Too Many Games!!!

My wife and I love to play games together. Join us for the journey!

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Guilds of London (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Coolstuffinc.com had this as a cyber Monday special in 2017. Mechanically, this sounded like a game my wife would really enjoy. The big plus though was the London theme. I knew that this would be a game my wife would probably not buy herself but she would not be opposed to being given as a gift so I got it for. So did it turn out be a good gift?

Game Overview
In this game player seek to get points from influencing the various guilds of London. The board consist of tiles that are mostly the various guilds of London. Players will have four cards and on their turn they can use any number of cards to take action. There are three possible actions. First a player can discard a card to add one of the liverymen (meeples) to the guildhall board. Each card has one of the guild types on them, so a player can play one of them to move a liveryman to a guild of the same symbol type. Finally, each card has a special ability it can do. Many of these involve getting extra liverymen, moving to the plantation (a special off the board tile), allow more efficient movement, or give extra card draw.

After all players have played cards, then guild tiles are resolved. Each guild tile has a minimum number of liverymen that have to be on the tile to resolve it. If that is met, then in turn order players can replace any color liverymen with a neural one that player has in their supply. Once this is done if a player has more liverymen than any other color they win the tile. Each tile provides points and a bonus for winning it. In addition to that, the player in second will get points as well. Once a tile is resolved it is flipped over, and the winner leaves one of their liverymen on it.

In a 3-4 player new guild tiles are then added to the board and then the plantation tile is resolved. A new turn then begins and turn order is determined by points.

After a set number of rounds, the game ends. Players will acquire Mayoral reward keys throughout the game and they score at the end. The player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has several clever mechanisms. It is an interesting take on area majority, and I do like how the cards can be used in multiple ways. This creates a lot of interesting choices.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the way card play works a good deal, but it did seem like some of the mayor cards were a lot better than others.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme is not really present at all. This game is very mechanics first.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme is weak. It could have been called Guilds of any city, and that is disappointing.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has a good mixture of strategy and tactics, and I think that kind of mix increases replayability.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Not all of the guilds show up every game, so I think that helps with the replayability.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I feel like this game can be really prone to analysis paralysis. It went longer than I would have liked.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game has a lot of icons and that really slows things down.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: The mechanisms of this game are fun to play through, and accomplishing the micro goals of winning a guild is satisfying.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is a fun game. This is really my kind of game.

Final Score

67/100

This game has a couple of weak points for us, but I think we liked the game a bit more than the score indicates. My wife is happy with it and glad she got it. So that's a win.
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Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:04 am
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Game Cup 2018: Cottage Garden vs. Las Vegas

sean johnson
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Versus


We picked thirty two of our games and we will play them against each other. Each round when we play them the only evaluative process we will use is "how much fun did I have?" We will rate each game on a 1 (total bore and border line waste of time) to 10 (top tier in memorable and best plays) scale. The game with the highest rating of fun for that particular play will move on. The goal is to find the game that is the most fun consistently.

Cottage Garden
Quick Description
Players will draft garden pieces that often look like they could have come out of Tetris from a central board. The player will take from either the column or row the turn marker is currently in. When a player has every space of a garden plot filled they will score it and get points based on how many pots and vases it contains. I played this game at Gen Con in 2017 and then introduced my wife to it in October of that year.

The Game we Played
Um, we planted gardens? I did not keep track of how many individual boards we filled, but I think my wife was a bit more efficient than I was. She managed to get two of the blue scoring cubes (the one for vases) all the way up to max points. She won the game 74 to 60.

Fun Rating
My Rating: 6
My Thoughts: I do not know what it is about this game, but I find it to be incredibly chill. It is very multiplayer solitaire and it works in this game. Maybe it is just satisfying to fit a piece in a spot that just fits it or maybe it is cathartic to complete something and score a board. I am not sure how much fun I had, but I was really relaxed after playing it.

Her Rating: 5
Her Thoughts: I think this game needs the right environment to play it in. Around a gaming table is not it. I feel like I need to play this game outside on a late May evening. The weather is perfect, and we finish scoring right as the fireflies come out.

Las Vegas
Quick Description
In this dice game there is a spot corresponding to each die face that has money cards attached to it. On a player's turn they will roll all of their remaining dice and then place all dice of one number on a single corresponding place. Once all dice are placed the player with the most dice gets the biggest money card. However, if two players are tied then they both get nothing. We both played this game previously, but did not get it until the Target exclusive reprint.

The Game we Played
We rolled dice? We did use the recommended rules for two players where we both had four neutral dice we rolled and placed with our own. We both used these to deny cards to the other. I feel like my wife had luckier rolls on more than one round on her first roll she would roll like three of the number with the highest valued card, and then I would not roll that number the rest of the round. She beat me pretty bad in this one.

Fun Rating
My Rating: 3
My Thoughts: This is a great gateway/non-gamer game and it works well as a filler with a group. However, it is a poor two player game. I was mostly bored this entire play through.

Her Rating: 6
Her Thoughts: At this point I would consider this one of the "go to" games when playing games with non-gamers. It is accessible to everyone and rolling a handful of dice is always fun.

Results

Cottage Garden Wins (11 to 9)

If we had played Las Vegas with a group of people it might have been a different result. Regardless of which game Cottage Garden goes up against next, it is probably safe to say it is entering that match up as the under dog.
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Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:58 pm
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Game Cup 2018: Terraforming Mars vs. Colony

sean johnson
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Versus


We picked thirty two of our games and we will play them against each other. Each round when we play them the only evaluative process we will use is "how much fun did I have?" We will rate each game on a 1 (total bore and border line waste of time) to 10 (top tier in memorable and best plays) scale. The game with the highest rating of fun for that particular play will move on. The goal is to find the game that is the most fun consistently.

Terraforming Mars
Quick Description
In Terraforming Mars players seek to get the most points making the red planet habitable. This is done by playing cards each turn to a tableau that generate resources and/or points in some way. This is a longer game that usually hits around the two hour plus mark. Despite that, my wife currently considers this her favorite game.

The Game We Played
We played on the Hellas map, and this was the first time we had played on this particular board.

My wife played the Tharsis Republic which gave a financial bonus whenever cities were played. She struggled early on because she just could not get cards that really went well together or provided her with the resource generation she wanted. However, at mid game this all turned for her and she found a lot of synergy with plant and science tags. This allowed her to get some big cards into play that had a high science tag prerequisite.

I had the opposite problem with the Inventrix Corporation. I started with great synergy with some science cards and cards with building tags, but then I stalled out, and I had turn after turn where I was dealt completely unhelpful cards. Close to the end of the game I was able to pivot into animals but it was too little too late.

Compared to other times we played Terraforming Mars we were a lot more aggressive. Both of us were guilty of playing animal cards to sabotage the plant production of each other, and my wife stole crucial resources from me more than once. This turned out to be one our more lopsided victories and she won 128 to 104.

Fun Rating
My Rating: 6
My Thoughts: This game started off so promising but it turned so frustrating. It was annoying to see my wife get the perfect card turn after turn where I felt like I kept getting dealt nothing worthwhile.

Her Rating: 8
Her Thoughts: This game started off really rocky, but by the end it was some of the most fun I have had playing this game. I had so many things going on and they all worked together so well.

Colony
Quick Description
This is a post-apocalyptic game where players use dice representing resources to build cards from a central area. These cards are added to a player's tableau and they provide more resources, dice manipulation, or points. Players are racing to be the first one to reach a certain score. We have both enjoyed this game, but we did find the theme shallow and pasted on.

The Game We Played
We played using a suggested "big point" set up found in the rule book. I stockpiled resources and combined that with a lucky roll to get a couple of Uranium mines. These cards provided sixes, and I then used the fixer to manipulate other dice to go big into the Fallout Shelters, which are worth compounding points based on how many one gets.

My wife went a different route, she ended up getting quite a few resources. She had it set up so every turn she was generating the dice needed to do an upgrade, and she typically had enough left over to buy another resource card. This was really starting to snowball for her, but the points form my fallout shelters pushed me over the 20 point threshold first.

Fun Rating

My Rating: 6
My Thoughts: This is a dependable game. It will never provide an unbelievable, super memorable, re-tell the story of glorious victory play, but it will also never fall flat.

