New Year, New (and old) Games

There are a few things that I’m going to try to do this year.  I’m not sure I’d call them resolutions, just some personal goals.  Two of those things are tied directly to gaming, and they are to keep track of which games I play, and talk and post regularly about the games that I play.

So here we are on the second day of January, and I have some games to talk about.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a while is take games out to public places and play for a few hours.  Having Legends Family and Hobby Games is a great thing, as it always gives us a place to get together and play, but it’s nice to have a change of scenery sometimes, and it’s great to give people who wouldn’t go out of their way to come into a hobby gaming store a chance to see some great games being played.  Saturday, we delivered a copy of the new Dino Hunt dice game to both local coffee shops.  On Sunday, we went back to one of them, and spent our early afternoon playing Starship Catan.  A few people asked us about it, and it gave us a chance to talk about it and other games for a bit.  We had a great time with it, and it was Jamie’s first experience with Starship Catan.

On Tuesday, we decided to have a New Years Gaming Day at Legends, and had a few friends join us.  Jamie and I played Rivals for Catan while we waited for others to show up, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  We haven’t tried it with any of the eras, but that will be coming soon.

Over the holiday, I picked up a copy of Mission: Red Planet while visiting family up north.  We played two five player games of that, and while the first one took a bit, we got the hang of it pretty quick, and played a second game.  Jamie won the first game, and tied for first in the second.  It made us both realize how much we want a copy of Libertalia, though.  That’s going to have to be corrected very soon.

A friend of ours brought Jamie some maternity clothes, so she dropped out for our last game of the day.  Allen also had to go, so we only had three people by the time we got started.  Honestly, I wish I had waited til we had more players.  The game was Cosmic Encounter.  And while I can see how much fun it can be, only having 3 players really detracted from it.  I look forward to playing it again, but REALLY want at least 4 players before we do it again.  At least now we know what we’re doing, I think.  I have two different copies of Cosmic Encounter, the newest FFG printing, and the 2000 Avalon Hill version, which I got in a recent BGG auction.  We played the FFG version.

All in all it’s been a great week for games, and it’s not over yet.  I won’t get to play as many games this year, as we are expecting our first child (a daughter) in March.  But while I won’t get to play as often, I’m going to try very hard to make the most of the playing time I *do* have.

Things I want to play in the very near future (for the first time):  Game of Thrones 2nd Edition, Star Wars LCG, Battleground: Fantasy Warfare

Things I want to play again in the very near future:  Descent (campaign in progress), Warhammer: Invasion, Starship Catan, Mice and Mystics, Summoner Wars (If I can ever get a Jungle Elves deck), Mansions of Madness, Libertalia (I need a copy of this).

And to the handful of you who have been following my thoughts in the past year, thank you for reading.  I hope you find it interesting enough to keep coming back.

Family Game Day – Recap

It was kind of a last minute decision, to have a Family Game Day this weekend. We do them from time to time, but I usually try to give more notice. Even so, we had a great turnout for our Family Game Day this month.

I can’t speak for everything that got played, but I can talk about some of the things that I got to play today, starting with…

Indigo
I picked this game up nearly two months ago, and hadn’t gotten a chance to play it. It came in about the same time we added Flash Point Fire Rescue, and sadly, it kinda fell off my radar. We actually started playing this before we even opened the store today. We’re all fans of Tsuro, and this has a very similar feel, though I’d describe it as a bit more competitive. We had a great time with it, and we met a new (hopeful) gaming regular while playing it.

Tsuro
This came out so we could contrast the two for our new players. We introduced it to two new players.

The Great Dalmuti
I remember when this game first released. Even so, I’d still never played it. One of our new players came in to pick up sleeves for her old copy, and decided to pick up a new copy as well. So we all learned it, as well.

