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Games Reviewed by Lesbians

Do you like board games? So do we! Do you like girls? So do we! We are a pair of girls from Aussieland who thought, “hey, lesbigamerz!” Enjoy the reviews! www.lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/

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Lesbians On: When Things Get Serious

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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So today the GF and I acquired our 50th game (which is village by the way), and I had cause to sit back and reflect on how I reached the big 5-0. I wasn’t always like this, a girl on the ceaseless trail for free shelving, and the only one of my friends to not associate Essen with beer.

Yep, I remember a time when I had to ask what “tapped” meant. When I could play monopoly without scorn. When I had….try to contain your shock….TABLES WITHOUT SET-UP GAMES ON THEM.

That’s right, I was once a casual gamer.

You see, being a casual gamer is a bit like… certain other casual things…

You rock up at a friend’s house one night, have a few beers, and the next thing you know there’s something exciting afoot on the table that you’ve never seen before. You don’t know the rules, you’ll probably never learn all of them but that’s half the fun. If you play this right, you’ll have a sweet time with a little number you’ll never have to see again. And it’s great.

Until the next night… At another friends party, had another round of beers, and sure enough, something gets slapped on the table. But wait… You’ve seen this one before. IT’S THE SAME GAME. You don’t know what to do, your palms start getting sweaty, your pulse is beating faster. You look over at your best friend, the only one who knows your terrible secret, but she looks more amused than like she’s going to bail you out. You could pretend not to know them. The rules, that is. But you’re a horrible liar. But the other choice… fess up…let everyone know that you’ve gamed this game before and GODDAMMIT it was good, no IT WAS GREAT, and you don’t care what everyone thinks YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY THAT GAME AGAIN.

And of course, none of your D&D playing friends actually cared until you started yelling…

But who cares. You’ve taken the plunge. You’ve committed. You’re no longer a casual gamer. And hell is it sweet.

So…that may be a bit too much information, but God it’s the honest truth.

And if my gf asks…

Not an analogy.
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Wed Oct 9, 2013 10:41 am
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The GF On: Yesterday, I backed my first Kickstarter

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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Kickstarter - http://www.kickstarter.com/

It was through the board-gaming hobby that I stumbled across this sleek website. I had not been aware of 'crowd funding' on the internet before, which is admittedly surprising as the concept has been around since the early 2000s. Kickstarter itself was launched on April 28, 2009 and has since then purportedly funded more than 30,000 projects.

Losing my Kickstarter virginity...


Anyway, yesterday I backed my first Kickstarter. Actually, I backed my first two. (Though Lesbigamer doesn't know about the second one yet....shhhhh......) I thought I might reflect on the process and thinking behind each backing.

Eight-Minute Empire

I first heard of this game on BGG, I believe it was on the 'Hotness' menu. What got me interested in the game was the short length ... supposedly, a mere eight minutes. Short games are hard to come by in our collection, as most of our games are 90-120 mins in length. I think this reflects our gaming habits of playing a game before or after dinner, where we typically want a decent-length, engaging game and where we only really get to play one game.

However, recently, we have been really busy with our university exams. Hours and hours of work and study. But we can't be studying all the time, so we take breaks together. 2 hours of study = 30 mins of break time. Hmmm, I suddenly have a better appreciation of short games...

The other advantage of a short game is that we could finally have some 'filler' or 'warm-up' games. I think the diversity of games in a single session would be really nice.

On the strength of the short play-time I was sold. Pledged $20.

Boss Monster: the Dungeon-Building Card Game

Me: "Oh my gawd, there's a game here called Boss Monster."
Lesbigamer: "I know what you're thinking..."
Me: *GRIN*
Lesbigamer: "Don't buy a game called Boss Monster."

I stumbled across this game as I was backing Eight-Minute Empire. The theme immediately caught my eye, story-wise it was Dungeon Lords i.e. I could play as a cackling evil boss trapping hapless heroes in my dreadful dungeon of despair. But on top of that, it was a throwback into the hey-day of 8-bit gaming. Yummy.

I read the rules, watched the gameplay video supplied on the Kickstarter page. And hey, you know what, I was actually not blown away by it. It seemed simple, and the strategies were not infinitely deep. It is a lighter game. I thought, MAN this game would be fun to play once and then I'd be done with it.

And then I thought, HEY this fills exactly the same niche that Eight-Minute Empire would fill. I love the theme, I love the evil cackling, and I think it would be a quick play for us.

On the strength of the theme, the card-driven gameplay and the short, happy-fun-times play time I grabbed my second Kickstarter backing. Pledged $30 - the POWER-UP PACK.

Exclusive cards? I've never paid for those before. I'd be interested to see whether I thought they were 'worth it'. Time will tell.

The 'did I waste my money' moment

After these purchases, Lesbigamer and I briefly talked about whether it was worth the moolahs. From where she was coming from, she straight out pointed out that for that money, she would much rather buy other games. Ora Et Labora, Stone Age, or maybe save that money for that far off day when we can afford Eclipse.

