Recent Boardgames (Your Last Played Game Volume 2)

Had a solo session last night at Bardsung.

Boy that was interesting. I am really enjoying the combat now that I am getting more familiar with it. I admit I still struggle a little bit interpreting the maps on the chapter. Yesterday I was following the map on chapter 1, and when a random room card that was going to be the second room turned up to be a dead end card, the whole map got a bit squashed to the left side. Luckily the corridor before had been a three way. I guess there might be some rule I have missed to replace that dead end for a real room if the map is to be followed, but as the chapter maps are ruled by cards being pulled out of the deck, this could lead to some trouble if not addressed on the rules.

The other issue was the length. I take i that I had to check rules more often that if I was more familiar with the exploration phase or icons checks, but I started at 21.30 and finished the chapter after midnight. I could have taken a pic and leave if for the next night, but I was close to the end and ploughed on, which took me 45 minutes that put me into the next day of the calendar, if only just. The prospect of having to set up again what I had slowly developed on the board put me off. (Note to self, play this game when the next day you don’t have to get up at 5.15 am, which is every working day)

Enjoyed the challenge, but I admit I need to re-read things, at the end of the chapter it was not very clear what chapter I have to go to next. It sort of implies it, but not sure if I have to go to chapter 2, which I could have gone to directly at the beginning of chapter 1… ???


Doing a bit of light reading on the BBG forums, I got the understanding of the maps and nodes very wrong… how very much like me… what I played last night was not the whole chapter, but encounter 1A (boy is this campaign going to be long…). And not very well. Rulebook, rulebook…

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Tempel des Schreckens x3

Undaunted: North Africa - having played both Undaunted, they are very fun. I’m convinced. Will try to grab some copies.

Manhattan Project: Energy Empire - decent Euro. Middling.

Titan - this is the big stupid game I first saw in Essen 2019. It’s a game that looks more like an extravagant cake than a board game. What’s worse is that after playing it, you don’t actually need that gimmicky 3D structure malarkey. You can have a flat board and the game will work functionally.

Aside from the gimmick, it’s a very fascinating game. Very hybrid-y between old German and modern Euro. You start your base on the outer layer of Titan - one of the moons of Jupiter? Saturn? IDK. Then you build network of pipelines on these rigs players build that no one owns, initially.

Very spatial game and the decisions are very interesting and deep. There’s trade-off between isolating and sharing rigs. There’s trade-off between high VP rigs and low VP rigs. Light-medium rules framework yet it’s so good.

I am keeping an eye on a slightly cheaper copy. Yes. Despite the silly gimmick. It’ll just make it easier for me to lure some victims.

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Appraisal: A bold decision.

Only two people turned up to our Boardgame group yesterday so played a couple of learning games. After starting with Timeline: Star Wars (surprisingly hard despite being a big fan of the films) we learnt Arboretum - BGG says it plays best at 2 but I felt it might be better at a higher count - in two player, you know exactly what cards the other person has which makes it easy to hold onto cards to mess them up. Maybe if you like very combative play, that works, but I think a vit of not knowing may make it better?

We then learnt Undaunted: Normandy. Unfortunately we tried to play the first scenario with the cards from the 2nd scenario which caused a lot of confusion until we figured it out. We abandoned the game then but we’ve got the mechanics sorted so just need to do it properly now!


[following on from What Should I Play? (Help me decide)]

Last night, I did manage to find some energy to play. Under Falling Skies was the clear winner of the poll, so that’s what I got to the table.

I think, I’m finding, that “crisis management” games are not my thing. I lost. I was 2 research jumps (which is I think like 13 research points on the basic scenario?) from winning. My city had only taken 1 damage when the mothership landed. I know, intellectually, that I could have easily won by letting more ships through and spending just a few more dice on research. This is basically the same conclusion I have with Pandemic: yep, I could have won if I had just let a couple of more outbreaks happen to afford me the action-economy to cure the last disease.

So, I think I’ll give UFS another shot tonight, but ultimately, I think it might end up on the trade pile. Not because it’s a bad game, but rather it’s a game that doesn’t stimulate my brain in the ways I’m looking for. Or, perhaps, rather it pokes my brain in uncomfortable ways, and I just don’t need that – I’ve always got a copy of Pandemic I can fall back on.

