Hi Internet! If you are not aware I’ve started a Patreon to help support my Gaming Addiction. While it’s true I have a successfull day job, my gaming addiction tends to spend a bit more then my wife allows me to budget for bullshit gaming stuff. I have alot of kickstarters that I’m currently supporting as well as a a bunch of video and board games I want to buy,
I’m currently supporting the Tsuro Pheonix Rising Kick StarteR: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/781219801/tsuro-phoenix-rising. This is a game based on the board/tile game Tsuro which U;ve blogged about before but in a sci fi setting (which you know i love). I played Tsuro and its a ton of fun. Little Gamer at age 8 was also able to play with us so it’s a good game for kids. Something they can pick up and enjoy relatively easily!
I’m also waiting on delivery on a a few Kickstarters:
1: The Crusader Kings Board Game:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1192053011/crusader-kings-the-board-game-lead-your-dynasty-to Look. I have like 400+ hours invested in the Crusader Kings video game. If you are lucky you might catch me streaming some of that on twitch. It’s one of my favorite video games.
2: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/awakenrealms/tainted-grail-the-fall-of-avalon Tainted grail, something something something. Looks like King Arthur Gloomhaven. No other words needed
3: Trogdor the board game: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1999933720/trogdor-the-board-game
Do I really even need to explain myself here? My personal domain name is trogdor.us. I love me some trogdor. He is the burninator.
Ok. So those are the top three kickstarters I’m doing. So I need your patreon support so i can blog about those. Makes sense right? Get it.
Hello Friends and welcome to another year of sucky gaming with your GM Dan Bogart.
Today I’d like to talk about Lords of Waterdeep. One of my favorite games. We have talked about it before briefly but we’ll start from the beginning here for you.
Lords of Waterdeep is a traditional strategy worker placement board game that I’d consider one of the most prominent of this new Golden Age of board games. Inspiried by the wave of german worker placement games, and set in the wonder Forgotten Realms world of Faerun, Dungeon and Dragons primary campaign setting for the past 20+ years, Lords of Waterdeep expanded upon the grand tradition of D&D based board Games.
Designed by Rodney Thompson, who’s work on Star Wars and Dusk City Outlaws I’m a huge fan of, has you completing quests with a variety of adventurers you collect in your tavern as a secret Lord of the Waterdeep council. The more quests you complete the more victory points you accumulate. Whomever has the most points after 6 rounds wins the game.
Pretty straightforward mechanics to this one. Gameplay should be relatively quick as well as you take a turn placing one of your agents (workers!) at various locations around the city of Waterdeep to collect adventurers (represented by wooden cubes of different colors), build new locations, collect monies, or utilize Intrigue cards to make neat things happen.
I say “SHOULD be relatively quick” since in reality I’ve been in many games where the game play can really slog down if players are not paying attention or not ready to place their agents. We’ve played some games that take 2.5 hours, which is a LONG time to be playing a board game.
One of the neat mechanics of the game is that at times the actions you may take, or the Intrigue cards you play make effect your opponents. This isn’t the kind of game where you are playing inside a bubble taking your moves while your opponents are in their own bubble taking their own moves and you compare scores at the end. This is a game where you play AGAINST other players. it’s competitive. And you are trying to win the game.
Alas and this is where my tale begins.
Twas the great Holiday Trek of Two Thousand and Eighteen for my family. We had journeyed far and wide this great festival season, visiting the shores of Delaware for time with my progenitors, as well as our previous land of residence to take in the Yule eve festivities. We partook of many libations and sumptuous repast. Following the Commemoration of the Nativity of Jesus, we then departed the lands of Delaware, and crossed the great Chesapeake Bay as well as the Potomac River, to finally arrive in Herndon Virginia.
We always love visiting Virginia during the holidays as it provides us an opportunity to play board games with my wife’s family. My family isn’t really that into board games, which is ironic as my love for board games began with family game nights we used to have.
We did play one game with my parents. A game we had gotten for my daughter and son.
We did play one game with my parents. A game we had gotten for my daughter and son. It’s a silly game called Dont Step In It! Unicorn Edition. I probably should include it on a game blog as it’s barely a game. But the loved it and i got a picture of my mom with a blindfold on! Win Win. Definitely a fun game to play with a 3 Year old. Or a bunch of grandparents on Christmas Morning! Its as bad as it sounds though.
In Virginia we played a number of games this trip. Tsuro of the Seas was the first. It’s a neat game of path finding that involves actively trying to eliminate your opponent by forcing them to take a path off the edge of the board. It’s pretty neat. I had played this once before at the beach with my friend Evil Steve. My cousin big C (thats his beard in the photo below) had found the game at his college’s gaming group and brought it home to share with his family. Glad I got to enjoy it again with them too!
Penny the little gamer even got in on the action. It’s simple mechanics that are easy to pick up but a lot of fun. Penny didnt have any issues with it and even had the strategy down by the end. I chose the red ship of course. Go Phillies. Pretty sure I won this one, but who keeps count. (hint i do).
We also played a few rounds of Codenames Pictures which I always love. The “Pictures” version is a nice change of pace, and throws in the added difficulty of trying to decipher the images on the cards. I like it as it give the kids the opportunity to play, even if they are not as great at reading or understanding all the words.
