Monthly Archives: August 2014

Zombicide: Special Guest – Kevin Walker

So the day started off with me thinking I'll find out if my local (local as Peterborough gets) game store The Rift have the Marvel Avengers vs. X-Men starter pack or the boosters. Well they didn't have the starter pack but they did have the boosters (at a very reasonable £1 a pack) so a quick visit to snap some up was made. However when their I did manage to resist buying Battlelore (that's next months treat) but caved in buying a Zombicide expansion. Guillotine Games and Cool Mini or Not have produced a series of special guest designed survivors. The pack they had at The Rift was the Kevin Walker designed ones. I didn't know who Kevin Walker was but I had been eyeing up this set because I wanted the clown survivor (star of the packaging). Having seen the artwork on the official website I have kind of been reminded of the movie Killer Clowns from Outspace in the 80's, and thought how cool would that be to play as a killer clown slaughtering zombies?

So on top of the boosters I was after this Zombicide expansion was in my basket and leaving the shop with me (paid for naturally).

Ok as the photo shows you get a survivor sculpt for each of the two characters, and a zombivor sculpt for each character, 2 character experience trackers, and 2 survivor identity cards in English (and another 4 that have been translated into 2 different languages).

Below a close up of the sculpts that you get. Top is Uncle honk and bottom is Mitch.

But there was one thing I noticed when I saw Uncle Honk sideways on. From the front he looks mean and tough standing there holding his machete. From the side however it kind of looks a bit rude. All of a sudden we get to see a perverted side of the clown.

Other than the rather amazing clown stiffy! The sculpts for this special guest set are upto the usual high standard from Guillotine Games/Cool Mini or Not. Below I have included photos of the survivor identity cards so you can see what the special skills are that each survivor starts with and then can choose from as they level up.

The experience trackers in this guest set are slightly different to the ones I got with Zombicide Season 1 since then they have added a rather nice little skull to them!

So who is Kevin Walker? According to the blurb on the back of the box he has worked on 2000 A.D., done stuff for Games Workshop, Magic the Gathering, worked at Marvel and DC. So a quick look at Wikipedia and I'm ashamed I didn't recognise the name. Kevin has worked on some of my favourite comic book characters like Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, ABC Warriors, Hellblazer to name a few. Plus he worked on Marvel Zombies – which is a pretty cool zombie version of the Marvel universe.

Overall I like this expansion, it adds to the survivors you can choose from to make up your team of survivors. The quality of everything is up to the same high standards that you would expect from Guillotine Games/Cool Mini or Not. I like the change to the experience tracker, a nice little tough. It's not a must have expansion. But one of the things I do like a lot from Guillotine Games/Cool Mini or Not is that they do keep introducing new survivors. It allows for variety in building teams, and a bit of fun.

This kind of wraps up my initial impressions of this Zombicide Special Guest expansion.


Up and Coming Tabletops I’m Excited About

Ok just a brief (ish) post on some up and coming tabletops that I am looking forward to coming out. I've seen reviews over on sites like The Dice Tower or Watch It Played and these ones below have got me really excited about getting them to play.

First up is Machi Koro published in the West by IDW Games. A Japanese card game that just looks great fun to play. Apparently due out in September in the UK. Here is the Watch It Played Preview video then watch the two part let's play video they have just done. Even The Dice Towers Tom Vasel loves it. I think in the preview there is also mention of an expansion coming out also, not sure when that is going to be released.

Next up is Tiny Epic Kingdoms which was on kickstarter (which I missed). When I saw this reviewed by Tom Vasel I thought “Wow, that looks fun.” Sadly not found a place to buy it in the UK yet, not even sure if it is possible to buy in the US yet.

Now we get onto X-Wing Miniatures, within the next couple of months we hopefully should be seeing Wave 5 and the Rebel Aces hitting these shores. They were apparently on sale at the recent GenCon in the US.

Briefly while talking of GenCon Fantasy Flight Games announced Wave 6 of X-Wing Miniatures that introduces a new faction to the game called Scum and Villainy which has a Most Wanted expansion (think new factions version of Aces) and some ships. They also announced Star Wars: Imperial Assault which has been described Star Wars Descent. Which seems pretty accurate. Then finally just before GenCon FFG announced Star Wars: Armada basically the big ship epic space battle version of X-Wing. I believe this lot will be hitting in the first quarter of 2015. So a little way off, so I got time to save up for them. You can read all about the new faction and Wave 6, Armada and Imperial Assault on the FFG website.

One game that is out now to buy and I have added to the top of my wish list is Ca$h 'n Guns Second Edition. Once again Tom Vasel seems to like it (watch his review here). It looks a lot of fun.

So there you have it these are the games and expansions coming out that are floating my boat at the moment. What games and expansions are you looking forward to?

UPDATE: So having written this post earlier in the day, I get home watch a new Dice Tower review by Tom Vasel and think bugger I have to add this to the post. I love Zombicide by Guillotine Games and distributed by Cool Mini Or Not. Cool Mini Or Not do have a great product range, and now are also home of the game I want to add to this list Arcadia Quest. This looks like a really cool competitive dungeon skirmish game! Sadly the kickstarter finished yonks ago so unless I feel really desperate all the nice kickstarter exclusives will elude me, as I won't give in and buy at an inflated price on ebay.


Introducing TableTops

IMG_2399In the Hello World post I did say that this blog would not just be outdoors stuff but also a home for other bits too. This is going to be one of the posts that fits in to that category.

Since moving back to my home town I have got back into playing tabletop games. Tabletop games are for the casual reader board games. You know Monopoly, Cluedo, Risk etc. The games we all played when we were kids. However stray from the “traditional” games we grew up with and a whole new world opens up. Welcome to the world of miniatures, euro games, war games, role playing, casual games, collaborative games, the list of styles etc goes on. The tabletop world is so much richer now when I was growing up. And truth be told the games are far more fun.

I don't play in a local gaming group (I should try and find one), although I have been once to a X-Wing Miniatures thing that runs on a Thursday at The Rift in Peterborough (really need to get back there to play some more). So normally I buy games like a collector! But not really as I buy games that meet certain criteria.

Ideally the game should be:

  • playable solo – being able to play a game solo is a big advantage, it means I can play it at home, get to know the rules before playing with others.
  • be playable by 2 players – some games although they say 2 players or more really aren't 2 player games. So games that are equally enjoyable as 2 player games as multiplayer are important. Why? Well when I visit Nathan I take a selection of games with me for us to play as father and son. So the 2 player experience is very important for me.

So what sort of games do I like? To answer this I think it will be easier to list my collection of games. Some I have played and some I haven't. The ones I haven't got round to playing I will eventually it's just they are on the list of ones to play with Nathan when I visit him.

  • Carcassonne
  • Zombicide
  • Dead of Winter
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Lost Cities
  • Munchkin
  • Fluxx
  • Love Letter
  • Shoot Out
  • X-Wing Miniatures
  • Red Devils
  • Memoire 44
  • Battle Cry
  • Castle Ravenloft
  • Resistance
  • Betrayal at the house on the hill
  • Small World
  • Zombie Dice
  • Munchkin Quest
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Alhambra
  • Takenoko
  • Boss Monster
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel
  • Pandemic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Tsuro

And I have some expansions for some of the above too. The current games I am really big on at the moment are Zombicide and X-Wing Miniatures. And over on the Manic Coding blog I will probably do a post about Zombicide and using it to teach game design at some point. Also at some point I will do a post that lists whats on my wish list of games to get.

As I said above where I talk about a criteria for choosing a game, I play them with Nathan when I visit him. Normally when I visit take a selection games we have already played (that I know he enjoyed) and also some “new” ones that we haven't played. It is then up to Nathan to choose what he feels like playing. For me all the games are good, and made extra special by playing them with Nathan. Quality father and son time.

Some of the games I bought are also collaborative games. I usually take those games into work to use in induction week with new students to act as kind of ice breaker. I think they make a great change from the usual “build a bridge out of paper” type exercises.

So there you have it my tabletop “hello world” post, I hope you have enjoyed it.


Smelling the flowers – a trip to the Lakes

Tuesday – Arrival

Finally the day had arrived. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, it’s been long overdue. Since Bud died the enjoyment has not been there for me in walking. It was only made worse when Barney died the following year. I’ve still walked Strider, and a year ago we had a new recruit to the wolf pack called Nico (a two year old attack chihuahua). But the enjoyment just hasn’t been there. I used the excuse that work made it hard for me to get away, or I didn’t have the money. In truth the desire wasn’t there. I miss those two loyal canine companions.
Strider is a great dog, I love him to bits. But he is a keep himself to himself type of dog, unless some-one has my attention then he wants to know me. However Nico is not like that. He’s a very here I am, in your face, snuggle monster. Nico hasn’t just been great for Nan, he’s been great for me too. I don’t think my rekindled desire to get out and Nico joining us is no coincidence, I think he’s been a big part in bringing it back. Surprising since he’s such a little fella.
Anyway with rucksack packed, a tank of petrol, I picked Alan up from Peterborough train station and we headed up North towards the Lake District. The weather was hot, which made travelling in my car an endurance test. Basically the heating sensor has gone (and it’s not easy to get to), meaning even with no heating switched on, my car gets hot inside. Very embarrassing, and I’m sure not a pleasurable experience for Alan. I cannot apologise enough to Alan for putting him through this form of torture.
The journey up was fairly uneventful, except for a one traffic jam due to an accident (which wasn’t really an event). Alan and I finally rolled into the Wasdale National Trust Campsite after seven. We booked in, found a pitch and made camp.

When I produced two budweisers for us to drink I think Alan was delighted and surprised. But they did go down well. As did the small bottle of red wine we had afterwards with tea.

Wednesday – An Unexpected Crossing

It rained heavily during the night and the early morning. And breakfast time was punctuated with rain. After a brief discussion about the predicted weather for the day we decided to have a camp day and walk into Wasdale Head.
Above photos from Church of St Olaf at Wasdale Head
Below the “wildlife” of Wasdale Head
Below The Crossing. The sign for the path Wasdale Head end warned that the path was liable to flooding. What it didn’t warn of was having to do two river crossings! The first one was easy to cross using some light footed ness over large rocks in the flowing water. The second crossing was a bit more substantial to cross, as the photo below shows. Only logical choice was to take socks and shoes off and paddle across. I went first, the water although cold was rather refreshing and nice. Luckily the stone river bed was flat large-ish stones, and not slippery so easy to walk across. Somehow on Alan’s crossing he managed to find all the pointy stones!

Back at camp the rest of the afternoon was taken up with some serious hardcore chilling. How did we know it was hardcore? It involved snoozing in the afternoon sun that’s how.

Thursday – Into The Wilds

After breakfast we broke camp, and headed off into the hills. It was going to be a hot day. Oh yeah I hope you remember I don’t do heat. So not my ideal weather conditions.
Plans change, and ours changed once or twice on the way up. I have to say the part of the Lakes we were in although we saw others was no way as busy as some of the more popular spots. Which is a shame because where we were had a very alpine feel to it. I have to admit I think some folks would be surprised at the amount of wild life this high up. We saw apart from the usual suspects of sheep, dragon flies, herons, fish, buzzards and butterflies.
The afternoon was spent once more doing some hardcore chilling out. Today’s wine was provided by Alan and was a rather nice red from M&S. The evening was spent hiding from midges because the evening time seemed to be the cue for any breeze at all to disappear. Luckily I bought a new midge net hat from the camp site shop. Even luckier for Alan he had an inner for his Trailstar. There were also mozzies and my BMC/Harvey map is now stained in mozzie blood and innards as I used it to kill them in the Trailstar.

Observation of the trip: Yewbarrow from where we were looked like a sleeping dog. I agree with that observation of Alan’s. Somehow it was like Bud and Barney were keeping watch over our camp.

Friday – Back Home

I wake early and if I was alone would of broke camp and made my way before most have stirred in their tents. But when you walk with others you have to make adjustments. So wrapped in my quilt I sat on a rock contemplating life, the universe and everything, whilst watching the morning sun come up.
I’m not a breakfast person, I like to be up a little while before having breakfast. And if I had broken camp an hour or so down the trail I would of taken a break and had breakfast with a brew.
Once Alan was up and about we broke camp and made our way back down to the camp site. At the camp site we cleaned up using the facilities, had a brew (benefit of keeping stove, pot etc in a handy side pocket), and then set off on our journey South.

Our journey back was a lot longer than the one up. Well it did involve stopping off to visit a friend of Alan’s where we had an amazing lunch and great conversation. But then going round Leeds we hit the storm battering the UK, and traffic was often at a stand still while it negotiated the flooded roads. Once back on the A1 it was not much better, the rain making driving conditions nigh on impossible. Eventually we made it to Peterborough for me to drop off Alan at the train station to continue his journey to his hidden location somewhere in the Home Counties.

I don’t think I’ve chilled out this much in a long long time. I’ve really needed this I think. It has been good for my soul. So much has happened in the last couple of months. My friend and boss (same person) died unexpectedly. Ontop of that work has been uber stressful as well. I had an earlier trip in the year before all the recent happenings and between the two I really am blessed with the friends I have, and the support they give me.