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This is how the madness starts...

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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Here it is... an empty bus... three folding tables... and my crazy idea to try and combine a wheelbarrow full of games... Arkham Horror and all the expansions, Eldritch Horror along with Forsaken Knowledge, Mansions of Madness with Forbidden Alchemy, and the Call of Cthulhu card game.

(Sorry for the low quality pictures.)





Why the setup? Because a house with four gremlins/mogwais and two cats is not a proper environment for me to be a mad board game scientist over an extended period of time.

More details about the basis of my idea to follow.
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Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:12 am
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CCCC (Custom Created Cards from my son Colin)

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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My second son, who is ten, has lately been a very faithful and regular gaming partner with me. He’s taken a real interest in it, of all kinds, and in head-to-head games it’s been happening increasingly often that he beats me (which fills me with joy).

A few weeks ago he had the idea to create custom heroes for the Lord of the Rings Card Game. I told him if he wrote down his ideas I would then help him to make them into “real” cards. So he did. And I did, using the Strange Eons program. All in all, I think he’s shown creativity, cleverness, and a definite understanding of the rules of the game. I intervened in a few cases where the heroes’ powers would be hard to implement, or would be too powerful, but mostly all the cards are as he designed them (including the pictures he chose for the cards).

So I thought I’d share them here. Please let me (us) know what you think of them.

* * *

Here's how started, a rough draft if you will:



His work station:



And here are the twenty final cards:



He's already working on more.
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Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:13 pm
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Needle-felting HORROR

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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Okay, I know this has nothing to do with games, per say, but it's just too cool not to mention.

A few months ago, my wife started needle-felting, which (according to Wikipedia) is: "[...] a popular fibre arts craft that creates felt without the use of water. Special needles that are used in industrial felting machines are used by the artist as a sculpting tool."

In those few months since she's started, her skills have improved greatly, and she's produced a whole array of really beautiful little creations.

Like these vegetables...


Or this family of bunnies...


Or this fairytale-like scenery:


(More on her own page here: http://ahippiewithaminivan.com/needle-felting/)

Recently, though, she has completed what is ― for me at least ― her crowning achievement so far.

Behold:


(She used one of the little Cthulhu statuettes from the Call of Cthulhu LCG as an inspiration... so there, it has something to do with games after all...)
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Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:38 pm
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Some notes on playing a solo game of Arkham (in an empty house)

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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My wife and kids have been off camping on a friend's farm for a few days (a not-going-back-to-school affair with other unschooling families).

I had to work this week, so I couldn't be with them. Today, however, I took the day off to do some things around the house.

Last night, I was a little tired from my work day, but I also had a few hours in which to do anything I want, free of disturbances or interruptions or anything. I have four young kids, so this is... too good not to take advantage of.

Originally, my plan was to play the Lord of the Rings LCG, but then I realized that I should do something I can't do as easily at other times. So, after some hesitation, I took out Arkham Horror.


(Sorry for the quality, my iPad is all I had to take a picture...)

Notes on the evening:
- I am by myself.
- A glass of cider at my side.
- The soundscape is composed of my Arkham Horror playlist (a mix of ninjadorg's Nameless Festival and some era-appropriate songs).
- I'm using a plastic skull to hold the portals.
- The monsters are in a great bag my wife made for me.
- I am playing on our kitchen table, something I've never done, as usually I play my games in my computer room / book room, which also has a table, but which doesn't have good lighting. I'm getting older (38), and I find that bright lights make everything easier (especially with that game).
- The setup is mostly the base game plus the Dunwich and Curse expansions, although the other three small expansions are also represented in the mythos/encounter/other world piles (as I couldn't be bothered to separate everything).
- Did I mention I was by myself?

