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27 Sep 2021 13:06 - 27 Sep 2021 13:13 #326790 by Sagrilarus

Maybe worth a separate thread - how do you manage a group that big? Not a rhetorical question. Does one player just say, "I'm playing Dune: Imperium. Who's with me?"


That is exactly it and the number of people that attend is key. We've been as high as seventeen, as low as six. With six there's a big push to all play a single game together and that can get problematic. Once you hit seven or more it's very easy to split into two groups and with ten or so you can split into three, four or even five groups depending on who wants to play what.

So I have a group that doesn't play wargames (or any two-player games) much of ever. So people will start making dates ahead of the weekend in order to get in those games they really want to play. A game like Maria plays exactly three, so you need to plan it. The result is that someone will ask around -- "Merchant of Venus?" and they'll get a lot of responses like "I've promised Bill we'd go after Valor & Victory tonight. How about tomorrow after dinner?" Then people will more or less sign up for that game and that time slot.

This is all organic, not structured. For us our "May Getaway" has been Thursday through Sunday so there's lots of time available to pull from. Often someone early in the weekend will say, "I'm not leaving until someone has played Bolide with me" and that will get a group up and a time set. Since we all know each other and are all friends we make it a point to help other people go after their most-desired plays.

Between these "bigger" plays you get in games like Ringo Flamingo and Gravwell that play quick and light, fill in an hour or two. Given the amount of mental energy you put into the big games those smaller ones are a welcome relief.



The snapshot above is what happens when too many people sign up for a marquis game.
Last edit: 27 Sep 2021 13:13 by Sagrilarus.
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27 Sep 2021 15:23 #326792 by Erik Twice

charlest wrote: However, losing the market bidding is fine, although I do miss the Atreides ability to see the cards and play mindgames.

I love Dune but I've grown to think that the auction needs a remodel. It takes too long and I could see the game taking 1 hour less to play if it had a more special bidding mechanism withs everal cards at once or whatever to speed it up.

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27 Sep 2021 15:26 #326793 by charlest
This new "Little Dune" (or "Movie Dune" not sure what to call the new version), has no bidding. Combat cards are separate from other special cards. Everyone refills their hand to four combat cards and then can buy market cards from the top of the deck at 2 spice a piece, with the spice going to the Imperium (combo Emperor/Bene Gesserit player). Hand size of three market cards.

It works very well and since you're always tooled up for combat, it's a more aggressive and wild game.

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27 Sep 2021 15:34 #326794 by Msample

Sagrilarus wrote:

Maybe worth a separate thread - how do you manage a group that big? Not a rhetorical question. Does one player just say, "I'm playing Dune: Imperium. Who's with me?"


That is exactly it and the number of people that attend is key. We've been as high as seventeen, as low as six. With six there's a big push to all play a single game together and that can get problematic. Once you hit seven or more it's very easy to split into two groups and with ten or so you can split into three, four or even five groups depending on who wants to play what.

So I have a group that doesn't play wargames (or any two-player games) much of ever. So people will start making dates ahead of the weekend in order to get in those games they really want to play. A game like Maria plays exactly three, so you need to plan it. The result is that someone will ask around -- "Merchant of Venus?" and they'll get a lot of responses like "I've promised Bill we'd go after Valor & Victory tonight. How about tomorrow after dinner?" Then people will more or less sign up for that game and that time slot.

This is all organic, not structured. For us our "May Getaway" has been Thursday through Sunday so there's lots of time available to pull from. Often someone early in the weekend will say, "I'm not leaving until someone has played Bolide with me" and that will get a group up and a time set. Since we all know each other and are all friends we make it a point to help other people go after their most-desired plays.

Between these "bigger" plays you get in games like Ringo Flamingo and Gravwell that play quick and light, fill in an hour or two. Given the amount of mental energy you put into the big games those smaller ones are a welcome relief.



The snapshot above is what happens when too many people sign up for a marquis game.


