Sunday, November 30, 2008


I know I'm past due for an update - I got a bit caught up in the latest iteration of my quick reference file.

I'm making a list of rooms and what terrain is in those rooms. It's taking more time than I had expected - it's not easy to count wall tiles in some of those rooms!

It's also forcing me to create some new terminology - "Overlay Terrain," for example. See, Mist appears over both floor spaces and rift spaces. in order to be 100% accurate and useful, I'd need to have separate columns for both Mist (Floor) and Mist (Rift). That's more work than I'm willing to do. So I just mentally tagged Mist as "Overlay Terrain" and counted the floor spaces under mist as floor spaces and then counted the mist separately. It's easier, less mind-numbing, and will be about as useful when I'm done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Death Wears White

Death Wears White
Originally uploaded by GameThyme
I've done a few of the How to Host A Murder parties in the past, and was (to be honest) disappointed with them. So I didn't expect to like Death Wears White. In fact, I crinched when I heard that Asmodee was releasing a Murdery Mystery Party Game.

Then the box arrived, and it was packed.

The thing in the box that piqued my interest the most was a page of postage-stamp sized markers labled "Action Point."


Action Points? In a Murder Mystery Party Game? How does that work?

Well, it turns out that this is nothing like the How To Host A Murder games. Shall we start at the top?

One: The murderer knows that they are the murderer, as opposed to learning it at the end of the last round, after a number of rounds in which every single other player is made a Red Herring through use of clever wording.

Two: No rounds. Each player receives a character packet containing their character information - ideally, the organizer will hand it out a few weeks in advance, because each character also has some things they have to bring with (one character, for example, is supposed to bring a gun).

Three: Along with the "No Rounds" thing, it's worth noting: All of the evidence and clues contained in the box are in play from the beginning - just spend the AP. It's also worth noting that "I search the body" is 1 AP. But you can also search specific parts of the body, if you think there might be a clue or a hint there. The organizer has this information available, and may also have physical clues to give you (order forms, packing lists, letters, medical files ... ). All you have to do is ask the right questions.

Four: Action Points. While each character has information they are required to disclose (if asked), you won't always know what to ask. Action Points are a representation of effort expended to sneak off or just to search an area (or a person). Players choose where to spend their resources - and they can work together and pool their resources.

Five: The names are not puns. I know that this is a non-critical thing - and at least one of the names is still a joke, but it's a lot more subtle than a pun. The pun names really annoyed me in the "How To Host ... " series.

Now, it's not perfect. One character's pamphlet, for example, lists the wrong twin brother as having a tattoo. Players should show up in costume - and others have props that they need. One character, for example, needs a gun. Another should look 9 months pregnant.

I also made a few mistakes in play - there were clues I should have followed-up on, a few things that were right in front of me that I didn't check on. I also treated the two gunmen as NPC's, not realizing that they were also characters.

But I had a good time, and I'd do it again. I'm told there is another Murdery Mystery Party game in the works from Asmodee - I look forward to seeing how full of stuff it winds up being.

(Oh: One mini-gripe about the GeekMod process on Boardgamegeek. In general, it works very well. When trying to upload photos for this one, however, I was repeatedly declined with the comment "Image is irrelevant to subject matter," and another comment of, "If these are people playing the game, where is the game?" If you're GeekModding, please look at the game if there is a question of relevance.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dungeon Twister Characters: Multiple Uses Part V, Fire & Water

I'm going to preface this with the same warning I used last few times: What I'm about to say is my analysis. There are players who are better than I who will disagree with every word I type. There are also players who can regularly trounce me who will agree with every word I type. Your mileage may vary.

This is my fifth entry on Set-By-Set Dungeon Twister Character Strategy, and will cover Fire and Water.

Base Set Average Movement: 3.62
Base Set Average Strength: 2.00

Fire and Water Average Movement: 4.25
Fire and Water Average Strength: 1.62

As you can see, F&W has a signifiantly higher average speed than the base set, and the average strength is down dramatically. This is the fastest set in the game, being 13% higher than average. It's also the weakest in combat, at only about 68% as strong as the overall average. These numbers, by the way, do not include terrain bonuses to Strength (the two Elementals in this set have such bonuses).

Were it not for the speed, I would argue that this set was almost all Specialists. As it is, I see seven Runners (most of whom can also serve as Specialists, one can double as a Hitter) and one Specialist. There are some very powerful characters in the set, even if you don't dig too deeply.

The new items in the set are game-changing, especially the Ring of Repulsion. You'll see what I mean after a play or two.

Magophage: Were it not for the speed of the character, I'd mark the Magophage as one of the more unusual Specialists in the game. His ability has necessitated a list of what is magic and what is not in the game, and is fundamentally game-changing. With clever placement, you can use him as a shield for friendly characters. Explanation of this actually requires an image:
Magophage as Shield
The Acrobat doesn't have to worry about the Scroll of Confusion, as he is in the Magophage's null-magic area. It's also worth noting that the Magophage's placement denies healing to the Prophet, should he become wounded.

In fact, the Magophage is all about denial. I tend to park him near a Fountain of Youth if my opponent doesn't have a Cleric to deny the use of the Fountain to my opponents.

Acrobat: Next to the Thief, the Acrobat is the best mover in the game. In a set lacking in Hitters, the Acrobat can be fairly easily moved into flanking position to trigger Group Combat. The Acrobat is also excellent at item (and wounded character) retrieval.

Barbarian: The set's sole Hitter - and an effective one. He can't use any magic items, but - let's be honest - that's not a huge loss, especially when he gets +1 Strength versus Magic Users. In Free Choice play, the Barbarian is an excellent fast-moving Hitter.

Fire Elemental and Water Elemental: There are three rooms in this set which contain Lava spaces and three which contain Water spaces. In tournament-legal play, there are seven rooms containing Lava and seven containing Water. Two of those seven contain both. That's out of 72 tournament-legal rooms. There is also room pair P2, which has lava spaces. The Water Elemental is slightly weaker than the Fire Elemental, however - the Fire Elemental can carry wounded characters in its native element. Beyond that, they're too weak to be good Hitters - in their (sparse) native element, they're decent hitters, but not phenomenal. In fact, I rarely use these characters in Free Choice unless I'm being cruel to my opponent and choosing rooms containing their element. I say that it's cruel because (with one or two exceptions) these seven rooms per element are nasty. Keep in mind, however that these two characters are still only mediocre in a fight.

Courtesan: Remember waaay back when I started this series? How I mentioned that I tended to use my Troll more or less as a Living Wall? The Courtesan is better at this than the Troll. A lot better. There is no better Living Wall than the Courtesan. She's the best Blocker in the game.

Prophet: He's a decent Runner, with Speed 5, but the Prophet should nearly always be on your starting line if you choose to use him. The ability to align an unrevealed room in the direction of your choice cannot be emphasized enough. Remember how I love the Mechanork? Paired with the Prophet, he's nearly twice as effective - it means that rooms will start to your opponent's disadvantage. Then the Mechanork can keep them that way. In Free Choice, they're a powerful combo. The ability of the Prophet to use Scrolls and other Magic-User Only items is icing on the cake.

Telekineticist: Another item-retrieval specialist. She can also function as an anti-retrieval specialist - she can move items to more difficult locations to keep them out of your opponent's hands. In fact, she is a better choice for this than many characters for two reasons:
1) She can easily move hard-to-reach items to even harder-to-reach locations.
2) She can deny items to your opponent without having to actually reach the object in question. She also doesn't have to be near the opposing characters, keeping her relatively safe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good-Bye, WizKids

While I haven't always agreed with their decisions, I'm still sad to see WizKids go.

They gave me Tsuro and Oshi, two excellent games.

My wife gained a lot of her gaming confidence playing Pirates of the Spanish Main.

For these reasons, they will be missed in our household.

We (my wife and I) wish the best for any WizKids folk who are suddenly finding themselves in the job market.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


It's going to be a busy few weeks of gaming!

I've had it since just before GenCon, but I'm going to get a chance to play Death Wears White, the first of (hopefully) a series of murder party games. The friend who is hosting said it was "How To Host A Murder done right." I've looked over my character - and it certainly looks like fun.

Releasing this month:
Formula D - one of my group's favorites. I approve of the changes made, and am looking forward to this being available.

Dungeon Twister: Fire and Water in English. I have my "Multiple Uses" post for the characters partially-written, because I know you're all waiting for it.

Ghost Stories - a co-op game that is reportedly harder than Pandemic.

The Z-Man games edition of Neuroshima Hex is supposed to be coming this month. It should be compatible with my copy of the Doomsday Machine and Babel 13 (which I pre-ordered direct from Portal). I'm hoping the US release will mean I won't be the only person logged onto the online version in the evenings, like I am currently. Also? If anyone wants to play sometime, just meet me there. I'm not there as much as I'd like to be, but I do spend some time there.

Giants was released at Essen. The game looks really good, and I expect it to be a lot of fun as well.

Things I'm Working On:
Dungeon Twister Characters: Multiple Uses post for Fire & Water