Games that fired other games: Muskegon Style!

The Muskegon Area Gamers are constantly trying new games. There are games that come along that seem to do everything a different game did…only better. Here is a post about just such games.

 

1. King of Tokyo (Iello Games) fired Roll through the Ages (Gryphon Games)

New Picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll through the Ages is a fun little game. Players build cities which give them more dice which in turn give them more resources to score points. It uses the age old Yahtzee mechanic of roll-reroll-reroll. There was little player interaction in it, however. Then along game King of Tokyo. This game has virtually all the strengths of Roll through the Ages but also always player to interact meaningfully. The deck of special powers gives the game tons of replayability. Roll through the Ages: you’re fired.

 

2. King of New York (Iello Games) fired King of Tokyo (Iello Games)

Muskegon loves King of New York even more
King of New York fired King of Tokyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then along came King of New York. This game allows players even more way to interact with military units in each quadrant. Furthermore, the board position is important, an element mostly missing from King of Tokyo. The dice offer more meaningful choices than 1-2-3 which were half the sides of King of Tokyo. King of Tokyo: you’re fired.

 

 

3. Letters from Whitechapel (Fantasy Flight Games) fired Fury of Dracula (Fantasy Flight Games)

New Picture (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fury of Dracula was a fine game during its day. A group of four hunters are chasing down the Dark Lord across Europe. Dracula leaves behind minions and other encounters to thwart Van Helsing and his helpers. Unfortunately, Fury of Dracula often comes down to how well you roll the dice. There are few ways to mitigate bad dice rolls and bad dice rolls dictate the outcome even when you have a strong showing. What’s a gamer to do? Well, give Letters from Whitechapel a try. The game has almost no randomness (only the turn order which is minimal). Fury of Dracula is mostly a chase game with a little bit of deduction and bluffing. Letters from Whitechapel is all deduction and bluffing.

 

4. Axis and Allies (Milton Bradley) fired Risk (Parker Brothers)

Muskegon likes Axis & Allies more than Risk.
Axis and Allies (1983 edition) versus Risk (any edition from 1959 to present)

 

 

 

Risk was the game I cut my teeth on when I was in 6th to 8th grade. Armies waged constant battles across the globe in an effort to wipe the competition off the board. Risk was never a good game however. It was simply the only game in town. When I discovered Axis and Allies in 11th grade: I was hooked! Instead of waging wars across the globe with Roman numerals, I was waging wars across the globe with aircraft carriers and bombers! Axis and Allies is at least a decent game and deserves some consideration.

 

5. History of the World (Avalon Hill) fired Axis and Allies (Milton Bradley)

History of the World is an old standby at the Gaming Annex in Muskegon
History of the World versus Axis and Allies: no competition

Axis & Allies is at least a decent game. Unfortunately, it is also at most a decent game. It deserves no extra consideration. It has not stood up to the test of time. Other games are much better. Small World comes to mind. But if you like plastic-y goodness and an historical theme, try History of the World instead. History of the World is a good game. And at times, is a great game.

 

 

6. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Fantasy Flight Games) fired Stratego (Milton Bradley)

New Picture (2)

 

I got a copy of Stratego for my 10th birthday. It was a nice twist on chess: two players, capture the flag/king, each piece has a special move or capture rule. Stratego is much more approachable than chess because chess is a hobby unto itself. But Stratego has not stood the test of time. So many other games are much better than it. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation is the quintessential example of this. Tons of replayability, more strategy and shorter playtime are the advantages of playing Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation over Stratego.

 

 

7. Gulo Gulo (Rio Grande Games) fired Candyland (Milton Bradley)

Muskegon Area Gamers recommend Gulo Gulo over Candyland
Gulo Gulo (Wolverine Wolverine in German) is sooooo much better than Candyland

Candyland was never much of game. In fact, it wasn’t even a game so much as it was an activity. And as an activity, it was a right boring one. Gulo Gulo is a much better alternative. Gulo Gulo is actually a fun game for kids and adults. The primary mechanic of color recognition that was present in Candyland is present in Gulo Gulo. But Gulo Gulo pulls it off much better. Throw Candyland away. Buy Gulo Gulo. Candyland: you’re fired. Pack your bags.

 

 

8. Betrayal at House on the Hill (Wizards of the Coast) fired Mansions of Madness (Fantasy Flight Games)

Muskegon Area Games plays and enjoys Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill is much better than Mansions of Madness…and that’s saying something

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thrilled to find out FFG was releasing a game called “Mansions of Madness”. The art work and components are top notch. The theme is Lovecraftian. What’s not to love? Then I tried it. This game is more horrific than a train wreck. What an absolute travesty this game is. After playing it three times, I realized I had to go back to the old standby: Betrayal at House on the Hills. While not perfect, Betrayal at House on the Hill is typically enjoyable–a trait that even Mansions of Madness cannot meet. Mansions of Madness: you’re fired.

 

9. Villagers and Villains (Studio 9 games) fired Thunderstone (AEG Games)

Muskegon loves Villagers & Villains (Studio 9 Games)
Villagers & Villains is easily better than Thunderstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry is probably the strangest entry in this article. Villagers & Villains fired Thunderstone. What in God’s name do these games have in common? Both are fantasy city/village themed. Both require you to “build” heroes and accouterments to defeat monsters. The drafting mechanic in Villagers & Villains is not dissimilar to the monster drafting mechanic in Thunderstone. But Thunderstone is so time consuming to set up. And there is little payoff in this deck-building game. Villagers & Villains can be played in the time that it takes to set up Thunderstone. And with tons of cards (and an expansion), Villagers & Villains has lots of replayability.

