Boardgame Madness @ Mid-West, pt. II

Imperial Settlers

Warm up game! My Barbarians never properly entered the race as Jan’s Japanese battled Lowell’s Romans. This would become a recurring trend! Leaving me in the dust, I mean. Not Japanese vs. Roman battles (though that would be a much better trend).

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Stupid Barbarians. I still love this game. It’s fun, has some player interaction but not too much, and it’s has lots of card variety to make the games different and combolicious.

Right of Succession

Lowell’s own game that he took to Cards Against Humanity’s Cardboard Deathmatch (or whatever it was called). As Jonna always says, never pass up an opportunity to play a game with its designer! Right of Succession turned out to be a crunchy game of area control with some auction and drafting mechanics thrown in for good measure.

You manage a house with different families in it. You want to optimize these families to allow prominent family members to achieve their potential in areas like religion, knowledge, finance etc. Not all area’s give points every round, though. The important areas are decided by the ruler in charge.

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At the end of every round (and those go quite fast) you points if you are the first, second or third best placed for the three areas this particular ruler finds important. But rulers can change fast – every round you are invited to support other pretendents for the throne, or you can play the long game and invest your money in the next generation of upstart rulers.

Marrying your families will move them up one generation and give them a lot more options to become more skilled or specialized, but will also mean you have to give things up. Deciding when to marry is probably the toughest call in the game.

We enjoyed this game quite a bit! The quick rounds make for a nice dynamic that doesn’t bog down overly much, but it is still definitely a medium weight game with a good amount of crunch. I’m not sure if the theme sticks completely (moving people around different families feels a little weird), but it was really fun to recognize a lot of family names from RPGGeek. Check out the Hidaman family!

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Lowell is planning to bring the game to kickstarter, and I hope he does.Want!

Dutch Blitz

Jonna had gotten a copy of Dutch Blitz from the Holcomb family. They played it while we were roleplaying our Savage Worlds dungeon crawl. They were making more noise than we were!

Dutch Blitz is a type of speed patience. Everyone has a deck of cards (not quite playing cards) and deals out three face up cards, and a small pile of 10 cards face up. The goal is to clean out that pile of ten cards as quickly as possible. You do this by placing cards in the common area in the middle.

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Piles in the middle have to be one color, start with one and go up one number at a time. Once you are rid of your 10 cards, you yell Dutch Blitz! And everyone else will score penalty points. Jonna creamed us all. Yet another simple game that’s surprisingly fun and we got really into it. Want!

Cheaty Mages

A betting game made by the maker of Love Letter. High expectations! Sadly, it wasn’t a very good game. Every round you bet on one or two or a series of gladiators, and then cast spells (overtly or hidden) on the fighters to try to ensure your guy wins. It kind of reminds me of Munchkin, and it seems too random to actually affect very much. Too bad, Love Letter dude!

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Uchronia

When I mentioned to Lowell that our niche was card games and that Glory to Rome was my holy grail game, he suggested Uchronia. Urchonia is another Carl Chudyk card game that uses a lot of the Glory to Rome mechanics. The theme is Ancient Roman times with dinosaurs – nothing wrong with that!

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Having already played Innovation and Mottainai (the so-called “spiritual successor to Glory to Rome’), I didn’t need a lot of explanation. Jan hadn’t played Mottainai yet, and had to get used to cycling his cards from the middle to his hand to his resource stack to either Activities or Building Projects. You know, the usual GTR stuff. This was a fun brain crunchy game! I just can’t get enough of Carl’s card-games – even though they are all pretty similar I still want them all. I think Carl might pass Vlaada Chvatil as my favorite game designer – or at least as my must buy one.

Brass

Finally we tried out this Martin Wallace classic that Lowell thought would take two hours to play. Gha! Brass is about the industrial revolution in Mid-England. The game is divided into two parts: One where you build waterways and try to shape your industry around them. Then in the second part those waterways go away and you race a second time to get as many railways as you can and built your industries around them again.

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I scored big in the first part and had a nice pile of money to see me into the second, but starting fully over set me back a fair bit. A few mistakes left me behind as Jan once again trounced Lowell. I had quite a bit of AP this game and they made fun of me and called me Rahdo!

I didn’t like Brass on first play – the rules and the game play seem messy and inconsistent and dividing the game up in two parts is frustrating. It might improve on repeat plays as you get more equipped to plan ahead, which is what this game is all about.

