Category Archives: online play

online play

In the majority

If I manage to keep the majority of this mega structure in my current game with bowchicka then I'm going to be in a pretty good position to push on for the rare win.

I love playing Carcassonne. The app is amazing, and I've been playing bowchicka for a few years now. The win ratio is definitely very skewed towards bowchicka. Sometimes she takes pity on me and let's me win a game.

But back to the original point of this post, I feel this one massive building is the deciding factor for this game. Who manages to walk away with the points for it will go on to win. I'm going to be so sick if I lose the majority. I've done a good job so far cutting bowchicka out.

If you fancy a game of Carcassonne my ID is whitespider1066.


Haggis Anyone?

For the Christmas break I took a “few” games to play. It will come as no surprise that we didn't get to play most of the games. I even have a semi-valid reason for not playing one of them!

I had packed Magic the Gathering Arena of the Plainswalkers for Nath and I to play. However there was one slight flaw in my plan.

About a week before Christmas I had decided that it would be a good idea to use the rather nice storage box that comes with the Zendika Fat Pack to store the spell cards and character cards for the game.

Can you see where this story is going? Yep I remembered to pack the little storage box I am using to store the dice and tokens for the game, but had forgotten to pack the box with the cards in. A fact that I remembered about 3am Christmas Eve, when during an awake moment I thought we can play Arena of the Plainswalkers, “oh bugger!”

Due to the fact Nath had to work over Christmas, we didn't get to play as many games as we would have liked.
As I have already written we got to play Netrunner, Magic and Star Realms Colony Wars. But with Nath now having the full Star Realms app, we had played a few games of Star Realms.
There has often been the old running joke about couples being in the same room, sitting on the same settee, only talking to each other through their phones and Facebook/Twitter. Well that was Nath and I playing Star Realms. It was funny because after taking his go, Nath would lean across to see what cards I was going to play!
I will say that my coverage of Star Realms Colony Wars were I was going to look at the cards is going to have to wait. As I was dropping Nath off at work yesterday before heading back to the windswept plains of the Fens, he asked if he could borrow Colony Wars to play with his girlfriend on Wednesday when she was visiting his. Naturally I said he could, but I went a step further and said he could keep them, I would get another set when they were released in the new year.

This morning…

Jonathan and I met up at the local Costa for a coffee, catch up and possibly a game or two.

After catching up on our gaming Christmas, Jonathan introduced me to a new game to me called Haggis.

Haggis is a trick taking card game for two or three players.

Now I'm not saying the following because I won, or due to the fact I CRUSHED Jonathan. But I liked the game. At first I was a little “confused” about the game play, but soon picked it up. I liked the tokens Jonathan had made to record what bet you made at the start of a round for if you will be the first to get rid of all your cards. If I got the game I would be knocking on his door for a set.

The idea of each round is to get rid of all the cards in your hand, whilst winning tricks. Some of the cards like the 3,5,7 and 9 (iirc) are worth one point, and at the end of the round you score that point for each of them in your pile of cards won. There are also wild cards represented by the Jack, Queen and King that are also worth 2,3 and 5 points. If you are the first to get rid of your hand, and you made that bet at the start you get those points on top of the cards you scored. Plus as a reward for getting rid of your cards first you get the “haggis”, which is a small pile of left over cards that you also score (if there are any scoring cards in it).

I won the first two rounds, and decided to take a bet that I would again be the first to get rid of his cards and did a thirty point bet. I was half expecting that this would be the round that I would not be the first to get rid of their cards. But my doubt disappeared after I made a very strong start, getting down to about four cards in three tricks. After a little comeback by Jonathan I did get rid of my last card and score a massive amount of points, including the bet, about sixty five points!

Afterwards Jonathan admitted that he used to play the game a lot with his daughter, but not only that but using an online app (can't remember the name) he'd been tutored by the game designer on how to play and tactics. So luckily for me beginners luck trumps skill and being rusty at the game.

It was a great way to spend a bit of time, I enjoy my coffee shop gaming sessions. They are always with great company.

Trying a new thing…

After watching the latest Boardgame Blender and the Suzanne segment where she showed an app for tracking the games played, I hunted down the app she was using because it looked interesting. I liked the idea of tracking the games I've played and producing stats based on that info.

Ok yes I know I write about them here on the blog. But the stats angle is something that appeals to me. Plus this app ties up with bgg, and updates there for you too. It's not a free app, costs under three coins of the realm.

So we'll see how this goes. I'll try and post the stats each month on here.