I will echo what Sag said with a few more points.

I think 8 is probably the minimum as it gives you flexibility to do 2 4P games, a 4P and a pair of 2P. As he said, its all pretty free form. At numbers higher than that you get more flexibility , with an even number of players being slightly more ideal.

The other key is to assess each players game preferences when drawing up the invite list. For instance, at one annual get together the focus is on wargames. So inviting someone who is more Euro oriented either will not be fun for that person, or result in tables being formed where maybe the non Euro players are less than enthused. And since you'll have a smaller pool of people, to put it bluntly, you may desire to exclude people you can tolerate for short stretches but not for say three solid days straight. I've bowed out of a few gatherings for exactly that reason.

Usually we plan out the first game of the day in advance, as its easier to know what time you'll be starting then ad lib from there as game length is often variable. Or have a loose "theme". For instance one gathering last year was primarily to play ANGOLA - so we knew in advance we needed an even multiple of four and how long each session was going to go approximately.

I've got a couple of these types of get togethers on my calendar each year for several years going back pre pandemic. While I don't plan on phasing out larger cons like WBC or CSW Expo, I do see them replacing a few less destination oriented cons. I saw more being organized during the pandemic as cons took a hiatus and even when things return back to "normal" I do see these sort of "private" gatherings taking hold for the long term once people see some of the advantages.

Another tip is to try to get a rough idea of who is bringing what game - this avoids both over packing as well as "Shit I thought Barnes was brining his copy of CASE BLUE". I've seen both situations happen.
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28 Sep 2021 10:17 #326804 by JoelCFC25
I made it to monthly wargame night last Friday for the first time in several months and played the host's choice--Storm Over Stalingrad-- as a result of the easy choice to avoid the Scythe table.

Randomly assigned the Germans, I got the hang of the game in under 10 minutes and spent the rest of the evening sending waves of attacks at Soviets dug in tighter than ticks on a dog. The cards give you the occasional opportunity to cancel bad stuff the enemy might do or boost your own plays, but mostly it seemed to come down to scanning the board for places where you can blob together enough units to have a decent chance at a roll that will actually cause losses, instead of just "flip and retreat", which doesn't really hurt the Soviets in any appreciable way.

So this mostly struck me as an East Front themed optimization exercise. Maybe that's wrong and there's more to be appreciated, but if that's the case, I'll be content to let that remain undiscovered--there are just too many other games of this heft and length I already know I like more.
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28 Sep 2021 10:42 #326805 by Shellhead
Player elimination games have fallen out of favor with modern gamers, but they are ideal when you have too many players for just one game. Without elimination, you are kind of stuck with the same table of players the whole time unless another table happens to finish a game right around the same time. With elimination games, you can get players slowly cycling from one table to another throughout the event.
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28 Sep 2021 10:50 - 28 Sep 2021 10:53 #326806 by Sagrilarus

JoelCFC25 wrote: I made it to monthly wargame night last Friday for the first time in several months and played the host's choice--Storm Over Stalingrad-- as a result of the easy choice to avoid the Scythe table.

Amen to that.

JoelCFC25 wrote: So this mostly struck me as an East Front themed optimization exercise. Maybe that's wrong and there's more to be appreciated, but if that's the case, I'll be content to let that remain undiscovered--there are just too many other games of this heft and length I already know I like more.


It's a pretty doggone light wargame, but it's engaging. In theory you bid to pick your side, which adds a brinkmanship aspect to the play. The victory criteria is based on that bidding.

Starkweather would bring this to Winter Offensive every year and set up a table for the ASL guys to play between rounds, and it always sold copies. It's a light, quick play. Its running gear has also been rehosted about a dozen times now, most with "Storm Over" at the beginning of their name. Tetsuya Nakamura, one of those you've-never-heard-of-him designers with a lot of material to his name. Maybe 40 or 50 titles. He just might earn enough royalties to pay his rent.
Last edit: 28 Sep 2021 10:53 by Sagrilarus.
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28 Sep 2021 17:54 - 28 Sep 2021 17:58 #326819 by ZeeAyKay
Played The Thing: The Boardgame (not to be confused with The Thing: Outpost 31) on TTS last night with 6 players, and it exceeded expectations (though take my opinion with a grain of salt since I also backed it.)