But here's the problem. Buying those heavier games would be great. I mean, I'd really love those too. But then we'd be stuck in our initial problem of not having short 'filler'-ish games. But buying those short games almost always never feels worth the price-tag, because they are so darn high already in Australia, and then we usually have to add shipping cost... $$$.

Welp, time to wait for those games to meet new stretch goals... and eventually when they get here!


I am most looking forward to seeing what kind of production quality the games have, as I'd like to compare with other games.

*What kind of experience have you guys had with Kickstarter?
*What are your thoughts on crowd-funding v. companies producing?
*How many projects have you backed? How many of them bombed out on you, how many are brilliant gems? Any regrets?
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Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:13 am
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Lesbians On: Death, Destruction and Prototyping

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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(Check the post out on our blog - http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/today-was-momento...)

Today was a momentous occasion.

For today I discovered how to decimate trees, bore the GF, construct equilateral triangles and turn my dining table into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION, all at the same time.

That's right, this morning I, amateur board gamer, blogger of no serious content, and poverty stricken student owner of a mere 23 games did attempt TO MAKE A PROTOTYPE.

I'd had such ill-fated aspersions but once before, when, in my gaming youth I did attempt to make a card gaming involving werewolves, aliens, demons, and amoeba. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for the GF), the game was based on earning gold, which, being made of paper in our prototype, fell down the back of the couch. I was too demoralized to attempt remaking the 76 highlighted pieces. But the fate of this long ago game seems merciful compared to what happened today.

So What Was This So Called "Game?"

At approximately 1:25 pm I clattered down the stairs, and disturbing my girlfriend from her non-boring activity shouted "I HAVE AN IDEA...... FOR A GAME! Wanna hear?"
"No."
"Wanna hear?"
"No."
"Wanna hear?"
"FINE WHAT?"
Having taken this as an obvious green light to consume the GF's time for the remainder of the afternoon, I proceeded to explain the idea.

The Player plays as Space Explorers, searching an abandoned spaceship for fuel capsules. Fuel is rare, and players must compete with each other to collect the most capsules and get out. BUT to complicate things there are....wait for it oh my its so original....ALIENS which players can deploy against other players to do them damage. And players cannot heal, so damage is deadly....

The central idea of this game is the tiles. These are triangular pieces that tessellate together in three columns. Each of these pieces has one two or three exits. Tiles are placed randomly, but players can use cards to rotate the tile they are on, and any adjacent tiles, so they can get where they want to go.



Cards are rare, players cannot draw cards, but must find tokens that allow them to draw. Additionally, players can find resources and supplies that give them additional abilities, such as making their own door, seeing the other players hands, and control of super awesome aliens.

My ideas thus explained, me the GF, and our more geometrically able flatmate then proceeded to construct a prototype and play.....




The Disaster That Followed

So, we played the game. And we played the game, and we played the game. One and a half hours later, we agreed on a tie.

It started off not badly. Their were a few bitchy moves to cut other players off from fuel rods and valuable cards. The aliens did not work as expected - they functioned more like bombs the players threw at each other, but hey, that was fine too.

As time progressed, so the problems mounted. Until, the end game....was disgusting.... horrifying...and really god damn boring. I was reminded somewhat of the end game of Zombies!!! which I have previously vented my dislike of. Except by then all our alien cards had been used up, so it was MUCH MUCH WORSE.

What went wrong?
1. PIGGYBACKING. Well, without aliens, or if a player was holding ways to get around the aliens they just followed another player around, forcing the other player to use all their precious movement card, and then passing them by when it counts. The other player, realizing this, simply just hung around, and all in all nothing happened and everyone was bored.
2. OH LORD WHERE BE THOSE FUEL CAPSULES. Board tiles are revealed when they are adjacent. So if a player failed to reveal a tile earlier on, all the players may find themselves WAY on the other side of the board, with a fuel capsule necessary to win on the other side. And this is a game where moving is HARD.
3. So as a result EVERYTHING SLOWS DOWN. Slows down soooo much......pain....anguish....consumption of two entire packets of Doritos....

Anyway, at the end of it all, I sat back, and looked at the beast we had laid out on the table.
"Well....babe....I've got to admit it had its flaws....but I think if we tweak them enough, it's nothing we can't fix."
"Yes but...." replied the GF
"But what. BUT WHAT?"
"Well...." and so I prepared my tender first-time-board-gamer-designing feelings for what was coming next.
"It's just not fun."

SIGH.

And thus was the beast recycled (luckily for the trees) and our table did return to its former use of dining. Most of the despair and anguish I should probably have felt had been numbed by the boredom I had just experienced.

What I Learned

Yes, I have attempted to turn my tragic experience into some sort of lesson because it's just less depressing that way. What I learned was, WOW board game designers are amazing. The sheer number and variety of board games that come out every year just making taking up the pen, cards, and tiles yourself seem so easy, but it is not! Board game designers put months or years into the same game (and all that play-testing!), and now I can see why. I have a huge respect for these people who have the ingenuity and dedication to make products that are truly awesome. I SALUTE YOU ALLLLLL.

