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Jack's Solo Games - Goals, Stats, Sessions, Reviews, and Rambling
Jack Bennett
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This geeklist is a place for me to collect my goals, statistics, session reports, thoughts, reviews, ideas, ramblings, and conversations about the solo games I'm playing, want to play, plan to play, or are failing to play.

For much better examples, see some of my peers' lists here, here, here, and here.

I will try and keep track of at least important or interesting sessions of the games I add. And also write up preliminary thoughts or full-on reviews for games I've spent some time with.

I'll start by adding some games that I really want to play, and set some goals for those, but things will change as time goes on. I doubt I'll meet all my goals, but this is a good start for me by throwing my hat over the fence.

I have no intention of tracking everything ever. These are games that I have specific goals for for some reason. Or that I really like and want to write up session reports and reviews for. Or that I think have interesting stats to track. Or for whatever whim of a reason I come up with. I won't delete anything, but I may stop tracking stuff, and I'll definitely be adding more as we go.

Though this is mostly for my own tracking/consolidation, it's possible others could get something out of it, so feel free to participate! Just treat the items as a prompt for watercooler discussions.
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1. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.74 Overall Rank:13]
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Goals:

Remove the curse of the Voracious Goddess:
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2. Board Game: Airborne Commander [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:3341]
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COMPLETED

Christmas gift to myself. This one's on the way to me now. I just can't resist games like this. I like deckbuilders, I like the theme, I like supporting small companies.

Goals:
Accept its delivery:
Play a game with missions in order:
Play a game with shuffled missions:
Earn one Medal of Honor:
Form an opinion:

Results:

Numerical/
Date Shuffled Score Service Medal MVP
2Jan2016 N 12 Medal of Honor 1st Lt. A Peden
3Jan2016 N Loss NA No one
3Jan2016 S Loss NA Disorganization
3Jan2016 S Loss NA Medic


Notes/Thoughts/Review:
18Dec2015: Arrived today, nice quick shipping. I like the small box. Comes with two decks of cards. Card quality is fine, about what I expected from a smaller company; it's a nice shiny card stock. I'll probably sleeve them, since they're a bit more papery than something you'd see from FFG or DoW or something. But the cards won't fit in the box once they're sleeved, unfortunately.

The rulebook is OK? Not great? It's not a hard game, rules-wise, but there's still some questions I have that the rulebook doesn't answer and a few things that don't make sense. Plus a few typos and such. Would like to finally play a game where I don't need to run to BGG for an FAQ and the rules forums.

02Jan2016: Got in my first game while the baby slept. Only one game in, so can't say I have an informed opinion other than "still willing to play it again."

Too many rules questions for such a simple game. What happens to objectives you don't engage? What are "defending units" for the purposes of the "Manor" terrains (and if all my guys are considered armored, does that just mean they're invincible since no enemy cards have anti-armor values?) What happens to terrains at the end of the turn? How do you deal with the stack of static defenses (as in, how do you engage?) In what order should cards come out of the recon pile? And on. Most of this I just did what made sense, discarding everything except static defenses each turn, treating the static defense pile as if it were just infinite more columns to the right (meaning I can engage what I want). But it's not in the damn rulebook.

Also, a message to all those people writing rulebooks: spellcheck. You don't even need to know how to spell yourself, just press the little spellcheck button and you're off to the races. This isn't handwritten and I'm assuming you didn't type up these rules on a typewriter, so use the freaking tools available to you in word processing. /rant.

The game was interesting, despite the rules issues. So far there are 3 worrying things:

1) It's a deckbuilder. And like any deckbuilder, you start with some weaker cards that you do want to get rid of. But in this game "get rid of" means "send purposefully to their death." This goes WAY against the theme, and how I would play any war game.

Sure, you might know some of boys aren't going to make it back, but you didn't send them out SPECIFICALLY to die. Because of the way the engaging mechanic works, you can just toss a crap card under an Axis tank to get rid of it and also discard (but not destroy/score) the tank.

"Culling" cards is a part of deckbuilding, "culling" soldiers just feels really wrong to me.

2) You have to beat the defense numbers with your attack numbers. Instead of match them. It just feels really off to me. If I look at the bad guy card, and he's got a 3, I feel like I need to produce 3 attack to take him out, but I don't. I need to produce 4. So the entire game you're having to mentally add 1 to everything to make sure you're killing and not being killed.

