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...another world...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1794. November 29, 2021. Lagos...

I got a refund the other day. Finally. A booking for three - at the time, we were only three in the family - for a flight that never happened between Faro, Portugal and Bristol, UK. It wasn't much money, mind you, since we'd booked the flight with two of those really cheap airlines. But it was enough to cash in the refund on some board games as compensation. They should be arriving this week.

I guess you know that something's wrong with the world when three people can book a flight to a different country for the price of a regular board game.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

A journey to an alternate universe.

Anyway, this post isn't about mankind's slow crawling death spiral into a post-environmental apocalypse. It's about lost opportunities.

It was supposed to be our then 5-year-old daughter's first experience on an airplane and our first big trip as a family outside Portugal. We would have arrived in Bristol on a Sunday night after a three-hour flight. We would have spent the night in some hostel near the train station and, early Monday, take a train to Hereford. There we would find a way to get to Bacton village, where a kind family had already agreed to welcome us for the duration of our stay. A small cottage near their main house with views of Saint Faith's church tower.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Morning views.

My wife would start her weeklong visit to Steiner Academy Hereford the next day, while Alice and I would do what we do best: explore the area. Board games included, of course.

A few visits to Hereford would definitely have happened, and I'm positive that I would have found at least one board game shop for us to visit. Best of all, however, being this close to Hereford would mean I would get to attend the weekly game nights there.

And since it isn't every day we get to be in that part of the world, Alice and I would have taken a day to travel down South. All the way to Nick's stomping grounds to maybe grab a coffee with one of the finest musicians ever to own a BGG account. A chat about the tribulations of daily blogging was sure to happen, and with a bit of luck, maybe even a stealthy Race for The Galaxy session with him. That would be great.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Visiting UK while visiting daily bloggers.*

What was also great was that our return flight was scheduled for the following Saturday. This meant I would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to attend to arguably the most famous board game night ever to be covered on this site: the Friday night gatherings of The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers.

I would likely find Ben there and probably played a game with yet another daily blogger of our hobby, Tony. And if we'd played Agricola, I would have marked a checkbox in the old bucket list of board game dreams.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Legendary sights.

I'm sure my wife would have learned immensely during her short visit to the school. Alice would have flown and witnessed firsthand the joys of traveling to a different country. And I would get to meet fellow gamers and bloggers. Memorable.

All this would have been great if the flight hadn't been canceled in what turned out to be the worst timing ever to travel to another country.

I guess many people got their timing wrongs on the week of the 16th of March 2020.

* Sorry John, you are too far and I don't know where Caroline lives.


One year ago: ...the unplanned wine...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, bristol.gs, explorechurches.org, telegraph.co.uk, Jonathan Billinger
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Mon Dec 6, 2021 10:00 pm
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...dead acolytes and giggling oddities...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1793. November 28, 2021. Lagos...

Previously in Four Against Darkness: ...misty mines and stony starts...
Keftar turned the light away from the fleeing mushroom folk and towards Karg's dead body. "Poor boy," Keftar thought. The young acolyte hadn't endured that long inside the mine. "What did we expect?" The boy was used to tending to the Zuyres clerical needs and not fighting creatures in some dark mine!

"What do we do now?" Keftar asked his companions. "Do we continue or turn back to Warunor to rally someone else to join us?"

"Go back to the town?" Theras said at once. "But we just got here! I say we explore the mine before returning. At least a bit more. We've already found those finger puppets which clearly don't belong here. Maybe we can find something else connected to the mist."

"I agree. What happened to the boy was unfortunate, but we'll never make any progress if we flee at the first sign of trouble. We all knew this would happen. And it will happen again." Daeru said. It was easy for the large bouncer to be brave, under almost 7 feet of flesh. The man almost touched the ceiling with his head!

The three went back towards the entrance, through the armory where they'd found the strange finger puppets. The puppets were old, three already showed tears in the fabric, and one had an arm missing. But there was no mistaking what the puppets represented. A band of heroic figures.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

A light rest... before going back to the dark.

They were resting for a moment near the entrance before resuming the exploration of the mine when Keftar heard the sound of laughing children. At least it sounded like children, and it came from one of the unexplored corridors.

Theras and Daeru readied their swords while Keftar strapped the lantern to the belt to hold the spear with both hands. He was getting comfortable with the weapon, and he made a mental note to later ask Daeru if he could teach him how to wield it better.

The group moved towards the sound until they were stopped by a wooden door. It was unlocked, and Theras tried to open it as quietly as she could.

