The Elemeeple on Solo Gaming

A blog and YouTube channel about solo boardgames: reviews, playthroughs, and the occasional rant.

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Daily: Scoville's got me down, Viticulture has my back

Ava Jarvis
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Topics: Scoville’s got me down, but Viticulture’s got my back.

Viticulture Automa deck simulator: http://viticulture.noesia.net/Automa.html

Tuscany Mamas & Papas simulator: http://viticulture.noesia.net/MamasPapas.html

Tuscany Automa rules: page 20 of http://stonemaiergames.com/rules-2/
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Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:22 am
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Onirim 2nd Edition Review

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Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:03 am
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YouTube Channel Trailer

Ava Jarvis
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So I've made a new channel trailer for my YouTube channel, Solo Boarding. Hope you enjoy it!

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Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:27 pm
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Wearing the bloom off the apple: Descent 2e and Delvendeep

Ava Jarvis
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I think I'm getting old. I remember the deep dungeon delves of fighting enormous varieties of monsters of yore, in the early days of the Descent franchise, e.g. First Edition. It was simple. It was long. It was full of loot. Time disappeared like it was nothing, and games might take hours, but they felt like minutes. You had all sorts of ways to kill monsters, and then would get more. You chucked all sorts of multi-colored dice, all the meanwhile the Overlord cackled with glee.

Descent 2nd Edition with the DelvenDeep fan expansion captures all of that in a pure co-op mode. The monster activation system is driven by RedJak’s Automated Overlord, v2 or v3, your choice, but having played both, I would recommend you go with v3. V3 is not so much harder as much as more cohesive, with monsters acting more intelligently, especially when the party splits up, and is anyways less to print and assemble.

And it captured it so well. I was playing four heroes and it was all wonderful at first. It brought back those days of yore. Delvendeep is a faithful reproduction, in just about every way, of those goblin-infested expeditions that ended up in a Crypt Dragon's lair.

But I am a different gamer now. And eventually the game session wore at me.

Play just took too long now. I was noticing more and more that even if there were different varieties of monsters appearing, and different events landing all around us, and so on… it wasn’t satisfying.

I got a small dice tower because I was tired of chucking dice (something I never thought I would say!). But even the novelty of watching dice rattle on down through the clear plastic wore off.

Now, dice rolling in itself is not bad. I think it’s more that I was making the same array of choices each time that was tiring. I spent brain power making surges go here and there, but in the end, I was repeating those motions continuously, even against different foes.

And the dungeon just went on and on and on. I left it on the table, and sat down to write this and wonder what went wrong.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with DelvenDeep and the RedJak Automated Overlord. There is something, though, different in me.

It’s probably a good thing I’m going to invest in Darkest Night. I watched some gameplay and review videos and it just felt right to me. Yes, there isn’t a huge changing map. Yes, you get to roll… plain six-siders. Yay. But… it just feels like Darkest Night condenses a lot of the fiddliness of Descent and distills it.

I’m now thinking about Return of the Heroes. I want to play it again. It wasn’t so fiddly as Descent, and there was a huge map, and it was pretty. Also you can play a centaur.

But let’s return to Descent, and in particular 2nd edition. I can now see why the Descent 2e quests are designed the way they are, and why campaigns exist. Descent 2e quests tend to be smaller chunks with pre-set dungeons, but that is no bad thing. (It’s no worse and no better than wending, generating dungeons.)

So I’m going to try once more… in a weekend or so… maybe even a month or more later, with the RedJak Automated Overlord v3. Try to see where it goes. But I strongly suspect that the same mechanics are going to get to me—it wasn't DelvenDeep or the Automated Overlord that got to me. It was Descent itself.

I really thought I wanted a deep delving experience, full of good ol’ bashing monsters over the head. But I’m a different gamer now. It’s not that I grew, or that such desires or designs are childish—it’s just that I’m different now.
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Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:15 am
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New Blog for "A Long Expected Party"

Ava Jarvis
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To keep from cluttering up the Solo Boarding blog, I've made a new one specifically for "A Long Expected Party" and possibly other relaxingly themed quests.

A Long Expected Party: LotR:TCG Pre-Saga Adventures
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Tue Jan 6, 2015 10:13 am
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Brainstorming: A Long Expected Party, Part 2: A LotR:TCG Pre-Saga Expansion

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Campaign Card wrote:

You are playing the prequel to the Lord of the Rings saga.

