Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: catacombs

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 2

As I said in my Day 1 report, seeing the Time of Legends: Joan of Arc display case had me ditching events to check it out in the dealer hall.   My friend and I lined up at the appropriate entrance and bee-lined to the Mythic Games booth to sit down for a demo as soon as the hall opened.

This game isn’t a full tabletop minis game but it really tries to blur the line between board game and miniatures game. The design immerses you in the setting by adding physical terrain pieces instead of cardboard templates or drawn in graphics.  The miniatures themselves help limit the need for any text or rules on the actual play surface as every thing it taken care of on stat cards set off to the side.

The system is supposedly set up to handle full-on tactical combat scenarios where the goal is mainly combat focused, as well as combat light or even no combat “investigation” scenarios that will play more like a deduction board game.  This second type of game wasn’t really explained in much detail and no purely deductive scenario was available so I’m not sure how that will really work.

Instead, they had a hybrid scenario that combined the combat elements with the investigation style mechanics.  This particular scenario centered around a werewolf hiding in the village and the local Lord called in to help deal with the issue.  All the scenarios in Joan of Arc are rich in historical mythology of the era and this scenario was no exception. The rules will talk about an actual legend from the time period that the particular scenario is dealing with this one featuring a village overrun by wolves and stolen church artifacts.  The priest in the village asked for the Lord of the area to help and so we have one side playing the French Lord hero coming into the village with the priest.

The other player is playing the werewolf.  The wolf is hidden as one of the villagers, secretly chosen at the beginning of the game. The wolf player needs to survive 6 rounds and the French player needs to discover the werewolf and kill him.

The game is played in game rounds, each player taking their entire turn before the other player takes their turn.  Turns are given a set number actions depending on the unique card that is revealed at the start of the round. These actions are then allocated as the player sees fit until they are either done and want to save actions for later or they have no more actions to spend.  The actions available vary per scenario but basic actions are moving and interacting (or attacking).

What struck me as interesting in this game were the varied action options.  In this scenario, I could ride in with my hero and priest and talk to a witch living in a nearby glade (on the map). Talking with her was done through a randomly drawn card by the opposing player. That player read the two discussion options I had and then, after I chose which path to take, told me the result.

Later, I had the chance to interrogate the villagers, one of whom is the werewolf.  If my knight is doing the interrogation, he rolls a die and a positive result means the other player must answer my question truthfully (yes or no questions only). If the result fails, they can lie or ignore me.  If I want to be ruthless, I can just start cutting down the villagers but this is risky in that each villager I kill that isn’t the werewolf burns an entire turn, accelerating the ending and my loss.  I must confess, I grew frustrated with these stupid peasants and their lies (couldn’t roll a success to save my life) so I did chop one innocent down. It didn’t bring the others in line…

The priest, however, can ask villagers questions but they can’t lie (no die roll).  These questions are always yes or no answers (no “who is the werewolf” instant win questions).  Finally, I asked the right question and the werewolf was revealed. The options in this game expand ever more as the buildings aren’t just pretty terrain, you can go inside them (via a cut out template depicting the interior) and gain clues or items or more. The werewolf turned out to be a villager that had made its way into a secret crypt in the church and was busy praying to it’s dark God.

I surrounded the church and fought my way in, past the werewolf’s wolf pack guards and cornered the beast in the crypt.  With one turn remaining, I was able to score the killing blow on the last die roll to win the game.  It created a very epic story and my friend and I enjoyed the game so much, we cleared Saturday morning to race over and play the other scenario.

While I was standing around chatting with the designers, another of the werewolf scenarios was wrapping up and ended in equally epic style with a last round, last die roll werewolf kill. Bodes well for game balance, at least for new players.  The game comes to Kickstarter October 10th and I will definitely be backing this excellent game.

Having wrapped up what will end up being the best new game at the Con, I walked around the Mythic Games booth to see the Monolith Games side as they had another game I was interested, their new Batman game.

They had a great looking display and with the game “engine” based on their Conan game, I thought it might be pretty interesting. I checked out the models in the display case and they all looked great.

Probably having nothing to do with the great diorama they set up.

