Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: June 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No more games - play what you’ve got! Part 4, But You Can’t Just Throw Away Gifts, Obviously…

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. 

My birthday came and went in May, and a couple more titles got added to my list as presents, which I wasn’t sure we’d be able to crowbar in this year at all: X Wing miniatures game base set, Twilight Struggle, DC Heroes Deck Building game expansion Heroes Unite - which is really more for my son than me, since we play that game nearly every day now - and Eldritch Horror.  Not tried X Wing or TS yet but I did get a solo run through of Eldritch Horror, which left me eager to try out Arkham Horror again.

I was also invited to an old RPG playing friend’s stag do where we went knife throwing (tricky), tomahawk throwing (exactly as fun as it sounds), tried archery (turns out I’m a bit of a Legolas, scoring three bulls-eyes in a row in one round) but primarily drinking and playing board games out in the countryside.  Great fun, great bunch of lads, and also got to play a few new games I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to, see Bonus Plays below.   Also got to add a few more to this list at the UK Games Expo, where we very successfully demoed 1066, Tears to Many Mothers.

A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game

Easy coop win against the Siren with Sam as the student of the occult and me as the witch I think.  I got the amulet which lets you use spirit instead of combat and boosted my spirit with allies and church visits and a raft of investigation - I was gaining three a turn.  Found the lair early on and some uber powerful elders joined us; the siren didn't really have it in her to stop us.  We also had the best/luckiest crop of event cards ever.  Great game, but there's a lot of fiddliness, tokens and upkeep, and remembering this has made me leery of Shadows of Brimstone, especially if they're using pen and paper in that one too...

Players = 2
Expansions = The Coast, Allies, Madness, HP 1
Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2013 = 10
Rating in 2014 = 9


It was the mission where one of the ‘good’ guys has been possessed and you have to go kick his arse and then take him back.  Sam was the trogs, I was the condemned, and as it played out it was an easy win for the heroes.  I lost one Blade dude only, you know the disposable fast, spindly types.  There was some scenario rules confusion until we found the right demon card representing the possessed dude, thanks to BGG for the clarification.  This is really a great game, and I’m excited for the expansion material.  Love that Croc the designer has supported it so well with so much extra free downloadable content, just like Richard Launius does with his games.  It’s really quite a simplistic game but ruthlessly tactical, it plays very fast, and it really does look fantastic.  Highly recommended game for two players.

Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 9

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game

Without time for a full on campaign, we abandoned the copious house rules we have for this game and just set up a scenario.  Though we did have all the treasures shuffled in from all three D&D games, and used the optional doors, treasure chests and monster tokens.  Sam took Thorgrim the cleric and I was Alissa the Ranger and we attempted one of my favourite scenario combos.  Start off easier with the official Search for the Sunsword WOTC bonus scenario, waste the baddies, grab the Sunsword, and then set off on the Hunt for Strahd Part 1.  We battered the first scenario, clobbered Strahd’s henchman – the flesh golem – eventually, but were weakened by the Grey Hag turning up and vaping us with repeated lightning bolts.  And when Strahd finally showed the Traps they started springing, and we ran out of XP to cancel them.  Until we were being alternately beaten by the self-healing Strahd, nipped at by his minions, and lightning’d by the Hag.  Our powers and items ran dry and though we had a couple of opportunities to take him down and we were even 1 damage away from finishing him, I, in typical fashion, fluffed my rolls and he knocked us both out and claimed victory over our sorry arses.  I’m not ashamed to say we used three healing surges, though they were little consolation by the time it came around to spending them, since we lost one a turn for three turns!

