Halesowen Board Gamers #27 (10/19/14)

Ok, so I’m going to start with an apology, I was really tired/grouchy on Wednesday evening so probably a bit of a dick…sorry if that was so.

Last Will

First up, as I got this recently in a trade and wanted to get it played, was Last Will. In this game, your rich Uncle, who’s spent his entire life being Lord Business, wants to give his fortune to the relative who can enjoy it the most. His Will leaves each person an small but generous chunk of the money, and the player to spend it the fastest will be the winner and sole inheritor of the rest of the estate.

The game is a light worker-placement game where you want to manage your cards (Ways to burn money) and allotment of actions each turn to try and lose money more effectively than the other players. This is achieved through depreciating property, elaborate nights out (Being sure to bring your horse along to enjoy the fun), and just generally (and deliberately) foolish spending of money.

To start each turn, each player in turn (From the player with the ‘start player’ marker) chooses one of 7 similar spaces. Each has a number of cards to draw (0-7), a number of errand boys (1 or 2) and a number of actions (1-4). Rather than scale directly that placing later in order (For the 2nd part of a round) that they get worse, the actions vary – You get 5 cards and 2 errand boys for going in the first spot for example, but only 1 action, while the 2nd spot is 2 cards, 2 errand boys and 2 actions.

Once everyone has chosen, they draw their cards from the 4 ‘regular’ decks (Events, Assistants, Properties, Companions), taking from any deck, but without seeing what they’ve drawn until all their cards are picked up. With that worked out, players going into the second ‘placement’ stage – errand boys.

In this stage, players take turns in the order decided in the first stage to place either 1 or 2 errand boys (Represented by awesome wooden top-hat pieces!) in various spaces around the board, to gain cards (face-up so you know what you’re getting), get player-board extensions (Have more permanent cards in play), go to the opera (Spend 2 coins) or get 1 extra regular card at random.

With this completed, the 3rd and final stage of the round takes place with each player spending actions as per their order mentioned earlier (They do all their actions on their turn). It takes an action to place a card into your permanent area, and often to use either a white card from your hand or one of your previously placed permanents.

At the end of the round, players discard down to 2 cards, and the offering board (The face up cards) are cleared and replaced for next round. Any building that wasn’t maintained depreciates (So it’ll sell for less than you brought it for) and cards are reset (As the permanents are once/round). Play continues until someone announces bankrupcy (At which point the round plays to the end before it finishes), or the game gets to the end of the 7th round. The winner is whoever has the least money, or most negative money!

Our game started off with farms being rather expensive, leading to us all grabbing one in the first round. I also picked up a training ground (Costs money for each farm you have, and more per animal on those farms), a move duplicated by Stan the next turn. I also grabbed a steward that would make farm activations free, determining that farms would stay my main strategy for the game ^^. Stan picked up a mansion before long, and Mark did I have no idea what but seemed to get 2 really expensive farms (16 & 25 base cost, mine were 12/15).

It wasn’t too long before Mark switched around the market to make his farms sell for less (As he ran out of money, but you can’t declare bankrupcy while you have property) and chucked away his 25 cost farm that had cost him 28, for a still high 22 coins. In the meantime I managed to get myself a couple of horses and a dog onto my farms, building up a little engine but also realising I had a lot of money to lose to catch up (Never happened). Stan managed to depreciate his mansion a couple of times, and got a nice carriage to be driven aroudn in for a healthy cost of 5 coins per turn.

As it came into the last round, I was way behind (10 coins to Marks’ 6 & Stans’ 5, which also meant I’d got rid of my farms which were the only way I really had to lose money fast). I worked out a way to get to 0, and a bit of luck on card draws meant I got to -1 instead, but that was soon showed up as Stan dropped to -8 through his plays. Mark happened to have a particularly powerful card that basically let him funnel almost all his last turn actions into a huge spend of 14, taking him to -9 for victory.

I had fun, but…I don’t think I like starting with 70 (The recommended first game amount, which is also the lowest possible when you do it randomly), as the game was too quick for any engine-building to work. Rather than trying to burn my money through farming, I would have been better to just spam instant cards…but that just didn’t seem like a fun idea asides from the mad rush at the end. Looking forward to playing with a bigger chunk (100 at least!) and to picking up the expansion which has some really ideal features for what I want from the game (You have a job at the start, so you have to be countering the fact you’re earning as well as spending ^^).

Definitely one to get played again, and definitely staying in my collection. I have been thinking I needed more light/short options ^^.

Coup * 4

Speaking of light/short. Our next game was Coup, in large part because I really wasn’t feeling like playing anything too long, and wasn’t at all in the mood to try eminent domain or even bother with pandemic (Which there’s really not much point playing if you’re not really up for it, as you’ll just let everyone else take your turns). So as an artifact of my being a miserable sod, we went with the shortest game I had with me.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, its’ really difficult to talk about coup, as the interesting and intriguing bit of the game is in whether you believe other players and whether they believe you, which is a very ‘in the moment’ feeling.

The first of our games I won after Mark called a lie on my assassin and lost both his lives as I was telling the truth, and I managed to maneuvre myself into enough money to coup Stans last character (The power of lying!). The second game I won also, during which I think I told the truth once and got called on it, then used about 3 different roles despite having a pair of dukes to win ^^. Mark won the next, apparently by telling the truth (Yawn), and he also won the fourth, mainly as I just decided to call everything people did against me and lost in the whole of a turn or two – Unfortunately if you get the right cards in a small game its’ possible to win through truth, so I wish we could have had more (Where it becomes harder, as the slight increase in number of turns that tends to happen means people work out what you have an can capitalise on it).

We finished there as Stan wanted to head off for an early night, and I was more than happy to agree on the idea, feeling utterly shattered at the time. it was a good night, but I don’t think I was particularly pleasant for everyone else to put up with…oh well :(

Halesowen Board Gamers & UoB Tabletop Society, & The Weekend! (08/10 to 12/10 2014)

Wednesday – Halesowen, 8th

On Wednesday this week I went along with a few games, although most were destined not to get played (A shame, as I was hoping to try Last Will!). In fact, none of them got played first, with Stan suggesting Palaces of Carrera which he’d brought along. I was somewhat dubious, as the last time I played a game with a ‘rondel’ mechanism (Santiago de Cuba)…Well, I didn’t like it too much. On the other hand, Stan advertised it as an hour playtime, and this looked to use the rondel in a totally different way.

Palaces of Carrera

In palaces, players are competing to construct buildings in 6 different coloured cities. The colour denotes rank, going in order white > yellow > red > green > blue > black (I think) with white accepting buildings of only the finest material. I say that because the buildings requirements are generic ‘Requires 4 bricks’, but the type of bricks you use must be equal or better than the city you build in (So you can use any bricks for a black city building, anything but black for blue, etc).

Players in the game take turns to perform 1 ‘action’, which is either ‘buy bricks’, ‘build a thing’ or ‘score a thing’. Buying bricks is where the rondel comes in, with a turning wheel which has the bricks on in 6 segments. Around the edge of the wheel (Stationary) are prices for those bricks, and as you look clockwise around the track, they reduce in price by 1 at each step (To 0, so if you ‘buy’ when bricks have been pushed a few around, you can potentially get free bricks). You may only buy from 1 segment, so sometimes you have to leave a nice selection to push around because you need something else more.

So how do you score, and get money for more pretty bricks? Well, you construct buildings of course. When you construct a building, matching by brick colour as mentioned above, it builds up in a personal area for that city. When you decide to score, you move one of your (5?) markers to either the main board on a city, or to a building type on your personal board, then score everything either in that city or of that building type. What you score depends on the city and how much you’ve built there.

Victory Points
White, Red & Blue cities score victory points. The amount you score is equal to the quantity of bricks used to construct the buildings there, multiplied by 3 (white), 2 (red) or 1 (blue).

Money
Yellow, Green & Black cities provide money. When you score these, you gain money equal to the quantity of bricks used to construct the buildings there, multiplied by 3 (yellow), 2 (green), or 1 (black).

So as you can probably tell, you have to try to balance building in the money-earning cities and the victory point cities, as well as thinking about how much you’re spending to buy bricks (As blacks are always the cheapest, often free, but only get money at 1x rate). I should also mention you’re vying for a few general ‘goals’ with extra vp (Randomized each game), in our case a set of 4/2 of any building types gave 20VP, having 4 buildings on one city gave 3-21VP (depending which city you have the 4 in) and getting to 3 5-brick buildings gave something too. (Also, by getting these 3 things at least once each, you are then allowed to end the game on any turn, rather than waiting for all the buildings to be constructed).

In our game, I tried to focus somewhat on the cheaper buildings, the blue & black, under the assumption that I would go fairly uncontested (And I think I did get the most buildings around there as a result). I also tried to get just a few white bricks so that I could have a high-scoring building or two, lest I screw myself too much in being cheap ^^ (And to make sure the others didn’t get bricks too cheaply).

I also tried to go for 2 building types, hoping to get the ‘4/2’ bonus twice as the 20VP each time was nothing to be sniffed at! All 3 players seemed to go for a different building type from the start, and it was a while before any competitive choices were taken (Against me, curtesy of Stan).

Truth be told, I forget what the others went for in our game, but as it turned out player X (*whistles*) managed to shoot into the lead, having managed the 2 sets of 4/2, while I missed it by 1 building piece (I burned myself out of money a couple turns before the end and couldn’t recover enough to get anything). I know X won, but I totally forget how me/Stan were placed, although I think I was in a lowly last place with Stan in 2nd.

Coup

To make myself feel better about my loss (Although I enjoyed the game – The rondel is much better as a resource value system rather than choice of actions), I suggested Coup next, taking to short games for the rest of the evening, although we could probably have fit Last Will in had I been a tad more confident about the rules (I’ve since watched a video so hopefully playing tomorrow!), but no worry as its’ fun to get short games out sometimes!

Coup, is a game of bluffing and deception. You play with a set of 15 cards, which consists of 3 each of ‘Assassin’, ‘Captain’, ‘Ambassador’, ‘Duke’ and ‘Contessa’ roles. The deck is shuffled at the start of the game, and each player is dealt 2 face-down, along with 2 coins from the treasury. The 2 cards represent your ‘influence’, and if they are both killed (Turned face-up) you are out of the round.

So, gameplay, players take turns to perform actions until they are the last player standing. They can take income (take 1 coin, unblockable), foreign aid (take 2 coins, blocked by dukes), or perform a coup (spend 7 coins, choose a player to lose one influence), without needing any special cards. They can also use the various abilities of the cards:
Assassin – Spend 3, Choose a player to lose influence.
Ambassador – Draw 2 cards, return 2, blocks captain.
Captain – Take 2 coins from another player, blocks captain.
Duke – Take 3 coins
Contessa – Blocks Assassin.

Now, you don’t actually need to have those cards to perform their abilities. You can claim any role on any turn. However, if another player decides to call your bluff, you must either reveal the card to prove yourself (Then shuffle it into the deck and redraw), in which case they lose one influence, or lose one influence of your own.

There’s also blocking of course. If someone tries to steal 2 coins from me with the captain, I can in turn claim I have a captain (Whether I do or don’t) to block the move and waste their turn – But of course they could call my bluff and potentially make me lose an influence for my lie.

This all leads to very fast, interesting gameplay (Although the first game is perhaps a tad confusing, its’ <10 minutes per game and begs repeat play). One game perhaps I get away with calling Duke every turn without a Duke, but next game I get called on it and my facade is ruined, & so on ^^.

We played 7 rounds of the game, after we happened to end up 2-2-2 on the game we were going to finish on and decided we needed a winner. I forget the specifics (One of the curses of playing 7 times is remembering any specific game, not that I ever remember anything well…), but it was Stan that manages to win after I got eliminated very early in the last game. Congratulations to Stan, also curses, I’m supposed to win at my games! ^^.

Biblios

To finish up the evening, we changed to another short game, this time one Stan had recently picked up – Biblios (I’m jealous, Stan, was hoping to pick this up sometime ^^). This is a fast playing draft and auction game where players compete for sets in 5 categories, with the value of those sets being modified throughout the game.

Gameplay, naturally, consists of player turns. Each turn, the current player draws (2+#Players) cards from the deck (One by one! Not all at once), deciding as he does whether to put the drawn card in his own hand, into the auction pile, or face-up for the other players to pick from (You have to do the ‘to self’ or ‘auction’ once only, with the rest going to other players, who take turns clockwise to choose one to go into their hands.

This continues until the deck runs out, at which point the auction phase begins. Now players take turns to reveal the top card from the auction pile (Which is shuffled I think), then in clockwise order bid in increments of 1 until everyone passes – the winner pays up (Money is on some cards, so you should have gotten some via the draft phase) and takes the card into their hand. This continues until the deck runs out (Or, presumably, players run out of money).

At this point, players hands are revealed, and they take the dice for any set they have majority value of cards in (I should totally have mentioned the dice first). The dice, which begin numbered 3 each, change in value over the game when players get ‘+/-‘ cards (Which have to be played immediately) which increase/decrease dice values by 1 when used. It’s a bit of a trade off how you use them in game, between boosting the values of the ones you think you have majority in, and nerf-batting the ones you don’t have.

Again, I’m not sure how to describe our game, but I intended from the start to go for blue (I forget the thematic ‘what it actually was’) cards (Because blue). I also planned to pick up a second (Regardless of dice-value) hoping that even if they got value-reduced I might have enough points for a win. By the end of the draft phase, I’d ended up with tons of ‘brown’ cards and money, but I was clearly losing the blue race to player X. Stan had 1 or 2 more of the ‘skull’ cards than me too, of which I was unfortunately well aware.

Fortunes changed in the auction round. At first, it was feeling a tad dire, and I was just trying to push up prices for others rather than actually win bids. Soon though, some blue cards that had been thrown in came up, and…well I lost the first couple as I wasn’t willing to bid enough. Soon though, player X ran out of money! More blues came up, and I nabbed them at low prices determined only by Stan, who was more interested in other cards, and as it turned out, I managed to slip into the lead for blue by 1 point!

In the end, I won 2 dice, Player X won 1, and Stan won two. Mine were the highest values (I think player X was pushing up the blue expecting to win them), and I got the final win for the evening, making it one each (X in palaces, Stan in coup, and myself in Biblios). Fantastic!

I really enjoyed all the games played, although Biblios/Coup more so than Palaces, and would happily play again. In fact I think despite my usual ‘avoid duplicates’ rule I may have to pick up biblios some-day as it has the rare feature of being auction-heavy but fun anyway. Huzzah =-)

Friday – UoBTT, 10th

Last Friday I went along again to the University of Birmingham TableTop society. Not that I’m even a student…or have officially joined the society this year (Silly guild of students, changing to a digital system making it awkward for external members =P). Besides, I can get away with it, otherwise people get stuck with only the society’s games every week ;P.

So, I took along Last Will, Among the Stars & Legacy: Gears of Time as bigger options, and Coup, Jaipur and Boss Monster as small ones (Not that I particularly want to play the latter, but it would be good fun for the guys that go along and play munchkin I think). It didn’t seem like there’d be much time after I got there for anything long, so I suggested we play a few rounds of Coup then went to get a drink.

On my way back, Grace called on Skype and we had a wonderful conversation, cheering me up a treat and leaving me with a cheesy as all hell smile on my face, er…Ok so that meant I didn’t get coup taught =-) They seemed to be managing ok learning it from the rules when I got back though, and we shortly headed to the Learning Centre (the ‘later’ venue for tabletop, for when the guild has an event on).

Coup + Reformation

On arrival, we had a ton of people outside of games, and again it seemed that I had the only games to be played (Aside from the ‘I won’t play anything but this one game over and over and over’ CCG crowd). Rather than try to split to 2 groups like the week before, I grabbed Coup, which with the expansion I got as part of the kickstarter, reformation, goes up to 10 players.

So what’s different with reformation? Well, 10 identical cards…and that’s about it. Each card has a red (Loyalist) and blue (Reformist) side, indicating allegiance. You are only allowed to attack/steal from players of the other team, which at the start of the game is just alternated between players. There’s also 2 additional actions, ‘switch allegiance’ for 1 coin, and ‘switch another players allegiance’ for 2 coins, both of which are pretty self-explanatory ^^.

