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Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
Imagine if you will, little old me, standing on the plush, coral, memory foam mat in front of the sink in order to make the endless daily dishes task less taxing, participating in said task with his new dish soap claiming to be a 'New Zealand Escape,' staring off into space, or more accurately, the splash wall behind the sink. Through the scents of soapy New Zealand, he realizes that he's taken a lovely, relaxing month away from Devery Day, and he should get back into the fold. Naturally, after his recent travels to Vermont for his sister's wedding, the preceding month seeing more flight travel than the rest of the year (it felt that way, at least), and his being a generally awful human being, he was a bit tired of continuing a weekly prattle, and thus here we are.
I've always taken dish time as a time for reflection. When Buffy the Vampire Slayer had that episode however many years off where Buffy, overwhelmed with the everything that she's had to handle over the last year and cries in front of the sink, it only corroborated this feeling. Sinks are emotional places, my friends. New Zealand wants you to know that it, too, is a reflective space, very likely scented like aqua green.
So greetings, everyone, for a wonderful 2018! Things will be even more flighty here, honestly, as my tiny epiphany during this sudsy New Zealand escape showed me the light of just knocking on the BGG doors when the mood strikes, which is at least monthly, possibly every two weeks or so if exciting things happen. With content, things will likely be more general, instead of occasional blow by blow plays, there will likely be stand out story moments, but overall we're probably looking at overall thoughts of a man and his games. Perhaps my feelings on certain things will change? I am flighty, as stated previously.
In short, I'm-a keep rambling at anyone who is interested, mostly about board games. I can't promise I won't drone on about video games, my cat, or things that excite me at the moment. I'm just so wild, it's impossible to keep me tamed. Rawr.
I've been logging (in my little black book, not so much on BGG, though Andrew certainly is) my plays, sort of participating in a 10x10 challenge this year. As these numbers increase, we shall see how much I hate or love things, a fascinating study in the mind of a Cultist of the New, as I think I must be due to my feverish desire to sometimes add a completely unnecessary game to the collection. I'm in a cult. The first step is admission, and then you can play all day! One ticket allows an entire family!
Here we go! Take two!
Fog of Love Plays Thus Far (PTF) - 3
Fog of Love is a special game. It's ridiculous on one side of the coin and horribly dramatic on the other. From one game we have terrible stories of familial rape (not an actual card from what I've seen, but totally a story point for one of our earlier relationships) and abandoned babies and the internal growth and self realization of a young woman working in a parking booth out of high school to a full fledged woman with the power to understand her past and make a future. Another, we open with hilarity, passing Features to each other between gasping breaths punctuated by giggles skin to toddlers at their first playground.
Our friend V played with me in January, and he made a delightful comment that the game could be nothing but character creation and it would end with everyone in a happy mood, because it is easily and frequently ridiculous. The rest is just gravy, really. When he and I went through our relationship, we opened up with a rather macho elevator operator, and my character was drawn to her because of her crooked teeth, height, and fashionable accessories. Perhaps the attraction really came from her, seeing my dawdling criminal with his counterfeit watch, skulking in the corner of her elevator.
Obviously, this relationship would have little doubts of blossoming into true love! After being introduced at a party (that neither probably wanted to be a part of, based on their Traits later), likely by the host so he could get them away from said party because, as we soon learn, they are incapable of normal human behaviour, the two ran about for a solid two days straight, we think, learning about each other and jumping far more quickly than anyone should into anything else.
Case in point: By the end of their date day, the Criminal saw a man's watch in the park, stole it, and then gifted it to his lady Elevator Operator, and she turned around and asked that they go full monty and open up a join bank account, because it's the perfectly natural response on a first date with a known criminal. Of course, this just explodes with perfect ideas, and soon enough the two are living together, deciding against crashing parties, and having deep discussions about death and dying and how upsetting it is that Elevator Operator never got to know Criminal's best (now deceased) friend.
This was all in a single forty-eight hour period, we decided. Just...ridiculous. This is Fog of Love, folks, at its core. Romantic Comedy that can rather easily focus on either the Romance and Drama therein or the Comedy and all that might entail. It can be just about as dark and serious as your want or light and airy as you feel. The narrative that weaves about while you play can go many places and certain Scenes you have in your hand either immediately want to be played or just scream to be saved for a more hilarious story point later down the line.
Continuing the mini tale of Criminal and Elevator Operator, I just had to go completely against my character's Traits when I pulled the Singing in Public Scene, because the way the date was going, it was late at night, we were at a public park in the city, walking close together after deciding party crashing wasn't on our to-do list. It felt almost too natural for him to take his humming to the next level and declare his love for this woman (that he has known for all of eight hours by this point, maybe) through song on the fountain in the square. What cemented these two as a true pair? She, of course, joined in with a harmony and they both laughed and blushed their way into their next adventure, which was probably something stupid like more stealing or major life choices such as visiting IKEA. At midnight. Because Fog of Love has no concept of time, and that's why it's great.
Will we keep playing Fog of Love? I certainly flipping hope so.
Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game PTF - 1
Kilforth is an interesting game in our collection. While beautiful and easy to actually play once you get started and really enter the flow, the end result is often long and not astonishingly different from other fantastical adventure games we have. The darker themes are much appreciated (I am a devotee of grimdark fantasy sometimes, and horror has always been my prime genre in writing, not that this game is particularly horrific at all) and I would dive into this world if I could, even if it would certainly lead to my death in minutes flat. However, when we are in an adventurous mood, Kilforth isn't the first game on our tongues.
We shall see how this shapes out as the year(s) progress(es), as I hope to play more, as I hope for all my children on the shelf. I want to love them all, but there's only so much time and energy we can supply before certain measures need to be taken, and that Shame Hole is an endless maw of pain and misery. Not that Kilforth would ever enter the Shame Hole. It would probably drop only so far as the Secondary Closet because I not only resonate with it thematically, but visually and mostly mechanically, and supporting a fellow BGG-er's board game dream is just such a light, tingly feeling that I'd hate to poo poo on, especially when I don't mean to.
One other thing that leads to my horror and is beyond the scope of any game is where we live. For some reason, every since moving to Illinois and living higher up than ever before and with much more direct sun and all that jazz, cards and cardboard components just love to warp immediately and often. A game that is nothing but cards is a true terror to me, just in case things warp too far south and I can only cry as I wait for things to normalize. Again. This problem shall persist for the remainder of this blog, by the way. It's awful. Nothing thus far has warped as badly as Covert, which is still hilariously out of whack with every single pile of cards warped every which way. It's part of the charm now!
Gloom of Kilforth: a good, solid game that may or may not offer enough to keep it on the main galley. We shall see as the plays progress.
Gloomhaven PTF - 5
Speaking of adventure, I guess!
This game is tied for the lead with one other this month. Take a guess, based on our history of play. Do it. It's cool. If you guessed Sentinels, you were spot on. Congratulations!
So, Gloomhaven has a way with itself of making us want to play further, even as we forget almost every story related bit as we 'pack it away'. I put that in quotes because as of right now, the only things in the box proper that we actually need access to are the character boxes when we level up and the items and side quests we have yet to unlock. We have a little plastic cash drawer that has all the bobs and bits just right on the table, with the next quests monsters stacked on top with our characters and their decks and items, a plastic organizer housing the monster standees with the tiles of our future adventure on top, plus the manuals.
Yes, a quarter of our table is all Gloomhaven all the time.
And we've plenty of time left with it, so it seems! From what little I can recall, it's looking like we could be two thirds of the way to what I would have to assume is the Final Boss. Long, long ago, we had a mission (I fully believe Valestra was still around when we unlocked it) that I was pretty confident was the main story, so we both began the endless conquest of side quests, as one does when playing an RPG. Digital. I don't know much about tabletop. I wish, though. Who wants to RP together? I'm averse to leaving the house once I get in, though, which is probably why I'm a recluse, all in.
Anyway, we broke out on our own last year and have yet to go back and deal with what I still think is a pivotal point in the story, whatever that was. It isn't that the story is at all faulty, but my memory and our sporadic play culminate into me remembering nothing about anything, all the time. Have I mentioned how amazed I am that I can somehow memorize full scripts but not my own name? Yeah, it scares me too.
What keeps us playing and excited, I think, stems from two things:
1. The tiny character stories that build up over time as we play. While
not at all part of the narrative, our little backstories that build
up really keep these characters a part of my life and mind. I'll
likely always remember Hervey, as short lived as his adventures were,
and when we get back to Gloomhaven with our current party, I often
wonder how he's doing with his dreams being realized elsewhere. The
recent dual pairing of Almsthrya and Catharsys being so perfectly
interwoven in their Personal Goals and races was just too perfect to
pass, and being able to have them both retire at the same time still
leaves me aflutter, because I know it's what they both wanted. They
adventure together now, as one, not just for the sake of it, like the
other members of our group.
2. The promise of more. Even though it seems like we might be wrapping
up storylines here and there, the box still holds a ton of secrets.
We want to see those, and the only way to do so is to keep playing.
This would be our first foray into a game with any sort of Legacy
component, and just like Pokemon from my youth, there's a definite
addictive quality of searching for the next set of unknowns. Not the
Pokemon Unknown. They suck. There's a strange weight on the back of
my mind, in fact, reminding me that there will be things unseen when
we do eventually wrap things up. I don't think we could possibly
retire enough to get to all the characters and I certainly can't see
how it's at all possible to make it to Prosperity 9 with just the two
of us. Still, with just about every session gifting us something
special at least, it's a sure fire way to keep me watering for more
often. Of course, having a stable base is the most important, and
simply playing Gloomhaven is most often a joy.
Will we complete Gloomhaven? Absolutely. Not in the modern video game sense of literally seeing everything and getting one hundred percent of the achievements or anything silly, but we will see it to the end, and it will be both gloriously exciting and quite saddening. When we choose to put Gloomhaven on a shelf for the first (and probably last) time, it will be a moment of great honor. Hell, the board is already hanging on our wall! I have a small sheaf of retired character pages and a three ring binder with the store and stickers and...I have a problem.
We have a couple options for after Gloomhaven, too, which might stick into the same parts that make us so happy with it. Sword and Sorcery is in the Secondary Closet right now, waiting to get us both in, since I wasn't enthralled enough for solo play, though I feel it will lack the compelling narrative that pushes us forward (before we forget everything almost immediately) but expand on character creation, but not to the extent of, say World of Warcraft. Beyond that, we'll see Middara this year, which is one thing I'm excited about. Visually, a slightly counter culture anime is precisely what the house lacks, and I for one lament that. With more focused characters and story, we shall see how things shape out when we get started. I have my hopes, but if the game is focused on just the core four and I don't like their given personalities, I may have words. I very much enjoy giving the characters I play their own personality, rarely putting myself into games that promote narrative play as established critters. Again, we shall see!
Gloomhaven will probably end for us this year, and I, for one, have had a blast thus far, overall.
Sentinels of the Multiverse PTF - 5
Meet the other tied leader of the year, thus far! Yes, surprise to everyone, Sentinels of the Multiverse is still a game we play often. Lately, it's been a hot commodity on the table, even! No complaints here, but Andrew has been fawning to play for almost an entire week!
Recently, we had exciting games against Kismet, Phase, and Tiamat, plus Akash and Apostate. I have more words.
With V here, we played those last two games, and they might have been as one would imagine. Apostate was a steady victory with him suddenly becoming a turd when he threw out his Obelisk and horrendously defended his Relics quickly and painfully with three (3!) Relic Demons before we somehow overcame his poo-i-ness.
Akash was a slightly more interesting beast, with V taking America's Cleverest Legacy for a spin, partially in order to destroy her from the inside out, as his Power can reveal a card from a deck to either play or destroy a card with a matching keyword. Did somebody say unique, plentiful keyword known only as Primeval Limb? Hilarity ensued. And then many, many tears. I think we were in Atlantis, so an environment with some targets, but not an insane amount, but Akash apparently caught wind of Legacy's plan and went out of her way to fight harder and dirtier as the game drew on, and my little stacks of HP could barely sustain anymore, what with me controlling Akash, Atlantis, AND Malichae, our Cauldron pocket monster trainer that has slightly more or less sustainable critters like Unity constantly fighting to not die. It was a lot, I suppose.
Still, we eventually won, and it was awesome. We often win with guests. We win much less often without, as I think we like to punish ourselves too much at times.
In the week following, with Andrew's desire for Sentinels growing with his introduction to Fanatic, a group favourite and the only character whose pin I own and keep in the maple leaf by the door, we had a big, resounding success and a big, resounding loss.
Phase, the Cauldron villain that constantly hides behind Obstacles that need to be dealt with quickly and efficiently to be able to punch her in the face just a few times before she folds (HP of 30) proved much less capable of defending herself this time around! We somehow lucked into her not playing too many extra cards and were able to often crash through her Obstacles with Fanny left over to punch her in the face. And, with a lovely top off, we all got to contribute in the final turn to put her down. Family.
Kismet proved a fatal combo with Mars. Well, Mars plus the seemingly inability to destroy Ongoings. It was not long before Kismet was able to toss around damage in the high digits of 8 or 9 regularly with her Jinxes and THREE DAMNED VILLAINOUS WEAPONRY. This hurt. Mars is a giant red butt, smooshing your face and threatening to fart noxious gasses every two minutes. Anway, Kismet slammed us down and barely asked for our names.
I'd also touch on our most recent foray, against Hydra Tiamat. Up to six regenerating heads with just 15 HP each, but our fatal flaw of not reading the backs of the villain cards led to our downfall as we focused one head out of existence because it had the worst passive on its villain card just to see that text not only remain, but get boosted with a passive villain party heal every turn. Needless to say, we soon found it difficult to keep multiple heads out of the fight at once in order for the resurrections to remain toothless. Still, through some magic (and dinosaurs, thanks to Insula Primalis), we stumbled into just two heads remaining, but our lack of ability to deal with both Tiamat AND the growing dinosaur menace led to our loss. Lady of the Wood was amazing before her sudden passing, Fanatic was amazing before two T-Rexes looked at her differently (thanks, Aegis!) and died twice in one turn (thanks, Aegis!) and I think four times overall (thanks, Mr Fixer!). It was kinda metal. I'd listen to Amberian Dawn while we played that fight.
Sentinels has much to offer us, as geeks and nerds. It's like a constant 'Who would win?' debate, but fun and with cards. And lore popping out the ears of all who attend. You're welcome. I've loved it since GenCon '11, and I should continue to love it through OblivAeon later this year. If this isn't one of the 10x10 by the end, I'd be so surprised I'd probably have to swear off gaming entirely.
I must mention, however, how Cauldron has worked to reinvigorate our game. Sentinels has more than enough options within official expansions, but it cannot hurt in the slightest to slam through dozens of extra decks just for spice. You might have noticed that every game we've played in January used at least one Cauldron deck, namely villain or hero. While they aren't the tightest decks in design or verbiage, most of the time everything makes sense. Starlight still seems to have a moderately easy set up into nigh invulnerability, healing herself while gifting extra powers plus her regular shenanigans, and a few villains leave question marks over my head at times, and the environments are often too player unfriendly to be of much use, but having the variety goes a long way on keeping Sentinels even closer to the table than it might otherwise have been.
You've a special place in my heart, Sentinels. And even being an official Demo Guy of you for a few years and events throughout our time together, I don't think I've introduced many people that didn't immediately buy into the sauce you're cooking. Kisses, hugs, and here's to a great finale in OblivAeon!
Mysterium PTF - 1
You know something that's incredibly fun? Playing the ghost in Mysterium. You're locked into (mostly) silence, dropping incredibly open ended pictures in front of other people and hope that they somehow draw the same inspirations you did from them in order to make the correct selections on People, Places, and Things, or in this particular case, Situations.
We had a round this past game where I threw cards at these guys with all the knowledge that there was no chance in all nine Hells of a success, only to see a clean sweep for all four characters. That was nice! Though, on the rare occasion I feel confident, it usually doesn't pan out, as the player(s) start going down an incredibly valid path of interpretation, often focusing on a piece of the card I hadn't even thought about. By the end, I'm fully on board with their reasoning!
The bits of Mysterium that still leave me cold and confused are the voting chits, which we didn't utilize last time anyway, nor do I know if they even take place in three player games when each investigator has two psychics to deal with. Beyond that, I find the time limit a bit silly. Obviously, the designers want a way for the game to end, but with such an open game experience like this, just arbitrarily concluding feels wasteful and almost a theft of the good time before. I don't think every group should win, but I do find the finale an important piece of the puzzle, even when it takes an extra turn to get there.
Is this an issue with myself only? Quite possibly. I might ruffle feathers upon insisting we go through a finale unjustly. It's one guess, every time, and it's often hilarious! I'd find it quite fun, indeed, to open the finale to just those psychics that made it through in time, keeping every psychic's potential answer as an option, even if they never finished, thus making the finale quite a bit more difficult if there could be clues pertaining to cards not yet gained by the psychics assuredly. In order to pull out a true victory, the remaining psychics would need to reach a consensus, potentially needing to finish up a losing psychic's vision. It could be fun!
Anyway, Mysterium is still one of those games I'm very happy to play, but in my current gaming climate, equally happy to not own.
Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle
So it might not be a secret that I enjoy the Exit brand escape boxes. Of all the escape rooms in a box I've played, it still remains the tops, mostly due to the altering ways the players are asked to look at everything included. Structurally, we're almost always looking for three digits or symbols in order to open a lock, but when you need to actively manipulate the pieces, often destroying them through your manhandling, it can get very tense in an excitingly fun way.
I really like scissors.
As a child, I would slice scissors open and closed by my ear because the sound was very pleasing.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition PTF - 1
With the three of us, we played through the last scenario left from Streets of Arkham, the museum something-or-other thingy. Y'know, the one that tasks you with keeping notes? Yeah, that one.
Let me just say, as far as expansions go, there are entirely too many tiles already, so the tile expansions from the first edition seem mostly pointless, but can be appreciated as ways to spice up existing scenarios. Beyond the Threshold is very take it or leave it, with one of the included scenarios fine, the other...less fine. But Streets...Streets has been pretty dang pleasing each time we've broken it out. I think the three included scenarios have been very enjoyable, possibly some of our favourite picks overall? Basically, Streets of Arkham feels like the first expansion that might actually be worth having, as it enhances what can be done, at least a tiny bit.
That said, we flubbed our way through this one. It was a hazard. What's worse, we definitely did it to ourselves. The game says to take notes, and it isn't wrong. The notes the app keeps are pretty gross, refusing to organize them in any way, so the notes you take yourself can actually help lead to a solution, even if you'll be taking none beyond what would automatically be taken anyway.
Through the way, we talked to a bunch of people, saw a bunch of other people make us laugh far more than would be deemed proper, and made one egregious error in our note taking that caused us to make a leap in logic that the game did not like very much, leading to our loss after...not too long, it felt, a time.
Now, the real kicker with Mansions scenarios is if we want to play them again after a loss (or a victory). This one? Absolutely. It focused much more on what I'd like the game to focus on. Instead of weapons and creatures to assault, there are more puzzles and as-close-as-it's-going-to-get investigation. Is it perfect? Far from it, but I left that presumption about Mansions long ago. It will never be a game about exploration and investigation. It's a crawl, and that is fine, so long as we all know and accept it. But this scenario makes me want to delve just a bit deeper! I'm curious, and with our logical fault, we need to prove ourselves successful, or the game will laugh at us, like the ape fart it certainly can be.
Onward and upward, methinks? I certainly hope things progress in a steady upward direction, at least. I want to love you, Mansions, and as it stands, I do like you. A good bit. More than a few things. Not too many, though. Don't get cocky.
Nuns on the Run PTF - 1
You know something else great? Nuns on the Run. For over half a decade, this monstrosity has kept us entertained, though the more I play, the more I feel it's not as worth it at lower counts. I verily miss the wild craziness of four or more novices running about, trying to sneak their way onto their wishes without the Nuns catching on, just to be put into dire straits when their cell neighbor coughs one too many times in the confessional, causing a terrifying domino effect of walking toward her prey, seeing you in the hallway, and marching angrily onto your face.
This game is easily a bearer of tears and laughs, really at any player count, but with more everything is just better! It's about the chaos and the careful plans going to poop because of unexpected moves by the Nuns or the fellow novices. I feel with intimate counts, the mistakes feel actively punishing instead of silly and irksome. More often than not, if a novice is caught without many extra novices to pull attention, she's pretty much out of the game. Any further action on her part could just erupt into the game end without a great chance of escape, and if she waits too long whilst caught, she'll never catch up anyway. Again, due to a lack of distractions possible from other scurrying girls.
Basically, over the years, Nuns on the Run begins to get too heavy and less silly at low counts, as decisions carry too much weight for such a light thematic experience. One thing I never want to be when playing Nuns is disgruntled, but it definitely can happen when there are very few players and something goes wrong, screwing everything right then and there, often putting the fork in things before a real gamut can be run.
We have clean runs and we have barren runs and we have messy runs, but I prefer to have all of the above split evenly amongst the novices instead of choosing one and ending the game as such.
I'll never not love you, Nuns, but you definitely have a shining asterisk by your player count! In my eyes, over the years, at least. Now, it's mostly reliving the joy of past year's play instead of actively enjoying the current play. Nostalgia for past regular board game nights? How romantic!
MBL Pocket Pro Tour PTF - 1
I'm not entirely sure if this was tested for more than two players. It's entirely possible I'd made errors in our recent play with three, but boy, was it a mess, from top to bottom. I'm on record saying how enjoyable this can be for a nice, tiny Millennium Blades experience, but I must now make special claim that that is strictly for two players. Any more, and you'll need to set aside the time to play the real thing, 'cause this will not cut it.
It tries to accommodate the very tiny deck by removing cards from your array between the two rounds, but that leaves...questions regarding special powers and the deck still isn't enough to keep things going. We ran out anyway. Somehow. At least it's fast, and I always approve of Arch Enemy rules keeping things even faster, as if one player goes off, the game can end within minutes!
Luckily, that is exactly what happened, as one player healed himself, the next heavily damaged his enemy, and the last tried for a power play and failed, because he was dead.
Again, I could and should have taken more than a cursory glance while playing, but having consistent and plentiful problems in a tiny little game isn't really worth it to me. Pro Tour will remain a two player only experience from now on.
You know something fast and incredibly enduring with three players? Dale of Merchants. It's adorable and fantastic. Look into for the animals' sake.
Hardback PTF - 1
We got presents! Actually, this is one of three or something KickStarter projects that arrived this month, and it's silly. I'm not at all complaining, because I really love presents and unboxing games is possibly the best present of all, but...well, no buts.
