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Archive for the ‘Session Reports’ Category

Irish Gauge

Played this at game night and this strikes me as a good entry in the Chicago Express (etc) line — clean design with no rough edges. The random (but highly structured and easy to grasp) way of calculating dividends might give this huge replayability. From my (single) play this clearly has the same implicit collusion angle that Chicago Express does, but also some guide rails that help newer players (which I appreciated). Anyway, I’m not going to rush out and buy this, but I’m glad to have played it and would play again. Also this had a good aesthetic, will above the norm for a cube-train game (which it is).

Rating — Suggest.

Written by taogaming

September 30, 2019 at 7:22 pm

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Another slow-and-steady game joins the list.

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September 16, 2019 at 7:27 pm

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A few thoughts on recent games

Timechase — I remember when Mu und Mehr came out and discussing it with Jeff Goldsmith (who is still a much better bridge player than I am, but hopefully less so than two decades ago) and his comment was basically “Trumps don’t work.” Unpacking that, it was too easy to void yourself of a suit and too many trumps. Timechase has a great idea …. you play to a trick. The losers earn gems, and you can use gems to go back to a prior trick and play another card (changing the winner), you earn gems by playing low on a trick and some every turn (less for each prior trick you won).

And it doesn’t work. The leader has a huge advantage, and if you have to follow suit, that’s it. But worse, if the last trick was won by the ace of spades and you still have any spades, you can’t win it! You can also go back to “Trick zero” which just sets trumps (if you are alone). A hell of an idea, that doesn’t work. It would be better if there rotating trumps (for example, you could beat the ace of spades with the duece through four of clubs, which just changes the suit). I spent a game following suit for 2 tricks, jumped back in time to a suit I was now void in, trumped it, and then had no good options. (Trump had changed again and … even assuming I had any … I would have to follow suit and lose to any prior trick). I’m assuming this is better with less (we played with five) but at best I’m indifferent and this is borderline avoid, but I’ll likely try once more with 3-4 players.

Got in another game of 1889 — one thing that playing various other new 18xx (like ’46) is that I’m more enthusiastic about games that do not reward “hyper fast ROI at all costs and figure out how to rescue your train buys later.”(Which is not to say that ’46 doesn’t reward it, but it is not the sum total of the game). That being said, ’89 is fast and clean. I played an interesting game where I solved my long term problem by dumping my companies while they still had 3s and 4s while Diesels were a long way away and being a minority investor in safe lines. I’d had such an early jump that I was able to (barely) out score people with more shares than me at the end. Still enthusiastic, but I’d prefer a few other titles (including revisiting ’70) that are floating around the city. Also I heard City of Big Shoulders has qualities between 18xx and Arkwright, which is intriguing.


Played Power Grid — Northern Europe Map. Fine, and I like the idea that you adjust the deck based on which regions are in play, which gives some simple variety. The ‘no nukes’ rule seemed a bit weak, since you just had to have a non-nuke at all (as far as we could tell), but this was a fine variant map. Still playing Power Grid, so enthusiastic.

Had a decent game of Wingspan with not much Eggs, and may have won if I remembered you can substitute food 2:1. I focused on getting a lot of tuck+egg powers on the water (draw cards) row, and a few leeches on other people’s lay eggs. The fact remains that I’ve seen huge wins on engines built on the egg row and possible wins on other rows when nobody really thrashes Eggs. I guess that means you just need to grab certain birds ASAP. I’m considering raising my rating but right now I’m indifferent-plus.

Written by taogaming

September 13, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Labor Day Gaming

Tried Northern Pacific — A minimalist (Winsome?) where you either drive a route inevitably towards Seattle or invest in a city by placing a cube (and many players can be in the same city, but each player has one “large” cube worth double). When a city is hit, all the cubes pay out by being returned (with a bonus). But if you get bypassed your cubes are locked. At the end of each round, you get points for each cube you have left. Cubes left on the board are a (bad) tiebreak. So, implicit collusion and a bit of zugzwang. (Since you are compelled to make a move on your turn and cubes are tight). Interesting idea, didn’t love it, but its fast and I’d play again. Indifferent.

Got in a few games of Caylus Magna Carta, the rare ‘card version’ I prefer to the original (because its faster and the individual decks means that there is much more variety between games — players can’t always play buildings in a groupthink order). Suggest, still.

Another game of Quacks of Quedlinberg. A local has the (verrah nice) acrylic (?) pieces. I’m not a huge bling-out-your-game guy, but I may start it for a few games I love. Growing on me, a little.¬† The Taoling wants me to get this, I think. Indifferent plus.