Boxing Day Butt Kicked

Yesterday I taught Nath how to play Netrunner. We used the core set. Nath played my favourite runner, the anarch Noise. While I played the corp NBN.
This was the first time I've taught the game to anyone, and I was a little nervous about it considering I'm such a noob myself.
While explaining the game to Nath there was little bits I didn't explain, for example the influence cost of cards. That isn't important unless you are building decks. I also used a six sided dice for Nath to track his mmu with. Plus I didn't cover mulligans either. Well for a first game, how would Nath know if he needed to mulligan or not?

Nath drew a medium early, while I was drawing agendas and no ice! Although with two pad campaigns in play my economy was good. Nath hit HQ, scored an agenda for two points. I replied by scoring a one point agenda. Then he hit R&D which I was unable to defend and built up that medium. Nath scores another agenda for two more points on one of his R&D raids. I'm still not hitting ice, and have three agendas in HQ. Then Nath hits a winning three point agenda on a run on R&D that saw him accessing six cards.

Between our game of Magic and this game of Netrunner I'm not having much luck against Nath. I'm doing much better against him playing Star Realms. Since Nath has joined the online play via the app I've been kicking his butt. Which is funny because since Rich started playing online he's been kicking my butt!


An Epic Comeback

Luke and I play Star Realms online regularly. I think it's fair to say that we are evenly matched with wins going back and forth. But I have to say that this bank holiday weekend I have had a winning streak against Luke, with back to back wins.

But earlier today it was looking like this mini streak was coming to an end. Luke was sitting comfortably on 60 authority, mine was dropping steadily. Luke hit me and took me down to one authority. When it came to my turn I knew this could be my final go, that next round Luke would deal that finishing blow and get the deserved win.

Then I received the following via Twitter “WTAF!?!” from Luke.

This puzzled me because I was confused what was up? Had he been dealt a hand of Scouts? How many times has that happened, falling short by a single point of getting the win, and getting all scouts next hand? It's happened a few times to me, and usually ends up with me managing to steal defeat from a winning situation.

So I replied in the only way I could I tweeted back “o_O”

Luke quickly replied back “I think you're about to pull off the most ridiculous comeback ever… :/”

I was unconvinced. I thought at best I might have a couple of turns left. Luke would surely hit me hard again to finish me off. But my bases and federation ships started adding authority to my very depleted tally. The killing blow from Luke failed to appear.

After a couple of turns I was starting to believe and tweeted “if by a miracle I do, and it's a loong shot it'll be one for the hall of fame”

Suddenly Luke and I were both in the thirties for our authority.

Could this be happening? Did I really stand a chance of pulling this off?

My bases absorbed Luke's attempt to get back on top, the federation ships once more bout me more time. I don't think I used any thing from my bases except their authority boosting powers.

Finally the situations were reversed I was on seventeen authority and Luke was now sitting on one authority. He also had a base protecting him, meaning I had to scrape together at least five attack to finish the game off and pull off the biggest robbery in the annuals of Star Realms history. Well in the games I've played.

This was the finishing blow.

This was definitely a first for me. Such a come back, against such odds. This feels like it was my Instanbul. At half time in the 2005 final Liverpool were 3-0 down at half time after being totally dominated by A.C. Milan. No one Even contemplated a Liverpool win. How could they? A.C. Milan had won the game, there was no way you come back from 3-0 down.
But they dug deep, Gerrard inspired the team to claw their way back to 3-3 after extra time. It was such an emotional time, edge of the seat stuff. The the penalties, oh that was sooo nerve racking. But Liverpool won 3-2.
This game was definitely my Star Realms version of that match. If you had screen grabbed that sixty to one authority point in the game and asked Star Realms players what happened next I don't think one of them would of guessed this result. I hadn't my expectations as I said were I'd be finished within a couple of turns. I admire Luke's prediction, it was definitely not my view of the end result. But as the game progressed my self believe grew stronger that I would pull it off.
Although at the seventeen to one authority at the end I would of laughed a lot if the situation and then reversed again.
A totally emotionally draining game with Luke, a really incredible game.


Third Time Lucky

All week I've been treading water. I'll win a couple of games then lose a couple of games, not making any progress breaking out of level 5. This was me bouncing along the bottom of the ocean not even coming to a final resting place. Darren the perpetual bouncing player at the bottom of the levels.

