Saturday, 29 December 2012

Still In Blog-ness

I know it's been a while since the blogs seen an update, but let me assure you all, I am still busy beavering away. Just not at the blog of late.

Truth is that it has been WAY too cold in my particular part of the world to entertain the idea of sitting at my desk for any extended period of time. That coupled with a lovely little virus that just keeps on giving. :0/.

Things are both looking up and warming up however, so all being well, normal service will be resumed soon, and can I take this opportunity to thank all of our regulars that have been swinging by on what must be a daily basis to check up on us. It's much appreciated. :0).

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Swords Edge: From An Orcs Point Of View

One of the projects that I have been working on of late (on top of all of my other projects and gubbins) is a complete re-write of Tunnels and Trolls, from the ground up. Not that there is anything wrong with the rules as they stand, but even the rule book tells you that if you don't re-write it, you're not really playing the game.

Also, what I'm going for is quite unlike the rules as they stand. I'm creating a game that is set long before any established Wizard's Guild (a big thing in standard Tunnels and Trolls). So no Wizard's Guild means no Wizards. Rogues are as high as magic gets... There is always religion though. Groups of people that through sheer faith are able to perform potent acts of magic. Maybe the early "Wizard Gods", who knows? They had to come from somewhere right?

This is a HUGE change, as Tunnels and Trolls has always been very particular in steering well clear of religion. It's not the only big change that I have planned however, one of which will really go against the grain of traditional tropes.

No. More. Monsters.

Well, not per se anyhow. One of the big things that I have always loved about Tunnels and Trolls is the vast array of kindreds open to the player. Far more than that "other game". I think this is in no short part down to both inspired games design that was way ahead of its time, and of course, Tunnels and Trolls sister game, Monsters! Monsters!

So rather than simply say that kindreds, such as Orcs are generally monstrous sword-fodder, I will be taking the approach that every kindred included has a unique culture and society. Humans, Dwarves and, Elves may still be the norm, but the thing that will differentiate them from other races will be culture rather than kindred. Each will have a stake in the game world, maybe some greater than others, but each will none the less have a role to play. That is the name of the game after all.

Blood, rust, cults, and low magic. This is quite a different Trollish world.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Castle Panic: Finally At The Table

A lot later than expected, and just a quick posting but I finally managed to get a game of Castle Panic in, and well it was awesome.

When I sat down to read through the rules, I knew that my first run through, tonights session, would be a solo affair and the rule book promised me quite a challenge. It wasn't kidding! The monster descended upon the walls of the castle pretty damn fast but despite the horde, all was was going reasonably well until I lost close to half of my walls and towers within the space of a couple of turns.

To say it was looking bad was an understatement.

Thanks to a couple of lucky draws, it didn't take too long to turn the tide of battle though, and a few turns later I had replaced all of the lost walls. Just a shame that I couldn't do anything about the lost towers.

The game kept pace from then on in up until a point where I had most of my walls wiped (again) with monsters continually being thrown into the same couple of arcs in some weird twist. Whilst this wasn't too bad from a strategic point of view, it did result in just under a third of the draw deck being useless for the better part of the game. Maybe that'll even out over time though.

This kind of flow, along with a fairly consistent pace (save a couple of surges) meant that victory came rather easily, but I can't help but think with how easily all of those walls fell early on into the game, combined with the fact that I only had two walls (one of which was reinforced mind) and one tower remaining, that this game has a lot of challenge left in it.

It's certainly no Elder Sign.

If you don't own it, buy it! Like Settlers, this is one title that should be in EVERY gaming collection.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

$195 For A FREE Game? What The Hell!

Quite often I will take a flick through Board Game Geek and the web in general to see what's happening on the Print and Play front. There are a lot of great games out there for literally nothing more than your time and effort.. And obviously a little toner and card stock.

That's not always the case though as this shocker has shown me!

Dungeon Plungin' came up on my Print and Play radar a long time ago as a freebie, so imagine my shock when I found someone retailing it for $195! Make that $235 if you want to go "Deluxe".. And for deluxe, read some components mounted on chipboard. Hardly deluxe in my book. Other than that you're looking at shelling out all that money on card stock, but no matter which way you look at it, this mark up is a disgrace!

I mean, given the current value of the USD ($195 is roughly worth £121.69) let me put that into context for you. For less I could buy any one of the following dungeon crawls (with frankly vastly superior production values):

Dungeonquest (£49.95)

Hell, I could even find a copy of Warhammer Quest for that kind of money! Warhammer Quest of course not being freely available right here. Now tell me what part of this game being sold at such a ridiculously high price doesn't scream of all kinds of wrong!?

Alchemy Bytes #32: WINNING!

Following on from previous posting on the excellent Castle Panic, I decided to have a look over the Fireside Games website to see what else they might have to wet my gaming whistle.

Then I found this. A free print-and-play game of Sheenisms! WINNING!! A free game that I just had to share.

