Friday, September 15, 2017

Tank on Tank

My experiment with One Deck Dungeon has impressed upon me the value of commercial games where all you need is contained in the package. Last weekend, as I waited for Hurricane Irma to hit, I spent some time searching online for a simple, small, board wargame that I could pull out when I don't feel like dealing with miniatures. Eventually, I stumbled on Tank on Tank by Lock n' Load Publishing. I remembered that the Battlefields and Warriors blog did a very thorough review, which had piqued my interest, When I noticed they had a digital version, I decided to give it a try.

I picked up the Westfront module. 

I played the first scenario (Overrun) a few times. The starting positions are shown below:

In this scenario, German Panthers and Tigers are trying to overrun an American held position. I played the Americans in my first attempt. Not really understanding the objectives or how to play the game, I proceeded to lose my entire force. Imagine my surprise when the game said that I won. The Germans (the computer) never managed to secure the 2 objective points before the end of the game (7 turns for this scenario).

I then tried as the Germans and got slammed. I tried a couple more time before Hurricane Irma knocked out my power. As I played, I began to pick up the rules and tactics of this game. Now that I have power, I tried again and finally won! On to the next scenario!

I really enjoy this game, even though I am not particularly interested in World War II. It is simple, quick, and yet requires tactical planning. I think this will be a wonderful filler for when I want to play a game without setting anything up. I am even tempted to get a physical copy!

If you have an interest in quick and simple WWII games, I recommend you read through the Battlefields and Warriors review I mentioned earlier. If you like what you read, order a copy!

Friday, September 8, 2017

One Deck Dungeon - My Thoughts

Previously, I described the basic mechanics of Asmadi's solo/cooperative dungeon crawl game, One Deck Dungeon. So what did I think of it?

Throughout play, I kept comparing it to a favorite game of mine - Four Against Darkness, Obviously, both are solo-able dungeon crawl games so they have their similarities. However, there are some distinct differences. Let's go over them.

In some ways, I like One Deck Dungeon better:

  • Physical components - ODD is a boxed game, complete with cards, dice, tokens, etc. so it naturally wins on the components front. Furthermore, those components assist with the next point.
  • Ease of play - ODD is a bit more abstract than 4AD, which makes the game a bit simpler. For example, there is no mapping of the dungeon. The encounter cards really make things easy; you just flip over a card to search a room - no rolling on multiple charts.
In other ways, I prefer Four Against Darkness:
  • More flexible - It is very easy to modify the charts in 4AD (and even to create your own new monsters). This allowed creation of distinctive adventures. I can't envision doing that with ODD because it seems that the game is highly dependent on the card mix. There is an expansion that can add variety to ODD but it is still less flexible than 4AD.
  • Less randomness - Actually, both games have a large degree of randomness. This makes dungeons seem like an illogical hodgepodge of encounters. I mitigated this in 4AD by customizing dungeons based on a specific theme. As I noted in my previous point, ODD seems less flexible in this respect, therefore I expect it will feel more random.
  • More character - Both games offer archetypal character classes with opportunities to improve. However, adding skill in ODD is done per dungeon.When you start a new dungeon you pretty much start back at square one (there is a campaign mode that allows you to gain some permanent skills, but you still lose the cards you acquired in previous sessions). As a result, 4AD provides a better sense of character development. I have provided lengthy accounts of my 4AD characters' adventures. I just cannot imagine doing that with ODD.
Overall, I like both games and expect that they will serve different purposes. ODD is great if I want a quick game without much effort or prep. 4AD will serve when I want a bit more immersive solo RPG experience. My verdict is to get both!

Invasion Irma

Last year, Hurricane Matthew turned out to be a dud for us. It turned northward before it reached us, skirting the coast. We got some rain but that's about it.

Hurricane Irma is looking like a different kettle of fish altogether. It is already pretty much wiped out Barbuda. According to the latest forecast, it is heading right for me.

Right now is the proverbial calm before the storm. I'll be hunkering down throughout the weekend and praying that we make it safely through.

