Monthly Archives: October 2016

New Job = Less Gaming?

To answer the question posed: yes.

Almost two months ago, I started a new job. I am the coordinator of the small extension campus for Prince William Sound College in the Copper Basin (Glennallen, AK). I also started teaching History 101 Western Civilizations I. I had all summer off, so there seemed to be ample time for gaming when not hiking and exploring the state.

That being said, I now have a dedicated gaming space where I can leave games set-up, so that will be a huge bonus to my being able to fully explore and complete play of most of my games! Yay! Really, having such a space makes a huge difference in our shared hobby.

Now, let’s talk about a few games!

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raid-riposte

Raid & Riposte, 2nd ed., by LNL Publishing.

 

Never having played the original, I was about to pull the trigger on purchasing a copy when I saw that it was going to be updated and rereleased. I waited patiently, and it has finally arrived.

As with all of the LNL reprints, the counters are smart, thick, and practically fall out of their sprues without having to tug or pop them. The map artwork is phenomenal and displays quite a bit of topographical game information directly on the terrain regions.

The rulebook is good, but I noticed an error and called upon the wonderfully available David Heath, owner/publisher at LNL, to clarify what I had discovered. He was surprised by my discovery but acknowledged that I had found something was amiss. In the rulebook description of the counters and the information printed on them, the rules indicate locations on the counters for attack strengths and so-forth which don’t match with the counters themselves. That’s because they lifted the rules from the original game which had different counter configurations than the newly released version. Oops.

I’d imagine someone got a talking-to the following Monday morning. Hopefully, the print run wasn’t too massive.

As far as gameplay, Raid & Riposte is quick and dirty. It’s a Cold War what-if scenario with a low unit count that utilizes area movement over hexes. In the one game I’ve played, the Soviets started off strong, but the NATO reinforcements were too much over the course of the game and eventually whittled the Reds down and out. Oh, and I love the sniper! I do wonder though if such a one person unit could really suppress and then take out a tank?

Raid & Riposte will be hitting the table again, soon.

temple-of-ee

Temple of Elemental Evil by Wizards of the Coast

 

As an old-school roleplayer, I am constantly searching for the end-all system or board game that will transport me across the decades and back to those memorable days in the late 1970s. As far as actual RPG systems, I may have found one that fits well with my family adventuring group I’m trying to start for the winter season which is rapidly approaching. I’ll discuss that system in a future blog.

As far as board games go, the quest continues. The ultimate roleplaying boardgame would need to feature character and story progression, the latter in some form of tied game sessions that form an arc or campaign. Flipping that around, the game should contain a randomized function wherein the player characters can do a one-shot dungeon or adventure while still progressing. I know, I know, there’s always the original Warhammer Quest. I do have the card game that was released a year ago, but the original board game is long out of print and woefully expensive. The title has been resurrected into Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower and reviews for this latest iteration suggest it’s on par with the first game. The card game is great, I might add, but Fantasy Flight Games recently announced they were cutting ties with Games Workshop, so the card game will not likely see any supplements.

Still, I delved into the Temple of Elemental Evil (ToEE) with great expectations. This is the second game in the D&D Adventure System I’ve tried in the last five years, the first being The Wrath of Ashardalon (WoA) which was released in 2011. The components are pretty good, the tiles made of sturdy cardboard that lock-together nearly seamlessly to form the dungeon world being explored. The miniatures are molded plastic and have a good amount of detail. The various cards for encounters, monsters and treasures are not as thick as a deck of poker cards, but serviceable.

The rules are straight-forward, and there’s really no need to house rule. I did, though, but only for one mechanic. See, characters are supposed to have encounters when they aren’t exploring, the mechanic for the latter an intricate part of the game flow. The rules state that encounters are binding, that they must occur if “A & B” conditions are met. Those conditions can occur in the middle of combat. So, whilst taking on a group of ogres, one member of the group meets the conditions for an encounter and in the middle of a battle they draw an encounter card. Thus they will meet or have occur an encounter with some one, thing, or event, that does not jive with the action taking place. It kills the immersion at times, and while some of the encounters might very well seem a natural occurrence, like an earthquake, some of them are completely out of place. Thus, I determined that no encounters will take place for characters during combat.

Unlike WoA, this latest game in the series does allow for certain character progression beyond simply attaining 2nd level. And there’s actually a town nearby, formed with the game board tiles, where some of the adventures take place. It’s filled with various NPCs, and allows for training characters after between adventures in the campaign arc. Such “training” is purchased in the form of Advance Tokens that allow a permanent increase to your character through combat, healing, and so forth. Still, your character never goes above 2nd level.

So, while the game is fun, and it does contain the trappings of an excellent roleplaying board game, it still doesn’t scratch the itch I’ve been hoping to find.

The quest continues…

paydirt

Paydirt, 1980 ed., by Sport’s Illustrated.

 

Football season is upon us, and I always get a little nostalgic for a little gridiron board gaming during this time of the year. So, I brought out this classic and played the first game of the 1980 Miami Dolphin season against the Buffalo Bills. The score of my game was 19-6, the Bills completely shutting out the Dolphins by only allowing them two field goals. The actual game saw a very similar score, Bills winning 17-7.

Wow! For a game based entirely on statistical data taken over the course of one year, it doesn’t get much closer than that to a true simulation. What’s interesting is how the data is compiled, wherein every game of every team is watched, run through a series of algorithms which then produces the team charts for the next year. So, the 1980 season is based on the actual performances from 1979. Perhaps there was some subtle attrition or devaluing of player statistics to take into account the offseason affect, too? Regardless, the system works and reflects an accurate simulation of football.

And the tradition of Paydirt lives on in Data-Driven Football (DDF). Maintained by Ron Pisarz, Jr., DDF is available as both a board and PC game and is available for the current season. Some older seasons are available, too. What’s great is that Ron explains his design process of compiling the year-to-year data so I’m not left scratching my head wondering how this game magically seems to get the simulation down without any effort. The game is 95% spot-on to its real-life counterpart. I own the PC version of DDF, and I recently played the first Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs game from 1972, the Chiefs getting crushed by the ‘Fins, 41-27. The actual game found the Dolphins in the win category, 20-10, and they would go on to win Super Bowl VII and become the first (and only) team to go undefeated in an entire NFL season. Yet, as indicated, my win against the real game was wildly different in the scoring…which is why I gave DDF a 95% accuracy.

And, yes, I’m a glutton for punishment: I’ve been a Miami Dolphins fan most of my life. That’s why I play the old seasons, hoping to recapture the former glory of a team that seems in a perpetual downward spiral.

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I have several other games I’m currently meandering through, more of them strategic in nature than these, as well as two separate RPGs. Look for my comments soon.

Thanks for reading, and take care!

Hilary

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