Recent Boardgames (Your Last Played Game Volume 2)

Yesterday I got to play games with a good friend. It was nice!

We played War of the Ring 2nd Edition, and that was lovely. The last time we played I lost due to a significant rules misunderstanding (that captured Towns, Cities, and Strongholds could be used to muster for the force that captures them… that is definitely not true, and resulted in Rohan being obliterated by turn 3).

This time I won because the Shadow Player (Terry) forgot two very significant rules:

  1. That a Sword result can be used to start a battle with an army led by a Nazgul
  2. That a Banner result can be used to start 1 fight OR Move 2 different armies.

The end result was that for the first 2-3 turns the Shadow built just overwhelming force across from Osgiliraith (sp?)… two 10-unit armies, one with 3 Nazgul and the Witch King and the other with 2 more Nazgul (thematically appropriate), and another massive army across from the Fords of Isen (plus Sarumon and his ability to use Elites like Leaders)… but he didn’t start attacking until turn 4 or 5, at which point the Ringbearer was right outside Mordor (literally 2 steps away before he was revealed).

That stated, the game was still shockingly close… Minas Tirith was overwhelmed in a mutually-assured-destruction (2 Infantry, Boromir, Aragorn, and a Leader against 2 Elites with 3 Nazgul and the Witch King… we wiped each other out to the man, which bought me another 2 turns… by the game end Gondor had 3 Regular Infantry remaining on the board and everything else… everything else… had been wiped out), the Southerners were swinging towards a surrounded Rohan, but more importantly… the Ringbearer reached the penultimate step of the Mordor track with 10 Corruption.

For that last step, I had 2 Companions remaining (Gandalf the White was off staring at Sarumon across the Fords, Boromir and Aragorn died arm-in-arm at Minas Tirith, and Gimli and Pip had both died at different steps to minimize some Corruption from Shelob)… so Merry and Legolas were still with Frodo and Sam. If Terry pulled a 3 or one of the Eye tokens I would lose (there were, like, 6 dice in the Hunt box), and if he pulled a Stop token he would get to try again. If he pulled a 0-2, I would win.

He pulled a 1, revealing the Ring but not stopping it, and I won.

Still a wonderful game, and I look forward to playing it correctly next time!

After we finished that, we tried out a new Phil Walker-Harding called eXplorers, which was a really lovely, light roll-n’-write like Cartographers but faster and less mean. Great components, honestly (big, thick cardboard with punch-out inserts), and we had a good time with it… I managed to win that one as well (104 to 95).

Then we broke for dinner: Bao Sandwich Bar… Terry had 2 “Pork Belly Bao” and a Deepfried Fish bao, my partner had a Deepfried Fish bao and a Tofu bao, and I had two small bahn mi… a chicken katsu (mediocre, honestly, but not bad) and a “Seoul Beef” which was spectacular, and then the three of us split an order of Kimchi Beef Poutine (not really poutine at all, since there was no cheese or gravy, but honestly I have always preferred not-poutine poutines… I just don’t like cheese or gravy on my fries, but I love all the other stuff they throw on there sometimes… there’s a place in town that does a killer shawarma “poutine” with garlic and hot sauce… but I digress).

After dinner we roped my partner in for two quick games: Longshot the Dice Game, which I enjoy, Terry really enjoyed, and Andy hated. On a hunch, we then tried another game of eXplorers, and Andy loved it… so Terry and I swapped his copy of eXplorers for my copy of Longshot and everybody was happy (I mean, I liked Longshot as much as eXplorers so it was a net-zero for me, but Andy wanting to play games makes my life way easier!).

And that was it! Terry and I had a long, long talk about life, work, family, and the various stresses and emotional issues we’re both having, including a long talk about what a jerk Gary Gygax was (anyone who hasn’t seen the first half of the NPI “Sleeping Gods” review, go watch it… it’s really insightful and verbalized a lot of issues I couldn’t verbalize about my issues with “Old Skool” D&D).

A really lovely day.


