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Topics - dirk2112

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We have played the Circus (AKA Under the Big Top) before and my wife loves it.  The fruit trees expansion works in a similar manner.  There are little disks that contain hidden points and everything works by surrounding the tile.  The similarity made the fruit tree expansion easy to teach.   

Review of the Fruit tree:
We really enjoyed the fruit tree expansion.  The points are nice, the game play is fun, and the rules aren't too complex.  I think I would prefer if the selling action was done in a different way (maybe a market tile, when a city with a flag is completed, or something).  The really big down side of the expansion is how dumb it looks.  I know the people of Carcassonne are known for poor urban planning, but building roads right into trees is just silly.  The 2 tiles that do not have roads, on the other hand, look great. 

Playing the Fruit tree with the Circus:
While they were easy to play together because of similar rules, the expansions do not work as well together as I would have thought.  The circus tiles and ringmaster meeple score a lot more points than the fruit trees can provide.  My wife scored over 340 points with just these 2 expansions and I believe fruit trees provided her with at most 40 of those points.  I lost badly, but I did score at least 30 fruit tree points.   The Circus is very over powered and it probably becomes less so when you play with other expansions.  We had a few clusters of 3 acrobat/circus tiles in a row.  Closing nearby cities or a small road with the ringmaster gave us 6 bonus points (more than the cities or roads were worth).  It also helped to have some acrobats near the circuses to grab extra points when it moves.   

I believe in a game with a lot of little expansions the fruit trees would be a big winner.  You can't easily score 30 or more points with the windroses, the ferries, goldmines, etc. 

I wonder if future new art expansions will continue to have the point creep of the Circus and Fruit Tree expansions. 

Other Games / Pandemic Season 1 vs Season 2 (spoiler free)
« on: March 22, 2018, 06:32:05 AM »
We finally finished Pandemic Season 2.  Now that the dust has settled, I feel as though I am ready to compare both games without spoiling anything.  If you do not like base Pandemic, neither of these games are for you.  Go to another thread.  Seriously why are you still reading this?

Which game is the better game?
By far Pandemic Season 1 is the better board game.  That is mainly because it plays exactly like base Pandemic with a small expansion added sporadically over 12 months.  Pandemic Season 2 is a lot different than base Pandemic and quite frankly not as good.  If they made a base game version using the Pandemic Season 2 game-play, I would have no interest in buying it. 

Which game is the better experience?
By far Pandemic Season 2 is the better experience.  After reading the above, you may be confused, but stay with me here.  The story and the Legacy aspect of Season 2 blow season 1 out of the water.  There is more variety at what you can do and discover.  Season 1 has a big mystery, whereas Season 2 has a bunch of smaller mysteries.  Instead of finding everything out at the end, Season 2 lets you solve bits and pieces throughout. 

Would I play either game again?
If a group of people wanted me to join them for 12 months of Season 1,  I would be in.  I would not play Season 2 again.  Even though I know  what is going to happen, I could enjoy season 1 again.  I can't enjoy season 2 because I know exactly what will happen.  I hope that makes sense.

I think at 4 players S1 is easier than S2.  At 2 or 3 players, the opposite may be true.  It also depends on how you play.  Rahdo and his wife played exclusively with 2 characters and powered them up.  They made the game very easy and lucked out that neither of their characters died.  We played very conservatively, spread the character use around, and had a much harder task. 

We lost 3 games in both Season 1 and Season 2.  We scored much better in Season 2 though.  I feel the scoring in Season 2 is more fair.

Biggest Improvement
Searching is done a lot better in Season 2.  In Season 1, it is really lame.

Missed Opportunities
After playing Season 2, I feel like a lot of things could be better.  Nothing below is a spoiler unless you count things you can see on the back of the box. 

#1 I think if would have been cool if it took place on another planet.  The problem with Earth is that I know what it looks like.  If you are going to hide part of a map, make it something I am not familiar with.  If you must use Earth, maybe fool the players by making them think they are in Memphis Tennessee, when actually they are in Memphis Egypt. 

#2 I haven't played Charterstone yet, but Charterstone gives you a double sided map.  You can buy a refill pack and play the game again for much cheaper.  It would be cool if in Season 3 the map was double sided so you could play again.  It would be also cooler if the different boxes contained different stickers so that the maps differed.  I am not saying the gameplay has to change, just the appearance of the map.  Perhaps map A would be Venus and map B would be Mars.  They would share the same city names and colors, but different locations. 

#3 Go back to the how cities fared in the first game.  In season 1, you have to really pay attention to certain cities.  For us London was destroyed and was never coming back again.  We had to avoid that city and come up with logistical ways to work around it for every month after it fell.  In season 2 London fell, but it was no big deal because you can bring cities back.   I think this is the worst change they made from Season 1 to Season 2.   

General / Rank the 10 Carcassonne main expansions
« on: February 02, 2018, 05:31:47 AM »
Hopefully everyone has had an opportunity to play with the Circus AKA Under the Big Top AKA Manege Frei.  If you have at least tried all of the main/large expansions, list them in order of most fun (#1) to least fun (#10).  For purposes of this ranking, I am not including Wheel of Fortune since 80% of it is a re-implementation of the base game.   If you are a new art person, you won't have access to the Catapult, so you can rank 1 thru 9. 

  • Hills & Sheep
  • Traders & Builders
  • Princess & Dragon
  • Abbey & Mayor
  • Under the Big Top
  • Inns & Cathedrals
  • Bridges Castles & Bazaars
  • The Tower
  • The Catapult
  • Count, King, and Robber

I apologize in advance if there is a previous rankings thread.  I couldn't find it if there was.  I saw a few asking for top 3 or favorite, but none that ranked them all. 

Other Games / Love Letter & Love Letter Premium (Comparison)
« on: January 02, 2018, 12:22:45 PM »
My son's favorite game is Love Letter.  On New Years Eve, we went to a party and brought a bunch of games.  Unfortunately he suggested we play that one first and that is all anyone wanted to play the entire evening.   ::)

Just in case there is someone on here who has never played this game (How can that be?) I will review the base game and explain what is new in Premium.  For those who love the base game and just want to know if Premium is worthwhile, the answer is YES, BUT...

Love Letter - Standard

The game can be played with 2 to 4 players.  I like to play with at least 3.

Court the Royal Princess of the Tempest!  That is seriously the entire theme.  I thought the "Tempest" referred to William Shakespeare's play in which case I assume you would be courting Miranda, but that isn't it at all.  It is actually a series of games including Patronize, Mercante, Dominare, Courtier, and Canalis that I have never played and aren't ranked very high on BGG.  So ignore the Tempest part and lets get down to some Princess courting. 

Note: If you do not care for the theme, there are alternatives where you can be Batman catching the Joker, Frodo Baggins I guess courting the ring, and a few other things.

Other note: So far no female players have complained about courting a princess.  It is 2018 and she is dreamy  :))

How it works:
The game contains 16 cards.  Players start with 1 card.  During the turn a player must draw a card and play a card.  This is done until only 1 player remains or if there are no more cards the player with the highest value card remaining gets an affection token.  Thematically the player's love letter gets to the Princess and she gives the player a token of affection.  Obviously if you can give the letter to her directly, great, but her BFF the Countess is almost as good.  The game is over when a player accumulates a certain number of tokens based on player count (2 players is 7, 3 players is 5, and 4 players is 4).

The cards:

1.  Guard - 5 in the deck.  When played, the player chooses another player and names a non-Guard card.  If correct, that player is out
2.  Priest - 2 in the deck.  The priest allows the player to look at another player's hand
3.  Baron -  2 in the deck.  When played you compare your card to another player's.  The person with the lower card is out.
4.  Handmaid - 2 in the deck.  When played ignore all the effects from other players.
5.  Prince - 2 in the deck.  Pick a player and that player must discard his/her hand.
6.  King - 1 in the deck.  Trade hands with another player (this is by far the worst card)
7.  Countess - 1 in the deck.  She does nothing, but you must discard her if your other card is a Prince or King
8.  Princess - 1 in the deck.  If you discard her for any reason (see the Prince) you are out of the round. 

How it plays
During set up, you burn a card so that players can't totally count cards.  The game goes fairly quickly and you can teach the game to a child in 10 minutes or less.  I can't put my finger on why it is so engaging.  It is so simple and players don't have many choices, but we play it again and again.  There is a lot of luck and deduction involved.  It is not uncommon to be down 3 to nothing and manage to come back and win.  For whatever reason whenever someone plays the handmaid, he/she begins singing MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This".

Love Letter Premium

Love Letter premium has everything that the base game has PLUS extra new character cards, better tokens, and SLEEVES.  Why sleeves?  We played the base game so much our cards are starting to look horrible.  Supposedly there is going to be an expansion for base Love Letter to add the extra cards from this game, but I don't know when it will happen.  In any event Love Letter Premium can be played with up to 8 players.

