Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: April 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No more games - play what you’ve got! Part 3, Hang On – Some Of These Aren’t Even On The List

I’ve banned new games from being purchased in 2014 to allow us a year to play through all the games we’ve already got – and there are a fair few of them, though a very modest collection compared to many other gamers.  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. 

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords - Base Set

We started from scratch after losing key heroes in our last attempt at the campaign, and so we set about bashing through Perils of the Lost Coast.  Sam was Kyra, I took Valeros.  We plowed through the first two scenarios but it came down to the wire in scenario 3 with the big baddie Black Fang, with me having to back away on the brink of death with no cards in my deck and Sam going in on the last turn with one final roll of the bones.  But he nailed it and we made it through.  Pretty tense.  Not sure how we're going to slot this campaign in with all the other games we're supposed to be playing though this year though.

The simplicity of the game quickly shows up after repeated plays, but it’s a nice easy game to come back to and the delayed release of each expansion works nicely for us.  I’m going to give Skulls & Shackles a miss because the pirate theme doesn’t interest me as much, and I’m not sure what kind of new stuff they’re bringing to the table with it, mechanically or otherwise.  Not that you’d necessarily need it with this type of game, where more is usually good - one of the biggest failings of the LOTR LCG for us was that the attempts to make each expansion scenario really different, though admirable, more often than not fell flat, with some adventures feeling positively un-play-tested - and we actually play-tested a lot of them!  The quicker release schedule of PAG will suit fans, and maybe the third set will be more thematically interesting, though I’m not at all familiar with the Pathfinder universe.  So far it’s been cool albeit generic enough fantasy, though I’m not a fan of their goblin art, or the papyrus sheet background which each image gets, and the card layout itself from a design point of view, well, yeah, it might be clear to read but it looks like a prototype to me.  It’s a shame WOTC don’t release a similar game because with the D&D brand and worlds/settings it would be ace.  Luckily we’ve got the adventure system games for that.  :P

Games played in 2014 = 3
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 7.5

Flash Point: Fire Rescue

Not played this in a while so we broke it out and actually convinced my staunchly non-gamer sister who was staying with us to join in.  The rules are simple and fast playing – although we opted for the basic game so as not to overwhelm my sister’s non-gamer brain - and it didn’t take much time to pick back up at all.  The family friendly coop theme makes me think of Forbidden Island, as does the simplicity, though FI has seen more play time.  We set up in 5 minutes flat, scanned the rules, and quickly managed to rescue a few peeps with my sister carrying all the animals out of the building, and me mostly catching false alarms, much to the others’ mirth (I make for a very lazy fireman apparently, who spends most of his time outside the building smoking fags).  Then the fires started breaking out in force and smashing the building up at the same time.  Before long we suffered two casualties to the smoke and flames, but we had rescued the requisite 7 victims to win the game.  Undeterred about the game actually ending we carried on to rescue the final victim just to see if we could.  And we did.  All in it took less than 30 mins and was good, family friendly fun.  My sister tried to hide the fact that she enjoyed herself enormously and then let us get back into the nerdier games where we get to blast things and slay monsters.  Great components, and clear gameplay, reminded me how glad I am to have Indie be the producers of Fantasy Quest.

Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2013 = 7
Rating in 2014 = 7


I chose the invaders and set off straight away from turn 1 in earnest attacking Eurasia (and because my opening hand held a whole bunch of cards which get bonuses when played into Eurasia) where the battle raged the whole game.  An early Revenant, coupled with the Black Goo made sure Sam was on the back foot early on.  I piled up the baddies in Eurasia and boosted them with some alien hybrid children, activated most of my strategies, and piled through towards the finish.  There was a hiccup on the penultimate turn when Sam retaliated with some missiles and took out my big guys, bringing my invasion temporarily to a total stop, but then I brought in the Lucifer tripods to Africa to drain what was left of his deck and bag the win.

