It Never Sparkled

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Eclipse is not a new game but since another expansion is on the way for it and I recently reacquainted myself with the game let’s have a look at it….

I bought Eclipse a couple of years back when it came out quickly followed by the first expansion Rise of the Ancients. Eclipse is a 4x space game. It features a very clever economic model and it does play out in a respectable time( player numbers and experience dependent).  It’s quick to figure out despite the large amount of counters and tokens even for new players.

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It’s got all you would expect from a 4x game and a good bit more. Research and ship design is a wonderful addition. Players can pimp their rides in a wide variety of ways and there’s no one killer combo. Fancy lightly armored gunned up cruisers? No problem. Hulking Dreadnoughts with massive shields? You got it! Zippy cloaked missile boats? It’s all in there. I love the ship design. Because you’re all grabbing from a limited randomly doled out set of tech blueprints you’ll never be up against the same ship designs as any other player. One of the complaints about the base game was a race to build one shot missile boats that dominated battles. this has been effectively patched by a host of new techs introduced in the expansion. I like when a game company listens to players and does this sort of thing.

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The game we played last night was great there was a wide range of designs. The most interesting was one players cruisers which were heavily stealthed and in their first battle they annihilated a much bigger force of ships who couldn’t draw a bead on them (after that everyone was racing for aiming tech to counter it).

The other star of the show is the economic model. Specifically the control disks. You get a limited amount of these and need to allocate them to Sectors to keep control and Harvest resources from them. The control disks are also spent to take actions. The more you use the bigger your bill at the end of the turn will be in resources. So a bigger empire will become costly to run and less able to act than smaller more agile ones. It’s a stroke of genius.

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Throw in some rules for alliances, traitors, ancient AIs and alien abilities and you have a top TOP game.

I love Eclipse. For me it’s got everything I look for in a 4x game and more to boot. We need to play more of this and we will

Great game well worth the entrance fee

Huzzah!

Vic

Wolve’s Clothing

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“You’ve NEVER played Catan? NEVER? and neither has your brother…. Ok let’s fix that”, thus i found myself playing Catan after quite a break from it.

Settlers of Catan is a classic game which is shockingly knocking on twenty years of age. Catan was like the Dune II of Boardgames. It was new. It was fresh and if kickstarted a new genre into life. Catan is still a great game. It’s aged well. If you haven’t played it. It’s definitely worth a go. Actually if you consider yourself a gamer it’s your duty to play it. It’s patriotic.

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Catan sees you and three chums trying to get to ten points first, so it’s a race game. It has you building settlements and roads on a map, so it’s a conquest game. You need to trade resources to get the ones you want so it’s a trading game. It’s got sheep in there and wood so it’s a great setup for jokes game

If you haven’t played this game it’s pretty straightforward. A random spread of five possible typed and numbered hex tiles makes up the map. You setup your starting settlements on the edge of them so each of your bases is at the nexus of up to three tiles. Each turn you roll two dice and the corresponding numbered tile pays out to whomever is next to it.

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These resources when you have the right combos can be exchanged for roads, settlements, cities or cards. The bigger your civilization the more points it’s worth. First to ten wins.

Bonuses come from having the longest road or the most soldiers. Oh and let’s not forget the robber. Roll a seven when you’re seeing which spots pay out and you get to move the robber who zooms in like an unwelcome relative and sets up shop in one spot shutting it down until another seven is rolled. (he also has a nasty hand size reduction trait you’ll come to hate)

There’s surprisingly good opportunities to block other players and generally cause mayhem. I forgot how much cursing and swearing accompanies this game as you’re THIS close to winning and someone micturates on your plans.

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This is rightly a classic game. It hasn’t aged badly. It’s still balanced. Some people complain that there’s luck involved but I disagree. Roll a dice enough times and it events out. There’s real skill here in negotiating and out thinking your opponents to a win. A great game always worth a play

Huzzah!

Vic

Bloodbowl 2 League

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What say you fine people to a Bloodbowl 2 League, since we’re all going to rush out and buy it  (PC)?

