Sunday, 16 July 2017

Meeple Madness #20 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - Why Am I Bleeding? A Bleeding Asshole.
 Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #8

Next up from this years expo haul is Creature College. A board game of battling monsters for 2-6 players; designed by Orhan Ertughrul, and published by Happy Otter Games.

Creature College is a game that in essence tries to capture elements of the very popular Pokemon franchise; and bring them together as a board game. Specifically the acquisition of battling of fantastical creatures.. Which could have been a nice little game had the designer stopped there.

Instead however you are bidding in auctions, rolling dice, collecting cards, gaining both positive and negative VP, and tracking resources.. In short, it's a real cacophony of mechanics; and even the beautiful illustrations of the creatures on the cards isn't going to save a game from that level of "noise".

At this point, I had thought that I would go through a turn step-by-step in order to illustrate my point; but it does occur to me that making a noise about the noise is just, well, noisy. So instead I found the below YouTube video.

Once you've given it a watch, I'd love to hear your thoughts; so please feel free to comment below.

Meeple Madness #19 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - Trust Me, I'm The Final Solution.
 Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Something Pleasant In the Post!

As you may be aware, I posted up a few days ago about a very generous give away that Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor was running; where he was offering up items normally reserved for Patreon. He was even picking up the tab for the postage!

To say I have been looking forward to these would be an understatement. Work is crap at the moment, so knowing I have something to look forward to has really helped keep me going; so I was overjoyed when I got home from the daily grind this evening to be greeted by a small white envelope on the door mat.

Opening it up eagerly I found two small adventures, one the size of an index card, and the other contained in an A5 sized folded pamphlet; along with another index sized card containing a NPC - all of which I promptly sat down with and began to read through.

I have to say that I am very impressed (not that I doubted I would be), and amazed just how much adventure you can fit into a very small space. Seriously, I'm really digging these micro adventures; and the NPC has a certain quality about him that brings him forth from the page.

Which leaves me only two things to do as a result:

1 - Work out how Patreon works, so I can get more of the same in the future, and..
2 - See if there's some way I can get the whole back catalogue of these adventures; as what I have seen so far really makes me want more. LOTS more!

Meeple Madness #17 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - And All Because The Lady Loves A Mouth So Sensitive It Can Feel The Sperm Wriggling.
 Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #7

This year I made a conscious decision, that with the exception of a few items on my mental shopping list; I was going to do as little research on the latest releases and, what was new.  I wanted to my trip to the UK Games Expo to have an element of wonder about it, and I wanted to be surprised by what I found on the day.

Little did I know that I'd still be consciously trying to keep myself in the dark about some of my purchases over a month down the line!

But why?

Well, the purchases in question are a trio of games designed by Inka and Markus Brand that recently saw an English language release via Kosmos; in the "Exit: The Game" series of titles. Each of which recreates a themed escape room experience, in the comfort of your own home, for a  fraction of the price that you may pay to attend such an event.

There is a catch however.

The catch being that much like the real life experience; these are one-shots. To which you might think, "Fine, I'll donate it to a friend or charity once I'm done with it".. I know I did. That's however where there's another catch. Some of the games opponents apparently get (intentionally) destroyed during the playthrough (something which I only found out today in trying to gather some information together for this post); and honestly I'm not sure how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I know that if I'm unwilling to destroy certain components I won't be able to play the games; which sucks. However, on the other hand; wanton and wilful destruction of games just seems wrong - even if that is how the game is intended to be played.

It's a bit like destroying a book, which is something else I'd never want to do (or indeed have done). No matter what your opinion of the authors work is; there is something sacred about the written word, something important, and something permanent. To destroy it feels wrong, and that's how I feel about the idea of tearing into these games.

So, I'm curious. How would YOU feel about playing a game that you had to destroy parts of to win? Would it make a difference if it wasn't your copy of the game? Please feel free to post your thoughts on a comment below, and I look forward to reading them all.

Meeple Madness #14 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - On My Signal, Unleash Mediocrity.
 Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Meeple Madness #12 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - The True Art Of Seduction Lies In Using Anal Prolapse And Vaginal Flatulence In A Way That Ensures The Internal Moral Debate Of Whether It's OK To Sleep With Your Stepsister.
Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Freebies!

Well, how's this for keeping focused, and on track. Only one post into the month, and I'm already going off on a tangent.

It's a good one though, as I'm sure you'll all agree; relating to a number of freebies that Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor is offering up for.. Well, free!

There's no catch either. Normally this is stuff that Tim offers via Patreon, but as he has a few going spare; he is offering them out to anyone who's interested in them. Which I certainly am! I was lucky to win a copy of The Manor (Tim's zine) a number of years back in a contest hosted over at Tenkar's Tavern; and I was really happy with my prize.

Don't get me wrong, winning something is always nice; but The Manor has a real old-school feel about it that I really love, and the quality of the material inside was excellent. A nice little map, and a random encounter table to seed it, some art, a poem, and probably plenty more that I've forgotten since my last read.

In short, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you're lucky enough to get a freebie; as the quality and creativity that goes into them is top notch.

Enough already! How do I get my freebies!?

All you have to do is drop a comment on this post requesting them, followed by sending Tim an e-mail with your address to the e-mail address included in the same post.

That's all there is to it!

