Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zombie in my Pocket - Session

I dug out my copy of ZIMP for a quick game and for my player token, used to indicate what tile my character is on, for this adventure Velma ( or is it Thelma ) from the Scooby Gang.

Velma was very brave and to be honest not entirely feminine during this bout. She started off by wondering from the Foyer into the Kitchen where she picked up some cooking oil. Then she scouted around the Storage room where she discovered 4 Zombies. This is the unfeminine bit, because she emerged from that room back into the kitchen covered in both her own blood and someone elses! Her fists dripped the blood of her enemies! She once again searched the cupboards and found some Gas ( odd place to keep it! )

From the kitchen into the Family Room where she picked up a Chainsaw! After that she had a bit of a rest.

Into the Dinning room and more Zombies! Keeping her hands clean this time thanks to the chainsaw.

Thence into the next room AKA Evil Temple. She found the evil totem but then had to chop the head off of some more zombies, they just keep coming. She empties the Gas can into the Chainsaw and then she's off back to the Dinning room.

Through the french style patio doors and onto the Patio, all quiet.

She stalks over to the Garage and slaughters the couple from next door ( who are zombies by this time ). She nips around the Garage and into the graveyard ( it's not a real graveyard, you just dont have them in surburban gardens, it's a private pet cemetry in reality ). Scaping a hole in the loose dirt she drops in the totem and kicks dirt over the totem while dispatching another couple of neighbours!

Success, and not a Scoooby Snack in sight!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Memoir '44 Landing at GUAM - Session

I got my copy of the Pacific Threater expansion at the beginning of December but hadn't played until today (27th). I had been planning on working my way through all of the scenarios in the basic game first, but I finally broke down and picked a scenario that appealed, "52 - GUAM Landings Jult 21 1944".

This map is very busy and I was suprised how long it took me to lay out the map. It wasn't a problem but it was longer than most of the other scenarios I've layed out.

Looking at the forces on the board it looks like the Allies are going to steam roll over the thinly spread out Japanese forces. It didn't turn out that way.

On the allied right the tanks start out on the beach, so I shot these forward up onto the hills, planning to shoot long range against the troops in the sandbags.

On the allied left, I again moved the tanks forwards.

My opponent immediately nudged his troops forwards but not into contact.

In the center I moved forwards, just trying to get out of the water.

Then the Japanese player attacked. His troops that had moved out of sandbagged positions previously were able to move up into contact this turn across the front and using the special Pacific Thearter rules they gain a bonus combat die when at full strength. This really tore a hole in my troops, the tanks were decimated and the supporting infantry took damage along with them.

My come back was quite muted by comparison. I did wittle down a couple of units but nothing like the same scale.

On the left I managed to surround the enemy in Asan by running the remaining tanks behind the village and then assaulted from the front with infantry. This proved successful and I managed to eliminate the unit that had been hanging in there.

The counter to this eliminated all but 1 single tank on the left flank.

In the center I was able push back the infantry and claim the high ground but had no valid targets, Around here the ground was very bad for tanks.

A long range shot from the forward sand bagged Japanese infantry eliminated a tank unit, and a similar shot against infantry on the left won the game for my opponent.

Final score 4-6 to the Japanese player.

Lessons learned : The Japanese ability to leap forward and make attacks with bonus dice, is very powerful and can devastate even a strong position. The Gung-Ho rule is fun but didn't seem as powerful as I was expecting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas everyone! Santa brought me a couple of nice gamey pressies today. I'm a huge Memoir '44 fan ( hence the reason I started the Memoir '44 Podcast ) and I got two great M44 expansions.

Firstly I got the Winter/Desert board. This doesn't look much on it's own, but the reality is something other. With this second map not only can I now play battles in the Desert but the Snowy side of the board allows me to also nicely play any winter scenarios. The Battle of the Bulge took place in the snow!

Now add to this goey goodness my second M44 pressie, the "Terrain Pack". This little box contains a whole bunch of new counters and terrain hexes. These aren't just more of the same but they are new and different. All kinds of new terrain types each with their own effects in play. The counters include mine fields, and unit and nationality designators for troops from round the world. I now have an incredible variety of options when playing Memoir '44. I'm really looking forward to getting over this stinking flu thing so that I'll be able to play with these new toys.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A look at "Bindle Rails"

A week or so ago the designer of Bindle Rails contacted me and asked that I take a look at this new game. I downloaded the files and printed them out somewhat unsuccessfully. The card tops or bottoms were chopped off and the fact that I used a black and white only printer just didn't make it look too incouraging.

Since then I've realised that the reason the cards edges got cut off was because I goofed on the printing! I've since reprinted it and even used coloured card for the printing which make the otherwise plain cards spring to life.

What is Bindle Rails, you ask? Well it's the first Rail game I've ever got to grips with! I've taken a look at the free 18XX games that are out there and they really looked very dry and just did not appeal. This game however was different. The designer has said that the mechanics for the game were inspired by Zombie in my Pocket, Ticket to Ride , Pocket Civ and of course the 18XX games. That just sounded like a hit to me so my interest in a Rail game was peaked, especially as it's a solitaire game.

I found there were a few problems in the rules, well, at least for people like me who dont know the three letter codes for stateside towns. I posted a few questions on the games page at Board Game Geek and the designer was quick to reply and even updated the components to meet my thick-in-the-head requirements.

So after he'd gone to so much trouble I embarked on a second printing, this time using the colour options and the coloured card. What I have now is a pretty cool looking game. I've played through one game and scored a measly 17 points, would have been 27 but one of the competing companies got to St Louis before me, damn them!

I'll be doing a proper review fairly soon, but if you want to check it out yourself before I get round to that I think you'll find it quite good.

Solitaire, easy to pick up and a real challenge

Friday, December 19, 2008

More game designer woe

So I'm happy with the design for my new game and have to start work on the art. In the past I've been burnt by creating art on the screen that when printed looks poor. Sort of stretched and pixelated ( is that even a word? ).

I spoke to the graphic artist at work and he's told me that my DPI is too small. After I got over the offence of being told my DPI is too small I asked him what on earth he was on about.

DPI is Dots Per Inch, and computer images are made up of dots. Further images on computer screens are about 75 PDI but when you print stuff, it's usually at 300 DPI and that's why my images all look so poor when printed.

Armed with this knowledge I tried(!) to create a 300DPI image. I started up Paint Shop Pro and created an A4 size blank image at 300DPI. KAPOW! The computer ground to a halt. I couldn't get it to react to anything I clicked on. Then after a minute or so it suddenly did one of the things I had clicked on. A short pause for thought and I realised that it was doing what I was telling it, only very,very,very slowly. A look at the front of the computer showed the disk light going ten to the dozen.

I realised that the new image I had just created was too much, too big for the computer and that it was paging a lot of its RAM onto the disk.

So much for 300DPI images, they must suck up a lot of RAM. I think that until I get a new computer I'm just going to have to put up with poor art work, and be creative with low DPI. Maybe I'll try 100 DPI and see how that works...maybe I'll get a Christmas bonus and be able to upgrade my computer, if only!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On being a Game Designer...

I'm a hobbiest Game Designer and this week has been filled with game designing. I'm game-design-involved with Jim from One Monk Miniatures and we've been working on a card game together and thats been going through a few evolutions in the last few weeks.

Also I've been hard at work on a Hamster-Martial-Art game, trying to get the mechanics right. It's been a real hard slog. When I set out on this game I had a strong idea for how the mechanics were going to work so went ahead and mocked up all of the cards and other components so I could play test the game. Alas, alas it was a pile of poo!

I found myself really surprised that what seemed so great a mechanic in my head, turned out so poor in actual play. I've always thought that I can read game rules and see how things will pan out when played, but now I'm not so sure.

After the failure I had to do a rethink, and this is where I boxed a little clever. I repurposed the components I had already put together. I changed the way the values and tracks I'd drawn out were used. Here's the good news, it seems to be working. There's still some extra work to be done but the basic mechanics are solid now. Look out for the release of this free Print and Play game in the next month or so.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elves Under Hoof - Session Report

I printed this game the day before yesterday but only just finished cutting the counters out tonight ( while enjoying a DVD of "Prince Caspian" actually ). A quick read through the rules and I'm off.

I decided to opt for the first scenario for my first play, this is called "An Igloo Too Far". In this scenario three brave reindeer parachute into the igloo area and have to hold out until reinforcements arrive. What this actually means is that at the end of turn 4 you start rolling a die, and the game ends when you score 6.

I was very casual, that is to say not thoughtful about set up. Thinking vaguely and as it turned out incorrectly I thought to drop the reindeer behnd the igloos out of line of sight of the Elves, who 10 strong, set up around the Workshop.

I had Dasher and Blitzen pop round the ends of the igloo line and open fire with their M1's. Dasher was lucky and took out a fiendish Elf, Blitzen let the side down simply knocking a bell of an elf's hat!

Then the Elves got their act together and in a mad rush charged the reindeer from both ends. A Bomb elf took out Dasher on the first attempt. Blitzen had a sledding elf and two elves throwing things at him and didn't really stand a chance. He was gone too.

Two more elves popped out of the workshop.

Now it was all down to Comet. Comet was armed with the Thompson and a handful grenades. Opting for some grenade fun he tossed one at the Bombing elf that had done for Dasher. That damned elf dodged the shrapnel but two of his elvish buddies didnt. Huzzar!

The Elves swarmed forwards but in the end it came down to that same Bombing elf. He stepped forwards and BOOM, bits of Comet all over the place.

So the game was over, and very quickly at that. It's an interesting scenario. The three reindeer have to stay next to the igloos and that very much restricts your options and the constant elf reinforcements would make a longer game very difficult.

I have learnt some things from this first play. Namely that I need to start with a line of site to the elves from turn 1 so that I can pick my targets from the beginning. Also I should have very carefully placed the elves so that I could target them first. Additionally as the game starts with 10 elves fairly close together I should also have opened fire with grenades as the area effect would have cut down the numbers quickly.

So... onto my second game :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And now in Russian!

I was recently contacted by a chap ( or chapess, it was never discussed ) who runs a Russian web site related to gaming. Lex ( that is this persons name ) wanted to translate two of my games and host them on their site.

I was overjoyed that someone would care enough, would like the game enough to translate the game.

I had a moment for pause however. I made a decision a while back that I didn't want my games being posted anywhere else on the web as I want people to visit my sites, so I had this moment for pause. But after weighing up the fact that the alternative version is in Russian I decided I wouldn't lose that much traffic and gave permission.

I really am very proud that I've made it into Russian, I know it's not quite on the scale of the FDO's world conquering, but I'm still very happy.

Oh, and the games are Free trader and Solo Dungeon Bash, you can find links to the russian versions on the games pages at Board Game Geek.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Memoir '44 - Session, Omaha Beach

Today I finished the second of two runs through the Omaha Beach scenario in the base game. Yesterday I played the Allies struggling up the beach, and lost terribly. I also found out later that we were playing wrong. In that first game where I was toughing it out, we were playing first that the sandbags only game you defence against 1 flag ( getting mixed up with the hedgehogs ) and later that the hill + bunker gained you two dice reduction. Doh!

Today we had both of these straight and as I said I was the Axis forces. My hand of cards was poor. I has the Airpower card which is good and all of the rest were centre area nothing for either wing.

So I led off with the Airpower as all of the Allies start off bunched up and got a few distributed hits. The the allies started advancing up both flanks targeting the artillery on either flank. Their tanks rolled forwards crushing the barbed wire and doing little bits of damage here and there.

I kept only getting centre cards or the odd card that allowed me to activate 1 unit. I did also get the close Assault card and this was the only time I got to fire one of the guns!

I managed to get some medals by focusing on the tanks, with only three pieces to a unit I guessed I could get medals quicker that way.

The Allied middle moved and drove up to and through the troops in the middle and gained a town. The Allied left did like wise. In the centre, I had no lack of centre cards, I pushed three infantry units up to occupied town and took out the Allies in there. On the right I lost some troops but also managed to take out the lead element. On the left a fantastic single roll took out three tanks in one hit, I'm guessing the bunker must have been filled with Panzerfausts!

That ended the game 6-4 to the Axis.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hey! Thats my Fish! - Session Report

Today was THE big day when I got to play Hey! Thats my Fish! with my family. I got it a few days ago as a birthday present and everyone in the the fam' liked the look and cries of "Hey! Thats my Tea" or "Hey! Thats my Cake" etc have been shouted at various times every day since it arrived.

The box art excited them, the funny penguins on the front made them think it would be a funny laugh a minute game... They don't read the geek... They dont read the reviews, the session reports... They dont know how mean a game it is.

I read the geek, I've read the reviews, I've read the session reports , I know how nasty it is, I've played before.

So we sat down at the table they were all chatting and laughing, usual sort of thing. I was thinking hard, mentally preparing myself for the puzzling, the out-thinking, the mind bending evil that is Hey! Thats my Fish!

I explained the basics. No jumping penguins, no jumping gaps, pick up tiles you move off, more fish are worth more points at the end.

My wife, daughter number one, my son and I playing so only two penguins each. We started laying them out, my worthy victims... opponents opted to take edge hexes, I went into the middle and stuck my 'guins together.

Then it started, my son leapt right across the board, my daughter stepped one space. My wife moved deliberately a few spaces to land on a tripple fish tile. Pretty much the simple moves that beginers do. Me, I simply moved my 'guin up next to one of my daugters penguins, giving here only a single exit, and this onto a tripple fish which I suspected would keep here attention.

The turns moved on, my daughter went for the triple as I suspected, In comes my second peguin KAPOW, one trapped penguin. My game was on!

Turns went on, they hadn't got it. Next I pinned one of my sons 'guins, then both of my wifes, then my daughters last and finally I trapped my son on a three hex peninsular. Then I wrapped up the remaining hexs for a fantastic excellent huge score far beyond my share. :)

Then it was onto game two, but I need not go into that as daughter number one kicked my ass and my wife trapped my 'guins. Just forget I even mentioned the second game. :(

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Deadly Harmony - Review

Deadly Harmony is an attempt to bring the realm of Video Game punch em ups to the boardgame forum, and I happen to think that its been done rather well in the Print and Play game. Sadly the game suffers from a lack of cool artwork and I know the game designer would just love for a volunteer artist to step forwards.

The components of the game are a deck of cards, a play mat per player and the rules. I had all of these in a single PDF which aided printing. The whole set was simple black and white printing so didn't strain my ink supply.

The play mat that each player uses is very interesting, Its a circle with a number of spaces along its circumference where various resources are going to placed.

In the center of the circle are spaces for you to record your fighters stats which are speed, power, technique and guard.

The cards come in two main types. The first are all exactly the same and simply say "miss" these will be used when an attack is made. The other cards provide a large number of variable combat technique cards. Each of these comes in one of three main categories of attack, these being Strike, Throw and Parry. There is no art of these cards but each has a section of text that describes the various ways in which the card can be modified in use.

The rules are laid out in full width A4 paragraphs and interspersed with a number of explanatory diagrams. Eveything is clearly explained and my only problem, if you can call it that ) was I didn't like the order in which things were laid out.

Lets return to the Play mat and explain it a bit further. On the right of the mat are three spaces. One, vitality, is your fighters health. Another is "Edge" and the last is Rhythm!

If during play your characters vitality is reduced to none then you have lost, also if you gain four edge tokens you will win. The Rhythm supply will allow you to maintain the "rhythm" of your attack when you would otherwise be exhausted.

The circle on the mat as I stated earlier contans a track of spaces around its edge. Two spaces on opposite edges of this circle are your resources, Yin and Yang. You'll start the game with a pool of counters on each of these, then as you play cards you will spend these resources. This is a really neat mechanic, when you spend Yin or Yang the spent counters move onto the track that leads around the circle. Then on each turn they move on one space along the track until they reach the resource pile opposite where they become available resource of that type. So spent Yin is unavailable for use for a few turns until it comes back as Yang and vice versa.

Setting up the game. You can spend some time creating characters if you want or just use pre generated ones. Then each player places counters ( or poker chips ) on his Yin and Yang resource piles. Also two chips onto the Edge pile and a number of chips equal to the characters vitality onto the vitality stack.