As for me, I should leave the scissors and the stack of paper sitting in my living room alone for the while. If only for the GF's sake. (Did I mention she was working on her final exam? Heh heh.)
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Wed Nov 7, 2012 8:49 am
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Lesbians Bitterly Review: Descent 2.0

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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(Come visit our blog with pictures, here -- http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/lesbians-bitterly...)

Hello girls and guys, how you doin’? We’re a couple of geeky gay gamers from the home of Vegemite, and today we are reviewing a game that brought bitterness and woe upon our table top relationship.

Descent 2.0: Journeys in the Dark Fact File
Players: 2 - 5
Playtime: 120 minutes
Genre: Adventure/ Dice Rolling

It all started as an innocent gift for the GF’s birthday. For weeks, yea months, the GF had been pining for said game, praising its merits and drooling over its figurines. Finally, the game was purchased. But like black clouds crawling across clear skies, the shadow of descent meant that our gaming was never to be the same again. (Well, for a week at least.) ALAS THE DARK CURSE COMETH. For we, once so united in our opinion of games, have become divided like so many polystyrene cups when torn apart by little children and fidgets.

disclaimer: the following is an actual chat conversation between me and the gf

[08:08 pm] lesbigamer: Descent 2.0
[08:08 pm] The_GF: I sense that bitter tone in your voice.
[08:09 pm] lesbigamer: It is not a bitter tone, it is a well-considered and conclusive tone.

APPEARANCE


[08:09 pm] The_GF: Gorgeous.
[08:10 pm] lesbigamer: Generic.
[08:12 pm] The_GF: True, it is a genre well-trodden, but there are interesting characters and no shortage of female leads, which is nice.
[08:12 pm] lesbigamer: I have to admit I'm liking the miniatures - the detail and individualism of each one is pretty impressive. I'm not so excited about the cards. I mean the swords look... like swords. And if enchanted, like slightly shiny swords. Oh my, where do ff get their brilliant ideas?
[08:12 pm] The_GF: The illustrations are still great though, and I love the colours ... how bright and shiny everything is! Funny, considering it is meant to be a journey into the dark...
[08:13 pm] lesbigamer: Yeah.... i don't quite know about the atmosphere it creates...
[08:13 pm] lesbigamer: It is a hard game to take seriously (especially if you read the flavor text… I can’t say the character of SPLIG the fat goblin really strikes terror into my heart.)
[08:16 pm] lesbigamer: Also, I find the game incredibly clunky and fiddly. There are so many different bits.

[08:17 pm] The_GF: So in terms of game components, there definitely are a lot of different bits -- IT'S EXCITING.
[08:17 pm] lesbigamer: (terrifying)
[08:17 pm] The_GF: It might look like a lot (too much) at the start, but-
[08:17 pm] lesbigamer: I haven’t been so scared to open a box.
[08:17 pm] The_GF: really, you aren't going to be using all of them at the same time.
[08:18 pm] lesbigamer: but you do use a lot of them it's very...unstreamlined.
[08:18 pm] The_GF: UNSTREAMLINED? Clearly you have not played the original!
[08:18 pm] lesbigamer: I have not.
[08:19 pm] The_GF: Then say not such things. In any case, the quality of the components themselves are very good, thick chits and nice minis - I'd like to try painting them over the summer.

GAMEPLAY


[08:19 pm] lesbigamer: Game play. Would you like to explain it?
[08:19 pm] The_GF: Yes.
[08:20 pm] The_GF: So, the set up requires one player to play as the Evil Overlord, whilst the other players take on the role of the heroic heroes.
[08:20 pm] lesbigamer: Which means asymmetrical game play.
[08:22 pm] The_GF: The hero characters are given equipment, and earn experience points to boost up their skills in the campaign play. Every hero has a class and very unique set of stats.


[08:22 pm] The_GF: Each one plays differently
[08:22 pm] The_GF: Which is a definite plus for me.
[08:23 pm] The_GF: It makes creating a party of heroes a joy.
[08:23 pm] lesbigamer: But makes one off plays kind of difficult.
[08:23 pm] The_GF: You will be playing through scenarios which pit the Overlord against the heroes. Each scenario is a story which has particular objectives - be it stealing crops for a fat goblin or rescuing cardinals from zombie hordes.
[08:23 pm] lesbigamer: (That’s Splig, the fat goblin of whom I am particularly unafraid.)
[08:23 pm] The_GF: You leave that goblin alone. What did he ever do to you?
[08:23 pm] lesbigamer: HE TOOK FREDERICK NOOOOO
[08:23 pm] lesbigamer: Anyway, the mechanics of the game is very much about modified dice rolling. You move through dungeons using the move points of your characters, and then you attack monsters (or heroes should ye take the evil side) by rolling dice.
[08:24 pm] lesbigamer: You also defend by rolling dice. So get ready to roll a lot of dice.
[08:24 pm] lesbigamer: There are also character "attributes" such as strength, and intelligence, which while seeming thematically random, also are tested during the course of the game. By rolling dice.
[08:28 pm] lesbigamer: Other than that there are number of useful items and equipment and things such as treasures that you can use to boost the strength of your heroes.
[08:28 pm] lesbigamer: Overlords too can boost their might with overlord cards that contain special abilities and are drawn one per turn.

