Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Long Awaited Return - part I

Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah! WTF?! It has been since like July 7th? Where you been? Ok, I've been busy. Let us see if I can catch up on some session reports (assuming I can remember and my notes make any sense at all). First we have to set the Wayback Machine to June 19th. That particular Friday evening, I headed over to Erik Von Burg's for some early gaming while his wife went out for diner. We chose to play a little Runebound since it was only the two of us, and I figured it was a game I wouldn't normally get to play. Erik is a big fan, so that helps. We played the normal game (skipping any of the expansions Erik has). Erik ran into trouble right off the bat and died 2-3 times while I cruised around. I eventually got myself overpowered and on my second red encounter, killed the Dragon King and won the game. We headed over to the Gamer's Inn after that and snuck in a game of Tichu against Rob Smolka and Steve Bauer. Erik and I never seem to have any luck when we partner for this and this night wasn't an exception. We lost 1095-550. I'm pretty sure the match wasn't even that close. Erik took off and I wasn't sure if I was going to stick around or call it for the night, but Steve had brought along Space Alert AND a CD player, so I figured I'd at least try it out. Besides Steve and I, we were joined by Gary Passmore, Noah Antwiller, and Dan Brugman. This game is basically a pre-programmed co-op game (robo rally meets pandemic). The mission briefing comes as a timed audio track during which things are announced and the players scramble to lock down what they will do and when. Then when the allotted time is up, you play it all out and wonder how things could get so screwed up. We played the training mission (and won) to get the gist of the game. Then we set out to handle the Advanced Mission #3. We also won this, though there were a couple times we all thought that wasn't going to happen. Space Alert was dripping in theme and fun, though it isn't one that I need to play very often - I apparently am take it or leave it when it comes to programed move games.
Between then and July, I played a bit of Heroscape (always with Marvel Heroes and Marvel Customs), Epic Duels, Killer Bunnies (and Kinder Bunnies), Pokemon, Blokus and Doom with my son and/or the rest of my family. I did one session report on a Heroscape game already. For the most part though, I'll probably not detail out those. Suffice to say, my son has been earning new custom heroes as weekly rewards and he has a ton of guys now. I'm not sure I'm keeping up with my inventory. He still has another 21 heroes to earn and he's also getting another dozen or so Batman customs here in a couple of weeks for his birthday. As fun as Heroscape is, to me the comic book guys raise it to another level of entertainment. I'd be done with Epic Duels except for two things - Star Wars and 15 minute play time. It is sooooooo simple I can't believe it is so highly sought after. As far as Pokemon goes, I can't say enough good things. I managed to get a steal-of-a-deal on some cards off craigslist and have built 8 or so decks out of the cards and swapped some cards into existing decks my son and I had. Really, this is a beaut of a game. Deck building is ridiculously easy and the game plays out quickly and without fuss, but the variety of cards keeps it just interesting enough. I truly understand the allure of CCGs and have to force myself to avoid running out to buy retail boosters. The best part is we just have fun playing it.
Jumping forward to July 10th we find ourselves at the Gamer's Inn for another Friday night game night. This evening I brought along Timber Tom to try out. Steve Bauer and I were joined by Dan Brugman and a new player whose name escapes me. Timber Tom is basically a puzzle/race game played out on a 3D game board with some of the most overproduced pieces. It scratches the same itch for me as Ice Flow (another over produced race/puzzle game). It isn't a bad game by any means, but it just misses the mark somehow. I think it needs a minor variant to really make it a great game (I just don't know what that is yet). I managed to beat out Steve for the win by one turn, but I'm sure it was because I got a "wild" card that let me have a crazy turn of extra space movement and basically clearing all the obstacles from my path. After that was over, Matthew Frederick and Amelia Boli and I sat down to play Runebound (which they expressed interest in trying out). It took us a while to get going as I was explaining both Runebound and Confucius to another table of players. Eventually, we settled in and ran around the board. Amelia had a TERRIBLE streak of bad rolls (she was channeling her inner Rob Smolka) and died like a half dozen times. I think we eventually got to a point where Matthew and Ameila both conceded the game to me (I was the closest to winning and they had very little chance to improve their lot). It is amazing how much longer the game becomes with three players. Definitely a fun game, but its a bit of a reach past two-players. When we wrapped up Runebound and Confucius we all jumped into a 9 player game of Time's Up!. We broke into three player teams (I only remember Matthew, Amelia and I together and winning) and had a pretty good time. There are always a number of funny moments playing this game and this was true for this game too. Like Noah giving the clue - "The capital of Texas" and following that with, "No, the other one" after his team said Austin. Steve and Erik were on one team and got the card "Bill Belichick" all three rounds. The first time, Steve had no clue and Erik knew it as one of his original cards. After that, a shrug from Steve nailed that card in 0.5 seconds for the second and third rounds. Love this game.
Moving on - a while ago I got Caylus Magna Carta in a math trade. I had never played it, but heard comments that it was the faster brother to Caylus (much like San Juan and Puerto Rico). This appealed to me more than learning Caylus, but it had sat on my shelf until July, 17th. On that evening, Nathan Winchester popped in to pick up some games that had finally shipped to us from Boards and Bits and we managed to sneak in a game. The rules seemed straight forward enough (though of course we promptly forgot one rule). I enjoyed it and would like to play it again with 3-4 people as I imagine it plays a bit differently. Nathan pulled out the win 30-26 before heading home.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Whatcha Doin? This and that...

Summer is busy! Work, and 4 day a week swim lessons for the kids has kept me busy. That and taking advantage of my pool on the weekends, but I digress. Hey! Remember me? Um, yeah - cause you are me. Not likely to forget that. Why are you blathering on instead of writing a weeks old session report you still owe us? Owe who? Whatever. Cause I feel like blathering. Anyway...
Ystari games announced a set of expansions called... The Ystari Box (clever!). At any rate, this has expansions for: Caylus Magna Carta, Amyitis, Yspahan, Sylla, Metropolys, and Rio Grande announced it would include Mykerinos: The Nile as well. Sweet! Sweet? You dumbass, you only own two of those (Mykerinos and Caylus Magna Carta). Yeah, but I want Metropolys and I've heard Amyitis, Yspahan and Sylla are decent games. So? You still haven't tried any of them except for Metropolys - in fact, you haven't even played CMC (or the real Caylus). So? Never having played a game has never stopped me from buying! Less picking on me and more blathering!!
I finally got my copy of Timber Tom yesterday. For those that have heard this is a nice looking game and drooled over the pictures, all I can say is - the pictures offer no justice to what you get. I agree with the blathering idiot - it is pretty impressive. And I don't just mean that the 3D board is awesome (it is), but everything is top notch. The box is really sturdy (and surprisingly light despite its size). The cover art is impressive. The interior is the first time I have seen an insert that was perfect (ok, it might be a bit large). The insert is cut foam so there is an exact place for all the components. Player mats? These are the kind that one would normally make to "pimp out" a game - they are foamboard with cutouts for all of a players pieces. This is really a top notch game presentation. I hope the game is decent. I'd be really sad if this was a "Front Porch Classics" type game. Front Porch Classics? Like the three you own and display in your collection? Shut it!
Speaking of Cult of the New - I just can't seem to get enough Heroscape. Erik and I pitched in on an order and I finally got a couple of the Ticalla Jungle sets. I also got one each of the wave 9 set. I'll eventually want to get more I'm sure, but for now I'll need to see what these guys can do. This to go along with the two new castle sets I got. And the 4 boxes of Minions and Drones I found at Walmart. I thought you were all into the HEROscape thing. Give up on that already? Nope, not at all. But, I did get a pretty good sized collection of them. I have 34 more Marvel heroes and villains (on top of the 10 that come in the official Marvel set) and a common squad (S.H.I.E.L.D Agents). That includes the entire Fantastic Four, a rouges gallery of Spider-Man villains, some X-Men, etc. You have all the X-Men? Um, no. Avengers? No. Brotherhood of Mutants? Sigh - no. Magneto? No. Geez, really? You don't even have Magneto? What about The Masters of Evil? Well, you did say Spidey-Villians, so you must have the Sinister Six then... Well... Oh come on! Don't start in on me! There are a number of incarnations of the six and well, I just don't have Kraven or the Vulture yet. And now Ashton is asking about Batman guys, so DC is coming soon. What about Carnage? Ok, so all these guys are Heroclix guys - Carnage is a rare or some crap and sells for like $15 - a bit much for one retarded guy. Ashton is not getting Carnage.
Speaking of Ashton. Besides Heroscape, I got to teach him Doom the other day. Teach? I think he took YOU to school! Well, yeah that's true. I've read over and over that the marines get the short end of the stick, so I was going easy on him. I gave him extra armor and didn't attack him unless I was adjacent. I explained that he won if he found the red key and got to the exit. I told him I won if I fragged him 6 times. 6 is apparently a lot to him, so he didn't mind at all getting killed. It also helped that his abilities let him cancel three of my cards and let him walk through my bad guys. I killed him like three times, which I think just helped "jump" him towards the exit faster.
I also taught him Zooloretto. He doesn't understand the concepts fully yet, but he gets the basic mechanics well enough. Despite snagging males and females of all the species I had, I still only managed a point more than he had because I forgot to fill out my 10pt area.
I'm starting to realize that he can grasp the rules to games. I could teach him another dozen games pretty easily, but he hasn't developed enough to understand anything besides some very basic strategies (so in many ways it is like playing with Jerry, except that Ashton is 5, so I can forgive him - Jerry is just annoying). Recently we've played Epic Duels (which is so retardedly simple I'm not sure why there is such a big following - really, it is a basic game and skirmishes are 10 minute affairs), Runebound, Mutant Chronicles - there are a dozen more that are easily in his grasp I'm sure. You just said that. Yeah, I'm getting tired now. Time to end the blathering.