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Tabletop Tuesday: Gaming While Colorblind

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If you were to sit down and play a game with me, the odds are pretty good that you’d learn something about my genetics.  If said game had different colored pieces for each player, you’d notice that I tend to go for either black, white or something very prominent like yellow.  The reason for this is because I suffer from deuteranomoly, commonly known as red-green color blindness.   For me, colors like reds & greens or blues & purples have a tendency to blend together, making them tough to distinguish from one another.  This can make some games frustrating to play if hues are too similar or if the lighting in our play area is too dim.

Someone who is color blind is often thought of as not being able to distinguish any colors at all – seeing the world in black, white and gray.  In reality, the vast majority of people classified as being “color blind” can see colors, but they are often skewed or tend to blend together.  Red-green color blindness is the most common form.  It occurs in approximately 8% of the male population, 0.5% of the female population and accounts for 99% of all color blindness.  After that is blue-yellow color blindness which is only present in approximately 0.01% of the entire human population.  Total color blindness is a very rare and serious vision condition which inflicts roughly 0.003% of the entire human population.

Left to Right – Original Image, Deuteranope (red-green) Simulation, Protanope (blue-yellow) Simulation

Now, here’s an example.  Most of you should be able to tell the difference in these images.  I, on the other hand, have a hard time distinguishing the left and center images from each other at all and the rightmost image is just slightly different.  As you can imagine, this kind of deficiency can throw a serious wrench in gaming since so many games rely on colorful iconography to relay important information.

In most cases, my red-green problem is just a minor inconvenience, but color blindness of any type presents a unique challenge for game designers and can become an issue for groups of players who have one or more color blind individuals among them.  One of the best positive examples of this is theTicket to Ride by Days of Wonder.

I won’t go into a huge breakdown of the rules for Ticket to Ride, but there is a fair amount of color matching that needs to be done between the cards and the different train routes.  In addition, each player has a unique set of colored trains that they use to mark who has claimed which route.  It can be a huge mess and, in fact, I have a really hard time playing the mobile app, Ticket to Ride Pocket because the greens and oranges tend to blend together.  However, Days of Wonder has made the boardgame itself (and the iPad version of the app) much more color blind friendly by including shapes on the route spaces that correspond to shapes printed on the cards, making it easier for me to match them to each other.
Where shapes are impractical (perhaps your game has too much iconography as it is), then bright primary colors can succeed.  Runewars by Fantasy Flight Games is a great example.  The 4 different factions in this empire-building wargame are light blue, dark purple, red and green.  Having a lighter blue against the darker purple makes them easier to distinguish from one another and the red and green pieces are colored using very stark, bright hues.
A selection of components from the Runewars: Banner of War expansion
Boardgamegeek is also chock-full of resources for various games to make them more color blind friendly.  Usually, these take the form of reference sheets or alternate component lists.  Last but not least, if you have any type of color blindness or know someone who does and it seems like a game company hasn’t taken this into consideration, contact them!  Most game companies appreciate any sort of feedback that will help them make future releases more attractive to prospective players.

This humble article could have easily turned into a discourse on ocular genetics.  The subject is pretty fascinating, so here are just a few links to websites where you can learn more!


Tabletop Tuesday: It’s good to be the King

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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

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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…

 

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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.

 

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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

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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: My Little Pony Collectible Card Game

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Hello and welcome to 2014, fellow dice lobbers!  I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season.  I personally scored several delightful new games that I’m excited to share with you all over the next few weeks, but one of them stands above the rest.  On December 13th, 2013 Enterplay released the My Little Pony: Collectible Card Game.  Seeing as how My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is such a hot property right now, this comes as no real surprise and since I’m a bit of a brony myself I was eager to see how it played.  After skirmishing a bit with the starter decks and taking part in a few organized play events, I am happy to report that this game is just plain fun!

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Components
Being a card game, there’s not much to say about the components for My Little Pony.  The cards are a good quality standard card stock and the layout is easy to read and understand – for the most part.  I have noticed some confusion in new players (myself included) over the numbers that indicate a card’s cost to bring it into play versus a card’s strength value.  I don’t think this is a flaw, though.  Parsing out the information on the cards just takes some practice like any other game.

I particularly like the variety of artwork used for the cards.  Almost all of it comes from screenshots of the show and they really reach out into all sorts of different scenes and characters to create a diverse card pool.  In addition, some of the flavor text will have fans of the show chuckling to themselves.

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Rules & Gameplay
Given the source material, it’s easy to understand that MLP is not a game about direct conflict.  Unlike Magic or Pokemon, you won’t be pitting your characters against one another in mortal combat.  Instead, each player has 2 decks – a play deck and a smaller problem deck.  During set-up, each player will find a starting problem in their problem deck and flip it face up.  By playing characters to these problems, players will accrue points.  The first player to 15 points wins the game.

As simple as that sounds, there is a surprising amount of depth here.  Players can play their characters to either their own problem deck or their opponents.  Each problem also has different conditions that must be met in order to “confront” it and gain points.  Normally, these requirements revolve around having a certain amount of power from one type of character and a certain amount of power from a different type of character.  The types revolve around each of the main characters from the show – Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Applejack and (my favorite) Rarity.  I don’t want to get to deep into the whole deck construction and meta-game side of the game, though.  The core idea is what’s important and that is simply that you will have multiple types of characters at your disposal to solve these problems.

In addition to characters, players will also be able to play one time events to boost their own cards or hinder their opponent in some way.  There are also resources which will attach themselves to characters or zones of play to enhance or diminish them in some way.  Troublemaker cards can also be played to make problems harder to solve.  Overall, there’s a lot going on!  Luckily, the rulebook is laid out well and is easy to read.  All the basic concepts are covered and ought to be enough to get people started.  Unfortunately, the rulebook is not particularly helpful when players need to clarify a rule or determine the order of operation for certain special abilites.  So far, it has fallen to the community to discover such rulings.  This is not uncommon with card games, however and shouldn’t be a deciding factor in whether or not you want to invest in the game.

Final Thoughts
The MLP card game is a lot of fun to play for both fans and non-fans alike.  The rules are easy to learn and Enterplay has released a number of starter decks that are well suited for casual play.  The game is also very rewarding for more hardcore gamers who want a deep card game with a lot of important choices and options.  I’m not terribly fond of the distribution method; random booster packs help encourage a robust environment for trading, but are not helpful for casual gamers or new players.  However, given how popular the game is already, most new/causal players shouldn’t have a problem finding someone willing to lend a helping hand, err… hoof.


Tabletop Tuesday: Holiday Mega-Guide, part IV

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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!

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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.

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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!


Tabletop Tuesday: Holiday Mega-Guide 2013, part III

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With stockings hung by the chimney with care, you’re going to want a few smaller gifts to make sure you’ve crammed the spirit of giving into every nook and cranny.  Luckily, there are dozens of great games that come in small packages.  This week, I’m going to share 3 of my favorite small-box games that work great as stocking stuffers, Secret Santa gifts or just a little something for yourself while you’re out and about!

Love Letter by Alderac Entertainment Group

Love letter is a simple card game of only 16 cards.  Thematically, these cards represent different members of a royal court – from the lowly Soldier all the way up to the beautiful (and totally available) Princess.  Players are attempting to curry favor with these various members of court in order to gain the affection of the aforementioned Princess.  Every turn, players will draw one card and play one card.  Each type of card has a potent ability that, if played correctly can lead to another player’s elimination from the current game round.  Each player will attempt to knock out their opponents by playing the right castle servant at the right time and by keeping a careful eye on which cards have already been played.  Should the players reach the end of the deck, then they will have to compare the influence value of each of their final cards and see who has the highest.  THe winner of each round gains an affection token and the first to 4 is the winner!

