Oceanos is a game by Antoine Bauza, published by IELLO. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of Expedition Captain as they dive deep into the depths of the ocean aboard their trusty submarine. They will be trying to collect sunken treasure and new species of underwater creatures, as well as finding large chains of coral reef. Of course they'll have to watch out for the deadly Kraken which could scuttle their mission. Players will also need to upgrade their submarine if they plan to make the most of their undersea adventure. In the end, the player that can explore the best beneath the waves will be declared the winner.
To begin, each player chooses a color and is given all the matching submarine pieces, as well as the scuba diver and fuel tokens. Players should then put their submarine together with all of the single pink bubble pieces. The remaining pieces of their submarine is set aside for now. Players should then place a scuba diver and fuel token on their submarine it their respective places. The remaining tokens are set aside with their extra sub pieces. The Kraken tokens are separated by size and then shuffled. One of each size is then randomly drawn and placed in the center of the table with the smallest on top and the largest on the bottom. The remaining tokens are returned to the box. The Exploration cards are separated by round number. Each deck is then shuffled and placed face down in the center of the play area. The treasure tokens are placed inside the bag. The first player or Expedition Captain is chosen and play now begins.
The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round consists of 5 turns. Each turn follows 5 phases. First off the Expedition Captain deals out the Exploration cards. To do this, he/she will take the cards for the current round and deal them out to each player except himself/herself. Players will receive an Exploration card for each periscope on their submarine plus 1 card. Secondly, the player chooses an Exploration card from their hand. The player places the chosen card face down in front of themself. The remaining Exploration cards are given to the Expedition Captain. In the next phase, the players reveal their Exploration cards simultaneously placing them in front of themselves. Cards are placed from left to right and can not be changed during the game. It should be noted that each round begins a new row of cards. The first round cards go on the top with the 2nd round beneath it and the 3rd round on the bottom. For the next phase, the Expedition Captain now chooses an Exploration card from the ones that the other players gave him/her. If by some chance they didn't receive enough cards to complete their hand, based on the number of periscopes on their submarine they will draw cards from the deck to complete their hand. The Captain then places their chosen card in the same way as mentioned above. Finally, the next player in turn order then becomes the Expedition Captain for the next turn.
During each turn a player has additional actions that they may perform. The player may use a fuel token to keep an additional card from their hand in front of themself face down during the 2nd phase. When the cards are revealed during the 3rd phase, the player places the fuel token on the extra card that was played. The player can also choose to play a scuba diver token. These can only be played on an Exploration card that has a treasure chest on it and it must be when it's played. These tokens will allow the player to collect treasure at the end of the game. I'll explain how that works in just a bit. The player may also choose to upgrade their submarine. This may be done when a player plays an Exploration card that has a base on it, as long as there is a card that was previously played in that row that has one or more crystals on it. This can also mean that the player gains new tokens based on what part the player chooses to upgrade. It should be noted that the level of upgrade that can be done is determined by the crystals that were played before the base. If there is only 1 color, either green or yellow, a level 1 piece can be upgraded to a level 2. If there are two different colored crystals, both a green and a yellow, then a level 2 piece can be upgraded to a level 3. If a player has no level 2 pieces, a level 1 can be upgraded to level 2 instead. Each base only allows 1 upgrade, regardless of how many crystals were played before the base. Also, crystals not used during an upgrade are lost and can not be used for the next base.
There are 5 different pieces that can be upgraded the propeller, motor, cockpit, aquarium and airlock. The propeller gives 2 victory points at 2nd level and 5 points at 3rd. The motor provides a fuel token per round for 1st level, 2 fuel tokens for 2nd level and 3 tokens for 3rd. The cockpit has a periscope for each level. This provides more Exploration card to be dealt during the first step of each turn. The aquarium can hold different animals. It holds 3 for 1st level, 5 for 2nd and 8 for 3rd level. The airlock holds scuba diver tokens. It holds 1 for 1st level, 2 for 2nd and 3 for 3rd.
At the end of each round, 3 steps are followed. First players place their player aid at the end of that round's row of Exploration cards. If the player has any unused crystals, the base on the player aid allows them to perform an upgrade. Next players count the victory points won during the round based on animals collected and propeller of their submarine. The player with most Kraken eyes is forced to take the top Kraken token which will subtract points from their victory point total. Finally, when scoring is completed, players take back all their used fuel tokens and place them back onto their submarine. Scuba divers remain in play until the end of the game. A new round then begins.
