Recent Board Gaming

Ian Brody (the designer) also says the next Quartermaster General is going to be “Arthur, King of the Britons”.

BRB. Leaving work to go to Ian’s place to play the prototype.

sounds of two coconut shells banging together

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I wanted to play Commands & Colors Ancients (19th play) last week, so Anthony and I played the Pyrrhic War scenarios from the Greek expansion on Monday and Wednesday. Pyrrhus’s army is the first time the Romans encountered war elephants, and in the Commands & Colors system elephants are fragile - they always seem to get themselves killed after the initial charge. I’m beginning to think it’s better to hold them in reserve and only send them in to mop up damaged units.

On Thursday we needed something appropriately spooky for Halloween so we went to Dan’s and proceeded with our Arkham LCG (30th play) Forgotten Age campaign. Seems the first scenario in this campaign was intentionally quite difficult, because we made it out of the second without having to add any extra trauma or weaknesses.

Anthony and I had time for a 2p while waiting for others to arrive on Friday, so we played a learning game of Watergate (3rd play). So far, Nixon has won every game of this I’ve played, since letting him get to 4 momentum feels safe - until he plays Gambit and wins immediately.

We split up after more people arrived - Anthony played Space Explorers and Irish Gauge at the other table while I played 1846 (28th play) with Sean and Matt. This was a really funny game, where I got O&I and Mail Contract, Sean got Michigan Southern, and Matt was stuck with a rather expensive collection of privates - Big 4, C&WI, and Tunnel Blasting. My plan was to par the IC high and get a good Mail Contract run on OR1.2, but Sean took the IC first. Perhaps the ‘best’ thing to do would be to take NYC but I assumed Matt might par it low and scoop up the 2 trains for me so I picked B&O instead. Matt decided to invest, but Sean started Grand Trunk as a second company in SR1 to help out IC in the north. We went into the first set of ORs with no NYC on the board, and things just got weirder from there. We called the game after OR3.2 because we bought up to the grey trains much quicker than Matt anticipated and he got stuck holding a single certificate and just one permanent train in his company.

Jayme & Chandler had just bought a copy of Point Salad (1st play) and we bravely played with 6 players. This is not a 6p game - 3 is the highest player count where you can control at least one card that will be available on your next turn. I’m probably overthinking it, but that’s my brand. :slight_smile:

Since we had 6 people at the table, I suggested Quartermaster General (21st play) and Anthony, always my wingman for these things, provided the momentum to get the game started. The original QMG is one of my absolute favorite games, and I’ve gotten used to just teaching it with everything - Air Marshal, Alternate Histories, and even Prelude. I’m still getting used to the way the game plays with France and China - the Allies actually start at a sprint, for as long as they can protect western Europe and China. That’s how this game began, until slowly, inevitably, France, China, and the eastern front all collapsed. The Pacific theater was starting to look dangerous for the Axis between the ANZAC force in the Philippines and the US navy in Iwo Jima, but the game ended in an Axis victory before we could take the shot at the Japanese home islands.

Saturday we went to an Extra Life extra life event, but didn’t actually play all that many games - there was a lot more general socializing and hanging-out. Anthony and I began with a rematch in Watergate (4th play) where the editor finally won by occasionally contesting Nixon on momentum. We also had time to play Traders of Osaka (16th play) while others were still in a game of Colosseum, and it was a tight competition until the end of a very high scoring game - I kept red out of the port for most of the game but a fortunate flip gave the game to Anthony, 36 - 24.

David and Jamie had arrived by the time the game of Colosseum ended, and I taught them how to play Age of Steam (2nd play). I needed a bit of a refresher myself, since it had been more than a year since I played it for the first time, but I did a reasonable job teaching. In this case, “reasonable job” means no one went bankrupt, and I didn’t win! I’ll be receiving my copy of AoS later this week, so I anticipate being able to get a few more 3p games in with expansion maps over the next month or so.

To close out the night, we had convinced Dan to come down and play games with us at the Extra Life event, and we continued the Arkham Horror LCG (31st play) campaign, and powered through one of the Unlock games we borrowed from Chandler. She said she was impressed by the way we work through escape room games, but I think at least some of that is because having three sets of eyes and hands is ‘ideal’ for most board game escape rooms. We finished Insert Coin in 27 minutes and only needed one hint… at the very, very beginning. :slight_smile:

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We certainly played a lot of Tank Duel (New - 5 plays) this week - first two games on Tuesday just between myself and Anthony. He won the first in a blowout, and I won the second in a tight spread. After the first two games I wasn’t sure if I liked it… but as you add more optional rules for infantry or scenarios or AI tanks it really comes together as a charming package. By the time we played a 3v1 against an AI-driven Tiger I was won over.

Friday, after two more games of Tank Duel we got Wings for the Baron (6th play) out for the first time in three years - a few days shy of Remembrance Day. It was surprisingly easy to re-learn the rules, although I wasn’t able to get the assembly line at Fokker running smoothly by the time Germany surrendered the war.

