Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Touch of Evil: Shadowbrook succumbs to the Scarecrow

This was my third game of Touch of Evil by Flying Frog Productions.

The villain this time terrorizing the quaint town of Shadowbrook was the Scarecrow. We were playing the BASIC version of the game so he only used the green power listed on his card. Unfortunately for us going in we didn't know how demoralizing this would be later on.

Basically the Scarecrow gains power and health as the game goes on. As the Darkness Track counts down he gets more and more powerful. Since we play the co-op version of the game he already has his hit points multiplied by however many heroes there are. In this case 2 so he started at 10 hp's.

As the game went on he managed to sway one town elder to his side and that buffed him even further. In the co-op game as the Darkness Track goes down he gets bonuses anyway and that coupled with his power had him at almost 20 hit points and 12 attack dice by the end of the game. Very very nasty.

The heroes we were playing were the Scarlet Shadow and Isabella Von Took. We used the wrong miniature for Isabella. One thing I hate is it is hard to tell what miniature is what unlike Wrath of Ashardalon which labels them on the bottom.

We used one board this time around, the base board that comes with the game. However we had mixed in Event, Town and Mystery cards from Something Wicked, both Hero Packs and some promo cards we got at Gen Con 2012.

The best part of this game is the randomness of the Town Elders. These are people that are well respected in the community of Shadowbrook but each has a hidden dark secret revealed as you play the game. These are random each time too. You spend investigation points to learn these secrets and you do so because at the end of the game, when you track the villain to his lair, you can bring two Town Elders to join you. Only problem is some of them may switch to the darkside and you need to know this before you select them because they may end up buffing the Villain.

During this game we found out the following:

Doctor Manning was a bumbling fool. Though wary of the Scarecrow terrorizing the town, he was not careful and was killed in a most "horrible way."

Lady Hanbrook was a Revolutionary War criminal but could be trusted to help us.

Magistrate Kroft was a peeping Tom pervert but he also could be trusted. 

Sadly on turn one, Lord Hanbrook turned out to be working secretly with the Scarecrow and turned evil, running off to his secret lair and joining him in rampaging about the countryside murdering people.

Our problems just multiplied as the game went on. Due to some bad card draws the Darkness Track kept creeping down and down and down. This buffed the Scarecrow to near super villain status and we knew that we had to make our move QUICK and attack him before he was too strong. Several events like Harvest Wind and many many attacks by Crows had us reeling late into the game and before we knew it the track was one away from buffing the Scarecrow to +4 in both his stats (combat and wounds).

We got as strong as we could by visiting the Blacksmith and buying some weapons and armor, I then paid the investigation and low and behold we tracked the Scarecrow to the Fields. That seemed almost too fitting to be true.

Isabella joined me and we took our two Town Elders, one apiece, and charged into the Scarecrows lair.

We managed to put about 11 wounds on him until a Town Elder was killed during the final showdown. This caused the Darkness Track to flip to the next stage and further buffed the Scarecrow with 4 more combat dice. As we played our last bag of tricks as far as event cards and the like he slowly started to pummel us. At this point we sent Sophie the Town Elder back to town before she died and Isabella was knocked unconscious. The rule in co-op is that if BOTH heroes are ever in a KO'd state you lose immediately. I knew I had to escape the combat so I got out of the lair barely living.

Next turn the Scarecrow healed 5 wounds and we knew that he was out of reach of destroying. Although we killed his evil minion Lord Hanbrook we knew that there was no hope in defeating him. During the middle of the night we left Shadowbrook to its own demise. We felt like cowards sure but we knew we would be back to fight another day.

For our next game the expansion Something Wicked will be used and we will add another board. Rumor has it there is a Necromancer in town raising the dead and causing havoc. This must be investigated!

Gen Con 2012 tips and tricks

I will spare most of you the typical Gen Con wrap up article and just talk about all the gaming I crammed into 2 days. Typically I go more prepared than I did this year. The usual goal is to pre register, buy event tickets and be ready way beforehand by getting all that done sometime in February or even January.

