Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five Torpedoes and down she goes...

I've just finished my first game in a couple of months of "Sink the Bismarck", and managed a reasonable score, but in a rather odd way.

The first couple of turns passed with things going my way quite nicely, I managed to down a couple of Swordfish planes quite quickly, but then things started going weird.

The early success turned into air-gunnery disaster, when for turn after turn I hit nothing at all, and the first torpedo hit the ship very quickly.

Another couple of rounds later and the air was filled with Swordfish and I was having to point all of the guns into the water to fend off torps.

It was in the water that my luck was strongest. In the end I blew thirteen torpedos and only downed five aircraft! Most turns I was pointing two gunnery dice at a torpedo, other turns all of them. Only when there was a slight breather was I able to target an aircraft.

In the water I kept getting 6 after 6, but in the air... only despair!

When you target an aircraft in one of the outer air lanes it gives you a two thirds chance of targetting the right space, as the plane only has a one third chance of deviating. However this did not work for me at all in this game. The Swordfish just kept dodging.

Back in the water my luck was outrageously good. But luck is of course fickle, and my run of 6's couldn't hold. Eventually it broke and the last three torpedos all hit within two turns.

It all ended with a not-bad score of 70 points.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The end for Talisman?

Yesterday I played Talisman for the first time in probably a year, maybe two years, I havn't actually checked.

I played it because my son had been asking. I was reluctant because I knew just how long the game takes. I've felt for a long time that the game is too long, under the normal rules it usually runs for 3+ hours.

To address the time problem I've made a few house rules, which are as follows.

1 ) When you kill Craft based monsters you can cash in your trophes for a gain in craft, just like you do for Strength.

2 ) Instead of needing 7 Strength ( or Craft, see rule 1 ) in trophies to increase a stat, you only need 5.

3 ) You can have as many followers as you can collect.

4 ) No limit to how m any items you can carry

5 ) No limit on the number of weapons, armors etc you can use, so yes, you only have two arms but can use 6 swords.

6 ) Start with 4 gold.

So thats what I changed in order to speed up the game. However, it wasn't enough. Sure it speeded up the game, but something was still wrong. It's only now the next day that I've allowed mysef to see the problem.

"Allowed myself to see", you say? Yep, I believe that I've been in denial about this game. I've actually had this game since the 80s and even bought an expansion for it back in the day. This game has followed me for over 20 years and that has given it a certain amount of "value".

But now, now that my experience of games has grown, I've come to realise in the last day that I don't actually like the game. I don't like this game that I've kept safe and secure for 20+ years and carried from home to home. That was a hard truth to uncover.

So, what is it that I dont like? Obviously it's too long. But it turns out there's more. It's just too random for my liking. As a principal I dont mind randomness in games, but here, it's gone too far. Roll to move, roll for the event card, roll for the encounter, roll for the location effects. Roll, roll, roll leading to too little choice, too much bad luck and too little stratergy.

With my new realisation I'm now planning on selling my 1983 copy of Talisman along with its expansion, making room in my collection for a game I do like!

Oh, and despite the game being so random, how come the Witch always ends up on the doorway to the inner circle?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A six turn limit.

I have now played exactly one game of Risk : Transformers.

From a read through of the rules before playing I thought I had finally found a risk variant that would work for me.

My experience of risk has been the original version which simply drags on and on longer than a game of Talisman! The other verion I played was the awful Star Wars : Clone wars disaster, which was totally broken.

So how'd it go with this game? It went very well actually!

For a start the box is just the right size, The two other versions I mentioned are in larger boxes that take up too much space. This box fitted a hole on my shelf perfectly.

Inside we have a very colourful board, Robots (transformers) and tanks for playing pieces and a somewhat bizarre L shaped piece of plastic for each factions leader, The dice are good quality and heavy.

Another nice addition is the plastic scenery. There are two turntable areas that allow you to join or break connections between two areas. You get an army into the zone, only to have your opponent swivel it so it no longer goes where you want it to go. The other two plastic zones have a sliding area that can be moved to open a factory where extra units can be created.

So what we have are some good variation to the basic game.

1) Plastic terrain pieces that move
2) Strange L shaped leader pieces ( that also fight with D8s )
3) The game is only 6 turns long


Yes that's right the game is exactly 6 turns long. And this fixes the biggest bugbear I have with Risk, that it goes on far far too long.

So all of the usual tactics are here, take over areas, earn cards, mass for attacks etc, except now it doesn't go on for 20 hours.

After 6 turns you just count who has the most areas occupied to see who's won. Frankly thats just enough for the repetitive Risk mechanics, but here it's even enhanced by the ability to use the plastic terrain pieces to your advantage.

So I reccomend this version of Risk.