This is really minor, sure, but just about every other game like this I've played would have balanced it differently. It's a mental tax that adds up over the course of the game, and provides a place for me to screw up play and lose units because I forgot that this one game, for no reason, works differently. For a smooth playing game, you want to eliminate as many speedbumps for the player as you can, and showing them a 3 but making them have to think 4 every time is a speedbump.

3) I got a Medal of Honor on my first game. For me, a solo game needs to be difficult to have any legs. If I can just knock out Medal of Honors all day, no trouble, then I'm not likely to spend much time with this.

Could be I just got lucky, we've got an N of 1 at the moment, so I'll withhold judgement. Could be I screwed up a rule, which I'd blame on the rulebook. I'll go through the rules forums and re-read the book now and see what I may have missed.

Overall, I am very skeptically optimistic. More plays!

3Jan2016: Three more plays today. All losses. I guess my MoH last game was a bit of a fluke?

I played one more game with enemy cards in sorted order, but then stopped and don't plan to go back. It might be a bit harder when they're shuffled, but it just adds too much to pack-up/set-up time. Not worth it for me for a small quick game.

All three games I just got overwhelmed by disorganized cards. It's a slippery slope. You draw 5 cards per turn, and flip up 4 axis cards. You get disorganized cards that are dead in your hand, and the axis get terrain, static defenses, and objectives which don't cause you to draw more disorganized cards if not handled. If they get more troops than you do, you are pretty much guaranteed to draw disorganized cards. Which means in later hands you are more likely to draw fewer troops, thus having less to attack with, thus drawing even more. There's one card that lets you put one back, but you have to not commit him to a fight to do that, which means probably you're just going to draw a replacement anyway. They're basically permanent.

My third game, I took this to heart and decided I would do whatever it took to not draw cards. It started off really well, as my hands were more consistently all troops, and when the enemy had a low-troop turn I'd try and turn it into a buying turn for me. I got the Medic, the P-17, the Maquis. Things were looking up. I had about 10 points scored. I had a crazy turn where I took out two static defenses, a tank, captured an objective, and bought a card. This was all due to the heroism of my medic, who distracted the tank long enough for the P-17 to get there. He didn't make it back. And then I have no idea what happened. I remember one hand had 4 disorganized cards in it, and the enemy flipped up 4 troop cards, which lost me the game.

I find myself getting frustrated playing this instead of enjoying it. It's not the difficulty...it might be more the struggle to affect meaningful change in the game. Turn after turn there are just times when there is nothing I can do but take a disorganized card. Or there's no lineup of troops that keeps me from having my P-17 blown out of the sky. Or I save up for a big attack only to find that all the enemies are in a house and I can't actually kill any of them.

I like notoriously hard games. Space Infantry comes to mind. But in Space Infantry you feel like you're DOING something. You're moving, you're fighting, you're exploring. You're expending resources and ammo, and drawing another Hive tile. You're getting your ass handed to you, but things are happening, changing. I don't get that feeling playing AC, I just feel like I'm trudging through the mud.
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3. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:19]
Jack Bennett
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I went ahead and pre-ordered two sets of this. No question, really that this was going on this list, eventually.

I really enjoy the LotR LCG. I like building decks, I love the game system. I have a few minor quibbles about it, but they're...minor.

But I screwedup. I kept buying the packs, but then I never played much beyond the Khazad-dum set. More and more packs came out, I'd stock back up now and then, but didn't build decks or play.

So the situation I find myself in now is that I have hundreds of cards to build decks from and it's a bit of an overload.

With Netrunner, I did much better. Because I was running tournaments and leagues, I was playing multiple games every week. And I'd build decks at home and test them out solo and try crazy thing. What that meant was that as each pack came out I could slowly incorporate the cards from that pack into my Netrunner knowledge. And it was much easier to stay on top of it.

So that's my goal with this. I'm going to keep buying LotR cards, and eventually I will play every damn scenario in that game. I will. But for AH I'm going to play as much as I can as it comes out. I'm going to try different decks, right out of the core set, and repeatedly play the scenarios therein. And when a new pack comes out, I'm going to promise myself that I build decks with those cards, and play any scenario in it, before I get the next pack. It should be much easier to keep up with that way, and I'll get much more enjoyment out of the game without it feeling like work.

Looking forward to it, this can't come out fast enough.

Goals:
Own it all:
Keep up:
Beat the core scenario:
Beat Rougarou:
Beat Carnevale:
Beat Dunwich:
Beat Carcosa:

Current Decks:
TBD
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4. Board Game: Astra Titanus [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:3240]
Jack Bennett
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I have no excuse. I've owned this for a long time. I've punched it and read the rules. I know I will love it, no question. I just haven't played it. And I just found it in a box. So up it goes.

