The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Four Score and Seven Years ago ….

with 5 comments

is approximately when I ordered 1846 from DTG. And now I have a copy (from GMT). It will probably be several weeks before I get to play it, but the production values are nice. I’m not sure where I stand on the thick tiles, but they look nice (in the box) and the box is big enough to hold everything (I haven’t thrown away the insert yet, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time).

Written by taogaming

October 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,

Stopping Sauron at the Green Lantern Inn

with one comment

So, as I mentioned before, I borrowed a copy of Darkest Night. Darkest Night is a Tolkien/D&D -esque game of stopping the big bad (necromancer) with a plucky quartet of characters and a baby unicorn named ‘Uni’.

And I’ll admit I was intrigued. Looking through the components each character had a little deck of ten power cards, so a lot of differences in a small space. But as I read the rules I became less and less intrigued. This follows the standard “Draw a bad card, do a good action” on each heroes turn, but there’s just way too much randomness and downtime. Lots of the heroes actions are “Roll a die and if you succeed draw a reward” or “Fight the opposing minion by rolling 2-3 dice” (in general, you need a single result greater or equal to four or five).

Nonetheless, TaoLing and I set out to save the realm. The Necromancer wanders around dropping minions, which you can (and mostly should) ignore as much as possible, in order to search for the MacGuffins of Power, which give you a +1 on all rolls. You need at least one MacGuffin to win, because it takes a 7 to hit His Royal Deadness, aka Baron von Groovy. And — like any good mastermind, if you happen to kill him when a henchman is nearby, it doesn’t take. Like the man says, he doesn’t have to outrun the Bear and Druid, he just has to outrun his underlings.

And — as an added annoyance — for the good guys moving is a full turn. So lets see what our priest did.
T1 — Move to the Mountains
T2 — Search, fail
T3 — Search, succeed, get a key (1/3rd of a MacGuffin)
T4 — Move away, because Baron von Groovy was in the area
T5 — Search the castle, get a new power!
T6 — Search the castle, get a new power!
T7 — Back to the mountains, nothing.
T8 — Failed searches
T9 — Key
T10 — Kill the minion (to start making BvG weaker) and pass the keys off to the druid, who was best equipped to fight the minion.

Can’t you just smell the excitement? The Priest had then exhausted his grace (which is used to not die when you should, among other things) so took a turn to move back to the monastery and pray …. roll some dice to get grace back. (On average, you get a big over 1 a turn! Granted, the priest does this better). And he later went out for more keys.

Now, my wizard had a bit more to do, since he could teleport and zap and cancel, but he still spent about every 4th turn hiding (do nothing, reset powers).

The last 5-7 turns of the game saw our heroes sitting still pounding the necromancer’s minions (since he spawns some each turn) while sucking up damage from Mr. “I’m all that” and trying to kill the bad guy. But even 4 dice (a lot) needing a six (which the MacGuffin turns into a seven) is still a 50/50, and we often only had 3 dice. So some turns were prep, and others fighting.

We eventually smote the necromancer, the land rejoiced, and squirrels frolicked in the dew laden fields.

And while we all thought our deeds should live on in song forever and ever the bard sounded terrible. So we all just agreed to never talk about the dark times again.

RatingIndifferent, barely above avoid.

Written by taogaming

October 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with

A mostly throwback Game day

with one comment

Went to a lovely little game day (Thanks, Anne!). Let’s see:

Still lovely games with no change in my opinion — Shadow Hunters, Roll for the Galaxy, Bohnanza (classic throwback!), Fast Food Franchise (double-classic-throwback!).

I’m not as big a Codenames fan as most, but its a good game. I just think it’s an every now and then game. Still, my causing a loss when I forgot (in the heat of the moment) that “Jump’ would naturally be paired with “Shark” was amusing. And I did play three games (although one ended on the first clue, and no, it was not a Shark jumping).

I played two games of The Grizzled, and the expansion adds a few more elements and (arguably) makes the game winnable. In fact, we won the second game. In fact, making the experience more game like and less artistic let me enjoy it more although it will always be at least mildly haunting.

I was not a huge fan of Skull (formerly Skull and Roses) but the game revealed a lot to me this time around. I’m still indifferent, but I’m leaning more towards I+ than I-.

We also punched and tried out Micro Robots, which is just a small version of Ricochet Robot. But its abstract instead of spatial. You have a 6×6 grid of dice of various colors and can only move (horizontally or vertically) from a die to one that shares either a number or a color. (You can stop wherever, unlike RR, if the main rule is met). This means you may need to move back and forth on the same line to move one step. Like

Red 6 – Orange 5 – Pink 1 – Orange 2 – Pink 6  – Red 5

To get from Pink 1 to Orange 2  you need to go Pink 1 –> Pink 6 –> Red 6 –> Red 5 –> Orange 5–>Orange 2.

But there are two dimensions. Anyway, turning the map from ‘spatial’ to more abstract apparently throws a lot of people off and makes the game much tougher. I suppose this is part of the Wason effect, that the brain cannot move from concrete to abstract very well. In any case, I find the joy in Ricochet Robots in the interplay of bouncing intermediate robots to use as waypoints, so this lacks that, so this is an Indifferent – (but its so fast that I can’t really call it avoid).

