Recent Board Gaming


Cock(roach) Poker worked a lot better at PAX than it did in New York. Royale version is also good, and different, but both are pretty much equally fun. I think maybe if people develop better heuristics for the plain version then Royale might become necessary. When I think about it, it’s really just a faster, cheaper, and more portable way to play the good part of Sheriff of Nottingham.


Cockroach poker is indeed surprisingly good. As Anthony and I debriefed on all the stuff we did at PAX, I preferred it over Skull. I like how the first recipient of the pass has to decide whether they want it coming or going (in the games I watched and played, they usually chose ‘going’, much to the delight of the starting player).

The risk is always shared between two players at the table, and the starting player can easily dump the risk elsewhere.


The best play is when the first player lies. This lets the second player easily continue the lie. If two or more people all say spider do you have the balls to say it’s not?


I can easily imagine that - I continually underestimated HAVE IDEAS, which is similar to a winning strategy in Yspahan around drawing a full hand of cards before actually effecting the board. I suspect the tension isn’t between HAVE IDEAS and other actions, so much as HAVING IDEAS earlier or later in the round, depending on how badly you need to MOVE PEOPLE or HAVE A FIGHT.


The weekend after a gaming convention has no hope to compare to that convention, but we’ll try:

1889: History of Shikoku Railways - I went bankrupt. I really botched the fourth SR - my goal was to dump yellow and start two new companies. Problem one: this wasn’t a stellar goal, I could have kept a few shares in yellow and started ONE new company. Problem two: the first company I started got stolen and I had to start a third company (this was also my fault). Two sets later I bought two expensive permanent trains and then went bankrupt buying a diesel.

1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight - we called it early (we missed the best part - the end of 1860 was nuts the first two times I played). Dan ran into some truly tragic tile-shortages and ended up running a company that couldn’t do anything. It was getting late anyway.

I don’t just play train games, but I’m in a mood.


How was the Rise of Fenris campaign?


By the end I had an appreciation for Scythe that I didn’t really have before. Playing 8 games of Scythe didn’t exhaust me the way playing 12 games of Charterstone did.


Been playing Palm Island on my lunch break. It scratches that itch suprisingly well for a 10min game. My best score was 32.

Founders of Gloomhaven has a lot of potential. I’ve only played a few times, but really enjoyed it. The rules are complete and nonambiguous, but the book is not well organized. I’m working on player aids to help my friends catch on. This one is crunchy.


Palm Island is fascinating. Definitely want to try it.

Sad they missed the opportunity to name it Pen Island.


Yellow & Yangtze, Downforce, and War Chest have all hit me really hard in the past couple weeks. It’s been a while since I’ve had this many games that I can’t wait to play again.


I’m looking to play Root enough to figure out where it breaks down this winter.


I’m more than happy to do this. If you want to wear out John Company or 1889… you know who you can call. I suspect my limit for JoCo and 1889 is somewhere in the dozens. My ceiling for Root is in the hundreds.

Edit: after a recent trip through the backlog of the Revolutions podcast, and frequent (loose) comparisons between Root and COIN I read through Colonial Twilight and played a few turns with Anthony last night. My need for long 2p games is limited right now but it pulled me in, and I know 1000% more about the Algerian War than I did before.

I looked at which subject they were doing next in the series, and it’s a 4p game about the decolonization of British India, so of course I’m going to preorder that.


Speaking of 2p games, have you played Antike Duellum? It’s a two player version of Antike, designed my Mac Gerdts, who made some of my favorite games including Imperial/Imperial 2030, Navegador, and Concordia.


I haven’t played Antike or Duellum… although Gerdts never really caught on for me. Navegador and Concordia came close.

Some midweek gaming:


I’ve played it exactly twice. But I didn’t examine it enough to have a strong opinion.


I got to participate in Jamey Stegmaier’s Design day in St. Louis yesterday and it was a blast. I played some great prototypes, some that needed major revisions, a crazy dexterity game that was also a tv show with a thirty page script, and got in a few playtests of the game I’ve been working on. After a bad play of a prototype one of the players brought out an early copy of Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig and we had a great time learning it even though my friend was lost the whole time on actually scoring points.


I know the designers of Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig pretty well and helped playtest the game when it was in the design phase. I liked it a lot.

@pence should check out this article:


I’ve been a Wehrle fan for a few months, since I played John Company and Root back to back earlier this year. I agree with most of this writeup, except John Company suddenly blossomed into an incredible experience in the fourth game. Nothing is better at completely transforming a group of friends into bickering, nepotistic 18th century society types than John Company. An Infamous Traffic puts you in a similar position, and you understand why an Opium War is beneficial for your family, but you never make the full transformation.


The third case in Detective shook things up (in a good way), Legendary Encounters X-Files is every bit as good as Alien, and this weekend we played a 3p game of John Company that really ripped (for all the reasons above).

On Friday, Sean and I played Colonial Twilight, one of the only games about the Algerian War. The war ended after 60 minutes because I completely kneecapped Sean’s insurgency (experience, mostly - and the Propaganda cards were seeded in just the right spots in the deck).

And finally, another wonderful game of Chicago Express that I lost in the usual fashion, scratching my head and wondering what just happened.


Yesterday I played a game of Cthulhu Wars which is a territory control game with miniatures. This immediately reminded me of Blood Rage though I assume there is a whole class of games based on this concept. The minatures were very nice and Cthulhu-y, the gameplay unfortunately less so. My biggest issue with the game I guess is the fact that it runs on a points-limit rather than a preset number of rounds. As such were were accelerating to the end-game before I even knew it and just as I had taken over control of the board. The game adds some variance with its “Elder Signs”, hidden tokens which are worth additional points and only their owner knows how much points they get from them, but even though I collected more Elder Signs I got unlucky with their draw and ended up second place by a single point.

It is also rather weird that a game with the word “war” in the title only managed in our three-player game to produce a single major battle for the entire game, while Blood Rage there could be three or four major battles in a round.