Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: December 2014

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 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…


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:

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