Might even televise a match on the big screen at the next Knavecon

Vic

A Study in Genius

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When gandalf said the words “I have no memory of this” he may well have been referring to the rules for a game he’s not played in over a year

Thus we found ourselves stirring the cold treacle of rules for a Study in Emerald. One I’ve spoke about before. After the requisite amount of “oh yeahs” and “I remember now’s” we were underway and I found myself playing a good and not yet insane loyalist (all hail the overlords) hoping to snatch victory from the rebel scum.

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In the game we played (four players), it become clear mid game that two others in the group were also loyalists leaving a solitary restorationist to fend for themselves and here’s where I realised just one of the reasons this game is so damn good. It’s not enough for your team to win, you really want to be the one in the lead. It’s also not going to be a win if any of your team come last (the team of the lowest scoring player is removed from the game at final scoring, no ifs buts or ah come ons). So the game becomes a case of helping your allies but not helping them Too much. I love this mechanic. It’s to the forefront in A Distant Plain and Fire in the Lake. It’s there too if you look really hard in Castle Panic. If you play with the right group (evil) it becomes a fantastic tension ratchet, more so when players threaten to take out the whole team rather than let someone else win. Couple this with the possibility of jumping teams if the right permanent effect comes up (it had) we had one hell of a game.

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I’ve played a study in emerald a dozen times now. I was lucky enough to snatch a copy of it on release, it’s never been the same game twice. There are several different mechanics working at once in this game and unlike say Warrior knights or Android all of them are integral and none of them feel bolted on.

When this game comes back for re-release in the next few months I’m going to be eyeing it up closely. A combination of Martin Wallace and Neil Gaimen has made someone sublime and one of my favorite games to date. I’m going to be running games of this at Knavecon IV and I urge you to give it a go. It’s unique, it’s fresh and it’s never the same game twice. More of this sort of thing

Huzzah!

Vic

Jupiter’s Lad

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“Choose life. Choose a ball and chain. Choose armour with a matching helmet. Choose a javelin. Choose slaves. Choose back stabbing opponents, turning your thumb down and poisoning your opponents wine, choose wasting your last coin on a sure fire bet and having to send half your gladiators packing because you’re a flat broke fat bloke… Me I chose a something else…”

I like when a game has more than one route to win. I like it as well when I discover it myself and my opponents find out the hard way. Now when I say a route to win don’t assume I won in the traditional sense using this technique. Assume I … Stormed the initial rampart so lesser gamers could follow.  For me it was win, the scoreboard just didn’t have the fidelity to record it as such.

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I’ve spoken before about Spartacus and its expansion but it’s been a while and we got to play it recently. Almost by accident I discovered a route to victory (which if it were not for those meddling kids I would have exploited for a quick win). As it was for no apparent reason I could see I was picked on and victory was snapped from my hands. I don’t really like to talk about it so lets move on

The game sees with the aid of the expansion six houses compete for the highest influence via the rather bloody and sordid conduit of gladiatorial combat. Each player manages a stable of gladiators and supporting slaves along with the intrigues and down right back stabbery one would expect. (Well I would expect). Money is used to bid on warriors, slaves and weapons and bets on matches are the primary source of income.

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The matches themselves are fast and furious and often see gladiators (at least the less favoured ones) getting the final thumbs down. It’s a neat little game. Almost by accident I found that it was quite possible just like the Swiss bankers in Imperial to stay aloof from the fighting if you could ensure you were the only one who ran the matches. So that’s what I did. I saved all my greasy coins and only bid on the hosting of matches. You see the one who hosts the Matches gets one influence for their trouble so it meant along with various intrigue cards I was a winner every turn.  All grand and dandy until one player out bid me (after some bad betting left me a little short of AU79) and asked me to fight in a match. Not wanting to lose face I garbed up a Slave who proved as effective as a chocolate teapot in a burning house. Having lost all my slaves the same mongrel hit me with a “if the player has no slaves” intrigue card and knocked me off my pedal stool….