Later, Keftar would remember that it didn't sound like laughing children anymore after the door opened. For a moment, at least, since whoever was behind the door stopped laughing at the first creak from the old door. The companions also muted in astonishment once the lantern light showed them the weird spectacle in front of them.

A large box with small round windows on all sides was precariously lifted by eight goblins holding two horizontal poles. Spears strapped the goblins' backs, and some had daggers dangling from their belts. What they all had in common, though, were the three or four flasks filled with some thick viscous green substance tied to their overcoats.

Keftar wondered about the green goo in the flasks for a second before his mind snapped with the sight of a bulging eye staring at him from behind one of the round windows in the box. Two pupils orbited a white hole with green tendrils radiating towards an edge that seemed to cry blood. Green blood. And if that wasn't weird enough, Keftar's mind buckled even more when the box opened at the top, and three hands with seven fingers each reached out.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Best group of crazy goblins yet!

The mutant goblin climbed down from the box with a crooked smile. The other goblins drew their weapons and laughed. And Keftar and the rest looked at each other, each wishing they had decided to go back home after Karg's death.


They fought like the heroes they were not and somehow managed to kill every goblin in that cursed corridor. Keftar held the lantern while the rest held their ground, even against the mutant goblin.

From now on, whenever I meet goblins, I'll make sure to roll on the Knock #2 tables for "My Goblins Are...". What a treat to the imagination, even if you don't adapt them to the game's mechanisms as I end up doing. Not because it was hard - 4AD supports a group of minions led by a boss - but it was already late when the two groups faced inside the mine.

The group of level zero characters left the mine in a hurry after that fight. Theras and Daeru were down to a life point each. But it was fine. They'd found their first clue - finger puppets rolled on Xanathar's Lost Notes to Everything Else! Let's see how will I craft that piece of information on the game. But more importantly, with all the goblins dead, the companions of the mist completed their first side quest picked up at the Warunor's tavern.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Warunor.

Zuyres wasn't happy with the death of his acolyte apprentice, but he still presented them with a scroll of blessing as a reward for killing the goblins. Penniless, the companions asked for money instead of some indecipherable piece of magical paper.
Books used: Four Against Darkness; Four Against the Abyss (for the hirelings); The Lantern Issue #2, Xanathar's Lost Notes to Everything Else (for the clues), Knock! #2 (for the goblin encounter)

One year ago: ...dungeons of karak...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, wiki.guildwars2.com, neiloseman.com, Emmanuel Bouley
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Sun Dec 5, 2021 10:00 pm
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...hidden martian puzzles...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1792. November 27, 2021. Lagos...

Mysterious puzzles inspired by 2001:Space Odyssey. Well...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Matt, the electrician.

I don't know which part of Mars Power Industries was inspired by Kubrick's sci-fi classic of the '60s. Maybe it's the game's puzzle quality mirroring the puzzling nature and various interpretations in that movie?

There's no primordial ape society here. Unspoken and unwritten anywhere but the Steam's store page and inferred by the illustration on the menu screen, mankind is firmly set in the interplanetary exploration phase in this game.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The puzzle of martian energy.

A few habitation modules in clear need of power, scattered on a Dune-like pixel landscape. Here, we take the role not of a botanist like Matt Damon in the Martian but of a nameless electrician tasked to provide power to the modules in five or fewer actions per puzzle.

Mars Power Industries is another clear example of video games being light years ahead in teaching their modus operandi. There is no tutorial. The game has 78 puzzles, not counting the hidden ones, and you learn the how-to's by playing puzzle #1, and then #2, and so on.

It's so intuitive and simple, right from the get-go, that I'm amazed how my tired brain could still learn the how-to's and be engaged as each puzzle was solved.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Many puzzles. One unfolding, if feeble, story.

I went through the first 15 puzzles without even registering them. Place a tower here, another there. Realize it's not going to work, backtrack a step and try a different approach. I was able to provide energy to everything in two or three attempts at most.

After the 15th day, a new resource needed to be harvested and delivered to a different set of buildings. Water.

On the 20th, strange black monoliths started to drop from the red sky around the habitation modules. What they are and why were they falling is still a mystery. But maybe they are the Kubrickian part of the game. I'll see in the days to come...


After 26 days on the martian surface, it was only apt that I followed it with a sci-fi movie of some kind. Preferably one connected to Mars.

