What I’m Grateful for this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers! In between engorging myself with turkey and pumpkin pie, I think I should take some time to be thankful. The Muskegon Area Gamers has a lot to be thankful in 2017. Here a few of our blessings.

What I’m Grateful for this Thanksgiving

Our club, our new location and our continued success

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

In June of this year we got a notice. The new owner of 1976-1996 W Sherman Blvd was evicting the thrift store at 1996. He said The Gaming Annex could stay. But the writing was on the wall. I had had my eye on 851 W Laketon for a while. With the recent takeover at Sherman, I decided to pursue the commercial property on Laketon.

The new space is much larger than The (old) Gaming Annex. That alone would make me thankful. But the outpouring of support from our group during the move was amazing. We had tons of support from our regulars. And for that I am truly grateful.

Our group also continues to thrive. Long time readers know I take attendance at all our club sanctioned events. I’ve been doing this since 2014. Our group saw a bump in attendance in 2016 over 2015. A noticeable bump. And 2017 has seen another bump over 2016! We are seeing a positive growth in our club of around 3% to 5%. This is excellent news because it means we will continue to have people to game with. I am thankful for our club’s success.

But enough of the mushy stuff–what I am really REALLY grateful for is board games. Let’s take a look at a few.

GMT’s Here I Stand

Here I Stand GMT Board gaming Thanksgiving
GMT’s Here I Stand

We had the opportunity to play GMT’s Here I Stand recently. I’ve played it four times now. And each time I play it, I bumped up my rating of it on boardgamegeek. I have finally rated it a perfect 10. It is on par with Twilight Imperium, Twilight Struggle and Clash of Cultures. Here I Stand is everything I want in board gaming.

There is asymmetry. King Henry VIII must marry through all his wives so he can get an heir. The French must stave off Hapsburg invasions and continue to control Milan to get points. The Pope must take Florence and Venice while beating back the Protestants. And the Ottomans? They raid the Hapsburgs and French while defeating Hungary.

Knights of St. John
Knights of St. John

You can play major powers that appeal to your play style. Or you can get out of your comfort zone and play a major power with strengths very different than what you are used to. You can pressure your opponents with military might. Or you can make an alliance with another player. You can play cards on their behalf or loan your ships to them. But in the end only one player can win.

Because of the myriad ways to win and to play, Here I Stand is intriguing. It is complex and deep. It’s also historical (based on the Protestant Reformation). I am thankful for getting to play this wonderful game.

Endeavor is getting a reprint

Endeavor 2nd Edition
Endeavor 2nd Edition

I love Endeavor. I bought it as soon as Out of the Box received a copy of it. I made Bruce, Jeremy (Scott) Pyne and [name redacted] play it with me as much as they could tolerate. It never got old (to me).

Endeavor is a Euro. It’s almost Puerto Rico-like in its low randomness. Like most Euros, Endeavor comes down to timing.  If you strike at the correct moment, you will win. That, and forcing your opponent to make a suboptimal move.

While a Euro, Endeavor has some theme. The European powers are conquering Europe and the Near East while exploring the rest of the world. The map is uniquely designed to recreate the explorations the European powers made. And the 2nd edition is going to take this a step further.

Endeavor the Spanish Main
Endeavor the Spanish Main

Among the changes, Endeavor 2nd Edition will have “exploits”. These will be objectives available to players for the whole game. Not only will they help you score points, they will help create a narrative for each game. I’m also looking forward to the new setups and new buildings.

ZMan only did one printing of Endeavor 1st edition. I was lucky enough to get a copy. But I’m thankful that a new generation of gamers will be exposed to this wonderful game with the new edition.

And speaking of new editions…

I am grateful for the 4th Edition of Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium 4th edition components
Twilight Imperium 4th edition components

The news was a shockwave from boardgamegeek all the way to Muskegon: Fantasy Flight was going to update Twilight Imperium with a 4th edition. And all we had to do was talk Dr. Steve into going to Indianapolis to buy us two copies.

Muskegon loves Twilight Imperium 4th Edition
Twilight Imperium 4th Edition from Fantasy Flight Games

I knew Fantasy Flight wasn’t done with their TI franchise since it was their flagship. But I thought they would make another expansion.

The new edition is a tour de force. It fixes many of the flaws in TI3. The tech tree is streamlined and much more interesting. Deal making and politicking are streamlined and are (also) much more interesting. They removed distant suns and a few other things. Odds are FFG will be adding expansions which will have streamlined distant suns.

And when they do, I’ll be thankful for that as well!

Whitehall Mystery

Whitehall Mysteries
Whitehall Mysteries

Whitehall Mystery is exceptional. It uses the magnificent movement mechanics of Letters from Whitechapel and turns it into something different. Both games are great. And to its credit, Whitehall Mystery does not scratch the same itch as Letters.

In Whitehall Mystery, one team is the constables who pick up clues. The other team is played by one player who moves his murderer secretly around the board. While this sounds similar to Letters from Whitechapel, it plays and feels different. Whitehall is almost all chasing with a little bit of deduction whereas Letters from Whitechapel is about equal portions of chase and deduction.

Where is our murderer going?
Where is our murderer going?

The heat is always nearby the antagonist. Every move he makes is within arm’s length of one of the constables. And when he reaches his first destination, the board does not fully reset; the constables stay in their location along with the murderer. Now he must get to his next destination. This continues until he’s made four “deliveries” or until he is captured.

If you haven’t played Whitehall Mystery, you owe it to yourself to come by The Gaming Annex and play. It’s quite good.

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