You could of course follow the blog whilst you're there, add it to your feed, or see what else is available via his Patreon; but as Tim says, "There is no obligation". Having followed the blog both here, and at my old digs for a number of years though I'd certainly recommend it; as there has been some really great stuff posted over that time, and it would have been a shame to miss it.

Monday, 3 July 2017

In The Pipeline: July 2017

Dr Nick Riviera - The Simpsons - Matt Groening
Hi Everybody!

There's no way to sugar coat it. Last month was not a good month for blogging. What with a general lack of drive and energy, coupled with some recursive tech issues not a lot got done.

It probably doesn't help that I've been overextending myself either. So, it's time to get real; and time to get blogging.

In terms of real talk, I've taken a look over my output for the past few months and averaging out the numbers, it looks like I can churn out somewhere in the region of 19 (rounding off) posts a month.

So using this as a benchmark for what's possible, and knowing roughly how much time and effort goes into each post; I should be able to plan this month a little better (and actually hit a target for a bloody change!)

Expo '17

Top of my list of blogging priorities for this month is to wrap up my series of posts around the UK Games Expo 2017. It's crazy to think this is still going, and there is still so much more to write nearly a month after the expo itself concluded!

Then again, it has grown somewhat from the three posts I originally envisioned when I set about this task. Something which is probably for the best in hindsight. I would have struggled to edit what I have already written to fit into that limited three post space, and by my count there are still another 10 posts to go!

So, whilst it is taking longer (a lot longer) to write up than I thought it would; breaking this feature down into more manageable chunks still seems like the right thing to have done.

Meeple Madness

As well as the the Expo '17 posts, there will also be plenty more from Meeple Madness in the coming month. Being relatively quick to put together, I see no reason why I can't get 20 of these posted up in July.

Which just about accounts for all the time I have free this month.

In addition to this there will no doubt be miscellaneous posts about this, that, and the other; but nothing related to any of my regular features. At least nothing planned. It would be nice to get a couple of Meeple Arcade posts up, catch up on some 10 x 10 Challenge gaming, and continue with my One Man And His Dice adventure; but I feel it's important to be realistic.

In short, there are a LOT of things that I would like to do; but there simply isn't enough time to do it in. Not immediately anyhow.

The thing about blog posts though is they don't go anywhere (well, unless they get deleted of course). So everything you write can be used as a foundation for a future piece of work. You don't need to try and build Rome in a day (which is probably for the best given my piss poor D.I.Y skills).

So going forward the plan is (rather sensibly) to take things one step (and one post) at a time; and to see how things go.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #6

The next piece of loot from this years haul is Time Management: The Time Management Game; designed by Nathaniel Levan, and published by Greater That Games.

This will be quite a short post, as whilst I knew that I knew very little about a lot of the items that I bought on the day, it turns out I knew even less about this one; mistaking it for a small box card game, when it is in fact a tile game.. I think.

So why did I buy it? Well, as it goes I'm a sucker for a gimmick, a joke, or a pun and  on one small stall at this years expo I found an abundance of them gathered in a cluster. There was Deck Building: The Deck Building Game, Traitor Mechanic: The Traitor Mechanic Game, Trick-Taking: The Trick-Taking Game.. You get the gist.

Scan reading the backs of the boxes however (which also led to me mistakenly taking this for a card game based upon appearances), I found that Time Management: The Time Management Game was the only one amongst the collection that was playable solitaire; and as I am largely a solo gamer this is what sealed the deal for me.

That said, I was still definitely tempted to pick up all of the other titles in what I assume is a series, but decided on balance against it; as there was a good chance that they'd go unplayed, and there is nothing sadder than a game going unplayed..

Okay, there are lots of things sadder than a game going unplayed. Way WAY sadder, but it still seems like an apt point. I mean, why buy a game that you doubt you're ever going to get to play?

Tangent aside, I am quite looking forward to breaking this one out, and seeing what it's all about.

Meeple Madness #10 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - Test Subject 37 Will Be The World's Most Deadly Predator Thanks To Successfully Combining Eating Out A Cum-Filled Whore With When Something Turns You Off So Much That Your Vagina Throws Up.
Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #5

It's been a few days since I last updated you all on "The Haul" I picked up during this years visit to the UK Games Expo, and coming up for a month down the line; I don't think we're even halfway through!

Today's installment is Stak Bots: Red Expansion; designed and illustrated by Tom Norfolk, and published by DogEared Games.

Stak Bots: Red Expansion was probably one of only a couple of things on my mental shopping list that I managed to pick up on the day (as 100 Swords Season 2 wasn't available, and given a straight choice on the day I bought Guards Against Insanity instead of Cards Against Humanity.. Or Guards over Cards as I've come to think of it post expo).

The reason that I wanted to purchase this on the day was because I've been very happy with it's predecessors (Stak Bots & Stak Bots: Yellow Expansion), and having spoken to the guys on the stall are always very friendly. Not Games Workshop, jumping on you to make a sale friendly. Genuinely friendly. The product itself is also pretty nifty.

Rather than being just one set of cards, with one set of rules; the Stak Bots deck can be used to play a handful of games. A couple of them solitaire games, which is just perfect for me; and at the price point (£22 for the base game, and both expansions; I'm certainly not complaining). In fact, the only issue I would take is that as an early adopter (and having picked up each deck as it was released), I've probably paid half of that again.. But £9 a deck still isn't bad.

Each deck adds something new too, so there are plenty of reasons (although no actual requirements) to pick them all up.

