What We've Been Playing

Friday January 18, 2019 at 1:07pm board games Comments (0) »
 Cover Artwork © Mayfair Games, Twogether Studios, Stonemaier Games, Plaid Hat Games
Cover Artwork © Mayfair Games, Twogether Studios, Stonemaier Games, Plaid Hat Games

Iron Dragon

My wife loves the Ticket To Ride games.  A lot.  We own most of the iterations and have played them more times over the years than I could possibly count.  We've occasionally tried other train-themed games, but TTR had always remained king.

Then about a year ago, I got her Iron Dragon for Christmas.  Since then I think we've played TTR maybe twice.  I mean, I can remember playing it once for sure.  There might have been another time.  I dunno.

This is actually an old game from the 90s, but it was reprinted in late 2017.  The game involves connecting cities like TTR, but you also have to deliver goods from city to city based on demands, and manage your cash to build new rails.  It's everything we liked about TTR, and then some.

Iron Dragon is a train-based, empire-building game with a sort of fantasy-industrial flavor.  Each city on the board produces one or two resources, and you have cards that indicate which cities want which goods.  You build track to deliver the wanted item to the city, and you get paid - the harder it was to get the item there, the bigger the payout.  Then you draw another demand card and expand your rail lines into new territory.  You can hire different foremen to help you build in different regions, and ujpgrade your train to go faster and carry more.

If there's one negative to ID, it's that it's a long game.  Playing with one other player when both of you know the rules well, a game takes about 2 hours.  If you add more people or you're playing with new players, add an hour or two.

 

Illimat

It turns out that the Decemberists got into playing board games.  Back in 2016, they hired the designers at Twogether Studios to create rules for a game based on the arcane, antiquated aesthetics of a photo shoot they'd done some years earlier, and launched a Kickstarter to fund it.  When one of my favorite bands wanted to do a project with one of my favorite hobbies, I was all in.

Since I got my copy back in late 2017, I've played it quite a bit, and it's one of the games I love introducing to people.

Illimat plays like a classic card game with some modern, mechanical twists.  It has enough recognizeable elements to be extremely accessible, but enough novelty to make it interesting.  The game is played in hands, where player attempt to "harvest" cards from different areas of the playing field.  The changing "seasons" of each area affect which actions you can and cannot do, and the "luminary" cards add additional, transient rules.

My friend Rucht and I actually got to talk with designers of the game on our Table Dragon podcast a while back.  We had some issues with the audio quality, but the conversation was a blast.

 

Charterstone

I do tend to get my wife a new game for Christmas each year.  For two reasons, really.  One, she likes board games, and two, she is really difficult to shop for.

We also have this tradition of playing boardgames around the Christmas tree during the holiday season.  In fact, it's probably the season where we play the most games.

This year, I wanted to do something different.  I'd heard about "legacy" board games, but had never played one - so I did a little googling for one that was well-reviewed and looked like the kind of thing my wife would be into.  I settled on Charterstone.

Let me say that this game is awesomeIt's a fairly standard (if complex) worker-placement game, but the legacy elements are amazing.  The introduction of mechanics a little at a time is a great way to build a complex game, and the unfolding story is interesting and surprisingly....odd.  We're six games in to the 12-game campaign, and it continues to surprise us with new aspects.

If you pick up this game - which I do recommend - make sure you only read what you're supposed to, and make sure you read that very, very carefully: if you don't do something just right, you can screw stuff up.  Probably not irreparably, but enough that it will affect future games.  Also, don't overthink it: just do what it tells you to do, make sure you've got it all, and then just play with what you know.  The game will build itself from there.  Really cool.

Since picking this one up, I've been looking into other legacy games. I've heard good things about Gloomhaven and the Betrayal Legacy game.

 

Stuffed Fables

This was one of the many games introduced to me by one or more of my many gamer/board-gamer friends.  This one I've only played once so far, but I've got to mention it, because it's so cool.

First, the premise of Stuffed Fables is awesome: all of the players are the stuffed animals belonging to a little girl.  They protect her at night, of course.

