Monthly Archives: November 2016

Men and Women of UNCLE

Can you guess what last night was?

Yep it was FEG@WL or the long winded version Friday Evening Gaming At The White Lion! Our weekly gaming meet up at the Fenland Gamers.

Our gaming session now clashes with Steak night at The White Lion. So sadly that lovely big table we played on is now unavailable. But as usual The White Lion has generously allowed us to use their function room.

I think you will agree there is a little room for growth in numbers. 

We are very grateful to The White Lion for allowing us to use the facilities they have for free. It allows us to continue to run the weekly session as free to attend events. Which is part of the clubs DNA. Both Jonathan and I both really believe that you shouldn’t have to pay to play games, “free at the point of play” as Jonathan likes to say (I think that’s his words more or less). It’s an expensive enough hobby as it is buying the games.

There are other reasons as to why we don’t like to charge but you don’t want to waste valuable time hearing a diatribe from me on gaming clubs.

Our hosts provide us with great facilities, great beverages, it has free parking, and now great food if we want it.

Oh yes I had to sample the bannoffee pie they had on the menu. It was really good. The rest of the menu looked very tempting too, Debbie the manager showed us photos of the dishes. The only draw back is I’d just want like the ribs, plus the special plater and the wings. I’d be in a meat coma in no time! 

But word of warning to club members we will be arranging some sort of food thing after a session real soon. 

Right on to the real reason you are here… your bored with life, have nothing better to do and want to read my poorly put together thoughts on games.

We played one game last night and that was a learning game of the recently arrived Covert. A game I had bought second hand at a really good price off one of the Facebook boardgame trading groups.

I should point out, and I don’t think when people read that we played a learning game, it is exactly that. We haven’t even read the rules, or at best managed to skim read them before hand. Yes not ideal, and for some this is a major sin. But we have busy lives, and sometimes it is easier this way!

So after setting up, going through the rules we started playing Covert.

I think the theme comes across really well in this game, from the components, graphic design, and the mechanics. They just combined well to bring out the theme.

You have elements of hidden information where players are keeping their code cards, missions, operation tokens and ‘activity’ cards (can’t remember the exact name). Then you have open information,such as your dice, character, completed missions and code cards.

And this works really well especially the dice. The first phase of a ’round’ starts with everyone rolling their dice, and taking it in turns to allocate them to actions. Knowing the other players dice allows you to potentially block another player on an action. 

You also during this phase get the chance to grab first player advantage but doing so means you will have to forgo at least one action to do so. 

But being first means you get first attempt at code breaking, which is the next phase. And you may really need to be first to make sure you decode your card and get that bit of equipment you badly need. “Oh no”, did they just play an operation token to steal first player spot for code breaking? !!! 

Or it might be you really need to be first taking actions in the third phase so you get that mission card you really wanted.

The operation tokens were cool. And provided one way to mitigate poor dice rolls, or other cool effects like moving agents three spaces. But it costs you a dice in the allocation phase to get one, and they are random.

If I’d drawn the right one in the last round of our game Jonathan may not have won! 

Those ‘activity’ cards. Love them, multiple use. Act as equipment, can be used to fly an agent to the city named. Or finally can be used for its ability. The abilities are the same as the operation tokens as far as I can tell. So another way to mitigate poor dice rolls, and other cool powers. 

Completing missions possibly depending on the mission gives you not only points but a permanent resource that can be used to complete other missions. 

There is a lot to like about this game. It’s not super heavy. But it’s fun. At one point Debbie thought our game was never going to finish. But Jonathan and I both completed the majority of our missions in the last three rounds, we both had rounds where we completed two or three missions in a round.

It was a quick game to pick up, although Debbie didn’t grok it until near the end. We had the majority of the game down easily by end of turn two. Then it was just clarifying the odd point or symbol.

A great fun game, Jonathan was James Bond in the end for the record.

So that was our only game for the evening. 

Great company, great beverages and food, and a great game. What more do you need to end the week, and start the weekend?

