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Foam Bananas

Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas for games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly (Monday and Friday at 12pm GMT) I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.

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Harvest Time- Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley & Coimbra

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.



"The gathering of friends!"


Harvest time


My favourite games played in the past month. Let's go!


"I get a little help with my glass"



"Love is worth twice that of hard graft"


Pour some red and let's get started. It all started with a bean. It was not magical but it would change the way that we would think about the world, at least temporary. Colourful grapes would grow, they would rot in great big vats and be squeezed in to translucent bottles. The bottles would be worth a fortune and produce many good times. But I get ahead of myself. Before we could plant the bean we had to acquire it. Some beans require special buildings to grow. These must be made. There were three competing farms- Maartje's farm, Mariska's farm and of course my farm. We had access to all the same tools and farming accessories. It was a race to get there first but that's not very important. The important bit was spending time with with friends and bottles. The Romans knew though good friends and bottles were worth nothing unless you can get a benefit. The Lecturer and the Elite Oenolgist had a good drink with me. The Lecturer knew some cheap labour and the Elite Oenolgist gave me his old cellar for free. That's called Quid pro quo, my friend. This angered Maartje as she had no useful friends and saw how far ahead I was in the race to produce bottled magic. It was difficult for her to moan as a best seller was written on her winery. Danielle Steel got Maartje a steady income and all she had to do was inspire Danielle with a create of wine. Mariska was new to the wine business but was lucky to have a visit of Subsidiser. The sun fell beyond the horizon to introduce the snow. The snow would fizzle away and out would grow the vines. Harvest, squash and bottle; the seasons pass and we got richer. I got twice as rich as both Maartje and Mariska and triggered the end of the game. Maartje had foretold the end at the end of the first year. Mariska was happy to sample this wine making game.


"Alcoholic friends"


I must say that two players is my favourite way to play this game. It is quick, it is less luck dependent and the lack of bonuses on the action spots make the game more focused. I have never played this game where Maartje or I already knew we were playing a losing game after the first round. It does feel lucky I had such useful cards to begin with but that's the nature of this game. Hopefully I will get to explore these decks a bit more in the upcoming future.

Maartje had enough gaming that night and I played a two player game of Coimbra. I had learned the rules from a review video and had skimmed the rules as we set up. It had fell flat. I was lucky to give have another go with three players less than a week later.


"You are my friend- here take six soldiers"




"Homes for everyone"


Portugal, they have a good football team? What else is there? Many of hundred years ago academics, politicians, tradesmen and the clergy visited the city of Coimbra to become the best of buddies. They didn't mind which friends as long as they had power or money. A gang of four would hang around every street corner and wait to be picked up by the oldest families of Coimbra. They would line up like cattle and one by one the families would vow to pay. The highest bidder would get first pick. These friends of Portgual would increase your influence in each of their respected professions. Ronny influenced many politicians, making him a mighty powerful war monger. Sure he had nothing to show half way through the four prostitution event but then he exploded. I focused on making friends with the scholars and clerics. I marched around Portugal meeting the locals who applauded me for visiting other towns and the castle. Walt was rolling in the money with the tradesman. It took him a while to earn the cash but as soon as he did the fame came knock on his door. Both Walt and Ronny could afford expensive expeditions and trade their soldiers and money for more fame.



"Have you been to Tony, he will give you money for free"



Prostituting is expensive and unsustainable so after four calls we decided to see which of the three of us did the best. We each won our specialised influence tracks but Ronny was not interested in those tracks. He had gathered a huge advantage during the final go but lost it on the influence tracks. I collected a number of colourful scrolls, which for some reason impressed the public of Portugal and awarded me the win. It was very close with 10 points between first and last. It was a bitter contest of hiring best friends and using the influence to the best advantage. Deciding how much you pay was chosen from a pool of rolled dice. It wasn't just the number that mattered but the colour you selected. The colour would trigger your influenced track. I visited the castle for the king to allow me to pay an extra three soldiers for my very best friend. This had destroyed Walt's plans! With three, Coimbra felt very competitive and fun.
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Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:46 am
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Wood for Sheep- Comedy Corner- Magic Maze

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.




Wood for Sheep

"Comedy Corner"


The Comedy corner is here to make you laugh. I take a look at popular gaming tropes and attempt to satirise them. Get on board another classic!



Nope, not that one. Up, up and up goes the escalator but the Dwarf just stares ahead into the abyss of mall music.

"Welcome shoppers to the shopping mall of 2018. Why buy the latest Feld underwear, when you can buy a head wielding sword? Had enough eggnog for Christmas, why not try a drink from the magic vial? It will literally make you fly. We source the best medieval weapons from the authentic medieval period."


"Pep Talk!"


"Where are we?", questions the Elf? After seeing his reflection in the magnificent fountain, he runs to the closest exit. Nothing happens. "Step back-fool" grunts the Barbarian. A non-connecting room falls into place. Shouts are heard across the mall and it levitates and lands with an entrance. The group suggests the mage goes as there is a purple doorway. The mage swings left, then up and left again. It always happens but the Mage just cannot turn right. Come to think of it no one can turn eight. A brownish liquid encroaches the bright lights of the mall. This is followed quickly by a white sheet that drinks away the liquid. The liquid is becomes a distant memory and the Mage could turn right again.


"Prison Break!"


The running becomes more frantic and finally the Barbarian finds his sword. Just time for the others to find their weapons. Is that closing time already? Restart!


"Lost: The next chapter"


The four friends reappear at the mall. No spilt tea this time! Before the teleportation to the mall of 2018 the team had a pep talk to allow Dwarf to conquer his fear of escalators.

A room appears and a guard dressed in black appears. "Best avoid that room" says no one. Elf runs straight into the room and to prison he goes. This time he is teleported through space but not time. Mage has to battle consumer heaven and discounted Kniziea sneakers. She spills her latte mochachino on a key pad and out comes a confused Elf. "It was dark, there was a big bald man who did terrible things" Elf said with his eyes. This time it would be different. It was time to check the closing time but the security cameras focused their gaze on the maps. They knew the intruders of the past would have to check the closing time. What they didn't count on was a big ape Barbarian teleporting and smacking the black screen into the cameras.

The mall expanded into a beige abyss as the second closing time approached. Lucky for our heroes they found all the weapons and escaped with plenty of time. That would have been the case if it wasn't for the big fat beholder guarding the exit! The seconds poured down the sand glass and the tapping began. Knock, knock, knock! The mall shook as a magnificent red figure shook the ground from outside the mall! What happened next is not for the easily offended!


Spoiler (click to reveal)
It's too late to succeed-kill everyone inside!

"Dear shoppers, thank you for shopping in the mall of 2018. Our time travelling experiments has failed and killed us all. Happy Holidays!"



End

I hope you enjoyed this version of Wood for Sheep. Magic Maze is more fun then you think. Go play it or get lost.


"Game over!"
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Fri Dec 7, 2018 12:00 pm
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Event Card- News in Review- My Euro games are changing!

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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"You will never play the same game twice"


Event Card

"News and analysis of the month"


I am a lucky boy! I have played three games of late. Through my human powers of memory and comparison I have noticed a link between these games. The three games are Gùgōng, Ceylon and Coimbra. Can you guess the link?

All three are high profile Essen 2018 releases with Euro mechanics. I have enjoyed the heavier games with Ceylon being a bit too light for me. What they all have in common is that they all have powers, scoring goals or both that are different every game.



"Same but different"


Ceylon is a game that involves clever card play and in each game there are four different powers you can acquire, which change the strategy of the game. Gùgōng has both different power ups and end game scoring targets, that again potentially change your overall gaming strategy. I won't repeat myself for Coimbra.

I thought to myself, is this a coincidence? I researched the games I owned and there are many recent (in the past two years) that have this game mechanic (if you can call it that).

Yokohama, Pulsar 2849 and Welcome To... also include the changing goals and actions in the game.

This has made me question what I enjoy in my games. In Ceylon I felt the card mechanic was clever but tedious. I vowed never to play it again but when I heard the powers are variable I was intrigued. The promise of a different experience had interested me to play a game where I didn't enjoy the core design. I did enjoy, but I wasn't thrilled with Gùgōng. The appeal of coming back to it and trying a different strategy is strong. I only played Coimbra yesterday (at the time of writing) and I wasn't taken with it. I didn't enjoy the card play but the game itself felt solid. These days that is not enough to keep a game but I am holding on to this.


"Brewed differently each time"


My question to you is: is this good game design? I think this is a recent phenomenon, perhaps originally stemming from Dominion. Dominion, if you don't know, allows you to pick 10 different cards which you can purchase to make a deck. There are 100s of different cards at this point. How many times have you played Dominion and 5 out of the 10 random cards have not been touched? In these cases I would say the game is designed badly. Is there not 10 cards that would cause optimal game play? I don't think this is the case as the discovery element is part of the pleasure of this game design.

I enjoy the irony that in this day and age that a game is only played once or twice before a new fantastic game is published that these designers design games with infinite content. My favourite games don't have this mechanic in the game but I do very much enjoy both Pulsar 2849 and Yokohama.

Is this the future of board gaming? My conclusion is inconclusive. I am hoping to get a game of Coimbra in the next week and maybe I will have a solid conclusion or maybe it will change again...


"Same but different"
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Mon Dec 3, 2018 12:00 pm
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Final tally- The Voyages of Marco Polo reviewed

Adam Majewski
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Final tally





"I've been through the desert on a horse with no name"


Asia, the exotic land of trade and camels. Marco skipped along the deserts, selling blankets and gold to keep himself in the black. This was no easy venture with three other competitors taking advantage of the open market and making his life that much more difficult. Lots to do with little time to do it.

Theme

Marco Polo the famous trader of the East. I knew the name Marco Polo before playing this game but that's where my knowledge ended. Now I know he travelled with lots of camels trading various commodities and exploring various markets. The board has a large map of Asia at the top and everything else appears to be trivial in comparison. The game is set in Asia but this is very much a euro game. You roll dice at the start of your turn and choose actions with those dice. Marco may have gambled during his travels but dice were not imperative to his travels. The essentials of the tale are undermined by the dice mechanics.

Art

Colour is what I like to see in a game. The art is vibrant, exciting and conveys the dusty markets and the exotic majestic temples. There are many characters in the game and they all looked like they have partaken in a tale of woe and trade. You won't get travel sick when playing this game. It is very pretty but not as pretty as a priceless vase.


"Friends in and around Bejing"


Production

Good wooden resources, sturdy cardboard money and wooden dice made with the colour of the rainbows. The contracts are made from sturdy cardboard. From afar it is difficult to differentiate the large resources from the small. A solid production from Hans im Glück.

Gameplay

The game is very basic, your collecting resources to fulfil contracts and travelling around Asia to setup trading posts. The trading posts give you an advantage, whether it is an extra trading station or a regular income. Most spaces allow for multiple players to use that space. The first player uses that space for free and others must pay money totalling the number of pips on their lowest placed die. The game lasts five quick rounds and you start with only five dice each round. You can acquire more dice but these are also limited.

Apart from competing with other players, you are constantly searching for the resources to complete your contracts. The search for money and camels is never easy. Money and camels are used for travel and at the start you choose up to four destinations you can visit to score you a nice bonus. Completing the challenge of reaching your destination is probably as exciting as Marco Polo getting out of the desert and finding a drinking hole. Completing contracts usually gives you more bonuses causing a chain reaction and a satisfying combo.

The game is best known for its numerous characters. At the start of the game, characters are drafted from last player to first. The characters give you game changing abilities. You have Marco Polo who travels with his father (an extra meeple to move) and gives you an extra die to play with. Other characters abilities include the ability to choose the number on your dice, the ability to lay a trading post by passing through a town and the ability to receive a free resource once one of your competitors goes to the market. There are many more characters spanning in complexity. The fun of having a unique ability is that it centres your strategy and dictates how you must play against your opponents. Some abilities seem powerful than other players but this is the nature of asymmetric powers. It is what you do with the powers that matter.


"Spend your time in Europe!"


Final Thoughts

Marco Polo is an adventure game. Will you find it to your destination? Will you manage to access the market that will compliment your strategy? Will you manage to complete your contracts? This is done via euro game mechanics but the game is a journey. Playing the different characters increases the variability of the game. The game has dice and bestows the excitement of a good dice roll. Bad dice rolls are mitigated and there are ways to mitigate it further. I love the challenge this game sets. The map has a variable set up each game and it always makes the game seem fresh. With such a simple premise the game has been slowly expanded.

The Voyages of Marco Polo: Agents of Venice

The first boxed expansion of the game brings more characters, Venice and "the agents of Venice". The game is so simple I always play with the Venice module. It adds an extra space that allows you to set up offices in Venice that bring you immediate bonuses. The bonuses are as powerful as those you get from travelling but are virtually free. It is an exciting action and creates more options for you to figure out the best option. You also have the agents that give you an advantage during the game round. It seems quite nice but I haven't had the chance to play it. The new characters are always fun to explore.

The game plays between 90 minutes and 120 mintues but with the expansion you can play with five increasing that time which seemed so right in the first place!

The Voyages of Marco Polo: The New Characters

Apart from new characters to explore, this expansion adds a new bonus you receive, either from completed contracts, character abilities or city abilities. The bonuses are random and one off. Just like the dice rolls, the excitement of the draw is as good as discovering a good deal.

The Voyages of Marco Polo: The Secret Paths of Marco Polo

The final expansion adds a new character and shortcuts that you can use for travelling. A small addition but it looks fun.


Summary
An excellent dice placement game with all the adventure of trade and exploration needed to make a great Euro game. Play the game many times over and never have the same experience. Just don't get caught in the desert without any camels.

Picture used from
Wouter Debisschop
Belgium
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Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:00 pm
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Check please- Games played this month-November

Adam Majewski
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.



"Who's the next player?"



CHECK PLEASE

"What have I played this month?"


Chilly November. I best stay indoors, locked up in the warm, playing lots of games. It has been a chilly November and lots of games have been played.

Stone Age: Anniversary


"Chilly reception during the anniversary"


There is no doubting that Stone Age is a great game. It's been 10 years so the publisher decide to release a super version! The changes are that it now includes: a new double sided map, a few printed meeples, shaped food tokens and a few minor variants. For these few changes they added an extra 50 to the price mark. This is infuriating! I played a club copy, so the value of the game shouldn't have been an issue for me. I was lucky to play this copy and save myself some money. We played the original game on the snow map as there were a few new players and because I couldn't read the German rules. It was a fun old game as usual. I grew my family and built lots of huts, however the bonus scoring did not come out for me. The big multiplier for big families was taken by the player taking the facedown card from the supply. This player actually won the game. He was new to the game and generally rolled well. Sometimes that is all you need!

Great Western Trail: Rails to the North


"There is nothing to see north of Kansas City"


Finally, I got to play with the expansion! Racing to Kansas with a herd of Jersey cows is never going to win you the game. The cities near by have all the food they need and the cities further north will reward you, rather than hinder you, for the greatest cows Texas have. To get there you must build stations and these all take actions. There were three of us playing and we all went down different routes. Ronny strolled down the trail and Mariska populated it with outhouses. The very first thing I did was to buy an Ayrshire cow and by the end my collection of cows was complete. Thanks to my contracts I had managed to win. I visited New York and San Francisco. It was only fair for me to have the victory for feeding all of the USA. The expansion makes the game more calculating and therefore a more sustaining, juicier steak of a game!


