$25.00
$10.00

Yet Another Boardgaming Blog...

General gaming related nonsense!

1 , 2 , 3  Next »  

Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

January 2016, episode 13 of 12. My month of gaming, films, books, tv, and, er, other stuff.

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
A start of a new year is always a good opportunity to look back over the previous year, as well as look forward to the year ahead. With a year of writing these monthly reports I’ve decided to keep going, but am going to add a ‘last year’ section as well to just review what I was playing, reading, watching or generally doing last year, and to see if my opinions at the time were right. I recorded 40 plays this month, and played a lot of really good new games as well as some old favourites.

New Game Of The Month
Two really good games for me this month – Fireteam Zero wins out though because it works really well as a solo and also with more (although I only played it solo or with 2). The game on the whole works, although I have some minor reservations.

The good – Really easy to learn, and to teach, and I’ve yet to encounter a situation that I can’t just figure out for myself. I needed to re-read the rules after my first play, but doing so clarified everything I wasn’t sure about. The player’s decisions really matter as well – timing is essential, much like Gears Of War. Knowing when to push forward, when to attack, and identifying when monsters are going to be attacking in groups, and when this needs to be dealt with are all important decisions. The monsters aren’t entirely predictable, and every few turns, and additional twist card makes the game tougher for the heroes, so there is the pressure of trying to keep moving forward. The maps can be very open as well, allowing for some interesting play options (although I prefer the tighter corridor maps).

The bad – Setup can be fiddly (finding all the right cards can be a pain), especially with some of the later missions where players are having to select numerous special cards, and when making a decision, the layout of the board and the monster and hero types involved are relevant. In a way this is also a positive, because it is nice that you care about what you’re going to need for a particular mission. With only three storylines, and three missions per story, there isn’t a lot in here considering the price point. Also, the boards are very dark, and could have done with being a tone lighter, with a little more colour. The terrain effects are highlighted with a colour border and a symbol, and in most cases a location is dominated by these symbols and highlights rather than by the artwork of the location itself, and this is a shame. I’d bet that the art file on the designer’s computer looks far better than the finished board.

Another negative is that 5 cards in hand doesn’t give you much resistance. If a hero gets ambushed, no one can play any reaction cards, so the hero just has to take the damage. With some monsters, an ambush can kill a hero instantly no matter how careful the party have been, and then the coin gets flipped. Losing a hero early on in a turn due to an ambush also then leaves the other players vulnerable as they are now going to be the target of additional attacks, and the game can go from comfortable to lost cause in the space of a few minutes. This can be really frustrating after playing for 90 minutes.

Second best game this month was Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game. The game isn’t perfect, but is accessible, and does provide a good card-based dungeon crawl in a compact time frame, and also has a campaign mode which allows for development of characters and items to make the game more interesting. I’ve only played the intro mission (stopped before it ended because it was so simple) the delve mission (I got killed), a 3 player, a 4 player (both the opening mission) and a couple of solo plays.

The good – teaching is easy, the exploration and loot cards are thematically well done, and the structure of the missions is good. Monsters tend to fit the locations and theme, and it is easy to get into the game both in terms of picking it up and playing it quickly, and also in terms of immersion into the theme of the game. Within five minutes of opening the box, I’m taking my two adventurers deep into a dungeon, weapons waving, and enemies falling around us.

The bad – sometimes stuff gets gamey, and takes you out of the moment. As each hero has a refresh action, the order actions are taken in is important, and this needs to be calculated in order to get the maximum returns on exploration and damage. It can be done within the realms of the game, but I find myself being less aware of the theme, and more aware of the calculative element when figuring this out. A small problem, and one that might actually make the game appeal more to some players. The other bad is the game difficulty is not even over player numbers – the more characters in the dungeon, the easier it gets. This is due to no scaling of enemies at locations. With 2 heroes, you’ll soon find both characters engaged with 2 or 3 monsters. With more, the monsters get spread out, making them far less of a chore.

Best Session Of The Month
We had a game of BSG scheduled, and I fully expected this to be the best session of the month – the right gamers, the right game, but it all went wrong early on, and never really recovered. We put a lot of expectation on BSG, and always expect it to deliver. Most of the time it does, but occasionally it falls flat, and this time it did – player arguments that got out of hand (I take some responsibility here – I gave one of the guys a ribbing about what I thought was a poor decision, and he’d normally give as good as he gets), constant use of the Pegasus engine room, and hardly any combat threat made it a cake walk for the humans. Cain did her additional jump, and with the admiral a good guy we made jumps of 3, 2, and 3, and then a quick final jump. Both revealed cylons had a turn or two each with weak super crisis cards before it was all over. With hindsight the cylons should have thrown suspicion out earlier, especially with discontent in the ranks, but nothing came out.

Anyway, less about that, and more about the best session of the month – Burgle Bros with 3 of us robbing the bank. This was my first play, and we had a lot of fun with it. We split as soon as we found the safe on the first floor, with one guy heading up, and the remaining two of us cracking the safe. Second floor we played in a similar fashion, although this time the player not cracking the safe stayed on the floor below. We then had two of us working the safe on the 3rd floor before making a final dash for it. The theme works well, the equipment cards are daft but fun, and the character abilities are highly varied and interesting.

It strikes me that Burgle Bros is highly influenced by the Matt Leacock school of design – multiple face down tiles in a pattern, characters with individual abilities, a number of actions per turn, locate tiles, gain items, then get out of Dodge. The game feels familiar enough, but the added Guards, walls, items and events add enough to make it stand firm on its own right, and be a worthwhile addition to my collection.

Another notable session was Deception: Murder In Hong Kong which we played 5 times in a single sitting. This is a fun blend of Mysterium and Codenames with a traitor, and I really enjoyed it despite my early reservations.

Solo Gaming
4 plays of Warhammer Quest Card Game, 3 Fireteam Zero, 2 Gears Of War, 1 Burgle Bros and 1 Zombicide Black Plague. The Fireteam Zero and Gears Of War sessions are the most notable here – with Gears Of War it feels so good to get it back on the table again. I played Roadblock through twice in my rather drawn out run through all of the base game scenarios, and this, although not as good as some of the other scenarios (Belly Of The Beast is the best Ive found so far) was as enjoyable as always, and proved to me yet again why this is the best game in my collection. I love the AI implementation here – running the risk of putting yourself in a dangerous situation in the hope that a particular enemy doesn’t activate, getting caught unexpectedly when enemies make a rush attack, and also giving up cards (health) to try and hit them before they hit you. Just love this game, although I am impressed with Fireteam Zero.

Games Added To The Collection
6 games and 1 expansion. So much for a ‘1 in, 1 out’ policy – although I’ve got some more games that just need to go to the charity shop as I’ve tried to sell them, and failed, and can’t even give them away. So games in are Burgle Bros (after really enjoying this as a co-op), Risk: Star Wars Edition (really like this, and it has very little to do with Risk), Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King (because a solo dungeon crawler is right up my street), WWE Superstar Smackdown (it was cheap, it’s a Gale Force 9), Thrash’n Roll (poor Kickstarter I went in on solely for the theme), Fireteam Zero (best new game this month) and the expansion was Relic: Halls Of Terra because I really enjoy the base game, and this gives a solo option other than just playing it with 1 character.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To

Battle Of Westeros – I picked this up on a deal from Amazon, and it just sat on my shelf unplayed for over a year. I listed it for sale, and it went for more than I paid for it, so I don’t mind seeing it go. I’ve also picked up Great War which is also unplayed, and would rather play that over BoW.

Continuing with narrowing down my solo collection to those titles I really enjoy, Galaxy Defenders also went because for me it was a bit of a mess – too many little fiddly parts made the game difficult to pick up and play, and again there are other better games in the same genre (SCAM, TOEE, FZ and GOW).I picked this up with Phantom Fury as a trade for Warfighter – as it turns out, I didn’t think much of any of those games. I’m pretty happy that the solo collection I’ve got now gives me a really good variety of excellent games to choose from.

Other Gaming Stuff
I got some more miniature painting done on my Arcadia Quest set. I painted a few of the larger models, but I’ve still got a few of the beasts, and all of the Heroes to do, so this isn’t going to get finished any time soon. It’s a shame in a way as the game is great fun, but isn’t getting played because all the figures are sat in my painting box.

A couple of sessions this month made me think a lot about gaming etiquette. My biggest personal frustration when I play games is players that whine – I think it is ‘bad sportsmanship’ and I saw a poor example of it this month during a game of Ultimate Warriorz. One player targeted another player, and that targeted player then immediately whined about it, the usual ‘why are you attacking me, don’t attack me, attack him, I’m weaker than him, attack him’ and lo and behold the player making the attack changed their target. Fine - I took the hit, and then was out of the game. It’s a short game, so that doesn’t bother me – what bothers me more is this manipulation.

I don’t mind a player saying ‘this would be a better attack’ and have often done so, even making myself the target, especially for a player new to a game to maximise their experience, but the call was borderline at best (the attack was likely to end the game for either of us). Now in a game that lasts 20 minutes it really doesn’t matter, but I’ve seen this happen in a game that lasts two hours, and all it means is that I quietly avoid playing against this type of player.

Interestingly we banned interaction during a player’s turn of Thunder Alley in our tournament for the same reason – we felt players should be free to move with, or block whomever they want, without other players interfering. This made the game far more tense and exciting and I now find myself hoping that the active player has missed something that would hinder me, or include me in their tow instead of leaving me behind. It may be coincidence, but my results have improved since we introduced this.

The BSG session took me by surprise because it was with a player who would normally analyse everything about my play during this game, and would be the first to point the finger if I make anything like a suspicious move (we’ve played games other than BSG and I’ve been killed for no other reason than because it’s me). To me, maybe wrongly, this is also part of the play of a game like BSG – players who make questionable decisions should be doubted, and have their action looked at. With the benefit of hindsight, we walked it, and the call made little difference other than my challenge killed the game like someone switching the lights on at the cinema.

So what should have happened? Should I have made the challenge (nobody else was bothered by his decision)? Ultimately I suppose I should learn when and when not to push – the challenge itself was reasonable, but highlighting it again after wasn’t. I love to be accused, I enjoy that suspicion, also it doesn’t bother me if I end up getting pegged as a traitor when I’m not – I’ll just try and prove my innocence. But I can go a long way before I snap, and every person has their line.

Music
A lot of great music this month – Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, the new Clutch album, Berlin by Kadavar, and also I picked up a new copy of 13 Tales by Dandy Warhols – my original copy just disappeared a number of years ago, and I always loved the album, so it’s great to have it back (and it brings back some happy memories). If I was making a recommendation, I’d say give Blood Lust by Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats a go – heavy, riff laden rocking out. If you want something a little lighter though the new Shearwater album is really good – the best thing of this ilk I’ve heard since the last album by War On Drugs.

On a separate note, I got the guitar out in anger for the first time in over a year, and had a couple of sessions playing with the drummer from the band I used to be in. We messed about just jamming and riffing, but it was great fun, and we’re planning on keeping it going until we run out of ideas, or it stops being fun (to be honest, they are likely to happen at the same time). For anyone interested, I’ve got a Peavey Wolfgang and a Jackson Soloist, and use a Peavey 5150 amp as well as a Marshall VS100 (but not at the same time). For effects, I’ve got a Jim Dunlop Cry Baby, a Metal Muff, and an Ibanez chorus. I’m using the Jackson and the Marshall at the moment, but the two Peaveys do sound really nice together. We just riffed on some stuff – kind of like Sleep’s Dopesmoker, but with less drugs.

