Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: September 2017

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 4

See Recap Day 1 or Recap Day 2 or Recap Day 3

The last day of the Con was here and my big Loopin’ Chewie Tournament was in the morning.  I say “big” because it had apparently sold out all 36 slots.  Last year I had four people show up so this was going to be interesting.

I only brought 6 games of Loopin’ Chewie so I’d have to run the event in two heats.  Maybe next year I’ll run them in separate event heats like X-wing does so that no one has to feel like they are waiting.

I still wasn’t sure what to expect with a sold out event of this size as it was a Sunday and a cheap event so a lot of people might just ditch anyway.  But nope. I had most everyone show up and those seats that were empty quickly filled up with friends of the other participants.  The main reason for the sell out? X-wing.  A group of X-wing tournament players had seen the event listing and all wanted to join in.  Apparently this group had started to play Loopin’ Chewie at some of the bigger X-wing tournament events around the country and found that it was a great way to blow off steam and de-stress during the long tournament runs.

It was a great group of gamers, from young kids who love the game, to a family that came from German where Loopin’ Louie is almost a national past time, and of course the X-wing tournament players.

I can’t thank the participants enough for being great sports and really getting into the game.  I had some diabolical setups for the participants as we ran two main heats of the normal game. To make sure the game didn’t just end quickly for anyone in the first round, we used the “standard” tournament rules (as I understand them) from Alan Moon’s Gathering of Friends event (which used to feature standard Loopin’ Louie tournaments and maybe still does).

In essence, you will play multiple rounds of Loopin’ Chewie where the goal is to be the last player left with a Storm Trooper token in their player zone.  Each time you win one of these mini-rounds, you start the game again but start with one less token.  All players keep playing mini-rounds until one player wins the game starting with only one token.  That player is the winner of the round and will move on to Round 2 of the tournament.

Round 2 ran the same way with the 12 qualifiers from the two round 1 heats playing again.  This round ran in the same fashion, be the player to win the game with only one token at the start.

At the end of Round 2, we had four semi-finalist.  Now I started to make things interesting.  Each of these finalists would pair off for Round 3 and now have two games of Loopin’ Chewie running simultaneously.  The rules revert back to the simpler “last man standing” to keep things moving.

At the end of the Semis, we had two players remaining. For this final round, I upped the ante one more time to really determine the Loopin’ Chewie Champion: 3 games running simultaneously.  This set up had the two “book end” games running just like in the semi-final round but added a third center game that used a piece from the special 6 player adapter mod created by Robert McFadden.  Again, the round was just “last man standing” and it created a pretty epic finale with the winner coming down the last token for each player.

It was a great event and a lot of fun and I can’t wait to run it again next year.

Sunday is usually the lightest day for me but this year it seemed pretty busy with the tournament in the morning and an afternoon event.  In between, I was able to check out a few last things in the exhibition hall.

This pimped out version of the recently Kickstarted Fabled Realms was on display but I didn’t have time to play it.

I was really happy to see oversized Magic: the Gathering back at the Con.  I hadn’t seen this since my very first Gen Con back in 2007.

The Matagot booth was always popular, especially at the Meeple Circus demo tables.  I didn’t get a chance to play but was able to watch enough of a game to see that I was definitely interested in picking it up.  At its heart, it’s a timed dexterity game where you are trying to stack your meeple pieces in certain positions to score points.

Finally, I made it over to my afternoon event, a full game demo of Rayguns and Rocketships.

This is a nice tactical miniatures board game which plays like an updated four player Broadsides and Boarding Parties.  You crew a ship and have scenario goals to earn victory points.  Once one player reaches a certain victory point amount, the game finishes out the round and the highest score wins.

You have two tactical boards, one is the space board that has each player’s starship which can shoot each other to damage their tactical ship board.  The ship board contains your crew and must be moved about and interacted with to move your ship and fire guns. You can also be boarded and attacked directly.  The game has a lot of freedom to it and was very swashbucklery.  I wouldn’t mind porting a lot of the rules over to my copy of Broadsides and Boarding Parties as this really is a great system for that classic game.  The game itself is also well made and fun enough to pick up on its own as well.