"The Wild West"




A casual night round friends with Maartje and the lighter games got played. Colt Express is a clever programming game where you watch your fellow outlaws program at the same time. The sheriff brings chaos, chasing you up to the roof of the train, where the only loot available is that of your enemies. Punch, shoot and rob and hope for the best.


"Next stop- Texas Prison. All Change!"


I went Bella, the most seductive of all cowpeople. I was one shot away from being award $1,000. That would have not been enough. Maartje had got the suitcase of cash, only for it to be stolen by Sander. The real winner was Eri who just ran home rich with all the diamonds. I would never choose to play this game but I do find the flying bullets and the chaos as fun as a drunk cowboy landing on a cactus with his bottom out.


"Shoot him! I may sleep with you."


Alhambra

It must be because I moved house in October but I got the chance to build two palaces in as many weeks (Also played in October). This time round we played with three of the four modules of the first expansion and what a difference that made. Palaces all need servants but they all smell, so you don't want them near by. The houses are free to build and they make your existing structures better. The structures must match the colour of the servant's house so careful planning must be used. The exciting part of this module is that it changes the amount of buildings you need to get a majority. Additionally, it is part of your Alhambra, giving you more walls! With your supremacy, you get to buy buildings out of turn using your Vizier.


"The palaces are inspired by the colour of money"


Maartje had stolen the majority of towers from under my nose during the last scoring age and this had placed me in second. She was lucky to be first. It was really an exciting game and the best "city building" game I have played. I was gutted to miss out on the super version of Alhambra on Kickstarter.


"Towers, chambers and arcades- what else does a prince need?"


I was particularly happy with my palace only focusing on three buildings. I had won the garden once the game had finished- but everyone needs to relax outdoors every now and then.

Spyfall

I hosted a games night round my new house and we had started with something a bit fun. Three rounds were played. The first round the spy had given himself away immediately, the second round the spy had guessed where he was and on the third the wrong spy was selected. It was not a great icebreaker as many of my guests had only just met each other and there was silence and long pauses between the questions as people thought what to ask or answer. I was the spy and got away with it as I was asked whether we were outside or in- I guessed correctly. It was inside a gaming convention!

Ticket to Ride: Old West


"I need a ticket of this dust bowl"


This map is fantastic- what is worse than blocking someones route? Allowing you to score their points. In this version of Ticket to Ride, you start off with a city and you must expand your route from that city. You have the options to build more cities and the benefit is that anyone building towards your city, their points are awarded to you. We played with six and Gor started smack down in the middle of the map- Salt Lake City. People have to get places and they had to travel through Gor. I must not complain, I got an 18 point bonus after Seattle became the hot place to visit. Dennis was particularly lost in this map and the others managed to build a few routes. It was between me and Gor, I had built my route North to South and had picked up no tickets the entire game. Gor had short routes and had won the globetrotter bonus for completting the most tickets, winning him the game.


"Seattle- palace of dreams"


I would have shot him had he stayed any longer!

Dark Moon: Shadow Corporation

We were down to five and delirium was entering the room. We had to sniff out the infected from the non-infected. This was very easy to do when Sander had sabotaged every mission he went on. The expansion is fantastic- the shit just got real. Being the most experienced, I was awarded the captaincy and immediately asked Dennis to cut off his arm. He was an obeying crew member and little by little we managed to survive missions when Sander had not sabotaged us. A vote was called to have him locked away and chopped up and they both were passed.


"He's infected!"


What happened next was that Sander handed his status card to Dennis to pass a mission. Dennis declared him infected. Clearly, Sander was hoping that Dennis was also infected. The second infected player kept a very low profile. It caused suspicion and suspense. In the end I had boarded the space ship with Dennis and Roel had the deciding vote! We flew off to victory! Mariska was the second infected and did a good job causing panic. The expansion adds suspicion to the game quicker, which is great. We played with the threats but they were largely ignored. This is my favourite social deduction "game". I love The Resistance and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong but if I want a longer game of intrigue- this is the best! Next time we will play with the company man.


"On safe ground?"


King of Tokyo

Roel had left us leaving us to play a game of punching each other in the face. The first game was very quick as a bit of bashing from everyone had everyone discover what true pain was. It was the Sheriff in town (played by me) who landed the final blow. The second game went on for years! Monsters were playing for points! Thanks to my wings, I managed to avoid 8 damage on one turn. It was a super combo that put most out of the other monsters out of the game. I was down on my luck but I was playing Captain Fish who managed to recover quickly thanks to my Starfish DNA. The others were less than 5 points from winning the game, until I smashed them in the face with my boat. When I play this game it feels like it is a wasted game. When I play this game I have so much fun!


"Sheriff is in town!"


Agricola: Bubulcus Deck

A solo play through to see a few new cards from the expansion. It is nice to try some new combos and I made use of the Cooperative Plower to dig up four fields. The Truffle Searcher allowed me to farm the pigs and I scored over sixty points. Even with the added variation, I find Agricola quite repetitive solo. I must beat 70 points before I stop!


"All bull"



"My lovely farm"


Ganz schön clever

I played this twice with Maartje over two nights. This is an addictive puzzle in a box. It plays like Suduko for me. You fill in box by box, hoping to unravel more options and aiming for a brilliant score. I won both games but we both enjoyed the game. If one die roll was different in one of my games, I would have scored an extra 55 points. The quest for points has never been so much fun and suspenseful!