Goals:
Open it, read the rules, come up with some goals:
Win First Encounter (with newbie rules, screw-ups allowed):
Win First Encounter (without newbie rules or screwing up):
Win Scramble!:
Win Space Interception:
Win Terrible Twins:
Win Colonial Trouble:
Win Hero's Pyre:
Win Deep Space Interception, Too:
Win The Final Countdown:

Results:
First encounter with First Encounter: WIN*
Second encounter with First Encounter: LOSS*
Third encounter with First Encounter: LOSS
Fourth encounter with First Encounter: WIN
First encounter with Scramble!: LOSS
Second encounter with Scramble!: LOSS

Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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5. Board Game: Bios: Genesis [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:1770] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
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Though my Eklund collection is pretty much complete, there are quite a few of them I haven't played. This is one I've been waiting for for a while, and I've enjoyed the couple of multiplayer games of it I've played.

B:G is a game where you create life. You assign your bionts to areas on Earth that might be suitable for life, you try and organize the manna and enzymes together in the hopes that life can spawn. Your life has to strugle to survive, to mutate and change faster than the "Darwin rolls" can wear your life down. And, with enough luck and mutations and defense you can eventually become a marine macro organism. Then you can begin to develop organs and additional defenses in a bid to crawl out of the water and become a terrestrial organism.

It's tough. It's a survival game, for sure. I've never seen a terrestrial organism, and only one player has ever gotten a marine organism in any of the multiplayer games I've played.

The solo game is you as two players playing against two automated parasites. These parasites will attach to you as soon as they can and, they pull mutation cubes off your bacteria, meaning you can't use them to survive or make resources anymore.

Though there is a good game in here multiplayer, I'm not yet sold on how decision-heavy the solo game is. But it's still fun to play it out and see how you survive, similar to how you'd watch a game of B-17 play out. So I'd love to see some terrestrial life hit the board!

Goals:
Play 3 times:
Terrestrial Win:
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6. Board Game: Bios: Megafauna (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:2721] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
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A new Eklund game, a new item to the list.

Goals
Play enough to be able to recognize a good/stupid play (solo, two handed, or multiplayer):
Figure out the solo game:
Try the Genesis-to-Megafauna connected game:
Bribe Mer to try this:
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7. Board Game: Black Orchestra [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:887]
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Backed the second KS and this just arrived. I love the idea of a game where you work to build up over the course of the game and then get the best timing possible for one critical roll.

Goals:

Kill Hitler:
Kill Hitler Again:
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8. Board Game: Burgle Bros. [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:201]
Jack Bennett
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COMPLETED

Just played 2.5 games of this multiplayer and can't get enough. So up on the list it goes!

This is a brilliantly fun little game. It's very puzzley, you could sit and really stare at it for a long time to work out your options. It's tense, and funny, and simple to play, though the rules are a bit pants (just started working for a UK company, practicing their language).

Goals:
Beat the Office Job:
Beat the Bank Job:
Play Fort Knox:


Results:
Games 1, 2, and 3


Notes/Thoughts/Review:
The game is really thematic. The art goes a long way and really helps make this feel like a heist. The effects of every room make thematic sense, and the different tools and loot are all funny and interesting. This is one of those games that evokes its theme through gameplay instead of through flavor text; it shows instead of tells.

The game is a really interesting puzzle. Though true that there are dice and decks of cards, the randomness is really quite limited and very much under your control. Yeah, you might get a bit screwed here or there from botching a roll or a bad set of rooms, but it's all overcomeable with good planning and teamwork. Every game of this that I've lost I see things I could have done that would have helped. If you pay attention to the decks, the tiles, the guard, and plan ahead and think through your options, you will often win.

I enjoyed it solo. You can apparently play with just 1 character, but I don't think I would like that. A lot of the puzzle of each turn is how to use the characters together. One character draws the guard away from another with an alarm. Or one character ducks off a floor real fast to keep a guard from moving into a bad spot. And the combinations of the character powers give people roles to play. I think much of the game would be lost with just 1 character.

And I also think I wouldn't want to pilot more than 2. Which is probably the only ding I have against the game. The game is harder with more players, and I would like to play at that level of difficulty, but I would be annoyed trying to play 3 or 4. I would lose track of turn order, forget people's powers, tools, and loot effects, and it would just be a bit too much to keep track off. That said, the Fort Knox scenario is pretty difficult even with 2, so that's probably the game I'll play from now on.

