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Month: January 2013


Most humans are guilty of being at least a little superficial.  Our initial reactions to pretty things are usually favorable.  Test after test have shown that corporate hiring managers will lean toward an attractive candidate over a less than attractive candidate even though the less than attractive candidate was slightly more qualified.  More attractive, “slick” politicians more often than not win over more qualified less than attractive opponents.  When my wife and I go into Wal Mart, we head our separate ways to get supplies and cut down on the time spent there.  While picking up my products, almost every time I will walk into an aisle with a young mother with a child in it, the mother takes one look at me and takes her child’s hand and leaves the aisle (the unattractive aspect of my appearance).  When I finally find my wife, she is usually “holding court” with two or three other people, chatting away….about half of the time she doesn’t even know who she is talking to (the attractive aspect of her appearance).   I am guilty of being superficial also, especially when it comes to games.  Stone Age, Mice and Mystics, Dungeon Command, and any game by Fantasy Flight Games makes me drool.  I just want to dive in give ’em a go!  Less attractive games, and boxes, usually get shoved to the back of the playlist.  Fellow gamers, if you are guilty of this, you must resist this superficial urge!!

About three months ago, Jason and I were getting ready to jump into another game night.  Usually, the conversation goes something like: “What would you like to play Jeff?”  “I don’t care, I’ll play anything.”  But not this night.  He brought over a red and blue box with a locomotive on it and said “This is Empire Express, I played in a demo game at the Alliance Open House earlier this year, I think you’ll like it.”  He proceded to pull the cellophane off the ho hum looking box.  He opened up the box, and pulled out a very bland, jigsaw puzzle board, some not too exciting, kinda tan colored cards, paper money (which I am not a fan of at all) and some crayons.  I thought to myself, “Self, you are not going to like this game, its not pretty, and I gave up coloring a couple of years ago.”  Jason began explaining to me that this was a newly released, introductory version of a popular line of games beginning with Empire Builder, also know as the “crayon rails” games line by Mayfair Games, the people who bring us Settlers of Catan.  “I like Settlers of Catan, and it is my wife’s favorite, so I’ll give it a shot.”  “Plus, I did say I’d play anything.”  So we got right into the game, with Jason doing is usual exceptional job of explaining the rules.

About an hour later, after I got trounced by Jason, I asked him if he had a copy for sale, and picked it up.  This game is a gem!  The game components are vanilla at best as I already described.  But I really like the game play.  It is not a deep game, with lot of nuances, strategy and tactics, but you do have decisions to make on almost every turn that will effect the outcome of the game.  “Do I build that line from Indianapolis to Chicago for $27 million, or do I draw a different delivery cards?”

There are basically two aspects to the game, building track and delivering products from a production town to a delivery town.  When you complete a delivery order, you get money.  When you build track, it costs you money.  If you run on another players track to deliver or pick up products , you pay them cash, or they pay you cash if they run on your track.  The first player to amass a fortune of $150 million wins the game.  Basically, the game mimics the business adage, you have to spend money to make money.  So, as stated above, do I build more track, thereby reducing my fortune, to make more money delivering goods, or do I look for different delivery cards?  There is some randomness in the card draw, (delivery tickets) and there are several random event cards that effect players if their train is in a certain location, but I think it is the right amount.  The only down side to play is that there is not much interaction among players, you do your own thing for the most part.

The game has rules for the regular version and the starter version.  The starter version has a set of four pre drawn routes that players begin with, along with predetermined delivery tickets that ensure you start making cash right away.  It took Jason and I about an hour to play the game for the first time, but I could see this game taking about 15-20 minutes per player once everyone know the rules.  Starter game can play up to four players, standard game (in which you start out with no track, and $60 million in cash) plays up to six players.  The game scales well, I have played with 2, 3, 4, and 5 players, and the mechanics and flavor work well at all 4 levels.

As I said, this game is a gem!  I have it in my top ten games, rating it an 8 out of 10. While it is not as pretty, deep, or elegant as other games, it does what it does very well.  Empire Express is easy to teach and easy to grasp.  My son’s girlfriend Alia claims it as her favorite game.  I have taught it to 5 others so far, and all have given Empire Express a thumbs up.  As I stated earlier, there are several games in the “Crayon Rails” line, and I intend to buy at least 3 others in the next few months, Empire Builder, Lunar Rails, and Martian Rails.  Empire Builder is the expanded version of Empire Express and is the game that started the line of games, Lunar and Martian Rails being based on the Moon and Mars.