The more I play around with Welcome to the Moon, the more convinced I am that it and the original slot into entirely different genres. I consider Welcome To… to be a breezy, relatively “standard” roll-and-write–you flip some cards, fill in a space, and go up a track. The way you go up each track, and how that ties into the core puzzle, make it more interesting, but it feels definitively like a roll-and-write. Welcome to the Moon feels more like a light-to-medium Euro, which just so happens to also be a roll-and-write. You still have those tracks, but they’re all more complex and interconnected, and the ascending-number restriction of the placement is an avenue to interact with those systems, rather than the core of the game. That makes it much more interesting to me as a solo game, but as a thing to show to my family and non-gamery partner, the original is probably still my go-to.


Brian Boru: High King of Ireland , first play. This is a competitive, trick taking area majority game. There are eight regions with a various number of towns. Each town is either red, blue or yellow, corresponding with the colours on the cards. Red is associated with battle, blue are for church, and yellow are to do with the marriage track. There are three areas to interact with, the battle area, the church area, and the marriage track. The player with the active town marker (the winner of the previous trick) selects a town, and then plays a card of that colour. The other players play a card as well. You don’t have to follow suit. Each card has a primary action (performed by the winner of the trick) and either one or two secondary actions, you choose one of these if you don’t win the trick. Often you’ll play a card and you don’t want to win the trick (easy enough unless you lead). All of the primary actions allow you to gain control of the active town, and may have other symbols. Generally, the lower value a card, the more symbols it will have.

After all but one cards have been played, you check the various areas. If there are viking tokens left in the battle area, then the player with the lowest number of tokens loses a town, and that town is taken over by the vikings. The player at the top of the marriage tracks takes the current marriage card. Whoever has the most tokens in the church area places a monastery on one of their towns – this now counts as two instead of one. If you have enough control in a region, you get that areas claim tile, worth VP at the end of the game.

This was a lot of fun. There aren’t many rules, and they are fairly easy to remember. There are only three rounds (in a 3p game), so it doesn’t take long. And it’s not like a lot of trick taking where winning the trick is your only priority. In this game you consider your cards, do you take the trick or play another card for better actions? It’s usually easy enough to play off suit, unless you have the wild (white) cards, which are considered the same colour as the lead suit. There’s a card draft at the beginning, so have a chance to grab the cards you want.

Cryptid X 3. We had played this a while back, and found it a bit confusing. But we’ve played a lot of deduction games since then, so I thought I’d give it another go. The map is made of five different region types, and you also have two types of buildings, and two animal habitats. Everyone has a secret clue, for example, forest or mountain. Which would indicate the cryptid is on one of those types. On your turn, you select a hex and either ask another player if the cryptid could be there (according to that players clue), or search a hex. If you question a player, then they must place a disc (if the cryptid could be there), or a cube (cryptid could not be there). If you search a hex, then each player places either a disc or a cube. If everyone places a disc, then you have found the cryptid, and win the game. We ended up playing three games, the first was mucked up by a mistake, and the other two games were over in a few moves.

The LOOP , we again failed badly to stop the evil Dr Faux. Still without a win at this game.

Break the Code X 3. More deduction goodness! I made a mistake in the first game, had the question about where my fives were,and I gave a single location, but I had both of them, so should have answered with two locations. The second game was stuffed up because another player didn’t report a zero tile as an even number (the question card even says that). Easy mistake to make. Third game was the charm, we didn’t make any mistakes. We’re quite enjoying this game.

Scout , not sure if 3p is the best number for this game. Seems too often you get stuck and have to scout, and the round is over if one player makes a play and then every other player scouts. When you scout, you take a card from the currently played cards, giving you an extra card, and making the play easier to beat. Still, a fun game.

Noch Mal!

Fantasy Realms X 2, couldn’t get anything going.


I think this must be one of the games with the highest rates of mistakes ever. I have played it a handful of times, and on each session at least one game was a mistake. Still enjoy it, though.


Welcome to the moon feels like a lot of different games that have a very loose structure in common but spin off in different ways. A different marketing strategy might easily have released these in a far less generous way I think.