"Load of all dice!"


Ceylon


"Tea Pickers in the bush"


Essen buzz has been floating around this game like tea leaf pickers in a tea farm. Pick, pick, pick goes the tea-farmers. We imitate those pickers as each turn we must pick an option from either our cards or from the card played by other players. You can either perform the action the player has not chosen on their card or do one of two ordinary actions. The special actions are to pick leaves, plant bushes, gain special abilities or research technology. With the tea you put it on trains and points or money are awarded. This game is beautifully illustrated and produced but, just like tea, it is never going to be the most exciting thing in the world.


"Trains included"


Kees won the game by a huge margin leaving the rest of us massively behind. He was ahead on the technology track and was rewarded some vital points for planting most of his seeds (note: not his seed), gathering majorities. I had gone for a different strategy than the others. I focused on fulfilling as many contracts I could for points. I choose to ignore the abilities as the main points were claimed. I came comfortably second. I found this game dull and frustrating. Whiles never having a bad time, I had felt let down. I said I would never play this game again, but Simone revealed a bunch of different abilities that could play in different games. Apparently these have a big effect on the game so I will try this again if the opportunity comes again.

Gizmos


"Should be renamed as Boring Algorithms"


The final game of this month was a machine building game. We have Splendor so unless it is better why make it? Well this game had the balls to be made. More preciously it had marbles. It is a super dull game with very little excitement. They made Splendor more complicated and added beautiful but random marbles. Some how it has less theme than Splendor. We played with a youngster who was proud to announce he was pulling the best combo of the game by drawing two marbles. Maybe I have lost my innocence of youth.

An excellent month of gaming. December is the holiday season and I am hoping to play lots of party games. Merry Gaming Y'all!

NB: I also played Troyes and Welcome to... I wrote about them here
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Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:00 pm
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Set Collection- My favourite box sets- King of Tokyo

Adam Majewski
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SET COLLECTION

"Gaming Box Set!"



"Bringing the rent down!"


What's your favourite game? How many expansions has it got? That's not enough! For a truly great game it must have at least three expansions. This game has a more expansions than a Catan player rolls two in course of a game. Set Collection runs through all the expansions a game may have.



Every monsters favourite Yahtzee variant. Cause pain by rolling claws, climb the highest tower and beat your chest when screaming in your grandest monster voice "I am KING, I will destroy you!". There you have King of Tokyo, have you met the cast?


"Boogie Woogie and Pandakai"


Boogie Woogie entered your dreams and crawled out your eyes to instil fear into the whole human race. He will spook and howl as he lands a smacker-blow on your crying face. As your head turns from the slap to your cheek, you see a cute Chinese panda that you hope will hug you to sleep. Wrong! He will smack you out of that dream with his bamboo stick and blow your mind with laser beam eyes. This panda is not in the mood for being your matey and will teach you the way of the pain bringer. Time to get out of here.


"Kong, Mantis,Space Penguin, Gigazaur and Kraken"


Did you think that monsters only inhabited Tokyo? Wrong again. In King of New York the monsters partially let go of the grudge to destroy the apartment you were sleeping in. You will run away screaming, only to hear a seven foot chainsaw wield by Mantis who is as mean as he is green. You see some jets bringing the explosions to the sea only for Kraken attempting to twist your head off like the lobster that you seem him to be. Lucky for you a charming penguin freezers his claws, that are only centimetres away from your neck. She is Space Penguin and throws you up in the air to gobble you up. She forgets to take off her space helmet and things get prehistoric. Gigazaur, from the land before technology, bites Space Penguin's ice pack and it blows up in his face. Kong gets hit by the blast and his fir turns white. Confused with his new fame, he dresses up to join a monster boy band and blasts out the new kids on the block. You mange to run of during the breakdown destruction.


"Mega Shark, Captain Fish, Alienoid, Pumpkin Jack, Sheriff and Drakonis"


Things get fishy as Captain Fish and Mega Shark battle out of the sea causing a Tsunami in the streets. Mega Sharks ninja skills are no match for Captain Fish freight in his face. You avoid the water as Alienoid beams you up with his ping gun! There's a Sheriff in town and pops Alienoid in the head. He locks you in his jaw. Lucky for you Pumpkin Jack and Drakonis create a fire storm. Sheriff burns up to a crisp but your are protected by his jaw. Pumpkin Jack casts a spell on Drakonis to turn into a pumpkin. Simultaneously Drakonis cast a death bullet into the head of Pumpkin Jack. You are now covered in pumpkin juice as you crawl to your next adventure.


"New contenders?"


In a haze of orange you see the future. Is the world really a oval?



"Kookie, The King, Meka Dragon, Rob, Cyber Bunny"


It's worse than you imagined. An angry ginger bread man is throwing raindrops at your head. Narrowly missing your head Cyber Bunny hops along and eats the raindrops. It puts him in a rage! He aims for your gullet. The sword drops to your knees. Meka Dragon launched his claws at Rob's power generator causing a power outage. You are feeling lucky. What a shame the ape named the King chews off your head. Your dreams of being the first non monster King are over.




"Monsters not appearing in this play"


King of Tokyo is fantastic but all the expansions are the same! We all love new monsters so who is the best?

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Sheriff!