Her Rating: 6
Her Thoughts: This game is fun, but it has a strong multiplayer solitaire vibe. I do not have anything wrong with that, but those kind of games are rarely the best of the best when it comes to individual plays.

Results

Terraforming Mars Wins (14 to 12)


I like Terraforming Mars, but that was a rough play. I think next time we play I will insist on using the draft rules. Colony kept it closer than I thought, but Terraforming Mars moves on to the second round where it will end up going against one of our newcomer games.
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Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:18 am
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Game Cup 2018

sean johnson
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If we are going to play games together we might as well make it fun! We have done this a couple of times in the past, but it is time for Game Cup 2018, the quest for the most fun game:


The Idea

We picked thirty two of our games and we will play them against each other. Each round when we play them the only evaluative process we will use is "how much fun did I have?" We will rate each game on a 1 (total bore and border line waste of time) to 10 (top tier in memorable and best plays) scale. The game with the highest rating of fun for that particular play will move on. The goal is to find the game that is the most fun consistently.

The Games
Our field of 32 comes from three areas. First we put in ten of our 10x10 games. These are all games we think are fun enough to play repeatedly (and this gives a reason to play them) so that seemed like a good starting point.

Next we added some personal picks. My wife and I both picked eight games each we wanted to compete. We took different approaches to this. With some exceptions, I picked games that we think are fun but are probably underplayed. I am hoping to discover some games that just have not had their chance to shine. My wife on the other hand, picked games based on what she thought was consistently fun and would offer strong competition.

Finally, we have a big back log of unplayed games, so we picked the six we are most interested in playing and added them. These games are unknown quantities so who knows how far they will go?

We seeded the tournament based on how we rated the game out of 100 last year when we played through all of our games. The six unplayed games were seeded in the very middle of the pack, so that in the first round they are mostly playing each other.

The Results
After we play each match up, I will write a blog post about it. It will recap our thoughts about the game going into it, include a session report, the fun scores, and any post-game analysis we have.

It might be a touch optimistic, but our goal is to finish by the end of March since that is the tournament month.

That is our plan for the next few months. We look forward to playing games and continuing to share our experiences, we hope you enjoy reading about them.
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Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:21 am
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Rise of Cthulhu (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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When the charity auction for the Jack Vasel Memorial fund rolls around every year we participate in it. In previous years we have donated items as well as bid on items. This year though we jut bid on this game. I did not know much about it, but it was a two player game and it had no bids. We won this game for a good cause but is it a good game?

Game Overview
In this game two players will compete for four locations as they attempt to be the cultist faction that influence these places. On a player's turn they may play two cards, draw two cards, or draw one card and play one card.

These cards come in multiple colors and they are numbered 1-10. The player with the highest value of numbers controls the location. Players can play cards to any of these locations or they can play a card to the valley. If a card is played to the valley then the dark hunter piece can be moved. When the dark hunter goes to a location the highest valued card there is discarded and no other cards can be played.

Mixed into the deck are three great old ones. When one of these come up, they will go on one of the location cards. Whoever currently controls the location gets a benefit and that location essentially becomes locked.

While players play cards they can get bonuses. If a player plays cards so they can make a set of three cards the same color then they can move the dark hunter off the board. If a player gets three of the same number then they can draw a monster card which can be used later for a powerful ability. Finally, if a player plays a run of three cards that are the same color then they get an artifact card. This can be used to cancel an opponent's card or saved to the end of the game for potential points.

The game ends when the third great old one comes out. If one player controls the majority of locations they win. Otherwise it comes down to combined value of play cards.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The rules of this game are extremely luck filled. Controlling locations is based on high cards. Getting the bonuses is fine, but the player that draws lower consistently is at a distinct disadvantage. I also disliked the "rich get richer" effect of the great old ones.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The rules are little more than draw a card and paly a card. It is very boring.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The artwork is OK, but it repeats a lot. The theme is not very well utilized.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Some of the card art conveys a theme, but it is weak.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: No thank you.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is boring and I think more plays would compound that.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The pacing is arbitrary. When the great old one comes out is random, and there is little way to plan for it or know where they are going.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It mercifully ends fast.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I found this game to be boring, and over all just not fun to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I very much did not like this one.