OVERALL

[08:29 pm] lesbigamer: So let us calmly discuss what we thought of the game.
[08:29 pm] lesbigamer: (Get ready for explosion and carnage)
[08:30 pm] The_GF: It is a really fun and excellent thematic game
[08:30 pm] lesbigamer: Without the fun.
[08:30 pm] The_GF: I WANT TO PLAY IT AGAIN. But not with you. Fun-sucker.
[08:30 pm] lesbigamer: So what is fun about this game in your opinion?
[08:33 pm] The_GF: Well, you have a strong narrative to the game, for me, that means being very invested in the goals and characters. So as the OL, I will be sitting there cackling, and thinking I NEED TO INTERROGATE THIS GUY NOW. And that's what I do that turn..
[08:33 pm] lesbigamer: Right but for me the thematic element is very much overshadowed by the mechanical nature of the game play - roll move, roll move.
[08:34 pm] lesbigamer: It's not like you ever really do anything which you would describe as significantly "in character"
[08:35 pm] The_GF: You do everything in character.
[08:35 pm] lesbigamer: ....but how, if it doesn't change anything about the way the game is played?
[08:36 pm] The_GF: Well, for example, as Jain Fairwood, you will be range attacking enemies from afar, and using your speed to get past them to complete objectives. Sure, the die rolling for attacking doesn't change, but the way you play out that turn does because it is based on your characters strengths and weaknesses (stats).
[08:37 pm] lesbigamer: Well maybe…But perhaps it’s a case of approach.
[08:38 pm] lesbigamer: I approach the game looking for engaging mechanics. I look for opportunities to think, rather than opportunities to cackle.
[08:38 pm] The_GF: Ouch. Someone is sleeping on the couch.
[08:38 pm] lesbigamer: FORGIVE MEEEEEE
[08:38 pm] The_GF: Denied.
[08:38 pm] lesbigamer: Sigh… we’ll talk about this later… So tell me, what else did you like about the game?
[08:39 pm] The_GF: I definitely like scenarios, the different maps, different unique rules.
[08:39 pm] The_GF: Lots of variety in what you're trying to do.
[08:39 pm] lesbigamer: I do like the different maps - new challenges. But I feel like they feel a bit same sameish after a while.
[08:39 pm] The_GF: Do you attribute this to the die-rolling mechanic?
[08:40 pm] lesbigamer: Yes, and the general form the objectives take.
[08:40 pm] lesbigamer: They're almost all movement related goals. Stopping or getting.
[08:41 pm] The_GF: That's true actually.
[08:42 pm] The_GF: I guess for me stopping zombies and stopping a goblin from escaping are very different goals because in my mind I am like, HUUURRRR BRAINSS shamble shamble vs. TEE HEE HEE off with the crops I go!
[08:43 pm] lesbigamer: It comes back to for you how the thematic/character elements are stronger than the game play elements.
[08:43 pm] lesbigamer: But can I say something I really don't like about this game?
[08:44 pm] lesbigamer: I honestly don't feel like the game actually pits our minds together in any sort of meaningful way. Like there's all this stuff about oh one side is hereos and the other side is the evil overlord. And how we're locked in a deadly struggle between good and evil. But that's all flavour. In the end for me the mechanic is so....mechanical that I don't feel like we are really playing each other. I feel like the game could take place without us.
[08:50 pm] The_GF: It could, but isn't it that we want to be in that game world?
[08:51 pm] lesbigamer: But i don't really get the fun in that.
[08:51 pm] The_GF: It's like when you're 10 and reading a book, and there is this ... world... of wonders and magic and swordfighting ... and everything cool and fun is taking place there.
[08:52 pm] The_GF: Well, Descent is like being put in the shoes of the heroes, dictating where they go and being part of that.
[08:52 pm] The_GF: I mean did you like choose your own adventure books?
[08:53 pm] lesbigamer: But that's a book. Not a game. I don't really read books for the same reason I play games...
[08:53 pm] lesbigamer: One other problem I would like to raise - in old style d and d you have the figure of the Game Master, who is trying to make the game fun, but not to enact a crushing and humiliating defeat against the heroes. In Descent, you don't have that any more. You have the Over Lord, who is aiming for such diabolic victory as hitherto mentioned.
[08:54 pm] lesbigamer: What does this mean? Well, the OL has a LOT of things on his side. For one thing, he has space, the actual dungeon space on his side. For another, his abilities are more wide ranging. Examples have been noted of abilities that would give automatic wins in certain conditions. (Such as reinforce during part two of the frozen spire scenario)
[08:55 pm] lesbigamer: The OL still FEELS like a GM, but he's not. As such, as people have noted, I think the game is biased towards the OL.
[08:56 pm] The_GF: Shame, because the heroes are always meant to win, no?
[08:57 pm] lesbigamer: Sad but true. And a bit of a blow to your pro theme arguments.
[08:57 pm] The_GF: Nah, I like the evil side, they cackle more.