I actually set up for a retry of the base game, Roswell, last night. But after the first die roll, I just couldn’t be bothered to lean my brain into it.

At the time, there was a 3-way tie in the poll for 2nd place. Clinic, Empyreal: S&S, and Fantastic Factories. Knowing that my brain wasn’t up to a huge task, I did get Fantastic Factories down off the shelf and familiarize myself with the rules. My impression of it is that it’s a pretty big sandbox; the action menu at any given time is slightly larger than I think I prefer – but I also expect that once you learn the lay of the land of said sandbox, the reasonable action menu is quite narrow.


Arboretum at 2 is a very different game than at 3 or 4. You got it right, at two is more chess-like, see where you can hurt each other, and less luck is involved (which I guess the BGG tropes might prefer??) At higher counts is way more open, and more luck dependent (IMO) I enjoy the crunch of playing at two, but the possibilities that open with more discard piles at higher count have their juicy side that I like too.

A great simple game (besides the scoring, that I always have to re-read if I haven’t played for a while) that plays well and with lovely table presence (at least 2nd edition has).


You say less luck but I didn’t draw a single 8 all game and only two 1s!!


We played our first game of Paint the roses it’s a deduction co-op game a little bit like cryptid. The idea is you try and fill a board with pieces which help your friend(s) guess a card you have. The games tension comes from needing to fill the board within a time limit but also you need to make progress at a steady rate. In terms of tension I think the base game has a nice knife edge - you can get away with easy choices but you need to be slightly lucky and perfect or you can try and be risky by going for harder choices which give you more breathing room if they pay off.

We liked our first game. It has that nice co-op feel of the Mind where each player genuinely has to contribute to the game and in this case they do it by setting up fun puzzles for the other player which is a satisfying mode of play.


I’ve had games between 3 and 4 where all I got was 3s, 4s and 5s of different trees. If it wasn’t for the discard piles, I was going to score a big 0. There is always a component of luck in card games, but then again, on a game of two, if you are not getting the 1s and 8s, your opponent is, and he/she can only hold onto so many cards, so eventually they will drop out…


Well, here goes…


We just tried out Pandemic with the State of Emergency expansion (Superbug challenge) and it was a TERRIBLE mistake, LOL. My wife was WAY too tired (she suggested we try it out, for the record) to really parse it and the cards and new roles conspired to make the game very boring to play (she barely got to do anything). Just lousy timing.


After a movie and putting the little one to sleep early (my eldest daughter had a birthday party + sleepover) , and checking that today I didn’t need to get up early, I had another go at Bardsung. Finished the second encounter (1B) but only just, only one potion left and no campfires, and the spellcaster character on one wound to die, the other two with two, the echo had activated and was just one area away from us, so really pushed through by the skin of my teeth.

I am enjoying the randomness of the map generation with the cards to avoid repetition and extend replayability. The simple combat is a breeze as well, but I have a feeling that if each encounter is this long (just over 2 hours last night, now that I know the rules better) it can grow old soon, or become tiresome. On the other hand, I cannot wait to see what the narrative will bring later on, and what new enemies are ahead, specially bosses. At least the difficulty is not ramping up drastically like it does in Gloomhaven. We’ll see…


My not-very-gamesy partner granted me a games day today. We played:

  • Hive – a classic Hive loss on account of my opponent’s move opening up an opportunity for me to win in two moves, causing me to forget that they were going to win in one if I didn’t actually spend my next turn preventing that from happening.

  • Patchwork – a very rare comprehensive victory to myself – getting the 7x7 bonus, the majority of the 1x1 patches, and leaving very little uncovered, the score margin was rather large.

  • Geometric Art – an introductory game for my partner, which we miraculously won on the final round after somehow each guessing one another’s drawing when we were down to just 3 dice. (I wish now that I could remember what we’d had to draw, and the 3 shapes we had to do it with, in that final round.)

  • Paris: La Cité de la Lumière – I bought this ages ago, but this was my first time getting to play it. I loved it. My partner hated it. I am a little devastated.