All I'm missing now is the Kickstarter promo stuff (which as I'm never planning to use Kickstarter, I'm never likely to qualify for), and the bot given away to tournament champions (of which I believe there are only two out there!)

Meeple Madness #7 (NSFW)

Darker than usual today...

Guards Against Insanity - Arranging Sleeping Children Into Suggestive Positions. Man's Best Friend.
Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

An Update Regarding Updates

Due to recent tech issues (plus some old reoccurring ones), time constraints, and other assorted distractions eating away at my free time this month, I have fallen WAY behind on my blogging. So much so that I sadly now have to say that the plan I made with the best of intentions at the top of the month has now well and truly taken a swan dive out of the window, and landed in a crumpled heap on the tarmac below.

Still, whilst I may not be able to get as much done as I had hoped, I'm trying to keep positive about the situation; and have resolved to do what I can with what is left of the month.

So please consider this an apology in advance if something that I promised, and that you were looking forward to doesn't make the deadline. I am trying, and will continue to try to meet as many of my targets as possible; but I know that even with the best will in the world I won't get everything I had planned done.

Sorry guys.

Meeple Madness #6 (NSFW)

Guards Against Insanity - Crack Hoes That'll Do Pretty Much Anything. 60% Of The Time It Works Every Time.
Why not check out their website, or Facebook feed?

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Legacy Of Tech Troubles

I'm something of an analogue signal in a digital age when it comes to technology. That's not to say that I'm a Luddite; but when it comes to gadgets and advancements, I'm no early adopter.

As such I own and still make use of a lot of legacy (older / obsolete) technology. Included in which is my means of accessing the internet (a dongle that's ten years old if it's a day); and as the title suggests, I'm having some troubles with it.

Well, my ISP is.

The dongle itself is working fine, but due to its age my ISP has been left clutching at straws trying to work out exactly why it no longer automatically diverts to their boosters page when it runs out of data; which has left my having to phone my ISP every time I need to stick a booster on my account.

So given the limited support available, and less than stellar work-around; things are probably going to get pretty quiet here until it's all resolved. Something that I hope won't take too long, but given that the phrase "core network issue" has been used; I wouldn't hold my breath for a fix overnight.

Just because the posts might get a little sparse though, please don't think I've abandoned ship.. Rather that I'm taking an unscheduled detour up a well known creek, without a paddle.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Meeple Madness #0: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here!

Following on from my post at the top of the month; I have just spent the last hour or so photographing the first wave of Guards Against Insanity cards for Meeple Madness; which will go live tomorrow evening. Before it does though, I'd just like to apologize in advance for the less than stellar picture quality (as I only have a camera phone to shoot stuff with); and remind (warn) everyone that this is going to get EXTREMELY dark!

Seriously. There are cards in this game that I saw during my shoot today that made even me suck air through gritted teeth; and I'm REALLY hard to shock.. So I know the Cards Against Humanity fans amongst you are really going to love this feature. If you're of a sensitive disposition though, consider this your final warning..

Meeple Madness is not for the easily offended. Even those of you that are hard to offend might find some of the content a little close to the knuckle. It will at times contain VERY strong language, and statements that are far from politically correct. Please understand though, that whilst this material has great capacity to offend; no actual offense should be taken.

Guards like Cards is a game, and its contents is intended as humor. Malice is not a component included in the box, so no malice should be construed from these posts; as a card drawn at random can no more hold sexist or homophobic views than a counter or a dice can. It's an inanimate object.. It has no opinion.

Seriously though, if you thought that a game might offend you, then you just wouldn't play it. So take that logic a step further; and if you think that these posts may offend you, then simply don't read them.

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #4

Flip City: Wilderness by Chih-Fan Chen is the next item on the list from my Expo '17 haul.

Inspecting the box and reading over the blurb, this game appears to be being billed as both an expansion to the original game (which I also own a copy of) and, also as a stand-alone game. Although, from what I recall of the solitaire variant of the original game (which is the version of the game I play most); it wouldn't be practical to just combine the two sets.

This is because that variant very much relied on having only a small number of cards in the game in order to maintain the level of challenge for the player; which personally I found was significantly reduced just by adding the in-box "Office Expansion" included with the original Flip City game. An expansion that consisted of only one additional pile of cards.

The problem (if problem is the right word) was that the solitaire variant included with the original game had the player remove a card in one of the remaining piles from the game at the end of each of their turns as a form of timer. If at the end of a players turn they could not remove a card from the game (because all of the piles have been depleted), and the player had not yet met one of the victory conditions; then they had lost the game.

It was simple, and it worked; but it's far from flexible, leaving little to no wriggle room for expansion.. Yet here we are!

It'll certainly be interesting to see just how (and if) the designer has addressed this issue; and how these two sets come together. Personally, I suspect it'll be resolved by only playing with a set number of card types, possibly being selected by their respective purchase and upgrade costs. We'll see though.

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #3

Next up from "The Haul" we have a pair of small box card games by designer Lewis Shaw - Downsize and Mined Out. Unlike a number of my purchases on the day, I did play through a brief demo of each of these games; and despite sharing a box size and creator these games both play and feel very different.

Downsize

Published by Braincrack Games, Downsize is a fast playing card game where the goal is to make as much money as possible whilst firing your entire staff. Something that you will be doing every turn, as you fire pairs of workers to generate effects; such as taking a returns card (which are the games equivalent of victory points), or forcing another player to hire a new employee.