Final Score

37/100

We found this game to be boring, bland, and very much not fun. I suppose someone might find a reason to like it, but we think it is best avoided and we will be trading this game as fast as possible.
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Thu Jan 4, 2018 2:39 am
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My Most Played Games in 2017

sean johnson
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This should be the last end of the year post. Now that 2017 is over I can look back at all of the games I played. Between my wife and I playing through all of our games and being able to be part of several game nights I think I recorded more plays this year than any other. In 2017 I recorded 1,111 across 319 unique games. Of all those games, these are the ten that I played the most this year.

10. We Didn't Playtest This: Legacies (14 Plays)
I got this at Gen Con for a $1 in 2016. This year, I managed to play it with the church youth group, and it was a big hit. It came back out quite a few times throughout the year. The teens really liked writing their names on the cards and making permanent changes.

9. Century: Golem Edition (14 Plays)

We got this game at Gen Con, and it has been a standard in my game night bags since then. I have taught this to various groups and it tends to be a big hit. My son really likes the game as well. We put this on our 2018 10x10 list so we are looking forward to this being a good game to play as a family.

8. Codenames (16 Plays)
I ended up playing a lot more party games this year because of church game nights. This is one of the party games I enjoy the most, so I always made sure I had it with me. This is a game that holds up well to repeated plays.

7. Unusual Suspects (17 Plays)
Knowing that I would be playing more party games this year, I went ahead and got this one. I had played it previously and thought it was decent. This is kind of the opposite of Codenames though. No matter how much I play Codenames it is still great. I do not feel this way about this game. After playing it 17 times this year, I need a nice long break from it.

6. Star Wars: Destiny (19 Plays)
Because my wife and I were trying so hard to get through all of our games in a year there were only a handful of games that we played multiple times this year. This was one of them. We both found ourselves wanting to play it more which is exactly what we are hoping to do in 2018.

5. One Night Ultimate Werewolf (22 Plays)

I got the Daybreak expansion which really helped add some life to this game. I do enjoy this game, but the play experience is so uneven. Sometimes it is incredible and tense with lots of duplicity and intrigue. Other times, it just falls flat. Most of these plays occurred from a handful of sessions where it got played over and over. It one game went well it was "we have to do that again" but if it was a dud then it was "we can't stop on that."

4. Ticket to Ride (24 Plays)
We began 2017 with ambitions of doing a 10x10 of different Ticket to Ride maps. We started off ok for the first couple of month but then quickly lost steam. Most of these plays come from then. I do regret that we gave up on this before playing the Pennsylvania map more. I really like that one.

3. Insider (34 Plays)
In a year full of party games, this was my most played. I really enjoy this game a lot. One of the things I like about this game is that it is just as fun to be the Insider as a a commoner. I do like being the Insider because I like the challenge of being a hidden helper instead of a hidden traitor. I have not played Werewords, but from what I have seen about it I think I would prefer the simplicity of this design.

2. Pokémon Trading Card Game (52 Plays)
This was a serious flash in the pan. All of those plays came from the first few months of the year. Starting in the Fall of 2016 my son dipped his toe into Pokemon. He had some decks, I got some to play with him, and then he got some for Christmas. We played quite a bit and there was a teen at church who I ended up playing against quite a bit. The teen moved and my son moved on. A month ago we discovered that Wal-Mart had some decks released in the Spring on sale. I asked my son if he wanted one, and he said "not really." All things considered moving on quickly is probably better than the alternative.

1. Race for the Galaxy (259 Plays)

While not entirely, the vast majority of those plays were on the app. One hundred of them were recorded in July alone. This has always been one of the favorite games for my wife and I to play together. The app made it easier than ever before. I do have to say after recording this many plays in a year I do feel that I am much more skilled at playing the game.
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Tue Jan 2, 2018 2:57 am
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Gaming Goals Past and Present

sean johnson
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I am not much of a resolution maker, but I do tend to set goals. I think the difference is that a goal has a defined end point and a set definition of success. Last year I set several gaming goals for 2017. Let' see how I did and what I am planning to do in this coming year.