During Codenames I started seeing some of the warning signs for what was to come. The two brothers in the family were ultra competitive during Codenames, and I was worried the table was about to be flipped. And this with them both on the same team! Seems competitiveness runs high in this family and they can get a smidge worked up when playing a game. But I mean, who dosent right? As Herm says:
To wrap up the evening we played a nice family oriented game of Apples to Apples. This one was a slightly different variant that included the “Sour Apple” to the game, which adds in some complexity by doing silly things like making you not able to talk. Its a fun game and we played with my wife’s parents. So when I got the “Beaver” card i had to discard that as quickly as possible. It turns out that playing
So the next day before we left we got to play a few more games. The family wanted to play Lords of Waterdeep, as it’s one of their favorites. It’s one of my favorites too! I had introduced the family to it a few years before, and got them a copy of the game for a Holiday or a Birthday I think. I was happy to know they had played it a lot and really enjoyed it. They were all also very good at the game. I’ll say that now before I get to my arguments against our game session. Very smart people. Very good at board games. And I love them.
So we break out the board and start setting up. I didn’t get red. This should have been a the second warning sign for me. But we continue with playing.
As I mentioned above, Lords of Waterdeep is pretty competitive. There are mechanics that specifically attack an opposing player’s tavern resources, money, or even gives them tasks (mandatory quests) they need to complete before they can compete other quests. Boardgame Geek calls it the “Take That” mechanic and it’s purpose is to cause trouble for other players.
If you’ve read one of my other posts about the Virginia Family you’d know that they tend to play games a bit more casual then I do, or even than they are intended. And thats fine. There is nothing wrong with playing games in a more casual manner with house rules to remove some of the components of the game. For some games it can make it easier for people less accustomed to cut throat player vs player style, and allow an entry point for those who dont have the same level of competitive streak. I also am certainly not someone who NEEDS to play very aggressive games. I cant stand online multiplayer games because of this. I’m not super competitive. I enjoy playing games to learn the mechanics. I dont NEED to win, regardless of how often i post that Herm Edwards gif. I like to win. I’ll try to win. But I’m not gonna spazz out if i dont. For me playing the game is more important.
However, (you’re probably saying “HERE IT COMES!”.. but bare with me.) If you are going to house rule your game, ya should let everyone playing know.
Thats one of the things I love about Role Playing Games in general. D&D, Scum and Villainy, Fate, Call of Cthulhu, etc. Part of the constant interaction and dialogue between the GM/DM/Keeper and the players builds a sense of shared ownership and control over the game and TYPE of game you are going to play.
So back to our little game of Lords of Waterdeep.
***Disclaimer*** I’m not pointing these items below out to poke fun at how they play, but more to look at just how changing a few rules can really change the type, tone and tenor of the game. ***/Disclamer***
First thing I notice when playing the game with them is that they play that you can resolve as many quests as you want on each Turn. This is clearly incorrect as the rules explictly state you can complete only one quest per turn. This is pretty game breaking of itself. If you could do that turn economy becomes less important. Why play any quests during the game then? Why not wait till the last turn and play them all.
Second, they don’t record the earned points immediately on the score tracker. This one is a bit of a bigger deal to me. The score tracker is used not just to track your points, but as a bit of a leaderboard for the game. If one opponent is taking the lead you might start targeting them with Intrigue cards with ill effects and Mandatory Quests to try and balance their lead out. The player who goes first in the game generally has a leg up from the very beginning that COULD be insurmountable. At that point it’s just a race to the Castle Waterdeep to get the first player token each turn.
Mandatory Quests as I mentioned before are one of the main ways you can try and slow down a run away leader. This is a quest you play on an opponent that they must complete before they can do any other quest cards. If your opponent is building up Fighters (the orange blocks), play a Magic quest that they need a wizard (the purple blocks) to complete. Then camp out on Blackstaff Tower to prevent them from getting that arcane associate! Unfortunately they had removed all of those from the game so that you couldn’t prevent someone from scoring that big completed quest. I didn’t know this until about 3 rounds in and was holding on to a card to eliminate mandatory quests and fishing the intrigue pile for one to play on the player who was leading.
Third big issue with scoring I came across playing with them was in Plot Quest Cards. Plot quest cards allow you to, once completed, have ongoing benefits that help you along in the game. Some of the guards grant you extra victory points when you complete quests after the plot quest is completed. So if you complete another Arcana quest after completing it, you get 2 more victory points.
They would only score those bonus points at the end of the game when counting up all their victory points and moving the scoring tracker. The problem here is that with that method, you could play this card absolutely last and record those bonus points for all the quests of that type you complete the whole game. That makes this card way too overpowered. This card is a beast if you complete it early and are able to focus on those quest types. Especially if combined with your lords ability.
While bringing up these rules discrepencies they repeatedly told me “You taught us how to play the game!”. And that may be true. This blog is called “Dan sucks at Gaming” because I’m generally terrible at it. However I’m pretty sure I played with those specific rules above correctly, as they are pretty big game breakers if they are played incorrectly.
I felt pretty bad about upending how they play the game. It obviously frustrated them a bunch as they kept slipping up with those rules after and losing track if they hard recorded points, or trying to play two quests. They just generally seemed grumpy about it.
But to me these are pretty fundamental changes to the game that really change how the game is played. I joked earlier about playing the game in a bubble with no cross interaction between players.. and thats not the point of this game.
