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...students of Dorn...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 942. July 31, 2019. Lagos...

Today's beach?


Praia do Estudante.

...or yet another secluded beach, tucked away between Praia do Pinhão and Praia da Batata. Separated by the trademark cliffs that paint this region's dramatic scenery.

Was it any good? The children sure seemed to like it! In traditional low tide fashion, every time the ocean retreats, letting humans glimpse what's underneath, amazement is the prevalent feeling in anyone that stops to watch, for at least 60 seconds. The puddles of water in the rocks, covered with minute mollusks. The lettuce-like algae sheltering sea slugs. The bazillion sea shells with infinite colors.


Montana is not 60 seconds fast. But, as expected from a game coming from Rüdiger Dorn (Istanbul, Karuba, Las Vegas, Jambo), it's a fast euro of the finest family caliber! It was our pick for the afternoon. But we ended up having to postpone the finalé for later in the night since we started it too close to dinner time.

Like Dorn's other, more famous, titles, Montana is a race. Not for points, but for the first player to place all his settler's tiles. As a four-player game, each player has eight settlers to place on the variable board setup. Each hex on the board is a "recipe" for settling that you need to fulfill to place the tile. The ingredients are the overused iron, coal, wheat, and pumpkin resources. The mining parts can also be upgraded, for added recipe diversity. And how do you get resources in this game? Old fashioned worker placement style! And how do you get the workers?

By spinning the Wheel of Fortune! A mitigated fortune that never truly needs to be mitigated. At least with new players. Although you can, by paying wheat to advance the spinner one section per wheat. The wheel and the fact that workers (available in four different colors, as per the number of resources) are not yours once you use them, give Montana it's "something different" element that every game needs to compete these days.


They look like Caledonian's cows. But these are faster!

It wasn't enough to stand out by the look of it. When was the last time you heard/read about Montana? And did you now that there's an expansion (Goldrush) that gives the base game even more variability, without hindering it with superfluous moving parts?

I like Istanbul, as a near-perfect five-player 30-minute super-filler. I hope to one day exhaust all that Karuba has to offer when Alice is older. Las Vegas is an amazing gateway game for anyone who is old enough to... gamble! Montana's first impression falls smack in the middle of those games. Colorful and fun. Fast and engaging.

A keeper. Soon to be tested on game night, a survival of the strongest arena for board games!


One year ago: ...wanderlust mirage...


Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard

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Wed Aug 7, 2019 9:00 pm
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...the squared ball in midtown's lagoon...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 937. July 26, 2019. Lagos...

Today's beach? Praia do Alvor-Lagos

We weren't exactly aiming for this one. Praia do Vale da Lama, located in the easternmost point of the all-encompassing Meia Praia was supposed to be our morning destination. But we took longer than expected to arrive at the place, and once again, the satellite imagery didn't help. The narrow pathway connecting the dirt road to the beach, crossing a segment of the Ria de Alvor, a coastal lagoon, was cut off. It looks like Winter hit it with force.

So we left the bike on the dirt road and negotiated our way through not one but eventually two "holes" on the pathway. All to Alice's immense delight, experiencing an unforeseen morning adventure on our routine beach trip!

When the pathway was behind us, we found ourselves staring at a deserted beach facing the Ria. To our surprise, very much like one of our favorite beach in the whole world - and we're not alone in this assessment - Praia de Cacela Velha. It was getting late, Alice had had enough adventure through the unknown, so we literally tossed the towel to the sand and made our camp there.


Morning ride.


Bridge to Praia de Alvor-Lagos.

A very good morning.


Followed by a very good Lightning & Bolt session in the afternoon. This time there was more excitement than usual. Instead of an easy win, or a crushing defeat, the game's kid-driven luck, balanced itself to a fine line of rescuing a pair of civilians one at a time and facing Dr. Confusion in our next rescue attempt.

I was able to use Bolt's Heat track more to reroll dice, and drew more six driven upgrade cards to bolster its heroic capabilities! Lightning Alice fell under a full trouble meter at least two times, after a speedy fight with the DocBots and I had to crack Bolt's euro-brain to come up with a solution to save her!


