Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Cosmic Encounter and a Chaotic Old World

Last night's "Play Games With Josh" happened, with 4 players...

Due to the fact that I got the latest expansion for Chanukah, we decided to drag out Cosmic Encounter for the first time in awhile.
It was Ghoul vs. Fungus vs. Filth (me) vs. Remora...
We played with all of the "Optional Stuff" except for Technology (I'm not sure I really like Tech anyway).. the Hazard Deck came up with some very interesting effects; the very first Hazard that came up created a permanent alliance between the Fungus and the Ghoul, which led to some danger in the Ghoul almost winning.
There was one very strange interaction where a card (I forget which) caused players to temporary swap powers for the encounter, but then the Fungus played the Sorcerer flare, which caused permanent swappage, and by the wording of the rules (and experience with VTES's situations of temporary control effects and permanent control effects happening simultaneously), we figured that the effects basically canceled each other out.
The Filth's power came in useful as a game-balancer; I attacked a planet in Remora's system which also contained a Ghoul ship, when those two aliens were tied at 4 foreign colonies apiece.. The Ghoul actually allied with me so that he could keep his total of 4, because when I won the encounter, the Ghouls on the planet had to go to other colonies. Pretty cool.

In the end, there was an anticlimactic Shared Victory between me and the Remora, based upon us both agreeing to play Negotiate cards and swapping colonies.
I think Shared Victories are one thing that make the game "iffy". I might try to play with a house rule that you can't share a victory except where an alien power/flare allows it, to avoid silliness like this, or like the game where 4 people shared a victory before the 5th player got a turn. But I'm not sure how to mediate it. Will have to think about a variant, or see if anyone in the N-year-history of the game has similar feelings and came up with something.

After that, instead of playing 7 Wonders (my other Chanukah gift game) or Risk Legacy or anything, we played Chaos in the Old World (Matt's copy).
We used the alternative cards from the Horned Rat expansion, but not the Horned Rat god.
This was my third time playing Chaos.
I was Slaanesh, and I had yet another lukewarm experience with this game that everyone seems to love.
I got into a situation that, by no apparent misplaying of my own, I had already fallen too far behind by turn 3 or so. I could not possibly win. A combination of dice not in my favor, the regions with Nobles getting ruined quickly because they were otherwise popular, etc.
Granted, Slaanesh has a very hard time of getting dial-ticks, and maybe it was my mistake for trying that strategy, but I really felt helpless again.
I still don't rate Chaos very highly, but I'm still not ready to completely give up on it. Maybe it's one of those games that takes several plays to "get", and maybe there is a way to come back from behind that I don't see yet.

Not trying to be such a Negative Nelly with this post .. it just turned out that way :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Legacy Begins...

(Warning: minor spoilers ahead)
On Wednesday, December 7th, 2011, a group of 5 brave factions began to shape Earth #6730

We played the first 2 games of Risk Legacy with my set, and here's a brief report on how it broke down:
First, the first 5 of us all signed the board:

Then we chose our factions, along with the special ability that would accompany this faction forever:
Max chose the Saharan Republic, giving them the ability to Maneuver in the middle of their turn.
I chose the Enclave of the Bear, choosing the ability to obliterate a country when rolling triples and defeating at least one defender.
Tree took Imperial Balkania, with the ability to round up instead of down when recruiting troops.
Shaun took Khan Industries, with the ability to spawn an extra troop in each of his HQs each turn.
Finally, Kevin chose Die Mechaniker, whose starting HQ will always be fortified when defending.

Some joy was taken in ripping up the unused special ability stickers:

To choose the initial extra coinage on territories, we chose randomly: 8 territories with $1 extra, and 2 territories with $2 extra. I won't give an entire list here, but Europe definitely seemed to be strongly represented by this randomness.

The first game played a lot like Risk (!). Except that, instead of being a race for cards, it was actually won by a blitz that took 2 HQs.

Throughout the first game, all 5 of us laid down our Scars, starting with this one in Greenland (note that we placed this first sticker incorrectly -- completely covering the X instead of beneath it --but we'll live):

More shots from later in the game:

In the end of Game 1, it was Tree and his Balkanians that reigned Triumphant, settling in their new city of DunTree:

3 other minor cities were founded (including my contribution, "Nilbog" in Venezuela), and one territory gained an extra coin.

The second game went much more quickly, now that we understood the flow of the rules and such. Also, since we had all played our Scars in the first game, there was only one left in the box which meant nobody gets any.

We ended up taking the same factions, coincidentally, although we started in very different areas.
I started the Enclave of the Bear in Central America, and Shaun started in South America and decided to bunch up most of his troops in Venezuela.
Due to my special ability, and my general strategies in such games, I decided to try and wipe him out on Turn 1.
Unfortunately, that would not be the case.
Long story short, with "help" from Max, my faction ended up being Eliminated from the game.

WARNING: This is where there may be actual spoilers

We opened up the "Eliminated Player" packet:

.. unlocking Comeback Powers, and now the Enclave of the Bear is "Stealthy".

We also unlocked the Mercenary Scars. If our next game is with 3 or 4 players, then they'll see play; otherwise they'll have to wait, with only 4 Scars available.

Kevin founded his Major City of Mordor, and a few more Minor Cities were founded (although I wasn't able to do anything at endgame, other than take a look at my spiffy new power).

And thus ended Game 2.

Game 3 might happen this Wednesday, I hope for a quicker turnaround time on a session report...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Legacy will begin..

As soon as I figure out how to write about this game without majorly spoiling parts of it, this blog is going to pick up on games content again.

The game has arrived at my house, and it looks beautiful so far, even though I've barely seen a small fraction of it.
I plan to take a LOT of pictures of how the game evolves, and take some pretty good notes..
Can't wait!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Risk Legacy: The designers are magnificant bastards

I haven't managed to pick up the game yet, but this little fact has been confirmed on boardgamegeek:
Along with all of the envelopes that say "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL [game event X]", there is one envelope that says "DO NOT OPEN. EVER."
And there is definitely stuff in there.

As a purist, I plan on following the instructions completely, and literally never opening it (at least not until long after there's ever a chance of playing the game again), and staying away from spoilers about its contents.

But I will always be curious........................

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Risk Legacy

Have I written a blog post about Risk Legacy yet?
I probably should.
I'm really interested in this game.

For those who don't know what it is (and don't feel like reading the BGG link above)..
You've probably heard of Risk.
It's like that, except everything changes.
During and after each game, you literally modify the game components. New rules, new cities (named by the players), a list of winners... adding and DESTROYING things. Secret card packs that are opened at specific points in the game, which aren't necessarily in order.
Everything down to the basic rules changes.
After 15 games, you're basically done "creating the new world", and you still have a customized boardgame which is affected by the people playing it.

It seems like a great game to encourage a playgroup to regularly meet.
15 games of BSG can be fun and result in cool stories, but 15 games of Risk Legacy end with a game you uniquely designed.

I can't wait for it to be available, I will try and get PlayGamesWithJosh to play it as much as possible.

Friday, November 4, 2011

MORE Gaming

Hey, a gaming post on my gaming blog!

PGWJ actually happened this past Wednesday, and it was pretty awesome.
Some old friends from college came over who I haven't seen in a bazillion years, AND we played Glen More! Twice!

So, Glen More is a pretty neat game. It is a collection of a whole bunch of little Euro mechanics in a single Scottish package. (Although, just as with many Eurogames, the theme doesn't matter).

My real only gripe with Glen More is the cube resources. A few times we had trouble telling between the Gray and White cubes in costs, and they do take away from the little bit of theme that there is. If Power Grid can have fuel that is at least roughly representative, then Glen More should have sheep that look like sheep. I might order those animeeples from Maydaygames after all.

The game itself sometimes feels like Carcassone (meeples, and tile-laying that needs to respect a river and road), but it also has trading mechanics (the market, which you can only use when necessary, so you can't deliberately monopolize a resource) and a very cool scoring system.
You get points based on the difference in how much of a Thing (chieftains, whiskey, and special locations) you have more than the person with the least.
So if you focus only on Whiskey and Distilleries, for example, then you're going to be giving away points to everyone else who has been collecting other stuff.
In the end, you actually lose significant points if you have too many tiles more than the guy with the least, which is a nice balancing factor.

The turn-order, which allows you to have an imbalance of tile numbers, is based on your meeples walking around in a perpetual circle. Really, it's easier (for me) to visualize it as one of those cartoon escape sequences, where the characters are constantly running and the path behind them is crumbling away...
The person at the end of the line gets to take a turn (pick up and activate tiles). If they're still at the end of the line, they get another turn, etc. If you jump too far ahead for a good tile, you'll be waiting around for your next turn. But if you take too many baby steps, those tiles had better net you more than 3 points each in the end.

I really like how it all fits together, and looking forward to playing it again. It even has built-in mechanics for playing with 2 players (a die that randomly eats tiles), although I'm not sure how well that plays. Worth a shot.

Glen More gets a GRRRRR on my arbitrary Ossian scale.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Phone Phlip Phlop

The decision was made. I was counting down.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first Ice Cream Sandwich phone ohmygodawesome!
With an NFC chip!
720p screen! 32GB of storage! Wowser wowsy wow!

The other announced phone, the Droid Razr, has some significant advantages.
It's billed as being damn durable.
Kevlar construction.
Gorilla Glass (officially confirmed to NOT be on the Nexus)
"Splashguard" coating.
I've got a 3-year-old, and I'm not exactly the most graceful person myself. My next phone will get dropped and scratched.
Some other advantages too, like a removable SDcard.
Sure, it has a smaller screen, and no NFC chip (sorry Google Wallet!). Will be running Motorola-branded (not "Google Pure") Gingerbread out of the box, and will have to wait a few months for ICS (also probably not "Google Pure"). Non-removable battery (which could cause trouble in emergency situations).
But it is looking better for my actual use cases.

And then there is the HTC Rezound, formerly known as Vigor.
It's supposed to be in the same class as these two phones, but nothing has been announced about it officially yet. I don't know what that means.

It's a good thing I have some time to weigh the options and read the blogs.
I still don't think I will be waiting for the Galaxy S 3 (which could come in 6 months and might not be on Verizon), but the Nexus is not looking as shiny or obvious-choicey as it did. :/

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A post about phones

I've been venting about phones on social networks for months, so I might as well make it into a full blog post, now that the Signpost has opened up to more subjects.

"Feature Phone" (non-smartphone) users have an advantage: the advantage of ignorance. You get a phone, possibly for free-with-contract. You can use it as long as it lasts; literally until the battery will no longer hold a charge, or until you run over it with your car, or the carrier pries it away from your cold dead hands. When it's time for a new phone, you go into the store, get the cheapest one, they transfer your contacts, and you have another phone. You don't really explore the full extent of what your phone can do; or if you do that, it's about "the phone I have now", and not about the platform it's running on.

iPhone users have an advantage: the advantage of consistency. "The next iPhone" comes out, and you either get it or you don't. iPhone features are predictable and build on each other, and the experience is consistent. (Please note: I'm not trying to start a platform war in this post.)

Android users have an advantage: the advantage of diversity. Each phone has its own hardware advantages/disadvantages, its own take on the operating system, and its own little quirks. But sometimes, diversity is frustrating. And here is the motivation for my post.

I've got my original Motorola Droid, the flagship Android phone for Verizon from early 2010 (ed note: the Droid actually came out in late 2009, but I got mine in Mar '10). I love it, but it is like an elderly grandparent. It's showing its age, it can't keep up with the times.
I've put it on life support (rooted it and installed some helpful apps) to compensate for its weaknesses, but there's only so much you can do.
As luck would have it, my Upgrade Eligibility date is up in a few weeks.
And there are some really exciting phones being announced. The Motorola Droid Razr, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the HTC Rezound right around the corner.
Watching the Razr and Nexus announcement events, it's really difficult to choose between them. The Razr has more physical durability and some cool Motorola-specific features; the Nexus has a bigger screen, an NFC chip, and ships with the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich). The Razr has a removable SDcard, the Nexus (probably?) doesn't. Etc etc.
I'm leaning toward the Nexus, and it will be a HUGE step up for me, but it is not my "perfect" phone.
For one thing, no physical keyboard; this seems to be an unloved feature in newer Android phones, but something I'd actually use.
There are other ways that I'm sure the Nexus isn't "perfect", but I can't verbalize all of them.

But my goal is to get a phone as soon as possible after my Upgrade Eligibility date, so that I have the best phone I can possibly have for the next 18 months. Right?

Well, maybe not.

There are rumors of "the NEXT NEXT BIG THING" coming out later next year.
Of course these rumors are always there. Of course the longer you wait, the better product you'll get. It is the way of tech.

But maybe, just maybe, the NEXT NEXT BIG THING (Quad-core processors, even-HighDefier screens, more gigabytes, whatever) is super-duper enough that it could actually -- *gasp* -- last me more than one Upgrade Cycle, without me feeling left behind in a year and a half.

In the meantime, though, I'd need to continue to limp along with my old Droid, for up to another year, and maybe even fix it up more so I don't keep treating it as low-class. And there's no guarantee of when the next advance in Android Technology will come.

Sigh, this is the dilemma of a gadget geek.

Friday, October 14, 2011

And more about CSS

CSS was the one thing that really wasn't focused on at jquerycon weekend (I took an entire day overview of HTML5, but CSS was just incidentally spoken about in talks).
So this stuff is particularly new to me.

I really wish there were a way to have semantics in CSS for "next to"

Something along the lines of:

#div1 {
nextTo: #div2 side(right) top(30px);

to say "div1 is on the right side of div1, 30 pixels down." and have them stick together. At least for use with IDs. Obviously it can be worked around in javascript, or the math can be done in advance, but that's a pain.

Anyway, this brings me to programmatically-created CSS.
This basically gives me 3 options: LESS, SASS, or PHP/roll-my-own script.
I have to explore these options to see which one is worthwhile, if any.
They all basically do the same thing; allow for variables and less repetition when writing, but outputting standard CSS to the browser.
None of them seem to have the "next-to" functionality that I desire, except in making it easier to do the math.. But that doesn't make them bad.
I will try some stuff out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So, I should start doing that..

Today's magical discovery: media queries

I haven't even done stylesheets for the standard different media before (screen/print/etc) but this looks super neat.
You can change the style by how big the screen is; that opens up a whole lot of possibilities, especially for a webgame where the interactive parts of the game really need to stay on the screen.
For example, deciding not to use images when the screen is too small.

It's simple stuff. And probably not new to you. But cool.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A little something different..

I've recently gotten really excited about some client-side web programming stuff --- mainly jquery, HTML5, and CSS3 (and even some older stuff I never bothered to learn), including Ajax and all those goodies.

This blog doesn't get a lot of gaming content, and I need a place to discuss the neat stuff I've been picking up.

So don't be surprised if you see some webstuff babbling around here for at least awhile. Maybe even some demos and examples.

I will start by digging through my notes from jquery Con 2011 and some other recent stuff..

Don't worry, this does all tie together to gaming, somehow.
I have several ideas for game-related web programming to do; I just need a little bit more motivation and possibly some outside help.

Keep reading... but don't leave me if you want to hear BSG Session Reports; those will still come in, too :)

Monday, September 26, 2011


Hello, all.. No, I haven't forgotten about this blog, I just haven't had much gaming-related to say (unfortunately).
The most interesting gaming-related thing I've done in the last several weeks is to suggest an Osmosis Jones retheme of the BSG game on a Boardgamegeek thread... Yeah, really. Don't know what I was thinking.

Anyway, today I saw a link to this:
Power Grid: The Robots.
This is an awesome idea!
A lot of good games do not scale well down to 2 players.
The wife and I do play Power Grid on occasion, by the default rules, and sometimes find it a bit lacking.
We tried those special house rules (mentioned in another post) and she hated them.
But this opens up a different possibility.
And if it works, other games should definitely get on board with similar mechanics. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene didn't take down our Power Grid

Hurricane"Tropical Storm" Irene was a bit of a non-event in my neck of the woods. No stories to tell.

But after Eli went to bed, the wife and I played a game of Power Grid.

Even though we always have fun playing with the default 2-player rules, I decided to give this 2-player variant a try.

The basic differences between the base rules and that variant are:
1) The market is split 3/5 instead of 4/4. Smaller current market, more futures.
2) Only 1 house per city, regardless of Step.
3) Only 2 regions in Step 1, adding 2 extra regions in Step 2 (which starts at 7 cities).
4) In Step 2, if you have 8 or more cities, you can power 3 fewer cities with your plants. In step 3, 6 fewer.
5) Game ends at 14 cities.

I actually enjoyed the tweaks it made; it adds some interesting situations, especially when Step 2 is beginning. I had 7 cities, and could power 10. But if I bought just one more city, I would only be able to power 7. And later in the game, you can't just sit on your power plants, you have to keep bidding.

She didn't like it, because it does add a bit of confusion for people who aren't "seasoned gamers"; the official rules of Power Grid with 2 players can be a very non-gamer-friendly casual game.
So maybe we won't play it again this way, but I might suggest it for a 2-player variant with another "gamer gamer".

On the other hand:
In the end, I did win, but it was still by a narrow margin. I'm not sure if the overhead added by the variant actually changes the situation very much except a little bit of twisting your perception. It might take a few more experimental games to formulate a full opinion.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Remote Gaming

Our D&D group is notoriously bad at consistently meeting.
It is something that happens when you grow up; schedules are incompatible, real life issues interfere, and it just has to take lower priority.
Throughout the last few years, we've struggled to meet once every 3 or 4 months on a Sunday night.

Due to this and other concerns, we decided to give it a try to use an online video chat service for one person to be remotely available. Our first guinea pig was not Mike (our friend who moved away), but me. Circumstances had me needing to stay home, but available for gaming.

We first tried Google Hangout, but the video was a little bit choppy (over wifi, at least) and it was wreaking havoc on my poor netbook's system resources.
I suggested we use Skype instead.
From my perspective, Skype was generating a clearer smoother picture and better audio... but for whatever reason it ended up crashing the machine on the other side.
So we went back to Google Hangout, and I resorted to getting out my incredibly-long-cat5-cable to plug the netbook into the wired network.
Had to work out some audio issues, but eventually it started working better, and we got used to it.. so, technologically, it was working OK.
Whether it will hold up with a 3rd or 4th person in conference is a whole other question, but we'll see.