This changes the game a remarkable amount! Suddenly on top of trying to bluff roles and work out other players roles, you have an added component of managing the teams to work in your favour. Perhaps an opposing player has 10 coins (10+ coins forces a coup), you might change your team so you’re not a target, or change their team so he has to take out a seconds before teammate. This is really nice in the higher player counts as it gives you a bit of focus (Although it does add to the play-time), although when you’re down to 3 can be a bit frustrating to manage. (2P it doesn’t matter, as when there’s only 1 team, they descend into in-fighting anyway, whereas 3P swapping someone’s team to make someone attack them is…annoying).

We had a ton of fun, playing a couple of games with 8 players, then having Dwayne join making it a 9-player game (Up to 5 of each role! Quite amusing when you’re convinced noone has a card because 4 of that role are already dead…but they do of course ^^). Very awesome, and I’d probably have played more but a couple of people seemed to want to switch to something else, and I wanted to oblige rather than pushing people away.

Among the Stars

We went with Among the Stars at Bens request (Well, requests, must have asked 10 times over the night =P), and I planned to get a game taught to the other half from the coup game. Unfortunateley they opted to leave instead/play yu-gi-oh, so I went back for teaching the last board game of the evening to the 5 other players.

Among the Stars, one of my absolute favourite games, is a card-drafting game where players are building space stations through placement of square cards adjacent and spreading out from their ‘Main Reactor’. The aim is to gain the highest reputation (Alright fine, victory points) by the end of four years.

Each year, players draw 6 cards from the deck (Which is a paaaaain to set up). They then take 6 turns, simultaneously, each turn using 1 card from those in hand and passing the rest clockwise to the next player. They either build the card (location) chosen by paying its’ cost and placing it in their station, or discard it for an action – Build a Reactor for 1 credit (For power cubes which some locations require), or Gain 3 Credits.

The next year, they repeat the same but change direction of passing. After 4 years the game ends and scored are tallied. Some cards throughout are scored immediatey (Those with a ‘white’ background on the text), and some are scored at the end of the game (Those with a ‘yellow’ background). Which is optimal varies from game to game, and even year to year (Its’ a very tactical game, rather than strategic), also depending on what you’re aiming for with the objectives (#players objectives are placed faceup in the middle of the table, and give bonus points to a player that can manage it (Such as ‘most military locations’).

Each player also has a unique race, giving them a special ability of some kind. Some of these are plain-right annoying to deal with so I avoid using them (Such as getting to look through a pile of cards outside of the turns, so everyone has to wait while someone sits their with analysis paralysis, ‘fun’), but are otherwise great fun and a nice differentiator to the game leading to differing tactics (For example in our game, Dwayne made good use of his hythian ability of having stronger power reactors to spam powerful military locations).

Not much for me to say about our actual game. I tried to aim for end-game scoring cards (Such as ‘1 point per 3 locations’, ‘1 point for the least number owned of red or blue locations’, etc), one player went all out for immediate abilities despite their being an objective for most delayed (His racial power was to have another hidden objective, and he’d chosen most immediate knowing he’d easily net it). In the end, at the bequest of Jay, we finished early on the 3rd round, totally screwing me out of catching up (A slew of cards that power up from having more cards in your station is awkward when you finish with 25% less cards than you should have!), aaand…I forget who won, though I think both Dwayne/Immediate-Location Spamming Guy did well.

Everyone seemed to have fun though, and that was the important thing (Although really, we could so have played on the 4th round…we didn’t actually get kicked out of the room and the group of ’em that kept pestering us to finish because of time stayed another 20+ minutes, the cheek!). Looking forward to going along this week, its’ awesome having another games evening to go to, so I hope they continue staying late! (Towards the end of the uni-year I go less because well..it sucks to go 30 minutes out of my way to realise noone’s actually left to play games ^^).

Weekend

I didn’t do a whole lot this weekend, aside from spend a chunk of money for no apparent reason, and mostly fail at organizing things. Saturday got used up partly by helping my Dad a bit with some heavy jobs he had to do that are too much to do safely alone. Alongside that I had to get my car to the garage, as on Friday, my engine warning light turned on. The trip to the garage cost £50 to have them plug in a cable and go ‘yeah, the sensor turned it on’ and surmise that nothing was actually wrong, with them also adding a £15 charge to put some ‘fuel cleaning’ stuff in which does nothing, and reset the sensor. (Which tripped again on Monday morning…yay, probably got to spend ~£100 now to replace the sensor, fun times).

I tried to organise a games evening after that, as a friend had suggested we meet to do RP but not everyone could make it. Neither Chris turned out to be available, Dave decided he had other things to do (I.e. doesn’t like board games), and by the time I got replies from Ian/Stan which were along the lines of ‘Can do it at Ians’ (Partly my houses fault for murdering phone signal) it was a bit late to bother, and ended up playing League of Legends online most of the eve with Ken (And watching Doctor Who, cool episode, although why isn’t Clara dead yet damnit).

Sunday went by with me doing even less, which is cool by me because well…Sunday. I did message a couple of friends and Emma replied that she was up for doing something, but had to be done in time for Sunday Dinner. I had offered to head over to harborne, but she came to Solihull instead where I possess paraffin, fire staves & fire poi to have fun with! It wasn’t really dark enough, but great fun to play with my fire stuff again (Albeit slightly terrifying, massive balls of flame are scary when you’ve not done it in a while ^^).

