Monthly Archives: September 2014

Halesowen Games Day #2

I’ve just finished writing up last wednesdays games night too…but seeing as this post is crazy long already I’ll post it separately ^^.

On the 20th September, the halesowen board gamers group I attend held an all (Well, most of the) day event in the usual venue. Which of course I was more than happy to head along to!

That wasn’t the first games-related thing I did with the day though. The 4th edition of Space Hulk, for which pre-orders ran dry in all of half a day, was released to stores on that day. Unfortunately it was out of my ‘available money’ range, but a friend wanted it who’d missed on the pre-order, and I offerred to pick it up (It just gets so much ‘omg that’s my grail game’ on bgg I really want to try it!).

I was able to snag the only available copy (Well, they had 8 but 7 were tied to pre-orders!), so headed to Chris’ for a bit to open it up ahead of going to halesowen. I have to say, the components for that thing are absolutely beautiful, with super thick tiles/tokens and embossed artwork, very cool! As the models had to be put together and I was late already for halesowen, I headed on my way, but I am so looking forward to giving it a shot sometime ^^.

On arrival, everyone was unsurprisingly already in games. To accomodate people like myself turning up off-schedule there was some short games happening, and I soon got in on a table where we broke out Hanabi, which I’d brought along.


If you don’t know Hanabi, then tough, as its’ really hard to explain in text! To give a general idea, its’ a cooperative deduction card game where players are trying to pull off a successful firework display by playing 5 colours of cards in successive values to try and hit 17 or more. Oh, and you hold your hand facing away, so you have no idea what you have unless someone gives you information, which is rather limited!

Considering we had a new player (Or 2, I forget), it went really smoothly, and after a slow start on playing the 1’s we got a pretty good score of 20 points. We were playing with the ‘bonus round’ variant I tend to teach (You carry on playing when the deck runs out, but may no longer give clues), and that went better than the last couple times too. (It can be a bit slow and painful if people struggle with the deduction aspect (You can work out your exact hand at the end as all cards except yours are visible).

To follow up, Mike suggested Bohnanza, sticking to the ‘short games so that latecomers can easily jump in’ theme.


Bohnanza is another game with odd ‘your hand of cards’ rules. In Bohnanza, you are not permitted to rearrange your hand of cards. You always play from one end, and draw into the other. The objective is to gain coins, which you do by planting lots of the same crop in one of your two fields. There’s a catch though. At the start of each turn you must plant the first card in your hand, and if you ever try to plant a type of bean not already in a field, you must rip up one of your fields to make space (Which might score it, but might not, or might get you less points than if you could keep it one more round).

Well, that all sounds very random and not much fun, but wait! The thing that makes this game fun is that on a players turn, all other players can trade with them. 2 cards go face-up on the table to choose from, and other players can either trade for those or cards in your hand (Anywhere in your hand!) so you can remove the nasty things that will ruin a big combo by giving it to someone else…but potentially helping them too much in the process. This is fantastic, as it forces cooperation if you want to win, but makes it really hard to make trades as you don’t want to give someone too many nice things!

This was my, I think, 3rd time playing the game, and having only had my standard 2 fields and getting screwed a bit by it before went straight for a third. (You can buy a 3rd field for 2 coins, but as coins are points, its’ a risk). This turned out to pay off as I got a hold of a cocoa bean, which are the smallest in quantity but best scoring (With 2 fields they’re a poor gamble, as you’re likely to get forced into ripping them up before they achieve anything, but I got to just sit on it half the game).

I’m not sure what else to say. Scores fluctuated a lot over the game, and while everyone seemed to think I was winning, the scores were actually extremely close. When it came to it, Myself and Mike had a tie situation, but unfortunately the tiebreak being most cards in hand gave it to Mike. 2 Players were at 14 (Mark/Player-4) and Player-5 at an unfortunate 12.

This Town Aint Big Enough

This is a tiny little game I picked up via kickstarter, which cost me a sum total of £ 2 ($3) (Well, £ 16 ($24), I got 8 copies ^^). It’s a tile laying game, with 25 tiles, and the simple objective of ‘most victory points’ to win. When a ‘corral’ is completed by being fenced in, it locks in place and in order of which players colour has most corrals to least, players score points equal to the next lowest number of corrals (E.g. Blue has 3, Red has 2 & Green has 2, so Blue scores 2, red/green score 0!)

It’s pretty fast playing and we slipped it in while we were waiting for food that we’d ordered. I think everyone had fun (More than you might expect for £2 of game), and myself and Mike tied again…and he won the tiebreaker, again. Twice in a row!

Dead of Winter

For the next game, we had a few of us (Myself, Gordon, Mike, Steve) looking to choose a game, and as Gordon made a comment about how he should get out of his euro-comfort zone more often, I suggested Dead of Winter, which is quite ameritrash but with more decisions than most games I’ve played in the genre.