On top of this there are specialist workers with one-shot abilities, that can be fired by themselves; and I believe a number of mutator cards that change the flow of the game (although the demo game that I played on the day did not use these).

Another card that was left out of the demo game on the day, that I feel is certainly worth a mention is the "Trump Card". Both satirical and powerful, the Trump Card allows you to fire all of your employees at once; which could effectively end the game there and then.. Because Donald plays by his own rules, and when he says the game is over; it's over!

Now all we need is "Director of the F.B.I" card, and the job's a good 'un!

 Mined Out

Also published by Braincrack Games and designed by Lewis Shaw; Mined out is a very different style of game. For a start, the cards in this game function more as tiles; that randomly form the play area as your miner meeple explores them. Unlike Downsize, there are also a number of other components in the box; that are used to track things such as your action points, the gems you have collected, and the upgrades you have accumulated.

So despite having the outward appearance of a card game; Mined Out would be better and more accurately described as a board game. Quite an involved one too for its size. It's another one of those games that manages to pack a lot of "oomph" into a small box; and whilst I would not go as far as to say that it has that "big box" feel, it certainly delivers at a level somewhere between the two.

If I had to pigeon hole it though, it's more what I would describe as a "backpack game". In that it's compact enough to take with you when you're on the go, has quite a small footprint (so you could break it out almost anywhere), and can be played within the time that you might typically get for a lunch break.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #2

Today's installment from "The Haul" is Modern Horrors; a satirical card game created and illustrated by the very talented Nick Swift.

This won't be a very long post though; as the game itself whilst beautifully illustrated with modern monstrosities, is just a reimplimentation of Top Trumps. A game I'm sure we all know well from our youth, and that needs no explaining. So instead I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss the art on the cards; which is without a doubt it's USP (unique selling point).

In short, the art is pretty damn good! This is no cheap knock-off of Top Trumps; that uses stock photography to cover dry subjects that have little to no appeal. Nope. The art here jumps out, and grabs your attention. It amuses and engages the player.

So even if I had no real interest in playing Top Trumps (which is generally the case); I would still be happy that I bought this deck just for the art. Not only is it enjoyable in it's own right, but it also reminds me of a sticker album that I nearly completed as a child (odd tangent I know); called The Sloppy Slobs.

I was very attached to that album (and I still think it's cool to this day), so seeing these cards took me on a real trip down memory lane; and buying them offered me a means of recapturing that small piece of my childhood.. Not bad for a deck of cards!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Expo '17: The Haul - Part #1

Okay, let's get this show on the road; and start working our way through what is quite the haul of new games that I have I picked up at this years UK Games Expo. Before I do though, just a brief word on what you can expect from "The Haul" posts; and more importantly where I am going with this.

Rather than going into any great detail with the items featured, "The Haul" post are more a way of showcasing what I picked up on the day; as well as capturing my initial impressions. Something which I can then compare my actual experiences to when I look at these items again in more detail further down the line; as many of the items I bought, I bought blind.

So without further ado, let's take a look at the first items(s)..

Item #1: Guards Against Insanity - Asylum Pack

The Asylum Pack of Guards Against Insanity collects together the first four editions (there are five in total, but number five was sold out on the day) of the game that is described on the box as "An Unofficial Naughty Expansion"; referring to the Cards Against Humanity format which it reimplements.

I'd say it's more than that though.

One of the items on my loose shopping list for the day was Cards Against Humanity; but when I was presented with a straight up choice between the two (although I could have bought them both I guess), I chose to purchase Guards over Cards.

There's no doubt that this was in no small part due to the great pair of guys on the stall who I had a good laugh with on the day; but then there was also the matter of the billing of Guards Against Insanity as "darker" than its predecessor.

Cards Against Humanity is all about dark and twisted humor; so to create something "darker" is as I see it a step forward. It's taking what makes the game work, and building upon that foundation in order to create what might be arguably a more satisfying playing experience for the right group of gamers.

If this sounds like a game you might enjoy, or you're just plain old intrigued as to how an already dark game could get any darker; be sure to tune into my forthcoming Meeple Madness posts, where I'll be sharing UNCENSORED random draws (one black card, and however many white cards I need to fill in the blanks).

If however you're easily offended, I'd strongly recommend that you give Meeple Madness a miss; as giving offense isn't my goal here, and some of the humor might be a bit much for the more sensitive amongst you.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Expo '17: Coming Soon To A Blog Near You!

Originally when I thought about how I was going to cover this years expo experience; I envisioned doing it across three posts, covering my purchases on the day (The Haul), the people I met (The People), and an overview of some of the interesting games I played on the day (The Games).

On reflection though, this was a bad plan.

I'd either have to massively edit the events of the day, or type up three MASSIVE posts. Neither of which strikes me as being a good option. With the former, I wouldn't be doing stuff justice; and with the latter I'd end up with posts that were too long to keep people's interest.

So as a solution I have decided to keep the categories (The Haul, The People, and The Games); but break them down into a series of smaller posts. Not only does that mean I can go into as much depth as I like, but also that when I do I won't be bombarding anyone reading it with reams of text. The best of both worlds as I see it, with none of the drawbacks.

As an added bonus to myself, this flexible model of keeping posts short(ish) means I can blog throughout the week; with the limited time I have free in the evenings, without resorting to burning the midnight oil.

