4 Reasons You Should Try Dynamite Nurse

I really like deck-building games.  If you check out my Top 10 Games you will see Eminent Domain listed there.  You can also check out my review of    Tanto Cuore — A Better Game Than Expected.  And in the near future, I will post a review of El Alamein, a sequel to the card building game Barbarossa.

Anyway, this brings me to the new game by Japanime Games/Arclight Games: Dynamite Nurse!  And why I think there are 4 reasons you should give it a try!

1 – Japanime Games/Arclight Games have a great track record!

These companies have been pushing out deck-building games for years now.  They not only know how to make a solid game, but the quality of the overall product is excellent.  Cards have great art, box is solid (it’s a standard card box), rules have been play tested well, cards are balanced in terms of power, and the games generally are fun.

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The Dynamite Nurse box

2 – You really, really, really get to mess with each other in this game

Do you like games that resemble multiplayer solitaire, where each player takes a turn but you never really have to fight/mess with any other player, you know games like Race for the Galaxy?  Do you like Euro-style resource management games with rules that discourage direct conflict and give special advantages to players lagging behind?  Do you like cooperative games where everyone works together to accomplish some namby pamby  “save the world” let’s all feel good sort of goal?

Well too bad for you, Dynamite Nurse is the opposite of that!  In Dynamite Nurse each player operates a hospital and your goal is to heal patients.  But much like the real health care industry, if you see some patients that are in really bad shape or critical condition, you can assign them to your opponents’ hospitals.  You get victory points for each patient that you successfully heal and lose points if they die (you get  a Kill Mark).  So heal the patients that you can, and send the ones that might die to your opponents!  And there are plenty of cards that let you inflict pain on other players’ patients.  So if you just plain can’t heal your own patients, make life miserable for everybody else’s patients!

Disclaimer: no actual real-life patients were harmed in the making of this blog. Honest.  Only cardboard facsimiles of anime patients were harmed.

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Clockwise from top left: a Kill Mark card (you get 1 each time one of your patients dies), the backside of the Kill Mark card (listing VP penalties), Reference Letter (i.e. move those sick patients to your opponents’ hospitals), and Passing the Buck (give someone else your sick patient and take their less sick patient).

3 – There are plenty of paths to victory, because there are a lot of different strategies available from the “town” of cards

Like most of Japanime/Arclight Games deck building games, the “town” of available cards to draft is quite extensive.  Thus, there are many ways to victory.  You can concentrate on drafting cards that give you coins (used to buy more powerful cards), you can go for low-cost combo cards (like White Magic), you can concentrate on events, or you can go for cards to mess with your opponents.  There are many choices.  There is even a rule that if you don’t want to buy the top card on the event pile, you can blindly buy the next card underneath it (if you have enough gold to do so).  Also, when you cure a patient you get to draft the top card on the “Nurses” pile.  Sometimes these cards have negative VP, so there is even a sense of strategic timing involved.

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The “town” of cards to draft.  The yellow circles are costs in gold (top right corner) and benefit (bottom left corner), the red health symbols are used to heal patients.

3 – There are three timing mechanisms that add to the strategy

First, there are only 15 Kill Marks.  When the last Kill Mark is drawn the game ends immediately.  So if you better watch that pile (the Kill Marks are stacked from #15 to #1 to let players know how many are left) and plan your strategy to maximize your VP just as the pile runs out.

Second, on each player’s turn another patient is added to the line of patients being transported in ambulances to player hospitals.  On your turn, you can assign the new patient to whichever player you want (e.g. assign patients in bad shape to your opponents and assign ones with minor injuries to yourself).  However, there can only be a number of patients in ambulances equal to the number of players.  Once the ambulances fill up, patients get sicker (i.e. flip over to critical condition) as they wait to be admitted.  And patients already in critical condition will die if they wait around too long.

Third, your hospital has only two beds, and if you have more patients admitted than that, your patients get sicker.  So the proper assigning of patients to players, admitting your patients to your hospital before they die in an ambulance, healing them to open up beds, and watching that Kill Mark pile are all part of a successful strategy.

In the game we played last night, Stew and Lee were both in the lead (Bob and I were behind by a good margin), but Lee had managed to get all 3 patients in the ambulances assigned to Stew when Lee used a card to move all of them to Stew’s hospital, where he didn’t have beds for them all, they subsequently died, Stew grabbed the last 3 Kill Marks, and the game ended with Lee winning.

4 – You can be the Dynamite Nurse!

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The Dynamite Nurse card!

