Well four years after starting, I finally finished Dark Souls 2, my second victory over the requirement of getting gud to beat one of the Souls game. I got invaded, I sunbro’d, I used a hint guide I got when I got the game on launch day (which was totally inaccurate most of the time!) I used help whenever I could just to get through it as quickly as possible.
Given that this is a Souls game, and considered the worst of the three, this game still blows nearly all other video games out of the water. It’s so brilliant about showing you early what you are going to go up against, teasing you into thinking your are getting the hang of it, and then throwing you into something totally different from what you faced before in order to test your character build, skills and intuition. The game trolls the player constantly and despite what appears to be an entirely bleak and unforgiving game– there are threads of humor throughout the game of the blackest sort.
The story in this one felt a bit more disjointed than the first. Not that this will be spoilers but again you have several cities and areas that have fallen to the curse of undeath, and to reverse the curse (on yourself) you have to kill a ton of stuff. This one has giants, dragons, undeads and a lot of these Ogre things that you can’t help but shoot in the ass with fire arrows.
My favorite areas in the game were probably the Iron Keep (think of a citadel sinking into lava) and No-Man’s Wharf which was both Spanish and Viking… pirates? There was a part like Blightown from the first game, which was not quite as annoying: again, the developers are trolling you so they have to put in some vertical madness or it just wouldn’t be a Souls game.
Boss wise, I really liked the Undead Chariot, despite it being fucking super annoying. The Mirror Knight was really cool (but and easy fight for the most part). The most intriguing boss was the Demon of Song, that got all these undead chicks to sing constantly to draw victims to it, sort of like sirens but they were all tricked into doing it.
It’s also amazing to me how the Souls game still retain tropes that are super common in fantasy games, but it just isn’t fucking cheesy. You DO fight a shit load of dragons and you DO rescue a princess from a tower. How plebian can you get? But this is SOULS, so the pain and anguish you had to endure to get there makes none of it cheeese at all. In fact I would say the only thing cheese in the game was my fucking build!
I did a classic tank and spank, with the Gyrm Great Shield (good against fire and physical damage also giving mega poise too) and the black knight greatsword (added damage with strength and faith). I used magic for the first time in a Souls game with heal and greater heal.
So there are some of you that don’t try these games because they are hard. YES. To solo a Dark Souls game you need to really ante up. However, the multiplayer in this game really really makes the game more playable if you don’t want to be super hardcore. Most of the bosses are very difficult vs just you– but if you bring a friend or rando in there you can waltz through all but the most difficult bosses (Smelter Demon). What I’m saying is that you can do it and don’t be shy about becoming human and summoning if you need to. Also, if you are sitting on a shitload of souls and don’t want to die at a boss– lay down your summoning sign and give help to others to practice fighting the boss before you go in there in your own game. It really helps.
Well, there’s a lot people have said and written about these games, and while I liked DS1 better (most of it anyway), DS2 is still an absolute classic that you should push through at least once. It totally stands the test of time graphically and gameplay wise, much like the first one. There will always be a place where you just feel so frustrated you have to stop for awhile, and the game absolutely demands that you learn a ton about how the weapons work, how to upgrade your shit properly, as well as how to execute on the gamepad, so it’s not for the casul Devil May Cry/ Bayonetta types (both great games). My next challenge is the (tons more difficult) Bloodborne and then it’s on to Dark Souls 3 (in 2-3 years….).
This is going to be a hellaciously long post because I have many thoughts on this game from both a mechanical perspective and a historical one.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a Skyrim-style first person RPG set in the early 1400’s in Czechoslovakia. The game is heavily political, unapologetic about it’s historical depiction, has a ‘git gud’ combat system/mechanics… and no magic. I asked myself many times while playing: how the hell did this get made?
Games have to appeal to the mass of gamers, especially open world type games that take millions upon millions of dollars to make, so how did a game set in a country that most Americans can’t even find on a map, about a local political situation that most American’s have never even heard of, with a steep learning curve and extremely historically accurate setting get this popular?
