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W. Eric Martin
Game designer, escape room expert, and director of the Brantford Games Network Scott Nicholson recently tweeted the following:
How true! Rare is the game that includes rules like "The player who just opened the box has won." or "Whoever has the largest hands wins." (Exception: Start Player) After all, a game that doesn't push you around is hardly a game at all. The rules of the game constitute an artificial environment, and when you undertake the playing of a game, you submit yourself to those arbitrary, yet ideally internally consistent rules that comprise that world. You lay down cards that punish you, move into spaces that deny you, and contemplate choices that discomfort you — all in the service of trying to come out ahead of your fellow travelers.
Almost every game presents you with choices, and your willingness to engage those choices is what it means to play a game. Even the simplest games — in this case Bandido, by Martin Nedergaard Andersen and Swiss publisher Helvetiq — are driven by a designer's choice to make your life more difficult. An (apparently invisible) bandit is attempting to tunnel out of jail, and you and your fellow players need to stop him.
Why would you do this? This bandit doesn't even exist, and even if he did, you're probably not employed by a law enforcement agency and have no responsibility for maintaining this person's incarceration. On the off-chance that you do belong to a fictitious police agency, you'd probably gas the tunnels with a sleeping agent or tear gas to render the bandit unable to attempt any further tunneling.
But no, that's not your way. Instead you will each take three cards in hand — cards that represent both the tunnels being created and the dead ends that prevent further movement — and you'll take turns laying down a card to extend (or stymie) this tunnel network. You might not want to play one of the cards, but you must. You have engaged this game, perhaps even on your own since solitaire play is possible, and now you must follow through.
Naturally as you take turns, the tunnels must observe some minimal level of verisimilitude. You can't abut a tunnel with a wall of dirt. If you could do that, you could negate play by stacking the deck of cards on top of the bandit and asphyxiating him. Follow the paths, narrow the routes to freedom, and hope to plug the holes.
Don't do this
As the game progresses, you realize that in some ways you're simply counting holes. How many ways can this guy reach freedom? Five? Can I make a play to cut that number down to four? Can I keep the holes close to one another so that someone else can bring that number down to three?
Bandido is a simple game, marketed for players aged six and up, and I've now played the game on a purchased copy a half-dozen times, with players counts from 1-4 and with players as young as five. You might think about figuring out the odds of making this play or that, but I've hardly memorized the deck after six plays, and you're just playing the odds over and over again anyway. Maybe the next player has a card perfect for the situation and maybe they don't.
"What now, brown cow?"
The rules are silent on whether you should talk about what's in your hand or indicate where someone might want to play, and while that absence will surely annoy some, I figure that each group will do whatever it prefers, which might be what they would have done anyway. I've played with adults in silence and with kids in total cooperation with face-up hands. It doesn't matter. You do what you want to do, and as long as all the players agree, then you're taking on the burden of those difficult lives together, each suffering the same burdens and part of the same world.
The number of tunnels shrinks and grows. You might see the net closing, then someone shrugs — perhaps you — and says, "Oh, well" as they triple the number of tunnels in play. Sometimes you benefit by narrowing the bandit's options. If everything becomes gnarled underground, you might be unable to play at all, in which case you can place your hand of cards on the bottom of the deck and draw three anew. Will you find better choices or a tunnel you'd never want to play, but must?
If your life wasn't difficult enough previously, you can give the bandit six starting tunnels instead of five. Why didn't he dig six starting tunnels in the first place? I don't know; why'd you lock him in a jail surrounded by loose dirt? I suppose you just wanted to make things difficult for yourself...
