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...a chink in marco's greedy nature...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 943. August 1, 2019. Lagos...

In our final day as board game teachers for Aljezur's Summertime kids, we were tasked to work with the same group of kids we'd met a few weeks ago. My favorite crowd, the 6's and 7's.

Back then there weren't that many kids to begin with, which allowed us three teachers to devote full attention to a single group each. The afternoon went smoothly and quietly, and everyone had fun in both playing games and teaching them.

Later we learned that this group was, in fact, bigger. A recent bout of summertime virus had knocked out at least half of them back to bed and their restorative homes.

Today though, no one was sick. They sprinted as fast as their little legs would allow, towards us! A tsunami of rushing children, as soon as games showed up on the horizon! Screaming all the way through, they drowned us in a sea of endless kid frenzy!


Dead seas.

No game was enough to tame them! They jumped from table to table in a fleeting random manner, as their eyes spotted an opening in a coveted game, or some flash of new colored component dawned, to peak their bird-like interests!

It was hard to keep up with them. Party games like Headbanz and Spot It only served to keep a big group busy - for 5 minutes! - while the grown-ups tried to anchor the rest in longer, more focused, gameplays

Labyrinth worked as long as a grown-up was tutoring the players. By Golly! was as good as the teacher driving the poo jokes to keep them engaged!

Nevermind Carcassonne Junior, Katamino and Brix! The later was never played beyond a dexterous stacking of some block blue-orange tower!


Laborious crowd.

Spaghetti's prime time was in a two-player session between a grown-up and an older kid. And the only game that was able to keep four of them occupied at the time, without adult supervision, was their trusty old-time acquaintance, Chicken Cha Cha Cha!


Winning chickens.

In spite of a chaotic afternoon, as we left, I couldn't help myself and feel a small "I'll miss them" chink in the heart. With a little luck, I'll only see them again next year. Now that I was starting to get to know them. A few more sessions and I would be able to pinpoint exactly each kid's favorite genre, steering them through the vast board gaming waters of endless titles that exist.

Just like I do with my own daughter.


When I arrived home, I was surprised to find the place empty, save for Sérgio. Our own batch of kids had gone on a walkabout to the city's various playgrounds. A two-player game of something with more meat to the bones that Chicken Cha Cha Cha was in order!


You greedy wizard!

We draft-dueled over a session of Roll Player. Sérgio, a Renegade Human Wizard with a backstory of persecution, that appeared to had gotten a taste for the gold coins during his time as an oppressed magician! Gold dice were drawn to him like a moth to a magical light, and when a Greedy trait showed up at the market, he was more than ready to buy it!

I was dealt a Halfling Barbarian, with a Maniac Devotion to all things leather! Despite his barbaric nature, he was very weak in strength, so it was with no surprise that no once he weighted himself with any sort of weapons! He was, however, nimble in the art of Climbing, even if he never used it, and quite a Diplomatic fellow, to Sérgio's increasing nervousness!


For our last game this week, we dived into the world of Marco Polo. A favorite of Sérgio and Susana, a new game for Ana, and a euro-blandness to my personal tastes. Don't get me wrong here.

This game is rock solid and I'll play it any time, as long as it is within a family context, where it's ok if I pursue other... less competitive goals! It's just that I can't help and shake that nasty "just another euro in the same overdone euro art style" feeling.


Looking for other euro-waters.

I couldn't care less about my secret goals tonight. My real goal was to travel from Venice to Sumatra, through the Indian Ocean, along a very expensive coast. Only after would I try and complete the secretive cards, if I'd still had time. My assistant in this journey was a first picked Fratre Nicolao with his extra bonus tiles every single round of the game!

I was able to use his pious bonus to great effect in several combo-fantastic moves that left everyone's jaws wide open! At one time, Susana even asked how I was doing so much stuff if the round hadn't even started and I was already docking in Sumatra's harbors!


Travelers of the silk road.

I didn't win. I ended up last in fact. But I was able to flip what would otherwise be a boring euro night for me, into a traveling challenge through the southern seas. In that regard, I came up first!

Thank you for reading.


One year ago: ...four barbarians walk into a bar...


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Thu Aug 8, 2019 9:00 pm
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...raiders of the speed kingdom...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 941. July 30, 2019. Lagos...

Busy day.

From morning meetings to an afternoon of teaching games in Aljezur, today I wasn't able to play games with the Sérgio, Susana, and kids. Not even at night, once all the children were in bed, all I could think of was of going to sleep too!

