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My wife and I love to play games together. Join us for the journey!

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Star Wars: Rebellion (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Since all you have to do is scroll down to get my initial thoughts about this game there is no reason for me to be coy about it. I really liked it (more on why later). However, as a two player game I knew the big challenge would be if my wife liked it or not. Fortunately for us, a friend let us borrow his copy so we could try it before taking the plunge. So does this game go down at legendary status like The Empire Strikes Back or is it a disaster on par with the Star Wars Christmas Special?

Game Overview
In this game one player is the Evil Galactic Empire who is trying to find and destroy the rebel base, while the other side is the Rebel Alliance seeking to topple the oppressive regime.

Each turn begins by players assigning leaders to mission cards. Each player has four cards available every turn, but they will constantly be drawing new ones. Once missions are assigned, players will go back and forth taking turns.

On a player's turn they will be using their leaders to do things. There are three primary things a leader can do. The first is activate units. To do this a leader is put in a system, and all adjacent units may move there. Units may not move out of a system that a leader is in, so it is impossible to move a force across the galaxy in one move. Ground units (and tie fighters) can only move if there is a bigger ship to carry them.

Leaders can also be used to carry out mission assigned to them. A mission will always specify the conditions of the system the leader must be sent to (such as an Imperial system with an Imperial unit) and it will either be a resolve mission or an attempt mission. If it is an attempt mission, then the opponent may oppose the mission by sending one of their leaders. Opposing a mission is the last thing leaders can do. Each mission has a skill type associated with it, and each leader has a number of skill icons of that type. For each icon a leader has they can roll a die when opposed. The side that gets the most successes wins. If the one on the mission wins, then the mission happens and if not the mission fails.

These mission have a wide variety of effects. They can cause systems to join a side, they can destroy units, place units, and even capture opposing leaders.

Whenever, units of opposing sides are in the same system combat results. Leaders can be deployed to lead the fighting and leaders can grant players combat cards. There are two levels of combat, naval and ground. They are resolved the same way. Different units will roll red or black dice. Normal hits can only be applied to opposing units that match that color. So for instance a starfigther is a black unit but a Star Destroyer is a red unit. There is a symbol on the dice that can be applied to all types of units. All units will get a chance to roll dice before they are removed. After that has happened, the defender can choose to retreat and then the attacker may choose. If not a new round of combat happens. If an imperial unit ever occupies a planet unopposed then they get to subjugate that planet. It is not as good as loyalty but still provides resources.

The rebel player will be seeking to meet various conditions to play objective cards. Each objective moves the rebel marker one space forward on the turn track. If the rebel marker and the turn marker ever occupy the same space the rebels win. Each turn the Imperial player will get two probe cards which tells them where the rebel base is not. When the Imperial player lands ground troops, they will also be told if that is the base location or not.

If the Imperial player ever has ground troops unopposed on the base or just blows up the planet with a Death Star they win.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 5 (love it)
My Thoughts: This is the Star Wars game you have been looking for. It capture the essence, the grand adventure, and the "pew-Pews" of the original trilogy and puts it in a box. This game provides the backdrop for incredible Star Wars stories. For instance, I sent General Madine on a sabotage mission to Corellia, but he was opposed by Darth Vader and failed the mission. Then on my wife's turn she used Boba Fett to try and capture General Madine. However, she failed. This backdrop allowed me to imagine an amazing story of the rebel general leading his strike team only to find himself out matched by Darth Vader, narrowly escaping he runs into the bounty hunter back up plan. However, the rebel general outsmarts the bounty hunter and escapes. The mission failed, but at least he made it out. Or did he? Because the next round, My wife did a capture mission again against Madine and this time got him. This continued the story, as Boba Fett never leaves a contract unfulfilled. This also allows space for dramatic space opera battles, like when we had the super star destroyer get ambushed by three Mon Cal cruisers. This game perfectly captures the Star Wars theme, and if Star Wars is your thing then this really needs to be your next "Must Get" game.

Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I did like this game. It is really good. The game is very thematic. It has a lot of small rules that can be hard to keep straight, but the core mechanic of using leaders is fairly straightforward. This game provide good but frustrating choice of trying to figure out the best use for each leader. My complaint about this game is that it is long. I know with repeated plays it would be shorter, but I think unless the Imperial player gets lucky it is always over two hours. If this game were half the length then it would be perfect.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 9
It is not a matter of if we get this game, it is a matter of when. My wife's concern is that with a long play time it will not come out very often. That is a valid concern, but I think it is reasonable that we would play the game once or twice a year. If that was the case, then I could see us owning and playing this game for a very long time.
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Wed May 25, 2016 9:34 pm
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The Rebellion has come, so Here I Stand at Geekway to the West a Second Time

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I just got back from attending Geekway to the West for the second time. Last year, it was a family affair as we all went. This year I headed with west with my friend:
Cody Jones
United States
Franklin
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Geekway to the West is a con that is very focused on open gaming. There is very little in the way of events and even less in the way of vendors.I played several games and several unique and fun gaming experiences.

Thursday
One of the big features of Geekway to the West is the Play and Win room. They have hundreds of games that can be checked out and played. Once they are played everyone who participated can write their name on a card for a chance to win. Upon arriving to the convention we immediately headed there. The first game we played was Mystery Rummy: Escape from Alcatraz. I have played several mystery rummy games, but not this one. I do not think this game played well with two players at all. The big mechanic of this game is foiling escapes, but with just two players enough cards rarely come out to trigger this mechanic. Perhaps it works better with more.