 

10. 10 Days in the USA (Out of the Box Games) fired Rack-O

10 Days in the USA: a nice diversion at Muskegon's Gaming Annex
10 Days in the USA is a good game; Rack-O is not

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rack-O is an old family game that was about as much fun as Rumy or Gin. The game was a diversion but not much fun. Out of the Box’s 10 Days in the USA is a much better choice. Players attempt to rack up 10 consecutive days of traveling a la the rack in Rack-O. But drafting and set collecting is much more meaningful than in Rack-O. Pick it up if you are looking for a family game. Rack-o: you’ve been fired. Good riddance.

 

 

Favorite Board Game Fillers

A filler board game is

filler: n. A game with very simple rules and an extremely short playing-time. This type of game is frequently used between heavier games. (See also light)

(from board game geek’s glossary.)

The Muskegon Area Gamers definitely enjoy filler games. An evening of gaming is hardly complete without one light game. So what are some good fillers?

1. For Sale (Gryphon Games)

Players take on the role of real estate investors trying to make the most cash in the real estate market. The game is played over two phase: investing and selling. Players try to buy property at the best value during phase one by clever bidding. Then they attempt to sell it for the most money in the second phase of the game. The game does a really good job of capturing the theme given the fact this is a filler with very easy to learn rules. Published numerous times over the years by several game companies, the Gryphon Edition is easily the best quality version. Best with 4 to 6 players.

Play time: approximately 10 minutes

 

2. High Society (Gryphon Games)

Players bid on numerous fancy objects (bling) to score points. The person with the most points is the winner. However, there are a few hooks. Some of the tiles are negative so you are bidding on NOT taking them. The game ends randomly when the last red-bordered tile is revealed. At game’s end the player with the least money is disqualified. Make sure you have the most points amongst the players who don’t have the least money! The hooks in the game make this game a favorite. Like For Sale, this game was published by several companies over the years but the Gryphon Games edition is far and away the best.

Play time: approximately 15 minutes

 

3. Dungeon Roll (TMG Games)

Players build their adventuring parties then delve into the dangerous dungeons. Defeat the monsters, loot the treasures and subdue the dragon. The game has push-your-luck mechanics along with action management. The game has a lot of theme for a filler. Thieves pick locks, fighters gobble goblins, wizards waste slimes and clerics scatter skeletons. Accumulating treasures and defeating the dragon give bonus points. There are several party leaders so there is tons of replayability.

 Play time: approximately 10 minutes

 

4. Liar’s Dice (Milton Bradley)

A family game that is both fun and competitive. Liar’s Dice is a game filled with bluffing and calling. Published by many companies, the Milton Bradley version is my favorite because it comes with a board and nice dice. You can pick it up at a thrift store for <$3.

 Play time: approximately 15 minutes

 

5. Eight Minute Empire (Red Raven Games)

A civ builder that plays in 15 minutes? Sign me up! Players collect goods while taking control of the board. Players attempt to outmaneuver their opponents to eek out a victory. Double sided board, expansions and variant rules breaths replayability into this game too.

 Play time: approximately 15 minutes

 

6. Mr. Jack Pocket (Hurrican)

This is an elegant little logistica;/deduction game. One player takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes and the other player takes on Mr. Jack. Mr. Jack must slip past Holmes, Watson and the dog’s dragnets and escape before Holmes determines his true identity.

 Play time: approximately 10 minutes

 

7. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (Queen Games)

Once set up is done, the race is on! You have 10 minutes to find the exit. You roll dice as fast as you can because the clock is ticking. Roll a curse? You have one fewer dice to roll. Got stuck in a room without dice? Better have your buddy come save you. This game is a romp!

 Play time: approximately 10 minutes

 

8. Tsuro (Calliope Games)

Probably my favorite tile laying game–the fact that it’s a filler is just gravy. Players attempt to navigate their ships without fleeing the board. Clever placement of your tiles is key. You don’t want to leave the board or your eliminated.

 Play time: approximately 15 minutes

 

 

Any other fillers that I forgot? Please comment below!

-Chris on behalf of the Gaming Annex

Muskegon Area Gamers: Events in October

Below is a tentative schedule of what the Muskegon Area Gamers will be playing. Check the meet up group for more details.

 

Sunday, October 5th

World of Warcraft

Muskegon World of Warcraft
Muskegon loves World of Warcraft

This monster of a game (no pun intended) takes 6+ hours to play. As such, it has been difficult to get people together to play it. However, we’ve managed to do so twice this year! Be sure to RSVP if you want to try it! Seats up to 6 players.

 

Tuesday, October 7th

Call of Cthulhu

Muskegon Call of Cthulhu
Cthulhu calls Muskegon. Will you answer?

A rare foray into roleplaying for the Muskegon Area Gamers will take place on Tuesday. This game will play 6 players + 1 game master. We are currently fully booked. But if this goes over well, this may not be our last foray into RPG’s. I’ll keep you abreast.

 

Saturday, October 11th

Poker

Poker

Our first poker game. We have the space. We have the technology. We have the capability to play Texas Hold’em. (With apologies to astronaut Steve Austin).

 

 

Sunday, October 12th

Two Player Extragavanza or Twilight Imperium

Montage 2

 

I love any game with Twilight in the title so long as it is not vampire related. We haven’t played Twilight Imperium since Ben went in the navy. And this may be the right time. However, I’m hedging my bets. If we can’t get 6+ players, we will play two player games. Matt wants to try Titan as a 2 player game. Plus we have a host of other two player games we can try out. Be sure to RSVP and voice your opinions on the meet up.

 

 Tuesday, October 14th

Open Night of Gaming

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

We’ve been discussing what games to try next. Could this be the day we finally break out Colonial: Europe’s Empires Overseas? Or will we try Here I Stand? Maybe we will fight the D-Day invasion in Memoir ’44 Overlord Campaign?

