Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mage Knight: The Board Game City Reference Cards

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Fantasy Quest January 2015 update – New year, new direction!


Happy New Year to all of you who’ve been following this game and I hope 2015 is going to be awesome for you!  And to any of you who have stumbled upon this at a later date, well… Hi there, how’s tricks?
Anywho.
Let’s get this out of the way then:

After over 2 years with no game produced my contract with Indie has now ended. 
Fantasy Quest will NOT be produced by Indie Boards and Cards.

To remain philosophical I’ll not go into detail on the reasons for this suffice to say it’s disappointing, predictable, and also a relief to regain the game rights actually.  And the last 2+ years haven’t been entirely wasted as I’ve been able to continue development of the system.

So where does this leave the game?

Well, I could continue trying to hawk Fantasy Quest to different publishers, but it’s a very niche game, and publishers of this type of game tend to already produce their games in-house.  And of course it could all end in another years-long wait with no game at the end.
As for crowd-funding, I could try something like indiegogo, but I’d need a prolific and dedicated artist, a printing partner like Printer Studio, and oodles of time away from my full time job, family, etc. to run the campaign.
And there’s always the third option: leave it as PnP and call it a day.

Whatever happens, I’m staying positive.  We still have 160+ Fans and 30,000+ hits on boardgamegeek, and another few hundred thousand hits on my blog.
So, happy gaming all and please have a brilliant 2015!  :)



Tristan



PS.  How cool was Battle of Five Armies??



Friday, December 12, 2014

No more games - play what you’ve got! Part 8, Mythical Warfighting

Part 1: No more new games - play what you’ve got!

Part 2, Return of the Living Deck Builders

The Not Nearly As Thumbed Part 3, Hang On – Some Of These Aren’t Even On The List

Part 4, But You Can’t Just Throw Away Gifts, Obviously…

Part 5, Part 5, Fortune and Zombies, Kid

Part 6, MISSION FAILED!!!  I BOUGHT NEW GAMES!!!

Part 7, Stop buying new games - remember?!



I’ve supposedly * banned new games from being purchased in 2014 to allow us a year to play through all the games we’ve already got.  If a brilliant, must-have game emerges this year I’ll just have to wait to see if it survives a few months of fair reviewing and the cult of the new to become a lasting classic, and if so I should theoretically have no problem picking it up in 2015 anyway.  

*  Actually failed though, see part 6 above.


Play what I’ve got, eh?  Well, thanks to my most recent failings and new purchases what I’ve got isn’t all old games now, and of course the allure of the Cult of the New is undeniable.  So whilst I might have WANTED to continue playing through our list of games and trying to actually finish this year’s quest to play all the games we own, what we actually ended up doing is playing with all the shiny new stuff instead.  

Interestingly, our little regular two player gaming combo has recently expanded to between 4 and 5 regular players, which really mixes up what games we play, and has basically indefinitely shelved 2 player games like Twilight Struggle.

So here’s the list of Willpower Fails/New Arrivals this year (so far):

1. Friday
2. Greenland
3. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
4. Shadowrun: Crossfire
5. Warfighter: The Special Forces Card Game

The only one I haven’t even played yet is Greenland, which looks interesting and very different from my usual fare - the others have already proven to be great games.
And here’s some more Faintly Justified New Arrivals:

6. Advanced HeroQuest (traded for my old Advanced Space Crusade)
7. Eldritch Horror (birthday present)
8. X-Wing Miniatures Game (birthday present)
9. Innovation (gift from Dicky P)
10. Myth (technically backed previous to this year so that’s okay)
11. Shadows of Brimstone (technically backed previous to this year so that’s okay too)

Seems like there’s no hope of completing my mission to play everything by the end of 2014 now, but hey, stay subscribed anyway, because, you never know…



Myth

We should not really technically be playing this yet because it’s not on The List for this year, but my Kick Starter Captain pledge finally arrived and it’s an absolute behemoth!  Can’t believe how many minis you get – there was no way it was going to all fit back in the box.  There are also a quadrillion tokens, so storage is quickly an issue.  I do feel sorry now for those who buy this at retail, but I guess just two enemy types only is what you get in Claustrophobia and that’s a great, contained game.  