The thing is, I think I've watched most of the good stuff that the genre has to offer. Even outliers like Ghosts of Mars or Mars Attacks. The Martian, Red Planet, Mission to Mars, and Total Recall. If it's on Mars, chances are that I've watched. So instead, I searched for movies about going to Mars to see if anything popped up. And sure enough, 30 googling seconds later, Stowaway showed up on the radar. I pressed play and settled in for the journey to Mars.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Goodbye home.

A match between a space mission gone wrong and impossible decisions plaguing the crew non-stop until the end of the movie. After a while, I started to wonder what else would go wrong with this clearly unprepared first mission to the red planet.

Botanists that can't hold their stomach in zero-G? A ship designed for two, launched with three, now forced to sustain four humans? A ship commander who doesn't seem to be able to give clear and decisive orders as the mission disintegrates around her? Astronauts in bad physical shape and solar storms with the worst timing ever?

It was a bit too much to ask for the characters and the viewers. Such that you can never really relate with them, even when the movie quieted for a minute or two to give depth to the characters. So when the human drama unfolded, you just yawned to wait and see what you already knew was going to happen.

Still, it was a good watch for a Saturday night evening. One I'll forget by the time I play the next puzzle of Mars Power Industries.


One year ago: ...thrift empire...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, ghostof82.wordpress.com
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Sat Dec 4, 2021 10:00 pm
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...upbeat hostage situation...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1791. November 26, 2021. Lagos...

After the markets close, I turn on the music.

It's late, and I'm tired, and every bit of extra energy that can push me to the end of the final leg of the workday is appreciated. Usually, that extra energy comes from the upbeat sounds of Coccolino Deep. The movie bits set the stage, and the beats build on it. I'm carried away by Top Gun, Fight Club, or Million Dollar Baby "remixes" as I updated various metrics, prices, stops...

But tonight, the energy carried over once I was done with the numbers. And with Edward still next to me on the desk and still holding a bunch of hostages to gunpoint, I shifted to One Day and started the chat of fate and the roll of death!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Terrific groove.

This was something new to me - playing a board game at the sound of electronic music - so I decided to try something new as well. I chose the grinding approach instead of going with the demand route - 12 impossible to get conversation points to win the game. Talk my way into a saved hostage here, a few there. Parley into making Edward release everyone and see if I could win.

After five rounds, the plan was working beyond my expectations. I'd saved all but one of the seven hostages. Rolling three dice also helped. But the terror card that followed, didn't!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Three more to the dance party.

Three more dumb tourists visiting the hospital walked right into Edward's danger zone! It was not like going back to square one, but it sure felt like that.

From that point on, things escalated to the worse. Edward refused to talk with me past the first conversation card, and our healthy relationship dwindled to the point of rupture. Edward was losing his grip on reality. It wouldn't take long for him to kill everybody on a snap!

With time running out, I reveal the final pivotal card. I had one way, and one way only, to win the game, and it involved a tremendous amount of luck.

The first minor extract resulted in a moderate success, but with one hostage released. Only three remained.

Next, I granted a minor demand, which basically had no consequences at this stage of the game. Edward calmed a bit, and I was able to infiltrate a whole SWAT team on the service vents above Edward's head!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Time to end the party.

"All units, get in there, NOW!"

They had orders to kill on sight without risking the hostage's life. Luckily for Edward, he was behind an old man when the SWAT team burst open like a dam from the ceiling! SWAT didn't take the kill shot, and Edward surrendered once he realized there was no way out of this predicament.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Game over.

Eleven hostages were saved, including Edward. I called this victory a great way to end the week.


One year ago: ...green rumpus from a muted spirit...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Fri Dec 3, 2021 10:00 pm
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...parlay...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1790. November 25, 2021. Lagos...

Jamaica has been on my mind as the next family game we should try.

And that's probably the reason why I drifted to its BGG page the other day and noticed that a new version had come out. The new box is bigger, and they've changed the shortage rule a bit. But we'll never get to try it as it involves a new combat dice with icons that aren't present in the first edition copy we have. I would have loved that new and improved tabbed(!!) rulebook, though.

Anyway, as I meandered in Jamaica's forum jungle routes, I noticed, of course, that someone had designed a solo variant for Jamaica. A solo variant designed not by a random Jamaica fan but by a member of the Automa Factory and designer of Patchwork Automa, Lines J. Hutter. It was like finding the lost treasure of Jamaica's official solo variant.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Treasured.

That further piqued my interest in opening the treasure chest full of pirates.

So when Alice asked for another pirate game in our collection, Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot, as a way to fence off her nasty cold, I dodged that rules-intensive pirate ship and steered instead to a more peaceful island of Jamaica.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Piraty afternoon.

