App Review – Maracaibo

Have you ever wanted to just get slammed upside the head repeatedly by a deck of cards?

No, just me?

Well, it’s a good thing that you probably don’t suck at Maracaibo as much as I do, so you’ll probably actually enjoy not having that feeling.

Though some people pay good money for that…

What’s Maracaibo?

This was the “bit too optimistic” announcement page last year, but was it worth the wait?

Maracaibo is an economic exploration game of colonization designed by Alexander Pfister with artwork by Fiore GmbH and Aline Kirrmann. It was published by Capstone Games in 2019.

The app version (which this is a review of) was just released on December 20, 2021 by Spiralburst Studio.

Yes, I did say “colonization” above. Before we go any further, let me show you what’s in the rules section of the app as well as the rulebook from at least the current printing of the game (I don’t know whether it was in the original rulebook or not).

Is that enough to ease any discomfort you might feel playing this game?

That’s up to you.

(Note that you can always click on a picture to enlarge it)

How does the app measure up?

Let’s take a look.

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Storm Above the Reich – After Action Report – Mission #9

Two missions into the second season of my Storm Above the Reich campaign and things aren’t going the greatest. With 30 VPs required to “not lose” and me having 3 VP in 2 missions, things have to change for the better.

Is that going to happen in Mission #9 or is Staffel Roy doomed to fall into the depths of mediocrity, disbanded because they really suck at defending the Fatherland?

In our last mission, Kermit was gulping after realizing just what a tall mountain we had to climb.

Now I think Seth Meyers knows what’s up.

It’s time for Mission #9, where it’s go big or go home.

Or maybe just, you know, go middle of the road.

Once again, I am doing the Advanced Rules for “Pursuit” of a Fallen bomber. That means I get no Victory Points for a Fallen bomber (though I do get Experience Points). I have to pursue it and kill it before I get VP

What happened in this one?

I don’t know. I’ve forgotten already!

Let’s take a look.

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Combat Commander Europe – After Action Report – Scenario 51 – The Uneasy Wait

Another month, another game of Combat Commander.

This is my monthly game played as part of the Combat Commander ladder run by the funny and witty Patrick Pence (of the awesome Youtube Channel Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials).

How do I know he’s funny and witty?

I actually saw him!

This was done in April 2021 but I just saw it yesterday.

Anyway, my time on the Ladder has been a lot of fun. I’ve been on it since May (with a break in June due to…issues). I was 5-1 going into December’s match.

I was also #4 on the Ladder! Whoever won our game would be taking on the top guy next month!

Would that happen for me?

Maybe, maybe not.

Scenario #51 is out of the Normandy Battle Pack and it has a bunch of brave British soldiers (on the left) hitting the beach in Normandy trying to root out an entrenched German position (on the right).

Mark Jefferson was the Germans and I was the attacking British.

After setting up our units and before drawing cards, I was able to draw 10 random hexes and place a smoke counter in them.

And it didn’t work out too badly for me.

(Note: You can click on the picture to make it larger)

The British are on the left coming onto the beach. The Germans in bunkers & trenches on the right

A lot of other games have had a lot of the smoke going behind German lines, but it worked out pretty well for me.

I got a huge smoke to land right in front of the big artillery gun!

So now we were ready to start. In my 5-1 record, my one loss was the only time I was the Attacker. I’m attacking this time.


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Friday Night Shots – Removing the Shrinkwrap From New Games

It’s Friday, a week before Christmas, and the whiskey is flowing while I read blog posts.

Or write them!

I just got three new games this week from 401 Games (my Canadian retailer of choice for boardgames) and as I was eagerly ripping the shrinkwrap off of them, opening them and looking at the counters and boards and stuff, something occurred to me.

So many times, either in a Math Trade or some kind of boardgame sale from one person to another, you see “New in Shrink” in a game’s listing.

And I just can’t fathom that.

I know that most of the time, when I get a game, either from Kickstarter delivery or because I ordered it from a game store (or maybe even bought it from a local one), I will most likely not get to play it for a while.

Either it’s an investment for the future (like most wargames since I don’t really have an opponent for them at all) or it’s something I’m going to have to try and learn the rules for so I can teach it someday, or whatever.

