Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for November, 2008

Two New Games

Posted by sodaklady on November 16, 2008

When Mike arrived this afternoon, he brought with him his two newest games: Prophecy, which he’d played a couple of times with his wife, and Battlestar Galactica, which he was itching to launch on its maiden voyage.

Prophecy is an rpg-adventure style game like Runebound or Return of the Heroes, both of which I’ve played with him. The board, compared to Runebound, is very simple which keeps you from having to over-analyze your next move. It also offers several ways to move more quickly from space to space so it doesn’t bog down while you slog your way from one end of the “kingdom” to the other like Return of the Heroes.

Prophecys board, image by Werner Baer

Prophecy's board, image by Werner Baer

I found Prophecy to play quickly, not necessarily in the total play time, but in how the time flies while you’re playing. I’m not sure how long it took us to finish the 2-player game (with the game-ending conditions modified to whoever got two treasures from the Astral plane), but it never left me feeling like I wish it would hurry up and be over. There are enough choices to give you a feeling of control but not so many that your mind starts to overload and smoke begins to curl lazily from your ears.

Rpgs are not my forte but in the other two that I’ve played, I would watch Mike as his character’s stats increased so quickly that my mind began to boggle with wondering, “HOW did he do that?” while my poor soul either couldn’t find anyone to fight or lost most of the fights. In Prophecy, I still lagged behind in strength and magic but I made up for it with better equipment and skills and managed to collect the two treasures needed before Mike had managed to win one.

Prophecy is definitely a game I am willing to play again, and not just because I won. I like how smoothly and quickly it plays, and the many ways you can improve your character’s overall strength. There are plenty of bad guys to fight, lots of weapons and spells and skills to acquire, the board was always full of choices but it never felt overwhelming.

Richard joined us for the semi-cooperative game of Battlestar Galactica. I’ve never watched the show but have a general idea of its premise, which I think is helpful to immerse yourself in the world of the game. The humans are trying to get their space ship home while their enemies, the Cylons, are trying to prevent them—a simple and timeless story, no?

Each player chooses a character which has both good qualities that benefit your team and a bad quality which hampers you. For instance, my character could choose between two of the Crisis cards drawn at the end of your turn (these are bad things that happen to make your humans miserable) but it cost her two hand cards to take any action related to the room she was in. I think this was a neat addition to the characters, giving them each a weakness to deal with.

My characters card, image by C. Hahn

My character's card, image by C. Hahn

On your turn you first draw cards corresponding to your characters specialization, such as a pilot, a military leader, political leader, or support. Next you may choose to move to another room in the ship, then you can take 1 action. Finally you draw a dreaded Crisis card. Many of these cards are “Skill Checks” that require your team to pick cards from their hand to put into a pool blindly in hopes of coming up with enough points to pass the skill check. This is where the unknown Cylon can mess with your plans.

You see, as in Shadows Over Camelot, there can be a traitor among you without your knowing it. At the beginning of the game, a card is dealt to everyone which identifies you as either a Cylon or not a Cylon. As if that isn’t bad enough, half way through the game, a second round of cards are dealt. Now you KNOW there is a traitor, you just have to figure out who it is and try to through them in the Brig and keep them there.

We had a very good time with this game even through there were only three of us, partly, I think, because it was so easy to get into the atmosphere of the game. I enjoy Shadows Over Camelot but more as a family game since it feels like you’re just collecting poker hands, running to the right spot and playing them one at a time. The theme in Galactica is so easy to fall into even if you are not a die-hard fan of the show.

Richard turned out to be our Cylon after the half-way point. We threw him in the brig but couldn’t keep him there. He came dangerously close to spoiling our trip home but in the end, the humans won. We were nearly out of food and fuel, our morale was low and we’d lost a lot of our population but we made it.

This turned out to be a hit with all of us, even my non-gamer husband. It moves along very nicely with no real down time since you have to watch the other players for signs of traitorous behavior, and the many Skill Checks keep you in the action a lot of the time even when its not your turn.

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