Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Arrivals [Boardgames]

Bunch of random things came lately, and since I don't have anything better to talk about, why not show off some random things?

First up is the most recent issue of Against the Odds Magazine, Arctic Disaster. This covers the battle that destroyed over two-thirds of the PQ-17 convoy to Russia during World War II. The magazine itself will have a bunch of interesting military history articles (most relevant to the main game's subject), so I have something to read when I have some time!
Cover of the magazine
The countersheet
Half of the map (other half not shown, because I'm lazy)
I already have one game on this subject (PQ-17: Arctic Naval Operations 1941-1943 from GMT Games). So now I have TWO unplayed games on the subject! And who knows when that will ever change.

From Legion Wargames, I received Picket Duty, a solo game where you're in charge of a Navy Destroyer in World War II, providing anti-air protection for the fleet against Japanese kamikaze fighters.
The map/game board
One of the counter sheets, showing enemy planes
This game, like many solo games of this style, involves digging through charts for much of the gameplay. You're really experiencing a brief story, almost, with your decisions hopefully providing a favorable outcome.

With luck, between the part-time job, and the hopefully upcoming house purchase, I'll have the time and cat-deficient space to play this in the near future.

Finally, I picked up the first game of the Nations at War series, White Star Rising (2nd Edition). As I mentioned, I bought Desert Heat at PrezCon, but I remembered how much I loved the series, and couldn't wait to grab everything that's out. I didn't buy the third title yet, but I will soon. This one covers battles in Western Europe including and post Normandy.
WSR box
Example of one of the counter sheets- a mix of AFVs, Infantry, and support assets.
The cover of the second game, since I didn't put one up before
This one, at least, I should get on the table in the near-ish future. The third game in the series covers Russian-German conflicts, and I expect I'll grab it in a month or so, getting me caught up on the series for the moment.

Anyway, lots of fun new games that I'll eventually play. Later today, I'm supposed to play Star Wars: Legion, which I'm pretty excited about, although I admit the rules have me concerned- I'll likely love it because it's Star Wars, but will it really be engrossing enough to stand as its own game? God, I hope so, but we'll see.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

PrezCon Day 3 [Boardgames]

I got a bit later start on Day 3, electing to sleep in instead of going to the gym in the morning. Ate some breakfast, read some rules, and I was ready to get to gaming!

Our early gaming was down one player, as a certain someone was still recovering from the night before. Truthfully, we all were a little bit, so we opted for something lighter, choosing to play Hero Realms.

We opted for a multiplayer format where everyone tried to kill the person to the left of them, while each person also had to protect themselves from the person to their right. First one to kill their neighbor won.

Going clockwise, we had me (Warrior), Dan (Cleric), Jesse (Thief, I think?), and Rob (Ranger). We get into it, buying our cards, throwing out attacks, etc etc.
In the end, even though I was able to hammer Dan time and time again, it ended up being Jesse who was victorious, managing to eat through Rob's defenses and bring him down.

Apparently there are other formats for this game- including a one on many (not really my favorite). Might bear looking into. I love the art (looks to be the same art from the Epic Card Game, which I love).

AJ rejoined us at this point, and we discussed different games we could play next, eventually settling on Rising Sun, recently released. I own this one, as you may have seen from a previous post, but I didn't bring it, as I knew Dan was going to.

We sat down to play, with me using the Dragonfly clan, who could move anywhere on the board easily. Jesse played the Turtle Clan, AJ was the Bonsai Clan, Dan was the Koi Clan, ad Rob took the Lotus clan.

I start the game by allying with Jesse immediately, figuring that getting into an alliance was vastly better than being out of one. The turn started with the following mandates: Recruit, Harvest, Train, Harvest (this was by Rob, who could choose whichever he wanted, regardless of tiles).  During this, I manage to get another Bushi on the board, and grabbed a Phoenix monster, who would gain me Honor and Victory Points every time he died. I planted him in the Bonsai home province, assuming that at the very least, he could kill me over and over again to my benefit. On my turn, I chose Harvest, grabbing some Ronin that I thought I could use to compete in some battles.
Afterwards, Marshal and Betray were chosen, the final one killing/replacing of my minis.

We begin the battle phase, and the only thing I manage to accomplish is to Seppuku my Phoenix for Honor and VPs.

Turning the second turn, I join into an Alliance with Rob.  With him sitting next to me, I figure there are good opportunities, if we can do some double Alliance actions. Mandate choices were Train, Marshal, Recruit. At this point, I'm pretty screwed, as everyone has multiple Strongholds on the table... except me.  That means everyone Recruiting is putting more minis on the board than I am, and that's bad for me.

