Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Brimstone Board Game Nights for March - Featuring: Cavern Tavern and Aeon's End

Hey Windsor area gamers, come out to Brimstone Board Game Night! Meet other gamers, play some great games and maybe even win a game to bring home.

Brimstone Board Game Nights hit on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month. These events run from 5pm to 10pm and are open to all ages.

Every event will feature at least one game. There will be demo copies of the game available and someone on hand willing to teach the game so you can try before you buy.

You can win games just by coming out to play. At every Brimstone Board Game Night you earn tickets that give you a chance to win free games. Every event we will be giving away a copy of the featured game and some events will feature even more. 

Players earn 1 ticket for playing games, 1 ticket for purchasing a snack or drink, and 1 ticket for bringing 1 or more board games for people to play. Earn 5 more tickets for each game you purchase. First time players will receive 5 additional tickets.

You can find Brimstone at 1421 Tecumseh Rd. E. There is parking in back and there is a municipal lot across the street that is free after 6pm.

March 4th - Cavern Tavern

In a war torn land, a magical land of heroic feats and epic quests, there is a place that has never felt the wrath of the ongoing and everlasting war between the five realms. Hidden in the hills of Strongcliff , deep in the shadows of a cavern lies the best kept secret for many years.

This place is called the Cavern Tavern.

Cavern Tavern is a worker (dice) placement and resource management game that is set in a fantasy world. Each player assumes the role of a worker in the tavern. Your job is to serve drinks, work in the kitchen, do chores, and on top of that try to keep every guest happy, including the nasty and greedy barkeep.

On each turn, a player can assign his dice to 1 of the 21 locations in the tavern.

These locations are divided in 6 sections. The Main area, where the guests are located and from where each player must pick up an Order, Cellar where all the ingredients that are used to complete the Orders are located, Kitchen where players can work to receive different rewards, as well as the Chores section. Also, the board features the Wizards workshop where the players can seek help for completing the Orders and Nasty the Dwarf's office where the players can go and try to suck up to the boss and badmouth a coworker.

The players will have to complete the Orders as soon as possible, because for each round they are late, they’ll receive less points than the Order's original value.

Also, for being late with the Orders, your reputation with Nasty the Dwarf is affected, something that is vital in the game.

To stand out from other workers and gain your employers favor, you’ll need to skillfully manage the orders from your customers and the resource ingredients. You’ll have to carefully prioritize your moves, and choose from what kind of work you’ll profit the most out of the situation.

So… do you have what it takes? Get ready for the biggest challenge in your life, and start working in Cavern Tavern.

March 18th - Aeon's End

The survivors of a long-ago invasion have taken refuge in the forgotten underground city of Gravehold. There, the desperate remnants of society have learned that the energy of the very breaches the beings use to attack them can be repurposed through various gems, transforming the malign energies within into beneficial spells and weapons to aid their last line of defense: the breach mages.

Aeon's End is a cooperative game that explores the deckbuilding genre with a number of innovative mechanisms, including a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of an attack, and deck management rules that require careful planning with every discarded card. Players will struggle to defend Gravehold from The Nameless and their hordes using unique abilities, powerful spells, and, most importantly of all, their collective wits.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Pile of Shame reduction Update - Mid February #ReducingThePile

A progress report on my attempts to reduce my Pile(s) of Shame. One of my goals for 2017 is to get every game that was in my pile of shame at the start of the year out of the pile by the end of the year.

I've made some great progress so far. Back in January I got in 9 new game plays (not counting New Years), you can see those reviews here: http://w-g-r.blogspot.ca/2017/02/pile-of-shame-reduction-update-end-of.html

Here's a mid month update for February. These are the games I got out of my pile by Feb 16th.

Santorini - 12 plays - This is one of the games that wasn't in the pile of shame at the start of the year. It was my first game purchase of 2017. Everyone is going nuts for this game and I needed to get on that band wagon.

There's a really good reason for the buzz. This is one of the simplest games I run, I can teach you to play in under 5 minutes, but you will be playing a lifetime  before you master it. It's one of those chess like abstracts where it's all about strategy. Even the basic game could keep you occupied for hours, and there's a reason I've gotten 9 plays of this in already: you can't eat just one. I've yet to play one game of Santorini and put it away, after the first round you always want to play more.

In addition to the core abstract game, the box comes with a ton of God cards. Each player gets one of these and they break the rules in some way. I can't properly express how much the Gods not only change but improve the game. This is what takes the game from good to great.

