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18 Apr 2021 19:24 - 18 Apr 2021 20:13 #322274 by san il defanso
Just arrived back in the US, and we're getting over jet lag and isolating. Waiting for me when I arrived was War of the Ring, courtesy of Gary Sax. I got it from him on the assumption that I was a year or two away from playing it with my 11-year-old, though since he's seen the LotR movies I knew he'd dig it eventually. But he was so impressed by all of those plastic dudes on the board that he wanted to learn now, so I set it up for what I assumed would be a partial learning game. Instead he actually understood the game far better than I did on my first try. I know every parent thinks their kid is the smartest one, but I am seriously impressed that he basically understood the game, sat still for a whole four-hour game with his ADHD, and even managed to beat me. I mean, I hadn't played in a decade, and I know I played poorly, but still!

While I'm on the subject, I feel like it's still tempting to underrate War of the Ring. It's a very excessive game in a number of ways. It has too much board, probably goes too long, and has all these corners of the game where not a lot seems likely to happen. (I haven't played much but the Shire seems too dang far away from the action to ever seriously be in danger.)

But the excess is part of the point I think. It's an indulgent game, but it's also a fitting one. It's like the extended edition of the Peter Jackson movies, altogether too much and better for it. I also think it's only right to point out just how good the intersection of the action dice and event cards is. This game does have some really good design at its core. It creates definite asymmetry, and I'm sure that players who are better at optimization than I am , will see the game stuck in a rut. But the dice and cards ensure that it doesn't feel too scripted to me.

Also, while this is a long complex game, a lot of the individual systems don't feel overbaked. I like that there isn't really any unit differentiation, and I think the combat is really intuitive and manageable. Its complexity comes from the range of choices that the players can make, rather than from any single system that is particularly complex. I kept thinking of Star Wars: Rebellion. That game had much to recommend it, but as has been established elsewhere its combat was too much trouble for being something that isn't that central. War of the Ring doesn't make that mistake; it knows that it's basically a dudes-on-a-map game with some really tasty card play and a great action economy.

Anyway, I'm really happy it's back on my shelf, and I'm even happier that my son enjoyed it enough to justify having it around.
Last edit: 18 Apr 2021 20:13 by san il defanso.

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18 Apr 2021 20:20 #322276 by Msample
There are a fair number of kids @ WBC who play WotR, so not surprising your kid got into it. And yes I’ve lost to them too, LOL.

The Shire is rarely threatened, but if the right cards come out, a Shadow player can bag that and maybe Grey Havens. It’s true 80% of the action happens on 50% or less of the map. But the map helps convey the epic nature of what’s happening. Plus besides the map, you don’t need much else table space wise if you’re tight on space. Roll on the board, tracks are already there, holding boxes, etc.

And the Fate of Erebor expansion included in the BoFA CE introduces some interesting possibilities in making Ered Luin a VP space.
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18 Apr 2021 21:02 #322278 by Gary Sax
Someone with ADHD can do anything if they are interested and they get in that hyperfocused state. That doesn't surprise me so much!
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18 Apr 2021 21:40 #322279 by ChristopherMD
Fields of Arle is on my table a lot. I added the expansion my second game with no issues. I like the tea mechanic to improve or duplicate a worker action and more building variety is good. But trading overseas seems more like a novelty than worthwhile endeavor. Not a must-have unless you're a fan and just want more stuff to do in the game.
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18 Apr 2021 21:41 #322280 by mc
Played I think 10 games of Wiz-War over the last week and a bit, with the kids. 8th edition but original stylee - maybe even looser (we play the walls on the sides are just like the portals if you can break through them for instance, a few other things like that... I can't remember what the original rules say about your hand size and spells maintained, but screw that anyway, once the spells out it's out there).

I think it is the most consistently rewarding gaming time out there. Playing it that way it plays straight out of the box without any setup short of getting the treasures out of the baggie. Off the shelf and playing within 2 minutes. It always provides really fun narratives. It allows you to get creative with your hand without having to go through some laborious process of building a deck or getting resources to convert this or that first. It's just hell for leather from the off. I know the game has been praised over and over on here but far out we've been having a good time with it this week. So good.
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18 Apr 2021 21:44 - 18 Apr 2021 21:45 #322281 by san il defanso

Gary Sax wrote: Someone with ADHD can do anything if they are interested and they get in that hyperfocused state. That doesn't surprise me so much!