Anthony just received his big box of Dale of Merchants (6th and 7th play) expansion stuff, which is what we ended the evening with. I’ve always liked the way Dale of Merchants approached deckbuilding and deconstruction - sometimes you can sit and puzzle out a perfect path to the end with your own deck, and sometimes the cards will result in a chaotic game that punishes you for thinning your deck. Since you pick N+1 sets of cards to form the deck, you can plan for the card effects that are likely to be available… sort of a halfway point between Dominion and Ascension.

Friday we played a very insular puzzle that I solved my way through efficiently - but the second game we played on Saturday was a more chaotic three-legged race where I fell over on the first step.

We finished Saturday - after even more Tank Duel - by continuing our Arkham Horror (33rd play) campaign. I don’t know if it’s truly in the spirit of the thing to reset a scenario to the beginning when things go completely sideways, but Forgotten Age is really demanding some specific, unique strategies! I’d like to try some of these campaigns a second time on hard, knowing what to expect.

Sunday, continuing the trend of barely-missing a significant date after Remembrance Day, Anthony and I played Twilight Struggle (5th play) one day after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I got very, very lucky and held the Central America scoring card and “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…” in the same hand, right after the mid-war shuffle, allowing me to discard it and prevent it from scoring until the end of the game. Which is good, because both Cuba and Mexico were solid red after some very brilliant USSR plays. At the end, the margin of victory for the US was that Central America scoring card.

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Heavily wanna play Twilight Struggle some time, just had issues finding a player interested in my group.

If you just want to try it, the PC/mobile version will get you there and teach you the rules - but the AI is quite limited. It’s how I learned the game, but it doesn’t put up much of a fight anymore. The first five or so “learning” games are still full of exciting moments, though. And it’s still capable of generating some really wild results - the USA completely lost France to the Soviet sphere of influence in this face-to-face game, and nothing could bring them back over.

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I have heavily thought about picking it up on Steam. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Played Underwater Cities for the first time last night. Really enjoyed the game. Love the combination of trying to match the color of your action card with the color of the action space on the board so you can perform both. Also really enjoyed the tableau aspect of the game and building my own city. I’m already looking forward to playing it again.

Yeah, I played it. It’s pretty good. Choosing not only what card to play, but also what spot to play the card results in a worker placement with a lot of flexibility. Yet, it avoids analasys paralasys because so many of the action choices are just obviously suboptimal.

We played the “normal” version, where everyone’s city is the same. I imagine the “advanced” version where everyone’s city is different, with variable ongoing effects during the production phases, really adds to the game.

I forget which one we played. It was in First Look at South.

We played the standard game where everyone had the same city.

I think there were cards or characters that were still asymmetric.

Commands & Colors: Ancients (21st play) - Specifically, the Rome vs Barbarians expansion. We played the first scenario (Clusium) again on Monday. While it came out closer than the first time, the Gauls defeated Rome’s hapless unnamed Praetor a second time.

No gaming on Thanksgiving, but we were at the store for Black Friday.

Pax Renaissance (11th play) - Anthony and I had a 2p Renaissance slugfest. I’ve been cycling in podcasts about late medieval / early modern Europe, because of the new Hollandspiele game about the Peace of Westphalia. As a consequence, I spent the week thinking about PaxRen, and suggested it on Friday. Unable to seal the deal on a mercantile victory through a Portuguese royal marriage, the game went to time and I lost a game of hot potato over a defenseless Holy Roman Empire (me with the significant Ottoman army, him with a resurgent French army).

Bus (2nd play) - First time this winter that I’ve sat and learned a game from the rules at the table with everyone else. “Learned”, because I have played Bus before, but it was back in 2016.

Prêt-à-Porter (2nd play) - Before we started gaming on Black Friday, I had a conversation with Erica, mostly about how much easier it is to let other people buy euros and then play those copies. Prêt-à-Porter is a good illustration of this principle - I’m glad I played it twice, and would play it more, as long as nothing else exciting was happening.

Unlock: Sherlock Holmes - An attempt to work through the large backlog of escape room games borrowed from Jayme and Chandler. Pretty good - though it was a bit disappointing that the Sherlock-themed Unlock had no whodunit aspect when the earlier Tombstone Express actually had you reasoning out a mystery.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game (37th play) - The penultimate scenario of The Forgotten Age. We may have fudged a rule that would have led to my investigator getting killed outright, but the series of events that led to my cursed relic getting blanked on the turn where I was defeated was too funny not to handwave away. :slight_smile:

1889 (10th play) - Perhaps a questionable choice from me, it was getting late but I wanted to play again to celebrate the recently-announced reprint from Grand Trunk Games. After handing off the brown company on the fourth SR and starting pink/blue to buy 3 of the 4 trains, I had not necessarily won… but when Dan declined to start a second company to actually push the trains, that sealed my position on top. Not only were the 4 trains permanent, the 3s were, too.

Table Battles (1st-2nd play) - On Sunday, Anthony and I played this filler I picked up in the Hollandspiele sale - no joke, it says “Length: Filler” right on the side of the box!. The two scenarios we played were very different - a protracted slugfest in the Thirty Years’ War, and an incredibly brief stabbing “contest” in the War of the Roses. In both cases, the historic loser came out on top, although I’m not convinced that Richard III lived to see the House of York defeat the Lancastrians.