It doesn't hurt that this is one of the best looking games to be produced in years. Just setting it up you gather a crowd. It just looks awesome. It's also a lot of fun with three players. The game is over quickly but it's very tactical during that short time.

Heroes Wanted - 1 play - I remember when this was on kickstarter and thinking it looked cool but I didn't want to take a chance on it. Then I saw a group of friends playing it at Extra Life 2016. I watched part of the game and saw how much fun they were having and had to get myself a copy.

I really like this game but it may not be what you think. It looks like a silly Amerathrash game. Instead it's a silly medium-heavy Euro. Gameplay is all about turn optimization. Using your action cards to earn the most points each turn while hindering the other players. Yes that's right it's not a co-op. Put on top of these heavier mechanics is a hilarious theme. The game is more Mystery Men than Avengers. The one mission we played was to catch jay-walkers and litterers. The heroes and villains are created through a mix of two element cards each which gave us combinations like Meat Dude and American Knight.

One put this one over the top for me are the quirks. These add an RPG element to the game. Every character gets a quirk, something they have to do when in game triggers happen. What makes this fun is what you actually have to do. In our game, every time someone used a Super Power I had to clap, cheer and offer them encouragement. Another player, had to stand up and announce every headline that was completed. It's hilarious. It also gets everyone in the area to notice the game. By then end of our first play we had a group of 10 onlookers cheering us on.

Dungeon Lords: Happy Anniversary - 3 plays - This is another one that has been in my pile longer than most. The problem with this game is that it intimidated me. This is the only game that I own where the rulebook tries to talk you out of playing it. In the tutorial section it notes that if players don't get it by the end the game is not for them. Then later when talking about the first play it insists that this is a heavy game for heavy gamers, and that even heavy gamers should use the intro rules. So this kept me from trying this one for more than a year.

Eventually I decided that was silly and we needed to learn this game. I do have to say that the rulebook is right: This is a heavy game. It's also not for everyone. But it is for me. I loved this game. As did my wife. As did the other 3 people I've now taught it to. This is one of the best games I've played and we've only played the intro rules so far. I'm loving it and currently have a post on facebook trying to figure out when we can play again.

Quickly: this is a heavy Euro about trying to build the best dungeon. Get food, hire imps, dig tunnels, hire monsters, build rooms, set up traps and try to keep the villagers happy so that the high level adventurers and the paladin leave you alone (unless you are bad ass enough to take them out). It's like Boss Monster extreme! The them sounds light, but it is not. Definitely a try before you buy.

Villages of Valeria - 1 play - this is another 2017 purchase. It barely hit the pile of shame, I played it days after getting it. Valeria Card Kingdom was on my 16 best new (to me_ games of 2016 list. I love that game. I've been hearing that Villages of Valeria is as good if not better, so I had to check it out.

Right now, after only 1 play I can say it's good. So far I don't think it's as good as Card Kingdom but they are rather different games. For one Villages of Valeria is much shorter. The theme is kind of the opposite of Card Kingdom. In this game you are building your kingdoms trying to attract heroes, as opposed to hiring heroes which lets you found kingdoms.

Gameplay is very San Juan like. Each round the active player chooses to lead an action. Then everyone else can follow and take the same action but it's not quite as good for them as it is for the leader. Players use cards to build a tableau and the end game condition is the same: once a player has X cards in their tableau the game ends. Buildings added to the tableau modify the basic actions, in general making them better for you. Most of this we have seen before in other games. The neat new thing is a unique card draw and discard system where there are 5 face up piles on the board and when you discard you choose which pile to discard into, when drawing you have to take from the top of the pile.

I did enjoy my play of Villages of Valeria but I think it will take a few more plays before I've firmed up my opinion on it.

CO2 - 1 play - this is another one that sat in my pile of shame for far too long. It was there for a similar reason to Dungeon Lords. This is a heavy Euro and I was not looking forward to trying to teach it. The rules, while not horrible, just weren't very easy to read and grasp. In addition, for some reason, my copy of the game came with all of the player aids in French.

It took going online and watching a few different gameplay videos for me to really grock this game. At least to a point where I could explain it to other players. Finally got to play it at one of the CG Realm game nights and while teaching didn't go very smooth we all really enjoyed the game.

This is one of those games where you can never do everything you want to do. You only get one action a turn and you will find you want 5. It's also one of those games where other players can benefit from your actions. In this game you don't own most of what you do. You propose a project, but then someone else may come in an add infrastructure for that project, then a third player may be the one to actually build the power plant for that project. This can lead to a lot of AP and some really hard decisions.

CO2 really needs a full review. There's a ton going on here. The world is having an energy crisis. The goal is to stop the increase of pollution, while meeting rising demand for sustainable energy - and of course profiting from doing so. Players need money and resources to build clean plants. They will need to research and attend energy summits, improving their expertise int he various sources of clean energy. They will need to learn to manage Carbon Emission Permits. Managing government grants and getting UN sanctions can help keep your energy empire on top.

I really enjoyed this game. I was pleased to see that there is a new printing coming out in 2017 as well, as this one is currently going for stupid prices on the secondary market right now.

Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem - 1 play - This is a game I had no interest in. I've never seen the show, most licenced games are not very good and Gale Force 9 isn't know for amazing games. Then suddenly it was dirt cheap, like $13 cheap, and all of a sudden there was buzz. The thing is that the buzz wasn't just over the price, it was also about how good this game is. So I picked it up, can't go wrong for under $15.

This game is totally not what I would expect from a game about biker gangs. I would have guessed a dice filled Ameritrash game. Instead I got a medium weight Euro. Mostly area control with some resource management and a rather well done auction mechanic. Components are great. There's a ton of extra cardboard in here that ads to replayability. This is a decent game. I'm thinking that being a fan of the show would make it even better.

There is one problem. The first printing, which seems to be the one that's so cheap, has a printing issue. There's no contraband card included in the game. Now there's a copy shown in the rulebook but it's the 4 player side. So if you play 3 players the game is unplayable out of the box. Now it's very easy to find a copy of the missing info online but it is annoying.

Shakespeare - 2 plays - I admit I knew nothing about this game. Then it was part of a buy 2 get 1 free sale and I looked it up on Boardgamegeek.com. It seemed to review pretty well so I picked it up. I'm glad I did. I rather like this game.  

Now I say that, but in fact I hate it while I'm playing it. We started calling it Misery Theater as there are so many agonizing decisions and you cannot possibly do everything you want. Then when you figure out your best possible move, the player before you takes the costume you needed, or hires the actor you wanted, or messed up your plans in some other way. It's so frustrating! It's awesome! 

The game is an interesting mix of very thematic and completely abstract. You are a play-write and you hire actors and seamstresses and set makers. At the end of the game you need to pay all these people. Each round you pick a group of them to work with you and after the round most of them will need to rest and can't be used again. If your actors are in full costume they help you during the dress rehearsals. All very thematic, but then set building is just coloured tiles, piled up, that have to be symetrical, unless they are gold. If you build on the right spot you get points, because, well you built there: good for you. Costumes are just colored chits, and the value of these gives you money or points. The actual play is in three acts but is just three progress tracks, which no player will probably complete, they are just there to give more money and points. The art on the troup cards is fantastic, the art on the clothes and set tiles is non-existent. It's an odd mix.

Overally if you dig tight unforgiving Euro's, with quite a bit of screw your neighbor this one is for you, Just don't believe the potential 20 minute play time on the box. This one can be very AP prone. Our shortest game was an hour and a half. One last note: this plays just as well with 2 players as with more. It scales perfectly.

So that's another 7 games out of my pile of shame. Well technically 5 of them were part of my goal to play everything that was in there at the start of the year. Two of these were bought this year. I'm still pretty happy with my progress on this so far. I think this is definitely doable.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Pile of Shame reduction update - End of January #ReducingThePile

Back on January 2nd I talked about how one of my goals for this year is to get games out of my Pile(s) of Shame.  The actual goal is to have played every game that was in the pile of shame at the start of the year, at least once, before the end of the year. 

I realize that getting the pile to 0 is probably an unrealistic goal as I'm not going to stop buying games until I finish this challenge. I'm sure there will be some new hotness that I must play right away and will get to the table long before some other games in the piles. 

I'm going to try to document my progress on getting through the piles. I won't promise these updates will be regular but I will try to do them when I find some spare time. In each post I will list the new games I played with my initial thoughts. In some cases I may have only gotten one play in, in others I may have gotten more. I want people to be aware that, in many cases, these will just be initial impressions.

For those following along at home I'm going to use hashtag #ReducingThePile for these posts.

Black Gold - 1 play - This was a surprise. A hidden gem if you will. It's an older Fantasy Flight game from 2010 that I don't remember hearing much about. It was both on sale and part of a buy 2 get 1 free deal so I decided to give it a try and I'm very happy I did.

Black Gold is a very neat economic game where players are trying to prospect for oil, set up oil derricks, deliver oil to one of three companies and then sell the delivered oil at a profit.