Successfully winning the bids while the others burn their finite coin on beef units and pointy kit will worked. Well it should work. Given the right group (one who doesn’t know me) I think this could be the fast route to victory. It was fun. It’s a great game. I recommend you play it. Better still I’ll play you at the next knavecon and if you see me not bidding on anything you’ll know what I’m all about. Probably.

Huzzah!

Vic

Here’s mud in your eye !

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There is a joy in setting out a game. Arranging all the pieces just so in
anticipation of the coming clash. The bigger the game the better. It
feels just right when everything is laid out correctly and easily to hand.

War of the Rings takes a bit of setting up, it also takes a bit of space too, but oh boy is it worth the effort!

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I spoke recently about this game having played a couple of games of it
and been completely smitten. It’s a really really good game. Even if
you weren’t a Lord of the Rings fan (that lone gentleman at the back you
can leave now) the mechanics and flow of the game are still sublime. I’d
happily play any setting with this setup. Being Lord of the Rings and
being so close to what you would expect of that world it makes a
brilliant game stellar.

So why you might ask am I back here? Well…. I lost again, or more
correctly team Evil lost again, but you know what? It was fun! Let’s go back to the events of the night while they’re still fresh and I’m still bitter.

Myself and my team mate (collective responibility for losing) took the
Shadow side with the previous two good players taking their places
again.

The game was very different this time around. If you recall the nasty
hobbiteseses won last time by getting to mount doom (only just). Well we
were determined not to let this happen again and vowed to throw a bit
more resource at corrupting the ring bearer. It almost worked too (damn meddling kids). In addition to this plan we went straight out (zero kissing) at Minis Tirith in an effort to break it and take it before Strider arrived to give it all that. Again we almost did it

The good players had obviously been reading up on their strategies since
last time (evil players don’t read) and quickly Gandalf got hosed and
replaced by the new shine white version. Gandalf the white is a pain
in the codpiece

This time around very little happened with the dwarfs, they wandered
around a bit but never got roused into war, ditto the northerners.

Gondor quickly joined the fray with combined actions against them from
the southerners and Mordor hordes. Minis Tirith was surrounded in siege
and the south of Gondor was taken by a large force of Southerers despite
a few spirited defenses and sallies from them. A relief force of
gondorians waylaid the Mordor forces but a counter attack saw them greatly reduced and destroyed but not before they relieved the siege of Minas Tirth and Strider got in and assumed the role of Isildur (curses)

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The second siege of Minis Tirith saw good orcs die with not much to show for it and a little over extended the Sauron forces limped away went west and north while fresh troops moved in from Mordor to keep Isildur contained. It was too little too late, Isildur and his boys wiped the floor with these but still weight of numbers beyond Gondor held them back from coming out and attempting an attack on Mordor proper.

Not so Rohan, which having joined in the war swelled it’s ranks and
turned it’s gaze on Isengard. Saruman raised a large army of elite
troops to defend and the remaining Sauron orcs bolstered with nazguls
and the Witch king took a couple of Ronan towns and harassed the large
rohan army snapping at it’s heels and threatening to take helms deep
unopposed.

The Ronan army turned it’s attention to the anoying Sauron gnats and hammered seven shades out of them while Sarumans forces battened down the hatches and awaited Ronan’s advance.  Secure and outnumbering in their defenses.

Then disaster struck as Whitey Gandalf with the aid of pippin coaxed the
Ents into not one but two attacks on Isengard, followed by the Eagles
(non the band) who devastated the uraks and followed up by a swift
approach by the reduced but still very effective Ronan army finally fell and gave up the keys for the tower.

At this point Rohan, Gondor and d’elves were doing well but paying for
their actions in troops that couldn’t be replaced (unlike the shadow
player whom had a bottomless, albeit slow pit of them).

The fellowship at this point had retreated to Lorien (because they’re
worth it) and were healing corruption, hanging out and partying while
the armies clashed all around.

