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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing?
Only two complaints: it’s hard to suggest as someone’s first or even second campaign as the new investigators’ deck-building requirements really require a larger card pool. Second, the narrative tissue between scenarios isn’t always great. You’re teleported into the woods of the first scenario after having a tarot reading, and you later decide that the best way to learn more about witches is to visit the cemetery where they’re buried.
I was Mutants Union in the first game and had the awesome opening hand of 2 x Construction Machinery (Gray token production, both Open) and Sharrash (Universal token production, Open.) All of those are 1 Distance cards, which meant I was swimming in tokens and workers (from people taking advantage of the Opens) quite early, which led to a pretty rapidly-constructed tableau, so that I wasn't in need of slowing anyone else down through razing and just dumped cards from my own hand to get the quick resource boost. What helped me was New York and the Merchant's Guild getting into a catfight while Appalachia was still struggling to use their Brick advantage. I won pretty handily.
In the next group, I played New York and was confronted once again with their middle-of-the-road status. Appalachia does development. Mutants do razing. Merchants do deals. New York doesn't really do anything well unless they happen to draw into Gear cards. I didn't have a ready supply of those and by the time I got a steady Brick economy/development cycle going, the Merchants were way out ahead and kind of coasted to victory on the strength of a Fuel for blue token engine and 3 or 4 VP deals. They were ripe targets for razing, but the Mutants didn't catch on and I couldn't generate Guns or red tokens at all because I was New York and New York doesn't do anything well.
In both games, we just played the base deck so they could get a feel for it. I told them next time I'll add in one of the expansion decks (I have all of them) and drop in Hegemony and Texas as options, too.
The biggest change for me aside from double spice and advanced combat was leaders may only be revived once all of your leaders are in the tanks. As the rounds advanced most factions had between 2-3 leaders in the tanks and the odds of a traitor steadily increased. The Fremen clearly are buffed with advance combat, and now the Emperor can use their spice to pay for 3 additional ally troop revivals. That combo was devastating. Fremen roamed the board at will backed by the Emperor's spice and destroyed stacks of Atriedes and Guild. Harkonen were absolutely terrifying as losing an additional leader in a fight is brutal now with the changes to leader revival. During Nexus rounds the BG weren't the Cinderella that they used to be; instead everyone wanted either the Fremen or Emperor or Harkonen as their allies. Atriedes, who I played, didn't change at all and felt a bit weaker now with the buffs to Harkonen and Fremen as the aggressive factions.
The Guild feel very unfun now. In prior games Guild took 2 out of 5 due to their default win condition at turn 10. Now the rules clarify that allies can subsidize both treachery buys and shipping, and no other changes for the Guild. I totally agree that the default win condition using WBC rules was too easy and only stalls the game. But still the Guild is the one faction that everyone agreed they didn't want to play as next time.
Our game ended prematurely as the one new player miscalculated his fight. Fremen moved in with a stack of 8 strength against maybe 15 Emperor tokens. Somehow the Emperor only dialed like 5 on his dial despite having enough spice to guarantee a win, even with a dead leader. It would've cost him almost everything but that was the fight; not even the Fremen expected to win, they only were aiming for attrition and murdering a leader.
Here is a picture of round 4 after resolving something like 5 battles in total. The table may have gone a bit too hard early in the game, but it was awesome.
We kept building the Zeus monument, which was in son #1's red land, so it was clear that this was going to be a key determinant in the end of the game. I had moved troops north into the yellow land to stop his victory by controlling two lands. I was not in any shape to claim a victory by any condition; my sole purpose in the game was prolonging a victory from anyone else.
Zeus got built and the 3 round timer started. I was the only one who could even hope to fight over the contest region, but my hand of combat cards was weak as hell and I was out-manned. Son #1 was going to win on his next turn and he was chomping at the bit, crowing about his impending victory.
