A Gnome's Ponderings

I'm a gamer. I love me some games and I like to ramble about games and gaming. So, more than anything else, this blog is a place for me to keep track of my ramblings. If anyone finds this helpful or even (good heavens) insightful, so much the better.

Archive for Print and Play

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [14]

Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My August R&W

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
August came close to ending what has been my monthly learning new Roll and Writes. Which was never an actual goal of mine. It just kept happening August was just a busy month but I did manage to learn a few.

While I was already familiar with Robin Gibson’s Paper Pinball series, I tried a couple boards that I hadn’t tried before.

I’d played an earlier version of Sherwood 2146 but I tried the most recent version this time. I also tried a board from the second season, Squishington Goes to Venus. (Judging by the art, Squishington is a budgie that NASA sent to the planet Venus)

Paper Pinball is a guilty pleasure of mine, a game series that has slowly grown on me. They are very much part of the roll-them-dice-and-fill-in-boxes school of R&W. Which can be brilliant (The Clever family of games, for instance) but I’d call Paper Pinball just okay, if amusing.

I intentionally tried a very early board and a later board. And the differences were definitely there. Sherwood 2146 is so very simple and the decisions border on being mindless. Squishington, while still very simple, actually gave me choices and actual interactions between board elements.

Paper Pinball is still strictly a guilty pleasure but if someone asked me to recommend a board, it would be from season two. I will save season one for when I’m feeling brain dead, which means they will still see play.

The other Roll and Write I tried out for the first time is Stonemaier’s Rolling Realms. Holy cow, that was a completely different experience from Paper Pinball.

The game consists of nine micro-games, each inspired by one of Stonemaier’s larger games. It was developed as a game folks could play together long distance when they are under lockdown.

I’m not going to try to evenly lightly summarize Rolling Realms. It definitely uses the idea of there being way more to do than you can ever get done.

There have been ten different versions of the game, not counting the official version that is coming out. That makes it a little weird for me to access. And I’ll need more plays to really get even a vague handle on how many actual decisions the game has.

The only real issue I’ve had is that fitting all the micro-games and the rules on one sheet of paper leads to rule questions. The published version will have a rule book so that should clear that up.

September looks to be busy too so I don’t know if I’ll get in any new games. Even if I don’t, it’s been a better run than I expected.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sat Sep 4, 2021 6:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My August PnP

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
August.

Okay, here’s what I made in August:

Timeline: Classic - Print and Play Demo

Yup. That’s it. School started for our son at the start of August so that’s where our focus and time and mental stamina was at. My goal is to get one ‘meaningful’ project in a month so I’m content.

I got the files from Asmodee’s website. I’ve looked at the series but never tried it so this will be a chance to sample it. Which is the entire point of a demo

The demo consists 30 of the 55 cards, over half the entire game. Would getting the complete game be that much more rewarding than the demo? I do have to wonder that.

September looks to be another month where PnP isn’t a priority. Eh, life gets crazy. As long as I get a little crafting in, it will help me stay balanced.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Wed Sep 1, 2021 9:17 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

The Count of Nine is a fun nine cards

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
If you’re even just casually into PnP games (which, since I’m a lazy PnPer, is really where I’m at), you’ve heard of Count of Nine. It’s a Euro in just nine cards. No dice or cubes involved.

The game is all about infrastructure building. You are trying to build a big building and that is going to take resources and smaller buildings.

The cards are double sided and orientation matters. When they are in your deck, they are sideways. When you build a card, it goes upright in your tableau. When they are sideways, the resource on the top of the middle is the active resource.

You slide cards and flip them in order to expose resources and potential building to build. When you run through the deck, you can leave the deck unchanged, rotate the whole deck, reshuffle it or rotate just one card. All this can give you access to different resources.

The game ends when either there are no more possible moves OR you choose to end it. Your score is based on the buildings you built MINUS how many rounds you played. So there can be a reason to stop early.

It took me two tries to figure out the game. While the sliding and flipping was kind of different, what needed to click in my head was how the cards interacted. For one thing, you need a crew to build anything. At my current understanding of the game, building a tavern to get guaranteed access to a crew once a round is important. And some buildings require smaller buildings so you can’t build a different building on that card.

Okay. I definitely enjoy Count of Nine. I think it’s fun and well designed. It gives me a legitimate Euro experience in five, ten minutes with just nine cards. After a couple learning hiccups, the game becomes intuitive so you can just shuffle and go.