So, our history with Paperback is exclusively through iOS, and as far as digital board games, deck builders are the only ones that can really become a replacement for me. When you've a simple deck builder, I'd rather not, honestly, shuffle my deck twenty times or more. You can do the dirty work, computer. Thanks! Anywho, we've played some Paperback, and Hardback seemed a natural fit for us. It isn't not a fit, but I'm also not absolutely itching to keep at it either. I like words. Words like me. We like each other, mostly.
Hardback omits extra card draw as a common gift from purchased letters, instead opting for this Ink mechanic. Whenever you want, on or off your turn, you can spend an Ink to place the top card of your deck in front of you, topping it off with that little wooden ink well to tell the world that you MUST use that letter on your next turn or suffer the consequences of passing. There is also Ink Remover, which can obviously remove an Ink and let you discard that card without aggravation. It's an interesting solution, and in order to make the monies to really get to the finish line, it's imperative to utilize Ink in some manner, hopefully effectively.
By the by, there's a score board now, and once someone reaches 60, the round finishes out and a victor is declared. All fine, even preferable at times!
Plus, we have suits now, four of them. Coated as Genres, we've Horror, Romance, Adventure, and Mystery. Each carries a special effect or style, and you can combine them as you wish, but focusing on one or two is probably much easier, as the extra benefits are much more likely to go off when you play Genres with more of the same.
I played a mostly Mystery Horror deck, collecting Ink and Remover in order to make big plays, buying some less useful letters to play as Wilds (any card that wasn't Ink'd into play can be used face down as a Wild) and Mystery back up for supreme benefit. Sadly, I tended to Ink in terrible letters because my strategy backfired on me pretty hard at times, but that's what Horror's Remover is for, I suppose!
'Twas fun! Definitely had more...meat to it, which may or may not be a good thing to players. Going back to shuffling in a deck builder is always a sad time, because I don't like shuffling. I never have and probably never will. This is why Aeon's End isn't in the Secondary Closet. I needn't shuffle anything beyond the Villain deck segments! Yay.
We shall see if and when we pursue more of Hardback, as there is absolutely more for us to discover. Frankly, I think we both found more there than we had expected, leaving us just a little bit winded after all was said and done. We could play Paperback on the couch while doing other things, but Hardback calls for just a touch more effort to work out the benefits, and that's usually a good thing. We shall see!
New Aquisitions...and Demotions
Originally I was going to pop in the games that fell into our home, but now I'm too ashamed to bring to light the number of our collection still increasing when it needs to fall in half in order for real success to triumph. I should, however, in the future, make note of where games are in the hallowed halls of our home.
We have the Main Shelf, home to the games we play with some regularity and/or the games we'd like to play more often.
Secondary Closet is the recently cleared out coat closet, where the upper shelf is home to games that are a but more nuanced in play space that we really wouldn't play much if at all alone, but definitely have places on the table, or games that we enjoy, but just don't get around to for whatever reason, and we don't see that changing easily.
Finally, the Shame Room, at the end of the hall. This is often where the games we don't really want to see anymore reside. It's usually not a good place to be, but we do have some special goodies back there that just frustrated me years and years ago for reasons far beyond the game itself. Hi, Myth. how are you? Games here are often of the type that if they were to be rid of, no one would ask any questions.
What excites me this month? Well, stop me if you've grown bored of this already, but I'm terribly excited for both Sentinels of the Multiverse: OblivAeon and Middara. Sentinels is coming to an official close as far as the card game goes, and frankly, I'm none too thrilled with Tactics or the RPG enough to dredge up potential players and continue the journey, so I will soak up whatever lore I can after OblivAeon and be as happy as I can muster. Will I be a proud owner of the RPG Core book? Yeah, probably, though I have no intentions of ever playing it. I'm weird like that. There will indeed be pretty pictures and probably loads of text that will make me smile!
Middara has been an exciting ride throughout, and I'm happy to support Succubus Publishing on their sophomore effort into board games. It's big, it's ambitious, and it should be applauded in its attempt, even if everything isn't as we might hope. This is the game I'm pinning my hopes on after Gloomhaven, really. To keep a similar sort of feeling of something occupying a section of our table until we see it to the end!
We also, because we are horrible little nuggets of slime with no self control at all, swung right onto Runebound: Oaths and something blahblah when it was back in stock in the world, and I'm tickled to try it out. Eventually. Probably. Hopefully. I mean, I packed it all into the box. I just wish I didn't need to craft several decks every bloody time I booted up a game. It is just a minor nuisance I find oozing with mundanity, and I'm a whiny little brat, and shuffling makes me sad sometimes, and frankly, Runebound is something I want to just dive into, not sit around and fluff about for ten minutes before the wheels start rolling. I'm an adult! But really, I'm excited to try these boards out proper, see how they shake things up, plus the new scenarios built with cooperation in mind, I'd like to believe.
Things! Tidings! Future!
So...thanks! I should be saying good night, for now, but these were our January adventures! I'd like to continue in this style, updating once or twice a month, discounting any surprising urges I have. It could be an interesting study in my ever fluctuating feelings on games and gaming, seeing how things may change or develop over time, and if we can be cool enough to successfully complete an unofficial 10x10 challenge in a year. As far as I can tell, we'll have two easy clinches in Sentinels and Gloomhaven, but the rest is very much in the air.
Thanks you kindly, friends, and game on!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
So this is the final blog of the year. Fascinating, no? I did a thing! Jury is still out on what next year could hold for something like this. It's simultaneously some good fun to just gab on and on about our gaming escapades, but it can also be a major drag on the actual event with the note taking interruptions and post game dissection (which isn't even all that common, mostly for new games). We've prospects to focus on just a game at a time, talk about it to death, and keep a lazer eye instead of a hodge podge, possibly to keep us as gamers focused on certain titles! It has been most curious to see our play habits over a year! We are acknowledged Cultists of the New I guess, and with our grossly sized library, we tend to game around a lot, with a few gems gravitating toward the top of our selections.
Funny statistic: Our most played games of the year (Sentinels, Too Many Bones, Gloomhaven, not in that order) tower over most other games we played over the year. Sentinels and Gloomhaven are somewhere in the thirties or something crazy, with Too Many Bones entering the double digits and most other games lucky to hit two! Good times.
Anywho, do enjoy the turning of the year, because it's delightful. Most of the time. Winter has only recently decided to remind us that it is coming, even! We left for South Carolina and the snow decided to fall as soon as we were gone, so we could come back from comfortable chill to frozen car doors and scraper adventures. Thanks, Winter! We shall remember you fondly in summer. Maybe.
Ahem. Games. Well...yeah, technically two games are games. I mean, we did them just the past day and before we left, since gaming isn't an easy thing to fly with in my opinion.
Game the First: Fog of Love
Fog of Love is here! I originally supported this project as a way to smooth Andrew into more games, but that didn't entirely go to plan, and I am more than happy about that, because it meant playing games earlier in our relationship! Still, this little buddy can really set the tone for RPG like play, which still opens the doors for other such adventures in gaming. Sure, an RPG would indeed require more humans, and a damn fine GM, but those things allegedly exist, so the internet tells me.
Enter the Tutorial!
Here, we follow the short exploits of Geoff, the Intense, Workaholic, and Manipulative Wedding Planner. It all made perfect sense to me! He's the typical wedding planner, very much invested in every little detail as he should be, pushing the bride and groom into the options he feels is best while ensuring everyone is still seemingly happy. What could possibly go wrong when you're in a relationship with someone that makes a career out of getting people to go along with their ideas almost exclusively, all the while not having them realize they are being manipulated? Besides, his old-timey fashion sense, muscular physique, and seductive scent make all the boys pee their pants, I guess.
Thus entered Stewart, a Security Guard that is Sincere, Nurturing, and a Perfectionist. They might have been introduced to a mutual friend/client that was getting married, and typical of some straight men, they know two different gay people, obviously the two must be compatible and fall in love immediately. Thanks, Pete! Still, Geoff was not displeased with Stewart's Booming Voice, Nerdy Glasses that enhanced the size of his Bedroom Eyes. These things make sense for a security guard that cares about the welfare of the people.
A Sunday Morning Date. Here we are.
Things open well enough with both of them agreeing on a more standard date, with going out to a meal and talking of themselves. Possibly because some statistics say gay males are promiscuous, they somehow end up at Geoff's place, since the next Scene has Geoff serving Stewart breakfast in bed, though perhaps a touch finer than Stewart is used to, or desiring of.
This is often the Scene that plays out with these two. They just miss the mark, slightly, often gaining positive satisfaction, but not milking it for all it's worth. Still, the two seem happy enough, no? It's cute.
What keeps me interesting in Fog of Love is the simplicity of everything, basically all coming down to each turn playing a card which triggers a question or event, and then giving your in-character reaction to it, using pretty poker chips to answer multiple choice, or often if just one mate needs to answer, just saying it aloud. Needing to move your way through a relationship as a different human (though who knows what could happen with Paranormal Romance, am I right? Hubba hubba!) while navigating your needs and desires while also keeping a note of your partner's needs and desires, just to see how interesting or successful you can really make these two is a fascinating play. Thanks to Tutorial Land, I don't think it's particularly possible to cause serious drama and tears, but that is definitely for later...spoilers.
Things inevitably take a turn for the less pleasant when Geoff questions Stewart on a man he was with earlier in the day, which actually seems to fly off pretty much evenly, not destroying the poor boy's confidence. But then Geoff gets the disturbing idea of changing his partner. Changing someone is rarely a good find, but doing so this early in a relationship just sounds like disaster. So, being the Manipulative butt-fart he is, Geoff convinces Stewart to stop being so kind all the time, to everyone. It makes him look weak and inefficient. Thus, Stewart begins to slowly stop being Sincere and entering an era of his life where Insecurity (for a security guard, so rich) takes center stage. Thanks, Geoff. You've killed a good man's spirit.
So things go along in a similar manner, having naturally horrendous results with a trip to IKEA, some mild misfires with photos, and occasional heartfelt moments, like sharing childhood stories (of TRUTH, with Geoff admitting fault to something!) and admitting love for one another. Sweet.
Still, when the dust settled, we can all agree that Geoff is a bit of a turd. Ahem. They both decided to be Equal Partners (you have an ever decreasing number of Destinies to strive for, and ultimately pick from two at the end of the game), but completely due to Geoff manipulating Stewart into losing his sincerity, and coming up just one point short of a successful Equal Partners pairing, they both ended up in a relationship for the long haul, just shy of true satisfaction and happiness. So, I imagine they stay together for a long, long time, perhaps forever, never quite understanding why they aren't truly happy. Great. Thanks, game. Now I'm sad.
Damn it, Geoff. You could have both been happy little pandas!
We've returned from the Carolinas (well, really just the one, but still) and had another round! This time, we discovered that High School is still poop. Allegedly. Also, just a series of depressing events for two lovely ladies.
Enter Debbie! Her parents named her DeBORah, emphasis on the BOR, and children growing up called her DeBORING, making her swear to never go by Deborah again, choosing Debbie as her name exclusively. She went so far as to speak to teachers before the first class to ensure no accidental slips. Naturally she was Insecure, often styling her dirty-blonde hair around and over her face, but her very nature kept her from dreaming too far off the ground, keeping her Down to Earth. Still, she had inklings of the Powers That Be, giving her a Spiritual base on which she could rest in times of need. What attracted the soon-to-be-mentioned Victoria to our sweet, innocent Debbie, the Parking Attendant? Her Piercing Eyes (brimming with tears, you'll soon find out), dedication to Fashion (she takes the time in her job to read the monthly Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan magazines), and her Body Odor (I'm not so sure on that last one...maybe pheromones? Or she just has a scent about her...sure).
Victoria, a much harder worker, so it seems, as she took to law school after high school, becoming a full fledged Lawyer while they were apart at college (though Victoria here would indeed claim they never broke up after high school, but we'll get into that...maybe that's why she's such a hard ass?), using her innate distrust of the world to slam the law down on her client's enemies. A good gal. Sensual. Not a painter.
Things opened on a less than stellar note. Victoria (never Vickie...for reasons similar to Debbie) seemed to remember them being very much an item while they were away at different colleges, but Debbie insists that they split up, and it wasn't until the first reunion that things really took off and they became a real, legitimate couple. Still, they're together now, so it's all good, right?
I just want to say, I really made Debbie out to be a happy girl, bouncy and sweet, even if she did apparently smell a bit and just wanted reassurance that she was worth the skin she lived in. Fog of Love doesn't apparently want happy people, because happy people are less interesting. Here's the rest of the tale, in pieces:
After some basic getting to know you dates and surprises, the girls eventually end up back at Debbie's home turf, where many bad memories bubble back up to the surface. She has a bit of a crisis, breaking down where she stood while Victoria went out of her way to care for her in this time of need. What had happened before to make Debbie lose all of her Spiritualness and turn to a life of cold, Narrow Minded looming sadness? Well, we find out just a couple cards later that she had a baby with another person! Apparently, in order to sensibly link these cards, her story involves a family 'friend' or very bad uncle taking complete advantage of a young girl and impregnating her well before her body is entirely ready for it. As Debbie said, through tears that night, "I was a victim of rape. My baby was not." She wasn't entirely sure what fate her child had, but she knew it was adopted soon after birth into a loving home, somewhere far away. It's easy enough to see her slipping into a narrower world view when memories like that splash all over you when you return home.
Shortly thereafter, Victoria's childhood friend dies, showing the first real bits of vulnerability from good lawyer Victoria, and Debbie, just as Victoria before her, does all she can to make her comfortable, even if the kindest option loses satisfaction for both of us. True mystery here. This sudden break, however, causes a split in Victoria that just gets worse and worse. She comes home, stating she has troubles at work, and the solution is to just work harder. When she sees Debbie in the parking lot where she works, talking intimately with another girl, things go further south. Victoria confronts Debbie on this girl, and Debbie answers (truthfully) that it's a co-worker. Later, we discover that they were discussing the plans to repave the parking lot, which is naturally a large undertaking for their job. Victoria, however, doesn't let this go easily, and she uses her studious background in law to hunt and peck for any and all information, tossed over the edge when she finds a text message on Debbie's phone about a meeting the next day at 10.
Victoria worked herself into a stupor. Never again did she let little things slide, and work was always with her, whether it needed to be or not and with or without an actual case, since she made it her business to sleuth Debbie now. She wasn't happy. At all. Consistently, her satisfaction meter went down and down, and eventually she had to remove her final (and only, I have to think) ten piece from her card.
What makes this all even worse? The last card we played in our little love adventure was a Stupid Fight, probably still about that girl Debbie was talking to in the parking lot, about the repaving happening at 10 a.m. and the need to usher cars in and out for the coming days. Perhaps at the end of her rope, Victoria just ceased her arguments, falling down by the end of this escapade and saying 'You're right'. This, of course, lowered her satisfaction even further, and at this point, the game is over, dudes.
Somehow, we end up with a bit of a happy ending, though not really a shared one. Through all the strife and pain, Debbie was able to realize something about herself. Her happiness is an important thing, even if no one else thinks so. The only way for her to spread good cheer is through accepting and loving her own skin and everything within. She had achieved Self Realization.
Victoria, however, ended up with such an abysmal satisfaction rating (sub ten!) that there wasn't any way for her to achieve anything, really. She aimed for an Equal Partnership, and left with a hollow existence made up of work, work, and more work, much of it made by herself.
Fog of Love, folks. If you're going through intense emotional trauma, maybe you don't stay with your high school sweetheart.
Game the Second: Fallout
My husband is a fan of Fallout, the video game series. Naturally, upon this little guy seeing release, I kept a very loose eye on it, and eventually, after he downloaded a Fallout app on his iPad thingy, I decided to do a Bad Thing for another person, and secretly went out while GameStop was having a (yet another) sale on their non-video games and bought up a copy (possibly the only in Peoria) for a thieving price and felt really fine about it. Hiding it in the closet since that release, it was all of yesterday that we broke it out as a holiday surprise and played a game, the first time in a long time that we unboxed something and played it at the same time!
Naturally, we played the Commonwealth scenario, I as a Ghoul (lower HP total, but heals off of Radiation) and Andrew as the Brotherhood Outcast (Storm Trooper with defense). It was pleasant!
There sure were a lot of words, though. Eventually, we had four or so quests staged, and since they were all open to everyone at all times (an interesting choice), I found it difficult to actually remember what was what as quest chains branched off and into others, sometimes shooting two quests into the staging area at completely opposite ends of the spectrum for results. Soon enough, I opted to blindside myself to anything not related to the quest I started originally, just to keep my tiny bits of sanity intact, possibly due to keeping all the rules in my mind while we played.
I screwed up some rules. And I feel bad about that.
Firstly, I just didn't realize for whatever reason, that the starting shield on the board was an enemy, even though it is. For some reason, perhaps since it was on the first quest objective, I assumed it was a helpful reminder, a beacon on where to go. I got this idea from video games. Modern ones. I'm sorry.
As such, I totally and accidentally fast tracked my way through that first quest, standing right on an enemy while...trying to save them. Actually, I had question as to why I was going out of my way for these creatures while they actively opposed me and attempted to murder me at any and all times. Ghouls are weird, I guess? I mean, they start out Vilified, so maybe they are just used to doing good deeds while those benefiting try to stop them anyway.
Secondly, I neglected, occasionally, to not spawn enemies when one was (rarely) removed. This might have been a good thing really, as spaces on these tiles aren't very big, and with no limit to the number of stuff that can occupy a space, plus the incredible size of us, the enemy tokens, and everything else, it wasn't the best of times to discern what was where. Less enemies, I think two over the course of the game, was good, I feel.
Still, the structure, is very intriguing. I very much liked going through these quest chains, searching a library when called for to either toss a card directly into play for further exploration or shuffling in an encounter toward the top of a deck. Over the course of our play, I aimed mostly toward that initial quest, helping the Synths be freed and following the Red faction, thanks in no small part to my opening Agenda being allied toward them. Meanwhile, Andrew the Storm Trooper Brother met a little girl named Olivia and her trials of trying to have people accept her as a human girl, her sister lost in the woods and thus unavailable for proof, and that intriguing conclusion.
Having all tests and combats tied to the same three dice and resolved quickly and easily was also a boon to us. It was simple enough to get behind the multiple uses of the gear symbols and the use of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for rerolls, even if I still don't know what that stands for, even though the rulebook does tell me, as does my husband.
The game, as a first foray, was fun, oddly plodding with our mundane steps toward our individual goals as we explored the Wasteland, and a good kind of simple.
My biggest sad face comes from not allowing Andrew to see the Olivia quest to any real conclusion. Once he unearthed the facility he needed, he was bombarded with enemies (and the Brotherhood Outcast is unable to move more than one space per action, slowing him down tremendously through rough terrain if he doesn't drop a bottle cap to remove the restriction) and I walked some blueprints from one area to another in order to explode the Red faction's enemies and claim a victory for Red and myself. Again, thanks in no small part by both of my Agendas being Red aligned. Nuclear!
Still, it should be interesting to go out multiple times, since it would be very difficult to not end the game before seeing much of the offerings each scenario might give you, even if you weren't trying to. There are a couple snags about it, but with just a learning game under my belt I can't hold them against just yet. Combat can be brutal, and I went from full health to two in a single swing from an enemy due to not having any weapons or armour. In fact, getting the opportunity to buy anything seems uncommon, and doing both that AND having any caps with which to purchase seems...rare. Neither of us ever acquired anything but loot, and all the loot was for me, thanks to a quest finish and a lucky strike on an enemy after I died that first time. I'm sure a better understanding and smarter play could alleviate these to some degree.
Really, Fallout sort of feels like a less character build focused, more modern themed Runebound. The jury is still out if I find that a great thing or a thing that makes me want to play Runebound. I do so love character building.
Games! Travels! Stuff!
Yeah, we only have the two days back home before sloughing off to Vermont to see my sister get married. Lovely affair, yes, but it will be cold, snowy, and our short term goal of buying olive oil can only get us so far in that regard. Vermont is lovely, though, and I of course look forward to seeing the sister happy.
Beyond that, it's thinking about what to do with this thing come the new year. This little blog did indeed do its duty by making me write something at least more consistently, and if I can develop that habit further to write on a daily basis, I will be a happier boy. So...perhaps we shall see? Mysteries. I don't know anymore. Thus the mysteries.
Anyway, I'm going back to my first ever anniversary! What is one supposed to do with those?
Happy days and thanks for reading and joining us on this year of gaming adventure! It will be a curious thing to discover what next year holds for us and games and potentially blogs in the future! Sweet December, friends!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
So it’s been a time of packages, my dears, with KickStarter projects finishing up (thank goodness, because I need to make a full stop there, and have, so it’s quite nice seeing the finish line come closer to me as a bonus), Santas everywhere, and other typical Bad Things. I cannot deny that it is very fun to receive presents in the mail, because it undoubtedly is! Making an extra cardboard run to the recycling center here and then is not too much a price to pay to overcrowd the home with various tidbits and gaming.
From the BGG Secret Santa, we received the Beyond the Grave expansion from Arcadia Quest, which is terribly exciting, as it’s one of Andrew’s favourite games (and he was quite giddy to see it in our grubby hands) and I’ve been painting the heroes from the series over the past eleventy weeks. Now for more! Once I wrap up more of those, we might jump into our third campaign, in any of the four options we now have! Gah!
We also received, as an extra bonus, a scenario for Arkham Horror Card Game, in the Dunwich line, pushing us closer and closer to hopefully playing past the introduction. Heck, I’ve played all of once thus far, as Skids, on a visit to South Carolina, sans Andrew. Maybe we can play together, darling husband? It can be short! And expensive! But we now have a start!
Beyond that, One Deck Dungeon is continuing, Fog of Love is imminent, Norsaga and Heroes Wanted finished up nicely enough...it’s been a time, friends. A time of sin. I bathe in it.
We played games! And probably none of the above!
Game the First: Enchanters
Oh, yeah. This arrived, too. It was on my husband’s account, so I’m more likely to not notice when toys just suddenly show up! This is both a good and very bad thing. Oh my goodness. But we played it! And here we are.
I must say, and this might have something to do with our moods that evening, but Enchanters wasn’t as enchanting as when we had played the print and play however many moons ago. It’s fine, and though I wish we had more options for kingdom sets to play with, as every game will have at least two sets in common no matter what, the sparkle wasn’t quite there this time.
We chose the Goblins, Unicorns, Magic Lamp, and Wolf, and randomly played in the Cave of Fools. This town gave us a huge influx of money up front, regarding us with extra glory at the end if we remained rich. This did not happen, of course. Both of us at some point went completely broke, because we like pretty things and feel we deserve the best instead of picking a fight with a Dragon that could easily eat us for breakfast in mid afternoon.