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

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game

Free the captives!  We swapped roles this time with me as the cleric and Sam as the fighter, and we opted out of taking on Ashardalon (might have been an option if we hadn’t just had our butts kicked by Strahd in Castle Ravenloft) in favour of going after the rather humorous, frightened villagers, whose AI cards are a lark.  With hindsight, if I were to house rule this scenario it would be to have all the villagers act every turn instead of rolling to see who, if anyone, acts.  That would ramp up the chaos considerably!  Another close finish – though we didn’t use any healing surges, the villagers were getting massacred as soon as we found their prison chamber.  The two guardian grells started chomping on them straight away whilst we tried to distract the Duergar Captain boss.  But a conga line hoard of monsters had been growing in the darkness behind us.  We sniped them along the way, and I threw out two blade barriers and minced a whole bunch of them thanks to a lucky treasure draw, but they were still legion by the time we reached the final battle.  As the monsters chopped away at our luckless villager friends, we chopped away at them, and the chop-off finally fell in our favour as we brought down the Duergar captain and his two grells, the rest of the monsters departed, and a traumatised Alek (sp?) cowered quivering behind us, the only survivor of his town.  But our heroes were too busy celebrating their rare victory to notice his twitching PTSD nervous breakdown.

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

Eldritch Horror

Actually got this as a birthday gift, so it lies outside the ‘no new purchases’ rule, right?  Right??  Anyway, I set it up for a solo run through to get the rules down, and they were very familiar indeed – in fact I was expecting some correlation to and with Arkham Horror but I just didn’t realise how much they had simply lifted wholesale from the source.  At first I thought this was lazy, particularly with all the reused art and token design, but I guess it adds coherence to FFG’s own Lovecraft themed universe.  And when it comes down to it, the gameplay is the thing, and this game is quite enjoyable.  I get that they’ve themed encounters more to each Ancient One, which is nice, though it really impedes the variety of encounters you will have from game to game.  My first attempt was an abortive solo effort by the soldier Mark, who made very little progress and was soon smashed into cosmic dust by the Ancient.  My second effort was again with a single investigator (to see if it really works that way, you know, just like it does not in Arkham Horror :P), this time the sailor Silas, and though he was crippled early on, my replacement investigator – the martial artist – came along and nicked all his stuff, which I thought was a nice touch and added continuity to their story, just like how HPL’s protagonists built on the successes and failures of their predecessors.  I harvested as many clues as I could, chanced some lucky rolls, and happened to be in some lucky locations, whilst a lot was happening all around the world which I couldn’t do much about.  But in the end I was able to complete all my mysteries and seal the Ancient One away until next time with a loosely snatched victory.  I like this, and look forward to playing it with a group to gauge opinions.  It is certainly more likely to see table time than Arkham Horror, until it bloats itself up with expansions of course.  Oh, and I didn’t find the world map very impressive at all, particularly in comparison to the far superior efforts of Fortune and Glory and Tales of the Arabian Nights, but this is a small complaint.

Players = 1
Games played in 2014 = 2
Rating in 2014 = 7.5

Bonus Game Plays!

Resident Evil Deck Building Game

I mistakenly thought this was still on our to play list (it wasn’t) and we had a bit more time left so we broke out a quick game of Resi Evil.  Sam was Leon, a stalwart choice if you cash in on his awesome pistols combo, and I was loads-of-life Chris, who starts with 120HP but cannot heal.  A couple of reckless early explores from Sam saw Leon go down a few times, whilst we both raced to grab the higher cost ammo really early on (not normally a tactic either of us pursue).  I stuck to my strategy and plodded along and Leon’s recklessness cost him dearly as I built up my deck.  By the time I ran into Uroboros he didn’t stand a chance.  I often wonder what the expansion packs would add to this game, especially now that they are no longer being printed.  But as a self contained little game, Bandai have (and have since abandoned) a little winner with this one, just like Uncharted: The Board Game.

