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Michael Barnes
August 18, 2022
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Godtear Beats the Odds - Review

Board Game Reviews
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thegiantbrain
August 18, 2022
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thegiantbrain
August 11, 2022
363 0
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WadeMonnig
August 10, 2022
595 1
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oliverkinne
August 09, 2022
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thegiantbrain
August 04, 2022
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oliverkinne
August 01, 2022
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Scout Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
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oliverkinne
July 29, 2022
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thegiantbrain
July 28, 2022
611 0
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WadeMonnig
July 27, 2022
904 1
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oliverkinne
July 26, 2022
1017 0
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thegiantbrain
July 25, 2022
741 0

The Split - Review

Board Game Reviews
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thegiantbrain
July 21, 2022
819 0
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing?

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11 Jun 2022 11:55 #333607 by mezike
At home:

Robin Hood is great fun, we are on the last chapter and it’s been a blast. I can’t do as much justice describing it in detail as Charlie and others already have other than to echo that there is something wonderful with so much of the narrative coming through emergent physical play. The slightly wonky written text in the book is often nothing more than setting the scene, disposable revelations that facilitate the real story-telling element. It works really well as a collaborative effort as you figure out which characters to send where, with plenty of options to discuss - we just use three of the four outlaws and eschew any ownership of a particular avatar unless forced to by circumstances in the scenario. I love the advent-calendar mechanism of the board and as the plot unfolds over a series of chapters they really make good use of this beyond simply being a gimmick. It may only last for no more than eighteen plays but has been great value so far. Strong recommendation on this one.

High Frontier 4 All oh noes! A game designed by an undesirable chap. Despite choking back our rising bile at having to shield our eyes from unpalatable footnotes we’ve managed to get into double-figure plays of this over the past couple of months which believe me is no mean feat. There is something almost triumphant about managing to land a colonist on one of the Galilean moons without having a slight fuel miscalculation turn the adventure into a slow generational grind, or the craft falling apart and everyone frying to death in a radiation burn due to a teeny hiccup in your planning.

As with most titles from this particular chap, the outward complexity belies a fairly simple engine underneath the dense and punitive weight of all those complicated yet delicately balanced card interactions. The first couple of plays are full of stuttering starts as you bungle your designs and realise that you need to scale back from your dream of making the perfect launch. Simply getting into space and making territorial claims is a big enough hill to climb, but studying the board and looking at all the potential cool rocketry combinations creates a strong draw on the potential ambition that is on offer. You want to get out to Saturn and Jupiter, and can quickly figure out neat and sometimes unconventional ways in which to do this, but will you race for it with a lightweight scout so that you can plant some flags in choice places or will you take on the additional burden of a factory or even some Human passengers in order to turn this into a one-way trip with a more permanent claim?

Once you get a feel for how various rocket parts work together it’s easy to see through the matrix of options and to know which combinations are going to get you that asteroid base that will then set you up for deeper exploration, or which clever solar-sail and Robonaut combinations will allow you to survey more broadly and quickly whilst you prepare a bigger mission to follow. Mars is always an interesting one as it is relatively easy to get to however it can also often be a red herring that will swallow your funds and hold you back from more valuable exploits. There is also some more manipulative options in play with how you time actions, invest in the political lobby, or even commit felonies to steal other player’s claims. You can also trade and negotiate although this feels like something better suited to having a big group of players rather than two-player and not an avenue that we’re likely to go down.

One thing that we have started to feel quite keenly is that the base game, for all the worthiness of simplifying and streamlining the beast, feels somewhat of a stub of an experience. Where are the Isotope rockets that are a must for reaching the furthest reaches of Uranus, Neptune and the dwarf planets? Where are the extra colonists so that you can truly realise the taming of the solar system without having to invest everything into the slow progress of a single unit? Where are the freighters and space stations to elevate the flatness of factories and colonies? The ‘4 All’ package is very much a taster of the full scope of the project, even with two simpler game modes for greater accessibility, but for anyone who is absorbed by their potentially overwhelming first brush with the design the expansions are noticeable by their absence and feel like a must in order to fill in the obvious gaps. This is a big, dense, complex, punishing game that will swallow up a whole day but it is also incredibly rewarding if you have the desire for the experience.


