Tag Archives: Muskegon Area Gamers

The Gaming Annex’s October Wrap Up

Here is a list of the games we played this past month. If you weren’t here, then you missed out! Check out our meet up or facebook page and RSVP.

1. Mage Wars

The Muskegon Area Gamers love Mage Wars more than Magic: The Gathering
Mage Wars










In Arcane Wonders’ Mage Wars, players take on the roles of powerful spell casters who seek to destroy their opponent’s spell caster. You marshal your mana in order to effectively stave off your opponent’s attacks whilst launching your own. You summon creatures to do your bidding. Sound familiar? It should. The theme is 100% the same as Magic: The Gathering. In both M:TG and MW, players can tweak their “decks”. In Mage Wars, however, your entire deck is a book that houses your spells. You have complete access to your spells.

Mage Wars in Muskegon: get on it!
Mage War spell book









The game is also customizable and expandable. You can swap out spells (within limitations) and you can buy extra books if you want a Necromancer or a Druid. I recently upped my rating of this game to “8”. It’s that good.


2. Poker

Muskegon loves itself some Poker, especially Texas Hold 'em tourneys.












The Gaming Annex held its first Texas Hold ’em tournament in October. I think it was successful enough to warrant a sequel. Look for one in December or January.


3. Advanced Civilization

Muskegon Avalon Hill Civilization
Old school gaming













Playing Civilization/Advanced Civilization over two non-consecutive weekends is posing some challenges for the Gaming Annex. We played about 60% of the game in October. The remainder is scheduled for a Sunday in November. If this works out okay, we are going to schedule Twilight Imperium: The Long War in December!


 4. Battlestar Galactica

There's a cylon afoot in Muskegon!
Battlestar Galactica













We taught Dugas how to play BSG this month. He was a cylon from the beginning too. He and Jon managed to destroy humanity a turn before the rest of us would have won.


5. Betrayal at House on the Hill

Muskegon Area Gamers plays Betrayal at House on the Hill ever Halloween
Betrayal at House on the Hill









During our Halloween Gaming session, we broke out this classic. Betrayal at House on the Hill is cooperative-turned-betrayer game. Players investigate a haunted house until the 2nd phase of the game randomly starts. Then one player is typically the bad guy and he is trying to defeat the rest of the team.


6. Touch of Evil

Muskegon has a Touch of Evil ever Halloween
Touch of Evil













Touch of Evil from Flying Frog Games is a light strategy/strong narrative game. Players in colonial America (or is it Europe?) attempt to defeat the evil that is residing in this small town. The game can be competitive or cooperative. Not to be taken too seriously. As such, we usually break this game out at Halloween.


 7. Witch’s Brew

Witches are brewing up something fun in Muskegon.
Witch’s Brew













Witch’s Brew is a light trick taking game where players score points brewing potions. While this is a good game normally, it seemed only appropriate to play this during our Halloween Gaming session. Jon kicked our butts.


 8. Eldritch Horror

Great Old Ones stalk Muskegon in FFG's Eldritch Horror
Eldritch Horror













Dusty taught three noobs how to play Fantasy Flight’s Eldritch Horror. The game lasted most of the night with Dugas’ character kicking butt against monsters. The Great Old One they sparred against was, of course, Cthulhu. And Cthulhu, of course, won. But the noobs seemed to enjoy the game. Dugas even went so far as to say he wanted to own a copy of it.


9. World of Warcraft: The Board Game

Muskegon World of Warcraft
Muskegon loves World of Warcraft











We managed to get a six player game of World of Warcraft to the table in October. The reception was luke warm. All of us enjoyed the game but most of us thought it would be better as a three player co-op. In fact, this is probably how we will tweak the game if/when it gets scheduled again.


 10. Cyclades

Cyclades is a Muskegon favorite. And the expansions are worth owning too.










In Matagot’s Cyclades, players take on Greek factions who bid on the powers of the Hellenic Pantheon in an effort to build or conquer two metropolises. Powerful monsters and brave classical heroes can join your side if you have enough gold. This game plays perfectly with five and is a great Euro/Ameritrash hybrid. A favorite around here!


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



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

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On behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers


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)