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Re: What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing?

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09 Oct 2019 09:22 #302294 by charlest
We finally had a "Mark Thomas", which is what I'm calling a three hour game of Lords of Hellas. I don't recall it ever going past 2 hours in my previous 10 or so plays, and usually we're closer to 90 minutes. This one included the Hades monument expansion and it was a bit wild.

One player in the South came close to a temple victory, but we conspired to shut it down. Another player tried to go for a hunt victory and would have likely sprung out to an insurmountable lead except he failed to inflict the final wound on Medusa (this would have been his second monster kill). Zeus lightning bolted her next turn so he let it slip away.

I was piddling around getting thrashed early and losing my warrior of Hades, which put me in a bad spot. After more back and forth, I ended up pushing Hermes to completion and starting the end game. It was a small chance I'd be able to hold it, but it felt like my only move. Unfortunately, another player secured a temple victory (right after stopping yet another from almost doing the same).

Great game and Hades was much better than Poseidon. The winner also had won his third game which meant we got to open the secret envelope thing. Pretty neat and we'll be using what was inside.

We also played Mental Blocks, which is a funky spatial puzzle of cooperatively stacking blocks in a certain pattern. Each player has a card with a unique perspective of the structure, and you need to piece together everyone's view to figure out how it should be built. There's a 10 minute timer running and at higher player counts you can even have a traitor. Oh, and certain cards dictate limitations - such as you can only touch triangles or large blocks. In our final of three plays I couldn't talk which meant I did a lot of pointing and such.

We really liked this one as it's very unique (La Boca is the only thing I can think of even in the same ballpark and it's not really that similar), and it supports a really wide range of players. It's something that I think would excel with younger gamers or a lighter crowd. Unfortunately we found it too easy.

We crushed each puzzle, even the hardest difficulty 6 star one with four minutes left on the timer. There are these glitch cards which put universal restrictions on play, and we will likely try them next time. Stuff like no one can talk or swap all blue colors with white (requiring you to mentally remember this throughout play).
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09 Oct 2019 10:40 #302298 by barrowdown

Gary Sax wrote: I can live with weather turn to turn changes to rules, but I cannot abide by turn to turn changes to actual men and material rules. It drives me crazy. It fundamentally breaks my internal model of how conflict works. Better design techniques have to exist than arbitrarily changing the rules on how something works or how well a unit functions. I'd rather see a new *system* to account for something like this than just changing turn to turn rules.


Is it a Ted Raicer thing? Paths of Glory is not turn by turn, but it does have a large amount of exceptions to get it to function. Like The Dark Valley, PoG also has a very solid core set of rules that has tons of exceptions. So many that they need to be called out in a two page section of the rulebook (which is nuts when you consider the actual rules are only 14-15 pages). TDV Deluxe Edition (which I have) has a player aid that summarizes the turn by turn changes but in an overlapping manner that you have to read the whole thing everytime to figure out what is currently happening (turns 1-7: Y happens, tuns 2-4: X happens).

I have The Dark Sands and even with my complaints about TDV, I am still excited to try it because the core system is really good. I have not read the rulebook straight through, but my initial skim indicates that it has less exceptions than TDV.
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09 Oct 2019 14:56 - 09 Oct 2019 14:57 #302306 by Gary Sax
PoG has the different stages of the war you race to go up which changes the sides capabilities (cards, iirc some unit rules), but that's at least systematized so I don't mind it quite so much... though I don't think the system works very well since you're incentivized to pretty much always push to total war asap.

My beef is with "this unit stops being good in turn 3" or "this unit is weak as hell until it arbitrarily gets stronger in turn 8" or whatever.
Last edit: 09 Oct 2019 14:57 by Gary Sax.
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09 Oct 2019 17:44 #302316 by hotseatgames

charlest wrote: a temple victory


Can you expand on exactly how someone pulled this off? Was it some surprise final move in which they went from 3 temples to 5?

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09 Oct 2019 19:01 #302319 by barrowdown

Gary Sax wrote: PoG has the different stages of the war you race to go up which changes the sides capabilities (cards, iirc some unit rules), but that's at least systematized so I don't mind it quite so much... though I don't think the system works very well since you're incentivized to pretty much always push to total war asap.

My beef is with "this unit stops being good in turn 3" or "this unit is weak as hell until it arbitrarily gets stronger in turn 8" or whatever.


Oh yeah, I was completely discounting the card-related stuff because that is its own system as you said. That part makes sense as special rules are controlled by the card play. I just meant PoG as an example of another Raicer design that prominently features exceptions (again ignoring the card stuff).

