Tag Archives: Legendary

International Tabletop Day in Halesowen! (05/04/2014)

At least 3 of the games here are new to me or new to the group, so this is a wall-of-text warning! If you already know a game just skip to the last 2-3 paragraphs for how the game went =)

This last Saturday was international tabletop day. On this day, initiated by Geek & Sundry, gamers & non-gamers alike are invited to lay down whatever else they had to do, and instead play, discover and introduce board gamers at public events around the world. The organiser, Dave, of the weekly board games group I attend was able to set up the normal room we have on Wednesday evenings for the whole of Saturday for an event there, where we could go to spend far longer than usual on gaming and could invite friends who might not be able to make the usual time. There’s no way I’d turn down the opportunity, so I went along, bringing my lovely girlfriend Grace and later going and fetching my friend Chris (Who shall henceforth be referred to as Handy due to the name clash!) to join the other awesome people at the group for a whole day of games.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

On arrival with my slightly-more-than-I-should-have-bought games I was greeted with a wonderful sight of the whole room being full of people playing games, which I’m pretty sure is more than I’ve seen before at the group. Most were in for longer games (As we can’t usually do so easily on Wednesdays) but one pair were in a near-to-end game of Glen-More, so we grabbed drinks and waited the few minutes for them to finish before suggesting and jumping into our first game of the day – Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.In Legendary, players are pitted against a Mastermind/Scheme combination that is chosen before each play. The objective of the players (usually) is to build up enough fighting power to defeat the mastermind 4 times, before either the hero deck or villain deck run out (considered a draw) or before the ‘Evil Wins’ text on the Scheme card is fulfilled. Players in the game are playing in a sort of battlefield control position as agents of shield, and will be picking up hero cards throughout the game to have them lend their aid to the battle. When the game starts, players have a number of weak Shield Agents & Troopers, and will be using ‘Recruit Points’ generated by this to recruit heroes from the Headquarters area into their decks to gradually build in power over the game. As well as the recruit points (Which is 1/agent) there is also ‘Fight’, (1/trooper) that can be used to attack villains that’re attacking the city and, ultimately, the mastermind himself.

Each turn, the active player draws a villain card from the villain deck and places it in the rightmost space of the city, moving any villains or henchman already there to the left to make space. If any are pushed off the end of the 5-card track, they ‘escape’ and a card is removed from the HQ, reducing the time the heroes have to gain victory. Villains have 3 things that take effect at various times, ‘Ambush’, ‘Fight’ and ‘Escape’, with the former happening right as the card is drawn, Fight happening when a player fights them, and escape happening if they go off the end of the track in addition to the loss of a hero card. There are 3 other card types in the villain deck, Scheme Twists (Which vary in effect based on the scheme in play), Master Strikes (A special effect unique to the mastermind in play) and Bystanders, hapless onlookers who get carried off by villains unless players rescue them.

Next in their turn, a player will play cards (She/He will have 6, which are drawn at the end of each turn after discarding current turns cards) in the order they wish. For the basic cards like troopers & agents, the order doesn’t matter, but the various heroes in the game have effects that are powered only by other cards already played, so it becomes important to work out the optimal way to play (For example there’s a gambit card that lets you reveal the top of your deck and drawn it if its an x-men hero – If you first use another gambit card ‘Stack the Deck’ you can deliberatey put an x-men hero on top for a successful use of the ability). Then, in any order, players can spend their recruit and fight points to gain heroes/fight villains in the city (You can recruit/fight as many things as you wish if you have enough fight/recruit to do so). At the end of their turn, a player discards any cards still in their hand and that they’ve played, then draws a new hand of 6 cards.

Players keep this up until they’ve fought the mastermind 4 times or lost the game due to the evil wins condition (You can always attack the mastermind if you have enough fight on your turn). Presuming they managed to do the former, the game is over and points are added up (Or possible the ‘Final Showdown’ variant occurs, where players duke it out for a few extra points off the mastermind). The points you get are to determine an individual victory, and are picked up by fighting the villains and mastermind – each player maintains their own victory pile of bad guys they’ve personally defeated (And bystanders they’ve saved), making this a semi-cooperative game as players must work together to win, but ultimiately want to nab more points for themselves if possible.

In our game, we were fighting against Dr Doom, against a scheme taken from my custom-schemes deck, which are mostly from boardgamegeek, which has a loss condition of 15 Bystanders KO’d and has twists KO’ing Bystanders directly off the top the deck (+ any in the city). We played reasonably friendly (Generally my preference ^^) and went for unique decks rather than competing for any in particular. The heroes in play were Electra, Punisher, Professor-X, Wolverine & er, one other. I mostly went for Professor-X, which I made use of to get rid of the more competitive punisher cards from the HQ as well as for fighing bad guys, Grace had a Wolverine Focus, and Rachael/Lee mostly went for the other heroes, although we all dabbled outside our core hero when good cards came up.

We were able to defeat the mastermind after 4 twists had come up (The 5th would have KO’d enough Bystanders to end the game). Everyone had managed to take out at least a few enemies over the game and contributed towards out victory, but as is the nature of semi-coops there were still points to be determined. Near the end of the game I’d had a couple of awesome combo’s in taking out a lot of enemies at once as well as the mastermind a couple of times, but Grace did well throughout the whole game and took victory. We played with final showdown rules, and I think it was Lee that just about won that for the final mastermind card for a few points, although it was not enough to catch him up at this stage. I enjoy this game a lot, with it competing with Smash Up for most played for me, and I love having a deck of custom schemes that’s 2-3 times the amount I have of official ones. On the them of L*y: *, we next moved onto Legacy: Gears of Time!

