Come on in for Next of Ken...this week, I'm talking about Asmodee potentially going Ashton Kutcher on the gaming population, and all the details of The B. Brothers' Boardgaming Birthday Bash, including King of Tokyo, Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Fortune and Glory, Battlestar Galactica, and so very much more. Join us, won't you?
My Daddy Told Me We Were Baptized in Gasoline
I think I've been Punk'd recently, or rather the gaming public has...it all started with a post by Asmodee claiming that all copies of Claustrophobia: De Profundis had gone overboard and were lost at sea during shipment...
I'd received a review copy of this, so suddenly I was feeling VERY lucky. The expansion looks like a great addition to one of the leanest, bloodiest slugfests from 2009. The addition of Hellhounds in particular is just...cool.
So needless to say the flocks of gamers waiting on this expansion were fairly distraught to hear the news posted above.
Then, this was posted to Asmodee's website a couple of days ago:
First up, how many game manufacturers would put up a page on their site saying, "Shit Happened!" But that aside, suddenly the story starts to seem a little...fishy.
"However, we still have some hope. Croc was carried away by a dreadful rage, and, motivated by the millions of dollars of royalties he may have just lost, left immediately.
We’re not entirely sure where he went, but it’s somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, somewhere in the vicinity of the spot where our precious cargo went overboard."
Heh heh...yep, as they say in the wrestling business, "It's a work, fans." Still, very clever, because De Profundis actually means "Out of the Depths."
I'll have a review for it up in a couple of weeks, but assuming all the copies aren't lying drenched in the bottom of the sea, fans of the base game really owe it to themselves to pick up a copy this holiday season.
Asked to Bring Some Friends, They Walked In With Mohawks
Jeremy and I held our big boardgaming birthday bash this past weekend (with BIG assistance from my wife, who is the most amazing woman on earth!) All in all, things went very well. We had a nice turnout, not as many as we might have hoped, but a solid mixture of friends, gamers from regional area gaming groups, and a few new faces I'd never met before.
We had set up early Saturday in the Best Western's empty right conference room. This had actually been a restaraunt at one point, but they'd converted it to a second conference room for rent since.
After getting all the tables lined up just so, moving our games in, establishing areas for the game library and snacks, we killed time waiting for folks to start filing in by playing the absolutely stupid game of Flickin' Chicken, something Jeremy had picked up from a local Toys R Us clearance sale. Basically, it's golf, but you toss rubber chickens. I can't make this stuff up, folks. But as stupid as it is, it's also a stupidly fun way to kill time.
Soon, we had people arriving, and we made sure to get everyone started gaming so that no one was left out.
Initially we did some King of Tokyo, which ended up becoming one of THE games of the day. Seriously, at one point someone remarked, "I haven't even played King of Tokyo today and *I'm* King of Tokyo'd out!" This was my first time playing the game and I gotta chime in on the chorus of what a fantastic filler game this is. Roll your dice looking for combinations that will either grant you points, health, attacks, or purchasing power. The point is to gain 20 VPs, and you can do that by pounding on your foes and standing tall in Tokyo, or rolling certain dice combinations. There are also cards that you can buy to grant your monsters all sorts of powers and advantages, and the deck is big enough that you're going to see different cards on offer from game to game.
I'm not sure I won a single game of the five times I played it that day, because I got too wrapped up in both buying crazy cool powers and by rolling as many claws as I could, every turn.
Erica got to play it as well and seemed to like it, so I'm going to nab a copy for family gaming purposes. What a cool game, worth the buzz it's been getting so far.
I took the time to get some more people settled in and gaming, including Russ Rupe of Conquest Gaming LLC and A.J. Porfirio of Van Ryder Games. Both of them set up tables to demo their games--Russ with Warlords of Europe and AJ with If I'm Going Down...(soon to be on Kickstarter, go check it out), Componegotiate (a prototype), and Organzied Chaos, which appeared to be a 4-player free for all where you alternate smacking down your opponents and regenerating your own deck.
I was able to do a short demo of Warlords of Europe with Russ, and I was considerably impressed. It is basically a spiritual successor to all the great Gamemaster games of the 80s, but with plenty of cards to spice things up. Cards are pretty much a requirement for me for most Dudes on a Map games these days.
The demo we did was a short two-player game, where I got to learn about the movement, the playing of cards, and a few battles. I felt like I was doing great, but Russ quickly slapped down a couple of cards that let him bypass my defenses and brutually attack one of my castles, where my pitiful defenders fell like dominoes.