The horrors I’d heard about the rules put me off sitting down and trying to figure Myth out, and the caustic negativity surrounding the game in the BGG forums was so intense that for probably the first time ever I didn’t even want to turn to the forums for help.  That said, Dave, a friendly fellow BGGer came to our aid.  Turns out he lives just around the corner from me, backed Myth at mega Apprentice level, had already figured out the rules AND got his own campaigns going, and he offered to teach us how to play.  So it was the he (Acolyte) sat down with Sam (Apprentice) and me (Soldier) to wander into the homes of some grubbers, muckers and crawlers and set about attempting to mercilessly slaughter them all, as with any good old dungeon crawler.

And since you can create your own difficulty on the fly, we only have ourselves to blame for the merciless slaughter that actually ended up being inflicted on us!  Our first tile went okay, and we were bashing monsters and picking up GP and potions but also gathering some threat.  But on the second tile everything went downhill.  The darkness struck back, and captains started appearing and before long Sam’s Apprentice was overrun and taken down, so we called it a day.  We all enjoyed it, and I was pretty happy with the experience, seeing a lot of potential in the game.  I’ve since set up my own copy and played through two solo run-throughs of the downloadable walkthrough scenario using the Soldier and Acolyte.  But both times I was slaughtered when Yarrdu showed up once and the Terror showed up the next time.  Judging the difficulty of this game is as difficult and random as I feared I think.  I certainly don’t see the ’just make it up’ aspect that they were pushing as any kind of feature at all, and this was the one element I was dreading.  So I’ll have to play it a bit more to be able to judge that difficulty level accurately and respond accordingly.  I wish they had played it enough to round out some missions that introduce you gradually, especially since they’ve included a form of campaign play in the way that you ‘level up’ the treasure bag.  Again, another missed opportunity – I’m fairly sure most players are more interested in progressing their hero abilities more than they are in altering an abstract notion of how much treasure their hero may or may not collect in the next adventure.

The rules are as abysmal as every other commentator has noted, and I’ve since read the fanmade rules to try and digest the gameplay.  He’s done a sterling job of parsing them down, but they’re still so damned unintuitive at their core that even Universal Head would have his mind blown trying to create a player aid for this game.  Which is a shame, because there does seem to be an enjoyable adventure romp underneath all this murky mental swamp.  And the miniatures and tiles are really top notch, way better than I was expecting even.  Hope to table this again some time soon, and at least beat that bloody walkthrough…

Players = 3
Games played in 2014 = 3
Rating in 2014 = 7






Warfighter: The Special Forces Card Game

Wow. Just wow.  Game of the year 2014?  Right here.
Finally and probably permanently but the kybosh on my development of my own squad-based action card/board game Oh Dark Hundred.  I only design games that I want to buy or play which don’t already exist.  But glancing at my design notes for ODH it looks like I’ve literally just lifted everything from DVG’s Warfighter but without any of the finishing touches or polish.  Which kind of makes sense since the idea came to me after playing quite a lot of Phantom Leader Deluxe on the iPad.  A cooperative, squad-based, tactical card game shooter where you gear up your elite troops and send them up against overwhelming odds to defeat an objective behind enemy lines.  Only instead of being near future sci-fi, DVG’s game has photos of real soldiers on the cards.  There are fairly incongruous computer generated bad guys too, but as Dan himself said, he was hardly going to go capture photos of Columbian drug cartels.
Being raised on men-on-a-mission war films this is all right up my street, and brilliantly implemented, with – gasp – campaign play added in for the win.  Campaign play - that shiny new and positive development in board games that is becoming almost ubiquitous in thematic games now.  I mean, it’s been there all along in games like Warhammer Quest and the old dungeon crawlers and war games, but this persistence of achievement and development or growth of a character over continuing sessions is clearly something that a lot of gamers, and no doubt ex-RPGers are craving right now, and I count myself firmly amongst those people.
Also, watch how Dan the designer listens and responds to his fans – this is Richard Launius level of passion and care about what he does.  Happy to be a part of the Kick Starter for the next lot of expansion content, and particularly looking forward to us getting that scenario booklet.

Players = 1-3
Games played in 2014 = 20+
Rating in 2014 = 9




Defenders of the Realm

Dave brought his brand new Kick Starter fancified set round with all the extra bits and pieces.  We shuffled in the new quests and characters but mostly stuck to the core set rules against the four basic generals.  Jackie was the Adventuress, Dave took the Dwarf and I was the Druid, since I hadn’t seen or played him before.  I’m always up for a game of Defenders, and we were soon out and about hacking up minions and scouring the land for those dreaded generals.  We shared the arse kicking responsibilities out as evenly as we could, trying to temper the evil generals’ progress against the late war event cards.  A couple of the generals came close to Monarch City but we built gates, flew on eagles and basically did whatever it took to keep on top of them.  The minions often came close to running out, and the event cards came thick and fast, cutting off the taverns in short order and shutting down our rumour gathering, and the corruption spread pretty fast too, so we had to keep on top of that as well, which I usually tend to ignore.  I even unexpectedly found myself an unlikely unicorn ally early on and was galloping around like a loon, trying to stay safe in the forests, and calling upon my animal allies to keep the green locations free of minion clusters wherever I could.  Dave and Jackie took out the first couple of generals, and I took the third before we all teamed up to take down Gorgutt in a suitably epic showdown for the fairly hard earned win.  Yep, still love this game – Launius is a game designer genius for coming up with this stuff.

