Wednesday, December 13, 2006

12/11 Session Report: Avengers (gradually) Assemble!

I arrived at Dragon's Lair promptly at 5pm to find a 3-player Vinci game quickly wrapping up, with Brian's k-k-k-killer combo of Currency and Militia swamping Rob and Jon. A cry of "Hail Caesar" went up from the crowd, with two automated chariots added to crowd the track. After suffering the ignominy of losing to one of the robochariots in race 2, something finally clicked for Brian, as he just missed winning race 3 (all 1s in the final turn) and then closed the deal by winning race 4 to tie Rob for overall third. All according to plan, though, as I managed to outduel Jon by 2.

The group then split for Antiquity and Marvel Heroes, with myself, Rob, and Jon for the latter. We waited several minutes for Ted to come and be our fourth, but eventually took a bystander named Luke who was all but drooling on the components. I got the Fantastic 4, Rob the Marvel Knights (Spidey, Dr. Strange, Daredevel, Electra), Jon the X-Men, and Luke the Avengers (CapAp, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk).

Including rules explanation, the game ran 3-1/2 hours, or nearly as long as our previous two combined. That's skewed a bit by the fact that Rob missed an auto-win in turn 4 (out of 5), and I chose not to risk what would've been an easy win after that (the dice had burned me too many times), so we had two chances to be spared the hour-long final turn. In the end I again stupidly chose the wrong combat and allowed Luke to sneak past for a two-point win. I'm still not sure how I feel about the game. I like it, but I was never a comic reader, so I don't get into the theme as much as others (*cough*Luke*cough*). Fights are clever, but the decisions usually seem clear, and once multiple heroes start showing up, can go on waaaaaaay too long. The bulk of the strategy appears to be in how you spend your plot points on readying heroes and allies at the beginning of each turn. I enjoy playing it, but I'm feeling a little buyer's remorse.

To reward Simon's patience in watching the second-half of the game, we granted his wish to be repeatedly screwed over in some more Ave Caesar action. Since there were only three of us (Simon, Jon, and me), we each took two chariots, which made for some interesting tandem blocking tactics in race 3, when my chariots started 1-2. Unfortunately the bystander chatter became so oppressive that I missed hailing entirely in race 4 and nobody noticed until I finished. Simon won, and most likely would have anyway had I been forced to stop and hail. But it left me feeling that the more holiday gaming we do in people's homes rather than DL would be a good thing, and I volunteer my own home to that end.

Speaking of holiday gaming, here's how my "games played" list now stands:

Marvel Heroes: 3
Ave Caesar: 2
Battlelore: 0
Doom: 0
Descent: 0
WoW: 0
Combat Commander: 0
Crokinole: 0 (?!?)
Other cool stuff: 0

This must be rectified! I'm guessing this Friday at Jeff's will be the first step; don't miss the post below this one!

23 Comments:

At 2:50 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Once again I fell victim to the arms race of earlier and earlier arrivals. No matter when I arrive, it's the midst of games.

Luckily, however, I spied an opening in the Mon night go club, and I enjoyed a great game. My opponent, Levi, is much better than I am, but with my 3 stone handicap the game wasn't too lop-sided, and I even caught him napping a few times. He gave me some useful pointers and wouldn't let me make gross blunders, only small ones.

I was reminded that go is far and away the best game I know: simple, elegant, deep, subtle. It's rich in tactics *and* strategy, something a rare among euros.

 
At 9:16 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Ted,

I know that they waited, because I mentioned it. We thought you were arriving at 6:30, was it closer to 6:45? Michael (and Rob?) know Ben's cell # and we'll sometimes buzz him to get an ETA. If you have a cell phone (I don't) perhaps you could give your # to a few people next time. I suspect if everyone had known you would be there in "10 minutes" they'd have waited.

I keep thinking I should play Go, but I spent a year or two playing at the NC Go club, and it's a tough haul to get good.

I put up my thoughts on Antiquity on my blog. Short form -- Me like-y.

 
At 9:20 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Rob tried it and got some kind of "number not in service" message.

 
At 10:37 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Thank you very much for the great session report! I just returned from a day on the frozen tundra of Wyoming's nuclear missile fields, and it warmed my heart to read of the good gaming. It is good to see some new names mentioned as well.

No BattleLore??? Ugh! I can't wait to play a full 6-level per side scenario!

Marvel Heroes: You guys must have played one of the longer scenarios for it to go so long. When we played this past weekend at approximately 1.5 hours per game, it felt just about right.

My wife tells me a huge box from Boulder just arrived, so that means I'll be organizing a game of Descent and/or WoW in the near future...