The game continues until the end of the third round. Once the end of round steps have been completed, as noted above, final scoring occurs. Players now score points for their biggest coral reef, gaining a number of points for their biggest run of Exploration cards that have coral reef on them. The cards must be vertically and horizontally aligned together to count. Players also score points for treasures collected by their scuba divers. Beginning with the Expedition Captain and in turn order, players will draw a treasure token from the bag for each chest collected by their scuba diver. Scuba divers move from the card they were placed on towards the surface. For every card that has a treasure chest on it, the player will draw a token from the bag. These points are added to the players total. Players add up all their points and the player with the most victory points is the winner.
COMPONENTS This game has a lot of really gorgeous looking pieces. First off there are submarines that have 3 levels of pieces. These are thick cardboard and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The artwork is really great and has lots of cool looking characters. The fuel tokens, kraken tokens, scuba diver tokens and treasure tokens are all thick cardboard as well. These fit well with the subs and look nice as well. I especially like the kraken tokens. The player aids are also cardboard and there are enough for each player. The game also comes with cards for each of the 3 rounds of play. The artwork is light and fun on each. The backgrounds on them change as each round is played. The 1st round cards show a close to the surface background, while the 3rd round ones show the ocean floor. I really love this attention to detail and how it was incorporated into the cards. The game also comes with a nice blue bag to put the treasure tokens into, as well as a scorebook to keep up with each player's points. About the only thing missing for this game is a functioning insert. I usually am impressed with the inserts for IELLO's games, however this one didn't come with one. I'm assuming because there were so many sheets of cardboard that had to be punched out, an insert wouldn't have fit properly. In any case, I still wish that this had of been addressed in some way. Still, everything fits inside the box. It just tends to rattle around a bit instead of laying still. Overall though, I'm happy with the contents and like what all is included with the game. 9 out of 10
RULEBOOK The rulebook for this game looks great. The artwork is beautiful and there is plenty of it throughout the book. There's plenty of great pictures and examples on every page. Everything is laid out really well with nothing too difficult to read or understand. Also included in the rules are a couple of variants, one for playing with only 2 players and one called the Troubled Waters variant. This last one is for more experienced players and for mainly 5 players. These are nice additions and add a little bit of something else to the game. On the back of the book is a nice reference for the different symbols that you'll discover on the cards. Everything is explained really well so that there's no problems. Overall the book looks great and covers every step of the rules superbly. I'm very happy with the rules for this one. 9 out of 10
GAMEPLAY First off let me say that I'm a big fan of Antoine Bauza. I've not played a single game of his that wasn't an absolute joy to play. This one is no exception. It is a really beautiful game that's a lot of fun as well. I really love the underwater theme as well as the ability to upgrade and customize my submarine. The card drafting mechanic is implemented in a slightly new way. I found it interesting that the player that deals out the cards ends up with whatever is left over from the other player's hands. I also really like that each sub can suit your play style and you can upgrade the things that you want to upgrade so that you get the most out of your specific sub. The game is really simple and easy. It's one that my daughter and I really enjoyed. She really loves all the different animals that you can collect as well as the different submarine captains. This is a game that she had very little difficulty understanding and she loved laying out each of the different cards to explore her underwater world. Of course she kept asking me where the mermaids were. No mermaids in this one unfortunately. Still, she loved the artwork and the ease of play. I too enjoyed the simplicity of the game as well as the varied ways to score points. This is a really great introductory card drafting game that looks really great and is sure to gain the attention of non gamers as well as regular gamers. Fans of games like Sushi Go or Sea of Clouds should really enjoy this one. I highly recommend this one. It's a lot of fun. 9 out of 10
OVERALL Oceanos is a light weight card drafting game of oceanic exploration. The game doesn't take very long to play. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The artwork is really beautiful and fun. My daughter especially loved all the cute animals and laying out the different cards as she explored the underwater world. I really enjoy the card drafting mechanic as well as the ability to customize your sub to your own play style. I really enjoyed the game as did my daughter. Fans of card drafting games like Sushi Go and Sea of Clouds should really enjoy this one as well. This is a great introductory game into the card drafting mechanic. I highly recommend this one. It's a great game for younger players as well as older gamers as well. It's a lot of fun that the whole family can enjoy. I look forward to many more trips under the waves with this one. Jacques Cousteau move over for Antoine Bauza's Underwater World. 9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out IELLO Games at their site.