Example TDV exception:
17.1.2: All OOS German Mechanized units have their MPs reduced to 5 rather than 3 on Turn 2, and treat IS as OOS
during Turns 2-4.

Also from 17.1.2:
During 1941 only, provided the 1st Panzer Army HQ is south of hexrow xx27, Axis/German units in the Crimea (defined as south of Perekop and east of the Kerch Straits) are activated identically with the 1st Panzer Chit (Move/Fight or Fight/Move). Such units may not move or attack outside the Crimea.
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10 Oct 2019 08:30 #302325 by charlest

hotseatgames wrote:

charlest wrote: a temple victory


Can you expand on exactly how someone pulled this off? Was it some surprise final move in which they went from 3 temples to 5?


It was. We built them pretty aggressively this game. Once you get Hermes up a couple of levels, praying at him allows you to move an army 2 or 3 spaces. If you combine that with a decent leadership, and a march, you can theoretically take 3 areas in a single round. The person took two in this game to win. Another person was trying to do this and came close.

I believe a temple victory is more likely the longer the game goes on. Usually we see monster hunting or controlling two lands victories in our plays, with monuments coming in third.
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10 Oct 2019 11:44 #302329 by Gary Sax

barrowdown wrote:
Example TDV exception:
17.1.2: All OOS German Mechanized units have their MPs reduced to 5 rather than 3 on Turn 2, and treat IS as OOS
during Turns 2-4.

Also from 17.1.2:
During 1941 only, provided the 1st Panzer Army HQ is south of hexrow xx27, Axis/German units in the Crimea (defined as south of Perekop and east of the Kerch Straits) are activated identically with the 1st Panzer Chit (Move/Fight or Fight/Move). Such units may not move or attack outside the Crimea.


UGH UGH UGH

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10 Oct 2019 12:47 - 10 Oct 2019 13:12 #302331 by Ah_Pook
I've been learning Cataclysm: A Second World War lately and even though it's a very streamlined ruleset for that kind of thing it's already a lot, as a relative wargaming noob. Reading that list of exceptions just makes me shudder.
Last edit: 10 Oct 2019 13:12 by Ah_Pook.
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10 Oct 2019 15:50 #302340 by Msample

barrowdown wrote: I have The Dark Sands and even with my complaints about TDV, I am still excited to try it because the core system is really good. I have not read the rulebook straight through, but my initial skim indicates that it has less exceptions than TDV.


Er, I don't know if I'd agree with that. There is a fair amount of special rules to cover German tactical superiority . The biggie though; and the one that drove me nuts , was the fact that the the middle map section has a different ground scale . This means different movement costs as well as stacking limits and combat limits. While not the turn based exception load that TDV has, these come into play a lot more. As was pointed out elsewhere, the deluxe edition of TDV has player aid cards that make remembering the turn based stuff a lot easier. I like TDV more than Dark Sands; among Barbarossa games it is more unforgiving to the Germans and forces them to take a lot of risks.

Ted tends to inject a lot more Design for Effect stuff in his games, hence the exceptions. He has games on Normandy ( GMT ) and the Bulge ( Revolution ) in the pipeline.
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11 Oct 2019 12:01 #302373 by mezike
At home:

Plenty more misery and suffering as we continued with This War of Mine. We were doing well with two Hatchets and an abundance of items in storage so started to get a bit cocky, staying too long on our evening scavenging and making too much noise. A bunch of armed thugs found us and we did the noble thing by running away as quickly as we could – fortunately we had Pavle with us and managed to get away with just a little scratch. The narrative action cards were kind to us and we drew one that allowed us to instantly fix a broken Assault Rifle that we had found; along with another card that disposes a night raid without effect and a fully boarded up house we had little to fear and cruised through our end of chapter objectives.

The game became one of exploring the story, looking for interesting events rather than playing for survival. A famine struck the town which discarded tokens out of the game but we had fortunately cleared all the vegetables out of the resource pile so weren’t badly affected by it. Illness took hold and ran through the house and despite stabilising the worst of it Emilia, who was already sick and miserable, became the punchbag for suffering the worst of all our problems; it’s a touch too gamey when you are able to pick a recipient for ill-fortune so I think in future I’m going to instigate a random dice roll selection in order to spread negative effects out a bit to make it more interesting.

