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The last time I did a Dice Masters draft, I made several mistakes and I wrote all about it. This time I was determined to learn from those mistakes and do a lot better. The past two times I particpated in a rainbow draft it was with Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Battle for Faerûn. This time though it was with Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men. I am much more familiar with this set, so I was hoping this would help me out. Here is how it went this time:
This time I wanted to make sure I had a consistent strategy, and I wanted to draft to support that. I also knew because of how powerful the global ability can be, I had to make sure I took a Professor X if I saw one. Going into the draft I had two strategies in mind. The first strategy was to go bolt heavy, using Pyro and/or Cable to deal damage to my opponent using direct damage. My second approach was to grab fist character who high attack, low defense, low fielding cost, and low purchase cost. I then planned to use the Relentless basic action global ability to remove blockers and attack early. In my opening draft pack, I had both the Pyro I needed for the bolt team and the Black Panter I needed for the fist team. Since my preferred option was fists, I went with Black Panther. I picked up X-23 early who was another good attacker. I wanted more Ant Man dice, but they were clumped together. I took one, and by time the pack came back around they were gone. In the end I had hoped for a few more cheap buys, but I felt like I had a team that could stick with my primary strategy. Here is what I fielded:
In the first game, I drew the group organizer so I started off thinking in the back of my head I was probably going to lose. He was playing a very similar set up. Rather, we both had the same strategy we just did it slightly differently. Instead of using Black Panther and X-23 he intended to use Ice Man, and Ant-Man's global to make him a huge attacker. Fortunately, I went first because it guaranteed that if our teams both worked perfectly I was one turn ahead of him. I did get lucky attacking with X-23 on her level 3 side twice in a row, and on the next turn I was able to deal the remaining damage to win.
For this game I was playing someone who had a team built around Mr. Sinister. This particular version of Mister Sinister would deal two damage to me every time a villain was knocked out. This would not have been a problem except he also had Iron Man which brought the global that could make anyone a villain. I felt like this might have been a bit of a slower team, but once he got going I was going to be in trouble. Because of this, I swung as hard and as fast as possible. On turn three I fielded X-23 on the level 2 side. I also had rolled a lot of bolts, and I spent them all on the enrage global ability which let me attack for 9. I managed to use Relentless to get an Ant Man through a turn later. At this point he was starting to build up, but I had enough out and enough Masks for relentless that I was able to get my lethal damage through.
Going into this game I noticed my opponent was short on cheap characters. They had a three cost Mystique, but everything else cost four or more. I started to feel a little cocky at this point since my team was moving fast. That was a mistake, because I just about lost this one. My first two turns were terrible with rolls. I rolled mostly shields and I had no way to spend them. By time I got up and rolling, I was behind. I did manage to get one attack in for 8, but after that my opponent started building a wall. I got in a situation where I could use masks for Relentless or save it for Professor X. I kept saving it because if I attacked it would not be lethal and I would not be in a good spot for his response. I also discovered that Mystique which gains +1/+1 for dice in the prep area is an incredible blocker when paired with the PXG. I finally attacked to clear out his sidekick blockers, and on the next turn I had enough characters fielded that I overwhelmed his defenders to get the needed damage through.
My opponent had built his team around Pyro. However, this game went extremely quick. On turn three I was able to get Black Panther out on his level 3 side. I used Masks with Relentless to get him through unblocked. Since he attacked alone he got +2 attack and I dealt 10 damage. On turn 5 I did the exact same thing.
I went 4-0 and won this particular event! This was my third draft event and, I am really starting to feel like I am getting the hang of draft. I know a lot of the people I have played with really like the accessibility of draft, but I almost feel like drafting requires even more familiarity with cards than constructed. Knowing what might work with a certain card, and the likelihood of it coming around are huge. Winning this draft really gave me the feeling that I am learning this game. In June we will be doing another D&D draft, and we will see if I can do as well with dragons and heroes as I did with X-Men.
We have too many games. There are some games that sit on the shelf unplayed for a while, sometimes years. We plan on playing every game we have not played for two years or more, and that one play will determine if the game stays or if it gets purged to make room for something else.
My wife and I have a tradition that around the beginning of summer we get a game that we know little to nothing about and spend the day playing it together. This was our 2013 selection. We played this game a lot in a 24 hour period in the last week of May two years ago, and it has been unplayed since then. Is this game under the radar or is it just sunk?
Brief Game Overview
In this game players are picking up goods and delivering them for points. Each turn a player gets 1 to 4 actions. How many actions they get is based on how full their canoe is, the fuller the canoe the less actions.
Players will slowly expand the board by adding new island tiles. For actions, they can move, pick up goods, or fish. To fish players grab cubes out of the bag looking for white cubes, to pick up goods they simply take colored cubes off an island, and to move they change tiles. When moving it is possible to pass a reef. If the player does this they draw a cube from the bag. If the color matches a color the player has they lose that cube.
If a player is at the home island they can deliver goods. Delivered cubes are kept on a player board and more cubes means more points (increases by one only, except for fish which starts out in negative).