 

Sunday, October 19th

Civilization: Part 1

Muskegon Avalon Hill Civilization
Old school gaming

We will be playing the first session of what will probably take two sessions of Avalon Hill’s classic Civilization. This is some old school gaming at its finest. Players take on the ancient kingdoms before the Roman Empire. You trade, war and acquire technology. Players try to sidestep famines and epidemics in an effort to maintain some semblance of continuity. The game takes around 8 to 10 hours to play. Seats up to 8. Be sure to RSVP. Seats are going fast!

 

Sunday, October 26th

Mage Knight

The Muskegon Area Gamers plays Mage Knight about once a month.
The Muskegon Area Gamers plays Mage Knight about once a month.

Rocky and Matt wanted more Mage Knight and we are delivering. The game seats up to three. However, if we are overbooked, we could technically play two games simultaneously because the group owns two copies. Be sure to RSVP if you are interested.

 

Tuesday, October 28th

The Gaming Annex’s Halloween Game Night

Dracula's fury sieges Muskegon
The Dark Lord visits the Gaming Annex in Muskegon

An evening of laughs and horrors! Betrayal at House on the Hill? Check. Fury of Dracula? Check! Zombie board games? Probably. Letters from Whitechapel? God I hope so! Come along and get spooked!

 

Check local listings to make sure times/dates/events do not change.

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday Night Games

Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

www.facebook.com/gamingannex

 

On behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers

-Chris

The Gaming Annex’s September List

I thought it would be cool to have an ongoing segment about what games we played at the Gaming Annex so people would know what actually takes place within our four walls. Here is our September installment.

 

1. Wars of the Roses (Z-Man Games)

Wars of the Roses
Z-Man’s Wars of the Roses…a board game that Muskegon needs to play much more often

The battle between York and Lancaster heated up at the Gaming Annex. This game is quite fun for what it is. And it needs to hit the table more often.

 

2. Twilight Struggle (GMT Games)

Twilight Struggle
The Cold War is fought in Muskegon almost every Sunday. Thanks GMT Games.

The USSR defeated the USA in a game of Twilight Struggle this month. This is my second favorite game. Only TI3 is better. I love it!

 

3. The Three Musketeers (Sirius Products)

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers along with their trusty d’Artagnan slipped past the Cardinal’s dragnet of goons and deftly saved the Queen from embarrassment. This was our first play of this. And I am confident it will get much more table time in the coming months.

 

4. X-Wing MIniatures Game (Fantasy Flight Games)

X-wing base game
X-Wing Miniatures Game is The Gaming Annex’s favorite minis game.

After teaching Nate how to play, he went on to defeat me 🙁 His Green Squadron Pilot (A-Wing) slapped the #%$@ out of Darth Vader. Now I have to trade this game.

 

5. Perry Rhodan and the Cosmic League (Kosmos)

Perry Rhodan
Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League is a solid offering from Kosmos & Z-Man games.

Players take turns picking up/delivering in this action-move game. It only accommodates two players but it plays two players very well. 30 minute run time is also attractive.

 

6. Pirate’s Cove (Days of Wonder)

Pirate's Cove
Pirate’s Cove is a good, family game. Arrr!

 

We took to the high seas with this adventure game. Tense battles and lots of booty were had by all.

 

7. Martinique (White Goblin Games)

Martinique
The Gaming Annex set sail for Martinique (from White Goblin Games)

Martinique is a nice tactical/logistical/deduction game for two. The pirate theme is totally pasted on but that shouldn’t detract from this otherwise filler-esque game.

 

8. High Society (Gryphon Games)

High Society
There’s plenty of High Society at The Gaming Annex.

A nice 4 to 5 player filler, High Society sees lots of table time at the Gaming Annex. It’s got a few hooks that keep the game interesting.

 

9. A Game of Thrones 2nd Edition (Fantasy Flight)

A Game of Thrones
The war for Westeros was finally decided. Historians called it, “The Siege of Muskegon”.

We had a six player game of A Game of Thrones this month. We used the expansion A Dance of Dragons. This expansion gives a different set up to the normal rules. It was quite good.

 

10. Formula D (Asmodee Games)

Formula D from Asmodee Games
Formula 1 Racing in Muskegon

We played the full rules to Formula D. This game has it all: thrills, spills and chills. If you do not like NASCAR or other forms of racing, you will still like this game. I am not a fan of NASCAR or its ilk either. But I do like this game.

 

11. Fury of Dracula (Fantasy Flight games)

The Dark Lord visits the Gaming Annex in Muskegon
The Dark Lord visits the Gaming Annex in Muskegon

We cut our teeth on Fury of Dracula. Nate, who loves this game, had never had the chance to play as Dracula. Nick and I hunted him across the North Sea and the English Isles. We trapped him in Iberia where we finally buried the stake, sending him to the nether reaches.

 

12. Dungeon Roll (TMG Games)

The Muskegon Area Gamers assembled their adventurers in Dungeon Roll.
The Muskegon Area Gamers assembled their adventurers in Dungeon Roll.

Dungeon Roll is my favorite 2 player filler. The theme is quite good for a filler. And the decisions you make are often tough.

 

13. Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War (Stronghold Games)

Stronghold Game's Confusion is a favorite at the Gaming Annex in Muskegon
Stronghold Game’s Confusion is a favorite at the Gaming Annex in Muskegon

We played a tense game of Confusion. This is a deduction/logistical game where players know how their opponent’s pieces move but must deduce how their own pieces move. It’s very good but can be heavy.

 

14. Memoir ’44 (Days of Wonder)

Muskegon Loves Memoir '44.
Muskegon Loves Memoir ’44.

We played several scenarios of Memoir ’44 this month. This game is fantastic! I love the hand management aspect. I love trying to set traps for my opponents. I highly recommend it.

 

15. Mage Knight (Wizkids Games)

The Muskegon Area Gamers plays Mage Knight about once a month.
The Muskegon Area Gamers plays Mage Knight about once a month.

