s g(pangean)United States
I've been meaning to check out Gregg Jewell's Maverick since I discovered the WIP thread a while back. This game has changed a lot over development and it's interesting to see how the developer updated the art and mechanics as the game progressed. This is a dungeon-themed one or two-player 60-card puzzle game, but 40 of the cards are numbered action cards (8x 1-5) that can be sourced elsewhere. I used a Phase10 deck for the action deck.
You set out a dungeon of 13 monsters and move your monster hunter and companion cards along the line, slaying monsters by playing the action cards needed for a combination of attacks: melee, charge, ranged. There are a few other actions available, such as switching your companion or cycling action cards back into the deck, that cost 1 card to use. The monsters have a few variable powers. The artwork is great, but the cards print out very dark on my inkjet and the color on the icons is muted.
In the 1.0 rules scoring is based on the values of remaining action cards at the end of the game, but this game also has a gambling sort of mechanic where you can set aside action cards in the beginning as a form of down payment by the townsfolk, and these cards are worth double at the end.
This game works as a short puzzle game, and I had no trouble managing it on a smaller surface using rows instead of a continuous card line. I think the core idea lends itself to interesting possibilities, but the current implementation does feel a bit like a micro game trapped in a full deck's body.
Something that caught my attention almost immediately is that all the monster cards have a strength value, but the strength value is only relevant if the monster can be slain by a melee attack. As a result there are monster cards that have a extraneous strength value since they are slain by some combination of ranged/charge attacks. I considered what it might be like to have a full deck of multi-purpose cards that function as both monster and action cards. I don't think it would dillute the concept but I do think it would introduce a lot of scoring variability, for better or worse.
All that just to say, I enjoy the game! I recommend giving it a try if you like the theme or solo puzzle games that rely on number play.
What it says on the tin. My ramblings about PNP games I have built and style/design notes. Lately I have gotten into making personal rethemes and resdesigns with Nandeck.
21 Jul 2020
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28 Jun 2020
When I began learning the most sacred secrets and mysteries of the PNP craft I heard tales of a designer named Bojan PrakljacicMontenegro
The name "Bojan" is whispered with reverence in some corners of the PNP Guild. He is a highly prolific and creative designer who has so many ideas it seems he can hardly get them on paper fast enough. Thus, throughout the cavernous halls of BGG one finds Bojan games tucked here and there in various forms of polish and completion.
I have been awaiting the Button Shy release of Ragemore ever since I learned they were picking up the game. You can get the files at the Button Shy Board Game of the Month Club on Patreon or you can pick them up at PNP Arcade.
This is a linen 65/24 matte finish build. Button Shy specializes in microgames and the PNP files are always consistently formatted with generous gutters, making them a good choice for new PNPers and enjoyable builds in general. I am almost always up for building a Button Shy game, even if I'm not sure it will be a good fit for me gameplay-wise. I decided if I liked this game I would return to the hallowed art of tuckbox making, which I haven't done in a while.
WELLLLLL I liked the game! It's a hand-management puzzle and it took me a play or two to grok the rules, but now I've got it down. The player must manage various enemy cards, using heroes to explore and resolve quests without ever letting the graveyard or active questline get too large or the hero pile get too small. There is 1 win condition and 5 loss conditions. I've memorized the rules but a player aid would still be handy.
So, the tuckbox. I used to make really fancy ones with graphics on all sides but I've been looking to simplify that process. I ended up using andylei's Tuckbox Generator. I like it because I can add a cover image during the generation process without having to modify the .pdf. The result is a bit utilitarian compared to my older boxes but these can be built in about 5 minutes so I'll gladly take it.
I like this template because the guidelines are very small and hardly noticeable. I used to use templatemaker.nl but their template uses really thick blue and red lines, so I had to print double-sided sheets with the guides on the interior. With andylei's generator I can just do a single-sided print and the lines are barely noticeable. Use the edge of a pair of scissors to mark the creases and you'll get nice, crisp edges. I seal the seams with double-sided tape that is cut to size with an exacto knife. This box is made with 110lb index stock because that's what I have, but ideally you want to use 110lb cardstock. Anything heavier and you will get expect surface tearing on the creases.
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After seeing quite a few posts about this traditional deck solitaire game on SGOYT I finally got around to trying Dungeon Bounty by Aaron Camponi and Theo Peters.
