Sacrebleu – France feels the pinch

turn9zItaly and Austria defy all the bookies by continuing to expand.  France going gently into the night.  Russia not giving an inch.  Turkey fearing Austrian Christmas. England getting getting boots on the ground, slow and steady.  It’s anyones game still (by which I mean not France of Germany)

Huzzah!

Vic

Dead of Winter in the dead of winter

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It’s seems appropriate that I should visit Dead of Winter in the dead of winter. (Dead of winter in Ireland is around 2 degrees c but that’s neither here nor there)

This game has been getting a lot of hype and with good reason. It’s a great game. It’s also hard to lay your hands on and children are being openly sold to purchase it (the current rate of exchange is three children in case your wondering)(but that’s for an unopened copy you can probably get a used one cheaper)

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Due to a friend’s* forum post I’ve come to realize that In the same way as letters from white chapel is of a particular genre and sits in between Fury of Dracula and Scotland Yard in terms of complexity and ‘weight’. DOW (not to be confused with dawn of war) sits between Battlestar Galactica and Shadows over Camelot. It’s a semi (oh err missus) co-op game with the ever present threat of a betrayer.

There are a lot of zombie games out there. A lot. You know that. There aren’t a lot of good zombie games. This is the latter. The zombies are a backdrop to story that plays out. The real brains and potatoes is completing the overall mission. This is chosen at the start and they come in tall, grande and venti variety. This I like. You can set the length of the game you’re going to play. A short game will last you anything from an hour up depending on how many players (Max five) medium and long obviously longer (only played short and medium so far).

I’ve spoken about the difficulty setting in Nations and I like this trend of having adjustable parameters in a game. Its a welcome feature. More of this please

Yes that is alchemy the other end of the table
Yes that is alchemy the other end of the table

In addition to the main mission each player gets a random objective card at the start which will usually have you completing the main mission and a secondary objective, (because it’s all fine and dandy winning coop but you really gots to know who won won). Added to this there’s a possible betrayal objective in the mix and you now have a ingredients for a nice paranoid adventure. The best type.

There’s similarities to Battlestar to Be sure. A lot actually. Each turn there’s a crisis to be solved by secretly throwing your limited resources at (some help some hinder and it’s done face down so you don’t know if and whom the bad dude is). Players can be exiled (unlike the brig in BSG they can’t come back) making their mission more difficult. Exile two non traitors and you lose

There’s a lot of ways to lose this game. Don’t complete the primary mission in the short time provided BOOM! you lose. Morale drops to zero BOOM! You lose. Run out of good, don’t tidy the waste up, lose too many characters. You guessed it all paddling offences. It’s a hard life being a survivor. Actually I bet after a zombie apocalypse, life would in fact be quite sweet, free stuff, no work, unlimited Boardgames, set your own bedtime but I digress. In this incarnation life is hard and you’ll lose a lot. Couple that to a possible betrayer actively aiding the Zees and you’ll lose. A very lot.

One of the sizzles of this game is the sort of mini crisis cards called crossroad cards (expect more of these, plaid hat have another few games with similar mechanics on the drawing board). The player to your left takes it and monitors your actions in your turn to see if you match the criteria. It could be a particular character doing a particular action in their turn and so on. The result might be more zombies appearing or finding some extra items. It might be a choice the individual or group have to vote on. There’s a lot of theses cards in the game so you won’t see the same regularly appearing. It’s a nice mechanic, not dramatic, but it means every game is different

The game plays out fairly quickly. You spend your time between foraging for resources, building defences, controlling zee numbers and if you’re the betrayer secretly ruining everyone’s day.  Now there can be a bit of downtime between your moves, we found that the last time we were playing however I think that may have been more us than the game, so I’ll let it slide.

Each of the characters in your group (you start with two but may pick up more) have a special ability. Good at searching, fighting, immune to cold, I really like the town drunk who’s special ability is if he tops himself morale goes up 🙂

This game has proved very hard to get but more and more copies are coming into supply. It’s overhyped for sure, but it’s still a good fun solid game. It’s well worth getting your hands on.

