Monthly Archives: May 2015

Confessions of an UK Games Expo Noob

The UK Games Expo took place at the NEC the last three days. I think it's safe to say that this is the UK's largest board gaming related event. With it getting bigger next year! (More on that later).

So the thing I think most people will want to know is what did I get at the show.

As the photo above shows I have finally caved and got Krosmaster Arena. What swung it was it was being sold at a very good price, saving about £15 on it, plus it came with two promo characters. I also found a copy of Get Bit! Which was on Tabletop a while back, and looked a fun filler game. Now Sushi Go! Was bought after having a demo game at one of the stands. It was really good fun, quick to learn, and not that expensive.

At LAST! I was able to get a Machi Koro playmat. It's a lovely mat in my opinion.

Naturally I got some Netrunner stuff. Luckily the new data pack Chrome City had just come out, and was available. Plus I picked up a couple of old data packs I didn't have. Plus as the photo below shows an awesome beautiful looking official playmat.

I managed to get a copy of Roll For The Galaxy along with three Wolf Dice bags.

Then finally today I also picked up a spare set of dice for Krosmaster Arena, another two characters and a second map for the game.

While waiting with Zoe and the boys for Todd to have his lunch break from playing in the Netrunner nationals I got talking to one of the X-Wing competitors who was on a break. He made an interesting statement that he had looked at getting into Netrunner but was put off by the “high” cost of entry to be competitive at a competition level. His argument was that in the two or so years that Netrunner has been out with the expansions it is now too costly to buy them all.

I disagreed with him over this, pointing out that X-Wing at the level he was playing at could also be looked at that way, having to buy ships that you may never play with just for a card, and the game he had once played Magic The Gathering was astronomical to get into at a competition level. I also pointed out at least with Netrunner you could either just buy the cards you needed or the data packs with them in, which would of been one solution. Thinking about it, you could probably buy everything for Netrunner for the cost of one or two of the more rare Magic cards (I know some of the cards go for two or three hundred pounds each, maybe even more).

However it got me thinking. You don't need to buy all the data packs in one go. I'm not, I'm buying a couple a month, targeting specific packs if I need a particular card.

But then I'm not looking at the moment at playing at competition level. I know this is what some people like about playing some of these games the competitive competition side. But for me the first and foremost side is that I'm having a good time playing the game. I want to be good at playing the game. But if I don't get to a competition level then it won't kill the game for me.

Saw the guy today and found out how well he did in the tournament. He did well finishing 36th, just in the top third, and if I remember correctly he said yesterday he was flying two IG-88 ships.


On Friday I took part in the D&D Dicemasters tournament. There was only four of us in this, the majority of players were taking part in the DC/Marvel tournament.

At the start there was some confusion about the format of the competition, on the Facebook page for the show the format was declared as rainbow draft, while the organiser was going to have it as a constructed match. I'd only bought my basic action cards along for this because that was all that was needed for a rainbow draft game.

The organiser settled on the rainbow draft format, which gave each player twelve packs each to open. So after the passing round of cards you end up with twenty four cards and dice to choose a team of eight from.

The organiser was generous in that we were given a playmat plus a Pheonix Force promo card. PLUS to make up for the confusion over format we got an alternate artwork Beast Mutate #666 card plus an alternate artwork Harley Quinn card.

To cut a long story short I came fourth or last depending on the spin I want to put on this. I could of come joint second! How? Well my last game was against Scott, and after a mega, and I mean mega long first game which I won I was drained. Scott took the second game, which was a lot quicker. But I was exhausted by now. So I conceded the last game giving Scott the win. That put Scott into second place with two wins. If, and it's a big if I had gone on and won the third game that would of given three of us out of the four players with one win and making it a three way draw for second place.

I have to say it took me a while to work out how best to play my team and what the possible win conditions were. A more skilful player would of got to that point a lot lot quicker.

But still I got ten boosters for the D&D set as a prize. So for the ten pound entry fee, a playmat, twenty two boosters, three promo cards, not a bad return on the investment.

Plus this was my first time playing rainbow draft which was a great experience, and an afternoon playing Dicemasters.

I was down for taking part in the constructed nationals for Dicemasters but I hadn't really had time to look round and there were a couple of things I wanted to get before the show closed, and I was enjoying my time with Zoe, Todd and their two boys Ethan and Tristan.

Final Thoughts

I had a great time at the expo. I bumped into people I knew from my local FLGS, and a friend or two. Plus I met up with Zoe, Todd and the boys.

