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Tony's Stupidly Long Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica, Pt. 3: Exodus

Tony D.
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Thanks to everyone who has read and chimed in on the first two installments in this series! If you're just joining us, I'm migrating my very-long-for-the-comments-section thoughts on the BSG series over to this blog, in order to make my collection easier to browse and get spark discussion with other BSG fans. This time, we're talking about the Exodus expansion.

First of all - obligatory:



As with all of the BSG expansions, there are several components here that I've only used with my PBF group, and not yet on the tabletop. My comments and observations:

New Characters: Overall, a better and more interesting selection than Pegasus, and less bloated than Daybreak. Cally is my favorite support character by far, Gaeta is long overdue and Tory is possibly the best President in the game (along with Daybreak Lee Adama). Still trying to figure out Anders: I can't imagine a situation in which I'd choose to play him. Star Player is a pretty cool ability, though.

New Skill cards: The 0-strength cards with their Skill Check effects seem to be primarily suited for making the Destiny deck a little more intriguing, rather than simply "will it be positive or negative?". If these cards turn up in people's hands, they're more likely to be discard fodder, but super-clever players (not me) will find ways to make them work for them in skill checks. The 6-strength cards are great, and I'm glad there's only one of each: when these cards get played for their text, it's an event! At first I was surprised that the Consequence mechanic is so little-used, but after a couple of games, I find that if it comes up even once or twice that's more than enough.

New Loyalty deck and Execution rules: In theory, the possibility of only one (or no) Cylon is kind of cool. In practice, though, it kind of sucks if you're the only Cylon (although I have won a game as a solo Cylon ). Still, I suppose this fix was necessary in order to keep people from abusing the Airlock.

Conflicted Loyalties: I've only used these in PBF games. They're amazing on paper, but like the original Cylon Leader rules, it's a base hit that should have been a home run. The Final Five cards seem to be more fun so far than the Personal Goals, which is the opposite of what I expected. If you own the Daybreak expansion, the Mutiny cards in that set do a great job of forcing the Humans to work against themselves and inadvertently sow discord, so I'd suggest using those instead.

Cylon Fleet Board: I've softened my original stance of "we will use this ALL THE TIME" quite a bit. It's still by far my favorite part of Exodus, and possibly my favorite BSG expansion element overall. For the humans, the Cylon ship threat becomes more constant and steady, but also more manageable (definitely better than waiting ages for a Cylon attack Crisis or getting 6 in a row!). And who doesn't want to be the CAG and/or fly a Mark VII? For the Cylons, the Basestar Bridge introduces more options and gives the Sympathizer more to do if he ends up on Team Cylon (if you're still using the Sympathizer, of course). And if you find having the Pegasus board helps out the Humans too much, the CFB will take care of that.

On the other hand, the CFB definitely adds to the complexity of the game, and the Cylon ships can add up to an overwhelming amount pretty quickly. And yes, it can also be "gamed" by clever players. After playing a couple of PBF games without the CFB, I found I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. I still prefer to play with it, but I'm perfectly fine with leaving it out, if that's what the rest of the group wants to do.

Ionian Nebula: Again, only used in PBF. This module is for the hardcore fans of both the game and the TV series. In fact, I can't imagine using this with my face-to-face game group for a good long while. Very unpredictable and not for the faint of heart. I used to think that only 7 cards for the Crossroads phase was low, but considering we won't be using this module much, it's probably okay.

Given its modularity and how much I enjoy the Cylon Fleet board, along with 75% of the characters, I've decided this is my favorite BSG expansion, and probably the one I'd suggest new players buy first. Curious to hear what others think.
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Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:55 pm
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Tony's Stupidly Long Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica, Pt. 2: Pegasus

Tony D.
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As I explained in the first post in this series, my comments for Battlestar Galactica and its expansions had gotten long enough that I felt the need to separate them out into blog posts. This time, we're talking about the Pegasus expansion, the first released for this game.

My comments for this expansion come with two big caveats. First of all, there are some key components that I've only used with my PBF group, as you'll see if you keep reading. Secondly, a good chunk of this expansion has been re-written or just plain tossed out with the Daybreak expansion. I'm currently in the process of revising these comments and adjusting my rating accordingly.

The Beast Itself: I like it, although it works best if you're also using the Cylon Fleet option from the Exodus expansion, as they balance each other out pretty well. It's almost always better to use the Pegasus CIC location over Galactica's Weapons Control (I'm still not sold on Main Batteries: I prefer sending Vipers to deal with Raiders), but using the Pegasus weapons is not a safe bet. You also gain the ability to soak up damage, but this is offset a bit by the fact that human losses due to damage were rare to begin with. If you're not using the CFB, you could probably leave this out with minimal house-ruling, although you'll miss the Airlock (see below).

New Caprica: My only experience with the NC objective so far is via PBF. The choice of practical actions is somewhat limited, which I think is okay: you don't want it to drag on forever. I also don't necessarily agree that you want to lose civilian ships before reaching NC: in theory, you will have lost all of the population or whatever that was on those lost ships, which is bad in the long run. My tabletop group will get around to trying it eventually, but we're in no hurry, and I could see it being a "one and done" kind of deal. When playing via PBF, at least, it's become my least favorite objective. I just find Ionian Nebula and Search For Home to be more fun, and if we're not using those, I'd rather take it easy and head for Kobol.

Cylon Leaders: Great in concept at least. When playing Cylon Leaders with the Agenda cards (and to be fair, I've only used the Agenda cards when playing via PBF) in this expansion, the CL can be a bit cut off from the main action, and the Agendas themselves are of wildly differing degrees of difficulty and require very different strategies. The Cylon Leader Motive cards from Daybreak are far better and mostly correct these issues.

New Human Characters: More playable characters are always welcome, and there are some good ones here, with one big issue: Cain's once-per-game ability can be severely game-breaking. A house rule or some sort of official fix may actually be in order: my favorite suggestion is to reshuffle the Destination deck before drawing, so the Blind Jump can't be set up with a Scout. Overall, I prefer the characters included in Exodus and Daybreak.

New Skill cards and Treachery deck: All are very cool. Reckless checks are a great concept, and the Treachery deck adds a whole new dimension to the game. Both of these were improved upon with Daybreak, of course (and in the case of the Treachery deck, completely replaced). I also prefer the new Investigative Committee cards to those in the base game.

Airlock and Executions: Probably the most controversial part of a pretty controversial expansion overall. The concept is fine and basically mechanically sound, and the concerns expressed over players employing a "execute everyone until you know who the Cylons are" strategy were mostly unfounded: not only is it against the spirit of the game, it's terribly inefficient. (That said, the revisions made in Exodus don't hurt.)

Random: Movement abilities (on character sheets and skill cards) are a cool concept that I would have liked to have seen more of in later expansions. And of course, plastic baseships. Awesome.

I've been playing BSG since before this expansion came out, and at this point, it's hard to imagine not using it. However, given the improvements and revisions made in the other expansions, it's hard to call this an essential purchase. My guess is that most BSG players will want it eventually: the Pegasus board is nice to have, and you'll probably want Caprica Six, Admiral Cain and some of the other iconic characters included in this set.
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Mon Jan 9, 2017 7:12 pm
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Tony's Stupidly Long Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica, Pt. 1

Tony D.
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Every once in a while, I'll scroll through my collection and review my comments. Some games naturally elicit longer comments than others: there's just more to say about Dominion than Through The Desert (for example). But holy cow, my comments for Battlestar Galactica and its expansions are out of control. It's one of my top 5 games (currently occupying the #2 spot), and I used to play PBF games constantly here at BGG. I've developed some pretty strong and detailed opinions on most aspects of the game, and the various expansion elements as a result.

So, I'm migrating my comments over here to my blog for a few reasons. One, I want to make it easier to scroll through my collection. Two, it seems a shame to have my comments in a spot where only I will see them, but it also seems silly to post a review for a 7-year-old game that is comfortably in the top 50 here at BGG. Finally, I just kind of want to see what other people think.

This first entry talks about the base game and the system in broad terms: future entries will focus on the individual expansions and go into greater detail.

(Also, a note: these really aren't all that long for a blog post, or a review. Within the context of the individual game comments, though, they might as well be War And Peace.)

Anyway, although most of my plays are via Play By Forum here on BGG, tabletop is still the way to go when you can. This is one of the 2-3 most thematic games in my collection: like the TV show (regardless of how you feel about the later seasons), it feels both epic and small-scale at once, with the same sense of paranoia and impending doom. Rules-wise, it's reasonably complex, especially once you add expansions (although even then, it's still no Arkham Horror). However, once you've got a grip on the mechanics, they sort of fade into the background and it becomes all about the cat-and-mouse game between the Humans and the Cylons. Simply an incredible experience: few other games even come close.

If I have one complaint about the BSG system, it's that each expansion rewrites rules and portions of the game after they're well established (new Cylon and Colonial One locations, new rules for executions and handing off of excess Loyalty cards, new Treachery cards, etc.). In order to only have to teach the game one way, I've started off brand new players with the expansions, which would not have been my preference. And once you do that, you get some dilution in the Skill decks, and key cards like Executive Order and Launch Scout don't come up quite as much.