2017 Goals


Play’em All (Again)
Yes, we did this! It honestly took us longer than expected. I had really hoped we would finish by the first couple of weeks of November but we got them all in.

Play Imperial Assault (someway and anyway!)

I got twelve plays of Imperial Assault in this year so that is not bad. However, it is less than I wanted. I especially did not get to play the skirmish as much as I want. I really would love to find someone I could play semi-regularly against.

Finish Mythos Tales
I did not get the final, bonus tale done until December but I got this done as well.

Ticket to Ride 10x10
This one did not happen, and it was mostly my fault. I ran out of steam on it fairly quickly because while I do not dislike ticket to ride I am not over the moon for it either. We realized by March that a hundred plays was not going to happen. The release of the Race for the Galaxy app, all but killed this goal for us.

Play a Miniatures game with my son
We played Arcane Legions in May, and he really loved it. The biggest reason we only played that one time is my fault. I do not have them organized very well and it takes a while to build an army. We also played Imperial Assault skirmish several times, and while it is not quite a miniatures game we also played Ogre this year. He is now eight, and I think that 2018 might be the year he really starts to get into this side of gaming.

2018 Goals


Assemble a Print and Play Game

For several years I have wanted to make Sharks and Jets. This is a West Side Story themed tactical dance combat hex and counter game. This is the year it finally happens. I am already making my supply list that I need.

No Unplayed Games
We spent all of 2017 playing all of the games that we had owned and had played at least one time. We participated in several math trades throughout the year. For the most part we did not play those games, and they have really piled up. At this point we have 31 unplayed games. We do have a plan though. In 2018, we are planning to write at least two blog post a week. I think our current average is somewhere around three. Each week we will play one new game, and we will then do some other kind of post. At one new game a week, we should easily be able to manage no unplayed games by the end of the year-even if we buy and trade for other games throughout the year.

Star Wars Destiny 1x100

We are doing a 10x10 again this year, and we intentionally left this game off of it because we have bigger plans. We both really love Star Wars Destiny and we are hoping to play this game one hundred times this year. That is a lot, but when we break it down to just two times a week it seems more manageable.

Do Something Creative
I am not sure what though. It has been couple of years now since I have submitted a Federation Commander scenario, so I like the idea of researching a historical battle, adapting it, play testing, and then submitting it. However, I have a bit more ambitious idea as well. I want to write my own Mythos Tales case. I have a couple of ideas. I need to first deconstruct a case to get a feel for exactly how it lays out, but I think I could do it.

I did pretty good this year with goals. Let's see how 2018 goes.
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Mon Jan 1, 2018 2:05 pm
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Ex Libris (One Couple's Review)

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I got to play this game at Gen Con this year and I really liked it. After the convention this game was at the top of my list of games to get. Now that we got it this game is this game that will be in circulation or will it gather dust on the shelf?

Game Overview
In this game players are seeking to get point by building the best library. The game will be played over a number of rounds. Each player has a home card a librarian and two librarian assistants. These are all workers that can be placed, but the librarian will have a special ability.

Each round there will be location cards put out so that there is one per player. At the end of each round one of these locations will become a permanent location. In this way the number of locations and options available will increase throughout the game. Players also always have the "home actions" available to draw a card or shelf a card.

These locations provide a variety of options, but the primary thing players are doing are trying to get book cards and then shelf these cards in their library. Each card will depict two to four book on them.

How and what books players shelf will be what determines points. First players may only have their shelves be three rows high, second to score all cards must be placed alphabetically. Players can have truly odd shelf layouts, but they do get points for the largest square/rectangle configuration they can make.

The books are divided into categories and the type of categories matter. Each game one of these will be the favored category, and players want more of this than any one else. There is also a banned category and this is worth negative points. Each player will also get a focus, and each book of their focus category is worth two points at the end of the game. Finally, variety is important. Players will score points equal to 3 times the smallest category in their library.

