Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Posts Tagged ‘board games’

My Newest Fascination

Posted by sodaklady on September 18, 2015

I know I’ve been gone from here for a long time but I’m still playing games–it’s just that nothing has wowed me enough to trouble writing about it. Until now.

Fretwork owl No, not my new fascination with the scroll saw. This is a BOARD GAME blog!

I’m talking about Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site where many new and innovative board games can be found. For the last couple of years, I was feeling that I had seen all I needed to in the board game community, either because it felt too much like the same old thing or it didn’t interest me more than games I already own. Then I found the fun in being part of a Kickstarter campaign, trying out a homemade Print & Play version, commenting on the rules, waiting and watching to see if and when the goal(s) would be met. It’s all very exciting and a little bit addictive.

I’ve seen some new ideas (and clever twists on old ones) come out of the minds of dedicated board gamers who would otherwise not have their games see the light of day. I like supporting these young visionaries even though I know it will be months before I have a game in hand to play–and in some cases, never, because it can be a bit of a gamble. Disappointment is part of the package deal sometimes.

My most recent backing is for Masamune: Shining Forge Academy.  This is a deck-builder where the deck you’re building will be used to fend off attacks in a tower-defense form of play. The art style of the game is Anime and it’s fabulous–beautiful with a dash of cute. Here’s part of the description to whet your appetite:

Masamune is a game for two to four players, and takes place over the course of an academic year at Masamune Shining Forge Academy. As a pupil at Masamune Shining Forge Academy, you and your opponents will start the game with identical 12-card decks. Over the course of the game, you will forge sentient weapons called Chibis and teach them powerful special techniques to defend the Academy from attacking monsters. Alternatively, you can use Chibis to gain more powerful cards and bolster your deck.

If you have chosen to ignore the crowdfunding bandwagon, I understand–it involves risk and patience. Funny, I don’t think of myself as a risk-taker and I definitely don’t qualify as a patient person, but there you have it: sometimes you jump feet first into something because it touches you in a way nothing else does. I’m presently waiting for my copy of Tiny Epic Galaxies to arrive and it’s like Christmas a couple of months early.

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Posted in board games, Game-related Thoughts | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

AWOL or POW?

Posted by sodaklady on March 28, 2014

Remember when I wrote about keeping Memoir ’44 set up on our class-top table, ready for play whenever we were? Our two cats were disconcerted with the glass top so never even thought about bothering it.  Fast forward to the present day and a new kitty, R.J., who is just turning 2 and full of pent-up, where-the-hell-is-spring energy. She is NOT afraid of falling through a piece of glass and has discovered how much fun army men are.

A game of Memoir plus the Air Pack expansion was set up, ready for the Utah Beach battle. It had been patiently waiting for several days when I stepped on something barefooted and, on retrieving said something, found it to be an artillery piece! And it had been slightly chewed. Damn. When I set it back in its bunker, I also saw I had a man missing. O.k., where is he? Did he run away, the coward? Or had he been taken prisoner when he stepped out to take care of some personal hygiene?

Hoping it was just a fluke and she was bored with them, I put the artillery piece back.

I know you’re thinking what a dumb thing to do, and you would be right. The next day, just before bed, I noticed the board again was missing artillery–this time, both of them. When I hunted around the general vicinity, I found nothing but two tiny wheels lying on the carpet like limbs torn from a scarecrow. I set them on the board like an homage to their fallen body and went to bed. Only after I was in bed did I consider the one piece on the board that was more valuable than one man or one artillery piece…the Storch plane! No, she was having too much fun with the man and machine to see the plane hanging over the airfield in its stand. It will be alright.

Again, I was proven to be a complete imbecile. It was indeed gone from the battlefield when I checked the next morning. Right!! We need to find these missing pieces, especially the one-and-only-one Storch. Flashlight and yardstick in hand, I started with the one inch gap under the couch. This is a favorite toy accessory, in case you don’t know cats. Push something into hiding, then fish it out again; repeat until you push it too far to reach then find something else to play with. Ah, there’s the missing man and an artillery piece. But I couldn’t see too far and, of course, I had help…R. J. wanting to see which of her toys I had found. Hmm, a flash drive. Wonder how long that has been under here?