(Speaking of blinging — I invested in quite a few card sleeves for Mage Knight which was a good idea — the card sleeves have worn out! That’s what 400 games will do).

Played a few more 1846 (and some others played the 1867(?) Canada game today). I’ve won all of these, but in the last game I really botched the opening. I took¬† the Port and CWI (? chicago token) and then opened B&O, but I parred it too high which meant I had to buy the first 3 instead of a two and a three and — adding insult to injury I had to go first in OR2 and was a build short of connecting into the NYC’s network, so I had a pitiful run. However, the owner of the Illinois Central got greedy and tried to dig into multiple Chicago spaces and that let me quickly steal/finish an E-W run through Detroit, and in the (long) brown phase I was running four, four and five train (the latter getting the EW bonus) for too many ORs. I’m really enjoying the 18xx Renaissance here. (It helps that a few locals are snapping up many different titles).

I didn’t play in that other one because I was playing at the bridge club. Here’s an odd suit combination:

Q8xx in dummy opposite ATx. Playing in 3NT with plentiful entries I lead low from the queen (planning on hooking the T) when 2nd hand played the king quickly. I won this (naturally) and then spent a lot of time looking at how to endplay the other hand to force them to lead a diamond presumably from their presumably remaining J9xx. I did consider if 2nd hand had done something tricky or just bizarre, but she was a new-ish player, so played for a stiff.

Nope — second hand high from K9 doubleton. If I read that I pick up the suit for three tricks and no losers (leading the Ten to smother the nine) but I just played for the stiff king. Frustrating.

At least I was playing in a deliberate pace and not just automatically. I gave several hands detailed consideration. Possibly even correct thought. A decent chunk of my analysis is — “which line gives my opponents more options to make mistakes” but honestly that’s a big part of the game at a local club.

Written by taogaming

September 2, 2019 at 9:19 pm

Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea

Nope. What he said. My thoughts further down the chain.

But I did get to play 1846, so I got that going for me, which is nice. I won (with a commissioner’s asterisk), and I really need to to play that more. It still seems like Grand Trunk for earlier ROI is the Royal Road in this game, but our meta doesn’t have many cross purchases to remove shares from the treasury. (The asterisk is really small, because I got the mail company for $60, which was a surprise and I think a big mistake by the others. But I’d drafted two of the “no purchase” cards and really neither other op could easily afford it).

Written by taogaming

August 20, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Some quick notes

I just got my copy of Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea. I’d considered cancelling my P500 after seeing the bowbing nature of the game, but I decided to risk it (the solitaire scenarios will obviously mitigate not have that). The rules (non-solitaire, at least) are decidedly simple. (The post-publication player aid summarizing civ/wonder special abilities is mildly annoying; but better late than never, I guess).

Fingers crossed.

Also played Kansas Pacific, which seemed like a superior Continental Divide in that it was not obviously broken in the first game. I’d play it again, but this is likely in the “OK — Indifferent plus” range. (My thoughts on Continental Divide at my Gathering Geeklist for this year).

Also passed 400 games of Mage Knight in the last week.

Written by taogaming

August 12, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Ketchup Mechanism

Played a 3p game of FCM using the new Ketchup Mechanism milestones. I am not sure that there are three equally viable starting strategies, but I suspect that with careful play they are all at least reasonable. The new turn 1 Marketing Trainee is powerful. You get:

  • $5 per item marketed (forever)
  • -2 Range (forever)
  • A free errand boy and kitchen helper
  • The first sold item of your choice.

As compared to that, the first hiring girl gets two hires a turn and an executive VP. The first trainer seems the weakest of the three (a bonus trainer and the ability to keep people you would have had to fire if you are broke).

But the trainer has an ace up his sleeve, perhaps. The ability to put down a new restaurant means you can train multiple times. You need a long game.

I took a T1 Marketing Trainee and then sold the first lemonade, so I could train people while working. Honestly, after a single game I think the Marketing is the way to go. (Maybe instead of two range it should be -1 range, -1 cost, so its not all sunshine, or perhaps only a free errand boy OR kitchen helper). I can see that in a longer game the trainer opening could lead to a guru or CFO or some other big clawback, and our game had a small reserve, which definitely helps the Marketing opening. I assume that playtesting has shown that all are viable, if not perfectly equal. Likely MT is simply easier to use.

Written by taogaming

June 3, 2019 at 10:02 pm

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