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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Game Storm 12

I know you've all been awaiting this with huge expectations. Here is my annual GameStorm report. Enjoy!

The format is basically this: Game name, followed by a brief description (could be lifted from BGG) and then my personal experience of the play.

Thursday
Snow Tails
A race game on snow using dog sleds. To maneuver / turn, one dog must be pulling harder than another. Dodging trees is interesting.

We didn't finish the race; I'm not surprised, with 3 newbie players and only an hour to play - and the person running the game showed up 20 minutes late. Still, I like the game with the unique race method of dogs and pull for steering. If you like race games, this is a good one.

Power Grid - Factory Manager
Basically, this game is supposed to be in the Power Grid family, but it doesn't really have much to do with Power Grid. You run a factory producing goods, and buy tiles (Robots, Machines, Storage, and Optimization) to increase your income. The game is 5 turns and the player with the most money wins.

I've only played this once (twice, but the first time was a rules knowledge disaster), so I decided to set up the orange cone and see who would play. I got 2 players after about 20-30 minutes of waiting, and we were starting the second phase of the first turn when another guy showed up. So, we had four, which is good - I've played with 5 before, and I was interested in seeing how (or if) it played differently. No opinion there, the players played differently, and I'm not sure if the differences were in the number of players or the players themselves, but I tend to think the latter is more true. I came in 3rd out of 4 players, but I realized I was doing poorly on the 2nd to the last turn, and I was still planning growth instead of my end game. All in all, I enjoyed the game.

Agricola

A farming game, using your people to take actions. Build your house up, get animals, fences and stables. Plow and sow fields. Slaughter animals, bake bread, cook vegetables to feed your family.

I was teaching a new player (one who just played Factory Manager with me) and we played "Family Style" without the Occupations and Minor Improvements. I still think this is a good game. I probably could have been more helpful in my teaching, but he did well learning the game.

Merchants: Lords of the Sea
A card game where you trade goods, sell them on a variable market (prices are set by players) and sell goods. Whenever you sell, all players with that item makes money. There are extra cards that give you bonus powers - dockworker, etc.

Simple game; Dave snagged me on my way out for a late night quick last game. It was fun, but I won't go out of my way to play it. A good filler game. I tied for 1st out of 3 players.

Friday
Agricola
I saw the recruiter of the game walking around the game room with the box lid in his hand to advertise the game to be played. I just walked in and was not sure what to play yet, so I jumped in and started. And began looking at what I'd play next. I did okay; I had animals and fences earlier than the rest of the players, but was late getting kids / actions. I came in 3rd of 4 players.

Power Grid: Brazil
In Brazil, power providers prefer biogas for the production of electricity. Thus, players should consider the garbage power plants as biogas-fired power plants and the garbage resources as biogas tanks when playing with the Brazil maps. The fight for scarce resources is intense and will keep the players focused during the game!

Interesting game, tho we never made it to Step 3 - the winning player built to 15 plants, and powered 13; I and another could power 12, tying for 2nd place - we didn't count money so we didn't work out the tie. Not really worth it!

Bonus for me: I had my copy of the expansion and lent it to the organizer so that he could run 2 games later in the Con for Spain/Portugal and for the tournament on Sunday. I got a Flux Capacitor power plant card as a thank you gift.. Sweeeet! (its cost is 33 1/3, and it takes 4 of ANYTHING to power 6 cities).

Middle Earth Quest

A game of adventure and conflict set in the time leading up to the creation of the Fellowship. One player will adopt the mantle of Sauron and do his best to spread his evil influence across the lands. Up to three players become heroes and will do their best to foil Sauron's foul plots, and rally the peoples of Middle-Earth to their side.

Great game; I had a lot of fun playing it. We were doing our best to defeat Sauron (played by Dave) and in the end, both sides won and lost at the same time. Both sides won because we got the victory track markers to the winning area at the same time. We both lost because neither side's 'secret goals' were accomplished. Overall, I think it was an odd outcome, but the game was fun enough I didn't care who won.

Dragon Dice - Sealed Starter Tournament

The dice represent armies of different fantasy races and monsters which battle to control essential pieces of terrain. Any number of players can share in this struggle, although it's normally only 2 players. The first player to capture two terrains wins the game immediately. You might use spells for certain kind of armies to get better attacks or defense.