Gauntlet of Fools
Jeff brought in some of the games that he hasn’t had a chance to get to the table yet. He got Gauntlet of Fools during the kickstarter, so it was definitely time to check it out. I have to say, the kickstarter exclusive cards (The Armsmaster and Cleaver) are a dangerous combination together. I’ve heard some reviews claim that this only feels like half a game. While I can see that, I enjoyed this. We didn’t get to heavily into the boasting, but enjoyed trying to outlive one another in the dungeon.

Shadows Over Camelot – The Card Game
Another one that Jeff picked up recently, and hadn’t gotten to play yet. While I’ve had the original Shadows Over Camelot for months, I’ve never found the time to play it. It took us a little bit to get into the swing of the card game, and we suffered from a few distractions, but had a lot of fun. I’d been in the mood for a good traitor mechanic game, and we enjoyed this quite a bit. I’m not sure how well the bit about not talking whenever a Morgan card comes up, but it’s worth checking out again. Playing it did really put me in the mood for the theme, and since I’d still not gotten Shadows Over Camelot to the table, it was time for….

Shadows Over Camelot
I’m kinda irritated with myself for not breaking this out and playing it sooner. I *LOVED* this game. I think it might be our Tuesday Night game in the upcoming week. We had 5 players, and we managed to not have a traitor in our midst, and still only barely squeaked out a victory. I need to check a bit, and see how much information each player has to keep hidden about their cards. I’m really looking forward to getting this one out again. With luck, I’ll get Jamie to play, too.

We finished up the night with a few more games of The Great Dalmuti and Indigo. It was great meeting some new players, welcoming back some of our old ones we haven’t seen in a while, and generally having a good time.

Join us for a day of Family Gaming at International Game Day

The Knox County Public Library, Buttonmashers , and Legends Family and Hobby Games proudly present the International Game Day!

Join us at Adams Coliseum on Saturday, November 3. Discover new games, find new people to play games with, and have fun connecting with people.

Legends Family and Hobby Games will be on hand with several family games and board games for demonstration/play, and Buttonmashers and the Knox County Public Library will be hosting a Super Smash Bros tournament, as well as other electronic games.

 

Gencon 2012 Thoughts: Friday

Friday seemed to pass incredibly quickly.  We bisected our day in the exhibitor hall with a seminar by the producer of TableTop, which was a lot of fun.

Our first stop of the day was the Plaid Hat Games booth, where we snagged a demo table (which was technically closed, but we waited for someone to be avaliable) of…

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I’ve been looking forward to this since I heard of it.  I love dungeon crawl games, and I also love Dungeon Crawl games with a strong story element.  Mice and Mystics does that very well.  It has big tiles, with story bits that have you flipping the tiles as you tell the story.  If you’re not familiar with this game I highly recommend checking it out.  The models are beautifully sculpted, the gameplay is a lot of fun, and the experience and threat trackers involve a wheel of cheese.  What more can you want?  This was Jamie’s highlight of the convention, and it may have been mine, too.  Hopefully, I didn’t annoy the Plaid Hat guys too much, but they all tolerated me wonderfully.  Especially Mr. Bistro, who ran the demo for us and Jerry Hawthorne, the designer of the game.

We grabbed an early lunch and headed to the Tabletop event, where we heard some fun stories about the making of Tabletop, and failed to see the Elder Sign episode a week early (curses, technical difficulties).  From there we wandered the exhibit hall, and finished out the open hours with…

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I’ve had this for a while, and considering it’s both a cooperative game and Lord of the Rings, should have made it a no-brainer to get to the table with Jamie, but things had just kept that from happening.  We sat down at a 4 player demo, and had a lot of fun with it.  Since then, I’ve played it solo three times, and twice with another friend.  I plan to try to get it to the table again with Jamie very soon.

We also attended the “Damsels at Dusk” event, with our friend, and laughed almost the entire time.  Followed that up with dinner and a long visit to the Auction Center.

Coming up on Saturday:  Crowds.  Lots and lots of crowds.

