Recent Board Gaming

Nothing like designed inserts. Honestly it might be the thing I’m most hype for in the Suburbia Collectors Edition this fall.

I played a game of Raccoon Tycoon today which is a pretty good economics game with cute animal pictures. In the game you manipulate the prices of six different types of commodities, produce and sell them when its most opportune to you. The game also has a bidding mechanic and different ways of achieving victory points, and an optional hidden goal mechanic which we used and I think definitely helped the game. I also very much liked the card mechanic as the cards only let you simultaneously manipulate the prices and produce goods, but usually not the same goods for both parts of the card, meaning you have to plan a number of turns (both yours and your opponents) in advance.

I won that game, and I think largely through two key decisions at the start and end of the game. In the beginning you get two hidden goals and chose one. I had the option of between a goal that would give me 10 victory points if I had the most money at the end of the game, and a different goal that would give me one victory point per coal commodity in my coffers at the end of the game. The former seemed more riskier as an all-or-nothing proposition, so I chose the later. At the end of the game I had a bunch of coal saved up which I could have chosen to sell off to have money and be able to bid at an auction later, but I took the bird in hand instead of the two in the bush, and chose to play a card that would allow me to produce another three coal, though I had to discard some other commodity tokens because I didn’t have enough space left. This turned out to be my final action in the game anyway and it won me the game as the coal card gave me 12 victory points in the end (so more than the money goal would have given me anyway) and that was the difference of victory by three points. I possibly could have done better, but I made the mistake of buying two different types of production cards at the beginning, one for coal and one for iron, and the one for iron I rarely used and didn’t bother to upgrade, though maybe that also had good value to deny it from another player.

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Last week I bought my own copy of Nemesis which I preordered after playing the Kickstarter version with friends a couple of months ago. I apparently was lucky that I got it as there were apparently only 3000 copies made in german, with the game apparently not getting a proper retail release.

Today I ran the first game with another group of friends (except one repeat). It still held up quite well, though it is a long game to set up and play, and with a large number of rules look ups and just table talk we took 4 hours to complete the game. It also played out a lot differently, with the only in-game casual coming in the last player phase of the game, much to my surprise.

Things that happened this time:

  1. An alien stole an escape pod (okay, the card only said that an escape pod was jettisoned. We head-cannoned that the alien that just escaped into the technical corridors the turn earlier took it and said goodbye).
  2. I vented the alien queen into space!
  3. Every other player at some point or another scanned their contamination cards, always coming up empty. I have two contamination cards in hand and decide to pre-emptively do surgery, which was good because as it turned out I was unwittingly harboring an alien baby.
  4. In back-to-back event cards we placed five fire markers and four malfunction markers, almost blowing up the ship two different ways.
  5. After that I had to choose whether to try for the cryo chamber (which was on fire) or for an escape pod. Not having trust into the structural integrity of the ship (which I btw sent on the right course) I used a space suit I found to daringly make a space walk to a room next to a pod bay. However, then I had to roll for noise because we pulled a hunter token during the alien evolution step, which forced me into 40/60 chance of spawning an alien when I try to make it into the escape pod. However, that hit. I pull a token from the alien bag, and it’s the fucking blank! Thank goodness. Escape succeeded.
  6. After two people were already in cryo-sleep, and one guy was as good as dead with three major wounds, the wounded guy destroyed one of the operative engines, dooming everyone on board. He then died unceremoniously during his next encounter with an alien.
  7. The last player managed to just barely escape with a pod of his own before possibly being overwhelmed by an alien attack.


It’s not a lot of different games - but we played Roads & Boats Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Obviously enjoyed it if we played so much in quick succession, but it was a bit of a roller-coaster because the second scenario made it quite easy to avoid interaction. The game is much more interesting when you’re always uh, borrowing one another’s stuff.

Skulk Hollow is a game where I’m still struggling to decide how I feel about it. It’s definitely - as many reviewers on BGG have already pointed out - a game about getting deadlocked until someone pushes through the deadlock, and the foxen will win a fair fight on attrition because they have a significant action advantage… unless you can catch them on a turn where they have to prepare. Then again, I like some ‘deadlock’ games quite a lot, so… still making up my mind.

Unfair rose back to the top because the new expansion arrived. At first it looks like “just more stuff” but they snuck new game mechanics in all the new stuff, too. Like B-Movie cards that make the spatial locations of your other attractions matter.

And Res Arcana. Not much to say other than I like Res Arcana.

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Flashbacks to Skag Gully



Going to try noting how many times I’ve played each game - total plays, not just this week.

