Monday, February 28, 2011

Thunderstone Randomizer Updated

I finally got around to updating my online Thunderstone Randomizer. I added the Doomgate Legion expansion cards as well as the promos from the Promo Pack (I had already included the Clan Promo and the Death Sentinel Promo in the previous release). I like the way it has turned out so far, though I'm less happy with the code backing the web page. Too many moving parts and validation pieces make it a pain to update and each new set that gets added makes the testing for combinations / correctness a huge pain in the butt (permutations are a pain to test).

With Dragonspire hitting the shelves, I'll probably update this again soon while the little nuances are still fresh in my head. Then I'll go check and see what the other apps are offering and what suggestions / features people have asked for. I need to figure out the Google API for databases so I can add a feature to save card sets after you generate them (that way if you find a really good combination, you can replay it). I suppose I'll have to figure out some logic for making a "smart" deck builder (for the wimpy people out there that have to have items and heroes that directly match up to the monster cards).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friday Night Gaming

This weeks gaming started off with my introducing In the Year of the Dragon to Nathan Winchester and Robert Bolan. Though it is ok, this game wore itself out on me really quickly - possibly because of the double dragon strategy. At any rate, I wanted to teach Robert and Nathan so we could add yet another game to our online repertoire. I started and took the double dragon (and ended up losing). Nathan took a double dragon in the second round. I tried to hold him off with a load of dragon ladies mid game, but his houses were beating me and in the end, he had too many people in his service.
Erik Von Burg came over as we finished up our game and mentioned that he hadn't played Thunderstone, so I pulled it out for the four of us.  We randomized everything in the base set and Wrath of the Elements. We ended up with three fighter types and a thief type in the hero pile. In the monster pile? Pain Elementals, Undead Doom and Spirit, and Death Traps. The village wasn't terribly interesting except for the trainer - everyone but me was grabbing them and burning through their militias for XP. The hero piles all disappeared pretty quickly. I had managed a couple of early kills, but got stuck a little in the middle. Nathan had come on strong, but a rash of traps killed of a number of his hard earned heroes. I started grabbing ambrosia each turn just for the pure VPs and when we added it up, I had indeed bested Nathan. Of course, Erik managed to best me - by one point. And of course, having played sparked my need to dig back into the code we started working on for randomizing the decks. I just need to update the village list and I'll have incorporated the Doomgate Legion and promos. We'll see if I ever get around to Dragonspire...
We finished the night by having Erik teach us Powerboats (which I picked up on Erik's recommendation). This is a fun little race game with some odd three sided dice. I pushed my luck a few too many times - however I managed to finish all the races, unlike Erik who blow up in the third race. Since dice were involved, Nathan didn't win this one - Robert did.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Catching Up

Theme good! Game - so so
Well, crap. My last post was Smell the Glove? Well, ok then - away we go. Robert Bolan came by at the end of January for a bit of gaming. We started out playing a couple of games of Hive. I really enjoy Hive because  it is short and yet tense and interesting. Robert and I managed to split games before Erik Von Burg stopped by and we setup Arkham Horror. We played and managed to win, but in trying to convince Robert that there is a decent game here I think I just managed to convince myself that there is too much stuff around an ok game. I like the theme, but it seems to be a lot of work for what is roughly the same payoff as Pandemic. We all kind of wished the end had come about 30-45 minutes sooner. Oh well.
Try and guess what this game is about
A week later was gaming at Rob and Michelle's place. I finally got to play Before the Wind. This is a little card game where you are trying to collect sets of cards (goods) in order to meet the requirements/wants of the ships (which earns you points). You are trying to balance collecting the goods and earning money to buy goods and space in your warehouse with what your fellow players are doing. We only had three players (Rob, Amelia and I) and I think this one would be better with four players. Having said that, even with four, I think this one isn't anything special. After Before the Wind, Erik arrived and so Amelia and I played a game of Empire Builder. I had managed to acquire a copy of the new edition for something like $22, so I had brought it along to get it played. This was my first playing of any crayon rail game. I'll have to say that it was also just ok. Though it has been a while, I'd have to say I think I like Dampfros better (which isn't a true part of the crayon rail games). The components of the newest edition are way better than the older ones, but the game was a bit longer than it needed to be.
2006 Spiel?
In the world of online/PBEM gaming, Nathan Winchester, Robert and I have managed a few games. We started with a game of St. Petersburg which I pretty well ran away with. We then moved on to Thurn and Taxis. I had only played Thurn once before, so had to refresh myself on the rules. The interface to the game at is really really well done and made it much easier. Unfortunately, I suck at this game. Nathan has managed to win both games we've played online and I have managed to be last both times. I'm getting a better feel for the game, but I can't figure out why it won the Spiel. It doesn't seem to be anywhere near the class of game like Ticket to Ride. Maybe it was just the other craptacular choice in 2006, but I'm not sure I'd have even suggested this one. Vegas Showdown and Ingenious are both FAR better games than this. Thurn is good, but not Spiel-good.
Is AoS on its last legs with me?
Anyway. Last week was my monthly manager meeting at my office. We have one manager that flies in and likes to play games and another from Tucson we've coerced into joining us. This month, I introduced them to Steam. The manager from Tucson (Deborah) may have been in a bit over her head, but she picked it up as the game went along. The other players were Robert and the out of town manager - Danielle. Danielle is pretty sharp and also picked a starting spot away from the rest of us. Having played quite a bit of AoS and Steam, I had a distinct advantage over three newbies and easily won this one. I hope the next time it will be closer as this is a game that is very satisfying to win against good opponents. I've also decided that I prefer this to AoS. the goods market and urbanization are much cleaner in Steam. I don't even mind that there isn't an auction. I'd be willing to play the auction version, but it doesn't hold the same tension since you can take money whenever you need it.  After Steam, Deborah had to drive home, so Robert and I taught Danielle Thurn and Taxis so we could try and suck her into our PBEM habit. Danielle won and I (continuing my reverse dominance of Thurn) was last.
New favorite in the C&C series
And the last game of this round up is the Battles of Westeros. Erik and I both had this past Monday off for President's Day and so he came over so we could try out BoW. BoW is the latest in the line of Command and Colors based games and I have to say is now easily my favorite. I didn't read the rules - Erik did and based on that I'll go with - not good. I printed out the Universal Head summary and I think having that (and having played every other game in the system) helped. Erik was the Stark side and I took the Lannister as we played the first scenario. It came down to the last round and I was not able to capture both of the hexes that the scenario required. Basically this game is more of the same from the C&C series - hexes, order a unit, move and roll some dice to combat. The trick is - the ordering mechanism is different. You roll the dice to start each round and that determines some of the unit types you can move. You also get a certain number of cards for each round you can use them as well in conjunction with any leaders you have on the board. The end result felt LESS luck driven than the previous C&C games (where you can have a hand of LEFT cards when you need RIGHT or MIDDLE cards). Not only that, but you may have the ability to rally (reset any army to accept orders again that round) your troops, which can make your play much more tactical and less "well, these are the cards I have". The box says it is a Battlelore game, but it is WAY better (and without the stupid magic cards). Heck, they might have just as well said it is a Battle Cry or Memoir 44 game. The dice are different. The ordering is different. It really is as different as it is similar to the other C&C offerings. One of the things I really liked was the theme. It did a good job of integrating the Westeros mythos without having just paid lip service to the theme, nor having shoehorned it. It is just a good fit. This is now a must have for me and I'd happily trade off my BL stuff when I get this.