Whoever has the most Kill Marks has to grab the Dynamite Nurse card.  At the end of the game, it counts as two more Kill Marks, which is going to inflict more negative victory points on whoever has the card (see the photo of the Kill Mark card front and back above).  But, when you have the Dynamite Nurse card, you get an advantage: a good number of event cards and cards that mess with your opponents get put back into the town after you use them — but not if you are the Dynamite Nurse!  Instead, you can put them in your discard pile where they eventually get shuffled into your deck, get back into your hand, and you play them again!  Check out the “Reference Letter” card in the photo above.  If you are the Dynamite Nurse, that card is much like the musical Cats…you can see it over and over and over and over!

So if you like deck building games, or like anime products, or just plain like a good card game, pick up Dynamite Nurse and kill some patients…er, I mean heal your patients.  Did I mention that my wife is a registered nurse?  I didn’t?  Oh well, anyway she says that Dynamite Nurse in no way resembles actually nursing care.  I just thought that I would let you know.

 

5 Video Games / Xbox One games that I am playing right now

While I really love board games, RPGs, card games, etc, I also like to play video games on my Xbox One.  So what games am I playing right now, you ask?  Well here is the run down!

1 – Elite Dangerous

I really love space games.  I also love sandbox games.  Elite Dangerous is both!  You have the entire galaxy to fly around in, over 4 billion solar systems.  You can outfit a ship for exploring (I own an Asp Explorer for that purpose) and fly out into unknown space, discovering whatever you find there.

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View from back of my Asp Explorer.  A Type F star as seen from a planet with rings.

You can also build ships for trading (I have a Python for that), piracy, bounty hunting, mining, etc.  Absolute freedom.  You can play for 5 minutes or 5 hours and not run into another real human.  Or, you can stay inside the populated “bubble” (about 300 or so light years in diameter around Sol) and then you will run into plenty of other players.  Hint: someone of them are going to attack you just for fun–that’s the “Dangerous” part of the game.

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My SRV on a rocky moon, looking towards a gas giant with its rings almost parallel to the milky way.  I was something like 1,000 lightyears out, so the milky way pointed my way back to civilization.  Most of the game is in first-person, but there is a camera suite that you use to “zoom” out of your vehicles and take pictures.

And super fun is dropping your Surface Recon Vehicle (SRV) onto a planet or moon and jamming around looking for stuff to mine.  If you want, you can spend the entire game roaming around just a few planets–or you can travel the 27,000 lightyears to the center of the galaxy.  It’s your choice.  Make the game whatever you want of it.  There is a subtle story in the background (which I think is about to get even better with an alien invasion of the galaxy) and players can take part in community missions to further the story.

Elite Dangerous is also a spaceship sim.  You can use a landing computer, but really the game is much more fun without it.  The first time I tried to land on a space station (think of a giant rotating 12-sided die with a small slit on side that ships fly in and out of) I smashed against the outside of the station.  The next few times I tried to land I wiped out everything in sight.  But once you get the hang of flying (and landing!) your ship, the things that you can do with the flight simulator part of the game is quite awesome (e.g. flying through rings of asteroids).

Last hint: watch out for the white dwarf stars–they will trap you in their gravity well and not let go.  I hate those White Dwarfs!

2 – Minecraft

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One of my recent underground discoveries–an abandoned mineshaft that I am excavating.

Okay, everybody plays this game so I really don’t need to say much about it.  Gigantic, open sandbox where you can play in survival mode or creative mode.  You can dig up ore, build gigantic structures, or just walk around and fall into lava.  Whatever you want to do, Minecraft lets you do it.  Playing Minecraft is also like putting together Legos or doing a jigsaw puzzle–its strangely meditative.  And again, a game that you can play for 5 minutes or 5 hours based on how much free time you have.  I have a wife and two kids, so I think you are getting the gist that I like games that don’t have long, complicated missions or lack “save” points, because I am never sure how much time I have got to play games. Minecraft can be played by all ages–so if for some reason you have been living under a rock and haven’t yet tried Minecraft, you really need to run, not walk, to your console and download it today. Tell Mojang/Microsoft that Neal sent you.

 

3 – Fallout Shelter

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It’s a sim based on the popular Fallout series of games.  You have to manage food, water, and power for your vault dwellers while avoiding numerous dangers: fires, radroaches, deathclaws, etc.  You can even re-name all your dwellers (here is a hint: I have renamed all 200 of mine and their names are not fit for prime time, I won’t put any examples here, you never know if a kid might be reading this blog!).  Anyway, you can send your dwellers on missions outside the vault to collect valuable weapons, armor and crafting junk.  Again, another game that you can save at any point and play at your own pace.  Oh, and the dwellers say the most hilarious things, so be sure to zoom in on them and eavesdrop their conversations.