That said don’t take my word for it. I could be the betrayer. Actually, I probably am.

Huzzah !

Vic

Deutschland Unter Alles – Didn’t he do well !

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I did say this was not your average game of Diplomacy.  Germany fell foul of well, pretty much everyone else early on and despite his best efforts never found enough (any) traction to get back into the game.

turn8resultsTop marks for sticking with it even though it was a doomed post.  In the words of the glorious German Leader*  “Scheiße, Scheiße, Scheiße”

Huzzah!

VIc

Not a Thursday Game

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I love Twilight Struggle. It’s stupendous. If you haven’t played it, I recommend you turn to the person nearest you and shout “You’ve held me back long enough! I’m playing Twilight Struggle”, then run out and buy it. Somewhere.

Maybe be a bit careful with that all the same.

A Distant Plain (not to be confused with a distant plane)  is a game I knew nothing about a few months back and now it’s standing there in the front of my brain, laughing at my attempts to ignore it.  It’s by GMT who made Twilight and it uses a map (this time of Afghanistan) and it sees four players duking it out for a win.

I really like the way Twilight Struggle plays, it’s simple even though it looks like it should be complex but it’s complex insofar as the possible strategies to win and how suddenly for a simple game it gets bloody complex fast.  I’ll stop now, you get it, it’s great.  A Distant Plain has some similarities but it’s a different animal in a lot of ways which is great.  What’s really super is you’re not limited to just two players, and of the the four factions you get to play one of, each work in different ways, they even have different orders they can give each turn, so there is massive replay value in this game.  The only negative being that it’s hard to figure out what people are up to unless you’ve played a few games and by a few I mean several.

The four factions are The Coalition Troops, The Afghan government the Taliban and the Warlords.  Just that alone should get your ears up, how many games do you get to play as ‘the bad guys’

The Coalition want to get out of dodge but win hearts and minds, they work with the Afghan government but they need to be wary of them as they could have the coalition doing their dirty work and grab all the aid.  They possess great firepower and mobility which is great IF they can find the enemy

The Afghan government are trying to get patronage and above all resources as well as foreign aid.   They have to help the Coalition if they want to win but are subject to dissertations, infiltrations and fairly crappy but numerous troops.

The Taliban are trying to muscle in and take control, this they try to do without exposing themselves (all relevant jokes were made).  Like the Government they’re also trying to gain control and extort resources and maybe throw in a bit of terrorism while they’re at it

And the warlords, well some people just like to watch the world burn.  in their case they just want to cause trouble and benefit from the chaos.  They don’t want anyone in control of areas so they can continue to raise poppys and generally be all warlordy.

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Ok that’s a bit simplistic and if you happen to be the real coalition, afghan government, Taliban or warlords I apologize for simplifying your noble struggle but it’s a difficult audience I have to work with.

The whole asymmetrical thing is great, I’ve played twice now, once as the warlords and then as the coalition, two completely different animals with completely different strategies.

It’s a difficult game to figure out, you’re constantly on a razors edge with someone close to winning, sometimes it’s even you and the game is a real roller coaster AFTER you’ve played it and got your head around it.

The game plays out as either the long pretty empty map or shorter predefined map. The long game is just that. You’d want a good six hours to play it thus the whole not a thur night thing.

I like this game. I’m not there yet with it but just like a maths theory in school i didn’t understand I know it will click in in a while. I’ll do another review of this game when I’ve played another few games. Whenever that might be

Now this game was not a hit with a lot of the Thur night crew, it’s long and it takes time to get the most out of it.  It’s also not my copy but I reckon it may well turn up at Knavecon and if our plans for a mini Knavecon before the real one take off I’ll be playing a few more games. Until then, try Twilight Struggle and if you like it, THEN it’s worth having a look at this.  Don’t be fooled by the simple four pages of instructions, this IS a complex game but I’m confident just like Twilight it’s worth the in time.  I reckon I might read up a bit more on this game before the next match.

Huzzah!