On my turn, I choose Train, so I could get another Monster (and at least put SOMETHING on the board).
Then Recruit, Marshal, and Betray (by Jesse) were chosen to end the round. My battles once again go terribly, and my only accomplishment is to sacrifice the Phoenix again (although I'm now #1 in Honor!).

The final round starts, and Rob and I ally again... once again hoping to gain some sweet double actions. The choices were Marshal, Marshal (from Rob), Marshal (from me, giving me three strongholds!), Betray (by Dan), Recruit, Train, and Harvest.
At this point, it was pretty clear I was out of the game, but I still did my best in the battles, but failed to really accomplish a whole lot. I end up only getting 13 points, way in last place (Rob was second last, at 28 points).  Jesse won with 46 points, barely ahead of Dan, who it should be noted went the second and third round without an alliance. It's interesting to see that being out of an alliance didn't necessarily mean you had no chance!

At this point, we knew we had dinner reservations, so wanted to ensure we played something fairly short- Chariots of Rome was floated (yay!), but people settled on Sentinels of the Multiverse, instead.  That one, I didn't take pictures of, but suffice to say we had a great time. I was Tachyon, a speed based super hero, and as a group we fought against Grand Warlord Voss and his many minions. Through great teamwork, we prevailed, and I can honestly say that not only did I do plenty of things to help the group, but managed to spike for huge chunks of damage!  What a great game- I really need to buy it.

At this point, we went out to dinner at the South Street brewery, to celebrate Dan's upcoming nuptials.  Very good food, and some very interesting beers.
I couldn't decide what I wanted, so got some of each
After a nice time out there (aside from the pouring rain, yikes), we returned and tried to determine what we would do the rest of the night (we got back about 9pm). We decided to play one of the games I brought- Mansions of Madness.

We took our team of investigators and began looking into a case of buried dead rising up from their graves and terrorizing the area. Our investigations proved very fruitful, and we found the source, and moved to end this terror once and for all.
In the end, I bravely sacrificed myself to keep the tremendous Zombie Horde from going after everyone, but unfortunately, that put a strict timetable on everyone else. However, on the VERY LAST roll of the game, we managed to accomplish our objective, and get the win. Very tense!

And that basically ended our PrezCon, for gaming.

Outside of the games I've played, there's also a vendor hall that comes and sells games.  This year, I bought Nations at War: Desert Heat, 2nd Edition, which is part of the new version of the Nations at War series that I quite love. I also picked up some starters of the Munchkin Collectible Card Game. I hate Munchkin, but love cards games, and thing Eric Lang does a good job. I'll give it a try and hope for the best.

Overall, I had a great time. I only played 4-5 player games, which isn't my first choice, but I definitely got a lot of great gaming in, so I really can't complain. The hotel itself didn't seem to do as good a job this year accommodating us- for instance, they usually serve several meals in the main hall throughout the convention (for a generally fair price). This year, they actually served some pretty disappointing meals, and the costs felt worse. Plus, the entrance fee for open gaming felt significantly worse this year. Ugh.

I had a great time, but it remains to be seen if we'll return. However, we get plenty of gaming done here in the area, so even if we don't, I'll still have plenty to talk about in the future!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

PrezCon Day 2 [Boardgames]

For the first time in my entire history at PrezCon (8-9 years), I actually started this morning off getting up and going to the gym.
Some weird looking boardgames in here
Yeah, I was surprised too. Still, the hotel has a gym, and for those of us currently losing "The Battle of the Bulge", it is definitely good enough to give some hope.

After the brief time at the gym, a shower, and breakfast, we got up and got ready to start our long day of gaming!

First up today was Blitz: A World in Conflict. This was the big goal for Rob to play this convention, and with five of us available, it was definitely conceivable we could have an interesting fight. I was given the Americans, who don't have a whole lot interesting to do early on, but would be critical later (as in World War II). We set up.
Set up
Without a whole lot to do early on (build Lend-Lease units, wait for excuses for my War Entry number to raise), I decided to read the rules, so we had a second player super familiar with them. On the map, the game unfolded on its own- Japan began expanding, and eventually conquered China, Germany invaded a few countries.

Our game ended when Germany (Rob) attempted the invasion of France (Dan). The first thrust of the invasion stalled, which wasn't a big deal. The second thrust failed as well, however, and with France looking like it wasn't likely to fall, we ended up calling the game.

Despite not getting to actually play any of this game, it's hard to be too upset over that- I feel like many WWII games at this scale have this problem. If the Axis powers can't get their initial, historical, gains- they just don't have a good way to win. Time is against them to begin with, after all, and if they can't grow early... they are already behind the clock.

So anyway, we decide to switch to another conflict filled game, something that would ensure we all would have something to do- Scythe.

I was randomly assigned Saxony (black). I have played this game once before, at my Bachelor party, and I wasn't particularly impressed, but knowing a bit more about the rules, I was hoping I'd enjoy it better. We played with the Airship expansion, which was new to me.
First moves
End game
I didn't really take great notes for this one, opting to focus on playing the game, and not disrupting the flow (wanting to make sure I enjoyed and 'got' the game). In the end, I was the first to put my sixth star down, and managed to win a few battles to push people out of my area. I didn't quite realize how important popularity was to the final score (I don't remember that from the first time we played, and it wasn't re-explained to me), so I didn't raise it as high as I should've (I was maybe two Popularity away from hitting the next score threshold).

I ended up with 72 points, coming second to Dan (80), and ahead of Jesse (56), Rob (53), and AJ (48).  Not bad!  I definitely could've picked up a few more points had I come out and expanded a little more the previous turn or so. I had the military strength and the cards, I was just too timid for my own good, unfortunately.

I enjoyed this game a lot more than I did our first time playing this- I got it much better this time, and actually realized how to make good use of my faction board, something I bumbled about with the first time we played.

This game done, we decided to play some lighter games before dinner.  First up was 7 Wonders, a game with card drafting and combinations, and playable in like 20 minutes. I end the first age with the first two parts of my Wonder built, and end up with a total of 38 points. Winner was Dan, once again, with 55 points.
End of first age
End of second age
Game end
This was a lot of fun- I've since even played this with my wife, who enjoyed it decently well. Maybe something I grab some day, if she decides she likes it enough.

We followed this with another light game- Tortuga 1667. This one has hidden roles, really simple rules, and decent components. It's about trying to get the treasure into the most favorable place on the map, trying to screw over the people who you think are on one of the other sides (there are three sides- the Dutch, French, and British). We ended up playing this twice. I don't believe I won either time. Probably little too chaotic/random for my tastes.
After this game, we decided to grab some food, and went to the hotel restaurant, and had some good food.

Now with us properly prepared for gaming during the evening, we got down to the evening's games, starting with Mare Nostrum.

I remember this on Kickstarter, from Academy games. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford it at the time, but thankfully, at least one person in our group owns a copy, so I'll at least have opportunities to play this!

Anyway, in this game, you are one of the rulers of one of the ancient empires (I was Carthage in our game, with Rob playing Egypt, Dan playing Babylon, Jesse playing Rome, and AJ playing... Macedon, maybe?

Anyway, in this game, you're generating resources, building military units, expanding and trying to form alliances (mainly to let you build unimpeded), trading, and acquiring leaders/wonders in order to increase your various empire stats (culture, military, and something else), which will let you choose the order of various parts of the turn.

Anyway, early in the game, I'm able to arrange enough trades to allow me to buy one of the Leaders, who gave me additional dice in military conflicts, which was helpful in ensuring that I wasn't an easy target for invasion.  For the most part, I was left alone throughout the game, and maintain leadership in the Culture track, and eventually start doing pretty well, getting within one Wonder/Leader of winning, as well as putting together a pretty impressive military force (primarily my navy!). Dan had spent this time getting into good shape, winning a very favorable war against AJ, who was also getting beat up upon my Rome. Egypt had made some advances as well, but had mostly stayed out of the fighting.
The game end came suddenly. Rob looked like he was about to get to 12 coins, but Jesse responded to that by taking over some of the income generating places. Dan tries to go for a win soon after by taking over enough capitals- I respond to that, and also invade one of Rob's provinces, in an attempt to go for the win as well- all I need to do is generate enough different resources to buy the final Wonder I need.

However, Rob had planned accordingly, and leading in the appropriate track, he could determine the build order. He built first, built what he needed to win, and that was the game. I would've won on my turn, at least.

Overall, I really really loved this game, but I admit I might not buy it- I can't imagine not playing on that beautiful huge gaming mat!

We decided to finish the evening off playing Shadows of Brimstone. I chose the Jargano Native, because he was new and different. I won't go into great detail of this one because we basically got overwhelmed really badly in our second fight, and ended up having to call it early, because one of our party members had imbibed too much, and it was clearly affecting him.
With that, we packed up, and called it a night, and got to bed. I spent a bit organizing some games and reading a bit of rules before going to bed, in case we played anything I had brought.

Monday, March 12, 2018

PrezCon Day 1 [Boardgames]

Well, I'm only a few weeks late in getting this out, but I figured I'd finally get a write-up of my time at PrezCon!

For those who don't know, PrezCon is a boardgame convention that takes place in Charlottesville, VA, in the DoubleTree hotel.  This year, it ran from February 19th to February 25th, although I only was there from the Thursday (the 22nd) to the end.

There are a bunch of tournaments, auctions, and various other things going on, but in general, we just bring games and play what we feel like.