Arrived early-enough on Friday that Anthony and I could play two games of Res Arcana (13-14th play) before anyone else showed up. I shot myself in the foot in game 1, throwing my resources away on Windup Man.before unloading him on turn three. The second game went much better… for me at least. So at least I’m not the only person still making mistakes after a dozen games.

By this point Bill had arrived, but was too tired to play a wargame so I suggested Irish Gauge (2nd play) instead. I played the original Winsome version a year ago so I already knew what to expect - but it still didn’t save me from my traditional last-place finish for a cube-rails game.

Anthony went off to play Trickerion with several of our friends, so Brian offered to teach me Watergate (1st & 2nd play) and the stained-glass version of Azul (1st play). I somehow walked away owning a copy of Watergate I didn’t own at the beginning of the evening :wink:

On Saturday, the longtime friend group played Trickerion (7th play) and Vast: The Mysterious Manor (4th play), two games I lost for two different reasons - Trickerion for failing to secure an additional assistant until it was too late, and Vast for putting myself on the losing end of a stop-the-leader arrangement long enough for the spider to escape. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me love Vast and especially TMM.

Finally, on Sunday Anthony and I played through the introductory (3 turn) scenario of Paths of Glory (1st play). We were being quite nice about pointing out potential catastrophic supply problems to one another- which seemed to happen every other action! The tricky maneuvering and the need to do a dozen things with only 6 actions is exactly the kind of experience I was looking for, and we had a wonderful time. If we attempt a full campaign at some point in the future it will likely be a few turns at a time during the evening.


man I love me some WW1 but Paths of Glory looks sooo wargame crunchy.

Instead of playing Paths of Glory, just watch the movie. There’s a book also, but I’ve never read it.

Grain of salt, but it’s only one step up from Twilight Struggle in complexity. I say Grain of salt because earlier this year I grinded through the rules for Empire of the Sun and - I think - picked up most of the otherwise-alien concepts I hadn’t really encountered outside of these big-ish wargames where you’re juggling an entire theater.

Of course, there are a dozen tiny rules exceptions - the British Expeditionary Force is brave so it has to take the first hit, but only when attacking. Only corps (no armies) can operate in the near east theater, except for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and the French Oriental Expeditionary Force. No combat in desert spaces in the summer. Russian corps can’t strategic redeploy outside of Russia. Serbian armies are never out of supply in Serbia.

And for whatever reason, it was still a whole lot easier for me to absorb all of that compared to running combined naval/army operations in Empire of the Sun.

I have some exposure and via ROTC even have limited subject knowledge about some of the crunchiness, but a lot of times the conventions of wargaming are tedious for fandom reasons that annoy me. For example, the Units being represented by the NATO standard unit icons is fine for accuracy sake, but bad for gameplay sake unless you have military training or are a grognard war gamer. No reason to not represent these units with silhouette icons that are more image readable to a layperson.

Your example of super specific exception rules is the other big thing I hate. Some euros have this too but they are usually better about telegraphing WHEN it occurs by handouts/cards for the factions/places highlighting this. I’m game to try Paths of Glory, but the images I just googled of it from boardgamegeek are a selling point against the game.

Not only that, but the corps have the NATO symbol / notation (xxx) but the armies are just a bigger counter that says “2 Army” (for the second army). So it’s not even consistent. :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: I’ve also seen quite a few games use the silhouettes, too. Empire of the Sun is pretty good about this, carrier groups, bomber groups, battleships etc are represented in silhouette, even though the armies and brigades are still NATO infantry symbols. Infantry / cavalry in particular seem to be a standard part of the visual identity of wargames.

Combat Commander uses silhouettes for everything which makes sense… it’s ONLY infantry, at a very zoomed-in tactical scale. I guess the argument is it would be “odd” to try to represent an entire army with a silhouette of one, two, or four soldiers.

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Undaunted: Normandy (1st play) - I waffled and eventually picked up this game after it got a positive review from Dan at Space-Biff. I don’t always (or even often?) align with Dan’s opinions about a game, but if he reviews something at all it is likely that the game is doing something interesting.

Undaunted is interesting; a deckbuilder / skirmish game where you directly inflict losses on your opponent’s deck. A machine-gun nest is four cards in the German deck - land a shot, and now they’re three. Anthony and I played the second scenario because I’d read the first was somewhat static. It did a good job showing off the game, but none of these scenarios are like what you’d find in Combat Commander. The maps in Undaunted are small and somewhat featureless. Later scenarios introduce more unit types, mortar teams, snipers etc.