My thoughts on the different numbers of players:
1-2: Yes, FFG has released official rules for playing solo or with one other person. These are good for learning the basics of the game (how skill checks and Cylon Attacks work, etc.), but they don't give a satisfying game experience. If you're looking for an epic co-op/semi-co-op game for 1-2 players, keep looking.
3-4: Haven't tried yet and in no hurry to.
5: The sweet spot. I'm vaguely curious about how replacing one of the hidden Cylons with a Cylon Leader would work, but the 3/2 split of Humans vs. hidden Cylons is just about perfect.
6: The second-best number, mainly because the more, the merrier, and also the ideal number if you want to play with a Cylon Leader. Otherwise, you'll need to play with either the Sympathizer (base game) or Mutineer (Daybreak). You can also check out FFG's official "No Sympathizer" variant.
7: Only played via PBF. I'm a little more open to trying this number in person now that our group has more experienced players.

My preferred combination of expansions:
*All core components (characters, skill cards, Crisis cards, Destinations, etc.) from all expansions
*Kobol objective
*Pegasus board
*Mutiny deck, new Treachery deck and board overlays from Daybreak
*Cylon Fleet board, plus its related components (although I won't insist upon it)
*Motive cards for Cylon Leaders

Saving for later:
*Personal Goals & Final Five cards
*New Caprica
*Ionian Nebula (Allies, Trauma, etc.)
*The Search for Home (Demetrius, Missions, Earth, etc.)

Favorite characters, including the expansions:
Political Leader: Lee Adama (alt.), then Baltar (original)
Military Leader: Adama, then Gaeta
Pilot: Apollo (original), then Starbuck
Support: Cally, and it isn't even close (although I am looking forward to trying Cult Leader Baltar)
Cylon Leader: Leoben, for now

Check out this blog entry to read up on my history as a BSG PBF player with the NCC-1701 crew.

Coming soon: my stupidly long thoughts on the three expansions for Battlestar Galactica.
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Wed Jan 4, 2017 6:02 pm
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Deck-building games and whether or not to remain honor-bound to the randomizer

Tony D.
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First of all: nearly three years since a blog post?!? Geez.

My friend Matt and I played two games of Legendary last weekend, and for both games I used the Legendary Randomiser app on my Android phone. This is my favorite digital randomizer: nice layout and graphics, and the screen doesn't go black while I'm pulling everything out of the box.

Anyway, for our first game, we ended up with Red Skull and the "Unleash the Power Of the Cosmic Cube" scheme, which just happens to be the Mastermind/Scheme combo used in the beginner setup in the core rulebook. Right away, we knew that we'd win easily, and with Human Torch, Nightcrawler and Wolverine on the team, it wasn't even fair.

For our second game, Mephisto was our Mastermind, and I quickly noticed that our setup included no Marvel Knights characters, meaning we were going to get a lot of Wounds and there wasn't anything we could really do about it. After a very brief discussion, we decided that if you leave things like this up to the randomizer, you get what you get and that's part of the game. Anyway, we lost.

I guess I'm curious what others would have done here. Would you have disregarded the setup in the first game, in favor of something more challenging? Would you have switched out a character in our second setup for one or more MK characters? Or is leaving your fate up to the computer part of the experience for you? Or do you not even use randomizers?

Appropos of nothing, I also use Dominion Shuffle for Android, which gives you extensive customization options but can still raise similar questions.
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Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:05 pm
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Got a major rule in Arkham Horror wrong - what would you do?

Tony D.
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Saturday night, Gretchen and I had our good friends Matt and Deidre over for dinner, along with their teenage girls Kevynne and Alix. Afterward, we played a game of Arkham Horror, which is always a hit with this group.

Our cast, in turn order:

Deidre - Mandy Thompson
Alix - Harvey Walters
Kevynne - Mark Harrigan
Tony - Jim Culver
Gretchen - Vincent Lee
Matt - Diana Stanley

Nyarlathotep was the Ancient One. We played with the full Dunwich Horror expansion (well, except for the downloadable Herald) and most of the Lurker at the Threshold expansion (again, leaving out the Herald and its related components).

It was a fun game, and we managed to win with no gates on the board. Everyone really enjoyed the Relationship cards and the new gates, although we agreed we'd only use the latter with experienced players. The Doom track made it all the way to 7, but the Terror track never advanced at all, which we thought was odd. (The Dunwich Horror track never advanced either, but that's not too unusual.)