Well, it’s real good. Since most of you have played the new Zelda or Skyrim or one of the other open world RPG’s, I’m not going to go into what that type of game is much except to say that Kingdom Come, despite is core story line and despite it’s long story/tutorial/rails in the beginning, is an open world RPG, and one that should be reckoned with!
You play a specific character named Henry. You can’t alter his sex or appearance or voice or skin color at all. He is the son of a blacksmith in a small village next to a lord’s keep. None of this can be altered at all and this was a bit shocking to me until I got a bit into the story and realized these constraints were fantastic for the immersion and the quality of the narrative throughout the game. You have a ton of leeway how you play Henry, but you are him in this game and that’s that. In addition to looks, what you fight, what you want to swive, your lineage and how Henry is warped and weaved into the story is set, but how you go about doing everything else is up to you.
No spoilers, but things go very wrong for Henry, and like most good stories, Henry’s story is a story of revenge and the hero’s journey from country bumkin who can do jack and shit, to someone who hits like a sledgehammer, can sneak up on people and slit their throat in broad daylight and who has swived more whores than most holy roman emperors of the time.
Overall, the arc of the story is long, broken up into very interesting sections with lots of time in between most to jag around. You will learn a LOT about Czech, German and Holy Roman history and politics in this game and while this may seem tiresome, I was extremely impressed with the game’s lack of shyness around discussion of politics in cut scenes. What’s more they do not hold back on medieval brutality, rape, and slaughter of unarmed peasants. Yet the scenes of carnage and rape are made much more poignant because they seem wholly an anomaly in the verdant and peaceful villages and castles that make up most of the game. In addition to the revenge story which is an obvious driver, you also gain an affinity to the working way of life (even of the bandits and thieves) which is horrifically disrupted by events in the game.
The map to the game seems small at first, but there is a lot of detail. I felt completely lost many times in the woods, always looking back at the overhead map to see where to go. Even though the game feels populated, out in the wilds the forests go on and on without seeing anything of interest– so travel feels like it’s travel rather than the get to the fast travel spot and then fast travel back to where you came. There’s a lot to see and destroy and have sex with in the game.
Women in this game, it being the 1400’s, have traditional roles. You won’t see a transexual cyborg spouting a bunch of made up pronouns or taking on a male role in society. Nor did they sneak in some female-combat savant for the sake of inclusion (certainly, this existed with women pretending to be men in order to fight).
Lastly, the NPC’s are very well done even if it gets a little cheesy at the end with sort of a Kelley’s Heroes type of vibe.
I’m going to go through Combat, Stealth, Alchemy and the fast travel system. I’m not going to go into the haggle and social parts of the game just for the sake of brevity.
Combat is a bitch in this game and you will be glad if you put your lead shoes on in Dark Souls or Bloodborne before playing Kingdom Come. Those games teach you one thing that will help the most and that’s patience. Every fight has the potential to damage you if you are not careful and patient. Getting in fights with multiple opponents, unless you are heavily armored and experienced, will get Henry dead like very quickly. Combat is split into Sword work, Mace work, Axe work, and unarmed. Each of them follow the base combat system which is attack, parry and instant parry/counter attack and grapple. Your attacks can be combo-ed if you follow a rhythm of attacking and generate another attack the moment the first attack actually connects. This can be challenging for players who haven’t experienced say, Witcher 1, which has a similar rhythm combo system. You also have to control where your weapon is: either up, down or in the middle of the body. You can start an attack high and then switch to low or mid level during the attack which is quite fun. Henry has health and stamina and can also be damaged in various parts of his body, which causes problems regardless of your level of health/stamina.
Like Dark Souls, you use stamina to run and make attacks and block. If you get hit blocking with no stamina, you take damage and can get staggered, which is no fun at all. Fights without armor but with sharp weapons go rather quickly.
Unarmed combat, while it doesn’t happen often, is my favorite of the combat systems. You start fist fights early in the game during the tutorial when Henry is a fucking creamed puff extraordinaire, but later you get into many fist fights, sometimes protecting the women, sometimes fighting with friends, sometimes just to prove yourself and it’s awesome. Range, movement and timing are all critical components to good fisticuffs which really raised my cockles. I knew I had arrived wen I punched an armored knight out in a fight in a barn (his weapons were too slow and I was able to constantly hit-stun him until crushing his skull underfoot).