Time to move on to phase 2 because I WILL find the Storch! Now this couch is a sleeper sofa, and nearly as heavy as a real artillery piece so I wasn’t going to try moving it. That means it’s come to opening this beast which hasn’t been opened in probably 20 years. Dust bunnies call the area hiding just under the couch back Nirvana.

After vacuuming and fighting to get the bed unfolded, I was ecstatic to find the second artillery piece and the Storch, still in its stand! I felt like throwing a ticker tape parade but I’d already done enough cleaning up on this matter. So I just put the plane in the box for safe-keeping, and laid a light piece of sheeting over the rest of the board, held down with some weightier nicknacks. And crossed my fingers.

Only one thing remained to do. Get the cat out from under the couch so I could put the bed back.

Utah Beach scenario restored but notice the two poor little wheels lying next to the artillery pieces. Sad.

Utah Beach scenario restored but notice the two poor little wheels lying next to the artillery pieces. Sad.

 

 

Posted in board games, Humor | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Gentlemen, start your engines. A review of Thunder Alley

Posted by sodaklady on March 1, 2013

We like race games, all kinds of races and all kinds of game mechanics from the quick and fun GMT Formula Motor Racing to slow and analytical Bolide; from dog sledding in Snow Tails to escaping pirates in Cartagena. Thunder Alley caught my attention when it was announced for GMT’s P500 list and I proceeded to follow the designer’s blog and subscribed to the game page.

This game has had quite a life already and it hasn’t even been printed. From the P500 where it lagged, to Kickstarter where it perished, and back to GMT with a guarantee to be printed this summer thanks to a contribution from a fan, it has several laps under its belt before the race even started.

The files section on Board Game Geek contains a Print and Play version for 2 players, which is the basis for my review. It contains the simple oval track, the Race Cards, Event Cards, and lots of chits representing your cars, damage markers, lap points, and place trophy points.

The two main things that separate this race game from others are that you control a team of three to six cars, depending on the number of players (2-7); and when you activate a car, it often affects many cars, including your opponents’.  This doesn’t sound like a big innovation and in truth, I couldn’t grasp how it would feel to race with these rules– what made it fun or special. That’s why I finally put together the PnP version to try it out myself.

This is the Dover short oval track.

This is the Dover oval short track.

The board shows a simple oval with an inside track that is used only as the pits. Pitting occurs at the end of each game round no matter where you are on the track. This is a simple way to handle pitting and works very well although not totally thematic for those who are anal about such things.

The player mat for each player's team also has a handy reference for damage results and End of Turn Sequence.

The player mat for each player’s team also has a handy reference for damage results and End of Turn Sequence.

Each player has a player mat to keep track of the damage for each of their cars. The damage can be either permanent or temporary, the latter being the only kind that can be fixed during a pit stop. The cars are two-sided, gray and white backgrounds so you can keep track of which cars have been activated on a turn.

Thunder Alley cards

The Race cards contain various pieces of information. At the top is the title of the card shown in a particular color which denotes the type of damage taken when that card is played. In the top left corner are two numbers, the larger is the number of Action Points used on a turn, the smaller is used only when leaving the pits. In the center is an icon to show the type of movement you’ll be using on the car you activate this turn. More on this later. Some cards have text which applies when you play this card, and at the bottom is the Team Bar which is used to choose starting positions at the start of the game and to settle any ties. Simple and very useable cards but I’d personally like to see the movement arrows reflected at the top left so it can be seen when the hand of cards are fanned.

Each round begins with dealing cards to players, one more than the number of cars they control. Then players take turns, starting with the owner of the pole position car, playing a card to activate one of their cars and continuing around until all the cars have been activated. Then you perform the end of the round sequence which is:  determine the Leader, perform Pit Stops, determine first player (the lead car), and remove any lapped cars (ouch! Keep up!)

The movement mechanic is the heart of the game, of course, and is like no other game I own or have played. It is quite simple and very effective.

