Apologies for another late post, Meeple fans, but it’s been another busy week, full of gaming and other fun! Apparently October is a busy month, who knew? But you’re not here to read about all of our personal goings-on; you’re here to read about our gaming experiences. So, let’s get on to it!
As mentioned in the last post, last Saturday we had a Halloween Gaming Spooktacular at our house! This was an opportunity to play some of our scariest games and get everyone together for a fun time. I started the day off with A Touch of Evil, the supernatural board game. This was one of the first games we got when we started getting into modern board games, and I’ll admit that we were mainly interested because of the really great artwork. Instead of illustrations, the cards, characters, and villains in the game are populated by Photoshopped photographs of actors in various costumes which really adds to the B horror movie feel of the game. I also wanted to be able to play the game with both expansions which takes up quite a bit of table space and learning time, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. The game can be played competitively or cooperatively, but we’ve always enjoyed it as a co-op game so that’s how we played this time as well. Players take on the roles of various people in the town of Shadowbrook dealing with some ancient horror that has come to infiltrate the town and spread its darkness. In this case, the villain was the werewolf, who has the power to turn the heroes into werewolf heroes themselves, who will attack other players during the mystery phase of the game. Fortunately, we avoided that fate, as only one of us ever turned into a werewolf but was able to get that affliction cured quickly. We never really ended up being in that much danger as the shadow track which triggers the end of the game and players’ loss only ever really got halfway down. Ultimately, our characters were able to equip themselves well, find the werewolf’s Lair, track it down, and defeat it in an epic showdown. I think we only had one or two KOs throughout the course of the game, and no one actually ended up defeated by the werewolf in the end. After that long and epic game, and as more people arrived, everyone got together for the perennial favorite, Werewolf. Amber decided to be the moderator for this game and we had 13 other players as villagers. The game seemed pretty well balanced — we found a few werewolves early with only one or two left. Unfortunately, the drunk in the town turned out to be a werewolf and only discovered this fact after the third night phase. It came down to one werewolf and three villagers; however, one of the villagers was the pacifist who always has to vote for the person up for lynching to be saved. The villagers figured that it was a loss as there would be no way they could get a majority to vote the werewolf to be lynched. However, Amber as the moderator somewhat tricked the remaining werewolf into killing the pacifist during the night phase, leading to a technical Village win, though counted with an asterisk due to some moderator shenanigans. After hunting werewolves out of the village we moved on to Witch Hunt, which is a similar werewolf/mafia-style game of social deduction in which players are trying to find the witches in their village and remove them. The big difference with this game is that players don’t reveal their roles or teams when they’re voted out, and there isn’t actually player elimination. Rather, players removed from the village become Angels if they’re on the Villager team or Demons if they’re on the witch team and can influence the game by protecting people from being killed or interfering with the priest, who acts as the seer in this game. This game too was well balanced and we made it to the end with only one Witch and one or two villagers. However, the remaining which had a special ability which allowed her to have an extra life, so the villagers weren’t able to eliminate her and the town came to a parity between witches and villagers, leading to a victory for the witch team. After the elimination-heavy social deduction games, but still wanting something with the same kind of feeling, we pulled out Werewords. Every time we play this game, we end up playing about 10 or 12 times, and this was no exception. Because we had a few more people than the game officially supports, we ended up with a couple of teams of two sharing roles and asking questions or giving clues together. This worked out alright, although I don’t know that it was necessarily the best way to play the game. In the end, it was still a bunch of fun and for the most part most of the words (even playing with ridiculous words) were guessed. While the Werewords was still going on, a few other party-goers and I decided to try out something a little bit heavier, and decided to play a game of Hotshots, a new cooperative firefighting game. In this game, players are trying to deal with wild fires that have broken out in a forest area. Players move around the board and roll dice, trying to match up the symbols on each individual tile in order to fight the fires on that tile. There are six different symbols on the dice, and each tile has a different combination of symbols that you are trying to match. If you match at least one symbol you can reroll as many dice as you like to try and match more, but if your roll doesn’t match any of the remaining symbols, you bust and the fire spreads. Based on the number of successes you roll you can remove one or more of the fires from the tile, place by a fire break which prevents fire from spreading, or tokens which give you a special abilities. This game was really fun, save for my terrible dice rolling abilities. We actually came close to putting out all the fires (well, except for the six tiles which had been destroyed…) but in the end the fire prevailed. This was definitely a fun game, and as much as a fan of co-op games as I am, it definitely made its way onto my wish list. After that, we tried out Isaribi, a game about fishing in Japan. Unfortunately, the rulebook wasn’t the best translated, so we ended up with a couple of questions that we played as best as we could understand. I think there was one rule that we got wrong but were able to correct partway through the game, with little effect on the game itself. In this game, players are operating fishing boats, and are trying to go and collect prawns, clams, mackerel, and sea bream, and return them to the market and sell them for profits. However, you don’t know which types of fish will come up in the market so you either have to wait until the market cards are revealed or go fishing and hope that what you collected will end up being worth something. This is a fun little game, even though we may have gotten a couple of rules wrong, but I don’t know that I necessarily would want to play it whole lot more.