... Discuss recent plays of Terraforming Mars, Baseball Highlights 2045 (first mention!), Xenon Profiteer, Tiny Epic Galaxies and Haspelknecht (3:12);
... Discuss the latest gaming news including the app for Colt Express, new scratch-and-play games from Notre Games, plus they look at the Kickstarter game Steal This Game to support Ludicreation's theft at Essen Spiel 2016 (28:05);
... Review Gamelyn Games' Tiny Epic Western (39:14);
... Look back at their review of Between Two Cities in their Dukes' Double-Take (1:09:05); and
... Discus the use of poker mechanics in board games (1:58:15).
Andy attempts to commune with the spirits in his review of Mysterium and we're not referring to how he talks to his whisky collection when he thinks no-one is looking.
As some of you may know, I’m a scientist. If I’m honest, more like Peter Venkman than Stephen Hawking, but a scientist nonetheless. Whilst knowing things about the universe is pretty groovy, with this great responsibility comes the inevitable burden of encountering people who are, even being generous, morons. Not because they’re horrible or mean, but because they believe in fairy stories, magic, homeopathy being an effective remedy for their trench foot and the existence of ghosts. Admittedly, if ghosts did exist, that would be pretty cool, but as it stands, a few dodgy photos of a fuzzy figure in bad lighting and various testimonies of swamp-dwelling hicks claiming they saw something scary in a conveniently spooky place is hardly compelling evidence...
Don't tell my wife...yet more games have recently come into my collection. Some she knows about- I mean obviously you're going to come back from Essen with a few purchases right?- and some I'm hoping to slip under the radar. I assuage my conscience with empty platitudes that they're only small games, cheap and second hand so they hardly count. Anyways, here's what I've bought recently and some initial impressions for the games I've played so far.
Crisis I played this yesterday for the first time with 2 of my gaming friends and wife and we all had a great time. Easy mode was definitely too easy, so we'll move up to medium difficulty next time.
Orléans Again we played this yesterday and whether I was tired or just overwhelmed by the number of choices, I felt it was just ok. We're going to play 2p tomorrow, with a better idea of how the game works, and hopefully it will click.
Hip Hops Yet to play, but it's a game about beer. Sounds good to me!
Dead Drop I've only played this once before, 2p, and it was awful. It just didn't work. However, I saw enough in spite of this experience to buy my own copy and I can't wait to try with 3 or 4 players.
Mascarade We've clocked up 2 4p games of this so far and it was fine, but not brilliant. However, I think this will be a hit with bigger groups. Just the right blend of chaos and strategy.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong Tom Vasel described this as the "Mysterium-killer". Whether it is or not, Mysterium has one advantage: working with lower player counts. I haven't got this to the table yet but look forward to introducing this to the family at Christmas.
The Party Game I found this in a charity shop. 2 years of searching Bromsgrove's charity shops and this was my only find so far. Judging by the ratings, it's not stellar but we have recently been enjoying Yes, Minister so maybe it will strike a chord with us.
Small Star Empires I think people might be bored with me talking about this little gem soon enough. 4 plays so far and it's brill.
Innovation This is something I've had on my wishlist for a while now; I saw a cheap copy on market place and it's on its way. I look forward to playing this; I'm also hoping it'll help me with my current game design in progress.
Rent a Hero Originally called Seventh Hero, this has recently been reprinted as Rent a hero. I played this at DellCon and it was tremendous fun.
So there we are. Plenty to be getting along with...for now. What games have you bought recently?
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This week's podcast - Circus Flohcati, Pi Mal Pflaumen, and Pack O Games Set 2
Shelley and I get a chance to review our first Essen 2016 release - Fabled Fruit from Friedemann Friese and Stronghold Games - then we have three 'At The Fair' recordings with Shelley and me, Scott 'Aldie' Alden of BGG, and Mark Johnson of Boardgames To Go!
-Note- This is a repost from my blog "The Empty Headed Thinkspace" This is a better home.
There and Back Again In which we take one last look at the Exhibit Hall and then make the journey home.