So that concludes my Gen Con 50 experience.  It was a great convention and easily one of the top 3 in my eleven years going.  It’s sad that the popularity has outgrown it’s venue and our success at this convention will be up to the housing lottery but maybe we’ll find a more consistent way to attend in the future.

I came home with more swag than usual as I picked up several promo sets like the Sparky Super Dog promo for the upcoming Flick ’em Up: Dead of Winter, Adrenaline and Santorini Dice Tower promo cards, out of print Evolution promos and two event promos, one for Rayguns and Rocketships and the other for A Song of Ice and Fire minis game. I talked to the guys at Win Go Games about what it takes to publish and they gave me a sample box filled with a lot of their production samples.  Then there is the Flip Ships game and miniature portal terrain I picked up.

Lastly I picked my Gen Con 50 dice and dice bag.  The one shown above is the oversized edition (followed by the last ten years of the standard ones) but I also picked up the standard sized one for this year and another “commemorative set” as a nice bookend to my 2007-2017 Gen Con attendance.

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 3

See Recap Day 1 or Recap Day 2

Just like Friday, my friend and I cleared Saturday morning to run over to the Mythic Games booth and try out the other scenario.  This scenario is supposed to show the games non-fantasy options and be less narrative and focused more on strategy.

In this scenario, the English have secured a cargo of goods and gold and are transporting it back to the safety of their village.  The French have caught them in the open and are looking to destroy the English or prevent them from getting any of the cargo back to the village.  Just like in the Werewolf scenario, this game will last six rounds.

A couple of new units were introduced in this scenario as well as some tactical game options.  My English group was comprised of archers and mounted archers with a Man-at-Arms group waiting for me at the village.  I could also raise archer stakes to help block movement and give me a little defense bonus if thing get into melee. The French was mainly comprised of a bunch of knights on horseback and some Man-at-arms units.

This scenario did not play out as great as the Werewolf scenario as I decided to quickly make a bunch of archer stakes around my forces to block off the incoming knights.  I focused mainly on the border to my North as I thought the knights to my West would take too long to get to me.  I also was able to pick up a Priest figure that was in the open near the town and move one of my cargo wagons closer to home.  I don’t automatically win if I get to town as I have to hold it there until the end of the sixth round but I figured I might as well get going.

After my turn I was thinking I had this game in the bag. My opponent was wondering the same thing and thought this was maybe a little weighted too much in favor of the English.  He plugged along anyway and started with his knights on my left.

Neither of us really had a good feel for how the pacing of the game works or the power of certain units but my friend started pushing through with his knights and crossed over to me quickly.  I failed to completely surround my rear flank with archer stakes and those knights made me pay dearly for that error.

The knights came about the bottom side of my rear and completely wiped out my archers in that space, then freely moved in and repeated that process until they were out of action cubes.  Unfortunately, this round gave us a ton of action cubes and those French tore through my entire caravan, killing absolutely every unit I had on the board (or knocking them out to reinforce later) except my lone Man-at-Arms and newly acquired Priest.

We were both shocked at the effectiveness of those knights.  I would say that maybe it was dice luck but my units don’t have much defense and the French knights rolled a ton of attack dice.  The end result was basically game over in one turn.  We had came all this way so we decided to play it out and the French quickly took my remaining units in the next turn.   Realistically, that is probably how this battle should go if a group of knights are able to break through an archer line but it was pretty crazy to see it happen so easily in a game.  I did make a pretty huge error and would not repeat that mistake but we weren’t able to redo the game in this setting to see if that was the main issue with making this scenario so swingy.

We did stick around to ask the demo giver if that was a pretty typical game or if he’d seen anyone lose that fast.  He gave us probably an even more disturbing answer in that “no” it was not the fastest game he’s seen and in fact, the English side tends to win quickly.  He went on to say that he’s seen games end on the first turn without the French even getting a chance to play as the English archers go first and if the action cubes are decent for the round and you get some good rolls, you can remove most of the knight units and the French won’t have anything to attack you with.

