Discussion in 'Traditional Non-Video Gaming Gaming' started by awdougherty, Jan 4, 2012.
God damnit, nerds. LET IT DIE.
I'm very excited about this. I'm so excited that I'll probably order Spartacus even though I'll have no time to play it.
Following up: Success!
"Hey, you guys want to come over next Friday and play Spartacus?"
I finally got around to playing The Lost Legion expansion to Mage Knight. I played a 2 player cooperative game using the scenario Volkare's Return. I thought was pretty good and I can't see myself playing without the expansion in the future.
How does it change the game?
The first thing is that there are several cards which have been rebalanced, so you'll need to go through multiple decks and swap out cards. The rebalanced cards are usually weaker with the most typical change being something like "Block 5, enemies loses swiftness" turns into "Block 5, this block is unaffected by swiftness." There's a giant BGG post with every change listed. Each hero also get a card replaced. The new card will be slightly stronger. If you have a first printing, the card finishes won't match. Both gloss and feel are pretty different, but I tried not to think about it too much, and I don't think it adversely affected the experience much.
I've only played the Volkare's Return scenario. Instead of having two cities, there was only one city. On his turn he draws one card (from a deck that never gets shuffled) and either moves or rests based on the color/type of the card. If you're adjacent to him, he may attack you. When he rests, he may recruit a unit from the offering, which will give him an extra 'keep' (gray) enemy in his army.
Once the city tile is drawn (it's set on the bottom of the stack which was 8 countryside, 2 core non-city, 1 core city), he moves towards the city. If he enters the city, you lose. To win, you need to defeat his army. You can attack him before he gets to the city, or conquer the city and defend it when he attacks. We did the latter. When he attacks he has his own attack and his army attacks. We were both in the city, so we did a cooperative defense. He'll still attack both of us with his attack, but we can split up his minions similar to the cooperative city assault with the distinction that white and red tiles are elites and the others are regulars. You can decide how many elites and regulars each player faces, but they exact choice is still random.
As far as the new enemies go, they have a few new abilities. The most notable was the Arcane Immunity which makes the monster immune to non-Block and non-Attack combat effects, such as 'does not attack', 'reduce armor by', and 'destroy enemy'. This makes the Tremor/Earthquake spell much less effective, which in my opinion is a good thing. There are some enemies that have multiple attacks; each attack needs to be blocked separately. There are cumbersome enemies where you can use movement points during combat to avoid damage. Some of the enemies give you +1 or -1 reputation for defeating them.
There are some new terrain features like walls which cost an extra movement point to cross, prevent rampaging monsters from attacking, and give fortification to monsters if you attack over them. There's a new maze/labyrinth feature. During your action to encounter it, you have to spend 2/4/6 movement points and then fight a brown/red (depending on maze/labyrinth) monster. The amount of movement points spent dictate your reward, and you can only bring one unit with you when you do this.
The biggest new unit is a 13 cost Delphana Masters. They are special in that when you activate them, you can spend multiple mana to use multiple abilities. The other notable ones are the magic familiars. They require a mana to require and a mana each turn during tactics. Based on which mana you feed them, they get a different bonus. Neither of these units can be taken as a reward. There are heroes which are pretty good, but they don't attack a keep/mage tower/city, and when you recruit them, your reputation bonus is doubled. There are thugs which during recruiting, you count your reputation in reverse (i.e. a -1 rep makes it easier to recruit). Speaking of reputation, some more of the cards affect it, but overall hovered around the middle of the track.
So, how is it no one has brought up that the Spartacus designers are now making Firefly: The Board Game?
It's hard to say, really.
If only there were some way to confirm.
I played Antike Duellum last week, the new two-player version of Antike. If you like rondel-based games, but can't get enough people together to play them, this is a great fix.
For those who haven't played a rondel-based game, the main design element that defines them is a rondel (SURPRISE!), or a circle sliced into eight segments, each representing an action you can take if your little wooden cylinder lands there. You can move up to three spaces for free each turn, or pay to move more, so much of the strategy lies in action management.
