15th June 2021
It's a Tuesday evening at The Sovereigns in Woking and if memory serves me correctly, the first time that I've met up with the Woking Gaming Club have met Since October last year!
The first game of the night was Roll For Adventure, a cooperative, dice roller where players must unite to foil the machinations of a Dark Lord wannabe and save the kingdom!
What's in a game?
In Roll for Adventure, our heroes must join forces to defeat The Dark Lord Saur-errr Master of Shadows; how is this done? By collecting the power stones to activate the magical artefact; how is this done? By making lots of dice rolls of course!
The dice are of the smaller variety, which is fine by me, they're made of plastic and finished in a 'marble' look, their edges are nicely rounded and their dots are indentations and not printed. Good quality dice overall.
The territory die is a larger size and has rounded edges, it has artwork related to the territory boards printed on 5 of its 6 sides, the printing seems to be good quality and doesn't look like it'd rub off easily.
The game's variety of boards and tiles are all printed on thick card, as are the components.
The enemy cards are pretty standard quality cards.
Finally; special mention goes to the completely unnecessary and therefore cool little 3d plastic skulls used to track damage on the 4 territories.
Artwork used on the territory boards is fairly minimalist and functional by necessity as space is given over to holding dice. The palette used for the 4 territories extends to the enemy cards and some components.
The quality of artwork used on the enemy cards, hero and adventure boards is all reasonably good. The bright colours scheme used to represent the power stone is pleasantly eye catching.
All-in-all, the components in Roll for Adventure are all of a good quality.
How's it play?
On to play
Like a lot of cooperative games, Roll for Adventure alternates between a player's turn and then the board's actions before moving on to the next player's turn.
The basic principle behind a turn in Roll for Adventure is simple: The active player rolls all their available dice and uses one or more of them of the same number, then rolls their remaining dice and so on, until they've used all their dice. What those dice are used for however, is the crux of the game.
If the damage token for any territory reaches its final spot, the players collectively lose the game.
If at anytime all the players collectively have no dice to roll for whatever reason, then the players lose.
If the players manage to collect the last power stone for their adventure board, then the players collectively win.
Roll for Adventure is an interesting combination of cooperative gameplay and some unusual dice rolling mechanics.
A good example is the Vortex of Resurrection: Using the vortex ends a player's turn immediately. Early in their turn, it's possible a player have the double 5 or double 6 which will be high enough to trigger the vortex, but doing so is a waste of a turn (And dice rolls.), however, waiting until a player only has 1 or 2 dice left means that getting a good result for the vortex is tricky.
Roll for Adventure has no 'set aside' rules or mechanics in Roll for Adventure here, after players use dice, the remaining ones are re-rolled and you can kiss those other useful results goodbye. It forces players to make decisive moves about what they have available now and collectively players need to really cooperate in these decisions too as spreading dice too thinly throughout the board can be a costly error, dice stuck on half completed tasks are a problem waiting to happen. Players need to concentrate on a couple of tasks only if possible and maintain the loop of using dice and then getting them back to use in the following turn.
The same is true of enemy cards, if they're not dealt with quickly, they can linger and repeatedly attack the board, particularly lower rank enemy, which will be commanded to attack the most often.
Balancing the need to get power stones and the need to defeat enemies is key, along with mitigating bad luck that tends to accompany cooperative games. The extra wrinkle here is the need to also manage your dwindling resources - dice!
Actions (Or inactions.) will frequently have an impact on the game and that's a good thing.
That's not to say the game is without some criticism.
With 4 double-sided territory boards, Roll for Adventure has 8 subsystems, at least 4 of which must be learned to play the game. In my opinion, this makes the game feel a little overly complex for the experience it delivers, which a shortish, almost abstract experience.
The game's theme doesn't gel entirely well with its mechanics for me. Do the dice represent various actions of the the player's hero? Or are they minions of the hero sent off on different missions? Whatever the answer, it felt a little unengaging, closer to an exercise in comprehending probability than going adventuring.