One thing that bothers me about games in general, and this game is at fault here, too, is when they are so simple that they don’t feel it necessary to explain nitty gritty details within the rule book. Andrew was asking some very good questions while we played, mostly about what if scenarios and how certain cards should interact with others, but one sticking point was picking fights you couldn’t win. Yes, it shouldn’t be a common occurrence, but if one were to pick a fight, be unable to get enough combat to defeat it, would it be discarded still, giving players the option to basically hate draft a good monster away, or would it stay, strangely putting the game clock on hold? Or is it completely impossible to choose to fight if you cannot win? Mysteries, the lot of them. Unless answers are in the back, waiting to be ignored forever. The manual sections on pretty much everything give a sentence or two and just say ‘go for it, you moron; it’s all simple as pie.’
Anyway, we played, and though I made some wondrous errors on my purchases, early on adopting the idea of eating up wounds and then consuming the flesh of unicorns and ents to heal it back, all the while searching in vain for a weapon beyond the Crown I found on the first turn that could be worth some money either at the end or if I sold it. Weapons just never happened! I mean, they did, because they have to, but I only picked up a few over the course of the game, mostly at the end, when the ones I chose lost all usefulness because I’m silly like that. Why buy the cloak that gives you more money when you purchase enchantments when you know there are no more enchantments in the deck because the final monster wave is here? Because you’re me and don’t have the foresight to properly plan ahead like that, and low attack scores just means friendlier towns for everyone, right?
Andrew took a reverse approach from mine, going heavy on defense early, fighting only what he could afford to, and gobbling up weapons when he could, paying whatever the price (I’m a penny pincher and refuse to pay more than three gems for anything unless I need it to live) and thus racking up a decent score in attack and defense well before I met and eventually exceeded them. I think. At least offense, again, when it stopped mattering and all enemies had defensive scores at less than half my attack. I’m a genius with numbers.
The thing about the Cave of Fools that makes things a bit less pleasant is the lack of gems upon a rest. You can heal a single wound when you rest there, and for some coin you can hire a plethora of mercenaries (and I sure did! Thanks, Cave!), but unless you are playing with the Magic Lamp deck, money will be tight, and if you are reckless with your starting 25, it will be tight often. We, naturally, were reckless. A little. I felt almost frugal, really, but still ran out eventually, leading to both of us just passing or picking up the free card closest to town until someone ran into the genie that granted the wish of money to both of us. That kept Andrew flush, but I tried to amass enough coin to just make my Queen of Thieves worth more than zero points.
It worked! Well, Andrew’s early attack lead and money lead did give him an incredible display of monsters slain, but as he got more and more dangerous with his fight choices and had more and more of his defense covered up with attack and effects, he amassed an incredible amount of wounds (over ten!). I had managed to heal back to just a single wound, and though I had less of pretty much everything at the end of the game, I still took the victory, 36 to 25, after he discounted the severe reduction from his bleeding out. Whoops?
As far as quick two player events go, we have other, better options, but there is no denying that Enchanters is an easy game to toss on the table and burn through. Played sparingly enough, the lack of variety shouldn’t be too harsh a problem. The amount of towns is absurd, though. There’s just never a need to have so many when just one will ever see the table at a time, and I can’t imagine this being popular enough around the table to play three or four times at once.
Ooh! It also occurred to me that we are very clearly the Bad Guys in this game! The monsters, throughout the game, and even when they get right up to the town I had assumed we were protecting, just passively and calmly stand there, not hurting anyone. It’s only when we raise arms against them do they fight, clearly in self defense. The town is never in any danger, and we just run around murdering whatever we want, stealing enchantments and weaponry, just because we want to feel that power. All the while telling fun light jokes about our equipment!
It’s a game where you are the true monster, and the Dragons just wish to live in peace. Dark, man.
Game the Second: Incómodos Invitados
After however many times of seeing this banner display on BGG, I finally clicked on it when I saw a character that looked absurdly like the drag queen Disasterina. I love Disasterina, so I felt compelled to follow through this rabbit hole, and there I discovered that funding had been cancelled days prior, over a week before the scheduled deadline. Still, I read the page, found the Print and Play, and assembled it in the car while we drove to the dry cleaners to launder the suits we probably should have had laundered after we used them way back when with Grandpa’s funeral. Whoops, again.
Awkward Guests is like an enhanced version of Clue. Really. You have cards detailing parts of the case (a murder most foul) that you can share with the other investigators, and a sheet with each suspect, room, and weapon, used for tracking. The differences, however, are pretty fun! Unlike Clue, we have no board, just cards and the sheets. Thus, we as players are not suspects, but we can learn their stories, hear what they have to say about other guests, and learn from professionals wether certain places have been walked through that night by certain people, or what weapons were definitely not used in the crime scene due to lack of physical evidence (such as no sign of struggle, thus strangulation by rope not a likelihood). Every card tells the truth, with a possible exception of the murderer, but I really am not sure if the murderer has blatant lies in the deck or they just get implicated by others.
Plus, in the full game there are many different ways to arrange the giant deck of cards with all this information! With the PNP, we just have the one set up, and each arrangement of cards lead to just a single answer, thus playable once, really.
Fun! To play, it’s pretty simple, too. You start with six cards each, from the communal deck of clues, and are free to mark out what you know now to be true. On your turn, you can inquire about up to four subjects, whether they be suspects, rooms, weapons, or what have you. Each card tells you what it references, and since you can name four different reference items, you might as well go crazy with it, within reason. By the by, with more than two players, you can ask for two different reference points.
The twist here is that your opponent can choose whether they want to help you at all, and if they do, how much. If any of your inquired reference points are on the cards in his hand, he can lay any or all of them into an offering pile, telling your how much the pile is worth based on the number added together in the upper left. Then, if the inquirer wishes to make an exchange of information, they must give said opponent an equal or greater amount of information, all before seeing any of it. Cards range from 1 to 3 on the scale of usefulness, and it can get pretty spicy pretty fast if you let it. Of course, if no offer was made, or the offer was declined, the inquirer draws two cards from the top of the deck, gaining information either way.
After every play has had a chance to inquire, everyone secretly chooses to make an accusation or continue to investigate. Since each deck composition has only one solution, it can be dangerous to guess too early, as if you are wrong, you’re out. There might be an app now or in the future that allows you to make a guess without seeing the direct answer, allowing you to keep playing after failing miserably, but we didn’t look into it. As such, we both managed to fail. Spoiler alert.
If the investigation goes on, each player discards down to three cards, then draws back to six, keeping the information fresh and new all the time, while also letting players bury information they don’t want the other to know. If, however, the game goes long enough to run out of cards in the deck, the discard (which has been face down this whole time, obviously, to not spread information wantonly) is shuffled to form a new deck, permanently revealing for everyone three cards from the top.
Being able to hide information and also being forced to share equal chunks of information made this a very enjoyable run through a Clue-like game! Very early on, I received two cards that inferred one suspect guilty and then corroborated it in the same hand, and you better believe I buried what I could of my growing suspicions (which turned out to be very correct) just in case. Andrew, on the other hand, was able to surmise which weapons could have been used rather quickly, and eventually had a full chart of his preferred suspect’s movement throughout the mansion. By the way, you have a good blueprint of the house, telling you where people might have been during the murder, and the weapons available in each room, thus tracing their path to the crime scene tells you exactly which weapons they might have used.
Andrew took the first guess, was horribly wrong, and I opted to draw my three cards at the end of the round, just in case, getting some good information. Of course, I read far too much into one last piece of information, going far away from my previous answer (and correct one) and thus losing equally as hard. Yay! Seconds later, we realized the error, and I had the right answer staring me in the face. Whoops. Again.
I liked this one, and if it comes back to the world, I could see myself supporting it. And Disasterina is totally in it! I mean, look her up. You have to love her, too, right?
Game the Third: Gloomhaven
SPOILER WARNING to any and all interested viewers. We be playing Gloomhaven with all our stuffs out and about.
#93 Sunken Vessel
Y'know, sometimes you just want to hang out with your party, kill some stuff, loot some bodies, and just relax by the flayed corpse. While not quite so violent in practice ala Gloomhaven, this scenario was just that. And that is exactly what we needed to finally have a chance to get to know our newest characters! Oh, glorious comfort!
So this scenario was obviously quaint and pleasant and we were very happy to play through it. It might have been refreshing to have a nice simple kill all scenario after however long since doing so. There was a comfortable amount of enemies to deal with, thus things felt appropriate and moved at a delightfully acceptable pace. Good times!
All of that is to say, Ime was able to block a small corridor with his invisible body in order to prevent too much agony too quickly, and using his very potent discards before the end of the scenario, he was able to perform throughout the time on or around this vessel, and it was glorious.
Drae, even, got his favourite action thus far in his early life, dealing 13 damage in a single activation! With Ime's tiny little prodding poke beforehand, a Lurker went from basically full to dead in one go. Perfect!
Oh, and with these two, Wounds are flying everywhere, letting us wander around to pick up some much needed money while everything around us asks for bandages while they bleed out all over the place. More perfect!
I might always look fondly on this scenario as the moment where we had things let up for these two newblets and had the chance to really try and learn how to play our new characters. Much needed. So good. Very happy. Would recommend.
As an added bonus, once we got back to town with our heavier-than-ever pockets, Ime managed to keep a good tail on a mysterious cultist, which coincidentally led us into the next scenario we were going to play, later that very week.
Speaking of! Here we are again, #78 Sacrifice Pit.
This scenario is hard. Very hard. There is a strict timer that is the same with any number of players, and it doesn't feel as if the added enemies in three or four player parties would particularly find themselves slowed down at all, since all the actions could and should be aimed at removing this timer. Choices.
Regardless, this scenario is still very hard. After the forced timer, there are a lot of enemies all over the place, and they are not exactly weak. Yes, there are few specials running around, but the consistent damage was pretty much more than we could really handle. And, add in that Ime was becoming comfortable with being Invisible through his actions, battle deck, and items, Drae found himself on at least two rounds of being the sole focus of attack.
That was my fault. I'm sorry, Drae. One bad decision I made was opting to open a door just because I suddenly found myself Invisible for free and nothing else to do. That was a mistake, particularly because we began a clock that we couldn't react to right then, and Ime just invisibly watched as Cultists did their thing and Archers shot through his invisible body at his one and only friend behind him in the hallway. Woof.
Though it was a struggle, once Ime stopped being Invisible (it can actually be difficult to reappear, honestly, once the string of events falls into place) and took a good amount of heat off of Drae (who simply could not keep himself healthy enough to face tank all the enemies because THERE WERE A LOT), they were able to tag team a bit to clean up the space to at least prevent more stray summons. Still, Archers are strong little asshats, and it was really only a matter of time before one or both of us exhausted due to damage or time. Hell, Drae had lost two cards to damage just in that room, sitting low at three HP for practically the entire scenario from then on.
And then he died, about three steps away. Sad.
Once we cleared the clock, however, I made an executive decision, to cheat things just a tad. Looking at the scenario and how things were going, we didn't really see a victory in our future. Ime was going to exhaust before he could possibly eliminate all the enemies, an absolute fact. Sad. The final room held a number of enemies that was just insane, with one random type that seems to exist purely as a swift kick in the balls, adding endless Poison forever, just because.
Once we finished the prime objective here, I opted to remove all four of these enemies, just to give us a slim chance of victory. I claimed they had been sent back to their demonic realm from which they were summoned, since those in power had fallen and severed the ties to the physical realm. Seems reasonable to me, and victory still was not at all assured.
Alone, facing three violent targets and a weeping figure, naked and probably dusty from these floors, Ime had a choice and a chance. If you guessed that he went Invisible and slowly crept up to the enemies in the other room, you were right! The Cultist killed himself in an attempted summon, and Ime managed to beat down the Archer while she looked for a target. The Skeleton just tried to heal continually all the zero damage he took, and soon enough Ime had Darkness ready and an insta-kill in his hand, winning the scenario.
Barely. Even with our removal of four enemies, Ime was going to be forcibly exhausted at the start of the next round. Again, I don't really think we'd be able to finish that scenario without a cheat or a significant influx of money to be fully kitted out, or at least more than we are, which is practically naked. Still sad. But winners?
Anyway, we enjoyed the scenario as a scenario, but it sure is difficult beyond our means. I'll think on it in the future, probably, to see if we could have possibly pulled out a victory, but I really don't see one that wouldn't rely on lucky misses by the enemies. There were just too many of them and both of us are not exactly robust and capable of living for long if we are the prime focus of the enemy army.
Game the Fourth: Guardians' Chronicles
So after roughly three years of owning this box, I’ve finally played a game. Wee. To be fair, this is primarily the Clash of Heroes expansion, but I have a tendency to make everything as the base game, since it all spirals out from there anyway and makes the most sense to me personally.
I’m billing this as a sort of Arcadia Quest light(er). Now we have two teams, competing objectives, and just one group that can really make a difference at the end. Remove any campaign features, and that is pretty much what Guardians Chronicles has become. Added bonus for being able to use all the heroes supplied within a decade, unlike Arcadia, where we use six within a six game narrative, out of, like, a million. Still, the comparisons are there enough!
Of course, we don’t play the way the game so clearly wants and needs us to, choosing to play a cooperative scenario just to ease into the structure and play of the game. It was both a good and bad decision, and I am entirely unclear if my current beef with the game were due to the choice of scene (Terror Trio #1) and difficulty therein (easy), or the lack of focus on the mode itself, lacking in traps and obstacles and giving us nothing really to make up the lack of competition.
I picked up La Duchesse, my personal favourite from the very beginning, and I was sad when she was thrust into the back line and forgotten by Iello (another story, I suppose, but I’ve not looked fondly on them since) mostly because psychics (Visionary is still my favourite Sentinel, Jean Grey is a secret love of mine, etc) and nineties club scene. Andrew chose Fahrenheit, even if I cannot bring myself to forget his original name Ekinox, and call him such to this very moment.
The problem with this scenario in a cooperative setting is the complete lack of anything to do. As far as I can tell, anything unique to the tiles doesn’t actually happen unless you are playing the one vs many mode with Dr Skarov, leaving us with a bunch of movement before the game can begin. Not exactly exciting. We chose to activate the trap in our starting room, so at least we could do something before the one and only objective of this map.
We were shot at by lasers in every corner of the room every other turn, though since we are so amazing, we managed to disable most of them before they had a chance to hurt us, I think Ekinox getting hit once for a surprising no damage. Once the dust settled there, we could move on to the only thing this scene asks you to do: Defeat Iron Turtle. That’s all.
Sure, we’re supposed to rescue the hostages, but once Iron Turtle falls, there isn’t anything to stop us from just walking up to and releasing the hostages, however long that may or may not take, so basically pointless to actually walk through. Still, we did, all of the two turns or so that took. Yeah. We’re heroes.
Anyway, Iron Turtle is a pain in the butt, quite frankly. He had something like 9 Defense, 7 Attack, leaving us quite frequently taking damage from him (every time, actually) and very rarely being able to poke him back. Partially my fault for choosing a support hero in a scene that is nothing but a single fight, but still. The only way we actually took him out was through Ekinox’s weakness, which may or may not have been legal. His weakness says to deal one damage to every character on the tile, and as far as I could recall, we were all characters, even if we weren’t all heroes. Villains are people too, no?
So, the four wounds we needed to deal to Iron Turtle were mostly made up of Ekinox exploding in flames every so often and La Duchesse attempting to hemorrhage his brain and ignoring his self buffs. It worked, thought not as smoothly as we might have liked, as Ekinox was almost completely knocked out before the end, and I was just...sitting pretty, face tanking Iron Turtle the one to three times I was attacked every turn.
Chronicles uses a simple AI, completely reactive. If we attacked him in melee, he’d retaliate with a buffed attack dealing multiple wounds. From range, he’d teleport next to you and attack normally. If you end your turn on his tile, he’d teleport to you and hit you with extra oomph. Basic, and pretty deadly, really, if you play cooperatively without defensive boosts, since just two wounds will take you out, even if you need to take three damage before a wound is applied.
I actually like the damage mechanic in this game, as it gives you a decent sense of just how powerful we are as supers while showcasing our inherent weaknesses and severity of never withdrawing, no matter how bad it gets. Every attack (unless specified) if successful deals exactly one damage, and if at the end of the round you have damage counters on you equal to or greater than your health value, you discard as many tokens equal to your health value and take a Wound into your hand. Just like Powers and Weaknesses, Wounds are cards that must be played at some point before you will be able to draw back up all your spent cards. Needless to say, they aren’t generally positive. Honestly, I’m unsure what Ekinox’s Wound did, since we defeated Iron Turtle before it really mattered, though the little fire and ice guy was pretty bruised, with enough damage to take a further wound or two in the coming rounds. Thankfully, you are limited to drawing just a single wound a round, no matter how damaged you are, so thanks, game!
Regardless, whether through cheese or not, we defeated Iron Turtle and saved the hostages and called it a victory. Yay us.
So if it wasn’t obvious, while the mechanics of Chronicles are not uninteresting, this scene certainly was. Boring, but with promise. We agreed to play out the Terror Trio scenes in cooperative play, see how things went and if anything interesting could come from the rules, and if not, I hope we try out another series of scenes competitively, to really capitalize on the Arcadian feel between campaigns. If. As it stands, Chronicles in an easy scene is seemingly devoid of most interest, but that could easily change with other scenes. Just this one lacks any sort of intrigue without direct competition.
We shall see.
Game the Fifth: Eldritch Horror
Welcome to the shortest game of Edlritch Horror ever recorded? From setup to post game chat, we were within an hour. 45 minutes by my lack of watch! We just barreled right through the Ancient One, laughing all the way, I guess.
Nephran-Ka v Mandy Thompson and Minh Thi.
Our first foray into side boards, and it was not quite the exciting dilemma I would have thought it’d be. Really, Nephran-Ka was so polite, his mysteries mostly revolved around telling us to just ‘Have fun. Explore Africa. Just...go out there and draw some regular encounters and see the sights! If you have a clue on you, just solve this mystery. It’s cool.’ And that is what we did, mostly.
Minh, played by Andrew, started the game out with a tome that she read first turn which rained clues upon her, so we practically had everything we needed from the word go, as Nephran-Ka went out of his way to not require anything of us. Upon realizing how wonderful Minh’s ability to enhance all stats with a +1 if she has a living friend or ally, she snatched one up from the Reserve and continued on her merry way toward Egypt.
My character, Mandy (might I say that I don’t like the new Mandy Thompson nearly as much artistically as the old Arkham version? Because I don’t. She looks too much like Carolyn Fern to me, and I preferred the softer Mandy from the past. Still, Mandy is Mandy is Mandy, so you can’t go wrong), is built for nothing but research. In fact, if she so much as thinks about other activities, she’s likely to die, what with her single point of Strength. The Expidition started directly next to me and I wept, knowing I couldn’t go for it because my weak lady arms would turn to ash and implode upon just the sight of the rare artifacts within. Potentially. As such, I took her straight to Africa, eventually also shopping for...something or other. I might have actually never shopped. Huh. I mean, I often don’t, usually because things are too expensive and I’d need two hits AND a Loan to make it anywhere. Mystery.
By turn two, we had already solved a Mystery. I really just had to be in Egypt and go through a single encounter. That’s all. Sure, Mr Ka. I’ll play your way.
By the end of turn three, we’d completed another Mystery. This time Minh came by for a visit, went to a particular location and had any old encounter, pooping out a clue in order to finish the Mystery. Cool. I mean, at this point, is Ka nothing more than a travel agent? Because that’s pretty nice.
By the end of turn five, we’d won the game. Mandy had gone off to think about closing one of the three gates we had and pick up clues, just in case Minh died of cardiac arrest or something, while Minh just kept on her safari Jeep and won the day with another regular old encounter.
Thanks, Mr Ka, for the lovely trip to Egypt! Mandy and Minh thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and they never once felt like the world was in any sort of danger! Heck, you were kind enough to expedite our travel, having your Reckoning draw us closer (for free!) to your tomb! We appreciate it, buddy. And, if we ever want another relaxing trip through the world of Eldritch, we’ll give you a call.
Golly, he is a gem. Love him!
Allegedly Fog of Love should be arriving today. That would be very exciting, and continue with the theme of packages falling from the sky. Actually, I’m playing a video game right now that is also about things falling front the sky, Summon Night 6. It’s charming. Apparently it’s the fifteenth anniversary of this series that has seen exactly two (and two spinoffs on GBA) games from the extensive series localized, and this game (6) brings most of the cast from each game together for raucous parties and whatnot. Not actually knowing any of these characters, it was quite jarring, as it seems I was expected to know their personal histories so seeing them jive with people outside their regular realm would be hilarious, but...it’s just charming. I really am enjoying my time after getting away from the first (or three) original main characters. Ugh, what a doofus.
Anyway, video games are nice.
In other news, my cat is adorable. That’s...pretty much all. We’ve brought out a small heated blanket and laid it out on the couch, and if she’s been a delightfully good kitty, we turn it on at night and let her have the most relaxing naps she could ever hope to achieve! Oh my gah, seeing her in such incredible states or relaxation (Andrew can actually touch her feets!) has been the greatest gift of all!
So there you have it, folks! A week! With games! And to a lesser extent sinning! Hoopla!
Thanks for reading another week of fun and (lack of) sun, from yours truly. It’s been a decently enjoyable year, and I am ruminating on what to do with this blog for next year. Honestly, even with my hazardous, shifty and tiny notes, it can be daunting cataloging every game we play. I ponder if we move into a less frequent, more in depth avenue, possibly called Devery Delves, every so often, to really try and break into a game at a time, dissecting and discussing it’s finer points. Or just talking to air, like I tend to do anyway, because I just go and ignore silly things like periods, opting instead for the endless sea of commas you see before you. You are welcome.
Ooh! I also stumbled upon a delicious recipe for snickerdoodle cookies, from Lulu or something. I’ll have to fish that out for next week, because I’ve never baked a better cookies, I don’t think. Good times and good treats!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
It’s happening! Secret Santa is well underway! We gifted a few select treats to our target last week, though I didn’t have the foresight to wrap them. It was fun! Naturally, as with everything, when in Indy at the time we saw a copy of Roll Player that would have been just perfect instead. I hadn’t thought it was available at the moment, just between prints. Happy to know that it is in fact readily available, since it’s great and everyone should play it!
Anywho, in other news, we played some games, even if we took at least two days off of doing anything and instead played video games together on the sofa. Still, what a delightful time to have together. Thanks to Black Friday (whatever that may or may not mean) we have a second PS4 controller, allowing us to find and download whatever is great enough to play from PSN!
Game the First:Runebound (Third Edition)
Runebound! Even though we lack the Unbroken Bonds expansion because no store on the face of the planet seems to have it or even know it exists and I’m just a tad too perturbed to go to FFG’s online shop and take the plunge (I’m a weird boy), we broke this baby out to have a little adventurous fun out in that good natured Terrinoth. The game is similar to most: Margath, Elder Mok, and Lord Hawthorne, all ready to party.
