MrSaturday Turns 40 – Part 3

I’ve meant to get back to (some of) the events that took place in Connemara to mark the passing of Mr Saturday from the foolish, loud, impetuous state of his 30s to the enlightened, wise and mellow 40s*.  I didn’t. I’m doing it now.

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Being a marathon session of gaming in the same way it was inevitable that Hunter S Thompson and Dr Gonzo would sooner or later get into the ether we would have to play a zombie game.  Zombicide the current favourite had been hot bunked all weekend.  It was mid to late weekend that we jumped on it.

I’ve played my fair share of zombie games, zombies, eh, other zombie games, you name it, I’ve probably played it, to date Zombicide is my favourite.  It captures the whole spirit of the zombie thing in the same way as the video game left4dead, it’s simple, it’s fast and above all it’s great fun.  (A buddy of mine plays it with his kids who believe that a chainsaws primary purpose is crowd control)

Now I haven’t exactly covered myself in glory with this game.  There was an incident on a Thur night were I may have made the classic horror mistake of going ahead on my own and drawing a lot of heat onto the group.  I did selflessly hide and let the hoard attack the main group before crawling out and whispering ‘sorry’ as the Zees chomped down on the surprised survivors.  It happens.  In my case quite a bit.  They say some people will freeze in a plane crash and some will crawl over others to get out, chances are I’d take the only parachute and jump just after I suggested they draw lots for it.

ripoff

Zombicide is a survival game in the classic genre.  The world is overrun with zombies, dogs and cats sleeping together, no coffee, basically the end of everything and your small group of six survivors have to

  1. Arm themselves
  2. Achieve some objective
  3. Get to the exit with a minimum of bite marks on their pasty bodies

Optionally allow your fellow survivors to die.  It’s not in the rules, I’m just saying

The rules are piddly simple. you can move a set number of spaces and along the way carry out some basic actions like, shoot, search, pass equipment to another survivor or carry out some action based on the equipment you have. After the group has moved All the zombies get to move towards the nosiest square and additional zombies spawn at defined spawn points around the board.

Noise is created by moving, breaking doors, shooting etc. and the zombie hoard gets added to based on the draw of zombie reinforcement cards.   Make no mistake it’s a HOARD of zombies and it’s never ending.  You need to get your business done as quickly as possible and get out of dodge.  Any delay or detour spells grizzle death for both you and your team.  More importantly you,

Each of the survivors are suitably different and some are inevitably clichéd.  The Cop, the Drifter, The Student, The Token and so on, but there are some novel ones in there like the pissed off office worker and the roller girl and a TON of ones you can download and purchase models for. Each of them start with different equipment and special abilities and each of them have different upgrade paths.

Ah yes upgrades.

ned

As you accumulate kills in a Gimli v Legolas manner, you will start to level up and acquire a choice of new abilities but here’s the rub, it also attracts more numerous and nastier zombies.  In the card above you can see how our hapless survivor goes from blue to red to orange and then maxes out in red.  The colour indicates what section of the reinforement card to read from, blue being ok-ish and red being very bad indeed. Worse still the spawn rate of the zombies is determined by the highest level character in the group so as soon as one character gets into a higher level it opens a can of whoop ass for all the team.

The zombies aren’t all just shamblers, there’s fast moving zombies, replete with jogging suits, fatties that are tougher to kill and worst of all abominations that are the McBain of zombietown.  So as I said get in, get your objectives and get the heck out of there as if your life depended on it. ho ho.

So how did it go at MrSaturday’s event? Well not as planned would be a kind way of putting it.  The objective was to get to thirty kills which I obviously took as a challenge that included the caveat of “before anyone else”. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t implicit in the rules but it was real for me.  I was allowed the first turn to which I jumped into a nearby police car, drove straight through my team knocking some aside and wounding others and proceeded to do doughnuts around the central building knocking over zombies and well, I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for the haters in my team who working together (for shame) ran out jumped on the bonnet of a nearby car as I screamed by, shot me dead then continued the game without me…. I had a long but not unpleasant wait for the game to end

Zombicide is a cracker of a game, I highly recommend it.  There are a ton of additional scenarios and some very nice extra characters that can be acquired.  Snake Pliskin anyone?  On top of that there’s already a couple of expansions for it set in a shopping centre and a prison and lots of mini expansions.  If you’re a zombie fan then this is where it’s currently at with zombies games.  Look no further

Huzzah!

