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29 Aug 2021 00:03 #326082 by hotseatgames
More Arena: The Contest tonight, this time with my girlfriend. We started with a cooperative scenario, in which we had to destroy 3 altars that were feeding power to a vampire, and then kill the vampire itself. This took about 3 hours (it was a learning game), and we ultimately failed, because the fucking vampire heals any time it hits a hero. And it hits pretty hard.

It was a bummer to lose after all of that, but that is how it goes, and working out the team strategies was really great.

We then tried the adversarial mode. We each drafted a team of four heroes and deployed on halves of the board. Combat is constant and deadly; we fought back and forth for probably two hours (my girlfriend managed to revive 2 of her heroes from the dead, which lengthened the game). I was certain she was going to win, but ultimately I defeated her. This mode is really cool as well.

I'm very happy with this game so far. I will say I would not want to play it with someone prone to AP, because you can really get down in the minutiae of what square to move to, what order to do this, that, etc.
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31 Aug 2021 19:48 #326143 by DarthJoJo
Enjoyed a pair of games of solo Carcassonne. To simplify, you play three colors with four meeples each simultaneously. If there’s a free feature, you must take it, and the game ends immediately if you can’t. You score features like normal but only get the points if that color has the fewest points.

It’s a tight little brain burner that forces you into apparently suboptimal moves just to prolong the game or get a critical meeple back and continues to demonstrate the flexibility and excellence of the Carcassonne system to allow so many styles of play. I’m pretty pleased with scores of 31 and 42.

You can find the official English rules at the bottom of this page.

www.hans-im-glueck.de/spiele/carcassonne.html
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01 Sep 2021 23:42 #326175 by Jackwraith
Played our first game of Ankh: Gods of Egypt tonight. It was a 4-player in the Middle Kingdom scenario (the most basic one without any extra rules and where everyone begins in their own region.) Amun (me) vs Osiris, Ra, and Anubis. I kept everyone to the gods that came with the base set, as they're probably the easiest to understand. We also only used three Guardians from the base set (Satet, Apep, and Androsphinx.) It is, of course, another Eric Lang game in his "mythic trilogy" (the other two being Blood Rage and Rising Sun) so you can see some design tendencies, but it definitely has its own identity. For example, while it has combat order during Conflict events the way Rising sun does (i.e. you perform battles in a predetermined order by region), the combat is wholly different, using card play in a system that, like Concordia, leaves cards on the table so they can't be used again until you play the card that has no other function other than retrieving them. (I was reminded of that because I actually played Concordia for the first time the other day and won a rather crushing victory... Beginners' luck!)

Ankh is kind of chess-like, in that you move your figures in any direction, but you often don't want to, because being in certain spots is often more important than moving to every possible region. Adjacency to monuments is hugely important and once you're there, you're there. But you often don't want to stay in just one spot, as our Ra player mostly did, because that limits you to only those spots and there's a big board to play with. By the same token, you can't spread yourself too thin because then you'll be in too many conflicts and lose too many of them (as I did) and then it can be more difficult to rebuild, based on what actions others take. There's a tight balance between taking the actions that are most important to you right at that moment and the fact that taking those same actions may set up your opponents to access the Event track more easily, giving them access to more monuments and, eventually, controlling when those important Conflicts actually occur.

The most controversial part of the game is the one that Lang kind of designed it around: the merging of two players to become one god late in the game (like Amun-Ra in Egyptian history.) There are two dozen threads on BGG of people whining about this mechanic because they can't wrap their little minds around it. I was explaining it to my girlfriend and she instantly said: "That sounds like something to strategize around, not an obstacle.", which is exactly right! If you know it's coming, set up for it. The Anubis player and I were clearly heading in that direction (it happens after the third Conflict event), so we started setting up for it. We did, in fact, become Amun-Anubis and it had serious impact on the later game. Unfortunately, it didn't slow down Osiris as much as we had hoped to do and he eventually walked away with the win. But it definitely made the later game a more interesting scenario for the Anubis player, even though you could conceivably argue that it impeded my ability to compete, since I dropped a significant amount on the Devotion track during the merge.