It wasn't until I was casually flipping through the rules the next day that I discovered we had made two critical rules errors. Since we were playing with more than 5 players, we should have placed 2 monsters on each gate instead of just 1. On top of that, a monster surge results in placing one monster for each open gate or for each player, whichever is greater. (For those of you that are into documentation, my source is pages 9-10 of the base game rules.)

It seems like we should have gotten this right, but I don't think we've ever played with this many people, so it's possible it never came up before. (I do remember one 5-player game where I think we forgot these rules too, but that game went all the way to the Ancient One battle, so I'm not too worried about it.)

Everyone involved in the game has discussed it, and we're all planning to reconvene for another 6-player game in order to redeem ourselves. Here's my question to you: how far should we go in "re-creating" the circumstances of the last game? Everyone seems to agree that the rematch should be another Nyarlathotep/Dunwich/Lurker game, but if it were you, would you also use the same characters, Relationship cards, turn order and so forth? Should we "punish ourselves" for the previous game by adding a Herald, or using a Difficulty card, or something?

Or are we over-thinking this? It's entirely possible.

Anyway, what would your group do?
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Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:11 pm
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Expansions, Part 4: Expansions? Who needs 'em!

Tony D.
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First off, apologies to those of you who have been following this series and have been awaiting additional entries. We had some incredibly exciting and wonderful news in my family (check the microbadge ), but aside from that, this was a difficult entry to write. It's kind of a hodgepodge of ideas that were originally going to be stretched out over multiple blog entries, but none of them quite had enough material to stand on their own. On top of that, while writing it I began to wonder if I was undercutting my primary thesis in a couple of spots. Anyway, I hope this makes sense.

Now, onto the blog entry proper. In case you have been following this series (and thank you if you have), don't be scared by the title. The guy who is now on his fourth blog entry about board game expansions has not suddenly given up on them. I did, however, want to take some time to talk about situations where I've decided not to buy any expansions for a game my wife and I already own, or where I/we decided to pass on a game altogether due to having lots of expansions.

Games we own that I don't feel like collecting expansions for


Alhambra - we've only played Alhambra once, and we enjoyed it enough that if we ever get around to playing it regularly, it'll become kind of a "go-to" game. Still, it just doesn't strike me as a game that needs any additions, the way that Carcassonne needs Inns & Cathedrals (as an example). If we did, we would probably just buy the Big Box and get it over with. Luckily, we have friends who own that set, so hopefully we'll have a chance to try it out at some point.

Railways of the World - this is a great game, and I hope to play it again soon. I just don't know how badly I need more maps for it. As noted in a previous entry, we've already hurtled down the slippery slope of Power Grid expansion maps, and I just don't know if I can do that for a second game, especially when I can get 2-3 PG maps for the cost of Rails of Europe.

A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game - one day, my wife and I were at a game store in Des Moines and wanted to buy something. It was between this and Ghost Stories, and we ended up going with AToE. We thought it looked like a nice "Arkham Horror lite" game for when we didn't quite have time for the "real thing". As it turns out, it's not that hard to find time for a game of AH. We intend to try this one again, but I just don't see us playing it often enough that we'll get bored with the content already in the box.

Games I'm not buying due to expansions


All FFG Living Card Games - A Game of Thrones is the one where this really hurts: my wife and I are huge fans of the novels and HBO series, and I'd love to be able to get a Westeros-themed gaming fix without having to recruit 3-4 other people and setting aside 3-4 hours to play the other one. Still, it's just gotten too unwieldy, too quickly. To a lesser extent, I'm also interested in Warhammer: Invasion, but I'm passing on that for many of the same reasons. And now there's The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, which is brand-new but appears to be headed down the same route (plus we already are obsessed with Knizia's game, so I don't feel like we're missing out on too much there). A friend of mine owns Call of Cthulhu, so I at least get to play that one.

Battles of Westeros - bitten again by my love for all things AGoT. This was announced not long after I'd decided to buy into BattleLore, and my first thought was that I'd jumped the gun on getting into BL, and my second thought was that I'd eventually have to own both. It wasn't long before I changed my mind again. There's already 4 large expansions for this one, and the battles aren't the most memorable parts of the books anyway.

Tide of Iron - the base game is pretty pricey by itself, and there are some pricey expansions to go with it. Of course, I probably have a similar amount by now invested in Memoir '44, and there are many out there who own and enjoy both. But the bottom line is, they're both tactical level World War II games with lots of expansions, and I only have room in my life for one of those.

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) - TI:3E is probably the game I want the most that I'll never be able to justify owning: it's expensive, takes a long time to play, would require many plays before we started to get the hang of it, and it would have to compete for table space in a group that already favors plenty of other long, epic games. Still, there was a possibility that I'd get a chance to grab a copy, but Shards of the Throne killed that for me. Knowing how I am, I wouldn't be able to stop at the base game, so I'm just nipping it in the bud now.