Having said all that: The game's balancing kept the outcome in the air all the way throughout and the tension high at the end. If you like cooperative games, Roll for Adventure is worth a look. If you've spent a lot of time playing those coop games where you spend action points to run around a map to perform tasks, this could give you a fresh take on the cooperative playstyle.
30th May 2021
Sunday night gaming on Board Game Arena continues with Dragonwood.
Those woods there, there be dragons in those woods, that must be why it's named Dragonwood! There are many monsters to capture, so to assemble brave adventurers, take your cards and take your dice and head off into the forests, there're adversaries to be struck, stomped or screamed at!
Caveat: We've only ever played Dragonwood digitally online.
What's in a game?
Well, there's not much that can be said since we've only played it digitally. The art on the carts is bright, cartoonish and pleasant, text is clearly written and easy to read.
How's it play?
The objective in Dragonwood is to capture creatures cards which are worth 1-7 points each.
Each turn, the active player will have a choice of 2 actions.
Then it goes to the endgame.
Players score the victory points for each creature they captured.
The player who has captured the most creatures earns an additional 3 points.
Once points are tallied, highest score wins!
Decisions are based around how much you want or need to push your luck and when to or when not to try and capture cards, managing this is key to Dragonwood.
If a creature has a value of 10 for one of it's target numbers, then it's not hard to figure out that 4 dice will give the active player a 50% chance of capturing it and they'll need to play 4 cards to do this. 9 or lower and the odds swing in the player's favour, 11+ and well, it's not a push your luck game for nothing!
Sure, someone can play it safe and draw cards to get better odds, but this consumes turns while instead, competitors could be capturing those creatures. A handful of adventurer cards scores nothing at the game's end.
Conversely, rashly trying to capture cards and failing will cost players their adventurer cards, it's a clever little balancing mechanic.
Even though the decision to capture a card or not is a simple, almost no brainer decision, the need to outdo other players generally means it never quite a meaningless one.
We found that acquiring enhancements early on (If they appear early on that is.) could be a big advantage. There are enhancements that add 1 or 2 to capture rolls, it might not seem like much, but in a game about averaged dice rolls, it can swing the odds quite a lot.
It's obvious that Dragonwood is a light game that skews towards younger players and with that in mind, I don't think it's appropriate to be overly harsh on it.
With it's fairly simplistic choices and reliance on randomness, fans of 'heavy' games probably won't find much to engage with here, unless they're looking looking for a undemanding filler for around 30 minutes to allow their brains to cool down between other, heavier games.
However, I do think that younger players will find the game enjoyable and dice rolling exciting, casual gamers may also find it entertaining.
4th April 2021
It's Sunday and I'm logged on to Board Game Arena for some gaming.
The first game of the day was Dice Forge, a game about errr forging dice in a mythically themed way! Also about the hunt for glory to impress the gods, which can in part be earned by rolling dice, which may not seem a glorious undertaking, but who am I to judge.
Caveat: This game was played digitally, but the physical version had been played previously.
What's in a game?
There are quite a few components to Dice Forge, so let's get started with the most important.
This could easily have proven a real problem but it's not the case. These components are very well made. A little tool is used to remove faces and new faces fit firmly into the dice with a satisfying click, none of the process of changing faces feels flimsy or too fiddly and its doesn't seem like these components would break under normal usage. Finally, the dice always roll smoothly.
It's important that this element of the game always functions correctly and it does.
The remainder of the components as would be expected are of a good quality.
The quality of the art direction on the cards is good and in particular the art on the game boards is quite eye catching, depicting the card spaces as islands the player must visit, which fits the game's mythic quest theme suitably well.
Player boards have the space for a single piece of colourful artwork but most of the board is taken up by the various tracks, however, they are bright and colourfully highlighted.
Overall, Dice Forge is very nice aesthetically, it does a lot to present it's theme of mythic forging.
How's it play?
