Northside Gamers - Games played in 2018 and onwards
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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Continuing on from our original 2016 and 2017 Games Played Geeklists.

Below is a list of games played at Northside Gamers in 2018.

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: The Pursuit of Happiness [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:672]
Board Game: The Pursuit of Happiness
Glenn L
Australia
Sydney
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Played on 9/01/18 with 2 others.

Apparently 3 players is the sweet spot. Had a great time, laughs were a plenty as we all had a chance to attempt some what if scenarios if we were to make different choices in life.

My strategy of finding a partner that provided lots of money to sustain my life of lavish living paved my way to close victory. (no reflection of real life on my part)
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2. Board Game: 5-Minute Dungeon [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:772]
Board Game: 5-Minute Dungeon
Glenn L
Australia
Sydney
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Played on 9/01/17

5 Players worked together to defeat a dungeon and boss in 5 minutes real time. Great filler or warm up game to get the excitement going.
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3. Board Game: Concordia: Salsa [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked]
Board Game: Concordia: Salsa
John R
Australia
Chatswood
NSW
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It's all about getting lots of cities and then having lots of "scoring multiplier cards" to make them worthwhile.
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4. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:51] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Board Game: Azul
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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16 January 2018

Clive, Ulf and I kicked-off the evening with a game of Azul - a beautiful abstract, tile-drafting and placement game, with the unusual theme of placing tiles on a wall of a palace.

Loving each play more and more. What on the surface looks deceptively simple, reveals a surprising amount of depth as you try to draft the best tiles to form connected patterns that progressively score you more points.

You really do have to watch what your opponents are doing because there are opportunities for quite a bit of screwage - denying tiles or forcing opponents to take tiles they can't use, leading to negative points.

Lovely solid tiles and components, well produced, quick (30-40 mins), plays 2-4 equally well, quick to learn and very accessible.

Clive trounced us with 63 points to my 52 with Ulf on 50. Very enjoyable!

A solid 8/10 for me.
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5. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:47]
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia
16/1/18 - Ricky, Black Gary, Blue Gary, me.

Just managed to finish our game of Clan ... play was a little slower this week than our previous game where we finished before 9:30pm.

Ricky won with a load of processed goods at the end of the game. I got lucky with a large number of high scoring tobacco contracts however completely stuffed my end-game settlements scoring.

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6. Board Game: Red November [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:1906]
Board Game: Red November
JordsAU
Australia
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09 Jan 2018

Arriving an hour early, I jumped in with a group of four others playing Red November (or R3d N*v3mb3r).

The gameplay went for almost 3 hours (longer than expected) but we ended up winning (apparently this was a rare feat!).

The fewer players you have, the shorter the game time.
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7. Board Game: Sunflower Valley [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:4764]
Board Game: Sunflower Valley
JordsAU
Australia
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16 Jan 2018
~60 minutes
5 players
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8. Board Game: Harvest [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2377]
Board Game: Harvest
JordsAU
Australia
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16 Jan 2018
~60 minutes
4 players + 1 Game Master
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9. Board Game: Sagrada [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:151]
Board Game: Sagrada
JordsAU
Australia
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23 Jan 2018
~45 minutes
4 players
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10. Board Game: Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1814]
Board Game: Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama
JordsAU
Australia
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23 Jan 2018
~45 minutes
5 players
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11. Board Game: Khan of Khans [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:11173]
Board Game: Khan of Khans
JordsAU
Australia
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23 Jan 2018
~30 minutes
5 players

High degree of random luck involved throughout the game, also when drawing your special ability at the start of the game. Fast gameplay once we got going but we were underwhelmed by the end. Could be more enjoyed by a younger audience.
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12. Board Game: Lotus [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1596]
Board Game: Lotus
JordsAU
Australia
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23 Jan 2018
~45 minutes
3 players
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13. Board Game: Clank! In! Space!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:109] [Average Rating:7.86 Unranked]
Board Game: Clank! In! Space!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Gary Chen
Australia
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Deck building, push your luck game with a modular board.

Personally I really dig the Sci-Fi theme.
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14. Board Game: Civilization: A New Dawn [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:649]
Board Game: Civilization: A New Dawn
30/1/17 - Gary, Daryl, Herry & I

I don't feel this is really a Sid Meier's Civilization game despite the title - it's a medium-light Civ-themed euro with Civ PC game artwork. It has a good central mechanic where you have five actions card slots from slot 1 (weakest) to slot 5 (strongest) - any time you activate a an action card (build city/wonder OR expand control OR trade OR upgrade tech [i.e., action cards] OR military) it gets reset back to slot 1 and all the cards to the left move up.

One definite positive for the game is that it plays in under 2 hours. You are trying to be the first player to achieve 3 or 4 goals (the game says to play with 3 goals by default with a "epic" variat of 4 goals; however I'd suggest that the "epic" variant should be norm unless you are explicitly looking for a short game). We finished our 4 player "epic" game by 9:30.

I feel this game needs an expansion before it feels complete in terms of decent replayability (which being FFG will most certainly happen). There is currently no variety in wonders, action cards or end-game goals.

A 7 /10 for me.

Board Game: Civilization: A New Dawn
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15. Board Game: The Golden Ages [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1006]
Board Game: The Golden Ages
6/2/18 Herry, Martin & I

This is probably my favorite Civ game. I feel that it gives a real sense of increasing exploration of the world at the start (from small beginnings), and steady technological improvement of you civilisation(s).

We played with the Cults and Cultures expansion which adds a lot more flexibility in what you can do although does add to the play time. I did however remove all the Cults (Religion) cards which I feel just adds unnecessary fiddliness and additional mechanisms.

I think this game has a few very good design choices. E.g. when you pass for an Era, then whenever it comes around to your turn again then you simply get free 2 coins (and money can be tight in the game), which stops the Eras from stretching on as people become wary of giving you too much money for free.

The main downside is the art which IMO is functional but fugly. When Stronghold reprinted it they even managed to somehow make the box art even more ugly.

Board Game: The Golden Ages: Cults & Culture


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From gallery of BoardGameGeek
A quick round up of some of the games I saw played last week.

- Concordia
- Diamonds
- Paperback
- Century: Golem Edition (x2 tables)
- Nmbr 9 (x2 tables)
- Habitats
- and another table which I can't remember, Gaia perhaps?
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17. Board Game: Near and Far [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:159] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Board Game: Near and Far
Last week's games included mainly longer games:
- Near and Far
- Clans of Caledonia (x2 tables)
(can't remember what else there was)
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18. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1024] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
Board Game: Guildhall
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.
6 March 2018

With the group spending too much time fiddling around discussing which games to play. Chris, John and I sat down to a game of Guildhall - a light set collecting game I had not played before.

Play cards, activate actions, steal cards, collect cards and build them into a tableau. When you've collected a set, cash them in for victory points.

It does take a few rounds to understand the actions performed by each card and the effects that can be chained from those actions, but I did finally grasp some of the strategies, it and the game flowed quite well, although I can see it being a little AP prone, as you need to assess other player's tableaus (tableaux?) to stop them collecting their sets too.

John got off to a flying start, Chris was slow out of the blocks with me languishing in the rear. In the end, John won, with Chris closely behind and me miles away.

An interesting little game, that has lost of options and ways to chain effects, a bit of take that, but nothing too nasty. One I'd definitely like to try again, now I know what the cards do.

7/10 for me.
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19. Board Game: Q.E. [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:3688]
Board Game: Q.E.
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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6 March 2018

We then decided to try my copy of Q.E. (Quantitive Easing), a pure auction game where players are nations printing money and buying various companies, which score points when purchased and contribute toward end score by collecting different types of industries.

Each round, one player presents a company for sale - the company is a combination of one industry (aeronautics, railways, car manufacturing or banks), a country of origin and a VP value (between 1 and 4).