Vic

Not quite over by xmas – Turn 6 results

turn7And there’s where it stands at xmas.  The diplomats are taking a well earned break for the holidays having gotten themselves this far. Germany despite everyone’s best efforts is spending it’s holidays in Denmark.  Italy is enjoying cheap plonk in the costa del dread pirate joe, Russia has gone North to take the icy waters, Austria and Turkey are getting to know each other better.  England is ruling the waves and France is doing what it does best 🙂

My predictions in a sealed envelope of the eventual winner is looking more and more shaky.  More of this next year.

Huzzah!

Vic

The Game is a foot (possibly black)

yoke

I’ve been accused of being too obscure with my game reference photos, the above should be easy…

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a clever whodunnit which is damnable close to role playing without actually being role playing.  I say clever so it obviously didn’t suit our group who were half asleep when the game kicked off.

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The game comes with a map of London with a hundred odd locations and ten case books for a variety of murders, robberies and so on.  It’s very thematic, each adventure comes with it’s own newspaper which may contain clues to the current mystery.

There’s no GM, just someone who’s going to read the mystery out and each person takes it in turn to direct the group to a location to gain clues as to what’s going on.

Now, here’s the clever bit. It’s only semi cooperative, the idea is that everyone goes along for the ride and at some stage each of them jumps ship and secretly writes down their answers to a set of questions on the back of the case when they feel they have enough clues gained.

The more places you visit the more of the mystery becomes revealed but the lower you’re score will be at the end.

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That’s it.  That’s the game.  There’s no dice, no tokens, just you, your trusty investigator’s notepad and your brain.

It’s INTERESTING, it’s very interesting, it’s a bit like a murder mystery night but a lot more lavish.  The atmosphere is very good and it plays out in an hour plus depending on how dopey your investigators are.

The only limitation I can see with it is there are only ten missions and once you complete them, that’s it. That said ten plays of any game is quite a lot and I’m sure more mysteries will come along as add ons or fan fiction.

All in all I’m not sure about this game, it’s definitely interesting, it’s definitely different it just didn’t really suit the group, but I think it requires a second outing to be sure

Until then I believe our ignorance will be as amazing as our knowledge

Huzzah!

Vic

Always quit when you’re ahead

headandshoulders

Giants is a worker placement game set in the Easter islands where your tribe are racing to complete as many heads (Moaïs) and erect them (yes all the appropriate jokes were made) on the best scoring spots (ahus)(Gesundheit) before anyone else can. Furiously rushing to a conclusion where everyone dies of starvation but you get to look at some really keen heads with snappy hats before your painful expiration

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It’s fairly standard stuff. There’s a bit of bidding. There’s worker placement. There’s a certain amount of cock blockery. What it does though it does in style. The game is beautifully presented. The map is well made, the pieces are nicely rendered. The whole thing reeks of quality. I particularly liked that everyone’s models look different. So everyone has a unique looking chief, witch doctor and workers. What nailed it for me was I picked this up for a song in a game shop last summer so win win. I only got around to playing it recently though I had played it a few years back with someone elses copy and was intrigued by it

There’s a number of mechanics at work in the game as you would expect from a worker placement game

First up is bidding where you all bid workers and tribal markers to grab the finite set of stone blocks and build statues. The more markers you bid the more likely you are to grab blocks ahead of your opponents and the more workers you bring to the party the bigger the heads you can carve. There is of course a catch. Workers used to carve cannot be used later on this turn to transport the heads to their final destinations.

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Once decided you place your tribe around the map to form chains you can pass the heads along to their final destinations like crowd surfers at a rock concert. The further you transport them from the starting quarry spot and the bigger they are (they come in three sizes) the more points you’ll get at the end. This is where cock blockery reins supreme as you (just like a German tourist with sunbeds) try and reserve spots to stop others from raising their statue there.

While your normal mooks can only pass stuff over along the witch doctor is the one with special abilities. He can recruit more workers, build natty point scoring hats for the heads, cut down trees to make rolling logs, and a few other bits that help your growing economy. Your chief who’s super strong at lifting stuff acts as a sort of minor witch doctor and can do witchey stuff when he’s broken a few tablets, possibly in anger.