Once one player has a set number of cards forming the library one final round is played. Then the player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The worker placement part of this game is fairly standard, but it combines well with the puzzle of building the optimal library. This pairing is a great one and the mechanisms creates

Her Rating:
Her Comments: These rules work so well. I love the puzzle this game offers.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme of this game is charming. It is a unique theme and the game brings it out well. I also like the book titles quite a bit.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like I am building a library. I think it would be harder to hit that theme better than this game.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Even though the main goal and how to accomplish it does not change, the tactical variables such as which cards score, the order of locations, and available cards change every game. This means the game will always offer a challenge.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There are lots of cards, and the variable change a good deal. I think every play will still be an engaging puzzle to solve.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I like how one location stays out so that the options slowly increase. I also like how the player's actions bring about the end of the game. This does create an almost race feel as everyone is keeping an eye on each other.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is mostly good, but I think analysis paralysis can seep into this game.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Both in theme and the mechanisms used this is one of the more unique games I have played in a while. It is a lot of fun and I enjoy it quite a bit.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I absolutely love this game, and it is one I will always be up for playing.

Final Score

86/100


This game is an absolute winner for us. It really hits the sweet spot for us. It plays in less than 90 minutes, it delivers the theme, it has fairly easy rules, and it still manages to provide engaging game play. I think my wife considers this the best game that was released in 2017 (that she has played)
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Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:12 am
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Best Gaming Experiences in 2017

sean johnson
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I am fortunate to get to play a lot of games. The best part of playing games though is not the games themselves it is the people that I get to play with. It is the people, after all and not the pieces of cardboard, that make for great game experiences.

This is one of my favorite posts to make each year, and as I think back on 2017 these are my favorite game experiences.

January
The Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) and Star Wars: Rebellion
The Experience: For the past few years I have an annual two player game day with a friend. He is a big Lord of the Rings fan and I am a big Star Wars fan. This was the first year we played these two games back to back. This year he fittingly won War of the Ring and I pulled out the win in Rebellion. I imagine in future years playing both of these games will be part of the tradition.

February

The Game: Terraforming Mars
The Experience: We missed out on attending in 2016 because of how the timing of everything worked out, but my wife and I both got to go to IndyCon again this year. The highlight of this local con was playing Terraforming Mars. We got to play with a friend that we do not see much since he moved to Ohio, and this was the first time we played the game that would become my wife's new favorite.

March

The Game: Escape Room: The Game
The Experience: This was the year of escape room games for me and I played a lot of them. However, this is the one that started it all. I got this game because I thought it might be possible to adapt it and use it as an activity at summer camp. This was the first play to see if that possible. We did the prison escape, won, and I did end up adapting it for camp.

April
The Game: Storm Hollow: A Storyboard Game
The Experience: My son and I were fortunate enough to play an advanced copy of this game. We both really enjoyed it. Even now months later if asked, he can still recount what he did on this first adventure. One of my regrets this year is that we have not played this game together more.

May
The Game: Slapshot
The Experience: This is not a good game, but it is a nostalgic game. My brother and I played it growing up. He got married this year, and on the eve of his wedding day, after my kids were going asleep. I met up with him and one of his friends in the hotel lobby and we played some games, including this childhood favorite.

June
The Game: Monikers
The Experience: In games like this it can be kind of annoying if one team clicks better than the other teams. However, I have to admit it is a lot of fun to be that team where you just get each other. That was my experience this year. I volunteer to direct camp each year and on the night before campers arrived, the counselors were all present and we played games together. The counselors who would work together were team mates in this game and I was partnered with my other directors. The reason we are directors together is because we all work so well with one another and that really came through as we flawlessly knew how to communicate with one another using just a word or no words.

July
The Game: Race for the Galaxy
The Experience: My wife and I decided years ago that if we play a digital implementation of a game with all of the rules and no extras not found in the tabletop version then we count it a a game played. The Race for the Galaxy app came out this year and we played it a lot. The peak though was July. At the beginning of the month she hit a big losing streak, and she started chasing wins. Before this happened our recorded record in the game was close to 50-50 but it started skewing in my favor, and she wanted to change that so we played more. When it was all said and done, we recorded 100 plays of Race for the Galaxy in July.

August

The Game: King Chocolate
The Experience: Initially my wife was not supposed to come to Gen Con on Saturday, but things worked out she should come. This led to a change of plans and we found ourselves particpating in the annual Saturday Mayfair gaming event. It had been years since we did this. We played King Chocolate and found we liked the game. The neatest part is we played while sitting on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium which was a memorable experience.

