Monthly Archives: July 2016

Out Next Week WS1Aug16

I've not done one of these for a few weeks, mainly because there has been very little out that has been of interest or grabbed my attention. As I said in a previous post it's the lull before the GenCon Storm that is next week.

With FFG announcing the app crippled second edition of Mansions of Madness at the end of last week, I was surprised to see that it's hitting the shelves of your FLGS next week. I'm glad I'm not intending to buy this albatross because it's going to set you back £93. So for a hundred quid you can get the game, a kebab and a can of pop!

FFG with the second item to catch my eye this week, and one I'm more likely to buy. Well ok I will buy, because I can use them to play with Nath. Oh what is it? They are releasing the two 2015 World Championship decks that the 2015 World Champion used. I'm going to treat these like Magic duel decks.

Finally one of the hottest games of the year will hit the shelves, having only just reached its Kickstarter backers, and that's Scythe from Stonemaier Games. The Collectors edition of this is going for around £100 at the moment with its pimped out components. So £60 isn't looking too bad. Compare it with that app crippled monstrosity Mansions of Madness, and it looks a bargain. Although I want Cry Havoc more, this is a close second.

Well that's the stuff that has caught my eye from the Asmodee Borg Collective controlled Esdevium. Don't forget 12% of these prices is due to Brexit. What's caught your eye for next week?


FEG@TA 29Jul16

It was a mini meet up this evening, a kind of pre-con aperitif so to speak. What con? The yearly Madhouse Minicon held by Madhouse UK that run a turn-based fantasy game. 

Ok due to the continuing knock on effect on my social plans from two/three weeks ago, I wasn’t going to be spending the weekend at the minicon. This weekend if the plans work out will be spent gaming with Nath.

Debbie, myself and Lucus started our evening of gaming off with Dalek Dice. I won. But still think I prefer Zombie Dice to this.

Afterwards some con attendees arrived. So while Jamie introduced them to Dalek Dice, Lucus and I played Magic the Gathering using a couple of dueling decks. In our first game Lucus was just unable to get any creatures out to defend himself or to attack. He had land,in fact enough to summon creatures. Sadly it was all swamp, and he needed water! So I was able to happily field creatures and swing away at will. 

We swapped decks. And things went much better for Lucus. He was able to get some creatures out to attack with, and even inflict damage. However by that time in the game I had enough out on the battlefield to get me another win.

I like dueling decks. Magic without the collectable element. You can just play a game with two “evenly” pre-built decks and have fun. I do enjoy the deck building side, it’s just my pocket can’t handle the full on booster collectable experience, or justify the expense because I don’t play it enough.

What was to be my final game of the evening was 7 Wonders Duel with Debbie. 

I like this game a lot. It really is a great two player game. Which is why I think this has been the third week in a row this has managed to hit the table.

This game was particularly close and came down to the last card of the third age. If Debbie had gotten to the card first we would have had to start counting victory points. Which was going to be a hard one to call. I had nearly thirty coins, would have had ten victory points from the war track. But Debbie had a lot of cards giving victory points in front of her. 

However we didn’t get to that scenerio of points counting. The last card was mine. A war card doing three attack. Which gave me the instant war victory. It doesn’t get closer than that. Well maybe winning by one victory point. 

I think out of four games now, none have come down to points. They have all been instant wins split evenly somehow between war and science. 

Still love this game. 

But that was it. I was flagging. Strider had been sick in the night, and had been in and out for over an hour before hand. I think he was feeling sick but just couldn’t be during that time. So I was really knackered. I had started to drift off earlier in the afternoon! Debbie had also decided she was going to head off. The place was starting to build up with con attendees. Not much gaming at that point, more social, renewing friendships stuff.

This last photo shows how I finished off the evening. Yep stuffing lots of questionable meat into my face!

Start selling your organs

Next week sees Gen Con taking place. Where publishers will be vying for the publics attention with over priced stands, and sneak peaks at games about to be released, along with the obligatory big news announcements to try and grab the attention of those unable to attend.

However FFG are getting a jump start on the competition and their sister companies in the Asmodee collective by releasing what seems like almost daily or every other day news announcements about their upcoming roster of games and expansions.