In need of meds and bandages we braved an encounter at a military base where we could freely trade for everything we needed and were able to dump the big stack of items we had found in order to get just what we needed to keep everyone healthy as we went into the endgame. As we still had some time left to explore I gave my lad the lead on how long he wanted to risk sticking around, continually reminding him about how dangerous a location this would be. His first search led to the discovery of an assault rifle with a full clip of ammunition which was an incredible find; I suggested it might be a good time to get away, however his confidence was emboldened by the riches on offer and he recklessly continued to poke about for more. The inevitable happened and a group of soldiers discovered us – they stole everything and beat poor Marko very badly. Having lost the bandages and meds that we had earlier bought in the trade we were facing our first really dire challenge in the house.

Emilia became so sick and miserable that she decided to leave and the lack of bandages left Marko near to death. Somehow we manage to scrape through the darkest period with Pavle trading away almost everything we had left to save his dear friend and poor Anton crying tears as he shovelled his beloved book collection into the fire so that everyone could huddle around the warmth to keep their illness from getting worse. We were ultimately blessed with an early ceasefire and focussed on ensuring that we dealt with the worst calamities and getting everybody’s morale up; hunger was no longer a concern so we traded away our remaining food that was in high demand due to the ongoing famine. It was enough to carry us through – ‘winning’ the game is however irrelevant, the stories we told and the discussion we had along the way were far more valuable. Definitely going to play this some more.

Scenario three of Club Stories – a tough assignment as the financial misdealings at the club have been exposed resulting in heavy fines, docking of league points, and a mass exodus of players and staff. I am also in a higher league now and facing some much tougher opposition so another struggle for survival is looming. I have no money and only two of my outstanding team that gained promotion remain, a striker and a midfielder. My leaky defence and inability to acquire someone to fill the gap dooms me to dropping points in the first few games so I focus instead on raising funds and trying to bring in a good backroom team. The only people who seem to want to work with us are coaches but needs must and I end up in an unusual position of eventually having five different coaches of different stripe. One of them has an ability to improve the skills of the others so they end up being extremely talented and I wonder what on earth they are all doing at this dodgy sinking ship of ours.

Matchdays are proving so tough that I really need a scout to give me some helpful notes on our opponents and I finally get the chance mid-game just as the money is improving and new signings begin in earnest. Our fortunes on the pitch pick up as we are able to mastermind some probably undeserved close victories and having so many coaches at the club allows me to easily and cheaply switch my tactics and upskill my players to punch above our weight. The game however is determined to kick me around and a series of scandals results in disgruntled fans and empty seats in the stadium; cashflow, which has always been tight, threatens to drag us down and at one point we are docked further league points for what I will refer to as ‘financial irregularities’ which can be taken as a euphemism for skirting with bankruptcy. Despite our best efforts we drop too many points in agonisingly avoidable circumstances and end up in the relegation zone. I’ve done a lot of good things at the club this season but not enough to stay with the team for another year.


At the club:

Got to try the Hellapagos expansion and, spoiler alert, I simply don’t like it because of how it impacts the group dynamics. The base game is a complete free-for-all with alliances popping and dropping according to any number of whims, whereas the expansion puts you on rails by giving definitive reasons to split the group or single out individuals. There are people who become above reproach simply because of their role card and you pinpoint your enemies far more specifically because the game mechanisms are pushing you into conflict against certain other players rather than allowing you the freedom to make those decisions yourselves. The voting stage lacks tension because you already know which sides everyone is on. The new items only serve to dilute the deck, the events can sometimes be interesting but are largely a distraction.

In our game one player was a bodyguard which meant that they would take a bullet for either of their neighbours. It sounds quirky but the impact is disastrous because it creates a power triumvirate who are now incentivised to work together. As soon as one of the neighbouring players very publicly handed the bodyguard some armour we knew that they would be occupying three spaces on the raft and it would be up to the rest of us to figure out how many and who would be able to joint them. Another player didn’t need to eat food – although this was helpful in reducing the amount of fish that we needed to acquire it also meant that they were invulnerable in the voting phase so long as they had something to drink. Put them under the wing of the bodyguard and it totally wrecks the game. This is the point where fun ideas become impractical in actual usage.
A pointless expansion for a game that didn’t need one.

Dodged current hotness Tapestry which seemed to piss off everybody who tried it – looks pretty and plays dull was the consensus. It won’t be coming back so I’ll never know first hand.