As for the experience itself, I know I was fooling around with zooming in on random objects and making funny faces for a lot of the time, but that was just to make sure people still knew I was there. (It was also weird because my view of myself was mirror-flipped.. whooaaaa)

I also felt a little bit like I was watching a live event, and not participating, so there were times that I completely zoned out, did stuff in another window, and waited to hear my name.

But when I did hear my name, and when I was included, then I did feel like we accomplished something. I was more-or-less able to see the BattleMat and my character actually did kill some goblins and stuff. :)

So, conceptually, I approve. I think this can work.
Technically, I think we still have to figure out what the ideal setup is.

Hopefully, next time, I will be one of the people in the physical room, though.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Games Played With Josh, August 17th, 2011

Five people gathered at my house for boardgames last night, and we tried out my new game Glen More...

... naw, just kidding, we played Galactica.

We chose to play with New Caprica as a destination, using all the rest of the Pegasus and Exodus components.

The characters were:

Gaeta (Kristen) ->
Baltar (me) (Cylon) ->
Cally (Matt) ->
Apollo (Max) (Cylon)->
Tori (*and Anders) (Kevin)

Predictably, I was a Cylon from the very first turn.
As soon as I was able, I spiked a check with a yellow card, and balked about it publicly when there were 3 negatives in the check. I figured, Baltar's already a suspicious character so it is best to play to that early.

For the most part, I played as a nice friendly human, because Baltar always wants to live to the sleeper phase to use his OPG.

The humans had halfway decent luck before the sleeper phase, and we hit sleeper at Distance 5.
Gaeta at this point was Pradmiral, and Tori decided that she wanted to use Administration to make herself president, to improve her special ability, without consulting anyone.
This was definitely my "in".
On my first turn after that (my first turn after sleeper), I peeked at Tori's pair of Not-A-Cylons (one of which was a personal goal but I really wasn't interested in that).
I took advantage of the suspicion of her last action, and of course called out Kevin. "Oh, Kevin, how could you?"

Apparently, this was convincing enough for Cally, because she went right over to Tori's location and discharged her firearm, revealing my lie.
At this point, I should point out that we were using a slight variant on Executions.
Instead of choosing any new character, we shuffle up the non-dead characters and deal out 3, letting the player choose 1.
Kevin's choices were grim: Boomer, Helo, or Anders, the very 3 characters who have "screwed on the first turn" as a penalty. He chose the least of the evils, Anders.

I thought this might mean Cally was my partner in crime, but it didn't take long for me to find out that I was wrong. Apollo's followup action was to Reveal, damaging 2 areas of Galactica. Evilly and thematically enough, the two damaged areas were Command and the Hangar Deck, leaving no way for vipers to get out as Galactica was swarmed with Cylons on the outside.

On Gaeta's turn, he used an Arrest Order on me (which I had been holding on to before the title was unceremoniously taken away).

I used the Political Prowess that I'd been holding on to since the very beginning as a Get Out of Jail Free card, but unfortunately, the fates would give me a crisis that had the admiral choose to send me right back to the brig.

On my following turn, I would reveal, because my Reveal Power did not need any help -- move the Jump Track back 2 spaces, when there had been 5 crises in a row without a jump icon, including one that moved the track backwards.

Did I mention that by this point, all of the raiders were on the board, and 4 Centurions were marching?!

Skipping ahead a little bit.. the next jump was apparently a choice between 2 1-distance destinations, because it left us at distance 6.

By the time New Caprica was reached (and it was), both Population and Morale were at 1, and there were 3 Centurions 2 steps along on the track.
The humans conceded, rather than perform the futile setup of the New Caprica board.

So that makes my second game with New Cap, and I still haven't fully experienced the.. experience.

Fun game :)

I'll still play Glen More, I swear!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

(BSG) Increasing Paranoia with Executions

I posted this over at BoardGameGeek, and unsurprisingly it wasn't a very popular idea.

So I'm thinking,
When I first heard about Exodus, and played my first couple of games with it, I liked the new rules for the Loyalty Deck partially because a character wasn't guaranteed to be Human when coming into the game to replace an Executed character.

But in practice, the newly-drawn card after being Executed is rarely "You Are A Cylon"; it might be a Final Five or a Personal Goal, but those don't really hurt the team that bad.

So here is my idea:

At game setup, create the Loyalty Deck as instructed by the Exodus rulebook. Follow the rules as-printed until the sleeper phase.

After the Sleeper Phase, the first time a character is executed, instead of shuffling a new You Are Not A Cylon card into the deck before drawing your new loyalty, shuffle a "You are a Late Cylon" card in.
(This could use a better name, but I don't even know if the mechanic's any good)


Action: Reveal this card.
You may not use the "Cylon Fleet" or "Basestar Bridge" location.

Only do this once. Future executions are handled by the normal rules.

It makes you a worse Cylon than the Sympathizer, for sure. It barely gives you an incentive to Reveal. But it adds more uncertainty to the Airlock As Cylon Detector, and maybe people will start using the Brig more often again?

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's a trap!

Oh neat, FFG has gotten the rights to make Star Wars games!
Could a Star Wars/BSG crossover be right around the corner?? [/just kidding]

Friday, July 29, 2011

Increasing realism in abstract eurogames, is it really necessary?

In my previous post, I commented that Glen More's wooden cubes leave a bit to be desired.

And Mayday Games has this set of nicer-looking cubes that match the GM resources.

The question I have is: Is it really worth $10 (plus shipping*) to replace the wood cubes in a game I will probably not play as often as I think I'll play it, for an aesthetic benefit that most people won't care about?

The funny afterthought to that question is: In what other games could I use these tokens?
Just to get some use out of the bits of wood, would I replace the BSG civilian ships with cattle? Power Grid uranium with sheep? ;)

Seriously, though, I'm thinking about it. But not until I actually get a chance to play a few times and see how annoying it really is.
(The legitimate argument for replacing Glen More's cubes is actually that they're a bit too small and may be hard to handle/easy to lose)

P.S. They also have this "mega-set" of meeples which would cover all of my eurogame needs for a long time, but I realy know I don't need that.

* side note, I wish I had thought of this sooner, because I just made a big order of Sleeves from them a few weeks ago, which would solve the shipping-cost question.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Glen Less

Last night's "PlayGamesWithJosh" did not happen in its traditional sense.
But my wife was free and wanted to play boardgames with me, so I grabbed up that opportunity.

I have been so excited to try out Glen More since I picked it up, I set it all up and started reviewing the rules.
Now, I am not the best game-explainer, but I started to go over things with her, and.. well, her eyes just glazed over with the complications.
Glen More seems to be one of those games where you can "just start playing and figure things out as you go", but there are still a lot of bits to point out.
Therefore, the game got vetoed before you could say "I sell my sheep".

So we packed that up and put it away. It will be a game for another time.
(Incidentally, the one thing I do want to say about Glen More is that I think I might need to pick up a pack of alternative wooden meeples to represent the resources. It does cause a bit of an immersion problem, not to mention the cubes being a little too small and lose-able).

So, Power Grid came out of the box instead.
We decided to try the Spain/Portugal map, with the basic deck (no promos).
Fairly straightforward.
The special rules for Spain/Portugal are easy to explain:
If you ONLY own cities in Portugal, then you are not allowed to bid on Nuclear Power Plants.

Now, especially in 2-player, this is pretty silly. You don't have to include Portugal as one of the available regions, (not even with 6 players). Granted, it has some cheap connections, but we really only chose Portugal so we could see how it affected the whole game.
But also, by the time you are interested in nuclear power plants, I'm not sure anybody would be exclusively settling in Portugal, except for a particularly nasty cornering scenario with more players. I think this rule really has zero effect.

3 of the mid-range Wind Plants (18, 22, and 27) are removed from the deck, and placed back on top of the deck in order at the start of Step 2

I'm not sure of the justification of this rule, except to slow down access to the bigger nuclear plants in the mid-game when they are most powerful. By this time, these 3 wind plants aren't extremely desirable.

Uranium replenishes zero during Step 1.
Not so much a "special rule", but notable to the other 2 points. It starts out cheap but doesn't replenish during step 1, and replenishes best during step 2.

Overall, I think that even with more players, Spain/Portugal is kind of "meh" and doesn't change enough from the basic map that I'd really be enthusiastic about trying it again.

I really want to try out the Korea map, because it seems to have the most interesting effect on the rules (2 different markets). Maybe next time...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Play Games With Tree!

Last night, "our RPG group" (the local remnants of the Tufts SGS gamers, more-or-less, plus Matt), met at Tree's place for the first time in a few months, to start up another brand new campaign.
Hopefuilly we will be able to gain momentum on this one and actually have a few sessions.

Tree is GMing for the first time, and has chosen the Pathfinder system (similar to D&D 3.5 but with a whole bunch of tweaks).
The further restriction is that we all need to create primary Divine Casters, at level 1 (which means Clerics or Druids). He has a plan.