 

4 – Star Wars Battlefront

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Okay, everybody likes Star Wars.  So what could be more cool than running around in a MMoG fighting battles on Endor, Hoth, the Death Star, etc?  I personally like the Battle Squadron multiplayer–it’s space ship battle in X-wings, Tie Fighters, etc.  Literally, I have not run across another player better than me in the sky–I am a killer, particularly in a Tie Interceptor (i.e. Darth’s Vader vehicle).  Anyway, back on the ground you can fight battles from the movies and even find “Hero Pick Ups” to become Luke, Darth, Chewy, Han, Leia, Greedo, Boba Fett, Jyn, etc.  It’s not an overly detailed or exact shooter simulation, but then again it’s not suppose to be.  It’s Star Wars–and that’s where the fun is.  If you ever wanted to operate a gigantic AT-AT and blast those pesky rebels into oblivion or go stomping around in a Chicken Walker (AT-ST) and crushing the rebellion under your metallic feet, this game is for you.  Trust me–nothing more fun than squishing rebels!

5 – Dead or Alive 5 Last Round

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When I feel like some simple one-on-one combat, it’s DOA5LR that I turn to.  Quick battles, tons of outfits for the guys and gals of DOA, and the difficulty can be customized from absurdly easy (i.e. the AI characters rarely attack and defend) to ridiculously hard (i.e. good luck even getting in a single hit) and everything in between.  It’s fun and mindless.

Till next time, Make Mine Marvel!

5 Reasons You Should be Playing King of New York (with the monster evolution rules)

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If you haven’t yet given King of New York by Iello games a try, here are 5 reasons why you should:

1 – You Are a Mega Monster that Stomps on New York

Okay, this is a really big (pun intended) plus for this game!  Each player is a gigantic monster (e.g. a giant robot, a giant ape, a giant dinosaur, etc.) and you get to smash buildings and destroy military units in the boroughs of New York!  What could be more fun?  Nothing!  You get a cardboard standee that emphasizes how massive you are and how small and puny the poor earthlings are!

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Cthulhu in Queens, The Sheriff (the dinosaur) in Lower Manhattan, and Kong in Staten Island rampage through the boroughs of New York!  By the way, note the Cthulhu cultist temples in a number of boroughs.  Whaaaat….did I say Cthulhu?  More on that later.

2 – If you know how to play Yahtzee, you basically can play King of New York

To control what your monster does, you roll 6 dice.  Maybe you want to destroy buildings; maybe you want to regain health; maybe you want to slap the monster currently in Manhattan; whatever it is you are looking to do…all you got to do is roll the right symbols!

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The dice.  Each symbol does something different.  From top left clockwise: gain fame, slap another monster, gain energy, gain health, make units attack the monsters, and destroy buildings/units.

If you don’t get what you want on the first roll, you can re-roll any number of dice while holding the others.  Still don’t have what you want?  You get a second re-roll!  Sound like Yahtzee?  Yep, it is.  A good number of games these days have taken this basic idea and added other mechanics to it to make a quality board game.  While King of New York has power cards, energy cubes, and other rules, if you know the basic math needed in Yahtzee to decide when to re-roll versus when to keep a die’s result, you can play King of New York.

3 – It’s King of the Hill — and everyone knows how to play that game

And of course, King of New York is really “King of the Hill” where Manhattan is the “hill.”  If you can get your monster to Manhattan, you’ll get some bonus fame and energy each turn.  Stay there long enough and you are well on your way to winning.  Whoever is on the mountain can be slapped by all the other monsters…but from Manhattan you can slap your opponents all at the same time!  Yee-hah!  The strategy is simple: get to the Hill…er, Manhattan…and hold it!  If you aren’t in Manhattan, slap the monster that is until it falls off the hill!  C’mon, everybody knows how to do this!

4 – With the Power Up! expansion, each monster evolves with different powers

One problem that the original King of New York suffered from was that all the monsters were the same.  They had different standees and different cards to record fame and health…but aside from chrome they were the same thing.  It didn’t really matter which monster you were–all of them played the same.

Thus, everyone basically pursued the same set of strategies regardless of which standee they were playing.  It seemed to be silly to be Kong or the Sheriff or Captain Fish or whatever when really you were all the same generic monster.

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The Power Up! expansion that introduces monster evolution cards

The Power Up! expansion changed all that!  Each monster now has a unique set of 8 evolution cards.  Each monster starts the game with 1 evolution card and over the course of the game they can try to get more (by rolling triple hearts).  Some evolution cards are one-shot (called “temporary” in the game) and have an immediate effect and then are discarded.  The other evolution cards stay in play (called “permanent” in the game.”  This mechanic is similar to the basic power cards that say “keep” or “discard”.