So fellow gamers, I highly recommend Empire Express. And strongly urge you to give each game a chance, don’t make the mistake of overlooking a great game based on its components.

Next times topic, “Get ’em while they are young”


Great gaming gang!


PS – I still have a  brand spankin’ new copy of Zombie Dice to give away to the next person to say great gaming gang to me.

Jason’s Board Game Collection — Apples to Apples


It’s amazing to see Apples to Apples as such a mainstream thing.  I remember when Out of the Box and John Kovalic first released the little party game.  We tried it right about the time it was releasing at a trade show thirteen years ago or so, and was taught the game by one creators. (more…)


Hello all, like Alan and Travis, Jason has asked me to contribute my $.02 worth to the Fort Sackville Gamers page, blog, bulletin board, web page, whatever this is (as you can see, I am prehistoric when it comes to the social media, the internet and the new technology coming down the pipe).  I am not sure what I have to say is worth $.02, hence the name.  I am going to give a somewhat lengthy background about myself (my wife says I can’t answer a yes or no question in less than 10 minutes) to serve as a background and filter as to how I look at games. (more…)


Howdy all. Thanks to Jason I have a chance to blog about my gaming but I thought I’d introduce myself. My name is Allen and I live in Robinson, IL and I started gaming in the 70’s with D&D, SPI, and Avalon Hill wargames. I left gaming for years when I went to college (lack of money mostly) and only started picking it up again in early 2000’s. I lamented that I did not have a gaming group to play games but then I realized my 4 daughters constituted my very own gaming group. I started with Ticket to Ride and thanks to the now defunct podcast Game On!: With Cody and John, Battlestar Galactica. Not all of my girls love board games like I do but we enjoy playing them. Thanks to a chance noticing of a Nerd Day in Robinson I met Joe and Jason and the Legends crew. I’m now running over to Vincennes whenever I can to play games and enjoying Nerd Day when it comes around.  I pondered what my first game post will be and I’ve decided that it will be about my first foray into miniatures wargaming. Thanks for reading.

Jason’s Board Game Collection — Android


I heard about [bgt id=39339] shortly before they announced Android: Netrunner.  I was attracted to the future noir setting, and liked the idea of a murder mystery where the actual “solution” to the game isn’t predetermined.  It took quite a while to get it to the table, and sadly, I’ve only gotten to play it once.

In Android, you play one of several detectives set in a dystopian future.  You’re investigating a recent murder, but you have personal baggage to deal with as well.  Each character has its own flavor, its own personal quests, and its own way of dealing with the investigation.  Each player is also given two suspect cards.  One is the suspect that they are trying to prove is guilty, and one they’re trying to prove is innocent.  As you find evidence, you may choose which suspect it applies to, and if it’s incriminating or exonerating evidence.  As the game progresses, you will draw cards that will either further your own quests, or hinder your opponents progress and quests.  Each character has a balance “light and dark” that affects what types of cards you can play.

The game has a fairly high learning curve and there are a lot of bits and tokens to keep track of.  Our first play was a bit rocky, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I’m not sure Jeff and Allen enjoyed it quite as much, but I would certainly like to play it again. Hopefully, I can get this to the table again.

I very much enjoyed the setting of Android, and like it equally well in the Netrunner game.  I hope to play Infiltration soon, and also would like to pick up some of the novels.

Jason’s Board Game Collection – Unplayed Games #2

The games on this morning’s “Unplayed Games” list have both been “kinda played”.  Each was picked up after a  brief demo, and never got played after that.



Before I got heavily interested in board gaming as a hobby, I was primarily an RPG guy.  One of the perks of being a game retailer is the “trade show”.  Each year, we visit the opposite corner of the state, and spend a weekend with other retailers and game manufacturers.  In 2008 (I believe), one game that I tried at the trade show was [bgt id=336568], which led us to pick up a copy.  It’s never made it back out of the box.  The demo of the game was fun enough, but I’ve never found anyone interested in trying it.



At GenCon 2010, we spent a lot of time at the Mayfair section of the distributor area.  Their demo program at GenCon that year let you get various “resource badges” for demoing different types of games.  We spent the better part of an afternoon there, playing Gangsters, Journey to the Center of the Earth and several other games.

While we were there, I only every SAW Atlantis played, but we picked it up because it looked like fun and it seemed like a good two-player game.  We punched out all the pieces while waiting for a “Celebrity D&D Session”, and I don’t think we’ve ever opened the box since.

