Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for August, 2010

Fending Off Zombies Again

Posted by sodaklady on August 27, 2010

Last week my daughter,Cori, and I got out Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game and played the “Burn It To The Ground!” scenario– I played the Heroes and she played the Zombies, as usual. She loves being the bad guy and she does it very well. This scenario calls for the Heroes to find 4 cans of gasoline, splash them around the center area of the Mansion, where the spawning pits are, then have one Hero spend a turn in there to light the fire without getting killed by whatever zombies there are hanging around their favorite stomping grounds. Uh-huh. No prob.

The board with Manor House in the center. The middle 4 spaces would be the pits that have to be eliminated. Photo by SingBlueSilver.

This scenario uses the Grave Dead rule from the Growing Hunger expansion which means you roll a d6 to see what horrible ability a few of her zombies would possess. My luck, she rolled a 1 which gives them the ability to ignore any wound they would take on a 4+ except from an explosive. Oh, hell! That’s one of the nastiest characteristics because it makes them almost impossible to kill.

To be fair, it also uses the Hero Replenish rule so that any time one of my Heroes gets killed, I immediately replace him with a new Hero. I am proud to say that I did not need that extra help but I will also admit that Cori often made moves that took it easy on the Heroes. I realized it but could only be thankful since this is a pretty nasty scenario.

One other additional rule applies to this scenario: Free Search Markers. Cool. These markers are placed on all the buildings that no Hero starts in so when one of the Heroes enters the building they can immediately Search instead of using a Move action to Search. We added the other tokens to the mix,  2 Surprise Attack x 1,  1 Surprise Attack x 2, and 1 New Hero Found. Mix them face down and place on the buildings, throwing back any that don’t get placed. What were the odds I’d come across the Surprise Attack x 2, which means I stumbled upon 2 zombies I didn’t know were there? Slim? Yeah, I found ’em.

This was a tough battle for the Heroes, especially since they kept getting hurt. I had chosen Becky, the nurse (at the end of the turn, she can heal one would of another hero in her space), and Kenny, the super market bag boy (may take a wound or discard an item to kill a zombie that he beats in a fight). Nice abilities if you can use them. Then I randomly chose the other two Heroes: Johnny, the high school quarterback (wins on a tie, and also can run a blitz which lets him fight a zombie and keep moving) and Rachelle, a police detective from another town (starts with a revolver & flashlight; may ignore any wound if you roll a 6+). Again, nice abilities if you can use them.

I also managed to turn over one of the random Search tiles and find a New Hero which I randomly drew and got the crazy Jake Cartwright, a drifter who can draw 2 cards and chose which to keep and which to discard. Nice since I really needed to be searching to find all those gas cans. I love this hero because I can picture him being played by Randy Quaid. The quote under his picture is “It’s happening. They’re coming…again.” I just see Quaid in Independence Day: “Hello, boys. I’m baaaaack.”

Things looked pretty desperate for most of the game. I had found 2 of the gas cans in the first few turns but then couldn’t find the other two. I also had to keep healing my poor Heroes, using up a Move/Search action for Johnny and Kenny since they can only take 2 wounds but can heal themselves if they sit down and relax for a bit.

With only 5 hours until dawn Becky found another gas can, then crazy Jake got a set of keys that let me pick up a card from the discard pile. Decisions, decisions–what should I take….? Gas can! Pass that off to Johnny who was conveniently near. Off ran Johnny to smash zombies and keep moving, destined to throw heading into the Mansion to douse it with gas.

Kenny had been lugging around a fire extinguisher since about the 2nd turn, picturing how useful this could be while he’s inside the Mansion lighting the fire, defending himself by spraying this to push those z’s away from him. Unfortunately, he also took a wound on his way to the Mansion. Meanwhile, Becky had managed to find a lighter and was headed to the Mansion with her can of gas. So in a very well-played move, I  moved Becky to Kenny’s square,  passed Kenny the lighter, then Becky killed the zombie that had injured Kenny by using the meat cleaver and getting an Instant Kill,  and finally Becky healed Kenny at the end of the turn. Ta da. High fives.

On the next turn, Becky ran around the house and threw the gas on the last space, while Johhny  lured some of the zombies from Mansion using zombie hunger and Rachelle  used another fire extinguisher to push the zombies by the doorway further into the room. The way was clear for Kenny to be the hero of the hour.

Luckily for the Heroes, the zombie master had no impressive trick up her sleeve and she hadn’t gotten to spawn for the last two turns so the 2 spaces near the entrance to the Mansion were clear. Kenny ran into the building and easily set the cursed place on fire, saving the town.

Say what you will about the randomness and high luck factor in this game but every time I’ve played, no matter how many were playing or what scenario we played, the games gave been squeaky close, right down to the last move and once it wasn’t clear who won until the last die roll!


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Still Here!

Posted by sodaklady on August 27, 2010

And occasionally playing a game or two.

Isn't this gorgeous?

A couple of weeks ago another BGGer dropped by on her way from Washington state to Wisconsin. Lynette (meerkat) needed to get to a family reunion but funds were low so I volunteered a bed for the night. She arrived later than expected (around 9pm) because of roadwork but we still got in a lot of board game talk and a single play of Taluva. She had played it before but didn’t remember the rules which meant one of my infamous rules-teaching episodes. I did very well since it’s a fairly simple game. It was a relaxed game, hints coming easily and not too much back-stabbing. In the end, I made a bad tile play and saw that Lynette had the ability to win, which I pointed out to her. This is the type of game that, win or lose, it is just a joy to handle the pieces and the big, chunky tiles.

The next morning we spent an hour talking about other things besides board games and were having such a nice time that it was hard to call it good and send her on her way. I hope she comes back by the same route and will spend another night with us.