FINAL REVIEW

[09:01 pm] lesbigamer: Descent was a game that I was super excited for. So many different components, different characters, different abilities - the possibilities seemed endless! They were not. After a few hours of dice rolling, you start to feel like Descent is not a game where you have much control over the outcome. Optimal play is not a complex phenomena. Sure, this game boasts a great theme, some awesome artwork and droolable miniatures, but if like me, you're not a thematic player, you will probably find the dungeons of descent a very barren landscape.
[09:01 pm] lesbigamer: Rating: 4.5

[09:01 pm] The_GF: I like Descent. I decidedly do not like playing it with lesbigamer, because it seems to be an hour and a half of complaining about die-rolling and the futality of it all. It is her prerogative however, and I agree that it is not a game that tests our mettle. I don't play this game thinking that much, but as a light game it is great. Bit lengthy to set up for the short game time, and a nightmare to pack up (I can't get the pieces to fit in the box). But hey that should just mean we keep it out all the time...........
[09:01 pm] The_GF: Rating 7.5



6/10
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Tue Nov 6, 2012 1:28 am
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[Android:Netrunner] WANTED: New Recruits for Evil Corporation. APPLY WITHIN.

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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(Visit our blog! Pls? Here: http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/androidnetrunner-...)

*Ahem* I would like to preface this post by saying that the Girlfriend and I have been playing a little too much Android: Netrunner lately... (Read FANATICAL OBSESSION)... In fact, it feels almost like the world of Netrunner and our own world have become one.....

LOOKING FOR WEALTH AND ADVENTURE? SEARCHING FOR THE JOB THAT WILL CHALLENGE AND REWARD YOU? WHY NOT JOIN AN EVIL CORPORATION?

Yes, there comes a time in every person's life when joining an evil corporation is both a goal and a dream. When you must take control of your future and destiny and invest it multi-planet domination. But although exciting, this time can also be stressful and confusing. For you must answer the most difficult and significant question you will ever face. Which evil corporation should I join?



THAT'S WHERE WE COME IN

That's right. We here at Games Reviewed by Lesbians have spent years mulling over the scientific research, studying personality archetypes, and profiling the leading evil corporations of today. And we have pooled our knowledge and expertise into THIS QUIZ. Merely answer 7 SIMPLE QUESTIONS, and tally your score, and behold you will find which corporation suits your persuasion.

***Read more »
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Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:30 am
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The GF On: Our DESCENT into Lesbian Bed Death

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/the-gf-on-our-des...

It all began once upon an evening, when I erroneously let Lesbigamer play a particular game on my PS3 and she discovered, with great delight, the wondrous joys of SKYRIM. My woeful predicament:



Obviously, this situation was not to be condoned, and, I had, words, with her to the effect that fine, you're out on the couch tonight. Which was just fine for her. Damn.

Things seemed grim in the relationship at this point, but the next morning, whilst moping in bed was on the agenda, a loud knocking resounded from the front door......

Me: Hello?

Smiling Dude: HI. I SMILE SO BIG IT HURTS. BUT NOT AS BIG AS THIS BIG THING WHICH IS FOR YOU! WHAT'S YOUR NAME? HERE TAKE THIS, NO WAIT, SIGN THIS FIRST.

Me: Wait, what, okay, sign here? Okay.

Smiling Dude: OKAY, GOOD. YAY. IT'S MY FIRST WEEK ON THE JOB AND I'M STILL LEARNING. LEMME MAKE YOU MORE EXCITED WITH MY EXCITEMENT FOR EVERYTHING. I'M FROM NEPAL BY THE WAY. I'MMA SMILE SOME MORE.

Me: I'M SUPER EXCITED NOW, THANKS!

Smiling Nepalese Dude: Thanks, bye!

***

Me: What was that all about...? And what's in here?

Lesbigamer: *GRIN*

And thus it was that I received my early birthday present... DESCENT: Journeys in the Dark, 2nd ed (and Lesbigamer was allowed back in our boudoir of lesbian bliss).




***

Me: YAAAAAAAAAAAY! So, shall we play Descent like, now!? (*u*)

Lesbigamer: ....

...

...

...

...

...


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Wed Oct 3, 2012 12:03 am
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Lesbians Review: Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin

lesbigamerz
Australia
Sydney
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Good evenin' folks, today's review is picture supported and shiny and to be found here: http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/lesbians-review-t...

***

G'day gamers, we're two lolzy lesbians from the land of the drop bear and today we bring to you a review of a game where heroes sometimes fight for players and players always fight for hereos, Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin.

