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Thomas Herlofsen
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Curious Geek Dabbler
Curious Geek Dabbler

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Yearly con auction haul. Total price was about $40.
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After keeping it on the table for two weeks I finally bailed on my first play of Pendragon halfway into the second epoch. The game was getting dusty and I'd lost the flow, these things happen sometimes, it was not the game's fault. Anyway, my thoughts:

It's very, very good. It might grab many people who haven't liked previous COINs, as it's the most unique in feel. Its time scale and very crowded map makes it feel more epic in a way. I really like the wealth/plunder system (which admittedly is a bit of a hassle to remember to track). When getting past the dense, convoluted, poorly indexed rulebook (my least favourite in the series) and understanding what each faction is supposed to be doing the flow of the game is actually quite elegant despite the extra layers of stuff.

This is the also first COIN game where I actually appreciate the combat system (my favourites in the series are the ones that don't need one). Combat has a lot of steps, perhaps more than the other games, but it also has much needed flavour (ambushes, fielding battles, units retreating into towns and forts). Since there is a lot of fighting in this game it will make it quite long, but if something is this enjoyable it doesn't matter if it goes on for a while. This is almost like a Civ game in its portrayal of history, far more expansive than any of the other COINs.

So what's not to like? Nothing in the game itself really. But as I mentioned I disliked the rulebook. It's laid out excactly like the others, but since this game has the most moving parts you need to look up stuff more frequently and important info is sometimes lost deep in paragraphs of text. This also means the index isn't that helpful. A bit more handholding would be appreciated; Everything you need to know is laid out (relatively) clearly, but rarely does the rules explain what excactly is going on. I know all the historical flavour is in the playbook along with tutorials et cetera, but separating the mechanics from the history to this extent was alienating to me this time around, perhaps because what you are trying to achieve is different in many ways from the other COINs.

I usually play these games solo, either with bots or playing each faction, this time I did the latter. The amount of moving parts / bookkeeping in the game made this way of playing a bit less enjoyable than most of the other games, as did the long turns when raiding and/or fighting. It flows a bit slowly as a non-interactive experience. What I'm trying to say is that concentrating one one faction is more than enough in this game, and playing this game with bots looks too intimidating, even for someone who has played all the other games that way.

All in all this is a huge, epic, well-designed game. It's not the easiest COIN to get into, but perhaps the deepest one. If you have a patient group of friends it might be the best one. Personally I prefer the more streamlined, more "pure COINy" ones, but if you have a group of patient friends it's an instant classic.
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The battle for Budapest is on in Days of Ire, my first non-solo play. Another one my family enjoyed, and playing the Soviets was interesting, I am basically playing Twilight Struggle light against a team playing Pandemic with Molotov cocktails.

P.S. The sequel, Nights of Fire, is on Kickstarter now, it lets you play the two games in sequence as a campaign..
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Apologies if this has been posted here before, but I haven't seen it around. Very funny, especially when we are in the season of all those "will buy fewer games"- resolutions.

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Just before Christmas I got to play 878 Vikings with my family. It's a wonderful light wargame with a few tactical and thematic wrinkles that make it a more involved game than 1812 (my only other game with this system). My family really enjoyed it too, which is a bit surprising as this isn't really their style. With Pendragon on the way this game replaces both 1812 and my battered copy of Britannia on my increasingly crowded shelf.

Right now I'm soloing Blackbeard (the Avalon Hill 2nd edition) with 2 players and a few turns in I'm very impressed by it. It's the most sandboxey game in my collection - you really can go anywhere and do your pirate thing in quite a few different ways - and although the rulebook is one of the worst I've encountered I really like the old school die roll mechanics. Not sure what I think about the weird turn system though. My 2nd player has taken one turn (basically just activating a pirate) while my first player has taken five, fighting and capturing a trader, torturing a hostage and raiding Calcutta! Seems unfair. The game is fun though. It will be interesting to see if it gets repetitive after a while. Probably wonderful with a full set of players and a rum and Coke or three. Yarr etc.
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05/01/2018
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It's pretty dang hard to get into those last few spaces on my shelf. These two made it though.
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Fall 2017 shelfie update. Nothing I absolutely need to get rid of, not too much coming in during the next months, still a little bit of room.. my plan of never buying another shelf is still holding :)
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After five years of waiting, the first game of Storm Hollow was bound to be anticlimactic, but it's an excellent, excellent family friendly RPG with amazing art and components. You don't make characters in the normal sense as you basically play a magical, heroic version of your self, adventures (of which there are A LOT in this box) are compressed down to series of challenges. Characters come with plenty of magic and cool stuff from the start. The detail and invention in the setting (which is where most of the five year production and development of the game went) is fantastic

All of this makes the game very approachable for newbies, but it might be a tad too linear and boardgamey for some RPGers. It certainly moves a good clip faster than most RPGs, once you know what you're doing you'll go through a story/adventure in under two hours.

All in all it's an extremely impressive package. I really hope the designers get the success they deserve once the giant box is separated into more manageable modules and eventually gets wide distribution. The gigantic treasury box is still available in the meantime.
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Victory Point Games are really knocking it out of the park with their deluxe editions of solo games. Dawn of the Zeds 3rd edition was wonderful, and the new version of Nemo's War might be an even better game judging from my first ten turns or so. And so pretty.. (my wife's jigsaw puzzle not included)
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