Sunday, August 31, 2014

29 August : A little bit of mingling, playing and lotsa cake...

Woot! The last day of welcome week for us and it was a gathering of the entire school of Game Center and where we introduced ourselves briefly and then mingled and even got to play some games! I am pretty sure I am one of the oldest ones in my cohort but luckily someone nicely mentioned that I did not look old and even looked 26! :P Well it pays to be always young at heart AND mingling with younger people lol... 

It was quite interesting seeing how different our backgrounds are. We have english majors who have never coded before and we have people who are very well versed in the various game development engines and have done a lot. It will be pretty exciting to see what our collaborations will produce. I also got to play 2 games which had been produced by our seniors.

First up is Guts of Glory which was kickstarted in 2012 and I believe, self published. Guts of Glory is a 2-4 player game where players are creatures trying to stuff their mouths with items, chew and swallow them for Glory points. First player to reach 7 will win the game. There are 2 types of cards, Condiments which usually do not provide any glory cards but give special actions, and Food items which usually comes with glory points. Both cards will also have a chew factor which indicates how many chew tokens needs to be placed on them before they can be swallowed and their effects/points activated/scored. During your turn, you have to take a card from the 3 face up cards that are on the "plate" and then place it into your mouth which is your player board. Your mouth can hold 3 condiments and 2 food cards. Then you are to take 2 chew tokens and place them onto the cards in your mouth. If any of them are "chewed" then you activate the action or score the points.
very interesting art but the score track weirdly reminds me of the behind..
The artwork is quite interesting as it has a very artsy somewhat whimsical feel to it. I commented that the score track looks somewhat like an exploding anus but it seems I was the first to think that way. Go figure ;p Gameplay wise it was pretty straight forward to play. The interaction between players seems to come in when you activate cards to steal their food OR forcefully feed them cards. IF they cannot keep the card in their mouths, then they will trigger a SPEW effect which will add +1 glory to the card being spewed and they pass it to the next player. If you can create a chain effect, then you can potentially score up to 3 points with 1 SPEW.

I did not finish a full game though because the other players were drawn to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf with the Chair of my school. Still this game is in our Game Center Library so I will definitely get a chance to finish up a game and post my thoughts about it. Perhaps I can even make a review video if I get the chance.

Next up is Nika which was also recently kickstarted and published by Eagle games. It is a 2-4 player abstract style game that plays from 30 minutes to an hour. It is a team play game so players sitting opposite each other will be part of the same team. The objective is to try to get one of your pieces into your team member's camp. To do that, players have to "walk" or move their pieces from their own camps pass an enemy's camp into your team member's camp.

here we go! Very nice art and board...
During your turn, you have up to 2 actions. Essentially you can do 3 things. You can move a piece OR a Phalanx, rotate a piece or a Phalanx and return a routed piece to your camp. Each player will have 6 discs with an arrow on them. The direction the arrow points will be the direction that army unit is facing. This is important because where you are NOT facing, that unit will be vulnerable to being routed by your opponents' pieces. To route a piece, all you need to do is move your piece into an opponent's piece that is not facing you at that time.

so much routed pieces I have!
To move a piece, you just need to move them along the squares that make up the paths on the board. The direction they will end up facing depends on how they moved. You can also not move and just rotate a piece. This is usually done to protect or threaten to engage an opponent's piece. The interesting part of the game lies in moving as a Phalanx.

Sparta is holding off my phalanx!
A Phalanx is formed when your pieces are adjacent to each other AND facing the same direction. Then you can move that entire group as a Phalanx OR rotate it. The reason for forming Phalanxes is that you will be using less actions to move many pieces. In addition, you can force enemy pieces to retreat because you have more pieces in your phalanx.
door is open for my partner to come in and for us to win!
The art is very clean and minimalistic and had good comments from those watching us play. It is a very abstract game in that thematically, the ability to have Phalanxes is the only thing tying this greek historical boardgame together. That being said, there is quite a clever game here. As a 4 player game, we had to somewhat decide on a path and tactically shift our pieces to both threaten our opponents and allow us to shift a piece to win. Halfway through the game, we thought we were in a bad position mainly because I had so many pieces routed and my side of the board was largely empty. My team mate had one of his side being held off by the opponent to his right. In the end, we both focused on our opponent to my right and manage to route his units enough to let one of my team mate's piece slip through. They did try to stop us but the interesting thing about routed pieces is, is that it allows them to start from your base and thus form a sort of protective corridor for your team mate's piece. I must say though that this game will be quite prone to Analysis Paralysis. Its quite a tactical game because while you may have a strategic plan, a lot of things may have happened before it comes back to your turn again. I guess after several plays you can get a game in under 30 minutes but the way we played it certainly did not seem that way. Take note that this is my first play so I cannot really give a good review of it yet but it was tense for a while as I was wracking my brain thinking of what I can do to help our cause. There are many opportunities for us to stall the game though and many chances for stalemates so that maybe a problem. If you have a chance, do give it a go and let me know what you think!