There's a lot to explore in this game and not just because there are 12 different gods to play and something like two dozen Guardians which the rules say you never use more than three of per game. Plus there's 11 different scenarios, so you almost literally might never play the same game twice, if you don't want to. It's also the only one of the trilogy that people say is actually rather brilliant at two players. There's also an obvious depth in play that will change based on the player types in your group. In this one game, we found powers and gods (Osiris!) that multiple threads on BGG had already dismissed as "useless" or underpowered. That happens with every game like this, of course. (I can't count the number of times I've seen the Moon clan waved away as the weakest in Rising Sun. I wreck shit with Moon clan, yo.) But it was funny to see how quickly my players gravitated to some of that "useless" stuff and made great use of it; like the Omnipresent ankh power, for example. Satet, recently derided among the level 1 Guardians, was great for us, as well, as Amun-Anubis made great use of her with our ability to take two consecutive moves and push figures all over the map.

I'm going to get 3 or 4 more games in before I attempt a review, but there's definitely one coming, Uba.
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02 Sep 2021 07:22 #326178 by mezike
Ankh was one of the games that someone brought along to our club last night. I was up for it but we couldn't get enough traction, I get the feeling that we'll play eventually but it will be one of those singular moments where it airs out of the box on just that one occasion and I just don't think that games like this are built for such a brief excursion.

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02 Sep 2021 07:29 #326179 by mezike
At the club:

So Clover is not a spelling mistake, but a punny title for a party game that riffs on a few other similar designs with the addition of a four-leaf clover motif. Everybody gets four cards which have words alongside each edge and randomly puts these into a grid on their clover shaped board creating four pairs of words on the outside edges. Use a dry-erase marker to write a keyword against each pair that will help the rest of the team to re-assemble your grid, shuffle a fifth random card into the mix and then watch with despair as your foolish friends fail to spot your clearly obvious connotations in favour of far more sensible yet totally incorrect ones that you managed to completely miss whilst plotting out your clever keywords. If you are so inclined you can score points for correct placements and measure your performance against an arbitrary scale but let’s face it, that’s not why you come to this kind of party.

There is some interesting social interplay going on underneath the incredibly airy surface here. You are effectively building a small puzzle for your friends to solve and there are some wonderful emotional swings that go on whilst listening to them attempting to unpick your logic, or lack thereof. It can be both satisfying and frustrating, and very often very funny. You quickly learn that sometimes it’s better to use one blindingly obvious link to just one of the words in an impossible pair and hope that the square will complete itself due to the other clues putting the grid into place, which then opens up questions over how to interpret the nature of the clues and not just figuring out where the tenuous connections may be lurking. I was very pleased when the team not only linked “herbs” to my keyword Garfunkel (I’ll leave you to figure it out) but also started to theorise that the tangential obscurity of the clue must mean that there was a secondary meaning to it; this then led them to correctly place “pair” alongside “herbs” which placed another word at the right-angle which had no connection at all to its clue; this therefore informed them that the next keyword along was clearly going to be very explicitly pointing to a single word rather than being a doubled-up clue, which in turn unlocked the riddle of the next edge along the square and brought them all the way back round to Garfunkel. Minds can still be blown in such simple games.

Then, later on, someone put down constipated as a reference for “slow” + “log” so there is still that other side to it.


Colt Super Express is a micro-game redux of Colt Express and is all the better for it. What we have is a distillation of all the fun parts of the original (jockeying for position, shooting down your opponents, watching the chaos resulting from programs failing) without any of the mucking about. Lay out a few cards that represent the train, place your pawns and then pick three cards from a hand of six as your program. Move and shoot and then the rearmost carriage of the train falls off and is given to the rearmost player as a prize, repeat until all the carriages are gone and whoever is left on the engine and holds the most prizes wins when the final carriage falls. If you fall off the train with one of the carriages, are shot off by another player or, if you are particularly silly like me, you botch your program and deliberately walk off onto the rails because you forgot which way you would be facing, then you are eliminated. There is an optional card you can add which in my view is essential, which is a horse that you can use to gallop all the way to the front of the engine. It adds extra options for recovery from being shot off the back of the train which then loops back into the mind games of trying to guess exactly when your opponent is going to take that shot at you and whether or not they are then going to second-guess you or be undone by a third party. Quite frankly I never want to play Colt Express again now that I’ve tried this far quicker and far more fun version of it!


