22nd December 2020
Tuesday night and 3 days to Christmas. Sitting in my living room and logged into Zoom on my laptop.
Time for another scenario on Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion.
Read my blog about it here.
3rd December 2020
Thursday evening in the living room, the central heating's on and I'm logged into Zoom.
Time for another remote scenario in Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.
Read my blog about it here.
27th November 2020
Friday is here, the end of another week in lock down is here. I'm logged into Zoom in my living room.
Our playthrough of scenarios for Gloomhaven continues.
My blog about it can be found here.
23rd November 2020
It's a Monday and I'm at home logged into Zoom on the laptop in my living room.
It's time for another scenario in Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.
Read my blog about it here.
20th November 2020
It's Friday night, the end of another week in lockdown 2. I'm in the living room on the laptop, logged into Zoom and the Gloomhaven Helper app.
Time for another scenario in Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.
Read my blog post about it here.
17th November 2020
It's a Tuesday and we're 2 weeks into Lockdown 2. I'm sitting in the living room, logged into Zoom and the 'Gloomhaven Helper'.
Which means that it's time for another scenario in Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.
My blog post about it can be found here.
13th November 2020
It's Friday the 13th, unlucky for some; not for us though! I'm logged into Zoom in my living room and will be playing through another scenario of Gloomhaven.
Once again Simon is hosting the game in his converted home-office while Matt, Colin and I join via Zoom foe our 1st 4 player game.
Read more about the game here.
11th November 2020
It's a Wednesday evening and I'm in the living room and logged on to Zoom.
Tonight is another mission in Gloomhaven.
This will be Matt's first game and we will be both playing over Zoom, watching the game through a camera staring down at the board and hosted by Simon.
Surprisingly, along with using the app, it works pretty well over Zoom.
My post about the game can be read here.
3rd November 2020
It's a Tuesday and I'm not at the Woking Gaming Club, I am however in Woking, in Simon's converted home-office for what would be the last time I play a game with a friend in person before lockdown 2 began.
It was an unusual setup, two us were in Simon's office and Colin was dialling in via Zoom, able to view the game through Simon's phone which was clamped above the table.
Tonight we played Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, the little sibling of Gloomhaven. Like Gloomhaven, it's a cooperative RPG with a legacy element.
Caveat: This blog post may differ a little from the ones I normally write. When we played the game, a number of the components were not used, instead they were replaced with an app, it also allowed Colin to remotely log into the app and see the same information we did. Additionally, both other players were very familiar with the game.
What's in a game?
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion comes with a lot of components and a lot of cards.
What art there is on the components is good and the components are of a high quality.
How's it play?
The game follows the paradigm of an RPG; there are a series of linked scenarios that form a campaign. As characters progress from scenario to scenario, they accumulate experience points and become stronger. Characters are persistent and they and their progress carry over between scenarios.
There are also legacy elements here, decisions that players make during the game will have some sort of effect later on.
The setup is fairly quick and simple, mostly because the game uses map books instead of tiles.
On to playing
In each round, the players will choose 2 cards from their deck to play. Enemy behaviour is dictated by the game.
A scenario will end when its win/lose conditions are met.
If the players win the scenario they gain experience points, characters gain experience points according to the scenario. Additionally; certain action cards grant characters experience points when played, these are added up as well.
When a character acquires enough experience points, they will level up and gain whatever benefits it confers.
During the game, enemies that are defeated will drop treasure. If characters collect these treasures, they gain gold after the scenario ends.
Gold can then be spent to acquire more or better item cards.
Next, there is an encounter as determined by a randomly drawn city card.
After this, players are given the choice of what scenario to attempt next. This may involve adding a sticker to the map or some other legacy type action.
There's a lot to think about here.
There's a lot of components to the game too and it might be a bit fiddly. But it seems to me that most of this occurs during setup. I can't imagined how much setup the full Gloomhaven requires without the map books?
The character-gameplay is actually pretty straightforward, simple to learn and goes smoothly enough.
Enemy behaviour may be a bit trickier and it probably pays to have some one who is familiar with the rules (As we did.) when playing.
The action card mechanic was pretty well implemented, it not only gives players options and a bit of flexibility, but meaningful decisions to make.
