Meepleonboard

When I am not putting notes on paper I like to play. Here are my scribblings.

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6th December 2021 - When is a win not a win?

meepleonboard
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I sat down once more this afternoon with Pocket Landship, confident after yet another reread of the rules that I was going to play it absolutely correctly, third time lucky. Again, I went with the tutorial setup so that I could continue to get a feel for how the various elements work in the game, and also because I would rather experience a gradual unfurling of its petals instead of being deluged with choices.

If I have one criticism of the game so far it is the that rules could possibly be a little clearer. I have had to keep my laptop open and check various threads on BGG several times in my three plays so far, and while I know that things will be much more smooth once all the information is clear in my head it is still making the learning process just a little bumpy.

Having said that, a close rereading of some sections of the booklet did mean that I was playing the Mechs' movements correctly this time around, bringing cards across and down to the front row where necessary, where in my first play I had definitely ended up just with the two columns, incorrectly so. It also felt like a much more interesting battle this time around as a result, although there is no doubt that I got very lucky on some turns, such as the one pictured below when my hull was assaulted but no damage was done.

From gallery of nickster1970

The luck of the roll.


In the end I survived the final battle with moderate ease, using my Commander and two Advantage cards to my, erm, advantage, and trotted away to an easy and legal victory...or so I thought, until it occurred to me to double check the Ingenuity ability, which allows you to adjust one other die by a single pip.

I had assumed that this included the dice used to track damage, but not so - it apparently refers only to those used to selecet actions, so once again my win was not quite as justified as I had assumed. I will still notch it up as a victory, though, even if it is a qualified one, but I shall know better next time. It is not all bad news, though, for I was hankering after just a touch more challenge, but it looks as if that is exactly what I shall be getting next time out.

Happy gaming!

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Mon Dec 6, 2021 9:39 am
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5th December 2021 - Getting it right is so much better

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Commenting on yesterday's post about Pocket Landship, Garry sagely posted that I think you'll find it a more tense and dramatic experience when you play by the correct rules. I suspected - no, I knew that he was absolutely right, so, after arriving in the burrow late in the evening, I determined to give it another play, but this time as the designer wished.

When I was in my intense stage of reviewing I went through a regular cycle of rules-game-rules-game in order to make sure that I was playing the design as the designer had intended and voicing an opinion that was actually based on the product, and that has stayed with me, not least in my intention to play games many times as soon as they get to the table. Having made the mistake in the past of getting rid of games perhaps a little too early and then wondering if I had actually experienced them correctly, I think that my approach has changed to something slightly less trigger happy, more considered.

Anyway, back to Pocket Landship it was yesterday evening for another run at the introductory setup. I had had what I thought was an easy win at this in the morning, which was in fact a loss, so this would be my first run at it with what I hoped were the correct rules.

In the end I went down to a chastening defeat, the cannon fired off my tank and rendering it useless, while also notifying me to the fact that my cards can easily be hit multiple times in the same turn. I had been doing fine until shortly before the end, but a couple of double hits were enough to see me off

The good news is that I enjoyed the game much, much more on this second play, because it was precisely the lack of challenge that had so disappointed me first time through, and it turns out that it is definitely there when you attack those Mechs correctly. It played quickly and cleanly as well, which marks it out as something that could stay in the collection for the long run if it ends up intriguing me as I believe it might.

From gallery of nickster1970

Cannoff.


Happy gaming!

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Sun Dec 5, 2021 7:45 am
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4th December 2021 - Muddying the waters

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I was up fairly early this morning despite a late arrival back at the house following a gig with one of my bands, the first time I have been out and playing this way for over a year. This used to be a more or less weekly occurrence, so it felt good to be back after so long away, and the next outing (although with a different band) is next week, Omicron permitting.

As far as tackling threats goes, I took double aim at the Shelf Of Opportunity and various tanks this morning as I set out Pocket Landship for an exploratory first play on the kitchen table. I have been interested in this game ever since its earliest days as a PnP but this was my first chance to experience it in the flesh, even though I have sniffed round it many times.

The game is pretty easy to play - you roll three dice (usually) and assign the results to your cards, which represent your tank's hull, cannon and sponsons or shock troops. Then your enemy does the same as its cards descend in a 3x3 grid, like very slow and muddy Space Invaders, and the attrition begins. The player gets a card or two with one-off abilites to help them on their way, and at a certain point a final battle begins when neither side can repair any more.