Yeah, that's been my experience too, although he's never had to stick with something for this long. I think the structure of the game actually played well to this, especially since he was the Shadow Player, and had a lot more to do. I had forgotten that the Free Peoples sometimes wait around for the Shadow to take several turns in a row.
Last edit: 18 Apr 2021 21:45 by san il defanso.
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18 Apr 2021 21:49 #322282 by Gary Sax

ChristopherMD wrote: Fields of Arle is on my table a lot. I added the expansion my second game with no issues. I like the tea mechanic to improve or duplicate a worker action and more building variety is good. But trading overseas seems more like a novelty than worthwhile endeavor. Not a must-have unless you're a fan and just want more stuff to do in the game.


It makes farming more viable.
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18 Apr 2021 22:26 #322283 by Jackwraith

san il defanso wrote: Yeah, that's been my experience too, although he's never had to stick with something for this long. I think the structure of the game actually played well to this, especially since he was the Shadow Player, and had a lot more to do. I had forgotten that the Free Peoples sometimes wait around for the Shadow to take several turns in a row.


Yeah, I bet that definitely helped, since the Shadow player is very much the dynamic force in the early turns of the game, being the one not only to put the pressure on in several quarters, but also the one whose nations are actually active. The Free Peoples are kinda waiting to be triggered by the threat that the Shadow is bringing before they really get rolling and are doing more than simply trying to move Frodo from one spot to the next. Still, he might have been just as entranced by acting out that part of the story if he's a fan. I just know that sometimes it can be frustrating on the Free Peoples side because the Dwarves and the North Just. Won't. Do. Anything!

That's awesome that he enjoyed it so much. It's definitely one of those games that you can go back to again and again. I haven't played my copy in years, but I'll never part with it. It just does such a great job of telling the story and still giving you new twists on it.
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18 Apr 2021 22:29 #322284 by Jackwraith

mc wrote: Played I think 10 games of Wiz-War over the last week and a bit, with the kids.


Still one of the best games ever, for all the reasons you cite. I can't possibly remember all of the people- even hardcore gamers -that I've introduced it to. Everyone has come away from it wanting to play again. I've put it on the table in front of any number of folks that I thought wouldn't really like it. Almost everyone has been totally tickled by it and has been interested in trying it again, win or lose. It's just FUN and that's the most important part, no matter what rules you play with.
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18 Apr 2021 22:35 #322285 by hotseatgames
This just made me realize, I can't even remember how long it's been since I've played Wiz-War, or even Cosmic Encounter. Far too long for both of them.
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19 Apr 2021 09:54 - 19 Apr 2021 11:01 #322292 by sornars
Has there been a TWBG consensus position on the best set of rules to use with the FFG edition of Wiz War?

Exit: Dead Man on the Orient Express: I enjoyed this much more than the Unlock game I previously mentioned. The hint system works perfectly well and I appreciate them giving players the freedom to disregard hint cards that they already knew the answer to when calculating their score. I do feel a little bit guilty throwing out a brand new game after playing it but I don't think there's anything to be done as the destruction of components to solve puzzles was rather clever and there's enough (although maybe I could've used a bit more) clues for when it is necessary. The murder mystery finale was great as there was enough contextual clues to reason out the solution. As I was going along I started to piece together things naturally. The riddles themselves were nonsensical in the context of a series of locks but they all made sense as riddles and were fun to puzzle out.

Oath: The physical production is as expected, gorgeous. I started my chronicle with a solo game against the included bot, the Clockwork Prince. This is not my first rodeo with the Clockwork Prince and my thoughts have been captured in the dedicated Oath thread but to summarise, I think the bot is a touch too easy to bully and doesn't present the challenge I'd hope for in a solo game. I know that Oath is fundamentally a multiplayer game so expecting the bot to be as good as another human is unrealistic; however, there is enough meat here to build something better. It's still fun to noodle around and see the ebb and flow of empires but I really hope the community comes up with a way to improve the bot!

