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Josh's 2017 gaming sessions

 
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:52 am    Post subject: Josh's 2017 gaming sessions Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Unless this year goes very differently than I expect, this is going to be board /cardgame session reports and short musings. Because I want to log a bunch of this stuff and BGG session is just not a place where I can be honest about my feelings on some things:

Jan 1st - before bed.

(just me and Darcy)
Played Hanabi with Darcy's spiffy new Deluxe set. Got one point short of perfect (base game). Deluxe set allowing using tile placement, orientation or just minor note taking behind tiles makes game much much easier than holding cards on head Indian-poker style.

Pack-o-Game BUS (first time playing) The explanation was a bit rough, and understanding the "progress area: was a bit rough even with the series's wonderful 3-minute Youtube video instructions. Once we figured the game out, it was love. It's is a wonderful microgame that distills the pick-up-and deliver genre down to its purest essectials. Darcy lost handily, by making the mistake of taking her first pickup card from the facedown stack and getting one that had the slowest speed. While in general those are compensated by having the highest point value, getting it first really did not let her make additional pickups or positional moves anywhere near fast enough to catch up with my more midrange early cards.

Jan 1st : New Years Day LONG GAME day
(started with mild hangover, fixed with much much caffeine and a couple aspirin)

Lex and Cynthia and their roomate Jeff hosting. Ted, Kaitlyn and myself attending to play the 1979 Avalon Hill DUNE. :sandwormshouldbeanemote:



This 70s gamer game design is good-old honest Ameritrash from the age when that's what all games aspired to be. I was thrilled in the way a car enthusiast might be thrilled getting to drive an original model T. This is awesome, but there are so very many reasons why nobody designs games anything like this nowadays.

After slightly more than an hour of rules explanation, the game lasted just under eight hours of actual play. The factions were (Lex) Benegesirit, (Cynthia) Atraides, (Jeff) Fremin, (Ted) Emporor, (Kaitlyn) Spacer's Guild, (Me) Harkonnen, with myself and Lex pulling an allied victory on turn 10.




The game is really notable in that follows neither the "one player slowly snowballs to an insurmountable advantage" nor the "everyone slowly loses in a war of attrition" paradigms . Each player is very likely to experience majors ups and downs, but at your peak you are going to run up against the game's hard limits to the number of troops you can have, and/or the number of cards you can hold, and/or your movement making it very hard to seal a win. Conversely, even if you loses absolutely everything you will still collect income and regenerate troops each turn - meaning that inside 3 turns of catastrophic losses you are likely to be able to use reinforcements from space to make a grab for one of the victory condition regions that has been weakened due to other players fighting over it. It's not a game with an arc of progress - it's a game of getting the necessary cockblocking done to prevent anyone else from winning until luck or the misplays of others hands you opportunities.

Three of the factions have additional victory conditions. The two which are basically just stalling to drag the game to maximum length are not interesting, but the Bene-gesserit condition of being able to steal a win by having correctly predicted who is going to win and on what turn is pretty interesting and maybe worth using as a seed for more modern designs.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Jan 3rd - Lex and Cynthia's regular tuesday game night

Arcane Academy

This is the first time I taught the game to Lex's and Cynthia. Also playing are Kaitlyn and myself. I win, between the strength of my prior experience and what I suspect is a notable first player advantage. I trigger Pencils Down with Rod of Psychomancy in play - guaranteeing myself the final two turns of the game with more assignments already completed than anyone else. However all my assignments are low-point, so I only beat Lex by 1 point due to his Synchronistic Sculpture.

Design wise, Arcane Academy is the entirety of my "Best of 2016" list. It has flaws with first-player advantage and it being too easy for a given play of the game to have a runaway leader (especially at the max player count of 4). But I only played three games in 2016 which had 2016 publication dates, and Arcane Academy is way more fun than Agility, more to my own tastes than Secret Hitler and doesn't require tens of thousands of words to list all its flaws the way Codex does.

Check this one out if you get the chance.

Scotland Yard

The four from the prior game and joined by Mike and a young woman whose name I really ought to remember, but don't. Mike takes the role of Mister X, despite the set having lost the spiffy Mister X visor. The rest of us play the police detectives chasing him around London. He makes do with a notably undersized, yet sufficiently brimmed hat. The game comes down to a pair of 50/50 guesses in the final two turns. We win the one we have to make on the very last possible move of the game for a police victory.
Design wise, I really do not understand why the game has the detectives making two moves before the first reveal - since they are making the first move totally blind and the 2nd move with just a single mode-of-transit clue, that feels a whole lot like wasting everyone's time.

Codenames: played twice

Mike and whatshername have to leave due to day jobs, but Darcy has now arrived. We play two rounds of 5-player count Codenames with one guesser playing on both teams. I lose the first one, where I am guessing because I cannot for the life of me remember the name of any of Fiona Apple's music on the relevant clue. I win the one where I am Codemaster despite playing very conservatively, giving no more than a 2 clue on any round.

I don't want to say that I hate this game, but I am really getting sick of how much of it I have played. Also, the teams with a codemaster and multiple guessers format means that unless you have someone playing both sides like we did, it basically takes at least 6 players and that big a group starts to feel crowded to me. I am really glad Vlaada finally has a mass-market crossover hit -- but this one is far from his best work.