Legacy: Gears of Time

I think I’ve talked about this time-turning game before, so I’ll try to keep this short! In Legacy: Gears of Time, players are ‘antiquitects’, making use of a time-machine artifact to travel through time and ensure the Legacy of our race remains intact with the greatest of inventions. Over the course of 4 rounds, players travel back through time, play technologies, influence technologies and play ‘fate’ card special abilities to vie for points and ultimate prove themselves the greatest timelord (Um…well that’s how I’m choosing to see it ^^).

Each round is played over 4 turns. During the round players may only travel backwards through time, and due to limitations of how many technologies can be invented in each age, players may find themselves stuck too far back to make the impact they need. This creates an interesting headache-inducing puzzle of how to make sure that the Internet you just tried to introduce in recent history actually has electricity and computers to be successful. Placing technologies requires you to discard cards, so to get that high-scoring Flight card played you may have to sacrifice other useful technologies till a later time, making it harder still to ensure it happens.

At the end of each round is a scoring phase. First, any non-influenced or duplicate technology cards are removed. Next, points are calculated. Each card is checked and points are given to the player who influenced it the most, but also to the players who have the most influence over it’s prerequisite technologies – For example Red controls Space Flight & it’s successful, so she scores 12 points, blue created Flight, so he gets 6 points for space flight too, in addition to the points that flight gives already. The result is that despite bigger, better technologies being worth huge chunks of points, controlling the more simple things is important for the extra points gained when they’re used for other things! (Basic tools for example is worth just 1 point, but there’s 3-4 things that require basic tools and each give it 1 more point). Thirdly influence cubes are removed from each technology – Successful technologies return the influence to players ‘influence pools’, while failed ones return to the supply (So having lots of successful ones helps you influence things more in later rounds).

Confused yet? Well you probably should be, because this game gets beautifully complex while maintaining a fairly simple level of mechanics (If you want railroads to happen, you need to create a combustion engine, if you want a combustion engine, you need the wheel and fire) which are fairly intuitive in their tech tree’s. When you add in that there’s a lot of player interaction in the game through being able to infleuence other players technologies and go back before them to invent them earlier (Making theirs obselete) you have one heck of an awesome game.

In our game, I started with Space flight in hand, as well as a few other cards of lower levels to complete. I would probably have gone for the more basic cards first, but after another player put down Flight as their first technology, I jumped at the chance to put a high-scoring card down and tied myself to trying to make sure everything needed for Space Flight would happen throughout the game. Grace got Genetics fairly early in the game also, while Lee & Rachael had a bigger variety of things to go for, as well as filling in the infrastructure for our high scorers which net them plenty of influence for later in the game. The first 2 rounds went by very friendly, and we got the higher technologies working very quickly with everyone having just the right cards to make it happen. I got out into the lead a bit along with Rachael thanks to Space Flight working from early in the game, although it was giving Lee as many points as it was to me ^^. When the 3rd/4 rounds hit, things got tense, as we could no longer just help each other out due to the constraints of what we had left to invent. I invented another high-up technology, the internet, with Rachael discovering an analytical engine that let it work. A number of other technologies changed hands but for the most part everything stayed intact with the big technologies still working. Thanks to multiple counts of technologies being nicked from under me I went into the last round with only 5 cubes to the 7-9 of the others.

In the 4th round, a lot of under-handed control-switching went on! Grace stole Space Flight from me (That I couldn’t really do anything about as I had so few cubes), leading me to put 1 influence cube on her Genetics and use a fate card that made a tech I influenced worth 0, revenge!

San Marco

This was the ‘new game to me’ of the day, so I’m glad to have been able to try something a little different. San Marco is an area control game with players trying to get the most (aristocrats?) down onto the various islands for scoring. Each turn, half of the players draw 5 (action?) cards and 3 limit cards, then split that hand up before offering it to the other half of the players. As the other player gets first choice, you need to find a balance so that you get what you want. Within each round everyone keeps going until someone hits their limit (10), after which all other players get one addition turn before moving the round marker onwards.

Cards have a variety of actions. First is to just place a cube in the shown territory, in order to vie for majority. Second switches out one opponents in any territory for one of your own. Third is to build bridges, which can hop a cube to another island when placed (Making the first cards slightly stronger as you get choices), 4th is an expulsion card, so you can remove other players cube from a selected territoy (2-5 removed, decided by a dice). Finally there’s the ‘Doge’ (Much wow), when you get this card you can move the Doge piece across any number of bridges and then score him based on who has the most/second-most cubes on the island he ends up on. You have to pay points to use other players bridges, or if he’s on an island with no bridges you can just pay 2 points to move him anywhere.

For our game, we had Mike strike out an early lead on points, while Grace kept pace not much behind and me & Handy lagged way back. Despite not getting a scoring card until the last round, I was ahead of Handy for the most part just from other players scoring Islands with my cubes on in second place. As we were quite far behind, myself & Handy generally did a lot to mess with grace & even moreso with Mike, which catapulted Handy up to near Mikes score. Naturally I started plotting with Grace after as the 2 players at the back, which gave her the chance to push back again. When the game came to end-game scoring (All islands are scored instead of just the ones the doge moves too) I was able to net a ton of points as my poor performance over the rest of the game had led to my having more cubes left on the board than anyone else. Myself & Grace ended up on a tie for first, which resolved to Grace being the victor with control of San Marco.