Party we did, dear friends! Not actually, because Unbroken Bonds doesn’t exist (I also can never remember the name of that expansion...) but there was dancing and a few drinks and one or two bouts of rampant shame and displeasure. As always, combat is a very dangerous proposition in the early stages, so naturally Hawthorne rushes right in and runs away within the span of a turn. Shame. Mok takes a survey of the shops and decides to use the green Quests to possibly give him more incentive to make the very long walk from the bottom of the board to the top of the board in Dwarfland.
We’re ready for anything, except of course actually fighting something. After Hawthorne’s initial awkward retreat, Mok took to an unexpected fight from the Purple deck of Something-or-Other which went surprisingly well, as in he didn’t die and ended up with some money. In Runebound, that is just about the best that can possibly happen. Heck, I was ecstatic. So much, in fact, that I immediately learned how to live in the wilderness with a Skill that would remove ALL my wounds when resting in the wild instead of rolling the dice and hoping!
So Mok was ready to forge ahead, while Hawthorne began hunting around the opposite side of the world, stalking the mountains for Quests and Critters. He did stumble healthily into Lore saving a village, and eventually started regularly winning fights. He wasn’t, however, quick to learn Skills, which I have a habit of urging people to do, since that initial hand and frequent Training actions seems ideal to get a decent idea of where you want your character to go throughout the game. Without Skills and Equipment, life can be so very hard in this game. So very, very hard. So hard. Dragons will eat your body and spit out your soul.
Things went pretty well throughout the first Act, really. Mok managed to scrape enough money with trading to by a Battle Tome, giving him an ability for two surges to remove any opponent’s token, and he was merrily on his way toward Dwarfland to get a horse and finish up a Quest, if he could. Plus, Lore was piling up there (which is why having a horse would pay off, I thought, as the more Exploration dice I could roll, the better). Hawthorne began to settle into what kind of warrior he wanted to be, seeking a particular blade from the middle city and eyeing armour not far behind.
From the start of Act II, fights naturally became more difficult, enough to give us pause again after being able to rather regularly defeat enemies when we enoucntered them. It’s impressive how much more threatening enemies can get with just an added damage or potential surge in surges. Luckily, no one died (yet), but Hawthorne and Mok did both retreat once, just to prevent said death from taxing us our valuable as all Hell action points. This game is tight, even on this, the most basic and giving of scenarios (of the whole two that I’ve seen, since the game hates opportunity for variety in play beyond your character, which is still pretty keen).
Then, suddenly, from the sky, while both of us happened to be on the same space for some reason or another (Hawthorne had a Quest to fulfill and I wanted to fight a creature for just the one more money I needed to buy my armour), a drake pooped out and tried to (successfully) murder us. What a butt. Like, a whole butt. Just farting around. That’s actually how they propel themselves forward. It is a rare known fact. It’s a gift of knowledge, and you are of course welcome. Your gratitude keeps us awake at night, but in a positive, workforce kind of way, not the way of nightmares and ill fitting pajama bottoms.
So we both die, but I use my wilderness lore to get back into fighting form to finish up what I need to do before glomping off into the sunset upon my fiery steed. By the way, are you aware that horses don’t do too well on slick mountains? Yeah, apparently that’s true, since I had to take my horse all the way around the mountains of Dwarfland due to my inability to roll dice. The more you know! Unfortunately for m horse, once it carries me back to the south, inside the town there, I sell it off and replace it’s awesomeness with something much better suited for battling a dragon. Welcome to my back, Mana Armour! Your additional two health and increased Mysticism will help my cause greatly!
Sooner rather than later, Margath shows up, and I make it my mission to stock up on Lore tokens before she begins moving. I rush along the road to the site holding three of the little buggers, hawking my trophies in exchange for them, saving just enough back to replace my wilderness ability with something better suited to battle. Once ready, I can descend upon Margath and murder my way to victory!
Hawthorne, meanwhile, is playing gleefully with his new sword, galloping (not really, because I had the only horse, and it had since been stabled indefinitely, poor thing) back to town for his eye-shining armour piece before taking the fight to the dragon.
Just as a funny aside, when I rolled for Margath’s movement the first time, I got flat zero wilds (partially because I never roll wilds in this game, because that would be too beneficial). Andrew takes a shot and catapults the dragon from her perch on the mountains to just two spaces away from the city she wants to nest on top of next. Humour!
So, the clock was just upped and I needed to fight Margath now or risk a total loss. Hawthorne felt the same (because he had to...I mean, Margath was a hair’s breadth away from her destructive victory!) I finish up my business with an action, learn a Skill, and go for the kill!
Here’s my full kit. My Battle Tome helped remove Margath’s tokens, my Mana armour increasing the potency of my innate spell casting ability to test Mystic plus one to deal damage. For Skills, I had Adreneline, drawing me two extra cards not counted against my handsize when entering a battle, which helped keep me able to exert, which I needed to do, Aggresive giving me an extra initiative, needed because I am slower than frozen molasses, Conversion giving me the option to Exert for a damage and removing a skull from the enemy, Cacophony giving me one free damage once we both run out of tokens or I have a spare moment, and Complete Confidence gifting me the option, for a surge, to gain two additional combat actions right then and there.
With this kit, I felt more ready than ever to win a fight against Margath! And win Elder Mok did, even with that filthy flying lizard healing herself once, making me cry a little inside. You know what pushed me over the edge for a victory? Aggressive’s additional initiative boost, giving me first turn on the final round, letting me overcharge with Complete Confidence to get all my damage off the table in one fell swoop instead of taking a major hit or seeing Margath heal between punches. Magical punches. I’m a mage!
Winning! It does a body good, people. Not as much as milk, because milk is completely delicious, like beyond measure, but still. It can be nice.
As usual when playing Runebound, we gave whoever failed to defeat the target a final shot, to see if they could. Lord Hawthorne put up a very aggresive stance with his unblockable damage, pushing Margath rather quickly into turmoil damage wise, but Margath also kept up a rather consistent hit tally of three or so per round (thanks in no small part to Hawthorne lowering damage he received by one or two every single round, for free). Her consistency won out in the end, narrowly defeating Hawthorne while he had lethal on the table.
But winning! We still did it, saved the world! Even if no one remembers Lord Hawthorne and there are statues of Elder Mok, glowing purple in every town square on this side of the river.
Game the Second:Exit: The Game – The Polar Station
I’ve stated before that the Exit series is my preferred when it comes to escape rooms at home. Have I also mentioned that we three merry kings ranked at the tippity top at one of our local rooms, so that the name Two Piece and a Biscuit will live forever on in the homestead of Peoria proper at Gone in Sixty? Because we’re great at escaping, except when we die a horrible death due to not being so great, mostly due to silly things. Heck, in our award winning attempt previously mentioned, we role played too hard for the room, missing an obvious clue but forging ahead anyway, wasting oodles of time, and we’re still winners on a wall. You’re welcome.
What does that have to do with this Polar experience? Nothing. Nothing at all. But I can’t particularly talk about the puzzles within the box, as that’s the whole purpose of purchase. As such, I shall state that we enjoyed this one a good deal. Not our favourite of the bunch, with two particular moments when we reached a correct conclusion but without picking up on any of the actual clues, which is always an interesting time for everyone. Thematically it was fine, but to be honest, I’ve yet to discover any sort of home based escape experience that carries a strong theme. The mechanics of an escape room have to be really diluted to be put into a cardboard box, you see.
So yeah! Good time, no? It’s a bit sad to only go through each Exit once, but it really opens up the doors for the designers’ creativity, making sure to utilize something in every box differently than the average joe would expect. In each experience we’ve tried, there’s at least one component that is stretched beyond it’s initial trappings, and I very uhh like that. It makes memories! And it is so endearing.
Yep. We played an Exit game and it was pretty good. The end.
Game the Third: Dungeon Petz
Recently, upon leaving the house and doing errands often necessary for survival, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to the FLGS. This is almost never a good idea. Sometimes, I go into this silent space when around plentiful bundles of new toys. I’m almost catatonic. It’s like a berserker rage, but inward, and instead of murdering everything, I want to take it in exchange for the coin of the realm. Just to have it. No real reason at all. It’s horrible. I’m also not sure where it came from, since throughout my entire youth I was incredibly frugal, to the point that I could ask myself ‘Do you really need to eat more than once a day?’ But now I’m an insatiable machine of glut. Board games. They wound me.
That’s all to say that we bought a board game! An expansion to a board game, so it’s okay. See, we haven’t increased the collection, really, as no new boxes adorn the shelves! It’s perfect. I feed the growing beast of encroaching death from inside and we keep a relative status quo with our living room. Win win!
Dungeon Petz. The main event here. I’ve played Dungeon Petz exactly once before, in Indy, on International Tabletop Day, with my then fiancé (actually, we might have not even been engaged...) and bestest friend V. It was a riot. Our collective memories were mostly made up of all three of us tearfully laughing. Some for Andrew’s incredibly poop enthused pet, glibly smacking the pats down before raining them over its wide eyed head. Some for my open heart, taking in more animals than I could possibly care for, leading to a few mutations, a few less portals opening to another dimension and my little friends never writing again. It’s just...it was a hoot, and we might have even confused the table at the far end of the room with our contained howling antics.
Cut to us, purchasing and me reading through Dungeon Petz: Dark Alleys, and finally laying it out after however many years. Dungeon Petz! It should be noted that the Dark Alleys box cover is the best piece of board game art I have ever seen, and I am seriously considering just hanging it on the wall, or making a shadow box with it. Really.
We are not particularly good at Dungeon Petz. We know that now, more than ever. While probably not completely deplorable, our scores sat in the mid range with 68v42. There are a lot of decision points in Dungeon Petz, no matter what your personal primary goals. With Dark Alleys as well tossed into the punch, we have a completely new et of options, mostly to enhance or give us more options for similar content, but still more to consider.
As such, with the bevy of spaces and available options every turn, not to mention the amazing game play addition in worker placement games to actually construct your groups of workers yourself, however you wish, with any combination of your imps and gold, so long as each group has at least one imp and you don’t exceed the six number of groups maximum, we took a good chunk of time to play out this game. I’m not sure how long exactly, but I think it might have pushed the two hour mark with setup to tear down, if not exceeding it.
Both of us took very different approaches to our grouping, too. Andrew opted for fewer, more robust groups, often giving himself only three or less actions, but almost guaranteeing that he would have first pick on whatever he desired for the round. I rarely made a group larger than four, opting to keep my options a bit more open, rarely if ever building less than five groups. At the very least, if I didn’t need all the things, I can always send my imps and gold back home to the coffers, waiting to clean poop or...clean poop. Mostly poop. All things in this game lead to poop.
Overall, things were sort of slow going, as I had only gotten used to the rules again, and we still had to seek reassurance occasionally. Still, what’s so great about Vlaada (my geek crush) is his pension for trying to make rules thematically. Thus, most rules flow organically, if you sprinkle in enough flavour when explaining them. I love it. So much. Whenever we went to the rule book, it wasn’t to find a rule so much as to double check a thing or two. Hell, when reading the rules in the car I often stopped and read some aloud to my husband, because they are funny. Good times!
Anyway, we aren’t very good at taking care of little beasties, partially because we were supposed to look ahead at the buyers and the exhibitions, but I was wrapped up in my own little world of taking care of what was in front of me and making the best of the Black Market when Andrew scuttled into the pet and cage zones with his massive groups of five or six. Whoops? When we finally had the ability to sell two pets a round, I didn’t even have two pets, and certainly not ones geared toward their specific desires! Again, a bit of a whoops. Still, without playing well (at all), this game is such a load of charm that I can’t imagine having a really bad time of it. I mean, look at it! Look at it. Really look at it. You’re in love, aren’t you?
Oddly enough, it almost felt like we were somehow playing things very safe, as we managed to keep our pets very happy and healthy, never running out of food, our cages often cleaning up for us. It was bizarre and a little magical, but also less funny. I mean, not a single pet died, and though we didn’t make much in our sales, we certainly did something!
Dungeon Petz is wonderful. It is certainly thick, what with so many things you need all over the place, but most available to a single group, leaving you to scramble if you don’t build your groups appropriately for placement, but I kind of like it, since each individual piece is really not complex at all. I mean, in Argent we could have a spell that chains into thirty other spells, ending with a free placement of a grey mage because I cast a spell thirty minutes ago, which is groovy and thematic, but I might prefer the simplicity of Dungeon Petz complexity, if that makes sense.
Seriously, though, Dark Alleys has the best art I’ve ever seen on the cover (and everywhere else, true) and we all need some of it in our lives.
I also can’t say I didn’t do a little jig when I managed to place that 50 point reward marker to indicate that I did indeed somehow manage to wrap around the board all of one time. Yay me!
Game the Fourth: Gloomhaven
SPOILERS exist, because Gloomhaven. You have been warned.
#66 Clockwork Cove
I’m sad. Not because we are major losers, because we totally won this scenario, but because we still have to do it again. Well, HAVE to is a strong word, but we didn’t manage to get the treasure. How tragic! I cannot exist in a world without treasure!
First off, this scenario tries to appease you after it tosses Oozes into the mix by having just a single elite Ooze starting out, staring at you at the end of the hall. What fart-laden nonsense. Oozes are the actual devil. You won’t fool me, Gloomhaven! Not just yet!
So we murder and Ooze, feeling good about ourselves, and then get into the real meat and difficulty of this chapter. Pressure Plates. In order for doors to remain open, one person must occupy the associated pressure plate. Sure. What became bothersome in this scenario rather quickly was losing half our team for at least half a turn if not more in order to get our way through the place. Obviously, that is the entire point, but when we have just the two of us, things can get very hairy very fast, and they did indeed!
Within practically no time at all, after Drae kindly immobilized himself on a pressure plate or two, Ime managed to fall to critical HP status, living out two full rooms-worth of enemies (and there were a lot of enemies) at a single HP. Thanks invisibility! If only I could MAKE YOU HAPPEN WHEN I REALLY NEED YOU! Ahem.
Yeah, I’m still having some difficulties getting used to Ime, honestly. I think things are getting better, as I’m more able to manage his Darkness, at least. He really needs to have Dark available every turn possible, or his ability to actually help out as much as needed in a two man party is just not there. My reliable assistance comes from my insta kill, a move I can pull off once a rest, and used here to remove the strongest hitters upon entering a room. Pretty cool, yes indeed, but I look more forward to the moment Ime and I feel together as one instead of struggling with each other to do what the other wants. I’m terrible at games.
Still, we managed to skirt our way through to the penultimate room, chose to close the doors once we were both inside to clean up a bit before our final gambit. Ime, because he has to live up to his apparent legacy, has an explosively great final two rounds, almost completely exhausting himself in order to suck the life out of a creature, rush six spaces to the pressure plate, AND get a treasure. Not in that order, and split in two turns, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, Drae was sidling up to the final door, and once Ime popped that plate, he dashed through the traps, face tanking damages in order to finish the scenario out before we both died.
Tense! Stil, we might have to go back in again. I even have the map still set up, because it ever rests easy on me leaving treasure behind. Ever. In fact, in video games, if I’m aiming for the end of the dungeo or wherever I am and not fishing for treasure, you know the game has likely wronged me in some way. With Gloomhaven, it usually just comes down to no times. I’m always running out of time here. I miss have a double digit hand of cards!
Oh, yeah. We also opened Envelope A, since we’ve attained all the Ancient Technology! What any of it means has yet to be determined, but envelopes!
Back in town, we see more Valrath people, buy a map, and get very excited that all our money is gone but we now have access to an island.
I ponder if we are supposed to do things such as repeating scenarios, by the by. Like, by design, you should be doing each scenario twice, with either a failed first attempt or missing out on little somethings. It would certainly help the money starved us, as we rarely if ever have time enough to pick up loot while fighting for our lives. Ime could literally die at any moment if he isn’t invisible. Any forseeable moment. It’s terrifying. I’m probably going grey.
Same scenario, but this time with no regard for the reasons we were there or any lasting concecquence. I’ve never felt so alive.
We rush in, murder an Ooze, and master those pressure plates like we’ve been manipulating them since the womb. Hell, without the wondering what’s happening next and the fear of death, we even took the time to mess around with some of the enemies crowding us, opening our eyes to opportunity with both our characters! With the haul from last go round, I was able to make a very important purchase for Ime’s well being, the Darkness Staff, and now I can be assured of having dark element active if and when I need it, should my generation be lacking or something suddenly comes up, ala Marsha Brady’s prom situation.
Really, nothing of relevance happens, though we do open the treasure in the map and discover an amazing piece of equipment that is in every way a straight up enhancement of my previously favourite piece of footwear, but at an obviously inflated cost. So expensive, it is, that I ahven’t the slightest hopes to ever see it on my body, as I’m still struggling to just get my first potion. Well, I decided to settle for a lesser potion, but still. Money is tight. Always. Starting up a new character is great, but it leaves you in some sad states financially. I wish we could open up a revenue stream with our retired characters, especially since at least two of our retired team are heading shops or studios in the world of Gloomhaven! They should write to us and gift us some profits. Why? No reason. Honestly, Hervey and Morgan wouldn’t really have any reason to know Ime and Drae, and after what happened with Alms and Catharsys, it might behoove everybody to just move on.
We’ve had some real adventures, haven’t we? Huh. What a delight!
Recipe of the moment...
As mentioned last week, I made a delicious soup, and this is the approximation of what I did that fateful night. Obviously, it is subject to your own tweaking, should you like. Me and precision aren’t necessarily relatives when it comes to cooking.
Beef and Mustard Soup Thing
1. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a tall sided pan and cook 1/2 lb of ground beef sirloin. Salt and pepper like a pro, and when browned all over remove beef from pan and cover.
2. In the same pan heat another tablespoon oil, cook a small chopped onion for about three minutes until beginning to soften, then add about 1/2 to 3/4 a package of cut mushrooms and a sliced green pepper. Salt and pepper again, like a pro!
3. Once those veggies are in a happy place, toss in a can of beef consommé and bring to a boil.
4. Add in 1/2 a package of cream cheese, a couple dashes of garlic powder, maybe 2 TB of yellow mustard and 1 TB of Pirate’s Lantern hot sauce (or any mustard based hot sauce, I’d imagine, or omit entirely if you don’t like a bit of heat). Keep on heat until the cream cheese has melted through.
5. Once things have settled down, reduce heat to a simmer and return the meat to the pan. After everything is harmoniously warmed up, I’d call it a soup! Be happy! You’ve made a soup! And all with your guesstimates as to the ingredients and amounts therein. I’m proud. Because I make this crap up every day.
So I suppose we’re looking at an ingredient list of:
1/2 ground sirloin
Small onion, chopped
1/2-ish package of mushrooms, cut
Green pepper, sliced and cut
1 Can beef consommé
4oz Cream Cheese
2 TB Yellow Mustard
1 TB Pirate’s Lantern hot sauce
Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder to taste
Next week we’ll probably have a good and proper update on the mysteries of our Secret Santa, though we have received one of two mysterious packages thus far (hint: It made Andrew very happy, as it deals with his favourite game, not that you probably know what that is, but still)! Fun secrets!
Otherwise, I’ve been informed that I need to make a speech for my sister’s wedding, so that’s a thing I’ll be thinking about on and off for the next week. Oh, glorious, simple weddings. My dearest homies. I shake just a little at the thought.
Go find a copy or print of the Dungeon Petz Dark Alleys box cover and hang it somewhere. It will make your life better, I should think. Just in case.
‘Til next time, dear hearts! Onward to adventure!
Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:20 am
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
So we had another pretty groovy week, shoveling in all the goodness before rushing about for the winter holiday season! It feels good, you know, being this awesome. But in all seriousness, there have been some pretty groovy days while December decides to give us sixty degree days and full sun. Soon, I suppose, winter will be coming. Until then, I'll be happy!
Game the First: Roll Player
Ladies Night in Roll Player! I played a Sociopathic Lost Soul Dwarf Sorcerer while Andrew picked the Arbiter Savant Elf Druid, which happens to be everything elves are. As an aside, the male dwarf still makes me laugh far too much to be able to properly play him. Actually, similar feelings for the male elf. Coincidence? I think very much so, because when it comes to gaming, we plan basically nothing. For you!
As we know from playing Roll Player (it's great), you end up with very interesting characters by the end. All of the adjectives you earn really make a hilarious tale that just begs for future play, even if it doesn't actually happen. Soon, dear ones, you can hear (read, I guess) the wondrous title I've played into throughout this character set up. Such good times!
Since I had Sorcerer as my class, I tried to make as much use of the special ability Mysterious as I could, gaining a free Intelligence action with each Trait purchase. So, getting full up on Traits and rerolling whatever dice as often as I did so led to a perfect character by the end. Actually true! I finally, for the first and only time in the history of the game, managed to complete Loyalty, getting all of my attributes kitted out, even after I forgot about my innate plus two in Constitution, I was able to even it out with a Trait gifting me a plus/minus two in any one stat during scoring. Magic! And a Longbow giving me double the Attribute action when I finished out a row. But mostly Magic!
Unfortunately, the rest of my point possibilities were less than perfect, only managing two points from my Sociopath Alignment thanks to my constant moving around when I picked up Traits and missing out on one of my Backstory dice placements, losing out on a perfect score there, too. When it came to equipment, I was also sparse, just a single armour that didn't match my class and a couple weapons for whatever reason felt appropriate at the time.
So, the Loyal and Courageous Dwarven Lost Soul, Dedicated and Proud as only a Sociopath could be, carrying a Longbow typical of the Sorcerer, fell just short of victory, 27v29.
Good game from the Elf! Andrew wins!
Game the Second: Argent: The Consortium
Seeing as we rarely ever play this (it's softly in the middle area between the main shelf and the Room of Shame), I took it upon myself to suggest it and also toss in the Mancers expansion because why the heck not? If we don't do it now, we'd probably never see any of it and it really doesn't add any further complexity, since it is mostly more of the same, or similar. There is so much (a Lvl99 standard) to the game that adding more is just a drop in a lake. So Technomancy is here!
We further the magic theme, obviously, playing Rheye Cal of Divinity (me) and Sophica Whatever-her-name-is of Technomancy (Andrew). Choosing to move back into Argent (it's possibly been over a year since our last play) a bit more easily, we played through the Summer Break scenario which starts us out with only the two mages, recruiting one more at the end of the first three rounds. This was a pretty solid idea, I think, as the game slowly progressed into Argent craziness, keeping things very quick and breezy, as our tableus built up much more slowly than a regular game.
With that first free Mark placed, the two of us clearly began running in two different directions. Sure, we couldn't particular notice at the outset, but I went down a Spell path, learning what I could and upgrading what I liked best, recruiting Mystic mages to my school in order to benefit more from my inevitable casting, and the chain of Spells that I could cast without owning them. I was a victim of the Spell row. If things didn't come out that I deemed particularly useful, it left me with a very swift round, opting for the round ending Key cards much faster than otherwise. Though the Key card gifting money was a personal favourite of mine, due partially to the Mark I'd placed telling me that money would be important, partially for the fact that money was very hard to come by with our room setup (Astronomy Tower, Council Chamber, Chapel, and...the basics), and partially so I could get the most out of the Technomancy mage I recruited, using their innate to pay three coin and gain a Research action.
