four-player game.

I have to admit, I liked the new roles and how we had these new powers at our command. Sometimes in the past, when I played Catan, I felt like I got stuck and then it was turn after turn of sitting around and doing the motions. I never got that feeling here, and with those roles I felt like we had all created more ways to win. By the end of the game, we were all very close to winning. I think the final score was 10-9-9-8. I'd play it again.

Super Motherload - New to me!



In the teaching of the rules I had mentioned that this game reminds me of another game I really enjoy, Undermining. Turns out there is a reason for that, as both games share the same designer. So I was already excited right to start.

Super Motherload was one of my favorite new games I've played this year.

In a way it felt like Undermining -- quick turns and I'm digging underground. But he adds some great ideas to the game by having these separate decks of captain cards. Once you collect enough gems to unlock them, you get to build your deck and improve your drill powers. It's really quite fun to think up a strategy through these cards and go to town. What's really fun is pulling the right cards for what you need, which somehow happened to me quite a bit. Sign of a nicely-designed game. I was wishing we could trash some of the lower-powered cards but I guess that's not an option, and perhaps it's not needed. I ending up winning the game by a couple points, and I think we enjoyed it immensely. Looking forward to another play.

I recommend you give all three games a try. Imperial Assault is all kinds of awesome. Star Wars Catan gives a nice variant (visually, too) to the classic, and if you like Undermining, I think you will love Super Motherload.
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Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:35 am
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I'm back!

Rick Baptist
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Highland
California
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It's been almost THREE YEARS since I've penned a blog entry to my Adventures in Board Gaming, and that's got to stop at some point.

So here we are!

The last time I was writing to you, great BGG readers, I had just played games like Power Grid: The First Sparks and Core Worlds for the first time, and had acquired a bunch of new unplayed games that are no longer unplayed. We had fun ratings games and I had fun ranting at some of BGG's favorite games, and everyone was having a good time.

In the meantime, I was ready to undergo a big change in my life -- new job, not as new baby (but still pretty new), new home. The last time I wrote on this blog, my oldest son was just seven years old playing Catacombs -- and now I'm playing games with a grown-up ten-year-old that I just took to an all-day gaming event and played Galaxy Defenders for three hours with. Three years ago I was trying to cram games into a converted closet/game storage area, now I actually have a room for games! These are very good things and I found that I really enjoyed writing this too. I hope that some of you that have read and replied in the past will begin to do so again.

I'll start off by saying that I'd like to use this blog for two things:

1) Continue to chronicle my thoughts (and adventures) in board gaming -- random thoughts on the hobby and reactions to games will still be present. I already have the first entry in mind.

2) Post follow-up discussion and results of our weekly game night at our house. These have provided so much joy and such a necessary distraction from the busy week. Not to mention, our last gamenight contained a truly epic co-op of Descent that needs to be written down at some point so as to be believed later!

So, I welcome you back and to start things off again with a (galactic) bang, I submit to your viewing my new toys:

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Thu Mar 5, 2015 4:42 pm
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Another great weekend of gaming at Strategicon: Orccon 2012

Rick Baptist
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Highland
California
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I recently attended Orccon 2012, the first of three Southern California conventions local to me here in the LA area. The Guest of Honor was Dirk Henn, and it was full of fun, friends, and great memories. I also played some great games, like Mage Knight Board Game, Battle Cry: 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition, Wiz-War (eighth edition), Rattus, and Lifeboat.

If you'd like to read about the experience, please follow my Geeklist posted just a few moments ago: Our Best Time Yet at Strategicon - Orccon 2012. And why don't you make plans to come join us at Strategicon's next convention, Gamex 2012, on Memorial Day weekend!

redtraingreentrainbluetrainyellowtrainblacktrainpurpletrain

I have acquired sponsors this year for my yearly birthday event, and I want to profile one every so often down here because they deserve it for donating games or gift certificates to us.

This time I'm going to mention Gorilla Games, led by designer Jeff Siadek. Jeff designed the game Lifeboat, which I mentioned above, and is a really neat guy. Gorilla recently came out with two games that were both highly recommended by Tom Vasel -- Hunting Party and World Conquerors. Can't wait to play a copy of both!