Then something struck me.  That diorama looked great and really set the tone for the game I’d really like to play.  But when I looked over at the demo table…

Hmm… I want to play the scene that is going on in that display case, not the drab 2D map with board-gamey lines all over it.  Then it hit me, I do play the game in the case with Knight Models’ Batman Miniature Game.  With this (obvious) epiphany, I moved on without even trying a demo.

Having ditched my only event, for the day, I had plenty of time to wander. So I went searching for some industry friends and checked out some other interesting dealer hall items.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 had a preview demo going on but I avoided it to not witness any spoilers.

Santorini had a great giant version of the game set up for play.

The event hall had a massive 54 mm fantasy pirate game going on with this awesome 3D ship detailing multiple levels.

I jumped upstairs to see if CGE had anything to show for the new Adrenaline Expansion but all they had was this oversized mock up model of the 6th player pawn.

Spin Master Games is making a nice version of Hnefatafl.  Talking with the production team onsite, I learned they are also making a realistically priced version of Kubb.  I’m really interested to see where this goes.

I caught none other than Lord Snow playing the new Game of Throne themed Catan.  He’s playing red, smart man.

Having exhausted the afternoon in the dealer hall and environs, it was time for me to get to work.  I decided to run a few events of my own again this year, starting with Pitchcar in a “death race” variant I made up.

I’ll do a write up about these custom pieces later but this event featured my new 3D cut car discs.  These were created in CAD and then CNC’d on existing crokinole discs.  Some easy painting later and my complete set of eight cars were ready for this premiere event.

The group loved it and the rules variant held up very well.  I even ended up overselling the event because someone really wanted to join in the game.  It was great fun and had a ton of lead changes and disc flicking shenanigans. After Pitchcar, I went straight into 4 hours of Catacombs games.

These events were also sold out and filled with a lot of fun gamers ready to delve into the flick-filled dungeon.  A couple of surprises were in store for the players as I had some early promos to hand out from Catacombs Conquest (the recent Kickstarter) and I premiered my 3D board that made earlier.   Halfway through the event, Aron West of Elzra Games stopped by and was able to talk to some of the players and even finished out the finale of one of the games.

I brought out the custom Rat King disc that the Catacombs Artist, Kwanchai Moriya, had made for me.  And I also was able to provide the Wyverns of Wylemuir expansion for some enthusiastic Catacombs fans to try out.

The players seemed to have a lot of fun and it was great seeing them all enjoy the games. The event finished a little after midnight so I packed it all up and headed back to the hotel to crash.

Catacombs: An Experiment In 3D

Catacombs, the dexterity disc-flicking dungeon crawl game, is easily my favorite dexterity game out there.  I’m a big fan of dexterity games anyway but Catacombs has always struck me as the perfect balance between dexterity game and narrative story.

catacombs box cover from the publisher (on BGG)

I’ve had my 3rd edition copy for awhile now and I got it in my head to take the game layout, which is in a 2D layout with obstacles, to 3D.  This concept is one I’ve explored before but never with Catacombs proper.  With the CNC machine up and running, this gave me the best opportunity to try out some experiments.

One map in particular stood out in particular as the perfect starting point.  The Altar Chamber map (as I call it) looked like a great fit so I took some photos (the board is bigger than my scanner) and uploaded it to Illustrator.  In Illustrator, I traced the central altar piece and converted it to an .svg to import into my CAD program. From there, I tweaked the measurements and created the file for a test milling.

The test print came out very near perfect for the measurements.  The ramp was only roughed in (that’s why it has that stair-stepped look to it) and I plan on smoothing it out on a sander.

I then added the other side to the layout to complete the rough first step.  I sanded the ramps smooth to a sharp point then primed the two pieces dark grey and sealed them.  Finally, I went back to my initial photo image and printed, cut, and mounted it to the two pieces.

The effect came out very well.  The pieces still fit well after the layers of primer and sealant and even though my printer is inferior to the professional board image printers, it still came out well enough to not be distracting.

