Boardgaming in 2019!

Somewhat related, board game designer Cole Wehrle recently posted a Twitter thread reflecting on how games represent the sweep of history. (This post is from the middle of the thread – click through for the whole thing.)

Thanks for the link. As a historian, I am quite interested in how games use history, so that is right up my alley.

A few other games use this mechanic as well: Small World (previous Vinci), History of the World. I’ll have to look into 7 days.

This is one of my pet peeves: people talking about what games are like without ever having played them; and equating “gameplay” with “first time playing the game.”

From the recent BoardGameCo marketing email:

If you’re playing Twilight Struggle for 4 hours you’re doing something extremely wrong (or suffer from intense analysis paralysis).

Also, there is always the honourable thing to do in every board game, and that is to forfeit. No need to drag stuff out.

Sorry for self promotion, but if anyone is interested I managed to get 10 copies of Set A Watch Deluxe (kickstarter edition) if anyone needs one. Carry on.

If someone is clearly winning Twiligh Struggle, guess what? They win. When it starts to look that bad for one side usually a knockout isn’t too far off. Otherwise I’ve seen some dramatic turnarounds. It’s called Twilight Struggle not Twilight let’s both have fun doing our own thing and compare notes at the end.

I don’t really mean to sound that angry but even with the randomness of the card draws skill really seems to matter there and a strong player will definately move towards a victory pretty quickly against a much weaker one. Luck will only get you so far.

I’ve had games go 6-8 hours.


I hope it was due to excessive drinking.

I do too!

I mean even while drinking the face to face games have taken, what, 1.5 hours? Granted I feel we both play at a brisk pace, but still.

He seems to like 4 player games for the exact reason I tend to prefer 2 player games - they have none of this nonsense about being expected to hit the leader. Which, I guess fair enough if that’s what you’re into, but that’s the sort of intro that would make me confidently not trust his opinion on games (on top of what you mentioned) since I can’t imagine how his opinion would relate to mine after that.

Although, I do love Rum & Bones and Kemet is pretty fun. I even like Anitke okay. I’m calling it coincidence.

How!? It should top out around 3, and that’s only if it even goes to late game. Maybe 4 if one player is new or you’re chatting about the game as you go along.

Wow. We easily played 15-20 rounds, and not once did we even get to the final scoring, let alone 6 hours or anything approaching it. That’s what, 30 minutes per turn? 3 minutes per card?

I’ve had games of Twilight Struggle that last 94 hours. Straight.


Finally got Everdell to the table tonight. It’s an interesting mix of worker placement and tableau building, with a big 3D tree that…honestly doesn’t really contribute much of anything to the game, which was disappointing. It’s just a spot where you put workers you get in later turns, reminder text for the “season” system, and a second tray for the four randomized extra scoring goals.

Each player has both workers (2 to start, more as the seasons cycle) and a hand of cards they can play to their “city”, maximum of 15 in city and 8 in hand. There are also eight refreshable cards in the “Meadow” on the board which anyone can play. You take turns either placing workers on locations on the board (resource gathering, mainly, but there are also four randomized special locations, and some cards in your tableau may have worker locations. Plus scoring opportunities if you have the requirements), or paying resources to play out cards. “Construction” cards (buildings) will let you play a specific linked “Critter” (person) card for free as a separate action - for example, the Post Office will let you play the Postal Pigeon for free. Certain cards will produce.

At first (the “winter” turn) things feel very tight. You have no starting resources at all, and every card you might play costs resources to play. And you only have two workers to place to get those resources. Spring triggers production from any production cards you might have managed to put out, and adds another worker to your options. Combos start to become possible, and larger plays. Summer ramps you up to four workers and two Meadow cards of your choice (to your hand, not your city) and will be where the biggest combos and chain plays occur. And then Autumn hits and you’re up to a full six workers and another round of production, but you’re probably hurting for space in your city, resources only matter for filling any remaining slots (unless you have some way to score off them) and most of those workers will end up pushing for special scoring goals, tableau scoring locations, or the Journey spaces that allow you to burn cards for points in limited quantity (only opening in Autumn). It’s an interesting dynamic that feels fairly flavorful.

I took second place by a point or two despite being convinced I was well behind for most of the game. I was easily 20+ points behind the winner, though. And that’s at least in part because of my biggest problem with the game: it’s just a bit too luck driven. There is a class of card that pays off in some sort of bonus whenever you do (X), such as playing Constructions, playing Critters, etc. I only twice ever drew one of these, and only one of them in a context where it was at all useful to me, and even that was turns after the others. These are extremely important to engine building and I was simply shut out of that for virtually the whole game. Similarly, the special scoring goals often require particular combinations of card that I never once had the opportunity to play. These were responsible for 13 of the 20-odd points the winner beat me by. There are also particular card combinations that are especially effective (such as a Husband/Wife team that also requires a Farm to fully pay off - I had the Farm, got a Husband - actually could have played 2 - and never once had access to a Wife.).

It’s not by any means fully luck driven - even with the cards, there are multiple copies of everything and at least some of them come in 3 or 4 copies - and how you choose to spend your actions and your order of operations, etc definitely matter. Some of the lead the winner achieved was luck, but the lead itself was good play. But there’s enough there that it can be frustrating and I think it might well end up being the determining factor with people who’ve played enough to get the strategies involved down better. I guess we’ll see.

Everdell is a favorite of mine. I just love the pace of it, which you described very well. It accelerates like mad and then ends at exactly the right time.

Luck is certainly a factor, but I’ve found that you can mitigate it to some degree by keeping a close eye on other players’ tableaus and snapping up cards from the meadow that would benefit them. They might draw the card they need anyway, but chances are that you’ve made things harder for them.

We played Treasure Island last weekend, it was fun, with people doing shots of grog if they dug and didn’t hit anything. We had some drunken sailors at the end. I’ve never seen a game with dry erase markers before and so much hidden information. In the end Long John Silver escaped and got the booty, my monkey just missed the dig site ahead of him.

Then on to some other pirate game who’s name I can’t remember. There is a ship in the middle and you have a deck of cards with the pirate crew ranked 1 to 30 or so. Every turn you play the cards on the ship and resolve action and capture your choice of booty, some good, some bad. You then count up your doubloons or whatever in between rounds. Was light and decent.

“What would you do with a drunken sailor, what would you do with a drunken sailor, what would you do with a drunken sailor earl-lie in the morn-ing.”

I don’t think hate-drawing/playing the Meadow compensates for the luck problem, I think it’s part of that problem. Several of those engine cards appeared in the meadow and then were taken before I ever had a chance to act on them. That said, it’s certainly also a part of the strategy of the game.

Treasure Island is great. I feel it’s impossible to win as Long John because everyone can tail you out of prison and move faster. So I’m glad to know he won in your game!

The act of drawing in the maps is amazing and so unique. But I feel the pens in the game are a bit of a let down. You can buy some grease markers online that really show up, nice and bright, on the map surface. (Which itself is very reflective and so had a lot of glare).

But production aside, the game is so clever and interesting. (Except the card acquiring mechanic. I’m not a huge fan of that and would be interested in a variant)

“Things get dicey” is back.

And for those like me, who spend a fair amount of time watching game videos to try and decide what to buy, this one will keep you going: