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November 30, 2021
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05 Apr 2021 06:31 - 05 Apr 2021 06:45 #321658 by Ah_Pook
I think it's $70msrp, so probably like $55 from online places. I also think it's pretty much sold out atm, so you might have a hard time grabbing it for regular price.

Edit: there's a solid looking TTS module, if you just want to check it out
Last edit: 05 Apr 2021 06:45 by Ah_Pook.

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05 Apr 2021 12:57 #321673 by mads b.
I've been playing a lot more Andor: The Family Fantasy game with the youngest (5), and it's really, really good. You get to turn over tokens and roll dice, and the game has ten different quests you get to solve (you draw three or four of them in each game), so every game won't feel the same. If you're looking for a family friendly adventure game, this is definitely it.

That being said it feels like a game for the young kids. The eight-year old has played a couple of times and think it's fine, but it's not quite his jam.

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05 Apr 2021 14:34 - 05 Apr 2021 14:35 #321674 by Michael Barnes
Some more solo Euro jaunts...

Paladins of the Western Kingdom, I dunno. I haven’t played any of these and my first impression is mixed. It’s doing some really cool things - I love how you can combo into doubling or tripling your actions, I really like the solo board, and I like the general flow of gameplay and how you develop by reducing the number of workers needed for the stations.. However, unlike Kanban, where I feel the complexity is earned, -this- feels complex for complex’s sake. Like the suspicion mechanism- I don’t think it’s necessary, and it adds bloat to the design. It feels almost like a way to add a little friction between players but I’m just not seeing it. It is also a game that I have absolutely no desire to ever play with another player. I think it’s even more solitary than usual, to the point where you have your own board and aren’t even competing for opportunities. I want to try it another couple of times and look at Viscounts but so far I’d rank this low on my recent exploration of the “heavy solo Euro space”.

Kanban on the other hand is going up. I played with the Turczi solo mode last night and just got laid out. Or laid off as the case may be. The solo game makes a really neat change...you are up against your fellow employees Mr. Lacerda and Mr. Turzci and they are trying to get you fired. So they don’t get points, they just take away yours. And they aren’t subject to Sandra’s reviews. So it’s pretty competitive despite playing against card driven opposition and it’s really almost a survival game- you go to 0 points, you are fired. In this game some of the concepts clicked together and I got the hang of getting those all important certifications and I had a better handle on how to read the board to map actions to outcomes to goal cards. By the end, I felt like it was really flowing and some of the complexity started to smooth out. Make no mistake; this is a brains first design and it’s quite demanding...but yes; I think there is definitely a good and maybe even Great game here. I love how -committed- it is to the setting and concepts.

It is also an absolute delight to put out to play. It is really fucking expensive. I didn’t get comped on it, I was just blowing some Noble Knight bucks and thought why not. But I felt both decadent and stupid buying it...until it arrived and I was like OK, maybe this is actually a $130 game. And it was like Cthulhu Wars or Warhammer where you’re like cool nerd stuff and look at these toys...this was more like wow, I bought a premium, extremely well made and beautifully produced board game. It has a quality that goes beyond miniatures, I think. It’s more like buying a Mac or something.

But...$130. And that’s without the metal cars. Which I am tempted to get just to go all out with it. And it’s made me want the other Eagle Gryphon games...they are absolutely obnoxious and overdone. But Kanban is bringing me joy with that. When I opened up Paladins I was just like “man this is some cheap ass looking shit”. Really fighting against the urge to go in for The Gallerist and that absolutely sinful Rococo...

Trying Arnak tonight, hopefully. Possibly with my kids and a friend.
Last edit: 05 Apr 2021 14:35 by Michael Barnes.
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05 Apr 2021 15:04 #321675 by Gary Sax
When I'm in a certain headspace, the purely aesthetic pleasures of board gaming are real. Other times and other types of games, I don't give a shit.

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05 Apr 2021 15:24 #321676 by ChristopherMD
I'm really enjoying reading Michael's posts about his Euro Acclimation Project.
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05 Apr 2021 15:37 #321677 by Jexik
It has been surreal. Maybe I’ll understand when I’m a little older.
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05 Apr 2021 15:41 - 05 Apr 2021 15:42 #321678 by Michael Barnes
I was just about to start calling this ERP2.
Last edit: 05 Apr 2021 15:42 by Michael Barnes.

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05 Apr 2021 17:17 #321680 by n815e
I’m actually going to check out Kanban now.

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06 Apr 2021 06:24 #321702 by Erik Twice
It is indeed surreal to see Barnes play and enjoy these games. But I played Castles of Burgundy the other day and enjoyed it so I guess we all make mistakes.

Jokes aside, as more people read my stuff I've also had to get more serious about this kind of games. Before I could just dismiss them as optimization excercises. I wasn't intereted so no harm, no foul. But now I have to think about them and recognize the value they have even if my core criticisms remain the same.