So the big question is, did it work? Well, no. Mechanically it doesn’t quite do it.  The ramps are about as smooth as I can make them but still catch the discs sometimes and rebounds them backwards.  A big issue is that the Catacombs discs are flat walled cylinders with pretty sharp corners.  This means they catch even the slighted unevenness and bounce back.  Crokinole and Pitch Car discs have bevel or rounded edges to them so it takes a lot of gap in the tiles or ramps to have them bounce bad.

I could bevel the bottom edges of my Catacombs pieces but I think that is overkill.  At the end of the day, I may just ditch the ramp concept altogether and variant a “jump” ability where you use a card as your ramp and flick up that to get to the higher levels of the terrain.  I was already going to introduce that concept for the ranged attacks so it might be easier to add a movement/melee shot option for it is as well.  In any case, I like the look and the feel of the piece and I’m glad to see my CNC performed within the necessary tolerances to produce this piece.

Catacombs: Wyverns of Wylemuir Preview

I got a nice surprise in the mail the other day, an advanced copy of the next Catacombs expansion, Wyverns of Wylemuir.  I helped Elzra Games proofread the manual and components and as a fantastic thank you gesture, they sent me my copy early. This is a full expansion similar to Cavern of Soloth so you need the base game to play it.  I believe there are a couple of other copies floating around as it was available to purchase at Dice Tower Con.

This cover is my favorite box cover of the whole line.  I like how Kwanchai is continuing with the circle motif of the series and the inner picture is dramatic and compelling.

Because there is a brand new board in the box, it came out in the same large footprint size as the base game.

Elzra Games is learning from some of the challenges of their previous offerings and have included a box insert to keep the wood pieces from crashing around too much. I know a lot of people hate box inserts but these games can really use it for care during shipping if nothing else.  A little side note for those that pick this game up later, the new board is under the box insert.

Now that we have everything open, lets look at the contents:

  • 1 double-sided game board
  • 2 Heroes
  • 2 Catacomb Heroes (used in the Catacombs & Castles set)
  • 8 Wyverns
  • 2 Catacomb Lords
  • 5 Monster Groups
  • 11 Room Cards
  • 5 Items
  • 2 Catacombs & Castles Catacomb Warriors
  • 4 Attack Templates

In terms of raw extra content, it’s not quite as heavy as the Caverns of Soloth expansion but it makes up for it in the brand new content like the Wyverns and Attack Templates as well as adding a new game double-sided game board to the mix.

Here we have the stars of the expansion, the new Wyverns.  Elzra Games did a clever thing here where there are eight unique Wyverns and two copies of each so that both the Hero and the Catacomb sides can each run the same Wyvern if they want. Each disc has another Wyvern on the other side.

A sample of some of the new monsters.   Most of the monsters employ the new Attack Templates, which I’ll get into later in the post.

Two new Catacomb Lords and two new Heroes. One thing that both the Heroes and Catacomb Lords have in common is they all get to start the game with their own Wyvern.

Two new board layouts (double-sided), each detailing a great new outdoor scene.

Another nice addition is some of the promo cards that have been released at conventions. Elzra Games has moved away from a strictly exclusive model for promos and Kickstarter items and here we see some of the results of these releases like the Shadowlithe Fist ability for the Thief and the Teleport Chicken ability for the Chicken Hero. Adding to the group are two new template-centric options, one ability for the Skeleton Hero and the other is an item that the Dwarf Miner can start with.  Both are really interesting options for these lower tier heroes, especially the Dwarf Miner’s Rune Axe as it is a permanent item that allows him to use the ability all the time.  Quite a boon for a hero I put at the back of the pack in my strategy guides.

Here we have an example of Hyba, one of the new heroes, riding one of the Wyverns, the Wylamander.  The card abilities for the Wyverns are divided into three sections starting with the upper left ability section.  This section is the same for all the Wyverns in that it allows the hero to perform a melee shot with the Wyvern followed by the new “Wyvern Strike” shot.  The Wyvern Strike acts like a Rush shot but if you strike an opponent disc, you gain a Wyvern Claw token.  These tokens can later be spent to activate one of the other Wyvern abilities.  In the example above, Hyba spent one claw to use the Wylamander’s second ability, placing the ring template and hitting two Succubus monsters.

