Monday, December 11, 2017

Last session before the new.

It's the little things that make and break you.

Thank You.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Monsters! Monsters!

Welcome to the other side (of Tunnels and Trolls), where you get to role play the not "good guys".

My copy has seen better days, but considering that my copy is a second printing dated 1979 I'm blessed it has lasted as long as it has, especially with the spiral binding.

I've been doing a bit of a bender these days and going back to the roots of my gaming.  My old board games are still good, though finding people who are not immediately derisive of them is proving problematic.  It would appear that people will only play what's "hot" and recent, apparently anything that is five years or older in date is "so unfashionable" and contains "game mechanics" that have been supplanted by more modern developments.  Phooey I say.

I loved Ken St. Andre's introduction where he refers to Tunnels & Trolls (hereafter T&T) as "the poor man's alternative to the expensive Other Role-Play Game".  I think we can all guess which one that would be...

So this RPG uses similar mechanics to T&T's, though the rules indicate you do not need to own the other to play this system.  T&T does though "contain detailed tables of weapons, high-level magic, provisions,etc".

There are 52 Monsters listed in M!M! and I've been able to source reasonable models to represent them.  I really do no regret my generosity with a trade many years ago for some Star Wars figures... really wish I still had the vast horde of plastic crack to throw around the table.  Sigh, nothing I can do about it now though, thankfully I kept the "one of" for my collection.  

As the game reflects it's all about the Monsters coming to a village, city or whatever scenario the GM has come up with.  Today it would be like Descent or another other of the Dungeon Crawl games.  I'm still in the process of reacquainting myself with the rules, the turn sequence goes like this:

1. Movement/Action
2. Wandering Enemies
3. Combat
4. Recovery

So yes it's very much in the mould of a classic Dungeon Crawl.  The game mechanics operate on the simple die six, with multiples of the die being cast and the pips added up and compared to an opponent to determine the outcome.  Simple, luck driven mechanics.  Nothing wrong with it.  Role-play games are first meant to be an exploration of the imagination, with some excitement of combat thrown in.  

Names of spells are hilarious and I'm sure some people might take exception to some the titles, such as Yassa Massa for an enslavement spell.  Other titles are silly, but explain simply the spells, "Oh Go Away" for fear, "Hidey Hole" for invisibility and "Rock-a-bye" for sleep.  

I can recall some discussions with a friend at MUDDA (Melbourne University Dungeons and Dragons Association - I think) over the merits of T&T compared to D&D - we agreed to disagree.  Yes it may seem frivolous to some, but once you peer past the veneer you can see an acceptable system which can bring many hours of enjoyment.  I know from experience that my gaming group in the early 80's enjoyed this system, and played it just as we played so many of the other competitors to D&D.

So my goal, for what it's worth, is to reacquaint myself with the rules, rustle up a campaign and let loose the Monsters! of war.

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Blind Pig Games Club 2nd December

Today was the last Pig for the year, it always makes me sad.  Nothing until February next year in the way of interaction or games, for a person that is a sufferer of all manner of ills, this is never good.

Played two new games today, Scavenger and 51st State.

Here is the LINK to BGG if you want more information.

However in a nutshell (from BGG)...

Godforsaken Scavengers is a survival adventure where players take the role of few desperate survivors in a dark and deadly insect world. Together* they strive to cross several unique areas to save themselves at all costs.
Every turn, players choose a scavenge pile to reveal cards from. They may press their luck and reveal as many cards as they like. But among all the great actions and opportunities a peril can be revealed, discarding all the revealed cards and inflicting an affliction. At the end of the turn, players either burn cards to feed themselves or they starve.
Through the course of the game, players will gain afflictions from many horrifying encounters that not only threatens their lives but also cause various unpleasant effects. On the other hand, great portion of the bad luck is mitigated by smart use of cards and player interaction.
The game features several scenarios that adjust the rules and differ in the amount of cooperation between the players from pure co-op to more individual playstyle to a competitive race mode. The game also focuses on creating unique player stories using its evocative lore on every card.

Pat brought this one along, another of his kickstarter purchases which I personally am always interested in seeing.  I believe that the consensus was that a few more games had to be played to develop a feel for the game.  I liked it, it can be played solo which I was happy to see.

The second new game was 51st State.

Here is the LINK to BGG for those who want more information.

However in a nutshell (from BGG)...

The world you know no longer exists. There is no government. No army. No civilization. The United States have collapsed. And now, thirty years after the war started, new powers finally try to take control over the ruined country, try to establish a new order, try to control others and create a new country, a new State: the 51st State.
51st State is a card game in which players control one of the four powers (mutants, traders, New Yorkers and Appalachians) and try to build their very own new country. Players put new locations into the game, they hire leaders, and send people to work in buildings to gain resources and new skills.
Every card in 51st State can be put into play in three different ways. You can invade a location to gain many resources once, or you can sign a contract with this location to gain one resource every turn, or you can attach the location to your State so you can use its skill. One card, three possibilities. Lots of decisions and choices that matter.

Jason sat this game out as he chaperoned as rules teacher.  Not an easy game to teach the rules to, however once we started to play and picked up on some of our mistakes it proved itself to be an entertaining game.  Certainly one I'll add to my collection in time.

The other two games I played were Unfair and Kingdomino, both enjoyable games.

The club was well attended today as it was advertised as a Buy Swap Sell event, and it attracted more than the usual number of attendees.

Sellers setting up...

BPLaser wares on display.

BPLaser wares on display

BPLaser wares on display

Early birds...

Other games were in play: Warhammer 40K, EPIC 40K, and Aristeia. 

Certainly Aristeia appeals to a number of players.  LINK here for more details.

So this is my last post for the Blind Pig for 2017.  Hopefully I'll be there for 2018.

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Fury of the Norsemen

Finally played this game and apart from stuffing up the stacking rules the game plays quite well.

Having played half the game in turns (6 of the 12) I found that it is challenging and difficult for the VIkings to win without some cunning plan (something I lacked).  The Villagers cannot activate until such time as a Viking has done an provoking action which allows them to then move and attack.  The animals move randomly, which is entertaining.  

Being a tinkerer of rules I'm thinking of getting the map enlarged, double if I can get it.  The counters I will redesign and make double sided, one side to show an action has been performed.  I found that one of my greatest problems in playing this game was determining which units had moved.  I'm thinking that I shall have a different side colour to reflect an activation.  Once all counters have been flipped to the same colour I'll know if I've activated everything and completed the movement phase.  The counters that came with the game were cut very close to the right side and almost came to the point of cutting off details.  I will redesign the counters and mount them on thicker cardboard.  A set of tweezers is a must with this game, blunt ones especially.  I only had a pair of sharp pointy ones, and was always in fear of jabbing the map.

Final verdict, a good game with simple mechanics and a challenging deadline.  

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A matter of perspective?

It’s astounding, time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely, not for very much longer
I’ve got to keep control
From Rocky Horror Picture Show

It’s just a jump to the left... it appears that games and a growing number of people who play them are leaning that way?

From a perspective over time I can recall the hysteria whipped up in the early 80’s when Dungeons & Dragons came to popularity and the attraction it had to all sorts of people.  People who played “wargames” were targeted as warmongers (probably what is referred to now as Far-Right), role players as satanic practitioners (the Goth subculture), which were for the most part incorrect, though I can only say this from my personal recollection of the time.  I can certainly recall a store in Brisbane being picketed by the rabble screeching against war, though my memory is hazy about the exact details.

I have noticed in the last few years and most notably in the last year that the label of inclusivity and diversity has begun to creep into games and culture.  For example Shut Up & Sit Down made a complaint that Istanbul had no artwork depicting women (at time 21:08 onwards  The Dice Tower review of London (at time 8:40 onwards had issue with the use of paupers (poverty I’m assuming) in the use of a game mechanic.  These are just two that come to mind, I’m sure I could dig around and find others.  Of course where would we be without the cry of “where are the females” represented in designers, artists, players etcetera and of course I’m now waiting for the “where are the other genders” represented in gaming - they have to be included surely.

When I look at a game I am looking for entertainment value and the concepts of diversity and inclusivity have no meaning at all, nor should they.  What is the world coming to? I saw that Colditz was reprinted and the swastika was replaced, where the original had it printed (yet you can buy Mein Kampf at any good bookstore).  With the hysteria in the USA over the Confederacy flag will games be required to remove the symbol because it’s been perceived to have been hijacked by an element of society viewed poorly by another?  Games that reflect colonial expansion are now being seen as distasteful, regardless of whether the game is actually good, but where do you draw the line?  Will Germans come to an opinion that they are tired of being viewed as the perpetual bad guys in historical wargames, and as a result will we have to remove or ban such content?  Could we see Thought Police who interpret harmless aspects to have more sinister motives, such as some people who see children’s stories or cartoons through tinted glass of their own bias?

J: “People are smart. They can handle it.”
K: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals. You know it.”
From Men in Black

The notion that by removing currently viewed distasteful artwork, ideologies and such from view to discourage upsetting people is hypocrisy.  People get upset over whatever their personal compass is, and people are individuals, though I fear the herd mentality seems to be the norm - especially with social ostracism if your opinion is contrary to the horde.  So what one day may be viewed as distasteful becomes trendy and avant-garde the next and vice versa - the continual cycle of hypocrisy at its best.

When I first became aware of my social responsibilities I had it drilled into me that you never talk politics or religion while in company - excellent advice for my time but today that does not seem to be the case, everyone has an opinion and they believe it’s their right to impose it on you – whether you want it or not.  I have sat at a table to play games where people have decided to discuss religion or politics and it has been made abundantly clear to me which side of the socio-political spectrum they side with.  I have learnt not to express my opinion, I’m “shouted down”, advised it’s not relevant, or what is more galling is “it’s not your fault it’s what I’d expect from you and your age group.” It is best that all concerned keep their opinions to themselves for the sake of harmony rather than confrontation.

I’ve rambled again; let’s get back to my article.  A game that is created should be freely able to convey to its audience whatever theme or artwork that is relevant to its design. It should not be monitored by some Thought Police who have decided it’s their responsibility to say what is or is not acceptable.  Whether the game is successful should be decided by its mechanics and whether it has achieved it ultimate goal of providing whatever outcome it purported. If a person has issue with it, then don’t play it or buy it, it’s that simple.  I believe that by keeping issues in the open for people to see is far better than banning or removing it from view.  By reminding people of the history and issues relevant to them, you can better understand the world and hopefully improve on it.

What can be done about the growing trendy left who play games - nothing.  Who chooses to play games based on their socio-political compass should have no basis on enjoyment.  I find that people of similar values will clique together, so it’s not an issue.  Where you have mixed values then it should be made clear that you are here to play a game and enjoy it (the game) and the company or competitive play of others.  I’m sure that a person will be uncomfortable or outraged by open “warfare” of opinion, so keep it sealed – there are plenty of other forums that you can vent socio-political opinions so don’t ruin a good game and company by stirring the pot.

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Addendum: I debated for a while about this article.  I originally penned it on the 19th October, and it's had quite a few rewrites since then.  I'm sure that someone will take exception to what I have written, but this article is from my viewpoint, which is not going to agree with everyone - and that's the point.  Don't agree then that's your prerogative.  However people today need to be mindful of others, and that's not just from one point of view, but all sides.  I want to enjoy my hobby without the reality of the current society we have ruining it.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Blind Pig Games Club 4th November

Today was the second last club meet for the year.  The regulars arrived as usual and games kicked off. 

Today I played four games of which three were for the first time.  Roll for the Galaxy (see LINK to BGG), Captain Sonar (see LINK to BGG), and Kingdomino (see LINK to BGG) were the three new games with the favourite Gods' Gambit also included from the back catalogue.

Captain Sonar was hilarious.  Our first play was 7 players, but our second managed to acquire 8.  Well worth playing and I believe it will be talked about for a while, especially the Sonar Operator... (that was me).








So that's the wrap up for today.

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Blind Pig Games Club 28th October

Today was the Blind Pig and it was a good day.  There are only two more meets for the year before the Boss takes a holiday and restarts in the New Year.

Jason the reader of rules - Yamatai

The board set up and ready to play.
I played nine games in total today, six unique games.  Four new games were Yamatai (see BGG LINK), Between Two Cities (see BGG LINK), Hanamikoji (see BGG LINK) and Lovecraft Letter (see BGG LINK).  The other two games played were Tortuga 1667 and Bang:The Dice Game.

Quiet games wise with just board games and a table of EPIC 40K happening.  There was interest in the Buy Swap Sell event, with some good items for sale.  The club will be hosting a special final BSS on the last club day of the year in December.

Till next time.

The Hon. John