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There is something incredibly satisfying about a thing "donking" another thing. A cricket ball sending stumps flying, a baseball bat launching a ball skyward, a stone ringing a metal post. It's no wonder that so many of our games / sports incorporate such an event. Heck, even a goal in football seems more visceral and satisfying if the ball hits the post and then goes in.
It's the immediate visual and audial feedback that does it I think. It is unmistakeable that "something" has occurred, and in the case of many pub / garden games such as Mölkky (strangely not listed in its full version in the database) it is the entire point of the game.
I'm grateful to Messers Bateson and Boydell for writing about and posting pictures of this game as it has led to me purchasing a set that I am sure will see plenty of action over the summer.
This game is a race to score exactly 50 points. You score the points on a pin if you knock it and only it over. Otherwise you score 1 point per pin toppled. Stand them up where they fell. Next player's turn. If you go over 50 you drop back to 25. Miss 3 times in a row and you are fouled out.
The game spreads pleasingly across the play area (anywhere suitably flattish - although the long grass caused us a few issues, as did our idiot Labrador wanting to "help") as the pins scatter around and careful throws become more rewarded.
Just get out and throw some sticks around. Preferably in the sun. With a beer. And a group of friends and / or family. And have fun.
As you can see (from a scoring app) I just pipped Charlie and Mrs B, with young Bill fouled out and sulking / distracting the dog (to be fair he'd just returned from a sleep-over where sleep was not really a part, more an all night video game session....)
Arriving home from day one I quickly took the games downstairs and started the process of figuring out what to bring for day two. I left Champions of Midgard and Trajan in the tub. The vikings gave a loud "Huzzah!" and Trajan just stared at me in stony silence.
I had lots of room but knew I had two games I was teaching for sure the next day; Shakespeare and Grand Austria Hotel. Both of the self-important snobs on the covers smiled slyly as they were lowered into the bin. Ok, I guess they were more sneer than smile.
I grabbed Abyss off the shelf on the off chance that I would have time to play it. It had a couple of things working against it though. One was the aforementioned games I was teaching and the other was the Math Trade exchange was that night. The plan was to complete the math trade and then go home and exalt in all of my new gaming loot. I didn't tell the creepy fish guy on the cover though. What he could do to me with those crab claws? I shudder to think...
Upon arrival I just hung out and took in all the sights that the convention had to offer. After an hour or so, I went ahead and setup Shakespeare and waited for the players to show up. They got there exactly on time and we had a great 4-player game. I met two really cool people, Erin and Bill, who were both from Iowa. They seemed to really enjoy the game and Bill won going away. While we were playing one of my friends, Jason, came over and asked if I could teach him the game at some point. I agreed that I could do it Saturday afternoon if he was up for it.
After lunch, I got in a quick game of Hansa with the guys from my local group. Man, I got destroyed in this game. Dead last by a ton. Let's just forget about this one.
Right after the Hansa debacle, I setup Grand Austria Hotel. I was a couple of players short but that was quickly resolved as people walked by and saw I was ready to go. Celina and Tim from my local group were there and Michelle (thanks for the reminder, Celina!) who was nice enough to sit down and ask to play. As luck would have it, the game gods were good to me and I managed to win by a decent margin. Mr. Smugly on the cover gave me a wink when I was putting the lid back on. Could he have had something to do with my good luck??
The math trade went great. I had 15 games to trade and everyone was on time and had their stuff prepped and ready. I got there about 10 minutes before 7:00PM and walked out at exactly 7:06PM. Almost every game I got was either in shrink, the bits were still in shrink, or it looked like it had never been played. I felt good because every game I traded was in equally great condition.
I walked out of the convention and practically ran to my car with all of my new stuff. Oh, what did I get?
The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
Machi Koro + Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion
Rise to Power
Dawn of the Zeds (Second edition)
Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League
I know I pooh-poohed a few of the games on this list (cough Machi Koro, cough), but since my daughter and her friend play games now, I had a to get a few that they might enjoy.