This one really deserves a full review as there are some really neat mechanisms. It has one of the best auction phases I've seen in a game and the way the market fluctuates is very well done. Added to the excellent gameplay are some of the nicest components out there. They way you add plastic oil spouts to derricks is very neat, and the fact those same spouts flip over to show stored oil also works really well. I'm hoping to get a few more plays out of this one and was happy to add it to the collection.

Dreamwell - 2 plays - I won this game at one of the Brimstone Games board game nights. I had never heard of the game before that game night. 
I will say one thing: this game has some of the most unique art I've ever seen. All of it is by Tara McPherson and really fits the theme of the game which is wandering around a dream land looking for friends. 

Gameplay is solid. You lay out a grid of tiles, you have two pawns, you use actions to move around the board trying to get your pawns on two tiles that match cards in your hands. You can get more cards and you can manipulate the tiles that form the board (rotating and flipping). There's more game here than at first glance especially once you add flipping tiles. Overall it was a fun enough game but not great and I don't plan on keeping it in my collection.

Medieval Academy - 2 plays - I've owned this one for quite some time. There was a lot of buzz when it first came out. I picked it up and tried to play it at 3am during an Extra Life event.  It didn't go well. I'm guessing due to the fact it was 3am. I had it in my head I didn't really like this game because of that. I was wrong. I finally got in a full play of the game at the beginning of January and found it to be an excellent game.

It's a very simple to teach drafting game that has a surprising level of tactics and strategy. Very seldom do you get a handful of cards and know instantly what card you should take. It's all about trying to guess what the other players are going to do and constantly checking the boards for player position. This is up there with 7 Wonders and Among the Stars for me.

Worlds Fair 1893 - 1 play - The fact this still only has 1 play is a shame. That first game was really good. Near fantastic. I really enjoyed this game. I had heard good things and I know at least one person who says it's the best game of 2016. I'm not sure I would go that far but it's up there. 

Amazing looking game. I love the theme. I love the way the theme is represented on the cards. It's solid mix of area control and set collection. Lots of hard decision points. Can lead to some AP but it's still a fairly light game. It's has that magical combination of simple rules and complex strategy and tactics. I really need to play this one a few more times. It felt like the kind of game that would reward system mastery.

Dungeons & Dragons Attack Wing - 2 plays - this was one of the most shameful games on my pile of shame. I've had this game over 3 years. I received it as a gift for my Birthday back in 2014. At the time I was heavy into X-Wing and just wasn't interested in trying the D&D version. 

I was very surprised to find just how solid this game seems. I say seems because all I own for it is the starter set, which, for this style of game, doesn't really give you the full experience. This is even more true for D&D Attack Wing as there are both ground and flying troops and the core set only gives you flying troops. So really I've only experienced half the game, if not less.

The minis may not be the best painted, but they are pretty cool. Gameplay has some significant changes from X-wing but all of them make sense for the setting. Force building seems to have a lot of variety with spells and skills. I admit it: I'm impressed.

I'm now keeping my eyes open for deals on more units for Dungeons & Dragons Attack Wing. The game has been out long enough that I'm hoping to find a good deal or a lot of figures for a good price. I'm interested to see just how good this can be with the more units and more options and combing ground a aerial combat. 

World of Yo-Ho - 1 play - this one is unique. Very unique. It's a mix of a video game and a board game. Every player needs a mobile device of some sort in order to play. You also have to download the app, and that app takes up a lot of room. Once you have the app and launch it, each player uses their device as their playing piece on the board. 

The actual game is a rather interesting pirate based sandbox game. I've heard it compared to Merchants and Marauders. You start in port and usually start off looking for missions. There's pick up and deliver, discovery, find the missing thing, defeat the monster or even attack the other players. Going to a port where another player has been ads player vs. player missions. All of this tracked by the app. Movement is done by physically moving your mobile device around the board. Combat has a bit of a rock paper scissors feel but that's selling it short. There's actually quite a bit going on here but it's all managed by the app so pretty much invisible to the players. 

I have to say it's definitely neat. I think it's well worth trying. There are a few interface issues (the lack of an undo button being a big one) and there was an issue with people's devices running out of power before the game was done (bring a charger), but I did have fun and will be willing to try again. 

Keyflower: The Merchants - 1 play - I finally got to play Keyflower with all the expansions! I got to try The Farmers back on new years and then played with The Merchants a couple weeks later. Whereas The Farmers seemed to do some work to fix issues in the core game, The Merchants seemed to be about adding more to it. 