That's the plan anyway. Short(ish), more frequent posts; that should make for easy reading.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, 4 June 2017

In The Pipeline: June 2017

Dr Nick Riviera - The Simpsons - Matt Groening
Hi Everybody!
Hi Everybody!

It's been a bit of a delayed start to the months blogging what with one thing and another. There was the "wonderful" 48 hour long headache that felt like my frontal lobe was having a hot knitting needle driven through it via my left eye-socket (so whoever has the voodoo doll, could you please remember to take the pins out when you're done), a day long boiler replacement, and of course my annual trip to the UK Games Expo yesterday.

But I'm back to blogging now, and boy do I have a fair bit planned for the month ahead; including a new regular feature - Meeple Madness!

So what's in store for June?

10 x 10 Challenge

Top of the billing (but only because I insist on doing these posts alphanumerically) is my 10 x 10 Challenge; which I hope I really hope that I can keep the momentum going with following my recent gaming flurry (I managed to get another three games of Dark Dealings in on the Bank Holiday).

Following on from my prior post  I have done a recalculation of just how many games I need to play and, with what frequency in order to keep myself on target for completing the challenge.. and it's still three a week. Well, technically it's 2.5(ish); but it seems more sensible to just round up and finish a little early.

Something that I do need to be mindful of however is the backlog of play reports that is beginning to build up (currently five); so the aim is to bring this down to zero by months end (all being well).

Meeple Arcade

Speaking of things that I have fallen behind with. At the beginning of May, I had planned to post up three new games to Meeple Arcade; but managed only one. It wasn't for the lack of material either; just a lack of time. So given that the only issue was time; I'll be more realistic with this months plans (especially given my late start to the months blogging), and set myself a target of only posting up two new games.

Meeple Madness

One of the great things about the UK Games Expo, is the chance it gives you to meet new people; and discover new things. Games you never knew existed, and new twists on the games you already know and love. So when I discovered that there was a darker (if such a thing was even possible) version of Cards Against Humanity on sale yesterday, I was intrigued (and being the sick puppy that I am, naturally I bought it).

Now I know that Cards Against Humanity is a game that has quite the polarising effect when it comes to gamers. People either love it, or they hate it; and I can see arguments for both sides, although I am firmly in the "love it" camp. With good reason too.

A few years back I had a truly crappy job that made me miserable day in, day out; not to mention a boss who was riding my ass like Seabiscuit. Then one weekend the gaming group I was a part of at that time broke out Cards Against Humanity, and it really lifted my spirits. The open forum of abuse that was all in good humor really helped let go of all of my negativity in a positive way; and I laughed so hard my head was still hurting days later!

So, without a doubt, I'm firmly in the "love it" camp; but that doesn't mean I don't respect people might be offended by the content of Cards Against Humanity, and equally so it's darker cousin that I purchased yesterday, Guards Against Insanity.

I care about my readers, so I would ask that if you feel you are likely to be offended by the material contained in Guards Against Insanity; PLEASE avoid the Meeple Madness posts. Each these posts will feature a randomly drawn black card, and a randomly drawn white card; which I WILL NOT be censoring in any way, shape or, form.. You have been warned!

Warnings aside, these posts should be very quick and easy to produce; so once I get going you can probably expect one every day.

SCRAWL

The material that I am working on for SCRAWL (classes, races, spells, and items currently) is still very much at the drawing board stage; but I have made some really good progress with it in the past month. Just not to the point where I can release it unfortunately.

The revised version of my alternate classes should almost certainly see the light of day this month though, as all that remains to tweak is the starting equipment; and the development of new items (which will cover this) is the aspect of SCRAWL that I'm currently working on. 

Tunnels & Trolls

There's really no way of sugar-coating it; I've done bugger all work on the solo I'm planning to write over the last month, and quite honestly the whole thing has stalled. So rather than swim against the tide, I'm sadly going to shelve this project for the time being to focus on other content.

UK Games Expo

I'm planning to write a short series of articles (three in total) this month covering my personal highlights of the expo experience; and additionally a couple of posts on top of that looking more in depth at some of those highlights.

At this point I'm not too sure just how many posts this will end up running to, but I can say with absolute certainty that there will be no less than three; with the aim being to get those initial three posts up within the coming week.

Monday, 29 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #27: Dark Dealings - Games #1 & #2

Going back to my list of games that I had selected for the 10 x 10 Challenge; I decided that next up would be Dark Dealings by Nevermore Games. A game that I had been really looking forward to playing for a few months now..

So much so that I didn't pay much attention to the notes that I should have been making for my write ups during the first couple of games. I also wasn't really too sure about what information I needed to be capturing either, having not played the game before; so what information I did take down was lacking in relevant detail.

In short, I really screwed the pooch on this one.

Luckily however I noticed where I had gone wrong by the end of game two, so I made sure to capture everything I needed in game three; and that working out of what's required (even if a little late) does stand me in good stead going forwards.

As a (very) brief summary of my first two games though, I would say the following:

Game #1

Being the first game I didn't get very far at all in the final (combat) phase; having not drafted particularly well in the second (defense) phase. I had completely neglected to draft any cards which could deal with one of the thieves that I had drafted in the first (hero) phase; which meant game over (as soon as you encounter a hero that you cannot defeat, you lose the game).

Game #2

Having developed a good idea of how to play the game, and having started to form some tactics; I did a LOT better in the second game. This time around I made it as far as the seventh hero before I had to concede (as I had used all of my defenses on the previous six heroes).