I do sometimes wish there were more cards. The game can sometimes feel formulaic, particularly if you play it a few times in a row. But the game is well balanced as it stands and adding more cards would make the game less tight.

The Count of Nine is one of those Print and Play games that I would say, if you have the slightest interest, make it and try it. It will be worth the work. It’s not perfect but it’s a pretty cool nine cards.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Mon Aug 23, 2021 8:18 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Flipword - my new go to pocket word game

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Flipword is the most recent nine-card word game I’ve looked at. It’s not a huge field but I’ve seen at least five of them so there’s an interest there, at least for designers. And, to be honest, it is the best one I’ve found in case you don’t read anything but the opening paragraph.

It’s a print and play game originally from the 2021 Nine-Card Contest. All you need to play is the cards and some way to keep score. The core concept of the game is dead simple. Each card has a condition on each end and both sides, so four conditions on each card. And by condition, I mean some kind of rule that a word has to follow. Be seven letters, end in T, have exactly two vowels. That sort of thing.

There are rules for a base game but there are also nine more rule sets for playing with the cards. There’s competitive rules, solitaire rules, cooperative rules. They all involve having three (or two or even four) cards out and coming up with a word that fits all the conditions. One actually has players have their own hand of cards, which was neat.

Last year, I tried out and really liked a nine-card word game called Word Chain. The first player comes up with a word and each card involves coming up with a new word that builds from the word before it. I think it’s a really killer design with vast replay value since changing the first word changes the entire game.

But Flipword has a much greater ‘one more time’ factor. I start playing it and then I keep playing it. It is more accessible than Word Chain and I _think_ simpler. I like the design of Word Chain more but I have more fun with Flipword.

Flipword is a game that takes up basically no space, either to store or to play. If you keep score in your head or just play for fun, all you need the cards. It is super easy to teach and should work for non-gamers and casual gamers. So, it’s been added to my travel bag.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Fri Aug 13, 2021 8:47 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

A Rusty Throne is a war game for folks who don’t know war games

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I am both the perfect audience and the worst commentator for A Rusty Throne. It’s a solitaire war game that feels like it was designed for those of us who don’t know much about war games. (My war game days were back in high school and that was a…while back)

It’s a PnP game. There is a board, which takes up only one page and consists of nine areas, and a small deck of cards. Beyond that, all you need is ten tokens for you and ten tokens for the AI king.

The idea behind the game is that the king has gone insane and you’re trying to take over the island kingdom. You know, in order to save the kingdom. I’m sure A Song of Ice ans Fire didn’t inspire the theme at all. Your goal is to control all four of the castles in the board. You lose if you lose your home castle.

The game is entirely card-driven. The cards have symbols for combat, actions for the king and command points that you pay for your actions.

There are actually only two actions in the game. Adding forces to a castle you control and movement. Combat happens when troops live onto an enemy-occupied space. And combat is pretty simple and symbol-based. Swords remove troops. Shields block swords. Then add up surviving troops and bugles. Higher number wins and the losing troop is shoved off. If there’s nowhere to run, they are destroyed.

While the game is simple; even for someone like me who isn’t war game savy, it is very procedural. The hardest part is getting all the steps in the right order without missing any.

I have to note that the game balances you being able to think and the king taking actions (sometimes randomly) from cards by making the king a lot stronger than you. The king outnumbers you at the start, goes first (which is particularly strong in battle) and has a higher stacking limit.

One lesson even I have learned is that you are not going to to win if you charge in Leroy Jenkins style. The AI king is stronger than you and you are going to have to use finesse to win.

A Rusty Throne has been an interesting experience for me and it is a game I plan to go back to. Frankly, between the relative ease of play and construction, I think this is a game that you should make and try even if you are just a little bit interested.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Mon Aug 9, 2021 8:08 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

A war I’d never heard of in nine cards

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
One of the things that I enjoy about print and play is that you get to see some very experimental designs. I don’t know if Charles versus Peter is actually that experimental. However, since I really don’t play war games, playing it counted as an experiment for me.

The game is about Charles XII of Sweden’s invasion of Russia in 1708. So, the first thing I learned is that Sweden invaded Russia in 1708! The game was part of the 2020 9-Card Contest so the whole game is conducted with nine cards and a bunch of dice.

Oh and it’s a solitaire. You take on the role of Charles while the random number generator gods take the part of Peter.

One of the nine cards is used tracking the status of seven different things. Your supplies, the state of your artillery, the state of your cavalry, the state of your infantry, Peter’s military might, how many key cities Peter holds and what season it is. The other eight cards have maps on one side and tactics and events on the other.

