- Though wearing down quickly, the group continued the fight against the demons until their leader noticed the monstrous demonic spider trying to gain entry to the hall - at which point it fled and its remaining lackies went with it.
- After taking a moment to regain their strength, the party decided they would make a search of this main structure of the keep. Its upper floors contained the bodies of quite a few dead demons, the most of which were piled before the door of a small study. Having discovered there was someone inside, they had a brief conversation through the locked door before he vanished. It wasn't until later that Lily realized who it was: Aulthust, the marked man.
- The group picked the lock and searched through the room, finding that the man was apparently concerned with books on elven lore and history and something pertaining to a dwarven settlement - and they learned a few tidbits from the open books they found and decided they would head to the keep's library. There they found more info about the keep they're heading to - Ver'Sheole - and saw more evidence of Aulthust's search for information on a place called Ur'Galek...
- Unable to trace the tattooed man (suspecting he was an illusion) and aware that demons in the streets around them were closing in, they made the decision to smash their way through a window of the large, central building.
- Once in position, Tyrrox shattered the glass and metal of the window and everyone scrambled up and through it. Though their efforts were well coordinated, they soon found themselves under attack and pressed between a gang of demons from inside the building, and the monstrous, demonic spider from outside...
|Saturday March 16, 2019 at 5:00pm||no thank you evil, towing hobgoblins, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
- The Inspector directed the Pirate Olivia and her Pretty Pony to take the hobgoblins they'd captured to Lucy Lawful in Out The Window.
- On the way to the Crossroads, they saved Edwin Bear from a gang of Fluff Spiders.
- They encountered That Imp at the Crossroads, but they managed to get past him by convincing him that his demanded toll of three Unicorn Feathers didn't make any sense.
- Once through the Crossroads and into Out The Window, they searched the crowded city streets for Lucy Lawful's office. Just when they found it, however, a wave of Bobgoblins swept them into Nortorious Inc. where Olivia found herself locked in a filing room...
- The party gathered themselves together and made their way deeper into the keep. They found the central building structure - likely the lord's manor and court they were seeking. Between them and the entrance, however, was a great deal of webbing they believed was probably from the massive demonic spider Lily had seen earlier. From the attic of a nearby tavern, they were able to get a slighly better view of the area. They were deciding whether to go through the webs, traverse the rooftops over them, or smash their way through one of the high windows when they caught sight of someone moving in the abandoned city: a tall man with a curling tattoo of a two-headed dragon on his face...
- The group was continuing its struggle against the Gelugon and its Bone Devil minions when a small horde of Babau demons were alerted to the situation. Taryn had managed to distract and anger the ice fiend - which was both good and bad. As the Babau rushed in, the Gelugon once more blasted the entire area with a wave of frost, further wearing down the already-battered PCs and the demons alike. The PCs collectively decided to let the mortal enemy fiends take out each other while they disengaged.
- Unfortunately, the injured Kael found himself pinned down against one of the buildings in the street as the fight between the outsiders raged around him. Taking aim at the Gelugon's head, fortune smiled on the desperate ranger - giving him a perfect shot that felled the devil. As it exploded into shards of ice, the Babau horde chased after the remaining Bone Devils, leaving the PCs alone on the frozen streets...
Over the weekend, Sheri & I played Between Two Cities with our daughter. We'd bought the game for her for Christmas - our friend Tony had recommended it as a good age-accessible game - but with everything else going on, we hadn't managed to bring it to the table before now. Actually, Hannah had even forgotten about it entirely.
Since Sheri & I are both into various tabletop games, we like to encourage that with our kids - especially with Hannah, now that she's getting old enough to really play some of the more interesting games. I mean, Candyland has its limits.
Between Two Cities is a great quick-play game for 3-7 people. The fact that it supports more than 4 players is an automatic bonus for us, since we frequently play games with larger groups of friends. It actually has a solo variant as well, if that's your thing. We played the game through twice in about half an hour or so. We were only playing with three, but because of the way the game works, I don't imagine that increasing the number of players will greatly affect the play time (I'll let you know if I find out differently). The game has a competitive goal, but it is actually played cooperatively - which is a very interesting dichotomy.