Later in the game, Hyba has earned more Wyvern Claws and spends them on the Wylamander’s third ability, using the spread template to hit more Succubus monsters.

In this last example, we look at one of the coolest items, the Wyvern Familiar.  This little guy looks like a ton of fun as he’s permanent, like all familiars, but if you look at his life, he has “-” like Antients and the new Wyverns which means he is invulnerable to damage.  An unkillable familiar seems very interesting but his only way to deal damage is through the short template.  This will make for a very challenging attack as you will want to get close to a monster to use the short template but with a bit of finesse since if you hit too hard, you risk knocking your target out of range.

As is likely no surprise, I’m really excited about this expansion and all the new options it brings.  The template powers bring a bit more finesse to the game as power flicking discs will generally be less effective than subtle shots that put you in perfect template range.

I’m not sure when this expansion hits the full release or Kickstarter but Elzra Games is currently running a quick Kickstarter Campaign for another game in the Catacombs series, Catacombs Conquest.  Conquest is a light, quick, card-driven version of the game meant for new players and quick, open-table play.

Convention Season Prelude

This past weekend kicked off the start of my usual convention season prep with the annual Gen Con event registration.  This will be my eleventh Gen Con and one would think I’d be used to the stress and frustration of their event registration process but no such luck.

I can’t complain though. This is the 50th anniversary of Gen Con so there is a lot of demand for hot events and so getting into those requires some blind luck.  I was happy to make it into one of the sold out event slots for CMON’s upcoming Song of Ice and Fire miniatures game and I’m excited to go see They Might Be Giants.  I’ve wanted to see that band live for years now so having an exclusive event sounds like a great way to hear them.

image from the publisher via BGG

Another event that has me excited is a run-through of the co-op variant of X-wing Miniatures, Heroes of the Aturi Cluster.  I’ve loved X-wing since my first starter box at the premiere in Gen Con 2012 and this fan-made co-op variant sounds like a lot of fun.  The designers of the variant have the whole print-n-play available for download but it’ll be great to see it all ready to go and be taught the system first hand.

image from IDW Games kickstarter campaign

Some other demo events like Blood & Plunder and Rayguns & Rocketships round out my schedule with an interesting workshop on painting non-metallic metals (NMM) as a non-gaming event.  The NMM event is interesting for my black & white Walking Dead game as I’m not sure how to really paint items like Michonne’s katana in true black and white.  I could cheat and paint with metallics but that sounds like it would be pretty out of place.

blood & plunder image from firelock games site

With the good comes the bad or maybe just disappointing.  It was odd to see that Mantic didn’t have much presence for Walking Dead: All Out War.  It seems to be selling very well for them but the only events were a bunch of duplicated one-off events and I’m not even sure the organizer is from Mantic.  Maybe they were late submitting the events and they’ll come in later.

Also disappointing was the lack of any Championship Formula Racing from Jolly Roger/Upper Deck.  They hosted some demo events last year and with the games release, I would have expected at least something.

I wasn’t able to get into any Wasteland Express Delivery events to try that game out. Someone also had an interesting “Mario Kart” version of X-wing they were going to run at 2 hours but cancelled all of the events at the last minute.  There is another similar event but it is a bit longer at 5 hours and I just don’t have the schedule for that.

Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised that all the events I decided to run this year have sold out.  That is very exciting as I had a lot of fun last year running things like my Loopin’ Chewie tournament and I’m excited to get some additional dexterity games like my favorite Catacombs and a Pitchcar variant into the event roster.

As exciting as Gen Con 50 is shaping up to be, it is still a few months off and I have another event coming up right around the corner: Cabin Con!

This is our yearly little private gathering where a few friends and I go up into the mountains and geek out on all things board games for a few days.  I’ve already got some fun events planned and it should be a great time.

CabinCon 2016 Recap part 2

So Thursday was technically over and Friday had begun but I was still keyed up from The Walking Dead game I ran and winning a game of Liar’s Dice so our resident night owl and I started up a game of Mottainai before calling it quits and heading to bed.