I have played a lot of worker placement games, and blocking other players from placing their workers in an advantageous position is pretty critical. This is the main component to worker placement, besides the actual worker placement. This in and of itself is competitive. Why take the other mechanics of the game and water them down?
When discussing this with my in laws they mention that they prefer to play games in a less competitive fashion due to arguments that arose in game play. I can understand that, especially when watching brothers and sisters play the game togther. But knowing who is leading the game and being able to hamper them from a run away victory is pretty important is, as is playing defensively by blocking quests.
Their style of play was much faster then when I typically play this game and that was refreshing. I have dreaded playing Lords of Waterdeep and actively avoided due to some of the delays between turns. Granted that was with the 6 player game and the expansions, so perhaps going back to basics would be fun.
Overall as much complaining I am doing above it was a neat thought exercise to see how their changes of the game really alter strategies and the point of the overall game. Having played a lot of Lords of Waterdeep in the past it really changed how i approached some of the ingrained tactics of holding on to cards that neutralized Mandatory quests, or keeping an eye on who was in the lead to even who I was going to share a split loot card with.
Either way, I lost. So at least I keep up with my blog title. I hope they will play the game with me again!
Whenever I go to start a new campaign, I like to spend too much time looking at various campaign tracking and organization tools to decide how i want to lay everything out. Do i want to use something easy like evernote or google notes? Or should i use something more traditional like the wiki based Obsidian Portal? Should i dive into some of the fee based apps like Hero Lab, City of Brass, Realmworks Scabard? Or what about all the novel organizing and writing tools like Scrivener and Final Draft, those seem really cool. Plus I’ve always wanted to write a novel some day! Maybe something semi-autobiographical about my mythical life as a swashbuckling alpaca farmer / IT Manager.
When I was a kid I used to use trapper keepers or 3 ring binders. Sometimes folders and graph papers. This was in a time before time. A time before Ipads and smartphones and even laptops and PCs. During my parents big move back in April of 2018 I found a box full of all my old RPG stuff. I was so happy to find my old TMNT&OS, D&D and WEG Star Wars Books. As well as all my old campaign notes an folders!
Doing things in analog sure had it’s benefits. You only had to worry about paper and could organize things all you want! But lets be honest, PCs really revolutionized campaign preparation. Even using word and excel allowed you to organize things and track everything with so much more ease. I loved it and have used those tools a number of times.
In 2018 I decided I was going to run a campaign of Scum and Villainy in that fall for a bunch of my friends. See this old post for more about that system. I was hoping to start it once I wrapped up my Curse of Strahd D&D Game.. but that’s still running. So I geared up to run it around Thanksgiving or so. So I really wanted something to help show the interconnection of the different NPCs, Factions and PCs throughout the game. The first thing i realized was that there really are a ton of different systems out there.
Geek and Sundry did a great article on some of the tools you can use. I wont rehash it and just include the link: https://geekandsundry.com/find-your-ideal-rpg-campaign-organization-method/ . For this round of deliberation I spent a lot of time looking at various online demos and youtube videos, downloaded a demo or two, and signed up for about 4 different online services. I even stumbled upon a play by post site that is really cool and that I’m playing in a few games on . It’s called Rolegate. Check it out too!
One tool I’ve used in past is Obsidian Portal. This is a neat website that is in wiki format and uses collaborative editing. It allows the GM to build out pages and keep them separate or label them for different uses like PC or Locations. I’ve used this one extensively for a Dresden Files and D&D Campaign in the past. I also have their paid version for it that I barely ever use. Please don’t tell my wife.
I also looked at a new one called World Anvil, which was insanely in depth. It scared me away pretty quickly honestly when I went to create a “world” and came up with these options:
This was seriously a bit too intimidating. There were just a ton of options and each item had about 15 different fields to fill in. Yikes. I don’t know if i was ready for the level of commitment that this site asked of me. I have one marriage thank you very much. I think if I was building a world from scratch or writing a novel this would be a good option. But for something that I was hoping to use for a more in depth world building or writing a novel this would be a great tool. That being said I’ve come back to this slick website and all the neat features it has built in. Maybe once my kids start sleeping and I’m not tired all the time I’ll come back to it.
The Adventure Journal/Forums in Roll20 were also an intriging option. While it’s just a forum I considered using it to just document posts of information there. Most of the games I run I try and write up a session recap immediately after each session, or at least a few days later. However the features on the site were loacking and are really mostly the forum and an external journal of Characters and Handouts. Not organized enough to my tastes . So I ruled that out.
The more I looked at all these complex tools the more I just wanted something to take notes and be able to hyperlink those notes together. Something to make it easy and quick to write down info, look something up and edit it if necessary. This sounded like a note book so I shifted into looking at some of the note book tools that are out there.
So I fired up Onenote and started to take it for a test drive. And quickly ran into a problem. It was a similar problem to one I had in the past where I couldnt get it to synch my account across various devices, and I wasnt sure where it was saving my notes to. The cloud? My local PC? I tried fighting with it for a bit with using my google drive as a location for the data, but kept running into issues getting it to synch with my phone, my laptop and my pc. So frustrated I gave up. These things should just work!
So finally I was back to Evernote. I used Evernote for my Curse of Strahd campaign originally before, and still do, so I was familiar with it. I had used it for work prior to switching to OneNote. So I thought I’d give it a shot.
Overall I was very happy with Evernote. It was easy to use, simple and I could grab everything i needed in a given session very quickly. I did miss OneNotes organizational and free flowing.