Then each player sorts through the combat cards and selects a number of cards equal to the characterstechnique stat. These become the players hand of cards.

Combat is straight forward but has a few steps.

Both players select a card from their hand and place if face down, and reveal them together. Cards have cost that you have to pay before anything else. For instance a strike may cost you 2 Yin, which means you place two counter from your Yin supply onto that track and will be unavailable until it comes back as Yang. If you want to, you can use any accumalated "Rhythm" chips to pay this cost.

Once the costs are paid you can read the text on the card. These often allow you spend extra various resources ( yin, yang ) to alter the effects of the card. So a strike that is not block by an opponents Parry card is may hit your opponent. What you do in this case is take a number of the "miss" cards equal to your speed stat add your strike card and shuffle these. Then you take a peek at the cards and lay them face down on the table. Your opponent then gets to turn over a number of these cards equal to his Guard stat. If he turns over the strike card your attack has missed. If he doesn't get your card, you get to turn over one card and it should be your strike card, if it is you hit. You should know which card is the strike card as you peeked before laying them down.

Normally a strike card does damage to your opponents vitality but it may also do other things such as give them a Rhythm chips. Remember as well as the cards basic effects you may have spend additional resources to increase the effect of the card.

If you happened to carry out a succesful Throw type attack then would also be able to an "Edge" counter from your opponents supply.

As well as damaging your opponents vitality and stealing "Edge" you can also cause stun damage. When stunned you have to give up a number of cards from your hand, you then get them back at the rate of 1 per turn.

Thats how it works but let me just point out some of the things that are very cool but may not be clear yet make this game very interesting.

The resource management of Yin and Yang and they way they come round as the other resource is nicely linked to the different types of attacks that use different resources. The whole Rhythm mechanism is very thematic, because having used up your Yin and Yang you can maintain the "Rhythm" of your attack by using Rhythm chips. Also the fact that while stunned you have less combat options is both clever and a real challenge.

All in all this game is well thought out, plays extremly well and is very thematic. If only it had more ART! It's free and low ink, and if you have some poker chips you really should give this a try, it's dang good!

Friday, November 28, 2008

This week in my gaming

None. No Gaming. I watched one game using my copy of Memoir '44 but thats it.

I have printed out a copy of a game called Deadly Harmony that looks like a good Print and Play game, and hopefully I'll get to play that this weekend. It's just been a really dry gaming week.

However I have been inspired to make up a dice roller for Memoir '44 which I hope to host on my BookRanger web site. I'll announce it here when done.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Podcast Advantage

One of the advantages of being a long time Podcaster is that you become a "name" so to speak. Being one of these podcaster fellows I get approached by people with games, that is, game designers pushing their games.

I really enjoy this. It means that designers will often contact me to let me know that their game is available so I get a heads-up when new games are published. Without this I would miss so many great games.

Now don't get excited, I don't get sent free games! My podcast is about free or cheap Print and Play board games, so most of these notifications are just the designers letting me know that that have posted their game PDF's on a web site somewhere.

Without these heads up messages the podcast would be a lot more difficult, so here's a shout out to all of you designers. Thanks for letting me know, and keep telling me!

You can find my podcast at

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Memoir '44 - Session Report

Return to Sainte Mere-Eglise.

The Allied Air Drop put three units into the central area, 1 to the south on the left flank, 1 next to Sainte Mere-Eglise , 1 north in the central region near the village of Neuville-au-Plain.

Allies - Air Power

A blinding bit of luck for the Allies as the Axis forces start clumped on the two wings. Looking at the choices, the Axis forces on the left flank looked more vulnerable due to the lack of cover and the number of units close enough to attack them as a follow up. The luck continued and four Axis units are immediately reduced to 2 soldiers each.

Axis - Assault Left Flank

The chance to get the tank into play! The infantry advance southward and into the surrounding woods and buildings. The Tanks then advance south as well, just out of range!

Allies - Move Out

With the four units on the left already weakened, the Allied forces concentrated on them. Four units advance towards to Axis infantry. A shot two long range shots take out the first Axis unit. Three full strength units are closing on the weakened enemy.

Axis - Infantry Assault

The weakened forces on the right flank advance and attack the nearest Allied unit and weaken it serverly.

Allies - Direct from HQ

Once again the left flank is all action. The infantry close on the Axis forces and open fire managing to score hits from from retreat as well as attack.

Axis - Recon in Force

The tanks advance and open fire with some success, the infantry on th left flank also close and open fire causing casualties.

Allies - Probe Left Flank

Once again attack the weakened forces on the left but...

Axis - Ambush

The axis ambush the Allies as they advance and cause some wounds but its not enough and the Axis lose two more units.

Axis - Attack Left Flank

More wounds but no more kills, the Allied right flank is now forced far to the south with two healthy Axis units closing.

Allied - Probe Left Flank

One shot, one kill and the last Axis unit on the left flank is eliminated.

Summary : An extremely short game dominated by a lucky Airpower card right off the bat that knocked four units down to half strength. At that point it would have been a VERY luck Axis player that could come back to a win. Of course the Allied player could have easily had poor rolls that did no damage, perhaps in the return game...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Online Play

Today I finally caved in and used the special code that came on the back of my Memoir '44 rules. Days of Wonder who produce the game give you this number on the back of their rules books. This number allows you to register at the the Days of Wonder web site where you can play electronic copies of some of their games.

Now I have played turn based on line games before at Hexwar but today thanks to Days of Wonder I played my first couple of games of Ticket to Ride.

Wow! What a great game. Simple, challanging. Do I need to say more?

Seriously it is a very simple to play game but you are involved in strategic decisions ( perhaps I mean tactical ) every turn. I like the choices, either grab more routes or cards or play out a train.

I actually found the online game was played at a frenzied pace, when I played against actual people as opposed to robots. The other players were obviously experienced and they whizzed through their turns at breath taking speed and not a single message was written into the message box. It's that lack of communication that makes a big difference between playing with your friends round the table and this online experience.

I found the lack of chatting a little sad, I didn't feel like I was playing with pals, but rather against robots.

I am definitely going to play the online game again because its a good game but I wont be expecting too much interaction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Napoleon at Waterloo - Review

I recently made up a copy of Napoleon at Waterloo, that is, I made a Print and Play copy of the game.

I actually sourced the components from two different places aiming to get the best of both packages.

I grabbed the original graphics from This allows you to print out a copy of the original map which I happen to like very much. I actually scaled the image up so that I had larger hexes, all the better to pickup and generally handle the counters.

For the rules and counters I went to a different source. BGG user haruspex has uploaded a nice "complete" package on the games page. This give you the rules tables and a blank hex map that you'll have to fill in yourself ( hence why I went to the other place for the original map ). Most importantly though haruspec has put together some very nice upgraded counters. These are bimple black counters on a white background so you need to print the counters on appropriate coloured paper.

The quick way of mounting the board and counters is to stick the printed paper onto the back of self adhesive floor tiles! You can cut these with scissors so making the counters is easy.

The counters are simple and uncluttered, Attack value, move points, start location and unit type is all there is. Very easy to read and play with.

Setting up the game is straight forward. The map indicates which space should have an French Infantry on it or British Cavalry, and each counter indicates it's type and start hex. So between these two guides you can quickly get the counters onto the board.

Play is in the classic I Go, You Go. Counters exude a Zone Of Control as is usual in hex and counter games.

The combat is very straight forward odds based. You add up the combat points in the attack and figure these against the attack points of the defender to calulate odds. I should also note that terrain effects combat, for instance units in Buildings get a bonus. Then you roll a die and cross reference these against a CRT that spreads the usual array of results from Attacker eliminated to Defender Eliminated.

Movement is very simple. Units have a number of movement points and you spend these to move from hex to hex. Movement is otherwise limited in passing through woods and entering Zones of Control. Very simple.

It's interesting that the two sides have differing goals. The British player needs to inflict 40 points of damage on the French, but the French on the other hand have to inflict 40 point and exit 7 units through the back line of the British side of the board.

So in summary what do I think of it? It is a simple and straight forward hex and counter game. There is really nothing unusual or unexpected in here. It is in fact "the classic" hex and counter game. I was a little disapointed that the movement and interaction of the various units did not feel more Napoleonic. However if you want a solid, small quick(ish) to play game, perhaps to introduce new gamers to wargames then this is your baby!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busy Week!