September

The Game: Mythos Tales
The Experience: This one is hard to talk about without spoilers. I have played several cases of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, and at this point I have played all of Mythos Tales. Of all those cases the single best one was The Vanishing Girl which I played in September. The narrative in this case was so good. The way clues were hidden was amazing. When it comes to games of this style this case is truly the high water mark.

October
The Game: Cottage Garden
The Experience: In October my wife and I went on a Disney Cruise without kids. Because it is a shared hobby we took a suitcase of games to play together. It was fun because we did get a reputation on the boat as the "gaming couple." We would find tables in public areas to play on and people would stop to ask "what game are we playing this time." This was a game we got on the trip and played the most while on the boat.

November

The Game: Attacktix Battle Figure Game: Star Wars
The Experience: At the church I work at we held a "Star Wars Family Fun Fest". One of the options that families could participate in was Attacktix. I had a ten person 1,000 point battle set up. To even the teams I got to play in one of these and it was a blast. The children were ages 4-9 but I dare say the parents got more into it than the kids.

December
The Game: Divided Republic
The Experience: If you read this blog even semi-regularly then you know that my wife and I played through all of games this year. This game drew the lucky straw of being the "last one." Finishing the project was memorable enough but this turned out to be a great play where my wife pulled the win out in the very last turn with a sneaky play that took New York from me.
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Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:30 pm
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Sonar (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I played Captain Sonar in 2016. I enjoyed the experience but I thought it did have a couple of problems, namely it needs eight people for a full compliment. I did wonder at the time if playing it turn based would make for an interesting two player experience. So when this game came out I was very intrigued. I liked the idea of a game that distilled the concept of Captain Sonar down to a smaller player count. So was this game a direct hit or not?

Game Overview

Sonar is a two or four player game. When playing with four it is a team game with one person on each team being the captain and the other the radio operator. In a two player game each player fills both roles.

On a player's turn the captain will take an action. The most common action is moving. All players have a copy of the map and it is divided into a grid with points. When a player moves they announce if they are moving up, down, left or right. They then secretly move in the chosen direction by drawing their path to the next point. When a player does a move action they also generate energy.

Other possible actions involve spending energy. A sonar action costs two energy. When sonar is done the opponents must say on the grid what row or column they re in. Three energy allows a team to move silently. This allows a move action that does not have to be announced. Torpedo cost four energy. Shooting a torpedo requires giving the exact coordinates and if the opposing sub is there it gets hit.

The radio operator is going to be trying to figure out where the opponent is. Every time the a move action is given the opposing side will trace the move on a clear plastic sheet that can be super imposed on the map. As this is done it becomes possible to figure out where the opposing submarine might be.

The final major rule is that a submarine can not cross or repeat any part of its path. The final action is surface which means the sub comes up and its location is announced. However, the path they have traveled is erased.

The first sub to hit the other one twice wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: These rules are very simple, but I think they might be a little too simple. This is a game where I wish there was a bit more to it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The rules of this game make it extremely unique and I think it is clever.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme in this game is fantastic. It feels like it is appropriate for a sonar sound effect to be playing. This game really captures the feel of a submarine fight.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like that it is accessible and easy to play but the theme comes through.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This is where I feel like the simplicity of rules hurt the game. I think more depth in the rules would add additional factors that increase the replayability. As it is I fear that especially at two it will feel same-y.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Even though the maps are different, I think the base experience will be fairly static.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The turn structure is simple and intuitive. I do love the pacing, there is a lot of tension and intrigue during the first part of the game. After shots are fired, it becomes a very engaging game of cat and mouse as both players try to out maneuver each other.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It can get a little long and become a little too much of a cat and mouse game for my liking.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme really caries this game and it delivers a great experience. At two or four this game is engaging and a great experience.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I liked this game a lot more than I thought I would. This is like a gamer version of Battleship.

Final Score

74/100

I tend to really like tactical naval combat game. By and large my wife has hated games of that nature. In fact I think this is the first one she has liked. We both have some concerns about replayability but until we play out this will be a game to come back to.
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Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:54 am
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