At the club:

Durian is a relatively recent (2020) addition to Oink’s catalogue of surprisingly beefy games in tiny boxes. In this one you are all employees in a fruit market owned by a trio of sibling Gorillas, all of which is completely superfluous but why not have a bit of fun along the way. A deck of domino-esque cards have varying quantities of two of four different fruits printed on them, one of which sits in front of every player facing outward in a holder that prevents you from knowing what is on your own card - this is the inventory in the market. Take turns to pull a card and choose one of the two sides to be an active order, or if you feel that there isn’t enough inventory to fulfil all the orders you ring a teeny bell. Guess correctly and the previous player gets a malus token that steadily increase in value, guess wrong and it’s yours, first to seven finishes the game and the lowest score wins so don’t screw up and breathe a sigh of relief when the player after you chooses to pull a card rather than ring that bell.

Like a lot of Oink material it seems at first glance to be too simple, too straightforward, however there is the ever-present thread of the cunning and sublime running through it. When that one person put in an order for Blueberries and there clearly aren’t enough available then that must mean you have some on your hidden card right? The snag here is that everyone is thinking the same thing and that one hidden card casts enough sweet and juicy doubt to enable the game to function as players over-reach with seemingly confident plays. To complicate things still further there are a trio of cards that represent the hirsute stakeholders which have wild effects such as cancelling all order cards with exactly three fruits on them, and sow all kinds of delicious confusion around the table. Lots of options to mess with everyone’s minds in this one, and very much some hidden depths to plum(b).

Neom is a tile-laying game that bites off from Seven Wonders. Draw and draft some tiles, chuck ‘em down in your city, and get points from doing stuff in the best combination possible. Despite seeding some ‘disaster’ tiles into the mix that are intended to break your opponents' stuff they don’t see much play because the action usually has a net impact lower than simply taking something positive for yourself. Very insular, feels more like a solitaire ‘beat your best score’ machine than anything else, but it’s okay, it works despite not being anything particularly special.
The following user(s) said Thank You: mads b., Gary Sax, Legomancer, Msample, Jackwraith, sornars, DarthJoJo, Virabhadra, Dive-Dive-Dive!

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12 Jun 2022 00:59 #333612 by hotseatgames
Some great two player gaming tonight....

Mind MGMT round 1: training game, my opponent thought being the recruiter (the hider) sounded more fun so he took that role all night. He beat me.

Round 2: We jumped to the full rules game. He OBLITERATED me. The simple benefit to the recruiter that you don't know where they start makes it so much harder for the Rogue Agents.

Round 3: I opened the first Rogue Agents SHIFT box, which gave me another tool to help locate the Recruiter. I then proceeded to forget to deploy it for several turns. Finally, on the LAST possible turn, I captured the Recruiter! Then, for fun we opened the first recruiter SHIFT box, and holy shit it's a doozy.

Mind MGMT is the greatest hidden movement game I have ever played.

We finished the night with a classic, Cave Troll. This was my opponent's first time. I had experience, and crushed him. I have never gotten to play this game with more than two players, but I bet it's way more wild. It's a great game.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Legomancer, Jackwraith, mezike, sornars, BillyBobThwarton

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12 Jun 2022 16:34 #333616 by hotseatgames
Had my first game of Guards of Atlantis II today. I just got it delivered yesterday. Taught my son, who is very into League of Legends. Guards is a MOBA board game, and has a lot of parallels with League, except with no toxic fanbase.

We did the "quick" game which is really meant for learning, and he took to it pretty well. Guards is not the easiest game to learn, and running two heroes by yourself is even harder. The stock player count starts at 4, so when you only have two players you have to run a team of 2 heroes alone. It can be a lot to manage.

