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GameplaySpace Empires 4X (GMT) Review & Play ( [Space Empires 4X]Like| 0 comments | [+]
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ReviewConquest of Paradise: a soloable 4X [Conquest of Paradise]Like| 4 comments | [+]
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Had a great week of gaming! My wife and I went on a trip with some friends, and we managed to pack several games and played every evening.

  • #Ticket to Ride: Europe @ 4p - (not on our trip) had a couple friends over and played this. Great fun.
  • #Hive Pocket - my wife and I played this in the airport. I positioned myself for victory in the next move... which blinded me to the fact that I actually set up my wife for victory, so she won, haha
  • #Everdell 1x @ 4p - we all love this game, so we had to play it. Or friends packed their copy; I want about to pack ours, lol.
  • #War Chest 4x @ 2p - played this several times over the weekend with my friend. This was the one game he requested that we bring because he really wanted to try it. I win every time, but he loved it still.
  • #Dale of Merchants 1x @ 4p - I think everyone enjoyed this, and it was a super close game!
  • #Carcassonne 1x @ 4p - great game as always
  • #Sushi Go Party! 2x @ 4p - always a hit
  • #Love Letter - we kinda played this at a restaurant but didn't really get to finish.
  • #7 Wonders Duel 1x - taught my friend this one too. He had played the original before but not this one. We were separated by one point, with me taking the victory!

I got way too much stuff. A lot of it Kickstarter deliveries, as a lot of stuff got backloaded between last month and this month because of *waves hands* all of this going on. Not as many retail purchases this month. Unless you count all the Warhammer 40K stuff I have bought... *whistles* Anyway...

  1. #Alice is Missing: A Silent Role Playing Game - Backed on KS. Sounded like a fun game I could use to introduce non-RPG people to them. 
  2. #Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps - I played this at Origins 2019 and instantly loved it. (the GF9 guy running said we were the first table to get everyone out alive) I have been waiting forever it feels like for this to come out.
  3. #B-29 Superfortress - A secret santa gift. I have a deep love of solo aviation war games ever since I bought B-17 Queen of the Skies on a whim as a kid. This and #Target for Today: Bombers over the Reich, 1942-1945 keep that game's tradition alive in an updated format. 
  4. #Black Rose Wars: Sator Box - Bought it off someone who backed the Kickstarter. As muh as I back on Kickstarter, I somehow missed the BRW campaign and have been gettng all its stuff piecemeal. 
  5. #Dark Rituals: Malleus Maleficarum - Backed on KS. See my Warhammer comment above? Mounds of miniatures get me all hot and bothered.
  6. #Dawn of the Zeds (Third Edition) - Always on the lookout for good solo experiences. 
  7. #Dice Hospital: Community Care - Backed on KS. Have Dice Hospital. Haven't played it yet, but I love Dice based games (drafting, placement, etc.) so I went ahead and backed the expansion.
  8. #Dune: Imperium - I'm not even a big Dune fan, but this looked fun.
  9. #Dwellings of Eldervale - Backed on KS. How could I pass up such a gorgeous production? The aesthetics just add to the fact that it's a great game.
  10. #Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy - I needed a big 4x game. I got a big 4x game. And it's gorgeous. I wanted to back this on KS, but didn't have the money at the time. Fortunately I found out that Lautepelit was selling extra US stock through their website and picked it all up.
  11. #HEXplore It: The Sands of Shurax - Backed on KS. I love adventure/exploration games with story. 
  12. #Hornet Leader: The Cthulhu Conflict - Black Friday sale. I love the leader series and the price was right no get this cheeky expansion.
  13. #Picket Duty: Kamikaze Attacks against U.S. Destroyers – Okinawa, 1945 - More solo war game goodness.
  14. #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island - Treasure Chest - See the comment on 13 above. ;)
  15. #Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef - Angler's Cove - When I late backed Tidal Blades, apparently I didn't add on the expansion. No idea why. I rectified that on Black Friday.
  16. #Tumble Town: the Dice Stacking Spatial Puzzle Game - Backed on KS. More dice game goodness. I think I can get the family to play this.
  17. #Tungaru - Backed on KS. All the playthroughs I saw during the KS looked like fun. 
  18. #Unmatched: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Unmatched never really interested me all that much, except for the Bruce Lee expansion. Why get that when the rest didn't interest me? This set got me interested. And of course now they announced forthcoming sets with Marvel characters, so of course I will have to get those. 
  19. #Waste Knights: Second Edition - Late backed. Never even knew about the campaign until I started maintaining a Late Pledge list over on Board Game Geek. It's the kind of game that's right up my alley.
  20. #Trick Shot - Backed on KS. I looooove hockey. Just received it today, actually. 
  21. #It's A Wonderful World: Corruption & Ascension - Backed on KS. Just arrived today. 

