Friday, March 29, 2013

Ticket to Ride : Europe - first play

Last night was my first experience of Ticket to Ride: Europe. I've been a player and a fan of the original game for years, but have never been inclined to buy any of the variants and never, until now, had the chance to play someone else's copy.

Stephen turned up to the group with Europe and a copy of Settlers (STILL IN SHRINK!) and as no-one knew the rules to Catan we opted to play Europe.

It was a fun game no doubt about that and very easy to get into, my experience of the original made everything familiar.

Apart from the change in the board and tickets there was a new feature called "tunnels" which I thought was pretty intense.  Playing trains to a tunnel is the same as usual, but you MAY have to play additional cards of the appropriate colour.  You lay out your cards, then turn over three cards from the deck, if any of those three are the same colour as your cards (or an engine) then you have to play additional cards of that colour in order to get your train down on the table.

This means of course that you have to risk not getting your train down, if you don't have any extra cards, or wait and save up additional cards.  I have to say this is a clever addition to the system, it adds extra depth without complexity or fiddliness. 

Another subtle difference is that some routes actually require an engine (or two) in order to play to the route.  The requirement is printed on the board making the situation very clear.  Once again they've created a seemless way to integrate a new feature. Double well done you game designer chaps! I love that you've added to a great game in such a slick way.

There is another new feature, that of stations, which allows you to get past blockages. We didn't play with stations in this game, as three of the players were totally new to Ticket to Ride. I'm looking  forward to trying this option.

In summary, after one play of this variant, I'm sold. it's good, solid, and every bit as fun as the original.

Catan, next week :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Battlestar Galactica - Review...ish

This review (really just a first impression) is based on a single four player session, where I played another gentleman's game (thanks Gary!).

First off, I can say that it is a rather beautiful game, I would expect nothing less from a Fantasy Flight production.

The board is big enough to hold the pieces and everything seems pretty clear and straight forward. I really like the dials feature for tracking the resources.The standup counters for your playing pieces are a delight, good thick card standing on a solid well thought out base.The character cards were nice. they could so easily have been simple card-size, but having them so large made them feel significant.

The action cards being so-small seemed a bit of a shame. The iconography and text was clear, no problem there, just a bit of shame they are so small when you have to handle them all of the time.The fighter ships were nice to look at and "fiddle" with.

So all in all the components were nice and suited the game play very well.

But how did it play?

I'll be more than happy to play again, I really enjoyed the game. Yet... There is a real feeling of overwhelming pressure to do something, but the something isn't something I could achieve.

I tried firing the guns a few times, but that was very ineffective. I tried to save cards to put someone in the brig, but couldn't do it in time. It kind of felt like the game was playing me. So much went on between my turns, and my actions seemed so pitiful, that I was never able to effect a stratergy, it was just reactive moves.

I haven't played the game without cylons, but I suspect the game would still kick butt.  Add them in and suddenly its a wild chaotic ride!

I can compare the game to two other cooperative games (both without traitors) , Lord of the Rings and Red November.  In those two games there are similar constant complications and at times they are overpowering in the same way, yet I don't get the same feeling of hopelessness from them.

In LOTR you often don't have the cards to do what you want, in RN the same thing, but you can co-operate with the other players. You can make a plan. Perhaps that's what is missing, there's no planning stage.

Well if this all sounds negative, don't read too much into it. It was only one game (which I lost) and I'm really looking forward to playing again.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Play Adaman in your browser.

There is deck of cards called the "Decktet" which was invented by P.D. Magnus.  It's an unusal deck of cards, not only does it have a great art but each card may have more than one suit! There are any number of games that can be played with the Decktet, one of which is called "Adaman". Adaman was likewise invented by P.D. Magnus.

It's a challenging solo game and peaked my interest enough for me to create a version of it you can play in your browser.

If you want to try it out CLICK HERE

Sunday, March 03, 2013

What's on the boil

I've got three gaming related things on the boil at present.

I'm close to finishing a web based version of the card game "Adaman" which uses the beautiful Decktet cards.  This is written entirely in HTML and Javascipt.  As a programmer, it's been of quite a lot of use, with regards to refreshing my Javascript skills. 

I have taken the liberty of changing the score system from the published rules.  I don't think the standard score rules work too well on a computer version where you can play so quickly.

I've yet to get in touch with the Decktet designer to see if he will allow me to publish the game on the web.

The next "boiler" is a card game I've been prototyping.  It has a Gandalf/Lord of the Rings theme, which will of course prevent me publishing unless I can interest Fantasy Flight.  It's a solo game using bespoke cards and a few pennies for tokens.  This has been in progress for a month or so now, and I feel it's nearing completion.

The last "boiler" is an RPG designed for one-shot games. I don't want to give away too much about the plot, lest someone with more time on their hands beats me to it.  It will be formatted  using the cool "pocket mod".  Cops vs bad guys... now I've said too much!