Not enough bolts for Bolt.

But it wasn't enough. Dr. Confusion thwarted our final rescue attempt, stealing MidTown's safety in the last possible tile flip! Still, the best-unexpected game that as come our way this year.


We ended things with a Go Unicorn session using the Unicorn cards. For once it seemed that my lead in finding animals pairs was too much for Alice to catch. But while searching for fish animals, Lady Luck blessed her with the animals she was looking for, and an endgame "take the Unicorn instead, daddy!" spelled game over for me!


A unicorn still going strong.


Just to report a small foray into the other side of the geekland.

I played Pong for the first time today. Yes, that 1972 title, heralded by gaming historians as the game that launched the video game industry.


That squared ball that ripple the gaming pond!

A few days ago I stumbled on a list of video games. After a mere 10-second glance at some o the titles, a crazy mammoth-like and challenging idea sprouted inside of me. It's crazy and it's downright difficult. Which are two of the main actors I look for in challenges and journeys of exploration through the gaming land.

The 5-minute Pong session was surprisingly satisfying enough that I might just start that adventure soon after the vacations. To be continued...


One year ago: ...longing for warmer waters...


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Fri Aug 2, 2019 9:00 pm
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...hacking a rulebook...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 936. July 25, 2019. Lagos...

Thursdays are always a sort of a black spell days for games around here. The day after game night feels like a Monday after a refreshing weekend. When you have to come to grips with the desertic seven days without social interaction over games. To make matters worse, Thursdays are also the days when my better half has meetings that prolong well into the night, making it impossible for a game - any game - to serve as evening's entertainment.

So I never quite know what to solo play in the one hour between the kid going to bed and her father doing the same on Thursday nights.

Renegade has been on my mind lately. When arcade Gloomhaven ruled the table for a week, it had replaced an even longer table dominance from another Victory Point Games specimen. I had my belly filled with Dawn of the Zeds for little over two weeks a while back. Making me a firm devotee of all things VPG, past, and future. If I wasn't already, after playing the mashup between eurogaming and wargaming, Nemo's War.


Networking.

Unfortunately, I've already glanced Renegade's rulebook a few months ago. And I saw then no baby steps à lá Dawn of the Zeds, with its setups of escalating difficulty levels. Nor a rulebook riddled with examples and informative illustrations like Nemo's War. No. Renegade's glossary of game terms populate the rules with words like Contaminant types, Uplink, squared Propagators and circled Replicants, Sparks vs Flares, SMC and ACC, Partitions, Install, Hack Shack, Read-Only Memory and even - and this must be an inside joke or something - A Ticket to Ride!

Is it thematic? Absolutely! Arguably the most thematic rulebook I've ever come across*! I'm positive that even a sophomore student of Computer Science would immediately feel at home reading all this technical jargon! But what about the rest of the non-Computer Science gamers?


Help!

Ok, ok. It's Thursday night, I'm tired, and maybe part of the unfriendly rulebook appearance is unwarranted. I try to follow the setup steps and make those the gaming goal for tonight. At the very least I'll have the game ready for a trial run tomorrow.

But somewhere between Step 5, Going Renegade, point B, placing the Avatar standee on the Acess Point (the #6 partition) of the same-colored server (also referred to as the Home server) and Step 7, Renegade Intrusion, instructing me to receive as many Data Node (blue circles) tokens as empty Acess Points on the network, my mind went Hibernate on me!

Demoralized, I flipped the pages absentmindedly until I stumbled on page 24 with chapter 13.0. Walkthrough!

"Ok. ok. I can still do this," I thought, reaching out for a final whisp of focused mental energy to blindly follow Rupert Stanz. Ace Renegade First Class holding my hand and directing step by step the first three rounds of a pre-set game!

Even without understanding anything, I was still able to read, do as instructed and read about the why this and that happens. A lot didn't make sense at first, but some things started to coalesce near the end of the tutorial. After 20 minutes moving Tilda Sweet avatar around the server, I finally closed the rulebook and turned off the living room light.


I guess it won?

Maybe I should have brought Renegade's rulebook to the beach this morning! At least that outdoors and non-digital challenge of trying to visit as many different beaches as possible around the region is something we can understand. No rulebook needed!

Today's beach?


Praia de São Roque.


* Correction! That rank is currently held by BIOS: Genesis!

One year ago: ...goodbye martian philosopher...


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Thu Aug 1, 2019 9:00 pm
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...pirates of the skid row beach...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 932. July 21, 2019. Lagos...

I'd forgotten how much fun a breakfast gaming session could be. For a while about a year ago, my mini PnP version of Card City XL was always ready to go on the kitchen table. Sitting between the potted flowers and the jar of dried figs, for a chance - any chance! - to go alongside the morning coffee. Alice would sometimes watch me play, or simply toyed with the money tokens borrowed from Istanbul. Sometimes a follow up of Rory's Story Cubes was in order. Recently, a few pops of Heckmeck Junior before hitting the bike and heading to kindergarten.

This morning, however, I wanted to sip the coffee with a good dose of piracy, in a solo session of Port Royal. Not in story mode though, with The Adventure Begins. Just the plain One More Contract, trying to fulfill contracts as fast as possible and with as many cards on the victory pile as I could. This last part puzzled me because I couldn't remember - and the rules weren't clear - if I was supposed to score regular VP's, regular VP's + cards in the Victory Pile, or only tally the latter.*

Not one to stop the fun with a forum interlude or postpone the piracy for later in the day, Alice and I fell into our forgotten royal routine. She acting as the first mate and flipping the cards and me, the Captain, making up a story - heavily dramatized! - as we went along!


Smooth sailing.

The first set of contacts were of the traditional type. Collect a bunch of individuals and stay afloat money-wise for as long as possible. With a Time Pile of 15 cards, this wasn't so hard. After digging for the captain and the vice-admiral, and arranging things with the incoming ships, we won with four cards still left on the Time Pile.

Alice wanted a rematch. I was just too happy to oblige!


Pack of Pirates!

For the next session, I trimmed the Time Pile to a risky ten cards count. The three new contracts were all ship related and that meant that we should do business with as many swords for hire as we could get our hands on! But it wasn't until I fulfilled the first contract, that we had enough money to hire them.

The first one was the old sea dog of a pirate with his double swords! Off to a good start, we went on to hire standard sailors to bolster the ranks behind their pirate leader. Even if some turns ended in a bust, near the end I had the port under sword control. And was thus able to defeat the last two ships fulfilling the Pack of Pirates contract in the last possible round!

Man, this game is good.


And after middling with pirates it was time to middle with the sand in today's beach:


Praia da Batata.


Not having done a bike-about in a few weeks, and with the heat pressing down hard the last few days, I took it easy in the afternoon biking just as far as Burgau. I'd seen a couple of interesting items in a shop a few days ago and used those as an excuse to visit the small piscatorial village again, transformed into a picturesque tourist resort in the Summertime.

But I also used the trip to scout ahead some possible beaches to visit next week. I couldn't tell by the satellite imagery if they were accessible to a four-year-old or if the cliffs were too steep and too wild for even a grown-up to venture.


Praia dos Rebolos.

Too steep. Maybe in a few years when she's older, we'll reach it by swimming from the neighboring beach in Burgau.


Before I headed home, I went back inside the coffee shop from last Tuesday and cooled the body with an iced drink, and the mind with another run through Sprawlopolis. My first attempt at the 1-2-15 setup with the Skid Row being the novelty here. Get as many residentials next to as many industrial blocks as possible.

This means I'm at the very least, forgoing one of those type of blocks for the majority regular score in the end. If not both types of blocks!


Resting in skid row.

I thought I was making good urban planning up until the end when I summed up everything. It seems that 14 points worth of suburban trash isn't enough to win at this level! I lost by a single point, with seventeen.

Just one point shy of a perfect Sunday.

Thank you for reading.


* Solo mode in Just One More Contract = Only the Victory Pile matters.

One year ago: ...of dragons, spiders and pantry brawls...


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Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:00 pm
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...hidden treasures...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 929. July 18, 2019. Lagos...

Today's beach?


Praia do Pinhão...


...and neighboring hidden paradises.

Or to be more accurate, one of about four or five thrifty little secluded beaches. I expect that most wouldn't have pedestrian access in high tide, but in low tide, as it was the case this morning, they were all connected. Using the man-made back of the century tunnels, or by jumping through puddles on the rocks of the low tide, Praia do Pinhão felt more like an amusement park for Alice - and for me! - that a beach!

What amazed me is that this array of beaches is "hidden" between two of the most popular beaches in Lagos, Praia da D. Ana, and Praia da Batata. And we'd never even considered it before!

Even with the poor to none signaling for the area, the "hordes" of tourists soon made their appearance. Like us, they were exploring the low tide wonders of this region, and it didn't take long for the place to feel too crowded for us. But we've marked it in our minds alright! Come next low-season, in October/November, we'll plant a flag and conquer Praia do Pinhão, naming it our own private beach in the city!


Maybe it was due to the exploration and excitement of the morning. Soon after lunch, my neck was killing me and sitting or standing was an excruciating ordeal! Besides stretching exercises and small walks around the house, I spent most of the day resting the spine in bed. And reading, of course.

The latest gamebook in the collection is about the game design craft. Designing Games. A Guide to Engineering Experiences, by Tynan Sylvester.

I'm not going to talk about it, because I've only just scratched the first few pages. But I do want to share with you one of those pages. It rests between the preface and the first chapter, uncredited and unmarked. It almost seems like an error in the layout of the book! But it isn't. It's a one-page story, that I'm hoping it sums up what this book is all about. Here. Let me share it with you:

The Inventor had given them wonderful things - machines for grinding corn, for weaving cloth, and countless others. The townspeople loved him.

But he was getting old, and there was only time for one more invention. So he decided that his last work would be a special kind of machine. This one would not be for moving or heating or calculating, but for making happiness itself. The townspeople didn't understand, but they trusted him. He'd never let them down before. So the Inventor retreated into his castle and worked.

Years passed. At first, the townspeople waited patiently. Then they doubted. Then they became angry.

"Where is it?" they asked.

"It's taking too long."

"It's costing too much."

"He's tricking us."

"We must destroy him."

Just as the mob arrived at the castle, the gates opened and the Inventor came out. "It is accomplished!" he declared. The mob quieted for a moment and he led them inside.

But there was no great engine - only a roomful of tables littered with cards, booklets, and tiny pieces of wood. "Where is the machine?" asked the leader of the mob, readying his club. "Where is the machine of happiness?"

"It is here," said the Inventor, motioning to the dice, rulebooks, and game boards. "Have a seat, and let's play."



One year ago: ...neglected treasury of the undying...


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Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:00 pm
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...the rotting between two cities...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 927. July 16, 2019. Lagos...

Today's beach?


Praia do Burgau.



Whipped the speedy 18 card game for my first attempt at the 1-2-12 set up this morning, after the beach. The previous 1-2-11 challenge took over six sessions before I cracked the fourteen points goal! I'm hoping this one doesn't take that long, or this self-imposed mammothian challenge might lose some of its steam in the long run!

Still, with higher scores as targets, one or two exploratory sessions are to be expected I guess. The #12 card asks you to build the longest road. ...no matter how much I try to dispel the notion, these two words put together - longest road - will always bring Catan to mind!


Learning to build roads.

I scored 12 out of the 15 needed, so no win. But, my initial fears of making a mess of things, with no big groups of blocks and too many little roads plaguing the negatives, proved to be unfounded. It was easy to build a big road while preventing more or less the urban planning to revert to pure chaos!


With the day's long errands behind us, everyone found their own little corner in the house to recharge once we arrived home late in the afternoon. My little corner ended up being a Rotting Burrow leading into a Hovel's Den!