The irony in making this list now is I expect to receive the #Anachrony: Infinity Box on Wednesday from the last KS. I got it through The Game Steward. So 22 new things this month. Whew.

One of my all time favourite games is #Archipelago, it embodies so many of my favourite aspects of games: negotiation, hidden information, semi-cooperative play it is a game that has the best, most-petty, hilarious discussions and at its best I've rarely enjoyed sitting at a table moving meeples around so much.

However, I do think that the game is very much one of those that gets significantly better the more you play it with the same group and one that makes it easyfor people to bounce off of hard. I'll explain: when the game is first set out and the rules taught it appears very much to be a Euro/4X game. You gather resources, get upgrades, hire (or brith) new meeples, explore new sections of archipelago and build an empire. If you play it like a straight Euro game it isn't great: everything is slow and resource gathering is inefficent/can feel impossible, you don't have enough actions and the traitor (although they are definitely the 'good' or at least 'best' player morally speaking) seemingly has the easiest time rallying the native peoples to overthrow their colonial oppressors and bring the game to a premature end. (On a side-, but important, note, the other glaring flaw of this game is that it very much puts the players in the role of the bad guys casually exploiting an island and its people, and while within my group of friends we are pretty aware of this and use it to spark discuss and comment on how awful we are I can absolutely see this being a deal-braker for some and I wouldn't blame them in the slightest.)

Rant over, the problem with the way the game presents itself is that it is in reality a negotiation and deal-making game much more that it is a Euro-game. The way we have found it plays best, is when everyone is cutting deals and trading with each other while trying to get an edge. The semi-cooperative aspect really comes to life when you are negotiating who is going to use their hard earned resources to deal with the current crisis and how much you are going to pay them for it. The engine building side takes off when players are trading freely, as this is a free action, and so instead of having to use all your actions to collect 1 stone, 2 cows and 2 wood, you instead use one action to collect 8 pineapples and then trade them to get everything you need from other players. When you are trying to work out who is the 'traitor' and then working together (while of course trying not to make any real sacrifices yourself) to economically stifle that player and taking over their 'territory' (no one really owns anything in the game which is amazing) to limit their influence that is is when the game takes off and is a non-stop joy. However, the game doesn't mudge you to do these things at all, it is very much a sandbox, and while I love that aspect in many ways I can see how other people might try it once, not like it and then never bother again. So while I could say that they are just 'playing it wrong' and blame other players instead of the game. I think it is a legitimate critiscm of the game that it hasn't made how it wants to played clear, either mechanically or otherwise, and as such has made itself less accessible than it could have been. 

However, I adore this game, and whenever I teach it I make a point of highlighting these aspects. It still usually takes people at least until the second game to really grasp what makes the game tick, but once they do I've had so many people fall in love with it.

I went on a 9-day family vacation and missed last week's post, so I'll post all the games I played on the trip. We got to play quite a few, which was awesome!

