What’s this? video games again? well it’s not just ANY video game it’s the soon to be released (unless like me you got early access) new Battlefield game.  Battlefield 1

If you’re a BF fan you’ve probably already ordered it from a CD key site and this is a pointless post but I’m going to talk anyway.  I’m playing it on the PC btw since I’m not 13 years old

I started playing BF1 a few days back having gotten early access to it via a voucher for an upgrade.  So unlike YOU people I’ve had a hearstart. Anyhoe the big question you’ll have is… Is it any good.  yes, it’s VERY good, it’s better than BF4.  The setting is magnificent (WW1).  It’s varied, the graphics are magnificent and structures are more susceptible to destruction.  Driving a tank through a building is sublime.  The one thing I would say is it requires a bit more horsepower than BF4.  On high settings I found it chugged a bit on certain maps which contained a large amount of buildings.

It IS to a certain extent the same again as BF4 or maybe a BF4.5 but it’s good fun and we didn’t expect anything radical.  A couple of things I really liked were how the Zeppelin crashed.  OK you’ve probably seen the videos on this where one side gets control of a Zeppelin and rains hell down on the enemy below (the equivalent of the gunship in BF4).  When it takes enough damage the whole thing comes down Hindenburg style. Unlike BF4 where all of these big terrain crashes are on rails and more importantly static.  The crash happens where ever it got shot down and it comes down realistically littering the area with smouldering wreckage and lots of smoke.

The aeroplanes are a throwback to BF1942, slower and once again with bombs but not as overpowered as they were in BF2.  There’s a slow recharge of bombs rather than a nip home to rearm mechanic.  There’s a mixtures of 1, 2 and 3 seater planes.  No helicopters.

Spawning is pure BF4 and you get to pick vehicles at the start if they’re available.  I was concerned they’d go the stupid route of Star Wars Battlefront where you have to pick up a token to get access.   There is a bit of this where you can get access to special characters like Flamethrower man and Heavy Infantry with Heavy Machine gun.

There’s a few other game types in there and a very interesting looking campaign mode where you play a game over a range of maps.  A lovely feature I saw was where you could pick a full server and whilst queuing to join it browse other game servers in case something else took your fancy

It’s early days yet the game hasn’t been released to the hoi polloi yet so the underpopulated servers will fill up soon. If you’re wondering if you did the right thing preordering it.  I’m sure you did, it’s more BF they don’t appear to have messed it up yet.





Play Nice

I’m a huge fan of xcom. I was a huge fan of it before it was xcom and it was laser squad. I followed it when It had shit graphics, when it went underwater, into outer space, when the aliens took over and more recently when it rebooted. Xcom have done a admirable job recreating the feel of the game. It oozes xcom. Actually Fantasy Flight have spoiled us with their production values. Every other new game is now FF benchmarked by default. 
I spoke about xcom when it came out but it had been a long time since we played it last and last Thur we had a quick crack at it again. 

Xcom is one of the new app driven games from Fantasy Flight. It’s a co-op game but it’s one of the better co-op games however that doesn’t make it a really good game. Ever stick a battery in a battery tester and it just makes it into the green good zone? That’s xcom. You can’t fault the game but it’s just not exceptional and more importantly having played it a few times I don’t have any urge to run out and buy it. 

The problem I have is you’re competing with the app. It’s tense it’s exciting but there just isn’t the same sense of achievement as beating a human. Imagine if Fantasy Flight’s Battlestar Galactica game didn’t have a traitor in it. Would you play it if everyone was really working together and it was a set of rules you were playing against? Red November anyone ?

What if Fury of Dracula had an AI for Dracula or the hunters? Would you play that? Being able to point at you’re opponents and laugh at them when you beat them is what it’s all about. A smart phones not the same 
Xcom has the potential to be a magnificent game but it requires more human. What about a mechanic where the aliens are easier but one player is secretly an Advent agent working with the aliens? What about an expansion with a human playing the alien invaders? Fantasy Flight stop this coop madness. I don’t want to play coop I want to play a proper board game. If you want to add AI I have no problem with that but please don’t make it coop as a result. I don’t play nice with others. 

Dice and slice

When Picard stared long enough he saw five lights. When I played quantum ones on the dice started to look really menacing. 
Quantum is a lite 4x space game. It might be missing an x or two but it’s no worse off for that. Players take control of three ships which are really three big d6 and set about trying to build a number of quantum cubes (just regular cubes) on limited spots on different planets before their opponents do the same. Obviously it’s not straightforward and you’ll get into fights with your up to three opponents. 

