Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dinosaur King - Session

This weekend I played my first CCG (collectable card game) in many a year. The game is a relatively new one, Dinosaur King.

A bit of research on the web has shown that the game is supported by a cartoon series and is also an arcade video game. The arcade game apparently is still a card game... A card game in the arcade is pushing my understanding of video games, but then I haven't been in an arcade for many a year.

So the game itself. It was the first game for both me and my son.

We layed out the playmats and set a couple glass beads each onto the health and turn tracks and placed our decks there as well.

We drew our starting hands. My son opted to swap his entire hand, I just kept what I had as it was a reasonable mix.

He started off dropping a level one beasty in front of himself but opted to not attack straight off.

I didn't have any level one dinos, so basically just drew the extra cards.

On his next turn he laid down another dino.

I now had a low level dino so played that out. I also had a reasonable move card so decided to make an attack as well. He countered with a move card that won the fight for him and my only dino was consigned to the discard pile.

The turn track was climbing and so we played on being able to lay out bigger and bigger dinos, and making bigger and bigger attacks.

At one point I had two strong dinos in my hand and a couple of weak ones on the table but was reluctant to play them as each attack with them would cost me a life point!

Another interesting point was when my son had out a 2000 point dino that was totally unassailable by any card combo I could play. So I had to sit back waiting for good cards and watching him slaughter the dinos I had worked so hard to get into play.

I did come back from this and even took out his big 2000 pointer by playing a special move that combined a grass dino with a grass move for an additional 700 points. It was just as well I managed it as each attack he made with it gained him another health point back!

But alas, the game started as it was destined to go on. Each time I hit him he came back stronger and he finally took my last health point and I had only reduced him to 7.

For a first play it was pretty cool. Turns out that a couple of starter decks work perfectly and I dont see a big investment in extra cards here :D

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Playing Cheese Chasers

I reviewed the free game Cheese Chasers a while back. Well now I've gone a step further and put together a video of me playing a session...

... as you'll see it's a very simple boardgame and plays very quickly. A fun light filler I guess. Might work in a classroom as a project to make study and play

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Memoir '44 dice roller

After the release of my Doom Dice roller I was inspired to take the concept a little further. The dice that came in my copy of Memoir '44 are already wearing out. On a couple of the dice you can barely see the flags.

So It seemed appropriate to take the same concept and produce a Memoir '44 dice roller as well.

Sadly of late my game playing has been somewhat curtailed and I'm missing it quite a bit.

This weekend the family got around the table and we played a couple of hand of the Sherlock Holmes card game. This game was produced by Gibson Games back in '91 and is really very good for mass produced game. At one point this game was in all of the shops but then just disappeared from the shelves and has not be reprinted since as far as I know. Such a shame.

When the players are familiar with the cards it plays very quickly and is a nice bit of fun for the family or gamers alike. I got mine cheaply from EBay and there are quite often copys of the game on there going for reasonable prices

After that we played three player David and Goliath, my son had dropped out after his Sherlock Holmes win, obviously wanting to go out a winner. As usual when we play this game, my wife stormed into the lead by taking practically no cards at all until the end of the game. I'd love to know how she manages to kick my butt every time but she does!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cheese Chasers - Review

I played Cheese Chasers for the first time this weekend and I fear I may be in danger of becoming addicted to this solitaire game. It is a very neat little game.

The theme of the game is cats, mice and cheese. The artwork is a very good cartoony style that will have an immediate appeal for kids, but dont let that put you off. As I'll explain it's not just for kids.

When you download the game ( it's free Print and Play ) you get one PDF of the rules. These only cover a single sheet which is formatted in a pocket-mod format so that you origami it into a tiny booklet. This little booklet explains the rules and even manages to squeeze in 7 diagrams explaining play.

The next two PDFS are a single page each and contain the tiles you use in play. One page is entirely made up of Mouse tiles, these are the good guys, you will use them to generate your score.

The next PDF contains a mix of tile types, including the Cheese, Cat and Mouse Trap tiles.

The final PDF contains tile backs. When I made my copy of the game I didn't bother with tile backs as I used a plain card backing for my tiles.

Setting up to play is simplicity itself, turn the tiles face down and shuffle.Then you draw a tile and place it face up in the middle of the table.