I originally printed and laminated the official mats, but I had issues with the cards slipping and the mats shifting so I designed my own mini-mat. I like partial mats to keep cards and piles organized on the play surface because it's easier for me to pick up cards when they're mostly on the tabletop.
Printed on 110 index and backed with 100lb heavy coverstock (271gsm) and laminated. This has become my go-to method for roll and write boards and it works well here for mat that is firm and doesn't move around during play.
This is a really addictive solitaire game that is fast to play once you've got the rules down. A part of me wants a custom deck, but another part of me appreciates the opportunity to use some of my theme decks.
I have played this quite a bit over recent days, great for a quick-ish dungeon crawl and getting a top score at the highest difficulty level, bloodlust, should be a fun challenge. I can see myself returning to this one quite a bit. I'm always happy to try a traditional deck game, but so far the only other one that really grabbed me was the Bogey by Katharine Turner. They are completely different games but they both succeed at having that play-again traditional solitaire feel.
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After playing a few of my old, fancier builds I got the urge to go back to linen and matte cards for smaller games. Laminate builds are efficient and great for large games that would be very time-consuming to make otherwise, but there is something special about sitting down with a nice linen build. I decided to revisit the technique with Matthew Heiti's Epic of Gil and Ennis, an entry in the 2019 9-Card PNP Contest. The game originally came to my attention thanks to darkyeoman's Solo PnP Games I have played Geeklist.
Last week I couldn't find my beloved Mod Podge Clear Acylic Sealer Matte Spray and I tried what the craft store had in stock, Aleene's Acrylic Sealer. Fortunately, I tried it on a tuckbox and not card sheets. It was really cloudy and ruined the sheet, I was appalled and swore a pox on Aleene's entire product line. I have no idea how anyone can use that spray for anything. I finally got some Mod Podge spray and it was perfect as usual--silky smooth texture, dries in a few minutes, and the odor is quickly gone. I've tried a lot of finishes (trust me) and it is hands-down the best for cards.
I have not done one of these builds in a while so allow me to geek out for a minute.
I decided to go with Southworth white 65lb linen coverstock and 24lb linen paper. I've found this combination feels closest to a commercial playing card to me. The bad news is I'd forgotten one of the issues with this paper combination is the sheets have slightly different dimensions, so lining the fronts and backs up can be a bit of a pain. The good news is after a book-pressing and a few corner chomps I had some of the nicest-looking cards I've ever built. The artwork on this game is wonderful.
I recently bought a Kadomaru Pro corner punch, as it was the only domestic 3mm corner punch I have seen that is less than $40. It can't handle my usual laminate builds but it manages the 65/24 okay with two punches to each corner. I ended up doing the player aid with 65lb folded over. It's obviously a bit stiffer than the 65/24 and feels a little thick compared to a playing card, but it's totally doable and the Kadomaru can still punch it. I think I technically prefer the 65/24 but 65/65 is easier to work with on several levels.
ANYWAY, ANYWAY, enough of that. The game!
This is an interesting game of dice manipulation and friendship. The big draw is the artwork and story of two disillusioned young men who have run away from home and are camping in the wilderness, facing their own dreams until they reach the summit of Mt. Humbaba. I don't know that I'll play it often, as the dice puzzle of the mechanics is not as interesting to me as the theme and imagery. But it is well worth a print and is an interesting game if you have 14 dice (preferably mini dice) to play with.
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25 May 2020
Just some thoughts. I really like this game. I don't know why it hasn't gotten more attention, I guess I'll just talk about it until it does.
I've played all the characters now. The teacher is the hardest, as his benefit of extra food is not really useful until much later and his time penalty is ongoing and directly ties to a loss condition. I tend to think of him as the expert mode character. If he had an ongoing bonus to food it might level out his curve more.
The doctor has a great benefit, a chance to save a survivor, that is balanced with a harsh death penalty--she may be the most perfectly balanced character IMO.
I think the sergeant and the delivery guy have the best benefits and neither of their penalties are really that bad, so I prefer them right now because I want to win!
In a strictly mechanical sense, the gangster's penalty--which is murdering infected survivors--is not really a gameplay penalty since infected survivors represent an ongoing existential threat and only healthy survivors are factored into the win condition. This genuinely disturbs me as a player, but I think it can be appropriately balanced by saying each time the gangster murders someone an equal number of healthy people leave the group to fend for themselves.
