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Day 533. June 17, 2018. Tavira & Lagos...
Childhood summer memories are quite a thing, aren't they?
When you're a kid, you're clueless on what will stick after 30 years in your mind. And that's fine really. You're supposed to be a free spirit and worry-free when you're a child. Soak in as much as possible every day! Make each day last lifetime! It's quite amazing when you think about it... My pre-teenage summer memories revolve, unsurprisingly, around the beach. In a seaside town, summer school breaks mean one thing: the beach for three straight months!
Back then, the seasonal next door neighbors returned every year, from the city they lived too take complete advantage of their apartment, located smack in the middle of Tavira. With them, their two kids, Joe and Cathy, were around the same age that I was. For as long as I remember, they would join us every year and both families would share their vacation time together, or take turns taking the kids to the beach! For as long as I remember beach equaled play time with Joe and Cathy.
Summer days in Praia das Cascas.
But then the sun would set each day and each day we would all return home. To shrug off the sand into a floor that was perpetually and hopelessly covered with it. To regain energy with grilled fish, fresh salads, and cold soups! Evenings would end with the late night movie on the TV, after the downtown stroll for ice cream. No Web, DVD or VCR at hand, so we would be content with whatever the Portuguese and Spanish channels decided to show their audience! Most of the times, it was an action movie. Occasionally, they would pitch a romantic Merryl and Robert's Africa flick, the neverending Kevin Costner's wolve dance or the boring Godfather III. Then, us kids would seek some other form of entertainment...
Lego... Playmobil... Make belief cardboard boxes... Pillow fights... and the occasional board game. Monopoly would hit the table once per summer. But after just one play we all remembered why we didn't play it more often! It took too loooooooong!!! The next summer we would forget why we didn't like it and the paper money would see the light of day once again. There were also card games and "toys" disguised as board games, trying to teach us grammar, maths, or science... during summer breaks! Shame on them!
One year, however, I showed up at Joe and Cathy's house with my most recent board game acquisition: HeroQuest! Our English was rudimentary at best! Every time the rules were read, something new made itself evident! Nonetheless, we would make do with the bare bones. I was the Evil Sorcerer. Joe the Dwarf and Cathy the Elf. Heroe's had to roll & move, monsters didn't. Attack with skulls, defend with shields. The potions, equipment, spells? Some would be obvious, others not so easy to grasp. Regardless...
We could play HeroQuest! On a low table, in kids chairs, with the only source of illumination coming from a 70's lampshade dangling from the ceiling and pulled all the way down, two feet above the dungeon! The first night we played, set the game as our go-to nightly entertainment! Several levels above the all-powerful tv movies! Games lasted long into the night, past our parent's bedtime and with us scrapping for the last remnants of energy to keep our eyelids opened, just one more quest! No mean feat after several straight days physical exertion at the beach!
The adventures would invariably start with the two brothers teaming up against the orcs and goblins. A few wounds here and there, a treasure found, Prince Magnus rescued, the rewards... that's when the trouble began! Joe would argue that he did most of the killing so he deserved more money! Cathy would parry by saying that she was the one doing all of the fearless explorations, so she was entitled to a bigger slice! The team would split up in the next quest... And I would get to pick them off one by one. We would laugh our hearts out with some of the situations the game created! The dwarf running away from a tiny goblin, a single life point left. The Elf carrying Magnus' treasure chests back and forth between to the exit, only to die by a trap near the end of her arduous task, while her companion was off duty doing search runs in the corridors looking for gold!
We had a blast playing HeroQuest that summer!
That was the last year they came to Tavira during the big school break. Our yearly gatherings were relegated to occasional weekends during Christmas or while traveling through their hometown. Years pass. Childhood friends move away from your life. People change. There was no more HeroQuest with Joe and Cathy...
I miss them and those summer days. But I'm glad that I was lucky enough to have them and that my mind is full of those memories.
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard, Milton Bradley, Visão, Nostalgia Nerd
Day 532. June 16, 2018. Lagos & Tavira...
Darkness... That would pretty much summarize what's going in my (gaming) life the past couple of weeks.
