Boardgaming in 2017!


Axis & Allies but with round map?


Oops. My Aeon’s End set and attendant expansions appear to be completely intact, but when I went to sort out War Eternal, I turned out to be missing 7 out of the 12 player (mage) mats, three of the nemesis mats, and a tracking mat for one of the nemeses I did receive. Mostly from the base War Eternal box. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something they left themselves open to by putting the expansion contents into the relevant box at ship along with the collapsed expansion box, rather than shipping them separately boxed as most companies would. I’ve emailed them for replacements, hopefully that won’t take long. When I had my Kickstarter copy of a Flash Point expansion stolen from my doorstep they took care of that right away, so I have faith in their customer service.


Played a 4-player game of Mansions of Madness last night that just kind of came together spontaneously as some buddies and I were planning on playing it for gaming night tonight. 2 of the players had humored me to play the game on Wednesday, and we all had so much fun that they wanted to play again. I also wanted to see if playing the same scenario through again would be fun, so we ran the intro scenario again, which was my 3rd time through, and 2 of the other players’ second time. While the overall story doesn’t change, the layout of the mansion changed completely, as did the encounters, and although we generally knew what we wanted to do, we went about it much differently. I also think selecting different investigators helped.

Anyway, tonight we’re going to do some grilling, set up with a lot of beverages and snacks, and take a bang at the Escape from Innsmouth scenario with 5 players. four of us now have a strong grasp of the rules and how to resolve actions and the Mythos phase, so hopefully we can get this in 3 hours, give or take.

One thing I’m trying to figure out: we can either use the app for this on an ipad, where one person kind of reads the narration to the group when needed…or we can also put it up on a 27" monitor at the end of the table for everyone to read along together. Trying to decide which will be more atmospheric.


I backed Tiny Epic Defender v2 last night, since I’ve had fun with v1 and their other games played solo.


Looks like Voyages of Marco Polo is back in stock after, like… years? Been waiting for my chance to get my hands on it for a long time.

I was made aware of the new edition by Shut Up and Sit Down’s review, which come in as a Don’t (quite) Recommend:

They recommend Concordia over this and I’ve got that and still haven’t played it. So I guess I have to give that a whirl first.


Huh. I consider Concordia and Voyages of Marco Polo quite different. I recommend both!


They actually have an interesting conversation about what it takes for them to recommend a game at the end of this review. They don’t “recommend Concordia over this”, instead they say this game is good but they can’t recommend it.


And which is why I don’t take stock in much of reviews of SHSD anymore. They just don’t like any games my group considers FUN. Marco Polo is still one of the few games that if brought to the table will get a unanimous yes from everyone. Concordia on the other hand is the SHSD grail game. They’d play that every day all day if given a chance. We find in just OK…


Personally, I kind of agree with their review. I find most of Marco Polo to have good enough systems to be interesting, but they don’t make me excited. However, I really think SU&SD undersells the character powers. This is a fun game to teach because after explaining the basic rules, when you explain the character powers they all sound completely broken. They’re the reason I’ve held on to the game.

If a game had character powers this exciting with more interesting (for me) Euro-style mechanics, I would much prefer that. I don’t think that game exists (and it certainly isn’t Concordia). I guess Scythe is another contender, but I really didn’t enjoy it. I’m hoping Clans of Caledonia may be the one for me. In any case, asymmetric powers in Euro games seems to be relatively popular at the moment so I think Marco Polo is likely to be eclipsed soon.


I like the designer, but i found marco polo to be such a boring game. The mechanics are fine, but it felt so empty


And that’s pretty much exactly what the SUSD guys said. That mechanically the game was very sound, but by simply making it a points chase (and yes, most games are points chases, but well-themed games dress up the points in interesting ways) it’s just dry and left them wanting more.


I could understand that critique coming from Michael Barnes. But come on, five months ago SUASD were raving about Terra Mystica, which is equally a themeless point salad. You can’t simultaneously argue that these games are interchangeable and suggest that one is indispensable.


