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Friday dawned crisp and bright; the sort of cold that hugs your face and makes it feel like glaciers are scraping your lungs clean when you breathe deeply. Aaah, the glorious midwinter!
Work -> Dentist Appt -> Lunch with Mrs B -> Work; before I knew it, the blazing sphere was setting and the pre-gaming ritual of supper and teen-ferrying had begun. With the promise of a rare six at the club, I figured I'd have an excellent chance of another Terraforming Mars as a three-way, most excitingly buttressed-in-solidity by a stray email from Smudge who - after a shaky start last time - was evidently quite keen to play again! And let me tell you that Smudge emails, by-passing the staunch Boffonian Gatehouse, are a rare and beautiful thing!
At the car park: Jobbers, recovered from his viral incapacity, could be seen in vague silhouette through the frosted windows of his BMW; heavy, 1970s rock baselines rumbled across the gravel; Garibaldi, intermittent but keen, emerged as a small bear from long hibernation when he saw me Touran ex emersit; Boffo fell out of the Batesonmobile in a swift drop-off, Smudge not feeling up to tonight's session; and of Byll there was no sign yet. Five, then, not six; arse-biscuits! However, when I posited TM, Boffo announced he and Byll would play something 'for two' which I took to mean Jobbers, Gary and me would be left to ourselves for the rest of the night - not so! Boffo simply wanted to avoid my rules explanation and fifteen minutes later (when they had breezed through something light-and-airy and, seemingly, not much fun from the grumbling) they dragged themselves - and another table - to join us.
A Water Table, Garçon; and tectonic plates for five!
Now, yes, before knickers are twisted and beloved toys launched skyward from the parambulator, I _know_ we may have made a couple of mistakes re: cities. In my defense, Noctis (mine - I had the Corp that started with 20 steel) always builds in the same space regardless of adjacent tiles AND another had to be built next to two extant cities. Who cares? It was all a complete blast! In Byll's case this was particularly true given he dropped at least five pieces of space debris on us all - including Diemos! - which stymied any Plant (and consequent Forest) growth for the first half of the game! It was getting so bad that I referred to Byll as 'the Klendathu Corporation' at one point:
Jobbers settled quickly in to proceedings and confidently ploughed his way to victory chased, enthusiastically, by Boffo. We eschewed drafting again, this only being our second game, but I think we felt the frustrations of 'the luck of the draw' a little bit; Boffo (quite correctly IMO) pointing out that he did as well as he could with the cards that he got. The flavour and flow was excellent, however, and we enjoyed how differently it all played out to the first game.
I always underestimate how long it takes to play Citadels and, after 35 minutes, I had to leave to pick-up peeps in Gloucester; we called it with Jobbers and I tied for the win on 16 points (both having 5 buildings out). I'm pretty sure TM won't get to be a three-weeks-in-a-row event (sad face; though that would be an occurrence of Biblical proportions anyway) UNLESS anyone out there fancies turning up to Ross-on-Wye? Come on, people; you know you want to!
On Friday evening we had friends and their kids around for pizza, booze and a chat. They like to play games a little as well and had very kindly found a game in a charity shop that they had brought with them as a gift for us - although as Sarah had to admit "I don't know why we thought we'd found a game that you wouldn't already have!" (It was Knizia's Ingenious, and we do have it - so we told them to keep it and enjoy it as it's a good one!) But that was an incredibly kind thought that really made Mrs B and I smile.
After food Billy and their eldest son Dan played goodness knows what on the Xbox whilst Charlie entertained their youngest Adam with piggybacks and all manner of silliness whilst the adults sat around the table and played something that I knew they'd played and enjoyed before, an older light tile laying / set collection game called Maori.
This is a charming little game that I would've turned my nose up at a year or so ago (indeed we used to have a different copy which I'd sold on as it was 'too simple for us') but was an ideal 30 minute or so game to enjoy with some wine and chatter.
Players draft (I suppose) tiles by virtue of moving a little boat around a 4x4 grid of tiles on offer, moving up to the number of boats on their home board. Wooden shells (shelleeples? shelples?) can be paid to move further than your allowed movement. You then take the tile by which you have landed. Shells can again be paid to move into the grid and take something that is not in immediate reach. Refresh the tile, next player's turn, and so on.
Points are gained for having palm trees (which must be correctly oriented), doubled if that island has a hit on it, big points for having a ring of flowers, points per boat and shell for the player who has the majority of those, and minus points for any unused space on the board (you are allowed to not take tiles, put one in storage, remove from your board on a turn if you have erred in your placement or have spotted a better opportunity - so it is entirely possible that at the end of game all players have a different amount of coverage on their home boards.)
