Yesterday and today – a boring blog post title

Yesterday Justin and I had an initial look at Gloomhaven. After punching out all of the cardboard, we went through the first scenario to learn the game. Justin died turn two of the scenario which with the clock running out for the day, was a convenient point to call it a day. I think we achieved the main aim of the session to get familiar with the basic rules. We now need to find some fool hardy adventurers who are able to commit to a regular gaming session. Which we will probably do early in the new year.

Today was the last day of college for our students. So for those that were due in I ran a Magic the Gathering tournament. I put up four Ixalan boosters as prize support for the top three, then a couple of land packs from bundles as prizes for like the saltiest player, or the friendliest player.

We used Challonge to keep track of the tournament and results. For this tournament we used a round robin (ie each player would play everyone else once) structure, with each round being a single game. After 11 games, I ended up second with a 8-3 win ration.First place won with a 9-2 record, and was running a mono red burn deck. I was one of the two loses it suffered. Which if I had won my last match would have given me first place. But so many times when my opening hand is lacking and I don’t mulligan and chose to play with it saying “I’ll risk it for a biscuit”, it usually doesn’t work out. I really must stop doing that.

The students had a great time, one even bought in his pimped out gaming rig and his HTC Vive. So there was some vr stuff going on at the end of the tournament, plus one or two multiplayer games of MtG. I played a couple of games of Magic using a couple of the Battledecks from CardKingdom. I really am enjoying the latest one I have from them Uproar, which is designed to abuse the etb ability of cards. To be fair I’m enjoying the Battledecks more than I enjoy the official preconstructed decks (excluding the Commander ones). The Dino Might Battledeck is also a fun red/green aggro deck that I played against the Uproar deck. The great thing is the incredible price of $9.99. Playing a couple of these decks afterwards was a fun way to finish off the days tournament.

Epic Sagas

I know the postings have been sporadic this week, especially since Wednesday. But that’s when things got busy.

I had to miss this months monthly meet up for the Fenland Gamers because my local cinema The Luxe was running a Star Wars double bill. They started off with episode VII The Force Awakens at 8:30pm. I knew I’d booked the double bill, so when Netflix added The Force Awakens recently I avoided watching the movie so that it would be more fresh on the night. A plan that worked. I think this was the first time I had been at The Luxe since the change in ownership, the new screen and projector. The viewing experience has definitely improved. No more annoying mark/tear on the screen. There were some dressed up people at this showing, the cinema staff were also. The young lady behind the counter serving drinks and selling/printing tickets was dressed as Rey. She had done an amazing job. An hour after The Force Awakens at five minutes past midnight it was onto the midnight release and the first showing of The Last Jedi. I’m not going to put spoilers up. I enjoyed the movie. It could have been a bit shorter, a tad too much humour for me.

The problem with a mid week midnight showing like this is work the next day. Luckily after just short of 4 hours sleep, I managed to make a flask of coffee to help me stay awake through a days hard work watching student presentations, and then crawl my way into work. I do love this part of the course I teach on. Students pitching their game ideas as professionally as possible. It’s cool to see them dressed so smartly. Plus the ideas they come up with are really interesting, and imaginative. By the time it was time to go home having seen 17 pitches, I was in remarkable great shape on so little sleep. And yet despite that lack of sleep I wasn’t tired and ended up staying awake to just gone midnight!

Friday wasn’t going to see me getting to bed earlier than my normal rock and roll bedtime of 9:30, because we had a team Christmas meal planned for after work. Luckily my free time before going was spent playing Magic the Gathering. I really have created a monster at work with this game and my students. Our Christmas meal was at a Thai restaurant, the food was pretty good. Portion sizes were just right, despite my initial reaction that they were a little cheap on the quantity of sticky rice I’d been given. There was a random secret Santa, which I suspect was not as random as initially intended. Somehow the only person with a bushy beard (me) got given beard baubles. Even I without a sense of smell, smelt something was up. When I arrived home there was an unexpected parcel waiting for me. The mystery present was a Christmas gift of some Lego from my friend Duncan. There was even a Christmas card from him with a humorous reference to my dislike of Barenpark and Nantucket. There was also a play set of the Abrade card for Magic also waiting for me.

I really could have done with a relaxed, drifting in and out of sleep type of morning today. Catching up on some of the sleep I had deprived myself of. But no a while back I had arranged a learning game of Twilight Imperium 4 for 10:30. So I had to get up early, and punch some cardboard. I also wanted to get to Fenrock early to get the place setup ready to play. So I turned up 30 mins early, got the table in place and started setting up the game ready for the others. We were already a man down because earlier a car failure meant Diego wasn’t able to attend. But a very last minute message meant that we were now down to just Jeff and myself to play a game designed for a minimum of 3 players. If I’d known before I’d left I could have bought Star Wars: Rebellion a 2 player game to play. Instead we had to make do with a makeshift solution that would allow Jeff and me to play TI4 as a 2 player game.

Despite it not being designed for this player count, the trade and political side not really practical, we still had a good time playing the game. Fuelled by the excellent coffee that Fenrock do, despite taking an early and having the military superiority I still lost.

But playing the game this way did allow me and Jeff to get familiar with the games turn structure and basic rules. For Jeff he was also able to see how the new 4th edition differed from the 3rd, which he already owned.

I’m really looking forward to playing TI4 again on the 30th. Hopefully everyone can make that day and we get to play the game as intended. Now I have the rest of the weekend to catch up on some sleep, start building some decks around the infinite combos that arrived today. Or I might just browse some ideas for a Death and Taxes deck. Whatever happens I will be doing as little as possible and just relaxing.

Poor mans time machine

On Monday some of my Christmas reading arrived. Earlier in the year there was a kickstarter project to create a Crash Annual 2018. Crash was a game review magazine from the 80’s for the ZX Spectrum. I used to read it along with it’s sister publication ZZap64! Well I did have both. So this was a must back project for me. A chance to try and capture that magic from my formative teenage years. The annual also came with a 2018 calander, two badges or pins as those outside of the UK seem to call them. So I am really excited to read this during my time off vegging in from of the tv over Christmas.

Since Charterstone came out last week and it hadn’t landed on my doorstep I was doubting whether I had actually pre-ordered the game. I had searched my emails for conformation that I had. But to no avail. Had I pre-ordered it? I thought I had. Maybe I hadn’t press the final button to process the order. I was really doubting myself. But luckily yesterday the game came. Suddenly all that self doubt faded away and was replaced with relief, and joy.

Now all I have to do is get it to the table with a regular group to play through the legacy side of it. Mind you there is a back log building up of games, particularly big ones to get to the table. Gloomhaven second edition arrived just over a week ago. The new expansion for Scythe The Wind Gambit arrived last week, along with the one off printing of the big box. Yes I bought a big box. A big box that can take the core game along with all the current expansions and the planned third and final expansion. Next week I have the updated Civilisation game New Dawn arriving. Another big game. Twilight Imperium 4 is also sitting in that queue. I have a lot of game sitting waiting to be played.

There we have it, a catch up on new stuff and what’s waiting to get to the table on top of the usual large pile of shame.

Council of Nations

Wow no posts for 3 days, you all must have been hoping I’d given up blogging. Sadly I haven’t. I was truth be told just being lazy.

Friday evening saw Jonathan and myself meeting up at The White Lion Hotel to play some games.

Our first game was a recent addition to Jonathan’s collection Council of Four . This was a foreign version of the game, which meant two things. Jonathan had gone online and printed out the translated English rules (in colour), and that he got it a lot cheaper than the English version over hear. I think Jonathan said around the 8 or 9 euros mark, compared to (I want to say) over £20. So a massive saving. And the game is language independent. Which means it really doesn’t matter if you get the non-English language version.

I think my main issues with this game are production issues. The assistant tokens for instance (see close up below) look awful. The art work could be much bigger, and less white space. I also had an issue with the black permit cards. They look more brown. Especially when they actually have a black border, that is black! Not only that the black meeples were also not very black. The graphic design could have done with a little bit of tweaking on the use of the arrow symbol. The same arrow icon was used in several spots for different things. Ideally there should have been a different symbol or type of arrow used to symbolise it’s different meaning.

The actual game itself isn’t bad. It was fun, I liked that you can combo emporiums, which can be very powerful. Build an emporium in a city next to one you already have an emporium in you get that connected cities bonus too, and repeat until you come to the end of your chain of connected cities. I had a very effective “engine” going that gave me money, points, and cards every time I built a connecting emporium.

I won our game. It was close. I had that combo engine going, while Jonathan was being more targeted in where he was building his emporiums and collecting bonuses for building in cities of the same colour. It did look like I was running away with the game. But after taking into account bonuses earned during the game, and the odd end game bonus, the game result was much closer than both of us were expecting.

And that is one other thing I like about this game, that we both had different plans in place for scoring, and I can see the possibility of one or more other ways to. And that’s a nice thing to have.

I’d play this again. Would I ask to play it again? Maybe not. It’s a good game, just not a great game.

Our second and final game of the evening was an old favourite, Nations the Dice Game. This game soon went out of print after it came out a couple years back. I had bought mine just after I think it was my first UKGE, after hearing the buzz about it at the expo. When I heard that Stronghold Games had picked up the rights to the game, and not only were they reprinting the game, they were also going to be publishing an expansion for it, I was excited. At the time of the news breaking I did ask Stronghold via social media if the expansion would be compatible with the original printing, and was assured that it was.

Which brings us to Friday night. I had the new expansion Unrest and the perfect excuse to get the base game back to the table.

This expansion adds a new die to the game, that makes rolling for resources a bit riskier, but has a bigger pay off. There is also a new reroll token, new nation boards, bonus tiles, pass bonuses, and more progress tiles.

The new nation boards actually fix an issue I had with the original game. In the original game it made no difference which nation you chose because they were all basically the same. Everyone got the same starting dice and tokens. Now with the new boards it matters which one you chose, and also which side. You get that feeling of uniqueness.

Ok the game is still over really quickly. But the added bonus tile that gives you a second thing to aim for other than just the famine and war bonus, is a nice addition. Plus passing now also gives you a little something, unless you are the last to pass.

I like this expansion, I don’t think I’d play the game without it. Even with new players. It adds stuff to the game, but not that much. Fixes a couple of problems. Yep glad I bought this expansion.

You know how this will end. A big thank you to The White Lion for allowing us to play there Friday evening.

Saturday was the final day of our Ixalan league. Unstable and life meant this last MtG meet up before Christmas was attended by five of us. I played 6 games, two best of three, and came away with a 1-5 record overall. These weren’t quick wins. They went to the long game. Which for 5 of the games saw my deck bettered. After I handed out the three prize packs for most wins, most plays, and most friendly player, and some packs were bought off me, I was left with 3 packs. I consoled myself with those 3 packs and was rewarded with the following card:
This is my third Huatli, Warrior Poet planeswalker. So nearly a play set. But is it good enough to break into my R/G Dino deck? I do like that ability to generate 3/3 dino tokens. Maybe in the sideboard?

Yep another thank you to Fenrock for hosting our MtG league.

Our next planned league will be at the end of January once Rivals for Ixalan has come out. But there will be one or two one off events before then. Keep an eye on the events page for Fenland Gamers to find out when they are announced.

The Worst Game of 2017…

I’m posting this early because it won’t change. Ok I don’t foresee this changing at all. So I am pretty safe in posting this. My actual awards post for games I like will be posted later in the month.

Can you guess what the worst game of 2017 is? This post might give you a clue.

Yep it’s the over rated,  Barenpark.

This years winner came pretty close to knocking Nantucket off its throne of worst game ever.

I really do think that the designer of this game (who shall not be named) looked at games like Patchwork and Cottage Garden and thought “how can I remove the game and fun from this?”

So many people like and even love this big pile of steaming poo, it’s almost become a case of the Emperors new clothes. This game is really a race to complete your jigsaw puzzle first, with barely any interaction with others at the table.

There isn’t much more I can say about this glorified multi player jigsaw puzzle. It deserves this title more than any other game out this year.

 

Bouncing deck ideas

Part of the fun for me with games like MtG is the deck construction. The exploring ideas, expressing yourself through the decks you build. Some people naturally gravitate towards certain deck archetypes, such as I did in Netrunner with Anarchs and NBN on the corp side. Within MtG I don’t have an archetype that I gravitate towards. I like red, green and black. I’ve even enjoyed playing blue! I’m pretty much the same in Star Wars: Destiny. I don’t prefer villains over heroes, or one colour over the other. I just like to play characters I like irrespective of their faction.

Like other games in this field, I see a card and want to build a deck around that deck. It may not be a Tier 1 deck, or even 2 or 3. But hopefully it will be fun, and win a game or two. If it pulls off the idea that the deck is built around I call it a success. For example the recent Ixalan blue control deck I built. There was no real win condition within the deck, although it did win a couple of games. However it did meet it’s goal of frustrating the hell out of my opponents, and demonstrated to my students what it might be like to go up against a control style deck.

This morning I saw Harsh Mentor in my collection, unlike other times I’ve seen it, something in my mind made some connections and paired it with Rampaging Ferocidon.

Not only that it also connected it to the recent Rookie Red deck that I got from CardKingdom. The wheels and cogs started turning and the idea hit me, a mono red deck that punishes your opponents for their actions. So I’m naturally going to spend time now researching cards (hopefully cheap) that can go into this deck to further this game plan.

In the meantime I have an angel deck that is brewing. At the moment it’s a mono white deck, which will definitely be flying and have lifelink. But need to think about ramp for it, and early cheap creatures that can be played. How viable this deck is? Well that’s another question.

My dinosaur commander deck is on hold until after Rivals for Ixalan (the next set) is out (latter half of January). There will be more dinosaurs to chose from then, which makes sense. I have the mana base for the deck more or less worked out. There are a couple of cards (creatures) that reduce the cost of playing dinosaurs also that need including. But I’m hoping that there will be even more in the next set.

I will also over Christmas start to look at building some “tutorial” decks that will introduce the concept of going infinite.

I also want to rebuild the blue control deck so that it has a win condition and uses more than just cards from Ixalan. I am thinking about mill for this. The vampire deck (which has been rather successful against the “student meta”) also needs rebuilding and taking into account cards outside of Ixalan.

And yes I know that my local meta is against students, and that if my decks were up against a more experienced MtG player they would get trashed easily. But that’s not going to stop me exploring ideas and introducing the students to new mechanics and concepts within MtG. Mind you I am learning as I go along. It’s not as if I’m some super MtG Pro Player. I’m just a casual player sharing the love for a great, fun game.

So as you can see I have a lot of MtG deck buildings ideas and projects on the go, or planned. And that’s where a lot of the fun is for me.

Right I’m off to research some cards…

 

B/G Dino Deck (Modern?) V1.0

After Christmas I am running a tournament for the students, and I wanted a deck to play with for that.

With Ixalan out it was only a matter of time before I built a dinosaur deck. But unlike the recent deck building challenges I wasn’t going to restrict myself to just cards in Ixalan. I was going to make it a standard deck, but the tournament is going to be modern so that a student can play their Eldrazi deck. So this deck is hopefully a modern deck.

In the version listed here I have no basic lands at all. So this has a little drag between land being played and being able to cast anything. In reality turn 3 is when things start kicking in. Turn 2 could be used to cast a commune with dinosaurs (cwd). But in reality I have to weather any storm until turn 3.

The Decked app shows the following stat analysis of the initial version of this deck:

Here is my initial version of the deck:

Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

Creatures:23

2 Drover of the Mighty
3 Otepec Huntmaster
3 Raptor Hatchling
3 Rampaging Ferocidon
3 Charging Monstrosaur
1 Glorybringer
2 Regisaur Alpha
3 Burning Sun’s Avatar
2 Carnage Tyrant
1 Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Spells:16

2 Commune with Dinosaurs
1 Abrade
2 Haze of Pollen
3 Lightning Strike
2 Crushing Canopy
2 Gift of Paradise
2 Growing Rites of Itlimoc
2 New Horizons

Lands:21

2 Cinder Glade
1 Frontier Bivouac
1 Jungle Shrine
2 Looming Spires
3 Rootbound Crag
2 Rugged Highlands
1 Savage Lands
3 Sheltered Thicket
4 Timber Gorge
1 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Grove

Sideboard:15

1 Glorybringer
1 Regisaur Alpha
1 Carnage Tyrant
1 Gishath, Sun’s Avatar
2 Blazing Volley
3 Abrade
2 Fling
1 Haze of Pollen
1 Crushing Canopy
2 Hazoret’s Monument

I have to admit today I have been playing the deck with Vivid Crag, Vivid Grove, and the 2 Looming Spires replaced with 4 basic lands (2 Forests and 2 Mountains) in an attempt to speed up the deck a little. It means I can technically start building up from turn 2, and potentially play a cwd turn 1.

The other deck I’m working on is an Angel deck. Who knows how that is going to shape up? Some of the pieces for that are on the way. I’m yet to start putting it together. But lifelink and flying I think will be a thing. Along with trying to ramp up quickly to get them out to play.

So what do you think of this deck? What would you swap out?

Lego Star Wars Advent Days 1 – 4 2017

Slight delay to getting this years Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar (Amazon apparently think Prime means longer than next day. It arrived today.

So here are the first 4 days worth of Lego action.

I’ll post daily on Instagram the contents, and then every 3 or 4 days on here so that I’m not spamming here too much.

Have I said what a huge fan of Twin Peaks I was?

Back in the late eighties, early nineties when it first aired I was addicted. Even as I’m writing this on my iPhone the haunting theme music for the show is playing in my head.

My Christmas viewing will be rewatching the original series, and the brand new episodes that got shown earlier in the year. I might even throw in the Fire Walk With Me movie.

Anyhow Funko bought out a set of Pop Vinyl figures for the series. With the latest arrival of the Comic Con exclusive (below) I now have the set (include the chase figure for the Giant).

Big game Saturday

Yesterday morning started out like Christmas morning come early.

It started off with the Royal Mail delivering my coffee order from Pact Coffee (more on that in a moment), an Ixalan Booster Box for next weekend (it’s already accidentally fallen open 😉 ), and some MtG cards I’d ordered for a couple of decks.

My coffee order was the big surprise. I think I must be one of Pact Coffee’s unluckiest customers. They sell amazing coffee, which they grind specifically for your coffee making device (the coffee needs to be ground to a different coarseness for a pour over filter like a V60 to that of an Aeropress). They tell you about flavour notes of the coffee, give you a card with it telling you about the farm the coffee beans come from. It’s a little bit more expensive than the options at a supermarket. But the price does include postage, and the whole experience is far far superior. The reason I claim to be their unluckiest customer is because very regularly I don’t get that full experience! Very often I get the coffee but not the card. Strangely enough I do get the partner companies offers. I do raise this with them, and a few days later they do post the missing cards to me.

So we come to yesterday morning with my orders. I’d bought a sample pack of coffees as a Christmas present, that had arrived Friday but with no cards (wasn’t surprised at that). But another copy of that ordered turned up with cards yesterday morning. Then my order for myself of two additional coffees also turned up twice! One with cards the other without! Finally my monthly subscription coffee turned up also without a card. I need to contact Pact Coffee about this (I’m sending them this link). But how does this work? In the past I’ve been given the excuse they’ve run out of cards and awaiting for more. But obviously I’m not convinced about this now. And why have I got double? Have they charged me twice? I’ll be upset if they have and demanding a refund. It will be interesting to hear the explanation for this. I think there is some serious lack of quality control in their fulfilment department.

If you cast your minds back a couple of days I put Nan and Mum on BFB alert. I was expecting that BFB to arrive early next week.

However that BFB arrived yesterday, mid morning. Weighing in at 9.9kg according to the box, and rightly justifying the claim of BFB and probably Bloody Heavy Box, Gloomhaven Second Edition had arrived.

That 9.9kg weight. That’s just heavier than the pack and gear (minus food and water) that I used for hiking across Scotland for 2 weeks on the TGO Challenge!

I’m so glad it came yesterday with me around. Mum and Nan would never have been able to cope with the size and weight of this game.

I will say that the lid of the box was warped. Will need to in the next week check over the game contents before contacting the publisher so I can provide a complete list of defects.

Lunchtime saw Diego, Chris and myself exploring outer space at The White Lion. We were playing Xia: Legends of a Drift System.

I set the Fame Point total for our game at 10. This was a first time playing for Diego and Chris. Mind you it’s not as if I was a seasoned pilot, having only played it once before. But that previous time I felt that the suggested 5 Fame Points for a first game was too low. However that’s the nice thing about this game you can set the target number of Fame Points needed to win to match the desired length of game that you want.

We were also for the first time using the npc’s.

I taught the basics of the game but left out some of the rules that were tidied to specific tile types. Leaving so that we’d read up on the rules as and when those tiles appeared. I did it this way because there is a lot to go over. And we would have forgotten them by the time they were needed, and have to look them up anyway.

Diego got labelled as an outlaw early on by visiting an outlaw planet. And started living up to that reputation. Mid-game Diego attacked Chris’s ship and destroyed it. But took some damage himself. So I took advantage of that situation, flew in and blew up that outlaw Diego. Showing him the error of his ways, and giving him the opportunity to make amends and lead a lawful life from that point on. Which he did.

I want to say that Diego won when he became Elite! You just want to use terms and language from that classic video game.

I’m really enjoying the fact that opportunities to play these more complex, in-depth games are happening. Let alone love playing these games.

We had a really great afternoon gaming. Great company and facilities. As you can see from the photo, Xia isn’t a small game. So we are really grateful to The White Lion for providing a location with tables large enough to allow us to get games like this to the table.