After near an hour of that, we went inside to talk about board games a bit. Emma mentioned that her boyfriend has Relic which they’ve played a bit, and was interested in getting some games to change things up a little. I find it really fun to talk about the games I have (I mean c’mon, when you spent a ton of money on a hobby you get attached ^^), and gave a brief overview of some games I have, and we grabbed a few to take downstairs and play. There wasn’t time before Emma shot off for her nice dinner, but we did get a partial game of concept and half game of Forbidden Island in which was a great deal of fun

It was really nice having a friend I don’t see often over on Sunday, and reminds me I should make more effort to try and make meetups with friends happen more often, even if I have to drive to their house to do so ^^. The only problem with not actually leaving the house is my phone got no signal all day until I moved it near the windowsill to charge, when I found out Lee was in Birmingham and I could have got him over too! Dang ^^.

TLDR: Started off sketchy, but turned out to be an awesome Weekend =-)

Halesowen Board Gamers & UoB Tabletop Society…& Pathfinder…& Afternoon Play (01/10 – 05/10)

I hope you’re ready for a super-lazy post…I just haven’t found time to flesh out some stuff so there’s a mix of ‘written up’ and ‘drafted’ stuff here…But its’ got to get posted sometime and this is getting on 2-3 weeks old of a post…

Wednesday – Halesowen

On Wednesday 1st, I took a recently received game along to Halesowen, Xia: Legends of a Drift System. I kickstarted this sandbox space game a while back, interested in having an epic-scale ‘Heres a space-ship, go have fun’ style game, particularly one that’s not just ‘There’s a space-war, ’cause reasons’. The games designer Cody was so enthusiastic throughout the campaign, and so dedicated, that I had absolute trust in his delivery of something great.

Its’ a tad over a week since the game and I can’t remember it properly, but we played with 4 of us. Ian stormed off to an early lead, but made a fatal mistake when he pushed into a corner of the map away from the planets trying to do missions/exploring, and lost the energy he needed to get back. Myself/mark followed similar trade/mission strategies & I kind of forget what the last player was up to (I think it was Steve, sorry I should really remember!). I was struggling early on, but after I managed to get a few upgrades on my ship I started following the merchants trade route and trying to pick up any mission that I could do without going too far off course. This turned out to work wel, with my taking the win!

Aaand laziness time, in the rest of the game, Ian managed to screw himself by going way too far away from the planets and de-energizing himself in a nebula, and I managed to catch up then jump into the lead for a win by a mix of trading/missions. Hoorah =p

Friday – UoB TT

On Friday, seeing as the new year at Uni has started, I figured that the tabletop society  would be continuing late into the evening, and decided to make my way over after work. I miss going along, but its’ a gamble as to whether people stay late enough and it often isn’t worth the wasted journey, but sometimes its’ nice to try ^^.

In any case, I took along a load of games (Xia, DoW, Belfort, AtS, Voluspa, Hanabi, etc..) to make sure I had something to interest a variety of people, parked way too far away (~20 minute walk, ok so not that bad…but heavy bags!) and went in to find a pretty darn full room of gaming taking place, hooray! Can’t say I did much for the first hour or so asides from food & conversation, but it was nice to be around fun people I don’t see often as well as meeting some of the new first years. I did have a quick game of Hanabi with Ben, which we won getting to 18 points, but (curse you fab) we had to vacate the building at 8, and headed to the learning centre to get into an actual game.

So, upon seeing I had Dead of Winter a couple of people (Ben, Ellis) had expressed interest in playing, so we got that out immediately at our new venue. Noone else had games with them (Aside from some playing tcg’s on the other side of the room) so I also got Hanabi out for the 5 people not in DoW.

Of course, noone knew how to play, except for Ben as I’d played a little while before, but he was in the Dead of Winter game… ^^. I ended up giving about a 1 minute very rushed hanabi explanation before moving back to teach Dead of Winter which was going to take much longer. Perhaps surprisingly, the hanabi table ‘seemed’ to know what they were doing from there on (I forgot to mention..the rulebook is in german =P), so hooray ^^.

Oh jeez…I would have stopped there when writing this one… I remember we had a lot of fun with the game, one of the more energetic experiences I’ve had with it even! We turned out to have no traitor, and were able to succeed at the main objective of the game. I have absolultely no idea what my secret objective or anyone elses were…left it too long to write this up!

Saturday – Pathfinder

Group headed to glassworks, Handy the priest introduced and comes along. Seen by public, but left to it after they saw the horrors inside and fetched the town guard. Few of them left so left to adventurer’s to look within. Party breaks in around the beach side and goes straight to the death-room. Easily despatch goblins, and tsuto albeit slower.

Then they head town into the tunnels and find the catacombs. Handy nearly dies so they reset and go in again. More success this time, then they turn immediately toward the end-dungeon room. Get there ok and win easily against elysium, partly as they 2 shot the sinspawn and partly as I forgot to make her invisible.

They win and clear out the rest of the place, getting a couple nice things from the levitation room. Other things are handled quickly, including handy channelling energy to mass-kill the zombies. All a success and the scenario ends. (Yeah that’s right…this was a half-arsed one too, deal with it =P)

Coup

So um…then we played Coup 6 times. What? You want me to tell you how it went…no =P I won about half of them, the last game being the most fun as I lied through the entire game about my characters ^^. Really glad my friends enjoyed it!

Sunday – Afternoon Play

– Before you die, mr bond…
I guess if I was in the right mood it could be fun, but this is a bland game with some push your luck and a vague attempt at humour.

