A Brief Interlude – A Digital Dalliance!

Interlude

“A pause between the acts of a play.”

Or in this case, between posts!

Being under lockdown, as much of the world is, I thought I would have been turning posts out left right and centre. I also thought that number of games I’d be playing would shoot up, as having enough time on ones hands is often one of the limitations in getting games to the table. But I appear to have been wrong in both cases – as my wife would probably add, me being wrong is nothing new!

As far as producing posts goes, I don’t think much has changed from my usual schedule. I’m currently in the middle of writing a review on Scythe, which, as those who have read my reviews would expect, is proving to be fairly lengthy!

Gaming, on the other hand, has proved to be somewhat elusive. My gaming table is in the garage, where I’m preparing to fit its long awaited legs. This isn’t as simple as just screw them on and have done, though. Firstly, I need to check that the wood I’ve put aside for the task will actually take a stain to get it to a good match. It then needs cutting, shaping, sanding, staining, and finally, fitting to the table top.

So, why has this impacted on my gaming? Well, without my gaming table top, which used to live in the sitting room, balanced on a small, old, coffee table, we only have the main dining table to use. And of course, as this is in the kitchen, it’s more often than not in use.

There’s also a sense of lethargy set in. My daughter is doing her schooling at home, working quite hard for much of the day, and my wife is a key worker – a teacher – and whilst she isn’t working at school everyday, she still does a fair amount of work from home. So, when it comes to their relaxation, they just don’t share my enthusiasm for wanting to play games – which I fully appreciate.

I have, therefore, turned to my computer for entertainment. Now, before anyone jumps on my back, complaining that my ethos is all about tabletop games, let me expand a little.

Here’s a list of the games I’ve just purchased through Steam: Scythe, Terraforming Mars, Small World 2, The Lord of The Rings Adventure Card Game, Twilight Struggle, and XenoShyft, recognise them?

Yep, they’re all digital adaptations of board games.

I have yet to try them all, but I’m finding it a great way to get my gaming fix. I don’t have to clear everything from the dining table to make space, and I don’t have to stop my game and pack away as another meal looms. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is just a convenience thing, and whenever the chance arises I get a game out on the table, and occasionally manage to persuade the family to join me. Once the legs are on my games table, then normal service will resume.

Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on the few digital games I’ve played so far.

Scythe

This was the first game I downloaded, mainly because I’m writing the review and I really wanted to play it to death, which I can honestly say that I think I have!

The digital version is very good, and it’s just like playing the board game… almost!

Its main disadvantage, for me at least, is the ability to quickly gauge what the other players are up to. At the table top you can take a glance at their player boards to get an idea of what they’re plans are, and where they are in comparison to you. This is crucial when it comes to timing your end game strategy, as you want to be in the best position to rack those coins in under final scoring.

The board game Automa is pretty fiddly when you first start using it, as you have to learn the way it identifies which unit to move and where to move it, but I believe it does give you a greater challenge than that of the digital version. After about a dozen plays I found that I had to have the difficulty set at its highest, and play at max player count, all in order to get a fairly even game. Of course, it does give you the option to play online against other people, but so far I haven’t felt the need to do this, mainly because I never know if I’ll be at the computer long enough to finish a game!

The biggest advantages are that I’m up and playing within a minute of opening the laptop, and I can save my game halfway through, making it easy to play whenever I have the time.

Twilight Struggle

I’ve always wanted to play this game, but this type of two player game would rarely get a look in with those I play with, and so, when I saw there was a digital version, I jumped at the chance.

It’s defiantly a struggle!

The game covers the rising tensions of the Cold War, and players vie over trying to influence the various continents and their countries. Scoring is carried out at regular intervals throughout the game, as players draw scoring cards into their hands, with final scoring coming after turn 10, if the game lasts that long – if the DEFCON state hits 1, it’s game over man!

I’ve played about half-dozen games so far, and been soundly thrashed in them all. This is one of those games that, despite being relatively easy to play, are very difficult to master.

To become even moderately good at this game you have to know the cards. The cards are broken into three sets – Early War, Mid War, Late War – and these become available as the game progresses. Cards can be used in a variety of ways, such as to place influence in a country, to carry out a coup, or for the actual cards event. All the cards have an historical connection, so it also helps knowing a little about the period.

The biggest headache comes when you have to play cards that will aid the opposition. When, and how you use these is a skill all of its own, and one I’m still trying to figure out. For the majority of the cards, once its event has been played, it gets removed from the game. So, by playing cards beneficial to the opposition, but at a time when they’d do the least amount of damage, gets them thrown out and avoids their use at a more critical point.

