GNOIF: GNOIF Is Working For A Living

-A.J.

GNOIF #28 recap — GNOIF:  GNOIF Is Working For A Living (Industry/ Worker Placement themes)

Games That Got Played:  Biotix, Circus Flohcati, Terraforming Mars.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  We really only offered the three games. Everyone was looking forward to Terraforming Mars, so that’s what we played.

The small crowd  had fun late late late into the night. I think I wound up making finger sandwiches for the group sometime around 11pm.

In Terraforming Mars you play as a corporation that is working to make the conditions on Mars habitable for humans. Players receive cards each turn that represent actions, events, or building projects. You can do almost anything from bombarding Mars with asteroids, to building domed or underground cities, to encouraging forests or microbes or predators or pets. It seems even on Mars, people like their pets.

I like it for a lot of reasons — It scales well to different numbers of players. There are interesting decisions to make but not so many that the game bogs down. The artwork is good. The cards carry through on the theme extremely well. It’s a very highly regarded game on BoardGameGeek, and it’s easy to see why.

Thanks to everyone who played!

Recommended Game: Darkrock Ventures

-A.J.

Title:  Darkrock Ventures

Darkrock Ventures

Game Type:  Worker placement. Think Agricola, except that the theme is mining in outer space instead of farming in the Dark Ages.

Number of Players:   1-5. I’m guessing it’s best with 4.

Complexity of Rules:  Low-Medium. The rulebook is awful. Much more on that in a moment.

Time to Play:   The box says 30-45 minutes. We’re usually running over an hour, even with only two players.

The Concept:  Each player represents outer space mining interests. The object is to make the most Credits by the end of the game, since Credits double as Victory Points. Each turn a couple of dice are rolled. Players then take turns placing workers either on mines, or on bases that offer other advantages, such as bonus dice, dice manipulation, more crew, or increased space in your cargo hold. More dice are rolled, and the player(s) that can manipulate the dice to make favorable outcomes receive resources. The resources can then be “exported” for Credits. We haven’t played with the optional “Hostile Alien” cards yet, though I’m of the suspicion that they’ll mostly just increase the “luck factor” and drive me nuts.

Photo from the BoardGameGeek site.
Photo from the BoardGameGeek site.

Why I Like It: It has an outer space theme, and I’m a sucker for those. It involves risk management/estimation too, which is another plus. Once the rules are understood the game moves fairly briskly, and with low downtime.

Having said that:  The rule book is among the worst I’ve ever seen, period. We learned a lot more about how to play from just from watching a guy do a walkthrough online. The rules feature minimal pictures and illustrations, and the graphics are poorly thought out and not very informative. Many passages are poorly or ambiguously worded. And no, I’m not being too harsh. I get the impression that the developers taught the play testers how to play and didn’t force the players to learn by using the rule book.

Other issues:

  • Worker placement covers up information on the board.
  • The “Captain” meeples are very similar in size to the “Crew” meeples — we’re going to add stripes to the Captain meeples so that they’re easier to tell apart from the crew.
  • If the player cards were larger the game would feel less fiddly.

I know that’s more than a few negatives, but it’s an enjoyable game with a fun theme, and it was a holiday gift so the price was right. It does feel like the game was rushed to market though.

Recommended.

BoardGameGeek page here.

Recommended Game — STOP THIEF!

-A.J.

Title:  STOP THIEF!

170206 Stop Thief

Game Type:  Deduction/reasoning.

Number of Players:   2-4

Complexity of Rules:  Low

Time to Play:   30 minutes. Usually less

The Concept:   [From the inside of the box:]

ELECTRONIC COPS AND ROBBERS. Featuring the ELECTRONIC CRIME SCANNER.

A crime is being committed…but where?

In the jewelry store? The bank? Where will the thief strike next? You and your opponents are licensed private detectives. The thief you’re after is computer controlled and completely invisible. But you can hear him! With your ELECTRONIC CRIME SCANNER you can eavesdrop on the thief whenever he moves on the board. You can hear him in the act of committing a crime. You hear him, too, as he opens a door, crosses a floor, breaks a window, runs on the street and escapes on the subway. Each sound you hear is a clue that will help you track him down. You’ll need all your skills of deduction and logic to follow the thief and corner him. Then you can call the police. With luck, the police will arrest the thief and cart him off to jail. Sometimes, though, he escapes from them. At other times, he’s just not where you think he is! If you can catch this thief, you’ll earn a large reward. If he gives you the slip, he’ll rob again…and again…and again…

Why I Like It:  First of all — Wayback Machine! Our copy still has the original 1980 price sticker from the department store attached.

