Saturday, December 24, 2016

Deck Breakdown: Rebel Capital Ships

Several weeks back I took a trip down to Bluegrass Magic in Louisville, Ky for my for Star Wars: TCG regional. I don't get to play much in the way of competitive these days so I decided to take a deck I needed to work on to see what could be done. So here is what I ran:

Rebel Alliance
A Legend Begins x2
Command and Control x2
Solidarity of Spirit x2
Green Squadron Deployment x2
Mobilize the Squadron x1
Capital Cover x1

A Legend Begins x2

A Legend Begins give some good edge for the Rebels and a way to possibly control what ends up getting to shoot at me in the engagement. Unfortunately I often pitched Wedge to the edge and the resource is the least efficient but it does do some interesting things for the Alliance. Just not sure if it is enough.

Command and Control x2

In this pod we get a way to increase handsize as long as we can manage to take an objective, a main that decreases the cost of most of the units in the deck and shielding; those two reason are solid choices to play it but it also bring Resupply Depot and another way to mess with edge math in Supporting Fire. Add in some Black Blast with a couple Corvettes I would probably take another another card in place of the second Corvette but it is a solid body. Not sure I would every cut this pod for this type of deck.

Solidarity of Spirit x2

I love and hate this pod, I wish it let the opponent put a unit that costs one less as I have to weigh triggering it every time it comes into play but had to run it in my deck, a free Home One is tempting but I don't want to have to see a free Vader in reply. Now I would play the pod for Home One and the free resource which I can't use it for the the Corvettes but if you want you can play the MC80 from this pod to get a little more mileage out of resources for capital ships. Battle of Endor rounds out the pod on a down note since most cards the deck runs are not Endor so it ends up as 1-2pips for the edge usually.

Green Squadron Deployment x2

So I don't really care about the force with this deck so I never really played the objective and while the seeds is nice I can't see me committing too many units since most are not elite and I can't afford the other side to over focus my ships. I ran it for the resource and The Liberty but it is a non-elite unit that needs to be committed to the force to work. Navy has Gladiators and other ways to manipulate the edge, Sith just has edge numbers beyond what this deck can handle. So I often felt it was overcosted for the current meta, at least for something that will get focused before it can pop a problem unit back into your opponent's hand.

Mobilize the Squadron x1

A quasi-elite objective that help to drop some of the more expensive units or even 2 capital ships on a turn with the proper reductions. Trench Run gave me another way to cherry pick objective with Home One and Rebel Assault gave me a another way to push on the last bit of damage for a unit or objective. Cheap bodies in X-wing and Rookie pilot for rounding out the resources I could spend or for cheap Covering Fore Bodies.

Capital Cover x1

Objective is usually a priority target but it give me a way to try and get the ships to survive so they can strike. Another capital ship in Defiance that can help the survivability for your key ships, MC40 gives you another way to try and survive the engagement and the MC30 is a source of cheap blast. Capital Fire was a card that I never got off but I like the threat of it. Rounding out the pod is protection for another source of shields for the ships.

So after the tournament I knew that I would either be dropping Green Squadron completely or at least going down to one copy of it. So I also needed more shields or tactics, shields seed easir so the changes that I as testing now are:

-2 Green Squadron Deployment
+1 Mobilize the Squadron
+1 Capital Cover

This gives me more resources on objectives while letting my draws for shields get a little more consistent. I want to get another good round of games with these changes in to see what else I can do to improve the deck. So while it is far from top tier it is a fun deck that could probably be improved from here.







Growing a Gamer: Alternatives to Candyland

...or why Hisss doesn't drive me crazy.

So our daughter is almost 6 years old she has been enjoying boardgames for a couple years now and it looks to have taken seed as an activity for the next few years. I often get asked by fellow gamer parents what we did to encourage the hobby so I decided I would throw together some thought on the subject and a few games for the younglings.

The first step is be excited about any game they want to play, this means you are going to play Candyland(seriously, be excited about it) at some point if they show interest in board games because a relative will buy it or you will be roped into playing it at a ply date. Be happy and excited that your child is interested, you can try and steer choices later, if you aren't happy chances are the kid will pick up on it and after a few fails the interest will probably die off. Nothing kills the drive for gaming than seeing someone playing a game in a lackluster way, especially if it is a game you wanted to play(so again, be excited).