Once Jayme and Chandler arrived with their box of auction lots, we had a full table willing to play some not-very-new games.

Abraca… what? (20th play) - a game that I have played more than anyone else, going by logged plays on BGG. Before the final round, everyone was 1-2 points from winning, which is the closest game of Abraca… what I can remember! Mamma Mia (10th play) - which was kind of like playing a new game because the deck in Jayme and Chandler’s copy has a sixth ingredient and nearly twice as many recipes. And Tussie Mussie (1st play) - which was a new game, albeit a rather slight one. That’s all we had time for on Friday, since the store was closing at 10 for the auction the next day.

Anthony and I weren’t actually at the auction because of our usual Saturday 3p group. Anthony brought and taught Homebrewers (1st play). The notable thing about Homebrewers - to me, at least - is that the trading actually works. I have played a handful of games that include some kind of trading or negotiation, but do it in a way that feels (kind of) tossed-off. Homebrewers does it, too, but it actually ended up being useful because there’s so few ways to mitigate your dice other than trading them around. It’s silly, but I was impressed that one of these games finally pulled it off.

Arkham Horror TCG (28th play) - We stuck a toe into The Forgotten Age with some new decks, and it was a huge disaster just like our first attempt at Carcosa. We called a mulligan and will come back to it next week… our friend Dan already made a different deck for our second attempt.

Tapestry (3rd play) - I forgot my own advice and didn’t draw aggressively. I tried to get by with just-okay tapestry cards, and finished with a just-okay score. :slight_smile:

Town Center (6th play) - I wanted to play an Alban Viard game, it was the end of the night, and Town Center is short enough to easily fit in after 10PM. It had been almost two years since the last time I had played Town Center - with exactly the same group of people in fact, in our hotel room at the first PAX Unplugged. This is the kind of game where there’s definitely a ‘best’ way to do things, but none of us know it. I ended this game with $130 because of an unreasonably large commercial district that occupied most of my city, and managed to score the highest by exchanging my money into VP at a terrible rate because we all planned so poorly.

Finally, on Sunday evening Anthony and I played four turns of a Paths of Glory (2nd play) campaign. At the start of spring 1915 France is still doing okay although Germany has a clear shot to cut them off. The British Expeditionary Force is still completely fresh despite being driven back to Calais. And Russia has mobilized a rather frightening army on the border with Austria Hungary, even while Germany has been making incredible gains in the north facing very little resistance. We left the game set up, so we can play a few turns at a time this week.


Did a little shopping for the Board Game Department for Zenkaikon:

Disney Villainous + Expansions was able to get these at a discount due to a recent target sale.

Having seen this played, it’s a good meeting point between parents and 8-11 year olds in term of complexity.

New Angeles: BSG with a Netrunner skin. Honestly, the game mechanics work better when you’re a bunch of Souless Corporations trying to get the best deal.

7 Wonders Babel aka 7 Wonders Calvinball, I got it mostly to complete the collection for 7 Wonders. Although, I hear there is a new expansion for it now.

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Be warned. That game is a god damned case study for mechanics that serve only to prolong playtime. The game can easily go looooooooooong.

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It’s cold outside, and Jayme & Chandler are done moving, so on Monday the four of us played Trickerion (8th play). This is a delicate game that Anthony and I have played several times since the expansion arrived earlier this month. Ironically, we’ve been playing without the expansion, but it is serving its purpose by driving us to play more!

Back at home, our campaign of Paths of Glory ended suddenly and surprisingly with Russia breaking into Austria-Hungary, so Anthony and I set it up and started again (3rd play). We made it all the way to turn 7 without any major disasters (at least, no major disasters either of us has noticed or capitalized on).

TGK was still pretty empty on Friday by the time Anthony and I finished dinner, so we started with a 2p game of Skulk Hollow (3rd play). Proving you really need to know the matchups - I played a new monster (the bird) and easily routed the little guys off the board.

By the time we were done Steve had arrived, and I suggested Lovelace & Babbage (1st play), which is broadly in the same genre as Ricochet Robots or some obscure Asian games like Pharaoh Code - process a bunch of information as quickly as possible. I joked that this combines my enjoyment of quickly evaluating machines in Factory Fun with my enjoyment of adding dozens of numbers in Outpost. I don’t actually do arithmetic very quickly, but I didn’t find it hindered my ability to play well.

I wasn’t surprised to learn Lovelace & Babbage had made some enemies-for-life by the end of the night, though - the concept alone seems destined to generate antipathy.