Kemet Saga Ends!

So the Kemet saga is over already. There is dancing in the streets, fireworks going off, alcoholic beverages flowing freely.

Let me fill you in on the semi-complicated situation behind this saga first. I don’t think I have related this tale to you before.

Recently a friend of mine decided to get into X-Wing in a big way after playing the game at another of friend of his. When I saw how deep he was jumping in, I said if he was interested I’d sell him mine. Well I hadn’t played it for two or three years. All they were doing was acting like really cool models to look at. I had been too lazy to put them up for sale on ebay or one of the Facebook trading pages. So a deal was hatched between us that involved my friend buying two games for me that I wanted in exchange for my X-Wing stuff, which included that really beautiful star map play mat I got.

One of those games was Kemet. So my friend contacted Chaos Cards who he bought it off, who sent me another copy with a return label for sending back the copy with the missing bits.

I was really impressed with this response. While this was going on I was in contact with the publisher who were asking for proof of purchase (which I had to go back to my friend for), and where I bought the game. Then it turns out they didn’t have any miniatures in at the moment. So there would be a delay sending anything out to me. Which they said would be before the end of the month. I’ve now cancelled the support call with the publisher.

I am naturally excited that I can now play the game. So I’m trying to arrange an opportunity to get this to the table ASAP. Especially considering that Cry Havoc is back in stock, so my pre-order can be sent to me now. I particularly wanted to play Kemet before getting Cry Havoc to the table.

These last few weeks of the year are getting pretty crowded with trying to squeeze plays of games in. We are already setting up stuff for January next year, and I can see that we will be setting dates for February soon as well.

Games currently scheduled for hitting the table before year end are: Seafall (we are trying the prolog of this to see if we will like it enough to commit to playing the main game), Scythe, and Mechs vs Minions.

Kemet, Cry Havoc, Covert, and Alien Frontiers are also screaming to get to the table in this time frame.

I’m gobsmacked at how busy things are looking. It almost makes it look like I have a social life! Who knew?

Oi Games Workshop 

Despite the nasty taste CMoN have left, The Others once more shows what they totally get and you don’t.

42 minis in The Others core box if my maths is correct. And I’ve not had to put a single one of the together, cut one off a sprue or use glue. I can play the game straight away!

No excuses Games Workshop this day and age.

The ugly child

Looks can deceiving. There is that old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”. 

And for Monday nights learning game there were never truer words said.

We were learning to play Castles of Burgundy. This game is not going to win any beauty pageant. But as the tired mantra of ugly people everywhere suggests, what this game lacks in looks it more than makes up for in personality!

Castles of Ron Burgandy – I know that was a poor joke. But it had to be done. Is a very nice game. You are rolling dice, getting tiles, adding them to your tableau, getting some benefit. All fun stuff.

Let’s get straight to the bad points, you may have guessed by the introduction it isn’t a pretty game. But who cares? The game play is great.

The rule book is not great and often the cause of some discussion and misplays.

And that’s all I can say that’s negative about the game! 

We were playing with the basic player boards, well it was our first game. So everyone had the same map. But the bit I like and we didn’t play with them was that there are more player boards each with different layouts/maps on them. 

This kind of makes it asynchronous for the players, each having different agendas on the tiles you need to get to complete your zones on your map. 

It also means lots of replay ability. Which means the game will be fresh for a long time.

Yes you are rolling dice, but the game has mechanics that allow you to manipulate the dice to get the value you need. Whether by spending worker tiles to adjust it up or down by one for each worker spent, or by using a tile ability you have managed to build. 

There are multiple tactics you can employ to score points. Sadly mine ended up not be that brilliant and ended up with me in last place. Luckily Diego didn’t lap me on the scoreboard. Which was Jonathan and mine ultimate aim in the game. 

How effective Diego’s tactic would have been if both Jonathan and I were also doing it, or even if one of us was, I don’t know. It would have reduced his scoring a bit I think.