I’m not going to go into all the rules but the jist is you build heads. Transport them and erect them and score points. Like all worker games it’s a juggling act between building your economy and scoring points.

There’s a lovely warm fuzzy feeling about this game (like peeing in a dark suit). every bit of it feels complete and integrated. There’s no bits bolted on. It functions beautifully as a whole

It’s an unusual theme as well which is no harm and the theme is also not bolted onto the mechanics, it all feels just right. All in all I really like this game. It’s simple. It plays out in about two hours. I’d rate it up there with Catan and Puerto Rico. If you see it cheap it’s a worthy edition to your collection. If you don’t then it’s still a worthy addition to your expensive collection.

Now that we’ve ironed out the rules it’ll make a proper appearance at the next Knavecon

Huzzah!

Vic

3

Looks Dangerous… you go first

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You know where you stand with a heavy weapon. Usually out in the open with a manic grin on your face, Spent bullet casings cascading in slow motion while your gun kicks and howls like a banshee.  Enemies running in front of you and tripping the dance macabre.  I played the Heavy weapons guy again, we may be slow but we deliver.

I played Level 7 Omega Protocol for the second time last Thur. It’s s fun Heroquest/Descent type game with one group of players squaring off against one evil overlord (unusually not me this time). The setting is an xcom / futuristic swat versus an alien experiment out of control sort of thing. Perfect. I’m all in

omega1

Players can choose from a variety of trooper types.

The game plays out as you would expect with the evil player laying traps in various rooms and making it downright awkward for you to complete your mission.  By you I mean your team. Don’t worry it’s semi co-operative, but it’s no sesame street.  A number of times we we’re reminded that only half the team have to survive to win.

The missions are fairly standard stuff and advance the story arc. In this case it was get in. Rescue a scientist and get out with him alive. For a clever bunch those scientist are constantly getting themselves in trouble.

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Now what makes omega different is the use of adrenaline. Adrenaline points are action points. Move a dude it takes adrenaline points. Fire. Open a door. Activate something and so on all take adrenaline points and each of your dudes have a limit of how many they can use per turn depending on their stance.

Stances are picked at the start of a round so it might be cautious advance, normal move or iggy pop it. These stances vary from character type to character type so there’s a nice bit of variety in there.  Snipers get to lay prone but are more open to attack.  Heavy weapons dudes get to plant their feet and let rip with extra firepower.

At the start each character gets a certain amount of build points to buy extra war gear. Cue military music as you snap on grenade launchers and better armor.  Certain types have access to different equipment.  This is pure video game stuff.

All set to go you kick open the door and stomp into the first area saying things like “this looks easy” and “reckon we have this beat”. Now. That’s a mistake. You don’t and in the case of last Thur all five of us armed to the proverbials didn’t do it. We got close, but no cigar.

In our defense we were acting the maggot and not really listening to our commander during the briefing concentrating more on quoting lines from Aliens and generally looking out for ourselves. More Medipacs and not saying things like “they can’t harm me over here” would have helped too.

So about three thirds of the game in we were in some real pretty shit now and it was game over man

 

It didn’t matter we had a lot of fun

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The game takes a bit of setting up not as much as say Mansions of Madness but while the evil overlord setsup the scenario our crack team had time to enjoy a swift game of Age of War

The adrenaline mechanic is clever.  every point used by the “goodies”  at the end of the turn gets handed over to the evil overlord and they get to spend it on various actions that will ruin your day. Activate clones. Summon more. Commission a new bad guy logo that sort of thing.

This mechanic allows the game to scale nicely with however many good guys are on the mission. Furthermore the actions open to the bad guy (Bg) vary from scenario to scenario.

It’s a neat game. The whole dungeon bashing game has been done time and time again but this is different enough to be worth a look

The only reservation I’d have is I’ve become spoiled by the build quality of fantasy flight games and this isn’t a FF game. The models are fine but not Descent good. The board is good but it’s not as good as say Space Hulk. It’s also a little pricey but it’s suitably different to be exotic.

Definitely worth a try and I was so taken by the last game I offered to paint some of the models.

Definitely up for another game so all good

Huzzah!

Vic

 

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