I'm having a busy week. This weekend I launched a new podcast based on the game Memoir '44 and the history associated with it. This first episode was all about the history around the fight at "Pegasus Bridge" and an analysis of the games first scenario that is based on that fight.

If your interested in checking out the podcast you can find it at The show has just started so please feel free to get in touch and tell me how I can make it better!

A heads up on games, I recently bought a copy of Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge but haven't had a chance to play it yet. Expect a review and session reports fairly soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memoir '44 session - Sword Beach

Today I got to play the Axis at Sword Beach and I was really looking forward to it after jealously watching others play through the scenario.

What I noticed when watching the others play was just how powerful the artillery in the center of the Axis forces were. Up to this point I have never played with artillery so I was looking forward to it.

After set up the the Allies go first and the Allied forces started up the beach. The Armour lead the way in the centre and their left. They also opened fire against the Bunkers with no effect.

Then came my first turn. I activated my right and managed to get my tanks into Riva Bella and also advanced the infantry up to the wire. I then opened fire on the tanks with two infantry units and between them scored two hits and two flags. The tanks withdrew to the waters edge and never came back.

My opponent seemed to be concentrating on the bunkers in the center and on my left he advanced to take them on. I took a couple of casualties in both flanking bunkers but managed to inflict greater casualties in return. This was helped by a significant bit of bad luck when my opponent attacked with two units in each region and missed with everything.

The Allied tanks in the center took out a gun in the bunker and took out my central infantry unit. I reduced the tanks here to a single vehicle and indulged in an interesting tactic that I'll be trying to leverage in future. I wanted to advance some infantry to attack the tank in the center. I checked my cards and had a right flank card and a center card. So I realised that I could move a unit into the center from the right. So I played the right card, advanced the unit and shot. Next turn I was able to move the infantry again to close the range on the tanks again and attack. It worked too, the tanks were eliminated.

Another incident of note took place on my left. The Allied tanks advanced up to the gap in the wire shooting at the bunker every time and doing little damage. I was able to concentrate fire on this unit. By playing a three/left card I was able to advance towards the tanks with two units and fire with all three. This eliminated the tanks.

The winning medal came in with an air power card. I had been holding this since a few turns into the game but my worthy opponent had never had even two units adjacent since I'd gained it. At this point I'd forced a retreat that had pushed three units together of four,two and one figure each. I got to roll 1 die against each of them and only needed one medal. I got a hit on the group of four, and a hit on the group of two, and yes(!) a hit on the single figure.

Although I won and felt well satisfied A post game rule review showed I had been cheating!. At one point the guns had been forced to retreat from the bunker. The rules state that bunker guns can not be moved, hence that would have been a kill.

So HUZZAR I WON, but I'm a big cheating b@st*rd!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Memoir '44 session - Sainte Mere-Eglise

Today I set up the table again for another battle with my son. We are working our way through the scenarios and today was "Sainte Mere-Eglise". My son saw the Axis tanks in the scenario and was wanting to play with them at first, but when I read through the scenario rules and he realised that there were up to four more Allied units dropped onto the table he changed his mind and opted to go green first.

He dropped in his air troops and all four ended up on the board in the central region. After our last battle where all of my troops were in the middle and I had no middle cards I was getting a bit smug. Of course that did not pan out and he managed very well.

I started out looking over the map. The most significant features for the Axis player are :

1 ) The entrenched troops on the hill are near unassailable.
2 ) You've got tanks! Unfortunately they are buried behind four infantry units.
3 ) You have one isolated unit in Sainte Mere-Eglise. Very isolated.

I decided not to assault the hill and to try and clear my infantry out of the way so that I could get to use the tanks.

I moved my troops on the right, forwards trying to go through Neuville-nu-Plain to assualt/support Sainte Mere-Eglise. Unfortunately for me the Allies moved up and into the hedgerows between me and my goal. So this ended up with the Allied unit on the hill taking long range shots and the my units unable to make much headway due to the blocking forces.

The Axis unit in SME ( Sainte Mere-Eglise ) was taken out, the town was occupied and I never manged to get it back.

Meantime on my left I cleared a hole and got the tanks into action. I tried to keep them at arms length because I was getting three dice attacks while the return fire would be a single die.

My son was well aware of what I was doing and occupied the woods and hedgerows reducing my attacks! I ended up having a bit of a race round these obstacles as I chased an unprotected unit and he sniped out of the woods at me. Twice the tanks were forced into double retreats. Three times he rolled a single tank and eventually I lost my heavy hitters. Fortunately I did manage to use them to take out 1 unit and damage another.

There developed a grinding match of casualties on both sides around the woods on my left and this dinged and donged until this leg ended with 4-3 to my son.

We reset and swapped rolls.

My air drop lost me one unit and placed the other three in the middle region.

In the first few turns I concentrated on getting position rather than attacks. I struggled to disperse the mass of troops in the centre by sending a couple to each wing and trying to get my troops into SME and the Hedgerows.

My son obviously had no cards for his left as for a number of turns they just didn't move at all.

On my left he occupied village of NAP and started moving through the woods towards the middle board. He soon realised that he couldn't hit the hill from NAP but I could hit back from there and I started rolling a single die against him there. He had more success than I did in crossing towards SME. He moved into the open assaulted the Hedgerows and did a lot of damage, then forced a retreat and occupied the hedgerows himself.

I soon occupied two hexes of SME and took out the Axis troops there. I then stacked one unit in each of the three hexes that make up the town.

It was then that my right flank became interesting. The Axis infantry dispersed allowing the Big Rumblers to emerge. I started shooting at them from the nearby woods and hedgerows but didn't have much luck.

The luck I did have came from air support when in a single attack I managed to get four hits acoss two units just south of Fouville. The bullets were otherwise bouncing off the tanks who went wherever they wanted. A couple of my units out in the open suffered from the tracked beasts and then all of sudden it was over. I held SME but the magic 4 medals had been won, and not by me!

A close score of 4-3 to him and basically a 2-0 overall result to my opponent.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Memoir '44 - Session report

Today i got in my first two player game of the brilliant Memoir '44. It was me versus the 15yo. The first game went to plan, my plan not his. I player the Axis forces and we ended this leg 4-2 to me.

The other leg, the one where I played the Allies was a different matter.

From my solo sessions I had devised a plan that revolved around attacking the right wing and taking the lightly protected eastern bridge, to be followed by a sweep up the center and then through the woods heading west, thus avoiding the Axis defences around Pegasus.

I had an excellent start I played out the Barrage card and used it to knock the northern axis unit on my right down to half strength.

My worthy opponent, shrugged it off simply blasted my troops hovering outside the wire on my left.

I advanced the right wing, with only one and a half units over there it looked like an easy win.

My troops on the left got blasted again. I didn't want to try and advance through the wire so I started withdrawing then south intending to sweep around the south of the pond.

The far west axis units closed up to the river.

Meanwhile on the right wings the axis moved onto the bridge and into the woods as I expected. I brought up a couple of units and had a right ding dong over the bridge. I damaged the unit in possession and forced back the germans in the woods while taking damage myself.

The forces in my center slowly started by swing round the pond but then I started having diffculty getting cards to activatethe central region!

Within a turn or two I'd eliminated the troops holding the eastern bridge. But with a staggering bit of bravery the single german figure advanced and made a close assault on my bridge troops reducing them to a single figure. I retaliated and removed this troublesome axis trooper.

My darth of card for the central region now kicked in. I had a couple of units advanced to within a couple of hexes of the woods above the wire with others strung out south and around the pond.

The Axis General guessed what I was up to, his troops advanced north into the woods, and we started exchanging long range fire.

I now had got into the situation where I had all left wings cards and no units on the left!

Then some very nice card play commenced my demise. First he played "behind enemy lines" card that allowed him to advance south out of the woods make a close assault and withdraw back to the woods. I couldn't reply! Then the next card out was "dig in" and so he placed sand bags on a unit that had advanced one space out of the woods. Then he brought the Axis air force into play pounding the advance troops!