The player presenting the industry sets an opening value and all other players secretly bid to buy the company - secretly writing their bid on a lacquered wooden token and giving to to the player offering. The highest bid wins the auction and the amount bid is secretly written on the back of the company token, so only the seller and buyer know exactly how much was paid. If all bids were below the initial price, the player offering must buy the industry themselves, which leads to some interesting decisions around valuation.

There are 4 rounds of 4 auctions each, making 16 total auctions, and once per round a player may submit a zero dollar bid. Doing so they gain 2 VP immediately.

At the end of 16 rounds, players total-up all the money they spent buying industries and the player who spent the most has bankrupted their country and is eliminated from the game, so you have to be very careful not to overspend. The player who spent the least is also rewarded with 6 VP - a substantial amount.

And all this is the really fascinating part of the game, spending enough money to buy industries you need to score victory points, but not spending too much to wipe you from the game. This leads to some confounding decisions and tension, as you try to determine not only how much you are willing to spend, but also outguess how much your opponents really want that industry to complete their sets.

The other intriguing part of the game is the value set int he very first auction - the amount chose can effectively be anything. Th rules do suggest $10 as a starting price, but it could be $5 or $200 - and this initial creates the range for all the auctions throughout the entire game. This initial value really sets the scene for some tense play and invokes a LOT of post-game analysis and discussion - always the sign of a great game in my mind. Afterwards, we must have chatted for almost 20 minutes about the auction.

I had only played the game previously with 4 players and the rules did say it could be played with 3, with a few minor variations (5 rounds of 3 auctions). As was revealed in the game last night, 3 players just isn't sufficient to generate the necessary pressure needed for the auctions. With 4 players, interaction increases and your choices become a lot more tense and exciting.

The game itself is beautiful, a hand-crafted, heavy, solid wooden board, handmade laminated wooden tokens, matching whiteboard markers and erasers. The designer only makes a very limited number of games every year, for sale almost exclusively at Essen , and they commonly sell out in minutes, so I was very fortunate a gaming buddy was able to grab me a copy last year. It is a real collector's item.

We all agreed, this particular session felt a little flat, so I'd say it really only works with 4 players.

In the end, Chris spent too much money and bankrupted his country. John managed to sneak ahead 42 points to my 36. The 6 point bonus for spending the least put him ahead, but apart from that, the scores would have been very close, and likely even closer with 4 players.
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20. Board Game: Chronicles of Crime [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:148]
Board Game: Chronicles of Crime
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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13 March 2018

Patrick, Chris, Dean and I launched into the first scenario of Chronicles of Crime, a co-op, deduction, story-telling game in the vein of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, where players must work together to solve a crime.

I downloaded the PnP components form the publisher's site, to give it a run, since I has already pledged for a copy on Kickstarter.

The first scenario is set in modern London, where players are detectives, sent to the scene of a murder. Players have a limited time to examine the crime scene for clues, interrogate witnesses, consult with experts, travel to different locations, piecing together the motive and method behind the crime, eventually arresting a suspect and outlining the case to their boss.

Where SHCD relies on looking-up sections in a book, and handling items, all these tasks are handled by a smartphone app, using QR codes. To visit a location, scan the QR code for that spot to travel there. The story tells you which people are present at the location and which items you can examine.

When examining the crime scene, you are presented with a 3-dimensional VR display. You have 45 seconds to look around the scene. The app allows for the use of 3D glasses (supplied later in the KS), or you can navigate by moving your phone around or swiping. This part is quite clever, but you do have to look closely to see all the clues.

External image


The investigator should explain out loud to the group what they are seeing. The other players can then try to find items from a series of generic cards - items that could be potential clues. The item cards themselves have been largely abstracted, to allow their re-use in later scenarios. Similarly with the people, each of which are re-usable in later stories.