I’m really glad to have seen this potential “ugly” side of the game as I was really excited about it but now I feel like I have a fuller picture of the game’s potential.  Even though that particular scenario feels unbalanced or least extremely unforgiving, I think it shows that the game will be dependent on the strength of the scenarios.  It also looks like you can set up your own non-narrative clashes pretty easily and totally remove the unbalanced set up but making mirror matches or maybe even a “grab any 8 units” Age of Sigmar style game set up.  Archers vs Knights have a very rock, paper, scissor feel in that they kill each other in different ways so in a symmetrical game set up (for the win condition), the need for combined arms sounds necessary and may prevent a situation where taking all of one unit outclasses other build options.  Or worse-case scenario, the narrative scenarios are just better and you only consider the game in that regard.  Either way, I’m still very much excited for the game and can’t wait for it to hit Kickstarter to see all the other game options the system has available.

Saturday was pretty open for me so I was able to check our more of the dealer hall and the next place I stopped was at Fantasy Flight’s booth to see their new Star Wars: Legion game.  Legion is a new 32mm tabletop miniatures game and looked fantastic.

As usual, FFG had some amazing board set ups and it made the game look fantastic.  The game is a squad based miniatures game that is scenario dependent and flexible in game size.  The game takes place in roughly the same Star Wars timeline as their X-wing and Armada games but with a bit more emphasis on the original trilogy for the first core set.

A lot of the typical troops are in the core set with Storm Troopers and Rebel Troopers.  You also have an AT-RT for the Rebels and Speeder Bikes for the Empire.  Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker heroes round out the set.

The heroes act as your commander and set up an interesting gameplay element.  Like Armada, games take place over six rounds.  Each round players will play a command card to determine initiative.  These command cards come in two types, a generic command card that is available to everyone when building your deck and your commander specific command cards which are unique and offer interesting extra options when played.  The command card designates not only initiative but how many units you can specifically activate during the round, usually with faster initiative cards giving you less unit activations.

After specifying your specific unit activations based on the command card played, you take the rest of your activation tokens (specific to each unit you have in play) and they go into a bag to be randomly drawn during the game, simulating a fog of war effect.  Games seem to play in about the same time scale as Armada and other large force minis games but it looks great and I can’t wait to see where the game goes.

Wandering around some more, I sat down and played a shortened version of Z-Man’s new Valletta.  It’s an interesting territory control game/deck builder.  As much as I liked Dominion, I’m really glad designers are looking at the deck building system and applying it to a not-strictly deck builder archetype.  Clank! is a great example of that and Valletta seems to straddle the line very well. It is definitely more deck-buildery than Clank! but it was a fun game.  I lost horribly.

This curious set piece mountain-climbing game, Mountaineers caught my eye.  It was an interesting 3D board that rotates during the round and seemed a bit involved with picking your the routes of your team and potentially sabotaging others.  The art is a little off to me and needs a bit more polish but the game itself seemed interesting.

If you could stand the half-naked dude demo giver, the Arena Rex booth had a great setup of their gladiatorial combat game.

Leder Games had their Vast miniatures up for display and fully painted.  They look great and it’ll be nice to have them on the board when they arrive (sounds like that won’t happen until early 2018 though).  I also sat down to talk with the designer as they had their sister version of the Vast game that takes place in a huge mansion.  It sounded like the new roles in that game will be available to swap in and out of the Crystal Cavern game so that can be an interesting option.

Pretzel Games had an oversized copy of their new Flick ’em Up: Dead of Winter.  I ended up pre-ordering this before the convention so I didn’t really stay very long.  I saw that they were also selling an oversized copy of Flick ’em Up.  I’m not sure what I’d do with an oversized copy of the game except run events at a Conventions.  I do like oversized versions of games and want to build my own but something about this game just doesn’t do it.  I think I may be a little concerned because I like the expansions as well and those aren’t available.  It’s a Catch 22 since they likely won’t make the large-sized expansions unless the large base game sells but I wouldn’t want to buy in unless the expansions were guaranteed as well.