Players = 2
Games played in 2014 = 2
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 9

Sentinels of the Multiverse

I actually managed to finally get in a game of Sentinels of the Multiverse this month.  A mate invited me round to his house to introduce me to a couple of his gamer mates (they’re more into war games and role-playing than board games) primarily to show them 1066.  And since my new decks arrived we had two games going at once, which was great.  They had some interesting feedback, some very useful, some a bit whacky and game-changing, but they all said they enjoyed it and would play again.
One had to leave early so with three of us left we broke out Sentinels, which I’d spied upon walking in and hoped to crack open.
Really enjoyed it!  Very interesting design, I really like how each of the hero and villain decks are unique and I especially like the environment cards that introduce new events.  There was a fair bit of book-keeping, but no more than Arkham Horror for example.  We played against Omnitron the Sentient computer, Ross was Haka the ethnic Hulk dude, Al was Ra the Sun God, and I got Legacy, who I thought was a Superman type character from the pics, but who actually turned out to be a passive support type almost Cleric/Healer character.  Since that’s a role I don’t usually play it was a little bit duller for me than it could have been I think, but actually with the buffs I was giving the other guys I was vicariously inflicting as much damage as either of them each round.  I had one Ongoing card which actually attacked but it got cancelled right quick by the baddie’s special ability.
We took a bit of a beating and the wounds were stacking up, but we stayed on top of every event and droid that came out and stacked any leftover damage onto Omnicron, eventually leading to his defeat.  Quite tense, very enjoyable.  Wish the DC game was like this!  Still not sure if I’d pick it up though, since we have the super hero theme covered.  And as much as I admire their all new hero designs, they’re so obviously rip offs of other mainstream heroes it just lets it down a bit.
Also discovered we’d been playing it slightly wrong after the fact, by not flipping over the villain’s ability card every turn, but using both sides at the same time, which made it more difficult!  But we weren’t playing the advanced ability either (not sure if that would have had too much of an impact though: +1 damage one turn, -1 the next or something similar).

Players = 3
Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2014 = 7.5

DC Deck Building Game: Heroes Unite

After how eagerly my little one tucked into the DC Deck Building Game this was an inevitable purchase, so I picked it up from the UK Games Expo for £25, given that it’s an expansion, and not technically a new game.  Ahem.  Anyway.  £25 is actually more than the £20 I paid for the basic game, but worth it for the amount of play it’s already seen.  I generally don’t like the cards as much as the basic game, and I don’t recognise half of the characters, though at 4 years old and as a massive fan of Batman: The Brave and the Bold my boy is developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of the DC universe.  He also always asks whose baddie the villains are, so we have to sync up the heroes with their nemeses, which is an interesting narrative decision for him to make so young, a pretty much ‘it must be canon’ attitude.  Don’t know where he gets that from.  Anyway, the art is great, the gameplay is more of the same, and it’s definitely worth a look if one wanted to expand the variety of the base game, though I’m not brave enough to mix and match anything more than just the super heroes and super villains just yet.  I think the Crisis expansion pack is a must buy too.

Players = 2-3
Games played in 2014 = 30+
Rating in 2014 = 9


At the UK Games Expo we were sat down in the Hilton bar where James Fallows gave us a run through of this little gem from the old Avalon Hill catalogue.  Looks like it could be another Hamblen great like Magic Realm, we just played the very first introductory scenario with Doc Holiday versus the two thugs, though we just decided to play it as a free for all instead, with no special abilities.  Barely scratched the surface of the game to be honest.  It was basically three of us facing off against each other, slowly moving towards each other in some salty old saloon and weighing each other up whilst chewing cigars and drawing a bead on each other, Ennio Morricone’s riff from Fistful of Dollars tinkling away in our ears.  Then the rolling and shooting started as we bluffed each other out and tried to keep our targets in our field of vision.  I alternated targets whilst Sam and James drew down on me, but then after some tumbling and misfiring they started shooting each other, so I joined in and we took down James’ poor cowboy, who tried to hold onto his bubbling innards as he rolled around on the floor.  Sam and I had some wounds too and as he unloaded on James to finish him off I drew down on Sam and prepared to open fire.  As he darted out of my line of sight the unfriendly woman from the Hilton came over and told us to clear off because it was no longer gaming time.  ‘Could we just finish this game?’  ‘No.’  I really hope they find a more welcoming venue next year.  Anywho.  Great little game, interested to see more of it, and I’m especially intrigued by the RPG and character development aspects of it.