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

Last week, I did get Fantastic Factories to the table for a solo game. I was a bit disappointed. The “AI” wasn’t very competitive and the whole thing felt like a fairly flimsy solo experience. I’m surprised, then, at how much love the BGG 1PG has shown FF over the years.

Still, I will hang on to Fantastic Factories for the moment because I think a “build your tableau and then run it” where everyone is running their factory at the same time is a valuable design-artifact to have around, if it works as well as it looks like it might. Concurrent turns is such a hard thing to do in a game; the only thing left to determine is how samey and solitaire the multiplayer experience is.

I’m glad I resisted the temptation to buy the recent expansions when they were on Kickstarter.

That night, I was going to follow up Fantastic Factories with a game of Baseball Highlights: 2045. I got everything out of the box and was looking at integrating some more of the expansions when I realized I was missing a rulebook for roughly half of the expansions (which is normal, I think?). I checked and found that I had downloaded the missing reference document, but had not yet printed it for ease of play. Feeling a bit tired, I packed everything away again.

Until last night. I got everything out, printed the missing document, along with a fan-made solo variant that is nearly ubiquitous at this point, for playing with the expansions. The key differences with the solo variant are as follows:

  • After resolving the immediate effects and hits for the AI’s card, if its cost is 5 or less, send it down to the AI’s minor leagues and replace it with a card from the Free Agent deck before placing it in the Dugout; do not resolve the new card.
  • Keep 10 available free agent cards in the market instead of the usual 6.

With the new rules reference in-hand, I shuffled all of the expansions into the Free Agent deck, using everything except the Coaches and Ballparks expansions.

For my starter team, I chose United Kingdom, in honour of all my UK friends here. I opted to do easy mode with 4 buy rounds before starting; but only 3 of them yielded any roster changes.

I was competitive throughout the first game; keeping it roughly tied through most of the game. The last AI card would have cancelled all 3 of my Average runners if I had been in the lead, but luck would have it I was trailing by a point, nullifying the AI’s ability and then allowing for me to take the win by 2 points (1 Average on base, 3 single Average runners threatened). The AI threatened 1 at the end and by luck I pulled a Cancel 1 Hit for the Visitor Save.

Only once did the AI draw a card with a cost of 5 or less (and it was a 5, of course). Even still, I feel the solo game with all of the expansions is a lot flimsier than the base game or with just Rally Cap. The AI’s team has tons of really expensive, very powerful players – but they are all randomly assembled and their abilities are highly contextual.

Unfortunately, by that point in the evening, it was too late to play another game of the series, so I packed away everything carefully so that I can continue another time.


On Sunday we had a very close game of The Great Zimbabwe. Two of us reached our points goal on the same turn, and initially I had overshot my goal by two points more, which gave me the win on a tie. Unfortunately for me my husband pointed out how our friend could have upgraded a different monument, so he redid his entire last turn and beat me by a single point :woman_facepalming:

I’d read a few comments on BGG from people who were disappointed with the game (comparing it unfavourably to other Splotter games), so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!


I’m pretty sure that means your victory was real and your friend’s victory was hypothetical : )


I like it a lot. It’s Splotter crunchiness, but condensed into an hour.


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

I finished my Baseball Highlights 2045 World Series. I’m happy to announce the United Kingdom team made a clean sweep of the other team (I never did give the solo opponent an identity…) The star of the game, for certain, was Rollie Quisenberry, whose Closer1 ability was able to shut down some key offensive plays by the other team late in the game, securing the lead in 2 of the four games of the series.

I’m not sure how I feel about soloing the game with all of the expansions mixed in. Many of the cards from the later expansions are extremely situational and, as a result, resulted in a very weak defense. The AI’s offense was formidable, admittedly, but I was able to pick up a number of powerful defense cards to counteract that – leading my team to be a solid mix of big defensive cards and a few big hitters to jump out into a lead early.

Next on my solo list, I think will be Clinic: Deluxe, but I’ll need a bit of time to grok the rules for that.