The second room, a hovel, was of the incendiary type. Both friends gained a permanently open flesh wound, that would leech a point of damage per turn if left unchecked! Luckily, both still had healing options available, so the situation was quickly resolved. There was still a Living Bones somewhere at the back of the Burrow when they began hacking and slashing their way through the Hovel. But the undead was of little concern really. At Level 1, they hit 1 damage. That means that half their draws from the monster deck will result in a mere superficial wound at best. That leaves a Living Spirit, with it's flying curses and icy arrows, and a slow Living Corpse. Since this latter is really sluggish, the main target is the Spirit, and I threw everything at him as soon as a new room was revealed!

This time, I tried to save the treasure chests - 2 damage on the monsters when opened - for maximum effect. This was done to great success against the Corpses and the Spirits. Less so against the Bones since they more often than not, heal themselves.


Ploughing trough the Hovel.


Cards and tiles make a #1 arcade mode.

I battled for an hour or so before finally ending things by killing the trailing Living Bones from the first room! That's it. My first victory in Gloomhaven's arcade mode! ...at level 0 mind you! Not once was I forced to discard cards to avoid exhaustion. And neither the Brute or the Tinkerer ever needed a long rest to recoup their health from the red line.

It was good that I've won.... but I found this Level 0 experience to be less intense and challenging than Level 1. To be continued...


But before I called it a day, I whipped those 18 cards again for another attempt at the Longest Road 15 points challenge.


Victory road to Gloomhaven.

Much better! I blew the score track with a 21 points result! Or was it 22? I can't find in the little rules booklet if I'm able to score a single Block when nothing bigger is available. I'll check the forums tomorrow and see you then. Thanks for reading.

One year ago: ...harsh bay...
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Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:00 pm
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...how do you log a gaming session...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 926. July 15, 2019. Lagos...

Sometimes I find it hard to differentiate between what's playing a game versus what's playing as if we're playing a game. Especially when a four-year-old is involved.

If we're just playing with the components, no rules attached, then in my geek mind, this is not a gaming session. But sometimes Alice "invents" make-belief rules, pretending we're actually playing a game... with a game!

Take this balancing game from the Lidl supermarket, aptly named, Balancespiel. We have rules for this one. I don't remember if we've lost them since, or if there were never any rules inside the box. I'm inclined to think the latter. As far as I remember, we used to play it by rolling two dices with colored faces, and we would pick one of them to stack a matching colored cylinder on top of the balancing turtle. And then... nothing!


The mysterious boring turtle.

No way of knowing who would win. No way of knowing what happens when someone drops the pieces. No way of knowing if this a cooperative game of trying to stack all the pieces at the same time!

When Alice asked for the turtle game this afternoon, to play under the aroma of daddy's freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee, the only thing we did was take turns stacking pieces ad infinitum! Occasionally she would invent something like, "place small cylinders first", or "the supply needs to be arranged by color" and that sort of things. The winner, the person who got bored first! ...I won!

So... would you log this as a gaming session? I logged an incomplete Balancespiel session.


Next up was yesterday's unexpected gift, Dragon Castle. As usual, if it's a game suitable for Alice to play with, I always ask her for help with the punchboards and the sorting of tiles. Obviously, she wanted to play with the game.

Tentatively, I did as she asked. I built a two-player castle, handed her a player board and told her that we would take turns picking identical tiles. Finding identical tiles was not a problem for her. Understanding that she could only choose the ones with a "long" side uncovered was not so immediate. After a few rounds of this, no more identical free "long" side tiles were available, so I gave her another option. Pick only one, plus a rooftop! It felt like a revelation for her! Never again would she even try to find identical tiles.


Learning to tame the dragon.

When four or more of the same colored tiles were grouped together, I would flip them, thus creating new grounds for laying a higher castle. Understandably, she was going for neatness on her player board, rather than color lumping! But by the end of this session, when she was running out of room to put more tiles, she tried to create groups. Unfortunately, this coincided with the ending of her excitement over a new game, so she proceeded to put the rooftops over her castle, no matter what.

