… Save Daelore!

A very limited game budget forces me to be choosy about the games that I add to my collection.  There are a bunch of things that I consider before buying a new game, value for my dollar, theme, number of plays, solo options, and component quality.  I am a sucker for components.  If a game offers a deluxe, pimped out, blinging version, that’s where I am going.  Ditch the cardboard for wooden bits?  Yes, please.  Upgrade cardboard player mats for neoprene?  I’m starting to drool.   Custom dice?  I may be in love!  I think you get my point, I love components, no need to embarrass myself any further.

I cannot think about game components without one company immediately coming to mind, Chip Theory Games.  Chip Theory makes some of the most beautiful components for their games, and folks, they came standard!  Die cut neoprene mats, custom dice, chips, and cards made out of PVC , all in the standard game!  It is like a dream, wrapped in an enormous box.  Chip Theory games is based in the US, and is the brainchild of cousins Josh and Adam Carlson.  They started their venture with Hoplomachus, a series of tactical games set in ancient arenas.  (See Ricky Royal’s review here).  Too Many Bones followed, and Triplock soon after that.  Each venture has been successfully backed on Kickstarter by fans eager for more from these guys, me included!

Unfortunately, I am not fortunate enough to own all of their games (one day, one day!!!), but I am all in for Too Many Bones, so that is the game I will be gushing, uhhh, discussing, today.  The base game comes with 138 heat transferred custom dice.  138!  I mentioned the PVC cards, there are 120 of those, standard 4g health chips, and 71 11.5g Baddie, Tyrant, Gearloc, and various other chips.  Oh, and I almost forgot 5 neoprene mats, 4 of those are player mats, and 1 is the battle mat.  All packed into one of the biggest, heaviest boxes that I have ever seen.  I have also added on the three additional Gearlocs they offer, each coming with dice and chips individual to them.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are upgrades to be had.  An adventure mat to replace the adventure card, 11.5g health chips to replace the 4g chips, and even a really cool “Control ‘Ur Roll” dice tray.  I recommend upgrading the health chips immediately, they feel so much better, slide better across the mats, and make the game more cohesive, in my opinion.  Not to mention that, oh so satisfying, music to my hears, click the chips make when stacking them on top of each other.  My 4g chips had a little extra plastic in the middle that would catch on my mats, and that ultimately convinced me to switch over.  I made the right choice!  The adventure mat is a nice addition as well, keeping the day counter in place and offering a nice aesthetic.  I had to add that to my collection as well.  Each of these components all fit into the original box, making storage easier, as well.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so it looks pretty, but how does it play?  The game takes place over a series of days, as you lead your Gearloc, or Gearlocs, to track down and defeat the Tyrant that is threatening Daelore.  The number of days, or rounds, depends on the Tyrant that you have chosen to square off against.  The game moves forward through a story driven mechanic that offers the players choices on which road to take.  They may choose to fight, or flee, they may choose to help a poor merchant, or steal from him.  These choices will affect the rewards for victory, and may also affect the way the battle itself is set up.  These choices also make the game fun and replayability high. After a certain number of days has passed (it differs from Tyrant to Tyrant) you may choose to fight the Tyrant.  You may, instead, decide to get more experience and loot.  The loot and trove loot cards are varied and offer nice options on and off the battlefield.  As long as you defeat the Tyrant in the requisite number of days you are victorious and may return home a honored hero.  Fail to do so, and gulp, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.  The game play is smooth and tactical, and very much fun.  I love rolling the perfect combo of dice and putting a big hurt on a baddie, or group of baddies.

How does it solo?  I have played this game almost exclusively solo, with a few multiplayer games here and there.  The solo story cards do get a bit stale after a few playthroughs, a complaint they seemed to have addressed in their newest offerings, Undertow, 40 Days in Daelore, and The Age of Tyranny expansions.  Multiplayer gameplay offers more cards to choose from, and therefore stays fresher a bit longer.  Although the story side of the cards may get a bit stale, the gameplay itself does not.  This was my most played solo game in 2017, and I only got it in October!  The battles are varied enough through the number of chips, and the increasing difficulty brought on by the passage of time.  The custom dice for each character are not all offered to the player at the start of the game, making for some tough choices, should I get more HP, or get that really cool die that might help me take out some more baddies?  The choices that are made here also vary from day to day making each game different and exciting.  There are 7 Tyrants included in the box, and they too offer different challenges, add that to the 4 Gearlocs in the box, and 3 more that can be added on, and the options are plentiful.  The set up is fairly quick, and simple.  The learning curve can be somewhat high due to the sheer number of custom dice, individual to each Gearloc, but the included sheets for each one makes it less painful, and more of a discovery.

The cards have nice flavor text that really bring a sense of choice and tongue in cheek humor to the game.  I often find myself chuckling when reading them.  To expand the world and the story, Chip Theory has also released Adventure Logs, books that include journal entries, concept art, and more back story to the lore of Daelore and the Gearlocs.  There is so much to this game, it keeps calling me back to the table, again and again!

I am excited for the new games coming later this year, and to see what else Josh and Adam Carlson have in store for this franchise.  I am also eager to one day try their other games, Triplock, and Hoplomachus, as well.  I saw a video by Ricky Royal talking about a Training Arena for Hoplo that offers a way to try the game out without a big dollar commitment.  I’ll have to keep my eye out for that.  I have also heard tons of good things about Triplock as a solo game, and we all know how I feel about that!!  🙂  Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see these games pop on here as well!  Until then, I will be happy to keep bringing this big box of joy top my table over and over again!!

I am planning on doing a playthrough of all the tyrants  in the base game, and possibly the expansion as well (when it gets here this summer).  Comment below if you’d like to see these playthrough sessions posted on here, highlighting what happened between my Gearloc (probably Ghillie) and the Tyrant he is currently facing.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly saved Daelore!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Don’t forget, once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, I will have a giveaway of a copy of Mint Tin Pirates!!

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Come Play with E! Mint Tin Edition

Hello everyone!  Welcome to the first game post in the monthly series, Come Play with E.  This month Emily and I will be talking about a game series published by husband and wife team David and Kate Miller, also known as subQuark Publishing.  Three successful Kickstarters has helped them bring their Mint Tin Series to life, Mint Tin Pirates, Mint Tin Aliens, and Mint Tin Apocalypse.  The Millers live in New Hampshire and are committed to bringing all of their games to life using locally sourced vendors.  They meticulously sort through each component for every game they personally send out to ensure each item is as perfect as can be humanly possible. That’s a commitment to their product that you don’t see every day!  A fourth Mint Tin game is currently in the works, and should be coming to Kickstarter soon.

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All three games are currently in my collection, which means that are currently in Emily’s collection.  Spoiler Alert, one of these games has actually been taken from me, and permanently moved to her collection.  So, let’s talk about that one first, Mint Tin Pirates.  We live in Florida, and our little section of the state celebrates Gasparilla, a time when we were invaded by pirates, they took over the town, and had a great party.  This is celebrated here every February with parades, beads, parties, and of course, pirate invasions.  So what a perfect time to get this little gem to the table, and when I say little, I mean little.  It comes in, you guessed it, a Mint Tin, and is all self contained.  The game comes with a deck of cards, some dice, mini meeples in red, black, and white, and wooden cubes in red, black, and gold.  Each pirate is given a galleon, after all, what kind of pirates would we be without a ship?  They then add their three pirates to man the ship, place their colored cube on the far right bottom of their card, and deal out 5 cards to each player, then get ready to battle.

Play is simple, and Emily caught on right away.  You attack your opponents ship or pirates by making pairs.  Once a pair is made the dice are rolled, if the dice total matches the numeric print on the bottom of the card the attack was successful, if not, you missed.  Too bad.  If you used a knife, bomb, or guns, it will take out a meeple.  A cannon goes right for your ship.  Damage to the ship moves the cube on the bottom of your ship card one space to the right, damage to your meeple sends one of your pirates into the drink.  Did you roll doubles?  Then you get the gold cube, this allows you to have an extra card in your hand, bringing you to 6 cards now.  Does the other pirate already have the cube?  Then take it from them!!  You are pirates after all, plundering is kind of your thing!

Game play goes back and forth until one pirate has destroyed the others galleon, or has lost their crew to Davy Jones’ locker.  But watch out, there is a Ghost Pirate who takes over the first player to lose their crew’s ship, and gives them a bit of a reprieve, although a bit of a handicap in cards, they go down to only 3.  There are also wild cards, doubloons (gold really can buy anything), cards that can bring a pirate back from the sea, and even a card that will turn your crew into traitors!