I’m sure I’ve talked about how Dead of Winter works fairly recently, so I’ll save you the explanation ^^. On Saturday we played a scenario (I forget the name) which er…Actually I didn’t like from the moment I read it. The first bit was ok, to win we needed to have no more than 3 zombies across all non-colony locations. The second bit though, was that if we exiled a player, they get removed from the game, instead of just being exiled like usual. Great…player elimination, the most “fun” mechanic ever.

The first few rounds we didn’t achieve too much, mostly just holding on while trying to gather guns and equipment to help us clear the hordes safely, while managing our food and crisis requirements on the side. I got myself a bit stuck by sending myself to the grocery store for food, which didn’t help the objective but at least kept us fed!

A bit further in, I decided to move for my secret objective. I needed a couple of books to attach to a survivor, so I opted to move to the library. So, I moved my character, aaaand then I got bitten, dead character one! Well, I still had 2 survivors and still wanted to complete my secret objective, so I moved another one…and got bitten again. I suspect there was a large group of zombies moving by the library, so my third survivor didn’t repeat the mistake!

Mike was kind enough to pass me an extra survivor to bring me back to 2, and to help the colony I used the opportunity to get a character into the library. A turn after that I picked up another survivor from an outsider card I got myself, and sacrificed Mike’s surviver-gift to gain a morale (Because y’know, noone liked the Mall Santa so removing him gains morale ^^).

In the last couple of rounds we played, we made great strides towards clearing up the town, killing swathes of zombies and barricading the locations back up for safety. We got to the right number of remaining zombies (Aside from needing to roll a couple noise tokens which may/may-not have screwed us anyway) aaand Steve threw all his survivors at a location so that half of them died, dropped morale to 0, ended the game and gave him the win.

So when I said at the start that I didn’t think I’d like this scenario? I was right. Now, admittedly Steve kept himself well hidden, only screwing a crisis near the end and revealing on the very last turn, but also the scenario had made it so I didn’t want to exile even if I could, I just have no desire to eliminate players. Furthermore, although he killed the game in one turn, he had a double-turn to come too and could have really screwed things up even if we were doing far better on morale.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m just bitter about losing, but…what the hell plaid hat, why does that mission exist in the slew of fun ones =-(.

As an aside, I’m thinking of doing a slight houserule next game. 1st player will rotate clockwise, and each round the first player gets an extra turn at the end. It means someone gets 2 turns to potentially betray the group, but they’re spread out, and if they’re obvious at the start of the round then they could be exiled before their second turn. It’ll also make the game easier as we’ll get an extra turn/round, so might reduce the starting morale to compensate. Will have to see how it goes ^^.


I think everyone’s probably familiar with Carcassonne that’s reading this. If not, its’ a tile-laying game where you draw and place 1 tile each turn, then may place a meeple on one of the 4 features on the tiles, which when they ‘complete’ return the meeple and score points. Whoever gets the most points at the end wins.

I don’t have much to say about our game, except that fairly early on 3 of us cooperatively made a very large city which the 4th player couldn’t block, and that I basically forced a large field with a road-ending cloister early on. As the subject of player counts came up, I mentioned how me/Grace don’t enjoy the game too much as fields always score so much as to pale anything else into insignificane, and decided to go all in for the large field while I was thinking of it.

In the end we had a tie on the field between myself and, I think, Gordon. I was ahead oh him however as I’d been in that large city at the start and he wasn’t ^^. I leaped into 1st place on points, for a, to be honest, quite surprising win considering I’ve not played a huge amount and I was going ridiculously heavy on trying to take the field ^^.


Our next game of the evening was ‘Snowdonia’, suggested by & taught by Dave [] to myself and Steve. This is a worker placement game, with the twist that while competing for points, you are thematically building a railroad together, along with the game itself, an ‘ai’ of sorts.

Players take turns placing workers on various spaces in the game, to gather resources (Ore, Stone, Coal), clear rubble, convert resources (ore > steel, rubble > stone), obtain contracts/a train, and advance their surveyor. Actions vary a little in strength, as the ‘weather’ changes over a game, with more getting done when sunny, less in rain, and none in fog (A card is drawn at the end of each turn determining the upcoming weather 2 turns down the line). Weather also drives how fast the game runs itself, so good weather = faster game.

I’m not sure what to say about our game, as for me it lacked that feeling of players driving what happens thanks to the automated-events mechanic. In general, Dave seemed to try and get his surveyor round (Often using 1 of the only 2 initial workers each to do so), Steve got a lot of ore/iron (For a train, which asides from a special ability is how you can get a 3rd worker), and I tried to clear rubble and build stations around the track.

One of the biggest negative things that hit me in the game was early on, I picked up a train, then immediately lost it by random-draw events happening to hit a once off that requires you pay 1 iron or lose your train. I trudged on but…why did that need to be possible in the games design? Unimpressed.

In the event, the game finished in less time than what I’m told is usual, thanks to unnaturally sunny weather for Wales (Almost 100% Sun building an entire railroad), which had the games auto-completion in overdrive. Steve won with 30-something points to my/dave’s 20-something scores. It was kind of anti-climactic, and to be honest, I don’t want to play again even if it does go longer. Cool idea…but falls flat for me this time =(

Lost Legacy

The final game played of the day was a couple of rounds of Lost Legacy. This is a fairly simple deduction card game with players taking turns to ‘draw 1/play 1’ with 1 card hands (So 2 to choose from each turn), aiming to survive the round and find the ‘lost legacy card. Round survivors get an ‘investigation’ round, where in order of lowest remaining card to highest, players get to guess where they believe the lost legacy is, if right, they win.

Anyway, we played a couple of games to finish off the night. If I remember correctly I won the first as I got the legacy in hand but noone had a lower numbered card to beat me in the investigation phase. I lost the second, but forget who won out of Mark/Dave.

Caravan 5th to 9th September!

So a couple of weeks ago I went on holiday with 4 of my awesome friends to Wales, where we spent absolutely 0 time admiring Wales and hung about in a Caravan playing games. It was absolutely fantastic, with each of us running an RP (Well, except Ken, who unfortunatley didn’t get to run ‘Everyone is John’ this time) and playing board games, drinking and generally chilling in between. So…my account…


The first RP we played at the yearly RP weekend was a one-shot run by Chris (Shakespeare). The system chosen was hackmaster, although as I understand it was basic or cut-down rules, which left out some of the fun-sounding ‘what-goes-wrong’ tables that are in the full version.

I forget if there was a reason for our group to have been together as adventurers (Myself, a Dwarf Fighter, Tom a Halfling Rogue, Ken a Mage & Dave as…damn…I think he was a cleric, or a bard…um…Support). In any case, we were approached by a group of merchants in the town who were missing a shipment of important goods, and worried that something had happened to the caravan that was due. They were prepared to offer a tasty sum of money (50 silver) for the recovery of the stuff they were after (Which they were desperatey in need of, as their trades depended on it). One of the merchants, brave as a mouse, had gone looking himself, but came home after discovering a dead body some 5 miles up the road, for fear of being attacked himself.

Naturally we took the job (It would be an awkward one-shot RP if we didn’t), and headed on our way. We found the caravan with little effort, and there was a lot more than 1 dead body! The guards and merchants had all been slain, and a quick search revealed very little if not absolutely none of the goods we were hoping to retrieve. The carts had all been trashed, but we did find a trail heading off into some nearby woodland.

Tracing it back, we discovered the cart only to be set upon by a great and terrible foe! Er…sorry I mean a wolf-pack (Although wolves are pretty tough!). We managed to hold ourselves in check, with the wolves running off into the distance after a few rounds, avoiding any of their own getting too badly or dying, but fortunately saving us in the process (As well…they’d probably have won overall, albeit losing a member or two of their pack). This was a cool showcase of the combat system in hackmaster, where the GM counts through the seconds and its’ up the player to interupt with what they do on the right counts, or miss out/be late to act. Weapons have various speeds associated so you might be acting every few seconds or every 10.

In any case, we surmised it was unlikely that the wolves had killed the guards with arrows and dragged one of the carts into the forest, so continued on our search, following some tracks we’d found leading away to, it turned out, a lake. The prints went up around the north, but we could also see a pleasant cottage to the South (Which we were sure to confirm with Chris was not in fact a gingerbread house, phew). Tom, our rogue, headed off to the North to check things out, while the rest of us paid the cottage a visit.

Sorry…tried to pay the cottage a visit. We came across an apple tree on the way, which while it seemed unassuming, had a trap set and led to a basket of snakes falling atop my head. Being a fighter I had some hefty armour on and they had no chance biting through to my skin, so I chucked them in the lake (More controversial than my stocky warrior was expecting, the party being shocked I’d do such a thing…but snakes can swim, right?). Continuuing on to the cottage we had a short chat with a nice old lady who seemed uninvolved and totally oblivious to their being some creatures going around ransacking caravans nearby. On being asked about the North side of the lake she just hinted she avoided going there due her late husband warning her against the area. We bid her farewell and went to meet with Tom.

In his scouting, Tom had discovered a cave in the cliffside, just past a short section of beach. he could hear chatter from within, but in a language that was unrecognisable. It would seem we’d discovered our bandits, and we set about planning how to deal with them. Someone suggested we try to provoke them into a foolish attack, so I moved up and threw a stone (Someone elses suggestion…although yeah…I did go with it), which they heard and stopped chattering to briefly before continuing. I let out a great bellow in the hope of them coming to see what was going on, but it was just met by further silence.

Not particularly wanting to head into the cave now that I’d just told them we were there, we retreated a little and set up camp a bit into the forest, taking turns to keep watch on the uneventful night. Come the Morning, we planned to sneak into the cave and try to catch the bandits by surprise, which was going fine, until our “sneaky” rogue hit a tripwire (Like the one in the apple tree, to our total not-surprise), which had alarm bells ringing and bought our foes to swift attention.