Players = 3
Games played in 2014 = 4
Rating in 2013 = 10
Rating in 2014 = 10





Arkham Horror

Actually finally managed to play a game from the List.  I’ve been trying to work out how long it is since we last played this game.  I think it’s about five years!  Which is a bit unfair because this is the game that got me back into board games when it was released.  We even rounded up five players for this session, I was Joe Diamond, Jackie was Kate Wintrhop, Dave was Harvey Walters, Leki – Tony the bounty hunter, Sam – Bob the salesman.  We shuffled in all the expansion stuff (except for Miskatonic – never picked it up) and used the Dunwich town board with our usual house rules - discard three allies per terror track increase, and alternate mythos draws between Dunwich one turn and the main deck (with the small expansion mythos cards shuffled in) the next turn, which is basically just less hassle to sort out.  We took on Azathoth so we didn’t have to worry about the gamey final battle and just concentrated on sealing gates.  Well, closing gates actually, because very early on we got the rumour which requires two gate trophies from a single investigator to beat.  And striving to stop this would be our undoing.  With hindsight we probably should have left it because I never failed the roll which increases the terror track.  It was a long game, as is normal, and everyone was getting into building up their hero and cracking on with some monster slaying, gate closing, loot gathering action.  There was some slight coordination and trading but everyone was invested in everyone else’s turns.  I got myself deputised and hopped over to Dunwich to keep it clear, and everyone kept jumping through gates, with or without 5 clues, which meant we were closing a lot.  And whilst the doom track didn’t get too high, the gate limit crept upwards and after a good few hours of adventuring and monster bashing, the final gate opened and brought about the world’s end, with us barely realising.  In fact, it came to someone drawing a mythos card and asking ‘What’s the gate limit?  Oh, really?  Well, then we just lost.’  All in, still great fun, kinda bloated and mechanically clunky compared to newer games, but I love the variability in everything and all the mega card decks, and would be happy to play this again whenever.  Nothing really compares to it in terms of adventure and narrative and it will continue to keep a respectable top spot in my gaming list, especially for those times when I can be bothered to get it all set up.  Hopefully won’t be another five years before we play it again!

Players = 5
Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2013 = 10
Rating in 2014 = 10



Shadows of Brimstone

Well, still no sign of my copy arriving, FFP refusing to respond to emails, and jaw-droppingly deleting comments from Facebook that they don’t like because people are asking what’s going on, and removing their fans’ own generated content from Printer Studio all makes for a really bad taste.  I’m taking solace in the fact that I’ve got other games to be getting on with, but this has really pissed on the excitement I have had for the game since its announcement.  That said, me mate Dave did get his copy, and brought it round for us to try out.  It wasn’t technically supposed to be on The List, and notwithstanding my reservations about how the company handles itself publicly, I was still very eager to try the game.  And what a game.

Yes, they’ve pinched liberally from Warhammer Quest, but so what?  The reinvention is slick, polished, and extremely enjoyable.  Dave and Jackie already had a duo Rancher and Saloon Girl with some XP and gear so I took on a Gunslinger, Harry Rider, to join them in looking for some Darkstone down t’mines.  

Our first room held a portal to another world, so after some creepy encounters, some lots of failed scavenging and a ruck with a few baddies, we popped through the portal to the swamps of Jargono.  We were immediately set upon by zombies and tentacles and other things that go sludge in the night, and before I knew it I was chucking dynamite and firing off round after round with my Hell Pistol, which they’d very kindly donated to me.  The Gunslinger is kick-ass for taking out baddies, but not so good at soaking up damage.  Whilst the Saloon Girl dodged and kicked and weaved, and the Rancher just took it on the chin whenever something hit him, once poor Harry had taken a couple of hits he hit the dirt fast.  The first time I got decked we spent our Healing Surge (Revive token) so I could get back up and carry on, but by the time we reached the final room it was wall to wall with monsters.  Tentacles, stranglers, hungry dead, void spiders, corpse piles and a nice big night terror to boot.  In fact, it looked pretty ridiculous to be honest.  Nevertheless we plowed on and started mowing down the hordes between their nipping and biting at us.  This is where it started to jam up a bit and become a lot like Warhammer Quest, you just sit and roll off against the monsters.  I had this plan for us to run back and get to a choke point where they could only come at us two at a time, but the game doesn’t really allow for this kind of tactical play because of the pinning rules, which they unfortunately kept from WHQ.  