From here on you simply draw a tile and must place it adjacent to the previous tile, either diagonal or orthoganal. That's very simple, but you have a descision to make with every tile based on what your've drawn and how the tiles in play are already laid out.

The non mouse tiles all have different effects on play.

A Cheese tile when in play is a way of gaining a lot of points. If you manage to orthoganlly surround the Cheese with Mice you get a bonus 10 points. Wether you surround it or not each mouse adjacent to the Cheese gains a bonus point.

There are four mouse trap tiles in the deck. If three of these come into play and aren't deactivated the game ends immediately. You can deactivate a trap by orthogannly surrounding it with mice. So you must deactivate one or two of these in order to play all of the tiles.

The last tile type is the Cat. A Cat tile will deactivate any mouse ties that are orthoganally adjacent to it. If those mice are deactivating a trap then they no longer deactivate it, if they are surrounding a Chees they no longer count for that either. Furthermore the poor mouse doesn't score you any points.

Another point to keep in mind is that if you can get two or more Cheese's orthogannly adjacent and then surround them all with mice they count double.

It all sounds rather simple, but in play you'll find yourself trying maximise points and avoid pitfalls with every tile you lay.

It plays quite quickly, just a few minutes really and when all of the tiles are laid, you count up your score. 100 points is a good target but in this game your always trying to beat your best score.

I would suggest this as a great "hand crafted present" for your friends and a great addition to your own collection.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Print and Play video

I've just uploade another Print and Play video to YouTube. In this case it shows how I went about making a free game called Cheese Chasers

Friday, March 13, 2009

DOOM dice roller

As you may or may not know, the game "DOOM : The Boardgame" came with some rather poor dice. The special symbols were printed onto the sides and very quickly wore off!

My dice wore out after only 3 games but a quick email to the wonderful support people at Fantasy Flight Games soon had a replacement set winging their way through the post to my door.

In the meantime I needed a die roller to replace my worn out dice. So I wrote a web based die roller. I've now posted this die roller to my web site so anyone with worn out dice or who has perhaps lost a die under the fridge or even to the cats stomach can still play DOOM.

DOOM die roller


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Well And Donkey - Review

On my podcast this week I reviewed a free Print and Play expansion for the well known and very popular game Carcassonne.

The "Well and Donkey" is a story that originates in the city of Carcassonne itself and in particular focuses on the big well found in that city.

The well itself is huge and of course when tourists see it, they have to walk over and have a look in. It's not just tourists, everyone feels drawn to look in and maybe that's where the story started, springing as it were from the mysterious drawing power of the well.

The story goes along these lines. A bunch of archers were carousing loudly in the city one night and went as far as swearing against the saints. They spotted a donkey passing by with a really swanky bit of cloth on its back, and one of the archers couldn't resist jumping on its back. Then another archer did like wise, great fun! In the end all of the archers jumped onto the donkeys back! Then it set off running through the city, only pausing next to a graveyard where the graves opened and the dead sang a lament. Then the donkey ran to the big well and jumped in taking the archers with it. Of course it wasn't a donkey, but was really the devil!

So enough with the background what about the game bits etc?

There are 8 tiles in this PDF, which by the way is available in the files section of the Carcassonne page at board game geek. Two of the tiles feature the Well and Donkey, these are city tiles. These two tiles have a drastic effect on gameplay. When a city gains the Well and Donkey, the meeples in the city are removed from play! That's it they are gone for good, and you get no score out of it.

The other 6 tiles in the set are pretty average nothing special type things. This is good because obviously you're always going to be able to tell the home made tiles from the ones that came in the box when you brought the game. These extra 6 tiles effectively "water-down" any decision related to taking one of the new tiles.

What effect does this have on game play? Significant. Until both of the well and donkey tiles have been played players are reluctant to claim cities because they know that as soon as they do then their opponents are going to zap them by dropping the well and donkey into the city!

This reluctance to leave meeples in cities means a lot of very tiny cities get built which in turn means farmers and farming becomes immensely more important. The playing of farmers has always been a major strategy in my gaming group and this expansion intensifies that part of play and makes it very enjoyable.