There was a moment though, during a pit stop at home for lunch, that I was lucky enough to see a game from our collection getting real table time for the first time! Rampage only sees the light of day around here when Alice wants to play with the dragons. I'm happy that someone gets to actually throw them against the buildings and blow their destructive powerful winds over Meeple City!


House of dragons!


In Aljezur, things went abnormally quite with this group of fifteen kids, ages ranging between 8 and 10 years old. Some of the kids were "repeaters" and many of those were of the nefarious energetic kind! The kind of kids that infects others with their unwillingness to take part in any sort of organized activity!

This time, however, they did a 180º on us, and not only behaved but excelled in games!


Today's clients.

We brought a few "newer" games this time. Super 5 as a more advanced version of UNO, and a BrainBox trivia game with a memory element. Stare at a picture for 10 seconds and then answer questions about it to score. Easy. Unfortunately, some of the kids still showed difficulties in reading, so the game dragged longer than it was supposed to. Super 5 too didn't make a significant impact on them. Maybe they've had enough of UNO in the beach every single morning for the past month!


Super Brains!

As long as a grown-up was supervising Kingdomino, particularly the first time scoring happens, the game was a hit. Leave the gamer domino to its own device and pretty soon, the 5x5 grid becomes a distorted sprawling 7x10 kingdom! Some kids got the scoring as soon as I explained them and were able to move on to drafting strategies. Others couldn't even visualize the 5x5 grid every time they had to place a tile, let alone do the scoring math!


Kingdom denizens.

Same went for Dungeon Raiders, but with slightly better results. The first time Nuno taught it to a five-player group, he had to stay with them throughout the gameplay. Too many moving parts for them. But they were all engaged in the game! Even the kids watching on the sidelines, who hadn't found a place to play and didn't want to play anything else. When the first group was over, three kids from the audience managed to dungeon crawl all by themselves!


Dungeon monsters.

The more I see this game from Phil Walker-Harding (Gizmos, Bärenpark, Sushi Go!) the more I want to add it to our own collection. On the plus side, the game's latest edition has undergone significant changes, making it even more streamlined in both setup and in gameplay. On the downsize, it's a 3 to 5 game... One can only hope I guess.


After the break, most of the groups relaxed with speed party games such as Happy Salmon, Ghost Blitz, Pit, and Jungle Speed. Always good games to unwind after the brain taxing, for them, Kingdomino and Dungeon Raiders.


Relaxing with speed.


Love this.

If only all the groups assigned to us were as willing to participate in games as this one.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow same time, yes?


One year ago: ...Jimmy's windows...


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Tue Aug 6, 2019 9:00 pm
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...family gaming...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 940. July 29, 2019. Lagos...

Our family from the north arrived in the dead of night yesterday. So this morning, the house woke up and shook with the presence of six more souls, four of which still in the age of the single digits! There will be no shortage of gamers to play with this week. Quite the opposite actually! Now we have too many gamers to please and challenge their young and eager brains!

Before the kids exhausted their non-board plays, Sérgio and I sneaked by a session of Fantasy Realms. This little filler is currently a hot title on my mind and I'll grab any opportunity to teach it. For Sérgio, it was a journey of discovery, trying to grasp all possible combos and grueling over which cards to discard each turn. For me, it was another chance to try new card pairings and predict what my opponent was aiming for.

Good fun. The scores ended with 171-157. A fourteen-point difference that in Fantasy Realms indicates that both players were equally matched.


It didn't take long though for the four kids to exhaust all the toys in Alice's room and invade the living room looking for games to play! An adult was needed as a sacrifice to appease the little energizer bunnies wrath! I was the one sitting at the table when they entered, and before I could escape, they surrounded me from all sides demanding a game!

We ended up playing three different games. A 9-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 40-year-old kid raced on Spooky Stair's tower. Then they entered the shifting magic Labyrinth, before heading outside the castle walls to spot a Bear Over the Mountain!


Taming the cubs in the maze.

Spooky Stairs is a well know game to us all. The 9-year-old girl endured a play of it, but no more, while the younger kids would have happily played it a few more times. As it was, a single session of misplaced kids running around the castle, hidden under ghost sheets, was good enough! We all lost track of each other's kids and laughter ensued all the way to the finish line!