Today FFG have decided that they haven’t got enough of our money and they want you to be selling organs as well.

They are going to be turning you into gaming junkies with their new collectable dice game Star Wars Destiny.

At first reading I instantly thought Star Wars dice masters. But after skim reading the article it also has a card/deck building element. So must go watch the videos etc later after I’ve done some gaming this evening.

The game hits your FLGS or “dealer” as they now be known in November.

Here is the official announcement

Utter madness…

So FFG (part of the Asmodee all assimulating collective) announced the other day Mansions of Madness 2.0 or second edition.

Why would I mention this fact here? It's not as if I've played the first edition or such a big fan I'm always playing the game and talking about it.

What bought it to my attention and guaranteed I will never buy the game, just as I will never buy Portal Games up coming game First Martians, no matter how good the game is, that the game has an integral app that means you can't play the game without the app.

I have in the past talked about this very subject. I'm a fan of companion apps that add to the experience, or replace some functionality of the game, but the game can still be played with out the app. It's not needed.

As soon as you can only play the game with the app, I'm out. The publisher will not be seeing me opening my wallet and parting with hard earned cash to purchase their game. I'll happily play the game (at least once) if some other sap has been fooled into parting with their cash for a “magic bean”.

Already one of my points has been made, Golem Arcana a miniatures game that relies on an integral app to play is no longer being supported. No new expansions, no app updates. That's it. Done, finished.

The most recent code-update from the end of 2015 is the final state of the App, representing our best foot forward for supporting as many iOS and Android devices and operating systems as possible at that time. We recognize that there are still many minor bugs and sometimes unexpected behavior, and that future devices or OS updates may create additional bugs.

So as the above quote from the Arcana Golem publisher admits, they are aware of and make similar if not the same points I've made in the past.

I'll give another example, Lords of Waterdeep the app. Still being sold on the App Store for £4.99, hasn't been updated for a year if I remember correctly. On my iPhone 6s unplayable, start a game with AI players, finish a round, before the game can start the second round it restarts the game at round one with a new secret id, as if you are just starting the game again. On my iPad it plays fine, no problem. The difference? My iPhone is on iOS 9.3.3 while the iPad is on 9.3.2!

This demonstrates one of my points. It can not be assumed that the publisher/developer will always provide updates, and that the app will always work. Maintaining a program is an overhead. A costly overhead. Have these companies factored this in? Are they prepared to keep this app updated at least on a yearly bases for a minimum of five years? Why five years? I plucked the number out of the air, and thought that would be a minimum a gamer should expect the publisher/developer to keep the app going. Arcana Golem didn't even make that (coming out in 2014).

But hey as you can probably guess I feel passionately about this. Oh well my words on this little niche blog with its small but exclusive readership won't change a thing, or cause the likes of Eric Lang and Ignacy Trzewiczek to rethink the issue. Heck why would they listen to me? The Dice Tower crew and their stable mates from the various podcasts and YouTube shows carry far more weight than here.

But I'll keep shouting about this and how it's like the Emperors new clothes. Luckily I like the sound of my own voice!

Stand up and take a bow

Following on from my recent post where I named and shamed my worse customer support experience. Here is my shouting from the roof tops my praise for great customer support. 

The following companies truly get customer support. 

All I can say is that both times that I had to contact AEG to get replacements for damaged or missing bits from games I’d bought second hand, AEG have stepped up and sent replacements. Both times my expectations were I had to pay, well it wasn’t their fault. But each time AEG generously replaced for the bits for free.

But this isn’t the reason why I’m shouting their praise. No they responded quickly to my emails, and had the replacement bits in the post quickly. That quick response can’t be over looked. I’m still waiting to hear from Fun Forge three weeks and counting since my last chaser email.

A small company but a really amazing level of customer support. Not only did the guy respond quickly to my email (while he was on vacation) but had the missing bit in the post and in my grubby mitts within a week! This really did take my breath away. 

A very slick, professional service using a call tracking system. Not the fastest response times compared to the two above, but still within acceptable time limits. But they did keep to within the deadlines they set for getting things resolved. I kind of felt this was the less personal of the contacts with the support departments. But still they did the Biz.

At first I thought this one was going to be a problem. Free delivery of replacement cards in the US but not to rest of world!

But after a rant it turns out they were only asking for a contribution to postage. Well that could have been communicated better. 

However still, quick responses and quick delivery won the day. 

An honourable mention…

I love Portal games but somehow gremlins are conspiring to sabotage this. What saves Portal is that they get social media, respond quickly, and try and resolve issues quickly. My only real issue is that stuff posted by them seems to take longer than other companies.

But still it’s hard to be angry with such a lovable company. Especially when they appear to working so hard to solve the issues. 

I’d love to hear about your support issues.

The case of the tin soldier 

Last night four of the most promising detective minds in the kingdom gathered to solve the second case in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, the case of The Tin Soldier.

With the combined intellect of an amoeba it would seem we totally failed to solve this case. We had picked up the importance of one or two clues. However our theory was so wrong, just like the Parliamentary Labour Party and its contempt for democracy and its party members.

I’m very undecided about this game. It does seem to rely on the fact you pick up on the slightest of clues to be able to successfully solve the cases. With much reliance on you chasing red herrings, and running down many rabbit holes.

I don’t know even in the cold light of day, having slept on it, and attempted two cases now, and writing the above short paragraph. I think I’m falling down on the side of not being a big fan of the game.

It will be interesting to compare this to say Time Stories once I get that to the table. 

My failed weekend

If you are a geek/nerd of any kind you can’t have missed all the coverage of the annual geekfest known as Comic Con held at San Diego this weekend.

This is the place all the areas of geek culture such as comics,movies,tv, collectables, toys, cosplay gather to celebrate all things geeky.

In reality it’s a load of media companies vying for attention and approval of what at best be described as desperately needy fanatical geeks.

To grab that all important stamp of approval and get that oh so important buzz for whatever “product” they are whoring out at the con. The marketing departments enter into a geek version of an arms race, dragging out actors (the bigger the name the better) from the shows/movies to perform like dancing bears on stage in the form of panels. They also have “exclusive” clips for those lucky enough to get into the packed hall to see the performing actors. Which somehow find their way onto the Internet afterwards, either officially or unofficially.

If comic book guy from the Simpsons died this is the heaven he would go to.

Due to my weekend getting totally borked. I ended up not seeing Nath (that’s next weekend now), missing the Imperial Assault organised play at my FLGS The Hobbit Hole, and sitting in front of my TV with the fan on watching Comic Con coverage between episodes of Deep Space Nine on Netflix. It got so bad that when I was buying tickets for the opening night of Suicide Squad yesterday, I bought a ticket for Star Trek Beyond for this morning.

I have to say there have been some great trailers for movies coming out. And yes the Suicide Squad ones are getting me excited despite that awful looking Joker.

The teasers for Wonder Woman, and Justice League looked good. I particularly liked the Justice League one.

The trailers/teasers for the upcoming Netflix Marvel shows look awesome. Not long for Luke Cage, the Defenders didn’t show much, but the Iron Fist gave a first look but no clue to the tone. It was confirmed Daredevil series three and a Punisher series.

Love the look of Dr Strange in the new trailer, which now starts to show the use of magic. Captain Marvel had its casting announced for the titler character of Brie Larson, and it’s logo revealed. 

Love the trailers for the returning DC tv series, like Arrow, The Flash.

There were some “sizzle reels” (read we haven’t finished the movie yet, but needed something to show you so we can build buzz) shown for the likes of Guardians of the Universe volume two.

Even despite all that riveting coverage of companies going “me,me,pick me” I did make it out in this excessive heat not only to see the new Star Trek, but also to Costa to enjoy a caramel latte cooler, and a read of the latest Retro Gamer with a slice of cake. 

So that was my weekend, no gaming, lots of geeky stuff.

FEG@TA 22Jul16

Last night it was once more the time to celebrate the start of the weekend by playing games whilst enjoying adult beverages at the weekly FEG@TA. 

My gaming started off playing 7 Wonders Dual with Debbie while we waited for others to turn up. I won this game with a military victory. I just need a points win over Debbie and I’ve beat her using all three win conditions. But that may sound arrogant. Oh wait it is, but I will laugh the loudest if next time we play I lose big time.

As we were finishing Jamie and his son arrived. So a current favourite Qwixx hit the table. Debbie knocked it out of the park in this game, winning with an epic 98 points. That’s an amazing score. A well deserved win.

We finished Qwixx just before Jonathan and his daughter arrived. And she had only one thing on her mind, to destroy me at Bohemian Villages. Something she had been plotting all week since I beat her (and everyone else) last Friday.

So while the “grudge match” which Jamie’s son wanted in on took place, the others split off to play Pandemic the Cure.

Our game of Bohemian Villages saw mind games, plots and alliances. Mainly against me. But once more I was victorious. Do I feel big and clever beating two kids? Oh yes too right I do. What we can be sure of is Jonathan’s daughter will be plotting my downfall. 

During these two simultaneous games being played Jeff arrived. 

Niagara looks a nice game, visually attractive, especially with the moving discs simulating the flow of water and having the board on top of the game box then acting like the waterfall. I didn’t get to play, that will have to wait for another day. I instead I played another game of 7 Wonders Dual with Jamie. This time I lost to a science victory. But it was close, we were five cards from going to points, which I would have won. In our game we had some nice chaining of multiple actions to be able to build two or three wonders between us.

Our evening of gaming ended with a game of Dalek Dice. Dalek Dice was ok. It’s a more complicated push your luck style dice game along the lines of Zombie Dice. I don’t think the additional complication improves things. I prefer the simplicity of Zombie Dice, it flows better, and is more fun.

So that was another great evening of gaming, which can only be finished off one way. Yep dodgey meat in naan, salad and chilli sauce. So one or two of us headed off to the Charcoal Grill to pickup some totally unhealthy meat to take home and eat.

Same again next week…

Resistance is futile

It’s being reported today by the industry news website ICv2 that the Asmodee Borg is assimilating its latest victim. Which this time is F2Z Entertainment. So that’s PlaidHat and their stable of games e.g. Ashes, Mice and Mystics and Dead of Winter; and Z-Man games. 

I did the above for when they assimilated Catan. But it still nicely represents how it seems Asmodee are operating with this latest acquisition. 

I think the Borg look will suit Isaac and Coby at PlaidHat. Isacus and Cobus of Borg anyone?

Who knows how this will shake out, and just what the long term impact of this news will be. Personally I’m not a fan of these big all encompassing companies. And our Asmodee Borg masters have shown they are not above throwing around their power to dictate terms to shops, and trying to artificially control prices of their products. 

I’m sure there are “economic” reasons for why they are assimilating other companies. It sure beats developing new IP, just buy other people’s! 

But it will be interesting to see what happens. I can’t wait for the next PlaidHat podcast and see how honest they are about all this. 

Read the ICv2 source story here

Cool Games, Shit Company

Oh yes the title says it all. I’m naming and shaming today those companies that produce great games but undo it all by doing some pretty crappy stuff that undermines all that good work.

CMoN they produce some great games, they set the benchmark that other games minis get judged. But all that is undone with their piss poor project management, and crap customer communication. In fact if you looked up “couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery” CMoN would have its photo there. 

So what evidence do I have of this? Just go look at the Kickstarter projects The Others, Zombicide: Black Plague. Unrealistic delivery dates, failure to take into account delays caused by previous projects, poor communication, screwing backers over by giving priority to retail or the US, giving bullshit excuses to justify their decisions (you should hear the one for why the EU had to wait until September for The Others, while the US is starting to get shipping notices).

CMoN should be sacking people for their incompetence. All I know is they are leaving a bad taste these days, having had previously good experiences, something has changed at CMoN. Are they getting too big for their boots, too complacent?

Fun Forge publishers of Tokaido. Which is a beautiful game that I really like.

But oh I hope you don’t have to use their customer support. It’s none existent. Slow responses to emails, making promises they don’t keep. 

If you remember back at the end of February I got the Collectors Deluxe Accessory box for Tokaido, which had a broken figure in it.

After contacting them numerous times now, eventually some of the emails get responses with promises of a replacement. But here we are mid July and no sign of a replacement. My last email two weeks ago chasing up where the replacement is has had no response.

Fun Forge have what can only be described as the worst customer support I’ve experienced.

So there I’ve had my little rant about too poor companies. To even things out I’ll do a post praising those companies that do get it right.