In Summary

There we have it, two VERY brief write ups from some VERY sketchy notes made on the fly. Not that I plan to let this set the tone; intending as I do to return to blogging as usual with the next post, having captured a lot more of my last game as it was played through my note taking.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #26: Of Mice And Men

After what was a slow start to my 10 x 10 Challenge, it seems that I have finally begun to generate a head of steam; playing through four games so far this week (although I am yet to write three of them up), and having every intention of taking full advantage of the bank holiday to play a few more whilst I have the momentum.

It's also quite important that I do as much as I can towards the challenge this bank holiday, as it's almost a given that I'll do very little in the way of gaming next weekend.. Well, not towards the challenge at any rate; as I'll be at the UK Games Expo.

That's not to say however that if the opportunity to play any one of the games on my list with fellow gamers should arise; I'd pass up the chance (a subsequent write up could prove a little tricky though, as sitting there with a notepad as I do when I game at home, might seem more than a little rude).

So with my impending absence in mind, I think it's time to revise my previous plan a little.. Not just yet though.

As I plan to be gaming again tomorrow; I'll leave it until after the bank holiday to sit down and make my calculations. Not that I imagine that there will be a massive shift in the plan for the sake of one week up, one week down; but it doesn't hurt to check.

10 x 10 Challenge #25: Eight Epics - Game #10

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I first broke out Eight Epics for the first time as part of my 10 x 10 Challenge; and here we are already. The tenth, and final game.

Before we get to it though, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the some of the highlights so far. There was the outrage at Makano, the first win, and the first loss of an avatar in the first round (that didn't end the game there and then). All of them quite memorable moments.

So one last time (as a part of the challenge at least), it is time to shuffle the threat deck, setup the avatars (I'll be going with my standard game four order for the avatars again), and draw my first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Defeating Narssis took a lot out of the avatars, as I ran through seven out of eight of them trying to clear the challenges. That said, the losses were minimal given the effort exerted; with only 8 Life Points being lost amongst the group as whole; leaving me in a very strong position to deal with whatever threat I may be next. 

Round 2 - Threat: Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

I'm always happy to see Pirn, because as threats go; he doesn't tend to cause me too much in the way of problems.. Then again, I used to say similar things about Uluwash, and look what happened there. Pirn came good though, and went down without too much of a fight; but to the cost of losing one avatar (Sylliph) in the fray.

Round 3 - Threat: Hronthar, Winged Flame.

Hronthar is the polar opposite of Pirn, in that he rarely comes quietly; and this game was no exception. Whilst the avatars where able to clear the first two of his challenges without taking much more than a scratch; challenge three introduced them to a whole world of hurt.

By the end of round three the avatars had lost a total of 23 Life Points as a group; with five of the remaining seven avatars being reduced to half of their starting Life Points, or less.

Round 4 - Threats: Makano, Drill Strider / Serrin, Shadow Reaper.

What a final draw for the final game!

It was hard to know where to start. Normally I would target the threat that I thought was going to be the most difficult to beat first in the final round, but if past experience has taught me anything; it's that these are both difficult customers, more than capable of wiping the floor with me individually - let alone as a team!

Seeing nothing in it, I decided to go for Serrin first. Sure, Makano may be broken in my opinion; but I have found that the best way of dealing with Serrin is with re-rolls (as opposed to abilities); and I'll get more of those to work with if I tackle him first.

Serrin was still hard work though, and I had to cycle through several of my avatars more than once (using Leafwind's ability) in order to secure enough re-rolls to secure victory against him. So by the time I came to face off against Makano; only four avatars remained, all of them on 1 Life Point.

When it came to Makano, the avatars did put up a good fight (clearing half of his challenges), but sadly all they had left to throw at him was not enough; and the game was ultimately lost.

Final Thoughts   

Eight Epics has been an interesting game to play; but I'm not sure that it will be one that I will return to too frequently in the future. Not because it's bad, but more because it simply doesn't have a whole lot going on that would keep me coming back to it.

As you've seen from the various playthroughs here, the same avatars keep coming up again and again; which can get a little repetitive. Something which leads me to fully understand why the AEG release of this game came with a couple of in-box variants. It needs them!

That's not to say it's a bad game though. With its quick setup and play times it's a perfect filler game, or a nice way to round off a long days gaming.. It just doesn't pack the "big game in a little box" punch that say Harbor does.

So in summary, Eight Epics probably wouldn't be my first choice to bring to the gaming table; but if I were only looking to kill 20-30, it certainly wouldn't be my last.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Creepy As All Balls

Glass Clown - Creepy As All Balls
There's very little left in this world that frightens me anymore. I used to have quite the phobia of spiders, but I got past it; to the point where I am now actually happy to see them.

Clowns though.. That's another matter entirely. I still find clowns to be as creepy as all balls. Something that I believe started with my sister's collection of porcelain ones that I grew up with. Horrible, horrible things.. Not that they've got anything on this hideous glass monstrosity that I bought today..

Yeah. BOUGHT! Odd behavior given my feelings towards clowns in general; and even more bizarre when you consider just how f****d up this particular clown looks. Seriously! Look at that sinister grin, and the eye that has drifted away from the face as if Picasso blew this beast.

 So why did I buy it, when just looking at it unsettles me and gives me an uneasy feeling in the very pit of my stomach?