This year's Gen Con trip was spur of the moment but even with a last minute decision to go we still had a blast. We booked a room about 12 miles outside the city that was very cheap. That is where the Con gets ya is the hotel fees. We then simply got a Two Day badge (or in this case to save money one Saturday badge and then a Sunday "family" badge). After that we simply drove in and parked in the Circle Mall garage for 20 bucks a day and saved a ton of money. A usual 3 day stay would cost well over 500 bucks. We came out smelling like roses at a 157 or so. However...not being connected to the Con via walkway or nearby downtown hotel can really limit gaming time.

One thing is most garages close at 2am. If you are any sort of serious Gen Con attendee you know damn well you will not be in bed at 2am or wanting to leave. Especially with all the open gaming going on. So that forces you to be out before the garage shuts down.

 Secondly you have to remember to bring a lot of stuff with you each day and there is no going back once you do. Plus if you buy a lot of things you need to either truck em back to your car or deal with carrying them around. The key is to visit the Exhibit hall one day one, get your things and then get out then proceed on to the demo ballrooms or get your events lined up and game the rest of the weekend. We got 8 generic tickets with our badge purchase and we put them to good use.

Here is a hint: on Sundays a lot of people just do not feel like showing up for games they signed up for. Get some generic tickets and simply walk around the board game hall and look for lonely game company employees that had no one show up for the game they were supposed to play. Case in point Runewars for us on Sunday. Not one person showed so we used a generic ticket sat down, met a FFG employee and played some Runewars. In general I usually spend most of my time in the Pathfinder Hall or the Boardgame Hall meeting people and playing full games I signed up for.

 Now on to the Exhibition Hall DEMOS I tried. Yes DEMOS. These are the times when you sit down and learn a new game or, if curious about a game, see how it works before deciding to buy. I managed to play a slew of excellent games that I had been dying to try and that includes Relic from FFG, Mice and Mystics from Plaid Hat Games, Conquest of the Planet Earth expansion from Flying Frog as well as Touch of Evil. Touch of Evil had me very curious and I spent well over an hour playing the game with ALL 3 expansions laid out in front of me. The consensus at that point was that I liked it so much I needed to have ALL of it. And that is what I did:

I wont go into a review here but consider it a game that evokes Horror, Supernatural tales, and oozes theme.  After all if you went and you were curious why the hell didn't you sit and play it? I don't need to go into details. If you want to know more check out the game here:

Secondly I played Relic and Mice and Mystics. Again I won't go into details you either played em or don't care. Relic is FFG's Warhammer 40k offering using a Talisman like system. Many changes have been made including Character development and new combat methods like exploding 6's to make this a must have purchase for any 40k Universe fan. Also you are not giving money to the garbage that is Games Workshop so feel free to purchase and enjoy. 

Mice and Mystics was game number 2 I was dying to try and it did not disappoint. The chaps over at Plaid Hat have hit a home run with this title and you can pre order it now for 25 dollars off if you get it from their website. 

The game's story telling, flavor and random scenarios really set the mood and the mechanics are great. 

I also played Zombicide and came away totally UNIMPRESSED. Talk about a game that has been over hyped. Stick with Last Night on Earth instead and the new expansion for that one Timber Lake (which adds character experience and more).

Other than that I wandered the Hall day one, played things, scoffed at other things and generally had a blast. The Con never disappoints but I missed those 2 extra days of gaming and movie watching I could have had. Next year its back and doing it right. Attached Hotel, loads of gaming and scant few hours of sleep. By the way Sunday was FAIL this year: it was double crowded due to the Family package badges. So next year I will probably just leave early Sunday and skip that day altogether.

To see ALL my 100+ photos take a look at my FLICKR page here:

A sneak peek for you:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zombies and Pandas

Couple things worth noting before I head off to Gencon 2012.

Zombicide has iPad application support now.

The World of Warcraft trailer for Mists of Pandaria is out. While the game is not as exciting as the trailers anymore at least the CGI kicks major ass!

Check out this Tweet Pic from D6 Generation:

Now on to the World of Warcraft Trailer:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rare sports break: Olympic pouting

I know I know. About half of you fellow gaming nerds out there just clicked off my page but I felt that in this time of the Olympic spirit one had to see the website below.

