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This past weekend I played a few games and I wanted to talk about them a bit more.

First up Fall of Magic. This is a story-telling game more than a board game, but it's absolutely amazing. In the game, magic is failing and the last mage is dying and he is going to travel to the land Umbra far to the east to see if he can fix things. You play his compaions who travel along with him and try to save magic.

What sets this game apart is the scroll. The game is played on this scroll map that you slowly unroll to reveal new locatations (and roll up behind you once you've left an area). The mage travels from location to location and then each character has a chance to deploy to a sub-location at that spot and has a narrative moment. Once you and your fellow PCs have spent enough time at the location, one of the players picks up the mage and moves him to a new location (narrating the story from the mage's point of view).

The production levels are through the roof on this game. You get the scroll and your character is represented by metal coin tokens with a nice heft. It looks great, it feels great and it plays really well (assuming you play with people who want to tell an intersting story). We only got a little way into the scroll on our playthrough and it's clear that you could easily mark your last location in order to pick up and play the game later if you wanted.

There's some concern that the game may lack replayability, but there's a fair amount of gaming in just one complete pass through the scroll and the mage's path has branching options. There are also random islands that pop up during an ocean crossing. Aside from that, starting choices and interpetations of the various story prompts suggests that you could get a number of solid, lengthy games before you things felt stale.

It's well worth checking out as a game and a piece of art.

I also got a chance to introduce 7 Wonders to a friend. I've played a few games before but this was the first game with my copy. Seven wonders is a card-drafting civilization-building game. Each round starts with a hand of seven cards. You pick one and pass it the remainders along. Some cards are resource/economic cards that allow you to build the point-scoring cards you really want. You can also burn a card to build up your "wonder". Each step of the Wonder you complete either gives you victory points or some special ability.

The game plays fast, the decision making feels solid without being overwhelming and the best part is that the game is pretty well balanced so that even if you have a crap game and play terribly, you probably won't be dismally behind and may end up in a better position than you expected. I've got one of the expansions (Cities) which I haven't tried yet -- in part because the base game is so good I'm not sure you want to be larding on expansions like that.

After 7 Wonders, I got to try another game of mine that I've been meaning to play but had so far failed to get the plastic wrap off the box. The game was Splendor and it's basically a gem-drafting game as opposed to a card-drafting game. The (very thin) premise is that you're a Renaissance gem merchant trying to put together a gemstone supply chain that secures raw gems, transports them to artisans who make them into finished jewelry that rich nobles want to buy. With the expection of the nobles, alot of this is really abstracted. In short, you take some gems from a central pile (which are these delightful poker-chip tokens) and use them to buy cards. Some cards have victory points on them, but all the cards show one of five gemstones and act as a permanent gem for future purchases. So if you buy a ruby card and you see another card that costs 2 rubies you only need the token (which you have to spend) and the card (which you keep) to get it. Eventually you get enough of these cards, you can buy things for free. Get enough cards of the right colors and you earn noble tiles with victory points on them. When someone hits 15 points, everyone else gets a last turn and most victory points wins.

The game starts off pretty slowly as you have to spend a turn or two collecting the gems you need, then buying stuff, then scrounging for more gem tokens. Eventually, as the cards build up, the turns go faster and then the nobles start going out and the game races to a conclusion. I thought the game was fun but I won pretty handily so I'm biased. I do want to take it out for a couple more spins. I think with some further play the subtleties of scoring will become better understood. My guess is that you want to be a close second so that when the first player over 15 has to stop, you get a chance to scoop up some more points and take the win. In my game, I just gobbled up noble tiles and got so far ahead no one could stop me.

Finally, I played another game of my old arch nemisis Pandemic. I'm pretty sure that while this isn't a bad game like Munchkin or Killer Bunnies, it's probably my least favorite cooperative game. Mostly because the theme (stop global pandemics) clashes with the mechanics. Specfically give/take knowledge. To cure a disease you need 4/5 cards of the disease's color. You can give/take cards from another player but to do that, you and the other player have to be in the same city on the card you want to give/take. So if you need a blue card and I've got a blue card for London, we both have to go to London to make the swap. I know why that rule is there, but all I can think is -- "what? no cell phone?". Map movement is similar. You can move from city to city to city or you can jump to a city if you play a card with that city on it. Of course, now that card is discarded and not available for cures. Again, the movement system makes me think "what? four deadly plagues break out all over the world and we don't have a travel budget?".