Oh one thing to note, I previously mentioned how One Night Ultimate Werewolf wasn't the game for me and my group. Well the students played several rounds of this and I realised 2 very important points. One, that yes it DOES require the RIGHT group to fully immerse themselves into the game and bring out the beauty of the game. Second, it is an amazing game to spectate. Similar to Esports and Poker, just watching the players play, lie, scheme is entertaining enough and allows the audience to be somewhat involved in the game! Especially when we saw how one player managed to confuse 3 others and cajole them into voting someone else out as he was the werewolf is like watching an exciting action packed movie. Better than a movie though because you cannot tell what the ending is until the voting.

So as some of you know, I just celebrated my 38th birthday last friday! :D I had a nice ramen meal with Wifey before heading to my school for the intro and welcome reception where everyone sang a birthday song for me and another student. When I got home I had a nice cake waiting for me baked by my Wifey.
birthday ramen! :P
At 38, embarking on a new chapter of my life, knowing I will be 40 when I graduate, can be a very daunting and scary prospect. But really, if there's something worth pursuing and something you are passionate about, why wait until you are way too old and too entrenched in your comfort zone before regretting? I am glad for this wonderful opportunity to be one of two Singaporeans to be selected to be in this program and am excited to see what I will create out of my two years here in the Game Center. It will be a lot of hard work, I will need to restart my somewhat rusty engine again to read, study and program but I am pretty sure there will be amazing outcomes from it. 

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

23 August : Lots of building going around...

Yay! I have finally moved to New York City and have mostly recovered from the jet lag. My iMac and Huskie also survived the trip and when a Singaporean friend currently working in NYC wanted to get together, we played some boardgames!

First up is Subdivision, a review copy from Bezier games. [Thanks Bezier games!]. I read through the rules and played a few Solo games to get a grasp of it so I was very excited to give this a go with 3 players. Rules explanation was kinda easy to go through but it definitely pays to run through one or two rounds so that all players get a good grip of it before playing it seriously.

Subdivision - 3 player. Surprisingly better than expected
It feels like a lot of games where you are handed some cards (in this case, tiles) and then choose the best one at that moment in time. In Subdivision's case, you react to the results of the die roll. You can pay $2 to ignore the die roll and place it anywhere. The main difference between this and subdivision is that the tile you place does not get activated. Its the tiles adjacent to the tile you just place that gets activated. The next difference is what you get when the tiles are activated. These benefits is what will determine your strategies and also where to place the tiles. Of course you maybe restricted by the tiles you get (as these are passed around), but ultimately there is enough flexibility that you won't feel too screwed.
After our game, we talked a little about it and we agreed that it was surprisingly more fun than what was expected (after rules explanation). I was quite worried about the randomness (from the die roll and tiles you get) making the whole game seems very ameritrashy but I am happy to report that it doesn't feel that bad. The whole feel does remind you of suburbia but by itself is actually a different game. I will play a few more games with Wifey before doing a video review! Watch out for it!