So instead you essentially roll back and forth until one side wins.  Luckily, this is mitigated by the skills and items and other effects you can play, and I had these cool mega bullets I could fire to do more damage when I hit.  My rolling wasn’t too bad in this game and I was tearing out chunks of monster guts and limbs with each shot.  The rancher had been mostly missing and just tagging along for the view, whilst the saloon girl was ducking and weaving and kicking and shooting her way through the swamps.  But, ridiculously outnumbered, the saloon girl and gunslinger soon got KO’d and the end was certain.  As Dave’s rancher resigned himself to a grisly fate, he laughed that if he rolled a double six for our darkness roll an event would revive us both and we’d be back in the action.  I said, ‘Well, roll a double six then.’  And he only bloody well did!

We pounced back up into action and took out a whole bunch more baddies before being KO’d again.  Dave’s brave rancher finally joined in the game and with some seriously good rolling he went into full sniper role and took out all the remaining stragglers, one after the other, and then headed with grim determination towards the final two corpse piles, previously blocked off by the hordes and thus constantly generating deadites.  And then the Darkness escaped the mine and we lost the game.  :(

The rancher and saloon girl sisters dragged the broken body of the gunslinger (broken arm and collar bone) back to town, where one of the shops had shut in protest at our failed endeavour.  I hauled myself to the doctor’s for some meds and surgery.  He turned out to be a drunk, but a pretty good drunk, and botched the ops so badly he gave me some cool scar tissue.  I’d racked up a fairly impressive 480xp but needed 500 to level up.  Saloon girl and rancher went shopping and pick-pocketing and cavorting and earned some cash and bought some bits and pieces, and they’d both levelled up during the adventure.  So, with no money left after my doctoring (I even had to borrow for that!) I went to hang out at the saloon for the last day in the town.  And rolled an encounter which gave me the final 20xp I needed for that all important level up!  Can’t wait to get stuck back in and continue the adventures of Harry and the Ellis (sp?) sisters.  Also can’t wait till my bloody copy arrives…


UPDTE – since writing this my copy HAS finally arrived (minus character sheets and red sprues).  Those bloody miniatures!  Took me fucking forever to assemble them, and I glued my thumbs and fingers together numerous times.  But don’t talk to me about plastic cement, I had an absolute nightmare with it trying to assemble Sedition Wars, so I’ll still use super glue anyway.  So after about 10 hours solid I finally had them built, leaving the Harbinger’s wings off so I can put it back in the box.  You call it plastic ‘flash’, I call it ‘flair’ because all my miniatures are showing it off.  At least every other SOB owner can take hear that their version is better assembled than at least mine!  But really, the mini quality is just not there.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re good miniatures, but not even as good as any other game in my collection (except maybe Warfighter).  Which makes all the fuss around them, and their ‘hobby level quality’, and having to bloody assemble them yourself, well it makes it a total washout for me.  This, combined with FFP’s frankly shitty attitude towards their fans’ efforts to help the game along, further combined with their money grabbing mine shafting, has somewhat soured me on FFP and the game.  HOWEVER.  It is still a solid game, and they make good stuff generally, and they’re clearly passionate about what they do, which makes me want to support them.  After all, we all make mistakes, I just hope FFP can learn from theirs.

Players = 3-4
Games played in 2014 = 2
Rating in 2014 = 8.5



Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Now that our little group has expanded we were looking for a quick 4 player game at the end of the night, so we fired this up and with everyone’s favourite film being Aliens it was that scenario we went for.  We dealt avatars randomly and got the scout, medic, technician and merc.  A couple of us took some minor wounds and we had the usual slow start whilst we honed our decks, but we soon took control of the game and coasted to a fairly easy finish with very few surprises.  But it was still fun and everyone had a good time with the game - the art is still great, and the theme is good for a deck builder too.  So it seems the default rules at any player number make the game pretty easy once you know the tactics.  Which means this is the last time we’ll play this way – that difficulty is getting a proper boost next time.  Also, I was kicking myself for not quickly going over the hidden agendas and alien player rules as we haven’t used them yet (having only played 2 player games so far), so I think this will mix things up nicely next time.  Still a great filler game, and hopefully those extra rules and the increased difficulty will keep that 8 rating in the future.  Otherwise I fear it will be slipping a little I think.