Second do not hesitate to make changes to early games, you can often make house rules that will make the games easier to understand for games that push the child a little above the age range. The one thing to make sure is that the child knows you are playing by a modified set to rules. This brings us to the first game I will discuss: Hisss

Now Hiss is a game where you draw a card and play it onto the matching color to build a snake. The snake must have at least 3 pieces consisting of 1 head, 1 tail and at least one body section. The large the snake the more points it is worth. Now like most kids early game help them learn to take turns, teach something basic and teaches them sportsmanship. Now I decided to make the game a cooperative game at first, the goal was changed from scoring the more points than the opponent to completing all the snakes. This means we could talk through the turns and help each other make the decision and it made learning to lose easier since we lost together. We would try to make bigger snakes to beat our high score the next time we played the game so the goal was also a shifting number. This went on until I felt she knew the game and then I asked if she would like to try playing the game a different way and we used the standard rules. We still play by the modified rules every now and then but it is often the standard rules that are used these days.

So now when she suggests Candyland I will suggest Hisss, but if she insists I am happy to play a game of whatever she wants. Next time on Growing a Gamer: Alternatives to Tic Tac Toe






Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My Go To Publisher

So everyone tend to gravitate towards a favorite designer from Feld to Friese, looking from Lang until Uwe but sometimes companies are so in sync with what you want from a game that they end up feeling like home. I thought I would take a moment to talk about my favorite publisher:


Most of the games they have published over the years have been on the heavy side but that is what I love about them. I can always depend on the game to be deep and crunchy and yet approachable from a rules stand aspect.

Some of the games that I find myself going back to are Vinhos, Madeira, Signoire, Vasco Da Gama, ZhanGuo, Asgard and Nippon. I only own a few myself but I jump at the chance to play other people's copies of them and I have enjoyed them everytime. I am looking forward to Brasil and Railroad Revolution. The company has seemed to developed a a relationship with designers who like push people with a hard choice and allowing a limited amount of choices to means something. Well done.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sith PK Deck Breakdown

Back when I dabbled in Legend of the Five Rings the Scorpion Clan ran a heavy PK(Personality Kill) deck. This is what come to mind with the Sith deck that I am currently tinkering on, the deck has a lot of mains but the board removal tends to come in the form of events like Force Lightning, Force Choke, Force Manipulation and Deadly Sight. This frees up units to attack or defend and still have a way to keep the board presence in the dark side's favor.

The deck stands at:

The Emperor's Web x1
Agent of the Emperor x2
The Plan of the Prophetess x2
Encounter at Stygeon Prime x1
Power of the Dark Side x2
There is No Conflict x2

Now let us go through pod by pod.


Just a solid pod that does a lot of work. Only one copy of it because of the low damage capacity of the objective and although two of them can work I just don't want to have to field a copy against a quick light side deck if I have the choice. Everything else in the pod is great.


Good main in Mara with targeted strike(true it does have to be turned on), a resource and a unit with protect. Rage can come in handy but it can be situational. The objective can slow down a deck on occasion the timing of it really only allows foe Echoes or a similar trick to take a unit out of commission on the same turn.


Decent objective against Jedi and can really lock the force for the dark side against other factions. It can also help set up Power of the Dark Side, Force Manipulation and Deadly Sight. Solid removal with Deadly Sight in the area of mid range units. A tactics icon on Sariss and the reaction screwing with other players can be useful but one of the weaker mains in the deck. Another resource in the pod as well.


Another unit with tactics in The Inquisitor and his action can serve for cycling for edge battle or just trying to pull a needed event or unit. The rest of the pod just tries to dictate how your opponent has to handle future conflict phases. Making your opponent make choices they do not want or usually have to make can win game by itself.


The objective can help by all the cards that can commit units your opponent doesn't want committed to the force and can work in conjunction with Plan of the Prophetess for a little soft unit removal, it can also trigger the Hunted so you have another way to pile on focus tokens. Another version of Palpy of the deck and he can get you back a unit for defense if you take hold the force. Yet another resource and a unit you can bounce from the discard pile if you can get the force engine running.


The objective can slow some deck in the early game if you can get it to trigger but it really comes in handy by taking away event options during the combat phase. This version of Vader can be interesting but the pod is included more for the Jedi hate it brings and another way to remove some opposing units with Join Me.

