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Miss Me? Let's Get Back on the Horse, Part I

KB Updated
There Will Be Games

Yeah, you in the back, I heard ya say, "Were you gone?"  Har dee har har.

Suffice it to say that I have been conspicuous in my absence over the past year, writing very sparsely and commenting only slightly more frequently (though I've been here almost guys just don't realize it).  I have very good reasons for that--some personal shit that really I think in terms of site members only Uba knows about --but to be honest, I have been struggling finding a "jumping back on" point for a few months now.

Lotta pressure, you see.  Deep-rooted sense of pride in the site and a metric shit-ton of expectations on myself.  How could I just stroll back in after so long an absence and write some fluff piece that wouldn't cut the mustard?

Thankfully, Uba never gave up on me, and gave me several swift kicks in the ass until I realized that yeah, it was time to just jump back in.  And I'm going to do it with a fluff piece...a series of mini-reviews.  Yeah, in blog form.  Once I shake the ring rust off, I'll be back to front pagin'.  Y'all just hang with me.

So, in no certain order, I'm just going to talk about some games that have found themselves in front of me over the past year, and quick thoughts on them.

The Great Dalmuti

I would be remiss not to start with this one.  You know how people talk about getting one of "their" games in front of family, to save them from the drudgery of some bullshit party game or piss poor mass market game?  Dalmuti has caught on with my extended family in a way I could have never anticipated. 

Yeah, I's only a step or two removed from just a reg'lar ol' card game.  But the thing is, the DEGREE with which they've taken to it is pretty freakin' awesome.  I'm talking full-on trash-talking, hat wearing, merciless taunting of the Greater Peon, even once as the Great Dalmuti I earned a free whiskey shot as a reward.  (Rest assured, gentle readers, when I say "family", there were no kids involved in said whiskey consumption.)

I think this would slot nicely into any collection.  We play it with the scoring rules in the back, 1pt. per person you go out in front of, and keep score over ten rounds.  My fiancee embarassed us all by scoring *65* points over the past weekend, 5 short of the maximum possible.  And no, she didn't start in the Dalmuti seat.  God, I love that woman.

Anyway...I know this game has been around awhile, but if you're like me and hadn't gotten around to it, it's worth a shot.  Damned fine game that maybe made or broken by the group, but lots of potential there for good times for a very, very cheap price.  You know how much into this game my family is?  My aunt--my AUNT--bought three regular decks of cards just to make a Dalmuti deck out of, and I walked in the other day to hear two of my (non-gamer) family members discussing strategy.  BLEW MY FUCKING MIND.  So anyway...go get it.

Summoner Wars

Played this again, and I am more and more impressed with it the more I play it.  I like the hand manipulation, the need to balance card use for creatures and actual summoning power, the clean maneuvering and combat system, and the different ways the two races (Goblins and Dwarves) played.

It has really grown on me, to the point where I'm definitely going to get the Elves/Orcs deck, just to quadruple the potential match-ups.

Haven't figured out how to win with the Goblins, though.  They come out fast and furious, but peter our when a couple of sturdy Dwarf champions show up to whip their sniveling asses.  I finally put the Dwarves ability to blow up walls easier to good use for the first time.  I had failed to see the merit in using up attacks on walls, but between those Dwarven Demoliotion Teams (I know they ain't called that, but that's what they are to me) and the events which dish out 3 points of damage to every opponent wall, I took a crucial summoning spot down on the Goblin front-line and it made a lot of difference.

Another great game.  Affordable price.  Go get it.

Middle-Earth Quest

I talked about this one here and there in the forums, but this was the biggest let-down to me in recent memory.  I love the theme.  I'm one of those few for whom the LOTR theme isn't played out.  And the production on this sucker was GORGEOUS.

But manonman...I never had felt an AT game that made me think of just moving cogs around in a machine more than that one.  Plus, it failed on both of its thematic levels...the "quests" were laughable, over too quickly, and were no more quests.  And as far as the Middle-Earth theme, aside from locations I didn't feel for one second I was doing anything in that Middle Earth realm.  When a game is about currying "favor" from Saruman and Aragorn, something is fucked up.

Part of me wonders if I didn't encounter it when I was in a particularly jaded phase of my life in terms of my hobbies, I might have thought better of it, and admittedly all these impressions came after one solitary play.  But I didn't leave thinking, "I need to formulate some strategies and play that again," I left thinking, "I'm glad I didn't spend $80 on that."


Fucking Laser Chess.  Only abstract I ever need.


I blogged/mini-reviewed this one way back when, and it is one of those that found a semi-permanent place in our gaming rotation.  Yeah, I know, it's Euro-fied, you're competing for VPs...but you do that by rolling dice, killing your opponent's dudes, blowing up his buildings, stealing his VPs directly (HELLS yeah!), all the while trying to use your dice wisely.

I love the game because it starts you out with zero money, no cards in hand after the initial free setup, and already bleeding out VPs.  You have six discs to place cards, and for every one of them you don't have SOMETHING on, you lose a VP.  You only start with ten and you begin your first turn bleeding two of them.  That initial tension is just awesome, and few games put you in that dire of straits from the get-go, forcing you to basically claw your way out of your grave and hope your opponent doesn't crawl out first and start smashing your fingers with his feet.

There is a sequel out, Roma II: Judgment Day...alright, I made that last part up..and apparently there is only one card repeat and the game plays and feels much different with lots of new cards and new abilites.  Plus you can either play each standalone, mix and match the decks, or each of you use one of the sets against each other, drawing from your own deck instead of the communal one.  I need to pick that up, and soon.

Party Games

They're unavoidable, and I've played my share of them, but I don't hate them out of hand.  Hell, I can really dig on a good party game if I'm in the mood.  Problem is so many of them are just quickie cash-ins with half-baked ideas.  Some stand out though, if you give them a chance...and some, in turn, are worth their shitty reputations.

Apples to Apples isn't bad as long as you play it with the properly suggestive (read: immature, laughing at dick and fart jokes.)  For example, there's a card in one of the expansions:  "Cockels and Mussels."  That sucker is TRUMPS, baby.  Balderdash is an old favorite but more than most party games is really, really dependant on the group to make it work.  Ca$h 'n' Gun$ can be surprisingly hit or miss (HAW!), some games everyone is talking smack and getting into shooting each other in the face, other times everyone is just going through the motions, or the money distribution is weird, or whatever.  Still, it's a keeper.

Speaking of games you don't expect to turn out as "party games", I think we've had the most luck with Mall of Horror.  The rules are simple enough, there's room for trash talk and negotiation, room for a decent amount of screwage, and without fail at least once per game, you're going to get an impassioned "FUCK YOU GUYS!" or something similar.  Plus, it's fun to kick some tough guy out of the room to be zombie chow.  "Yea, we maketh an offering to the zombie horde.  Now getteth out and begone, brainless bitches!"

Ouch...think I sprained my typing fingers.  Turns out when you get back on the saddle, better do it slowly lest you chaffe your coin purse.  Alright, we'll pick this back up, and soon, with some thoughts on how some old favorites have fared, and after that, all the stuff my greedy paws have been itching to pick up.

There Will Be Games
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