1 Closer: If ahead, cancel all Hits vs. any player


I’ve been waiting to get together with @kyuss for BH2045 since before the pandemic… we always seem just to fail to arrange it, or we end up in a larger gathering and don’t want to play a 2-player game. (Yeah, I know it works with 4, but not 3.)


Excavation Earth - glad I didn’t backed thebase game + expansion bundle for this one. I thought it’s a very good game with very good interaction, but I have like 20 or so other games in my collection that I would prefer to play, in general.

Rising Sun - this one is turning out to be my fave Eric Lang title so far. I need to play Ankh more, but the left-right binding problem is such a turn off in our plays of it. Blood Rage is very trashy fun but I’m not wowed by the card drafting - as SWVAG have commented on card drafting: very lazy. I preer Inis’ tighter card drafting more. RS understood how old German games works and add in some trashiness to make it very fun.

Iki - playing this without @EnterTheWyvern felt like cheating :flushed: :flushed: :flushed: :flushed: Played with the fishy strategy, and had my shop burn down only one. End up second. Great fun.


Could you elaborate on this? Because I do not quite understand what this refers to? Is it the god merger thing? I have only played a learning game at this point -.- reasons…


It’s the fancy term for “sitting on the left of the newbie will give you significant advantage”. This can be seen in old school games, in general, too where the gameplay forces you to preventing any kind of openings for the succeeding player to exploit (e.g. Samurai). Some people find that fun


Surprisingly effective in Modern Art - I can often win if I go just after a player who’s worse than me.


I’m not angry, but I am disappointed.


Finished up my first game of Beyond the Sun. Not really sure I knew what I was doing but came second. I think what happened was I understood some bits of the game and just hammered them until they were dead and it conveniently dragged a lot of points out.


Played games

  • Spirits of the Forest — my freshly arrived Kickstarter. Played against my partner. He lost by a mile. Without any of the new modules this is a very light game (I knew what I was getting, we played this at SPIEL way back). But it is also very pretty. I ordered the “wood edition” and I do not remember if that had to include the collectors box. The whole thing is base game, expansion, collectors box. Everything of course fits into the very very pretty and useful base game box. But the other two boxes are so pretty, too… what a conundrum. Look forward to try the solo mode and the expansions
  • Played 2 solo games of Planet Unknown. Finally read the rules for the event deck. Lol. It’s always 20 cards and you choose the difficulty. Ah well… makes it much easier. I played with the Oasis corporation both times on a standard planet—Oasis gets bonusses from planetary ice and most of the other planets do not have that. Lovely game. The box is a bit large but it is not empty… I don’t know if it gets really good with more players, the solo is so satisfying that I don’t care at all. This is the tetris (polyominoes) game to rule all tetris games.
  • BGA On-going: I am on my second game of A Fest for Odin against my friend and while I won the first one by a few points (I did not get a terrible score for once), I doubt I’ll get it this time. Second game is going much faster. With no book-keeping this is such a quick game. I wish the board was less intimidating… it is so hard to convince people to give it a try.
  • BGA On-going: GWT is in beta now. We started a game without reading the rules. It’s going… … somewhere … in circles. (I did watch a How To Play but that just isn’t enough). A well, my friend is experimental, so it’s fine.
  • BGA On-going: second game of Lost Ruins of Arnak with my other friend. This seems really well suited for async play. And I love it. And I agree with @Acacia that it is very much about dragging out the round for as long as possible. I am getting better at that with every game. Buy an artifact here, advance on the research track there. Get a bonus from defeating a guardian, use a totem… there are so many options but not too many to lose track of them. I am so glad I also bought a cardboard copy—the expansion is also quite nice. I like the different leaders and who your focus shifts depending on which one you play. I tried 2 so far and they were both quite unique.

Picture of the Spirits of the Forest box:


Last night: Sentinels of the Multiverse, second go at this month’s challenge, jointly with @Lordof1. Reminded me all over again why I love this game.


Great fun! I’m very tempted to try to find time to do your monthly challenges online. Will be a change from almost-monthly Pandemic Legacy!