Recent Board Gaming


I’m not aware of any major changes from the print-and-play. Our 3p games felt very similar to three player base game Mottainai, with additional situational powers. The rules around drawing and playing Om cards were not hard to implement from the perspective of a group that regularly plays Innovation + Echoes + Figures, but I would not introduce new players with the expansion.


@no_fun_girl commented that it felt very Innovation-esque, actually. I haven’t played Innovation with expansions much, so it was a new level of Chudyk for me.


I haven’t brought my Wutai Mountain expansion out to the table yet. It’s hard enough to get people into Mottanai in the first place.


Get better people in your life. Mottainai is love, Mottainai is life.


I’m training them slowly. Oh, so slowly.


Like It: Kingdom Builder, 2x Pax Porfiriana, Alien Artifacts, Q.E., Catacombs (new)
Neutral: Unlock! A Noside Story (new)

Starting to find something better in Alien Artifacts after playing a faction other than The League. In fact, I watched a new player take The League and take the same “operational ship” approach and fall short in exactly the same way. I suspect that some factions suggest poor initial heuristics to new players.

Noside Story is a fine Unlock - not as immediately charming as Squeek and Sausage or as entertaining as Tonipal’s Treasure, just perfectly adequate.

Catacombs is a fun system, although we all agreed that the default suggestion (four encounters and a boss) is absurd, and dropped two of the encounters.

Started playing Pax Porfiriana again. I’m glad I gave it a second chance, it’s a hell of a game - I didn’t quite get the tension when I played back in 2016. These first two plays after revisiting have been revelatory; the game forces you to stretch and do whatever is possible to block an opponent’s victory, and it’s frequently a razor thin margin.


Finally got around to play Dead of Winter, a game I bought a while ago. For those not in the know, in Dead of Winter players each control a group of survivors trying to weather through the zombie apocalypse while in a northern town in the middle of winter. The game has an overall objective which all the players must work toward, as well as a secret objective for each player has to complete on their own. Some of these secret objective may also be Betrayal objectives where one player has to actually undermine the effort, of course without being found out and exiled from the colony. This secret objective mechanic also means that sometimes no players win even though the primary objective was completed. The game ends when you complete the main objective, the round counter reaches 0, or the morale level reaches 0, with bad things causing morale to drop.

There is also a set of “Crossroads” cards with a new card during each player’s turn that might cause an event to fire if a certain condition is met during that turn, which can be good, bad or propose a risk/reward scenario.

We had a three player game running with a main objective of collecting a bunch of food and a weapon for each player. In addition to that during a crossroads event we voted that instead of taking an immediately bad effect, we would worsen the main objective by also requiring an additional five food tokens in the supply. We pretty soon established that there was in fact no traitor among us and worked toward the common goal, which I contributed a lot toward by playing multiple food three tokens to keep the colony fed.

It all boiled down to the point where I had the final turn of the game and I needed to find two food cards and add them to the main objective to win. My secret objective was to have no wounded survivors in my group, and I kept them in top shape for most of my game. So the crossroads card gets drawn for my turn and immediately fires which is themed around a sickness in the camp. We vote on whether we kick patient zero out and lose a morale (which would put us one before death), or have each survivor take a wound. I was outvoted and the second option happened basically killing my game.

I still tried to make things due, but I was an action short due to bad luck in searches. I could have healed up my survivors with help of the other players, but that would have caused us to lose a morale and with that the game due to the waste pile in the camp overflowing. I had the option to extend the game by simply not adding the food cards I had found to the main condition, but that would have both been a dick move, and we almost certainly would have lost the game in the additional round as losing any survivor to a zombie attack or other effect would have put morale at 0.

It was still fun, just very unfortunate. The other two players were indeed also not traitors, and completed their secret objectives.


Dead of Winter is a game I’ll play, but only with co-op rules (no traitor, just play a harder scenario). There are some weird left-right binding problems with the traitor that don’t work well with the coarse-grained nature of the challenges in the game relative to Battlestar Galactica. Since every player gets an individual turn before checking the challenge, the traitor can theoretically do an irreparable amount of damage when they are going last after achieving their goal (ie. throw subtlety out the window - tank the challenge, fill the trash, noisy searches, eat all the food… should be able to kill 3 morale at least). “Vote to exile” is an action, so everyone else is helpless. It’s really a wet blanket on an otherwise enjoyable experience anticipating such an anticlimactic ending… or even worse, the same result after the betrayer fails to achieve their own personal goals but takes everyone else down with them to save face.

