So here is my solo 10 by 10 Challenge from 2016. Ever since reading about the ‘Play 10 games 10 times’ idea on the Most Glorious 1 Player Guild I’d been intrigued, and it certainly synced up with my previous blog’s mission of getting more mileage out of the games you already have. Anyway, mainly I just wanted to take a break from all the other stuffs I’ve been up to recently and just get back to talking about playing cool games for a bit, so I hope you don’t mind indulging me for a little while.
I’d been planning to type this up for sometime but never really got around to it in January. I wasn't sure whether I would be able to finish 100 games by myself just because of the sheer quantity of time that it would take up. But I soon realised that I would be able to complete the challenge if I was to shift around the games that I expected to be able to finish. For example, adding Mage Knight to the list was not the cleverest idea as I was only able to get four games in before I realised that the time suck on this beautifully constructed game was just too huge for me to smash ten games in a row. But after cheekily swapping it out for Argonauts I was able to make much quicker progress through my personal 10 x 10 mission. Likewise Robinson Crusoe - although an amazing game - also had to be benched until the completion of my 10 x 10. Other honorable mentions go to Kingdom Death (spent more time assembling miniatures than actually playing it solo), and Labyrinth: War on Terror (managed 3 games: one win on Easy mode, then one win on Coherent, followed by one loss against Attractive).
Airborne commander is a neat little deck builder. Whilst there is limited replayability after you have figured out how to beat the game it is one of the most thematic games in its genre, and delivers a sense of commanding a paratroop division trying to pull it together in the thick of battle. The artwork is just great and the system for having blocking buildings filling up the play area really adds a level of tension that ratchets up as the game goes on. As it was so easy to play this it actually appeared in my 10 by 10 a whole eleven times just because I got carried away and shuffled up an extra game and carried on playing. I look forward to any expansion material that may be created for this game, and strongly recommend it if you can track a copy down.
The Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game is such a cool - and cruel - little game it's really a shame that it has been abandoned by Fantasy Flight. The expansion Heroes are a must for anyone who has the game as they really add variety and flexibility for the players. It's a shame that only one campaign was included with the game and that they chose to expand only the heroes but not the adventures. The adventures are really where the replayability is at of course but the fan community has us more than covered in that respect with the variants section on BGG overflowing with new quests. The game would be given a new lease of life if FFG gave it a decent reskin - even Terrinoth would work - but I’m not optimistic about the likelihood of that happening. I played through a full five adventure campaign with my 7 year old and with the warrior + elf combo we were able to win all of the adventures and finish the campaign successfully. I also played the Delve Quest a few times and met with varying degrees of success now that the easy win loophole has been sealed by the FAQ.
There’s really a lot to like in this little game, with some neatly agonising options for the heroes. It’s interesting to trace the evolution of the mechanics FFG picks and chooses in their adventure games like WHQ. There are elements of Space Hulk: Death Angel, exploration and fighting similar to The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, and other bits and pieces that have been tweaked and further complicated before being thrust into the Arkham Horror Card Game.
Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game
Warfighter is simply one of my favourite solo games. I rate it a perfect 10 out of 10. Whilst I prefer the actual playing of the adventures rather than the kitting out of soldiers, after achieving a Strategic Victory campaign in the Eastern European theatre (possibly my favourite so far?) I have had a lot of fun playing through the provided adventures in the scenario book from the Foot Locker expansion - and I’m not just being biased because I’m the only non-Verssen to have contributed to the adventures therein! :D Because they have already picked out all of the gear for your soldiers it takes the hassle out of the prep and you simply get to send your guys in and get on with all of the missions, whilst also experiencing some combos and play types you might not have necessarily stumbled upon by yourself.
For some reason I wasn't able to get into the idea of buying the World War 2 version of the game because I think it better suits the modern special forces theme, even though there were special forces heavily at work in WWII. I am also not too sure about the upcoming fantasy themed version of the game but that is mainly because I am super keen on getting more special forces missions and expanding the modern theatre more. I am really excited to see what they have in store, particularly if they use some of the ideas mooted on the forums such as attacking a ship or an urban building or complex. The expanded campaign that Dan has hinted at, which involves running a mercenary company sounds quite interesting too. But I think, probably because of all the war movies I was raised on by my Dad, thematically I am more interested in genuine military war zones rather than fictitious mercenaries completing missions.