Terminology renamings:

Threat -> Dalliance
Willpower -> Willpower
Attack -> Diplomacy
Defense -> Conviction
Hit Points -> Patience


You will need to remain focused on your quest! When your Dalliance reaches 50, you are elminated from the game.

Your willpower will help you progress your quest and get through locations, as usual.

Your diplomacy will help in convincing persons to help you or to leave you alone.

Your defense will protect your patience from being tried by persons you encounter. When a character's patience is reduced to 0, they leave your party in a huff.

The goal of this quest is to arrive at Bilbo's party with a number of objectives for victory points, or at the least, to arrive at all.
Also, spreadsheet in progress here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1byx83CxZ_ITYwMLavU7P...
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Mon Jan 5, 2015 8:41 am
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Brainstorming "A Long Expected Party", Part 1: A Lord of the Rings: The Card Game Pre-Saga Expansion

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Sometimes I really get tired of all the stress inherent in the adventures of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Can't we have a relaxing quest once in a very long while?

Let us consider the Middle-earth CCG. There was an actual official scenario where you collected party baubles and fireworks for Bilbo Baggins' birthday party. Yes. I kid you not.

A Long Expected Party: MECCG Sites and Scenarios

Alas, long out of print and over 100 dollars, no one is likely to see this scenario today. Or the ME:CCG pre-constructed decks, for that matter (there were five wizard ones, one for each of the five).

But these days there is LotR:TCG and I thought to myself: well, why not prepare the equivalent of A Long Expected Party for that game?

Now, the basics of the game still exist in this would-be scenario. You still got your threat trackers, only this time they have a new meaning: dalliance trackers. The higher your dalliance, the harder it is for you to not get distracted by the many activities of the Shire as the partying mood starts to set in. A dalliance of 50 means that you've forgotten about the party entirely, and Bilbo will be very disappointed.

Not all dalliance is positive, of course. You've got your intriguing pipeweed smoke ring contests, and your barrels of elvish ale being imported for the party, and the cakes and sweets, for the better locations and "distracting members of society". And then you have the Sackville-Bagginses, who raise your ire, deplete resources as your patience thins, and still increase your dalliance (possibly).

Objective cards exist, of course. Certain ones unlock with each quest stage. (The quest stages represent different shops and folks you must visit to get the party supplies! Obtain ale from the elves, get pipeweed from the local distributers, and the hardest stage, getting fireworks!) Money? Pah. Barter is the name of the game here. Healing herbs? Lembas? Belts and bows and even the Black Arrow? A song here and there might help as well. Trade ones in play away to obtain objectives.

Use your willpower to power through distracting locations and persons. Use your strength of personality to overcome people with less-than-honest intentions, and your patience to defend their wiles and angering actions. Shadow cards may cause havoc in your party and entreat allies to abandon the cause and wander off.

Ah me. I just want to take some scratchpad somewhere and start designing this set of quests and encounter cards and objectives. I'm pretty sure Distinguished Guests will be objectives as well (optional ones). Who wouldn't go to a party with Gildor Inglorien playing his lute? What if Beorn provided honey cakes in person?

Oh this will be fun. I just don't know that I can design a balanced quest/encounter deck. Of course, I don't know that balance really matters.

Ah, and scoring. Allies who stay with you join the party, as do Distinguished Guest objectives, and they will subtract from your ending dalliance values.

And then there is a party.

And Bilbo does his disappearing act.

And oh dear, looks like you're off on with The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Black Riders.
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Mon Jan 5, 2015 7:48 am
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Episode 2: The Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game: Thoughts and Review

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Thu Jan 1, 2015 2:00 pm
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Let's Play: The Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game, Part 3: It Ends in Fire

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It ends in fire.

To follow in a few days:

- Post-mortem on what I did wrong
- Previous stories I weaved with the Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game
- How you can reduce Early Doctor Death Syndrome
- Why I still love this game
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Thu Jan 1, 2015 4:50 am
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Let's Play: The Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game, Part 2

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Things are heating up for the Ninth Doctor and his allies! And yes, I do mean allies, plural. He’ll probably need every one of them to face the dark times ahead.

Part 1: Let's Play: The Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game, Part 1
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Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:28 pm
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