As you can see - this blog will include two weeks of first impressions, including some games I played whilst exploring board games cafes in Winnipeg, Canada. My new job has recently got very, very busy and we just aren't getting the chance to play new games very often. However, who needs to play lots of new games when you find one that you can see becoming a new favourite? Mainly we've been playing some of our older games, but here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;
Wasteland Express Delivery Service is a pick up and deliver game which definitely evokes the world of Mad Max with its post-apocalyptic theme. You have a truck which you can upgrade to hold different cargo, allies, weapons and shields and you will deliver goods around the hexagonal terrain, sometimes encountering raiders and raider trucks who might have useful goods but also attack you and damage your truck. You need to complete different contracts to win the game, by balancing the way you use the market and the time you invest upgrading your truck. There was definitely a learning curve to the game, but I imagine that in the future it might actually be a pretty quick game that packs in loads of theme, strategy and options. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Wasteland Express, in spite of how much we were checking the rulebook and getting things wrong. I can't wait to play it again and I just hope it plays as well with two players so we can play it a lot at home.
Escape Room: The Game is a game I was really excited to pick up whilst travelling in North America. I won't spoil anything inside the box but our first play of Prison Break was my favourite escape room board game yet. It is the one which feels most like a real life escape room because you're looking around an image of a room for clues. I guess my only complaint would be that it's slightly over produced with the big machine that takes keys and tells you if you're right or wrong. The puzzles were just hard enough but not too frustrating that you get bored because you have no more ideas. I can't wait to try the next 3 scenarios.
Gemblo is an abstract game, which is basically hexagonal Blokus. We played with two players where you take two colours each, so it is essentially a 4-player game. You have different tiles in your player colour which are each different numbers of joined hexagons, making unique shapes which you must fit on the board following placement rules. Your aim is to get rid of as many individual hexagons as you can - the person with the least remaining is the winner. Unfortuantely we found that the shapes and placement rules in Gemblo did not make it easy to understand how to block other players or reserve yourself some board space, especially in the early game where it felt like placement was almost random. With more players, perhaps the opportunties to play tactically arise more often, but since we play frequently with two we will stick with the traditional Blokus, which feels far more logical with more control.
Nautilion is a solo game in the Oniverse series from Shadi Torbey. I typically never play solo games, but I have been addicted to the Onirim app recently and on this ocassion, I found myself alone at the Across the Board cafe in Winnipeg. In Nautilion you roll three dice per turn and assign them either to move your submarine forwards on its exhibition, move the ghost ship forward, which will act as a timer and assigning one to the Darkhouse which inflicts damage on you. In the basic game you need to collect one of each number token which starts off as a really easy endevour, but tokens are removed by the ghost ship when it lands and sometimes you will only roll big which skips out your opportunity to gain other tokens. It was quite an addictive little game that I played three times in a row until I won. If you like solo games, this one definitely works as a lightweight option.
Win, Don't Lose is a game I got the opportunity to playtest at a cafe in Winnipeg. I really appreciated a couple of local playtesters approaching us and we actually tried two games. Win, Don't Lose is a light party game, a bit like Fluxx, but seemingly with less ability to drag on forever. There is a deck of cards with different abilities and different point values, both positive and negative that you can play infront of you or other players. The first person to achieve a preset point total wins. There is some humour in the cards, although some of the references weren't that apprent to an English player. I wouldn't choose to play Win, Don't Lose again, but if you like Fluxx and want something similiar it could be a good choice and I believe there is a print and play file available on BoardGameGeek.
It may not be obvious that my new favourite is hopefully Wasteland Express. Unfortunately I have terrible luck when I find a new game I love and it now seems to be out of stock! (The same thing happened when I first played Terraforming Mars.) Luckily we've added it to our Dinosaur Island Kickstarter pledge and we'll get two awesome games at the same time. We're also playing through Escape Room the Game at a ridiculous pace and I'm regretting not buying the expansions whilst I was in Canada!
Please check out thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk for more weekly reviews from this UK-based board-gaming couple.
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It is time I shut up about this project. I will look to remain quiet for an undisclosed period of time, and see what I can do, without announcing to get a viable product to market, that can sell sufficiently in order to be sustainable and build up a fan base. I am now going to go into game development, and look more online. When I get more together, including a budget for development, and a few real good games approaching killer app level, I will then proceed. All this will be done without the help of anyone I don't know, and even those who do. It stands to be a do it yourself project, and self-made, in what I need to do.
So, I will shut up awhile and develop away from eyes of strangers, until I am presentable enough to be able to kickstart something.