New Cards
0.  Assassin - If someone plays a guard against you, that player is out.
0.  Jester - Give another player a yellow token.  If that player wins the round, you get an affection token too.
1.  Guard - 3 extra guard cards.  They are the same as above, but with different art.
2.  Cardinal - 2 in deck - choose 2 players and force them to trade cards (you can choose yourself)
3.  Baroness - 2 in deck - choose 1 or 2 players and look at their hands
4.  Sycophant - 2 in the deck - Choose a player.  The next card must target that player.
5.  Count - 2 in deck - If this card is in your discard pile at the end of the round, add 1 to the number of the card in your hand
6.  Constable - 1 card in deck - If this card is in your discard pile when you are knocked out of the round, gain an affection token.
7.  Dowager Queen - 1 in deck - Choose another player and compare hands.  The player with the higher number is out.
9.  Bishop - 1 in deck - Choose a player and number other than 1.  If that player has a card matching that number, you get an affection token and that player can choose to discard and draw a new card.

How it plays
With numbers greater than 4, it plays great.  However with 4 or fewer players, some modifications have to be done.  The game really doesn't help you with this, but I found a link on BGG that has a great setup.

You also have to adjust the number of affection tokens needed to win.  It is now possible to gain multiple tokens in a turn because of the Bishop, Jester, and Constable.  I also feel the Constable is too overpowered.  A player that pulls that card is almost guaranteed an affection token.   I believe they mainly inserted it to speed up games with higher player counts.  I wouldn't play with it if there are less than 8 players.  Also we always shared a discard pile before.  If you play with the Count or Constable, you have to maintain your own piles. 

You will notice that the Bishop is a 9.  I have no idea as to why exactly, but he still loses to the Princess. 


The Love Letter base game is great, it is portable, and it only costs $10.  There is no reason not to buy it.  Love Letter Premium is still great, is no longer portable, and is $30.  If you are never going to have more than 4 players, do you really need it?  The answer is YES, BUT only if you play the game so much that you want to add additional cards to the deck with a variety of new powers.  The better tokens are nice, but not really worth the extra expense.  The bigger sleeved cards are cool, but difficult for children to shuffle.  We are going to keep both versions of the game with the base game being used when we travel. 

One other thing that I just noticed while typing this up is the Premium version gives you backgrounds on the card characters and their names.  The Princess, for example, is named Annette.  I guess that is nice for people looking for more theme. 

Other Games / Whitehall Mystery - Review
« on: November 21, 2017, 11:07:40 AM »
There are a lot of similar games with the same theme as this one.  The big 2 are Letters from Whitechapel and Scotland Yard.  I have not played either of those, but the similarity with this game is so strong that if you already own one of those, there is no reason to buy this one.   

The game can be played with 2 to 4 players.  I have played it with 3 players only.  I imagine the game is best with 4 players.  With 3, one person is stuck with only 1 detective figure whereas another gets 2 detectives. 

There has been a murder in London.  The murderer is roaming around town and leaving body parts for the police to find.  The murderer is obviously Jack the Ripper, but the game doesn’t say it specifically I suppose to avoid the fact that the crimes actually did occur. 

How it works
One player plays Jack the Ripper and his movement is hidden.  Using a score sheet, he plots the places where he currently is and where he has been (numbers on the map of London).  This area of London is broken up into 4 white areas.  In order to win, Jack must drop off a body part in all 4 areas before being caught.  He must select these 4 locations before the game starts.  When Jack drops a body part, he must announce it and place a red chip at that location.  He has 3 tricks he can use to avoid the police.  He can borrow a boat, rent a coach, or sneak through an alley.   Jack has 15 turns to make it between body part drops.
The other players are detectives hot on his trail.  They each have 1 similar trick that Jack has.  They move along the black squares and not the numbers so that they can do 1 of 2 things:

#1 They can look for clues – where they ask the Jack player if he has been on a certain number.  They can do this for every number that is connected to their square until either Jack acknowledges he was there or they run out of numbers.  If Jack was there, the detective places a yellow chip on the number.  If Jack happens to be currently at that location, he must say that he was there, but does not need to tell them he is there currently.   

#2 They can make an arrest.  The detective can only choose one surrounding number and attempt to arrest Jack.  If Jack is there, the game ends and the detectives win.

How it plays
The only other hidden game I have ever played was battleship and this is much different.  I have played as Jack and as the detectives.  As Jack, it can get really frustrating when a detective is in your way.  The last drop is the worst because all 3 detectives know what area you are heading to.  You have to thread the needle between them to get to your last spot.  As a detective, the frustration works in reverse.  At the start of the game, say Jack committed a murder in the SW quadrant.  Odds are he is heading either to the NW or SE quadrant, but he could go to the NE.  Since there are 3 of you, you can each take a quadrant or risk 2 of you going one way or another.   After the 3rd drop, you have the best chance of catching him.
This is our only hidden movement game and we enjoy it.  I have heard from others that it is more advanced than Scotland Yard, but less so than Letters from Whitechapel.  The boards for all 3 are basically the same, so it really begs the question as to why yet another game is based in the same city with almost the same map and theme?  Couldn’t the murder have taken place in a city that isn’t quite as popular for board games (Kiev maybe)?  Who am I kidding, if it didn’t take place in London, it would be in New York.  The game length is about an hour, but we have had a 15 minute game where Jack didn’t play very well.  I hear that Letters from Whitechapel is 3 times as long and we chose this one as we normally like shorter games.