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Emily loves this game.  It is so small and compact that she has added it to her restaurant bag (the bag o’ stuff that we use to occupy her while waiting for food) and it comes to the table frequently.  We have taken it on picnics, and as I mentioned, we live in Florida.  This game also made its way into my hurricane evacuation bag this past season.  Thankfully we never had to evacuate, but if we did, I added a small collection of games to occupy our time, and this one made the cut!  The mini cards are perfect for Emily’s little hands, although we do also use Uberstax, to help her with hand management.  She loves rolling the dice to see if she got me or not, and, as a bonus, it is a great way for her to do math, adding the totals up.  She loves to send my pirates into the sea, and giggles a bit manically when she does, I may need to keep an eye on that one, but where were we? Ah yes, the game!  Neither one of us really has a complaint about the game, it’s quick, light, and fun.  It even makes you start talking like a pirate from time to time, and what’s wrong with that ya barnacle crusted sea dog?

Emmy’s take:

“You play Mint Tin Pirates with the battles and battles.  Pirates force against pirates!  And the ghost pirate is your last chance!  I think it’s good, I love it!  Bye everybody, I’ll see you again soon, friends!”

Mint Tin Pirates gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

Did this game look like a game that you may want to add to your collection?  Once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, we will have a giveaway of this game! David and Kate Miller have generously offered to send a copy of this game to one of my lucky subscribers!  So hit that follow button, head on over to Twitter and do the same.  Once we hit that lucky 200, I’ll post more details on the contest!

Did you like what you read here?  Please follow us both here and on Twitter to receive the most up to date posting information as well as other related and unrelated posts!

 

 

…Play Ball!

With the start of a new baseball season looming on the horizon, I thought that I would talk about a baseball game.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a really big baseball fan.  Lifelong, true blue, New York Yankees fan.  I hope this information does not sour our relationship.  🙂  I’ve kind of stayed away from sports related games, but decided to dive into this one.  Honestly, I was torn between Bottom of the 9th by Greater Than Games, designed by Mike Mullins and Darrell Louder, and Baseball Highlights 2045 designed by Mike Fitzgerald and published by Eagle-Gryphon Games .  I watched a bunch of solo playthrough videos (thanks Colin!  He has an awesome channel, check it out sometime,  One Stop Co-op Shop) and still could not make up my mind.  (I have to admit I was leaning a bit towards Bottom of the 9th sheerly based on the Sentinels of the Multiverse expansion, I mean, come on!!)  But, I decided to leave it to a higher power.  The tie breaker came in the form of my Reddit Secret Santa, who sent me…  Baseball Highlights 2045.  Sorry Bottom of the 9th, one day you will be added to my collection, but in the meantime, I am going to PLAY BALL, with Baseball Highlights.

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Baseball Highlights 2045 is a futuristic game that takes place in, well, 2045.  Robots and cyborgs have joined the “natural” players on the field in a contest that has been shortened to just 6 innings.  The game plays through a series of mini games that includes deck building strategies, as each player has an opportunity to buy new players, or free agents, after each game.  Just like the real baseball game, the winner is the player who scores the most points in a single game, or the most games in a predetermined number of games.

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The comes with four teams right out of the box, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Don’t see your favorite team listed here?  No worries, there are plenty of expansion packs to make sure that everyone can play as their favorite team.  There are even expansions to play as other countries, as well as adding ballparks, coaches, and other items to increase the replayability.  Each round you draw six cards that will be your team for that game.  The players can be played only once, simulating the highlights of the passing innings.  The players are used as base runners, and they can either be slow, average, or fast.  You use a corresponding pawn of white, blue, or red, to denote this on your player mat.  You also use the card for it’s text box, which can be used to thwart your opponent.  In a solo game your opponent is an AI deck made up of only free agent cards, making this game a bit more challenging, right off the BAT!  (Sorry, I had to)

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The components are well made, the cards have a nice linen finish and have, so far, stood up to the shuffling that a deck builder requires.  It has a nice sense of humor that comes across in the artwork, and the names of the free agents that you can buy in between games.  A fun side of the game is also trying to match up some of the free agents names with their respective real-life counterparts.  The pawns are wood, and do their job well, although I do like the idea of baseball meeples in their place.  The mats are a thin cardboard, a bit flimsy, in my opinion, but again, they do their job.  The game is quick, and the rules can be a bit fiddly at first, but once you get them down, they become much more NATURAL (sorry).  The game comes with four reference cards, and they help sooth out the gameplay greatly.  I have not yet played with any of the expansions, but I have heard they add a lot to the enjoyment of the base game.