After all tiles are placed, they will start to deplete once there are only four non-depleted tiles the game ends. Each player will have a secret objective where they seek to have the most goods of two particular types. Doing so grants end game points, and the player with the most points wins.
What We Previously Thought
My wife thought this would make a good gateway game. I thought that it was not bad, but that it was missing something.
My verdict: Purge
My Rationale: So what is missing, is fun. Mechanically this game works, but there is just nothing exciting about the game.
Her verdict: Purge
Her Rationale: This game is boring. When we have so many good games, I am not going to want to waste time playing a boring one.
Even though we held onto it for a couple of years, Tahiti is probably down at the bottom when compared to our other random game purchases. For us, there is a good reason this game did not see play for two years, and it is time for it to go.
I first played this game not to long ago at Geekway to the West. That first play was under less than ideal circumstances, and I made some terrible mistakes. The next day, I was able to play it again. I had a much better handle on the game's flow and did much better. After that second play, I was CONVINCED that my wife would absolutely love this game. I was so confident that I felt compelled to get it then and there because I just knew this game had potential to be one of her all time favorites. I think she skeptically took this rationalization as hyperbole to justify getting a new game, but at the same time she was very excited to play it. So did this game brew something special or does it blow up in my face?
Like most euro games the goal of this game is to get the most points. What sets this game apart is the primary way that players get points. The game has eight different ingredients and at the at beginning of the game each ingredient will randomly be assigned alchemy properties. By deducing these properties correctly players will be able to get points.
Each round begins by players determining the turn order. There is a track they place a piece on. The lower on the track a player goes the more bonuses they get but the higher the better turn order. After this is determined, the player at the bottom of the track places their action cubes. This first player places their cubes at the bottom, and the action spots are resolved from the top down.
After all players have placed their cubes, play goes clockwise from action space to action space. First is ingredients, where players can choose from some face up ingredients or take a random one. Next players have the option to discard an ingredient and take one coin.
The next space is sell a potion to an adventurer. If multiple players go to this space they will have a bidding war of offering discounts to entice the adventurer. Each adventurer wants three different types of potions (one of each colors with a different -/+ attribute. The player picks which one they will deliver and then guarantees the potion will be exactly what they want, close enough, at least not the opposite, or just liquid in a bottle.
The next space allows players to buy artifacts. These are expensive but grant very powerful one time or ongoing effects.
The next two spaces have to do with alchemy theories (explained out of order here). One is publishing a theory. To publish a theory the player pays a coin. They then pick an ingredient and indicate which alchemy properties they believe the ingredient has. Player will put seals down to certify their work. These seals are worth points at the end of the game, or a player can put down a seal that hedges their bets in case their theory is wrong. Just for publishing a player gets a point and if they have enough seals down it is possible they are awarded grants. The other theory action is debunking a theory. This is where a player believes another player is wrong. They have to say how they are wrong and if they are right, they get two points and have the first shot at publishing a new theory for that ingredient or set of properties.
The final spaces are the potion testing options: Test on student or test on self. To test a potion two ingredients are combined and doing this will create a red, blue, or green potion. That potion will then be negative or positive. It is also possible to make a neutral potion. If tested on self and it is negative, there are consequences.
For the very last turn the potion testing spaces are replaced by the potion exhibition where players get points for creating specific types of potions.
The biggest thing which I have not mentioned (but you probably knew about anyway) is the app. All of the stuff with the potions are ran by a smartphone app. The app randomly selects the pairings of alchemy properties with ingredients. When mixing potions, the app tells the player what kind of potion is created. The app works wonderfully and is a very natural part of the game.
At the end of the game it is revealed which ingredients had which properties. Anyone who put a point seal on a correct match gets points and mistakes cause points to get lost. There are some other details in the game, but this should be a decent overview.
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.
My Rating: 4.5 (Like it)
My Thoughts: Growing up one of my favorite games was Clue. I loved the deduction element, and I really enjoyed trying to use what I could infer the other players know to make my own guesses better. There is a lot of that in this game. This game is also one of those rare games where the game experience transcends the competitive nature. While I like to win, I do not care if I won by the end. If I successfully figured out which ingredient goes with which properties, I feel like it was a successful game.
Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I have always enjoyed logic puzzles, and this is is essentially a logic puzzle with a euro game layered on top of it. I think the app is very clever, and really helps make this game an unique experience. It is a lot of fun to scan the cards and see what is created.
Combined Rating: 8.5
This is one of the heavier euro games we have played in a while, and this is probably one of the best received heavier euro games for us. We both really enjoyed this game. It is unlike anything else we have, and has a very firm spot on our game shelves.
I recently got this game as part of the Geekway to the West math trade. I indicated I was willing to trade for this game because it looked liked it fit three categories that are appealing to my wife. She is always interested in games that our son can play, but are not strictly kid games. She is also always favorable to a train theme. Finally, she had recently stated she thought we needed a few more quick playing, light games for when we only have 20 some minutes to play a game together? So does this game bring all of the fun to the yard, or is going to be expressed on out of here?