Books

I finished Go Set A Watchman, and although the book dragged, its final set piece was well written and emotive stuff. It didn’t change how I felt about To Kill A Mockingbird, and added flesh to that story rather than took away from it. We all grow up, but not in the way that some around us might hope.

I’m now reading Lightning by Dean Koontz, having enjoyed Watchers so much, but it there is a lot of common ground between the books, in characters, their relationships, and to some degree storylines and particular scenes. A little disappointing if I’m honest, and at the moment, I’d have to say Watchers is the better of the two books. My other issue with Lightning is that it is a story about a writer, and Koontz has tried to create the perfect person who just happens to also be a famous writer. The book is picking up for the final scenes though so I’m still hopeful this might save it.

Film

It’s all about Star Wars. We saw it on 1/1 at the iMax, and then again about a week later. I loved it, and was blown away by it, and felt almost even more excited about it than I did when I saw Empire Strikes Back at the old cinema in Tunbridge Wells back in 1980 with my brother and my cousin. I know it has been said before, and I’m not going to add any spoilers, but the film feels so damn physical. The sets feel real, the battles are so well filmed and realistic, and some of the camera work, particularly some of the cockpit scenes feel like you are there with debris flying around.

As far as the story is concerned yes it is a rehash, but there is plenty still to answer and this feels like the early steps of a much longer journey. Both my sons on the two different occasions we went said after that they would have happily gone immediately back into the cinema and watched it all over again.

TV
Finished Man In The High Castle. Very enjoyable, well contained in one series (although I see more are on their way), and also Rufus Sewell is truly incredible in this, and just chews up the scenery. Worth it just for his performance, and he makes Rupert Evans look poor.

We also watched Making A Murderer over the space of about 10 days, and I have to say this is one of those tv moments in my life where something truly interesting and original is happening. I’m staggered by it – if it had been made as a drama, it wouldn’t look real, but this is a documentary, and everything about it is just incredible from the very beginning. The pace of the filming is great, and the twists and turns often left us flabbergasted. I’ve got so much to say on this, but I’m aware many people are still to see it, and the less you know about it (I’d heard nothing before watching it) the better it is.

Video Games
All Fallout 4 for me this month. I’m level 22, and tough enough to wade through Raiders without breaking a sweat. The story is well written, and although there is often a similar feeling to a lot of the missions, I’m enjoying the story. The game not making regular saves can be hugely frustrating, and a couple of times I’ve lost what feels like about 30 minutes of gaming. You can die really suddenly, and sometimes if you miss a weapon, or tackle something too early the game can be really really tough. The setting is fantastically grubby and messed up though, and the storms that roll in can be hugely atmospheric. Happy to stick with this one, and I’m enjoying the ability to dip in and out of missions as I see fit.

Last Year
January last year, looking back, was a bit of a non-event. My game of the month was Coup G54, and this got played in January, then March, but nothing since. I still like the game, but there are just so many games in this genre. As far as everything else was concerned, I was making better progress then on painting, but as a result, I recorded less plays. The 2 games I spoke about soloing (Dead Panic and Zpocalypse) have both since left my collection – January was the first and last time I played them. The best addition to my collection was Viticulture Collector’s Edition – I had a lot of fun playing the solo of this during the year last year, and would like to get the game played more with my group.

Next Month
A little more painting, and a lot more gaming. We’ve got two sessions already booked in – Time Stories and Game Of Thrones 2nd edition, and I’m looking forward to both. Weekends are really busy as we’re having work done on the house, but Friday nights fit nicely for these extra sessions, along with the regular Wednesday gaming.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Mon Feb 1, 2016 1:39 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

December, 12 of 12, or more to come?

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, the original idea was to just do this for a year, but I’ve enjoyed writing these so I plan on sticking with it until it becomes a chore.

Christmas is over for another year, and a new year begins, but before we get to that, I’ve got my December gaming to review. This December turned out to be a good month for gaming.

New Game Of The Month
Zombicide: Black Plague takes the honours this month, but didn’t blow me away. This ‘new’ version is very similar to the original with some tweaks and a few new additions. The tweaks are all positive – no awful vehicles to worry about, and also now when making a ranged attack into a space with survivors only the misses get allocated to the other characters – this makes more thematic sense. Also, each character now has 3 lives, as well as having the ability to carry and roll for armour. So far so good.

The additions are a bit of a mixed bag. I like the vaults – these often link areas of the map, and hold better items in them. There are only two vault cards in the base set which is a bit of a shame – a few more would have really helped here. But more importantly the vaults provide interesting ways of moving around the map, although they do make calculating zombie moves more confusing. I’m still undecided about the Necromancer – he creates a spawn point, and then tries to leave the board to make his spawn a permanent one. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and when he creates 2 spawns in the same place, the game is over. The double spawn cards I really don’t like. Maybe it is just rotten luck, but they always seem to come up as the final draw which means you just spawn again on the first spawn point, and if you draw any more, then you spawn again at the next spawn point.

So why don’t I like them? Well, most of the scenarios require you to pick up the markers which give you 5 experience, so very quickly every character will be levelling up. Fine so far. Then you add in the double spawn cards, and as a result there are a lot of zombies coming out each spawning round. Add to that one tray of Zombies to place out and you’ll soon be making additional activations because you’ve run out of zombies. So by around turn 10, walkers will be additionally activating five or six times in a turn, which no matter what means game over. You just can’t kill them quickly enough.

So does this mean the game is broken? No – there are two answers. Firstly, remove some of the double spawn cards – there are simply too many in the deck. Secondly, go get that Zombicide box and use the minis from it. Now, no stupid game ending situations created by double spawns and additional activations.

Best Session Of The Month
We had two really close and exciting sessions of Baseball Highlights 2045 at my local group, one that I lost and one that I won. This game really delivers, and despite the fact the rules aren’t complete out of the box, we’ve had huge amounts of fun with this.

Solo Gaming
Well, quite a lot this month. Baseball Highlights 2045 is really easy to get out of the box and solo (although wait for the January write-up – I’ve been playing something recently that means BH2045 isn’t getting to the table) and I’m really trying to get a series win with no buys and no losses. Other than this, I played Castellion 6 times, and a single solo game of Room 25 season 2. Castellion is good, but I’d rather play Sylvion of the games in the series, and Room 25 was a learning game to allow me to get the game back on the table with my local group.

Games Added To The Collection
Despite it being Christmas, I only added 4 games to the collection – Warhammer Quest Card Game, Niya, Castellion and Rapidough. Of these, Rapidough was a gift from my son’s fiancé, and Niya was a gift from my wife. A very different mix of games, and by the time I’ve written this I’ve played all of them (and the Warhammer game is superb).

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
Last month I sold three solo games. This month continues with a similar theme.

D-Day At Omaha Beach – couldn’t get my head around the rules, tried playing it a few times, and ended up with a dead end situation, so I must have been doing something wrong. So it is gone. Shadows Of Malice is a similar story – the rulebook was pretty poor and didn’t really ever properly explain what a player could do on their turn, add to that a load of different elements that I couldn’t quite get my head around, and this is also gone. It isn’t that I can’t cope with complicated rules, but I like to be able to pick up a game and play it, not pick it up and have to read a manual each time.

The other game sold this month was Bausack – I played it once and didn’t enjoy it. There were issues with the rules as written, and the group I played with just didn’t get it.

Other Gaming Stuff
We held our annual Game Of The Year vote in my local group, and Baseball Highlights 2045 won narrowly from Quartermaster General. I wrote to Mike Fitzgerald to let him know, but unfortunately heard nothing back – last year’s winner was Dead Of Winter and when I wrote to one of the designers he wrote back and said ‘cool, that means a lot, let’s have a beer’. Still, that isn’t the reason for voting. Codenames came in 3rd, Tumblin’ Dice 4th and Evolution 5th.

Music
Nothing live this month but some really good albums. I continued on my journey back into metal with Vhol’s Deeper Than Sky, and it is a great album with some excellent guitar work. Very impressed indeed with this, and yet another album that has proved to me that some bands are still making excellent music in that genre. Other than that I’ve been listening to Bully, Hop Along and Now Now, pretty much the same as the rest of the year. I picked up the Chvrches album along with Grimes’ new album, both of which are great, but also picked up M by Myrkur which I’m not so take with – the Chelsea Wolfe album is better.

Books
I finished The Gargoyle, and found it really interesting and well written – one of the better books I’ve read this year, and also one that has been sat on my shelf unread for years. The most enjoyable part of the book for me was all of the additional stories woven in, and how these were used for the finale. A rewarding read.

I’ve moved on to Go Set A Watchman which is (so far) just ok. I know it was written in the fifties, but it does feel dated, and it isn’t as riveting a read as TKAM.

Film

December means we always watch certain movies as a tradition – my favourites being National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Wind Chill. For those who haven’t seen it, Wind Chill is the best of the Christmas Horror films, with some solid acting from Emily Blunt. I’ve seen Star Wars, but we didn’t see it until New Year’s Day at the BFI Imax so more on that next month. I’ll have seen it for a second time by the end of the month as well.

Other than the usual Christmas films I did finally see the latest Jurassic Park film, and we really enjoyed it even if it is a bit cheesy. Chris Pratt is good fun, and plays the Capt'n Badass role really well, but in the same comical way he plays everything. The second best film in the series.

TV
We finished The Following season 2, and despite a good start to the season, the last set of episodes let it down (the whole cult thing just seemed vaguely ridiculous). We’ve moved on to watching The Man In The High Castle, and are about 8 episodes in. The writing is excellent, and the acting on the most part is very good – Rufus Sewell puts in a superb performance as a US leader of the Nazi Party, and despite his rank and allegiance is the most enjoyable character in the series so far. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Video Games
Finished GTA at last – I’d already played it on Xbox, but wanted to see it through on PS4. Now I’m on to Fallout 4, and enjoying it. The story is a little weak at the moment as I’m simply running tasks, but I’m aware of the importance of levelling up, so will stick with it as I’m sure the best is yet to come. My son got the Star Wars Battlefront game for Christmas, but I’ve little interest in it as there is no campaign to play (what a huge miss).

Next Month
Well, I’m writing this on the 4th, and a lot has happened already. Warhammer Quest Card Game has already seen the table 3 times (well, 4 but I only played half of the tutorial, and gave up on a delve quest due to rules questions) and the last game I played was really close. I’ve also seen Star Wars as mentioned, and sold Galaxy Defenders, but more on this next month. I’d like to get Zombicide BP and WHQCG to the table with the group, along with Space Cadets: Away Missions, and I’m hoping to get or play Pandemic Legacy to see what all the fuss is about.
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Mon Jan 4, 2016 12:23 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

November - My gaming month, SCAM, and more...

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
I’m a bit later than usual getting the monthly report out, mostly because of various commitments at this time of year, and time away enjoying my favourite season. Still, 11 months down of the 12, and this is the first time I’ve had to really make myself sit and write this out, so not bad going, and I’ve done better than I’d expected.

We had a great time in Bath at the end of the month, and are now looking ahead to ‘the month of seeing family’.