– Love Letter
First time played in a while, played a ton of rounds as were playing to 4 points with 4 players, which is a tad long for my preference (As that means up to 13 rounds which it wasn’t far off, good or not, the same thing 13 times over is lame)
– Pandemic
Also first time in a while. Had a blast jumping around the research stations. We lost being 1 action short of curing the last disease (Last player had the 5 cards required and had the last turn, but…aaah so close).
– Android: Infiltration

Pretty cool sounding in principal, but not a huge fan of the synchronous play in this one as it can mean one person doing something and the other not. I ran ahead just so I wasn’t sharing a location with everyone, never even managed to get many tokens from doing so, and got trapped in the building having achieved nothing. Meh.

– Dead of Winter
Finally, by request, DoW. We ran the ‘We need more samples’ scenario, and did it easily, though I had no chance doing my objective as others just spammed survivors and well..screwed myself helping out (Such as making noise to find a tool to fix a crisis rather than keeping the outsider I had drawn). Fun game, but ack..I so rarely win.

Halesowen Board Gamers #24 (24/09/14)

At the start of the evening, I set up Village with full intent of playing it, as I’ve had it since the UK Games Expo and am yet to get it to the table. My plans got ruined and village got shoved back again however, as Stan turned up with Gluck Auf (Coal Baron) which I’ve been wanting to play for a while!

Coal Baron

Coal Baron is a fairly light worker placement game about, unsurprisingly, mining and selling coal. The game takes place over three rounds with an accelerated scoring mechanism, after which the player with the most victory points wins. After the first round, scores are based on goods in completed orders, then after the second its’ goods on completed orders + goods/completed transport, and in the 3rd round its’ both of those, and scoring for emptied mine sections of each type of coal. You also get some Victory Points immediatey on completing orders, and a few modifications at the end (£5>1VP, 3 unused coal >1VP, -1VP/Uncomplete order, -2VP/imbalance).

In each round, players take turns to place workers, from a pool of 13 for each player, represent chunks of time. (Or more in smaller player count games, we were running 4P). Using a space uses one worker, or, if another players workers are there, then the number of workers they’ve used +1 (Kicking them to the canteen, where they’re unavailable till next round, although they’ve already done their job so no worry!).

Each player has an individual player board, consisting of a 4 level mine shaft, and two sides, lit and unlit. This has an elevator in the middle which slides up and down to move coal around, which occurs by taking a main-board action giving you X action points to do so (Spent like ‘1 to move up or down any number of spaces, 1 to transfer coal to or from the cart to anywhere on that level). Players add to this board over time by buying mine tiles from the main board, and placing them on their respective lit/unlit side at their level (The deeper the coal, the more expensive it is).

Other things players can do:
– Take orders (1 at a time)
– Fullfill Orders (All of 1 transport type, of 4)
– Gain Money

Anyway, I think that was an awful explanation but hopefully you get the gist! The worker mechanism is particular is very clever, as it has you checking how many workers you have left, and whether you can afford to get the coal for one more order, as you’ll run out of workers to fill if someone else takes the space…

Early game I went for a bit of a rush on yellow coal (Forgot to mention, it goes yellow, brown, grey, black in ascending value), hoping to get an easy hold on it for ongoing points while then shifting to focus other things. I also planned to go for trucks as transport (For scoring in the second round), but Stan beat me to it and slipped easily ahead. Maté went for trains and black coal, getting a neat monopoly on both, looking very good with them being the highest scoring things in their categories (Best scoring coal, best scoring transport). I forget what transport type Mike went for (Carts maybe?) in the early game, but he certainly got lots of carts later.

The first round went by fairly simple, and I dropped into the back on points with my petty yellow coal scoring and cheap orders. Going into the second round Maté was in a good place with the train scoring coming up, and I took a few train orders to deny him (3 orders to his 3, as we didn’t realise it was to do with quantity of cubes shipped/transport rather than number of cards fulfilled), and spent the round trying to fill those. I also picked up my first black coal order, with horses as transport, and got the carts to fulfill that, but ran out of time to finished maneuvring it around my mine as I had to get the train ones shipped.

The rule we misunderstood was in my favour, with my 3 completed train orders I’d shipped 8 cubes to Maté’s ~4, netting me a ton of points for winning on train orders shipped. Noone scored horses as Maté perhaps inadvisably decided to wait until the 3rd round to finish a number of orders he had for them. Stan got trucks scored again and Mike carts, while scoring for filled order cubes went similarly, Maté on black by a mile, myself for yellow, grey/brown…um, stuff. After this second round I’d stepped into the lead if I remember correctly, although not by much.

In the last round, I aimed to get into second place on horse fulfillments (Maté filled 4 orders by horse so I had no chance of 1st, but 2nd place scores a few points too), and then concentrated on mining for yellow/brown coal for the last rounds scoring of ‘For each empty mine space/type’ – I was winning yellow easily, and Brown by a small amount too – Both were the lower scoring, but still higher than any previous rounds scoring criteria.

In the last round I was able to score most yellow filled, most by train, and most empty yellow/brown spaces, and I also denied Maté a few points by matching his empty grey spaces (He was second in it, and tying pushes us both to ‘3rd’ which is 0 points). I forget the exact amounts each person scores, but Mike/Stan were looking very close, and Maté managed to finish in second place about 10 points back (So it was probably reasonable that I made an extra ~4 point difference with the denial move). Through the power of deduction, you can work out that I won, hooray!