Moria and Dol Guldor raised a huge host and marched on Lorien, planning
to crush them and take away support for the resident fellowship.

In the north a last ditch offensive had been put forth by the elves of
Rivendell. A plucky attack on the shadow bases of Mouth Gram. Shadow
armies were quickly raised. This was it, Isengard Uraks were mustering
to retake Isengard and it was only a short time before they would accomplish this.  Ronan was bruised and bloodied from so much fighting. Lorien was about to fall and the fellowship was still quite a ways off it’s goal. If the northern shadow fortresses could repel the elves for a while it was all over for the now diminished forces of good.  The nearby Shadow base was raising elites to throw into the fray and relieve the siege….

Didn’t work. Some fast play from the elves saw them take Mount
Grundabad in quick order and with Isengard still in their keep they won it by military victory….

What a stupendous game. The tension, the planning, the huge battles.
This was just as epic as the original trilogy and it all flew by in just
over three hours. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I’ll tell you something else. Even though we lost (again) we’re even
more fired up to play again. War of the Rings is a wonderful game. I
can see this hitting the table for a long time to come

Huzzah!

Vic

TBG Diplomacy 2015 – Turn 1

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The First Annual TBG Diplomacy began last night (GMT)

Let’s wish our plucky generals the very best! It’s going to be rough a ride!1

  • GERMANY : Joe Morris (Ireland)
  • ENGLAND : Frank W. Roberts (Tennessee)
  • AUSTRIA : Wes Ferrer (California)
  • ITALY : Max Vaughn (Georgia)
  • FRANCE : Larry Cruz (Texas)
  • TURKEY : J.J. Novacek (North Carolina)
  • RUSSIA : Edward Uhler (Colorado)

Huzzah!

Vic

Night of the Long Fangs – Werewolf

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Kindly Reproduced with no permission whatsoever from Dread Pirate Joe…..

DAY SIX

“If the party after the lynching of the first (and second) alpha wolves was mad, the party after the wolf cub bit the dust was insane.

A lot of people staggered home that night   
A lot fewer people assembled in the town square the next morning. 
After a headcount (which took five attempts due to mis-counting, and needing to throw up by the counter – the Mayor- it was reckoned there were 4 people missing) – or missing but known where.
Well, one was well known after last nights party. Knowing glances were exchanged.
“OK, so we all saw Mike (The Hunter) Sheehan walk up behind Mark as he was drinking his whiskey martini and shoot him in the back of the head.” announed the Mayor. “What we also know is that Mark was one of us, a villager.”
Sad noises and moans came from the crowd. Mourning the death, or nursing their heads, it is hard to say.
“However,” continued Gloria*, “we did find out this morning that Mark had a rare genetic condition which made him appear to be a werewolf. A Lycan, or something they call it.”

“But,” continued Carl*, “We do know who is missing. It is Martin and Dave. Martin and Dave seem to have both been the victims of werewolves. At least it was…  it was….”  Vomits.

“Quick,” Gloria sneers (at Carl). “There was no defensive marks. Those wolves were pissed. We can ascertain that Dave was the DOCTOR, and Martin was the Seer.”
“So, who we gonna hang tonight?” asked a voice from the crowd.”I wanna vote NOW!”
Slowly walking over to the scrawled sign on the gallows which read ‘Wurst wearwolfs ever!’, Gloria took up the piece of chalk and added a question mark.
“No votes today people,” Gloria said quietly. “We need to hang a murderer. Mike.”
RESULT: No votes today. Mike will be hanged at 5pm (game time), but can contribute to the discussion (shouting from his jail cell) until that time.

Huzzah!

Vic

Werewolves V – Prologue

wulfWerewolf V has begun with the able and impeccable Dread Pirate Joe as the GM once again for what’s going to prove to be a humdinger of a battle.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game.  Werewolf is a whodunnit where each player receives a secret role (some werewolves some villagers) and through the course of a number of nights try and either wipe out the villagers or put a stop to the wolves.  In this case we’re going to be playing with a fairly large group (around 20) and by email with a move per day.

