Random Games Day (07/06/14)

So this last Saturday myself and a few friends were set to meet for our “monthly” (In quotes because we’re literally terrible at arranging consistent dates) RP event. As one of the 5 of us was unable to attend, due ‘has-a-new-ish-girlfriend’ continuity rifts, we opted to meet anyway and play some board games.

Voluspa

First to arrive (Well, asides from Ken, who lives in the same house :P) was Chris A, and with us expecting Dave to be a while we went for a fairly quick game – Voluspa. This tile-laying game has players take turns to place tiles (From hands of 5), trying to play the highest in the row/column its’ part of to score them (e.g. adding a 7 to a 5-6-2-2 to make 7-5-6-2-2 would score 5 points). So far, so simple. Each tile (Except the 7/8 which just rely on being high numbers) has a special ability, such as ‘swap with a tile in play’ or ‘all adjacent tiles are worth 0’, and the way these interact are what make the game interesting and enjoyable.

As this was the first play for Chris A & Ken, I gave them the choice of whether we play with any expansion tiles (They aren’t complicated, but it does mean more stuff) which they opted not to, so we set things up to be the basic tiles and got into the game.

Things took a very interesting route on this occasion, as almost the entire outer edge of the layout got surrounded by Loki’s/Troll’s (Loki 0’s adjacent, and you can’t place adjacent to trolls), making it so there was extremely few places for valid placements around the middle of the game. Eventually things started to speed up again near the end, but it certainly leads to a tense few turns when you know that someone is going to have to take a bit of a sacrifice in playing a low-scoring tile that opens up stronger placements ^^.

While I was leading for most of the game, I got myself stuck with an awkward hand and had a couple of turns in a row where I had nothing that I could do other than block a 7 point opportunity from others or score 2 point rows, giving Ken & Chris A the opportunity to slip ahead. We finished close on scores, but Ken was the overall Winner!

Eldritch Horror

The next game we went for is one with a particularly similar theme to the Roleplaying game we might have been playing instead (Laundry Files btw, a sort of modern-day cthulhu setting) – Eldritch Horror. This fantastically epic game has players travelling across the planet in search of clues, as they fight off monsters, wrestle to close mystical gates and try not to die or go insane in the process. To win, players must solve 3 mysteries before the various lose conditions occur.

I recently picked up Forsaken Lore, the first expansion, which I’ve mixed into the game already (It’s basically a ton of extra cards for variety, rather than any deeper changes), so things looked to be interesting from the start. As the expansion triples the size of all the old-one decks, we eschewed the opportunity to fight the new addition of Yig in favour of going up against Azathoth, which I understand to be the ‘easist’ of the them to beat (Easiest to prevent from awakening I should say, as it’s instant loss if he does).

As Dave had arrived by this point, we now had 4 of us to play the game with. Chris A went the supportive route, with Charlie Kane as his investigator (Who excels at obtaining gear for all players), Ken went er…someone with spells, Dave was the character who can spawn clues when she doesn’t have any, and I was the ‘the expedition leader’ (I forget the actual name, but that’s the subtitle), who gets bonuses on wilderness spaces. The plan from the start was pretty much that Chris A gives us all awesome standard gear, Ken gets as many spells as possible, I get artifacts from expeditions and Dave gathers clues.

I don’t remember details, but I know we didn’t have too much trouble getting the first mystery completed, with most encounters causing minimal issues. As the game progressed however, Dave’s character seemed to become an omen of bad luck, becoming poisoned, cursed, nearly dying and just before the end going insane (I don’t blame the character after the life he’d been living, ^^).

I was able to get a rather ridiculous amount of ally assets and artifacts, such that beating monsters would give me clues, and not beating them would barely hurt me (But I was unable to really get anywhere this was useful, as there wasn’t any conveniently huge stack of monsters for me to slaughter with my lightning gun, magic sword, requiem per shuggay, flute of the outer gods…etc (The latter which auto-kills, although that wouldn’t give me the combat rewards such as clues).

Ken’s character did indeed pick up a good number of spells, and Chris A did do a great job of dealing out equipment to the group. Unfortunately many of the spells which can provide ongoing bonuses (Such as buffing stats) were found later in the game when there wasn’t time to use them effectively, and an unfortunate series of events that had 3 eldritch tokens on the green comet of the omen track (Making it advance doom, i.e. the main ‘advancement towards death’ track, by 4 times as much as normal) left us in a dire situation.