I found Coal Baron to be a very fun game, and one that felt ‘complete’ despite its’ short length. I don’t know that I’d want to play it over and over, but I’m very glad Stan brought it along to show us. I would really like to see the placement mechanism used in a heavier game where there might be more promise of variation from game to game.

Santiago

To follow up from Coal Baron, Mike suggested one of his games to fit into the ~hour we had left of the evening, Santiego. I was hoping to try out Taj Mahal or Village, but there wasn’t really enough time left for either so we went with that suggestion ^^.

The game is played around a rondel (I think). A little wooden car is moved around the action spaces track, and where it stops is what actions are available. Movement is free for 1 space in a turn, but you have to pay money to advance it further around the track to obtain the actions you want.

The standard abilities for each space (Which are randomly placed out so each game would have a different order of abilities to access) are fairly simple, ‘take a couple of cubes’, ‘gain 2VP’, etc, but they also have a coloured flower in one of 4 colours. Across the top of the board are 12 locations, 3 for each colour, which provide more unique actions. When you use the normal space you also move your meeple onto a tile of matching flower colour for an extra effect (Although it has to be unoccupied).

The spaces of those extra things range from gaining money, to changing boat dice to their 0 side, to disabling a building for a round. One of the normal actions lets you ‘seize control’ of one of these special spaces, and this makes it such that each time another player uses that space, you gain 1VP.

But wait, I mentioned a boat. Well, the driving force behind this game is that there’s a cargo boat with randomized demands for the goods you’re gathering. 5 dice (6-Sided but numbered 0-3 or 0-4) are rolled each time it empties, one for each different resource in the game, and 4 of these are placed on the boat to display demand (So there’s always one thing in 0 demand). The last space around the rondel (Before it jumps back to the start through, presumably, witchcraft, as its’ over a bay) is to fulfill demand, and has players take turns giving up to 1 type or resource at a time for VP (Which are 2-4 per good, based on a chart that fluctuates over the game based on what people are doing).

That’s about the game. After 7 shipments of the boat, the game ends and players reveal their scores (You keep resources/scores behind a little cardboard screen, so they’re unknown till this point (Although they’re trackable information if anyone can be bothered).

I’ve got to be honest, this didn’t appeal to me. First of all was the theme, as I’m just not remotely interested in gathering and delivering tobacco and cigars, but also the rondel mechanic. The first time I encountered it was with milestones, and as I recall I found that to be a fun game, but it was the spatial element of how you spread the roads that intrigued me and that was what felt like the core thing. Here, the rondel seems to take the stage, and…bleh, I don’t think I like the mechanic of paying to skip past crap all the time.

The game went pretty smoothly though, and the other 3 at the table (Maté, Mike & Stan) seemed to enjoy it. I seemed to end up with lots of resources and never had anything to do with them, Mike hoarded lots (Apparently, I mean I don’t know what he had but he commented he had too much stuff quite frequently ^^), Maté seemed to have a balance, and seemed to leave me with nothing useful to do a lot.

By the end of the game, I was assuming Mike was in the lead as he seemed to take VP’s a lot (But they were always small amounts), but on the last turn Maté got a ship fulfillment of 4 oranges for 3VP each for 12 points (Over half my score) leaping him way out ahead. Scores were along the lines of 30-something for Mr. Orange, late twenties for Mike & Stan, and 21 for myself.

I think its’ a clever game, but not one for me, and I think I’ll steer clear of any game with a ‘rondel’ core mechanism in the future. (Although as a secondary mechanic I’m sure that it’s fine).

Won one, Lost one, good evening =-)

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.

Hanabi

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

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 ^^.

Carcassonne

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 ^^.

Snowdonia

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…

Hackmaster

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…

Hanabi

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.

Mouseguard

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).

DrunkQuest

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 ^^.

Dread

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!

Pathfinder

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 by..trying..to 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 =-)

Halesowen Board Gamers #23 (27/08/14)

Been a while since I made it to Halesowen! Had a nice holiday away and did a week at a Brighton group then went a little further to play in Cologne (Check the last post before this one if interested in that ^^).

Aaanyhow…

Dead of Winter

This week at Halesowen had myself, Mark & Steve in a 3-Player game of Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game. The setting of the game is after a zombie-apocalypse, but the focus is on Survival, not the post-apocalyptic pests. A game ends when either the main objective (Of 10 to be chosen from in the base-game) is completed, the round track hits 0, or the ever-present and threatening morale track hits 0. Players control groups of survivors, and have a secret-objective that they must complete to win the game alongside the main objective (There is also a 50% chance in each game of someone being a betrayer, who actually wants to make morale hit 0 alongside some other secret objectives).

The story for our game started that we were actually pretty comfortable in the confines of our colony, but the ever-present Zombie threat was interfering with life going on. To win, we had to successfully barricade each location in the town by 1, and get 10 barricades down in the main colony. We also, as with all games, had to keep our colonists fed, keep the zombies out, keep out the trash and constantly fight with the ‘crisis’ which occurs each round and has to be dealt with to avoid negative effects.

At the start of each round, all players roll their action dice (Which is number of survivors they possess + 1 Dice), which are used to perform the main actions that players can take. Next, players take turns where they perform all their actions for that round before play proceeds. Before a player does anything however, the player to their right draws a ‘crossroad’ card, which are sort of story-driving cards that can sometimes trigger if the player does specific things, and are only read out at that time.