We played the same card on the first turn, with both ships ending on the same spot!

Sea battle ensued without gunpowders or special powers from treasure cards. She rolled a star, plundered the meager coins I had, and that was it for interaction in our game. The ships never even came close to meeting again, turning the whole combat section of the game irrelevant, and making gunpowder the first resource to be thrown overboard when shortage happened.

Maybe next time, I'll bring the Ghost Ship to see if it improves the interaction or at least make gunpowder a more meaningful resource.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Mary Doubloon.

Whenever a six or five came up, both used very distinct strategies to take full advantage of those high numbers. I raced ahead around Jamaica, looting treasures and useless combat powers, while Alice stacked up on coins. At one point, her entire cargo hold was full of precious doubloons!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Anne Pointless.

Still, I hoped to offset her immense wealth with the 15 point award for being the first to the finish line. But as I did the tally, the score came up tipped to her side!

She won without even making it halfway on the racing track!


Since we all stayed indoors to fence off the cold, there were many free five minutes here and five minutes there that I decided to spend on Hostage Negotiator.

Setup on the standing desk I have in the office, Edward Quin was safe from the prying eyes of my 7yo and several years away from my curious 8-month-old toddler. A safe zone that I plan to profit in the coming days, leaving that part of the desk clear and with the game prepared and ready to go.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The casual negotiator.

A setup that in Hostage Negotiator is undemanding and quick.

Unfortunately, it also took no time at all for Edward to lose his self-control over the anguish of his dying son and the stressful situation he'd put himself into. Twice I tried to talk Edward into reason. Twice he snapped when the Threat level reached the K(ill) zone. Twice he murdered all seven hostages in the blink of a lunatics' eye.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The casual snap of a murderer.

Was I lucky with Arkayne yesterday, or is Edward the hardest abductor in the base game?


One year ago: ...flicking money at frightening flames...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, ArtEmiSa64
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Thu Dec 2, 2021 10:00 pm
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...stockholm syndrome...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1789. November 24, 2021. Lagos...

It's been a while since I played a game on the kitchen table late at night, with the scent of a bubbling hot tea for comfort and the feeling of cards and dice for company.

Even if the cards depict a deranged abductor threatening to kill everyone unless his demands are met!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The kitchen hostage situation.

A return of the not-so-prodigal solo-only-son to the collection.

I played Hostage Negotiator eight times in 2017 before letting it go for not being particularly impressed by it. But the more I played solo games, the more I've come to appreciate the solo-only designs for what they are and what they can offer. Whereas before, their primary purpose was to replace the lack of multiplayer plays, now they've become my main go-to gaming genre.

So yeah... Hostage Negotiator. Random dice on top of random terror cards would at first glance spell too much randomness for any euro fan control freak obsessed with open information. Hostage Negotiator is not that game, though, and wanting it to be would be doing it a disservice.

At first glance, you take the role of a clueless negotiator trying to reign in an explosive situation. Arkayne wants something, and you don't know what. The more you talk and try to chit-chat, the more the situation escalates for the worse. It seems there's nothing you can do, really. You're at the whim of the criminal, the terror cards, and the cold and merciless red dice.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Chit chatting.

You have to be subtle. Let things escalate a bit, so you can buy a "Just a few more minutes!" card unnoticed while Arkayne shouts over the phone. Buy "An empty promise..." at the expense of a gun on an innocent's head. Slowly setting up the hand for a quick and decisive move.

"Sniper, take the shot!"

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Two dead... a good start.

The guy dropped dead on the spot, allowing a few hostages to escape unharmed. A victory in itself, after so many years without playing Hostage Negotiator.

But now I see clearly. And when the second in command killed two hostages, I didn't let the disaster cloud the judgment. I set things up for another kill shot and when I was ready, order it for a second time.

Game over for tonight. But not in the coming days.


One year ago: ...dim blaze and hard dilemmas at sundown...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Wed Dec 1, 2021 10:00 pm
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...kingdom of dead fish and happy monsters...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1788. November 23, 2021. Lagos...

We were all eager to play games as soon as the Break of Dawn gang got together before school started. They kept asking for the salmon game I'd mentioned yesterday and if I'd brought the monster game again. I said yes to everything, and as diligent students, they all quieted to listen to the Happy Salmon rules.

First to lose all the cards wins. To lose a card, you need to find someone that's doing the same thing you are. It couldn't be simpler right?

