Monday, February 12, 2018

Painting Descent - Crusade of the Forgotten

So, as part of my February Painting Challenge, I said I'd get the last hero (Astarra) from the Crusade of the Forgotten Hero and Monster collection for Descent finished. The main reason I chose her? Once finished, I'd have completed the set (and for me, completing anything is a miracle). So I did (complete painting her). I wasn't planning to detail out my work on her like I did Augur, but as I was working on her I noticed a couple of things and so I took a couple quick shots that I thought I'd share. These are kind of the thing that I typically encounter when working on minis.

First off (at least for Descent), I take a look at the art for the figure(s) to get a sense of the colors and details that might be on the figures. A lot of the monster figure art is a bit similar/bland (at least on the monster cards you get in the game), so there is a fair bit of leeway in deciding on what to do. In those cases, I also look to see what others have done with their paint jobs. Astarra's art is pretty straight forward, but like a lot of figures, the card art doesn't show all the figure (she is mostly cut off from the knees down), so I went looking for other paint jobs, and there just aren't many. Not a huge deal, just thought it was odd that so few folks have painted this figure and posted pictures. At any rate, her card was good enough to get started. I painted her skin in first and then hit her with the tan so I could lay down some yellow. As I was doing that, I realized I had missed some skin. if you look closely at the picture (I circled the offending part), you can see that I painted the back of her leg yellow. I decided I'd finish the yellow and come back to redo the leg.

Again, this kind of thing is typical for me. Once I start filling things in, I realize that something is not quite what I thought it was going to be. Now, I could have left that part of her leg yellow and honestly, nobody would have likely noticed, but I knew, so I had to fix it. Having said that, there are plenty of times I would have it something alone, but this was going to be easy enough to fix that I went ahead and corrected it. The other thing to note - when I was painting the cloth at the top of her boots, I realized there was a little leg band / ornament there. It was a detail I hadn't even noticed until I got there. That happens a fair bit to me too - I get about halfway through painting and have to stop to figure out exactly what it is that I'm painting. It can be cool to suddenly find extra details, but it can be a pain in the butt to realize you have a bunch of extra detail work you have to deal with too.

At any rate I got Astarra done and here she is along with the rest of the Heroes and Monsters - enjoy!

Golems
Medusae
Sorcerers
Andira Runehand Tahlia Tetherys Astarra

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Painting Descent - Augur Grisom

When you have a large collection of Descent expansions and figures, it can seem like a never ending project. This year, I'm setting monthly realistic painting goals. January turned out decently and knowing that February is both short and going to be busy for me, I kept the goals modest. I started the month doing a quick paint of some Reaper Bones figures for my son and his friend for a D&D game they started playing. Once done, I moved onto the figures I wanted to get done for Descent and elected to start in on a guy I wasn't very enthusiastic about painting - Augur Grisom.

As you can see, Augur is primarily a yellow figure and has a ton of little belts and items all over the belt. Color-wise, I dislike painting yellow (though I may have gotten over that with this guy now). As far as feature wise, lots of belts and crap on the belts tends to be fairly tedious and uninteresting. I figured that since this was the figure that I least wanted to do, I'd start with him before I got to a point where I kept foregoing painting because of a lack of interest. If you are wondering why I'd bother painting him at all if I wasn't interested, the answer is fairly simple - I'm painting my sets in order (in their release order, not the order I bought them or anything). Trollfens was next in line, so I choose the two heroes from the set as part of my February goal. So anyway, I got started last week and took some pictures of my work as it progressed and thought I'd explain some of the process I used to finish him up.

Per my normal method, I primed the figure with brush-on black gesso. Gesso is simple to use, and it shrinks to the model which helps to retail the details. The main drawback is that it is dark, so for a light color (like yellow) you have to apply a lot of layers to get the color right. I actually started by doing a couple of quick layers for the exposed skin (realizing later that I missed his toes). Most "dwarf" skin tones (in paint) are a little more on the brown/orange end of skin colors and since I have been trying (at least for my Descent heroes) to somewhat match the default artwork, I simply went with a standard light skin tone. I then brushed on a thin coat of tan as a base coat for the areas that were going to end up yellow and once that dried I started the process of painting yellow.

