BTN November 2016

Wow another month gone, and we are now into the home straight to Christmas and the New Year.

But what did last month look like?

I played some great games this month. Out of the twenty games played in November, twelve of them were games that I played for the first time. That’s amazing, the percentage is normally much lower than that.

Life certainly made an impact on the number of chances I had to play games this month. But it didn’t stop the games played from being more substantial, more meaty affairs. And it was nice to be able to get those more complicated, more thoughtful games to the table.

My Game of the Month

I think this can be only one game this month. It had amazingly strong competition from the likes of Kemet, T.I.M.E. Stories, Cry Havoc and Covert. But in the end it could only be Scythe. One game wasn’t enough, we had to play a second straight away. Scythe really did live up to the hype. I’m just hoping that Sunday after playing The Others that there will be time to get a three player game of Scythe in as well.

The Streak Ends!

Last night saw the second race of our Formula D league season two. The circuit for this race was Singapore.

As per our house rules our starting grid was the reverse order of the finishing positions of the previous race. Which meant Katie the reigning champ and winner of the first race of season two was starting at the back of the grid. Jonathan was in position four, Debbie three, myself in second and Diego was pole position.

I stalled on the starting grid, which Jonathan thought was funny. well until he did exactly the same thing!

Somewhere in the first half of the first lap, Katie manages to move up through the pack into pole position. We don’t know how, but it happens. It has been a mystery to us. Diego wasn’t going to let his lead go that easily, and he managed to hold on to it for at least three quarters of the first lap.

Unusually for me I was taking very little damage on my way round the track. While Katie and Diego were vying for first place, Jonathan and I were trading blows over third. Debbie was happily bringing up the rare, sometimes getting within striking distance of making a move for fourth.

Katie had the lead by the end of the first lap, but she needed a pitstop. Diego was second, and made the call he didn’t need to stop. Jonathan was third, and also in pretty bad shape that he needed to do a pitstop. The pitstops gave Diego and myself the opportunity to gain ground and challenge for the top spot.

We weren’t entirely sure that we had the advance pitstop rules interrupted correctly. They seemed to be a bit confusing. So we will have to go on to bgg and investigate.

In the meantime, lap two was continuing like the first, but tighter.

Diego and Katie were battling for first place. With the advantage clearly with Diego. While Jonathan and I continued our dueling for third.

Somehow I was driving exceedingly well. I was rarely overshooting, my gear selection was working for me. I was making ground on Katie in second! That was helped by her and Diego both skidding on this lap. They had both overshot too many times. As had Jonathan, which meant that I was in remarkable good shape for the second lap, and no pitstop.

In the second third of the track I overtook Katie! I wasn’t going to catch Diego up who was closing in on the finish line. The gap between me and Katie grew. She was having to be extra cautious, overshooting for her could mean instant elimination.

Diego had done what we had thought impossible. He had beaten Katie and taken the win. I crossed the finish line in second. I too had beaten Katie!! This was unheard of in the short history of the league. Katie had suffered her first defeat, and fallen to third place. Jonathan crossed in fourth with Debbie limping over in last place. Katie’s winning streak had come to an abrupt end.

Despite there being a new race winner. Katie is still top of the points table. In the third and final race of the league in the new year Katie will be starting in the middle of the pack. But the pressure will be on for her to reclaim her title, and start a new streak. Will that pressure be too much?

How do you kill off an lcg?

Well if you are Plaid Hat Games, recently absorbed into the Asmodee Borg collective, you do the following for starters:

  • Make sure that your product is very hard to get hold of at LGS.
  • Make sure that if the public buy direct from you, that you charge extortionate prices for shipping abroad.

Then you go and do the following:

Rumours on bgg  and I have had it from another source as well, is that instead of having this nice deluxe box coming out that was planned, they are going to split out the two new Phoenixborn and their respective new dice into two separate packs. With the fate of the deluxe box in limbo.

What’s the issue with that you ask? Initially not a lot. I’m cool with that. What I’m not cool with is the price these two new expansions will be sold for. The plan from Plaid Hat is for these to be sold for $25 each! $50 for both! That’s more than the cost of the base game which has six Phoenixborn and four sets of dice. Plus if you pre-order being in the UK we get totally robbed with the shipping as well. Plaid Hat are not the most friendly company for international buyers.

But why would you buy from Plaid Hat then, and not just buy the expansion from your FLGS? May I direct you to point one of their plan to kill off the game. Plaid Hat are not able to get product out to stores in enough numbers for people to buy it. It’s very very rare, in fact it’s easier to find an honest Tory MP than to be able to walk into a FLGS and buy an Ashes expansion or even the base game.

