Sunday, May 31, 2009

DUNE express, upgrade

I've just upgraded the download file for my game design "DUNE express". This has been my gaming project for the weekend.

The game has turned out to be huge success with hundereds of people visiting tha games home page every day since it was released. Fans of the game have created alternate boards and dice and even come up with new rules and alternate rules set.

This fan work inspired me to take another look at the game and start tinkering. I tried a few things then happened on the idea to add some tokens to the game.

In the original game three faces of the Traitor die had no effect. In this new versin those three faces come into effect.

I've added three tokens , one per face of the die that previously did nothing. These new tokens are kept by the player and last from turn to turn. Each one may be discarded to ignore the effects of the Traitor die rolled by another player.

This new feature gives the players something else to consider when rolling dice and may appeal to the players if they are the defensive sort. These also give the aggresive player somthing to consider when choosing a target.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

First play of Bohnanza

I've just finished playing my first game of Bohnanza, a 1997 card game for 2 to 7 players.

There were three of us playing and it was the first time for all of us. Considering that, it was a smooth transition into play. I started the session by explaining the rules. It was quite interesting to watch the family's eyes glazing over.

I don't think I was explaining badly it was just a little too much for them. I gave up explaining and instead played through one turn as the starting player. Of course even that didn't really explain everything as the trading aspect doesn't make sense to a player until they've got some beans on the table. So my first turn was planting a bean and then keeping the two cards that come up for auction.

My son took the second turn and when he drew the two cards I offered to trade cards that would add to his fields even though the cards I was trading for did me no good. That was the main hurdle and everyone could see the benefits at that point.

So play went round the table for a few turns and I made a comment about trading cards just to clear them out of my hand so I could play the cards I wanted to on my turn. This seemed to ring a bell and the trading stepped up a notch.

During one trade on my wifes turn she was asking for a Red Bean which was going to give her a score. I looked at the cards in my hand and offered her a Red Bean, but only if she also took two duff cards I didn't want that she didn't want either. She took them. I was well happy with the trade.

My son was collecting the bigger sets of cards. He was collecting Coffee Beans for the longest time and was trying to maximise the number of coins he collected. On the oter hand I was taking coins at every opportunity except on two occasions where I spent some time collecting Chillie Beans and Garden Beans, ut these were the exceptions.

My wife was doing a mixture of collecting big runs such as Coffee Beans and Blue Beans and doing some give away trades to complete the sets.

The game played on... and on... the game box says the game runs 45 minutes, for us it went on a good deal longer, but I can put that down to it being the first play. the rules say, you play through the deck three times, which we did, but it seemed a bit long for them. I think that in our next play we'll try going through the deck just twice.

I was very pleased to find that the down time in the game is minimal as you can get involved in trades during other players turns.

The final score left us with some very close scores, My son hit 22 while my wife and I both scored 23. This is a game we will be playing again.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Red November

I recently received Red November and yesterday finally got around to playing a solo game to learn the rules.

It took me an age to get the game set up. First I had to read the rules until I got to the Setting up section, that was fine but for some reason I felt like it was taking ages to get the bits set up. The main problem was sorting out the Captains grog which meant I was sorting through the most numerous components. Maybe I was tired, but it just seemed like ages.

The basics of the game were straight forward and within a few minutes I was getting the hang of it. The three Gnomes I was running, were zooming up and down the sub and managing to control the oncoming disasters.

It seems that the game basic are easily grasped, however... there are a lot of fiddely bits. A lot of what if's. A lot of Can I do's. The rules lack an FAQ which in my opinion it is sorely in need of. When you read the text in the rulebook you can find most of the answers but they are buried in places you wouldn't look. For instance you might have a question about fire but the answer is buried in the section about water. The rules aren't long but they are as I said, fiddely.

I think a couple more plays and I'll be breezing through the game without the constant references and look-ups, but its a shame. The game looks so sweet and cute that you also want it to be easy to get into it, but alas it is not so. I bought the game hoping to play with the family, but this level of complexity means that I'm going to have to REALLY LEARN the rules. The "family" does not have patients for rules look-ups.

When I get my head around the rules and a couple of family games done I'll post a review.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Catching up

Yesterday I got a big box of games delivered. It's the first time I've ever had more than one game delivered at a time and yes, it was just like Christmas in May!

What did I get? Is it all of the latest faddy games, the latest hot numbers from the continent? Nope.

It's kind of a catching up delivery, where I get to catch up with the game world for a while. Nothing new here ( well, except maybe one ). I ordered some cool stuff.

Bohnanza : A card game about bean farming. A classic by all accounts and the bean graphics appealed to me.

Lost Cities : Another classic, I'm hoping to get this to the table for me and my wife.

Red November : The newest of the bunch, it's such a silly theme that I'm hoping that the family will enjoy playing. Fingers crossed.

Ticket to Ride : What can I say, I've played this online and loved it. I've been desperately wanting this for years!

Around the World in 80 Days : I loved the book and the simplicity of play looked rather like Ticket to Ride, so I'm hoping it will rub the same itch.

Zooloretto : It has a cute panda on the box, how can it not be great. A flippin PANDA!

Memoir '44 : I already own M44, but this is a second copy. I'm hoping to try the Overlord scenarios now. Additionally I often play the game at work so having one copy there and one at home should make my life easier. The game gets heavy after cycling to work 10 miles!

M44 Air Pack : I need to have more M44!

M44 Eastern Front : I need to have more M44.

So now I've a good few weeks of gaming to wallow in, and I'm soooo looking forward to it. ;)

I ordered the games from Green Knight Games here in the UK and had very prompt delivery, I'm yet again very happy with their service.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

DUNE express

Two things have come together in my latest free print and play game release.

The first thing is that I've played Monopoly Express from Hasbro.

The second thing is that I'm having trouble getting people together to play DUNE.

So I came round to creating "DUNE express". This takes the Dune premise of taking control of a majority of the habital regions of Arrakis and devolves it down to a simple dice game.

It's not just dice however, these are special dice, and its not just rolling, you have to make decisions with every roll. It's for 2 - 5 players but probably best with 3 or 4.

You have 4 faction dice. These have one face per faction and forgive my spelling these being , Spacing Guide, Atredies, Corrino, Harkonnen, Bene Gesseret and Fremen.

You also have a traitor die, that has six side but only three count, these being, Hunter Seeker, Poison and Crysknife.

There is also a location die that names Arakeen, Carthag and the Sietches.

Finally there is tha Spice die giving numbers 1 to 5 and of course Shia Hulud.

There is also a map which has the Polar Sink at its centre and the 5 other regions surrounding it.

On your turn you roll the dice and then have to accept the result on at least one. The dice you didn't accept you can reroll, but each time you reroll you must accept at least one die from the result.

When you roll your faction that counts as a set of troops. The Spice allows you to move troops onto the map and from the Polar Sink. The traitor die allows you to remove an opponents troop for the board. THe location dictate which of the locations you can move troops to. So each die has a meaning when you roll and you have to decide to accept or reroll.

This gets you into situations when you just cant get the location or the amount of spice that you need so you reroll in but each reroll give you less options.

You need to move troops into three of the locations and be in sole possesion of those three locations to win. Fighting is simple elimination of equal numbers of troops.

So it's very simple but , and I'm being quite imodest here, does have an attractive depth of play, that I think might get you to come back and play again.

If your interested, the game is available for free from my BookRanger site.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

New game brewing, and battling the bulge

My game designer hairs are twitching again. An idea has yet again kept me awake at night. I hate it when that happens.

This time I tried a "coping technique". that is to say, I stopped trying to sleep and instead sat up, and wrote down everything that was whizzing through my brain.

Didn't help.

Next time, I think I'll just try eating some doughnuts. I don't think it'll help me sleep, but at least it will be tasty!

I thought I'd also let you know how my attempt at Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge went. It went very well. About two turns in I realised That I had been playng it wrong , DOH! I didn't reset the game, but instead just carried on, and I don't think it help the Axis forces too much.

The German forces zoomed across the board, powering up the centre and simply zooming over the town of Bastogne and forming the bulge.

The Allies get a lot of reinforcements that can come in from the edges of the board. This is quite clever because it recreates the "bulge". It accentuates the bulginess of "the bulge".

The Allies struggled. A mistake of using the trucks coming in from each flank to drop supplies in the centre of the board where the Axis forces were striding forwards left the flanks without the fuel they need to pinch the bulge.

Indeed on one flank the American forces were stacked into just a couple of powerful hexes but I managed to cut the roads behind them stopping supplies from anywhere else reaching them. This kept them immobile for two turns but sadly it was not to last. Just then the Allied air power started to take effect.

The Allied aircraft made a point of attacking unprotected fuel dumps on the first turn and managed to do terrible damage to the Axis plans. From that point on, as the designers of the game intended the Axis was pushed slowly back until the end game was reached.

I really enjoyed the game. Took a couple of hours with interruptions of casual play. It's a one scenario game so I don't intend to try playing again for at least a few months, but I am looking forward to it.