For a long time, I was nearly exclusively a Citadel paint user. Generally speaking, yellows are pretty tough across nearly every brand of paint, but I've decided that the Citadel ones are really bad. Bad enough that I finally broke down and bought a different brand of yellow paint to try (P3) and I'm glad I did. This particular brand was the right consistency (thin) but still had decent coverage. I really only had to do about two layers to get the color I was hoping for on top of the tan basecoat.

As you can see, the color seems pretty good. I have since grabbed a couple of other pots of the P3 paints and so far have been very pleased with their browns and yellows.

As something of a side note, I have about a dozen different shades of brown paint and I think I primarily use about only three of them.  Why? I'm lazy. What I've discovered is that I can paint nearly all of a figure's brown things with one or two shades of tan. Then I follow up that by using 3-4 different shades of wash/shade/ink (whatever you want to call it). The wash stains the tan and fills in the recesses, giving the figure some depth. Once I was done with the yellow, I went back over the areas that were to be brown and quickly covered them with a tan. I hit them all with a sepia wash. After that dried, I hit some of the areas that were darker in the artwork with an orange wash and for areas where a strap or whatever crossed another brown area, I hit those parts with a darker wash to differentiate the browns. I find that using this method is easier (washes just flow which is easier to get right) and more forgiving (excess tends to pool in areas that would be "shadowy" anyway) than trying to highlight every single brown with a different color. I also use a bit of pink wash mixed with some sepia to do his skin, which I think was just about perfect. I went back and used the orange just a touch on his nose and around the top of his beard to give hime that ruddy look he has in the original art.

Once the browns were in, the rest of the work was fairly straight forward - a little purple around the sleeves and the bottom of the figure as the under layer of the outfit. He has a really long beard, but that was nothing more than a dark gray with a black wash and then using a lighter grey, I gently dry brushed it a bit until the ridges of the braid started to show.

I had to paint the book he has slung over his shoulder and the various bags on his belt. By the way, books and parchment are really easy - use some bone white color - I use Screaming Skull - and then use a touch of sepia wash on the edges to get that aged parchment look. The cover was just a random blue I picked and then a blue wash. Last thing was to paint his weapon and the little ring on his finger.

One last thing to note about my washing technique - I almost never go back and highlight the areas I've used a wash on. That is kind of next level detail that I don't feel like spending the effort on for tabletop game minis. If I was a competitive painter, I might, but I usually spend more time on painting a guy than I think I should, so I don't. For some monsters whose main detail is texture I will most definitely dry brush them to highlight and give extra depth to them, but I just don't (usually) have that in me for clothing.

And that's it. Augur Grisom is done. The first of four I plan to do for the month. See you next time!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

More January Painting

I mentioned in my previous post that my challenge for January was to finish painting all my Mice and Mystics pieces. Well, what I detailed out in my last post we all the work put into finishing the base set. Of course, I have the expansion Mice and Mystics: Heart of Glorm, so what I showed off was not everything I was doing. Heart of Glorm only has two figures - the hero Nere and the villain Glorm. Nere might be the most detailed of all the mice heroes I've done and Glorm might be the least detailed (it is pretty close between the roaches and Glorm for a lack of interesting details). That's ok, I still needed to finish the two as part of my goal. I had started painting Nere a while ago, so really just needed to finish some detail work on her. For Glorm, I had done him in base colors along with the rest of the bugs, so really just added a small amount of robe detail and a glowing tail effect and he was pretty much done then.

Nere and Glorm
Backside!
Pro Tip (by which I mean total amateur tip) - super fine details like the runes on Nere's stick can be done with a micro pen. Normally I use the micro pen just to dot in eyes, but they work great for runes in books, scrolls and things like this!

Mice and Mystics wasn't the only other thing I worked on nor finished up. I finally got around to finishing up the stupid Sorcerers from the Crusade of the Forgotten hero and monster pack for Descent. I have been working on these bozos for a really long time. I really don't love doing 4+ of the same figure, especially when they are a human. Four dragons or wolves - no problem. At any rate, most of the work I had left on the Sorcs was simply details, cleanup or the gold edging I was putting on their robes (there must have been an art mandate at FFG when they started producing the 2nd ed figures, because I swear that 90% of the robes have some sort of edge/border on them).