It was quite fun, but I’m not sure how I feel about how strong the king-making aspects of the game are. It was pretty cool to be able to manipulate how well the other players were doing despite being far behind earlier on, but it also resulted in a lot of sling-shotting on the scoring rather than much consistency. Still, I think this would be a great game for introducing new players to games!

Resistance

As a member of the resistance, it’s up to you to perform missions against the evil government and take them down. Between 4 & 9 others will join you to aid you in those missions, but a number of them have loyalties elsewhere!

As a spy, you and your cadre of traitorous kin have infiltrated the resistance and have been assigned to sabotage their raids. Unlike the resistance, you know exactly who’s on your team and you must work with them to keep the resistance in the dark to succeed at your task!

Anywho, this is a bluffing and deception game of 5-10 players and 2 teams. I struggled for a while on how to talk up how this game goes which is why I went outside the walls of text norml for those lines above ^^. There are 5 missions, each with a different #players requirement, and the first team to get 3 missions go their way are the victors. Each turn one player is denoted the teams ‘leader’, and must find a team to go on a mission with you (Of course you could avoid picking yourself, but why wouldn’t you if you’re a good guy..) to hopefully get a success on the mission track for your team. Once you’ve made your selection, all players vote on if they think it should go ahead, if equal or majority reject, the mission doesn’t go ahead and the leader token is passed around for the next player to build a team to do it instead. If 5 rejects happen in a row then the bad guys automatically win, so a team has to be accepted eventually.

If a majority vote for a mission to go ahead however, then the players in that mission get given a pair of cards – a success and a fail – and choose one to put in for the mission. The cards going in are shuffled (And so are the others to obscure who put in what) and then revealed. If even a single failure card makes it into the mission, then the spies win that round, otherwise the resistance are successful. The mission marker is then moved onto the next and the attempts track is reset to 0 ready for the next mission. As mentioned above, as soon as one team gets to 3 missions their way they win! The great bit about this game then is the deception and bluffing each person much manage to ensure victory for their team. The resistance need to try and prove themselves that way so that they’re accepted on missions, while the bad guys want to do the same, while trying to redirect distrust onto the innocent. A very simple game suddenly becomes hugely complex and interesting!

The unfortunate bit about the game being deeply tied into the discussion it invokes is that it’s really hard to talk about it after the fact! In our game, Myself, Suzy, Mike, Handy, Grace & Mark, all playing resistance members of course (Despite their being 2 spies, what) worked to complete the missions. The spies did well, with 1 being in the first round and letting it pass, and both being in the 2nd round and letting it pass threw a huge spanner in the works as it put them in good stead. The 3rd or 4th also had Suzy and failed, so I was somewhat suspicious of her, but I was totally oblivious to Mikes treachureus nature throughout! After those first 2 passes 3 missions in a row failed with us trusting the pair of them far too much, well done spies!

Resistance vs Resistance Avalon
A couple of people have mentioned not being sure what the different is between these 2 games. Well, for the standard game as we played on Saturday, nothing but the theme, the difference comes in with what things can be added to throw various spanners in the works! In resistance, there are a set of ‘Plot’ Cards (I haven’t played with these yet so not 100% on the following), each time a mission is to be made, the leader of that mission draws one plot card and gives it to a player of their choice. Each plot card has a special effect, such as looking at another players allegiance, or forcing them to play their mission cards face up. The effect of this be that individuals get better information over the game, but the spies have more opportunities for deception (People may trust them more as they know they succeeded a mission or two, but they can still fail the next for example!). I really want to try out a game using these to really get a feel for the effect it has on the game.

In Avalon, you instead get ‘roles’. These are similar in that individual players get abilities, but they’re instead tied to the allegiance card players receieve at the start of the game. The main two are Merlin & the Assassin. Merlin is a good guy, but knows who all the bad guys are, and the Assassin is a bad guy that, if he/she can guess who Merlin is at the end of the game can win the game for the bad guys despite what else has happened. This has a huge impact on the game, as the bad guys get a big focus on trying to work out Merlin, Merlin has to do his best to stay hidden while also pushing for good teams for missions, and the other good guys need to try and trick the bad guys that they are in fact the real Merlin players! Those 2 are used pretty much every game, but there’s more such as Percivil (Good, knows who Merlin is), Mordred (Bad guy, hidden from Merlin), Oberon (Bad, knows noone) and Morgana (Bad, Reveals to percivil as Merlin). I think Avalon has the better system, but picked up resistance as I’ve not tried it and Coup is in the same universe ^^.

Smash Up

In Smash Up, players choose 2 factions from a variety of uniquely themed possibilities, then ‘Smash them up’, i.e. shuffle them together to make their deck of cards to play with. In our game on Tabletop Day, Grace had Robot Pirates, Handy had Trickster Plants, I had Steampunk Elder Things & Mike had Alien Zombies to vie for superiority.

The aim is Smash Up is to have the most points, with the end of the game being triggered when one player hits 15 points. Points are gained by placing minions out on various ‘base’ cards that are drawn at random and laid on the table. Each minion has a power rating, and when the power of all minions on a base reaches or exceeds that bases ‘breakpoint’, it will score, giving points to 1st/2nd/3rd more powerful contributor. In addition, each base has a special effect that comes into play, such as ‘Each time you play a minion here, you may play another minion of power 2 or less’, or ‘After this base scores, return the highest power minion for each player to the bottom of its’ owners deck’.

