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  1. It's a problem with games writing across the board. Most male characters are just catch-phrase spewing ciphers too, but that cookie cutter is made from a template that suggests "cool" and "action movie" rather than "passive object". Fan/gamer reaction comes into it too. Shaundi's character development in Saints Row received so much negative feedback they made part of the latest game about it. Apparently, "gamers" (read, blokes) didn't appreciate this female character suddenly developing opinions, getting argumentative, wanting to pursue what was important to her and otherwise being "uppity". Good call in the article about Lilith. I <3 Borderlands, but that "make the female character magical" trope is definitely there. I like to think they expanded the character(s) in that game series since the original was being developed, though.
  2. I&C will be delivered tomorrow, purely for the reason of Moar Tiles. We played TTR Swiss by the rules, what would be a house rule? I felt bad for Mrs Ace last night. We played the Swiss map again- I won the first game, then the next game she laid down at least three huge France-Austria tickets. Then we noticed she hadn't claimed the one little single train from Geneva to France... I tried to let her have a do-over for her last move but she didn't have a yellow card (and can't use the loco on that map).
  3. Those action-boosting nobles are a nice touch. One player had more movement, plus diagonal, so didn't need to use any meeples on the staircase, while the other could bring more to the gates and generate coins, so didn't need meeples on the mint and parade ground. The cost reduction on the nobles depending on how many others have been claimed around them is nice, too- do you take that noble, knowing that your opponent can get its neighbour for cheap, or aim elsewhere and force them to move meeples to the mint to afford them. Then with the edge scoring bonus points requiring you to leave a meeple behind (like farms in Carcassonne). One of my "players" did lose by a fair amount, and had way too much money at the end. I have to remind myself that there are no bonus points at game end for money. If I can get Mrs Ace to agree to learn another game, I think she will enjoy it.
  4. We played Tokaido this weekend (including the Crossroads). I think it is never going to be an amazing game with two players (there is a third, "robot" player- the rules say the lead player should control its movement, we just did randomized movement to reduce the stress). It's a very stressful game to play, when you realize how few opportunities you have to develop your sets. For example, you may have a character who gets a bonus action at the temples, and then only land on one temple through the game. Playing "there and back again" might change that dynamic. I personally think the "zen" aspect of the game is the level of inner peace you need to play what is actually a hugely confrontational and antagonistic game. I had also backed the kickstarter, because it was going to be a lot of amazing components for $115- over 30 fully painted minis, metal coin tokens, a bigger board, more characters, etc. I had a huge bout of "buyer's remorse" about how much money that was for some pretty stuff that will stay in a box, so I cancelled my pledge. We also played Ticket to Ride and flipped the India map over to the Swiss version. Mrs Ace usually has an aversion to tunnels, but we both quite enjoyed the map in the end. I particularly liked the country tickets, which gave you some options. The map definitely gets confrontational, but I don't think it was too bad. We won a game each. Rococo I put off suggesting this for a while, because I find it a bit stressful to play, the way the card drafting works you often find yourself in a position to do either what you want to do, or get a tailor who can do something better for you next round. I wanted to discard my starting Master Tailors, for example, but they are required to hire new tailors. Generally, getting to use three tailors in each round that can do two things (main action, and bonus action) is best, but you can't always do that. I stuck to my plan of keeping my deck small (small in Rococo is three or four tailor cards) and making cheaper dresses to win majority in the halls (essentially area control for point scoring). I won that game by a decent margin, perhaps unfairly, as I think I remember/process the game quicker than Mrs Ace does. Carcassonne We tried a game with the King and Scout rules, but decided against them in the future when we saw how difficult it is in a two player game to grab either from whomever gets the longest/biggest feature first. Mrs Ace spends most of her time fretting that her farm is getting boxed in, and then winning by 15 points thanks to the trade goods tokens etc. B&T is definitely the best expansion I've used for this game. I may get I&C in order to have more tile variety, but it's not a priority. Eldritch Horror We played two each (four investigators again) though we started late in the evening which probably wasn't a great omen. Unfortunately for us, we weren't paying attention to the details of the Great Old One we were facing (Yog Sothoth) when choosing investigators. We were stuck on the first mystery for so long (we basically didn't have enough spells or reasons to cast them to clear the mystery) that I counted the Mythos cards and saw we had only six turns left and still hadn't cleared Mystery no.1 This game continues to frustrate me- not with difficulty, but with so much dead time, wasted actions (hang out in a wilderness space with literally nothing you can do while attempting the encounters) and a timing mechanism that makes it obvious that you're basically wasting your time long before the end-game. I called time on the game and put it away. Royal Palace This doesn't count as a real play, but I set this up solo to play two players, and see how the game played out. The worker placement/movement was interesting, though something of a puzzle each turn to get the most out of them. I think it's relatively straightforward to play, though, and the theme is nice (though the theme could just as easily be "robot drones take space-loot from asteroid field")
  5. I can't help choking on the irony of an unauthorized "fan" artist complaining about plagiarism. As a side note, IRS 501c3 registration is not actually required for non-profits, it's just usually a "duh, why wouldn't you" situation.
  6. I've really enjoyed this season, understanding that they have to move things around due to actors schedules, etc. There's a lot of sharp commentary on recent/current US political news which feels relevant, and also, that surprise for Ben which was great.