Finally got to try Pan-Am which I was stoked about given the general positivity surrounding it and thought it was okay, but not yet seeing where all the adoration came from. It might be that we had a bit of a weird meta going on - we all had an early windfall from an optional buy-out and with the share price at rock bottom there was a cascade of everybody following the herd and investing heavily into shares. This meant that we were all tight on funds in the early game and I then exacerbated the situation by angling for a fairly out-there strategy which I guiltily acknowledge was not likely in the spirit of the design. I think this created an odd platform that destabilised the experience so I certainly want to try this again sometime.

Although this is by no means meant to be anything more than a surface insight into the design, I figured that there is some degree of action-optimisation going on as you have a fixed number of actions to use (twenty-one with four players) and a laser focus on buying shares that means any engine you build is only useful up to a certain point that is undefinable due to the element of chaos built into the event cards; furthermore you ideally want to dismantle your engine during play by selling it off to Pan-Am in order to maximise your efficiency and earnings, and it is undeniably best to get those capital injections when the share price remains low and you can get more bang for your buck. I therefore didn’t want to muck about taking multiple actions to achieve a goal, and certainly not over multiple turns, if I could instead take a short-cut to do something right now, and I also did not want to sit on liquid capital while the price of buying VPs was keen and price volatility driven by random and unpredictable elements. So I went for a cash-poor approach where I only took free actions all the time, never bought airports, never bid up on card purchases, and hit the directive cards often which gave me nice bonuses that paid back in both saved cash and what were technically free actions as well as a head start on engineer placement to nab those free of charge spots. Only once did I buy a plane which I then subsequently regretted as I never really needed it and could instead have picked up one more share with the money. Thinking back I should maybe have bought an early airport which would have allowed me to optimise actions further, but my opponent’s airports failed to pay off as the surrounding routes were quickly snapped up by others and the income payback on investment was lost to share price fluctuation, which casts some doubt on the security of investing in them.

There were occasions where it would have been to my benefit to bid up in order to get a specific route card but my thought process always came back to question why I would give away one or even two victory points (represented by spending the value of a share) in order to gain back what would be the same or lesser value in a later round when the share price would likely be elevated. I instead took whatever routes I could get and put myself in the way of Pan-Am’s expansion at every opportunity even though it left me with little or no cards. The windfalls from selling routes was better than any income they would generate over the course of a few rounds and I was converting all of those cash bonuses immediately into VPs whilst the share price was low. Regardless of income levels, my opponents were making less money overall and were getting paid in the late game when the share price was high, doubly to their detriment, and although I recognise that the random elements in the design mean that it could have gone in a different direction I was still earning more than them over the course of the game whilst also not having to worry about investing lost VPs in a bigger fleet of planes and wasting precious actions doing so. All of this worked out very well for me, however we all got a good thumping through pure blind luck – one player had a hand of South American routes and was able to place planes quickly and easily in that area and this paid off due to the dice rolls constantly coming up on that line and allowing him to cycle repeatedly through that process which would otherwise have provided very little return over the longer term and tied up his fleet requiring expensive investment to continue building. Europe didn’t come up at all until the penultimate round and Asia barely moved except through optional buy-outs, so huge mid-game windfalls for that player allowed him to sink everything into cheap shares and get out a couple of points ahead of me. It makes me wonder then how much that random factor had in determining winners and losers as there could well have been a cash stimulus for someone else instead, or maybe everyone would have ended up in a slightly better yet fairly mediocre position.

So our experience was one player bemused at getting the victory through blind luck and myself in second place having a steadily strong position by refusing to play the game properly, the other two were some way behind having attempted a more sensible and balanced effort. Like I mentioned at the start of this ramble, I think we just had a weird meta driven by an unusual starting position, compounded by deliberate disruption on my part and random disruption from the game itself. I think I want to try this with fewer players as I feel that having more pawns and therefore more actions will give additional agency and encourage more focus on building an income engine and worthwhile investment in tactical bidding for pivotal resources. Otherwise I’m not entirely sure what this game is meant to be beyond a brief yet fun diversion, it feels like someone got partway through an 18xx style stock market game and then decided to stop in order to keep play simpler and faster, which is all well and good but has maybe left too many loose ends that unravel when given a little tug.


