Sunday, September 28, 2008

Zombie in my Pocket

A good while agao I made up a copy of a game called "Zombie in my Pocket". This was back in the games very early days and it had very poor, play-test-quality graphics. Since then the game had moved on, a whole new graphic layer had been added and the rules refined a little.

I saw these new graphics a few months back but had trouble getting enough will power to revisit the game. I make at least one board or card game a week for the reviews I do on my podcast so it's very hard for me find time or will power to revisit a game I've already made.

Yesterday I found myself with some spare time so I finally pulled my gumption out of the cupboard and put it to work.

I downloaded the upgraded components and while I was at it, some of the variants of the game as well. I carefully printed out all of the bits got gluing cutting and folding and in half an hour I had a terrific looking game. Suddenly I really wanted to play this game again. The quality in the components is hugely better. When I compared the orginal bits to the new bits it was a total revolution. The old copy of the game had sat on the shelf for quite a while. The new set I've already played twice and the kids saw me playing, and asked to play as well BONUS!

So now I'm thinking I should perhaps revisit some of the other print and play games that have been hanging around for a while. A quick look at Board Game Geek shows that many of the games I've made and reviewed have been upgraded since so perhaps I should get printing them... but there is room in the Zombie in my Pocket box to add a couple of the variants as well. Which first, Aliens in my Pocket, Dungeon in my Pocket, Trekkie in my Pocket...

Boy oh boy, I love free games!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Game of Nations - Review

Today I decided to bin my copy of Game of Nations. Lunchtime this week has been a short series of goes at this game. None of them were at all satisfying.

When I first saw the game I thought that the pieces minimalist feel gave it that Diplomacy feel. I thought that the paper money ( printed on only one side ) was a bit lame but I was prepared to deal with that because this game dates from the 1970's. The board is huge and again a bit minimalist and this also appealed to me.

So considering that this looked so good where did it fall down?

The first place where it falls is that the box claims it's a game for 2-4. I think this game is best with 2, terrible for 3 and pointless for two out of the 4 in a four player game. Let me explain that.

The game starts with you placing/claiming territories and with 3 players tail-end-charlie cant claim the same number of locations as the other players. The economies of game mean that this leaves number 3 with half the income of the other two and in a position to be eliminated in a very few turns. No chance.

With four players everyone plays for a little longer but as soon as one player makes an attack he effectively eliminates the one he attacks. It will then not be long before the third player is eliminated.

And so we come to the 2 player game. When you play with 2 there is a more balanced game that is going to last a little longer. When you eliminate players and get back down to 2 you are also in the same situation.

Unfortunately the two player game isn't much better. The players will turtle for a couple of turns and then launch attacks. The first player to be attacked will find himself down on income has at that point quite simply lost.

The game includes EARLY player elimination meaning some poor sap or saps will have time on their own.

Playing tactics are very simple you need to match ships with oil derricks. Lose a territory and you lose the derricks, you also lose the ships if there are any there. So the simple play is take the territory where your opponent has his ships. Fine that's straight forward. Unfortunately, you save money for a couple of turns, you make an attack and you opponent is probably out of the game. Why so quick an end? Because there are only four locations on the board where you can place ships, and you can not effectively defend any of them, therefore you have to either put all of your eggs in one basket and earn lots or spread them out and earn less because your going to keep losing them. You need money to grow, you need money to move, if you have less money than your opponent you can not catch up.

There are locations on the board that force you to draw cards if you land on them. These cards can be a boon or a bane. In one game a player was down to one ship and was not able to make any money so drew a card hoping for money instead it sunk his ship. Zap, just like that he was out. Not due to bad play, just because he had no other choice.

So to summarise. The game eliminates players quickly, has crappy money, unsatisfactory game play, no depth and no way to stratergize. As soon as you have a set back you will have no way of coming back.

Don't buy this game.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sink the Bismarck - Released

I've released another of my own game designs today. This time it's a solotaire game called "Sink the Bismarck". I think you can guess the theme!

All you need to do is read the rules and print out two sheets. The first sheet is the board and the second contains only 12 double sided counters.

In the game you are playing as the anti air controller on board the Bismarck, trying desperately to take out the incoming Swordfish torpedo bombers as they race towards the ship.

The board is simply four columns and a number of rows that get closer to the ship. Planes are placed randomly on the top row each turn, and then moved turn by turn down the board towards the ship. When they get to the last two rows the plane counters are flipped to the other side meaning they have become torpedos.

As you are directing the guns you have to predict where each plane will move next turn and direct your guns there. Then the planes move and if your guns match the planes new location you roll a die to see if you hit.

Torpedos behave differently they just come straight at you and you can place gun fire on them but at a much reduced effectivity.

You score points for downed aircraft and bigger points for getting the torpedos. When your ship is hit by five torpedos the game is over and you count the points to see what your final score is.