Plus… I don’t really enjoy being a “hidden traitor” in games.

But, as you discovered, it works fine as a co-op experience game.


That one freak-zombies scenario was a good time.


We played the second game of Pandemic Legacy this evening. It did not go so well.


Enthusiastic: Mottainai, Heaven & Ale, Viticulture, The 7th Continent
Suggest: Roll Player, Isle of Skye, QE
Play: Dragon Castle (new), Catacombs

We made some time for 2p games during the week; Roll Player on Wednesday, Mottainai on Friday. Roll Player is only one step removed from Sagrada, but it’s a large step in a positive direction. I didn’t care for the monsters in the expansion, too much of a release valve for all of the interesting tension between numbers/colors in the base game. I’ll see how I feel once we play a few more times.

On Saturday we played Viticulture with the new Rhine Valley visitors. Viticulture is constantly improving; the Tuscany board has just enough extra levers to pull with the trade action and the property flip, and the Rhine visitors are (imo) a superior replacement for the original set.

Don’t have many thoughts formed on Dragon Castle… so far, it’s fine. Love the tactile feel of the tiles. Wonder if some of the ‘random setup’ cards will be significantly more interesting than the others. We drew a scoring card that encouraged a symmetric board at the end of the game, which took some careful planning on our first play.

We might (?) be on the last stretch of the first curse in The 7th Continent. We’re about 5 hours into our second attempt and our 3-person expedition is a pretty solid team now. The way the game forces you to learn some of its rules “on the job” is really clever, I’m quite enjoying that.


Been playing Azul with different groups. Everyone likes it. Very few people are good at it first-game, but those who are are shockingly good at it.


Listening to this old review of 7 Wonders from 2011…

It both made me want to play 7 Wonders again, and reminded me why I never bring it to the table anymore.


I played two games today.

Bought a copy of Sheriff of Nottingham last week and played it tonight in a three player round. The game is very fun with hidden information and feeling out the players, and there’s a bunch of playacting and goofing around going on as well while threatening, daring people and soliciting bribes.

I also played a round of Terraforming Mars today. I heard this was a good game, and it was nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2017, and it has an extremely good ranking on BoardGameGeek. By all rights I should also just love this game simply for the theme of space exploration. I however found this game rather bad.

First up the game is extremely cheaply produced. It has no inlay for the box so if the guy who bought it hadn’t added another box to hold the cards they’d be just flying around inside alongside other game materials, for which thankfully there were at least some bags provided.The player mats are also just cheap paper and the graphic design throughout the whole game is really bad. The game uses three different “types” of cards, who look the same except for them having different colors on the borders. They could have been distinguished more. Worse yet the game insists on using pictograms for showing what the cards do, though a textual explanation is still necessary anyway. The confusion in that part sets in because the game uses about 20 different symbols, and the worst part of this is that it uses the same symbol when referencing the production of a resource and the resource itself, only the production symbol is in a box instead of a circle and with a brown border added. The game also uses other circular symbols to reference the “subtype” of the card, which only adds to the confusion. Examples

The pictograms on cards also lead to us having to constantly look up rules because on multiple occasions we couldn’t tell what the cards do when they are played and what you do at other times. The rulebook is also unfortunately not really well written. The game could be so much easier to understand by just writing down the rules on the card instead of using pictograms and “reminder text”. Just write something like “Pay §§ to play this card. Increase your §§-production level 2 steps.” (The § being a symbol from the game)

Gameplay started out pretty decently, but in addition to keeping track of the rules as above, I grew a bit frustrated because we had to keep track of six different types of resources and their production levels in addition to the victory points, and the “one action or two actions per turn” rule lead to us constantly having to ask other players whether they had done everything they wanted to do. Maybe that is bad communication on our part.

And while the other two players were able to got cards which let them increase their terraforming rating, most cards I got only allowed me to increase my funding rating. This has more or less the same effect during the game by increasing the number of credits you have available during your turn, but terraforming rating directly translates to victory points at the end of the game while funding does not.

There are also a bunch of cards which do rather bad things to other players. I used one such card early in the game when one player was threatening to run away with the game. That player, now in second place, then retaliated like six rounds later even though I was in last place, kicking me squarely in the balls, which more or less secured the first place player victory by a large margin. During the last turn I also sat around with no cards in hand and nothing to do, but I had exactly 10 credits left which is one short from doing any of the standard actions, and exactly 7 plants which is one short from doing the game-end action. During that turn I also made an error in sequencing my moves, but that only allowed second place to take some additional victory points, none of which would have even changed the outcome of the game.