Solo movement is just as it states, you activate one car and move it using the Action Points on the card. It takes one point to move to an adjacent empty space, straight ahead or laterally (sideways); two points to move sideways when that space is occupied; and three points to move forward if you must push a car that is in front of you. If you push a car laterally, it moves into the next lane unless it is already in the inmost or outmost lane, in which case it is pushed backwards one space. Doesn’t that sound like racing?

Draft movement involves a line of cars linked forward and backward to the activated car. The whole string of cars move the allotted movement points, including any cars that are picked up in front of the line as it moves. You can move laterally only at the start of movement, spending movement points as you do in solo movement; once you start forward, you must keep going forward in a straight line until all movement points are used.

Pursuit movement is rather like pushing the line of cars you have linked to in front of you. Like Draft movement, you can only move laterally at the beginning of your move. Not being a race fan in real life, this felt like the least thematic part of the game. Come on, if the car in front of me makes a break for it, I’m going to stick to his tail if I can, right? Maybe that’s it, the cars behind are just not able to keep up.

Lead movement is the final type and is just as it sounds, leading the string of cars that begin the movement linked behind the activated car. Unlike Draft and Pursuit, you can zig and zag through the pack however you wish provided you have the action points, and the cars behind you will follow your actions exactly. This really feels like finding the whole in the pack and making a break for it.

Damage (or wear) on a vehicle slows it down, the more damage, the less movement points you can use. If you activate a car that already has 6 damage markers, it is eliminated.

At the end of the race, points are awarded for the Position each car finished, one point for being the lap leader at any time, and an extra point for leading the most laps. After adding the points for each car on your team, the player with the most points wins and does a victory lap around the table, finishing with a couple of donuts if they still have tires.

We were captivated by the game in almost no time at all. It’s simple to grasp, offers a challenge but isn’t brain-burning, gives you the thrill of a real race without all the noise and fumes, and most importantly…it’s fun. There’s the feeling of racing that I can’t explain effectively, something that doesn’t come through by simply reading the rules and understanding the concept. It can only be understood by doing–by seeing the movement of cars and changing of positions that you caused with a simple turn of a card.

If you can’t print your own version or see a demo somewhere, then take just trust me on this: if you love racing or racing games, you should try this game. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it.

Posted in board games, Do-It-Yourself Games, Reviews | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Suburban Blight

Posted by sodaklady on February 16, 2013

Back in the ’90s I was hooked on a computer game called Caesar, a city building game with a Roman theme. I loved seeing the results of building different buildings and working to keep my citizens happy. I played it over and over, trying different setups.

That should make a highly-rated board game that people compare to such computer games as Sim City and City Tycoon a decent option for me and my husband so I finally got a copy of Suburbia by Ted Alspach.

Image by Walt Mulder. Suburbia at Essen 2012

I don’t mind the stark graphics on the tiles because everything is clear, easy to see, and easy to understand. I’m not thrilled with the color scheme on the population score board, but it’s useable. The boards are marked so as to aid you in setup, which is always nice in my opinion.

The game play is very simple: Pay the price on the tile you want plus any extra shown above it on the Real Estate Market Board, place it in your borough of the city, then adjust income and reputation as shown on the placed tile, any adjacent tiles that are affected, any non-adjacent tiles that affected, and any tiles in someone else’s borough that are affected or that affect the tile you just placed. Oh, wait, that’s simple in theory but annoying in practice. My husband said it felt like work. Then you receive your income (or not) and population increase (or decrease) as shown on your player board. Lastly, shift the building tiles below the Market board and add a new one to the left side.

Since the newest tiles are more expensive due to the added cost on the Market Board, your choices will often be limited to the cheapest two or three, maybe four tiles. I found the choice offered very little tension or angst most of the time. During our first game, I kept thinking, “I’d rather be playing London.”

The main goal of the game is to increase your population but if your city grows too fast, you could be in big trouble. You start the game with zero income and one population. Reputation gives you people every turn, but every time your score marker crosses a red line on the population track, your reputation and income decrease by one. You can actually end up paying money rather than getting an income, and losing population instead of gaining. This is a means to keep players from running away with scoring too easily but it seems that every time I’d manage to increase my reputation, I’d cross a line and lose it again. Annoying.

