Friday, November 30, 2007

Game Night

Friday Nov. 30, 2007 - Game Shoppe
I headed down to Bellevue to meet up with Mike Garrett for a bit of gaming. Didn't know if anyone else was going to be able to make it, so I brought along a number of different games. I was the first to arrive and after a quick look around, I went ahead and grabbed the new Power Grid deck as well as Race For the Galaxy. Now, there is a chance I could get these for Christmas, but I'm taking no chances ;). At any rate, Mike Garrett gets there and we sit down with another Mike and Scott to play some games. We started the night with Edel, Stein, and Reich - one of the Alea small box games that I've been interested in trying for a while now. Mike described it as a Hoity-Toity-Rock-Paper-Scissors-with-an-auction-bidding-mechanic, which is pretty much exactly what it is. There are four colors of gems (red, yellow, green, blue) that score you points at the end of each round if you have the majority (or tie for, in which case you get half). Reds are worth more than yellow, which is more than green, which is more than blue. When you win the majority, you also give back 1/2 of that color (or simply 2 if you tied). There are 3 rounds. Each turn of a round, you get a card face up in front of you and one group card. The individual cards have number of gems, as well as a $$ value. The group card is either a certificate, or a special action of various usefulness to anyone. Then each person selects an action which will be revealed simultaneously later. You can either go for the gems, the money, or the action/cert. If you alone pick that choice, you get it. If three or more pick that action, nobody gets that action. If two people picked it, they bid their stash of gems back and forth until one player takes the offer from the other player. The "winner" then gets the action. After 7 turns, there is scoring and you go to the next round. I liked this much better than Hoity Toity, because the bidding/auction mechanic makes it more gamey or something. I liked it enough to win by a good amount at any rate. We next switched gears as the other Mike got out The Downfall of Pompeji. I really enjoy this one and its quick. The only part I hate is the setup of the cards. As per my usual - the omen cards all ended up in a clump on top of the AD card :(. Whatever. Anyway, we had loaded up the board and started running. Jason Sato had taught me the key to winning this game - get at least one guy out EVERY round. Unfortunately for me, Mike also got a load of guys out. We checked the volcano, and tied! So a tie game it was. Next I pulled out Q-Jett and Heath sat down with us for a quick race. I think Mike Garrett both likes and hates this game, as he always seems to get screwed. This was no exception as he fell short of finishing the race one space! It was pretty tight, but the other Mike managed to cross just ahead of me. Mike and Scott then wanted to play Condottiere. I hadn't tried this one before and was interested. It felt a lot like Ivanhoe to me. They aren't really the same, but they really scratch the same itch for me - I'll stick to the one I have. BTW, Scott won this one with a quick connect 3-areas victory that we couldn't stop. Finally, looking for something short to end the night, I pulled out Exxtra to try. I hadn't had a chance to play this yet, so I was quite glad they were willing to play. As expected, it was fast - fast enough that we played twice. Scott pulled out to a commanding lead the first game and won easily. Luck went badly against me in the second game. I placed a 76 on the top score twice and twice had it knocked off. I also rolled a 75 and it too got knocked off. Mike Garrett managed to roll his way to a much closer win to end the night. After playing, I think I like this better than Can't Stop. Its faster, with less downtime and is just as fun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Finished a nice close game of Tikal yesterday with Jason Maxwell and Matthew Frederick on Matthew bid an awful lot early and spent a load of guys to lock down two temples, which may have hurt him later on. Jason tended a bit more towards the treasures than either of us, which probably was a factor in his winning. I tried my best to lock down temples to keep them from scoring for Jason and it looked like that plan might have worked, except I made a critical mistake at the end of the game. I let Jason win the last round's bid, thinking to cost him some precious victory points in what was shaping up to be a close game. However, that clever plan let Jason slip me into the lead going into the last scoring. Going last was not going to win me the game and Jason won easily. Jason won 113-106-101 (I could have scored 107, but I didn't want to redo my turn again knowing I couldn't win). With Jason going in front of me, I missed scoring a 6 temple that Jason might not have scored. Still, it was a close and tense game.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hell Hounds and Spiders

Next up on the paint train are the spiders and hell hounds. I really went minimalist on the spiders. Brown paint with a small amount of yellow for the the regular ones, and black with red for the masters. Then I decided to go back and dry brush some silver onto the black ones body. It came out cooler than the pictures make it look (and I just noticed I got the crappy brown spider in front center - good job!).

For the Hell Hounds, I went with a bright yellow base, then did a red mane and orange dry brush for the masters. The base units simply have an orange mane with white dry brushing. The picture actually looks better than I think the units turned out. The yellow was waaayyy to bright. Oh well, things still look better than unpainted.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Ok, so the one thing I really hate about BattleLore is the setup. Even having all the pieces in Plano cases its still a hassle. Its also a small hassle to move your units across the board. Until now. Inspired by this thread, I decided to try out making magnetic bases. I looked into the GF9 bases, but they were a bit costly as far as I could tell, so I went to Michael's and bought a couple of rolls of magnetic tape. I cut out little bases of illustrator board and "mounted" the tape to that. Another piece on the bottom of the figures and voila. Its definitely solid enough to lift the whole unit easily. Though it looks intrusive in the picture, its really not that noticeable. And yes, I started painting the units. I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible - a couple bands of bright colors and a wash.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Too Many Rules

I have too many games and not enough time to play them repeatedly. In fact, its very rare that I ever get in multiple playings of a game at one sitting - the exception being when I see my sister and we play a few face to face games of Blokus or Ingenious. At any rate, the problem this causes is that I often play games where I am either completely unfamiliar with the rules, or at least don't remember them all. Case in point - my latest playings of Descent. After the playings, I like to review the rules if the game is complex. In re-reading the rules I found that I had (again) forgotten to collect threat tokens (as the overlord) when surges are rolled (two surges = 1 threat token). Not only that, but the last two times we've played, we played with the monsters at an easier level than we should have (we used the card for the number of heroes, not number of players).

Descent is not alone - I always feel like I'm forgetting some rule. Sometimes, its an important rule, sometimes its some side case or a tie-breaking condition. How do some people keep all the rules straight?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Journeys in the Dark

Saturday, we got together to play a game of Descent at my place. Attending were Mike Garrett, Steve Wicklund, Justin Kosek and his friend Ben, and Justin Easley. I played Overlord again and Mike and I picked the same scenario we tried our last time out. This time, there were of course 5 heroes (4 new to the game). Mike spent a good amount of time with everyone picking characters and we tried to explain the basics of what everything meant. After a bit of time, the group felt they had a good balance of characters - two tanks (Easley and Ben), two magic users (Kosek and Steve), and a rogue (Mike). I had read a bit about playing against 5 heroes and eventually settled on using 1.5x4-player monster HPs. This seemed to work out well and was pretty balanced, though still a tad on the easy side for the heroes. Things started a bit slowly, as Mike discovered that his combination of skills and weapons meant he couldn't do much damage despite his ranged abilities. Coupled with the new players feeling things out, the first few rounds were slow. Once everyone figured their guys out and how best to use them in concert, things sped up a lot. Easley's tank was nearly overpowered with his ability(Knight) to spend a couple of fatigue points to move two spaces and then attack three times! Plus each time he used this ability, all adjacent firendly figures gained fatigue back. Ben's tank was also nearly as lethal in that if he killed a monster, he could spend a fatigue to then conduct another attack against an adjacent monster (he also regenerated a fatigue each turn). Kosek's character raised my cost to play cards by an additional threat token, but otherwise, his and Steve's mages were as expected - heavy ranged damage dealers. The kick to Kosek's character was his ability to do a ready action and then give that to another character (often to a tank that had already taken out a load of guys). It quickly became apparent that my two best assets were going to be: spawning beastmen(the command ability of the red beastmen is nice) and hitting the group with traps. I got into play the Trapmaster card, which let me reduce the cost of traps as well as up the damage, and set about trying to trap the group to death. Things seemed to be pretty even, as I couldn't seem to kill anyone, but did burn through the threat cards once, scoring conquest tokens (BTW, my run of bad luck with the Hellhounds continues as I still am oh-fer in successful breath attacks). The group countered the loss of conquest by activating a glyph. The group got to a chest which scored them more conquest, but I balanced that out by killing Mike. This was far and away my favorite kill. I hit Mike right after he got an equipment card that effectively gave him hand grenades. I hit him with a control curse, which allows the Overlord to use the character to make an attack. I, of course, used him to attack himself. Easy kill! ;) The group activated another glyph to gain more conquest, but I was then able to kill Kosek, leaving the group 3 conquest tokens. Sadly, it was at this point that the group pretty much all needed to go. We really were only 1/2 way through this scenario, and in my best guess, it could have gone either way. I had a good chance to try and put a hurt to Easley's tank, which would have netted me enough tokens for the win, but the next area also offered multiple things (chest and glyph) which they might have gotten to first. We had to call this one a draw. With two plays under my belt now, I have to say this: I like this game. My only real complaint is the time factor. It takes a bit of time to get started, and it takes a couple turns for the players to figure out what is going to work for the party. It also takes a couple turns for the Overlord to figure out what isn't going to work for him. Once you have the mechanics down and can look at the dice to quickly determine the result, things speed up a lot. We played for a solid 4-5 hours and were only halfway to completion. That's a lot of time to invest in a single session. On the flip side, nobody realized how fast the time was going, which was a good indicator we were all completely absorbed by the game.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When Enough Is Not Enough

I counted 19 in my collection. It comes with one. I printed another 3 (two are mounted and I will mount the third when I figure out how I want to do it). That's 4. I have (2 copies of) one from a spielbox magazine, but its supposed to be for 7 players (who would play 7-players?). That's 5. Then I have 7 expansions (each being two). Four of those are the "official" expansions and the other 3 are licensed. I have played a measly 8 of them. And yet... There are more out there. 30 official ones listed on the BGG. A LOAD of PnP ones as well. There are some I have little to no interest in and some I will NEVER bother trying to get because only a few hundred were printed for Essen each year. But, there are still more I'd like to add to my collection. I'm not sure why. Because I can?

I am of course talking about Age of Steam maps. This part of my game collection is probably the second most expensive part of my entire game collection (behind my stupid Heroscape collection). I finally ditched the AoS box (well, it sits on the shelf as I'm not just tossing it) and have a hanging file folder box I use to keep all the stuff in. All but one set of maps fit in it (the one being Ted Alspach's Disco inferno maps, which aren't creased and I haven't wanted to bend and rip them). At any rate, there is just something about these maps. I love looking at them. They really are not "artistic" or fancy or even attractive - at least not in any normal sense. Some games have great maps that you could easily frame and hang as artwork. Not these ugly things. And yet, I still need more. There is something of a debate in the AoS community about expansion maps and what they "should be". Some designers are using the AoS game as a framework and altering enough rules that their map is almost a re-design. Some designers are just putting out maps of areas that are either interesting to them or "their locale". I prefer the traditional maps myself, though I do like Ted Alspach's twists on the game as he doesn't tend to deviate really far away from the base game (Disco Inferno not withstanding). I played a prototype of Matthew Frederick's "Ants of Steam", which was fun and a bit different than the norm, but I think he's pushed that on the wayside. At any rate, there are a number of maps I'll still probably try and get (Steam Brothers maps). I can only hope I finally get to play them all at some point...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tikal Head-To-Head

I just finished up a two-player game with Jason Maxwell on We played with the auction rules and he killed me 169-153. It was the first time playing two player for both of us and the game has much different dynamics than the three and four-player version. Jason managed to score a basic monopoly on the treasures - getting a whopping six sets of three to my ONE. The treasures are much more important here than when there are other players. He got a lucky break and tripled up early and then used his powerful score to keep me out of the other tiles with treasures. The second thing I discovered is that unlike the multi-player games, guarding a temple early is not a benefit. The shear number of temples means that there is not as much fighting over them. Guarding temples early on gave me good points, but let Jason maneuver his men into better positions later in the game while I struggled to distribute my remaining pieces. I think a guard early may only be truly effective in two-player if the cost is one or two men, and its a 10 or 9 point temple. Which brings me to the last point - in two player games, you are much more likely to get all your men on the board. You have a lot more time and action points over the course of the game. Spending men to guard a temple is therefore expensive. You especially don't want to blow your 3-pt piece as he allows you to jump around swinging temple points easily to you in the scoring rounds.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Descent Beastmen

Ok, so after playing Descent, I decided to give it a go with painting some of the figures and the first round is now done. It came out pretty decently I think. I kept its simple and with the understanding that I'd be hitting it with a black ink wash at the end, so I tried for brighter colors than I normally might have used.

This first shot shows the beastmen after spray painting them. The paint I grabbed had a satin finish, which wasn't quite what I wanted, but ended up ok. I'm going to try my best to find flats for the rest.

Here we have the guys after a couple swipes of paint. Some of my paints are a bit old and not "strong" enough - I had to use multiple layers - that's too much work for this sort of thing. Apple Barrel paints are so cheap, I may just buy them fresh going forward.

Finally, here is the finished product - figures after the black ink wash. It really makes the details on the figures stand out - too bad my photography skills suck.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Opps, I Did It Again.

I started another project. I am the king of getting started. Please don't ask how many things I start and don't finish. Maybe that's why I like blogging - there really isn't an end. Ok, so after playing Descent, I thought to myself - "self, those figures would look way cooler with a bit of paint". So yes, I started painting. Just the beastmen for now. I spray painted them a base brown. I've added gray/white hair to the normal and red/orange to the master versions (to keep something of a "red" theme to those pieces). So far, so good. I need to probably hit the orange hair again, then do the loin clothes. Then I'll do the bands on their legs/feet, and maybe the little doll on their waist. Finally we'll end with a quick black wash and be done. At that point, I'll likely never finish the rest of the set ;) The painting thing is something from my youth I've never been able to shake, but with the internet, there are lots of hints on painting that makes this much easier. Plus, I'm just not anal about it like I used to be. After looking at the Heroscape figures, I realize that they can be a bit sloppy and not matter. Winter is coming, so maybe I'll get more done.
Maybe I'll finish all the other projects I have lined up: Atolla and all the other print and play stuff I need to do. Then, to top it off, I found a back issue of HS Codex that shows how to make really cool custom bridges for HS. Man, I really want to make some.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

AZ Gamers Tikal

Just finished a game of Tikal on with Matthew Frederick, Jason Maxwell and Dion Garner. Jason had only played once before and not the auction variant, and it had been forever since Matthew had played (not sure if he played auction variant either). The bidding got a bit out of control early on and Matthew took himself out of contention fairly early. I capped a 10 and 7 in the early mid-game and rode that to a comfortable win. Don't put too much into that given the inexperience. I'm going to see if these guys want to go again, and I'm sure that things will be much tighter. Final scores: Matthew 59, Dion 85, Jason 90, Charles 106

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Game Night

Friday Nov. 2, 2007
This was Mike Garrett's birthday and he had wanted to get together at his place for some games. I had suggested Descent, knowing that everyone had wanted to try this out, and he agreed. Unfortunately, once it came Friday night, only his friend Dave from Lincoln was able to join us, but we plowed forward anyway. Knowing that we might only have 3 players, I brought along my copy of San Marco just in case, and Mike suggested we start with that, so we did. Dave had not played before which probably helped me to win by a good margin. Mike got killed for the second time in a row, which just seems to fuel his enthusiasm for the game.
Next we unpacked Descent. This is an interesting dungeon crawl that, like a lot of Fantasy Flight games, takes a playing or two to get through the rules and bits. If you stick with it, you are usually reward with a fun experience. This night, I played Overlord to Mike and Dave and lead them through an adventure that I had downloaded of the internet - Betrayal of Ismondor. This particular adventure has a good amount of self deprecating humor and tongue in cheek dialog. It got the prescribed laughs and WTF's as I started to read, as I had not warned the guys ahead of time what was in store for them. The first encounter looked to be daunting, but they worked through it in good order and though I had initially played it conservatively on them, I started really trying to hammer them after they danced through the first area. Dave's character had an ability that cost me extra threat tokens and some of the monsters I spawned initially were not so tough, making for a fairly easy time for the heroes. Too bad for them that the first treasure really sucked. As they started the next area, the started getting in slight trouble. The trouble really happened when I was able to spawn two sorcerers - which seemed to be a bit overpowered relative to the cost, but I made due ;) Unfortunately for our heroes, the sorcerers proved to be too tough and one bad round by Mike let me make my second kill of the night. Had they been able to finish the second area, things would have dramatically gone the other way. Oh well, maybe next time.
Being that we now had time for one more game, we decided to finish with another playing of San Marco. This time things were not going well for me. I was banished off the board a lot, and Dave shot way out in front. Going into the last round, I was a good 20+ points behind Mike and Dave, who were within 2 pts of each other. I must have done a super job dividing things up, because I came from way back to end up winning in the final scoring. It helped that Dave missed a chance to score 8 pts near then end and that probably cost him the win. It also helped me that I had the final banishment of the game and needed a two or three to benefit. I rolled a two. So there is a small amount of luck in the game, but as long as nobody spends all night agonizing over the choices, it really plays in about an hour and is well worth it.