Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bad blogger, sad blogger

Remember when I said I would spend more time talking about the hobby I love? No? Well neither do I apparently.

Several months back now I made a promise to myself to put my head down and keep with it. Get in a flow, find the time to share my enjoyment with others outside of my game groups.

So much has seemingly passed since I last sat down and started typing away.

Another blazing hot Phoenix summer has come and gone.
My Wednesday night regulars are still hitting the tabletop. Every week.
A trip to Tucson and the fun of RinCon yet again, this time shared with my darling wife.
Seeing a friend's gaming group, G3, blossom and attract many new people to the hobby.
An epic 24 hours for charity with Extra Life.
And so many games. Now standing at a whooping 374 unique games played since I started tracking.

I do consider myself lucky that I have found friends who are willing to share their time and enjoyment of games. Without them I would have never got to play so much in so little time.

I do hope that I bring to their experiences what they bring to my life.

I do look forward to our many game nights. An escape from reality. Pushing cardboard. Rolling dice. Flipping tables. Together.

I do consider sometimes if this is too much, as there is a thin line between loving something and an obsession. But you have to do something if you enjoy it. Right?

I'm glad I have a found a love I can share with my greatest love. And if I can drag them to the table, my kids too.

What to play next?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

THE ROUTE - Blades of Time

Gaming wise it has been a rather exciting time since I last took a look at what I've played. It truly is a golden age in gaming, it seems I rarely sit down to play something new and find myself being disappointed by the experience. In part this could be down to the great group of people I get to play with each week, a sour playthrough can always be improved by the interactions with them. Of course this could easily swing the other way when a player can bring a great game down, but fortunately I haven't had that feeling in a while.


First mention this week goes out to prolific designer Rudiger Dorn, who formed a double bill of plays for me. Firstly, haven't you always wanted to pilot a time travelling zeppelin? No, well your no fun then. On the other hand is that thought excites you as well as the prospect of playing a unique worker placement game then I suggest checking out Steam Time. This colorful game has players competiting as turn of the century (19th) time-travellers using newly discovered crystals to power their flying machines and exploring different time periods.

In turn players take an airship, place it in a time period and take an action. What is unique is that after this they must choose a spot later in the time period than any previous placed ships of theirs. This makes a clever puzzle of choices each round as you have to figure on a certain path through time to get what you need.


On a more gateway level comes recent Spiel des Jahres nomination Karuba. This is a tile-laying game with players leading expeditions into the jungles on the island Karuba, racing their explorers through the paths they create to get to the hidden treasures first. Everyone starts the game with the same empty board and locations of explorers and temples. One player will draw numbered tiles which essentially everyone will use for their own supplies, they have the choice to place it on their board creating the paths or discarding the tile to move an explorers along those pathways, I highly recommend this one to anyone with younger family members they are trying to get into the hobby,


Following on from Gold West last time comes another game with a historical tilt for newer designer J Alex Kevern, this time he takes us to the World's Fair 1893. Players compete through area control to get their exhibits approved, scoring them as sets at the end of the game. The mechanics are simple and abstract as you take turns placing a supporter (cubes) in an area and then picking up cards. Like his take on the gold rush previously the game itself has an elegance that makes it easy to teach to everyone. The theme wins through the usage of the cards, as every exhibit and ticket card in the game are unique with great flavor text that show you what the world expected in 1893.



Over the past couple of weeks I've managed to get in a few plays of Millennium Blades. Wow. Billed as a CCG simulator, it does well in boiling down all the key components of being into a game like Magic: The Gathering. It has you treading through the throes of acquisition disorder as you purchase pack after pack of cards just to find that ONE. Trading cards with your buddies still in the hopes that have that elusive card you are searching for. You get to build up your collection to turn in that perfect set to garner more points, And finally it drags through the tactical card play of a full blown tournament against your friends.

This game is so meta and within itself it has it's own meta as you are hoping to pull off the perfect combos with your tournament decks. It will break you and you will love it more for that. Hidden behind the over the top card art and so many gaming in-jokes is a game of great depth and huge amounts of replayability.

Other stops...
Multiple plays of 51st State and finally learning to play it correctly... Finding myself still winless in Terra Mystica... Exploring a new world through Alien Frontiers... Hoping off the Colt Express to ride a stagecoach... Once again exploiting Africa in Mombasa...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

TIMETABLE: A Feast for Odin


RELEASING: AUGUST 2016 (GenCon) - Possibly copies at Origins in June

Not one to miss out on a theme while it is hot, Uwe Rosenberg is well on his way to putting in his entry in the viking world. Not too many details about this with the release date so close but we can reach our own conclusions.