Evolution:

Finishing out the night, Kaitlyn, Lex, Cynthia and myself play a four-player game of Evolution (2014 printing, base set only). Lex is the reigning World Champion at this game He got a plaque and everything, and Kaitlyn was itching for some payback after she lost horribly in her learning-the-ropes game. Kaitlyn gets a Carnivore out early while everyone else turtles up - Cythia using Defensive herding and maxing population, Lex just maxing Body Size on a critter with Fatty Tissue and myself using Horns on my first species and Hard Shell on my second. Kaitlyn is forced to spend three turns eating her own new species -- but having the only Carnivore on the board, she is able to play additional species without needing defensive traits and gets ahead on card draw.
Lex pulls a nice transition evolving his max-size for Fatty Tissue critter into a big Carnivore which gains Intelligence at the same time. But it's still not enough and he comes in last. Despite an impressive final turn where I manage to eat over a dozen food, I merely tie for second and Kaitlyn pulls out the win. Card ratios matter folks.

Design wise, I am liking this game more and more each time I play it. Things that appear brokenly good in one game have counter-strategies and even sometimes are just irrelevant due to different board states in different plays.

Here's a link to me rules-arguing with other Denners about it a year ago
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Weds Jan 5th - City of Play Pub Games night at Hambones:

Stellar Conflict with Greg and Kevin?

I got this for Xmas and have been eager to give it a try. It's a game that uses harsh real time limits to simulate speed-of-light outer space combat. You will have 30 seconds, 60 seconds or 2 whole minutes (depending on size of fleets) to place all you ships and then you trace where all the lasers go in ship speed order. Unfortunately the pre-game drafting and post game scoring round do a lot to detract from it feeling *fast*. This game very much needs to provide default/ first-game fleet lists for each of the point-value games. It also probably needs to ditch the variable fleet powers and about half of the initiative count numbers in the interest of speed of play. Still a cool little filler game.

Played twice, won the first game and got crushed the second.

Captain Sonar

Adam (founder of City of Play) was very eager to play this, so he grabbed the big table and hard-sold it to get recruits.

This is a real-time team on team game of submarine combat. It is very reminiscent of Space Cadets: Dice Duel, in that they are real time crewed vehicle combat games where each crew member has an assigned role to perform. This one does not use dice but instead uses hidden information and requiring movement to charge up systems, but each move also ticks of a potential damage box for the engineer and is also broadcast to the opposing radio technician, eventually allowing them to figure your location and hit you with torpedoes and mines.

Played two games, one 3 on 3 and one 3 on 4. Adam, Myself and Greg were the three team. Dave and Kaitlyn and 2 others I forget were on the other team. We won both games - probably due to Adam's greater experience as he captained our sub. The first win was due to the opposing team misplay where they moved in a way that caused them to suffer their own last point of damage, the second when we were able to correctly identify their position for a torpedo strike just as they had surfaced for repairs and hit them, and then we managed to charge/reload a second torpedo before they could dive and move again. This was a lot of fun, but a bit more frantic and larger player count than my usual cup of tea. The hope is that at some point Adam can use this connections of his spiffy non-profit he's grown from a couple of geeks in the back room to an actual organization with full time staff to manage to run a few sessions of this at the Carneige Science Center's actual ww2 submarine at a future event.

Lords of Vegas

The third game in the Lord trilogy began with Lord of the Rings and Lords of Waterdeep, this one is about running casinos in Las Vegas. It has similar adjacent-real estate mechanics to Acquire, but adds Cataan-ish random payouts for colors and a whole lot of die rolling for different purposes. Very thematic and I really liked how the game has "you can gamblie on your turn" option where the odds are stacked in the house's favor, but you still often want to try, since the game has monetary breakpoints and kingmaking. Often the $9 million you have is useless, but $12 million would let you make a solid move this turn, so you might as well wager $3 at the casino of the other player who is not directly competing for control of any of your properties. Overall a bit longer than it probably should be, and has some issues with rolling for control of casinos of size 5 or bigger ends up with a nutty number of rerolls since you can't have *any* ties between different players' dice (I almost suspect Adam may have missed a rule here).
If I play again, I will strongly suggest a thematic houserule of dealing each player one "hole card" face down to give them hidden information about a card that will not come up and make the game 1 turn shorter.


Adam, the other Adam, myself and a young lady whose name I missed played, I pulled ahead early, but just barely held on for the win.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Last Tuesday night at Lex and Cynthia's
played Codenames twice -- one as a guesser and one as codemaster (lost both, largely due to my own mistakes). Then played Arcane Academy twice -- one four player between myself, Tom, Darcy and _____(since this is a week later I forget who was the 4th player) in which I crushed with an awesome final two turns leading to my own highest score yet -- ending up with 14 completed assignments for 39 points while the other three players combined only got 41 points. Then a quick two player between myself and Tom in which I triggered endgame a turn too early and barely managed to hang on for a 23 to 22 win.

Today, MLK Day -- Attempt at another LONG GAME day at Lex and Cynthia's.