Sword work is typically used against the unarmored peasantry who are easy to slice open with a blade compared to the armored folks. Swords have the most attack combos and I can see them being very attractive for people that want to combo up. You also look cool with a big bastard sword, but for me, instead of a sword, I went for a mace.
Maces have very few attack combos, but do tons of damaged to armored foes, and still do enough damage to unarmored to warrant using them all the time. Henry can also get a perk where he can possibly knock anyone out with a headshot after which they can be killed via a coup de grace.
Axes I did not use much in my playthrough, so cannot comment, but they seem to fall between the sword and the mace.
Archery is VERY difficult in this game as you have to aim as you would in real life: down the bow and arrow without a reticle to help know exactly where you are aiming. Drawing back and shooting an arrow is also very slow, so in a fight or in just practice shooting, I had a lot of problems with archery in general throughout the game. However, it does help in mass-combat fights and to get at other archers. You can run away and shoot, hoping to take out a few of the peasant bandits or vs slower armored opponents, whittle them down. Overall though, except at close range, Archery is not something you can rely upon. You will need to learn it to some extent for the main plot.
While there is a lot of fighting, stealth (and lockpicking) are critical skills for Henry in the game. Your ability to sneak around effectively will make things a lot easier throughout. Early on, Henry is so clumsy that you have no hope at all of sneaking up on anyone, which can be very frustrating to new players who expect it to at least work some of the time based on other stealth games. Remember that Henry, from the outset, explicitly sucks ass at everything. You do get Henry better with practice, and eventually you are sneaking around in broad daylight. Getting caught in normal circumstances gets you laughed at or asked if you are taking a shit by bath maids. Getting caught in a place you’re not supposed to be can lead to a lot of problems.
Locking picking is essential and I can only say for new players: get your lockpicking skill as high as possible as soon as you can. There is a long part of the game where it’s essential. If you have played Skyrim, the lockpicking is familiar enough.
Alchemy is excellent, but fucking tedious. You need to actually craft the items on an alchemist bench and I don’t mean how skyrim does it where you pick your stuff and it makes a roll to see if it worked– nope: you have to physically guide Henry through the steps in the recipes you find in the game. For example, you will need to grab ingredients, put them in a pot of boiling water or spirits, and then cook them up for a specific amount of time tracked with an hourglass that you must manually turn. I ignored it for much of the game, but there’s a part where you must do it so just learn it.
Fast travel in the game is excellent. Instead of just appearing where you want to end up, your little avatar moves across the map and can encounter various things on the way which can drop you back into real time. Most of these are bandit ambushes. So it’s never guaranteed that you are just going to show up where you want to without being harassed, but it still functions as quite a time saver, especially later in the game when you’ve seen everything along a particular route many times.
Despite our differences on everything else, every race, gender and sexual orientation can agree on one thing: TITS. If you are going to play some of the romantic bits in Kingdom Come, note that there are tits and Henry gets down to fucking in the game. It’s not gratuitous, but enough to bring out the horny gamers for sure. Just make sure kids aren’t around when you are wooing or going to the bathhouse. There’s only one part of the main plot where you get greased up and fuck– the other nudie parts are optional and you will know when you are getting close to seeing tits in those. One of the side missions tits will sneak up on you during, so watch it if you are playing in front of your grand ma on the big TV in the living room.
Kingdom Come is an unbelievably immersive gaming experience, unrelenting in it’s depiction of life as a Czech during this time period. Some of it stands in stark contrast to modern existence and some of it is eerily similar. While the combat has a steep learning curve, coupled with Henry’s trash skills make it even more frustrating, pushing through so you can take out multiple enemies at once is very satisfying after taking such a beating for so long.
The writing is superb and the arc of the story, while nothing new, is well worth giving this bad boy a play through.