At the start of every player's turn, all players roll their dice and acquire whatever resources are shown on the result, this can be gold, red or blue gems or glory points, these are immediately added to the player's board, any resources earned that exceed the player's space limit is lost.
Even though all player's have rolled their dice, only the active player can act and they have a couple options.
Once all players have had their turn, the round is completed.
Once 9 or 10 rounds have been completed - dependant on the number of players, then the game has ended.
Players tally the glory on their player boards with the glory accumulated on the cards they've acquired.
Highest score wins.
Dice forge is a bit of a strange beast - sort of an deck building game that uses dice in place of cards - mostly!
Building up dice is unsurprisingly at the core of the game and is very important early in the game as they provide the games currencies and it presents players with options and choices to make. Not only do they have to decide which of gold, gems or glory to upgrade each time, they must decide how to distribute those upgrades.
For example; a player could choose to load 1 die with their first 6 upgrades - this guarantees that 1 die will get a good result, but they will only get 1 good result per roll, spreading the upgrades over 2 dice lessens the chances of upgraded results coming up but increases the chances of getting 2 upgraded results. This can be more important than it initially seems because they're 3 different currencies to consider as well as acquiring glory points.
It could have been a gimmick but instead it's an interesting proposition.
Acquiring cards may give a player several advantages, cards always give players glory points, the most expensive cards normally confer the player a lot of glory points. The bonuses that cards give the player don't seem particularly useful but they tend to tip things in a player's favour in other areas of the game. The are some once-per-turn abilities that can prove useful if acquired early enough in the game.
Of course red gems have an additional use and can be spent to gain additional actions, this can prove very useful considering that usually, players only get 9-10 actions per game.
It's hard to sum up how I feel about Dice Forge, modifying dice forces players into making significant choices, which is a good thing and rolling the the dice was undeniably fun but somehow, it all felt a little unengaging? It's possible that an upgraded die face never gets rolled in a game and maybe that's it, devising a strategy that's at the mercy of luck to succeed will never entirely satisfactory? Or maybe I'm just over thinking it?
It's easy to learn and play Dice Forge, however, I feel that in the long-term, the game is a little shallow and repetitive, the available selection of die faces never changes from game to game and the sets of cards all feel samey and interchangeable.
By no means do I think it's a bad game, if you want a mostly straightforward, light, easy-to-play, undemanding and somewhat luck-based game about optimizing dice rolls, then Dice Forge might be a good choice.
29th October 2019
Tuesday night at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking and it's game night at the Woking board game club.
We started the evening with 'Heckmeck' AKA 'Pickomino'.
Have you ever wondered what is a chicken's favourite food? It turns out that a chicken's favourite food is worms. But not just any worms, but roast worms! And not just any roast worms either, but BBQ roast worms! How many BBQ roast worms does a chicken like eating? As many as it can get. How does it get as many BBQ roast worms as it can? By pushing it's luck of course!
That's what Heckmeck is about. Pushing your luck to accumulate as many BBQ roast worms as possible.
What's in a game?
There are 2 versions of Heckmeck, standard and deluxe.
We played the standard version of the game. They use the following components:
How's it play?
First there's setup.
The goal in Heckmeck is to roll and accumulate dice to get a score high enough to claim a domino. But here's a twist, at least one of those dice must have a worm result.
How's this done? Keep reading.
Stacking is one of the things that makes Heckmeck stand out.
Like stacking, stealing is something I've not seen in a push your luck game before.
Play continues until there are no more face-up dominoes in the supply to collect.
Players tally the worms they've collected, highest number of worms wins.
Heckmeck is easy to learn and fairly quick to play. It has several excellent mechanics that give players tricky decisions to make.
Choosing which sets to keep is crucial because of it 'locks out' numbers. Do you really want to take that single 5, because that means you can no longer get any more 5s. Decisions, decisions.
The worm mechanic is also cool. Needing to have a worm result is an extra thing that can go wrong. Making a worm worth a 5 is genius, it puts players in the same quandary as rolling a 5. If a worm was only worth 1, taking it when it's only 1 worm would be a no-brainer.
