Wishing you all a Happy New Year

And welcoming our new overlord 2018.

It’s a big year ahead of us. I hit 50 this year. How? I have no idea. One day at a time I suppose. But you can look forward to the melancholy, and navel gazing etc nearer the time. Two big board game expos this year in the UK, I have hotels booked, just need tickets now. I might even write something interesting on here too. So you might want to stick around just on the off chance that I do.

Remember for the majority of us it’s back to work tomorrow, so enjoy this last day of freedom from the daily grind.

War and Politics

Yesterday 5 tribes went to war, did some trading, made alliances and generally had a great time. Yeah Twilight Imperium 4 made it to,the table with 5 people playing it.

I’m just going to say wow! The politics, the ebb and flow of alliances, deal making, attempting Jedi mind tricks. The trading and agenda phase aided and enhanced all of this. One of those deals between red and green gave green the centre of the known universe Mecatol Rex. Which afterwards quickly went south and saw their two massive space fleets duking it out. Further alliances were formed, lines drawn. But this was all a distraction that allowed green to keep Mecatol Rex and score some easy points.

My starting position seemed anomaly heavy and planet light, and boxed me in stopping me expanding out, or even getting to the centre of the universe to claim it for my own.

Yeah this game is fastly becoming a favourite. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it to the table a couple times a year. If it gets out that many times I’ll be really happy. I’d love to get it out to the table again real soon, but I don’t see how with the current schedule of games planned that it’s possible. In the next 2 weeks 2 campaigns start, Charterstone and Gloomhaven. Both are legacy style games as well, that are going to be running for a few weeks. Then in February we start our next MtG league using the Rivals for Ixalan set that comes out on the 20th January.

Watching the train wreck

I think the following really does sum up the current situation for WotC and Hasbro over #magicgate as it’s become known.

I know it’s the holidays and all, but the deafening silence from said companies over the continued harassment going on in the community on both sides of the argument is worrying. There really should be some high profile bans going on. But at the moment WotC seem to be copying the three wise monkeys when it comes to people they like. They get away with murder, but god forbid if you are not in the approved list of abusers and harassers, then you can expect them to come down on you with the ban hammer. If evidence provided by the recently life time banned person is accurate, WotC are hypercrits, and actually view what that person did worse than actual physical abuse and harassment. Why do I say that? Well the evidence presented shows that a person can admit to saying “I hope you burn to death” and admit to harassing a magic judge at an organised event and not get banned. Apparently a person can threatened to, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, rape a WotC employee, and have a ban for making the threat revoked. Or get this this you can actually sexually harass a player at an event as a judge and get a temp ban, and then shown a route back to the community!!!!! Then there are new allegations that WotC, their judges program and now their event partner Channel Fireball don’t vet magic judges for being sexual offenders, despite young vulnerable people attending their organised events. What’s worse is that they are now trying to cover up (again I have to say allegedly) the fact that these convicted sex offenders were still judges at events after being convicted.

So if these allegations are true why are there not more lifetime bans going on? It’s also worrying that the so called “pillars of the magic community” are silent on all this, burying their heads in the sand. Mind you one or two of them should be getting lifetime bans too. Just because they don’t like the messenger doesn’t invalidate the message. So you have to ask why are they silent on this? Are they hoping if they bury their heads deep enough in the sand that the issue will go away? If these “pillars of the community” are all about the community then they should be speaking out on this. But sadly I don’t think they have the publics best interest at heart. Watch the “right” YouTube videos and you might come to that conclusion also (but for other reasons).

I’m just sitting on the sidelines, watching just how messy this train wreck will get. If you like high body counts, lots of collateral damage, gore, and being deafened by the sound of silence, then you really have to follow this. Both sides of the argument are committing atrocities against each other, the fallout is going to be messy. It’s hypnotic, and I can’t turn away from the carnage.

Let’s be civil about this

With all the pieces sitting on my table I put together an initial version of the “Death and Taxes” deck this morning. Which was followed by punching cardboard for Civilization: New Dawn. But there was a reason for this flurry of holiday activity. I was going to be testing the Magic deck, and playing Civilization in the afternoon with Justin.

At Justin’s I had him play my R/G Dino deck. If this new deck did well against that then I would know I’m onto something. But sadly it got its butt handed to it. I just wasn’t hitting the cards I needed. So back to the drawing board, and looking into how I can be more consistent and draw the cards I need.

After being given some food for thought about the new deck. We set up a two player game of Civilization: New Dawn using the suggested tiles and layout for a first game.

I thought this worked out pretty well as a two player experience. Naturally there are elements that would work better in three or four games, such as the diplomacy cards. But combat was not an issue for me as it has been for some of those that have reviewed it. Like many similar style games, the combat isn’t the main act. It’s sharing the main headline with other mechanics. And like those other games the combat is a simple, it’s a streamlined affair. Yes in this version there is a little bit of randomness with the use of dice. Is that much different to the tides of war/battle cards that are optional in the A Game of a Thrones board game? But there is also a little bit of predetermination before you even get to the dice rolling.

I loved the focus track, and the way that works, which is the main driving mechanic of the game. The decisions you have to make, or are forced to do just so an action you want to do is more powerful, or you even have to do at that moment despite it being a lot weaker than you want.

Yeah this is a nice Civ like game or even Civ like lite to be more accurate, that gives a taste of that experience in a much shorter time span. A gateway Civ game? Possibly. Plenty of replay ability with the variable map tiles, 7 races/leaders, 5 different goal tiles (that you randomly select 3), different routes to upgrade your technology.

Despite winning I liked it as a 2 player game, and looking forward to playing it again with more players.

5 player Twilight Imperium 4 tomorrow ^_^

Pleasantly surprised, and then a concern about WotC

Well apart from the fact that the postman was delivering at 7am this morning. We don’t get that any other time of the year. But the early copy of Mint Deliveries arrived!

Also my main order from CardKingdom also turned up. So now I have to put together the main spine of my Death and Taxes deck.

Spent the afternoon playing Magic with the newest member of Fenland Gamers at the local Wetherspoons. It originally was meant to be The White Lion, but there was a slight flaw in the plan. It was shut! But we played our own decks, then put a couple of battle decks against each other. After a few games, I was asked for some deck advice. So I passed on what little advice I was capable of. I’m not nowhere near close to being an expert. So I’m not sure how good my advice was. But as far as I could see, the mana curve needed fixing in all three decks I looked at. There needed to be play sets for some of the cards so that there was some consistency to the card draws. Also one or two of the decks needed a win condition, or to focus on achieving the win condition. I did apologise that they would have to go away and do some research into cards and possibly buy some. I did point out one tip of if a card was too expensive that there should be a cheaper more costly to play/weaker version that could be affordable.

I particularly like the decks that Strictly Better MtG comes up with. I want to build some of his pauper decks to play with, they look good fun.

I know I’m very late to the party but I have been trying Hearthstone on my iPad. I was going to wait until the new MtG app was launched. But WotC scared me off ever investing in their digital products when they correctly banned a Youtuber for harassment. What I didn’t like was the confiscation of the digital stuff he’d purchased without refunding his money for the cards/tickets he’d bought. I don’t like the fact they can take away something you have paid for, and from what I have seen by a tech lawyer covering this aspect on his YouTube channel something they are on very dodgy ground legally, because even by their own terms of service, contracts the cards and tickets are owned by the player when they purchase them. So I’m very scared by this action of theirs. How can I invest time and money into their digital products, knowing that they can seize them whenever they like, especially if they don’t like something I write online?

There are a lot of other issues associated with this “magicgate” as it has become known. I’m also very concerned that at the moment I’m only seeing WotC banning people who seem to have a differing political view to theirs. I’m not seeing them ban those that share a similar outlook on life to them politically. Despite them using the same tactics, language as those that they have banned for harassment. And that’s worrying. There is not a single way I can be considered right leaning. I am very much a left leaning person on the political spectrum. However I expect to see WotC be blind to political views of people and apply their terms of service blindly. Harassment is harassment no matter who is doing it, and to whom. It should not be tolerated whatsoever. And I expect WotC to be even handed and ban anyone who commits any harassment no matter who they are. So I’m waiting to see WotC prove that they are indeed against harassment, and not just using this as a smoke screen to even scores with people that have voiced opinions they disagree with.

Boxing Day Ramblings

If I’m really lucky UPS will make their delivery before midday tomorrow, with enough time to throw the cards together to make my take on the Death and Taxes deck.

“‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin

Why midday? Well I have an afternoon of casual play organised and it would be nice to take the deck out for a spin. One of my tests would be against that Red Rookie deck from CardKingdom. I’d also like to see how it handles against the Uproar Battledeck. I can’t describe how excited I am about putting it up against that students burn deck. Although the Kor Firewalker cards won’t be with me until mid January, and these are there deliberately for a red burn deck. But having said that I’m also keen to see how my R/G Dino deck does tomorrow as well.

Yeah looking forward to tomorrow’s casual Magic.

Talking of deliveries, neither the Tao Long or Mint Deliveries made it before Christmas Day. Now the clock is ticking for whether they will make it by the end of the year. I’m not convinced. I know Mint Deliveries was posted at the end of last week. So the creator/publisher has technically sent it before the end of the year (Although late due to illness I believe), and some in the US had theirs by Christmas, I think it’s disingenuous to say they met that deadline. Shipping is not meeting the deadline, delivery is. Tao Long only shipped yesterday or today. The publisher was working on Christmas Day to get stuff out! They have been moving heaven and earth to get the game to folks before the end of the year. I’m still not convinced this will be the case, and that they had been a bit more realistic in their estimates. I was pessimistic when I commented on the community section of the Kickstarter page, and they were over optimistic, but even the delays last week were longer than even a pessimist like me considered. Apparently the shipping is about 4 days. So it may make it to me before the year ends.

Some Christmas Day Viewing…

Totally off topic for the blog, but if you are struggling for a good movie to watch today while trying to survive the after affects of over eating, here are some recommendations.

First up…

This first recommendation is probably in my opinion the best movie Jackie Chan has done in years.

The Foreigner is a revenge movie at its heart. It has the odd action sequences that harp back to those classics that Jackie is famous for back in his younger days. I can’t watch Pierce Brosnan in this movie without thinking Gerry Adams, his appearance, character etc just screams the guy. Almost biopic performance! I also like the grittier tone this has. This movie should have been promoted more.

The biggie for Netflix this Christmas is the Will Smith vehicle Bright.

A cop buddy movie, that on one level reminded me of Alien Nation. But mix in fantasy elements and you have a great movie that looks at some interesting themes.

A couple of weeks back Netflix added…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Star Wars movie, and I really like this first entry in the new trilogy.

Yep Netflix has all of the Back to the Future trilogy for you to watch. A classic, still enjoyable.

Now onto the film that for me rebooted Keanu Reeves. It was most definitely his best movie for a really really long time.

John Wick is a modern action movie classic, great twist on the revenge movie plot. Oh and ultra violent, you have been warned.

“Classic” eighties tv remade/rebooted as a movie in general haven’t been amazing. Dire would be more descriptive. But oh boy did The Equaliser deliver. It is a really great, gritty, violent take on the tv show.

Ok onto…

I only have one recommendation here.

A weapons deal that goes horribly wrong. Great acting, violent, twist ending. This is a gem of a movie.

Ok not a single seasonal movie here, but I think you will be glad that you did watch these.

Or if you are in the mood to binge watch something try these…

On Amazon prime…

Have a great days viewing!

‘Twas the Friday and Saturday before Christmas

It’s a dangerous thing this internet. Especially that YouTube thingy bob. I’m innocently watching these Magic the Gathering deck tech videos and suddenly “oh that card would be good in …[insert name of a deck I’m building at the moment here]” pops into my tiny easily influenced mind.

That’s why Soul Warden and Kor Firewalker (above) are on their way to me. Kor Firewalker is a sideboard card for the death and taxes deck I’m building, and it’s there just for a students burn deck. Soul Warden might make it into the deck but could see use in the planned angel deck. I’m looking forward to completing the death and taxes deck and seeing how it fairs against my students decks. Which reminds me I need to put up the revised Dino deck list.

Last night was the last Friday Meetup of the year. Before others arrived John and met up to squeeze in a play of The Pillars of the Earth.

I had never played the game before. So I wanted to see what all the fuss was. Why was it demanding so much money when it was out of print?

Yes since the game originally came out mechanics have evolved, there are some really great worker placement games that have come out during that time also.

Building the cathedral is a nice piece of theatre. It has that wow factor when completed at the end. Pulling out the master builders from a bag to determine action selection order, with the added factor of if you come out early it costs you money to take advantage of the fact, a nice touch.

It’s a good game. I enjoyed playing it (yep I won). But having played it I’d not have payed the stupid money it was going for when it was out of print. I’d happily play it again. Will I go out of my way to buy a copy for the collection? No. Having it in Jonathan’s collection is good enough for me.

We also got the latest (Kickstarter only I believe) expansion for Flash Point, Tragic Events to the table. I liked what these cards bought to the game. But need to play the game in expert mode a couple more times to make a more informed conversation about them. This was after all the first time the game had hit the table in over 2 years. And that last time we played was the novice game not the expert.

Our final,game of the evening was the classic gateway game Ticket to Ride. I rocked the game this time. I completed my initial two tickets, and just went unopposed taking the 6 carriage routes on the map. Racking up 15 points each time I did one. Naturally I triggered the end game, plus was able to get my last two carriages out for a final 2 points. This was a surprisingly easy victory.

Yesterday an amazing deal appeared on Amazon for the 2 player starter set for Star Wars: Destiny. It was being sold for half price! So I alerted Dale, bought the 2 copies I wanted (so I had a playset) , then alerted a couple of friends on Facebook a bargain Christmas gift was to be grabbed. As a couple of store owners pointed out on a UK Destiny page, this price was cheaper than they could get it for! One store owner had bought 10 copies to sell in his shop.

Naturally today it’s back to full price. But I have my 2 copies sitting on my stairs.

Our game group has been discussing on and off starting a rpg of some sort. I have Paranoia sitting upstairs, Edmund has recently got the D & D 5th Edition beginners box set. But no decision has been made to what system to use, let alone setting, and who is playing etc. Which brings me nicely to the just released Genesys system from FFG. Which is meant to be a generic system that can be used with any theme/setting. They give examples/ideas of five example themes/genres in the core book, like sci-fi or modern. Although I don’t play Netrunner any more the world of Android still interests me. I’d love to play a rpg set in it. My only fear about spending time building up the world for a campaign is that FFG release a module for this that is Android. I know with the art books for the last four or so sets of Magic the Gathering and the pdfs you can download from the Wizards site you can run a D & D campaign set in the Magic universe. But with those two sources it shouldn’t be hard to set a campaign using the Genesys system there either. Although I’d like to “play” in that universe, and the differing settings, I’m not sure the others in the play group would be that keen. I’m also thinking about the Star Wars rpg (a reprint of the original one is due out by the end of January – I have that pre-ordered) and the Middle Earth rpg. But first we need to start playing!

Future plans part 2

Yesterday Jonathan messaged me about going to the first Tabletop Gaming Live expo/show next September. I’d thought about it when the show was first announced a couple of moths or so back. And had been put off really by the fact it was in London. I was convinced accommodation would be expensive and hard to get, after all its London. I’d even thought of investigating the cost of air bnb. But still it’s in London! I hate London. I always have. So I try and keep my visits to the place to a minimum.

Anyway Jonathan pointed out that the hotel he’d found was still cheap at the moment. I had a look at the link he provided, and £40 for the night was good. Sadly the breakfast option at this Travelodge was not tempting at all. It’s basically a packed breakfast, not a cooked full English. So I booked for one night. Which means I have to get up early on the Saturday to get to the show.

After booking, which Jonathan was doing at the same time as I was. Jonathan very generously said we could car share using his car. I was thinking train. If I hate London I really do hate driving in London. Jonathan making this very generous offer means that I’m not limited to what I can carry on a train for purchases. Although if the last couple of UKGE have been any guide, I’m not one of those that go to the shows to spend lots on binge purchasing of games. Particularly this year I went with no list of stuff to buy at all.

I’ve just got to buy the show tickets now. I have accommodation all sorted for both. I’ll sort show tickets out in the new year.

I know this blog has a small but exclusive readership, but hopefully I’ll see one or two of you at the shows next year.