We also had time for Parks which is the first time I’ve played with four and therefore the extra tile that makes for a slightly longer trail. It’s a very different experience to lower player counts and the campfires become an incredibly vital resource that you have to use with great care or you can find yourself having to leap almost the entire trail in order to find a spot to land on. The trail feels super crowded in the beginning but later on that extra tile really keeps it nicely open. The only downside is that I like to play quickly and the crowded trail creates a somewhat puzzly experience that can really slow turns down so I’m on the fence as to whether I prefer this at low player counts despite four being a more challenging experience (maybe I just generally prefer most strategic games with fewer players).
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02 Sep 2021 08:06 #326180 by charlest
We played Ankh this week as well and I found it fascinating. As most know, I love this series and Blood Rage is a top 5 game for me, so it's not terribly surprising I ate this one up.

I merged in a five player game and we schemed hard as hell to control as many event triggers as possible. We won (max devotion) but a player almost beat us there - he was one short.
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02 Sep 2021 09:10 #326181 by hotseatgames
Ankh sounds like a good time. I will likely never find out for myself, because the guy who bought it was kicked out of my group for being an anti-vaxxer.

To be more specific, I was the one who kicked him out.
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02 Sep 2021 15:35 - 02 Sep 2021 16:15 #326201 by boothwah
Did the annual game weekend with my BGBFF - Got to play some new stuff

Abyss - We all liked this game - And agreed we would love to play it more if we could read it better - I know they were going for the depths of the ocean but the board and all the art is so dark and saturated that it detracts from an otherwise fine game. Reskin this puppy as a King of the Fairy Court and put out a bright shiny board and legible print on the cards!

Arkoblaerupoawjnvf : Some game that started with an A, Some kind of steam/punk Harry Potterish name if I recall - Anyhoo - We had dice, and we rolled them, and there were these little cardboard coasters, that we placed the dice on, but there were only 3 spots on each coaster and when they filled up, you stacked another coaster on the "tower" and you scored points for doing clever things. Perfectly enjoyable way to fiddle your time if you like throwing dice and stacking them with meeples on coasters.

Terraforming mars - Ares Expedition - I ended up buying it - The solo variant is nice little 20 minute diversion. It plays so much faster, but doesn't feel "leaner." I love role selection. After 5 plays, I currently prefer it to TM.

Machi Koro - I ended up with a copy of this. Still trying to figure out if it's a game or a past time like Takenoko. It's a nice way to get the kids to sit down with us for a bit and talk.

Wingspan - Cute game - I see why it's a hit - Other than taking the card someone wanted, there is zero interaction. You just sit there with your spreadsheet of habitats and little cards with gorgeously illustrated pictures of birds, periodically placing eggs about, and then at the end you all add up your points and see who is the cleverest bird card player. This game is vegan, non-gmo, and gluten free. I am sure that it will be introducing a whole new crowd of chamomile chugging normies into the hobby for years the way Cataan and Ticket To Ride did. Huzzah! Definitely not my cup of tea.

Everdell : I like it - the mish mash of mechanics - Tableau building + Worker placement + seasons track, works well enough - I think the them and the art probably are why it hooks me - This took the place of our normal play of Imperial Settlers - I'm not sure which one I like better atm.
Last edit: 02 Sep 2021 16:15 by boothwah.
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02 Sep 2021 15:53 #326202 by Jackwraith

boothwah wrote: Abyss - We all liked this game - And agreed we would love to play it more if we could read it better - I know they were going for the depths of the ocean but the board and all the art is so dark and saturated that it detracts from an otherwise fine game. Reskin this puppy as a King of the Fairy Court and put out a bright shiny board and legible print on the cards!


Can definitely understand that. I've had the good fortune to always be playing this in a well-lit room because I'm old and can't see shit anymore. I can see where the constant undersea darkness could weigh people down, but it hasn't hit me the way Tyrants of the Underdark did.

boothwah wrote: Wingspan - Cute game - I see why it's a hit - Other than taking the card someone wanted, there is zero interaction.


I had to check to see if your post from several months ago had been bounced to the front of the forum upon seeing this sentence, because it's almost word-for-word what numerous other people have said here about Wingspan, including me. It's not a BAD game. It just doesn't do much for a) people that have been playing for a while and b) people who actually want to interact with the other players at the table. I think the theming was an excellent idea and I'm eager to try Hargrave's other stuff, like Mariposas, but I'll never quite understand why this one had so many people head-over-heels for it.