Players = 4
Games played in 2014 = 20
Rating in 2014 = 8



Here follows the rest of the games we want to get through this year - we’re not going to get there anymore, maybe next year....

1. Constantinopolis
2. Dark Darker Darkest
3. Descent: Journeys in the Dark
4. Dungeon Lords
5. Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends
6. Magic Realm
7. Omen: A Reign of War
8. Race for the Galaxy
9. The Ares Project
10. Twilight Struggle
11. War of the Ring (first edition)
12. When Darkness Comes: The Nameless Mist

And if we get time:

13. Advanced HeroQuest
14. Greenland


Preference List for 2015:

1. Eclipse
2. Through the Ages A Story of Civilization
3. Mage Knight Board Game
4. Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
5. Invaders
6. Warfighter: The Special Forces Card Game
7. A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game
8. Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
9. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game
10. Claustrophobia
11. Defenders of the Realm
12. Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game
13. Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
14. Tales of the Arabian Nights
15. Arkham Horror
16. Nations
17. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
18. Gears of War: The Board Game
19. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords - Base Set
20. Star Wars: The Card Game
21. Call of Cthulhu: Collectible Card Game
22. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition): Forgotten Souls
23. Return of the Heroes
24. Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game
25. Friday
26. Revolver
27. Rune Age
28. Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
29. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
30. Resident Evil Deck Building Game
31. Uncharted: The Board Game
32. Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth
33. X-Wing Miniatures Game
34. Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster
35. Doom: The Board game
36. Myth
37. Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport
38. Agricola
39. Eldritch Horror
40. Shadowrun: Crossfire
41. Innovation
42. Thunderstone
43. Warhammer Quest
44. DC Comics Deck-Building Game
45. Dominion
46. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
47. Space Crusade
48. HeroQuest
49. Runebound (Second Edition)
50. Talisman
51. Lord of the Rings
52. Forbidden Island
53. Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game (Trade pile)
54. Zombies!!! (Trade pile)

Top 20 most wanted or forthcoming games:

1. Kingdom Death: Monster
2. Shadows of Brimstone
3. Mice & Mystics
4. Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King
5. Fireteam Zero
6. Pathfinder: Skulls & Shackles
7. Merchants & Marauders
8. Navajo Wars
9. Archipelago + Solo expansion
10. Tokaido
11. Lewis & Clark
12. Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis
13. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
14. Imperial Settlers
15. Cruel Necessity 
16. Wtich of Salem
17. The Ancient World
18. Mansions of Madness
19. Ninjato
20. Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001-?

Excellent review of my 1066 game - Trying to Change History - 1066, Tears to Many Mothers review




Really well written article about 1066 from BGG user Ibbo over on boardgamegeek:


Trying to Change History - 1066, Tears to Many Mothers review | 1066, Tears To Many Mothers | BoardGameGeek:



'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game - Predator

Predator for Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game.
Very quick rough draft, with no scans to work with:



Wednesday, November 05, 2014

No more games - play what you’ve got! Part 7, Stop buying new games - remember?!

Part 1: No more new games - play what you’ve got!


Part 2, Return of the Living Deck Builders


The Not Nearly As Thumbed Part 3, Hang On – Some Of These Aren’t Even On The List


Part 4, But You Can’t Just Throw Away Gifts, Obviously…


Part 5, Part 5, Fortune and Zombies, Kid


Part 6, MISSION FAILED!!!  I BOUGHT NEW GAMES!!!


I’ve supposedly * banned new games from being purchased in 2014 to allow us a year to play through all the games we’ve already got.  If a brilliant, must-have game emerges this year I’ll just have to wait to see if it survives a few months of fair reviewing and the cult of the new to become a lasting classic, and if so I should theoretically have no problem picking it up in 2015 anyway.  

*  Actually failed though, see part 6 above.


