Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Patrick's Top Games of 2017

Over at What Did You Play This Week Podcast they asked us to all submit our top three or so games we played that were published in 2017 - I had a hard time coming up with that list. Per BGStats I played 202 different games in 2017 but BGG will not let you sort by year very easily. I did a quick search and it appears there were 35 published in 2017. I've kind of went away from the "cult of the new" and started to focus on playing some older games and unplayed games in my collection so there are not as many as I'd expect.

None the less I did come up with a list but felt I needed to add some categories first:

Best Expansion: Clank!: Sunken Treasure by Renegade games.
This adds a new board and cards to the base game.
It added cards with a discard function that sort of
acts as a "cull" that many felt were missing from
the base game. The app was quickly updated and
I was able to play it solo with the app many times.

Best Reprint: Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary by Alea/Ravensburger
This is a well loved game by Stephan Feld. I have
heard the stories and seen it played and wanted to
give it a try. The bonus of a mini expansion of
some cards for The Castles of Burgundy was a
bonus that made me decide to get it having never
actually played it. I found the interaction of play
racing your carriages between the neighborhoods
to get the tokens, yet building up your own
buildings and fending off your rat plague an
interesting balance.

Biggest Disappointment: First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet Portal Games
My disappointment mostly lies with a long history of Portal having issued games with no blind play testing and it clearly showing in the final result with dozens of pages of questions on BGG within a few days if it hitting the market. I was very excited about this theme and decided to give them another try and ordered it and was unable to play it from the rules/video and app when it first arrived. They have since updated things but too little to late. The game is also just very negative. You start with everything and the game continually beats you down, it just isn't fun.

Played but Missing, games that you will likely see on others' top list but not mine:
  • Spirit Island: by Greater Than Games - Fabled Nexus line
    • I went into this soured by the delayed Kickstarter delivery - maybe this clouding my thoughts also. I enjoy this game, but do not love it. I've played it solo a few times and felt it needed more players to have the powers to react to each other.  The only time I played as a group was with four and it took too long.  Maybe 2-3 is the sweet spot.  It is solid but just not grabbing me to push to play it more.
  • Wasteland Express Delivery Service: By Pandasuarus Games.  
    • I enjoy a good pick up and delivery game. The play length, some confusing play - why do I need to wait a turn to do this or why are there cards that effectively make me "miss a turn". These make this less fun that it could be. Amazing art and game production.
  • Gloomhaven:
    • I jumped on the second wave kickstarter bandwagon thinking I'd play this solo. Too much going on for my brain to keep track of solo. I've played it once two player and I see the interest but due to the size and complexity it can't really travel well and set up/tear down is complex so it just doesn't get played very often.
Haven't Played yet, but want to try:
  • The 7th Continent - rave reviews but the huge size and repeat nature scared me off.
  • Charterstone - normally I'd like this but some of the reviews I've heard have me concerned.  
  • Lisboa - I'm sure I'll try it but unlikely to want to own it.
Honorable mention:
  • Azul - I really enjoy this tile game with gorgeous bits. There can be some "take that" with how you draft the tiles. I definitely want to play it more than I have so far.
  • Sagrada - I think I'm just burnt out on this. Played it a lot early in the year but moved on. This is how I am - not necessarily a reflection of the game.
  • The Fox & the Forest - amazing two player trick taking game.  I've just not played it much but I wanted to mention it.
Ok, here is the final list, the one you have been waiting for....

My top games published in 2017:

#3 Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn by Fantasy Flight Games

A relatively new to me game with only two plays. I'm a long time civilization builder game player, but with board games and digitally. This game claims to fit that bill in 1.5-2 hours and seems to work. Starting with one city and limited tech and you expand your civilization, growing out, learning tech, fighting off barbarians, and building wonders - all the things I like to do in these types of games.

A fairly abstract tile building game. All players have to stack roughly number shaped based on the card drawn if they can or put them on the lowest level that scores nothing. Although there are other similar game the third - vertical dimension is what sets this one apart for me.

#1 Near and Far - Red Raven Games
The next story telling game in the Above and Below universe. This adds a bit more game and a little less story telling. The addition of a campaign mode with multiple maps along with the arcade mode for single play games adds more variety and long term interest. The usual fantastic art from Ryan and great kickstarter coins and bit are added plus.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


I guess it is official - I have epilepsy.