It comes with two different and distinct maps, dotted with cities, islands, and sea spaces. Each city you control produces 1 marble, iron, or gold if you take the related actions, and if you build a temple on a city (they cost 7 marble) it produces 3 of its resource when you take that action. Temples also raise the city's defenses considerably, and you can also spend marble to construct city walls to further bolster its defense.
Besides production and temple/wall building, the other actions you can take are recruiting legions and galleys (using gold), buying technology (using gold), bringing those legions and galleys onto the board (using iron), and moving all of your placed legions and galleys (for free). Combat is purely attrition-based, so both players lose troops on a 1-for-1 basis (+3 if there is a temple, +1 if there are city walls, and +1 if they are attacking a city). One neat thing is that all troops lost in combat go back to their recruitment box, so you don't have to pay gold to recruit them more than once, but do need to spend iron to get them back on the board.
There are five technologies to invest in, and the first player there pays a lot (but gets a victory point) while the second player pays a fraction of that cost (but doesn't get a victory point). These seem minor, like moving troops one extra space, getting an extra resource when producing, or raising city defenses by 1, but have a major impact on gameplay. One of them, which lets you swap resources you own for different ones from the bank on a 3-for-2 basis, may break the game. The jury is still out.
Each time you produce something, and at some other points, you get a coin that can be used as a wild card resource and also comes into play in other ways. They provide all kinds of options you wouldn't otherwise have if the game used only raw materials.
You need 9 victory points to win, and get them by investing in technology first, or reaching certain thresholds (owning 5/10/15 cities, building 3/6/9 temples, being in 7 sea spaces, destroying a temple, etc.).
There's a neat come-from-behind mechanism via an action deck that has some relatively powerful cards in it, which you only get if your opponent gains a victory point or sacks one of your cities. Most can be reserved to play at an opportune time to give you an advantage or screw your opponent in some way, and they are a nice consolation prize without being overly powerful (except in certain situations, where they are meant to level the playing field, e.g. the card that makes your opponent lose half his or her money).
It is a tight design that accomplishes what I thought was impossible, which is making Antike playable with two people. It's also inexpensive, especially considering the custom wooden components (you get little legionnaires and ships and temples instead of generic cubes). You can try it out on Yucata.de, but with the potentially broken trading strategy I recommend reading up on it to see if there is a fix. I know there's an option available at Yucata.de that lets you make that tech available only one time per turn (apparently players are going all-in in a single resource (marble I think) and then using trading to convert it to whatever they need, giving them an overwhelming economic engine).
How does it compare to Trajan?
No clue. I haven't had a chance to try Trajan yet. Is it good with two?
I've never played with less than 3, but it does seem like a game that would progressively less interactive the fewer players you have. I'm not sure that's a negative, since honestly I could use the room for planning. It's just the only Mancala-like I've played recently, so I was wondering what resemblance it bore to Antike, if any.
Baker, is it better than Antike? I did not care for the original version, but I really like Imperial 2030.
It's Antike with a few tweaks. The rulebook includes a complete breakdown of the changes:
Players get coins when they produce, not automatically each round
Cities can only be built in certain places, and cost extra if you place the same resources adjacent to one another
Sea spaces are tweaked so you can visit less of them and get the Navigator victory point
Tech is re-priced, and they introduced the potentially broken one
Temples are more expensive to build
There are town walls
Bringing units onto the board is more expensive
Destroyed units and city walls are returned to a players recruitment box, not their personal supply
As you can see, nothing fundamental changed, so if you hated Antike you'll probably hate this. I got rid of Antike because I would always rather play Imperial (I haven't tried 2030) and also have Navegador. I got this because I wanted a rondel game playable with 2, and there will never, ever be an Imperial for 2 (at least I can't conceive of how it would work).
So, 2012 board game catchup, Part 2 (part 3 might be a long time coming unless I manage to play some of my must plays at game night or find some spare cash).