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The Sheriff with two of his permanent evolution cards: Long Star Lizard and The Short Arm of the Law

Because each monster has a unique set of cards, each monster is now UNIQUE.  If you play Mega-shark you are likely to get an evolution that makes winning the game via fame impossible–but helps you slap down the other monsters to win by being the last monster standing.  Captain Fish has an annoying way of moving monsters around.  The Sheriff tends to inflict damage on monsters near him.  Now your choice of monster makes a big difference as to what strategy you will play…and what you might have to do to stop another player’s strategy.

5 – Games are relatively quick and full of fun

King of New York is lighthearted!  Games last about 30-60 minutes and generally are silly and fun.  You smash buildings, slap other monsters, and fight to get and stay in Manhattan.  Even if you lose, you will have a good time in this free-for-all.

6 – (yes, there is a #6 in the 5 reasons why!) Cthulhu!

And now Iello Games has introduced individual monster packs that you can purchase.  And which monster was first?  Of course, it is the obligatory Cthulhu expansion!  Now you can play the antediluvian Cthulhu and smash your way through New York!

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Cthulhu and a few of his evolution cards…in all their terrible, monstrous, insane, glory!  Note the rather insane combo of cards above to gain fame quickly as Cthulhu.  This is a real picture of one person’s hand in a game a few days ago…and yes, he won with it.

The Cthulhu pack introduces cultist temples that shuffle in with the buildings.  Cthulhu can even use “Shrieking Madness” to give Madness tokens to other players.  What do they do you ask?  Well, for each Madness token you have, you roll a die and place it on the token.  That die cannot be re-rolled!  Yikes!  That truly is madness!  Oh, and Cthulhu can use Sunken R’Lyeh to gain fame each turn in any borough with a cultist temple.  If you are one of the other monsters, you better smash these temples as soon as you see them before Cthulhu racks up the fame!

For all these reasons you should be playing King of New York!

Til’ next time, Make Mine Marvel!  Wait…that kind of didn’t fit..oh well, who cares, it just sounds cool!

 

Merchant of Venus Memorial Day Spectacular

Memorial Day is a perfect time to get everyone together and play those games that you can’t get to normally.  You know what I am talking about, those games that take like 4+ hours and you just can’t fit them in to a normal work night gaming session.

So, we managed to bust out Merchant of Venus from Fantasy Flight games, a re-imagining of the classic Avalon Hill game.

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Merchant of Venus as redone by Fantasy Flight Games

Basically if you haven’t played it, each player flies around space exploring 14 systems.  You look for goods to trade, passengers to ferry, new civilizations, etc.  You improve your ship and piloting abilities as you go.  Whoever has the most credits at the end of the game wins.

Merchant of Venus is a typically Fantasy Flight game…in other words, it has a lot of counters, cards, etc.  It also is kind of an “Ameritrash” game in that you roll lots of dice, there is a lot of randomness, and in the end the random behavior usually makes a bigger difference in the outcome than any true strategic and/or tactical decisions.  In short, it plays a bit like Talisman–move around and hope for good luck.  But it is quite fun if no one takes it too seriously.

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A typical start to Merchant of Venus.  My ship card is on the bottom with lasers set to 1 and shields set to 2.

Anyway, Bob, Stew and I got in a pretty fun game.  Stew started by heading toward the Nebula which slowed him down.  I took advantage of some favorable placement of passengers and Bob started trading everywhere he could.

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My ship after I increased my pilot level to 2.  I am transporting the Diva and have added the Zen Paint Job and Throttle Boost.  I also have discovered two civilizations, upgraded my lasers, added cargo space, and sourced a Yellow Drive.

Through about 20 or so turns, Bob and I were raking in the credits while Stew slowly caught up to us.  The game lasts about 2-4 hours on average, and since we hadn’t played it in forever, it took some time to set up.  So after 3 hours and 21 turns, we decided to go eat and call it quits.  We didn’t figure out who won because it was just fun to play.

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The game board when we decided to quit.  Stew (with the Green ship) is trying to find the undiscovered civilization of the Humans.  His pilot was Human and we never found them so Stew couldn’t use his racial discount.  Bob (the Red ship) was in that system so Stew was hoping that the Humans were not there but in the system with his Green ship. 

Merchant of Venus is a fun game but you need time to play it.  If we had played to the 30 turn limit, we would’ve easily taken another hour.  So maybe on the next holiday we might finish a game…

Recent Games: Big Book of Madness, Monarch,7 Wonders Duel, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards, King of New York, Tiny Epic Galaxies

Recently, the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club has had time for some serious gaming!  Here is a selection of some of the most recent sessions.