Lord of the Rings: The Duel is a little two player game from 2002 in the Kosmos line. It's been knocking around the house for a while and I was keen to try it out, but it kept getting bumped as, well, it's a little old and plain looking. Over four rounds players play cards attempting to get a big enough gap between them at the round end so as to move their 'Gandalf' or 'Balrog' pawn a step or two (or three) up the 3D bridge and closer to claiming victory. I actually quite enjoyed our play and of it and was very much put in mind of, and now don't laugh, Twilight Struggle during the game...
The reason this elicited such a response in me was down to the card play.
In Twilight Struggle (and other Card-Driven games) players must agonise over playing cards that will often offer a benefit to their opponent and, in a very simplified way, this is very much the case here as well.
Each player has their own deck of (27) cards and will draw nine of them per round, playing six and sending three towards a stack for the final showdown (seeing more similarities with another card driven game - 1960: The Making of the President there as well). Each card has four spaces on either side with a symbol either lit or dark. When cards are aligned the players assess the struggle with light vs light cancelling each other out and any uncancelled lights resulting in a move downwards on the track. Once each player has played their six cards (or a player's cube has entered the negative area of the track) the round is over and the difference between the cubes results in a player getting to move up the bridge. Should either reach the top before the final round then it's an instant win, otherwise the final round is played using all nine cards that have been sent to their respective stacks and scored the same; highest on bridge wins, with a tie being broken by whoever won the final round.
Several of the cards have powers on them (you might call them 'events' if you were wanting to further highlight the similarities between two seemingly totally different games...) which allow for some re-ordering of the line or general skullduggery between the players.
Thus the entire game is an affair where the cards you hold have distinct strengths and weaknesses and you must try to play them (for you must play them) at not just the time of greatest benefit to you, but when your opponent is not able to capitalise to their fullest on your weakness (each player has an 'exhausted' card that has four unlit spots on either side, a terrible card to play at any time!) With a simple 27 card deck for each player it's perfectly possible to learn each of them and play at a highly strategic level.
There are further similarities to be drawn right there, and this little game is also one of making small, incremental gains and attempting to hold them, with occasional opportunities to make a crushing move to tip the balance.
There have been several recent releases of small and micro games (13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis, Twilight Squabble, 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis amongst others) that have attempted to distill that delicious tension and fine balancing act that you find in these big GMT card driven games into a small 30-60 minute experience but it's quite possible that one of the best examples was actually created before the TS masterpiece came into existence.
Lord of the Rings: The Duel is the type of game you're likely to spot for a very cheap price secondhand and it's well worth a go. If you in any way enjoy the experience and tension of it then you should perhaps investigate these bigger, deeper, richer and highly rewarding titles also.
"You shall not pass!"
With the new 2e page gone live, we're working hard to get the releases and everything else out as soon as possible.
To update everyone:
1. 2e Rulebook was downloaded another 13 times on the 1e page (which is odd...) for a total of 223 times and now has a total of 101 downloads this week on the 2e page. I'm very happy with that and hope people like the extra tweaks and pages to explain the core parts of the game - namely Enemies and Adventures
2. The Enemy book is released on the 2e page today!! I uploaded it for mods yesterday evening so we should see it later! It has been downloaded 131 times now on the 1e page.
3. The 2e Adventure Book releases NEXT Saturday Sept 30th on the 2e page. The cover is looking lovely and I hope you'll enjoy the myriad of new Adventures that have been added. I'm especially proud of the new graphics we've added and the places you can visit.
4. The 2e Events book is a massive beast it has to be said - an enjoyable one to get through, but a slog nevertheless! It's shaping up well and I will be 50% through the first draft and 25% of the way through with the edits! This is going to be a HUGE 64 page book with loads of new content and pics. I am going to say this will come out on Saturday Oct 21st...
5. Twitter - 38 followers now (only 1 more this week ). I'd really like the 2e page to be publicised so please retweet for me!). I not only post about DWSSG stuff but also rate the DW stories I've been watching and share a load of my pics from the amazing Doctor Who Experience! Follow me: @DWSSG01
6. Markus is still making some great support material for the game which we hope to see in 2 batches - Oct 7th and October 14th in the weeks between the Adventure Book and the Events book being released...