But the game itself is excellent in any case, I love the process of carefully threading your team through hostile territory and trying to cover off reinforcements, maintain your supplies and ammo, stay on top of suppressions and wounds, manage your hand/resources, and complete your objectives. I often get cocky in the easier stages but then fate will deal a blow, such as having three highly experienced, fully armed and armoured veterans, a few missions deep into a campaign, stumble upon a suicide bomber without any remaining actions, overwatch, or self defense, and have said bomber take out the entire team and tank the campaign… Love this game!
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game LCG
I decided it was time to try to get back into the Lord of the Rings living card game that I’d championed so heavily back in the day, so I robbed a couple of elf decks from someone on the Internet and set about tackling the first two core quests followed by the Hunt for Gollum, Conflict at the Carrock, and the three Khazad Dum core quests. And then I only went and got cocky and tried to give Dol Guldur a go. But failed miserably of course and was annihilated 5 times. I forgot just how this card game could screw you over whenever it feels like doing so. It is still one of the prettiest games I have ever seen and I have collected every pack so far but once I have purchased the final Saga pack I think I am going to call it a day on this game because I still have hundreds of hours’ worth of game to play here and I haven't even scratched the surface yet. Plus the game is now being threatened by the Arkham horror card game which follows a similar model but provides a more interesting campaign and solo experience and you only have to run one hero without having to worry about a party of Heroes or playing two-handed.
I continued my campaign with the human Samurai and elf Decker who are currently both hovering around 40 karma points each. I have now shuffled in the expansion which really adds to the gameplay enormously by introducing a much-needed variety to the proceedings. It is definitely a valuable investment for anybody who has and enjoys the base game. I'm not sure it balances the difficulty as much as some people seem to suggest but it definitely adds diversity and more options for the players which can only be a good thing. This really is an amazing game and you are able to pick it up and play a mission in 20 or 30 minutes which not only means you can get plenty of game in and see your characters level up and collect lots of karma, but it also makes it a hell of a lot easier to complete your goal in your 10 x 10 campaign if you include a nice quick to play game like this!
I really love the game but also understand why some people are very frustrated with the difficulty. Even at 40 karma points I still have no idea going into a mission whether or not I'm going to succeed. And that Dragon looking down at me from 70 karma points seems completely impossible at this point.
Of my ten plays I was able to scrape two wins and three losses without the expansion, but then once I had added in the expansion and retried the basic Crossfire scenario I failed 5 times in a row without even being able to carry off a successful abort. Lols! Next time I’ll be mixing up the missions a little more to give myself a chance...
Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game
Whilst I actually prefer the Alien-themed legendary encounters set because of the movies and becaue of the variety of co-operative missions, the Predator legendary encounters set actually has the better gameplay. It looks like they were able to learn a lot of lessons from the alien encounters game and refined the formula to a much more playable and interesting state. I don't know whether or not they have been able to carry this through to Firefly because having only played it a couple of times I really did not get a sense that the campaign played in Firefly was anything new or interesting above and beyond what has already been established with this series of games. So in playing Predator I was able to mount a staggering 4 losses followed by 1 minor victory with the Tracker avatar. In playing the Predator 2 mission I suffered 3 losses in a row but was able to follow up with 2 major victories by Killing the Predator not once but twice with the reporter and then later with the OWLF agent, so in your face stinky dreadlocked vagina-face!
It's still a great game and I really enjoy playing this but with only 2 cooperative scenarios the game struggles in comparison to the alien legendary encounters game as I already said. We did try the competitive predators game with my weekly group but it was not an enjoyable experience and was a total crap-shoot as to whether anyone would be able to gather the cards that they needed in time to pinch their win.