Last time I blogged about the humiliating failure in my ongoing mission to ‘not buy new games’ because I caved and bought not one but two new games: Alien Legendary and Shadowrun: Crossfire.  Both are very cool games at least.  However, in this blog I somehow manage to compound that failure on multiple further levels.  In many ways I blame YOU, the readers, and actively passionate board game geeks who have conspired against me to give incisive, quality reviews of brilliant games I would have otherwise been able to resist.  I blog about not buying new games and what do you do?  You send me a link to a copy of Friday on Amazon which is only £6, and therefore barely even qualifies as buying a new game.  I blog about my failure to stick to my principles of not buying new games, so you go and tell me all about this hot, new, great-looking historical game by Phil Eklund called Greenland which is stirring up some cool buzz – a game which I wouldn’t have even glanced at just a couple of years back, when all that made me happy was some plastic men, pretty art, and an FFG logo.  And then to add insult to injury, whilst I’m designing my own squad-based men on a mission card game, Oh Dark Hundred, I get sent irresistible images and links to Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game by DVG, which not only covers the ground I was walking with a greater basis in reality, but also has photos of real war veterans on the cards.  Oh, and someone traded me a copy of Advanced HeroQuest for my Advanced Space Crusade, so that’s another new game into the circle now too!

So when I tell you I only went and bought Friday, Greenland and Warfighter, don’t go judging me, okay?  Because, you know, it’s really actually YOUR fault, right…  Right?




Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Okay so technically this shouldn’t be on the list because it was purchased this year, and there were supposed to be no new purchases anyway.  But since it arrived, and I’ve played it a tonne, it’s time to talk about it a little bit.

The first and most surprising thing about this game, is that once you’ve played it a couple of times, it is easy.  There I said it.  There is randomness in the order of cards, great theme, some cool surprises the first time you play through a movie, and the general feel of the game is pretty brilliant.  But once you’ve grasped the main concepts, it’s easy.  Occasionally you think you’re on the ropes but then your deck kicks in and suddenly you’re dealing tons of damage and/or buying whatever cards you want.  We’ve played a few deck builders now, so maybe this experience has paid off, but we’ve now played and soundly beaten all 4 supplied movie scenarios.  Sam hasn’t even experienced a loss yet, I only actually lost the first couple of solo games I played.  Luckily there are rules for increasing the difficulty, and the game is good enough that we’ll want to keep playing, so next time we’re going to start seriously tweaking difficulty by removing drones and starting with a more full Complex.  Some players complain it gets harder with more players so maybe this is true, or maybe it’s balanced by all those extra drones and Coordinate cards.  Hopefully we’ll get to try it out with more players soon as well.

I really like the art.  I know there’s some discussion about the art quality, and yes some of the cards are a bit ropey, but most are great, and the design is fairly clean and consistent.  Movie stills in games annoy me and make it look like a cash-in, though I can understand why games do this for budgetary reasons.  I do have to cover up some of the gorier stuff if my 4 year old is about though…

I also love the play-mat (my first) and have no problems rolling it back up, although storing the cards is a bit of a bear, and you should probably find an alternate solution to mashing up the dividers supplied like I keep on doing.  

Players = 1-2
Games played in 2014 = 20+
Rating in 2014 = 8



Warhammer Quest

Boy did this not age well.  And I mean in the past couple of years, because we actually played it relatively recently.  I don’t know if it’s the suspense of waiting on all my Kick Started dungeon crawlers to arrive (Myth, Kingdom Death, Shadows of Brimstone), or if it’s genuinely a creaking old beauty, but Warhammer Quest was a grind to play.  Literally actually – maybe grind is not the right word.  Now one of the cool things about your heroes in Warhammer is giving them a name and a personality, as the book encourages you to do.  However, once you pat yourself on the back for calling your stubborn dwarf warrior “Harkan Granitefist the Mighty”, or naming your cool new barbarian - for whom you even rolled maximum starting HP – “Conan Bloodaxe of Adderdale”, you very quickly watch them die to angry rats in the first corridor of the dungeon.  And so the creative rot sets in, and before you know it you find your only heroes who do eventually survive for more than one adventure, well, maybe they don’t have the best monikers.  And so it was that we pulled out the last batch of heroes we played with, all raring to go and at the dizzying heights of Level 2, rolled up our mission ‘Blood Debt’, and descended into the depths.  ‘Barbarian’ the Barbarian led the way, followed by ‘Dwarf’ the Dwarf, with ‘Elf’ the Elf following closely sporting his Elf Bow, whilst the more (or less) creatively named ‘Wiz’ the Wizard brought up the rear.