How does it solo?  I have only played this game as a two player and solo.  I found the 2 player version a bit more exciting and balanced.  There was the war to get the best free agents before your competitor, much like in real baseball, and allowed for some level of trash talking too, much like in real baseball.  The instructions recommend having a certain number of “buy rounds” prior to the start of a solo game to help mitigate the AI having a deck of all free agents, as opposed to your deck of rookies and common veterans.  This sometimes helps, but a lot of time does not.  Be prepared to lose.

If you are a baseball fan, and need a quick gaming fix in between games, this will definitely satisfy that need.  The amount of cards included in the base game are more than enough to ensure you don’t play the same game twice.  The restriction of using six cards per game really makes you think about how you use each of those precious cards.  Play it too soon and you may regret it!  Hold on to it too long and you may miss your chance to best use it!  The decision are fun and can really make you strategize.  Overall this game is a nice filler, and can help scratch that baseball itch, especially during the off season!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly played ball!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

 

Come Play With E!

Mommy play with me?  Parents out there, how many times have you heard this?  There are times when my 5 year old asks me this and she means her Shopkins, or her stuffed toys, but then there are times when she means games.  Games!  Not Candyland or Cooties, although we do have those, but “Mommy’s games”.  These are games that are generally not rated 3 and up.  That right there is when I drop everything and go!  (Not really, but you get the idea).

One of the questions that I get asked quite a lot, and a question that I see posted on the boards that I frequent is “How do I get my (insert age here) year old to play games?”.   This is a hot topic and one that I hop on to answer a lot.  For me the answer, or answers, was simple.  Here’s a quick rundown:

1- My daughter, Emily, is 5, she has been playing games since she was right around 2.  She owns the classic toddler games, but did not cut her teeth on them.  Don’t be afraid to skip Chutes and Ladders.  One of her first games was Roll For It by Chris Leder published by Calliope Games.  Matching the dice she rolled to the cards was amazingly simple, and she loved getting the matches.

2- When you child sees you playing a game, and asks to play too, don’t roll your eyes and pack it up.  They’re asking you to play what they see, not something else, so let them play too.  My daughter frequently plays Arkham Horror LCG (published by Fantasy Flight Games) with us by pulling the tokens from the bag, moving the pieces around the board and drawing new cards for us.  She sees that I’m excited about the game, and she wants to be a part of it too.  So we let her!  And that makes her excited about it too!

3- There are some games that can be “dumbed down” to make it accessible to a kid.  There are times when we play open handed, even if the game is competitive, so that we can play with her.  There are times when we change the rules a bit, or even remove some, so that she can enjoy the game too.  When she starts to catch on, then we add them back, or teach her new ones.  A great example of this was Takenoko by Antoine Bauza, (published by Asmodee) until recently we played open handed.  We helped her find the matches to her cards to score points.  Recently she has moved up to playing on her own, and she frequently wins!

4- Kids are so very smart, and adaptable, don’t underestimate them.  They can pick up on things, and remember rules that even we forget.  I recently took a chance and picked up Fabled Fruit by Friedemann Friese (published by Stronghold Games).  This is a kind of legacy game, without permanently damaging the pieces, but the cards had a lot of text.  At the start of each game I read the cards to her and then we play.  Here’s the cool thing, she remembers the card effects!  Right now we are playing through the game as a legacy, and she is beating me by 2 points in the overall standings.  She may not be able to read, but she can remember, and she does!  I can’t say this enough, do not underestimate kids.  Try it, and surprise yourself!

5- Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Take your child to a game store and see what appeals to them.  See what types of games they gravitate to.  Do they seem to like space games?  Animal games?  Star Wars?  Then look for something that you can play together.  This is a hobby that we are all excited to share with new players, how cool would it be to share it with someone that we live with?  Let them guide you, and if it’s something that doesn’t tickle your particular fancy, then try it out.  It may just turn out to be a great game mechanically, and one you can share for a long time!

I am excited that my daughter has turned into a little gamer, and when she found out that I was running a blog about solo gaming, asked me when I would talk about her, and what games she likes to play.  In response I am writing this little article.  I also promised to highlight “her games” once a month in a new feature called “Come Game with E”.  I’ll discuss games that she and I are playing together, her thoughts, changes we may have made to make it playable for her, and anything else that we can think of.

If you’re a parent, someone who knows a kid who wants to game, or just want to hear a 5 year old’s take on our precious hobby, I invite you to join me. I promise you, it will be anything but boring!

Leave me a comment below, and let me know what games you think we should play, or even share your experiences.  And don’t forget to follow me here and on Twitter for up to date postings!

