Chris MarlingUnited Kingdom
since I started recording my 'real life' plays here on BGG, this was my gamiest month with 49 plays. And no, I can't explain why I didn't just sneak a game of something short in before midnight on the last day to hit the 50!
Jambo (Chris, Morph)
As the night was starting with just Morph and me, it seemed like a good idea to bring Jambo. I again got rotten luck on the small markets, not seeing one all game, but previous experience saw me through to a 60-46 win. Most importantly, Morph enjoyed the game and it’s definitely still growing on me game by game.
Jambo (Chris, Zoe)
After Zoe and Davina arrived Morph got cooking and then they ate; which game Zoe and me a chance for a game too. Small markets came out pretty evenly this time, but I got some good combos going and ran out the 64-55 winner.
Downfall of Pompeii (Chris, Davina, Morph, Zoe)
Davina was on her last legs after a long day, so we settled into a nice easy (and nasty) game of Pompeii. Davina got a truckload of dudes on the map but then got hammered on the tiles, while Morph’s tiny rabble of yellows nearly all made it out. A super close game ended Chris 8, Morph 7, Zoe 6 and Davina 5.
Ticket to Ride (Chris, Morph, Zoe)
This drunken late night closer also went my way, giving me a super-rare four-win night! I gambled late and kept two extra route tickets, which just paid off on the last turn. I got one of my higher scores (150 including the longest route), ahead of a good score for Zoe (129, including three 20+ routes) and Morph (101).
NEW Core Worlds (Andy, Carl, Chris, Howie)
Howie introduced us to his latest purchase, Core worlds – a game I’ve come close to pulling the trigger on several times. After an aborted first attempt due to some fatal rules cock-ups we had a really fun game of it that went right to the wire. I thought I was out of it but managed to get a good card in round 9 that game me points for a lot of cards I’d picked up (robots and vehicles); I hadn’t planned it, but ended up on 25 points despite a largely fruitless last round. Andy totalled up next and pipped me by one with 26, so it was down to the other guys to see out their last couple of actions. Howie just pipped Carl to a core world they could both get, leaving Carl back on 16, while Howie then claimed another at the death to just nudge Andy out with 27. I look forward to another play of this one soon.
Thebes (Chris, Zoe)
We hadn’t dug Thebes out for a while and as we were both pretty frazzled it seemed like a good choice. Zoe had some crazy good luck at the start, I got some back when the exhibitions came out, but madam prevailed for a nice 97-87 victory.
NEW Vanuatu (Chris, Ed, Paul, Rich, Soren)
I really enjoyed my one play of this at London on Board and we had a great group of first-timers to the game, which really helped. From a distance it looks like a pretty tile exploration and role selection euro, but there is heavy tactics, strategy and extreme nastiness in the bidding system. There was a lot of laughter overall and despite coming last (51) after a strong start I had a great time – but I don’t think it will go down well with my usual group. Soren was just ahead of me on 56 after a slow start, with Rich on 60 and Ed 63. But Paul seemed to get into a nice groove where he was out of step with the rest of us, usually going for other things than the pack each round, helping him to a good 68 point victory.
NEW Briefcase (Chris, John, Paul, Rocky)
Another new game, another last place, but again it was a lot of fun with a great group. I was a bit pickled by this stage, and I had a terrible first three rounds of card draws leaving me behind the pace, but I came back to respectability late on for a 15 point haul behind John and Rich on 17 and winner Rocky on 19. I definitely want to play Briefcase some more because I really felt it improved on Dominion, but that in our game both John and I suffered from some really rotten luck. I’d like to see if this is just part of the game, and if you really care once up to the game’s usual speed (which I’d guess isn’t much over 3o minutes a play).
NEW Dobble (Chris, Csilla and lots of other bods)
Now properly frazzled, this silly part game was about all I was going to be able to manage. Everyone flips a card, then looks at everyone else’s card to try and match a pair – when you do you slap your card on theirs while saying the symbol type. Whoever is last has to keep the stack, and whoever has the least cards at the end wins. I actually did pretty well coming second, especially as winner Csilla just focused on my card each time. I only ended up last in one round, somehow, while Csilla went out every time for the win. I can see this being a good game for kids, but after the one game (which was hectic and enjoyable) I think I’ve seen enough. I’d always rather play a game with at least a little substance, such as For Sale, Pickomino etc.