170206 Stop Thief2

There are numbered squares on the game board. When it’s your turn you press the “C” (Clue) button on the controller and the Thief moves from square to square. Each movement is represented by a distinctive noise, such as a window breaking or a door opening. By process of elimination you attempt to figure out the Thief’s current location and send the cops to arrest him. We’ve always played it without the Sleuth Cards since they make the game too easy. (“Tips” given by the cards tell you exactly where the Thief is, and what’s the fun in that?) Without the Sleuth Cards it can really be a challenge to find the Thief.

I loved this game at the time and I still love it. It’s also nice that we really took care of it when we young and never stored a battery in the controller. Almost everything is near-immaculate.

Great fun!

BoardGameGeek page here.

GNOIF: GNOIF Gets Lucky

-A.J.

GNOIF #26 recap — GNOIF:  GNOIF Gets Lucky (Wealth/Luck/Asian Themes (Chinese New Year))

Games That Got Played:  Code Names (Deep Under Cover), The Dragon & Flagon, Hanabi, Incan Gold, King of Tokyo, Lost Cities Board Game, Seven Dragons, Ticket to Ride Asia, Ticket to Ride Europe.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Avalon – Resistance, Five Tribes, Get Dr. Lucky, Mottainai, Tiny Epic Kingdoms.

The crowd showed up early and stayed late. Altogether it was more than ten hours of gaming. We played a bunch of looong games with a few short games as spacers in between.

An early evening game was The Dragon & Flagon. Think D&D bar fight. People were throwing mugs, chairs, and lightning at each other. Generally silly and definitely fun.

I really enjoy King Of Tokyo. To requote from the GNOIF #24 Recap:  “I enjoy it quite a bit. Players play as big, stompy, city-wrecking monsters, and the object is to dominate Tokyo and beat up everyone else — think Gozilla vs Mothra vs Kong. It’s fast and violent, and there’s an element of “chicken” to it. Good fun.”

It’s also possible to “upgrade” your monster. I went with Poison Quills, which in the right circumstance allows for more damage dealing. My opponent on my left purchased an “Extra Head”, which she used to roll an extra die and deal out terrible carnage. She won.

Later in the evening the gaming broke into two groups — one group focused on Ticket to Ride and the other on Code Names. That’s the nice thing about offering a range of game lengths and complexities — there was something for everyone.

Thanks to those who played!

 

Recommended Game — 7 Wonders Duel

-A.J.

Title:  Seven Wonders Duel7-wonders-duel

Game Type:  Card Drafting/ Civilization Building

Number of Players:   2

Complexity of Rules:  Medium-Low. Easy to learn if you’ve already familiar with 7 Wonders.

Time to Play:   30 minutes according to the box. I think we’ve been running vaguely longer.

The Concept:   Players take turns drafting cards from the available (topmost) cards in the stack. (See picture, the cards on the bottom and far right are “available”. If the card at the bottom were to be drafted then the next two cards would be flipped over and become “available”.)

The cards themselves represent either economic advancement, a stronger military, scientific advancement, or Victory Points (or a combination of those things.) Like the original game you can also “burn” a drafted card for gold or to Build A Wonder. The strategic part is picking the right combination of cards that allow you to acquire the “best” civilization, represented by having the most Victory Points at the conclusion of the game. Alternately you could buy a big stompy military and beat your opponent into submission, or advance far enough in science that you win outright.

Why I Like It:  It’s a fairly deep two player game with many possible ways to attempt to win. There’s some real strategy in card drafting to optimize your potential outcomes while damaging the other player’s as much as possible.

My one concern is that as we gain experience – we may find that trying to win with science is a high-risk idea. You really need to commit to science, and if the cards don’t fall right then you’re screwed. Basically any other approach is “safer”.

Overall though, it’s a very fun game.

—————-

BoardGameGeek page here.

The CheapSeatEats 7 Wonders recommendation page here. (I had/have concerns about the “science strategy” on that one too.)

GNOIF: GNOIF’s Day Of Infamy

-A.J.