I dunno. Just not a game I care for. Defenders of the Realm is more thematic but I suspect Forbidden Desert/Island is a better game.

Anyway, lots of fun stuff this weekend.

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So I'm running a game for a friend and her kids. I'm using Numenera because that's what I'm running for my regular gaming group and I can recycle stuff (also I only have to remember one ruleset).

Anyway, both grown-ups and kids are playing -- mostly so that the party isn't made up entirely of pre-teen boys who have a war crime for every occasion. Wisely, the mom has taken the "Who Leads Others" focus which means she can have a civil discussion and can sort of corral the rest of the PCs.

This also makes her the person "who knows a guy" so last weekend I said "Oh yeah, Uolis knows who you are, he calls you over and says..."

"Wait," I say, "what's your character's name again?"
"I didn't write one down," she says.
"Well you should really have one, that's sort of a key bit about the PC."
[pause while we think up a name]
"Oh, just call me Mom", she says.
" m-a-w-m, Mawm? I can go with that."
"No I was thinking more m-a-u-g-h-m, Maughm."

And thus it was.

As an aside, Numenera (or any member of the Cypher System it works off of) is a pretty good game system for pre-teens and up. It's a little complicated for younger kids, and it's easy to get lost in the choices when setting up your character, but in actual play it move along briskly and offers a fair amount of choice for players without being too overwhelming.

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...sometimes I review games!
So this weekend I played:

Pack the Pack -- a Tetris-like tile-laying game where you try to fill a back pack with matched colors of loot. It was...ok, but the basic scoring mechanism seemed to be a bit broken (with 3 players anyway) and the advanced scoring seemed like too much to deal with.

Love Letter -- the micro card game that took the gaming world by storm when it first came out. I can see what all the fuss is about. It's a short, filler game, but there's a fairly good mix of luck and tactical play. From a pool of 16 cards you try to be the last suitor standing in the round. Win five rounds and you win the game. Would not mind having this in the collection.

Hanabi -- A cooperative game where everyone works together to create an impressive fireworks display by playing cards in six colors down to the table. The gimmick here is that you hold your hand of cards face out. So you can't see what you have. I only screwed up once on that score. Play consists mostly of providing one of two pieces of information to another player about their hand and managing the token system that lets you make those statements. Some shining moments of logical deduction in this game. Possibly too easy to collude on the game via vocal inflection but it is fun.

Bacchanalia -- this is the card-based re-working of a story game by the same name. Everyone plays someone on the run from Rome who all turn up in a village to meet up with their beloved and escape as Bacchus and a few other Roman gods show up for fun and games. Usually everyone dies.

I have been dying to play this game for a while but it's designed for dark, sexy stories and that can be a hard sell for most game nights. We only went for an hour due to time limits, but oh man is this game fun. It's a little fiddly at first, but once you've been through a round or two the pace picks up. The artwork on the cards is gorgeous and it really pushes for these amazing stories if you're willing to commit to it. Totally something I want to try and play through to the end sometime.

Pretty much a perfect Saturday.

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So over the past couple of years I've been painting up boxed fantasy sets by RAFM in their old Shadows and Steel line. It was a lot of fun, but I finally worked through all the sets. It made me interested in trying to put together my own fantasy warband -- not for D&D or anything but just as a little project. Maybe adapt them to Song of Blades or something.

I knew who was going to be the core of the group. For about a year, I played a wizard by the name of Adjo -- who was, to put it mildly, kind of an asshole. He wasn't specifically trying to antagonize the other party members, it's just he was a wizard and a human and that made him better obviously. But part of being the better man is not to be too hard on others who can't help their unfortunate lot in life and these other yahoos were really helping to further his goals so...

Anyway, a super-fun character to play and I had a reaper mini that really captured his look. A co-worker of mine was big on painting minis and his stuff was really good (he liked Napoleonics). I gave him my mini and then it never got painted and then he was laid off and we lost touch and...blah. I never got around to getting another copy of the mini before the game ended.

But after the Shadows and Steel stuff, I decided to put together a warband centered around Adjo. Reaper minis has a wide range of interesting figures so I picked out a bunch and put them together.

Adjo's and Company )
A bit about my process )
bonus figures! )

I'm planning on moving house so these will probably be the last minis I paint for awhile. I really need to start bulking up my terrain collection. I want to start using those 15mm WWII figures I've got but they need something to fight on.

