Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Game of Arkham Horror

I've only played three turns of this game but I already love it. It heavy going trying to work out the rules and remember everything that's going on but the game rewards you for the effort with a level of flavour and atmosphere that's usually reserved for role playing games.

The base game has a heap of stuff and you could easily play it and never get the same game twice. But those of you who know me and my addictive nature won't be surprised to know I've already ordered the Kingsport Horror expansion which adds another board and another metric ton of cards and tokens. I think it'll fit on my table. Speaking of tables it's currently taking up the entire kitchen table so I'll probably have until lunch to finish up or pack up, I'll try to take some photos of the game before either happens.

I should also mention that the game has great solo play, which is fortunate as my kids are too young for the subject matter and my wife would never play this.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Not Exactly Gaming Related…

It’s been pretty quiet on the gaming front for a while now and it’s largely due to me just being too buggered.  It’s not a lack of motivation, it’s this:

Just imagine the little kid as a 30 something white guy with no co-ordination…

It’s only taken me 29 years to release my inner “Larusso” but I’ve finally started to learn Karate.  It’s a hell of a lot fun and a hell of a lot of hard work.  So for the next couple weeks I probably won’t be posting too much as I’ll likely be curled up in the foetal position waiting for the Deep Heat to do it’s magic.

It didn’t help the nerves that I was put in a beginners class where I’m twice the age of all the other students combined.  Neither did punching myself in the ear… twice.

Hopefully they’ll teach me the crane kick next week…

Or maybe even that drum technique…

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dungeon & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft

The friendly local game store has been getting in a lot of new games in the lead up to xmas and just the other day I saw them putting Castle Ravenloft up on the shelves.  And after a few days of procrastinations I just couldn’t resist any more and went and got a copy.


This game is HUGE.  It comes absolutely packed with cards, counters, tiles and miniatures. 

RavenloftSolo01 RavenloftSolo02

The miniatures are “reprints” of existing D&D miniatures which ensures their compatibility with their skirmish game.  To keep the game price down though the miniatures come unpainted, which is something I’ll rectify one day.  A  nice touch is that they’ve used harder plastic for these miniatures so they don’t suffer as much of the bent sword syndrome that most of the D&D and Star Wars miniatures have.


I think I’ve best heard the rules described as “D&D 4th Edition Lite with No Added Role Play”.  This game has dungeons and it comes with dragons but “Dungeons & Dragons” it aint.  It’s basically a dungeon crawler, all combat - all the time.  Now this isn’t a bad thing and the rules keep things moving along at a brisk pace that makes sure the game never gets dull.  The game also has a few elements that I found quite innovative and refreshing:

  • When a character ‘explores’ a new section of the map a new dungeon tile is placed and a monster is spawned.  That monster is represented by a miniature on the table and a card that is placed with the player who spawned it.  That monster (or mosters) are activated during the “Villian” phase of that player.  It works with ease and creates an initiative process that “feels right”.
  • The second innovation is what allows the game to be played solo or cooperatively: each monster card has a list of conditions and actions that you evaluate in order each time the monster activates.  It may be something like “If the monster is 2 or more tiles away from the nearest hero it will move adjacent to that hero and attack with a pounce attack”.  Followed by “If the monster is adjacent to a hero it will attack with a bite”.  It’s simple and it makes it quite clear what each monster will do.

The dungeon tiles are laid out almost randomly.  The adventure guide will state which tiles will be used for the dungeon entrance and most will state to place certain named tiles in certain positions in the tile draw deck.  When placing a tile you must place the tile so that the edge with a black or white triangle matches up with the edge of the tile you are currently standing on.  It’s simple enough that my five year understood within minutes.

The game comes with an adventure book with a dozen or so adventures all themed around Castle Ravenloft and our favourite Vampire Strahd.

The first adventure is a solo quest and I took the opportunity learn the rules and get all nostalgic about adventures past.

I took the Dwarven Cleric and had to escape the crypt before Strahd woke up.  Each tile I placed with a white triangle increased a timer that marked sunset.


A quick shot of most of the cards, tokens and status markers.  The pile of dungeon tiles is HUGE.

RavenloftSolo05 RavenloftSolo06

A shot of the game on the last turn.  I only just made it to the exit in time.


The game took a little getting used to, I’m a second edition player myself.  High armour classes are good now, (no more THAC0’s – woo hoo!) so it’s a case of roll d20 and add attack bonus to beat armour class… easy.  Each attack does a fixed amount of damage and state effects like “slowed” or “immobile” are automatic so no saving throws required.

At the first read through of the rules I was a little disappointed and kept thinking “this isn’t D&D”.  But after playing the game I realised that “it is D&D” but it’s “not roleplay”.  All the staples are there: brick fighters and wizards with magic missiles all running to the clearic for help when things get rough.  You need to play as a team and coordinate exploration otherwise you’ll get overrun with monsters.

What I Liked

  • Playing with my kids.  We were on this adventure together, we’d all win or we’d all lose.  My eldest loves the game and got most of the concepts from the get go, I think we’ll be playing a lot.  My youngest struggled to maintain interest for the whole game but picking up his character didn’t slow the game down and it’s likely we’ll play with two characters each from now on anyway.
  • Fun: this game takes the best parts of D&D combat and puts it all in a retail box.  And lets face it, we played D&D because it was cool to kill imaginary monsters and get lots and lots of imaginary loot.
  • It’s D&D: or the closest I’ll get to playing D&D for a while.
  • Miniatures: lots and lots of miniatures

What I Didn’t Like

  • I would have liked to make my own character but it’s probably nothing swapping the mini out wouldn’t fix anyway.  I’d just like my rogue to feel like “my rouge”.
  • Loot: you don’t get much.  I’m not asking for a Vorpal Sword or a Holy Avenger here.  A short sword +1 will do for starters.  Could easily be fixed with some home brew cards but I’m hoping an expansion will remedy this.
  • Only first and second level characters?  The game is pretty harsh on the characters and life expectancy isn’t too high but let players get to 10th level and they’ll keep trying.
  • There isn’t too much about this game I’m that I’m really not happy with but if I had to pick something I’d say that once again the designed have designed a box insert that simply doesn’t expect the players to put sleeves on their cards.  There’s a spot for everything in this box and it holds everything perfectly, until you put sleeves on the cards and they no longer fit.


Yes please!  There’s the Wrath of Ashardalon coming out in 2011 which I’m sure to snap up.  But I’d like to see a set of cards made available that allowed the use of at least some of the miniatures already available. 

Some more interesting tiles wouldn’t go astray either.  The game as-is has plenty of scope for some fantastic adventures but I hope the game gains enough popularity (cough sales) that Wizards pays this game the attention is desires.

Or if they wanted to be really cheeky they could put articles and cards in their magazines Dragon or Dungeon.  I’d buy a subscription if it got me new stuff for the games.

Bottom Line

It’s not the Strahd I remember but it’s defiantly the fun that I remember.  I may even pick up the Red Box to see what all the fuss over fourth edition is all about.

Monday, November 1, 2010

So Close, Yet So Far…

The Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game arrived today.  The box was intact but it did look like it had been kicked all the way from England.  The contents were pretty much safe and sound, the main game box had a crink in one side that should push out easily enough.


The urge to start open the boxes and start playing is killing me.  I’ll have to put them away out of sight.  After all I only have to wait eight, long… tempting… weeks.  So working of the dispatch and delivery dates for this stuff, the Talisman stuff should be here early next week.  And to top it off I can’t distract myself by buying anything off my wish list because of the Secret Santa.

Ooohh, so this is what it’s like to be driven insane.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


With Talisman coming this xmas I thought it might be a good idea to ease the kids into it with some games of HeroQuest.  I lost my boxset years ago and I’ve managed to build an almost complete set from a few eBay purchases.  The only thing I’m missing is one combat dice (3 instead of four) and the hero miniatures.  A quick dip into my Lord of the Rings collection found some suitable hero miniatures in Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas.


The brave heroes all ready to venture forth, Ethan (left) took the wizard and the dwarf while Dylan had the elf and barbarian.  I played the Evil Wizard, muwhahahahahaha…

The wizard was feeling very adventurous and scouted out ahead while the others dealt with the nasty inhabitants of the dungeon… only to run into some serious trouble of his own.


A quick sleep spell to put down one of the chaos warrior and then a hasty tactical retreat… right into an even bigger mess!

HeroQuest03 HeroQuest04

Things were looking bad for the wizard until the dwarf finally managed to come to help.  Amazingly the wizard survived and headed back to the barbarian for a bit of protection.

Only to be killed by a wandering monster when searching for treasure.


I found out after the game we we playing with an incomplete spell deck.  One of the spells was doubled up and the missing spell: Heal Wounds.