At our last game night, I finally broke open my copy of Martin Wallace's Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. I went through a couple stages before I bought it, from "WOO DISCWORLD W/ MARTIN WALLACE!" to starting to hear some middling reviews to seeing the many wooden pieces and great art style.
After playing it? I would describe my opinion best as pleasantly surprised. It wasn't quite the stunner that I consider Spartacus, but it was an excellent group game with a really great theme. The best part by far was the way Wallace managed to mix multiple win conditions. It makes you pay attention to the board and other players behavior, and hidden information mechanics like this one are my absolute favorite things in board gaming. I like the art style a lot, especially the board and the wooden pieces.
So yeah, Discworld. Definite thumbs up, maybe not game of the year, but I am especially looking forward to playing it with some of my more casual board game friends. I think it could be a fun addition to the games that they play.
This week in boardgaming:
Galaxy Trucker! I recently got the "Another Big Expansion," and wanted to try it out. Ironically, I didn't; we hadn't played the game in so long that we decided to play it straight-up (well, with the first Big Expansion already pre-mixed-in) first. Still a fun game, in that chaotic way. I really enjoy the structure of building something up, and then setting the game in motion to watch it play out. After the game, I took a look at the new expansion, and it definitely looks like it's of the "you've played this game a lot, so mix it up" type of expansion, where it adds some extra wrinkles and options. Unless you play the game a lot (or need a fifth player), I think this is one that's actually best without any of the expansions.
C&C: Napoleonics. I've been playing this with my son week after week, and man, I keep losing. At first I was playing a bit gently to take it easy on him, but now I'm not, and I'm getting consistently beaten still. I think I'm just being too aggressive and getting my units exposed. Hmph. Fun game, though.
C&C is all about patience, and hiding your almost dead units.
This is very good to hear, as the game got mixed reviews. However, Wallace has yet to truly disappoint.
There's a geeklist trending on BGG for 'game boxes made better with googly eyes'. I was mildly amused for most of the page, with the Connect 4 getting my only thumbs up. Then I got to this:
Cookie Monster's DUNE
Lizard_King, I only have the Exodus expansion.. For some reason, I've never tried it with Conflicted Loyalties or the Ionian Nebula Maybe I read you say that it wasn't good? Or I just didn't bother to learn it? I don't know. Do you recommend I continue to ignore them? Should I just fucking buy Pegasus before it goes out of print?
I'm finally playing it again, since moving a year ago, once I got my group over the hurdle of not knowing anything about the BSG show, though games have been kinda stale to start... They aren't the Mafia/warewolf/Resistance/whatever playing types, I guess.
Yes, I think CL/Ionian are things that really experienced groups inflict on themselves to break up repetition, but I don't think they are improvements to the game. They aren't terrible, like New Caprica in Pegasus, but they aren't good.
I think the Pegasus expansion is nice to really balance out the game, as it gives humans a little more breathing room, but it's not essential. I would just as soon grant them 1 extra resource per category if it becomes an issue. Either way, I don't think it's going to "un-stale" your game, which is really more a question of personality as the base game and any combination of expansions can generate enthusiasm if it's your thing. I'm just speaking to what makes the game balanced and more mechanically interesting, which is not really the same as fun unless you've already gotten people to buy into it. Hope it works out, though. Maybe watch some of the first two seasons and see if it gets you interested, they are pretty good.
I've never actually played with the Cylon Fleet from Exodus without the Pegasus board, but given that in every such game I've played Pegasus eats 4 hits and blows up and Galactica takes a pounding even if the humans win, I'd be inclined to think that the humans might need some mitigating effect to avoid just getting blown up again and again. Your mileage may vary though - if this isn't a problem you're running into then I wouldn't worry about it. Pegasus's most useful role is that it can absorb 4 hits that would otherwise trash Galactica.
So I agree with
Lizard_King that humans might need a boost to maintain parity, but generally the boost Pegasus provides is a shield against losing via destruction rather than resource depletion, so I'm not sure if +1 resources would temper that particular threat.
Yeah, I guess simply adding 4 hp to Galactica (shields!) would probably do more. Any downsides to that?
Not really. My general rule on Pegasus is that it only can be chosen absorb external hits (damage coming from attacks via Cylon ships) and not from sabotage or damage added to Galactica via crisis cards, and that whether Pegasus takes the hit for Galactica is Admiral's choice. I'd say you can do the same without the physical Pegasus board - give the Admiral 4 tokens he can spend that can each absorb one point of external damage during the course of the game.
Has anyone played Kemet? It's a mythological wargame from the makers of Cyclades and I've heard a little bit of buzz about it. I understand it was released last year in some regions.
It just got to my dealer, and if it's still there when I head down there for my next shipment I'll see if leering at the box makes me want it. But I don't find the pitch all that convincing, although to be fair it also took actually playing it to make me like Cyclades. Edit: also this review/thread has some good discussion, which I think is what keeps me on the fence.
Game group today! Got in three games, which is more than I usually do, and all three of them were ones I'd been interested in trying, so score.
Troyes: This is a well-regarded Euro game, and is the sort of Euro game that I find kind of frustrating to assess these days. It's a worker placement game where your workers are dice that you roll, and the values on the dice affect how you can place them. So the short description is probably like "Caylus meets Kingsburg."
But the thing is, it's a lot more Caylus than Kingsburg in spirit. There are just so many moving parts to this thing, and so many different interlocking mechanisms that it sometimes feels like you're just going through abstract mathematical motions for the sake of it, without any clear idea of whether you'd be better off doing something else.
And that's why I find it frustrating -- if it's 1993, and this is the game that your game group has, and you play the shit out of it, I am very confident that it is deep and would reward repeated play and you'd start to suss out and respond to each other's strategies and you'd love it. But it's 2013, and it's a basically competent Euro that doesn't inspire me to WANT to play it a whole bunch. So "mediocre" doesn't seem like a fair rating, but it's about how I feel.
Kingdom Builder: This is by Donald X. Vaccarino, the Dominion guy. When it came out, there was a ton of excitement around it because, hey, the next game from the Dominion guy! But then the reaction was a lot more muted, because people said it was a simplistic game that didn't really have a lot of depth to it.
And so the thing is: I was impressed by it. Maybe partly because of low expectations, but I think partly because it's the kind of game that's up my alley. Yes, it is simplistic, but I actually like that. In fact, I think that's a big key in a Euro attracting me these days -- focus. Find a mechanic that you can build a game around, build the game around it with just the right amount of elaboration, and then make it tight and fast-playing.
So anyway, you play it by drawing a terrain card that you can build on, and then building your houses on that terrain, and trying to achieve goals that are drawn randomly out of a goal set before the game (which gives it some Dominion-style variation). It's totally abstract, but it feels a lot like Through the Desert, and even a little bit (not a lot) like Smallworld. I may actually end up buying this one, which is sort of rare for me after playing a game these days. (Usually I buy them to find out if I like them, and by actually playing them, my curiosity is satisfied.)
And finally, Mice and Mystics. This is a quasi-RPG/quasi-tactical minis/quasi-storytelling game. I did not find it 100% successful, because the story reading dragged on too long and the minis combat didn't have enough depth to it. It felt like a lighter version of Descent, and I don't really love Descent, either. For me, if I'm going to play a game like this, I'd really rather just play D&D, when it comes down to it.
But: The game is beautifully made, the story stuff is well-integrated into the combat, and the mouse theme is very cute. If you were playing this with a kid, particularly one who likes those Redwall books, it'd be perfect -- because really, reading to your kid, plus working together in a fighting game? If my son were eight years younger, I'd buy this game instantly.
I sold Troyes after a single play. I thought it was OK, but there are hundreds of games I'd rather play, and your assessment is spot-on.
I sold Mice & Mystics after half a play, and that was with a nine-year-old. He thought it was too diddly and boring, and I couldn't stand the combat. It's the biggest gaming letdown I've experienced in years.
I need to give Kingdom Builder another chance, but I don't see it happening when there are so many other games that I immediately enjoyed waiting to be played again. I was really glad I didn't buy it.
Yeah, Kingdom Builder isn't some game of incredible genius or anything, but what I like about it is, it's a game where the objectives are laid out for you, and then you proceed to go about fulfilling them. And you're balancing them against each other, and trying to prioritize them and all that, but fundamentally everything you're doing is clear progress toward a goal.
One thing I should mention is that we played it with a slight variant -- the way the game is supposed to work, you pick up a card and have to play that card; we played that you got to keep a card in your hand, picked up a card, and then could choose which one you played. I think the original design is defensible -- most of the time, you're relatively indifferent between your two options (or the constraint of the bad one would be good-frustrating), and pulling that choice out of the game makes it play faster and lighter -- but there's just often enough where getting the wrong draw totally screws you, and I think mitigating that is worth it.
As for M&M, I should note that my son at the age I'm talking about would have been 5. And I definitely wouldn't have played it by the book with him at that age, skipping over anything that would have slowed it down too much.
But yeah, I know what you mean about the combat. "Roll to hit, now roll defense to see how many hits had no effect" is a really frustrating mechanic, because it's mostly so painfully slow and ineffectual, but then every now and then, you get these bursts that swing the whole game.
I don't remember the exact dice loadout, but a typical attack would be to use two dice to hit, each of them with a 50% chance. And then the defender would have two dice to defend, each with a (let's say) 50% chance. And so you're not often going to actually get your attack dice to hit, and when you do, odds are that your attack is completely blocked. You can go round after round after round, just ineffectually swinging at each other. But then, bam, they roll two hits, you don't roll any defense, and suddenly you have a dead (sorry, "captured") character.
The "attack against a target defense" mechanic (as in D&D or Runebound) makes more mechanical sense, and would be more natural in an us-against-the-board game like this anyway, really.
I f you do want a mice-themed RPG, it's impossible not to recommend Mouse Guard.
Agreed on all points regarding M&M combat.
And regarding Kingdom Builder, I'm convinced it's an outstanding design, but one that appeals to me not at all. Which is completely arbitrary, because there are plenty of other abstract games that impose strict constraints that I really enjoy (Clans, Octi-X, Cartagena, tons of card games). Ingenious was like Kingdom Builder for me. I should have loved it, and there's no arguing it's a great design, but it did nothing for me. I guess in KBs case it was a matter of seeing all the randomness that was possible to keep it fresh (like Agricola) and then finding out that the game plays out pretty much the same way regardless of all that.
That was my take on M&M as well - my wife and I actually lost the first scenario through a couple unlucky swings, and this after having things go mostly right for the first hour of play. It's just a bad system where everything takes longer than it should and the catastrophic failure can happen on any random unlucky roll that you can do nothing about. Pretty much everything about the system could have been modeled to operate twice as fast while maintaining the same probabilities for outcomes using dice with more sides, or using various weighted six-sided dice a la Super Dungeon Explore.
We ended up getting rid of Mice & Mystics. It was hard to part with the minis, but the gameplay itself was fairly dull.
Sparky went to a con with portable googly eyes. She posted this recently:
FWIW, they've been selling extra sets of the minis for like $15 if you want to keep a set of them for the sheer adorableness.
Interesting! I'm almost tempted. I'm really curious how you came across extra mini sets though!
The Plaid Hat folks posted about them on BGG. Looks like they're currently sold out in their online store, but should be in stock again eventually:
$15 for the full set really isn't so bad.
OIC. I misread your post. I thought you were saying *you* were selling the minis. Reading fail on my part.
But yes, I agree. I may indeed pick up a set when they come back in stock. Thanks!
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