My character, Mara, is a Dwarf Druid.
She grew up the same way as all D&D Dwarves do; in the mines, training with the racial weapons, learning how to fight goblins and orcs, yada yada yada. Her mom and dad and siblings are all pretty standard dwarves. But, as a "teenager" (in dwarf terms that's more like late 30s/early 40s) she decided to try and "find herself" and commune with nature. And the rest is history.

Last night's session was all character-generation, and a few individual Character Preludes.
If I can glean anything from my own, he tailored a "mini-quest" for each of us which was specifically and directly given to us by our personal deities.
How this is going to draw us together is anybody's guess, especially because I'm kind of a wandering nomad and the only non-cleric (no Knowledge:Religion amongst other things).
But it should be interesting.

After all of this (and Kerri's awesome food, the major perk to gaming at Tree's house!), we played a game of Power Grid.
Man, I still suck at this game :) But it's nice to be able to play with 5 people.
Tree ended up winning with 16 cities, being able to power them all (with 5, the game ends when someone has 15+), I was still catching up.
I think I spent a little too much time in the #1 spot after buying an expensive plant early, which blocked me off from many opportunities. Some day, I'll learn!
I'm not sure if I was dead-last (we didn't play out the endgame) but I was definitely no higher than 4th place...

Hope to have more gaming again soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No, I don't want any toast!

PlayGamesWithJosh was a success, with an actual turnout of 5 this week.
So, no fears of playing Battlestar Galactica with an inefficient number, and that's what we did.

We played with 5 players, Ionian Nebula as the Destination.
The only "house rule" we used was including Scar in the decks (which was moot), and we took the "trauma tokens in a bag" shortcut which involves not putting physical tokens in Sickbay/Brig or on the initial 3 allies (just draw as appropriate; only will cause a problem if a character with no trauma tokens visits an ally).
At the last minute, despite setting aside some Cosmic Encounter UFOs for it, I decided to give up on the similar plan for Civilian Ships; with only 12 of them, maybe it's not such a big deal.

So, on to the show, here's the short version of how it broke down:

Tori (Shaun) (Cylon from the beginning) ->
Starbuck (Matt) ->
Dee (Me) ->
Gaeta (Kevin) (Cylon inherited from Tori) ->
Chief (Max)

I won't bore you with lots of details, partly because I don't remember (I might even get the details I do share wrong) and partly because I don't need to sound like this (even though this is actually a gamer blog):

Tori was a Cylon from her very first Loyalty Card. And Shaun was playing it really well, we trusted him.
Enough so that, when he felt the time was right, he revealed on an XO from Gaeta (damaging Galactica; the peculiar ruling came up where the Current Player got to choose the Pegasus/Galactica ratio of the 5 damage tokens).
I can't even tell you what was going on at the time, to be honest, except that Tori had no Trauma.

At some point which I _think_ was before Sleeper Phase, President Gaeta and I were both in the Brig, not wanting to have a special visit with Ally Number Six, and Gaeta used his OPG followed by Pardoning me on an XO. That was nice.

We were handling things, our dials were blue, our fuel overflowing (2 ticks above starting), and we hit the sleeper phase at exactly distance 4 (something I'm not fond of, but it happens).
At that point, my 2 loyalty cards were "PG: President Brigged or lose 1 food" (not a concern) and "Final Five: If someone looks at your card, you are executed" (a mild concern, but not for long).
Tori passed her loyalty card to Gaeta. Not a big deal, or so we thought.

A little while later, the Crisis failed (we tanked it) which says that nobody can look at Loyalty cards for the rest of the game. Fine. That makes me safe from asploding.

Not long afterwards, I made a stupid move.
I was sitting on the FTL button, but I chose to XO Pradmiral Gaeta to get him to push the button. He said he could take care of some things...
...and that he did.
He played the Quorum Card (sorry I am bad with names) on me which says "roll a die, and either gain the admiral title or lose morale", and I became Admiral, and then _his_ second action was to Reveal (and push the jump track down 2 spaces, I think).

Fast forward a little further, and the end of the story involves Centurions.
We had an incredible number of Heavy Raider activations come up in succession.
Near the end, a pair of Centurions were 3 hops away from "Humans Lose".
I drew a crisis with a Heavy activation, Starbuck OPG'd it, and another Heavy activation showed up.
Then it was Cylon Gaeta's turn, and he activated Heavies. March-march-march.
Then, lo and behold, the Crisis on Tyrol's turn also had a Heavy activation icon, and Cylon Tori's turn was going to be next.
We conceded. :(

So we still haven't actually ever gotten to the Crossroads phase, but the allies indirectly screwed us.
Our few encounters with them weren't that devastating, and most of us didn't even have trauma to speak of.

But poor Starbuck.
Matt was drawing nothing but Negative Trauma, and being the only pilot, had very little time to get on board and shed trauma to the allies.
It all felt a little too random. So we may never try Ionian Nebula again.

Did I also mention that we ran out of raptors? We may have had just 1 left before the Sleeper Phase, or we may have lost all 4 before, it's another hazy memory.
I swear I wasn't drinking, I just have bad retention :)

After the game of Galactica, nobody wanted to take the time to learn the rules of Glen More and have no idea how long that'd take (myself included), so we played a 5-player game of Dominion.
It involved Pirate Ship, which always changes things, but especially with 5 players it was always hitting treasure. Not much for +actions in the supply, the game went relatively slow, and I don't even remember who won (I think it was Matt with 23 points?) The game definitely ended with lots of Provinces left over (and yes I did find the one I thought I lost; sleeved cards are so sticky!) But Dominion is always an interesting game to figure out how to use the 10 cards at your disposal...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Glen More

Glen More has arrived, been unpacked, unboxed, unpunched, insert trashed, reboxed into Really Useful Boxes and back into the original box.

Glen More is a game that Dave and Robyn Tatu showed me at TempleCon, and I liked it despite not understanding some of the rules (like turn order, which is clever but a bit confusing).
Due to the confusion, I'm not really going to go into a review until I have a session (even a 2-player one) under my belt.
But it's one of those tile-laying Euro games, similar to Carcassone but with a bit of resource management.

Why did I pick it up? Well, I thought about it at the time, and found out it was out of print. So it recently had a new printing, and I figured I would snatch up a copy (with my dirty VTES auction money) before I lost my chance.

Hope to try it soon (but tonight's PGWJ is destined for BSG)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

PGWJ Update July 13, 2011

Blogs are still different enough from Circles that I'll continue to update this..
By the way, if you want a G+ invitation, leave a comment here or email me.

Anyway, last night, two enthusiastic humans came over ready to play a game of BSG.
Unfortunately, it just ended up being the 3 of us. Me, Shaun, and Sarah.

I don't need to tell you, 3-player BSG is not worth opening the box for.

I didn't sell 3-player Power Grid very well.
And neither of them had played Dominion before, and seemed more excited about that. It's probably the best-balanced-for-3 game in my collection anyway. Or at least in the top 3. (Don't ask me for a list; I made that number up).

We played 2 games.
The first game was the base-game Suggested Layout. Cellar, Militia, Moat, etc.
Not-too-surprisingly, even trying to hold back, I won that game by a significant margin. I specifically did not coach them through it.

The second game was chosen all-random except Alchemy and Black Market.
From memory, these were the cards in no particular order:
Fortune Teller
Hunting Party
Ghost Ship

Very Nasty indeed!
Not much in the way of +cards/buys/actions, and so many attacks.
It should go without saying that the Curse deck was exhausted.
Fortune Teller followed by Jester was a frustrating sequence, guaranteeing the gift of a Curse. And Jester on its own definitely accelerated the emptying of piles.

The game ended with Shaun as the big winner, something like 21-11-7, after 3 piles had been depleted and maybe 3 Provinces had gotten purchased total.
We were definitely very close to at least one person ending with a negative score.

Dominion is still strong, don't be a Kingdom Hater...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alta Tensão

I'm really starting to like Power Grid.
Over vacation, Talita and I played twice; once with USA and once with Germany.

So I went ahead and spent more of my "gaming fund" on a couple of expansions.

I picked up the "New Power Plants" deck, the Brazil/Spain board, and the China/Korea board. Exponentially increasing the options of how to play.

Talita agreed to try something new out, and we appropriately tried the Brazil board, with the original deck (leaving out the promos).
The difference with the Brazil map is that "biogas" (garbage) is more prevalent; you can't take out any of the garbage plants when taking random ones out for 2 (or 3) players, and the replenishment rate favors garbage especially in Step 3.

In the end, it didn't feel that much different from the base game; not a bad thing, but I think it's one of the milder variations. The China/Korea board definitely seems to challenge the rules more on both sides. Looking forward to trying them at a PGWJ or just a 2 player with T.

Overall, 2-player Power Grid is not bad. The auction phase is bland, and the game usually ends with a money tiebreaker, but it's still fun. I will play 2p PG over the 2p "hacks" of a lot of other games...

Friday, June 24, 2011

PGWJ Thursday Pre-Vacation Edition

What was originally going to be 5 was 3 (the same old story) for the Thursday Play Games With Josh night, before 2 weeks of vacation where my game partners will only be my wife and son (not a bad thing!).