 
At 10:46 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Yes Ted, as I mentioned, we all waited, and yes, I did try to call you. I actually was the one that first asked as we stared at the open game box..."so....what are we waiting for?"

"The number can not be connected as dialed" or something... email me your new number please.

Dennis: Great report. I enjoyed Marvel, but I feel like "something" is missing for me to be completely engaged in it...and that something is not being much of a comics fan (the ONLY comic I collected for like 6 months was Spawn...otherwise I'm limited to the more recent movies). It was long but fun though.

My December has been SUPER sweet (only the good games IMO are included):

BattleLore: 1
EastFront2: TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Vinci: 1
Leonardo da Vinci: 2
Take Stock: 1
Modern Art: 1
Bohnanza: 1

But this Christmas feels kinda insane to me. Too many freaking good games coming out (compared to my other 2 Chrismas'es since I've been gaming). I have on their way to me from different sources: Combat Commander (shipping next week), BattleLore, Shogun, Space Dealer, Here I Stand, etc....

 
At 12:38 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I had to sit around watching Marvel Heroes for two hours without even so much as a chair to rest my tired cheeks on! You young whipper snappers these days...

MH looked kind of blasé. Basically, every turn people would count a lot of different numbers, roll some dice, grimace, and the guy who badly needed a lozenge would make some awkward attempt at a humorous comment.

Antiquity, on the other hand, looked like my most favoritest game ever! In the immortal words of Borat: Not!

After my patient term of service was up and having choked on what was relayed to me as "candy left by Jeff and Amy" (but what I would describe as a moldy looking nougat that tasted like sawdust with a hint of B.O.), I got to play a game! Ave Cesaer was great fun. I was highly skeptical at first since the initial race ended up in starting order minus one change and the fact that blocking was near guaranteed when willed. Fortunately, things went the way of cutthroat thrills and spills afterward. Dennis would've won (at least I think so) had Captain other annoying guy with horribly awkward attempts at humorous comments man hadn’t been distracting us all. I call him Cpt. O.A.G.W.H.A.A.A.H.C. Man, myself.

Good times, good times.

P.S. Am I the only one who doesn’t keep track of what I play?

 
At 2:48 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Umm, try not to burn out on Marvel Heros or Antiquities too fast guys. We should definitely get some sort of organized phone list together just so its not so chaotic deciding whether to start or wait for stragglers to come in.

 
At 8:01 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

In junior high/high school I was an avid reader of Marvel comics. Though the writing in this brand of comics is targeted to this age group, I still check them out occasionally just because I enjoy the characters and, even more, the villains. BTW, the movies all pretty much suck, IMO.

So, its not a suprise I enjoyed Marvel Heroes. If you're looking for a deep, elegant, mathematically beautiful creation you'll probably be disappointed. If instead you don't mind lots of dice-chucking good times hot-dipped in Marvel theme, then I think there's fun here.

In particular I do find the tactical choices of selecting your teams and their targets interesting, and the powers of the villains and heroes as implemented in the game seem to be well done. Little subtleties like how hard it is for the X-Men to recruit allies I thought were also clever facets of the design.

Michael: I'll be ready to play when you return.

 
At 9:08 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Amy said...

Simon: You should have gotten there earlier! I guess Jon ate all the Toblerone, leaving you to clean up the sawdust candy. I promise -- there's no more of it left, and you won't see it at our house on Friday. And yes, you're the only person who doesn't keep track of games played.

 
At 9:35 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

...So, umm...What's the point of keeping track of games played?

As for comics, I used to collect in high school although I was more into the alternative stuff (Authority, Transmet, Kabuki). I don't even think I own a Marvel Comic to this day though I'm pretty familiar with the mythos.

And Ben, Not all comic movies suck. V for Vendetta was especially good and Constantine pretty much rocked. Yes, X Men 3 was probably the worst movie I've seen in the last ten years, but that was a Ratner film. Avoid him, Uwe Boll, and anything with Jessica Alba in it and you’ll be just fine.

 
At 9:39 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ben: Marvel is not a bad game. It's your typical FF game with tons of components, charactes with all kinds of abilities, missions, monsters, etc. Just not being into the theme kinda left me dry. And I know how theme can be important. I had a recent impulse buy based on theme (Vampire Dark Influences which is an area control game mixed with a dice fest and some powerups/special abilities etc).