So my plan to outflank the defences proved fruitless and disasterous. Not only had I lost too many troops getting there but I'd also been out played. The lack of cards meant I was unable to retaliate in a meaningful way and so my opponent wore me down and shot to victory.

So in summary, I goofed and tried a plan that didn't take in all three areas. I also didn't save up any cards before trying the tactic so I got what I deserved I guess.

I give props to my son who played an outstanding game not only for excellent and timely card play but also for insight into my motives and playing a good counter plan.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Star Wars Stolen Plans - Review

The Star Wars : Stolen Plans game caught my eye because of the Star Wars theme. It's a space theme, so that appeals to the Sci Fi geek in me.

It's a free Print and Play game. The PDF file contains the rules and the cards. Each card contains a photo image lifted from the films ( IV-VI ).

The rules are very simple and only take up two sides of paper. The Cards themselves are in the PDF with four on a page. Each page also contains a sentence telling you how many times to print that page. Thats a nice touch, rather than having to reference a list of print instructions, its right there on the page.

I print card games like this straight to thin-printable card so I have no mounting to do. The four cards per sheet is my only ( and minor ) problem with the games presentation. This leaves a lot of wasted card on each sheet. Once it's printed a few chops with the scissors and you're ready to play.

The game play itself is very simple and straight forward. On your turn you can draw a card into your hand, or play a card from your hand. That's it! The objective is likewise simple. When the last card is taken from the draw pile, the player holding the R2 card is the winner.

The cards come in a variety of types. You have Attack cards which you use to attack your opponents hand of cards. You have defence cards that allow to fend off attacks and even counter attack. During these attacks your trying to strip cards out of your opponents hand by making them discard them.

There are also "Rebel Hero" cards which have dual use. They can be played as defence cards or as special attack cards.

Another set of cards in the set are "steal" type cards, these allow you to just take cards right out of your opponents hand and place them in your own.

Another nice variation in play is that there a few cards that can only be played by Jedi, and in the deck is a Jedi card that if you get it, you play it out in front of you making you the Jedi. Some of these Jedi only cards have special abilities.

So the main tactics in the game play are based on trying to keep a decent hand of cards yourself while forcing your opponents to discard
thier cards and all of the time trying to steal the R2 card for yourself.

In summary this is a quick, light fun game that for a Star Wars fan is a must and for other Print and Players certainly well worth checking out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Audio Promo for Free Trader

I've been working away this week on a new launch project for one of my games. The game in question is Free Trader. The game has been out for a while now, so it's not a gee-whizz-new-fangled game thing, but an official launch for the second version ( which has been out a couple of months actually ) but which has just had some art work created for it by a volunteer artist over at BoardGameGeek.

The guys art has inspired me to try and seriously raise the profile for my game. So this week I've been putting together a revamped home page for the game and most time consumingly an audio promo for it as well.

I will be playing the promo on my Print and Play podcast and I'm also hoping to get a few other podcasters to play it as well. So I'm hoping that will raise it's profile and perhaps get it enough ratings over at BoardGameGeek so that the game gets ranked.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pegasus Bridge

Yesterday I finally after months and months got around to getting my hands on a copy of Memoir 44. I bought it from The Board Game Company, I actually got to go round to the owners house and pick it up personally!

After waiting months to get the pennies together for this I rushed home only to not have enough time to open it!

Finally today I cracked it open and played through my first game (solo) oh joy!!!!

When I play solo I often find myself rooting for one side or the other, this time I was with the allies.

The Allies moved up the left and right and generally left the center alone. The allies moved into barbed wire and started clearing it. They came under fire and started taking casualties. As this started I realised that you have to leave a retreat option open or you will suffer more casualties than required! The Allies fired into the sandbagged area scoring a retreat on the axis.

After the game I checked the rules to see if I'd missed anything, and of course I had. At this point having forced a retreat from the sandbags the Allies could have advanced into the vacated space. I simply missed the rule.

On the right the Germans advanced to the bridge and occupied the woods. The Allies advanced up passed the woods and into ranged combat with the two Axis troops.

Back on the left the Axis reoccupied the sandbags and the troops on the other side of the river moved into a position to enfilade the advancing allies. Shooting took place across the river and both sides took casualties. Then in a sudden burst a depleted allied unit sprinted onto the bridge thereby gaining a temporary victory point. Alas it was not to last the counter attack from three axis units eliminated the brave ( if a little crazy ) allied unit and removed the victory point.

The allied right was now seriously depleated, a ravaged unit withdrew to a safe distance and now the allied center finally began to move slowly forwards hoping to support the savaged left.

At this point the axis airforce came into play and in a single attack, killed one allied unit and serious depleted two more.

On the right the axis forces in the woods were well below strength and the unit defending the bridge had a casualty or two. An allied unit was pinned between them with only one figure left. Of course the axis forces focused on this brave soul and eliminated it from the game thereby gaining a game winning victory!

I was absolutely delighted with how the game played and I really enjoyed the way it worked. The play is light and fast, yet I was having serious decisions every turn making it an excellent combination isn my eyes.

Friday, October 31, 2008


So after the disappointment of the previous post I finally managed to get the Lord of the Rings : Confrontation Deluxe played during Lunch at work.

I got of my work pals to sit opposite each other and go at it. I breezed through the rules, mentioning the stacking limits, the special move spaces for the Fellowship player and explained roughly how the combat worked.

So then they started. The Sauron players first move was to move a piece onto the Caradhras space. The Fellowship player and myself ( as umpire/referee sitting to the side where I couldn't see either players bits ) both had this pegged as the Balrog. Straight away the Fellowship player went into the attack on this space.

It wasn't the Balog! It was however the Troll. No retreats meant it came down to the card play. The Troll cant play a meaningful card and the Fellowship player played a high card to defeat the Troll and so first kill to the good guys.

Nether player was afraid to fight and it turned into a brisk set of fights with both players staying about even.

The Orcs made a successful raid into the Fellowship territory by a couple of rows before being brought down by a counter attack, also revealing Frodo as they did it.

The Nazgul leaped across the board picking on a lone Fellowship piece only for it to be that damned elf immediately killing it!

Then would you believe a slight misthought, a mishap, an oversight of the briefest interlude had Frodo try the tunnel only to discover that the Balrog had in fact since taken up residence.

Both players appeared to play an excellent game especially considering it was their first try with the game. Now I've warmed them to the game I hope it get a few games in myself next week. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A day of dispointments

So today I've had a couple of disapointmnets. Firstly work let me down. Now and then I get to play games at work. In addition to just getting to play, I even get to leave games set up so that I can play over multiple lunchtimes. How's that for having Cool management!

Alas today things were not so cool. I'd taken my Lord of the Rings Box to work getting myself all excited. The box contains not only Lord of the Rings, but also the Friends and Foes expansion and the Sauron expansion, and Lord of the Rings : Confrontation Deluxe. So I'm on a real Lord of the Rings vibe when suddenly I discover that we have a client in the office so we cant set up the game!!!

That was rather sad. but then tonight has proved rather sad. Not really sad. Just a kind of dang(!) type sad. I've printed out a copy of the free game "Cold War" which when I read the rules looked very good, they do still seem good. The disapointment is the components let the game down. Now being an experienced Print and Player of games I can make some very nice components when I want to, but in this case there is not a lot to be done. The art is very very basic and lets the game down. A Ship is represented by a bullet shape, a warship by a rectangle, an aircraft by a cross. Very uninspiring. Now add to that , each player needs about 60 counters or cubes but the PDFs that make up the game dont include any counters. So you have to make up your own.

That disapoints me quite a lot. This game has such potential!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lord of the Rings - F&F expansion Session

I recently saw a post on BoardGameGeek detailing about how an easy win was made when using the Friends and Foes expansion for Lord of the Rings. I was plainly staggered.

I've played a number of games with the just base set and have never found the game easy to win, in fact I have only ever won once. Yet I read session report after session report about how other people are having to set Sauron's starting place nearer the hobbits just to make it a challenge.

Frankly I don't get it. I don't know if they are lying or I and the people I've played with are missing something obvious.

Anyway, the article inspired me to solo a game of Lord of the Rings with the Friends and Foes expansion. I've only played with Friends and Foes once before, a good few months ago so I had to spend some time rereading the rules.