7. As always, I'd love any feedback on the DWSSG2e project. Since the 2e page is now live, if supporters of the game could mention it on a blog, other site or forum, I'd be very grateful. I know Jacob is doing a great job here and we have a blogger:
rose0 has also started a G+ community for the game too: https://plus.google.com/communities/109344833209587275630
So everyone join up and share?
Now the 2e page is live, how about leaving a rating and comment so we can get DWSSG2e officially 'rated' by BGG. Let's generate some interest folks!
See you next week
Welcome...to my Shed!
Twocunts Play At That Game
Death will, shortly, be raining from the skies; so, because it's good to be prepared, I'll be packing the family, food and board games (in that order) off to the Secret Underground Bunker(TM). It's important to keep oneself occupied as the hot plasma aftermath boils and sizzles the Earth's atmosphere, so my current draft list of board games is:
Agricola - the greatest board game of all time and an excellent reminder of the techniques we'll be reverting to when the first rays of natural sunlight return to the barren ground after the two-year tropospheric blockage clears. We might even manage to play Farmers of the Moor again too (but probably not).
Spot it! - this handles the seven of us pretty well plus we can be reminded of items that would now be forever lost to us: trees, birds, dolphins, carrots, hands with just four fingers and a thumb on, spiders without 6ft-across abdomens etc
Keyflower - perceived (by my lot) as lighter and less-stressful than Agricola, Mr B & Mr B's Pilgrim Fathers-themed magnum opus takes us to a gentler, more rural age; to the real-life expedition that (ultimately) set us all on the path to planetary oblivion. With lovely pictures by Juliet.
Glory to Rome - what better way to anticipate the monumental task of rebuilding Civilisation than starting with this garish nod to the rebuilding of a single City. This would also be something I'd be guaranteed to win at...at least for a little while.
Scrabble - with our restricted diet - and our tongues corroded from our mouths by contaminated water - we will be forced to invent a new, gutteral language; Scrabble will allow us to preserve a semblence of written beauty...especially given all those extra arms we'll be growing.
Copies of all of the rulesbook of my games PLUS the top 100 games on BGG not already-referenced - it's highly unlikely most of the other designers will survive the End Of Days, so I'd be well-equipped to design these gems for the future generations; ubiquitous, I'd emerge from the charred ruins a shining (that'll be the Uranium, I expect) gaming Archangel - a prophet to lead us in to a better future.
Have a great rest of the day, y'all!
Painting weekend! Ana's has taken on herself to paint a couple of divisions in the house, while I did what I always do during the day. Alice/meals/house stuff/etc... Dad had to leave earlier than expected, so when nap time came, Ana took the painted warrior's sleeping couch for herself and I took a trip to Mars!
Setting up Terraforming Mars!
I'm back to the Tharsis side of the planet. And I'm back with the Teractor Corporation. I always draw my stuff randomly and don't take it back. I guess that's why we still have unplayed boards from Kingdom Builder: Nomads to play!
Anyway, the Teractor guys didn't help me that much this time, save for the huge starting money. Rarely did I see the Earth tag on useful drawn cards. After the already familiar lack of events in the first 3 or 5 Generations, I began to delineate a plan in my hand with the cards in hand. It involved energy. A lot of energy! Titanium would be the second goal to pursue in order to fuel some powerful asteroids/comets. But energy was the key. With energy, I would be able to pump the ore processor and ironworks early in the game to increase the oxygen in the planet. No need for fiddly plants and greeneries!
Maybe there are aliens on the planet?
The plan worked and the O2 was at 14% after 10 generations! And that was the extent of my activity on the planet... That, a restricted area and a lone greenery, built to get the bonuses underneath. The money production never really increased and several turns I was forced to not buy cards in order to play the ones already in my hand. The titanium production never came trough so only small asteroids (promos!) were dropped on the surface.
Presence on the surface, via cities and greeneries might prove to be essential in order to increase your options every round. I can't depend solely on the cards next time... This game is great! And soloing it, makes me aware of how much fun it is to build your engine, evaluation pro's and con's in the available actions. So far, it made little impact in my enjoyment the fact that I haven't beaten the solo mode. The journey towards the 14th Generation is truly a remarkable experience.
After puzzling how to terraform Mars, I moved to a different puzzle. How to beat the tetris master, Patchwork Automa! But no luck yet...
Setup remains the same, with the addition of a single marker on the board, depending on the difficulty level. Play remains the same. The one furthest back on the time track is the active player. When the Automa is in this situation you draw a card and resolve. The Automa will either have enough buttons to buy one of the three pieces in front, or don't. If not, he'll take the Advance and Receive buttons, but receiving no buttons for it.
If he has the "cash", he'll pick one of the pieces according to the value and/or one of the three tie breakers depicted in the card. It couldn't be simpler really. Flip a card, take a piece. That's it. The Automa marker still moves on the time track just like yours and still receives buttons when passing the income icon, but in a different way (also depicted in the card)
The icons are right on par with the rest of the game and the little fiddly parts you have in a normal game of Patchwork remains on the same level when playing solo. For my first game I played on Level 1, where you only have to make +7 points in the end to beat the Automa (or less if you manage to take the 7x7 bonus first) I didn't... He beat me too it and I only scored 3 points. Excellent addition to the game. It will definitely squeeze a lot more plays out of what's already an excellent abstract game!
And yes... when there's painting in the house, the collection has to move!
Thanks for reading and see you soon!
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard
7 Reasons Why Everyone Needs To Start Playing Modern Board Games
Board Gaming is such an inclusive, interesting and engaging medium which has distinctively stood out on its own and survived especially in a world driven by communication technology, console and computer gaming. Over the last ten years the number of board game ideas being produced and coming to fruition has increased exponentially. More and more people are being drawn towards the nostalgic and social value of board games.
I pondered the other day about why I love board gaming and how board games are a hobby that needs so much more attention. Here's a few reasons I came up with.
Top Benefits of Board Gaming
1. There are a plethora of alternative modern board games to the classic ones most of us played as kids.
2. Board games foster great social interaction and help strengthen our relationship with our family, friends and peers. Board game designers have used this social dynamic as a mechanism in many modern board games.
3. Board game design has improved significantly. With more play testing and better game mechanics, modern board games are much more intuitive.
4.Board games are more immersive. They are now being sold as unique experiences much like when you buy a ticket to see a concert, sports game or theatre show.
5. Board games have immense educational value.
6. Art in board games are now both collectable, functional and now inclusive towards particular gamers of different gender, cultures and backgrounds.
7. Quality Time with the ones you love. Enough Said.
King of Prussia
The phrase Shelf of Shame pops up everywhere. Every podcast seems to mention their Shelves of Shame quite a bit, lots of reviews mention it as well, and when talking to other board gamers the topic often comes up.
There seems to be a few different versions of the term depending on whom you are talking to, so first I want to get MY definition out there. A Shelf of Shame is a virtual shelf on which resides all the games in one's collection that have not been played. Ever. I say virtual shelf because my games are all intermingled on a couple of shelves, I haven't literally relegated the unplayed games to their own shelf. Yet.
But that is not the only rational for a SoS game. It is not enough that it is merely unplayed, I must WANT to play it. Otherwise it is not shameful.
So, here is the first of many lists detailing my Shelf of Shame games. This list will start chronologically, with games purchased in 2014 or earlier.
1) Dominion: Dark Ages - I bought this when it came out in 2012. I was at the height of my Dominion phase and relatively new to gaming. Unfortunately every time I played with a new player we stuck to the basic sets, and more experienced players... well, they didn't want to play Dominion any more. So I couldn't get this played. I'd love to play it by itself instead of mixed with other sets. I'm sure one day I will get it played.
2) Red Dragon Inn - This is probably the game that I have spent the most money on without playing. I may have spent more on all Dominion sets combined, but I have played most of those several times. RDI is a different story. I have purchased RDI 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as well as four Allies packs. And I think I have played my copy of RDI once. I have played other people's copies several times. The problem is, that everyone who would play it with me owns it and we always play their copy. Also the fact that it is in the HUGE storage box means that, while I love the big box, I don't often feel like lugging it around to game nights. Sigh.
3) Samurai - This is another game I bought early in my gaming life, way back in 2013. I was rapidly trying to expand my collection with several different types of games, so along with staples like Agricola, Carcassonne, Castles of Burgundy and King of Tokyo I picked this up. Sadly it got lost in the shuffle of those other games. I have played the iOS version hundreds of times. Finally, in 2016 I finally played a game in real life. Unfortunately it wasn't my copy so that doesn't count. The really sad part is that I kinda really want to buy the new Fantasy Flight version that just came out. But even I am not dumb enough to have two copies of the same game sit unplayed on my shelf.
4) Kings of Air and Steam - I really want to play this game. I really want to love this game. I know steampunk is a little played out now, but Gosh how I do love it. Zeppelins and trains working in unison to push colored cubes on a modular board? YES PLEASE!!! I don't know why I haven't played it. Mostly I think it's that I don't want to have to re-read the rules AGAIN. Maybe it is because I am afraid of it disappointing me. Grrrr...
5) Marvel Dice Masters - I kind of liked Quarriors. I feel like this fixes some of the issues with Quarriors. I love the dice. But I didn't know anyone that ever wanted to play, and didn't feel like playing strangers competitively. Fortunately I nipped it in the bud, only buyin one starter kit and a few boosters. I didn't buy the second starter kit or any non-Marvel sets. I am tempted to buy the Spiderman set just because I love Spidey. But I probably won't. Of all the games on this list, this is the least likely to ever get played. And that makes me a little sad.
I got a nice set up question on the simultaneous blog on Consimworld. If I think the conversation is informative, I'll include it here, and vice versa from here. Apologies if anyone reads this twice on both sites:
I'm very interested in the Konrad BCS game. I have the Szamveber book "The sword behind the shield" that has a lot of details, but I think is difficult to comprehend the type of T34 tanks (T34/76 or T34/85) present in the soviet units.
Indeed it is difficult to tell which type of T-34's were used as Szamveber does not say. And the reason he does not say is because the original Soviet records he's using do not breakdown the differences. I have those original reports for the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts that give manpower, horses, weapons, and equipment. While it breaks down number of Rifles, Sub-machine guns, Machine guns, and mortar and artillery types by caliber, there's only a single column for tanks. And even in 1944-45, the Soviets were still using models of T-34/76 in their units alongside T-34/85.
See this sample of the Soviet 18th Tank Corps, column 20 is the number of tanks... that's it. Even the Guards Heavy Tank Regiments would just list number of tanks and not say what type. You'd have to look at other sources to know that actually had IS-2's.
So for BCS game purposes, since Soviet Tank and Mechanized Brigades were severely depleted at this point (see the numbers above... a full strength tank brigade will supposedly 65 tanks would only have a fraction of the tanks) they are represented as Dual units where the brigade is a single counter (battalion-equivalent). I made Tank Brigades with a higher Armor Value rating (simulating more T-34/85) and hard dual unit. Mechanized Brigades would have a slightly lower Armor Value and non-hard dual. While some Mechanized Brigades may have had more T-34/85's than T-34/76's (there's no way to guarantee this and tanks would come and go as they were destroyed, fixed, or received new ones), the need to lower the AV than the Tank Brigade was to allow Tank Brigades to be predominant "armor" unit.
Recall that Tank Brigades would have three small tank battalions (21 tanks each) and a motorized rifle battalion. Mechanized Brigades would be reverse with one tank battalion and three motorized rifle battalions. Represented as a single counter (AV number + assault arrow) we lose some of this ratio feel hence the need to show the ratio through varying the armor value number and making sure the tank brigade is hard (yellow unit symbol) to show that it was predominantly tanks.
So... long answer (I do that a lot), but yes, there was no way to differentiate between T-34/76's or T-34/85's.
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