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:00 pm
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Social Deduction- Reviewing the board game media- Broken Meeple

Adam Majewski
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SOCIAL DEDUCTION

"Reviewing the board game media- Broken Meeple"



"Harry Potter Meeple"


No nonsense Luke Hector is refreshing. He is just a guy from the west country (England) who loves board games and wants to chat about them. Sometimes he rambles a bit too much, but who doesn't. There are no flashy graphics, no Broken Meeple team, just a bloke talking about games. Modesty is his best virtue. You will hear about his ambitions for his channel and these involve playing more games. Getting in his way are low batteries and how weather. He reviews relevant games you want to hear about and I also enjoy his reviews of game conventions.

His style is refreshing from all these youtube stars wannabes. At first I thought his reviews were too long, but with his passion he manages to sustain my interest. This is rare when most of the time you are just waiting for the bottom line from board game reviewers.

He does a podcast which is good to listen when doing chores and his top 10/top 100 lists are filled with games he likes not the hotness. How many people have played Coffee Roaster ( a solo game from Taiwan)?

I have seen him around in conventions and actually had the pleasure to have a game with him twice. Once three or so years ago at Midcon. We played Snowdonia and good times were had. Once at Handycon where we played Citadels and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong.

Top Bloke- keep up the good work and the funny, in a cringe way, intros!
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Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:00 pm
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Tools for the job-Discussions about game mechanics- Tile placement (creating worlds)

Adam Majewski
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TOOLS FOR THE JOB

"Discussions about game mechanics"



"Tile Placement"


Tile laying is the Grand Canyon of gaming. Gasp and wonder at the size and scope of this genre. It would take a life time to explore this whole genre so I am going to focus on games that focus on building a grid or map. This sub-genre is the gamer's puzzle which allows you to create worlds, cities or just pretty little mosaics!

Classics in the genre

The undeniable monster of the tile laying world is Carcassonne and its very many children. The basic concept is that you draw a tile and connect it to the ever expanding world. You connect roads to roads, castles to castles and fields to fields. It is all very simple. Carcassonne introduced us to the second most iconic game component- the meeple! Every game is different and there is no limits to expansion (apart from the size of your table)! If you are a modern board game fan, you know Carcassonne.


"Join the monks as they bathe at the river"


There is no comparison to overlord Carcassonne but other classics include: Alhambra. In Alhambra you line up to buy buildings that will lay in your palace called Alhambra. The merchants selling you buildings hate nothing more than inexact payment and they don't care for your wall needs. As your Alhambra is built in only one orientation this can lead to problems- problems you need to solve. Alhambra is slightly more complicated than Carcassonne but afterwards you are left with a lovely palace.

Ingenious, is an abstract game where you lay tiles to connect different colours. For each matching colour you score points and at the end of the game you are greeted with a black circle littered with colourful shapes. The title refers to the scoring (each colour is scored separate and you score your lowest score) but also for the simplicity of the game.

The final two classics are pre-Carcassone and are only whispered of these days or used as a footnote. Take it Easy! is a fantastic game where you place a tile containing three lines within a grid. The lines are each different colours and if you build monocolour lines you score the relevant points at the end of the game. It's simple and can play an infinite number of players because each player plays the same tile. Streetcar is a bus game where you are connecting bus stops. You draw a tile and add it to a shared grid creating a city in need of lots of bendy buses.


"Sparks at night"


What is a tile placement game

You draw a tile and then you play a tile to an existing grid. The tiles could be cards and the grid could be the grandest of themes or just colours. The question is what variant are you playing?


"Elephants on parade"


Genres within the tile placement genre

Landscape design

Taking inspiration from Carcassonne you have Taluva and Cacao. You start with a tile on the table and slowly expand a beautiful colourful landscape. The grid is shared and therefore player interaction is a major part of gameplay. Stand and marvel at your beautiful creations, you all are the winners of the game-even if you lost!

Absolute abstract design


"Get your rugs"


Who needs reality when conceptual art is more beautiful? In Blockers! you are connecting symbols on a shared grid to make the largest groups. In Marrakesh you place rugs on the floor hoping that Assam the sales man will land on your carpet. Finally you have Tsuro, where your pawns are slipping and sliding on a grid hoping to survive falling off until the very end. Where as the previous genre was about design, this sub genre is more reactive and the decisions more abstract.

Personal competition

This sub-genre removes the interaction on a shared board and makes it a personal conquest for a high score. Karuba is a recent example. You are racing to explore temples and collect treasure on your way. The suspense, more so than in the other genres, is that you are hoping the next tile drawn will be the perfect tile for you and the least fitting for your opponents. A similar tile is Cities which does not give you so many restrictions on tile placing. The Hanging Gardens twists the formula. You collect different cards to make a personal grid, which in turn allows you to collect sets of tiles. Quadropolis modernises The Hanging Gardens and creates a bidding grid. I really dislike the tile taking concept of the game it is the antithesis of what tile placement stands for.

Route making

This is probably the smallest of the sub-genre but no less fun. You are creating routes which must follow some logic. The two most famous in the sub genre are Aqua Romana and Metro. Playing these games can be very calculating as routes need to be exact. Will this sub-genre be picked up again?