I’ve tried to summarize the rules a few times but every time, I keep doing a bad job. I’ll try to just give an elevator pitch.

There’s two ways to win. You either need to reduce Peter’s military with absolute crushing victories or take over enough key cities. And pick a path to victory and stick to it. There’s not enough wiggle room to try for both. You roll dice pools to wear down a map card’s defense.

When you build the map, you reshuffle the cards you leave behind so you never run out. It’s like building a train track by ripping up the tracks behind you. You have a hand of cards in the tactic side. Events pop up when you move, as you’d expect.

There’s a lot going on in nine cards. Terrain, events, weather, etc. I still haven’t done a good job describing the game but I’ve only taken two paragraphs instead of seven.

I will say it feels like it’s easy to end up in a death spiral. Once you start falling behind, things get worse fast. Which is apparently historically accurate. As I understand, Peter wore Charles down and disrupted his supply chain.

Charles vs Peter isn’t my new favorite game but it was an interesting and educational experience. I can’t judge how good a war game it is but I feel like I learned a little something about war games.


https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2344413/wip-charles-versus-...
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Fri Aug 6, 2021 10:40 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

My July R&W

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
At some point, I’m not going to have learned enough Roll and Writes to justify a monthly commentary. I really expected to hit that point before now. But, nope, not yet.

The first R&W I tried this month was Halloween Roll and Fright. I’m not sure where I actually found it. The board is a six by six grid. You roll three dice and assign two dice as coordinates and the last one as a map element. If you roll doubles, you can check off Halloween critters on a list.

It… wasn’t good. Between the restrictions that the dice have you and placement restrictions, I found I actually didn’t have a lot of control or choices.

Next up was a game called Maztec Duel. It was from one of the R&W contests and, from what I can tell, was designed to as PR for a larger game. You used two dice to make several steps of picking out and placing buildings on a grid. It reminded me just a little of Elasund or Blue Moon City in that building took multple steps.

But they crunched the rules down one page. Great for duplexing, laminating and done. But not great for making the rules clear. Even looking at the design forum and other people’s questions, I’m not sure I got it right and constantly looking for clarification dragged the game down.

Then I tried another contest game, Assault on the Colossus. If it wasn’t inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, I don’t believe it. I liked the theme of climbing up a giant monster to kill it but I felt like the dice determined everything and I didn’t have any real choices. There is some dice manipulation but it still felt like there one obvious choice or no choice.

After those three games, Puerto Miau was a relief. A roll and move and write game, Puerto Miau is simply okay. However, it is a fully realized and functional game. Contest games are very much prototypes but it was still nice to play a game where the rules were clear and I had choices.

(At that point, I stopped trying to learn new Roll and Writes and revisited 30 Rails because I was worried it wasn’t as good as I remembered. Fortunately, it was even better)

After that, I started trying Roll and Writes that were more established.

Radoslaw Ignatow’s Time Machine (easily his least inspired title) has you use two dice per turn to set the dials on the time machine. The settings plus connections between dials generate a number which you use to move down the scoring track. Bigger numbers are better but ending on specific points gets you bonus points. I enjoyed it but I felt like had a lot less control than his games with pools of six dice.

As I wrote elsewhere, I _finally_ played Utopia Engine. And it was really good!

The last game I learned in July was Castles of Burgundy the Dice Game. While it doesn’t hold a candle to the full game, I could see how that game inspired the dice game and I did enjoy it. As a solitaire game, my initial impressions are strong.

I know that August see not nearly as many new R&W experiences but there are still unplayed games in the pile.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.con
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Aug 2, 2021 11:08 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My July PnP

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
July.

I tried to make good use of time in July and it was a particularly productive month.

This is what I made:

Alert: All Hands on Deck
Circe’s Labyrinth (2018 Solitaire Contest)
Race for the Solar System)
Elevenses for One (minimal copy)
Handful o’ Hoodoo
Capital Vices with expansions
Deadeye Dinah (2021 9-Card Contest)
Flipword (2021 9-Card Contest)
Mini Flipper (2021 9-Card Contest)
Kart Dungeon (2021 9- Card Contest)

Capital Vices was my ‘big’ project for the month. It’s been on my ‘to make’ pile for months and it was finally time.