Despite the main board initially looking incredibly busy, and and being a bear to teach on TTS - though there is a great mod with automated set-up - the game is actually quite elegant and does a great job of emulating the feel of the movie.

The humans are trying to not freeze to death while also preparing to escape through one of three options, while the alien is either trying to kill/assimilate all the humans or escape with them. The mechanics really boil down to two phases.

Action Phase:

1. Each player goes to a room to keep the base operational, repair damage, prepare your escape vehicles, or gather useful items. Some rooms allow for "co-operation," which makes for more powerful actions when multiple people share a room, BUT...

2. If you share a room with someone (or 1 of the 4 dogs that roam the rooms), there's a chance you may become infected. If you're an alien, you can choose whether you want to try to infect someone, which has a 50/50 chance of working. Without getting into the weeds, the other player won't know if you're trying to infect them or not. If you're alone with a dog, there's a 2/9 chance of getting infected.

3. In turn order, you choose to go to any room and then pass an action card face-down - use, repair, or sabotage (17 copies of each). After everyone moves and passes him a card, the leader for the round shuffles all of the action cards, and then flips one up and assigns it to a character in a room to perform that action. After each action, they can decide to end the round immediately or continue to pull another card and assign it.

Accusation Phase:

There's a "suspicion track" at the top of the board that tracks players suspicion. Each time you share a room with another person or dog, your suspicion goes up one level (as it's possible you've become infected). During this phase, players simultaneously vote on someone they find suspicious. Every vote each player receives moves up one space. Moving up on this track does 2 additional things: If you reach max level, you must show the card you pass to the leader during the action phase. Most importantly, there are 2 days to test a human which generally involve either getting specific items or drawing blood bags from one of the rooms. When using a blood bag token, if you have one, you MUST only test the player that is highest on the suspicion track.


Compared to something like Dead of Winter, it's much more streamlined, dynamic, and unpredictable in an organic way. Dead of Winter has the whole system of having individual goals, but it lead to some awkward situations where it's like "I'm not evil, I just have to do this thing that I can't really tell you about!" When we played our game, there were legitimate differences of opinion on how to deal with the threats and where to assign cards. The alien players have some interesting options in how they want to win the game. If they play it too safe, however, and try to just "play nice" the whole game and sneak on an exit, it will be easier for the humans gain a bunch of tests and test everyone before the end-game. Once an alien is exposed, their gameplay changes slightly where they now secretly program where they will attempt to sabotage - and there will likely be hidden aliens to contend in addition to the exposed alien.

Even though I backed it I was somewhat skeptical of the rulebook, but in play it was remarkably smooth and an enjoyable experience. The feeling of paranoia is real, as players will almost HAVE to cooperate to be able to keep from freezing or escaping, and before you know it there's a chain of "well, if they started as the alien and John was in a room with him two turns ago, and Jason and Jerry were in a room with him last turn, they could all be aliens!"

In our game, only one other alien player was infected and then exposed. The original alien was able to stay under the radar the whole game, and escaped with the humans, winning the game. Everyone was excited to play again and I can see this being in regular rotation - especially around Halloween. On the plus-side, it also plays up to 8, and I don't think the game would drag much at all because of how snappy all of the actions are.
Last edit: 28 Sep 2021 17:58 by ZeeAyKay.
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28 Sep 2021 18:49 #326820 by hotseatgames
I'm glad to hear it is a fun game. I canceled my pledge on that one; I was not a fan of how they ran the campaign and it just seemed a bit off to me.