I still wanted something to be able to present to players and have as a resource for others. So I went and setup an Obsidian Portal Page for it.
So the draw back here is that I need to do things in 3 places in order to: 1: Take my campaign building notes and where I do the rough draft, ouline and creation of my campaign. 2: Where I put the data for presentation to my players. That will still be Roll20. 3: Where I put the data for after play presentation. 4: (ok there is 4) I have a notebook I use to take written notes in during game play as i find typing to be distracting on my loud keyboard mid-session. Sigh.
So did i save myself work using these three tools? Definitely not. Now I have three places I need to keep update to date. I’m sure Info in one may not make it into the other two… Uggh. FML.
Well Either way this is what I came up with and will have to work with for now. I imagine I’ll stop updating the Obsidian Portal Page first lol.
What do you use for your campaigns? I’d love to hear! Maybe i should just go back to an old school Trapper Keeper or 3 Ring Binder.
I am heartbroken. Today my 11 year old puppy, Gus passed away. He had been battling thyroid cancer for the past few months. The tumor was constricting his throat so much he couldn’t breathe or eat or drink properly anymore.
Gus has been my best bud for the past decade. Tianna and I were blessed to have such a wonderful dog and were talking about all the big moments in our lives that he was there for. She mentioned being pregnant with the kids, and bringing them home. I mentioned him next to me watching the Phillies winning the World Series and the Eagles winning the Super Bowl.
Working from home he’s been my constant office companion every day of every week, always by my side following me from room to room. I’ll miss the spring and summer days working from the porch with him sitting on the couch beside me and when working in my office having to sit at an awkward angle because he’s sleeping under my desk.
He loved his Penny so much. I remember the day we brought her home and he was so interested in her and would just sit slightly away from her sniffing at her. He would always sit close to her and was her protector.
Gus Loved Will a ton too. Will would always love feeding him. Gus was older when he first met Will, so he wasn’t as active or playful with him, but he’d stand guard over Will just like with Pen:
I’m sure Gus will miss stealing their hot dogs out of their hands or their popcorn from the bowl when they turn around. I’ll for sure miss never having to clean food up off the floor.
I’ll miss our hikes in the woods, or our nights sitting by the fire.
I’ll miss his farts from under the game table during game nights, and his stinky breath in the car. I’ll miss his cuddles on the couch or how he always knew when i was sad and would be there for me to hug.
Living North of Wall I do not get a lot of opportunities to sit at the gaming table with my friends as much as I’d like. So outside of PC games and playing RPGs on Roll20 with my pals, i try to find table top board games that have a single player rules variants or can be played easily running multiple players.
A few games that I’ve picked up that have those options are things like Scythe, Dresden Files co-op card game, Pandemic, The Captain is Dead, Terraforming Mars, Agricola, and more. And finally Gloomhaven. One of the biggest sellers for me on Gloomhaven was that it had a single player variant that Tom Vasel @ Dice Tower even states is just as good if not better then the multiplayer normal game.
Normally I prefer playing board games as a social outlet. I’m a bit of a social butterfly and really enjoy sitting around a table with a group of friends. I’m still a bit hesitant on playing with rando’s due to some bad experiences playing at a local game group, so i shy away from game clubs and cons and gaming at stores. Part of it is probably also because I’m generally bad at games. Board, Video, card, sports etc. I’m just bad at them. I’m not skilled at playing games, I generally just enjoy playing them. Sometimes I get lucky and win, sometimes i just know the rules better, or have played a game more then some other people so I can eek out a win, but if I’m playing against someone who is of comparable experience to me in a game imma lose. I’m usually ok with that. As long as I’m having fun, getting the chance to take my turn regularly and doing stuff I’m ok with losing a game.
Some people may say I’m lying.. but between you and me we’ll just leave it at that.
But back to gaming with people I don’t know. It’s probably silly and I’d probably have a great time, but it just doesn’t feel right. I have my 3 or so group of friends i game with from time to time, and it feels weird playing with people outside of them! I guess you could call me a monogamist gamer?
Many of the games I’ve listed above handle Solo play in different methods. Some of them have you reduce the difficulty in a few ways to make a single player play through possible. I’ve seen games where you might remove some cards, or play a specific board for solo play. There there are some that have you just play the game the same way as with multiple people but playing the different seats or players on your own.
For Gloomhaven the single player rules outline a few specific changes for solo play, that really just line up with increasing the scenario difficulty. In the multiplayer game everyone has a deck of cards that detail the moves or powers that the PCs can perform on their turn. Part of the challenge in many multiple player games is not knowing what each player will specifically do on their turn. This is down by not showing the cards in your hand with the other players. This adds in a bit of difficulty, and as I mentioned in another post, prevents Alpha Gamers from taking control of the game directing everyone’s turns/actions. Games with this specific mechanic are Pandemic, Dresden Files Co-Op and Gloomhaven just to name a few. Being able to see all the cards for the other players or PCs in the game makes it a bit easier as you can coordinate effects and actions with ease. With this in mind Gloomhaven has you increase the game difficulty one level for single player to balance out the difficulty a bit.
I’ve played the first 3 adventures in the Gloomhaven campaign solo with some mixed results. I actually played the first adventure 3 times so i could see the difference in difficulties. My first attempt was with 3 characters at the normal difficulty level. I quit about half way through the first adventure on that one as i found running 3 characters a bit daunting and confusing. Granted this was probably my 5th time playing ever, so with a bit more experience it might be a little easier in the future.