After that we played Maze Racers. This is a game that I had really wanted to play for awhile, and it did not disappoint. In this game players race to build a maze as fast as possible and then they race to see who can complete the other's first. I really enjoyed this game and I would like to play it again. I think my son would enjoy just making mazes using the magnetic pieces.

At this point I had the first game that I prearranged. I played Baseball Highlights: 2045 using the four player tournament rules. In the first match up I won the series 2 to 1. In the second match up I then lost 1 to 2. All three of these matches were very close and tight. This theme of close match ups continued as I entered into the third series. The first match went into extra innings and ended with me zero to one. However, I went on to win the next two games.

This record got me the second seed in the playoff series. At this point our teams were set, and I had a cyborg heavy team. This worked in my benefit, as most players did not have cards geared against cyborgs. The playoff went to game five, but I managed to pull it off and win to make it into the world series. I ended up playing against the person who I played last in the round robin. He had the fourth seed, but got the upset. For the world series we did a best of five instead of best of seven. It did not start off well for me. I won the first game, but then lost two straight. I rallied and got a shout out with four runs scored. This took it to game five, and I won that one too! It was a lot of fun, and this is a great way to play this game.

After one of what would become many trips to the Fuzzy Taco, I taught Millennium Blades to Cody and a couple of other people.
I was a little nervous because the two people who played with us were fairly new to gaming, but they got on quickly.

I followed this up with playing my second game of Secret Hitler. This time I ended up being a Fascist. I was able to earn some trust quickly, but more importantly I was able to help get the Secret Hitler in confidence of the group, and right after the third fascist legislation was passed Hitler was elected chancellor.

After that I ran into a couple of people from Indianapolis that I have not seen for a good while, and got up with them over a game of Nevermore. I played this game at Gen Con last year and thought it was so-so. However, I enjoyed it more this time. This was the last game I played on the first day of Geekway to the west.

Friday
Friday was my day of big games. It got started off with Star Wars: Rebellion.
This was probably the game of the con. It seemed that on every other table this game was being played all weekend long, and for good reason! This game is so, so good. It is a near perfect Star Wars game. The game just naturally tells epic Star Wars stories. I played the Empire, and it was a very close game. With just a couple of turns to go until the end of the game, I successfully located the rebel base and brought upon it the full wrath of Imperial might and won the game. This game truly does for Star Wars what War of the Ring does for the Lord of the Rings.

After that I played Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection.
This was my first time to play a COIN game. I had the roll of the French, and together with the Americans we beat the British and the Native Americans pretty strongly. I thought that I would get the victory, but the American player was able to achieve his victory condition at the last second. I think for an American Revolution game I still prefer Washington's War, but I really liked the COIN system. It is very unique, innovative and offers incredible choices.

What followed was the BIG game. I had arranged to be part of a full six player game of Here I Stand. This was the first time to play this game for both Cody and myself, but we were playing with old pros who had played the game 10+ times. I got to play my first pick of the Protestants. After a 35-40 minute rule dump, we got started. In between turns I was able to run up and make my math trade exchanges. On Friday night we played the game four about four and half hours, with plans to pick it up Saturday morning.

Saturday
In the morning, before resuming the big game I had some time to kill. I went to the play and win room on my own. It was early and it was sparse. I noticed the game Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game had a way to play single player. I also noticed that it by far and away had the least play and win entries, so I gave it a shot. Unless I missed a rule the single player game is terrible. The row of cards I could choose from to accomplish tasks got clogged with cards I could not use, so this just led to me top decking and hoping I got the right color. It was terribly boring.

This got me back to Here I Stand. As the Protestant player, I spent a lot of my time going against the Catholic player. I managed to wrestle religious control of Germany away from the Catholic side, but every now then I would lose someplace like Strasbourg. My progress got impeded by the English player, my friend Cody, doing so well. He got the best result he could get on the Henry’s wives chart and he had some key New World discoveries. This meant that I could not spread the Protestant gospel in England very effectively because doing so would literally hand him the game. I tried to make inroads into France, and it started off really well, but then a very productive Catholic round undid all of my progress. That kind of summed up my experience with the game. For every two steps forward I would get knocked one step back, or every now and then three steps back.

As the game approached its twelfth hour, it was clear that we were in the last turn. I had been competitive for the entire game, but it was clear that I was just outside of true contention for the win. France, England, and the Papacy all had roads to victory. I was in a bit of a king making position. I could not win, but I could just about ensure that the Papal player did not win, and I had a good chance at finishing in front of him. I could only do this though by spreading Protestantism in England, which would all but guarantee an English victory. If I did this, then the only way to stop the English would have been for the Habsburgs to fight, but if that happened then the Hapsburgs would have been guaranteeing the French won. The Habsburg player decided to prevent the French from winning, and I decided to prevent the Papacy from winning. This gave England the win, France finished second, and I tied with the Papcy for third.

I am very happy that I finally got to play this game. The expert players said that this was one of the closest, tightest and longest games they had played. At the beginning they said most games end in turns five or six. We went to turn seven. Every player was at some point in contention for victory, and I think the experienced players thought it was a great play of the game. Playing Here I stand was a gaming bucket list item for me. However, I do not think I will ever play it again. It was long, and more importantly it felt long. There were a couple of turns, where by the end of the turn I was in more or less the exact same position at the start of the turn. All of my gains were undone. I understand that is part of the nature of the game, but that was an hour and a half that was more or less pointless for me. An event like Geekway is the only real venue for me to play this long of a game. I really can not say that it was my best gaming experience, but it was one worth having.

After a brain burning seven and a half hours of Here I Stand, I was mostly just up for light games. I played several games of Crokinole, and I won one of four. I am not very good at that game.

