It only seems like five minutes ago since I was writing my November Geek, but then December is one of those months – it drags along for most of it and then suddenly seems to disappear in a puff of smoke!
We are usually one of the last to put up the Christmas tree and decorations, as we wait until everyone in the house has finished work/school, but this year, as Christmas was early in the holiday, we decided to put them up on the 15th.
I hate bringing Christmas forward, and every year we seem to get forced into it earlier and earlier. It just adds to the stress of everything, especially the shopping, and makes the actual festive period a bit of an anti-climax.
It doesn’t help with the fact that the weather has been wet and grey. Christmas should at least be frosty, with crisp grass and sparkling cobwebs. Instead we have had thick, gloopy mud (I’m fed up with cleaning the dog) and big black clouds hanging over us… Or is that just me?
Still, we make the most of it, and this year has been no exception. Yasmin was, as always on Christmas day, up well before the larks. Much to her consternation though, we have to be breakfasted, showered, and the dog walked before the great unwrapping can take place.
We always try to make it a fun time – trying to guess what’s in each present; squeezing, rattling, and even letting the dog smell them (He’ll soon tell you if it’s food!). Yasmin was extremely pleased with her Harry Potter ‘Hogwarts Great Hall’ Lego, that is, until she started to put it together. After completing the first part she then realised she had no bag 3, but did have an extra bag 2, so that put an end to her holiday construction! Hopefully Lego will be sending the missing bits out shortly.
My wife got all the clothes she had been hinting at – warm jumpers, coat, boots, etc. so she was extremely pleased too.
I received this…
Yes, it’s an ‘illumibowl’! The motion-activated toilet night-light no man can do without. According to the box – ‘No more… Blinding midnight lights. Stumbling in the dark. Missing and making a mess. Falling into open toilets’! My wife and daughter eh, oh! How they laughed. Life is just a barrel of laughs in our house (I did buy my daughter some fake poo, so it seems only fair that she should get her own back!)
I also got these…
Seems like they might be trying to tell me something.
And, of course, I got these…
My family, as always, excelled in their pressie giving!
It has been 8 months since I started this blog, and I’m amazed by how things have moved along, both in terms of the response to what I write (both here and on BGG), and how I’ve developed personally. Being creative gives me a great sense of satisfaction, especially when it is about something I’m so passionate about.
I wasn’t overly sure I would be able to keep things up, but now I think I would miss sitting down at the computer ready to write up the next post. I especially enjoy reviewing games, mainly because it really gives you an insight into how the game really works. I like to sit and think about the mechanisms used by the game, and how the designer has implemented them and why.
I have been thinking about changing my Website’s theme. I went with the current one because I liked that sort of vintage feel it gave, but when I look at others I think mine looks a little too dated, so maybe something a little more ‘punchy’ is called for? More research required…
In the run up to Christmas I hardly played anything of the tabletop variety, mainly because my games table was packed away to make room for the big un-wrapping. My daughter dragged battleships out to play, and as always humiliated me! I just don’t know how she does it; I’ve even checked behind me for mirrors… I just cannot beat her. I play a very systematic game, firing off shots in a grid pattern, leaving spaces one square smaller than the opponents smallest surviving ship (or tank in this case!). Whereas, she seems to be randomly picking squares to fire at, but however she does it – it works!
We also played the odd game of Magic The Gathering, though we are yet to play with the new duel decks Yasmin received – Elves vs. Inventors. We used to play a lot more of this game, but sometimes I feel it has gotten too big, with too much choice of cards and decks. We do enjoy putting new decks together and playing them against one another, but I think the tinkering you need to do to fine tune one deck against another puts her off.
I may investigate Keyforge: Call of the Archons, as every pack has a unique deck to play, so it gets away from the deck-building side of things. To buy a couple of decks is fairly cheap, which means you’re not wasting too much money if you discover you don’t like the game. Incidentally, it’s designed by Richard Garfield, creator of Magic The gathering.
Over Christmas we played the usual family games – The Logo Game (Sue and Yasmin won), Trivial pursuit (Yasmin won!), Frustration (I lost!), and Dobble (I won). Now that the festive period has calmed down though, and I’ve dug my games table back out, we can get out some of the more involving and lengthy games. A quick word on Dobble though – It’s a great little family game that’s cheap to buy and small enough to carry around in your coat pocket. The gameplay is fast and furious, and so simple. All you have to do is shout out which symbols on the cards match, sounds easy, and it should be, but isn’t! We have loads of fun with this; so much so I think I’ll do a mini-review of it on my site, so watch out for that.
