Monthly Archives: April 2015

Birthday Lego

So today I ended up buying myself this “reduced” Death Star Gun Crew set from Tesco when I popped in to buy cakes to take into work. It was mainly for the two Imperial Guards the rest is just a cool bonus.
Thanks to Amanda and Paul I also had a couple of Lego Mini packs to open as well today. I got the King and Hotdog ones again. I like both of these, sadly for the King he hits the spare parts store I have. While the Hotdog guy is just too good for the spare parts solution. He deserves a place of honor somewhere. I just need to decide where.


All Booked

So that’s me all booked for the upcoming UK Games Expo. I’m going to be attending all three days, and have accommodation sorted also.
This will be my first time to the event and to a board gaming one. I’ve been to comic cons before (many decades ago), Raspberry Jams and video game related events.
But the firsts don’t stop there. Oh no. I signed up for the Dice Masters Nationals. I’ve never played in a Nationals before. Last year I did play in a Dice Masters OP event organised by my FLGS, and out of eight participants I didn’t come last, it was seventh. So not exactly a good showing, however that was early in my Dice Masters playing. After that I wasn’t able to get to the handful of other OP events they held.
The funny thing is I wasn’t sure I’d throw my hat in for the nationals because it falls on the last day of the expo. Well I’m used to making up the numbers and at least I should get a participation prize.
Now I am lending a couple of Yugioh cards and dice to a friend for his nationals team. So basically now I’ve armed a potential competitor (if we get drafted against each other that is). I should of put in a similar clause to that used in football when a player goes out on loan. Usually the loan agreement says that the player on loan can’t play against the loaning team if they meet up in any of the competitions. Or maybe I should of treated it like a game of Munchkin. Saying I’ll help you for a share of the treasure. And then haggle over how much of the treasure I’d get for my assistance.
In the meantime I have a lot of work to do. I’ve only played one game of Dice Masters since Christmas (although a lot of Star Realms). At that point in time the meta for the game only involved two sets, Avengers vs X-Men and the Uncanny X-Men. Since the start of the year Yugioh, Dungeons and Dragons and in the next couple of weeks DC (although just out in the US of A) have been released. Although I have Yugioh and D&D I’ve not played them (well one game of Yugioh) and I’m not really familiar with the current meta.
So I need to start looking at the cards of the new sets, looking at what has been played in recent national tournaments in the North Americas to see what I could potentially be facing. Let’s face it I expect some people to just be playing a team that others have created and done well with (ie won with). Armed with all this information build my team that I think will win me games and then play the heck out of it.
Which brings me on to Freddy. Freddy has kindly offered to be my Mickey Goldmill/Apollo Creed and help me get back into fighting shape again. Unfortunately I don’t have any chickens to chase and catch, but Loki is slipperier than a chicken especially when he has run off with a tissue or hankerchief.
With all this training going on I think we need…
I was hoping while at the expo to meet up with people to play some Star Realms. I do enjoy playing Star Realms using the actual physical cards. And it will be great to be able to do so. To meet this goal I’ve ask on a couple of appropriate FB fanpages if anyone is going and if they want to meet up to play some games of a Star Realms. It does seem odd, well not odd but sad that we aren’t getting like a nationals for Star Realms at the expo. Well you know we are getting nationals for Dice Masters, plus Android: Netrunner, X-Wing, HeroClix etc. There are tournaments for other games also which I’m not sure if they are official or not, but still they are going on. Just a shame nothing has been done for this awesome game. Let’s face it I’m not the only one that thinks it is awesome, it’s winning awards left, right and centre. It seems to be selling really well. So why no tournie?
While there I will hopefully (well very high chance) get to meet the fiancée of Martin and Julie’s daughter Zoe, Todd. Todd is a huge Android: Netrunner player and taking part in its nationals on the Saturday. So on the Saturday I’m hoping to watch a game or two of the nationals, but also pick the brains of Todd on playing and building decks. Zoe and her two kids (sorry guys names are missing from my old head) are also going to be there so hopefully will get to play some board games with them too on the Saturday.
So there you go I’m going to UK Games Expo, hope to see you there.