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02 Sep 2021 15:59 #326203 by n815e
My wife and I tried Hnefatafl for the first time. It was actually pretty interesting and we hope to sneak in another late night game of it soon.
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02 Sep 2021 16:03 #326204 by jason10mm

mezike wrote: Colt Super Express is a micro-game redux of Colt Express and is all the better for it. What we have is a distillation of all the fun parts of the original (jockeying for position, shooting down your opponents, watching the chaos resulting from programs failing) without any of the mucking about. Lay out a few cards that represent the train, place your pawns and then pick three cards from a hand of six as your program. Move and shoot and then the rearmost carriage of the train falls off and is given to the rearmost player as a prize, repeat until all the carriages are gone and whoever is left on the engine and holds the most prizes wins when the final carriage falls. If you fall off the train with one of the carriages, are shot off by another player or, if you are particularly silly like me, you botch your program and deliberately walk off onto the rails because you forgot which way you would be facing, then you are eliminated. There is an optional card you can add which in my view is essential, which is a horse that you can use to gallop all the way to the front of the engine. It adds extra options for recovery from being shot off the back of the train which then loops back into the mind games of trying to guess exactly when your opponent is going to take that shot at you and whether or not they are then going to second-guess you or be undone by a third party. Quite frankly I never want to play Colt Express again now that I’ve tried this far quicker and far more fun version of it!


Ahh man, that train set-up with the little cacti is like the best thing about the game!! :P

Interesting how you can just trim all the fat away from some games and it gets better. How many short and sweet games are there that would benefit from a longer more in depth version? Not many I think.

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02 Sep 2021 18:19 #326212 by mc

n815e wrote: My wife and I tried Hnefatafl for the first time. It was actually pretty interesting and we hope to sneak in another late night game of it soon.


Hnefatafl is great. Been ages since I played it, might have to try it with the kids.

One we got really into last year was Guerilla Checkers. Worth checking out if you haven't - an assymetric abstract, but it's by Brian Train who did A Distant Plain (I think). It's a counter-insurgency situation where one player has only 6 pieces that are kind of clumsily powerful and the other player saturates the board and tries to lure the first player out to the edges and ambush them. Really clever, lot of fun.
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02 Sep 2021 19:09 - 02 Sep 2021 19:47 #326213 by Ah_Pook

boothwah wrote: Terraforming mars - Ares Expedition - I ended up buying it - The solo variant is nice little 20 minute diversion. It plays so much faster, but doesn't feel "leaner." I love role selection. After 5 plays, I currently prefer it to TM.

Wingspan - Cute game - I see why it's a hit - Other than taking the card someone wanted, there is zero interaction. You just sit there with your spreadsheet of habitats and little cards with gorgeously illustrated pictures of birds, periodically placing eggs about, and then at the end you all add up your points and see who is the cleverest bird card player. This game is vegan, non-gmo, and gluten free. I am sure that it will be introducing a whole new crowd of chamomile chugging normies into the hobby for years the way Cataan and Ticket To Ride did. Huzzah! Definitely not my cup of tea.


its funny to me personally to see this contrast, since these two games feel EXTREMELY similar in play to me. theyre both pretty light tableau builders with very minimal player interaction that you generally win by top decking cards that combo together.

Edit: I don't love either game to be clear. They're fine! Id rather play a faster game than either, if I'm playing this style of game.
Last edit: 02 Sep 2021 19:47 by Ah_Pook.
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02 Sep 2021 20:50 #326215 by Sagrilarus
I just destroyed another Dreadnaught.

I'm feeling pretty damn smug at the moment.
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02 Sep 2021 21:21 #326216 by hotseatgames
Finished my fourth mission in the campaign of Arena: The Contest. In between missions, things are pretty interesting. You read some text in the campaign guide, which often prompts you to draw a numbered card from a large deck of cards. This card might present various choices you have to make. These choices ultimately lead you to your next mission, and it is obvious that different choices lead to different missions, so that is very cool. You may also gain some benefit or suffer a negative consequence, again based on those decisions, or if you failed to solve a puzzle. Yes, there are puzzles of various types as well.

I also like that they are putting my dragons to good use. I fought one in mission 3, and now on mission 5 there is another one.

I am declaring this game good, and I'm glad I kickstarted it.
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