There was almost a third category: Games that don't have expansions that don't need them. However, I decided to junk that category after the Horned Rat expansion for Chaos in the Old World was announced. Previously, I felt that game didn't need an expansion, but now that one has been announced I can't wait to buy it. In other words, that category would have been meaningless.
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Tue May 24, 2011 6:07 pm
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Expansions, Part 3: Tony's least essential expansions

Tony D.
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As we've established in previous entries, I'm an expansion junkie. I insist on playing Memoir '44 with the Air Rules when the scenario permits. I will be first in line for the Chaos in the Old World expansion when it comes out, even after I insisted that game didn't need an expansion. I bought my wife Dr. Lucky's dog as a stocking stuffer for Christmas a couple of years ago. And we recently added Alvin & Dexter to our Ticket to Ride collection.

I say all of this as a preamble, so you know exactly what I mean when I say you can probably do without the expansions on this list.

This is not a "Worst Expansions" list. I don't dislike any of the five expansions listed below, nor do I intend to get rid of any of them. However, I think it's safe to say that these expansions add very little to the game they're attached to and, in a couple of cases, have pretty flimsy reasons for existing at all.

I'm sticking with the rule last time of one expansion per game, and have added a couple more rules this time around:

All expansions on the list must be owned by me and my wife. It would be easy for me to use this space to rag on the Campaign Bag, because I think it's dumb and will never own it, but that would make this a pretty shallow exercise.

No promo items. These are almost always minor items with little impact on the game, and they're mainly there for diehards who want to own everything anyway. We're looking at much more significant purchases here, for the most part.

With that, away we go:


Carcassonne: Catapult - such an obvious choice, I almost didn't include it. My wife actually bought it for both of us as a Christmas gift the year it was released: she loves gimmicky stuff like this. And I have to admit, it's so ridiculous that I can't help but admire it a bit: the people involved in creating and distributing the Catapult have to know how absurd it is, and they did it anyway. Still, the title here is "Least Essential," and by that definition it absolutely had to be included. Playing Carcassonne without The Catapult is like going deep-sea fishing without your tuba.


Heroscape Expansion Set: Volcarren Wasteland - hopes were sky-high for this expansion when it was announced. It had already attained legendary status well before its release when the "Hot Lava Death!" meme spread through the online gaming community like wildfire. The fact that is was a Toys R Us exclusive tempered enthusiasm a bit, but I still eagerly snatched it up upon release. Sadly, it didn't take long for me and my gaming group to realize the near-fatal flaw in this expansion: the vast majority of the time, the negative effects of the lava terrain can be avoided by simply moving your figures around it. In order to make good use of this expansion, it's best to have someone in your group who is a talented map designer, or to create objectives that require you to send figures into the lava. Otherwise, it will never be anything other than a minor irritation.


Memoir '44: Terrain Pack - complaints about the Terrain Pack abound. Stuffed to the bursting point with great new terrain, special rules, units, plus...a whole four scenarios that barely use any of the new material. When the Air Pack was announced, we were promised revised versions of every previously-published scenario, taking full advantage of the system and every other released expansion, including this one. It..partially delivered. The Campaign Book and Breakthrough expansions have improved things a bit, but not a lot. Bottom line: this expansion is only necessary if you're a M'44 completist, and even then you won't be using it much.


Arkham Horror: The Black Goat of the Woods Expansion - imagine you're fairly new to Arkham Horror. You already own the base game and Dunwich Horror, which most people would recommend as a good starter kit. You've played enough times that you're craving more stuff. Knowing what you know now, would you be willing to pay separately for the Inner Sanctum cards? Or the Sheldon Street Gang cards? Because that's essentially what you're doing with the Cult of a Thousand cards if you buy this expansion. Granted, you get more stuff than with the other "membership" cards, but it's just as difficult to join, and thus the impact on the game is tiny. On top of that, the Investigator and Ancient One cards in BGotW are totally generic in nature, with none of the unique flavor of the previous small box expansions, and there are no new mechanics to speak of either. Granted, for many (myself included), more stuff for AH is reason enough to buy this expansion. Still, the rest of the series should be a higher priority.


Small World: Tales and Legends - it feels a little mean to pick on this one, since it can be had for about $10, and it's still much more fun than the thoroughly unnecessary Leaders expansion (which is protected by the "no promos" rule"). Still, all you're really doing here is adding more randomness to the game. To be fair, two of my favorite games use a very similar random event mechanic: A Game of Thrones (first edition) and Chaos in the Old World. However, AGOT uses the deck (or decks, as it were) to bring about major events in the game, such as Wildling attacks and bidding for the Iron Throne. In CitOW, it's almost more critical: the goal of the game is to be the most corrupting influence in the Old World, and unless there's a chance that the Old World might resist the corruptive influence of Chaos, that's a pretty meaningless goal. With Tales & Legends, you get a bunch of wacky events that don't amount to much more than a nuisance for the players. It can be fun, but I can't imagine insisting upon playing with it every time.

I know you don't need to be told this, but scream if you disagree. While you're at it, what's on your "Least Essential" list?
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Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:00 pm
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Expansions, Part 2: Tony's favorite expansions

Tony D.
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First of all, thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed the first installment of this series. It honestly didn't even occur to me that many people would even read it, let alone look forward to reading future entries.

With that out of the way, it seems natural to proceed by listing my favorite board game expansions. Before we get to the actual list, a couple of observations and broad comments:

*I imposed one hard and fast rule upon myself when making this list: one expansion per game. Otherwise, this list would likely consist entirely of Memoir '44 expansions.

*I tried to pick expansions that, in some way, significantly alter or improve the game. Just adding variety isn't enough, which is why you won't see any Small World expansions on this list (as an example). This, however, is not a hard and fast rule, as you'll see below.

*It seems like a glaring omission, but I have yet to pick a favorite Arkham Horror expansion. I just don't have enough experience with all of them yet. I'm planning an addendum to this entry where I finally commit to one of them. (In the meantime, I have picked an AH expansion for my future "Least Essential" list, but you'll just have to wait for that one. )

With that out of the way, here we go:


Memoir '44: Campaign Book Volume 1 - possibly my favorite expansion to any game. My regular M'44 opponent and I have completed Normandy - with a predictable Allied victory - and are halfway through Fall Gelb now, which is much more competitive so far. Every battle is meaningful, with special objectives being more important than ever, and Fall Gelb ups the ante by adding the armor track, where victory points are awarded for destroying enemy tanks. Getting together regularly to complete a campaign is challenging, but obviously that's not the expansion's fault. I'm planning to use the campaign rules for a Winter Wars campaign, once I own that expansion. I've also got my fingers crossed that the implied CB Volume 2 is coming someday, and I'm hoping it includes another early war campaign, and possibly a Pacific Theatre campaign.


A Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings Expansion - my favorite kind of expansion: the modular kind. I love not having to use everything, and being able to create the game experience you want. The ports are a necessary fix that should have been included in the base game, but everything else is purely optional. I'm a big fan of House Martell in the books, and I love having them in the game. This spot almost went to the Storm of Swords expansion, mainly on the strength of the Westeros cards and Wildling deck in that game, but I just prefer playing with 5-6 people.


Lord of the Rings: Friends & Foes - my opinion of this expansion was changed drastically with one play. Lord of the Rings is one of me and my wife's favorite games, and most of our friends love it too. We'd played a couple of F&F games before, and it seemed to me that all it did was take a game that was already difficult and make it nearly impossible to defeat. But that's not the case at all: yes, there are more challenges, and some of them are truly nasty, but if you anticipate them and are able to respond properly, you can do well and even win the game. And then there's the Foes, which present a whole new challenge that you can't possibly plan for. Bottom line: if you've "solved" LOTR, you need Friends & Foes.


Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders - I know what you're thinking, and it's true: regular Carcassonne is incomplete without Inns & Cathedrals, and that's the first expansion you should buy. However, for me, I didn't truly fall in love with Carc until we added T&B. The obvious reason why is the trade goods. Giving players an incentive to complete other players' features is a huge, game-changing addition.As far as the new meeples, I like the pig, but the builder is awesome.


Heroscape Expansion Set: Road to the Forgotten Forest - I almost left HeroScape off of this list altogether: when you think about it, HS really just had one expansion that was released gradually over 4+ years. In the end, though, I couldn't leave this one off. The roads are the only terrain introduced that were a fundamental game-changer, and when building maps, we always make sure there's a bridge, as opposed to a swamp or snow bank. The trees are wonderful too, and certainly make the map look pretty. When HS stuff was easy to come by, I recommended owning one RttFF for every Master Set owned, and I still stand by that.


Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm - another modular expansion. We haven't used the Governor or Destiny cards at all, but we like everything else well enough that we may just use it all the time. The new, larger Province sheets are a must even for rookies, while the alternate building rows keep the game fresh for experienced players.


Pandemic: On the Brink - we haven't even played with the Virulent Strain, Mutation or Bio-Terrorist, and yet OTB earns a spot on the list for the new role cards and Special Events alone. Buying Pandemic without OTB is like cooking a roast without potatoes and carrots.


Dominion: Intrigue - this one comes close to violating the previously-mentioned "Small World rule" in that it mostly just gives you more stuff to play with. But there's so much more than that: the high number of Attack cards, in addition to the large number of cards that have what we call "the d-bag option," means you can make the game as nasty as you want. Plus, there are Victory cards that you can actually use as actions, or for other purposes. I liked Dominion plenty before, but Intrigue is where we fell in love.


Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion - I might be jumping the gun here, because my only experience playing BSG with Exodus is a PBF game that hasn't been completed yet. Still, BSG is easily one of my top 5 games, and I can safely say I prefer Exodus over the Pegasus expansion. The Cylon Fleet is great: there's constant pressure, but it's more manageable than with the Cylon attack Crisis cards. We haven't reached the Crossroads phase in our game yet, but I love interacting with the Allies, and the uncertainty that they generate. I may have to re-visit this one as well: I think it deserves a spot on the list, but it's clear that I have yet to scratch the surface of what Exodus offers. My only complaint is that I wish there were more "backward compatibility" with Pegasus, but maybe FFG is planning to fix that with a Miskatonic-style "expansions expansion."

The 10th spot on the list is reserved for whichever Arkham Horror expansion I end up picking. I suppose I could have just picked Dunwich Horror, as there's almost universal agreement that new buyers should begin with that one, but as with Carcassonne and BSG, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be my favorite.

For my more detailed comments, check out my collection.
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Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:32 pm
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Expansions, Part 1: Sweet merciful crap, we have a lot of expansions

Tony D.
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According to my profile, out of 262 owned games in me and my wife's collection, a whopping 104 are actually board game expansions. That's almost 40% of me and my wife's collection.

This is the first blog entry in a series I'm hoping to do about expansions. Some of the topics I'm planning to cover include:

*my favorite expansions;
*what I consider to be the least essential expansions;
*my favorite games that, in my opinion, don't need expansions;
*me and my wife's opinions on expansions in general (spoiler alert: they're different)

For now, let's take a look at the main offenders. Note that this doesn't include every game we own that has a lot of expansions: these are simply the ones that we've either collected obsessively or that have gotten out of control quickly.

HeroScape - just...HeroScape. I got into this game shortly before Wave 3 was revealed, and by then I was already obsessively visiting Targets, Wal-Marts and Toys'R Us looking for figures, in many cases duplicates so I could field decent armies of commons. I stuck with it, and am only missing the Flagbearers and the Ticalla Jungle sets. (I opted out of both Marvel and the D&D stuff. That's not why I got into this game.) I'm only disappointed about the end of the line because I never did get my jungle terrain. I haven't given up hope, though.

Carcassonne - our "gateway" Euro game. When we were getting started, we bought the Carcassonne bundle (from our then-favorite online store, Newspiel) containing Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders. Over the years, we gradually added the rest of the series and also bought every other version of the game while we were at it. We even bought the Catapult. We seem to have actually hit the wall with this one, though: we ended up passing on Wheel of Fortune and weren't even curious about Bridges, Castles & Bazaars. These days, when we're in a Carcassonne mood, I'm more likely to suggest Hunters & Gatherers or The City.

Dominion - we have everything currently available except for Prosperity: we've barely touched Seaside and have barely looked at Alchemy. Both Gretchen and I love this game, as do all of our friends, and it's currently the one game that Gretchen is 100% behind getting expansions for. I suspect we'll own the entire series eventually, but we're slowing down until we've played what we have.

Arkham Horror - this one's fairly daunting, because although we own over half of the currently available expansions, the only big box expansion we have is Dunwich, and Miskatonic is looming on the horizon. We have friends who also collect AH gear, so we'll probably get everything eventually, but as with Dominion, we're pacing ourselves.

Memoir '44 - Currently, the Commands & Colors family occupies the #1 spot on my Top 10, and this is by far the one I've played the most, so Memoir '44 might just be my favorite game. I've gone crazy buying all of the expansions for this one, encouraged by the fact that Days of Wonder has shifted towards making M'44 more of a "system," where there are a lot of expansions that are dependent upon each other. I can see where this would be annoying to some, but I'm loving it. In fact, I'd be more annoyed if each expansion were a standalone product, and basically written as if none of the other expansions existed.

BattleLore - here's where things get really stupid. We've played BattleLore twice. When I finally decided to buy into this game, Mayday Games was running a clearance sale, and I was able to get the Epic and Call to Arms expansions for about $15 total. Then we found several OOP expansions at a game store in Ames and bought them on general principle. Still need to get this one back to the table, because we haven't even played with the War Council or any of that stuff.