Next up 2 games of The Builders. Not much to add on this except the 2nd game, my friend managed to amass SO MUCH money that when she ended the game she was at 21 points (4 more from money). Wife and me could not catch up though wife was closer to 17 than I was.
1st game managed to win. 2nd game lost and winner had 21 points
I still think there is more to this game than I have seen so far. Perhaps its time for me to try other strategies to "test the mechanisms" of the game. I know that not having tools can be tougher when playing the game. Also getting the right workers at the beginning can be VERy advantageous. Wife and friend commented they felt like they were running sweat shops especially when all the workers are men. LOL :)

Final game is Russian Railroads! I am so glad I got a chance to teach my wife the game and see if she will like it. One very important point that my wife brought up to me afterwards was that the way I taught the game was too fast and not that friendly. I have to remember that I have to be more descriptive and patient when teaching. Sometimes I tend to forget that they are not part of the usual gaming group that I had back in Singapore so I go through the rules really fast without much context or theme.

Glad I managed to teach this to the wife! 
Wife really liked the game though so much so we played on Yucata afterwards in a 2 player game. Here's hoping for more games of this before the year ends :) One GREAT benefit of playing on Yucata is that it calculates the end of round scoring and even gives you a preview of how many points you will get from your moves. That is very helpful when calculating and for the mathematically challenged and helps you to find the most optimal move each turn. If you want to play against me, invite me "duckizz" to a game!

By now you may have figured out that I am in NEW YORK! Its been a smooth transition over even though we were quite worried about Comet since his flight was delayed and other than the transit at Frankfurt, he was pretty much stuck in the crate for almost 30 hours! But I think he is acclimatising well now and luckily has not peed everywhere in the apartment so his training is still holding strong.

So far I haven't met any other of my classmates (except my fellow Singaporean) so it will be exciting when orientation starts next week! I am SOOOO looking forward to it and I will blog about my experiences (if this sort of thing interests you!)

Our first walk!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Good Games, Good Party, Good Riddance

Hey all! I'm back! Took a long holiday (well, two medium length holidays back to back) and a nice break from all things gaming, except gaming. Haha. Meaning, took a break from blogging and podcasting. :P
We didn't release an episode on Sunday for those who are looking for it. Eric was busy preparing to leave our sunny island, and I was too much in a holiday mood to bother about anything except rest. Haha

Anyway, Eric has left. He's probably on the plane now as I write this. Goodbye Eric! It was nice knowing you. Haha. To celebrate this joyous occasion, a friend of ours opened his place to an all day and night of gaming - and it was awesome! Daebak! We gamed from 1pm to 3am. Started with a proper lunch but was literally eating out of our plates during dinner while playing games. Who has time for food when we have so much gaming to do!

Monday, August 18, 2014

16 Aug: So long so long and thanks for all the fish.....

2 more days to me flying off and this is my 2nd farewell with another group of friends whom I regularly game with. I was late because I had a gathering with my relatives as well and that ran a little too long. Anyway, when I arrived, there was a cake waiting for me! So awesome. After some picture taking we all got down to business again.... that is... playing BOARDGAMES! RAWR :P

Sunday, August 17, 2014

15 Aug : Something new, something old and thinking out of the box...

Saying goodbye is never easy so what better way to do so than playing games with my gaming groups? This particular gaming group, there are 5 of us and we have been gaming for at least 4 years now ever since I met 2 of them at a meetup playing K2 (where 1 of them remembered me not so fondly for always being a nuisance up the mountain) and then again at a cafe playing Cuba. I started to game regularly with them and often we will play till the whee hours of Saturday morning after we start from Friday evening.

This group is my Cult of the New group as most of us regularly buy new games and bring them to share with the others. That is also how I got addicted to always trying out new things and got my fix as well. It is quite astounding the amount of new games I get to play on a regular basis and for that I have to thank this group. Nowadays though, we seldom play until very late because, well, we don't really have that much stamina anymore plus saturday mornings are pretty much burnt out because of our all nighters. This session though, one of them could not make it due to family matters and after a very good piggy dinner, the 4 of us got down to gaming.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Zero One : Actual IT Programming in a game?

Not sure if everyone knows but I am in IT. I started working as a developer some 14 years ago and have moved on to being a Project Manager to Information Security Manager which, incidentally, I will leave this friday to pursue my Masters degree in Game Design! So when I received One Zero One for review, I was intrigued by the theme and was curious also just how much fun will a game based on the theme of Programming be and will it be too niche and audience to enjoy it?