My final opinion of this game is really cheaply produced, confusing, and frustrating. I might try it again simply to see whether it was just a bad round or anything, but there are some really bad structural flaws in the game which could have been trivial to fix.


fwiw, I don’t care for Terraforming Mars, either, but not for the same reasons. It’s an uneasy hybrid of Race for the Galaxy with the “produce once everyone passes” turn structure from Eclipse, Terra Mystica, etc.

It has a very broad audience and it is very popular, but I don’t know why. I played it three times in 2016, and every time the game had a tendency to bog down into a dull slog on the homestretch. It asks players to collectively take actions that will end the game, but the ability to take terraforming actions is dictated by card draws or inefficient board actions which are rarely used. No one will trigger the end of the game if they’re clearly losing because there are many perfectly reasonable actions that improve your position but don’t bring the game closer to ending.


Pretty excited to get Wits and Wagers Vegas to the table tonight after getting it in a trade last week. I’ve enjoyed America and Terra but Wits and Wagers has been better for my group as far as balance is concerned.


Played two games on thursday:

EPIC is another card game from the makers of Star Realms, White Wizard games. This one has an assortment of cards which you can either cast for free or one that per turn that isn’t free. The game very quickly escalates to really big board situations because everything end every effect is very big, and most spell cards have two options to choose from, which I rather like as the alternate mode is usually “draw more cards”. However, this also means there is a lot of math and because of the blocking rule the game has actually forcing damage through is difficult. It also doesn’t help that they have like 10 keywords which you have to look up in the rulebook. Most of them are very similar to MtG though, just under a different name. After all the game was designed by two former Magic pro players.

We also played a round of Harbour, a neat little economy simulation based around acquiring goods, manipulating their value, then selling them off for buildings which give you victory points. I unfortunately made a number of bad decisions and came in last. We were only three players and while the game is still pretty decent we came to the conclusion that four is definitely the optimal number of players just because there will be more uncertainty about what happens. In between your turns. I personally really like the presentation of it, as it is self-contained within a very tiny box and you have just a meeple for each player, a marker for each good for each player and the market card, and the rest is cardboard boards for the players and cards for the buildings, and all of it fits neat into a box. The “slice-of-life with fantasy” illustrations on the cards are also a lot of fun to me.


Enthusiastic: 3x Let’s Make a Bus Route (new), The 7th Continent, 2x Arkham Horror: The Card Game, Tigris & Euphrates, Pax Porfiriana
Suggest: Unlock! Tombstone Express, 2x MetroX (new), Jump Drive, Stock hold’em (new)
Play: Dragon Castle, From Batavia (new), Elder Sign

My order of Tokyo Game Market spring 2018 games came in last week, with two new games from Hisashi Hayashi. MetroX is a considerably different take on roll-and-write than Rolling America/Japan/World. Stock hold’em is another oddball idea, with players collectively building poker hands (with imperfect information) that determine if the stocks have any value whatsoever. And the values of the stocks completely reset at two points during the game. It might be brilliant, I’m not sure yet.

My favorite in the TGM set is Let’s Make a Bus Route, where players actually use whiteboard markers on a shared board. More like Avenue and less like Crayon Rails. And some tricky random inputs to manage, too.

We successfully wrapped the first curse in The 7th Continent, and moved back to deckbuilding and playing Arkham Horror: The Card Game. The designs in the first big box campaign are already quite clever in comparison to the core set, both the character abilities and scenario design. Very good.

Unlock! Tombstone Express - very good. On par with Tonipal’s Treasure, which was my favorite Unlock. It does some stuff with the app that sets it further apart from the kinds of things Exit can do.

Pax Porfiriana continues to grow on me after I gave up on it back in 2016. I have Pax Pamir and Pax Renaissance on the shelf but I just keep wanting to play Pax Porfiraina some more.


We played Twilight Imperium 4e as part of a regular game night (plus Arkham Horror TCG, Würfel Bohnanza, and Carcassonne). I know we play fast but this feels like 45 minutes/player with good moderator(s) that pay attention to game state and some allowance for heated negotiation. John Company came to mind while we worked out agendas and attached riders to a bill about staging a public execution.

Our first game (3p) we spent 45 minutes bumbling through the rulebook followed by 3 hours to play 6 rounds to completion and look things up during play. It’s Through the Ages-long, not Avalon Hill Civilization-long.


It definitely helps to play with people who are familiar with the rules.

Hopefully you had fun and your next game goes more smoothly.