Wednesday 30 December 2009

Through the Ages photo finish

I guess I'm not repentant about posting too many photos of Through the Ages...

This was a game I played with Michelle on 28 Dec 2009. The normal game rounds ended with me (white) at 121pts and Michelle (red) at 109pts. Now it was time for the last 4 event cards to be revealed.

Impact of Population gave Michelle 26pts! It gave me 14pts. We were now both at 135pts. Obviously this card was seeded by her.

Impact of Competition gave Michelle 4pts and me 0pts. She was now leading. This card was seeded by her.

Impact of Architecture was seeded by me. It gave Michelle 14pts and me 13pts. I had underestimated how quickly she could build more urban buildings.

Impact of Wonders was seeded by Michelle I think. We both scored 14pts from this. Michelle won (after a long drought of 17 games) by 5pts!

Michelle had played some nasty events during this game, all hurting me, or hurting me more than her. I guess I can only blame myself for not keeping up in military strength. She used to say that she dislikes playing bad events, so now I kept teasing her about her having no qualms doing these to me anymore.

My civilisation. My urban buildings were very minimalistic - only two types, the original two types that everyone starts the game with (temples and labs). I had not played any military unit cards. I did take a Cannon card from the card row but still had it in my hand by game end.

I had the Michael combo - Michelangelo + Hanging Gardens + St Peter's Basilica, and that gave me lots of points and a huge lead in mid game. But it also meant I had to forgo improvements in other areas in order to make the most out of it. I had Julius Caesar but didn't use him much. Michelangelo came early and I fired Caesar barely after he had warmed the seat for Michelangelo.

Michelle's civilisation. She had much better urban buildings and armies.

Michelle's Fertile Territory and Inhabited Territory helped her a lot. Her leaders were all the bookish type, starting with her favourite Aristotle. She had four blue techs compare to my one.

Sunday 27 December 2009

gaming and shooting aliens in photos

27 Dec 2009. Through the Ages. This was one tight game that I won by only 11pts, in a game with scores above 300. I didn't do so well in stone production, but Masonry, and later Engineering, and some yellow action cards helped me. This was one game that I managed to hit 29 culture per turn (although only on the very last turn).

The other part of my civilisation. One unusual thing is I managed to build two Age A wonders. This was due to a combination of not spending stone on anything else (except one early mine), the timing of the wonders, and also one timely yellow action card that allowed building one stage of a wonder for 2 stones less. I always like the Hanging Gardens. Even better when combined with St Peter's Basilica. I think I could have taken Michaelangelo if I had wanted to (not too sure), but I didn't, because I needed to get my infrastructure up to speed. I find that Through the Ages is all about building good overall infrastructure and all about preparing yourself for the big gains in Age III (or starting from late Age II). I rarely focus on culture in the early game. I don't like wonders like Taj Mahal (an early, culture-only wonder).

Michelle's civilisation. She had four colonies, and most of these were seeded into the events deck by me! I was really unlucky with colonies. She always had just enough colonisation strength to beat me. One colony came up immediately after I had to discard two expired colonisation cards. I only had 2 colonies, and only one was won via an event. The other was a gift from Columbus (my leader). Possibly one reason that Michelle lost was she had not made use of leaders for all 4 ages.

Michelle's civilisation. Her governance was better from early game. Towards the late game her actions started to feel inadequate.

27 Dec 2009. Space Hulk (1st edition). Han and I played Mission 2. One squad of 5 marines need to kill 30 genestealers (aliens) to win the game. The genestealers need to kill the whole squad to win. The game starts with all 5 marines in different rooms. In the centre of this photo Han's marine captain had advanced down the long corridor. I had one blip (unknown number of 1 to 3 genestealers appearing as a blip on the marines' sensors) hiding just behind a corner, and another one trying to catch the captain from behind.

The set up for this scenario was huge. It barely fit my dining table. Han pushed his marines towards the two ends, where genestealers could appear. If he could secure both ends and be within 6 spaces of the genestealer entry points, no genestealers would be allowed to appear anymore and the marines would win.