While the deck can be a real pain I'm not certain I would consider it a top tier deck, competitive sure but most deck with Vader and Palpatine pods end up competitive by default. The deck is very resource dependent and if your opponent can put early pressure by taking an objective within the first two turns it can put you in a situation where you have to rush you board presence and hoping to hold out until you can remove a few unit and take back board control. A solid deck to learn some the new tricks the dark side can use to get things done the old fashioned way.






Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tiny Living, Tiny Gaming

So eventually we would like to move into a space with 600 sqft or less indoor living space. We have always been able to keep our collection around 60 games but if you had to cut down to just 5 games what would they be and why, here is the result of my list. Now these will not be games with a small footprint or our favorite games but games that I feel would see the most play with us and our group of friends being the focus, I also tend to store expansions in the main box so that does give the edge to games with a library of expansions released. So here is the current list of games that I will be working with so we will be keeping 5 of them, kids games are already removed because they serve a different purpose but we would trim those down to a handful as well.

Alhambra: Big Box
The Castles of Burgundy
Chess
Codenames
Concept
Coup
Crokinole
Dixit
Doomtown: Reloaded
Elysium
Felix: The Cat in the Sack
Fire in the Lake
Firenze
Fleet
Fleet: Arctic Bounty
Founding Fathers
Ginkgopolis
Go
Gold West
Grand Austria Hotel
La Granja
The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
Guilds of London
Hanabi
Hive
Imperial Settlers
Keyflower
King Chocolate
King of Tokyo
Lords of Waterdeep
Love Letter
Luna
Machi Koro
Madeira
Mombasa
Myrmes
Mysterium
Nations
Orléans
Pandemic
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Qwirkle
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Saint Petersburg
Seasons
Shipyard
Snowdonia
Splendor
Star Wars: The Card Game
Suburbia
Sushi Go!
Taluva
Terra Mystica
Terror in Meeple City
Tokaido
Trajan
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Vikings
Vinhos
Washington's War
Wok Star

In no order the games would be:

Star Wars: The Card Game


This is pretty much the game for just the two of us, with all the expansion in the box it hits deck building and keeps itself fresh enough for me. The game has some interesting decision trees and has the added benefit of being set in the Star Wars Universe.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island


Hits all the co-op needs that we have while still being fun and thematic, again all the scenarios and even the fan created content just means the game will have a long shelf life. The risk element to trying to do more actions with your limited resource pull and rolling to see if things are accomplished weighed against taking less actions with assured success makes for fun debate and adds some chance to the game.

Orléans


A bag builder game that has really tight game play at all player counts combined with different roads to victory makes for a great game. The fact that the mechanics are easy to teach but give the game an incredible depth of strategy make it an easy include on such a short list. I hope that the expansions can live up to the high standard the base game has set.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar


Another game with easy to teach rules but has a lot of variety with in the rule set. The game is about timing and knowing what you need to do, two simple things that the moving action slots and other players can change from turn to turn. So many games have come down to over extending by one worker or missing a chance to pull a worker to set up future turns. The expansion adds so many little changes that can all be thrown in or just a module at a time to keep things fresh by adding another level of decisions to the game.


Box of Delights

The biggest cheat on the list, we have our Dixit, Codenames and Mysterium all stored in one box, this is pretty much geared towards our game nights as Mysterium and Codenames have been really popular among the group. Dixit serves to freshen up both games and serve as another game by itself.

--Games for the youngling--
Animal Upon Animal
Feuerdrachen
Heart of Attraction
Monstertorte
Pharaoh's Gulo Gulo
PitchCar Mini
RattleSnake
Rhino Hero
Ticket to Ride
Unicorn in the Clouds
Viva Topo

We would probably end up with:
Rhino Hero
Pharaoh's Gulo Gulo
Ticket to Ride


All are fun for adults and can be competitive as she grows.

So there are my five, what are yours?




Monday, October 17, 2016

Star Wars and the Destiny of the LCG

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. "


Many are worried about the effect that Star Wars: Destiny, seen below,


will have on Star Wars: The Card Game, I honestly don't think the game will shift many players away from the LCG unless they stop the game or break it before Destiny comes out. As a company that paved the way for non-collectible card games with any amount of success it just seems like a step back to release a collectible model now. It won't steal the people who are tired of blind buying packs hoping to pull Han or Boba Fett. It is a dice driven game so those who hate heavy luck games will need to be assured of ways to mitigate it before they give it a try.

Now it does break from the pod system of SW:TCG which some people will appreciate. I am of two minds on this, I find the pod system gives the design team a lot of ways to balance cards but it does limit the deck building side to 10 choices. This brings about a stagnant meta when really good pods like 'May the Force be With You' come along but not much can be done from a design aspect in this manner due to the pod system. If you don't design a self supporting pod it tends to lead people into running the same supporting pods, the only thing that can be done is good steady design and that is a hard thing to do.

I do feel that SW:TCG never really took of due to how good this guy is:


X-Wing was really starting to roll when SW:TCG came out and with good reason, it is a really fun well designed game addressing an aspect of the Star Wars Universe that is often glossed over for Jedi and other flashier things. If you were into Star Wars and gaming chances are you were playing it and had an established group or day at your local store. Why risk upsetting the balance of the force with a new game. Armada came along and gave another option of Capital Ship level engagements but it still hasn't come close to X-Wing.


Then you have great board games like Imperial Assault, Rebellion, SW: Risk and a few versions of RPGs flavored to whatever aspect of Star Wars that really speaks to you. Honestly as fans we are spoiled for choices of good Star Wars games. Unlike Game of Thrones which has a long board game or the LCG so that fan base isn't as split.


Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Star Wars Jank Specter.0

So I enjoy jank, I think Specter might have made it easy for me this time around. Okay so here is the list:



Rebel Affiliation

The Last Warrior x2
Spark of Rebellion x2
Explosive Artist x2
No Match for a Good Blaster x2
The Gardener's Secret x1
To Arms x1

So lets look at the pods, starting with Spark of Rebellion.


The action has 14 unit in the deck that will trigger it, with Kanan and Sabine can give a jump in resources. The only card need a resource match for Jedi is Kanan's Concentration which can be nice for freeing up defenders in your opponent's deployment phase.


The Freelance Slicers have 16 cards that they could hit to trigger their ability, so more cards possibly for free. The Bo Rifle can be played from the discard pile with its own text and any of your Specter or Smuggler units. Bringing us to Zeb, situational targeted strike but you should have it active that to all the enhancement tricks in the deck as long as Tarkin doesn't hit the table early.


Sabine gives a lot of flavor to the deck, being able to add combat icons to all the mains and being able to hand out edge to 3 unit is good. Being able to recycle the Custom Paint Job and Improvised Explosive with the Junk Dealers can lead to some fun shenanigans.


With this pod we get another unit with Targeted Strike in Han, a unit that can seriously mess with the opponent's force phase in Chewbacca and some limited event protection in the form of a blaster.


We have another card in Monmaw that has 12 cards in the deck that he can search for and the Junk Dealers will allow you to be able to play 16 cards from the discard pile giving you some wiggle room for edge battle choices if you can keep them on the table.


There are 8 card that Hidden Cache can fetch that can all trigger the Sullustan Weapon Tech. Han and Chewie's weapons can do some heavy lifting if you can get them on their namesakes, otherwise they can put extra combat icons on other units.


You think you cannot see because you blind, but you are blind because you cannot see. What the deck lacks is tactics and twists. This will leave you open to first strikes often so try to choose survivable battles. No May the Force be with you means you will not be able to over commit to an attack and expect the card to save you but the deck is fun and should be something to break out during casual play.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Impessions of Shin Godzilla

...Shin Gojira, Godzilla Resurgence whatever they ended up calling it.



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(I feel for ya big guy)


Not even sure where to begin, I didn't like the film but I didn't hate it either, so that is where I will begin. This was definitely in the tone of the original Gojira and for that it gets my respect, the whole thing felt like a social commentary with Godzilla being the catalyst for change in the way policy is handled and bringing to light some United States/Japan foreign relation issues. The unfortunate thing is Hideaki Anno has some solid ground work but falls short(shades of Evangelion). The randomly mutating Godzilla is something new and by no means the worst Godzilla to grace the screen and the Prime Minister's endless cabinet meetings to discus the implementation of new policy to deal with this while missing opportunities to deal the situation when it is more manageable was brilliant, political back channeling to get the time needed to finish the plan inspired, but for some reason the whole thing just seemed average to me but lets face it, humans are weak animals.