Love this game.  The sci-fi horror theme is gritty and nasty, Chechu’s artwork is brilliant, easily equalling if not bettering his stunning Wild West imagery for Revolver, the gameplay is fast and tactical, but tense and exciting.  Really this game deserves way more attention and notice, and should have made a bigger splash than it did.  I also realised how this game and Mark Chaplin’s designs - alongside Magic: the Gathering and its ilk of course – have influenced my own ‘asymmetrical card decks’ design template for 1066, Tears to Many Mothers.

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


Continuing the Mark Chaplin theme we loaded up our revolvers and shot through two games with Sam as Ned and me as Colty, Sam was smacking me up left and right in the first game as I made a pitiful stab at the Mexican border and by the time we reached the train, Colty and his remaining henchmen were gunned down right quick.  I’d felt overwhelmed the whole game, so played again with the same sides to see if the bandits were outmatched.  Still felt overwhelmed the whole game and made another paltry go at the Mexican border, since I started with 3 cards which removed tokens from it.  But as usual, that tantalising victory mirage never came to pass, and I got shot to bits the whole game through.  Made it through to the final couple of turns at the 3.15 with just Colty left.  I gambled big time and took the rarely played desperate act of derailing the train, destroying everything except Colty and a trusty pistol, Sam had 4 cards left to hit me in the final turn but couldn't bring any of them to bear, so the gamble paid off and I bagged the victory in the closest game possible.  Love this game too, but it just squeaks underneath Invaders in rating because Invaders has more options available in a given turn and feels more epic.  Plus Invaders is weirdly kinda sorta the sci-fi horror themed game which Revolver began as when it was Aliens: This Time Its War.  Which is so meta that my chest might burst just thinking about it.  But there’s a space for both (well, all three) in any self-respecting gamer’s collection.  Ooh, and it takes about 25 minutes to play this once you’re a dab hand.

Games played in 2014 = 2
Rating in 2013 = 9
Rating in 2014 = 9

Return of the Heroes

We went about setting everything up for a Heroes’ Return (Of The) with a couple of the expansion heroes, but I slowly realised with growing dread that I couldn't remember any of the rules, and that the reference sheets I'd printed from BGG didn't help in that regard (been spoilt by Universal Head's more comprehensive pdfs), and after about twenty minutes of poring over the rules, both official and printed fan-rewritten versions, we started to feel like it was far too much effort, so we packed it back up and cracked on with Robinson instead!  I’m going to have to get this back to the table for a few solo plays to get the rules down properly before we break it out again…

Games played in 2014 = 0
Rating in 2013 = 7
Rating in 2014 = ?

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island

After playing the latest session this goes back up to a 10, just really a perfect adventure game.  I can’t even remember any issues all that time ago from learning the rules now, and once you have them down the brutal narrative and deliciously painful decision making come to the fore, guiding you through a really great and terrifying island experience.  We played Volcano Island and made an epic start, exploring like crazy with me as explorer and temple-raider and Sam as soldier taking care of hunting duties.  Battered through the first three temples and grabbed a ton of really good treasures (including all the Indiana Jones homages) and barrels, with loads of wood, and thanks to Sam’s sharp shooting we had fur and food coming out of our ears.  We put down a shelter with 1 roof and never rolled more than 1 rain the whole game.  Steadily moved across the island to the far end, easily built the 'jolly' boat – it was more of war galleon with the amount of wood we had - and bagged a tidy win with 40+ points.  Or did we?  Whilst counting the points I suddenly realised we'd only explored 5 of the required 6 tiles, meaning that we'd survived, but failed the objective!  As that gigantic ash cloud moved ever nearer to our shocked heroes, the end credits rolled.  We’ve played all the contained scenarios now, and I can’t wait to give the online King Kong scenario a go too.  Also keeping an eye on Ignacy’s games and eyeing up Stronghold as a potential future purchase.  He’s up there with Vlaada as a truly brilliant game designer, and I’m excitedly looking forward to seeing what he does with The Witcher franchise in board game form.  Robinson am hard…

Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2013 = 9
Rating in 2014 = 10

