Tabletop gaming: boardgame reviews, role playing game reviews, gaming stories, and gaming links.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fifteen Games in One Day!

Playing fifteen games is one thing, but getting fifteen brand new games in one day is quite another thing! We arrived home from the cottage to find Deep Sea Adventure in our mailbox. I had arranged to participate in the Cardboard Kingdom "fire sale" which I found out about via Facebook. I jumped on the small games $10 and big games $20 deal hoping to grab Roll for it Deluxe! When I emailed about the game I was told there was going to be an even better promo, they are moving to Victoria so they really needed to liquidate their inventory, so I scoured their website for another bunch of games. They found 8 of the ones I wanted so I had them put those aside until I got back yesterday (this was Sunday). When I arrived there was not a lot of stock left, but I managed to bring the number up to 14 games! Here is what I got:

Roll for It Deluxe! (the instigator of this madness)
One Night Vampire
One Night Revolution
The Secret of Cats (FATE RPG)
Pandemic: Sate of Emergency
Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age
Flick em Up!
Riff Raff

Impulse purchases:
Gear & Piston
Treasure Hunter
Code of Nine
Beasty Bar
Dragon Farkle

So much games! On top of that we had a tiny game night (just tiny games) at my buddy Richard's place. Played Deep Sea Adventure (I will review that very soon), Tiny Epic Galaxies, Roll for It, and Tiny Epic Kingdoms. I think Deep Sea Adventure was the most fun (great tension) with Tiny Epic Galaxies as the runner up (I love that game). But the whole night was lots of fun.

OK so now I need to find homes for these games on my already full shelves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cottage At Last

It has been too long. I've not stopped playing games, just haven't had much time for blogging. The last two semesters were brutal with new courses (grad level courses demand so much more from me) and growing class sizes in the undergrad courses I teach (so much more marking). Been taking a lot of me time to recover and starting to work on my honey-do list of home renovations. But the idea I have been toying with is doing video reviews, short video reviews, and gaming conversations. Last semester I ran my first true hybrid course, online with an in person intensive. The online portion included lots of short (less than 10 minutes) videos and blog-based (private) discussions. Worked great. Also was a great chance to do some video editing. We'll see, so far I've been hesitant to start because I know how much work it will entail.

So far at the cottage (this is the second year we've rented a cottage in Quebec) we've played lots of Takenoko, Dominion with the latest expansion (one of the best BTW!), Lanterns (including playtesting an expansion for the game), and Urbania. We are going to run the Fiasco Quest for the Golden Panda at some point today, I'm pretty excited about that.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review: Firefly: The Game by Aaron Dill, John Kolaleski, and Sean Sweigart

Firefly: The Game - Gale Force Nine

Holy mackerel this game has a lot of stuff! Our last outing in the verse used all off it! Two expansion boards, too many Reavers, close to a million cards (slight exaggeration) this game actually barely fit on the table. In fact I wouldn't recommend playing this on an inferior table, you need the space or you will lose track of things, like your ship upgrades, etc. I did find that with the latest expansion the game is now solidly in the Ameritrash gaming category - that isn't bad, I really enjoy the odd Ameritrash game, but it does mean I'll hesitate to bring it to the table because it inevitably means a late night of gaming.

The other thing this game has in spades is theme. I can't think of another Intellectual Property(IP) game that so captures the sense of the IP. Even if you don't do well in this game, you got to fly around the Verse doing jobs and watching your profits evaporate. Although this might be frustrating for the more competitive players, you can almost always find something worth doing even if it doesn't score you the big win. I should say that with every expansion in it was easier to have an unsatisfying pull of jobs though. This might be one game that I prefer to play with less than a full compliment of expansions - even though each expansion adds a good deal of fun to the game, just not all of them at once please.

Likes: Beautiful components, brilliant theme, enjoyable play even when you do not win. 

Dislikes: Too much stuff with all the expansions in, takes up a lot of table real estate.

Fun: When you enjoy yourself even when losing a game then you know the game is fun. 
Quality: The miniatures are big and beautiful (although a spot of glue would help them stay on their bases), the cards and cardboard is premium quality. Which is good because there is a lot of it. 
(re)Playability: The game could use a few more scenarios. The fact that it is a beast to set up (even just the basic game) and being a long playing game means this game hits the table less often. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dungeon World Encounter Decks

I am running a Kickstarter campaign for a companion product to the Dungeon World role playing game. If you are doing any sort of fantasy role playing you should consider backing this product. Dungeon World is about fiction first, so the cards give you flavour and can be adapted into any system. One of my backers was telling me that he plans to use the cards in his Numenera campaign as a way of quickly generating encounters and items.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: Dominion by Donald X Vaccarino

Dominion - Rio Grande Games

Dominion, including all of its many expansions, is probably the most played game in our house, and has been for years. This is the game that really set off the deck builder mechanic craze. It is such a simple mechanic too: use the coins in your hand to buy cards that give you more spending power or other game effects (like multiple buys or attacks that force your opponent to discard cards) or victory cards. The trick is knowing when to buy what - buy those victory cards too soon and you end up with a hand of green unable to act, effectively slowing down your progress. The game ends when the most valuable victory cards have been bought up (or any three piles of cards are depleted).

Although this game is so great, not all the expansions fit everybody. My oldest daughter does not like attack cards - for her she'd prefer a game of competitive solitaire. Also we have a few friends who don't like the more complicated (wordy) cards of the later sets - so they are happiest with games from the basic set and maybe some simpler cards thrown in. Personally I like them all, but I'm less enamored with some of the more vicious attack cards in the Intrigue expansion. Also it is pretty much the consensus among my friends that Alchemy is their least favourite expansion (even though I quite enjoy it). With all the options and well themed expansions Dominion is sure to remain a staple of our gaming for years to come.