With a box that is coming in slightly larger than Caverna, and more than likely a little heavier, this looks like it'll feature all the Rosenberg tropes. Worker placement, resource management, building up a player board and cards, lots of cards.

Using a central board players will have to hunt, gathering materials to refine, build production buildings and raid settlements. In turn this will allow them to place earnings on their own boards in the best possible pattern to help produce and later the much beloved VP (Victory Points).

Judging from the released photos of what is going to come in the box the game will come with a built in storage solution. Something most welcome after the collections of bits and baggies that are prevalent in games such as Agricola.

The final shocker for this one is that it was announced that the game would see it's release stateside first. Being published by Zman games, with tentative availability hitting Origins but more likely GenCon in August.

My anticipation is high on this one. Bring on the sheeples.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

THE ROUTE: From Defused to Confused


You are on a mission in deep space and intruders have boarded your ship, setting up twenty or more bombs. Now the elite bomb defusal unit has been called in to stop the threat in the next ten minutes or it is curtains for us all. How do we defuse the bombs? By rolling lots of dice. Wait what?

So the theme is thinner than the air surrounding our spaceship but hear me out. Each bomb is represented by a card, on the card is spots to place dice in different combinations. One player rolls dice equal to the number of players, each player then have to take one and only one die, placing it on one of the bomb cards in front of them. Players co-operatively decide who needs the certain dice the most. Any dice that are left over are re-rolled which can cause players to remove already locked in dice from their array in front of them.

With an ever ticking clock counting down you often don't have time to fully discuss or stop someone from taking a die. As the deck thins and the seconds waste away the tension rises.

This is the perfect dice chucker if you are looking for that game to fill that short time between games this should certainly be on your wishlist.

51st STATE: The Master Set

A pleasant surprise on my doorstep during the past week or two was the arrival of my pre-ordered copy of 51st State: The Master Set. After the success of Imperial Settlers, which had reimplemented the original 51st State game system designer Ignacy Trzewiczek went back to the original, taking what he had learnt in the process. 

The original version is much loved but has a reputation for being symbology heavy and a hard teach to a new player. This version streamlines alot of that. Or so I've heard, having never played the original I just have the comparison to Imperial Settlers to make, which is very favorable.

Players are competing factions, building up their states in a post-apocalyptic world. It's a kill or be killed world, where razing an opponent's buildings right after they built it often happens. Settler's viciousness was layered beneath a cutesy art style, where as 51st is in your face about how you should proceed. The replacing of a round limit with a race to a score of 25 is most welcome, making the play length more bearable at the higher player counts.

Just got in a couple of plays so far and looking forward to much more.


There's gold in them there hills!! And silver. And copper. We're prospectors competing to build up our mining empire, with a mix of resource management and area control. Players will be putting out camps or settlements to maximize the resources of the land. All the resources you gather get placed in your "supply track" which uses a clever mancala mechanic to manage what you have. The further back you place the more points you score, but the more refined a product you will have in the end.

This game not only harkens back to the gold rush time period, it also pulls back to a simpler time in gaming. It reminds me of those early euro-games like Puerto Rico and it's ilk, where light mechanics give a game a hidden depth. An elegant time.

Only the single play and I want to pick up my own copy. One of the best of 2015 for sure.


From light euro to the epitome of American gaming. Dripping with theme and over flowing with miniatures & dice comes the huge Star Destroyer like box of Rebellion. Fantasy Flight have hit it out the park again with this game, based off a little know video game.

It can only be described as the Original Trilogy in board game form. Two or four players compete as the Empire against the Rebels, the dark side searching every corner of the galaxy for that hidden base. This game creates a new story every time you play. I can see many unique memories being formed with each play and post-game discussions on the decisions each side took while playing.



Sherlock Holmes is a smartass. That is my summation after playing this sublime game. Originally released back in the 80s, the version the wife and I have been playing is the latest printing for Ystari. This is an incredible solid deduction game. You get a case, you read through an opening chapter, detailing what game will be afoot. Then you have to take the information you were just given, names and the like, grab the London Directory and chase down leads.

Each case gets it's own book with numbered chapter headings throughout, each heading refers to an individual that you look up using the included directory. It's an adult choose you own adventure. You pick a lead, read what happens when you get to the place where they are, digest the info, move onto the next. It is all very clever and has a way of making you feel smart as the pieces of the puzzle come together.

