Northside Gamers - Games played in 2017
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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Continuing on from our original Northside Gamers - Games played in 2016 geeklist.

Below is a list of games played at Northside Gamers in 2017.

Please feel free to post games played below with some notes and a few comments others may find useful.
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1. Board Game: Start Player [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:3671]
Board Game: Start Player
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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3 January 2017

First session of the year and we arrived to find the bistro area of the club in darkness. Apparently the club was closing early at 8:00pm. They we're sure if we would be attending at their staff had worked a long night on NYE.

We waited for a few more people to show and tossed-up whether we move the session down to Good Games. Unfortunately they were holding a MTG tournament on that night, so there probably wouldn't be many spare tables. Plus it started pouring raining, so we decided to stay put and play a series of smaller, quicker games.

Phil the Club President was very apologetic and even though the kitchen wasn't open, was also happy to prepare a curry for anyone who wanted one.

Despite the short evening we had 17-18 people playing a variety of games.
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2. Board Game: Fuji Flush [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1900]
Board Game: Fuji Flush
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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3 January 2017

Our first game of the evening was a 4-player game of Fuji Flush. Lorenzo's friend was also there (sorry I completely forgot his name), so Lorenzo explained the game for him in Italian, while we setup.

This is a fun, quick little filler game in the vein of No Thanks! but in this game the aim is to shed all the cards in your hand. Amusing and
a game that definitely lends itself to larger groups of 5-7, but light and enjoyable enough to encourage multiple plays.

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3. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1794]
Board Game: Circus Flohcati
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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3 January 2017
Board Game: Circus Flohcati


John then joined us with his son (again, I'm bloody hopeless at remembering names - Adrian?) and I pulled out my copy of the classic Knizia game Circus Flohcati, recently republished by David Harding's Grail Games.

This is a quick, 2-5 player, push your luck game of collecting sets of cards to meld into scoring sets.

The game is 80 cards - 10 sets of different coloured cards numbered 0-7, plus a handful of cards that allow you to draw more or steal cards from other players.

You start with a central deck and on your turn, flip over one card at a time into a draft. You can then decide whether to take that card (or any other single card already in the draft), or you can keep flipping more cards into the draft. BUT... if one of the flipped cards is the same colour as one already in the draft - your turn is over. This is the push your luck aspect.

The aim of the game is to collect melds of 3 card of the same value, which you play in front of you on your turn, scoring 10 points per set at the end of the game. The game end when either the deck is exhausted or if one player reveals a set of all 10 colours.

Each set of 3 cards scores 10 points and cards in your hand score their face value, but only for the highest card in each set.

It is a game with lots of simple little decisions to make - watching the numbers everyone else is taking, deciding whether to grab that high-scoring 7 point card or to grab some low value cards nobody else wants (so you can meld them), or keep flipping for that card you want to complete the set, but always risking losing your turn.

Taking big values can be useful but can also make you a target for the special cards that allow people to steal from you. Watching the colours in your hand to make sure you aren't duplicating colours that won't score at the end, or even pushing to get all 10 colours and end the game quickly.

Turns are incredibly quick and the game is done in around 10 mins, punctuated with many groans as people push their luck too far or someone grabs the card you desperately wanted.

This version of the game represents a "flea circus" with pictures of the various circus performers depicted with flea heads. I've heard some people are turned-off by the design, but it doesn't really worry me since you're seldom looking at them. Some of the colours are a tad indistinct and several fonts are hard to read, but overall, it's a neat little package that fills the quick, light opener / filler role for me. 7/10
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4. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:96] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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3 January 2017

We rounded out the evening with several games of Codenames - I think by far my favorite party game.

Knowing how poorly Richard and I play together I teamed-up with John's son, with John and Richard forming a team.

In the first game we got off to a commanding lead and it looked like we would have a runaway win with John struggling to link his words for Richard. But the age difference between us started to show as the clues I gave just didn't quite gel - we got stuck, unable capitalise on our lead, only to watch John & Richard nail their guesses and score a close win.

We swapped sides and a similar situation ensured with John & Richard stealing a win out form under us on the last possible turn - to much cheering and groaning.
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5. Board Game: Not Alone [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:698]
Board Game: Not Alone
Dean Verco
Australia
Hornsby Heights
NSW
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First game for 2017 for me was Not Alone. New one for most of the folks around the table, I played the Creature in this asymmetrical hunting game. The full seven players, Leigh, Cathy, Liam, Robert, Mac, Glenn and myself gave this one a whirl, and it seemed to go down well.