Needless to say I sped home and jumped right into reading rules. I brought a couple to the convention over the weekend and managed to try them out. But that is a story for tomorrow.
Thanks for reading.
Situation: The players are searching for "plodders" in the desert. Plodders are giant beetles that can be used as beasts of burden. They will be finding a hive of the creatures. I have three players currently and I will be acting as DM for the minigame (to clarify, I will not be taking part in this game as a player, I will be providing clues).
Thus I wanted themes of survival, journey, and searching, and angle to make it an optimal game for three players. I also wanted it to be cooperative.
Discussion: Now I know that I could have adapted a version of Forbidden Desert for this, but all of my players have played Forbidden Desert previously, and the game itself takes too long - I wanted this to be a summary of their journey through the desert to find the plodders, not a half hour epic that eats into my session time.
The survival aspect I decided would be down to resource management, the searching aspect would be dealt with by offering directional clues, and forcing the players to excavate to find the plodders, and the journey aspect I decided to represent by event cards.
The minigame itself is similar to several other board games I have played and I haven't had much time to look into the mathematics of balancing things, but by and large it seems to be running ok in practice.
The game is made up of rounds - each round is considered to be one in-game day. Rounds will continue until the objective is reached, which in this case is the excavation of the plodder hive.
There are three parts to each day. Once each day is over, the team gets a clue about where the plodders may be found. This is flavored as the party pooling their knowledge and discussing the things they discovered over the course of the day.
The game is played on a 30x30 grid, with a marker to indicate the location of the party, and tokens to indicate resources. The location of the plodders is random, but it is set at the start of the game before anything else is done. To choose the starting location roll two d20s and use a central 20x20 section of the grid to place the plodder location. The players do not know where this location is, and they are not aware that the outer ring of squares is empty. The players may choose a tile on the edge of the grid to start on.
Order of Play:
Part One: Forage
Players are given 30 seconds to grab item tokens from a dish - this is flavored as their characters 'sifting through the sands to forage for resources'. They can pick up tokens one at a time and either keep the token or throw it back into the dish. They have an inventory with 4 open slots, and once those slots are filled they must stop. Keeping a token fills inventory slots. Players may keep unused tokens from the previous round of play, or they may place them back into the dish during this phase. Scorpion tokens may not be placed back into the dish this way.
The tokens in the dish are:
Sand Tokens - these are useless.
Water Tokens - used to perform actions. Each player will require one water token at the end of each round.
Treasure Tokens - Each treasure token is redeemable for one treasure card at the end of the Foraging phase.
Firewood Tokens - These are heavy and take up two inventory slots. The party as a whole requires at least one firewood token at the end of each round.
Scorpion Tokens - Once drawn from the dish, these must be kept. They take up one inventory slot as per usual, but they may not be traded, or removed unless by a card that specifically deals with the Scorpion Token. The flavor is that the character has been bitten by a scorpion while foraging and they are sick from the poison, thus making them weaker and able to carry fewer resources.
Once all inventory slots are filled, or when the time runs out, everyone moves to the next part.
Part Two: Searching
In this phase, each player takes a turn to pick up an event card and then allocate their resources.
The event card picked up at the start of their turn costs nothing to pick up, although the effect on the card may cause the player to lose or gain resources. After the event card is resolved, the player may allocate resources.
Water tokens may be allocated to move the party one square forward, to take another event card, to initiate a trade with another player, or to excavate a square.
Trades cost one water to initiate but after that is paid the two players who are trading may trade any number of items.
When an event card is picked up, its effects must be resolved before any other actions may be taken unless the card specifically states that you may take another action while resolving the event (such as trading). If you want to take, or are forced to take an item from an event card, and you have a full inventory - you must discard items in your inventory until you have room to fit the new items. If you cannot discard any items and do not have room for the new item, then you can't take it. If an event card specifically says 'you may take this item if you have room' then you may not discard items in your inventory to make space. Discarded items are placed back in the item dish.