On to my Christmas pressies…
Star Wars: Legion is a miniatures game involving the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. This will be my entry back into wargaming, though this time on a purely fictional platform. I can’t wait to get playing, though it’s going to take a good afternoons work to put the miniatures together – I also received an AT-RT expansion.
Roll and write (R&W) games have never been a particular favourite of mine, but the reviews I’d seen of Steamrollers really sparked my interest. I like the theme of building a railroad and delivering cargo; at the same time everyone else is trying to do the same thing but utilising the dice in different ways. That doesn’t sound too much different from any other R&W game, but incorporate a supply board, action and order tiles, along with some starting power tiles, and things get a little more divergent.
I like to keep an eye out for games I can fit in my pocket – ideal for taking down the pub, out on long journeys, or just to keep the daughter from getting bored in the car, and Tiny Epic Galaxies fits the brief superbly. It’s a little dice rolling game that sees you trying to expand your influence across the universe. Each turn requires a little planning but not too much that it slows down the gameplay, which should see you wrap a game up in less than an hour.
The Scythe: Invaders from Afar expansion adds another two factions to the base game, which makes it ideal to take to Snodcon (more of that shortly) with me. It also lets me have a go at playing a massive seven faction solo game, with six of them being run by Automa decks. I’ve played a few games with five factions and they’ve run pretty well with some interesting results.
The Arkham Horror card game expansion – Blood on the Altar, is one I’m missing, and I’m really looking forward to this to progress the Solo Dunwich campaign I’m playing. I really should make more of an effort to catch up to the latest releases for this game as they give a really thematic experience, but I’m a bit like a moth flitting from one light source to another and there are always other games to play!
I found Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the cursed Island (2nd Edition) in the second hand games of a small games store in Shrewsbury, and as I had heard good things about it decided to buy it as a Christmas gift from my wife to myself (it’s the only way to guarantee you get what you want!). Having unwrapped and opened it up on Christmas morning I find that the previous owner had being using non-standard wooden tokens in place of the cardboard ones, unfortunately it wasn’t instantly recognisable which token was replacing what! After a fair amount of time counting and sorting, I finally settled on what I believed to be the correct tokens to play the game, and other than that the rest of the game was in perfect condition. Then I opened the rules…
…The rules are spectacularly bad… After an hour trying to fathom everything out I hit BGG and printed off the 3rd Edition rule-set, which was much better in terms of putting relevant information in pretty much the right place, they weren’t, however, perfect there’s a downloadable Pdf of FAQ’s for the game on BGG, and it stretches on for a mighty 59 pages!
It is such a shame because once I’d got past fighting with the rules there’s a very good game underneath. I played the first scenario through twice losing both times, but had a very good, thematic experience. The game is notoriously difficult to beat, but it also makes it feel like you can beat it and that you’re not banging your head up against an uncompromising brick wall.
Finally, the biggest surprise – Arkham Horror 3rd Edition. I really wanted this game but I didn’t think I’d dropped enough hints to actually get it (It was on my Amazon wish list set to highest priority, but I know nobody ever usually looks!). So, I was really surprised to get it, and it made my day… Thanks Sue!
I love the Living Card Game of the same name, and I love Eldritch Horror and Mansions of Madness too, and this game brings a little piece of those, along with the original Arkham Horror, together to make a game that I believe will be highly thematic and exciting to play. I will be doing an unboxing post shortly where I’ll give my first impressions of the game, so I won’t say any more on this one.
I haven’t had a lot of time for painting this month. It’s been far too cold to paint in the garage and the dining table has been in Christmas mode for the last two weeks! Here’s a look at what I have done though…
I’ve finished the base for my Black Dragon and am quite pleased with the result… Had a few issues with the ‘rocks’ sticking down properly as I built them up, but once I applied a thin layer of watered down PVA over the top they stopped falling off!
I’ve also based up my Air Cultists, and though I’m not particularly happy with them, from the distance you’d look at them whilst playing, I think they’ll be okay.