Founded off the rather cold reception silver medalist McKayla Maroney gave her fellow competitors on the medal stand after she screwed up her vault this website has her smug pose inserted in common everyday scenes. And apparently she is rather unimpressed.

So ends this sports break. Click the link below for hilarity.

Crabby Old Gamer knows that she, along with a lot of disgruntled ex employees, is unimpressed with Games Workshop

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Talisman Tuesday

Lately all my gaming titles and days of the week have been rhyming or alliterative so I might as well continue the trend.

After recent addictions to Arkham Horror and Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt I took a break Tuesday to head to the Wandering Dragon and get some casual gameplay of Talisman in. I was off Wednesday and figured Tuesday night would be the best time. Forgot however that the local town the store is in hosts a Cruise Nights there but luckily parking was ample. Every suburban town across the country now some sort of old car theme night downtown and it just so happens that Plainfield's falls on a Tuesday. In Lemont it is on a Wednesday.

I haven't played Talisman in well over 8 years so I had to read the rulebook and get familiar with everything again. A lot of people criticize it for being too random. I do have a lot of expansions for the game (The Highlands, Frost March and Dungeon) but this was to be a straight out regular base game.

I picked the Elf for his ability to move around the board quickly (woods to woods etc etc) and my friend picked the Thief.

They say Talisman is more fun with at least 3 people but I really didn't mind it too much. I can see however that with one person getting behind it can be tough to catch up thus forcing you to really hope for bad luck on the opponent. Unfortunately in this game the bad luck came my way for the most part which is no surprise.

Right off the bat  in about turn three the Thief landed on my space and took the only item I had managed to loot which was a +1STR/+1Craft ring. Basically in Talisman Strength is for hand to hand combat and Craft is for magic and mental combat. In Talisman you MUST move each turn so I was unable to attack him that turn.

We managed to get a few nasty monsters out on the board (TWO Ogres at one point) and a Witch that caused me all sorts of problems.

The Thief jumped out to a really big head start in terms of gear, money and getting to the middle region of the board. Even when drawing a Strength 10 Demon in the middle area, he had an invisibility potion to easily evade the combat.

As for myself, I landed on the Witch and rolled a 1, which of course turned me into a Toad putting me turns behind the Thief. When a Toad you move 1 and drop all your things in the square where you were turned into a toad.

After three turns I turned back into my Elf self and moved to get my things. I landed on the Witch and again ROLLED A ONE. After being the Toad again for another 3 turns I was way behind. If this had been with more players I am sure someone would have landed on my spot and taken my things. The Thief had a Talisman and was working his way toward the Crown of Command, in the center, the object of victory.

The next turn I simply decided to use the Destruction Spell I was saving and I blasted that damn Witch off the board.

Even though the Wandering Dragon stayed open late for us, we just did not have enough time to finish the game. The very random nature of the movement and the fact that you can be set back to the outer region makes a game of Talisman very long unless you have characters that can move around the board in a non die rolling manner.

The Thief was well ahead and so we simply declared him the winner. This is an early photo but later on he had a Strength well up over 6 and was working toward the inner area:

Next up will be Talisman with the Dungeon Expansion added onto the gameboard:

Players can enter the Dungeon through the Ruins on the board, and then specific Dungeon encounter cards are used while they are in there. There is a Dungeon boss that can award a Talisman as well as many other cool things in there.

Overall this is a very relaxing game and good for players when they want to take a break from the strategies and brain melting concentration of the deeper games. With all the expansions comes a wealth of characters as well so the options are going to last for months.

Now if only my luck would change.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt blitz

Lots of playtime on the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System boardgames this past week. Wednesday night at Wandering Dragon with a couple of friends netted a victory for us in a party featuring a Dwarf Warrior, an Elf Paladin and a Human Cleric.

This game came down to the wire. The scenario was a standard hunt 12 monsters game featuring all the tiles and cards from Ravenloft and Ashardalon mixed into a giant stack.

