Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I bang you at DL 4/3/06

I got lost on the way there. Yes, I know I've been there a kajillion times since I moved here, but thats my story and I'm sticking to it. So by the time I got there, there were about 10 people ready to play board games. We split into a Duel of Ages group (myself, Ben, Ted, Chad and Jeff) and a Railroad Tycoon group. Before we got into DoA, I watched the setup and the start of the rules explanations for RR Tycoon. It looked like Age of Steam with better bits so I'm ready to give it a shot whenever.

I had high hopes for DoA after reading a few reviews this afternoon. I was somewhat disappointed to be honest. The color coding for relative strengths actually served to make things more confusing than necessary at least to me. I think numerical ratings for stats would be much more useful as all the calculations for squeak numbers could be made instantly without consulting a color coded chart (I'm a 5 against a 3? Then I need 9 to squeak). I thought the fiddliness of having to consult the chart every time we needed to check anything took much more time than should be necessary and with the end condition being a time limit really detracts from the game as well.

Ok, well there were positives. There is alot of flavor. There is a deck of what looked to be about 100 character cards available so there is going to be alot of replayability. The characters themselves have abilities that fall in line with their personality. So Brad "the slacker" either does a half assed job (squeaks by) or doesn't do jack squiggly (fails miserably). He also moves like a tortoise unless he is threatened by the proximity of an opponent at which moment he moves like a jackrabbit. He was actually very good for us until he didn't squeak by on a roll at which point he was banished to the far end of the board nowhere near an opponent and became as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

Our imposed time limit was 2 hours and we started off well enough. Our team (Ben, Ted and myself) held Brad in reserve at the beginning to allow more opponents to be placed on the board to help embellish his movement ability. We started going to explore the caves and we took a relatively commanding lead in the modern cave while the evil team took a commanding lead in the ancient cave.

Meanwhile Chad had a nasty surprise for us. One of his characters was the mole. At the end of every turn we had to take a quiz about his character and ... well a little different than that but he was highly annoying. I made it my secret motivation that the mole should die a horrible death but unfortunately we weren't allowed to do anything to him until he did something extroardinarily mole-like. Stealing our equipment was not enough to tip off our team of brain surgeons that something was amiss but when he tried to blow up our base some alarm bells started ringing in our heads. Finally, he had lost his totally unjustified diplomatic immunity and with time running out we gang-banged him into submission. It turned out to be an important gang bang since our mecha-armadillo got himself subdued by the horse lady with her zelda bombs. That would have left us tied in the characters department and lost us a victory point. (We ended up tieing in the gameso it was actually critical)

Ok, so it wasn't that terrible, and there was certainly some humor to be found within some of the things that happened. I suspect that after multiple playings the color coding becomes second hand like arithmetic and people will be able to say oh I'm purple against yellow thats a 5 to squeak. Still, why should there be this memory sub game required to speed up the game?

I definitely enjoyed the experience though and would be 100% willing to play again.

After that some people started talking about leaving, but the prospect of a quick Bang session convinced them to stick around. We played 7 handed: Chad was the Sheriff with as luck would have it Dennis and I his loyal deputies flanking him. Jon was the evil Renegade and Ted, Rob and Jeff were the outlaws.

The good guys got off to a great start. I managed to pick on Ted right away more because he was right next to me and Chad was on my other side than some stroke of genius. I also put out a dynamite since it would be unlikely to hit the Sheriff and if I survived would probably provide a positive result for our team. The real positive result of this was that Dennis, who had somehow drawn 3 Jails, managed to nail two of the three outlaws on the first turn and the Renegade Jon who had decided to avoid confrontation with the outlaws by pretending to be one of them. Things actually went relatively slowly, but the good guys kept getting the breaks: the dynamite blew up in Robs face and over the course of a couple of turns I picked up quite a few bangs which gave me the ability to launch a massive attack on Ted when he turned out to be evil. In the endgame it was us against Jeff and we had him in a partial lock with a recurring Jail k-k-k-k-killer combo. A ghost town roll by Chad gave him a glimmer of hope, but a timely saloon kept me alive to re-Jail him on my turn and reinstitute the beat down. He died shortly thereafter at the hands of our heroic sheriff.

I mentioned this before, and even though there was almost perfect information in this instance of Bang, I like the hidden role mechanic alot. Plus Bang has a pretty big humor factor built in automatically. Hmm, so my goal was to keep it short this week...and have more pictures. It seems like I did alright by that. And some people thought that "I bang you" may have a place among our taglines.



At 5:32 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Chad said...

Duel of Ages reminds me of my middle school days playing the Marvel Super Heroes rpg. We'd create a mess of heroes and villains and have huge superbrawl. Even the color-coded success system is kinda similar to Marvel's. And just like Marvel I ended up having the "tricky" characters that annoyed everyone. Heehee. I definately want to play Duel of Ages again, and I'll likely buy it for myself sometime soon. My rpg group will love it, especially since one of the people in that group played Marvel with me back in middle school.

As for Bang, it was a lot of fun. I'm not much for quickie card games (it never feels like anything is really happening other than determining who wins) but the fact that Bang was about wild west shootouts made the game "feel" like there was something going on other than adding/subtracting numbers and seeing who has the most in the end.

At 8:23 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Mike, Dennis didn't play Duel of Ages. Your teammates were Ben and me (Ted). I'm still learning everyone's name, too.

After a few plays the chart for Duel of Ages should be easily memorized. There's six colors, lighter is good, dark is bad. If your ability is the same color as the challenge, 7 to squeak. Each step away moves it by one. Beat your number by 4 or more, amaze. Miss your number by 4 or more, miserable failure.