 

Epilogue

As you can see, we have eclectic gaming tastes. And we certainly do not agree unilaterally on any game. This is also an abbreviated list of games. We played several more than what is listed but all of them cannot be crammed into a single post.

See you in October!

Our 2014 Bucket List

Late in 2013, the Muskegon Area Gamers had a discussion about what games and/or events we wanted to accomplish in 2014. There were about fourteen or so who gave contributions. In no particular order, here is what was discussed and what we’ve accomplished.

 

1. Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium box
Muskegon Area Gamers: we love Twilight Imperium

We resolved to play Twilight Imperium. Lots of TI3. We have accomplished this. But we also resolved to play The Long War–a 14 victory point saga of Twilight Imperium. As of this posting, we are still trying to get this scheduled. The constraint? We need eight players who will commit to coming to two consecutive Sundays to finish this beast. Due to various gamer/recruitment snags, we have not yet accomplished our goal of playing Twilight Imperium the Long War.

 

2. Avalon Hill’s Civilization

Civilization game box
Avalon Hill’s Civilization in Muskegon, MI

I used to play Civilization back in the day. Then we moved on to other gaming areas. But some of our group had never played and wanted to try it really badly. We managed to play this twice in 2014. We also have it slated again for a Sunday in October (see our meetup if you want in). The game was a success, as you can imagine.

 

3. Pax Britannica

Pax Britanica
Old time board game: Pax Britannica

I’ve read the rules to Pax Britannica three times now. And we still haven’t managed to get it to the table yet. This game has everything that our group would find interesting: negotiation, tactics, economics, historical theme. If we can set aside 7 hours on a Sunday to get it played, we will have an uproariously good time.

 

4. Formula D: with the advanced rules

Formula D
The Muskegon Area Gamers love Formula D. Or they at least tolerate it.

I’ve always enjoyed the base game of Formula D. But some members of the Muskegon Area Gamers didn’t like it so much. The desire to try the advanced rules has been mentioned many times. Well, we’ve finally tried it (twice!) in 2014. The advanced rules modify how you take damage, requiring players to manage several systems on their race card. These include brakes, body damage, tires and gear box. The advanced rules were a success and we will never look back.

 

5. Titan

Titan
Titan from Valley Games. Titan is good; Valley Games is bad.

 

Matt bought the newer Valley Games’ edition of Titan, an old Avalon Hill game from back in the day. Matt had fond memories of this game and thought he would enjoy it with his new group in Muskegon. Valley Games, unfortunately, is a horrible game company and Matt’s copy of Titan (which cost him a small fortune) suffered from water damage from the boat trip from Asia. Boooooo Valley Games!

We did try this nonetheless. It was an intro with three of us. The game is kinda cool but might take a long time considering the object is player elimination. A full game of this may be scheduled in December. Check or comment on the meetup if you want to try it sooner.

 

6. Mage Knight

Mage Knight
Mage Knight is a favorite in the 49441

 

A few of our gamers are very fond of Vlaada Chvatil’s Mage Knight from Wizkids Games. So much are they enamored that they want it to get played once a month. It’s on the docket for tomorrow. If our showing is strong, it will be put on the docket again in November.

This game is a very heavy strategy game with lots of moving parts. To fully appreciate it, one would have to play it about five times in order to really be competitive.

 

7. Cabin Con in Gun Lake, Michigan

Map of Gun Lake
Gun Lake: where the gamers in Muskegon go to camp + game

 

We go to GenCon every year. Since GrandCon is so close to Muskegon, we usually go there as well. But what we liked most about all these conventions is just playing games. So why don’t we have our own convention? Dusty put together a trip for six of us. We spent the weekend in a cabin. We cooked our meals outside. We played games non-stop for three days. It was by far, the biggest success we’ve had this year.

 

8. A foray into Roleplaying games

Cthulhu
Cthulhu calls Muskegon. Will you answer?

Many of us board gamers were one time RPG’ers. We simply moved onto better rules, better games, better everything. But the RPG’er in us wouldn’t die. We have discussed the possibility of doing a one-off RPG session. Kevin, one of our regulars, is very theatrical and loves doing storytelling/RPG stuff. He has a Cthulhu session that he wants us to try. The session is slated for October, just in time for Halloween.

 

9. Memoir ’44: Overlord Campaign

memoir-44-sword-beach-800
Memoir ’44

I love Memoir ’44. It’s so much fun playing with toy tanks and infantry. And managing your hand to maximum the effectiveness of your units is very fun. The Overlord rules for Memoir ’44 look intriguing. Four players to a side with one of them acting as the general. He manages the hand of cards for his side. And then issues the cards to them. The cooperative/competitive nature sounds like it will be a coup-de-grace with our game group. Dusty has the rules. The game will probably take place in October or November. Check the schedule on meetup.

 

10. Blood Royale from Games Workshop

 

 

Blood Royale

 

GW’s Blood Royale was recommended to our group. On paper, this game appears to have everything we would like: negotiation, trade, warfare, conflict, deal making and deal breaking. In practice, it went over like a lead balloon. We tried it twice. We failed it twice. Jon’s copy and my copy went the way of the Dodo. Too bad. We really thought this game would rival Republic of Rome and Civilization.

 

-Chris

On behalf of the Gaming Annex in Muskegon

Gaming Photography: My schtick

I will often buy new games (or make trades for used games). I took a picture of one such purchase/trade and posted it on facebook. It seemed everyone was more interested in what was going on in the background of the photo than the games themselves. I was watching The Rockford Files and I incidentally caught James Garner’s profile while in his gold Firebird Esprit. This started my gaming photography schtick.

1. Tide of Iron + Bioshock: Siege of Columbia + Sentinels of the Multiverse (Jim Rockford in a Firebird Esprit).

Tide of Iron + Sentinels of the Multiverse + Bioshock
Tide of Iron + Sentinels of the Multiverse + Bioshock

 

A trilogy of games I received in trade, I thought it would be cool to let everyone know what was added to my collection. But it seems my nongaming friends and family like James Garner more than they like Tide of Iron.

