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Please start new threads in the appropriate category for mini-session reports, discussions of specific games or other discussion starting posts.
What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing?
I'm pretty sure we had it right. We definitely screwed up a few rules the first couple of times, but we got those ironed out.
mezike wrote: I'm sure you're playing it right but just to check (especially as some rules are fairly well hidden),
In that particular game, it came down to having zero food. The only way to be the lone survivor was if you had a food card stashed away, and neither of the last two players did (after surviving the water vote carnage).
That's what I keep thinking, but everyone seems to learn the wrong lesson.
One or two games ending with a sole survivor will make the penny drop.
Gregarius wrote:That's what I keep thinking, but everyone seems to learn the wrong lesson.
One or two games ending with a sole survivor will make the penny drop.
My spouse is like this. Any game that even looks like it could be cooperative she will turn into cooperative, no matter what others say. She'd rather lose cooperating than stab any backs.
I think giving up with that group is the right move.
So he decided he wanted to try some shooting and grabbed Moloch. He told me I should play something I really like, so I decided to go mindless metal on mindless metal and took Mephisto (Did someone say "worm"?) Moloch jumped out to an early lead, like usual, as the big guy needs setup time. But I got the Muzzle out and started doing some damage before the Gauss Cannon came down and my best implants got rekt. But I had both Probes out and could activate 3 Implants every turn. I did enough damage to get us tied at 13 by the time we both played our last tiles, so it came down to the Final Battle. I had placed an Incubator next to his HQ on my final turn and used the castling Implant to drop Mephisto next to him and hit for 3. Really tight game. Despite going 0-4, my opponent is still ready for more and now wants to branch out from the main box.
Terraforming Mars with everything all in and the Elysium board in play. My son had a massive start with Valley Trust that gives an additional Prelude card and he ended up on +11 income by the end of the first turn with two fleets in play. The following turn he ramped up power production and played a card that allowed him to move his fleets for one fewer resource and started putting the boot in. He followed up with the science lab that converts power into research that are worth 2VP each so was ready to grind in for a long slow game as he had such a large early advantage.
In order to counter I focussed instead on the long game plan; I had Manutech which gives a matching resource every time you increase production so channelled everything into building the Earth Catapult and the card that increases the value of minerals, then did everything I could to put as many cards as possible through my hand and to build anything that was raising production. I picked up something that allowed me to double up colonies on one location so spammed Triton and created a nice engine where every round I could turn three power into four Titanium that were then worth the equivalent of sixteen money. Oh the joy of resource churning.
Eventually things started to snowball out of hand. We ended up finishing the game in generation eleven and by that point I had over forty additional income and was pulling more than ninety credits per turn. Manutech is an absolute beast as the drips and drabs of additional resources add up real quick. The lad was trying for a Jovian floater strategy and was using a complicated chain of actions to burn up floaters into power and Titanium which then fed his science lab and his fleet. As a result of focussing on blue cards he lost control of the board which I took advantage of with my resource-rich approach that allowed me to build up cities and forests in the big Southern expanse of the map. At the final counting I was well ahead at 136 points to his 101 which is a pretty punchy score for only eleven generations. He saw the writing on the wall and started crashing asteroids to end things quickly, if it had gone on for another round or two then I would really have been standing on the accelerator.
Bustin’ boards in Tavarua, the waves were unusually calm with only one Barrel in the deck and some well-spaced early breakers which reduced the need for competitive jostling and became more of an exercise in managing cards and Stoke tokens than cutting each other up. I had a good early run after drawing two of the Stoke cards that give three tokens and was able to therefore turn a relatively short run into a good score by using the tokens to reduce the impact of big cards. Both kids were determined to outdo that performance and I lost my tight grip on the Longboard Trophy after both of them surpassed me with longer and more impressive runs. My son in particular smashed the scoreboard after some awesome tricks through the middle of the solus Barrel; he wanted to know if there was a special bonus for going past a perfect 10.0 so I gave him an attaboy and a pat on the back. He was not impressed.
The fight for the Shortboard trophy was a little more dogged as we all had to ditch or wipeout at some point and after the lengthy early runs we were facing a very limited number of viable attempts in the remainder of the day. Due to our Longboard scores being so high, the championship was going to be decided on the Shortboards result which led to some tense competition for the final waves. At the end there was only half a point between each of us so a very tight finish.
At the club:
Wingspan was offered up and I was happy to join given that it is getting a fair amount of attention. It looks really pretty for sure, and the game itself is… nice? If it were your date for the evening then you’d be happy to take it home to your folks but probably wouldn’t want to get stuck all night at a party with it.