Gold trim for everyone!
I have only a single hero left in this expansion pack to complete the set. Poor Astarra is the last holdout. Why is she last? Because I really really hate painting yellows. She also has a lot of skin, so she is basically flesh/pinks and yellows. She is on my list to get done in February, but that doesn't mean I'm excited to work on her. Speaking of the my painting goals for February - if you are interested in following along on BGG, my list can be found here. I'll update this blog with a report at the end of the month, but doubt I'll do much any reporting other than in that Geeklist along the way.

And of course, if you want to see everything that I've finished painting for Descent - I have a perpetually updated Geeklist showing of my efforts. I've mostly been painting the sets in expansion order (though the hero and monster sets don't have a proper place in the order).

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Painting Mice and Mystics

Through a confluence of events, I finally got around to finishing up painting on Mice and Mystics. Mice and Mystics is a family oriented dungeon crawler / co-op fairy tale that is centered around a prince and his companions that are turned into mice after trying to protect their king.

The game comes with a relatively small handful of figures - 5 heroes, 6 rat guards, 8 little cockroaches, a spider and a centipede. Despite this low number of guys, it took me a long while to complete the painting of the set. I got through the heroes and 2/3 of the rat guards and then lost interest (or more realistically, had more interest in painting Descent and then too, I hadn't painted in a while either).

At some point at the end of last year, I saw someone that was looking to trade off their Tesla vs Edison Kickstarter package of stuff and was interested in Mice and Mystics - I offered to trade my base game + Heart of Glory expansion (fully painted) for his stuff and he was interested, so I needed to finish the painting job. At the same time, there was a discussion going on in the BGG Painting Guild about starting a monthly challenge (which was more of an accountability list than a "challenge"). It was just what I needed to get off my butt and do some painting and I thought I'd share the process and the results here.

The minis stuck onto pill bottles
First thing was simply gathering everything up and "mounting" them onto pill bottles. I've used a number of different things to put the models on over the years, but finally settled on pill bottles. A) I had a ton of them from my dog's prescription. B) I had multiple sizes of them which made them a good choice for small (regular) sized minis and larger ones. C) I don't care if they get destroyed by air brush overspray etc. D) For me, they are just the right size to hold comfortably

I've mounted them with a number of materials at one time or another (Elmer's glue was my choice for a while, but was unreliable about holding the mini and required drying time). I eventually settled on blue tack. I love that blue putty - it takes only the smallest bit of it and it is reusable. You'd think it would dry out or something, but I've been using the same little bits forever.

Batch of minis after priming with gesso
The first real step in painting is priming. A lot of times this step isn't necessary, but I prefer it as it gives whatever mini I'm working with a consistent surface that acrylic paints adhere well to.

There are a lot of choices for priming - spray primer is the obvious and popular choice, but I avoid it for a number of reasons. The biggest being that the plastics used in minis varies widely and there are often problems with aerosols and plastics (the wrong combo can cause the minis to be tacky after painting and it not only ruins the feel of the minis, but it makes them look wet or shiny - neither is a look I desire. Because of this, I prefer to simply use gesso. Gesso is a brush on primer that is typically used by painters to prime canvases. I like gesso because it is cheap, comes in a variety of colors and is easy to use - you can somewhat slop it onto the mini because it will shrink as it dries, thus a loss of detail is usually very small if any.

Right where we started?
After the primer has dried, the next step is a base color. My plan for this particular batch was mostly brown based, so I mixed up a batch of tan and broke out my airbrush to make quick work of the group. I typically give each figure a light once over with the airbrush and then after getting through the whole set, go back for a second coat. This isn't heavy work, just trying to get a basic color undercoat set. The funny part of this particular color choice? It almost looks like I'm back where I started. You could say that it was a waste of time (and paint), but the next step I was planning wouldn't have worked on the raw figures - I needed a coat of color that would "stain" properly when I performed the next step - wash / shade / ink (whatever you prefer to call it). The point is to stain the color with another color while at the same time letting the shade pool in the cracks and recesses of the figure - this gives the figure some depth and shading and is one of the easiest ways to highlight your figure without actually adding manual highlights.

