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oliverkinne
January 27, 2023
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January 26, 2023
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Aves Board Game Review

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January 25, 2023
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January 24, 2023
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January 24, 2023
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January 23, 2023
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Hardback Board Game Review

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January 20, 2023
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January 20, 2023
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Outpost 18 Review

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January 05, 2023
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Villagers Board Game Review

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January 05, 2023
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January 03, 2023
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December 29, 2022
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December 28, 2022
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December 26, 2022
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Plutocracy Board Game Review

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18 Jan 2023 14:03 #337908 by jeb
My kid was back from college (Brandeis! Attn: Uba!), and wanted to play some board games. We broke out a whole spiel over the month.
  • WINGSPAN: I know some folks here hate it, but too bad, this is awesome. I love the birds!!!!! We play with the nectar stuff, so there's another couple routes for points.
  • PUZZLE STRIKE: Sirlin "deck"builder using chips instead for easy shuffling. Game was actually really swingy, using the rule that whoever is lowest when someone is knocked out wins. Folks end up in the weird dynamic of attacking and saving players depending on their current load.
  • THROUGH THE AGES: Pass-and-play on the iPad to save some overhead. We didn't finish, but I was getting crushed and I think the Iconoclast card should be thrown into a fire.
  • ECLIPSE: Again, iPad, I was styling in this one. Snagged the galactic center and turtled. Got some highrolls with my fancy computers and held folks off.
  • CANASTA: Serious business in this house. Tears, guys, tears.
  • BARRAGE: Big-ass Cranio game about hydroelectric power. And Steampunk somehow? It's fun enough, and I love the size] of these games (I also have GOLEM).
  • PAPERBACK: Deckbuilding wordgame that needs a pretty thorough round of development. I like it, but some cards/powers are broke as hell.
  • THE INITIATIVE: We beat this one. Lots of wonderful puzzles and codes to crack and some really nice times in this box if you have a playgroup of four.
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES: BAKER STREET IRREGULARS: Lots of reading and I call bulllllllllshit on Holmes doing these in ten visits or whatever. There ain't that much reading.
  • RIICHI MAHJONG: I came out strong with All Pairs (Chiitoitsu), but this was a wildly scoring game. Two Baimans, a Hanuman, Mangans, and a 11.6k 3-Han hand. Crazy.
  • LE HAVRE: Nailbiter. I thought I had this one, but my kid pulled off some shenanigans and snuck through with a no-shipping strat. They owned the Shipping Line, so we all had to pay them, and I think this might have done it.

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22 Jan 2023 12:07 - 22 Jan 2023 13:44 #337949 by dysjunct
One of the BLADE RUNNER players couldn’t make it, so we did board games yesterday.

  • WAR OF THE RING: THE CARD GAME. Second play of this for everyone. We switched up who played what. At 3p, I played both Shadow decks. It’s really great how differently each deck plays. Mordor has crazy cycling with the Nazgûl where each one has a different ability if cycled from the reserve. It’s almost better to keep them in reserve than to actually pursue the Fellowship on the path. Saruman seems like the simpler of the two but is hard to manage due to having three different factions. Aggressive draws are key. So much of the game is cutting your losses and/or knowing when not to engage. 4p is probably better but I had plenty of fun running two decks. I won handily and crushed the Free Peoples like the vermin they are.

  • QE with COMMODITIES expansion, 3p. This adds a variety of commodities (gold, oil, crypto) which go to the second-highest bidder. The money spent on a commodity goes to the auctioneer, reducing his total spend. Changes the dynamics quite a bit. It’s fun, not sure how necessary it is. I like the pure brinksmanship of the base game. I came in third.

  • CAT IN THE BOX. The quantum trick taking game, where the suit of each card is in an indeterminate state until you play it and declare what suit it is. A beautiful and brilliant game. Need to play it more but I’m kind of flabbergasted by it.
Last edit: 22 Jan 2023 13:44 by dysjunct.
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22 Jan 2023 12:16 #337950 by Ah_Pook
I've heard commodities fixes the potential for degenerate game states in base QE, and I'm quite interested in trying it out. Not interested enough to rebuy the base game and also buy an expansion but y'know.

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22 Jan 2023 12:42 - 22 Jan 2023 13:54 #337951 by dysjunct
Hard to say after one play. Also I’ve never been able to create the degenerative game state despite several attempts. That said:

- It incentivizes the auctioneer to open really high. Because if you get second then it’s a free commodity for you. So that is interesting. But then there’s the increased risk that everyone will underbid you and you’ll get first instead. Also interesting.

- Getting second is really good. The most points you get for an industry tile is 4vp, IIRC (plus bonus for set collection, own country, etc.). The most points you can get for a commodity is 10vp (with an average of maybe 6vp), and you’re guaranteed not to have spent as much as the 1st place guy. So it reigns in the incentive to bid super high.

- It doesn’t seem to fundamentally change the groupthink dynamic around valuation of the tiles, but it does add more to keep track of. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. It was kind of fuzzy anyway.

- The commodities are interesting in their own right and it is not obvious which one to choose if you win 2nd. There’s oil (fewest average points, but a phat bonus if you get the most tiles), gold (highest average points, but everyone gets a phat penalty to their gold tiles if they sell out), and cryptocurrency (swingiest, you might get 10vp or 0vp or anywhere in between). Plus sinking all your country’s sovereign wealth into dogecoin is hilarious.

If you soured on the base game then it’s definitely try before you buy. But I had a good time with it. I think my main criticism is that I don’t yet feel compelled to play with the expansion every time. I like expansions that are a seamless add with close to zero rules overhead. This is definitely not that. And since I haven’t been able to do the degenerate hyperinflation thing, it’s not necessary to fix a problem.

Still fun though.
Last edit: 22 Jan 2023 13:54 by dysjunct.
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23 Jan 2023 13:20 #337957 by DarthJoJo
My old gaming group made the drive two hours down the freeway, so that was a Friday evening and an entire Saturday shot with gaming.

Kind of special because my eldest was excited to join in, and the group was gracious enough to play a few rounds of UNO and Sushi Go! with him. One really fell on her sword during Ticket to Ride: Europe though. He understands the rules and play well enough, but the planning and strategy is another question, especially on such a big map when he’s used to the New York game. She talked him through his plays to a second-place finish while she scored a whole 8. Her sacrifice was appreciated.

Winner’s Circle and Speicherstadt are our groups absolute staples. At least one comes out every time we get together and managed both this time. We had a crazy finish in Knizia’s finest gambling game. After two rounds the three of us combined had less money than the leader (aided greatly by his double bet on the solo champion when the other player forgot he had bluffed on that horse), but he only squeaked the victory by $50 in the end. It’s a great game to finish an evening. Doesn’t require that much thought but still evokes plenty of cheers.

Fit in two games of Feld’s finest. I won the first with a balanced strategy of a little of everything but lost the second hard by going for a little of everything but with less direction. I’ve played it enough that I don’t think I need to play it anymore, but with this group, it goes so fast and easy, I don’t mind.

Taught one member of the group Melee. I’ll always enjoy the tightness of this bluffing game but still need to play a round with the special powers. Won this round by slowly marching my soldier over the mountain to attack an unsecured flank.

We even managed some new stuff. I had my favorite round yet of Finger Guns at High Noon. Posses were formed, power shots were outdrawn, and I managed the win after surviving three rounds on a single health by somehow convincing the ghosts to both shoot the other survivor. Felt like all the drama you want to see.

Really happy to finally get Northern Pacific on the table. In a sense the rules are even simpler than Ticket to Ride because you only have two possible actions on your turn rather than three. You place an investment cube in a city or lay new track. Investment cubes are points but are only scored when a track reaches the city. Track only goes west, and if it turns toward Vancouver rather than Portland, you’re not getting those points. The play is all above board in the deal making and mutual benefits necessary to get things done. Excited to come back to it.

Less happy to finally play Battle for Rokugan which is a huge disappointment because I’ve been trying to get it to the table for literal years. It’s the Game of Thrones board game but simplified. Attacks and defenses and raids and feints are hidden under tiles as you try and take new lands and protect your own. It should be an exciting match of considering whether someone really is attacking your capital on three borders or just trying to draw your attention away from a thrust into the Shadowlands. Instead it’s somehow too static and too ephemeral. Lands are gained and lost but finish in the basically the same position by the endgame. It just missed that spark. Maybe in stripping down a game meant to take a whole evening, they lost the ability to make the individual wins and losses in battle meaningful. I’d like to try it another time or two in case we missed something, but I don’t know when that will be.