I didn’t watch the video review, but they called Marco Polo “dry”? I mean, I guess that’s a subjective term, but I can’t imagine anyone applying it to that game. The character asymmetry, the variable set-up and economic structure, the theming of resource management and travel, the camel basis for all trade, and the dice shenanigans are all pretty imaginative systems, and they’re expertly intertwined. I’m a card-carrying Voyages of Marco Polo apologist, and although I have no idea whether someone would find it “boring” or “exciting”, dismissing it as dry seems pretty weird to me.

I wonder if it’s a matter of some people not playing it enough times, or with enough characters, to really appreciate how that works. For instance, playing a couple of two player games with the same characters. I can’t imagine anyone would do that, but so much of the game is which characters are in play. Plus which city cards are in play.

Scythe is an interesting comparison, but it kind of makes your case about other games not breaking the rules as much. The Scythe dudes have interesting tweaks. The guy who can do the same action twice in a row kinda breaks things a bit. And the two add-on dudes have nifty powers with new markers. But I don’t feel any of them is as subversive as the Marco Polo dudes.



Joe Diamond is a liability in Mansions of Madness. Discuss. (Seriously, it felt like we’d brought a kid brother along who was constantly getting a restrained condition, constantly taking horror and damage, and pretty much teetering on the edge of dying. By the end of the scenario we had to have Ashcan Pete babysit him while Mandy did her thing to win it.


Played my first game of Catacombs last weekend. Apart from being a lot of fun what I really liked was that I knew the rules and could explain the game to my friend as we went along. I remember his look when I unpacked the game (there are no boardgame players among my friends) but then he soon found out how easy it is and all the special moves where explained fast. So thumbs up for Catacombs for a light boardgame night.


It’s all subjective. My experience with Marco Polo wasn’t bad, just that I have and have played games I enjoyed more that scratched that same itch and as you know I have the same feeling with Scythe. It’s by no means a bad game. It’s absolutely gorgeous, but there are at least 5 other area control games I’d rather play and I feel are better games.

My group is constantly reminding me that, “the game isn’t bad, but when there are so many better games out there why play ones that are just okay.” For example, I think you like Dark Moon and Homeland way more than BSG, but for me BSG does things those games just don’t. First, the absolute soul crushing attack of the cylons. There’s nothing worse than seeing all those minis on the board. It might just be psychological, but panic kicks in when the fleet arrives your ship’s jump drive isn’t working and the fact that one on your teammates is most likely going to f*ck you at that moment. Second, Homeland and Dark Moon have the “traitor” mechanic, but it’s fairly easy to deduce mid game who is what. In Dark Moon games we’ve played some people just come right out as the bad guy on the first turn.
Now I realize that may be the exception and not the rule, but I feel meta in those games is lacking. BSG I would argue is more about the meta and less about the game play mechanics. Math is math, but the slow burn of building up who is or isn’t on your team only to have you be wrong is fantastic and plays out so much better, at least in my experience, than it ever has in Homeland or Dark Moon. That said, I get it when someone says, but I can play dark moon in 45 minutes and then play something else.


LOL. I know all these characters, but the imagery of Ashcan with his dog having to pull a guns blazing Joe (if I’m not mistaken his mini is a guy holding 2 guns) out of the mansion, “easy there kid, let the adults handle it”, cracks me up.

Was it just that he always got hit with AI checks at the end of each round?


I think in that first short, 60-90 minute Mansions scenario, you start off kind of poor in the way of weaponry. Between Mandy, Pete, and Joe, we had one weapon to start with: a fire extinguisher. We gave that to Pete, who proceeded to bludgeon the ever living hell out of anything that so much as moved with it. Mandy later got a decent attack spell and Joe ended up with a knife – which wasn’t bad, because it seemed like his combat checks with a bladed weapon tended to be agility checks, and that’s his high stat with a 5.

Still. Joe felt like a liability because he’s a private eye who has mediocre lore and observation and will (I mean, one of those should be at least a 4, right?) It just felt like Pete was handling the combat roles with aplomb, and both he and Mandy were doing just fine with observation and lore checks…and both were funneling instill bravery spells and flesh ward spells at Joe to keep him from getting his fool self killed before they could finish the investigation.

What I think I really love about MoM is the way it gets the Lovecrafty bits about putting your characters through the grinder exactly right. When you come out of a scenario, typically your characters are carrying wounds or insanity or both and teetering on the edge.

Also love the way the game ebbs and flows. How you can go from feeling like “We’ve totally got this!” in one turn, to “Holy crap, we’re all dead” a few turns later, and then back to “Wait, we might actually win this thing…”…and it’s never felt particularly arbitrary when the game turns like that, and it provides you with opportunities to get out from under and still win, and slaps you silly when you do bad things.


Sounds about right. Without spoiling, I was in a mission where things were going very well. Then we needed to find a clue, but there so many forces on the board the game turned into benny hill. I was basically running around the board with monsters in tow, while the other players tried to find the “key”.


Interesting games I’ve played recently:

Amun-Re From the designer of Ra, Medici, Tigris and Euphrates, and like a gazillion other games, comes another reprint of his classics. This game is another auction game, but after the auction you buy farmers, special power cards, and most importantly bricks. Because, enough bricks (3) means you make a pyramid in the region, and pyramids score points!

However, the cost for all these things escalates. The first brick/worker/card is just a coin. The second is 2 coins, the third 3 coins, etc. Hence, you can buy one brick for one dollar, but 4 bricks costs you ten bucks! Ditto with workers and special cards. You always want to buy things for a dollar (Robocop joke here). Or not, as left over money is not worth a lot in points. However, before you buy bricks, a territory for each player is auctioned off. Each territory has something special about it. One territory just pays out 8 bucks every turn. Some territories come with free bricks. Etc.

The other mechanism is the “offering phase.” Basically, all players can put secretly put money into a final pool… or “steal” 3 coins from it. At certain thresholds, the amount of money each work pays out goes up. Hence, if you have a lot of workers, you might want to offer high so as to get a bigger payout. Plus, there are bonuses for offering the most, namely bricks, cards, and workers. Finally, after 3 rounds, everyone loses their teritories and workers (but not cards), and the territories are auctioned off again in 3 rounds… now with pyramids already attached. There are certainly other things, but that is the gist of it. I really liked it, a classic Knizia game for a reason.

Anachony This worker placement Euro reminded me most of Manhattan project. There is a central board where spots are limited and competed for, but players can get their own personal buildings as well. The other mechanism is a time travel conceit. Essentially, at the start of every round players can use chits to request some resource from their future selves. In the interim this can cause problems. Players with more demand chits will have to roll a die and get paradoxes. Enough paradoxes and an anomaly forms taking up one of your personal building spots. Getting rid of them costs resources, and not getting rid of them costs VP. Of course, those original resources? Will eventually needed to be given back to your past selves. Sort of an interesting way to take a loan.

After only 1 playthrough, I am giving the game a thumbs down though, mostly for turn order mechanisms. Getting more buildings is critically important to build your engine. However, I spent most of the game 4th in turn order, which meant I could buy fewer buildings because the spots filled up. To move up in turn order, you need to go to a specific spot on the board that is only available after all spots for some specific actions are filled Think of it like a game of Stone Age where if all the middle board spots are filled, you can take another spot which gives you your choice of middle board actions and first player next turn. In theory the 4th player gets the best of that exchange, but if anyone “breaks pattern” and does something else instead, you are left with what’s left and first player gets their pick and is first player again.

Other than that, a lot of mechanisms which felt “point salad” to me and not tightly integrated. It was not an actively bad game, but not one I will look to play again.

Ponzi Scheme

If you haven’t played this, you owe it to yourself to play it. Every turn you make an investment, which is taking a card from a market and a cardboard point chevron to go with it. However, that investment? It’s a one time payout. For the rest of the game, you will have to pay the interest on the investment every 3 to 5 rounds. The only way to stay ahead, of course, is to make more investments. Meanwhile, players can attempt to buy point chevrons from each other, but if the price is to low the solicited player can buy your chevron by matching the price.

The “truth” in the theme, the tension of knowing you are going to go bankrupt and all that really matters is that some one else goes bankrupt first while you are holding a bunch of points, and the dread you feel when some hands you an envelope and says “offer.” These are some of my favorite things.