Beyond that, I made or remade a bunch of smaller card games. My copy of Deadeye Dinah had gotten crinkled so I made a fresh one. I wanted a beater copy of Elevenses for One that would fit easier in my wallet so I skipped the backs and the timer cards. (It’s easy enough to keep track of time in my head)

I’m pretty sure August won’t see as much PnP making as July did and that’s fine.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Aug 1, 2021 3:20 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
5.05
 tip
 Hide

Utopia Engine justifies the hype

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I’m honestly not sure how many years I’ve been meaning to learn Utopia Engine. It’s been one of the darlings of both the Print and Play and Roll and Write worlds for ages. And I finally got through a game of it.

I have tried playing it a few times over of the years but didn’t seem to click in my head. To be fair, each individual piece of Utopia Engine is simple. It’s that it has a bunch of moving parts. (Well, a bunch compared to a lot of Roll and Writes. It’s not many compared to even a medium weight Euro)

In Utopia Engine, you are an artificer in a dreamy, post-apocalyptic world that feels a little like Jack Vance’s Dying Earth gone steampunk. The world will end but you can stop that from happening if you assemble the fabled Utopia Engine. To do that, you need to gather legendary artifacts that are lost in fantastic lands, activate them in your workshop, assemble them and finally bring the Utopia Engne to life.

Each step in Utopia Engine is kind of like a mini-game. You need to explore the wilderness. You will inevitably have to fight monsters in the wilderness. You have to activate the artifacts you find in your workshop. And you have to connect them together in order to make the actual Utopia Engine.

Now, I can see how someone could find Utopia Engine pretty dry. The basic mechanic is use dice to generate numbers and subtract them. You want a small difference in the wilderness and a big one in the workshop. But after I went through the wilderness and the workshop once, it all clicked and I was into it.

(For some reason, my mental calculator kept thinking I’d be rolling two d10s. Two six-siders compressed the numbers and made them easier to manipulate)

The game actually felt like an RPG campaign for me. Each artifact gave you a bonus power and the biggest monster in each wilderness area can drop special equipment. So, as the game moves forward and time runs low, you also get more powerful.

I ended up liking Utopia Engine a lot. There’s a lot of both storytelling and game compressed into two pages, plus two dice. And I felt I had some actual say in what was going on, particularly once I started getting some of the special powers.

Utopia Engine is now over ten years old and folks still speak well of it and (other than its sequel Beast Hunter) there really isn’t anything else like it. It’s not for everyone but, particularly considering how easy it is to try, I think it’s worth experiencing.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Mon Jul 26, 2021 4:32 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
1.05
 tip
 Hide

30 Rails just keeps getting better

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I recently tried out some shorter, simpler Roll and Writes. Honestly, it was clearing out some backlog, although I am always hoping to find another 13 Sheep.

And the amount of decisions ranged from either limited to not really there are all. Which wasn’t all that surprising. That’s one of the dangers of game designs and these were basically prototypes.

But it made me ask if some of the PnP, R&W games I’d liked before are as good as I thought they were. In particular, 30 Rails. After all, the game has you randomly roll coordinates and rail shapes.

So I pulled 30 Rails to give it another spin. It had been a while. Either I’d have fun or an educational disappointment.

So, yeah, it’s good.

I regularly describe 30 Rails as the love child of Take It Easy and Metro and I see no reason why I should stop.

You have a six by six grid in 30 Rails. After you seed the grid with five impassible mountains, one mine and a bonus spot, you put a station on each edge. Your goal is to connect stations to each other in the mine. That’s how you get points and points are how you measure how well you do in the game.

Each turn, someone rolls two different colored dice. One die determines which column or row you are going to add a track in. The other determines the shape of the track. And yes, you determine which die is which before you roll them.

I just tried several games that used to days as coordinates. Now, you would think that only having to choose a row or a column would make a big difference in your range of choices. You would be wrong. It makes an enormous difference. And, in 30 Rails, if you filled in both the column and the row, that number becomes wild.

There’s actually a lot in 30 Rails that lets you make meaningful choices. You get some say in how the board is set up. Everyone gets an override that they get to use once for each type of dice. Heck, you get to rotate the track shape, although just about any tile laying game lets you do that.

However, comparing using two dice to get a maximum of two options with using one die to get a maximum of eleven options (and a potential wild mechanic built in), that makes the difference between a good gaming experience and a bad one.

I went back to revisit 30 Rails to see if it was as good as I remembered or if experience would reveal terrible flaws. And what I found was that the game was actually better than I originally thought.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Jul 22, 2021 4:31 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [14]