Our own Stumptown Dice Rollers Guild held its first tournament - run by the Washington rep, Dave. With several games, I won some, and I lost some - a few in great fashion. The end of the tournament was called due to time (JT conceded). The new player won the tournament, and got a starter army for his efforts.

Saturday
Dungeon Lords
You are the Dungeon owner! Pesky adventurers are going to maraude your beautiful dungeon, and you need to get monsters and traps to destroy them before they destroy your dungeon. Use imps to get gold, food and other resources to manage your dungeon.

This is a fun game, and the winning strategy is usually to go evil and get the points for killing the paladin that comes in to the most evil players dungeon. This was not the case, as I won the game by 2 points, and I didn't kill the paladin. I was never even evil enough to attract his attention. I basically was able to handle the standard adventurers and limit destruction to my dungeon. I think that it's not a winning strategy every time, but would depend on the players.

Mike Pondsmith
I was browsing the GameStorm12 booklet for the weekend and saw that Mike Pondsmith was going to be a guest designer for the Con. He designed one of my favorite RPGs - Teenagers from Outer Space. I picked this game up in my late teens (over 20 yrs ago!) and played it for a while with some friends - we all went to the same high school so it was great to run a game in an area everyone was very familiar with. My first read through the book had me laughing pretty hard, and the game itself is simple and fun to play.

Anyway, I met up with Mike and we chatted for a few minutes about TFOS and how hard it is for a game to be good and funny. "Funny is hard", Mike says, "It takes a lot of work to be funny in the right way for RGPs to work like TFOS should." He signed my first edition (he hadn't seen one in years) and although the 'little dice' that came with the game were missing, I remember them in the book when I bought it. He gave me his email address for more little dice, should I want them.

With Mike was his son, who was the inspiration for TFOS - he wanted to have an RPG for the younger generation to play. His son hadn't known that, and it was neat to see that interaction.

Savage Worlds RPG
Hellride - Hellforce One

This game was a sequel from last year, although I didn't play it. The genre is modern. There is a gate to another world, which seems to be high fantasy - Demons, Gorgons, Dragons, etc. So, there are high-powered monsters, but we also have missiles, tanks, fully automatic guns, grenades, and gate magic to transport across the worlds. I played the medic, and took a gambling quirk. We were recruited for a mission to the other world, due to Air Force One being attacked by demon-looking creatures, which then disappeared. The President and about 40 other passengers were on board. We got a tank requisitioned, some guns, ammo, and a gate 'Go Back Box'. Simple. Find the President, activate box, bickety-bam, we're home.

We gate over, and the first thing I do is lay out a betting pool for what would break first on the assault vehicle. We look around and see a big column of light that is obvious enough for us to see it a few dozen miles away; we figure that's where we're going.

First thing we run into is a stampeding herd of creatures - which turned out to be Gorgons - thousands of them. We manage to duck into a cave (vehicle and all) while they pass. In the cave, an interested pack of rats emerge. The commander got a claymore mine positioned in time, however. After the Gorgons go by, and the rat bits are cleaned off the windshield, we're ready to go.

We drive into a canyon, and notice figures on the rim of the cliffs above us. We watch them, and after a few miles, they start tossing rocks down at the vehicle - one lucky hit, but no damage. We use the turreted machine gun to suppress further attacks. We round a corner and see a crudely built rock wall; we come to a stop. Rocks come down, and we decide to go for the rock wall - which is more like a long pile of rocks than a wall. The vehicle struggles through the pile - the loose rocks aren't a problem, though they do slow down progress. On the other side, there are 5 creatures standing there, with what looks like war paint. One of them is obviously the chief. Surprisingly, they speak a broken English. They are wanting us to leave; we tell them we are looking for our Chief. They are concerned that we are here for 'gems'. We convince them we have no interest in these gems, and that we need to get to the column of light in the distance. They decide to trust us and show us a short cut towards the column of light.

Driving at a creeping pace uphill towards the light, we get to the plateau where the light is coming from. The scene: Air Force One is hovering about 30' off of the ground, and there are actually 5 beams of light that make up the column. The 5 beams form a pentagram, where each point has a small ritual of dancing and spell casting - apparently keeping the magical 'threads' intact. In addition to the five groups, there is a massive Demon-looking thing, and he's flanked by two important looking smaller guys - all three of them seem to be in the middle of supporting a spell, as well. Behind these three, is a regiment of Arabs, which we're none-to-keen on seeing.