Anyway, I played for a few hours, then around 10:30 I went to bed (too tired to go on, having gotten up at five way back at the beginning of the day). Today, I'll be busy, but I'm hoping to go back to the game tonight and finish it. Either that or put it away unfinished, as my wife and kids are coming back tomorrow, and so the kitchen table will not be a viable place for this game to be. Simply won't do.
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Fri Sep 6, 2013 4:20 pm
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Life update

Simon Gingras
Canada
Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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For a while now, me and my wife have been dreaming of making big changes in our lives. She is not happy living where we are, for various reasons, and she longs to go back to British Columbia where she spent most of her childhood. I am not happy either, stuck in a job that I hate, getting older and more depressed with every passing year.

For a while now we've been thinking of getting a bus, converting it into a liveable home, and then (once the house has been sold) heading off, for an undetermined period of time. Maybe we'll travel for a while, trying to earn some money on the road; maybe we'll just head straight for BC, and then either keep living in the bus somewhere or try to settle down in a new house. Our plans our flexible, which makes it very interesting, full of potential.

(Of course, this means we'll have to get rid of a lot of stuff, which is something we've been trying to do for a while. I've grown pretty detached from most things, but there are two areas where I'm having a little more trouble: books and games. I need to trim down the number of books I want to keep, so that I'm able to carry them with us in the bus. I also need to keep the space needed for my games to a minimum. In my next post, I'll go into a few things I've done to try and reduce the space my games take.)

Now, all of these plans will finally become much more real, as we have found our bus, and after my wife's heroic trip to go get it, it's now in our driveway. We can now start to shape it into a usable, liveable, living space for six. A daunting challenge, but one which will be worth it.

(You can read more about it on my wife's blog here, here and here.)
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Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:04 am
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Family gaming update

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
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When last I wrote, I had started to play more game with my boys (Dungeon!, Star Wars Miniatures), and I was anticipating an even deeper immersion with them with the prospects of some card games which I was considering for purchase.

Soon after, I got the Core sets of the Call of Cthulhu LCG and the Star Wars LCG as birthday presents to myself.

Since then, I have been playing the Cthulhu one with my oldest, who is 10. It really has been fun to play it with him. He has no trouble with the general rules, he's quite good at making new decks for himself, and (surprisingly, considering he could be playing video games or watching a movie) he hasn't refused a game yet. He wins more and more, too. The only trouble is that if he's tired and then loses, he'll get a little upset. (Like that time he had to discard his hard-earned Cthulhu, because the card says "After a player draws cards during his draw phase, he must sacrifice a character, if able", and that was his only character. Yeah, we had to stop the game that time...)

The Star Wars one I've been playing with my second son, who is 8. Also great fun. He learned the rules pretty quickly, he also likes to put his deck together (changing it whenever I get the new expansions), and he's quite good at the game. As with his brother, I don't go easy on him, only giving some tips or reminders. (And just a few days ago, I started to teach him how to play the Lord of the Rings LCG, which he's seen me play solo, and has been asking to learn for a while.)

A few weeks ago, I also tried Arkham Horror with them. They seemed to like it, and they were eager to play, but I think the rhythm of the game is not quite right for them. That's one I'll keep playing solo, at least for now.

Two weeks ago, we played Settlers of Catan as a family for the first time (after the youngest one, who is 3, had been put to bed). So it was me, my wife (whose favourite game this is), and my three boys (10, 8 and 6). It went well, and we managed to see it to the end (even if it was late and they were having giggle fits every two minutes). I think it's a little too tame for my oldest, and I must admit that I find it kinda dry too. Maybe Lords of Waterdeep would be a little more engaging, for me at least?

But anyway, as a whole I would say that my attempts to play more games by trying to include my kids (instead of just playing solo) have been going really well, and I'm hoping that it builds up into a long-lasting activity for me and them (and maybe, eventually, my daughter, who is now 3-and-a-half).

Mansions of Madness and Middle-Earth Quest are now at the top of my wishlist, and I find it interesting that I'm now looking at two games which are not meant to be played solo, and that I specifically want to play with my kids.
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Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:08 pm
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Trying out "Star Wars Miniatures"

Simon Gingras
Canada
Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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Recently, my boys' interest in board games seems to have really increased, something I am only too happy to encourage.

Amongst other things...