Honestly I don't know. I can only reason that there is some part of me that wants me to best my fears and overcome my phobias. Presumably the same part of me that compelled me to buy this.. Either that, or there could be evil clown mind control techniques at work.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Meeple Merson's Day Off

It's not very often that I get a day off in the middle of the week.. But then again, it's not every day that your boiler decides that hot water is an optional extra that you can do without.

The boiler has been a touch on the temperamental side for years now, but just lately it has really excelled itself; and this week there hasn't been a single day where it's done what it's supposed to do, and produced a tank of hot water.

Not a major problem in the current heatwave, but recalling some of the "fun" (and icy baths) I had last winter during a cold snap; it's probably better to sort this sooner rather than later. So I booked myself some emergency leave, and here I am. Sat in the house on what is a lovely sunny day, waiting for an engineer to turn up. Not an ideal way to spend a days holiday by any stretch of the imagination.

This is however where my (infuriating in the opinion of some people) optimism kicks in.

Whilst I'd sooner be out and about, that's not an option; so what can I do? Well, I have plenty of projects on the go, so I could spend some time on those. I have the internet, so I could learn something new. I have more than five bookshelves full of board games, three of DVD's, and two of video games; so I'm really not short of stuff to do.

Most importantly I have a day off I wasn't expecting, and when the universe gives you something like that; you should make the best of it!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #24: Eight Epics - Game #9

It looks like I've fallen behind again. Not with my gaming thankfully (Eight Epics - Game#9 was played on Sunday), but certainly on my blogging (as Eight Epics - Game #9 was played on SUNDAY!). I would like to be able say it's not my fault. That there were unforeseen circumstances.. And I might be able to do just that if I hadn't seen this eventuality coming a mile off.

This update has been a little slow in coming due to the fatigue that has been creeping up on me for weeks; and it was only a matter of time before something had to give. Thankfully though, I am happy to report that after a few days of taking things at a slower pace (or as close as my life comes to it); I am beginning to feel my energy levels pick up, and with a few early nights I should be as right as rain in no time.

So where are we at?

Not quite where I wanted to be by this point to be honest.

I had hoped to be a little further along in terms of the difficulty toggles at this juncture, but as the game is still proving a good challenge; I have kept to my original decision of only incrementing the difficulty with every game won. It was tempting to turn it all the way up for the last couple of games just to see how it would play out; but I'm so close to bringing home a win at this difficulty, I decided to stick with it.

So as with my previous game, I arranged the avatars as I had in game four, created a threat deck, and drew my first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Serrin, Shadow Reaper.

I was a little worried when I saw this as the first draw (I thought I was going to have another game five on my hands), but things went surprisingly well.. To a degree. I did push Caroosh a lot harder than I should have (pushing too hard being the running theme in this post, and did lead to him being eliminated); but with a few subsequent lucky rolls and some well timed uses of Sylliph's ability the threat was overcome a lot easier than I had expected.

At the end of the round the avatars as a whole had lost 10 Life Points (6 of which were Caroosh's), with only one other avatar taking any significant damage (being reduced to less than half of their starting Life Points).

Round 2 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Uluwash managed to maintain his streak as one tricky customer in this game; requiring a lot of the avatars abilities to clear his challenges. Not that his slippery nature had quite the impact on the avatars that it had done previously, with the party easily pulling through with a respectable loss of only 18 Life Points amongst them.

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

Next up was Broxix, and whilst I thought I used a fair few of the avatars abilities on Uluwash; Broxix took the biscuit (and the factory they were made in to boot). Beating Broxix came down to the wire (and the last active avatar), and the group as a whole had started to show some wear; with the total Life Points lost increasing to 25, and two of the avatars only holding on by one single point.

Round 4 - Threats: Makano, Drill Strider / Pirn Ramapging Overgrowth.

It wouldn't be a game of Eight Epics without Makano making an appearance; and in this instance things started off well enough (although I did lose another avatar clearing the first challenge). The first three of Makano's challenges were passed quite easily (with the exception of the loss), and without too much in the way of resistance. Challenge four however was an absolute nightmare!

By the time I had locked in the final dice I had lost another two avatars, with the other four being reduced to only 1 Life Point each.

Despite the odds being heavily stacked against them, the avatars did manage to clear two of Pirn's three challenges in the final round; which whilst not enough to win the game, was never the less quite impressive.

Final Thoughts

Another very close game, and the first time I have ever lost an avatar in the first round and still managed to make it to the second. Beyond that, I am not sure that there is much more that could be added in the way of additional commentary and reflection; so given my goal of reducing waffle, onward to game ten!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #23: Eight Epics - Game #8

Time for another game of Eight Epics, and as with my last game I will be keeping the order of the avatars and the difficulty toggles set as they were in the fourth game.

So with no new decisions to make, I prepared the avatars, created the threat deck; and drew my first card...

Round 1 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

To say that me and this threat have history would be an understatement. To this date, Makano has been a massive thorn in my side every time that I have drawn him.. And I seem to draw him a lot (he's been drawn in six out of seven games I've played so far by my count)! This time however, things went very differently.

Whilst I did take a good few licks on the first challenge; I passed the subsequent three with great ease, meaning the avatars as a whole only lost 12 Life Points. Less than they lost to Narssis in the opening round of the last game; who in my opinion is comparatively a less difficult threat to overcome.

Round 2 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.