Sunday saw us packed and ready to check out early. We had packed our things the previous night with the intent of checking out, storing our stuff and taking one last look at the Exhibit Hall. All of that went according to plan until we saw that they had screwed up the bill. When we attempted to fix that, they informed us that their computers were from the 1800's and would require a little extra time to correct. In compensation for our time, we were given cards to Starbucks and told to check with them in a little while. We stored our stuff and headed to the convention floor. We immediately lost Jason. Alex and I got in a quick round of Oversized Flick 'Em Up which we both enjoyed and one game of Epic Card Game, which is Magic Lite and not nearly as much fun. So 50/50 split to end the Con. Jason caught up with us with some new purchases and we all agreed, as it was quickly approaching noon, that it was time to mount up and hit the dusty trail. But first...free Starbucks.
Jason and Alex were both recipients of ONE FREE BEVERAGE. I, on the other hand, received $10. So I bought a drink and two Apple Fritters and was done. I shared the Apple Fritters and we made our way to the car.
Back on the road home, we reminisced about the adventures we had had and decided that the faster we got home, probably the better. This meant the tollway. I had forgotten how expensive the tollway was. $10 and some change lighter, we said goodbye to Illinois and proceeded to collect cows the rest of the way home.
Essentially if you want the cliff notes TL;DR version of my Gen Con 2016 experience, here it is:
- I had fun, I purchased a few things and am very happy with said purchases.
- I do not particularly like Plaid Hat Games. Maybe not on a whole, but definitely as it relates to their release policies.
- Two bad gaming experiences are just that, so long as the third one knocks it right out of the ballpark.
- 1 AM is when the lights go out inside of Marty.
And lastly, - Games come and go. (Next) Gen Con is forever (from now).
-Note- This is a repost from my blog "The Empty Headed Thinkspace" This is a better home.
Bring on Saturday! In which purchases are made and roleplaying redemption is found...
Saturday, the penultimate day of the convention, was upon us. Like the previous day, I was up and moving by 6:30 AM. Alex was passed out, having made it back to the room around 3 AM, after having had a successful night of gaming with strangers. I had fallen asleep mid-sentence, in conversation with Jason, around 1 AM or so.
Morning Three found me on Georgia St. with a fresh cup of black coffee from...well, by now they should be paying me for the endorsement...I took up a seat at the outdoor Cafe area that would soon hold host to dozens of food trucks. With cool morning air and a slight, refreshing breeze, I broke out my sketch book and doodled for a while whilst enjoying my morning brew.
But my thoughts were heavy.
The last day's adventures had proven less than satisfying. What could I hope to find today, that would alleviate the mental stain that was forming on this Gen Con?
Well, first, I would buy some stuff. I grabbed up a copy of Isle of Skye, the Kennerspiel de Jahres award winner for 2016. I got a promo piece with the purchase and a free bag. Then I headed over to the Haba booth and found a couple of games, Evening in the Stable and Here, Fishy, Fishy for my son. Also, bigger free bag with purchase. I contemplated the dexterity game Ice Cool, but the price was too high. Somewhere along the way, the hardcover rulebook for Mutant: Year Zero also found it's way into my possession. Alex and I had been trying to demo games with little luck, but Saturday brought us Blood Rage and J'Accuse. Blood Rage was clearly the better of those two. Alex was tempted to try Upper Deck's series of Legendary games, again, his first experience with them being very poor. But, again, unless you had signed up in advance, you were not given the option to play. Even with generic tickets. We quickly vacated they're oversized, worthless booth (and yes, I am editorializing. It was an enormous booth, probably very costly.)
As the afternoon approached, Alex went off to compete in some King of Tokyo and One Night Ultimate tournaments and Jason and I made our way to Goodman Games gaming area in the Hyatt to get in on a Round Robin tournament of our own. Dungeon Crawl Classics single elimination...only, this turned out to be a beta for a skirmish style game they are developing and Oh Hey, can we move you around in line for apparently no reason other than we have friends who would like to play before you...my one chance to use a generic ticket and I grabbed it back from the guy and went to look for something else to do. Luckily, said guy had just the thing. So now I forgive him.
Raptors in planes, you say? Count me in!
"We have another game, if you wanna join that one, instead. The GM is losing his voice, so he's playing at a bar in the lobby. But it's really cool!"
Yeah, great. Well, I only have an hour to kill before my real game for the day, so...what the hell. Jason and I are led over to a bar at which three gentlemen are already seated and a very hoarse GM is extolling the virtues of a future dystopia that sounds an awful lot like the Running Man.