That was one of the most fun games of Bang! I've played. I think a few items helped make it really fun:

-- nearly everyone had already played
-- everyone is a gamer
-- we had lots of fun interaction to go with the game

I think my High Noon variant gave a nudge in the fun direction, too. Bang! usually runs a bit long for what it is, and the High Noon expansion tends to make things a bit more deadly.

At 8:53 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I was in the group that played Railroad Tycoon and it was a fun game.

Rob managed to win the game by keeping his shares low and having hotels all over the place. I on the other hand took the high share approach (13 shares) and managed to not be last place(4th place out of 5 people).

All in All it was a good night.

At 8:55 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

I should have checked whether anyone had made a post about last night before typing one up. :)

I'm not going to let my creative juices go to waste though:

Once upon a time, Cassie the Cowgirl woke up in a strange land. She had no idea where she was, so she followed her instincts - and went looking for a horse. Suddenly, a rabid mouse with a sword charged out of nowhere and attacked her! Quick as a wink, Cassie whipped out her lasso and hogtied that little varmint. She hurried on her way, but failed to notice Brad watching her from the bushes...

Meanwhile, Ironhead the Boxer found himself at the entrance to an odd labyrinth. Finding himself in places without remembering how he got there always left Ironhead a little grumpy, so he jogged off to find some fool to beat the stuffings out of...

Another huge crowd showed up for boardgames at Dragon's Lair again last night. Ben and I got there first and got in a quick game of Battle Line while everyone else trickled in. I got off to a good start, but Ben pulled out the win as my plans crumbled around me. It was my first play of Battle Line and it made a good first impression. Sort of a more interactive Lost Cities, with special cards.

We split in to two groups: a game of Railroad Tycoon started while Ben, Ted, Chad, and myself settled down for Duel of Ages. That's where my goofy intro stories came from. Duel of Ages has some similarities to HeroScape: Warriors from all times come together to beat each other senseless in a flurry of dice. Facing challenges in various labyrinths is more important than killing your opponents, however. Wild anachronistic things happen. El Cid was taking potshots with a WWII era rifle. Cassie the Cowgirl hurled Big Black Bombs at a passing stegosaurus. Roy the Singing Cowboy was riding around wearing a diamond tiara. We played with a two hour time limit, and it came down to the wire. Both teams scored points in the final turn to cause a 3 to 3 tie.

The other group not only finished their Railroad Tycoon game (I heard that Rob won), but managed to squeeze in a speedy game of Tigris and Euphrates while we finished up Duel of Ages. Then everybody who could stick around got back together for a game of Bang! My side lost, and we failed to kill even a single deputy, but I laughed until my face hurt and I'd rather have a great time losing than a so-so time winning.

At 9:07 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I forgot about the game of T&E that we played.

After the game of Railroad Tycoon there was about a half hour left in the Duel of Ages game so Dennis, Rob and Myself decided to play a game of speed T&E.

The game only took us 40 minutes to complete. The game was very hard fought and I do not think a single turn went by without some sort of conflict coming about, and Dennis came out victorious.

At 9:15 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Well, no more comments for the games that are spoken for...just ditto.

Still...Bang? This game finally proved to me that it really is a fun game. I knew there was potential, and that I just hadn't seen it in my previous games. Add to Ted's list the fact that we were playing it with MAX number of players... I finally felt like my Winchester really rocked because I could reach the Sheriff 3 spots away.

Ok and one more...Lightning T&E? VERY sweet. It was intense. The fact that we were all "veterans" made it a very efficient session, and deadly too.

At 9:22 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Rob said:

"The fact that we were all veterans made it a very efficient session."

Yeah, I think that's a key. I like learning new games, but there's a dark side to that, too. You can fight the learning curve or you can fight your opponents.

For a little while we had an informal "rule" that we would play a repeat game for every new game we played. This idea has a lot of merit.

At 3:14 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Sorry Ted, I corrected the original post. I can tell the difference between you and Dennis, I think just at 11pm or whenever I was typing this up my brain was pretty frazzled (as evidenced by my inability to get to DL without getting lost last night).

At 5:31 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

My thoughts on Duel of Ages are:

1. Tons of replayability. It's hard to ever imagine having a similar mix of characters, map, or equipment. The characters are very distinctive and each brings a unique play style to the game. I especially enjoyed playing the little Redwall-esque mouse character. The little sucker took three shots from a Russian SKS plus being hogtied before giving up his little mouse ghost. Seeing Jeff's prize fighter blown up with a well thrown satchel charge was a highlight of the evening.

2. The mapboard is quite innovative in how you construct it each game, but my goodness the production quality is bad. A poster frame is an absolute must to control warping the movement. Still, the mix of bases, labyrinths, and other adventure areas makes the game quite interesting.

3. I really think this is a game for no more than four players, with two players perhaps being optimal. Since its a timed game, keeping turns happening fast is key to having fun in the game, and more people tends to add downtime.

4. I actually like the color rating mechanic. Matching up the colors to produce a squeak number took me about two seconds once I had them down. Compared to computing odds on a wargame combat results table, this is effortless.

5. The game is a good mix of wargame-style combat with the Heroscape theme that I enjoy so much. With line of sight, opportunity fire, terrain effects, etc., the game has just enough tactical meat to it without venturing into serious complexity.

6. I wish we would have played a single sudden death turn to break the tie. I'm confident Team White would have prevailed!


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