You have four actions that you can take; spending resources to place a bird card into one of three rows or running one of those action rows to gain food tokens, eggs or cards. The bird cards not only score you VP, they also interact with the other components for bonus scoring by allowing you to tuck cards underneath them or store food and eggs on them. They can also provide immediate bonuses in giving you additional resources and cards. The one really interesting mechanism here is that at the end of each round there is a scoring round in which you need to place one of your action markers on the scoreboard, thus depriving you for future rounds and leading to fewer but stronger actions in the later game.
And that’s all there is really, a dirt simple engine builder with zero interaction, it’s literally a solo game where some of the available items disappear between your turns. One frustrating thing is that it is a very mechanical game that demands precise planning and yet it throws random elements at you. I noted that I could have been more efficient with my actions and scored far more VP if only the right food had been available on the dice rolls on my turn. I don’t mind random elements in games at all but there needs to be a way of mitigating the risk and planning your strategy around management of the odds, whereas this is one of those games that completely forgets that and thoughtlessly shoves a random kick in the pants into the mix.
There are some possibilities to create different and interesting types of engine although I wonder how well that will stand up over time. One of my opponents had a couple of predators on their food line which were devastating the local wildlife every time he ran that action, however all that it amounted to was drawing a random card and occasionally tucking it for a bonus VP and at other times discarding. This was mechanically identical to my abundant waterfowl who were also drawing and tucking cards to represent their vast numbers, except that I had no risk of failure in exchange for slightly fewer regular points on the bird cards. My other opponent had a flock of small birds that were busy laying lots of eggs and storing seeds, however it was just VPs on top of cards rather than underneath. When you boil the game down to basics you have cards that either score a lot innately but are expensive to play, or cheaper cards that can earn bonus points easily so long as you make use of them. Everything else is window-dressing.
It does indeed look amazing though and the idea behind the game is compelling. It’s wonderful that every card features a unique species of bird and they’ve done good work in bringing them to life, with some species hoarding foods, preying on smaller birds, laying lots of eggs and so on, it’s all so very cute. Given that we were through a three player game in less than an hour I think it comes across as a wildly over-produced card game that has some unnecessarily complicated bits added on in an attempt to turn it into a big box effort. I think I’d play it again just to enjoy the components and a little bit of mild engine building but would prefer solo mode, it’s something that I could play in twenty minutes or so and burn through over a couple of weeks.
From Ornithology to Agrology in Fields of Green, we had the Carousel, the Drinking Contest and the Equipment Show as the Grand Fair. The latter works particularly well as it puts a lot more equipment into the game which creates some nice opportunities. I had a nice little set-up where I had a chainsaw in a shed that was giving me a discount on farm buildings and the ability to buy VPs, with Camels right next door that allowed me to sell food as a free action while I was building. The net result was that I was able to get quite a handful of expensive buildings into play for almost nothing as I had a huge surplus of food from my well-watered Apple orchards and gave me a game-storming final score.
Now, maybe that was a dirty trick, since Steel Police is good against shooting, which Sharrash don't have much of; is a highly positional army, which Sharrash are great at disrupting; and is very offense-oriented, which Sharrash can often neuter with Paralysis. But he got the early edge on me, especially when I drew two Battle tokens for my first turn. My HQ took a couple hits, but he decided to engage the Steel Net, so I wasn't that far behind. Then I took a couple more hits and he felt safe about using the Executioner's divebomb attack, followed by him getting the Launcher down. However, as often happens if you know how to play against the SP, the Net of Steel sat on two guys throughout the game because they didn't die. Either I was able to clear space around them (I managed to get the Hole right next to his HQ) or we just didn't get any battles going. The last one before the Final Battle was triggered by a full board. Unfortunately for him, it's also the turn in which I played my Beast right next to his HQ. Castling out of the way of his Wardogs and Predator and getting another hit with a Plague in the Final Battle meant that I won, 16-13.
