The Jaded Gamer

Opinions, not always positive, on the gaming world.
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LOBstercon Nov 2012 Blog Post 4.5 of 5

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
"She said the same thing about waffles."
Microbadge: Offline from The Geek for a while
I apologise for the half number, but after the epic description of our play of elect-em-up, Die Macher, I decided discretion was the greater part of valour. It's possible that you think that 5 hours of German politics is all you need for one day's gaming? You would think wrong.

Here's what else we got up to afterwards.

Tichu: Scott agreed to help me out with a 10:100 play, along with Chris and another gent called Richard. Thanks guys! Luckily we managed to get back into this game as a competitive partnership before the call for dinner happened thanks to a my first ever successful face to face Grand Tichu call.
I've made the call before - everybody gets desperate or excitied - but I recall being (very unluckily) bombed or unexpectedly trumped every time I had done so previously. This understandably makes me very reticent about taking the risk on our partnership's behalf unless a long way behind.
In this game, as you can guess, we were a long way behind and despite one very odd decision (namely to pass an Ace to my partner while receiving another in return) that made ridding myself of the 4 in my hand after the 2 quite challenging. Luckily things worked out and we got back into contention. Sadly this game was curtailed while we were still behind, but it served as a great reminder why I enjoy it.

Puzzle Strike: With everybody else at dinner, Chris and I played two rounds of this wacky combo builder. The puzzle chips were randomly drawn and there were plenty of attacks with only one blue chip available. In this circumstance the draw of characters can be decisive. I drew Rook and won easily using his Gem inflation skills and timing a couple of major 4 gem crashes alternating with combine/attack chains. Then he requested (as per multiple game rules) that I change characters - unfortunately for him I drew Argagarg, the attack specialist and butchered him again, raining gems into his pile far quicker than he could deal with them. Midway through this game we were offered teaching, by Jeff, of...

Dungeon Lords: Of course, I took him up on this immediately for two reasons.

1. Vlaada Chvatil. Galaxy Trucker, Through The Ages and Space Alert are three of my favourite games by this wizard of design, and I had heard good things about this one too. Since I have played most of his games and enjoyed them, this one had been on my radar - especially since it gives you the opportunity to smash up some irritating camp heroes.
2. Jeff. Despite both being fixtures (though in my case an increasingly absent one) at LoB we'd never met. Bizarre. This needed to be fixed and in the way that only playing a two hour eurogame with an evilometer can.

Luckily, Jeff knew the game like the back of his hand and despite Chris and I staring in ignorant impotence at the (extremely well explained) training scenarios like five year olds having their ice cream witheld until they answer all the across clues in the Times Cryptic crossword on a Sunday afternoon, a little bit of his training managed to penetrate our Die Macher fogged minds.

And so onto the game. We were joined by a fourth player of course, who i don't know if they are on BGG so I won't talk too much about them - but was excellent company in the way that only someone who repeatedly tells you they will lose can be (she didn't lose, either, if I remember...).

Now - Dungeon Lords is like other Vlaada games in that there are two distinct acts in each round. In Space Alert there is planning and resolution, in Galaxy Trucker there is building and flying (read: exploding). Unlike those examples where a frantic and desperate free for all is followed by something more structured, Dungeon Lords is split into a simultaneous worker placement game (building your dungon, hiring monsters etc) and a subsequent step by step hero bashing game using what you already built/hired.

Let me talk about the negative factors first - while by all accounts the rulebook is hilarious, there is an awful lot of front loading required on the rules to make the game playable. Also, I had a niggling feeling that there should be more options for the budding dungeon masters than a random trap or one of two randomly drawn rooms, but I am entirely sure that this would introduce too long a play time for a game of this type.

So onto the good stuff. As usual, the components are excellent and do their job admirably. Especial kudos is due for the imps being actual imps - the oddly shaped minions aside I found exactly the right balance is struck between functionality and theme.

And the gameplay is good too. The worker placement mechanic feels inherently higher stakes than the old fashioned "you place one, I place one" school and therefore I found it more compelling than, for example, Stone Age for this reason. It also has the added bonus of reducing AP time while the next player soaks up the implications (geddit? IMP-lications?) of your last placement. YAWN.

The evilometer is pure genius and it is the manipulation of this that managed to ensure I was visited by no wizards or healers for the entire game, only picking up a thief in year two after I had altered my method of hero munching to a very technical "Golem and Demon just punch them as hard as they can" strategy. Because of my canny use of the evilometer...
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I KNOW! I did something gamey! Watch out for porcine pilots!

I managed to only have the thief - who incidentally cancels trap damage - after discarding my last trap on "monster pay day", a day when i also fed my witch to the Demon, making my outgoings virtually nil in useful terms, the goblin and the witch being wholly superceded by the Golem's repeat attacks before I fed them to the Demon. I can only imagine what they thought as they entered the room with their "payment" only to find out they were the centrepiece for an all night buffet!

And so my Golem and my Demon wiped out the year two adventurers in short order, meaning I had only lost three bits of corridor throughout the whole game and since I had invested in rooms with bonus points for both the Golem and Demon, as well as for each title I received I ended up winning...
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wait... I won? Yes reader, I know it's hard to believe, but I won a proper game of something. Have a lie down if it's all too much for you. a considerable margin, obviously as a result of going against every natural instinct in my body and thinking about points scoring above all else.

I am usually a really bad winner so I attempted to keep my rising pride in check and went off to lose at something to restore the status quo.

Bausack: After a day with a play of Die Macher and another of Dungeon Lords in it, I decided (after a couple of dexterity plays of Riff Raff - a game far too average to write about) to indulge in another couple of plays of this wacky fun time. Bausack is a big bag of seemingly pointless wooden shapes, and enough different games to play with them to keep you diverted. We played both the auction variant and the building chain variant. I won neither so I knew we weren't entering the end times. While I like the actual building part of the building chain variant, I have to say the actual choosing of parts was a little bit drawn out. I do like this game a lot though, and knowing the parts well is a distinct advantage since I have experience of trying to be balance most of the parts on most of the others.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Top Tip! It's all about surface area down towards the bottom and having a place to put little tricky bits (in the egg cup, gaps in the building etc)

So Saturday turned out to be our most serious gaming day. This is the great thing about a major con style get together - you can experience the length and breadth of gaming and STILL have half a day left over at the end.

I'll post the final day's playing and my thoughts as a whole tomorrow. It's not much of a spoiler to say it is an entirely positive review!
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