I’ll admit that I was expecting…bigger..foes, but I guess the petty canine-like small bipeds that came out were mildly intimidating. Kobolds, as they were (Apparently they’re more lizard-like in later rpg’s, giving credence to their belief that they’re somewhat related to dragons). We didn’t have too much trouble taking them down (I totally didn’t nearly die or anything requiring Dave to save me…aaaaah). Half the time knocking them flying across the cave as we did so, due their small size (With one getting a couple-inch diameter hole burned through his head, nice Ken…nice). We found most of the food-items lost had been mostly eaten, but the majority of things were accounted for. The cave stank of piss, thanks to the containers that were keeping an artists lead in good condition having been emptied by the kobolds (Who I forgot to mention, thought was silver that we’d foolishly kept in wee).

The rest of the adventure was spent hauling the stuff back to the caravan the kobolds had dragged into the woods, (Including the leader who we’d taken prisoner). We got it back to the town with little effort, returning the items stolen to the various artisans of the area. Upon meeting with the main merchant for our reward, we were asked to accompany him to the nearby fort rannick where he could provide us with it (As to be fair, it would have been foolish for him to carry that much coinage around). Fade away as we walk into the distance…


Next up, seeing as we had a while till we’d want to sleep, I fetched Hanabi, a game I picked up recently in Germany. Hanabi is a cooperative card game with very simple rules. For each of 5 colours, play in order, the 1, 2, 3, 4 then 5 cards, and if the wrong card is played we lose a life (3 Lives). Of course…you hold your hand backwards, so you don’t have a clue what you’re holding.

To deal with that minor-mishap, players can give each other clues (Its’ cooperative remember, so you are trying to help each other or all your heads get chopped off by the emporer for the pitiful fireworks display). A clue costs a clue token (You start with 9 between you), and you can tell someone all the cards they have of a particular number, or colour (e.g. this and this are 2’s), but you must tell them everything, and are not allowed to emphasise your speech or suchlike (I.e. no shouting ‘THIS IS A 2’ then ‘and this one’ quiety!). The third action you can choose on a turn is to discard (So Play, Give Clue, or Discard) a card, which gives you back a clue token, but risks throwing away something important (There’s only one ‘5’ in each colour, so if you throw one away you can’t complete that colour).

The result is a very intriguing game where you’re trying to work out how to give information in the least amount of clues possible (Because otherwise people have to throw away cards and potentially ruin everything ^^). For example instead of pointing out to a player they have 2 3’s (A blue and a green), you could say they have a blue (Their only blue) because they can then infer that they should play it, etc etc…

I’m not sure what to say about our games, but the first one, the ‘learning’ game so to speak, we got our heads chopped, but got everyone into how the game works and how it flows. The second game I introduced the rainbow suit as I was feeling confident in our abilities (It counts as every colour, so if you’re telling someone about reds, you also point at the rainbow, i.e. you might then want to add ‘this is blue’ so they can realise the actual suit). This is a challenging difficult hike to throw at people, but we were able to pull off a successful play, and while it wasn’t the most fantastic display, we did avoid the emporer’s wrath this time!

I really enjoyed playing this with friends, as its’ a fantastic cooperative game, which eliminates the idea of an alpha-player as you’re totally reliant on the information of others. I think it was a great fit for an RP weekend to get people into the mood of relying on their team as much as trying to be a hero.


On Saturday, it turned out to be Dave that was next up to run (We were drawing blind from a basket with our names in). Dave’s weapon of choice was mouseguard, and he gave us a set of pre-made characters to choose from. Sadly its’ not a game with mages (At least not for the game we played), so I went for an archer, Chris a very single-minded fighter, Ken another fighty-type character that deferred to Chris at types of danger, and Tom a scout, who was also my mentee.

I er…kind of forget what we were meant to be doing in this, but we went in search of a missing individual who was expecting to be between 2 towns, but was in wilderness somewhere that he could have taken many different routes. Three of us decided to try and work out where he was likely to have gone, with the other mice deferring to my opinion in the end, which left them with a debuff as they were a tad annoyed that their routes were disregarded.

We were fortunate enough to come across the cart with the, now dead, missing guy, without much difficulty, but…well, we found him to be dead. (I think he was a smuggler, with us finding proof of his illegit activities). It wasn’t long however before we heard something rustling in the bushes, and soon found ourselves faced with a snake, looking for dessert following the carnage that we now realised was caused by the snake.

Combat in mouse-guard is er…strange. Members of the fight split into teams, and their health becomes a pool, with them being a sort of joint attack/defend unit. Chris, Dave & Ken grouped with me on my own, staying back to pepper the fiend with arrows. In a turn of combat, one team fights the enemy, with each getting 3 attacks at the other. For the team of 3, this meant each got 1 attack, while the snake got 3 attacks vs their health pool. For me, I got 3 attacks to the snakes 3 attacks. It’s nice that players can be defensive and deal with low-health by pooling, but doesn’t really explain why I get 3 times as many attacks just for being on my own.