In this game each player starts with a locomotive card. The game will play a certain number of rounds depending on the number of players. On a player's turn they will draw a card and then play a card.
On the first turn they will play any train card. Each card has two train cars and each train car is one of five colors and valued 2, 3, or 4. On subsequent turns the card the player adds to their train must have a train car that matches the color or number of the last car in their train.
After a player plays a card they pass their hand to the left, and they will get the and of the player to their left. Once the final round is played, players add up the value of the their train cars. Also, which ever player has the most train cars of the same color in a row will score that number as points. If playing with the caboose expansion (highly recommended), there are bonus points that can be earned for meeting extra conditions. The player with the most points is the winner.
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.
My Rating: 3 (it's OK)
My Thoughts: I pretty much immediatly described this game as gamer UNO. It is very lite, very quick, and very luck dependent. However, unlike UNO the game does offer a few choices (like go for bigger points or play a less valuable card to have a better chance of playing a caboose card). For me UNO has always been more of an activity than a game. It is something to do while enjoying the company of people, and this fits the same boat. Those looking for a deep game experience will not find it here. This could serve as a gateway to gateway games for those who are really unsure about this hobby, but it also makes for a great night ender when you still want to hang out with your gamer friends but not play much else.
Her Rating: 2 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: This game is almost all luck, and with two players is really just an exercise in who gets the best cards. I do not see the two of us playing this game together again, but I think it will be great to play with our son.
Combined Rating: 5
This game did not go over as well as I had hoped. However, we will be keeping it because this a game our son can play right now. Like UNO, this game is somewhat ageless so if he likes it then it will probably stay in our collection for a long time.
Back towards the beginning of the year I talked with my wife about the possibility of attending Geekway to the West. I have some friends who have attended in the past, and said good things about it. The dates also worked out better than Origins.
She was open to the idea, and after thinking about it she said, "If you are going, let's go with you." I was a little uneasy about the idea because while I was not sure how it would all work, but my wife was insistent. We talked it out and the plan was we would get to St. Louis on Wednesday to do stuff as a family. I would go to a local place to eat with them on Thursday. Friday could be my uninterrupted gaming day. Then on Saturday I had time to play games in the morning, and then we would all go to the Arch before heading home. With a plan in place, we headed west.
Our big plans for Wednesday were to go to the ST. Louis City Museum. This place is pretty much amazing, and is a must to check out in St. Louis. It is a museum dedicated to discovery, and as such it is lite on exhibits but huge on exploration. The entire place is one big playground to crawl around and explore. My daughter was just a little young to fully appreciate it (she could not manage the bigger slides or harder climbs), but my son (and me) had a blast.
After exploring a couple of other places downtown, we went to the hotel. I helped get the kids ready for bed and then sat in a dark room until some other people from the Indianapolis area arrived. I then snuck out to play games with Patrick, Julia, and Adam.
We played Dead Man's Draw twice. As befitting an easy "push your luck" game, I won the first game and then got crushed in the second.
Next we played Pictomania. I had played this game before and did not care for it very much. However, I enjoyed this play much, much more for two reasons. First was player count. The first two games I played were five player games, and in both of those games I got stuck on the end furthest away from the cards and the other players. I did not realize just how much this physical space issue handicapped my experience of the game. The second reason is they played with a house rule where there was not potential for getting negative points do to wrong guesses. This made everyone much more likely to take crazy guesses and led to the game being more fun and funny. After Pictomania we called it a night.
I showed up for registration just a couple of minutes after it opened and got in line. At Geekway to the West everyone who comes gets a free game, determined by a random chip pull. I ended up getting Subdivision. I have never played it, but it looks interesting, so I figure I could have done worse.
I then joined the trio I played with last night, plus two more, for a six player game of Camel Up. This was my first time to play the game, and I found it boring. However, it was stated that the game we played was abnormally boring. There was a clear front runner and clear loser from the beginning, and this did not change once throughout the game. I do not remember who won.
After that game, I played Among the Stars with Patrick and Julia. I felt like I did fairly good at this game, and at the end I had 94 points. However, Patrick's alien ability was that he got a secret objective card to complete and he succeeded. This gave him bonus points that nudged him up to 95 points and the win.
Julia's family had arrived so she played a game with them, and I played a game with Patrick and a friend of his from St. Louis that he had met at previous Geekways (I do not remember his name). They both wanted to play Roll for the Galaxy, so I taught that one to them. I did not have much in the way of synergy with my tiles and I brought up the back in the third. They both liked the game, but they were not sure if it was one to own.
They are both big co-op fans, and I am not. We compromised and played Star Wars: Imperial Assault. I played the Empire side, and they played the heroes. We played a side mission as if it were the second mission in a campaign. Specifically, we played "Sorry about the Mess" which features Han Solo. I do not want to give spoilers away, but it was a really, really close game which the heroes won.