GNOIF #25 recap — GNOIF:  GNOIF’s Day Of Infamy (War/Water themes. (Pearl Harbor))

Games That Got Played:  Amerigo, Avalon – Resistance, Hanabi, Star Realms.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Bang!, Batt’l Kha’os, Castle Panic, Pirate Fluxx, Forbidden Island, Nuclear War, Pirate’s Cove, Small World, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Ultimate Werewolf.

Not many games got played, because GNOIF was taking place at the same time as:

sounders-win

Or:

sounders-win4

Or:

sounders-win2

Or:

sounders-win3

 

I could do this all day!

 

GNOIF: Run For Your Life GNOIF!

by A.J. Coltrane

GNOIF #24 recap — GNOIF:  Run For Your Life GNOIF! (Horror/zombie/vampire themes.)

Games That Got Played:  Dark Gothic, Exploding Kittens, King Of Tokyo, Mysterium, Pirates Ninjas Robots And Zombies.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Betrayal At The House On The Hill, Blood Rage, Dead Fellas, The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, Dracula, Zombie Fluxx, Get Dr. Lucky, Guillotine, Last Night On Earth, Mr. Jack Pocket, Munchkin Zombies, Mystery Of The Abbey, Ultimate Werewolf.

A year ago I used Sharpies to “paint” the Heroes from Last Night On Earth. This week I got around to the Zombies, and I touched up the Heroes a little bit:

161026-last-night-on-earth

But we didn’t play Last Night On Earth.

SeattleAuthor did an amazing job of painting the miniatures from his copy of Blood Rage.

But then we didn’t play Blood Rage either. I think maybe everyone was afraid of damaging his incredible artwork.

We did play Pirates Ninjas Robots And Zombies. It sucks. The last player can either be the King Maker or win outright. Its best quality is that it doesn’t take a long time to play. (And that’s me being nice.) For what it’s worth, the game is ranked #7,259 on BoardGameGeek. The lowest ranked game is Tic-Tac-Toe at #12,913. The lowest “real” game is Snakes and Ladders at #12,912. Go Fish is #12,902.

Mysterium was a big hit. One player is the “Ghost” who uses “vision” cards with lots of potential “meanings” or “interpretations” to help “Mediums” suss out what happened the night the Ghost was murdered. There was lots and lots of post-mortem after each game, no pun intended.

We played a few games of King Of Tokyo. I enjoy it quite a bit. Players play as big, stompy, city-wrecking monsters, and the object is to dominate Tokyo and beat up everyone else — think Gozilla vs Mothra vs Kong. It’s fast and violent, and there’s an element of “chicken” to it. Good fun.

Thanks to everyone who played!

GNOIF: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Zepplin?!

by A.J. Coltrane

GNOIF #23 recap — GNOIF:  It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Zepplin?! (Steampunk and Transportation themes.)

Games That Got Played:  Fluxx (Firefly), Forbidden Island, Get Dr. Lucky, Lost Cities, Rocketville, Steampunk Rally, Ticket To Ride Europe.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Catan (Starship), Galaxy Trucker, Hanabi, Infernal Contraption, Pirate’s Cove, Power Grid, RoboRally, Ticket to Ride Card Game.

Really, the theme was based around our newest game – Steampunk Rally. A brief description from BoardGameGeek:

Using a unique dice-placement mechanism, players take on the roles of famous inventors from the turn of the last century like Nikola Tesla and Marie Curie, constructing fantastical contraptions that make use of steam, heat and electricity in an attempt to win a no-holds-barred race through the Swiss alps.

Contraptions like so:

160926-steampunk-rally

The red dice represent “heat”, the blue dice are “steam”, and the yellow dice are “electricity”. The purpose of the Contraption is to generate resources, exchange one resource for another, and to convert the end product into (fast) forward motion through the Alps. It’s probably my new favorite game and should receive a “Recommended Game” post soon. (The metal cogs don’t come with the game. Those were a gift from SeattleAuthor. They’re way more fun to look at and handle than the cardboard pieces that do come with the game.)

Fluxx was played — I won one game entirely by accident. (I was getting a beverage when I won.) Rocketville went over well with a group that was mostly new to it.

Lost Cities was played — the winner was the person who didn’t try to start four expeditions. (I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone win when attempting more than three. To quote a 2010 post:  Players must use caution — initiating an expedition has a steep price, and a “money-sink”  venture can end the chances of winning.)

