Recent Board Gaming


This is turning into a weekly High Frontier update, now.

Rise of Queensdale - “legacy”/campaign resource conversion euro that’s just a touch more enjoyable and more surprising than last year’s Charterstone; and it has a wonderful sense of humor. There are “special” stickers you can add to your dice (before you know what they do) that never have the effect you would expect…

High Frontier - Still so amazing even though it’s difficult to recommend. The game we played this weekend had half a dozen expansion modules - supports, colonists, bernals, gigawatt thrusters… but we’ve collectively gotten so good at producing factories that the game was over in 90 minutes with barely any opportunity to use our new toys. So next time we’re going to play the variant that forces you outward toward Neptune after your belt factories are up and running.

Also Pandemic: Fall of Rome, 1846, and The Grizzled: Armistice. Not a bad weekend by any stretch. :slight_smile:


Yesterday I had another round of Pandemic Legacy. We managed to complete August but I won’t go into spoilers.

We are in the second to last turn. We will 100% win the next turn no matter what. However, we still need to draw player cards and do the infection, and in the last four player cards remaining in the deck is still an epidemic card. Of course we manage to draw it. Infection rate hits 4 and among the four cards we draw there not only do we hit the only C0d4 city that wasn’t quarantined which leads to an outbreak turning a city into a C0d4 city, we also manage to hit the Panic Level 3 city we just drew from the bottom of the deck, causing an outbreak there making it Panic Level 4.

What a gut punch to end a game that we still won.


Since Jeremy is home for 2 months, we finally get to go to local board game night.

I’ve been playing some fun new games, especially small fast games to bring to cons and play with friends.

Notable games:

Finally got around to playing the game I got from Unplugged. I saw it at West First Look, but never got around to playing it, but it so looked right up my alley and after confirming with Demo that it’s a good game, I bought it without playing it.

Well worth it. Our first game was a game of 4 and we were all within 3-6 points between each other. I made a few mistakes in the beginning which slowed my engine building down, but saw other ways to get my set up going. Love the bits, especially the rubber berries. I wish the wood wasn’t as rolly, because it’s hard to keep in place at times, but still decent.

I also don’t know about the cardboard because I feel it may get easily frayed, so I may need to figure out some sort of protective coating or putting glue on the edges so it won’t lose stiffness every time you have to build and take down the tree.

I love the art and the rule book. The enjoy how the rule book just goes all in on the theme and provides some lore of life in the town. It reminds me of Mouse Guard and Rats of NIMH. There is a lot of potential on different engine builds, but it’s really essential to have at least one card draw ability in play. That’s what slowed me down. I didn’t have any of that until autumn.

Looking forward to playing with the extras from the collectors editions.

Between the Castles of Mad King Ludwig

I like me some Between Two Cities, and I did enjoy that one play of Castles of Made King Ludwig. So some awesome person decided to join them. Very enjoyable. We’re going to more than likely buy that game later on.

The Legend of the Cherry Tree that Blossoms Every Ten Years

That is a long fucking name. I actually own it but never played it, but had friends bring their copy and taught me. Fun fast push your luck game with pretty pieces. Interesting way to get points and has many different variations of game play. Definitely a convention game for when you need to play a short easy to learn/play game.


It’s Timeline but with colors. I like it. I bought it. Some of those cards are crazy hard to tell where to put it in the order. Good overall for everyone game.


With 1830, I am noting how long it takes to “understand” a new 18xx game by counting the number of games before I am no longer learning something incredibly important or novel. That number is greater than two.

We learned and played the incredibly charming Key Flow twice last week. I love the name, but the confusion it’s caused already… people see the box and think it’s Keyflower. Or don’t understand how it’s related to Keyflower. I don’t know how Roll for the Galaxy avoided this!

A game of Franchise (not Fast Food Franchise, not Food Chain Magnate) - this game probably wants 5p bumping elbows around the center of the map. The country is wide-open, even with four.

Rise of Queensdale is smooth as butter; just really nice to play. The stakes are low, the writing is fun, and it still hasn’t subverted any expectations in a sudden unpredictable way like Seafall or Charterstone. The balance between “winning this game” and “winning the whole thing” works so well here.

The somewhat surprising Western Legends - my perception is a bit tilted because we’ve been throwing so many rockets around the solar system in High Frontier, this is a rather shallow sandbox. The systems don’t make the board itself a satisfying place to inhabit… a half-empty general store, a poker game where you can win some money to buy things in that general store, some cattle you can drag around the map to make yourself badder or gooder. The more interesting obstacles are the other players, lawmen and outlaws, who might do unpredictable things to one another.