Prepare to enter the X-Crawl.
I hop up on a barstool, introduce myself and tell the GM that I only have an hour or so to play before I have to head over to my next event. He's totally cool with it, promises to kill me off within the hour.
The premise is a simple one, as old as time. Corporations have taken over, humanity has fallen back into a blood thirsty ravening mass of consumerism and voyeurism. So, basically a modern setting. Great, big, televised arenas have been erected for the blood sport of X-Crawl, a neo-classical dungeon crawl setting with some modern advances. Our heroes, a team originating from some town (that totally eludes me at the moment) in New Hampshire (a decision based solely on it being one of the other player's hometown) we are a set of celebrity gladiators looking to cash in on a big corporate contract by making it through this particular urban dungeon. We were all asked to come up with wrestling names and actors who would portray our character in the big budget X-Crawl movie. Accompanied by X-Crawlers named things like "The Bruise", "The Tin Man", Johnny Kutz and "The Wacky Weasel", my character, described by his race as a Dwarf (which doubled as his class), would earn from me the moniker of "Sweetfists" Jackson as played by Tom Lister Jr. aka Zeus. But smaller, stockier. Like a musclebound boulder of pure rage. And hand axes.
We exit the stadium where introductions are held and make our way to the designated arena. The parking lot we have to cross contains a handful of new, shiny vehicles of various description, all wrapped in big red bows. Before we make it ten feet out of the stadium, a force wall shuts us all in and the announcer bellows that she is already bored and that the death should start happening immediately. From across the parking lot, a rampaging mammoth enters the improvised arena and proceeds to trample the first vehicle it comes across. Mounted on it's back is some kind of cannon and two neanderthals, one wielding a bow, the other casting spells. We immediately scatter, looking for cover and access to the vehicles. Well, most of us scatter. "Sweetfists" has a bit of a deathwish and while everyone is cowering behind cover, he charges, albeit slowly because of his stunted dwarven legs, towards the mammoth. That's when the raptors in the balsa wood prop planes descended on the arena, and all hell broke loose. It was at this point, and with some trepidation, that I had to go. As luck would have it, Alex showed up and took my place (and from what I hear, "Sweetfists" to victory over the mammoth...). Bowing out, I headed over to the game I was really there to play...Shadow of the Demon Lord.
Quick note, I would find out later that the GM for X-Crawl was indeed Brendan Lasalle himself, creator of said game and long time contributor to Goodman Games. Just a fun little fact. A Game too dark, even for me....
This was it. My big game for the rest of the con. It could redeem my experience or damn it further. I sat down at the table, the first of my group to arrive. The GM explained to me that the producer of the game dislikes Gen Con for some unknown reason and so had no representation at the Con, this being the sole game being played. I found this baffling and it worried me, as this was someone's homebrew adventure and depending on the GM, could or could not be worthwhile and sufficient for the four hours. By this point all of the others had arrived and we had ourselves a full table of five players.
And it was worth every second.
Though way too dark in parts even for my tastes.
The world is on the brink. Demonic forces threaten to spill over and corrupt and destroy humanity (and it's fellow insert fantasy racial trope here). The world is a dark, dark place and finding the light is the main focus for players. Enter our group of pregenerated heroes, The Inquisition. If there's heresy to be found, we'll root it out and smite it. And if there isn't...well, that's not actually possible, you're all sinners and must be dealt with as such. The system is reminiscent of Warhammer Fantasy and is quick and brutal. The initiative system does away with dice rolling and stat based modifiers. You either go Fast or Slow. If you go fast, you go first and if you go slow you go before bad guys that might go slow. The bonus is that you can do more if you go slow. I thought this concept was brilliant and it distilled the idea of initiative into one decision that everyone makes all at once and handles it intuitively and beautifully.
The game was immensely fun, with us hunting down witches and demon spawn and fighting a gladitorial battle against beast men in some darkened ruins in the middle of a forest at midnight while trying to save a little girl and her mother and I had a rifle and absolutely murdered the hell out of 20 some beastmen when I caused a wall to collapse and oh, there was an elf who wielded bone weaponry with the side effect of that if it killed you, your soul went straight to the Demon Lord awaiting you in Hell and...and...and...it was so much fun. All of the players were into the game, all played their parts, from the pious and self righteous High Inquisitor to the overeager Brother who liked to extract information from his victims..er...prisoners, to the thief paying off his last two weeks of his penance (of a six year sentence) by serving the Inquisition, to the reveal of the possessed fire spewing baby, to the peg legged and portly lady mayor. It was loads of fun and a very welcome sigh of relief for my RPG experience at the Con. At the end, we all said thank you and went our separate ways, having purged the world of sin.