Thunderstone Advance Fact File
Players: 1 - 5
Playtime: 45 - 60
Genre: Deck Building/ Fighting

Our journey with Thunderstone Advance started when my GF failed to recieve a mysterious package in the mail. For three days and three nights a great famine of Board Gaming swept the land (by which I mean our house). There were complaints. There were depressive spurts. There were complaints about the depressive spurts. Just when we thought that the delivery truck containing the game had definitely been abducted by aliens and deposited on a random desert planet to observe human board gaming behaviour in times of intense stress, A KNOCK CAME ON THE DOOR.
When we opened it, no human was in sight, just a white package the size of two shoe boxes, and a faint whisper through the air saying "lose not faith....lose not faith..."
As you can imagine, it did not take us long to get from a cardboard box to a snowfall of torn white paper and a fully set up board.

APPEARANCE

Thunderstone Advance has in general opted for a welcome-to-Middle-Earth style fantasy iconography, with all the usual pointy-ears, bearded midgets, and glowing mages, none of whom are called by their canonical names (shh....maybe players will think the creators were being original). Given the um...particular perspective... of my GF and I, the highlight of the artwork were definitely the female heroes, who when unboxed we greeted with the appropriate wolf-whistles, offers of drinks in the nearest tavern, etc. etc. In some cases however, odd creative choices seem to have taken place. Here's my top three ???s:
1. Draken Lairds. T'is a scottish konbold fight I?
2. Tree-Folk. Why is this a thing? Why are they harder to kill than dragons?
3. Glamercasts. No. Just no.

Overall though, the theme is strong, and carried out with a reasonable level of success.

In terms of the component quality, this game is slick. The colours are intense and bright, and the game board and card stock are great.

GAMEPLAY

Thunderstone's Rules of Play happens to be one of the most well-presented and accessible rulebooks we've had the pleasure of reading (see our earlier post on the terror of the Ghost Stories rulebook). In this particular case I would actually refer you to this 4-page learn to play booklet that easily summarizes the game if you are interested in learning how to play Thunderstone: HERE BE BOOKLET


BUT, if you only want a quick few lines on the gameplay... Thunderstone is a deck-builder game. You have starting deck of a few sub-heroes, weapons and items. At the start of your turn you draw six cards. You use these cards to:
(a) go to the village, where you can purchase moar and shinier heroes, weapons, villagers and items; or
(b) go to the dungeon, where you can fight a nice array of evil creatures and gain xp to level up your heroes, as well as gaining victory points for defeating the monsters.

When you defeat a monster, they are added into your deck as 'trophies'. Some of them have useful effects you can use in your turn (e.g. count as +1 attack), but for the most part, they sit around in the style of dominion estates, clogging up your deck till the end of the game where they count as victory points.


The idea is to balance the different kinds of cards in your deck to put you in the best spot for monster collecting. In other words, in the style of most other board games, you get more stuff to get more stuff.

OVERALL



Thunderstone Advance feels a little bit like a five year old kid making his own milkshake. DECK BUILDING, yummy, we'll throw that in. FIGHTING, yes, fighting SUPER-BADASS MONSTERS, everyone likes to fight monsters. With HEROES, with DIFFERENT COOL SKILLS that you can LEVEL UP! Then blend it all together, and it's got to be delicious right? Right, right? But somehow, despite the fact that Thunderstone is a pick-and-mix of all the gaming elements I really love, something about it falls flatter than a solo game of Scrabble. All the right elements are there but game play often makes me feel as if I am stuck in a traffic jam.

If I try and diagnose this problem I would put it down to most card sets just really not working well together. The problem with this is that it lays waste the idea of strategic deck building. There is no sense of challenge in Thundersone for me, nothing I can sink my metaphorical brain-teeth into. Instead, Thunderstone often feels like a track team race to grab those heroes and level ‘em fast before your opponent steals both those Thundermage Bolters and magically zaps their way to victory. This is not particularly fun.

This is particularly not particularly fun when you are losing. Now I’m a person who likes to view losing as a challenge rather than a problem, a transitory state to be swiftly passed through on the way to crushing your opponent and using their morale as your personal footstool. In Thunderstone however, triumphant comebacks are rare, and this is a systematised effect of the game. In other words - “I heard you like winning, so I’ll give you xp while you get vp so you can win while you are winning.”

You'll notice that a lot of the problems I've been talking about are multi-player. Oddly, I've actually found Thunderstone Advance a more satifying ridin' solo (or fightin' solo). Suddenly, you are plunged into a deathly struggle that requires wits, and planning to defeat, rather than spending your time worrying about your opponents XP pile. The difficulty of solo play can be easily adjusted, and as a masochist, I love the fact that you start off facing the unbeatable, which gradually becomes the beatable and then hopefully, the beat.

I am well aware that I've only played Thunderstone Advance 2-players (or solo), and perhaps it is a game where more is actually merry. Any Thunderstone players around who can share their experiences here? We would well appreciate some discussion on this game, because if there exists a way for us to enjoy it more we would love to try it.