The Blood Debt mission states that you must find the Objective room and slay its inhabitants, but if you roll a 1 for an unexpected event you have to roll again and if you get another 1 the big bad wizard Ian McNasty (okay, I forget his real name) shows up and throws a bunch of Objective (badass) monsters at you.  First corridor, first power roll: a 1.  Followed by another 1.  Luckily the corridor filled with goblins so quickly we could only fit in a couple of Objective minotaurs.  The usual dice-off melee ensued but my Wizard quickly tired of the proceedings and nuked everything using up his starting power on a couple of Freeze spells.  Barbarian, Elf and Dwarf in mid-sword-swing stared in disappointment at the smashed monster remains, and we both suddenly remembered how Warhammer Quest is basically Wizard+3MeatShields Quest.  With a condescending pat on the back for his companions the Wizard moved on through the dungeon, healing everyone up as we met and destroyed any dungeon denizens in our way.  We had a whole bunch of healing potions and tricks up our sleeves, and the dwarf and barbarian had so much armour that monsters could barely damage them.  We soon reached a T-junction and clearly picked the correct path as the first dungeon card drawn was the Fighting Pit Objective room.  A bunch of frightened minotaurs stared up at us with pleading eyes.  Deploying all our magic items, spells and attacks we annihilated them with nary a scratch and danced our way out of the dungeon exit to victory.  Which, of course, is where the real fun begins.  Deciding to head for a city so we get the maximum number of random events our heroes on their way home variously fought through legions of forest goblins, a storm, a town full of nincompoops, some lightning and some uneventful weeks.  Kind of reminds me of the ‘Draining the Coffers’ section in the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide: when the heroes return from the adventures loaded with gold but you suddenly smack them with a tonne of ways to drain away all their loot so they’re penniless and ready for the next adventure in no time.

I think we had enough gold left to buy the elf a new bow (and some clothes, since he’d had his kecks melted by the lightning).  But by then we had had enough as players and called it on Warhammer Quest.  Disappointed, in the same way I was with HeroQuest, I packed the game away and hoped the newer dungeon crawlers will offer something more.  I’d like to see one of my WHQ actually reach Level 10 some time, but Sam even suggested just getting rid of the game altogether, and I was hard pressed to come up with reasons not to.  Maybe my boy will like it when he’s a bit older?  As the great, lost dungeon crawler, even with the beautiful attention to detail and world building that the rulebooks give, it really boils down to a dice fest, and as soon as you get over the initial bump of having lower level heroes repeatedly wiped out, once your heroes gain traction and start levelling up, the challenge fades quite rapidly.  I think Warhammer Quest is ready to be dethroned by the newcomers.

Players = 2
Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2013 = 10
Rating in 2014 = 7



BONUS GAME PLAYS!

Seriously, if we stopped doing this and just played the games on the list we’d get this quest finished.  But the games are not always to hand or circumstances conspire against us, so this is the stuff we end up playing for one reason or another anyway.  And gaming is gaming, right?



Innovation

I really like this game, for what is essentially an icon matching combo card game.  The civ theme is very, very loosely tacked on, and it takes some effort to remind yourself that you’re supposed to be a civilisation growing through time, rather than just sort of elaborate dominos in card form.  Sam was absolutely crucifying me at this.  He was splaying cards and nicking my own cards before I could even get my five colours into play.  So I concentrated on crowns and eventually pulled out a Dogma ability where I could finally beat him at something.  By this point he’d already built five achievements and only needed one more for the win, whilst I only had one, so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion.  I kept on Demanding with the only ability I had, and slowly taking his cards in play for my own, and as the ages passed I started to beat him in science and other icons too.  Then I pulled an ability which made him return his score cards, and he was no longer able to achieve regular wonders for his civilisation, all the while taking his cards for my own where I could.  As his once mighty people shrunk and handed over their goods I managed to finally start getting out scoring cards of my own and even netted my first achievement.  There was a perilous point where he was still drawing the higher cards as I tried to steal them away from him but suddenly the balance tipped and I was taking the higher technologies away from him and then forcing him to draw crappy old cards which he’d already returned from his score pile.  With sinister delight I continued to achieve wonders, whilst blocking him where I could and pinching his technologies left, right and centre through the evils of Democracy (IIRC).  Before either of us knew it I finished a turn with 5 of my own wonders to equal his and enough cards to score the winning 6th achievement on my next turn.  Empty-handed, Sam drew a card, but there was nothing he could do except play it, and from nowhere the victory was mine.  Talk about swingy!  The game was very enjoyable, but did take a really looong time though (even though I thought I was going to get taken out very early on), and I can’t imagine playing it with more than 2 people.  At that point you’d be better off just breaking out Nations or Through The Ages.

