Monday, 14 October 2013

Thanksgaming Weekend 2013

Happy Thanksgaming to all my fellow Canadian gamers! I hope you enjoyed the long weekend with friends and family, perhaps with a bit of gaming?

Saturday the 12th 

This was the grand opening of the new Interactivity Board Game Cafe, and I swung by to check it out after having a thanksgivin' sammich at Chef's Quest. Pretty much all my friends were out of town so the only chance I got to give the extensive game library a whirl was by playing a bunch of rounds of the co-operative game Escape: The Curse of the Temple with a pair of friendly blokes. We had all seen of this game on Shut Up & Sit Down's review of it and thought to give it a try.
Here are my impressions:

We lacked a CD player for the narrated disc and also the hourglass was missing, so we ended up accessing the timed audiotrack online via smartphone. The rules were a little vague in some respects, although we were more so quickly taught the rules by a staff member than reading them from the beginning.
Our first game we easily won only because we had missed the prompts in the track when to return to the starting room within a time limit or lose a die from your die pool. Also we randomly drew a lot of rooms that allowed us to place a lot of gems co-operatively on our way to discovering the exit.
Thus our second game was thus much more difficult, and we lost handedly. There was also more confusion on the prompts because it's easy to ignore them because of the frantic nature of the game and how they can blend into the rest of the ambient background noise of the track.
By our third game we found a track that was just the prompts minus the ambient noise (which made it easier to know when to flee back) and we all managed to succeed in escaping the temple.
On our forth and fifth games we decided to add the cursed and treasure rooms, which added more interesting elements. The challenge was far too great and we failed both times for all of us escaping, though usually just from time running out on our final mad dash to the exit.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple's concept is quite simple and I enjoyed the frantic nature of it; both a good family and/or party game. There's not much else I could say beyond SU&SD's review which covers the pros and cons of it.

Sunday the 13th 

After purchasing and getting some assistance transporting our new coffee table home, the Missus and I attended thanksgiving dinner hosted by her cousin and wife. After a wonderful traditional feast and homemade pie for dessert, a bunch of us got together and played The Resistance, the party game of deception and deduction in a totalitarian dystopia.

For those uninitiated, The Resistance is very similar to mafia or werewolf minus player elimination and with greater social interaction. Again I'll reference Shut Up & Sit Down for their excellent review of it and TableTop for their superb example of play. This was a game I had bought so many months ago but never had a chance to play until now. Here are my impressions:
It's an excellent party game IMHO, and one of the things I love the most about The Resistance was that all the players in our game apart from me don't frequently play games, if at all, but they were all quickly brought in by it's simple concepts and kept engaged by it's social aspects. 
Next time we play The Resistance, it'd like to give The Plot Thickens expansion a try, which looks to add more interesting fun. I'm also keen to try out it's newer fantasy sibling The Resistance: Avalon.

Monday the 14th

Thanksgiving Day the Missus and I mounted our bicycles and together rode down to Interactivity Board Game Cafe. There we played three games: Forbidden Desert, vanilla Carcassonne, and Tsuro.

I'd twice previously purchased Forbidden Desert's older brother Forbidden Island for friends of mine, and thus had numerous chances to play that well-made co-operative game. So when I heard that a sequel had been recently released I was eager to try it out.
A fellow patron joined us for the game we played. Forbidden Desert takes the core gameplay concept from it's elder but adds on a layer of additional survival aspects without making it overly complicated. I'm working on introducing Missus' to board games and this game was very easy for her to pick up, and only took brief consultation of the rules to answer any questions. Hallmarks of a good family game.
Despite being easy to learn and play, like it's predecessor it's hard to win, possibly even tougher with the increased ways to fail. We did lose our game, but only with victory near, so it wasn't a hallow loss. Even with one game under my belt I think I can safely say I prefer Forbidden Desert over Forbidden Island as it's additional strategy keeps it from being too simple.