It is quick and simple to learn and play, which makes it ideal for me at the moment, and I had a good time with it first time out, even if I did that first play thing of reading just enough of the rules to get things up and running without reading quite enough of the rules to play it absolutely correctly. I ran out to an easy and rather undramatic win and then had another look through the rules to make sure that everything had been done as it the designer had intended, but it had not...

There in big, bold letters on the middle of the booklet is the dictum If your Hull or Cannon card is destroyed, you lose the game. which I had utterly ignored, meaning that my gallant crew had been going through the motions a little like the Ant Hill Mob in that split second between their car disintegrating and their realising it. It seems only fair to the game that I should play it again correctly, partially because that would seem to be the right thing to do in order to have a proper assessment of how the game feels, but also because - far more importantly - I did not win after all, so I need to wreak my revenge.

From gallery of nickster1970

Hull on earth.


Happy gaming!

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Sat Dec 4, 2021 9:57 am
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3rd December 2021 - Piles of potential

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I nipped over to return some loaned games to one of my nearby fellow BGGers this afternoon and also to pick up some new ones to try, so while I have pared down the collection a little it is struggling to lose its lockdown paunch, but it is getting there slowly. Two piles out and two piles in, a zero sum visit.

Among the games to try are Pocket Landship, which looks right up my street. I had a quick tinker with the components this afternoon and it appears to be quite fun and it fits into that quick and portable solo category that usually works well for me.

Next up was a first edition copy of Lewis & Clark: The Expedition to try alongside my various online plays, and it naturally looks much more gorgeous in the flesh. I think that this might fry KT’s mind almost as much as it does mine so it will probably be a solo solo experience for the time being but I am still very happy to have it on the shelf.

The Search for Planet X is one that I was not aware of until it was mentioned to me this afternoon, and it looks to play well as a solo and also as a two-player, so I am going to dig into this a little more and find out what it is all about, whereas Carcassonne: The Castle is one that I have wanted to play for a good long time, so I am very happy to have been loaned a copy of this little gem. I set up its border this evening and KT was immediately interested so the omens are good.

There were a couple of small boxes in there as well, such as Coup - light and frothy - and Bios: Genesis - definitely not light or frothy, one of which I know will get played many times and one of which might take just a little more effort. Bios is one that I am really interested in digging into after my experience with Neanderthal, even if it will certainly take me a while to get there, but I have more than enough excellent fodder to play with until then.

Happy gaming!

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Fri Dec 3, 2021 8:09 pm
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2nd December 2021 - Back in the city

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One of the new arrivals in the house last week was MicroMacro: Crime City – Full House, the sequel to the original version that appeared last year and which has since made a decent impression on gamers. Admittedly part of that impression has manifested itself in discussions about whether it is actually a game or not, but while those hushed conferences were going on in the dusty corners of BGG I laid out the map and had a fine old time playing through the cases with KT.

After we had finished the box we took it over to a friend’s house for them to play, and they quickly fell in love with it, and this success was the tipping point for buying the new box sooner rather than later, and this afternoon KT and I ran through the first couple of cases. We played them on the slightly more demanding level where you have to piece the crime together without the clues to hold your sleuthing hand.

If you know what was in the first box and have already decided whether you like this or not then there is nothing in the first two cases of Full House to suggest that anything will change your mind. In other words, this is definitely more of the same as you track victims and villains across a large map which acts as a kind of time-lapse photograph, wherein you can trace the events that have led to this point.

Rather nicely, this second map seems to fit right next to the original one, and we think that we may have already spotted a couple of characters from that first box, so we are intrigued to see what lies ahead. This new box also has a rating system for content, so that your young co-players might not come across something to cause them cartoony nightmares.

Anyway, the first two cases were quite easily solved, just as we had anticipated, but this did feel like catching up with an old friend and we were both glad to have it back on the table. All that leaning and stretching is back as well, of course, which is at least a part of the rationale behind our taking our time with it, but there do not seem to be any reasons why we should not enjoy it just as much as its first iteration.

From gallery of nickster1970

Here we go again.


Happy gaming!

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Thu Dec 2, 2021 9:29 pm
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1st December 2021 - Cured meet

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I had a look at my gaming stats at the end of the month just to keep myself abreast of what is being played and what is being neglected and should probably get to the table. I try very hard not to force myself to play specific games a certain number of times, to turn the pleasure of playing into an obligation, but, as I have written many times before, unplayed games weigh heavily on my mind and I want to give them all the time they deserve.

