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

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

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