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29 Sep 2021 06:01 #326828 by Erik Twice

Shellhead wrote: Player elimination games have fallen out of favor with modern gamers, but they are ideal when you have too many players for just one game. Without elimination, you are kind of stuck with the same table of players the whole time unless another table happens to finish a game right around the same time. With elimination games, you can get players slowly cycling from one table to another throughout the event.

Being in a club has made elimination a complete non-issue to me. There's always another table to join and it doesn't matter too much if you leave early because you still can play every single day of the week.

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29 Sep 2021 06:06 #326829 by mc
Scotland Yard the Dice Game.

This is really very good. The designers who made Rajas of the Ganges, of all people, took an ancient family staple that really dragged on too long with big patches of not much happening and was fiddly to setup, and have made a really tight little hidden movement game that feels like just the good bits of the original. Detectives roll the dice and then select what they'll use and then Mr X has to use the same dice (with a few special one-time actions). Scaleable little map of tiles, 10-15 minutes to rock through. Really cool.
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01 Oct 2021 11:38 #326916 by mezike
At home:

Building a better, brighter future for mankind in Mission ISS where we take charge of mission control and guide a team of astronauts from across the globe to assemble the International Space Station in orbit. Some pretty cool stuff going on in this one that gives it enough spin to feel like a unique challenge each time we've played. Your team of astronauts each have three stats on counters that fit snugly into the bases of the 3D cardboard standees - movement, research and engineering. Because this is a game reflecting how Humankind is better when we work together you always combine these stats so a big part of the challenge is ensuring that you have the right people in the best possible position to support their crew-members and the ability to move quickly to areas where they are most needed, and encourages you to develop some individuals as mission specialists in one field or another.

Fitting new modules is pretty simple, you just need to match the difficulty level with combined engineering skill, however each such successful attempt causes a card draw that could make other modules harder to attach, requiring you to bring up and train more astronauts and to be smarter about how you prioritise your activities. At the same time research tasks are introduced and if these mount up you will be forbidden from attaching any more modules until you have cleared the back-log. This leads to awkward situations where your crew need to traverse to a distant part of the station in order to perform some research, and keeping a balance between the two demands is important as there is a fairly tight timeline that keeps up the pressure on getting those modules in place.

This balancing act is particularly notable in the core mechanism of the design which are the command cards that you use to give instructions to the crew. On your turn you pick one of the face up cards in front of you and take one from in front of another player, give the commands and then put both into your personal discard pile. If you have no cards available or none that you can take from another player you must take a rest action which refreshes your cards but also advances the timer. This reads as being a straightforward activity but is anything but in practice. Because it is so vital to do things in the correct order you very easily end up with situations where one player is left with fewer cards than the others and therefore has to refresh more rapidly; this also creates problems where you want to take one more action but doing so will force another player to refresh too early because there is nothing available for them to take from you in return. Likewise, leaving a player with only movement cards available to them is a problem if all the crew are exactly where you need them to be, not to mention the difficulties that can come up if one player has all of one type of command buried in their discards. It makes for a very tricky needle to thread and creates lots of discussion on which order of operation will best serve your goals. Every module that gets attached provides a single use action wild card that deliberately throws the tableau balance out of synch so no matter how carefully you plan there is an inevitable swing in hand sizes that creates a nice bumpy road to navigate.

Completing research tasks often provide some single-use rewards that can provide just the edge required to get out of a sticky situation. These have all been researched in great detail and there is a backstory in the manual explaining the history and importance of each task which is a lovely touch and I daresay just the kind of thing that the target audience for a game like this will want to soak up. You also have 'Cimon' robots that can be moved around the station to support your endeavours and which are also based on real machinery used on the ISS, right down to the smiley faced screensavers.

Building the entire station has proven to be a very tough challenge; we've played a few times with player counts ranging between one and three and have only managed to do this on one occasion, however there are some cards that can be added or removed to scale the difficulty depending on how much of a challenge one wishes to enjoy. The experience is also quite different between two and three players as having three smaller card tableaus makes for a very different challenge to two larger ones.