The mountain Bear ended up as a flop. With four players, the rules state that you should reveal eleven scoring cards! That's almost all them, meaning that every single animal and animal group is a scoring path. So there's no real agency in the game as picking one card over another in the drafting row yields the same thing! The kids aimed their picks at their favorite animals and the path of ten cards each took way too long to be over! If I ever play it with that many players, I'll try to remember and reduce the number of scoring cards.

Junior Labyrinth was the clear winner in the afternoon. The 5 and 9-year-old were new to the shifting tile mechanic in games so they sucked this thing like a sponge! The labyrinth started off in an aggressively random setup that prevented any of us to move the ghost pieces for more than a tile or two at best, per turn.

As the game progressed, the corridors started to connect with each other. Prizes were swept more rapidly and all I could do was lament that I still hadn't crafted the missing treasure tokens so that the game could last longer!


Before dinner, Sérgio and Susana were introduced to the push your luck wonders of Clank!, racing for loot in the dangerous Depths!

Unfortunately, the Dragon rarely made an appearance. For the first time, I could see how much this game depends on the winged beast to keep players on their toes. Instead of a push your luck pressure we experienced a mere deck building for points, the dragon bag seldom making a show.


Too easy? No fun!


As the night grew longer and all the kids were in bed, a more euro-like proper game was in need to close the day. Nothing that would take too long though, because tomorrow would be another long day surround by kids from all sides!

I suggested Imperial Settlers, thinking that only Sérgio and I would end up playing. As a two-player game, Imperial Settlers excels in the card-driven engine building family. When Susana stated that she also wanted to play, my worry meter didn't twitch. We're all seasoned players, and a three-player match up wouldn't take that much longer.

But when Ana entered the living room amid the rules teaching and asked to play too, well... then I had to warn everyone about one of the game's main drawbacks. Downtime between turns in a four-player game, especially if someone tended to APing! Luckily, we were all as eager to play as we were to finish the day. With that motivation and me gently pressing everyone to play fast, we ended the game in little more than one hour to my surprise!

Sérgio grabbed a killer combo early with his Roman legionnaires and a point yielding Feature card for every Red card played! After the second round, he was clearly the faction to beat! A few raids later from the rest of us and his score tracker was back with the pack!


Night settlers.

Then we turned our swords to the most profitable and unguarded faction, the Japanese! Ana had been warned beforehand, that playing with the Japanese was no cherry tree. She neglected to deploy Samurais over her cards and her proto-engine ended up like that until the end. A proto-dead-engine. She did score 10 points our of a single Shrine card though!

Susana and her Barbarians struggled to find an efficient path to score and dump the many workers she generated each round, so the game's final rounds ended up as a race between my Egyptians and Sérgio's struggling, but resilient, Romans.

It was a good session of a long-overdue favorite game of mine.

Six games played today! Will I top that tomorrow?


One year ago: ...commuting to vacation...


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Mon Aug 5, 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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...a microcosm of martian realms...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 935. July 24, 2019. Lagos...

Nuno was way too tired from playing with Summertime kids all day, for anything more taxing than a Happy Salmon, Pit or even his night's closure, Jaipur. For him, it would be small easy games or none at all tonight.

So he missed the long-overdue play at the shop of Terraforming Mars. A four-player space endeavor, between Nuno U., Hugo, Edgar and me. Once again, the holy grail playthrough of TM with five players escapes me! One day. One day...

Both me and Nuno U. were the ones with "the shakes" after so much time without playing our favorite game. It was Edgar's first visit to Mars and Hugo is known to take his time during the Action Phase. So it wasn't such a bad thing that we didn't add a fifth player to this group. I'm sure Mars would have overstayed its welcome then.


Mars... the great equalizer of terraforming skills.

While waiting for Edgar to arrive, we prepared all the corporations, Prelude cards and the four piles of project cards, so that we could get that part of setup done ahead. Edgar would start with a Beginner's Corporation card, 42 Megacredits, and the full ten project cards without having to pay for them. And a jumpstart on his player board, 1 in each of the six production tracks.

To the game's undeniable credit, this sort of scaling and balance in the setup to accommodate experienced players and complete newbs actually works. Edgar's score cube lead from Generation 1 and stayed there until the endgame scoring. Sometimes with more than fifteen points difference! Instead of being a small fish in a shark's pond, Edgar proved himself a worthy and nearly unbeatable opponent! Sure, he made some bad judgment calls about the timing on project cards. And the Awards and Milestone's nuances eluded him, despite placing his red cube on the 35 Terraforming Rating Milestone. But the setup modifications more than buffered his inexperience. Excellent!