Players = 2
Games played in 2014 = 4
Rating in 2014 = 7.5



1066, Tears to Many Mothers

Once I’ve finished a game I generally stop pestering people to play(-test) it, which I suppose is sort of weird since surely people would want to play the finished game instead of a beta?  But I sort of think it’s a bit self-indulgent to suggest one of my own games ‘just for fun’ in case, you know, it’s not as much fun for the other player.  But even after play-testing the crap out of it this year, Sam suggested a round of 1066, and I’m not going to turn a game down now am I?  As for whether it was fun for him, you’d have to ask him yourself, because I took the Normans to England and romped to victory with a 3 Wedge defeat.  Dead proud of this one, I should really start pitching it to publishers but I just want to get Fantasy Quest out the door first.  Okay, enough of the self-indulgence now…

Players = 2
Games played in 2014 = 50+
Rating in 2013 = N/A




Friday

I don’t think I’ve played a truly solo board game since Chainsaw Warrior as a teenager.  Since I learn most of my games through solo play (and many of them are 1 or more players), and tend to enjoy it more than video gaming, it seems bonkers to think that I haven’t really looked into solo board gaming more seriously.  Anyway, as I said, someone pointed this out for £6 on Amazon, and I’d heard great things, particularly from the Solo Guild on BGG, so I gave it a whirl or ten.  My son enjoyed the card art and helped out with some of the basic maths.  I got wiped out in my first couple of games on the basic level, then got a rhythm going of destroying all my negative cards and slowly and steadily building up to the pirate ships, finally achieving a fairly respectable victory over the booty-baiting bastards.  Feeling a little cocky, like I’d cracked the game somehow, I took it up to the next difficulty level and after another ten games or so I still haven’t beaten it!  I think I’m too eager to get rid of the Weak cards early on, which reduces my deck too much, when you actually sort of need them to pad out your deck a bit and continue beating the 0 cost cards, whilst keeping the aging cards more rare in your deck.  It’s a puzzler though.  Not really feeling the theme too much, and the card art is, well, ‘fun’?  But the gameplay is very compelling.  And when I think about the card art on my other favourite thematically-rife, stranded-on-an-island theme game – it’s non-existent.

Players = 1
Games played in 2014 = 10+
Rating in 2014 = 7




Here follows the rest of the games we want to get through this year - not sure we’re going to get there anymore....

1. Arkham Horror
2. Constantinopolis
3. Dark Darker Darkest
4. Descent: Journeys in the Dark
5. Dungeon Lords
6. Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends
7. Magic Realm
8. Omen: A Reign of War
9. Race for the Galaxy
10. The Ares Project
11. Twilight Struggle
12. War of the Ring (first edition)
13. When Darkness Comes: The Nameless Mist

And if we get time:

14. Advanced HeroQuest
15. Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game
16. Greenland


Preference List for 2015:

1. Eclipse
2. Through the Ages A Story of Civilization
3. Mage Knight Board Game
4. Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
5. Invaders
6. A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game
7. Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
8. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game
9. Claustrophobia
10. Defenders of the Realm
11. Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game
12. Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
13. Tales of the Arabian Nights
14. Nations
15. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
16. Gears of War: The Board Game
17. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords - Base Set
18. Star Wars: The Card Game
19. Call of Cthulhu: Collectible Card Game
20. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition): Forgotten Souls
21. Return of the Heroes
22. Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game
23. Friday
24. Revolver
25. Rune Age
26. Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
27. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
28. Resident Evil Deck Building Game
29. Uncharted: The Board Game
30. Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth
31. X-Wing Miniatures Game
32. Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster
33. Doom: The Board game
34. Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport
35. Agricola
36. Eldritch Horror
37. Shadowrun: Crossfire
38. Innovation
39. Thunderstone
40. Warhammer Quest
41. DC Comics Deck-Building Game
42. Dominion
43. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
44. Space Crusade
45. HeroQuest
46. Runebound (Second Edition)
47. Talisman
48. Lord of the Rings
49. Forbidden Island
50. Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game (Trade pile)
51. Zombies!!! (Trade pile)

Top 20 most wanted or forthcoming games:

1. Kingdom Death: Monster
2. Shadows of Brimstone
3. Mice & Mystics
4. Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King
5. Greenland
6. Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game 
7. Fireteam Zero
8. Pathfinder: Skulls & Shackles
9. Merchants & Marauders
10. Navajo Wars
11. Archipelago + Solo expansion
12. Tokaido
13. Lewis & Clark
14. Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis
15. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
16. Imperial Settlers
17. Cruel Necessity 
18. Wtich of Salem
19. Myth
20. The Ancient World