NEW Hotel Samoa (Chris, Matt, Tom)
Another new game, but Hotel Samoa wasn’t quite as much of a hit for me. The game is OK, but only OK – I’d happily play again any time, but certainly wouldn’t buy it or pick it out of a wall full of games to play. It has a smart blind bidding mechanism that has you play a card with two symbols on which will decide your place in bidding for two separate auctions – one giving first choice to the high bidder, one to the low. This is clever and works well, but unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot else going on. Matt ran away with it on 107, with me second (86) and Tom third (64).
NEW Buccanneer (Chris, Matt, Tom, other Tom)
Everything about this experience sucked. I won’t bore you with the details, but the game itself is a dull, themeless memory puzzle that seemed to bring out the worst in people. It was short, but not short enough. Matt won on 107, the Toms got 88 and 87, while I nodded off on 70. I’d rather walk the plank than play this game again.
NEW Acquire (Chris, Zoe)
Having managed to get a copy of this for just £5, we had our first game this evening. I haven’t recorded a winner because it was so close (we both finished on just over $40k) and we made at least one error which could’ve seen the win change hands. The more important thing was that we both really enjoyed the game – which was a bit of a surprise, as I didn’t think Zoe would get into it. When we started she looked bored and I was dreading it, but by the end she was really getting into it. It’s going to be interesting to see the deeper strategy once we get to grips with the game’s obvious financial complexities. On the evidence so far, this was a great purchase.
Cuba (Chris, Zoe)
I won this one 88-76, but it was all down to one good round where I managed to ship 12 points of goods on top of my normal type of round score. I also felt I manipulated parliament pretty well, but Zoe got a good engine going but is definitely still learning. She was pissed off at losing, which is a good sign she’s getting the hang of it, enjoying it and wanting to win!
Lost Valley (Chris, Zoe)
After a very helpful message on last month’s blog from a certain Mr Goslar, we played the game properly for the first time this evening – and boy, did I suck at it! We played to 10 tokens, not nuggets, with me making a schoolboy error early on to throw the game away; I made a mine, then moved away to get some food, letting Zoe get into the perfect spot to exploit the other three tokens on it. As I new I couldn’t shift her I headed to town, stocked up on stuff, and headed into the wilds – only to turn over a bunch of crap and end up getting thrashed 29-11. But I deserved the beating and still really enjoyed this fantastic game. As we’re really enjoying the one-side-of-the-river variant, I don’t think we’ll try the two-explorers-each one – it just doesn’t sound right and I can’t see it adding to the way we’re playing. I’m not sure how much two players going on the one side has been play-tested, but it’s working great with us.
NEW Coloretto (Chris, Hilary, Tom)
Continuing a bumper month so far for gaming, I paid a visit to LoB Tom’s for a morning/early afternoon of gaming. A great session started with the first of three new card game fillers for me, Coloretto. I was familiar with the base mechanics as I have the Zooleretto iPod app, but it didn’t stop me making a terrible start as both Tom and his better half Hilary got ahead. I made a bit of a comeback late on (50), as Hilary faded (47), but it wasn’t enough to catch Tom (53). I enjoyed the game and would happily play again, but I only think I’d buy it if I saw it super cheap.
NEW Pinguin Party (Chris, Hilary, Martin, Tom)
By this time Martin had arrived but we were still waiting on the others, so out came this nice little filler. One day I’ll play a penguin game where it’s really about penguins, but not today – although this was again a fun little card game. Hilary (9) and Tom (7) both had a bit of a ’mare, while I did OK in my first game (3) coming in just behind winner Martin (1). Pinguin Party is a very simple and elegant little game, but again it’s not going to be a purchase for me. Fun though.
Downfall of Pompeii (Chris, Martin, Tom)
Hilary had to go so we settled in to teach Martin how to play one of my favourites, Pompeii. The swearing and laughter were soon ratcheted up to 11 and a couple of duff moves and some nice tile luck saw me winning a very tight game by a single point from Martin, with the final scores 9,8,7.