In the end, both he and Nuno U. tied for second place and I won by just two more points! Such a close result is a near "perfect" tie in my book.

Edgar still prefers his miniature gaming and would pick Gaslands over TM without batting an eye! Does he know that the dystopian car race was caused by Martian invaders?


Before terraforming the red planet, Nuno and I played a series of small filler games. The first, is a game that came to my attention in David Luchetti's blog, All the gamez! David used to blog fairly regularly and Eminent Domain: Microcosm was one of his favorite games. It soon made an entry on my radar and a few trades later, I little deck of 34 cards found it's placed to the shelves.

It stayed there until now. Predicting a sci-fi thematic night, I brought along the unplayed games from last week TM, Race for the Galaxy, Jump Drive, and Eminent Domain: Microcosm


Funky Domain.

It was... weird. At least at first. The minimalist rulebook pamphlet leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to clearing doubts. And it sucks stopping a playthrough to clear things up in the forums for a ten-minute game! Like where do revealed planets go, if you're unable to conquer them through warfare cards? What's the difference between a colony, a spoil or a face down planet card?

Nonetheless, I pushed for a second game as soon as the learning first was done. This time I had a better appreciation about what I was aiming for when picking cards from the supply and started to glimpse small combo possibilities between them. Nuno wasn't convinced though.

I'll try to check the rules and forums in the next few days and perhaps try ED:M again. Despite its weirdness, it still plays in ten minutes.


As for Fantasy Realms... well. This game rocks! Even with it's sexualized/feminism blunder. A three-way realm between Nuno, Hugo and me, revealed that we're all getting better about what's possible and what's not. How long can you chance to delay the endgame versus rushing things up by digging through the deck in search of the perfect combo!


Rock solid Realm.

Nuno made a mistake by setting a Rainstorm over his Wildfire and Fire Elemental, blanking them as null. Hugo mysteriously threw away the Enchantress, the only Wizard available and able to tame the Dragon in his hand! And I sneaked a win with War Dirigible, piloted by a Warlord and crewed by a squad of Light Cavalry. An air vessel carrying precious passengers. The Princess and her wizard companion, The Collector.

Can't beat Fantasy Realms! The suggestion of a Pit-like experience with the variant Chaos Realms, that plays up to seven players, is starring to feel less of a far-fetched dream after every weeknight.

Thank you for reading. Tomorrow? Same time?


One year ago: ...HMS Pioneer...


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Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:00 pm
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...trouble in the realm...

Alexandre Correia
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Lagos
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Day 934. July 23, 2019. Lagos...

A few days ago, our four-year-old surprised us after waking up from her nap at the same time we were finishing the two-player game, Fantasy Realms. We both went through a few more rounds of card-discard moves, accompanied by poker faces to hide any hint about the state of each other's combo-fantastic seven-card realms.

Our daughter, however, doesn't know about poker faces yet. As soon as she noticed the drawings in one of the cards, her immediate response was.

"Look! The princess has boobies."

As parents, we frowned at this previously unnoticed piece of highly sexualized art. But not ones to let her focus linger on unneeded details for a four-year-old, I quickly showed Alice the Dragon... and the accompanying Knights.

"Look! They have boobies too!"


The women in the Realms.

The game ended a turn later and we immediately started to inspect every single card for particular prominent artistic details that a young child could notice. Sure enough, most of the women depicted - even feminine elemental beings! - had a striking fully developed upper torso.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the only gender issue we would find with arguably one of the best filler games to come our way in recent times.


A few days later, we played it again. I was aiming for a full six-card sequence to score a whopping 150 points out of the Gem of Order card alone! While teasing my opponent that this game was in the bag and there was no way she could win. Alongside the Gem of Order, the manly Earth Elemental was feeding on three other lands, potentially four if I could grab the Mirage card with its 0 value Base Strength. It would suit perfectly for the full six-card sequence I was planning!

Ana, who'd been otherwise silent and undisturbed at every single teasing from the other side of the sofa, would have none of it. She triggered the end game on her turn and stopped me from achieving the perfect Gem of Order.

"No problem," I thought. "100 points it's still very good."

It was. But it was nowhere near enough to beat Ana's even better and unlikely combo. The King, The Queen, The Princess, and her favorite magical stallion, the Unicorn! I scored a very respectable 186 points, while she won with an intimidating 225 points!