Resident Evil Deck Building Game

I drew Barry, Sam was Ada, and we hit the mansion hard.  I died twice mulching through the lower level stuff, levelling up my magnums ability, whilst Sam tinkered around with his deck, pulling in the higher gold cards and taking two magnums to block me.  Once he’d levelled up his ability to look at mansion cards and put them to the bottom before exploring I tried to bite back my cries of ‘that’s broken!’ but didn’t, and instead cried ‘that’s broken.’  But through my early exploring I had already managed to bag the other three magnums and some crucial yellow herbs, and by this point it was too late.  I was averaging 75 damage with a magnum most turns, and pared my deck right down with many shattered memoriesesies.  Facing Uroboros for the third time I took him out with a gigantic revenge blast using a magnum and gattling gun for the victory.  Scores about 42 to 27.  This is a great deck builder, with a cool theme, and I’m oscillating about picking up the expansion stuff for it, especially since it has now been discontinued.  Wouldn’t know where to start with the expansions though, and, somewhat refreshingly, there’s a shit ton of variability and replayability in the base game anyway.  Some of the character abilities seem a bit off, and some way more powerful than others (don’t think Wesker has lost a game in our circle), but having been raised on Talisman 2nd edition, I’m quite resilient to this sort of design idiosyncracy/flaw/ idiosyncracy.

Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 8

Star Wars: The Card Game

Over the months of steadily shuffling the games around on my shelves as they get played this title somehow shuffled down to the bottom spot in a big stack, and I think for that very reason alone (i.e. being harder to physically get at) it circulated out of our regular playing cycle.  Which sucks, because it’s a great game!  So with a Herculean effort we heaved the boxes above it out of the way and pulled Star Wars out for a game.  My 4 year old is going to absolutely love this game a in a few years as he’s currently going through the same sort of absolutely mental Star Wars fandom which I went through at his age.  Indeed, just last night he was babbling about Obi Wan and Yoda in his sleep.  :)
Sam took the Jedi, I was the Imperials, and it took us a while to get the rules straight again.  My fault mainly because I kept thinking I was remembering things but wanting to see it written down somewhere, and though I was usually correct it wasn’t much fun for Sam watching me sift through the rule book.  Need to print a proper crib sheet for this bad boy.
Rules lookups aside, the game itself didn’t take long.  After feigning a couple of rubbish early turns I started to bring in the big guns, with a resources overload and my star destroyers started going after the Jedi objectives just to pass the time.  I’d destroyed three objectives compared to the Jedi’s one before the game ended in annihilation for the Jedi.
The Pod system works well for more casual gamers (and us) but can lead to imbalanced decks.  I love the art on the cards, and am so glad they didn’t just go with stills from the movie.  Also the expanded universe stuff doesn’t really bother me as I’m a fan of the Clone Wars cartoon series, which is actually better than the prequel movies for a bunch of reasons, including better acting of all things!

Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 8

1066, Tears to Many Mothers

I remember Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You once saying he had an idea for a Pokémon style collectable card game but with important historical figures and dates on them instead of cartoon monsters (this was at the height of Pokémon mania).  I wonder if this had an influence on my designing a history based card game…
In any case playing and testing continues, prototypes are available in competitions on BGG and over at my blog, and the beta version is winging its way to publishers now.  There’s been a reassuring susurration of interest from people who are into gaming and history and potentially teaching themselves, their friends and/or their families a little bit about one of the most important battles in English history.  If this gets traction I’ll continue with the Agincourt battle follow up game.  My plan is to move through a few of the major historical battles and eventually tackle the first and second world wars through the major battles and in a similar format.  By that point the games would be multiplayer instead of just two player head to head, and we will have campaign rules for the major battles which reach through the entirety of each war.  In theory.  But war gamers generally prefer to use minis rather than cards, so this whole thing might end up going nowhere fast!  :D

Games played in 2014 = 50+

DC Deck Building Game

Finally, I need to say a little more about this game, as I was perhaps a little too harsh on it last time, or just not positive enough.  Alongside Star Wars, my boy is currently Batman-mental too, and when he saw the box for this he wanted in.  So we started playing a very basic version with no hero abilities, mostly just adding up our power each turn and going after one super villain each game…  And it has been absolutely brilliant!  He’s learning his maths and we’re getting to spend even more quality time with him away from the TV and watch him get terribly excited when, for example, Blue Beatle turns up, who is one of his favourite guest characters from the rather brilliant Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  Or listen to him pronouncing vulnerability (vunabeeyatee).  I’d hoped he might get interested in games through something like HeroQuest and am face palming about how simple it was to grab his attention and help with his numbers, and also grow his already relatively encyclopaedic knowledge of the DC universe through this game, which has really suddenly revealed its true, great potential.  Expansion sets, Mr Hyra?  Oh, go on then…