Like an idiot I put the detectives on the numbers instead of the squares.  Boooo to me.   :(n)

In any case the games started with the drop on 148.  Jack headed North and later made a drop on 45.  The yellow investigator found a few places Jack has been.

Other Games / Kingdomino
« on: June 16, 2017, 11:10:09 AM »
If you already don't have Kingdomino, you need to go out and buy it right now.  For $18 - $20, you more than get your money worth.  This is the perfect 15 minute filler game.  It also is perfect to introduce a newbie to modern euro games.  It has been nominated for the Spiels de Jahres for this year and I would bet it wins.

The game can be played with 2 to 4 players.  I have played it with 2, 3, and 4 players.  I prefer it with 2 and 4.

You play as a king trying to build the greatest 5x5 domino kingdom in the world.  The theme is rather weak, but for a game like this it really doesn't matter. 

How it works
In a 4 player game, everyone gets one meeple.  You put the first 4 tiles face down in order from lowest to highest.  You randomly pull meeple to see who goes first.  You flip the dominoes over and everyone chooses one.  You then put out 4 other tiles face down.  In the next round the turn order goes by who picked the lowest numbered tile.  So if in round 1, I picked domino #37, Decar picked #19, Dan picked #24, and Jungleboy picked #7, Jungleboy would get to pick first in the next round, followed by Decar, then Dan, and I would go last.  The numbers on the back of the tile represent their theoretical value.  Their actual value to you may not be so great, so it isn't in your best interest to always pick the highest numbered tile.

In a 2 player game, both players get 2 meeple.  On the first round one player gets first and last choice of dominos and the other player gets the 2nd and 3rd choice.  In following rounds each meeple gets a turn based on the tile value.  In the example in the picture, the green player took the highest numbered tiles this round.  In the next turn, she will end up with whatever tiles the yellow player doesn't want.  Because of this, I don't take the highest valued 2 tiles unless they really pay off.

After tiles are collected, you lay them in your kingdom.  You can lay any tile next to your castle as it acts as a wildcard.  When the castle is not involved, you must lay a tile in such a way that one side of it matches one of the preexisting tiles.  In the photo yellow is getting a forest/forest tile.  The only valid placements for it are next to his only forest or next to the castle itself.   At the end of the game, it isn't uncommon to get stuck with a tile you cannot use. 

End of Game Scoring
After each player places the last domino, you all score your kingdoms.  Points are scored based on crowns and land type.  You multiply the number of crowns in an area by the number of domino halves it takes up.  In my photo, I have 2 crowns in an area of wheat at the top.  2x4=8 points.  The wheat at the bottom is not connected and cannot count.  The castle also cannot be scored.  Areas without crowns are worthless.

In a 4 player 5x5 grid game, all of the tiles get used.  For a 2 and 3 player game, there are some leftover tiles.  Fortunately the game designer knows how much I hate leaving tiles in the box, so you can play a 2 player game and use all of the tiles making a 7x7 grid.  This is by far my favorite way to play the game.  It still only takes 10 to 15 minutes, so why not? 

Bonus rules

#1 Score 10 additional points if your kingdom is in the middle of your grid.
#2 Score 5 additional points if your grid is complete (you didn't throw away any dominoes)

When playing with these rules, it is really hard to win if your opponent's kingdom is in the center and yours is not.  I will say it is much easier to complete your grid without the kingdom being in the center, so that is why we always play with these rules.

On weekdays we get home from work, get dinner, and don't have much time for really long games.  This is perfect for those nights.  The time to play this, the price point, and the quality make this a great pickup if you like tile placement at all.  The game is rather small too, so you could take it while traveling.  There is a lot of strategy in this little game.  You can acquire tiles you know your opponents needed or force a player to take a tile he or she can't use.  Afterward you get a cute little kingdom with some interesting things added to the art.  I do believe I see the Lochness Monster.

Thanks to Jungleboy for introducing me to this game.  He would have written this review, but he is playing real life Tokaido (but in Spain  :(y) )

Other Games / Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« on: June 13, 2017, 07:00:43 AM »
Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King is a really long and horrible name for a board game.  That is the only problem I have with this game, so I figured I'd get it out of the way first.  Everyone simply calls the game "Isle of Skye". 

The game can be played with 2 to 5 players.  I have played it with 2, 3, and 4 players.  I hear 5 is awful, but I have never tried it.  Most reviewers say 3 to 4 is the sweet spot, but I prefer 2 to 3 for reasons I will get to later. 