Big Book of Madness

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The start of the game.  It was all downhill after this point!

We got in a game of Big Book of Madness (You can find my review of it here).  It’s a cooperative game where each player is a novice spellcaster and together they must defeat the monsters that spill out of an opened book of madness.  We have played it a few times, and we know that it is a hard game to win.  But this time we really got on the receiving end of the hard knocks and couldn’t recover.

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By the second turn we were already suffering from our inability to get rid of the curses before they inflicted their pain on us.

In short, we seemed incapable of getting 4 of any element together to banish a curse.  Thus, the curses kept hitting us, and most seemed to drop Madness cards into our decks (see the picture above).

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My hand just before the end of the game: full of madness and weak element cards.

By about Turn 3, Bob and Neal were drawing loads of Madness cards.  Without many playable cards, it became tougher and tougher to banish curses.

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The end of the game…it came quick!

By turn 4, we had already run through the entire Madness deck and lost the game.  Particularly nasty were the multi-element curses (as seen above under the #2 spot) that kept adding additional elements to the other curses.

I highly recommend Big Book of Madness, because if you want a tough game to win, try it out!

Monarch

We tried out a new game that Stewart got for Christmas: Monarch.

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The box cover of Monarch

In Monarch, each player tries to earn the most victory points by acquiring different titles and objects (represented on cards) related to the monarchy.

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The basic layout of Monarch.  The 9 fields/villages, apples (red tokens), gold, and titles/objects.  I have a Pomeranian in the foreground.  Note that I am getting spanked!  I have 1 object while my brother (in the background) already has 5.

Each player must harvest apples from fields and use them to upgrade fields and villages.  Apples also are used to force villages to pay taxes (the gold coins) which are used to acquire cards–and it those objects that have varying victory points.  The game also has a faction mechanic and a few other subtleties.

It was the first time that we played it and Stew beat the rest of us down pretty good.  Bob and I competed for resources and also seemed to waste time upgrading villages only to have Stew upgrade them last and switch them to his faction.  The game was fun and with some more plays I am sure we will figure out exactly how to maximize our strategies.

7 Wonders Duel

Stew and I got in a couple games of 7 Wonders Duel.

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7 Wonders Duel with the new Pantheon expansion!

We played a couple games with the new Pantheon expansion.  For those who haven’t tried Pantheon yet, it adds 5 different Mythologies to the game (Mesopotamian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian).  You can recruit Gods to lend their special powers to your side.  Most interestingly, when you recruit a God you do not have to burn one of the discovery cards.  This can change the turn order so it adds a new tactical wrinkle to 7 Wonders Duel.

Stew won both times, typically by pursuing a strategy of collecting Civilian buildings.  I got really close to a Scientific instant win in our second game, but came up just short.

Stew really loves this game, as it is on his Top 10 list (Stew’s Top 10 Games click here), so anyone looking for a two-player game should check it out.

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill

I got the new Rumble at Castle Tentakill expansion to Epic Spell Wars and was burning up to try it out.

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Lee dealing out the cards.  Castle Tentakill standing ominously in the middle of the table

Rumble at Castle Tentakill introduces two new mechanics.  First, now some delivery spells are Creatures. Creatures have a chance of staying in play from turn to turn.  They also can jump in front of damage, sacrificing themselves so that you don’t get hurt.  Second, the standee now has a purpose!  Certain spells move the standee to a player (or take it from another player).  Other spells give you bonuses if you have the Standee while some spells inflict more pain on the player who has the Standee.

We got in a few turns but unfortunately we had to end the game before the finish.

King of New York: Power Up!

I also received the new expansion Power Up! for King of New York.

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King of New York with the new Power Up! evolution cards

We played a three-player game.  I was the Sheriff (in the foreground above).  The new Power Up! evolution cards added a twist.  Now when you roll 3 hearts you can draw 2 evolution cards and choose 1 to add to your hand.  Each monster has its own set, so in this expansion choosing which monster to play actually can make a difference.

Anyway, I played the Sheriff and I quickly got into Manhattan.  I slapped both Stew and Bob mercilessly turn after turn.  I eventually got driven off, but by this time everyone was quite banged up and when I left Manhattan Stew had to enter it.  This set of a cycle whereby Bob eliminated Stew, and then I eliminated Bob to win the game!

I can’t emphasize how fun King of New York is.  If you haven’t played it, run out and get a copy and give it a try as soon as possible.  You won’t regret it.

Tiny Epic Galaxies

Stew and I got in a game of Tiny Epic Galaxies.

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The situation early in the game.  I am in the foreground with the red units and Stew is on the left with the green units.