New Micro Experiences Arrive

Recently I wrote a post about taking mini/micro games on a family holiday. Well an opportunity arose on the UK and Eire Trading and Selling group to buy the sequel to Eight Minute Empire, Eight Minute Empire Legends. In this update to the game the board is modular, there are special abilities, fantasy creatures. Plus it comes in a smaller box. When I opened it the person who I had bought it from had done something I do with games. For some games to aid setup I put all the components that a player will need in a bag. Then a player just grabs a bag and they are ready to go. No counting out counters, no finding all the bits required. Minimum set up, maximum time playing.

At the end of the post I mentioned the game below This Town Ain't Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us. I love the minimum packaging, the flat pack, but that all goes in the bin. Once you have punched out the counters it all fits into the provided plastic bag. With this game you have a small portable Carcassonne like experience.
Luckily next week I'm being loaned a sewing machine. Which means I can see if sewing is for me and if I'm able to make a dice bag. If this goes to plan I'll be ordering material to make custom dice bags for my games, like a DC or Joker themed bag, or a Star Wars themed dice bag. How about a nice little storage bag for this new game to replace the plastic bag for this game? Skills, patience willing you bet that's on. I'd like to make a bag for Elder Sign too.


My Anarch Program Cards

NB I had the following data packs when I built this deck:
  • What Lies Ahead
  • Trace Amount
  • Cyber Exodus
  • A Study in Static
  • Humanity's Shadow
  • Future Proof
  • True Colors
  • First Contact
  • Up and Over
  • All That Remains
  • Order and Chaos

Plus two starter sets


My Master Plan!

With Noise as my Anarch runner every time I install a virus program the top card of the corp scums R&D pile gets trashed into archives. So my thinking was I need to be playing to this strength and installing as many virus programs as possible.

The plan was to attack the core servers which I think and I may be wrong on this a keyhole strategy.

I wanted to be able to put pressure on the corp by being able to look at both the top and bottom of the corps R&D when I did a successful run on it, plus put as many cards as possible from R&D into archives ready for a run on it at the right moment. To aid this strategy I wanted to get the Hades Shard installed on archives early so that I could do a run on archives at an appropriate moment getting as many agendas as possible that would snatch me the win.

Being able to attack both ends of R&D would make life difficult for the corp scum because they wouldn't be able to hide agendas towards the bottom of the deck.

I hadn't forgotten about HQ and I had the matching card (can't remember it's name at the mo) to Hades Shard that would allow me to install it and do a run on HQ when ever I wanted. This tactic again relied on getting a run on HQ early before the corps can put up any really defence.

This would mean that the corps would not have a safe central server to hide agendas.

It should then be a matter of pulling the trigger at the right time to hover up those agendas to win.

Well that's the thinking, as we know from the games I played it didn't work exactly as planned as I lost both runner games.

Program Cards that I used:

  • Djinn
  • 2x Darwin
  • Imp
  • 2x Progenitor
  • 2x Medium
  • 2x Hivemind
  • 2x Crypsis
  • Keyhole

Progenitor and Djinn were chosen to allow me to host other programs/virus without impacting my memory usage. Progenitor also has the bonus of keeping a virus token the hosted card when the corp scum purge virus counters. Hivemind allows me to use its virus tokens on other virus programs as if they are theirs for card effects. Which is pretty cool for pimping out Darwin on the down low.

Medium allows me with the help of Hivemind also allows me to access more cards in R&D when I do a successful run on it. And Imp allows me to trash cards which is good when we consider my “master plan”.

Crypsis I can't remember why I chose this one. I think it was because I wanted an Icebreaker AI virus to help feed off the Noise ability of trashing the top card of R&D when a virus is installed.