My second attempt at playing Gloomhaven solo was with 2 characters. I made a mistake here and setup the first adventure as If i was playing with 4 players and with a level increase of +1 (for a total of Difficulty Level 5). I realized my mistake about halfway through but wanted to see how it played out. I died in 4 turns from the 2 elite Guards in the first room. Oops.
So my Third attempt I had 2 characters and played on level 3. This was a good balance, if maybe still a smidge too easy. But i played through that and the next two sessions without a huge problem. Was a lot of fun and I cant wait to play again.
I also spent some time last weekend organizing the pieces into a better organization system. I followed the directions here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1726878/yss-yet-another-storage-solution. It uses a few inexpensive Plano tackle boxes to organize all the small pieces, the monster standees, and the cards. Really makes it all alot easier to sort! I’ll get some pictures up in the artcile when I have a some time. I have to say I’ve been happy with the layout. I do miss the box container that it comes with as i really liked how it handled all the boxes and cards, but this system makes setup and breakdown a ton easier and less daunting to each play. Part of why i didn’t play the game more in the past was how intimidating getting everything out was before. I’m hoping it’ll be less of a chore in the future!
So thats the end of my post. Have you tried Gloomhaven single player? Let me know how it went!
Sorry it’s been awhile between boths, but such is life.
Lately I’ve been absorbed with a new RPG system that I’m dyring to run. It’s the Blades in the Dark system by John Harper and published by Evil Hat Games. Evil hat which has been mostly known for it’s Fate system games (Dresden, Spirt of the Century, etc) has branched out into a few different game systems lately. The best of which i think is the Forged in the Dark Systems.
Blades in the Dark is a game kind of based on Powered by the Apocalypse. Ice been really excited about the recently published sci fi hack of it called Scum and Villainy. I actually hate the name mostly because i can never spell Villainy right the first time. But overall the system is really cool.
It’s a d6 based system using narrative modifier that define your rolls effect and position. Its really pretty neat and super flexible.
I love the S&V setting the most. It’s very analogous to Star Wars and I almost with it was a free standing Star Wars hack, but its just different enough to avoid legal shit up in its business. My friend Todd says i should just run a Star Wars Fantasy flight Star Wars game, but the weird dice in the FFG really bother me for some reason. I got over the DCC weird dice thing, but the FFG weird dice thing still bugs me to no no end. If Todd were to run a FFG game, I’d still play., but probably complain about the dice.
When it comes to Blades vs S&V I’d probably choose S&V. while the faction system in Blades is really pretty awesome, I don’t really like the setting that much. It’s a weird mix of horror and steam punk Victorian England with a dash of Venice that I just don’t love. It’s interesting and I’d love to run a game in it, but I think if I were to choose a setting for a roguish fantasy setting it’d be more like what Dusk City Outlaws does. It’s very close tot he world built by Scott Lynch in The Lies of Locke Lamora books.
That being said the world is very interesting for Blades in the Dark. It’s a mashup of this post apocalypse fantasy Victorian Venice.
The game is super neat, and I’m prepping a campaign later this fall after I get through Curse of Strahd. Check out more on the games website!
For those of you not familiar, Burning Dan is an annual summer gaming event that takes place in Frostburg Maryland. It is invite only and really is just my family and few friends and their families, but we like to pretend it’s an exclusive Gaming Conference. Mostly it’s just an excuse to get together twice a year (the winter version is Dan Con) in Frostburg and play games and enjoy the company of good people. It started after I moved to Frostburg from Delaware and my friends were worried about me since i started counting the number of cars turning around in front of my house.
Now Burning Dan is a big event for me every year, so to celebrate this year I saved the unboxing and first play of the current #1 Game on Board Game Geeks Top board game list… Gloomhaven.
Now I had heard alot about Gloomhaven since it came out. We had made it a priority every year at Dancon/Burning Dan to play the previous #1 ranked game Pandemic Legacy the previous years, so when we saw that it was overthrown we were very interested in checking out Gloomhaven. There was only one problem. Okay, two actually.
$140 bucks for a board game! Woah! Thats a bit extreme! (I thought until actually opening the box. more on that to come)
Well thats an even bigger problem.
Gloomhaven was a kickstarter game that had a limited production run, during boths of it’s initial releases. This made finding the game on the primary market difficult.
You COULD find it on the secondary market (ebay, amazon resellers, etc.) but that led to even bigger problems!!
Up to 2 x the retail price on the secondary market!
So ultimately I went awhile before buying the game. In the meantime, I read everything i could about the game. I watched Tom Vasels Dice Tower review 3 or 4 times, and pined for it to be available again.
Finally a friend of mine notified me that the 3rd Production run of the game was about to happen and it SHOULD be available sometime in June. I asked my wife for it as a Fathers Day Gift and she relented. I placed my Pre-Order and waited.
It finally came in when I was out of town on vacation! I frantically called a friend in town and asked them to bring it in before it got ruined by rain or wild animals looking for a good board game to play. When I got back from the beach i saw this:
BUT I was scared to open it! so it sat on my table for the next few weeks, still in it’s shipping box, waiting for the right moment. Little did i know, my wife opened it while I was out of town… oh well. At least she didnt open the box itself!