New Game Of The Month
5 new games this month, and Space Cadets: Away Missions is an easy choice for best new game this month. This game is superb fun, and is an example of what I’m looking for in a game. The rulebook does take a while to get through, but the principals of the player’s turn are fairly simple to understand. In a game like this, the basic level of rules need to be easy to comprehend, with the interesting depth provided by interesting scenarios, weapons and enemy types.

I got through the rules with ease, and quickly found myself two scenarios in and feeling confident that I was playing this exactly how I should be. Now I own this I feel no need to play Galaxy Defenders – SCAM does everything with ease that GD made hard work. Games come down to the wire, there are definite choices to be made, and it is easy to get immersed in the game. So not only was this the best game this month, but also one of the best games I’ve encountered this year.

Baseball Highlights 2045 didn’t go down as the best game I played last month, but having played it some more I realise it should have done. At the time I picked Thunderbirds, but this month I found myself in a multiplayer game of Thunderbirds next to a table playing BH2045, and I felt like I was in the wrong game! BH2045 is so much fun both as a solo and as a group game, and every time I play it, I enjoy it more!

Best Session Of The Month
We began a new season of Thunder Alley, season 3. For once I actually got off to a really good start in our first two races. We’ve introduced a rule whereby each player makes their move choice without interference from others (for interference, read whining) and this makes it much more about each individual focusing on their own strategy, and a lot less about group politics.

Solo Gaming
Two games of SCAM, both great fun, one win, one loss. Can’t wait to play this some more, and I’m hoping to try it with more players.

I played 1 solo game of Thunderbirds, and despite my initial reaction, I’m finding the game to be a little samey now, which is a shame. The cards that need to be defeated have a very similar feel to them, and I’m only a few games in and already feeling a little like I’m just seeing the same thing over and over. Also despite lots of comments on how hard this is, I’m yet to lose, and we played this on normal. The trick is to use the operations effectively – there is a lot you can do without having to use actions, and making the most of these free actions can make a lot of difference, as can the right mix of players. Lady Penelope may start out on a limb, but the ability to swap the type of counter she has is very powerful, and can be a life saver.

I also played 5 games of BH2045 solo. The game is so quick to play out of the box, and I’m now playing without any initial buy rounds. This means I tend to lose the first couple of matches, but being able to bring purchased cards straight into hand gives me a fighting chance. I don’t have any of the expansions, but I still feel like I’m seeing new cards. Loving this.

Games Added To The Collection
7 games in this month – SCAM as already mentioned, Libertalia which I haven’t played in a long time, but always found enjoyable, Flick ‘Em Up which will go in the Christmas pile for my wife to give to me, Ultimate Warriorz which I really enjoyed but got a mixed reception (the player that didn’t enjoy it got the character with the largest target painted on it, and as we were all new to the game, he just got hammered on.

I also picked up Carcassonne Star Wars (yes, I really did) and we played it. It was ok, nothing special but as much fun as basic Carc for me. The game descended into a scrap for the planets as this seems to be where the point are with each planet potentially worth 11 points.

In addition I picked up Room 25 Season 2 (the first game was a real hit with my group, so I’m hoping this will help it get to the table more), and the Atlanteans expansion for Imperial Settlers.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
There is a bit of a theme to this month. I love to solo game, but my time can often be limited, and I don’t really have anywhere I can set up games and leave them. When I sit down to solo, I want something I can set up and get straight into. I don’t want to spend the first 30 minutes of my session struggling through a rulebook, and once I’m done, I need to be able to clear the game away.

So, three games have gone, and two of them went for very similar reasons. Dawn Of The Zeds 2nd Ed is out because although I could just about cope playing the basic game, I never even scratched the surface of the more advanced stuff. I couldn’t really figure it out, and playing the basic game I found the game to be merciless, and unfairly so.

Enemy Action Ardennes went opened but unpunched, and I was sad to see it go, but I knew I was just never going to play it. I don’t have a wargaming history, so it was just an expensive box of cardboard taunting me from the shelf. I looked at the rules, and they made my head hurt.

Hostage Negotiator went because it was dull.

So there is a theme emerging - I seem to be selling off the heavier solo games in my collection, with Navajo Wars having gone also this year. I should steer away from the heavier wargaming arena really, but on the flip side, Where There Is Discord is still one of my favourite games, and is immersive and tense and exciting, but not the easiest game to play.

Other Gaming Stuff
Not much here. When I get a new game, I tend to download the rulebook pdf to my pc, and then write a set rules notes for myself to use when playing and teaching. I try and cover everything from setup to game end scoring, and it is amazing how many rulebooks can be condensed down to one side of A4. Of the 509 games in my collection, I’ve got sheets for 238 of them, and I’m seriously lost without them. When teaching a game, I’ll work through my notes sheet, and when playing it works as a great quick reference.

Music
I saw Death Cab For Cutie at the Brixton Academy this month, and they were incredible, so much more came across in the show than there is on the record, and they were an excellent live band – more guitar focussed than there studio work, and better for it. As a result, I spent the first half of the month listening to a playlist of my favourite songs from their various albums.

At the end of the month, I saw Public Service Broadcasting (for the second time this year) at the Brixton Academy, but although it was a great show, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first gig I went to where they performed simply because it wasn’t as much of a novelty, and I’m not sure I’d go and see them again.

Books
I finished The Lie, and thought it was at best very average. The story didn’t twist or turn as I’d hoped, and the main focus was female relationships and how friends can be anything but friends, but this sentence actually makes it sound far more interesting than it was. It isn’t easy to read a book where the main character is irritating.

I’ve now moved on to The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and so far it is turning out to be one of the best books I’ve read this year, with the two main characters being fascinating people to read about. The mixture of old story, modern story, and various tales told by one of the characters all entwine to make a fascinating read.

Film
We went to the cinema to see Spectre, the latest Bond, and I wasn’t impressed with it. Skyfall impressed me after I hadn’t enjoyed any of the other Daniel Craig films, but Spectre was a letdown simply because it tried too hard to be a ‘best of Bond’ movie – almost every scene was a copy of a previous Bond scene, and it felt entirely intentional, from the parade at the start to the villain fight on the train, and the secret base. I just spent the movie thinking ‘oh, I recognise that’, and this took away from the story for me.

TV
Walking Dead season 5 was superb, and a good development for the story. I’m glad they tackled the moral issue of what happens to survivors who have been living wild for so long when you transfer them into a ‘civilised’ environment. Powerful stuff. We’re now watching season 2 of The Following, and it has been a run of big hits and strange misses – seeing Joe re-emerge and the female villain slowly draw our suspicions was very clever, but the whole religious cult thing just added an unintentionally comical element.

Video Games
I’ve now finished all of the Uncharted games on the PS4, and thoroughly enjoyed them – old school gaming ideas with great graphics and controls. Each story had a very familiar story pattern, but each was enjoyable in its own right, and I enjoyed my time with it. I’m back on to GTA now, with a few hours of story left to finish.

Next Month
It tends to be harder to arrange group meetups in December due to people having other engagements and also because our usual venue gets really busy this time of year. Also, people tend to be in a lighter mood so we play less of the heavyweight stuff. Also, it is the time of year when I get my group to vote for their game of the year. The only restriction is that it needs to be a game that was played at one of the group sessions during the year, but so far we’ve got a list of over 100 games to choose from. I’m tempted to break it down to categories this year (euro, mini, co-op, party, themed, card) and then have an overall winner. The big hitters this year have been Baseball Highlights 2045, Quartermaster General and The Captain Is Dead. Time will tell!
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Tue Dec 8, 2015 10:46 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

October - 10 out of 12...

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Month 10 on my 12 month journey of recording a gaming year (well, ok, so I ended up including more than just gaming). It has been an enjoyable run – I’ve got satisfaction from writing these, and also from knowing that I’ll be able to look back over the year in a few years’ time and have a good snapshot of where I was at, and what was going on.

New Game Of The Month
I only actually ended up playing four new games this month (excluding a trial run of Kaosball that I quit at half time, but that was just to get the mechanics clear in my head). The best of these was Thunderbirds.

Thunderbirds initially came on to Kickstarter, and I looked at it, figured out it was going to cost me £55 for a game that looked too close to the Forbidden series for my liking, so I passed, figuring that if it was good, it was likely to get a good UK run, and therefore be easy to pick up at retail at a later date. It then came to retail for around 30% less than the Kickstarter price, so I made an impulse purchase.

I then started investigating the game a little more, and read a couple of reviews, one of which was fairly negative and another which just said it was ok, nothing special, but it worked. So I started to regret my purchase. I didn’t need another co-op, I hadn’t played Pandemic Cure that much, and was still exploring what it had to offer, so why had I picked this up? Still, it arrived at the very end of the month, and I had a few spare hours so I set it up and gave it a go.

And wow – it was great fun! I played a solo session with three characters (I chose rather than going for a random draw and went with Scott, Virgil, and Lady P). It took a few rounds for the game to click, but when it did, I felt truly immersed in the world of International Rescue. Where to go next, what to do? Do I collect for an event card, or do I go for the disaster? If I’m going here, could I stop of there on the way, and potentially solve 2 disasters? If I solve the right disaster, this helps towards the next event, but if I don’t solve that disaster at the far end of the track the game will be all over soon.

On a number of occasions, the stars aligned – if I solve this and go there, then I can do this as well, and that gives me the token I need to get this figure to that place and I get to complete the event card. There were a few times when I found myself just staring at the board trying to figure out all the options, and to see a path to allow me to get where I needed to be.

The theme runs all the way through, the images are all excellent, the ships really look the part, and you get to feel like you are telling a greater story as the game progresses with a single villain throwing obstacles in your path, and running the clock down. Great fun, brilliant design.

Second best was Baseball Highlights, and it also deserves a mention. I played a single two player session of this, and found it to be a clever abstraction of Baseball, albeit with a setting in the future. The design was easy to teach, and the game comprised of a series of mini games, each mini game representing a match (apologies to any baseball aficionados – I have absolutely no knowledge of the source material, other than some guy throws the ball, another guy hits it, and there are 4 bases to get round). But this is probably more of a compliment to the game that without being overly interested in the sport, I really enjoyed the game, and normally I’d want to have at least some appreciation of what the game was trying to recreate to enjoy it, but not here.

Each Player is deckbuilding, using the played cards from a round to purchase cards for the next round. These purchased cards sit on the top of the deck, so get drawn immediately, so you’ll also have some idea of what your opponent is planning to do, and therefore you may be able to purchase cards to counter that. When playing, your players move at different speeds, so lining them up is important, but equally your opponent is likely to have cards to delay your plays (the ‘batter’ plays first, the ‘pitcher’ reacts), This interplay is what causes the fun and tension. Do I play this card now when my opponent is more likely to counter it? Or do I throw a couple of lighter cards in and hope he tries to stop those, giving me more chances later on? Very well designed game.

Best Session Of The Month
We played a couple of sessions of Battlestar Galactica at mine, and as always they were tense and exciting. The first of the sessions was the better of the two simply due to having more experienced players, with the game going to the Cylons who managed to deplete one of the dials (food I think, whilst us humans were busy trying to keep morale up). We gained a second half cylon, but it wasn’t the player most likely to have had the cards (one player for various reasons finished the game with 4 loyalty cards).

The session reminded me why I enjoy this game so much, and why it is easily in the top three games in my collection. We’ve never had a bad session of this, and it’s a lot of fun with or without the expansions (we tend to play with Pegasus, but without using New Caprica).