  • #Sprawlopolis 1x - played on the plane. I have a print and play version that I pull out as a solo game once in a while. It's not my favorite game but a fun solo puzzle.
  • #Hive Pocket probably close to 10 times! My wife has discovered this as a game she likes, which is awesome. We even ordered the #Hive: The Pillbug expansion! We also taught my sister and her husband how to play.
  • #War Chest 4x @ 2p. Managed to pack this into some smaller boxes and take on the trip since my brother in law also loves it, and we got in 2 sessions of 2 games each.
  • #Sushi Go Party! - pulled this out with the whole family. It's always a crowd-pleaser, and we played twice in a row, which I consider a win, especially with my sister who isn't very interested in games.
  • #Tak 3x - picked this up in a local trade before the trip and brought it along (again packed into a smaller box). My wife and I played twice, and I taught my mom to play as well, and we all enjoyed it! I look forward to future plays of this. My wife and I already have our eyes on the ridiculously expensive handmade sets lol.

The cover is gorgeous, to no surprise. I've never played one of David Turczi's games, nor any Mindclash games, as my group (and I) usually steer a bit away from heavier games, but I must say that I'm intrigued by this one! I love sci-fi themes, and I've never played a true 4X game, so this would be a first for me. I think whether or not I back this will largely depend on price, so I doubt that I will be backing it, haha.

"Heart" for your lightning quick replies lol.

I'm with you there, and I think it would look great on your shelf 😀

It's interesting to see David Turczi coming out with #The Defence of Procyon III and now following up with what seems like another player interaction heavy game. It's definitely refreshing to see!

, what do you think? I know you really like The Defence of Procyon III. I guess it would be too much to take on another 4X game when you have TI4 though haha)

  • #Innovation (3x2p) I can't remember the first game.  For the second, we were neck-and-neck in achievements and I slipped in a last one to win.  It didn't help that my SO was tired and wasn't paying close attention.  For the third, we tried switching from Isotropic to BoardGameArena.  While Isotropic is ugly, it is easy to read and scan, for me.  For my SO, Isotropic is too confusing.  I had little splaying power but volleyed up to age 10 with Publisher.  At this point, my SO could steal both cards from my hand and cards from my tableau but I was able to sneak in one last Publisher to win with my 7 points compared to her 0.
  • #First Orchard (10x) My toddler quickly picked up this game.  Not setting it up yet but goes along with turn order, rolling, and playing.  Making a big deal of the Raven really helped sell her on this one.  The "threat" of the Raven is why I went with this game over #The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game and it looks like I made the right call.
  • #My Very First Games: Animal Upon Animal (4x) My toddler mostly plays along but doesn't get this one as much, especially continuing once the tower collapses and scoring. We'll work on it.

Good review!

 I would definitely like a good solo 4x game but I don't think this one is for me.  I really prefer multiple players for my solo games.  I like the ensuing chaotic situation. Two players tends to feel too much like a chess match. 

As for your review about Marsh's Magnificient Muster? :)

On your list I would be intesreted (if I could just get more games for the heck of it) in the #Eleven: Football Manager Board Game game because I love the theme.  I do really enjoy Manager mode in Fifa.

I'd also really look at #Last Light since a 4X space game is something I still don't have yet in my collection and would love to add.

I thank each and every one of you who has responded thus far. But, as reminded me yesterday, I asked for your viewpoints without giving ya'll mine. So, I will do so here, now. But, before I give you my answer, I do want to give just a little bit of background.

I am a person who read a LOT growing up. In fact I averaged over well over 200 full length books a year until 2016, which was the year that my son was born. Something I always found very interesting, and even important, in books was to determine the worldview of the author. For me, analyzing the plot, the rising crescendo, the denouement, the whole fabric of the book is and was fascinating. I loved looking at the little literary devices that the author chose to use. But, for me, the most interesting part of reading was trying to determine what the worldview of the author was when he/she wrote the book. Reading does broaden one's horizon, in some very potentially helpful ways. And, it can change the way one thinks. I however have found that if one can identify the worldview, that does tend to armor you a bit against bad worldviews. I think most of us can do this to some point. For example, in my post I mentioned Mein Kampf which is Hitler's famous book wherein he lays out his views on all sorts of stuff. I will further mention The Communist Mannifesto the worldview in this book is super obvious. And, I think that most people with the bare modicum of logical thinking and historical knowledge won't have a problem reading it, they won't be swayed by it. They are aware of the worldview, usually before they even go and read it.