Julia joined us after this to play Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I was the only one who had previously played this game, so I taught it to everyone. I got several bonus cards that gave points for specific room sizes at the end of the game. I got lucky, that people kept putting the rooms sizes I needed in the 2,000 spot and I kept grabbing them. I do not remember the score, but I know the points from these cards gave me the win.
At this point I met back up with my family, and I got to hear all about the fun they had at a children's museum and a butterfly garden. We then went to Fitz's Bottling Company. It is a craft root beer factory and restaurant. While waiting for the food, we got to watch them bottle root beer, which the kids enjoyed. They also really liked the root beer float.
In the evening I had scheduled through a geeklist a game of Warlords of Europe. I have only played this game a couple of times, and I really wanted to experience a full four player game. One of the players bailed, but we did pick up a fourth. I was England, and I was the only player who managed to get complete control of my home territory on turn one. This gave me a leg up on income, and I hoped to use this to rush the end of the game. To win the game, a player has to control half of the castles on the board. The game starts with four, I had hoped to rush and knock Spain out quickly. The Spanish player surprised me by invading France before solidifying their home territory so we battled it out in Southern France with me claiming it from him. The Russia player saw what I was doing and he put pressure on me, by invading Denmark and eventually Scotland. My strategy did not matter, because the Latin Empire player purposely spread out quickly and built castles.
We had a turn of stalemate, before the Latin Empire player moved in on the Spain player. Sensing blood in the water I attacked Spain from France. I captured the Spanish castle and took out the last of his forces. Using the extra gold from conquering Spain I was able to kick the Latin Empire out of French territory, and reclaim all of the British isle from the Russian player. While this was happening, the uneasy truce between Russia and the Latin Empire broke leading to massive battles. At the three and a half hour mark, the dust settled. We were down to three players, and we each had four castles. The next two and a half hours was a ton of back and forth. No one had enough to get dominance, without having the third come in on a weak side. Finally, at a time when I had made a push against Russia, which took a lot of his attention, the Latin Empire player swooped in on two different fronts where we were both weak and got his six castles winning the game. Overall, it was six hour epic and the time flew.
By time I fell asleep it was closing in on two in the morning. My kids woke up at 6:30. I did not plan that one well. At 9AM I went to meet people for another scheduled game, this time it was A Study in Emerald. While waiting for the game to be checked out, I did get to play a quick game of Witness. I really liked the concept and unique premise of the game. However, playing a game that relies on a memory component with only about four hours of sleep does not work. We lost, and it was mostly my fault.
I did wake up a bit more for A Study in Emerald. I had played this game with my friend Adam back in March, and we both wanted to play it again so we scheduled a game for Geekway. I was a reformist player. Fairly early on, Adam signaled he was a loyalists, and I gave my side away by assassinating a great old one. One of the other players started off playing as if here a reformists by targeting Adam, but this changed once he got to see Adam's card. He then revealed himself by really hurting the other reformist player by destroying St. Petersburg. I was now in trouble because even though I was winning, I could not win if my team mate was in last place. He started to catch back up, and I knew he had a couple of points in his deck. Adam was getting close to a Zombie victory and most of my turns were being spent fending off the two loyalists players from taking me down in points. I had assassinated two great old ones, and due to the Black Hand card I had this gave me four bonus points. When adding in the points on the progress track I was one point short of winning. A card that gave the reformists one point turned up and I put some cubes on it to claim it. I had to wait for a tense go around the table before it came back to me, I claimed the card and ended the game. I had figured things right and my team mate was just ahead of one of the loyalists so I won the game.
After this exciting game, I taught Adam and someone else how to play La Isla. Adam went all in on frogs and he managed to get the multiplier high for the win.
I had about an hour at this point before a planned game. There was a small exhibitor area that had a few merchants and a few people demoing games. One of the game demos was for a game on its way to kickstarter called Commissioned. I recognized the game cover and board as being biblical in nature, so I sat down to check it out. This is a co-op game about the rise of Christianity as recorded in the book of Acts and the Epistles. It did have a decent historical flavor. This game took the standard co-op approach of every turn an event card knocked the players two steps back, and then on their turn they had to try to get three steps forward. This game does a couple of unique things. First, they mitigate the alpha gamer problem by making players take turns being the alpha gamer. Each round a different player gets to make the decisions, and this amplified by the fact that each round there is like a 36% chance that no talking can occur. I suppose for a co-op fan this is a good game, but everything I dislike so much about that genre is present in this one. I am also a little uneasy that losing this game essentially means Christianity fails.
I had a scheduled game of Federation Commander at 1:30. Going into it I was a little worried it would not happen, and sure enough it was a no show. I put up a player wanted flag and within five minutes had someone ready to learn. I like using the Planetary Rescue scenario as a teaching game. I played the Federation and had to rescue colonists, and he had to stop me as the Klingons. My opponent maneuvered well and lit me up with the Klingon disruptors. I got a bit lucky and managed to keep my transporters when I took internal damage the second time. I used those transporters to get the colonists and I took off out of dodge. Neither of us accomplished our overall objective, but my marginal victory was just a little less marginal than his.