We never talked about points, nor special powers, or even the other options available on a players turn. We took turns drafting pieces and placing them in our player boards until someone got bored first. ...she won!

So... would you log this as a gaming session? I logged an incomplete Dragon Castle session.


With the humongous Gloomhaven box residing on our living room table for over a week now, it's time to pack everything again and make room for other gaming travels. But not, until I score a victory with the Brute and the Tinkerer versus the Living Rotting Dead in arcade mode.

Last week's sessions at Level 1, resulted in near victories - or certain defeats, depending on your take on glasses half full! - so tonight I scaled things to Level 0. This still means I'm battling Level 1 foes mind you.


(yawning)... more bones.

I was also battling sleep at the same time I was battling Living Bones, so my main goal for tonight was to simply open the door to the second room, and finish the game tomorrow. I still find that 30 minutes per player written on the side of the box, to be the #1 lie in the board gaming world!

The corridor seemed deathly narrow, with little room for tactical maneuvering or pushing and luring foes into traps. I had to resort to good old hand to hand melee with the Brute, backed by the ranged contraptions and volleys from his little friend. I expected severe wounds on the Brute, but instead, the muscled barbarian-like character plowed trough the undead ranks as smooth as a knife through butter!

Either I was lucky... or I'm finally understanding how to efficiently use these two characters... or this easiness is nothing but the result of scaling back a level. I couldn't figure it out. I was too tired and fell asleep a second before I hit the bed. Tomorrow I'll end the Rotting arcade scenario.

So... would you log this as a gaming session. I didn't!

If a single game session stretches over many days, I log it the day the game is over. At least, when a clear "game over" factor is discernable. This is not a problem in eurogame-type sessions, but can sometimes be a fuzzy line when it comes to gamebooks or solo RPGs campaigns. For me, Four Against Darkness falls in those murky waters, so I tend to log it by 30-minute sessions. Since that's the amount of time I'm at the table playing 4AD. Usually, a single dungeon last about four or five 30 minute sessions.

What about you? How do you log your gaming sessions?


Summer vacations have finally started for Alice, meaning I'm joining the ranks of the millions of parents who, for the next few months, have to find a way to keep their children active and happy, as much in the outdoors as possible.

So we've challenged ourselves this year, to never visit the same beach twice for as long as possible! Apologies in advance if for the next few weeks, I'll end many of the posts with a beach view. It's out of context, I know. But life isn't just about recording game's session, right? You can also log and gamify the outdoors!


Today's beach? Praia da D. Ana.



One year ago: ...the illusion of freedom...


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Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:00 pm
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...the town over the hill...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 911. June 30, 2019. Lagos...


See the opportunities for adventures, not the constraints that get in the way.

Alastair Humphreys, Microadventures

Next week, Até à Lua will re-visit Aljezur and its children, as part of their Summer break activities. Amidst, beach time, kart races, zoo strolls and all sort of artistic activities, the shop will also supplement their entertainment with good old board games. And just like last year (here, here, here and here), I'm tagging along as part of the team. For a few days, I'll proudly dress the role of Board Game Teacher.

But before any of that starts, I'm using the upcoming gaming expeditions to Aljezur as an excuse to scout the terrain ahead of time. So in good Sunday bike-about ritual this afternoon, I biked to Aljezur after a year's absence.


Endless road.


Constant companion.

The old Northwestern winds were still lively and strong as always. Still trying to put me down after every pedal stroke. But not today! Today I was pumped full of morning beach and a Summer-like lunch of fresh salad and grilled fish! No Gods of Wind could match those kinds of fuel!


Now...


...then.


Pleasant bridge.

It still took me two and a half hours to climb those steep hills and coast the last few miles to Aljezur. And by the time I left the saddle and leaned the trusty bike under a tree, near a café, I was pressed for time to get back to the pedal again and make it home before dinner time!

Pressed for time... but still time enough for a game of Sprawlopolis along with my first ice cream of the year!


Pleasant town.