Second, the game progression is interesting.  It plays a little like a board game, a little like and rpg, and a little like a choose-your-own-adventure book.  Basically, each page of the game book contains a bit of story and a game board with a given objective.  The players move around the board and perform actions based on their character abilities and the objective on that "page" of the story.  After completing the actions on that page/board, you flip to another one based on what happened.

The game has an interesting dice-drawing mechanic.  Most of the other mechanics of Stuffed Fables seem fairly standard, but well implemented.  It's a cooperative game as well, which I always enjoy.  Also, the miniatures look awesome, and I can't wait to paint them.

 

Honorable Mentions

There are, of course, always a number of other games I've heard good things about that I'd love to pick up at some point.  Right now that list contains KeyForge, Terrra Mystica, Gaia Project, Scythe, Swords and Strongholds, I'd also love to play Roll for the Galaxy again.

 

~PS

Black Foxes: Better Than Nothing

Thursday January 17, 2019 at 8:30pm blades in the dark, black foxes, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix
Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix

- Fortune was not on the side of our scoundrels tonight, which meant that all of their successes came with a lot more strings attached.

- The pair found out which door had been repainted recently from a man hanging out on a balcony in the backpool, but only after Erik agreed to take him out for a drink the following evening and the manifesting ghost echoes prompted them to act on this information immediately.

- Once inside, the crew met the man called Thad they'd been told about - some Iruvian hawker from a gang called the Incense Collective.  Turns out the gang that Tellis used to run with indirectly caused some problems for Thad's organization, and that was going to dent the profitability of any deal to be made.  By this time, Boros and Erik were so worn down that they just wanted to take what they could get and be done with it. 

- The gang ended up with some impressive coin, but it was only a fraction of what their stolen loot was worth.  To top it off, Thad only agreed to the deal at all if they promised him a favor, but they had to get something out of this and they knew their bargaining position was slipping by the second. 

- Looks like the Foxes are going to be breaking into a Bluecoat watch station to destroy some incriminating evidence - but first, they've got to do something on their own turf about the Stone Club...

Aralakh Company: Out For Blood pt. VI

Thursday January 10, 2019 at 8:30pm battletech, aralakh company, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Battletech artwork © Harebrained Schemes
Battletech artwork © Harebrained Schemes

- With armor all but completely blasted away from both sides, each hit began to have a real impact.  While Aralakh and the attackers both took quite a bit of critical damage in recent exchanges, the key turning point came when the newly-arrived reinforcements managed to take the 95-ton Banshee out of the fight.

Cyrran Reaches: The Silent Keep pt. II

Tuesday January 8, 2019 at 8:15pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- After fighting off the orcs, the group stayed the night at the Darkpine Inn as local celebrities.  The next day they made their way into the pine forest and up to the sealed keep.  The forest was unnaturally dark, devoid of animal life, and host to shadowy beings that lingered just at the edge of their perception. 

- Upon arriving at the keep's walls, they found that the doors of the gate had been broken but wedged back in place, and that something had gouged abyssal words into the stone wall.  Lily was able to read the writing, but when she tried to tell Kael what it said, something began to affect her mind or perception.  Believing him to be a threat, Lily attacked Kael - stabbing him with her sword.  As the others attempted to discern what was happening and talk her down, she appeared more and more disconnected from the present situation.  An enchantment-breaking spell from Ravina eventually returned her completely to them.

- Meanwhile, Taryn had found a way into the keep.  Climbing a tree that had fallen against the wall, the group was able to easily bypass the gate and the 15' wall it was set in.  Once inside, they found the streets littered with half-completed statues of people (which they suspect may be victims of some unusual petrification effect) and the dead bodies of several devils.  The only living thing they encountered was a senile old woman who didn't seem to know much about what was going on.

- After the old woman wandered off, the group decided to press further in, searching for the lord's manor...

Black Foxes: Moving The Goods

Thursday December 20, 2018 at 9:15pm blades in the dark, black foxes, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix
Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix

- The other boatman turned out to be an opportunist called Tellis looking for a way to make some coin with his info.  He gave them some instructions and the name of a likely buyer for the goods they'd just pulled out of the canal.

- The crew decided to jump on the opportunity immediately - both to unload their hot cargo asap, and because they really need the coin to finance their other efforts.