Food Chain Island & The Ugly Gryphon Inn: I went in for a Kickstarter for the latter game and picked the former in the same order. Both are solo games and arrived recently in those cute little wallets which are Button Shy Games's gimmick. Both consist solely of a small deck of under 20ish cards and have been designed by Scott Almes of Tiny Epic fame. I originally posted this with a bunch of rules explanation but those weren't really necessary. To save you all from a wall of text, feel free to skip the spoilers.

Food Chain Island is a relatively straightforward solitaire game.
Warning: Spoiler!

The art is cute, setup is quick and the game is a simple enough puzzle that plays in 10 minutes. I wouldn't rush out to buy this but it's good, clean fun. I've mentioned its simplicity but I want to point out that simple != easy. I've yet to win. It's hard to argue that this is a vastly superior game to normal solitaire with a standard deck of cards but whatever, the art is cute and there's less shuffling and setup to get out.

The Ugly Gryphon Inn definitely feels like more of a game.

The premise is that you're running an Inn and Tavern and you want to draw out the deck and have more than 7 patrons sleeping at the inn with less than 8 people having left.
Warning: Spoiler!
This game is easy to setup and has the similarly great art but is much more of a thinker. It takes up a surprising amount of table space as you need to be able to read every card. I like but don't love this game. It's super easy to misplay/misread the conditions upon which an effect is triggered as the distinction between Inn and Bar needs to be kept in mind and running through the day and night phases made me feel like I'm in a poorly coded algorithm, trapped in a for loop peppered with a bunch of if statements. This all builds up and the end can actually guy surprisingly thinky as you need to figure out which patron to play.

I found these releases charming but didn't really enjoy either of them well enough to recommend them. Now that I have them I will probably play them again though so take that for what it's worth.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game: After a long hiatus I decided to fire this up and kick off a campaign of The Dream-Eaters. This game still rocks, every time I play it I always wonder why it took me so long to get back into it.
Last edit: 19 Apr 2021 11:01 by sornars. Reason: Spoilering the rules explantions which in hindsight were not needed at all
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19 Apr 2021 10:02 #322294 by hotseatgames
There was a big Wiz-War thread that detailed a lot, but if memory serves me, the following will do you no wrong:

- remove all but 1 or 2 spell cancels
- permanent objects by default that don't count in your hand limit
- big book of everything ( I have two large decks, each one has one of the cantrip decks and 3 or 4 of the school decks. Players choose which one they want to draw from at the beginning and must draw from that one. Makes it easier to re-sort after the game)
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19 Apr 2021 10:04 - 19 Apr 2021 10:06 #322295 by charlest
I don't know if there is a consensus on Wiz-War. But we always do:

You don't maintain spells like walls/traps/objects you create. Once you create those they're part of the map and you don't have control of them and can't dispel them at your will. They also don't take up your hand of course. This is probably the single most important change as it incentivizing throwing shit all over the map and my favorite moments in the game are when people's creations have been used against them.

If you have both of your treasures captured you die instantly.

You can't go through any doors unless you have a key. There's no door ownership and the colors don't even matter.

We combine all cards together and I've removed some of the most bland counter-spells as per Ian Allen's advice on BGG. There's too many counters when you combine everything and I think this is a necessary step. We've found this doesn't harm the expansions content much as we still see totems and creatures.

My group strongly prefers all of these and I don't think you could convince us to change.
Last edit: 19 Apr 2021 10:06 by charlest.
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19 Apr 2021 10:51 #322300 by Jackwraith
Piling on: We do pretty much everything that Hotseat and Charlie mentioned, except we don't do the doors thing. You can use the doors in your home sector freely and don't need a key, but need one for everyone else's. But, yeah, the game is only the game if you can toss objects everywhere and get delayed and/or killed by your own rose bush at some point. I've stripped out all but one of each type of spell cancel/counterspell, but otherwise we use everything, including both cantrip decks. I've also removed the card that lets you search for a creature, since the combined deck is so large that the game crashes to a halt while someone goes through a few hundred cards looking for one of six creatures. It may mean we don't see the beasties as often, but at least our games keep moving.
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19 Apr 2021 14:55 #322309 by n815e
I keep reading this as “catnip decks”.

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