On a players turn, they can do some things which require dice, and some which don’t. Those which don’t are generally risky, or are limited by other means (Such as the number of cards a player has). Attack/Search require specific dice results (But you know ahead of time if you can do these, because the roll happens before the turns), while Barricading, Attracting (Pulls Zombies from one location to another) and Cleaning waste just requires using up any die. Without a dice you can Play Cards, Move (Rolling the evil, horrible, nasty exposure die which I’ll mention in a sec), pass equipment, request cards and vote to exile others (I.e. if you think someones a betrayer you can kick them out the colony, although they still get to play).

Some things you do in Dead of Winter require you to roll a special die, the ‘exposure’ die. This 12-Sided die, forged in the depths of mount Mordor, has 6 safe sides, but then 5 sides with wounds (1 or 2 being frostbite, which causes you to then take a wound at the start of every turn – 3 on a survivor and it dies, losing 1 morale for the colony), and 1 side has a bite. A bite is instant death for that survivor, and worse, the bite then spreads to any other survivor at the target location, who can then either suicide to save anyone else, or roll the die again – On a blank the bite effect steps, but on any other result, they die and it spreads again. The result of this? If players push their luck too much, they could literally wipe out the colony and end the game in a single turn, scary stuff!

Aaaanyway, once all players have had a turn, the colony phase begins. This consists of:
1 – Pay Food (1 per 2 survivors in the main colony, or gain a starvation token and lose morale)
2 – Check Waste (Lose 1 morale per 10 cards in the waste pile)
3 – Check Crisis (If enough cards of the right type weren’t contributed…bad stuff happens)
4 – Add Zombies (1 per 2 survivors in the main colony, and 1 per survivor elsewhere)
5 – Check Main objective (Yep…you finally get to check, after the horrible things occur)
6 – Pass Turn Marker.
7 – Round track moves down 1 space.

The Action Session Bit —

So where were we, yes, Barricades! This was a medium length objective, and we had 6 rounds to get it done in. The game started with 12 Zombies at the colony and 1 at all the other locations. Shouldn’t be too difficult – Kill a few Zombies, barricade up and we’re good.

Early on in the game, things looked like they’d go ok (Y’know…just the first turn or so =P). I went first and was able to drop a barricade into the colony & take out a couple of Zombies to clear the way a bit. After I finished my turn I realised I’d totally forgotten to contribute to the colony’s food or the crisis (Which was also for food), oops. I had moved one of my survivors to a non-colony location though reducing the food requirements. Between Steve/Mark they managed to sort out the crisis and food issue, and find some nice items.

By the next turn, things were looking dire for Steve already. (I think it was 2nd turn this happened anyway..), he got some nice items for both his survivors, then lost one of them, leaving a single survivor with night-vision goggles (So he would still have 3 action dice at least). He holed up at the police station for a while then, barricading it up more than we even needed and getting himself a nice weapon for his survivor. Mark got an extra survivor, and not long after so did I, which didn’t help as much as we might have hoped as I think the 2nd crisis was also for food! Having to feed a ton of colonists and still deal with the crisis was looking difficult (Though at least I remembered to use my food this time).

As we went on through the game we triggered a remarkable amount of crossroads cards, considering many are quite specific  – Quite surprising when ‘Active player has survivor x’ triggers when they didn’t start their turn with that survivor (i.e. a random draw from the 30 or so survivors gives them that exact one ^^). A crisis where we needed tools/fuel seemed easy enough, but I was last on the turn and used my fuel to move, then looked at I think 3 cards while searching and found 3 damn food cards! (The thing we were desperate for earlier, but at this particular point we had about double what we needed for the next colony phase). I should have just rolled the exposure dice and put the fuel in, could have avoided getting a morale loss and a starvation token added to the food supply from the crisis (When you can’t feed, you lose morale equal to the number of starvation tokens…)

Edit: I forget when it happened, but somewhere around here I think is when a bite effect occured as a character moved back to the colony (Might have been how Steve got down to 1 survivor actually), which also led to Mark killing one of his to stop it from spreading (A valiant effort…I’d have rolled the die and risked it ^^).

Over the next few turns I ended up with a very healthy amount of survivors (4), Steve remained on his impressive 1 survivor run (I think he got a 3rd piece of equipment too, not sure though) and Mark also got a lot of them. We kind of remembered then that we could have had him request the outsiders to increase his count, and as we’d pretty much surmised we had no traitor would have been a good idea (Mark even got to directly look at mine thanks to a crossroad card for the psychologist). Unfortunately we got to having about 2 rounds left with barely any barricades in the colony (2/10), although most of the non-colony locations were covered…We also had about 1-2 morale left and were struggling to feed, having not been able to add food and using up the double-quantity we had not long before.

Eventually Steve found another survivor, the ninja, but unfortunatey a bit late to help overly much (He did ninja a couple of Zombies though). I lost 1 of mine because I’m an idiot (I let a location overfill with Zombies which causes instant death) although I got it back soon enough. We spent much of the 2nd to last round clearing up spaces to hopefully barricade in the last turn. A stroke of luck with a crossroads card had Steve finding a Guitar and making us all so happy that we gained an action die each for the last round, (So me/mark had 6 and he had 5). The last round was tense, and we managed to get enough zombies down that we almost had time…but fell just short with me using my remaining actions to finish the barricades we needed…but couldn’t deal with the fatal morale-losing problems we had left such that we fell just short of the win.

Astoundingly close, it was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to play again, which I do believe is an opinion shared by Steve & Mark who played too. Next week we’ll hopefully be able to nab another couple of players for a full complement then kick the games proverbial arse…we can only hope.