Monday, September 4, 2017

One Deck Dungeon - Overview

Last week I mentioned that I picked up a couple of quick play dungeon crawl games. My wife and I played both of them over the weekend and enjoyed both of them. This morning I played another run-through of One Deck Dungeon by Asmadi Games.

One Deck Dungeon (ODD) is a dungeon crawl game for 1 to 2 players. It uses cards to build the dungeon and dice (lots of dice) to adjudicate encounters.

Below is a photo of the play area. There is a deck of cards with encounters listed on them. As your character explores the dungeon, the rooms are revealed (a maximum of 4 is laid out at any one time).

Here is a hero card. One can play as a warrior, mage, paladin, rogue, or archer. The icons on the left represent attributes and items. For example, the warrior starts with 3 strength, 1 agility, and 4 health. Strength, agility, and magic (none for the warrior) translate to dice that are rolled to overcome encounters. Health works like standard hit points; don't fall to 0!

 Here is a combat encounter card. To defeat the goblin swarm, the player rolls their dice pool (which can also include black "heroic" dice that act as wild cards) and tries to fill in the boxes on the encounter card. Boxes are color coded - yellow requires strength; pink = agility, and blue = magic. The numbers represent what needs to be rolled. For example, to fill the bottom right box requires a roll of 5 on a strength die.

Once the dice are rolled, allocate them to the boxes (note that you can use multiple dice to fill in the larger, rectangular boxes). In this case, I failed to fill a pink box, thus I must take damage (red heart icon) and lose time (yellow hourglass).

So that's the basic mechanic - roll dice and cover boxes. I kind of think of it as yahtzee, in a dungeon. Hey, that's not a bad thing - I like yahtzee. If you are looking for a more traditional dungeon crawl (roll dice to hit, record damage, rinse and repeat), this isn't it. Nevertheless, the core mechanic allows you to breeze through encounters very quickly. ODD also requires a lot of decisions, which makes the game interesting. Decisions include:

  • How to allocate dice during combat
  • Whether to enter or flee a room
  • What kind of loot to take (there are multiple options per encounter - more on that in a moment)

There are different dungeons, each with a unique main boss. I played the Dragon's Cave. Depending on the dungeon and floor, you'll have additional boxes you need to fill. For example, on the first floor of the Dragon's Cave, you need an additional 3 strength per combat encounter (you also need to fill the yellow box)

You don't need to cover all the boxes to succeed in an encounter; you just need to survive. If you do, you keep the encounter card as loot. There are 3 possible types of loot (you can choose). The icons on the left represent additional items that boost your abilities. For example, you can use the goblin card to boost strength by 1 die. The bottom box represents either a skill (shown) or a potion that provides beneficial effects. Finally, you can apply the encounter to experience (icons on top). Gain enough experience to level up, which allows you to apply more items or skills to your character.

Here is the warrior with an additional item (left) and skill (bottom). Your loot is kept under the character card, with the relevant info peeking out.

(Note: You may notice that the warrior in this photo has more dice than the picture above. That's because I started my solo game using the 2-player side. The 1-player side gives you more dice)

There are also perils (e.g. traps). You will always have 2 options to deal with the peril. For example, you can use strength to climb around the pit of spikes or use agility to jump it. I used strength, and boy did I roll poorly!

Once you get through the floors of the dungeon, you come to the main boss. Here is the dragon!

Boss battles proceed over multiple rounds. Fill in the boxes with the skull icon to inflict damage on the boss. But first you must get past its defenses (fill in the boxes with the green shields). If you inflict damage equal to the number in the bottom box (6 for the dragon) then you kill the boss and complete the dungeon!

So that's an overview of how to play ODD. For more info, I recommend checking out some of the walk-throughs on YouTube.

What are my thoughts on this game? I'm going to do another post with my thoughts.

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Update

Nada, zip, zilch, nothing. That's what happened in August.

Six by Six Challenge
Last month I predicted my pace would slacken and I was right about that. I had hoped to get one game in, but I never managed it.

Nevertheless, I have completed 27 games, an average of 3.375 a month. Still on pace.

What Happened?
There are a few reasons why I believe my productivity crashed.