Excavation of a square is to check it to see if the hive of plodders is on that square. It only takes one water to excavate and the player is immediately told if they are successful or not. As soon as the plodder location is excavated, the game is over and the players have won.
After all of the players have taken their turn, and have decided which (if any) resources to spend, they move on to the next part of the round.
Part Three: Survival
In this part, we check to make sure that each player has at least one water and that the party as a whole has one firewood token. We then give them a clue regarding the location of the plodders.
To begin the phase, each player discards one water into the token dish. Anyone who cannot do so becomes 'dehydrated'. A dehydrated player may not take part in Part Two of the next round as their character is considered too sickly to continue searching, and must spend most of the next day recuperating.
After this, one firewood token must be discarded into the resource dish. If no firewood token is available, then the party spends a 'restless night' in the desert as they are too cold to get proper sleep. After a 'restless night' each person has their inventory reduced by one slot.
After the water and firewood is sorted out, the party must decide whether they want a directional clue for the whereabout of the plodders, or a distance clue.
Each of the players has their own character and I have a unique skill for each character that is based on their personality or their in-game specialisations. Hence if you are playing with other players, assign each one of these powers:
The Hulk - Firewood only takes up one inventory slot
The Mage - Once per day, reduce the cost of an action or event by one water token
The Treasure Hunter - Has one extra inventory slot for treasure only
Distance - Use increments of 5. Tell the players that they are within a certain range. An example of this is: "You are within 15 squares of the plodders"
Direction - The grid is marked with the cardinal directions and the primary interCardinal directions. Choose one of these that is the most relevant, and indicate in which direction the players need to travel in order to reach the plodders.
Event and Treasure Cards
Please generate your own grid and mark it with N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW. Add in landmarks if you wish or shade in some of the cells to indicate large rocks that must be navigated around. If the plodder location falls on any of these squares, choose an empty adjacent square instead.
I've got a new review coming by the end of the week but, in the meantime, I'm mulling over the games I want to learn and play next month. I'm aiming to play (and review) at least three of my unplayed games.
Last time I asked ya'll for help, you ended up introducing me to the incredible Shadowrun Crossfire, so I'm pretty sure I'd be crazy not to ask for your guidance once again!
I'd like to pick one light, one medium, and one heavy game. Let me know what you think
June's Mission: Everything Weighs the Same in Space
I'm going to try out one light, one medium, and one heavy unplayed game from my collection this month and I would love your help to decide which ones they should be:
So, the story is that I manage to get two games with wood cubes, on small side, and decided to put them in the same container, in my car. Well, I ended up having one of the cubes flipped out and got lost under the seat. I then needed to get replacement part. I couldn't find cubes. So, I decided to look for square beads that would fit. In my search for the replacement beads, I found square beads in the forum of dice:
I am now also having the idea for a game where dice are used as good for trading.
I think these beads are really cool actually, I am seeing a number of uses for them.
I was given a tormenting challenge by someone (I would name them, if they want to be known) to do a one player version of the game Werewolf. It was thrown out there and my mind latched onto it. Well, I think i know how to do it. And now, I will press on with it. Will see how it goes.
The Big Book of Madness is a game by Maxime Rambourg, published by IELLO. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of student magicians, a la Harry Potter, who have unwittingly opened an ancient tome full of dangerous creatures. They will have to work together to vanquish the creatures and seal the book one page at a time before it drives them all completely mad. Failure is not an option. If the players are able to do this, they will be declared the winners.
