Some views from Charlotte, Part 1

There is a very active board gaming presence in Charlotte. There are a number of very well stocked game stores and most of these host open gaming each week.

I play regularly with some guys on Thursday nights and sometimes on the weekends. This group is well rounded in its interests with such game diversity as 18xx, hex and counter wargames, miniatures and Euros. Here are my impressions of some of the games we have played that I thought may hold some interest.

We played two games of 1846. The first game was a learning game for the other three guys and I thought I would walk away with an easy win. Between losing whatever 18xx skills I may have had and choosing a western first strategy, I finished a distant last. 1846 is definitely not 1830. It is a gentler and less interactive version of the 18xx system. So we played again with the same group and while I did better, I still finished last, primarily due to getting bottled up in the NE when a station token blocked me from any lucrative routes. Since railroad companies float after only the president's share is sold, cross investing is rare at the start of the game so it is hard to recover from a bad position early. GMT did a nice job on 1846 which has great bits and is a solid 18xx game. I still prefer 1830 which should be the next 18xx game that hits the table.

I was able to play in a 4 player game of Concordia. This game is rated highly but it just didn't appeal to me all that much. It could have had something to do with one of the players who was not part of our regular group and had some less than positive people skills. Still the game looks good and seems to have a lot going for it. It just wasn't one for me.

Eclipse is a space exploration game that I was able to play twice with different groups. It has great bits and it is expensive at $100 retail. It is about to be reprinted with an even more expensive second edition. I really liked Eclipse in that it folded in more than just military expansion and extermination. These are there but there is also a strong economic system that tempers the activity players can perform.

I've become a big fan of Terraforming Mars. I've played a few times with others and also solo. It works very well as a solo game. I've gotten the expansions and while these add to the game, they aren't essential as there are so many cards in the base game, it plays differently each time. The game has a great theme and is fairly simple to play.

I've become very fond of Portal Games Robinson Crusoe. It has become one of my favorite games of any type and was my top game of 2017. The Voyage of the Beagle expansion is great as the scenarios play in order to tell a story. So when Portal announced First Martians, I was intrigued. I have played First Martians a couple of times, once solo and once with a small group. I like FM but not as much as RC. The major difference is that in RC, you start most scenarios with nothing and have to survive. In FM, you start with everything and then you manage the breakdowns. Subtle difference, but RC tells a better story and is the better gaming experience.

I traded for a copy of Orleans last year, having really enjoyed the game at one of my last FW Game Night appearances. I recently bought the big box expansion which has some solo scenarios, one of which I have played so far. I really like this game system. It has great components and is very engaging. Definitely a keeper for me.

I had been interested in New Bedford for quite some time since I first saw it at a Gencon. The town building aspect appeals to me a bit more than the whaling aspect, but overall, I like the game. I have been able to add the expansion and the white whale mini-expansion. These add to the game and I recommend both, although the white whale is hard to find (as white whales would be). I've played both solo and with the group. It plays equally well in both modes.

I played in a 6 player game of Raiders of the North Sea, a game one of the players was really in to. It is a nice looking game with a Viking theme, but with 6 players and all the expansions (needed to accommodate 6 players), it was very long at 3.5 hours. Game play was Ok but it just didn't grab me. I would play again with fewer players but it would not be a game I would seek out.

I played Fallout a couple of times. This is a board game based on a video game that I did not play but William did and he said that it is a faithful representation of the video game. This is a fun and engaging game system and it has a great narrative with a programmed series of events through a deck of cards that is built as players make choices. As you can tell, I like games that are heavy on narrative. This is probably due to the fact I don't win very often. Fallout is a good game and one the group will return to from time to time.


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