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Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:26 am
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The Incredible Rotating Thumb IV - The All-Star Edition (First Sparks, BSG Express, Core Worlds)

Rick Baptist
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Highland
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I usually put together some conglomeration of game titles for my Thumb series (well, usually being the first three I've written), but I've played some outstanding games recently and I just feel the need to praise them in my own way.

So I'm going to post a picture of Mr. Thumbs Up here and you all can assume that he is sticking the same thumb up on each of the games described below.




Dark Moon

One of my biggest pet peeves is owning a copy of a game that I hardly play. I don't have all the storage space in the world and so I am constantly reevaluating my game shelf for games that have either ran their course or that I hardly use. I own a copy of Battlestar Galactica, and I probably play it once a year. But I enjoy it SO MUCH for the times that I get to play it that I can't find it in my heart to rid myself of it. "I just wish it was a bit shorter, and still contained all that tension and fun," I say. Enter: BSG Express.

Wow.

So first of all, you're replacing the voting cards with dice. This is a win in itself. You're making simultaneous rolls and doing other things to speed things up. Fiddliness is gone. Things are streamlined. In fact, the overall process shrinks the game in length to 60-90 minutes. This would cause you to wonder if the tension would still be there, and I would answer with a resounding YES!!! The tension is still there! And, dare I say, more fun! The central mechanic that I am in love with is this: You must roll your dice secretly and then you have an opportunity to donate one to help the mission. If you're a Cylon, you can donate a bad die and shrug, explaining that the situation called for me to play this so I can get back my dice on my turn, blah blah blah, excuses. If you're a human, you want to play good dice, but sometimes you just have to play a bad one. You're pleading, begging with people to understand why you did that and that's all you can do. It's brilliant, so simple, and yet just amazingly designed to make people think you're lying when you're not. And at the end of the game, you feel like you played Battlestar Galactica! You really do!

Now, I am not advocating that BSG Express should replace Battlestar Galactica. For a fan of the game and series, there is a place on my shelf for both. But you really owe it to yourself to print this puppy out (or have PnP Productions do it for you) and give it a spin with your buddies. Incredible experience and with further plays, I expect it moves into my Top 25.


Power Grid: The First Sparks

I like Power Grid: The First Sparks better than Power Grid.

Now that that's out of the way, you know whether you want to geekbuddy me or not. Now I am NOT SAYING that I don't like Power Grid. I like Power Grid! I think it's fun ... until you get to the end of the game and you mire through the slogfest of adding and calculating in your head to the point that you pull out your phone to help you add stuff. That's why First Sparks wins. First Sparks is not only a BETTER game than Power Grid in my opinion, it is more fun.

From the abbreviated auction round to the board play, there is certainly enough here to differentiate First Sparks from Power Grid, but there still remains the infamous "Being Last is Good" mechanic that I enjoyed from the original. So basically, it's keeping all the stuff I liked and getting rid of all the monotonous, game-lengthening stuff I didn't like. Plus, the art is downright hilarious and it's neat to watch your cavemen "grow up" and become an efficient tribe (at least in some areas). The theme is terrific and really comes through strong. Is it a better game for the more "serious" eurogamer. Probably not -- but for the light-strategy lover that I am, it's fantastic! Shorter play time, more fun. Sounds good to me. I'd love to own a copy.


Core Worlds

Let me state up front that I'm not as excited about Core Worlds as I am about the above two titles, but I am excited none-the-less. And the reason why is NOT because it is a deckbuilder.

In fact, I'm tired of deckbuilders (again, another opportunity to geekbuddy or not).

Thankfully, there is a lot more to this game than deckbuilding, which makes it quite exciting and fun to play. While you are indeed building up a force to acquire victory points, it just plays and feels different than most of those kind of exercises. I like that you can focus on a certain strategy of attack (infantry, robots, vehicles, airborne) and build your engine doing so. I like the theme and the colonization of planets -- in fact, it reminds me a bit of Eminent Domain in that aspect, but not with all of the rest of Eminent Domain that I didn't like. There's 10 rounds and it's over, with the actual Core Worlds coming out in Round 9. So I enjoyed it -- I won in my first play, so there's some thought there that it plays and learns well for newcomers. I used infantry primarily and had fun, and I like how each deck has its own faction-specific general. The only downfall to the game for me was that starting player was a very important part of the experience. So while there was some strategy built around that, ultimately the power of the start player in a five-player game was very strong. I imagine the game is best when played with three people, and perhaps it will move onto my buy-list when that is tried. For now, I can recommend the game to you (especially if you like deckbuilders and/or space themes) and state that I did very much enjoy my first five-player game.

