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Board Game Bits

Greetings Programs,

I’ve got three bits about board games; two reviews and one news item.

We spent New Years with friends in Columbus, OH and on New Years day we ventured out to one of my friend’s favorite gaming/comic shops, Packrat Comics, in Hilliard, OH. Packrat is a great store, well organized and clean, with a wide variety of comics, games, and other geekish toys. They’re light on role playing games, but other than that it’s an excellent store with a friendly and helpful staff. They also have a good stock of games for customers to try out and the staff is happy to set them up and teach people how to play.

I don’t have a friendly local gaming store so I don’t get to play games in stores very often. Not board games, not role playing games. So I was happy to jump in and play one of their demo games with my friend and his two daughters. The game?

Castle Panic: Published in 2009 by Fireside Games (how have I missed out on this game for so long?) Castle Panic is a cooperative board game tower defense game, in the literal sense. The game board consists of a series of circles divided into six zones and three colors. In the center circle are six towers and walls. The first circle is labeled swordsmen, the second for knights, the third for archers, and the farthest is the forest. On each player’s turn several things happen, including drawing monsters and placing them in the forest, advancing creatures towards the towers, and playing cards to fight back against them. Monsters are placed by rolling a D6 and placing the creature in that zone, then advancing them one ring each turn. Players fight back by playing cards. A card of the correct ring name and color will do damage. For example, if a monster is in the Knight ring of the Red zone, a corresponding card can be used to damage the creature. Play continues until all the monsters are killed or all the towers are destroyed.

The game is fast and furious. The rules are elegant, easy to grasp, and are exciting for both children and adults. Our game came down to a nail-biting finale, with us slaying the final creature just before losing our final tower. This is also a game that would be fun to bling out, either by digging out my old lead minis or printing up some paper figs, perhaps giving me an excuse to get more Okumarts sets.

Castle Panic is a fun game that has earned a place high on my wish list. Packrat was sold out, or one would have been coming home with me.

High Noon Saloon: A game that they did have in stock was High Noon Saloon. This game has been on my wish list for a while, so it was coming home with me. Published in 2011 by Slugfest Games (which may be my new favorite company name) High Noon Saloon is a light, fast playing game about bar fights in the old west. The board depicts the titular saloon, divided into several sections where the characters can duck under the bar, take cover behind the piano or an upturned table, or dive off the balcony. Characters have unique special abilities and players hold a hand of items and actions that range from knives and whips to six guns and rifles. Of course there are also chairs that can be smashed over someone’s head.

Ammunition is a precious commodity and each time you put a gun into play you draw a random bullet card to see how many rounds it has. Other cards allow you to “call out” an opponent, putting both of you into the center of the bar to duke it out, a risky maneuver since there is no cover there.

I do have one small complaint in the components. The cards are fine. The tokens are adequate, not great but not bad. However the board is too small. The character tokens are about the size of a nickle, but even at that size the board gets crowded when more than one character is in the same location. The small scale makes it difficult if you want to swap the tokens for figures. The board also feels too light and I wish they’d used a heavier stock.

High Noon Saloon plays fast and fun. Slightly more crunchy than Castle Panic, it’s still quick to learn and easy to play. It’s a delightful game and I am very happy to finally have a copy.

Greater Than Games: Big news from Greater Than Games. Their recent unsuccessful Kickstarter has not slowed them down. Instead they just launched three pre-order campaigns for their superhero games. Villains of the Multiverse is the latest expansion for their amazingly fun cooperative superhero game, Sentinels of the Multiverse. The expansion will pit the players against an all new villain team, using the same team mechanics in the earlier Vengeance expansion.

The other two pre-orders are for expansions to Sentinel Tactics, their superhero miniatures game. Sentinel Tactics: Battle for Broken City can be played either as an expansion or a stand-alone game. Sentinel Tactics: For Profit is an expansion usable with either Battle for Broken City or the original Flame of Freedom game.

 

The Wraith(1)

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Gaming, Reviews

 

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Sentinels of the iPad

They have shut up and taken my money.

I now have the Sentinels of the Multiverse app for my iPad and it is excellent. I don’t have a lot of experience with board-to-iPad conversions for games, but I have a great deal of experience with Sentinels of the Multiverse, and this conversion feels great.

The graphics are straight from the game, the music is good without being obtrusive and the sound effects are nice. The interface does a good job of keeping track of everything that happens in a Sentinels game and thankfully they made sure you can double tap cards at just about any time to review them. This is particularly handy because some cards put into play vanish from the screen a little too fast to read, so being able to review them is essential. One particularly clever addition is that with each phase of the game it reconfigures the screen by “turning the page” giving it even more of a comic book feel. Another nice touch is that the pictures of the heroes and villains show increasing amounts of battle damage as the game progresses.