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So this past weekend we started up a new game. This time we're doing 5th Ed. D&D and apparently the plot is based off an old CRPG game the DM enjoyed. This session we made up characters and kinda got the ball rolling.

so let me tell you about my guy )
In which our heroes get sent up the river... )

So this is my first outing with the new edition of D&D. We didn't really do much combat so we didn't put the system through its paces. I'm actually most interested in the way that spell casting is set up in 5th ed. Rather than memorize a specific spell for each spell slot you have available, you've got a sort of "mini-library" of memorized spells. Pay the appropriate spell slot and you can cast it as many times as you have that spell slot. This provides and interesting level of flexibility. I'd be curious to see how wizards run in this system, but our particular setting has an anti-arcane magic deal going on so it wasn't really in the cards.

Besides, I don't often play fighter types and haven't done a paladin before so this should be fun.


GM: "You find the best part of town to get a great meal."
Garret: "Yes, you looked it up on Jauntadvisor"
Pinja: "And cross checked the reviews for it on Shout"

Garret: "What's your character's name?"
Eric: "Eric"
Garret: "...Eric the Cleric?"
GM: "Ask her how she spells that?"
Garret: "Uh, how do you spell that?"
Eric: "With an 'E'"

NPC: "So how old are your parents?"
Asa: "Oh, you know, six-seven hundred years old?"
GM: "You just stop counting after the first three hundred"
Pinja: "You kinda have to cut them open and count the rings"
Eric: "You should see the birthday cakes. Now we know why they need all those forests"

Elves are very Continental. Insert conversation about Legolas on a Moped. Ciao!

Asa: "So how long has this wine been aged?"
Joffrey: "20 years!"
Asa: "Ah. For children then"

Pinja: "She probably gets more blood on her sword shaving"
GM: "Shaving her...legs?"
Eric: "You know how badly leg hair catches on chainmail?"
Pinja: "You know how can tell a master two-handed swordsman?"
Group: "...?"
Pinja: "Smooth ball sack"

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So we had our wrap-up session of Apocalypse World a couple weeks ago so I should tell folks how it turned out.

A Pirate's Life For Me )

That pretty much was it. The pirates were defeated, Doc was gone (for good it seems) and Skel has some new playmates. It was quite a bit of fun. There are a number of tweaks I'd make when running an Apocalypse-powered game in the future, but for a first-time with the system, I think I did ok.

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I've been bad about keeping up so here's a short synopsis.

I'm sad I didn't keep better notes )

Next session will be our last and then it's on to D&D5. I'm playing a Paladin!

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More notes from the game.

here be notes )

So lots of problems for Scooby and the Gang to hash out. We're trying to get a read on how long it will be until the next GM is ready to run so that will determine how to run the pacing. There's also the holidays coming on so be might not be regular again until after the New Year (yes, yes, there's nothing regular about me at all I hear you cry).

Oh I'VE got something regular...

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More notes for my Apocalypse World game:

Psychics and Pirates )

And that’s where we called it.

The game continues to be a good time and people seem to be having fun. Looking forward to the next game.

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Once again, we got together for another session of Apocalypse World and once again, I took some notes. Not quite as narrative as my other campaign notes, these mostly help me remember the broad strokes of what happened.

The Heart of Darkness Now )

We called the game at this point. I continue to be really happy with the system and I like the way it provides a short, focused prep session for the GM after the first game and then you can just let things roll, but also leaves room to improvise as players come up with stuff. Originally I was going to hold Doc in reserve, but Skel accepted the invitation so he came on a little early.

I'm also super pleased that Ponch opened his mind. It's always fun when characters operate outside their areas of specialization and mind-opening is something that has an enormous risk/reward potential. I'm hoping to get everyone to open their mind at least once, but when the Warden finally does so, I think it'll be something special.

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So our gaming group has switched to a new game. This time we’re doing Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker and I’m running it. We just went through our first session and here’s the write-up. Unlike last game, I’m not going to do this in character, I’m just going to give an overview of what’s going on.

let me tell you about my game )

And that’s where we called it. The character creation in Apocalypse World is fun and it really helped gel up backstories and flesh out the world as we went along. We probably spent as much or more time on that as we did following folks around and seeing what happens.

Now that the first session has got the pot stirring, I get to turn up the heat. We’ll see just what makes these bad-asses tick.