We started Lamentations of the Flame Princess up about 8 months ago as a break from 13th Age (which had been going on for a couple years there). I didn’t mean it to go that long, but Remy Pardue wasn’t as quick to be manhandled and burned and what happened after led to a bunch of…complications. This in addition to the normal adult scheduling problems that don’t allow any room for RPG’s at all without a ton of effort and planning made for something that should have taken a month or so take many months.
That said, I had a good time running LotFP, and we are going to continue the campaign with the same characters (the ones that survived that is) but with Mythras rather than LotFP.
The players (including myself) wanted something still low fantasy, with more meat to the characters and a better system for skills/ combat, experience etc. So why not go with the absolute best solution to all of those things: Mythras.
As I convert characters, I noticed that there is now a Roll20 characters sheet for Mythras games! This makes it a lot easier to play and even has a ton of fancy rolling mechanisms that will make my (easy) job of running the game easier.
One of the things I love about Mythras is that despite it’s apparent complexity, except for the magic systems and a few edge cases, I can run the game without the book at all. My only complaint about the complexity is that it’s difficult to change the GRADE of tasks because of the maths, and by difficult it’s really about combating an important tool for all GM’s to have: laziness. Post running Exalted 2E, I’ve pushed myself hard to re-acquire the trait that I had as a childe and teenage GM: laazzzzzziness. Don’t stress over the fucking super details, it’s just not worth it as long as you can cobble it all together in the session and then take good notes afterwards.
So Mythras here we come. In addition to Loz and Pete (the RQ6 /Mythras guys), I want to give a shout out to this guy: hkokko, who is responsible for a ton of content and templates on the Mythras encounter generator, which has and will make my life so much easier.
Anyway these are not necessarily from 2018, but just books that I took a fancy to throughout the year.
Shinobigami Modern Ninja Battle Game
I finally got the final PDF of the rules and printed them up and have read them cover to cover. If you like Hillfolk or Fiasco, you can see where they got all their inspiration for those games from (this and Tenra Bansho Zero). Looking forward to running this. I have not played this yet, so I can’t truly review the game itself.
Down Darker Trails
While this uses an inferior D100 system to Mythras, Down Darker Trails is an incredible supplement to CoC for the old West. It’s extremely thorough in it’s descriptions of the era and nature of roleplaying in the old west with monsters without getting totally overboard like Deadlands (which is cool too). The adventures in the back of the book aren’t too great, but it would be easy to wing something with this source material. With the rate at which I’m able to run games, this may never get played, but it’s a great read.
Runequest Glorantha/Guide to Glorantha
These are excellent RQ books, especially the Guide to Glorantha which finally laid out to me what the heck is going on. While RQ requires a lot of player knowledge of the setting, it’s much easier to have it all consolidated in a couple of books than all over the place. No matter what system you may choose to run RQ with, the Guide to Glorantha is a must read.
For play in 2018 year, we continued the Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign, but some of the players got sick of the non-levelling up and general low power level of the game (with silver=experience, it can be rough to level up), so we are going to switch to Mythras after the current campaign arc is done.
My favorite game from 2018 is probably DCC, we’ve had a lot of fun with friends and the kids with the game and adventures. My favorite RPG event of last year was the 2 day 13th Age level 1-6 switching GM’s every 3 hours.
I want to do a serious post about my thoughts on 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, the system and where I think it’s great and where I think it’s sort of lacking.
We had our monthly Straahd session a week or so back and it was a good one, we ended up in our first (that I was there for) combat with the vampire himself and one of the characters was completely destroyed in a single round, which always keeps you honest.
While I think 5E is excellent, there are times when, compared to my other d20 faves (13th Age and DCC) it can fall flat like when BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT
I first saw this Anime on netflix years ago, watching only the first episode. We just had a kid and I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved at the time. You can tell from the first episode, it’s going to be a series that rewards close attention. My first draw was that Shigurui looked like the art style of Ninja Scroll with some of the same animators and, of course, it is, which should tell you something about it’s quality. For those of us that grew up with Ninja Scroll as the GOLD STANDARD (along with Akira) for Anime, Shigurui is like Ninja Scroll all fucking grown up.
From the outset, I want to highly recommend this anime with almost zero caveats… maybe just two. First, it’s very dark and violent along the lines of 13 Assassins but a bit worse. Second it is UNFINISHED. There is no resolution to the entire story, as that would have taken most of a second season which was never made. You never get to see what happens in the end, which a tough pill as things are set up in the first episode for a climactic battle, yet most of the series is a flashback that never flashes forward again! How can you get the full story? You have to read the manga. That said, while incomplete, this is a masterpiece of anime.
What’s is Shigurui about? Like the film 13 Assassins, the series takes place during a peaceful era after the ‘warring states’ period in Japan. And again, like 13 Assassins, a relative of the shogun is a Daimyo of a province and a full bore psychopath, one who dreams of a more violent era, regardless of the fact that he lives in lazy splendor and can kill servants on a whim. At the beginning of the first show we see him getting his head lopped off in a seppuku ceremony– one in which he ONLY touches the fan–he isn’t even given the time to touch the fan to his abdomen as is traditional– the executioner just lopped his head right off! So he must have done something more than raping and killing peasantry right? Right.
We then have a first flashback to a one armed man and a blind man about to duel to the death in front of said Daimyo. They prepare to fight and then another flashback occurs when one of the men (the blind one, but no longer blind) steps into a dojo. The other combatant is there and neither have any injuries (yet). The show moves on to show the rivalry of these two men at the dojo, but then turns into something very different towards the end.
Add to this the fact that the master of the Kogan-Ryuu dojo is insane, and lies in a state of dementia for most of the show, however, he has massive parts in the series when he is in his right mind and is probably the most dangerous character in terms of ability to apply violence.
The show and manga has everything samurai you can imagine–various fighting styles, ‘magical’ or unlucky swords, western sword styles, rival schools. You know how Game of Thrones very much includes nearly every fantasy trope and most of the ‘fantasy’ races without being like a bad Forgotten Realms based Dungeons and Dragons movie? Shigurui HAS all the samurai tropes, it just presents them in such a way–again, much like ninja scroll– that helps you forget that you are seeing/reading about the same old tired stuff that showed up during the ninja and samurai craze in the 80’s.
The meat of the show outside of the character development are the various fighting styles. The fighting styles are extremely well detailed, and will have you thinking quite a bit about it as the learning of the two protagonists increases and they not only learn the secrets from the master, but come up with their own modifications and evolution to the styles. Having read the manga, I can say that this continues well into the second half of the series and ends spectacularly.
One other thing I really like is that if you look up the series in google and do an image search, you cannot find out what happens in the final duel. The manga author has many dream sequences and day dreams where BOTH of the main antagonists are show to be killed or terribly wounded during the final fight, so it’s impossible without reading the manga to get spoiled by the internet. The picture you are looking at with the guy with one arm’s face cut off could be during the final duel, or could be a dream sequence.
The only mechanical system that would be able to handle Shigurui’s level of combat depth and manner of wounds, is, of course, Mythras. Most of the sword fights are over in a SINGLE stroke, which is simply not possible with D20 systems that use hit points, nor WFRP, nor 13th Age. Story games would not effectively simulate the fights without far to heavy narrative control: you may as well just play with action figures at that point rather than roll dice.
In Mythras, both of the protagonists would have over 100% in their relevant sword skills (in the Kogan style), and you would probably need to break out different weapons having different skills (such as the shorter sword, the longer katana’s, and the big honking club thing one of the characters uses, and two swords at once).
One other thing that may be difficult in any RPG, even Mythras, is that the Kogan-Ryuu sword school students NEVER parry. This means that the swordsman that strikes at the higher strike rank and hits is going to need to score a heavy wound most of the time to not himself be killed, but vs another Kogan swordsman, he will get a special effect straight away since there is no parry.
In order to simulate the sword styles, I would give special traits when characters got to 90 %, 100% and finally 120% skill levels, so every style would have three traits. These are usually only given once to an entire style in the core game, but it should not break anything to give more, especially at such high skill levels.
I would also recommend using the advanced range and distance rules. There are a couple of the fights in Shigurui where the range is critical. In fact the first Kogan style trait I would add at 90% mastery would be that the sword used counts as one level up in terms of weapon length.
