Thursday, April 30, 2009

Battle of the Bulge

I have a day off work and decided to crack out my very unused copy of Axis and Allies Battle of the Bulge. I've had this game for a number of months but have literally only opened once.

Just after I got it I set it all up and run three quarters of the way through the first turn and ran into a bunch of questions. I managed to puzzle out a few of the intentions obscurely stated in the rules but eventually ran into a complete block.

The rules are not the best written I've come across. I'm guessing that the rules assume some knowledge of the other Axis and Allies games but as I've never played any of them I just didn't know how to progress.

So I went to Board Game Geek and posted my questions and even had some answers, but it's only now, some two or three months later that I've got the will power to have another crack at it. I tend to get a little depressed by poor rules that I can't fathom so it it takes me a while to try again.

Wish me luck, I'm going in!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Racing Dogs

I've just released another Print and Play game. It's a card game called Racing Dogs for 2 to 4 players and lasts about 30 minutes.

The theme of the game of game is players betting on dog races, although I have strictly left the work "Betting" out of the game materials.

Instead of money, players place tokens on the dogs and then score points based on the token values at the end of the race.

Each player gets a hand of cards numbered variously from -4 to +7. That also get three tokens with values of 1,2 and 4.

In each race three dogs run. Before trhe race starts each player places their three tokens one on each dog. The clever bit here is the one of the tokens is face up and the other two face down. This means that there is some information about who's backing each dog but it's not complete.

Then players start playing cards from their hand one at a time onto a dog of thier choice. The numbers on the cards are added up for each dog after every card play, and as soon as one reaches 20 it's won the race. The players then score points equal to the token placed against the winning dog.

It's mechanicly very simple but includes some player interaction and back stabbing but also players will all score every round meaning it stays close right to the end. This also means that every card play matters as you have to make choices about pushing your dog forwards or holding back others.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I've finally done it

It's finally happened, I've made a gamer. I took the unsullied flesh of a non gamer and converted him to a real genuine gamer!

The gateway game that did it was one of my favourites Memoir '44.

I've been playing this game on and off during lunchtimes at work with a small group for ages. Then this new guy saw us at play and stopped by to watch.

Then he came back and watched again. About 20 lunctimes later he decided to jump in and give it a go. Today he was playing the first scenario from the base game "Pegasus Bridge".

It was quite funny to see him start the game with a small handful of tactics cards , which is not the easiest of outsets but he's soldiering on.

After a few games of Memoir, I think I'll try him with Dune, thats a games I've been wanting to get back on the table for sooo long. Or will that be going too far too soon?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scooby Doo Escape from the Vortex - Review

My son spotted this the other day and we grabbed it. Today we gave it a try, so here's a detailed look at it.

The game comes in a small box a bit bigger than your average paper back book. The box cover is really shiny and very colourful, prefect fot attracting your average Scooby Doo fan, like myself.

The Game has a puzzle like board making it much larger than the box would suggest. The board is very VERY colourful. It's main feature is a black and yellow circle offset from the middle that actually sits on a spindle just above the board that allows it to spin around. The majority of the board is made up of large purple pipes that lead around and bend back on themselves. These pipes are segmented and these are the spaces along which you will move the pieces.

There are many "pipe break" spaces these show a couple of creepy eyes peering out the pipes dark interior. When setting up the game you place a token on top of each of these. The tokens have a matching "Pipe Break" on their reverse. On their obverse side they show one of three things. Either a box of scooby snacks, a security key rather like a credit card or finally a robot.

For playing pieces you have thick cardboard stand ups. There is one for each member of the Scooby Gang detailing the characters front and rear on eachj side. There are also 3 Robot standups Each comes with a plastic base to stand them in. The bases have a good grip on the figure and are weighty enough to not blow over at the first breeze.

There are also two standard six sided dice one black and one white.

The objective of the game is to move your character around the pipes picking up the counters to pass. Once you have a security key and three Scooby Snacks you make your way to an escape space on the board. First one there wins.

On your turn you start by revolving the vortex circle anti clockwise one space.

The outside of this vortex is made up of movement spaces and the ends of pipes. Characters can only move off of the vortex and into the pipes if they pass through a pipe end that is currently aligned with the pipes on the board.

Once you've turned the vortex you roll a die for movement. If there are any Robots in play you also roll the black die for their movement, you move all of the robots in play the number of spaces indicated. Then you do the same using the white die for your own character.

When moving your piece if you pass over a "Broken Pipe" token you flip it over and see what it is. If its a Key or snack you take it. If it's a robot, you replace the token with a robot standup.

The robots are where the only limited stratergy in the game come into play. When moving them you can pass over spaces occupied by other players, which allows you to send them back to their starting space in the vortex. Sadly that's it for tactics and stratergy. You'll find yourself moving the robots away from your piece and towards your opponents and they likewise.

The game is listed as being for ages 6+ and that's fair enough. It's roll and move with just a little more added and there is nothing to appeal to adults.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More thrift store bargains

Another couple of hours spend drifting around charity shops has found c ouple of games for me to have a go at.

The first is a Ravensburger game simply called Quest. You move your piece around a board competing to collect a ring and run it to the the three cities. You also get to plant blocks in front of your opponents and use "lives" to battle each other and dragons!

The other, I don't have must hope for, my son spotted it and hoofed it off the shelf. It's another Scooby Doo game. And after the disaster that was the last Scooby Doo game we tried I was a little jaded. This one however does look like it might actually be a game, where-as the last one was not! This one's called "Escape from the Vortex" and isn't in the BoardGameGeek database ( I've submitted it now ) so I cant guess how good/poor it may really be. Hopefully this holiday I'll get to play it and try it out.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wrting Rules

I'm having a hard time putting together some rules for a new game design. I posted here a while ago about a game design based on the or at least inspired by the computer game "Stronghold".

Yesterday I finally got around to starting the rules. It's hard work. I have the entire game in my head and could tell you how to play really quick if we were sitting round a table. It just feels so slow and pedantic to have to write these things down. writing

I'm a very quick typist so its not the actual wordage that's the problem it's the thought process. I write a paragraph, go on the next then stop. Re-read the paragraph and realise I've left something out. Every time, every darned paragraph!

I enjoy creative writing, that stuff just flows from my fingers but when I have to be clear, concise and cover not only what you have to do to, but also word things so that they can't be misinterpreted my brain starts frying. I hope to get this first full draft put together by the weekend, and I'm going to truly grateful to get this job off of my desk.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Dogs

I've just had a most enjoyable 10 minute family game while sat around watching the TV.

"What!" you say. "The Telly!" you say, "How can that be?" you ask.

Well a few months back I noticed that we have a Sky channel called "The Dogs" and every two minutes this channel runs a computer based dog race. It a computer version of going to a dog track.

The TV shows you 6 dogs one after another, you see the dog, the colours its wearing "The odds" and the dogs name on screen for a few seconds. Then a summary, then the computer animates the race. These computer dogs then race once around the track, and the top three are then listed.

Very simple entertainment.

For our game, I gave everyone five chips. Each turn everyone picks a dog and puts a chip in the middle. The player who's dog comes in highest gets the chips put into their score pile. If no one wins, the chips get added to by everyone next time around.

At the end of five races ( or six, if no one wins the last race ) the player with the most score-pile chips wins.

Very simple game, great fun. You sit around with the fizzy pop and some munchies discussing the dogs names for a minute or two then have the excitement of the race with associated highs and lows, and repeat. We'll be doing this again.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dinosaur King - Review

My son is a dinosaur nut so getting this game was a no brainer. A quick read through the rules game me an impression that its was a simple card game with some tactics and the usual amount of luck that card games always involve.

It's a CCG, but let me say from the outset that a couple of starter decks do give you a good game.

In your starter deck, you get a random selection of dino cards and "move" cards. You also get a play mat and a random character card. Lets take a look at them.

The play mat is a single sided affair. It features three main things. The first is a set of card shaped spaces where you'll place discards, your draw deck, and the cards you've put into play (space for three of these ).

The next feature is a Health track. This is a 20 space track that you'll have to supply a counter for. During the game this starts set to 20, full health and if reduced to zero you become the games loser!

The last feature is the turn track. It runs from 1 to 10, but that's not the length of the game, it's used as a mechanism to make the game build slowly to a finale. Once again you'll have to supply your own counter for this.

The Character card shows a picture of the character in question and details the special ability that character has. These usually involve a "once-per-game" ability such as turning an attack loss into a win, or the ability to add extra cards into an attack, simple things like this.

The cards are split into two basic types. These are "Dinosaur" and "Move". Let me take you through what appears on an example Dinosaur card.

In the top right is a symbol, there are 4 or 5 of these symbols. These are used to combine with similar symbols on "move" cards for bigger bonus'.

In the top left if a paper/scissors/stone symbol. This is used during attacks to determine who have the initiative.

The main area of the card shows a image of the Dinosaur. These vary from CGI critters to cartoon images. Some of the cards have a foil effect which usually indicates the card has a special ability.

A number appear about half way down. This number relates to the turn track on the players mat. You cant put a monster into play that has a number in this location, that is higher than the turn number. The lower numbers are usually lower in power than the higher one.

On the right about half way down are a varying number of life point symbols. These indicate how many life points the player will lose if the dino loses a fight.

Then comes some text. For you average dinosaur card this is just a non-game related fact about the dino, for some dinos this is an in-game power.

Finally at the bottom appears the dinosaurs power value. The higher, the better, the stronger.

Now onto Move Cards. These are played in combat between your dinos and your opponents. The card has a space in the top right which MAY contain a symbol. If it contains a symbol it can only be played with a dino with a matching symbol. If it is blank then it can be used with any dino.

These cards also feature dino's in action with the same variation of image types as the dinosaur cards. The card also has a text block which gives either flavour text or describes a special ability or extra bonus.

Finally at the bottom is a bonus number that is added to the dinosaurs combat value.

Now we get to how the game plays.

You start the game by drawing a hand of 6 cards. At this point you can discard your hand and redraw, but only once.

Then player start taking alternate turns. The turn sequence is as follows.

1) Move the turn track marker.
2) Draw two cards
3) As many times as you want you may play dinosaurs from you hand onto the play mat and make attacks.
4) Discard down to 8 cards in the hand.

Making an attack is very simple. You indicate which of your dinos is making the attack and which of your opponents Dinos you are attacking. You compare the paper/scissors/rock symbols and the loser has to play a move card first, if they want to. The winner may then play a move card. Each player total the points of their dinosaur and move card and the winner is the player with the higher total.

The losers dinosaur is discarded as are both players move cards. The losing player also reduces his life point track by the number of life point symbols on the defeated dinosaur card.

This is very simple, but the play is complicated by the abilities of the dinosaurs in play, the abilities on the move cards and the characters ability if used.

Some cards give you pause for thought. For instance you may have a card that lets you attack with two dinosaurs but at the cost of a life point or two.

I've played the game with just a couple of starter decks and it worked very well, I will be playing again, light and fun.