Next, I got to play Deception: Murder in Hong Kong.
This is a game that I was really interested in because I heard it described as a cross between Mysterium and the Resistance. The first game we played, one of the investigators nailed it on his first guess after only three clues. For the second game the Accomplice was thrown in and that made it a bit trickier but the Investigators still got it.

After Deception I continued the light games by teaching Cody how to play Ninja Camp. We then got out Coup: Rebellion G54, and connected back up with one of the people we played Millennium Blades with. He had stated then how much he wanted to play Coup. We recruited one more, and even though I lost they were two extremely enjoyable games. There was a lot of personality around the table, and everyone really got into the game.

At this point Cody was done for the night, but I was not. I probably spent about half an hour looking for a game. Geekway to the West has Players Wanted flags, but either people did not use them or no one wanted players. Well that is not true, I could have played Power Grid but that was not happening. Right before I gave up I went to see what Patrick and Julia were up to. This couple from my local gaming group, came to Geekway with a whole posse of friends and relatives. They claimed a corner of the ballroom for the weekend. This worked out well for me because they were looking to organize a game of Two Rooms and a Boom and needed someone to teach it.
I did that, and I ended up being the President. I think some members of the Blue team did not quite understand, because even though we were in the final round and I was in a room full of blue team members I could not wrestle control away from the gambler, who had allied with the red team.

After that the same group of people (minus some and plus some) played several rounds of Deception. I got to be the Forensic Investigator once. When I played that role, we won in the first round on the first official guess. In the last round we got down to the very last guess before getting right, but in every instance the investigators won. I feel like it is really hard for the Murder to get away with it in this game. It is a fun experience, but I am not sure how balanced of a game it is. After Deception and approaching midnight I called it a night.

Sunday
One of the people that I played Deception with got Warhammer: Invasion in the math trade, and I had plans to teach him how to play. While waiting to do that, I helped out some people with Millennium Blades and Star Wars Rebellion. I then taught Warhammer Invasion. It has been ages since I played with just the core cards, and doing so helped me appreciate just how much the game grew and developed over its lifecycle.

Even though I had already played once at Geekway, I had arranged a time to play Millennium Blades with my friend Adam. I was the only one who had played, and it was using the recommended starting set of cards. This gave me a bit of an advantage. I pursued a score ability heavy strategy. In doing so I won the second tournament and placed second in the third tournament. I also saved money in the last round instead of fishing for that last hard to get card for my collection, and doing that gave me the extra points to cement a victory.

My last game of Geekway to the West was Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. This was ending on a high note because I had been wanting to play this game. I was pleasantly surprised by it and I think this game has a lot going for it. I am a little curious how it will work with just two, but I know based on theme alone this is a game we are getting at some point.
Due to a scheduling conflict, I missed out on going to the local Indy Con this year. For that reason alone I am very glad that I got to attend Geekway to the West. Geekway is well ran and it is growing. Next year it is in a new location, and it is well on its way to being a super-regional con. I am not sure if I will go back next year, as I prefer Indy Con and I am not sure if I need to go to both since they have such similar experiences. I have a year to figure that out though, as it is stands now I had a great weekend!
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Mon May 23, 2016 5:14 pm
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Games for Couples that Want to Fight

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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A fairly common occurrence on Board Game Geek is someone asking for recommendations for games that are good to play with their significant other. Often these recommendations always include the same recommendations of Lost Cities and Ticket to Ride. Those recommendations are fine and all, but games recommended for couples tend to all be cut from the same cloth. They tend to be more gateway style games with light euro game mechanics and low conflict.

What about couples that want to fight? A couple’s conflict game is not one that has a specialized scope such as high level simulation wargame. a good couple’s conflict game is not an in your face area control game either as those tend to work best with multiple people. Finally, a good couple’s conflict game is not a game with a high level of take that, because all of that taking is directed to one person. That is how someone ends up sleeping on a couch. I think my wife and I represent the two sides of conflict in games pretty well. I like a good fight in a game, but my wife is much more “don’t mess with my stuff.” Even with those differences, we have found a few games that are based around conflict that we really like. Here are our top ten conflict games for couples

10. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game

The Conflict: Zombies vs. survivors in a scenario based game that is a homage to Zombie B-Movies.

Why it Works Well for Couples: This is an all vs. 1 game but it works really well with two players. The sides are very asymmetrical so even though a lot of the card is really “take that” it does not feel that way. I love the narrative this game delivers. In a two player game the human player has an advantage but it is not overly lopsided.

Her Thoughts: I am kind of whatever about the zombie theme, but the theme really comes through. The dice combat is fun and exploring for items adds a sense of discovery.

9. King of Tokyo
The Conflict: Monsters bashing each other to be the king of the hill.

Why it Works Well for Couples: To be honest, my wife squeezed this game onto the list. Personally, I prefer King of Tokyo better with more. However, the game works with two because playing with two basically jumps straight to the end game. There is a lot of pressure of knowing when to yield Tokyo and when to stay. This pressure is greater when it is just two so that added tension does make the two player game interesting.

Her Thoughts: Rolling dice is fun, and I really like playing this with the power up expansion for extra powers.


8. Manoeuvre
The Conflict: This game simulates clashing armies in the Napoleonic era.

Why it Works Well for Couples: This has some of the trappings and feeling of a wargame with not being a traditional wargame. Hand management and tactical maneuvering is the heart of this game. The simple move a unit, and play a card to make an attack rules makes this game very accessible.

Her Thoughts: I like that this is a game I can wrap my head around. It is also fun to set up a big attack and watch int work right.

7. Warhammer: Invasion

The Conflict: Various factions fight for domination in the old world.