Ra (Chris, Jeroen, Martin, Tom)
Jeroen arrived during Pompeii and as we were all fans of Ra – and needed a quick-ish game as we waited for Ronan – out it came. I’ve pretty much only played this game with Andy and Carl before, so I was a bit nervous about playing with other people – were we OK, or really terrible at it? What had we been missing all along? Turns out I needn’t have worried, hehe – I ran away with it on 49 (dominated pharaohs and nile/flood tiles), ahead of Jeroen (38 from a monument strategy), Tom and Martin (20 and 15 respectively, clearly on no strategy at all…).
NEW 6 Nimmt! (Chris, Jeroen, Martin, Ronan, Tom)
I was fast running out of time, so the guys were good enough to squeeze in another filler before I had to leave. As I’d never played LoB standard 6 Nimmt! we had a quick three-round game of it. It was a great little luck heavy filler that played fast but thinky and was just about my favourite of the three short games we played. I have no idea how, but I scored no points on the final round while all around me crumbled (except Tom, who already had a worse score than me thanks to a washing machine disaster…) and managed to take a third straight win on 30 ahead of Martin (33), Ronan and Jeroen (38) and Tom (47). I’m not sure who was most surprised.
Zombie Fluxx (Chris, Zoe)
Hearing a review of the new Cthulu Fluxx on podcast The Gaming Gang inspired me to dust this one off – a game we hadn’t played in two years! Thankfully it was a very quick game – the way it should be – after Zoe placed out the ‘Zombie Food’ goal only for me to draw both Brains and A friend on the next round. There were no zombies in play, so that was that; pure skill, naturally. I do like the concept of this one, and short games like this are good fun – it’s just a shame it can sometimes drag on and on and on…
Caylus (Chris, Zoe)
This was another thoroughly enjoyable game of Caylus, which is fast becoming one of my favourites. I won comfortably in the end, 108-92, but mainly because I built on ideas I’d already been working on where Zoe tried some new tactics – namely taking a gold for VPs route. It might’ve worked too, except without blocking me I was just getting too many cubes; which led to me being able to convert into some good blue buildings and stretch my lead. Great fun though and we both learnt a lot. I’ll definitely try out some different strategy next time.
Mage Knight (Chris)
I am determined to beat the Solo Conquest scenario, but am comfortable with the fact it may never happen. The start tiles had just one town, in the middle of a swamp, and two tough orcs. Everywhere I was faced by either slow movement to places worth going, tough battles or simple exploration. Exploration just led to more of the same and after two days and a night of painfully slow progress I was starting to flip the tough tiles – meaning going back to improve was my only chance. I gave up, knowing I wasn’t going to win. While I love this game, when playing solo bad early tile draws seem almost impossible to beat without a lot of card draw luck. But I’ll persevere.
Mage Knight (Chris)
I guess practise might well make perfect in the end, but I won’t be holding my breath. Things seemed to go a little easier in the map creation this time, but I still came up woefully short of winning. I attacked the first (green) castle at the start of the final night, taking out the two purple enemies but spending most of my resources. But the guy left had seven health and was immune to everything; I simply didn’t draw anything that could do that kind of damage. I worked out my score for posterity though, ending on what I expect is a pretty feeble 69 (56 fame, plus a smattering of other bits and bobs). Things can only get better!
Lost Valley (Andy, Carl, Chris)
Proving once more that I am poop at this great game, Carl won with 25 ahead of Andy (19) and me (17). It was great to play with three and see it properly for the first time; the game played fast and fun, despite it being both the other guys’ first plays, and was thoroughly enjoyable. We all did very different things, but in the end the fact Andy and me spent the last few turns squabbling over the same tiles while Carl worked away on his own probably won him the game. I’m still a little befuzzled about when you place river tiles (is it two tile edges away, or is where on the tile the edge of the river lies important?), but beyond that I think I have the game down now and look forward to introducing it to more people.
Jambo (Andy, Chris)
Recording this one as a win (63-39), but as it was Andy’s first game it certainly doesn’t really count as one. He enjoyed himself, while I still feel I’m very much learning but enjoying. I again had rotten luck in drawing small markets – I certainly feel we may end up house ruling those into a stack next to the pack in the future.
Power Grid (Chris, Zoe)
While two-player clearly isn’t the sweet spot for Power Grid, we’re still really enjoying it. I got behind early after paying for an expensive plant that was cheap to run, thinking I could make up on the savings I’d make on fuel. But of course because I wasn’t buying any, Zoe’s costs were coming down, ruining that foolish strategy (I guess it might work with more players). I did pull back, but not quite enough – we both fuelled 21 in the final round, but Zoe pipped me with 50 in the bank to my 28.
Endeavor (Chris, Davina, Morph, Zoe)
I won at Endeavor! Woohoo! I love this game, but generally suck at it. My problem is that I get too excited about shipping, do well at it, but end up with no points from the board itself. This time I managed to balance things out a little better (I took close to 20 points from the board) – and as none of us had played for ages, it was a pretty low scoring game. I also had a great last round, luckily chaining a bunch of blue tokens to do way more than I had any right to. I won on 56, just ahead of Zoe on 54. Davina finished on 43, with morph back on 33.
Notre Dame (Andy, Chris, Howie)
Another game I love and another win, although this was a little more expected; Andy hadn’t played for ages and it was Howie’s first game. I scored a balanced 57 while Howie and Andy both scored 44, but it was how Andy got his points that made the game interesting. He didn’t bother dealing with the rates early on and soon found himself taking a penalty and having nothing in the hospital; so he thought screw it and ignored the penalty for the rest of the game. It didn’t quite work for him, but with experience this could actually be a viable strategy – I may try it next time I play.
Core Worlds (Andy, Chris, Howie)
This was an unexpected win, as at half way I thought I was nowhere – but then it seems to be that type of game. I thought I was getting rotten luck, but in the last three rounds things seemed to largely go my way. I finished with a score of 28, one better than the score Howie won our first game with, with Howie this time second on 26. Andy got 19. I can see higher scores in the future once we get the hang of things. I’m really enjoying playing, but not enough to feel I need to own a copy though (which will make Zoe happy!).
Race for the Galaxy (Andy, Carl, Chris)
Carl is definitely getting the most wins at Galaxies of late and tonight was no exception. I was nowhere at half way, but no one made much of an effort to ‘race’ so I got some good points late on when I probably shouldn’t have had the chance. Carl won comfortably on 69, with me just edging out Andy 51 to 50.
Race for the Galaxy (Andy, Carl, Chris)
I got a nice rebel military thing going on in game two, which was backed by both prestige points and the bonus cards but little else – so I raced to close the game out as quickly as possible and just won with 47. Carl was just behind on 45, with Andy a close third on 39.
Race for the Galaxy (Andy, Carl, Chris)
Andy and I were a bit drunk by game three, which certainly helped designated driver Carl to an easy win! He strolled to 57, with Andy second on 42 and me lagging behind on 31.
Troyes (Chris, Zoe)
I hadn’t played this one since April and it had been even longer for Zoe, who has played less than me – and it showed. While I think I’m starting to get into slightly deeper tactics, focusing on certain buildings to get extra dice and also thinking about turn order, while Zoe was more relearning the rules. I won out 48-37, but we both remembered how much we enjoyed the game and we’ll try to get it to the table more often in future.
Acquire (Chris, Zoe)
This was only our second game and we’re very clearly learning the basics. I won out $44,900-$40,200 but have no real idea how; we both spent all of our money early and then played a cagey game of trying to get our areas swallowed up by the other ones. It didn’t seem like I did better, but I just pipped it anyway. I’m guessing two-player isn’t the sweet spot for Acquire, but for now we’re enjoying ourselves. It’s most certainly an excellent game.
Jambo (Chris, Zoe)
We both got a small market early but Zoe wasn’t on her game, running out of cards early then struggling to get going. I got lucky with the six-good tiles and won 66-46.
Jambo (Chris, Zoe)
We had another game straight afterwards and the tables turned as Zoe now had her eye in. Despite not getting a small market throughout she always seemed to have a handful of cards (me playing Scales a lot probably helped, but I love it) and worked them well. I felt my only chance was to end the game quickly, but Zoe equalled my score of 61 on her final turn which meant she took the victory on the tie-breaker.
Ticket to Ride: Ancient Asia (Chris, Zoe)
We both kept our long ticket and two of the three shorter ones. I saw a route to connect mine and managed to do it without a hitch, while accidentally stomping on Zoe’s plans a couple of times. I definitely got the run of the carriage cards too, leading me to a comfortable 114-86 victory (even without the 10 point bonus). I love how fast this version plays without taking anything away from the experience.
Ticket to Ride: Ancient Asia (Chris, Zoe)
We had another game straight afterwards and this time it was really close, with Zoe taking the win 114-111. We both got done with our initial cards quickly (I kept three, Zoe two) but where I kept two of the three extras Zoe took a risk and kept all of hers – and it gave her the game as she just pipped me, even though I took the 10 point bonus.
Blokus Duo (Chris, Zoe)
The first Blokus game of the year, which is a shame – but I think it will get more plays. This was a game we played early in Zoe’s introduction to board games and she really didn’t get the hang of it, but tonight I only just won 18-16. It’s also a nice quick game, which we don’t have that many of, so that also helps put it back on the radar.
Briefcase (Chris, Ian, John, Tamas)
I’d really hoped to get a second game of Briefcase to try and make my mind up on it and John was good enough to oblige. I again enjoyed the game (and should’ve won – John pipped Tamas and me 15 to 14, but I could’ve nailed two extra points in the final round) and was impressed at how differently it played with a different set of buildings out, but it won’t be a purchase. While I enjoy it, there isn’t enough new here for it to replace Dominion in my collection – or to need to own it alongside dominion. I’ll always be up for a game though.
NEW Fairy Tale (Chris, Ian, John, Tamas)
I’d read about Fairy Tale being shorter and better than the game that ripped it off, 7 Wonders, so I was really hoping to see it for myself – and once again john was good enough to oblige. Only Ian had played before, and years earlier, but it only took a few minutes to learn the rules. Despite being similar to 7 Wonders I really enjoyed it; it had the good bits (drafting, speed) with the rubbish taken out – it really felt like you were making meaningful decisions. I’ll certainly be looking for a copy. Tamas and I again tied for second on 41, behind Ian on 50.
NEW Kingdom Builder (Chris, Ian, John)
As this was John’s favourite game he was more than happy to once again oblige me in a game I’d hoped to get a play of – cheers John! I’d heard some criticism of the game but it turned out to be nonsense; this is an insanely tactical game where a good player will wipe the floor with new ones – I have the scars to prove it! Sure, you only get one card each round that you have to obey if you can, but the amount of options available in such a short game is tremendous. Add to that huge variability of set up and you have a real winner. Ian just closed out john 59-56, while my only comfort came in adding Kingdom Builder to my wishlist.
Unplayed prototypes (x2) (Andrew, Brett, Chris, John, Matthew, Tom)
This was an inspiring evening, meeting up with a group of game designers in a Cambridge pub. We chatted a lot about games in general before playing two prototypes brought along by Brett (The Gnomes of Hawthorn Hall) and Matt. Both showed a lot of promise (Matt’s an interesting role selection/set collection card game, Brett’s a strong tile/meeple placement game) and I look forward to seeing how they develop. I look forward to meeting up with the guys in a couple of weeks and bringing my own first efforts along (gulp).
NEW It’s Alive! (Chris, Zoe)
Saw this advertised for the crazy price of just £5.99 and couldn’t resist it. The game sounded like one I’d like and luckily I was right – we both really enjoyed the first game, although I had a definite advantage having fully read and understood the rules before we started. Zoe blew all her cash a couple of times, leaving me able to pick up pieces for just one coin, which was enough to get me a comfortable victory 49-28.
It’s Alive! (Chris, Zoe)
I didn’t have things so easy on our next game though! Zoe had the hang of things by now and just pipped me to the win 51-46, but I was one coin away from ending it the round before! Really happy that I picked this one up.
It’s Alive! (Chris, Davina, Morph)
I thought these guys might like this one and thankfully they were right, although previous experience gave me to a win with 51 points. Rematch time!
It’s Alive! (Chris, Davina, Morph)
This time things were much tighter and I didn’t think I was in the box seat, but managed to compete first which got me over the line; I had 42 with the bonus five points, just ahead of Davina (40) and Morph (38). The guys were straight away after their own copy, as it’s so crazy cheap at the moment – but it’s also a testament to how fast and fun the game is, as they only own a few favourite games.
Ticket to Ride (Chris, Davina, Morph)
So close! Morph took longest train by one carriage from me, giving him a 102-99 win. Davina missed out on 20-poimter (which would’ve won her the game) by one carriage, finishing on 73.