After walking the dealer hall, it was time for my last event of the day.  This year I decided to take a painting seminar.  Since I’ve been painting up my black and white Walking Dead game, I wanted to try out a technique that I’ll need to use for these miniatures: painting non-metallic metals.  This is basically a technique of using non-metallic paint to simulate metallic reflections. The technique is pretty hard but I was hoping this class would get me started.

In looking for some images to show as an example, I stumbled this great blog post from Razza Mini Painting, showing off the technique:

image from Razza Mini Painting

Pretty incredible technique when done well. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go.

I was hoping the teacher would start on something simple like a weapon or just stay with the helmet but he wanted to touch on the different aspects of the mini like the scale skirt vs the helmet vs the breast plate.  In the end we had to rush because he overreached on his time allowance.  I was able to learn a bit (mainly that the technique is damned tough to pull off) so it wasn’t a total waste.  Ironically, I learned more sitting down and talking to one of the Privateer Press painters in the exhibition hall- they have a booth set up just outside their exhibit area dedicated to a staff painter that will be painting a model while fielding questions to whoever is sitting nearby.  I likely learned better in that environment because the class I took was a bit more advanced for my actual skillset and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to ask basic questions.

We ended up skipping the BGG Board Game room Saturday night and just hung out until we crashed.  I had a little bit of work to do to prepare for my morning tournament event so it was a pretty chill evening.

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

So after Gen Con, I thought I’d have more time but sadly, that didn’t happen as I had another trip planned- a belated anniversary trip to Scotland.

Scotland was sufficiently moody and fantastic but very light on gaming.

I still have some Gen Con recaps I want to finish up but the events of this weekend are still fresh in my mind so I’ll start there instead.

The biggest thing this weekend was the reveal of the Batman Miniature Game 2.0 rules.  The rules and compendium are available on Knight Models’ website for free download. Some enterprising Facebook posters had the good idea to run the PDFs over to Staples and make copies.

Sadly, that endeavor runs about $56 and that is way too much for a first draft rulebook.  I assume the printed final one will run only slightly more than that. I liked the spirit of the idea so I decided to go cheap and print in black and white.

This ended up being only $16 and I will now be looking at Staples for future such printing needs as the cheapest I could get it done at FedEx Office was still over $25.  The quality is poor but I didn’t print these to look at the pretty pictures, I just wanted a physical rules reference book.

I read some summaries online and then blitzed through the new edition and set up a game for the weekend.

While waiting for my friend to arrive, I pulled out Flip Ships to run through some solo dexterity action.  Flip Ships was one of my Gen Con acquisitions but is due out now or very soon from Renegade Games.

At it’s core, Flip Ships is essentially Galaga in a dexterity board game medium.  In between Gen Con and our Scotland trip, the missus and I threw this one down on the table and found it very fun.  I’ve been eager to hit it again and this was a good opportunity to try it out alone.

To play, you flip your ships off the edge of the table, into the air, and try to land on the incoming enemy fighter ships.  When you do, you destroy them and more come out.  Eventually you run through the enemy fighters and have to face off against the mothership (that ominous box in the backfield).  To attack the mothership, you have to flip your ships into that box to damage her.  This can be done any time during the game but if you wait until the end, you only get one round to finish it off and win the game.

I did just that and completely failed to get even one of my fourteen ships into the motherbox and ultimately lost the game.

I doomed Earth and decided I needed more practice before trying this one again.  Great fun though.

My friend arrive just in time to see my humiliating defeat and so we moved on to the main event: Batman 2.0

Using our light up lamps to set up the moody world of dark Gotham, we discussed some of the rules changes and decided to simplify the game and remove the objectives (this having nothing to do with the fact that we both forgot about prepping the objectives and not having enough for a proper game…).

We decided to move up to 200 points so that meant I could add my favorite sculpt from the Suicide Squad starter set, the Panda Man!  Nothing says wacky fun like a silly panda costumed villain toting a high-end assault rifle.