 

2. Bootleggers + Bootleggers Boardwalk + Eminent Domain: Escalation (Tom Magnum in Ferrari 308 GTS)

Bootleggers + Bootleggers Boardwalk + Eminent Domain: Escalation
Bootleggers + Bootleggers Boardwalk + Eminent Domain: Escalation

A trilogy of purchases this time. I was perusing my purchasing while catching up on the 2nd season of Magnum P.I.

 

3. Cash-a-Catch + Conquest of the Empire + Sentinels of the Multiverse: Rook City and Relics (Crockett and Tubbs in a Ferrari Testarossa)

Conquest of the Empire + Cash-a-Catch + Sentinels of the Multiverse
Conquest of the Empire + Cash-a-Catch + Sentinels of the Multiverse

 

I made a trip to Out of the Box Games in Zeeland, MI (http://www.ootbgames.com/main/). I picked up Cash-a-Catch and the sequel to Sentinels of the Multiverse. That day, a game came in the mail from a trade I made: Conquest of the Empire. While in new-game-ecstasy, I turned on the 3rd season of Miami Vice.

 

 

4. Twilight Imperium: Shards of the Throne + the remaining sets of A Game of Thrones: LCG (Stringfellow Hawke in a Bell 222)

Twilight Imperium + A Game of Thrones LCG
Twilight Imperium + A Game of Thrones LCG

Rocky, Matt and Jeremy Scott Pyne and I enjoy playing AGOT:LCG a few times a month. We joined the party a little late so we needed to get the remaining packs so we had one of every card. Also, I wanted two copies of TI3 (I have plastic for every race!). I was so excited to have the complete set of AGOT:LCG cards that I turned on the first season of Airwolf! RIP Ernest Borgnine.

5. A Game of Thrones: resin house cards + Formula D: New Jersey/Sotchi + some spare parts for Blokus (Bo and Luke in a Dodge Challenger outside the Boar’s Nest)

Formula D + A Game of Thrones LCG
Formula D + A Game of Thrones LCG

Our love of AGOT:LCG boiled over when we got the resin house cards. I found a thrift store copy of Blokus that was missing several pieces. Luckily Out of the Box squared me away with their spare parts shelf! I love me some Formula D so the latest map was a no-brainer. I wanted to share this special moment with them Duke Boys. A pattern began to emerge in my gaming photography. It seems I like nostalgia with my new game acquisitions.

 

6. Here I Stand + Bootleggers + Bootleggers: The Boardwalk (Michael Knight in a Trans Am)

Here I Stand + Bootleggers
Here I Stand + Bootleggers

 

I always liked Bootleggers. But the last few times we played it left a bad, predictable taste in my mouth. The expansion promised to address some of my concerns. I picked up the base game (I traded my original copy during the Bush administration) along with the expansion. I got Here I Stand in trade on the same day. I am really looking forward to playing Here I Stand. Kevin (a member of our group), has begun the task of reading the rules. I decided to watch Knight Rider while flipping through the games’ components.

7. Colonial: Europe’s Empires Overseas + Helvetia Cup + Blood Royale (Lt. Keffer in a Starfury)

B5

I’ve been on the lookout for a game that embraced Endeavor’s theme but was meatier. Colonial seems to fit the bill. We haven’t played it yet but it’s going to hit the table really soon! I demoed Helvetia Cup at Gencon in 2013. I liked it enough to buy a copy. I heard good things about Blood Royale (boy was I deceived!). While reading the rules to Colonial, I picked up where I left off in Babylon 5 (the 2nd season). I noticed about this time, that in addition to having a taste of nostalgia that I also seemed to capture TV characters in their iconic vehicles. Here we see an Earth Force Starfury manned by the doomed Lt. Keffer.

 

8.  Legends of Andor + Carson City (Mystery Incorporated in the Mystery Machine)

Legends of Andor + Carson City
Legends of Andor + Carson City

Descent 2nd Edition didn’t go over nearly as well as I had hoped it would. Our group was not a fan 🙁 I picked up Legends of Andor and Carson City in trade. Legends has been a nice fit so far. We’ve played the first 3 scenarios. Carson City hasn’t gotten any attention yet but I think it will be a good fit when it hits the table. The Cartoon Network’s “Scooby Doo: Mystery Inc” is my favorite iteration of the Scooby Doo franchise. Here I am watching an episode near the end of the first season.

 

9. Napoleon in Europe + Mississippi Queen + Fist of Dragonstones (Starbuck in a Colonial Viper)

BSG

Napoleon in Europe looks like a game that will fit our group nicely. Diplomacy? Check. War? Check. Multi-player interaction? Check! Bruce has been assigned to read the rules. I’ll have to bug him about that :/ Meanwhile, I’ve always liked racing games and Mississippi Queen looks pretty spiffy. I got all three of these games in one trade. I think I had to send my counterpart 7 games for them. It was a fair trade overall. While looking over the plasticy goodness of Napoleon in Europe, I watched Apollo and Starbuck blast Cylons out of the stars.

 

10. Battle of the Five Armies + Agent Hunter + Black Fleet (U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek)

 

 

The Battle of the Five Armies + Black Fleet + Agent Hunter
The Battle of the Five Armies + Black Fleet + Agent Hunter

I’m a huge fan of War of the Ring. The Battle of the Five Armies is a no-brainer. This will hit the table with great speed and great success. I demoed Agent Hunter at Gencon last year. I thought it was a nice filler. Black Fleet looks like it will be a good counter to Merchants and Marauders. It might address some of my concerns with M&M. The crew of the Enterprise? They were surrounded by three Romulan ships in episode 57: The Enterprise Incident.