Fun was had by all and the kids are keen to play again.  After playing a lot of Carcassonne the setup time for HeroQuest seemed to take forever.  Talisman is going to be even worse… I’ll have to look into some of the card holders and tuck boxes on Board Game Geek to help manage the components better.

The Dice Tower Secret Santa

The guys over at The Dice Tower are once again running their Secret Santa gift exchange.  This is an awesome idea, basically you send your details to the guys at the Dice Tower with a wish list of games you would like to receive.  They work out who you are going to be a Secret Santa for and send you their details.  You then simply make a purchase based on their list and send it off.

Have a look here to see what people got sent last year.  Looks to be a fun event so head on over to The Dice Tower and sign up.  If you don’t: then you’ll be visited by three ghosts, one of Christmas past, one of… ah you get the idea.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I’ve been bitten by the board game bug lately, or is it a case of war game burnout?  I don’t know for sure but the concept of a game in a box is very appealing at the moment.  So in continuation of this trend I picked up a copy of Carcassonne by Rio Grande Games.pic166867

It’s a tile game where players earn points by placing randomly drawn tiles to build cities, roads and farms.  Very simple concept with very addictive gameplay.


My eldest (eight) picked up the game in under 5 minutes and by the end of the first game had most of the basic tactics down.

The first of our two games tonight was much closer with me winning by a mere point.  During our second game it seemed like he had forgotten how to play and was starting cities everywhere but not finishing any of them.  When I questioned him about it he replied “It’s ok Dad I know what I’m doing”.  In the latter part of the game he joined them all up into an uber 17 tile city with 5 heralds (totalling a whopping 44 points it beat my current score on it’s own) and to add insult to injury he had placed farmers in strategic places to not only gain points from his cities but most of mine as well.

After totalling his points it was obvious there was no need to count mine, I was owned.

I’m so proud.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Talisman Stuff

I can’t help myself… well I can usually but when a good offer comes along I seem to lose all resolve.

When I was ordering the Talisman stuff I was really keen on getting the Dungeon and Reaper expansions since they seem to be very popular with those “in the know” on sites such as Board Game Geek.  Sadly both of those expansions were unavailable at my usual haunts Maelstrom Games and Milsims Games.

I turned to eBay and couldn’t find anything that had a reasonable price AND reasonable postage.  I took a gamble with some “Make an Offer” entries though and while going through the deluge of “Offer Declined” messages tonight I noticed one lonely “Offer Accepted”.  Woo Hoo!  So I managed to pick up a new copy of the Reaper expansion for less than retail including postage from the US.  I’m as shocked as I am happy!


This does mean I’ll need more card sleeves now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Man Cave Update

The other day my managed to score two more sets of shelves and a table for my man cave.  Great news, except it would mean I’d have to get back to cleaning it up to make room for them all.

Thankfully most of the dirty work has already been done, now it’s more of sorting stuff out and making some tough decisions on stuff that has been hanging around in boxes for years.


Here’s the two tables in painting mode (left) and gaming mode (right).  In gaming mode they measure 4x5.5 feet which should be perfect for anything I play.  If I ever feel the need to go 6x8 I can easily make up some chipboard tops.  The grey table is about 4cm shorter than the white table but I can sort that out by making some risers for the legs.

ManCaveUpdate_02 ManCaveUpdate_03

The TV still works, I was afraid that it wouldn’t after getting shifted around so much.  While I was unpacking I noticed the Dreamcast and just couldn’t resist.  Luckily there’s a couple comfy lounge chairs to go back in here.  Anyone up for a game, I’ve got bags on Taki.


And if I ever get tired of the Dreamcast, XBox, Playstation (1&2), N64 and the Saturn then I have this baby...


Sort of, the PC in it died years ago and the sound has never been wired up.  One day though.

And now for the pièce de résistance:


This used to hang front and centre in my lounge room, sadly it’s not even allowed in the house anymore.

There’s still a bit more work to do in sorting out some boxes and I’m hopeful that I’ll get it done this weekend.  Now if the ruddy electrician would just hook up the power then I can start moving my painting table out there.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Christmas Goodies

After much deliberation I placed the order for the last part of my Christmas present: Talisman, the revised fourth edition by Fantasy Flight Games.

ffg_bgm_tal_ess_101_000_01_large ffg_bgm_tal_exp_301_000_01_large

I played this game a lot when I was a kid.  I never owned the game but two of my friends did so it saw a lot of table time.  I never really claimed to understand all the rules but I knew enough to do the basic stuff and I left all the tricky card stuff to my mates.