Why do I spend this time talking about books in a post about games? It is because I find many similarities between books and games. I do find that games are often, not always, expressions of a small part of the designers worldview. I think that it is a much more limited medium, but, in great games, there is often some sort of authorial intent behind the game. Again, this is a more limited medium than books, but, it is interesting to think of the authorial biases going into the design. If nothing else, even in the simplest games, there is interesting ideas of what the designer thinks of fun.


Why do I spend this time on this preamble? It is to explain why I really cannot seperate the art from the artist. I honestly don't believe that there is such a thing as a neutral medium. Any medium in which one communicates to another, be it books, or speech, or visual arts, or films, or etc.... is inherently subject to the biases and views of the communicator. Even if they are just "writing books for the money" the books that they write do give interesting messages about what they believe the masses want. The same goes for movies, or pictures, or, ..... Games.


So, if I cannot, or at the least find it very difficult to, seperate the art from the artist, what is my responsiblity in choosing where to spend my time and money when it comes to games?

  • I agree with that being informed is important. I think it is ok to call out bad stuff. I think it is even important to call out bad stuff. But, far more people pass judgment without understanding, or desiring to understand the context.
  • I will, almost necessarily, at a minimum, engage with people I disagree with in any medium I consume. This includes games. Of course, some games, were designed by people who's actions or worldviews whose views are actually repellent. I will  not find, I doubt that you will, find a game, or any other medium, whose creator(s) line up with your worldview.
  • G.K. Chesterton reminded us that "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." I do think that it is ok to draw lines and say that "everything on that side of the line, is something I won't touch." I don't think it is a problem to see cultural appropriation in Tascini's game, for example, and decide that you won't devote time or money to them. I, for example, have decided not to play games by Harry Wu A.K.A. John Bohrer because of the generally despicably way he has treated everybody in the game design industry who has worked with him. It is almost as if he really does see himself as adopting the worldview portrayed in one of his 18xx games.
  • Actively reject the bad. For instance, if you are playing a game by Eklund and you see racism, or you see praises for colonialism, reject it. Reject it personally, if you are playing with someone, point out the problem and dialog with it.
  • I think it disengenious to have huge problems with games that glorify colonial conquest, for example. But, then love a good fantastical or sci-fi 4x game. I recognize that there are some differences, in that in the colonial conquest one, real people were, and continue to be affected. That being said. Both games are representing and fostering the same worldview. I believe that you have a equal responsibilty to call out the problematic issues with the scifi game as with the historical game.


Do I think there is space for morally repungant games in my collection. I think, for me, yes. I cannot answer that question for you. I remember the first time that I toured the holocaust museum in Washington D.C. My overwhelming feeling was that real people, ordinary people, were the perpetrators of this atrocity. Ordinary people, conservative Christians, looked the other way during Hitler's rise to power, and they even enabled him, because he did institute effective economic reform. I was privilaged to speak with a survivor or Auschwitze one time. The stories he told were made even more chilling when I remembered that the horrors he saw and experienced were perpetrated by humans who were "merely doing their job." I do believe that this lesson is important. I don't think we are in some sort of special place in human history. I don't think that we are really at a higher plane than our slave owning ancestors, or our ancestors that enjoyed public executions, or our ancestors who viewed torture as the most expedient ways of arriving at the truth. I believe that when we lose sight of this fact. When we lose sight that we, as humans, are prone to ignore the suffering we are inflicting on others in the pursuit of our own good. For me, if I play a game that I violently disagree with, it does do a valuable service reminding me, that real humans perpetrated the problems I have with the games. We are often reminded that the slave trade was trade in humans. This is a lesson we dare not forget. But, neither dare we forget that this trade in humans was, in fact, perpetrated by humans. And, that, even people who rejected the slave trade, supported it by their tastes for commodities produced by slave trade. So, to the extant that games require me to examine my position, jostle my mind and remind me of a blind spot that I might have, than these games with problematic games can serve as a valuable part of my collection.

That being said, I would hesitate to play a game with problematic issues with, slavery for example, with someone whose life has personally been negatively affected by slavery or the after effects. I however would play it with someone who might be turning a blind eye to the after affects, and engage with them about it afterwards, to try to get them to see if they have some sort of complicity.

