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!