My second attempt at the 1-2-11 setup was even worse than the first, achieving nothing but a 9 point score out of the 14 needed to win. I guess I was more focused on the ice cream than the game.



Rusty water mill contraption.


Old sight of home.


New sight of home.

The return trip was as good as only a bike trip can be! Sugar rushed, endorphin pumped, wind on my back and earbuds with Festival as the soundtrack for one of the best bike-about this month!





One year ago: ...Ronaldo's trip to the junkyard...


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Sun Jul 7, 2019 9:00 pm
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...geek-about...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 897. June 16, 2019. Lagos...

In what's fast becoming a favorite ritual for Sunday afternoons while the ladies sleep, I embarked in another bike-about around Lagos. To boldly go where no man I haven't gone before! Well... sort of. I aimed West this time, with the endgame goal of reaching Sagres, if wind permitted. But perfectly satisfied if I only made it to kilometer 0 of the famed N125 road, that traverses the Algarve from West to East.

I say if wind permitted, because several years ago, in another life, we biked to Sagres to see one of the famous "endpoints" of the main European continent. The other being Nordkapp* in Norway. Everything was fine pedaling to Sagres and we took the obligatory pic when we go there, happy as we could ever be. The thing with continental points and end of the roads is that inevitably, you have to turn back if you want to leave. And leaving Sagres, on a bike, facing the constant brutal winds blowing from the NorthWest requires, if not iron strong legs, then at least steadfast determination! It was one of the hardest 10km I've ever pedaled!

Remembering this today, I reached Vila do Bispo, planted the flag there and call it a day. The wind was as strong as I remembered it. Ate cookies and drank juices to refueled the journey home. No chance for a game outdoors while resting. Even here, with no sea in sight, the Northern winds wouldn't allow it.

Instead, I strolled through the semi-deserted small village (it is Sunday after all), took some pics and made my way home.


Entering the national park.


Plate house.


Vila do Bispo.


Wind is an integral part of the scenery here.


Wild horses.


Land of the Goose Barnacle.

A good bike-about.


As for geek-about in the geekland the past week, I've stumbled upon some noteworthy games that I would like to share with you.

In the card laying land, I heard Delia asking for comparisons between Hokkaido, Vadora Gardens and Samurai Gardener. In her question, I found something new to me. Never realized that Vadora Gardens and Samurai Gardener fell in that genre despite having heard about both. A genre that I've come to appreciate since Aquaducts, Limes, Honshū...

What sets Vadora Gardens apart is that you're not allowed to rotate the cards and you're limited by the number of rows where you're allowed to build. Turning the endgame result in something like a horizontal sprawling garden.

Samurai Gardener is very simple when it comes to the strategic card laying scoring part. Like Honshū/Hokkaido. But (and it's a big one here), there's an element of dexterous speed when it comes to picking the cards on the display to add to your gardens. The first one to "slap" the card on the table gets to keep it! No for me, even if it's an interesting solution for what's a common problem in the genre: AP.

And there was title suggested on the thread: The Hanging Gardens. An oldie this one, coming from 2008. It's still the same "game" as all the others, with the novelty here being the race for the set collecting scoring tiles above the drafting row of cards.


Tile laying gardeners.

I would put all on my watch list, save for one little thing. No solo! I rarely manage to play Honshū or Limes with more people, so more games like those would suffer from the same malady.


From morning listening to the Blue Peg, Pink Peg podcast, came a Russian game from 2017. Space Explorers, from the designer of well-known Viceroy, Yuri Zhuravljov. It looks a lot like Splendor (which I like), but with gorgeous late 50's real space race art style. It slightly steps up the complexity, making it a gamer's version of Splendor. Only in this space version, there's a solo option.


There's splendor in his eyes.

I wonder what a good Splendor-like solo game would look like?


From Renegade's newsletter, came an RPGesque game called Icarus. They're calling it a Macro-RPG since there's no GM, and player collectively contribute to a world-building scenario, that tells the story of a rising civilization and its later downfall.