Passions can also be very useful in this type of game, as they could boost combat skills in certain situations to god-like levels. Getting close to 10% chance of a critical is scary– 14-17% is insane. Anyway, a game with Mythras where on one wears armor and no one parries could be very interesting…
Night of Blood is a classic WFRP adventure and it’s free on Drivethru RPG.
I partially ran this one in college– the players didn’t take the bait due to ‘running away from some baron’s men’ factor and avoided the fun. There are many, many adventures influenced by this one, including 2-3 DCC ones I can think of off the top of my head that are now ALSO classics.
I haven’t picked up WFRP 4 yet, but it’s bound to happen eventually.
The Shinobigami Modern Ninja Battle game final PDF just dropped for Kickstarter backers. This is VERY late as we were supposed to have the printed book by now according to the original timeline. SBGMNBG was going to go on my fucked kickstarter list for 2018 but for the fact that they released a playable draft in the original Japanese layout very early after the kickstarter, character sheets and the battle sheet– so you had what you needed to play, absolved them of being considered fucked. Also, these are the guys that did Tenra Bansho Zero and Ryuutama, so this thing has been worth the wait.
So what the fuck is this game? Shinobigami is a single session Japanese RPG by the Adventure Planning Service produced in English by Kotodama Heavy Industries, where you play as a single ninja trying to fulfill their secret goals in some sort of scenario set up by the GM. The closest games to it that I’ve played are Carolina Death Crawl and Hillfolk, but Shinobigami seems to have more of a board gamey feel to it than those. There are a number of ’rounds’ and each round all characters and important NPC’s have a ‘scene’ which they control the start of the narrative and setting whether having a discussion or trying to fight someone. This leads up to a climax scene where the remaining characters may be trying to take out a powerful NPC or free for all to fulfill their characters goals. Yes, you read that right, RPG PVP, something very difficult to pull off well.
Your character has a bunch of ninja skills that can include stuff like Cooking, Torture or Apparel– all of which can be used to fight people because you are a ninja and everything you do can be deadly as fuck. Characters also have the obligatory nimpo as well as a very powerful attack that can tear up anything but leaves the character super vulnerable later.
Combat ahhhh– I can’t really comment on it before actually getting stuck in as it’s quite strange, like Ryuutama, using an abstract board.
Needless to say, I’m fired up to run a game. I hate reading rules on a screen/ipad and was going to wait until the book came out– which you may have to if you aren’t in on the kickstarter, but I may just print the damn thing out and get greased up.
While I think any multi-session or long term ‘story game’ is going to be a bust and end up super tiring and annoying (FATE, Dungeon World, etc.), these single or limited session games like Shinobigami, Feng Shui, Carolina Death Crawl, Tenra Bansho and Hillfolk are cooking with gas. To me these story games are like going out to eat at a well-appointed restaurant. You go once in awhile and it’s great but if you go too much it’s just a series of gastrointestinal issues such as sharting in Walmart, needing a manpon at work all day or just lying on the ground with constipation cramps even after drinking pickle juice. No one wants that, regardless of the mouthfeels when you are bellied up to the slops. What you want 95% of the time is just a simple home cooked meal and that’s DCC, D&D and it’s ilk, WFRP and Mythras (and yeah, if you can stand it, stuff like Rifts), but for that 5% of the time when you are bored of the lack of innovation in the OSR (imagine that…), or RPG’s in general and want to try something minty fresh– yet Tenra Bansho Zero looks like too much work to cook up–Shinobigami smells like pretty awesome eats. It also will make Steve uncomfortable on account of the required improv.
Got to Gamehole con Friday and Saturday to good effect. Yet, again I think it’s the best con in Wisconsin aside from Gary Con, which is great on account of it’s location in Lake Geneva and it’s focus on old school RPG’s (which includes the current incarnation of D&D).
The dealer hall was small, but had a good selection. There was one vendor that had superlative deals on board games (like you’d see on Amazon) and that was a feeding frenzy. I had to get out of there without spending anything, but my friend’s certainly did.
