I figured it was a good time to do some updatin', and the best way to do that was with our new blog feature.
It's funny, because when we launched this site, I told myself, "This is great, not every front page entry has to be an EVENT." And yet...I've fallen into that mindset again. I have stuff to write about, but then I start sweatin'...."IS THIS FRONT PAGE WORTHY?" Don't know how I allowed myself to get into this mindtrap again, but I'm sure I'll shake it off. Anyway, this blog is just what the doctor ordered.
(Until, of course, I start posting these regularly, and then every BLOG entry has to be An Event, and then..."IS THIS BLOG WORTHY?")
Anyway...here's some gaming stuff.
Had a chance to play this several weeks ago and I came away sincerely impressed. Yeah, I know Malloc had taken issues with the cube tower, but HOT DAMN is that sucker cool. I mean, really, is tossing cubes into a tower any more or less abstract than rolling a dice and counting pips? Does either really capture some ass-kickin' SAMURAI COMBAT?
You totally get in that "DICE" frame of mind too where you begin to believe that you should be the one doing the cube tossin' because it will somehow affect your odds. It's definitely some sort of gamer superstition.
And really, the cube tower is more than a gimmick, it's a way of introducing a new kind of randomness to the proceedings. If you toss some cubes in and they don't come out, your odds of winning a *future* battle has increased, so you're not totally hosed. Yeah, it sucks to toss in seven and only see three come out, but you know now that the tower is 'preloaded' for a future assault.
Anyway, the game reminds me a lot of Shingen the Ruler/Romance of the Three Kingdoms, those sorts of games. You have to levy troops, tax the people, collect rice to feed the people, and build stuff to improve your provinces. Tax the people too often, and they're more likely to revolt, so you can't just keep going back to your richest provinces every turn and demand more wealth, eventually it will bite you in the ass.
During the game that I played, I carried out a pretty strong military campaign but I underestimated the value of buildings and ended up third out of five players. That may be the only 'gamey' or 'Euro-y' thing that will through AT fans for a loop in that it sort of dips into this Area Majority thing at the end of each year, so you start getting rewarded for building more stuff in certain regions. That's the only thing really that doesn't have a strong tie to any sort of theme and it's weird to suddenly break into El Grande or something periodically, but so be it.
Anyway, I give it a big thumbs up, and I want to play it again. It also makes me want to play Wallenstein someday just to see what the differences are.
1960..."Uh, I'd also like to express my fondness for that particular beer.."
So we've gotten in a game and a half of 1960 (the first half game being a learning game.) Like Shogun, it's too early to do a proper review, so I'm just going to lay out what I think of it so far.
I really dig the whole Ops system, playing cards for Ops or Events. Apparently there is a whole series of wargames that have been using this system for years and no one told me. So no matter what 1960 has given me otherwise, the end result is that I'm now going to pick up a copy of Hannibal: Rome v Carthage.
Anyway, the system is decent enough, but the candidates feel like superheroes. Can they really do this much stuff in one week? Seriously, if you play five of the "4CP cards", you could put cubes in up to 20 different states. That doesn't seem realistic, but maybe it is, who knows. The candidates begin to feel like little teleporting dervishes. You hit some of the events and it's even crazier--like the Whistlestop event that lets you put 7 support at once. When you figure each turn is about a day+10 hours or so, it *seems* like a lot going on.
The Event/Momentum system is cool, but the Events just don't seem to be as big of game changers as you might expect. Lots of times I was able to easily dodge my opponent's momentum and I lost far more momentum markers to decay than I did spending them.
It is fun, and it's different. I don't think it should be a "top 10" on any of the leading boardgame sites, and I think the overall rating is sliding a bit for it. I'm thinking that with the events being as they are, games will start getting "samey" after enough plays.
I like it okay, it's fun if you get to try it but I'm not going to recommend you rush out and buy it right away. (Word of warning: if you do buy it, prepare for an onslaught of bad Kennedy and Nixon impersonations, the other "gift" that this game has given me.)
Germans + The Occult....News at 11
Tannhauser is another game I picked up on sort of a whim because the local shop had it.
It's a gorgeous production, with a HUGE mounted two-sided board and ten nicely painted minis, and a host of tokens to punch out and sort.
We played a quick game of it and it's surprising how 'different' it feels compared to what you would expect. It really feels more like you're playing a somewhat 'proper' tactical squad game in how you move each unit, how you try to avoid leaving them in vulnerable positions, and how you try to get them to advance and work together to defeat your enemies. Tannhauser has been compared to a computer FPS, and I think that's pretty accurate. You definitely get that light tactical squad feel.
The other disconnect is just how vulnerable these characters are and just how LETHAL combat is. You look at how these characters are styled and it feels like a movie, with the usual movie archetypes. You almost expect each of the characters to be nearly superhuman in strength and endurance. Yet since they all only have three or four health, one good shot is often enough to drop them where they stand.
In our first game, I ran the whip lady up to someone and tossed the bones. Despite them having full health, I triggered her deadly "Natural 10" ability. Boom, four wounds, they're dead. Yikes...
So that's a word to the wise--if you pick this one up, don't expect your guys to be running for cover, bullets flying everywhere, bad guys shrugging off bullets left and right...if you leave yourself open to get a shot of pistol to the face, you're probably going down.
I wish they'd had a better system for the tokens, because you're either going to be flipping through the rulebook several times to find out what your equipment does, or you're going to have to hunt down a player aid to keep it straight. I'm definitely doing the latter for our next game, as it is a pain passing the rulebook back and forth. And while the minis are beautiful, it does sort of feel a bit overpriced considering you're only getting 10 minis in the deal for $60 MSRP.
It's like 1960, I like Tannhauser at this point, but I don't think it's ever going to be top 10 material for me. It's funny because a game like this 20 years ago would've inspired a gigantic fan community and people would be trying to pick up OOP copies of it all the time. But now we have so many great offerings to choose from as AT fans that Tannhauser just sort of takes its place as Another Game.
A recommend to try, but with the caveat to adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Iron Man...May 2nd. This will be the official kick-off of movie season for me. It looks great so far. I know it will be a real stretch for Downey to play the alcoholic Tony Stark, but I'm sure he'll do fine.
- Cloverfield on DVD...ya know, I still have no idea how this will hold up on someone's 25" TV, I just don't think it's going to be the same. The immersion will be gone and the scale diminished. If you didn't catch it in theaters, it's worth a rental for sure. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.
- Sarah Connor Chronicles--renewed. Took them awhile to announce its fate but it looks like the important question has been answered--FALL TV WILL HAVE SUMMER GLAU. And there was much rejoicing.
And that's a wrap. Hope to have some more Trashie Two-Fer reviews in the near future, as well as FINALLY getting around to those Video Game/Boardgame articles I've got stewing in my brain somewhere.