The game starts by picking a map to play on from the list provided. The maps consists of maybe a dozen or so beer mat type cards each with a planet on them and eight spaces around them you can occupy with ships. Each planet has a number from 7 to 10 on it and in order to build a cube you have to surround it with ships (dice) equal in total to it’s value. You can only have one of your cubes on any given planet and since you’ve a half dozen to build you’re going to rub up against you’re opponents pretty quickly. Oh err missus. 
Ships are rolled at the start. The number on them determining their type. Lower numbers are better in combat but slow moving and visa versa. Each number has a special ability so a scout (6) can transform like a robot in disguise into a different number. A space station (1) can fire on an adjacent space, a frigate (3) can warp and swap spaces with another ship and so on. There’s some really great combo moves to be played here where you warp here, transport there and so on. You have to think on your feet but it’s rarely analysis paralysis. 

In addition to their special moves ships can move, transform (reroll), build cubes, redeploy if killed. You can also research which gives you access to one shot gambit cards that boost some stat, adds additional ships to your fleet or take one of the white permanent affect cards that stay with you and give you some nice little advantage like rerolls or free research. So once again we’re spreading our limited resources between conquest and teching up. 
It’s a struggle to get all your cubes out (not sure if this deserves and oh err missus or not) and it’s also a very visible indicator of how close you are to completing the game. In our case when we played the classic of “quick! He/she’s winning let’s all gang up on he/she” happened and inevitably the player in second place slid in and took a win while we had our fingers in the dyke. (Nothing to see here move on)
The game is fast and fun. It’s beautifully produced with lovely artwork. Lovely sturdy player boards and nice big colorful dice (which DO look like Turkish delight Borys). You can set the game up for a variety of lengths but even a long game will be no more than the two hour mark. 

I had a feeling it about it when I saw it first and am happy with my purchase. This is a neat, clean unambiguous game and I say bravo
Then huzzah!

Return to Dracula’s Castle

We returned to 3rd ed Fury of Dracula last week. It had been played a few times at the last Knavecon and I as Dracula had gotten hammered twice in a row having talked big beforehand. A almost sure fire way of guaranteeing a loss before you start 
I’d played Dracula many times as the main man second ed. and I was eager to up my KD ration in third ed so off we set

If you like me (and the crew of firefly) like shiny you won’t be disappointed with the new edition. Everything is improved and it wasn’t too bad to start with. Art work is top notch. On the cards on the board it’s just lovely. Counters are a tad bigger and less fiddly. Combat has definitely been streamlined, note I didn’t say improved. Some of the silly OP cards are gone (not all). The models are arguably a step up too and then…. it all goes to pot
The game is just too bloody long. If Dracula is worth his garlic he’ll lead a merry dance but the end conditions are just too far away and the game drags. Yes it will speed up a bit as you learn it but not by much. By week three it accelerates dramatically points wise for Mr D but I really would have preferred a constant increase throughout not a sprint at the end. The sense of dread is not there if you can’t easily score early points 
The night and day cycle has been messed up. Before you had day lasting a few turns then night lasting a few turns and so on. Hunters had to be careful at night. Dracula was very powerful. Likewise Mr D had to avoid contact in daylight or face certain death. Now it flip flops and it’s impossible to build a plan around it. Combat has definitely been simplified and improved but it just doesn’t seem as dramatic or tense with day and night. I remember as Dracula grinning when the sun went down in second ed.

Attacking hunters is no longer a wise option. It’s so much easier just to avoid contact and hide out at sea in week three. It’s lazy. When I play a game I want options. In second ed stalking and killing a weaker hunter like Nina was magnificent and always put the dread sidewise in the hunters. 
While a number of the silly teleport, reset and gps cards are gone there’s still a couple of silly ones that allow you to instantly give up your position when you enter a sea space which kills the whole thing. 
So here’s what I want. I want Fury of Dracula 2.5. Same scoring and timer as second ed Remove a few cards and everything else from 3rd ed and now we’re sucking Diesel or more correctly blood. And I want to now. So get busy


A most present supplies 

Race for the Rhine is a game I picked up from the (very nice) developers at the U.K. games expo and have been dying to play for some time. I had a quick demo play of it at the con and I really liked it. 
Race for the Rhine sees three allied Generals (Monty, Patton, Jo Brand) at the conclusion of the Second World War vying to be the first to get their troops through France (or Fronce if you prefer) and across the Rhine into Germany. For the good of the free world or more accurately glory and medals. 

The game shows a sideways not to scale map of France with a network of strategic points and a web of connecting roads. The idea is to make your way from the supply points in the west all the way to Germany in the East. Good luck with that btw it’s quite a tall order. The first one over the line wins the other absolutely do not. Along the way you may pick up medals for winning battles, taking tough objectives and feeding starving Frenchies. Should no one make it all the way to the Rhine by game end it’s the one with the most ribbons on their chest that wins. 
A turn consists of each player doing two actions each of which will benefit them and quite often inconvenience your allies. Grab resources (fuel, food, ammo) from the collective pool and stick it on your mustering point. Move one of your corps (which takes fuel), requisition trucks into your hand. Lay down some trucks to setup a supply line and bucket brigade supplies along it. Once you’ve done two of these you flip and take the role of the German army and stick down another German token from the advancing counter attack stack across the Rhine. Obviously make sure to place it where it will most inconvenience your allies