I’ve primed up the last miniatures from Dungeons and Dragons: Temple of Elemental Evil – the Water and Fire Cultists, along with the Hobgoblins, and then progressed the Water Cultists a little further along. I decided to break from making them blue, as appears to be usual, and have gone for a ‘Sea Green’ look. I’ve done the basecoat for the skin; I just need to add a few layers. Here’s what they looks like so far…
I finished reading Insomnia and am now half way through another of Conn Igguldens books – Darien Empire of Salt: Book One. This is Iggulden’s first Fantasy novel, the rest being historical fiction, and I have to say that so far it’s a great read.
I like the way he set the characters up, building towards events that I’m guessing (I’m only half way through), will bring them all together. He drops little bits of background information in here and there, so the world slowly grows around the characters, leaving you wondering about the town of Darien’s history and how it compares to other fantasy settings. No doubt all will be revealed in time.
Looking ahead to 2019
I’ve got plenty to look forward to in 2019; it’s going to be an exciting year especially the first two or three months. I’m expecting three games to turn up during the first quarter of the year, all of which I backed on Kickstarter.
Uboot should be the first, and is the one I’m most excited about. As the title suggests this is a submarine game, and it is for 1-4 players. It also makes use of digital media, in the form of an app. Each player takes on an important role within the sub – Captain, First Officer, Navigator, or Chief Engineer – and carry out their duties, including assigning their men, within their area of responsibility. The app works in real time and along with being the enemy A.I, provides periscope views, Hydrophone, and even Enigma encoding. The 3D submarine looks great set up in the centre of the board, and really gives the game a strong presence on the tabletop.
Time of Legends: Joan of Arc is being split into two deliveries with the core game and some expansions being delivered at the start of the year and the other expansions coming along once production is complete. I didn’t go all in, but I did select some extra content, most of which will be in the later delivery. This is a story driven war-game, played on a board, and it comes with a lot of figures – with the extra content I ordered were talking around the 300 mark, so I’m going to get my work cut out with the painting!
The game features both historical campaigns as well as fantasy ones, many of which based upon the legends of the time. I’m quite apprehensive about this one, I don’t think it has been the greatest run kickstarter of all time, and I feel they should have nailed more of the gameplay down prior to running the campaign, as there have been quite a few changes along the road. So, we shall see how it all meshes together and hopefully there will be a solid game behind all the great miniatures.
The 7th Continent is at the other end of Kickstarter risks. As the game had previously been extremely successfully Kickstarted and this was to release new content – What goes up, must come down. Fortunately for me they had a pledge level to get the original core game, as you can’t purchase it retail.
This is a ‘choose your own adventure’ game that takes place on a board, well cards to be exact, and can be played either solo or cooperatively. I love the way the mechanisms work, and can’t wait to experience the game first hand – I’ve deliberately avoided watching any play through movies as I like to go in knowing as little as possible about what may be in store for me!
Also at the start of the year is Snodcon. Yes a con in Snowdonia… In the middle of February… 3 nights… In a mountaineers cottage… mad or what? It’s a small con, just 20 people, so should provide a friendly and warm atmosphere as everyone should get to know each other pretty quickly. I’m really looking forward to playing games I wouldn’t normally get the chance to play. I’m usually restricted to family and solo games, with the odd exception, but I’m hoping to take a bite out of a few more-involving Euro type games, as well as playing some of my favourites with a higher player count. Let’s just hope the weather remains sociable!
Another Kickstarter – Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon – should be hitting the doorsteps towards the last quarter of the year, if all goes to plan. This game became the 4th most backed Kickstarter board game, with people pledging just shy of £5,000,000 to make this happen, wow! The theme grabbed me straight away, and the more I delved into the campaign the more I liked it, and the way they have communicated with pledgers has been excellent. More on this game a little closer to its fulfilment.
Finally, I hope to share the progress I’ve made on my Role-Playing game, ‘All My Lives‘. The last few months I’ve been knocking around character generation, but it’s been a hard slog. I’ve been structuring my ideas and writing up some narrative, but then I have to leave it for a week or so before revisiting it. I can then see all the errors in how things will work and tie together – things that are easy to overlook when you’re immersed into it, ideas whirling around – I find it all to easy to miss the obvious!
So, That’s December out of the way, and it just leaves me to wish everyone a