Often a quick look at my list of last plays will throw up the revelation that something I thought I had visited only a few weeks ago is nearly a year on from its last play, and such, to my horror, was the case with Pandemic: The Cure, which I got to the table this afternoon. I played this ten times in quick succession last year, with great delight, and since then it has been gathering dust on the shelves as other boxes have been taking over the limelight, not all of which have been remotely as much fun.

Given that I have the expansion I really should be getting to play this more, which is especially the case with the games for which I have the extra bits and bobs, not least because, as with the other Pandemics and the likes of Forbidden Island, I love exploring all the roles and their combinations. This time around it was the Medic and the Generalist on Normal level.

From gallery of nickster1970

This is what defeat looks like.


My rustiness was to the fore, but the dice were also pretty harsh to me, and before very long I was fighting outbreaks and infections and all sorts of ailments, desperately tring to amass samples in order to attempt to find a cure. Somehow even here my rolling was way down at the bottom of the charts, so not only were my action dice stored away in the hopes of finding a cure but I was consistently not rolling enough to make any progress.

In the end I went down to a solid defeat with only the single disease cured, although I had aquired samples for another two and was hopeful of holding out for some kind of win, but it was not to be, even if it was delightful to be back in the company of this light and fast iteration of a classic. Often I find that dice games are merely rehashes of the original, and not necessarily for the better, but this really does feel like its own thing, and it certainly should not go a year before its next play.

Happy gaming!

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Wed Dec 1, 2021 4:42 pm
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30th November 2021 - Champagne campaign

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I had a couple of new gaming arrivals in the house when I returned from London, of which more anon, but decided this afternoon to settle down with one of my old favourites which has been given a new lease of life by the solo campaign variant, namely Jump Drive. I had yet to come close to winning the Basics Campaign, the only one I have tried, but on this occasion I had the luxury of time and, therefore, of thought.

Each campaign begins with four possible victory conditions, but each can only be achieved the once, narrowing down those criteria until, if you make it as far as game four, you get only the single target to hit. Sure enough, my first game did not cause me too much trouble, my 48 points gaining me the Discoverer achievement with enough breathing space to give me a little confidence.

From gallery of nickster1970

A good start.


In game two I got my Novelty Worlds in a row and allied them with a couple of Consumer Markets to reap plenty of points despite a slow start for a total of 72 and a Peaceful Victory. Two victory conditions were now ticked off with only a couple left, and this, surely, was where things were going to get tough.

Somehow, though, in game three I managed to put together an all conquering Military tableau for a whopping 105 points and then found myself with an important decision to make - given that my cards fulfilled both of the remaining victory conditions I needed to choose one goal to tick off and one to leave as the target for my last game. I went for the Great Victory, which left me with a Military Victory to aim for in my final run, something that requires 50 points or more and Military strength of at least 8.

From gallery of nickster1970

A Novel approach.


By the penultimate round of the campaign I had 35 points and 5 Military, so it was going to be close, but I was drawing ten or so cards at the end of each turn by this stage, so I drew and hoped for a card to combine Military strength with points for the win. An Alien Military world was there to take me over the line as far as my armies were concerned, but I had to combine it with a measly 1-cost development for the final point, and as a result I just achieved the required criteria with a score of 50 and a Military strength of 9. The campaign was defeated - barely - and it was a completely enjoyable experience, all wrapped up in just over half an hour, so now it is time to think about tackling the Planned Empire Campaign.

Happy gaming!

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Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:18 pm
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29th November 2021 - Hot stuff

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It was back to Flash Point: Fire Rescue this afternoon for a game at Recruit level, after my dalliance with the very straightforward Family Game last week. This time I decided to throw in Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Tragic Events, which I have played with a couple of times but well over a year ago, an addition which does away with the Hot Spots completely and instead replaces the Advance Fire phase of the game with two decks of cards, one of which may or may not advance the fire and the other of which is full of Events.

From gallery of nickster1970

The team gets to work.


I picked four roles which I thought might work well with the challenge to hand - Hazmat Technician, Imaging Technician, Veteran and Generalist -, dealt with the initial explosions and then sent in my team to try to recover any people who were trapped. The Hazmat and Imaging Technicians were hard at work in their particular fields, saving us time and reducing the levels of danger, giving the other two members of the team valuable breathing space to get around the building and control the fire.

From gallery of nickster1970

Getting victims to the ambulance.


Thankfully the deck was reasonably kind to us, and although there was plenty of smoke in the building it only rarely spilled over into full-on fire. However, two of the first three POIs were false alarms, and we did lose one of the people trapped in the fire when an explosion occurred and they were simply in the wrong space at the wrong time.