There are 100 building tiles in the game but each game uses only 49-67 of them placed in three stacks with an end-game tile mixed into the bottom 10 of the third stack. That’s a lot of replayability. Add into that, 20 Goal Tiles, some known by all the players and one that each player keeps hidden. This adds to the replayability, too, but can be frustrating as well. Also, it feels a little like it was added on just to add something extra, a secret scoring that would give hope to those dawdling at the back of the pack.

Most of the things I’ve griped about are things that many, many others have not experienced. It’s a clever game with neat interactions between the buildings, and also subtle interactions between the players. But in the end, my husband and I just could not find the FUN in it. And therein lies the secret to a well-loved game: fun.

Posted in board games, New Game, Reviews | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Autumn is here. It’s Game Time!

Posted by sodaklady on September 27, 2012

Summer always seems too busy, and too tiring, for games. But it gave me the chance to discover gaming on the iPad! Even when you’re busy, you can take a couple of minutes to take your turn at several very good games. I am currently enjoying several games of Carcassonne, which I was talked into paying the exorbitant amount of $10 and it was worth every penny! Every little touch, such as the chat and the option to see what tiles remain in the draw, adds to the ease and enjoyment of the game. I also am playing Summoner Wars and patiently awaiting new factions to try out; Le Havre is kicking my butt since I was only vaguely familiar with it before the purchase; Ticket to Ride Pocket; Lost Cities,;and the oh-so-fun-and-frustrating Disc Drivin’. But enough of that–on with the board games!  (The links here are to the Video Game Geek game page, when available.)

Now that I’ve finished canning beans, making pickles, and freezing applesauce, there’s time to think about board games again. I recently bought Castles of Burgundy after finally making it through a video review of it. For some reason, I had a hard time getting interested enough in most of the reviews to watch more than a couple of minutes, and I couldn’t get into reading the rules at all, but my long-time Geek Buddies assured me with their ratings and comments that this was a game I should try. And they were indeed correct.

I set up a 2-player game to play solo, working through the rules so I could easily teach Richard the game, and after only a couple of turns knew this was fun! I love rolling dice but they are so unabashedly evil to me that I usually want to throw them across the room at some point in the game. Not so with Burgundy. You have several choices of what to do with your roll as well as “Workers” to help you adjust the count if you need to.  Any roll can be used to get you more Workers, and they are worth points at the end of the game so are always a useful commodity. There are tough choices in how you attempt to build your estate, and the game comes with several different estate layouts to keep the game from becoming the same old thing.

Castles of Burgundy

Castles of Burgundy

Speaking of dice, Richard and I have been playing Wurfel Bohnanza (the Bohnanaza dice game) whenever we have 20 minutes of so to kill, like between lunch and get-up-and-get-back-to-work. This is a light, quick, fun dice-roller so don’t let the bad rolls get to you. Roll the dice, set at least one aside as you try to fulfill the orders on your card, then roll again. Oh, wait! Those other players who seem to be just waiting around to take their turn? They need to be paying attention because if you roll what they’re looking for, they can use it to fill their order, too! This is a good little filler for people who can’t help but love to roll dice.

Wurfel Bohnanza

Wurfel Bohnanza

Another new-to-me game that I’ve had my eye on since it’s debut at Essen 2010 is Matin Wallace’s London. This is basically a card game but the board map adds another way to earn points at the end of the game. The premise is the rebuilding of London after the fire of 1666 so the cards (which represent buildings, for the most part) are divided into 3 groups to keep the theme running in chronological order. You must use a card from your hand as payment for another card that you wish to build. This, as in San Juan, can be cause for some tough decision-making. Now balance making points with making money, throw in the Poverty Points (which are bad, as you can guess) and you have a game that is an intensely satisfying experience. Yes, it may take longer than you had planned– 1 1/2 to 2 hours– but it’s the type of game my husband and I enjoy. We also love the crayon rail games (Martian Rails, British Rails, Eurorails), so if that helps you set the atmosphere, so be it.