I was able to push the lane first, driving right to his tower's doorstep. The zone in front of the enemy tower actually gets one more defending minion, giving the person about to lose a slight advantage. Luckily for me I was able to utilize my attacks a little better and killed his last minion JUST as he was about to kill mine, giving me the win. My son liked it, but really wished for a teammate, so I don't expect him to want to play it much two player. I suppose I can't blame him. Battle for Biternia is much easier to handle two player.
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12 Jun 2022 18:13 #333617 by WadeMonnig
My son had a friend over this weekend, so we played some stuff both Friday and Saturday. Lighter, more party game type stuff.

Anomia - Always a blast, We played two rounds of this with me winning the first game and my son taking the second. I still say this is a polite person's worst nightmare.

Cockroach Poker Ended on a really devious note: Ashley had 3 stinkbug cards and I passed her a stinkbug and said "It's a stinkbug" She, of course, decided to pass and sent it to my son saying "It's a stinkbug" He looked at me and said "Would you pass a stinkbug to Ashely knowing it would cause her to lose? Of course you would. It IS a stinkbug", so it gave Ashely her last stinkbug. We all did the Loooossserrrr Jim Carey chants.

Coup I don't think this one really jived with my son's friend, we played two games but it just wasn't clicking with them.

Fantasy Fluxx Played this about three times. It's Fluxx, of course, Best part was everyone recognizing the references to the Fantasy Tropes.

TBH Played the NSFW expansion. The conversations about this are a blast. Picked up the NSFW expansion from Charlie Theel and was shocked by him proudly displaying Monopoly in his front window during my porch pick-up. You think you know someone after reading their reviews, but....LOL
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Gary Sax, Jackwraith, mezike, hotseatgames, charlest, DarthJoJo

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12 Jun 2022 18:52 #333619 by charlest
True story. After Wade picked up some games off my porch he messaged me pointing out the hilarity of a copy of monopoly sitting in the window.

I actually have four copies sitting nearby the front door as my wife was using them for her last week of school - she teaches fourth grade. I have no idea why they played monopoly, but she does not hold me in high esteem as a board game critic.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, dysjunct, Jackwraith, mezike, hotseatgames, sornars, WadeMonnig, DarthJoJo, n815e, Kmann

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12 Jun 2022 22:47 #333629 by Jackwraith
I've been playing nothing but GIPF Project games since MB and Vysetron began talking about them on Twitter. I only had YINSH, ZERTZ, and TZAAR many years ago and my ex didn't like any of them, so I traded them. But since the conversation began, I've worked my way back into all of the six readily available ones (those three plus GIPF, DVONN, and PÜNCT) and have a copy of LYNGK en route. Once I get in a few plays of the latter, I'll write something substantial for the site. But Vysetron already did: pixeldie.com/2022/06/08/every-gipf-project-game-ranked/

Like everyone else, I still think YINSH is probably the best of them (as does my girlfriend; I think it might be true, people!), but I still find both ZERTZ and PÜNCT to be fascinating and much moreso than (what I find to be) the more basic DVONN, GIPF, and TZAAR. Both ZERTZ and PÜNCT allow for baiting and trading moves that are so wonderfully oblique that they strike me as superior to the others. Or perhaps that's just my obscure sense of humor. It's true that you can do some really weird stuff with DVONN, as well. Anyway, more plays/research to be had and, likely sometime in August, I'll have something up about all seven of them. Maybe sooner. Hard to tell when LYNGK will be arriving.

Oh, also played some Abyss (not ABYSS) but with new people again (le sigh) so neither Kraken nor Leviathan were involved. Seeing those same people again tomorrow, so perhaps I'll finally get the useless minis out.
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12 Jun 2022 22:49 #333630 by Gary Sax
Jackwraith, fwiw, Chris Farrell has a lot of interesting thoughts over the last few years about those games on his instagram.

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12 Jun 2022 23:19 #333631 by Jackwraith
Thanks...? I don't know who Farrell is and almost never use Instagram. I am interested to see what he has to say except that searching for "Chris Farrell" on that network brings up about two dozen different possibilities, none of whom I'm familiar with.