Multiplayer we instituted a house rule that you could only plan out loud with other players in your space. While thematic, the real reason is that the game is so puzzley that if everyone's discussing all possible options then the game can drag. Solo removes all those other idiots and just lets you make all your own mistakes, so I quite enjoyed the speed of the game. These were about 30-45 minute games on average.

Overall a keeper a for me. Fun multiplayer, fun solo, and the only game in my collection with this theme, while actually also being a good game.
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9. Board Game: Castellion [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1277]
Jack Bennett
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I'm really enjoying this one, but I've only ever won at the introductory level (level 1 of 3). I've been playing a bit at level 2, but get decimated each time.

Goals:
Win at least one game at level 2:
Play at least one game at level 3:

Results:

Level W/L


Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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10. Board Game: Codeword Cromwell: The German Invasion of England, 8 June 1940 [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:3809]
Jack Bennett
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This game seemed right up my alley. Narrative, war-themed, solitaire. Paid a good bit of money to get it, then packed it up for the move and never looked back. Paid too much not to play it.

Goals:
Find it:
Play it:

Results:

Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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11. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Road to Legend [Average Rating:8.70 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.70 Unranked]
Jack Bennett
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I've actually gotten decent value out of my Descent stuff. I've gone through 2 full campaigns with buddies (each over one long beer-fueled weekend). I enjoy it multiplayer, and would like to see if I'd enjoy taking on the app solo.

Goals:
Play the tutorial:
Decide what to do next:

Results:
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12. Board Game: Don't Tread On Me: The American Revolution Solitaire Board Game [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:4718]
Jack Bennett
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After reading Mo's great report on the game, I figured I ought to pull the trigger on this wishlist lurker. I grabbed it and the Vietnam game and am starting with this on the request of other interested parties.

And because it's July 4th!

Goals
Play a full game:
Try Chris' 3-game approach:
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13. Board Game: Dragonfire [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:1131]
Jack Bennett
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COMPLETED

I'm torn on this one. It's basic mechanics are based on one of my top 5 favorite games of ever. But its sloppy addition of new systems concerns me. I'm going to add it to the list so you all catch watch me decide, in real time, if there's any reason to play this instead of Shadowrun. So far, without yet playing it, there's not.

The first complaint is an oldie, but a goodie: the rulebook is just bad. Things are organized in weird spots. There's already errata (not just clarifications) to cards and text. There's plenty of ambiguity, even for someone who has played the crap out of Shadowrun.

As an example, in trying to explain the difference between a Round and a Scene and how it affects the Dragonfire cards/level, they actually screw it up. They explain how a Dragonfire card won't always be drawn at the start of a Round, which is false. They meant it won't always be drawn at the start of a Scene, even though at the start of the game they line up. So the one and only rule in Shadowrun that could be a little confusing, they actually make VERY confusing by botching it. That's OK, rules-writer. It's a tough rule. And it's not like it wasn't already clearly explained in the rulebook for the game that this game is based on...

The rules for locations are just all over the damn place, contradicting themselves instantly and saying things that make no sense (like "[assists can be played] even if you are not in the same environment with your character token" which doesn't make a damn bit of sense because your character token denotes the environment you are in, they can't be separate).

On top of just badly-written rules, there are also just bad rules. For example this awful set of instructions for building your market deck. You want to know the rules for building the market deck in Shadowrun? "Shuffle all the Market cards." How could anyone think this is something that ANY player would want to do?

Then you've got mess like determining the average party level and comparing that to level of the adventure and making modifiers based on that, on top of the modifiers from the adventure itself, on top of the modifiers for playing with 2-3 players, on TOP of the ADDITIONAL modifiers for playing with 2-3 players AND playing adventures below your level. So -1 from the adventure, +1 from us being higher level, and -2 from playing 2-player means we have 2 rounds with no Dragonfire card. Seriously? (Not to mention that the rules all talk about this as the Dragonfire level, which is a completely separate thing having nothing to do with how many rounds you go without drawing cards; I can see why they thought they're the same thing, but they've described two different gears whose teeth actually don't fit together, but I won't get more into that because it's about English and technical logic and it'll bore all of you probably is anyone still here?).

Most of these problems all stem from their goal of adding campaign play and character classes. You can play through a story that goes in order, and you have a character class with specific market cards and abilities just for you.