Nothing like a quick bunch of washes to make things pop
If you are a beginning painter, washes are the first trick you can learn that is both easy and will give you great results with little effort. Washes both highlight and help blend areas with natural looking shading. For this batch of stuff, I used three different colors of wash to impart color to the base tan scheme. I used a sepia wash to give the tan a (very) slightly darker look. It doesn't change the overall color much, but it will highlight the recesses like I mentioned. I also used an orange on the underbelly of the centipede, the roaches, and the legs of the spider. I then used a darker brown on the rats and part of the spider. Now normally, I like to block in parts of the figure in various colors and then use a series of washes that match each color in order to shade a figure, but these being mostly brown-ish figures, I went straight from the base coat to color. This technique works really well for me on batch creatures, especially when there is fur, as the next step in the process is dry brushing.

Almost done after a little dry brushing
After the wash had dried, it was time to work a little dry brushing in. Basically, dry brushing is where you put a little paint on your brush (preferably one that is old and maybe flat) and then wipe most of the paint off on a paper towel. You then very quickly swipe the brush across the surface you are trying to paint. Each swipe should barely tinge the raised surfaces. For very flat surfaces (like the carapace of the centipede here) you want the brush to leave almost no color on each pass of the brush. Eventually, the area the brush has been passed over will be highlighted (or in the case of smooth surfaces - you get a blended kind of shading).

I really like the results you get with this on animal fur - you will randomly get some areas that are more highlighted than others - which is perfect. The imperfections are what make things look more realistic.

For the rats, the dry brush is what makes the fur stand out on the model. The wash deepens the shadow (low) areas of the fur, but the details of the fur come out from the highlighting, which in this case is all dry brush technique.

After the dry brushing, all that is left is a bit of detailing - for the centipede, the eyes. For the rats, their arm bracelets and swords, their ears, mouth, and tail, and the little shoulder badge. And that's about it. Enjoy the rest of the pics! I'm including some pictures from my original efforts so you can see what the whole she-bang looks like.

Spee-I-der!
Rather than doing the rats all the same, I went for three color schemes. Variety is good!
Gross! Roaches!
Every game needs heroes! The mice are the heroes!

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Monday, January 08, 2018

New to Me January 2017 --> Has it Stood the Test of Time?

First of all, it is terribly hard to believe that it is already 2018 and I'm now looking back at 2017. How does that happen? Well, using the way back machine that is Friendless' stats (monthly timeline), I find that I had only a single new game to me a year ago - Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries.

Hi from Santa!
I have not ever played this at the table. After this was originally released, I did manage to snag an actual copy from overseas (a friend was in Norway IIRC). That copy was eventually traded or sold before being played. No, it wasn't until the online version released this expansions that I got to try it out. So what do you need to know about this particular expansion?

First, the boxed version is technically not an expansion map and thus not part of the official "map collection". No, this is a special stand alone version that is designed for 2-3 players. Unfortunately that means you can't use it as a base set to the official maps (except for maybe Switzerland for 2-3 players). The train colors are black, white and purple, which is different and cool, but not important.

The game map is an interesting mix of tunnel routes, a few ferry routes, a super long route (worth 27 points), and lots of choke points - this is a map designed for conflicts. Like the Switzerland map, wild cards are not quite so wild. The locomotives can only be used for tunnels or ferries (or the mega route - more on that in a second). Because of this, you can draw the wilds from the offering without having to suffer the "only one" penalty of the base game. If you haven't played Switzerland before, you will soon realize that wilds are great for the tunnels, but not being able to use them on the rest of the map is a pain in the booty.

The mega long route has a special feature - you can use 4 cards of any color (or 4 wilds) towards one of the links in the chain. So yeah, 9 of one color is hard to get, but 7 + 4 + 4 is a little more reasonable to achieve - especially since digging for cards is pretty common.