I've played Carcassonne several times with friends, and thought it'd be a relatively simple game to introduce, especially just the vanilla version. Our companion had played it before many times but only on Xbox Arcade, so this was the first time he played the actual board game version, which he preferred being able to sit down together with live players.
Not much to say about Carcassonne that hasn't be said before; I quite enjoy it and I think my better half did too. Our companion emerged the winner, with the Missus 4 points behind him, and me more than a score behind the both of them.

Finally just the two of us played three rounds of Tsuro, an abstract tile game. It's an incredibly simplistic game, that'd be perfect for introducing to the very young. I also find the simple concept, abstract gameplay, and beautiful artwork very Zen. 
My better half beat me best 2-out-of-3. An excellent game if you're in the mood for playing something simple and not complex, or want to play with a diverse age-group of players.
Afterwards we rode our bikes around a bit more, and then returned home to our own private Thanksgiving supper. Yummy!

Other Recent News

Patron Pride

Here's a brief story: around 6 years ago when the word had spread that WotC was to be discontinuing the print versions of the both Dragon and Dungeon magazines and reverting to a online subscription format, many fans of those publications like myself were dismayed over the end physical periodicals. Along came game designer Wolfgang Baur and his radical concept of creating a magazine called Kobold Quarterly to fill the large OGL content niche both Dragon and Dungeon were leaving in their wake via a patronage business model. Needless to say it was a hit and two years later was an 5-time ENnie Award winner.

After a five year run, sadly it was announced the magazine would fold after its 23rd issue. But Open Design lives on and Kobold Press was created for the purpose of creating and publishing RPG adventures, sourcebooks, content, etc.

I have a small measure of pride to know that I was a patron of KQ in it's initial run, though at the time I did not have the finances to keep up my subscription beyond the first four issues I received, I still have them on my gaming shelf.

Recently when I saw that more Kobold Unit Patches available I leapt at the opportunity to order one and now I flaunt my loyal pride to the Small But Fierce fanzine that I supported. :)

Star Wars RPG News

Still with no news on the Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Beta book arriving locally, I was disheartened when I discovered that FFG had already released their first Beta Update for it. I fear that by the time I get my hands own my copy the majority of the Beta test period will be over, and I'll have wasted money on a sub-par version of the final product that I won't even of had a chance to submit feedback on. The initial excitement I had has now been dulled by my impatience, and thinking about it realistically the AoR Beta isn't as big a deal as the EotE Beta because I/we already know all the core mechanics of the system. It's that fanboy completionist side of me that wants it.

Speaking of Edge of the Empire, the first FAQs & Errata have been released as well. One thing I have of contention is how the errata treats the Pierce and Breach weapon qualities versus how myself, other GM's, and some forum posters have interpreted it: ignoring Soak vs. reducing Soak. I prefer the ignoring interpretation as it makes the quality more useful by making the weapon more effective against high Soak targets by at least dealing the Pierce value in damage to a target on a successful attack, even if it doesn't initially deal enough damage to overcome its Soak.

This errata ruling might be the better way to go in the long run (especially if you apply the ignoring Soak to Breach weapons), but it still seems to be a stable (if stopgap) balance against really high Soak PCs and NPCs and preventing combat escalating into a proverbial arms race.

If character with high enough Soak can take an average shot to their unarmoured body from a blaster pistol and walk away unscathed, that's immersion breaking. Blaster technology has always outmatched armour technology in the Star Wars Universe, that's why despite wearing armour Stormtroopers fall to a well aimed blaster shot from an unarmored Han Solo (and cinematic license of course).

March Against Darkness

I am really poor at mentioning RPG kickstarters until I get a reminder email that it's in its final hours: March Against Darkness is a Canadian designed dark fantasy RPG that was brought to my attention a few weeks ago by a local gamer. It cleared it's funding and cleared two stretch goals (neither of which was cast custom dice I'd like).

March Against Darkness seems pretty cool setting-wise though I'm a little wary of the system; sounds a bit crunchy for my tastes but I could be wrong. I'll find out once I receive the print copy I backed hopefully around May 2014.

Happy Thanksgaming everyone! ;{١

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