The preacher's penalty is 2 infected to start, which is a pretty steep penalty long-term. She provides a bonus to new survivors. She's the foil to the gangster, and I think dropping her penalty to 1 survivor might be a better balance since I can't think of a way to slightly increase her benefit.
I've been toying around with the idea of a character with an ammo benefit and a character with a time benefit, but I'm not yet sure what the penalties would be.
I have yet to encounter any items. I don't want to read through the event deck, because I want to discover the events as I play, but I would really like to know what the encounter chance is for items. How many event cards out of the total?
I am keen to know because if you are playing a recruitable character variant where characters are the first infected it would be nice to have a chance, even a slim one, to cure them. As it is I assume no chance because items are so rare I have not even found one yet.
The game is (obviously) very enjoyable to me as it is, so I don't necessarily want to add a bunch of extra stuff. I'm thinking about adding 1 or 2 "draw an item" cards to the exploration deck, just to bring the existing items into play often enough to get a feel for how often they should appear and if they offer good variety.
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20 May 2020
I decided I wanted to play a one-or-two-sheet type game during the workday but I wanted something that was just dice and a pencil, no components, that I could easily stop/resume. I printed VeritasEtLuxus' Technicolor sheets for for Nick Hayes' Utopia Engine ages ago when I first got a color printer, but after I assembled the rulebook and put it in a page protector I never got around to trying it. It's a highly recommended solo game but the rulebook just seemed 'big' for what it was.
Well, I really enjoyed my playthrough. The rulebook was easy to work through and I picked up the game quickly. I thought I died somewhat early on to a ghost attack and felt a bit underwhelmed until I realized I was only unconscious and, despite a hefty time penalty, could still play. I ended up powering up all the constructs and was about halfway through linking them when the world ended. I was on borrowed time for sure. I kept getting really lucky rolls that allowed me to power up the godhand and kept the game exciting, but I was ready for the game to end when it did and didn't mind dying to an ancient alligator while looking for gum in the marshes.
This is a cool game! I'm not sure how often I'll play it, it's not the sort of game I can binge like I normally do, but I will definitely keep this one in the binder. It was nice to blow off a little steam by tossing around a few dice.
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17 May 2020
The first edition of this PNP was on my list for a while and when the developer, Mads L. Brynnum, mentioned a 2nd edition was now available with illustrations by Jeppe Lindrup Mygh I decided I wanted to play the game that very night. And I did.
I'm not sure why the game grabbed my interest so immediately. Dice isn't a preferred mechanic, as I'm highly superstitious and believe they conspire against me, and zombies are not a favorite. I think it was a combination of Jeppe's artwork and the fact the first edition has popped up on so many solo PNP rec lists.
Sometimes you're so eager to play a game it doesn't even make it off the workbench.
This is a medium build consisting of several large tiles and a half-deck of cards. I resized the tiles and mat so they would fit in a 4x6 box. The cards are formatted in a gutter style, which is great for builders who use a single weight layer around core (e.g. linen coverstock with a laminate core). It requires a little more work than my humble duplex laminate method, so I took a few minutes to extract the cards and assemble my own 9-card layouts. You can extract cards from a pdf relatively painlessly by opening the pdf as a layered image in Gimp, cropping to content, adding guidelines for the cuts and using the Guillotine Layer filter. In the end I had a build that fit neatly in my 4x6 Recollections photo case, as God intended.
I tried something different with the tokens: paper mounted on double layers of 210 lb. cardstock laminated. The tokens are small, so I wasn't able to round the corners, and they ended up being sharp and fiddly. After my first play I decided to create a mini-card deck to replace the exploration tokens. I have a minicard template in Nandeck and the developer kindly sent me larger token images. My second play, I realized the 6x4" player mat was folly and made an 8x6 which can be folded in half. This is the final result:
As I mentioned, dice and zombies are at the far ends of my interests but once I got into a groove I really enjoyed this game. I did not like it so much at first, there was a lot of tables consultation and things felt fiddly, but it got easier as I familiarized myself with the rules. I found using dry-erase for the survivor/inventory counts and about 6 cubes for the zombies helped.
I haven't played the first edition, but looking over the sheet I feel like the developer has made a lot of solid changes that increase replayability. This is at the expense of portability, so players may prefer the first edition in circumstances demanding something simpler and on-the-go. The second edition's modular boards and character cards mean each game will have a different map and mitigating options. The event and stress cards add flavor and just enough of a narrative to help distinguish individual plays.