Moving corps (armies) causes you to flip discovery cards from your stack when you enter somewhere you hadn’t previously conquered. You might encounter some light German resistance, starving civilians, helpful partisans, a supply cache and so on. The cards also feature no events but cause the weather to change from sunny (all good) to stormy (your Air support can’t fly). Now advancing slowly towards you is the German counter attack if you move onto a token placed by your allies at the end of their turn you’ll face much tougher opposition that will cost you a lot more ammo and fuel to defeat but may get you a medal for your trouble. It might also cause you to retreat or worse still burn too many resources and get bogged down and require rescue in the form of precious resources 
That’s pretty much the gist of it but there’s more rules for helpful air support and recon, triggers for having to feed your troops. Having corps get bogged down because of lack of supply and cut supply lines. Forward mini supply bases. Lots really but all logical and thematic. 
The game is pretty unique. I can see shades of a few different games here but this is quite different to everything else which I really like. Firstly you’re all technically working together but at the same time you’re cock blocking your opponent’s big time. There’s several game ending triggers which you need to keep and eye on and rev if you’re ahead. The sides are not symmetrical and each of the commanders have special abilities. Likewise the physical path through France varies depending on whom you pick to start with. I love all this

Production values are excellent. Chunky wooden army corps and meeple trucks. Lovely thematic artwork and good quality card stock. The rules can be a little overwhelming at first and suffer from iffy layout but nothing insurmountable. 
The only negative I can find and it’s a venial one is it’s three player and it’s rare I get the right numbers to play it. If you’re ok with that, you like different and WW2 go for it
Last one across the Rhine is a rotten egg

Potion #9

It’s bejeweled the boardgame! Shortest. Review. Ever. 
Potion explosion is a filler game featuring four colors of marbles all sitting snug in six slanted rows of a natty cardboard alchemists board that looks like someone put all the carriages in Colt Express together the wrong way round and upside down

Each player picks two thick flat cardboard breaking bad flasks which feature a number of holes for holding marbles and two or three colors. The idea is to pick marbles of the corresponding colors from the alchemist chutes and fill up the potion bottle holes with the appropriate amount of Marbles. So far so simple but of course that won’t last
The sizzle comes in picking the marbles. You can pick any one you like. If after picking one marble two colours of the same marble slide together you get to pick up all those marbles too. Clever picking will see you netting a big haul and the unused once are put back in the top and refill the chutes again. 

Once you complete a potion it can be tapped to provide a special ability like steal someone else’s marbles or pick a number from the bottom or take another go and so on. Potions are worth points at the end the more marbles it takes to fill them the more they are worth. There’s six different potion types. When you get three of a kind you are awarded a seal token worth extra points. Once five of these have been drawn it’s game over. 
There’s a little bit more like being able to store three unused marbles on the side of you player board and being able to take negative point chits to take an additional one marble. 
It’s pretty simple stuff but combinations of marbles and knock on effects can be complex (don’t let someone who over analyzes their moves play this). There’s definitely skill here and repeated play will increase you’re skill. It’s a beautifully presented game, the marbles really make it, but a lack of player interaction is a negative for me. 
Worth a look, may well be your thing and I’ll play it again but it doesn’t shine above any other filler game out there 
Good fun for a bit 

Eclipse PC version 

I recently picked up a copy of Eclipse dawn of a new blah on steam. It’s just been released on the PC. 
Now I’m a huge fan of eclipse. I’ve had the boardgame and the first expansion for ages and have even played a nine player (which was less chaotic and faster than you would think). I’ve had my greedy eyes on the electronic version since the iPad (which I don’t have) version was released and I was looking forward to the PC version coming out. Guess what! It’s shit

Now to be fair some board games just don’t lend themselves to electronic conversion and Eclipse is definitely one of them. That said the developers did a really bad job here. Where do I begin
First and foremost the interface is clunky. Lots of slide out menus reminiscent of a DOS game trying to be too clever. There’s no graphics settings so everything feels like it was designed for 800×600. Uninformative status displays. Dull graphics. Menus that sometimes disappear if you double click rather than single click and stop you from continuing the game. No save game. Very poor zoom (You can see only see ten hexes at most). I’m going to stop there but there’s more

What’s worse is there’s so much wrong with the game the developers will never get it right unless they scrap it and start again which they can’t.  I’ve no issue with a developer making a dogs of something while they are learning their trade but why did it have to be This game 
I didn’t bother with multiplayer. It was pointless. 
It’s a real pity. I love the board game and it’s not going to win any new fans the way it’s presented. So I’m going to cleanse myself by playing the real thing and for the first time ever. I’m going to ask for a refund from Steam
Bad show all around
Update : goddam I played it for over 2 hours so I’m stuck with it now. Lose lose.