My friend swapped out one of his regular cops with my Commissioner Gordon.

Using my B/W Walking Dead scenery to fill in for Gotham, we set up and were ready to play.  Scenario 3 (Patrol) was pretty easy, especially since we ditched objective markers.  It centered around getting the first damage in and then leaving a non-Boss character in the opponent’s deployment zone (the two corners of the map).

The game opens easily with both our teams focused on moving out.  We quickly realize that to even get to the opponent’s deployment zone, we’ll have to use the sewers (lamely represented by the Riddler question mark in the above image). The rules for sewers have changed a little in that they act more like teleporters now.  While this makes things a bit odd story-wise, it does improve the gameplay as we saw last time, going into the sewers can lead to some pretty boring turns as characters are out of the game for at least one full round.

My friend send Gordan into the sewers and decides to pull him up on the other side of the map but in striking distance of Batman, standing sentinel on the rooftop. Unfortunately, the sewer Gordan chose was really close to a lamppost which means he was lit up for everyone to see. Including… Panda Man!

Lucky for me, I could just shift over a little and take a nice long range shot at the Commissioner.  “Ping!” rules for the game changed and were simplified so that instead of rolling for “Ping!” for each intervening piece of terrain between you and the target, you check to see if there is anything and roll one per hit.  For each successful “Ping!” roll, a hit would be negated.  I was able to hit him on the single shot so I drew first blood and got a VP for it.  I also drew the first activation next turn and with Panda Man lined up I could unload for my full rate of fire (3 shots).  All three hit but one was eventually deflected by the “Ping!” roll.  The other two landed home and I got a crit, which was enough to drop Gordon.

Not allow me an activation advantage, Batman swoops down on Eyeball Man and throws a massive 6 attacks against my pathetic defense and Eyeball Man goes down hard.

My friend knows what I’m going to do and I send Joker into the sewers (after whiffing horribly at some short range shots on Batman) pop up right next to Gordon and curb stomp him into oblivion on the next turn.  Fat Cop decides to be heroic and intervene. At the end of the round, Gordan wakes up but Eyeball Man is still unconscious.

Gordon activates first and jumps into the sewers very much wounded but has a job to do as he can arrest Eyeball Man (assuming he stays unconscious) and remove him from the game permanently.

This leaves me with Joker and a very worried Fat Cop.

Joker proceeds to beat the holy hell out of one of Gotham’s finest. Fat Cop puts up a little bit of a fight and lands a blow on Joker but it does nothing to stop his fate.

For the last round, I’m presented with a choice, neither of which will change the outcome but I’d been sneaking Panda Man (who had run out of ammo and was pretty useless) to the opponent’s deployment zone but Batman was close enough to swoop in and take him down.  Joker also really wanted to kill off Fat Cop as that seems to be his MO in all our games.  Going with one, leaves the other one vulnerable.  I decide to let Panda Man fat-suit hustle to the deployment zone and leave Joker to take his licks.

Batman swoops in but totally whiffs his 6 attack rolls and Joker is left to smile and straight up murder Fat Cop in front of Batman.  No wonder the Caped Crusader can’t sleep at night.

To add insult to injury, Joker then disappears into the sewer to pop up right behind Gordon.  If we had another game round, I’d be beating down the good old Commissioner as well but alas, the game ended with that final round.

Gordon does his civic duty and arrests Eyeball Man and that ends the game.

Joker Crew: 8 victory points

Brave and the Bold: 2 victory points

The game ended a bit lopsided but we were fumbling through rules, weren’t using objectives, made some mistakes, and didn’t even buy equipment to augment our crews.  With 2.0 out, we’ve got a good taste of what is going on so we’ll prepare a bit better for the next session.  All in all, it was still a fun game and quite a good story.

As a little post script, right before Gen Con, I painted up the Golden Fleece figure for the Santorini expansion of the same name and played a few more games to conclude that game’s 6 x 6 challenge.

We tried the Golden Fleece expansion out a couple of times and found it pretty interesting. It made for some closer games so we’ll definitely use it more in the future.

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