I’m fully expecting to be dead within a short time so until then I’ll report back.

For your deliberation here’s how it just started thanks to Dread Pirates superlative writing skills…..

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Prologue:
Ext: It is the early hours, before dawn, in the distance, the sleepy mid-west-sterotypical small town of ‘JHFPville’ for short – is still sleeping. On a lonely road a car drives slowly.
Bob*: “This place always gives me the heebie jeebies”
Carl*: “Yeah, me too.”
Bob: “I ain’t been out to the old meat packing plant for years. Not since I wuz a kid. Kinda forgot it was there, till I read it was closed down.”
Carl (Shudders): “Yeah, me too.”
Bob: “I say, old Joe is gonna be mighty pissed that it is closed. That was his first business, yeah?”
Carl: “Yeah”
Bob: “I mean, he got lots more now, and is the frikking mayor and everything, so he gonna be all right. Don’t know whey he kept this place open for decades.”
Carl: “Maybe it was to stop the killin'”
Bob: “Man! That why you so quiet? Thats old ghost stories to scare the kids. None of that stuff ever happened. Damn, you got one helluva imaninagtion.”
Carl: “Name one person you know over the age of 60 – apart from Old Joe?”
Bob: “Well, theres a.. Now, gimmie a minute, my head ain’t that fresh at this time of night. Oh, theres… No, not him… well, there must be someone. A lot of them lie about their age.”
Carl: “Light”
Bob: “Their age, not their weight. Though some cou-“
Carl: “No. Light, at the meat packing factory.”
Bob: “This time of night? What you think, Old Joe working late?”
Carl: “Doubt it, they boarded the place up last week.”
Bob: “Damn. Someone trying to rob the place? We better get outta here.”
Carl: “Damn right. We don’t want no trouble.”
Carl increases the speed of the car and it passes quickly by the gate to the plant. After a few seconds, he slams on the brakes, and starts to reverse.
Bob: “What the hell are you doing?”
Carl: “We better go check it out.”
Bob: “Why?”
Carl: “Well, we are the police after all.”
Bob: “Chrissstake. It’s five minutes until shift change. You’re not gonna change yer mind, are ye?”
Carl drives on steadily, killing the lights on the patrol car.
Bob: “Dammit. Better call it in so. Gloria*? You there hun?”
Gloria (over the radio): “You boys better hurry up, these pancakes are looking mighty good.”
Bob turns to Carl: “You hear that, we gonna miss the frikking pancakes. Gloria, we going to be a bit late, Kojak here wants to go check out the meat packing plant. He thinks there is someone in there.”
Silence.
Bob: “Gloria, you there?”
Gloria: “Sorry boys. Got a bit of a shock there. You two come back to the station. I don’t think there is any need going there tonight. OK?”
Bob: “Sure thing. We going to high tail it back before the syrup has melted.”
Bob switches off the radio and turns to Carl.
Carl: “No. I got a feeling about this.”
Bob: “Feeling? Man you get feelings all the time. This like the time you suspected Mrs. Brewski* of running a brothel?”
Carl: “She had S&M equipment outside her house.”
Bob: “It was a chairlift.”
Carl: “I know what I saw.”
Bob: “And when you accused the reverand of being a Vampire?”
Carl: “I know what I saw.”
Bob: “And when you thought that Ole Joe was in the Mafia?”
Carl: “Look. I know that something is up. Sssh… I seen movement inside.”
Both exit the car and walk silently up to the door. Carl motions with his hands that he is going to move around the back. He draws his gun. Bob raises up his hands to his mouth and shouts:
“OK, whoever you are in there. You have three minutes to get out!”
Carl (whispering angrily): “WHAT are you doing?”
Bob: “Don’t want to disturb them. They could be armed.”
Carl: “So are we.”
Bob: “Listen, when you been doing this job as long as I have, you’ll get to- “
Carl runs into the front door, which is hanging off it’s hinges.
Bob: “Darn stoopid young…” and runs after him.