 

What new games will enter my collection in the coming weeks and months? More importantly: what nostalgia TV show with accompanying iconic vehicle will be captured in the background?

-Chris on behalf of the Gaming Annex in Muskegon

Board Game Thrifting in Muskegon

I frequent thrift stores quite a bit. I am always on the look out for inexpensive board games to add to my already bloated collection. The work of driving to several stores and looking through shelves of Candyland and Monopoly can often yield a diamond. Below is a list of my most recent thrifting excursion.

1. Atmosfear: The DVD Board Game

Atmosfear
Atmosfear: The DVD Game

 

This game has a decent resale value. For my $2 investment, I got a complete copy of this 90’s classic. I put it on eBay. It sold right away!

 

2. Can’t Stop

Can't stop
Can’t Stop

This Sid Sackson classic still sees some table time with my group. A member of my group has dibs on it so I am going to give it to him.

 

3. Clue: Museum Caper

Museum
Clue: The Great Museum Caper

This version of Clue uses a secret movement mechanic and pits the group against one player (the Thief). I think this game may see some table time soon.

 

4. Dungeon Dice

Dungeon Dice
Dungeon Dice

I always wanted this game when I was a kid. Indeed the game was released when I was 5. I was first exposed to it a my older cousin’s house. I lost but I knew that I wanted this game. Thirty five years and two dollars later and I own it!

 

5. Battleship Command: Pirates of the Caribbean

pic382362
Battleship Command: Pirates of the Caribbean

I picked up Battleship Command: Pirates of the Caribbean at the Goodwill in North Muskegon. This game appears to solve some of the issues that Milton Bradley’s classic Battleship game. You get special powers. Each ship has a sweet spot where it is auto-sunk. You score points.

 

6. Risk: Battlefield Rogue

Risk
Risk: Battlefield Rogue

The Goodwill Stores in our area have a surplus of unused Risk: Battlefield Rogue games. I got two copies for $2.99 each. Still sealed. Color me happy.

 

7. Risk: 2210 AD

2210
Risk 2210 A.D.

Risk: 2210 AD holds its value quite well for a Risk iteration. In fact it’s decently rated on boardgamegeek.com. For $4.99 I picked it up.

 

“Shut up and take my money!” Muskegon style!

shut up

 

The Gaming Annex will be updating its gaming library to include the following releases. If these publishers would simply shut up and take my money, I’d already own these games!

 

 

Cyclades Expansion: Titans

Cyclades titans

Cyclades is a decent game. With the Hades expansion, it becomes a great game. I cannot even fathom how good this game will be with Titans! Scratch $60 from my wallet right now.

 

Kemet expansion: Ta-Seti

Kemet

Kemet is a decent alternative to games like Small World where you want the combat interaction of a game but don’t want a 3+ hour marathon like a GMT offering. The expansion will add a fourth pyramid color (black) which I can only imagine will be necromantic in nature. The replayability of this game will increase and the strategy considerations will jump. I can hardly wait. Scratch another $50 from my wallet.

 

Star Trek Fleet Captains: Dominion

ST FC

The Romulan expansion turned this game into one of my favorite 3 player games. The Dominion expansion? That should make the 3 player meta of this game even richer. This game has so much potential that I hope Wizkids nurtures it. Scratch another $40 from my wallet. How much is that now?

 

Expansion for Letters from Whitechapel

LfWC

Letters from Whitechapel is like Scotland or Fury of Dracula. Except I like Letters from Whitechapel a lot more. I love playing the detectives and trying to out think Jack. Others love playing Jack and trying to slyly slip past my dragnet. The game is a solid “9” (if not a “10”) in my book. I’m really curious what the expansion could add. I trust the design team enough to scratch $30 from my wallet.

 

Clash of Cultures: Civilizations

Clash of Cultures

Clash of Cultures is a game that I do not get to play enough of. The expansion promises to make each player’s starting civilization unique. I already love this game. And the expansion gives me more plastic, more replayability and more theme. And you know what that means: scratch $50 from my wallet.

 

 

Merchants & Marauders expansion

M&M

The same publisher and designer as Clash of Cultures, Merchants and Marauders is a swash-buckling adventure on the high seas. Despite its swingy dice and card draws, this game is a welcome addition to my collection. The expansion? I don’t even care. Just take my $50.

 

 

Star Wars Armada

armada

Does Fantasy Flight Games offer a direct deposit program whereby I can have my paychecks go directly to them? That would save all of us some time. Because at this rate, my Fantasy Flight purchases will be outpacing my mortgage and student loan payments. Star Wars Armada will be to grand scale space combat what FFG’s X-Wing miniatures were to space dog fights. Same universe, same quality of components–BETTER THEME! Scratch approximately $500 from my wallet.

 

Can anyone think of any other games that The Gaming Annex is going to need? Please comment below.

Twilight Imperium: Bureaucracy versus Imperial II

I know this discussion has been started several times before, but not recently, and I feel like I have some new insights to the eternal question: Imperial II or Bureaucracy?

Note: I’m not going to discuss Initiative/Political/Logistics vs. Leadership/Assembly/Production. They are pretty comparable, really, with just a few nuances that matter. The decision between Imperial II and Bureaucracy has much larger ramifications for how the game is played at its core, so I will limit my comments accordingly.

First, some background. Feel free to skip ahead to the relevant stuff if my personal history with TI3 bores you. I owned TI3 before Shattered Empire came out, but I never got a chance to play it until after. So, my first game of TI3 used the base set of Strategy Cards, with Imperial thrown out in favor of his younger brother, Imperial II. I cut my TI3eth on about a dozen games of Imperial II before my game group mustered up the courage to try Bureaucracy. Part of this trend was the nature of our group; it was fluid, with people coming and going, so it seemed that there was always a rookie or two to teach, so Bureaucracy’s grand entrance into our lives kept getting delayed.