Jason’s Board Game Collection – Unplayed Games #1

As I work my way through the list of games, I will be making posts like this to make note of games that I haven’t played yet.  I will also be noting if I plan to play them and/or any other thoughts I have on them.  They won’t be full reviews, though.


Advanced Civilization/Civilization – I picked this up earlier this year, and it’s been high on my list to play.  It’s difficult to find 5 to 7 people who have 6+ hours to play, though, so I’ve not had a lot of luck getting this to the table.  I found a website at and joined 3 online games there.  I’ve discovered that I’m terrible at it, but that’s ok.  It’s a fun game, but I’m leaning toward this one not making it to the table.   I think I’d rather play 2 or 3 shorter games with friends.


Advanced Heroquest – I loved HeroQuest in my youth.  It was one of my first introductions into RPGs and board games.  Over the years, it was replaced by Warhammer Quest and more recently Descent Second Edition.  Advanced Heroquest was traded to me by a friend a few years ago, and I’ve never gotten around to playing it.  I’m not sure it’ll ever make it to my table, but I like the look of it on my shelf.

I would love to hear peoples’ opinions on these two games, as I’d be happy to play them, but I really want to optimize my gaming this year.


Jason’s Board Game Collection — Alien Frontiers


We’ve played several games of [bgt id=48726] since July. Some of our Evansville friends
brought their copy up, and taught us one Saturday evening. It was also my first worker placement game. It must have made an impact on me. My first sincere foray into game development has me making a worker placement game.

Alien Frontiers is a worker placement game that uses dice as the workers/ships. Different
combinations of die results can be used in different locations, as players try to get the most points by colonizing areas of the alien planet. You get points for each colony you land on an area, plus you get a point for any area you have complete control over.

Those points can be taken away when another person takes control of the area. Various technology cards can be bought when you have certain combinations on the dice, which let you modify your dice, remove your opponents from locations you want to be, and sometimes even give you victory points.

I have to say this is probably one of my favorite games of the year. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the expansions. I managed to play it three times before breaking down and ordering my own copy.  Since then, I’ve managed to play it with several different
people. It’s not quite as simple as Lords of Waterdeep, but it’s a very straightforward game that is fairly easy to teach.

Jason’s Board Game Collection — 1960: The Making of the President


Shortly after the 2012 election, I had apparently not had enough of the election fervor. I picked up a copy of [bgt id=27708], and got to play it within a few days.

Since I’ve started following several board game podcasts (The Dice Tower, Ludology and On Board Games, specifically), [bgt id=12333] has been on my radar, but I couldn’t quite justify the expense, as I wasn’t sure I had someone to play it with. I learned that 1960 was out of print, and remembered that my FLGS still had one, so I pulled the trigger on it, reasoning that I wouldn’t have another opportunity.

The first thing I noticed was the production quality. This is a downright beautiful game. I’ve found Z-man games to be hit and miss, but this one is incredible. The board is large and sturdy, with one side for the Nixon player and one for the Kennedy player. A large bag for red and blue cubes represents the balance of political clout. Heavy cardboard tokens and a sizable deck of event cards round out the components. Overall a wonderfully put together game.

Within a few days of purchase, Jeff and I got the opportunity to play it. Jeff took on the role of Nixon’s campaign, and I took on the Kennedy side. The game plays over 10 rounds, each representing several weeks during the political campaign. Cards that you draw and play throughout the game will let you add cubes of your color to the bag. Cards are usually beneficial for you or your opponent, and you have the choice of playing them for their event, or as a simple political campaigning tool. However, if you play them for campaigning, your opponent may use them for their event, which may benefit them. Taking charge of issues and the regional media will also affect the balance of power in the states. It was a close race, but Nixon was able to secure the media influence and the East Coast, and managed to win the election. It was a great game, and took about 2 hours to play.

I have yet to play Twilight Struggle, but I understand that this mechanic is similar for both games. We enjoyed it enough that it will certainly make it to the table again, but only after we’ve tried it’s bigger brother, Twilight Struggle, which I picked up for Jeff for Christmas.

I hope this makes it back in print, as I think it’s a fascinating election to follow, the theme is really well tied to the game, and the gameplay makes a lot of sense.

This is my first review in this series. Thank you for bearing with me, as I’m sure I’m not the easiest person to follow, but I’m hoping the practice of doing this will help my writing skills.