A little research and a strong nostalgia filter I came to a couple conclusions:

  1. First the game is pretty much random in every way.  As a kid I didn’t care about this too much as it meant that even when you were down you weren’t completely out.  It also means that the game has a huge replay factor.  That’s when point two hit me…
  2. I could get my kids to play this.  I’m sure I’m more than capable to manage all the cards and tricky stuff and just let him get on with rolling dice.
  3. The game sure looks purty now.  And is bigger.

The left photo shows the board size comparison between (top to bottom) 3rd edition, 1st/2nd edition and 4th edition on the bottom.  The right photo shows game cards from (top to bottom) 4th edition, 2nd edition and 3rd edition.

pic230385 pic230387

It seems that while the cards of the fourth edition are bigger than in the previous editions the little buggers are in fact, little.  Teeny even.  Here’s a comparison shot against the now “industry standard” gaming card.


And Talisman continues the trend of modern boardgames to come with miniatures instead of meeples or standees.  Here’s what you get from the core box.


There seems to be a healthy amount of expansions for this game and I was very tempted to grab more than just the Frostmarch one.  I’ll see how much table time the game gets before doing my usual thing and buying everything.

Anyway I’m off to buy a truckload of card sleeves…

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Incursion Begins

Played the first two missions of Incursion on Saturday night.  The mechanics are simple but have a subtle layer of complexity added by the cards and command points mechanic.
Mission one had two APE’s facing off against a horde of zombies that kept growing by six zombies per turn.  I went with the Allies and Brendan took the SWG.  I made a big mistake by standing and firing at the zombies.  Big mistake.  You need to keep moving and keep shooting.  Also as far as the Allies are concerned, corridors=good, intersections=bad.  You do not want zombies to start surrounding you as their hand to hand attacks increase in power when hitting the same target.  By the time I had worked out what to do there were around 20+ zombies on the table and most of them between me and my exit point.
Dark times.
IncursionGame1a IncursionGame1b
The second mission gave us more resource points and I was able to field two grunts, a HMG and Sarge.  The SWG brought along some sturmzombies, two bomberzombies, Hans Von X and a werewolf.
Splitting me men into two teams and taking great advantage of reaction fire allowed the APEs an easy victory for this mission.  That and the fact I was rolling three dice for reaction fire instead of only two meant that I was hitting way more often than I should have.  But it also meant that I was rolling doubles more often too and doubles cancels reaction fire for that player that turn.
Other than that play went smoothly and fun was had by all.  The first game took close to an hour to play but there were a lot of interruptions and we were referring to the rulebook a bit.  The second game was done in maybe 30-40 minutes and I don’t think we touched the rulebook much.
Can’t wait to get this onto the table again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cthulhu is Coming for Christmas!

As often as I make light of my significant other and the imposed “Wife Law” I feel the need to clarify one thing: she never ceases to amaze me.
I had mentioned to her that I was interested in getting the Call of Cthulhu Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games and that it would make a great Christmas present.  We were talking about the game, well I was talking about the game and she was tapping her iPhone and nodding when she looked up and said “Ok well you can have it, what other games do you want?”  After a short meeting of the budget committee decisions were made and funds allocated.
After doing the rounds of the usual suppliers I found that once again Maelstrom Games came out on top for both availability and price.  And better still I had an email with a 15% discount code to help my gaming dollar go further.
I managed to get the Call of Cthulhu Core Set and the Secrets of Arkham expansion as well as all six of the Asylum Packs in the Dreamlands setting: Twilight Horror, In Memory of Day, In the Dread of Night, Search for the Silver Key, Sleep of the Dead and Journey to Unknown Kadath.  That’s over 500 cards all up and for a two player game which requires 50 card decks it should be plenty.
Why this game? Well it’s Cthulhu, ‘nuff said. 
You need more?  Well it’s a card game with a fixed distribution.  I’ll pause while you mull that last bit over.  That’s right, no random booster packs, no chase cards and none of that block cycle crap that keeps making you buy more cards.  And you know what they do when they sell out of a set?  They print more.
So I get all the deck customisation and combo chaining delights I can handle with a price tag that my wife can handle.
Roll on Christmas.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Painting the Incursion Miniatures – Day 2