Anyway, a few strikes from our mighty weapons (Mighty for mice anyway…I guess =p) and the snake made the right decision and ran (slithered) away. All that was left to do was report back and the adventure was over.

I’m not sure how I feel about mouse-guard. I kind of like the idea, but without knowing any of the story of why we’re mice with weapons its’ just a bit odd. Plus I think I like systems with a bit of magic/technology thrown in, so just being a group of fighters was a shame. Was fun anyway, but because of good friends rather than a good system I think ^^.

Dread..Er, Almost.

Next up on the draw was Tom with an apparently Jenga based system (I’d bought along the Jenga tower, proudly!). I say apparently to try and represent the first-time impression when someone tells you its’ the core of an RP being run ^^. Character creation for it was a question-based affair, with a heavily templated set of questions which are designed to get you involved with your character and let you tweak it as you like.

I’m going to pause about there though, as er…I got quite stressed out with the affair. I can’t explain why, but being asked questions which felt personal but weren’t actually about me was something I found extremely uncomfortable and I had to leave the room for a while. On coming back the plan changed to tv/games until late.

After dinner was board games time, and we started with something a bit counter to the team-building exercise of hanabi – The Resistance. This is a team-based game, good vs bad (Or Government vs The Resistance, as you like). The good team (The resistance) are taking out missions against the government, but a third of the group (The bad team) are government spies, trying so sneak onto and sabotage the missions. 3 Successful missions and the good guys win, 3 failures and the bad guys win. One big caveat…the bad guys know who the other bad guys are, but the good guys know a whole load of nothing.

In our first game, me & Chris were spies. IIRC Dave was first as the team leader, and being on my right picked himself and me to go on the first mission (2-Man). Everyone approved (You all vote to approve/reject missions before they go ahead, if the vote fails leader-ship moves to the next player, but fail 5 votes in a row and the spies automatically win). Missions work by choosing a success or fail card (In secret) then shuffling the entries to the mission before revealing. Naturally I entered a success card along with Dave’s (Despite being a spy) to make myself look good later on.

The next leader was me, so I picked the other 3 players (Chris, Tom, Ken), which Chris promptly failed I think. Stuff then happened and we ended up 2:2, and the last mission being down to a good guy to pick the team. I got in on it, aaaand got the mission/discard pile confused so made it succeed…Oops. Win for the good guys I suppose (Unless you accept that it was a mistake).

For the next game the spies were…ahem, myself and Chris. We won properly this time ^^.

The third game was a false-starter, which would have been yet again me/chris as spies (Not fixed, I swear!), but Ken was a tit and opened his eyes too (Funnily enough, both me and Chris had only seen Ken’s eyes open, so he could have really screwed with us by keeping quiet, which fortunatey he didn’t ^^).

The actual third game was a wash…The 2 players on mission one happened to be good, and they picked themselves and 1 more for the next which was also a good guy, so me/Dave as spies didn’t even get to try and interact.

The fourth & final game I was finally a good guy! I copped Tom as a traitor as he screwed up a vote (Accepted a mission approval for 3 players. Seeing as there’s 3 good guys, you should always decline a mission that doesn’t have you on it, i.e. only a traitor would approve it). I think we still lost though as the other traitor was too hard to track down (I think it was Chris).


Finishing up Saturday we went with my ‘2-3 games a year maximum’ game, DrunkQuest. For anyone familiar with Munchkin, its’ similar, but you drink to fight rather than falling on pure luck of the cards. For those who aren’t familiar..

The game consists of a treasure deck and a monster deck (And a ships/realms/characters deck, but that’s just to give players unique abilities). At the start of the game, each player draws 7 random treasures to their hand. Players then take turns to fight monsters. To do so, a monster is drawn by the active player, then each player gets to play an action to affect it if they wish, finishing on the active player. They then can either run away (No treasures or level) or fight the monster, drinking its’ value plus whatever may have been added by actions along the way, to gain the treasures/levels the monster provides (Default 1 level, #treasures is printed on the card).

Gameplay continues like this until a player wins by reaching level 6. Throughout though, various instants get played (Such as ‘Silver – Choose a player, they take 2 drinks), effects (Vampirism – Player must talk like a vampire until they get rid of this card, if caught not speaking like a vampire, 5 drinks), and more. Everything is explained on the cards, which are fortunatey of a large jumbo size to make them handle-able while a tad inebriated.

The first game was the fastest we’ve ever played DrunkQuest, with a boss monster getting a ‘+1 level if defeated’ giving all players a huge boost (Everyone drinks on a boss, but also everyone gets the rewards). Ken got the win, and seeing as we still had plenty of alcohol, we inadvisably started game 2.