BTW, we played High Frontier with most of the expansions, and finally got to fly around in the outer solar system. Ever-outward toward science fiction futures.

Finally… some very bleary-eyed games of This Guilty Land with @DemoWeasel on the night before Christmas… with some rather malicious card draws for Justice (no one here has played it but trust me, you don’t want to see Harpers Ferry on turn 1 two games in a row, John Brown tried his best). Don’t push yourself when you’re already falling asleep. :stuck_out_tongue:


Some of the MAG games:

Tom Lehmann’s new Race for the Galaxy board game New Frontiers does something clever with the “prospector” role from Puerto Rico by anchoring it to player-selected / hidden endgame scoring that applies to everyone. So far so good, perhaps even better once players begin perceiving the effect on other players’ positions from their own decisions, but that’ll take some time.

I’m continually blessed that the charming table presence of Root can get so many people to play this wonderful mean bastard game. Three player game is my favorite, the board has enough entropy to actually make a dominance victory as the Marquise or the Cult possible.

I had forgotten how difficult it was to teach Pax Renaissance to people who aren’t familiar with Eklund’s design quirks. Fortunately everyone was familiar with 14th century European history, creating exactly the onramp we needed. On the last day of the convention, @DemoWeasel and I discovered PaxRen is a kick ass fast two player game, too.

On Saturday, I found 18xx friend Sean and we knocked out a game of 1889 and also The Soo Line. Tom Russell’s games tend to stick in my brain instead of hitting me emotionally, and Soo is no different… the question is almost always “how the hell do I actually make a good decision?” Same as For-Ex, This Guilty Land, etc. The 1889 was a 5p game and it was a dirty playground fight, four companies started and five companies changed hands in SR4, before the bankruptcy hit. I was in a great position for a long game that never happened.

Smaller card games, too. Illusion is a fun activity that knows when to end; the new printing of Fool/Foppen actually scales (we played a few hands of five and six just fine) but I’ll miss the custom Steven Universe cards Dan made. Eggs of Ostrich did an exemplary job of filling 10 minute gaps during the day, I always try to throw it in my bag for conventions.


I only got to play a few games at MAG this year, but they were quality. I really liked Fate of the Elder Gods, which Anthony taught us Thursday(?) night. The placement mechanic is interesting, but makes it hard to plan your turn, especially if there’s only really one move that benefits you. The Curse mechanic was cool but occationally frustrating and jumped out of nowhere.

Ro and Jeremy taught us Ex Libris, and that’s one I really wanna pick up soon. I’m really coming around to shared but asymetic games, where there’s a large shared space but each character has asymetric powers; it adds a cool dimension to most games. I also liked this games method of choosing the worker placement sites, as it prevents the game from becoming stale.


MAGFest games:

Terraforming Mars: The new prelude cards allow for the more expensive projects to be constructed quicker. Through a combination of several card I was able to generate a +59 income.

Kehmet: Having played the game once, I was able to teach it to other players. It’s a good game, but I had trouble getting a foothold in the game.


+1 Pax Ren - Love that game - very hard to get it out though. I’ve taught it a few times and I feel in my bones there’s a better way to rewrite the rules so they’re more digestible…

I’m interested in The Soo Line - would you recommend giving it a shot? What’s it like?

Also, High Frontier is a game I need to try. Is there a best version to get OR is any version better than no version? I just got in SpaceCorp, and I’ve really enjoyed Leaving Earth…


Kehmet is probably my favorite “Duds On a Map” game other than TI:4. Kehmet also doesn’t take 6-10 hours to play, so it has that going for it as well.


The map is very well designed.


Soo Line: Definitely try it if you’re interested, I’m not convinced it’s “broken” or whatever (at least no more than any Winsome or other cube rails game). Fragile, yes, but there are probably a good number of plays in there.

High Frontier: The third edition is the current “definitive” version of the game, and all the pieces actually work together. 2e is a bit of a mess since you have to cobble together the rules from lots of expansions. I had to pay $150 for 3e secondhand, but it’s a LOT of stuff and that’s a pretty fair price.

If you can wait however long it takes the community to put together 4th edition, that should be less expensive through kickstarter. It sounds like a pretty big overhaul of the rules, so far.