I have to tip my hat to Friday which is a solid little deck builder that the 1 Player Guild champions with huge fervour, and rightly so really. For an introductory solo game Friday hits that perfect sweet spot between not being too complicated and also offering a ‘just one more go’ type of experience, especially given how easy it is to just shuffle up and go again. However, once you have figured out how to beat the game, much like Airborne Commander, there is less and less reason to go back to it for more. I would very much like to see a thematic version of this game with better art and a more interesting theme. This is not to say I do not enjoy the Robinson Crusoe/deserted island theme but rather I think it could be better served by having interesting and cool cards rather than cards with names like ‘Very Stupid’ which my little boy finds hilarious whenever he sees them. In any case, if I knew a guy with access to a cool fantasy IP and hundreds of beautiful, unique images I’d definitely have a word with him about a potential reimplementation...
This is another game I bought based on feedback from members of the - you guessed it - 1 Player Guild who suggested that it is a perfect one player game and in many ways it is. However the theme is very abstract and the implementation of that theme in the card mechanics, whilst clever, is also very abstract and not really my sort of game. I definitely think it has charm but even with mixing in the expansions it simply is not the game for me. I have a lot of respect for the person who designed this game and the series and for their unique identity as they are all instantly recognisable but generally I tend to prefer games where I understand more about who I am and what I am physically doing within the context of that game.
And again once you have figured out how to beat the game you won't struggle until you start including some expansion content. So, after 5 victories with the base game and then throwing the Books expansion into the mix I was able to suffer a single loss followed by another 4 victories.
Beautifully presented game though!
This is a Kickstarter game which I was particularly happy with. The first board game I ever designed when I was a kid at school was a Jason and the Argonauts-themed Talisman rip-off. You travelled around the board getting into encounters as Jason and eventually had to save Media from a Hydra. Whereas in this game you get to travel around the board getting into encounters as Jason and having to save Media from a Hydra. The fundamental difference between this game and the one that I created as a kid is that this game is exquisitely beautiful, carefully balanced, interesting to play, and provides a unique and quality co-operative experience that is perfect for the family. Whereas my version was a bit bobbins.
I have a lot of fun playing this with my little boy who is old enough to grasp the main concepts quite well without much guidance. And even though this wasn't technically solo I'm still going to included it in the list because we played at least 10 times using the vairant ‘Entropy’ rules which allow you to mix up everything including all of the boss monster encounters and all of the city encounters providing a nice replay value after you have finished the game many times already using the standard rules and setup (which we have). The game is so pretty when set up it is one of those we keep coming back to and the mechanics are so slick, euro-y, and easy to follow but with a healthy dollop of theme and battling, that it provides for a rich and addictive experience which just keeps you coming back for more. I love this game and am very happy with the quality and the components, and I'm looking forward to the producers’ next game Ironclad with great expectations.
Rune Age is one of my favourite deck building games and sorely overlooked by the masses it seems. I played the Resurgence scenario 10 times: Daqan Lords managed a win with just 2HP to spare at the end, the Dwarfs took a loss, Uthuks won with 6HP remaining, Elves, then Orcs then Undying all lost bitterly. I followed this up with the Cataclysm scenario where the Daqan managed to win again with 11HP remaining, the Uthuks lost, the Orcs won at 2HP, and finally even the bloody Elves won with a whopping 9HP remaining! I don’t know what that tells you about the stats but at least it goes someway towards validating the Elves which people seem to hate so much. :D And if you don’t play Rune Age you probably don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, suffice to say that for a deck-building game with such a small card pool it has a metric tonne of advice to offer lesser deck building games with much mightier card counts, especially with the sheer variety of scenarios and ways to play that it contains.
The expansion is an absolute must however, if you can track it down that is...
Okay, so thank you for joining me on my solo 10 by 10 journey of 2016. I have already set myself another 10 x 10 Challenge for 2017 and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into that as soon as possible. However I am having to try and learn new games such as Perdition's Mouth which are very complex and taking up quite a lot of my time which means progress on actually playing the damn thing has been bloody slow so far! First world problems and all that. :D I I also have a couple of other projects that have been consuming a whole bunch of my time, which I really must get back to asap…