Finally I had the nerve to unbox it during Burning Dan. We live streamed it on twitch for the world to see. I think we had 5 viewers. We then dove in and learned how to play.
Gloomhaven sure delivers. It’s like a GM less D&D campaign in a box. The rules are slick and easy to learn, as intimidating as they seem. The components are top rate and the miniatures are very detailed. Not an item exited the box that I wasn’t thrilled with. The monster and bad guy miniatures are card board figures, but that’s fine and not disappointing.
The mechanics are really neat and different. No Dice. “What?!” you are probably saying? I know right! Instead it uses a modifier deck for each character and bad guy to add some randomization. The action deck is really neat as well for the characters. Every character/class has a unique action deck of 2 actions they can take on each card. A Lot of variety there. It also adds a level of resource management that can be missed initially. when you are out of cards you are exhausted. Leading to some interesting dilemmas as you “Lose” cards from your discard through out the game until you are out of cards!I f all of the characters run out of cards, you lose the scenario. You need to use the cards to move, fight, etc. Do you spend a few previous resource cards to gather the loot from the dropped bad guys? Or do you just try and finish the scenario! These are tough decisions we learned about the hard way.
A few negative things about the game to bring some balance to this post, like balance to the force. One is the number of players. Only 4 players max, which makes it tough to play at Burning Dan since there is often 8 – 10 people playing board games. Luckily this year the wives wanted to nap, Shasta just wanted to watch, and we had a few people who didn’t attend, allowing us to play a 4 player game guilt free. The number of players keeps the game as a challenge instead of just having a bunch of PCs to throw at the dungeon. It also keeps the game moving quickly with little downtime. The game says scenarios should take 30 minutes per player, and the dungeons do ramp difficulty based on the number of players through adding in more monsters or increasing the level of the monsters or their status (standard or elite).
One other negative is it is possible for a player to be knocked out early. My character was brought down to 0 hps in the first round of the 2nd battle in the 2nd scenario (first game played on our second time playing). The sad part is it was maybe 15 – 20 minutes in to our second playing of the game. So I was “exhausted” and could not be revived. Even worse the women folk had all just gone into the hot tub, and i didn’t want to be a creepier and be the only guy in the hot tub. I tried to watch the Union/Onion Snakes play vs the Portland Timbers, but they were getting smoked… so i fell asleep on the couch instead.
Finally one of the really cool things about Gloomhaven is the scenario/legacy play. The game IS a legacy game. You place stickers on the board, rip cards up and write on the game board with a sharpie. As the designer of the game Isaac Childres says: ” You’re already writing on your board. Embrace it.”. Truth Bomb Issac. I loved the feel of the world evolving and changing around you as you play. Road and City events give the world a broader feel then just the adventures in the scenario book. And the random dungeon card adds alot of replay value outside of the scenarios.
Those negatives aside I think I have to agree with the hype. Gloomhaven might be the best board game I’ve ever played. It scratches all the right itches for a d&d esque game without a GM. Lets you have character advancement in table top fashion, something you can pull off the shelf and play quickly and rules that don’t confound or befuddle you 4 beers in.
So the game gets a 5 Beer Rating (out of 5 Beers) from me!
Speaking of which:
So Gloomhaven is a bit complex. And you CAN easily lose the scenario if you are not paying close attention to your cards and whats going on. Losing the scenario means you all lose! And it’s not fun to ruin everyone else’s fun because your cards are blurry from that 2nd DFH 120 Minute IPA.
So with that I’d have to say you need to stick to some low ABV drinks. Something like a Seaquench or a All Day IPA. Jake likes his PBRs and Fred his Natty Bo.
It has been almost 2 weeks since I’ve played a board game, and that makes me sad.
Now I’ve had some chances to play video games, mostly with my kids. We play alot of Super Mario Kart 8, Mario Party, and some Smash brothers. My son is obsessed with Mario and my daughter has a Wii U we play on.
We also have played some Red Ball on the ipad recently, and it’s a lot of fun too.
I have had the opportunity to play a few video games on my own when I’m not driving to Delaware or hanging out with the kids. Usually at like 1030pm after everyone is in bed, so I’m pretty tired at that point. But it’s what I’ve got.
Darkest Dungeon and Sunless Skies are the 2 I’ve played the most recently. I had a lot of optimism for Sunless Skies, as i love Fallen London, but the game is still in open beta, or early access or whatever they call it now adays on steam. The fragility of the ships in that game make me sad though, and I feel like i die way too much. Also i keep getting lost and find myself just playing a trader. I was hoping for more of an RPG with a rich story, but nothing yet. I’m not done with it yet though.
Darkest Dungeon is a fun one I get back to every now and then. It’s a quick pickup game that i can jump into without too much thought, although i always forget the optimal party combinations for the various runs and inevitably lose a valuable high leveled Vestal.
So the video games have been keeping me going, but I really truly miss playing table top games. I haven’t even played our d&d campaign in nearly a month, and I’m traveling again this week for work, so hopefully we can then.
BUT there is a shining light out on the horizon. A glimmer of hope and joy that I can ALMOST touch. This weekend is Burning Dan.
I’ve mentioned Burning Dan and Dan Con previously. These are the biannual events where friends from Delaware come out and we game and drink and carouse and just have a grand old time. I hope i can make it till then!