I've gotten a few play throughs now but it was very interesting playing with the full complement of 7. I'd heard it was extremely difficult for a Creature win, but I managed to sneak with the win.

Definitely a favourite game for me of the last two months!

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6. Board Game: Dimension [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1838]
Board Game: Dimension
Georgina Dear
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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3 January 2017

I'm going to try to be better about updating this geeklist in 2017.

Because we didn't know the club was closing at 8pm until we got there, I ended up pulling out a couple of filler games I'd thrown in my bag.

Julie, Ed, Liam and I first played Dimension, a logic puzzle game with satisfyingly large wooden spheres. Six rule cards are randomly dealt onto the table -- with rules like white spheres must not be touching orange, there must be two blue spheres, and no sphere can be on top of black -- and players work to build a structure that matches as many rules as possible.

As this is essentially a multiplayer solitaire game, your enjoyment pretty much comes from how much you like logic puzzles. As I love them, I find this a blast.
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7. Board Game: COGZ [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:5872]
Board Game: COGZ
Georgina Dear
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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3 January 2017

Secondly, we played this quick and enjoyable path-building game. Players replace a tile in the shared tableau and score points based on how long the chains they make are, as well as a bonus for closing off a loop or having both ends run off the board. (What the game calls a 'mechanism'.) What makes the game work is that it uses the same scoring mechanic as Ingenious: you have four different scores, one for each colour, and your end score is the lowest of those four scores.

A solid filler with excellent production values.
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8. Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:45]
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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10 January 2017
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions


We arrived on the night to be told we would have to restrict ourselves to the tables in the lower bar area of the club, because the bistro was fully booked-out. The club had advertised a seafood special and were inundated with bookings, with all the tables fully occupied.

I counted 24 people in total, which a bit of a squeeze, but very cozy nonetheless with a range of games being played.

We started our first session with Ed's new copy of Mechs vs. Minions, a miniatures / programming game from the video game company - Riot Games.

First-up the game production is utterly astounding. The game comes in this huge box that is chock-a-block crammed with hundreds of little minion figures, all packed neatly into custom trays. Also included are fully painted Mech figurines, modular boards, tokens, and components that are of an amazing quality.

The game is a co-operative, campaign game, with various sets of scenarios in sealed envelopes, containing setups, cards, rules and fabulous artwork throughout.

Each player chooses a mech and their corresponding player boards and some special cards. The scenario we played saw us defending our home base from hordes (and I do mean HORDES) of marauding little minions that continually spawn onto the board - advancing relentlessly toward our home base. In order to win, we had to stomp, blast and kill hundreds of minions while trying to collect 3 tokens scattered from the field of play and return them home.

You do this by drafting various cards that allow you to program your mech. When you draft a card, you play it onto one of 6 spots on your programming board. You then run the programmed moves in sequence and destruction ensues. Actions can include, turning your mech, moving forward, shooting and stomping minions. The more minions you destroy, the more skills get revealed, giving you additional power-ups, but as the game progresses, the flood of minions continues to grow, threatening to constantly overwhelm you.
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions
Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions

To make matters even worse, whenever you end your turn next to a minion, the little buggers damage your mech, causing the programming to go haywire and ruining your plans. The damage can rearrange your programmed actions, stopping some from working, causing you to turn, etc. So on each round, you best laid plans can often go horribly awry as your mech turns in the wrong direction or you move into a place you didn't want to go. This can be both frustrating and hilarious.

I had all these grand plans to wade into a sea of approaching minions and lay waste to dozens, only to find myself turning into a corner and firing at nothing. Luckily, as a group, we all managed to somehow combine our actions together to achieve a victory, but one more turn would have seen our base invaded causing us to lose the game.

There's a real level of planning in determining which cards you want from the card draft - planning where to slot the instructions into your program, but you don't always get the cards you want, so you really have to rely on your team. Crushing and destroying all the minions and watching the mechs go astray is also enormous fun.

Overall, I really enjoyed the game. Setup and pack-up takes a while as there are just so many components, but once you get started turns are quick, and your actions are quite intuitive. The randomness of the minions and how they affect the game adds a real ebb and flow to the game. There are times when you feel like you're winning easily, only for the minions to rampage or your programming to go mad - leaving you overwhelmed. However, as random as the game is - there is solid level of balance, generally allowing you to claw your way back.