Why is the tile placement so good

There are two reasons which make the tile placement genre unlike any-other genre. A mechanic does not get any easier than placing a tile on to a grid. You can do it, your grandmother can do it and your pet dog can do it. Rules usually can be explained in a matter of minutes as this mechanic is usually the centre piece of the game. The centre piece starts from one piece and grows into a work of art. No two pieces of art the same and therefore each game feels unique and exciting.

The evolution of tile placement

This mechanic has gone in two very distinct routes. The first is the simplifying of the genre. Kingdomino has been very successful in implementing the very oldest tile laying game into the 21st century. The aforementioned Tsuro is very popular and has very few rules.


"Geography at Taluva"


On the other side of the spectrum you have the more complex and much loved but ugly -Suburbia. Stefan Feld has taken his hand to the genre and created his most successful game-The Castles of Burgundy. Vikings was one of the first tile laying games to mix it up. The concept with these games is still the same, pick a tile and place it but it contains more restrictions.


"Overlook Castle"


I find it difficult to imagined a more streamlined version of this genre. The more complex games are adding the mechanic and making it a small part of the game: such as the worker placement centric Rajas of the Ganges or even A Feast for Odin.

My favourite tile placement

The great thing about this genre is that there is something for everyone. I have great memories of my partner getting Carcassonne for my birthday and how we would play it many times over the following years. Alhambra has been another hit with me and Kingdominon worked surprisingly well for me and Maartje.


"Hipsters invading the mall"


Magic Maze has wowed me in terms of how much fun. It makes so much sense mixing a timed maze with tile placement. Making the game cooperative and played in silence is a fantastic concept. There should more activities to do with people that involve complete silence.

It was Carson City: The Card Game the card game that inspired me to do this list. The mixture of simple bidding, mixed with city building has grabbed me by my belt buckle and has my full attention. What is even more surprising is that it is ugly as an alligator.

Keyflower is my favourite heavier tile placement game but there is so much more than just tile placement.

Conclusion

This genre is huge and there are so many games I didn't mention which probably deserved to be mentioned. If you are playing a tile placement game, chances are it is the most beautiful game you will play that day. Tile placement is as pure gaming mechanic you are likely to get in gaming. I'm looking forward to trying out Gunkimono and Fertility.

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Final tally- Great Western Trail reviewed

Adam Majewski
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


Final tally





"Pillars of the South"


The sun is setting over the red dusted mountains and a cow silhouetted by the sun cries out a moo. It's the end of the day and the trail from Texas to Kansas City is starting to take its toll. As you suck on the blade of grass in your mouth you consider the few miles you have made; you acquired a new herd of Brown Swiss and made it past the rapids. It's just a small achievement but it feels epic. Only a few more miles before you can sell those cows and taste the sweet flavour of success.

Theme

A classic western landscape is sprinkled with southern state flavour. The Native Americans live in tipis, the rolling boulders of the valleys echo across the valley and up in Kansas you can witness the man made structures and a track capturing this southern art. It's like a pepper grinder filled with cowboy tropes was sprinkled all over the board and brought out the true flavour of the game. Then you have the beautifully illustrated cows, which you shuffle, draw and discard. The theme disappears just as quick those cows appear in your discard pile.

Art

The art is truly beautiful. It is realistic art which is framed by primary colours. The houses you visit on your trek are understated but have clear iconography. It manages the tough mix of beauty and functionality.


"It's a long ol journey"


Production

The production is solid. Good sized components, cowboy meeples and colourful trains that deliver you all the way to victory. As general game production levels go up this game can be considered in the upper percentile of quality.

Gameplay

Your task in this game is to deliver cattle to Kansas City and freight it across America. You are rewarded for delivering a varied herds of cattle some which will have a higher value than others. The higher the value of your cows the further you can transport your cattle. You place them on your personal train and if they cannot reach your destination you are punished by transport costs. Every player has a board and the more you deliver and visit train stations the more abilities you unlock. This is the core of the game and every player must partake in this journey. The journey is long and filled with hazards, whether it is tolls from opponents buildings or falling boulders in the treacherous valleys you trek, you must decide your route wisely. Other options for point scoring involve buying new stock, building new structures and conquering hazards. You can hire engineers, cowboys and builders to assist with these projects and you can trade cattle on your journey to fund these actions. Apart from the terrain, you can only hold a limited number of cards (representing the cattle) which are drawn randomly. As you purchase and remove cards from the game, you realise the core mechanic of the game is a deck builder. I mention the core mechanic last because it is disguised by your goals of the game.


"Medium rare"


You move your cowboy meeple to perform a quick action. These little actions you take on your turn, evolve into your grand strategic plan. The player interaction is minimal but due to the scale of the game these interactions could cause you to lose or win the game. This game is so great due to its grand scale and possibilities brought into view by a sharp focus.

Final Thoughts

A fitting analogy to explain this game is by describing a steak. A steak has greater flavour the more it has matured. This game is a between 2 and 3 hours. The best steak is lean and this game only contains the most essential gameplay mechanics. The best way to enjoy a steak is bite by bite so you can truly appreciate the flavour. This game is played action by action allowing you to continuously enjoy this fantastic game.

Do you think your a connoisseur of this game? Why not try a side of...