You play as the head of a Scottish clan attempting to create the best territory in order to become King.  The theme itself is kind of weak because your clan territory will never butt up against another clan's territory.  To me it makes more sense to be on separate islands and competing to see who gets the most tourism dollars.  The art on the tiles is absolutely beautiful.  I would argue it is the best looking tile laying game out there. 

How it works

A round is played in 6 steps.  There are 6 rounds in a game (5 in a 5 player game).
1.  Everyone gets their money ($5 per round plus however many barrels are on roads leading to your castle)
2.  Everyone picks 3 tiles out of the bag and decides to set prices (see more below)
3.  Everyone discards the axed tile
4.  Everyone can buy tiles from other players and buy their own tiles.  (see more below)
5.  Everyone builds with Carcassonne rules (except roads can end anywhere).
6.  Score the round

Step 2 and 4  (the meat of the game)
In Carcassonne you can lose a game by being unlucky drawing tiles.  This game removes the luck aspect by the setting of prices.   When you get your 3 tiles, you have to decide which one to get rid of and how much the others are worth.  The other players can see your tiles, but your prices and which tile you plan to axe is hidden behind your player screen.  If you know your opponent has more money than you and absolutely needs one of your tiles, you can overprice it or axe it.  The game is won or lost during this phase, which is the main reason some Carcassonne players do not like this game.  Tile laying is secondary to tile procurement. 

During step 4 every player should have 2 tiles in front of them.  Each player can choose to buy another player's tile.  In phase 2 if you put all of your money down on your tiles, you won't be able to buy anyone else's tile.  This can be a fatal mistake.  Hint #1  Don't fall in love with your own tiles.  It is almost always worthwhile to buy someone else's tile.  In a 2 player game, the worst case scenario is you end step 4 with only 1 tile.  With 3 or more players, you can end step 4 with no tiles.  I don't think I have ever seen someone win who didn't walk away with at least 1 tile per round.  After players buy from other players, they must pay the prices they put on the rest of their tiles. 

Example below (picture 1).  My clan territory is the 8 tiles on the top.  I pulled the 3 tiles sitting in front of my screen.  I decided to Axe the tile with the broch (stone silo looking thing).  I valued the tile with the lighthouse scroll at $7 and the one with the mountain and barrels at $2.  During the buying round, my wife decides to buy my barrel tile for $2.  I take my $2 back and she gives me $2.  If I don't buy any of her tiles, I pay the $7 on the lighthouse tile and keep it for myself. 

End of Round Scoring
So we have laid our tiles down and we are going to score for the round.  On the scoreboard you will see 4 different scoring tiles labeled A thru D.  These are randomly drawn, so each game will feel and play different.  This is probably the best thing about this game and I can't say enough good things about it.  In my example below (photo 2) the tiles are A) 3 points for each water area with 1 ship and 1 lighthouse.  B) 1 point for each tile that connects to the castle by road  C) 3 points for each completed area (mountain, water, field) of 3 tiles or more.  D) 1 point for every sheep or cow that is on or adjacent to a farm tile.   

In round 1 you only score for A.  In round 2, you score for B.  In round 3, you score for A and C plus the players receive 1 extra gold for each player ahead of them.....In round 6 you score for B,C,and D and players receive 4 gold for every player ahead of them :o.  Hint #2 - always pay attention to what is going to be scored in the current round.

End of Game Scoring
After you score the last round, you score the points on any scrolls in your territory.  In the first photo I already have 3 scrolls.  I would score 1 point for every lighthouse and farm in my territory.  The scroll with arrows means I would score 2 points for every lighthouse that is orthogonally adjacent to that tile.  If a scroll is in a completed area YOU GET DOUBLE POINTS.  Also you get a point for every $5 you end the game with. 

I really enjoy this as a 2 and 3 player game.  I feel that it is very fair and fast paced.  In games with more players, the buying process can take longer and it is rather easy to team up and take the leading player down.  With the bonus money given to players to help them catch up, it is quite common for the leading player to be priced out of everything in the last round.  While this keeps the game close, it does stink to end a round without a tile.  In a 3 player game, I haven't seen this problem as much.  Unless you play very poorly while leading, it is unlikely you will walk away without at least 1 tile in any given round. 

In my wife's opinion, this is the best tile laying game out there.  She loves the tile procurement process and she prefers having her own little area as opposed to competing over a shared area.  I prefer Carcassonne because I enjoy everyone placing tiles in the same area.  This is my second favorite tile laying game though.  I recommend it to anyone who likes the price setting mechanic.  This mechanic is not for everyone.  People who can only concentrate on what they are doing and tend to ignore other players will fail miserably at this game.  You must focus on what each opponent is building, which round it is, and which tiles are available. 

