Thirteen plays into the 10×10

It’s been a couple weeks and I’ve making great progress in the 2018 10×10 Challenge. I’ve found that having a list of 10 games that I’m trying to play is making it a lot easier to get things to the table. By limiting my choice to the 10 games that are part of the challenge, I’m finding it easier to get to gaming during the weeknights. Weekends are still reserved for the longer and more complex games.

I played Burgle Bros. twice in the past week and had two wins. The added bonus has been that both plays have been with my 11 year old son. This is one of his favorite games. There are some tweaks we make to the setup of the game to make things a little more balanced and we do play the easier two-story office job instead of the the three-story bank heist. There are some killer room tiles in the game that can stack the game against you if they come out together.  The Deadbolt tile requires three movement points to enter if no one else is in the room. The other challenging tile is the Keypad, which you need to roll a 6 on a standard d6 to unlock the room. If you have multiple of these tiles on the same floor or worse yet, next to each other, the game usually ends quickly. The house rule I use is to separate out these tiles so there is only one Keypad and one Deadbolt on each floor. This has increased the win ratio to something a bit more tolerable. This creates a great feedback loop that the wins makes me want to play more often. With the last two being only two stories, I’ll be looking to get in a couple three story plays in the future.

Legendary: Marvel has also seen many plays already this month. The main driver of this is that I stumbled across an online league on BGG. The league is made up of three matches during a month using the base game and a single expansion. The three matches are preset so everyone plays against the same mastermind, scheme, henchmen, and villains. Depending on the match, I get to choose one or two heroes with the last one(s) provided as part of the setup. At the end of each match, I enter in the results to the league website and see where I stand.  I was pretty excited that I wasn’t in last place after the first match, but that self-corrected in the last two matches of the month. I fall in to the category of having fun playing versus playing to win. Looking back at the setup of the games, I could have selected heroes better that would synergize better against the mastermind and villains I was facing. I would suggest checking out the league info if you are interested. Prizes are also a bonus I found with the league.  Aside from winners and losers help choose future matches, organized play kits are also given away. Since this was my first month playing, I’m not sure how often they are used, but I scored a sweet foil scheme card just for submitting my score. With the last place finish in the league, I also get to choose a villain group to use in a March match.

During the first four weeks of 2018, I was able to check of plays for Ex Libris, Imperial Settlers, Pandemic: The Cure, Fallout, Viticulture and Scythe in addition to the two games I went into detail about this week.

As of today, I’m 13% complete so I’m making great progres..

Why I’m trying the 10×10 Challenge in 2018

Towards the end of 2017 I started getting the overwhelming feeling that I have too many games. Usually this happens when I run out of space on the shelves I have allocated for games. The shelf limit is completely self-imposed by myself since there is plenty of extra room on the shelves. To combat this stress,  the first thing I do is go through and try to re-organize the games to see if I can consolidate them to get back some space. If that doesn’t work, I start looking at the games I haven’t played for awhile and see which ones I could easily part with. This time though when I looked at the games, I couldn’t identify any games I wanted to give up. All the games I hadn’t played in awhile were great games that I wanted to keep in my collection. Mixed in were some recent acquisitions that I’ve only played once or twice.

This drove me to make the commitment to do the 10×10 Challenge. It’s as easy as choosing 10 games that I will play 10 times during the year.  I wanted to get these great games back to the table. I’m not sure how many of the plays will fall on my weekly game nights out since the group leans toward “cult of the new”. I’m sure I’ll be able to get some of them played there but the longer games might take a little more effort by coordinating outside the normal game night. One thing I have going is that each of these games can be played solo. This will help me get the plays in at night or on the weekends after the family is in bed.

Without further ado here is my 10×10 Challenge for 2018, in no particular order.

  1. Burgle Bros. – Ocean’s 11 the board game is the quickest way that I’ve heard this game described. I first played this during the Kickstarter when someone brought a print-and-play copy to game night. The next day I had downloaded all the files and sent it off to the print shop at work so I could have my very own copy of the game. This is one game that consistently comes out during game nights and is great with any player count.
  2. Ex Libris – One of my more recent acquisitions. I loved the theme of the game when I heard about and I was able to get a 1 round demo when I was at GenCon. I didn’t get my copy until October and have only played it twice so I’m looking forward to getting more plays and exploring the various character powers.
  3. Fallout – This is the FFG adventure game.  This is my most recent addition and blind buy which is very rare. I picked this up at Half Priced Books after seeing it on sale and having heard some positive buzz around it. I’ve never played any of the Fallout games but I’ve always been intrigued by the setting of it. With the positive buzz and the theme that I liked (maybe the Christmas season), I couldn’t pass it up.
  4. Flash Point: Fire Rescue – One of my oldest games in my collection. I’ve always enjoyed coops and this one is great. I like the randomness of  dice rolls that advances the fire at the end of each turn. It helps this puzzler feel like you have more decisions to make. I have many of the expansions so I won’t be running out of scenarios to play.
  5. Imperial Settlers – This is a great game that also has some sentimental value to me. My non-gaming in-laws purchased this game for me at Christmas a couple years ago. It was a game I wanted to get and they purchased it after researching “best games of the year”. I love the engine building portion of the game. I’m horrible at identifying the combos and getting them to fire which is why I think I like this game so much. There is so much satisfaction when I do get the engine to fire.
  6. Legendary: Marvel – I’ve heard that some of the newer Legendary games are better (looking at you Alien), but I’m a sucker for Marvel superheroes. I have a couple large box and small box expansions so variability is almost unlimited. I’ve already found some league play at BGG that may help drive some of these plays.
  7. Nemo’s War (second edition) – I tried to organize a local group purchase when this was on Kickstarter but that fell through. Once it was released and the reviews started coming in, I was bummed that I hadn’t picked this up. The Secret Cabal ‘s review back in July put it back on my “to buy” list. This game has so many facets that I haven’t been able to figure out that I’m looking forward to exploring more in 2018.
  8. Pandemic: The Cure – I’m a sucker for dice games. This is one of my all-time favorite games. I like the variable player powers along with how the dice are used to determine your actions along with how the diseases spread. I picked up the Experimental Meds expansion recently and liked the additional challenges that this one offers.
  9. Scythe – Disclaimer: I may be a Stonemaier fanboy. My favorite game of all time is Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia and I’ve enjoyed almost every one of their games. This is one game that requires specific game nights to play. Due to engaging solo play that is paired with an awesome ScytheKick  app I’m sure I’ll hit my goal on this one.
  10. Viticulture: Essential Edition – My second Stonmaier game finishes off my 10×10 challenge. This great worker placement game and has a great solo mode. It uses an automa deck of cards to simulate an AI. This automa system was replicated in Scythe. I’ll be playing this with the Tuscany: Essential since the additional season is a must.