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06 Apr 2021 10:55 #321707 by jeb
My 9yo got 500 Reading Counts points, and his prize was a big fat box of GLOOMHAVEN and JAWS OF THE LION. He threw that pissy little box over his shoulder and opened the big mammer jammer and we played the opening scenario last night. We didn't kick down that last door though, because we each had like three cards left and would've been rolled. But we got some money, figured out how to play (we worked out you lose those "lose" cards when you use their cool power about two rounds in) and he just loves it. Sounds effects! Air-wrestling bandits! All the little secrets are killing him!

The game is really big, but the play is actually pretty tame and forgiving. We play MAGE KNIGHT and this is a cake walk, comparatively. Great game. I wish DESCENT was this, the whole Overlord thing there sucks. Co-op only is the way to go.
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06 Apr 2021 11:22 #321709 by Michael Barnes

Erik Twice wrote: It is indeed surreal to see Barnes play and enjoy these games. But I played Castles of Burgundy the other day and enjoyed it so I guess we all make mistakes.

Jokes aside, as more people read my stuff I've also had to get more serious about this kind of games. Before I could just dismiss them as optimization excercises. I wasn't intereted so no harm, no foul. But now I have to think about them and recognize the value they have even if my core criticisms remain the same.


Tastes and perspectives change. Sometimes you realize that you had a negative reaction to something because at first you were looking for something different or your expectations were elsewhere. But yes, core criticisms sometimes do not.

The truth is that these games I’ve been playing are pretty much everything I’ve ever criticized them for. They are low to no interaction, highly mechanical efficiency exercises where the presence of other players is negligible. These are games that look like charts. In some cases these games are low drama and low narrative.

What I’m finding- and wanting- though is that these games excel solo.
The puzzles and situations that come up simply from having a card flip block an opportunity are crunchy and interesting. Sorting out how to maneuver the economic systems is fun, even without other players at the table. The enjoyment I’m getting from these games is that I’m playing and engaging with these systems on my own terms and without having to teach someone else how to enjoy them. I make an old fashioned, set up one of these big complicated Eurogames, and it’s all good. And it’s more rewarding than doing the solo dungeon crawls or the more complicated and cumbersome COIN games or something like Root that has overly elaborate “AI”.

I’m also at a point, thanks to RPGs, where I don’t give a shit about a board game telling a story -unless that story is driven by player interactions-, like what happens in Dune or Cosmic. Because board game stories told by mechanisms and card text are paltry and thin. But these games are more “thematic” to use the commonly misappropriated term than you might expect. Kanban is about a hundred times more “thematic” than Talisman or Arkham Horror. It has zero text on the components. Yet every single aspect of it is specifically about running a car factory with intricate details. You never draw an event card to make it seem like a new limitation or advantage is part of a grand story. That Sandra meeple often feels like a bigger threat than a KDM miniature.

In retrospect, I feel like al these years of trumpeting board game narratives and settings was somewhat off the mark. Because board games are shitty storytellers,
It’s not their forte. What they do best is managing spatial and conceptual relationships between mechanisms, components, opportunities, and player agency. Any kind of setting or narrative is invariably an overlay on top of that, with potentially some inflection points where a more synergistic exchange occurs. That’s when we get Dune or Cosmic.

All “theme” is pasted on, it turns out.

But anyway, I haven’t hit the Feld route yet but it’s coming. I’ve not played Castles of Burgundy or any of his other big titles. When they were the big thing I was more into playing repetitive, redundant dungeoncrawls and Folks on a Map games that were never as good as Nexus Ops.
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06 Apr 2021 11:30 - 06 Apr 2021 11:35 #321712 by Gary Sax
re: the solo comment, Michael. I play these games with my spouse. They are a soothing aesthetic exercise and they work with two as well if you're in the right "shared activity" mindspace.

I disagree pretty vigorously with you about boardgames not being able to do narratives. But I agree with you that pre-written "narrative games" are mostly pretty jank. I think the best board game narratives resemble procedural video games, it's their narrative strength. The gears on gears of mechanisms can create great narrative you couldn't sit down yourself and produce in any pre-written situation. It's why Arkham Horror is a better narrative game than Eldritch Horror (TO ME). I actually think Arkham Horror is a bad target for you in this respect, I think its wild crashing together of components barely resembles the sort of pre-planned fiction that board games aren't good at that now proliferate. It has writing on cards, yes, but its ethos is mainly crash 11 tiny vignette cards together and see what happens narratively. Turns out Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson were onto something (TO ME), moreso than the games that took inspiration from them.