Every year my friends and I spend an extended weekend in Ocean City Maryland playing board games. We call it the “Bros Beach Trip”. I’ve gone for the past 2 years now, but the rest of them have been going for a few years longer. It’s a long drive for me to get to the beach from my mountain Chalet, and I inevitably hit traffic both going there and leaving, but it’s worth it to spend some time gaming with my closest friends from back in Delaware.
During this beach trip we play a lot of board games, eat tons of food, and drink lots of yummy beers.
we are all a bunch of nerds (as you can see from the above picture) so we even went out and made a spreadsheet to help us maximize our enjoyment!
During the selection process we eliminated games that couldnt play 5 people (since we had 5 people and didn’t want to leave anyone out) if we couldn’t play while drunk, and anything ranked over 2000 on the Boardgame Geek website Rank. Some games got past our validation by people constantly saying in chat “What game list?” and “Well I’m bringing X. We can play it or not.” Thats how Pat snuck Fury of Dracula in (2nd Edition). We ended up not playing it because the 3 hour play time scared us. Would still love to play that some day as it looks fun!
It’s not a traditional board game but more of a RPG game from Rodney Thompson, the designer of Lords of Waterdeep who’s also worked on Star Wars Saga Edition and D&D 5E.
The game is set in a fantasy world like Venice but on the scale of New York City. It’s very much in the vein of The Lies of Locke Lamora, which Rodney Thompson has stated was a key source of inspiration for the game.
I’ve been really excited about this game since I Kickstarted it a year or so ago, admittedly on a whim since I loved Lords of Waterdeep, but since then reading through the material and watching many actual plays I’ve really gotten excited about not just the mechanics, but the world and the theme. I also got into similar systems that I saw a lot of comparisons to on the internet/forums/gplus, Blades in the Dark, and it’s space opera setting, Scum & Villainy from Evil Hat (one of my favorite game companies! Based in Maryland!)
Both of those games really sound great. Blades is darker (heh) and more focused on the crew running the job. While S&V is a more space opera style game. I’m committed to running a game of both, but they are very different thematically from Dusk City, that I’ll probably never expound on in another post, but I’d like to!
But back to Dusk City. It’s a percentile based role playing game with additional Advantage and Disadvantage dice used for added flavor, making the system very easy to pick up and play. The game is designed to be the kind of game you can take right off the shelf and play with very little preparation time, and the scenario design makes it so. With a bunch of drunk guys who had never played before (but admittedly are very experienced table top gamers) we were rolling along quickly and easily. I think the guys enjoyed it too!
I probably fudged a few rules in my first run through (I messed up needing to roll disadvantage dice when pushing your luck) and also probably didn’t get them accruing heat as much as possible. But nonetheless it was a lot of fun and I cant wait to get people together again to play some more.
Check out the kickstarter page here for more on the game, actual plays and lots of fun pictures, or the website for it. So much fun.
We also played some old stand by’s like Coup which is probably one of our favorite games. Everyone always seems to have a duke! There weren’t any memorable moments from Coup like we’ve had in years past, but was fun as always.
I also finally got to try out Mansions of Madness with the companion app that I’ve heard so much about. The game came recommended by a good friend of mine, James, who loved the app feature, letting him and his wife play co-op with out someone needing to run the keeper.
I was a little worried since Jake forgot his ipad, so we ran the companion app on my laptop and it’s been freezing up and crashing on my all last week. Luckily it made it through without any issues. We lost pretty badly when Nick playing the orphan was killed by the Priest of Dagon, but shit happens. It was fun and I didn’t have to GM it!
The system for Mansions of Madness is very similar to the other Fantasy Flight Mythos games like Arkham Horror, but more streamlined and not taking 3 hours to setup.
Speaking of long setup, Dead of Winter still remains one of my favorite new games.
While the Zombie thing is a bit played out like Jake says, the game mechanics bring about a new twist to the zombie apocalypse in that you are trying to survive a winter, adds a betrayal component which we haven’t run into yet, and has a bunch of smaller twists and turns to keep it interesting, making the zombie apocalypse really just the back drop to the theme of colony survival, overcoming obstacles and twists from the crossroads cards.
I really cant wait to play this one again. Not to mention we had Sparky the Stunt Dog carrying a Shot Gun!
I think Nick and Steve liked Terraforming Mars the best. I loved it to, even if I had to play as yellow, didn’t get to drop a moon on Jake (good job nick) nor did my overall strategy pan out, but was still fun and i didn’t come in last place!
We played two games that were very much in the “Wizards Fighting it out” vein.
The First was Epic Spell Wars, that pat brought. It was ok. was kind of a deck building game (we all know how i feel about those) and was really about what card you drew. It was ok. I probably wouldnt play it again unless everyone else did.
The second i liked more, Rock Paper Wizards, we were all a few more beers in by this one but it had a fun mechanic where you did hand gestures to indicate what spell you were casting. I was weirded out by it at first, but it ended up being a blast.
Now the beach trip wasnt all just us sitting in a condo playing board games. We did get down to the beach a few times, visited the boardwalk, rode the beach bus and played pokemon! We also found an excellent sports bar called The Abbey Burger Bistro for burgers, beers and to watch the Fifa World Cup Final.
Viva La France!