Love Letter is a great filler game.  It is easy to transport and can be broken out in nearly any environment.  AEG currently sells 2 versions of the game – The Kanai Factory Edition and the Tempest Edition.  The difference between the two is purely cosmetic (though I prefer the artwork in the Kanai version).  A 3rd version based on the Legend of the Five Rings setting is due to come out soon as well.

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Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson Games

It certainly isn’t the right holiday for a game about the living dead, but Zombie Dice is too fun a stocking stuffer to pass up.  This push-your-luck dice game is fast to set up, easy to play and tons of fun for those short breaks between bigger games or while the family is unwinding after a holiday meal.  Players take on the role of zombies trying to be the first to eat up 13 sweet, sweet brains.  Each turn a player will take 3 of the game’s 13 dice and roll them in an attempt to score brain symbols.  As long as a player doesn’t roll the dreaded shotgun blasts they are free to keep rolling until they decide they’ve had enough for the round.  However, if a player happens to roll 3 shotgun blasts, they’ll lose any brains they’ve accrued on their turn.

The dice in this game are gorgeous.  They are thick, chunky and have a nice bit of weight to them.  The iconography is colorful and easy to see even from across a gaming table.  What’s more, the game gives players a nice tense experience as each player needs to decide whether to go for the gusto on their turn or play it safe and gather brains slowly.  If you want to add a little holiday flair, there’s always the expansion that includes a Santa die!

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Kanzume Goddess by Japanime Games

Not every game that comes in a small package has to be a quick, fun filler.  Kanzume Goddess is a serious deckbuilding game with a more adversarial tone than others of its genre.  The game begins with players choosing from a suite of different gods and goddesses from Greek and Norse mythology.  Each of these character cards lists various special abilities that the deity can leverage during the game.  From there, play begins with each player taking a small set of basic currency and defense cards.  Kanzume Goddess plays like many other deckbuilders out there, but has one unique mechanic that really sets it apart.  A player in KG can only play multiple cards during their turn by linking them together.  Each card has a primary type indicated by a colored symbol in the top left hand corner.  This symbol has two smaller symbols beside it that represent which type of card can be played after it.  Only by chaining cards together can a player hope to defeat their enemies.  Figuring out which cards will  create the most powerful combos takes a decent memory and a little luck, but can be very satisfying.

Kanzume Goddess has found a place on my game shelf as my current favorite deckbuilder, but it might not be for everyone.  This has nothing to do with the game itself and everything to do with the game’s artwork.  The various mythical beasts that players draft into their decks are represented by girls with…*ahem*…legendary proportions.  The art itself isn’t any worse than say…a Soul Calibur game, but it’s worth mentioning because it is a bit over the top and may not be suitable for younger audiences.

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Yeah, that hug is probably totally platonic.

Next Week – 

The Holiday Mega-Guide will conclude next week with a feature on something a little more hardcore than what I’ve covered so far.  Gird your wallets and prepare your souls for the wonderful world of miniatures gaming!


Tabletop Tuesday: Mega Man Goes Analog & the Stars Align

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The Blue Blomber Hits the Table!

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Jasco Games announced on Facebook that they’ll be publishing a Mega Man board game via Kickstarter.  Now, Mega Man hasn’t been treated with the most respectful hand lately, but the folks over at Jasco are no strangers to marrying tabletop and video games.  They currently publish the Universal Fightng System Card Game which incorporates franchises such as Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Tekken and King of Fighters.  There aren’t any details yet, but the following placeholder on Jasco’s website at least looks promising –

In 2013, Capcom and Jasco Games became licensing partners for the exciting property of Megaman! Megaman, who is celebrating his 25th anniversary, is already making his way to debut into the Universal Fighting System universe, with collectible tins that feature both Megaman and Protoman. However, not too far in the near future, Jasco Games will be producing a board game for Megaman. You’ll take control of your favorite hero, and battle Dr. Wily and his forces of evil robots!

