Saturday, 15 March 2014

Let's play a game: Pathfinder ACG. This time it's personal...

I've had Pathfinder ACG : Rise of the Runelords Base Set box for a month now. Why did I get it?
  • I wanted a game that could be solo as well as co-op.
  • I wanted  fantasy RPG feel, where characters could be continually levelled up.
  • I like cards.
  • I like minis but I don't want any more painting. Please no more projects that I'm going to start and then shelve 'cos I'm too darn busy. So, no minis this time please.
  • Some nice artwork.
  • Sound 'fluff'.
  • Expansions if need be, thank you.
  • LOTR LCG was beginning to do my head in. Numerous fails causing frustration and much gnashing of teeth (but I still love you really...)
  • Legend of Drizzt appearing too limited in terms of progression within the parameters of the box itself (e.g. levelling up)
  • A little more complexity than Mice and Mystics (of this game, more at another time).
Aha. Reviews indicated that this might be the one for me. The negative reviews said - too much  random, not enough story, broken/unclear ruleset with ever-growing FAQ, not RPG enough, too easy. The (overwhelmingly) positive reviews said - addictive, fun, great cross-over between RPG and board game, easy to learn, then gets harder.

Boom! Have at thee foul beast.


So to end the review at the beginning, both of the positives and negatives are true. But boy do the positives outweigh the negatives. It's great!

Since getting the game, it has been out and played at least a dozen times. Now, given my personal time constraints that's saying something. I have also not played all of the way though the additional campaign card set that is included because I want to get my characters right first. And that in itself should tell you something about the game. There are a number of permutations to equip and mold your character as you go through the order of scenarios. As you go through the 'campaigns' you pick up items and improve your character  -  and then meet progressively harder enemies.
This works as a solo game or co-op but the real beauty is that in either mode you can work with a number or characters each - which gives a real sense of team building. So, a quick note, in solo play don't use one character, go for three or four. With two or three other players - go for two each. It does mean the game is harder, you have more enemies to get though in a shorter time. But there are so many ways to puzzle out a completion route that it makes losing fun too.

There is a time limit, 30 turns - this is fixed. It might seem that makes it harder for more characters but, of course, they can get more done in that shorter time. Furthermore, you do, quickly, get to know how the game works. I'm not going to say too much about the mechanics.They are straight forward enough. But here goes  -
Decide your characters and build them with basic items - suggestions in the rulebook (now revised) so read the FAQs if I were you.
Decide scenarios. Build location encounter decks with specific number of random items/monsters etc.
send characters to locations in order to find items and defeat enemy and henchmen.
That is it. Basically.

I don't think I've done it justice though. Both in terms of the complaints circling on the internet - or the fact that I've really enjoyed playing this. It's a bit like one of those computer games that you love redoing areas because you want to know how else you can get round the monsters and find more loot. it does fit well among different gaming genre. Do not assume RPG strength story telling. Do not assume a board game feel either. When my son (15) and I played, we had a blast telling the story of our adventures in an RPG style as we went along. Try it  - it made us laugh.

Highly recommended. Buy it then get your non RPG and RPG mates round and have a laugh too, while probably arguing about why!


Friday, 21 February 2014

Let's play another game - Ascension Apprentice Edition

Playmat, quick rules and tokens included with the cards.

Welcome one and all to the next installment of 'Let's play a game'...
Today I'll be writing about a game that has got me just a bit intrigued. Many will complain about what I think are its strengths - indeed I've heard them complain so on the interweb. But for me, I'm a little hooked.




 It's very simple see, and that helps me as a bear of little brains. Long words confuse me. The game goes as follows - this is for the starter kit edition only, not the base pack. Though this is now on my wish list!

Two player (you can play more with other versions). Fixed number of victory tokens (60 here). Same starting hands for each player. Shuffle and take 5 as your first hand, when all played, other player goes, you draw five more then shuffle all together each time you have none left. You need to defeat monsters or acquire heroes by playing cards from your hand. As you acquire heroes or defeat monsters from the row on offer infront of you, replace them from the main deck. Meanwhile your deck grows as you acquire new heroes and you take rewards from the victory token pile until all tokens are gone. The game then ends. You count the value of tokens and the printed values on the cards. The highest total wins.

And that's about it. Except for the second thing that many complain about - the art on the cards themselves. Not MTG style at all and, yes, down to personal taste, but I likes 'em and feel that they are a 'breath of fresh air.'

So why the 'hooked' label earlier? Speed of play. Ease of play. Teachable to others in two minutes flat. No set up time to speak of. Limited victory point pool brings the game to a concise end. Some strategy.

Of course there is some strategy. How to mange resources. Which cards to defeat or acquire. How to 'chain' effects. There are four factions which do have linking abilities and work together in different ways. Some cards have ongoing effects. So - just enough strategy to maintain all of the advantages mentioned above.

For me  -  a great alternative to MTG and no boosters needed - though there are the obligatiory expansions! Heartily recommend this one!

Friday, 31 January 2014

Let's play a game - Forbidden Island.



Dear readers,
Allow me to bring you the first in a series of 'brief' board game reviews. It seems, these days, that the rise and rise of the board game is on the rise. At work a couple of game nights have sprung up, the Youtube channel Geek and Sundry cracks on apace, there's Watchitplayed and, of course, Beer and Board games for your delight and delectation. So what can I add? My friends, only the humblest of opinions...
And here I write with reference to those games that I have had a stab at over the last few weeks. Beginning with Forbidden Island.