It had been two years since the last time I played Res Publica (7th play) and we had 5 people after Jayme & Chandler arrived, so why not? This game I had what I thought was the perfect trade lined up - I knew Anthony had huns, and had been asking for either of the two civilization cards I was holding. The fact that I was actively looking for huns was public information. But - seemingly to prove how much of this game happens in the players’ heads - I offered my half of the trade and it whizzed right by.

I had been wanting to play some Crayon Rails (Anthony isn’t a fan, but Jayme and Chandler are) but Bill had arrived and it worked out best if we split 4p/2p. I continued my WWI gaming with Fields of Despair (1st play) for the rest of the night. Moltke gets some grief from history for botching the Schlieffen plan and getting repelled at the Marne - but he still did much better than I did. Gamewise, tense and entertaining - enough that I want to get Europe Engulfed out because the designer of FoD credits it in his notes.

On Saturday, we played one of Anthony’s new games, Dark Domains (1st play). It is a Pillars of the Earth / light Ameritrash hybrid that I found pretty charming.

With all the wargaming I’ve been doing, the time I used to spend on 18xx has vanished, so I suggested a quick game of 1846 (26th play). I started the B&O with steamboat, and did reasonably well through the first two sets of ORs, but I have yet to figure out how to do a proper dismount when everyone buys all your B&O shares - perhaps I should try dumping it next time.

Finally, we made a second attempt at Arkham Horror LCG: The Forgotten Age (29th play overall). Much, much better than last week - but we went in expecting we would have to resign before the end of the scenario. Discretion being the better part of valor etc.image


Considering I’m buying it for a weekend convention aimed at families, that’s not so much of a drawback.

City of the Big Shoulders (1 play) - This was a Monday evening game at Jayme & Chandler’s place (it was on their to-play list). I have some concerns about the stock market - specifically putting a 1-dimensional 18xx stock market in a game where 1) stocks drop 1 per share sold, 2) there’s only one OR per SR so there’s no time to recover, and 3) the president’s cert is 30%. Any player has the opportunity to repress the share value of any company by buying 20% and selling it back in every SR. This isn’t something that happened in our game, but it seems like something you should probably do to whoever the #1 player is.

Paths of Glory (3 plays) - Anthony and I finished our game on turn 10; France collapsed in the Summer of 1916 after a crucial mistake retreating the British army holding Amiens - in retrospect I’m not sure what else I was expecting would happen. :slight_smile:

Our friend Roberto came to TGK with us on Friday, and looking for a short game we settled on Bunny Kingdom (2 plays). The rules state that the winner is declared Big Ears - a title I had to give up to Anthony after holding it for 20 months. By then we had a crowd forming for a 5p game of Northern Pacific (11 plays). With the exception of Roberto, everyone had played at least once before, but in theory that was fine because he was sitting to my left so I couldn’t shark off of any big mistakes. I put myself in an early lead, but lost the tempo so by the time the train got to Seattle it had ended in a 3 way tie between myself, Sean, and Anthony.

Sean, Matt, Bill and I broke off at this point to play 1846 (27 plays). I got Michigan Southern, and Sean got Tunnel Blasting, LSL, and the Mail Contract (for $15 below face value). I probably threw too many NYC shares into the bank pool in OR1.1, pitching three to be able to afford 3 2-trains - but the real mistake was deciding to keep NYC after the second set, since I was going to have to half-pay to get a single permanent train into the company after losing all my 2s. Meanwhile, the greens ended up running for 6+ ORs and Sean left me behind with multiple large Erie dividends - there were almost no tokens blocking the E/W routes, and despite tokening out Toledo, Erie had a token in Chicago to run from so it barely slowed them down.

On Saturday, Roberto joined our weekend group and we played a bunch of cooperative games. We never made it past level 5 in The Mind (2 plays), but we completely destroyed Ghost Stories (4 plays), a game that I remembered being much harder! We had similar luck in the 10:50 to Arkham scenario in Mansions of Madness 2e (7 plays). I played the doctor, but the scenario seemed quite insistent on giving us horror instead of wounds. But we still efficiently collected everything we needed with time to spare - much smoother than the time we had to deal with a train in the Arkham LCG.

Quartermaster General: Victory or Death (2 plays) - the most delicate game in the QMG series, or at least the easiest one to lose right away. I have now played once as the Oligarchs (Sparta) and once as the Demos (Delian League) - in theory that means I’m halfway to knowing all the cards!


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Are there any card-based war games with the play a card every turn mechanic, except the theme is fictional?

I think the board game for The Expanse does something like this.

Never heard of it, but apparently it’s a show on Syfy. And BGG says the game is a lot like Twilight Struggle, but shorter.