... Dungeon!, which was a family Christmas present, has been a big hit.

... both my 10-year-old and 8-year-old boys have asked to play a card game with me, the oldest wanting to try Call of Cthulhu, while the youngest is drawn by Star Wars. (I haven't gotten either of them yet, but I've read the rulebooks to try and see if it would work with them. I think it will.)

And, more to the point, my 8-year-old has been playing a lot with my D&D minis (the DDM ones, as well as the Heroscape and Dungeon Command ones). He's also spent many hours with War of the Ring, just having fun setting up the armies on the huge map.

Looking around on the Internet, he also discovered the existence of Star Wars Miniatures. (In fact, I should say re-discovered, as he had got a booster pack a few years ago, but he was too young to know that they were part of a game.) So he asked if they were still available. I told him that although they were no longer being made, it was still possible to find some of them, at a price. He then made a list of the ones he wanted the most, and with that list in hand I went to my game-shop. There was a lone, forgotten set of the Attack On Endor pack, which I got, and I also got him another one which he wanted. But seeing the asking prices for those minis made me realize that the possibility of us acquiring a lot of them is an unlikely one. They are just too expensive.

Nevertheless, he was happy with what he had.

Since then, I've gone through the rulebook for Star Wars Miniatures, and so I was ready to introduce him to the real game.

Last weekend, I surprised him by coming up with a Hoth set-up on the kitchen table, and I proceeded to teach him the game.

Here are a few hazy photos taken with my iPad (sorry for the poor quality):




The heterogenous setup is made up of:
- A few official Star Wars Miniatures.
- The map from the D&D Icons: Legend of Drizzt pack.
- A few Heroscape pillars of rock, so as to provide some cover and line-of-sight hindrance.
- My old "Hoth" playset from the early 1980s (seen here http://www.rebelscum.com/Kenner-MC-HothWorld.asp), using the Echo Base, Generator and Wampa Cave portions of it, as well as many of its die-cast miniatures (which are almost the same scale as the plastic ones) with the SWM cards which I printed in black-and-white for the appropriate Hoth-themed figures
- Some tokens from Dungeon Command.

The game was fast, and with some of my help he had no problems with the rules, and in the end he won, so it was perfect. I think he enjoyed it a lot.
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Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:51 pm
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Conquest of Nerath Campaign Variant – Mini session report

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
Québec
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Okay, so here is a partial summary of the first playtest of my variant.

I set up the game as usual, then started.

Karkoth. I moved the armies, then resolved a few battles in the basic CoN way, due to either the presence of a dragon, a siege engine or a warship (which means, according to my rules, that a Dungeon Command battle is ruled out).

Then, a DC battle, which I saved for last: Karkoth bringing a Footsoldier and a Monster against a sole Vailin Footsoldier. Translated to DC, this became a Demonweb Spider [Karkoth Footsoldier] and a Giant Spider [Karkoth Monster] against an Elf Archer [Vailin Footsoldier]. I set up the DC play area next to the CoN map, choosing tiles for both sides, then putting all three figures in their respective start area.

Here, in the lower left side of the board, we see the ongoing Conquest of Nerath battle (Karkoth's Monster and Footsoldier against Vailin's Footsoldier). In the background, we can see the Dungeon Command board which has been set up.

Here, we see the ongoing Dungeon Command battle (Karkoth's Giant Spider and Demonweb Spider against Vailin's Elf Archer).

The Archer managed to kill off the Demonweb Spider...

The Elf Archer on the Dungeon Command board, with the Conquest of Nerath board in the background.

... but then got killed by the Giant Spider. This meant that Karkoth had won the battle, both Footsoldiers were taken off the CoN map, with the remaining Monster having conquered the Vailin territory. Karkoth also managed to collect some treasure (5) during the battle, which were then added to its treasury (a nice boost for the the reinforcement step).