Currently the game encompasses all the heroes, villains, and environments of the base game. The app also has an impressive encyclopedia of the characters which includes the ability to look at all the cards in their deck. Given the wide range of powers the heroes and villains have in Sentinels it’s impressive how well the application handles everything. It also has a randomizer allowing a mix-and-match of villains, heroes, and environments. Although for someone not familiar with the game this may provide unexpectedly difficult or exceptionally easy battles. For example, three heroes matched against Citizen Dawn have little hope, while six heroes vs Baron Blade will be overkill. However the randomizer isn’t locked in and you can modify the results before launching the game.

No word yet on if they will expand the game to include the expansion sets, though I would be surprised if we don’t see them coming down the pipe.

If you are a fan of Sentinels of the Multiverse and have either an iPad or Android tablet I can’t recommend the game highly enough. The only thing I can’t vouch for is how accessible the game is for people who aren’t already familiar with the card game. There is a tutorial and Sentinels isn’t a very complex game, but there are some nuances that are easier to understand when looking at a real manual. Someone new to the game will have a harder time picking up what is going on even with the tutorial.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more justice to dish out!

Or rather I will have justice to dish out, once my battery recharges.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Computer Games, Gaming

 

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Sentinels of the Multiverse – The Video Game

Ahem….

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!!

I’m not a Sentinels’ addict. I can quit any time I want to.

I just don’t want to.

 

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Computer Games, Cool Stuff, Gaming

 

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After Action Report

And lo, it was indeed a good weekend for gaming.

We ended up with around 30 people at the house on Saturday, some coming from a good distance and one in particular making an insanely long trek to surprise me. Many games were played and good times were had by all.

I finally got the chance to play King of Tokyo, which has been on my “to play” list for quite some time. The game is simple and elegant, relying on a dice rolling mechanic to get victory points, heal, do damage to other monsters, and collect energy cubes for buying special powers. My friend’s youngest daughter taught us how to play and it was a lot of fun. It plays fast, is good for all ages, and it’s about giant monsters stomping around Tokyo. What’s not to like?

I hear the expansion set adds more variety to the kaiju, so I’m putting both the base game and the expansion on my list to acquire.

I was also in on one of several games of Pandemic. This is the first time I’ve played with a full five players and we did quite well, getting within a single player’s action of winning the game. Unfortunately we ran out of cards immediately before the cures could be created, meaning the game ended and the world became a wasteland of plague and death.

Sentinels Tactics did not reach the table after all! So many other games were going that the heroes of the Multiverse will have to wait for another day. Though it won’t be too long, I’m sure.

Car Wars was a big hit. The city-scape and Matchbox cars made a big impression on the group and we ran two autoduels of five Division 10 cars. I used 5th Edition rules, which play fast and are easy to teach. Almost none of the drivers had played any edition of Car Wars before and it took little time to get them up to speed and smashing cars. I refereed the first game and played in the second, where I died quickly and in a blaze of glory immediately after obliterating another car. Photos are on the way.

I saw several other games hitting tables too and late in the evening a Euker game broke out. Then at 8:00 we took a Dr. Who break to watch the season premier. I think I’m going to like the new Doctor quite a bit.

Our game Grisleigh End was also played, to good reception. On Sunday we did a demo of the game for a local steampunk group, running two tables with five players each. The game was again well received and we had good feedback. We have some more rules that will need to be adjusted and hopefully we’ll have a revised edition hammered out soon.

It was an excellent weekend. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday (slightly late) than having a house full of friends throwing dice and having a good time.

D20

The weekend was a crit success!

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Gaming, Uncategorized

 

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Table Games

It’s looking to be a good week for tabletop gaming.

Last night we had a family game of Zombies!!!. We have several expansions for the game, so we use the optional rule of shuffling the helipad into the deck instead of putting it on the bottom. When it came up in round two it looked like we were about to have the shortest game of Zombies!!! ever. This was unsatisfying, so after a unanimous decision we shuffled the helipad back into the deck.

Play proceeded from there and the city grew, but options for new tiles dwindled. We had only one non-(un)dead end left when salvation! We found the gates to the military base! This gave us hope that we wouldn’t end up locked in a closed off city trying to kill all the zombies. Unfortunately the military base also ended up closed off without a helipad showing up. This is the first time I’ve played Zombies!!! where no escape from the city appeared.

Apparently karma was upset for us throwing away our earlier rescue.