  • Hansa Teutonica – One of our favourites. We had to stop after about a quarter of the game in order to deal with other things, which took quite a long time, and I knew we’d never get the final game in if we carried on, so we abandoned it, and set up…

  • Castle Ravenloft – The first of the D&D Adventure System Board Games cooperative dungeon crawlers (the only one I have), which we last played about… 10 years ago, maybe. In the end we didn’t have time to finish, so I photographed the state before packing it up, and we’re planning to finish it up tomorrow. This game wasn’t even my suggestion(!), so if it meets approval and we end up playing a series of missions I’ll be very happy indeed. Here’s hoping.


So… for a moment today, I liked Azul The Queen‘s Garden. Only having to manage 1 hand is definitely making this much easier to plan out.

So let me explain how the drafting works. I think this is neat.

Drafting Rules
  • The game is played over 4 rounds
  • For each round make a stack of garden spaces, flipped down. These are additional building spaces for your garden with pavillions on them and space for 6 tiles. The number of building spaces depends on the number of players so for 2 players there are 5 building spaces in each stack.
  • The first player takes 4 garden tiles from the bag and puts them on top of the stack for the current round (and returns the first player marker to the center)
  • The player then drafts all the visible tiles of either 1 symbol or 1 color (this may include building tiles as they have a single hex filled in, but at first none of these are visible anyway).
  • Players do not take doubles but have to take all tiles of the chosen type and place them in their storage, if they cannot store the pieces (storage is for 12 tiles and 2 building places) they cannot choose that type.
  • After drafting, take the top building place from the stack with any tiles still on it and place it next to the stack.
  • Place 4 garden tiles on top of the stack
  • Check if any other building space is without tiles and flip them over to the side with a symbol printed on them—the next player could now draft this

You can either draft or place tiles in the garden on your turn. I like the drafting, as the tiles come into play over a number of turns and the starting player does not get first choice on everything.

So our game went reasonably well for 2 rounds. Then on the third round,

I had plans to play some expensive tiles and had been filling up my storage with other tiles to pay for the high-value ones. On my turn I add 4 new tiles to the display and it included 3 different colored tiles of the highest value (6) and there was a 4th one already in the display. I had one of the 5th color and with a joker, which I had I would have been able to place any of those tiles the next turn.

I got excited and then saw my storage had only 3 spaces. So I couldn‘t take them. I was pretty disappointed. As I mused over what else to draft, I explained to my partner that hate drafting anything didn‘t make sense, as the only other group I could reasonably take that included one of the high value tiles was also 4 pieces. And drafting any of the other two, just to make the group less attractive would cost me points later on especially in the colors in question that I had no intention of playing to my garden.

So I drafted something else, and then my partner who had 4 storage left, took those 4 tiles. But he didn‘t have the 5th one and no jokers. So for him this was in fact just denying me the opportunity to score 6 points and then it turned out the cost for him was much higher as he had just drafted a bunch of tiles he had no use for. It was a pretty bad move.

After a few more turns, when my partner noticed how he couldn’t place any of the tiles he had in storage—unless he got very very lucky—he basically flipped the table.

Sadly, it is entirely possible to maneuver yourself into a corner where it is obvious you will lose the game unless something very specific comes up. With a bit more experience in the game, this would not have happened but it happened and it will happen.

I like that drafting tiles to deny them to someone else seems like a pretty bad idea. Especially the valuable ones.

Halfway through the game, I was prepared to write I had been wrong and this was much better than my first impression. Alas… it was not to be. So, as I said before: I would love it as a solo-puzzle, playing just one hand showed me that. But my partner—as foretold—hated the game. He hates when games allow him to make mistakes that basically end the game right there (it was too late to undo by the time he noticed) and he is unwilling to put in more plays to grok a game. A game that is not fun on first play… I am sad that this is the way things are. But this is my collection, he just indulges me and I have to make sure the game sells itself on that first play. I was too engrossed in my own board state to see where that move would take him.

I don‘t know what that means for the game in my collection. I like OG Azul reasonably well and bought it for the explicit purpose of having a game I enjoy that I know I can teach to anyone. The teach for Hex-Azul is not that much more complicated but playing the game is much harder and it allows for mistakes that make playing the game un-fun. OG Azul will always allow you to keep playing, you only notice in comparison with others that you are doing badly. So I‘ll possibly give Hex Azul another try with our friends—but we recently talked and both said „my favorite is the church windows“ at almost the same instant. Weirdly, none of us owns that one.