Gaming shorts @ Mid-West: Machine of Death, Pit and Spoons

When we were in Minnesota, Andre showed us her kickstarter edition of Machine of Death where you work together as squad of improve hitmen trying to take out people in hilariously overcomplicated ways. We tried to kill George Clooney by using a nespresso trail to lead him into a piranha trap, David Letterman with an exploding thumbtack chair, Stan Lee with a murderous mummy, and Batman with a bipolar bear. Very silly!

In Wisconsin we played Pit – a game of real-time set collection with a trading theme. You need to get a set of nine cards of the same type by trading your unwanted cards with the other players. As fast as you can. Lots of shouting and laughter happened as Mike beat us all at stocks trading.

But that was nothing compared to Spoons, a family game of (again) set collection but with much more hilarious results. Once you get your set of four playing cards (say all 4’s) together, you can grab a spoon off of the table. That’s the signal for everyone else to grab a spoon too, except there’s one spoon less than there are people. Every time you end up empty handed you are that much closer to getting bumped out of the game.

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So it’s like musical chairs with spoons. Hilarity and slapstick comedy ensues as people battle for the right to wear the spoon crown and put their name on it. Yes, this family has an actual spoon crown, though the last time anyone put their name on it was in 2006. Well, that was going to change!

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I love family games and we all got into it. Especially Caitlin made a few Olympics-worthy dives for the spoons because she didn’t want to lose, and got into a few tug of war matches with Lori and Jan.

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But I wanted my name on that crown, damnit! We took out the parents first, and after that I only had to beat out Jan, Caitlin and Megan to become Spoon Queen of the Day. An honor I was happy to accept, an one that came with complimentary cat.

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Croque and Spelen

As it turns out Croque Monsieurs and games make for an excellent combination.

Boardgame night traditions in our town of Leuven once started with Bread and Games then evolved into Pie and Games. I tried to take over Pie and Games but we soon found out I suck at making pie! So Croque and Games was born. We ate our way through three big breads, and I had to go find one of Belgium’s famous Bread Vendomats to resupply us. Turns out, you really can eat croques all through the day!

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Croque ingredient goodness courtesy of Leuven’s best butcher, Rondou

We ran three tables and that was good – any more would have been uncomfortable. Though in summer we could easily swing two tables outside…

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Stone Age!

The afternoon was mostly monopolized by one huge game of Vampire: Prince of the city, a board game set in the White Wolf world we all love (or have questionable experiences with). Bluffing, deal making, backstabbing and a fair amount of grudge matching was enjoyed by all.

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Vampire!

In the time it took them to play out their Machiavellian fantasies, I got to play about six games. I managed to dust off Stone Age and Galaxy Trucker and play Bang! for the first time. I was particularly happy about playing Stone Age again, it’s one of my favorite light euro’s and it’s been too damn long. Nice game too, we had very divergent strategies: Chris was all about agriculture, Frans all about tools, me all about popping out as many meeples as possible and Geert was somewhere in the middle of all of this extremism. This gave us all a lot to work with, but I had been snapping up meeple multiplier bonus cards like crazy, and my slutty breeding tactics got me a nice 50 point bonus on top of everything else. Winning!

In the evening we rounded off with a few rounds of parlor games: 30 seconds/time’s up, charades, What were you thinking? and Never have I ever. My favorite part of this must have been Kris trying to charade Sex & The City in the most hilarious and lewd way possible. Or was it suffering to trying to get people to guess “All small furry animals gathered in a big cave to sing the blues?” Or playing “Never have I ever” where the goal quickly shifted from the normal “reveal as little about yourself while exposing others” to “setting yourself up to tell hilarious horrible stories about yourself”.

Note to self: When Bavo or Steven had you an open beer, think twice about drinking it!

Meanwhile, the people that aren’t much into parlour games, had set up for a game of Sherrif of Nottingham. I wish I had joined in this game, because it seemed like they were having a blast with it. All players had roleplay experience, and they hammed it up with bullshit stories about contributions to the orphan’s fund and the Sherrif’s re-election campaign. It seemed like a lot of fun!

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Sheriff of Nottingham

Talking Tango

 

Game Night: Uggtect, Between Two Cities and Rialto

Woah, I’m totally behind on games. I have been too busy for writing, I’d better be succinct!