Finally, though, the moment arrived. Bureaucracy came in, all sparkly and new, looking very modern compared to his provincial cousins, the Imperials. Plus, he brought his friends along: Leadership, Assembly, and Production. Man, this was the TI3 we’d been missing. Still, something was off for me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it… Bureaucracy didn’t quite sit right in my mind, and the games seemed less satisfying. Was I just stubborn and unwilling to embrace change? Or was there really something amiss?

Now, I’ve played many games with Bureaucracy. I understand him better, and I understand TI3 better. I’ve come to some Conclusions.

Conclusion 1: Bureaucracy makes for a Tactical game. Imperial II makes for a Strategic game.

Explanation: Imperial II forces Age of Empires on you, whereby the Public Objectives are known by all players from the very start. On turn 1, you can (and must) begin planning your strategy for claiming Objectives, balanced by the viability of scoring your Secret Objective and/or claiming points for controlling Mecatol Rex. There are very likely some Objectives that you can score on Turns 1 or 2, and some that you will have to work towards. So, you develop a plan for pursuing the short term goals and the long term goals. It’s cerebral and exhausting, but it’s also difficult to get totally boned by the Public Objectives. You have options, and you can even purposefully fall behind in the race, make a plan to claim Imperial II to score several Objectives, and catch up (although, as I discuss below, this is risky). In any case, it’s strategy all the way.

Bureaucracy, on the other hand, rewards tactical play. You don’t know what the Public Objectives are, beyond the first one, so claiming Bureaucracy early to gather information is important. In the meantime, if you are lucky, the first Objective or two are nice to you, and you can score them quickly. If they aren’t… well, frankly you are a bit fucked, and you need to get your hands on Bureaucracy ASAP for damage control. In the meanwhile, you try to expand, to research, to collect Trade Goods, to build ships… all the usual stuff, but geared towards what Public Objectives your gut tells you will come out later. It’s guesswork, but doing a bit of everything will keep you flexible for when the flop finally favors you. You are playing a tactical game where you need to seize opportunities as they are presented, roll with the punches, and change your plans as new shit comes to light. If you fall behind, Bureaucracy will help you catch up a bit, but it’s less forgiving than Imperial II, which brings me nicely to my next Conclusion.

Conclusion 2: Bureaucracy as a catchup mechanic is too weak for a game where you need it more. Imperial II as a catchup mechanic is too powerful for a game where you need it less.

Explanation: In the Strategic Imperial II game, players should have a plan if they wish to be competitive. That plan could include a late-game Imperial II grab to score a bunch of points for the win, but that really only works if the other players are asleep at the wheel. Imperial II has less need for savvy players to make that big comeback. They knew what the Objectives were all along, and they knew how long they had to score them, so they either made a bad plan or didn’t provide enough disincentives to keep the others from wrecking their plan. A really efficient player can sometimes use Imperial II to jump out to a lead by scoring an extra Objective in addition to scoring one every round. That’s a tough lead to catch up to, so Imperial II rewards good play. And even if you don’t hold Mecatol Rex and don’t have any extra Objectives to score, then Imperial II’s Secondary-as-a-Primary is a decent booby prize. Not terrible, but not great, and at least it doesn’t benefit your opponents.

In the tactical Bureaucracy game, usually a few people are going to be behind the pack. Some players will find that the Public Objectives score themselves based on starting resources or galaxy layout. Others will have to wait for their big moment, as the initial few Objectives are risky, expensive, or flat-out impossible to score early. However, Bureaucracy only lets the holder score one extra Objective. Sure, it’s outside the normal procedure, so in the late game it can create a bubble victory, but as a catchup mechanic, it will only make up for one bad turn. And since Bureaucracy is so powerful at every phase of the game, it’s unlikely one player will get it more than once. In the early game, you use it to tweak the Objectives, and in the mid- to late-game, you use it to win via out-of-Status Phase scoring or Imperium Rex. Bureaucracy just doesn’t reward solid play as much as Imperial II does; a player’s success depends a bit more on the whims of Fortune. Again, segway.

Conclusion 3: Bureaucracy introduces more luck into TI3 than Imperial II does.

Explanation : As discussed above, when playing with Bureaucracy, the Objectives in the early game can set a player ahead or back based solely on luck of the draw. One player per turn can possibly mitigate this by claiming Bureaucracy and deciding which new Objective comes out. But even this is a gamble. It sometimes happens that the choice comes down to the lesser of two evils, if that. If both Objectives are bad for the phasing player, then he can try to pick one that helps the fewest number of his opponents, or maybe just the one(s) in the lead.

Granted, with Imperial II, the Objectives are rarely balanced for all players; some are going to have inherent advantages based on race and board positioning. Still, the underdogs know this from the outset, and there is always holding Mecatol Rex for a VP a turn to make up for any shortcomings in the spread. The poor bastards behind the 8 ball at least know their situation, and they can craft a daring plan to reverse it. Pulling off a win this way is extremely satisfying, and even just staying competitive is rewarding.

With Bureaucracy, you may not know just how screwed you are until it is too late to do anything about it. In the meantime, you drift rudderless, posturing with your opponents and going through the motions, hoping that at some point, a game shows up.

Final thoughts: Which card is better for you and your group? That depends on what you like. Do you prefer drier strategic games with limited luck factor and more of an emphasis on planning and efficiency? Or do you prefer a dynamic game that throws you a few haymakers along the way, forcing you to adapt to a changing situation where victory can often hinge on a card draw?

Jon (on behalf of The Muskegon Area Gamers and the Gaming Annex)

Twilight Imperium: Sardakk N’orr opening strategy

Its_a_trap
Admiral Ackbar: It’s a trap!