Solo Gaming
Well, I’d hoped to get more solo gaming in this month, and managed it with 5 games of Viticulture, 1 Grizzled, 3 Friday, 2 Race! Formula 90, 2 Temple Of Elemental Evil, 1 Legendary Marvel, and the aforementioned game of Thunderbirds.

This was the first time I’d tackled Viticulture solo, and fortunately it feels a lot like a game against opponents, and requires very little additional management to make it work. The skill seems to be in keeping your options open, and racking up the bottles as quickly as possible. The system is so good I’d happily purchase this (I’ve got the collector’s edition) for just playing solo.

I played Race because it had been requested at my local group, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing (it had been 15 months since our last game) and also because I wanted to get my head around the advanced rules. Due to my own struggling with the rulebook, I’m only fairly sure I’m doing everything right, and sometimes need to make a call, whereas with Thunder Alley, the game is a lot more straight forward, and is the best race game on the market right now.

Temple Of Elemental Evil I play simply because it’s so much fun, and the changes in this game make it stand above the others in the series. I like the idea that if you fail a mission, you buy a couple of upgrades and you go again – ok, sometimes a mission can take a couple of hits, but the campaign is a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying it.

Games Added To The Collection
Baseball Highlights 2045 is in – so now I can solo it. The Grizzled is in, but is a fairly forgettable co-op (shame it can’t be soloed, but also it does have the advantage of negating the alpha player issue). Thunderbirds is in (see above). Ships arrived late in the month – I’m a little peeved here as I really really wanted to get my hands on Mythotopia, and from various postings was lead to believe the only way you could guarantee getting your hands on it was via the last treefrog subscription, so I signed up, paid a small fortune, and got Mythotopia, Onward To Venus and Ships. Very soon after release, Mythotopia was widely available on the cheap. Add to this the fact that I wouldn’t have purchased Ships or OtV, and I think I’ve got the right to feel ripped off. Yes, I got the limited editions, but really so what? I wanted the game, and I spent around £100 on a game I could have picked up for less than £20. Rant over.

Also in is Survive: Space Attack. Survive is a popular game in my local group, and also one the family have played in the past, and this looks like a great version of the game. I’ve also added 3 expansions to the collection for Mafia De Cuba, Colt Express and Castle Panic.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
12 games gone this month. Without listing them all, the highlights are Dominant Species which was too complicated for my local group as each time I’d get to play it I’d be playing with at least one player who hadn’t played before, and teaching it is tough enough without then having to play it. Automobile has gone – I played it once, liked it, but kind of knew it wasn’t going to be in rotation. Artic Scavengers was an ok deckbuilder, but there are better games in the genre, Witness was a bit of a disappointment, so I sold it for more than I purchased it for, 20th Century and Senji both went unplayed – both looked good but are over 12 months old and unplayed so needed to go. And a few others I’m really not going to miss (Red Dragon Inn, Escape From The Aliens, and three party/family games in the charity pile).

Other Gaming Stuff
Yeah, not much here really. I played a Tumblin’ Dice tournament, and didn’t enjoy the game much (although I enjoyed the social part). It just seems like a poor entry into a field that has some really great games in it like PitchCar and the king of dexterity games, Crokinole. The whole random element of the dice was just frustrating. Still got lots of minis to paint.

Music
Three albums that stand out for me this month. The first is the new Editors album, In Dream, which is a terrific album, and the best thing they’ve released since Back Room (although I lost interest after An End Has A Start). There is a real groove to it, some well structured song writing, and a positive move in direction.

The second album that I’ve been listening to and enjoying is Arrival by Vintage Caravan. I liked their other album, Voyage, but there is a really awful track on that album that taints the whole experience for me (I should just remove the track from my iPod really). Arrival has some great guitar work, and some really good rock songs that aren’t too far removed from an 80s metal sound.

The third album was Dungen’s Ta Det Lugnt – all in Swedish, but it has a fantastic groove rock feel to it, and although I’ve been listening to Tame Impala for a couple of years, I can now see where the influence for their sound comes from. Dungen try many different ideas here, and they all work, and gel together to create a sweeping album that gives something new each time I listen to it.

I’ve also picked up the (not so) new Bjork album, which is beautiful. Bjork was one of those artists that, when she first started a solo career, I’d sneer at. Other than a few singles I had no idea about anything she’d done, and absolutely no interest. Then in 2007 I went to Glastonbury, and was staggering back from the dance tent on my own to find my tent (I’d lost my friend many hours before). My route took me past one of the stages, and this sound hit me – a hypnotic electronic groove, with an amazing vocal that was powerful and moving. I stood transfixed for the rest of the set, totally staggered by what was going on, on the stage, and by this elfen figure and the music that was happening around her, and coming from her. And now I’ve got all of her albums except the very first one. I like to be surprised, and Bjork was the stand out performance for me that year.

Books
I read Watchers by Dean Koontz, and thought it was great fun. There is a fair amount wrong with the book – the heroine’s rapid rehabilitation, the sugary romance, the perfect hero, but the dog makes the book worthwhile, and the action sequences are well written. I’ve now moved onto The Lie by CL Taylor, about something that happens during a yoga retreat, and how that then comes back to haunt the main character. I practice Yoga regularly, and can see where the inspiration for some of the creepier characters has come from.

Film
The Martian – best film I saw this month. We took our 15 year old daughter with us and she loved it as well. I’ve avoided the book because all the reviews say it is highly technical, but the film focussed on the action and the characters more than the scientific detail, and was all the more enjoyable for it. Well acted, and Matt Damon is so much better in this than he was in Interstellar.

TV
We finished True Detective. I feel like I got about 60% of the story (the mumbling accents didn’t help there) but the acting and the story were both very good (or at least as much as I could follow it). Very gritty, powerful stuff. We have just started Walking Dead Season 5, and so far it has been excellent.

Video Games
I’ve had more time on the PS4 this month than normal. I picked up the Uncharted collection (I haven’t played any of them before) and have already played through the first two. It is just a take on the Tomb Raider series, but a very good one, with an endearing main character, and some good side roles included. Some of the sequences were really well done, and most importantly the controls are almost spot on.

Next Month
I’m looking forward to getting Thunderbirds on the table with a group to see if it works as well there as it did as a solo – I’m actually wondering if, due to the times when you need to stop and review, if the game won’t work better as a solo but we’ll see. I’ve got a bunch of Kickstarters also due, and am looking forward to getting some of my newer games to the table. I’m also looking forward to going with my wife to Bath to see the Christmas markets this will be our fourth year in a row, and this trip is something of an annual highlight.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Mon Nov 2, 2015 2:04 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

September - on the home stretch...

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
September seems to have gone in the blink of an eye, and now we are already in Autumn. It really has felt like a blink-and-you-miss-it month, and I can’t believe it is finished, and we’re already in October. Still, that means we’re a lot closer to the Star Wars film.

New Game Of The Month

It’s going to be Xia this month, despite a frustrating session of it which suffered through reasons I’ll come to. Xia is an amazing achievement as a game, amazing simply because it is just a mishmash of very simple, basic mechanics. You pilot a ship around the galaxy, using 4 action markers to activate various parts of your ship. Once the markers are used, or you run out of energy, or just decide to pass, your turn is over.

There is a vast number of things you can do when out in space – you can trade, mine (or harvest, or something else all being similar actions), explore, fight, smuggle, pirate, go on missions, upgrade your ship parts, or even your ship. Play it how you want to, go where you want, do what you want. The game builds nicely as well – you start with a very basic ship, and as you go you have the opportunity to get bigger and better, fly further, attack harder, or defend with greater strength, and this is all so simple as everything can be purchased on a planet with credits.

So comparing it to Firefly – with Firefly and my limited experience, much of the luck of that game comes down to getting the right cards from the right planets. With Xia you can control your luck more, even with the huge number of die rolls you could possibly be making. Firefly is also more about making those runs back and forth, less so here. We did play a rule that supply and demand planets couldn’t be adjacent though to stop it turning into a merchant race.

Any issues? Well, yes – downtime was occasionally a problem even with three, although this was often due to players not considering their turn out of turn (which is entirely possible). I wouldn’t want to tackle this with four unless they were four relatively experienced players who were happy to play ‘on-the-fly’ a little and not have to consider each and every move. Xia seems like it would be most fun if you decide to ignore playing to win, and instead play to have fun.

I played a single session of this (and also a brief solo trial run on three ships), and I came in a distant second. We had the issue that the player to my right took a mission saying he had to destroy me. He spent a fair amount of time ramming me as well as shooting a missile at me. This left us both very messed up, and for various reasons, made the game very easy for the third player who managed to score points by fixing us both, and then by selling our dropped cargo.

This is down to players to police themselves though – in any 3 player if two players go at it, then the third is most likely to benefit. I’ve seen it in numerous games, and this was no exception. I don’t mind being attacked, but when something very obviously screws another player’s game and doesn’t benefit your own, it is a poor decision. Still, Xia is a great game.

Best Session Of The Month
I’m smiling just thinking about this. My wife wasn’t feeling well, and we had a few hours to kill, so I suggested I set up a game. She reluctantly agreed, and I set up Ivor The Engine, and she was delighted, initially by the board and pieces (although a lack of wooden Ivors did frustrate her), and then also by the gameplay. Each turn was simple to play, but the ability to use her cards to screw me over went down particularly well.

We had a fun hour and a bit, she won comfortably despite my efforts, and I’m confident she’ll play again, and then hopefully be willing to move on to other games. At the moment the only games I can get her to play other than party games are Ivor The Engine, Lost Cities, and Niagra. Next stop Patchwork…

The other notable session was the end to our second season of Thunder Alley. We played the final two races in a single sitting, and for the second race introduced a new group rule – no interference of the active player allowed. What this means in practice is that we stopped giving advice to one another on turn – we’ve all played this probably 20 or more times now, so ‘coaching’ isn’t required, and the first race did descend into arguing about who should be helping whom and how, and started to feel like a bit of a drag.

The rule change made the game tense and exciting (and quieter to boot) as it added the element of ‘is he going to pick me up or not’ and ‘has he spotted that or not’. We’ve decided to keep with the rule for season three, and I look forward to seeing how it works.

Solo Gaming
A quick trial play of Xia, and a trial play of Patchwork, and also 2 plays of Pandemic: The Cure in which I failed both times to win, one by a long way, and the second very narrowly. I like this simplified dice version, and find it easier to jump into than Pandemic. A good game worth looking into if you like the base game.

Games Added To The Collection
Xia, as mentioned, along with Pitchcar and 3 of the expansions (I’m hoping the family will take to this one – I used to play mini with the kids when they were a lot smaller, so I’m hoping this will be a natural step up), Hyperborea (love the idea), Kaosball (Blood Bowl with rules that don’t need an entire manual), Epic (kickstarted, and it has arrived), Valley Of The Kings Afterlife (own and like the base game), Mafia De Cuba (these social deduction games are popular with my local group), Lost Legacy 3rd (to complete the set), In A Bind (for family fun), Legendary Guardians Of The Galaxy (again to complete the set, and because this looks like it has some fun ideas) and the Arcadia Quest expansion (love the base game, and this came up in trade).

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
Wow – a real list this month, with 13 games ‘gone’. I say this because some of them are still in the house, but ready to go to charity shops. Those charity games are Liars Dice, Blokus Duo, Backgammon, Really Nasty Horse Racing Game, Risk Lord Of The Rings, 221b Baker Street, N-Tropy, Campaign, Whatzit, Pirateology and Phase 10.