If you don't enjoy co-ops then this won't change your mind, but if the theme and style is appealing then I give this a hearty recommendation as a low budget and interesting family-friendly puzzler. There is enough variability that each game poses a unique challenge and throws plenty of curve balls at you, and although I don't see this ever being on heavy repeat it's cheap enough to acquire that I don't mind having it as something that will likely make only sporadic appearances after the initial rush of hotness dissipates.


at the club:

The Crew: mission deep sea, I can only echo what others have said in that this is an improved take on the original. The only thing that doesn't quite sit right for me is that the mission is now completely open-ended - you just keep increasing the difficulty and drawing more/harder challenge cards as needed, whereas I kind of liked how the original had an arc of missions that you were playing through which gave you an end point to work toward. Seems silly really to think of it that way as there wasn't any compelling or emergent story involved, it just feels more overtly detached from it's premise to me. Good game all the same.


Got around to trying My Farm Shop again but this time with all of the extra modules added in. These really do make a difference and it is a much better experience with them included. The main change is replacing one of the cards in the market with a sticky 'farmer' action which allows you to collect various items of farm machinery which can then be used to give you additional control over what produce is coming into your play area. This makes a huge amount of difference as it gives you more options to control the random elements of the game and both supports and rewards a more strategic style of thinking. There are also some other bits like 'first to' bonus scoring that add a bit of competitive drive and some asymmetric starting positions. It's an absolute certainty that this will end up slipping past most people, but I like it as a far better take on whatever it was Machi Koro was trying to achieve.
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01 Oct 2021 21:27 #326931 by Jackwraith
Got in two games of Ethnos. We only had three players, so we only played with five tribes. We had Wizards, Halflings, Centaurs, Elves, and Trolls in the first game. Centaurs and Wizards were the most frequent leaders; the former for double plays and the latter for drawing cards. While my friend, Nick, and I competed over board position, my other friend, Leah, focused on building up big bands of allies. So, when the first age ended (you only play two with three players), Nick and I had scores in the teens and Leah was somewhere north of 40. Despite our best efforts, and we did get much closer to her, we couldn't catch up so she took the win.

The second game we had Orcs, Winged Folk, Merfolk, Minotaurs, and Skeletons. By coincidence, we ended up with the more complex/extra board races in our second game, since this was a learning experience for all of us. This is the game where finishing in second place in the second age to take the first reward really had an impact, as well, as we had multiple kingdoms with large first age rewards and lower second age. I jumped out front on the Merfolk board with a band of seven (including three Skeletons) and was able to play three control markers in one go, but Nick was in the lead after the first age by filling his Orc board and sending them all out to pillage. I had multiple bands of 4+, but he was 10 points in front of me. But in the second age, it was more difficult for him to execute that strategy, since he couldn't just drop single Orc cards because he had multiple control markers in various kingdoms. It became a really interesting game for me in terms of simply not wanting to place control markers where I was already in second place, since I'd get the larger Glory reward for remaining that way. I shot ahead because of the size of a couple bands again and won the game by two points.