Each turn, a player may play 1 minion and 1 action from their hand in any order. Most cards have instantaneous effects, but some also have ongoing, (Permanently doing something) talent (May use this once on each of your turns) or special abilities (At some specific time, usually ‘Before a base is scored’ or ‘After a base is scored’. Once they’re done with their turn, bases are checked for breaking, with any that have power at their breakpoint triggering to capture (At this point, players can play ‘before this base is scored’ cards – even if this makes the base go under the breakpoint, it will still score now). Scores are then distributed to the players with the most power, in the case of a tie, both players score the higher amount of points.

Some factions (Cthulhu ones) have another mechanic called ‘madness’. Some cards in these decks cause players to draw madness cards into their hand. Each madness card is identical, with the ability ‘Draw 2 cards or return this card to the madness deck’, and are worth -1VP at the end of the game (So even though you ended the game by getting to 15, you might actually have less than that when checking scores), as a result, it’s good to try and spend actions to get rid of madness cards if at all possible – Though the draw 2 cards ability might also be enticing.

As far as our game goes, I’m not sure what to bring up as it’s quite a tactical game with little long terms strategy (Which is fine for a 30-60 minute game ^^). I did very poorly, as I was unable to get enough minions out onto the field to get many points – I did manage to use my Elder Thing twice (10 power minion, unaffected by other players cards), but doing so requires destroying 2 of my other minions which led to the ‘nothing much out there’ situation ^^. I was also only able to get my powerful ‘Everyone else draws 2 madness cards’ near the end of the game so didn’t get much opportunity to spam it (Which I could have done with steampunk). The finally nail in the coffin is that the other players were being frustratingly ‘friendly’ in going for different bases more than competing – Some of my minions have effects such as ‘Each other player at this base draws a madness card’, which is powerful…If I can hit more than one person at a time.

The other players fared somewhat better, with mike picking up on how to effectively use the aliens to farm VP quickly (Place invader for instant VP, retrieve to hand, rinse-repeat), which is strong in that noone can stop you from doing it (Particularly with Zombies where you can retrieve from discard even if it’s killed) – I think his only mistake here was in retrieving it the same turn as placing it, as leaving it out to be killed would actually have been beneficial as Zombies benefit from minions in the discard pile. Handy did reasonably well and I think was roughly on par with Mike for points, while Grace raced into the lead as the ‘friendly’ nature I mentioned of little competition for bases also meant Grace build up powerful robot combo’s over multiple turns, instead of needing to find ways to do it in one. Grace took home a tidy victory by the end of the game.

Among The Stars

Among the Stars is an excellent Card-Drafting game, with mechanics akin to 7-Wonders in choosing cards, but in my opinion going far above-and-beyond with variable setups, variety among cards, and lack of silly icons to represent everything. In this game players are building Space Stations, which they build off of their Main-Reactor that they start with, to vie for the most points and the best station. Each player in the game gets a race that provides some special ability over the course of play and while they have small impact, can help to give some direction in how to build.

Each turn in Among the Stars has players choosing a card from their hand, building it (Or discarding for an action), then passing the rest of their cards onto the next player (Clockwise first year, Anticlockwise second, etc). To build a card, the cost in the top right is paid (Generally just credits, but sometimes power also) is paid to the supply, and the card is placed adjacent to any existing location in their station. Each card has an ability, described on the card, that provides either an instanenous bonus (white background) or delayed bonus (yellow background) as well as a direct point value (Delayed bonuses are calculated at the end of the game). Alternatively they can discard for an action, which is either take 3 coins, or build a power reactor (A cost of 1 coin location that provides 2 power). I should also mention that power is an area-limited resource, in that it can only pass 2 distance by adjacency, so to build power-hungry locations on the edge of a station first requires some power reactors built in the right positions.

Each year, players take 10 credits and 6 new cards from the deck. All 6 cards are used over the year either to build or for actions, which means stations get quite large and complex, making for an interesting puzzle in making best use of the abilities on the cards used. The 10 credits each year are quite tight, so it’s likely played will need to discard for coins a few times in a game if they want to be able to build the higher scoring locations in the game.

In addition to the above are a few extra elements to add in when players know what they’re doing. First is objectives (Which can be added first game really, but we had a high player-count and a time-limit on Saturday ^^), a few of these are drawn at the start of the game and placed face-up in the middle of the table – At the end of the game, these are checked and given to the player that fulfilled the conditions on each (Such as most military locations, or least power reactors). Next is conflict cards, which I still haven’t played with despite playing the game an absolute ton – These provide additional discard-actions that introduce higher levels of player interaction in the game, with the set in the base game letting you take one to compare a specific location type in your station to another players and stealing points off them accordingly (I don’t think they’re hard to use, I just haven’t felt a need for super-heavy player interaction, would be nice to try it though!).

Also not used on Saturday is additions from the Ambassadors expansion. This expansion introduces ‘ambassador’ cards, which also introduce an escalation style akin to 7 wonders ages where ‘1st phase’ cards are used in years 1/2 and ‘2nd phase’ cards in 3/4, with the latter being more tilted towards point scoring and the former towards building an engine (Note that even with the standard cards, the game escalates anyway as the configuration of each players station opens up possibilities for each card built). 3 ambassadors are made available at all times to players, and when discarding for an action a player can ‘buy’ one of the ambassadors, inviting them to their station. To do so they place one of 5 ‘bureau’ cards in their station and then keep the ambassador card in front of them to use over the game (The bureaus are no-effect locations in each of the 5 colours/types, which can be good to complete delayed abilities such as ‘build a 2×2 of purple/recreational locations’). Many ambassadors have player-interaction aspects, and are an awesome addition that I’ve played with a few times and look forward to introducing more frequently as I get more players into knowing the game. (There are also new locations and conflict sets with ambassadors, the former of which I just use in every game for variety).

