I am the Overlord

Yesterday evening Justin invited me and his brother Jason to go seeking adventure and great treasures in a game of Descent.

This game was a recent addition to his collection. So naturally this was a first play for all of us. I’d tried watching Rodney’s Watch It Played! videos for the game. But the heat of the day had been making me drowsy along with a bit of a headache. Luckily much of what I saw was familiar from my little experience of skirmish plays of Star Wars: Imperial Assault. Which is itself an updated version of Descent set in the Star Wars universe.

I was asked if I didn’t mind being the Overlord. Which I didn’t. 

We played the introductory scenario. Which is there really to introduce you to the game and it’s mechanics. A job that it does really well.

I knew before we played I’d like Descent. I like Imperial Assault. I like fantasy, the whole Dungeons and Dragons thing. So it’s a no brainer for me. I generally like to play magic users, Gandalf types casting fire balls all over the place. But most people type cast me as a halfling/hobbit or dwarf!

This introductory scenario is nicely balanced. I felt it could have gone either way. Despite me winning, I think that Justin and Jason could have won if they had a bit more experience at this type of game, and a change of tactic that would deny my goblin archers camping in the scoring zone for my objective.

Definitely after playing this scenario we are keen to start the campaign. I did point out there is an app (iOS link) that acted as the Overlord. Jason and Justin both downloaded it there and then to look at. Which will be cool if we use this for the campaign because I can play as an adventurer.

So I’m definitely looking forward to the campaign starting once the logistics of it are all sorted out.

Thanks Justin for inviting me along for the evening of gaming. I really enjoyed myself. And somehow I still left your dog with you!

Egg meet face

I’ve had to cancel this evenings kickoff event for a Magic the Gathering League at our gaming group due to lack of interest.

I’m kind of feeling a little disappointed.

A while back I tried to get something going for Ashes at my FLGS. I bought an OP Kit from Plaid Hat (two actually) out of my own pocket. Tried to get a tournament going, and attract interest locally for the game. It was myself and one other. I wasn’t looking to make money out of it, that wasn’t the reason I was doing it. At best I was hoping to break even and kickstart a local meta for the game. That day for the one kit cost me £40. I eventually sold the second kit on at a loss for me. Happy to get something back.

That experience didn’t put me off. After seeing the Magic the Gathering league format. I thought that’s a great format for new and seasoned players. It doesn’t rely on having lots of cards. Decks are 30 cards built from the cards you get from purchasing 3 booster packs, and adding in any extra lands that you need. Then strengthening your deck once a week by purchasing an additional booster pack. If you got three loses in a row I think it was, you could also buy an additional booster pack to strengthen your deck with. This kind of put everyone on an even playing ground. Plus not going to break the bank. I think at my FLGS prices the initial 3 packs would cost £10, and £2.95 (?) a booster after that.

So I sounded out the group for interest in playing Magic the Gathering using these rules. I think there were five or six that showed interest. Enough to warrant setting up an event and getting in booster box.

Which I did. Sadly, at best tonight there would have been 3 of us. So it looks like I’ve taken another hit in the wallet.

If I run something like this again, I’m going to ask for money up front. But at the moment, I’m not feeling like I want to put the effort in. Feeling a bit bruised.

But feeling that way about organising stuff for the club for other games too. Maybe disheartened is a better word to use. maybe it’s me! I know, you find that hard to believe. But I am an acquired taste.

Oh well maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow after spending an evening watching videos about games I won’t get to the table soon. Oh wait no I won’t because an event to find people to play Xia, has 1 possible, and that’s it. So I might find myself going to see the new Spider-Man movie again.

Yep that’s right, again! I saw it Wednesday evening. Bloody brilliant movie. Easily the best Spider-Man movie so far. Refreshing to have a reboot that doesn’t cover the origins of Spider-Man again. I think as a superhero movie it’s in the top 25% I would say.

Right later folks

My Top Ten Variable Player Power Games

We have now reached my third favourite game mechanic (by number of times it appears in games in my collection).

Variable player powers. I certainly do like this mechanic. For starters it adds much needed replay-ability to a game. Unless you are going out of your way to play the same character/faction with the same abilities each game (assuming that is an option) then each game is different and requires different tactics. I also think having different characters/factions with that have different abilities makes the game better, and reinforce the theme of the game. If you look at Nations the Dice Game, it’s a great game, but despite each player being a different civilization, you really don’t feel that you are that civilization there is nothing unique about them to make you think “oh I’m the Egyptians”. To some extent I also think that about Kemet which I love. You don’t really feel that you are follows of a particular god.

So here are my Top 10 Games with the Variable Player Powers…

  1. (Top 100 position – 1) Scythe
  2. (Top 100 position – 2 ) T.I.M.E Stories
  3. (Top 100 position – 3 ) Star Wars: Destiny
  4. (Top 100 position – 8 ) Santorini
  5. (Top 100 position – 10) Neuroshima Hex!
  6. (Top 100 position – 12) Mechs vs. Minions
  7. (Top 100 position – 13) Android: Netrunner
  8. (Top 100 position – 18) Imperial Settlers
  9. (Top 100 position – 20) Zombicide
  10. (Top 100 position – 21) Run, Fight, or Die!

Ultra Rare Costa Gaming Session 

A very very long over due Costa Gaming was held Sunday between Jonathan and myself. Jonathan wanted to try Caverna: Cave vs Cave as a two player game (he had only tried it solo that morning). Plus he had Le Havre: Inland Port he wanted to do a learning game of.

Between the car park and Costa lies The Works, well its a lot nearer to Costa than the car park. But it qualifies as between so I will stick to that description of its location. I thought you know what I’ll quickly pop in on the off chance that they might have a board game bargain in. I mean they did sell Sun Tzu which at the time was a bargain for this nice little two player game. Mind you they also sold the awfully bland deckbuilder built around the online game World of Tanks.  I didn’t see any games there but I did see some jigsaw puzzles that looked more challenging than Barenpark. I ended up buying a couple of childrens Lego Star Wars story books for their Lego minifigs on the cover. £2.50 each for an R2 and Rebel Snowtrooper was a good deal I thought. Whilst paying I saw two home made cakes by the till. This was enough of an in for the shop assistant to up sell me into buying raffle tickets to win them. It was for charity and five tickets for a quid wasn’t going to break the bank. So I bought five tickets and won a sponge cake with a lemon curd filling.
Jonathan was already at Costa when I strolled in with my purchases and winnings.

We started off with Caverna: Cave vs Cave. I really am liking this as a light-ish two player game. I ended up with a nice little engine that got me lots of gold (which are worth points at the end of the game). By the end scoring I maxed out on 19 gold. While Jonathan had built more rooms in his cave than me. Which when we added up everything meant that we actually tied on points.

Oh another reason for me liking this game. Shortest person is the starting player! Thematically it should be the most dwarven looking but I’ll take this.

Next up was  Le Havre: Inland Port. I have to admit I have been close to getting this since playing  Caverna: Cave vs Cave. But luckily I hadn’t done anything about it. We actually gave up on this game, with the intention of watching tutorials on line, and trying to work out what we were missing about the game. We were reading the rules and it didn’t make sense how we could buy stuff, and take all of our actions, especially the first player. It was a very frustrating experience. I think we have worked out those misunderstandings since Sunday. I don’t think that the rule book is as clear as it could or should be.

So with that frustrating experience lingering around, we chatted away, righting the wrongs of the word, catching up on life events, etc. By the time we had finished it was closing time at Costa. Thanks Jonathan for a great afternoon of gaming and chat. We must do this more often. We once did. Lets male it a thing again.

And finally a big thank you to Jonathan for providing me with photos of me in board gaming action.

BTN June 17

June started off with the UK Games Expo. I played some games there but not as many as the majority who attended I would imagine.

Dale and I are playing Star Wars:Destiny a LOT! Which has really pushed up the number of plays this month. With playing it so much is it no wonder it was number 3 in my Top 100 Games (that I own and have played)?

I am surprised how few actual games I have played this month. I know that I was unable to attend one FEG@WL this month, and a couple of weekend sessions fell through. But still I’m shocked at how low this was. Probably one of the lowest months on that front.

Let’s look at some other measures. Still no attractive graph. So you are stuck with plain raw data.

The final section as usual presents the data graphically so we can try and see trends.

My Game of the Month…

Out of the new games to me that I played this month, only one really warrants this prestigious award, and that’s Orleans . The other new games for the month were on the whole good, but not game of the month material. Ok Kanagawa may have got it otherwise.  

Worst Game of the Month…

This won’t come as any surprise to anyone, but we do have a candidate for this infamous award this month. Do bears shit in the woods? Well they have and it contained this game. Yep Barenpark is my Worst Game of the Month for June. I’m not going to say anything else about this horrendous game. I’ve already said enough about it through out the month.

Hopefully hitting the table in July…

But going to put the ones from the last month back on for July.

  • Magic the Gathering – hoping to get a league running for the Summer.
  • Broom Service – final month on this list.
  • Mech vs Minions – no movement on this either.

  • The weekly Friday Evening Gaming at The White Lion (or FEG@WL as I call it)
  • Every second Wednesday of the month we have our monthly meet up. This month that second Wednesday is 12th, and will be at The White Lion.

If you are in the area and want to attend one of the events, please visit the Fenland Gamers Facebook page for further details about the event. Hope to see you there.

Pandemic Iberia Standees 

Like Pandemic Iberia? Well I do. So does my friend Duncan (described as the Scottish version of me but likeable!)

Duncan has done some amazing work for the game by creating standees for it to replace the pawns.

I’ve stolen one of his photos of them below. Because that’s the sort of person I am. Take, take, take.

Not only that he’s shared them with the gaming community by putting the file up on bgg for others to do the same.

Obviously this shows just how much nicer than me he is.

You can get the file HERE

Infamy, infamy, they all have it in for me!

It wasn’t planned this way, but yesterdays and the game in two weeks time are a brilliant way to celebrate the start of the much anticipated new series of The Game of Thrones this month. In fact I think the next game is the same weekend. It’s also that weekend I can start taking holiday also. An exciting weekend indeed. 
Yesterday the people rose up with the aim to over throw the current incumbent of the Iron Throne Jakub.

Four players again meant that we were playing with the Feast for Crows expansion. Justin was playing for the first time, and drew the Starks. I drew the Baratheons, which was a first for me. Chris got the Lannisters and reigning tyrant Jakub was once again Arrayn.

Chris was the first one scoring, his House objective automatically kicked in. I had to attack Chris because we both needed Kings Landing. I wanted it more! 

And I managed to hold on to it for a large chunk of the game. Chris and Jakub formed an unholy alliance and ganged up on me. Whilst Justin was doing a good job of being a distraction to them. Sadly not enough for me to sneak the victory.

Chris took back Kings Landing with me one round away from winning. I was left with two ships as my only forces left on the board. I desperately needed a mustering to ocurr.

That unholy alliance wouldn’t hold out, I was sure of it. Both thought they were able to grab the win. Sadly for Chris Jakub was in a better position than he was.  Jakub completed an objective for the final point he needed to get the win and strengthen his hold on the Iron Throne.

We had alliances, deals, no betrayals that I remember. 

So well done to Jakub for successfully defending your throne.  Sadly for you, but luckily for the rest of us you are unable to defend it next game. So enjoy your short extended reign. 

Kung Fu Art School in a Cave

Last night I was prepared! I had a bag of two player games with me, plus a couple that played up to four but also played well at two. But that was assuming I wasn’t going to be the only person turning up.

Luckily Edmund came along to prevent me from looking like Billy No Mates. 

While waiting for Edmund to arrive I had a little mystery sitting in my inbox. What had Games Lore posted to me? I hadn’t ordered anything from them recently, had I pre-ordered something and forgotten about it? I didn’t think I had. I am less than a year from hitting fifty. So I’m getting old, stuff like memory is failing. The email from ParcelForce contained no clue as to what it was Games Lore were sending me. A bit further down the page I could see an email from the UK shipping partner for Xia: Legends of a Drift System. Finally they were dispatching my copy of the Kickstarter (yeah I hadn’t got lucky the other day). Minutes of puzzling, and searching back through corrupted memories passed. Wait didn’t the UK shipping partner say in the last Kickstarter update they’d be using ParcelForce? I looked at the courier shipping reference in the email. Then went to the ParcelForce email. The parcel from Games Lore had the same reference! Games Lore and the UK shipping partner were the same company! I’m sure they have legit tax avoidance reasons for two separate company names. But Xia is on its way. Oh yes looking forward to it sitting in my pile of shame, waiting to be played and gathering dust. 

Our evening of two player fun started off with the new arrival of Caverna: Cave vs Cave. As a learning game it went fairly well.  Only one real misplay which we picked up on the third round, and it didn’t really affect things too much. Just our caves were slightly less impressive than they could have been.

I thought Edmund was going to run away with the win. But it ended up being closer than I had expected. 

I liked this two player version of Caverna. We know my introductory games of both Caverna and Agricola were some what wanting, and not enjoyable experiences. So it’s surprising I like the two player version of Agricola, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small and now Caverna: Cave vs Cave.

We followed up our cave building with some martial arts practice in Onitama. We played with the new expansion Sensei’s Path. Which is just more movement cards. The expansion fits inside the main box with the original cards. And we have even more variety and replayability. It’s not a must have expansion, but definitely one to get after playing the game a lot and starting to get bored with the original cards.

So while Edmund kicked my butt at this game also, I consumed a lovely medium rare steak. I had decided to celebrate a good appraisal at work with meat of a higher quality than my usual Friday night gaming fare. Plus it was payday and I hadn’t had a steak in a long while.

After three games of Onitama, the score was 2-1 to Edmund. 

It was time to take Edmund from the floor of the dojo to the peaceful serene art studio to learn to paint. Our next and final game was Kanagawa.

Edmund rocked the objective tiles. But sadly only managed to get two points on his painting and studio. Which is where I scored a lot of points, and grabbed the win.

It really was great having a chance to get some two player games to the table. They don’t get played nearly as often as they should. So thank you Edmund for coming along and not totally wiping the floor with me. 

Mono Mill Feedback

I have to admit I almost feel that my Star Wars: Destiny deck posts are like link bait. I do post them on a couple  of Star Wars: Destiny fan pages on Facebook to get feedback. And gradually they have been getting more interest. Yesterday for this small niche blog was crazy. But those types of post are there to help me (provide a record of what I am working on, and get feedback) and to share with the community.

But I’ve been getting some great feedback/suggestions on how to improve the mill deck. There has been no nasty comments. And I think that is indicative of my experience on those pages. The Star Wars: Destiny community does seem to be very supportive, and helpful.

I’m going to warn you this is a long post.

So from the two groups I present the feedback I got for my Padme/eJyn Mono Mill Deck 2.5. I hope folks find me bringing all this feedback into one place helpful. This post is also acting like notes for me also. So I will be referring to this post a lot when I build the 3.0 version of this deck.

Joe Lewis on the Star Wars: Destiny page said

Way different than my list

I cut Asscension Gun very early for Hyperspace Jump. You need your Battlefield so having a card that allows you to have that when you don’t get it and to be able to get out of sticky situations is incredibly important.

I cut Cunning for Maz’s Goggles which is just a better card for what you are trying to do.

Having all of the random die removal is strange to me. We have Negotiate and Electroshock

Joe then posted this photo of his deck for me.

A discussion mainly between Sam A. Cimino and Joe about the merits of certain cards broke out. I have to admit I learnt a lot from this discussion.

Sam:Dodge, block, evade, bolt hole, and take cover are all bad cards. Electroshock, Negotiate, Cat and Mouse, are all better options.”

Joe: I cut Loth because it was free.

Joe:(see: Jyn Erso)

Sam: that only works on the first event played. It’s still better than all those other cards

Joe:The curve of the deck in general messes with Jyn’s ability. Most die removal is in reaction to something. To waste the first event (which is usually die removal for Mono-Yellow) for something like Negotiate is just stronger than playing Loth Cat

David Washburn:Loth is indispensable, dude

Joe:We’ll use his deck as an example:

The average cost of an event for him that is yellow is 0.6, making the inclusion of Jyn in the deck virtually pointless.

Adding Loth Cat and Mouse would not help that ratio. That is why a card like Negotiate and Electroshock are stronger. They serve the same function as Loth Cat and give you more.

In other decks with Yellow it’s great. However, because of Jyn you have to really be careful with what events you play so that you are getting the most value out of her as a character. Running Zero cost Yellow cards really does not do much for her. Her strength comes in fixing the cost curve of your deck.

Dice removal is generally reactionary. You seldom wait more than 2 actions to deal with a die you want to remove. Usually the threat is very clear across matchups after the problem character rolls in.

Loth Cat and Negotiate need a roll in to be live. Jynn makes a reactionary card free, which makes Loth Cat not a valuable “must include” for her.

Sam:By that logic friends is free too and isn’t a must include, since that’s often one of the first things you want to do to get the most value out of it.”

Joe:Friends fulfills a different purpose than Loth Cat though. They are both free but Friends does not have any activation requirement*. The value that you can gain from Friends in Low Places may outweight the value of it lowering your ceiling.

Cards that take away from your opponent are never as good as cards that give you things, but since Friends in Low Places is taking the role of proactive lowering of your opponents ceiling, it’s usually worth it to lower your potential ceiling to take an option away from your opponent.

*The deck has two yellow characters and will always fulfill its requirement.”

Eric Murphy: “I can justify a single copy of dodge and block, i’ve actually seen them used very effectively. but no more than one of each in a deck ever.”

From the Star Wars: Destiny UK/IRL Facebook Group Andrew Eyles wrote

I am trialing a Padme and Jyn deck and have come to the same decision that the EJyn is the way to go. An early Con artist or Cunning onto Padme makes them almost equal targets. My opposition then has to make a choice of which one is the most dangerous. As soon they make that call I try to get enough resources to get second chance and ammo belt hopefully next round.”

I did then ask how our two decks differed and Andrew replied with

I do not play Bolt hole, block, take cover or dodge. I play “fair trade”, Don’t get cocky, long con and Sabotage.

For me block and dodge are too expensive. My resources are for second chance and maybe 2 other upgrades i can get out. Sabotage is in for the annoying supports like planetary uprising but more for freely discarding imperial inspection, salvage stand and dark presence.

I do not play hunker down or Ascension gun. I have lone Operative and fast hands. In the current meta speed is everything. Having to tap a card for one shield (which a lot of the time makes no difference, i am looking at you vibroknife) is just too slow. Fast hands early gives me that scary ability to get 2 cards out your hand before you even have a go.

The whole deck obviously needs the second chance/ammo belt combo early where yours may have a little more survivability without it.

It is nuts when it all comes together – cheating and rebelling the ammo belts back out and discarding whole reams of cards from the deck and hand. It is fun to play – maybe not quite tier 1 but getting close.”

There was even a comment left on the post yesterday from a Ben:

I think you need to use Jyns ability more, cards like Negotiate and electroshock Would help more than block and take cover. Also Disarm is great, it gets rid of alot of upgrades that hurt like vibro knife. finally, trade in hunker downs for maz goggles. for 1 cost, it has two focuse sides and a “Discard” side.”

There is some great food for thought there, and I will be trying out some of those suggestions (mainly the ones that don’t require dice – I can print out the cards I don’t have as a stop gap). Those that require dice I will have to try and target buy (after my booster box of Awakenings arrives, just in case I get them). I will then target buy the cards that I feel work best after play testing them.

I was playing this deck for the first time yesterday against a ePoe/eMaz deck yesterday. Dale got three Awakenings booster boxes yesterday that gave him enough cards (like Poe!) to build an initial deck. I got creamed in our first game. Very little went my way in that game. Dice rolls, card draw, all conspired to make me eat humble pie.

The second game I won, and removing his battlefield (Starship Graveyard) and going with mine was a good start towards that victory.

I know Dale is missing some cards from a “full” ePoe/eMaz deck. He already has a couple of tweaks to the one I played against.

But that’s the interesting thing about our local meta, it’s Dale and myself with our limited card pool. Although Dale’s card pool (2.5 SOR boxes, 3 Awakenings boxes, plus 25 SOR boosters) is larger than mine (.5 SOR box, 20 SOR boosters and some targeted purchases). However if you look at our stats I have our longest win streak of 6 games. Out of 75 games I have the edge with 49 wins to 36. So I’m very happy with that. I’ll have to write a post about the decks Dale has been playing with sometime.

My Top Ten Dice Rolling Games

I am such a weak willed person. It didn’t help that a game reviewer on Instagram that I respect said that he had been enjoying these lists on there. So blame him, not me. I was going to let it go for a while.

Who doesn’t like chucking dice? There is something really satisfying about rolling dice. The rattling around in your hand, and then the noise they make as they hit a hard surface.

Here are “My Top Ten Dice Rolling Games”…

  1. (Top 100 position – 2) T.I.M.E Stories
  2. (Top 100 position – 3) Star Wars: Destiny
  3. (Top 100 position – 7) Istanbul
  4. (Top 100 position – 12) Mechs vs. Minions
  5. (Top 100 position – 14) Glen More
  6. (Top 100 position – 16) Memoir ’44
  7. (Top 100 position – 20) Zombicide
  8. (Top 100 position – 21) Run, Fight, or Die!
  9. (Top 100 position – 26) The Others
  10. (Top 100 position – 27) Roll for the Galaxy

I had to go look at my copy of Glen More. Dice Rolling? Really? I think it really is stretching it. Ok you are using the special die to simulate an extra player in a two or three player game (I had to go back and check this out, my memory isn’t great). But still it’s not the first mechanic that would come to mind for this game.

I’d also nearly say the same for Istanbul. I wouldn’t describe it as a main mechanic for the game. But a ‘side’ mechanic which you could go through the whole game not using if you don’t visit the couple of tiles that use the dice.

There are some great dice rolling games in this list. I love the mechanic in The Others. You can be rolling an insane amount of dice in this game, especially as the sin. I love the Yahtzee push your luck element in Run,Fight, or Die!

It’s funny how four of the games use the dice as a mechanic to resolve combat but there is no roll mitigation. Your roll is what it is. Which is interesting.

Star Wars: Destiny is all about the dice rolling. It keeps that luck, random element of the dice, but you are able to mitigate the rolls to get a ‘favorable’ result. You can always discard a card to re-roll, and hope you get the side you want. There are also cards that allow you to do a similar thing with your or an opponents dice. But there are cards and abilities that allow you to set dice to a side of your choice, or of a specific symbol. However you have to make the decision to include these cards in your deck or not. Which I kind of like. You get to decide (faction allowing) how much mitigation you have.

I love how dice are used in Roll for the Galaxy. The action selection, as a resource, the mitigation so that you are able to take the action you want to do, but at a cost. They really did use the dice well in this game to stream line Race for the Galaxy.