Four Against the bloody thing continues to be a joy to play and my only complaint about it so far is the lack of time to actually play it more! I want to level up! I want to see what's behind the next door! Always just one more room! And with this latest party of four clerics, I've now begun to taste what so many people complain about the base game: too easy! After the party of three halflings and Khuk, the barbarian got decimated by a chaos lord, leaving just one barely alive halfling, it was time to move on.
How to make goblin pancake!
So I picked up Riene, a cleric that the halflings encountered a few dungeons back and built a story around her. The Sisterhood of Balinor! These girls play like an unstoppable tank moving through the dungeon! It sure is a world of difference when playing with halflings! Super hard! So, to take the extra easiness into account, I've picked up the Abyss and Fiendish Foes expansions! That should give the Balinor's priestess a better challenge in the near future, as soon as they level up to 3 and 5!
Not that the game needs a setting to be any better, but I'm trying put these adventures in an existing RPG world. So I picked the now-defunct? Eberron D&D alternate setting as a source of names and places. For now, I'm keeping it simple. Let's see how the RPG feel evolves in time. I might pick up a copy of Mythic, just to spice things up even more!
I've finally played 51st State Master Set, during gamenight, after so many readings comparing it with Imperial Settlers. I would still put my money on the Imperial Settlers game if I had to pick one. Charming art and innocuous mind-numbing setting, almost goofy sometimes wins everytime you have to pick an engine building card game to get people in the genre. Still, that race aspect in 51st is more fleshed out than in Imperial Settlers. And the extra resource conversion process? An extra brain burning level! However... that theme is a no-go for me.
I've decided to include Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge animals in the base game and make a surprise to Alice, the next time she would take the game from the shelve. Needless to say, it was a giraffe and flamingo success, but what she really liked were the iguanas! So cool! By giving one animal each from both games, the game actually becomes harder and more challenging! You still have to get rid of every animal, its just that now, you have more to manage!
That made me wonder about the rest of the animals in other versions... What if we included ALL the different animals from every Tier auf Tier spin-off ever published? A super long, impossibly hard stacking game? Or maybe you could draw 7 pieces at random and play just with those?
Gaming podcast time and will to listen to them are also in steep decline. The only ones that I still make ends meet to listen to these days are the Punching Cardboard duo! Them and the troop from Adventure Zone! I've started to listen from the first episode and so far its been nothing but laughter and smiles amidst the gloom.
A thread I picked up from Spirit Island, lead me to a previously unknown podcast. The Thoughtful Gamer, with their latest interview with Eric Reuss, over two hours of nothing but passionate talk about the Spirit Island. A true labor of love if there ever was one. A heavy-weight cooperative that kills the alpha player syndrome of cooperatives by giving each player so many choices that its nearly impossible for one person to control everything! Excellent!
Also excellent is what they're cooking up for the game in the future. Spirit Island has a lot of extra content planned for years to come!
The latest UK MT yielded some interesting results...
Melee, a title that for the longest time has sailed up and down on the wishlist, sometimes almost making its debut entry in The Thirteen geeklist is on its way to Lagos. Ilôs, a gorgeous looking game that bears Archipelago light tag every time I read anything about it, is also sailing from the north. Both should, hopefully, be easy enough to play in an Até à Lua event. Maybe a pirate/island theme next time?
How to make goblin pancake!
But what's really interesting, however, is that two of the Race for the Galaxy expansions are also on the boat to Lagos! The Gathering Storm and the Brink of War! Now all I need is to wait for the next MT and get my hands on the base game and the Rebel vs Imperium to check a title off from The Thirteen geeklist, months in advance!
A thread from Charles Ward, concerning possible upcoming game designs coming from him, lead me to some very interesting titles. The idea was to research existing games that merged route building and race. Something like building a route as the players raced in the pre-built path. Somehow, the recommendations leaned to tile placement + racing games.
D'r Af stood out, not only because of the publisher's heavy reputation, Splotter, but also because the race length is defined by the size of the table itself! Completly out of print these days, there's still a PnP version around the geek for those apter to craft their own games. Also, in the crafty geekland, Arctic Dash: A Narwhal Race looked like a great title in the genre, designed for the younger crowd.
5 Minute Chase keeps things tense and current, by incorporating asymmetrical player conditions in a real-time tile building-chase game. Similar in theme at least is the latest from the Burgle Bros/Fugitive universe, Getaway Driver. Will these robbers ever stop running from the cops! Maybe the next game in the series couldbe Hideout in the Bermudas or... Prison Break!
A game of Getaway Driver!
Crossing from PnP land into Kickstarter land, last week I stumbled on a game with an unusual theme. Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game, gives cubes a revolting personality, in a semi-cooperative game about fighting back against the police and state forces, to try and gain control over modular areas in the city and fulfill secret agendas. I love the theme in this one and the art is a perfect match! What a great surprise! The publishers follow the philosophy of offering the full PnP files of their games, so this game is going to jump really high on the PnP queue.
Bloc by Bloc 2nd edition setup
Even if darkness ruled over the last couple of weeks, gaming still manages to stave off the inner revolt whenever it has an opportunity to shine. See you in two weeks and thanks for reading.
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard, Folterknecht, punkin312, lildragon810, Laboitedejeu, PerpetualFX, RPardoe, kalchio, TLSimons
Day 531. June 15, 2018. Lagos...
The other day we had to assemble some kitchen furniture. It isn't by any means related to the living room, where the games live, but somehow, everything is interconnected in this house and I found myself unexpectedly, organizing the living room furniture too! That meant taking everything from the shelves to be able to move the clunky thing!
When the shelf was in the right place (for now!), I started to file the games once again. I stored them all in the center shelf, somehow managing to squeeze every single free space on it with a game! But it ended up looking too heavy on the eye! More like a board game store shelf than a living room shelf! So I took everything out again and instead of squeezing things, I tried the opposite approach. All the game would be mingled with the rest of the shelf citizens, hopefully creating a looser look this way. Only the plants are missing.
While I rearranged the games, It dawned on me that it has been a while since I've taken a picture to the gaming library and write a little about its present state. A shelf dismemberment was in order.
The yellow box on top holds the remnants of a Warhammer Undead army, waiting to join their companions in Tavira. Next, to the cooking and Waldorf magazines, there's an ugly brown cardboard box with games on top. The three on top have been played in the past ad infinitum! The two on the bottom, not nearly enough times! Not by long shot! The ugly brown box, however, is the house of the PnP collection. Haze Islands and Card City XL stand out from the rest as the most played. There's also a Mini-Rails PnP version there, waiting to be played and a WIP for a deluxified Coffee Roaster!
You can't really tell, but there are a few sheets of paper and coloring pencil on top. Those are the "components" of Four Against Darkness, my most recent gaming obsession. Next comes the small box games shelves. We love 7 Wonders: Duel, I love Impulse and Port Royal! Rivals of Catan, Dale of Merchants and Oceania didn't live up to the expectations. Melee is the recent acquisition, from a UK MT and I really need to play Backpack & Blisters and Blueprints more!
A couple of library books waiting to be returned next to a laptop... A seashell picked up years ago in Tavira... Some of our books. Books are a strange object in this house. We use the library A LOT and every now and then, we do a purge of the various books we have acquired over the years. Storing them in boxes, selling them or just giving them away. A few days ago we sent most of them to Tavira, so now the shelves are lacking in literature. But make no mistakes. We go to books first, and games later, when its time for rest and recreation. Escape is loved on game nights, but the box size prevents it from seeing more action! And I still need to try a solo variant I've found in the geekland, without the real-time aspect! Kingdom Builder is a classic in our collection. Great couples game!
Ana's work stuff and the reason why she can't play more games.
I have no idea when I'll play Lignum. No solo there. But Ana has shown interest and I know I'll play it with Sérgio and Susana someday! Oracle of Delphi is waiting for Nuno, I love Ginkgopolis but don't play it all that I want to. Agricola and Nusfjord on the other hand... Lots of action with these two!
Northwest Passage, Nemo's War, and Snowblind have one thing in common that I'm a sucker for. Evocative art and theme! Takenoko was one of our gaming stepping stones in the past, but these days we only use it to show non-gamers what board games are all about. I love Istanbul, even if I only play the shop's copy these days. I have high hopes for Viceroy and Quarantine is here because of a Space Biff review. No idea when I'll get a chance to play it properly.