As the night went on down and we found that only a few people were left at the party, we broke out Nightmare: The VCR Board Game. This is a game that I have had for many years, probably since shortly after it came out in the early 90s. Fortunately, we still have a working VCR and were able to play with the VHS tape, although the video for the game is available on YouTube which is how we played it during the last Halloween season. In this game, players take on the role of various monsters wandering around an old graveyard trying to collect the keys to their nightmares. However, the plot of the game doesn’t really matter — what’s important is that in this game over the course of an hour the creepy Gatekeeper will pop up on your TV screen and either reward or penalize players, with the latter being the much more likely option. Altogether, the play of this game is a standard roll and move, and the fun of the game really comes from the campy video with the weird old Gatekeeper. Ultimately nobody ended up winning the game, even though several players had collected all of their keys, due to the end of the game requiring players to make it to the center of the board by an exact roll, and then rolling a 6 to draw a Nightmare card and try to not draw their own greatest fear. However, the game is still a lot of fun when played with the right group of people, and it’s one that we’ll definitely be keeping around, at least for each Halloween season. We even now have a goal to track down Nightmare II, III, and IV, and/or the Atmosfear DVD board games. As the night was drawing to a close we pulled out one more scary game, the recently-released Dracula’s Feast. In this game Dracula is throwing a party and everyone takes on the role of one of his party guests trying to identify who everyone else is underneath their masks. On your turn you can either ask someone if they are a certain character, in which they must respond truthfully (unless they have a character ability which changes that), or you can ask a character to dance in which case you and that person exchange cards and look at each others’ role. Ultimately, players are trying to accuse all of the other players by correctly identifying what role they all have. Our game was won by Dr. Jekyll , who sneakily started the game by dancing with a couple of other players to gain information on them before switching roles with the mystery guest at the center of the table thereby rendering the information the other players had gained useless. Altogether it was a fun 10-minute game which I can see bringing to meet ups as a filler or ending of the night kind of game.
The party came and went, and all of the guests were gone — well, except for one. Mama Meeple stayed the night, and we still had a hankering for one more spooky game, so we played one game of Mansions of Madness. This is a game all three of us enjoy, and for this installment we played the Dark Reflections DLC scenario. I don’t want to spoil the story of the scenario, but suffice it to say there was an awesome and unexpected twist in the middle which none of us saw coming. We did fairly well exploring the map and surviving, though everyone ended up insane, and two of us were wounded by the time we were fighting what I assume was the final boss of the scenario. Unfortunately, Amber’s character ended up dead before we were able to defeat the boss (though it only had a couple of hitpoints left), so we didn’t complete the scenario. I was able to manage a win, though, because with my insanity condition I just needed to have 6 items by the end of the game, which I did. Still, I’d like to give this one another try so we can fully get to the end of the story!
On Tuesday it was time again for our regular game night, and it was that time of month for Amber to run Pathfinder so I was flying solo for the day. I joined up with a couple of other gamers, including one guy who was new to the game group, and we sat down for an evening full of games. We started with Lazer Ryderz which I got recently from The Gaming Goat following its release at Gen Con this year. This game is essentially the light bike part of the movie Tron. Players are building paths on the table to try to collect prisms without crashing into their own path, other players’, or the edge of the table. Your speed determines the length of the path added each round, as well as how easily you are able to turn. If you’re going faster, it’s a lot harder to make a turn, and at the higher speeds you can’t turn sharply or even at all. The other caveat of the game is that you can’t pre-measure where your pieces are going once committed to placing them, so you may end up just missing capturing a prism or running into someone else’s path. This game was a lot of fun and definitely very intuitive for everyone to pick up; however, I think it needed to be played on a slightly wider table as we ended up being a bit cramped. The game was definitely fun though, even though I did crash a couple times and have others crash into me, making me need to start over several times throughout the course of the game. I’m definitely excited to play this again, though like I said it will require a wider table than the ones we typically use. Afterwards, we moved on to a game of Biblios. This is one of my favorite lighter games. In it, players each take turns drawing cards from a deck and choosing whether to keep them, whether to place them in a pile to be auctioned later, or whether to put them on offer for the other players to pick from. The goal of the game is to get the majority in one or more of the different suits of cards, thereby earning the points for that color. The points are represented by dice which some cards will let the players manipulate either up or down. After the first phase of the game and everyone has a number of cards collected, the second phase begins. In it, the cards that were put into a stack earlier are auctioned off one at a time: cards representing the colored suits or dice manipulation are bid on by money cards, while money cards are bid on by discarding any other cards face down. At the end of the game, players compare their totals in each of the five colors and take the dice for the suits in which they’ve gained majority. This is another game which is pretty easy to teach and learn, but that requires at least one playthrough to see how it works before you can really grasp the strategies. Nevertheless, it was fun and I think everyone enjoyed it. Afterwards, we went to a 5 player game of Automobiles. I had heard of this game but never played it before and didn’t even really know what kind of game it was. As it turned out, it’s a game about automobiles! More specifically, it’s a racing game where players are moving the cars around the board trying to win first place in the race. The mechanics of the game are primarily bag building, with several different colors of cubes representing 1st through 5th gear and corresponding to spaces around the track. In addition, there are five other colors of cubes which each grant the players special actions. Each round, players draw a number of cubes from their bag and can use them to move their car forward along the track as long as the cubes correspond to the correct color of space. In addition, players can use their special cubes to go further or perform other actions. Unused cubes can be used as money to buy additional other cubes for the player’s pool. Players also accumulate Wear by performing some special actions and based on the highest speed they travel during the round, unless they end their turn drafting directly behind an opponent. Wear cubes are useless brown cubes which clog up a player’s bag and prevent them from being as effective in future turns. This was definitely a great game, and even though I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t come anywhere close to 1st place, it was still a lot of fun and one I would like to try out again sometime.
Well, that was our week in gaming. Check back later this week (hopefully on time) for the next installment!