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Played my first game of Tapestry on Friday night, a two player game. This game appears to be very controversial on BGG and I went into it with very low expectations and expecting not to like it. In general, I think that Jaime Stegmaier is a better promoter than a game designer. He’s great at whipping up hype and enthusiasm for his games, but none of his previous games were all that special. Scythe is probably one of the most over-rated games in my book. It’s not bad, but it’s not Top 10 on BGG good.

So anyway, back to Tapestry… with extremely low expectations, and being told by my friend that Tapestry is NOT a 4x or civ-type game, I ended up enjoying it. Despite the marketing and the hype, Tapestry is a pretty decent Euro with incredibly overblown production values. I’m glad I didn’t pay $100 for it. The buildings, while kind of cool, don’t really add anything to the game and could have easily been wooden pieces instead of actual painted miniatures.

Speaking of the buildings, the whole “bingo board” in Tapestry seemed completely unnecessary and tacked-on as a mechanic. I guess if you want to have expensive miniatures to increase the price point of your game, you have to do something with them. For a more in-depth criticism of Tapestry, there are plenty of reviews on BGG, but I’ll just say that the game wasn’t great, but with the right expectations, it wasn’t terrible either. Typical Stonemaier game.

We crossed another big strategic-level wargame off my bucket list this weekend: Empire of the Sun. Only played through 1942, enough to have fluency with the rules and the cards. 1943 (or the whole campaign) soon, perhaps. Ironically, it’s harder to leave games set up at the moment because the table is also my work-space while working from home.

A friend of mine invited me to play Shadowrun: Sprawl Ops, a game he finally received after it being stuck for quite a while in Kickstarter distribution hell.

The game is basically Lords of Waterdeep in Shadowrun universe. You have runners with specific skills, you can hire additional ones, some to replace your starter runners. Then you have some worker placement where the game board offers different places with various limitations that allow you to gather resources, buy gear, and take on missions. The game offers three “standard missions” of sorts on the board itself, or you can assign your runners to other tasks which allow you to then use them also in the more daunting and more rewarding available missions. He has the deluxe version that comes with three alternate game boards with different focuses, but we played a three player game on the standard game board.

Runners and their gear give you certain dice, of which there are five types. The starter runners only allow access of three of the five types so you have to gain the other types, though there is a way you can convert multiple success of one type to one of another. Rolling successes on dice contributes to completion of a phase of a mission, completing all phases completes the mission which gives you rewards. However, there is also risk of a runner getting injured or dying on a mission.

Ultimately you want to stock up your characters with gear so you can take on the final mission. Whoever beats the final mission first wins the game, so there is an aspect of race to stock up, but that also means that losing a runner can very much throw you back very hard. There are ways to mitigate the risk but they also cost resources. The standard board we played was very little focused on messing with other players, mostly just by the restrictions of how many workers can be placed on each location.

The biggest flaw in the game is of course the dice rolling, a mechanic I am not particularly fond of. Here stocking up your character also means rolling a large amount of dice at once, and having to look over the result and figure out what you got. There is a mechanic where you can reduce your dice pool in exchange for automatic successes, but that still left me with 12+ dice in hand when I took on the final mission, which I beat the turn right before the next guy was going to try (and probably beat) it.

Overall a pretty decent game, though with flaws. Putting up the board and reading the rules it seemed more complicated, but once we started playing the turns were surprisingly fast. I would like to try some of the alternate boards though. These expansions also come with “free slots” where you can add one of a number of cards that represent an additional location to the board, giving it variability.

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Got to play some more board games today.

Because I gifted my niece and nephew my copy of the original game a couple years ago, I bought King of Tokyo: Dark Edition. Still a very good game as a mixture of King of the Hill and Yahtzee. The only additional rule is a bit of a catch-up mechanic where low triple digits advance you on a track that automatically grants you additional power ups without having to buy them. The updated styling of the game pieces is also very neat. KoT is definitely a game I would recommend to anybody, and if you don’t own a copy already I would recommend buying this one since you don’t have to utilize the additional elements, but you can if you want to.


We also played Kingdomino, a game I bought years ago, then put it in the game shelf at my friend’s LGS since I didn’t need it at home after moving. I had actually never played it myself. It seemed a lot more complicated when I read the rules after buying it, and even tonight when I checked it up again, but basically it is really quick and easy to play once you actually start with it. I lost the first round (3-players) because I made a mistake in placements and couldn’t place a tile at the end. I won the second round (4-players) with good decisions. All around a lot of fun and quite a lot more fast paced than it seems. However, it seems that since the tiles are fixed, long term people would possibly start card-counting if they were so inclined to do it in such a simple game.

I’m not sure how much that’s a comment for or against the game, since the back cover of the rulebook has the total count of each type of terrain. And on Boardgamearena, that same graphic can be easily pulled up. I think knowing the total number of each type of terrain is intended.

I agree with this assessment. Kingdomino is a terrific game, but has limited replay value. Easy to learn, but doesn’t take even part of a lifetime to master.