This second game was…um. I don’t really remember much except that I had Vampirism for a rather long time (Which eventually got cleansed by someone because I think they were sick of my awful attempt at the accept). Chris had seduced for a while (You have to quietly tell monsters you love them when they’re defeated), Ken had C.S.F. (Have to say meow at the start and end of every sentence), which later became contagious (So everyone had to also add meows’ until it got removed!). I’m afraid I was very drunk by the end of it so only the effects really stood out rather than the monster fighting ^^ (Which I hope there’s lots more of in future expansions ^^).

Got to be honest, DrunkQuest is the most fantastic drinking game I’ve ever come across ^^.


On Sunday, we opted for take 2 of getting Tom’s RP started. The other 3 players group answered the questions for my characters setup (Which I really appreciate, thankyou!) and we were able to get started.

The setting begun that we were on a summer camp and were a few days into the wilderness by river (So 10+ days hike if we were to try and walk back). At the camp, we hear a scream at night, and upon going to investigate find our guides tent ripped apart, and the guide mauled near to death. The only part of the guides body to be seemingly unaffected was around his neck, where a silver-necklace hung. My character, thanks to my (in-game) crazy romanian grandmother, immediately takes this as being that it’s clearly a werewolf, with the avoidance of the neck being due to the silver.

But…you probably want to know what’s up with the Jenga tower. Well, to perform a task in the game, you had to pull a Jenga brick (Putting it on top as like normal Jenga). You automatically succeed, but if the tower falls….you die.

Things started off ok. We made a stretcher out of the remains of the guides tent, and decided to try and head a little down the river. (We did try radioing first, but got nothing but useless static). We went a good distance before Chris got caught of rapids up ahead, and without the guide to help us through, and with our near total lack of survival skills (Chris knew a little), we shored up and moved to take camp. Occasionally people caught glimses of things moving, such as a wolf swimming across the river, or on that next night demonic red eyes glaring out of the darkness (I saw the latter…noone seemed impressed at my saying it was a werewolf…ignorant fools!). (My character stopped bothering to pull bricks for watch duty after that, feeling rather demoralised by the whole thing).

We spent much of the next day hiking alongside the river, leaving our rafts behind and hoping there wasn’t far to go. Unfortunatey Dave knocked the tower over while doing so, falling down a steep slope to his death, which also had us drawing a hell of a lot of bricks right after rebuiling the tower as we tried to cope with the loss. The remaining 4 of us (3 + the dragged along guide) continued on (Well, Ken/Chris checked Dave’s body first, surmising that he was very dead), and were lucky enough to find a nice place to camp.

That night, Ken got a hell of a shock, as the “not-a-werewolf” jumped onto their tent. We all piled outside to try and deal with this threat, regrettably short on weapons. (We had only a hatchet, which I fetched on the way in the hope of dealing with the..well, the werewolf. Ken had to make a pull from the jenga pile, and finding himself unable to safely do so, instead made a heroic sacrifice (You can do something heroic by smashing the tower down voluntarily, but it of course, ends your life). He saved us, burying the hatchet in the beasts head.

Me/Chris, left with a shoddily rebuilt jenga tower and a near-dead but still breathing werewolf (I think he probably accepted it was indeed one by this point). We burned the body of the werewolf, and spent much of the night cowering in our tent (I kept my head poked out to keep watch all night, I was kinda terrified). In the Morning, we found the guide to be dead (We totally forgot him in the commotion…It had been up to Ken to keep medical care of him and…and…yeah…).

Fortunatley for the pair of us, we spotted a steam-boat on the river, and were rescued…Its’ hard to be excited at the success, when we lost 3/5 of the group, but well…we live to jenga another day!

Dead of Winter

We next went back to the world of board games, as Ken was wanting to join in with his usual weekly RP. With him disapearing to sit on a video call, I broke out Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game.

Dead of Winter is a survival game, about a group of survivors and their interactions in the followup to a Zombie Apocalypse. Round on round players have to deal with food shortages, crisis (Which are basically ‘#players * randomitemtype()’ or something bad happens, the ever-present zombie horde (Which are interestingly a threat that often fades into the background compared to all the other stuff you have to deal with, a nice contrast to the usual zombie game ‘Endless slaughter’ mentality of er…every other zombie game ever.

For our game, we went with mission 1, 8 weeks of darkness (Survive 8 Rounds). Our survivors have formed the colony, but soon realised its’ something of a deathtrap, with limited food and supplies and no escape from the ever-present horde. Unfortunately, it’s the dead of winter (hey-o!) and the cold and darkness rather limits the possibility of doing anything about it. All they have to do is survive for 2 months and things’ll be looking up…right?