London board game

London. I like the colors and style of the map, but others have been less than enthusiastic.

And the final new addition which we’re really enjoying is the expansion boards for Ticket to Ride, India and Switzerland. These are tight boards which are good for 2 or 3 players, and each have a little twist to the basic rules, of course. Switzerland has tunnels; lots and lots of tunnels. If you try to build a tunnel line, you also turn over 3 cards from the deck. For each one that matches what you played to build that stretch of rails, you have to play another card. You don’t lose the cards you played, but your turn is over with nothing accomplished. There are also some Destination Tickets that are more generic, giving points for connecting a specified country to any other country on the edge of the board or a specific city to any country. The points vary depending on how hard these connections are to manage.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride maps, India on this side, Switzerland on the back.

India is more standard in its tickets and rail-building, with the exception of Ferries. Ferries are water routes that have one or two spots on them which must have a Locomotive to fill. And there is an additional end-game scoring for “mandala”, which means “circle” in Sanskrit. Every ticket you finish which has at least 2 distinct continuous paths qualifies for a bonus; the more tickets which qualify, the bigger the bonus. This is a clever variation because of how densely populated the map is, and it may be my favorite so far.

So with the leaves falling in the yard, and the squirrel gathering walnuts from the trees out back, I’m hoping to find the time and inclination to do more writing here. And Essen is just around the corner, friends!

Posted in board games, iOS board games, New Game | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Game Day: Doing it Old-Style (mostly)

Posted by sodaklady on May 21, 2012

Our tiny group has taken a bit of a turn lately. Dave has been plagued with various problems, including working 7 days a week! so Mike has brought his nieces (Sabrina, age 10 and Samantha, age 13) along with him. He has been honing their gaming skills for years and they enjoy a variety of games including Caylus and Power Grid.

Sunday Mike brought Talisman and Cosmic Encounter with him. These are two older games, Talisman being around since 1983 and Cosmic Encounter since 1977. Both of these games have been reprinted by various publishers to keep them available for the fans.

I brought out Cartagena (2000), Tsuro (2004) and Bohnanza (1997). Again, these games have been around for a fair number of years, Tsuro being the baby of the bunch at only 8 years old.  I also had to play my current favorite, Kingdom Builder, just today nominated for the 2012 Spiel des Jahres (German board game of the year award).

So what keeps some of these older games in the forefront of people’s imaginations? What makes them classics, worth reprinting years after they were first introduced even with the plethora of games coming out each year? Sometimes, I think, it may just be nostalgia. Talisman and Cosmic Encounter were many gamer’s introduction to board games; their Monopoly, as it were. And that seems an apt comparison to me because the amount of randomness and lack of control, not to mention the time it takes to play Talisman, is very similar.

As for Cartagena, its cleverness surprises me every time I pull it out. Play a card to move forward; move backwards to receive more cards. Simple. But managing your cards and where you leave your playing pieces at the end of your turn are the goals to succeeding in this game. People who figure out these two points will enjoy this game, people who can’t be bothered will never understand.

Bohnanza is a great game for a group of rowdy, extroverted people ready to haggle and trade. Again, a simple concept– you must not rearrange your cards in hand– results in a fun and memorable game unlike anything else. I can understand this being a classic; it’s great for families, serious gamers looking for something light, kids playing something without supervision, and drunks out for some laughs. Those last two are quite a bit alike, actually, aren’t they?

Personally, I’d rather play a lot of these older games in my collection than almost anything released in the last 3 or 4 years. How many games being released this year will become the new classics in 10-15 years? Will Kingdom Builder have a cult following, yearning for another expansion or a fancier version with better bits?

As far as game day went, we had a great time. Well, except for Cosmic Encounter, which I just do NOT get. I’d rather play The Farming Game!

Posted in board games, Game Night, Game-related Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Kingdom Builder

Posted by sodaklady on January 31, 2012

Kingdom Builder box coverI’m not a fan of Dominion so when I bought Kingdom Builder, I wasn’t looking for the next awesome game by Donald X. Vaccarino; I was looking for a lighter, fun game with lots of re-play value. Did I find that? Yes. Emphatically yes.