There is already a thread here with some more discussion

As of this moment there are 6 expansions for this game.

1.  Adjacency Scrolls - one is pictured in the first photo.  You get 6 tiles with scrolls that give points for adjacent tiles.
2.  Themenplättchen - 6 tiles that highlight other board games (Agricola, Caverna, etc). This is available on BGG right now and I can't recommend it enough.  They are double sided which makes them very unique.
3.  2015 Brettspiel Advent Calendar promo - 2 extra scoring tiles.  This expansion is rare and costly  :(
4.  Kennerspiel des Jahres Promo tile - a single tile featuring 2 barrels and a cow
5.  Tunnels - 6 tiles that sort of act like the tunnel expansion for Carcassonne. 
6.  The Journeyman - the first full sized expansion for the game.  Available in Europe now and soon in the US. 

Other Games / Golden Age or Board Game Bubble?
« on: April 28, 2017, 04:03:26 AM »
Not too long ago, I was lucky to find one board game per year that caught my attention and made me open my wallet.  It seems like Kickstarter and various demonstrations at local game stores have upped that to almost one game per month.  I am running out of shelf space.   As someone who is interested in economics and this hobby, I wonder what the future 2 or 3 years will hold.   

I have inadvertently caused a few people to start their own board game collections.  As more people join the hobby, a greater variety of games will hit the shelves.  Maybe the popularity and variety of games will continue to increase.

When I was young, I remember seeing Atari cartridges in dollar bins and no one was interested in them at all.  It wasn't until a couple of years after the NES came out that video games became popular again.  One could argue that what happened with video games in the early 1980s is happening to board games now.  More and more publishers and developers are springing up and it could be argued that the market is being oversaturated.

What do you think?

General / Old and New Compared
« on: April 18, 2017, 04:16:25 AM »
So did they fix the one tile that was missing the watermark?   ::)

I was thinking of starting a thread with the differences in the old vs new versions, but after reading through I don't believe the thread would be very interesting.  So far we have optional farmers, new wagon rules, and no catapults.  If they added a dog or made the Hills more exciting in this expansion, that would have been something.  I'm not sure this change in artwork did much aside from increasing the value of the old art. 

Other Games / Mint Works
« on: March 28, 2017, 04:27:26 AM »
We don't travel much, but when we do, we like to take little games with us.  Usually card games (Sushi Go) are about all that fit in a pocket.  When I saw the kickstarter for Pack O Game and Mint Works, they were instant buys.  Here is my tiny review of a tiny game called Mint Works.

  • They look like Mints!  Make sure nobody eats them.  They are wood and not plastic so they feel nice.
  • The cards looks and feel nice.  There is a decent variety of plan cards.  There are 4 optional extra locations and you can use 2 during any game.
  • The tin looks like a real Altoids tin! 
  • The instruction manual doesn't fit in the tin, so you have to cut the corners.  No big deal, but the one downside to this product.
  • I was missing 2 mints, so I emailed the company.  I hope they send me replacements.

  • Easy to understand.  There are 2 phases, placement and upkeep.
  • Whoever gets 7 stars first wins.  In the case of the tie, the tied person with the fewest buildings wins

Player Interactivity:
  • Being first player is really an advantage.  It is always worth it to spend a mint to become the first player
  • When Supplier or Building slots fill up, there will be someone at the table groaning. 
  • Sometimes it is worthwhile to build a building that doesn't help you as much as it prevents an opponent from scoring big
Overall Impressions:
  • This game is a lot of fun and well worth the price.
  • The game only takes about 10 minutes to play after learning the rules, so you can order dinner at a restaurant and play before your food comes out.
  • It is a really cute game and a good introduction to worker placement for those who have never tried that mechanic.
  • There seems to be 3 strategies to winning this game.   A) Creating a money/mint creation engine.  B) Creating a Star creation engine (some buildings increase the stars they provide as time goes on or other buildings are made.  C) Blocking others while minimally helping yourself

Our first 2 games:
Game #1 my son built a museum early which gives you one additional star per turn.  He frequently went for the first player token and was able to build 2 more buildings over 3 turns to give himself the win.  Final score son 7, me 6, wife 3. 

Game #2 I went for buildings that generated money.  By turn 3, I could buy and build anything I wanted.  The temp agency kept them from blocking me, so I won fairly quickly.  Final score me 7, son 4, wife 4. 

Other Games / Unpub 7
« on: March 18, 2017, 06:11:22 PM »
My family and I spent the entire day at Unpub 7.  We played 8 or so games.  We played so much, we lost track.  One guy made a tile placement game where he glued his designs over Carcassonne tiles.  How can you do that to Carcassonne man?   :-\    Another designer had a pie themed card game in which you received a free pie for play testing it.  What a great idea!  My son found an interesting logic loophole in that game that my wife, I, and the creator didn't spot.  He was extremely happy with my son's feedback.   Robert Couch (who created Saloon Tycoon) had an interesting octopus game that my son absolutely outscored everyone.   