From gallery of nickster1970

It's getting hot in here.


Among the other events to take place were a light rain shower, which unfortunately did not help us at all, and the discovery of some highly flammable cleaning materials in the building, but the presence of the Veteran in the team was a real morale booster for the other firefighters, and they used the extra AP to good effect. It was when I needed to add a POI token from the Tragic Events set to those from the base game that I realised it was a slightly different shade of blue from the others, but it does seem that the expansion comes with a more or less complete set of these, so I simply replaced the old ones with the new ones and I was as in the dark as ever as to what they represented.

From gallery of nickster1970

Dice and cards. Cruel and kind.


In the end my team ran out to a fairly easy victory, seven victims saved and only one lost, with fewer explosions than I had feared and a structure that was still substantially intact, thanks in no small part to the Sturdy Construction event. I shall up the difficulty next time around, but this was a really fun way to spend an hour or so, and I think that the cards shake up the game in a very positive way, while also making it easier to run, a win-win situation.

Happy gaming!

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Mon Nov 29, 2021 3:39 pm
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28th November 2021 - From bad to better

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I committed the cardinal error of leaving the burrow this morning without a game in tow. I had intended to take Jump Drive with me in order to have a crack at one of the fan-made campaigns, but I was already on the tube before I remembered that I had forgotten, which seemed rather poetic but did make me kick myself in the metaphorical backside.

It was only when I got to my destination and reached into my backpack for some music that a small selection of cards in a baggy became visible, together with a small blue die. This could only mean one thing - in my general forgettings I had forgotten to take Aquaducts out of my bag since I had last brought it along with me, so I had something to play on my travels.

Apologies, then, to anybody reading this who is thinking Enough already with the Aquaducts, but there is Insane level to defeat, and each play gives me a chance to get there, even if today was not that day. It started well, almost charmed, one might say, but then it stalled as the opportunities to place became ever more scarce and the cards decided not to cooperate.

I got back to the burrow late in the evening and logged on to meet my regular online gaming partner for another game of Grand Austria Hotel, and I was royally (or maybe imperially) hosed by the dice but also, to be fair, by my opponent. I found myself strapped for cash and backed into all sorts of other corners as well and lost by a whopping 117 points to 69, my seven occupied rooms a dilapidated AirBnB next to my opponent's plush hotel with all but five of its rooms nestling pampered guests.

We finished our evening with a best-of-three session of Coup, which continues to be fun even though it almost certainly shines with more players. Still, it provided laughs and groans and occasional doses of triumph, even if I went down to a 2-1 defeat. After a rather inauspicious start to the gaming day it had all turned out to be a big pile of fun.

From gallery of nickster1970

Not this time.


Happy gaming!

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Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:19 pm
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27th November 2021 - Unscathed

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Although my experience of last night's meteorological visitation was nowhere near as dramatic as Mr. Shep's, it did still feel at times as though the house was about to leave the ground, and I feared that we might find Dylan marooned in the topmost branches of a tree at the end of his early morning beating of the bounds. In the end, though, all four corners of the house remained attached and Dylan returned from his perambulations looking wild and windswept, but mercifully branch-free.

The other storm to assail me yesterday was the Black Friday spamathon, which began in the middle of the night and continued all day. I did what I would normally have done, namely nip along to the various gaming sites and see if there were any bargains to be had, and duly filled up my online basket.

And then I went away and thought about things for a long, long time. I tinkered with the basket, substituted items that I knew I definitely wanted for ones that I simply thought I must have now, and then thought about things for much longer. Eventually I came back to the basket in the evening and the items were still there, the stock levels more or less as they had been first thing in the morning.

The voice that had been at the back of my mind all day then pushed its way forwards, reminding me that these were not really bargains, merely items priced similarly to other sites but with a big Black Friday icon stamped over the top. The notion of adding a new pile next to the pile of things I want to play more and the other pile of things I have yet to play at all almost made me empty my cart, but it was clinched by the memory that this particular site had comprehensively done me over on a non-gaming related matter towards the end of last year.

In the end it was easy to shut the tab, clear the cookies, and then sit downstairs and play with something from the unopened and dusty end of the shelf, the bits and pieces of Mice and Mystics spread on the kitchen table to get a feel for how it all fits together. Until then the money stays safe in my pocket, and I shall know in time whether I really miss what I do not have.

Happy gaming!

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Sat Nov 27, 2021 9:31 pm
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