Today's game was Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition :spacelionshouldbeanemote:

And well....it is not a good game. In summary it's basically Axis and Allies combat wedded to a Puerto-Rico style Role selection system on a Settlers of Cataan style geomorphic-board-and-race-to-10 VP with a bit of Heroscape command makers thrown in as another resource to juggle, Oh right, I'm leaving out the Jyhad/VtES - style voting rounds where you get to spend your planet's Influence points to pass new Fluxx-style laws. As that's basically a checklist of games which were big in the 95-05 decade; I'm pretty sure the expansions come in randomized Booster packs and there's probably a Citadels-style hidden role addenda in one of them that lets you place meeples as farmers, monks or robbers when you draw a new tile from the bag......
But seriously the rulebook clocks in at 40 double-column, minimal illustrationpages of actual rules, and while some of that is due to excessive verbosity, much is just due to the high level of complexity. We watched This rules video before playing -- in fact some of us watched most of it twice since the late players we thought already knew the game were pretty shaky on it and needed a refresher. Despite that, the game went slow with a lot of questions, time searching the rulesbook and more than a few notable misplays (you can't build new ships on a new Space Dock, Objective cards are not snatched and added to your pile of action cards and tech cards but are supposed to be claimed by planting a flag on them yet remain available for other players to later claim the points from)

The game materials do not do much to make for an enjoyable new player experience. The worst offense here is probably the nigh-unreadable tech tree in the rulebook (the previously linked video outright says to print out a different one from the web). But it was also notable how the player reference sheets lacked silhouettes to mark which plastic bit was which type of unit. I also sorely felt the lack of an Axis and Allies style battleboard to keep track of space combat -- the board hexes are not large enough to contain opposing fleets without things getting very jumbled.

We did not quite get though an entire game before some players had to leave (actual play time about 5 hours), but we were down to the two final Objective cards - one of which would was the Imperium Rex "game is over when you flip this". Lex had a significant lead in points -- mainly from having grabbed the Imperium role card twice before we realized how big a deal +2 VPs is in a race-to-ten-VP game.

Overall not a horrible game, but both I and the option space for "dudes on a map" games have grown up well past this sort of overly intricate 6-8 hour snowballing production, limited movement militaristic slugfest by now. I see no reason why I would not rather play a tighter, quicker, easier to teach game such as Nexus Ops, Cyclades, or even Small World instead. ( and that's leaving out Kemet, Neuroshima Hex a bunch of other options which I have not yet gotten to try out )


Afterwards Lex, Cynthia and I played two rounds of Arcane Academy. I am still loving this game. I handily won the first one due to numerous activations of Bracers of Division followed by triggering Pencils down to drop an energy Dispersal and a Refine on the final turn. I lost the second game, having drawn Bracers of Division in my opening hand of private assignments, and playing a slow game of building resources , but not getting the tiles to build a slate that allowed for multiple item activations, giving Lex the tempo to trigger Pencils Down before I could translate my pile of hoarded resources into points. Still, I managed a final-turn Double Refine to end up with 23 points to his final 26. This marked the first game of Arcane Academy which I have lost at their place -- so they're finally getting a feel for the strategic subtleties.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
In summary it's basically Axis and Allies combat wedded to a Puerto-Rico style Role selection system on a Settlers of Cataan style geomorphic-board-and-race-to-10 VP with a bit of Heroscape command makers thrown in as another resource to juggle, Oh right, I'm leaving out the Jyhad/VtES - style voting rounds where you get to spend your planet's Influence points to pass new Fluxx-style laws


That sounds like it should've been a tasty pizza
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My experience with TI3 is that it improves dramatically with experienced players. Everyone being comfortable with the rules made it go so much faster.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
That sounds like it should've been a tasty pizza


It's really more like a pizza where "everything" isn't just peppers, onions, sausage, pepperoni, bacon, pineapple, mushrooms and anchovies, but goes the extra mile to add cornflakes, chocolate syrup, wasabi, and cinnamon to the more traditional list.

And while I'm quite sure that TI:3 gets dramatically better with a group of experienced players -- I have access to a bunch of games that are dramatically better than a new-player experience of TI:3 for the players I know now. Given the other similar options available, this sort of complexity and difficulty learning / teaching is just not worth the potential payoff.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tuesday Jan 18th: Tuesday night dinner and games at Lex and Cynthia's.

Tonight's dinner was a rather involved production of nearly 200 dumplings, with drinking and raucous discussion going on during the lengthy fold-and-pinch dumpling sealing assembly line. As such actual gaming did not get started until pretty late. We got in 2 games of

Coup -- this was the Kickstarter edition so we replaced the Ambassador with the Inquisitor and had a bunch of alternate art.


Emo assassin is way better than Swedish-pop assassin


We had 7 players in both games ( Lex, Cynthia, Ted, Kaitlyn, Leigh and Kyle and myself ) -- that's 7 players so we had to use 4 of each role card, which changes the odds somewhat and means that two different players might be double-suited in the same role. In the first game, Cynthia open by claiming Duke, then I open by claiming Captain to steal from her. She doesn't claim anything to block, so two other players also steal from her in the first go-round the table resulting in her being broke. This becomes a running gag for the rest of the game, where players unsure of moves to make just steal from Cynthia. At the end, Ted wins, with both of his influences intact and having never told a lie. In the second game, Ted goes first and claims Duke. Kyle goes second and claims Duke, but Ted immediately challenges that claim and loses -- it rapidly becomes apparent that both of them had opening hands of Double Duke. Again, players with claiming Captains focus on looting extra Duke income early. I start out with Captain and Assassin (awesome Emo art) and due to making a difficult midgame decision of who-to-target and how correctly in order to get my captain challenged to allow me to draw a new role I manage to win the second game -- with both of my influences intact and having never told a lie. While it doesn't line up with my personal tastes, Coup is a really solid game of bluffing and player elimination and at an under-$10 price tag and high portability (box dimensions 6.2 by 4.1 by 1.2 inches, shipping weight 3.2 ounces) it probably belongs in your "games to carry around" bag.



After that, Kyle and Leigh have to leave, so we do a five-player round of

Bohnanza - the bean farming game that launched Uwe Rosenberg's career. Apparently his later work is significantly higher playing time and complexity, I should probably try one of them out sometime.

Anyways, five players is no coffee beans, but no other adjustments. I get stuck having to plant Coca beans early and decide to hang on for all four of them in the first run through the deck. Then Lex harvests his Garden Bean stack leaving me with 1 of the 2 remaining garden beans in the deck in my hand queue. Having this sort of devil's choice, I spend the coins to get a third field, but I draw the second garden bean into my hand too late to plant in before the first deck cycle completes -- leaving me behind the curve all game. Predictably Kaitlyn wins the game with 16 points, since she's almost always in the top 2 at this game. There are a couple very close 15 and 14 scores I finish with a measly 12, which makes me feel bad about having spent 3 on the third field.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tues, Jan 24th: Lex and Cynthia's Game Night

Bang! - card game version.
I get dealt the Renegade in a 7 player game. I choose Calamity Janet and get a Wells Fargo + Volcanic combo to eliminate the player on my left on turn 2, that player turns out to be an outlaw. I then spend most of the rest of the game in jail, and the Sherrif and Deputies go on to win easily.

Pictomania
Lex and Cynthia usually win at this, but they are both playing a game of Dread at the other table. So myself, Jeff, Kaitlyn, and a couple whose names I forget writing this a day later play it. This is a Vlaada Chervital game that is blessedly not Codenames -- It's sort of real time simultaneous Pictionary, and Vlaada's signature intense time pressure mechanics are in full force as well as the word lists and deduction game which were likely the seed for Codenames. Despite having no horrible rounds, I also don't really have any good rounds and I end up coming in 4th out of 5. This game is still fun for the creative challenge and horribly easy to misinterpret drawings "So barrel + fumes = punt from the 50 yard line". "It's obviously a fruit which comes from NOT FLORIDA". "That looks like an elevator that won't pass a safety inspection", and so on.

No Thanks
Lex, Cynthia, Thomas, Neal, Myself and whatsisname play. Neal is surprisingly good at this game, but this time out he has an absurd run of luck and completes a run of cards going from the 10 through the 21 while also banking a lot of chips. This is a low score wins game, and although whatsisname ends up with zero, Neal manages to win with a Negative 12 -- the lowest score I have ever seen here.

Operation F.A.U.S.T.
This game of saving masterworks of art from the Nazis bears some strong mechanical similarities to Coup, but is a bit lengthier and considerably longer. We try a six player game and accidentally hit a fail state, as we missed the rule that with more than 5 players there is a role-limit of 3 so we hit a couple turns where there are no roles in the pile. We sort-of-iron it out in the middle by requiring players with more than 3 roles to use their roles' discard Table abilities and it works out kind of okay. For the actual play I get the Mona Lisa (most valuable card in the game) early but then Neal steals it from me substituting a cheap forgery. I later manage to pull the reverse switch on him, and even later get lucky and dodge his attempt to double-reverse due to him pulling my other card randomly. I also bought a "forged documents" early, which pays of very well, as it baits Thomas into playing an Allies on me to seize my forged art -- of which I had none at the time. This proves to be a theme, as of the 2 Allies cards in the deck, Thomas manages to whiff with 5 of them throughout the game. I take to calling him FDR in the later rounds, as nobody else even sees the allies. I manage to win half a turn before Cynthia can, by buying a 3rd artwork, having the Mona Lisa and having the aforementioned Forged Documents to validate the other forgery someone else had switched with me earlier.




Weds, Jan 25th City of Play Pub Games night at Hambones.

Z000 Playtest.
Pronounced "Zoo-thousand" Myself, Adam and Greg give it a try. This is a game Adam is under contract to develop, it's supposed to teach the concept of "Classes" in object-oriented programming. Adam is concerned that he keeps losing his own game.You are robotics engineers racing to build your own zoo of robot animals constructed from vaguely-tangram-like shapes. There is a core game of a very decent tableau builder here, but this playtest version is painful due to lack of legible player aides; a rulebook rendered irrelevant by the latest changes, and the animal-tangram diagrams having tangrams where we literally cannot differentiate the different triangles (Brown Isocoles, Red Equalateral, Orange Scaline) required for each animal in the pub's lighting -- this is partially due to cheap printing but the cards really really need to have non-artistic components lists and colors need to be replaced with solid/open/striped fill. Greg is the first to complete all his animals, but I win on tie-breakers due to having completed more of my bonus animals and Adam comes in last. Adam makes a bunch of notes for changes in the next iteration -- but apparently art assets and pre-existing contracts won't let him trim down the number of duplicate shapes needed for the animals, so this is a game which is highly likely to overstay its welcome and take about 20% longer than its depth should. I kind of want to rewrite this as a word game where you have letters instead of shapes and are assembling them into phonemes in order to build your lengthy words cheaper instead of assembling shapes standards and then into prefabs to build your robots cheaper.

Arcane Academy Adam, Greg, I are joined by Ted. Ted has played before, but Adam and Greg are new. Greg wins an early race to Scholar's Cap, I fail to accurately read Ted's board and let him trigger Pencils Down, but between my Rod of Psychomancy and dropping a final turn Synchronistic Sculpture I eke out a narrow win.