So there you have it the program's I played plus my master plan. The next plan will look at the hardware and resources I chose.

Feel free to comment below with suggestions of how I can improve my deck – just remember the data packs that I have. Although as I have proven I am prepared to jump a data pack to a must buy ahead of the ordered purchase list I have to get a needed card.


A Night At The Museum

And I’m not talking about that popular but awful film with Ben Stiller. Nope I’m talking about one of the battles in the war against the forces of darkness that is going on around us. Subconsciously we know it’s going on, but it happens in the shadows, the dark places we avoid.

From an early age we are trained to ignore the truth that we see. The monster under the bed or in the cupboard, that spooky looking house down the road with the grumpy old man who hates kids living in it, all dismissed as figments of a child’s active imagination. “Don’t be silly, there is nothing there, see?”, “oh Mr Trumpton he’s had a hard time and been so lonely since his wife died last Summer”. Despite these dismissive reassurances that it’s nothing they leave a night light on for you, or warn you not to hassle that grumpy neighbour. Better to be safe than sorry.

Oh we suspect something is going on. We catch glimpses from time to time. Something or some-one caught moving in our peripheral vision. We turn to look but whatever it was is gone. The shadow world hidden from us once more.

The war will never end, it has been going on for millennia and will continue for millennia. Battles will be won and lost by an ever changing cast on both sides.

Today we will get a sneak peak behind the curtain and witness one of those battles between good and evil.

The Fens has a rich history of local “myths” of giants, dragons and fairies. Is it any wonder that the battle we will witness is going to happen in the heart of the Capital of the Fens, Wisbech?

In the heart of Wisbech sandwiched between its castle and St Peters Church the highest point in the town is an almost nondescript entrance (although some may argue otherwise) to a building that is home to an Iron Age treasure the Wisbech Scabbard and the story of the fens. That unobtrusive entrance with its treasures and stories is the Wisbech Museum. It is here at this focal point of mystical energy that the battle between good and evil will be occurring.

In the shadows out side the market towns museum stood Mandy Thompson a researcher of the paranormal, and along side her Monterey Jack an archeologist who beared a remarkable resemblance to a famous fictional character but in no way infringed on that intellectual property.
Mandy and Monterey had been in many a museum stopping evil from breaking through into our realm. There had been more of them in this fight but the victories had been bought at a great price.
They stood in the entrance of the museum. Mandy and Jack were impressed it was certainly bigger on the inside than the outside.
Was this why they were always having these battles in museums? Just what was it that attracted these monsters from hell?
Mandy’s research had led her to believe they were looking at a rather messy battle ahead of them with Azathoth. An ancient being that if he awoke would mean the instant destruction of the world as we knew it.

“Mandy as much as I enjoy our little adventures saving mankind, I really do need to answer the call of nature before we start getting our hands messy.”

“If you have to go, you have to go. The public lavatory is over there. Just be quick.”

When Monterey entered the generic public lavatory the bloody mirror kind of gave it away that he wasn’t going to be able to go about his “business” quietly. That and the fact that a witch and a cultist were already in the public lavatory (that sounds like the start of a crap joke) waiting to ambush anyone that came into the toilet.

Monterey really did need to go, which made the ensuing fight particularly more painful for him. But he managed to subdue the cultist and witch without destroying the urinal.
After completing what he had originally intended to do in the public lavatory Monterey returned back to the museum entrance.
“You took your time, what kept you?” enquired Mandy.

“There was a little party in there that I gate crashed.”

“Well while you were having fun in the bathroom I checked out the Storage closet over there.”

“Anything interesting?”

“Nah just a gate to another Other World” replied Mandy.


PLEASE NOTE: photos of Wisbech Museum taken from the Wisbech museum website. If you get a chance it’s always worth a visit to the Wisbech Museum along with Peckover House. Ideally The Castle should also be open to the public but our council prefer to keep it to themselves and on the rare occasion let us in.