Pour on the attack! Our first shot is a LAW missile into one of the five dancing groups (I voted for the big, nasty, ugly demon-looking guy, but was out-voted) and the group goes down. So does the magical thread. The plane rocks ominously in the sky, but stays where it is, just not as stable as before. Then the vehicle starts going, we track a path around the plane, aiming to run down each group at the base of each thread. During the whole loop, various other monsters jump the vehicle, and we manage to brush them off with gunfire and grenades. The Arabs split up and start setting up rocket launchers and the Big Demon decides to fly up in the air. Meanwhile, our gate expert is starting counter spells for the threads. The Demon comes down and throws a cone of flames on the vehicle, barely scorching it; one of the Arabs manages to get a missile off, it hits but the impact was low. The gate expert manages to work the spell so that he can swing the plane around, trying to hit the flying Demon with Air Force One! The second LAW missile is targeted on the big Demon, with a direct hit. This crushes the morale of the monsters running around attacking us, and we can concentrate on the missile launchers still being set up. The plane drops to the ground, hopefully not injuring anyone inside. The Arab groups are dealt with, and we get a few prisoners to 'question'. A few minutes later, we board the plane, get the vehicle against the plane, and make it back to Earth with a mostly-intact Air Force One. Casualties are surprisingly low for our side. After the excitement of returning, we are invited to the White House for a huge highfalutin reception.

Oh, and the driver won the bet - the windshield wipers were the first thing to break.

Overall, I really like the Savage Worlds system; I bought the 'Explorers Edition' for $10 - cheapest RPG I've bought so far!

Dragon Dice - 60 point battles

I picked an army of Undead - I used the Minor Death monster for the first time - I like the Plague special ability. In the first game, the Undead rocked the other two races, and I won quickly and quite soundly. The second game, well, we called it at 12:30 am as a draw; each army had one terrain, and not much was happening at the other one. Lotsa dice-rolling, lotsa magic, and lotsa high numbers. At one point, my army in an 8th face was hit for 66 points of melee damage; I saved for over 75 points. Both numbers were pretty high!

Sunday
Dragon Dice - Dice Trade
I managed to trade a bunch of extra Dwarves, Undead and Coral elves for some Treefolk - including the Unicorn.

NeverWhen RPG

NeverWhen was converted from d20 to 4e, and this was the 4e version. Neverwhen is a campaign setting that allows you to multi-genre a D&D game. You can have lasers and swords; plate mail and power armor; horses and hovercraft. It's interesting, if you want that sort of thing. Personally, I like playing the system, but I'd hate running it. Too much stuff going on.

Our party consisted of two shape shifters (Spell caster and a fighter type), a female space Orc (fighter), a blind leopard / cat person (monk), and myself, a natural construct (android with a soul) who was a technoMage.

Our task is pretty simple - escort a delegate for negotiations. We get jumped immediately by street thugs on the way. We manage to fight them off. Once at the location, we find out that there is a part two: we need to go and recover a stolen idol, which is on yet another planet.

On the new planet, magic works, but not lasers or much technology at all. We make it to the temple where this idol is supposed to be and are confronted by two guards. We manage to scare one off (one of the party shape shifters shifted into a demon), while the other one remains steadfast to his post. We rolled amazingly poorly and it took us forever to best the guard. We finally get into the temple, and there are two more guards inside. Well, with our luck so far, I decide enough was enough, so I didn't bother with the guards, and ran up to grab the idol immediately and run out. The blind cat person decides that a stick of dynamite would work out well in this situation, so as we make our leave of the temple, there is an explosion loud enough to be heard around the city. The idol is bigger than we thought, so I cast a magic bag spell, and pop it in the bag. Good thing, too, as security has been stepped up significantly. We get through security to the gate, and step back to the world where the negotiations are taking place.

They are happy we retrieved the idol, and everything turns out just ducky. We get paid a bonus, and wrap up the adventure pretty quickly.

Wrap-up
So, that was my weekend. I spent a lot of time with my friend Jacob (aka JT); we specifically wanted to check out a Savage Worlds game, and play in the sealed box Dragon Dice tournament. We got to do both. I also wanted to play Power Grid-Brazil and Spain/Portugal - I got Brazil in, but not Spain/Portugal. Oh well, I'll get it soon enough.

Next year, Jacob and I are thinking about running some d20 Thieves' World games. Maybe we'll even do the work to convert it to Savage Worlds. We've got a year, after all.