"Am I royally screwed or what?"

This strategy didn't work out very well. Han had played Mission 2 of Space Hulk 3rd edition with Chong Sean, which is very similar but has some differences. I think his strategy was somewhat affected by this. His captain had an unfortunate gun jamming, and was quickly overwhelmed by the genestealers.

Two marines guarding the doors at the other end of the board. My genestealers lurked behind the doors, reluctant to attack until more "back-up" came.

Han's flamethrower marine was rather undecided where to go. He initially decided to go help out those two marines above, but later decided to go the other direction. Those two marines were probably thinking, "With friends like these... "

The flamethrower was rather unlucky. He fired at two of my genestealers, and miraculously both didn't get killed. Both rolled 1's and survived. They soon killed the flamethrower. Eventually the marines were overwhelmed.

This was a second game we played, of the same scenario, but we switched sides. Learning from the first game, I played defensively instead. I retreated my marines towards the centre of the board. Here two regular marines were on overwatch (i.e. on the genestealers turns they could shoot at anything that moves - with some risk of the guns jamming though). My flamer had come to meet up with them. I was planning to have all three of them retreat down the corridor on the left.

The other side of the board. The captain (red base) was running (well, as close to running as you can get wearing such heavy armour) away from the approaching blips. The other marine had opened the door for him.

This was one exciting moment of the game. My flamer had died, having only fired one shot. He was caught by a genestealer in the room on the right. The genestealers were now approaching my two regular marines. Thankfully one was on overwatch and could keep shooting. I had been quite lucky with overwatch shooting. Many 6's (hits) and not too much jamming (doubles). In the background the captain and the other regular marine were both on overwatch shooting down the corridor.

I was in progress to retreat to this room. All four of my marines were on overwatch now. Eventually I was able to kill 30 genestealers, and all four of these guys survived.

Space Hulk is a very exciting game. It really feels like being in an action movie. It is fast paced. The two sides play very differently. But one can't help identifying with the marines. I think the genestealer player will be rooting for the humans too, but of course he has to do his best to give a good challenge to his opponent.

27 Dec 2009. Pandemic with Virulent Strain variant from On the Brink. A 3 player game with Han and Michelle. Yellow was the virulent strain, but it was red, the last disease to be cured, which almost defeated us. Hmm... I wonder whether someone who doesn't know the game will think these are high-rise buildings. Shanghai and Tokyo do indeed have many high-rise buildings. I think.

27 Dec 2009. Hacienda. 2-player game with Michelle, in which she beat me very decisively. She blocked me mercilessly, and this photo is the evidence. She completely surrounded that market with 4 sheep. She did play well. She did her market-connecting very well, having 3 more than me at mid-game scoring. She also played the lakes better (and earlier).

Thursday 24 December 2009

buying games

Self-control when buying games is a recurring theme at my blog. I keep telling myself about this, and despite some successes in curbing my buying habit, I still feel I could have done better. Now that the year end is approaching, I start looking at all the stats about my boardgame hobby that I have been meticulously recording. I had set a loose target of buying no more than 20 games a year. I am at 19 now (not counting 2 self-made games), so I'll meet this target if I can hold off buying any more games until end of this month. I do have some games on my definite-buy list now, e.g. Agricola: Farmers of the Moor, Axis & Allies Pacific 1940, but I can hold off for a while.

Here's a list of things I need to remind myself of. Maybe this will be helpful to you too.

  1. You don't need to own every game that you like. If a friend has it, play his/her copy, or borrow it if you really feel like playing the game. I am working on convincing myself I don't need to buy Dungeon Lords ...
  2. You don't need to play every good game. So what if you don't have the opportunity to play one particular game that you think you will love? Don't you already have lots of other games that you love that you're not playing much? So...
  3. You need to play more of the good games that you own. For me, games like Die Macher, Power Grid.
  4. Wait until your interest wanes. Procrastinate. When you hear of a certain new game, you can get very excited about it. Put it on your watchlist. Let it cool for 6 months. If 6 months later you still feel hot for it, then go for it. The wait will also allow you to read more reviews. Early reviews tend to be positive.
  5. Don't impulse buy. "Don't marry a person you can live with. Marry a person you can't live without". Something like that.