This year, I brought a slimmed down selection of games (normally I bring a ton!).  I limited myself to the following:
  • The Great Game (my newest arrival from Legion Wargames)
  • Chariots of Rome (a Chariot racing game from Victory Point Games)
  • Old School Tactical (WWII Tactical Combat, from Flying Pig Games)
  • Millennium Blades (a CCG Simulator game from Level 99 Games)
  • Mansions of Madness (exploring a haunted mansion, from Fantasy Flight Games).
Considering the fact I've brought over a dozen games before, I did pretty well.  I've learned- I almost never play anything I bring (this year, I played one).  Why bother?  Plus, it's much easier to carry in and out.
Literally, everything I brought
Rob, my normal PrezCon gaming partner, brought a bit more!
Every year, I take these pictures, haha

He also trimmed down significantly!

This year was different in that we knew other people who were coming who we were planning to games with (although normally we do play games with Mark, who also attends, but this time was a larger commitment). AJ, Dan, and Jesse were soon to be our frequent opponents, and we as a group were eager to get down and get to gaming!

We started the convention playing Blood Rage, from CMON/Guillotine Games.  This is a game where each player is a Viking clan, and you're attempting to gain VPs from various things- Pillaging, winning battles, having your guys go to Valhalla, among other things.

The game also involves drafting cards for abilities/upgrades, and takes place over three ages.

In Age 1, we draft, and not really knowing what I'm doing, I end with the following.
I decide to start with Frigga's Chosen, giving me a Mystic on the board that I can generally keep alive. I try to focus on the Yellow provinces, in order to complete my quest.
I end up winning two Pillages on the turn, both going to battle, gaining me a few Glory and two clan stats, but the second Pillage involved a player playing a card to steal my last Rage for the turn, and I don't have the action I need to play the quest (meaning I don't score it).  Curses!

I end the first Age with three guys in a Yellow zone, and at 14 total Glory, with Dan leading at 24.

We start the second Age, and draft.  I end up with the following.
I actually think I have a decent shot at all three quests, and begin by trying to Pillage, but the challenge by people causes me a Rage and Glory loss. I try to spread out to get in on some fights, but space is tough to find at this point. It clears a lot when Dan attempts to pillage the center, causing a large fight for everyone, but he ends up winning.
End of the second Age.  Valhalla is really filled up, if you can't tell (on the left)
I make way too many mistakes this turn, and end up completing zero of my three quests (I think I misread one, forgot about the ships for one, and messed up placement on the one?). Anyway, with no successes, this turn was tremendously disastrous, and I end with 20 total Glory.  The leader is Jesse with 65, and Dan is in second with 49.

The third Age is really rough for me- without the clan bonuses, I don't really compete in any arena, so I try to do what I can to grab a few points (with my Loki's Eminance upgrade).  The leaders kept rolling, others did a good job of keeping up... and I floundered.  End result was me in dead last with 47 point (Rob was 2nd last, at 57).  Winner was Dan, I believe, with 158 points. 

This was a pretty fun game! I don't think I'll end up getting it, but I like how they gave quite a few ways to go for victory, and how easy the game was to sit down and play. I'd definitely play it again.

We all took a break to go get some drinks before getting some more PrezCon in (it was about evening at this point). The hotel has beers in a size called 'half yard', which we couldn't turn down.
The first of... a few
We decided to set up and play Terraforming Mars next, a game that everyone really likes (and I freaking love). We got dealt our corporations, and I ended up being Inventrix, the corp that lets me be a bit more flexible in the Oxygen/Temperature requirements/limits for cards I play- an ability I used twice, all game.  We also played with the Venus expansion which.. was just okay, really (didn't really add all that much in our game).

I didn't really have anything exciting in my early cards, so I wended up going for a energy/heat generation strategy, moving to straight heat generation.  I actually do pretty good on this, raising the temperature pretty quick (which is worth some points), but I really didn't have a good end-game idea at this point.

I finally get a Development Center built, which gives me a way to turn some energy into card draw, which is great.  I then manage to get a card that lets me turn energy into points, and I decide to go heavy into energy, and hope for the best. I quickly get what I need to get that energy production up to seven.  Then nine...
Then fourteen.  However, I once again neglect putting pieces on Mars itself, which once again bites me some.
Still, I feel like I managed to get back into the game, which was an improvement for how much of the game felt!

We did the final scores, and I ended up dead last, again, with 57 points.  The winner was Dan with 82 points (the next lowest score was someone at 61).

Despite my poor showing, this is a game I love. And as I felt after the first time I played, I really want to try a new strategy, to see how it went. People ignored all the animal/bacteria cards again, for the most part. Maybe I can try using them next time?

At this point, we decided to call it a night- we had all traveled down here during the day, and I had worked in the morning. Determined to get an early start tomorrow, and getting nice and rested so we could get a lot more gaming in. Thus ended Day 1!