They say third time lucky. Which is a handy saying to believe in as a faint glimmer of hope for this weeks Casual Star Realms Tournament. Which as fortune and maybe a good omen (if you believe in that sort of thing) just happened to be the third tournament I've entered for Star Realms.

The first round draw was made and the pairings posted on the tournaments event page. My first round opponent in this weeks Casual Tournament was Flannelmann.

We traded the usual first two round blows knocking off the 2 authority and buying our initial ships. Then it's the throw a punch, then duck, repeat. With the odd rest bite for both as the cards throw up all coins.

At 22 authority for Flannelmann and 16 authority for myself with a camped War World outpost I'd effectively had a total 20 authority. “Come on cards fall right for me for once when I need them” I said to myself. As if appealing to the digits that make up the code of the app, hoping the ones and zeroes would take pity and be favourable to me.

The final hand played by Flannelmann. The Card Gods smiled on Flannelmann he gets the cards, combos, and draw more cards needed to deliver a knock out blow of epic proportions. 34 Attack points came hurtling my way.
If this had been a boxing match this would of been an upper cut blow, connecting squarely on my chin, lifting me clean off the floor, sending me flying into a crumpled unconscious mess on the ring floor.
So at the end of game one, the score is 1-0 to Flannelmann. Can I get my act together and stage a come pack and win the second game?
Once again we squared up, toe to toe. Jab, jab, punch. Federation ships repairing any cuts with their healing authority. Jab,jab, punch. Jab, jab, punch. Our authority drains away with each blow.
Flannelmann is down to 11 authority, I'm on 21 authority and I have an outpost out that can take 6 damage. So effectively 27 authority for me. I like this position. But I've been in this position soooo many times. Can I seal the deal and draw level?
Oh wait I'm in a good position, not the best cards for my next turn but they could of been a lot worse. However once more another great combo from Flannelmann and I'm out for the count, and out of the tournament.
What the heck? Hasn't Flannelmann read the script? They can't ad lib like this. I'm the people's hero (look in Darren world I am, which basically means my three dogs look at me that way). It clearly says on the label, “third time lucky”, and this was my third time! Good grief always the bridesmaid never the bride.
Final score 2-0 to Flannelmann. And a score line that is starting to become synonymous with my name. Well done Flannelmann, well played. All the best in the next round and beyond. May the draw be favourable to you, and the cards kind to you.
So true to form once more I run head first into the first fence, instead of clearing it into the next round.
During the last two weeks someone on the fan page posted a similar picture to the one below.
So as you may of guessed I've seen it now in a game. I was a bit miffed as I only had one credit and couldn't buy any. Luckily for me my opponent only drew three credits, so could only buy one. Which meant I was able to buy up the remaining two Cutters. But what an amazing first five cards for the trade row.


Fallen At The First Hurdle Again

This week I took part in the “March Madness SR Tournament” that was organised on the Star Realms Fan Created Community Page and run by Ben Jochum and helped by Nathan Jochum.

Apparently March Madness is something to do with the sport basketball in the US. Not exactly a very big sport in the UK. And we definitely don't have college teams for the sport like they do in the US. This of course is where some-one in the UK will comment “oh contrear Darren, we do have college basketball over here, and it is very popular”. Which would basically mean it has a middle of the night spot on one of Rupert Murdochs pay to view sports channels (also popularly known as Sky Sports) straight after a Monday Night RAW rerun.

I find this whole college sports thing the U.S. has fasinating. We naturally in the UK play football (the real football that actually involves teams from around the world in its World Cup, not that big commercial break that is broken up with minor moments of people slamming into each other like sumo wrestlers in body armour that is called football in the US). Football is our passion here. We follow our clubs whether they be Premier League goliaths, or non league minnows like Wisbech Town Football Club. This is what we get passionate about, followed by cricket and rugby. But even so there is none of this college sports phenonum here in the UK. And to me it seems odd, the nearest I can come to understanding it, is to equate it to supporting your local non league football team from which ever town you happen to live in.

Anyway the rules of this tournament were simple, sign up saying which college basketball team you were representing, your current level in the app. Umm college basketball team? As I've pointed out they don't exist over here (probably, if they do they are more elusive than the Lock Ness Monster, or a Tory Cabinet Minister without their hands in the pockets of bankers and big business). I did point this out and asked if I could represent my football team (Liverpool for the record) instead. This was politely rejected. However (and I do apologise I can't remember their name) it was pointed out that there was Liverpool in the US and that their local basketball team was Syracuse. So I went with that suggestion as the team I would represent.

The rules for the actual games were single game, single elimination, “for fun”, and Gambit expansion optional.

The tournament was being limited to 68 players, and the winner of this “for fun” tournament would have their team's logo displayed for the cover photo for the site for about a week.

The draw for the first round was made on Tuesday, it was Syracuse vs Ohio State. JoeC was representing Ohio State in this tournament. JoeC and I started with a our opening moves first thing Wednesday morning (UK time). However the majority of the games turns took place between 3:30am (GMT) and 7:30am (GMT) this morning. So yes you read that right I was playing this match at stupid o clock, and have little naps between plays!

I was pretty happy with the way the game was going. I was whittling down JoeC's authority, getting a good mix of ships and bases that were working. I felt I was in a good position. As the screen capture shows above. JoeC was down to 8 authority, I had a healthy 26 authority and an outpost camped to remove the sting from JoeC's next attack. Adding up the attack on my drawn cards I had 14 points to attack with on my next go. Enough to remove an outpost if one was played and the final 8 authority. Surely I was looking at my first tournament win here?

I left the app and awaited for the alert to say it was my go. I had a little snooze, woke up and checked the app. I'd lost! WTF how? It hadn't sunk in, I had left the game in a good position. What had gone wrong?

Feeling sick as a parrot I went into the app and pressed the replay last turn button. JoeC Hit me for 28 points of damage, but not before using the Blob Destroyer he played to knock out my outpost. That enabled the full 28 points to be delivered in one massive knock out blow. That Blob Destroyer allowed JoeC to snatch the win. Without it I'd have been left with 2 authority and the win.

Once more like an also ran horse at the Grand National I had fallen at the first hurdle. But JoeC played really well, and deserved that win. Star Realms is just full of these sort of moments. The “I was stearing defeat in the eyes, and managed to steal the win, against the odds stories”. You have to love a game that just gives you consistently those sort of moments.
To the victor JoeC I wish you all the best in the next rounds, and hope to see your team win. And a big thanks to Ben and Nathan for organising this tournament. My short lived stay in the tournament was a hoot. Roll on this weeks casual tournament, hopefully I will do better and get through the first round.


My Webcam SetUp

I play Marvel DiceMasters, I love the game. I love the theme (Marvel superheroes!), the collectable aspect, the rolling of dice, the tactics/team building, basically everything about it. It's as if they specifically targeted the game at me (although FFG seem to have done that also with the X-Wing miniatures game too, am I that easy to hook in?)

Now my local gamestore (The Rift) runs organised play ( competitions with prizes) and has a few players there. However being 26 miles away not always the easiest most convient to get to or stay long enough to play lots of games ( parking also costs in Peterborough – or as I call it a shopping tax to push shoppers to out of town stores).

So what is so marvelous about DiceMasters is that it works so well as an online game using a webcam! So I now play regular games online with folks in the US and England ( I know there are one or two down under who are interested in playing but not played them yet).

Those playing use a variety of setups, using inbuilt webcams, mobiles/tablets, external webcams. Every now and then we get asked about what setups we use, and software. So I thought I'd write this post to answer that question from my side.

As the photo above shows my setup is the following:



The desk lamp gives me that nice overhead shot without getting in the way of playing. Basically when I got the lamp I stripped it down to what you see in the photo. Removed the shade and power cable, they aren't needed. I used the hitech solution of elastic bands to hold the webcam in place.

However the image from the camera is up side down and flipped. So that people can see the play area as I see it, ie it looks correct I needed to mirror and rotate the image from the webcam. Sadly the Logitech driver software doesn't allow you to do this. Luckily I found a solution in an app called iglasses. It's an amazing little app, which allows me to flip and mirror the image, zoom, set focus, even add filters. It's not free, but not that expensive and works great.

We use Google Hangouts to play the games. So people need a Google+ account to play. Nice thing is about Google Hangouts there can be multiple people on the hangout. But from time to time we use the on air side which broadcasts the session live, and then saves it on YouTube. So it allows us to put games up for others to watch at their own leisure.

When using Google Hangouts with this setup, instead of accessing the webcam directly you tell it to use the iglasses app as the webcam. Which then means you are getting the correct image being used in the hangout.

I hope people find this post useful in setting up their own webcam and join us soon in an online game of DiceMasters. There is a really friendly community of online gamers got DiceMasters and new comers are always welcome.


My next steps with this setup is to get picture in picture working using the built in webcam, and to make use of lower thirds. The lower thirds is apparently easy to do using hangouts. So will probably be the first to be done.