Vailin. Again, a few normal battles then one which I revolved in DC mode. The units: 1) a Vailin Footsoldier, 2) a Vailin Monster and 3) a Vailin Fighter against an Iron Circle Monster. This became: 1) an Elf Archer, 2) a Half-Orc Thug and 3) a Water Elemental (thanks, chromaticdragon!) against a Giant Spider. The Giant Spider killed the Thug, but then got taken down when the Archer drew a couple of Quick Shot cards. At the conclusion of the battle, the Vailin victors then added one treasure to their treasury.

Iron Circle. A couple of normal battles, then one which could have been done in DC mode but which I resolved normally, since the lack of faction-appropriate level 3 Monsters meant that it would have been a giant spider again... I just didn't feel like it.

Nerath. I started with a Dungeon exploration. A Wizard and a Fighter headed for the Trollhaunt Warrens. I then switched to Adventure System mode (setting up my home-made scenario (see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/764892/two-custom-scenar...). The two adventurers explored a bit, faced Legion Devils and Gibbering Mouthers, which threatened to overcome them. Running away, they found the Troll General but in the end succumbed. Which means that on the CoN map both the Fighter and the Wizard died and were taken off the board.

Nerath then went on with a few more normal battles (one which I might have done in DC mode but chose to do normally as it was just a Monster against a Footsoldier).

This was the end of round 1.

Since then, I've thought of this some more, and I've reached the conclusion that to make the DC battles a little more exciting, there needs to be more creatures involved. Thus, I'm thinking of doubling the amount of units involved. I'm not exactly sure how this will be accomplished, but at the moment I'm leaning towards doubling the amount of CoN gold each army starts with. I will probably try this out next time I play (tonight, in all probability, after having opened my newly received set of Curse of Undeath which I'm expecting today!).


[Thanks to my wife for her photography skills.]
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Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:20 pm
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Conquest of Nerath Campaign Variant – The Rules

Simon Gingras
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Sorel-Tracy
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[Note: These rules can -- and will -- change. I post them here at this moment, without any pretense at clarity, so that it is possible for readers to make sense of the session report(s) which I will post next.]

Here are the rules to the variant which I mentioned in my previous post.

- Victory points are not tallied; the game ends when either the Good Guys (Vailin/Nerath) or the Bad Guys (Iron Circle/Karkoth) are completely eliminated.

- When you enter a Dungeon, you can choose to shift the game to "Adventure System" mode. It is played as per the AS rules, with the following specifications:
o In "Adventure System" mode, what you bring into the Dungeon becomes what characters you use. Fighters = fighters, rogues, paladins, rangers, barbarians, etc. Wizards = wizards, clerics. So, if for example you bring two Fighters and one Wizard to a dungeon, you could choose two of the first category, one of the second.
o Every hero has 1 Healing Surge; if he is brought to 0 HPs after using his Surge, he is dead, and thus a casualty of the Dungeon. In other words, a hero can only use his own surge, not an available one belonging to another hero.
o The AS Treasure Deck is composed of all three AS games decks combined.
o The AS Encounter Deck is composed of all three AS games decks combined (minus some which have been eliminated for flavour purposes).
o Every dungeon entails a specific tile and monster setup (see the Dungeon Scenarios here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/8621504#8621504).
o Treasure tokens are used instead of treasure cards (per the Wrath of Ashardalon campaign rules). For each 100gp found and brought back by a Hero, gain 1 CoN gold at the conclusion of the Dungeon sequence.
o Once the final dungeon villain is defeated, pick a treasure from the CoN deck. If the hero(es) went up a level, add a gray chip under the hero(es) figure(s) to reflect this increase in power. Add a door on the Dungeon (to indicate that it's been done once). A second villain must be defeated to succeed in a Dungeon that has already been explored. (In other words, the first time you enter this dungeon, use scenario #1, the second time use scenario #2.) A dungeon cannot be plundered a third time.

- CoN Treasures are not army-wide, but Hero-specific, with a token to identify who-has-what. Thus, most effects can only apply to the hero using it (Boots of Speed or Gauntlets of Ogre Power, for example). There are some exceptions, though, in the case of items than can have long-distance effects (Censer of Controlling Air Elementals or Philosopher's Stone, for example). When a hero is killed, the treasure passes to the victor, and the token is placed under one of his heroes (preferably one who was part of the battle, but if not applicable it is passed along to a hero present somewhere else).
- The specific applicability of CoN treasures into the two alternate modes will be supplied in an annex.