I also borrowed a copy of Darkest Night, because I’ve been wanting to try it and it plays solitaire.

Written by taogaming

October 16, 2016 at 9:28 am

Check out my fifty by fifty geeklist for the latest update!

Go on, do the needful. I’ll probably be getting at least another two title onto the list fairly soon. But I need to be working the games that are in the 30s, not the ones pushing 50.

Written by taogaming

October 9, 2016 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Eclipse, Session Reports

Tagged with

Bright Lights, Bad Kitty

So, the TaoLing got the new Machi Koro for his birthday. I would have recommended he save his money, because the scuttlebutt was that it was not great value — especially since we already have Machi Koro. But  I was not consulted. So — how does it play?

Bad Kitty has a number of incremental improvements over base game plus harbor:

  1. Instead of having 10 available cards, you have 5 ‘cheap’ (1-6 cost) cards and 5 expensive (7+) cards and two purple cards (which are their own stack). This is a good idea. You could replicate this by sleeving your game with three different colors, or just stacking them. I’ll probably steal this.
  2. The 22 cost development is “Roll three dice, choose 2” which seems better, and is also liftable into the base game.
  3. There are a few new buildings.

The new buildings are decent. The Member’s only club is a red 12-14 that steals all of an opponents money, if they have 3+ developments finished. The french restaurant is a ‘5’ red that steals 5 if they have 2+ developments finished. There is a building that forces you to undevelop one of your developments, but pays $8. And another building that forces you to give up a building to an opponent for $4.

So? My opinion? This is a perfectly fine version of Machi Koro with a few nice improvements, but not worth $30 if you already have it. [I am ignoring the much worse box insert, with which I agree, and complaints about poor card quality, which I did not notice].

Rating — Whatever your rating of Machi Koro is, roughly. For me? Suggest.

Written by taogaming

October 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Sweet Saturnalia

Some random thoughts for a random day:

  • Man, Attika is good. It’s been too long.
  • Luke Cage — fine.
  • I suppose I should say good — I finished in six days, although today was a sick day … but all of Netflix’s Marvel shows could stand to lose 3-5 episodes. More tone than plot (not that I’m against that), Luke Cage easily had the best ensemble cast of any of them.
  • The CW superhero shows are now dropping, so that will be next (I’ve heard that Arrow tanked last year, so I’ll start with Flash).
  • Played Eclipse vs the TaoLing when he got home from school (since I was home). I was about to get schooled (I randomly took the Orbital guys, Aidan picked Hydran) after The Boy drew not one but two “Advanced Research” double pink tiles early on. But the worm turned. On Turn 4 the Hydran super cruisers (Anti-Matter Cannons and +6 to hit and initiative, using the discovery power to fuel it!) attacked two aliens and rolled — snake eyes. Then the Aliens wipe two cruisers (because they had zero hull). Down ten material and then lose a world because the Hydran’s banked on that orange planet to cover expenses…. Even then I might have lost except he had another minor set back so I could use the GCDS as a screen for most of the game.
  • 1846 is charging, so looks like I’ll get a new game in a moth or so. And Jump Drive maybe this year…
  • My 50 by 50 geeklist hasn’t had any additions in a while, but several games are inching their way towards fifty. (I’ve played six games that were in the 25-49 category this week). In fact, I almost played my fiftieth game of a title today, but I wasn’t in the mood. Still, it will take a concerted effort to finish in time….
  • If you know Mrs. Tao, you may want to shoot her a congratulatory email, as her new job title is “Intern.” (She’s starting work as a programmer).

Written by taogaming

October 5, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Eclipse, Misc, Session Reports

Tagged with , , ,

Another game of title:subtitle:subsubtitle

(also known as ‘the new QMG’). (Does that make the original the OqmG? Hm).

This was another good game, but it did reveal a potential cause for worry — Many of the status cards are in the following format:

During a scoring round if you have a unit in or adjacent to Foo and (the other side) does not have a unit in or adjacent to Foo, gain +2 points.

These are — as you can imagine — pretty big deals. It seems like there are a handful of these 4-5 per deck (although I think Athens/Sparta have fewer and their allies have more). But what worries me is that Sparta has a card that says “Gain +1 VP when you kill a hoplite on your turn.”

Unlike the other cards, there’s no counter. If you get the Scoring card for Sicily, you may get up to 10 points a game, but the opponents can counter. And if you don’t get it, well, you probably got the status for Lesbos. But if Sparta draws this card, it’s ~6 uncounterable points early, and if they don’t, well, that’s six fewer.

Since QMG (either flavor) has a lot of tempo issues, the turn to place this early is a problem, but I do wonder if its a coincidence that the game Sparta didn’t draw this had an Athenian win (on round 9, IIRC) and the game where Sparta played this card early went the distance and had a narrow Oligarch win. [The win was more the result of Athens getting decked, which cost 3 VPs, which swung the margin of Victory].

One card wasn’t to blame, by any means, but I am now watching this as a balance issue

Written by taogaming

October 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm