Posted on October 21, 2011 by Monica Valentinelli
Posted on September 14, 2011 by Megan
In his Foreword, lead author Mike Selinker tells a tale about a rather hot Thai curry, and thus gives an insight into how his mind works. You may or may not like your curry hot, but reading this book will give you an insight into how a whole bunch of successful game designers go about designing games that people will buy and play. If you want to turn inchoate ideas into workable – and saleable – board games, or just want to know a bit more about how your favourite games came to be, and about the underlying concepts that make good games, read on.
The book is made up of four sections, and a mastery of ALL of them is necessary to create a successful game.
Posted on August 19, 2011 by Monica Valentinelli
To celebrate Lovecraft’s birthday this year, we went over to a friend’s house and popped open our shiny, new copy of Cthulhu Gloom from Atlas Games. Dubbed “the game of unspeakable incidents and squamous consequences,” our group consisted of five players — two of which weren’t as familiar with the Lovecraft mythos as we were.
So before we began, we attempted to channel Kenneth Hite and explain who Lovecraft and Cthulhu were. It was interested to see their reactions when they learned that one man inspired so many popular horror authors like Stephen King, Brian Lumley, etc. That, for me, was the best part about the game because then the cards mean something beyond their pretty pictures.
And pretty they are indeed. Instead of families, you play investigators ranging from those who work at Miskatonic University to the Village of Innsmouth. Since we played with five players, we each paired down our investigative group by one and gave that character to the fifth player.
Posted on July 28, 2011 by Billzilla
Steve Jackson has dominated the games industry lately with a seemingly endless supply of Munchkin-related games, accessories and knick-knacks. Just to prove there’s more going on at Jackson Labs than Munchkin, Steve Jackson Games released Zombie Dice last year to great acclaim. That acclaim is well-earned: Zombie Dice is fast, fun and addictive, and it’s cheap to boot.
Zombie Dice includes 13 dice, instructions, and a dice shaker/storage container in the package. The instructions are very simple: you (as the zombie) roll three dice at a time, and pick them out of the cup without looking at them. If a brain logo comes up, hooray! – you’ve successfully eaten some brains; set those aside.
Posted on July 27, 2011 by Matt-M-McElroy
The crew of the exploration ship Znutar just wanted to cruise around the Galaxy, discovering strange new worlds and playing pool. But then their ship was invaded by the Awful Green Things . . . and suddenly they were fighting for their lives!
I recently had the chance to try this game. Amazingly, I had never even demoed the Awful Green Things From Outer Space before. I’d seen it sitting on the shelves of the local game store before and thought it looked like fun. Naturally, I played the role of the alien monsters the first time out, but both sides are just as fun in the end.
Before game play can begin, there’s a little set up involved in this primarily two-player (or two teams) game. First, the Znutar crew has to be placed into different locations on the ship. Then, players need to resolve the starting locations for the Awful Green Things, weapons, etc. Once you’ve played a few times, the set up will go fairly quickly. It took us about five or ten minutes to set up the game the first time we played.
Posted on June 30, 2011 by Billzilla
Let’s be honest; who doesn’t love Count Dracula? The cape, the sex appeal, the slick hair, eschewing modern dentistry – he did it all, including upsetting more than a few well-to-do British noblemen. In Van Helsing, one player gets to play the toothy Count, while the remaining one to four players take on the roles of Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Lord Godalming and Abraham Van Helsing – the Hunters.
The board is a loose grid of spaces showing three levels of Dracula’s castle. Hunters move around the board looking for Dracula and his brides. The object of the game for them is to destroy five of the eight brides, or destroy Dracula himself if they like doing things the hard way. For the Count, his goal is to either transform all four of the Hunters into his minions or kill them, or to get four of his potential brides to the coffin space in his castle.
Posted on March 3, 2011 by Monica Valentinelli
Imagine sitting down at a diner and breaking out…CTHULHU! Well, to play this game that’s exactly what we did. Produced by Steve Jackson Games, Cthulhu Dice is a rapid descent into madness. You can literally lose your mind during this game or, as our waiter put it: your lunch.
We played with three people. To set up, each player gets three tokens which are included with the dice. Those beads represent your sanity. Then, the owner of the game (Moi, in fact) gets to choose who casts the first curse. Player A rolls to curse Player B and gets a tentacle. Player B loses one point of sanity to Player A and gets to roll a response. Player B rolls a Cthulhu. Now everyone loses a point of sanity. The turn has thus ended and the next player gets to go.