9-year old Kaia really loved Uggtect. She had great fun being a Stone Age architect, thumping people on the head and yelling Karungu Karungu! Then she hit her mom in the eye with the included inflatable club! Not sure if It would make a great kids’ game or a great trip to the ER (probably both!)

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We tried out my Print & Play copy of Between Two Cities, a cooperative draft game that’s on kickstarter right now. What happens is you draft two tiles each turn and put one tile in the city to your left and one in the city to the right. The player to your left and right also contribute one of their tiles to that city, and you can talk and negotiate about which tile to put into which city. So when you’re drafting, for once you are not thinking “Oh, I can’t let my neighbour get this card, it’s too good for them”. You want to them to get it, and to put it in the city you’re sharing together.

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It’s an original idea, but the cooperation was fairly easy and didn’t really lead to interesting discussions or dynamics. You’re trying to build a city whose tiles will combo well with each other. To my right, we just built a city containing almost all factories, since they were worth a lot of points if you had the most of them. To my left we built a regular city with lots of variety. Both cities had pretty much the same amount of points, and we didn’t have a lot to talk about. Factories here, other stuff there!

It just felt too lightweight. I’m keeping my P&P, but not backing the Kickstarter. A shame, because it was a very European friendly one, and that doesn’t happen all the time.

Finally we played Stefan Feld’s Rialto, a card drafting and bidding game with some area control elements. It has that musty Euro look but, like most musty Euro’s, it plays quite well! Area control and bidding are not my favorite mechanics but here they are well done and not too overbearing.

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Gamesday @ Janna’s in Antwerp

We met up with Janna, Ken and Linde in Antwerp for a surprise day of games!

Janna turned out to be quite the Ryan Laukat fangirl! Ryan is the designer of The Ancient World and a whole slew of games that all have his beautiful signature artwork. Probably the best artwork in games today. At the end of the day I was pretty sad I didn’t back his latest game Artifacts Inc. on kickstarter! So we spent a lot of the day catching up on old Laukat games we didn’t know yet.

City of Iron

First City of Iron which looks and plays a lot like The Ancient World. It’s set in this very evocative steam-punk world of captains, explorers, beast men and demon-powered airships. You spend the game building up your production machines, but also exploring new lands, conquering new cities *and cycling your employees in the deck building part of the game. Just like The Ancient World, this game wants to do a lot of things at the same time! I’m still not quite sure if that works well or makes a good game, but it is a bit like playing will all the toys in the toy store at the same time. And that brings it’s own fun!

Janna and me tried to take an early lead on science, but it ended up as a very slow start, while Ken and Jan built up their military and managed to carve out quite a lead on production very early. We ended up closer in the end but Ken destroyed Jan’s cities and won. Yes, destroyed! Much like in Race for the Galaxy, if you take the war path you also open yourself up to get attacked. Just another toy in the toy store!

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Eight Minute Empire: Legends

Another Ryan Laukat game: Eight Minute Empire: Legends. This one is very different than the previous Laukat games, though, it’s a land grab game like Small World or Risk. But a small minitature version you can play in eight minutes. If you hurry, 20 minutes is more likely. Jonna warned us that we needed to spread our cubes around the world fast because the game is over so fast. And it’s true!

You play by picking cards that have an action (move cubes, get cubes) on it *and* a card or ability bonus. You can either pick the first card, or jump ahead and spend your money to buy one further up ahead. The catch is that you can’t get more money than your starting amount! So it’s quite possible to run out of money and have to pick up scraps for the rest of the game.

I usually hate land-grabbing games. I find the strategies involved boring and the games take far, far too long. This one is really short and half of the strategy revolved around card picking instead of cube management. A big improvement, as far as I’m concerned! This game is going on the wishlist!

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Story Cubes

We played some Story Cubes during dinner prep. I’ve seen the game around but I never got to play it. You take 9 story dice,roll them and make up a story: one line per die, using the icon on the die. It’s very cute and quick! You can throw your fellow players for a loop, I started one story with “A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, a man couldn’t get his paperwork in order to register for health insurance”.

I don’t have a picture of the cubes, but I have one of Janna’s cat!

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Chtulhu!!! Hastur La Vista Baby!

Then we played Chtulhu!!!, the variant of the classic Zombies!!! games that we’d never got round to playing before. I called the cultists zombies throughout the entire game because it just has that feel. But, no, in this version you battle cultists and try to tear down three cultists sites without ending up on the altar yourself and becoming instrumental in summoning Hastur (who?).