The Sardakk N’orr are considered one of the bottom tiered races in Twilight Imperium. Their racial ability gives them a straight up +1 bonus to all combat rolls. Their trade agreements are mediocre. Their starting fleet is a mere two ships. Their home system is mediocre. So how does one win with the Sardakk N’orr? Let’s discuss opening strategy today. This discussion will assume you are using the strategy cards from Shattered Empire. The biggest weakness of the Bugs is the fact they have a slow start. They start with only one carrier. One of the biggest traps newbies make with the N’orr is to think you can offset this slow beginning by getting a second carrier. This is a trap! The Sardakk N’orr do not need a second carrier. That would be a massive waste of three resources! DON”T BUY A SECOND CARRIER FOR THE SARDAKK N’ORR UNTIL YOU’VE BUILT ALL YOUR SPACE DOCKS AND HAVE A STEADY ECONOMY! So what should the N’orr buy?

  1. They start with Deep Space Cannons. Buy more PDS’s to protect your investments. The N’orr combat advantage applies to their PDS’s. Use it. Buy all your PDS’s and place them strategically.
  2. The N’orr start with Hylar V Assault Lasers. Buy cruisers and destroyers. The more you have, the more +1 combat rolls you’ll get.
  3. All your space docks. The more units you can produce, the more +1 combat rolls you will get.
StrategyCard-Leadership
Leadership Strategy Card
StrategyCard-Diplomacy2
Diplomacy II Strategy Card
StrategyCard-Assembly
Assembly Strategy Card

The Sardakk N’orr, like any race, will choose a strategy card at the beginning of the game. Unlike many races, however, ALL the strategy cards are quite useful to the Sardakk N’orr. Some races get diminished utility from some strategy cards (like the Jol Nar with Technology, or the Xxcha with Diplomacy). This is not true with the N’orr. They get full value from any single choice. Let’s take a look. 1. Leadership   If the Sardakk N’orr land Leadership on the first round, they can beef up their fleet supply immediately. They will be good to go for some time. The Sardakk N’orr racial ability is +1 per combat roll. This means if the N’orr have 8 ships, they are get +1 for each of those 8 ships! The bigger your fleet supply, the greater your racial advantage. No other race get a reciprocal value from Leadership that the Bugs get.   2. Diplomacy The Sardakk N’orr start with one cruiser, one carrier, five ground forces and one PDS. With only one carrier, they get a slow start. Diplomacy will offset this a bit. You will conquer an additional planet. Since buying a second carrier is ill-advised (see above), Diplomacy is a good alternative.   3. Assembly Assembly will give you several options depending upon the card draws.

  • If you get some action cards that are useful in the early games, your strategy should be steered in that direction.
  • If you get a political card that you want to vote upon, now you can play it.
  • If you want to give the Speaker token to the player on your right (you’d pick second next round)–get some value from that player. He would pick dead last otherwise. Have him cough up a few trade goods. You’ll still pick second plus you got some economy. And you can play a political card of your own.
StrategyCard-Production
Production Strategy Card
StrategyCard-Trade2
Trade II Strategy Card
StrategyCard-Warfare2
Warfare II Strategy Card
StrategyCard-Technology2
Technology II Strategy Card
StrategyCard-Bureacracy
Bureaucracy Strategy Card

4. Production Production is probably one of the best choices for you. No strategy card choice is bad; but Production is particularly good. You’ll have 6 resources to spend instead of 4. You’ll be able to afford a PDS plus 4 resources worth of ground forces and destroyers. This isn’t really optional. If you’re the Sardakk N’orr and you are NOT buying PDS’s in the early game, you are going to sink. And the more ground forces you have, the better. Production also will allow you to save a command counter. You’ll conquer a nearby system with your starting forces. Then you’ll activate Production, building more material in your home system. Then you pass. You’ll have a sizable force plus extra command counters. This gives the N’orr an edge in negotiation.   5. Trade Trade will allow you to get 3 trades, allowing you to purchase even more material than Production (see above). But you’ll have to spend an extra command counter versus Production. As such, you’ll need some more value from a Trade SC selection. Make sure you trade with the right players. And deny trade agreements to everyone but your trade partners. If you or your partners get Trade next round, reap the whirlwind again. Rinse and Repeat.   6. Warfare Warfare is the weakest choice for the N’orr on the first turn. But if played correctly, Warfare will get you near Mecatol Rex a round sooner than everyone else. And when you use Warfare, you should bring all your material: 5 ground forces and the PDS. When you drop this off on Mecatol Rex next round, you will have more material there than anyone except the Muatt can challenge. If you have a Mecatol Rex based secret objective, you are 2VP closer to winning! If you do not have such an objective, at least you are denying your opponents the same chance of scoring their objectives. Plus you’ll get 6 influence a round.   7. Technology Next to Production, Technology is the best choice. If the N’orr get Technology on the first turn, you should seriously consider going for War Suns. Take Enviro Compensator and begin your War Sun tech path. Enviro Compensator is more than a journeyman technology to War Suns. It gives you +1 build capacity per space dock. This translates into more material which gives you more +1 combat bonuses. Enviro Compensator also gives you the prerequisite to Sarween Tools which will give you a nice boost to your economy. Taking Tech in order to get Enviro Compensator may see less than spectacular but the Sardakk don’t do anything spectacular in the early game. Wait until you churn out a war sun in the fourth or fifth round. Then the Sardakk N’orr will shine!   8. Bureaucracy Bureaucracy as a strategy card pick on the first round is always iffy. The Sardakk N’orr are no exception. It’s not a bad choice by any means. But it’s utility will largely depend upon the luck of the objective deck. If you can turn the knowledge of the upcoming objectives into an advantage, then it was a great pick! If not, then you got unlucky. At least you know what is coming and can prepare alternatives.   Their opening game is unforgiving compared to other races. The Sardakk N’orr, if played with a strong opening, will be a contender late in the game.

The Gaming Annex in Muskegon