The big winner of the weekend though was this indie, foreign production you’ve probably never heard of: Hansa Teutonica. I was intimidated by it for a while, especially by the pile of numbers on the player board, but they’re all just modifiers to the game’s five basic actions, only one of which is anything more than bone simple. It’s so good. You could probably accuse it of being a point salad where every action is scoring you points, but the blocking and advantages of forcing displacement and dropping a trading post on the route another player is abusing are so delicious. The group unanimously asked for a second round after the lunch break, and the winner took it by forcing another player to 20 points for the early finish. So good.

This was once Barnes’ copy, so I must ask again whether it is better than a guitar. Yes. It is. Maybe better than three guitars.

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23 Jan 2023 22:57 #337969 by Jackwraith
Monday group was again only three, so I brought a pile of stuff appropriate for smaller player counts and the host's six-year-old immediately pointed to Tiny Epic Mechs. It had been a couple years since the mech arena had been on the table, so I was fine with that. I took Diamond (Self-Repair: When you Power Up and Heal, heal your first 5 health for free) because I'd never played her before and, knowing my two opponents, I figured this was going to be a high combat game. The host took Ghost (with the mostest) who has Cyborg: Can use a Basic Weapon slot to equip an Advanced Weapon. The third player took Drakkenstrike (Overload: After you damage an opponent with a weapon, you may discard it to double the damage.) The setup was heavy on points toward Ghost's area and he was in the single slot across from our two corners in the 3-player setup, so it was easy to exploit for infrastructure points (turrets and mines) and, once he saw how valuable those were after the first scoring round, he made that his main strategy. I'm not normally a fan of the Mighty Mech, thinking it makes you too much of a target and, playing Diamond, it's probably not a great idea to get into it because then you can't use her ability (you can't heal in any way inside the Mighty Mech.) But I got moved next to it by Ghost's Vorpal Spiker and my regular move took me on to the space. You score 3 points at the end of each scoring round just for being in it (plus 2 for entering it), so I grabbed it and spent a good portion of the rest of the game inside. Drakkenstrike got repeatedly beaten down by me and Ghost and I also beat Ghost a couple more times. In the end, I only lost one fight that knocked me out of the MM and I eventually got it back to be inside it at the end of the game. But all of my combat victories couldn't compete with Ghost's turrets in a 3- and 2-zone near his base that I was never in a position to clean up, so he won, 57-52-43. He also had the edge in more expensive weapons, since I went for the practical things like the Laser Blaster and the Crossbolt, once I realized I was going to have to fight my way to victory. Those weapons don't provide a lot of points at the end like the flashier stuff. I still think this is one of the better Tiny Epics, although I know it gets rejected by a lot of people that don't understand it's about the points, not the explosions.
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25 Jan 2023 09:54 #337999 by DarthJoJo
My best ever two-week stretch of gaming rolls on. Played Concordia for the first time. Perfectly pleasant experience. The core loop of card play and gain is clean, but it kind of suffers in comparison to Hansa. There is a similar play on the board, but every choice felt painful in Steding’s masterpiece. I always felt like I had time in Concordia. I went north and he went south, and we did our own thing only really bumping into each other in the last few turns. It lacked that same pressure, but that could be due to just having two players, even on the Corsica map. Definitely want to try with four or five. Another game abandoned by Barnes, but the first that might not be worth more than a guitar.

If I’m not posting it, just assume I’m playing a lot of Bullet, but I want to call out some great boss design in Star. Behemoth and Celestial Cleaning especially put new pressure on the player to think about the game and characters in new ways to win.
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25 Jan 2023 11:38 #338004 by Ah_Pook
Hansa Teutonica scales HORRIBLY to 2p, if memory serves.
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25 Jan 2023 18:09 - 25 Jan 2023 18:10 #338020 by Bernie
Got a brief hour and a half session of Aeon Trespass: Odyssey in today. Was hoping for longer, but it was not to be.

We got in our last level one monster fight against the Labyrinthtauros. We had pretty much the perfect dice with a hot open avoiding the first two monster attacks entirely. That’s pretty lucky. We played that luck into a sound string of attacks and just blew the monster out. When the fight ended we had taken 2 minor injuries for the whole fight… That’s really ridiculous. After our flurry and f fights here we are hoping for some smooth sailing for a bit.

Should get back to it tomorrow.

I may also be launching a solo play of ISS Vanguard tomorrow. So it could be a pretty awesome day of gaming. Wish me luck :)
Last edit: 25 Jan 2023 18:10 by Bernie. Reason: Auto correct
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26 Jan 2023 09:41 - 26 Jan 2023 09:43 #338028 by Sagrilarus
Played a learning game of the new Heat last night, running two cars against each other with the basic rules. A few of observations --


1. This is indeed a racing game, thoroughly so in its basic rule set and that may be a preferred way to play for a lot of people. Identical cars, battle of wits, battle of the lucky draw. The action is on the track, not doing syndicate bullshit. No one is racing a team of cars, no spending cap, none of that. Race.