Now excitement is natural because, c’mon…  It’s Mega Man!  But as with every other Kickstarter campaign only time will tell – and if Bass isn’t a playable character they won’t see a single red cent from me.

The Legacy Continues…

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Way back in 1957, the classic game of world domination known as Risk hit the scene.  Over the last several decades, the game has seen dozens of iterations, but in 2011 Rob Daviau shocked many gamers with the concept of a version of Risk that would change and grow from game to game.  The result was Risk Legacy – a game which sees players regularly destroying unused components, writing on the board and creating something unique with each game.

I could go on for ages about the merits of Risk Legacy, but I’ll save that for another time.  I bring it up here only to grant context to the latest announcement from Plaid Hat Games for a new Legacy game from Rob Daviau and his game company, Ironwall Games – Seafall!

SeaFall is a 4X game (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) set in an age of sail world that is reminiscent of our world.  In SeaFall the world is just starting to claw its way out of a dark age and has just begun to rediscover seafaring technology.  Players take on the role of a main land empire who each consult with a consortium of advisors to discover new islands, explore those islands, develop trade, send out raiding parties, take part in ship to ship combat, and more.  In fact that ‘and more’ may be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made.  Just as in Risk Legacy, SeaFall will evolve as player play it.

If you’re as intrigued and excited as I am, you can check out the latest episode of the Plaid Hat Games podcast for the official announcement from Rob himself.

Dark Powers Gather in Roseville, MN

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With Halloween around the corner, all manner of dark and sinister forces work to sow evil.  Of course, shortly after that Fantasy Flight Games will be hosting their annual Arkham Nights weekend at the Event Center in Roseville, MN.  As in past years, attendees will be spending their time playing games inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft such as Arkham Horror, Elder Sign, Mansions of Madness and the Call of Cthulhu Card Game.  As an added bonus, demo games of the recently announced Eldritch Horror will also be available!

Tabletop Term of the Week

In honor of Risk, I thought I’d define the game’s primary mechanic – area control.  Many games use area control mechanics in a variety of ways.  The name is pretty self explanatory, but  basically players use their in-game resources to dominate the board in some way.  In games like Risk or Small World, area control is the primary means of victory, but games such as Setters of Catan use area control as a means of gaining resources to be used later.  Regardless of how it is used within a game, area control almost always has players fanning out to take as much territory as possible without spreading oneself to thin.

 


Tabletop Tuesday: I’m seein’ red!

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I’m not even going to mess around with any sort of introduction this week, folks.  We have new Star Wars: X-Wing the Miniatures Game news that must be shouted from the rooftops!

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The new “Imperial Aces” expansion!

Since the TIE Interceptor models were announced, I haven’t known a single Imperial player who has not at least mentioned hand-painting bloodstripes on solar panels.  Fantasy Flight Games must have gotten wind of this because the new Imperial Aces expansion (coming in the 4th quarter of 2013) includes 2 Interceptor repaints: one with Saber Squadron’s telltale bloodstripes and one that takes the the color red little more seriously – the Royal Guard!

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Look at all this stuff!

The expansion doesn’t stop with repaints, though.  As you can see above Imperial Aces will give would be Saber Squadron squad leaders and their Royal Guard allies a plethora of new pilots and upgrades to choose from.  Fantasy Flight has even gone one better by including a new scenario for players to engage in.

With the announcement of larger ships at GenCon and the inclusion of the Slave I, Millenium Falcon and Imperial Shuttle in the last few waves there’s been some concern that X-Wing was straying a bit too far from its dogfighting roots.  Expansions like Imperial Aces (and the practically inevitable Rebel counterpart sure to follow on its heels) will go a long way to alleviate players’ concerns.

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The Game of Thrones Card Game Organized Play Kit

While new X-Wing news is always welcome, Fantasy Flight had another, somewhat related bit of news to dole out this week.  The 3rd season of their popular Organized Play kits is ready to be pre-ordered by retailers wishing to host events.  As usual, all of Fantasy Flight’s Living Card Games are represented (Call of Cthulhu, A Game of Thrones, Warhammer Invasion, Lord of the Rings, Android: Netrunner, Star Wars) as well as Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game.  The contents of these kits is nothing unexpected, but the various game mats, tokens and variant cards all bear Fantasy Flight’s usual quality.