Power Grid - our most recent obsession: we received this as a Secret Santa gift, along with the New Power Plant Cards and the China/Korea board. Since we now had four maps and two full sets of power plants, I declared that we had more than enough PG stuff to last us for a good long while. (I think you see where this is going.) A mere couple of weeks later, Gretchen was at a game store in Des Moines, a dangerous situation because we always try to buy something, and she left with the France/Italy board. Then, we decided that if we were going to have all of these maps, we might as well have a box to put them in, so we ended up getting Brazil/Spain & Portugal as well. We should probably play PG sometime soon.

Part 2 of this series will be along...eventually. For now, what games do you own that you've obsessively bought expansions for?
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Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:37 pm
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My adventures in Battlestar Galactica PBF

Tony D.
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If I'm going to have a blog here at BGG, I'd be remiss if I didn't at some point talk about my experiences with the NCC-1701 crew, which is part of the larger Battlestar Galactica Play By Forum community.

Our first game began in August of 2009, the way most games start: our moderator Joe picked the top people from the waiting list and sent out invites. We were game #17, and the cool thing to do at the time was to pick a clever title for the game having to do with the number of the game. Hence, NCC-1701 was chosen.

After the game, we talked about how much fun we had, and how we seemed to be a very efficient group and all shared the same sense of humor. With the permission of ColtsFan76, the Godfather of BSG PBF, we bypassed the waiting list and launched a second game with a newly recruited 6th player. During the course of that game, everyone acquired a copy of the Pegasus expansion, and we just had to try that out right away. A new moderator came aboard, enabling us to play a 7-player game. From then on, it was more or less understood that we were just going to keep starting new games, and a legend was born.

Sadly, our original moderator became too busy and had to leave after a couple of games. We have had several new people filter in and out since then, but it would be great if he could stop in again sometime.

Overall, PBF has been a very rewarding experience. I get a regular BSG fix, I have a much better understanding of the rules, and there a great opportunities to role-play, for those so inclined. Plus, it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Here are the links to all of the completed games so far. I've included summaries below each, but I've spoiler-tagged them for those who may actually want to read the entire thread.

NCC-1701
Spoiler (click to reveal)
In this game, I was Gaius Baltar and a Cylon from the beginning. I played very conservatively for the first half, out of fear of being caught. Starbuck became a Cylon at the Sleeper Phase and revealed immediately, and then the tables turned completely as the Cylons cruised to victory.

NCC-1701A
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I played Helo in this game and it was actually my first time as a non-Cylon, although I did become the Sympathizer at the Sleeper Phase. I remained on Team Human, and things were actually looking good for a while before the Cylons took it.

Game #43
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Our first game with the Pegasus expansion. I played Starbuck, eventually becoming Admiral and giving the order to escape from New Caprica. The Humans lost because of an unlucky ship draw at the end. A close game and possibly our best.

Game #52
Spoiler (click to reveal)
My worst game to date. I played Leoben and had a Hostile Agenda. Naturally, this was our first Human victory. I don't have much memory of it because I spent half of the game getting a Super Crisis card.

Game #59
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This time around I was Saul Tigh and on Team Human again. Another Human defeat on New Caprica. Tigh is a great character to role-play, which is good because I used every turn in this game to play an Executive Order.

Game #87
Spoiler (click to reveal)
As Apollo, I finally got to be on a winning Human team, and on New Caprica, no less. Apollo is my favorite character in the game, and at my request a Fat Apollo banner was created.

Game #99
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Due to a variety of circumstances, we only had 5 players for this game, and we chose to keep most of Pegasus but go to Kobol instead. I played Boomer and turned Cylon at the Sleeper Phase. This was the game where we began to suspect that Cain's Blind Jump may be broken, as the Humans scored an easy victory.

Game #108
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Admiral Adama this time. Three words characterize this game: no jump icons. Also, everyone thought I was a Cylon the entire time, even though I was human. We lost.

Game #127
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Our most recent completed game. I was President Tom Zarek: the first time I'd held the Presidency and not been a Cylon from the beginning. This is the game that confirmed for us that Cain's Blind Jump is broken, as the Humans escaped from New Caprica in less than 4 rounds.

Game #139 and Game #140 - our current two games. We're testing out Exodus without Pegasus, and in order to do that without anyone getting left out, we split into two groups and recruited a 10th player. Results are, obviously, pending.

And finally, the lovely folks who made all of this possible:

Joe F
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Francisco Colmenares
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4 Comments
Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:40 pm
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