At the end of a case you compare yourself to the master, Mr Holmes, and he is a cocky one. While you were chasing your tail all over London, he had just strolled down the road and solved it in a minute. Yes his way was easier, but your way brings Victorian London to life. Has you scanning the daily paper for that small piece of info you think you missed. Has you discussing the details of the case before you put in your final answers. Makes you think.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

TIMETABLE: Lengendary Encounters Alien Expansion



Upper Deck haven't released any info on this yet themselves. This expansion was mentioned early 2015 at Origins and then not much else. It is through Cool Stuff Inc that we get details as a pre-order page was recently posted.

From the small blurb on the page we can get excited for 400 new cards with all new artwork.

Within this decent sized expansion we will find four new character decks, one for each movie: Kane (Alien), Lt Gorman (Aliens), Superintendent Andrews (Alien 3) and Cpt Elgyn (Alien: Resurrection).

Even more exciting is the promise of a brand new player mat that will allow the players to become the ALIEN Queen. Surely this will feature one versus all type rules but that remains to been seen when more details surface.

The original release is one of the most thematic games I have ever played and being that it is just made up of cards that is high praise. You can play through each movie in the series with every card turn having the tension which is present on the big screen. I can't wait to see how this expansion can deepen that experience.

I give this an aniticipation rating of five "You always were an asshole Gorman"s out of five ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Getting Back On Topic

Firstly, I must admonish myself for taking such a long break from blogging, life puts many stresses on you and an outlet is needed sometimes. For myself and others gaming is an escape, a welcome respite from all the woes and thoughts of the day, but as is evidenced with our end of game night chatter I like to talk about it as well. So therefore, I resolve to take more time to write about the hobby that I love. The one that my every discussion about my darling wife has to put up with. The constant banter about games she has never heard of, the distraction that keeps my mind off other things.

With my gaming group I have the opportunity to experience and play a great variety of games. I love this chance and would like to get back in the habit of sharing my love here. 

This coming Monday marks a year of my tracking all my plays on the BGstats app. I just hit 300 unique games played in the past year. Yes, 300 different titles have graced a table before me in the space of 12 months. Not sure if I should be ashamed or proud, of course I prefer the latter.

Proud of the fun I can find in the myriad of systems created through plastic, cardboard and cards.

Proud of the friendships I have grow sitting around our wooden alter that meals were once shared on.

Proud to keep on playing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blood Rage and West Valley TableCon 2015

Way back in August I posted a wishlist of 6 games that were on my radar to play as soon as I could, the very next day our game group was joined by a new addict. Having read this blog he brought with him five of those games - Imperial Settlers, Baseball Highlights 2045, Tragedy Looper, Forbidden Stars and Arcadia Quest - I have covered all of those games over the past few months as I got around to playing them. This past week I finally got the chance to play my final game from that wish list, thanks to another member of our group.


Ragnarok has arrived and with it the end of the world as the vikings know it. Players take control of viking clans as they rush to claim stake to glory and earn a place at Odin's side in Valhalla. They can claim glory by dying valiantly in battle, invading and pillaging, completing quests and controlling regions of the land, and gloriously dying in Ragnarok itself.

The selection of a player's strategy is decided in the drafting phase, the first phase of the three ages that span the game. Using cards players create a starting hand of upgrades for their clans, battle cards and quests. This is followed by an action phase, each player starts with a limit of rage, and some actions may cost rage. In turn the clans will getting a chance to perform one action, such as invading, pillaging and upgrading. A player can no longer perform any more actions once they are all raged out.

What a game, I was initially too hyped up for this game and my first play didn't wow me as much as expected, but thinking back on it and the second play I had I feel part of the hype was warranted. The drafting at the start is a huge part of the game, deciding on how you want to play out each round, what gods you want to align with will be important. Thor brings you extra glory for winning, while Loki can give you victory in defeat, Tyr helps you strengthen during battle and Heimdal gives you foresight. Also keeping certain cards from opponents maybe even more important. Then how you use those cards during the action phase, the order in which you play deepens the strategy. Do you show your hand early, over loading on invades and burning up rage leaves you with less options as the map fills.

Also, I can't say enough about the minis that come in the box. Each clan has their own sculpts as well as a myriad of monsters. I got to play the blinged out Kickstarter version, but I'm sure the base box will be more than enough for most people. Seeing everything on the table can be overwhelming for some, making the game look more complicated than it really is. Extremely happy that I got an opportunity to play it.


For those of you who don't know, this past weekend marked an anniversary of my gaming group on facebook. West Valley Tabletop (link in the right column). To celebrate I wanted to put on something special, so I got with Jared at Game Boutique and hosted a weekend of games at the store. From 10am on Saturday to Midnight and then again from 10am on Sunday. 