Great Western Trail: Rails to the North


The base game has been my most played game in the past two years. I generally found that rushing to Kansas with a streamlined deck of cows gave me a good chance of success. This expansion forces you to slow down and extend your delivery options. If you do not, you are servery punished. This expansion only adds one additional action but the nuance of this action drastically changes the game's strategy. The train route has many options and because you must open up these routes the game takes a bit longer but is more strategic. Exploring the "North" is a joy but I would say that it is only for experienced cowboys and girls.


"The land of opportunity"
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Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:00 pm
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Harvest Time- Troyes, Welcome to and Gùgōng

Adam Majewski
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"If this is France, where is the wine, cheese and croissants?"


Harvest time


My favourite games played in the past month. Let's go!


"Fight the invaders or make bread?"


Our life is simple; we go to work and play games. The French don't have it so easy. Combating to feed themselves they also had to help build a cathedral, fight any nasty invaders and impress the bourgeoisie. Joining me in this conquest was Nic and Walt, little did they know we would travel back to the 1200s and re-live 400 hundred years of history. The Merchant graced the city of Troyes and would be a popular way to make money. We paid our workers and they proved their worth with the number of dots on their coat. We could influence the number but we only had a limited amount of influence. We mainly chose not to and just paid for our friend's workers to do our bidding. Our military was used often to fight the invaders; being trained in death can be very useful indeed.


"The town square was full of trade and bustle!"


To gather influence we would battle the Normans and local brigades. I was an influence junkie. It was no secret I was friends with Hugues de Payns (who would reward me later for my loyalty). My fellow companions would have notice that I had spent a fortune at the Innkeepers inn. The pilgrimage was ignored for the goldsmith. Money was flowing as mercenary were big business in Troyes. Walt seemed quite keen on building the cathedral. Secretly he was rubbing shoulders with Urbain IV, but due to an interruption of work, the tower had crashed off the cathedral and cost Waalt the full respect he desired. In the final year of construction, Nic gave away his game by employing more folks. There was only one need for them and that was respect. Nic however confused the identity of Le Florentin with Chrétien de Troyes as there was no reward for a big work force at the completion of the cathedral. Nic and Waalt were new to Troyes and there legacy was overshadowed by the far more experienced Adam "me" Majewski. Each of the tasks were greeted with groans, as the workforce were being paid off one by one. It was no wonder the guillotine was used so commonly in France as your adversaries "stole" your best workers. As such the building of Troyes was a tense affair, enjoyed by everyone, despite the thwarted plans.

From building cathedrals we went to building local estates, where Heleen, was nice enough to join us.


"What do we want? Parks and swimming pools?"



"No street parking!"


The local council have called on all four to build the best estate in town. First we must demonstrate on paper what we can do with the resources the council will give us. Each turn we will have a choice of three door numbers with corresponding bonuses. Who will be the best? Would it be the unoriginal Adam's Villa, Nic's Sessa Gif (named after the game club), Heleen's Estate or Waalt's La La Town? If it was down to names there was a clear winner but this was about building streets with consecutive numbering. The challenges given by the council was to build lots of four house estates. Competition was fierce and one by one everyone, bar me, complete a contract. Once a contract had been completed the value went down. Despite this, I was the only one to complete all three and calling time on the whole building activity. Me and Nic had the same idea of focusing on building four house estates and were reward nicely as we both increased our stock for maximum points. Each estate had a fair portion of swimming pools and parks. Waalt had used the most temporary workers earning him a big bonus. What had tipped the edge for the winner was increasing the value awarded for the one of estates. That villa was konown as Adam's Villa. Defeating the competition by at least ten marks, was no easy task. The challenge was surprisingly tense in this multiplayer solo game and it was super enjoyable! I am happy to say that this and Ganz schön clever are neighbours in terms of quality!

A few weeks previous at Sessa spellenclub Jan and Raul joined me for some bribery.


"Gifts for progress"



"Plenty to see and do in China other than viewing temples"


China is too big to visit all at once so we enlightened three played twice in a night. This is the report of our second game. Oh grand book with wisdom (the rule book)! You truly are great and wise in advising us to set sail and seek the double headed servant. He has powers beyond his years and if you fail to seek him there lay other gifts, such as gifts used for bribery. Yes the three of us set sail many times seeking the gifts of efficiency. Fate had the emperor grant us decrees that allows us to place men on our ships each turn for free and score for each of our successful ventures. This appeal was too much for Raul, yet like all decrees you must send servants to enforce the decrees. To do anything in rural China you must bribe the official with a pretty gift. He will in return give you a lesser gift to give the facade of integrity. If you "bribe" with a lesser of same level gift you probably will donate some servants to make sure the official will perform the action. A popular decree was the trekking decree. Once activated, less servants are needed to go out on a longer trek. Both Jan and Raul trekked those mountains like they were going out of fashion! They scavenged bonuses and stopped us from using valuable officials. Raul had won the race to enlightenment as me and Jan crawled to a potential victory. It was all very balanced until Jan and Raul partly built the great wall of China. I had finished the great wall three times thanks to my double headed brother and was rewarded with the satisfaction for making the wall great. Jan was keen to get gifts that would reward his destiny and rewarded grandly he was. As the final night settled in I had secured victory thanks to securing both scoring decrees. Satisfaction had been bestowed upon us by the gaming guru who was based at the Palace of Heavenly Purity. It was just a shame that the Jade was out of fashion this time!


"Seek and you will find the Palace of Heavenly Purity"
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