Why it Works Well for Couples: This game bridges a gap between CCG style play and euro games. It has deck construction, combos, and action chains. However, at the base this is a resource management game with a form of tableau building.

Her Thoughts: I have a lot of fun playing this game under very specific conditions. I need to have some familiarity with the deck or it needs to be straightforward. The decks also need to be balanced together. I really disliked playing against tournament decks back in the day.


6. Trenchzone
The Conflict: Trench warfare of WWI

Why it Works for Couples: This is less a war game and more a war themed game. Trenchzone has troops dying by the dozens but it is more of a hand management game. Players play cards to three zones, and there is a lot of interesting choices as players balance where to attack and where to defend.

Her Thoughts: It has been too long since we have played this. I always appreciated the simple objective this game has. First one to the other side wins, but the challenge of doing that makes this game very interesting.

5. Hold the Line

The Conflict: The American Revolution

Why it Works for Couples: This game works for all of the same reasons that Memoir ‘44 works (spoiler: It’s coming). In this game players get mad of a bad die rolls instead of bad card draws, but it does make conflict much more accessible compared to a more hardcore war game.

Her Thoughts: I am not big into history, but I do like that this makes something important to my national history easy to play and engaging.

4. Risk: Star Wars Edition

The Conflict: The Evil Empire vs. the Rebel Alliance above and on the moon of Endor.

Why it Works for Couples: This game is very quick to play with very easy to understand rules that are very intuitive. Having three unique areas to focus on makes for great choices. Even though the players are in conflict the game feels less like fighting and more like players are trying to accomplish goals that are at odds with one another.

Her Thoughts: This is another game where the theme comes through really well. Deciding how to use each card is a fun choice and I am glad this game allows for a lot of dice rolling.

3. Zeppelin Attack!
The Conflict: Supervillain airship armadas clash against one another in a pulp setting.

Why it Works for Couples: This game succeeds because even though players attack each other the whole game, it does not feel like it. This is because by and large attacking only helps the attacker without really hindering the defender. It’s all the fun with none of the mess.

Her Thoughts: This is such an unique deck building game. It is fun when my hit goes through and I get the point. I really like that this game has fighting but nobody really messes that much with my stuff.

2. Dice Masters
The Conflict: Superheroes and villains fighting each other because reasons.

Why it Works for Couples: This game is very manageable because it requires only keeping 10 cards in mind (8 characters and two basic actions). Making a team and playing takes a lot less time than traditional deck building. Global abilities allow for some clever tricks, but there is not as much to comprehend or know upfront about how things work as there is in a traditional CCG.

Her Thoughts: I really do enjoy rolling dice, and I love all of the custom dice this game has. I also find it fun to play. I have been surprised by how much I enjoy drafting.

1. Memoir '44

The Conflict: World War. Depending on the expansions, all fronts are covered.

Why it Works for Couples: This game is so accessible while providing such interesting choices. The scenarios spell out the strategy that a player has, so that means each turn is all about making the best tactical decision to accomplish the strategy. This is one of our favorite games to play together.

Her Thoughts: This is one of my favorite games, and I am just always willing to play it because the game plays so well and is always exciting. I do much prefer to play the attacking side than the defending side though.
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Thu May 19, 2016 4:00 am
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Neuschwabenland (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I recently got this game from the Wargamers Paying It Forward geeklist. This is a game I never heard of but it is about Nazi soldiers hidden in Antarctica after WWII defending their hidden stronghold from aliens. That extremely interesting theme is explored through a scenario based hex and counter war game. For some unknown reason, my wife agreed to play this game(!) so is this game out of this world or should it be put on ice?

Game Overview
In this game one side takes the role of the Neuschwabenland Reich and he other takes the side of the mysterious aliens. The game is played for a set amount of turns as dictated by the scenario.

Each turn goes through the same process. The Reich player determines how many units they get to activate. It will always be at least half of their total, and based on a die roll could be up to +3 more. The alien player then rolls a die to determine how many hexes their worm units can move each turn.

Next both players get to rally and units that had been weakened. The Reich player does this by rolling two dice and getting a 1 or 2 result. The Alien player does this by using two of the units potential movement points.

Finally the main part of the game is the action phase. The Reich player goes first and orders units equal to the number they determined in the initial phase. Units may move and make close combat, fire, or move half their movement and fire. There are a few unit specific actions as well, and infantry are assigned equipment that they can use.

The alien player is able to activate all of their units which will either be worms or tripods. The worms are faster and only engage in close combat, while tripods are only good at a range.

In ranged combat the attacker rolls their attack dice. If they roll white dice then only a 1 or 2 hits. If they roll red dice then a 1-3 hits. One hit weakens a unit, and two destroys it. If a unit has armor, then number of hits is reduced by the armor. For close combat, both sides roll their combat dice with the attacker rolling one extra. Each hit rolled cancels out an opposing hit, and whichever side is in excess wins with those hits being applied. If it is a tie the attacker must retreat.

