Tag Archives: rules

Game Night, And Thoughts On Rule Books

We had a game night tonight at our house, and it was probably the biggest turnout we’ve had for such an event. It was nice hanging out with people we’d not really gotten to hang out with for a while.

After the food was all fooded, tables were cleared, and people started getting out games

I saw one of my Kickstarted games was being investigated, so after investigating how many were playing, how many players the game could take, and whether or not someone who had expressed interest int hat game would like to go and play it this time, I joined in. It was Survival!, one I’d actually played before, but I did need to refresh my memory.

There has been major societal breakdown following a pandemic. You need to escape Center City (conveniently in the center of the board), go and scout out some settlements in the surrounding area (1-3, depending on how long you want the game to go on for), return to Center City to retrieve your family, and then head to the settlement that’s your final destination. But the settlement won’t just accept a bunch of hungry people who’ll just drain resources, you have to prove of some value to them. So you have to collect some resources on your way: a certain amount of food, fuel, firepower, survivors (folk?), and medical supplies (I can’t easily turn that into an “f” word).

Accumulating these things is not always easy, and getting from one place to another isn’t easy. There are several places where raiders will attack you, and many things depend on successful dice rolls. Your odds of success can be increased by bonuses you pick up on the way, or by expending some of your hard-earned resources to slightly improve the results of your roll. you’re never really out of the game, but you can experience setbacks. And sometimes the luck of the cards and the luck of the dice, just aren’t going your way.

Four of us played, I think we all got the hang of it pretty fast (for me, again, and I did remember a big mistake we made when we played it before). All four of us had the end in sight, when the game was won by one of our guests.

After that game was over and put away, I watched most of a game of the Batman edition of Love Letter. The Joker is the princess.

After that was over, the last of our guests went. Three of us stayed up to try my newest addition, Bomb Squad.

Learning a new game is easiest when you have someone around who’s played it already, or if it’s similar enough to a game you’ve already played, that you can kind of skip ahead. When it’s brand new to all of you, you read through a bunch of the manual, decide to start playing, and then just keep referring back to the rulebook.

That is what we ended up doing with Bomb Squad. We very quickly decided that we would skip using the timer this time through. This was a good move, then we could keep finding out, “how does this bit work?” for all the little bits of game we needed to learn. So while we took more like 45 minutes on the game, where the longest bomb timer on the training mission was 16 minutes, we could take the time to figure out what exactly we were supposed to do, what the rules were in context (because in abstract is harder to keep straight), and make it easier on ourselves the next time.

The slower pace and the constant looking-things-up meant it was extra tricky to keep straight what cards we had in our hands. The thing is with this game, you can’t see what’s in your hand, you have to get clues from other players. This takes some getting used to, it’s all too easy to take a card and look at it. If this happens, you must discard that card. A couple of cards were discarded this way. I hope it’s easier to keep a grasp of what’s in your hand straight, when the turns are coming thick and fast.

I’m glad we got to give this game a go (improperly was entirely acceptable for trying to get the rules straight). Also glad we did it when the kids were in bed, you rather need to concentrate. Hope we get to play it again while we still have a memory of what we’re supposed to be doing.

I quite like complicated games, and the drawback to complicated games is, while they tend to end up being pretty straightforward once you know what you’re doing, is that the learning curve is pretty steep. I kind of want to go through some of these rulebooks and create an “if none of you knows what you’re doing” version.

“Factors X, Y, and Z determine your final score. To get those, you need to do things A, B, and C.
To set up, put these pieces there like this.
Before the turns start, you do things 1 and 2. Thing 1 requires no strategy, with Thing 2 you should think about things 4, 5, and 6, but don’t worry about that too much, you’ll have a better grasp of why once you’ve played it through once.
Once your turn starts, you can do one of Alpha, Beta or Gamma. Your first couple of turns, it’s not worth doing much other than Gamma, unless you’re really lucky and start with the resources to do Alpha.”

and so on. If you know you don’t need to worry about Event cards until later in the game, you shouldn’t be worrying about them during setup.