So, he's like: "OK. New army, but something a bit simpler in approach. Like Hegemony." So I gave him New York. He also said: "And you play something you're not a wizard with." And I'm all: "But... I already AM a wizard!" So I played Iron Gang, which I've never been great with. He got off to a good start, setting up a decent shooting nest with his HQ one hex out from the map edge so he could narrow my opportunities but still extend Toughness as much as possible. I just kind of worked with what I had. I find Iron Gang extremely subpar most of the time, because the opportunities to use Chain are very limited and it only affects one target. In most instances, you can usually just set up a good battle position and use the Order token to start a fight. He drew Shotgun and Rocket Launcher in the same draw and set them both up near the HQ, with the Rocket Launcher able to get the Toughness bonus and do a lot of damage. Meanwhile, my most effective units by far, like usual, were the Mountains and the Ranged Net Fighters. Getting a net on the Rocket Launcher saved the game for me, as otherwise he would have blown me away. I finally got a Fanatic in place where I could use the Boss token to detonate him. It took out one of my Mountains, but it got both Launcher and Shotgun. The Net tokens staying on even when the RNFs are removed is what makes them really good, on top of being an anywhere Medic. I just plinked away in enough spots and finally used my one and only Chain attack via the Boss and a Biker that got behind his last turn Lumberjack who was about to swing at my HQ. I won 5-3. Thankfully, he's still into it and wants to try Mississippi next time.
It definitely felt like a down grade on every metric. At first glance it looks like they have tried to simplify the concept, clean up the board and use fewer card decks, sounds like good modernization. However apart from the new route to victory through the mysteries cards nothing else really works. I spent most of the game hunting though decks for status effects cards, which were generally dull when I found them. And I spent a lot of turns realising my character was best to just wait for the event phase or could not actually do anything. These sorts of things can happen in Arkham but here they felt dialed up to the max here. The difficulty in moving around the board, the difficulty in buying decent equipment all made the game feel a lot more sluggish. It also still took 4 hours +. Thumbs down.
This group liked Kill Doctor Lucky the first time I brought it, so I brought it again. "I just really was in the mood to kill Dr. Lucky again." The two new players like it a lot, but struggled a little with the counter-intuitive movement/turn rules of the game. I showed them how to "card-pimp" Dr. Lucky by moving ahead of him for a couple of turns in a row in order to string together multiple uninterrupted turns, but nobody else quite got the hang of doing it more than once. Five players made line-of-sight an ongoing problem, so we nearly went through the deck twice before I finally killed him with Rat Poison in the Greenhouse.
Our female host Jordan has a fondness for abstract/puzzle games, so we played Set. It's a deck of cards with a variety of recurring shapes/colors/shades/quantities. Three of each type, and you are looking to spot sets of three before anybody else. A set is exactly three cards where either all three cards match or completely don't match on each of the four traits. Someone deals out 12 face-up cards, and everybody looks at them. The first person to call out Set is then allowed to point to the three cards in the alleged set, and if they are correct on all four traits, then they pick up those cards. Then three new ones get dealt out. It's rare before the end, but if there are no sets, then an additional three cards are added to the array. Jordan scored 8 sets, Kate and I scored 7 each, Jordan's partner Mike scored 2 sets, and Laura gave up early on. It's not my kind of game, but it was a decent filler game.
Then we played three games of Space Team, which this crowd also calls the Space Dildo game. It's a fun co-op but a bit stressful due to the five minute sand timer. Each player is dealt out a hand of tool cards, which depict somewhat complex and improbable devices, including a couple that are vaguely dildo-like. Then each player is a dealt a short stack of problem-type cards to solve. Start the game by flipping the sand timer and everybody flips over their problem stack to start solving problems. The problems are presented in various ways. Some require one or more cards of specific tool-type icons, while other name the name of the required tool. The more challenging ones just show a picture of the needed tool, leaving people to shout out odd descriptions in hopes that other players will understand and pass the needed cards. For example, "I need the space dildo with wings! Who has the space dildo with wings?" There are also anomalies, like a player is unable to speak until all the other players say their name. And there are the six ship sections. When you get to a ship section, you put it in the center of the table and shout out something like "Communications Bay is a go!" There is a lot of shouting and laughing and sometimes everybody needs to switch chairs. I like Space Team in small doses.
Laura left, and then I brought out Cosmic Encounter. I have all but the final expansion, but I left out all of the expansion material for this game except for the alien races and extra colors for this game, because I was the only one who had played before. I played Symbiote (start with 40 saucers instead of 20), Jordan played Sniveller and Mike played Siren, but they kept forgetting to use their special abilities. Kate played the Pacifist, but never drew any negotiation cards. So really I was the only one to benefit from my special ability, but that turned everybody against me after I crept out to an early lead. In the end, Mike won because he made some good choices about alliances and happened to draw high number attack cards. Everybody enjoyed the game and they encouraged me to bring it back some time.