So off I set on my way to Mt. Doom just me Frodo and Sam. Frodo gets a nice ability in this expansion that allows him to move one of the activity counters during other players turns which sounds really useful although it proved not to be too useful, or at least not useful enough.

On the way through Bree I kept finding Foe after Fox appearing and every other one required something I didn't have. For instance one required that I give up three tokens, so that one had to be put off until I got them, but while collecting tokens another two foes appeared. Things were not looking good by the end of Bree.

And so it went on until Moria. Foes were running at around 5 on the table, Sauron had made a bit of a leap towards the hobbits, the little guys themselves were well forward. The next foes out required that Sauron be moved forwards, the foes after than required a hobbit to move forward toward Sauron. Things were going badly. Sam's hand of cards was depleted AND he was closest to the big bad. So Sam had no choice but to try and collect cards while backing away. This in turn meant that only Frodo could try and duff-up the foes and advance the story, so this ended up depleting his hand rapidly.

I managed to get Gandalf to burn up a couple of foes in the next board when the Foe count reached 7 but once again the next Foe moved the hobbits into trouble, the next made it all worse and then a bad die roll moved Sauron to take the ring bearer.

6 Foes on the board, Sam only a space away from Sauron, Sam and Frodo very low on cards.

I ask you, how can this game ever be described as easy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Assassination Game Le - Review

On holiday I tried out a whole bunch of Piecepack games, one of them was “The Assassination Game Le”. This game uses just the basic Piecepack and is for 3 or 4 players.

The theme is thin, each player is an assassin that is trying to kill the player that is “it”. The player that is “it” is trying to stay out of the way of the assassin players and visit each players base.

Setting up is very simple. The tiles are laid out face down in a 5x5 board with the central space removed, grid side up. The empty space is the “safe house”. A Coin from each suit is placed on each edge of the board and these are the bases for each Assassin.

You roll off to see who is the victim, the other players will be assassins. The victim's pawn is placed in the safe house. The Assassins are placed on the appropriate base (coin). The Assassins all get to move first. Each rolls a die and can move the number of spaces indicated by the die. Null means they don't move, Ace is a 1 space move. All movement is orthogonal.

The Assassins are trying to land on the space occupied by the victim by exact roll. When they manage this the Assassin becomes the Victim and is immediately moved to the safe house. The previous victim remains in place but is now an assassin.

The victim player rolls a die just like the assassins for movement, but re-rolls if he gets a Null. His aim is to land on each of the bases (coins) of the assassins. Once again this has to be by exact roll.

So that's it. It is a very simple game and based entirely on roll-and-move. I tried it once, I will not try it again. I really would rather play Snakes and Ladders.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Varg Bid - Session

I have just played two full games of Varg Bid with my family. That's four players three adults and one child.

Rather than dealing just 10 cards to each player as I have in the past this time I dealt the entire deck out between us. This didn't prove to be a problem as we all managed to hold the cards very easily.

It was interesting to watch my son playing his first game. He did his usual thing of copying the other players until he grew in confidence. My wife was the first to play a card out for bidding, she led off with an ace. The round played out and then it was my sons turn to lead off. As I've already hinted, he placed out an Ace as had my wife. During this first game he was not very confident and when he realised that he could pass on a bid he did, and did so often.

This led to the end game where he was left with many cards and the rest of us had been reduced to just a couple each. So it came about that we had all held onto our Crown (10) cards and the last few cards to be placed out for bidding were all worth the most and he was in a splendid position to pick them up. So this game ended with him actually winning. He has shown me a technique that is worth considering, simply skip the first few rounds and save your cards till the end.

The second game was completely different. He like the rest of us was fully confident and was bidding with the rest of us. He did save all of his bids for the bigger cards, and in fact played out all of his aces once again when called to place one down for the bid. Clever little guy had analysed the game after just a single game. Then, that's what you get when you play with kids that have autistic traits!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dungeon Crawl - Review

Having just returned from a visit to a zoo on holiday I thought, this is the perfect time to try one of the Piecepack games I had previously printed the rules for.

This Rule set is called "Dungeon Crawl" was written by James Kyle and Paul Shope. As the name suggests it's a ... dungeon crawl. Unlike the other piece pack games I've played it's for more than one player, actually 2, 3 or 4.

Step one in the game is where all of the players join in building the dungeon. The players take turns placing down a tile ( face down ) and placing a coin somewhere on that tile. The coins have previously all been turned suit side down and mixed up, when placed they are still suit side down.

Players will take control of a pawn which is going to be their hero. The coins will be various things. Crowns are treasure, Arms are equipment, Suns are traps and Moons are monsters. Of course because all of the coins are suit side down no player knows what each actually is.

On a players turn they can move their pawn in a straight line as far as they want or is possible. This will be a limited move because of the random distribution of coins and the tiles.

When a players pawn reaches a coin, the coin is turned over to reveal it. If its a Crown, HUZZAR! the dungeon crawler has found an amount of treasure equal to the value of the coin. The player at the end of the game with the most treasure points is going to win.

If the coin is a moon then the hero has found a monster. A Die is now rolled if the roll beats the monsters "value" the monster is killed and the coin is taken by the player as an experience coin.
These coins can be burnt later to increase the value of later monster rolls. If the players roll does not beat the monster then he has been hurt. He takes the coin and the value shown on it is the amount of damage the players Hero has suffered. Heros can take 10 points of damage before dying.

If the coin turns out as a Sun, then its a trap, a die is rolled. With a high roll the trap is defeated and the player takes the coin as an experience point that can be burnt to aid in future trap rolls. Failure means the coin is taken as damage.

When Arms coins are revealed then it is a piece of equipment. Equipment can be used to fight other players heros when the pawns end up on the same space or to reduce damage taken.

Play continues until all six treasure coins are collected.

This game plays very quickly. Once you've gone through the set up process once you can repeat it very quickly meaning you can easily get through a number of games in half an hour. That makes it a light filler game. There are interesting decisions to be made, such as the size of coin you next investigate, do you risk a high value hoping it is a Treasure, or go low hoping for easily defeated
monsters and traps for experience. Then of course you have to decide if you're going to just look at unknown coins or attack the other players for their hard earned booty.

It's a fun light game, in my opinion best with three or four rather than just two.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Galaxy Express - Review

On holiday I had a chance to try a number of the free games rules for the Piecepack. One of these was the nicely named "Galaxy Express", which is a name that exudes space theme, which is a quick and easy was of appealing to me.

The game uses just a standard piecepack so no extras required.

The theme of the game is that you take the part of an inter-planetary delivery boy. You have to pilot your spaceship to each of the planets.

To set up, you start by building "space" this is a rectangle of face down tiles arranged 4 by 3. Next you shuffle the Crown and Arms coins and place these 1 by 1 with 1 coin on each tile face down. Then you remove the crown coins. What this gives you is a nice random distribution of Arms ( planets ). The Crowns coins then get shuffled and placed in a stack face down, these will be used to indicate the planets you have to visit and the order in which you need to visit them.

The ace tiles of Sun and Moon are placed face up next to the board these will just be "bins" or holders for used coins. The Sun coins are shuffled and placed face down in a stack next to the Sun tile, then the top two coins are turned over, face up. You then do the same for the Moon coins. These coins are going to be used for movement. Sun coins increase your speed, moon coins will slow you down.

So you start by turning over the first Crown coin, the number shown is the first planet you must move to, but you don't know where it is because all of the Arms coins on the map start face down. So you need to move. You pick one of the face up Sun coins and place this on the Sun tile, this value gives you your starting speed. Then turn over the next Sun coin so you once again have two face up to choose from. You can now move your pawn from the planet on which you have started orthogonally at your ships current speed. On subsequent turns you can use up another Sun coin to increase your speed or use a Moon coin to slow down.

As your piece lands on or next to one of the Arms coins ( planets ) you can turn it over. If you manage to end a turn on a planet with a speed of zero then you can do two things. If the number on the planet matches top Crown coin you are making a delivery, which means you can turn over the next Crown coin to see where you have to go next. If you are running out of Sun or Moon coins you also have the opportunity to refuel, which means you reshuffle all of the Sun and Moon coins like you did when you set up.