Players = 3
Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2014 = 7.5

7 Wonders

Been wanting to try this for ages but never able to get up the numbers, or find anyone with the game.  So it was the UK Games Expo to our rescue again, and we had six guys altogether, some clearly experienced, who instantly set about on their strategies whilst the rest of us muddled through and tried to defend ourselves with armies once we realised how important they were (i.e. after getting our arses repeatedly kicked).  Lovely components, lots to keep track of, quite difficult to pay attention to what everyone else is doing with six players, and it sort of felt like there were two games going on, one on our side and one on ‘theirs’ and sure enough this is how the scores panned out.  With me and the guy opposite doing pretty well in our respective mini games, whilst the guys on either side of us battled and squabbled with each other and generally lost out.  I came second and the guy opposite wiped the floor with all of us.  Liked the tableau effects and the card art, really like how the game seems to scale for players very well, and I can see what all the fuss is about.  I’d happily play this again, but not one I’d add to the collection any time soon.

Players = 6
Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2014 = 7

Cargo Noir

Always loved the look of this game and fondled the box a few times in my FLGS, so I was eager to try it out when somebody turned up with it.  It’s really a bidding game and with three players it ended up being rather weighted.  The guy who owned it knew what he was doing whilst me and the other guy just bluffed our way through it and ended up bidding against each other far too often, letting the leader increase his lead and gather tons of cargo, so we lost by a good margin, with me placing last, having been unable to buy my next two ships until after the halfway point.  The components are nice, art is great, but I’m not sure if I really enjoy bidding games, as it all just feels so… arbitrary, and that bidding and blocking each other is the main interaction.  Maybe I just need more experience at it.

Players = 3
Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2014 = 5


Super fast playing card game where you start with two cards, get one action a turn and have to be the last man standing.  You bluff out what action your cards allow you to perform: Duke can take 3 gold, assassin can attack another player (make him lose a card), Captain blocks assassin, ambassador lets you swap cards, etc.  You can use gold to attack other players too.  Anyone can challenge you to reveal what card you really have and if you’re blagging you lose a card, and if you’re not they lose a card.  I got knocked out pretty early by assassination and had nothing to defend myself with, but it was fun to watch the conclusion, and the whole thing played out in about ten minutes with 7 or 8 players.  Apparently it’s like Love Letter but more enjoyable.  I thought it was neat for a party game, but tbh any parties I normally go to don’t really usually involve gaming.  Would happily play again as it plays so fast.

Players = 7
Games played in 2014 = 1
Rating in 2014 = 6

Last Night On Earth

This was the first time I’ve played this with 6 players and it scaled nicely, everyone had fun and got into it making their own sound effects and narrative embellishments, including the two zombie players, who played their cards with glee and moved their zombie minis with the required amount of groaning SFX.  We randomly picked Defend the Manor House and I was worried that the guys who hadn’t played the game before would think it was a crap shoot as I’ve only ever seen the heroes lose this scenario.  I was Becky the nurse – I got bitten a few times and started to ‘Feel Strange’ and was all ready for turning into a zombie hero and getting a replacement character when a friendly hero removed the feeling strange card and the priest made it over to me to give me a first aid kit.  Suddenly I was back on fighting form and hitting the gun store to stock up on ammo and guns and blow some undead meat away.  I was able to play an early Faith on the priest and soon he found a crowbar and machete and was unstoppably whacking zombies left, right and centre, pretty much becoming the hero of the day.  The guy next to me playing Johnny couldn’t roll for shit, and sat in the gun store looking for revolvers, firing them, rolling a 1 and losing them, and then searching again, but he was laughing whilst doing it and seemed to be enjoying the general frenzied fray.  The chap who owned the game was playing Sally and spent almost the first half just searching and stocking up, pretty much out of the action, whilst the rest of us fought for our lives.  We kept racing to the middle to lure zombies out of the manor house, then rushing back out to the buildings to search for more supplies.  I felt the inevitability of defeat the whole game, but slowly and steadily the sun track marker climbed down, and even though Johnny eventually got eaten by a zombie hoard, and then Sally sacrificed herself by accidentally covering herself in gasoline and igniting herself and a bunch of walkers, we were keeping them at bay.  After a final push where the biters only needed one more zombie in the manor to win the game, we all charged out of hiding and fired our weapons and smacked a few of them upside the head and then the sun came up.  The hero victory was jubilant with us all shouting for joy as the zombie guys were going “nooooo…” and everyone else in the room was looking over and wondering what the hell was going on – but really wanting to join in I reckon…  Great game.  Goes back up to a 9 again, you just really have to have the right crowd for this game.