It was very hectic. On Saturday the main open play area was taken over by the Netrunner and X-Wing nationals which meant there was a severe shortage of space to play games.

The expo could of done with more space. Which I know from the expo guide they will have next year.

The expo staff were really polite and helpful.

Lots of cosplay especially Dr Who related, the two daleks were great fun, and a few Star Wars related ones, the Stormtroopers were very popular.

I think the half hour lunch that the Netrunner nationals and also the X-Wing were allowed was rediculous. The queues were ridiculously long for food, over fourty minute waits to be served. Unless you had the foresight to bring a packed lunch there was no chance of players getting something to eat, let alone have time to eat it.

There were no previews that I saw. With Origins on next week in the US I think they are being saved up for that. So why weren't we allowed to have previews? I'm talking of stuff like the new Imperial Assault expansions, or cards from the Age of Ultron Dicemasters, or games that will be out a month later at GenCon (another US show). Do we not warrant the same treatment as the US games buying public? Is this a drawback of timing? Would we have gotten some if the show was between Origins and GenCon? It does kind of make me feel we in the UK are not treated the same as our American brethren. Oh wait we aren't.

I was hoping to get a copy of the new artwork Resistance but the only copies I saw were the original/current artwork.

It was great to get a game of Netrunner with Todd, managed to answer one burning question I had about the game, and getting some advice on my deck. Naturally I lost. There will be a better write up of the deck in another post.

Overall a great first time experience at the show. Definitely going next year.


Loki Gem-Keeper One of My Fav Cards

Loki, good grief does he live up to his name?

He may look cute, but he is just a little ball of mischief. For the record I didn't name him!
One of my early favourite cards from Dice Masters is the Loki Gem-Keeper card. It was a staple in teams especially ones that aimed to control the other player. The ability to shutdown a character and stop it being fielded is powerful.
For Loki Gem-Keeper to work it needs to sit in the field doing its job stopping that character being fielded. To aid in this Loki has a high defensive value but a low attack value. The Level 1 version with careful management can be used as a blocker and stay on the field, but when you get a level 2 or 3 version you have a great blocker too.
The nice thing is if you have Antman on your team with the global that allows you to swap the attack and defence values of a dice you also have a potential killing blow as well.
In the DC set that's just been released Loki Gem-Keeper has been replaced by The Joker Clown Prince of Crime. Same cost, same effect, slightly worse defensive stats but slightly better offensive stats. Is the trade off worth it? I'm on the fence about it, undecided. I think that The Joker is more dangerous than Loki, so having a better attack is more thematic.
Now I am a big Joker fan, so when it comes to choosing one for use in a team my heart will pick The Joker every time. But sometimes the head has to rule, and if I'm going to do the Antman global then I'm going to have to go Loki.
Onething I'm playing with, with some of my teams is the use of overcrush to do the damage to the opponent. It forces the opponent to think about which dice blocks which attacker. It negates using sidekicks as blockers for those with high attacks because the excess damage carries over. Into this scenario having them allocate a sidekick or low defence valued blocker to a Loki Gem-Keeper and then pulling the switcheroo on Loki's stats could be the game winner. A one off trick, then the surprise next time won't be there and they will be looking for it but that distraction may let another hitter through.
I'm not going to look into how to buy the dice for either because there are so many ways now in the game to do that whether it's reducing the cost or drawing extra dice to roll to get the required energy to purchase the dice.
I like Loki the character, and having a dog that lives up to the name does make life interesting. Loki Gem-Keeper still has a place in the current meta of the game in my opinion. Despite my love of The Joker I think Loki edges it over Joker. What do you think?


A big thank you

I need to say a very very big thank you to my friend Freddy. Why? Well thanks to Freddy I'm the proud owner of the following two games that arrived today from the U.S. Of A.

Why did I need the help of Freddy to get these? Well ordering from the publisher in the U.S. was too expensive. And I wasn't able to find a place selling both in the UK (although I was directed to a couple of shops in the UK that had the Brew Crafters Card Game).
So a shout for help went out to Freddy. The plan was Freddy would order the games have them sent to him and then he would post them on to me. I can see the cogs turning and you thinking sneaky. Well it was because doing this way was less than half the cost that the publisher wanted to charge for postage.
Why? Oh Why do companies like to profit from sending goods internationally? Surely if Freddy can send it from the U.S. To the UK for $10 why can't the publisher? But I've had similar in the past in the outdoors world too. I would even accept a little increase of about $5 to cover insurance. But when the cost of postage is more than four times the cost of the goods ordered something smells.
Once again I'm very grateful Freddy for doing me this big favour.

Where I stick it to the man!

Ended up with three of today's Lego give away from the Daily Hate newspaper. I feel dirty having had to buy the paper to get two of them. I'll have to live with that dark spot on my soul.


TGOC 2015 Al’s Last Dance Part 6

After a weekend of celebrating, debauchery, gluttony and singing “I would walk 500 miles” really loudly with other Challengers at Braemar (most likely), potentially doing some clothes washing (although that does use up very important beer tokens), we have the latest up date of the misadventures of Al and Lord Elpus. In which after all that excitement at Braemar they headed off to their mountain retreat to recover.


How many sidekicks does a hero need?

Just how many sidekick and basic action dice do you need?

The photo above doesn't include the dice I have in my dice bag for playing. These are the spares from all the four Dicemasters starter sets so far (if I remember correctly I bought two of the Uncanny X-Men set). Plus this will grow a little bit more when the DC one ordered arrives.
Plus I'm getting a nice little stock of the awful waxy dice bags they give in the starter set.


Intensity Factor 11

I played my first “three minute” game of Star Realms today. Why did I leave it so long before doing this? it was intense!

So let me step back and explain what I'm talking about for those not familiar with Star Realms and specifically the Star Realms app.

With Star Realms the app there is an online play option that allows you to play against a specific player (if you know their ID) or you can rely on pot luck and let the Star Realms servers pick a suitable opponent for you.

Naturally when setting up a game you can choose to play with the Gambit expansion or not, plus choose between being given upto forty eight hours for a turn. Which is brilliant for allowing life to happen during a game. And this is how I've been playing the online side of things since that fateful day earlier in the year to test my mettle against other Star Realms players.

However the second turn time I hadn't tried, which was the three minute turn.

I'd seen comments on the Facebook page about people losing games because their app hadn't refreshed in time. Which hadn't really endeared me to trying this faster version of the online game. Yes you can play the other turn time just as fast but there isn't that pressure to do so.

So today I decided to throw caution to the wind and give the three minute turn a go.

Wow! What an intense experience. That time pressure makes such a big difference. No switching between multiple games. You need to remain focused on that single game. As I pointed out above people have lost games because the timer ran out due to lack of refreshing in time.

I was determined not to have that as an issue, and with the iPad version of the app it wasn't.

Three minutes may seem like a long time to take a turn. But let me tell you it isn't. During that brief down time when you are waiting for your opponent to take their turn, you are working through scenarios of what to buy in the trade row, working out how to best play your cards. Then throwing it all to the wind because they have just bought the cards you wanted and they have been replaced with cards you don't want. Yes this all happens in the normal game but it's more compressed.

How best to describe this for none players? Well you have seen the chess players with their little chess clocks and their timed games? Three minute turns in Star Realms is like that but fun!

Oh and for the record I won the game!


Five Tribes Politically Correct Expansion

In previous posts I have mentioned that I had ordered this expansion from Board Game Geeks store. I think I also mentioned also about the fuss that a certain card had caused. In new printings of the game that controversial card has been replaced. However for those that have one of the earlier printings (I'm assuming there have been more than one to meet demand for the game) you can get this expansion to replace the card that can't be named.

The expansion isn't expensive five dollars if I remember correctly plus a dollar shipping. So a bargain really. Plus to sweeten the deal you also get a djinn card to add to the game too.
So here is that controversial card (on the right) plus the new card (on the left). I can see both sides of the argument that of the designer and those that find it offensive. For the record I am against slavery (heck Wisbech is the home of Thomas Clarkson a key figure in the abolition of slavery).
Now I'm sitting on the fence here on whether the card should be played with in the game. However I think when I play Five Tribes with friends and others then I think I need to be able to take the other players opinions into account. So by having both versions I can do that.
However if they do find the card offensive, sadly they will have to put up with the card being referred to in the playing instructions and player reference cards as the slave card. I assume that in the reprinting this too will be replaced with the new cards name.
Will the djinn card included in this expansion be included in the reprinting? I don't know. I would be surprised. As I hinted at the top of the post this djinn card is a sweetener to make having to buy the replacement cards more palettable. So if I was to bet money on this I'd be placing my hard earned cash on that it wouldn't be included.
So is it worth getting? For me yes for the reason given above. Yes if you are a completionist and must have everything for a game.
Remember it's not essential to the game, which can still be enjoyed without it.