That last night saw Jon, Alex, Jason and I break out my recently purchased Isle of Skye, which three of us enjoyed and one of us did not. We also blended some with Kittens in a Blender and decided whether or not the cat in the Box was alive or not or if there even was a cat in the box in the first place and just how many of any of those there were with Schrodinger's Cats.
Then we all called it a night. I went to sleep with a smile on my face. I went to sleep dreaming of the Inquisition.
-Note- This is a repost from my Blog "The Empty Headed Thinkspace" This is a better home. SEAFALL or BUST! In which we suffer setbacks, buy too much and get turned into a zombie...
I awoke at 6:30 AM and proceeded to get myself ready for the day ahead. By 9 AM I had coffee from Bee Coffee in hand, my camera around my neck and my messenger bag on my hip. Unnecessary weight. Jason had gotten up shortly after I had and struck out on his own in search of a lab coat so that he could lay down bad science or something to that effect on fellow con-goers. I checked in with both him and Alex as I settled into position on the second level of the ICC overlooking the main doors to the Exhibitor's Hall. I watched as the crowds grew and grew and grew. Eventually both of my travel mates appeared and we made our way down into the crowd. Jason and Alex tensed in preparation, planning to make haste to the Plaid Hat booth and SeaFall. I fingered my camera and snapped a couple of shots of the crowd, waiting patiently.
After much (necessary) nonsense about safety and "No Running", the doors opened and the masses stormed through the gates. I immediately lost both Alex and Jason and proceeded to very casually make my way in. I knew where they'd be, I had time.
As with previous Gen Con's, the Exhibitor Hall is overwhelming. That it had grown in size since the last time I had visited, meant that an extra few seconds were required to take in the scale and scope of the floor. I eventually spotted the banner for Plaid Hat and made my way there, arriving in time to hear the announcement that SeaFall had sold out. It had taken me less than five minutes to make my way to the booth. Sold out. Wow. For the day? NO...for the con. I searched the line for Alex and/or Jason. Neither of them were present.
After walking the floor for a little bit, I managed to find Alex in line at White Wizard's booth, waiting to turn in one of the coupons from the books that have replaced swag bags at Gen Con. He and I both enjoy the game Star Realms and this coupon offered us promo cards to add to our sets. Alex proceeded to buy some expansions for the base game as well as collect his promo cards. I would gather the promo cards on a later occasion. He told me of his ill-fated SeaFall run and how the game was already gone by the time he had gotten to the booth, some 30 seconds after entering the Hall. Ridiculous. I won't get on any more of a soapbox here than I need to or may have alluded to earlier, but let me restate...building hype or generating bad will...ridiculous.
The rest of Thursday saw me picking up a mini Five Tribes expansion, The Thieves of Naquala for our friend and fellow gamer Molly, the expansion for Shakespeare, simply called Shakespeare: Backstage and the hand/eye taxing drawing game Loony Quest, a game that I hope to play with my son in the next few years. Alex and I proceeded to try to find games to demo. We walked the various Halls looking for games that had room for people with Generic Tickets...alas, it seems that with games demos now being events outside the hall, Generic Tickets have fallen out of favor. Every time I tried to use one, I was told that I couldn't. I ended up refunding the entire bunch. Well, refunding isn't quite the term. I gained system credit for next year minus 5%... ...
Coming to the convention, I had prepared to spend some money at the Modiphius booth. My regular group is currently running through a campaign of Mutant: Year Zero. I had learned earlier in the week that Modiphius was planning to give 20% discount on purchases of a $100 or more. That was a little steeper than I would have liked, but the aforementioned coupon/swag bag offered a 20% for $50 at their booth alternative. That I could do. I scoped out the products at their booth, realized that I wanted one of everything and then set about making the hard decisions. The extra nice thing about their booth was that they had con pricing, meaning that all of their products were already discounted. Adding the coupon to that brought me closer to purchasing one of everything, but no, not really. I ended up grabbing the heavy duty GM Screen for Mutant: Year Zero as well as the Artifact, Mutation and Events cards pack. I pondered the actual Hardcover Edition of Mutant: Year Zero, but figured that the PDF would continue to suffice. I grabbed a copy of Symbaroum instead. Making that purchase, I was done buying things for the day. I played with the thought of being done purchasing stuff for the rest of the con, but put that thought aside as silly and defeatist.
Before leaving the convention floor, Alex and I did stumble upon the Z-Man Games booth and managed to get in a demo of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu. Yeah, I know, mashing up some of your stygian chocolate with some of my squamous peanut butter ... and a tentacle or two for good measure. Fortunately my prejudice could not have been more unfounded. This version of Pandemic felt more refined and was a refreshing new coat of paint on an aging game. The madness mechanic was nothing to write home about, but worked to enhance the theme beautifully.
We closed down the Hall and as Thursday finished up we made a run to the food trucks for dinner and then some more gaming. I joined in a game of Entropy and then finished up the evening with I Hate Zombies, a glorified (and glorious) game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with Zombies turning human players into Zombies. It was goofy fun that left my face hurting from smiling. Let's Role... In which we sail the 7th Seas, Unite the Clans of the Riddermark and wonder why we did either...
Friday was my day to game. I had signed up for two RPGs, both of which were four hours long. The first, 7th Sea 2nd Ed., started at 10am. I headed down to Bee Coffee again, got in the quick, I only want black coffee coffee line and was out the door in minutes, leaving all those frappe guzzlers in my dust! I arrived a little early and got my pick of characters. I ended up grabbing the Bosun, a Vesten (read Nordic) sailor who was big on rage and equally as consumed with regret. Reserved was one of her traits. The GM was experienced and knew her Theah. We played a crew of sailors in service to the ATB, 7th Seas version of the West India Trading Company. Not surprisingly we discovered they were up to nefarious doings and part of an incredibly illegal slave trade. We set about storming an island fortress/mine and freeing slaves, bringing some of the slavers to justice, striking our colors and becoming privateers. The game was full of pirates, sea monsters and daring do. And it totally fell apart for me in the final hour. The system, based on rolling sets of 10 (roll 5d10, add the results so that you end up with sets of 10, get multiple to earn raises and thereby achieving greater success), became too abstract when it broke down to combat. Sure, shipboard we cannonballed the hell out of a cannon emplacement, rained hell down on the deck of an opposing ship and beheaded two sea serpents, but nothing of the dice rolling or the set building translated to anything more than an abstract concept of accomplishing anything. On top of that my play was rusty and between my Bosun and the other player's First Mate and Captain tripping over who ordered who, my reserved character play seemed more removed than I would have liked. I had been excited to play this Second Edition, but coupling my less than enthusiastic view of the system with the books price point, I took a pass on pursuing the game any further. I'll take a look at it again in the future, but for now, I'm more than content with what I currently have on the table.
My second game of the day came later in the evening and went until midnight. It was The One Ring, an RPG set in Tolkien's Middle Earth some five years after the Battle of the Five Armies. I've played it once before and had fun with it, so I was definitely looking forward to getting to inhabit that world again. The GM for this game was much lower key. When asked if his table was one of the tables set aside for The One Ring, he would state that it was one of two or three and, in a shoulder shrugging way that encouraged no faith in me, players could choose to sit at his table to play if they so wanted to, but didn't have to... I stayed, mostly out of laziness, but also out of hope that his presentation would improve once game got going. It didn't. It wasn't bad. It was perfectly serviceable, but imagine John C. Reilly at his most hang-doggedly and you get an idea of the confidence and verve that was brought to this game. We did have a full table, ultimately, but of the five of us, three faded into the background, and only the player taking the Defacto Leader character and myself actually raised our voices above a careful whisper or showed any initiative in helping to move the story forward or interact with the NPCs in the game. For my part, I was simply trying to make up for my lack of roleplaying earlier in the day, during the second half of the 7th Seas game. The story was simple enough, revolving around the need to unite the fracturing Rohirrim Clans and hoping to do so by marrying off a pair of star struck Romeo and Juliet style lovers. It was handled with all the aplomb of someone who cares very little for the source material and is merely counting down the minutes until midnight...it was an on-the-rails type of adventure that left me still enjoying the system but desperately hoping to redeem the Con on Saturday, when I only had one game left...the one that I was looking forward to the most. That's a lot of faith and pressure to put on strangers.