So is this a fun map? It is! It does stand the test of time (at least as an add on to the online/app version of the game. Either head-to-head or with three players, this is a rough, but fun little map. It is plenty easy to get cut off from your routes which adds a nice bit of press-your-luck play against the other player(s). Like nearly every map I've played of Ticket to Ride, the map gets better and better the more you play it and the more familiar you are with the possible ticket combinations. This isn't a map with a lot of longer routes to claim, so you really have to beat the other player with finished tickets if you want to outscore them.

Would I recommend this for folks that only play on the tabletop? Yes, but if you already have the original or Europe, I think I'd lean towards the Switzerland / India expansion (#2 map collection) first. Both have a similar flavor, but the #2 map collection set offers you a second (also excellent) map. If you already have the map and are looking for another good low player count map, you can't go wrong with this one.

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Thursday, January 04, 2018

What I played Last Month: Dec 2017

Time to recap the games that were played during the last month of the last year so we can move onward into the New Year. But first...
Happy New Year!
And now, on with the show!

I love Ticket to Ride and Nordic Countries was a new map that came out for the online game this past year (or at least that's when I finally acquired it - either way...). I fully admit that this got attention last month in an effort to hit the 5 play mark for 2017. That being said, this is a good map and especially good for 2-3 players (much like Switzerland) in fact, it has a number of similarities to the Switzerland  map, so if you enjoy that but want to switch it up a little, this is your best bet.

If it seems like I talk about this a lot, well that's because it has become one of our go to games for "lunch gaming" at work. It is quick and fun and is interesting to play. The first half of the game is a slice the pie and everyone gets their piece and the second half is an auction. The whole games is about trying to have the majority in various "shares" whose values you can manipulate slightly throughout the game. Whomever has claimed the most points at the end wins. Easy peasey lemon squeezy. This is one of those games that isn't overly complex, but has interesting choices and is also fast - it never overstays itself.

Ingenious is one of my favorite Knizia games that is a little older, but still a great abstract for multiple players. The spatial understanding of the game is simple enough, yet offers reasonable chances for cleaver plays. Where I enjoy this the most though is the partnership game. The changes to play with partners are modest at best, so the game is still fundamentally the same - collect as many points as you can in each color, the color that you perform the poorest at is your final score - classic Knizia, just done team style. I really wish they'd fix the iOS app for iOS 11 so that I could go back to having this in my regular rotation of games that I play with my love.

Kingdom Builder is a Top 10 game for me (some days it is easily a Top 5). I finally punch my whole Big Box 2 set (which Queen Games sent to Kickstarter backers late last year in response to their utter failure to properly handle their Kingdom Builder campaign and backers). My buddy Robert was in town and we both like the game a good bit, so we threw together a map and played. Unfortunately, two of the 4 scoring items were based on occupying the edges of the boards, which I was never really in a position to manage. I concentrated on the other points (by creating very long trails of my pieces). I ended up about 8 points short of Robert, which is a lot closer than I thought the game would be at first glance. 

I'm not sure I can explain my secret obsession with Cthulhu themed games. Maybe it has to do with the idea that it is grownup version of Scooby Doo - random gang of friends bands together to solve the mystery! (Which just happens to be about unexplainable horrors, not old man Johnson trying to get away with "it"). At any rate, I enjoyed the app integration that Fantasy Flight games put together for Descent 2nd ed (Road to Legend) and I liked the conceptual idea of this game, so I worked on a trade last year and finally put something together. It wasn't until New Year's Eve that I got to play it though - and only at my friend's suggestion! We really enjoyed our playing. Instead of stacks of cards (ala Eldritch Horror), the app really cleans a lot of that up by simply displaying the Mythos phase text and actions in app. There is a fair bit of event stuff in the app as well (and of course, the monster logic). We really liked that combat with monsters was descriptive and generally different each time - I may have rolled against my agility ability on most of my dagger attack checks, but the flavor text described a different thing each time, which made the combat feel more like part of the horror story instead of just another mechanic. There are also a handful of logic puzzles built into the app, which I know a lot of people won't like, but my group enjoyed their inclusion and felt they weren't out of place. I may just need to play this a couple more times and then just write up a full review (I'm halfway there with this write-up now).

