Boardgaming in 2017!


I enjoyed PACG, but wanted a bit more. I was looking to Apocrypha to be that. Thanks for the write up @malkav11. That sounds good.


What!? A boardgame for The Expanse?

You accomplish this using a system similar to the venerated Twilight Struggle Cold War board game mixed with the “priority mechanic” of the Counter Insurgency (COIN) wargames. The core system consists of a row of event cards dealt face-up at the edge of the board. These depict key moments or characters from the series, like Bobby Draper, the Protomolecule Hybrid, and even Julie Mao’s Razorback. While the stills and titles are familiar, how the cards affect the board state remains unpredictable.

Sign me up!


Short, because camping.

Captain Sonar is very good. If you’re going to be playing groups of 6-8 it’s one of the best games I’ve seen.


Just back from a long day of fairly heavy gaming. Tried my first game of Terra Mystica 4 player with people who had read the rules but never played. It’s a complex game but we actually played decently. I’ll definitely play it again; it had enough interesting strategic choices to justify the fairly long playing time.

Then we played Terraforming Mars, Unfair and Lords of Waterdeep 6 player with both expansions. It’s interesting: playing LoW with 6 players and both expansions is to vanilla LoW as my recent 9-person all day game of Eclipse was as to normal Eclipse: it’s the same game rules but almost a different game. My opinion on the LoW expansions is a bit mixed: both offered some pretty cool new stuff but also raised the fiddliness level of the game. More playtime is required :O.


I just played something tonight with one of the worst names I’ve ever encountered: Sidereal Confluence. But other than the clunky title, I think I really like it. It’s a collaborative economic engine builder, where everyone’s economy depends on everyone else’s economy. It has stuff I definitely like: hardcore game-breaking asymmetry, unique co-op/adversarial relationships among the players, a dynamic economy that will vary in any given game, and all turns played simultaneously so it’s never not your turn. I think I’m even sold on the theming, which is a sprawling mess of sci-fi gobbledygook. @Sharpe, I bet you would like this one. Come back to LA and I’ll show you it!

I like Terra Mystica in theory, but it’s still pretty intimidating to me. I did a podcast with Terra Mystica expert @jsnell and discovered that I’d been playing wrong all along. Not in the sense of not getting the rules right, but in the sense of not understanding some fundamental elements of strategy that I feel are required to really appreciate the design.

Did you use drafting?

I think my anti-Lords of Waterdeep disposition comes from not liking worker placement games without a strong gimmick of some kind (the map in Dominant Species, the energy dice in Energy Empires, the interacting workers in Argent: Constortium). I wonder if any of the add-ons might bring me around on Lords of Waterdeep. Skullport and Undermountain are both available for the PC version. I should give them a try.



Played Wasteland Express Delivery Service tonight, which my brother picked up at GenCon. Seems like a very cool game but was way too easy with only 2 players. You get to drive around picking up goods and delivering them, raiding uh… raiders, and performing objectives. I really like the cool demand based economy. The more sites that want a given good (water, food, or ammo), the higher the selling price. This changes constantly as the game goes on. It’s also super fun to mod your car with additional guns, storage space, etc.

Special props to the amazing organization this game has. It comes with plastic counter trays with covers and everything fits perfectly into the box. They even have plastic holders for each deck of cards, complete with the ability to press on the side to raise them up to easily grab one.

Really impressed with this game and am anxious to try it with 4 or 5 players. With 2, it doesn’t feel like much of a competition for resources. I also need to check out the additional scenarios which apparently include digging for things and carrying nuclear bombs around.

Definitely worth checking out.


For Terraforming Mars, we did use drafting and it was quite good. We had a total of 4 players, all of whom had played and had at least some familiarity with the cards so the draft went smoothly. The drafting really added some strategy: for example, I used a fairly flexible strategy aiming at city and greenery positioning and got more map points than anyone by about a dozen. However, another player had used drafting to selectively build a plant/animal/microbe engine and he ended up beating me for the win by about 20 points. He had 9 VPs on one single microbe card alone, b/c he had used drafting to create microbial synergy. So going forward I am definitely in favor of drafting TM.

As for Lords of Waterdeep, it’s got a certain elegance that I like (yeah, I know that’s the board game equivalent of “fun”) and I also enjoy the D&D theme, so I probably like it more than Tom. The expansion is interesting in that it comes in two “modules”, Undermountain and Scoundrels of Skullport. The Undermountain expansion just adds some slightly more potent placement slots and some great big whomping 40 point quests. It’s fun, but I consider it an example of the “let’s hope More is More” type expansion. Skullport on the other hand, adds a mechanic called corruption which is both an interesting wrinkle and also makes you factor in the other players. The total amount of corruption among all players makes each corruption token cost more in negative VPs. An example of how this worked is that one player had the Lord that gives VPs for corruption and early in the game he was going heavy corruption as the VP bonus was higher than the corruption VP penalty. However, as the game wore on, all of us became at least somewhat corrupt and the corruption penalty jacked up such that by the endgame, that player took a negative 48 point hit on his lord vs his corruption. Now, if we other players had avoided the corruption more, his strategy would have worked. I’m personally not sold on the corruption mechanic as I generally don’t love penalties and negative feedback loops in game design, but it might actually be worth Tom’s time to check it out. The Steam modules are currently on sale for like $3.49 or so - probably worth giving it a test. The AI is actually not bad in the games I’ve played on PC. If you pick just one, Tom, give Skullport a try. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the corruption mechanic. Last note: it may be that the corruption mechanic isn’t interesting vs. AI - it may be better vs. humans.