Friday was all board games, all damn day and it was great. I like to try stuff either from my collection or from other people’s that I haven’t tried before so that’s what we did. Saturday we played Numenera for half the day and then got back into the board games. ALL of my events were apparently cancelled so I wasted some money on those. Michael Curtis’s DCC events were all gone, so that sucked.
First up was a co-op called Batman the Animated Series. Most of the time I despise the co-op games and avoid them as much as possible on account of the quarterbacking issue and most of them are pretty boring after more than one or two plays. This was a decent game. Moved fast, was not super quarterbacky and we were playing with the designer (Mike) who did give suggestions on what to do, but he wasn’t like I would be if I knew the game (i.e.: terrible). Actions are definitive and you can really do a lot of crazy stuff in order to meet the Act’s goals. The buildings are neat but they block line of sight to the other parts of the city a bit if you are sitting down. I could see this ‘engine’ being great for a game of alien invasion (say the Invid from Robotech) BUT where each player has a secret goal as well as the goal of saving the world to shut down any possibility of quarterbacking.
Matt caught Eric Lang walking around and talked to him about Rising Sun (a great game) and other stuff.
Saga of the Norsemen. This is an area control point salad game. I remember them playtesting this up at Game Universe a few years back. This is not a bad game at all, but has some typos that caused MASS confusion when we first started (Chieftains are heroes or?? what). Overall though I think this plays solid with enough people. You try to influence the Viking countries (by having the most influence in each which is handled by card draws) and direct where they go viking so you can get the spoils. I’m not sure who YOU are supposed to be in the game (an arms dealer? a viking god?). Matt did not like this one all that much, but better than the next one.
Bunny Kingdom. This is a drafting area control point salad. In fact it is probably the ultimate in this type of game. I liked it at first but as the game wore on there was a lot of maths and then more maths. There are people that will love this game– trying to squeeze out point here and there and set up comboes, but near the end of the game it was obvious the winner had been determined during the third turn and there was no catching up. Neither of the other players dug this much. Very EASY to play though. This made me simply want to play Feudality by Tom Wham.
Next up was Victory Or Death (a Quartermaster General game). I have a thing for the long, terrible war between Sparta and Athens which ended up completely pointless and could have destroyed Western civilization as we know it. This game pits Corinth and Sparta vs the Delian League and Athens in the typical ‘card deck is your economy and war powers’ quartermaster game. Needless to say, if you like 1914, you will dig this game. I enjoy the theme a lot more despite the fact that I got my ass kicked as the Delian League/Athens vs Justin and Matt. I do take consolation that the Spartans were terribly frustrated during the game with all of their attempts to do anything shut the fuck down, and it was Corinth that eventually took Athens. The supply rules in this game are a bit difficult to grok, but the rest is very easy. Excellent game.
Colt Express. This is a Robo Rally type of game where you play as bandits trying to rob a train and shoot each other. Theme is excellent and the components are very interesting. It’s not a deep game, and I can’t see repeatedly playing this, but it was fun. There’s a mcguffin that you pretty much need to get in order to win the game and that can be difficult to figure out at first. I knocked the shit out of the holder of it multiple times, but couldn’t pop it out of his possession. I’d play this again with the kids.
Fairy Tile. I had my daughter with on Saturday and so we busted out some lighter fair. This is a game where you try to move three pieces on a board in order for you to play cards from your hand. You have 10 cards and you win if you are able to play them all. It’s a tricky little game that plays fairly fast. I like the tri-hex board (I use that in my upcoming game as well) and the components, art and the miniatures are top drawer. I can’t see playing this with adults much, but with kids– great.
Keyforge-– this is our the game of the con. They should have had a lot more decks/stuff available for people to buy instead of this pre-release BS! This was at a game con for fucksakes four days away from the game’s release– just sell the stuff. Anyway, we got some decks after the demo and were pleasantly surprised at how good it is. While the TYPE of game that it is is nothing really crazy, the fact that you collect DECKS instead of cards is something really special and frankly, sort of insane. My kid said: “out of five stars the game is a six.”
I will be doing a post just about keyforge shortly after playing 10-20 times for the two readers of this blog that may think they want to buy it.