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Your Last Played Game

Excellent game that I refuse to buy because of the clip-art-tastic design choices. The New Games Order version is excellent but the rider numbers are on the wheels so hard to see in a close pack. I have a PnP copy I made with block wargame blocks for riders.

I played the first scenario of the Arkham Horror card game twice last night. The first time I had so much investigative help that I was able to easily gather all the clues I needed to progress. Conversely, I had almost no combat ability, so when the boss showed up, as well as a ghoul minion I drew, my turns were numbered. One.

Second game started of in the opposite, as I had a lot of combat focused cards, but none for investigating. Roland’s ability to get clues after defeating an enemy really helped here. When the boss came out, I had a bit of dynamite waiting for him. Dealt him a Vicious Blow then blew him up with the dynamite, giving me my first win!

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I still need to get this to the table. I grabbed the core box on Boxing Day, and finally read through the instructions the other week.

Maybe this weekend I’ll have a chance to put together the starter decks together. I want to do at least a partial solo run through before introducing it to my gf.

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Yeah, I was doing solo runs before introducing it to my wife to make sure I knew what I was doing and would be able to explain the game well. It’s pretty easy, really, at least for the first scenario. We’ll see how it goes, eventually.

The first scenario is really good for teaching the game. I did a playthrough beforehand, too. You can play with open hands for a round or two. After that the game should click!

You are not quite sure what it is you are looking at. A man dressed in stained and ragged overalls strokes the nose of a dragon(!?) that has been chained down to a sturdy steel rail-car bed, stocks and manacles resembling traditional locomotive features are, here, inexplicably used as part of a yoke, firmly fixing the creature in place. The man notices you and turns his attention away from the bechained-yet-content dragon and strides over to you.

“She’s a real beaut, iddn’t she?” he asks, gesturing at the train behind him with the dragon-laden ‘locomotive’ at the front. "We just traded out ol’ Smokey to upgrade to this here Iron Dragon and, let me tell you, it was worth every Wizard Buck."

This week at my regular game group marked the first time we gathered after losing one of our members, the siren song of Longmont, CO seducing him from hundreds of miles away. Okay, it was probably Boulder, CO but who can afford to live there? As we gathered this past Tuesday we were noticeably fewer: only two of us of the former three regular members; back down to what we were before that third member moved here from Colorado a little less than 2 years ago.

I’ve posted a couple of times before about how I’ve recently become infatuated with the Empire Builder series of Crayon-Rail games. This week, I had brought down from my shelf Iron Dragon, the 2017 reprint that represents the last of the Mayfair Games editions of the series and, quite possibly, the last ever as Asmodee has not indicated in the slightest an intention to keep that particular brand alive. There were other options available; even my guest had brought some titles he was keen to get to the table. My guest, who is also my neighbor, is, along with his partner, a huge Crayon-Rail fan and, as I was showing him the 2017 reprint of Iron Dragon to contrast it against his own original(?) edition and we had assembled the map and pulled out the cards and the load tokens, I looked at him and asked, “Should we just play this?” We had not yet even discussed any of the other games that either of us had selected and, despite that, he said, “Of course!”

If you aren’t familiar with Crayon-Rail games, you should feel ashamed (I know I do, thinking back to how only recently I discovered them and how rare they’ve become even in the month or so since I first played Nippon Rails). But, to summarize, each player takes a pawn that represents their train (just the one train… that seems about right for a railroad empire…) and a matching dry-erase crayon. And then, taking turns players do two three things:

  1. (Optional) Operate their railroad
    1a. Move his or her train a number of spaces equal to the Movement stat of their train
    1b. Load goods from the city or (if using optional rules) goods left laying about on the board
    1c. Unload goods to complete a Demand card or (if using optional rules) leave something laying on the side of the track
  2. (Mandatory) Complain about how awful his or her options are and how expensive everything is
  3. (Optional) Spend money
    3a. Upgrade locomotive, either by increasing Movement or increase freight Capacity
    3b. Play connect-the-dots on the board, building track and, usually, extending his or her network of connected cities.

Iron Dragon is unique in that it’s the only game in the series that is based on a fantastical world filled with fictional places and things (such as Dragons, Spells, and Potions). I mean, unless you are one of those people who thinks that Martian Rails (the celestial source for Blue Beer and BOTH Red Martians and Green Martians) and Lunar Rails (a strange yet very real location that contains such odd things as Alien Artifacts, Robots, and Scientists) are “fictional” places.