Son #2 starts fighting with me in various regions. I didn't want to lose my two precious combat cards so I kept just accepting defeat. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that he had 4 leadership and was actually able to start enough fights to win the game by controlling two lands. Son #1 literally stomped out of the room.
Yeah, this game is fucking great.
End game state:
We played the first scenario from Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases. We scored 130 points before the point loss for leads, missing only one bonus question. Our ending score was 80 points. Looking back, if we had not wasted a few leads we probably would have ended at 95 points. We needed the other leads so that was probably the highest score we likely would have achieved. Hopefully we will do better on future cases now that we know the game structure.
Mostly though, the little one was pissed off we didn't play Battleball -- which he is obsessed with.
Then yesterday I went to my brother's, and ended up in a 4-player game of Star Trek: Ascendancy, played with ST:TNG* in the background. I had Cardassians. I played that one like crap, but the Cardassians were fun. The Romulans won with an Ascendancy victory. I think we're going to have to do that, "Everyone go simultaneously until we meet," rule, because that game was close to five hours long.
*I gotta say, I'm not a ST:TNG fan.
This is one of my current favorite DoaMs and I'm not even a hardcore Star Trek fan.
Space Ghost wrote: We played some The Real Ghostbusters Game, Key to the Kingdom, and Dark World. The 5 year old loves the Ghostbusters game -- particularly dropping the skull down the stairs. The 7 year old thought Key to the Kingdom was great. Both liked shaking the turn-order stick in Dark World.
Mostly though, the little one was pissed off we didn't play Battleball -- which he is obsessed with.
DID SOMEONE SAY BATTLEBALL
There are exactly two boxed games from my childhood that I actually have. Battleball is one, and I'm so glad I do. Such a great time. I need to play it again.
This is represented by a track on each enemy card. Thematically there's this weird juxtaposition of speed rolling with a very slow narrative. Like, I'll spend multiple rounds just jockeying for position while surrounded by six enemy fighters trying to take me down.
The game comes with a novella which conceptually I dug, and it did invest me more in the experience, but the novel closes with the gladiator fight you then re-enact and the pacing and story don't really match up. It's awkward and feels forced.
I dig the speed aspect as a timer on their official app forces quick decisions, but the gameplay wore thin pretty quickly. It's a ton of parsing results and separating dice, quickly looking at the small board and enemy numbers, then deciding whether you need to re-roll certain sets or not. Over and over and over again.
The game has a number of modules such as Chariots and a Dragon die (because a small dragon comes to help you), which do add a bit of mechanical life to the game, but they also get tiresome as the core engine just isn't anything special.
I've also been playing a bit of Combat Commander: Europe and am totally loving it. The way this game just excretes story is wonderful, mostly due to the events and triggers on the card checks.
The first two scenarios were excellent. In scenario one (Fat Lipki) I thought the Russians had it after assaulting the key farmhouse at the center of the map. The squad accompanied by a leader faced withering combined fire and a massive charge which undid their position. Meanwhile another cluster of Ruskies tried to flank the killzone from the woods, but a maniacal German unit held them back. This German squad was suppressed but hanging on, and after recovering, counter-assaulted with some highly risky charges. They managed to wipe out one of the Russian squads before attacking another and finding mutual destruction. This sealed the Soviet's fate as they broke from morale loss and the Wehrmacht won.
Second scenario was even more interesting. Tons of bocage with a large American force pushing across the map length-wise. Germans could deploy pretty much anywhere, so they decided to make an initial stand in a cluster of houses near some key objectives at the heart of geography. A second group of squads with a light MG held the northern part of the map, attempting to harass and slow the Allied flanking advance. Finally, a Volksstrum unit, MG, and Leader held a single objective in the southern section. This was a hidden objective for the Germans and worth a point, it also providing a firing lane into the one road on the map which wound past the house.