San Juan Some folks leave some other tables reconfigure and I play a round of San Juan with Thomas, Tom, Jon (who I hadn't met before). I get a first turn Chapel, but then kind of shoot myself in the foot burning cards for points while trying to save up enough cards-in-hand to go directly to Silver Smelter and miss a bunch of early builds. Thomas gets a strong purple suite together, and I'm pretty much the only person going Produce/Trade. Still between the Chapel points and a top-decked final turn Guild Hall I manage to tie Thomas 29 to 29 with my 8 buildings to his 12 -- but he wins on the cards left over tiebreaker.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tues, Jan 31st Lex and Cynthia's

2 rounds of Codenames I am a guesser both times -- and both games are loses by turn 3 both times due to my team picking the Assassin. So sick of Codenames....If I had left home 15 minutes earlier I would have bought Happy Salmon en route as an alternative six-person "filler" game just for a change of pace.

With 8 people left but a few having to leave real soon we look for a large and quick game and settle on Pit -- notable for being designed by Edgar Cayce, who was better known as a psychic than game designer. We play 3 hands - Cythia wins the first then Kaitlyn wins the 2nd and 3rd -- although narrowly on the 3rd as Lex had a full set before the bell, but didn't reach it in time.

Then some folks leave and the remaining 4 sit down to play Aeon's End -- a co-op deckbuilder that I have been curious about since it hit retail a month or two back. However two new players show up so we break into 2 groups -- and for game choice and ease of teaching I end up not playing this tonight. Instead:


Thomas, Neal and myself end up playing Sentinels of the Multiverse, which I am also excited to play as this is my first chance to play with the expansion I got for Xmas. As Legacy, Absolute Zero and Mr Fixer, We manage to stop Baron Blade from crashing the moon into the Earth, but we lose the game against his "vengeful mad scientist" side due primarily to a horribly timed chemical vat explosion in the Pike Industrial Complex. Then we try a second round as Expatriette, Absolute Zero and the Argent Adept against Grand Warlord Voss in Rook City. After a long slog of chewing through minion after minion with Expatriette's Assault Rifle -- we get the Warlord down to about half hit points and maybe only a quarter of his deck left -- this is due to an involved loop where the Unconscious, Expatriette can use her KO'd ability to let another player use a power to let the Argent Adept use his ability to trigger a Harmony(?) which lets Absolute Zero use a power and an Accompany(?) which heals him and then Absolute Zero uses his power to do damage to himself which both heals him and also damages another target. But about half past midnight, we flip the third Forced Deployment from the villain deck and realize that it's very likely game over in three turns (one for deployment to activate, one for the warlord to flip back, and the third for the 10+minion victory condition to trigger) and even if that's not game over, it's way more grinding than we have time left over for on a weeknight. So two losses, one to perhaps the easiest villain in the game. Sad
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Weds, Feb 1st City of Play Pub Games Night at Hambones

The really good news is that Hambones is in the section of the city which gets its water from the Aspinwall treatment plant and not the Highland Park reservoir -- which means they actually have drinking water. Not sure if this is a factor, but this Pub Games night is the busiest I have ever seen in multiple years of attendance. The regular room (3 biggish tables, 4 booths, 5 smallish tables actually overflows with gamers having to go around the corner to the smaller cramped back room and people borrowing unused chairs from the back tables.

Anyways, Kaitlyn had requested for Greg to bring Kemet so he did, and Thomas and myself join them for a 4 player game. Greg has played once or twice before, I'm not sure if Kaitlyn had played once, but Thomas and myself have not. We play only the "shorter" game length of 8 VP, and total time including teaching, setup and packing is between 2 and 2.5 hours. Suspect that gets a lot closer to 90 minutes with experienced players who don't have to keep passing the tile cheat sheet around, and probably back up to around 4 hours if those players choose to play to 10 VP. While Greg takes an early lead due to his greater experience, I manage to swoop in to a temple claiming a surprise point, while also upgrade a second pyramid to max level to pull from last into one point short of the win -- unfortunately painting a target on myself in the final turn -- it looks like Greg and I are jockeying for position -- but Thomas actually times his big point grab correctly and ends up pulling out the win.

Overall, this is very likely the best dudes-on-a-map game I have yet played. It does a lot of the things that Dune does in a far more streamlined way, but here there is a definite build-up as players get more powerful tiles, and just more tiles with more bonuses and the total VP count is always going up -- even if some of your VP will get traded between players. Only two real complaints:
Firstly, the box sorely needs a useful organizer insert to speed setup.
and Secondly
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)



After that, Greg has to go feed his new kitten, but Adam and Neal join us for two rounds of Coup. I challenge an assassination early in the first game and go out first. Kaitlyn ends up winning by having bluffed Duke for the first 90% of the game then switching to telling the truth at the end. The second game comes down to an oddball 3-way situation, which I want to call a Mexican standoff, but I worry that doing so could get myself, Thomas and Neal all deported, so I'mma just gonna say zugzwang. We all have one influence left, all three dukes and ambassadors are eliminated. Neal is claiming Captain consistently, I have an unknown assassin (with one other Assassin eliminated), Thomas has an unknown card (revealed to be Contessa at game end). I start with a money lead, but Neal wins that race due to stealing with his captain. If I Assassinate Neal, then Thomas gets to enough money to Coup me before I can refinance to a 2nd Assassination. If Thomas Coups Neal, then I have a large money lead to Coup him, If Neal Coups Thomas, then I can Assassinate Neal and win. So whoever moves first does not win the game. We spend several rounds gathering funds with Neal stealing to keep us both from getting to the 7+ needed to Coup. This predictably fails, but Neal wins the money race and starts a turn with 10+ and has to move first. Since Thomas has the most money, Neal Coups him and I get to Coup Neal for the win. Then we reveal cards it discussion reveals that Thomas had a potential win by Couping Neal to bait my Assassin into his hidden Contessa.