Final Review

Me: Thunderstone Advance is a game with more cool things then you can poke a stick, pike, or dwarven bear hammer at, yet despite that it doesn't really fit together. There is still a certain satisfaction however in deck-building and monster blood splattering, especially in the games beginning - stabbing that first skeleton in the bony ribs holds a charm that even a dodgy game mechanic cannot vanquish. But multiplayer the game is more frustrating than fantasy adventuring, as players with xp earn more xp and those without find themselves drowning their sorrows continually in the tavern (read:village).
Rating: 6.5

GF: The coolest thing about this game is the vast amount of cards you get. So many heroes to level up, each with their own distinct charm.... the problem is that you don't get to use many of them in the one game... funnily, I never had this problem with Dominion, but here in Thunderstone, I feel the lack. Perhaps it is because Dominion has more of a slant towards strategy, meaning that card sets are more like a deck-optimization puzzle that makes you work with what you've got. Thunderstone slants more towards the fantasy theme and involves you more in a story, an epic tale of Thunderbearer-killing quests... and it's actually a bummer you can't involve yourself with all the elements of the game in one play. It's like if you played a demo version of something like Final Fantasy where you're locked to only playing the Knight, but you know all the cool kids are playing Black Mage. Thunderstone has that kind of feel.
BUT WAIT.... THERE IS AN EPIC VARIANT, which lets you use all the cards! This is great, albeit a little long to set up. I had some fun with this game, but it quickly grew stale for me, sadly.
GF's Rating: 6


...solo, I'm fightin' solo, I'm fightin' solo, I'm fightin' solo solo....


6.5/10
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Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:01 pm
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A Lesbian Session Report!: Ghost Stories - Players vs Rulebook

lesbigamerz
Australia
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Hey, friends! We are back with contentful (and pictureful) posting, here: http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/a-lesbian-session...

***

G'day folks, we're a couple of gay gamers from the land down under, and today we have for you a speedy session report of that game of otherworldly difficulty, Ghost Stories.

A game of Ghost Stories is never the same twice. Or, if played between the Girlfriend and I, a game of Ghost Stories never has the same rules twice. Yes, believe it or not, Wu Feng's ugly incarnations are nothing compared to the utter terror contained with the German/French/English rule book. Let's recap (somewhat embarrassingly) what happened when the GF and I tried to play Ghost Stories as a "brief" evening game.

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Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:21 pm
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Hiatus End: Resuming Normal Operations!

lesbigamerz
Australia
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This is our blog here: http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/hiatus-end-resumi...

Dearest friends,

This is the GF speaking.

You may have noticed an ominous silence in these parts as of late. Yes, we have been missing-in-action since July. But, good news, the lesbigamerz are back! And more furiously game-playing than ever before.

As a short explanation for our Ramona Flowers-esque flaky and sudden disappearance, I am happy to announce that Lesbigamer and I have moved in together ...

We are living there with another friend who went to high school with us.
She occasionally gets dragged into our game-playing, fortunately not kicking or screaming.

It's a happy little terrace house (emphasis on little). But we've been so busy trying to find a place to live, getting rental applications approved and actually moving in, the last two months have flown us by without a blog post. We hope to continue our regular posting now that things have settled down somewhat.

So really, the point of this boils down to, we've missed you all sorely, we've missed board game posts and WE'LL SEE YOU BACK HERE! (Very soon, Lesbigamer is next to me writing up a session report on Ghost Stories!)

A warm thank you also to the kind people who have left us encouraging messages to continue. We really appreciate your support. ❤

Cheers,
The GF.
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Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:42 am
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Lesbians On: A Few Hiccups in My Relationship with Board Games

lesbigamerz
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Click through to find the picture-filled, easier to digest version on our website, here!: http://lesbigamerz.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/lesbians-on-few-h...

***

Hey there, we’re two gay board gaming girls from the land of Vegemite. Now I like to think that I’m a bit of a board game Casanova – wooing the best units with my skillz and dashing good looks, playing my cards right to charm those victory points to my side of the board. I mean, I do literally keep all my games inside my (not usually steamy) boudoir.

Sadly however, there are times when there are little hiccups in our otherwise beautiful relationship. Ok, it is a shameful admission, but there are a few parts of gaming I fail at harder than a five estate hand in Dominion. Try as I might, there are some things at which I will never improve, even with my very own training montage. Today, I’m writing about those curs’ed things.

1. Hoarding Cards to Make Apocalyptic Hands

There is a wise old saying, urging speedy and decisive action, which goes like this: “Strike while the iron is hot.” Sadly, I seem to have developed my own personal version of this phrase which goes something like “strike while the iron is still tepid.” Draw a killer card first round? I’m not waiting for that so called “optimal strategic moment” to play it as part of a “killer combo.” If I’m holding TNT in my hand I want to scorch my opponent now dammit, not wait to fuse it into an atomic bomb. Apparently, this is not what hard core awesome gamers do. I BRING SHAME ON MY FAMILY.