It really is a clever system, but one that greatly benefits the experienced player. As a newbie to the game it was easy to feel overwhelmed, but by sticking at it, learning some of the cards, I now think I have a chance of not being totally crushed anymore – fingers crossed!

I must say that the experience, whilst solid and enjoyable, isn’t as easy to play in digital format as I imagine it would be on the table. I say this simply because I find it easier to peruse a hand of cards that I’m actually holding, rather than having to select a card on screen to read it. A minor niggle, and one that will dissipate with regular play.

The Lord of The Rings Adventure Card Game.

This is another game I’ve always wanted to play, as I love anything Lord of The Rings. I’ve always held back because it’s a living card game, and incurs the associated costs of following such a game. In digital format, though, I haven’t got to keep chasing new packs to expand the game, as it comes with a whole load of content built in.

So far I’ve only played the tutorial, and first impressions are good. I think the format plays well, and it plays fast, faster than I imagine it would on the table top, as the computer takes care of all the bookkeeping.

The biggest plus, though, is the deck building side of things. I found it so much easier and quicker to build a deck on the computer than I would have doing it manually – I’m using Arkham Horror: LCG as a comparison.

I like to select an initial deck based on feel, and then flick through it removing cards and adding others, and gradually refining it, and this really suited my methods, making me more inclined to spend time and effort on building a good, solid deck.

I usually start off with good intentions, but as more cards get added through expansions, I find it difficult to motivate myself to improve my deck properly, and just throw some of the old cards out to make place for the new.

But on the computer it’s so much easier to move through, and compare, old cards and new, and see how they may work together – I liked it!


Anyway, that’s as far as I’ve got with my digital dalliance, I suppose I’d better get back to writing my Scythe review now.

Stay safe, stay at home, and play more games!

13 thoughts on “A Brief Interlude – A Digital Dalliance!

  1. That is pretty neat about getting your hands on the digital versions of board games you liked. I’ve avoided playing D&D online so far, seeing it as something that I do as an in-person experience, but with the situation being what it is, I’m toying with actually taking the plunge. For now though, perhaps I have some of the same lethargy you were talking about and haven’t acted on that yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. D&D online should be great fun. I was listening to the Dragon Talk Podcast, which is the official D&D Podcast, and they were talking about this very subject. There’s a whole host of things available to the DM to make things more interesting, and if you use something like Zoom, then it has the handy feature of being able to talk to just one player whilst muting the rest – a great way to pass hidden information.
      It would be good to hear how you get on, if you go for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it does sound fun, though I have to admit a big part of D&D to me is the stuff that happens out of combat. I’m skeptical that online games are going to work for me without the vibe of being in the same room with people. But I suppose one isn’t really out anything trying and seeing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know what you mean. When I used to DM for groups I found that most of the enjoyment came from watching and listening to the players, and how they reacted to one another. I think you’d lose that side of things playing online – it isn’t going to suit everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s very true. I guess one never knows though until one checks it out. To be honest, the thing that is keeping me from doing it so far is laziness in learning to use the technology. It is much easier to just paint and do other hobbies, and get back to rpg’s when things are more settled.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Lol, I know what you mean.
        I’ve just set up a Zoom account for my daughter’s singing lessons, which I was a bit loath to do, but when it was up and running my first though was, ‘This would be great for online gaming.”
        Still, I doubt I’ll ever work up the enthusiasm to put it into practice… it’s too much like hard work!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a common senae approach to me! Might as well continue to enjoy your gaming! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right, John, we’ve all got to make the most of a pretty rotten situation – it beats staring at the goggle box all day!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. True! And of course I did mean to put “common sense”! I’m assuming you seen this link on Azazel’s page to a free Frostgrave download, but in case you haven’t https://therenaissancetroll.blogspot.com/2020/03/frostgrave-is-free.html. Thought it might be right up your street!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, thanks John, I had seen the link on Azazel’s page, and I’ve already downloaded the free ruleset and scenarios. I’ve yet to take a good look at them, but I know a little about the game anyway, and you’re right, it should be right up my street!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Completely understandable – and credit to your wife as well. Too often people think teachers start at 9 and finish at 3 with an hour for lunch and don’t do much in between when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Azezel.
      I was one of those people until I married Sue. I was, and still am, amazed at just how hard she works.

      Like

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