Cole Wehrle called Oath his "procedural rogue-like political game" in a recent interview and I think that highlights where board games have a comparative advantage in narrative.

ps I've always respected your willingness to admit your preferences have changed, even if it's kind of funny how decisively you end up doing so when it happens. I've thought of you several times when something was no longer working for me and I had to admit to myself that it was just because I've changed. We've been on this site for like 15 fucking years and people go through shit and change their minds. It's allowed.
Last edit: 06 Apr 2021 11:35 by Gary Sax.
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06 Apr 2021 11:30 #321713 by Ah_Pook
Most Feld games don't have solo modes that I know of. Castles of Burgundy specifically has a really good solo mode that uses it's own board. It may or may not be included in the anniversary edition, I don't know what all is in there tbh.

Carpe Diem is great solo too, using a super simple d4 variant.
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06 Apr 2021 12:01 - 06 Apr 2021 12:03 #321716 by ChristopherMD
I've always hated Puerto Rico (the board game not the place) and will be happy to never play it again. However, I've enjoyed a spreadsheet version someone made where I'd just play against bots. Because then it really was just a solitaire puzzle that I could sit there and take my time with. So I just view these kinds of games differently solo. Instead of feeling like an IQ measuring contest where tabletalk is considered distracting like in chess, they become more of a relaxing activity like doing logic puzzles in magazines when I was a kid. In this way I can see, as Gary suggests, they could also be good for like-minded duos. I don't have any friends I'd want to risk it with. Better to keep them meditatively solo and never find out that I pick the worst starting option or whatever.

My solo tastes compared to multiplayer are kind of flipped in other ways too. I love dice chucking games when I'm at the table with friends but I've found them incredibly boring as a solo option. The narrative games that Michael talks about I feel are a mixed bag. I'll enjoy a game of Arkham Horror and hopefully Sleeping Gods solo in the same way I'd enjoy a Fighting Fantasy book. I'm not going to defend them as some misunderstood narrative excellence any more than I would a Steve Jackson gamebook. But when I'm looking for that kind of thing there are definitely solo options for me even if other mediums do it better. Also there's a benefit to finishing their stories in an afternoon compared to a 60-hour video game.
Last edit: 06 Apr 2021 12:03 by ChristopherMD.
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06 Apr 2021 12:45 - 06 Apr 2021 12:58 #321720 by Michael Barnes
Sure I can see playing some of these games as a 2p thing, in that shared activity thing...but I gotta tell you, playing Kanban with 3 others who don’t know how to play or that may not “get” it sounds like an absolute nightmare.

Those are good points about AH, but the reality of it is that AH is a paragraph game with the paragraphs on cards instead of in a book and with a higher degree of modularity enabling an emergent, procedurally generated sense of narrative. I think you are right about that and maybe AH isn’t the best target for that criticism because it is really doing something different.

It’s funny because last night playing D&D with my kids and their friend, I was thinking about how RPGing is probably a lot closer to Mad Libs than most are likely willing to admit. AH is like that too, here are these disparate elements and the players connect them and create a semi-cohesive narrative.

But here’s the thing too...do any of the mechanisms in AH tell the story, really? Or is it in us? There again, it’s that player-driven narrative that matters.
Nothing in AH tells a story without the overlay. Doom Track could be a timeline of when a mortgage payment is due. The gates could be roach nests. The monsters could be tenants. The whole thing could be realigned to be a lot being a landlord with different nomenclature and text. It’s the old “theme/mechanics” integration question.

As for me, I am a passionate, excitable person. When I like something I tend to REALLY like it and when I get interested in something I go all in. When I was a kid, if I got interested in spiders, I’d go get every book I could about spiders, collect spider stuff, write about spiders, watch stuff about spiders...but then if I shifted to something else I would almost completely lose interest.

So yeah tend to do that, shift hard. I love it because it keeps me fresh and excited and it pushes me to look for new things that I’m into and it also encourages me to look back and find value wheee maybe I didn’t see it before. I’m especially like this with music too. I grew up a punk so Springsteen was dad rock and I hated him. But a few years ago, thinking about Joe Strummer, Arcade Fire, and The Killers and how influenced they were by him, I went back and did a hard, deep dive and came out absolutely loving Springsteen. It was time.

What tends to happen is that the period of intense excitement abates, I move on to something else, but bring forward what I learned or loved into the next thing. I did this recently with my hard and intense regimen of OSR RPGs. That period of being completely obsessed has abated- moderated- into a more integrated and holistic part of who I am as a game player, critic, and person. So like last night, I was running 5e for my kids but bringing forward everything that playing hardcore, psychedelic, gonzo OSR games gave to me.

15 years...I was 29 when we started this place. I remember the first time I went back and reassessed Knizia, Mr. Skeletor called me a traitor. And wasn’t joking.
Last edit: 06 Apr 2021 12:58 by Michael Barnes.
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