- When a battle begins, if it only involves footsoldiers, fighters, wizards, monsters or siege engines, you can choose to shift the game to "Dungeon Command" mode:
o In "Dungeon Command" mode, what you bring to the battle becomes what Creature Cards you bring to the battle, according to their cost. A general guideline:
. Footsoldier (Level 1 creatures; each unit equals 1 level)
. Fighter (STR/CON/DEX/CHA humanoids of level 2+; each unit equals 2 levels; increase level by 1 for each additional unit of this type)
. Wizard (INT/WIS/CHA humanoids of level 3+; each unit equals 3 levels; increase level by 1 for each additional unit of this type)
. Monster (Level 3+ creatures); each unit equals 3 levels; increase level by 1 for each additional unit of this type)
. If dragons, storm elementals, castles or warships are part of the battle, resolve it as per the normal CoN rules.
. Mature dragons are rare and powerful; therefore, aside from special card effects, each nation only has four dragons to use. Once they are dead, they are gone from the game.
. When siege engines are involved, if Dungeon Command mode is chosen, their effect is resolved before the DC battle. For each siege engine in the opposing nation's army, you take [30] damage, to be allocated according to your choosing, to as many creatures as you want. Story-wise, this reflects the fact that the siege engines cause damage at long range, but once the armies are close this is no longer a viable strategy.


Here is the reference table for all available Dungeon Command creatures:

Legend:
- Heart of Cormyr
- Sting of Lolth
- Tyranny of Goblins
- Curse of Undeath
- [BBG]: Customs made by chromatic dragon, found here: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/865276/variant-custom-cards-...
- [HS]: Customs made by myself, found here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/880848/variant-custom-ca...


o There is no Creature deck.
o The Order deck is composed of all the cards from all the decks (minus [ToG] Reinforcements, which does not work in the absence of a creature deck, and the two [ToG] Strength in Numbers, which is thus also useless), and is shared by both sides. This eliminates deck-building, thus reducing set-up time, and also increasing the luck factor, which might give a chance to outnumbered or outpowered armies.
o In "Dungeon Command" mode, the Leadership of the commanders is not tallied. It does not have any use, as the composition of the army is pre-determined by the CoN battle itself.
o The winner of the battle adds the treasure collected during the DC battle to actual CoN treasury. Ex.: If the winner had collected 3 treasures during the battle, he would add 3 gold to his treasury.


Please do not hesitate to challenge, probe or comment on all of this.
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Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:02 pm
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My "Conquest of Nerath" variant

Simon Gingras
Canada
Sorel-Tracy
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Almost since the moment I heard of Conquest of Nerath, I've been thinking of ways to costumize the experience, and find ways to combine it with the Adventure System games so that when you explore a dungeon in CoN, you switch to AS mode. (Proof of this can be seen in this post http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/6415253#6415253, dating back to March of 2011.) The game in itself is fine, but I play everything solo so I naturally tend to find ways to keep myself interested by introducing variety.

Eventually, around February of this year, I even started to work out the details, and slowly I came up with some specific dungeon scenarios.

Then, a few months ago, Dungeon Command came out, and I started to see how the battle part of CoN could now also be enhanced.

It goes without saying that the more I thought about it, the faster it developed. And now, I can safely say that I have a prototype.

Last Friday I started my first "enhanced" game of CoN, which for now I'll call the "Conquest of Nerath Campaign Variant".

The specific rules are still undergoing some minor changes, but it's mostly details. It seems to work.

I will soon post part of a session report, and when I feel that my variant is stable, I'll then upload all the rules.



Related links:

- http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/768899/conquest-of-nerath-du...

- http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/841608/dungeon-command-conqu...

- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/880848/variant-custom-ca...
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Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:35 pm
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