Recent Board Gaming


Just got back from San Antonio, which accounts for all of my gaming this week. I am glad we were together, because I really needed some affirmation that there are good, conscientious people in the world this weekend. PAX South is also the location of our now-annual Freemarket game, so there’s a single RPG in here with all of the other games.

[URL=“”]Chariot Race[/URL] - We finally played a game with rubble and all six players, and the carnage was perfect. I don’t think I’ll bother with fewer than five players now.

[URL=“”]Potion Explosion[/URL] [B](new to me)[/B] - A fun physical mechanism with an OK game.

[URL=“”]Schnäppchen Jagd[/URL] - I first played this last January, and I’m still impressed by its cleverness. Uwe Rosenberg’s card games are often eclipsed by his worker placement games, but I generally prefer the cards.

[URL=“”]Foppen[/URL] - The Steven Universe deck I got for Christmas is seeing some use this month. I’m beginning to notice a pattern, where I primarily play trick-taking games at conventions… I think I’d have difficulty finding five people to play with the Steven Universe cards anywhere else.

[URL=“”]Freemarket[/URL] - Not a board game, but an RPG that I have only ever played with Tresi. For the past two years, my character Rattle Cattle has been an excellent outlet for comedic body horror.

[URL=“”]Thebes[/URL] - I’m glad this is finally back in print, because I’ve introduced a lot of people to Thebes and I have been getting tired of saying you can’t get it. This game, I resolved to spend 12 weeks digging as much as possible, and did very well! Until I lost every majority.

[URL=“”]Tzolk’in[/URL] - The game was won by half a point, which means I probably angered the wrong god at some point in the game.

[URL=“”]1846[/URL] - Scheduled a game with Matt ahead of time, and was surprised that Scott also played. I ended with six shares of NYC and four shares of PRR, which both tokened out Toledo… and only three corps ever reached Chicago. ICR reached Chicago, but ran out of permanent trains and couldn’t get east from Chicago anyway.

[URL=“”]Five Tribes[/URL] - We’ve played this regularly, but at a rate of about 1/month. So even though I enjoy it, I’ve never quite internalized the setup rules. This game I took no white meeples and the most yellow meeples for the first time (there were too many good opportunities not to)

[URL=“”]Mamma Mia[/URL] - A game where sometimes you lose for want of a single pineapple. What’s not to like?

[URL=“”]Viticulture[/URL] - Thanks to a visitor card, I had a field with unreasonably high yields: 8 red / 1 white. I probably could have won if the target score was somewhere around 40 instead of 25 :stuck_out_tongue:

[URL=“”]Burgle Bros[/URL] [B](new to me)[/B] - I wasn’t a fan of Paperback, and co-ops don’t always make an impression on me, but this is very good. I’m glad Anthony picked up a copy at the con.

[URL=“”]The Princes of Florence[/URL] - I was enthusiastic about the 5 player game (Rym and Anthony were not). Great auctions, and trying to nail the bonus points or score prestige cards is taxing with four opponents.

[URL=“”]Trickerion[/URL] - An odd choice for Sunday night, but we crammed onto a hotel lobby table and Anthony taught. I really need to play the “full” game, since the basic game is starting to feel a bit limiting.


There was a board game night at my library, so I got to burn through a few games.

That Camel Racing Game That Nobody Can Agree On The Name Of (new to me) - I loved the push-pull of the mechanics, where you had the movement mechanics punishing going first, but the betting mechanics rewarding it, which made for some tense decisions. The mechanics of it, too (with the pyramid) are very good.

7 Wonders - Once again my “get cards that build in to free cards” strategy falls apart because Will’s an asshole.

Above and Below (new to me) - A really neat worker management game. You’re never blocked from doing something because someone else did it (which make for a different decision-making dynamic and blunts the first-last problem a lot of games have. The adventuring mechanic means you can always pull back from a bad position, and rewards you with access to cheaper buildings and free resources, and the push-pull between wanting to hold on to your resources to slot them most efficiently vs. wanting to gain the benefits of putting the lower-rarity items in the higher-VP slots is also fun. I’d have to give it a few more plays, but it’s definitely one I wanna add to my collection.


I finally got to play Clank! and dug it.