Whenever you review a game at Unpub, you get entered to win a prize.  Both my son and wife won free games!  Afterward we went home and my son started working on his own board game.   

In any case, I wanted to mention the best 2 games we played tonight.  Both are allegedly headed to Kickstarter in 2017. 

Sailing Toward Osiris
This was a great little worker placement game that has really great wooden tokens and board art.  The game is played over 4 seasons and you have to build monuments (sphinxes, obelisks, one other one that escapes me) to score points.  To me it was a combination of Stone Age and Imhotep. My wife said the four season river movement reminded her of Carcassonne Amazonas, but I didn't quite see it that way.  We will most likely acquire this one when it comes available.   

Rocket Squad
This was a kids card game where you score points by building rockets out of cardboard boxes.  The theme is really top notch.  The little boxes even have the little "fragile" and "this end up" labels on them.   The game has a lot of little take that moments which does turn some people off, but we like it.   We liked this game, but we suggested some things to make us really like it.  Without the changes or some others, I don't know about the replay value.   Depending on what changes between now and Production and the cost, we may pick this up too. 

General / Publisher Completionism?
« on: February 09, 2017, 10:41:42 AM »
Because I started late with this, my collection is a mix of tiles from various Publishers.  I don't think anyone would really choose to collect expansions from various publishers, but then again you never know.  I am impressed at how my Rio Grande stuff matches my Z-Man stuff which matches my Giochi Uniti stuff.  The really bizarre field color differences that I have are all from HIG for whatever reason.   ???

According to Wikipedia, the following companies publish Carcassonne:

Hans im Glück (Germany)
Z-Man Games (UK, US)
999 Games (Netherlands)
Фантасмагория (Bulgaria) (Finland)
Κάισσα (Greece)
Brain Games (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
メビウスゲームズ (Japan)
Giochi Uniti (Italy)
Devir (Spain, Portugal)
Grow (Brazil)
MINDOK (Czech Republic, Poland)
Rio Grande Games (Sweden)
Hobby World (Russia)

Others missing from Wikipedia:
Filosofia (french)
NeoTroy Games (Turkey)

I'm not sure who made the Spielbox or GQ stuff.  I have those if they count.  Otherwise I have stuff from 4 Publishers.  Who has me beat?  I am sure a lot of you do, but I would be really surprised if someone had something from every Publisher.

Also Hobby World puts a "K" on the back of the tiles.  Am I correct in assuming the Bulgarian company does as well?  Are there any other backs I am not aware of?

General / Favouritism Poll #8 : Large Expansion Box Art (Old Art)
« on: February 09, 2017, 08:01:33 AM »
We haven't done a favoritism poll in quite a long time.  A few weeks ago Gin_Carcassonne posted one for the new art.  I couldn't seem to find one for the old art, so here we go.  Unfortunately the old art is gone, so this is the complete list of the large expansions.  The minis do not count for this poll, but I left other as an option in case someone has "Science and Magic" or some other large expansion that is region specific.   

The base game art poll can be found here if interested.

We finally opened up the Bridges, Castles, and Bazaars expansion.  We played it along with Hills and Sheep, GQ11, and the base game.  This was the closest game we have had.  Without farmers, my son won by 25 points (he refuses to farm still).  My wife won the biggest farm with 8 cities and 3 castles for an awesome 33 points (notice the green meeple on the photo)!  I had a bunch of little farms that added up to me squeaking out a win. 

My son and wife LOVE LOVE LOVE Hills and Sheep.  They are the luckiest shepherds on the planet and rarely draw a wolf.  I am a terrible shepherd, but I enjoy the expansion as well.  We didn't keep track, but I imagine my son scored over 30 points with sheep and my wife probably hit 20.  My son and I shared several of the big cities, but for whatever reason the hills didn't play much of a part.  The vineyards play a big part in monasteries.  The castles inadvertently benefited from the vineyard too.  The vineyard CCCF tiles are really good for city battling/sharing and make this expansion really shine. I like the elephant shaped city at the bottom.

Alright, enough about why we love Expansion #9.  On to the new (for us)...