And it was then, as we both watched each other's cards and combos and what was still left on the deck, that I noticed something odd. Both the King and the Queen have exactly the same Bonus abilities. Both feeding on each other's presence when together in the same hand. But while the King's Base Strength was worth 8 points, the Queen's was only 6!

Why the two-point difference then?


An unbalanced marriage.

Why in today's age of gender equality and viral #MeToo hashtags do game companies still value women two points less than man? Fantasy Realms was released in 2017!?! Maybe WizKids and their fantasy-themed games have yet to catch up? Maybe they aren't aware about one of the best fantasy stories of all time, Game of Thrones, and their dominant female characters, Denaris, Cersei, and Arya. Just to name the strongest three from a list two digits long!

C'mon WizKids. Don't get medieval on your gaming themes and don't neglect your audience's awareness about them.


One year ago: ...revisiting Aljezur...


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Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:00 pm
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...seventeen again...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 933. July 22, 2019. Lagos...

Not a lot of time for games today. Between house errands, outside errands, digital errands, and literature errands, time crept away unnoticed. Of course, the fact that the Summer's REAL heat as finally arrived also played a big part in this. You don't dare do things in a hurry when stifling solar radiation subdues every single breath you take!


Pretty solar radiation.

So it was back to Sprawlopolis when I was looking for entertainment to fill a fifteen-minute waiting period. It seems that these sort of microgames are the lifesavers for daily bloggers around these parts. I've certainly used a microgame or two to fuel some content into the blogging flame.


I need a bigger town.

Once more, I didn't invest enough cards for the #15 scoring goal, that asks you to place a residential bordering at least two industrial. And I'm starting to notice, that I tend to force the overlapping of cards as much a possible, and that probably isn't the right approach.

With Orchard and Honshū, overlapping is a pre-requisite for a legal card laying, so maybe this is a "bad habit" I need to lose to master Sprawlopolis. But, overlapping allows you to keep the number of roads low. Decisions, decisions...

Balance. Like any good game, balance is the key.

But for now, I'm back at seventeen points again.


One year ago: ...out for a ride...


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Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:00 pm
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...pirates of the skid row beach...

Alexandre Correia
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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...


Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
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Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:00 pm
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...friday night pirates and library cities...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 930. July 19, 2019. Lagos...

"You want to play a game?" she asks.

"Sure. But I'm tired. Can it be a short one? ...Fantasy Realms?" I say.

"No," and her eyes start gazing towards the next usual suspect for short games to play on a weeknight, Sagrada. She was about to reach for the box, when she noticed a row of small box games, sharing the same blue piracy feel. Recently, I've changed the layout of the games on the shelves. If nothing else it gives me an excuse to dust them! But in this case, the shelves urgently needed a drastic shift in their organizational layout. Everything was a mess, with books, files and game boxes, and infinite PnP material!


The pirate's cove.

The fresh look on the shelves always results in moments like: "Oh! We have this game! I'd forgotten all about it!" This, added with the success of Port Royal: Unterwegs! on my recent trip to the East must have re-kindled my wife's interest for Pfister's take on the push your luck genre.

"Let's play Port Royal!" she stated in a definitive tone.

Once a favorite of mine as a quick solo fix, I might as well bring it back into the lonesome rotation. If I recall correctly, I felt burned after last year's relentless attempts to win Chapter 3 in the Adventure Begins expansion. But I also remember that before that quasi-legacy campaign expansion dominated Port Royal, I was having a blast with the solo vanilla of the first expansion, Just One More Contract!


A pirate's gambling night.

Tonight's single sailing around pirate town was marked by the best crew I've ever recruited! The Jester made quick work on Ana's bust moves or when she revealed a single card, leaving me none after the plunder. The fellowship of four different colored merchants always made sure that my treasure chest was full. And finally, I used and abused the Gambler to great efficiency. Sure the first few uses of the guy ended in a bust. But I kept pushing him and eventually, the odds shifted my way. As soon as a boat was discovered, I ordered him to gamble the next four!

Ana grabbed a 6 VP expedition, but I was taking almost a point a turn. On my active turn and on her's as well! It didn't take long to win and end the game. I'm leaving it on the table, but before I do, I shuffled the Just One More Contract cards. Tomorrow, the pirate's sail again!