It's a gorgeous production with lots and lots of plastic pieces for the troops and castles, as well as tons of dice, cards, and a "big without being overwhelming" map. What I thought was great about the map was how it had markings for territories to use in smaller games, to keep the action tight and focused.
AJ's booth was pretty popular too, particulary his If I'm Going Down... zombie game (online here). From what I could see, it was a competitive 'siege defense' sort of game where players at the bottom of the board used weapons and other tactics to delay an advancing zombie horde. However, certain zombies had powers that made them move faster, let them attack at range, or forced you to target them last (Loved One) or even first (Hated One.) The Loved One concept is pretty cool, it's the whole, "No...she was my girlfriend! I love her! I can't shoot her! I can't....BLERARAHHGHH..."
According to AJ, in every game you WILL die, it's just a matter of when, and how many points you have when you finally bite the dust. So it's not a cooperative game at all, but a competitive vs. AI-type game. I didn't get a chance to demo it myself, but AJ is sending a review copy to me, possibly before his Kickstarter campaign gets online and then concludes. If he does, I'll give you the skinny on all the gameplay.
With everyone settled in, I had a chance to sit in on the new Star Trek: Fleet Captains from Wizkids with local gamer Troy, my brother Jeremy, and an old friend of ours, Tim. Troy and I took the Federation while Tim and Jeremy had the Klingons.
I was completely surprised that it wasn't the kind of game I was expecting. I was really thinking there would be more tactical combat, but the gameplay is most directly like something such as Runebound, but with ships instead of characters. The board is made up of face-down tiles, and you spend the game exploring them, having encounters from an encounter deck, and trying to complete missions to earn points. You even use characters the same way you'd use weapons in Runebound, as they are most often stat boosters, with the occasional special ability mixed in.
The clix system isn't used here for point-by-point damage, but instead you have three levels of damage, and you are free to adjust your dial within whichever damage section you're in currently. So while you're fully healed, you can set your dial to any of the white settings. All power to shields this turn? Will you pump the power into your sensors? Supercharge your phaser banks? It's all up to you.
I enjoyed it, although we had some issues with what types of cards could be played, how many, and when...like at one point when I wanted to use a Combat card to cancel damage followed by an Ops card that prevents damage; it would seem the rules don't allow this, though I thought that this section was badly explained in the rulebook.
Troy and I won, even though I spent the first portion of the game getting beat down by the Klingon fleet, who wandered through a wormhole I had the misfortune of encountering right on my front doorstep.
It was fun, though I'm not sure it was $100 MSRP fun. For those curious, Troy had problems with neither cards nor ships in his copy, and everything looked great, though those space tiles are hella thin and prone to some warping. I wish they'd bothered to paint the ships as well.
I want to give it another try, there's a lot going on here, so it's hard to judge the entire package after only one play.
After getting everyone some late lunch, I gathered some folks for a six-player game of Battlestar Galactica, vanilla-style. This was the first time I'd played it in quite a while where I was the only one at the table who had played it, and there were even a couple of players who had never watched the show.
I ended up with Gaius, and for I think my fifth game in a row, I was dealt an opening "You're a Cylon!" card. I am really and truly getting a reputation for this, woe is me for the game where I don't actually turn Cylon...I'll probably end up in the Brig anyway.
President Roslin was drawing some suspicions due to how she was acting, so I played that up, hoping to encourage her to reveal and leaving me the hidden operative. I mean, at this point in the game, NO ONE suspected me. I had to be helpful to the other players because I was teaching the game, but what I did do was overspend on Crisis cards, basically waste actions (like repairing the Admiral's Quarters when we had no current need of it), and juuuust be helpful enough where I looked like a "good guy."
Finally, my brother Jarrod (Adama) faced a crisis that let him look at a loyalty card, and he peeked at Roslin's. Yep, he declared, she's a Cylon--and as helpful as he'd been all game, there was no reason at all to suspect him. I wanted Roslin to use her Cylon reveal power so I actually slipped in a high-value negative card to keep her out of the Brig (the Destiny deck thankfully hid my identity.) She made it back to her turn, revealed, and I figured we were all set.
Or...almost. The humans Morale had taken several hits, but I was hoping to encourage Adama (who was now President thanks to Tigh's Martial Law declaration) to get those back in the blue. Then, I made a huge miscalculation.