To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. A number of madness cards are placed on the appropriate space on the board. This number is based on the number of players. The curse cards are separated by element type and then shuffled. Each deck is then placed face down in a separate stack beside the board. The value 2 and value 3 element cards are placed in stacks separated by number and element. These stacks are placed face up beside the board. Each player takes one of each of the four basic spells; Combustion, Ice, Growth and Telepathy. These spells are placed face up in front of each player. Each player chooses one of the Magicians and places the mat in front of them showing the gender of their choosing. Players then receive a number of Element card based on what is shown on their player mat. Any remaining value 1 Element cards are returned to the box, not to be used. Each player then shuffles their starting Element cards, placing their deck face down in front of them. The book, or Grimoire, is set up by placing the Final Page card on the right space of the book's spot on the board with the Bonus/Failure side face up. The inside pages are shuffled together and 5 pages are randomly selected. The pages are then placed on top of the Final Page with their Bonus/Failure side face up. A Cover Page is randomly drawn and placed face down on the other page cards with the cover side face up. The library spells are sorted faced down by Element. A random spell is selected for each of the 3 Element values. These cards are used to form face down decks for each of the 4 elements by placing the value 3 card on the bottom and the value 1 on top for each stack. These decks are placed by the board. The top value 1 card is then flipped over face up. The Round marker is placed on the Round track of the board based on the player's chosen difficulty. The Invocation marker is placed on the Invocation space of the Invocation track. The Element tokens are placed near the board within reach of all players. The first player is randomly chosen. They are given the Active Player token. Each player now draws the top 6 cards of their deck to form their starting hand. Play now begins.
The game is played over 6 rounds. During those rounds, each player will take a turn in clockwise order starting with the player that has the Active Player marker. Each player's turn is made up of 4 phases; Concentration Phase, Monster Phase, Action Phase and Recuperation Phase. The first phase is the Concentration Phase. In this phase the player simply refreshes any exhausted spells in front of them. An exhausted spell is one that's been previously used and turned on it's side. To refresh it, the player simply turns the card back right side up.
The second phase is the Monster Phase. This phase has 2 steps to it; advance the Invocation marker and apply the effects of the new space. The first part is to advance the Invocation marker. To do this the player simply moves the marker 1 space counterclockwise on the Invocation track. If the marker lands on one of the spaces numbered 2-5, the player checks to see if there are any curses on the space. The number 3 space has 2 places for curses. If there are no curses, nothing happens. However, if there is a curse on the space(s), then the player must apply the curses effect starting with the active player. If the marker lands on the Invocation space, the player checks to see if there are any curses remaining on the board. If there are still curses, the players suffer the failure effect described on the right hand page of the Grimoire. Once this effect has been applied, the remaining curses are discarded to the bottom of it's respective card stack. If however, there are no more curses remaining on the board, the players have beaten that particular monster and they receive the bonus effect described on the right hand page of the Grimoire. Once the failure or bonus effect has been dealt with, the Invocation marker is moved to the number 1 space. The Grimoire is turned to the next page to start a new monster. The new monster's arrival effect as described on the bottom of it's page is applied. The Round marker is then moved down 1 box on the Round track. The corresponding amount of Multi-Element curse cards are placed on the curse spaces of the Invocation track beginning with the number 2 space. Three curse cards that correspond with the Element symbols on the monster page of the Grimoire are drawn and placed one per space following the Multi-Elemental curses moving from the number 2 down to the number 5 space.
The third phase is the Action Phase. In this phase the player uses their Element and spell cards to try and beat the current monster. The player has 5 actions that they are allowed to take as often as they would like and in any order they like, as long as they have the Element cards to pay for them. The costs are paid by discarding Element cards that match the required elements from the player's hand, support pool or both. The 5 actions are activate a spell, learn a new spell, acquire an Element card, destroy a curse and cure one of you Madness cards. The first action is to activate a spell. To do this the player pays the activation cost of the spell card by discarding the correct type and amount of Element cards. The player then applies the effect of the spell and exhausts it by turning it sideways. The player is allowed to overpay the activation cost by up to 3 times the normal cost to augment the spell's variable effect. Double the cost provides 2 times the variable, while tripling the cost multiplies the variable by 3.