During the three "rounds" of the game, you will be building two different cities: one with the player to your left, and the other with the player to your right. On each turn, you'll choose a couple of tiles from your hand, and you will to place one in each - then, you and your partners will decide where to place the tiles in your city for best effect. There are several different types of tiles, and each scores points in a different way; the goal is to create the best cities you can with what you have. Note that you have to focus on both cities, because your personal score will be equal to whichever of your cities scores the lowest.
Hannah loved the game. At 7, she can't quite keep all of the considerations in her head while placing tiles - but then, neither can I. She said she really wants to play it again, though she's also really excited to play Stuffed Fables and to do more No Thank You Evil. She went to bed that night having encountered, for the first time, the "Gamer's Dilemma": So Many Games, So Little Time.
Last night was supposed to be our third D&D session of 2019, but alas, it was cancelled due to a player or two being sick. So instead, the healthy among us busted out a couple of small box board games.
The first one we pulled out was called "Play Me". It's an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed dice-rolling game that starts competitive and then (probably) becomes cooperative.
The basic mechanic is that you're trying to be the first to roll a 1-6 straight on six dice, only keeping one die per roll. You can "block" the other players to slow them down, and each of the characters you're playing (Alice, the Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter, etc) starts out with a unique ability that aids them in this endeavor. However, once you've won a round, your card flips to the "Madness" side: you lose your special ability and gain a pretty serious detriment. The design consideration seems to be that it should be possible for someone to win with their detriment in play, but it should be unlikely.
If you do pull off a Madness win, you win and the game is over - but if no one manages this before all players have flipped to the Madness side, then the game changes: the last person to win loses their character - and becomes the Jabberwocky. Everyone else flips their cards back over to the advantageous (aka "Wonder") side, and they, collectively, must now win multiple rounds before the Jabberwocky can drive them all Mad.
Overall this was a simple but fun game. Not one I could play for hours, but it has an interesting flavor and is definitely fast-paced. The competitive/cooperative dynamic is also interesting. I think our game took about 20 minutes, and that seemed like the "right" amount of time to spend on it. The artwork is really cool, and the dice are pretty. Also, I love Alice in Wonderland, so that's a plus for me. (Sidenote: In case you're wondering, this is the best movie version.)
Tiny Epic Quest
We started to play Tiny Epic Quest some weeks ago, but really only managed to get it set up, sort of figure out the rules, and stumble through a couple of turns. (Note: learning the game takes some effort.) I was just starting to really get into it when we had to quit for the night. Last night, we cracked it open again.
For being so Tiny, this game is pretty complex - or, at least it has a lot of components and aspects. And a lot of fiddly bits.
Basically, the game works like this:
The game is played over 5 rounds, each of which has a Day phase and a Night phase. During the Day phase, you move your three heroes to different locations on the island kingdom - usually to complete "movement quests", to get boosts from "Mushroom Grottos", and/or to set yourself up for the Night phase. During the Night phase you "Adventure". Here players take turns rolling the Adventuring Dice, which will damage them, give them Power to help aid their efforts, increase the world's magic level (so they can learn Spells), and allow them to progress through temples and attack goblins. Some symbols rolled will benefit everyone, others only affect some players based on who rolled them, the relative seating positions of those at the table, and the number of symbols rolled. Adventuring continues until all players have said they've had enough and declared that they're going to "Rest" - at which point the Night Phase resolves and the game progresses to the next Day.
Objectives for earning victory points in Tiny Epic Quest include learning Spells, completing Quests/Temples, and fighting Goblins. Learning Spells increases your magic power, defeating Goblins increases your health/toughness, and completing Quests gives you some boon to aid in your adventures.
Scoring at the end of the 5th round works something like games such as Agricola: you get points for Quests, for defeating Goblins, and for learning Spells. The more of one thing you do, the more points you get - but ignoring one of those aspects actually costs you points as well, so you'll want to keep that in mind. You also get bonus points for each Legendary Item you recover (which you do by completing certain Temples according to your hero card). In only 5 rounds, you probably won't get "everything", so you'll want to plan where you're going to focus without getting too specialized.