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And on a final, unfortunate note I have to report a bit of fraudulent phishing that’s been going on.  Apparently some jokers have been going around using the email address “service@reapermini.com” to try and swindle Reaper Miniatures’ customers out of their credit card info.  Reaper posted a warning on their Facebook page advising their customers and fans against providing any such information and hopefully the cultprit will be caught soon ad dealt with accordingly.

Tabletop Term of the Week: Last week I briefly touched on how to protect elements of your game by sleeving your cards in protective covers.  This week, I’d like to share the best course of action for when the unthinkable happens.  No matter how well you care for your games, accidents will happen and you might find yourself with a broken piece, a warped board or cards covered in any number of fluids.  When this sort of tragedy strikes, the best course of action is to contact the game’s publisher directly.

Many publsihers will have contact forms on their websites. You can usually find this info in your game’s instruction manual or with a simple Google search, but don’t hesitate to ask the staff at your local game store if you’re completely lost.  Once you know how to get a hold of them, it’s often as simple as providing them with a short description of your problem and asking if they can send a replacement.  Most publishers will respond within 24 hours and may ask for more information about what’s wrong or request pictures of the damage.  Once they have everything they need, you’re likely going to have a nice little package on its way to you with replacement components!

 


Tabletop Tuesday: Holy Red Shirts and Russians, Batman!

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Greetings once again, dice slingers, card wizards and tabletop enthusiasts!  This week’s Tabletop Tuesday takes us from the 40’s to the 60’s and then all the way to the 22nd century.

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To begin, we start with an old favorite of mine – Batman.  No, not Christian Bale.  Obviously not Clooney or Kilmer, either.  Not even Keaton.  That’s rights, folks.  We’re talking Adam West.  The year is 1966 and for 3 seasons Adam West and Burt Ward would don the guises of Batman and Robin (respectively) and face off against a colorful array of the caped crusader’s most conniving criminal counterparts.  With Caesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredeith as the Penguin, Vincent Price as Egghead and no less than 3 Catwomen (played by Julie Newmarr, Eartha Kitt and Lee Merriwether), this campy take on the Dark Knight is a far cry from the darker and more violent films of recent memory.  I only ever caught episodes in syndication more than 20 years after it had aired, but the show definitely has it’s charms and more than it’s fair share of fans.  To that end, WizKids has been releasing teasers for their next line of HeroClixBatman Classic TV.

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Now, the HeroClix site has been abuzz with updates for this expansion for a while now, but it wasn’t until I saw this Joker preview that I got really interested.  I’m still waiting on the set as a whole before I can put together any sort of opinion on the new mechanics/abilities/figure options, but the fact that WizKids is reaching way back to the Batman TV Series is pretty exciting.  I think there’s a lot of potential here for them to have fun  and for players/fans to snag some really great models.

I also think the “Bang! Boom!  Zap!” bubbles are a great touch.

Who knows?  If this takes off, Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond sets might not be far behind…

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As a quick addendum, in other Heroclix News, Wizkids announced the original Enterprise (as in, the one from the show of the same name) would be debuting for Star Trek HeroClix Tactics Series III.  They’ll be joining the likes of the Borg and will allow players to conceivably field 3 generations of Enterprises on the battlefield!

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Moving away from Clix, there’s been some hot buzz over on Kickstarter lately.  Way back in March, Fantasy Flight Games announced that they were handing the reins of their excellent World War II board game series Tide of Iron over to 1A Games.  The transition of ownership took place over the summer months and now 1A Games is set to begin distributing the same great game on their own.  To that end, they’ve begun a Kickstarter campaign for a new starter set and the Stalingrad expansion.  Both the new core box and the expansion will be 100% compatible with the Fantasy Flight original and Stalingrad is set to add more urban maps and an entire Soviet army.