There are some minor, unit specific rules but that about covers the basic flow of the game. Victory is determined by the scenario.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: The maker of this game Tiny Battle Publishing has the slogan, "Big Fun, tiny package." In a lot of ways this game feels like a continuation of something like the Task Force Games: Pocket Games series or the Metagaming Microgames series. This is a creative and unique theme presented with budget components. The map is paper, but it is attractive and the counters are surprisingly good both in art and quality. I liked the game system. I thought it was unique, worked well for the game, and it was very accessible. I really wish the game had more narrative though. This game is essentially a made up story, and it completely drops the ball here. The game's story is told in one page, and the scenario descriptions are only one or two sentences. I realize this is a game and not a novel, but the appeal of this kind of the game is playing out the story. The narrative here is lacking and feels very amateurish. Had this element of the game been further developed then my rating would be higher.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: When I saw the paper map (awful!) and the counters (ugh!) I thought I as going to hate his game. It was surprisingly playable. The game rules were easy to understand and keep straight. The game play was enjoyable enough as well. I had no connection to the game though, I was not really sure what the alien things I had were or why they were fighting. This made it hard to really engage the game fully. I will probably never request to play this game, but I also would not be absolutely against playing it again either.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6
When it comes to my wife and this kind of war game, "Not absolutely against playing it again" is a win. The game comes with six scenarios, and they can be played as a campaign. I think doing that once will be pretty close to expending this games plays. The game has a retail price of $20 (or $10 for print and play files). We do not really make value calls often because it is so subjective. My wife thinks because of the components that is high. I think the price is right for 6 to 10 plays in a game that tells a story (even if it is regrettably underdeveloped) and has a cool theme.
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Wed May 18, 2016 4:28 am
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My Gen Con Events and Plans

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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If you are a Gen Con attendee then you were probably aware that today was the day that the event registration opened up. Like thousands of others this afternoon I waited for the countdown to reach zero so I could submit my wishlist. Overall, I got most of what I wanted but the two biggest events I had planned for did not make it, so I had to go with plan B.

Gen Con is going to be a bit different this year for me, because this year my wife is not coming with me. We both feel that for us Gen Con is the time to get gaming experiences that we can not get anywhere else. For my wife, she feels like she has expended a lot of these options. She is not interested in RPGs, miniatures, or tournaments. She also only likes learning new games in small amounts, so demoing game after game is overwhelming for her. She is sitting this year out, and the next year we are seriously considering taking our son for the first time (he will be a second grader then), and if we do that then she will be coming for sure.

I am a little bummed that because I will most likely miss "Day 0" this year. My wife's job has a couple of mandatory, only miss if you are dead meetings a year, and of course one falls on the Wednesday of Gen Con. I am going to have to creative with child care of (most likely) just sit it out this year. Despite that, I have a full schedule of plans for Gen Con this year. Here is what I have planned and what I am really excited about!

Thursday
For the third year in a row I am going to start Gen Con by running a Federation Commander event. This year for the event I am making a three faction scenario that involves the Klingons, the Federation, and Orion Pirates. One of the necessary problems that I have run into with these big con scenarios is that both sides tend to gang up on a single ship when the fight. This means that one player on each side ends up limping earlier than others. I am hoping having three competing factions will negate this a bit and spread the fire out some. This event still has a couple of tickets available, and I would love to teach you my favorite game.

Federation Commander will be over around 12:30, and then I plan on spending most of Thursday exploring the much bigger exhibition hall. Like the past years, I will probably end up staying away from the big publishers like Fantasy Flight and instead look at some of the smaller publishers. Since I now am co-leading an ongoing and consistent role playing campaign, I am looking forward to discovering and picking up some good RPG resources this year.

In the evening I am running another event. One of the major reasons why I run events is selfish. It ensures I get to play the games I want to play, and that is the case for my Thursday evening event. I am running the full mini-campaign for Star Wars: Imperial Assault – Twin Shadows. I will be taking the role of the Imperial player and running four players through the whole thing.

Friday
In what was some sub-par planning on my part (I forget just how far away from the convention center I live), I am beginning Friday by running another event after what will be a late night on Thursday. At 9AM I am running a Parsely adventure. This RPG seeks to emulate text based 80's computer games. I play the annoying computer and everyone else is the player. This went well the two times I did it last year. This time I promised to bring donuts with me, and that bribe filled the event up really fast.

After Parsely, I will have a couple of hours to finish up in the exhibition hall, before I have a scheduled time to play The Great Dinosaur Rush. This is a game that I am very interested in, and I think a couple of dollars for the guaranteed chance to play a full game is very much worth it.

After that game I intentionally have a couple of open hours to do whatever. If I need more time in the exhibiton hall I can do that. I could also check out the auction hall, the publisher rooms, or I might even bring some extra Dice Masters cards with me so I can built something in cardhalla. That is a Gen Con feature I have not yet done anything with.

Next, I am going to play in one of my big events for the con. For several years at Gen Con I have seen the massive giant
board they have set up. This year, I am going to get to experience it for myself as I play Battlestations for the first time.

Finally, I am going to end Friday with playing Two Rooms and a Boom. I had a ticket to play this last year, but my Dice Masters tournament went long. I have played the game multiple times, but I am really looking forward to playing a massive game with dozens and dozens of different roles.

Saturday
Saturday is when Gen Con reaches peak crowds, so a few years ago my wife and I decided the best way to approach Saturday is to pack the day with events. This way we stay busy and out of the crowds. Even though I am on my own, I am taking the same approach.

I am going to start bright and early by playing Wizard Kings. I played the same game in the same event two years ago (at the same time even!). I really enjoyed the game, and even if it is an introductory scenario I am looking forward to playing it again.

Presumably when that is over, I will have games to exchange in the math trade. I left some extra time on the back end of that. Hopefully, I do not have a trade with "that guy" this year, but you never know. Next I am going to play Spurs: A Tale in the Old West
. This was not my first choice for this time slot, but I think this will still be fun. I like the premise of the game, and as an added bonus the winner of this event gets to keep the game.

One of the events that I am most excited about this year is playing Sailpower. This an age of sail miniatures games, that uses ships that are 1/100th scale! This is exactly the kind of event that is perfect for playing at Gen Con.

After that wraps up I have a ticket to go to the Double Exposure playtest hall. For the past few years I have been interested in doing this. I got a ticket one year, but it did not work out. Another year we went in to play, but my wife decided she did not want to get put in a game she knew nothing about. I am interested in trying something completely new and experimental.