The game is for 2 to 4 players, age 8 and over, with a play time of about 45 minutes. If you’re a fan of Dominion and think this is another deck-builder, it’s  not, in any sense; nor is it card drafting or hand-management as you only get 1 card at a time; nor is it area control, worker placement or pick-up and deliver. There are no stocks to invest in, no trading or betting or bidding. The mechanics listed on the Board Game Geek page is “route/network building” and that’s close but still misses. You’re just making points the best way you can manage given 3 random cards that set the parameters, and four random abilities provided by the map layout. And that, it turns out, is more than enough.

Kingdom Builder boards

Here are the 8 boards that come in the game. You can't build on the grey mountains at all, and only on the water with a special ability chit.

On your turn you show your card and place 3 of your wooden houses (settlements) on that type of terrain, adjacent to previous houses if possible. The “adjacent” rule is very important, limiting where you can go and possibly making your opening move a critical one. If you have built next to a location where the various ability chits are placed, you can use each of those abilities once each turn either before or after building your settlements. Then you draw a new card. That’s it; that’s your whole turn. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

The secret is in which locations with their special abilities you build next to.  The abilities are:  place a new settlement on a desert (yellow) hex, move a settlement two hexes in a straight line, move a settlement to the terrain type on your card, place a new settlement on the edge of the board, place a new settlement on  a grass (light green) hex, place a settlement on a hex of your terrain card type, move a settlement to a water hex, and place a new settlement at the end of a row of three or more of your settlements.

Kingdom Builder location summaries

These nice location summary cards are placed next to the boards as reminders.

When you add 4 of these abilities to your placement options, it can open up your choices nicely. But if you choose poorly, you can find them totally useless in helping you achieve points as dictated by the scoring cards drawn for this particular game.

There are 3 scoring cards (out of 10 that come with the game),  dealt randomly each game. You can be trying to place settlements adjacent to mountains or water, on many horizontal lines or vertical lines, or adjacent to castles and locations. You may be trying to create one very large settlement area or as many areas as you can. Maybe you’ll have to build settlements in each of the four map sectors, or connect locations and castles. Sometimes the combination of scoring cards work together but sometimes they are such that you have to choose which ones to concentrate on.

 

Kingdom Builder scoring cards

Here are the 10 scoring cards with lovely artwork.

When a player puts his last settlement on the board, that triggers the end of the game–scoring occurs at the end of that round. You add the points you earned for the three scoring cards, and three points for each castle next to which you placed a settlement. The winner is the player with the most points, of course. In case of a tie, you’re all equally brilliant!

The components are nice, as you would expect from Queen Games. The colors and artwork are clear, making it easy to see across the game table, and the cheat sheets for the locations’ abilities are a nice addition. I like that the back of each map board has a score track, making it useful as well as eliminating the need for VP or money tokens to keep score.

Each time I’ve played, I’ve had a good time even if I lost. Although the game is simple in theory, there’s a puzzle-like aspect to finding the best way to accomplish the goals set out by the scoring cards. How do I get across the board or build many small areas when I am required to place adjacent if possible? Which ability tile is going to help me the most? Where should I start when I want to make one long horizontal line but the board is full of rivers?

Kingdom Builder score boardThe game may take 45 minutes to play, but it doesn’t feel like that much time has passed because the turns are quick for the most part. There is very little confrontation except when someone builds in your way, which could be on accident or deliberate, depending on the people with whom you’re playing. Around here, you can assume it’s deliberate!

 

Posted in board games, New Game, Reviews | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

A Quick Look At 2011

Posted by sodaklady on January 1, 2012

I’m not going to do a traditional post listing every game I played this year; I think that’s boring to write so it’s probably boring to read as well. But there are a few things of note that I wanted to mention.

As far as board gaming goes, this has been a stellar year for me. In the middle of June our group of three expanded to four with the addition of Dave. And a great addition he is:  funny, smart, a gracious winner as well as a good loser, and willing to give anything a try.

Richard and I discovered the crayon rail games this year and logged an amazing 53 plays of Martian Rails. In fact it was the final game of the year, played on New Year’s eve as we waited for the year to close. We also played Eurorails 22 times. That’s a lot of crayon rails!