A very simple game, yet fraught with tension and suspense. Your quest? Find the treasures. Of course! But mind out, the island is sinking to leave you in the swim and with little chance of rescue. Gather the treaures in time - or drown...

So what do you do? Travel round tiles which flip over to show they are sinking. Collect cards to colect the treasures, perform actions to stay alive all before the tiles flip and disappear leaving you stranded.

This is a great game - lots of replayability since your character gets different abilities depending on which one you are playing  - and the tiles rest in a different order each game. Yes, it's not complex, and if you play on easy mode you won't get much of a thrill. Also, don't expexct to be sitting for hours working on fabulously complex strategies. This game flies along and is great for those new to games and experienced alike - though some may see it as more of a 'filler'. Played with my son, lots of negotiation to play this co-operative game effectively. You can raise the danger level by turning more treasure cards per round - but you'll sink quicker too! A downside? Not infinitely replayable with the same group - but I'm looking forward to the next version Forbidden Desert.

Have at it! Recommended.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Mice and Mystics - have a look inside!


Mice and Mystics by Plaid Hat Games. 60-90 minutes. 1-4 players. Ages 7+. Cheers!



Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review time! 'Saga of The Swamp Thing' Books One and Two.



There is always at least 'one thing' you've always been meaning to see/read/get. For me, 'Swamp Thing' by Alan Moore (Bisette, Totleben too) was at the very top of my very long list of 'one things I really must get'... and so here, at last, is a review from me about something that really should be on all self-respecting comic afficionado's shelves -
So, what did I think? So much has already been written - much of it more sophisticated than I can manage here. Consequently it'll be unecumbered by the weight of any specific expertise - and you might agree with none of it. But I hope, as a result, you'll go and read it yourself (if you haven't already done so).

First impressions? What struck me straight away, is that the narrative is more dynamic than I had expected. Even during 'introspective' moments there is a real sense of movement, both in the drawing and in the 'scripting'. In part this is  driven by the non-standard framing. It's responsive to, and part of, the narrative itself. I think also the simplicity of colouring and the uncluttered content of the frames keeps the reader focussed. The writing does makes full use of speech and expositional/narrative text boxes, mostly though, these are short -and intense. I've read back issues of 'Uncanny X-Men', for example, where the dialogue seems to be swamping the story. There's a lot to 'read' but there is a real sense of balance.
Yes, there are many moments of 'introspection' which is the second most important feature of these collections. SwampThing (a a character) cuts an existential figure. He (?) struggles with the nature of his existence and, though the pages of these two books at least, begins to grasp that indeed, he is the sum of what he says and does. Not what he was. Not what he may yet become.
I think that last sentence encapsulates much of the 'story' in these first two books. Swamp Thing has to discover who or what he is, it's a very human set of desires. Yet he is quite clearly not human. He doesn't do human things of necessarily feel in human ways and this is one of the things he has to learn. Interestingly, Swamp thing is not the only one learning about themselves - Abby, Matt, Dr. Woodrue, Arcane...villains and heroes alike appear to be on journeys themselves and, as a reader, that sense of charcter exploration is a further factor in what makes these books so engaging.
There is a lot that's odd here too  - mystical, spiritual moments (Yes, I know - and in the 1980s too!), etherial, non-sequential moments. There are elements of gothic horror, science-fiction, philosophy, hallucinations, zombies, super heroes, resurrections and in one episode wierd aliens land are eaten by alligators. You could argue that it's sometimes challenging, not always strightforward, unclear and, well just plain too odd.
But enough said. Your turn. I'm off to buy Book Three.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Malifaux: Lady Hammerstrike, the beginning!

So, last month, knowing that a new Malifaux was on it's way - and knowing that there's going to be a whole bunch of new plastics and a new rulebook - I took the 'Malifaux plunge'. That is to say, I already had the old 1.5 rulebook but no minis. However, I didn't want to miss the old Viktoria's set before it went out of print, so to speak.
To that end here is Lady Hammerstrike with the base colours painted. The arm is metal/silver with blue /brown wash. the hair is going to be a deep red. White/beige top and denim /black jeans. brass/copper/silver hammer.
We'll see how it goes.
 I really like the figures in the pack. It'll probably mean I'll 'have to' purchase the 2e rulebook, but what the hey.



Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Painted : Valeria Alvaro, Ordic Pistoleer - Iron Kingdoms miniature.

So, taking a break form the Flames of War 'journey', just to keep things fresh, I found a long-forgotten model that I had bought a couple of years ago. Initially, I just liked the figure and hadn't really decided what I was going to do with it - other than paint it in the same style as the Privateer Press photos.

This mini is from quite a cool little range that Privateer Press do to support their Iron Kingdoms RPG and such. The pose is quite interesting. You can't quite tell where the front is, as she looks askance over her shoulder.

Going back to it recently then, I had painted a Cygnar warjack and Coleman Strykera while ago (see posts), so it seemed sensible to see if I could get her into this army by making her into a journeyman warcaster or gun mage officer of some sort. To that end I painted her with a blue jacket and a similar colour scheme to the warjack.

Here are the pics!



Just lacking a sword?
 And then these ...





And then these ... Note the blonde hair. The shadows are darker than I'd have liked though. But black or cream 'shirt'? Hmmm ....

And finally ...





Done! (Cream shirt.)

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