It’s a fast little ameritrashy push your luck game where my luck kept ending in death and other people did quite well. Because, like all good zombie (cultist!) games, it is a competi-coop and you throw other people for a loop while you pretend to work together. It was cute but somehow managed to go on forever! It would be great at maybe a 30 minutes playing time. Maybe I’m just getting really enamored of short, quick games. Though Janna and Ken certainly kept busy with their infinite byakki conga line!

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RPGGeek weekend games

We had our Finnish friends over for the RPGGeekmeet weekend. I’ve been on a renewed boardgame kick lately, so I was happy to inflict lots of games upon them. This plight mostly fell to Toni who had no laptop or Untapped to hide behind. He got his revenge by crushing me in pretty much every game we played.

The first game we played was Funghi/Morels. Usually a nice quiet game about picking mushrooms in the forest. But this time some cruel twist of fate (or lack of shuffling) had put all the baskets all the way at the bottom of the draw pile. So our cozy little trip to the forest turned into a heated mushroom fueled fight for survival. It was like picking mushrooms in Siberia while clubbing other would-be mushroom pickers to death with your (sadly unused) frying pan. Our despair led to some very amusing table talk.

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I thought we were in Siberia together, but Toni was mostly faking it and near the end of the game he started churning out one great mushroom dish after another. Damn! Great game 🙂

After that we played some Love Letter with Ville. This game is never not fun!

We played some late night Race for the Galaxy to wind down. It’s Jan’s and my favorite game, and it was pretty nice to just put it on the table and play it with other people. Most people don’t know it or have played it only once, and explaining the game to a newbie can be quite a chore for us, and quite traumatic for the hobby. The game doesn’t have a learning curve as much as a learning wall, thanks to its unique iconography. Toni’s alien tableau and my builder tableau had to bow to Jan’s development build.

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I got another game of Race early in the morning where Toni faked another slow start only to cash in on this consumption quite well in the end game, while my replicator robots only managed to build crappy low-scoring worlds.

After the RPGGeek meet we were all tired but needed to wind down before going to sleep. So we played a quick game of Roll through the ages. A game that’s a bit too boring for real gamers, but good for that time of night. Ville had a great run, finished everyone’s buildings before they could, and improved his previous score by about 25 points.

On the way of our tourist trip to Monschau Ville, Toni and me played Ticket to Ride twice in the car. Definitely one of the nicest app boardgames to play with a friend. Strangely enough, our two games were very similar, with me up in the north with a nicely scoring route while the guys were in the south getting in each other’s way. The first time I managed to bring it home and crush them, but the second time I didn’t keep an eye on my trains and ran out of them before I could finish my route. D’oh!

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Games @ Wim & Nina

Wim and Nina invited us to their own Pie & Games day. Yay! Two great things in one day. Along with some familiar and unfamiliar faces we squeezed in a lot of games.

Mascarade. Bought on a Shut Up & Sit Down recommendation, this game has never delivered on its promise of fun and mayhem. Sure, there’s some laughs and a few funny situations but it never erupts into joyful chaos. In this case, the game morphed into a strange dynamic. The people with a lot of money played it straight and tried to win. Meanwhile the people with little money switched people’s cards and provided confusion. If they wouldn’t, one of the rich dudes would win. So the poor people had to feed the chaos mechanism for the game instead of trying to get more money. I don’t know, this just feels like a wasted game to me.

The Resistance. We followed up with my least favorite game mechanic after turn skipping: hidden traitor! Fortunately I was was a good guy, the game was funny, and the attempts at deduction weren’t overly long. It’s a good game and people love it, but it’s just not for me. If I’m the traitor I get nervous and don’t enjoy the game. If I’m not, I’m just a bit bored and don’t enjoy the game.

Guess which of these guys is a traitor?

One of these people is a traitor, can you guess who? # the resistance

A post shared by Julia Nienaber (@julia.nienaber) on

It’s all good, though, because after that I got to play Factory Fun, while the other group played with our copy of Thunderstone. Factory Fun looked a lot like Roborally, so I was expecting to suck beyond all human hope and recognition, but apparently this game flexes a different type of muscles. Taking one piece and puzzling on how to incorporate it into your factory in a useful way was a fun cerebral exercise. The game part of it was very limited but the kinetic, aesthetic and puzzly fun certainly made up for that. I’d buy it right away, but it seems to be out of print. That’s a shame!