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As much as I never want to see Nortrig again, I can't say as it hasn't been very, very good to us. Despite the fact that Nortrig rubles aren't the most stable of currencies, we've got an entire cargo hold full of the them. The conversion fees won't even make a dent. In short -- we're disgustingly rich.

War profiteering for fun and profit...eering )

The big question is what to do with all this cash. When Sanna was threatening to leave, she mentioned going off and becoming a farmer. It's not a career I can see her excelling in and the crop she knows best, she's likely to smoke through before she can sell it. It did give me an idea though. With this cash we can set up a station like Second Sunrise and grow all the black weed we want in international airspace. Then we just use the Pelican to make deliveries. Needs a bit more fleshing out but I think it's got a lot of possibilities.

* * *

So this was the closer for our first game. We might come back to the Pelican and her crew in the future, but we've reached a good stopping point so we'll switch over to something else. I will be taking over the GM reins and running a few sessions of Apocalypse World (which I've been dying to do for some time). Hopefully I won't kill everyone first session.

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Well, after our recent adventures in hijacking pirate ships, plural, our trip to a warzone to make a delivery has been positively relaxing.

Nortrig ventured, Nortrig gained )

So on the one hand, the Pelican is particularly good at spiriting people away from danger. On the other hand, this guy, if he’s genuine has the worst sense of discretion I have ever seen in someone concerned for the safety of a family member. At any rate, we made a supper date with his brother and we’ll see what comes of it. Hopefully not a long stint in jail.

* * *

A short but sweet session. We might be switching off to another game soon, people are pitching their ideas. Best bit from the evening:

Wrench (from engine room) to Brendan (who’s piloting the ship): Throttle the engine back.
Brendan: Uh...OK…Throttle the engine back
Wrench: Throttling back...wait.

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It has been a most unusual week. When all is said and done, however, we are a good deal richer and I’m feeling much more confident about our chances of slipping into Nortrig and making the delivery as scheduled. What’s a warzone after a few pirate attacks?

In which we fight pirates )

So with the crew rested and ready it’s on to Nortrig.

* * *

Just a marathon session of a game and it was definitely Sanna’s star turn. Since she was the resident combat monster it only stands to reason, but Wrench and I are almost useless in a fight and she had some astounding rolls to boot. It’s certainly upended the rest of the crew’s easy understanding of Sanna.

way more funny stuff than this, too much stuff happening for notes )

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Finally! A paying gig! And we’re finally away from quake-ravaged Greenbough, which is a nice enough place I suppose, but you can only live on appreciation for so long.

Things turned out better than expected )
* * *

And now, the comedy bits…

again, we had a lot of laughs )

Again, the game is fun and now we fly into danger. Should be good.

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I keep this journal so I don’t have to keep track of all my lies. Sadly I can’t consult it in most social settings. Luckily, our supper with the local Baron has gone ok and now I just have to figure out how to make it through breakfast.

Fun and Games in High Society )

Anyway, Lady Selene made it back to her bedroom discreetly enough and I roused Wrench so I guess it’s off to breakfast now.

* * *

Comedy bits. We had quite a few of these. Mostly “Alternate Universe” cutscenes.

no really, quite a few )

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I’m happy to report that we weren’t eaten by some subterranean monster and are the darlings of the town.

Wherein we save the children )

Still, I’d say we did a pretty bang up job. All this effort, however, really chewed up the time. We’re expected at the Baron’s for supper tomorrow night and I haven’t had a chance to explain the spoon situation to Sanna. A very grateful town has put us up in the nicest still-standing hotel in town so we should have a good night’s sleep and be quite presentable for the occasion.

* * *

I didn’t write down any quotes but it’s still a fun game.

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It's been a busy couple of days and I am about to venture forth into the ruins of an underground city that's probably full of monsters's a good time to catch up on paperwork.

How I wound up in an underground cavern )

I am not cheered by this news. I’m wondering if I should stuff wax in my ears. At any rate, we’re taking a break while we decide what to do next.

* * *

Comedy gold:

Sanna or I referring to the crew: The three of us--
Wrench: You mean the four of us!
Rocky: Chitter-chitter!

Sanna: The secret to being a pilot is keeping a level head. [makes a “level-head” sign]
Wrench and Rocky mimic the “level-head” sign

To him, that’s the safer arrangement:
Working out the sleeping arrangements with our expanded crew…
Me: So I guess Ian and Brendan will bunk together.
Wrench: No, Brendan and Brenda should bunk together.
Me: *stares*
Wrench: It’s ok, they’re not related.
Me: I keep forgetting, you’re royalty.