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Some of the early risers hit Patch Work and one of the out of towners and I started up the new App-assisted Co-op version of Descent: Road to Legend.

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Descent: Road to Legend actually took quite awhile but was a lot of fun.  In the meantime, the others tried out Weilong and hit a game of Tummple!

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After the Epic Descent and Tummple! games, VS System was hit again and then a few of us took off to go do some archery in the woods while the rest stayed behind and played Knight Models Marvel Universe Miniatures Game. The resident photographer went “arching,” so no pictures though the Marvel minis were painted up and looked amazing.  Maybe someone will have some pics to share…

The archers got back later and joined in a few futile games of Space Alert.  While the doomed crew of Space Alert were busy getting their ass kicked, the rest of the guys hit Tiny Epic Galaxies.  We closed with a quick game of Riff Raff before we headed out to dinner at our staple “out night” establishment- Poncho and Lefty’s.

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Pancho and Lefty’s came and went and we were back at the cabin to try out the last installment of our Walking Dead: All Out War homebrew game.  This time the adventure played out at the cabin we were staying and, with a little overzealous zombie distribution by me, the game seemed to maintain the tension and excitement of our first session.

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The cabin stage is set… for the dead.

It can be dangerous to force a second epic game after the first one is successful as the second session rarely matches the interest of the first and tends to just drag on but this one worked well and the guys had a lot of fun.

victorious heroes (who don't look at explosions)

victorious heroes (who don’t look at explosions)

Everyone was still up and ready for more gaming after our close victory in Walking Dead so we broke out Lift It!

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This game was the perfect follow up to the serious and complex minis game we just finished up as it was so ridiculously silly that it served as a great juxtaposition.  It proved crazy and hilarious and was a great ending to the day.

competitors harnessing all the tools at their disposal to out play each other

competitors harnessing all the tools at their disposal to out play each other.

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co-op play!

co-op play!

Saturday started with some early morning Hive fun and then descended into some furious Thunder Road action.

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custom rides take the board

custom rides take the board

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After lunch, we took up a backstabby game of Jolly Roger, complete with real cheaty pirate action, some great Crokinole flicking, and another game of Roll for the Galaxy.

Having been cooped up long enough inside, we went outside to enjoy the weather before a storm could come in with the lawn game Kubb.

laying out the field of battle

laying out the field of battle

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The storm soon ended our outdoor fun and we went into the darkening cabin for some Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. After being a human player and easily getting slaughtered we went back to some dexterity action with my favorite: Catacombs (3rd edition).

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After Catacombs we broke for dinner and hit an epic game of Blood Rage.  It proved too much for group as the game went a bit long and had a mix of experienced and inexperienced players, making for a lopsided victory.

We finished out the late evening with a quick game of Toc Toc Woodman.

Sunday was our pack up day but we had some time and still got in a few games before people had to take off.  I got another Descent: Road to Legend session in while the others hit The Duke and the VS System again.

Descent ended in our defeat this time around so we pushed back into another game of Roll for the Galaxy and ended CabinCon 2016 with a rip through the Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

It was a great time and the perfect length for a gaming getaway.  I’m glad everyone could come out and it was great to see familiar faces and play some great games again.

Stats:

Total games played: 72

Game Play Log Breakdown:

Codenames (6)

High Society (1)

No Thanks! (1)

Liar’s Dice (5)

Delve (12)

VS System (5)

Stone Age (1)

Imperial Assault (1)

The Duke (6)

Roll for the Galaxy (3)

The Walking Dead: All Out War (2)

Mottania (1)

Patch Work (3)

Weilong (1)

Tummple! (1)

Descent: Road to Legend (2)

Marvel Universe Miniatures Game (1)

Space Alert (2)

Tiny Epic Galaxies (1)

Riff Raff (1)

Lift It! (1)

Hive (1)

Thunder Road (1)

Jolly Roger (2)

Crokinole (2)

Kubb (4)

Escape From the Aliens in Outer Space (1)

Catacombs 3e (1)

Blood Rage (1)

Toc Toc Woodsman (1)

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig (1)

 

 

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