But as soon as I said "Go!" they just stood there, staring at me like I'd gone cuckoo, as I tried to hi-five and fin slap my hands with them! Only the ten-year-old was somewhat aware of what was happening. My daughter and her friend were definitely not getting anything!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Like fishes out of water.

I saw no laughter, and their eyes were as dead as the happy fish this game is trying to simulate! We tried it a second time.

This time they started to look for matches beyond the crazy adult next to them, but they were still too slow to grasp the gameplay, let alone the fun. Probably the toughest crowd I've ever encountered to play Happy Salmon. The cards returned to the fish belly, and I doubt they'll see this school anytime soon.

As for Monster Match...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Like a family of monsters.

...it continues to be the unlikely winner. I guess quietly finding monsters is preferred, considering they already spend school recess running around and jumping left and right. No need to have a salmon game to infuse action in these kids!


The second game Santa sent us was none other than the five-year-old evergreen, Kingdomino. We once borrowed it from a friend, and for a time, Alice used it as a sort of kingdom puzzle for her imagination. She loved it and actually missed it once it went away.

And while I didn't put Kingdomino on The Thirteen to play with her - she officially learned the #1 last week, and math is still an unknown word for her - I was surprised by not finding a kid's variant. Nothing official and nothing in the forums for a game that's readily available and widely loved.

So I crafted an impromptu variant to play with my 7yo first-grade student.

The original two-player drafting rules remained untouched, as did the 5x5 limit on the kingdom itself. But the multiplication scoring changed to one point for each of the largest types of lands. That was it. And had I thought about it a bit more, I would have included extra points for each castle in the land.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Kiddy Kingdom.

It played perfectly. For 10 minutes, we drafted without even thinking about the mechanism, and when it was over, it still felt like we'd played a meaningful game.

I guess really good games work even when you take away some of their rules.


One year ago: ...showdown of the mages...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Tue Nov 30, 2021 10:00 pm
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...monsters gang inc...

Alexandre Correia
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Lagos
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Day 1787. November 22, 2021. Lagos...

Geeky Santa's package arrived last week, and today I threw inside the backpack one of the three games (!!!) - Thank you, Santa! - that are now part of the family.

I had the feeling one of the games would be a good match for the Break of Dawn group that meets every day at school, forty minutes before class starts. The other day, we introduced them to By Golly, so this morning, after the usual ball throwing, tree climbing, and skate rolling, the four of us scurried indoors with a warm tea to see if Monster Match matched with us or not.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Muddy mornings make for great gaming excuses.

Ten cards on the table, a pair of dice for the last person who ate cake. Fingers ready for when the dice stop and a match needs to be found. Four-legged monsters? Blind blobs? One arm octopus? This game has it all such that a Monster's Inc character would feel right at home here.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The monsters are out of the bag.

There's usually more than one correct answer, so the trick here isn't to e the first to claim a monster card but to claim the most point-worthy monster.

Monster Match is definitely different than its more famous brethren, Happy Salmon. There's no shouting and frantic sixty-second chaos of laughter here. It's more like rolling the dice and listening to six seconds of silence that follows as players scan the table for the better choice.

Take too long, and you might get nothing. Too fast, and you might choose a near-worthless one-pointer.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Donuts for breakfast?

We played it twice, and if I'd let them, they would have skipped class to continue monster hunting! A good entry game to get them into the hobby. Tomorrow, I'm bringing Salmons and the Monsters to see which one they prefer.


One year ago: ...lightning over farm...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Mon Nov 29, 2021 10:00 pm
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...the impossible grail...

Alexandre Correia
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Lagos
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Day 1786. November 21, 2021. Lagos...

I miss having a big solo game for days on the table. Something that takes a long time to peel and get lost in its intricacies. Something modular that can play fast initially and slowly escalate from twenty minutes to two hours. A game that pushes me to think of a solution rather than to imagine a story.

But right now, given our current lifestyle, I don't see that happening any time soon. Stuff like Sleeping Gods, Jaws of the Lion, and games like Nemo's War and Dawn of the Zeds will have to wait.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

For now, the Manticore stays in the dry port.

This got me thinking today - yet another unproductive and mishandled Sunday - if there's a small game I could use to scratch that itch? A game that I could carry with me in a small recess of the backpack, play for 10 to 20 minutes a pop, put it away, and somehow save the progress.

Story RPGesque games can do this, of course. 4AD, D100, Barbarian Prince...

But I was looking for something more euroesque-like. It can have a strong story element, but its strongest points should be one of intellectual challenge rather than nourishment of the imagination.