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The Tide of Iron franchise offers a rich, deep WWII strategic combat experience with many of the bells & whistles of a full-on miniatures game in a neat, controlled board game package.  It also has a ton of top-notch components ranging from variable boards for different scenarios to oodles of detailed plastic infantry and tanks – so, you know, I’m sold.

Tabletop Term of the Week: Board & card games are a substantial investment and protecting them so that they’ll last is always a good idea.  There are a great many things you can do to extend the lifespan of your games, but one of the big ones is sleeving your cards.  Companies like Ultra Pro, Mayday and Fantasy Flight Games all make plastic sleeves for various different card sizes.  Choosing which ones are right for you is largely a matter of preference and you can get them in a myriad of colors or with artwork on the back to suit you.  The only downside?  Sleeving cards can be expensive.  In the end I often have to decide which games are worth sleeving and which ones probably aren’t going to see enough action to warrant worrying about wear and tear.


Tabletop Tuesday: There ain’t no party like an Adeptus Astartes party

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It’s been a while folks, but Tabletop Tuesday is back (albeit, a little late in the day)!  Now I know I’ve been out of the saddle for a spell, so I think the best way to celebrate would be to jump right in and sift through some of the great tabletop news that’s come out in the last few weeks.

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The Limited Edition White Scars cover for the new Space Marine Codex – I’m a little bit biased.

 

The folks over at Games Workshop dropped an exciting bit of news with the release of the new Space Marine codex for the Warhammer 40,000 miniatures game.  For their 6th edition incarnation, the most popular army for Warhammer 40K gets a slew of new model kits and several collector’s edition covers.  Now, the model kits are beautiful.  I mean, just look at these veterans –

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The Vanguard Veterans are close assault specialists and wield the best hand-to-hand weapons in conjunction with powerful jump packs.

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Sternguard Veterans know how to hold the line after centuries of service to the Imperium of Man and can level immeasurable firepower against their foes.

But as great as these models are, only time will tell if the rules in this new book will be up to snuff.  As a Space Marine player myself, I’m really anxious to get my hands on the book!

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Since we’re on the topic of miniatures and since I know Chris is probably reading this, I know I won’t get away without mentioning the amazing news that Fantasy Flight Games dropped at GenCon about Star Wars: X-Wing the Miniatures Game.

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Rebel transport with alternate X-Wing

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Tantice IV – Corellian Corvette

 

The pictures pretty much speak for themselves.  New, bigger ships.  For many an X-Wing fan this will come as a huge blessing, but the fun doesn’t stop with the new models.  To match these additions, FFG is releasing 2 new game modes.  Cinematic play will showcase scenario driven games using the new ships.  Epic format tournaments will allow competition using these new models.  They carry a hefty price tag at $59.99 for the Rebel Transport and $89.99 for the Tantive IV, but I know a whole mess of folks who are going to be frothing at the mouth to get their paws on these.

Tabletop Term of the Week: With miniatures games on the brain, I think it’s best for me to touch on one of the fundamental elements of how such games are played – points systems!  Since many of these games have vast arrays of models to choose from, it can be confusing to see why someone wouldn’t just bring a butt load of tanks to a fight.  The balancing mechanic that most miniatures games use is a points system which ensures that all players are fielding a comparable force.

As an example, if I were to sit down to play a game of X-Wing, my opponent and I would both choose a game size.  If we agreed on a small game of 50 points, I’d be able to include Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing (28 points) and a Gray Squadron Y-Wing Pilot (20 points).  This brings me as close to 50 as possible without going over.  My opponent would do the same with the ships of their choice and we would be able to have a fair fight because the points values calculate a given model or units strenghts (and weaknesses).

And on that note, I’m going to call it a Tuesday.  Don’t worry, though!  Even though this week was short and sweet, I’ll be back next week with more of the same!