The rest mechanic is also a good addition, it forces players to act, be decisive and deters them from trying to play overly safe and spend too many turns resting to regain hit points.
Since a character deck only has 10 cards, it means that a plaery will empty their deck in 5 rounds. Then they have to decide to discard 1 card and miss a turn, or discard one at random and continue, which can be a hard decision.
Now you have 9 cards and only 4 turns before facing the same dilemma. Additionally, some cards are discarded when use and so on.
All of this serves to create sense of urgency, a need to complete the scenario before player decks become too depleted. Players will want to minimise the time they waste carrying out long rests.
Combat is a bit of a mixed bag.
There are a good number of special moves, conditions and effects that play a role in combat. The four different characters can feel different in combat because of it.
I dislike the cancel result on the combat deck that waste an attack, I imagine that if a player has set up a powerful move using a card that gets discarded - only to have that entire attack negated, it must feel gutting.
I'm not sure how I feel about using individual decks as a randomizer for combat, I can see the appeal of having a customisable individual randomizer for each player, but it seems like having components for the sake of having components. It works well enough, but I'm sure a similar effect could achieved with a single bunch of dice that are collated for individual rolls.
Gloomhaven/Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion are 2 games that are sort of chasing a board game holy grail. These are games that are trying to an give RPG style gameplay and experience, but without a GM.
It's a tricky goal; too simple and it becomes bland and repetitive, too complex and the game gets bogged down in rules, rules exceptions and components.
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion seems to straddle that line fairly well.
Although as I mentioned above, we did use an app to facilitate play. It did have the advantage of allowing a player to join in a board game where he played over zoom!
Maybe this is the way to go, where an app does the GM heavy lifting, I've seen at least one game that requires an app, no doubt there will be more games that do that.
But this raises the question of legacy, an older game can (And probably will.) be rendered obsolete if the companion app becomes unavailable.
Overall though; I was happy enough to play it and will be continuing with the campaign I joined.
27th October 2020
Gaming night at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues in what would the last game of the last meetup before Lockdown 2 came into effect.
The third and final game of the evening was 'Skulls of Sedlec', in what seems to be a game about digging up skulls and then errr... proudly displaying them in a pile for all to see?
Skulls of Sedlec is a microgame that comes from microgame publisher Button Shy who appear to specialise in creating games with 18 cards.
Their games are hand crafted and they aim to release 1 a month.
What's in a game?
As is befitting the name microgame, Skulls of Sedlec is small enough to fit in your pocket.
The wallet is of course a bit of a gimmick, but it's a nice addition and I like it.
How's it play?
The objective of Skulls of Sedlec is to create a pyramid shaped layout of cards. Points are scored depending on how cards are placed in relation to other cards.
The size of the pyramid depends on the number of players but always has 3 layers of cards and thus 6 layers of skulls. Layers of cards are 'offset' (Like bricks in a wall.), this is important when calculating which cards are 'adjacent' to other cards.
On to playing
When 'building' a pyramid, players must start at the bottom and work up, thus there must be at least 2 cards in a layer before a card can be placed on the layer above.
In their turn, a player can perform 1 of 3 actions.
Play continues until all cards have been taken and played into pyramids.
Then pyramids are scored, there are 5 class of skull and thus 5 ways to score points.
Highest score wins.
Simple to learn, but lots to think about. Skulls of Sedlec packs a some solid gameplay into a tiny package.
I really like that the face-down stacks of cards visually represent a graveyard and 'digging' turns them over. It's a clever touch and good example of maximising what's available in a game. Less can be more.
The 2 card hand limit is a great mechanic too: It gives players enough choice to give them tricky decisions, but it stops players from hording cards - making their decisions easier.
Every card can potentially score points, so every decision when playing a card is meaningful and you really can't ask for more from a game in my opinion.
Skulls of Sedlec is a 2 or 3 player game. It's worth noting that that there's an expansion that takes the player count to 4, adds a new class and increases the deck size up to a heady 24 cards!
A good little microgame that is a perfect filler with some depth. One I'd like to own and that's not just because it comes in a neat wallet (Although it does add to the appeal.).
I'm just glad that the publisher hasn't started numbering their wallet games, that would be too hard on my real wallet!
I play, I paint.