Recent gaming: Noch Mal!, AbluXXen Duell, Port Royal Unterwegs, 7 Wonders, King of Tokyo, Fünf Gurken, Timeline Diversity
Mark Johnson
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January 1-8, 2017

First list of 2017! It was a good week, and I hope that portends well for the entire year. I'm going to try shifting back to weekly lists to see how that goes. Sometimes there may not be much, but this isn't one of those times. I'm also bending my rules for inclusion (see Noch Mal!, below) that will bother some...but hopefully you'll understand my point.

-Mark


My recent gaming geeklists (2017)
Boardgames To Go podcast, Season 13 (coming soon!)
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1. Board Game: Encore! [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1015]
Board Game: Encore!
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
California
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It's the old argument about keeping boardgame stats--do you only include "real" games across a table, against your real friends & opponents...or any time you play the game? The obviously correct answer is that you can do what you want. The stats are for the individual gamer, they don't "belong" to the hobby. What are you trying to measure? In my case, I've decided that I'm measuring my quality gaming time. For 2017, that's going to include games played online with a friend. The other day I went on Skype, called up Dave Arnott, and we "met" online at Brettspielwelt where he taught me this new Essen title. Especially while I'm away from home for a year, I decided that felt as real as any boardgame played across a table. I'm counting it. Games played against an AI don't feel the same, and neither do ones played against real people who are random strangers--they might as well be bots, for the experience it provides.



So what about Noch Mal! ? I liked it quite a bit. The 2-dimensional spatial play and blackout scoring made it feel different enough from other dice games it might be compared to. The nice interface helped make the scoring a breeze.
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2. Board Game: Abluxxen: Sonderkarten / Duell [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Abluxxen: Sonderkarten / Duell
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
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After the dice game, Dave suggested we pop over to a different virtual table and play the Duell 2-player variant of AbluXXen. I was trounced, but had a great time playing. I liked AbluXXen from the get-go, and I end to like clever card games (more than my usual group of gamers). Dave a shark of a boardgamer, and with card games even more so. He's not cruel about it, though--just the opposite. He really wants his opponents to geek out on the cleverness built into the card game, and this fits the bill. I really enjoyed it and plan to play some more with him.
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3. Board Game: Port Royal: Unterwegs! [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:4590] [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked]
Board Game: Port Royal: Unterwegs!
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
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Ok, we're back to the land of face-to-face boardgaming, so anyone who disagrees with my inclusion of the above titles can come back to the conversation. This was a new Essen title, one I picked up in-person at the Spiel last October. This was my first chance to play. We had 4 players at the Light/Short game group in Paris, and all but my wife had played Port Royal before. Some of the cards in this set can be used in the original game, but it also functions as a standalone introductory game. If you thought Port Royal didn't NEED an introductory version...I think you're right. It's ok as-is, but I missed playing the full game (which I also have with me).

The new cards aren't must-have additions for the original game, but I'm eager to see them in action.
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4. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:58]
Board Game: 7 Wonders
Mark Johnson
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Another game at with the Light/Short group. This would be about the biggest sort of game we'd try there. We had four players, and I was the only one who'd played before. No expansions. I did my best with the rules and we jumped in. Fortunately the other players were cool with just playing and seeing how the scoring worked near the end. It was a useful learning game, in that regard. They saw how many points I appeared to be having in blue cards, but didn't realize how points were racking up in others' military (red) and science (green) categories. Hope we get to try again. I've always liked this one, though it's best if you can sort of "visualize" the civilization boardgame that isn't there, rather than just thinking of it as a card game.
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5. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:306]
Board Game: King of Tokyo
Mark Johnson
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I bumped this up a star because our game was so smooth, it could be done while half the players were talking more than paying attention. We all rolled an incredible number of points, and before we knew it the game was over, with Olivier winning after barely entering Tokyo. As a strategic experience that may have been underwhelming. As a game night title, though, it hit the spot.
 
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6. Board Game: Timeline: Diversity [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1192] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Board Game: Timeline: Diversity
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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Always such a crowd pleaser. This was our 4th(!) game of the night for the Light/Short group, a new record. It was a perfect closer, being super easy to explain & play. More of a trivia/party style game. Cards were in French, which was do-able.
 
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7. Board Game: Five Cucumbers [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:5180]
Board Game: Five Cucumbers
Mark Johnson
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Before the others arrived at Light/Short game night, Candy & I played this other acquisition from Essen. I just got it, even though it had been around for several years. It's the sort of game that seems so light it's pointless...and then you think maybe there's something more there. I do, anyway. Would like to explore more, and the fact that it works well for 2 is promising.
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