I’m not 100% on how to describe how the game went, so this might be a bit scatty…

I started off the game with the construction worker (1 free barricade/turn) and the principle (double-searches as the school). The first was very useful, partly as one of my secret objectives was to have 4 barricades in the colony at the end of the game ^^. I remember Dave had the janitor, which was used to good effect clearing up all the colony’s trash throughout the game. I forget what else he had & what tom/chris had though unfortunately (one of them had soemthing for grocery searching I think, as that deck got burned through fast!).

Early days had things going well. We had plenty of supplies to deal with the crisis at hand, and Chris found a guitar (From a crossroads card…I’ll talk about those in a mo), which motivated the colony so we all got an extra dice for a round. Chris/Dave seemed to gather all of the medicine in existence between them (You’d think someone outwardly saying they have 5-6 medicine cards would have you scream traitor…but we really did have almost no use for them for a few rounds ^^).

A general strategy we followed was to avoid using our outsider cards, which are how you gain survivors in the game. We did this because letting more people into our colony (Who often come with ‘helpless’ survivors that don’t even provide actions!) would stretch our food needs even thinner. The one detractor was Chris, who got away without being too suspicious as at least one of his was ‘1 outsider’, which means no annoing helpless one attached to it. This worked really well throughout, with us needing only about 4 food/round (When I did this scenario earlier in the week at halesowen, we got up to 7/8 food/round later on…and starved).

Somewhere along the way, our food supply got ruined, with someone (read: Chris) putting an invalid card into the crisis. Me/Tom were validated as we had put in food from locations only we had searched (The location cards are from is listed on the bottom), which left Dave/Chris (And I think Dave didn’t actually put a card in, wasn’t sure at the time though). Fortunatey for us, most of the crisis past that one had effects that would have hurt Chris/Dave to fail, and so long as were doing ok (Our morale wasn’t going too bad either) we felt we could afford to not start throwing out random exile votes.

By the last round of the game, we had by some miracle got back up to 5 morale (Started on 7…first time I did this mission we had 1 or 2 when we were this close to the last round). A crossroads card let us remove the crisis for the round for the cost of 1 morale, which meant whoever the traitor was would have one less avenue to screw us. With Dave having gone first in the round and done nothing but good things, it was clear that Chris was the one with the alterior motives, who was last to go. In fact, had we been on less morale, I’d have exiled him on my turn (Voted to, anyway), but we were so high that I let it be.

Naturally, he was happy to be uttery obvious on his last go on trying to think how to burn 4 morale in one go. Someone who’s played might think he could move his survivors around to try and make them die…but he had to have 2 more survivors than anyone else at the colony, utterly smashing that avenue. After a looooooong turn trying to figure it out, he conceded, and the game was won…well.

So I mentioned earlier about my secret objective (Everyone has one), all I needed was 4 barricades in the colony (There was about 12 ^^)….and a fuel card. Foolishly I threw away my last fuel, using it with a lighter to burn masses of zombies gleefully…loss for my survivors. Chris failed as he needed to get morale to 0, Dave failed as he’s mis-understood his card, thinking it meant he needed 2 of any card in hand, rather than 2 books, and Tom failed because reasons…I forget. At least the colony survived I suppose!


For my RP, I opted to try and get started on Rise of the Runelords, as I’ve had the book for the adventure path for quite some time and well, got to happen sooner or later right? The first adventure (of 6) in this book is ‘Burnt Offerings’, and it was the first half of this that I planned to run (Actually..I was planning on doing 2-3 of the 4 as I thought we’d done part 1 before…but apparently not ^^).

Character generation took much of the Morning, partly while we were having our nice fried breakfast. Ken set himself up as a Human Sorceror, Tom a Human Bard, Dave an Elf Ranger and Chris a Kobold Bushwhacker (A continuation of what he’d used when I first did a pathfinder game, where we did the ‘Carrion Crown’ adventure, but I didn’t find myself wanting to pay £13 a book to carry it on…(Rise of the Runelords was a nice one-time purchase for all 6, something like half the price as a result…with a quality hardback instead of paperback).

The adventure starts with the group attending a festival to celebrate the rebuilding of the cathedral (A fire 5 years before had left the town with make-shift places of worship for the past half-decade). A bit of handwavy ‘entertainment’ later (Yay for being awful at GM’ing), with Tom earning a small amount for his performances, and we get to the start of the adventure for real, with Father Zantus using a thunderstone to grab attention as he prepares his final speech.

What he wasn’t aware of, and leaves his speech spluttering, was that the thunderstone was a signal for various groups of goblins to assault the town. Here’s about where I decided to go off the books rails a bit. I set up the town square with some marketplace tiles I’d bought ages ago, then used standee’s from dead of winter to represent the heroes, zombie standies to represent the goblins, and helpless survivor tokens to represent the townsfolk (And some random tokens for guards). I used another couple of survivor standee’s for the important NPC’s (Father Zantus, and the Sheriff, who I decided didn’t get enough recognition in the book).