Well, this game turned out to be a nightmare.  You can check out my review (click here for TEG review) of TEG to see why.  In short, probably a game to be avoided unless you want to play it solitaire, in which case it is fun enough.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  See you next time!

 

 

Post Thanksgiving Game-o-rama!

Just after the Thanksgiving holidays we got in more gaming that usual.  On various dates we managed to delve into some 7 Wonders: Duel, Pandemic Legacy, 7 Wonders with the Babel expansion, and T.I.M.E. Stories.

Here are the photos of the fun!

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Stewart contemplating what to do in 7 Wonders: Duel.  I had him at a severe disadvantage and eventually I nipped a victory by a few points.

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Getting ready for some 7 Wonders with the Babel expansion (and of course Cities and Leaders expansions too!)

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Stewart and Bob during Age II.  Stew had played that darn leader (the name escapes me at the moment) who returns -1 military tokens to the other players.  So annoying!  Note the Babel tower in the middle of the table.  Stew won the game thanks to mucho scientific structures.

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Stew, Bob and I getting ready to start our 2nd November playthrough of Pandemic Legacy.  I will get a post out about that game soon.

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Lee, Stew and Katie getting ready for a game of T.I.M.E. Stories.  Katie really likes the game but when we got to the maze cards, Stew and I spent like 10 minutes figuring it out and she got bored!  Btw, note in the background left the shield that I made for Stew when he was big into SCA at West Point.

Oh…and I will give out a not genuine “no prize” to whoever who leaves a comment correctly naming the most games (either from the boxes/books or the minis, boards, etc, used in particular games) that they see in the photos.  Note, there are also RPGs in the photos.  Don’t forget to look on the bookshelves and under the folding table too!

Good luck!

Pandemic Legacy September Playthrough

After our unexpected victory in August (see Pandemic Legacy August Playthrough) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to September.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE SEPTEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first eight months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds (Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2).  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist (see Pandemic Legacy August Playthrough).

September Setup

The mission briefing was fairly straightforward.  We had to find a paranoid soldier who was frightening people.

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The Search for the Paranoid Soldier

We started September with zero, yep zero, funded events!  We expected to lose badly, so we decided that we would concentrate on finding the paranoid soldier.  We set up the board, selected characters, used our August win bonus to advance the Paranoid Soldier search from space 0 to 2, and then randomly determined that Stew would be the first player.

Character Selection and Order

  • Stew — Dispatcher
  • Bob — Colonel
  • Neal — Researcher
  • Lee — Scientist

We decided to start in Kolkata.  Stew had the only red (COdA) card and he figured he would rush over to Ho Chi Minh City and start the search.

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Panoramic view of the start of the game. Stew the dispatcher is sitting on the right side of the photo and you can see he has a red card–and it’s Ho Chi Minh City!

Gameplay

We immediately accomplished Objective #1 — have a military base in six regions.

Turn 1

Dispatcher — moved to Hi Chi Minh City.  Moved the Colonel there.  Searched for the paranoid soldier: +3 Ho Chi Minh City card, +1 Dispatcher (veteran), and +1 Colonel.  Search moved from 2 to 7.  Then he drew the 1st Epidemic and Atlanta got 3 cubes.  The search target moved from 9 to 10.  The Dispatcher drew a red card but we were still worrying about whether we would find the Paranoid Soldier.

Colonel — Moved to Taipei, got rid of 1 Faded, moved to Hong Kong.  When drawing infection cards Algiers had an Outbreak (outbreak #1).

Researcher — Gave 2 cards to Scientist, then flew to Atlanta.  Treated 1/3 cubes and then dropped a quarantine.  Drew the Bogota infection card leading to Outbreak #2!

Scientist — Flew to Atlanta, moved to San Frandisco (yep, misspelling is intentional) and treated 1/3 cubes.  By the end of this turn, there were 3 cubes/Faded in many cities.  It was already looking grim.

Turn 2

Dispatcher — Moved Colonel to Ho Chi Minh City. Searched for Paranoid Soldier: +1 Beijing card, +1 Dispatcher, +1 Colonel.  Search moved from 7 to 10 and we found him! (Objective #2).

We scratched off the Paranoid Soldier card and it revealed that something really wrong was going on.  The implication was that the COdA virus was not an accident and that a secret organization operating from within the CDC was involved.

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Paranoid Soldier is found — and the truth becomes known!

This led us to open Box #6 — and then the floor dropped out from under us.  The Colonel was a traitor!

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We have been duped!

The Colonel was a mysterious person known as Sagittarius, part of the secretive group Zodiac.  Bob had to discard The Colonel and take a Civilian card.  In short, Zodiac instigated COdA in order to stage a world-wide martial law that would allow it to assume control.  We unwittingly helped them by placing all those permanent military bases around the globe.