Other than that, I sold my copy of Star Wars Armada just because I think the game is a swizz. Hey, spend a fortune on this game, and then when you have, realise that in order to get the most out of it, you need to buy it again, and then buy a load more stuff on top. Now, as a gamer, I know going into a game like this that this is going to be the case, but imagine little Timmy out with his mum, spending his birthday money. He’s a Star Wars fan, he sees this, he wants it, he buys it, he gets stuck with half a game that cost him a fortune. Out of order.

I traded Witch Of Salem for the Arcadia Quest expansion. WoS seems to have gained a reputation, and is oop, so it was easy to trade it away. I played it a couple of times, and decided I’d reach for Eldritch Horror over WoS every single time, so now it is gone.

Other Gaming Stuff
I’ve painted the first batch of Arcadia minis (I’ve done the goblins, and nearly finished all of the orcs). With the expansion minis as well, I’ve still got a lot to do, and in spare time at the moment I’d rather be playing than painting. Still, I enjoy the painting, and find it relaxing – it is often an easier option than setting up a game, and is a good way of clearing the mind.

Music
Metal. I’m of the opinion that Metal stopped being good when grunge hit the scene, so around 1991. The metal albums that mean the most to me all came out in the 80’s – the first 4 Metallica albums, the first 3 Megadeth albums, Helloween’s Keeper Of The 7 Keys Pt 1, both the Holy Terror albums, the first 4 Slayer albums, and all the early stuff from bands like Testament, Overkill, Annihilator (well, the first album) and Mortal Sin.

After this I got into Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and on the odd occasion when I did dip back into metal it was often a quick foray with bands like Mushroomhead just showing me it wasn’t something I enjoyed as much. Only NIN really kept me interested. As a result, a lot of what happened in the 1990s and beyond slipped past me, and this month I did some catching up and have discovered Blue Cathedral by Comets On Fire, and some Sleep albums (Holy Mountain and the 2012 version of Dopesmoker). I have to say, I’m pretty impressed, especially with Holy Mountain, and it has got my interest up again, so I intend on checking out bands like Pallbearer.

The issue I have with a lot of bands post the 80’s is the vocals. Singers should, in my mind, at least try and sing, and screaming the vocal at the top of your voice doesn’t do it for me. I can’t get the lyrics, I can’t join in the chorus, the only thing I get is a headache (yeah, old man, I know). Some of the metal vocalists aren’t the best (Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy, neither of them particularly on note all the time) but at least I get a good idea of what they are singing about. I suppose this is why I found NIN – Trent Reznor can carry a good song, or at least add enough emotion to it to make it worthwhile.

On this note, I’m looking forward to the kickstarter Thrash’n Roll – anything that allows me to run a thrash band is good by me!

Books

I finished Cities Of The Plain, so that trilogy is done and over. I really liked the first book, but found the other two a bit of a chore if I’m honest. From there I needed something with pace, so I read The Hunt by Tim Lebbon, which is about a man being hunted as part of a game where if he gets caught he dies, but if he escapes they kill his family. Not particularly fair, and I’d just say, fine, shoot me. But the novel has a good pace, although it suffers from the writer being a runner, and writing endlessly about running, almost fixatedly. I enjoyed the story though, and it was a good antidote to The Border Trilogy.

I’m now about half way through The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August, and it is completely different to what I was suspecting. The author, Claire North is either highly intellectual or has completed hours and hours of research to put this book together – the story travels around the globe in the period from around 1918 to 1996, and covers both historical and scientific details from the period. It’s a completely different story to what I was expecting, and I’m enjoying it, but am slightly nervous that the ending is going to be able to justify the story. Time will tell!

Film
We watched a couple of horror films again this month, but nothing of any note. We’ve got a lot of tv series to get through, so that’s dominated our watching.

TV
Still loving Parks And Recreation. It just makes me smile, and every episode has a great laugh out loud moment in it somewhere. I’m glad that, as time has gone on, the focus has shifted out through all the characters as they are all fun in different ways, with plenty to explore.

We finished the first season of Hannibal, and I enjoyed it, but it went just as we expected – maybe more of a twist would have been better. We’ve got season 2 to watch, but for now are working through season 1 of True Detective which I’m loving, but my wife isn’t so sure about. Well, we are over half way there, and now have season 5 of Walking Dead for her as a reward for getting through it with me.

Video Games
Lots more Ascension on iOS, and a fair bit of Ride on the PS4. Despite it not being anything flash, and also despite painful loading times, the racing is pretty solid, and good fun with a huge mix of bikes to choose from. I’ve got Batman to work through as well.

Next Month

We’ve got two Battlestar Galactica sessions booked in for October, with the first one tomorrow evening at mine, so I’m looking forward to those. I’d like to get Hyperborea played as well as another session of Xia and Arcadia. My wife is away for 10 days in the US, so I’ve got the dining table to myself, and hope to get some solo gaming in – Elemental Evil is calling me!
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Thu Oct 1, 2015 3:26 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

August - Still going strong

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction
It has been a tough August in many ways – business has been frustratingly slow, and because my holiday is long forgotten back in the depths of July the next break we’ve got to look forward to is Christmas. Yeah, not all bad – it was my wife’s birthday, our anniversary, and we had a great family wedding to go to, but it has felt like a really long month (oh, and the weather has been pretty crap).

New Game Of The Month
It was pretty clear from about 5 minutes into my first game that Arcadia Quest was going to take the honours this month. It has struck me fairly clearly that I love these minis in a dungeon games, and they rarely fail with me. Gears Of War and Zombicide are two of my favourite games. I love Earth Reborn and Krosmaster but just don’t have an opponent, and now Arcadia Quest has joined the list of great mini games I own.

So what is it that appeals so much to me about these types of games? Well, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I’ve realised that my main gaming moments in life are defined by a particular thread. My earliest and happiest gaming memories are with ‘Treasure Of The Pharaohs’ in which you moved your little character around the board in what essentially was a step up from snakes and ladders, to try and be the first to make it to the end and collect the treasure. The game’s presentation was outstanding, and it looks beautiful on the table.

After this came Talisman which my brother and I used to play almost every weekend, again moving your mini around the board and collecting weapons and skills all with the goal of reaching the centre to claim the win. This could almost be seen as a step up from Treasure as it has the similar move around the board mechanic but with the added extras of character skills and encounters and items. We loved this game when it was released, and I still enjoy it now.

Following on from this we have Arcadia Quest, and other games in the genre like Zombicide. Now you control your movement, and pick your fights, and as I’ve developed as a gamer, I enjoy having the option to play more tactically, but I want to maintain the feeling of having a character (or in this case team) on the board. It appeals to the rpger in me, but without the need to invest huge amounts of time to a campaign.

Arcadia Quest isn’t a complicated game – it can be taught in around 15 minutes, and doesn’t have a steep learning curve (although making a mess of the initial character selection could hinder a player). What is so wonderful about Arcadia Quest though is that simplicity doesn’t reduce fun or tension which is really well delivered – sometimes you spot an opportunity, and you are left hoping your opponents either can’t or don’t exploit it. Everyone can turn on a player who seems to be doing too well, and that player can really take a beating (it happened to me).

The final added bonus is the campaign – build a team, add ever improving weaponry and fight tougher monsters. This elevates the game from a fun but possibly repetitive experience into something far more interesting and exciting, and has made this a game I really enjoy.

Best Session Of The Month
I’ve had two really good sessions this month, both at my Sevenoaks group. The first one worth mentioning was an incredibly close game of The Captain Is Dead where we lost one turn away from being able to win, which although some found frustrating seemed to be quite an epic ending to an absorbing game where we looked like we were fried from the very beginning. We spent the entire time on the very edge of failure, often making a fix the turn before it would have lost us the game, but we fell over at the final hurdle. Great fun.

However, the best session of the month goes to the two games of Arcadia Quest we played. I walked the first game as the only player who seemed entirely focused on the goals. We were all keen on playing again immediately so set up the next scenario. This took a completely different turn as each player decided to take their first goal as me, and I took a hammering thanks to multiple attacks from multiple players, and some pretty awful rolling when I tried to retaliate. I still managed to steal an objective and win a medal thanks to another player doing the hard work (but making it harder for himself in the process).

Solo Gaming
Just the one play of Hostage Negotiator whilst waiting for my wife to get ready for a day out, and I was left with a bit of a hollow feeling afterwards. The game is simple to learn and play, but felt like something was missing. I’m sure I played right, but it really lacked any tension for me, and I really need to try again because as it stands I’m not impressed with this at all.

Games Added To The Collection
In has come Arcadia Quest (I’ve said enough), Patchwork which I’m hoping my wife will at least try, Pandemic Cure because it was a good price, and looks like a fun quick version of Pandemic, Merchant Of Venus because I was offered a trade, and have wanted this game for a very long time, Quartermaster General Air Marshall because it looks like a good addition to the base game, Hostage Negotiator (see above) and Loopin’ Louie which I picked up after playing last month, and love for its fun factor.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
3 games gone, with mixed emotions.

Roll For The Galaxy was a disappointment for me. I think I was hoping for the fun of Race without the hard work, but what it made me realise is that I just don’t enjoy Race and any variant. Roll Was frustrating with a lot of downtime, and confusion for players regarding when dice go to the board and when they go to the cup. I know this would have got easier with multiple plays, but I really didn’t feel the desire to play this again, and add to that I was offered Merchant Of Venus 2nd ed in trade.

Combat Commander Pacific left the fold unplayed. I’d like to have a game in this series, but Europe appeals more. Also I just don’t have the time in my life at the moment for investing in understanding these games when there is a risk of never finding an opponent. I was sorry to see it go though.

The final game to go was Augustus. Now I quite liked it, but it got a lukewarm reception at my local group. Also, it is a filler in a huge box, and when packing my bag I tend to use the space for longer games, and fill the gaps with fillers – Bang Dice or Resistance both take up considerably less bag space than this.

Other Gaming Stuff
I primed my Arcadia minis and now need to start the painting process. My skills are ok at best, but I’d rather have a half assed attempt at a paintjob than a blank mini, if only to make them easier to spot over the table. OK, maybe I’m being harsh. I enjoy painting figures, and sometimes I’m really pleased and surprised at the results.

Music

I’m really in to the female singer punky rocky thing, and can’t get away from listening to bands like Now Now, Hop Along and No Joy. This month I picked up Salome by Marriages, and again this is another excellent example of this kind of music. I just like the vibe to it, and the energy behind it.

I’ve been playing the guitar a bit, but haven’t done anything about getting a band up and running again, other than a brief conversation with a drummer. These things don’t happen quickly.

Books
I finished Sand, and felt it was a huge missed opportunity. Hugh Howey created a really interesting world in the first third of the book, one with huge possibilities with an underground world waiting to be discovered. He then flapped around for the second third, and then rushed an ending in the final third. The last chapter of the book should have been a book in its own right – without ruining it, it really did just go ‘and then we all discovered that the butler did it with a knife in the library’. A real shame because her really explored the world he created with Wool, and he completely failed to here.

I moved from there on to Cities Of The Plain, the last book in McCarthy’s Border trilogy, and I’m enjoying it although it is a slow read .The pace is quite gentle, and there are lots of pages dedicated to fairly simple but incredibly prosaic episodes. This has meant I keep falling asleep whilst reading it, so it is taking me a long time to get through although it is a fairly short read. It isn’t particularly gripping, but at least is less rambling than the previous book. It is a beautiful read though.