Sophica, however, kept pretty light on Spells until near the end, focusing instead on Treasure, very often going to the Vault in order to gain whatever she could. This also gave her some great IP boosts, as many of her acquisitions from the Vault and the Supporter rows gave her a one off IP gift. By the late rounds, I had to give up the IP race, which wasn't too bad due to the 2nd Most IP Voter was in the setup at least.
Still, once the sixth and last round ended, we both felt decent enough, but still unsure as to the outcome. Sophica earned a couple votes, and Rheye won the votes she knew she would (Nature and Planar). With each further reveal, however, my IP deficiency got the best of me, winning Sophica two or three tie breakers, giving her the win 7v4.
Andrew wins again! This was basically his week to demolish, and it was glorious and mostly tight. Playing this again after so long really left a positive spin on my mind, and I'd delight at another shot, possibly playing through the other scenarios for giggles. I really liked the Summer Break, easing into the game much faster than just tossing in full force, and to make life even easier, I usually didn't even look over the Supporters until I was recruiting one (which is not particularly a good idea; don't do it). Good times!
Though it was pretty funny that our base abilities as Divinity and Technomancy were practically cancelled out from the start due to the other. Just a funny.
Game the Third: Gloomhaven
Spoilers abound, because Gloomhaven. You've been warned.
#65, Sulfur Mine.
I'm not sure why, but I wrote down the word 'Smelly' in this section of the note. Curious.
I must say, as well, that the growing pains for my new character Ime are very real. At the moment, as a lowly level two, too poor to buy any potions and especially unable to buy equipments that I so desperately need to fully function, I'm feeling a bit useless. At least, I flounder about for the first good chunk of each scenario and then finish in a huge, amazing blitz. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to keep up the amazing level as I needed to lose three cards just to finish the final room in this scenario before we lost to double exhaustion. Still, I'm having fun, which is all that really matters, I suppose.
Drae, meanwhile, single handedly carried three of the four mini rooms we needed to clear before the final room, easily slaying Vermlings and gather the target objects, charging through the final door, finishing off the Wolves and flying to the final target hex, leaving Ime to clean up one single enemy before we died and lost, as Drae exhausted right after he collected the final piece of the thingy we needed.
What's a little funny with Gloomhaven after we both retired at the same time is looking at these low level enemies and thinking what an easy sort they are, quickly forgetting that we are very low level ourselves, and while our cards and abilities are just fine, we are not kitted out with the means to easily dispatch these foes as well as we'd like. Hell, Ime's damage output is more often than not negative, doing nothing but status ailments with his bloated, basic attack deck.
So those final rounds, after Drae fainted, Ime shot forward a billion spaces with a quick and easy combo where he can double his attack or move for the turn (with darkness, naturally), allowed the final enemy to move up a little bit, then concluding with a simple murder card, dealing six plus damage at once. So good! But again, a one time thing, really.
Game the Fourth: Fire of Eidolon
More quick and easies! We played with the Exit tile and secret passages, on Hard. I played the Swordsman and Andrew the Paladin.
These characters rock! I really enjoyed the Swordsman, not having an ultimate move costing all his AP, instead having two useful options at all times. He had a Boomerang (that I never used) which could lower the cost of picking up the tokens and also, for 2 AP, plop a Bomb on any wall that didn't connect to a door, making it a door forever after. You're welcome, world.
The Paladin, meanwhile, could murder the crap out Cultists willy nilly with Smite, and we actually used an Ultimate for realsies for the first time, seeing Paladin just wreck a full cross of enemies.
So I can't imagine playing on anything under Hard, honestly. This game had us actually discuss our options during the game, talking out just how far to explore while we quickly gathered Blue and Red things and planning how to get the Swordsman to the Green things before the Cultists got out of hand. We needed an escape route cleared, and I had a Bomb in my back pocket in case our plans fell through. We also lost more dungeon tiles than ever before! Basically, if we had a mission and a Cultist took up residence on a space outside of our escape route, we often let them rest.
The Paladin protected and patrolled the exit while I bombed my way through to place the final piece, breaking the Green Thing. Then we swapped out, the Swordsman moving toward the exit while the Paladin collected the Fire of Eidolon that appeared, also boosting our Darkness draw back down to one card instead of two. So, those final turns, we discarded all of one card, every other draw sending a tile into oblivion or wherever. It was crazy.
We were, of course, winners in the end, and probably of our personal favourite game thus far of FoE!
Game the Fifth: Spirit Island
Yay! It's been so long, new favourite co-op! At least a top ranker. Reasons. And, carrying on the other plot of the week, we officially threw in Branch and Claw, which was...exciting.
Andrew took Vital Strength of the Earth and I played one of the new spirits, Sharp Fangs in the Leaves. Long story short (I'm tired) we won via Terror Level III, with a Healthy Island, no Adversary.
Overall, these added tokens are lovely! They give a slight little edge for the spirits at the start, taking the smallest amount of pains away from the very beginning of the game. Each one prevents one of the Invader actions (or lowers a single Invader's damage), while we also gain access to the Beasts. Now these guys can activate thanks to the Event deck, but Sharp Fangs specializes in making them useful. In fact, I have to wonder how useful these beasties could be without Sharp Fangs moving them about with a purpose. Still, every little bit helps!
Events added an interesting wrinkle, often giving us a choice between a general Bad Thing or a much less Bad Thing but at a (often expensive) cost, needing elements either in play, discarded from hand, or forgotten to lower said cost by 1, 2, or 4 respectively, using Energy for the remaining bits. I found it was usually well worth taking the less deadly path here, and over our game, I think I spent a whopping three Energy, on an Event that would have destroyed my little Beast friends otherwise. I love them. They're adorable little paw pads! How couldn't you?
So, though we had a rather simple game, just Branch and Claw basics and a Blight card causing us fuss, we verily enjoyed ourselves, and our resounding victory. I say resounding because both of us had the capabilities of healing Blight from the land, so the Blight card still had three (of four) on it at the end, even with Vital Strength trashing huge swathes of baddies and blighting the land as payment! Payment that I would clean up after, of course, while my cute beasties brought cities to ruin whenever I could make them with Fang's Innate Ranging Hunt ability to Gather, Attack, and Push beasts every turn. So good. Delightful!
But, yeah. Spirit Island is the poo. Take a big whiff.
I just made a delicious little soup this afternoon for dinner. I might have to give you guys the recipe next week. Yeah, it's just stuff that was never measured out, so more like a list of things, but that's a good start, no? Delicious meals from the result of scrounging around the kitchen to not waste food before we go to the grocery again are the best! Ground sirloin, mushrooms, mustard, cream cheese...what could go wrong? The real answer is nothing, which you might see next week.
Anyway, it's been just swell recently! Thanks to December being nice enough to give us a very light breeze, sixty degree and full sun day earlier, I was able to prime a new set of minis from Arcadia Quest and seal the finished one, giving me a painting project for the coming weeks of winter before it will be too cold to actually spray paint anything. That was nice of you, December! Appreciated! I do so enjoy filling my time by painting things to a standard just above shoddy pre-paints. It's awesome being awesome. Still, these little Arcadia Quest miniatures are more often than not adorable, and I just painted the flesh of the Frog Prince, and I love him. Honestly, we could have a full Chrono Trigger set and I'd be living for it. Video games. I still like 'em!
I politely say thank you, kindly, for reading, and wish you a wonderful week as well! 'Til next time, I guess, guys and dolls!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
It’s happening! All the ills of the table dissipating and the power of the Gloom taking its rightful place! Yeah, we finally reach our fabled double retirement this week, and otherwise do things, too. Right now, as I type, my cat has staked claim on my notes, so for the moment I’m flying blind. [Update: Hellia could feel my shaming eyes and has just moved to the sofa. What a sweet little belle!]
Otherwise, this was a seemingly uncommon week in which we had nothing outside the home to do beyond the ordinary. I love these weeks. I love having that opportunity to feel relaxation only available in the comforts of home and husband, without the need for airs. Who needs social interaction? Everyone, but not this week, baby! We have to stock up our ability to humanize for later this month, after all!
So games. The good times. They are here, friends.
Game the First: Shadows over the Empire
I’ve played this game a handful of times, always with the A set of cards, ranging from two to four players at least twice in each number. It’s never been anything people particularly resonate with, and it’s never been played with the same group of people twice. Since I’ve had it for millions of years at this point, it’s very pretty, and one of the very few games that Andrew hasn’t played in our collection, we finally broke it out for a quick two player experience.
The things of note that have kept it in my collection and on the shelf all these years (beyond it’s value plummeting due possibly to the poor reception it took everywhere) have been the relative simplicity, the captivating artwork and theme, and the speed of play. All three can be important, and this is one game I was even able to play with my parents way back when. Props for that, I guess!
Finally, I opted to retire the A set of characters, and I am very, very happy to have done so, because our options were much more interesting as a result. The A set isn’t bad, but it is simple, leading to games feeling familiar each time instead of creating a path to nobility through these citizens as if its your first ride on the social abuse band wagon. The B set that I swapped out in full instead of taking the rulebook’s advice to slowly implement them in chunks was immediately more interesting, with more layered effects and not every single citizen having three of four traits.
As always, the game was incredibly fast, lasting a total of three rounds. I opted to play the Religious character, as I often did before, since Margath is a beautiful and powerful nun, so Ignacio should be just as lovely a fellow. Andrew played the Rich character, Judge Pierre. Our starting people around us saw me with a Jester (and I obviously had to go for him, regardless of his ability), Troubadour, and third guy, while Pierre was surrounded by people he would soon get to know very well and possibly ruin the life of Ignacio quickly and efficiently. But who knows?
If it wasn’t obvious before, I felt it necessary to tackle the Jester first and influence him to my side for any and all future turns. Gameplay in Shadows is quite simple. Your goal is to have all 18 of your Influence tokens on various people around the city and either have complete control over the center character (Distinct Personality) or have no conflicts with any other player (thus guaranteeing your eventual victory over the others with your clear influence of the population). See why I’d like this game’s theme? We are all smarmy asshats, using and abusing people however we see fit to get whatever it is our character values into further power through the manipulation of someone important enough for all the lands to listen to. Everyone is vile, and the most innnocent of patrons can be swayed to your side to do your bidding however you see fit. It’s marvelous.
Beyond that, turns are fast and easy, even if there can be a large number of options for you as more and more people open up to your potential influence. You can choose to Influence a surrounding character card with a card you control (once per character, as a token is placed on their card to indicate they have either influenced or been influenced this turn and can’t spread further until next round) and place your coloured tokens on this newly influenced character, thrusting them into your political game of intrigue for later use. Most characters have an ability, and you can opt to use one on your turn. These vary greatly amongst the cast, being able to manipulate tokens by adding or removing them, turning a character sideways to prevent them from any further action this round, just being a giant turd, the usual. The third and final option is to Pass. Once you pass, however, you are out for the remainder of the round, so choose wisely, as it might be better to tread water for a turn or two just to prevent a total eclipse from your enemies. That’s it! That’s the entire game! Influence, Ability, Pass, and once every player has passed, a new round will begin, flipping over any face down characters that are now touching a revealed character from any side or corner. The full board is usually revealed at the second round, as there’s really just one layer of hidden people between you and the Distinct Personality.
So, yes, I had to Influence the Jester for my reputation to be upheld. Andrew selected his newest Right Hand Man, a guy that could use his ability to place tokens (and thus claim ownership) on a huge swatch of characters in the place. Not all at once, but still, that’s doubling his action economy right there when it comes to controlling characters! I was silly and chose to ignore this for some reason.
The first round of this game is always very, very quick, as your options are incredibly limited at the start. With only your own character under your control, you really can only Influence once and use your ability and the ability of the character you gained that round before passing. Ignacio has a passive ability to draw tokens from characters he controls to himself, allowing him to re-influence the same character over and over again if he chose to while still depleting his stash of tokens for victory, drop out of contention if a character is in Confict (has tokens from multiple players at once, thus unable to be used by anyone), or more clever things I didn’t think of. As such, I...started to fall behind right then and there.
Andrew used the ability of his Right Hand to gain control over another character around himself, and that character used her ability to place a token, and that new guy chose to put the second character I’d gained via the Jester into Conflict, making him useless to me. By the end of the round, Andrew controlled his initial set of three surrounding characters while I had the one.
The second round began, most of the board fully flipped up at this point, and my feeling very behind, as I still had only the two characters, one of them being myself, and a huge collection of tokens yet to spend with only a single active ability, too. Since whoever has the most tokens left in their pool gets to go first every round (which isn’t something I wanted in this game, actually), I tried to spread my Influence fast and loose, getting the Troubadour under my wing. Andrew continued to Right Hand Man his way to full exhaustion, as this character could only claim stake on those people immediately surrounding him. Still, that was killer! Frankly, the rest of his crew wasn’t that important, as the fast start fast talker really helped speed him into first place.
Through a comedy of errors on my part, the second round ended with Andrew having 17 of 18 tokens on the board, me with at least a dozen left to go.
Third round, I try and stake claim to the Distinct Personality. Knowing that Andrew could place all his tokens easily and I couldn’t catch up yet, I needed to stall by either getting into Conflict or controlling the Distinct Personality, or at the very least keep it in contention. It did work for a turn or two, but I fell behind in action economy and couldn’t hold my claim for long, having my token dismissed through some courtesan or somesuch. Thus, by the end of the third round, Pierre had all his Influence on the board while Ignacio still had about half to go!
Congratulations Judge Pierre and Andrew! You have squashed me within thirty minutes! And that’s from set up and game description to end!
What’s best about this particular game was how I might have been on the back leg the entire time, but I made poor decisions that kept me there. It’s true I was surrounded by characters that diverged from my own core personality, but my focus was too much on that instead of what the people I could easily influence could actually do for me. My focus was on entirely the wrong thing, and I paid dearly for it (and quickly!). It would have been possible for me to remove Pierre’s claim on that Right Hand, slowing down his initial onslaught, or I could have turned his key character’s, forcing him to waste some of their potential by using their abilities quickly before Influencing or risk them being unable to do anything at all. I had options that were clearer and clearer as I dug my own hole for an inevitable loss and I chose to ignore them. As such, Andrew’s growing army play easily took me over.
I loved it. This was probably only the first or second time I could say I had legitimate fun playing this game, and a low has to do with the more interesting B set of characters being new and just more full of opportunity and less scripted runs than that initial A set. I will always have a soft spot for the florist though, as her ability always made me laugh. You could use her to send flowers to anyone in the the town, ask her to specifically lace them with something and watch as the recipient just falls asleep for the round. Hilarity!
Next time, Gadget.
Game the Second: Aeon's End: War Eternal
Our first game against the Umbra Titan, me leading with Yan Magda (AKA David Bowie) and Andrew with Gex, the mystical deck thinner extraordinaire (which was a delightful counter to Magda’s ability to thicken everyone’s decks with not-trash if she can open her breaches fast enough).
Our setup granted us a surprising amount of Charge options, and we took them. Both of us had core abilities that we really wanted to see going, and I opted to take Magda for a supportive journey, opting to focus on my breaches first and foremost, using her unique spell to ping damage at whatever I could while doing so, even tossing an extra Spark here and there just to use the slots I’m opening up, since I largely couldn’t afford Charges, Focus, AND new toys beyond Gems. Naturally, my favored Gem granted a Charge to an Ally.
Gex was fed into the powerhouse of the army, buying spells and gadgets on her own, favouring the Gem that was placed on top of her deck to both keep her discard pile open to her destruction and/or guarantee money for her next turn. We had a two-breach spell, Sage’s Brand, I think, that became our primary focus.
Throughout play, we thought it best to just eat up whatever pain Titan wanted to dish out rather than have it spend those precious few Destruction tokens. Once we ran out of those initial 8, we were done for, and I doubt there was any way to replenish them. So, we often took damage, mostly to Magda, since Gex’s ability gave out slight heals on top of everything else. Gravehold took hits. Everything took hits, basically. Who cares if Gravehold has only five life if it’s still alive? No one. Sorry, Gravehold, but you are nothing more than a resource to me now.
As we phase into the second set of Nemesis cards, however, Titan flares up into a giant turd of a villain! Now it is regularly removing tokens if we don’t jump through hoops, has a couple minions that just hammer on us hard (if we don’t remove tokens, of course) and we seem to often have to lose our spells in order to not get killed through token removal or Gravehold suffering. Still, Yan Magda was able to open all her breaches, leading to her ability coming out full force and fairly often. Now, when her turn comes up in a round, she can reliably steal any card form the reserve AND add any card from the reserve to the top of Gex’s deck! Why Sage’s Brand, did you say you wanted to be in literally every hand of Gex for the rest of the game? So be it! I am Yan Magda, Giver of Dreams!
We move into the third phase, carefully choosing which minions to kill with our Sage’s Brands if they would cause too much destruction if we left them alive, as we could never win if we actually tried to keep the board empty. Basically, if we had a strong, 8+ damage turn, it felt wasteful and silly to not toss all of is at Titan, since that is the one defeat that matters. Boy, does Titan love losing his tokens faster and faster, though! By this point, he was at about half, two of the eight we opted to lose to prevent our spells from getting taken away and putting us too far on the back foot.
Of course, Umbra Titan felt we were having too easy a go (both of us nearly at exhaustion practically all the time with Mage Killer and with something like thirty damage left to go before victory) and gave us a strict timer in a very healthy minion (over 10 HP I think) that guaranteed one token removed every single time the Umbra Titan’s turn came around.
We had exactly two full rounds before we’d lose. Thanks, Titan.
At this point, we had no choice but to take very punishment the Umbra Titan chose to dish out, because tokens were no longer even a distant option. We could not afford under any circumstance to lessen our few turns remaining any further. The round closes out, Magda gifting Gex one more Brand while she burns through more of her Gems to have a leaner deck and see their immediate use, and the Titan getting within our kill range.
One problem with our lives was how Yan Magda wasn’t able to guarantee damage on her turns. It was mostly over other turn she’d have some firepower, but between, she was all about the purchase power. Originally this was intentional, but as the game wore on, it became problematic, and I couldn’t figure out how to change up her deck with the limited time remaining. So, really, Gex was our everything for the final round.
We needed to go two times before Umbra Titan could go even once. Thanks to his minion friend burning through those destruction tokens, there was but one remaining by this round. And by we, I really meant Gex. Magda couldn’t further our victory at this point with her thick, clumsy deck. She did her job well, speeding through those breaches and gifting the art of magic to her new protégée.
Gex went first, did what she always did, namely dealing chunks of damage to Umbra Titan while I cheered her on. Then it was my turn, and I did practically nothing but cycle my deck. This was the moment, team. If Gex didn’t go right now, it was probably over.
But Gex did go next. And we won, beating Umbra Titan on our first try with our loss mere cards away. Yay!
Aeon’s End is a good, interesting game, and I generally like that it often ends in a tight race. It doesn’t feel that great however, during that last round. The final round, the one you know will be the end of the game, can sometimes feel weak and crappy, because you are completely relying on the turn order deck to flip your way. If it does, you win. If not, you lose. It isn’t always the best feeling in the world. I’m sure more careful and nuanced play can sway things much further in your direction, possibly completely eliminating this feeling of everything falling the the final flip of the cards, but it can be a pain in the butt when we build up our engines just as we want them, have everything in sight, then lose just because the enemy got first go one round. Still, we’re winners, so screw you, Aeon’s End!
What I found interesting was our history of struggling with the Carapace Queen, a Nemesis that the internet claimed the easiest thing since buying sliced bread (over slicing it yourself with your huge bread knives, remember), to beating Umbra Titan our first go (not resoundingly, but still). Just...curiosity. Are we just getting better at things, or is it just the cards? The world may never know. But, we do set up for Blight Lord next! He’s beaten us before! We might have since beaten him, but I can’t remember. Still, he’s next on the docket, and we will continue to never, ever play the Carapace Queen again.
Game the Third: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Continuing with our exploration of the Streets of Arkham expansion, we opt to play Gangs of Arkham, leaving the third and most mysterious for when we and V get together again. Unless we play it before. Still, we’d play it with him. I mean, it’s only January. I think. Oh my.
Gangs of Arkham! Playing! Now!
Enter Finn Edwards and Gloria Goldberg. And I wasn’t even playing Gloria this time! Finny seems like the perfect character, much like Gloria, so I’m happy with this set up forever. He’s surprisingly low on Strength and Agility, but he’s handsome and a bootlegger, so I can’t hold it against him. Being able to move a free space before or after activiating a question mark is too good to pass up!
So this game opened with me failing to roll dice well (what else is new) and being put into a sour mood because of it. We quickly decided that I would take Finn toward the victim’s room while Gloria went outside and began a wider investigation. Even though the game seems to enjoy sticking together, it is absolutely impossible to actually do without running out of time, so splitting up is the only answer, and it can be disheartening.
I pick a lock (I do that a lot in this game, mind) waltz in, look at junk, and have a good time. Later, I look at stuff, free move away, and have an even better time schmoozing with a lady cop wearing crappy shoes. This may or may become important later.
Gloria, meanwhile, sees a gangster and immediately shoots him in the face, killing him. This was, like, turn two. Gloria resorts to murder within the first few turns. She’s a great literary achiever. After her bloodlust is sated, she heads to a diner and chats up a waitress for what seems like forever, learning pretty much everything about the case right then and there.
[Satan was also in the diner! You know Satan, right? That guy in the black suit that is always in shadow no matter where he is, rocking the red gloves and often asking for Agreements? Yeah, he’s there!]
Over the course of our investigation, after the diner and victim’s room felt properly tied up, we split up further, Finn choosing to go to the Curiosity Shoppe and following a strange man, and Gloria going straight to their HQ, probably with more guns. Because she’s crazy. Through the next few turns, I somehow get teleported beyond Time and Space as the Shoppe disappears due to the shop owner seeing someone in the street and freaking out (I like to think she can just shrink it into her designer bag and freely pulls it out whenever she sees an alley wide enough to support it). I choose to exist just outside the now nonexistent door and laugh. And I pursue Lu Bu around the corner before being distracted by another lone gunman (not Gloria this time) upsetting a Russian lady trying to sell her wares in a bazaar. I kill him with magic! Finn has been rather bookish this game, somehow.
With time running out, I sprint to the meeting place door where Lu Bu has been crawling toward this whole time, and using my finesse and complete control over my motor functions, fall on my face in the front door and cause a beastie to appear and kill everyone while I stand around being ineffectual until the board clears to the other side. Wee. Gloria, meanwhile, pays dearly for her earlier gun fanaticism, taking a 5 Strength punch to the old lady face. Then she has a very short chat with the sub-leader of on of the gangs in question, black eye and all.