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As I have stated before, I'm putting together a big birthday event that I call the Rickcon, and it has been growing a steady amount every year. It's invite-only, but the list is growing as I find new friends I enjoy playing with. We have acquired sponsors this year for the event, and I want to profile one every so often down here because they deserve it for donating games or gift certificates to us. I'm going to drop Asmodee's name first. I already like Asmodee, but their generosity for the Rickcon blew me away and I really appreciated the contact I had from them and their kind staff. Thank you Asmodee.

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Thu Feb 2, 2012 8:05 pm
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My Favorite Games From 10 Years Ago (2001)

Rick Baptist
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Highland
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Two things struck me while going over the games released in 2011. First, I haven't played all the ones I wanted to play yet, and second, I don't feel like 2011 was all that good of a year. Compared to 2010, I'd even argue that 2011 was a WEAK year. But I can't sit here and write an article about that comparison because, well, I haven't played all the ones I wanted to play yet.

But what I CAN do is look back 10 years ago and see what games I still like from back then. Ten years seems like a long time, but I was introduced to these games no more than four years ago or less, so in a way they're not that old to me. And anyway, it sounded like something fun to do. So I think I'll be doing a series of these lookbacks (which is why I put 2001 in brackets above, as I expect to be doing one for 2002 and beyond, not because I couldn't expect you to count back the years correctly). Along with that, I expect to learn a few things about myself in the process.

Keep in mind that the games I list as "favorites" are ones that I rate at "8" or higher. And for good measure, I'll put in my dud game and perhaps a game or two that I'd still like to play that I missed out on.

*****************************************

My favorite games of 2001

Winner's Circle - by Reiner Knizia
Total plays: 10



Getting back into the hobby around 2005, Winner's Circle was one of the first designer games I was introduced to and subsequently one of the first games I purchased. The design is so simplistic -- roll a die and move a horse -- and yet sophisticated. Although my wife and I just played it once as a two-player game (and it works), this one shines best with four players and five players. And I've found that while the theme might be a BIT dry for the occasional person, if you get enthusiastically involved during the race you can easily wipe that out. It's a boatload of fun cheering for your horse and trying to manipulate others to move your steed to the finish. I am one of those that most of the time (read: always) puts his high money on one of those all-or-nothing horses. That way, when I do get that awesome roll, I'm laughing all the way to the bank. The design holds up quite nicely through the decade, and I honestly don't see that changing for another 50 years. An absolute keeper.

Dragon's Gold - by Bruno Faidutti
Total Plays: 7



The first time I tried Dragon's Gold I didn't get it. I had picked up the game in a trade, and everything about it seemed average to me. The box was small, blue, and odd. The jewels were these little wooden candies that rolled everywhere and drove me crazy. And I got a rule wrong to top it off that led to a flat play. Thank goodness it got busted out again later. The premise of the game is really what I love about it. You kill a dragon, big deal -- now it's time to split up the treasure. And you have a minute to do exactly that! If you don't decide what happens with it in a minute, it disappears! I found out quite early in my gaming "career" that I was a fan of negotiation, and I owe that all to this little gem right here. Lucky for me, I got to meet Mr. Faidutti at our local Strategicon convention and he signed my copy. I invited him to play, too, but he politely declined and said that he "no longer enjoyed the game". Hahah!

The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow - by Dimitry Davidoff
Total plays: 21



I'm fully aware that Werewolf came out before 2001 -- in fact, it says in the BGG database that it was released in 1986, but I imagine some form of the game has been played for many years before that. I learned Werewolf as "Mafia", and have many great memories from high school and college playing the game. It wasn't until later on that I discovered the art from these cards and decided it was my favorite set. I like all the looks of the cards from this release, especially the art for the seer. Unfortunately, the names of the powers aren't on the cards, but to the experienced player this is not a problem. If you haven't tried Werewolf, don't rush out and try it with just anyone -- start with your family and friends. When I play Werewolf with strangers the experience would not place highly at all. With friends and family, though, it's terrific -- not a better feeling than being able to convince your wife or mom that you're a friend, only to end up killing them in the night a bit later.