Now we needed to tear down the oppressive military state that we had built up.

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We were now determined to right the wrongs that we had unknowingly perpetrated.

Also, we had to discard the 6 Military Base objective, so now we had completed only 1 objective so far.  We really felt deflated.

The Dispatcher’s turn continued at this point.  He moved the Scientist to Atlanta to be with the Researcher and dropped a quarantine on Ho Chi Minh City.

Civilian — Moved to Algiers and treated 3/3 cubes.

Researcher — Gave 2 cards to the Scientist then moved to Bogota and treated 1/3 cubes.

Scientist — Cured BSNL-419 (yellow) then moved to Bogota and took 2 cards from the Researcher.

Turn 3

Dispatcher — Equipped C4 and blew up the Ho Chi Minh City military base.  Moved to Lima via Bogota and equipped C4 again–and blew up the Lima military base!  Objective #2 complete!  He then drew Epidemic #2 (Shanghai).  Subsequently Buenos Aires had an Outbreak (outbreak #3).

Civilian — Moved to Bogota and treated 3/3 cubes.  Used the Airstrike unfunded event to remove 1/3 Faded in Taipei.  Drew the Shanghai infection card for Outbreak #4.

Researcher — Moved to Kinshasha and treated 3/3 cubes and then moved to Lagos.  Drew the Atlanta infection card but the Quarantine from way back on Turn 1 prevented an Outbreak.

Scientist — Moved to Lagos, took Riyadh card from the Researcher, cured Fischer-Titus (blue) and then cured Sprague (black)–note: the Scientist has two upgrades that have moved his hand size to 9.  Thus we completed the mandatory objective, got 3 objectives done, and quite against our expectations won the game!

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Panoramic photo of the end of the game

Endgame Upgrades

At the end of the first game in September, you get a bunch of new upgrades, some are character upgrades and a bunch are new equipment.

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Equipment upgrades at end of 1st game in September

We decided to give the Shady Background to the Dispatcher and the Forecaster upgrade to the Researcher.  Our Funded Event total remains at zero.  Not sure how we keep winning, but we hope our luck keeps holding.

Spooks: Escape the Haunted House

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Spooks

 

Ever felt the need to play a simple card game with friends/family?  You know, a fairly quick and fun game that anyone can learn in a few minutes?  But you are bored of Uno, poker, rummy, Tripoly, etc.  I know a game that you can try: Spooks!  It’s a Steve Jackson Games product from the early 2000s.

Bones, Bats, Goblins, Spooks, Spiders….and a Black Cat

The rules are fairly straightforward.  There are 56 cards.  5 suits from 1 to 10 plus a Master card (which is basically an 11).  Two suits are blue (Spiders and Spooks), 2 suits are red (Bones and Bats) and 1 suit is green (Goblins) plus a single Black Cat card.

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The red and blue suits

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Master of Bones, Master of Goblins, and the Black Cat

The cards are shuffled and dealt out.  The player with the 1 of Spiders leads.  Play proceeds clockwise.  If the last card is blue, the next player must play a card with the next highest number in any suit (any 2 on the 1 of Spiders for example).   If the last card is red, the next player must play a card of the same suit (bat on bat for example) or play the same card number of any suit  (a 2 of Spooks on a 2 of Bones).  If the last card is green (Goblins) a special round occurs in which each player selects one card.  The cards are revealed and the highest Goblin wins the trick and can lead the next card.

If a player cannot play a card special rules now apply.  If the last card is blue the player is skipped.  If all skip, the player who played the blue card can now lead any card.  If the last card was a Bat, the player who cannot play must receive cards from the other players’ hands!  If the last card was a Bone, the player who played it can lay down a mixed-suit straight with the highest card being the new lead.

The Black Cat is a wild card and can be used to substitute as a legal play or to win a Goblin trick.  The first player to get rid of all their cards wins.

Once everyone knows the rules, the game moves fast!  As you might guess, switching the lead suit back and forth from blue to red to green and hand management are the fundamental strategies.

When one player goes out, the other players add up the point value of the cards in their hand.  If a player gets to 200 or more points, the player with the least number of points wins!

There are variations (such as giving the Master cards special powers) that add further complexity for serious gamers.  There is also the common card game variant of a “silent hand” of discarded cards to keep everyone guessing as to which cards are still in players’ hands.

So give Spooks a try and you will find a nice little game that you can keep on your game shelf for those nights when more social gaming is required.  Oh…and you get to say “Bone” all the time too!

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre

 

What Did we Play?

Okay, remember when you were a kid?  I know, I know, that was a long time ago, but let’s try.  You totally liked to play board games and you thought that you could make up your own games.  I know my brother and I thought this way.

So we grabbed some paper, some cardboard, some markers, etc, and made up a bunch of games that we thought were really cool!  And one of those games was a wizard spell battle!  Does anybody remember the Monster Maker (sometimes it was the Hero Maker)?  It looked like your sister’s Fashion Maker game, you know, the one with the set of flaps hinged on the left.  You could change the top, the middle, and/or the bottom flap by flipping the sheets of paper to make the outfit/monster/hero of your dreams.

Well, all of us played around with a similar idea for a wizard battle.  What if we could customize a spell in the same way?  Well, the geniuses at Cryptozoic behind Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre (EPSWotBW:DaMS) actually did just that!

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Check out the art!  This game just looks cool!

How do you know that this game is going to be totally rad?  It says so on the back of the box!  “Are you Rad enough for gnarly wizard on wizard magical combat?”  “Do you have the Balls to totally melt a dude’s face…with Magic?!?”  “Rip your opponents a new one with INSANE spell combos!”  Combine these bold proclamations with the cool retro art and you just know that this game is totally rad!

The TTGC (About) recommends that you try out Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards!  Why?  Because it is a blast to play!  The promise of the box is fulfilled by the contents.  Basically, each player is a wizard with 20 hit points.  Here are a couple examples.  The characters do not have special abilities, it is merely chrome.

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Two examples of wizards.  I think you can see the tongue in cheek nature of Epic Spell Wars.

Each player has a hand of 8 cards.  During a round each player chooses up to 3 spell cards and creates a unique spell.  There are 3 spell components: Source, Quality, and Delivery.  Players can utilize up to 1 card of each component (you can choose to not include 1 or 2 of the components).  The delivery cards also include an initiative number with more powerful delivery cards going slower than weaker cards.  Wizards who created spells with only 1 component go first in the round, wizards with two components go next and then wizards with a complete 3 component spell go last.  turn order within those three groups is by the delivery initiative number or at random if a delivery component is missing.

Basically, each player creates a spell and hurls it at his/her opponents.  Here is an example of a spell.

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Pam and Hecuba’s Explodifying Testikill

After all the wizards cast their spells, each player draws back to 8 cards and the next round begins.  The game is played until only a single player remains.  The winning player gets a “Last Man Standing” token and all the other players get a “Dead Wizard” card, which could offer help in the next game.  All players discard their hands and a new game begins.  The first player to get 2 Last Man Standing tokens is the winner.

There is a bit more to the game than this, including Treasure cards, spell elements, combinations, wild cards, etc, but I will let you discover for yourself how all that works after you get a copy of Epic Spell Wars and turn your opponents into bubbling piles of blood and bone with INSANE spells!  For the more tactical players, there is a good deal of timing strategy, especially sacrificing components for speed.  When everyone’s hit points are getting low, it might be better to cast a quick weak spell than load up a slow Gorenado!  Whaaaaaat?  The game is not only fun and cool, but also has a bit of depth and strategy to it.  How rad is that!?!

Trust me, you will have fun playing Epic Spell wars.  Now get out there are start Melting Faces with Magic!

King of New York

What Did We Just Play?

Each week the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (TTGC) gets together to play a game.  This week we dusted off a fun game called King of New York ( King of New York) by Iello Games.  Richard Garfield designed the game, you know, the guy who created Magic the Gathering (or as my brother and I call it, Magic the Dust Gathering because if you buy enough Magic cards you are going to have boxes and boxes of them gathering dust–see what I did there? LOL).

Anyway, in King of New York each player is a huge, gigantic, horrible monster stomping their way through the boroughs of New York.  Each turn you roll dice to gain energy, slap the other monsters, smash buildings, destroy army units, and gain celebrity.

The game is really a thinly disguised King of the Hill.  The whole idea is to get to Manhattan and stay there as long as you can before getting thrown off the top.  Anyway, the game is super fun and easy to play.

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A game of King of New York after a few turns.  Bob had his monster (Drakonis) in Upper Manhattan gaining victory points.  On the turn after the one pictured, we slapped him so hard he was out of the game!

As you can see from the picture, each player has a cardboard standee for their monster.  The buildings and army units are cardboard tokens and the five boroughs are each a different color.  The dice are on the right hand side (the claw icon is the symbol by which you slap/attack the other monsters).  The energy cubes and cards (which players can buy to get special powers) are not pictured.

A game of King of New York takes about 45 minutes and trust me, it is a blast. Whenever the TTGC doesn’t have time for a long game (and we didn’t this week because we wanted to watch the US v Argentina soccer match), games like King of New York are one of our staples.