An example. I mentioned on our Twitter (https://twitter.com/lesbigamerz) that my gorgeous gorgeous girlfriend had given me the best surprise an obsessed gamer can get, and planted a brand new copy of RFTG: The Gathering Storm in the middle of my games collection. She also slipped in another game – a cute and quirky card-based quick play called Gloom.

The object of Gloom is to subject the family you play to the most extreme misery possible, and then kill them off for points. Because, you know, board game players are such nice people. For a game of family fun, Gloom can get hilariously vicious, especially when I play with the GF when, as I mentioned before, a friendly match becomes an attempt to crush each other TO THE FIERY DEPTHS OF HELL.

Most of the cards in Gloom are averagely useful, but now and then in a 2 player game you draw a card SO AWESOME that it’s almost embarrassing. These cards have such power that when played it feels like your opponent has picked up your entire game so far and put it through a blender. Thus, when three or four of these cards come out in a row, it’s like a blender, followed by a meat mincer, then an industrial mixer, then back through the meat mincer once again. Which is pretty much what I felt had happened to me after I lost to the GF four games in a row (out of four).

The first two games my ego let me chalk it down to luck. After the second two, I could deny it no longer. The GF had a skill I didn’t. The problem was, that while I played a series of unfortunate events, she played the game like a Shakespearian tragedy – everything goes along swimmingly until suddenly everyone ends up dead. No matter how determined I was, I could not hold those great cards until the end. My apocalyptic nuke’em hand of ultimate doom and destruction is never to be…

2. Spending Downtime Well

I’m going to put it out there, I view dealing with downtime as a skill. And as someone who when gaming almost exclusively partners with their exclusive partner (read: 2 player), it’s a skill I’ve never really developed. I’ve heard that there is many a useful and wise thing one can do during downtime. You could, for instance, plan not one, but several next moves that could be implemented according to the condition of the board after the other players’ turns. Alternatively, you could watch your opponent like you’re viewing an old detective film, trying to turn their gestures and moves into clues as to what they’ll do next. But, if you’re me, downtime quite simply just means naptime. Sometimes this can become literal (like during a 1am four player game of Mage Knight.) But mostly this just means turning off the cogs, putting up my metaphorical feet, and thinking about what’s for dinner. By the time my turn comes along, I have to kick start myself back into gear again, and my next turn just takes even longer.

This zone-out-factor is even higher in indirect interaction games, and it’s usually not until the very last turn that I look over and see everyone has seven cards in their Citadel’s tableau. Clearly, this calls for drastic action to be taken. What I should be doing is rubbing my razor powers of observation against a knife-sharpener very rapidly, before I find myself losing to opponents I should have crushed utterly beneath my mighty wrath. What I actually do is look for other innovative ways to entertain myself during my downtime. Like, say…attempting to play two games at once.

3. Attempting to Play Two Games At Once

This was much harder than it initially seemed, especially since different players take different amounts of time to play their turns – ironically, it led to just as much downtime! It also seriously cut down my chances of winning or actually enjoying either game. I have learnt an important lesson from this. Board games are JEALOUS MISTRESSES. They do NOT like you fooling around with another. Even when you tell them they are the game you really care about, you are still going to accidentally pick up that hand of USSR cards when you’re playing as the US. Threesome? Forget it.

4. Bluffing

Bluffing is a skill that can be used on many different levels. On the highest level, it is a complex psychological process which involves double, triple, or quadruple guessing your opponents in order to hound them, cat and mouse style, into behaving the very way you desire. Few board game players can master this. On a more basic level it’s about hiding your intent to strike with your mighty-hand-of-awesome-and-soul-crushing-woe, or when you are holding less than nothing but still need to hold your own. This, most players can manage. Not me. Case in point, yesterday’s game of Twilight Struggle:

GF: I see you’ve placed all your influence in Europe. Holding a Europe scoring card?
Me: No. What are you talking about? No. Maybe. No. ALRIGHT I ADMIT IT I AM HOLDING IT I’m sorry I couldn’t lie to you it breaks my heart….

…Sad, but true….

In high school way back, when Werewolf was still a fun and really cool game, we had to invent a rule that applied only to me, banning direct questioning because I crumpled even under extremely mild interrogation. I refuse to play poker because I turn bright red whenever someone asks a question about my cards (the only kind of flush I ever seem to get.) But wait, it gets worse. For I have broken the first commandment of bluffing. A commandment so simple that a player without it is fatally handicapped. That commandment is: not saying your strategy out loud. Yep, this may not require skill, strategy, or higher order thinking, but it does appear to require some level of self-restraint, which I apparently do not have.

Race For the Galaxy:
1. Me: Oh, I don’t have any consume powers.
(GF consumes.)
2. Me: Looks like I’ll end the game this turn
(GF discards all cards for a 6? development and wins.)
3. Me: And then, I will take the first to discard bonus.
(GF takes first to discard bonus)
Me: ALAS ALL MY PLANZ LIE IN WASTE AND RUIN.
Bluffin, my very worst enemy…
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Wed Jul 4, 2012 10:53 am
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