After Federation Commander, I joined up with friends from my local game group who were also at the convention. They finished up a game of Freedom: The Underground Railroad, and then we played Dungeon Fighter. I greatly disliked this game. It is kind of funny to roll dice in silly ways, but failing over and over again is not fun. The rules of the game might as well have been lick your elbow to win. It would look just as silly, be just as impossible, and be about the same amount of fun.
Next we played Colt Express. I had played this game before, and did not care much for it. I liked it a bit more after this play. This time I had Belle as my character. I really tried to take advantage of her ability and stay with other people. This meant I got shot and hit a lot less than everyone else, and I easily won the game. When I played the first time the same thing happened. I am not an expert at this game, but that character seems a bit overpowered.
We broke for dinner (which I had with my family), and then came back to play Alchemists. Due to some very long announcements and pausing for the math trade, it took a while to get this game going. Once it did though, this was an excellent game (more on that later).
To finish out the night, we played Yardmaster Express which I just got in the math trade. My wife and I have already play this game a few times since getting back, so we will be writing about it soon.
I had made some very big mistakes in playing Alchemists the night before, so I really wanted to try it again. A couple, Adam and Sara, where nice enough to let me join them. Thing went much better this time, but I got barely beat out. I really enjoyed this game, and I was positive my wife would feel the same way. In fact I was so positive about this I went ahead and bought it. So we should be writing about it soon as well.
At this point, my wife would be coming back to pick me up in an hour. I did not want to make them wait, so I played a few games of Loopin' Louie and then waited to go.
We ended our trip, as planned by going up into the arch.
That ended our ST. Louis/Geekway to the West trip. Combining a gaming trip with a family vacation worked better than expected, but I am really looking forward for in a few years when we can all go on the gaming trip together.
Today is always a fun day. If you are going to Gen Con then you no doubt know that today is the day that the Gen Con event tickets become purchasable. We built our wishlist earlier in the week, and when the timer hit zero we hit submit. We were 995 in line, which is not terrible. For the second time ever, we got all of the events that we wanted! This is so exciting because I now have a decent idea at what Gen Con 2015 is going to look like for us, so here our plans (and how we want you to be part of them)
I do not think Gen Con is going to ever officially start on Wednesday, but it seems more and more the unofficial day zero garners more and more involvement. This year I can not stay and play as much as I have played in the past because my son has kindergarten open house that evening. So I plan to go in the morning and most likely drop off some games for the auction store.
Then my next plans is where we want your help. All of the big gaming podcasts have started talking about their convention meetups. That sounds like a fun idea, so I want to have a "Too Many Games Meet Up". On Wednesday of Gen Con at 1:00 PM I will be at a table in "The Landing on Maryland" food court. I will have a bag of games (including some solitaire ones, just to hedge my bets). If you are a reader of our blog and you are in for Gen Con on Wednesday I would LOVE to play a game or two with you. I will probably need to leave by 3:00PM, so it is nothing elaborate. Also, I will have cookies to share.
For the past few years I have purposely had an event during the opening of the main exhibition hall so that I would not be tempted to join into the mad rush. Last year, I hosted a Federation Commander event during that time, and this year I am doing the same thing. This event is already sold out, and it will be a six on six ship melee. The scenario takes place at the end of the war, just hours before the peace treaty goes into effect and a vengeful Klingon Admiral makes one last raid. One of the things that is especially encouraging about this event, is that I recognize some of the names from people who played in my Federation Commander events last year.
While I am running Federation Commander my wife is going to play a game of Catan Histories: Merchants of Europe. We both enjoy Settlers of America, and this is the European version of that game system.
The afternoon on Thursday is going to be our main time in the exhibition hall. My wife does not like wandering around all of the booths. She prefers to be more strategic in what she sees. So during the middle of this time she is going to a cupcake decorating class. While she is doing that I will scout things out, and then show anything I found of interest.
In the late afternoon/early evening we are going to play mammoth Star Trek: Catan. Neither of us have ever played this version of Catan. The past several years we have tried to play in this event, but it either has sold out or the timing was bad.
Finally in the evening, we are going to meet up with some friends. This is a couple that we went to college with, and at this stage in our life they are the only college friends that we really maintain real contact with. It will be fun to play some games with them.
On Friday my wife is not going to be able to join me, so this will be my chance to play several things that have no appeal to her. It has been a couple of years since I have played as a character in a role playing game, so I am going to do that at Gen Con this year. I am playing The Strange Case of the Palmer House which uses the Colonial Gothic system. I have commented in the past how much fun I think A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game would be as a role playing game, and this setting is very similar to a Touch of Evil. After the RPG, I plan on spending most of the afternoon taking in the rest of the exhibition hall. It is also at this time that I will wait in line to try out the one or two games I most want to experience. I will take a break from this at 1pm to do a Learn to Play Dejarik event. If that game does not sound familiar, you probably will recognize it:
I am really excited about this one, because this is the kind of event that can only be experienced at Gen Con.