Then we switch out the board for something a little more outside!
People are bloody everywhere. They are brightly coloured and seemingly useless, so I play hopscotch with a little girl and become more sane than I’ve ever been in my life. Then I approach an apartment complex to further investigations I know nothing about since Gloria was the one doing everything involving this information before.
Gloria sees a child selling papers and attempts to make her way through his secret door, probably brandishing her dual pistols spinning around her fingers, alternating down her whole hand as he 4’10” frame towers over his little newsboy hat by at least three inches. It doesn’t work. But then it does! Dice!
Naturally, because I’m Finn Edwards and get free movement with tokens, I use it to find out information everyone is very much well away of by this time, and then scare an old lady by picking her lock (this is, like, the third lock I’ve picked today, and it won’t by my last) before going on to the meat and potatoes of my mission here, which coincidentally is the apartment of Bad-Shoes-Lady-Cop. Mysterious. Also puppies! Starving puppies. It is exactly this moment that we officially don’t like Lady Cop with the Bad Shoes.
Gloria makes it into the secret hideout, playing around with paper boys, printing presses, more young boys. She’s basically Jenny Barnes without any of the hang ups regarding her lost sister. It’s hilarious. And, because it’s Mansions of Madness, around this time something randomly bursts into flame! Yay. Guess how long we ignore it? If you guessed the entire game, you were right! Honestly, if a fire is happening in this game and it becomes larger than a single turn can quell it, it is not worth trying. Just...don’t. Since you can place the new fire as it spreads, make it as useless as possible and it will almost always leave you alone! Again, yay. Thanks, mystical fires that always happen for no reason and lead to nothing but misery on the part of your players!
I find books, learn to read better than any dog hating Lady Cop ever could, and am so full of incriminating evidence that it’s almost comical, since Finn has proven again and again at being unable to walk in a straight line without falling onto or into something. So, naturally, we toss the baton again, communicating telepathically so I can continue Gloria’s investigation at the magic shoppe while she interrogates more people and shoots anything that moves differently than humans.
Be-de-bum! Plot twist! The rival gangs are now in the same board layout! That newsboy that Gloria intimidated/flirted with (using guns, obviously) has been taken hostage and the answers are all coming to us in visions! Lady Cop is a Bad Guy (shock!) and we need to beat the Bad Guy out of her before it’s too late and the gangs get too close together! With their guns! It’s around this point that I wonder if Gloria isn’t even walking anymore, as the whole scenario is surrounded by guns and she can just float slightly above ground with her elation alone.
Finn, being the bookish type, convinces the magic shoppe owner that Bad Things are happening and gains access to her rear room where he can make an antidote. We need to get this to Lady Cop Not-Werewolf and possibly beat it into her until she stops moving. Things are a bit fuzzy, to be honest. But, with Gloria bravely standing in front of everything, shooting away and pinging the HP down on the Not-Werewolf, things seem to be going that direction.
I finish the antidote, walk outside, and then the both of us, Gloria and Finn, beat the dog-hating snot out of the Not-Werewolf-formerly-known-as-Lady-Cop. It works! Antidotes are best applied by vigorously and repeatedly stabbing them into your target, as all of the doctors among us know.
Honestly, while the story isn’t anything special (and is it ever with Mansions?), this was a lot of good fun to go through. We basically know the twists and turns before the game does, but following a tried and true plot can still be fun when we have the various bits and bobs to investigate before things take their inevitable course. This is one of the longer scenarios, taking us 2.5 hours total from set up to end, but I enjoyed it for the most part. How much of that is the bumbling bookish Finn and the gun-totaling mad woman Gloria? Who knows, but it definitely didn’t hurt. We crafted a story with this one, and as such, we had a pretty good time.
Streets of Arkham is thus far a very enjoyable ride, with two out of two scenarios so far being good, fun times, with only a bit of misery here and there (namely fire being stupid).
[Actually, fire is so boring and uninteresting, we’ve made a soft alteration to the rules just to make it less obnoxious. We allow ourselves to use the Extinguish action whenever the heck we want, saving those successes for when we run into fire, instead of wasting the entire turn in a game that doesn’t allow you to waste turns at all just to walk from one place to another...on fire.]
Game the Fourth: Gloomhaven
SPOILERS ahoy! Spoilers on scenarios, on characters, on whatever!
#53 Crypt Basement
As far as chapters that require us to last a certain number of rounds, this one felt easy. That’s not really a complaint at all, and it might have something to do with having at least one character that isn’t at all squishy and more than able and willing to stand firm in a very small area and draw all the ire while the other rushes about, living the invisible life when needed and grabbing the goods.
And that’s exactly what we did! Alms stood tall and proud while the Sceptor or whatever we were looking for continued to apparently exist. We...might not have paid rapt attention here. At least my notes don’t note any story elements, and my memory is so poor that I could definitely never work as a pick-up guy in the mafia. Not that I’d want to, of course. And I definely don’t do it niw. Definitely. Nor have I ever.
Anyway, with Alms boosting her defenses and tanking like a pro (and dishing out hard hits as well, since her defense boost is a passive awesome buff after it’s played, forever) we were able to stay quite healthy while doors opened every other round to introduce more enemies at us. Knowing that the number of Baddies was finite, we chose to systematically take them out instead of spreading the pain, as one enemy off the board was one less enemy that would never get replaced! We attacked and defeated at least one enemy a round, often whichever might cause Catharsys the most pain. Really, the Spirits or Demons weren’t a problem, though the Night thingies did like to flounce about threateningly, and if we had been in range during any of their particularly angry turns, bad things might have happened.
So we sat and we waited, and eventually a room opened that had presents for us. Yeah. Treasure. The most important of things for adventurers like us. I’m pretty sure this is a character trait of my very own which passes onto any and every character I play (even if I’m not a money-grubbing priest, seeking coin and treasures for the further glory of whatever chosen deity is my fancy this week!), but I must have treasure when I see it. If I am willing to pass over treasure just to finish things, we can safely guess that I’m pissed (Etrian Odyssey) or bored (most final dungeons).
Thus began the epic tale of Catharsys and the Guarded Treasure! This thing popped up on turn 8, and by the end of turn 10, the game would be over, whether we got it or not, and Catharsys made it his duty (particularly with my defenses out, lowering Alm’s movement...and her being on the opposite side of the board, tanking like a champ) to ensure we’d have new shinies.
His first plan is to just rush in and fly to the goods, but a surprisingly quick skeleton walked right into the door, making that a dud. So, he swapped plans, poisoning the Bloated Body and destroying it with his Blessing of the Plague (these are not real names, I don’t think, but they sound nice, don’t they?) before utilizing the very last of the turns on offer to swoop to the chest and claim it. It was beautiful.
In order to ensure our dual retirement, we still needed to return to town after each of these fights, so Catharsys could visit the Oak of Blessings. Assuming we didn’t lose any fights, everything should be perfect aligned!
#54 Palace of Ice
So we acquired whatever it was that we needed, namely the Sceptor of Xorn (since Alms is the Seeker of Xorn, you see) and continued on toward the final mission for Alms and Catharsys. This place had a big Beat the Boss vibe to it, but there wasn’t a boss fight at all. In fact, it was intriguingly light on enemies! After tackling the front hallway, we entered the only other room to discover the ‘twist’ of this scenario, namely that the Seeker of Xorn is the only party member that can finish this scenario.
Granted, I had to look ahead in order to not immediately lose this scenario, since the Staff of Xorn is pretty much completely useless for Alms to actually use in combat, seeing as her ranged attack options are uncommon and don’t need the extra statuses since the target is probably dead, and the ability to Poison with her dagger AND reduce damage with her shield was FAR AND AWAY better than the one-off status from the Staff of Xorn, but what can you do? If I hadn’t read ahead like that, we would have immediately lost the scenario right then and there, since I don’t think we can rummage through our knapsacks whenever we wanted.
So, Alms has a goal, which is namely to gain energy for Xorn into the staff, through the Plagueherald’s life force or some such. Damage them, gain charges for the staff, go to the place and win the game. Easy! Alms saddles up, plugs up the gaping hole between pillars that screams for a tank, and allows Catharsys to boop the non-heralds out of existence and then...do whatever he wants, since only the staff bearer can do anything to the Heralds, and having them run away from Alms would just elongate the chapter needlessly.
Want to know how awesome Alms is when she is serious about her goals? It took something like three attacks to completely charge the staff, thanks to the Oak’s blessing and her natural crit chance. Eight charges times two hits, plus her first blood attack earlier finished up everything she needed to do (and one of the Heralds, naturally) and she just used her Boots of Jumping to leap onto the altar and snag a victory!
But victory can mean so many different things to people. The power she sought wasn’t exactly what she expected when it finally came to her. Her eyes were opened to the Xorn, the Plague. Though her dream to have this knowledge, it proved too much even for her and Almsthrya officially and totally died without being able to do any of the usual to-do before retirement. But, from her twisted, enlightened body, another Plagueherald was born, one with the vitality of Alms and the ingenuity of the Plague. I’d like to think she’s happy, if a bit surprised.
Returning to town (with Alms replacement in tow, from the shadows, naturally), Catharsys wraps things up with the Oak, and both he and Neo Alms walk off into the sunset, both ensorcelled with the other’s Truth, continuing to lead lives full of enlightenment and happiness. Such beauty!
Meet the new cast of Devery Day Gloomhaven!
Ime the Aester Nightshroud. After seeing the earnest path Alms and Catharsys walked by the Palace of Ice, he followed Catharsys back to Gloomhaven, searching for everything and nothing at the same time. Largely impassive, he lives to experience whatever this world can give him. Any knowledge is worth knowing, the more forbidden the better.
Draethan the (human) Sawbones. Thought confusingly named (thanks Andrew!), Draethan is one to rely on, as a possibly more focused Alms. He takes to the supporting role easier than anyone, and upon meeting the mysterious Nightshroud, chooses to accompany him on his search for knowledge around the continent, happy to have the chance to meet others and help wherever he can.
#33 Savvas Armoury
That being said, neither of these guys are above loot! Knowing little about the Savvas but having information enough on his clip board to want more, Ime and Draethan head to the place most likely to see many of them together at once. Armories. Let’s do it!
This scenario had a very tough time limit for us. It might be due to our choosing to start out each of our characters at level 2 instead of the allowable level 5, but we felt the crushing hands of time the entire scenario, even stretching things a bit to not outright lose immediately. So, perhaps a good chunk is our lack of familiarity with our new bodies, but we were strapped from the word Go.
See, the goal is to Loot four treasure chests while guards stream from the exit, then, y’know, get out. That’s a long time! We chose to defeat the few enemies on the way, which might be the wrong idea, since by the time the final room was opened and the first chest looted, we were both very low on cards, the exit too far for both of us to even get to. We didn’t even lost any for sweet boosts! With just the two of us, and Ime opting to not keep his Loot card he probably has somewhere, getting four treasure tiles and then leaving was a big ask. Maybe if we had two. Maybe.
So, we let Draethan focus on the treasure (what he loves most, perhaps?) while Ime ran back toward the exit, fighting the reinforcements from the shadows, using his abilities to enshroud himself in Darkness, stealing a target into the shadows with him, probably lost forever. It’s a living. Well, likely not for whoever is dragged away..but...I’m a good person!
Even with our silly, cheating plan of basically leaving Draethan in the treasure room to exhaust while Ime made for the exit, we still only barely finished. In fact, I think we totally cheated it, adding up all our little stretches. Still, we finished, technically, and I’m running with it, because reasons. Who wants to fail their first time out? No one. Especially not Draethan and Ime, two talented men-things that deserve the very best.
Hard times, man! Hard times.
We did things! And they were fun! Even with our questioning motives, I’d say this was a wonderful week for us, gaming wise. Hoopla!
Unrelated, but the other media I’ve been eating up lately has been none other than anime, and with our subscription coming to a close in December for Crunchyroll, I’ve been trying to burn through a truly wonderful (thus far) show called Hunter x Hunter. These little boys are so adorable, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever been rooting for a protagonist more! So cute. So earnest. Such a blistering childhood! Oh, I just want to hug them until they lose consciousness and then leave them in a snow drift or something. I’d be such a good father.
But, we’ve done things, I’ve written about them...and now we conclude. That is the way of our weeks, is it not? I’m rambling. What else is new?
Fare well, dear friends! Keep your homes and gaming patterns bright and ready for landing! Away we go, into another week. A good one, no? Yes. Always. More anime.
Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:16 pm
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
It’s Thanksgiving, I’m pretty sure! What a delight! Now there’s an excuse to eat turkey for a week and...love thy neighbor or something. I’m not the best at being American, but we can all be thankful for games, because they bring the joyness when both of us can be home for a full extended weekend. Oh, golly, am I glad to have one of these! I might have come off as rather terse or tense last week, but now we’ve freedom and home time and everything is coming up roses.
The last week’s festivities were, naturally, significantly better than my dark little mind expected! Lovely people, lovely food, and enough company to play Werewolf properly (though these kids take to Mafia theming instead, which is just dandy as well)! Wyatt is still a perfect puppy, and having a good time with strangers makes me wonder (as usual) why I get so uncomfortable and freaky leading up to such gatherings. Mysteries. We’re all damaged, so Veronica would tell me.
Anyway, seeing as we were in Indy for a day or two, we stopped by the best Game Preserve has to offer and did a Bad Thing. The place was teeming in copies of Mansions of Madness: Streets of Arkham, and now we have a copy too, even if I’m still unsure if the value has been returned on our current collection of that game, particularly with our not using a good chunk of the materials such as miniatures. Oh, the life and trials of a gamer!
Game the First: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Speaking of our Bad Thing, we played the very next day. Astral Alchemy was the scenario, with my Wilson Richards assisting and being assisted by Marie Lambeau. Short story: We liked it! Long, possibly spoilery story follows.
I like being the handyman. I don’t think I’ve played him before, but just the title is pleasing. Regardless, it put me on good footing with the guard wandering the grounds, teleporting around like a Cultist but totally not being one (I think). Knowing that it’s helpful to stick together in this game but knowing that it is impossible to actually have a chance of victory, we split up immediately, both ecountering the guard within a turn of each other. He can teleport. Totally not evil. Still.
Marie looked at him and smiled so hard that he became uncomfortable and fell over himself trying to please her, which was humorous enough, and Wilson just played it straight, barely getting what he wanted after the whole rigmarole. We can manipulate people to do as we please and/or break rules and laws! Success!
One thing this scenario wants you to know is that Improvements exist in this expansion. From the very word go, we both saw our stats increase, and then regularly throughout the scenario we had little choice but to eat up potions and tonics and books that increased even more of them. Honestly, it was almost silly. I think each of us quickly gained three Improvements, then kept around that number while we gained and lost them through Mythos events and whatnot. Silliness. I do very much enjoy being able to shore up weakness, though, or make the strengths all the better. In a game where action resolution is on the dull side and characters are only slightly different from one another in any given challenge, any little bit helps.
So we sneak around this university, helping a crazy lady with her science, and find a wonderful amount of puzzles to solve throughout! Not, like actual puzzles to figure out with clues given by the game, but pretty much one of every puzzle mini game implemented by the app! I liked it. Short Mastermind puzzles and a couple sliders (with different picture than usual, even!) and the new stacking one. I like these more than just...being in the right place at the right time, I guess? At least it grants something to do to earn the next piece.
One thing that is a rare thrilling moment are monsters. They crowd around and slow you down, since killing them usually takes two actions and we are rarely close enough to each other to help in any capacity due to needing the be everywhere at once to not lose to time. Marie, however, is specially made to make monsters less a pain, as she can cast any spell for free at the start of her turn, and since we’re never together to benefit from the support spells, she can blast away at whatever without cutting into her turn better used for exploration! It’s a delight. Plus, if her turns get cut in half due to Stun or Daze or whatever, she still gets her free spell, so happy times abound! Basically, even though she only had a few corpses at her feet throughout, Marie was a beautiful slayer. It was lovely.
Otherwise, we abused monster movement and fire to deal with everything else. Sure, when things spawned on my face and we’re too fast to warrant running, I shot them with my guns, but otherwise, with a large portion of the grounds aflame, opted to let them eat through their own HP while we danced about them for a bit, finishing our other duties for Crazy Science Woman. I’m sure everyone had a name in this game. Everyone usually does.
We are true heroes, running from fights and backhanding Crazy Science Ladies for constantly asking us to fetch and return, endlessly! Way to go us!
By the end (which was surprisingly sudden and not at all a lie, which I’ve come to expect), Marie won all by her lonesome, even though we was Wounded very early on, as Wilson went mad a turn before the end and picked up an Insanity condition not possible to fulfill within the remaining time. So...I technically lost. But I’ll just get counseling or something.
Fun romp! While we complain in game, once concluded, we had a good time, thanks in no small part to the small map and having combat not be the primary focus, giving us the chance at least to maneuver around them instead of everything plopping right on our faces every bloody time. Success!
Game the Second: Deckscape: The Fate of London
London is fine. You’re welcome. We saved it in about and hour twenty, complete with bickering and staring blankly at everything in front of us for longer than anyone would think necessary.
This is another try at escape rooms in a deck of cards, and overall it was fine. The core issue we had with it was finding the solutions to the puzzles in ways they didn’t intend. The twist in this game is that every puzzle can only be tried once, since once flipped, you either keep that resounding success or tally up a fail and unlock it anyway since the answer is right in front of you now. We opted to play in such a way that if one of us decided on an answer, he’d check it out and if he was wrong, the other player could still try it out. We preferred it that way, as it left us with only two fails that were wiped away later anyway for reasons and gave us longer with the system, namely over an hour.
So...not to ruin anything from the game, since it is very much a one and done item, I can say we liked it well enough, but the Exit series remains the best in our house. Exit, being the only set we know that has you manipulating the components, really utilized multiple ways of thinking, enhancing the experience with ‘out of the box’ ideas and thought processes required to prevail.
Here, as alluded to previously, there is one hard and fast solution, with one shot at any and all questions. We occasionally came to our own conclusions, were right, but not at all in the way the game wanted. It always felt weird, and when the answer was revealed with work differing from our own, it wasn’t the best of impressions, making us wonder how exactly we were supposed to connect those dots with none of that information seemingly being there.
Still, it’s a fine option, though less likely to be great with too many players. The cards are large, but I can’t imagine six players crowding around it. We had two and were in each other’s way!
Deckscape. It’s good, not great. Better than Unlock, which we have strong negative feelings toward. Worse than Exit, which asked us to open up more than we’d originaly assumed we had to.
And that’s that! We will definitely continue our weekend on cloud nine, possibly retiring twice in Gloomhaven, pushing deeper into our other regular systems. Maybe breaking into a game I’ve owned for years and never played (though that list is thankfully getting smaller) time and again! We shall see. For one, we have a mission by the end of the night: Acquire a second PlayStation 4 controller. For reasons. We have our lives to lead!
Thanks muchly for taking the time to read this continued nonsense, as it can be fun to blab on and on to my tablet. Hellia is hanging around, too, watching her uncle unload boxes in the Shame Room as we attempt to be adults and declutter. We are amazing at this.
Until next time, game on!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
I postponed this post in the vain hopes we might get up the gumption to actually play something these past two days. That didn’t happen. What I can tell you we did instead is equally as exciting, however! My husband did dishes while I baked some zucchini bread and then began typing this very message. Yeah, we are wild, untamed souls, ready to part-ay with the best of them! Even now, my cat is licking her feet like a rock star (legs extended straight ahead and bedroom eyes) on top of two enormous boxes packed with games that will no longer be with us (thank goodness). She’s a part of our highway to Hell!
This coming weekend, tomorrow in fact, we’ll be jettisoning off to Indianapolis for an early Thanksgiving celebration with...practically everybody we know thanks to a pal of ours who is much more enthused about humanity and socializing with it. He’s a very good man, one to be trusted with most things. Plus, as payment for getting out of the house and speaking with humans, we get to pet the puppy Wyatt, a Siberian Husky, which is coincidentally my favourite breed. Oh, dear puppy, I love you so. I’m willing to deal with humans for an entire evening, just for you! And some of the humans. I mean, I really like a good hand full of them. Though maybe my husband doesn’t count. Hmm...
Regardless, this is the post now. Us just chatting away about our lack of social graces. It’s always a treat, no? I am surprised at how my ability to deal with other people has faded. After getting away from food and retail jobs, the need to please people has all but evaporated from my will. I can live in awkward silences with only the vaguest pittance of discomfort. Sure, my inner guilt is through the roof, but I’ve come to expect that at all times anyway, so why should it bother me more now? It’s not so easy nowadays to keep up conversation, and starting it is simply right out. Unless we have a decided topic on hand, directly between us, silence will usually be my answer. I’m like a ninja, but without any of the cool ninjutsu and more of the shadow sulking and staring.
I live in the darkness around corners. You may feel a presence, but I am not there. My pupils are always large, to extend my vision through the secrets of the room. My knowledge is vast, my words few. Seldom does one seek me out from the gathering, as I can fade into any background as a chameleon that desperately wants to not interact.
Gosh, I sure am awesome. No wonder there are no parties until I arrive!
So, yes. We will be on the road tomorrow, hanging out and possibly getting some games to a table, at the very least Sentinels, because Sentinels. We’ve bred a pretty decent group of individuals through high school, let me tell you.
Recently the hubby and I went through our game collection again, mostly focused on the living area where we have our ready-to-play shelf full to the brims with games and junk, hoping to weed out the less than popular options and clear the area around the dining chair that unceremoniously became the dump site for various boxes that may or may not contain gaming material in them at the time. The only game allowed to take up residence outside the shelf or the shame hole is Gloomhaven, which still lives on the table, ready and waiting alongside my painting supplies. Our sorting was pretty successful, as we have indeed freed up that chair space for actual chair action, opting to perform an Evil Deed and clear out the coat closet top shelf of the...nothing but trash, really, and using the new space as our middle of the road games. Those that we enjoy, but will basically never jump to and won’t be requested of us any time soon. It’s a sacred place, full of those games that just need a touch more love to hit the table. Or those that we’ve yet to play even though we’ve owned them for months or years. The usual.
Otherwise, my current project is the continuing attempts to paint the Arcadi Quest heroes, having finished the core set a billion moons ago and just now venturing into Inferno and their lot. The neutral set is concluded, so we have cool cats like Saryia hanging around the house, and now we’ve moved on to the purples, where the likes of Hellen reside. Let me say that the purple faction has been a huge pain in the butt, as I have just the one purple pot of paint and need to constantly mix up lighter tints and darker shades to keep some sort of balance in these dumb characters, made awful by the simple fact that my purple pot refuses to actually dispense paint anymore, so I need to break in from the top and splash paint all over my fingers for any success. It can be a very exciting time at the painting well, friends. Very exciting indeed! But! We are almost through with this second batch, which will put us at a solid third of the way through? Maybe? I can’t quite remember if the last grouping (red) has twenty thousand or not. There are probably a good huge lot in red. Arcadia Quest sure does love its red. Especially in Inferno. Ugh.