One other thing worth noting, there are some great digital tools for helping you shuffle up a great selection of Dominion cards from all the expansions you own.

Likes: Tremendous replay value, easy to teach, complexity can scale to players abilities and preferences quite easily.

Dislikes: With all the expansions this is a beast to lug around.

Fun: This game is always fun, even when you get a combination of cards that makes for a painfully long game, winning is just all that more satisfying.
Quality: We use our game constantly, and the cards show it. We've also taken the game with us to conferences where new players are less kind to components. But I have to say that the cards have held up very well. Also the other components, like metal tokens, are of amazing quality. Kudos to Rio Grande for production value.
(re)Playability: Every game of Dominion is different! This is probably the biggest reason that we keep playing this game over and over.

EDIT: Right after posting this I found out about Dominion Adventures. Picked it up and we've taken it out for a spin. Right off the bat we were disappointed with the quality of the cards. They are thinner. Some of the new mechanics are great though, not sold on the events, but the variation on duration cards is quite fun. But I'm still not happy with the component quality.

EDIT: Since this time we picked up Dominion Empires. I think this the best expansion to date. Card quality is back to the original. Events have grown on me. The debt mechanic actually adds something that feels new to the game. Also I am able to get all of the cards into the base box and the alchemy box (no room for more though) and I have a smaller box for the rule books, player mats, and tokens. Much easier to lug around.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Super Motherload by Gavin Brown and Matt Tolman

Super Motherload[SIC] - Roxley Games

The ecofeminist in me hates that I love mining the heck out of Mars searching for a mother lode of minerals and fun! I'll live. Apparently there was a video game version of this, but I'm not much of a video gamer so I missed that. This game plays like a video game, but I mean that in a good way (not a 4th edition D&D way). Players take turns drilling and blasting their way through the mineral rich Martian planet, picking up awesome power-ups along the way and steadily improving their drilling team. The scrolling playing board just adds to the video game ambiance. This is Dig Dug for board gamers. The one daunting aspect of the game is that there is a lot to keep track of, so the game straddles that space between light gaming and serious strategy game - which actually works well with the theme. I discovered this game at the Geek Market (thanks Cardboard Kingdom!) and after a few plays it made my must buy list. Since I picked up a copy it hasn't made it to the collection room yet, just sits ready to play in a pile of favourites in my gaming room. I am in no hurry to find it a home on the shelves.

Likes: Rich theme, great strategy, great art. 

Dislikes: Box doesn't give you enough information to want to try the game (why is there no picture of the game on it?), 

Fun: There is something so satisfying to digging out the minerals, making that awesome combo move with the gem duplicator, and snagging the last fossil before your opponent does. This game is great fun.
Quality: All the components, from the box to the punch out pieces, are high quality. The game shipped with great plastic bags for organizing everything, nice touch.
(re)Playability: With double sided boards and four different work crews, the game offers lots of variety and replayability.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Dread by Epidiah Ravachol and woodelf

Dread - The Impossible Dream

I'm a huge fan of the horror genre in gaming. Call of Cthulhu is a staple. But one thing that is hard to do in a horror game is get a consistent sense of tension. Dread does this brilliantly. Using a Jenga® tower (or reasonable facsimile) every risky move carries a huge amount of tension, and this tension builds with every twist and turn in the story.

I've had a chance to not only play the game, but to run a few games. Using the 13 scenario as well as one I've developed myself (Madame LouLou's Haunted Wax Museum) I've sent a couple different groups on terror romps. When running 13 I was amazed at how much fun the group of teens playing the game had being brutally slaughtered.

The character is all narrative, you simply answer up to 13 questions about yourself (the character self you want to play). Based on these questions, read by you and the GM, you have the parameters for engagement and integration into the story experience. The last question is always, what is your name? This approach should give you a hint that this is not a statistics based system. It runs more like a scripted Fiasco.

The game is broken into several acts. Each act contains its own set of dangers (where the players need to make pulls on the tower) and clues that move the story along. While there is a happy ending possible, it is not likely to happen for the bulk of your players. But that is what makes this game charming. Each act has scenes, basically set-ups for little story happenings. For example one of the scenes in the Madame LouLou's involves a description of a room (enough to make them want to look around) and then an event that can happen which puts one or more of them at risk. The final act usually has some sort of showdown with lots of danger but also a possible resolution.

The one drawback to this system is that it eliminates players. When you topple the tower your character is eliminated from the game in some way. A good storyteller will find ways to keep them engaged in the story until the end (especially whoever dies first). But this requires imagination and confidence. The book though is a veritable smorgasbord of tips to help run a great game - definitely worth the purchase even if you just steal the ideas for other games.

Likes: Best horror role playing experience ever. 

Dislikes: There are a lot of ways an inexperienced GM could create a less than satisfying game experience, this is probably not the game for every group. 

Fun: This is story telling indie role playing at its finest. With the right group the game is hugely fun and satisfying.
Quality: The rulebook is excellent, the game itself is simple and contained on a four page cheat sheet downloadable from the Dread site, but the rulebook gives you 92 more pages of pure role playing gold.
(re)Playability: The scenarios are not easily replay-able. There are only four official scenarios available. I've found a few online so they are out there, but this means creating your own scenarios. Fortunately, this is not that difficult. It requires a bit of work though - I aim for three hour one-shot sessions which is basically three acts. I wrote the bulk of Madam LouLou's in a day, but a full day. This game is not really conducive to campaign play.