An Elder Rant

Warner Brothers and DC the other day released a photo of Jared Leto as the Joker for The Suicide Squad movie that they are making. All I'm going to say is I hate them, despise them, and hope they contract a nasty disease. To distract fanboys from the attrocity that has been committed they tried using subtle references to previous Joker iterations like The Killing Joke etc. But it fails it doesn't cover up that all they have done is make a Marrilyn Manson clone with green hair.

I know that after Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight the bar was raised incredibly high for whoever followed him by playing that role. However DC and WB have screwed up massively and ruined the character for me now.

The Joker is one of my favourite comic book characters, if not my number one. It is criminal what they have done.

With decisions like this is it no wonder Marvel are kicking DC butt at the cinema. How can they get it right on the small screen and then screw up on the big screen so often?

DC it's not rocket science fire the incompetent fools who are working with the WB side and hire me to correct this screw up before it's too late.

Time to Fight Lovecraftian Horrors and Save The Planet

I finally managed to track down a copy of what was turning out to be a very elusive game to get Elder Sign. Sometimes Google just isn't good enough, everything I found online was out of stock or if on Amazon a stupid price.

Then last weekend I decided just to vent on the UK Buyers and Sellers page on Facebook about why was it so hard to buy a copy of the game. Then fate struck, a new retailer MeepleCity saw my mini rant and messaged me that they had a copy of the game. I was quickly on their site and ordering the game. Not only was it at a reasonable price but also if I accepted the longer delivery time free delivery.

So now with the delivery arriving today I am the proud owner of the game Elder Sign from Fantasy Flight.

Elder Sign has a similar mechanic to Roll For It and Age of War behind it. Which for me is one I like. Rolling dice, completing a target such as getting three of a kind, maybe a press your luck element.

The idea that you can introduce a none gamer to the mechanic with Roll For It, then introduce them to Age of War that adds a little bit more to the mechanic, then play Elder Sign that takes that mechanic and adds so much more to it, I like that a lot.

There are two expansions to this game out there in the wild. Unseen Forces ups the difficulty and adds blessings and curses plus more investigators and ancient ones I believe. Whilst Gates of Arkham takes the battle out of the museum and onto the streets of Arkham.

I've embedded the episode of Tabletop where they play Elder Sign so you can see what all the fuss is.




Before I start this post I want to get this out there and make it perfectly clear for the record it WAS NOT my birthday yesterday it is NEXT WEEK.

There got it out of the way. Now I can tell you about this marvellous, amazing and some more adjectives that my limit vocabulary can't think of at this point in time, EARLY birthday cake that Doreen the mother of my friend made for me yesterday.

The cake was early because this master baker is going to be on holiday whilst it is my birthday. Doreen makes cakes that deserve to be on the tables of the gods. They are just simply divine.

For the record the only thing not edible on the cake were the Lego figures. Yep that's right those Lego bricks are edible, made from chocolate. That is attention to detail and dedication to the craft.

There was banter with my friend in previous weeks in the run up to next week, when I found out that there would be no birthday cake. I was my usual obnoxious self claiming my birthday would be ruined without a cake from Doreen. How could she do this to me? Well if my birthday was going to be ruined I'd use my contacts north of the border to return the favour for her holiday. Naturally my friend was just stoking things up, enjoying my wining knowing full well what had been plotted.

Apparently the rest of the office knew about the cake! Although it nearly did get let out of the bag the night before by one of them. But it went over my head, I was more concerned that they thought I would only be unbearable on my birthday and not everyday. Really!

The cake was a total surprise I had no idea. However there was a catch with having such an incredible cake. I had to share it with my colleagues. Like magic, cake always comes with a price dearie. And sharing with the the hoi pollio of the office would be the price I would be burdened with. The sacrifices and pain I endure for cake.

I owe Doreen such a big thank you. Words don't seem to describe how grateful I am, and in awe at this fantastic cake.

In a dark week this has been a beacon of light thank you so much Doreen and the mystery daughter who can not be named because of her left handedness and crippling gingerness.