Heavy shelf! I've played them all and love them all! But Vinhos and Lisboa need more dedicated playing time. The problem is that The Gallerist is so easy to get to the table. The Colonists is my Uwe's fix without being a Uwe's game.
Alice's land begins here, with those Haba games, By Golly!, the French version of Monster Chase, Story Cubes in the orange bag and The Bear Went Over the Mountain in the plastic bag. I don't like plastic bags to store PnPs though.
Again, I have high hopes for Panthalos but don't know when I'll get around to play it. Lords of Waterdeep and Pandemic were part of our introduction to the hobby and Lords is still used whenever we have non-gamers craving for the next step! Did I mention it before that my friend Joel is the world champion in LoW for the iOS and that he got the bug from this copy? Love Clans and K2 and I'm still waiting to play Ascended. Solo most likely with a made up story around it.
Classic books and classic games. Catan was our gateway game and Viticulture was the first gamer's game that I fell in love. But while the first is mostly relegated to the super-rare family gatherings, Viti, as we call it, is a house favorite. I'm dying to play it with six players during a game night! And have you read Mastery! That book was an eye opener for me!
A blue box with bills waiting to be filed and four games waiting to be played! Robinson might prove to be the easiest to get to the table. Time 'n' Space and Three Kingdoms Redux might take a while. Rattle Battle its waiting for the right game night. And Yedo? A classic worker placement game! We bought it when we wanted the next Lords game, but recently it has fallen out of love from me. But it's still one of Ana's favorites!
The rest of Alice's collection, but she's still waiting for the right age to play Spinderella and Monster Falle with her older cousins. She always wants me to show her the Rampage monsters and meeples and she will occasionally ask for Spooky Stairs. Not that great with just two player, unfortunately. Kumo and Photosynthesis fall into the realm of beautiful abstracts. Kumo sits unplayed and I love Photosynthesis and will use any opportunity to play it! Gulo Gulo and Unicorn? Some of Alice's favorites!
We used to play Qin a lot when we first got it. Not so much these days. Alchemist is one of Ana's favorite games and Terraforming Mars is one of mine. I need the Flamme Rouge expansion to be able to get it to the table more often. Many times we are five people at game nights and base game Flamme doesn't hold five. Lewis & Clark is a strange beast. It's a good solo game but Ana needs to play it more to see if she likes it or not. Super evocative art and theme nonetheless!
What's not here? The plants and the rest of the books. The near complete Alea Medium Box family is in Tavira. Gloomhaven, with its humongous box and the expansion boxes are in a different furniture. HeroQuest is in Tavira, but not for long. The Magic the Gathering cards reside in a different "to sale" cupboard.
This was fun. If nothing else, dismembering the shelves made me want to play more games! Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
Day 530. June 14, 2018. Lagos...
"Enough!" the mayor said. San Felipe de Puerto Plata needed a break from the relentless raids from the Ares pirates! "This cannot go any longer! We need to hire someone that knows how to fight these pariahs!" he said, to the rest of the assembly hall, full with all the influential citizens of Puerto Plata.
"There will be no more festivities from now on and until we can deflect this growing menace! Agree?" Several heads nodded in the audience.
"Fine fine," someone said. "But who shall we hire?"
"I already have someone in mind..." the mayor said with a grin.
Jean Blackbeard was no stranger to sea battles. But these Ares pirates were proving to be as ellusive and sneaky as an octopus! No matter how much he tried to rally enough man-at-arms to fight alongside him, the pirates would scare away any man who dared to show up at the harbor! Two pirate's Galleons! BUM! Two Skiffs! BUM! BUM! Two Ares' ships! BUM BUM BUM! Everyone ran away, and understandably so, at the first sound of cannonballs whizzing through the air! It got so bad, that not only the mayor but the priest, of all people, were now demanding Jean swift results!
After several months of work with nothing to show but a pair of worthless sailors, Jean changed tactics! He needed to be on the watcher for incoming ships. He needed... a lookout!
As soon as he found one, strolling in the harbor, he hired the man on the spot and immediately things began to change for Jean.