- Making their way to Silkshore, they made contact with the Bluecoat Lannerhand and got access to the backpool - but the blue door they were supposed to find is nowhere to be seen...

Aralakh Company: Out For Blood pt. V

Tuesday December 18, 2018 at 8:30pm battletech, aralakh company, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Battletech artwork © Harebrained Schemes
Battletech artwork © Harebrained Schemes

- Having lost their heavies, Aralakh found itselve in a seriously-out-gunned 2-on-4 match.  They spent a couple of rounds in defensive maneuvering before getting word that half of Garret's Bluesabres lance was coming in to assist them. 

- The arrival of the Clint and Orion didn't exactly even the playing field, but it did add significant strength to their previously-desperate position.  Even so, they had poor fortune overall in trying to inflict significant damage on their foes...

Cyrran Reaches: Village Beset pt. III

Monday December 17, 2018 at 8:30pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- The party continued to engage them undead leaders as the orc horde descended upon the village.  Some well-placed blows, a summoning spell, entangling vegetation, and a breath weapon kept the raiders from reaching the town and sent them fleeing back into the wilderness.

- After the battle, Taryn once again noticed a strange flash in the dragon orb he had been carrying - it was accompanied this time by a voice and a summons.  What he found when he answered was a sort of meeting place for the current owners of the orbs - though this was not at all to say they were "friends".

- One of the villagers did give them a bit more info about the keep - but mostly they weren't sure what was going on.  The keep had suddenly ceased opening its gates and no human sounds are heard coming from within.  The darkness that has settled upon the pine forest has kept most of the villagers away from it.

Cyrran Reaches: Village Beset pt. II

Thursday December 13, 2018 at 9:00pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- As the party continued more earnestly engaged the raiders, they found the two lead orcs to be a considerable challenge.  By the time the rest of the band was reaching the village, only one of the wolves had been killed.  Lily sent a sonic bolt through the remaining wolf and its orc rider.  The stroke felled the latter, but then that a strange, red static seemed to pull it back up from the ground, it's eyes glowing bright as arcs of brilliant red electricity shot between the tall spires of the keep on the hill behind them...

Cyrran Reaches: Village Beset pt. I

Tuesday December 4, 2018 at 8:15pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- The group was talking a bit more with the locals - trying to get a feel for the village and whatever is going on there - when they suddenly found themselves under attack by some raiding orcs from the plains to the west, and by shadows from the pine forest at the edge of town...

Cyrran Reaches: The Silent Keep pt. I

Tuesday November 27, 2018 at 8:30pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- Having discussed their next move, the party made plans to seek out the keep called Ver'Sheole: if Many Eyes, Many Teeth had interest in the location, they wanted to reach it before the cult did.

- They consulted with Tyless Vallane again about what the House Vallane Adventurers' Guild knew about Ver'Sheole, which, unfortunately, wasn't much.  It was an elven keep located in a pass up in the Elmhine Mountains that has long been abandoned.  An old "road" leading up and out of the Navlin Forest should take you to the keep if you can find it. 

- Tyless was a bit more help in planning their route, however, knowing more about the Reaches than any in the party.  He told them the fastest way would likely be to go north through the town of Blosam and then east to the Navlin Forest and the mountains, but, he said, if they took a slightly longer route through Fort Kelsguard, they might be able to find useful information in its library.  Feeling like they might need more info to find the place, they opted for the latter option.

- On the way to Kelsguard, the party found the remains of a wagon and the bodies of two men apparently attacked by orcs.  Tyrrox happened to notice a letter among the tattered clothing of one of the men - it was addressed to the constable at Rolessi and detailed a call for help from Fort Kelsguard, saying that the keep had cut itself off from the village outside and that they suspected their paranoid ruler had finally gone mad.

- They arrived at the village of Kelsguard just after dusk and made their way to the only establishment that seemed to contain any activity - a reasonably-sized inn called Darkpine run by a somewhat cantankerous woman by the name of Helia Twill.  Lily did a good job of presenting the party to the suspicious strangers in the best possible light, but while Helia did tell them that something was certainly wrong, she refused to go into any detail.  Instead, she told them that if they wanted to find out what was going on, they needed to go to the keep and look for themselves...

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