…Produce Goods (?)

Hello again!  Today I’m back with one of my favorite little box games, Oh My Goods!  Oh My Goods is designed by Alexander Pfister (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite designers), and is published by Mayfair Games, Inc. and Lookout Spiele (.  You may know Alexander Pfister from his wildly popular Great Western Trail, Mombasa, or even Isle of Skye.

Oh My Goods! has spawned two expansions, Longsdale in Revolt, which introduced not only campaign play, but a solo mode as well, and Escape to Canyon Brook.  Escape to Canyon Brook is not readily available here in the States, and I am eagerly waiting for it.  In the meantime, I have been biding my time with Longsdale in Revolt.  Before we get into the expansion, let’s talk about the base game, and what it has to offer.

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Oh My Goods! Is a 2-4 player game, and takes about half an hour or so to play.  The game consist of only cards, but what I truly love about these cards is the multi-functionality of the cards.  Each card can be used in one of 3 ways, as a resource, as a building, or placed face down to represent a good.  Each player starts with a Charburner, 7 goods worth 1 coin each, and a worker.  The game is played over 4 rounds, or phases.  The first phase allows the player to discard all of their hand and draw back that many cards.  Then each player is dealt two new cards from the stack.

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Phase two is the Sunrise phase.  Cards are dealt from the draw deck, face up in the center of the table until two cards are drawn showing a half sun symbol on the left hand side.  These cards represent resources in the market that are available for all players to use to produce goods.  Players are then decide to place their workers in their buildings to produce goods. Workers can either produce efficiently, generating two goods, or sloppily, only producing one good, however requiring one less resource to do so.  Players must decide which buildings to access as well as how to produce using the cards in their hands as well as the ones in the market.  Players may also place one card, face down, to build, using goods to pay for the construction.

The third phase, sunset is much like the first phase.  Additional cards are drawn into the market until, once again, two half suns are drawn.  The market is now closed.  The fourth and final phase is the production and building phase.  Players will produce at all buildings which they have placed workers or assistants, using the resources in the market or from their hands.  Players will gain two good for efficient work and one for sloppy work.  Production chains can be activated on buildings with workers who have produced this round and may generate additional goods.  Players who do not have the necessary resources will not produce any goods this round.  Players may now choose to build the building that was placed face down during the second phase, paying the necessary goods, from their buildings.

Game play continues like this until one player has built 8 buildings, including their Charburner.  After a player has built their 8th building, the current round finished, all players are allowed to use the production chains on all of the buildings one last time, and then victory points are calculated.  Victory points, found on the upper right hand side of the buildings, assistants, are added to leftover goods.  Goods equaling 5 coins can be traded for 1 victory point.  The player with the most victory points wins.

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As I mentioned, the first expansion, Longsdale in Revolt, adds a storyline to the game, as players play through a revoltution happening in Longsdale.  The game adds new elements including event cards (blue backs), game goals, set up cards (red backs), characters, as well as 5 good cards.  The campaign play has added a lot of replayability as well as content to the game for me.  I will admit, it is not easy.  Spoiler alert, I did not win the game that I played here.  I lost.  Badly.  But I still had fun, and can’t wait to try it again.  The story line really adds some depth to the game, making your decisions harder, or easier to make, based on the story line itself.  I can’t say too much more about the game, because I don’t want to spoil the game play and story for anyone out there that is interested, but it has been so Good!  (See what I did there?)

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The game plays pretty quickly, and I love the use of the cards for dual functions.  This makes the game more compact.  Compact is good.  I have taken this game several times on overnight trips.  It plays perfectly in a smaller space, like a hotel room.  It is definitely a go-to for me for travelling.  The card quality is good, and the artwork in the base, while not too exciting, fits the game.  The artwork in the expansion adds a little more flavor and character to the game through additional cards outside of the buildings.

If you like what you read and saw here I encourage you to look into this game.  It’s compact, inexpensive, and most importantly, fun.  Alexander Pfister has done a great job. If You’ve played oh My Goods! already, I recommend this expansion, and the one that I am (not so) patiently waiting for.  Alexander Pfister has also released (again, not easily found here in the US) Tybor the Builder, based on a character in the Oh My Goods! universe.  More readily available in the US, he has also released Port Royal through Steven Jackson games.  This has made its way on my wishlist, and I will be sure to let you guys know all about it as soon as I get my hands on it!

Thanks for joining me while I singlehandedly (tried to) produce some goods!  If you like what you saw here, please leave me a comment below!