That’s the list. I’ll be posting updates on my progress on the challenge,  along with a few in depth play recaps.

First play of 2018 – Flash Point: Fire Rescue

I started off the new year by checking off the first play for my 10×10 challenge.  I setup Flash Point: Fire Rescue on Tuesday night. It had been 6 months since my last play of the game and it was great to revisit one of my favorites.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue  (FP:FR) was one of the early additions to my collection. I remember watching a playthrough that Barry Reynolds did and thinking that it looked like a fun game and added it to my wishlist. Around that same time,  Barnes and Noble was having a clearance sale where it was on sale for $20. It was a sign from the heavens that I couldn’t pass up. As my gaming tastes developed, cooperative games have risen up to be one of my favorite style of games.  I enjoy theses games due to the fact that players can drop out and I can continue playing without having to reset the game. My kids tend to like the idea of playing games with me but at the 20-30 minute mark interest starts waning and by 45 minutes it is very likely I’m at the table playing solo.

For this play I decided to use the high rise map from the Urban Structures expansion. This map provided the additional challenge of only being able to access the building via elevators or the fire truck. I setup my typical FP:FR game: Recruit difficulty and 4 fire fighters. This map had specific rules for the initial explosions which led 2 of the explosions to be on the lower right quadrant while the third explosion was in the top left. Luckily the initial Point of Interests ( a.k.a. POI, possible victims) were not near fires so I wasn’t too worried about the setup. An added bonus was one POI was directly outside the elevator doors. Further boosting my confidence was the fact that the Driver/Operator was the first player. Rounding out teams was the Paramedic, Rescue Specialist, and CAFS Firefighter. One thing I failed to notice was two hazmat items with a single empty space between them.

I was correct that the Driver/Operator was able to quickly address the fire in the bottom right. This allowed the rest of the team to head up in the elevators together and focus on searching out the points of interests. Unfortunately, the POI directly outside the elevator was blank, but by the end of the first round the Paramedic had treated one victim, which made them easier to usher to safety. With the fire under control in the bottom right, a shift change  swapped out the Drive/Operator for the Generalist. I figured the additional action would be helpful to offset the limited firefighting of the Paramedic and Rescue Specialist. Over the course of the next couple rounds, the fire continued to flare up around the Paramedic and Rescue Specialist. With their limited firefighting ability it was up to the CAFS Firefighter and Generalist to keep the flames in check.

Another challenge that I did not foresee with the high rise map was the sheer amount of walls that segmented out this building. It felt that every time I rolled to place smoke, I rolled a spot that  either: 1)  I just cleared  or 2) was  on fire which caused an explosion. With each explosion, more damage cubes were placed out on the map. Firefighters were knocked down at least twice during these explosions and one of those times a rescue victim was lost.

I focused most of my effort on the top left portion of the map where the flames continued to flare up round after round. After a couple rounds, all 6 hot spot tokens had been placed out on the map. These hot spot tokens are bad news because if their location is rolled during the place smoke phase the dice are rolled to place smoke a second time. The game ended abruptly due to the overlooked hazmat items which were now separated only by a single smoke filled space with a hot spot token . As you may guess, this smoke filled space turned up on the dice when I rolled for smoke placement. This caused the smoke to turn to fire. Not a big problem, it was a hot spot so the dice would be rolled a second time. This time the dice rolled one spot above the fire. Yes, the one with the one of the hazmat items. This triggered an explosion that place two damage cubes as well as blasting the fire back through the other hazmat item in the room. Another explosion went off, which placed three more damage cubes, but I only had 2 left in the supply. Effectively the building collapsed due to the significant damage sustained during the fire.

This play embodies so many of my plays of FP:FR. There are times where I think I have things under control, but things shift suddenly with a single roll of the dice. This is what keeps me coming back. FP:FR may feel like a puzzle that can be figured out but the dice introduce a level of unknown variability that cannot be mitigated.

Majority of my losses are due to the damage cubes running out rather than victims being lost. Maybe I should read up on the Structural Engineer role.