Another action a player can take is to learn a new spell. The player is allowed to learn a spell that is face up on top of one of the four decks. To learn a spell, the player pays 2 Elements of the same type as the spell. The Spell is then placed in front of the player with their other spells. The next spell in the stack is then flipped over. Each player is limited to only 5 spells. If they learn a sixth spell, they must remove one of their other spells before being allowed to place the new spell. The destroyed spell is removed from the game. Some spells allow a player to place a card in the Support pool. To do this, the player places a card from their hand face up on one of their support slots on their player mat. Each player may have up to 3 cards in the Support pool. These cards are usable by other players to pay an action's cost, as well as by the owner.
The player may also acquire an Element card. To do this, the player spends Elements of the same type as the Element card that they wish to acquire. The cost depends on the value. Value 2 cards cost 2 Elements, while Value 3 cards, cost 3. After purchase, the Element card is place in the player's discard pile.
Another action a player can take is to destroy a Curse. This is done by paying the 4 Elements that are shown on the top of the Curse card. Once the Curse is destroyed, the player receives a Value 2 Element card of their choice, which is then placed in their discard pile.
The final action that is available for a player to take is to cure one of their Madness cards. To do this, the player simply pays any 2 Elements of the same type to return a Madness card from either their hand or support pool to the Madness stack.
This takes us to the fourth and final phase, the Recuperation Phase. In this phase, players do a bit of house keeping. First they check to see if they have exactly 6 cards in their hand. If they have more, they must discard Element cards of their choice to their discard pile. Madness cards may not be discarded. If they have less than 6 cards, the player draws enough cards to fill their hand back up to 6. If the player has to draw cards and there are no more cards to draw, the player is forced to add a Madness card to their discard pile and then shuffle it to form a new deck. Once this is finished, the player checks to see if they have 6 Madness cards in their hand. If they do, they are eliminated from the game and must return all their cards and spells to the box. Once this has been checked, the Active Player token is passed to the next player in turn order, ending their turn.
The game continues with each player going through the different phases and taking turns until one of the following events occur. If the players turn all the pages of the Grimoire and beat the last Monster, the players win. If a player is forced to take a Madness card and the Madness stack is empty, the players lose. They will also lose if they fail to beat the last Monster on the last page of the Grimoire or if all the players have been eliminated due to Madness.
This game has some really beautiful pieces. To begin with, the board is really nice. It's a bit smaller than most game boards but the artwork really captivates you and puts you in the mood that the game's theme is centered around. There are some Element tokens and the Active Player token that are made of thick cardboard. The Element tokens look like something from the game, Seasons. The Active Player token shows the image from the box cover. The game also has a Invocation marker and a Round marker that are simply gorgeous. The Invocation marker is a wooden book and the Round marker is a witch's hat. Both of them capture the theme and add a bit of pleasure just looking at the pieces. There are 8 Magicians that a player is able to choose from, 2 for each of the four Elements, one female and one male. The females aren't just carbon copies of their male counterparts either. Each one has their own unique look and feel, as well as special ability. I'm overwhelmed with just how beautiful these look. You really feel like you've stepped into a Harry Potter book once you get these to the table. There are also lots of cards. The game comes with Curse cards, Madness cards and Spell cards. The Spell cards are quite unique. Instead of being the normal card size and shape, these are completely square. The really cool part is that exhausting these cards requires the player to turn them 90 degrees. Normally this would either require you to pick the card up and set it back down at the proper angle or you'd end up hitting another of your cards while turning it. This doesn't really happen with this square design. A really unique and well thought out design if you ask me. The rest of the cards, look really great too. The artwork is amazing and each card really pops with bright colors and pictures. The Grimoire cards are a good bit larger. These contain the monster pages that the players fight during the game. This is another really unique looking design. The artwork on these is great. The monsters appear to be bursting from the pages of the book. The covers of the book look like some well worn tome of ancient knowledge that you'd expect some wise old mage to have squirreled away in the darkest recess of his library. The designer even went as far as to include an insert that actually works with the game. How cool is that? As I said before, this game is beautiful. You simply can't argue with perfection, and this game has it in spades.