The advanced game lets you do deck constructing, which I look at as about as interesting as doing my taxes. But! I can steal a decent build off the Internet and play that way against people that care enough to do a good job of it. It may be that you get dealt 10 cards and get to choose 4 or something like that, I'll be looking into that later this week. Might be fun. I'm happy to give it a shot and see how it goes.


2. I played a rule wrong, which should have more or less buried one of my two cars, but it didn't. Even with four and then five Heat cards in its hand for most of the race, it kept up with the lead car due to a couple of ways to catch up when you're behind. You get a free one-space-forward each turn you're in last (for no particular reason, named the Adrenaline phase because naming it the Embarrassment phase wouldn't engender as much fun) plus two free spaces for slipstreaming a car in front or behind you. I think the Embarrassment space should go, there's enough chatter in the game for people to catch up. If that's gone the slipstream might not be as powerful, as often I could embarrass the weak car up and then actually choose to move up one or two spaces with the slipstream afterwards.

The result was that this car that was buried in Heat was able to be caught-up or even ahead of a completely healthy car more than half the time. The win came down to the final turn. Granted, a complete noob playing both cars, that may not be what happens with a more competent driver in the healthy car. And the rule I missed -- discard heat from your hand, not your play area, would make taking heat far less troublesome because it's so much easier to dump. Would change the game a lot.


3. "Language Independence" which is boardgame-ese for crytography. I whine about this all the time so you can skip ahead. I was looking through the advanced game cards (the ones you deck-construct with to make a better car) and I ran across a Heat card that had a set of symbols not on the quick reference guide. My interpretation of the symbols was "this is just a normal Heat card" and indeed that's what it was, which begged the question why put symbols on it at all. I asked in the BGG forums (I was question #250 for the game, less than a year old) and someone involved in writing the rules clarified for me that it just means that you get to have 1 extra Heat card, which is a good thing. But, since they can't put writing on the cards, it had to use symbols. Having a card that says "I'm just a normal card" can arouse suspicion in a reader that maybe they're missing something.

The take-away from this -- the guy involved in writing the rules admitted that they're putting out a revised rule book that adds a lot of material. He sounded a little miffed at one point and told me it's in the rules on page 3 of the advanced rules, and that the reason there were 250 questions was because people weren't reading. I asked him clearly -- I'm on page 3, show me where to put my eyes. He came back and apologized, indicating he's looking at the new version of the rule book, where it is now included. So a new rule book is due in the future, and hopefully will clear up some of the . . . uh . . . less clear . . . parts of the the crytography. Good news.

I'll end with a question -- the USA map has only two laps, and there's no blocking. The game was done awfully quickly. Are people generally running more than two laps to give more time for things to work out?
Last edit: 26 Jan 2023 09:43 by Sagrilarus.
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26 Jan 2023 11:12 - 26 Jan 2023 11:15 #338032 by charlest
Nope, just two laps if that's what the track says.

The advanced cards are fantastic.

The Championship rules (full advanced play) has players draft a single upgrade card from a row of cards faceup. It's super simple, this isn't passing cards around and around drafting.

But in the Championship mode you keep your deck (and thus upgrades) over multiple races. You play three races generally on three different tracks. The final race you have a few upgrades and the asymmetry is more pronounced.

You could play a Championship and ignore weather and track conditions if you wanted, although I think those rules are great too. I even love the sponsor rules which incentivize reckless, hot shot driving for small card benefits.

Also, I've never seen someone due well when keeping a hand clogged with Heat. They should get burned on a straightaway when the other player tossed out four cards in max gear. But this is why the track layout really matters. You really need to dump that heat before the enormous curving straight on Great Britain for instance (could have the tracks mixed up).
Last edit: 26 Jan 2023 11:15 by charlest.
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26 Jan 2023 11:16 #338033 by sornars
I'm not sure what you mean by deck building, as you implied, you have to draft cards from a market when using the garage module but it happens once at the beginning of the game and involves making three choices. So it may be as dull as your taxes but it also a takes a lot less time; maybe a minute or two per player at worst. If you don't like it then playing with the basic upgrades should be fine. Netdecking seems hard to do given the variety of cards in the market and the fact that your other players are likely to be wanting the same things as you. I imagine different maps and weather conditions may also add more value to different upgrades.