Iron Dragon has a wonderfully large map that includes magically-connected cities, an underground realm that is home to Trolls and maybe Orcs? Or maybe Orcs just run the place. My opponent and I decided on some variants and house-rules before beginning, namely:

  • Bank Loans (nobody needed them)
  • Field Warehousing (which we never utilized)
  • Public Demand: discarded Demand cards get put into a public pool for your opponents to complete
  • Accelerated Start
    • Starting money: $70 (Wizard Bucks)
    • 3 initial build-only turns
    • 5 Demand cards which, after the 3 initial build-turns, we would discard down to 3 which would form the initial Public Demand Market

My opponent (let’s call him B) started with drastically different geographic areas in mind and, as such, didn’t cross paths (literally!) until about half-way through the game. Right at the beginning, I took advantage of the magically linked cities of Wikkedde and Ozu-Zarkh, specializing in Wands and Potions early on. B started his adventures in the Underground and leveraged the Sailing mechanic to reduce his initial out-lay on track. B continued a nautical-heavy strategy throughout the game, whereas I slowly but surely scribed a huge loop across the entire eastern-half of the map and, from there, branched out both to the southwest and also across the northern mountains. With just the two players, it was quite easy to cheaply swap out the Foremen cards (that give you different discounts when building, depending on the Foreman and the environment), and throughout most of the game I had a Dwarf acting as my right-hand man for all of my railroad construction projects. B swapped back and forth, having started as an Orc so as to begin cheaply in the Underground, but afterwards alternating between Catman and Elf (never realizing that the Wee Folk would have made his nautical operations significantly easier).

I’d say the biggest disappointment that I had with the game was the lack of Event cards that came up; we only had one come out of the deck and it affected a part of the world neither of us were in at the time. I think mostly due to a couple of factors, I won by a fair bit; the final score was (me) with 274 to (B’s) 178; firstly, B started in the Underground but never returned to take advantage of that track and second, B relied heavily on sailing to complete his Demands and, as such, had less infrastructure throughout the game. Towards the end of the game, however, B began building towards the Dragon capital Nordkassel and, if he had made it there, likely would have blasted ahead; it’s expensive to build the route but, once you have it, Dragon demands are extremely lucrative.

A thunderous screech pierces the air as the manacled dragon is prodded to action by the conductor. Heavy blasts of warm breath explode from the dragon’s nostrils as it spreads its wings. A single deafening beat of its wings is enough to lurch the train forward from its stand-still; the dragon raises its wings again and with its second flap, the train already threatens to strand the man if he doesn’t hurry. "Oh, well, off to the next stop. If you’re ever in the market for some spells, wands or even cows give us a holler," he says as he scrambles to not be left behind.

I would be fully in agreement of that sentiment if it were Asmodee making games in a purpose built factory with a million dollar budget in 2019, but since it’s John and Mike from Hertfordshire making games using a Windows 3.1 PC and a local print shop in 1991 with a budget of £550, there’s something I find rather charming about it. Possibly because it reminds me of the whole shareware vibe from the PC world at around the same time. Certainly enough for me to want to chuck them £20-ish for their contribution.

There’s a few nice, if slightly odd, anecdotes about the origins of the print version of the game (I believe it started off life as a play-by-post thing) on the Fiendish Games website where they fully admit that graphic design was not their strong suit.

Yesterday I played Rhino Hero: Super Battle, and it was awesome! I ended up losing as I was taunted when I was putting my new floor on the very top of our 8 level skyscraper. After that I couldn’t stop laughing until everything fell over.

Followed that up with Arboretum, and that had a lot more strategy and cut throat mechanics than I thought it was going to have. I won, with no taunting.

Then we played Villainous and we had a lot of fun with that one. Much better than I thought it was going to be, still not amazing, but I was expecting it to be much worse, and only picked it up because my girlfriend loves all the Disney movies enough that she can quote them all by heart.

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I agree but it’s 28 years since that event. Given we’re talking about the game it’s obviously a solid design and it just needs an update with a Windows 10 PC and game crafter

Got in a first play of Broom Service today and it went down well. Definitely one you can’t approach as a serious strategy game - I can see why some would hate it, especially if they’re hoping for something like any other Pfister game.

It reminds me a lot of Celestia. Kind of push-your-luck, but also as much about reading the other players and working out what they want. And it gives you similar opportunities to say silly things :stuck_out_tongue: (“Peak Druid” was a favourite.)

Also got another chance to play Village Pillage (after a couple of plays yesterday) and I’m really liking it. The simultaneous actions means it scales really well. And the variety of cards keeps things interesting - especially working out how they interact with each other.

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I managed to play a 4 player game of Dungeon Mayhem at lunch after teaching it to one friend, before managing to rope two more in to play with us. It was a lot of fun, but as always, I managed to keep my streak of losing horribly (I was the first to be eliminated, though the game was short enough that I didn’t really mind).

Had a two player games afternoon

Brass Birmingham - scales really well (played several times but first time 2 player). It becomes a really focussed game, playing with a quarter of the board until the last few rounds. I went coal/iron heavy, but my friend beat me by going link heavy. Think there were about 15 points in it - we realised in the first phase he had a link worth 7 and in the second phase a link worth 9, so that’s what won him the game.

Quacks of Quedlinberg - Worth the hype. Bag builder without any euro faff. Silly and fun.

Illusion - Loved it. Easy to play in 10 minutes. Kinda genius how they’ve worked out how to create a replayable Timeline, yet so simple you wonder why this wasn’t designed back in the 70s/80s when The Price Is Right was all the rave.