One guest was someone who hasn't made it to "one of these" before, but is an old gaming friend, so it was awesome.

I just recently picked up the newest Dominion expansion, "Cornucopia", and Dominion works great with 3, so that was the first game we played.

Since Tree hadn't played before, but I wanted to try out the new cards, we used the "suggested" layout of 5 cards from Cornucopia and 5 from the base set.
Max got quite an engine going with Tournaments and the earliest Provinces; he ended up with 4 out of the 5 Prize Cards in his deck by the end (and collected a Duchy from an additional successful Tournament). He even managed to get a Horn of Plenty out that was worth more than $8. Yikes.
Suffice it to say, Max won that game, 48 to 41 (me) to 27-ish (a respectable total for a new player).

We debated playing a second game of Dominion, but it "wasn't in the cards" (har har har!!!)

Instead we moved on to the game that's been on my mind most lately: Power Grid.
I'm not incredibly experienced with this game, but I have to say, I think PG is less balanced at 3 players than it is at 2. With 2 players, the auction phase is usually uninteresting, but there is still competition for the lesser resources. With 3, it's too easy for one player to go off and "do his own thing" with garbage or uranium and take a big lead.
In early game, I lagged behind, partly on purpose to get the advantage of "last place". In mid-game, I was the garbage king; the only one collecting garbage, with 2 wind farms as well. I almost thought I had a chance of winning.
Then I made the mistake that cost me the game: In Phase 3, going first, I chose the big #50 to auction off... and I ended up paying $100 for it. That was just too much, which allowed another player (Max again) to purchase enough cities to end the game before I could dig myself out of the hole.
Oh well, live and learn.
I am seriously considering picking up some of the expansions for Grid, though; the alternate power grid deck might help, and the other maps look like they introduce interesting challenges. Also still haven't played with any of the promo cards, so I don't think Grid is ready to go back on the shelf yet. Maybe it will come with us on vacation.

Anyway, that's that for now. I hope to have some more interesting posts back on the blog again soon...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Session Report Catchup, in brief

Extended version might be coming soon, but this is catching up after blogger had some "issues".

Short reviews of what has been played recently:
Ticket to Ride: Big Cities seems to be the most interesting 2p variant, at least for me and my wife.

Dominion: is still a comfortable and fun game with high replay value.

Chaos in the Old World: I still feel like it is easy to feel Eliminated when you are in last place in mid-end-game and can mathematically Not Win. And it's a game that is more fun when you're winning, in my opinion. I'm still not sure why people think it is the Best Game Evar. Willing to play it more, but not rating it highly.

Illuminati: An unusual choice, pulling it out of cold storage after several years, it reminded me why the game isn't good. Aborted after it became "pure math + attack the leader," which is exactly what I remember. Maybe if we play it again, we'll include the oddball Brainwash expansion, or I'll go out and get the other 2 expansions that have surfaced in the last few years. Fat chance of playing it again at all, though.

Power Grid: Yay! I finally got to play this again. And I do like it very much. It has similarities to Chaos in the Old World in the fact that you can be losing and not be able to catch up, but for some reason it is still fun to play it out. Perhaps it's because it's simpler, I dunno. Want to play again!

More details soon, maybe.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Is this thing on?

Blogger has been weirdly broken for several days; today it actually let me log in.
Maybe I'll have a chance to post a summary of last week's gamery before this week's potential gaming...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

PGWJ mini session report 05/11/2011

We ended up having 3 people for PGWJ, instead of the expected "4 maybe 5", but that's OK.
The benefit to having 3 is that you can play more shorter games.

Kevin arrived, and while we were waiting for Matt, we decided to play Devil Bunny Needs A Ham, which I downloaded for free from cheapass games under their new free-print-and-play model.
DBNAH is a silly waste of time; all of my chefs (Ticket to Ride trains) ended up totally dying (to the Devil Bunny represented by a Reggie Jackson Baseball Clix promo), and Kevin ascended to the top and won.

By then, Matt was there, and we knew we wouldn't be seeing anybody else.

The first 3p game of the night was Race for the Galaxy.
The only times I ever play Race for the Galaxy are with Matt.
It's not my favorite game; I like San Juan, but RftG has a bunch of complexities that I don't grok because I don't play it a lot.
I tend to lose because I don't pick a strategy, or don't draw the cards to support my strategy.. So yeah, I lost hard. Matt won.

Next, we moved on to Ticket to Ride.
Since I have the 1910 expansion, and was too lazy to discuss all the options, we played the "Mega Game".
Just my luck, 3 of my routes got completely blocked out-of-hand.
And trains are used up quicker than you expect.
So Matt won this one too.

Finally, we played 3 games of Dominion.
I've stopped caring enough to write down the kingdom cards every time we play.. But we each did win a game of this, and it wasn't always the person who went first, which is nice to see.

Maybe next week, we'll have more people, but I'm happy to have any at all :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ticket to Ride!

Finally I got myself a copy of one of the new-classic Gateway Games, Ticket to Ride. Along with the "USA 1910" expansion which Boardgamegeek assures me is essential.

I've played TtR at least once before, I think. Or at least something like it.

Talita and I played 2 games; once with the "1910" Destinations (again, searching around BGG, this seemed to be the best suggestion for 2-player low-aggression games), and once with the "Mega Game".
She won the first, I won the second, but both games were pretty fun.
Sorry not much more exciting detail to report, but it is a solid game I hope to play more of.

Ticket to Ride gets a GRRRR on the arbitrary Ossian rating scale.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A visit to New Caprica

Last night, we had 4 players, excited to play BSG again. The plan was New Caprica.
Players were:
Matt - Adama
Kevin - Starbuck
Max - Zarek
Me - Caprica Six

I chose a Cylon Leader for a few reasons, but maybe not the best choice in 4p NC.
My agenda was comically unattainable: Humans Win and all resources at 3 or less.

Long story short, I tried flooding the board with Civvies but the fleshbags were too efficient. Shortly after Sleeper Phase, I realized that there was no hidden Cylon, which sealed my fate; without a check-spiking buddy, my influence on resources was minimal.

The fleet hopped right on and off New Caprica; Zarek compensated for his weakness with XOs aplenty.

Final score: Humans win (obviously), Pop at 7 and everything else at 4, after revealing Personal Goals.
Josh loses.

I'm willing to give New Cap another shot, with more players and probably not choosing a Leader... but this experience, while still fun, didn't really shine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If you say it enough times, it becomes true

Yeah, it hasn't been very long since this post:

And I'm saying it again, but more strongly now.
I've already posted to the PGWJ list, but I figure it's just as safe to post to the blog.
What I'm trying to avoid is causing panic and alarm by posting to our local vtes mailing list.

You want to buy a whole 25000-30000-ish card VTES collection that spans the whole history of the game? Willing to pay shipping (or preferably pick it up)?

Make me an offer or direct any questions about it to me (by private email, please).

Monday, April 18, 2011

[BSG] Fastest Human/Cylon Win

So I posted this innocent idea of how the humans could win by, maybe, the 6th player-turn of BSG..

I won't re-quote it here, you can go read it.

The response for the fastest Cylon win on the first player's first turn was equally sane; perhaps even more sane and less convoluted; it could probably happen once in a thousand games.

But pretty insanely, a player figured out how the humans could (hypothetically, purely mechanics-wise) get a Win on the first player's first turn. I'm in awe. It involves the fact that State of Emergency doesn't limit you from playing more State of Emergency on your turn.
So, if you manage to shrink the Leadership deck down small enough (with, say, overloading a check and having Adama draw and keep all the green cards), and trigger enough card-draws from it, you can effectively keep drawing and re-playing State of Emergency, getting an effective infinite number of player-actions, including a Cylon on Caprica drawing crises (it requires losing a food, but you can lose a food at 0 and keep going; you just need to gain 1 food back before the loop ends).
That's pretty awesome, even though it will never happen in practice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Nebula? PGWJ BSG session report!

Finally, a game of BSG with Ionian Nebula!

Last night, at our PGWJ gathering, we had 5 players for BSG. Everyone had played the game before, and so we dug out the Trauma Tokens and Allies and got started with that.

Here are some brief highlights:

Players were:
Matt (Roslin - post-sleeper-phase Cylon)
Me (Chief)
Shaun (Cally - pre-sleeper-phase Cylon)
Jesse (Apollo)
Kevin (Tigh)* (Cain)

Very early on in the game, Admiral Tigh got a chance to check out somebody's loyalty. Wisely, he chose Cally. Pegged her as a Cylon, which, as we all know, means that there's a 50/50 shot of either one of them having a shiny red spinal column.

We were not left in suspense for long, because Cally has a fairly straightforward way of resolving that uncertainty.
On her next turn, she tapped Tigh on the shoulder, and he departed from this world, showing that he had been Human.
Admiral Cain came in to replace Tigh, and soon returned the favor, using her uber-brig ability to flush Cally out of the airlock and into the Resurrection Ship.

That set the tone for the rest of the game.