Mini games to take on holiday

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend and colleague (I do that sometimes just to keep my social skills upto date), and the conversation turned to booked holidays for the Summer and a game that my colleague and her daughter played last year while on holiday (which was a match the word with its meaning game they came up with).

I asked if they were taking Tsuro with them this year (they are big fans of the game). However the response was in the negative because they were going to Spain again and it's too big to take etc etc.

So my response was had she not read my post where I had about four games in the Age of War box that I had taken to the pub with me? And can you believe that she said she hadn't? I mean WTF? This blog should be the first thing she checks everyday! I'll be testing her again soon and if she fails the test I'm naming and shaming.

Anyway this got me thinking there is a blog post here.

You've booked your family holiday, somehow avoiding a booking at Camp Crystal Lake. So you know that your holiday won't end in senseless mindless violence from a psychotic back from the dead killer.

The big day is about to arrive you are packing your bags and struggling to decide what to take with you. You know this is a family holiday and there will need to be some sort of family activity in the evening to strengthen the family ties between parents and offspring. You don't want them just to be faces buried in the screens of their iPads. But a board game is too big to take with you, or is it?

You have had a great day's activities, enjoyed some great local food of egg and chips and cheap plonk and all back at the accommodation for the evening.
But what to do for the rest of the evening? Well there are two options on the gaming front. In this post I'm going to concentrate on the physical games and not the virtual versions of games. I'll look at that side in a future post possibly, maybe, ok if I remember.
As I showed in the previous post it is possible to get carry several games with you in a small box. This will require for the holiday deboxing some games so they can all be carried in one small box. There are some great mini or micro games out there that can be taken with you to play as a family. Here are some of my recommendations, and this is by no means exhaustive and is based on what's in my collection.
The criteria I've used for selecting these mini/micro games is that they can be played by four or more people. I would say that they are also fun games but that is subjective anyway and I wouldn't still have the games in my collection if I didn't think they were fun.
In the list below I'm not going to go into depth about each game, you can get all that info on the Boardgame Geek website. I may mention the type of game and advise if the box needs removing before going into the holiday going box.
  • Zombie Dice – Zombie Dice comes in a nice cardboard or plastic tube depending on the version you buy. However for the sake of taking on holiday and space constraints get hold of the official zombie dice dice bag that can be used to hold the dice and replace the job of the tube for our holiday needs. Although the tube does make a rather satisfying noise when used. But needs must.
  • Love Letter or one of the licenced variants – ok my favourite version at the moment is the Batman one. But I'm sure once I get the Hobbit version I'll like that too (well I am a Tolkien fan). Depending if you have the boxed version or the one that comes with the nice little bag, you may have to put the box in a safe place and store in ziplock bag for the holiday.
  • Poker Dice – ok I like poker dice, a quick simple game or look up variants/games that use them in the excellent Reiner Knizia book about dice games.
  • Fluxx or one of its many versions – choose your favourite variant of the game mine currently is Star Fluxx. There is no waste with the packaging for this game, so I wouldn't even bother.
  • Age of War – Push your luck dice game with some set collection, and a bit of conflict being able to steal others completed cards. Duncan liked this so much he was inspired to create his own cards for the game (which by the way look pretty awesome). As I've shown the box for this can hold a few games if thought out carefully.
  • Roll for It – another dice game that will fit easily inside of another box. In fact I'd be tempted to get one more coloured dice for the Perudo dice to give each coloured dice in that game six to use for this game, and cutting down on the amount of dice taking and space. Naturally remember to only use five dice per player when playing Perudo.
  • Harbour – worker placement on a tiny scale. And well worth the effort of squeezing into the holiday gaming box.
  • Tiny Epic Kingdoms – a 4x game that packs a lot of punch in a small box. This is definitely a must take if you want something a bit more thoughtful.
  • Bang the Dice Game – Dice rolling, hidden roles, definitely a game that has too much packaging and can easily be placed inside another box.
  • Hanabi – bang, bang, boom. Work together to create an amazing fireworks display. Another game where the packaging although not excessive isn't really needed in our circumstances.
  • Eight-minute Empire – See my suggestion at the end of this list for this box. Another of the more thoughtful games as you via to control areas of the board.
  • Perudo or Liar's Dice – you could take everything you need which includes the dice, or just take the dice and improvise the cups once you are at the holiday destination.
  • Machi Koro – this game is all packaging and the cards and components can easily be rehomed for easier transporting to play on holiday.

If you use the Eight-Minute Empire box you can fit an amazing amount of game to take with you to pass the evenings away with. There is also a good variety in the types of game so there should be something there for most tastes.

All these games won't fit into one box even the Eight-Minute Empire box, however a lot of them will. Plus these are just suggestions, ideas based on my limited experience and collection. Your usage and enjoyment from this list may vary.
I've not included Star Realms in this list because it is a two player game, despite it having everything you need in a single box. However White Wizard are going to be releasing a four player game that fits into a similar sized box called Epic if I remember correctly from the press release. This will I think be on the list in a future update I'm sure. Whilst I'm talking of future games to consider Tiny Epic Galaxies when it hits the shelves will be worth adding (I did back this on kickstarter) it's from the same folks behind Tiny Epic Kingdoms.
Ones that will be worth looking at also are This Town Ain't Big Enough for the 2-4 Of Us a cheap micro game, and VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game. And by this I mean these games are pretty high up on my too buy list that they will most likely drop through my letter box sooner than later.
I do hope that you have found this post useful, that it has given you food for thought about how you can take some great tiny games with you to enhance that family bonding experience known as the annual holiday.

UPDATE 1/6/2015: I've just added Sushi Go! To my collection, and it definitely is a great game that should be added to the above list of games. I've also added Get Bit too that also should be on the list for consideration.

UPDATE 7/6/2015: Coup has just arrived and plays 2-6 players so perfect to take on a holiday. And small enough to combine into another box with other games.


Down in a blaze of glory

Last night saw the start of the sixth Casual Sunday Star Realms Tournament on the Facebook fanpage. So join me in this predictable tale of woe, as I retell the thrilling events of this first round showdown between me and PokemonMasta.
Sunday started so well I was on a streak, I had won a handful of games and was sitting at level 7 and 0, when the pairings went up for the first round on the event page. I had been drawn to fight PokemonMasta.
I sent my challenge for our first game. Sometimes I regret that when issuing challenges in games a virtual glove is not removed and slapped across the face as they did so many moons ago when duelling for honour or any excuse that could be found was used.
The first game with PokemonMasta continued the streak I had been on all day.
But that victory was short lived, I had not seen the dark storm clouds gathering in the distance. They had been blocked from my field of view by the bases PokemonMasta had deployed to hide them from my sight. It was one game apiece now, everything was once more hinging on the last game.

Our final game was going so well, we were trading shots at each other, chipping away at each other's authority. I had thirty odd authority enough time I thought to get a combo going for the win. Then the story of my Star Realms life – BAM gunned down in a combo blaze of glory. I was laying in a puddle of space debris left over from my defeated fleet of cards.

That was it I was just another beautiful corpse gunned down in his balding middle aged prime, and out of the tournament like 99% of my tournament games in the first round.

I had lost 2-1 after taking the an early lead. Somehow I had mirrored in Star Realms the score and flow of my beloved Liverpool in the days FA Cup Semi-Final match against Aston Villa. Liverpool too had taken an early lead only to have the match taken away from them. You'll Never Walk Alone even with my bad tournament record.

PS This Monty Python clip kind of sums up my games with CrShaner and frankly a lot of my games these days, I'm chipping away with the little hits (fish in the video) then my opponent just wacks me with a big combo hit (big fish). In fact isn't this most people's games. This should be the official gameplay video.