Jarrod was two to the right of me, my wife directly to my right. He Executive Order'd her, and by not paying attention I forgot it wasn't actually her turn. Jarrod's crisis was the one that added 1 to the distance they'd travelled, which would have immediately sent us to the Sleeper phase.
I tanked that sucker with two cards, thinking gleefully how it would be my turn and there was little they could do. But...it wasn't my turn next, it was Erica's. My Cylon nature was now obvious, I ended up in the Brig, and on my turn, I went to join Roslin on the Resurrection ship.
I was still hopeful that we had time to turn the Sympathizer around, but they hit several jump icons in a row. When a Cylon fleet showed up, they jumped early, we lost the Sympathizer to the humans by ONE point, and really that was the beginning of the end for our diabolical plans.
We needed another fleet to show up, but didn't get one. I tried burning through the Super Crisis deck to get the mega attack fleet but didn't get that either (turns out it was on the bottom of the deck.)
The Cylons got the humans down to three dials in the red and a Cylon boarding party, but there wasn't enough time as Galactica sailed to one of the easier victories I'd ever seen the humans win. If I'd been able to reveal as I'd planned, I could have slowed them down by damaging FTL (I was the saboteur Cylon).
A great, great game, though, certainly one of the best of all time. The rules sound so complex to people when you try to teach them, until they get a few turns in and everything clicks, and they realize it isn't even remotely as complicated as it initially sounds.
We were moving into the evening hours, but got in a game of 4-player Innovation (Erica crushed the three of us, winning 4 achievements to none...holy cow, does she OWN at this game) and then Junta: Viva El Presidente. Presidente is good, light fun, but the rules translation isn't really all that hot so it took several turns before we understood all of our options.
I spent the entire game making sure to don the sunglasses when appropriate and speak in a terrible accent, getting people to fight on my behalf with the most pitiful of promises. I managed to get both of the bonus VP cards in hand, built two more buildings, and I won, exposing the Presidente to be the shadow puppet for my grand bid to power.
That ended my day of gaming, but let me talk a bit about the other stuff I saw played:
- As mentioned earlier, King of Tokyo was the big hit of the day. There were very few moments where someone wasn't playing it at some point. A fast, bloody brutal game of Monster King of the Hill that is easy to pick up and teach.
- Fortune and Glory, the new game from Flying Frog, was also played. It really is a bits extravaganza, and the players seemed to be having a great time playing it. I don't know how ultimately strategic the game might be, definitely an experience game for sure, but it looks nice set up on the table and in play.
- I'm the Boss got a little table time. I think this was talked about on the forums not long ago, but if you've never played I'm the Boss, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a go. A game of negotiation, backstabbing, cards getting flopped down at a frenzied pace as grudges build and a hunger for "The Deal" takes over. Although the game I witnessed was a little more subdued than usual, count on a game of this getting LOUD.
- Some close friends of mine set up Runewars in the early hours of the day but had to call it at 2pm when they had to go. It is a beautiful game, but I was under the impression the game played much faster than that...but then again, I think they were playing the Epic variant.
- Jeremy and Ian sat down and played three or four scenarios of Claustrophobia. As the Demon player, it's fun to pile on the humans; as the human player, it feels supremely awesome to swat away hordes of Troglodytes. Between this and Earth Reborn, I'm not sure anyone really needs any other two-player Dudes in a Corridor games at all.
- I saw Troy and three others digging in for another game of Fleet Captains--Troy was really enthusiastic about how much he liked the game, and Troy's not always all that easy to please. So sounds like a big thumbs up there. It's definitely a big, epic exploration/adventure game, which was not at all what I'd anticipated.
- Special props go out to Huntsville gamer Ian Allen, whose pimped out Lego versions of Battlestar Galactica and Magical Athlete really stole the show. He's also done the same with Wiz-War, though he didn't have it with him this time. Check out the photos, it's pretty unbelievable the job he did with these.
Extra special props go out to Russ and AJ, who gave away copies of Warlords of Europe, Componegotiate, Organized Chaos, and even a future copy of If I'm Going Down, to be delivered to the winner once the games get produced. Insanely cool of these guys to give away these prizes at a smaller event like this, and we were extremely grateful for their participation.
And that's going to close the book on this week's chapter of Next of Ken. Tune in next week where I do an old-fashioned Trashie-Twofer, covering two indie games in Sentinels of the Multiverse and Third and Long: The Football Card Game. See ya in seven.