Finally, the stacking and stealing together is another great idea. If players just laid their tiles out in a line, then stealing them would be a bit too easy as the choice would be wider. However, since the dominoes are stacked, stealing is uncommon. When it does occur, it's something that should be taken advantage of!
All of this adds up to make a good push your luck game.
Heckmeck has very quickly become a favourite with nearly everybody I play it with. And deservedly so.
24th September 2019
Tuesday night gaming at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues.
The second game of the evening was 'Bang! The Dice Game'. A hidden role game driven by push your luck mechanics. Let's see how this goes?
What's in a game?
Bang! The Dice Game comes in a small portable package. Components include:
How's it play?
First there's set up.
What are the hidden roles?
There are 3 types of hidden role in the game. The number of each role that appears in a game will depend on the number of players, except there is only ever 1 sheriff.
And we're good to go. Playing the game is quite straight forward.
Dice and their meanings
So we now know what we do with the dice. But what do they mean. The 5 custom dice all have the same symbols on their faces instead of numbers.
But what about the arrows?
There are 9 arrow tokens in the supply, when the last arrow has been taken by a player; then Indians Attack!
When this happens, characters immediately take damage equal to the number of arrows in their personal area. Then all the arrows are returned to the central area.
Bang! The Dice Game is a little unusual for a hidden role game. There is very little need for questioning amongst players. As is the fact that one role is revealed to all players, putting a big target on the sheriff player's back! The deputy players and possibly renegade players will need to protect the sheriff.
That's not the sheriff's only problem, the sheriff needs to figure out who is an ally and who is an enemy and not attack their deputies.
Deputies need to identify other deputies if possible (If there are other deputies). But their 2 main objectives are protect the sheriff and attack anyone attacking the sheriff.
Outlaws have it easy really, they can concentrate on attacking the sheriff. Outlaws can try a protect other outlaws, but well they're outlaws!
Renegades are in a tricky position, they want to get rid of the sheriff, but need to eliminate outlaws first.
Bang! The Dice Game is a 'lighter' hidden role game and is quick to learn and play. It serves well as a filler game.
24th September 2019
Tuesday evening is here and we're at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking for games night.
It was an evening of several short games.
We begun with 'Sushi Roll', this game is a follow up to the rather good 'Sushi Go!'. Will Sushi Roll live up to expectations? Let's see.
What's in a game
Sushi Roll comes in a largish box and a whole bunch of components. These are solidly made and of a good quality.
How's it play?
We begin with set up:
And we're ready to go.
There's a lot to like about Sushi Roll.
There's a pleasant tactile sensation to be had when you slide or hand the conveyor belt tile over to another player.
The same is true when using chopsticks to snatch away a die from someone else's conveyor belt. The theme fits the game perfectly.
The mechanics with the dice is very clever. You can see what dice are coming your way, but since the dice are rolled again, you don't know exactly what you're getting. It does a very good job of replacing the card mechanic from Sushi Go!. No need to try and memorise cards now!
Everyone I've played this game with, preferred this version to its predecessor. It's less portable and takes a little set up time, but it feels more tactile, it's a little more 'open', therefore giving players more choices to make. The scoring and pudding tokens make it a bit more 'user friendly'. Meanwhile the chopsticks and menus lend the game a bit more strategy.
So, is it worth getting Sushi Roll if you've played Sushi Go!? In a word; yes!
22nd September 2019
Sunday lunchtime at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking. Unfortunately 50 Fathoms is still on hiatus. Instead we shall play some board games.
The first board game of the day was 'Roll Player'.
Have you ever enjoyed creating characters for an RPG more than playing them? Then maybe, just maybe, Roll Player is the game for you.
Roll Player is sort of a set collecting, dice rolling, worker placement game that's all about creating what is ostensibly a D&D character.
The main of the game is that players use dice to generate their stats, but it's not a case of just rolling the dice.
What's in a game
The components for Roll Player are of a good quality.
