All posts by Darren

Verses: Escape from Colditz vs Memoir ’44

This is a juicy match up thematically and for what the games represent.

On the left we have a game over forty years old, Escape from Colditz. On the right we have Memoir ’44, champion of modern hobby gaming in this match up.

We have two games that are set during World War II. Well different aspects of it. One has you escaping an infamous prison. While the other is reenacting conflicts from various theatres from WWII.

These are two very differing games, very representative of their era. 

If you search back I had a blast playing Escape from Colditz. There were some issues mechanically. But having said that I know some people don’t like the randomness of the dice in Memoir ’44.

However Escape from Colditz takes a really long time to play. While in comparison Memoir can be played in less than an hour.

In the end it was a rather easy decision to make. It has to be Memoir ’44. The share flexibility and expandability, plus relatively quick game play, swung it. 

So did my decision match up with those that responded on social media?

Which would you chose?

A Magic Afternoon

Wizards of the Coast were very kind and sent some of their Welcome Decks from the recent Welcome event to me for my students to learn Magic the Gathering.

This afternoon a group of my learners that take part in my Monday enrichment session learnt how to play Magic the Gathering using a Welcome Deck of their choosing.

They have really enjoyed themselves learning Magic and playing the game. There has been a buzz, laughter, delight in discovering the creatures in their decks.

Think we will run a mini league using these decks. Then hopefully if I can get a booster box cheaply I’ll run a league for them based on the Magic League rules (after half term). I must get some extra life counters for them too. 

A big thank you to Wizards of the Coast for your generosity. The students were really really chuffed that they could keep their decks.

Top 10 After 15% Completed

I’ve hit 15% or 3476 of the total pairwise comparisons that I have to do to rank my game collection. Which I thought was a good point to stop, take a snapshot of the top 10 (well it’s 11 really because I forgot to take zero into account).

Interesting to see what I consider (will this exercise back up that gut feeling?) to be my favourite Pandemic, Iberia drop out of the top 10. Also Tiny Epic Galaxies has also dropped to just outside the top 10.

I also have a new number one game at the moment. I think that the top 3 has been settled on. These will just be jostling for which of the top 3 places they take. The remaining top spots I’m expecting possibly three to be replaced by other games. But we will see. There are still some epic match ups to come.

Holding on by my finger tips

This Wednesday sees a “massive” update to the Star Realms app.

In an email plus a more detailed post we got the following warning:

IMPORTANT: PLEASE FINISH ALL OF YOUR GAMES BY TUESDAY, MAY 16!

ALL IN PROGRESS GAMES WILL BE DELETED WHEN THE APP IS UPDATED

ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 17

So what changes warrant this ominous warning?

For starters the app is getting a graphic update.

Apart from the new look, we are getting more cards:

  • “53 All-New Colony Wars cards in the Trade Deck with fun, new mechanics
  • Cards that can be purchased from the Trade Row and can immediately be put into play or into a player’s hand.
  • Blob faction has a new ability to “acquire a ship of cost x or less for free”.
  • The Stealth Tower card that comes with Colony Wars allows you to copy any base in play!
  • Two new chapters in the ongoing campaign, each with six missions!”

In their infinite wisdom the way levelling works is changing:

Currently, we have a lot of players that are “Forever Fives” – stuck at level 5 (that’d be me). This isn’t much fun, so now, if you make it to level 6, that will be your floor. If you then make it to level 7, that will be your floor, and so on. Sounds more fun, doesn’t it? However, it should be noted that now challenges won’t count towards your level or weekly or monthly leaderboards, but they will still count towards your overall number of games played, as well as your win percentage.

So this change is going to be controversial. I welcome the moving floor. However the majority of my games are challenges against friends and the odd mystery Internet person I’ve never met, but been playing for a long time now. So basically if I want to level up I am forced to play random  games. Otherwise if I don’t want to play random games whatever level I’m at the end of Tuesday I’m stuck at. Wow that sounds fun!

Another big change is real time games! I’d go read the post for this one. I think it will replace the 3 minute games. Which I hardly ever played. I’ve seen some welcoming this. Mainly from those that stream games. I might start doing that myself. Who knows? The whim might take me to show the world just how bad I am at the game!

So I need to complete all my current games by Tuesday, make sure I don’t drop below level 6 (I don’t think I can push it up to 7).

You can read the whole announcement HERE.

Verses: BattleLore Second Edition vs Memoir ’44

This match up happened very early on in the pairwise comparisons. I thought “wow! This is a tough choice.”

How am I going to chose between BattleLore (Second Edition) and Memoir ’44

Both are based on the Richard Borg Command and Colours system. 

Yes BattleLore has some extras to its mechanics. Setting the game up is actually part of the game play. It also adds lore to the game, which is basically magic. And that setup as game play is inspired.

Memoir ’44 has had way better support when it comes to expansions. There is a shit load of stuff for it. Ok some are mega expensive because they are out of print (which I don’t get, because it’s a popular game, an ever green title, and keeping stuff like expansions in print shouldn’t be an issue.) Plus I’m not sure FFG will do much more with BattleLore now with their RuneWars mini game just hitting the stores. 

So does it just come down to theme? Do I prefer fantasy over historical? Or vice versa? 

I decided this was a draw. Theme wasn’t a big decider in the end for me. Because if on the day I wanted to play a game like these it would come down to what theme am I in the mood for? 

So I put this decision out on social media to get the thoughts of others on what they would chose.

I suspect Henning might be a little biased in his answer below. But he is correct his art in BattleLore is amazing.


So what would your choice be?

A most excellent Friday 

Friday was turning into a pretty good day. External moderators for the two awarding bodies we use for our courses passed the units they had been verifying. This basically means they agree with how we’ve marked the students work, and that the work produced meets the criteria for the mark given.

I find it a little stressful in the run up and during the actual moderation. It’s making sure everything is “perfect” and easy for the moderator. Then the waiting. If the moderator finds something wrong or disagrees with the marking I don’t want it to be mine. I don’t want to let the team down. I don’t want to let my line manager down.

That last bit is very important. I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to have a manager like I have now, again! When my manager and friend Julie unexpectedly died on 4th June 2014, it hit me pretty hard. She had been the best manager I’d had in a life time of working. She had inspired, encouraged and supported. I’d have done anything for her. Yes I’m a blindly loyal foot soldier. It had been earnt. I’d grown professionally and had been doing new things, thanks to Julie. But lightning has struck twice. My current manager in her own style is the same, and earnt the same loyalty. So yes I wouldn’t want to let her down either. 

When we heard the good news from both moderators there was a feeling of great relief and happiness. 

I took in my V60 drip, Hario coffee server that works with my V60, and a Pact Coffee to work to make coffee for the team. It was Darren’s Pop Up Coffee Shop this morning.

The coffee I took in was a limited edition roast called El Campanario. The photo below tells you all you need to know about this amazing coffee. 

Making coffee with the V60 is very theatrical. The V60 on top of the server, pouring hot water precisely over the filter to clean it with a goose neck metal jug, the bloom, the pouring over the coffee. Pure theatre. Plus I love the whole process, and find it therapeutic.

But it is also very precise. Baristas weigh and time when using the V60 so they get consistency. I weigh at home when brewing coffee this way. But no scales at work were used. 

However the most important factor that trumps everything else is having a great coffee. I think the El Campanario roast is just that.

Now they said they liked the coffee I made. But there is always a bit of me that says “liar, you are just saying that to be kind to me”. Although I was fairly happy with the final product I was putting out. I think that says a lot about me. 

A bloody great start to the weekend.

The celebratory pint of Thatchers cider at The White Lion once I got there tasted extra nice. I’d just been served when Edmund turned up. Drinks in hand we retired to the restaurant area and that awesome large heavy wooden table, 

While waiting for others to turn up I taught Edmund Onitama. I won the first game, and then lose the next two games. 

Near the end of the third game Chris arrived with his newly arrived copy of Terraforming Mars. Plus news that Jonathan was not going to make it due to some life stuff cropping up. There was no sign of Debbie and Nath who said they were coming. 

Terraforming Mars was on the short list of remaining must play games of 2016 I hadn’t played (Clank and Vast are the remaining ones I think). So this opportunity to play it was very much appreciated. It’s also one Jonathan wants to try. And also joins a short list of games he’s missed out on playing that he wants to play! So it might have been insensitive posting a photo of the game to show him what he was missing. But also funny. 

Yeah, Terraforming Mars is good fun. I really enjoyed it. 

It’s basically an engine building game. You buy cards into your hand, then pay to use them. Some of those cards are one off use and are not part of your engine. The others go in front of you and make up your engine for the game.

Now I won. But I wasn’t expecting to. Chris had far more cards in his engine. But the difference between mine and his cards, and Edmunds was I was adding a lot of cards that had victory points on them.

Edmund and I had also done much more terraforming of Mars than Chris. So we were further up the terraforming track than Chris. Mine was mainly due to planting forests (more points at the end) and placing oceans. 

I realised after my final turn I could have had an extra five points and claimed a milestone. Having milestones you can claim is a nice touch. As is sponsoring an award. Which means at the end the player that had the majority in what the award is for, for instance science symbols gets 8 points (?) and the runner up gets 2 (?). Only three awards can be sponsored and the cost goes up for doing so each time. So it pays to be early for the award you want to go for.

There could have been a drafting element to the game (one of Jonathan’s favourite game mechanics – not!) – but we decided that variant could wait for a future play. 

I thought the different coloured and sized cubes representing money would be confusing, and I’d keep forgetting the values. But I didn’t. The cubes were also multi use and also represented resources such as plants and energy!

I had heard that the production quality of the game wasn’t great. But I didn’t have a problem with it. It’s not Stegmaier games quality but it’s ok. Not as bad as I had been led to believe. 

There is a take that element in the game. It’s not massive, and mainly as far as I can see it’s a remove resources thing mainly. Slowing an opponents engine down.

The question for me really is I liked the game. But how much? Enough to want in my collection? I think it’s border line, leaning to yes. It may not be top of the purchase list (Great Western Trail is higher up).

An amazing Friday. 

Other gaming this week…

Dale and I have played a couple of games of Star Wars: Destiny. These games were our first where we constructed our decks. I played both games with Jyn and Rey. My deck is leaning towards being a control deck. Where I’m denying my opponent the ability of doing stuff by forcing them to discard cards, removing dice etc. 

Dale’s first deck was Kylo and two tie pilots. But his deck was a third invalid cards we noticed while playing. His second attempt at a deck was Kylo and death trooper I think. As Dale said yesterday his deck is more an agro deck. 

Although Dale won both games they were very very close games. They came down to if I hadn’t been taken out on Dale’s action I’d have taken Dale out on my action.

Monthly Meet Up May 17

Last night at the Fenland Gamers Monthly Meet Up we played a game! 

Yep just a single game. Because last night we played Viticulture with five players. Two of which had never played it before.

The BG Stats app will show that Katie emphatically won the game. It won’t show show Katie took that win away from Jonathan at the last minute. Or how I made a last desperate dash to take third place and hit 20 points.

A great evenings gaming. Great company. The next monthly meet up will see our hauls from UKGE competing to be played.

An Early Top 10 Games of All Time

I’m just over 7% into my journey/experiment in ranking my game collection. That’s 1659 pairwise comparisons (so far).

I have an initial version of the lists/stats engine, that pulls off the results, calculates a value for each game in the collection, and then sorts that list into descending order. That sorted list is then printed out to the screen.

So running the lists/stats engine python script gives me the following 11 games as my Top 10 games (so far). Naturally as I complete more pairwise comparisons this list will change as more results are available. With more results the more reliable and accurate the list will be. I must do some research into at what point do the results generated become truly representative (is that the correct word?) There must be a tipping point where doing more tests is irrelevant because it doesn’t impact the results.

Anyhoo (and I bet that gets up the noses of some folks) here is the first very temporary top ten games of all time.

 

Look what I pulled

This morning got to finally open the Spirit of Rebellion booster box that Dale and I bought together.

It arrived Saturday but I couldn’t open it. It wouldn’t be fair. So it was torture seeing the box sitting there all weekend but unable to open it. 

As soon as Dale arrived at work, we opened the booster box and then took turns taking a booster pack from the box.

Once we had emptied the box of its 36 packets (18 each), then opened our packs.

I got the following legendary cards in mine:

These are the rares I got:


Now Dale and I have enough to start building decks to play against each other. Which we will be doing for this Thursday.

Dale looked up how much Palpatine was. If I sold it there are some out there that will pay over £40 for it! I don’t get these high prices. It’s not as if there is a lot of prize money at stake like at a Magic Pro tournament. At best it’s some alt art cards, and plastic tokens. Not exactly enough to get you your money back on your investment. 

This afternoon I introduced my students to Sheriff of Nottingham in the enrichment session. Long story short, they loved it. Oh and I won!

My Fav Jack Reacher Quote

I’ve been working my way through the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child on Audible. Currently I’m on Never Go Back (which was made into the second Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise).

However in A Wanted Man the previous Reacher novel there was what has to be my favourite quote from all the books so far. That quote inspired the following picture.

I’m half tempted to get this made up as a tee.