Monthly Archives: September 2013

Random Musings #1

Oops, so much for Friday/Monday posting, I’ve been a bit distracted with the whole looking for a job thing, and completely forgot about this! I’ll have to do a couple of random posts to make it up =)

I’m not really sure where to go from here, so I’ll just start with writing about the games I mentioned in my last post and see where things go!

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

I got the pathfinder adventure card game last week, and have played it rather a lot since! In fact me and my housemate Ken have completed the starter adventure ‘Perils of the Lost Coast’ and the start of the RoTR adventure path ‘Burnt Offerings’ already, leaving me wanting the rest of the adventure path as soon as possible!

In the game, you have a deck of cards representing your character, which contains spells, armour, weapons, items and more. The deck is quite small (at least at first) with 15 cards. For the main character I’m using – Ezren – that means 8 Spells, 1 Weapon, 3 Allies and 3 Items. Throughout the game, you travel to and explore various locations, bringing up opportunities to get new stuff (cards) and fight enemies, hoping to weed out and corner the ‘villain’ for a particular scenario. When you use cards, you sometimes get an opportunity to ‘recharge’ them to put them at the bottom of your deck to pick up later.

Did I mention that deck is also your health bar? Well, it is, and damage taken in the game will cut down your deck, reducing your capabilities and leaving you fatigued from fighting. I love this mechanic, as you have to really think about how to handle what comes up and when you can use cards (Place them in the discard pile), as that will limit your further options for the scenario!

At the end of each scenario, you receive a reward of some kind and move onto the next scenario in an adventure. Those rewards are often cards or ‘feats’ that affect your character for all future games. I absolutely love this aspect, and it has me feeling somewhat attached to my wizard and wanting to progress him to new heights as we continue with the adventures.

It’s an absolutely awesome game, and my ramblings about it don’t do it justice, despite it’s numerous..issues (There’s a lot of errata already due to unclear wording!). Absolutely looking forward to buying all the adventures as they come out and travelling through them, despite the fear of death that will accompany us throughout! (Characters dying is usually for good, no reviving them for the next game!). Just..brilliant.

Smash Up: Obligatory Cthulhu Set

I’ve not really played this much, but me and 2 housemates had a go on Monday night. I love the addition of madness, and manipulating it as you play is great fun, and the new factions are pretty damned cool and further making me interested in the lovecraftian universe. I played as the Miskatonic University Steampunks society and had a lot of fun adding and removing madness from my deck while spamming actions all over the place (Steampunks are possibly my favorite faction, covering bases everywhere in actions is awesome!).

I didn’t win, but I think the new factions will be adding a lot to the game, and it may well have to be a rule that each player gets 1 cthulhu faction and 1 other for the next few games, just so we get to have lots of madness shenanigans. Can’t wait to try out the elder things faction next time!

LoL Worlds

What, this doesn’t belong here. Well tough! The World Championships for League of Legends are happening at the moment, and the quarter finals have been on for the last couple of days. I don’t usually card much about this kind of thing, but I have a lot of friends who do and I’m trying to follow it to some extent.

We’re all going to meet up for the finals, which I am really looking forward to. I don’t get to see all my friends from Uni very often, and I can’t wait for this as a result. I guess I have to admit a bit more appreciation for sports than I usually do, because having it as something to bring people together is a valiant cause, even if normal sports are wholly uninteresting to me ^^

Go Fanatic! ;)

I’ll leave it at that for now. I have a few more things to bring up (Planned custom content for pathfinder for example, which is going to take a long while) but they can wait for another post. Thanks for reading!

PS: I think I’ll start applying numbers to posts as naming them all completely differently will get confusing!

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Pathfinder, Smash Up and Job-Hunting.

So I don’t know where to go with todays post, but to start with, I can say I just received a lovely delivery from Amazon. briefly mention job stuff, then talk about what’s in that delivery!

Come Thursday, I’ll be out of a job, as I’m in a fixed term contract while another member of the company is on maternity leave. As a result I don’t think I’ll have money for buying new…anything for a while, and will be spending a lot of time job-hunting. I’ve had the deliveries games pre-ordered for a while or I’d have not bought them, but at least they’ll be a comfort while I pull my hair out over job applications in the next few days/weeks!