But chances are that this will go to the sell pile without seeing a full multiplayer game :frowning:


I looked at the cards and remembered : ) The category was “body part” and we rolled 1 circle, 1 triangle, and 1 curve. My drawing of an ice-cream cone with a smile was successfully deciphered as “Beard”, while my partner fashioned a “Face” comprising a mouth, a nose, and one eye.

We were playing a house-ruled harder version of the Joint Exhibition mode, whereby we still have to “complete 5 topic cards”, but we have 10 rounds to do it, and we only “complete” a card if we both guess correctly, and it came down to round 10. I think the game is lovely, but the standard rules just aren’t challenging for two players, so I was glad that I’d tweaked things. (I’m not sure my variant is a good one; but it’s an improvement.)

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I’m feeling this so much with my game of Paris today. I’m fairly confident that my partner would be good at the game if they were willing to give it a chance, but they didn’t enjoy the first game enough and that was that; and I fear that part of the reason was that I failed to sabotage my own game. I have real difficulty doing that – my brain just wants to solve the puzzles it sees as best as it can, and sometimes I’ll suddenly notice that I’m going to win by a landslide and it’s far too late to do anything about it. This is exacerbated by the fact that they don’t want to sit around and learn the game with me – they want me to learn it and then teach it, which means that I’m almost guaranteed to have the advantage of understanding the gameplay better than they do, and thus even more likely to win initial games, unless I carefully try not to. But then (almost hilariously), if I do sabotage myself and they realise what I’m doing, they get annoyed with me for going easy on them. I’m not sure that this was the only reason they weren’t enamoured with the game, but it might easily have been the difference between them being willing to give it another try or not.


I am quite sure that this is the fate of quite a few of us here and some of the rest will say „be glad your partner is willing to play with you at all“ and I am glad. And a lot of my collection is still tailored to find games we both enjoy. And he tolerates me talking about games, theorizing and watches some of the videos with me. But this is not our hobby anymore, the deeper I get into it the more it is mine. He still wants to come to SPIEL with me. So there is that. And I struggle to keep it that way.

But the struggle to win less—especially on „Partner‘s First Game“—is real. That first impression… maybe we need a thread on „how to lose secretly on purpose“. I have a very hard time refraining from the optimal moves. The worst is when I do something terrible on purpose and it works out to an even better advantage.

The pandemic hasn‘t helped btw. Before, most of our game nights were with friends. Playing with 2 so much has allowed for the difference in win percentage to become more obvious and second place is always last place.


Had a couple of rounds of a Maths Trade acquisition, Hey, that’s my fish. I liked it. Light and quick (like 5 minutes with 2 of us). Some DNA from things like Through the Desert and Santorini. I was able to block my wife out in our second game by creating pinch points, so I think it might have some teeth and tension when we all know what’s possible.


After a manic build-up to the Easter weekend, this week saw a chance to get out some of my newer solo acquisitions for a few plays each. First up was two games of Railroad Ink: Lush Green Edition to test out the Forest and Trails expansions, of which the Trails expansion was far more pleasing to use and map out - although both expansions made me want to get some different coloured (and thinner-nibbed) dry-wipe pens for future plays to make my cartography really stand out.

Next I got my first few plays of Black Sonata. Tracking the Dark Lady’s moves was pretty straight forward thanks to my hunting experience in The Fury of Dracula but I missed one key rule in my first two plays so ended the game having to pick between two options of symbols - picking wrong both times! Some quick rules revision reminded me that visiting every location allow me to rule out the other Lady in the same suit, so the next two games breezed by pretty quickly. A fun challenge of a solo game and I’m looking forward to trying more tricky routes and variants in future although the rather drab colour palate doesn’t give it the table presence it deserves.

Finally I got try my newest arrival Maquis. This had far more appeal for me than Black Sonata in terms of theme, mechanics and visual “pop” so I’m sure it will get far more table time. I soon got the hang of the game through the starter and 1-star missions, so am really looking forward to trying the harder 2- and 3-star missions in future, especially to get a greater variety of the Spare Rooms into play for specific missions. My initial plays have also shown it seems a worker placement game where having more workers is often as much a hinderance as a help, leading to a greater risk of arrests.