Like The Farmers, what I liked most about this expansion, is that it didn't really change the base game all that much. It added more to it without changing the overall feel of the game. Players can now collect orders which are a new method of end of game scoring. There are a new set of boats that you randomize with the originals at the start of the game, adding a huge amount of variety to the game. There are new upgrade tiles which double the score of a tile at the end of the game.Then there are a bunch of new season tiles to go with these new elements. Overall more options and more ways to score. 

The only problem I have with this expansion is that explaining the game just got quite a bit harder and longer. Keyflower was never the easiest game to explain. There isn't really anything out there that does worker placement quite like it. Now in addition to getting that concept across you have animals, and farms, and upgrade tiles and contracts, etc. On a positive note, for players who already know the base game, this new material isn't hard to learn at all. The rules additions are only like a page and a half with some more details on special tiles. For someone learning from scratch though this is going to be a hard sell. 

Chicago Express - 1 play - This one wasn't on my radar at all. Over the holidays there was a huge Queen game sale on Amazon. Many games under $15. When this one dropped that low a small group of gamers went nuts. It was from this buzz that I learned that Chicago Express is kind of like a filler 18XX game. For those that don't know them 18XX games are big, heavy, economic train games, that are as much about building routes as buying and selling shares in train companies. At every major con you will find an area dedicated to 18XX games. 18XX is hobby of it's own and some people only play 18XX games. It's a sub-genre of board gaming like Chit Wargaming. 

Chicago Express focuses on the economic side of the 18XX genre. Track building is simplified as much as possible (if a company has a train token in a hex, they have rails there) all that matters is connections. What's amazing is that they managed to create a very solid economic game and keep the play time down to about an hour and  a half. Probably less with experienced players. All five of us that played this one were really surprised by how solid it was.

Friday - 3 plays - I lost this game for like a year. I was online and someone was talking about solo games and Friday came up. That reminded me that I owned this game. I also realized that I had no idea where it was. After a bit of searching I found it behind the chair that holds part of my pile of shame. Since I had found it I figured I might as well play it.

I'm not one to play solo games. Normally if it's just me, and I feel like gaming, I'll turn on the Playstation or Xbox. The thought to play a board game solo doesn't usually even enter my mind. It's just not really my thing. That said, Friday is a very good game. Lots of agonizing decisions. Very solid gameplay. Very thematic. I would even call it brilliant. Despite this (or maybe because of it) I couldn't help but think it would be even better as an app. Let the app handle shuffling and tracking of life points. 

If you do enjoy solo board/card gaming this one is well worth picking up. Definitely beats a standard deck of cards and playing solitaire.

How big is your pile of shame? Have you done anything to make it smaller this year?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hero Realms Night at The CGRealm - Feb 11th.

Feb 11th is Hero Realms night at The CGRealm!

The event runs from 5pm until 10pm and everyone and anyone is welcome. No experience necessary. Every event will have a theme or a featured game but that doesn't mean it's the only thing you can play. There's a great selection of demo games at the store and there's no reason not to bring your favourite game! Or not, no problem showing up empty handed. Lots of games on hand and lots of gamers willing to teach you their favorites. 

The CGRealm is located at 1311 Tecumseh road east. At the site of the old Party Warehouse. Diagonally across from Family Video. Parking available on the street (free after 6pm) and in back.

Featured game: Hero Realms

Hero Realms is a fantasy-themed deck-building game that is an adaptation of the award-winning Star Realms game. The game includes basic rules for two-player games, along with rules for multiplayer formats such as Free-For-All, Hunter, and Hydra.

Each player starts the game with a ten-card personal deck containing gold (for buying) and weapons (for combat). You start each turn with a new hand of five cards from your personal deck. When your deck runs out of cards, you shuffle your discard pile into your new deck. An 80-card Market deck is shared by all players, with five cards being revealed from that deck to create the Market Row. As you play, you use gold to buy champion cards and action cards from the Market. These champions and actions can generate large amounts of gold, combat, or other powerful effects. You use combat to attack your opponent and their champions. When you reduce your opponent's score (called health) to zero, you win!

Multiple expansions are available for Hero Realms that allow players to start as a particular character (Cleric, Wizard, Fighter, etc.), fight cooperatively against a Boss, fight Boss decks against one another, or compete in a campaign mode that has you gain experience to work through different levels of missions.

While at The CGRealm check out The Windsor Sandwich Shop. They provide quality sandwiches, soups, salads, coffees, chips, smoothies, deserts and more! All available in a fun gaming environment!

Check out their menu: http://www.windsorsandwichshop.com/menu.html

Personally I recommend the potato bacon soup when they have it.