Two other games that got more than the usual number of plays was Defenders of the Realm and Power Grid, both with 11 plays. Defenders of the Realm was played mostly 2-player, while Power Grid has become one of the group’s favorites. Along with Ra: The Dice Game, it will never be turned down.

Cori's Wedding

A bring-your-own-umbrella wedding in the back yard.

On the personal side of the year, our daughter, Cori, got married in a lovely steampunk ceremony in the back yard, in the rain. It was the highlight of the year and will be remembered by everyone in attendance as one of the best weddings ever.

The less wonderful part of life also visited us this year; we lost my mother in July, one of our cats in September, and our Corgi in November. Those were probably the worst six months I can remember in a long, long time.

And so… a new year begins and I wish all my readers a new year filled with hope and love and laughter. And may this year be better than the last.

Posted in board games, Personal | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Game Day — Risk Legacy

Posted by sodaklady on December 20, 2011

Mike came by early on Sunday so he and I played one of my BGG Secret Santa games, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. I had tried it a couple of times solo but having a partner to go questing with added a lot to the experience, as well as making some rules pertinent where they have no meaning when playing solo. We were doing pretty well, Mike taking the Leadership deck and me playing the Tactics deck; he added most of his characters to the quest and I had the big-hitters to take on the enemies… except the Encounter deck was too busy spitting out Locations to give us anything to fight!

With one location as our current quest and four sitting in queue, we were adding at least one Threat to our Threat Level each turn. The couple enemies we did encounter didn’t give us much trouble but then… dun-dun-duuunnn… OMG! Double whammy! Mike had put out a very large contingent of allies and sent them all questing with a total of about 31 Willpower. Whoa, I thought, do we really need all that? (There was about 9 threat in the staging area.) Then we drew our two cards: Driven By Shadow which adds 1 Threat to each enemy and each location! Whew, it’s a good thing he sent all of his guys questing then; we were safe. But wait! We also drew Ungoliant’s Spawn who subtracts 1 Willpower from each character committed to the quest. Oh, nooooo! That was our undoing.

And now for the main event of the day, Mike’s newest purchase, the reason you’ve all come here today: Risk Legacy! There should be no spoilers here since it was our first game and no new rules or rules changes were made, no hidden components were revealed.Risk Legacy

The box arrived at the table unopened, the seal stating, “NOTE: What’s been done can never be undone.”  Now if you’re like me, you’d want to try whatever you could to play the game but still leave it so you could start fresh, undoing what choices and changes you’ve made; not Mike. He was determined to have this be the one and only way it would be played. So… make your choices good ones!Risk sealed box

On opening the box, we found 4 packets stickered to the lid with instructions on when they could be opened. Lifting the board from the box revealed two rather large compartments also with instructions. On the back of the board is a form for the players to sign and date stating, “We, the undersigned, take responsibility for the wars we about to start, the decisions we will make, and the history we will write. Everything that is going to happen is going to happen because of us.”  Then at the bottom, “The wars started on the following date.” Fun! We all got that tingle of excitement–something cool has begun.

Risk Legacy future packets

The basic Risk rules apply but the set up is different; you only get one area from which to begin your takeover. The story is about humanity leaving all of the nastiness on Earth and landing on a pristine planet to start anew. Uh-huh, we can live in harmony. Sure. Anyway, everyone chooses one spot as their starting location as long as it isn’t adjacent to another player, and spreads out from there. Each player chooses a faction and customizes it using one of the two stickers provided for each.

I chose the Enclave of the Bear because one of my cats’ name is Bear. Oh, like none of you would do that!! I chose the attribute that lets me conquer a territory if I roll a natural 3 of a kind and defeat at least one defender. Cool but tough to do. The other choice was for the defender to subtract 1 from the lower defense die in the first territory I attack. Might have been more useful but not nearly as cool!