************************************

Well, that's it for games rated "8" and up in 2001. Yup, three. I don't consider 2001 a great year for gaming, that's safe to say. But I do have some honorable mentions.

The game I would like to play from 2001 and haven't yet

Evo



A game about the evolution of dinosaurs by Asmodee is something that immensely intrigues me. I'm really hoping to try out the reprint soon. Any thoughts from veteran Evo players out there?

My least-favorite game of 2001

Munchkin



I know some people love it, and I accept that. So you can accept that I hate it.

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Next time, I take a look at my favorites from nine years ago, 2002. I have a feeling it will be a bit better of a year.
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Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:57 am
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The Incredible Rotating Thumb III - Bearing(!) my 23 Peloponnes

Rick Baptist
United States
Highland
California
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Yesterday I had the chance to go to the Orange County Board Gamers monthly event at the Duck Club, which was at one time literally a hangout for hunters to go and share stories about shooting ducks. That we are playing board games in such a setting, in a beautiful building surrounded by gorgeous foliage and such, pleases me. I guess playing with some good people also made it fun. And hey, I got to play lots of new games. Eventually, that dumb dirty thumb of mine started flipping and flopping around, and here's the result of that.


23

Now, if you know me, my gaming tastes does not usually include card games. Give me a board and I'm happy. But when James pulled out 23 and likened it to No Thanks!, my curiosity got the best of me. And it got a big fat thumbs up!

23 is played with a deck of cards numbered 1 to 23, with one "1" card, two "2" cards, and three each of the cards 3-23.. You are then given three green tokens, nine cards, and the game begins. The object is for the group of players to lay down cards starting at one, and work your way up chronologically to 23, ultimately desiring to run out of cards. Sounds boring so far. Well, it's not, because you have some options! First of all, you can lay down doubles or triples of a number if you have it. Also, if a 15 is laid down and you have a 17 and you want to play it, you have to take a purple token. Purple tokens are minus one (like No Thanks!) In the above example, if you had an 18 you could lay it down for two purple tokens, etc. And if you had a big gap, say 15 is showing and you have a 20, you can choose to pass by just taking one token. Okay, where's the fun still? All this gets tied together because of those three green tokens in front of you. Eventually, you're going to get to the point where you all most likely have cards that have been missed along the way. On your turn, you have the option of spending those green tokens to move back through time.

Let's say I have two 15s in my hand that have been skipped by. The pot is at 20. I can spend one green token to move the count back to 15, thereby getting both 15s out of my hand. Of course, if you save these green tokens they are worth +2 in the end to your score, which is a pretty big deal. But any cards left in your hand at the end of the game are -1 each, so it's something to consider if you have a lot of cards. Plus, you get a three-point bonus if you run out of cards by the end! So losing cards is key. Now piggy-backing off the above example, the pot is now at 15. To my left, James has three 13s he wants to desperately get rid of! So he uses his green chip to go back to 13. David is in luck, because he had one 14 that he didn't want to use a chip to go back in time to get rid of, but now can. Ralph is not in luck, as his lowest card is 23, so he takes a minus chip. Now it's back to me again, and lo and behold I had a 14 that I figured I couldn't get rid of!

Turns are fast and there's a lot of tension and wishing going on. The biggest part of the game is trying to gauge when to use your green chips, because no one likes spending points -- but to try and get rid of all your cards for the three-point bonus it's just too enticing. And of course you constantly are desiring for others to use theirs so you don't have to use your own! I've only played two plays of 23 so far, but I'm going to rate it higher than No Thanks! for now. Lord knows that I find No Thanks! tense, as I won the 7 Wonders: Leaders expansion by winning the No Thanks! tournament at Strategicon last year, but I like the game of 23 a bit more. You must try it out! Amigo has a hit with this one and I hope it gets over to the States soon.

(this was posted as a Review on the BGG 23 page, as I saw there wasn't any yet!)


