Recent gaming: Bohnanza Das Duell, Evolution Climate, Codenames Pictures, Crokinole, Happy Salmon, Kido Butai, Spoiled Victory...
Mark Johnson
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September & October, 2016

Wow, has it really been two months since I last wrote one of these geeklists? I guess so. Not that I haven't been doing any gaming during that time, but it's been both infrequent and unusual in opportunity. My regular group of friends and our weekly gaming group is thousands of miles away while I work overseas for a year. My priority is on sightseeing on the weekends, and on work during the week. Still, there have been chances here & there. Time to catch up.

-Mark



My recent gaming geeklists (2016)
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1. Board Game: Bohnanza: The Duel [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:2029]
Board Game: Bohnanza: The Duel
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I see what's trying to be done here, some clever mechanisms to bring some of the tensions of multiplayer trading into a 2-player game, as well as address some of the parent game's perceived vulnerabilities. I bet serious gamers will enjoy it. The thing is, my wife & I have been playing 2-player Bohnanza with the original game for almost two decades. It shouldn't work as a 2-player game, but for us it does because we play it pleasantly. Even that that, there's the occasional refused "gift." Which means that this amped-up version of 2-player Bohnanza isn't necessary for us.
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2. Board Game: Evolution: Climate [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:271]
Board Game: Evolution: Climate
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I like Evolution, as much as what it's aiming for as what actually happens in the game. I heartily applaud Dominic's work to sand off the original games rough edges (and imbalances). That means that's what's left sometimes isn't able to showcase all the drama of this Darwinian contest. That's the case here, where some cool climatological effects are more threatened than actual in the games I played.
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3. Board Game: Happy Salmon [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1193] [Average Rating:6.77 Unranked]
Board Game: Happy Salmon
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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For what it is. Stupid fun, and a lot of smiles.
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4. Board Game: Codenames: Pictures [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:311] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
 Missing Image
Mark Johnson
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I actually like the conceptual wordplay and connections of the original game more than this variant based in imagery. The images are really clever, though, being a deliberate and well-designed blend of familiar & surprising artwork that generates the kind of overlaps & ambiguities the game needs.
 
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5. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:89] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Played with a nongamer couple...who promptly went out and bought it at Target. Success!
 
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6. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:67]
Board Game: Crokinole
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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One of several games I played with the college kids before moving to France. It was our last game night for a long while, and we played a few games. This traditional game was the hands-down favorite of the night. The very definition of a classic.
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7. Board Game: Winner's Circle [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:812]
Board Game: Winner's Circle
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Winner's Circle is a fine edition of this great game, but I'm really happy to have the earlier Royal Turf edition. The box is smaller, and I like the color-matching horse names.
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8. Board Game: Gloria Picktoria [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3214]
Board Game: Gloria Picktoria
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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One of our old standbys. We own the Get The Goods version, which is the theming I most like, but I understand this Doris chicken version is easier to find. (First time we played with more than 2 in a long while. Dynamics are different with more players--a good thing.)
 
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9. Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:553]
Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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This is a 4-star game, but we had a 3-star experience. I already knew it, but the guy explaining the rules (English was not his native language) left some of the players confused. Especially about the arrows. It needed my buddy Davebo's explanation that arrow dice generate arrows "in the air" that don't actually hit until the supply runs out...and gives you a chance to shoot them out of the air with the gatling gun. Trust me, that thematic explanation really helps.
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10. Board Game: Kido Butai: Japan's Carriers at Midway [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:8688]
Board Game: Kido Butai: Japan's Carriers at Midway
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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A very cool, little solo wargame about the Battle of Midway. You play the Japanese side, and have to sweat out not knowing where the Americans are. The real decisions in the game are loading out and deploying your naval air forces. Not as fancy as W1815, but this game should be thought of in that context of minimal wargames that really teach you something about the famous battle.
 
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11. Board Game: Angels One Five [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
Board Game: Angels One Five
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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I really love Phil Sabin's concepts about laser-focused wargames that make simplifications in order to highlight important aspects of military history. I haven't played any until now, though, and this one lacked the playability that let me really enjoy it. I'm not giving up, though, because I'm sure he's onto something.
 
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12. Board Game: Meteor [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:6173]
Board Game: Meteor
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Tried again with the college kids. It worked ok, but I think that's about all it's going to be for me. Which wasn't enough to take it to France with me (as I'd hoped).
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13. Board Game: HMS Dolores [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3647]
Board Game: HMS Dolores
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Taught by & played with co-designer Bruno Faidutti himself, on one of my first weekends after moving to Paris. There was an open-air game expo near Republique, and Bruno was one of several designers present. He was the one who piped up first when we asked if someone could teach us in English, and we played this 3-player game about the prisoner's dilemma. I liked it ok, and even more when I realized my wife enjoyed it.
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14. Board Game: Take Your Pick II [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Take Your Pick II
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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One of my social game go-to's. Played this with another couple while vacationing together.
 
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15. Board Game: A Spoiled Victory: Dunkirk 1940 [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:8327]
Board Game: A Spoiled Victory: Dunkirk 1940
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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Part of my Wargames To Go episode on the Battle of Dunkirk (and evacuation in Operation Dynamo). A wonderful little wargame on an unusual and tricky subject. I loved how this abstracted the ground combat in order to make room for the air & sea aspects, without ending up with an overloaded game. I'm eager for the new edition, Miracle at Dunkerque: The British Withdrawal From France.
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16. Board Game: Down in Flames: Air Umbrella Over Dunkirk [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Down in Flames: Air Umbrella Over Dunkirk
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Another game played for the WGTG episode about Dunkirk. This was just ok because playing the campaign solo, on my laptop using Vassal. Would be a lot more fun with the physical game, and against a real opponent.
 
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