There is a more gamery variant or two included but we were happy to play the basic version and it was good fun - some mild hate drafting and blocking, along with some dumb placing of tiles making it difficult to complete the board (I blame the wine) makes for gentle interaction and amusement.
It's not a game I think we'd ever dig out and play at home, but I would happily play it any time with non gamers, or at the open cafe, or with friends and a glass of wine.
And as they did very much enjoy it we gave it to them as a gift to take home and keep, so I'm sure we'll get to play it again when we visit them.
A lovely evening.
For games 6 and 7 I decided to try it out solitaire as the Government faction against the three other bots, which I hadn't done in awhile. I won both games. The games were so much easier than playing as 26July that I am pretty convinced that the game is designed that way.
Game 6’s final scores were like this:
A lot of bad events hit me during the first campaign which drove my Governemnt support all the way down to Embargoed right away, and my board position was so bad I kind of wrote off the game. However, 26July was largely ineffective the entire game, but helped keep Directorio busy for much of the game sparring over Habana province. I noticed that in general that without the right event cards 26July bot will have trouble getting into Havana and it doesn’t go after EC’s aggressively as I do if I were controlling them.
For the Syndicate, I just watched out if they were getting too close to victory conditions and assaulted their casinos in my cities. What's interesting in this game is by the third campaign, Syndicate bot was basically stuck because all of their Guerrillas were deployed and active.
I described this to friends as eating steak and getting free Frank Sinatra shows in Havana while the insurgents squabbled at my doorstep.
Game 7’s scores are as follows:
This one definitely started off badly for Government. The very card was this:
Ugh, Vilma, seriously?
and then, weirdly enough, this:
I was very vigilant this time around to keep guerrillas exposed right away the instant they popped up in the city and concentrated my provincial efforts in Oriente, not really contest the Insurgents anywhere else. This time around both 26July and DR amassed fairly large blobs of guerrillas and fought over the center of the island. This time 26July was in a better position to contest the ECS which was a nice challenge.
With two solid wins under my belt, I'm going to try out 26July again or maybe Directorio (reports around BGG seem to say that it's a decent game!)
LeiriaCon is coming in a couple of months. The biggest gaming convention of the country, for all I know. The talk and agitation among fellow Portuguese geeks it's quite high.
But I don't usually find them here, at BoardGameGeek. For some reason, (maybe it's the main written language preference) they're preferred Geek outlet is in a Portuguese game forum, Abre o Jogo. Spanish users seem to be in the same boat, resorting themselves to their own Spanish forums and in-house sales and trades. I wonder if every country as their own board game forum?
Anyway, there's a Math Trade happening, just before the Con, so people can do the trade online and exchange the actual games on the site, saving on shipping. Shipping..... that eternal crazy value that leads some to overspend at the mention of "free shipping on all orders beyond €€€...
Such a small country and the Math Trade as already +400 entries from +60 users. I think is remarkable. And all this is happening within the forum, with no resort to the OLWLG tool. We'll have to send our Want Lists via email to the guy that's running the trade. Let's see how the problems, if any, are solved. It's gonna be a lot of entries and want lists... Just one mistake on the cogwheel...
While I was fumbling trough some old archived prints and board game stuff, I came upon a ready to craft game: Aquaducts, by Dave Mansell. A solo game entry in the 2015 BGG & Geekway to the West Microgame Prototype Design Contest and a Top 15 finalist! But I couldn't find how far it got in the finals...
Being just 3 sheets of paper, I crafted the thing in no time. I'll play it tomorrow and let you know what's like.
Finally, we managed to play Dungeon Petz! I've had this game sitting on the shelve for almost a year! A year! Shame on me...
Being our first game, neither one knew how to score points more efficiently. But once I told Ana that artifacts will help you during the game and in the final exhibitions, and that keeping your cages free of poo and disease is paramount to success, she made those her goals in life!
I actually tried to buy a lot of pets so I could draw more cards and have more control in what to play in each pet. But I guess this didn't work. The first pet I bought stayed with me until the end, creating a lot of crap on all cages and making it impossible for me to sell it! In the end, all of Ana's cages where empty of animals and filth. All my cages were full of adorable diseased pets with poo up to their necks, and I actually let some die and lost reputation! I got a beating with 38 vs 61 points.
We were looking for the next Alchemists since it's one of Ana's favorite games. Dungeon Petz shares a great deal thematically, in great part due to the art of David Cochard, but the systems and mechanisms are somewhat different. In Alchemists you're trying to deduce a hidden code and score with your findings or, bluff your results to the win. In Dungeon Petz, you're trying to maintain your pets long enough so you can score them in exhibitions and sales. And there's no big revelation in Dungeon Petz, off course. They're both great games, and I got some laughs during the gameplay of either one. But Ana still prefers to mix potions and get mad drinking them.
Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.
Jesminder Sareen is still (luckily) preventing a Government Takeover by Weyland Consortium: Building a Better World. In the first game, the Corp kept its opening hand because some of the combo pieces were in it. Its first turn was spent getting funds and digging in R&D. All the central servers were left wide open.
Jesminder didn't see that as a good sign. Furthermore, she had no immediate access to Magnum Opus. This ended up being a stroke of luck because she spent her first turn running -- R&D, HQ (saw one of the combo pieces), and Archives (just in case the Corp had discarded a "useless" agenda). And yes, she did find a copy of Project Atlas in Archives.
Second turn, the Corp continued to draw and make transactions. Jesminder found Maya off of her stack, installed the console, and ran the wide open R&D again. Lucky find -- the Government Takeover!
It turns out the Corp never got any ice to install.
In the second game, Harmony Medtech was up against Edward Kim. This being the fifth time facing Edward, I didn't expect any surprises and had my game plan -- if possible, rush out the agendas before Edward gets his rig set up and then, hunt for Komainu to nullify Faust.
I was agenda flooded early on; Jackson Howard helped to restructure R&D but that left me only halfway home with an early The Future Perfect. After that, no more agendas appeared though I was getting credits and ice. I was sure Harmony Medtech was doomed when Edward got Wyldside, Adjusted Chronotype, Faust, and Turntable set up. And I still hadn't found Komainu.
At that point, I didn't even care about Medium because each of us had an agenda and HQ had three of the remaining four. I took a chance to install a Global Food Initiative into my remote, knowing that even with Turntable, Edward wouldn't win just yet as the agenda he already stole was another Global Food Initiative. My hope was that he wouldn't be able to recover his grip fast enough for the following agenda install.
At this point, Edward says he forgot that the win condition was one point less, felt that was a trap, and spent his turn running R&D. I scored out for the lucky win.
Your mission should you choose . . . wait. Umm, in a Galaxy far, far . . . no, not that (please, not that). Space, the final . . . uh-uh. Can anyone hear you scream in space? Who is Zarathustra, and why did he Also sprach? I think I’m running out of references here.
Anyway, here be episode 103 replete with an in-depth conversation about Spielworxx’s latest, Solarius Mission. We also get into what the future holds for our gaming lives, answer viewer mail, discuss what hit our tables during Portland’s snowpocalypse and drink some Bruichladdich classic whisky. Get your steak knives out.
Listen to it here.
06:20 — Recently on Eric’s Table (The Colonists, Ora et Labora, Days of Ire, First Class)
21:45 — Recently on Jim’s Table (Bios: Genesis, Wing Leader, Age of Thieves)
30:15 — Viewer Mail
53:12 — Bruichladdich Scottish Barley, The Classic Laddie
63:21 — The Year Ahead: Questioning the Gaming Hobby.
89:42 — Solarius Mission (in-depth)
Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:52 pm
My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games. We initially tried this game at Gen Con in 2014, and it was a terrible demo. However, shortly after that my wife played it again a couple of times and warmed up to it a bit. Once she got the app, she really liked it and played it a lot. Yet, this is a game that has languished on our shelves lately. For instance it was only played once in 2016. Does this game still ave a part in our gaming realm?
This is a two player game where two players go head to head. Players begin the game with a starter deck of 10 cards and 50 "authority" (life).
From a common deck of cards five will be available to purchase. On a player's turn they can play cards from their hand. There are two types of cards bases and ships. Ships are discarded at the end of a turn after being played, but bases can stay in play. Some bases have an outpost designation, and those bases must be attacked before attacking a player.
Cards played will generate money, which is used to buy cards from the center and/or attack power which is used to attack the opponent. Any attack that is not applied to bases, reduces the opponent's life. There are four factions in the game, and many of the cards have bonus abilities if another card of the same faction is played. Once one player is reduced to zero authority they lose.
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.
My Comments: This game is simple and easy to play, but I think the flip side is that it is shallow. Often the decision of what card to buy is an easy one to make. Since all cards are played for full effect, there are very few interesting decisions
Her Comments: I like how easy it is to pick this game up. It plays simply and smoothly.
My Comments: My opinion of this game as steadily decreased and I do not enjoy the experience at all. The game is so limited and synergy is so important. If one player can consistently get the opportunity to buy cards of the same faction then they is a huge advantage. It is frustrating because luck dictates that more than anything else. Even when a deck has synergy there is not much to it because the game plays itself and the player just adds up the numbers on the cards.