An old sea dog of a pirate was found amidst incoming vessels, spotted by the recent crew member. And this sea dog knew a thing or two (maybe two!) about sword combat! Mark Tybuk himself, learning about the turning tide in Jean's efforts, showed up at Puerto Plata's harbor and joined the fighting crew!
"That's more like it!" Jean thought to himself. Soon, Jean was controlling the ships who could or could not dock, spotting the troublesome pirates in advance or sending them away by the strength of their swords! The pinnaces unexpectedly proved to be of much worth and prestige for Jean's career!
When the den of the Ares pirates was found and burned to the ground, Jean was awarded with the key to the city of San Felipe and a place in the 6 feet high chairman's seat.
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
Day 529. June 13, 2018. Lagos...
San Felipe de Puerto Plata festivities were a month long affair. Some locals might even say that it never truly ended! The town was always in need of more food, more rum, and more jesters to keep their citizens happy! A few elders would even whisper that the entertainments were a good way to keep their citizens quiet while the Ares pirates plundered the region!
But of course, Grace "Kid" May didn't know anything about pirates or whispers! All she wanted was to sail as fast as she could to where the party was louder and the rum was stronger!
A few days sailing towards San Felipe brought Grace's ship to the harbor, where she was met by the local handler.
"Food and drink, if you wish to enter!" the handler said with a blank face.
Grace was ready for the toll. San Felipe's reputation for party events was only matched by their hefty fees to enter the city! Everyone who docked at Puerto Plata had to "offer" some of their belongings.
The Kid and the taxing handler.
What she wasn't prepared, however, was when the handler asked her... no! when the handler demanded that one of her crewmates should serve as a lookout against pirates attacks! Grace didn't have a lookout traveling with her, and thus she was forced to scavenge the nearby harbors for one! But luck was not on her side! She would either have enough doubloons to hire a lookout, but just couldn't find one! Or, having spent all her money, the lookouts mysteriously popped up as if from nowhere... all at once!
Eventually, she did hire one, and while she was at it, a gambler and a jester! She was now ready for San Felipe's party!
The galleon pirates were not party seekers. They acted more like party crashers, before trashing the city!
"Oh, no you don't!" Grace said, turning to her crew of laidback no-goods. "We have to hire sailors who know how to use a sword! No way I'm losing this party for some worthless galleons piloted by a couple of old pirates!"
"Wo-Wo-Worthless? I'm not so sure they are as worthless as you sa-sa-say!" the jester stuttered, pointing at two huge vessels, with not one, but two levels of cannons in their port and starboard sides!
Both galleons fired at once against the city! As Grace watched from the stern of her ship, her sails opened wide, putting as much as distance as possible between her and Puerto Plata's plunder, she couldn't help but wonder.
"If I only had one more day to find the rest of the sailors. Just one more day..."
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
Day 528. June 12, 2018. Lagos...
The Balinor Sisters didn't waste much time, after their last adventure. The clock was ticking with war looming ever closer on the horizon as the days passed. Only time to mend wounds, listen to the latest batch of rumors and ran towards the next dungeon! Always running... They still need to find the second and third piece of the artifact that would banish once and for all the chaos knight. Reports told of a resurgence of power in the Ruined Grotto of Impenetrable Gloom, so they went there first.
No rest for the heroines.
The first door leading down a narrow corridor seemed empty at first. But as soon as they all got inside and cramped in the narrow passageway, two trolls jumped from behind wielding clubs towards Clsensa and Hada, hitting them both! While Clensa managed to get up and stay out of harm's way, the trolls teamed up to bash Hada and break her long spear! The girls pulled back and working as a duo, finished the trolls with ease, taking turns in the end, chopping their bodies into tiny pieces. Just to make sure they didn't come back!
A few moments later, again in an even narrow corridor, a group of goblins surprised them! But these proved to be an easy kill and were no match for the Sister's fighting skills. Still...
"I'm not sure that we're getting the monsters in this dungeon by surprise. It's more like the other way around!" Riene said.
Hada nodded. "These narrow corridors are working against us! We're always in each other ways when fighting in cramped places!
"Let's leave running then, for when we find wider rooms. From now on, we'll walk, as quietly as possible"
"Get out of the way!" Clensa shouted at their companions!