Balkania and Bear factions

 

Khan and Saharan factions

Richard took the Saharan Republic– I think he liked the hot chick with a gun! He chose the ability to maneuver to any territory you control even if it’s not connected. The other choice was to make the maneuver at any point during your turn. Oh, that might have been useful if you’re not sure which front someone is going to attack. Alas, tis done.

Dave liked the military outfits of the Imperial Balkania and chose to give them the ability to round up rather than down when dividing your territory and population for new recruits. His other option was to be able to draw a card even if you didn’t conquer a territory but you have to have expanded into 4 or more territories. That can be tough to do except at the beginning of the game when almost everything is empty so I think he made a good choice.

 

Mike was surprised that no one had taken Khan Industries so grabbed them for himself. He made a good choice, giving them the ability to add a troop at the beginning of his turn to each territory with a headquarters they they control. Nice. The other option seemed just as good though: add a troop to the territory you just drew a card for if you control it.

The final faction is the Die Machaniker. We group chose to let them have their starting base be fortified if they are defending it. The tossed ability is that your territory cannot be attacked again this turn if you defend it with two natural 6s.  I think we made the better choice and I would be happy to get them the next time we play.

Die Mechaniker faction

We rolled and Mike got to start. He chose to start in one of the southern territories of the US. I chose North Africa, Richard took Australia, and Dave settled for a spot in Europe. During the course of our 45 minute game, Dave was attacked from all three directions at one point or another. I came very close to winning when I took his base and then headed towards Mike’s all in one turn. If Mike hadn’t put up such a good fight in the one territory between me and his HQ, I would have made it. Instead, depleted, I watched as Richard took the win. He got to be the first person to sign the board and he created a major city and named it.

We have added a couple of “scars” to the board, two Ammo Shortages which makes the defender subtract 1 from his higher die, and a Bunker which lets the defender add 1 to his higher die. And Mike has added a minor city, naming it for one of his two sons. we really enjoyed this and all look forward to whatever changes we will see in the future. You noticed that the factions have spaces for 4 more large stickers and a smaller one just under the name– can’t wait to see what those will be! Unfortunately, that probably won’t be until after the new year.

Until then, Happy Christmas and a game-filled New Year to all!

 

 

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Bolide

Posted by sodaklady on September 27, 2011

Ever since caveman days, when he discovered that being faster meant that he not only had a better chance of catching dinner but more likely not to become dinner, we have been obsessed with speed so it’s no surprise that race games are a popular genre– car races, horse races, bicycle races, tortoise vs. hare races, lemming against lemming races– you name it, we’ll race it.

Bolide is a car racing game originally produced by Ghenos Games in 2005. They advertised it as a “revolutionary” car racing game and were immediately pounced upon by many who had played it as Racetrack using a pen and graph paper. I say if you want to play it with a boring piece of paper and a pen, go for it, but I’d rather play on a big, picturesque board (roughly 27 X 38 1/2 inches) with nice little plastic cars in eight colors with matching pawns.

Bolide board

The board is two-sided. This is the French track, the opposite side has a British track.

The “revolutionary” part of the game is in the physics-driven mechanism for moving your car which simulates the inertial effects of speed and turning. The faster your car is going, the wider the turning radius it will need so you are forced to slow down or run off the track. This is done using a pawn that exactly copies the movement your car just made to mark a target location for your next move.

Bolide pieces

The eight cars with their corresponding movement pawns.

Bolide movement

An example of movement: any space with the coin is a valid point for the car's next move. His current speed is 5, counting from the car to the marker.

Your movement can be to the point occupied by the marker or any point that is within two spots of the marker. In this way you can speed up or slow down by two on your turn. The two-spot limit prevents you from zooming around a corner at speed seven which would place your marker for the next move out in the middle of a field, and make you some sabertooth tiger’s dinner.

This has been a “wow” game for me and everyone I’ve shown it to. It may not be revolutionary to some but it was a new and clever mechanism for us. It is also fun if you have the right people. You can not, I emphasize “not”, spend five minutes planning out this move, the next move and the one after that. Fly by the seat of your pants, rely on experience and/or intuition, and have a good time.

Bolide in-game shot

A shot from our last game. That's my blue car in the back of the pack with only two spots on the track available for my next movement.

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