Monthly Archives: July 2015

Playing AGES

With the previous posts I have looked at the cards of AGES and setting up the play area. In this post I will look at playing AGES.

Before you start playing you need to work out who is going to go first. In the games manual there is one method for determining this using one each of the icon cards. But feel free to use any method you feel suitable. I personally like the “might is right” method! Where I say I’m going first and beat down on anyone that challenges me.

While playing you will want to organise your play area. A suggested layout is shown below.

  1. Collected Icons
  2. Played Locations
  3. Played cards and gold stack
  4. Discard pile
  5. Players deck

So you and the other players have decided who is going first. Starting with the first player and going in a clockwise direction each player will do the following phases during their turn.

Let’s look at these turn phases in more detail.

Icon Phase

This is the first thing that you do at the start of your turn. You will draw an icon card of your choice from one of the icon piles in the play area, and then place it face up in your play area.

Elite Phase

The Elite phase kicks in once one of the starting Elite characters has been bought and replaced by a new Elite character from the Elite character pile. Each Elite character has an elite phase ability (except the starting Elite characters). For each of the Elite characters with an active elite phase ability you must carry out the ability described.

I really enjoy this phase. It makes life interesting. It also adds to the decision making. When you have enough gold which to go for? which elite ability do you want to remove? One or two of the elite phase abilities also allow you to use card abilities in the main trade row. So you have to consider which character do you buy just to remove that ability from being used by your opponents if you can’t buy an elite character. I just love this whole extra level of tactics.

Main Phase

So in the main phase there are a few things that a player can do.

The player can do any combination of the following in any order:

  • Play cards
  • Use an on going ability
  • Move a location to the gold stack
  • Purchase cards


So let’s take a more indepth look at each of these options.


Play Cards

Below is a simplified diagram showing the order of play when playing a card that you wish to use its ability.
In the above diagram once you play your card and before you activate its abilities, your opponent gets a chance to play one of their cards that has an immediate ability. Usually these are weapons or relics that defeat characters. (This is the bit where the designer corrects me because there is a card(s) that also defeat locations or something)
If your opponent doesn’t play a card (route A on the above diagram) then you can then use the abilities on the card just played if you have the required icons to activate them. Then once the ability has been resolved the played card goes to the gold stack. Unless the card you played is a location in which case it goes into the section of your play area for locations.
If your opponent did play a card that defeated your played card (route B on the above diagram) your played card goes straight to your gold stack.
If you are going to just play a card for use as gold, it goes straight to the gold stack in your play area. And jesters go straight to the icon area.

REMEMBER: You don’t have to play all the cards in your hand each turn.

Use an on going ability

This is basically using the abilities of any location cards you have in play. You don’t have to use them it should be noted.

Move a location to gold stack

At some point during the game if you have some locations in play you might need to cash one or two in for their gold value to make that purchase you desperately need. The draw back is that the location once in the gold stack goes in the discard pile after it has been used for its gold value.

Purchase a card

With hopefully enough gold sitting in your gold stack you are able to buy a card or two from the Main trade row, or an Elite character.

When buying Elite characters remember you can only buy one Elite character per turn. Also you can push down the cost of an Elite character by having matching icons up to the number of icons that Elite character needs to activate its abilities. So for example if the Elite character you wanted to buy had four good icons on it, and you had only two good icons in your play area, then the cost of the Elite character would be reduced by two.

When spending your gold to make your purchases use some method to signify you have spent the gold. I like the idea of stealing from Magic and “tapping” the gold cards I’ve spent.

All purchased cards whether Elite characters or from the main trade row go straight to your discard pile.

End Phase

This final phase of the players turn is where the player tidies up his play area and draws back up to a hand of five cards.

  • So the first thing a player will do is take all the cards that make up the gold stack, along with any played jester cards in the icons area, and place them in the discard pile face up.
  • Secondly the player will then draw enough cards from the players deck to give them once more five cards in their hand. If there are no more cards in the players deck to be able to do this, the player takes the discard pile and shuffles it. The shuffled discard pile then gets placed face down and becomes the players deck. The player then continues to draw cards until they have a hand size of five.
  • Finally if the player bought any cards from the trade row, they will replace those empty slots with cards drawn from the main deck.

It’s now the next players turn (remember AGES can be played by up to four players).

So how do you know when a game of AGES ends?

When the last Elite card is placed in the Elite trade row the end game is triggered. Everyone then continues playing until the player who usually takes the last turn each round has had their turn. This means everyone has had the same number of turns, and a chance to grab some last go points.

