Gaming

Anatomy of a Gaming Expertise


Creator’s Observe: This isn’t actually a recreation evaluate. It’s extra of an ode to recreation, and specifically, an ode to a specific gaming expertise. There’ll be humor. At occasions I’ll veer into being a fanboy. And at occasions I’ll be important. However that is principally a narrative of one of many higher gaming experiences of my life, preceded by a narrative about punching and sorting a comically giant recreation.

Glen Extra is amongst my all-time favourite video games. I’ve 60 logged performs, however I didn’t begin logging performs till 2014, and I’m nonetheless unhealthy about it, so the actual complete is probably going in extra of 100 performs. However I finally received a bit bored of the sport, as I undoubtedly have a method labored out.

So I used to be ridiculously excited after I heard rumors of Glen Extra II, and I used to be thrilled to get to play the Dragonboats Chronicle prototype on the Gathering of Pals a few years in the past. When the sport was on Kickstarter, I enthusiastically backed it.


I used to be in Essen when my copy arrived at my home, so my first viewing of the ultimate product was really on the Funtails sales space in Essen. I used to be amazed on the manufacturing worth: the gorgeous art work, the thick tiles, the good storage resolution, and many others. However in the long run, I didn’t purchase the sport at Essen, as a result of suitcase area is proscribed, and the Glen Extra II field is gigantic and heavy, type of like a whisky cask.

Nonetheless, I used to be excited to play it. Very excited. And on the aircraft, I even watched a documentary on Scotch whisky manufacturing (“Scotch: A Golden Dream”). I knew nearly nothing of whisky, not to mention Scotch, however in that video, I realized that there’s a whisky model referred to as Glenmorangie. I made a psychological word to purchase a bottle for after I lastly received to play Glen Extra II.


This weekend was 5C, a small gaming get collectively on the Lake of the Ozarks. I knew I’d get to play my copy of Glen Extra II there, so it was within the video games I packed. A number of days beforehand, I had positioned a Glenmorangie sampler pack at a fuel station in rural Missouri (of all locations). There are 4 small tasting bottles within the pack, and 4 rounds in a recreation of Glen Extra, so I figured we 4 gamers might every get pleasure from a tasting throughout every spherical of the sport.

I shared this plan with my associates — Brandon (a fellow author for this website), Megan (a long-time gaming pal, and artist for my self-produced trick taking recreation), and Tyler (one other long-time gaming pal). Saturday night time could be a night of Glen Extra and Glenmorangie.


However first I needed to punch this recreation, a recreation so large that it most likely led to an financial growth within the cardboard trade of the nation of origin.

Normally, I’m an individual who loves technique, each in life and in gaming. However on the subject of punching video games, I open the field and get to work, using neither technique nor ways. The rulebook learn would come later, I deliberate. It’s not the optimum method, however it’s my method. That was a poor selection right here… I like to recommend studying the rulebook earlier than you punch this recreation.

There are so much of supplies within the Glen Extra field. And, to my shock, you must kind out the totally different chronicles earlier than your first play. Once I began punching, I used to be grouping supplies by kind of piece (i.e. the “A” tiles went with all “A” tiles, the small chits all went collectively, and many others.), however not by Chronicle. Novice mistake.

My sister was type sufficient to affix me. “There’s a lot to punch,” she stated, with apparent pleasure in her face. She actually likes punching video games, which I believe is an odd trait, as I think about it tedious and slightly bit annoying, since my clumsy fingers can actually mangle a chunk of cardboard.

However we began punching, figuring out that we have been embarking on a protracted journey. And we stored punching. And minutes later, we have been nonetheless at it. Elaborate little piles have been forming on the tables. In the meantime, over in Scotland, some whiskies had aged fairly a bit from when our course of began.

However quickly sufficient, we have been performed. We double checked the sprues, deciding that sure, certainly, they might go within the trash. (I affectionately name this a “sprue audit”.) There have been a punching error on a few items — the clan markers have a skinny diameter in comparison with how thick they’re, in order that they have been exhausting to punch, and a pair separated throughout the punching. I like my video games to be pristine, so I used to be slightly aggravated. (And it wasn’t my error for as soon as! Jessie had punched these items.) However nonetheless, the punching was full. The method concerned a lot cardboard that, if the apocalypse comes, we’ll be capable of survive for years by burning our copy of Glen Extra II for gasoline. (That stated, we wouldn’t burn it. We’d completely play it and burn different video games. Like Charterstone.)

After which I observed one thing. The sticker sheets. And my coronary heart sank. I hate stickering video games, a lot in order that I usually gained’t do it. I agree that stickers look superior on video games, however as soon as once more, I’m not outfitted with sufficient dexterity for the advantageous process of stickering. “No,” I declared, “I’m not doing it. The pieces will remain unstickered!” I made this declaration to your entire recreation room. I acquired puzzled appears, however principally individuals went again to enjoying their different video games.