Last week my daughter, Cori, and I played a game of The Last Night On Earth: The Zombie Game and had a great time. I will write that up in a separate post since it’s pretty long.

Yesterday my friend, Mike, came over and he brought his newest acquisition to show me, Innovation. He had called me the day before to set up our game day and I mentioned that I was in the process of pre-ordering it, it was in the cart and I was a minute away from checking out. He casually says, “I have it.” Well, hell, why didn’t you say so sooner? So I put my checkout-clicking on hold until I could sample this newest offering from the creator of Glory To Rome. Good thing, too.

Innovation photo by EndersGame

I appreciated the new mechanic of “splaying” the cards to reveal more icons, the more the merrier in this game, but I did not have a very good first experience. In the beginning when I had four cards in my play area, three of them started with “If you return a card from your hand…” Well, that doesn’t give you a lot of inventive ways to go, does it? Every turn I drew and either played a card if it was good or turned it back in for points or something. The kicker is that Mike had more of almost all icons so he’d get to do the same thing, only he could do it first!

By the midway point, I had managed to take the second achievement but only because Mike had missed the fact that he could take it. By abilities were still pretty slim and not terribly useful since Mike still out-iconed me for all but one of them. Mike kept telling me how this game could turn right around in an instant and I was waiting…. patiently…. trying not to lose what little patience I possess. Then I got a card that let me play all my point cards to my play area. Well… hmmm.. then I have no points to acquire another achievement but then again there may be something in there that would save my sorry ass. O.k., I’ll do it!

Well, of course there wasn’t a miracle in there! Of course I’m now in worse shape than I was before. Errggghhh, I want to throw these cards on the table and say, “you win. What else have you got?” But I don’t. I grit my teeth, grumble, and proceed to lose horribly.

Which was pretty much the way the day went. I didn’t win one game the whole day. Ah, well. That’s the way it goes.

A sample of the "parade" and some cards to play.

I had recently gotten a couple of Z-man’s card games, Parade and Onirim, which I brought out as something a little lighter and hopefully, more fun!

Parade for some reason has an Alice in Wonderland theme, which is cute, and the colors and artwork are very nice. The parade starts at the deck, new additions to it stepping into line at the right side in the picture.

On your turn, you take one of the cards from your hand and add it to the parade. Then you count the cards to the left of it equal to the number on the card you played. Those cards are safe. The remainder are available for elimination from the parade. Of those available, the ones that will be eliminated (and taken into your points piles) are any cards of equal or lower value than the card you just played, and any cards of the same color as you just played. In the sample above, if you played the blue 1, you would take no cards. This is a good thing as you’re trying NOT to get points. The red three is also a safe play because the red 6 is the #1 card when you count down from the card just played. If you play the yellow 2, you will have to take the other yellow card. If you play the white 4, you will be taking the yellow 4 because it is the same number and the white 5 because it is the same color. The white 8 is not available for elimination so you don’t have to take it.

This game sounds so simple yet in reality give you quite a bit of maneuverability and lots of tough choices. It feels very much like a Michael Schacht card game:  Coloretto, Crazy Chicken (Drive), or Richelieu. Even the scoring feels familiar, you score negative the face value of the cards you took unless you have the majority in that color in which case those cards will each be worth -1.

I like this game very much for a quick, light diversion. It has interesting choices in card play and you can to some extent control the game-ending conditions. Of course if the draw pile runs out, the game ends but it also ends if one player gets all six colors. This is the part you can control a little, especially in a two-player game.

This was my closest loss all day, something like 67 to 75.

Labyrinth and Door cards, and a Nightmare card

The other Z-man game, Onirim, is a bit strange. No, it’s really strange. First off, it’s designed as a solo card game, which is an unusual creature in the game community. The second thing is that it’s a cooperative game if you play it with a friend. That’s really unusual in a simple card game.

The final point of strangeness is actually the rules. Even after playing twice I will have to check the rules on a couple of points just to make sure I get them right!

The basic idea is that you are trying to acquire all of the door cards to escape the labyrinth, there are 2 of each of the four colors. To do this you must either have a labyrinth card with a key icon in the corner in your hand when a door card is drawn or play the third labyrinth card of a color to the line of cards in your play area.

This sounds so simple. But those nightmares keep coming up, frightening you out of your sleep before you can get to the door. I guess. That’s my story anyway.

On your turn you play a card to your labyrinthine line in front of you, or discard a card from your hand. Then you draw a new card, the it’s possible you’ll have to shuffle the deck before your next turn if some cards have been place into Limbo.

The labyrinth cards each have one of three types of icon in the corner: a key, a moon or a sun. When you play a card to your line of cards, investigating the labyrinth, the card must not have the same icon as the last card played. That’s one difficulty to overcome but not too bad. But if you draw a card to refill your hand and draw a nightmare, you have several choices, none of which is appealing. You can choose to place one of your doors back in the draw pile, draw the top 5 cards from the draw pile and discard any labyrinth cards (Doors and Nightmares go into Limbo), discard your whole hand, or discard a key. None of this sounds too bad really until I tell you the final difficulty in winning this game: you lose when the draw pile is finished. Now discarding all those cards becomes a more important consideration to your plans.

This is a tough game to win, at least in my short 2-play experience. And if it’s not hard enough for you, it comes with 3 variations to make it harder! Mike and I lost by 1 door! We’ve decided that it’s important to try to save keys to overcome the nightmare cards. Next time, maybe.

The day ended with Ra: The Dice Game. I absolutely love this game and could play it again and again but I usually settle for the best 2 out of three. Well, today it was two up and two down, Mike taking them both by a loooooong way.

I spent the day losing but it was still fun, except for Innovation. I’d play it again to give it another shot but I’ve cleared my cart at the online game shop. I may put Invasion From Outer Space: The Martian Game in there instead!

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