Is it worth it? Remains to be seen. The underlying mechanics of this game are based on one of my favorite games, so I know there's probably a solid game in here. But by adding things to it, and then having to design around the problems those create, they've taken what was a sleek and simple puzzle game and made a fiddly, ambiguous, sloppy mess. So if all the new stuff is kinda bad, but the base mechanics are great, what reason do I have to just not go play Shadowrun? Cause it certainly isn't the boring as hell D&D fantasy universe, I'll tell you that much.

I'll give it a fair shake. But I'm sitting here an hour before leaving for the beach for the weekend, with Dragonfire on the top of my stack of games to bring, and it is seriously taking me all the restraint I have to not just toss it on a shelf and grab Shadowrun.

As to your point below about the forums, Chris, I'm going to avoid them. Already my one rules question is being defended with "well then just don't buy expansions" when the whole POINT of the game is buy the expansions and play through a story (that's the one difference that actually matters between this and Shadowrun). It's going to be filled with people, just like the Shadowrun forum, that don't take the time to learn the game and then complain about losing. And it's going to be filled with people who finally win one because they used their brain, and talk about how much better this game is than the impossible Shadowrun. And all of these things will boil my blood. Screw it I'm bringing SR:CF to the beach, too.
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14. Board Game: Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
Jack Bennett
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I've played with the Gates of Arkham expansion exactly one time. That one game felt more fun than all my other plays without that expansion. It finally had just enough narrative cohesion for me to feel connected.

Goals:
Get Omens of Ice:
Get Grave Consequences
Get Omens of the Deep:
Get Omens of the Pharaoh:

Beat, using Gates of Arkham:
Abhoth:
Atlach-Nacha
Azathoth:
Cthulhu - Dreams of Madness:
Ghatanothoa:
Glaaki:
Hastur:
Ithaqua - Icy Winds:
Nyarlathotep:
Shub-Niggurath:
Shudde M'ell:
Tsathoggua:
Yibb-Tstll:
Yig:
Yog-Sothoth (core):
Yog-Sothoth (GoA):

Beat, using Omens of Ice:
Ithaqua - The Windwalker:
Rhan-Tegoth:
Rlim-Shaikorth:

Beat, using Omens of the Deep:
Cthulhu - The Stars are Right:
Dagon:
Hydra:

Beat, using Omens of the Pharaoh:
Blastenyerfaceoffus:
Makeuhdahorrorbad:
Scarendapoopoutcha:

Results:

GOO W/L
Yibb-Tstll W


Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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15. Board Game: Eldritch Horror [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:46]
Jack Bennett
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Love this, and need an excuse to play more of it. I've got the first two expansions mixed in, so will grab the third, shuffle up, and continue the GOO slaughter. Another packed game.

Goals:
Find it:
Buy Strange Remnants:
Buy Under the Pyramids:
Buy Signs of Carcosa:
Buy The Dreamlands:
Buy Cities in Ruin:
Buy Masks of Nyarlathotep:

Beat:
Abhoth:
Attach-Nacha:
Azathoth:
Cthulhu:
Hastur:
Hypnos:
Ithaqua:
Nephren-Ka:
Rise of the Elder Things:
Shub-Niggurath:
Shuddle-Mel:
Syzygy:
Yig:
Yog-Sothoth:

Results:


GOO W/L

Azathoth DNF
Ithaqua W
Yig L
Yig L


Notes/Thoughts/Review:
Though I'll probably come around to writing a proper review, here's my first thought: I love, so far, the expansions.

I buy expansions. I pretty much just buy them all. For everything. I can't help it, I feel like I'm not playing the full game otherwise. Which is dumb, but here we are.

Usually, I don't really like expansions. They add too much extra complexity because they add tacked on mechanics that weren't streamlined into the base game. Or they adversely mess with the deck distributions (location cards in the now-huge Warfighter action deck). Or they just add to setup time and take down time and play time without giving me something that was really worth it.

I think expansions are great if you really play a game. If you play it dozens of times, have seen what it has to show you, and want an excuse to keep playing it, then expansions can help that. But if I'm honest, I cast my net wide instead of deep and I don't play many games like that (though this list is an attempt to change that somewhat, for some games [some games' goal is just: play once, so that's obviously not entirely the point]).

But I love EH expansions. There are two big and two small expansions, and so far (without having used the extra boards) there are two extra mechanics: focusing, and prelude cards. Preludes are one and done, no mental taxation there. Focusing is incredibly simple, very useful, and should have probably been a part of the base game. It's got some minor overhead (you can only have two, it's another action), but that's it!

The rest of the stuff either fleshes out decks, or adds something that you don't need to worry about because the cards will tell you what to do (unique items, for example; a whole new deck that you don't need to worry about because other cards will say "gain a unique item" and there you go).