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

I’ve not been in a lot of roleplaying games, but I did a few with my closest friends about a year ago, and even bought myself some books in the pathfinder system so I could run games in return for them. I bought a random adventure to start with, which is the one I’ve actually ran, and then bought the Rise of the Runelords anniversary edition, intending to run a full campaign sometime, which so far hasn’t happened after I stopped attending due to not being a fan of a particular game my friend was running (Hunter).

Anyway, as a result I’m really interested to see how the Rise of the Runelords path plays out, and I have this amazing opportunity to do so through a medium I much prefer – board games. The base set for the pathfinder adventure card game is this very path, and I can’t wait to rip open the absolutely massive box when I get home and try it out. The game is designed with a slow overarching deck-refining mechanic where you earn cards during each game, and get to keep some of them for future games, slowly increasing your power as you go.

I really love being able to keep a character and advance it over an extended period, and this opportunity to do so in a card game has huge appeal for me. The game has a couple of other interesting mechanisms, such as a deck that acts as your abilities and your health (So you must strike a balance to not fatigue yourself too much, or risk dying to anything left after your rampage).

The game apparently supports solo play which could be interesting, although I usually prefer multiplayer gaming, but I look forward to seeing how it goes. Can’t wait to try it out, and hopefully talk about it in a future post! (Maybe Friday!)

Smash Up: Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion

As it’s a requirement that all games get a Cthulhu expansion, AEG have taken some time out from doing normal expansions to fulfill their obligations. I wasn’t expecting this to get dispatched for another month, so I was happy to find the delivery containing the PACG also had this little box included.

The expansion adds 4 new factions from the universe, such as Innsmouthians and Miskatonic University, and a new type of card – madness. I’ve not played with it yet to see how it goes, but the just is that they are cards you might get into your deck during a game that have strong benefits, at the cost of giving negatives to your score at the end of the game. I’ve been rather skeptical due to the 4 similarly themed factions (It feels like it’s completely against the Smash Up style!) but I do think it’s a pretty cool mechanic, and one that required a dedicated expansion to not risk spiraling into non-use.

I’ve not played Smash Up in a while (Blame Legendary), and can’t wait to try it out with a breath of new life from this and it’s future expansions, Miskatonic Steam-punks shall rule the world ;)

Till next time!

Link

So I don’t know what to post about today, so I figure the first thing that comes to mind is a great idea. As it happens I just glanced at the kickstarter page for 404 to see how it was doing, so that’s becoming the target of this post!

Best of luck to 3DTotalGames!

Kicktraq Chart for 404: Law Not Found

As I’m posting this, the project is sitting at £7.818, a not-insignificant amount of money! That’s nearly 80% and the project was posted on Monday. After hitting £5,000 on day one, things are settling into a slow but steady rise in pledges.

I’ve gotten remarkably far without staying anything about the game, so lets get that sorted. In 404, players are controlling robots on a spaceship who have been fitted with some shiny new chips to upgrade them to be better at their jobs. Unexpectedly, after receiving these new chips the robots have found their 3 laws missing, with 3 scrambled directives in their place, robots like to obey their directives and will try their best to made do!

The objective in the game is to fulfill your 3 directives before the other robots, before the ship completes its mission. These can be a wide variety of things, from ‘Explore Breathing’ to ‘Improvise Science’. These are achieved in amusing ways, for example to explore breathing, you need a human to finish it’s turn in space alive, which will require a spacesuit, things may not go your way though, so you may end up killing the human and needing to explore further!

As I touched on earlier, the game takes place in a spaceship. On a turn, players receive a hand of cards, which are essentially programs they can run to perform tasks, such as move, activate item, pick something up, etc. You choose 3 of these and then everyone carries them out simultaneously, taking everyone closer to their objectives, or haphazardly wrecking everyone’s plans with your attempts.

Alien Artifact = Awesome

A part of the spaceship and cards for the rooms.

There are also some autonomous agents on the ship – Humans, and a monkey – who follow a simple flow chart to perform actions, such as loading missiles…or fellow humans, to fire at enemy ships which might attack during the game. The monkey of course won’t do anything so potentially useful, and will run around the ship in search of banana’s instead!