There's a lot of depth here and the differing tribes calls for different approaches in each game. We went from double plays, drawing cards, or saving cards (Elves) to none of that in the second game and having to figure out burst plays like with the Merfolk and Orcs. The Winged Folk also help a lot because of their versatility and that's what allowed me to place counters only in the spots that I wanted to place them, instead of depending on my hand or what I drew. I can easily see this one becoming a favorite. I remain mystified at the outright disdain for the "fantasy theme" that I see on r/boardgames, though. It's basically innocuous. You'd think that gamers no longer like wizards, trolls, and dragons anymore.
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04 Oct 2021 02:10 #326950 by Jackwraith
Played two more 3-player games of Ethnos. The first game was with Wizards, Halflings, Elves, Orcs, and Trolls. Both of my players were newbs, but they caught on quite quickly and one of them won by about 10 points. Considering that the majority of plays see scores going well over 50 points, it makes me wonder why they only scaled the VP track to that point. It's easy enough to just keep counting past it, but it's odd. Second game was with Giants, Dwarves, Centaurs, Skeletons, and Winged Folk. This was a bit more interesting with the tempting presence of Dwarves, Skeletons, and Winged Folk in terms of scoring options (bands vs control markers.) I won the first age by a considerable margin, but the winner of the first game caught up to me and then passed me by one point for the win. If I hadn't been greedy, I could've dropped another Dwarven band the turn prior to the Dragon card showing up and secured the win. That's another of the great moments of tension in this game: guessing when that last Dragon will show up and how long you can angle for a larger band for your last play and/or keeping other good things in your hand from your opponents if the game happens to go a few more turns.

We then lost a player and switched to Neuroshima Hex. My opponent decided on Uranopolis, even though I mentioned that they're a tough ask. I grabbed randomly from the box and pulled Steel Police, which is an awful matchup for Uranopolis, just to raise the bar even higher. He had trouble getting things powered up and I moved my HQ out of his line of fire within the first couple turns. Then I started dropping the Steel Net and placing Judges in advantageous spots (like, say, on the other side of his HQ from one of his Infernos to rebound shots back on to the HQ.) He conceded when his HQ dropped to 7 and mine had only taken 2 hits from me using the Net and we still had a couple rounds left. He became aware of one of the key elements of faction assessment: the number of Battle tiles, which often determines who's calling the shots and when. Again, the engineers are a bad matchup for the SP, so it's not a great example, but he's still eager to try out more combinations.
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04 Oct 2021 16:45 #326974 by jpat
Hauntober at our house this year represents a friendly challenge from my wife to me to play something like 31 games with some sort of horror-related theme. We're probably backing off from that a bit--I don't think I have 31 such games, and trying to learn all those directions is not something I'm all that keen on--but the gauntlet in some form has been thrown down.

This past weekend involved either trying or revisiting two of the early Flying Frog games: A Touch of Evil and Last Night on Earth. I will say, having never played it before this weekend, that Touch of Evil is almost certainly the better designed game mechanically, but LNoE strikes a better balance between rules weight and what it's trying to do. AToE brings a few things to the table but, at least at first blush, seems inferior, from both a mechanisms and gameplay front, to subsequent games such as Eldritch Horror (and could probably be compared unfavorably to other games that existed on its release). LNoE wasn't that rock solid when it came out into a then fairly uncrowded thematic space and has probably only aged more aggressively as newer zombie games have come out, but it's a nice, light-ish dice chucker that encourages, if not necessitates, a fair bit of light roleplaying. Our most recent game this weekend was "set" in a postapocalyptic world where the town was one of the last holdouts against the zombie horde. Via random draw and one character respawn, we ended up with four "students" and one escaped prisoner. The students had a complicated love quadrangle, the implications of which were reduced somewhat by the quick demise of the farmer's daughter, who both missed with her shotgun and broke it on her first attempt. The zombies won, so the town sunk into the mire with most of the rest of the world.

I will say also that the 10 Year Anniversary editions of both games, though maybe especially LNoE, do add a fair bit to the game beyond a higher price tag. The boxes are supposed to hold everything ever made for the games (a proposition I can't directly test), add some deluxe components, and (largely) unify the rulebooks with both base and expansion content. They also backport some rules from expansions into the base games. So they're not just quick-and-cheap cash grabs but do reflect some legitimate design and polish effort, even as the games themselves are a little mechanically suspect. (Think of them as remasters rather than new editions.) I feel kind of sleazy stressing the value of the deluxe components--I *really* love the blue truck model and the gas can plastic pieces in LNoE--but these are basically experience games, not brain-burning tactical affairs, so aesthetics are worth considering.
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