This will be my 8th Gen Con, and the entire time I have not done anything with the video games area. I am going to change that this year by partaking in the Indianapolis Motorspeedway Simulator. This is a custom build that uses DiRT 2 as the base game engine. I have played a lot of the DiRT series, so I am looking forward to this unique event as well.
I will end on Friday by hosting my second Federation Commander Event. This one is Rescue the Vulcans. Klingons have captured two valuable Vulcan scientists and the Federation is trying to get them back. As of this writing there is one ticket left for that event.
On Saturday my wife and I are going to start by playing in a King of Tokyo tournament. This is one of our 10 x 10 games, so it is a good excuse to get more plays in and we have a chance to win a promo item.
Assuming the time is the same as the past several years, at 10AM we will participate in the Gen Con math trade. Hopefully this year, we do not have to get a game from “that guy” and we will be out quickly. Between the time that ends and 2:00 PM we will at some point leave to go to one of the nicer downtown restaurants and we will probably spend time in the publisher rooms. I especially want to check out Ortus Regni during this time.
This is approaching tradition status, because we will once again be playing a train game on Saturday afternoon. This year we are signed up to play Giant Empire Express together. A couple of years ago my wife tried to play in this event, but no one else showed up to play with her.
In the evening I will be playing in a Dice Mastersrainbow draft. The event description is very vague, so I have no idea what set we are drafting. I am hoping it is Age of Ultron, but I will play with anything so it is all good.
Last year I signed up to play in Two Rooms and a Boom, but I scheduled things too tightly and I missed it. I really want to experience this game in a big convention setting, so this year I allowed plenty of time.
Finally, on Saturday night at 10PM I am hosting an event. I feel that there are not enough late night events at Gen Con, so I wanted to fix that. I am hosting Parsely #2: Jungle Adventure which uses the Parsely game system. These are old school text RPGs played out around a table. I will be the computer and the player are all collectively the players. I suppose this is a bit of a cross between a co-op game and a RPG. It may be there is a reason there are not many late night events, because as of this writing the event is very open. There are eight spots open, so if you are looking for something to do you can come join me. It will be fun, and I will probably bring cookies to share.
On Sunday we will once again begin things with the Christian Worship Service. Then at 11am we will go to a Learn to Play Mottainai. I tried to play a print and play version of this but it did not go well at all. I feel like we must have been doing something wrong. Given how much we like Glory to Rome, I want to give this game another chance and having someone teach us is probably the best way to do it.
Sunday will also be our last chance in the exhibition hall, and chance to see if there are any deals. At 2:00 PM I will be hosting my last event, another Parsely game. This time it is Zombie based, and it is almost sold out. As of right now our plans having us playing the game Grow: The Organic Building Game from 3PM to 4PM so that will be how we close Gen Con 2015 out.
As always, I am so excited for Gen Con. It has always been a highlight of the year, and I feel like we have a really solid set of plans this year. Of course, every year the way we actually experience Gen Con varies from the plans, but those extra surprises are part of the fun!
If you have been following along with us here for a little while, then you know that we are both fairly big fans of Dice Masters. We fell for it hard a year ago, went all in with Uncanny X-Men and even the fun of Dungeons and Dragons Dice Masters won my skeptical wife over. I regularly read a couple of DC comics, so we were planning on going in big for this set from the very beginning. So on the scale of awesomeness is this more Batman or more Matter-eating Lad?
What This Expansion Adds
I realize that technically this is not an expansion in the traditional sense. It is a stand alone game that just happens to integrate with other stand alone games of the same system. However, for all intents and purposes this is an expansion of a system we are already invested in. With that in mind there are two ways to look at the set, what it adds in general to the game and then how it integrates.
One of the biggest things this adds are the DC characters and this set does this in a big way. Affiliations have always been a part of this game, but they come to the forefront in this set. The synergies between affiliated characters, especially the Justice League is very prevalent.
One of the new mechanics that really brings this out is retaliation. When there is a character fielded with retaliation and an affiliated character is knocked out, then the opponent takes damage.
Compared to the Marvel sets, especially this set has a very different feel when being played stand alone. The game is a bit slower, and that is a good thing. There are very few two cost characters to rush the field, and there are also less really cheap fielding cost characters. This helps create some tougher decisions about how to use energy. To top it off there are also less global abilities to manipulate things and cause shenanigans. This creates a game state that feels less exploitable and leads to more stand up, drag out fights (and with Retaliation both sides can be damaged). In general it feels like the card abilities are better as well. For example, there are a few characters who make other characters cheaper to build and field creating a much stronger engine building feel.
The disadvantage to all of this team synergy is I am not sure how much variety there is in teams that come out of the set. While someone smarter than me will see more, right now it seems the dominant team themes are Justice League, Villains, bolt energy, and maybe something focused around sidekicks. This means when building within the set there are some characters like Vixen or Swamp Thing who probably will not see much play.