Caught once more in a claustrophobic place, she was trying to hit an orc with her long spear. But Riene's and Nene's flurry of parries and plunges, against the Orcs, were limiting the spear's path, turning their enemies into a tougher challenge than expected!
When the Sisters finally killed them, finding themselves alone in the corridor, they decided to take a break. It was time to heal and pray. They all sat on the floor, leaning against each other, focusing their minds on their metabolism and body functions. With sheer will, they all healed their fresh wounds, restoring their health and energy. Clensa was the first to wake up from the meditation.
"Next time we'll bring a bag of nails to shut the doors securely and find a room where we can do this without fear of being surprised.
The next room was big and wide! Finally, enough to hold the four sisters and the three trolls that resided there! Enough to fall in their well-honed routine of rushing around their foes, grouping the trolls like cattle, striking blows whenever the creatures were distracted! A task easy to accomplish with a troll...
One troll was carrying a magical spear. Although not Nene's favorite weapon, she traded it with her hammer. As the lantern-bearer, her simple weapon was the weakest of the party and with the aid of magic, she could now match her Sister's in combat!
The next door revealed another huge room. Gold coins scattered all over...
"What's all this gold doing here unguarded?" Riene asked, her sixth sense already sensing danger...
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard, Matt Gaser, tribality
Day 527. June 11, 2018. Lagos...
The four priestesses of the Sisterhood of Balinor looked more like a whirlwind of motions than four women running through dungeons! Riene, Strongheart, Nene Greloundl, Clensa Saihbreu and Hada Raindlinn were in perfect sync with each other's actions. Enemies that appeared in front of them barely had any time to raise weapons in defense! The four Sisters passed through them like a tsunami through straw buildings! Weaving and slipping out of their weapons reach, delivering deadly wounds, before continuing with their maddening pace!
Time was running out!
A few days ago, word had come down to the temple and Riene learned that a party of adventurers found the magical room of the chaos knight, setting him free! A few days after, the first reports of burned villages and tales of massacres reached the temple. Worse still, Riene heard that all but one member of the adventurers, halflings mostly, had perished trying to defeat the chaos knight! Riene remembered Khuk's little friends when they came to the temple, seeking blessing against a curse. She hoped that Khuk was not among the fallen heroes.
Come brothers! War is waiting!
There was no time waste! The longer they waited, the sooner the old cults and sects that dwindled after the loss of their chaos leader would hear about their master's return. They would again raise arms to join him in bringing down the eternal war to the land!
The old elven folklore told of an ancient artifact, used to trap the chaos knight and its subsequent shattering in three pieces, lost for many years. With the resurgence of the chaos knight, rumors told of the location of at least one of the pieces in a nearby abandoned quarry. Abandoned this is, by good-hearted folk...
The medusa was the first of the big dungeon dwellers that took the Sisters by surprise! Nevertheless, Nene and Hada shielded their friends, catching the stone gaze themselves. Once the surprise attack was over, Riene and Clensa jumped from behind the newly formed statues, their turn now to defend the party! The medusa couldn't keep up with their flurry of movements, let along hit them! Riene and Clensa cast their blessings successfully in their friends, breaking the curse, and the four continued with the running. The medusa? Lost in Balinor's tempest...
The Sisters explored the quarry as fast as their legs would allow, but the place held little more than pesky bats, small goblins, and undead bones. These didn't even register who ran through them whenever the clerics entered! Clickety-clack and bones flew everywhere! Still, no magic artifact...
Encounters in the quarry.
Eventually, they came upon a den of trolls. These did resist the Sister's charge! Not only that, but some of the fallen trolls came back to life soon after their death! The Sisters had to struggle to not only, chop the fallen bodies but also keep the live ones at bay! The trolls turned out to be guarding the artifact piece they were after! Could they search the rest of the quarry, for yet another piece? Or was it better to leave now and learn if any new rumors had reached the village about the whereabouts of the other pieces?