Tangent: I see people regularly mention individuals or abbreviations or shows or any number of other things as if everyone on here is in the know about what they're talking about. Maybe I'm the old man of the group, but I find it really disconcerting to constantly be asking "What is X?" Wade did it just above in this thread when he mentions playing "TBH." I don't know what "TBH" is and, honestly, would have been too fucking annoyed to bother asking if I didn't start going off on a rant here. I know that most of you know whom "Vysetron" is, but might not know that he posts on Twitter using his first actual initial ("D") So, instead of having people shrug in their ignorance or have to post an annoyed question ("Where is this article by Vysetron?"), I just linked it because I know that not everyone uses Twitter on the regular or would've seen the conversation that MB and I have been having with him, off and on for the past few weeks, about the GIPF Project. I'm really not trying to unload on you here, Gary, but links can be REALLY convenient if you don't assume that everyone is looking at the same electronic horizon as you are. I just assume that no one sees what I do and so regularly link everything I'm talking about, if I think it's pertinent. Maybe it's simply because my interests are so wide-ranging that I'm just not in the "cool kids" club that knows what game TBH is and also knows who Chris Farrell is because I don't spend enough time in board game corners of the Interwebs? Or something. /tangent
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12 Jun 2022 23:50 - 13 Jun 2022 00:06 #333632 by Gary Sax
Naw, I get it. I know Sag has this problem constantly about acronyms too. TBH is internet speak for "to be honest." fwiw is "For what it's worth."

twitter.com/cfarrell317


Chris used to post on a blog and on BGG and he has interesting reviews. I don't consistently agree with his views (and boy does he hate Barnes) but he has good long blog length posts on instagram. He has been playing a lot of this series over the years with family.

Vysetron used to be a regular poster on here before iirc (if I recall correctly) he was unhappy with moderation and such, great schism and all. Or he was bored here. Who knows. He does occassional reviews and has quite interesting commentary on his own outlets.

mobile.twitter.com/vysetron

Hope that helps. Feel free to call me out on acronyms.
Last edit: 13 Jun 2022 00:06 by Gary Sax.
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13 Jun 2022 07:25 #333633 by WadeMonnig
It's funny how close we think Marc. TBH is literally a game called TBH which stands for "To Be Honest" which I did a review for a couple of weeks ago...including a riff on the name starting with OMG LOL FR mocking internet abrevations.
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13 Jun 2022 08:17 #333634 by Legomancer
High Frontier 4 All: Is packed now but getting this playing is priority one after I move.

NEOM: I like it lot, but I like city building as a theme. The disaster tiles should see play, as they can't be used to get money or build a cornerstone. The only way to not get one played is if it was someone's discarded last tile, and it's usually worth picking to harass your opponents by that point. I do like being able to buy resources from the others. It's not the greatest game, but in its space I like it, more than 7 Wonders.

Speaking of drafting, It's a Wonderful World continues to be a delight. The Corruption and Ascension expansion is very good, adding almost no additional weight while opening up a couple more opportunities for building. Dumb title, though.

All my games are now packed for 2 weeks, awaiting the move to my new place. Can't wait. I tote my games in two orange grocery bags and those stayed out, so I have access to two new one: Cryo and Airship City, IAWW, and Pax Transhumanity. LLAMA too. Also Class Struggle and Scotland Yard which are too big to fit in the boxes I was using.
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13 Jun 2022 08:26 #333636 by charlest
Cryo is a neat game. Really enjoyed my single play of it.
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13 Jun 2022 15:56 #333657 by Jackwraith
No, I get most of the common stuff. I'm a long-time user of things like IIRC and OTOH, although I try to avoid them when I'm writing. I just didn't know there was a game called To Be Honest. If you'd just used it in regular fashion, I probably would've flowed right along with it. Maybe it's, again, just a measure of how out of the loop I am re: board games that I simply didn't get it.

Thanks for the link to Chris' stuff.

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13 Jun 2022 16:18 #333659 by dysjunct
I can't be bothered to Instragram, but Chris Farrell is a great geekbuddy to have. His comments on games are always very well-done and insightful, even though my tastes don't exactly line up with his. Good critiques are a rare bird.
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13 Jun 2022 19:27 - 13 Jun 2022 19:48 #333660 by Sagrilarus
Got another game of HtR in last night. Magnificent.
Last edit: 13 Jun 2022 19:48 by Sagrilarus.

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