Has anyone played Evolution: Climate? I heard mixed things about the original, but it seems like the sequel has improved upon the game significantly. Debating picking it up when I go back to the states this month.


Finally got a chance to play Champions of Midgard on Friday with 3 players. Went really well and we played a second time right away. Looking forward to adding on one of the two expansions too as they both look really interesting. It definitely had a Lords of Waterdeep feel to it but I’m a sucker for dice games so I think I prefer CoM.


The corruption Lord’s special is pretty terrible and having gotten him in my first (and so far only) play of the game was a distinctly negative experience. Everyone else at the table was getting these big point bonuses for focusing on particular types of mission and my bonus was…these tokens suck slightly less! Woo! :P

My feeling was that he should at least be immune to the penalty from corruption to be balanced with the other lords. Possibly even gain positive points from them, but that is quite possibly broken in the other direction. As it is, he’s just slightly less disincentivized to use corrupt actions but they’re still a net negative to him short of very low collective corruption (which will also mean he only has a little corruption himself), and while he’s getting the more powerful outputs of the corruption actions, so is everyone else, so it doesn’t amount to much of an advantage next to the much larger point bonuses of the other lords. If he were immune, he could freely use them to a really advantageous degree -and- shoot for penalizing other people and be far more competitive.


I played Midgard for the first time at GenCon. Definitely had a Lords of Waterdeep feel but enjoyed the dice and monsters to kill much more than the quests in Waterdeep. I liked it so much I bought the kickstarter deluxe version from their booth with giant map integrating the expansions the next day. Looking forward to playing it more.


I don’t know what you could heard have about Evolution (without expansion), but it is a very fine game, it does feel like you are actually recreating an eco system. I haven’t tried the expansions, but the base game I can recommend to anybody…


I played that! Yeah, the asymmetry of it is interesting. Looking forward to playing again with a different race. We definitely didn’t have a sense of what stuff was worth to everybody else, so we mostly just used the relative value chart the game gives you (although in some cases that doesn’t help; what is a colony worth?). And we mostly forgot you could trade ships. And the name isn’t so bad if you remember it is “sigh-DEAR-e-ull” not “SIDE-real” (even though that is how it is spelled). It just means stars, and if they had named it “Stellar Confluence” you would have complained how generic the name is!


I’d like to hear this too. I have the opposite initial impressions - I adore the original, and when I heard Climate described I was turned off because it sounded like adding to much cruft to the core system.


I looked this up after your and @JoshL’s write up and it sounds amazing! How long did your first games take? My biggest concern is the 2-3 hours listed game time, which with my group might be more like 4-6.

I’ve been playing The Godfather a couple times and think I’m done with it in the same way I’m done with Lords of Waterdeep. I don’t dislike either of them and am happy to play them, but I just never feel excited playing them. The Godfather started off exciting with all the surprises in the Jobs deck, but once you know what’s there it tends to be pretty obvious what players are building towards and the games are now feeling rote for me. Each play is too similar and predictable enough to lose any dramatic tension.

At this point I find myself disliking more games dubbed Worker Placement than liking them, so it’s starting to sour me on games before I’ve heard much about them. But I’m not sure I actually have a problem with the mechanic so much as I’m just tired of seeing it all the time. Sort of like how everyone felt about deckbuilders around 2010.


We played 5 player and I think we were probably right in that 2-3 hour zone; possibly a bit longer with rules explanation and looking over our player powers and making sure everybody understood what everyone else could do (which is kind of necessary). Once everyone is familiar with the game it would take a bit less.

We used a 10-minute timer for the trading phase just to keep things from getting out of hand, but I think we never actually took that long.


Played some of the Asmodee remake of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. The first case, The Munitions Magnate, took us over 3 hours, and in retrospect the sleuthing required was very surface level, so I’m intrigued by the possibilities of the later cases. This game is so unlike anything else I’ve played, so I’m finding myself thinking about it a lot.


I don’t mean to be rude by interrupting the thread, but I thought all of us boardgamers should take a victory lap on this:

“Aside from the complete warrior equipment buried along with her… she had a board game in her lap…”

Ok, back to Spirit Island…


I played my first game of Sidereal Confluence yesterday and it was really something else. I can’t think of anything that feels quite like it. All the trades feel positive for everyone involved so it has an almost co-op feel. Each player has such different powers it was like they were playing another game. I feel like this amount of asymmetry is more common in Dudes on a Map games. It’s really exciting to see it in another context. Can’t wait to explore more of the aliens.

In our first game, the Faderan dominated. My one disappointment with the game is we as a group are not entirely sure why, since it’s hard to track what everyone else is doing well. We had theorized we were too ready to accept their Acknowledgements for just a single cube, but that was the suggested conversion. I think the Faderan player just figured out how to work her economy better than the rest of us and got stuff rolling earlier. I’m really excited to try them next, the random rules deck they have is right up my alley as a player.

We did this too and only went over the 10-minute timer for the last two rounds. Around then I was starting to aggressively trade my cards I couldn’t use for others extra resources and that change seemed to draw out the trading phase quite a bit.


Played Valeria Card Kingdoms around midnight with my son as Irma hit because we thought we would lose power (which did not occur).

My daughter was glued to her Xbox One playing Mount And Blade Warband which she got on sale. At first she did not seem to like it too much but now she is addicted.

Today we may try Ethnos and/or Mechs & Minions.