Oh and there are opportunities to get extra “actions” during a turn too.

Yeah there is a lot to like about Castles of Burgundy. I definitely look forward to Jonathan bringing this ugly baby to the table again.

The saga ends

Guess what was waiting for me when I got home?

I had been tipped off earlier in the day when others in a Facebook boardgame chat group for the UK started posting theirs had arrived unnounced.

So here is the contents from that massive box.

As far as I can tell at the moment everything is there, apart from six dice. But they might actually be in one of the unopened sealed boxes.

So having learnt my lesson with Kemet, I now have a long task making sure every box has exactly what is meant to be inside them. 

I am going to keep to my word, this is the last CMoN project I will back it buy. It’s left too much of a bad taste in my mouth to want to have anything else to do with them.

Lost Gods And Pyramids 

Yesterday morning I had to visit the local post office collection point to pay import duty of £12.88 on my Kickstarter copy of AGES. I don’t mind paying the duty. I do mind that £8 of that fee is the criminal “handling fee” paid to the post office. But I had the final production copy of the game I was excited to open it up. More on this later in the post.

So lunchtime yesterday Jonathan and I met up to play Kemet and Last Will.

We were going to start off with Kemet. Sadly as we were setting up it was discovered that there were no pyramids (and later it clicked no creature miniatures). This was the source of a little amusement to Jonathan. It’s fair to say I was not exactly happy with this poor quality control by the publisher. 

But I’ve logged a support call with the publisher. So another test of a publisher has started.

So with the bits of Kemet I did have packed away, we setup and learnt Brewsters Millions. Oops no we didn’t, it was called Last Will, which is really the board game of the movie without the license. 

Although not nearly as bad as say Guilds of London the iconography of the cards does take a little decoding. Having individual player reference sheets would help with this. Sadly none are included with the game. 

I liked that seeing as we were playing a two player game it made adjustments and gave us both an extra counter to block off one of the card/worker/action selection spaces. That blocking took place before selecting of a space you wanted took place. But that selecting of the space you wanted also acted as player order for the later phases. 

I felt the “worker placement” phase limited, and frustrating. You have a max of two “workers” you can place, although it could be just one depending on the previous phase and the card/worker/action space you selected. I would have liked a way to get an extra “worker” to use here. 

I did like the changing card market place, that adjusted the card types populating it depending on round. So no “I’ll get that card next turn”, you won’t because it goes and gets replaced by something new.

You are building a “engine” in front of you on your tableau for spending money. But it’s also possible to get bonus actions. So for example my “engine” was giving me two extra actions each turn. Your starting tableau has a fixed capacity to start with, but it can be expanded using one of the options available in the worker placement phase.

The instructions could be written more clearly. But isn’t that a common complaint about games? We found bits confusing or just not clear.

I enjoyed Last Will. It was fun. I’d definitely play again if it was bought to the table. And that’s despite Jonathan winning!

Our second game was AGES. Now I know Jonathan doesn’t like deck builders! In fact it’s one of his least liked mechanics, sitting just above his least liked of roll and move. 

But still Jonathan played AGES.

I really do like the final production of AGES. The cards look stunning and they are good quality. The box is beautiful, and enough space to store all the cards sleeved. A little thing, but there are two foam blocks to keep the cards in place inside the box. I like that, attention to detail. The rule book is a big improvement over the original one. Overall this is a very good, no that’s wrong it’s a high quality produced game. 

There wasn’t much take that going on in our game. Maybe that’s due to the cards that came out. I think I was the only one playing locations and using their abilities. But that’s just the luck of the draw and trade row!

Jonathan struggled with the text size on the cards at times. But we are old, and eye sight at times can let us down. On a serious note though, although an issue for Jonathan it’s not unique to AGES. Imperial Settlers, War of the Ring to name one or two others that have the same issue. 

The elite phase of the game is one of my favourite mechanics of the game. I ended up buying one elite character just to stop its elite phase ability. It had hurt me that turn costing me points, because I had no starter cards left to get rid of, and had only good cards in my hand.

It was interesting watching Jonathan playing. He was scrapping a lot less than me, and buying more of the 2 gold value cards. So his deck was way more “bloated” than my lean and mean deck. That may in part due to Jonathan having less opportunities to scrap. He was aware of the value of getting rid of the starting cards. 

I have to admit I thought Jonathan was going to win with lots of little points. But in the end my convincing victory would have been a lot closer, if not a loss due to a misplay by Jonathan. If Jonathan had managed to buy the elite character I bought triggering the end game, that would have stopped me buying it, and would have ended the game. Plus those points I lost because of that elite phase would have come back and haunted me and cost me the win. 

Jonathan liked the Splendor like aspect of collecting the icons and having them out in front of you, and their dual use to trigger abilities and reduce the cost of elite characters.

As I said Jonathan doesn’t like deckbuilders. He’s also not a fan of sci-fi, and fantasy themes. Which just about covers most deckbuilders. So having one that uses a historical theme means at least the theme was more likely to appeal to Jonathan. 

So when Jonathan said he didn’t dislike the game that’s a big deal. Especially when you consider how he feels about the mechanic.

Me? I really like the game. I love the deckbuilder mechanic. I love looking for those combos, and pulling them off. 

It’s easy to screw up a deckbuilder, just look at the World of Tanks deckbuilder. It’s disappointing that folks can easily get hold of that travesty of a deckbuilder, whilst AGES that really deserves a wider audience isn’t as easily available or known about. 

I really do hope a bigger publisher having seen the final version picks this up, and gives it the marketing love it deserves.

Oh and I love the playmat. 

So despite the shock of the missing bits from Kemet, I had a great afternoon playing games with Jonathan. 

Legacy comes to Netrunner

FFG have just announced a new expansion for one of my favourite games of all time Android Netrunner. 

I don’t normally write about Netrunner expansion announcements but the new one announced called Terminal Directive is warrants saying something.

Can you see those two words under the name of the expansion in the picture above?

Campaign Expansion!!!

Wow I never saw that one coming. But wow! The podcasts, forums etc are going to be buzzing about this.

163 new cards in the box. Split 86 for filthy corps and 77 for the heroic runners. Sadly no mention of Anarch specific ids, but I guess they thought Anarch have had a lot of love lately. 

This has legacy elements! Yes you read that correct. Like wow!!!!

When you open the box you will be faced with the choice of two sealed decks, red or blue.

I already know I’ll choose red. So I won’t find out what those corps will.

You are putting stickers on a board, opening even more sealed cards.

It will retail at $59.95, so not cheap. It won’t be far off that when it hits the UK as pounds. Plus (and this won’t be an issue for fans of the game) require a core box of the game to play.

This is exciting. But I’ve got to wait!!!! Not fair. I suppose first quarter 2017 will get here soon enough. My money is on we see it in March. Any sooner and I’m one happy bunny.

Fenland Gamers November Meetup

The second Wednesday of the month is our monthly meetup. Last night was that Wednesday.
While the Pandemic crew were working to save the world, Diego, Katie and myself decided to take a leisurely walk from Kyto to Edo. Determined to have the best experience possible along the way. Yep we were playing Tokaido.

I’ve had this game for a couple of years now I think. Well certainly since seeing it on the original airing date of Tabletop, and the initial post Tabletop difficulty of trying to get a copy. You remember those don’t you? An episode of Tabletop would appear on YouTube and all of a sudden you can’t find a copy of the game because everyone wants to play the it, so they rush out and buy it, clearing up any stock that is out there in the real world.

Anyway I have played Tokaido a couple of times previously. Once with Nath, and the other with some friends on a game night I had over a year ago now. It was a hit on both occasions. However those plays were before I started recording plays with the app.

Diego and Katie hadn’t played before, and this was my first time in over a year. Even getting the deluxe kit, didn’t get it back to the table despite wanting to play it.