Our game on Saturday was the last of the evening, with Myself, Grace, Handy, Ian & XYZ(Mark?) playing. After a messy start thanks to the cards not being quite stored properly, I got the game set up (With help for shuffling/sorting ^^) and ready for the 5 player game. One of my favourite parts of Among the Stars is seeing the different configurations people come up with, My station was pretty haphazard, partly thanks to my use of a section seal where I had to split my station in two to most effectively score points, and partly due to tireness ^^. Ians on the other hand was very tight, and revolved around a 4×4 square he’d built for his 2 racetrack locations, with the other 3 being other totally different shapes. Through the game everyone was fairly even (Although Handy dropped back quite far at one point, seemingly to do nothing but get piles and piles of credits, likely as his race let him score 1 point per 2 at the end of stead of 1 point per 3), with everyone having a neat mix of delayed vs immediate abilities (Objectives tend to mix that up more ^^). In the end, Ian struck out into the lead, with myself in second and the others in er..positions that you can see on Dave’s blog ;).

I had an absolutely fantastic day, and I look forward to opportunities to do the same again in times to come. Many thanks go to everyone involved, organizers and the rest of you there to play alike! In fact after playing games all day, myself, Handy & Grace went back to mine and played another game, also getting my housemate Ken involved!

DrunkQuest

Yes, that’s right, we played a drinking game, a gloriously ridiculous and punishing one at that! DrunkQuest is a game that takes very obvious inspiration from Munchkin, but presents it in a format that’s considerably more fun, and that works great for well, consuming large quantities of drink. The game comes with oversized cards that make for each reading, with there being 3 different types – Player cards, Treasure cards & Monster cards.

At the start of each game, each player takes from the player deck a random hero and either a ship to captain or realm to command. Their hero has a +/- ability that they can use as actions in the game to perform a unique effect, and the ship/realm have an ongoing ability of some kind (The ships are slightly more complex, as you have to ‘load’ them with treasures to active the ability, with you also being able to ‘fire’ the cannons with to give people drinks). Each player then draws 5 treasure cards and a first player is chosen, and the game begins.

Each round, a monster is drawn for the active player. A monster will have some effect and a ‘drink’ value required to defeat it. All players then get a chance to modify that value by playing actions – The active player gets an action, then each other player in turn gets an action, and finally the active player gets one more action before the ‘fight’ commences and well…someone drinks copious amounts of alcohol. Also, at any time players can play ‘instant’ cards, such as ‘copper – choose someone to take a drink’, ‘gold – everyone takes 3 drinks’ or other more interesting effects.

It was the second time I’ve played it on Saturday (The first being on my Birthday at the end of last year), and we had an absolutely excellent time with it! Throughout the game, asides from having many, many beers, we had a number of status effects going around (Which we didn’t play with the first time as they were bonus material from the kickstarter that I wasn’t sure about). Highlights being a ‘compliment’ effect that made my housemate compliment how great someone is every time they beat a monster, ‘vampirism’ that I played on him as soon as he cleaned the compliment effec, making him talk like a vampire to avoid drinks, a cat card that requires Handy to meow before and after every sentence and a number of others besides, on top of the standard modify-drinks and fight monsters mechanics. I wasn’t able to do particularly well over the game, only getting to level 3 (6 wins) while the others were on level 5 for a good amount of time before Handy won, but I guess that probably means I had less to drink ^^. Love it!

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Weekly Gaming 26/02/2014 (+ Halesowen #5)

I usually try and write up Halesowen within a couple of days, but I seem to have been busy a lot of the week and it’s taken me some time to do it. As a result I rolled it into my ‘weekly gaming’ post instead ^^. Apologies about the incoming colossal walls of text but lots of gaming happened this week!

Wednesday – Halesowen Board Gamers

At Halesowen last week I got to introduce 3 new players to Viticulture. I’ve talked about the game in previous posts so I’ll save you the introduction to what it’s about, but suffice to say I really love this game and think the mechanisms are highly thematic and hugely enjoyable. In fact the expansion is being kickstarted on the 12th march which I’m looking forward to, it will be interesting to see how this one goes as Jamey (The designer) is looking to stop using exclusives in his campaigns, something which is often believed to draw a lot of backers in.

Our game started off with players looking a bit too far ahead and trying to think about how they’d get their orders filled, while I appreciate the reasoning it’s interesting seeing what people go for to try and make it happen before realising that it’s going to take a few years to get their vineyards up and running. Mike Started with a cottage, which was set to give him a lot of options throughout the game, although perhaps too many for a first time round (There was a lot of time spent trying to work out what he could manage with the huge number of options ^^). I also got a cottage, as I feel it’s extremely powerful, with a tasting room and Irrigation being other early buildings I saw (Don’t remember who had them, it was a week ago sorry! ^^).

As we got through the game all players managed to get a reasonably well running system, with 2 of the new players being ahead of me for a while in the game. I spent a lot of time building up and let a lot of grapes/wines sit and age throughout the game for a rush later on (A bit cheeky really as new players don’t really know to do so) of orders. The game actually ended very close between me and Mike, with me being able to hit all the way up to 25 in the final year (I think) and Mike hitting 22 that same year by managing his cards effectively. John came third with 17 and Ian with 10, not quite being given enough time to capitalize his vineyard. It was a good game, although this is a very poor report as I’ve been too busy to get it done earlier!