As for today's beach... there was none. A meeting scheduled for a strange pre-lunch hour made minced meat of Alice and mines vacation plans. Instead, we stopped by the library and while she searched for new literature, I built cities.


Sprawling efforts at the library.

Two plays of Sprawlopolis, two victories! Setups 1-2-13 and 1-2-14 are in the bag and that's two more steps towards completing the first leg of the 1-X-X journey.

I was a little afraid about the 14 scoring card, since making loops is not that easy if you're also trying to keep parks in the open for the Bloom Boom #2 card. I built a small loop early and then aimed the card laying towards the traditional block scoring and short roads.

I was very close to finishing a giant loop around the first one, that would surely spell certain victory. Alas, it was not possible no matter how many different permutations I tried with the last three cards. In fact, the last two cards were superimposed completely on top of others, not moving the points needle in the slightest! It was only at the end when I was tallying the points for the #14 card that I noticed that I score points per road section in the loop, not per loop! A squeaky win, two points above the targeted 17.

Moving on to the 1-2-15... Tomorrow maybe.


One year ago: ...hobo masters...


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Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:00 pm
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...a divorce over the realm and the castle...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
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Day 928. July 17, 2019. Lagos...

You know Summer as arrived when more tables are needed to serve all the gamers, coming from all corners of Portugal, in at Até à Lua's game nights


Full moon.

When Nuno and I started our game of KUNE v LAKIA, it was just the two of us at the shop. But it didn't take long before Joana, a companion in last year's weird foray into Ascended, entered, along with her son and friends. Pretty soon, Kosmonauts was on their table and son after, King of Tokyo. This time under a Hugo's rules lawyering eye that's always willing to play anything with anyone.

The touched by Sanders, anthropomorphically two-player only deckbuilding game about a divorce, went better than I was expecting. I was never drawn to it before and I blame the not-in-hotness=not-good syndrome that so many of us suffer these days. It's quite a gem of a little game. The art is really cute and serves the setting well. The are plenty of opportunities for satisfying combos. And there's a little back and forth trying to influence as many of the five counselors as possible before the game ends.

It took me a while to realize that the more cards you buy, the better your options, and more importantly, the more points you'll have in the end. My initial aim of trying to streamlining the deck into an opponent's discarding nightmare was of no use here.


Kune lost, but was impressed.


We followed it with a three-player game of Fantasy Realms. I have already played it with Ana once before, and as two players little games go, we both enjoyed it. A lot! Complete immersion in the endless combombastic permutations, coming from a mere draw and discard turn and seven cards in hand! At the time, the scoring felt a little daunting. This time though, Hugo installed the scoring app for Fantasy Realms and let me tell you: it makes the game even better!

As Nuno said, it can be quite mathy near the end, when the table is full of discarded cards. But the game goes by so fast, that it's never an issue. Especially with the scoring app nearby. One of the best game night micro fillers I've ever played.


Hit Realm.


Next up was Dragon Castle with four players. I was a little worried that it would take far longer than the 45 minutes written on the side of the box. Three of the players were new to the game and one of them, Hugo, can sometimes freeze in AP land!

Surprisingly, it was fast! By the time you finished flipping the tiles from a "consolidated" triggering and gathered the points tokens, the turn was back to you again. I mean... Take two tiles, go! Take one tile and one roof, go! Discard a tile, go! It's fast. Unlike Sagrada, to use another drafting game in the same league as an example, in Dragon Castle, there's no math involved. The whole decisions are spatially based and once you've set your targets in one or two colors, it's snappy quick.

Looks amazing on the table, doesn't tax your brain - at least with the Apprentice level cards - and plays well with four.


Fast Castle!


While Castle was being built, northwest Faerûn was being set up in a nearby table. Assault of the Giants, played by Bruno, Osvaldo, Nuno U., and Edgar. The latter a newbie when it comes to board games, despite extensive experience in the miniature hobby world (Gaslands, Warhammer 40k), but since he made Lagos his home, he's being thrown to the euro wolfs of the highest caliber! Root, The Gallerist, Gloomhaven...

Families nearby continued with their family gaming. Father/son dueling over Catan and a five-player Dixit story. And while I would have liked to stay until the end, these days my bedtime hour as receded to suit other needs. Not enough time for Terraforming Mars, or even a long time overdue revisit of Race for the Galaxy. But.... enough time for a five-player re-match of Fantasy Realms!


Neighbors.

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.


One year ago: ...house of martians...


Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard

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Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:00 pm
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