Surprisingly, the game is all done and dusted in a quick 60 mins, and with so many scenarios and variability, it certainly lends itself toward long-term replayability.

We only played the one, quite simple game, but it also comes with 10 separate scenarios and even a huge Boss Minion (whose mini is magnificent!), and since the scenarios aren't linear, you can play the them over and over again.

Simple, intuitive gameplay, lots of fun and destruction and with production values that are, frankly, phenomenal - Mech vs. Minions is a game worth looking out for - if you can get a copy. The price is around US$75, which is amazing value for money.

A totally enjoyable romp. 8/10 for this one.
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9. Board Game: Fabled Fruit [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:786]
Board Game: Fabled Fruit
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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10 January 2017
Board Game: Fabled Fruit


We then decided to try Ed's copy of Fabled Fruit, another of the "FF" series of games from Friedemann Friese. A 20-30 min worker placement, set collecting game that has a "legacy" element to the design.

The aim of the game is to collect one of the 5 various fruits (bananas, pineapples, strawberries, grapes or coconuts). You then play the various sets to make delicious fruit smoothies, collecting the card matching the smoothie. The first person to make 3 smoothies is the winner.

Each player is an animal and at the start of the game 6 sets of cards are laid-out in a tableau on the table. Each of these cards does something different - draw more cards, give and take cards from others. You place your little animal meeple on the card and perform the action of that card. If another animal meeple is already on the card, you have to pay that player a card.

As you collect the various smoothie cards, new sets of cards are introduced into the tableau, these new sets add different rules, so as the game progresses, sets of cards are taken away and new ones introduced, so the game constantly evolves and changes.

Turns are quick and decisions are light - you're aiming to optimise the sets of fruit cards, but other players can both help and hinder you. There is often an additional cost of placing your meeple on the same card as another player, so you're always looking for other options to get the cards you need.

At the end of the game, you can easily save the game state by bundling all the current cards together, allowing you to restore it for your next game - providing a legacy style of game play, with each game building upon the rules and cards from the previous ones.

The game comes with several hundred cards, so getting through the whole legacy deck is estimated to take 7-10 hours of gameplay. Even if you didn't want to do that, the game still works as a straight filler, or you could mix and match the sets to create a game that is vastly different to the previous one.

It was fun and worked well with 5 players. I'd suggest it would work best with larger groups. It was OK as a basic and quick filler, although I'm not sure there's enough there to really capture my attention, although I'd like to see what the other cards in the sets do before passing final judgement. 6.5/10 after one play.
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10. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:458]
Board Game: No Thanks!
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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10 January 2017

We then introduced Bruce's Scottish friend (forgotten his name again - I am terrible) to No Thanks. Not much more I can say about this game that hasn't already been said. We played two games in quick succession.

To me, this is one of THE classic filler games and one I will never turn down, even after hundreds of plays. So quick, so simple, so agonising and with laughs aplenty.
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11. Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:630]
Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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10 January 2017

We rounded-out the evening with a game of the delightful Deep Sea Adventure. For a game in such a tiny box, it really does capture the push your luck aspect so beautifully.

Surprisingly, despite all the greed, we all managed to survive the final dive - a rarity. Great game.
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12. Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures
Craig, Richard, Glenn and I, kicked off the night with a print and play Demo (The Elite) of Unlock!

The game is tagged as being an Escape the Room in a box, and I was pretty impressed with its ability to capture that experience.

With the tutorial game under our belt, we were confident we would be able to complete the mission in the allotted 60 minutes - unfortunately, things did not go to plan... as panic, confusion, tears and missed clues kicked in (all elements of escape rooms), time was running out and running out fast. While we did manage to solve all the puzzles, we had run out of time and failed that mission.

I'm in two minds on this game, while I enjoyed the experience and puzzling solving - I feel this game is very group dependant (much like an escape room) there is also couple elements that I think can be improved (abstracting the card numbers to avoid unconscious cheating).

I'm interested in playing through the other Unlock! games, so I'm giving it a 7/10 at this stage but that may change as the replay-ability is zero on these types of games - so it's going to need the right balance between price point and variety of new puzzles.




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13. Board Game: Oceanos [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1295]
Board Game: Oceanos
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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17 January 2017
Board Game: Oceanos


John and his son joined us and we started a game of Oceanos, a very simple set-collecting game form the designer of 7 Wonders.