Film
The film of note this month was Inside Out. My daughter had been to see it with my future daughter-in-law, and when she came home, she told me I really needed to see it, so the next day we went and I really enjoyed it. The film portrays how emotions change as we grow and develop. There were some really interesting parts to observe – the mum, who seems perfectly happy, has sadness as her lead emotion. The daughters happy memories become touched by sadness as she grows (don’t we all sometimes look back at events which were happy and feel sad about them?). We talked about the film for a couple of days after, and I have to say it was one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a while.

Other than this, I watched a couple of horrors of no outstanding note with my wife, the most interesting of which was the second Woman In Black film which we enjoyed having come into it with very low expectations.

TV
On a recommendation from last month we are working our way through Hannibal, and both enjoying it. We tend to watch later in the evening, and we are both helping each other out figuring what is going on, and who is playing whom. The further in we go, the better this gets, and Mads Mikkelsen seems to be growing in to the role of Hannibal from episode to episode.

For my own enjoyment I’ve started watching Parks And Recreation, and I’m part way through Season 2. I never really got into The Office, mainly because I don’t find Ricky Gervais particularly funny, but I’m really enjoying this because it has a real light hearted turn to it where you can tell the actors really seem to be enjoying what they do. Chris Pratt is particularly amusing.

Video Games
Ascension on iOS and pretty much nothing else. Mad Max and MGSV both look like fun on the PS4, but I don’t have the time to spend on it at the moment.

Next Month
I’ve already had a trade offer to get the Arcadia Quest expansion. One of my local gaming circle has picked yup Churchill, and really wants to get that played, but it looks like an epic so fitting in a session might be tough.
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Tue Sep 1, 2015 3:55 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

July - a little bit of gaming, and a lot of holiday.

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
July is holiday month for me, and we spent two amazing weeks in Bali, the best part of which was the amazing Balinese people who were so warm and welcoming, and made me think about what we truly value in life – they put little value in materialistic gains, and hold family above all – kind of how I remember my youth being before everyone had to have everything Apple. Each Balinese family lives together in a ‘compound’ with sons staying and wives moving in with their new husband’s family. Compounds are often made up of four or five dwellings, and have three or four generations living there. The largest example we were aware of had 24 people living there, and every one of them loved it! Childcare isn’t an issue, the older generation tends to prepare the food during the day, so everyone has more time to spend together. Also, if you want a bit of space, you can have it – each little house is separate enough from the others for some amount of privacy.

We arrived at the start of the Islands 'Christmas' and left on the final day of their celebration. The temples all looked incredible, and we joined in with a number of ceremonies - the Balinese were so pleased to have us there, and we were never made to feel like outsiders. So warm and welcoming - we could all do with being more Balinese!

New Game Of The Month
Two main contenders here, but Dark Moon is worthy of winning the award for the best new game I played this month. The game does what it promises and takes all the best bits of BSG and boils them down into something that can be completed in around an hour. So OK, it isn’t as great as a full session of BSG with the paranoia, the tension, the arguments and constant suspicion, but it did a good job in a timeframe that will fit with my midweek evening gaming group.

Each player is allocated a character, and also is either infected or uninfected. The infected players (bad guys) need to get one of three tracks filled, and the uninfected players (good guys) want to complete 4 events. On a player’s turn, they can perform an action, and then draw a task. Players taking part in the task roll dice, and submit them to help (or hinder) the current task.

In our single session of this, the good guys won because the bad guys were obvious fairly early on, opting not to play a subtle game. One of them played bad dice on each task, and then the other looked at his status (loyalty) card and announced that he was uninfected. So you’re both infected then? We put one in quarantine, and the other then had to try hard to persuade us they were both innocent. The game was pretty easy going from there in, leaving me wanting to try this with a little bit of experience and hopefully see the bad guys try a more subtle approach.

Best Session Of The Month
Another OGRE session – we got together as a 4 with the idea of playing a lot of shorter games. We ended up playing Witness, Wok Star, Beasty Bar, Machi Koro, and the star of the evening, Loopin’ Louie, which wins best session of the month.

For a new game to have an instant appeal with me it needs a number of factors – I want to see simple rules so we can get going quickly, I want interaction so we can call each other names and have a laugh at one another, and at least a little bit of theme. Well, Loopin’ Louie delivered and it was so much fun we all laughed our way through it. I’m certain this will be a hit with the family as well, so I’ve ordered a copy, and I look forward to playing it with anyone who is interested!

Solo Gaming
Wow – nothing, absolutely nothing. The only thing I’ve done that is vaguely solo related is starting to read the rules for Enemy Action: Ardennes. There was a lot of planning for the holiday, then we were away for two weeks, and I didn’t get anything done after we got back, so a dry month this month.

Games Added To The Collection
5 games again this month, same as last month, so despite plays slowing, buying hasn’t, and I need to address this. I picked up Chronicle to bulk up an order to get discount, and because it is a game I’ve wanted for a while as I really enjoy it. Dark Moon arrived, and as you’ve already read I really enjoy it. I picked up Deus after seeing at number 4 on John Bandettini’s list of top games for 2014, and then reading some more reviews. I’m hoping this gives me the game Elysium failed to deliver. I also picked up Great War and my big purchase of the month was Enemy Action: Ardennes which I’m really hoping I can get into after not getting on with D Day and (a different designer, I know) Navajo Wars.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
4 games gone this month as well, none of which I’m sad to see the back off.

Kanban was a must buy – I’ve got and love Vinhos and CO2, and enjoy them both immensely even if both run a little too long for a gaming evening, although CO2 is ok with quick players. So I had to have Kanban as it looked like more of the same with a few interesting twists, but when I set it up at home to try out I thought it was a confusing mess of a game, and then when we actually played it, we really struggled with it. Lots of good ideas, and interesting twists, but it was too much – so many different things going on, so many moving parts and so many confusing little rules means the game gets sold, and I sigh with relief to see it go.

War Of The Roses: Lancaster vs York looked like a great game when I picked it up in a trade about three years ago. It took me a long time to figure out the rulebook, and then I took it along to some game nights hoping to get it played. Unfortunately there was never any interest, and then I just didn’t want to invest the time to learn it all over again so it sat unplayed for all the time I owned it, and I was happy to take an offer for it.

Star Wars Epic Duels was a good purchase which I picked up from EBay with the hope of selling it on for a better price (blame the businessman in me). However with the release of Imperial Assault, interest in Epic Duels seemed to dwindle, so I put it up on the marketplace for sale for a good price, and soon enough it sold. Never played, not missed.

Braggart was a bit of a laugh when I picked this up at the UK Games Expo a number of years ago, but we ran it dry pretty quick, and then just stopped enjoying it when we’d seen all the cards half a dozen times. I had a few really fun session with this, especially when playing with Andre who would be laughing so hard he couldn’t read his cards, but it had its day and now it is gone.

Other Gaming Stuff
Another family Cards Against Humanity session which just seems to be our humour level. We played this on my wife’s birthday with all my four kids and my son’s fiancée, and it delivered again – lots of laughter, and a few ‘oohhh, who played that?’ moments. Otherwise, it really has been a quiet gaming month.

Music
I picked up Keeper Of The Seven Keys pt 1, and album that I used to have on cassette when I was 15, so 28 years ago. It isn’t as heavy as I remember it being at the time, but the guitar work is excellent, and it is a joy to listen to it again. Other than that I’ve been listening to Wolf Alice a lot – there album is really good, a great mixture of styles and sounds, and with some really well written tracks. Still prefer Hop Along, but this is really good. I’m also listening to the new album from No Joy as well.

I also picked up a Jackson Soloist SLX guitar on EBay this month – got it cheap due to it being collection only, and they guy living about half an hour away. He seemed like a bit of a guitarist himself, but the setup was pretty bad with a bit of a twist in the neck and a high action. After a bit of playing around, I’ve got the action a lot lower, without any fret buzz, and the guitar really plays like a dream now with an amazing sound, especially when matched up with my amp. What is harder now though is justifying having 5 guitars and 2 big amps in the house (along with a pretty substantial gaming collection).

Books
I finished The Crossing before we went on holiday, and intended on reading Cities Of The Plain to finish the trilogy, but I figured I needed a break after finding The Crossing a lot harder going than All The Pretty Horses, so instead I read Girl On The Train, a fun thriller with a bit of a twist. I’ve read a few books like this recently, and although I’ve enjoyed them all, none of them have been as good as Gone Girl for keeping me guessing.

After Girl On The Train, I then read Station Eleven which was enjoyable but focused too much on the world prior to most of the population being wiped out and too little on the post flu world, which was the story I was more interested in.

I’m now reading Sand by Hugh Howey. I enjoyed the silo series, but found that the story lost momentum after Wool (but Wool was really enjoyable). So far I’m finding Sand engrossing and well written, and he has created an interesting and intriguing world.

Film
Mainly films whilst on aeroplanes, and the most notable film I saw this month was Road, the film about the bike racing Dunlop family. The film is a very genuine moving documentary about the family, the races they take part in, and the toll this takes on the family. Powerful stuff.

The only other interesting film I saw this month was Coherence, and I’m still thinking about it – the film centres around a group of friends who gather during the passing of a comet, which then creates a whole set of realities which our characters then fumble through, slowly figuring out (as we do with them) what the heck is going on.

TV
We’ve finished the 3rd season of American Horror Story, and it was no more than OK, nowhere near as creepy as the 2nd season, and some of the acting was a little bit amdram. We’re in a bit of a hole at the moment, and need to find a new series to enjoy.

Video Games
With holidays I only played Ride this month, and a little bit of Godus on iOS. I picked up Batman for my son to play post exams and he really enjoyed it but I’m yet to give it a go.

Next Month
The games that get played will mostly depend on who is around during August as it is traditionally a holiday month here. Normally this means less people at gaming groups, so different games tend to get played. I’d like to play more Dark Moon as well as starting to give Enemy Action a go as well. A bit more time with the Jackson won’t go amiss either.
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Mon Aug 3, 2015 2:32 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

June - Half way there!

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
June done, and I’m at a halfway point with my blog catalogue of every month of the year. Highlights of the month were my eldest getting a First from University, and my wife finally landing a Yoga teaching job in London. She spent 10 days in Sedona, and this gave me the opportunity to have a good go at some solo games.

New Game Of The Month
This month the award goes to a game I’ve only played solo, and only 4 times, but each session was great fun, but also tense. My winner is the new addition to the Dungeons & Dragons series – Temple Of Elemental Evil. From the moment you open the box, the game pulls you into its world. The minis are fantastic, with a good sized flying dragon. I picked the game up for less than £40 from Boardgameguru, and didn’t pay postage as I picked it up last month at the Expo.

One point I’d like to make is this retails for significantly less than the comparative Fantasy Flight offerings, yet provides you with a full game experience – I also played Star Wars Armada for the first time this month, and was frustrated at how little of a game actually comes in the box, and at most without spending more money on it, you are going to get four or five plays out of it.