  7. We played a few of our games this weekend: A Study in Emerald I drew a Restorationist card, and looked at the board. Almost nothing but "Loyalist" action cards on the stacks, but there were some agents. Hmm. I noticed that some of the agents were the ones with the action to push up the Revolution track, so I went for those, and the cities that also have that ability. Laying down four cards in one turn to boost the score track by six was a good feeling. Mrs Ace chased my agents around the board, but only succeeding in murdering anarcha-feminist Emma Goldman in Zurich. I triggered the end-game by running out the Revolution track, scoring a bonus 12 points from it for the win. Ticket to Ride: Europe I hate Angora, so when it showed up on the two most promising starting tickets (Big Cities variant from the 1912 expansion) I groaned a little inside. Fortunately, Mrs Ace was focused mostly on the west coast of France/Spain, and I managed to wiggle a train line from Vienna, via Rome, Athens and Angora. I discarded a high scoring ticket to Moscow, which I would later regret, as the next draw had two more tickets there, and the rest were lines dominated by Mrs Ace's trains. I managed to run up the map from Angora, closing my tickets and ending with one carriage left. I won by thirty points in the end, thanks to the tickets and longest train. Fresco In the two-player game, each player takes turns controlling Robot Leonardo, mostly to be annoying to the other player. This game requires a bit of thinking ahead, as you have to mix primary colour paints to make higher scoring paints, and the paint mixing phase comes after the fresco painting phase. So each turn I was struggling to figure out if I could just paint with what I bought from the market, or if I would have to skip the painting phase to mix the better paints for the following round. Mrs Ace did a good job of locking me out of the good market stalls and start times when she controlled Leonardo. She also bagged the double-punch of portrait cards that both add to the Bishop bonus and allow you to move him to any space on the fresco. She crushed me something like 126 to 90. Leonardo scored 60ish. Carcassonne We currently play this with River 1 & 2*, and Builders and Traders. Mrs Ace scored the pig farm tile on the river, and was looking good for a big farm bonus. Through cunning placement of features, though, I was able to pen in that farm, while working on a bigger one on the other side of the river. I was ahead by quite a few points when Mrs Ace completed a big city, scoring 24 points and enough wine. wheat and cloth to sit on potentially another 30 bonus points. I spent the rest of the game trying to close out cities to get the trade goods, and expand open areas to link cities to my farm. I had the bigger farm, but Mrs Ace also had a good amount of points on the board (almost complete cloisters, etc). I had managed to grab enough wheat to win that bonus, we tied on cloth, and she had way more wine, so our bonuses evened out. The final score was 189/182 in my favour. I really like the Builder & Traders expansion, as it gives you a reason to want to finish an opponent's city, to score the trade goods tokens. *I actually have Count, King & Scout, so we have the heretic shrines also. We don't currently use the other extra rules from this expansion. I may introduce the King & Scout tiles, as with this last game, it would have been interesting- I had made the longest road, and Mrs Ace had made the largest city. Eldritch Horror We went back to taking on Azathoth for this game, with the idea that it would be shorter. We chose two investigators each. I had Charlie the politician, and Lily the martial artist. Mrs Ace took Jaqueline the psychic, and Akachi the shaman. Charlie suffered relatively early from an incident in Tokyo (he is generally best positioned here to assist with monster management, while fed-exing assets to the other investigators) which sent some slavering, unspeakable horror from beyond right to his doorstep. His personal assistant clearly decided that this wasn't the kind of work she had signed up for, and she shivved him with a letter opener promptly afterwards, removing him from the game. Step up, Norman the astronomer from Miskatonic University. Jacqueline was doing a great job of spawning clues in London, and then sending her own clues (gathered from our many acquired conditions) out to whomever needed them. Norman demonstrated some use in discarding a Star Spawn in Sydney, but soon after agreeing to a Dark Pact, was devoured, by something un-named, and un-nameable. Akachi, meanwhile was rocking the otherworld armed with a shotgun, closing down gates and zipping around the globe. Trish the spy joined the battle for the world, then spent most of her time incarcerated in Russia- worst spy ever. She did help to solve a mystery, crucially, with her ability to generate her own clues, and with Jaqueline sending out others via the aether, Trish was able to gather an eldritch token for the third mystery. No more gates could spawn, so doom crept inexorably closer, which mitigated Akachi's awesomeness. However, the Silver Twilight gave her passage from Antarctica to Sydney, which meant that she was one jump from India and the final required eldritch token, winning us the game. In the end, I personally had lost two investigators to Unknown Blasphemies From Beyond, while Mrs Ace, who still feels somewhat overwhelmed by the game, worked an effective team with her two, especially Akachi, who was by far our MVI (Most Valuable Investigator). The real problem I have with the game, though, is that as fun as it is to write about it, it is actually pretty dull to play, especially when you have to recycle the encounter cards and get the same ones over again.
  8. I really do like the look of that Viticulture game, though the (justified) wait until Nov for release at the earliest is too long for me to put that kind of money down now.
  9. http://ripecamera.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/all-cameras-are-better-than-you-are.html Related to that, and the Digital Rev video on $100 cameras, I looked on eBay and saw I could get a 30D for < $120. It tempts me so long as I don't remember how heavy that gear was.
  10. Audrey is a huge plot thread left hanging All that being said, it was still the best thing on TV this year to date, and I enjoyed it.
  11. I know it's science fiction, but they lost me when
  12. I found it crushingly dull, lifeless, with no genuine emotion or drama in the whole running time.
  13. This topic on BGG shows one ranked list (hardest to easiest), I dunno if you can read forums there: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1027303/learning-the-game-how-do-you-rate-ancient-ones First of all the rankings of all the AO can be seen here which from hardest to easiest lists them as: Yog-Sothoth Cthulhu Shub-Niggurath Hastur Azathoth Yig Nyarlathotep Ithaqua
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