Vic

 

 

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MrSaturday Turns 40 – a Drax report in a number of parts

drstrange

If you’re going to do a review on Twilight Struggle then you have to use a picture from Doctor Strangelove, it’s a rule.  I checked.

A glorious weekend of gaming stretched out before us in a very nice location in Connemara, no 3G, no Laptops, just good buddies, a stack of food, (None of it good for you) and a horse load of games…..

MrSaturday successfully beat Jesus by 7 and we celebrated in true gaming style.  I’m going to split this big event up into a few smaller snippets and look at the games I got to play.

First up was Twilight Struggle

Let’s cut to the chase, I want a copy of this, it’s awesome, there’s a good reason it’s number one on the boardgamegeek list of games, I have it set-up on VASSAL, anyone who wants a game let me know.  So without any prejudice let’s begin

TS is a two player only game where players take on the roles or either America or the USSR and duke it out in the cold war from the late 40s to the fall of communism.  The game is essentially map based where players use influence to turn countries around to their ideology.  Each turn of which there are ten consists of drawing a set of eightish cards from a communal stack and picking one event to kick off that turn.  The other player doing likewise.  Then the rest of the cards are used either for their resource value or card event.  All of the events are actual historical events, like the Berlin wall coming down, the bay of pigs and so on and all have effects on influence around the world or just screw with the other players plans.

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The cards available to draw from get added to at certain turns along the way so middle era and late era card stacks get added as the game progresses.  Resource are a number on the top let hand corner either Red (USSR), White (USA) or two colour (either) and these can be spent to up your influence levels in different countries, usually ones that border your other countries.  Up your influence enough and you’ll be in charge of that country. Coup actions, realignment and just increasing influence will change both your influence and the influence of the enemy in a specific country so it’s a juggle to protect your interests and screw up the opponents with limited resources.

If you’re Russia as I was, you generally burn Red or Red and White resources but it’s possible to use White only resources belonging to the Americans but you also have to kick off the event which is in favour of the Americans as well. I found myself trying to pick the lesser of two evils several times when I wound up with a number of American cards.

 

As the game starts the only areas open for business are Europe and Asia but as the game progresses through the three eras, South America, Africa and The Middle East open up and cause more headaches. The game is very much a zero sum game with one score track that runs from +20 USSR to +20 USA.  As you score which itself is an event card you play, you advance the track in either direction.  Get to +20 for either and it’s game over.  A few other late game events can cause the game to end as well. I found myself scratching my head (it may have been the company I was keeping) to figure the best way to manage things, do I dig my heels in in one place and give the opponent a free ride in another region? Go for this event and screw him up here but leave myself open to a coup?

While this goes on a few other slider mechanics are being affected, a big one being the conflict track.  Not necessarily a bad thing as it scores you points if you’re ahead but it also ups the defcon level and it’s game over man if you reach the highest one.  The space race is also another recipient of influence and getting ahead at this allows you to see what you’re opponent is going to do in advance.  So all in all a plate juggling affair with limited resources.

I have to say I really liked it, it’s surprisingly fast for such an epic period.  It says 3 hours on the box but I reckon we got through it quicker than that on our first game, but we did have an advisor whom unlike us knew the rules and had managed the world a few times.  The game definitely needs a few play throughs so you understand what can happen.  Even thought it’s pretty much the same thing each game, events can change or not happen and it should stay pretty fresh.  The artwork, components and cards are of high quality and although it’s not a FF game it does have a great solid feel to it.  It is a longish game but it’s well worth the investment in time.  I found myself waking up the next day with the game going around my head and thinking about new angles I could have come at. All in all a cracker

More to come, what this space

Huzzah!

Vic

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