How's it play
Firstly there's set up: This is fairly straightforward.
After a player takes a die, they must place it on to their character sheet board. When doing this, there are 3 things they need to bear in mind in order to maximise their scores.
There are several different types of card available to but from the market. When a player takes a market card, it is placed alongside the character sheet board in it's specified spot.
A new row of market cards is dealt every round.
Play continues for 18 rounds until all 6 stats have 3 dice. Points can earned from several sources, these include:
Roll Player is a game with an intriguing theme. Because placing a die has so many consequences, play slows down quite a lot when both choosing and placing a die, so there feels like there is a lot of downtime between turns.
Apart from this, the game fine to play and when you complete Roll Player you will have an interesting character.
My first Roll Player character was: 'A concentrating, knowledgeable, intimidating, dedicated, honest, famous, chain-armour-wearing, blessed-mace-wielding, druidic, elven chosen one who's good at sleight of hand. His name is Derek!'
9th July 2019.
Tuesday is here and so is gaming night at 'The Sovereign' in Woking.
Elder Sign is a co-operative game where the players take on the role of intrepid investigators, driven to uncover the conspiracies that will bring about the end of the world without descending into mind-shattering insanity.
What's in a game?
Elder Sign is a push your luck game with some dice and a lot of cards.
Investigator's have 2 stats, health and sanity. You don't need me to tell you what happens if either reaches 0.
Investigator's also have a unique special ability each and some starting equipment.
The ancient one card contains some pertinent information.
There's a timing track that shows how close the ancient is to appearing.
There's also information on what happens if the ancient one appears and how to fight it.
There's a 'elder sign' track. If the players accumulate enough elder signs, they can prevent the ancient one even appearing.
Location cards contain multiple tasks. These take the form of rows of symbols (That match the symbols on the dice).
Each location card lists 'rewards & penalties'.
One of the location cards is the 'museum entrance'. Characters can be placed on this location card to rest & recuperate.
How's it play?
Before playing, a little setting up needs to be done.
The basic premise of the game is that the investigators complete the tasks on the location cards and to earn resources and elder signs. These can be used to win the game. But in the meanwhile, the clock is ticking...
When a player has their turn; they move their marker to a location card and try to complete one of the tasks on the card.
Each task will contain a number of symbols. The active player rolls the dice, any of the dice results that match the symbols for the current task are placed on to that task on the card. If all of the symbols are matched by dice results, then that task is completed.
If the task is not completed, the player has the choice to fail the task or continue rolling.
If the player chooses to continue rolling, they take the remaining unmatched dice -and discards one- and rolls them again. Thus repeatedly reattempting a task will eventually deplete a player's dice. If a player is ever in a situation where they do not have enough dice to complete a task, then they fail that task.
When a task is failed, voluntarily or otherwise. Then the active player suffers the penalties listed on the location card.
If a task is failed and a 'terror' result has come up on the dice, then the active player suffers an additional penalty.
When a task is completed, all the dice are returned to the active player.
If another task is available on the location card, then the active player may attempt to complete it.
If all of the tasks on a location card have been completed, then that location has been completed! The active player takes the listed reward and returns to the entrance.
When a player completes their turn, the clock advances. When the time reaches a certain point, it will cause the ancient evil to be spawned.
There are more rules:
There are rules for suffering terror.
Rules for monster appearing.
Rules for using weapons, equipment and spells.
Rules for going into otherworldy locations.
Rules for clues.
Rules for environmental effects that affect the game and so on.
If the players accumulate enough elder signs, they win the game.
If the ancient one appears, then the players must battle it. This involves rolling dice much like completing tasks. If the players succeed, then the ancient one is vanquished. If they fail to defeat the ancient one, then the players all fail and it's curtains for the earth!
Elder Sign is a push your luck game.
I played for the first time a few years ago with 2 other players and found it a hugely frustrating experience.
However, when I played it recently with 5 other players, it was a lot less frustrating. I guess watching other players getting luck as bad as mine is cathartic!