It’s an hour-long deckbuilder roguelike. Your three currencies are money, swords, and boots. Boots let you move through a dungeon. Money and swords let you play Ascension with the card row. There’s a push-your-luck element where a dragon attacks everyone and can eliminate you before your score is locked in (better escape that dungeon with the loot you’ve got).

It’s not a game I would ever consider playing rather than a tight Euro. But it was definitely something I could get to the table easily with a certain set of friends. It’s definitely better than most games I would apply in that situation.


Perfect, now I have a teaching video for the first tutorial game.


Five unique games this week, but I played Jump Drive six times and Indonesia twice, and I would have played them more given the opportunity.

[URL=“”]Jump Drive[/URL] [B](new to me)[/B] - Very sarcastically “Race for the Galaxy: the Card Game,” and already the game I have played the most in 2017 (6 plays). Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same power as Roll for the Galaxy; ie. friends with a distaste for Race don’t like Jump Drive much, either. I will probably end up playing this a lot in the coming weeks.

[URL=“”]Power Grid: The Card Game[/URL] - Six players is a bit much, but given the tastes of the Friday group I’d rather play this than, say, 7 Wonders.

[URL=“”]Amun-Re[/URL] - It was interesting playing Amun-Re again so close to Princes of Florence. The power cards in Amun-Re make it more tactical than strategic. I first played this back in December of 2015, and didn’t get hold of a copy until last month when Anthony hunted down a Rio Grande copy as a Christmas gift, since I really dislike the new version’s board art.

[URL=“”]Indonesia[/URL] - Played on Friday and Saturday, back to back. Sort of a Splotter take on an 18XX game, except you are frequently relying on different players to create connections for you, and surprising and dramatic things happen every round. If it isn’t obvious, I enjoy this a lot, but I wouldn’t expect this to be an automatic hit for everyone who likes Food Chain Magnate.

[URL=“”]Mansions of Madness: Second Edition[/URL] - After selecting a character with a very high influence skill (for a murder mystery scenario), I was never once asked to test my character’s influence. In fact, I contributed very little other than the sideshow act of my descent into madness.


For what it’s worth, having to choose between Food Chain Magnate and Indonesia I’d lean towards Indonesia.

Update: I think it’s because of how Food Chain Magnate tends to steer you into several standardized opening plays to hunt for the Achievements and to set up your action economy. Indonesia has some of that but you’re more focused on setting up the supply chains.


We finished Risk Legacy game 9 of 15. The game was enjoyable until a particular unlockable happened.


The Mutants, which were at a decent advantage because the biohazard and fallout zones are close together, are seemingly overpowered since they unlocked their double-offensive power—their 6’s beat defending 6’s. We’re worried future games will degenerate to “roll high to pick Mutants”.


Highlights of games played this week:

[URL=“”]Trickerion: Legends of Illusion[/URL] - I wanted to play something weighty with Anthony during the week, so we ran through the “full" game a couple of times. This has grown on me significantly since my initial impression.

[URL=“”]Glass Road[/URL] - My favorite modern Rosenberg game. For some reason, I have played this game just eight times over four years, and six of those plays were in the month of February.

[URL=“”]Stephenson’s Rocket[/URL] [B](new to me)[/B] - It’s a Knizia train game. It also feels like an uncomfortable coupling of Acquire and Through the Desert. We got a few rules wrong (station placement) but this is just “ok" for me.

[URL=“”]10’ to Kill[/URL] [B](new to me)[/B] - Rumble in the House, but better (ie. you could convince me to play it again)

[URL=“”]Age of Craft[/URL] - A recent play confirms this is different enough from Colony to justify keeping both.

[URL=“”]T.I.M.E Stories[/URL] - Taking a break after finishing the Marcy Case. We performed our final run with the efficiency of Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day.

[URL=“”]Brew Crafters[/URL] - I’ve only played this twice, but I do wonder if getting the research expert, a yeast lab, and maxing out 2 or more research tracks is a little too straightforward and powerful.

[URL=“”]LIE[/URL] [B](new to me)[/B] - It’s Liar’s Dice with cards, if you’re into that sort of thing.

