Monday, May 21, 2007

Looong weekend.

My brain hurts. I've played mainly medium to HUGE sized games this weekend. On Saturday, it was Die Macher, and La Citta.... 2 games that I've wanted to try for the longest time. Last night (Sunday) Mark and I tried a couple of months of East Front 2. Today we did Arkham Horror and Descent-The 6 hour marathon (I played the 'funnest' scenario yet, but it was just a tiny bit long). What a fun weekend.... I really hope I can find something similar to this group in Houston.

Now, as I collapsed from brain exhaustion to check my email, I noticed that I got very interesting news in my inbox that re-energized the geek in me....



At 9:21 PM, May 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too saw the HD SC2 trailer...I downloaded the 450+MB one but it looks "verrah naiiice." Any word on a release date yet? If so, I missed it. Christmas maybe? Hope it gets the usual Blizzard level of polish.

Ok, back to board games...

So, sounds like RobCon was a success. Arkham and Descent sound like fun. As I started finding out about board games after meeting you guys (and then started BUYING a poor wallet), I pegged Descent and Arkham as two of the games I'm really looking forward to trying. After 6 hours (and I hope that was for BOTH games, not just one), I'm guessing they may not get pulled out again for a while, BUT....if they do, I'd like to jump in a game. Of course, I'd also like to get in my first game of TI3 some weekend. (That presumes, though, that I make it through being on call for the next TWO weekends in a row. I keep imagining Lumberg from Office Space: "Ummm, yeah, we're gonna need you to come in the next two weekends, ok? That'd be great.")

At 10:01 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Brain tired... malfunctioning.

Starcraft very nice. Me want.

Arkham Horror very nice. Better with expansions.

Descent was good, but it was too much after game of Arkham... sort of like eating two holiday feasts back to back. The Overlord lost, but but it could have gone either way. I should have killed more glyphs and less characters... Still, a good scenario. Sorcerers are still the best monster, though I was impressed by the red demon.

I think both games display the utter component fetish that FFG has... which I think is a good thing, but leads to total sensory overload. I mean Arkham Horror literally has at least 20 separate decks of cards, and Descent... well, forget about it. My brain is hurting again.

TI:3... yeah... it'll probably be late June before I can play due to an upcoming 12 day trip overseas, but I'm up for it. Budget about 8 hours with a minimum of 4 players required.

At 10:14 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

"I want my stapler".

I downloaded the HD version too, and blasted my 5.1 surround sound system. (insert Borat voice) "Wow wow wooa!".

I had goosebumps watching the darn thing.

Back to BG's...

Arkham was only 3 hrs. Again I agree that it's just perfect with 3-4 players (Ben, Jeff and I). I probably would suggest some of those variants that are somewhere in cyberspace that make the game just a bit harder because we nailed it like a .... carpenter.

Descent itself was about 6 hr. TI3 falls in between in terms of time.

Descent for some reason always excites me for a couple of hours, then the excitement plateaus when it starts to feel like I'm doing the same over and over....which can be not that fun after the 4th hr. If only it were shorter. Of course, having played another biggie like Arkham before it may skew my view of it.

Plus I think in general, that I'm not too fond of the "all players vs 1" model specially ones that last >3hrs. Fury of Dracula comes to mind (a game that I really want to like).

TI3 is just great IMO. Long, but a lot of interesting things are happening all the time, and lots of interesting choices.

At 10:17 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Arkham Horror very nice. Better with expansions.

I'd probably consider Dunwich Horrow if I played the game more.

At 10:20 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Check out for a new video on TI:3. They're doing a series over the next few weeks.

The designer suggested variant to make things just a tad bit harder in Arkham is pop two monsters at the start rather than one. This doesn't sound like too much of a difference, but can send things down a dark path early when everyone is level one.

Of course it helped we picked one of the easier old ones... I don't think we'd be quite so cocky against one of the bad ones.

Having Jeff start with the flamethrower and me with the AH equivalent of Excalibur the whole game helped too...

There's a good game lurking in the Descent game box... I think the key is good scenario design. I don't think there's anything wrong with the game system itself. Believe it or not there are scenarios in the latest expansion much longer than the one we played...

At 10:22 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said...


At 10:27 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

These are the variants I remember reading last year. It does include the 2 monster on the first gate, plus a few others.

I agree that having 2 tanks, and a spell caster worked out pretty good (I would have loved having more spells though).

At 10:48 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

May was a busy month for me. Lots of Domestic Activity and little time for gaming. If we want to plan a game of TI3 for June and if you can wait for late June (possibly early July), I may be able to convince my wife to take the family to my in-laws house. This would allow me to host at my house.

I am almost always behind the curve. I just got BattleLore and all your talk about Arkahm is very interesting, but also a complete mystery to me.

At 11:40 PM, May 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Hijacking the thread for Starcraft again for a sec)

I think the primary reason Starcraft was so successful was that the units were so well balanced. Clearly, their big point with the demo seems to be balance again. "See gamers, unit X beats unit Y which beats unit Z which beats unit X."

Oh. And sexy graphics. Their two big points were balance and sexy graphics. And nuclear weapons. Their THREE big points...

BTW, when that voice started chiming, "Nuclear launch detected" at the end of the video, I expected my computer screen to absolutely SHATTER when they hit. I was a teensy bit underwhelmed by the result. They need to pump that effect up a bit. Otherwise, I can't wait to see this on a rig that will run it.