Simple fun. Check it out over at my game site.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A session of the Catan card game

Catan Card Game .If you know the game your first thoughts when seeing the title of this post will be "lunchtime(?) how did you manage that????" Indeed the game I'm about to talk about lasted about two and half hours. Did I have an extended lunch?

I'm a lucky son-of-a-bilge-rat because my boss lets me leave games set up at work from one day to the next. I even had a heroscape left set up in the office for an entire two week long game once! In this case, we started the game on Monday and played for about half an hour per lunchtime until finishing on Friday.

Anyway back to the game.

It started out pretty standard, we spent a couple of turns just gathering resources before we could start building. The barbarians came in a couple of times and looted the place. I built two garrisons shortly after the invading hordes and fortunately these protected my goods throughout rest of the game. I didn't suffer again from their depredations.

I always try to focus on getting as many villages as possible when I play, because if I can make an early grab before my opponents he is going to have less spaces to build, and of course less victory points.

In this game my opponent took the same course and actually beat me to the last village, so he had one more than me. This came about because as luck would have it, I found I had the goods to upgrade to a city but not to buy into another village and I chose to upgrade. For the rest of the game I was regretting that decision as his extra resources kept hitting me, as I'll explain.

I was the first to get a knight on the board, and with a couple of fleets I managed to grab the windmill token as well. That gave me a two point lead. However my worthy opponent realising that these could be taken away from me set to the task.

He played out a knight taking the token from me. I played a second knight getting it back. He played another getting the token again, I then played a card that upgraded all of my knights and I managed to keep the knight token from then on. He switched his attack to taking away my windmill token. With just two buildings he gained a total of seven windmill symbols and thus gained the token. Of course no sooner had he done that than the windmill came up on the die and started stealing MY RESOURCES!

He had also managed to play a card that let him search through the stacks of cards for just a single resource when replenishing his hand. This is where the extra resources he was getting came into their own. After four or five turns he had managed to find two stacks each with an arsonist card in it.

So thus armed with this knowledge he commenced a concentrated attack on my buildings where by he used his additional resources to buy these cards first from one stack and from the other and played them one per turn. Normally this tactic would be devastating and impossible to fight off. However the fickle-finger-of-fate was up to it's old tricks. The arsonist card has a 1 in 6 chance of backfiring when used. It backfired on him 3 out of 4 of his attacks, thus decimating his own buildings.

My opponent became disheartened with his method of attacked and ceased. However at that point I had an arsonist card in my hands. So played another building that brought within 1 point of victory and then played the arsonist card against him. I was really hoping that the fickle-finger was pointing the other way and rolled the die. I got a four meaning I could pick a building of his to BURN! I burnt his building that had four windmill symbols, that gave me the windmill token and the final victory point for a win! :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Looking for a theme

So I've come up with an idea for a betting game. Players will make 2 or 3 bets per round on what cards get pulled from a deck of cards. The player does not bet an amount but just puts their marker on bets that give a fixed return.

A very simple idea, unfortunately the theme I have to paste on this is rather lame. The working title for the game at present is "The Office Pool" and the idea is that players are betting on events taking place at the office.

Frankly the idea matches the game but it's a bit lame, a bit unispired. There must be a better theme. I've yet to come up with something better.

The point is, you place bets and get money back if the bet pays off. Obviously the money could be rethemed to be practicly anything. Victory points, brownie points, popularity, radiation, tempreature anything , anything at all.

Any suggestions welcome, I need a theme!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Plan for revenge

Yesterday was to be my glorious day. I've two base sets of Heroscape and yesterday I planned to have a lot of fun combining the two full sets of terrain into a single map and battling across it.

Sadly the plan was dimmed a little because the living room floor was not available for use. Instead I had to resort to using my fold away table in the bedroom. This is a wooden affair fixed to the wall and not very big. I laid out all of the big map segments I could which filled the space with a few left over. I thought it was a shame as I had wanted to make a BIG map.

So not being able to spread, I built up. Pilling the hexes one on top of another building a platform and the ramps up to it. This part is almost as much fun as the game itself!

When every piece of terrain I could fit was finally on the table I broke the news to my son that a map was ready for play, and his face lit up :) . We then went through the 400pt army selection process. He was opting for heros and as it turned out I was opting for numbers of figures.

We started on opposite sides of the map and went for it. I started my troops sprinting from the back of the map towards the big ramp to upper level which started at the front of the map. Other troops I sent across the map under the platform hoping to distract his troops. His troops edged forwards some heading for the ramp, and like me detaching some to go under the platform.

In turn two it started going wrong for me. His troops the Airborne elite dropped in, where else but on the platform, each dropped into a perfect sniper position. He also had the agents in black, these he split between the ramp and under the platform.