Another unanimous decision later and the last military base tile was replaced with the helipad. Also, as it was a school night and the game was going long, we decided to eschew competition and turned it into a co-op game, working together to reach the helicopter. This turned out to be quite fun and the twist breathed fresh energy into my kids. It also avoided a sibling rivalry that had been brewing between them, making it a win on multiple fronts.

Tomorrow I’m having a number of friends over for a big gaming day. I don’t get to do this very often, so sometime around my birthday I like to blow it out and get a whole bunch of people over to sling dice, cards, and whatever else we can get to the tables. There are three games in particular that I’m looking forward to. The first is Grisleigh End, this is the board game I’ve been helping develop with friends and will hopefully see production. As you can imagine I’m rather fond of it and looking forward to showing it to my friends.

The second is Car Wars. I’ve got things prepped to run a game using Matchbox cars and a 3D city layout, which I’ve always wanted to do. There will be pictures.

The third is Sentinels Tactics, the miniatures game from the Sentinels of the Multiverse line. I expected to receive it in December, but it shipped early so I guess I’ll just have to play it early.

Oh darn. However will I endure?

Then Sunday we’re going to demo Grisleigh End for a local Steampunk society, which should be a heck of a lot of fun.

Game on!

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Gaming

 

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Sentinels Tactics Has Arrived!

Joy!

Yesterday I came home to a big box from Greater Than Games. My Sentinels Tactics set has arrived!

Wait, let me back up a little.

Sentinels Tactics: The Flame of Freedom and all my add-ons is in my hands four months early!

I don’t know what dark magic Greater Than Games has that lets them nail every Kickstarter project but I’ll donate a pint of blood to it in thanks.

Sentinels Tactics is the new tactical combat game based in the Sentinels of the Multiverse universe. Unlike the card game, where the players work cooperatively to defeat a super villain, Tactics pits the players against each other in comic book battles. This is the project I blew all my discretionary gaming money on so I could fund it at the $100 level, and boy was it worth it. I got the core game, the Uprising expansion, two boxes of miniatures, a deck of additional cards, and a fun art print of the Sentinels characters.

I’d hoped to be playing it for Christmas. Now it shows up right before I celebrate my birthday by having a bunch of friends over for a day of board gaming.

I can’t say enough good things about Greater Than Games. They put out high quality products, well designed, with good components, and great customer service. They have nailed the superhero genre in ways no other non-rpg tabletop game has. In my opinion better than Heroclix from the, “makes you feel like a superhero,” standpoint.

I can’t wait to get this game to the table.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Gaming

 

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Gaming!

Despite a crazily busy weekend, I managed to get into some gaming.

First, my son wanted to take another crack at Sentinels of the Multiverse and this time my daughter joined us. My son has fallen in love with Ra, I use Haka, and my daughter picked Wraith, who she took to with great glee. The three heroes faced off against the nefarious La Capitain and her time pirates, who sought to plunder the Tomb of Anubis. The heroes took a good beating, but triumphed before any of their number fell.

My daughter loved Wraith’s combat stance power, that lets her do damage to a target that damages her. She decided that the power let her punch the villains in the face and proudly announced, “I have anger issues,” while occasionally growling. I am such a proud geek dad, though I wonder if there will be any “stories” from the playground from this. I can imagine her leaping from the monkey bars shouting that as her battle cry.

Our normal Sunday night G+ game was broken up due to people’s holiday schedules, but I got in a small G+ game on Monday night. We decided to kick the tires on Stars Without Number, which I’ll be running when we resume our normal session. This is the first time I’ve run the game and the first time my players have had a crack at it and I’m pleased to say that everything went well. I had two players and they each created two characters in a little over 20 minutes, not bad for a first time.

I based the adventure on Dungeon from a Distant Star, a great one-page dungeon that’s free to download. I’ve been wanting to give it a try for quite a while and this was the perfect opportunity. As things turned out we got a good look at how Stars Without Number worked and had fun doing it. The party explored a good chunk of the crashed spaceship, got into one fight, and made plenty of skill rolls. Through good fortune they avoided most of the more dangerous encounters and got to play with several alien artifacts. In the end one character was both seriously wounded and suffering mental trauma from one of the alien devices, but at least he survived.

I am definitely looking forward to running the game. It plays fast and easy, and while combat is lethal it does offer ways to mitigate the risk for groups that play smart.

If you’re not familiar with the game system, you should be. Stars Without Number is one of the crown jewels of the OSR movement. It’s a science fiction game based on original Dungeons & Dragons mechanics, but it offers more than that. It also offers a fantastic toolkit for building space sectors, worlds, cultures, adventures, and alien species. The tools are system agnostic, which makes the whole package even more useful.