Another one that I made sure to play (online with my love) so that I got in at least 5 plays before the end of 2017. Seems like a legit reason to play a game that is both fun and worthy of play. One of these days I need to track down the expansion for this game. This is one I don't mind physically getting out to play and everyone in my household likes playing it.

This is a game that pulled off my home shelf to put on my work shelf. I've now gotten to play it a couple times this past year because it is in the work rotation. After a game or two more, I'll likely swap it out for a different Mystery Rummy game. That being said, Wyatt Earp is a perfectly good game, maybe just a little fiddly around the rewards and such, but a good part (if not officially) of the Mystery Rummy family. A bit more random/less control available than others in the series, but still fun.


And that wraps up my plays for last year. See you next month for my January wrap-up which is already looking to be slightly long - I'm playing through all the Ticket to Ride maps with my dear Alyson, so while the amount of plays probably isn't going to be wildly different, the list may be a bit long.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

2017 Nickels and Dimes

I think my bookkeeping is mostly accurate for plays. In 2017, I decided to record online plays as long as they were against a real person and not some AI (otherwise this list would really suck). Yeah, a lot of these were online in some form or another, but I think that's great that we live in an era where good games can see action even when I don't have a chance to sit at the table with someone.

Nickels (at least 5 plays, less than 10)
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (9 plays)
This should be no real surprise as I talked about this game a lot this past year. I played a ton online and it spurred me to play a lot more on the tabletop after not having pulled out the actual cards in a long while. Still hate the setup/teardown, but still love this game. I love finding new combos and making do with whatever cards are available to me. Having tons of expansion sets really helps keeps this going.

Codenames (7 plays)
A little bit of a surprise to me. I had this game at work because I thought I'd 3D print a box for it. Some co-workers thought it looked interesting and asked to play. Of course, they like it. They like it more than I do, but I like it enough to indulge them since they indulge me in other games. My issue with the game is that a lot of the game is just having teams that click. If you have that one guy in your group that doesn't think the way you do...

Twilight Struggle (7 plays)
These were all online against friends after the app was released on all platforms. A good game that I maybe "drank from the firehose" on. It still is a good game, just a maybe not in large bursts. Not many other games work so well with the theme, but this one is all about the feeling/tension of the Cold War era.

Automobiles (6 plays)
I don't recall why, but I started playing this with friends online ( yucata.de ) and found it to be more fun than I expected. I'm not sure what it was I expected, but I guess I thought it'd be more like Trains, but with a race car theme. There are a "abilities/cards" that I didn't care for that kind of ruin some matches, but generally speaking, this one is a fun little "bag builder" and race game.

Can't Stop (6 plays)
I have over 900 plays of this online at yucata.de and another PBM friend had never played, so I gave him a quick lesson so that he could say that he's played Can't Stop. This is still my number one favorite push your luck game. It is simple and fast and a masterpiece of a game.

Carcassonne (6 plays)
These plays were all online via the amazing iOS app. Carcassonne boasts one of the best apps of all time, which make playing this a joy - for two players. I just don't enjoy the game with more than two as there is too much downtime and a lack of control. I love almost all of the expansion content as well (maybe not The River, but that doesn't break the game either).

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (6 plays)
Ticket to Ride also boasts one of the best online games with a ton of maps. This map got the most attention from me this year. We found it to be a good alternative to Switzerland, which is a fast and furious two-player game (the map plays more, but we like it best head-to-head). I actually enjoy just about all the maps in one form or another, but the newness of this (vs Switzerland, which still has the best music) earned it a number of plays.

7 Wonders Duel (5 plays)
This game has no app (that I know of) so these were actual tabletop games for me (gasp!). My daughter and I like this little game, though it does suffer a little from "hate drafting". If you aren't familiar with the concept, it means that a lot of times you are taking/drafting the card that screws your opponent more than anything. This can make for a frustrating game, though at least the games are quick. If you have the 7 Wonders itch, this is a good quick fix.

Epic Card Game (5 plays)
What? Another tabletop only game? The Epic app should be out in 2018, so I suspect that I'll have a ton of this game played next year. I still enjoy a quick draft and fight with my son. This is Magic, but without any pretense - jump in and duke it out.

Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper (5 plays)
What the what? Still another tabletop only game (I'd love to see this series hit the app scene)! Jack is my favorite of the Mystery Rummy series and we prefer it two-player (though we skip the "Guess the Ripper" part). My love and I play it and I think we are split for wins all time. Another that needs regular playing. I think I'd like to play some others a little more as well, but every time I do, I think - I'd rather be playing Jack the Ripper. I'm not even sure why I like this one better. I think it is because you can hide your hand to try and go out (ala Gin Rummy), but if you get caught, every card that was playable counts against you. Because of this, there is a little bit of push your luck against the other player - you don't know how close they are to a lay down.

Quarriors! Quest of the Qladiator (5 plays)
I forced 5 games of this on my son earlier in the year to figure out whether I should (once again, no less) keep or sell the game. We like the game, but it still isn't a first (or 5th) choice, so back to the chopping block it went. Really, if someone pulled it out and wanted to play, I would - its a fast and fun little bag builder game, but I'd rather play Dice Masters head-to-head I think.

Santorini (5 plays)
I missed the kickstarter (frankly, I didn't even know the game existed until chatter about the shipments started) on this and when I found out about the game, I was a little sad - it reads like exactly my kind of game. So what did I do? I 3D printed a copy! The game is a lot of fun and I liked it exactly as I thought I would - without any special power cards. I need to print a set and try the game again, just to mix it up a little.

Spires (5 plays)
This was a surprise game and perhaps the best new game I played last year. Spires is a card game that is a mashup of Parade and Edel, Stein and Richt. What that means is - you are trying to collect limited amounts of cards - get too many any your pile of points suddenly switches to a giant pile of negative points. The trick is that each round, you and your opponents pick one of the cards from a set of shops. If you are the only player that picked a shop, you get the card. If more than one player picked a shop, all those players bid for the card there. Bidding is simply a choice of a card from your hand. There trick here is that the winning player gets all the cards that were bid in addition to the shop's card. So now, when you don't want anything, you are trying to guess what other players might want so that you can try to hose them. Of course, they are trying to do the same to you as well.

Splendor (5 plays)
This was a mix of online (iOS app) plays and tabletop games with my family. Despite being a gateway game, I really enjoy this game a lot. It is simple to learn (mechanically), but not as simple to grasp the top player tier of playing (at least for me). I think not having fully figured it out is what keeps me coming back to it.

Dimes (at least 10 plays)
Race for the Galaxy (27 plays)
The first of three dimes that were all thanks to a new app being released last year. This is a combination of the base game and expansion plays - all thanks to the app. The app did give me a better appreciation for the game in general, though not enough that I ever want to play this on the tabletop now. The app is well done enough that I have zero desire to mess around with the cards for this game. Sorry Race fans, I still just don't love this game and still don't know why you do either.

Paperback (23 plays)
My introduction to this game was because of the app (and I still have not ever played it on the tabletop and suspect I'm unlikely to). I like word games and the digital realm is perfect for this kind of thing. Word game mashup with deckbuilder? Yes please!

Cthulhu Realms (11 plays)
I am (was - I got a little burnt out) a huge Star Realms fan, so when I tried this game, I liked it - its basically a slightly slimmed down Star Realms, but with a Cthulhu theme. When the app came out, I was super happy to play it - again, Star Realms, but not Star Realms. So I played it a bunch and then the burn out returned. Still a fun game.

Biblios (10 plays)
I'd been hearing about this for years and got it in a math trade last year. It then became a staple and favorite lunch game at my office. We like it with either three or four players and it is quick and easy to play. I can see us playing this quite a bit in the coming year as well.

And that covers it for the list of games I played most often this past year. I know there are a few great games on the horizon for app conversions so I suspect there will be a few new games that will appear in the list and I'm sure we'll see games like Ticket to Ride again next year as well.

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