So you are kind of forced to buy from Plaid Hat to make sure you get the expansion. They try and sweeten the deal by adding a promo Phoenixborn that is exclusive to them. But that really doesn’t make up for the daylight robbery that occurs when they add shipping.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Ashes. I love the art work, the release schedule was ideal for it to be my second LCG/CCG of choice (although it could be a little bit more frequent), I love the dice as resources, it’s a really nice game. Plus in some ways Plaid Hat are also a really great company. They obviously care about the community, and the likes of Isaac Vega (the designer) are regularly interacting with the community, and giving updates when they can.

Not many companies out there actually make their OP kits available for groups to arrange their own OP events (there were some conditions for being able to do this, that were totally reasonable). That was a great touch, and showed they were listening.

But the community is screaming for product. Not just expansions to increase the card pool. But also accessories such as playmats, deck boxes and OP kits. Yes you can get the plastic tokens that Team Covenant do, but for those of us outside the US of A that’s an expensive option once again, because they also like to take the piss on postage.

My fear is that Ashes is dead already. That the combination of these failures, and this latest news about the upcoming expansion will be enough for people to say “I’m out”, and pack away their cards. I know for some this expansion news was the straw that broke the camels back.

It’s hard enough as it is to find people to play the game with. No point demoing the game, as people can’t buy it! No app, no physical product. The situation is bad. Oh and on the app side don’t give me Table Top Simulator as an option. It’s not. If the app isn’t multi platform ie runs on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android then it’s useless. Plus Table Top Simulator is clumsy and horrible. I want a dedicated app that runs on my tablet or phone (my main computing devices when at home), not some cludge.

For a bit of context, White Wizard Games released Epic around the same time iirc, in the past year we have seen OP kits, playmats, one expansion, card sleeves, deck boxes, and the second expansion is hitting any day now. And like Plaid Hat a World Championship. Oh and we will be seeing a Kickstarter for an Epic app (already in development) as well next year.

If White Wizard Games can do all this, plus all their Star Realms, Hero Realms stuff, whilst being a smaller company. Why can’t Plaid Hat, who have more resources behind them?

I hope Plaid Hat are listening. The window for saving this game is closing extremely fast.

 

Tired old tropes

For me to watch/listen to a new podcast/youtube video it has to be something spectacular.

I’m finding that so many are so formulaic and “me too”. Oh your podcast is a bunch of friends sitting round a microphone talking about games, with your unique brand of witty banter and in jokes. Well thats certainly not been done before!

Oh you are standing in front of your shelves and shelves of neatly stacked boardgames. How original.

I’m just finding that so many of these podcasts and youtube videos are using the same old tired tropes. I’ve identified a couple of them in the moan above.

Another one I’m finding so tiring now is the formulaic coverage of a game. Brief intro to the game, over long explanation of the game, then a much shorter opinion on the game. They might even mix in a little bit of ‘amdram’ themed around the game to add humour or entertainment. Some are better than others at doing this. But I find myself hitting the fast forward to get to that short end bit.

The magazine format is also getting like this. A youtube show usually with multiple contributors providing their own little segment. Each segment conforming to the same boring, tired, tropes. I’m watching less and less of these shows as I jump between one segment to another. I think there is about ten minutes of a forty to fifty minute episode of Boardgame Breakfast that I watch now. Given up on the two spin off shows by Sam and Zee. I’ve given the Instagamer Network show a chance but I’m struggling with the tired tropes.

I don’t know what the answer is. But there has to be something better out there. Everything is blurring into one another, where one show can’t be told apart from another.

Mechs and beverages

My game of the month for November is going to be so hard to choose. Contenders so far, T.I.M.E. Stories, Kemet, Cry Havoc, and the subject of today’s post and Saturdays gaming session, Scythe.

Saturday saw me playing Scythe with Jeff. I’d had a small piece of luck that morning when the metal coins for the game turned up in the post.


Wow! What an amazing game. Boy does it live up to the hype.

First off the game is beautiful. The art is amazing, and I have to admit I’m so tempted to try and get the art book now. The quality of everything else with the game is also really good. There is a lot of attention paid to details, such as little cut outs on player boards to keep cubes etc in place, and to show where they go.

You get two little containers for the wooden tokens. Now I prefer the wooden tokens to the realistic ones you can buy. Plus the board is doubled sided, with the second side being a larger board. So less crowded, but needs the board expansion too to use.

I love the alternate history 1920’s theme, and the art, minis etc really bring this out.

This is not a small game. You will need a large table to play on. Luckily our venue The White Lion has an amazing, easily 12 foot wooden table we are able to play on. Which easily accommodates a game the size of Scythe.

You’d think looking at the game that it was complicated and hard to learn. But oh no, this is very easy to learn and pick up. Plus between Watch It Played and Jamey Stegmaier’s YouTube videos you can be playing this without touching the rule book. But the rule book is pretty good, I found it clear and easy to follow. Unlike a couple of recently played games where we found the rule book lacking. 

There are some nice little player aid cards that summarise turns, mech river crossing powers, even suggest for new players things to try on their first few turns. Plus there is a large player aid sheet too! Yeah I like this player support.

Surprisingly the game is rather quick to set up. The previously mentioned player boards with the cut outs definitely aid in this as does having information on individual player setups on the player and faction boards.

Having asynchronous player abilities, means there is a lot of replayability. Plus the unique abilities don’t seem over powered. 

The taking an action and not being able to take the same one twice in a row (unless you have the character I was playing). Along with each action having two parts that you may or may not do, it’s up to you. It’s a really neat mechanism that gets you thinking about action order.

The upgrade mechanic is really nice. You take one cube from the top row on the player board and place it in an allowed spot in the bottom row. This has the effect of making that ability where the cube was from more rewarding when taken. And the bottom option where it was placed cheaper to take next time. 


I like the enlist mechanics also a nice touch. You get a maximum of four of these recruits, each one when recruited gives an instant bonus, (you chose from the four available on your faction board, once taken it’s gone) plus then an on going bonus when ever a person on your right or left uses that ability. So it becomes important that you keep an eye on what other players are doing each turn.

I really like the factory mechanic. Get to the factory space and you are able to choose a factory card that gives you an extra action you can chose to take on your turn. You are only allowed one of these. So getting to the factory space first gives you the pick of the litter, and not having to choose scraps. However in our second game I wanted all three. It was really hard choosing just one.

When you do an event with your character it’s a joy. You get to first draw an event card and see a painting of beauty. Then you have to choose one of the three options (unless you have an ability that allows you to chose two like Jeffs faction did). The options tell a little story based on the scene depicted in the painting, and give a reward that might have a cost to it. A lot of time must have been spent crafting these little descriptions because they convey so much of the theme along with the painting. Genius.

Battles are rather cool. They are not the forgone conclusion you think they’d be. A combination of spending up to a maximum of 7 points (depending how many you have) and combat cards to boost the final score. With the highest final score winning. Very streamlined, very quick and easy.

Objectives add more replayability to the game. You get two at the start and can only complete one of them. These are random each game. In our second game I didn’t even attempt to complete mine.

It’s possible to end the game and still lose. Which is what happened in our second game. I was really going for it, completing stuff as quick as possible to get my stars out. My final two stars to get out and end the game were battles that I had to win. But at that point I had enough battle cards and points to get those victories. 

But Jeff had better popularity than me, which along with having got buildings out in end game scoring positions, gave him just enough points to get the win.

Even losing both games I had a blast. The time flew by, it never felt like we had been playing for 3.5 hours or so. 

This is an amazing game. Can’t wait to play it again. I do regret not backing this on Kickstarter. But I do have a Kickstarter special edition which is basically the basic game plus promos. To which I’ve pimped it out with the metal coins as you know. But I have the board extension on pre-order along with the expansion and new $50 metal coins that the expansion introduces. 

Just go buy this you won’t regret it.

WS28Nov16

I’ve not done a Week Starting for a couple of weeks now, mainly because there has not been much out catching my eye.

Which is good really, because it means my wallet has had an easier time than normal.


But as you can see FFG and Esdevium have plans to strip mine your wallet and then your bank account with a Star Wars themed collectible dice game called Star Wars Destiny.

Luckily for me I don’t have room in my life and bank account for another “life style” game.

Next up the amazingly brilliant game (that I have the expansions, promos and coins for but don’t actually own the base game) Viticulture Essential Edition is being restocked. Whilst it’s proper expansion Tuscany Essential Edition also comes out. 

I actually have the original paper playmat for Colt Express. But now a more robust version of it is coming out. This mouse mat material version is going to sell out quickly for sure. So grab it fast is my advice.

The Hood expansion hits for The Thunderbirds boardgame.

Guilds of London is getting a restock. This is really worth getting if you don’t have it. Don’t let the iconography put you off. It’s worth the effort.

Castle Panic gets another expansion. I don’t know too much about what this adds. But I love Castle Panic so this will be a must get.

Another expansion for Dice City hits. I’ve not started on the expansion route for Dice City. It’s a nice game, and better than Quadropolis. 

Finally £33 is all you need to spend to relive the magic of the children’s/geek classic The Goonies in The Goonies The Adventure Card Game in game format. I’ve not seen any reviews yet so can’t comment on how good the game is. You have been warned.

Pimp it out

What’s your favourite way to pimp out a game in your collection?


With the arrival of the metal coins for Scythe (just in time for our game today), that thought was running through my head.

With The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction I really love the wooden tokens for yellow cake and uranium that pimp out the deluxe edition.

But I think my favourite pimp out has to be metal coins. They just feel really nice, more tactile, more satisfying in the hand than cardboard coins.

I have metal coins for 7 Wonders (I’m using a set of Viticulture metal coins for this), plus I have a set of Viticulture metal coins waiting to pimp out Viticulture when I finally buy a copy. 

In the postal system between here and France are two sets of the metal coins for 7 Wonders Duel (along with the metal tokens). And I have the metal version of the new 50 value coins that get introduced with the Scythe expansion on pre-order.

One pimp out I won’t be getting is the realistic resources for Scythe, I don’t actually like the look of them. I much prefer the standard wooden tokens.

I am glad with The Others that I got the plastic token pack, so I’ve not bothered punching out the cardboard ones. I wish I’d done the same with Zombicide.

I suppose the ‘ultimate’ pimp out kit is the deluxe upgrade box for Tokaido. Soundtrack, miniatures, metal coins, plastic player counters in the shape of little packages.

But why do we go to all that trouble, and expense to pimp out our games? 

By pimping out I’m not going to just include upgrading components, but also adding promos.

For me I think it’s all about making the game personal, making it ‘unique’, putting your mark on a game.

It’s taking a much loved game (you wouldn’t do this for a game you don’t like!), and making it yours.

Let’s face it, not everyone is going to hunt down hard to get promos or upgrade the components. Normal people will be happy with just owning the ‘basic’ game.

But something in a ‘hardcore’ Gamers DNA drives them to add that personal touch to their favourite games. It’s probably the same thing that drives them to pay silly money for their Grail games. 

I like that personal touch to a game. Whether it’s enhancing the experience of playing by using upgraded components, or that little surprise when playing with others and they come across that promo. “Oh wow is that Stan Lee as a bystander?” I like that when playing Marvel Legendary. 

The games mine, it’s different from others. It’s ‘unique’ to me! It’s me!

Not well argued, or even an in depth look at the human psyche, but I hope this shallow look at why we pimp games has got you thinking.

Planning 2017 Purchases Already!

Over on BGG they are having yearly nominations for “Most Anticipated game of 2017”. Yep folks are already looking ahead to next year.

So from the nominees what has caught my attention for next year? Well here is a list in no particular order:

  • Super Dungeon Explore: Legends – a campaign and role playing expansion! I’m in. So I will have to get Forgotten King to the table first, but I do like this style game.
  • The 7th Continent – I backed this on Kickstarter last year. They did let us know that it would not make the deadline given in the campaign early on. Which I can live with. It’s a huge, massive undertaking. But I am looking forward to this choose your own adventure style game when it finally comes out. I’m predicting the later half of 2017 for this.
  • Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep – Another expansion for a game I should be playing more often.
  • This War of Mine The Board Game – could this be the game I regret I didn’t back on Kickstarter for 2017? Scythe was that game for 2016.
  • T.I.M.E. Stories Expansions – I’m not going to list them all here. But after having played the initial scenario Asylum, I’m excited for these big time.
  • Android Netrunner – I love the data packs in the cycles when they get released. But the new deluxe expansion Terminal Directive with it’s legacy aspect and campaign mode. I’m excited to see how this plays, and the ew direction it takes things.
  • Imperial Assault expansions – yes I need to play this great game more, you know I’ll be getting these when they hit the stores. Addictive isn’t the word.
  • King of Tokyo: Monster Pack – Cthulhu – I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner really. It’s a must. I just need that King of New York Power Up expansion now, never did see that come out.
  • Pandemic Legacy Season 2 – really? I need to explain this one? come on?
  • Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star – I don’t even own the base game at the moment! But when this hits, I get the base game at the same time. It’s a game I really really want to play, and when the KS was run an easy way to get the base game (that was between printings at the time) and the expansion.
  • Cry Havoc: Aftermath – Look I like the base game. More stuff for it? DuH!
  • Neuroshima Hex – Another army for the game? Yes please.
  • Colt Express: Indians and Calvary – I’m assuming this just adds more to this already chaotic game.
  • Nations the Dice game expansion – no details about this at the moment, but the game is a nice game, so very interested in an expansion for it.

So thats just some of the games and expansions that have caught my eye for 2017. I think some won’t be a surprise to you. But one or two I think may have you saying “really?”

What games or expansions coming out in 2017 have you got your eye on?

Butt kicking

Life, don’t talk to me about life.” Marvin the paranoid robot, HHGTTG

It seems this last week has seen life outside of board gaming come crashing in on the little bubble of alternate reality we call gaming.

For one reason or another game sessions have been cancelled (and rescheduled at a future point in the space time continuum) or gone ahead with different games hitting the table.

Last night was one of the latter.

Gavin and I met up at The White Lion to play some two player games instead of our intended game, because life indeed had thrown a curve ball or two at two of our gaming companions.


Our first game of the evening The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction. Gavin hadn’t played this before and had wanted to try it. Looking at my stats apparently I’ve played twelve games of Chain Reaction. With a 50% win rate, and an average score of 9.83 points. For a two player game of this I have the current high score of 13 points, and also the highest losing score of 10.5. And after last night I also have the honour of the highest losing score as well!

I did trigger the end of the game by scoring 10 points last night, with Gavin sitting on 9 points and two uranium. So it would have been a draw (uranium in the end scoring are worth half a point each), unless he was able to score another bomb or as I pointed out more importantly score a load bomb card for 2 points. Which Gavin was able to do with his last five cards of the game. Nabbing him the win with 12 points, to my new highest losing total of 10 points.

Gavin liked the Chain Reaction, he was already a fan of the big brother board game. I did advise Gavin to try and find a copy of the deluxe game before committing to buying the regular version. But that may be a mission impossible. I watch two very active UK based trading and selling pages for board games on Facebook. I’ve got some bargains off them. However since Chain Reaction was sent out to Kickstarter backers, and also the regular version hitting the shops, I don’t think I have once seen a copy up for trade or sale. Thats pretty unusual, and I think a testament to how good the game is. Unless hardly anyone in the UK backed the project that is.

For our next game we played a new game for me, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. A lighter two player version of the bigger Agricola. Well Gavin hadn’t actually played the physical version before, but had been playing the app version a lot. After playing this I may have to get the app, the physical version is I gather from Gavin “between printings”, and rather elusive to get hold of.

I did enjoy playing this version a lot. Despite once more losing. I think that this is something I could play with Nath. It would most definitely fit on the very small table he has in his room at halls.

This for me was a much better game than the full game. But that could just be down to poor experience I had when being taught it. But that previous knowledge did give me something to work with here.

Ok I think I have just talked myself into trying to get the physical version of this.

Our final game of the evening was 7 Wonders Duel with the new Pantheon expansion.

Wow! I like what this expansion brings to the game. The new decisions it adds, the new tactics, wow. I’ll look a bit more in depth at this expansion in another post (if I remember).

I thought due to my inability to count won the game on the very last card of the third age with a science victory. But I had miscount my science cards, I was short by one symbol to get the win. Doh!

What we did have was an incredibly close game in the end. I thought Gavin had run away with the victory. He thought I had!

But once the dust had settled after all the points had been collected and totalled up, Gavin had won by a single point. 71 points to 70.

Yep I hadn’t won a single game the whole evening, but still I had had a blast.

For my gaming buddies who are dealing with the harshness of the sticks and stones that life throws at you, I’m sure I speak for everyone you play games with, our thoughts and prayers are with you and hope you can make it back to the table soon.

We’ll keep your seat warm for you, although we can’t guarantee we won’t look at your cards or take your go for you.

A Sinful Post

Despite hating CMoN I have to admit the minis in The Others are really really cool.

Since my copy of The Others arrived I’ve been putting a photo of one of the sins up on Instagram each day.

One comment I got was “Paint them!”

Which I should do. In fact I should finish off the storm troopers first. 

I have a crap load of minis to paint if you take into account the ones in Imperial Assault, Zombicide, Cry Havoc, Run Fight or Die, and also now The Others. 

What’s stopped me? Laziness mainly, mixed in with a bit of lack of confidence.

Maybe I should see if any of the Fenland Gamers are into painting minis, and willing to run a session or two to help boost confidence etc. It would certainly make me do something.