There was a time before. A time before I thought it would be a good idea to change the brake pads on my car myself. A time before I thought that saving myself a few bucks and reasserting my self reliance would be a good idea. A time before the wrench I was using on the bolt that stubbornly refused to budge slipped off the brake caliper and sent my hand smashing into the concrete floor of the garage. A time before there was pain...a time when it was...
It is Autumn in the vast forest of the North East. Hands down the best season of the year. The trees have begun to turn, pumpkins and apples abound, the days have been warm and the nights chill. It's a wonderful time.
We met again on the Lake of Crystal. It was agreed that this week we would be playing the new hotness, the game that has people talking, the game Engineer Al went out and bought... Risk Battlefield Rogue. A game so new and so hot that it doesn't even have a good picture of the cover in all the wide internet. In fact I went to the Hasbro site to try and find their stock image and couldn't even find the game listed. Fear not though, you faint of heart, I am here to tell you that it is not just rumor and innuendo. The game does exist.
"I'm a big fan of Irkutsk," you say. "Will this game please me?"
Alas, there is no Irkutsk, there is no "Fortress Austropa" there is no opportunity to proclaim the Ukraine to be weak. There are no plastic roman numerals representing armies (or wooden cubes if you want to show me that you are wicked old school). No! None of that.
"Well what's so Risky about this game then?" you ask with a trembling lip and a misty eye.
The answer is: "There is nothing Risky about it!" Damn it's 2013 not 1959! Put down your transistor radio and get with the program, Chief!
Ok, let me qualify, there is almost nothing about this game that is Risk-like. Yes there are territories but they are not named after countries. Yes there is dice based combat where the attacker rolls a maximum of three dice and the defender a maximum of two defense dice. Yes it's a Dudes on a Map game. But that is where the similarities end.
The driver of this game is really cards. Each turn you are allowed to draw a number of cards of three different types based on which resource locations you control and it is these cards that allow you to recruit or attack/defend with bonuses or give you extra movement.
There are four basic unit types which for the most part are identical except if you group a number of the same type together into a squad. For each type of guy you have after the first you get a neat little bonus with that squad. Have two or three recon dudes in your squad, you get to fire further in combat. Have a couple support dudes together and you can deny the use of combat cards to your foe.
There are two other types of units represented, tanks and helicopters, which when coupled with the cards can do lots and lots of damage. The helicopters can be especially deadly.
There is a game timer in the form of the Command Cards (one of the three types) which unlike the other two types does not get reshuffled when they run out. These are the only type of cards that let you recruit new dudes so if they run out it 's only a matter of time before one side or the other runs out of guys.
"Oh, but I used to love those 17 hour games of Risk my brother and I used to play," you whine.
Ahh well. Progress demands sacrifice.
In our game, we played in teams with Josh and I on one side and the Roses on the other. The object was to capture a specific zone in the enemies home tile. We battled back and forth for an hour or more. (Play time my in practice be much shorter but first game and all we played slow). We slogged back and forth but what won the game was Josh sending in a helicopter with a parachutist who dropped into the target zone and achieved victory.
Now, you, as a regular reader of the F:AT Thursday report, know that I seldom if ever win any game I come in contact with and so you would expect me to be all puffed up with pride and talking smack about how we crushed our foes. But even I felt this victory to be a bit cheesy.
I guess that was my big take-away from the game. The composition of the squads, the maneuvering on the board, and the combat between guys seemed cool on the surface but was entirely obviated by the cards and the special abilities they grant. In a game such as this, the cards should enhance the action on the board not be it's master.
Now, Josh and Al really dug it. Proclaiming it to be pure 200 proof, un-cut, direct to the blood stream Ameritrash. More Ameritrash than most of the games we play.
Well, perhaps, but that doesn't make it better than most of the games we play. As I've said before, with our combined collection of games we have SO many awesome games, that for a game to be "just good" (and this game is good) isn't good enough.
Bagels. There was talk of bagels. Certainly a subject worthy of our weekly discussion of weighty and important matters.
Specifically whether what they sell at Dunkin' Donuts is really a bagel at all. I posit that they are just bread masquerading as bagels. An upjumped roll with delusions of grandeur. A bagel from a real bagel shop blows Dunks version out of the water.
So why then do I buy one of these travesties nearly every morning of my life? Convenience. Damnable convenience. I can get one by going through the drive through in under 3 minutes on any given day. If I were to go to "Between Rounds" the local small chain bagel shop, I have to get out of my car, wait in line, then wait for them to toast it up and put the cream cheese on...we're talking 15 minutes before I'm back on the road. That's great for a weekend morning but not a work day.
What does it say that I'm willing to make that kind of sacrifice to save 10 minutes? Is 10 minutes really that important? Of course not. But then during the morning commute, 10 minutes seems like forever!