Now for what should you drink during a gaming weeken? Well, thats a tough call. Now that I’m in my late 30s and dont have the drinking prowess of a kid in their 20s, I recommend with riding it out with a good session beer like SeaQuench from DogFishHead or the old stand by of the All Day IPA. I started the weekend off with a few Narragansetts that Jake brought. That wasnt bad. I brought in a few heavier Sweetwater IPA’s a bit later, but those seriously impacted my gaming ability. Not to mention the shots of Tito’s Jake had me doing later.
Nick kicked it with a 4 pack of DFH 120 Minute all weekend. Thats basically a wine at that point.
Final Verdict, stick with the SeaQuench and other session ales during a gaming weekend and throw in the occasional water and heavier stuff to keep it balanced out!
My daughter Penny (who I call little gamer on twitter) LOVES Teen Titans Go!. We’ve watched every episode about a dozen times each, and there are times it’s the only thing played on our tv for weeks at a time. I love it to and the Episode with weird Al might be one of the most enjoyable half hours on TV. I personally am not a huge deck builder game fan. I’ve played the old stand by, Magic the Gathering, a ton as a kid, and even some as an adult with some of my gamer friends. As I’m sure is a shock to you, I’m not very good at it, and my good friend Jake once broke me from wanting to ever really want to play it again with some bullshit backwards in time “the stack” shit. If you’ve ever had a moment in your life where all joy from something is destroyed, then you know how I felt at that moment. I was almost that dood who flips tables when he loses at games… but I didnt, because I’m not that dood. I did have a few moment of fun in my last go round of playing it.. Black vise + The Rack for one, and a neat combo of earthquake plus earthbind.
The second one got me one of my favorite Nick quotes ever. “You know Dan, you should try a multi-color deck next time. It requires more strategy”. Dood… My strategy involves playing cards that show up in my hand. I’m one step above picking cards for their art.
Either way I do NOT enjoy the deck building process, and don’t enjoy losing to people who are much better then I. Although as Jake says, it might just be because I have “shitty cards.” Ok, to pause that for a second.. I have played a few card/deck/drafting type games. I’m not sure if they are really the same as MTG and TTG? 7 Wonders which is alot of fun (and T’s favorite game) but a little too mathy for me?
I always get sucked into taking the boob cards.. what can i say, I have a type:
7 Wonders is great. It’s a drafting game where you choose cards based on their abilities (and boobs) or stats, and how they play with other cards and making sets, all while trying to have the greatest civilization, based on the number of victory points you’ve gathered of course. It’s quick and has a set time limit so you can get through it pretty easily. If you are playing with people who havnt played before they kind of have to have a shitty game or two to get the gist. I recommend they choose cards for the art (boobs) while they are figuring it out. Tianna really likes 7 Wonders and 7 wonders Duel (which is EVEN BETTER!) Maybe I can convince her to do a write up.
But 7 Wonders is more of a Drafting game then a deck building game… so forget that whole write up.
This is fun and kind of plays like a B side Marvel/DC universe, although Steve and Jake will probably kick me for not recognizing the universe (multiverse?) it’s in. Feels like they started making the game and lost the rights to the IP they were using so they made something up. It’s a ton of fun but is more co-op then competitive. You play with other players to take down a big bad guy. Your cards are more for chaining abilities together or playing off your co-players abilities to do maximum damage. I played Ra in the one time we played and my Staff was super duper awesome and let me do tons of fire damage… I like playing DPS classes.
But again this isnt really a deck building game. You have the deck from the start and i guess it’s more about fishing for the cards you awnt to chain stuff together? So forget that too!
So back to the Teen Titans Game.
I wasnt super thrilled about playing a deck builder game, but Penny saw the box on the table when it came in from Amazon and really wanted to check it out. I was a bit concerned since the game box has 12+ as the recommended Age, and Penny is only 7 (almost 8 she yells at me as I type this), but I said hey, lets give it a shot. We almost quit a few time before we really got started as an 8 year old has the attention span of a gnat and wouldnt pay attention to me reading the rules. So I just soldiered on and figured it out and kind of showed her through playing. I guess Crytotacistic makes alot of these Deck Builder games because it talks about being compatible with others, and a quick google search shows a bunch:
The game was alot of fun. The art on the cards is enjoyable and invokes the whimsy of the TV Show. The rules were not too complicated and after a few rounds of fumbling through the rules we figured it out and got into the swing of things. Penny really picked it up and while I went easy on her at first she got the strategy a bit faster then I. She did almost start crying (which might have been fake) when I hit her with the first weakness cards in the game but she was fine.
I really enjoyed how they incorporate the villans and nemesis and they are used to make your deck more powerful. Once your deck gets alot deeper the game moves alot faster and your taking down Nemsisis cards much faster and speeding up.
In the End Penny beat me by about 6 points. I’m not sure If this is due to her being really good or me just sucking. Probably me just sucking. She loves playing games and that makes me super excited to play it again too! We’re planning to play again soon and I’ll let you all know if my impressions of the game change with that!
I’m super excited that Penny was able to pickup a game with such complex rules pretty easily. I’m hoping to get her into some Catan or Pandemic soon! Maybe even The Captain is dead!
So Beer rating. Playing with a kid and a kid oriented game.. I think it’s probably best to stick with water.
Or Maybe a Soda? How about a Root Beer. I really like Hanks Root Beer. It’s a Philly area staple and being that I feel like a transplanted Philly REGION guy, we’ll go with that. It’s like a beer? It has beer in it’s name?