Lastly of importance, are items, which are in the form of tokens in stacks around the ship. These can be things like spacesuits, tools or an ever important banana, and include humans (dead or alive!) as far as carrying them around is concerned, although pesky living ones will try to escape, so you might want to fix that.

All in all, I think it sounds like a hilarious game and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I did get the opportunity to play-test it a while ago, but having missed a lot of the rules and it being an early version, I didn’t really get much from the experience, other than to see how much potential it has.

On top of all of that awesomeness, is the extremely attractive pledge levels. It only costs £28 to pick up a copy of 404, with free shipping to the US and EU, and a within reason £15 ask for elsewhere. Not something I find it easy to say no to!

So to finish up, go take a look, pledge for 404, and have fun gaming!

404: Law Not Found

Custom Board Game Stuff #2 – Legendary

Lets take a look at another custom things project! One of the 3 games I mentioned that I’ve made some custom stuff for is for a contest, so I won’t be posting about that until the results to that go up, although I really want to, but there’s still one I can talk about!

Legendary

Recently, this has jumped far into the lead as my most frequently played game. It’s a deck-building game where the players control a group of super heroes fighting off an mastermind, who’s trying to complete some kind of evil scheme. The game is based off the Marvel universe, as as a result holds high appeal to myself and to pretty much all of my friends, which is partly why it gets played so much!

In the game, players recruit heroes from a set of 5 in each game, which each have unique skills and abilities, such as taking wounds to deal massive damage (Hulk), or getting rid of them to draw cards (Wolverine). The bad guys in the game are sorted into various groups, which are of two types – villains and henchmen. These all get shuffled into a deck, with some bystanders and general effect cards (Master Strikes, Scheme Twists), one of which is drawn at the start of each players turn.

The way that bits of this game are split up made it a really attractive pull for me in terms of customizing. The biggest groups of cards are heroes, and even those are 14 cards, in just 4 types. The things there are to play with in the game:

  • Heroes. Each hero has 14 cards, which is made up of 2 Commons (5 cards each), an Uncommon (3 cards) and a Rare (1 card). The cheaper cards tend to be something of ‘enablers’ to held activate or empower the uncommons and rares for a hero. This might mean for example that they help you rescue bystanders, with an uncommon that gains power for each bystander saved.
  • Masterminds. Each mastermind has 5 cards, 1 is the mastermind itself, and 4 are ‘tactics’. The mastermind card tells you certain information for set up, and has a ‘master strike’ effect, that occurs when one of 5 master strike cards in the villain deck are drawn. The tactics cards each have an effect which occurs when you fight the mastermind, sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
  • Villains. Villain decks are 8 cards, which I ‘think’ have 4 different named cards in each. They can have an ambush (When drawn), fight (When fought) and escape (If they reach the end of the city track) effect, though not necessarily all or any of those.
  • Henchmen. Henchmen decks have 10 cards, all of which are identical, after all they are meant to be nameless minions. They are quite weak, and more often than not have a beneficial effect when defeated.
  • Scheme. Each game you choose a scheme for the mastermind. This has a major effect on each game, such as turning heroes into villains, destroying city spaces, doling out wounds, and more. Each scheme has a criteria under which evil is victorious, which you should probably beat the mastermind before that happens! They use the Scheme Twist cards, (usually 8, but can be less, or up to 11) which normally go into the villain deck to affect the game when drawn.

There”s a few other types – bystanders, officers and wounds, but they are less customizable (Well, maybe bystanders, but I’ll leave them for now!) due to having a more passive role in the game.

That’s a lot of things! At first it seems pretty daunting, but it’s very easy to focus on a small aspect of them. I’m tackling a few at once, because I want to make my custom addition to the game fit a particular storyline. In particular, those depicted in ‘Captain Britain and MI13’, which had a short run a few years ago, and is a semi-sequel to Excalibur, apparently, I’ve not read it to really know! I bought the comics after finding out that there’s a hero called ‘Captain Midlands’ in them from a magazine, something that I, being from the Midlands, just had to read…I can’t imagine someone from here being a hero at all ^^.

So I have a setting, now I just need to pick bits from it to work on. I wrote myself a list first of all the key things I wanted to do, although I don’t have any particular intention of a stopping point for all this, in fact I may read Excalibur when i run out of things to add just to keep it up! Lets have a look what I’m working on.

  • Heroes – My current list of heroes added from the series consists of the Black Knight, Captain Britain, Captain Midlands, Faiza Hussain, Pete Wisdom, Spitfire and Union Jack.
  • Mastermind – Just the one so far, Plokta, a duke of hell. His name just comes form ‘Press Lots of Keys to Abort’, although for what reason i can’t imagine, but I do find it amusing!
  • Scheme – 2 Schemes to start with, ‘Dream Corridor’ is from the same storyline as Plokta, and ‘Steal Britain’s Magic’ is another key one, which takes part during the Secret Invasion storyline in the Marvel universe, with the invading Skrulls attempting to steal our sources of magical power.
  • Henchmen – In the comic, plokta is trying to capture people in his dream corridor to drain their energies, which he uses to make Mindless Ones, they seemed pretty hilariously easy to beat though, despite attempts to make them sound like terrible enemies in the text, so I made them henchmen for now! I guess they are as strong as the source which makes them, which is in it’s early stages in the books.

I’m having an absolute ton of fun designing all of this lot, and now that I have my methods for getting the graphics done, I’m looking forward to testing it all out and making sure it’s balanced. Some of that can be done just from looking at the cards, and I posted up what I was doing early over on boardgamegeek to get feedback before I go about printing things off and taking it further. I’m not completely sure if that was the right thing to do, as some people don’t seem overly impressed as seeing unfinished ideas posted up, but that’s just how I prefer to do things ^^

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1029863/ss-customs-captain-britain-and-mi13-wip

If you’ve played Legendary, you’ll realise from the pictures that I haven’t kept the exact same style. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I simply couldn’t find anything high enough resolution to look good, and I didn’t want both the borders AND the background images to look terrible, so I went about coming up with my own. There’s nothing much to them, as I kept the same general style as the standard ones, but the pictures are fairly high resolution ones I found of the Captain Britain and MI13 comics, so they look pretty cool anyway (At least in my opinion!), plus it makes my work that bit more unique, which I quite like (I really loved that doing the Smash Up customs, all the styling was unique for each faction, so there was no feeling of being carbon-copies of the base game!).

Next step will be printing off on paper or card, and playing a game where my deck gets sleeved up as I play. Hopefully it’ll turn out to be fun as is, and if not, balancing time. When i can get them to something satisfactory (Not necessarily perfect) then I’ll be sending off an order to PrinterStudio to get some more sturdy cards to play with, and they’ll be added to the box with everything else, I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading! It’s ever so fun to write all this stuff, and seeing that I have a reader count higher than 0 is just awesome!

Custom Board Game Stuff #1 – Smash Up

So I find myself wanting to write something about the various custom content I’ve made for the board games I own. There’s 3 of my games that have received this kind of attention – Smash Up, Legendary and Viticulture. I’ll go through the first of those now, and perhaps post about the others later.

Smash Up

One of the games that I’ve played the most in my collection is Smash Up. It’s a fairly simply card game, where each player takes 2 factions of a variety of themes which they shuffle together to make their play deck for a game. Each faction has a unique focus, for example zombies retrieve cards from their discard pile, wizards manipulate their deck and aliens beam things up! Players then take turns playing a minion and an action each turn, to try and capture a set of bases laid out on the table.

The nature of the game makes it extremely attractive towards having variants made for it. Each faction consists of 20 cards, in a roughly 10 minion/10 action split, and most cards have a few copies. As a result, when I came up with the idea of trying to make some kind of custom game/content for my girlfriend for her birthday, this took the lead in my attentions.

I had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was what factions I was going to add. I could have gone for something similar to the base game, somewhat open thematic ideas like pirates/ghosts/etc, but a far more fun idea was to base it on more specific things, TV Shows, Films and the Like.