True the two new boards add a bit, but I really love that you only use them for two preludes and two big bads. You can't use them otherwise! So you usually won't, and you're not playing a gimped version of the game by leaving them out because you HAVE to leave them out. It's not like all the extra AH boards where you could, if you wanted (and I have...), use all of them in play at once and drive yourself crazy.

Anyway, I really hope they keep it up like this and don't get weird or crazy. They've got a good thing going keeping the play simple, and I'll keep buying them if they keep making them and I can just shuffle the expansion in and go.
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16. Board Game: Enemy Action: Ardennes [Average Rating:8.75 Overall Rank:1991]
Jack Bennett
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This was a gift to myself a while ago. One of my favorite designers tackling one of my favorite topics. I will love this game, no doubt, but I'll need to find the energy to learn it and the time to play it.

Goals:
Find the energy to learn it:
Find the time to play it:

Results:

Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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17. Board Game: Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:2867]
Jack Bennett
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One of my favorite games, I meant to continue my tradition of a Thanksgiving playthrough of the campaign, but this year my daughter was born instead. I want to make up for it sometime in early 2016. Will need to dig the game out of a box.

Goals:
Find it:
Play scenario 10:

Results:

Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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18. Board Game: Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:4156]
Jack Bennett
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ohboyohboyohboyohboy

Quote:
We're writing to let you know that game Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid is one step closer to being completed and shipped out to you! Please note that today we charged your card for your order of 1 copies...


Goals
PLAY!:
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19. Board Game: Fallout [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:896]
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Big fan of the games and theme, and it's hard to find good adventure games. This looked unique enough for me to check out.

Goals:
Beat the Commonwealth: ?
Beat the other scenarios that I don't remember the names of:
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20. Board Game: Field Commander: Alexander [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1851]
Jack Bennett
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Of all of the Field Commander games, this one just struck a chord with me that really resonated. It's simple and quick to play and gives me just enough decisions to make me happy.

A long time a go I started a This Alexander goes to 11 series. But I only finished the first scenario. Time to finish it.

Goals:
Find it:
This Alexander goes to 11, Volume 2:
This Alexander goes to 11, Volume 3:
This Alexander goes to 11, Volume 4:

Notes/Thoughts/Review:
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21. Board Game: Flamme Rouge [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:316]
Jack Bennett
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COMPLETED

Thanks Mo. Thanks for that one. All on you, buddy.

I love me a good racin' game. I honestly don't care what the speed medium is, just give me a start and a finish and some opponents. I've never watched a bicycle race in my life. But I've watched and read enough about this one that I know:

a) it's a racing game with some simple but interesting mechanics
b) it's family-friendly enough that I could get my wife to play it
c) it's got a solo-mode

And those honestly just aren't true of most racing games. So, up it goes.

Goals:

Win a race against the bots:
Play a 6-stage grand prix:

The Grand Tour

Team 1: The Cyclepaths
Color: Red
Sprinteur: Jack
Rouleur: Jack

Team 2 (peloton): The Broom Wagon
Color: Green
Sprinteur:
Rouleur: Mo

Team 3: Rhapsody En Bleu
Color: Blue
Sprinteur: Marlowespade
Rouleur:

Team 4: Road Rash Ryanfinger
Color: Pink (rash-colored)
Sprinteur: Jay
Rouleur: Ryan
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22. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:695]
Jack Bennett
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I love Fleet as a multiplayer game, so when I saw that the expansion adds a solo option, I knew I had to grab it. I ended up buying every Fleet thing you can buy (save those damn KS cards, curse you!), so now need to get some use out of it.

Goals:
Beat the solo captains:
Form an opinion on the different licenses:

Results:
Game 1

Notes/Thoughts/Review:
I really love Fleet, but the Arctic Expansion is odd. It gives you a bunch new licenses to try, but you still only ever use a few. It just says to pick the ones you want, and go. But I don't know which ones I want. It doesn't give any recommended setups or anything, and I really wish it did as that'd give me a place to start.

I would just always pick them randomly, but it's not an easy task. You have a deck of licenses which is easy enough to change, but each license requires you to use the matching boat cards. The boat deck is huge, so if you have it set up for one set of licenses, and then want to change the license mix, you have to go through the whole deck, sort out all the cards by boat, and then reshuffle the correct sets of boat cards together.