The final event of Saturday is an adventure for 13th Age. I wanted to play in one RPG event this year. My first choice on Thursday did not go through. My initial plans on Saturday night, an Imperial Assault tournament, also filled up. I know nothing about the 13th age system, but this is a roleplaying game adventure that was open and fit the right time slot. Playing it is kind of a roll of the dice, but hopefully it will be fun.

Sunday
As I have done for every year since 2010, I plan on attending the Gen Con worship service again this year on Sunday morning. After that I have a couple of open hours, and then I will close out Gen Con by running a Star Wars RPG.
I am really excited about this adventure, because it will follow a group of Resistance Pilots in the Force Awakens time period. For the ship combat, I am going to be using Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. The actual shooting and damage will still use the RPG system, but all maneuvering will be done with the flight path system. This event will conclude right around the time that Gen Con is over.

Those are my plans, and we will see how it goes. I am excited and looking forward to it. I only have to wait 79 more days!

So what are your Gen Con plans?
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Mon May 16, 2016 3:22 am
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Can you be a Casual Wargamer?

sean johnson
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I really like the idea of wargames. I like the basic nature of them. I like how narrative, theme, and mechanics are interwoven together. The year we started this blog (2012) is the same year that my wife and I discovered that she absolutely does not like war games (with several very notable exceptions). For the past several years, I have really tried to hone in on finding the perfect (for me) collection of wargames. I think I am really close. Something I have learned along the way, is I think in a lot of ways I am actually a bigger fan of historical war themed games, than I am of simulations. I want to process my thoughts about this here by first going though what I do not like in wargames, then focusing on what I do, and then thinking about where I go from here. Here are my overall thoughts on the games of war, and what I have learned about how I like to fight them.

What I Don't Like

Battle Simulation: So at this point I have played several of
these games like Battle for Galicia, 1914, Monmouth, Gazala 1942 and Antietam Campaign. While I moderately enjoyed all of these games, if I am being brutally honest I also got a little bored playing through them. I think part of it is the scale of these games. These games tend to be on the brigade or company level. The game boards seek to be accurate recreated maps of the actual battlefields. The problem with these game for me, is that I do not feel them. When the little counter representing the 5th Brigade clashes with the another Brigade counter, and I roll for a result on a combat result table, I have no concept what that actually looks like. On top of that, the bird's eye view perfect information of these games makes everything feel so clinical and sometimes so programmed. Now I have to admit that in playing these games I did learn a lot. I was able to read about the battle after playing the game, and the game play experience did help illuminate reading about it. However, I just do not think I am the biggest fan of hex and counter battle simulations when a counter represents hundreds or thousands of soldiers.

Extra Chrome: I think it is this point that made me think I like war themed games more than tried and true wargames. I have definitely come to learn that I like streamlined game systems. I do not mind complexity and remembering a lot of rules, but the more extra stuff that is piled on top of extra stuff the more tedious it gets for me. It is for this reason that even though I love Federation Commander I have no desire to even attempt Star Fleet Battles. Another good example of this was my recent attempt to play Battlewagon.
In the quest of authenticity that game requires rolling on like four different tables (which were of course on different pages in the rulebook, and not on their own sheet). It was ridiculous and I gave up halfway through.

Terrible Production: Four years ago, perhaps even two years ago, this would not have been an issue for me. I can live with paper maps and boring(ish) counters, but assuming that players can live with ugly components, terrible design decision, and obtuse layouts is something I have little patience for at this point. I have a secret wish to someday discover the "perfect" old war game at a thrift sale or garage sale someday, but honestly I think that production issues are going to make it hard to find one that truly engages me. A good example of this is Robots!
. I got this as part of the wargamer generosity thread, because the idea of creating robots to fight each other sounded fun. However, these robots are made by creating a stack of counters. This is ugly, boring, and it is a pain to move around on the small paper map. Fortunately most modern games do not have these issues, but the graphic design of most wargames lags far behind those of euro or ameritrash games.

Games I Can't Play: This one is not the fault of the game, it is my fault. However, I do not want to own wargames that I cannot play. A great example of this Columbia Games block games. I love those games. I think the system is great, and in a perfect world I would have them all. However, I do not because they would never get played. For instance, I used to have Athens & Sparta
, but I traded it because it was never going to get played.

What I Like
Ahistorical Games: I really like it when games capture the feel of history without being methodically tied to it. Card driven games are really good at this. For instance, I really enjoy Washington's War.
It has a strong historical flavor and feel, yet events do not necessarily happen when they did historically. I like that this gives the players a chance to re-write and create their own version of history.

REALLY ahistorical Games: Wargames are really tied to history, but honestly the games I like the most are games that are fictional. These come in a couple of forms. The first is science fiction games. I really, really love spaceship combat games. There is a part of me that just wanted to collect all of the spaceship combat games there are just so I can have them and explore them all. For instance, when you count the flight path games I have five of them as it is. I also like games like Star Fleet Marines and Ogre. I think the narrative is stronger in games with fictional settings, because I help create the narrative. The other type of games like this are ones that do not seek to simulate anything, but instead try to capture the feel of the conflict. An excellent example of this is Manoeuvre
. There is game captures the feel of the Napoleonic fighting, but it is clearly a game first and foremost that is not bound to history.