Well technically it’s day three but I didn’t do much yesterday so it doesn’t count.  I’ve finished painting Hans the Hunter.  But he is the coolest looking.
I’ve also finished the zombies for now.  There’s plenty of little details I haven’t gotten to yet but I’ve already spent so much time on these guys and there’s other miniatures that need finishing before Saturday night.
They look good enough for use on the table but some close ups here show that things like the buttons, pouches, belts and so on all need to be done.
IncursonPaintingDay2_03 IncursonPaintingDay2_04
They will get finished off and given a coat of matt varnish, this weekend hopefully, but right now I need sleep and then tomorrow I’m finishing these guys.
And I still need to re-read the rules and get the current FAQ.  Sigh, maybe I don’t need sleep after all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Painting the Incursion Miniatures – Day 1

I managed to get all the Incursion miniatures based last night and today I took an RDO and started painting.

IncursonPaintingDay1_01 IncursonPaintingDay1_02

Sorry there’s no close up photos as the lighting in the family room is pretty bad this time of the night and I’m too tired to set up elsewhere.  I spent most of the time on the zombies but I have managed to also get base coats on the Apes and Von-X’s.  The werewolf is the only one without any paint, but I still have two nights before they hit the table.  It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious painting and I’m pretty happy with the amount of paint I was able to slap down today: 37 minis has to be a new record for me.  I’ll be even more impressed if I can get them done before Saturday but so far I think I’m on track.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Incursion is Here!

I got a phone call after lunch telling me that my parcel from the US had arrived.  Incursion was here!  Waiting until 5 (not a heck of a lot of work got done) was arduous.  Eventually I got home and found these waiting for me.


Here’s the contents of the German starter (left) and Allied starter (right).  Not the best photos I’m sorry but I’ll get better ones up when I put these together (starting tonight).

Incursion02 Incursion03

As for the game itself the box is a lot heavier than I imagined it to be.  Opening the box explains why, the top inch or so of the box is all gameboard and card counters. 

Incursion04 Incursion05

I won’t go into the details of the box contents yet but I will post something soon, right now I need to start painting.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Secrets of the Angry Wife

I’m in so much trouble.  I knew I would be before I did it… but didn’t stop me though.  Dogui over at oMAD made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse and soon I’ll have both the 1949 - Secrets of the Third Reich rulebooks making their way to my gaming table.

wwd_str_ess_rbk_101_000_01_large wwd_str_ess_rbk_111_000_01_large

I’m excited but my wife won’t be… when she finds out.  I may have to move into the man cave for a while.  Hmm, maybe I should get the books delivered there instead.

Thanks Dogui - for the books that is, I can get into trouble all by myself.

WW2… with zombies AND werewolves AND mechs… really does it get any better?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Incursion Zombies

I came home to find some zombies in the meter box.  Usually I just hate that, but these were the ones I ordered from Maelstrom.

SoTRzombies01The amount of duplicate miniatures in the package isn’t too bad considering the amount that you get.  A bit of creative painting and the “Seperate Head System” that Westwind use should make it easy to create some unique looking zombies.

SoTRzombies02 SoTRzombies03

The quality of the scuplts are impressive with some very classic “zombie” like poses.  The casting process has left a fair bit of flash that needs trimming.  Most of it should be easily rubbed off with a blade with only a few miniatures needing a cut and file.  The heads look like they’ve got decent sized necks to join them to the bodies so a bit of superglue should be all that is needed to stick them on.  Pinning them would probably be overkill and very time consuming.  These are the first miniatures I’ve bought that have the rolled shoulder type bases and I have to say that I love them!

SoTRzombies04 SoTRzombies05

I tried them on the Black Tree stuff and they look incredible.  For a while I’ve had the feeling these miniatures were missing “something” but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  So off I went to eM4’s website and placed an order for 100 of the 30mm and 10 each of the 40mm and 50mm rolled shoulder bases.  Best of all is that the washer bases I’ve used for the miniatures fit nicely into the recess on the bases so rebasing them should just be a case of a drop or two of glue.  The metal washer bases won’t have been wasted though as I plan to get some small (4-5mm) cube magnets and paint them to be used as status markers for the various rule sets.

Standardising the bases of all my WW2 minis (28mm at least) should allow me to use the zombies in games like Hell on Earth or All Things Zombie, and likewise I should be able to use the Germans/British/US in games like Secrets of the Third Reich.  What’s that you say?  I don’t own Secrets of the Third Reich?  Well no, not yet I don’t :)

Since the rest of the Incursion stuff is likely to be arriving any day now I really should get cracking and start painting these zombies.