I had my first seizure when I was 18ish - my first college break after a term of heavy drinking and all-nighters for my school work pumping my self full of massive doses of caffeine. I don't remember much of it other than feeling chest pains afterward because my dad did the Heimlich maneuver on me thinking I was choking.  I remember waking up in the ambulance and the driver asking me who was president - I was hoping to vote for Gary Hart at that time and considered telling him Gary but figured then wasn't the time for a joke.

My second was Fall 2013 - I had been up late the night before at a Halloween event, up early to do some household shopping then off to an all day gaming event at a buddies.  I recall sitting down to play a game and feeling a bit odd.  Next thing I knew I was in an exam room at the local hospital.  I followed up this seizure with a visit with a neurologist.  We did brain cap tests, flashing lights, scans, etc. Nothing was determined to be the cause other than maybe exhaustion, energy drinks and junk food.

I just had another - October 2017. This one was under less stressful conditions. I had been cleaning house waiting my sisters arrival. I had a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast with some coffee. I had a bowl of cereal before she arrived.  She asked about a beauty store so we went there.  After that I had the idea to visit a local Halloween store since she and I both like holiday.  I felt a little weird when we arrived, maybe my blood sugar was low, so I grabbed protein bar from my trunk.  We split up in the store and the next thing I knew I was in an ambulance being asked some questions.  I faded out and came to in the E.R. gain with my wife and sister.  They did a CT and blood work and didn't see anything.

Here I am again unable to drive for 6 mos. The doctor upped my medication for now - its going to take me a while to get used to this. It has also taken several days for me to get better physically and mentally.  I may go in for more tests - not sure.

Not sure what this means for my job or life in the short term - long term. I'm going to have to assume it is going to happen again sometime...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Mille Bornes Story….

The Mille Bornes Story….

This has a humorous ending - really.  If you’ve not played the game Miles Borne do not bother reading.

My grandmother died in February about 2004 - she lived in Soo Saint Marie, Ontario - Canada.  We live in Dayton, OH.  We got a flight from Dayton to northern Michigan with a layover in Detroit.  It was cold and rainy in Dayton and our flight was late in arriving from Detroit and therefore late in returning us back. We arrived into Detroit in mix of ice and snow.  We soon learned that the flights were all canceled and found a hotel.  We got a roll-a-way for our son and went to bed hoping to fly out in the morning.  Our son woke up in the middle of the night with some sort of stomach flu and was sick every hour or two.  We had no luggage - it went on without us.  My wife dealt with our sick son while I tried find out what was going on with the tickets.  Found out we were unlikely to fly out anytime soon.  My wife turned to me and said “you can drive in this right?” - I grew up in - upper upper Michigan - driving in snow was nothing to me.  We scrapped the flight and rented a car.  It took an extra hour or two get out of metro Detroit but after that the sun was out and the roads were clear.  We pressed on with little sleep and a little one still getting sick on the clock.  We found a toddler clothes store and got him some clothes and made our way up.  We called my mom and found out she had picked up our luggage and it was in the room.  We finally made it the Canada/US border and I saw the Stop/ArrĂȘte sign and turned to my wife and yelled “coup-fourrĂ©”!  Made for a funny end to an otherwise long arduous trip.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Trees in games


What appears to be a maple see in Photosynthesis but more of a weeping willow shape

Red Maple - my yard

We assume is a Blue Spruce with a pine cone in Photosynthesis

Pine of some sort - my yard

Clearly an Oak and acorn in Photosynthesis

Giant Oak in my front yard

This one is not as clear in Photosynthesis - some guess the seed is a Linden

Some similar trees on our street

Another tree in our neighborhood with similar seeds.


Ginkgopolis leaves - real, across the street and in the game.


Jacaranda tree

Royal Poinciana - a southern tree


Most of our Lilac's are more of a bush

 2014-10-30 11 09 40 Red Maple during autumn on Lower Ferry Road in Ewing, New Jersey.JPG

Maple Tree - See above in Photosynthesis section

 Salix alba Morton.jpg

We had these in upper Michigan where I grew up


A typically southern tree


A Mediterranean tree - I saw some in Italy 

Bgbo cornus kousa var chinensis ies.jpg

Dogwood - known for being a southern tree

Oak Tree - See above in Photosynthesis section


Cassia Trees - Found is south Florida

Friday, August 4, 2017

Terrarolling Mars

Before the notice went out for the Gen Can't roll and write contest I really had no interest in designing a game.  I play games, and I talk about games on a lot of podcasts and social medial.  When I saw that one of the judges was my buddy Mason Weaver, who hates puns, as well as Suzanne Sheldon, the host of the contest, who also hates puns - I started thinking of ideas for a pun based roll and write.