Get Dr. Lucky had the usual screw-your-neighbor finish. I didn’t see who won the Ticket To Ride Europe, though it occupied a good-sized group for a couple of hours.

Next up will be the Horror/Zombie/Vampire night around Halloween. Games will include Last Night On Earth (B-movie style horror game), Zombie Fluxx, Betrayal At The House On The Hill, Bang! (A Spaghetti Western, though there’s plenty of death in that game), Guillotine (Off with their heads!), Deadfellas (undead mobsters), Ultimate Werewolf (peasants getting killed by werewolves), and a handful of others.

Thanks to everyone who played!

 

A Blast From The Past: Revolt On Antares

by A.J. Coltrane

Back in the early 80’s TSR (the D&D people) published minigames. A minigame would come in a small plastic case with dice, a short rulebook, and a small map:

For scale: An over-exposed nickel on the left
For scale: An over-exposed nickel on the left

If you look closely at the top of the picture you’ll see the hole used to hang the game for display and sale. It’s a clever all-in-one package.

We played a lot of Revolt on Antares way back when. (It was published in 1981.) It’s a fun (if oversimplified) war game in the style of Axis and Allies. Little chits represent troops. You make little stacks of chits, move them around the hex map, and use them to attack other little stacks of chits/troops. Here’s a mid-game picture:

Note that same nickel, now up at the top of the photo.
Note that same nickel, now up at the top of the photo.

The symbols on the map represent terrain features and resources. If you squint really hard at the light blue chit on the brown island at the bottom center you’ll see that it says:  “Hovercraft”, and, “2-8”.  That troop unit has 2 attack and 8 movement. “Laser Tanks” are 6-4. “Jump Troops” are 3-5 (and can ignore rough terrain). And so on.

I gave up my original copy for lost years ago. I got the bug to play it again, so I bought a copy online. Naturally it was at that point my own copy resurfaced in an old D&D box.

Then I mostly forgot about the whole thing for a while. Periodically I’d see the game the closet and want to give it a go, but I didn’t get around to playing until very recently. I invited a buddy over and we tried out the most popular of the old scenarios.

The scenario calls for the “Terrans” to fight the “Rebels”. The Terran player starts out at a numerical disadvantage but gets more reinforcements over the course of the game. The game lasts ten turns, and the object is to control the most resource nodes and capitol cities at the end.

I believe that when I was younger my opponent and I would set up on opposite sides of the map and be tactical about it. Unaware of the finer points of these strategies, my buddy and I both set up in the center of the map and got into a giant slugfest.

The fight went back and forth. He was massing for another assault when I loaded a nuclear bomb onto a hovercraft… and directed the hovercraft into his two biggest stacks of troops.

And that was that.

It may be that if we played a few more times then some real strategy would kick in. Our strategies basically consisted of making the biggest piles of force we could and using those to smash smaller enemy forces.

I think we had fun with it.

—————-

In a related note:  Shopping for games used to be a lot easier, but a bit of a crapshoot at the same time. If the game was by TSR or Avalon Hill then you were likely spending your money wisely, though without online reviews there was always an element of- “You pay your money and you takes your chances.” Still, the minigames were a cheap gamble, in contrast to some of today’s $60+ games..

BoardGameGeek page here.

GNOIF: GNOIF’s Three Hour Tour

by A.J. Coltrane

GNOIF #22 recap — GNOIF’s Three Hour Tour (Games about water, islands, and pirates.)

Games That Got Played:  Avalon – Resistance, Dominion (Seaside), Pandemic, Pirate’s Cove, Pirate Fluxx, Forbidden Island, Ultimate Werewolf.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Amerigo, Carcassonne, Forbidden Desert, Island Port.

I enjoy teaching new people Fluxx for the first time. It’s quick to learn, and players always have fun once they wrap their heads around the idea that the rules change almost every turn. It’s a goofy game, but planning still gets rewarded sometimes.

Fittingly, the forces of failure were everywhere — we managed to lose at least one game each of Forbidden Island and Pandemic. The evil team won two out of three games of Avalon. The werewolves won two out of three games of Ultimate Werewolf.

Thanks to everyone who played!

Those Poor People….

Galaxy Quest: A must-see movie if you haven’t already watched it.

——-

In other news, we just passed 1 million sp*m, thank goodness for filters.