Anyways, back to ToEE. Create a random stack of tiles, with specific tiles placed somewhere between the 9th and 12th tiles. On your turn, you move, and then take another action, be it fighting, or moving again, or trying to disarm a trap, or using an ability. Then, if you are on an unexplored tile edge, you place another tile, add any monsters to it, and then they get a turn. If you can’t explore, or the new tile dictates it, you also draw a ‘bad stuff happens’ encounter card. Some of the tiles you draw have no monsters, some have two or three. Also, some add traps which need to be disarmed, avoided, or sometimes walked on as they tend to be where you want to be.

With an additional campaign story, and the ability to add additional ‘skills’ at the village (and have the odd adventure in the village as well) there is a lot of fun to be had from this game. So, this gets the big thumbs up from me this month, and I really feel like I’m going to get good value from it.

Best Session Of The Month
Most of the best sessions I’ve had this year have been at OGRE, one of my local gaming groups. We meet at the host’s house once a month on a Friday evening and (usually) get a really good small group of us. This month we tackled Game Of Thrones 2nd Ed, and I had Martell. Early stages saw me trying to take chunks out of Tyrell, but it was mostly tit for tat. Out of frustration at us being the only two players really participating in any conflict, we agreed to turn our attentions on to Baratheon and Lannister, and between us we managed to inflict a fair amount of damage.

Meanwhile, Stark and Greyjoy were just playing landgrab wherever they could. Lannister turned on Greyjoy and all but wiped him out. This left Lannister close to victory, but this was stopped by Baratheon, and Stark. Now Stark had the throne in their grasp, but lost out to Baratheon and Lannister. Then in the final turn, it actually looked like Martell might get the win, but due to Baratheon going before Martell, they refilled their hand, and were ready for the Martell attack. So, at the end of the game, Stark and Martell were drawn on points, and on strongholds, so it came down to Stark having better supply. A great but long evening.

Solo Gaming
4 Temple Of Elemental Evils, 2 Sylvions, 1 Captain Is Dead, and 1 Star Wars Armada. As you can see from the plays, and from the above comment I have a firm favourite here. Having said that though, Sylvion is good as a quick hit play, although I haven’t moved past the basic game as yet. Captain Is Dead can be played solo, but is more fun with a few more players in the mix. The play of Star Wars Armada was more of a test to see how well the game works. The game works fine, I just have a problem with what little you get in the box.

Games Added To The Collection
5 games added this month - Werewolf Daybreak, Specter Ops, Cards Against Humanity, Sylvion, and Ivor The Engine. Daybreak just gives us a little more variability to the base game. Specter Ops we played at my local group and really enjoyed and I’m a fan of these hidden movement games, and really enjoyed that this had variable powers as well. Cards Against Humanity I’ll come to in a sec, Sylvion I’ve mentioned, and Ivor The Engine for 3 reasons – nostalgia, recommendation and price.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
4 games gone this month, all sold to friends or via the BGG Marketplace - New Era, Navajo Wars, The Convoy, and Phantom Fury. New Era and Convoy I felt were both replaced by Imperial Settlers which I absolutely love, and with that in my collection, I don’t see the point in owning the other two – I’m really keen to play Imperial Settlers as much as possible, and won’t be touching them as a result.

Navajo Wars is a real sigh moment for me – I tried really hard to play it, played through the introductory scenario, read the rules from cover to cover, and made copious notes to help me play the game, but it just never came together in my head and clicked. I was deliberately hiding from it, and avoiding the cupboard it lived in, so it had to go.

Phantom Fury I played and understood, but ultimately found very repetitive and incredibly processional – the game requires you to be incredibly methodical, and I can see that this is an accurate thematic interpretation, but it never felt like fun, and my single session where I failed very near the end was too much like a bookkeeping exercise. Maybe solo wargames just aren’t for me – I’d rather be playing Temples Of Elemental Evil.

Other Gaming Stuff
We had a family game of Apples To Apples whilst my wife was away, and the kids mentioned that they’d really like to try Cards Against Humanity so I picked up a set. Before anyone registers their disgust, my kids are 21,20,18 and 15, so nothing too irresponsible there. I also picked up 3 expansions at the same time to keep some variety in there, and we’ve played twice this month, and had great fun with it – first time particularly was very funny, played after a bbq where beer had been consumed (by me). I can see why some people really don’t like this game, but we do, and I’m pretty sure it is going to become the game of choice in the house. After my son’s prom, he ended up playing it most of the night with his friends.

Music
Still getting a lot out of Painted Shut by Hop Along, and it is still my most played album this month. I’ve been listening to a few other bands, like Vintage Caravan and Phosphorescent, but just keep coming back to Hop Along. Great album, loose classic indie.

Books
I finished All The Pretty Horses, and am now making my way through the second book of the trilogy, The Crossing. This one is a lot darker so far, and a tougher read but I’m still finding it an incredible reading experience, and will happily see this through to the end of the trilogy.

Film
Well, I finally got to see Mad Max at the cinema, and I enjoyed it as much as I was disappointed by it. The film has a very consistent pace to it and is essentially a single chase sequence, with all character development taking place as part of the action. The main character (yes, Max) is actually almost a supporting role, and the true lead, Furiosa, is strong but ultimately shallow. As a piece of switch off entertainment, though, the film is perfect.

The film I saw this month that I enjoyed the most though was Chef. A simple story about a Chef who suffers at the hands of social media, and has to rebuild himself by going back to basics. It is also about his relationship with his estranged family, and with his closest friend. The music is an incredible addition to the film, and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack whilst cooking. No spoilers in saying it is a heart-warming story focusing on priorities and happiness.

TV
I’ve been watching the Channel 4 series, Humans, and have found that quite interesting, and I feel more involved with it than I did with Ex Machina. I tried Orange Is The New Black, but it was far too fluffy for me. We are now watching the third series of American Horror Story, but so far it feels that the storyline is weaker than the second series, and it is nowhere near as horror-filled as the first series. Still, my wife is enjoying it so we’ll see it through. I’m planning on trying her on Daredevil.

Video Games
I’ve really tried to get on with Project Cars, but the controls just feel clunky, like they’ve tried to make it too realistic – probably fine if you are using a wheel and pedals, but far too heavy for a handheld controller where the handling really does need to be a little more arcade like. As a result I’m playing Ride instead, and enjoying it a lot more – the handling for each type of bike varies nicely, but the overall experience is far more consistent than Project Cars.

On iOS, I had a quick crack at Fallout Shelter, but soon tired of it and the repetition required. It needs more variable events, and feels a little dull as it stands. It reminds me of the book Wool, though which is a positive comparison.

Next Month
Very little gaming in July as we are off to Bali, and need to travel fairly light. I might see if I can find a small light 3 player, but it is likely to be Lost Legacy or Lover Letter. Still, I’m really excited about going. We are staying in a villa in a village near Ubud, away from the tourist run. I’m looking forward to just getting away from the stresses of home life and work, and immersing myself in the culture.
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Wed Jul 1, 2015 11:35 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

May - My Month In Gaming

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
With May now over, this is number 5 of 12 in the gaming year blog. I tried keeping a diary once when I was about 11, but managed about three weeks, so this monthly method is working far better than that did. Highlight of the gaming month was the UK Games Expo, my annual pilgrimage, but more on that later. Personal highlights included climbing the ‘3 Peaks’ and I’ve now logged 5 climbs of Ben Nevis, 5 of Scafell, and 4 of Snowdon. I need to go and do Snowdon again!

New Game Of The Month
Although we only played it through once, Evolution takes my game of the month award. We played as a 6, and it worked really well with that number. Calls to play again were met with silence at the end, and I was worried that the game had failed with the group even though I’d really enjoyed it, but then at the end of the night, 3 other players said they’d have happily played again, so it was a hit with 4 of the 6 in the group.

What I like about it is the interactivity – players can, between them, set the food level. Carnivores quite rightly munch other species. Want to stop them? Then you need to evolve a defensive strategy (like hiding in a tree). There is also an amusing element behind the species that you end up creating, our favourite for this session being long-necked, shelled tree-climbers, so a monkey/turtle/giraffe thing.

Look, the game is just fun – you kick each other about, you curse players for screwing you over, and you do your best to stay in the running. If you fail miserably, and make mistakes then you smile, and the entire experience doesn’t take long anyway. Most of what you need to know is written on the cards, and the game is easy to explain. Scores are hidden to the end, so there is only a general assumption on who the leader is, so that keeps the ap at bay as well. With 6, you also just all play at the same time, so there is very little in the way of downtime. Great game.

Best Session Of The Month
Last month my best session was Time Of Soccer. This month, my best session was Time Of Soccer. The slow player was replaced by a much more involved and faster playing player, and we trimmed about 90 minutes of the playtime (this just goes to show how much difference a single player can make). I built a really good squad, and won both the cup and the league by getting good players early, and then making money by getting my fan level high very quickly due to having the right support staff, and of course winning lots of games. I got lucky with the dice, rolling 4 6’s at one point to turn what could have been a 4-1 loss into a 1-0 win and I won the cup on penalties against one of the neutral teams.

We all enjoyed the session, and I’m really pleased to have a copy of the game in my collection. I still think the name is daft though.

Solo Gaming
3 games of Lewis & Clark, and 2 of Drizzt. Lewis & Clark was one of those games that I played once and just went ‘huh?’. The cards can be used in numerous ways, and also the Indian ‘workers’ can be placed to add power to the cards, or to take village actions, so there was a lot going on, and I didn’t do particularly well, getting bogged down moving into the mountains as the NPC Scout waltzed onto the end of the track. Second game I managed to make it through the mountain range by the time the game ended, and third game, with a few take-backs, I managed a win by about three places.

So Lewis & Clark has taught me not to write-off a game too early, and to invest a little time to get something out of it. It took me about 3 run-throughs of the rules before I knew what I was doing, but I know actually think this is a really good game, and one I’ll be hanging on to.

The Legend Of Drizzt is just always going to be my kind of game. I know this series has its issues, but I really enjoy them, I love the minis, and really enjoy the old school monsters and settings. I used to play a lot of AD&D with my brother, and we loved adding minis to the experience. Games like Drizzt, and the other 3 in the series let me do this with a set of rules, and minis and tiles, and I just love getting lost in the world they create. Yes, the rules are a little gamey, and it is just a killfest, but it’s a lot of fun.

Games Added To The Collection
Well, going to the Expo was always going to mean a lot of games were going to come into the collection. Pre Expo, I picked up Witness as a fun game to play with the family. I’d pre-ordered Temple Of Elemental Evil, Beasty Bar and the new addition to the Lost Legacy series from Boardgameguru, and Paul was kind enough to chuck Empire Engine into the bag as well. At the show, I spotted the expansion for The Captain Is Dead on their display. I was completely unaware the game was available in the UK, and was even happier when they showed me the base game, so I immediately purchased both. The game looks simply stunning, and I can’t wait to give it a go. I picked up the Savage Worlds rpg book on a recommendation from a friend, and even if I never get to play it, I’ll enjoy reading the book through.

All volunteers get to put their name in the raffle, and this year team leaders got first pick, so I grabbed Star Wars Armada (well, it solved the problem of who was going to take it) and when my name got drawn later, I also took Adventure Tours. All in all an amazing haul this month.

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
Wow, so many. Clans sold here on BGG, and I sold Assyria, Australian Rails, Black Friday, Coney Island, Eaten By Zombies, Empire Builder, Gheos, Goblins inc, Highland Clans, Level 7 [Escape], Lifeboats, Myrmes, Quarantine, Race For The Galaxy (plus the 1st 3 expansions), Road Rally USA, Sentinels Of The Multiverse, Volldampf and Ys all through the Bring & Buy. So much more out than in again – a balance I need to maintain.