Riding high on the success of round one, I was happy to see Uluwash drawn next. True, he had given me a hard time in the last game; but I would say that was the exception as opposed to the the rule. Little did I know at that point, that I was in store for more of the same.

High roll after high roll put a serious dent in the avatars; eliminating one (Jarroth), and leaving five others on half of their starting Life Point totals, or less.

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilant Breath.

Last round I needed all low rolls. This round I needed all high rolls, so it was quite ironic and amusing to see all the low rolls come out as I tried to beat Broxix; just as all the high rolls had come out during my battle against Uluwash.

Putting my love of irony aside however, this meant the condition of the avatars went from bad at the end of the last round, to significantly worse by the end of this one; leaving only two of them standing (Leafwind and Ophinia), both with only 1 Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Narssis, Unholy One / Hronthar, Winged Flame.

The last round was pretty short and sweet as the remaining two avatars decided to try their luck with Narssis. However, being as badly depleted as they were they were unable to check off even a single challenge; ending the round and the game.

Final Thoughts

The dice were definitely against me this time, but I still made it to the final round (if only briefly); which I'm going to take as a good sign.

To me it means that I am getting closer to beating this difficulty setting; and I'm doing so more through strategy and critical thinking than I am through blind luck. Quite impressive (even if I do say so myself) when you consider that this is largely a luck driven game.

10 x 10 Challenge #22: Eight Epics - Game #7

Continuing on with my 10 x 10 Challenge, and the related blogging; I set up another game of Eight Epics, using the same toggles and starting line up as I did previously. I may not won a game playing the avatars in this order as of yet, but I am convinced that this is probably one of the best orders to place them in.

So I lined them up, set their Life Points, prepared the threat deck, and drew the first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Based on past experience Narssis can be a tough cookie to crack, but there are far worse threats I could have drawn for the first round (Serrin, Shadow Reaper and Makano, Drill Strider spring to mind). That said, Narssis is far from a walk in the park; and I found myself burning through a lot of resources on the last challenge trying to roll a four, after rolling everything else required with the initial roll.

At the end of the round, the avatars had lost a total of 15 Life Points, with 5 of them being reduced to half of their starting Life Points or less.

Round 2 - Threat: Hronthar, Winged Flame.

I haven't seen Hronthar since my first game of Eight Epics; but by my recollection he was at the tougher end of the scale when it comes to threats, requiring consistently high rolls to defeat. Something that the dice were quite happy to give me in this instance.

The avatars did lose a handful of Life Points this round, but it could have been a lot worse; and the party still had more than enough strength left to drive home a win at this midway point.

Round 3 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

If the previous games of Eight Epics have taught me only one thing, it's that when Makano is drawn you're going to either lose the game, or take serious loses. This time was no exception.

By the end of the round, a total of 31 Life Points had been lost amongst the avatars, with seven of the avatars being reduced to less than half their starting Life Points, and of those seven; six only had one Life Point remaining.

Round 4 - Threats: Uluwash, Devouring Tide / Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

Entering the final round I knew that the chances of winning were slim to none after the pummeling the avatars had taken; but I did see a glimmer of hope when I saw who the final threats were. Uluwash and Pirn are two threats that I consider to be on the easier end of the scale. So despite the pasting that the avatars had taken at the hands of Makano I still felt that there was a chance I might snatch victory from the claws of defeat.

Seeing no real difference between the two, I opted to take on Uluwash first.. And it did not go well. I needed low rolls, but continually rolled high; losing three avatars before overcoming the threat. So in the final showdown I found myself facing Pirn with only three avatars (the other two were exhausted), who were all on half life or less.

At first it did look as if I might just pull this off, taking down the first challenge without too much difficulty; but as the dice scaled, my chances of winning dwindled dramatically. This left me facing the final challenge with only one avatar; which just wasn't enough, and the game was lost a couple of rolls later.

Final Thoughts

Another close game, and another game were Makano proved just too much to deal with. Makano aside however, it does feel good to be consistently making it through to the final round (and in this case the final threat) on this level of difficulty.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Meeple Arcade #4: Tapularity

Tapularity - Screenshot
In my last Meeple Arcade post, I talked about how I felt that escape games were just lazy point and click games, generally made by even lazier developers.

Not to out do myself, but today's offering is even lazier! Belong as it does to the genre of lazy games (otherwise known as clicker or incremental games).

For those of you not familiar with the genre, lazy games require little to no input on the part of the player; typically requiring only one button to play.

In this style of game, the player will find that they have to click on a button or an object (in the case of Tapularity, anywhere on the main screen) a few times when they begin the game, but that these clicks can then be converted into some kind of auto-clicker that will then do the job for them.. And that's all there really is to a lazy game!

Even with such a simple recipe though, there are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of poor quality clicker games out there; and whilst I knew that I wanted to cover the genre after my last post, I was determined to find a good example to share with you all.. And boy did that take time!

I found games that were good, but only loaded half of the time (now that's lazy!). Games that with poor interfaces (lazy). Games that were overly complicated (hey! I'm trying to be lazy here).. And then I found Tapularity.

A game that does the genre just right. It's simple, the interface is good; and you can get going with just a few clicks. Exactly what you want from a lazy game. There's also something wonderfully ironic about posting a game on social media in the lazy genre, to social media after a delay of a month and a half!

Want to try Tapularity for yourself?

Links

Play Tapularity at Crazy Games
Play Tapularity at Kongregate
Play Tapularity at Silvergames