People seemed to gear up for a more serious game after that, but we had to zoom on to Brussels to play a roleplay game with Elina. We only just had time for some sweet cheesecake on the way out. Gotta get that pie in somewhere.

 

 

Pie and Games

Jan was out of town and I would be bored, so it seemed like a good time to resurrect Pie & Games Night, previously immortalized by the wonderful Jan Doise. Bolstered by my recent RPG community efforts, I had invited widely and not limited to people I actually know. We ended up with a nice mix of weirdos and far too much pie and cake!

2014-08-30 20.11.08I played Concordia, a strategic pool building game themed around ancient Italy. It has a nice early and mid-game but the end game really bogged down. This may have been because two of the three players were new to the game, and strategic pool builders are hard to pick up straight away, so our game may have turned out unbalanced. It was interesting enough that I would play it again, though. Card drafting and pool building are mechanics I enjoy a lot. Though I think other games do both of those things in more interesting  ways. Meanwhile the other group played Factory Fun, which looked interesting and King of Tokyo – a first for Eiko who got very excited about it.

After this first round, we teamed up to play Roborally together. Roborally always makes me happy and this was no exception. I know many people find it utter torture to play but for me it’s mostly a fun, more thinky Dungeon Quest. Plus, pushing your boyfriend into a pit is always hilarious. We cut the game short after the first person had reached the second flag (this took a good hour, I’m sure) and a few people had to leave.

We rounded off with a game of Cards against Humanity. I’m pretty bored with the game by now, we’ve simply played it too much. But it remains a nice relaxing finisher and a good way to lower your inhibitions and get to know people. That sounds dodgier than I meant it! I just meant that it doesn’t feel like you have to watch what you say very much after you spend half an hour looking for cards that would make good porn names for Bobby _____ Mc Gee.

The next day we played some Love Letter with Ernesto to wind down. With only three players we struck out hard and fast.

Nice weekend!

 

 

Games night

Sweet gamesnight at Peter & Jen’s. After a great dinner, we played Istanbul in the garden. Jen insisted we each play our rounds talking in a different foreign accent, and my Irish quickly turned to Indian. We hadn’t played Istanbul before. It seemed like a quick and light euro with a fair bit of replayability. I didn’t grok it right away and came in dead last, while Jan Jen won handily. I wouldn’t buy it, but I’d be happy to play it again.

When it got a bit colder, we played Takenoko. I’d heard a lot about the game where you grow bamboo and feed a panda. It was fun that the frustration of the gardener having to deal with this monstrous panda appetite translated to an in-game experience as well. You have goals to grow a certain amount of bamboo, and inevitably someone moves the panda around to eat your beautiful plant before you can finish it. This euro was even cuter, and would make a wonderful entry game.

We finished off with a game of Innovation – no big twists or turns there. Peter did well and won. After that, we just watched weird YouTube videos for a while. Epic Rap Battles of History, Rob Ross, and this lady

Pre-NY games, part II & NY games

We played some more Taboo and Aquarius in a bar where it was a bit too noisy to talk. Good times once again!

In the evening we played several games of Escape: The curse of the Temple. I got to try out the curses and the treasures. We added them all in the first time, and firmly got our asses trounced. So we replaced half with normal tiles again and won very easily. Yay! What a fun game. Some people claim it makes them tired, but it gives me energy!

On the afternoon before New Year’s Eve, we played two games of Space Alert. Friends of ours play an entire campaign of Space Alert, and I figured we could never catch up in that group anymore, so it was nice to try it again with noobs. I liked it a lot better than last time, but others were in the confused/feeling useless position I was in last time. Our first attempt at the real scenario had everyone involved, and went quite well, in any case!

We played Formula D on New Years. Yeah, roll and move! It was rather fun, though! We only raced one lap, but some cars were already completely broken by that time. 

We were with seven, a little too many for good all-group gaming, so we split up into two groups. I played Gloom and Thunderstone while the others played Super Mario with four. We played both Gloom and Thunderstone in story-telling mode. Gloom is, of course, easily storyfied, but Thunderstone is a bit more of a challenge. I think two adventurers got married, others had a gay sex dungeon, and mine was a superhero movie with lots of flashback and a serial killer trainer lady who kept killing poor militia.

Then newyears happened and we watched World’s End instead of playing games, and it was fabulous.