We played this one for an hour and a half or so before we had to call it. I think we made it into round 4, so we didn't have a lot more to go. I found this one to be a lot of fun, and I look forward to playing it again. While it is complex, once you get your head around the different aspects, it's actually pretty straight-forward - and since everyone's movement choices and die rolls offer opportunities to all of the players, you don't get too bored during other players' turns.
Production value on the game is pretty high - which is what we tend to expect these days. All of the components are well designed and produced, and the implementation of meeples that can actually hold items is highly amusing as well.
- As the group proceeded deeper into the fort, Kael found a town-square area that contained a fountain - all of it frozen over with a thick layer of ice. The bodies of dozens of devils and other monstrous humanoid creatures littered the ground. There was a sudden tremor and a red, electric glow "awakened" the ice devil lying in a far corner, which then summoned several more fiends to its aid.
- The group struggled to reunite and coordinate its efforts against this threat, but a building collapse resulted in something of a bottleneck in the street. Ravina was KO'd attempting to keep the creature from concentrating its attacks on the injured Kael, Lily is having some difficulty getting into position, and Tyrrox has been tied up with a pair of bone devils. The gelugon has proved itself a formidable opponent, and while the acid breath from Taryn's orb was effective, the ice devil returned in kind with a blast of frigid air...
The battle continues...
As of a little less than two weeks ago, Catalyst finally released their awesome new Battletech Box sets. And, from what I hear, supplies are already running short. Also, as part of my "yearly gaming order", I picked up a handful of units from some "unofficial" third-party manufacturers which have been added to my already decent collection of plastic minis from other production runs. Because there are some notable differences between them, I thought I'd do a little comparison here. Such a thing would have been useful to me, I think.
Battletech 3rd Edition
While I only really got into the miniatures game 4ish years ago, my oldest Battletech minis harken all the way from 1994. I am, of course, talking about the Battletech 3rd Edition Box Set. The 3rd Ed set came with 14 plastic minis of fairly poor quality. I mean, that was like 25 yeas ago - your expectations probably shouldn't be *super* high. There are a fair number of holes and warped/mis-shapen surfaces. My Warhammer was actually missing part of the shoulder such that the right arm couldn't be attached. Most of this was readily fixable (the rebuild on the WHM's arm was a bit arduous, but turned out well), but it's not indicative of superlative production quality.
The thing is, however, basically all of the 3rd Ed box minis, shabby as they are, are also Unseen minis: if you want an official, old-style Marauder or Warhammer in plastic, this is pretty much your option. Also, I found that good paint work can really make a so-so sculpt look good. My Crusader from this set is, I think, still one of my best minis.
The scale of some of these minis is a little wonky, tending toward overlarge size compared to the later box sets (though not the most recent, see below) - particularly the lights and mediums, such as the Phoneix Hawk, which seems comically oversized for a 45-ton medium, especially standing next to the Battlemaster from the same set.
Battletech Introductory Box Set
The next box set with plastic minis arrived via Catalyst in '07. This one had 24 plastic minis, plus two "premium" plastic minis. While the "premium" minis were nice, the other minis in the set are, well, pretty poor quality, suffering from most of the same problems as the 3rd Ed box, but without the appeal of Unseen units. Still, if you were just getting into the game, 26 minis would give you a lot of play for $50-$60, even if it wasn't particularly "pretty".
The sculpts on these are what some would characterize as "classic", and what others might deem "silly". The two are not mutually exclusive. The units are modeled around older designs, and some of them show their age more than others.
I have a set of the minis from this first intro box set production, but I haven't bothered painting any of them. I have, however, let my 7yo paint a few, in her typical rainbow fashion.
The scale of these is what I use as a baseline, as the sculpts and sizes are similar to the metal minis of the time. In general, the scale seems "normal", though some units are maybe a little too big or too small.
In addition, this set came with some really nice folding cardboard maps. I have two sets of these, and they are what I prefer to play on. After having the thick boards, playing on creased paper seems like a downgrade.
Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set & Alpha Strike Lance Packs
This one - the one with the Atlas on the cover - is what I would refer to as the Holy Grail of plastic Battletech. The "premium" minis in this set are different units from the previous and, ironically, maybe not quite as good - but the other units are the *real* story.
This set contained the same impressive array of units with identical sculpts as the previous release, but with a major improvement in quality. Aside from the "premium" units of the former release, these were probably the first "good" plastic minis for Classic Battletech. I have two full sets of these minis, and they form the backbone of my collection through sheer numbers. The Alpha Strike Lance Packs had units of the same quality (all of them including at least 2 units from the box set), and at ~$15, they were a decent value as well. To this day, if you see a copy of the 25th Anniversary Box Set for anything even close to MSRP, it's a great value.
Since they're the same sculpts as the original Intro set, the scale evaluation is identical. There are a few minis from the Alpha Strike packs - like the Stalker - that seem to be a bit "off", but overall the line feels *fairly* consistent.
Battletech Beginner Box and A Game Of Armored Combat
And that brings us to Catalyst's most recent offer: the new, much-anticipated box sets that came out just a couple weeks ago.
The sculpts on these units are pretty amazing. Maybe not *perfect* quality, but they are definitely the best to-date. The only "complaint" on I have on these minis - and it's a comparatively small one - is that they monkeyed with the scale. The minis from the new sets are noticeably larger than they should be - some, like the Awesome and the Catapult are pretty dramatically different. While they are taller, mostly the new units are just thicker - beefier.
I'm not sure why they did this. Perhaps the larger size made controlling for errors in the plastic easier or less expensive. Or perhaps they're looking to make more and they're seeking to "invalidate" previous models. Given the not-quite-consistent array Battletech seems to have with regard to scale anyway, the different unit sizes are likely only to be distracting when fielded with the same units from other productions. So, while not a "perfect" addition to existing mini collections, they're acceptable - and, again, the quality on these is outstanding, and the sculpts are considerably cooler than their predecessors (especially that Thunderbolt).
The new paper maps in these sets are pretty nice - the shading on the levels makes a flat map way more playable. That said, I'm unlikely to use them as-is: the cardboard maps are just too nice, and I like the hex terrain levels I've made. I will probably chop these maps up to make more hex terrrain. I *did* find the inclusion of some cardboard tiles with terrain bits on them a nice surprise - this can add some additional variation to the otherwise static maps.
The quality of the other materials in the box are all superb as well - rulebooks, fiction, etc - but the minis are what I came for.
And now we move on it 3rd-party and "unofficial" sources for Battletech:
Some time back, Palladium made a Robotech miniatures game called Robotech Tactics. From what I understand, it wasn't a huge success. However, several of the miniatures for this game were perfect stand-ins for Unseen Battletech 'mechs claiming the same design. By the time I discovered these, they were getting to be hard to find. I'd still love to find a Spartan/Phalanx (Archer/Longbow) set for $Decent, but alas, those seem to be long gone. I did, however, pick up a Tomahawk/Defender (Warhammer/Rifleman) box - and, as of the time of this writing, you can still find these here and there.
These minis are good quality, but they are a nuclear pain to assemble. One miniature of this scale should not be composed of more than a dozen pieces, especially when those pieces have precious few tabs or sockets to help with their assembly. They also leave some gaps in unwanted places.
That said, once you've won the assembly battle, you've got some pretty nice-looking units, and the scale is pretty near identical to the original Battletech minis - at least for most units.
When I ordered my set off Amazon, I noted that it had 5 reviews. Three of them mentioned that they were bought for Battletech. I wonder what percentage of Robotech Tactics minis ever see a Robotech Tactics game.
I follow the #battletech hashtag on Instagram, and through this discovered that you can get some unofficial and/or 3d-printed minis of newer sculpts (such as MWO versions) from various places online. Warhansa seemed to be one of the better liked sources.
Given that the company is in Russia, it takes a minute to get deliveries here in the states. That said, they have a pretty impressive catalog of "Robomechs", scaled to the same(ish) size as standard Battletech minis - so I ordered a few minis unavailable in plastic from anywhere else.