We finished up with a game of Carcassonne with Me, Ian & Mike as John had to head off. The game went by fairly friendly, although in an absolutely haphazard layout as I was doing some silly placements to try and nab features and take points off the others (Mainly off Mike). In the end as it turns out that was probably pretty stupid, as I left myself trailing in 3rd place with ian 2nd & Mike taking the lead with his French-city building experience proving superior ^^.

Thursday – Games with Mum

On Thursday I went to my parents house for the evening, and took along Caverna to introduce it to my Mum, who bought it for me as a late Christmas present. While an intimidating looking game with a crazy amount of components she was up for it nonetheless so I got it set up after dinner and dived into teaching her how it all works. I’ve got to compliment my Mum here as she’s absolutely amazing at listening to and picking up the rules to games, and while it clearly had her a bit confused managed to work everything out in no time at all (Better than many people who play board games all the time and not just when their son pesters them to ^^).

I usually go for weapons and adventuring for my dwarves, but decided on this occasion to go for a farming route. Mum opted to go for weapons and push for adventurers, spending the first couple of turns excitedly wanting to know how to get her dwarves geared up while getting tiles out into her fields/cave a little bit. While I got myself some wheat planted nice and early, Mum got herself a level 3 adventurer as soon as able and got to work leveling him up. I must have not emphasized feeding enough as at the first harvest she struggled with food and had to take a beggar token to keep her dwarves alive, but this helped her get the gist of the challenges in managing what you should plan for in this game.

Once I’d got my farm in a good state (grain, vegetables and all animal types) I focused for a little while filling in my Cave and having some Dwarven newborn. Mum got her adventurer high enough to furnish caverns and got herself a slaughtering cave before deciding to go for a 3rd dwarf, at this point she asked an…er…interesting question “Why can’t I keep my newborn dwarf in the slaughtering cave”, while perhaps not in those exact words I found it pretty hilarious and explained that she needed a dwelling ^^. She also managed by this point to get her fields well planted with grain and vegetables making her troubles with feeding absolutely no more.

At the end of the game I’d gotten a well built farm and cave (Although it was lacking in mines) with many animals that net me a lot of points. I’d also capitalized on a heavily built up ore spot and taken the ore-storage to net 9 points from that. My Mum had a well balanced finish with an ore mine in her Cave and 2-4 of each animal, as well as plenty of grain & vegetables on the side, but lacking in VP furnishings (I didn’t buy any at all my first game so the slaughtering cave itself was a cool thing to see ^^). The score was 60-34 in the end, and I look forward to playing again. I suspect a couple of games down the line and she could trounce me, so maybe just one more before I introduce her to something else ;).

Friday – UoB Tabletop Society

On Friday at UoB tabletop we played Space Cadets for the first time. I got the game recently at a great price through the UK Math trade, and was excited to get the opportunity to try it out with 4 of us. I don’t know if we did a single rule correct, but this was an absolute blast and I look forward to my next opportunity to play, which will be after much watching of video’s and trying to figure out everything to be able to teach people in less than an hour+ ^^. In Space Cadets, players take the part of different members of the crew of a spaceship, performing their individual & unique tasks to try and come together and complete missions. The actual tasks that have to be done are fairly simple, but you get a very limited amount of time to do them! A timer is used throughout the game giving 30 second blocks for players to simultaneous work on their stuff, hopefully to the benefit of everyone.

The roles in the game consist of the Captain, who does little but flip the timer; Engineering, which involves laying tiles carc-style to generate and distribute energy; Tractor Beams, which means flipping tiles to try and grab nearby objects; Weapons, who has to load missiles with tetris-pieces and grids, then fire them by disc-flicking; Shields, which involves making poker hands to get energy to the various sides of the ship; Jump, to ready the ship and get it prepped to jump out of the system when the mission is complete; Helm, who has to navigate the ship across a map using limited movement cards, and try not to hit too many asteroids and leave the ship overy exposed, and Damage Control, which is for tracking damage to the ship and trying to repair it with a set of rather dubious success-rate cards.

Everything comes together in the game in a hugely hectic mashup where people try so hard and still struggle to complete their deceptively simple bits and pieces. We spent a long while fumbling our way through space achieving little but to take damage before we finally managed to tighten the reigns a little to take out some enemies, but it was oh so satisfactory when we did! We had to leave before finishing the mission, but had grabbed 2/3 crystals and killed half the enemies by that time, so I’m calling that we could have done it despite our half destroyed ship. Huge amount of fun and I look forward to playing this gem some more on games days to come, and perhaps it’s sequel dice-duel that sounds even more fun ^^.

Sunday – Zombicide Games Day

Sunday this week me, Grace & Handy got together to play some games at my house. A couple others were interested but couldn’t make it so we went ahead and three muskateered it. The first game played, which I picked up from the UK Math Trade was Carcassonne, a tile-laying game where players manage their small supply of meeples to try and gather as many points as possible before every tile is used up. There are 4 places you can put meeples (Done when you place a tile) – Fields, which get 3 points/completed city at end game, Cities, that are worth 2-4 points per tile when completed, or half at end of game, Roads, which are just worth 1 point per tile, and cloisters, which are worth one point + 1 for each surrounding tile. The latter 3 of those give you back the meeple (You have 7) when finished off, so you get them back available for other tasks.