In fact it has been in the bag for game nights a couple of times recently, but it just didn’t see the light of day for whatever reason.

Our game last night was with the deluxe stuff thrown in. So the nice plastic minis, metal coins, and the little plastic parcel score markers.

Tokaido is a beautifully looking game, But when it’s pimped out like this it looks even nicer.

There was a little back and forth between Diego and myself for the lead, with Katie trailing behind on the score board. But in the end, when we added everything up, my journey from Kyto to Edo was the most enjoyable! Yes thats the flowery way of saying I won.

I’m so disappointed with my writing about Tokaido above. I had promised myself the next time I played the game, and wrote about it, I would dig out some of my photos from doing the TGO Challenge, and compare the experience of walking from one side of Scotland to the other was like playing Tokaido, and having that great experience.

The world still hadn’t been saved by the time we had finished playing, in fact they were looking defeat in the face apparently, and wouldn’t be long. So we needed a quick game to play.

Step up to the plate newish arrival FUSE. FUSE plays in ten minutes. Potentially less but no longer. At the end of ten minutes you have either beaten the game, and defused all the bombs, or you have failed miserably and everything has been blown to pieces.

This was the first time for us all playing this co-op dice chucking game. So we set it at it’s easiest level. The game still kicked our butts.

But it was an enjoyable kicking. Look we are not in to that Tory stuff. Although its not very convincing I would imagine because this is the second time I’ve had to make this denial in a post recently.

You really do need the free companion app that you can install on your smart phone, that basically gives you a ten minute countdown with sound effects, and a way to record scores. It just makes life easier when playing, and a bit more atmospheric.

For me FUSE is leaps and bounds above Bomb Squad. Its more enjoyable, and although dependent still to some degree on who you are playing with. It is much much less so.

Our final game of the evening was The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction, while the Pandemic crew played Piece ‘o Cake. The Manhattan Project Chain reaction is a favourite, and probably one of my top Kickstarter backed games. Easily in the top three I think.

Diego and Katie picked the game up quickly, it is very easy to teach and after a turn most people get it. Diego pipped me to the win. One more turn and I would also have scored ten points.

Afterwards a little time was spend discussing Seafall, and Jonathan being lured by shiny metal coins in the copy of the game he was looking at. Plans were made for getting together and playing the prolog of the game. So that we could get a taste for wether this was a game we wanted to make a big commitment to.

Good byes were said. And another great monthly meetup came to an end.


Just another cog

Last night I got my butt kicked and I liked it! 

Wow! Now hold on I know what you are thinking, it’s not like that. I’m not into that Tory MP stuff.

No we were playing T’zolk’in the Mayan Calandar board game.

Jonathan had got this worker placement game from one of the UK boardgame trading pages on Facebook. And it was time to get it to the table and learn how to play it.

Visually the board looks great, especially with the cogs on it painted black. The previous owner had painted them. Otherwise I wouldn’t say that the rest of the art for the game looks amazing, but I would say it’s ok.

It’s the cogs that make this game unique. You place a worker on the cogs, possibly paying a cost doing so, and ride it round until you hit an action you want to perform. And then perform that action.

Each cog has a different range of abilities based around a theme. Such as getting corn or wood, while another allows you to  place crystal skulls (oh crap I’ve just remembered that awful Indie movie, why oh why couldn’t Spielberg and Lucas leave Indie alone?) to score points and move up a temple.

You have various tiles you can build that give you an instant one off boost, or there are ones that are permanent power ups.

With four scoring opportunities through out the game, you need to make sure you are prepared. Which basically means you need to have enough corn in to feed your workers.

Going first is definitely an advantage. Being able to grab those zero cost spots on the cogs, pushing up placement for the other players.

My first mistake of our learning game was chiding the wrong starting bonuses. Which put me on the back foot right off.

As worker placement games go, this is an above average game. It’s not the best, but definitely not the worst either. I like it, and would gladly play again. Would I go out of my way to ask to play it? Now that’s the question.