Once the last player has finished their turn, everyone adds up the total card cost of the cards in their deck. The player with the highest score is the winner.

I hope folks have found this post useful and also the earlier ones. They have been a bit different from my usual irrelevant fair. Also knowing that Chris the designer is also reading them makes me a bit nervous. The three posts so far are an attempt to explain how to play the game. I suppose it would be easier to have done a Rodney Smith Watch It Played style video, but Rodney is king of them, and I’m better at the written word.

There will be at least one more post about AGES to come. Which will be my final thoughts on AGES, plus if I can talk Chris into it an interview. Until next time…





The Pillbug arrives

I've often seen Hive mentioned in the same breathe as Chess. I can't remember the exact context, but I would imagine it's because they are both abstract tactical games.

Within this context an expansion for Hive can be compared to getting an expansion for Chess. Expansions in Hive add new pieces to the game that have new ways of moving, and/or abilities that add to the tactical complexity of the game. Just imagine adding a new piece to Chess. It's a bit like that.

I know that the Pocket addition of the game comes with two expansions straight out of the box, the ladybug and mosquito.

So know that I am the proud owner of Hive Pocket in my wonderings around the interweb I stumbled across the fact that there was now a new(ish) expansion for the game called The Pillbug.

If I had the standard version of Hive and the 360 version this expansion for Hive would be amazing value for me. Sadly I only have the pocket version (unplayed at the moment, but I do carry it around with me on the remote chance I might get an opportunity to play it) so not as much value for me personally.

But hats off to the publisher for putting such a great value expansion together.

Having now seen the size of the standard edition pieces I'm really glad I have the pocket edition. I like the size of the pieces so much better.

Finally for this post thought I would end with another Loki picture from this morning of him looking super cute and all innocent.


Doesn’t feel like a lucky escape

So you have seen the earlier post for today where I talk about the John Kovalic Special Guest box for Zombicide. Well to get to that box I needed to move a box with some of my Zombicide stuff out of the cupboard first to get to it. So I left the open box on my bed.

That box basically had the game tiles in it plus some (clean) plastic take away boxes full of Zombicide plastic figures and a dice bag of Zombicide dice.

I came down stairs thinking nothing of it. A couple of hours later I had to go back upstairs.

I was horrified by the scene of carnage that greeted me. Loki had struck, he had chewed, nay destroyed two of the character figures, threw some zombies on the floor, been in the dice bag.

Above Loki looking all innocent.

Who had Loki killed? It was Mitch and Elsa who had been mauled by the young apex predator. Survivors of countless struggles against zombie hordes. Yet unable to defend themselves against a yet not fully grown attack chihuahua.

Above the remains of Mitch (left) and Elsa (right) after being recovered from the crime scene.

Zombicide characters are not cheap to replace, especially rare ones (which these two luckily aren't). A visit to eBay has Mitch now traveling his way from the US of A, while Elsa has a road trip on these shores ahead of her.

So they have been replaced, but that's an expense I could do without. I'm lucky that the ball of chaos called Loki didn't do even more damage than he did. Maybe he was sending me a message.

It's hard to stay mad at such a cutie, especially when he's snuggled up next to me under a small pile of pillows.

I just need to remember what destructive force of nature he is.


Zombicide: Special Guest John Kovalic

Back when the Zombicide Season 3 kickstarted was running Cool Mini Or Not (CMON) gave me (ok not just me but everyone backing the game) the opportunity to add on various bits and pieces to our pledge. One of the ones I took them up on was getting the Special Guest box by John Kovalic.

I know John mainly (and I would imagine this may be the case for many) for his amazing work on what can be described as the “popular” game Munchkin, where he does the art work.

His cartoony humorous style could be credited for making the Munchkin games. I don't think they would be the same game without it.

So for me when they said John had been asked to design some characters to be used in the game Zombicide, my excitement level went through the roof. And clicking that add button to my pledge was instinctive, no thought process at all.

When you open up the box, inside you are greeted by four characters from John's comic strip Dork Tower ( Matt (blue), Cilly (pink), Igor (red) and Carson (orange), a small bag containing the obligatory little black skull level indicators, and the character cards in multiple languages. There are no zombivore versions of these characters. So once ya dead, ya dead! No coming back…

As the pictures show below the sculpts (that's the technical pretentious term for plastic figures) really are beautifully done, and have really bought Johns designs to life. A better person than I could really make these pop with some paint.

So let's look at the character cards for John's four creations.

As you can see they have 'Helicoptor pilot' and 'Fast roping' abilities split between them. Which is new for Season 3 (we have a helicoptor in Season 3 ^_^).

Just from looking at the characters Carson is my favourite. Apart from being a dog lover (not obvious is it having the wolf pack and all), Carson has that whole Snoopy thing going for him. Plus that little armoured personal carrier (world war two-ish I think, I seem to remember seeing something similar in my old British comics Battle and Warlord in the WWII stories from time to time), bren gun and helmet. All stuff you definitely want when taking on the zombie hordes.

UPDATE: it's been pointed out by John himself that Carson is in fact a muskrat. Who looking dog like apparently is an on going joke in the comic strip. But even as a muskrat Carson can still have that snoopy thing going for him! In the meantime I'm going to go clean the egg off my face. And apologise to Carson for the slight to him, and also to John.

If you are a fan of Zombicide and John Kovalic then this guest pack is a no brainer.


Arctic Scavengers Joins Pile of Shame

According to recent news reports scientists are predicting that in the 2030's the planet earth will enter into a new mini ice age. Which means that things are going to get pretty tough for us survivors after the zombie apocalypse hits.

I've been preparing for the impending zombie apocalypse by playing the likes of Zombicide and Run,Fight or Die! on the tabletop. Naturally Plants vs Zombies, Project Zomboid, Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Resident Evil (whatever you would class the zombie like infected as) have trained me on the consoles and PC over the years along with numerous zombie movies since the eighties video nasty boom.

I have Dead of Winter sitting in my tabletop pile of shame which also should (and will) be part of this training regime. The nice thing about this game is the hidden role/traitor element which will help encourage me to be suspicious of everyone. This part of the game is also great for preparing for the workplace.

But after reading that article and having survived the last ice age to hit Wisbech and the fens (photos taken above by my dad at the time – late seventies iirc). I thought I need to up my training regime to improve my skills for this situation.

So when Arctic Scavengers came up for sale at a good price on that Facebook selling group, how could I resist?

Arctic Scavengers is a two to five player deck building game set in the year 2097 when the world has been plunged into another ice age. You build your tribe, search for scarce resources, attack other tribes (the other players), perfect training I think you will agree.

Ok I liked the sound of the theme, Shut Up and Sit Down had sung it's praises, as had The Dice Tower. And I love deck building games. My most played game is a deck builder after all. This game is ticking a lot of boxes for me.

So a new bargain addition to my pile of shame has been added, and another game to dream about getting to the table.


Weekend Regrets

Can you believe after being so adamant that I would get to play Star Wars Imperial Assault on my visit to see Nath last weekend, guess what?

Yep, we didn't get to play it. Well I guess some of you may have worked that out from the couple of posts over the weekend from said visit down South.

However just before leaving yesterday I did get a chance to at least show Nath the awesome, nah amazing miniatures that are used in the game.

Nath was impressed with the miniatures, especially the AT-ST models. And then rightly so he asked if I had considered painting them. Der! Yep but at the moment that is not where I have any skills.

For those with a better memory than me, will remember painting miniatures is one of the skills I want to develop this year. Which to my shame I haven't made any progress on yet.

I agree with Nath that the miniatures would look good painted. In fact I think they would be taken to an even higher level of awesome painted. Which has been proven online with all the painted ones I have seen.

Now I just need to get this game to the table again, and hopefully on a regular basis.


Gaming with Nath – Sunday

The saying goes “let sleeping dogs lie” (which Loki seems to think doesn't apply to Strider but that's another story for another day) and it also applies to teenagers and Nath. So despite me being awake earlier today than the previous day, Nath didn't rise from his resurrection pit until after midday once more.

By the time he'd had a nicotine fix (which he kindly had after making me a caffeine fix), his extremely long shower (a habit he has never ever grown out of) we sat down to play another game of Roll for the Galaxy.

Well it made sense considering I'd left it set up still from playing our first game of it last night.

Once more Nath won but by a smaller margin this time, just a couple of points.

Imperial Settlers

Nath didn't enjoy this game, he hadn't got his head round it before it was time to drop him off to work.

We were both learning the game at the same time. Which didn't help. I had found time to watch a couple of videos earlier on playing the game. They helped a little, especially in the setup.

We had barely enough time to play the first round and start a second, before it was time to run Nath to work.

I did like the card drafting mechanic the game has, that stops the last player choosing from being at too much of a disadvantage and having the first player having a big advantage. Basically the game has two drafts. In the first draft the first player chooses first. While in the second draft the last player to choose in the previous draft gets to choose first, meaning the previous first player chooses last. I think that explains it!

I really need to play a game or two now to the end. But this made a great intro for me to the game despite and sadly Nath not enjoying it. I do hope he will give the game another chance.

Games added to my wish list

  • Dark Moon – a hidden traitor dice game which gives the Battlestar Galactica experience but in a much shorter time frame.
  • Spectre Ops – which has been described as Metal Gear Solid the board game. I've watched a couple of vids recently about the game and I have to admit it has grown on me a lot.



Sometimes it's sad to see some-one put up a collection for sale of a game they loved playing over the years. But you know it is right for them to do so. The spark has gone, it's not fun any more for them. They have moved on to pastures new, while their old love sits at home unloved hidden away.

It's better in this situation that they both call it a day and move on. The loved game deserves a new loving home. A home where they will get the love and attention they deserve.

This way the split can be amicable and part on good terms. Even remain friends with memories of the good times together. Maybe sometime in the future they will bump into each other and reminisce about the good times over a friendly drink. Before they know it they are embracing, fumbling around, rolling dice and moving counters.

The next morning the horror of the previous night hits. The gamete of emotions, guilt, revulsion, denial, blame, regret, hit both. Sure it had been fun. However that spark they once had was still missing. They go their separate ways head hung low, skulking back to their current partners.

At the opposite end is when you know it's the wrong thing to do. Yeah both sides have hit a rough spot, but they just need to work it out. Sit down and talk. Communicate how they are feeling.

If they go their separate ways you know both will be filled with regret and a deep depressing sadness. Knowing that the one, that soul mate has gone from their lives.

Sure they will find new games and players. But there will always be that something missing. Nothing will compare to what they both had. They will go through life as if it was a dream, wondering what could of been. Regretting not being with their soul mate.

Decades later they will meet up by chance both weathered by time. The magic spark is still there. They chat about the separate paths taken to this point in time. Deep sorrow hits when they both realise how wasted the years have been without each other.

What short remaining time they have left will be spent together, but it's a shadow of the happiness they could have had.


This post is dedicated to Todd and Android:Netrunner may you work out your differences

Gaming With Nath – Saturday

After eventually waking up at 11:30, finally convincing Nath to get some milk for a coffee, we actually were up and ready to play games around 1:30.

I know the above makes it sound like we have been extremely lazy. However the mitigating circumstances I'm about to give to go to excuse this slothiness. Nath had been working yesterday from 5pm until 2am. Guess who gladly dropped Nath off at work and picked him up (once the call came through saying he was ready to be picked up)? Yep me. Nath then watched a little bit of TV while finishing off the remains of Dominos pizza that I had ordered for tea.

So final getting to sleep time was more like 3am. Which means our final crawling from the depths of sleep isn't as bad as it had initially seemed.

I won't go into the txt wars between us for who would make the coffee. But it was a moot victory because Nath had no milk. I only drink black coffee when I don't want to share my drink!

Star Realms

Our first game of the day and the big hit of the day with Nath. We've played several games of this today. Including mixing in the Heroes and Events from the Crisis expansion.

Nath wants Star Realms for his birthday in October. That is how much he likes the game. That will give me time to track down the Gambits expansion for him. He won't get the promos I have, but he will get the base game, Crisis, Gambit and the deck box and a play mat. I'll call this the ultimate Star Realms gift box.

I'm now pushing Nath to also get the awesome app so we can play between visits.

Run, Fight or Die!

Nathan was enjoying this push your luck zombie dice game. Until his evil dad (played by me) killed him playing an event card dealing the final wound point to kill him and get the win with a single follower worth two victory points.

For me the game really does build the tension up, and force you to push your luck to clear zombies away before they kill you.

Nations the Dice Game

I think Nath was indifferent to this game. It was really quick to play and I think Nath was surprised at how quick.

I enjoyed the game we played a lot, and think this will make an excellent game for my non-gamer friends.

Roll for the Galaxy

A slow start while we got to grips with the rules and what was going on. Which meant that Nath didn't like it at that point. But once the learning curve had been passed Nath started to enjoy the game and get into it. I think Naths further enjoyment was increased by the fact he beat me by a good margin.

As I have said previously the nice thing is that these games are new to both of us, so we are at an equal starting point playing them. Well except Star Realms which Nath has picked up very fast.

Right time to play more Star Realms…