So now that Valerie is more gainfully employed (yay!) I’ve been modestly knocking a few items off the game acquisitions list.

On the “buy local, but only when there’s a sale” self-mantra:  Dr Comics had another 40% off games sale on the 1st, and similarly, Black Diamond Games had a Ding and Dent sale on the 9th.  I suspect another EndGame auction will happen this year, but it’ll likely be in the spring like last year.

1)    Carcassonne Expansion Quest (Part II, go here for Part I):

I finally managed to pick up a few expansions I hadn’t managed to find elsewhere.  I picked up Carcassonne Mini Expansion (love that river tile!), Carcassonne Festival, Carcassonne: The Wheel of Fortune, Little Buildings, The Tunnels and The Plague.  The last two of these were originally promised to come out in mid-2012, but then the US distributor and the German distributor of the game expansions decided to part ways, leaving the US folks in the lurch.

Well… pbbt on that! 

I located copies of the expansions via the great community of folks at Board Game Geek, and all was well with the universe.   The rest of the expansions fall into don’t want it (Catapult) or too rare to easily acquire (Spiel stuff like Die Schule and Die Windrosen), so I think for the time being we’ve achieved Carcassonne parity with the universe.

We’ve played with the Mini, the Festival and Little Buildings so far.  They were okay, not spectacular.  I wouldn’t recommend any of these unless you’re CarcNerds like we are.  I suspect the next game we play will mix in The Tunnels and the Wheel of Fortune.

2)    Suburbia:

I discovered this game and realized that it seemed like a lighter version of Castles of Burgundy (well… okay – probably not, but I’ll stand a better chance of getting it to the table with Valerie as she likes the theme of Suburbia a lot more!) as a Euro Board Game version of SimCity with a bit of mechanics from Lords of Waterdeep/Alhambra/Eclipse thrown in.   Due to these similarities with games we’ve previously played and mutually enjoy, the rules were easy enough to attempt to tackle without too much hassle.

The game in a nutshell with other games as analogies:  While you build your “boroughs” (Alhambra-ish) to gain population, money and reputation (Eclipsian)– there are public and private goals that give you extra victory points at the end of the game (Lords of Waterdeepy).

YMMV, but watching this might help.

More craziness under the more tag…

Pete and I played a round to get the rules down before we played a larger game.  This turned out to be a good idea.

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 Borough example of Suburbia courtesy of BGG

The catch on Surburbia that takes it one step further than the previous games listed is a mechanic that makes the game one giant control feedback loop (and therefore fascinating to my math brain) is that changes are always incremental (i.e. one tile at a time), but that one tile may also “trigger” other “effects” on previously acquired tiles that affect one of three metrics:  your income, your reputation, and your population.

Pete and I miscalculated the income and reputation of our boroughs – instead of adding incrementally, we attempted to try to add the entirety of the bourough.  Not only was this wrong, but it caused great swings in the game due to the feedback loop involved with a growing population.

In this game, population = victory points; income affects money received at the end of your turn, and reputation is the increase/decrease in your population at the end of your turn.

However, to make life interesting, the larger your borough gets in population (i.e. more victory points), the more resources are drawn from you (drops in income and reputation).  And this also makes sense if you extend the theme.  A growing city that grows too fast will start having trouble with resources.  So in other words, if you get successful too quickly, the game has an internal method to restrain your resources.  And if you play it incorrectly, the feedback loop will PUNISH YOU, as Pete and I discovered to our horror.

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Scoring board picture – passing a red line with increasing population gets you -1 income/-1 reputation and passing a red line with decreasing population gets you +1 income/+1 reputation

Additionally, there are “public goals” (least/most of a particular type of building) and “private goals” (same, but held in secret).  Everybody can get a public goal, but only you can get your secret goal, but only if you are the leader in that particular category.

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Goal tiles, once again, courtesy BGG

However, despite playing the scoring system wrong the first time, the game was still nonetheless very interesting.  After doing a little bit of research (and figuring out what we did wrong post-game), we played a 4 player game with the ladies with the correct rules.  Results were mixed.  Three of the four players enjoyed the game, with the fourth player finding the resources difficult to track.

We determined that “all borough” or “all tiles of this type” needed to be flagged for easier counting, so after borrowing a few fuel markers from Alien Frontiers (which is another great game deserving of a blog entry) to mark these particular tiles, the game for those that enjoyed it went well.

Simply put:  Folks, this game is fun.  You should play it.

Who won:  Our resident real estate expert.  🙂

3)    Ticket To Ride – Heart of Africa:

Wow!  This one is becoming a family favorite at the table of the entire TTR series.  Why?   Completing the destinations is actually HARD, thus making our usual end-game of “hmm… how many more destinations should I complete?” (conversely, “dumpster diving for destinations to instantly complete rather than using up trains and ending the game”) into more of a free-for-all “don’t take that last leg or I’ll have a lower than zero” score!

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Picture of TTR Africa game board

Great fun, but if you prefer your TTR games to be a little more relaxing, you might want to consider playing the other regions instead, this one was definitely more cutthroat than even the India map.

4)    iOS games:

  1. Eclipse on iOS – it’s February… so where’s the iOS/iPad Eclipse???  Hmm?
  1. Alhambra on iOS – development was announced by Queen Games.  For those with an iPad, this will be one to pick up.  If it has asynchronous play over the GameCenter, I will be dropping my Draw Something and Words with Friends like THAT.
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