All those little Zerg running around reminded me of the cockroach scene from that old 80's movie Creepshow. Kinda gave ME the creeps, which I think is a pretty good effect for a videogame.

At 11:56 PM, May 21, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

The nukes weren't as impressive as the ones in C&C 3, which I'm still tremendously enjoying. Still, I've always had a soft spot for the Protoss, though I'm worried they're starting to resemble the Night Elves just a bit in the concept art.

Anyway, one can only hope this will lead into World of Starcraft around 2008-9 or so...

At 8:11 AM, May 22, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

There's a good game lurking in the Descent game box... I think the key is good scenario design.

The same is true of Wizard Kings. I had fun messing w/ the v1.x version, but right now I'm looking for games that are solid out of the box.

I guess Descent is supposed to be an RPG dungeon crawl, except the players are actually playing *against* the DM.

I'll probably continue to pass on Descent.

Carlos: Arkham is a coop with a strong RPG aspect. They work hard to let a boardgame deliver a rich experience of discovery, and they are fairly successful. The resulting game is laden w/ chrome and a real beauty, IMO. The theme, however, is very dark and probably not appropriate for kids under 12.

At 11:31 AM, May 22, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Growing up playing various forms of D&D (when taking a break from wargames) it was not at all unusual to spend a long afternoon hacking and slashing through a dungeon. Personally I always enjoyed the tactical combat aspects of D&D, as simple as they were, way more than any sort of roleplaying. Descent captures this aspect of gaming very, very well. If hack and slash dungeon crawling is what you're looking for, I don't think there's any game that's captured the experience better. The downsides of time requirement and needing a well designed dungeon go hand-in-hand with the theme, in my opinion. That said, I thought the scenario we played was pretty darn good, plus it used almost every monster from the base game plus two expansions, which was pretty cool.

Arkham Horror is pretty dark... I'd say its okay for teenagers, but not little tikes. Its still one of my favorite games. The next expansion is due in June...

At 3:42 AM, May 23, 2007, Blogger Al said...

Where did the group meet on Monday? I went by DL and Jeff's house. Oh, well, I had some work that needed to be done anyway.

At 10:49 AM, May 23, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Dark...I like DARK!

Ben, was it Dunwich Horror the expansion that included the new 'afflictions'? I thought it was a very cool mechanic.... your character with his concussion.... sweet.

At 4:34 PM, May 23, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Yep... permanent wounds and madness cards were in Dunwich, and the special talents/curses (e.g., harried, tainted, tour guide, visions, etc.) were in the Dark Pharoah expansion. Both expansions are very well done and add a lot to the game. Jeff had two of the expansion characters, the soldier and the athlete, and both seemed very cool.

I think the artifact items and spells with the Egyptian theme were also interesting (e.g., Chimes of Ra; Touch of Isis).

Supposedly the King in Yellow expansion coming in couple weeks is supposed to make things a tad tougher by adding a Herald of the Old One that may appear... sort of similar to the Dunwich Horror, only he'll go around in Arkham doing bad things. The rules are on-line now, but I haven't taken the time to digest them yet.

Now, where is my Tide of Iron shipment!! Argh!

At 6:10 PM, May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have Tide of Iron and King in Yellow both preordered. Normally this would be a pretty good thing. But they are both preordered from the same place. And they are both part of the same order, which means I have to wait for BOTH to come in before I get either of them.

"Haha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never combine preorders! Hahahahahaha--"

Time to go pay the separate ship fee.

At 7:30 AM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Here's some details on the next Descent expansion, which seems like it addresses complaints of game length:

The way that dungeons work in Road to Legend is that instead of having a bunch of areas all connected to each other on the same level, you have smaller "dungeon levels" which are about the size of 1 area from the base game. A deck of cards determines which dungeon level is used each time. The heroes clear a level, get the door to the next level unlocked, and then move on (draw a new card, set up the next level, and go). Each level is designed to play in about 1 hour, and it's perfectly possible to save your game state between levels.

Thus, you should always be less than an hour or so away from a good stopping point. And yes, you'll be able to use this system to play Descent normally if you want.

-Kevin Wilson
Fantasy Flight Games

At 12:22 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

"Jeff had two of the expansion characters, the soldier and the athlete, and both seemed very cool."

Seemed cool, my eye! They WERE cool! The soldier starts with the frickin' flamethower, and would have been nigh unstoppable if it weren't for his tendency to get unnerved at the sight of otherworldy bogeymen. Still, he did his part and was en route to close the final gate to Yuggoth when he got ambushed by Shub-Niggurath. You know, one of the Elder gods, the boss monsters, the big guys. If Shub hadn't had Physical Immunity (so the flamethrower didn't work), I would have had a good chance at beating him.

Good times.

Arkham Horror with three is still a long game, but there so much less down time as compared to five+ that it retains its fun. It's definitely what Brian calls a "limited fun" game. When there's too many players to divvy up the fun between, you don't get a big enough piece.

"The ratio of people to cake is too high."

At 2:01 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I don't think I'd call Arkham Horror "fixed fun" exactly... The game is very good solo, but the fun increases steadily at two players, and peaks, I think, at three. Four players is about as much fun as two (i.e., still very good), but I wouldn't consider playing at all with five or more.

Runebound is pretty much the same, incidentally.

At 2:14 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

There's an AH variant posted at the FFG message boards with the Grinch as the Old One. Each turn when he attacks, he takes one of your items. Once you're out of items, you're devoured. You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.


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