Integrating with Other Dice Master Sets
One of the common problems with expandable and customizable games is power creep, which means each set sees things getting a little stronger. I feel like Dice Masters has the reverse going on. They made Avengers vs. X-Men a bit too powerful, and they have been trying to dial it back since then. This really stands out when comparing Justice League to other sets. For instance, one of the Black Canaries does the same thing that one of the Storms for AvX does, only Black Canary cost 1 energy more (but does have slightly better stats). Captain Cold does one damage to all sidekicks when fielded, just like Quicksilver. Captain Cold cost more to purchase and field though. As a final example one of the basic actions, Fist of Fury does 1 damage to Target Player (2 if burst and 3 if double burst and opponent has villain). This card is worse than the Power bolt basic action AND Magic Missile basic action. Both of those do two damage to target player or character and they both cost one less than Fist of Fury.
When it comes to integrating sets, a lot of Justice League cards are going to get passed up for older cards. That being said, there are a few Justice League cards that will make a big splash in mixed constructed. The biggest examples are some of the low cost villains like Black Manta and Cheetah. These are cheaper to purchase and field villains with great abilities. They go a long way to making villains more powerful as a faction. Cards like the Rare Firestorm which does direct damage will also be a powerful card in some deck types. Finally, the super rare Constantine is a magic bullet that can stall game ending plays.
I am not sure how much it integrates but I am really excited about playing out games with Justice League vs. Avengers and see who wins.
Worth Getting the Expansion
My Answer: It Depends
My Thoughts: For DC comic fans this is a must. For hardcore dice master players who love the idea of exploring the game this is a must. However, from there recommendations get a bit more situational. For a player who is really all about the Official play scene and making the single best team possible, then buying into this set may not be best. Too many cards already have stronger alternates. For that meta-level player, just buying singles of the power cards is probably the way to go. For the casual player then it is a matter of preference. I think that Dungeons and Dragons is still the best stand alone set. This is probably a better stand alone set than the Marvel sets (but not the Marvel sets combined). For someone who wanted to get into dice masters and liked super heroes better than fantasy this is a good starting point.
Her Answer: Whatever
Her Thoughts: I do prefer this set over Dungeons and Dragons but for me more is just whatever. It is nice to have I guess, but I am happy with what we already have. I do dislike the release schedule because I feel like we just go new stuff for this game. However, I do like having Batman dice, so that is a plus.
My wife's official opinion stands, but I will say that playing with a Justice League team has revitalized this game a bit for her. The team has natural synergies and easy to execute combos. For us this has been a good purchase, and I am excited to see what comes next (I am less excited that it will be coming in just a couple of months).
A couple of weeks ago, my game night group did a Dice Masters draft. I wrote a report about then, and it was a ton of fun. Everyone else agreed, to the point that we did it again! We had even more participation with ten people taking part. We did draft pods of five and then did a three round swiss tournament. One of my friends playing asked if I was going to write about this one as well. Even though things went south for me in a hurry this time, here's what happened:
My team was a bit of a mess. I had
common Magic Helmet
common half Orc fighter
uncommon Half Dragon
common invisible stalker
common green dragon
uncommon red dragon
I noticed that my draft pod had five invisible stalker dice, so I decided that I would build around that. I figured without having to worry about things like the Distraction global ability unblockable attacks would be a good way to go. I picked zombies as my main support because they have shields. I wanted orcs or kobolds for swarm but we only had two or three of both in our pool. I went with the half orc fighter, because I figured equipped with the helmet he would be strong enough to offer defense and keep walls from getting built up. Invisible stalker would be my win condition and manticore would keep the pressure on while the dice cycled. My problem is half way through the first group I got the green dragon. There were only two green dragon dice in the pod. There was nothing else in the cards I was given at that moment so I took it, mostly as a counter draft than anything. However, in the second draft pack, I got passed the second dragon so I took it and the grabbed half dragons to support.
In the first game my opponent was all about the magic missiles. I saw this coming from his set up, so I bought one to deny him from getting all three. His plan was simple. He planned on using an umber hulk to keep my NPCs worthless. He then hid behind a wall of elf wizards, and used the red dragon global to ping for one while waiting for magic missiles to cycle. It worked well, and an opportunity attack with a level 3 Umber Hulk hurt a lot. This game came down very close at the end. On my last turn, I had drawn an invisible stalker, and all I needed was for him to attack to win. Of course he rolled energy, and of course my opponent's magic missiles did not on his turn.
Lesson Learned: Pick a strategy and stick with it. As already mentioned, my team was a mess. I had two different ways to victory (invisible stalker and Green dragon) but I did not fully support either of them. In this game I bought both and that was a mistake. I should have focused on the green dragon or the invisible stalker from the beginning.
In the second round my opponent took advantage of the fact that the rainbow draft rules allow for any basic actions, and brought some Yu-gi-oh actions to the table. He built his team around the horn of the unicorn basic action, He had several energy characters and he especially liked giving a drow assassin overcrush. My biggest problem in this game is that I could not roll characters for anything. There were multiple turns where I had three character dice to roll and could only get energy. I focused on the invisible stalker this time and when he rolled he did his thing. However, my opponent had drafted more smaller creatures and he was outpacing me. I did get the Green Dragon out but a level one Tarasque had me in a bad spot. I decided that I could not win a cold war against that thing, so I attacked and hoped it would not regenerate. It did. My zombies did not. I lost.