Of those that are gone, 8 were unplayed. Assyria was a good game, but missing pieces (I priced it cheap, and I’d added homemade replacements). Goblins inc was a poor Galaxy Trucker, Level 7 a poor Gears Of War, Myrmes too scripted, and Sentinels is so much easier to play as an app.

Other Gaming Stuff (also known this month as Expo)
Expo was brilliant again. This was my 4th year as a volunteer, and my 2nd as a Team Leader (the 3 men in shirts of purest green). I love being a part of this, and frankly am amazed at some of the moaning about it on here (although that is mostly from one person who seems to moan about everything on here, so no surprise really).

The same faces are there, and it doesn’t take long for it to be like we’ve all been together for ages rather than just a day or two. The general public are all friendly – I didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t chatty and grateful for any help we could give. It also struck me that the crowd generally is changing – there were far more couples than ever before (I remember females being a rare species at the old venue), and on the whole people seemed younger (or maybe I’m getting older). There were significantly less stereotypes present, that is for sure, so it was wonderful to see the hobby appealing to a broader crowd. Possibly this is the kick-back from Generation X-Box.

I didn’t get to play many games, but had a lot of fun on the Saturday night playing Werewolf with some of the other volunteers, and making jokes about badgers (you had to be there, really).

Music
Painted Shut by Hop Along is the best album I’ve listened to this month, and is one of those albums that really sinks its teeth into you. The vocals are gaspy and raspy and raw but also moving and full of emotion, and the band behind all do a good job of giving the album a real single take live band feel, but with the positives of that experience rather than the negatives so it never sounds grubby or messy, unless it was meant to of course.

I picked up the new Faith No More album, and although there are about 3 really good tracks on there, the album is short and covers a lot of old territory – a lot of the tracks sound like lesser versions of tracks on Real Thing.

I also saw Public Service Broadcasting at the Roundhouse this month. Great sound, fun show with lots of humour and I really enjoyed it. I don’t go to as many gigs these days, so I want it to be great when I do go, and this met my expectations. Camden Town is a dump though.

Books
I got to the end of JPod, and don’t really rate it. It always makes me shudder when authors put themselves into their books – it didn’t work for Stephen King, and it didn’t work here. Coupland sends himself up, but then backtracks and makes himself out as a superior being to the characters in the book – he becomes both judge and saviour, and it just grates.

I’m reading Cormac McCarthy’s All The Pretty Horses, and it is a beautifully written book, almost poetic at times. I loved The Road (well, as much as you can love the book considering the storyline) so it really shouldn’t have taken me this long to get to the book.

Film

Still haven’t seen Mad Max yet – maybe at the weekend. I did watch Big Hero 6, and was left feeling a little let down – there were some clever moments and set pieces, but overall it felt like How To Train Your Wall-e.

TV
I finally finished Breaking Bad, and I'm still staggered by how well written the entire series was. Nothing ever felt forced or contrived, which is incredibly refreshing for an American production. Time to move on to Better Call Saul!

Some really interesting themes though - whether or not it is possible to enter into criminal activity, and not behave like a criminal, where a man's principals really are (what is more important - family, money, or personal success? - Walt chooses family last in this list). Also, the question of what money brings - he only ever uses it to make a few minor personal material purchases, and the rest is just a burden. Also, I enjoyed the moral centre of the piece being an on and off junkie, one of the few characters who cared more about people than about personal gain by the end.

Video Games
I’ve had a couple of sessions on Project Cars on the PS4, and although the racing is good and the cars feel weighty, the Karts are pigs to drive, and feel horrible and twitchy. Unfortunately with the rags to riches career, the Karts are the starting point. I’ve ended a couple of sessions after only a few races simply through feeling travel sick thanks to the Karts.

Next Month
I’m really hoping to get lots of The Captain Is Dead played. We’ve also got a Game Of Thrones game scheduled in – that could be interesting given the players involved.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Wed Jun 3, 2015 12:19 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

All things April - Recreating WWII and other gaming nonsense

Steve Berger
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
flag msg tools
STAG Gamers - The friendliest group in Kent
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction
Wow, April is already gone and this year seems to be moving really quick. We had a fun Easter, but no family gaming which is a bit of a theme now – I get some game ideas but usually chatting and video games get in the way. Still, going to two gaming groups and being in a Thunder Alley league helps.

New Game Of The Month
This was a close run thing between Time Of Soccer and Quartermaster General, but I’m going to give the nod to Quartermaster General. This has really struck a chord with my local group for the simple reason that there aren’t many games that give a faithful recreation of WWII in an hour and a half. We’ve played 3 times, and each play has been very different. The more we play, the more we see as well. There are still questions we are working through (and I mean game questions rather than rule questions). What should Japan do? Go after Russia or the US? When is the best time for the Brits to hit Europe? How do the Germans and the Italians best work together (and they need to)?

The game is so simple – every play we’ve had a few new players, and within ten minutes of sitting down they know the game, and are ready to play. One good tip for all new players is to take some time to look through their deck, and get to know what the balance is and what their cards do so they know what is coming up.

Quartermaster General ticks everything on my wishlist. Simple to learn and teach, but with agonising decisions. Plenty of conflict and tension, but also with co-operation and group discussion. Great stuff.

Best Session Of The Month
Although it was long, and frustrating due to a slower player, but the best session this month was a 4 player game of Time Of Soccer. We sat down to play at 7:30 in the evening, and finished at 1 in the morning (we had a pizza break in there) so the game went really long, but it all came down to the final week. My team won the cup, but lost the league when the two top teams played off against each other (the same teams that met in the cup final). After the points tally, I finished 2nd overall, but it was a really enjoyable session.

Solo Gaming
Time Of Soccer twice through, and with very different results – the first time out I struggled to do well, but didn’t take advantage of the money making opportunities (selling players, friendlies) so always had cash flow problems. Second game I addressed this, and ended up winning the cup and top of the league. I’m ready to go again, but this time with a higher difficulty level – I really like the idea that this can be tweaked to give more of a challenge.

I also played a couple of solo games of Expedition: Northwest Passage, and found it to be really enjoyable. This is more of a tile laying puzzle when played solo as the goal is to place as many tiles as possible, which means knowing where you can play the tiles that are available, and also where your boat or sled needs to be (and also knowing the best time to shift between the two. It was really satisfying to be moving both the sled and the boat to meet up just at the right moment to get everyone back on board, but my score was still pretty awful. Visually really nice though.

Games Added To The Collection
Roll For The Galaxy due to some of the reviews – I have a few issues with Race that seem to be addressed here, so I’m hopeful this is going to work well. Evolution because I enjoy games with some conflict and like the theme. Expedition: Northwest Passage because it looks like an excellent tile laying exploration game – I love maps (it’s what I do) so any game of this type is going to be a hit with me. Time Of Soccer – a football game recreating the Championship Manager pc game? I’m in!

Games I’ve Said Goodbye To
Another good purge this month. I sold Guildhall simply because the price climbed up and I wasn’t going to miss it. I also sold Duel Of Ages II as it just didn’t click for me, and was going to be a hard sell to my group due to counters rather than minis and a slightly odd theme. I sold Hanabi and Innovation to another member of the group, so they are gone but not forgotten. Hanabi is a memory game and I have a shocking short term memory so I’m glad it’s gone, and Innovation needs a fair amount of plays to get the most from it, and this wasn’t going to happen. Space Cadets Dice Duel and Sylla have also gone, again because they simply weren’t getting played, and I have better games (I’d rather play Space Alert than Space Cadets, and Sylla is similar to a lot of games I already own).

Other Gaming Stuff
I’ve taken a break from painting now Imperial Assault is done. As a side note, the game wasn’t as great as I hoped it was going to be, but I’m sure once I get this in to my head, I can then start enjoying it. Also, now the weather is better there are outside jobs that need doing rather than sitting in the kitchen painting minis!

I really need to slim my collection down further though. I’ve got over 500 games listed, more than I’m ever going to play regularly, and all that happens is that in an effort to try and get as many played as possible I don’t give the time to the games I truly love. Where There Is Discord has only hit the table once, and I loved my first session, and hardly got to play the landing part of the game. Ginkgopolis rarely gets an outing, and it is an excellent game. I’d happily play Gears Of War at least once a month, but I’m so busy trying to learn and play new games that I don’t have the time.

So less purchasing and more selling should help.

Music
A really mixed month this month. I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff I’ve purchased so far this year, so lots of Moon Duo, more Sleepy Sun, some Swans, Godspeed, and a little bit of Van Halen as well because life is better with DLR era Van Halen in it. Not much new though.

Books
Finished Rivers Of London and I won’t be reading any others in the series – this one was ok, but I don’t feel the need for any more. I read the rather incredible ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig – a moving and personal story about the writer’s experiences with depression and anxiety. There is a lot to be gained from reading this, even if just as an affirmation of life. I read Eeny Meeny, a fairly good whodunit which unfortunately lacked the twist these books need, and I also read the ya novel ‘This Is Shyness’ only because it had been recommended to me. I enjoyed the book, but it ended rather abruptly and anti-climatically almost as if the writer decided to suddenly wrap the story up. There was a single good set piece though that I enjoyed, and some good characters.

I’m now reading JPod by Douglas Coupland in an attempt to purge Worst Person Ever from my system. So far so good, and it is much closer to the style of his that I enjoy.

Film
No cinema trips this month. We watched Life Of Pi. I hoped I’d enjoy the film more than the book, but ultimately it was a forgettable experience. My biggest film moment of the month was the 2nd Star Wars trailer. My expectation levels are stratospheric at the moment, and you know I might even shed a tear during the first scene with the old crew together.

TV
Nearly done with Breaking Bad – there are about 5 episodes left, and I’ve stopped trying to figure out where this is going, instead I’m just enjoying every step of the journey. The dialogue is so good, natural yet snappy, the characters so rich. And it still manages to deliver those jaw dropping moments where I am stunned for a few minutes.

We watched all of Season 1 of the Following, and overall it was a good series. There were a few annoying characters, but only one of them a central character (Emma) otherwise the tension was maintained, and the writing was good. There were a few superb scenes where Kevin Bacon’s acting talent really shone through, particularly at one stage where he torments his captors. We are now on The Returned, and yeah, it’s ok, but slightly annoying due to some cheesy dialogue, and simplistic character reactions to situations. Also, the general reaction to a load of previously dead people returning to town seems far too muted. I’d be far more freaked out.

Video Games
The PS4 and Xbox are banned now – exams are looming for both my middle two sons and they just can’t resist the temptation, so I’ve put the consoles in my games cupboard (trust me, they’ll never look in there). I’ve got Ride on order, but nothing else going.

Next Month
Last month I wanted to get Time Of Soccer and Quartermaster General played, and my wish came true. May is UK Games Expo month, and again I’m volunteering which is always great fun but exhausting. I’m due there on the Wednesday, and will be driving back on the Sunday night. So, lots of gaming, lots of people to meet and catch up with, and lots of new games to look at and try. I hope to get in a go of the expansion for Quartermaster General, and I’m so tempted to pick up Clash Of Cultures. I’m not really looking out for much else – Beasty Bar, maybe Merchant Of Venus. What I’m looking for is to have fun.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Fri May 1, 2015 2:09 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3  Next »  

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.