Scenarios and Customization: This is a big one for me. I do not want a meticulous recreation of a specific battle. I want a game box that allows me to fight multiple battles. Command and Colors captured this really well, as does Federation Commander. I love the idea of every time I sit down to play the game it is going to be different. More than that though, I like that these games give me the ability
create my own scenarios. I also like it when games allow me to customize my experience. A simple and small game I will be holding on to is Ram Speed. This game begins with players creating their ships, and it is a lot of fun to decide what is going to be on my ship

Small Counter Count: Specifically, I want what a counter represents to be small. I mentioned I do not like when a single counter represents a battalion. This is why I like naval games, because one counter being one ship makes sense. This can get down to the man. I like how in Frontline: D-Day
the cards do not represent just individual soldiers, they represent specific soldiers with names. When it is a smaller scale it makes it much easier to get caught up in the story.

Plays Well Solo:
It does not have to be a pure solo game. I am not opposed to playing both sides, but the more traditional of a wargame the game in question is the less likely my wife will play it. That means I like it when games play well on my own.

What Next?
I am going to be reducing the number of wargames I have. Two games I have not yet played that I will keep until I play them are Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 and Ambush!. I have high hopes for these, especially Ambush.


In a lot of ways my perfect wargame has already been created in Memoir '44. Hold the Line is similar and I like it a lot as well. We also have Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. One of the huge advantages of these games is that my wife will play them with me. Part of me is tempted to just go all in and look into getting Commands & Colors: Ancients as well as Hold the Line: Frederick's War. However, if we have so many games so similar, I am not sure they will all get played.

I think I am pretty close to saying I have all of the wargames I need. What do you think? Based off of all this, is there anything you think I am missing?
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Thu May 12, 2016 4:25 am
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Geekway to the West Math Trade Results

sean johnson
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As has been the case with similar posts in the past, this is mainly for the benefit of my wife. However, it is a public post because we are interest in the thoughts and comments that others have about the games we are receiving.

One of our goals with math trades is to give more than we get, and we did manage to do that this time.

We are trading BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia and Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game for Koryŏ

Koryo is by the same people who made GOSU and it is a card game that is full on interesting choices. The main mechanisms are set collection (a plus for you) and simultaneous action selection (a plus for me). We tend to like card games of this nature, so I am feeling good about this one.

We are trading Planes and Rolling America for Salmon Run

These are both games that you wanted, but did not work for us. Since Planes and Rolling America were "your games", I had a smaller trade list for these games to get a game that I really thought you would like. That netted us Solomon Run. This is a deck building/racing game hybrid about fish going up the river to the spawning grounds. I think this sounds like a very neat combination.

We are trading Wyatt Earp and BrewMaster: The Craft Beer Game for Penny Arcade: Paint The Line ECG – Red Tide.

Paint the Line is a game that I have wanted a long time. I have almost bought it from a local game store on multiple occasions. This is a card game about playing ping-pong based off of Penny Arcade

We are trading a lot of Dice Masters excess for Moonbase Alpha

Since we were unable to sell these bags of dice and cards, I was not terribly picky about trading them. I figured trying any new game that sounded interesting was better than holding on to things we do not need or will not use. This is a game I think I had on a birthday wishlist at one point. It is a two player area control game, where lunar companies are trying to cause enough damage to drive down competitor stock prices.

We are trading China Rails for Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game

I sort of made a mistake here. I did not pay close enough attention, and when I added this to the trade list I thought it was actually Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game. The game we are actually getting is still a Flying Frog game. This game uses the same base system as Last Night on Earth only it is Carnies vs. Martians. It can actually be intermixed with Last Night on Earth, so at Zombie day this year we will have a bearded lady and a dancing bear fighting zombies.

We are trading Village for Race to Adventure: The Spirit of the Century Exploration Game

Of all the trades we are making this is probably the one I am most excited about. I was really, really close to backing Race to Adventure on kickstarter. It is from the same company as Zeppelin Attack! and it is set in the same pulp adventure universe. As the title implies this is a race game.

We are trading Ticket to Ride: Märklin for Star Wars: Armada

Yes, those are miniatures in the picture. Yes this game has measurements and yes facing matters. However, this is a capital ship Star Wars game. This is a game I must play. I was honestly surprised we ended up with this. My thought is between now and Gen Con I will play this game. If I love it (as in it is one of my favorite games) then it was meant to be, if not then it should not a problem flipping this and trading it at Gen Con.

Of the items we listed we traded half of them. Of the ones we did not trade, only one even had people add them to a want list. This means that we have a handful of games that might be a bit hard to trade, so we will probably be dropping off several items at the Gen Con consignment store this year.
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Mon May 9, 2016 4:36 pm
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Baseball Highlights: 2045 (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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I played this game for the first time in February of this year, and as soon as I played the game I instantly thought it would be a game my wife would love. The game was not readily available then, but we were finally able to get the Super Deluxe Edition. So now that my wife played the game did this turn out to being a home run or does the game strike out?

Game Overview
This is a card game with deck building aspects that seeks to simulate a futuristic baseball season (baseball with robots!). There are several variations on how the game can be played, but I will be summarizing the standard two player game.

Both players have a starter deck for their team. The vast majority of the game consists of the "mini-game". This is where players put their teams up against each other. Each player gets six cards. Each card has two potential elements. There is an immediate effect that will take place the moment the card is played. Many of these effects are defensive, but some are things like stealing bases. Many cards also threaten hits. This game has an unique flow that is easier to see than it is to explain.

The first player plays a card and the threats the card threatens (like say a double) is put on their player board at home. The next player will then play a card, their immediate effect might say "cancel one hit" which will remove the threatening batter. If the immediate effect did not remove the threatening hitter, then the batter will advance to the base. This goes back and forth until all cards are played, and the player with the most runs scored wins the game.