Before I’d put out the goblins, I’d scatterred around the helpless survivors and let the players decide where their heroes were at the time. (Which was quite spread out, with Tom at the fountain in the middle performing, Ken manning a stall selling fruit/veg, and er…the others doing things). I set up various groups of goblins around the place, at each place where there was an entrance, (Which happened to be roughly 3/player…the adventure has all 4 against 3 as the sta

rt fight.. ^^). The NorthWest group was most intense, which fortunately for the PC’s is where the Sheriff and 2 of his guardsmen were hanging out (By the stage that Zantus was spluttering upon).

I have no idea how enjoyable the next part was, but it was a hectic battle with the PC’s having to dive in and out of combat as they went (Getting nearly killed a couple of times, with the fortune of having father zantus to run about healing them, or the helpless residents when they survived being hit (They usually didn’t…)). As I had way too many goblins to keep an accurate track of, I rolled their health only when someone attacked them, and in the goblins round just kind of went round the board activating as I went (they didn’t get to have individual initiatives, as that would have been hell to control), the Sheriff/Guards went right after the goblins, again with no specific initiative.

The result of the fight, was that ‘ahem’ all the guards died (I think I could maybe…a little bit, have made them too weak), and the player characters ended up in a tight group fighting together – i.e. a really cool way of getting them introduced to each other. I think in all ~30 goblins were defeated, which is a lot cooler than the 3 then 4 that they were supposed to handle ^^. They got little rest though before hearing a scream and bark from up North, where they found a mounted commando killing a dog (Which belonged to the noble cowering behind a barrel nearby).

This next fight was fairly swift, but challenging, with players needing high values to hit. One player got downed in the fight (I think it was Tom), getting picked back up post fight with a healing potion looted from the body. The noble introduced himself and offers a reward for the saving of his life, suggesting to pick it up soon at the rusty dragon inn.

Back at the town square, one of the goblins had trapped itself upside down in a barrel trying to grab food, and the sheriff had the goblin subdued. Feeling appreciative of the PC’s efforts, he’s happy to let the PC’s get information from him, who discover that while the goblin doesn’t know his leader is, its’ (probably) a human and that he’s on a secret mission to the graveyard.

Taking barely a breather, the newly formed group headed that direction, with the sheriff and a worried looking father zantus. Upon arrival and finding many tracks, the sheriff asked Zantus to await him in the church, followed by the sheriff and the pc’s following the tracks (Which they discover to be mostly goblins and one human). This brings them to a tomb, who’s entryway is supiciously ajar.

Ken lit up the room with a lighting cantrip, revealing a pair of skeletons, which reacted attack. One PC (Tom I think) and the Sheriff shoved themselves against the stone doorway with a skeleton halfway through, near killing it with crushing power. With Tom/Sheriff keeping the gap thin, Ken, Dave and Chris pepperred the helpless skeletons (Who couldn’t get through) with Magic, Arrows & Bullets respectively until they were dead.

Inside, they find the previous priests remains stolen and a robe of bones, now spent and useless, its’ job complete. After these shocking events and the hectic day before, the group retired to one of the towns 2 inns, the rusty dragon (I mean…I forgot the name of the other one so they only had 1 choice really…ahem). Aldern meets them there, giving a 50gp reward and inviting them to come boar-hunting the next day.

A few more small events happened before we finished up. The group went on the hunt with Aldern, which was quite comically poor (Heavily thanks to my awful gm’ing skills, but also because terrible roles led to very disobedient mounts ^^), but was successful (Although Dave kind of nearly died after the boar charged him in its’ last moments). Tom was invited to perform at the theatre, impressively reenacting the horrific events the day before (Or two days…I forget ^^). At the inn, the owner, Ameiko Kaijitsu had a row with Lonjiku Kaijitsu, her father (Who the Players remembered had absented himself from the festivals speeches). Trying to interfere achieved little but to foster a heavily dislike between the players and lonjiku (Tom managed to make him momentarily reconsider his innate distrust of the pc’s, but to little avail). The result was lonjiku storming out and disowning his daughter. (Who’d whacked him with a ladle of soup and thrown out a one-liner as he’d left).

The following day, one of the bars staff approached the PC’s on the quiet, worried that Ameiko hadn’t got up to make breakfast, and having gone into Ameiko’s room had found her bed unslept in and a note. She’d helpfully translated the note, but worried Ameiko could have got herself into trouble and asks the PC’s to help.

Aaaand we ended there, as Tom had a ~4 hour drive (To Birmingham to drop off Ken then to Oxford) ahead of him and didn’t want to stay too late ^^. We didn’t get to Ken’s RP (He was hoping to run ‘everyone is john’, but we’ll get around to it eventually I’m sure ^^.

The weekend as a whole was absolutely fantastic, and I’m very much glad that Ken organized this again for us all to do. Regardless of the fact we didn’t actually leave the caravan for anything (Except taking out the rubbish), there’s something to be said for being someone totally different and tranquil, and just chilling out with great friends – all of you are awesome =-)