So I rushed forward with the Americans, attempting to sack the little village cluster early. I used mortar fire and my medium MG (.30-Cal) to wail on the German troops, the bocage allowing me to get close enough without being subject to opportunity fire. They withered quickly and I pushed them back. The German player fell back rapidly as he was defending and time was on his side. He didn't want to risk unnecessary losses and was instead planning for the long game.
Unfortunately for him, I opened up with my 105mm howitzer support once I secured those houses, blasting the hell out of a key position he retreated to. The airburst effect in the trees crippled a key squad of his and broke his leader. I hit them a few turns in a row and advanced slowly under the fire support.
Meanwhile, it wasn't going well for him on that Northern group and I had almost flanked them from that middle section. We were trading shots with my smaller force but one of his units was broken due to artillery wandering off target and landing fortuitously. A sniper also managed a lucky shot which broke his leader (pinned him).
The South, however, was all him. I advanced on that solitary house near the road with a single squad and a Hero that emerged during the thick of battle (events were really swinging my way as you can tell). I thought I would be able to move to a small series of hedges that butted up against the house and then charge. I had a distinct firepower advantage due to my hero, and I thought a melee assault would be my best option instead of sitting at close range and trading shots with an MG-42. He, however, decided to OpFire me as I setup my charge, hitting me hard and breaking my rifle squad. I would later rally them, but they were broken again and then taken out. I had shifted most of my focus to the North at this point and wasn't expending the actions in the South to fully win this one. He then charged my Hero and sunk the bayonet into his flesh.
Nevertheless, it was too late. The Northern German units were being pushed back, now getting hit with artillery from my middle core that was slowly advancing with little resistance. The Germans lost shortly thereafter as they had lost too many units and surrendered.
Last night we had a full session (my first legit game night since Gen Con). Played the following:
Sovereign's Chain - Still really digging this. It's not quite as good as Fantasy Realms in my opinion, but it's kind of a different thing and it's still very excellent.
The Menace Among Us - This is a BSG-lite type of game (in the same grouping as Dark Moon, Homeland, etc.) and I will say that it's not best with four. I saw a ton of potential here and did enjoy our play, but it really wanted more people (likely 6+) so that the bad guy could have more breathing room. The resolution each round would have been more interesting as well.
I think this could have a shot at sticking around in my collection. I really like the idea of these types of games - more hidden traitor than social deduction - but no single game has really taken that crown for me. There's some neat stuff going on here and it's very quick moving with confrontation and a decent amount of gameplay to discuss in the thick of it. Trying to deduce whether people could be bad and triggering certain powers to harm or help the group. Clever game and I'm eager for more, with a proper complement of players.
QE - first play with this group and it was pretty good. The player that won definitely judged the economy well, which is great to see the game reward. Everyone enjoyed it. The novelty of it isn't as strong as my first couple of plays, and I worry still that long-term it will lose its shine, but right now I'm digging the fascinating psychology at play.
Hako Onna - My second and third play of this one and I think I'm done. We finally were able to get the stacking/noise mechanism to work, but the rest of the game was still lackluster. The pacing simply seems off as you do so little on your turn. There's no tension and it's just sort of dull. Very disappointed as I'm a big believer in Zev, and this looked suitably weird and unique.
Combat Arena - The sequel to Gorechosen is basically Gorechosen. Almost 0 new rules, just a simple division between ranged and melee attacks. I think I'm going to hang on to it because we love Gorechosen so much, and this basically gives us two separate sets of characters to mess around with, but if I had to choose one I'd stick with the OG. The Khorne setting just makes more sense and it feels more unified. It's kind of odd that characters have long range weapons in this one that only fire a couple of spaces. Still, fun gameplay though and I was the first to die from a headshot.
Imperius - It had been awhile since we played this and a player requested it. I'm not sure I've lost at this one yet. Still wonderful in its intricacies and still feels like there's a ton to explore strategically. That sense of randomness is still there at times, but I feel I have enough control to affect some will upon the game and play well.