A lot of location-damaging happened in this game, which led to Pegasus's destruction and the humans' eventual demise, but also it allowed the Cylon players to cycle their Trauma tokens, which was a mechanical (no pun intended) concern from the beginning. No worries at all for them.

As for the rest of the Ally Mechanic, it worked out pretty well.

Two notable moments:
We were running low on fuel, and after encountering Boomer in the Armory, Cain drew Seelix (beneficial effect: +1 fuel). So, seeding Seelix with "positive trauma", Cain was able to pick it up later and help us out.

Notable moment #2:
Pre-sleeper-phase, President Roslin had to place Aaron Doral on the board, seeding him with negative trauma (Damage Galactica), and strongly advising that we do not go visit him.
After the sleeper phase showed Roslin her true Cylon colors, which happened to be the "Reveal and Damage Galactica" card (with Doral's picture on it, of course), she conspired with Doral to blow up Galactica in a really bad way.

The ship was so hurting, the Basestars were firing well, and we were dealing with Centurions at the same time.. we made it to Distance 5 and didn't even have the chance to Blind Jump, before Galactica disintegrated into tiny bits.

Even without seeing the Crossroads Phase happen, I enjoyed the spice and intrigue that the allies added to the game.
I'd love to try it again.
Maybe next time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BSG card idea

This was just a brain-dump of a thought I had. Feel free to skewer it.
(Cross-posted to BoardGameGeek)

People don't often suggest new skillcards, because it's really not the kind of game where you can just substitute a card like that in.

But I came up with this simple idea, and felt like sharing it with the peanut gallery.

VIP Shuttle
Value: High (3/4/5? Maybe even 6?)
Movement: Move to a location on another ship. Roll a die. On a 6 or higher, put this card back into your hand. This ability is only usable if you are in a ship location.

Can't be played on New Caprica or while piloting (wording could be better about this), but _can_ be played in the Brig.
You won't Strategically Plan the roll (probably), because you might as well just discard the Strategic Planning to move.
It needs a high value because the movement ability isn't useful incredibly often.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A night with Matt's MoM

Last Wednesday, the PGWJ group (Matt, Max, and I) got a chance to try out Mansions of Madness.
Pardon me if my details are incomplete, but there are the issues of both "secrecy" and my memory.
I'm also typing this entry from the ipad as an experiment, so I'll be brier because the keyboard is less than perfectly comfortable.

Matt played the Keeper role.
Max chose the old professor. I played the gangster.

The flavor text and story clues really did seem to add to the game. I liked that.
The game was really close; it looked like we investigators had already lost and we were just "playing it out", but we ended up pulling off a victory. I liked that.

I am still conceptually concerned about replay value since there are fixed scenarios, but I don't think I'll personally play the game enough times for it to make a difference.

I'll rate the game a GRRR.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How about a crawl?

Yesterday, got together with the Tufts Gamer Crew (or at least a subset of the current subset of it) for some gaming.
The GM of our "regular" (i.e. invested some time in character creation and had at least one Full Session) RPG game could not make it, so we had other options to consider.

Of course you know that I would always advocate Board Gaming over RPGs.
I even brought both my ipad, and my Huge Box Of Overly Separated Small World Bits.

But, consensus was to dungeon-crawl, and I wanted to play something with my friends instead of bickering about what to play.
Plus, crawling is also likely to get silly which is a good thing.

The game system was D&D 3.25-ish, with GM Mike's "low Hit Point world" rules (only 1 HP per level, with an extra full die of HP every few levels, armor provides DR instead of AC, very low magic, a few other rules).
I was Oorf, a 12th-level Halfling Barbarian (me), riding his trusty Dire Badger.
After my clan of near-feral Halflings captured a traveling Human Fighter, we found that he had a treasure map. Along the way, we fought some bandits and met up with a Gnome Monk in search of adventure.

We made it to the location on the treasure map (which the Human claimed was his home) without much incident, where we encountered some insect-like creatures, but deep within their lair was a hoard of gold and assorted Dungeon Crawler's Treasure.
Of course, guarding this gold was a Dragon. A Gold Dragon, so it happens.

Due to the nature of the mechanics of the system, it was a dangerous battle (i had about 40 HP as a 12th-level barbarian, and attack/weapon damage is not scaled down). But with my magic Keen Shortsword and some lucky rolls, and of course the help of the party, we managed to defeat the beast and take home whatever treasure didn't fall down the inevitable trap we discovered.

It was a short cliche adventure, but it was fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On second thought, maybe we shouldn't go to Camelot. It is a silly place. PGWJ Session 2 BSG report

I should post this before I forget.

We had six players for a game of Battlestar Galactica at our second official gathering of Play Games With Josh.
Since one of them was a complete newbie to the game (albeit a fan of the series), we decided once again to forgo the alternate endings and take a trip to Kobol.
I stuck to my guns with the "no house rules" house rule, for what it was worth.

Our newbie Shaun chose first: Baltar
To his left: Kat (Tony), Cally (Matt), Tigh (Max), Josh (Boomer) and Kevin (Cain)

With no Cylon Leader, we played with the basic-game Sympathizer. This is very important to the story.

We had a few comical messups with the Loyalty Deck, which required 2 re-deals, but once that was over, we got started.

The pre-sleeper-phase was pretty typical. Nothing noteworthy that I can remember, until we were at Distance 3.

At Distance 3, the strangest thing happened:
CRISIS: Legendary Discovery
All of our resources "in the blue".

So the humans endeavored to cause this Crisis to fail, to avoid an evil Sympathizer. That's the first time I've ever seen the humans tank this must-pass Crisis.
(hence the title of this post, which I unfortunately didn't think of until a re-edit ;) )

Soon thereafter, our Morale was one tick in the red, and everything else was in the blue.
A "President Chooses" crisis came up which had a choice which included +1 Morale or -1 Morale, and a Jump Icon.
Our savvy unrevealed-Cylon President Baltar realized that he actually wanted to give us +1 Morale to have a Sympathizer Friend. So that's exactly what he did...

... but it backfired upon him, when our destination put Fuel into the red anyway.

So, Tigh was the (not-automatically-Cylon) Sympathizer, I (Boomer) went to the brig, and we carried on.

Sweet little Cally did what she tends to do: Chartered a shuttle to the President's Office and used her Once Per Game to blow away Baltar.
Sure enough, he was a Cylon, and he spent some time on the Basestar Bridge for most of the rest of the game.

Typical for Boomer, I was also dealt a You Are A Cylon card, along with a Final Five card (if you examine this, Cylon Ships are Activated).
I sat in the brig, Launching Scouts at the Destination Deck and Reconning the Crisis Deck, begging to be released but alas it would not happen.

Somewhere along the way, a Crisis gave a choice of executing a player, and Saul volunteered rather than waste resources in the brig. Along came Apollo...

... Eventually, the Humans were getting too close to a win, so I revealed (unfortunately before using my own OPG). My Super Crisis sucked, so I sat in the Basestar Bridge while Baltar went off to Caprica.

We had an Epic Battle, when the Pursuit Track popped and filled the main board with raiders.

But, alas, I didn't even get a chance to activate the "move the Jump Tracks around" Basestar Bridge location before the Humans made their final victorious jump.

It was almost not so victorious, down to a die roll.
Cally had a Personal Goal that would have cost 1 population, pop was at 4, and Apollo was activating FTL. Cally hinted that she should be XO'd to press FTL herself (because she could have revealed her goal as an action first), but that didn't happen.
The die roll succeeded, and the Galactica Crew safely reached Kobol with one Population and the rest of the dials in the red.

Overall this was a pretty great session of Galactica.
I can't wait to play again, and finally try Ionian Nebula!

Side Note: At 6 distance, Cain did use her OPG (without scouting), so any house-ruling of her wouldn't have mattered much anyway. And it didn't seem disruptively powerful in this case.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PWGJ "Session 2" coming soon..

I haven't forgotten about you, blog.
I owe you some news about gaming on my ipad, and stuff.

But just came here to say, tomorrow night we're definitely going to have enough people to play Galactica, possibly with Ionian Nebula.
I've been wanting to try one of the alternate endings for a long time now, but it has been suggested that since we might have a relative newbie, we might not want to make the game more complex with an alternate ending.

All the more excuse to play more, of course. But hopefully we can work something out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PGWJ, Session 1

We successfully had a "session" last night! Hooray!

Just a mini-report, I won't go too deeply into detail.

Max and Matt and I gathered together at my house.

First, we played Castle, a game I have had sitting on my shelf for
awhile and haven't played very much.

That game is still interesting, although we agreed on the fact that it
could probably use at least one house rule (You get 2 actions per
turn, but the house rule would state that the actions must be
different, so you don't all spend the first several turns drawing your
whole deck and making a mockery of the "deck" mechanic).
I wouldn't mind trying it again, with the house rule, or with some of
the variants listed on the site (which would involve some proxying,
construction, or buying a second copy of the game, so maybe not)

We followed this up with 3 games of Dominion (is a BGG link necessary?)

I did not write down which Kingdom Cards we played each time, but we
did decide to play with no Alchemy cards at all, and with no repeats
of cards from game-to-game.
In one of the rounds, Colonies and Platinum did appear on the table,
but didn't have any impact.
I also remember that in Round 1 we had Militia, Round 2 we had Ghost
Ship and Rabble, and Round 3 we had Lighthouse and no Attacks. Heh.
And if I remember correctly, each of us won one of those games, and it
wasn't always who went first.