If your wondering about the dice, they do get used. Two are used to record your current speed. The other two are used to record the number of times you refuel. You therefore have a maximum speed of 10 and maximum of 5 refuels for Suns and Moons.

I found the theme of the game interesting enough to keep me trying but I also found it extremely difficult. I found getting my ship to pass by planets and reveal them was easy enough but stopping your ship on planets in order to make deliveries was very difficult. I would often find myself running out of fuel before even reaching the first delivery. I was overjoyed when once I was able to make three deliveries before drifting into the void...

You will find that as you only have two thrust or braking coins to choose from on any turn, and you have to pick one, that often you overshoot or undershoot your target.

I think this game could be improved with just a few minor changes, such as allowing you to automatically stop when you land on a planet or perhaps letting you choose from all of the thrust and braking coins rather than just the two face up coins as stated in the normal rules.

Also this game is interesting enough that I would like to see bespoke components produced rather than using the Piecepack. That's not to denigrate the Piecepack, this is actually a benefit of the pack, as it's allowed me to try the game without needing specially made bespoke components. So now I know about the game I may well go ahead and produce a set of graphically bespoke components.

In summary, could do with a very minor bit of rules tweaking for my tastes and would be even better with a set of bespoke components, I will be playing this again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Varg Bid, 2 game sessions

I was on holiday last week and took the opportunity to try out a number of games for both the Piecepack and the Decktet cards. The specific game in this session report is a game of my own design that uses the Decktet.

We were paying a visit to the local Laundrette, while the wash was being done we paid a short visit to the cliff top and looked for seals ( didn't see any ) but when back in the laundrette with nothing better to do than watch the tumble dryer I launched the Decktet cards out of my pocket with the words, "fancy a game". After the whole "rolling eyes" thing she agreed.

I was introducing the game to my wife, and this always takes a little planning. My wife detests games where she has lots of rules to understand, she just wants to get on with it. Therefore I
started the first game by playing a simplified variant of the basic rules. In this case we played with a hand of 10 cards and all bid cards get discarded. It makes for much shorter game with less thinking.

We only managed to bid on three cards and of course she won. I didn't let her, she's just good.

We then sat back waiting for the washing to finish. Fortunately for me some washing had to go back in for more drying, leaving us with 10 more minutes to fill! I brought the pack back out and gave her "the eyes" which got me a "oh go on then".

I told her this time we'd use the proper bidding rule, where the loser gets their bidding cards back. She nodded and we begun.

The first card out for bidding was a two, I got that. Next was 4,she got that. Then another two, I got that. The next card was bigger, we both played out a few cards bidding on it, but then I had to concede the bid to her as I didn't have a single card that would let me outbid her.

The last card out was a King meaning whoever won it would win the game. She bid, I bid, she bid, I bid and I won as she had nothing to outbid me.

The washing finished and I packed away the cards before helping unload the machine.

I know I'm biased, but I like this game, and it doesn't hurt to have such nice cards. I guess next time I'll have to try some of the variants suggested by the Decktet designer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Killer Bunnies on Holiday

My son had been pestering for months for us to get the Violet expansion because "then we'd have all of the carrots". Well with the holiday coming up my wife decided to "shut him up" and secretly
ordered the Violet booster. It duly turned up and I secreted the new cards into the box without telling him.

So there we were second day of the holiday when the suggestion came up to play Killer Bunnies. Unfortunately the living room in the cottage is long and thin meaning that the round leaved table
supplied does not easily fit all four of us around it.

So I moved the low coffee table into the hall, shunted the two comfy chairs and the sofa down one end. Moved the leaved table across the corner of the fireplace and just managed to get four dinning chairs arranged around it.

So to the game. I started dealing the initial cards and my son noticed the new colour in the deck. Big beaming smile. Then he started talking about Orange cards... is there an orange booster?

So to the game. It started out quite normally and as usual everything was fine until I dared to kill my wifes bunny. Then the usual war started, she started hitting me with everything she could
but fortunately I had the holo bunny so was able to laugh most of it off. Then my son who had been watching me chuckle at her feeble attempts thought he'd help her out for a moment by quietly dropping a small tactical nuke on my bunny!

Everyone but my son lost bunnies to fallout. Nukes are dangerous like that.

We all started playing out other bunnies, my wife managed to get one of her bunnies abducted by aliens and I was unable to attack her for a good while. In the MEAN( AND NASTY ) time before I got to attack her she clever killed off another of my bunnies just before I got the "everyone feed your bunnies" card into play, dang!

I managed a smile a few turns later when I got the alien abduction card and played it. Of course I reached across to take her bunny out of the aliens hands when she played one of the new cards and
"protected" my bunnies from the alien abduction, thereby keeping hers safely in their clutches.

There were four players in this game but sadly my attention was focused on the private war between myself and my wife and when it came to the end of the game. I had about 7ish carrots my wife likewise, my son had two and my daughter the remainder. We stated turning over the carrots looking for the magic one and by a huge piece of clever tactical and strategic play ( LUCK ) I came out the winner.

I of course did the obligatory "dad dance" in the corner of the room with the following lyrics sung by myself.

Oh yeah-eh,
Oh yeah-eh,
I'm tha' king of ole bunny town
Oh yeah-eh,
Oh yeah-eh,
I'm tha' king of ole bunny town

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cardinal's Guards - Review

I took a print out of about a dozen sets of Piecepack game rules with me on holiday, Cardinal's Guards was the first set I tried. So there I was day one of the holiday, the first to rise and no one to play with.

This game is a solitaire game and comes in the puzzle solving line of solo games as opposed to the adventure style.

The theme is pasted on as it is with all of the Piecepack games. In this case it based on the well known group known as "The Four Musketeers" formerly known as "The Three Musketeers".

In the game you control the musketeers ( the pawns ) moving around the rooms of the castle ( the tiles ) eliminating the guards ( coins ) and trying to visit the tiles of each pawns suit in sequence.

The tiles are laid face up in a 5x5 grid with the centre tile missing. Coins are laid around the outside of the tiles, 5 per side. Pawns start on the null tile of their suit. The four space coins go into the players hand. the dice will be used to keep a note of the tiles visited in each suit.

During a move (turn seems too big a word) you get to move one of the pawns orthogonally until it reaches a space next to a Guard coin. Once it reaches that it ends it move. At that point the coin is defeated and removed from play.

When a guard gets removed from the edge of the board this creates a hole pawns can move through. When a pawn moves through such a gap, it is off the board and removed from play.

The exception to this removing of the guard is that if the pawn matches the coins suit and the player does not have that suit in his hand of coins, the coin gets placed in the hand.

The hand of coins can be used to place blocking positions on the board. When you wish to, take a coin from your hand and place on the board. Then your able to get your pawns to move up to the
guard and thereby stop on a particular tile. These coins get removed as normal. If your playing clever then you will use coins of the same suit to block pawns movement as this allows you to take
the coin back into your hand for reuse.

The central hole in the board can be used to make special moves. When a pawn moves into the space it can be moved to any corner tile. This can be very useful to cross the board, but often
requires you to use a coin in order to stop the pawn as it passes a central axis, so the payout on such an action must be calculated by looking moves ahead.

The end game comes around once all pawns exit the board, then you calulate your score. You gets points for suit tiles visited in order and guards/coins removed. The rules state you also get two
points for each pawn that gets off the board, but as that is always possible it's not really worth the effort.

So what do I think about it? I'm not overly enthused. If solitaire puzzle games are your thing then I would expect to really like this. It's no where near as simple as many and has enough variation and complexity to keep your mind occupied. For me I'm not a fan of the theme so that lets it down for me. A fantasy or sci fi theme might have upped it in my reckoning.

In short, it works fine, occupies the mind, but sadly, isn't my thing. Oh, and in case your wondering, my best score was 39. :(

Friday, October 17, 2008

Holiday ZIMP - Session

The following is a session report for Zombie in my Pocket, a free Print and Play game, that took place on my holiday (Saturday).

It started in the foyer, and I moved into the dinning room, had to hold my bladder as the fear was mounting. Tried the door in the opposite wall which fortunately led to the bathroom. I releived my bladder and found a CandyBar nice! Looking at the cupboards I decided to search them and managed to find a can of soda.