A basic “what you need to know for each stage” with references to the full rulebook if you need more detail, might make some of these games less daunting. Or perhaps the research process would make it easier to explain.

I don’t think I have time for a project like this, but I do like the sound of the end result.

Game Stuff And KickStarter

We picked up a secondhand Blokus a while ago, turned out there were 3 yellow pieces missing.  A householder picked up another secondhand Blokus, only missing one piece (a blue one). Turns out the game was released in two different sizes… the blue piece from the first set is adequate in the second, not perfect. We played twice (me, Oldest, and my parents-in-law – I won twice, both times close. Oldest was sad at losing the first game, and not really much happier about coming second in the second game.

We’re aiming to have a game night soon, and I a game I Kickstarted showed up in the mail, a few days ago. I still have some Kickstarted games I’ve not tried yet.

I got into KickStarter because of a game I already play. I’ve mentioned the old Star Trek CCG that I’ve been into since 1995 at the latest (it started 1994). After a while, the game got rather complicated, and the company started with a Second Edition (with backwards-compatible cards that further complicated First Edition). One of the former 2e designers, Michael Keller, posted on the boards that he was trying to publish a board game he’d designed.

The game was City Hall. It failed when Keller tried to self-publish it through KickStarter. I actually missed it that first time round. The second time round, a game publishing company tried to Kickstart it, and I umped in on that, but it didn’t meet its funding goal either, but the publisher assumed some of the responsibility for that, and they promised to try one more time.

That one more time, City Hall was paired with another Keller game, Captains of Industry.

City Hall has a political theme, which has made it a bit difficult to get people interested in. What I liked about it (conceptually, I’m still trying to get someone to play it with me), is managing a bunch of different kinds of resources (money, influence, popularity and so on), and carefully using them: spending some of one to get some of another, strategically building to benefit yourself but to try not to benefit your opponents too much, and being in competition for particular roles, and trying hard to get one, or look like you’re trying hard to get one but really trying to get someone else to take it instead.

Captains Of Industry also has resource management and building, and looks a few shades more complicated. The theme is industrial rather than political. The difficulty with getting people to play this one, is that there is rather a lot that you need to take in all at once. I think once you’ve been through it a time or two, it’ll be as straightforward as something like Power Grid, it’s just a bit daunting.

The ones that just arrived are Bomb Squad and Bomb Squad Academy. Bomb Squad, you have a limited time to program a robot to go into a building, defuse bombs and rescue hostages (and sometimes unlock doors along the way). You can’t see the cards you have to program the robot with, and have to rely on hints from other players. Reports are that the game is very immersive and intense.

Bomb Squad Academy got thrown in on the same Kickstarter, a similarly-themed game, but with different gameplay. More a card game, you are trying to defuse bombs, but you can hinder other players, and cutting the wrong wire will bring you closer to a big bang.

We opened all these games this evening, and looked through the pieces and enough of the rules to get a feel of what the games were about. There were (positive) comments about the quality of the components.

We also opened one other game I Kickstarted, but this time one I’ve actually played (once). Doom And Bloom Survival! was developed by a husband-and-wife team Doc Bones and Nurse Amy, of the Doom And Bloom podcast (they guested on The Survival Podcast a few times, and Jack promoted their Kickstarter attempt for this game over there, which is how I heard about it).

In the center of the board is a city, and you have to escape, scout some settlements around, pick up a certain amount of food, weapons, fuel, medical supplies and survivors, and return to the city to pick up your family and take them to your final destination settlement. But you can be attacked by bandits or encounter random events, that can set you back. If I recall correctly, the latter could also help you. And you may need to expend food, fuel or weapons for various reasons, and some of it is balancing between getting all that you need, and getting ahead in the game.

My mother-in-law, who was looking through the games with me, thought she might like to try this one. Better brush up on the rules (for all of them really, just in case).

Than there’s always other options. Dominion is a good one…