Peloponnes

I'm going to clarify something right from the start: I LIKE THIS GAME. In fact, I like it a lot! But the thumb up/thumb down rating is mostly because you can't find it to buy it, and even if you did you'd have to pay an arm and a leg. For some ungodly reason, this game hasn't been picked up by a major publisher. With all the utter garbage that we get subjected to through the years, I HAVEN'T THE FAINTEST why this game hasn't been picked up and distributed. Anyway, I'm not going to give a full-scale review here because there's already been one done, but you really need to go check this game out and start preaching for it to become available again.

Maybe it's the name? The theme? David & Hannibal, the two guys I played it with, likened it to 7 Wonders as a meatier alternative, and I have to agree there are certainly similarities in theme and game length. But I feel that it stands apart quite well. In Peloponnes, you are building your own civilization (yay!) and dealing with the disasters that are sure to befall it (boo!) There is a bit of In the Year of the Dragon here as you're managing your resources and bidding on tiles to try to avoid these horrible plagues and famines around the corner. It's a bidding game, but it didn't seem as overwhelming as most bidding games do the first time (in fact, our teacher came in last). Scoring was a cinch and it wrapped up in 45 minutes or less. Fantastic game.

Seriously! Again, this is a two-thumb up game and needs to be widely distributed. Slap a name on there people can pronounce and you have a winner. Wish I had my own game company so I could do it! Please go check it out and if you've played it, let me know what you think. I'd be curious to know what you all thought of it, because without David introducing it and trusting his game acumen, I would never have given it a second look.


Bears!

Sometimes I really don't like this section, because I really like the theme, the art, and the company that makes Bears! I even like writing the name Bears! because I like writing lower-case letters after exclamation points. And it looks funny because every time I write the name of the game everyone thinks I'm really excited about it. Bears!

Joking aside, I thought I would like this little filler created by the wife of the designer of Castle Panic, a game our family loves. It's a real-time game, which I have discussed in this blog in the past and I enjoy that mechanic. It's dice-rolling as well, which I overall enjoy. Here's the game: Roll your five dice and the 20 in the middle at the same time. Quickly choose which ones match up with the ones you have to score points. Reroll your own if needed. When all tents or all bears are left, the round ends and you score. There are combos you need to land for positive or negative points. That's it. Let me comment on the game -- the game, itself, is fine. It works, it was fun on the first few rolls. After playing an entire game of 10 minutes, though, I thoroughly doubt I would ever want to pick it up again. This is unfortunate, but true! Even with an exclamation! There's just nothing pulling me back to it.

And the crazy part is, it's marketed with children in mind, but I've never seen a real-time game go over well with children. Adults just have quicker reactions. If you leave the kids to fend for themselves, as long as they're all around the same grade level, sure, it would work. But that's a small window. And that's assuming the kids would play it again, too. So I'm sorry, Bears!, but my love of sticking two punctuations together didn't save you. But a neat idea that perhaps just needed to be fleshed out a bit more.

(I don't usually do this, but I posted this as a Review in the Bears! forum as well. All the reviews there were mostly positive and so I felt I had to dampen the enthusiasm a bit...)

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Lots of fun in store for this little blog in the future. I've been enjoying the 'thumb' series and writing about games in general. Planning for my birthday gameday is coming along very well and after putting in some considerable work, I've been collecting sponsors for the event. You can see the progress of the event at the website at rickcon.webs.com. I am blown away at the friendliness and generosity of the board game industry as a whole and I encourage you to check out the Sponsors page and support them by any means necessary. Their willingness to contribute to a small event like this says a lot about them.

See you next time!
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15 Comments
Mon Jan 9, 2012 8:26 pm
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The Incredible Rotating Thumb II - Flashing Drizzt with my Ankh-Morpork

Rick Baptist
United States
Highland
California
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First off, favorite title ever. Hands off my Morpork!

Time once more for the rotating thumb to cover some of my recent plays. November was an odd month full of good and bad games, and hardly anything in between. The great news is that I might have found a game that hit my Top 10 all-time, so let's get to that.


Flash Point: Fire Rescue

So, wow! I certainly do like co-ops, as evidenced by so many in my Top 25, but knowing all that I still wasn't quite prepared for Flash Point to hit the table. And this game was HYPED to heck and back, even. The Kickstarter campaign was a success, and once I got my copy I was very pleased with the components and quality of the presentation. Being a game that plays well solo has its advantages, as the first thing I did when I received it was to open it up and dig in. Ever had one of those first plays that stick with you? Especially in a co-op type, save-the-world kind of game? Yeah, my first time playing I barely got the dog out of the house before the whole thing came crushing down. It was thematic, it was tense, and it was exciting. Since then, I've played Flash Point with all the player numbers ranging from 2-6, and very few times has the game not produced an exciting experience. Flash Point is one of those games that after it's played, you sit there wondering how in the world this game hadn't been invented sooner. Rescuing victims from a burning building is a terrific theme for a co-op, and it's handled well from pillar to post so far. The expansion board, Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Urban Structures, is even better than I first imagined it would be, as the high rise and duplex scenarios are varied and quite different. We finally beat the high rise the other day, and that's no small feat!

All in all, if you like having fun, and if you like co-ops, this game is for you. I don't care about random dice-rolling for fires, or whatever else people could come up with to complain about. Fires are inherently random, and any firefighter will tell you how risky and volatile the situation is. The game does an EXCELLENT job portraying the theme, and the game itself is solid and fun. My highest recommendation for what is one of my Top 10 co-op games and perhaps one of my favorite games, period.


Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game

Another co-op, this time a bit different. Well, different if you haven't played the first two D&D-based co-op games, Ravenloft and Ashardalon. This is the latest entry to the series, focused on the world of Drizzt, and I have to say that I haven't seen a lot of progression in the system. The differences between the three games is very little, mechanics-wise. But while I thought Ravenloft was okay (haven't gotten to play with the red dragon Ashardalon yet) Drizzt stands above it's older brother tall and proud. For one thing, Drizzt is less ugly than Ravenloft. Notice I didn't say "better looking". The tiles in Drizzt are illustrated much better, and even the traps have a nice-looking drawing on them, so you have an idea what's trying to kill you. The character cards are more fleshed-out, and the introduction of a few tweaks make them more enjoyable to play with. But at the heart of it, this is a continuation of the system that you're either going to like or dislike, really. I can't imagine anyone LOVING the system, unless they haven't played other co-ops. But for what it does, it does it well. My son and I will play through the quests, like we did with Ravenloft, and then sell or trade the copy. In my opinion, it's worth the "rental" -- keeping Drizzt for anything long-term, though, seems fruitless.


Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

I have to apologize for the title, but not knowing anything about the books had me stumped. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why this title did a huge bellyflop for me -- I really know nothing about Discworld. To be honest, from what a friend told me about the world as we played, I don't think I'd be very interested. I tend to take my fantasy reading quite seriously (Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, Pillars of the Earth -- needs an "of" in the title, evidently) and the Discworld universe seems a bit ... whimsical. So while the books probably aren't for me, I discovered that the game wasn't either. Oh, perhaps it's not all that bad, and I will admit that I'm sure after four or five plays it might be quite tense, but after one play I came across quite sour on it.

You see, Discworld contains something that I DESPISE in games. DESPISE, all caps. Hidden objectives. And it's not just hidden objectives, it's hidden END THE GAME RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND objectives. That means that you can do what I was doing in my game, and trying to wind down the time so all the cards get played so I can win, and all of a sudden, someone slaps down a tower 15 minutes through and proclaims the game over. To me, this is not fun. Again, if I had known every single power then perhaps I could try and stop it. That would most likely lead to someone announcing to the group, "Hey! Todd has six towers and he needs one more to win if he had that objective! We must destroy his towers now!" kind of thing. And that can have its place and be fun. But I'm just not sure there's enough in this game to even get to that place. I understand Mr. Wallace wanting to design a game that a non-gaming fan of the series would get, and to be honest, I think he wins with that. But this game, and the series, isn't for me.

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All right! That's it for today. I take my sweet time in getting these things out, but I enjoy doing them when I can. Next around the corner I will take a look at 2010 (yup, not 2011) and hand out some gleaming trophies to my favorites. Expect a lot of groaning. Thanks for reading.
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21 Comments
Fri Jan 6, 2012 6:41 am
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