Here are my 2009 purchases and what I feel about them:

  1. Le Havre - (11 plays) I like it a lot, almost as much as Agricola. I wonder why I haven't played this more. Somehow it didn't have an addiction period or hot game period like Agricola did. Maybe it's the number of cards in Agricola.
  2. Axis & Allies anniversary edition - (2 plays, but both PBEM games and not using my physical copy of the game) I have a soft spot for the Axis & Allies family. That all I need to justify this purchase.
  3. Automobile - (8 plays)
  4. Civilization - (2 plays before I bought this on eBay, 0 after) Need to find the right group and a right time (i.e. long enough). Kind of like Die Macher. This doesn't work with 2P.
  5. Keltis - (20 plays)
  6. Wasabi - (17 plays)
  7. Space Alert - (3 plays) Need to play more to have a more solid opinion. I can't even beat the Level 2 (of 3) tutorials yet. This one also needs a right group. My wife doesn't like it.
  8. Indonesia - (1 play) Want to play more. This probably needs 4 players. And 4 hours.
  9. Pandemic: On the Brink - (11 plays) Excellent value for money.
  10. Galaxy Trucker Big Expansion - (1 play before I decided to buy it, 2 after I had it) After many games of Galaxy Trucker, this expansion becomes necessary to keep the game challenging and brutal.
  11. Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium - (18 plays) Buying this is as natural as eating rice (to a Malaysian).
  1. Mystery Rummy: Bonnie & Clyde - (21 plays) I didn't realise I have played this many times. Good game and good addition to the Mystery Rummy family. But I don't seem to play it much now. Our default card game is Race for the Galaxy. Used to be Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper.
  2. Metropolys - (1 play before buying it, 6 plays after) It's quite unique. Haven't played much recently though. Well, at least it passed the 5-plays-in-1st-year-of-purchase mark.
  3. Barbarossa - (1 before, 0 after) Bought a used copy. Anticipating playing with my children when they are older.
  4. Um Reifenbreite - (1 before, 3 after) Chong Sean gave me an offer I couldn't resist. I think this is the only race game in my collection. I don't fancy race games. One good thing is I have played this (albeit with much simplified rules) with my 4-year-old daughter.
  5. Kakerlaken Poker - (1 before, 1 after, and both being 2P games, the "least good" way of playing I think) I intended to buy this piggy-backing on Chong Sean's game order, but afterwards he declined my payment and gave it to me as a gift. This is a game good for bigger groups and for non-gamers. I don't have such occasions often, so this becomes kind of an on-standby game.
  6. Rabbit Hunt - (1 before, 2 after) Interesting first game. So-so second game. Need to play more.
  1. Monopoly Deal - (4 plays) Impulse buy. I bought it using a gift voucher, which I should have spent on something else. The game is not bad, but nothing really draws me.
  2. A Game of Thrones LCG - (4 plays) One I wanted to like, because I love the books. I haven't given up on it yet. I don't think 4 plays is enough to confirm I don't like it.

I feel a bit better after writing this down. It seems I didn't do too bad in 2009. Hopefully in 2010 I have more in the Happy list and less in the Unsure and Unhappy lists.

My current watchlist. Not the full list, just the higher ranked ones. Darn... that's already 17 out of 20 slots for 2010. Trim trim trim.

  1. Agricola: Farmers of the Moor (buy)
  2. Axis & Allies Pacific: 1940 edition (buy)
  3. Axis & Allies Europe: 1940 edition (not out yet) (buy)
  4. Race for the Galaxy: Brink of War (not out yet) (buy)
  5. Power Grid - Factory Manager
  6. At the Gates of Loyang
  7. Campaign Manager 2008 (not out yet, I think)
  8. Dominion: Seaside (I don't have Dominion: Intrigue though)
  9. Times Square
  10. Greed, Incorporated
  11. Hansa Teutonica
  12. Twilight Struggle
  13. Homesteaders
  14. Dungeon Lords
  15. Warriors of God
  16. Carson City
  17. Power Struggle / Machtspiele

Already ordered. Oops... I'm actually already over 20.

  1. Funny Friends
  2. Planet Steam
  3. Keltis - Die Erweiterung
  4. Tales of the Arabian Nights

Wednesday 23 December 2009

gaming in photos

12 Dec 2009. Through the Ages. This was a game that Michelle should have won. She has had a very long losing streak in Through the Ages, and yet she still likes to play. We both thought she was finally going to win a game. I was happy for her. Then when the final four events were revealed, the strongest military event played by her gave me 10pts. She had miscalculated and had forgotten to boost up her military. She was the last to take a turn and could have done it. I remember I was only 1 strength ahead of her, and knowing that she could have easily boosted her strength on the last turn of the game, I gave up trying to be the strongest military, even though I had guessed she probably had played that event card. The score was 314 vs 308.

This was my civilisation. As usual, we didn't spend much effort on military. That air force card was only there for scoring for science related wonders / events. In this game I fell behind in science for most of the mid game and struggled quite badly. Notice I have few Age III technology cards.

I did have the Michael combo (Michaelangelo + Hanging Gardens + St Peter's Basilica), which gave me good points in mid game, but towards the end game Michelle caught up easily with her better overall science and infrastructure. I rarely build the Transcontinental Railroad wonder, but now I find it quite useful. It definitely helps a lot when your stone production is not ideal. The 5-strength is significant too, because my games with Michelle are always low military games.

Michelle's civilisation. She likes Aristotle a lot. Look at the many Age III tech cards she had. She had strong science is this game. In the past she often lost out because she didn't build any Age III wonder. She is correcting this now.

The other part of Michelle's civilisation.

12 Dec 2009. Wasabi. I still enjoy this game once in a while, despite the luck. I guess playing it as a 2-player game reduces the luck factor a little. On the following day we went for Japanese food.

Near the end of the game, when the board was about to fill up. I had completed my 5-ingredient recipe, which contained the squid (at the centre of the board). Completing your 5-ingredient recipe is always quite tense. It's tough to do. You need to try to hide your intention, and also hope that your opponents don't accidentally spoil your plan.

12 Dec 2009. Race for the Galaxy (with both expansions). This was Michelle's winning tableau. What a beautifully executed novelty goods (blue) strategy. She had Free Trade Association early, and had planned for this strategy early. Having Improved Logistics (settle twice) and Smuggling World (-1 discount to settle novelty goods worlds) allowed her to settle two such 1-cost worlds in the last round. She really had the stars aligned. She scored 51pts.

13 Dec 2009. Through the Ages again. My civilisation. I happened to have some theatres and libraries, so I took Shakespeare as my leader when he appeared. It wasn't much, just 6pts per turn, but it was worthwhile. Unfortunately, Michelle had planted the Iconoclasm event, and when it came out, Shakespeare had, ahem, an early termination of his employment contract. Using Iconoclasm to kill my leaders is one of the most satisfying things for Michelle. She has been doing it quite frequently. I think this is almost as good as winning the game to her. She gets a big kick out of it.

I had many colonies, because I played the Cartography card early, which gave me a bonus in colonisation. Michelle was unlucky with her card draws. She prefers peaceful games, but she kept drawing aggression and tactics cards, which she seldom uses. I always had just enough to beat her in conquering a new territory. These colonies helped me a lot. I gained so many extra blue and yellow tokens. Yellow tokens were especially useful because they help reduce both pressure for food production and pressure for maintaining happiness.

In this game I was able to build two Age III wonders!

Michelle's civilisation. She had good science from her labs, and when combined with Game Designer, they gave her good culture production. Her food and stone production were better than mine. I struggled with those most of the game, until late in the game. If it weren't for my colonies, I probably would have done much worse.

Michelle had Aristotle again. The Ocean Liner Service is one of her favourite wonders.

Game board at end of game. I managed to make sure I was ahead in all 3 aspects (I was white) - military strength, culture production and science production - so that if related events came up I would do fine. None of the events that eventually came up were related though.

13 Dec 2009. It has been a while since I last played Age of Empires III. I still quite like it, although I think I have never played it with 4 or more, which I think it would be best at. This was a 2-player game, and I still enjoyed it.

My buildings point to a very obvious strategy. From the start I had decided to send as many people as I could to the New World, to gain lots of points from area majority. Three of these four buildings help me towards this goal.

We tended to like to collect trade goods. In this round all spaces were occupied.

Michelle had very many people to place every round - 8 as opposed to the regular 5. In this particular round she had 9 because she had used a worker to obtain an extra merchant the previous round.

My two (green) missionaries pleading to the soldier to be nice. In the end Michelle never started any war.

14 Dec 2009. This was one very tough game of Pandemic with the Virulent Strain variant from the On the Brink expansion. This was the end of the game when we had managed to cure all 4 diseases. Many cities were on the verge of outbreaks, many would have caused chain reactions. We were also running out of cards (i.e. running out of time).

This was why the game was so tough. The first Epidemic forced us to draw many more infection cards than normal. Every turn that we drew at least one blue infection card, which was the virulent strain in this game, we had to draw an extra infection card. The 3rd Epidemic was bad too. Cleared cities were infected immediately with two cubes instead of one. We had cured the blue disease early, and had intended to eradicate it once and for all. But soon we realised it was going to be hopeless. Thankfully we managed to cure the other 3 diseases in time before time ran out. Making good use of our character powers (Epidemiologist and Troubleshooter) helped a lot.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium

Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium is the second expansion to Race for the Galaxy, my most played game ever. There has never been a doubt that I would buy this expansion, and the next one, Race for the Galaxy: On the Brink, expected early 2010.

Rebel vs Imperium adds new start worlds, new cards, new objective tiles, and takeovers. Takeovers is probably the most interesting new mechanic introduced. It adds some direct aggression to the game. During the Settle phase, if certain conditions are met, you can rob a military world from an opponent's tableau. Only four cards in the whole deck allow takeovers. You need to have played one of them to be able to attack someone else. In addition to that, your target need to have a specific vulnerability that your specific card can attack. E.g. if you have positive military power, you can be targeted. If you have rebel worlds, or you have Imperium cards, you can also be attacked. For a takeover to be successful, the attacker's military power needs to be at least the defender's military power plus the defense value of the military world.

I have played 12 games with Rebel vs Imperium, 8 of which had takeovers turned on (you can opt to play without this). However so far I still have not seen an actual takeover. Maybe it's because all my games have been 2-player games. With fewer players, it is harder for the conditions for takeovers to be met. However, having takeovers turned on did impact our games. We were conscious of it, and it made us think twice before playing Rebel, or Imperium, or military strength cards. However overall the impact of takeovers to the game feels small. I think whenever it does come into play it will become a major factor in deciding that particular game. Just like armies. In peace time you don't feel their impact, but when war breaks out, their strengths decide the fates of nations. I think I will continue to play with takeovers all the time, since with 2-players it is so hard to have an opportunity to see it in action anyway. The rules recommend turning on takeovers for alternative games, but I think that is probably for games with more players.

The additional components for the newly introduced takeover aspect of the game. You use this small board to track your military strength and your vulnerabilities. The pink and purple cubes on the left means you have a Rebel world, and you have an Imperium card respectively. The red cube on the strength track indicates your basic military strength. The pink one indicates your strength specific for attacking Rebel worlds, which may be higher than your basic strength. The square counters are indicators for defense against takeovers. The big round tile is just a reminder for whether takeover is turned on. It is when this side is face-up. Strictly speaking, none of these components are absolutely necessary, but they do make it much easier to see your opponents' strengths and vulnerabilities at a glance. Must easier than checking all the cards and doing the adding every time.

Rebel vs Imperium adds more new cards than Gathering Storm (the 1st expansion). Most of them are interesting. There are quite a few 6-cost developments, which will allow new strategies to be pursued. There is an 8-defense and a 9-defense military world, which are such tempting targets, and yet can be a hindrance if you keep holding the card in your hand and end up never being able to play them. There are quite a few quirky new card powers (e.g. you end the game at 14 instead of 12 cards), and quirky cards (e.g. one of the cards is both an Uplift and an Alien card). I find the new cards very interesting. They make the game richer. I really enjoy exploring the various strategies and various combinations of cards.

A game with the Rebel vs Imperium cards. 2nd row, 3rd card - Mercenary Fleet. It gives +2 strength, and you can discard cards to gain temporary strength. 3rd row, 4th card - Rebel Stronghold. That's a 9-point card, but it's hard to conquer.

Two of the new start worlds were designed to work with the Rebel and the Imperium strategies respectively. Not that they are all that powerful. It's more like you start with the respective vulnerabilities. You start being at risk of getting conquered by the other side. You can have both Rebel and Imperium cards in play. However it will also mean you are vulnerable to more types of attacks.

The new rule that allows you to select one from two start worlds is good. One option will always be a blue (usually peaceful) start world, and the other a red (usually more militaristic) start world. That gives a bit more control. You choose your start world after looking at your initial hand of cards.

The new objectives (objectives are introduced only in Gathering Storm) are nothing spectacular, but they do add some variety. I find that by now the objectives that came with Gathering Storm are starting to feel a bit repetitive. So I welcome some variety.

For those who like Race for the Galaxy, getting Rebel vs Imperium is a no-brainer. The only issue I have with the game is - damn, there are a lot of cards to shuffle.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

gaming (and space-trucking) in photos

29 Nov 2009. Through the Ages. I have not played this for a while, and still enjoy it a lot. This is yet another 2P game with Michelle. This seems to be the only way we play now. In this game, the Internet wonder gave me 36 points! 6 points for each of my labs and libraries, which were all Age III buildings.

29 Nov 2009. Galaxy Trucker with Big Expansion. We played with the new tiles (including the blue aliens) and with the Rough Roads expansion. In this particular game we had Defective Connectors (one of the Rough Roads cards), which meant connecting the components became much trickier. As much as possible we had to connect simple connectors to simple connectors, doubles to doubles and universals to universals. Normally you can connect universals no either singles or doubles. You are only restricted to not connect singles with doubles. With this card, every mismatching connection slows down the spaceship by one. Our game went very slow because of this.

Notice I only had 3 mismatching connections on the leftmost two columns of my spaceship. So my total speed is only 2, instead of 5. I was desperate enough to use the blue alien life support component (lower left side) as a connector. I had no cabin for the alien.

Michelle had 5 mismatching connections, which means her speed is only 1 - 4 from engines, 2 from the brown alien, and minus 5 for mismatching connections.

Michelle had one extra shield component (lower left corner) which she had "reserved" earlier but was unable to build into her spaceship. That's a $1 penalty. Also notice how many cabins (with 2 astronauts and the brown alien) that she had compared to mine. In this game there were very few cabins and we had to race to find them. With the Big Expansion, due to the additional tiles added into the component mix, you remove 25 tiles for every player less than 5. Only two of us played, so we had to remove 75 tiles.

There was a saboteur on board my ship, and it so happened he sabotaged this particular engine tile (see lower centre part). That's very very bad, because...

... it meant this whole chunk on the left side of my spaceship fell off. I have noone to blame except myself, for poor construction. There is worse news. The other Rough Roads card we had in play was the one where any components falling off from spaceships flying in front of you become large meteors flying towards you. I was in front, which meant...

... there were 10 big meteors speeding towards Michelle's spaceship. They eventually destroyed two thirds of her spaceship. It was all my fault...

Later on, on another adventure card, she was hit by another meteor or cannon fire (I don't remember which), and lost another big chunk of her spaceship. Hmm... now that I look at this photo, I wonder why she didn't choose to lose the smaller broken off part. Probably she made a mistake.