Looking forward to having another get-together, with 4 or more people
to increase the pool of possible games!
(And Vassal is still on my radar for those times when we can't
physically assemble)

Thanks all!

Monday, February 14, 2011


The more I think about it, and the more "HEY WAIT, I could build such-and-such other deck!" followed up by "but I don't want to actually play it, or nobody would want to play against it", I think I am really done with VTES, other than holding on to a few of my favorite remaining decks and maybe playing on the jungle that is JOL.

So, I am a little bit motivated to "Get Rid Of All My Cards", which is mostly going to be in the form of donations to the local group; I don't feel the need to put a price on every single common/regular-rarity-Vampire/crappy-rare, and I have no illusions of making Lots Of Money off of these cards.

If you're reading this, and you want to cover shipping charges (which can definitely include coming to my house in person), you can feel free to ask me if I've got stuff (as some of you already have, and I'm getting through those lists). Please email me privately, if you can.
As motivated as I am to get my cards into good homes, making a list of everything I've got is not as easy as checking if I've got what you want. Whatever's left over after dumping giant boxes in Chris's House and catering to specific requests, and determining what I actually need to maintain in a small collection, is going to go out on ebay or whatever. Maybe by the end of the year I will reach Collection Equilibrium.

Once again, I'm not totally giving up on playing the game yet.
And I may even draft and keep those cards occasionally, moving forward.
But the sheer number of cards I own and will never use is just too massive to overlook.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

VtES apathy....

I told myself I'd see how I feel about VtES after TempleCon, and it's after TempleCon now.

I can't say I give up on the game; I still appreciate it, and I still want to play.


I just can't bring myself to care about building new decks. Even with all the wacky ideas I've come up with over the last 10 years, I'm just.. spent.

And with the thousands of cards sitting in my closet doing nothing, half of me wants to donate them. Half of me wants to sell them. Half of me wants to keep them "just in case".
I dunno... I don't even know how I would shed my excess cards even if I wanted to. I've been ebaying bits here and there for the last couple of years, and will probably continue to do so, but what am I going to do with all of these Bang Nakh and Marcus Vitels?

I've just gotten so much more interested in "self-contained games that are interesting with a VTES mindset".
And especially since I'm locked out from our regular VTES night for the next several months, Motivation is extremely low.

I've gone through phases of VTES disinterest before, but I think this one is the Big One.

Monday, February 7, 2011

TempleCon 2011 aftermath, Post #3: Battlestar Galactica

So, we had talked about all the ways we were going to do Galactica, but the only time we got to play was starting at 1am and nobody wanted to deal with any all-new game-extending rules.
So Ionian Nebula (and New Caprica) were shelved for yet another day.

The players were (along with their final loyalties):
Me - Cally - Human
Prescott - Leoben - Cylon Leader with a Humans Win Agenda (the one where there are 2 resources that need to be within 2 of each other)
Matt H - Baltar - Cylon
Tony - Gaeta - Human (maybe Final Five, but it didn't come up)
Matt M - Starbuck - Human
Jen - Apollo - Human

So, yes, we got the odd case with a properly-created Exodus Loyalty Deck where the other You Are A Cylon card was on the bottom of the deck and never drawn.

We did suspect Gaeta of being a Cylon after our first jump; we were lowish on fuel and he chose 3 Distance for 3 Fuel. But it turned out to be the better choice after all.

Baltar did some suspicious stuff, and then overjustified his actions, which is a sign of a cylon player. Eventually, he gave up and chose the obvious-cylon option on a President Chooses crisis (one that gave us -1 fuel amongst other things).

So, Cally took a shuttle over to the President's office and delivered a very special gift (her OPG), confirming our theory.
Apollo was too busy in space to hold on to the President Title, so I called a vote to become Pres myself. And there was much rejoicing. Before the Baltar blood was cleaned out of the rug, his assassin took his place.

Despite the fact that Baltar was all on his lonesome as the evil Cylon, the game was pretty close. The humans took a concerted effort to cycle through the Purple Deck several times to be able to play Scouting For Fuel multiple times, which dug us out of a hole. There was even a short period of post-sleeper-phase time when all of our resources were in the blue, but there was also a massive raider swarm wiping out multiple Civilian Ships.

Starbuck had a Personal Goal (I didn't even see which one) but didn't want to reveal it and take the 50% chance of being on the loser Cylon side until after we had jumped to 7.

Leoben spent most of his game scouting the Human Fleet, and a little nervous that he wouldn't reach his personal goal, but ended up victorious.

In the end, yes, the Humans did win, and the Cylon felt like it was a given, but the board and cards weren't doing us any huge favors.
Very fun game, and a relatively short one (under 3 hours).

Still waiting for that shot at an alternate destination...

TempleCon 2011 aftermath, Post #2: Chaos in the Old World

Chaos in the Old World is a game that a lot of local VTES players (and non-VTES players in the same extended circle) have been raving about for months, and especially recently. They love playing the game so much, they want to start a whole League to play over and over and over and over.
I have been trying to arrange a time to play it for a few weeks, and TempleCon was that time.
After the finals of the VTES tournament on Saturday, at 10-something PM, I sat down to play Chaos.

We got random characters. I was assigned Khorne, the Blood God.
I was basically told "Your job is to kill things. When you kill things, your dial advances, and that's how you win. Ignore all the other rules."

So I followed the advice of the experienced players.

Every turn, I sent out my armies to kill guys. I upgraded my Cultists to be able to fight. I smashed and smashed and my die rolls were awesome and I got Dial Advancements. Phases went by with "Corruption" and "Domination" and I zoned out.
It was basically just following a script, and that script missed a turn because of an Event Card that said "discard this and draw a new Event Card".
So, the last turn started, and I was 3 "ticks" away from victory, and you can only advance 2 "ticks" in a turn. So I couldn't do anything to win.
I passed in the "buy phase", got up, and started setting up BSG (See Post #3).

This was one of the most boring experiences I've had with a game. I don't feel like I made any choices that made any difference.
What was I missing? Comments are welcome.

I'm willing to give the game a second chance, playing a different god, and seeing if those other mechanics improve my enjoyment.

But so far, Chaos in the Old World ranks a mere GR in my book.

TempleCon 2011 aftermath, Post #1: VTES

Ah, VtES. The reason I know about TempleCon, the reason I know most of the people I saw over the weekend, and part of the reason for my little corner of fame in the gamerverse.

First tournament: Friday night

Not much to write home about here.
I got to TempleCon just in time to turn round 2 of the Friday VTES tournament into 20 players. I played my Malabranca Breed-Boon-PallaGrande deck, and got crushed by a Ventrue Law Firm deck (played by Amber). Nothing notable happened. I don't even remember the rest of the table.

Qualifier: Saturday
After a little bit of Glen More and time-wasting Drafting in the morning, we were ready to play the main event. There were 27 players.

I ended up playing a Kiasyd Stealth Bleed But A Little Toolboxy deck, along with at 3 other people playing more-or-less the same exact crypt.

Round 1

Round 1 was a 4-player table.
Me-> Dave C (Gangrel fight) -> Amber (Setites) -> Peter K (!Tremere toolbox?)

Peter got out Valerius (the version who shuts down obfuscate, great defense for being the prey of setites), Antonio d'Erlette, and a few Nephandi.

I happened to be drawing most of my Deflections early on, and Peter was "irresponsibly" firing bleeds of 2-3 down the pipe to "test the waters". In addition to my own Stealth Bleedy Sleaze, Dave really didn't have a chance.
He was ousted before he could say "Raven Spy".
I ended up playing Pentex Subversion on Amber's poor little 2-cap to wipe her out, and then Peter just couldn't handle my obt/myt stealth and all of the bleed action cards I hadn't had to waste yet.
Table sweep for me!

Round 2

Round 2 was also 4 players, which actually worked out in my favor.

Me -> Mark (Tor/!Tor aus/cel gun deck, I think) -> John W (Enkidu) -> Adam (!Tor palla grande something?)

Why don't I know what my prey and predator were playing?
Well, when we sat down, Adam warned us that John was playing Enkidu (they're both from the New York Crew).
Turn 1, my prey disregarded this warning, and played Dragonbound.
As soon as my prey brought out Sheila Mezarin, John dropped a Pentex on her. As soon as Adam brought out any minion at all, Enkidu smushed them.
But Enkidu didn't have any backup friends. Just a bunch of 1 caps.

I decided to sit pretty where I was, and let my prey attempt to rebuild himself.
He was unable to burn the Pentex, and I pretty much could have ousted him any time I wanted, but I preferred the meat-shield.
I sat back and let the Dragonbound pluck at the table (including Enkidu's controller himself) and held back my bleeds, just playing a few cards to cycle, pretty much until I drew into my own Pentex Subversion.
At that point, I contested it cross-table, Adam was ousted, and I still gave my prey a bit of a chance to go forward with un-Pentexed Sheila for a little while. When the time was right (Enkidu low on blood didn't hurt), I ousted my prey, survived Enkidu's last turn as an acting minion, dunked his last 1-cap, and then fired the bleed cannons. Easy 3VPs.