👏 👏 👏 

Great insight.

I want to comment on your point about colonial games vs. 4x games. I brought up this thread last night to my wife and we started talking about it. We even talked about how colonial games are frowned upon but fantasy games with a similar theme/mechanic are fine. One must remember that fiction--including genre fiction like SFF--mirrors our world. As a writer and reader of these genres, I have seen and heard countless times how such-and-such a theme hearkens back to this-or-that experiences in our world. That said, 4x games do seem colonial. My wife brought up some points such as in #Tiny Epic Kingdoms (in two-players, at least) where there is a "local" or, in this case, a Lost Kingdom, faction that you can harry and conquer. Some might say that this is colonialism. And yet, it somehow feels different because it's in a made-up world with fantastical races such as elves, dwarves, and creepy lizardfolk.

My wife and I also talked about lines in the sand. When is it OK to play a game with a certain theme, and when does it become too much? You mentioned how reading books with bad worldviews can be informative and, thus, be protective against such worldviews. I agree with this. Ignoring information because it's uncomfortable--even painful to recall--can be damaging. Knowing is half the battle, as they say on Saturday-morning television, and I think that's true. Learning about such worldviews can help us identify red flags in the future and, hopefully, avoid what happened in the past.

But I also think there is a limit to how such views are ingested. Media that actively promote bad things is media I will stay away from. However, media that touches on those same topics but in a different light is media I will consume, as it is not glorifying said attrocities but rather showing it for what it is. For board games, I enjoy combat-based mechanics and themes. From WWII games to arena combat games, they are interesting, engaging, and fun. But, there are games, such as #Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery, that I will not play due to the nature of the game. Was life like that back then? Sure, maybe (if this is historically accurate), but it's the way the game is created that keeps me from it. I'd play a different Spartacus--same theme, same mechanics--if the content were more family friendly.

This is an interesting subject with a lot of room for interpretation. And, honestly, I think the answer--and the extent of the answer--is going to be different for everyone.

Played lots of games with the family this week and a couple with my group and solo:

  • #Exploding Kittens with #Exploding Kittens: Imploding Kittens, #Exploding Kittens: Streaking Kittens, #Exploding Kittens: Barking Kittens (Physical, Multiplayer) x2: Yup, each kid got an expansion so we played a couple of games with everything.  I mean, it's not the best game ever but it got some laughs and enjoyment. Basically play cards to try to get other players blown up by the exploding kittens while avoiding it yourself.  If you allow yourself to just go with the flow it's fun.
  • #Cult Following (Physical, multiplayer) x7: This is a quick little game that one of my kids got me for Christmas.  Added bonus, the publisher/designer lives like 10 minutes from my house.  Each game of this is maybe 10 or 15 minutes.  Basically you get card prompts to make up what will probably be a silly or horrific cult.  The player who is the recruit asks questions based on the cards they get and give the recruit to the cult whose answer they like best.  First cult to two recruits wins. We actually ended up having a lot of fun and laughs playing it but like all games of this style you need the right group and the right mood.
  • #Underwater Cities (Physical, Solo): Got this one for Christmas and I think I really like it!  Played a solo game and some practice rounds.  I'll do a rambling review of it when I get the chance.
  • #Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy (TTS, Multiplayer): Second play of this lately.  This time with 4.  I REALLY am starting to like this game.  This might be our new go to 4x style of game.
  • #Race for the Galaxy with #Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm (Physical, Solo): Got in a pre-christmas play.  I ordered the gathering storm for the single player aspect but it arrived a bit later than expected.  (Due to christmas rush of course.)  It's a good addition to Race for the Galaxy which has been growing on me as I play it more and more.  Perhaps a quick review of this is in order too.
  • #Treasure Island (TTS, Multiplayer) x2: Not my favourite game but as far as a deduction/finding something on a map game it's pretty fun.  Some interesting moments in there which were entertaining. I likely wouldn't suggest it but I'll play it if someone in the group wants to.

All in all a good week with more gaming to come!