Re Marvel: I may be wrong, but I didn't feel like the game was 'evolving' much. In other FF games you get to experience the power and skills your characters gains as they progress through the game (WoW, Arkham). In Marvel there is just 3 power cards, and it seems that at most, you'll get 2 out before game end. The Nemesi (plural) do get tougher, but the missions, monsters, etc. remain the same throughout the game. In WoW and Arkham, events evolve and look grimmer and darker as the game progresses until finally you face 'the big bad wolf' with your nicely supped up characters.

Of course, you can argue that Super heroes don't need supping-up, but that's besides the point. I guess they do simulate charcater development with 'Plot points' by adding more 'action options' to your round (ie allowing you to use more characters per round).

Amy: they were good...they held me up through the night.

Ben2: Sign me up for WoW and Descent with expansions.

 
At 12:28 PM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

"Not all comic movies suck"

True. However, most comic movies about costumed heroes are disappointing. Daredevil, Hulk, Batman and Robin, Batman Forever, Catwoman - all stinkers. Fantastic Four, Spiderman 1 and 2 were tolerable.

X-men 1 and 2, Hellboy, Batman, Batman Returns, and Batman Begins are ones that I would call "good" (Haven't seen X3 yet - no spoilers please) and calling Hellboy a costumed hero is a stretch.

V for Vendetta, From Hell, Road to Perdition, and Constantine are all excellent graphic novel based films.

 
At 2:53 PM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Jeff, ditto on your last 4 movies.

 
At 5:18 PM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Shogun and To Court A King shipped today! Yay!

Jeff: Fantastic Four was definitely not tolerable.

*shivers*

 
At 5:41 PM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

SHOGUN?! Where from? Boulder seems to be waiting for it.

 
At 10:55 PM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Twilight Imperium 3, the expansion set, just shipped too! My copy is arriving on Dec 19. Coming along with this I have Space Dealer. Man, I need to organize my closet...

The Fantastic Four movie was garbage. Jack Kirby needs to rise and wreak terrible revenge upon all involved in its creation.

Another huge disappointment: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Awesome graphic novel; trash movie.

Concur on From Hell being good, and I did like Hell Boy. The upcoming Watchmen movie seems like it might have promise, though I'm not optimistic about Ghost Rider.

If any of you still read graphic novels and want some good ones not listed on any of the above lists to check out, just let me know. I'll share some copies.

 
At 10:14 AM, December 15, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Simon: I sat down to watch FF expecting a steaming pile extruded from the ungulate of your choice. It wasn't good, but it was better than expected.

Ben: I'm always open to give and receive graphic novel suggestions. Both LoEG books were great, and volume three comes out sometime next year. For reasons that are still unclear to me, it took me three viewings of the film to realize that it's rubbish.

 
At 8:47 AM, December 16, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Well this thread has gone far afield, but that's part of the fun of the net. You never know what conversation you are going to have until it's done.

Re: Ghost Rider

Nick Cage is a big comic fan, and I think he's a tremendous actor who puts his muse as high as his paycheck. Therefore I have high expectations. Well, moderately high.

 
At 7:18 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

"Nick Cage...I think he's a tremendous actor"

Can't...Stop...Laughing...

Seriously, I'll have to give you my Cage impression sometime.

He's a loser of a comic fan, too. Anyone who chooses their stage name based on the character Luke Cage is obviously lame.

 
At 9:07 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Luke Cage is very lame. It is pretty painful reading the early 80's comics featuring Power Man (aka Luke Cage) where the Marvel writers attemped to write his dialogue in a black urban dialect. He sounds sort of like the Marvel superhero version of Mr. T.

....but I'd at least put Nicholas Cage a baby step above Keanu Reeves....

Apparently Robert Downey Jr. is being cast as Iron Man in an upcoming movie....

Speaking of graphic novel movies.... Frank Miller's 300 (about the Battle of Thermopylae) is coming out in a few months and actually looks pretty good.

 
At 10:09 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I love Frank Miller!

 
At 9:27 AM, December 17, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Nick Cage, much like Keanu, has to have a director who understands his limitations. (I'm sure I've shared my "Keanu Triangle" theory with you, which explains why the Matrix was a smash. I haven't reduced Nick to a mathematical formula yet).

I could certainly stand to read a few comics (in graphic novel format). I've only got some basic stuff myself, Sandman, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, some incomplete Cerebus, Some Ticks.

 
At 9:25 PM, December 17, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Frank Miller's work is amazing, but despite his recent mainstream fame, Mr. Miller definitely writes GRAPHIC novels, with material that would probably offend almost everyone at some level, most particularly women. I just re-read part of his Hard Boiled today and though the writing and art work are amazing, its not for anyone of sensitive temperment.

 

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