board games


Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast Episode 28: Cody and Jon Improvise Comedy For an Hour

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Look, let’s just call this episode like it is: Cody and Jon don’t really have anything significant to talk about, so they just improvise comedy for a while. Listen to this episode, but expect hilarity in lieu of actual content!

Show Notes:


Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast Episode 25: Fantasy writing and board games of Gen Con 2016

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Cody and Jon discuss the fantasy writing workshops, board games, and other geek culture they experienced at the world’s largest gaming convention: Gen Con 2016!

Show Notes:


Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast Episode 21: Martin-Con 2016 board game reviews

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Cody and Jon played a ton of board games at “Martin-Con” 2016 in Minneapolis, and they have a lot to say about them! Hear them delve into several board game reviews, then review X-Men: Apocalypse and talk a little Jessica Jones on Netflix.

Show Notes:


Tabletop Tuesday: It’s good to be the King

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Another day, another game.  This week, I’ve put together a review of one of my favorite push-your-luck dice games.  Before I get into the thick of it though, I wanted to mention to you guys that I’ve been working on the monthly format for Tabletop Tuesday moving forward.  Every month you can expect a TT article covering important news in the world of analog gaming, a feature discussing the hardcore tabletop lifestyle that I live every day and at least 2 brand-spankin’-new reviews.  I hope you guys enjoy the content and, as always, I’m always happy to receive feedback!

Now, on to the review…

My love for kaiju movies and the giant monster genre in general can be likened to Godzilla himself – large, menacing and when it decides to surface, it will take the combined force of several other monsters and a few potshots by the Japanese military to bring it down.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at King of Tokyo by IELLO – a dice game for 2-6 players that plays in a lightning fast 20-30 minutes.

Components: Despite being a dice game, King of Tokyo has an impressive array of components.  The dice themselves are large, solid and just plain fun to roll.  They hit the table with a satisfying clatter and have easy to read symbols.  It’s hard to explain with mere words just how amazing these cubes are.  Each player will also get to choose a monster standee and matching score tracker.  These are simple, sturdy cardboard and the artwork is bright and vivid.  The cards used for various monster upgrades and special abilities have got some great artwork on them and are printed on good stock with a nice satin finish.  I’d recommend sleeving them, but then they won’t fit in the box insert (always a bummer).  Finally, the game has a board to denote which monster is in Tokyo (more on that later).  It’s small and simple, but is on par with the other compnents as far as quality.

Seriously, these dice are amazing!


GameplayKing of Tokyo is a filler game through and through.  It sets up, plays and breaks down very quickly.  Players take turns rolling the six base dice and matching up symbols to gain different effects.  You can attack other monsters, heal damage that’s been done to you, gather energy (which is used to buy cards) or score victory points.  You get three throws of the dice in a turn and can keep whichever dice suit your needs between throws – will you try and wrack up as many victory points as possible or will you pummel the arrogant giant ape that’s currently occupying Tokyo?  There is a surprising amount of depth here for so random a game.  The different combinations you can get may allow you to go for one big victory point rush in a single turn or give you the opportunity to gain a little energy, heal your monster and do a little damage.  Like any dice game, it’s hard to plan your turn in advance, but I’ve yet to feel like I’ve been cheated by the dice.

Rules: King of Tokyo has a simple, full-color rules insert that is mostly easy to understand.  The game has a few quirks (mostly concerning the scoring of victory points).  Once you’ve got a game under your belt, however, you should be good to go.  Pick up the dice, roll, choose which ones you want to keep and repeat.  At the end of your three rolls, you compare your dice results and score victory points, damage opponents and gain energy accordingly.  At the end of your turn, you can spend any energy you’ve gained on upgrade cards that will do anything from giving you an extra head (which allows you to add one of the green bonus dice to your rolls) to forcing you to fight the military and sacrifice health for points.  Possibly my favorite mechanic is the press-your-luck decision of entering Tokyo.  If the Tokyo space on the game board is empty and you roll one of the damage icons, you enter Tokyo.  While in the city, you gain extra points at the beginning of each turn and any subsequent damage rolls you make are directed against all of your opponents.  The flip side to this is that only one monster can be the King of Tokyo, so any damage rolls your opponents make are directed against you and can not be healed.  If you take damage, you can choose to leave Tokyo, but you then sacrifice the bonus victory points.  It can be risky, but so far I have seen many a game won by a lone monster taking on all comers and finishing strong atop the smoking rubble that was once a Japanese metropolis.