The winged female ( name forgotten ) jumped onto the tall spire next to the main platform. She has no range but a cool defensive effect for those nearby so she offered protection to the agents at her feet.

The airborne poured fire down onto my troops. It started with grenades, that killed half of the viking warriors and continued over the next few turns to wipe out the marro boys who's return fire was just pityful.

The remaining vikings and a viking hero started to climb the ramp only to come face to face with a bloke in black who immediately carried out a couple of execution type killings.

Under the platform my robots and the archer focused on trying to kill the sergeant but the attacks were getting nowhere due in part to that winged woman! I finally took out a woman in black but at the cost of a robot and the archer.

The viking hero on the ramp finally got into contact with the man in black and put him down. He then surged up the ramp under a withering fire from the airborne. He managed to put one of them to death before he was himself slain. The lone robot under the platform battled on without success until he (it) was finally deactivated.

So yet another loss to my son. I've sworn revenge will take place today with a game of space hulk. I'll get himm yet!

Edit : He just beat as both Marines and Genestealers!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The irony of it

Last year I made up a Print and Play copy of Space Hulk. It didn't get many plays so I binned it. Well, not binned but rather harvested, I kept all of the bits that I think I might reuse in some other game, the rest was binned. Then within he week I visit a chartity shop and find a copy of 2nd Edition Space Hulk. I crack open the box and find that the rule book is missing. I dont mind that as I know I can print it out, as I had for my old copy.

So without any delay I purchase this game and bring it home. Oh woe, woe, what awful woe, when I check over the plastic figures. One Marine is missing, only his arm is left! All of the other marines have the arms stuck out in front of them like a horde of marine zombies, but worse they are all stuck into the bases the wrong way round meaning the zombie posture makes them unstable.

More Woe: Over half of the genestealer arms are stuck on backwards!

Yet more Woe : An half-hearted attempt has been made to paint them. All of the Marines have a single colour daubed on them, not even a good covering, not even in squad colours. The same is true for half the Genestealers.

Total Woe : I can not leave them like that. So I have started painting them all black to hide the evel paint jobs. The Marine bases also need to be "fixed" with some weight adding to the underside.

... and yet last night after lots of effort I finally finished a proper paint job on ONE marine. Heck, it's been years since I've painted a mini and I'd forgotten just how much time it takes, phew!

So now I'm looking at all of the minis in the box and thinking , is there a way to short cut this? Unfortunately I'm also thinking, no there isnt.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Trial by Roll and Move

Yesterday I played my first game of Diagon Alley which is a Harry Potter licensed game from 2001. It was not a good experience, but neither was it a terribly bad one.

The board has two tracks running around it. Players roll and move around the inner track, occasionally getting thrown onto the outer track. The Inner track gives you access to shops where you can buy the items required to win. Each circuit of the board earns you a bit of money.

So far it sounds dire but there is a little more to it. Spaces on the board and a "1" on the die, grant you a spell card. These allow you to jump around the board, take items from other players, earn extra money and that sort of thing. The card play is where the small amount of tactics come into the game.

Fortunately for me I read what Board Game Geek had to say about this game before playing. the rules state there should be one less of each item required to win, than there are players, presumably to make you more aggressive, but to be honest you'll play the aggressive cards when you get them anyway so it slows the game for no real benefit. Following the BGG advice I played the game with enough items for everyone. Doing this kept the game down to about an hour. Any longer would have been dire!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Short Heroscape Session

My shortest ever game of Heroscape took place today. We were playing the last but one scenario in the original book. In this scenario and the end of turn 1 everything on ground level takes 1 hit. At the end of turn 2, everything on level 1 or 2 takes a hit and so on for the first 5 turns.

It was the usual 400 point armies, and I didn't look carefully at the terrain before selecting troops. It was only after picking the army and sitting at the table I realised the trouble I was in.

The battle field is mostly split into two part by water, the troops all start on the low end of the map and have to quickly run to the other end of the map where the levels are higher.

When I started counting the hexs from one end to the other and comparing that to movement allowances I realised I had make some serious errors. My starting area was two high and there was a wide section of level 1 between there and the other end of the map where the ground started going higher.

So I sent Mimring halfway across thelow ground expecting her to take 1 hit after the first round and then be able move to the high ground after that. My opponent promptly hit the dragon for 4 hits. My other troops crossed over to my opponents side and started kicking up fight. My nobel opponent however had sent one of his troopers zooming along the map and left all of the others to block the way and stop me using that avenue to the high ground.

Turn 1 ends and Mimring bites the dust as the fumes choke off her last life point. Turn 2 my only other hero is killed by a lucky shot and all but two of my other troops are also killed by the rising fumes. Turn 3 we play out because I have a couple of shots but then I resign. I cant cross the killing fumes or shoot across the gap.

Game over.