This was what remained of her spaceship.

And yet she (red) reached the destination first, scoring more money ($12) for first arrival. She also scored the $6 bonus for "most beautiful ship", because she had the least exposed connectors. She didn't have many components left to give her many exposed connectors. And what's even more amazing is, she won this game by $2!!! Where's the justice??! Maybe I deserved to lose because it was my fault for causing her so much damage. Karma. It's karma... 报应...

5 Dec 2009. Ticket to Ride: Switzerland. Michelle and I still occasionally bring out one of the Ticket to Ride games to play. Since we usually play 2-player games, our favourite ways to play are Ticket to Ride: Switzerland and original Ticket to Ride with the Big Cities variant that comes with the 1910 expansion. In Ticket to Ride: Switzerland, the Zurich area is almost always congested.

5 Dec 2009. Keltis. The board is randomly set up every time. This particular setup is rather unusual, because the tiles on the yellow track are all wishing stones. Unfortunately I did not have many yellow cards that game. Too bad.

6 Dec 2009. Through the Ages. Another game played with Michelle on a Sunday morning. We are usually quite peaceful and do not spend much effort on military. We rarely play Aggression or War cards. Our military are mostly for surviving events and grabbing colonies. So we usually can do better in infrastructure - science, stone production, food production, culture production etc.

I had 5 colonies in this game, and I had James Cook, which gives 2 culture per colony every turn. Unfortunately he died rather young (I think just 2 turns). He came up as the very last card in Age II, and the Iconoclasm event seeded by Michelle came up soon after he became my leader. Sigh. The Colossus is upside down because we had the Ravages of Time event, which "expires" one Age A wonder. It loses its effect and produces 2 culture per turn instead. My First Space Flight wonder is placed sideways because I failed to complete it. I miscalculated and was one turn short from completing it. My stone production wasn't very strong in Age III.

6 Dec 2009. Galaxy Trucker with Big Expansion. This was ship class IA. It can be oriented in any direction you like. It's a bad-luck ship. Look at the numbers surrounding it. In this game if you are shot at or a meteor flies towards you, you roll two dice to determine where you get hit. These numbers around the ship means no matter what number you roll, your ship will get hit. Those 4 astronauts lying down are frozen in a hibernation unit. You can wake them up if you lose some astronauts during the flight.

Michelle's class IA ship, with a different and more conventional orientation.

My class IIA ship. I employed a blue (cyan?) alien this time. The blue aliens all have different special abilities. This particular one that I recruited helped me sell red and yellow cubes at higher prices.

My class III ship.

Michelle's class III ship.

... which crashed and burned. Well that wasn't too bad. She still had half a ship left. Crashing and burning in Galaxy Trucker can be very brutal, because you can enter a downward spiral. Get hit once, and as you lose some components, your engine strength, or crew size, or firepower reduces, which makes you even more vulnerable in the next encounter.

This was the first time we played with the Evil Machinations expansion. Each player draws 4 Evil Machinations cards at the start of the game. These are special events. Before the building stage of each of the 3 flights, every player secretly selects one Evil Machinations card to play for that flight. These cards are shuffled into the adventure cards deck before the flight phase. I find that the effects of these Evil Machinations cards are not too bad. The Rough Roads expansion is tougher. But the Evil Machination cards can be sneaky, because for each of them only one player knows what to expect. So when you play with this, you probably want to watch how your opponents build their ships, to try to guess what they're up to.

6 Dec 2009. Carcassonne, with Inns & Cathedrals and Abbey and Mayor and some other small expansions. I played a lot of Carcassonne in my early days in the boardgaming hobby. Quite a number of friends whom I introduced it to bought it too. I still enjoy playing it once in a while.

Red fat boy (a.k.a. big meeple) threatening to take over a to-be-merged castle from the green mayor (I call it baggy pants). It was tough to find a tile that fitted in this, so eventually Michelle gave up and put down her abbey tile. Her fat boy was stuck here for quite some time. She probably should have freed her fat boy earlier.