  1. Batman – With my girlfriend being the target, this was an obvious choice. It’s a particularly awesome universe, and many of the characters are styled in a way that she loves, it just had to go on.
  2. Red Dwarf – I don’t even need to argue this, Red Dwarf is just an absolutely awesome example of British comedy at it’s best. I love the series and still hope for more, even if it’s impossible for them to live up to the stellar standard of the earlier series’.
  3. Doctor Who – While she’s less than enamored with Doctor Who, she does like the series somewhat and it’s so varied and exciting to me personally that I wanted it to make an appearance.
  4. Adventure Time – I never seem to want to watch Adventure Time on my own, but I do enjoy watching it with others, it’s a rather insane series vaguely targeted at children which was bought up a few times, and just felt right as an option that my girlfriend would love.

So I found some free time and set to work on thinking what the cards would do. Rather than stick to an overlying mechanic for each deck, I decided on which characters and props to include first, and worked from there. The Scutters for example, reduce a bases breakpoint, while Candy Kingdom people are low power, with a boost when they get surprised, or when Princess Bubblegum is around to motivate them.

To actually make the cards, rather than try to hack together some cut and paste of my own, I opted to make use of a proper service for printing cards. I did some research, and found both artscow and printer studio as options, with the latter working out cheaper if I did enough cards (236), I only needed 88 for this project, so I found a quarriors harry-potter card set and got those printed too (I haven’t used them though, sadly!). Here are the results!

Smash Up custom cards

Smash Up custom cards

If you’d like to see some more detail on the cards, I have them posted up on boardgamegeek where you can see them and print them yourself if you wish right here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1004996/4-custom-factions-for-smash-up-adventure-time-ba

Enjoy!

 

Back it for a Buck #1

Back it For a Buck
This month, I’m taking part in a community challenge to back 10 games for $1 each. The goal of the challenge is to show support for the designers and publishers that are pumping time and effort into getting awesome new games to the gamers via kickstarter. Supporting the challenge is of course a $10 commitment, but one that I think is worth it, and may well try to keep up in the coming months.

Link: http://todayinboardgames.com/b4b-challenge/
BGG Thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1029757/the-back-it-for-a-buck-b4b-challenge/

So far I’ve backed half of my 10 games, and instead of waiting until I’ve found all 10, I’m going to post half now, and the other half later. Without further ado:

1. Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis.
A deck-building exploration game in a steampunk/lovecraftian setting, sounds like my kind of thing. Incredible Expeditions boasts a variety of play styles (Comptetitive, Cooperative and Single-Player) to explore and battle your way to victory.

2. Burning Suns
A tactical science fiction game where you vie for supremeacy over the universe through technology, diplomacy, exploitation and destruction. This is a pretty cool looking game with some nice miniatures which happens to be a UK project, something which funnily enough, tends to grab my attention, if only because you almost certainly know it’ll have reasonable shipping if I was to do a full pledge!

3. Battle Merchants
I wasn’t too sold on this project on it’s first launch, but since then I’ve traded for and played Manhattan Project, another game kickstarted and supported by minion games. That’s something which has given me a lot of confidence in them, and to be honest I wanted to help them get another game out there. It’s an economic game in a fantasy world where players are selling weapons to the warring races, not the most pleasant of themes, despite how fancied up it is, but that’s not why I backed it ^^

4. Cubist
A dice-building game, in a completely different sense to quarriors. In this, players literally use their dice to build towers, obeying matching rules as they go to try and make structures given on goal cards. This looks pretty cool and I think is worth my $2 (They should be ashamed of that minimum level) just for going outside the norm.

5. 404: Law Not Found
A game about robots who thanks to a glitch, have had their 3 laws overwritten with some rather ridiculous replacements. This is the game I’m most excited about this month. Partly because it’s a reasonably cool little game, and partly because I know the designer, and have been following his posts about it on boardgamegeek, his blog and facebook up till the launch. He’s passionate about the project and has put a lot of time and effort into making it a great game, and I really hope it succeeds. I’ll probably end up picking up a copy, not because it’s a friend, but because I think the game he’s created is worth what he’s asking for it, and that’s something I hope everyone who views the kickstarters agrees with.

That’s all for now! Hopefully I can find 5 equally awesome or better projects over the rest of the month! Kickstarter is awesome!