After a round of this, then players will be able to draft new cards for their team. Each card that is played during the mini-game has a monetary value, and the total of the cards played is how much players can spend. There are six star player out in the center to draft from. When a player recruits one of these players, they must send another player down to the minors. This means that players decks are always the same size.

This process is repeated so that players play three mini-games and have three draft rounds. The player that won the most matches will be the starting home team in the world series, which is a best of seven. In between these mini-games there will still be draft rounds. The player that wins the world series, wins the game.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: I think how much one likes this game is going to come down to how much they like the back and forth "mini-game". It is a bit of a misnomer, because the mini-game is really the game. This part of the game feels a bit like playing a hand in a traditional card game like Euchre or Hearts. I can see how this repetition could be off putting to some, but I find the baseball duel aspect of the game light but engaging. There is also a nice feeling of progression as the team gets stronger. I tend to like fantasy sports games, and this game continues that trend.

Her Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: I think my expectations were a little too high for this game. It was fun, but I still felt a little let down. This game has a nice baseball feel to it. I liked that I felt like I was playing baseball, but it was not bogged down in stats. I did think the game was a little boring, because it drug out to long. A few of our plays took the world series all the way to game seven, and that was ten rounds of doing the same thing. I also found it hard to figure out what the best card to draft between round would be.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 7.5
So this game was not quite a grand slam, but it still managed to close and end up in he win column. The one complaint we do have is how it is sold. We got he Super Deluxe edition because that is what was available, but we would have been fine with just getting half the stuff in the box for half the price.
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Mon May 9, 2016 4:46 am
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The Purge: Assault on Galactus Prime

sean johnson
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We have too many games. There are some games that sit on the shelf unplayed for a while, sometimes years. We plan on playing every game we have not played for two years or more, and that one play will determine if the game stays or if it gets purged to make room for something else.

We got this game in 2012 because it appealed to me on multiple levels. At that point we, like many people, were really looking for Deckbuilding 2.0. It looked like this game did something unique with the deckbuilding mechanism that Dominion had pioneered. Second, this game has a very much inspired by Star Wars theme which was a plus. Finally, I did find the fact that this game is very much under the radar appealing. Getting it felt a bit like potentially finding a hidden gem. This game spent most of the time we had it being hidden though, with only a handful of plays. The last time we played it was November of 2013. So does this game stay on target or does it have a problem here?

Brief Game Overview
This is a 2 player deck building game where players are attempting to be the first faction to blow up the Super Ion Cannon (which in on way is related to a Death Star). Standard deck building mechanics are present. Players have one action and one buy. There are stacks of cards that can be bought from. In addition to the cards, there are three permanent buy options. One allows for the potential recruitment of fighters, the other for upgrades to the ships, and the final for fuel (needed to prevent the opponent attack runs).

Not all of the possible recruits will qualify so going for pilots is always a risk, and some have special abilities. When a player has four fighters, an attack run starts. The board is divided up into areas, and the opponent can spend fuel to attempt to shoot down fighters. Frantic dice rolls are made to make these shots.

If a ship makes it to the end of the gauntlet they get to take a shot. Two dice are rolled and they must be under a target number. This number starts at 4 and can be upgrade to 8. If the attack fails, the game continues and if it succeeds that player wins.

What We Previously Thought
We both thought that making an attack run was an exciting part of the game. After a few plays I thought the game had a serious lack of variety and the component quality really bothered my wife.

Verdict
My Verdict: Purge
My Rationale: I think this game does have some good ideas, but it is really just too limiting. The deck building portion of this game does not stray far from the Dominion formula and it suffers because of it. By the halfway point the deck building portion is in the way of the attack run portion. Because the card selection is so limited, this game even with a 2 1/2 year break between plays feels played out.

Her Verdict: Purge
Her Rationale: Rolling the dice and moving the ships is fun, but the deck building is kind of boring and feels more pointless than it should be. The components are also very problematic. The cards and the board are all flimsy cardstock. Even if I wanted to play this game a lot, I do not think it would physically survive.

Final Verdict
Purge


If we did not force ourselves to pull this game off the shelf, then it would probably sit there for a long time. That is the truth, and for that reason alone we should not keep it. We both think this game has a decent concept and some neat ideas but it just does not quite come together. This game was a bit rare to begin with. It is out of print and "retired" so hopefully a collector of obscure games will snatch it up from us.
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Tue May 3, 2016 3:41 am
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End of the Month Recap

sean johnson
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My gameplays this month were really lifted up by celebrating TableTop Day twice. We had a local even on the 23rd, because I was going to be going away for the weekend with my wife on the 30th. We then spent part of that weekend away playing some games at TableTop Day events, where my wife even won promo cards for Machi Koro

Game Play Statistics


Most Played Game: Warhammer: Invasion and Coup (both five plays)
Highest Rated Game This Month: Millennium Blades (combined Rating of 9)
Games Left Unplayed: 6
We are getting our unplayed pile smaller. It it really down to games that have long play times and/or intimidating rule books. However, with the Geekway to the West we will be getting an influx of new games.

State of the Collection
New Games Added: 2
Games Removed: 0
Total Number of Games: 215
This month we bought both Millennium Blades and Baseball Highlights. We keep inching upwards. Again with a pending math trade this number will probably go down some as we will be trying to trade more than we get.

10x10 Challenge
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 Completed!
Warhammer: InvasionCompleted!
Ticket to Ride Completed!
Fleet
Tides of Time
Viceroy
Deus
Glory to Rome
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Roll for the Galaxy
Bruges
We are behind where we were last year on this, but we are still ahead of the curve. Half of our games are past the halfway point. We should easily finish this but it may not be as early as it was last year.
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Mon May 2, 2016 3:36 am
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