This was the component that I was looking forward to the most.  The wooden pieces look nice and it is fun to put a meeple on top of the bridge.  If you look at the board, you can see only one bridge was played the entire game.  Every time a piece came up where a bridge could have been used, there was something more valuable to do with the tile.  Maybe this requires Inns and Cathedrals to be worthwhile.  We will give it a few more games before jumping to conclusions, but so far this was a big let down   :( 

Castles  :(y) :(y) :(y)
These totally changed the game for us.  My wife and I were very good at putting castles next to big features and scoring major points on them.  On one particularly cool moment, a CFFF piece closed my wife's cloister with a vineyard for 12 points.  I had a nearby castle, so I got the 12 points as well.  My castle was in range of my wife's castle, so by way of a chain reaction, she scored another 12 points.  We had a similar happening near one of the bigger cities.  The added values to the farmers was nice.  It didn't really alter the final scoring enough, but for whatever reason it made the battles for the farms more cutthroat than usual.  All three of us enjoyed this expansion and I can see it being used a lot in future games. 

Bizarre? Bazaars? Brassieres?  :(n)
My son and I really didn't like this expansion.   We had to really keep track of who actually pulled the bazaar tile because the bidding and tile placements can be time consuming and distracting.  The most anyone bid on a tile was 6 points as it was the perfect tile for my son to close off 2 features.  I believe the most I bid was 2 points for a CFCF tile that I really needed.  My wife, for whatever reason, really liked the bazaar.  Even though she didn't use it as well as we did, she saw the value in being able to pick and choose your pieces.  It reminded her of Isle of Skye, which is another game we like.  Yes we realize this predates Isle of Skye.  I did really like the Bazaar tiles themselves.  They do a good job creating additional scenery and I think our final board is one of the best looking we have ever built.  I think we will play with them again, but maybe with a house rule or maybe I will use the rules of a fan expansion.  I am not sure yet. 

Other Games / Imhotep
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:50:45 AM »
When Imhotep was announced as a 2016 Spiel des Jahres Nominee, we were surprised because we had never heard of it.  My wife played it for a bit in a store and purchased a copy. 

The game only supports up to 4 players.  We have only played with 3, so I can't tell you how it plays with 2 or 4.  The first player starts out with 2 cubes, second starts out with 3, third starts with 4, but I didn't feel there was an advantage or disadvantage to being first.

Imhotep is considered to be one of the world's first architects.  In the game your job is to compete with other players to become the best ancient Egyptian builder.   

How it works
During a turn, you can take 3 blocks from the quarry and move them to your shed, place one block on a ship, play a card, or sail one of the ships.  The boats sort of work like trucks in Zooloretto.  The big difference is you are transporting your opponent's bricks as well as your own.  Also there are 5 destinations, but only 4 boats per round.   When a boat goes to a destination, the blocks are unloaded first in first out FIFO, which makes a HUGE difference in this game.  You want to be first in the market, but you may not want to be first to the other destinations.  After all of the boats sail, the round ends.  Each round has different starting boats. 

1. The market - Players can choose which cards they want based on the order of blocks (FIFO)
2.  Pyramid - Your blocks are placed in a pyramid (3x3 then 2x2 then 1) and you are given points based on where you block is located.  The block at the top and in the middle of the 3x3 grid are 4 points for example.
3.  Temple - Basically you are building a wall.  Points are scored for whoever's bricks are currently on top of the wall. 
4.  Burial Chamber - Here you want to connect as many of your bricks together as possible to maximize your score.
5.  Obelisks - Points are given out in order of obelisk height (single stacked)


My son had no trouble learning or playing this game.

End game
The end game is triggered by the end of the 6th round.  The obelisk and burial chambers are scored and the special "decoration" and "statue" cards are scored. 

Our First Game

My wife maximized the Burial Chamber, my son went after statue cards, and I did a little bit of everything.  As I noticed what my wife was doing with the burial chamber, I had trouble stopping her as I had to get more bricks and she was using the little boats whereas my son and I were more interested in the bigger boats.  Her strategy payed off and she won by exactly 1 point.  My son (as seen in the photo) was extremely happy that he collected 6 statue cards which gave him 15 points and tied him with me in second place. 

I don't really have a conclusion.  We have played twice, but I still don't know how I feel.  The cards can be flipped over, so you can play the game in multiple different configurations which is nice. I do enjoy playing this game but for some reason it doesn't create the same amount of joy and jokes as Zooloretto.  Our last game of Zooloretto, I won, but my zoo was full of Zebras, camels, and apple carts.  Who would want to go to that zoo?  Nobody.  My son didn't have full pens, but had a variety of animals and vending stalls.  We all agreed that we would rather go to his last place zoo then my first place zebra/camel farm.  In this game, we built a pyramid and some obelisks.  That was ok I guess.  The burial chamber was the most interesting place IMHO.  I dunno I guess I like seeing the finished board in Carcassonne or the finished zoos in Zooloretto to feel like something was accomplished.  Imhotep did that more than Machi Koro or 7 Wonders, but I don't particularly like those games for that reason (lack of feeling accomplishment).  I will have to give it a few more goes I suppose.  Anyone else have any thoughts?   

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