Round that point, Brandon popped by, asking if I had ordered the steel cash. I hadn’t, as a result of I don’t suppose I ever actually knew it was an choice, despite the fact that I completely LOVE steel cash. (I’m unhealthy about studying Kickstarter pages. And pledge managers. I miss loads of stuff in that course of.) I believe Brandon was principally ribbing me: he is aware of that I’m mildly obsessive about changing cardboard cash with steel cash, and he additionally is aware of that I don’t learn Kickstarter pages that carefully, so I think Brandon had been ready days to ship that line. It was a really Brandon factor to do.

So now I’m nonetheless excited to play the sport, however unhappy that I missed out on the steel cash, and much more unhappy that there’s no means this factor will ever be stickered. I even have a few broken items from punching, and my Nessie field had been crushed in transport (though Nessie herself had survived, that devious little dinosaur). Issues have been trying down… I wished to only crack open these tiny little whisky bottles.

However then issues began to lookup. My sister supplied to start out stickering it. (She appeared excited to do it. Sure, she’s delightfully bizarre. She’s additionally a tremendous sister.) And off to work she went. Quickly, her husband joined her, making it a household affair. I had my very personal stickering workforce! For the following forty-five minutes, they have been in stickering heaven.

In the meantime, I had arrange for the primary recreation — in spite of everything, I knew how you can play Glen Extra! — after which I began studying the rulebook. You learn that accurately: this recreation critic and skilled gamer simply tried to arrange a recreation with out ever studying a rulebook. (I’m nonetheless undecided what I used to be considering!)

I had clearly simply performed issues within the incorrect order. The rulebook unambiguously acknowledged that I wanted to kind issues into the chronicle containers. And I had simply blended all the items collectively. And thus started the following part of my journey: packing items again into little containers, finding out this freshly punched recreation. Luckily, I’ve received my stickering crew going full throttle. And within the recreation room, individuals are amazed at simply what number of items there are to Glen Extra II. One group was enjoying On the Origin of Species, however I guarantee you that the most important evolution taking place in that recreation room was the meeting of my copy of Glen Extra II.

I relayed to Brandon that I’d assist him kind his copy when his recreation arrived, however I additionally knowledgeable him that I’m not a ok pal to assist him with the stickering. If I’m being trustworthy, I’m most likely additionally not a ok pal to assist him with the punching. Possibly he can recruit Jessie. (Hopefully I hate his steel cash.)

Anyway, we lastly completed. We had aged within the course of, and I believe even Jessie most likely bored with punching/stickering for some time, however we did handle to finish our epic journey. We might have expended much less power climbing throughout Scotland. I most likely ought to have had bagpipes available to mark the event.

I slide the Chronicle containers into the storage container. And my gosh it seemed spectacular. The storage field, totally assembled, simply appears satisfying. I used to be able to play. It had been loads of work: punching, sorting, and stickering had taken almost an hour. Now it was time for the reward for the exhausting work.

However first, I needed to go to dinner. My household wished Italian meals. I most likely ought to have pushed for haggis, however I candidly don’t suppose I’d get pleasure from it, and I doubt there are any locations on the Lake of the Ozarks that serve it.


I took the rulebook with me to dinner I used to be so excited. And once we received again, my fellow gamers for the massive play weren’t there. So I requested my sister and brother-in-law to play. They’re not usually into heavier video games, however I believe that they had Stockholm syndrome from all the punching and stickering, they usually knew how excited I used to be (that they had witnessed me with the rulebook at dinner), in order that they agreed. We play video games ridiculously rapidly in my household (although not fairly Huber velocity), so I received by means of the foundations and we performed in about 35 minutes.

And one thing odd occurred. My brother in legislation gained. He’s a proficient gamer, however I used to be as soon as actually good at Glen Extra. A number of years in the past there was an enormous match on Yucata, and I used to be the #1 participant within the match at one level. I’m nonetheless one of many highly-ranked gamers on the location. However my methods have been not working. Shedding unexpectedly made me very pleased… I suppose I used to be bored with successful… as a result of it meant there was so much to discover right here.

And so they loved the sport, unexpectedly. I guess I may even get them to play it once more. And for Christmas, I’d even get them one other copy to punch and sticker. (Kidding, after all.)

We performed that recreation with the Nessie chronicle. I wasn’t that impressed by it — it was a bit too random for my tastes — however we thought it was a cute addition and we’re glad now we have it. Who wouldn’t desire a Loch Ness monster meeple?


After their recreation adjourned, I started establishing for the massive play. I cleaned the whisky glasses. I secured some ice from the resort bar. I re-read the rulebook after the final play, noticing a few small errors in what we did. I included the promos (however took out the Nessie chronicle). I even snapped an image.


Nice gaming experiences at all times have three key substances: an excellent recreation, nice gamers, and an excellent story. That is the story of one of many nice gaming experiences of my life.

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or is aged 12 years, and the tasting notes appeared to indicate that it was going to be the smoothest of the 4 bottles have been have been about to get pleasure from, so we determined to pour it for Spherical A of Glen Extra.

I taught the sport, and with three such proficient players, they appeared to understand it with ease. The whisky was clean, and so was the gameplay, as is at all times the case in Spherical A. Early methods have been rising, however this was principally about arrange. Tyler was pursuing the well-known Scots, clearly aiming himself as much as develop throughout the clan board, together with an added deal with getting extra Scotsmen out on the board. Brandon was attempting a little bit of every thing. Megan was going useful resource heavy. I used to be specializing in getting whisky engine going, additionally secretly plotting to have fewer tiles than my fellow gamers, and hoping for the highly effective areas within the C and D rounds. (In different phrases, I used to be nonetheless pursuing my outdated Glen Extra technique.)

The sport was lovely on the desk. And everyone was immersed within the gaming expertise. And I used to be beginning to discover the variations between Glen Extra and Glen Extra II, and I used to be recognizing that this was the higher, extra totally developed recreation.


Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban is aged 12 years in port casks, and it’s most likely probably the most complicated tasting of the bottles we tried. It was becoming for Spherical B of Glen Extra, which is usually probably the most difficult spherical.

In Spherical A, you set your technique, however you’ve gotten time to regulate, and actually that spherical is about gobbling up tiles, so the selections are type of apparent. By Spherical B, you’re a bit extra dedicated, and you must be bit extra selective. It’s important to not solely set your technique, however attempt to guess on the technique of the opposite gamers.

Everyone was having fun with the whisky, and we have been having fun with the sport. Tyler was incomes appreciable factors for his Scotsmen throughout scoring, and I used to be incomes it for whisky, whereas Brandon and Megan have been going with extra numerous methods, although Brandon began grabbing for these well-known Scots.

And at this level, I’m noticing that my outdated Glen Extra technique most likely isn’t going to work. I vow to maintain attempting, however I’m seeing an increasing number of of the cleverness within the new design. And did I point out how lovely this recreation seemed on the desk?


Glenmorange Lasanta, aged 12 years in sherry casks, is extraordinarily satisfying. It was most likely the consensus favourite of the whisky varieties we tried. And if I had taken a ballot, I believe Spherical C could be the consensus favourite in Glen Extra. That’s at all times been the case: although my pleasure is in the long run recreation, Spherical C is when winners and losers are made, and I think that’s what most gamers treasure concerning the recreation.

By Spherical C, the situation tiles are attention-grabbing and vital, and particular person participant areas have gotten distinctive. In Glen Extra II, the clan board had taken form, and totally different gamers had adopted totally different approaches.

It was clear that Tyler was all in on the clan board. I used to be nonetheless attempting to attenuate my variety of tiles whereas maximizing the setup for the nice areas. And Brandon and Megan have been nonetheless attempting a little bit of every thing, although Megan was veering in direction of manipulating the market, and Brandon was exploring the clan board and undoubtedly take quite a few well-known Scots. I consider it’s round this time that he grabbed for the David Hume tile.


Within the last spherical of Glen Extra II, we drank the unique Glenmorange, aged 10 years in American oak whisky casks. And the a part of Glen Extra II that’s the most becoming tribute to the unique Glen MOre is Spherical D, so the unique model of Glenmorangie was a becoming drink selection.

The tip recreation of Glen Extra has at all times been one in every of my favourite gaming moments. Gamers have to attenuate the tiles they take — they’re penalized for every tile they’ve over the participant with the fewest — main them to be deeply strategic about which one they choose, and the place they place it. Gamers even have to choose their last tile, which is likely one of the greater decisions of the sport. This part of Glen Extra II shines by means of exceptionally.

Ultimately, Tyler gained by a protracted shot. The remainder of us hadn’t performed sufficient with the clan board, nor sufficient with the areas (although I did nonetheless snag what I noticed as the most effective areas).

My outdated technique of in search of sure areas to win the sport not works. And I like that: Glen Extra II is a recreation with so much for me to discover, and that’s even with out the numerous chronicles within the recreation.


My fellow gamers cherished the sport. Brandon rated it extremely, and so did Megan. Tyler stated it was his favourite recreation of the conference. It was nearly mine. However both means, this was my favourite play of the occasion, a memorable gaming expertise. Every part lined up: an excellent recreation, with nice gamers, and an excellent story. Oh, and a few fairly nice whisky (although not very a lot, as a result of it was only a tiny sampler pack cut up amongst 4 individuals).


Total, I’m extremely, extremely impressed with Glen Extra II. It’ll most likely make my prime 5 checklist of 2019. The manufacturing worth is astounding, and I can already inform that the gameplay is healthier than the unique. I stay up for attempting the chronicles.

And the individuals at my occasion agreed: Glen Extra II completed within the prime 5 voting for finest recreation of the occasion.

The well-known Scots are an excellent addition, and so is the clan board. Based mostly on my two performs, will probably be exhausting to win with out utilizing them at the very least partly.

Total, Glen Extra II is a becoming tribute to Glen Extra, one in every of my all-time favourite video games. I stay up for many extra performs. I stay up for the chronicles. Kudos to Matthias Cramer and Funtails on this wonderful manufacturing.



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