There are some dice, that everyone needs to stack in the center, making a dice tower grow and grow until it falls, signaling the end of the civilization, and thus the end of the game. Interesting. No winners. No losers. Just stacking dice, a few cards and lot's of story.


Tumbling the RPG tower.


I ended the geek-about with a finding on the BGG feed. Clank! Expeditions: Temple of the Ape Lords is the second small expansion to Clank! By the look of it, and if it falls in the same genre as the previous Clank! Expeditions (Gold and Silk) it adds a new board and a few more rules. No new cards, which for me right now, it's the way to go with Clank!


More Clank, more ape fun.

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.


* Curiously enough, both capes are connected by a bike route. The Atlantic Coast Route (EuroVelo #1)

One year ago: ...dark travels and animal trades...


Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
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Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:00 pm
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...mountain of tourists...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 890. June 9, 2019. Lagos...


Life can deal you an amazing hand. Do you play it steady, bluff like crazy or go all in?

Joe Simpson, Touching the Void.



Not a bad way to start a Sunday, hum?

Alice and I decided to put to use the unusually early wake-up hour (for a Sunday) by trying to be the first to arrive at the beach. After a 10-minute bike ride and a 10-minute cross on the wooden stairs down to beach level, we discovered that we were not the first there after all.

A young couple was waking up after a rough sleepover in the open last night, and an elderly couple already half-way in their beach routine by the looks of it. The man gaining courage by timidly tip-toeing his way into the night chilled water. The woman deep inside the literary world of her book. But we were the first to the other beach, accessible only by a man-made tunnel through cliffs. Bliss...

Sun warming us from the East, cliffs tall enough to shield us from the cold northwestern winds that are blowing around Lagos the last few days. Tide slowly receding. Bliss...

For 10 minutes at least. Then the hordes of tourists arrived. Slow but surely as the tide, carrying towels and bags full of technology. Smartphones, digital cameras, GoPro's, bastons, Bluetooth speakers, drones!


View from the peak.

We stayed for a while longer before leaving. Our premium location quickly occupied by ravenous interlopers looking for their special moment under the Summer-like Sun.


Summer was also the time of year I chose to climb the K2 mountain late at night. A 30-minute attack on the mountain's summit from the south side, before attacking the bed, seemed like a good way to end the day.

K2 it's not a push your luck game, but it sure feels like one. How long and how hard can you push your climbers before one of them dies? Because if in the multiplayer game, you can "game" around the risk tokens, with an informed decision on what's more likely so and so is going to play, in the solo game, there's no such thing. You have to pick and use a risk token every round no matter what! Sometimes you'll have a 2, a 1 and a 0 revealed and plenty of options to consider. Sometimes you're faced with triple 2's! and you have a hard climbing day ahead!


Rough tokens and dead climbers.

Both climbers went side by side for as long as possible. I made sure of that. The plan was to take advantage of each other's tent, further along and higher in the mountain. A quick glance at the possible routes separates them in the hardest, but shortest, East route and the longest, but easiest West route.

I picked East... I picked wrong!

The "expensive" East route is not just a hard place to climb, but also a hard place to pitch tents! Not only that but above the 7000-meter line, only one climber is permitted per location. Thus trying to move past each other as not to stop in the same place is even more difficult in the East route. I wasted a whole lot of cards maneuvering them up and down, juggling oxygen levels and weather storms before both climbers finally moved out of each other's way!

One made it almost past the 8000-meter line, before being forced to come down and shelter in the tent. A storm was coming and his oxygen bottle as near empty!. The climb was over him. Beaten, he made his way down below the 6000-meter. Safe heights. The other climber did make it to the summit! Taking advantage of Summer's merciful weather tiles, he reached the top, snapped the obligatory picture and started on his way down, when disaster struck! Three 2's risk tokens too chose from and not a good hand of cards to mitigate them.

Dead... A tourist, 7 VP worthy attempt.





Two more! Fourteen to go on the Paper of Shame project!


One year ago: ...rabbit's birthday...


Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
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Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:00 pm
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