Games played in 2014 = 10+
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 10


The following games are titles outside of our 2014 games list remit, which we cheekily played at the Bolton GNOME games day (big shout out to the organisers of said event).  This was great because we got to try games we were interested in but would usually have to buy.

Mice & Mystics

Onto the wish-list with this one.  We played the first scenario with some chap called Richard who was learning the game with us, and had some helpful pointers from the friendly bloke who actually owned the game and was photographing the event.  Though we took a while to get going and learn the rules, we beat the adventure with one 'page' to go and it was a great, fun, easy to play (once you know how!) coop dungeon crawler which will be a fantastic fit for families playing with their children and reminded me strongly of the book Redwall, which I think I read when I was about 8 or 9 so I only remember in vague terms.  We skipped over the story segments for brevity, but these will really help flesh out the experience for families playing together.  Lovely minis, tiles and components too.

Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2014 = 7.5


This is an interesting and quite ingeniously devised city/VP building card game with nice art (and controversial nudity - zoinks!), fast playing turns, cunning tactics and devious treachery, and low-ish overall game time where you’re constantly guessing at your opponent’s moves to maximise your own.  Actually really enjoyed this as a sort of filler game, though I could see how it could go long.  Worth picking up for less than £20, but not sure it would get much play in our collection as it's just not meaty enough.  Another top bloke James Fallows taught us the game, and soundly kicked our arses too – thanks for that James if you’re reading!  You’re going to teach us Magic Realm next time whether you like it or not…  :)

Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2014 = 6.5

Lost Legends

James taught us this one too.  It’s a very mathy card-based dungeon crawler, more mathy than Thunderstone maybe, and by the same designer Mike Elliott, though it’s perhaps less intuitive and a little more complex than TS.  As always, familiarity with the cards helps, and as with Thunderstone I’m not a big fan of the level of abstraction, though you don’t quite have that whole TS situation where a dagger, a torch and an iron ration go wandering into a dungeon.  Great art, nice game, just don't feel the need to add this to my collection as it's a bit too abstract for me personally.  This has nothing to do with James kicking our butts again either…

Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2014 = 6

Here follows the rest of the games we want to get through this year, slowly but surely we’re getting there....

A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game
Arkham Horror
Call of Cthulhu: Collectible Card Game
Dark Darker Darkest
Descent: Journeys in the Dark
Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)
Doom: The Boardgame
Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth
Dungeon Lords
Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends
Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game
Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
Gears of War: The Board Game
Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
Lord of the Rings
Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport
Magic Realm
Omen: A Reign of War
Resident Evil Deck Building Game
Return of the Heroes
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
Space Crusade
Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game
Star Wars: The Card Game
Tales of the Arabian Nights
The Ares Project
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
War of the Ring (first edition)
Warhammer Quest
When Darkness Comes

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Win a copy of 1066, Tears to Many Mothers!!

Dear readers of my humble blog,

How would you like to win a copy of 1066??
This is your chance to win an unused Printer Studio prototype copy of my forthcoming game 1066, Tears to Many Mothers, posted free to anywhere in the world!

Note that this is a ‘prototype only’, the cards for the official release will look substantially different - i.e. all the artwork - so this is pretty much a one time opportunity. You will receive 172 (count em!) linen finished cards with gorgeous art but you will not receive any tokens with the game (you'll need generic tokens of 2 different colours, and a first player marker would be handy). You can download the rules from the BGG 1066 files page here:

All you have to do is pop a Comment on this page below explaining why you’d like to win a copy, and the most creative/interesting response will be chosen on 31st May 2014!

NB.  This competition is not connected to the Games4GeekGold listing on BGG.

Thanks for reading and good luck!