Overall, the quality is good, but there does seem to be some variance from unit to unit. I don't know if some of their models are just better than others, or if the production of said models is inconsistent, but I found that my Black Knight, Crab, and Urbanmech are pretty precise, while the Highlander and King Crab have considerably more...fudge...in the rendering. Still, they'll all look good once they're painted up.
The minis come disassembled and with a bit of material to be trimmed, but they're quite easy to put together - probably the easiest I've done to-date.
Scale seems to be fairly accurate to standard Battletech overall - which is to say, a little bit smaller than the current sets. One or two might be slightly too big or too small, but again, within standard deviations.
The names Warhansa gives to their minis are obvious tongue-in-check references to official Battletech units: the Crab and King Crab are "Shrimp" and "Jumbo Shrimp" respecitively, the Black Knight is a "King Arthur", the Highlander is a "Mountain", etc. It does make identifying them fairly straightforward in most cases.
Strato is a Polish company that makes some generic-ish sci-fi minis of a generally comparable scale, but some of them are obviously inspired by Battletech units. These minis might be the best looking ones I own. Very precise casting over 95%+ of the surfaces. And the sculpts - particularly the one for the Marauder (which they call "Bull Shark") - look amazing. When I saw that, I knew I'd be giving them some cash.
These minis come disassembled and with some material to be trimmed - particularly from the bottoms of the feet - but they're not too bad to put together, and the final product looks great.
The Stratominis scale is a little bit too big, but that actually puts it in the right ballpark for the current Battletech minis from the new sets. While those units are really "beefy", most of the Strato units are sleeker - just tall.
So, there you have it. My findings in the realm of non-metal Battletech miniatures.
When not playing our tabletop rpg campaigns (see also: most of the rest of this blog currently), we've enjoy busting out some board games. Every so often, we pick up a new one that we really like. Here's what we've got into over the last year or so:
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 upgrade 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.
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.
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 awesome. It'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.
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 an 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.
I heard cool things about this game online and encountered it in passing at our (mostly) yearly Trogland Meetup, but I didn't get to play it until more recently. It did not disappoint.
Vast is a pretty unique game in my experience. The premise is a group of conflicting parties all wanting something from a given situation - specifically, a situation involving a cave, a dragon, a knight, a theif, a tribe of goblins, and, of course, treasure.
Some of the goals are mutually exclusive, but others are not. I may not get the specifics quite right, but it's something like this: The Knight wants to kill the dragon. The Dragon wants to wake up and leave the cave (presumably to sow chaos elsewhere), the Theif wants to steal the treasure. The Goblins want to kill the Knight. The Cave wants to collapse on all of these noisy intruders so that it can rest.
Each player plays one of the above roles (including the Cave!), and has their own set of actions and abilities to perform on their turn. The first to accomplish their objective wins the game.
Now, when I say that each player has their own set of actions and abilities, I mean they each have their own unique set of mechanics. This makes the game very interesting, but also very difficult to learn. In most games, if you're new, after a brief overview you have someone else go first and you just kind of watch what they do to get the gist of how the thing works. That method is utterly useless with Vast, because what the other players do has literally nothing in common with what you'll be doing. And, unfortunately, the rulebook could be several orders of magnitude more clear on a lot of things. I recommend google and youtube if you don't have someone handy who knows how to run your particular entity to get you going.
It definitely has a learning curve, but it's definitely worth it.
There are several other games we've played a little and enjoyed as well. Boss Monster, Smash Up, Clank, Kodama, and Rise of Tribes come to mind. There are probably others. That last one I only got to play a partial game of, but it seemed really neat.
Our daughter has also started getting into games a bit. Her current favorites are Sleeping Queens, Set, and Decadolo. We got her Between Two Cities for Christmas, and I'm looking forward to trying that one - as soon as she cleans her room.
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, Also love to play Roll for the Galaxy again.
I'm sure there's something cool I've left out. I think in the future I'll try to post these one at a time as we pick them up.