Lesson Learned: Do not bring global abilities because they are convenient. My build and strategy did not really need the red dragon. I brought him along for his global, because I thought I could use him a bit as a ramp by getting cheap action dice to roll for energy. In this match up my opponent was already built for using action dice anyway, and he abused my red dragon global more than I did. Had I not brought that thing, this match up could have gone differently. However, I gave my opponent the exact tool he needed to beat me.
So at this point I was in the unfortunate position of playing for not last. My opponent's team was a bit of a mess like mine was. My trouble with rolling characters persisted, and I think I was down to 16 life before I even got something fielded. In this game my zombies were star blockers and proved to be really hard to remove from the field. My manticores did a great job of taking my opponent down, and the invisible stalker rushed in for his attacks. This was a bit of a slog because we had both built up walls, seeing this on one turn I did manage to get the green dragon bought, and his breath weapon opened a hole and allowed me finally claim a win.
Lesson Learned: Take time to set up. In the previous games, I rushed to get my big die bought at the expense of having thing ready to block. In this game, I took my time. I bought zombies first, fielded them, kept NPCs to field to shrink my bag size, and I bought action dice with the red dragon global to get stronger energy options in my bag. By time the Invisible stalker got fielded, I had a solid defense in place.
Final Lessons Learned
The biggest lesson I learned from this is that I need to stay on target. Draft does require flexibility but I lost my way in this one and my record showed that. I also learned a lesson about play, and that is I need to play to my victory condition. I had set out to make the Invisible Stalker my winner. He may not have been the best choice, but I think he could have been somewhat viable. I just played him poorly. My biggest issue was turn over. When he succeeded, I had to wait for the bag to cycle back through. I did a terrible job at mitigating this. First I could have been more strategic when I attacked. If my opponent did not have a sure fire way to get rid of him, I could have left him out to help with blocking until my bag was about to refill. I would have gotten more use instead of attacking immediately and then waiting till my bag emptied out. Worse, I did not take advantage of my resources. I brought the Polymorph basic action for the global so that I could spin my Invisible Stalker up. However, I should have bought the die and used it to get my invisible stalker back to the field quicker. I did not do this correctly until the last game.
Despite losing, I once again had a lot of fun and I feel much better prepared for the next time I give a draft a go.
We got this game last Fall when it was clearance. We got this game for our son and gave it to him for Christmas, but we waited to play it until recently so that he would get a touch older. We were interested in getting this for him for a couple of reasons. First, the super hero theme was naturally appealing, and second we liked the idea of play a co-op game with our son. Now that we have played the game, is it a hero or a zero?
In this game each player controls one of four heroes (Superman, Batman, Flash, or Green Lantern). Depending on the number of players a set number of villains are put into a common pool, and eight of them are randomly picked to start on the board. The board consist of eight tracks that lead towards the center where the Justice League watchtower is.
On a players turn they are going to roll an eight sided die and a custom D6. This roll will determine what happens. Either villains on the track move closer to the watchtower, a new villain is placed, or the player gets to take their hero turn. Players will roll dice until they roll the symbol indicating they get a turn.
Once a player can activate they move and attack. A player can move spaces equal to the number they rolled and they can attack if in the same space as a villain.
Each player starts with two action cards. These cards can add combat, teleport a player, or activate one of their super powers. The effect of the card is dependent upon the color of area the player is in.
To do combat, each villain has a numerical rating (between 7 and 15 normally). If the villain is part of the hero's rouge gallery (such as Batman vs. Joker) then the players rolls the D8 twice. If not they roll once. Action cards can add extra dice, and if another player is in the same space they may help and add their dice. If the sum of the rolls meets or beats the villain then the villain is defeated.
There are some spaces that cause villain cards to be drawn which have a negative impact and there are some super villains (like Darkseid) who are extra powerful. If a villain ever reaches the center of the board they destroy a section of the watch tower. If all four sections are destroyed the players lose. If the board is cleared of villains, then the players win.
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.
My Rating: 3 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: It is impossible not to point out that this game is VERY similar to Castle Panic, to the point of feeling derivative. I am not a huge fan of Castle Panic, and mechanically it is probably a better game. That being said, rolling the dice in direct combat was more fun (if not more random). The super hero theme also bumps this up for me just a bit. This is a game that my wife and I will not play together but I am glad we have it as a family game.
Her Rating: 3 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: I agree with the Castle Panic comparison. I feel like this game is more luck dependent than Castle Panic, but it may also be easier.
Combined Rating: 6
This game does not change our opinion on co-op games. They are just not our cup of tea. However, we do think that co-op games are good for our son right now. He is a five year old and he has not learned to lose or win well yet. Hopefully all sharing the victory or loss will help with that. He really enjoyed this game, and since it is his in the first place we will be keeping it.
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