Anyway, I love the game, but I prefer expansions that have rules more like "Mix all these cards into the matching decks and then you're done."
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23. Board Game: Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:725]
Jack Bennett
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Just got notification that this is waiting for me at the FLGS. I don't even know what the goals are yet, I'm just so excited to get this to the table.

There are expansions. Anyone who's played this (just Chris is my guess) think any of those are particularly good for solo play?

Goals:
Beat the Mob:
Beat the Nazis:
Beat the Red Hand:
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24. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
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COMPLETED

This, I know, is a bit of a weird one for my particular list. But lemme 'splain.

I played this quite a bit when it came out. It has 4 levels of difficulty, and I started at level 1. I got destroyed. I reread the rules on the levels to make sure I was doing it right. Level 4, it said, is the "real game." I took this as a challenge.

I never got particularly good at much beyond level 3 because I stopped playing. I kinda felt like I'd figured it out and was just going through motions, so I set it down.

But a recent official rules change got me to pull it back out and try again. With the new rules (and maybe I'm a bit rusty) I'm failing at level 2 WAY more than I used to. My (somewhat subconscious) strategy doesn't seem to fit well with the new rule.

So, it's time to get good at it again!

Goals
Beat Level 1:
Beat Level 2:
Beat Level 3:
Beat Level 4:
Beat Level 5:

Results

Level W/L Score
1 W 100
1 W 81
3 W 104
4 W 54
2 W 64
5 L -54
5 W 100


Comments

Let me get this out of the way first and quickly: my heart sank when I pulled this back out and remembered just how much I hate the art on this game. Ok, moving on.

This is an interesting game to me. It's a deckbuilder, ostensibly, but your deck is either good or bad. There's not different directions to go with your deck, different strategies to try (at least that I've seen). Some abilities are good, some are not as good.

The goal is just to make your deck good by getting the good cards. So it's more about HOW you do that. When do you get a card? When do you cull? How fast do you build up versus purposefully fail?

It's more about tactically building the one deck you can build instead of strategically building a certain deck from among all the possible deck options. Which is fine, it's just different.

In terms of the rule change. The change is that if you have to draw an aging card and you can't, you lose.

For those unfamiliar:

Like most deckbuilders you play cards and cycle through your deck. When you have to reshuffle, you grab an aging card (which is a bad card) and shuffle it in, too. Part of winning the game is culling these cards back out of the deck.

So the new rule means that you only get to go through your deck a certain number of times before you lose the game.

Before this rule, I would spend the first pass through my game culling significantly. I'd take a good bit of damage early on and get rid of all the bad cards, then start to work my way back up in health and power. The problem is that if you cull TOO fast then your deck is smaller for longer. You're not adding cards, you're just losing them, so a reshuffle is going to happen faster.

If you cull too slowly, though, you keep bad cards in your deck for longer, which can come back to haunt you when you really are trying to win a challenge and spend a health to pull a -1 off the deck.

The cull-hard-and-fast strategy was risky only in that you'd usually get pretty close to death. But you'd grab a bunch of Destroy cards and get rid of all the aging cards you were getting and by the time you got to the end the aging cards were gone so you could go through the deck as much as you wanted. You could completely destroy every aging card and then, through lots of manipulation, you'd end up just playing out your whole deck against each pirate. Now, you can't do that.

In my game's on level 2 I've found a lot more times where I end up on my last reshuffle of the deck and have to beat both pirates with one use of each card and no reshuffling. Which, especially with the big ones, is pretty much impossible. So my strategy seems to consistently be ONE shuffle too many.

So I need to figure out a way around that. And I like a challenge issued from a game I felt like I already had pretty well figured out. So up it goes.
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25. Board Game: The Grizzled: At Your Orders! [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked]
Jack Bennett
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COMPLETED

I have played a lot of the Grizzled. It was my go-to lunch game at my old job, with two other gents who really thought it through and got good at the game. We've gotten to the point where we rarely lose with 3 without upping the difficulty (and we do pretty well with 5, but 5 makes for a hard game!).

But the game is not soloable. Until now, when At Your Orders! added an official solo variant.

Goals
Play it:
Beat it:
Opinion formed:

Results
In all these games I'm using a random selection for the 3 Grizzled.

Game 1: Loss. Got some rules wrong and made a bunch of dumb errors and I figure out how this works.

Game 2: Loss, using same Grizzled as Game 1. This was some shit. I got a bad combination of cards at the end that I had a hard time working around. I got down to no cards a couple times, but ended up failing twice and having to restart with extra cards. Got caught in a situation where I had Night Trauma out on a guy, and 4 of the last 5 cards all had night on them. I think I could have pulled this off with some smart play, but I didn't.