Monday, August 11, 2014

9 August: Building ships and a coal empire!

2nd last weekend before my flight to New York to start a new chapter in my life! Very exciting as details of my class schedules, orientation and all that jazz starts to filter in and I start to plan my calendar for my first term! It is kinda nerve wrecking to get into school again especially at this age (ok I am not THAT old but old enough) and to re-learn programming but chatting with my fellow classmates and reading up on what my classes are is very exciting. I sure hope this experience will be as fun as I have it in my head :P

I have mentioned in my previous post and my latest youtube review that I really liked Kohle and Kolonie. So much so I was contemplating what strategies to try in my next game of K&K. So its little wonder that we manage to table it again when we had 5 players, 2 of which are new to the game. I decided to go with wagon strategy just to see how well it can be. Seeing how we all got creamed in our first game of K&K by a friend that did the wagon strategy, I was hoping to finally get a win here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shall we draw a snowman ?

If you are a regular reader/fan/viewer of our videos and posts, you will know by now that we are very fond of Oink games from Japan. They produce really good micro games of high quality and are great to look at. Its really an awesome load of fun in a very small package. Oink games latest release is actually a re-release of an older game but in an all new smaller package called "Fake Artist goes to New York". Seeing how I AM heading to New York, it seems fitting that I review this game.
What you get in the game. All those colors!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

6 August: Back to back heavy boardgaming goodness!

After playing Kohle & Kolonie (K&K) last weekend I was very excited to give it another go, trying out a different strategy I had in mind. Our friend also wanted to try Wildcatters so we decided to give 2 heavy games a go!

We were late in starting K&K as someone went to the wrong location and was late. Still we quickly started our 4 player game and since we all have played the last weekend. 

All the rounds of our game. I was the GREEN player
I started off with a strategy to build as many settlements as I can and use my miners to grab as many train tokens as I can and hopefully score some easy bonuses AND aim for the Yellow/Red railway bonus at the end. 2 of the players went ahead with the Wagon strategy, seeing how another friend grab so many points each round in the previous game. They both managed to flip the Pithead that granted wagon bonuses in the 1st round. RED player managed to grab early position with her mine and settlements which later on proved to be very good for her. Unlucky me was hampered with a mine disaster in the first round.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3rd August: Much fun pimping and brain melting was done!

Our friend from USA is back with new games so that definitely warrants a gaming session. That and also I don't have many gaming sessions left with my friends in Singapore (only 2 more weekends left!) so definitely wanted to get as much gaming in as I can. It will probably be quite some time before I see them again! *sob*... :P

So many things to build but so little money... sigh
First up is City Council which plays 3-5 from Golden Egg games. I saw this on display at GENCON 2013 and it looked interesting but I was not too sold on it then and they were not running any demos I believe. Anyway, I managed to borrow a copy from a friend to try and we played a 3 player game of this. Essentially players are trying to manage a city together and ensure it does not get overly populated OR criminalized else everyone loses. At the same time, they are trying to gain points by fulfilling the needs of certain interest groups in the city. A player reaching 11 points will trigger the end of game and at the end of that round, whoever has the most points will win the game.

1st August Gaming session: Many races and an Abstract

We started late last friday and because so many of my games are sold, I don't have much heavy games to bring to the table. So this session, we had many light race-style games and 1 medium weight abstract.
First up is Madam Ching:

Hong Kong sure is attractive but may not be lucrative...
Jonathan had blogged about Madam Ching before and since this is relatively new to this gaming group, we brought it out for a go. I feel that Madam Ching is a race-style game because players are racing to grab as many expedition tiles before they run out, to score them OR players are trying to get as many points as they can and trigger end of game before the other players can do so. This time I went with the strategy to get as many action cards as I can because they provide a lot of interesting actions and options so I can disturb the other players and also potentially have good points in my hands. Unfortunately my 2 and 3 point cards got stolen and while I manage to grab 2 skill cards, I was not fast enough to trigger the game end. So far though I have not yet seen anyone get 4 different skill cards to trigger the game end in that manner. Might be an interesting challenge for me the next time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 43: What we are expecting from GENCON 2014!

Jonathan and Eric what they are looking forward to from GENCON 2014 and why you should also look out for these games!

This could possibly be the last podcast before Eric leaves for New York so regular scheduling maybe paused for a while. Eric and Jon will resume recording as soon as possible! Provided Jonathan still wants to....

Podcast feed is here

Games covered: