With a crash, the ancient stone block finally gives way and a beam of sunlight illuminates the interior of the crypt. The eyes of the adventurers are drawn to the trinkets and treasures of the past. Even beneath the layer of dust the gold still gleams. Carefully, cautiously, eagerly they enter the 2,000 year long silence of the crypt....
It is F:AT Thursday
There are certain games that develop a reputation for greatness and if those games are rare or difficult to obtain, that reputation can develop into legend.
Take for example, Moongha Invaders by Martin Wallace. Back in 2010 he was commissioned to design a game for an Italian game convention called Play using the monster figures they were using to promote the show. One would expect that such a rushed, design on demand, product would be only so-so at best and with only 650 copies in existence, that it would be quickly forgotten. This was not to be. The game was good. Very good. People began to talk about it. Others began to talk about what the others had said. Soon the game had gone from good to great. People without copies felt left out. All this fun was being had with a great game that they could not acquire. Demand soared but the supply remained finite. And so Moongha Invaders become a member of that exulted class of games called "Grail Games".
Uba and Al have been gamers for a long time. A LONG time. Over the course of years they have developed a network of connections in the gaming world and this allows them to do things others can not. For example, get a copy of Moongha. It was this game, then, that was played on Thursday.
Moongha is not the Wallace of Age of Steam but rather the Wallace of Struggle of Empires and thankfully so. There isn't a lot of heavy math in Moongha, though there is some, and one early mistake will not leave you languishing for hours. There isn't a lot of subtle smirk-inducing move optimization but there is a lot of direct and up-front screwage.
In the game, you are a mad scientist intent upon razing the great cities of Earth. To do this, you are creating horrible monsters in your lab and then unleashing them upon the world. The monsters move from city to city fighting the armies of men, other monsters and raining destruction down upon the cities as well.
There is a pool of action tokens of different colors that varies in number each game round. You take your turn by taking an token and performing the action associated with it (moving, attacking, placing an army, growing a monster) or in most cases you can save them up so when you have multiple tokens your action becomes more powerful (more dice in combat, creating a stronger monster). When you attack a city you put down some damage cubes to show how much of that city was destroyed by your creatures.
The end game is scored by who has the most cubes in any given city, so in a sense it is an area control game but with lots of conflict and dice. You also can get points by killing other monsters or seeding cities with vampires. You are also assigned two cities at the beginning of the game which are kept secret from the other players. If you manage to protect them so that they suffer minimal damage you get bonus points.
The game IS good. It's fun, quick, and easy to learn. It has sufficient depth and several viable strategies for victory. The production quality is fine for what it is...a quick game made as a prize for a convention...but is nothing to wet your pants over.
Does it deserve it's legendary status? Is your life lessened because you never got to play it? I don't think so. I do like it but no more or less than many other games and there are others of a similar feel that I like better. Nexus Ops for example.
It was Al who was victorious though Uba was a close second. I love humanity too much to bring down death and fire on the magnitude needed for victory. So, while I may not have won, I consider myself the better person. Yep, that's what I tell myself.
Next we played Boss Monster. A game where you are....wait for it....the Boss Monster of an 8-bit dungeon. You play cards to set create rooms in the hopes of luring heroes into your death traps and killing them off for points. If they make it through the gauntlet, they hit you and do damage. Too much damage and you are defeated.
It's cute. The nostalgia evoked by the art is cool. I also think it has a bit more going for it than at first appears. The interactions of the cards and the strategies of how and when to sock it to your friends don't just jump out at you at first.
I've said before that gaming with such awesome people is a dual edged sword. Between us, our collections contain a lot of the best games produced. So many, that no matter what we play, something great is being neglected. So-so games don't stand much of a chance in that climate. Boss Monster is just that...Okay. It isn't bad but it isn't good enough to see repeated plays.
Engineer Al is a terrible influence on me. Before I started hanging out with Al, I would never have worn a tie-dyed shirt. Never. But there I was at WBC and what shirt did I have on? Yep, the army green tie-dye. (Thankfully I haven't been reduced to wearing clothes with peace signs on them yet). The other day, I was towing an unregistered car for the police and I actually cut the owner a break on the tow bill....me...cut her a break! What the fuck is up with random acts of kindness and compassion? That is totally against my nature.
So it was that under this baleful miasma of peace, love, and understanding, I allowed Al to take me out into the woods and try my hand at the game called Disc Golf or Frisbee Golf as I would have called it in my uninitiated state. This pinnacle of doper athleticism I had always sort of scoffed at. An excuse for stoners to get baked and stumble around hugging trees.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered how much fun it is! Even being a sweaty fat man with no desire to ever hike, not having thrown a frisbee..erm..disc in over 20 years, and in no way knowing what I was doing, I really really liked it. So much so that I have since gone out and bought my own set of discs, a cheap starter set but a good place to start.
The added bonus is that one of the best courses in New England located at Wickham Park is but 1/10th of a mile from my tow garage. A gorgeous place that was once the grounds of a mansion once owned by a local family that had made it's fortune in the paper industry. I had taken this park for granted for many years but have just now rediscovered how awesome it is.
I have been practicing and lowered my score from 115 to 110. Someday I will be able to break double par! Woohoo!
(This is the view from the 7th hole)