Game 3: Win. Took three other random Grizzled to a win this time.

Game 4: Win. Took three random Grizzled, in Midway airport, to victory. Thoughts below. This game was starting to feel more like card shuffling then gaming, as I've figured out what I need to do to win, and the luck of the draw is all that's really left that'll effect that turn to turn.

Notes/Thoughts/Review
I really enjoy the multiplayer game of the Grizzled. It's a very unique game, when I first read it I thought "that's it?" When I first played it, I thought "that's it?" It seemed randomly arbitrarily hard, and lacking in strategic or tactical choice. I was bummed.

But then we took the time to talk through the game. What we could have done differently. Oh, we should have... Oh I wonder if... What if we'd...

A game with no strategic choices doesn't elicit that conversation. So over the next months or so we played it a ton and really started to get good at it and upped our win rate quite a bit. We started playing it on hard to get any challenge out of it.

The solo game, I'm still on the fence about. Here's the gist:

You have a hand of 3 cards. These cards can have one or more of 6 symbols. The deck has 25 cards, and the object is to empty the deck and your hand.

You have 3 Grizzled in the fight, and you take an action with each. You can play a card, use their ability to remove a card from play, or withdraw them. You play until either everyone's withdrawn, or you have 3 matching symbols in play; the former is a success, the latter a failure.

If you play a card as an action, you have to decide right then if you want to draw to replace it. If you chose not to, you can no longer do this for the rest of the round. Some cards you play are injuries that cause lasting effects.

Once the round ends, the deck has new cards added to it: 2 plus the number of cards you had in your hand. If you failed, all the cards you played get shuffled into the deck. So all progress is lost if you play 3 of the same symbol.

After the round ends, one Grizzed at random is selected to get support, either by discarding injuries or getting their ability back. If the mission was a failure, they can only discard one injury.

You play until either you win, by getting rid of the deck and your hand, or you lose, but running out of cards in the reserve or someone dying.

That's the nutshell. As for the actual play, you're trying to play as many cards as you can. The order you play them is important for the use of the abilities and the effects of the injuries. The timing of certain injury cards and when to use your ability is also something you're trying to keep in mind.

Then there's a sort of push-your-luck element to it. Usually you can play all 3 of your starting cards, in which case the minimum transfer happens (just 2 cards get added to the deck), so you're down 1. But that'll take 25 turns, meaning you'll transfer 50 over, and there's only 20 or 30 some cards in the reserve. So this won't work.

So you have to get rid of as many cards as you can. If you play a card, then the tough part is deciding if you want to draw or not. Depending on the remaining cards you have, you'll have to decide if you think you can deal with the card you'll draw. If you don't draw, you can't draw again later and so you'll be limited in how many cards you can get played.

You also have to pay attention to who is going to get support. There are four tokens, one for each Grizzled, and a "miss." You'll go through all four and then reshuffle them. So at the start you're not sure who's going to get the support, but as the game continues it narrows down. So you want to make sure to stay two injuries on that person getting it, so that they can take full advantage of it. Or be sure to use their ability so they can get it back.

So far, I definitely do not like this as much as the multiplayer game. I can't quite put my finger on it yet, but one thing that stands out is the fiddliness of the "first player token" and the hand. You have 3 Grizzled, and each time they take an action you pass the token. Then it's the next guy's action. Actions are so short that you're rotating this a lot.

And that combines with the single hand. I LOVE that it's just one hand, I don't want to pilot multiple hands, but it makes the cardplay strange. In the multiplayer game, let's say you had a nasty combination of injuries out. You can withdraw, meaning they don't effect the game anymore, but doing so locks your hand as it is. And each card remaining in people's hands means more cards added to the deck. So that's a tough decision to make.

In this, you can just withdraw the guy with the bad stuff, and play your hand out with the other two Grizzled. The only thing you miss out on is his ability (which may be used already anyway), because the other two Grizzled will still all play out of the same hand. The timing of who plays what is not nearly so important, and yet here I am moving a token around and around, tapping cards to show withdrawal, handling the fiddliness without getting much for my trouble.

The solo game also removes a lot of the things I like from the rest of the expansion. The expanded multiplayer game has missions that players pick that really add a lot to the game. It streamlines some of the basic rules, and gives the first to withdraw an extra ability. But the solo game doesn't (apparently) work with any of this. It adds another layer of rulebook checking, and I'm bummed to not have access to the new stuff while playing solo.

I'll get in some more games tonight and we'll see where it goes!


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