I attempted to keep to a schedule which worked in part, starting the games off with Champions of Midgard. I got to teach this one, it is a gorgeously produced worker placement game, with a similar viking theme to Blood Rage. Players are battling to gain the most glory to become the Jarl of the village, to do thise they are sending out warriors to fight trolls, dragurs and other monsters. It is fairly light and plays like Lords of Waterdeep as you gather the resources needed to fight off the monsters. But instead of investing the needed fighters, the warriors are represented by dice and you have to roll to fight. There is enough mitigation to keep it fun, without making bad rolls to huge. Could easily see this become a staple and a replacement for Lords of Waterdeep.

After that plans fell apart, but it became more of a gathering of friends and a chance to play with new people. Introducing a few to heavier games then they had been accustomed to playing is always a join for me. Seeing that moment when someone's mind is blown by a simple mechanic that overlays a deeper choice. Speaking of which, I got to play Keyflower again, another awesome worker placement game where the workers aren't only assigned to actions but can be used as a bidding token for tiles to expand your village. Which in turn makes the placing of workers a harder choice because if you want to use an action that is now in another player's village they will get your used meeple at the end of the round.

Followed that up with a favorite of mine, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, certainly lighter but I enjoy the unique stories building up my castle can make. This game I was rocking the activity rooms, visitors would come to my place, leave their jackets in the cloak room off the foyer before being led off on an adventure that involved a train room, a theater and even a sewing room. Yeah you know it!

One of the highlights for me, was one fellow gamer coming along with part of his Heroscape collection and giving me the opportunity to play. Out of print at the moment and with great looking pre-painted figures this miniatures game was an unexpected surprise. Our two player game was feeling like a wash to me and I managed to turn it round to garner the win. I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford to get into this, but I thank him for bringing it along to give me a taste.

By then we were joined by many more, including the elusive Kohatsu, who once again brought with him Magnum Opus. A rather interesting unique deck-building race involving alchemy. Through the decks you have to collect up materials to transmute into more powerful cards and powers, as well as trying to find the three elements that make up the Philosopher's Stone. The first player to successfully gather this information and transmute will win the game. It was a fun experience and I was one good dice roll away from stealing victory but alas it slipped through my fingers. Again.

Between games throughout the first day we had people playing many other games, including Cosmic Encounter, Viticulture, Trains, Captains of Industry, Ghostbusters, Cash n Guns, Concordia, Isle of Skye, Favor of the Pharaoh, Marco Polo and some others. Over the day we saw 30+ people come and go, a great turnout.

We ended out the first day with an epic couple games of 2 Rooms and a Boom, with 18 players and myself moderating. The essence of the game is hidden role with two competing teams. The President's Team (blue) and the Bomber's team (red). The teams are mixed up and placed in separate 'rooms', with a time limit a room leader has to choose a number of hostages to swap with the other room. The red team wants to end up with their Bomber in the same room as the President, thus blowing him up. The Blue team wants to avoid that happening. Roles start hidden, but you can make agreements with other players to reveal to one another, so slowly information will leak out into both rooms. It's a great game both in which to participate and watch as you see the segregation in each room.

Sunday promised to be slower day. Starting with an epic four hour, and unfinished, game of Forbidden Stars. Playing as almost a learning game for all of us we had to call the space epic at the start of the 6th round (of 8). A draw between myself and Mario for two of our four needed objectives. The game state at the end seemed to dictate a power shift was about to come as I had spread myself rather thin along the middle of the galaxy. One day I will see this game to a conclusion. Two player rematch perhaps?

I got to savor Blood Rage again, before finishing out my first TableCon with Roll for the Galaxy a staple of many gaming nights for us. Other games on Sunday included Dominant Species, Flick 'em Up and 7 Wonders.

Special thanks to my wife, Cindy and my family for coming along on the crazy ride; Huge thank you to Mario and Trevor for being in attendance all day both days, also for teaching games to others; Jared and Andrea for giving me access to the store for it; Cyndi for also being there all along, thanks for being a constant; Dr Dan for leaving Blood Rage in my hands; Gary for the orange whips; Kohatsu for keeping it real 'old'; Sara & Josh, Jeff C, Judy & Jim, Rob for being with the group at the beginning; Matt and Nicole - get better soon; Steve for learning the correct rules ;) ; Michelle for putting up with us; Shelly for the alcohol; Tom for being larger than life; Aubrey for the quiet moments and good luck with your training; Also thank you to all the others who came along during the weekend, it was a pleasure to meet you all and I hope to see many of you again soon.