The premise behind the game is that players are underwater explorers in their own little submarine, collecting fish and treasures form beneath the sea. Your collection comes from creating a tableau of cards that show fish, coral, treasure chests and crystals. Each of these elements scores you points in different ways and crystals help you upgrade your submarine, allowing to to collect more and progressively increase your score each round.

The First-up the components are drop-dead gorgeous. The artwork on the cards is beautiful, with cartoonish animals. The modular submarines are thick and clip together to allow different parts of the sub to be upgraded.

While the rules are big, glossy and very pretty, they aren't very clear, with information spread across different pages and a structure that doesn't really support the game flow. But once we got past that and clarified how the game worked, it all flowed quite smoothly. A couple of us missed adding extra cards to our first row due to an ovelooked rule, which probably would have changed the final outcome a little.

Although the components are lovely, the game does take-up a LOT of table space with each player having their own sub (plus extra bits) and each needs to display their own underwater tableau of 6 cards x 3 rows.

In the end, the scores were all quite close. I enjoyed the game as a light 30 minute family-friendly game, with simple decisions, but the card draw does make it very luck-dependent. Still, for what it is, I'm very happy to play it again, with the right audience.

6.5/10 for me after one game.
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14. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:96] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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17 January 2017

We rounded-out the evening with a few games of Codenames. John joined with his son and Richard and I combined, a grouping that has a lengthy history of disaster and one that was very likely to end in tears or howls of frustrated angst.

Amazingly, Richard and I managed to score two wins, although we did have a few hilarious moments. The most memorable being Richard providing the clue "Loxley" - hoping I would choose the obvious words "Robin" and "Hood", however, in my haste I failed to look across all the cards, selecting instead "Hood" and the adjacent "Bow", much to Richard's obvious dismay.
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15. Board Game: Don't Mess with Cthulhu [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2054]
Board Game: Don't Mess with Cthulhu
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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Microbadge: I love trick-taking gamesMicrobadge: The Crew: The Quest For Planet 9 fanMicrobadge: Board games keep me youngMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I design board games... poorly.
17 January 2017

Oh... In between Oceanos and Codenames we also played several games of Don't Mess with Cthulhu - a completely ludicrous game of hidden roles and guessing cards.

One win for the good guys, followed by a win for the Cultists. As a silly distraction, it's good fun. Just don't expect any depth.
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16. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:204]
Board Game: Glory to Rome
Lorenzo
Switzerland
Neuchâtel
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17/1/2017
Played with Jen, Liam, Tom and Daf.
Few palyers were new to the game but they managed to score a decent amount of points just by ... buiding
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17. Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1754]
Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches
Lorenzo
Switzerland
Neuchâtel
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Tried this game with Rob, Liam, Daff and Tom.
Interesting variation on the usual cube-rails system by Winsome Games. It quite family friendly though by adding some randomess through the goods cards.
I enjoyed it as a lighter version of Chicago Express.
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18. Board Game: Plums [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2447]
Board Game: Plums
Lorenzo
Switzerland
Neuchâtel
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Nice trick-taking game ... even if it's not actually based on taking tricks but more on building combination of cards
Really interesting tactical aspects are shown. I'll have to give another go to see how it develops.
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19. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2911]
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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Microbadge: I love trick-taking gamesMicrobadge: The Crew: The Quest For Planet 9 fanMicrobadge: Board games keep me youngMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I design board games... poorly.
24 January 2017

Richard and Lorenzo kindly agreed to try out the short prototype I had been working on the the last four days. Dean also joined for a second round.

The game was designed as an entry in the 9-card nano game contest here on the geek, where the restrictions are to design a nano game using a maximum of 9 cards, 9 dice and 9 tokens.

This game is a 3-player game about constructing simple equations using dice and cards, where a pool of 9 dice are rolled and on a turn, the player chooses one die and the player to their left chooses a card to go adjacent to the die.

Eventually each player will have a combination of die - card - die - card - die - card, forming a simple equation. i.e. 6(d) + 4(c) / 2(d) + 1(c) x 2(d) -1(c) with the final die value in the equation coming from the first die from the player to your right.

The winner of the round is the player with the second highest equation - just to stop one person getting a big score. Which means you have to consider what the other two players are scoring throughout the whole game. The winning player collects a token. Rounds rotate clockwise until one player gets 3 tokens and wins.

Considering I've been working on the game for around 4 days, I was happy that mechanically it worked OK, but definitely needs more work to make it "enjoyable", which it isn't at the moment. Essentially, the last few turns devolve into an exercise where players spend time calculating the possible end-game scores, which led to quite a bit of AP and not much fun.