I have my own concerns about the artificial tension of the game, it seems like competent play results in close finishes mathematically but without playing by the correct rules re: heat it's hard to say what to take from your play. The dance between keeping heat in your engine (where it can be spent) and not your hand is quite hard to manage and really is the core of the game, getting that wrong would drastically change my opinion of the game as it's surprisingly subtle when played correctly. The US map has three long straightaways, two of which are separated by a high speed corner so I don't see how somebody with 5 heat in hand, effectively stuck at second gear or third gear could not get outpaced without some fantastic luck/terrible luck from their opponents with them being in higher gears and using boosts.

I saw your rules question on BGG and was kind of surprised to be honest. I think the game is very straightforward and the iconography intuitive. The middle deck of your player board is called your engine. A heat card says "[1 cooldown] : [hand holding heat] -> [engine]". A colon separating a cost and a result is one of the most universal symbols in gaming I can imagine, pay one cooldown to move a heat from your hand to your engine. I understand how you having a mistaken understanding of how heat in your hand and engine interact could complicate that interpretation but knowing the correct rules, it seems clear enough. The biggest complication with the rules is the precise timing of when things happen but I that doesn't matter in like 90% of cases. As to volume of rules questions being some sort of valid metric, I took a quick scroll through the list and saw nothing there that wasn't answered by the rule book. I take your point re: this is a game for families and the rulebook should reflect that but I'm increasingly convinced that most BGG rules questions are asked by some of the most obtuse people on the planet.

re: race length, I think a single race lasts exactly as long as I'd like it to but playing with the championship module is probably how the designers intended someone to play when making a full evening out of things.
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26 Jan 2023 12:13 - 26 Jan 2023 12:33 #338035 by Sagrilarus

most BGG rules questions are asked by some of the most obtuse people on the planet.


Often shorthanded to the term "customers" in marketing circles.

I read rulebooks in two voices due to my job -- learning the game voice and assessing the writing quality voice. It's a bad habit, but I can't turn it off.

If multiple people are asking simple questions that are addressed in the rules something is wrong with layout, or voice, or clarity, or structure. End users are part of the system. The publisher appears to be aware of shortcomings and is addressing it.

All of that said, I'm looking forward to the next play. Sounds like the draft is pretty simple. I like that, because dammit let's get racing.

Thank you both for the feedback!
Last edit: 26 Jan 2023 12:33 by Sagrilarus.
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26 Jan 2023 12:47 #338040 by Sagrilarus

charlest wrote: Also, I've never seen someone due well when keeping a hand clogged with Heat.


So, my rules mistake (and this is on me, not the rules) is that I played that you used Cooling to discard Heat from your Play Area, not your Hand. The result was that I couldn't unclog the hand. Short of not moving for a turn the Heat in the Hand was going to stay put. That changes everything downstream in the play. You can't overshoot corners, so you have to go slowly, which means you hang out in second gear and hope hope hope your blind draws reveal the Heat cards (and clears them from your deck) before you draw them into your Hand. Not at all as intended.

My usual approach is read the rules, play the game, reread the rules. With practical play knowledge the reread of the rules is much easier to understand, and you know where you struggled and read those areas more carefully. That's what I did last night and "from your Hand" suddenly jumped out. I had spliced Dominion's rules where you cull from your Play Area into Heat, and it had quite an impact.

That said, the troubled car could keep up, because neither car was getting above 3rd gear and 3rd gear was rare. Suddenly 1, 2, or 3 extra spots for a trailing car is pretty significant.

"Heat" is an odd choice of word for wear on your car. But it works well for the name of the game so I can overlook it. Truth be told real cars cool down in the straits, but I mean jeeze, lighten up John.

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26 Jan 2023 13:20 #338046 by dysjunct
The Adrenaline phase is super gamey for sure; it's like Mario Kart where the player in last gets speed boosts and all the blue shells etc. I wouldn't have complained too much if it wasn't there. But, HEAT is a racing arcade game, not an F1 simulator, so I can overlook it pretty easily.

Agree with Sornars that managing heat cards is both the core of the game, and difficult to do well. I've lost games because I had to drop down to a low gear but didn't have heat to discard, which then cascaded into not having heat in my engine when I really needed it, drawing it when I really didn't want it, etc.

Looking forward to the Games From The Cellar episode on the game!
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