As a co-operative game about struggle against cosmic horror, Elder Sign is an OK game. It handles its theme well enough as you investigate the museum looking for ways to impending doom against the clock.
But I have small issue with the push your luck mechanic of Elder Sign.
With a push your luck game, you need a reason to 'settle' and a reason to... well 'push your luck'. The priorities of these reasons may shift according to the situation, but they need to always be there.
But when playing Elder Sign, sometimes it feels like that it's pointless to settle. Player's will suffer the same penalty, regardless of whether you choose to fail or are forced to fail. You only risk suffering terror if you push your luck - and that's not guaranteed. So it feels like there's little reason to not push your luck.
It's a small criticism, I know.
So would I play Elder Sign again? Going by past experience, I feel the game gets better with more play (Although that's true of the majority of games IMHO.) and Elder sign goes up to 8 players!
So with 4+ players, I would try it again.
29th June 2019
Gaming afternoon continues at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking and we concluded with 'Tiny Epic Galaxies'.
I've written about Tiny Epic Galaxies before here.
23rd June 2019.
Gaming day continues at 'The Sovereigns'.
The next game of the day is 'Celestia'.
Celestia is very similar to another game called 'Cloud 9', in fact both games are designed by the same person.
You can see my thoughts on Cloud 9 here.
Celestia is a fantasy-themed push your luck game about making a journey.
What's in a game?
Celestia contains a skyship placing piece that needs to be built. Annoyingly, when constructed, it does not fit in the game box! This means it must be constructed before and then deconstructed after every game session. Otherwise it's quite a nice prop for the game.
There are is a set of 'city' markers and several sets of small decks of 'treasure' cards for each of the cities.
There is also an 'equipment' deck of cards used to 'travel' in the game. Most of the cards in the deck contain symbols identical to those from on the dice (See below.). Some cards are 'power' or 'turbo' cards that give a different benefit.
There are 'event' dice; these are 4 custom six sided dice used to represent obstacles or events that must be overcome during the journey. Each die is identical and has 4 custom symbols on 4 sides and blank faces on 2 sides.
And finally there are 6 meeples for the players.
The components are pretty standard. But I feel I must add that the art on all of the cards and markers is excellent.
How's it play
Before play begins, the cities markers are set out in a specific order (From lowest to highest scoring.). Then the associated smaller treasure decks are placed next to each city marker.
The purpose of the game is to reach the last city (If possible.) to score maximum points. But if the skyship crashes along the way, then no points are scored by the passengers.
Players will be given the choice to abandon the skyship early and earn less points.
This is how play goes.
When a journey ends for whatever reason and before another begins: If one or more players have accumulated 50 or more points, they must declare it. Then all players tally their points, highest score wins.
Celestia is an easy to play and accessible push your luck game. It is a competitive game, but there are elements of co-operative play here. Because to reach the further destinations you will likely need other players to co-operate with you. This is doubly true if one player is rushing ahead in the scoring.
Comparisons with Cloud 9 are inevitable, they are both very similar, with similar strategies and mechanics.
But Celestia has a few tweaks that gives it a bit more depth.
Firstly, in the equipment deck, the 4 different types of card required to overcome obstacles from the event dice are not represented in equal numbers. This means it's less likely that certain cards will be dealt into players' hands. And this means that certain types of obstacles are harder to overcome. It's something to pay attention to.
Secondly, some of the power cards allow you to mess with the other players. Although in this game it seems strangely antagonistic. I've rarely seen these types of card used, possibly because of hidden scores means it's hard to know who to target.
And finally, hidden scores. In Cloud 9, there is a scoring track, so when a player reaches 50+ points, everyone else knows they need to push it in order to have a chance of winning. But in Celestia, with its hidden scores you can never know exactly what another player's score is. You can't afford to be complacent and need to keep accumulating your score.
It doesn't take too long to play either, meaning that it's a nice filler game. It's one to play.
I play, I paint.