  1. The August Swoon - I'm not sure why, but August tends to be a slow month for my gaming. Over the years, I average 5 posts a month in August compared to 8 posts a month overall. Still not sure why August tends to be slow.
  2. Burnout - I have been on a (for me) torrid gaming pace this year. I probably average 1-2 games  a month in a typical year compared to over 3 this year. That pace was a result of the 6 x 6 challenge, which was the point of the challenge. The drawback is that I began to feel burned out, that I had to perform. I just tired of it.
  3. Real Life - lots of things going on this month, from a sick cat (the Buster saga is continuing) to work, church, etc. I just have not felt up to much gaming on the weekend.
  4. LARP Life - I also mentioned last month that I started a project to launch a new LARP kingdom. This project has been diverting a lot of my energy.

Prospects for Next Month

  • Once again, I hope to complete at least one miniature game during the month.
  • I am excited about a couple of games that I recently ordered. My wife and I have been feeling tired with many of our games. Too often they require a bit of set-up, which discourages us from playing. We've been moving towards games that can be set up and played quickly. We recently found a couple that seem to fit the bill.
    • Welcome to the Dungeon - We saw this game on Tabletop and my wife was interested. It is a bluffing / push-your-luck card game of dungeon crawling. Players take turns adding monsters to the dungeon or taking items away from the hero. A player may drop out of the round. The last player left in the round then takes on the role of hero and tries to make it through the dungeon. If the player succeeds then he/she gets a treasure. Get 2 treasures and win! When we watched the Tabletop episode, we expected it would be a 3+ player game. When I saw that it can accommodate 2 players I immediately ordered it.
    • One Deck Dungeon - Another dungeon crawl game. This can be played by 1 player or 2 players co-op style. It is essentially a dice-rolling game.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cat City in Carcassonne

Tonight my wife and I played a quick game of Carcassonne.

I started out quickly, completing a bunch of small cities. Meanwhile, my wife was working on a large, meandering metropolis. As a result, I built up a nice 30 point lead. Elizabeth was at the point of conceding, feeling that she could never complete the city.

Well, she managed to finish it. My 30 point lead turned into a 6 point deficit.

She called it Cat City because she said it looked like a cat.
Elizabeth's "Cat City" (circled)
We then were in a neck-to-neck race for the rest of the game. However, I had one more farmer than her and racked up 12 points from him to pull out the victory.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Update

Six by Six
Thanks to the long Independence Day weekend, I got a good start to the month, so I was able to get in 5 games! I have now completed 27 games (average of 3.75 a month).

Here is a list of the games played during the month:
I suspect that my pace is going to slacken because I am so close and won't feel pressure to play. I doubt that I will finish DC Rivals (my wife lost interest in the game) but expect to finish the others.

The Generic Army Project
For my initial Slipstream ground battles, I used 2mm and 3mm ancient figures. I noticed that I could not tell what they were. At normal game ranges their weapons are nigh on invisible;  I can only see their formation and primary colors (shields are even hard to see). This led to a revelation. the actual figure is not discernible therefore a figure can stand in for any period. In other words, I only really need 2 generic armies to cover all of history and beyond.

To this end, I started working on 2 generic armies (red vs. white although I am tempted to add a third blue army). Each army will consist of 4 units each of heavy infantry, light infantry, and cavalry supplemented with some elite infantry, artillery, and perhaps some war machines (tanks or whatever).

In the past, I've tried to distinguish unit types based on strip type or supplemental colors (e.g. shield color). This doesn't always work at the micro-scales, For the generic project I plan to differentiate based on formation, perhaps supplemented by flag colors.

I started this project but stalled because of . . .

A New LARP Kingdom
I am a devoted LARPer (live action roleplayer) but often find myself dissatisfied with the state of LARPing. It's not so much the local group as it is dealing with national organizations that dictate rules to the local groups. I would prefer local autonomy so that my realm (local group) can develop its own customs, especially with regards to knighthoods. Well, I recently discovered a cure for my frustrations. The High Fantasy Society, a national organization based in Texas, actually allows each local group to rule itself. I am in the process of creating a chapter of the HFS in South Florida; this involves a lot of organization in its own right (writing bylaws, creating a rank structure, developing heraldry, scheduling practices, recruiting, etc.)