And you can get the core rules for free. Not a stripped down starter version, not even a complete version without artwork. The whole game book is available as a free download. There is a paid copy of the core book that adds a few chapters on robots and mecha, which I own in print and PDF format, but those are extras.

Stars Without Number can be downloaded here. Be warned, once you read it you may find yourself collecting everything Sine Nomine Publishing puts out.

An affliction I enjoy greatly.

The Wraith(1)

 

“I HAVE ANGER ISSUES!”

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Gaming, Science Fiction

 

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Good Weekend for Gaming

It was a nice weekend for gaming.

Saturday my son was in the mood to play some games, so I convinced him to try Sentinels of the Multiverse. He can be picky about trying new games and in the past he’s been reluctant to try this one, but this time he was intrigued. So we whipped out the cards and went to work. He played The Wraith and the might Ra while I ran Legacy and Omnitron X, and we engaged the nefarious Baron Blade in combat. The Baron put up a good fight, but in the end our heroes triumphed over evil. My son loved the game!

I’m a big fan of Sentinels of the Multiverse and I’m delighted that my son has taken to it. Plus the next time we visit Dad in a Cape, we can play with him and his girls, who are all big fans of the game. Five player Sentinels for the win!

After our superhero antics my son wanted to play Nuclear War and my daughter decided to join us. Another first! She is also rather picky about games and had been uninterested in this one, but this time she gave it a try. It was the first time she’d played and she did quite well, dropping bombs with glee from her Orbital Space Platform. In the end there was a wonderful chain reaction of final strikes, leading to everyone being vaporized in atomic fire.

On Sunday we squeezed in our weekly G+ Hangout game, though it was abbreviated due to Mother’s Day activities. Still, it was a welcome does of gaming, as my face-to-face group hasn’t met in over a month. The current game is Call of Cthulhu, based initially in 1985’s Miami, Florida. Our characters are now lost in the Dreamlands. Having escaped the doomed city of Sarnath we’ve learned that we may actually be natives of the Dreamlands who were sent to Earth for protection. We may be the only remaining members of three royal houses.

Initially our goal was to get back to Earth, though my character is now considering staying in the Dreamlands and being royalty. However at the end of last night’s session we followed an Ultharian cat through a portal into the realm of Bast. Are we still in the Dreamlands? Are we about to be made into squeaky toys for a cat goddess?

That remains to be seen.

The Wraith(1)

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Gaming

 

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New Sentinels of the Multiverse Game!

The Multiverse expands once again as Greater Than Games brings us their latest Kickstarter project, Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom!

Greater Than Games is the company behind the Sentinels of the Multiverse co-operative card game of superhero action. Sentinels is a fantastic game, by far the best tabletop superhero game I’ve ever played, and worthy of its own review (next week, I’ll get to it next week). The quick summary is that each player gets a hero who has their own deck of powers and actions. You select a villain and an environment, each of which also have decks, and engage in fast-and-furious superheroics. The game world has also developed its own story with each expansion evolving the heroes, adding new characters, and revealing a bit more of the Sentinels lore. The characters and their story add to the draw of an already engaging game.

If you are a fan of the superhero genre you owe it to yourself to check this game out. Be warned, once you try it you will be compelled to buy all the expansions, but it’s okay because they’re all awesome.

Now the folks at Greater Than Games are taking the Sentinels line in a new direction. Sentinel Tactics takes the heroes and villains from the card game and puts them into a hex-grid battle game with maps you construct and finely sculpted miniatures to play with. Another departure from the established Sentinels gaming style is that players face off against each other, letting players take on the role of villains as well as heroes.

“Out of the box, the game is balanced for teams comprising any heroes and/or villains in head-to-head skirmish combat. Additionally, Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom includes a scenario book which tells the comic book stories and lets you play out the heroes’ battles with the dastardly villains! In these scenarios, the villain player has access to additional scenario powers, rules, and minions that allow them to take on an entire team of heroes!”

The sculpts for the the miniatures look excellent and I cannot stress enough how much I love that it’s not a collectible game. Expansions are fine, collectible games are… iffy. Blind buy collectible games are horrible abominations that have no business on my gaming table. Even a game that seems tailor-made for me will not see a penny from my pocket if they use a blind buy model.

I’m looking at you Monsterpocalypse. Don’t give me those sad kaiju eyes, I will not buy you.

Greater Than Games also has a stellar track record with Kickstarters, a rare and valuable thing in the gaming industry, and it shows in the support they are receiving from their fans. Three days into the game and they’re already 2 1/2 times over their funding goal.

I love Sentinels of the Multiverse. I love light hex-grid combat games. Bringing the two together guarantees that I’m in for the long haul.

The only question left is what level I’m buying in at.

SotM

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Books and Comics, Gaming

 

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