On their way out, they opened the door to a small narrow corridor only to find the most unlikely of monsters dwelling in it: a huge dragon! So big in fact, that the Sisters wondered if he had lived here all his live, outgrowing the dimensions of the exits! Forever trapped by its enormous size! Food wasn't lacking in the beasts diet, judging by the presence of countless bones on the floor, mixed with as many jewels and gems! Riene and Nene had to battle the final boss without the aid of their friends! The corridor was simply too narrow!
The dragon, sensing their foes hesitation and wonder, acted immediately, opening his mouth, overwhelming the passageway with flames! There was no escape possible and everyone was wounded. But not critically... Riene and Nene took turns, creating distracting the beast while the other lunged forward! With no room for the creature to evade, little by little, his enery began to fade until it was no more. All but one corridor in the dungeon was left unexplored. The dragon's body was blocking the path! The Sisters exited the dungeon soon after the battle, their mission accomplished. But they couldn't linger or allow themselves to rest.
Time was running out!
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard, Wizards of the Coast
Day 526. June 10, 2018. Lagos...
When it was time to schedule June's 9-21 event in Até à Lua, we noticed that if we fixed it for the 10th of June, it would coincide with Portugal Day. A day that celebrates all things Portuguese a little bit all over the world, wherever Portuguese live. This gaming day would accordingly, only allow games, set in a Portuguese theme and/or from Portuguese designers.
The first to hit the table was Pedro's copy of Vasco da Gama, from the recently Portuguese publishing house, What's Your Game? For some reason, I always think of Madeira when I see this game mentioned, despite being very different games. And perhaps that was the reason that made me believe that Vasco da Gama was a super-heavy game, when in fact it isn't.
I found it fine, but by no means great. The most exciting part of the game is when that Caylus like provost mini-pawn as a chance to move! We got all but one of the plus movement tiles! Our wallets were brutalized without mercy. Only Pedro stayed afloat and kept pushing his naval exploration. He also, always visited the same spot first every round. Going for either the money or one of the special characters (aka special powers!) in the lower right corner. That made the game feel a little scripted.
We resolved lunch while setting up the Panama canal, in Panamax, from Gil d'Orey, Nuno Sentieiro, and Paulo Soledade. An old open dice drafting game and one of the first games that Nuno and Joana introduced when they arrived in Lagos. One thing is sure. We don't play this game anywhere near enough times as we should! This game can be a breeze of a medium weight game, slightly touching on the heavy, with the interconnections and company management you have to achieve with only 12 actions in the entire game!
With 12 dice you have to push/pull a lot of ships and keep an eye on everyone's stocks value so that you can make a killing, buying those at the right time! Joana, with her natural born sixth sense for business, was a sure bet at the stock market! Like Microsoft, Amazon or Alphabet, her company was always afloat with money to spare. She won all awards for best manager in the game! Pedro, still new to the game, had a really bad first round, barely avoiding loan land. He got the gist of the game after that and made a respectable third place with 55, against Joana's... 96!
I like this game and but when we play it, it's always with long intervals in between. The stock and dice drafting is fine, but for me, what sets this game apart is the canal itself! That pushing/pull of boats between lakes, cuts, and locks, always hoping/planning that someone else might take your cargo that last final step is amazing!
Then came one of the biggest surprises for me last year, and maybe one of the best family/muggle/gateway deck builders games I've seen in a long time! Also from Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, and Soledade, I Love Portugal puts players backpacking all over Portugal's different regions, trying to score limited postcards from local landmarks while aiming for the endgame set collection bonus! Play your hand of five to either buy better cards, move on the board or take a postcard that will clutter your deck and at the same time, score you points in the end! Excellent!
And because the game ends as soon as the last player takes her 10th snapshot (in a five-player game), I Love Portugal has that race element in it, that it's not, by all means, apparent when you think about it! It plays fast for 5 players (40 minutes), amazing art on the postcards, super fun and the best updated thematic game we've played in our nations today!
Because when you think about it, a lot of Portuguese themed games are set 500 years ago, when Portugal was a super-power of the world, which is a really weird concept to think of these days. Board games tend to represent the country as this country of mighty sailors conquering (aka, plundering!) the coasts of South America, Africa, India, China, all the way to Japan!
Navegador, is the pinnacle of such representations, while also being a great game! ...without mini-expansions mind you! We played with some rip-off Diplomats and Pirates cards, which for me at least, felt like intruders in what's already a good base game. And despite Nuno's complaints that the game would drag for the rest of the day, Pedro's assured everyone that Gerdts' rondel is a killer in making five players sail through the ocean like a speedboat racing! The rondel barely stayed untouched for longer than 30 seconds! An achievement if you consider the number of things you can do with it! Create an engine in your player board, while at the same time racing against the others for much-prized spice colonies or timely market deals!
Portugal's killing fields.
Excellent game! One of the best Portuguese themed euros, set in Portugal's golden age, I've ever played!
By now, it was getting late... and the only games I own, suited for today were still untouched. Lisboa and The Gallerist. And while the former would have been perfect, it would also take way past closing hours and feel less of a game and more of a learning game, since neither Nuno or Pedro had played it, and I'm little confident that I could properly teach it. Thus, we finished the day, with a Lacerda title, that for some, is one of his best designs ever. ...funny enough, I keep earing the same compliment for each of his games! Vinhos is his best so far! Lisboa is the best so far! CO2 is amazing... Well, The Gallerist is an astonishing game, no doubt about it. I've said it before and I'll say it again because it's never too soon to keep this in mind. The Gallerist is the perfect game to introduce people to heavy games!
After a long day of games, I was still able to teach it to an already tired player (Pedro), in about 20 minutes and after a few rounds around the table, he had not only grasped it but was profiting big bucks by using the route I laid to him, during teaching. "Keep true to the game's theme, and you'll do fine. Buy art, promote the artists and sell it for a profit!"
Gateway into an art form.
While pursuing endgame scoring tiles and trying to throw business and celebrities parties are also a good way to fund your business, nothing tops the cash from selling artworks! Nuno and I got distracted by these things. The international market, the collector and seller cards, a party here and there... Pedro turned out to be the best Gallerist today.
Great day! Maybe we should try another thematic 9-21 event.
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
Day 525. June 9, 2018. Lagos...
"I smell flowers," said Rabbit on his birthday. He was laying under the sun, pleasantly eating the grass in the shamrock meadow. The scent was too strong for him to ignore, so he began looking for the flowers. Walking on the sunny path, he couldn't help but wonder where the rest of the animals where!
"Let's go! We have to move fast!" said Pig to Dog. The farm animals were scurrying all over, trying to get into position before Rabbit arrived at the flower meadow. They wanted to give Rabbit a surprise party before he found the flowers, by piling up on each other, in two big towers symbolizing Rabbit's second birthday!
"Be careful!" Chicken shouted to Sheep just before they all came tumbling down.
Rabbit stopped, curious about the noise that seemed to come from the up ahead. "I have to go faster," he thought.
Cow and her twin, Cow, rallied everyone around them. Everyone was too nervous, afraid that Rabbit might arrive soon! "I and my sister will be at the bottom of each tower. It will be easier that way," Cow said, calming the animals. They climbed more concentrated after that.
Animal by animal, they all went up to the Cow twin's backs, taking their time and making sure they were building a stable and beautiful tower for Rabbit!
When Rabbit finally arrived they all yelled: "Happy birthday Rabbit!"
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
Day 524. June 8, 2018. Lagos...
Beans! Sprout and feast on the sunlight and water for many days! Grow into a lush and vibrant forest of life! But also a strange forest... Where strange kids live in tents, watching the flowers grow, seeing the time pass. A forest of magical trinkets and strange symbols carved on the trees.
Some symbols lead to mushroom fields, where fungi can be picked by the kids and cooked into a comforting soup. Other symbols point to tasty vials of blue liquid that when gulped, give children the power of flight! To reach sky high all the way to the stars!
The bean forest, once fully grown and established will attract wildlife from afar! Iguanas, giraffes, sheep and, of course, playfull crocodiles! These green reptile giants will ask for nothing more to be happy, than the animal to come and play around them, Preferably, over them! How those crocodiles love to have towers of animals stacked on top of each other! Sometimes, two crocodiles will join at the bottom. Other times a single caiman will attempt to hold all the forest animals!
The caiman and the iguana.
It's a laughing party and every animal will always walk away, back to the bean forest with a big smile.
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
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