Players = 6
Expansions = None
Games played in 2014 = 2
Rating in 2014 = 9

Rune Age

Had some spare time at a gaming event and even though I’ve already checked this off the to play list, I thought it would be a good, easy one to teach, so we tried this out with 4 players, with me basically teaching three noobs how to play the basic Dragonlords scenario, the race to beat the big bad, with the expansion races thrown in, but no mercenary cards to keep it simple.  For the first time I tried using Forced March to pare my deck right down and ended up with just seven high power, non-Gold cards.  The guy sat next to me was pretty savvy and was trying to convince everyone to gang up on me, even though he was hoarding most of the neutral cities, and there was much back and forth attacking between us all trying to take them off each other.  The two other guys picked things up slowly but steadily, and to be honest, they probably should have ganged up on me from the outset.  I took out a few of the Dragonlords and harvested their rewards, and before the event deck could reshuffle I was ready to take on the big baddie king dragon and handily kick his arse.  It played long, probably a couple of hours, but everyone was engaged, and everyone said they’d be happy to play again if they had time.  Still loads of life left in this game with just the base and expansion pack, a nice complete little package that never quite plays the same way.

Players = 4
Expansions = Oath and Anvil
Games played in 2014 =1
Rating in 2013 = 8
Rating in 2014 = 9

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

1    1.         Arkham Horror
2.         Call of Cthulhu: Collectible Card Game
3.         Constantinopolis
4.         Dark Darker Darkest
5.         Descent: Journeys in the Dark
6.         Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)
7.         Doom: The Boardgame
8.         Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth
9.         Dungeon Lords
10.        Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends
11.        Eclipse
12.        Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
13.        Gears of War: The Board Game
14.        Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
15.        HeroQuest
16.        Lord of the Rings
17.        Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport
18.        Magic Realm
19.        Omen: A Reign of War
20.        Race for the Galaxy
21.        Return of the Heroes
22.        Space Crusade
23.        Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game
24.        Tales of the Arabian Nights
25.        Talisman
26.        The Ares Project
27.        The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
28.        Twilight Struggle
29.        War of the Ring (first edition)
30.        Warhammer Quest
31.        When Darkness Comes
32.        X-Wing Miniatures Game
33.        Zombies!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game - Final call for play-testers

Hi guys,

I'm drawing close to the final version of the game and after speaking with Indie we are now looking for some brave volunteers for this last round of play-testing. A few of you have already been in contact, but if there are others out there who want to put this game through its paces and help make it even more awesomer for its release please register your interest below.

We will need feedback on the game so please only reply if you feel able to provide some. For those who already have play-test copies who would like to continue to be involved just let me know and I'll update you on the new stuff you'll need once it's ready.

Thanks for your continuing interest in the game!  cool

We're interested in player counts of 2-4 (cooperative or competitive) at this stage, since single hero play has already been tested exhaustively. If you can handle this as a solo player you're most welcome!

Monday, June 02, 2014

1066, Tears to Many Mothers winner announcement!!

Apologies for the delay people, I've been out and about and am back on the internets now.

I'm delighted to announce that, with his excellent rendition of "I get my kicks in 1066" the winner of our competition to get yourself a free copy of 1066, Tears to Many Mothers (Featured Here) is....  drum roll....  Steve Dell!

Thanks to all of you who entered, and I'll try to run this competition again sometime.

Steve, please send me your address details to holycriphesacrapple at gmail and I'll get your copy posted out to you ASAP.

Cheers, and happy gaming everyone!  :)