It’s probably going to be at least a month or so, if not longer, before they are getting played. Sometimes it might be a year or two!

Yet I still open and punch them as soon as I can. Those counters are going into baggies. Those boards are getting looked at. I may even check out how it might look on the table.

I can’t imagine buying a game and then leaving it in its original wrapping.

I just don’t even understand the mindset.

Ok, sure. Maybe some people buy games for the express purpose of selling or trading them at some point.

I don’t get that either, but ok. If that’s what you’re doing, there’s no way you’re going to unwrap the game at that point, because part of its value is that nothing has been touched in it.

And yes, there have been games where I’ve done all of this and then realized that it’s never going to get played, and maybe I should trade it for something that I really do want to play.

But for the most part, if I buy a game, I want to own it.

I want to play it.

And I want to sniff that fresh new cardboard smell as I see racks and racks of unpunched counters and I want to revel in it like a kid in a pile of legos as I punch and bag all of the counters.

So those of you who buy games and leave them in shrink, I would like to ask you (unless you are buying them just to sell/trade later, of course).

Why do you do that?

Why leave a perfectly good game in shrink, unpunched, just because you might not play it for a little bit?

I really don’t get it.

Not that I don’t appreciate it when I get one of those in trade.

Not even opened? Cool, I’m all over that!

But as a game consumer, I don’t get it at all.

Anybody want to explain it to me?

I’ll wait.

Storm Above the Reich – After Action Report – Mission #8

We’re in the second mission of the second season of the Staffel Roy Storm Above the Reich campaign, and things aren’t necessarily going that well.

No more pilots have been lost and I did get a victory point last mission, but then I looked at the victory conditions for the second season.

Ten missions in the season, and you have to earn 30 VP to “not lose.”

Yeah, one point a mission is not going to fly!

Would Mission #8 do anything to alleviate that problem?

Or did I look at the victory conditions after doing Mission #8?

Only time will tell (well, I know, but you don’t know yet…)

Once again I’m doing the Advanced “Pursuit” rule, which means that if a bomber falls, I have to pursue it or I don’t get any victory points. Only destroyed bombers will count.

I think Kermit above has the right idea.

How did Mission #8 go? Will Ehrhoff ever get rid of his Green status? Will Clausen ever return to the Staffel or is he selling meds from his hospital bed?

Let’s take a look.

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Wingspan: European Expansion Coming to the App

I love getting fresh news just when I’ve decided I wasn’t going to post anything for the day!

Monster Couch, developer of the really great (if sometimes frustrating for online play) Wingspan app (reviewed here), just announced that the European expansion will be coming to the app soon.

Watch the Announcement Teaser here:

What does the European expansion add?

The expansion adds a bunch of new birds from the European continent (strange how that works), some of which have new abilities.

Some birds have round end abilities, which give you bonuses or effects at the end of the round instead of when activated. Some increase the interaction with other players, and some benefit from having excess food.

The boardgame was designed by Elizabeth Hargrave with artwork by Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas and Beth Sobel and it was published by Stonemaier Games in 2019.

The bird with the blue banner has an end of round ability

I’ve played with them once, and they have nice abilities.

I am really excited about this and can’t wait to bring you more news about it. The game itself is good, but this expansion makes it even better.

More to come!

Everdell Coming to an App in 2022 From Dire Wolf Digital

Wasn’t going to post anything today, but then I got an email from Dire Wolf Digital announcing that their next digital project is Everdell!

I’ve always wanted to play Everdell haven’t had the chance to.

And now I will!

Everdell was published by Tabletop Tycoon in 2018. Designed by James A. Wilson with beautiful artwork by Andrew Bosley and Dann May, it’s a hand management, card-drafting game that always looked really cool on the table when I saw it at conventions.

Let’s blurb the blurb…

From Everfrost to Bellsong, many a peaceful year have passed in Everdell — but the time has come for new territories to be settled and new cities to be established. You will be the leader of a group of critters intent on just such a task. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet, events to host— you will have a busy year ahead of you! Will the sun shine brightest on your city before the winter moon rises?