Overall: King of Tokyo was a game that I bought based on a brief description and a few promotional shots of the box art.  I am a huge Japanese monster movie fan, so this was a no brainer, however unlike some other games, KoT really delivers on solid gameplay and integrates the theme very well.  There are two expansions that add more monsters and a few extra cards to help differentiate them from one another, but the base game delivers on that feeling of giant kaiju clashing in the middle of a city filled with terrified, poorly dubbed humans.  What more could you want?


Tabletop Tuesday: Comrades in Arms

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Good day, fellow Board Barons! This week I intend to expand your horizons exponentially with a few of my favorite tabletop gaming podcasts & webseries.  Even when it is delivered in a timely fashion, Tabletop Tuesday can only deliver a certain amount of information at a time. It is my hope that these recommendation will help sate your appetites for dice, tokens and miniatures in the long, cold period between Tuesdays…

 

dicetower

When talking about board gaming podcasts, it would be rude not to mention the colossus that strides the air waves known as the Dice Tower.  Way back in May of 2005, a gentleman by the name of Tom Vasel began a journey that would start with a show about designer board games and press onward into 2014 with a media network that includes other podcasts, videos and even it’s own convention.

Today, Tom and his current co-host, Eric Summerer talk about the games they’ve been playing, open up the show to features from guest contributors and count down their weekly Top 10 list.

 

d6g

I don’t know if I owe the guys behind The D6 Generation a beer or a punch in the nose.  No other tabletop gaming media source has been responsible for introducing me to so many games.  Every two weeks, Russ Wakelin, Craig Gallant and their special guest host go on a 3-4 hour adventure as they discuss what they’ve been playing, cover hot news in the tabletop gaming world, and perform an in-depth game review.

It’s very clear that these guys not only love games, but love sharing them with other people. The attention to detail in their reviews is overshadowed only by their enthusiasm.  They almost always have one board gaming luminary or another as a guest host and the show always feels fresh, interesting and never takes itself too seriously

susd

Last but not least, we have the hilarious duo of Paul & Quinns – captains of the staunch British webseries known as Shut Up & Sit Down.  Blending humor and cheesy effects with deep and thorough reviews, the guys at SU&SD cover games as easy and lighthearted as Escape: the Curse of the Temple to games that are thick, rich and take at least 8 hours to play like Twilight Imperium.

What’s truly extraordinary is that their videos often clock in at around the 20 minute mark and even with all the goofing around they do, I have never finished one of their videos feeling like I didn’t have a decent (albeit basic) grasp of even the most complex game.  These days, I often check to see if they’ve reviewed a game that’s next up to be added to my collection.


Tabletop Tuesday: Holiday Mega-Guide, part IV

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Well folks, Christmas is a week away so this will be the final installment of the Holiday Mega-Guide.  I hope you all have enjoyed the recommendations so far.  I’m wrapping things up this week with miniatures games, which hold a special place in my heart.  I’ve been collecting, assembling and painting miniatures for far longer than I care to admit.  Most traditional miniatures games offer a rewarding hobby experience with multiple model kits that must be assembled and painted in addition to their deep strategic and tactical game play.  Some forego all the mucking about with glue and brushes by offering pre-assembled, pre-painted miniatures.  In the future, I’ll discuss the merits and flaws of various miniatures games that follow these models, but for now let me share a few favorites that you might just find wrapped and waiting for you this holiday season…

 