Her Comments: I think this game is consistently a good experience. I especially enjoy the late game when the deck comes together and the cards interact with one another.
My Comments: Adding the expansions helped, but after a dozen or so plays the game feels a bit worn. By that time all the cards have been experienced, and there just is not much left to explore.
Her Comments: I find this game very replayable because every game is different as I acquire different cards and it plays out differently.
Pacing and Flow
My Comments: This is the game's weakest part because the pacing and flow can be extreme. If both players get a lot of defensive or life giving cards then the game absolutely drags. If that does not happen ten it is just as likely that one player gets blown out because their deck does not come together.
Her Comments: This is the downside to this game. It should be a quick playing game, but sometimes it can take way too long for what it is.
My Comments: I have played this game 30 times now, and my opinion has steadily eroded. At this point I actively dislike the game. I find it frustrating and tedious.
Her Comments: I like this game, and I enjoy the simplicity of building my deck in this game and seeing it all work. Fortunately for me I am just as fine playing this single player on the ipad.
It is a bit rare for me to be the one who does not like a game, but this is one that I am just done with. My wife is fine not keeping the physical copy of the game, so it will be going to the trade pile.
Every year, I like to set myself a board game challenge. Two years ago I successfully completed the 10x10 challenge. Last year I (mostly) completed my challenge of playing all of my games, leaving about five of my games unplayed.
This year, I'm not going to set a goal dictating which games I'm going to play ahead of time. I'm going to play whatever I'm in the mood to play, and just enjoy my collection. The spirit of enjoying the collection I've already built is exactly what inspired the challenge I'm going to attempt this year.
So with that said, my gaming goal for 2017 is to limit my retail purchases to twelve games over the course of the year, and not to Kickstart anything (although I am going to make exceptions for the expansions for The Networks and Raiders of the North Sea). I don't need to constantly be acquiring new games, because I already own a ton of great games, and more than a few games I've yet to play. I also don't need to use Kickstarter to get games 12+ months later when there are so many great games available now.
Noble intentions aside, I expect this goal will be tough, because there are already a few games I've been looking to purchase once they're released, including Charterstone and Victorian Masterminds. Again, I'm giving myself a pass on expansions, in the event the Jamaica: The Crew expansion is released. I also have been looking for a copy of Bruges for months, so if I find a reasonably priced copy -- new or used, I won't hesitate to pick it up. Add to that the two games I already picked up this year, Concordia and Belfort, both of which are either out of print or just generally hard to find, and I haven't left myself a lot of leeway for additional purchases this year.
So with just over eleven months to go, I want to limit myself to ten more purchases, and none on Kickstarter. Let's see if I can hold fast to this goal.
The Grey Ranks is the emotional equivalent of getting a sock full of bricks to the back of the head while simultaneously getting hockey punched. Which is kind of the point. This is a role-playing game about playing child soldiers during the disastrous Warsaw uprising in World War II.
In the introduction to Slaughterhouse Five, there is a discussion about how there isn't any such thing as an antiwar story, that movies and stories always make war seem heroic and exciting. The Grey Ranks is about as anti-war as you're going to get, this side of Grave of Fireflies.
Part of what makes The Grey Ranks so strong is the respect and seriousness that it treats the subject matter. This is very heavy stuff, war and love and desperation and depression and death. If Jason Morningstar made light of it, the game would be an offensive abomination.
Particularly since this isn't just about the idea of child soldiers. The Grey Ranks is about a very specific event that actually happened. The book does not only give an overview of the Nazi occupation of Poland and Warsaw in particular, it also gives a number of brief biographies of real teenagers who were part of the Szare Szregi, the Grey Ranks of the title.
What is also very powerful is that the characters are only defined by their emotional growth and journeys. They have reputations which _will_ change over the course of the game and a place on a grid that depicts where they are in an axis of love, hate, enthusiasm and exhaustion.
And madness and death can be the very likely, almost certain, end points on that grid.
When your character dies or otherwise cannot be played, you don't create a new character. Instead, you play the absence of your character and how it affects everyone who remains.
The designer is Jason Morningstar and the mechanics have a lot of the touches I have come to expect from him. No game master, strong focus on narrative, and relatively simple rules but still create a tight framework. The centerpiece of the mechanics is the grid I mentioned, showing the emotional state of the characters.
I read a lot of role playing games. It's kind of become a separate hobby of mine. And there is a very good chance that I will never play a lot of the games I read. I am in between groups at the moment and, frankly, I'm more in the market to find a new board gaming group.
However, I do want to eventually play The Grey Ranks, even if it's just one of the modified, one session versions.
Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
We'll be playing Hare & Tortoise, Hey That's My Fish!, Hanabi and Hive.
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