When we play we always have the tiles in stacks on the table so players can choose which tile they are going to play ( only from looking at the backs of course! ). With these cards in play it is obvious which ones they are but as I said only two out of 8 are the killer tiles, so you have to make a choice, do you keep picking the expansion tiles to get rid of the donkey tiles as soon as possible or do you try and save them to attack with later, but if you do that, will your opponent beat you to the tiles!

Because we play openly this effects our play. When the tiles are drawn hidden, from a bag or some such, players feel they can risk bigger cities and that is fun to play as well. Imagine it, your opponent has a meeple in a four tile city and you draw a Well and Donkey tile, oh how you can tease him/her...

The tiles in the PDF are well drawn and print very well. Mine were printed to thin card, and mounted with spray glue onto thick card. The PDF does contain tile backs, but provided your mounting material is plain, then they are not really required.

An alternate rule that we've played with, that you might also like, is where rather than removing the meeples in the poisoned cities you simple score nothing for the city when its closed, at the end of the game, or for farming it.

All in all this a good expansion, it is simple and straight forward, no complex rules to remember. It makes enough difference in play to make the game interesting and of course that tease factor has to be worth a few points. If you've never made a print and play add-on, this would be a good first one!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Two games, one lunchtime

Yesterday lunchtime was a blast of gaming! Two of us had three quarters of a lunchtime to play. Out came Stratego slapped it down and played through a very quick game. I lost, but feel I can blame that not on tactics but on the third person watching.

Mr Third person is not a gamer he just wanted a break from his desk so wandered over and watched and asked a few questions. This is where I became doomed to be a loser. He started asking questions while chomping on his pasty. “What’s the number one called?” he asked, and I told him. Then “What do bombs do?”, with a gesture of a chin to my right side of the board. I wasn’t too worried at this point I usually spread out the bombs. I told him what bombs do. Then it happened. “What does a flag mean?”, again with the chin gesture to the right side of the board. I told him, with a saddening heart. When we play this game, it’s all about bluff and watching the opponents eyes. You know hovering your hand over a bomb or even the flag as if your about to move it, and looking for a slight cringe in the eyes as you attack a piece near the flag. So I know full well my mighty opponent hadn’t missed the gesture. I said nothing.

Suddenly all of the attacks came down the right side and I knew it was all over, but I carried on. There was no point trying to cover the flag as that would really just confirm its location, so I launched an attack down the left. Alas it was a forgone conclusion. Two scouts and one bomb later my flag was defeated.

Then we rushed onto a two player basic game of Carcassonne at hyper speed. In the end we only overran lunchtime by a couple of minutes and it was worth it, as I could end the session with a win. Mr Third stuck around, and tried to make sense of the game while we played. I could see him getting confused as we scored cities and so on. My opponent is an expert on joining his farmers into my fields so I was wary of that and got two farmers into my main field as soon as possible as an attempt to put-him-off, as he’d have to put three in there to take it away. This actually seemed to work for me so I might well try this again in future. I cant put too much hope in that tactic though because the terrain ended up dividing into two major farming areas with a major road network in the centre.

A good lunch time, a loss and a win, and as a bonus, we managed to show a non gamer that we don’t go-off-and-play-dollies at lunchtimes.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Slogging on

Not a lot of games played recently, I just haven't had the spare energy. I just had last Monday off giving myself a long weekend, but, no, it wasn't for rest and relaxation and a few friendly games of Carcassonne.

No it was for one of those three word combos I'm coming to hate. "Do It Yourself!"

Move the furniture up that end of the room. Lay half a floor. Dismantle a Foldaway bed so it'll fit in the car for a trip to the tip. Take a trip to the tip. Build a bed. rebuild the bed because I didn't follow the instruction properly. Move the furniture back. Move the furniture from the other end of the room. Dismantle a broken down old bed, saving some good bits of wood against future need. Lay half a floor. Remove a shelf and two coat hookey things. Paint the walls to cover the marks where the stuff was removed. Build a bed, right first time. Move the furniture back. Study the layout for a while. Move the furniture again. Spend a total of 8 hours doing various shopping expeditions.

Collapse into bed Sunday.

I really do prefer it when I play games instead of doing it myself.

I have manged to lay out the prototype boards for my Stronghold game during my lunch breaks. There's only a couple of hours development work left in this prototype game before I release it to any playtesters who want to try it. Yet at this time, I dont know when IF EVER I'll get the chance to finish it. Too much DIY!