10 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is beautiful as well. There are lots of really great pictures and examples, all throughout the book. There's a great introduction to the game and the world that the designer has created at the beginning of the book. This little detail just adds more flavor and thematic elements to the game. Everything is explained in really great detail, including a huge full page picture of how the game should look set up. Every little nuance of the game is lovingly addressed and featured from the Grimoire pages to the player's Magician mats. Everything is laid out in such a way that there is nothing difficult to understand or read. The rules also include rules for 3 different play modes from Normal to Nightmare. There is also an index of the various terms that a player might encounter during the course of the game, as well as their effects. Yet another great little added detail to help the players full understand the game. The book isn't that thick so reading through it doesn't take that long. Much like the components, the book is beautiful and full of information and pictures. I love it.
10 out of 10
What can I say about this game? Well I could say that it's absolutely one of the best cooperative games that I've ever played. The game is very thematic. It pulls you deeply into the rich stylized Harry Potter like theme and doesn't let go. It's quite challenging. Each monster has it's own unique style so that no two will feel exactly alike. The many different elements lead to lots of options and choices to make. The characters all feel unique even between the 2 genders of the same element. Most games simply copy the same formula for success on both the female and male characters but this game makes each character special and unique. The curses provide lots of challenges and variety as well. There are many different options which lead to tons or replayability. The game is really easy to play and is one that even younger players can enjoy. There's nothing too gruesome or monstrous to give younger players nightmares. It's very easy to teach as well. The game doesn't overstay it's welcome with most game sessions lasting around an hour to an hour and a half. The game is very tense and you will find yourself worrying about your next move as you try to beat each monster in the book. Once you've gotten the hang of playing normally you can even up your game by making it even harder with one of the variant play modes. The game works great with any number of players. Of course the more people that you have playing the more ideas and options you'll have available for making those hard choices. I really love this game and can't find anything negative about it. This would definitely be my pick for game of the year.
10 out of 10
The Big Book of Madness is a thematic thrill ride of fun. It's a fairly simple game to play but can be quite challenging and tense. It doesn't take a really long time to play. Most game sessions last around an hour to an hour and a half. The artwork is beautiful on every part of the game and compliment the theme greatly. The theme itself is very rich and full of Harry Potter like goodness. I absolutely love everything about this one. It truly looks and feels amazing. The game has tons of replayability and works well with strategy gamers. The game's design is truly unique in lots of different facets including the different characters as well as the Grimoire. This is unlike any other game I've played before and is highly enjoyable. Fans of cooperative and thematic games like Pandemic or Ghostbusters should really enjoy this game. I would highly recommend it. It's one that can be played with even younger players without too much support or problems. My kids really enjoyed it as well as I did. I can't praise this game much higher than that. It's definitely my choice for game of the year. This is an absolute must buy for every gamer. It should be in every collection. You will not be disappointed.
10 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out IELLO Games at their site.
Jamey discusses the very clever catch-up mechanism in Isle of Skye.
Mantic prepares retail kits to showcase Deadzone, Catalyst Game Labs has announced a slate of releases for Shadowrun, Mutant Chronicles gets Dark Legion source book from Modiphius, and more than 350 thousand Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis) games have been sold on Steam in a month.
Stinker is a doofy game I invented. It exists as a physical game, published by Foxmind, but today we're playing the social media version. It takes 1-2 minutes to play.
I give you a prompt and a bunch of letters (including two wilds), and you try to form the funniest/most interesting answer from the letters given, through the app at the link below.
There are no rules about how you use your letters, and spelling and grammar don't matter as much as cleverness and humor.
Last week's Challenge was "The meaning of life". The winning answer was TO FART A GOOD, RIPE TUNE by Benjamin Goldman. Disgusting.
Click here to play, and then reply to this post with your answers.
When you go to the link, you'll see this:
I'll be the judge, I'll pick the winner in 24 hours (if there are entries).
Want to be an app playtester?
If you play here you've seen one screen of the Stinker app. Now we're inviting players to test the full app. If you have an iOS device and you'd like to be a playtester, PM me with your full name and email address. Also, tell me how much time you spend playing mobile games daily. We'll contact you later in May.
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