Int: The main reception is a mess, and sprawled over the floor is the remains of what was probably once a human – or an uncooked beed lasagne. Its hard to tell. Carl is leaning against the counter, vomiting.
Bob: “Well, ole Joe probably won’t be worried about the mayoral elections next year anymore.”
Carl: “How do you know it’s him?”
Bob: “That peace of flesh over on the lamp has Ole Joe’s buttocks tattoo on it. He got it for his 70th birthday.”
Carl vomits again.
In the back room they hear a loud crash, and a growling sound.
Bob: “OK whoever y’all are. Come out with yer hands up!”
Something reaches from the backroom and grabs Carl around the ankle. Carl falls face forward into his vomit, and is dragged back into the room. He grabs the side of the reception desk.
Carl: “Arrgh.. It has me…”
Bob draws his gun and fires into the room. There is no reaction from whatever is inside.
Bob: “It’s trying to get the paper stuck to your other shoe. Give it to it!”
Carl: “You *(&£$(* crazy?”
Bob rushes over, graps the paper from Carl’s free shoe and throws it into the room. Whatever it is, it lets go of Carl’s ankle. They both run outside and get into the car.
Carl: “What the hell was-“
Bob: “Drive, you idiot. Drive!”
Int: Police station, an hour later. There are two plates with half eaten pancakes on them.
Gloria: “You boys are lucky to be alive.  So this is what was on the paper then?”
Carl is holding a scrap of paper in his hand.
Carl: “Yeah, it seems to be the start of an email Ole Joe printed.”
Bob takes the paper and starts reading: “You are all domed.”
Gloria: “Ole Joe was never good with the spelling”
Bob reads on: “The plant it closing. Damn those vegetarians to hell.  They have killed us all. I have kept it at bay for nigh on the last fifty years, but now they are hungry again, and I can’t stop them myself. But I know who they are, they are -“
Carl: “What a place to get ripped off. It looked like he was going to spill the beans.”
Bob: “I know. If only he had emailed it to someone.”
Gloria goes and checks the computer: “He did. He emailed it to us.
They all crowd around the computer. The email is in the Junk folder.
Bob: “That was send over a month ago.”
Gloria: ” Yeah, it went straight into the spam. Maybe that is why Ole Joe wanted to print it off?”
Carl: “Is that the confession from the guy we let off for the Macy Murders last year?”
Bob: “Oh, why yes it is. That went into the Spam folder too.”
Carl: “Didn’t we hang someone for that?”
Bob: “Yup. He did say he was innocent right till the end. Well, ye wins some, ya loose some.”
Carl: ” – ?!”
Gloria: “Here is his email.  All the same up until… yadda yadda, Domed, hungry, ah, here.
But I know who they are, they are –
Hah ha ha I ain’t going to tell you, you bunch of halfwit hicks. Making my damn life a misery stuck in this bloody backwater for decades. Go to hell every last one of you moth*S&**(ks!”

Carl: “That was written by Ole Joe?  But he does Father Christmas at the Store.”
Gloria: “He always seemed like such a nice old man…”
Carl (whispers): “I used to sit on his knee and tell him my secrects”
Bob: “I reckons, we better call a town meeting.”
Gloria: “What we gonna do now?”
Bob: “I reckons, we better call a town meeting.”
Carl: “I think we are all in big trouble.”
Bob: “I reckons, we better call a town meeting.”
Gloria: “We better call a town meeting.”
Carl: “Good idea Gloria.”
Bob (watching them walk off to the Air Raid Siren): “What am I, chopped liver?”
Gloria: “Only one REAL cop in this whole town sonny, and you KNOW who that is? Um hmm!”
Bob (under his breath): “Ah well, may as well go to Mrs. Brewski’s whorehouse. The Rev and his Vamps will have finished their weekly card game with the Mob by now. Bar should still be open.”
Bob grabs his coat, and walks out into the early morning. At least he knew he was sorta safe-ish from the wolfen – if they were back.
*Not his real name.

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