This game came down to the very last sword swing. Literally. We had only two healing surges, all of them used, and we had a man down and out who had the next turn which would have meant a loss. Luckily we were one monster away and on the last swing of the axe the Dwarf Warrior cut the beast down and we won. A true nailbiter for sure. No one leveled and I had yet to see anyone do it UNTIL...

Bring on the weekend. Had another buddy come over and we once again had a 3 way game session. We fit in two games over the span of 4 hours or so this time a custom homebrew scenario that I designed. Basically it involved exploring the Underdark caverns. The goal: kill 15 monsters to help clear the caves. There was a Drow presence and they were allying with goblins. I custom tailored the game as follows:

One stack of Drizzt cavern tiles and in that mix the Broken Door tile. If that was pulled we flipped over to a stack of Dungeon Tiles from Ashardalon and Ravenloft.

Each encounter deck was custom tailored as well. One deck was for the caverns only. The other deck was for the dungeon only. The monster deck was culled of all Kobolds and the like and left with no Orcs, a lot of Goblins and some Drow as well as creatures and Undead. On hindsight I would probably have taken the Undead out as we did not draw enough Drow cards to make it feel "Underdarky". We pulled a lot of Goblins and odd creatures but not enough Drow.

All character classes were allowed, we had 3 healing surges and we mixed all Class skills together.

The tiles looked as follows:

We started in the Caverns on the Drizzt starting tile. There were no special chambers except the secret cave tile and some bridges and the like. I also cut back on the number of Volcanic Vent tiles.

In game 1 we took the barbarian Wulfgar, Bruenor and the rogue Kat. This game was rough and traps really played a number on us. We were out healing surges with 13 of 15 monsters killed and just could not keep up the healing. We lost and this was my first loss in the Adventure System games I had suffered.

We reshuffled, redrew and started over for game two and this time dropped Wulfgar and took a dwarf cleric played by Crabby Old Gamer.

I played the rogue again and things started off the worst possible way they could have. Immediately two tiles in I was assaulted by web traps, spiders and drawn into immobilization and poison right off the bat. I was killed and down in a matter of 15 minutes. One healing surge down and I was back up. We were down to two and started to explore the dungeon. A few acidic traps and volcanic vents plus a wraith and a flaming skeleton eventually killed the cleric.Two healing surges gone very early but we were up to around 10 monsters out of the 15 we needed.

My rogue's layout:

Our last death came around the 12 monster mark and we were out of healing surges and pretty beat  up when we managed to draw a Secret Cave tile. This proved to be the thing that helped us the most. Since you do not draw encounters here you can literally rest and regroup. However if you have the right cleric, one that can do one point heal each turn if he does not attack, you can fully heal your group by basically standing there. This tactic would not have worked if not for the cleric we had picked so there is no use complaining that its a cheat or instant win gimmick.

Once healed we needed 2 more monsters so we had to set out and explore some more to spawn some creatures. I actually also leveled up my rogue for the SECOND time in two games and was now level 2 and killing things quite nicely with thrown daggers.

We venture out and by now our map had become quite big:

The game was still down to the wire. Fully healed we drew a Goblin Archer, a ghoul and another Wraith. The cleric took down the Wraith but I was stuck south with the Warrior and we were in intense combat to kill the last creatures. We were rolling 1's, 5's, 10's and 3's and missing each turn. Then we got poison arrowed and started to lose health. Luckily with a strike of his hammer the Cleric killed the wraith and we were at 15/15 and we had won what was one of the toughest dungeon crawls I had been in.

For me this series of games captures many things I wanted the Descent series to be. I love the cop op and the random generation and the fact that with all 3 boardgames you have what amounts to a Dungeon Creation Kit right in your living room. We have not even tackled any of the scenarios yet as every game has been a monster hunt done with random tiles.

We never found the Dungeon entrance so in hindsight I would definitely cut back on the number of cavern tiles so that we could find the dungeon proper a lot quicker. I may make this into a campaign that focuses on stopping a Goblin/Drow alliance in the underground. 

Overall some of the best boardgaming I have had in a while and cannot wait to dig into the scenarios and use some of the player created content and campaigns.

The details on the models are awesome. And they wont break or break your wallet like Games Workshop's "FineShitCast":