So what else have I been up to? Well...we did a Bad Thing and picked up more Eldritch Horror, this time a big box so we could keep everything together more easily, and Andrew’s call for the Egyptian theme won out over my Dreamy one due to our FLGS only having the single option. Not that I’m not looking forward to breaking through with Nephran-Ka, but Gloria will be calling to me for the next forever through the Dreamlands. And Nyarlthotep is coming! How can you not be charmed by that?
Though that brings up an interesting discussion that I probably won’t discuss right now. Why is it that every game and its mother feels the need to shoe horn in a campaign system nowadays? It’s getting ridiculous, as not everything needs to chain together from play to play. In fact, many, if not most games simply weren’t developed with such an idea in mind and they tend to falter when those ideas try and work their way in, far too late for true success. I’d love to play the same game multiple times just as much as anybody, but I’d hate to NEED to play the same game multiple times in order to get the full experience, particularly when that game is so wonderful as a one off experience and doesn’t need the extra baggage at all that a campaign requires. For us, we have the long sanding Gloomhaven and the short spurt Arcadia Quest for campaign goodness. Too Many Bones, Eldritch Horror, Aeon’s End, those all excel at the single play, making it a confusing venture to ask them to limit themselves while you build up yourself and the party through multiple sessions instead of the prescribed one. I am confusion. It’s late. I’m cranky.
Something that doesn’t make me cranky however is reading! This past weekend I read myself into a brain anueristic coma, burning through the first half of The Kingkiller Chronciles book two (by Patrick Rothfuss) in a day thanks in no small part to airplanes being naturally boring after the wonder of clouds has gone. Boy, is it a good read! The current section I’m reading regarding a particular lady Fae has been going on for longer than I could ever think necessary, almost ambling along at this point, but I will be very sad when it is all over and I join the rest of the world in their seemingly endless wait for the final chapter in the Chronicles. I believe in you, Mr Rothfuss, and there’s no way I’ll be disappointed, however it ends. Heck, I even read Auri’s mini book in Crawfordsville to pass the time between shows and rehearsals in Indiana however long ago! I’ve got you, buddy. Here’s a hug from all of us! All of us being just me, I guess. And my cat, but she probably wouldn’t think highly of this idea. Sorry. Nothing personal. She just is dismissive of most people other than me. It’s endearing!
Well...that is...the week, in a nutshell. I guess. Ahem. Thanks for hanging out with me on this most blog-y of posts? It can be fun to sit at a keyboard and just type out your stream of thought for several agaonizing minutes. This is the result, as we go through yet another week of no gaming, ever. It’s a sad, dark time, my friends. At least we could take the time to touch most of the games as we reorganized them, though. That’s meaningful somehow.
Thank you, dear hearts, for reading through this week’s Day! ‘Til next time, I shall bid thee adieu and the like!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
We played two games this week. Granted, they were Gloomhaven and Too Many Bones, so quality wasn’t an issue here, but our quantity surely did decrease. And that’s not a problem. We are warriors here at house Devery-Crow, and our prime nemesis is rock music, properly squashed like glowing square gems reaching a bar of some sort and getting poked with a drum stick.
We may or may not have been playing Rock Band recently. I’m...tickled to have it back in the house, honestly. And it was a steal! The store from which I purchased even threw in Pro Cymbals just because they were taking up stock room space since Black Friday. Sweet.
Ahem. Yes. We’ve played less board games partially due to general business, but also due to video game goodness. And horror. Etrian Odyssey IV’s fifth Stratum is proving a pain in the butt, but as of last night we are officially in the dungeon proper, thank goodness. And my darling mate made the jump into iOS Final Fantasy, picking up the egregiously expensive (but totally worth it because it is the best in the series?) Final Fantasy IX. I love that game, dearly.
But that is neither here nor there, you see, as we talk about board game experiences on this show. And thus, here we are. Just the two of us. I make the assumption that people don’t read blogs in large groups, but what do I know? Maybe there are Devery Day fan pages and fanatical helicopter drop spots when ones of these lands and everyone gathers around with their mugs of cocoa to read out lives of sordid and uncanny disappointment. Games!
Game the First: Gloomhaven
Spoilers abound, because I’m talking about our Gloomhaven experience. Just an FYI. We’re not unreasonable. I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes!
#83, Shadows Within.
Moral of the story? When people ask for your help, you look them square in the eye and you spit on their rotting boots, making sure to get that chunky spittle between their dirty, mold-ridden toes. It is the way of the Truth. You are welcome.
Naturally, choosing to assist the weeping woman led to a nice little fight in a dungeon, complete with Cultists and all. This was a good, clean fight, nothing particularly special or noteworthy about it, honestly. My notes are sparse at best, and this was...many a day ago. I am terrible at this.
Of note was our camaraderie! We had a few potent one-two punches, such as Alms using her Poison Dagger to inflict Poison, followed by Catharsys removing that Baddie by adding it to the Fold. I love these little love birds! Surely not a romantic love they share, and if they did it is completely one sided, but more of an adoration for their ethics and beliefs given by Almsthrya and returned with a cold clicking and soulless stare from the hive that floats an inch from the ground in dark, tattered robes known colloquially as Catharsys. Cute.
One thing I do remember about the scenario was the Cultists sharing in a summoning ritual, as Cultists are wont to do, but our having no ability whatsoever to interfere. Once the Cultists were down, their summoned creature just appeared, no matter how quickly or slowly we dispatched the forces. It felt odd, is all. Still, it’s fine. Everything is fine.
You know what’s super fine? Alms and her Valrath ways of item manipulation. Sure, she doesn’t really have any inherently, since that was her previous guildmate’s hat, but just having the Moon Earrings is excellent. I can freely and happily use whatever items I’ve brought with me without need of a long rest, flip them all into use again with he Moon Earrings, and have a second go! It’s magical, sans any actual magic! It keeps me happy and Alms young. And alive. That’s nice, it is. She does have a tendency (and need) to take all the hits she possibly can from Catharsys, who is about as robust as a moist toilette in a blender.
After our clear and concise victory, we do manage to meet up with Morgan’s newest assistant, which got a squeal of happiness from yours truly, and making it so (I believe) we’ve interacted in some way with every retired character we’ve had up to this point! Quite possibly my favourite aspect of the game is the growing internal community and sense of life that something as simple as a mere mention of your previous efforts makes. So, we meet and greet with this new guy for fun and profit, even being nice to him and all that! See, though we strike an imposing presence, this demon lady and insect god are all about pleasing the people.
With the very real possibility of Catharsys retiring very soon, within three or so scenarios, we decided now was the time to get started on Almsthrya’s retirement quest chain. Thus begins the trials of...
#52: Noxious Cellar
Honestly, I like the idea of this quest, but I do not dig it as a whole. It might have been aided by the enemies immediately and consistently shutting down my first couple turns to the point I stopped caring and just ran for the objective without retreats, but I soured pretty quickly.
Here’s the dig, man. This is one of those quests in cooperative (or semi, technically, yeah, whatever) games that bother me fundamentally, just a bit. Every member of the party is completely sequestered and on their own, no ability whatsoever to join up and reform a party. Everyone needs to capture a treasure tile in order to win the scenario, again, on their own.
Two problems I have initially stem from the required Loot action to achieve the treasure thievery, but that was quickly amended by saying ‘No, thank you. Neither of us even have a Loot card possibly at all but definitely not in our current kit. Let’s just spend a turn on it to pick up, great’ and the forced and awkward separation, such that we all happened to fall into the same general area but with such undeterrable debris that there’s no hope for a regrouping. Sure. Whatever.
Anyway, I dislike cooperative games side tracked by removing almost all cooperative elements. Too Many Bones does this as well sometimes (more to follow, actually) by removing Gearlocs from the battle entirely or Encounters with just one Gearloc participant. In this scenario, the only thing we as a team can do for each other is manipulate the Elemental Thingy, which we in our current party pair can’t even really do, and that’s not much of a boon with us, either. Alms can generate the single element she uses all on her own, thank you. When the players are forcibly separated like this, much of the communication and team work fly out the window, as we both just silently make our selections and wait on the other member since we can’t move on as we’re using the same sets of monsters.
The other problem here is having so many monsters on the board, all taking damage and status ailments and what not, cluttering up, well, everything. Without the two of us working together, enemies aren’t as regularly removed from the board, leading to much more upkeep than I’m willing to go through, made worse by the fact that I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to AI in board games, opting to control pretty much the full of it (such as my playing the villain in Sentinels and all the creatures in Gloomhaven, mostly to ease play for everyone else) when I play, made worse when I have to separate so much of them mentally instead of looking to just a small subsection of the full board layout. There’s suddenly too much going on and (it’s a personal problem, I’m aware) I dislike having another set of hands adding or removing things from the enemies that I’m unaware of the source or reason.
So, after a shoddy opening, I opt to just use my Jumping Boots (I cannot recall their name offhand) and leap over the enemies and traps and utilize the items and Armours I have to prevent immediate death as I’m ganked by most of the tiny board on my side. Frankly, it’s not too hard to do, because Alms is a delightful bit of a tank. Catharsys can fly sometimes, and does so, using his beautiful Invisiilty Cloak to not get killed on his side.
So, after a rather short four or so round scenario, we gather our treasures, look at each other, and give a group ‘Meh’ to everything that happened. I hope the rest of this chain isn’t focused on removing core aspects of the game with nothing to fill the void, but experimental is not bad. It is a very great thing to test the boundaries of the system, but in this venture, I wouldn’t call it a proper success.
One completely side note I have, through, unrelated to this quest as a whole, is just how uneven our Road and City event decks have become. With many of our recent ventures happening in Gloomhaven or being linked together, we’ve been avoiding Road events for a while now, but City events keep on happening. I’m starting to think I’ll run out of the non-core destroy options soon. Made worse that we totally return to town even in this linked scenario system just to keep Catharsys’ retirement goal possible to coincide with Alms’. Granted, we will have to brave the road next time! Just an aside.
Game the Second: Too Many Bones
Here’s our second baby! This is the game in which we try and complete our run of every Tyrant in the base box. Duster vs Nugget and Patches.
If you read my earlier side note in the Gloomhaven tirade, you might recall that I dropped mention that this particular game of Too Many Bones was an odd duck. Well, it was. Quite frankly, I enjoyed my time with this fight plenty, but I actually feel a little bad for that.
You see, Patches, played as usual by my husband (I’ve played him all of once, opening his eyes to the awesome of Buff HP), sat out a sizable chunk of this game, either through death or certain mechanics. It was...odd. Sure, he did his job a couple times of protecting the weaker, squishier Nugget from the big Baddies, but in one particular Encounter, he died early and Nugget ran through the entire fight on her own, pulling a win (after two hypothetical scenarios played out, yes I’m a big cheat right now) that was much needed. Even discounting our victory in that fight and cutting at her initial death, it can be a strange amount of time just cheering from the sidelines and shifting dice on an Initiative track for a dead Gearloc. Still, there can be some involvement, since the tactics are tried and true, and constant in battle.
One of our earlier Encounters was from Duster herself, offering a surprise attack that instantly KO’d our poor Patches before he really had a chance to do much of anything. I don’t think Nugget survived this one, either. The Encounter basically read as: ‘You lose this encounter. Draw another one. Duster laughs at you from afar.’ We were assaulted from behind by a horde of enemies, AND they all had guaranteed first turns with every Gearloc going last (thanks, Surprise!).
Still, we managed to burn through two of Duster’s unique Encounters, one of which involved (well, all of them, really) adorable little wolves, and I look forward to seeing just how Duster’s lovely compatriot functions in game (little baby Snarls!). That’s always a good feeling! Plus, it gives good insight on the Tyrant themselves, which is a rare sight. Not needed at all, as the core gameplay and character building are the main draw. (Side Note: The computer totally auto corrected ‘building’ with ‘cuddling’ when I wrote it with a ‘c’, and I almost kept it because it is completely true.)
Another notable encounter that kept Patches from doing anything was on turn 10, I think, as we faced a 20 Pt Baddie, the Undead Dragon. Naturally, it was a forced one on one fight for three rounds before everyone else can join for whatever reason. Nugget braved solo once again, ensuring the Dragon would die thanks to Bleed, and once Patches did come out, the Dragon did indeed die, came back, tried to kill us both (Nugget laughed and avoided the attack completely with her mad skillz) and then died again. Patches was there, at least, for a turn.
Overall, we didn’t have all that many combat encounters, instead seeing a number of ‘other’ challenges, including but not limited to seeing all our stash get raided by something or other, managing to find a stash of (presumably) our stuff and steal it back, just to have another encounter later about our gear pop up. It was oddly humorous, and I did have to play a dexterity game involving dice arrows and dice trees, so that was nice.
We did eventually make it to the Tyrant fight, ready to face Duster once and for all, and the fundemntal oddness that was this particular game reared its head once again, as Duster kidnapped and removed Patches on her first turn, once again leaving Nugget to fend for herself on a battle mat for the third time? Nugget is incredibly resourceful, so...not the worst, but still. Thankfully, Duster doesn’t bring a huge army with her, opting to make the fight much more akin to a one on one brawl of shadows. Minus the one on either side. Except ours, I guess, after the fact. Sure.
I lowered Duster’s attack stat with my Tinkered Bolo, making her much more manageable against my tiny, feeble, Gearloc arms and defenses, caused the Bleed effect to make my life even easier since it’s like Poison but ever lasting, and making use of her draconic friend’s Engulf ability to deal some damage (or help remove her Defense) while she was untargetable (which was often enough). Add in Longblade, and you have a winning combination so long as the battle boost Nugget gives herself is worthy (and it was, netting her a free health regen every turn to even further offset the lowered damage Duster could do). Tack on more healing with Nugget’s Revitalize Back Up Plan, and we have a slow but steady victory on our hands!
So this game was great fun, but it was basically a solo game with me and Nugget, with sporadic guest support from Patches. It was strange, and, again, I feel a little bad for enjoying it as much as I did while my dead or dying husband Patches sat to the side, wishing he could play, too.
Sometimes it seems that Too Many Bones was made for a solo gamer and then expanded to include more people around the table, so the not-entirely-uncommon-but-usually-not-so-front-loaded character omissions weren’t looked at too harshly. When they all hit in a row, it could leave a less than stellar taste, y’know? Still, Too Many Bones is just one of the most charming tactical battle games and character builders we have, and I’m remiss to turn it down when hubby wants to game. Plus, he likes it! He really likes it!
That’s the week! For the next...rest of this year, it feels like we will be constantly on the move, with familial visits to Carolina, a wedding, not going to PAX Unplugged, visiting a friend or five, etc throughout. That’s...something that will be happening. I can already hear my internal whining about being too far from my snuggly kitty for too long. I mean, look at her. You can’t see her, but she’s adorable, and often my only living comfort within these walls. Just...just love your animals, people.
And with that, I thank you kindly for reading and reviewing my entries on this, the most Devery blog there is on the site. Or elsewhere. I’m pretty sure if I were to Google myself nowadays, most of my theatrical work wouldn’t show up anymore, as so much has probably been removed to the in print archives instead of the limitless expanse of internet. Huh. More BoardGameGeek!
Should I join the Secret Santa this year? We’re thinking yes. Because it’s been a good year. Thanks, guys. You really helped settle my mind. It’s been great talking with you all!
Timothy 'Peachy' Devery
This weekend was wonderful. It was full of friends and food and games and a cat! What more could anyone wish for during this month of fog and light chill? I can probably say it was the best weekend I’ve had for the past couple months. But on with the show!
Game the First: Sentinels of the Multiverse
Naturally, the perfect opening and/or closing to any proper extended game time is Sentinels. It is the everything. So we played it. A few times. Like always. You’re welcome.
— Game 1 —
Citizen Dawn is one of those villains we rarely turn down. And coming from us, where making simple decisions such as with villain to play can take weeks of pre-planning, that’s a good thing. In order to shake things up, we went with an environment most of us were unfamiliar with, Northspar, and jumped straight in!
OmniX, First Response Vanish, and Desperate Prey Naturalist all took up arms (or crocodile teeth as the case may be) against the growing regime of Dawn, meshed between the blazing heat of the Sun and the cold snowy atmosphere of Northspar, where Frozen is a popular keyword (though apparently not popular enough, since we had a Blizzard almost the entire game, which is just fine because we are professional heroes and know when not to complain about nature).
Dawn opened with Spring and Anvil, a very defensive display for her. Opting to not particularly worry about her flipping when she has such protection in place, we went to town on Anvil, trying (and succeeding) to invalidate his damage reduction to make Dawn a more prime target. A trap we still fall into to this day is ignoring Dawn for too long and having her Citizens just pile up and up, hammering us to death through distraction. Dawn herself, really, doesn’t do much in the way of damage. It’s almost all from her powerful little army! Sure, she has The Card that pulls a full party wipe of all our hard earned junk, but when it comes to the the damage race, she loses by a lot without her Citizens as backup.
Naturally, to capitalize on her defense game, she showcased her Leadership not once, but twice, granting a very healthy HP regen for her and everything she loves every turn. It was...interesting. Still, though, we are heroes, and we have our little specialties.
You might have recalled that OmniX was in play this day. Well, he has Flechettes with Sedatives and can basically neuter anything he wants with them, destroying pesky Ongoings and dishing damage where needed as well! So...thanks, Omni! You always were a hero of the people. The digital people. With robotics. And humanity. It’s an eclectic mix.
That was basically OmniX’s job description. Destroying anything he didn’t like whenever he didn’t like it and only getting all his toys taken away (due to damage) once. Heck, as we will soon see, this little toaster even threw out his Self Destruct button this game! It’s a hard sell getting any player to toss out all of their toys that they’ve been grouping all game!
As almost entirely support due to necessity, my role as Vanish was to keep our damage taken down with her innate Power and cancel out damage mitigation from the enemy with Vanish stuff. She can be quite good at keeping plus and minus 1s where she wants them, and I can appreciate that. Keeping teleportation at an awkward minimum due to the cards we were hemorrhaging through various means meant my Powers were usually very focused on our current target most wanted.
The Naturalist, as our hammer of justice, so to speak, played fast and loose with his Forms, and as the game went on was able to rather frequently get two and three bonuses active for a short spurt! With Rhino keeping his HP up, Gazelle giving him his draws, and Croc instilling those delicious attack buffs, he was, as always, a one man wrecking crew, and with good support, Naturalist only explodes more often. We love him, especially with the Desperate Prey promo. It’s just...too good to pass up, ever. Obviously, The Naturalist killed anything and everything he wanted, usually when he wanted, and kept the Citizen population down enough to flip Dawn and wait for her to calm down again.
All the while, Northspar was doing it’s damnedest to keep us chilly. The Blizzard parked itself on the table early and often, dealing one to three damage to everything every turn (First Response Vanish keeping one of the team from too much pain and Naturalist able to protect himself, so mostly good stuff) and introducing the Waypoints. We played a lovely little pretend game were we kept trying to resuscitate the bad Third Waypoint, which was a little funny, since none of us knew or recalled that there is in fact a very GOOD Third Waypoint as well, probably a better choice to keep in the deck if the bad one finds it’s way into the discard. As such, we did eventually have to deal with the Environment Big Bad...Tam or something. I can’t remember his name, but he was a butthole for all of a round before he was offed through some shifty means or other. We’re great like that, writing down details in my little black book that no one, including myself can read. Ahah. Tak Ahab. Something Ahab. Anyway, he died and was removed from the game permanently due to our Environment layout, which was quite nice!
All things considered, I’d say we remained quite healthy for a three man team against Dawn, and when the opportunity presented itself after she flipped back from her Fused side and we all wailed away for OmniX to burn his toys and get the killing blow, he did so, earning us another win!
— Game 2 —
Of course, one cannot play just one game of Sentinels in an extended weekend. Game two featured Dendron versus ExPatriette, XTreme Fanatic, and Sky Scraper...in an Environment of some type. I...somehow don’t have that information written down. Huh. I am, as you can clearly see, the best at what I do. Gifts for all!
XTreme Fanny is just a blessing. Not only was she able to immediately look to the Painted Wolf and make it her personally pet through Chastise, but she kept that little puppy the entire game, alternately paying it’s HP cost for herself and making Dendron pay it for her. You see, that is what XTreme Fanny does. All damage she deals goes straight to a single chosen target instead of wherever it’s originally targeted. All of her suicidal keepaways become miniature bombs and it feels amazing. I very much look forward to seeing the OblivAeon content so I can have a regular version of this in the box forever, since Fanny has always been at the near top of my list, being the first or second character I play at any large special Sentinels gathering! All of her promos are great. I love Fanny!
Ahem. In other news, Paddy Wagon managed not only first blood on Dendron, but also last. Spoiler Alert: We totally beat Dendron. Even if Dendron gets to play a billion cards, especially when she flips, it’s of little matter when you shoot her in the face several times every turn. It’s oddly easier to not get distracted with her Tattoos than it is against Dawn and her Citizens or especially La Capitan and her ungodly Crew. I’m not entirely sure why, but her critters are mostly just damage instead of relentless armies of Death.
Sky Scraper managed to get a hand that kept her Huge for longer than I usually see, plus able to absorb the damage for the team when she actually needed to, such as when she unleashed an upgraded ground pound to the table followed by Dendron’s fresh army dealing multiple instances of damage to the whole party, made more potent with her Owls enchancing damage. Scraper just shoveled that whole lot into her open arms and wiped it away into (almost) nothing! Totally worth it. Would recommend.
So that’s the touching story of an angel and her beloved wolf friend as they journeyed long and far to quell the raging urban beast of mobile tattoos, with assists from her good lady friends, a gun enthusiast and a giant. Romantic!
— Game 3 —
You might think ‘Gee, only two games of Sentinels? What gobbledegook is this? They must have posteriors for hats!’ True, true, but that might be why we played a third game of our favourite super hero co-op!
Vector, the bloody brother versus Mr Fixer, the Adamant Sentinels, and Titan, all wrapped up eatly in Cybersphere.
This wasn’t as easy for us, let me say! Vector’s whole gig is trying to get his HP high enough to just run away and probably infect the world with gross blood stuff, so there’s already a greater need to focus him out while he summons terrible things to eat you. As the game wore on, we sometimes opted not to immmediately deal with some of his critters, letting a robot or two live longer than might have been advised. Still, what with Vector playing cards when we punched him, his having a full arsenal is something to be expected, eventually. We can’t let him improve his HP total while we play his alternate game with Ongoing removal!