[URL=“”]Mage Knight[/URL] - I haven’t played since the middle of last year, so I set up a solo game on Monday with cities one click below max (7/10). Lost on the last turn by about three damage. Things certainly could have gone better - it would have been nice if there was any mana in the pool on the final turn (or if any mage towers had been accessible - I was casting out of the offer using Magic Talent for the entire game)


I’m gonna be that guy and ask if anyone can remember the name of this game. I saw it at a store I don’t usually go to but it had what sort of looked like a dwarf on the front and he was like spelunking and there was some gems on the front? I thought it was called Jewels or something but everything that comes up with Googling wasn’t what I saw. I know it’s on BGG because I looked up stuff about it but I can’t find it now.

Anyone know what this game is called?


I can only think of one game I’ve seen recently that matches that description: Quartz?


Bling Bling Gemstone comes to mind.


Yeah it’s totally Quartz. I misremembered the cover more than I thought. I kept thinking about that game the other day. I want to play it but I don’t really think it’s worth buying. It seemed like it was a pretty shallow experience.


We played Quartz at PAX South. Press-your-luck pulling gems from a bag is great, but the card experience and the rules for picking face-up cards were goofy and unsatisfying.


Card experience?


Getting cards, using cards, some cards being way more useful than others.


For reasons I could probably write an essay on, I honestly think that within the next few years you are going to see Mayfair Games in serious, serious trouble. The co-ownership of Lookout Games may not be enough to buoy their US operations without the backing of Catan.


Yeah, when they lost Catan, I was like “what else do they have?” Unless they start acquiring and publishing some hits, they are going nowhere fast. They could at least start by getting X Nimnt to follow up 6 Nimnt.


Gotta have a combination of big brands, constant hustle, social media, regular releases, and luck.


Out of curiosity, I looked through their publication history to find the last Mayfair-published game that interested me (minus Lookout or Settlers). It’s Pillars of the Earth in 2007, which was originally published by KOSMOS. Lords of Vegas (2010) is also reasonably enjoyable.


I would almost call myself a student of Mayfair games. I researched them quite a bit when I was considering doing a deep dive story on them going back to the “Jay Tummelson found Settlers and made us a mountain of cash, we blew it all on two failed CCGs, literally bankrupted the company, and he gave us the finger and went and started his own company.” Hence Rio Grande Games.

When they got revived as a company, they had Catan expansions to start rolling out, and also had Kosmos in those early 2000s, which was good. But then as Kosmos got poached by the prodigal son, Rio Grande, Mayfair further invested in a string of bad deals. They started pumping out every import from Davinci Games and Phalanx games. Wow some of those might have seemed good at the time, and they must have sold well to a new hungry audience, but they are all total shit in today’s light. There’s no evergreen back catalog to lean on at all from those years. Almost two decades and those deals gave you nothing long term. What a fucking waste.

They do seem to have caught wind in their sales from 2009-2011. They had their Martin Wallace deal in place and had their name on Steam. He also gave them Discworld: Ankh Morpork which I really like, as well as some decent strategy games: London, Automobile, and Aeroplanes. They also had Lords of Vegas, and a reprint of one early-2000s success, Downfall of Pompei, which I’d never played but heard was worth a look.

In 2010 they doubled down hard on a bunch of insane marketing shit. Like pure insanity. I can’t even get into it. And they pushed really hard into making their own family-weight games, every since one of which was horribly produced and just generally shit. Since that point, the only game that isn’t a Lookout title that I’ve heard even a peep about is Global Mogul, as a game that looks like shit but could be a hidden gem? The 2011-2017 Mayfair can be summed up with this 2014 release:

I’ve had some recent conversations with them that truly threw me for a loop and left me thinking that whoever is left with the company (half of the employees moved over to Asmodee with the Catan deal), got left holding the bag for a hollow shell. They haven’t scaled back their footprint at all it seems. They still had a gigantic 20x20 endcap at Toy Fair with a full staff of employees. And the booth was dead every time I passed it by. No Catan? No traffic from retail. I sincerely hope they turn it around because obviously I love Lookout stuff, and surely Mayfair US could put out a hit or two, but I’m deeply concerned they’ll drag Lookout down at this point as they are in co-ownership, not just a publication deal.