Adam and Kaitlyn take off, so myself, Neal and Thomas play two quick rounds of No Thanks. For the first time ever, Neal manages to not win either round, with myself taking the first game and Thomas the second.
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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

TI: 3, which I have played many times with all expansions before I had a kid, is an endurance game. Especially once the easy Imperial strategy is removed and you add importance to the flow of Objectives. You win when the other players are too cracked out on suger, booze and/or sleep deprivation to keep up.
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RobbyPants
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh_Kablack wrote:

Codenames: played twice

Mike and whatshername have to leave due to day jobs, but Darcy has now arrived. We play two rounds of 5-player count Codenames with one guesser playing on both teams. I lose the first one, where I am guessing because I cannot for the life of me remember the name of any of Fiona Apple's music on the relevant clue. I win the one where I am Codemaster despite playing very conservatively, giving no more than a 2 clue on any round.

I like this game (my wive loves it), but I've found you really have to be on the same page as the other person on your team.

My wife and I both play fairly conservatively, trying to get a large clue out if it's safe, but otherwise aiming for one/two card clues. I played with my cousin once who would frequently throw out four-card clues. I'd look at the board with a conservative interpretation and find maybe two matching cards, then re-look with a liberal interpretation and find something like seven. Obviously, that type of wild guessing is reckless, so I'd just pick two and call it a day, hoping he'd either tone it down a bit or cater the clues better to pick up the missed cards.

Nope. Even when guessing just two, I'd still grab one of the opponent's cards. After talking about the clues with him post-game, I find that his clues involve me being able to read his mind in such a way as to guess our cards in the most hyper-literal interpretation while magically avoiding opponent's cards/the assassin by magically knowing when to take a super-literal interpretation of the same word! Not fun.


Josh_Kablack wrote:

Bang! - card game version.
I get dealt the Renegade in a 7 player game. I choose Calamity Janet and get a Wells Fargo + Volcanic combo to eliminate the player on my left on turn 2, that player turns out to be an outlaw. I then spend most of the rest of the game in jail, and the Sherrif and Deputies go on to win easily.

I want a chance to play this, again. I played once, got one (rather lame) turn, then got obliterated with a few other players by some chain guns.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh right, this was a thread I had been doing. Anyways:

Thurs Sept 8th: Josh is off work due to hamstring injury and missed usual boardgaming night(s) due to limited mobility from such, so Lex and Cynthia (who are now neighbors as well as friends) come over for a bit, and we play a round of Sentinels of the Multiverse, which I don't think I've played since the session report above in this thread. Darcy pilots the Visionary, Cynthia takes Ra, Lex takes Nightmist and I run Fanatic. We pull out the easier villains then roll randomly to face Spite in the Rook City Environment. We start out having a slow slog whittling down HP in the face of his vampiriic healing as he gets several of the his drug-powerups which deal damage to all heroes going. We do okay getting his potential victims to the Safe House but then he gets Forced Entry to get them all back out on the street two turns running. But his downfall is that he gets the drug powerup which deals damage and mills a hero whenever that hero uses a power. This mills the card which lets Fanatic deal damage equal to her Mac HP minus her current HP to an enemy into my discard, right after I played the attack which redirects all of his damage to Fanatic for a turn. With Visionary's power to return an ally's card from their discard to the top of their deck and NIghtmist's ability to let an ally draw, plus a damage boost from Ra this sets up a 24 point hit that is immediately followed by us getting enough potential victims into the safehouse that he takes 20 damage from his self-damage when flipping clause and we win.

Cynthia has to work early in the morning, so she heads home.

Rum A microgame from Pack-o-Game set 2. This is themed about pirates beachcombing for bottles of rum from a shipwreck. It's actually a very nice evolution of Go Fish with some really interesting strategies involving risk and probability manipulation. Unfortunately the rules are not the clearest and we severely misinterpret the Parrot rules resulting in a game that ends lightning fast and feels random. Lex wins that -- and then we reread the rules and play the game the way it was meant to be played, which is a slower more strategic game of set collection, and trumping each other's collected sets. I manage to win this time by making moves that have the highest chance of running out the clock on my final two turns - and having both of them pay off. (just in time, too as Lex has a hand that could have trumped/stolen one of my sets as the game ends). Once again, I feel compelled to mention that everything I have played from Pack-o-Game is worth at least the $6 retail price and a lot of them are far deeper than their gimmicky microgame packaging would imply.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sun Sep 10th:

I'm still off work due to my hamstring (although it is healing well) Lex and Cynthia come over again and along with Darcy, we play a 4-player round of Mysterium. A neat co-op which is basically Dixit meets Clue(do). Cythia plays the role of the Ghost, I take the french Numerologist, Lex takes the Scottish Crystal Gazer and Darcy takes the Spanish Pendulum Diviner. ( Normally the characters don't matter, but I've added character-specific props to the box to parody the already involved setup and taken to telling players things like "use your crystal" when they ask for advice on interpreting the vision cards. ). We decide not to use the official soundtrack Youtube Linky and go with Lex's vaguely creepy ambient playlist instead.