If there was a way to recruit other characters, so you could use their special abilities (and alternately, choose which to lose when you have to sacrifice a survivor) could be interesting but that might be outside the scope of the game.
Finally, I'm not saying I would murder an actual human being for custom dice for this game but I would be willing to think about murdering someone for maybe five minutes and possibly sketch out some scenarios.
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13 May 2020
The developer, saranac, kindly offered me a copy of the redesign by ZmYchE. The redesign resolves a lot of the issues I discussed in my previous post, so I was eager to try it out. As you can see, the redesign and original builds look quite different.
The power cards are good and legible. The environmental values are a little harder to read but the color coding is distinct, so it's no big deal. Unfortunately the avatar cards are difficult to read, both the programming text and the values. I ended up making a dry-erase player aid so I can keep track of the security values as well as any buffs or bypasses.
This blog is new so you don't know this yet, but I am
incrediblyslightly weird about reducing components and streamlining game size. It's convenient to use cubes to track Nemesis and player health, but I didn't like using the reminder tokens, which are small and fiddly. Fortunately, the game is so well-designed I found I didn't need the reminders. I had no trouble keeping up with whatever effects were in play.
I like it! I've enjoyed my plays so far and look forward to more. The cards seemed a little daunting at first but the game has a solid turn order that is easy to learn. I tend to associate deckbuilding with purchasing cards. There is no 'store' here, you start with a 28-card deck (out of 56 total cards) and strategically recycle or retrieve cards to keep the deck going, as emptying the deck is a loss condition. The deck has already been built for you, but it will always be slightly different. This distinguishes it from the other solo deckbuilders I've tried and the game occupies a somewhat unique space in my collection as a result.
One of the reasons I decided to build this one was I really wanted an After the Virus cyber retheme. Then I remembered there was already a cyber-themed solo deckbuilder out there. These are two totally different games, of course, but PS:CSA scratched that thematic itch for me.
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08 May 2020
Aleksandar Saranac's Power Surge: Cyber Security Academy is a somewhat obscure game that ended up on my list after I saw recommendations from several 1PGers and comparisons to Aeon's End. My impression is this was a tight solo-coop card game that flew under the radar, mostly because of the utilitarian card design and the fact it's a larger PNP build that has some formatting oddities.
The game has cards, tokens, and mats, and many are formatted with the fronts and backs side-to-side, rather than on adjacent sheets. There are also some irregularly-shaped security tiles. The good news is there is a low-ink version, the bad news is both versions of the cards use lots of color blocks and the darker colors make the black text difficult to read.
The first change I made was reformatting the security tiles into a sheet of mini-cards.
The power cards are busy, as each has a title, a special action, flavor text, and then a series of boxes alluding to the card's power and environment types. The 8 power types (hardware, web, database, energy, networking, system, malware, application) are color coded, but some of the colors are similar to my eye (a tan and a gray). Assigning colored icons and using a broader range of colors would help, and of course the text needs to have white outlines so it stands out better. The power cards also have individual color-coding that corresponds to its highest power stat. For clarity, I think it might make more sense for the card to be color-coded based on the main power type, but that's a big change I'm hesitant to make as I've only played with the cards once so far and I gotta trust this design choice was made based on playtesting. For now, I think incorporating icons and making the text more legible will go a long way.
The avatar cards display a programming effect when turned sideways and have an immunity as well as security values. Originally the rectangular bypass tokens were used to mark security that had been bypassed, but if we used icons or color-coded circles we could switch to cubes. All avatars have 8 health, so you could maaaybe incorporate a bar here but I think it would be best to color-code the cards based on the immunity and focus on making the security and programming effects more legible.
The Nemesis mats have setup and tactics information on one side, and the other has a title, picture, a place to put a security tile, and flavor text. I think it would be more useful to move the flavor text to the backside and add a health track to the front, since as a soloist the Nemesis will always have the base HP, which is either 10 or 20.
I use currently Nandeck for my rethemes and moving all the power card data to a spreadsheet will take a little time so I am gonna sit on these ideas for the moment. I have to reprint the Avatar cards anyway, to make the programming text more legible, so I might make some other adjustments to those and see how it goes.
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