My initial thoughts were to create a roll and write version of an existing game - Daniel Newman had just done this with Rolled West. 

Mason had introduced me to Kapitan Wackelpudding at BGG - a crazy dexterity based roll and move game where you stack pieces and push them around a map, when something falls it impacts the game. 

kapitan wackelpudding bgg

I tired to come up with a game with stacking dice but I was able to stack 6,7,8 dice and push them around my map quite easily without dice falling.  I then started looking a something that started to feel like a roll and move with spaces and finally gave up.

I switched over to Terraforming Mars.  I created a version with a basic concept of rolling two dice and picking one for the player and one for the dummy player.  I received some feedback that there was no tension and no engine building.

I looked retooled it to include cards.  I sorted through all the cards and came up with a selection of cards for each die roll.  I also added some tension by adding the generations track - every time you rolled doubles you marked off a generation that would speed up one of the end game conditions.  This also was a response to a "too many dice rolls" comments.  I tried to balance the card costs with making things hard to buy with out making you need too many dice rolls to get something.

The early version of the cards were actual photos of the cards.  Since the rules required no copyrighted material I decided to make the cards more generic boxes with text.  This also gave me a opportunity to rewrite the cards with puns and other silliness.  One of the card rows was city cards - I created a city card based on the home location of each of the judges.
Jr is from Dallas, Mandy is from Ottowa, Nicole from Toronto, Edo from Mt. View, and Mason from Oklahoma City.  Cupola City became Couple of Cities.

I also created some specific cards - like Nicole always calls dogs pics on twitters "pupper" and there is a pets card in the inspiration game.


This one is just silly...

The original has a card called Lake Mariners.  My buddy Nick Mariner has a twitter account called I call Yellow so I made this as a homage to him.

I actually kind of gave up on it.  I didn't get many more play testers and wasn't finding the time to do much of my own as Origins approached.  Then after Origins I got really sick and ended up in the hospital.  My son brought me my laptop after I started feeling better but was still waiting to get released so I decided to at least wrap up what I had done and get it submitted.  It definitely needs some balancing and revisions but overall I guess as my first attempt at a game at all it isn't so bad.

The final submitted version of the game can be found here.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Craig Con West

Craig Marks - actually lives east of me but his first east "con" was in Baltimore with Matt so I'm guessing one in his home town of Youngstown, OH had to be West.

My wife and started a tradition of doing over night get a way weekends while our son was still home from college to take care of the pets.  A trip to Youngstown for some games seemed like a good fit although a little farther of a drive than we usually go - about 4 hours if we were to go non-stop, but we never do.  We stopped at Grandpa's cheese barn on the way up for snacks and candy as well as all the other necessary stops.

We arrived at Craig's and introduced him to his wife Erin, son T. and we met his new baby daughter M.  There were enough folks there for two tables of games.  I had brought a ton of game, several that had already been in my car and some that I had hoped to play.

We started with Sagrada.  Erin liked this form previous plays but they didn't have it so Craig requested I bring my copy.  Cindi, Erin and I played with T.  I forgot to mark who won.

Then we moved on to Kanagawa.  This is a game we own and they all like so we knew we'd all like it.  We had a guest at the table - I forget his name - he was just there for the one game...

Andy joined us for a game of Century Spice Road.  I had wanted to play this with Cindi because I thought she'd like this and I had concidered buying it but wanted to get her thoughts before we did.  Since she won - I'm guessing she liked it.

Andy taught us Road Hog - a race game with some "take that" mechanisms.  Cindi won this too, I eeked out 2nd place.

Cindi ended her night with a group play of Herbaceous.  Another game we both own so we all enjoyed it, this was new to Andy.

Cindi was tired from the long day of travels and gaming so we checked into our hotel.  I returned for one more game.  We played a 5 player game of Pandemic the Cure with the expansion - the purple dice.  This was a pretty epic game, every time we thought for sure we were going to die we rolled just the right thing to barely survive.  We also played really well together as a team - often debating our moves but working it out in the end and moving on.

The next day Craig joined us for breakfast and one last game before we ventured off to do some sight seeing.  

Andy had recommended a metropark.  We started at the formal gardens.

From there we took a long drive and saw a covered bridge, a mill, and other cool things.

One last stop for some recommended local ice cream before we hit the road home.   

A great trip.