My Life and Gaming

Edit: This is a soppy-ness warning. A friend let me know this is a pretty pitiful post, so feel free to ignore it and read the more interesting posts following it! ^^

I’m going to start this blog off, with a picture of my board games collection. The reason for this is that I don’t really know what to post on a blog, and the only thing that comes to mind is to write something about myself.

I’ve always played games, ever since I was small. Traditional Board Games when I was small, monopoly, scrabble, cluedo and the like, those games that everybody plays, but I never really enjoyed playing them (Well, maybe scrabble). My enjoyment of games came with video games, since my older brother got a PS1 I have always loved them, and since I got my first PC even more.

Crash Bandicoot numbered among the earlier games I’ve played, and it still reflects today, where platform games are among my favourite genre’s, despite being sadly neglected in modern consoles. Since then memorable games for me in the earlier years of my gaming have been Quake 3, Jak & Daxter, Counter Strike, Ratchet and Clank, Battlefield 2142, Hydro Thunder, XGIII and Burnout (Wow, I never considered how many racing games I used to like). FPS games held my desires for a long time, but a few years ago got replaced by World of Warcraft.

It’s funny, how I feel ashamed in many ways to say that WoW was a big part of my life, but it was something I needed, an escape from the world. I didn’t much enjoy my last few years of school, and timetables left me never seeing much of my friends at college, so I immersed myself in the game world. In the real world I went to college, ate, and come home, in WoW I was a user of the magic arts, I was something more. I don’t even think I care how pitiful that sounds, I needed it at that time in my life.

Come University, I gave it up. It wasn’t that I got bored of the game, or didn’t want to play, it was that I was going to a completely new place, and I had a perfect opportunity to start afresh, to make new friends instead of feeling like a misfit. It was a great choice, and I instead occupied my time with friends, with the game of choice being Team Fortress 2, where we could run around in a manic scenario having fun together. That lasted a long while, until a friend convinced us to try out League of Legends, a game which I still love today.

Our last year at University had LoL at the game of choice when meeting up with friends for games. I tended to organise LAN parties occasionally through all of University, as well as the Computer Science events, so it just a switch from TF2 to LoL at those times. We’re all fairly good at the game now, and playing 5-man teams in ranked games is amazing fun, even if we aren’t exactly top-level players (Besides, casually playing is more fun).

Also in that final year of University I joined my friends in doing some roleplaying games. It’s such an amazing thing to just sit around a room with friends and immerse yourselves in something else, while still being highly social. The fact that noone overly serious about it and takes things in a casual light was just perfect. I stopped attending much around when I started playing board games, as I just didn’t find time, but I hope to attend one again, particularly now I have one of my mates that does it living in a house with me!

Don’t worry, it’s on to board games now. Last year, Wil Wheatons tabletop series started airing on youtube. A friend showed me the first one, (Small World) and I kind of impulse bought it…and it’s sequel, and tried to convince everyone to play all the time. I had a lot of fun playing that, and wanted to try other games, so I went along to the UoB tabletop society with a couple of friends of mine to try other games. Since then I almost feel like doing so opened up a whole new chapter in my life, as I had enough fun that I booked off more Friday afternoons than not to attend the society and play board games with people. I even met Grace, now my wonderfully awesome girlfriend, at the society – I didn’t even notice I was attracted to her for a while, I just loved spending time with her and to be honest, probably stayed more to spend time with Grace than to play board games.

I took to buying a lot more board games now that I came across more, via both Wil Wheatons series and the societies games. I discovered boardgamegeek and signed up in January, although I didn’t post for a while after that, to find out about more games. My collection has increased substantially from just Small World, so I now have some 40 games, and more on their way from kickstarter this year. I love playing them all, it gives me opportunities to be social where before I’d have sat in my room, and while I still love playing league of legends with friends, that has nothing on sitting to a table with them and enjoying a physical medium.

So, below you have my collection of board games as it stands. Some of the RP books are mine but most of them are my housemate Kens. I’m so happy to have them, as they really are a bright spark in my life and have made me a much happier person in general, so I think they will be getting shown off frequently in this blog.

Long. Live. Tabletop Games!

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