Roll & Writes are the obvious suspect since the writing on the sheets acts like a save system. Could you play something like Hadrian's Wall or Rome and Roll for a turn, put it away, and come back to it later?

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Euro or story?

Could Magic Realm Light 30 or the xx72 series provide enough of a euro feel, or is the story element in them too strong?

Maybe a game with a short playtime but with the ability to string the sessions together into a cohesive campaign?

For instance, something like the Mazescape series, where you need to find every object in each of the seven mazes before going back to the first maze and do it a second time to light the lamps scattered in Escher-like illustrations. Even Fire, with its multi-level progression and short sessions, can feel like playing something bigger.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Cards into campaigns.

If I remember correctly, One Deck Dungeon also has a campaign variant. But although the game is low footprint and easy to carry, the wins can last more than 20 minutes.

Port Royal and Oh My Goods could also fall into this category. Short, easy to carry euros with a campaign attached to them. Or Fantasy Defense (with the expansion) and After the Virus, although I fear that some of the missions in the latter could last for more than 20 minutes.

Does Button Shy portfolio have a campaign game with 18 cards? Could Gloomholdin' scratch this need for a bigger game with its picturesque card management?

Suggestions are more than welcome, dear reader.

I need the impossible here. A big game in a small package that plays quickly.


One year ago: ...the obligatory amusement park...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, captainbudge, Tulkas, PyroDoctor, YoubiFox
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Sun Nov 28, 2021 10:00 pm
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...misty mines and stony starts...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1785. November 20, 2021. Lagos...

Previously in Four Against Darkness: ...session zero...
Exhausted. Keftar was near his limit from being in a constant state of alertness for the last hour. Right now, he only wished he'd said no to the mayor's plea for volunteers.

A mysterious mist had sieged the town of Warunor and mayor Jalinka had asked for volunteers to go inside the fog and ascertain its origin. She'd run out of guards after all had disappeared inside the mist. Keftar was no hero, and he knew that well. But he'd lived in Warunor all his life, and the notion that his home could disappear without him doing anything didn't feel right.

The arrival of Jotna, a fiery red-eyed woman who found her way into town from the forest, was the catalyst that sparked the locals to take action. The stranger made a deal with the mayor, and thus a band of four souls formed to enter the mist. Keftar would hold the lantern, the others would carry the weapons.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Misty beginnings.

It didn't take long for the group to come across an abandoned mine west of Warunor. Although what that mine was doing there was beyond Keftar's knowledge. His was a farm town, and as far as he knew, the closest mines were on the mountains further north, where his forefathers had first come from.

Jotna decided that this mine was as good a place as any to find clues about the mist, and so they entered...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Once more into darkness.

And for the next five rooms in this short six-room dungeon, on edge was definitely the best word to describe my first 4AD session in ages.

Not only because I wasn't comfortable with the rules after such a long hiatus, but also because it was the first time I was going in with vanilla level zero adventurers. With only the barest of equipment on them, light armor and weapons, and starting health bordering on the suicidal! Theras, their woman-at-arms dwarf, had an unimpressive four life points! Feeble really, but positively hulk-like when compared with the expedition leader, Jotna. The red-eyed woman had half that!

When the first minions showed up on a corridor, a mob of angry Fungi Folk, retreating was not just an option. It came instinctively as my first choice!

The gang managed to break the fungi's morale, as well as the iron eater that came next. A tense battle with a weird monster where everyone failed their attacks but Keftar, who pushed a spear-like stick inside the creature's eye which sent it running!

According to the rules of The Mists of Warunor campaign setting, the sixth and final room would have the final boss. To my surprise, although it shouldn't have been really, the final boss was a...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Not again!

Keftar and Jotna were instantly turned into stone as soon as they opened the door!

Theras and Daeru, a part-time bouncer in the only tavern of Warunor, had but a split second on whether to fight or flee. The two fought to the brink of their lives but succeeded in decapitating the ugly snaked haired woman's head.

After catching their breaths, they pondered which of their companion's statues they should carry back to the town. Jotna, the stranger who'd led them here, or Keftnar, a local of Warunor like they.


Congrats, Jotna, you're the first casualty in this new 4AD campaign!
Books used: Four Against Darkness; Four Against the Abyss (for the hirelings); The Lantern Issue #2

One year ago: ...unboxing dough...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, Heather Feather, NezeN, Grigory Rudenko
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Sat Nov 27, 2021 10:00 pm
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