Posted on July 2, 2010 by Billzilla
This week we take a look at some horror-themed card games that deserve more attention. All are card or card/board hybrid games and all can be played in a relatively short (one hour or less) period of time.
The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow by Asmodee Editions
WoMH is a party game, and follows the lead of popular convention games like Mafia. In Werewolves, players are dealt a character card – either villager or werewolf – which is kept secret. During the day turn, the players discuss who might be a werewolf and designate someone, suspected of being a werewolf, to be “executed.”
Posted on June 11, 2010 by spikexan
Advertising will sometimes try to sell a movie as the funniest of the year . . . during the third week in January. I think that’s a fairly short-sighted marketing approach, but maybe people don’t remember that eleven more months will doubtlessly have contenders to the self-proclaimed title. Why even bring it up? Because I want to explain my take on this RPG. I’m not going to call this the coolest RPG I read in 2010 . . . yet.
Posted on April 6, 2010 by Billzilla
Deadlands, a mix of classic Western, science fiction and alternate history, has gone through a few changes and several editions in its 14-year history. A miniatures battle game and a pen-and-paper RPG of the Deadlands setting – the Wild West with magic and the supernatural in an alternate history timeline – have both been popular and successful, and last year a new addition has been added to the fold: a board game of the Deadlands world, produced by Twilight Creations.
Deadlands: The Battle for Slaughter Gulch pits two to six players against each other in a struggle for control of a small town. Each player leads one of the factions in town: The Agency (think precursor to the Secret Service), The Texas Rangers, The Blessed (Missionaries bringing the Good Word to the uncharted West), Hucksters (spell-slinging dudes from back East), Shamans, and Mad Scientists.
Posted on February 2, 2010 by Matt-M-McElroy
Castle Panic is a cooperative board game where players work together to protect their castle from an invading horde of Orcs, Trolls and their little Goblin minions. These monsters are bent on destroying what the humans have built and have a few nasty tricks up their sleeves to help them batter down the defenses of the castle.
My favorite element of Castle Panic is the teamwork to defend the castle from the attacking monster army. With a little strategy, plenty of communication and often…a little luck, the Heroes can defeat the Monsters with most of the castle intact at the end of the day.
Posted on December 4, 2009 by Flames
November 2009 has seen the release of one of the most well thought out and put together magazines for Sci-fi and Fantasy Wargaming ever. ‘The Ancible’ is the dream and creation of Kenny Robb, Managing Director of the magazine. At first glance the cover alone is enough to inspire purchase with a magnificent painted miniature by Adrian Walters. The magazine, from the time you open it to the last page, is a visual masterpiece designed with thought, purpose and function. Phil Cunningham is the man to thank for that. This is not a magazine designed by beginners or ‘fly by night’ fans. Every article and piece of artwork is well thought out and placed for visual appeasement. The usual overabundance of retail advertisements and promotional material is not present; having just enough to wet the consumers’ appetite.
Posted on December 1, 2009 by Billzilla
Cooperative games are popular these days. Playing against the game so that the players win or lose collectively is appealing in a day and age when people even compete with each other for the best Christmas light displays. In Witch of Salem, the players take on the roles of occult investigators working against the evil sorcerer Necron, who intends to open inter-dimensional gates to allow the Great Old Ones into our world to wreak havoc. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s never that simple.
The board shows a representation of the fictional city Arkham, Massachusetts. There are eight locations the players can visit; Miskatonic University (also the starting space), the Sanitorium, the Arkham News offices, the Witch House, the Hotel, the Cemetery and the Church. The eighth location is the sunken city of R’lyeh, which players will only visit in the end game phase to prevent the Great Old One there from bursting through.
Posted on October 26, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
THE STARS ARE RIGHT is a board game produced by Steve Jackson Games. Inspired by the Lovecraft mythos, the object of the game is to “summon” ten points worth of servitors and gods before your opponent.
After playing through the game multiple times, I feel that in order to get a sense for what the game is about, you really need to play through it twice. To set the game up, you place the cardboard stars in rows of five by five, for a total of twenty-five. Each player gets five cards to start; I highly recommend giving each player a Turn Sequence card to help keep the movements straight. On the card there are a series of symbols that are used at different points in the Turn Sequence. There are two types of symbols, primarily. The directional symbols allow you to change the way the board is arranged; the pieces are double-sided so there’s a lot of different variations on how the pieces are set up.
Posted on October 20, 2009 by Flames
I was destined to be a game geek. Back when I was but a wee Stevie, my folks introduced me to board games early. It was a fun and cheap family oriented activity we’d partake in when we could. My folks were big fans of the classics like Monopoly, Clue, Battleship and Trivial Pursuit while occasionally picking up a new “fad game” here and there like The A-Team, Pac-Man and Frogger.
As I got older and found ways of making my own coin, I started buying my own board games, the kinds that caught my interest more than the rest of the clan. These were games with more strategy and story/themes added to them, many of which you fellow board game geeks might recognize. Titles like Risk, The Omega Virus, Dragon Strike, Nightmare, oh yeah… let’s not forget a personal favorite of mine, HeroQuest and its expansion packs. My love of games in general led me to eventually discover RPG’s, which led me to start attending cons, which in turn opened my eyes to a ginormous cornucopia of gaming opportunities! And I dove in head first.
Posted on October 8, 2009 by spikexan
It’s been too long since I took part in Live Action Role-Playing. It was the mid-nineties at Egyptian Campaign in Carbondale, Illinois. The Southern Illinois University’s Student Center was the perfect setting for a session of the Masquerade. There were outdoor and indoor sets.
Hectic Narrators bounced all around in attempt to keep the action controlled. It was a great night, but I’m reasonably sure there wasn’t a story to speak of. Yeah, I recall a handful of werewolves being found dead outside the building. There was also something about the Prince being mad. To be honest, the game was an excuse for the largest number of gamers at the convention to cut loose and have fun. After reading City in the Sand, I have to wonder how much better that night would have been with a story underlying everything. I guess I should say a “good story that people were interested in” underlying everything. City in the Sand takes an interesting bit of cinema’s history and applies a little Vampire bite to it.
Posted on October 6, 2009 by Billzilla
In Twilight Creations’ board game Innsmouth Escape, one player takes on the role of the human trying to free her friends and flee from the accursed town infested with frog-like worshipers of Cthulhu, while the rest play the nefarious Deep Ones themselves, intent on keeping their dark secret away from the prying eyes of outsiders.
The board is a simple six-by-six grid. Some of the squares are marked with symbols indicating places to rescue human captives, obtain equipment and have encounters (all for the human player) and to spawn Deep Ones, summon a Shoggoth (more on that later) and draw cards for the Deep One player(s).
Posted on September 24, 2009 by Billzilla
With the runaway popularity of Zombies these days, it isn’t surprising that we’re seeing the shambling undead teamed with nearly every other concept imaginable, from video games to Jane Austen. Even lighthearted zombie treatments are gaining a strong foothold, like Shaun of the Dead, the upcoming film Zombieland starring Woody Harrelson, and, of course, Zombie Mosh from Bucephalus Games.
Zombie Mosh is exactly that, a game about zombies bashing each other apart in a mosh pit. Players select one of six different character cards, then shuffle the Zombie cards and deal four to each player. The dealer then draws two cards and randomly places them in the “damage” row of each player, including himself. Each card has two different results, facing the top and bottom of the card, so orientation of each card matters.
Posted on September 17, 2009 by spikexan
All Things Zombie comes from Two Hour Wargames. Wargaming is a very different hobby than role-playing, which I take part in most often. I’ve tried a few games over the years with minis. Some were true wargames like WarZone while others were toned-down versions like Savage Worlds or HeroClix. The deciding factor for these games to win me over was speed of play. I don’t want to check charts constantly when I’m playing a game. A character sheet and perhaps a index card-sized grouping of key rules is more than sufficient. I’ll allow for each player to work with their own screen because some games dictate that.
At the end of the day though, a game system better have something backing it up if it plans on being convoluted. I realize that some people want as much realism as possible in their miniature combat. I’m not writing this review for those people. I’m writing from the other side, the side where realism takes a backseat after a spell. I’ll elaborate more as I continue.
Posted on August 27, 2009 by spikexan
Twilight Creations earns the distinction of being the first board game I review. I’ve been familiar with the company since Zombies, moved through When Darkness Comes, and looked forward to their Deadlands release (I didn’t get a chance to play a demo, but I did hover for a little bit while a quartet enjoyed a brief visit to the weird west. Today, I’m reviewing Martians.
Martians is a tile-based board game similar to Zombies. The game is intended for two to six players, ages thirteen and up. I should go ahead and point out that my five-year-old son, a board game enthusiast, wanted to try out this game. After reading the rules and deciding to go with the cooperative version, I told him he could try. Except for reading the cards, he quickly grasped the fundamental concepts of the game. He places little green men and tokens accurately; furthermore, he understood the turn sequence just as well as his dad (who had to sometimes look at the rules).