Star Trek Attack Wing by Wizkids

I’ve sung the praises of Fantasy Flight Game’s Star Wars: X-Wing the Miniatures Game on several occasions.  It’s a great game and well worth checking out, but lately I’ve been exploring it’s younger cousin Star Trek: Attack Wing.  Basically, WizKids went to FFG and said, “Hey, you guys created a brilliant set of mechanics for moving ships around – why not let us slap it onto the Star Trek license we have?”  Fantasy Flight was more than happy to oblige them and after a little tweaking, WizKids was able to adapt a set of rules used to simulate dogfights in space to the more complex maneuvers of capital space craft battles.

Players will choose 1 of 4 factions and create a small fleet of ships crewed by various popular figures from all across the Star Trek universe.  The starter set contains 1 ship for the Romulans, Klingons and the Federation with the Dominion (which includes Cardassian ships) as a “sold separately” entity.  The game itself deseverse a full review (FORESHADOWING), but the basic run down is that each player has 100 points to spend with each ship, crew member and upgrade costing a certain number of points.  Once you’re ready to play, you can select a mission and get to exploring  and )more importantly) battling across the final frontier.

Attack Wing offers both veteran miniatures gamers and newcomers a lot.  The game has a great set of mechanics that are easy to learn and hard to master.  The various references and nods to each of the Star Trek shows and movies are enough to keep die hard Trekkers hooked, but the components are a mixed bag.  The cards, movement templates and tokens for the game are all high quality card stock with a nice linen finish.  The screenshots used for most of the cards are just fine, but some characters get some very unflattering images (I’m looking at you, Dukat).  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the ships have a serious scale problem.  Suffice it to say that the Defiant is bigger than the original Enterprise.  It’s cirngeworthy if you’re a fan, but doesn’t really hinder the game at all.  All in all, Attack Wing is a great game with plenty of material to keep Trek fans happy!

attack wing1

 

Dungeon Command by Wizards of the Coast

The classic image of orcs and elves clashing against one another spans both miniatures games and more than a few collectible card games.  With Dungeon Command, Wizards of the Coast has created something that takes the best of both genres and distilled it into an easy to play game with a fast set-up and compelling distribution method.  In Dungeon Command, players engage in skirmishes between warbands made up of various fantasy races.  During the course of the game, they will spawn troops and attempt to lower their opponent’s morale in order to claim victory.  Currently, boxed sets exist for Orcs, Goblins, Undead, Drow (dark elves) and Adventurers (a mix of humans, elves, halflings and dwarves).  Each box contains a selection of pre-painted figures and several interlocking map tiles.

Unlike many miniatures games, Dungeon Command is played on a board that players assemble from the map tiles included in their faction box.  These tiles have a grid of 1″x1″ squares and indicate where a figure can move on a given turn.  The map tiles are nice thick card stock and are double sided to represent either a woodland battlefield or a set of dark cavernous tunnels.  The figures are pre-painted soft plastic and are decent for the $40 cost of entry.  It’s worth noting that these miniatures can easily be re-purposed for the fantasy roleplaying game of your choice and each Dungeon Command boxed set comes with cards so that the pieces can be adapted to the Adventure System series of board games.

Wizards of the Coast really hit it out of the park with DC.  I would’ve easily paid for each of these faction boxes just so I could use the miniatures for an old fashioned game of Dungeons & Dragons, but the fact that there’s a solid game in and of itself there is just excellent.  The card driven mechanics help keep the game within the realm of skill rather than chance – though players will still have to draw the right cards from their deck at the right time to ensure victory.  If the space ship battles of Attack Wing don’t aren’t your cup of tea, then you may want to take up your sword and sally forth with Dungeon Command.

 dc1

Happy Holidays, everyone!

That wraps it up for the 2013 Holiday Mega-Guide.  I hope you guys get exactly what you’re looking for this holiday season.  As always, your feedback on Tabletop Tuesday is greatly appreciated!  Happy Holidays!