Our game went by in a relatively friendly fashion, with minimal nabbing of each others stuff. We got some pretty large cities as we went by but ultimately everything seemed to come down to fields that are worth a ridiculous amount of points. I think I may have won but I don’t really remember, it was a cool looking board after though!

We followed up with Zombicide, which was the main aim of the evening as it rarely comes out (due to length) but everyone loves to play it. We went for a mission in the Prison Outbreak book, #6 I think, where we started with a split party in a prison, with one group trying to open security doors to reunite the party, before the other group get swamped by the spawn zones which are all in their half of the prison. We achieved the first task fairly quickly and all was seeming well, so we added an extra objective that we had to take the extra objectives in order to escape (We could have ignored them). As it turned out it was a real challenge fighting our way down there, as the 2 spawns surrounding that location were a real pain to deal with. Half our party started with dogs however, and these proved to be invaluable in dealing with threats early on, as well as improving Handy’s melee attacks to a silly level when he found a chainsaw. Grace managed to get a sniper rifle together which she made good use of to clear the way of toxics so my dog could melee and our other characters could move a little more freely.

During the game, we had a good number of Abominations come out (4-5 maybe) which I was able to deal with in short order with Brad as I had a 3 damage revolver to one shot them all. We were playing with a custom abominiation rule I made where they get extra abilities as you advance through danger levels (Starting off easier, ending harder) which worked out exactly as I’d hoped, in that it removed the feeling of ‘Guess we’d better search for the next 20-turns’ that they used to come with (Though ironically we got an early molotov anyway). Handy almost opened up the far side of the prison before we were probably ready to deal with it, but came into line as we needed a hand getting to the objective to open the exit door before he released the horde (To get out, you have to open a security door that also opens a ton of cells). By this point we were strong enough to tear through these enemies, and I think every character got up to red level to play with ultra-red weapons we’d had wasting inventory space until this moment. Grace & Handy opted to stick around in the prison a little to play with their new-found guns while I started clearing up ^^. This game is an absolute ton of fun and it’s a shame we don’t get to play it more often (On the other hand it would be a shame to never play other things if we did try to force it every game night). Till next time Zombicide!

We were a little lighter afterwards, breaking out Smash Up, a game that I think all 3 of us enjoy a’plenty. In our first game of this I was Elder Things + Aliens, Handy was Carnivorous Plants + Dinosaurs & Grace was Pirate + Ninjas. I never got the Shoggoths throughout the game which I think helped, as I usually get myself hung up trying to place the damn things, instead I managed to chain my cards well to throw a ton of madness at my opponents. Handy made good use of drawing a lot but ended up using most actions removing madness, & Grace made do quite well but had a very hostile pair of factions that didn’t get enough opportunities to grab points. I think I took victory by the end although it was close and decided by the madness in Handy’s deck.

In our second game, we cthulhu’d up a little more and had Me as Wizard Cultists, Handy as Local Zombies & Grace as Miskatonic Bear Cavalry. Wizards worked really well with cultists as I didn’t feel as much strain in getting rid of the madness they generate as usual, although I still failed to really achieve anything with them. Handy’s locals managed to get everywhere in crazy stacks, and Grace managed to use her bears to have strong control over the battlefield. In the end Handy won, with me coming dead last (Woohoo for the metagame of screw the last winner) and Grace in second place, good game!

To finish up the evening I got to introduce Grace & Handy to Legacy: Gears of Time. I’ve tried to hint at it a lot recently but for reasons unbeknownst to me most people just aren’t attracted to it, I guess they assume timey-wimey + board games = bad ^^. They gave it a chance though and we got to travelling through time screwing with the normal order of invention to no end to make our Legacy’s superior to our opponents. It’s an interesting game in how it really gets you thinking about how to make bigger, higher scoring technologies come into effect while keeping the lower ones under your control to stop them fizzling into non-existence (Which invalidates the higher ones!). In our game I got a lot of points early, but had Handy manage to leapfrog me and deny me a ton of points in the later rounds. Grace got the unfortunate end of having people steal her technologies and didn’t quite manage to catch up, although I think it could have been even closer! Both enjoyed it so I’m happy to have got it out =)

Tuesday – Gameses

My friend Chris Harrison came around on Tuesday evening for a couple of games. He agreed to Viticulture, as I’ve been wanting to try out some more stuff with it and we made the game a whole lot more complex in the process. I enjoyed it thoroughly and managed to net a lot of points, but I don’t think it was much fun for Chris, which seems to be a recurring theme among my Uni friends with this game (Which is a shame as I love it).

Following that up we got out Legendary by Chris’s suggestion. I’ve not played in a while as I felt pretty burned out on it, but seeing as a good number of my friends have said they really love it I decided it needs to start hitting the table again (Plus seeing as he didn’t enjoy Viticulture it only seemed fair ^^). I’m glad we did so, as with a custom scheme I got from the variant forums the game felt refreshed and challenging. We were fighting Dr. Doom, with the caveat that we weren’t allowed to fight him when more than 2 villains were in the city and every scheme twist increased his strength by 1 (8 twists). In addition the villain deck was just 3 villain groups, making them tough to deal with at all. There was 5 twists out before we could even hit the mastermind! Fortunately I got some lucky draws from Gambit’s ‘Reveal top, if X-men draw it’ despite him being by only x-men in my deck and managed to net a few turns where I could take our Doom as we neared the end. I think we were 3 villain cards from losing when I finally took him down a final time. Harrison’s blade focused deck turned out not to work as well against this scheme as it might on others letting me take the individual victory. We saved the world though, wooh! (Or whatever the schemes name was…may have forgotten, ^^).