With all of the mess Vector continually grew while we wailed away, it wasn’t incredibly long before three of my four Sentinels died, all at once, leaving only Mainstay with a single HP standing and no way to get anyone back, even with the Sentinels’ incredible card draw. That’s fine, though, because Mainstay is possibly the best choice for last man standing (except Medico, probably, who can get everyone else up and running again, but oi)!
So Fixer did his usual fixing, swapping his Styles more and more as they got destroyed to keep Titan’s more important and less replaceable Ongoings in place while Vector tantrumed occasionally. I’m unsure if he ever really got the chance to use Equipment, though, which is an interesting prospect for Fixer especially. Good work, as always, Fixer!
Mainstay, even alone, is able to dish out good damage (because The Sentinels are crazy) and sometimes heal himself, but it was still just a matter of time before he was taken out and the full Sentinels team was knocked out. I’m so curious how each of these guys will play when all on their own, and occasionally I have night terrors about it. Well, I’m not sure why I wake up with a yell sometimes through the night recently, but I can always hope its visions of OblivAeon.
Titan ended up without Titan Form for most of the game, though he isn’t reliant on it as one might expect, still well able to take care of things when needed and keep the plate full with whoopass. When he gets Titan Form, though, it is a beautiful thing, and it’s much easier for him to pop it back on from discard than it is to get it through the whole deck.
Our biggest misstep had to be from the full leadup to Super Virus, with many of Vector’s cards mentioning it and none of us particularly knowing what it was exactly. His flip condition is tied to Super Virus. All of his reagents and stuff can get eaten by Super Virus. It sounds awful.
It is. On his final turn, Vector draws the infamous Super Virus, making all of our plans and right out attacks to keep Vector within Titan’s kill range the past round or two null. With Super Virus out, killing Vector would only lose us the game! In fact, we now needed him to flip after his Virus gained enough power and deal with it then (or, rather, have it deal with itself, since it just explodes on flip). Sure, Vector had enough fodder on the table for that to not be too long, but it was quite the shake up!
Instead of playing Vector’s game, however, the defeated Sentinels blew up the Virus with their incap powers and Titan gave Vector the Coup de Grace chokehold needed to secure our victory. Still...a bit scary, this old Vector was. I still like him!
Game the Second: Dale of Merchants
These damned merchant animals are so bloody cute that I often want to smash my head against the window and see the glas spider web out from my bleeding cranium. This is a good thing.
Sloths, Macaws, Polecats, and Platypus all joined together to create the most adorable set of merchants the world has ever seen, and with the help of ours truly, they will live on forever as almost all almost having almost the perfect stall for almost all of history!
This game has a tendency to be pretty tight. If you don’t buy goods from the middle row with some forward thought for later stall use, you might fall behind, but even if you lack the foresight, it isn’t hard to catch up at all, with so many useful and interesting uses the various abilities grant on the goods. Within this one game, every single one of the three of us were going to win on our next turn, but Andrew beat us out, just.
My game plan involved a lot of Sloth abilities, supplemented by Cookies front the Macaws to keep my hands large and my deck small through things like Cleaning. It was beautiful! And with my stalls focusing on the Polecats for the middle regions and the Sloths for the end, I felt pretty good as i built out faster than the others before making an oopsie with my counting and needing to go for a shuffle in my deck but with too many cards to make that the easiest thing to do. And having lost my Platypus to my stall by that time, so no easy discarded manipulation. Whoops.
If I hadn’t made that mistake, I might have been able to pull just far enough ahead to finish my stall before Andrew and V drew into their winning hands just as I did. Still, though, this was a close (and non-hostile) race to the finish! It was adorable, and I think everyone was smitten, and since we play rarely enough for the charm to prettty much never diminish, it’ll be a hit for a while.
Sloths are the best, though. I will fight about it.
Game the Third: Mysterium
The game oft requested, never owned. Thanks, V! There’s not much more to say about Mysterium that we’ve not already said, but I can share the Cliff’s Notes mini story that ended the game. Once we collect the three parts of the mystery the Ghost is trying to share (different for everyone because the Ghost is quite addled after having been murdered, I suppose), we often round them up into a tall tale for our own amusement.
For my Pink and White stories, we saw a school marm, curious as to the nature of animal folk mixing with the fey in the woods increasingly more often, took her gun (often for bear, but not this time) and shot a man at her front door, just to check his feet for hooves or other cloven clues. Perfectly natural!
On the other side of the pond, we have a soldier writing his memoirs on his fancy type writer, just trying to find a peaceful spot so he could write and concentrate without distraction. Finding the laundry room spacious and quiet, he begins his work there only to be interrupted by a loud, clanging worker woman which tosses him into such a spiral of war stories that he cludgeons her to death with his instrument of creativity. Whoops!
Naturally, with our great play, we eventually lose anyway due to the both of us (Andrew and I, V was out Ghost) completely forgetting we had a female suspect (the aforementioned Teacher). We were granted two clues at the end, even though we could have a third, focusing on a lady and a door. Clearly, you’d think about the Teacher and that Front Door I was talking about before? Hah! We opted for...something else entirely. And lost. The Ghost will never know peace.
Game the Fourth: The Bloody Inn
This is our first time with three players! Really, there’s basically no change except a slightly larger deck of Guests. Everything moves so swiftly and with such tight rounds, I could never imagine the game moving on for too long. Granted, I have since our first game adopted the mantra of always playing the Short mode.
We had a large run of scores, though, my leading with 57 with Andrew behind at 25 and V with 10. I’d managed to murder a few guests early, and with the Mason guy making Annexes easier to build, I opted for small, one occupant Annexes when I could get them and filling them up quickly and efficiently, though with less efficiency because I didn’t recruit a purple person until near the very end in order to hide whatever bodies I found myself with before the coppers knew what hit them. I killed a few police. I regret nothing.
Andrew kept his body count low, aiming, I think, for one big Annex filled with corpses instead of the many small things I was going for. And, really, he got caught twice with bodies in the back, losing a lot of progress whenever we drew a very gun heavy guest list. Really, he had a sizable collection of deaths, just most didn’t make it into the ground, costing him plenty of cash and probably the game.
For our dear V, though, there was a fundemental lack of killing. He had plenty of buildings built out, also starting with a Mason as his first Bribe and bringing plenty of Blue people into his fold to keep Bribes quick and easy! He had a huge stumble, though, believing he needed to match the colour of his agents with the action he wanted to perform near the end, thus leading him to not kill in the late rounds because he didn’t have the purple people to bury them. Very unfortunate.
Still though, this was one of those rare games that were actually mentioned for replay! Really and truly, I think this was the only thing we picked up during the mental decay of our initial separation however many months ago that has real lasting merit. I, for one, am excited to have the chance to murder people, scmhooze others, and generally be a prick with little to no repercussions whenever I have a spare half hour!
Game the Fifth: Flatline
So it took the two of us a few games to mete out a victory, and it’s looking that we’ll need a few more to net a three player win. We opened with an absolutely atrocious first round, probably due to the length of time we’ve not played and the general disorder of a game that gives you nothing but a full minute to play all of the important bits. Our first round left us with over ten dice wasted, unplayed, left for dead, while we lamented our useless medical degrees.
Still, we pressed on, eventually curing a patient or two and gaining more and more boons while we focus fired the Stat emergencies that erupted every bloody turn. On the whole, we left every regular Emergency alone, unless it added more Emergency cards or removed our hard won cures. With this strategy employed, we eventually fully healed five out of nine patients, stalling for three or four rounds on the two Emergency space with the two reload chambers and a Stat gift that could recharge one of said chambers.
With things picking up and only two or so rounds left...we...uh...lost our final turn after spiraling out of and into control. The last cube was eaten by an Emergency, losing us everything, but giving us the restful partial victory of having every patient in need of tending at least touched, prodded, and seen.
We care, here and the DeveryCrow table. We will get to you. Eventually. Calm your tits. Oh wait, we’ve exploded.
Game the Sixth: Eldritch Horror
Because there are so many expansion paths to take when purchasing Eldritch Horror, everyone I know who owns it has a different experience. One friend in Indy that I never see because I’m not there but we did run into each other the GenCon before last has everything all the time. That was the first time I’d played Eldritch (as Daisy, obviously, since Gloria didn’t exist yet) and it was long at the high player counts, but mostly a hoot. The player with Diana next to me assisted in building this full narrative back story of Daisy and Diana, two girls that just didn’t get along all their time knowing each other but had to work together for a greater good. Then Daisy died. That’s a running theme in my life, you know. Spoiler alert.
Anyway, my best friend V is also into Eldritch, and while my collection veers completely toward a few small box expansions, his is welcoming the big box variety as well, which coincidentally gives him access to Daisy Walker. You see where this is going, right? Since he recently acquired the Shudde M’ell expansion, we all agreed for our weekend play of Eldritch to be of uncharted ground, with all the pleasures of other people’s games that brings.
So we played against Shudde M’ell, bringing the forces of Daisy Walker, Agnes Baker, and the Fed Roland Banks. Naturally, there are other guest stars, but we’ll get to that when we get to that. Did you know? People die in Eldritch Horror! Almost regularly!
Interestingly, Shudde M’ell wasn’t quite so terrifying...at first. It’s Doom Track is pretty long, though it has extra (awful) Events that pop up when it passes certain thresholds. Sure, every Reckoning, losing two total Health/Sanity wasn’t great, but as Daisy, Resting is one of her favourite actions, making it a minor deal at best. The Cultists aren’t too bad, and Shudde’s general motif is advancing its Doom as much as it can.
This was assisted a little too much by our first Mystery throwing a boss fight our way in Europe, amassing some Cultists and a general beastie that all tried to increase Doom on Reckoning, a thing that isn’t exactly rare. Luckily, Agnes and Daisy were nearby the boss, but Daisy isn’t one to fight anything, so she opted to read up on the hunt in a neighboring city, increasing her Will and being generally awesome. Agnes, meanwhile, took the fight to the baddie immediately, because she is insane and in the hands of my occasionally berserk husband, a man that very much enjoys bashing things over the head with magic whenever and wherever possible.
Amazingly, Agnes with no further push past her starting equips manages to almost completely eradicate this 5 Toughness beastie on her first round. I mean...good on you, lady! Hope your dark and tortured past lives don’t come and bite you in the blue padded butt! This also, coincidentally, began the running reign of Agnes, our Slayer Supreme. Sure, she didn’t yet kill anything, but she brought the fight to the enemy with recklessness befitting a princess and lived to tell about it!
Leaving the boss to its own after that, as Agnes herself was near death’s door after their little snafu (she isn’t the most sane of casters, you see) she dipped upward and began to sleep off her crazy, picking up some tickets for travel as she dreamed, like a champ.
Roland, meanwhile, abused the crap out of his passive ability to just poo out Clues everywhere and sit on his federal behind, making efforts to go and clean up the mini boss that was still hanging around after the Agnes Show was canceled mid season. I will never hook my nose up at more Clues. Never. They are magic and you will always need them, even when you don’t. Just...just touch ‘em. You know you want to.
Taking advantage of the absolutely accepting display of books, tomes, and allies that do nothing but give you more tomes, Daisy made sure to attempt to buy things whenever she could, amassing a healthy dose of knowledge rather quickly while she went deeper and deeper into debt and traveled further and further East in hopes of eventually using her knowledge to prevent gates from spreading all throughout Asia and beyond.
On the way she met her newest friend Proto Shoggoth! He’s a keeper, for sure. Not realizing that it was a bit closer than it appeared in her mirrors, Daisy sort of walked right into it’s path of destruction and ended up getting ganked and losing most of her health in one go while she (successfully) staggered around flailing her arms on the attack. This would all be fine, as she could easily out run the Shoggoth before the next Reckoning, but this being Eldritch, well laid plans rarely go full force. Naturally, the Mythos ensures that every enemy will heal, and then get free activations on top of that, leaving Daisy dead on the second or third turn. Sad day. And all those books still ripe for the picking!
Welcome to the table Mr Finn Edwards, smuggler extraordinaire! Due to a fascinating series of events, my new boyfriend somehow stumbled into becoming a spell caster. He was granted several gifts from strangers over his encounters, meeting Death face to face and staring it down, gaining arcane knowledge and a choice of three Talents, one of which gifted him several spells even without keeping it. He did keep it, though, because it added a + 2 (or 5?) to his Lore whenever he called upon magic. It was...very nice. He could scary for Clues anywhere, Bless those in need, etc, and was very happy about it. This was all made possible by the Fates looking at him, seeing how unbelievably attractive he is and showering him with their golden Improvements, quickly giving me the mini goal of having each of his stats improved at least once. I almost did that, by the by, short of one stat! This universe loves Finn!
We did knock out the mini boss, moving into our second Mystery which practically solved itself because I remember nothing about it other than Clues and America, and then moved right into the third and final Mystery.
The Heart of Africa. Cool. Everyone go over there for some special encounters! We need to get two Eldritch Tokens on this Mystery for victory! So we did, Finn speeding Roland along through the waterways, Agnes coming from above. Soon, we’d all be there and ready to tackle the Mystery in very possibly a single round.
So Shudde M’ell hasn’t exactly been doing nothing, but it also wasn’t running down its Doom all that quickly. Once we get to surrounding the Heart of Africa, though, we draw a Disaster (and Da Sista) which immediately deals two damage to Health and Sanity of every Investigator near the Expedition token. Guess where it was? If you guessed Africa, you were spot on! And, if you guessed that Roland was already at Death’s door, you were right again, earning you a cookie! This encounter killed Roland, causing another Disaster (and Da Sista) to be drawn with that Doom advancement, and then repeated its effect three or so more times. Holy cripes.
Probably not the worst of things to happen though. Roland has recently survived a Mythos that did literally every Bad Thing to him, stealing one of just about every card type imaginable, Cursing, damaging, etc. Pretty stellar, really. It was in all the magazines at the time. His death probably wasn’t the worst thing that happened to him that week, we’ll say.
In his place, we welcome Akachi, a woman after my own heart, as we might already know, and she was paramount to our next two turns. Taking advantage of a nearly deceased Cthonian blocking passage to Africa, Finn purchased the last remaining card from the Reserve (everything else was getting eaten up by a Rumour we were ignoring) and beat the Cthonian to death with some Handcuffs. It was both kinky and awesome, and I’m sure the video will be hitting the internet any day now. Use your imagination until then!
With that excitement behind us and having survived the double Destruction master turn, we were all still very near Africa’s Heart, and soon all of us were standing around shuffling through the trees for Clues and further Eldritch tokens. Finn found one (he is a beauty, isn’t he?) and wouldn’t you know it, Akachi just saunters up and finds one as well, giving us the win from a foreign lady no one else in the party had ever met!
Win! Shudde M’ell, you are our personal sand worm now! We ride you to victory and African smoothies! For celebration! And for the fallen, or whatever.
Game the Seventh: Covert
This is still such a good game, I’m amazed we never play it. In fact, it’s so rare on the table that I basically have to relearn it each time. Thanks for the little quick-learn blurbs in the rule book, I guess?
The difficulty of Covert for me is being asked to manage so many little things at once, all in your head. You need to fulfill missions with a variety of requirements that you can gain through plopping spies in certain colours and using an action to pick up the cards of that same colour, cracking the codes on various pieces of equipment to unlock them for later use, previous missions gifting fitting rewards that make every subsequent mission potentially easier, AND the whole dice placement for actions thing that is so very wonderful.
Naturally, I opt to ignore a good half of these and work with whatever I have going at the time. It works for me, to a certain point. Even playing as the specialist Code Breaker, I still opted to ignore that aspect until I was called on to manipulate it each round, instead of putting any sort of planning toward it. Save once, when the opportunity presented to use a Special Ops token to make an extra move on the grid, giving me three alterations and the chance to finish up two codes at once. That was nice.
The other thing we as a group seem weak on is moving. Every time your spy moves, he poops out a cube of your colour, and collecting two cubes of another player’s colour grants you a free Special Ops token once you politely return their poo, not in a paper bag you’ve lit on fire. Probably. We manage, every game, somehow, to have at least one player almost run out of his colour poo. Never quite reaching zero, but we seemingly don’t move around enough to capitalize on our background poo sniffing careers. Maybe that makes us good people, focused on the task at hand? I don’t know. Movement is hard enough just getting everyone you want where you want them when you need them there for missions and the like, poo sniffing is the least of my worries. But it’s a nice boon when it happens! I got a token! Yay!
So we played our little hearts out, all staying pretty close to each other as far as completed Missions went, sticking together through about the fourth. Once I reached five Missions, I realized I can’t count, as that was supposed to be my sixth and I had put my everything into ensuring I could complete my Missions that round to surprise the table for a victory.
It didn’t work, as previously mentioned by my lack of ability to count to high numbers such as six, so we had another round, wherein V was more than able to run a clean sweep on his carefully curated Missions he’d been picking up, completing three in the round for a sincerely magnificent victory.
Andrew’s Katherine gave us 46 spy point, my Carter a 68, and V’s Alexander a robust 80. Spies! With dirty feces! All over the world! Covert.
Game the Eigth: Gloomhaven
We’re back! Life is in order again! It feels so warm and inviting, even if we remember jack all about whatever it is we were doing before!
Spoilers. We play a legacy game and talk about it.
Scenario 71: Windswept Highlands.
This scenario gave us an interesting dilemma. The Spitting Drakes all over the place were all asleep and would only wake up if we ended our moves adjacent to them or attacked them in some way. To complicate this rather simple venture, the Windswept Highlands were indeed both high and swept with wind, as at the end of every round we were forcibly moved a space in one cardinal direction. We might have woken a Drake or too more than we’d like.
All in all, Almsthrya went along her Valrath brothers’ history and started out using her items recklessly, knowing her Moon Earring would bring them all back if she didn’t have time for a long rest (spoilers, she didn’t, because who ever does when surrounded by enemies and with a short time limit to break the targets and get home?). Dealing with the enemies directly around us wasn’t too bad with Alms cutting them with her Poison blade and Catharsys able to just deal four wounds to them as they succumbed to the sweeet release of toxicity running through their veins. Which Catharsys immediately stole away from them, like a pro drug dealer, giving them the pure joy of his Faith and stealing it just at their new peak, so these Wind and Sun Demons would yearn for the delicious feeling of yet more Poison.
And we obliged! We are kind and benevolent overlords of the Demon realm, and while Alms is really only able to Poison with her blade, she respects so much the systems and beliefs that the Plagueherald people bring that she is willing to use this dagger for Good. I mean, Alms meaty strength plus Catharsys’ insta-damage made short work of whatever Drakes we did awaken, if we were near each other.
On the last legs of the mission, we really needed to split up in order to have any real shot at victory. Catharsys flew off the shorter path, dealing with just a simple Drake, while Alms trudged up the longer path, taking cues from Morgan and dancing around the Demons there and ensuring no Drake awakened around her. Really, she didn’t want to take more damage than necessary from too many targets, as early on she tossed one of her only free heal cards, her remaining stock all lost after a single use.
We decided early on to stick with our initial plan, even as the winds and Wind Demons Pulled and pushed us away from them. In order to get the first objective within our estimated time frame, I had to throw a card on my second turn, just for movement, which is crazy train territory in my world. I’m a cautious player, but it was rewarding throwing away multiple cards over the course of the game, using super abilities (mostly movement, actually) far earlier than I usually deem fitting. I like the power. I am changed. I feed on entropy.
So, Catharsys begins his trek back to the newly found exit, skirting around the Sun Demon while I caught up, killing another Demon on the way because I could. Then we manage to Immobilize the remaining Sun Demon, leaving him far behind us as we barrel head first into the Wind trap standing in front of the exit. These guy. These guys.
More than capable of going before us, the Wind Demons made it their personal goal to Pull us nearer, then further away from our goals, at a time when we couldn’t really dally anymore. Both of us were running out of cards in our hands, though we still had a few rounds in us each. Could we toss a card for a one off ability? Probably not, if we wanted victory, but we could discuss if these Wind Demons kept being turds!
With a monumental urge to kill rising, we knocked one Wind Demon right on it’s butt and watched it evaporate, then Alms rushed ahead and made the winning play of Tacital Maneuvering Catharsys onto the exit tile with her. It was pretty great.
All in all, we kept three of the Drakes asleep out of however many there were, so that was nice. The Elites were dealt with through status ailments over brute force, and Stun was the best thing since sliced bread! We win, with about three cards each in hand!
Back in town, we do what any responsible traveler would do and immediately go gambling. An old woman shows up, asks us to help her, and we do. Humorously, this is one of the first times Alms character class has shown up on a card, and it made it impossible to turn this lady down, not that we wanted to in particular, because side quests keep us afloat. Seriously now, I’m not sure if either of us could tell you where the core story is right now. We probably haven’t been on the up and up story path in a trillion weeks. I think it’s in Gloomhaven proper right now? We’ll find out. Eventually. Until then, our prime goal is getting Catharsys to retire, then Alms will immediately follow suit and we will begin anew with two fresh classes and the whole world ahead of us. I’m very excited about this. I mean, holy carp. Roughly two more sessions before a full party recheck!
With many fires erupting through work, we weren’t able to sink our teeth too far back into Gloomhaven, but it sure feels great to be using that behemoth of a box that has been perched on the right end of the table this entire time again! It’s beautiful.
Today is an incredibly foggy day, and that makes me smile a little bit, which is good, because last night many parts of me died as I attempt time and again to traverse what I believe to be the final Labryinth in Etrian Odyssey IV, built from the ground up to torture and abuse the player to a breaking point, which was met last night as I angrily tossed my phone into a blanket on the other side of the couch with such apparent force that it bounced OFF the blanket and into a lamp after I was thrust into an encounter I wasn’t allowed to run from (for some reason) even through super means and lost two floors worth of progress, forcing me once again to traverse the Golden Lair, which is coincidentally the worst thing that has ever happened to my beloved troupe, just to touch a single...thing. Damn, I hate things sometimes. But now I know! Just...leave everything alone for the time being. Ignore all the sparklies. Honestly, I am beyond the point of caring, which is the clear indication that a game needs to be wrapping up soon as it has gone on long enough or is pulling too many sneaky tricks. We’ve a combo here!
So...video games. They exist. I’m coming back around to the extensive amount of board games we have, and that’s even more clearly in existence! Next year could be magical, with OblivAeon and Middara both adorning us, ideally with the latter after we’ve seen at least AN ending to Gloomhaven. Eventually we will part, but that isn’t for a long, long while yet, Gloomy. Kisses.
Thanks for reading, friends! This was a big one, at least the biggest in a long while it seems. I feel like we’ve played more games this past week than the past two months combined. I think I need my gaming time to keep a smile on my face! It’s so much more soothing. Mmm. Good times.
Until next time, I wish you all a good time, with or without games, but hopefully with, because...games, man. Why wouldn’t you play them?
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