Wrench’s new catchphrase:
Anyone: What’s th--
Wrench: Nevermind!

Always keep the door closed:
Ian: Why is the cockpit always sealed?
Wrench: Security!

When we brought our young pilot aboard, Wrench had to race back ahead of us to vent the cockpit.

Rocky’s super-helpful:
Me: Oh we’ve got smoke detectors but they don’t work because Rocky keeps stealing the batteries!
Wrench: But they’re already hidden away in the detector, he doesn’t need to keep them on his person.
Me: Ah, but he’s discovered the joys of licking them.

How the next character point will be spent:
Wrench comes into the engine room to find Ian and Rocky working on a complex piece of machinery.
Wrench: Whatcha doing?
Ian: What? We're repairing the flywheel interlink. You knew that.
Wrench: I didn't know you were working on anything.
Ian: You've been helping me this whole time.
Wrench: I just got up.
Ian: This is crazy, you've been helping me for the past two hours. We talked about it in detail and...
*looks down at Rocky who's handing him the wrench he just asked for*
Rocky: Chitter-chitter

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I’m playing in an RPG! It’s been a while. For this outing, we’re using Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM) which is a universal game system with a focus on anime-like genres. This particular game is set in a sky-island, steampunky setting. Last Exile and Nausicaa are the big influences here. So I’m keeping a journal.

* * *

After that incident with the manifests a few weeks ago, I realized that someone had better start doing a better job of keeping track of the various ship’s logs we have on board the Patchwork Pelican. In particular, someone should keep an accurate log so that our slightly-less-accurate logs aren’t so obviously less-accurate when being perused by authorities with an eye for detail. As I’m the person responsible for the paperwork around here, that someone should really be me.

So let's start with me... )

So it’s been a busy day. I don’t know if that thing with Nick will ever start up again, but I’m hoping we impressed the locals with our efficiency and quick action. Legitimate business doesn’t tend to pay as well, but it’s quiet and that’s always a plus.

* * *

A couple of quotes from the game:

Beverly (to Wrench who’s just failed to turn us in to a flying pump truck): Why are you wet?
Wrench: Nevermind.

Beverly (to the guy who took us to the fuel depot): Can you drive this thing?
Man: Yeah.
Beverly: Then get up here!

At several points during the game, you had this:

EXTERIOR SHOT: Panic, chaos, fire, screaming, running around trying to save the day.
INTERIOR SHOT -- PELICAN COCKPIT: Sanna, in a haze of smoke, slowly nodding to Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Going to Be Alright (Three Little Birds)”.
EXTERIOR SHOT: Panic, chaos, fire, screaming, running around trying to save the day.

So we’re off to a good start. Our plan is to do a short 3-4 session game and then either quit, keep going or do something else. I’m hoping that by committing to a short game arc, we wind up actually playing more than we would have if we made some open-ended commitment.

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So in January, some of the guys down at the store started playing Chain of Command, a platoon-sized WW2 skirmish game. People had sort of settled on Bolt Action as their go-to ruleset for this (and indeed, I painted up a bunch of 28mm Soviets), but Chain of Command really blew me away. There's a real focus on good tactics and the fog of war. There's also a short pre-game "patrol phase" where both sides maneuver to set up "jump-off" points where their forces will enter during the actual game. This eliminates a lot of the tedious early maneuvering most games have and basically sets your forces up within shooting distance of the enemy.

A fun game and the guy championing this stuff has mostly 15mm figures. That's good, 15mm is sort of my preferred scale (since my bad paint jobs aren't as noticeable) so I figured I'd paint up a platoon.

In the past two months I've done 4. So I've painted over 120 figures and can field a platoon for every major combatant of WW2 in Europe. So...I think I'm into this game. At any rate, because there's such a dump of photos showing off everything, I'm hiding stuff behind cuts.

First up, the Americans )

Now I have WW2 Soviets in 2 scales! )

The Brits )

And finally, some Germans for all those other guys to fight )

My skills are improving )

So that's how I've been spending my free time the past couple of months. I need to paint up some vehicles for each of these groups (and maybe add a few more support troops), but I'm ready to give this a rest for a bit. The next item on my docket is the last of the RAFM Shadows and Steel boxed sets I've been working at on and off the past couple of years -- The Conquistador Dwarves! Should be a fun project.



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September 2017

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