Too early to tell if it will be viable, but I still enjoy the creative exercise of game design (even if I'm not very good at it), and I'm more than thankful for people playing the game and providing their insights and feedback. And I did get quite a few fresh ideas during the session and a lot more things to explore. If those ideas go somewhere - all good. If not, they may help me in designing another game?
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20. Board Game: Knit Wit [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:4171]
Board Game: Knit Wit
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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Microbadge: I love trick-taking gamesMicrobadge: The Crew: The Quest For Planet 9 fanMicrobadge: Board games keep me youngMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I design board games... poorly.
24 January 2017
Board Game: Knit Wit


David and Kim? (again I am hopeless at remembering names) joined John, Elliott and I for a game of Knit Wit - a party-style, word game from Matt Leacock the designer of Pandemic.

the game has a few interesting design elements. Players all start with a numbered wooden spool and a loop of coloured twine with a clothes peg attached to the end. Players also pull a random word out of a small box and secretly attach it to the peg.

Each player on their turn lays their loop of twine on the table to encompass a numbered spool, they then place their spool within a loop. As each player repeats the same action, the loops form a series of Venn Diagrams and the spools intersect with one or more loops.

Players simultaneously reveal their words and everyone races to think of words, names, or phrases for each spool based on the word tags associated with that spool. If a spool has three loops around it, for example, it has three words associated with it, and your answer must relate to those words in some manner.

Everyone secretly writes their words on a pad and the player who finishes first collects a 4 point token, second collects a 3 point token, etc. When the last token is gone, the round ends.

Players then go through the list and announce the words they chose - scoring a point for each spool in the loop. The group decides whether the words are valid - this can be quite subjective as always happens with these types of games involving individual or group judgement.

If two players select the same word, then neither scores - sometimes it is clear but can also be quite subjective around which words are similar.

The components in the game are really good. The spools are solid wood, the twine loops are brightly coloured and easy to differentiate, even the little tags are nicely printed and clear. The score pads are black and you use white pencils to write on them, but each is a throw-away from a pad, which I find a tad wasteful.

Unfortunately, the loops aren't always easy to see on the table because of the messiness of the flexible loops. You spend a lot of time trying to determine which spools fit into which loops. I also didn't like the subjectiveness in deciding whether a word was valid or not.

An so-so party game for me - OK, but there are far better ones around. All-up a 6/10 for me.
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21. Board Game: Fuji Flush [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1900]
Board Game: Fuji Flush
We finished the night with a few games of 6 and 7 player Fuji Flush.
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22. Board Game: AquaSphere [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:474]
Board Game: AquaSphere
7/2/2017 - Dean, Sonya, Liam and I.

My favourite Stefan Feld game.

On the surface it is such a simple game: you either program a bot or use a bot you've previously programmed to do the action.

Why does a game which tortures you so much, keep me coming back for more?

It is a game about being imprisoned in a Chinese sliding puzzle and trying to work out a way through the puzzle to accomplish what you need to (not really but can feel like it).

Will always play - one of my few 10s.

Sonya managed a win by 1 point.

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23. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:204]
Board Game: Glory to Rome
Lorenzo
Switzerland
Neuchâtel
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7/2/2017
Another match with Ed, Dwayne and I
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24. Board Game: Paris Connection [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1547]
Board Game: Paris Connection
Lorenzo
Switzerland
Neuchâtel
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7/2/2017
We played it with 5 players two times.
The game is really simple, 1 page of rules, and lasts for about 30 minutes. Still, it presents intriguing tactical choices

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25. Board Game: Codenames: Pictures [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:325] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
 Missing Image
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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Microbadge: I love trick-taking gamesMicrobadge: The Crew: The Quest For Planet 9 fanMicrobadge: Board games keep me youngMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I design board games... poorly.
14 February 2017

We started out the evening with a few quick games of Codenames: Pictures.

I do find this game much, much easier than the word version because you are free to use any word you choose (unlike the text version that limits possible word) and you have fewer cards to consider (4 x 5 grid as opposed to 5 x 5).

The game still plays the same way, but the pictures do have a real Dixit type feel to them with multiple elements being portrayed, making it easy to overlook small details, this can also be hampered by the orientation of the cards - upside down, some pictures look quite different.

Still, it is a very enjoyable filler.
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