Two more cases from the files of Detective: LA, one of which we tried with two players working co-op against the Chisel. We really enjoyed it this way as it resulted in some really active and interesting discussion on where we thought the story was going and what the backstory might be, something which you don’t get in competitive mode as you are keeping knowledge secret so only internalising the story. It does feel like less of a game though and there is an odd thing that happens where you find yourself encountering several different elements that all point you to the same place – this makes sense in the competitive game but feels oddly repetitive in co-op. On the other hand there is an even weirder thing that happens in the competitive game where you can find out some information by proxy through snooping on your rivals so you figure some things out without understanding or appreciating their relevance. I think that with three players I would prefer to play two detectives co-operating and to play competitive with more. I’m dithering over whether or not to late pledge on the latest KS as I think my kids would really enjoy playing this against me, however it is so pricey I’m struggling to justify the cost.
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11 Oct 2019 12:11 #302376 by hotseatgames
Sounds like the Hellapagos expansion is a no-go. Thanks for saving me some money! :)

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11 Oct 2019 13:14 - 11 Oct 2019 17:07 #302384 by Frohike
I can see what Plaid Hat’s latest WP Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein was going for, but I suspect that it needed some editing. The round-by-round decay & devaluation of your resources (blood, muscle, organs) is clever & thematic, & helps reduce point-scoring plans to the next few turns, with a trip to the market to give you a couple more turns if you need them (by buying ice). It certainly makes it feel like a race, and thematically it works: constantly scrambling for the next corpse & freshest parts before the other player.

But in running these 2/3-turn sprints for points, you also run a few side-games that slow things down: adjust the 3 dials (Humanity, Reputation, Expertise) which bump one another's stats up & down and gate entry to certain action spots, picking up cards which give bonuses and allow some take-that play and are... dual purpose since they can also be used to mitigate dice rolls. While this leads to more decisions, it also causes a sort of... ambient RNG soup where actions will unexpectedly become locked away, players will derail you, etc. To make things worse, the bonuses/penalties on the dials trigger in both directions, guaranteeing nearly constant fluctuations. This causes the gears to grind & slow a bit.

The end-game triggering mechanism is also an aspect that I think can lead to the game mostly ending through the default turn limit set by the timer (Captain arriving in port after 12 rounds, which I think can take a couple of hours). Reviving a corpse relies on the sprints above combined with "throwing the switch:" spending another resource (charged Leyden jars) to roll some dice and hope for "life" icons. The cards you collect during your point-sprints double as mitigation for these dice, but I think the nature of the point race leads less experienced players to burn these cards for their immediate bonuses and as a way to abate the constant fluctuation of those infernal player dials. This leads to players chucking dice, hoping for the best, pushing luck... and frying their body parts & not triggering end-game.

So I think it needed to have been trimmed a bit, perhaps reducing the dials to fewer gradients and making the end-game less swingy. I'm curious to see what the shorter play time variants produce, but in the meantime it really is a solid, enjoyable medium-heavy WP game with a very evocative fidelity to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, both in its setting and in the decisions it forces the player to make between achieving goals and sacrificing their "humanity" gauge.

In fact, I think the theme & setting that suffuse so much of the design actually compensate for the 2-3 hours that can be spent there, as long as people are into it. And honestly, with a theme such as this one, you need to be into it or just switch to playing something with a setting that keeps players engaged. I should also mention that the encounter cards are a great, and to my mind uncharacteristic, piece of narrative that emerges during beginning-of-round events and are a really cool thematic element: the "monster's" oftentimes ruthless judgement of a player's progress (and the corresponding rewards/punishments that ensue). It's a nice touch that adds an extra element of investment into the fiction of the game & ties it to player performance.
Last edit: 11 Oct 2019 17:07 by Frohike.
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11 Oct 2019 13:23 #302387 by Jackwraith

hotseatgames wrote: Sounds like the Hellapagos expansion is a no-go. Thanks for saving me some money! :)


Likewise; thanks, mezike. Some games are good just as they are. Adding more chrome doesn't help and, in fact, often hurts.

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11 Oct 2019 14:34 #302390 by the_jake_1973
Playing Techno Bowl here at work during lunchtime. My buddy and I are internalizing the rules pretty well now and a half takes about 45 min without time limits on play calling and formations. No skills being used just yet. Probably next game.

We are going into OT tied at 14. I'm the Falchions and he is the Chefs. He starts OT with the ball. Love this game.
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11 Oct 2019 16:40 #302395 by mezike
Oh, how I wish I could be playing Technobowl. It’s not even on the shelf any longer because I can’t find any willing opponents. Such a brilliant game.
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