The big tree was always the most memorable thing to me.

Posted on BGG by Chris Schreiber

Hopefully Dire Wolf gets *that* into there!

Everdell will be coming onto Steam, iOS and Android platforms and hopefully it’s as good as all of Dire Wolf’s other games!

Review – Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition

What happens when one of your favourite games gets a bit of a revamp where it’s faster and also uses some mechanisms from other games that you like?

It’s not the same game streamlined, though. It’s an actually different game that uses some of your favourite bits while making it take a shorter amount of time and actually adding some interesting cool shit?

That’s what happens when you try Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, a game that takes a bunch of your favourite Terraforming Mars bits, like dropping a moon on Mars to raise the temperature…

and makes it an action selection game that still is a ton of fun and still (at least kind of) feels like the original game.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition was designed by Sydney Engelstein, Jacob Fryxelius and Nick Little with art by a bunch of different folks. It was published by Stronghold Games and FryxGames in 2021.

It is great fun to play, and this is from someone who has Terraforming Mars in his Top 10 games!

Sometimes a “streamlined” version of a game comes out and maybe you’ll try it once just to see what it’s like, and maybe it will be kind of nice but no patch on the original game.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is none of that. While I still prefer the original overall, this is a game that I will love playing due to the shorter time factor as well as the fun mechanisms that give you some of the feel of the original but still make it distinctive as its own game.

What do I mean by this?

(I’ll refrain from making another Soap joke).

Let’s take a look.

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Storm Above the Reich – After Action Report – Mission #7

With the successful (well, successful as meaning that I didn’t lose) completion of Mission #6 in Storm Above the Reich, it was time to move to the middle of 1943 and see if Staffel Roy could actually pull out a victory rather than just treading water in this air campaign.

After Mission #7, I can say…well, I think I’m treading water still.

It did not get off to the greatest start, though at least nothing truly bad happened!

Unfortunately, that was because some Escort fighters drained my strength before I could do much about it.

With the new season starting, I decided to use the Advanced Rules of Pursuit.

What this means is that if a bomber falls out of formation, you don’t get any points for it. You only get points for destroying bombers.

However, if a bomber falls, you can send fighters after it to pursue it.

This takes place after the rest of the mission ends, and it does really add a lot to the game, I have to say.

How did the first mission with this go?

Let’s take a look.

(Reminder, you can always click on a picture to see it full size. Also, for the specific rules of what I’m talking about, see the Mission #1 & #2 report though I will provide detail on the Pursuit rules)

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Viscounts of the West Kingdom expansion on Kickstarter January 11, 2022

(Edit 1/11/22: The Kickstarter is now live!)

Having just played Viscounts of the West Kingdom for the first time yesterday (after having it for over a year but then COVID lockdown hit), I was very excited to see this on Twitter yesterday.


I couldn’t remember if there was supposed to be an expansion for Viscounts but I figured there would be.

Instead, there are two expansions coming!

Also, given the Garphill Games track record, if they’re offering the Collector’s Box, then they won’t be doing any more expansions after the first one. They’re very good about that sort of thing.

After yesterday’s play, I’m not sure if it surpasses Architects of the West Kingdom for me or not, but I can see it possibly happening.

So to see new expansions for it coming out, that is very exciting news.

They are already on Boardgame Geek (Keeper of Keys and Gates of Gold) if you want to keep up with it as information comes.

But if I find out other stuff, you know I’ll be posting about it.

Sam Macdonald has confirmed on Boardgame Geek that this expansions will not add a 5th player.

(This is taken from the BGG page for Gates of Gold , uploaded by Shem Phillips)

There has also been confirmation of some new kind of card, called the “King’s Order.”

These cards look interesting! These are also from BGG uploaded by Shem Phillips

I’m not sure exactly what the new mechanism is for Keeper of Keys but the cards look cool!

I love that Shem and Sam are keeping this stuff coming.

With the second (and final) Architects of the West Kingdom expansion shipping in May (I backed that Kickstarter first day) and now this announcement, I am so happy!

Stay tuned for more news as I hear it.

Have you played this one, and what do you think of it? Are you excited for the expansion?

Let me know in the comments.