A Year in Board Gaming – 2013.4-7; Agricola ACBAS, Pandemic, Mage Knight

2013.4 – Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – 1/13/2013

Agricola ACBAS YBG 2013.4

I think this is the third time we’ve played this one. We acquired it at BGG.Con last year. It is a light, fast worker placement game derived from the classic Agricola which is much heavier and more expansive. While Agricola deals with all the aspects of raising/developing a farm, All Creatures Big and Small (ACBAS) is just about raising and keeping the animals.

Jessica pursued a get-as-many-animals-as-you-can strategy, trying to get the extra bonuses you get for getting a number of each animal over a certain threshold. She ended up with more animal points than me, but my building approach yielded better results.

Agricola ACBAS YBG 2013.4

I favor some of the buildings because of their high yield in victory points and storage of large numbers of animals. I can throw a feeding trough on a 5-animal building to make it hold 10, and it becomes very versatile. I enjoy the tactile feel of the animals, troughs, and fences. For such a small and short game, it has SO many fun pieces to play with.

Play Rating: Fun Farm

2013.5 – Pandemic – 1/16/2013
We play all our Pandemic games with the On the Brink expansion. It offers excellent new roles as well as some variant play styles. This game, we played with the Mutation challenge. It adds a fifth disease that pops up randomly and can get out of control quickly. With half as many cubes for the fifth disease, the game can end quickly if you don’t contain it.

Jessica played the Containment Specialist, and I played the one that doesn’t have to discard the card to Direct Flight (Technologist I think?). Red got out of control early (doesn’t it always?), with black following soon after. We nipped red in the bud with such a concerted effort, it never really threatened again. Black was our first cure. Blue never really got going, but yellow nearly lost it for us in the end because we never really maintained it. Our closest call was probably with the Mutation virus. It got down to one cube left when Jessica was able to cure it and remove a bunch of them with an event card that pulls five cubes all out at once.

We’ve played three games now with this expansion, and I find that it really breathes new life into the game. Before, I was probably more hesitant to play, but the expanded combination of roles and challenges make this much more interesting.

Play Rating: No longer “On the Brink” of not playing any more

2013.6 – Mage Knight – 1/18/2013

Mage Knight YBG 2013.6

This was our third game of Mage Knight and our first full mission! We played the Full Cooperative which has 6 rounds, 3 of day and night each. It took us about 5 hours. As I mentioned before, each person alternates playing turns in each round basically until someone’s draw deck goes empty. Your cards are played to move around the board, influence locals into action, and combat enemies. This time, we would be working toward a common goal: Conquer three cities before the end of the third night!

We experienced some frustration early on with not being able to do much with our turns. As we kept pursuing fame and leveling-up our MAGE KNIGHTS, we became quite a bit more versatile. We had a little too much fun roaming the countryside, finding things to do, as we soon found ourselves feeling a little pressed for time to find the cities so that we could conquer them. We eventually revealed our first city (blue), but it was behind some awful dragon and hedged in by so much impassable water. I made it to a monastery there, but knew I couldn’t do much in the city without Jessica. I got my hands on a sweet movement action that let me traverse the lakes. It revealed the red city, and it was there that Jessica met me to assault it together.

Mage Knight YBG 2013.6

We got ourselves pretty beaten up by our first assault and were turned away without finishing it. We decided to look for the third city to get a feel for how we should plan our remaining time. Feeling the pressure, we found the third city (green), and assaulted it as well. We did feel a little more confident here but were turned away yet again. We had reached the end of the third day, and since it was about 1:15am, we decided to call it quits. Some quick math showed that we probably could have finished conquering the red and green cities during the last round. We gave ourselves an estimated score of 90 which is pretty abysmal. It’s ok though because I felt like we did pretty well never having played a full scenario before.

My thoughts: 1) We will probably always and forever play cooperatively in this one. The game has plenty of screwage to hand out on its own, we would really not enjoy having each other steal mana at the wrong time or taking that dungeon the other had their eyes on. 2) I loved the feeling of being so much more powerful at the end compared to the beginning. 3) We will do better as we learn the pace of the game.

Play Rating: Jessica, the Dragon Slayer

2013.7 – Mage Knight – 1/21/2013

Mage Knight YBG 2013.7

This was my first (and probably last) solo play. I had read a lot of BoardGameGeek about it being great for solo play. Part of the reason I was so excited to get this is that I know I probably want to play games more than Jessica, and I could play this when she wasn’t too terribly enthused. Sounds like a winning scenario, but I failed to remember the thing that I learn everytime I play something solo: I hate playing solo. I don’t understand it because I am such an introvert, but I cannot find much motivation to play board games on my own or even without face-to-face interaction. I don’t even enjoy online play of some of my favorite boardgames.

STILL, this was probably the best solo experience I’d ever had. It took me about 3.5 hours to play. In the solo scenario, the objective is to find and conquer two cities. I started the game taking way too long mucking around a monastery and roaming the countryside killing orcs and raiding a dungeon. At least it felt like I was losing time. Still, the dungeon yielded a nice killing spell that would prove useful in defeating both cities. After mucking around the first two tiles, I revealed a bunch in quick succession along with some pretty pitiful enemies that I was able to mow over without much trouble.

Mage Knight YBG 2013.7

On my way to the cities, I was able to amass about 5 or 6 advanced actions, two spells, and two banner artifacts. My units were ready and willing to do some killing. I revealed the green city first and made short work of it over two turns. I then recruited some brand-spanking-new units, and went after the second city (white). It was by then the last night of the game, and I couldn’t for the life of me reveal any combat cards. The dummy player (glorified timer) was chewing through his deck, and I worried I wouldn’t find the right cards though. My beloved killing spells showed up though. After some puzzling over mana/crystal combinations for some time, I came up with the best line of attack and took out two of the four defenders. The next (and last because the dummy triggered end of round) turn ended with me sitting atop the city in victory. Score: 168.

Epic game. I was a juggernaut at the end and could have run through anything. I was accompanied by units of mass destruction. I was quite pleased. But still, I don’t know that I’ll ever play it solo again. I just don’t get enough value out of these games when it is just me pushing my bits around the table for my own amusement. I need someone else to be amused at my bit-pushing. Luckily, Jessica has indicated a willingness to always be amused at/by me. Can’t wait to play this again with her.

Play Rating: Epically Lonely

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