We play on hard mode, and then Cynthia forgets the card-redraw timing on the first clue, so we are actually playing on super-hard mode. Darcy does well at guessing, I do alright, but get a couple of "wow this is a lot of cards, must be a hand-dump" clues meaning that I complete my investigation with only one turn left. However Lex blows his first four guesses, leaving having only 3 turns left to guess his Suspect, Location, and Weapon. Each guess takes one turn so any guess he misses means we lose the game. Somehow he pulls in out, going 3-for-3 in the final turns and then we move on to the [s]showcase showdown" er, um "shared vision" and the game comes down to a 2-1 vote, where my dissenting vote is fortunately for the incorrect tableau while Lex and Darcy guess correctly and a correct majority vote wins this for us.

Most of the time, this game usually feels like a close thing but this play was definitely the closest call I've yet seen.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tues, Sep 12th: Dinner and Game night at Lex and Cynthia's

1. Junk Art:

A game of stacking various shaped blocks over multiple rounds. The pieces are neat -- but they don't always fit together in expected ways. (and the "dumbells" in the set we had were lopsided in a way that did not seem intentional) The round and score structure has a notable issue with runaway leaders, in that when Cynthia got first place in the first two rounds, nearly everyone else was eliminated from contended for overall first place in the third and final round. If you are actually playing competitively, then a "first to score N points" win condition would be better than a "highest score after 3 rounds" win condition.


2. The Wizard Always Wins:

Surprisingly, NOT a game about 3e D&D, but instead a role selection / set collection, probability management game. In this game, you can only win by pulling a gem token of your own color from the bag. But the only way to pull tokens from the bag is to claim the wizard role -- which draws a number of tokens equal to your level from the bag and only looks for the win condition tokens. But you start with no gem tokens in the bag, and you can only get those into the bag through the set collection mechanic or pulling one of the "add a token" tokens from the Apprentice's action. The queen, oracle, trader, farmer, and hunter roles all interact with the set collection mechanic, with the generally better roles coming at the cost of worse turn order for the following turn.

In this play, I make the rookie mistake of putting a 3 item set card in front of me before the Trader has been played, and get it traded for a 2 item card (of a type of item far less useful to me) and never manage to recover as the other players level up faster. Darcy goes for Wizard very early (at like level 3 with only 3 of her gems in the bag) and gets lucky - pulling her own gem on her final draw and winning the game.

Despite losing pretty hard, I definitely want to play this again.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Saturday Sept 16th: PIGDA Board Game Jam!

This was a (not quite) 12 hour event where you paid an entry fee, to get access to a bunch of game-component bitz, a co-working space, feedback from some people who are "professionally" involved with various games, and food and drink throughout the day as you (and a team if you wanted) designed and tested a boardgame in one day. (Actually only like 6 hours with the time taken up by registration, initial presentation and the deadline to have games complete in order to give the judges the time needed to sample all the games)

The suggested theme was "relationships". I formed a team with Lex, Kaitlyn, (vegan) Adam , and Dave (who I know from Hambone's game nights). We started off with a productive brainstorming session that went in a dozen directions at once and then I buffaloed the group into going with my take on Adam's suggestion of "kids at lunch picking what to play at recess" with voting on partially overlapping categories of schoolyard sports. Through a bunch of tests, iterations, and refinements this changed into a soap-opera fanfic themed game about spinning a pointer at a screen couple starring one of your favorite characters. Dave did a bunch of set-listing to fix issues we had with unbalanced starting board states. We titled it "Ship It", refined it a bit further through additional testing, Kaitlyn whipped up a surprisingly cool retro-film camera mini to serve as the pointer and made Lex type up the rules. (Note: this is by no means a comprehensive list of contributions, and perhaps not even an accurate one. We had a really good collaboration with everyone contributing, everyone taking the lead on some things and yet nobody getting so attached to any idea that they weren't open to improvements)

Brian had shown up too late to join our design team, but we were on to the " just typing the rules and making nicer looking cards" part of our game so he ran us through two quick rounds of "Who Stole my Pencil?" A memory / draft and pass / social deduction game where players pass a bunch of cards with the names of household objects on them around and then one player randomly rolls which item has gone missing and must ask questions to try to figure out which of the other players has the item that's gone missing within a real-time limit, while other players try to point fingers at each other. This was not a well-polished game, and it is a genre I am not fond of -- but for a design done in less than 30 minutes it was impressive.

Then it was time for the judges to evaluate and for players to play each other's games. There were 9 in total -- I did not get to play or even see all of them:

One team had a "call and response" type game where all the prompts involved two of the players. Examples: "if ____<randomly drawn player>____ and I shared an apartment, the main point of conflict between us would be ______?" "If ____<randomly drawn player> cast a voodoo curse on me, it would be _____"

Another team produced an overly-ambitious-for-the-development-time-allotted tactical minis game that they called "Super Hero Game" that involved monsters spawning in color co-ordinated zones of a city map. Once enough monsters were defeated, then the boss villain appears and the heroes have to win that fight before the city is destroyed. One player ran Team Villain while each of the other players ran a single hero. The best innovation here was streamlining things so that Team Monster only did damage to the large block of Hit Points that represented the City the Superheroes were defending. Each hero had base move and damage values and then a suite of 6 power cards. Each turn each hero used any one of their powers -- but the powers all had enough trades offs that there were no all-the-time killer apps. Some powers let you deal more damage to the badguys, some powers boosted your move, some powers had area-effects, some powers had monster damage mitigation effects, some powers gave bonuses to the other heroes and in general each hero's most damaging powers also did a few points of damage to the City. This game sadly needed a bit more polish than time allowed, but was really impressive for the time. (Each of the monster cards had unique clip art)

Another player designed Basho -- the only game I have ever seen about Sumo Wrestling. He had kitbashed some cutesy Sumo Wrestler figures with superglue and the eurogame hexes and houses and roads and markers available for game making for his game. (these inspired Kaitlyn to make our camera mini)

Are You an Alien? was a game about evil robots attacking a spaceship racing home to earth where one player could be an alien traitor who is trying to infect the rest of the crew as they scrounge for weapon and ammo cards to fend of the attackers. The playthrough I witnessed made it look absolutely hopeless for the humans to win -- but that may not be typical.

