Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interview with Xia's designer, Cody Miller

Xia: Legends of a Drift System is a Kickstarter that immediately grabbed my attention.  The modular board immediately appealed to me because I love games with some variable setup.  Then the ship models jumped out at me as being immaculately produced.  As a whole, the prototype is one of the most impressive I've seen.  Then I saw the complete rules were already available.  Reading them over gave me a fantastic sense of how to play the game, without even having the components in front of me!  It wasn't long before I desperately wanted a copy of Xia.

I was also fascinated by the story behind Xia.  So I decided to ask the designer of Xia, Cody Miller, a few questions about himself, and his game.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

X-Wing Review

X-Wing was released at Gencon in 2012, and was designed by a whole load of people at Fantasy Flight Games.  I was there for it's release, but I actually went out of my way to avoid it.  Walking into the dealers hall, the line around the Fantasy Flight Games booth went on for as far as the eye could see.  Then if you followed it, it went around a corner, and off into the horizon.  I knew two things seeing this game.  First, "I don't like miniature games", which is a thing I've told myself since childhood for the sake of my wallet.  Second, that if this game ever got it's hooks in me, it would be agony attempting to find the models I wanted in stock.

I successfully avoided X-Wing for 6 months, until PAX East 2013.  There I was looking for a game to join, and happened across a guy at a table with a mountain of X-Wing stuff.  He was alone, and looking to play with someone.  Then we made eye contact, and I knew right then, my wallet was forfeit.

I'm going to structure this review on a few assumptions.  I'm going to assume you will be playing the 100 pt squad building game.  I'm aware the core set has all sorts of scenarios and rules about 31 point squads.  But who are we kidding?  Once you get ahold of this game, your imagination will run wild.  You'll fantasize about what it's like to have Boba Fett chase down the Millennium Falcon.  Or what would you do with a full squad of 4 X-Wings?  Then the rest will be history.  On your credit card statement.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quarriors Review

Quarriors was released in 2011 by Wizkids, and was designed by Eric M Lang and Mike Elliot.  Mike Elliot may be chiefly known because of Thunderstone, and Eric M Lang has designed numerous of my favorite games.  Namely Chaos in the Old World, Warhammer Invasion and Star Wars: The Card Game.

I discovered Quarriors at Gencon in 2011.  It was absolutely dominating the show.  Everywhere you looked there was Quarriors.  A friend I traveled with who is an aspiring game designer silently cursed when I told him someone had done a deck building game but with dice.  He'd been slowly cooking up a similar idea and didn't appreciate that someone beat him to the punch.

Whatever resentment he may have harbored didn't stick around long as I, and nearly every person I met, played complete games of Quarriors at the demo booth, and then quickly purchased our own copies.  For the rest of the show, it was a constant question of "Your copy or mine?" whenever there was downtime to play a game.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Runewars Organization

My article about long setup times a few weeks ago was really a wake up call.  Setting up Runewars to take the pictures for that article took forever.  It was really important to me to have the before and after of a messy box being transformed into a beautiful play area.  But true to the theme of the article, it took forever.  And once I had Runewars set up, I wanted so badly to play it.  Sadly it was 1 am around that time.  But I decided at that moment that I was going to tame the chaos that exists inside the Runewars coffin.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Roll Through the Ages Review

Roll Through the Ages was designed by Matt Leacock.  It came out in 2008, and is currently published by Gryphon Games.  I'd heard about it for years, but always dismissed it as looking too boring.  The game looked like little more than a wooden pegboard and a spreadsheet.  But still, everything I'd heard had been positive.  So when I saw a copy in the library at PAX East 2013, I decided to give it a go.  Boy was I surprised by what I found!

Roll Through the Ages is a dice game where you will be building up your civilization over about 5 to 10 turns.  It contains elements of push your luck, as well as some cleverly abstracted civilization building and economic mechanics.  One thing that shocked me, is that being a fan of Pandemic, I had no idea the same designer also worked on Roll Through the Ages.  They couldn't be more different games.  I can't think of a single similarity among them.  Between Pandemic and Forbidden Island, I wasn't aware that Matt Leacock had that sort of range.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics Review

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics was released in 2010 by GMT Games and was designed by Richard Borg.  It was the 4th game in the Commands & Colors series I've played, if you count Battles of Westeros.  I snatched it up in 2012 because I was worried about it going out of print like so many of the Commands & Colors: Ancients releases have.  I wasn't intending to play it immediately, nor did I have much interest in the Napoleonic era.  I just craved more GMT based Commands & Colors.

But still, I stickered the blocks, I read the rules, and then I was dying to play it.  Then I started reading up on some Napoleonic history.  Before I knew it I had completely shelved Ancients (for the time being), so I could play through all the scenarios in this game.  It is remarkable to me how relatively minor rule changes, over top a strong set of core mechanics, can completely alter the character of a game.  Napoleonics plays almost identically to Ancients, but with enough chrome tweaked to reflect an entirely different epoch.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Importance of Setup Time

In my group, there are two leading factors that determine whether a game gets played.  How long does it take to set up, and how hard is it to learn?  I can't really say which one takes precedence over the other.  But today I'm going to talk about set up time.

I want to play it, but not that badly.

Many games in my group have fallen into the trap of being fun, but not quite fun enough to justify how much work goes into setting them up.

I'm supposed to turn this...into this?!

Runewars has fallen into this trap.  As much as I long to play it, the extended setup time just kills our enthusiasm for the game.  Battles of Westeros suffered the same fate.  I was teaching a friend of mine to play it one night, and she was watching Hockey as I was setting it up.  Two periods later she was wondering if I was done yet.  I ended up trading away Battles of Westeros when I got the much easier to set up Commands & Colors: Ancients.