Teotihuacan - Surprise smash hit. The way it plays is nothing like how it looks like it’ll play from the board. Lots of iconography but really intuitive once it’s explained. The design could have integrated it all together a bit better, or at the very least provided a player aid to check you’ve done the relevant steps (the avenue of the dead track during ascension and technology abilities are especially easy to forget). Was really fun at 2 player but can imagine it coming alive at 4. Plays really fast for a heavy euro too. Probably took as long to play as it did to read through the rulebook, set up (what a crazy set up!!) and get the rules down! Reading about the expansion has me excited!

Really surprised we loved all the games so much. Usually there’s one or two that are just ‘okay’, but I’d say they were all great.

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Ran a 5 player game of Container tonight, first game for all but myself. Too long a game for the venue, but still a good time had by all. Next week we’re going back to lighter games and higher player counts.

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I played Teotihuacan yesterday too. It reminds me so much of Tzolkin, not just in the theme (which is obvious) but in:

3 God tracks, with different rewards for climbing them, different VP values at the top, and only one person can reach the top.
Food as a currency which is also required to feed people at various points throughout the game, but which can be sped up by the actions of others.
Food required to place people where there are already people, thus doing stronger actions.
Very strong tech tracks which you need to focus on at the start to become competetive.
Building the pyramid=placing skulls. Right down to the tech which boosts you on the god track if you do well.
Wood. Stone. Gold. Food.
The fact I smoked the competition by over 60 points.
Starter tiles- draw 4 choose 2 to see what you start with.
Those little discs for tracking things.

Anyway, enjoyed it. In the game yesterday three tech tiles came out which rewarded pyramid building. I had the starter tile which gave an early tech (which gave 3 points for more techs), and there was also a tech which gave 1 extra resource when getting resources. So my strategy was obvious (and so should everyone elses have been). I am a little concerned that one look at the tech tiles tells you exactly what you need to do to win, and it whoever optimises that the best. Also that masks are crazy weak.

Want to play again.

I think the game was designed so that pyramid building should be everyone’s focus. The trick is then how well you can complement it with other strategies; avenue of the dead, temple tracks, decorations etc… It should be easier to burn through Discovery tiles, but then the cocoa cost for the main action leaves your cocoa resources very tight that each decision is meaningful and junk turns aren’t optimal.

Did you play 4-player? It’s exceptional with 4.

Yeah 4 players. Getting the techs early is crazy good- everybody has to get them to become competetive, and you get 3 bonus points when people catch you up on them. After I got the techs I just hit stone, wood, pyramid. The other players who built houses on Dead Ave, or locked into workship, stood no chance.

Last night 3 of us played Champions of Midgard with both of the major expansions (I assume there’s a smattering of promo and KS exclusive items out there that I don’t have). I barely have the rules down for the base game, so there was a strong likelihood of tripping over “the learning curb,” as a friend of mine used to say, and sure enough we found that we had screwed up a couple of rules at the end, but not enough to break the game.

Anyway, I think CoM is really fun…just enough worker placement combined with just enough Ameritrash-style theme and combat to make it varied and interesting. I came up with a pretty good strategy of sending my guys on the Land Journeys to fight the Burger Czars (or whatever)–an addition from the “Dark Mountains” expansion–combined with storing up sacrifice tokens to buy the Epic Monster cards (from the “Valhalla” expansion) for big points at the final scoring… Still, it came down to a tie and the only way I won was because I had killed one more monster than my friend.

This is my first worker placement game–unless Concordia counts as one–and so take my opinion for what it’s worth (not much)–I really like the base game, and if I only bought one expansion for it, it would be the Valhalla expansion. There’s something very engaging about picking out your fighters for an upcoming conflict not only for how effective they might be but what they’ll be worth to you when they die…

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PLayed Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails again and I think that I want this game. TTR is nice, but it’s too average for me to get it, but with the added complexity of rails and sails, this is the TTR that I gonna get. We played with the (not so) Great Lakes map this time and it was pretty brutal 5 player game. It was hilarious and frustrating. That Chicago harbour that I built which is the centre point for 4 of my tickets gave me 30 pts and won me the game.

I’ve seen Alhambra in Wil Wheaton’s show, but I have never played it until now. There’s something really satisfying with this game, despite the high randomness on a 5 player game. Me and a friend reminds us of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, which is probably why we love this one.

Ethnos - randomly picked races, but end up with the usual ones. I swear this game needs an expansion with more races. I just learn the existence of the Fairies promo cards, why are they just promos. CMON, c’mon!

Gunkimono - pretty brutal 5 player game. Early fortress is crucial, kids.

This game needs a retheme and and a stellar production overhaul. This game could be so much more than Wizards, Elves and Trolls. I’ve seen somebody on BGG retheme it with dinosaurs which doesn’t really do much more for me than the flimsy thin-yet-specific fantasy theme it has. I’m contemplating trying to retheme it myself as a international corporation economic simulation.

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I like fantasy settings which made me choose Battlelore over Memoir 44, but yes, it’s really difficult pitch to show this to new people.

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