Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dungeon Twister on PS3

It's real!  And it'll be out on July 3rd in the US. For sure. How do I know?

I have it. And I've played it.  I even got a bit of multiplayer in. You see, Hydravision gave me a copy of the game. And a few codes so I can share with friends.

I'm giving one away on BoardGameGeek, one on Twitter, and one here.

Here's the rules for this one:

1) The code I was given is only good in North America. Feel free to enter if you're outside of that area, but the code won't do you any good.
2) The code is only good on PS3. If you don't have a PS3, the code won't do you any good. In fact, if you're not on the PlayStation Network, then the code won't do you any good.
3) To enter, send an e-mail to with the subject "DT on PS3."  In that e-mail, tell me who your favorite character is and why.
4) In the evening of Wednesday July 4th (one week from today), I will randomly draw a winner and will e-mail the code to that winner.

I won't use your e-mail for anything else. In fact, after the contest, I'll delete it. I also won't give away, sell, or share your e-mail address with anyone.

Good luck. I wish I could give codes to all of you.

So how is the game?

It's good.

If you like the board game, you'll like the video game. Because they have the exact same feel.

That, by the way, is some of the highest praise I can give the game.

The graphics are good, and the play controls are mostly intuitive to those of us who've been playing video games for a few years.

So far, I have played one multiplayer game with someone I met on BoardGameGeek.

The game's not perfect, don't get me wrong - we ran into a bug with multiplayer that froze the game up, but I don't know if it's a common bug or if it's related to playing without a timer.  But we were able to restart and finish a game.

I've always said that the game is won or lost at setup - and I don't think this game was any exception to that. I went with a Troll Forward strategy, and it worked for me.  I wound up killing four of his characters - my Cleric and Thief ganged up on his Cleric, my Warrior pounded his Goblin, and my Troll took out his Mechanork and his Wall-Walker.  Then he Fireballed my Troll. And, finally, my Goblin made a break for it.

Final score 6-1.

It's enough to make me wish I had the ability to record the game and upload it to YouTube so I could document that I do occasionally win.

There is a rumor that if it does well enough, they will start to release the expansions as DLC. But that's just a rumor and I haven't heard it from anyone official.

But my fingers are crossed - and I hope to see you online.

Once I'm done moving/unpacking/getting settled.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gamethyme's Game of the Year: Nominees

We have just over a month to go before I have to pick a winner - and, as ever, it's not easy.

Remember: To be eligible, I need to have played the game for the first time at some point after the start of last year's GenCon.  The game could be a thousand years old, but if it's new to me, it's eligible.  None of this year's candidates are particularly old, however. One of them isn't even available, yet.

Oh - and I have to like the game.  If I don't like your game, I won't post it, here. Because it has zero chance of winning.  I guess that games I dislike are technically eligible, but ... well ... the odds are pretty slim.

Here is the current list of possibilities, along with a few comments on each:

Let's start with the obvious one.  Eclipse. The game came from nowhere to become a huge hit on BoardGameGeek (and elsewhere).  There was a long wait between print runs (the second printing is starting to arrive in game stores right now), and the game was selling for ridiculous amounts of money in the meantime.  Is it that good?

Yes.  Absolutely. I have acquired a number of space-themed 4X games over the last few years, and I think this is probably my favorite. The drawback to this one, of course, is its length.  It's not an easy game to teach, and your first few games will run well past the "30 minutes per player" that they've put on the box.

Speaking of space-themed 4X games, Empires of the Void is on the list, too. It's a bit of a long shot, due to Eclipse hitting in the same Eric Year, but I am very glad I Kickstarted this one. It's solid, relatively fast, and doesn't seem to have huge rules holes like a number of small-press and/or self-published games do. And the variety contained in the base game seems to be enough to keep it going for a while. And it seems to be relatively easy to expand, too. Just add a few hexes and add some new starting races (My copy had more starting planets than races, so I have a hunch they have something already underway).

Another 4X I enjoyed was Ascending Empires.  In general, I'm way too bad at dexterity flicking games. Especially when my friend John is playing. When it comes to flicking, John has superhuman dexterity.  It's actually kinda creepy.  But the strategy in this game meant that my lack of dexterity wasn't a death sentence against people who aren't John.

At the other end of the weight scale from Ascending Empires is Space Empires 4X.  If you like crunchy, meaty, eighties-style wargaming with a fair degree of record-keeping, than this is your game.  The record-keeping slowed it down for me, unfortunately. But I could probably be talked into playing it again sometime.

In a non-4X vein, Libertalia is quite good. While it doesn't release until GenCon, I was sent an early copy for play. And I liked it a whole lot more than I'd expected.  It has similarities to Citadels and Mission: Red Planet, but it's different enough from both that I'm willing to leave it on my shelf.  If you're curious, I will encourage you to stop by the Asmodee booth at GenCon, and I'll be glad to show it to you.

Quebec really stole the show for me at GenCon last year.  Sadly, my group was only so-so on it. I consider this game to be vastly under-appreciated. It's still one of my favorites from the last year.

Skull and Roses has grown into a favorite of my group. My only complaint is that one of my more regular opponents has a very similar style of play to myself, so we both tend to double-think, which slows the game down a bit.  The expansion, Skull and Roses Red doesn't actually change the game. It just adds more players to the mix.

Shitenno is another solid competitor, here, too. Too many games break down when there are three players. They turn into two-on-one or have a lot of kingmaking - that's not going to happen with this one. In fact, when I have three players, this is always the game I reach for. Now, if only someone in the US would pick this game up ...

In the same shipment, I received Tournay. Z-Man will be distributing this in the US, so you should be able to find it at lower and lower prices in the near future.

It turns out that Sorry! Sliders is as much fun as everyone said it was.  Go figure. John regularly beats me at it, too.  Again: Go figure.

Another game John beats me at is Bisikle.

And that about rounds up the list.

Just over a month to go before I pick the winner, which will be posted while I'm at GenCon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gaming Mechanics Rambling

Over the years, I've seen a number of ways that horror games both build and maintain suspense.

The difficult part is making it suspenseful for the players instead of just the characters.

For years, I liked Chill and its method - characters essentially had fright-based hit points.  Every scary or supernatural thing that hit them would whittle down these hit points, which were separate from the characters' physical health. And it would heal like injuries do in most games.

I thought this was clearly superior to Call of Cthulhu's Sanity system, which inflicted permanent "injury" with every exposure to Mythos beasties.

I have very fond memories of Chill.

So a few weeks ago, I ordered a fresh copy of Chill. Mine had gone missing, you see. And, when I started re-reading it, I found the overall system to be clunky and awkward.

One of my impulse buys at GenCon was a little game called Dread (If Amazon is sold out, Indie Press Revolution probably still has a few). Dread does an excellent job of making the players sweat. Because there are no dice - it's played with a Jenga set. And, when you knock the pile down, your character will die.

It's not for everyone - my hands shake too badly for me to be much good at it (it's why I don't paint many minis these days, either). But it's spectacular. And versatile - you can run nearly any horror or suspense-themed game with it. With a little tweaking, you can do action with it, too.

It's no secret that, over the last few years, I've liked story-driven games more and more. I've been gradually setting aside books with pages and pages of rules in favor of games with only a handful of rules that get the job done. The Gumshoe system has become a favorite, of late, as well.

I love the way the system keeps the story moving. Players will never fail a roll and derail the story. Have the skill? No roll necessary. Want to roll anyhow? Go ahead. Even a bad roll gets you the essential information. A good roll can get you more info that might make things easier down the road.

One of my recent acquisitions was Tephra - I'd Kickstarted it, and the copies arrived just the other day. It seems to have a bit of Gumshoe in its DNA. Low rolls aren't failures. They're Tier I rolls. And Tier I can be a failure, but it can also be a marginal success, depending on the needs of the story and the situation.

I like Tephra.  Give me a few more chances to read through it, and I might learn to like it a lot.  I should write about it in more detail sometime.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Origins Winners

The Origins Awards were last weekend, and here is the list of winners:

Best Game Accessory: Shadowrun Runner's Toolkit by Catalyst Game Labs
Best Play-By-Mail: Heroic Fantasy by Flying Buffalo
Best Game-Related Publication: The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design by Open Design
Best Historical Minis Rules or Expansion: Flames of War: Cassino by Battlefront Miniatures, Ltd.
Best Historical Minis Figure or Line: Bolt Action WWII by Warlord Games
Best Historical Board Game: Strike of the Eagle by Academy Games
Best Traditional Card Game: Nuts! by Wildfire, LLC
Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion: Magic the Gathering: Innistrad by Wizards of the Coast
Best Miniatures Rules or Expansion: Battletech: The Wars of Reaving by Catalyst Game Labs
Best Miniatures Figure or Line: Storm Strider by Privateer Press
Best Roleplaying Game: Arcanis by Paradigm Concepts
Best Roleplaying Supplement or Adventure: Shadows Over Scotland by Cubicle 7
Best Family, Party, or Children's Game: Get Bit! by Mayday Games
Best Board Game: Conquest of Nerath by Wizards of the Coast

So how were my predictions?

Not good.

Best RPG: I was wrong.
Best RPG Supplement: I was wrong - and I'm glad. The winner was on my "Should win" list.
Best Board Game: I was right, but I still think Eclipse was a better game.
Best Traditional Card Game: Wrong.
Best Game Accessory: I declined to guess.
Best Game-Related Publication: Much like the RPG Supplement category, I was wrong, but one of the nominees I wanted to win did, so I won't complain about being wrong.

In short: I was right with only one of my guesses.

This, by the way is why I don't bet money on my predictions.

Congrats to all of the winners.

True fact: I was in Wolfgang Baur's dining room in the middle of a 13th Age playtest when they learned that they were now Origins Award Winners for the Kobold Guide to Board Game Design.

By the way: 13th Age will be awesome. But, considering that it's Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo writing it, this should not be a surprise.