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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The High Crusade & The Fury of the Norsemen

Spurred on by anothers blog I went delving through my archive of old games - yes people games have been around since before Catan and the modern rise of board game popularity amongst the hoi polloi.  (I really must stop watching All Hail King Julien, I think KJ's personality is rubbing off on me!)


The box art, remember that these were micro-games
so the box dimensions are 105mm x 180mm x 15mm.
(Image from BGG)

The contents of the game box.
(Image from BGG)
If you are after specific details then check the LINK to BGG.

From initial flick through the rules it is simple enough and I also like there is a turn limit to the game, so I don't have to worry about battling out to the bitter end.

Why did I choose this game?  Not because of the plethora of Viking television shows, well it was because of just one show The Last Kingdom.  My wife was consumed by this series, and I had the job of filling in the history for her.  So this was the closest I could immediately find among my collection.


The nice colour cover of the Ares magazine which contained the game.
(Image from BGG)

The contents!  The game rules are inside the magazine,
very nice colour map and counters.
(Image from BGG)
If you are after specific details then check the LINK to BGG.

Thanks to my problem of sleeping I have to have audio books playing to send me off to beddy bo-bo's (Goodies fan will understand the reference).  My last book listened to was Poul Anderson's The High Crusade, which took me back in time to when I first read the sometime in the early 70's.  Sigh, how time flies, it only seemed like yesterday...  Anyhow I remembered I had the game, even if the magazine was lost in one of the floods, after a quick search (thankfully it was stored in the game container as The Fury of the Norsemen) I located it.  

My first urge was to run off to the local printer and get them to laminate the game map, but sanity prevailed and I will actually read the rules before doing that and punching our the counters.  A quick flip would appear to me that the game would appear simple enough to master (I hope).  

The club is on this weekend so if I can continue with my enthusiasm and not get distracted I may get a game or two in.  Problem is I enjoy multiplayer games at the club, time will tell I guess.

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Top 10 Board Games - October 2017

As you may be aware I love my board games.  Today I did a check of my account on Board Game Geek and had it prepare for me a download of my game data.  According to BGG my top 10 games of those owned are as follows with the BGG rank (at time I prepared this) in brackets.

1. Twilight Struggle (3)
2. Star Wars: Rebellion (5)
3. Terraforming Mars (6)
4. Scythe (8)
5. Blood Rage (17)
6. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island (28)
7. A Feast for Odin (34)
8. Eldritch Horror (42)
9. Race for the Galaxy (43)
10. Lords of Waterdeep (44)

Do I agree with how the list is shown, based on how the community have ranked the games?  Two of the games on the list, while I own them I’ve yet to actually play them, they are on my to do list.  Here is how I would rank them according to my desire to play them.

1. Lords of Waterdeep
2. Eldritch Horror
3. A Feast for Odin
4. Scythe
5. Twilight Struggle
6. Star Wars: Rebellion
7. Blood Rage
8. Terraforming Mars
9. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
10. Race for the Galaxy

I enjoy Lords of Waterdeep the most out of those listed; it is a game I will play at any time.  I think that A Feast for Odin will rise to the top of the list eventually, it only languishes in third place due to the fact I’ve played more solo games than with actual people.  As a solo game it would rate close if not in first place.

Race for the Galaxy is last, and is there for a good reason.  It is complex with its iconography and game play, I think that my opinion of this game would change if I could get more games of it under my belt.  Must get the expansion that introduces solo play, that may help me to understand the nuances of the game and better appreciate it.

Well there we have it for the next little while.  Still plenty of time to acquire more games before the end of the year; I’ll do another evaluation in December or January.

Till next time.

The Hon. John

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Another rambling diatribe... or my thoughts on an article I read.

A person I know wrote an article online (check article here  Here are my thoughts...

The first two points are “Hang around your local hobby store from time to time...” and “Or hang around your local games club”.  These two are almost the same when it comes to applying the principles advocated.  The comment that weirdos who hang out at games club aren’t present in local hobby stores is not mutually exclusive to one over the other.  If you a looking for a new person to include in home games it’s going to be hit and miss with who you will find acceptable.  One or two visits at a venue I believe will not attain a suitable sounding of the community to find a gaming buddy (unless you aren’t picky or just desperate.)  It has taken me, personally, months to ascertain who I would be comfortable with gaming at my residence.  Whether that person feels likewise is often the problem.  Over my long life I have found that humans are fickle and hypocrites.  People I know and game with (current and past) will literally walk to the other side to avoid having a conversation with me, when all I’d like to do was just say hello and move on.  (Having done more CBT – cognitive behaviour therapy - than the average person, I’m aware of the many implications of that statement, so please do not think that I’m not aware of them if you choose to take offense or point out the exceptions.) Such is the same with gaming, there appears to me to be a “happy to know or play games in a club/store environment with you”, but don’t ask for anymore interaction. Prepare to invest some time searching stores or clubs for the prerequisite gaming buddy of choice.