Although I do notice that Fireside Games have made yet another typographical screw-up (which is becoming something of a theme), labeling the web page as "Fireside Games - Bloodsuckers Card Game". Another one of their fine products, but nothing to do with Charlie Sheen.. I hope.

Still, typo's or no typo's, the products are still great, and that's the main thing. :0).

First Look: Castle Panic

Well, the time is almost upon me and the green skins are gathering amidst the trees. Thinking we cannot see them as we hurry our work upon the bastions along. The Panic will soon be upon us.

By which I mean that all being well, either tonight or tomorrow I will be taking my first shot at the tower defense come board game, Castle Panic. Carrying on the theme of firsts, I wanted to share my first impressions of the game with you all before even the first card is drawn.

As you have probably guessed from my previous posts, I LOVE the look of this game, and I had very high expectations of what was to come from the word go. Expectations that I can fairly say have been delivered upon from the moment I cracked open the box.

Unlike a lot of modern games that come with die-cut card components, the pieces in Castle Panic come pre-punched. Which is a big plus for me, as I have lost track of the countless hours (literally in the case of Descent 1st Edition) that I have lost popping games from their sprues before I could even entertain the idea of sitting down to look over the rule book. By which point I have usually given up the ghost and shelved the game for another day.

Looking over the interior of the box, I also notice that ample space has been left around the compartment designed for holding the games cards, so that if you wanted to protect them with card sleeves, you could and they'd still happily fit back in the box. That said, if you can't be bothered the space isn't so large that components are going to rattle around loose. That's good design!

All in all, I have to say that I think the folks over at Fireside Games have done a cracking job, with the only fall down points in the whole game being some of the simple typographical errors that have been overlooked, one of which can really mess with game balance if you happen to read it wrong. Which is a shame.

The error in question comes from the "Brick" and the "Mortar" cards, that both instruct you that if you have the other, you may play them both and build a wall. As the text is written however, it suggests that each card allows you to build a wall, instead of the two cards only giving you one wall. A small error but a significant one. The rules do clear this up but I still thought it was worth mentioning.

So there we have it. My first impressions are good, going on great. How will it all play out? Well there's only one way to find out!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Alchemy's Wokbench #8: Kill The Monsters. Steal The Treasure. Stab Yourself In The Back?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am working on a way of playing the Munchkin card game solo.

This is largely because I am a HUGE fan of the product line (with a sizable collection to boot), but there just isn't the player base where I live, and I have to get my Munchkin kick somehow. Normally this would mean Munchkin Quest, which is a great game, but what about those times when you want to kick in a door, kill a monster, and steal his loot at 3am in the morning or, on a rainy day or, as is most common with our gaming group, when everyone else is on a different shift pattern to you?

It makes getting a game in nigh on impossible but there must be some kind of solution. Right?

Well, I am a firm believer that nearly ANY game can be played solo. You just need to take a good long look at it and then get creative! Munchkin was no exception. I also believe that when creating a solo play version of a game, it should mirror the original in its theme and goals, else what you are actually doing is creating a new game, using the same components.

The first thing I needed to do was concisely breakdown the goal of Munchkin, which I would describe as "Reach level X before your opponent(s) do". So by nature it's a race game essentially, which makes it amazingly simple to convert. It also makes it incredibly easy to tweak once converted to either increase or, decrease the difficulty. Awesome!

So without further ado, I present:

Munchkin: solo
Compatable with all major Munchkin releases.

 Components: Nothing beyond the norm. The solo version of Munchkin has been designed so that you won't need to raid your gaming shelf BUT, it does run on the assumption that you are playing Epic Munchkin (because what true Munchkin wouldn't want to play to level 20!?), so if you are using standard level counters, you may want to retire them in favor of a couple of D20's.

Set-Up: Before dealing yourself your starting hand, deal out six piles of ten Room cards in front of you, and directly below each of these piles, deal a pile of ten Treasure cards (for a grand total of 60 Room cards and 60 Treasure cards across 12 piles).

Flip the top card of every Room pile so that it is visible and, now deal out your starting hand.

Play: Munchkin is played normally with the following exceptions:

  • When you would "Kick Open A Door" you instead choose to encounter the top card visible on any of the Room piles.

  • If you do not encounter a Monster you may "Look For Trouble" as normal or, "Loot The Room". If you do so, the face-up cards on the top each pile are considered face-down for the purposes of looting the room (and for all other reasons during the game, they're flexible like that).

  • If you are forced into "Charity", you simply discard the cards regardless of whom is actually the lowest level player.

  • After the "Charity" phase, your opponent automatically gains a level and, your next turn begins straight away.

  • Curses that would cause your opponent to lose a level still do so and may be played at any time but, curses that have any other effect other than reducing your opponents level, such as "Lose One Small Item", instead prevent your opponent from automatically leveling up at the end of your turn.

  • For the purposes of all cards, you are considered to be alone and unable to ask for help.

Winning: The player wins if they reach level X before their opponent but, as with standard Munchkin, the last level can only be gained by slaying a monster.