Games I did not get a close look at include Robot Racing (had the best hand-drawn line art), Poopy Pigs (win by eating truffles, excrete to place obstacles for opposing pigs), and Hail to the Chef.(I didn't get to play or see this one at all)

After the judges had been able to spend 20-30 minutes playing each game they deliberated and passed out awards: Basho won "Best Theme" because honestly the Sumo minis were sweet, Hail to the Chef got runner up -- which really made me regret having not checked it out. and our Ship-It! took home the winner. So I can now honestly call myself an "Award Winning Game Designer" Tongue


PS: here's a link to the official Twitter feed for the group, today's posts have photos of most of the games (Seriously, check out those Sumo ) https://twitter.com/PIGDA?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sunday, Sept 17th:

Ted's back in town, so he and Lex and Cynthia come on over and we play a five player game of Navagador This is basically a slightly-streamlined, slightly more-interactive, but totally re-themed version of his previous Hambergum. Neither Darcy nor I had played this previously. I have the good luck to go last, which lets me start out with Prince Henry for a free sailing move before my regular move -- I use this to grab a Colony on the first turn, but not being familiar with the game, I decide to go for Sugar instead of Gold (since I was drinking rum, it seemed thematically appropriate) This proves to be a sub-optimal decision for me, but a catastrophic one for Cynthia, who was also in Sugar Colonies. Ted goes into Gold Colonies while Lex goes into Sugar refining and Darcy does her best to rack up the explorer tokens. Predicatably, Ted and Lex are able to exploit the market conditions generated by two competing Sugar suppliers and get an early economic lead that eventually propels them to first and second place. I end up third, but mainly because my game ruined Cythia's attempts to do anything.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tues, Sept 19th. Game Night at Lex and Cynthia's

One quick hand of Cockroach Poker -- which really isn't as quick as it should be, even though we played with a lower count of cards needed to lose than suggested. A meh filler game that's a pretty pure mix of bluffing, reading and targeting the correct player.

Then we split into two groups, and I played a 4-player game of Colt Express with Darcy(Doc), Neil(Ghost), and Lex(Cheyenna), I choose randomly and get Django. I get a really good start, starting in a car with 3 gems on the ground and two loot actions in my initial hand and the turn order where I can loot before the other player in the same car. Darcy likewise has an impressive start where she ends the first hand in the Locomotive alone with the strongbox, and she goes first in the second hand. Neil and Lex have more typical starts. The game proceeds with a bunch of maneuvering and violence, but the turning point proves to be in the third hand, where Django's shot knocks Doc into a car with the Marshal, which then causes Darcy's stacked climb action to lead her back into the Marshal and then ending her up between the other two characters on the roof as they were trying to shoot each other (with face down cards I didn't know about) she soaks like 5 bullets this round, and she's horribly out of position for her later in the queue cards to be relevant. I manage to play keep-away with my initial gems and empty my revolver for the Gunslinger bonus. Darcy manages to hang on to the strongbox, but doesn't manage to get additional loot nor qualify for gunslinger. Lex also gets gunslinger, and between looting and triggering Cheyenne's pickpocket bonus ends up a very close second, and Neil ends up having been swindled out of any loot.


Quantum: Darcy is tired, so this is just myself, Neil and Lex. You're in space and building these "Quantum Cubes" and the dice are your ships -- the die face determines the type of ship and you can use an action to reroll a die into a different type of ship. Higher numbers move farther, lower numbers are better in combat. Each value of ship has one special power. And then you also have fleet wide special power cards you collect during the game. The victory condition is building a bunch of cubes on different planets, and for the most part combat is zero-sum, used just to block other players from winning -- but the game has a "Dominance" mechanic where a strong enough win/loss record in combat lets you build a cube for free --so with the right power cards that can be useful. This produces a game that feels very Trek-like. You're in space, and mainly trying to outthink and outmanuever the other players, but sometimes you have to fight, and sometimes a space empire goes all-in military.
Anyways, this particular play starts out looking like one of the fastest runs I have yet seen, with Neal getting to one cube short of victory inside like 20 minutes, and having a power card that lets him deploy rebuilt ships anywhere. I'm only one cube behind, but Lex only has like one cube on the board. Lex and I then spend the next two hours of realtime blowing up enough of Neal's ships to keep him two turns short of winning. (Despite Neal getting some useful defensive combat powerups) .Lex gains like 4 cube placements and I manage one more, but I realize that Lex is going to win the long game on grinding out Dominance in the Forever War against Neil. So I get greedy and maneuver into position for two ways to win in one turn, but Lex blocks them both and I'm too distracted to see the clever Warp option Neil has snuck in to prevent his win after almost 3 hours. I still like this game, but that was a painful grindfest. Neil is still sore about that game 24 hours later -- and he won.
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