The other tenants are closely linked together, but the thinking that follows is debatable.  I again make reference to the human condition – people are (most of the time) looking for “what am I going to get out of any relationship.”  For example in my youth I had a group of people who first gamed at my parents house and then at my own home.  The benefits to the group at that time were, my parents tolerated the games at their residence (it also made them feel safe knowing their son was home and not out doing naughty things on a Friday and Saturday night), and my mother also fed them.  When I married and moved out of my parent’s residence, having my own home, the group who attended had the opportunity of no parental/adult supervision and more freedom.  In those early days there were very few alternative sources for enjoying a game on a regular basis.  Shops did not having gaming facilities and the clubs (really good ones in the day) only met on fortnightly or monthly basis (not too sure on the frequency, memories a little hazy) mostly on Sundays.  Younger readers may not remember that Queensland operated with a half day trade on Saturday with Sunday finding almost everything shut.  There was no internet, no mobile phones, no modern conveniences that people take for granted today.  Groups were formed, in my case, through friends and people knowing people (and inviting them along) to University and eventually finding the clubs operating at the time.  From my perspective looking back I found that people were easier to communicate and bond with than today.  Of course it may have just been the age syndrome of youth versus older mindsets and the flexibility it entails.

Where am I going with this (yes I do meander?)  Times may have changed but the human condition has not.  If you feel that you have to entice people to game at your residence with “benefits”, then all you may attract are leeches.  They only hang around because you are providing something which costs them little or nothing to do what they like doing.  I have been blessed with the fact my wife worked in a games store and knew the man she was marrying.  She had no difficulty with associating with my group or with the disruption to home life, not everyone has that understanding partner.  The number of people I’ve known who’ve dropped their interests because of partners or children is not uncommon, as it was in the past so it is today. When it comes to children I have even known of circumstances where persons would not come over for games because of them - the same applies for pets, cats and dogs, it’s amazing what people won’t tolerate.  In the mid 80’s I had my first break down and the group did not accept this or prepare to accommodate me back into the group even with my apologies. While society politely lies to itself that it is non-discriminatory, it is not, especially when it comes to mental illness.  In the 80’s it was almost unheard of for compassion or understanding from the community, you were ostracised and made to feel humiliated.

I have written previously on my blog that the people you associate with and in this case game with will most likely not be the same as time progresses.  In my case the original group that I knew 30 years ago, only one is still gaming with me.  Of the groups I have known since then (with the exclusion of the present), less so, I’d say zero.  As I get older I find that I’m either outliving my associates and friends, they move away, or they no longer wish to associate with me.  My circle of opportunity grows smaller each year; my greatest bugbear is the age gap now.  It has been refreshing to see an influx of youth into my hobby, but with that comes the peculiar discrimination of age. 

Right I’m back looking at the article and relating it to an old man.  For example - I go to a local hobby store or club and hang around looking for a gaming buddy... I think I can almost hear your minds taking the wrong track.  Everyone is younger than you; you are trying to find someone who wants to be your gaming buddy, you can offer them “benefits” with a home based venue.  So I can almost guess people are going to cry “paedophile/deviant”, if you go to venues where there are young children ( up to 17) then you can feel even more threatened by public perception.  It’s difficult to find people who are prepared to accept you on age, just like people’s inability to deal with those suffering from illnesses.  The article only applies where you fall within acceptable parameters of social acceptance. 

My personal rant or call it what you will...
As I have mentioned in the past I have a magnificent collection of games built up over 30 plus years, with more than sufficient space for games and entertainment.  I am with my age and the vagaries of personal circumstances restricted to home or close venues for my gaming enjoyment.  I am particular about who I want to game with and who I invite into my residence.  I learnt that offering enticements through generosity have amounted to zero improvement of chances to game (without attracting leeches) so I no longer offer them.  Though I am still prone to be generous, it’s my nature – pity some take advantage of it.  If people cannot see the opportunity they are missing that I can offer then I’m not going to “prostitute” myself to obtain a gaming buddy or new group of home based gamers.  Of course suffering from my personal daemons makes life extremely hard and I don’t expect people to understand nevertheless feel sympathy for. 

Till next time.

The Hon. John