While at a location, scan the QR code for a person to speak with them, you can ask them about another person or an item by scanning the corresponding QR code. Generally the person will reveal additional information to help you progress the case, like; other locations, other characters, other items.

Players also have access to specialist characters (Criminologist, Doctor, Hacker, and Forensic Scientists). You may consult with these characters and ask them to examine bodies, search for information about suspects, analyse items and reveal possible motives.

Each time you perform an action, the app tracks time. Talking to a witness or examining an item, takes 5 minutes. Travelling to another location takes 20 minutes. Time is precious and circumstances may change, for example, the suspect you may want to interview at a pub, may only be there at night, so going there in the day will simply waste time.

The components are artwork are fantastic and very evocative. The design choice to make items and characters abstracted means the same characters can be used over and over again in totally different scenarios. The base game comes with 5 basic scenarios, each around 60-90 mins each. While each scenario is a once-thru, new scenarios can easily be deployed using the app, without the need to produce a whole game. The publisher has already stated that they intend to release new scenarios in the app store for around $1-2 each, which gives the game a lot of longevity, and they have already attracted a lot established writers to design fresh stories.

The session we played last night was part 1 of a 5-part overarching storyline.

Once you think you've solved the case, you return to the police station and choose the option to "solve the case". You are asked a series of questions to confirm your hypothesis and gain a score for each element you got correct. You also get a score for the speed in which you solved the case. There is an ultimate time-limit, but solving it earlier will get you a higher overall score.

For us, where the game fell down a lot was the flakiness of the QR codes. I don't know if my printer wasn't clear enough or whether it was the software, but we did find ourselves being frustrated with the scanning the QR codes. Often the app would not focus cleanly, which added an unnecessary delay while every else sat around waiting for the code to scan.

Unlike SHCD, where players have journals, newspapers and items to examine during play, in CoC, one person scanned items while everyone else waited for the info. When the info displayed, it had to be read-out to the group, for them to then make a decision. Having a voice artist play the part of the characters or read the clues out loud would be ideal, but I can see this adding to the cost of the overall game. It would also be more costly for different languages, so I suspect it may not happen, but we can hope. Chris suggested an iPad or larger tablet may work better in allowing everyone to see the information, rather than relying on one person on their phone.

There are also lots of ways to unnecessarily waste time. Not every item or character will reveal useful information, so you have to be selective in which items you examine or people you talk to, but thorough enough that you don't miss valuable clues.

Board Game: Chronicles of Crime


In our session we missed several items at the crime scene that could have led us to the offender more quickly, but we still got there by going down a more circuitous route.

In the end, we did manage to solve the crime, we correctly identified the offender, the motive behind the crime, the evidence that underpinned the case and we did it within the timeframe, but we didn't correctly identify the weapon, which lost us a few points overall.

At its core, I thought the concept worked well, and I applaud the use of an app to handle much of the lookups. I really love the idea of delivering updated scenarios via the app in a cost-effective and efficient manner. For me, piecing together the story-line was quite compelling, but the game was let down by the flakiness of the scanning and the lack of things to examine outside the app.

Patrick lost interest half-way through and we were all getting a little testy with all the scanning and dead-ends. We did reach a few points where we found it difficult to progress, but all-up, we did manage to get 95% of the way there. I particularly liked the time-pressure, even though we did waste time speculatively checking things.

This is not a game for everyone, but I rather enjoyed it, and I can see it working well with my family and friends. If the developers can improve the scanning, that will help a LOT. The KS project also includes several expansions for a Noir detective storyline and some "Stranger Things" type scenarios. The potential for even more stories is enormous and delivering them for a few bucks is a huge seller.

7/10 for me and happy I backed this Kickstarter.
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21. Board Game: Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1814]
Board Game: Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama
Craig Somerton
Australia
Invergowrie (Armidale)
NSW
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13 March 2018.

We then played Dean's copy of Kokoro - a re-implementation of Avenue with dry erase boards rather than throw-away paper sheets.

Same gameplay, reveal a card and all players simultaneously draw the matching line on to the board, each hoping they will be able to chain the line together as turns progress.

In this particular game we had a terrible draw, with repeated 3's and 4's all coming-out in the one round, making it quite difficult to assess where to best place the lines.

In the end Patrick trounced us all comfortably, garnering some big scores thanks to his variously connected paths across several rounds.

The card draw can can be a little luck dependent, although everyone has the same board layout and is equally affected by the draw, so nobody is likely to be badly disadvantaged, apart from their own decisions.

A light diversion that I quite enjoy, although not quite as much as other roll n write games like Qwixx or Qwinto.
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22. Board Game: Q.E. [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:3688]
Board Game: Q.E.
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.
13 March 2018.

We rounded-out the evening with a 4-player game of Q.E. which delivered a much better result than the previous week's 3-player session.

This time, the core design came to the fore and we all got into the swing of the auctions quickly, with some very strategic bids being placed along with quite a few laughs, groans, much indecision and a lot of taunting.

In the end Dean spent too much and bankrupted his nation. Patrick spent less than everyone else and the 6 point bonus was enough to sneak ahead for a win over me and Chris.

Much discussion ensued post-game - always a sign of a good game in my book.
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23. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:11]
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Gary Chen
Australia
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20/3/18

3 players (With Patrick and Chris)
~2 hours with rules explanation

Personally I enjoyed it a lot, and we had a lengthy discussion afterwards, which showed that it's worthy of another play.
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24. Board Game: Yedo [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:656]
Board Game: Yedo
20/3/18 - Dean, Darryl, John, & I.

This is a beautiful looking game with a great theme. You are playing Samurai/Yakuza clans in feudel Japan. You are trying to win favour with the Shogun and also further your clans power and fortune through completing various (well-described) Kidnapping, Espionage, THeft, Assasination & Warfare missions of differing difficulty.

Game-wise it's similar to a more thematic but also mechanically embelished version of Lords of Waterdeep. The main aspect of the game is worker placement but there are quite a few other mechanisms as well.

- There is an auction which occurs at the start of each round where each person will get one benefit which usually costs less, has more choice and doesn't use a worker compared to the main part of the round.
- There is the Watch Guard moving through the town and you need to careful not to place your workers ("Disciples") where the Guard ends up or they will be arrested. The interesting part here is that people may play cards to make the Guard not move or move twice and so that it doesn't always end up where you originally thought it would (usually someone placing a worker in the location where the Watch Guard is nominally going to move to is a good indication that funny business will occur).
- You are also trying to pickup the weapons you need for the uncompleted missions you have (but can only hold 4 of the 8 possible weapon types at any time).
- Each mission has a basic requirement (and reward) and a bonus requirement and reward. You normally really want to get the bonus reward but sometimes you just need to complete the basic mission because you are short of cash (or the bonus is just too hard).
- You can trade items with other players if you both have Disciples at the two trading districts.
- Money is very tight and you need to balance completing missions for money or end-game VPs.
- The game has lots of ways to look at and reorder the top three cards in each draw deck so that you can maximise the chance of getting the best card when you draw from it on you rnext worker or seeing how worthwhile it will be to bid on the deck during the next auction.
- A random event is also drawn each round to mix things up.

So lots to think about and lots of potential clever action combos. And also lots of possibilities that can stuff up your plans and so you need to remain a bit flexible.

Board Game: Yedo


I believe everyone enjoyed it.

The short game version is 8 rounds. We would have finished this comfortably although we decided to push for one more round and so only just finished at 10pm.

I'll bring this again next week.

Preliminary rating is 8/10.
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25. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:51] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Board Game: Azul
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.
20 March 2018

Ulf, Jed and I were joined by a new member Kristy (Christie?) and we kicked-off the evening with a friendly game of Azul.

Everyone was fairly nice in this session and nobody got screwed with too many negative points.

Jed won quite convincingly.

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