We battled on, and right as the doom track hit 0 (Well, -4, as it went down by 5 in one go) solved the second Mystery. That might not seem close at a glance, until you realize the 3rd, and final to win mystery, just required one character to give up 4 clues and the requiem per shuggay to solve – At that time my character had 3 clues and the requiem, making it almost certain that one more turn would have won us the game, ack! Anyway, glory to Azathoth, may he let me live another day… (Not likely seeing as he’s not the kind of elder-god thing to actually care about humans…not that any of the others do either ^^).

Space Cadets

For the final game before everyone would likely have to leave, I suggested Space Cadets: Dice Duel, which I recently picked up at the UK Games Expo. Ken seemed rather vehemently against the team-competitive idea, so I also suggested the original Space Cadets which I’ve only placed once before also. I think we had a third option suggested but whatever it was I know I didn’t fancy it, and we eventually settled on the original Space Cadets plan.

Space Cadets is a real-time rounded space game where players trying to complete missions by flying the ship and shooting down enemies. Each ‘station’ has various mini-games to make them happen (Such as tetris-style matching of tiles to load missies, or choosing from a limited set of movement cards for helm), which with the short 30-second timer of rounds lead to hectic attempts to do well and many amusing mistakes.

Setup and learning how to play took a while, as while I’ve played the game before, and while all the individual roles are relatively simple, bringing it all together is a heavy task. We chose roles and all read up on what we needed to do, set up one of the tutorial/training missions and went in with partial-blindless as to what to expect ^^.

The valiant crew of our starship consisted of Dave S on Shields and Sensors, Chris A on Weapons and Damage Control, Myself on Helm and Jump and finally our glorious Captain Ken, who also ran the engineering department. Our mission, to boldly go barely outside our own star system and take out a pitiful number of enemy ships, hopefully not dying horrifically in the process…I mean…yeah.

First up we had an easy ship to deal with. Brimming with confidence as we started, I went for rull ramming speed (There’s not actual ramming in the game, sadly) at the first foe, while shields put up a weak defense and we successfully locked on, loading torpedoes and….missed at near melee range, twice. Fortunatey the enemy ship was equally useless, with its’ first attack bouncing harmlessly off our shields. We were able to despatch it not much later…taking only a little damage and totally not because I left our ships starboard unshielded side to the enemy..

Moving onto our next target we’d all become a little more comfortable with our roles, although further damage led to another role switch (The starboard damage switch Dave/Chris A) only a short while after the first. This enemy had a fair bit more health and was tougher to take on, with us taking damage to a number of stations in the process, most of which we fixed in short order (Except jump, as we weren’t actually supposed to be using it for the tutorial mission so we figured we’d leave it till later ^^).

As we went to fight the final, hard enemy ship (Or maybe near the end of the 2nd) we took a ton of damage to the front and had our first core-breach. When this happens players gain an additional mini-game of matching shapes which they have to deal with during the other real-time work they have to do. Fortunately both this and a subsequent core breah we took were dealt with relatively easily, and we got a big hit on the enemy ship just before we had another role-switch pushed upon us (This time me & Chris A swapped). Thanks to heroic-level loading of missiles and a maximum damage hit (Oh btw…hitting with missiles required flicking a disc up a track, and it has to stay on to actually hit) on my behalf (Omg I did something competant, something that I had totally not been achieving as helm the last few rounds..ahem).

With the last ship blown up, we set ourselves up for jumping out of the sector (Again, we didn’t need to, but it seemed like a fun thing to do at the end of the mission). 5-5-3-3-1 got rolled, so we flipped the two fives to 2-2-3-3-1, increases the 1 to a 2 and reduced the 2 3’s to a 1 using the jump-cards we’d gained over the game (Essentially you build up the cards over a game, which are things like ‘Roll >23 and you gain a once-use ability to reduce the value of two dice by 1’, such that eventually you can use the gained abilities to make 5 of a kind, which powers up the drive and jumps the ship! Huzzah!

It was a fantastic day, and I’m so glad that we got together for board games after skipping the RP plans. It was a lot of fun playing everything, particularly space cadets which I’ve been worried won’t come to the table much (Real-time games aren’t exactly my core-preference, but the Space-Cadets series caught my attention thanks to Artemis, which is a sort of video-game version of the same thing that we’ve played). Hopefully the others had enough fun to play again sometime, perhaps for an ‘incompetant space-persons’ night where we’d play Galaxy Trucker, Space Cadets & then an extended Artemis session ^^.

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