In one long weekend:

SpaceCorp is the big “new” game, and I wasn’t really sure at first… kind of long and windy for a euro, the first era feels a bit inconsequential for a game ending in multiple interstellar colonies (and the first era’s points amount to 1/6 of your final score, besides)… but I tried the solo rules on Sunday. Then reset and gave it another try. And I can see the whole thing better now. It’s a fun journey, but you definitely need to play one to throw away, first. It fits the bill as a space exploitation game to play with a broader group of people that don’t want to sit through an explanation of delta-v and the rocket equation (still love High Frontier)

Rise of Queensdale is fantastic, really. In Charterstone, I sometimes felt a bit crushed by the weight of my previous decisions as the game offered up a steady march of unforseeable scripted events. Queensdale hasn’t yet fallen in upon itself with permanently-difficult player positions or unpleasant surprises, and the events are all amusing twists, written with appropriate good humor.

Pax Renaissance is violent and precarious. Even moreso at 2p, which is a wonderful surprise. 2p PaxRen is a judo competition, someone is going to wind up on their ass, and you can probably trace the result back to a given decision they made. I love it.

I still haven’t made up my mind about New Frontiers, but I had a moment toward the end of the most recent game where I said out loud, “oh, that was a terrible decision I just made” which is what I’m looking for, because I was starting to feel like my instincts were mostly-right.

BGG hotness and I agree about Root. The balance changes coming in the third printing feel right - a little extra boost for field hospitals, a little extra pruning on woodland alliance sympathy markers, and a big leg up for the lizard cult. Anyone who has the expansion and hasn’t played with the riverfolk company or the cult yet really owes it to themselves.

Northern Pacific is still a weird, wonderful, fragile game. I got to see some wonderful 1830-style capital destruction after Sean cost himself a small cube just to kill everyone else’s big cube. Obvious, in retrospect. Invest that big cube wisely.


Can confirm riverfolk are good. I love selling cards. It was very hard to price things appropriately. Better shopkeeping game that Reccetear, or pretty much anything else for that matter.


In the realm of trick-taking games for three players, the Mittlere Jass family (including variants Plus-Minus Jass and Cosmic Eidex) is intriguing, although scarred by an annoying learning curve. In particular, you have to get used to the whole Jass point-trick system, which is pretty weird if you’ve never run into it before, especially if you haven’t played any Ace-Ten games. That said, once (or if) you get used to that I think there’s some good depth to it. I feel like there ought to be less complicated (and better) games with most of the same interesting mechanics, but I don’t know of any. Overall, Plus-Minus Jass is probably the one to try if you want to give it a go, because sticks-only is a lot simpler than sticks-and-potatoes.

The “don’t be in the middle” mechanic of aiming for either the lowest or highest number of points out of the three players, while avoiding going over 100, tends to mean it matters how you play every hand, whether it’s bad, mediocre, or good, as it will generally matter which points you’re taking/giving and from/to whom.

The other interesting mechanic in this family is one I haven’t tried out yet: the first card to not follow suit determining the trump suit. This has an interaction with the Jass card values in which the relative rankings (and point values) of cards in every player’s hands are not fully determined at the start of the round, being influenced by the decisions made by the players in the first few tricks.


A few familiar games over the weekend - Race for the Galaxy, Root, Cuba Libre, The Bloody Inn, Web of Power, An Infamous Traffic, Amun-Re.

The others, in more detail -

Wingspan was the first game we played in the hotel room on Thursday, and Anthony played it four times this weekend. I only played it twice, but it’s a very nice engine game. The other very nice engine game Anthony introduced me to was Underwater Cities, in the first look section.

I’m glad that drawing cards has an opportunity cost in Wingspan as well as Underwater Cities - understanding and managing card flow adds really wonderful decisions from start to finish when it’s done well.

Pax Renaissance is currently the game I have played the most in 2019 (6 times so far), and also the game I played the most at PAX South (3, with five different people). It’s an incredible game with a high skill ceiling - I’m seeing opportunities I never noticed before.

I missed our annual PAX South RPG session, but I DIDN’T miss Sunday morning Dune. The Emperor and the Guild were overpaid for their services, formed a cowardly three way alliance with House Harkonnen, and won the game on turn 4. For my own part, I played a rather poor House Atreides, it’s harder to benefit from precognition when you don’t buy weapons and shields. It’s not as easy to get a solid (non-degenerate) game of Dune as it is with Cosmic Encounter. I would love some repeat play with the same players.


I am always up for Dune AND Cosmic.


Next Dune we can play with the harder-victory-for-larger-coalitions rules.


Yeah, I already went crazy posting all the WBC rules and things we played incorrectly per the Base rules elsewhere. This thread and the PDF of the re-write are my source.


We can bring it to East and play with the right mix of all these rules.


I’m all for playing with the newer/better rules when we play, but I don’t really want to carry it to East.