The Bathroom was a dead end so I opted to head back to the Dinning room and try the other doors. Unfortunately there were some zombies in there now. Using the ancient martial art of Origami, I managed to fold the Zombies into flowers and only took a modicum of damage. I drank the soda by way of healing and marched on.

The next room turned out to be the Evil Temple! Four zombies were guarding the sacred sigils of Secthopet. Adopting the stance I launched into a well timed Origami manoeuvre and folded then into fish. Afterwards I polished off the Candy Bar and searched the room for the Totem I knew was there. I found it under a pile of zombies. More smashing and kicking left these zombies folded as nice Sea gulls!

I was tired. All of this folding wears a guy down. I decided to cower in the corner for a while and used the time to mentally fold the perfect cube.

As I made my back to the Dinning room I felt a spark of hope, but this was dashed as entered the garden when I suddenly felt a sense of doom!

I moved into the yard and would you believe it, of all things a bat pooped in my eye! This unnerved me and I took a few moments to consider (cower).

I moved down the yard folding 5 zombies into rather attractive dog shapes and had a quick cower in the hedge.

As I looked round the garage I heard terrible screams and the town
clock chimed 11.

Further down the yard I had the feeling my soul was not wanted by
even these lifeless pawns of evil.

I took the chance to cower once more.

Further into this zombie ridden garden and four zombies jumped me. A swift lookup in my guide to Origami, and I had the zombies folded into cute pussy cats. Tired again I choose to cower once more.

The clock was ticking, midnight was closing my dread was mounting.

I moved into the sitting area and six zombies came at me. That was the final straw, there was no more Mr Niceguy. This group I folded into two cup and saurcer combos, a teapot and a spoon. Take that!

I rested (Cowered).

I moved on, and finally I found myself in the Graveyard I had been seeking, I could smell blood!

As I scraped the soil away to bury the totem I could taste something icky. Yet the years of Origami training had steeled my self discipline I did not falter. Then it was done. The totem was buried. I stood up and looked around. Silence...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Holiday Games

Well today is the last day I expect to be posting for a week or so because I'm going on holiday. My preparation for the holiday , at least in gaming terms, has been going on for about a week.

I've had a Piecepack for a while, which is a generic set of game pieces for which well over a hundred game rules sets have been written. I've also got the "Decktet" which is a fairly new generic deck of cards. I've carefully packed these into my going away box along with about a dozen printed sets of rules for these. I haven't read the rules, just simply printed then and stowed them ready for play on holiday.

I'm also taking a 1/4 quarter size copy of It's All Chinese to Me!. I printed this out a few weeks ago by setting my printer to print four pages on one. I've slipped this into an old Paracetamol box, this is going as my secret game that no one in the family knows about ( hee hee ).

I've also got my set of Zombie in my Pocket, which is another really small game that's a lot of fun.

Now to finish off I'm taking my copy of an RPG called Traveller which we may or may not play ( this was my inspiration for my game "Free Trader" ), a card game called Sherlock Holmes and of course we're taking Killer Bunnies. It wouldn't be a holiday without Killer Bunnies!

Erm... I hope I have time for some holiday between the games...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Black Death - Review

Black Death is a print and play game. That means you hand over some of your hard-earned and in return get your hands on compressed zip file that contains printable parts for the entire game. I might add that the designer, or rather whoever put the package together was very thoughtful and helpful!

The theme of this board game is virus' spreading across ancient Europe. Players take the parts of various virus' and the winner will be determined by which player manages to kill 30 million people first. The theme is a little on the sick side and the rules admit that and treat the whole thing a little tongue in cheek.

The board is based on a map of Europe. Large population areas are represented by white squares, that are used to place counters on. Very large concentrations/cities are made up of 2,3 or 4 such white boxes. Some boxes are marked with a +1 or a -1 and these are referenced when the virus attempt to spread.

Between the city boxes a number of paths are scribed, and these indicate the routes along which the Virus' may spread. Some such as those that require long sea journeys or paths across mountains have a -1 or -2 value indicating extra movement point costs.

With regards the print and play aspects of the board, the designer has been really helpful. Not only has a large single image been provided we have the same board broken down into four separate printable parts. But wait! Not only this, the board also comes in Black and White! These are really helpful, allowing you to print the board in a number of ways and thereby much more convenient to the average print-and-player.

The rules are well written and as I mentioned earlier a little tongue in cheek, but this does not get in the way of the clarity and straight forward explanation of how to play the game. It's all liberally sprinkled with historical information. This is a good set of well written rules.

Next we have small deck of cards. Players will get a card to start another once they kill 5 million, another at 10 and another at 20. These cards contain text that describes a one time use special effect. The player can play this as appropriate and it's then discarded. As with the board, the designer has provided this in colour and black and white.

Next up we have counters. Each virus has it's own colour and a pattern that is in fact a close up photo of some virus or bacteria that's been colourised. Each player has roughly about thirty counters. interestingly enough this is not enough counters to take over the whole map which is just as well or the more virulent virus would indeed take over the whole map!

Each player also gets a play mat for his virus. This describes some special features of the players virus, such as it more virulent in north because it is cold adapted. This mat also contains two numbered tracks, these allow you to track your virus' Virulence and Mortality. Before play starts you will spend 6 points across the two tracks and set your markers appropriately.

Finally there are some quick reference sheets that nicely summarise the playing process and rules.

So how do you play it? Very simply. You start by rolling two dice, you'll use one to try and spread your virus ( place more counters on the board in adjacent white boxes ). You ll then use the other as movement pips, allowing you to move your existing virus counters along the paths between white city boxes. You get choose which die you use for which virus.

When you're spreading your virus you one attempt per pip on the die. You roll the die and try to score equal to or less than your virus' Virulence rating, if you succeed you place your counter into the space ( removing any other there ). There are penalties and bonus that may be applied.

For movement, you may only move any one counter a single space and as I mentioned earlier some paths cost extra. Note that I said any counter, that includes your opponents pieces as well, and as some locations have paths that lead off the board your able to move the others players piece off the board!

The next phase is where you check for deaths caused. You roll a die and cross reference the result with your virus' Mortality. Results vary from one in two down to one in six or even "Cure". A result of one in six means you have to remove that portion of your counters from the board, but you do score one million deaths per one of these counters. So success costs you board position.

And that's it for your turn. Simple like I said.

Game play in my experience is going to be a couple of hours for newbies but could be considerably quicker for experienced players.

I really like this game. The simple mechanics hide the actual tactics in the game. very turn you will be carefully choosing where you attempt to infect and move. It's always advantageous to try and take over your opponents counters but that is harder than taking over an empty space. Careful play of your precious cards is also a hard choice as is using your Virus special abilities.

It's good. You can get it from and

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Space Hulk - Session

Today I played a game of an old game workshop game called Space Hulk. Unfortunately for me I was playing against my son. I call him my son, but frankly I don't think the amount of good luck he has in games has anything to do with my genes!

He played the part of the space marines in mission 2. Looking over the scenario it says that the Genestealer entry points are blocked if a Marine is within 6 spaces of it. So if I'd have been the marine player I would have tried to close these entry points.

However my son had other ideas. He simply played the game by standing off at the end of long corridors in overwatch. He covered all four corridors with overwatch and waited.

I could see the idea behind that but my experience is that overwatch is good for a while but troopers generally get overwhelmed by onrushing hordes as soon as they get a jammed weapon.

So my hordes of Genestealers came onto the board and started up the corridors only to find the overwatching Marines blowing them away as quickly as they came onto the board.

So second , third and fourth turns I continued bringing the 'stealers on at the same place hoping to get my fangs into the overwatching marines. It didn't happen. On one turn I got a Genestealer next to a Marine but the 'stealer had run out of action points. Of course next turn the marine steps back and using all of his six command points empties the entire length of the corridor putting me back to square 1.

The second corridor from this entry point was overwatched by a Marine with the flamer. This of course meant that as soon as a Genestealer came in site it got flamed and this blocked the path for others!

So it came down to this. I kept almost getting to his soldiers only to have him blow me back. He seemed to get very few weapon blockages and this meant he kept on smacking me. This couldn't go on because once we hit 30 Genestalers killed it was a Marine win. So it quickly got down to this score of death. And worse luck for me, he hadn't lost a single Marine.