I don't often get 1 Game Win in big tournaments, never mind 2, so I was pretty excited.

Round 3

But then came Round 3.
In Round 3, a 5-player table, it was something like this:
Me -> some prey I don't remember -> Dave Z (same deck as me) -> someone else I don't remember -> Ben P (same deck as me)

I kinda sat that one out. I tried, but I zeroed, and don't remember the details.

Final Round

In the Finals, there were "only" 2 Kiasyd decks; me and Greg W (yes, someone I hadn't played with yet).
But between us was Randy....

An aside about Randy

Randy is a player from Sweden, who recently moved to Florida, and came to TempleCon just because I was talking about it on IRC a few days ago. It's nice to be able to pick up and do stuff like that.

Ahem, back to the finals...

Me -> Randy (deck description below) -> Greg (Kiasyd) -> Sonam (Giovanni Bruise Bleed with Sewer Lids) -> Prescott (Cornelius and Quira and ..?)

Randy was playing a variation on a deck that is apparently "going around" these days: Cybele, Aksinya, lots of other huge vampires with +bleed, and a library with about 75% master cards.

I just couldn't do anything about that.
I could bleed big and get bounced (either by Aksinya's special or Lost in Translation) or Archon Investigated.. or he could just not care because he was bloating so much... or I could bleed small and he still didn't care. Not to mention I was already trying to defend myself against OBF and +bleed upstream...
Suffice it to say, Randy swept the table. And won the tournament, fair and square.
It was totally worth his trip.

All-in-all I enjoyed the event, and am proud of my performance (even if it was sleazy, boring, and just plain lucky).

...and then we played Chaos and Galactica (see future posts).

Sunday: the Free Draft

Matt has a ton of extra starter decks and boosters.
So we got free cards, and drafted. Choice of a large selection of packs.
I played the Ishtarri, added a few things, but maybe made the deck too small.

In Round 1, I ousted my prey (KoT Toreador starter) with the things that Ishtarri usually do (big bleed at 2 stealth as the first action of every turn, etc). But it took pretty much my whole deck to do so.
I was down to an empty deck, but just managed to squeeze in my second oust (!Tremere) before getting combatted and death-of-a-thousand-cutted by the !Gangrel deck.

At this point, people needed to catch flights and stuff, but we cobbled together a set of second rounds... In the second round, I got identified as a table threat, still managing to run out of deck but I don't think I actually got an oust.. we were all getting punchy and not really caring what we were doing now anyway.
And we just didn't do a final round.
Still, the act of drafting and playing even a single round is still something fun...

So that's pretty much it for the notable VTES of the weekend.
Please leave comments here if you want any more details, of course.

TempleCon 2011 aftermath: Post #0

I'm back from TempleCon, and I have decided to break up my posts by game experience, rather than a running narrative of the whole weekend. So, expect more posts throughout the next day or 2. VTES, Chaos in the Old World, Battlestar Galactica, and Glen More might even get its own entry.

Overall, I enjoyed the weekend a lot.
TempleCon definitely reinforced my desire to attempt to make some time amongst the friend-circles to dedicate to random boardgaming. There just wasn't enough time in the weekend to do all the gaming I wanted to do plus VTES, especially with those crazy people who think that 7:30am is too early to wake up!
Here's another brief plug for my "Play Games With Josh" list. Maybe we'll be able to schedule something in February.

Thanks to Matt and Pete for not only showing up, but giving me free crash space on the couch in their suite, even if I barely slept there for more than a couple of hours.

There were lots of notably missing faces from TempleCon this year :(
but there were also some unexpected out-of-towners :)
Good to see Matt and Pete, Dave and Robyn, the New York Crew, and to meet Randy in person (who ended up making his trip from Florida worth it, see the VTES entry).

I don't know if Grant and/or Ximon read this blog, but congratulations and thanks to them (and the rest of their staff) for once again running a smooth, excellent, fun, hassle-free convention.
And thanks to whoever controls the weather machines in New England for at least giving us (and my wife back home) a reprieve from the snowstorms for this weekend.

Alright.. Coming soon, Post #1: VTES (the supposed reason I was at TempleCon in the first place)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's no longer a very Small World, but it's more expensive and faster.

So, I got myself just enough Really Useful Boxes, of various sizes and colors, to pack up Small World in such a way that you can "just pass the race tokens over" to the person who chooses that race; should speed up the game, or at least cleanup.

All in all, my Small World storage now consists of about 40 Really Useful Boxes, including the 17-liter giant box holding everything, including the original box.
I could post some pictures, but they really won't do it justice.

But for reference, this is how big the 17L box is:
External: 18 7⁄8" x 15 3⁄8" x 8"
Whereas the original game box is more like 12 x 12 x 4

It's comically huge, but still very much portable in a single coherent unit.

Galactica has a bunch of smaller R.U.B.s now, too, but everything for that still fits inside the Exodus box.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Play Games With Josh

I felt bad about constantly attempting to schedule gaming nights on facebook and/or exploiting the vtes boston mailing list, so I went ahead and created a Google Group.

If you're interested in ever getting together with me for playing boardgames (currently, I have Wednesday Nights bookmarked for the activity), or want to discuss and overanalyze rules, and occasionally design variants or playtest new ideas, come on over and subscribe:
Play Games With Josh

Friday, January 21, 2011

Really Useful Boxes (yet another thrilling post about storage)

Really Useful Boxes are really useful.
Heard about them on boardgamegeek, found out that they have them at OfficeMax, and bought a bunch.
Not completely abandoning tackleboxes and ziplok bags, but Really Useful Boxes come in small enough sizes that it's great for pieces that get passed around (Small World races, if I really want to buy that many), or need to be "put back in the box" frequently (BSG ships).
They also come in gigantic sizes and lots of sizes in between, and they're nicely scaled. But for now, I'm sticking with the smallish ones.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Battlestar Galactica - a shaky Exodus

First game with Exodus components, played on Martin Luther King Day.
Four players, several mechanical errors, but still a great experience.

The four players were:

Me - Tory - Human + "10 raiders or -1 Population" Personal Goal
Jen - Starbuck - Human
Matt - Caprica 6 - Salvage Their Equipment
Kevin - Gaeta - Final Five (Brig for looking) + Cylon

Mistake #1: I decided to prepare the game so we could get right into it when the guests arrived. I set up the Loyalty Deck for 8 players, not remembering to re-do it after we had a Cylon Leader. So there was an extra card in there.
Which we didn't discover until the sleeper phase.
We decided to leave it alone, and just not add a YANAC card during the first Execution to follow. (There hadn't been any Executions yet, and SPOILER: no successful executions for the rest of the game)

"Luckily", the Cylon card did come up at Sleeper Phase (in Kevin's hands), but the error did cast a little bit of doubt as to whether we had a Cylon at all (other than Matt) for a long time.

I unfortunately discovered Kevin's Final Five Loyalty early on, and was sent to the brig. So later on, even though we suspected him of being a Cylon, it was less than a good idea to check on him.

Post-sleeper phase, there was also an odd skillcheck which I think I spiked with an extra yellow card by accident (although I can't confirm it). It drew suspicion on me, but I pointed the finger at Kevin, saying a clever cylon would spike the check with yellow to draw suspicion to me. Turns out I was right, for the wrong reasons.

As Tory, I ended up drawing quite a bit of Blue cards after Quorum cards got played, and I had to be the grease monkey for some of the game.
But I must say, I still don't really "get" yellow cards, except for Investigative Committee. In all of my games of BSG, I have never played a Consolidate Power.
I think I'm done playing Political characters for awhile.

I should mention that we played this game with the Cylon Fleet option as well as Conflicted Loyalties, but left the Nebula in the box; that's being saved for TempleCon.
Matt spent quite a bit of time sitting on the Basestar Bridge pushing the jump track backwards, which partially contributed to the game lasting nearly 5 hours (!). Also, even without Cylon Attacks, we drew a whole lot of crises without jumps.
We had 10 Raiders on the board a few times, but I never found the right time to reveal my Goal, and Population was never running low.

Pegasus locations, for some reason, didn't get much use, except a few airlock attempts after we were sure that Gaeta was a Cylon.

At one point, Starbuck held all 3 titles.
Starbuck as CAG felt like playing Dominion, with all of her different sources of extra Actions.

Gaeta's Reveal power was "put a Centurion on the track", but he never Revealed. He spent several turns in the Brig (after he had used his OPG and gone back in), knowing he was a Cylon; he had some sort of plan he was never able to pull off.

In the end, with Morale and Fuel at 1, and Food somewhere in the red, but with Population in the blue, we Humans pulled off a win at a cost of 4 Pop. (-3, plus my personal goal failure).

I can't think of any other interesting moments; it was a 5 hour game, and lots of stuff happened (slowly), but I will add to this post if I think of anything else.

I will definitely say, the Cylon Fleet option is way better than the randomness of Cylon Attacks, and keeps both Pilots and Repair Monkeys much busier than they were before.

Exodus gets a GRRRRR for sure!