So that’s my last week in games, which seems to have been quite intense judging from the amount I’ve written! Apologies to anyone from Halesowen that reads that it took me a whole week to get around to writing it up ^^. Thanks for skimming! (C’mon…like you read all that ;))

Weekly Update #2 – Halesowen Board Gamers & Euphoria

So, in the first 8 days that I’ve owned Euphoria, I’ve played 7 times. I think that’s definitely the sign of a great game! In this post I plan to Summarize how they’ve gone, mention a few other games played and generally cheer that I found a new tabletop society to go to on Wednesdays!

Back on Wednesday last week I got my first couple of plays done in the evening. Some friends came over, so we have me, Chris, Chris & Adam. Or by initials CJS, CJH, CJH…Er..Me, Handy, Harrison & Adam, lets go with that. I got explanation out of the way pretty quickly and we got into our games and had a lot of fun. Adam found a great tactic quite early and managed to pull ahead with his Icarus allegiance and win the first game. In the second game things felt a bit tighter with us knowing rather than guessing what we were doing, Harrison managed to make good use of recruits and take the lead. I had ‘lose a worker’ recruits in at least one of the games and well, losing a worker hurts!

On Friday I went along to the UoB tabletop society for just the 1 game of Euphoria before I headed back home to join friends who wanted to play Battlestar Galactica. In the game of Euphoria I got asked a lot more questions this time, which I think was because my thematic explanation was a bit fractured and made people ask a lot of questions about it, which is a bit frustrating when it doesn’t actually affect the game. Anyway people had a lot of fun and Ian commented that he wants to play again sometime (Harrison won again, as he was about too and enjoys the game ^^). The game of battlestar galactica afterwards was quite fun, but to be honest I find the length of the game too much, when you consider how heavy the landslide is when the second round of loyalty cards goes out – I don’t enjoy going from ‘a chance’ to ‘haha you’ve lost’, but what can you do…:(

I had another game of Euphoria, this time with 2, on the 7th. I had a lot less fun this game but fortunately I managed to work out the reason afterwards which was an incorrect rule! We were doing the markets wrong so they weren’t really contestable, which meant the winner of the game was obvious a long time before the end and took out all the tension. No problems as correcting the rule makes it better. In the evening me, Grace, and my housemates Ken & Ruth had games of Dixit (Ken Won), Timeline (Ruth Won) and Love Letter (Ruth Won), there’s not much I can say about these as they’re pretty straightforward games, but we had a lot of fun!

On Sunday I played games of Legendary & Forbidden Desert with Ken in the day, and Euphoria 2 player with Grace in the evening. Forbidden Desert we absolutely kicked ass, winning with no worry of things going wrong at all (I didn’t even have to visit a water location, thanks to finding a canteen along the way). In Legendary we beat up Mephisto despite his valiant efforts to open Portals to the dark dimension, with Ken punching his face a few more times than me and taking the victory. With Euphoria in the evening I won the first game, as a result of Grace missing a rule that I didn’t pick up on (How the numbers on commodity locations work). The game after Grace took victory with me not too far behind, so at this point I’d pretty much lost 5/5 as I discounted the game before where only I knew how to play properly ^^.

On Monday/Tuesday I did something related to board games but not playing them! I recorded a ‘run through’ of the game in the hope that people can watch it and learn to play the game – Something I much prefer doing as opposed to reading rulebooks (Well, I read those too, but it’s hard to match rulebook to actually playing sometimes ^^). Monday was just a few failed attempts, and on Tuesday I got a whole video recorded (40 minutes!) with just a couple of breaks when people came into the room as I couldn’t bring myself to keep going when that happened ^^. I got the video posted overnight and some great feedback from the Euphoria forum on boardgamegeek yesterday, positive feedback in fact! I’m so happy that people liked the video as now I’m super-motivated to do more.

Halesowen Board Gamers

Well, this wasn’t any longer than any of the other sessions I had, but this is a new society I came across that I’m quite excited about! This group meet up every Wednesday evening in an upstairs room in a pub, which is really well lit and has lots of room, not to mention being remarkably quiet. I’m so glad to have found it and taken the chance as being a pub I was unsure ^^.

I took Grace & Harrison with me as I love playing games with them and partly because I wanted people I know there for confidence reasons ^^. I had Euphoria with me so I suggested that and after a short while found a couple of people to join me and Grace for a game while Harrison went off to play Power Grid (Which I believe he enjoyed). I got a bit focused on my own strategies in Euphoria to know what the other 3 were going for, but with a recruit that let me use any resource for construction sites I focused on construction of markets. As a result I made a lot of use of the Euphorian tunnel and had a beautiful stack of gold to work with. Thanks to limiting other players actions by the market negatives I was pushing out, and perhaps by finally having grasped the way the game works, I took the victory by a few points lead!

Afterwards me, Grace & the other 2 (James & Jamie I believe was their names) played a game of King of Tokyo as we needed something fairly quick to fill the time. While the others tried to balance going into Tokyo and getting other things, I just sat back and went for points with no idea if it was a good plan. Apparently it was, as after 20 minutes or so 2 of the other players had wiped themselves out, with the last being in Tokyo with 2 health. For the first time in the game I just went straight for damage and got the 2 I needed to take the win. Yay!

Fun Week! I hope things continue being this packed with gaming ^^.

Custom Board Game Stuff #2 – Legendary

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

Legendary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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