Grixis Delver

Deck of the Week
Shannon Lindsey, August 21, 2012

Considering the widespread popularity and success of Delver of Secrets, it is time I looked at a deck that uses the buggy human. Also, I am long overdue for a discussion of tempo. Lastly, I got destroyed by another powerful card in the last round of my Friday night magic that deserves a healthy discussion, even though it is the most expensive card in standard right now, despite not being a planeswalker. This deck has all those things, and isn’t even that popular. Meet Grixis Delver.

[mtg_deck title="Grixis Delver"]
Creatures
4 Talrand, Sky Summoner
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Delver of Secrets

Artifacts
3 Runechanter’s Pike

Spells
4 Bonfire of the Damned
4 Mana Leak
4 Ponder
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Vapor Snag
4 Tragic Slip

Lands
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Sulfur Falls
3 Blackcleave Cliffs
8 Island
1 Swamp
1 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Phantasmal Image
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Surgical Extraction
3 Mental Misstep
1 Go for the Throat
2 Geth’s Verdict
1 Doom Blade
2 Smelt
[/mtg_deck]

The Delver Package

There are six cards that are universal to all standard Delver decks, no matter what flavor of Delver they are running. These five cards are Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, Mana Leak, Ponder, Gitaxian Probe, and Vapor Snag. First of all, if you haven’t already noticed, these are all blue cards. Even more important, they control the board in an early tempo style, by allowing a turn 1 Delver, followed with turn two mana leak if he flips, or a turn two Ponder and Vapor Snag to set up turn 3 flip if he doesn’t. Snapcaster’s job is to give an extra body, along with an extra dip at Vapor Snag or Mana Leak as the situation calls for. The beauty is that these six cards alone can knock an opponent’s life total low very quickly while stalling them to protect the Delver player. Successful Delver decks run cards that can help with this early tempo, or can achieve the last few points of damage when it stalls. Because of this, it must be paired with a powerful turn 3 or 4 threat that can finish the game. This version has a very strong late game because of the other four cards in the main deck.

Card 1: Tragic Slip

Tragic Slip, the only main deck black card, is a critical piece because of its dual purpose. At a single black mana, it can be used early to kill a one toughness threat in the same way Gut Shot does in other builds, but unlike gut shot, it can kill big threats late game, via a chump block to engage its morbid ability.

Card 2: Runechanter’s Pike

Runechanter’s Pike is fairly common in Delver builds because of the inherently high count of instants and sorceries in any Delver design. The extra power, combined with the first strike, makes any creature carrying this not only dangerous, but an engine to engaging the morbid on tragic slip, which in turn makes the pike bigger. Speaking of cards that get better with high instant and sorcery counts…

Card 3: Talrand, the Sky Summoner

This guy shouldn’t be attacking unless they are tapped out with an empty field, yet he is the single biggest creature threat this deck offers. The reason is because he makes armies of flying drake tokens using the same cards that make Delver flip and Runechanter’s Pike huge. Right now, most decks that run him like pumping the drakes out with free spells and Phyrexian mana, but this build doesn’t play the desperation game with him nearly so much. Mostly this is because even though he is the biggest creature threat, he isn’t the biggest overall threat. Gee, it would be nice for my opponent not to have any creatures when attack…

Card 4: Bonfire of the Damned

This card is epically amazing, and there is no reason this bad boy can’t be paired with Delver. This card is unique in that it can take a losing board state, and completely swing it the opposite direction. There is also a nice synergy with tragic slip, if the opponent has a single creature in their field of multiple creatures that is too big to Bonfire. Delver player’s looking for the answer to the last few points of damage, here is the answer.

The Land Base

Three colors can be tricky right now, but this land setup does a decent job, enabling max tempo turns one through three, and since Talrand is a late threat, if the fourth land is tapped, while bad, isn’t a total disaster either. Because of this, the fastlands were preferable where available.

Sideboard

In this deck, Phantasmal Image’s first job is to kill legendary creatures, especially Geist of St. Traft. Tormod’s Crypt stops graveyard decks. Surgical Extraction breaks combo decks. Mental Misstep shines in the Delver mirror match. Doom Blade, Geth’s Verdict, and Go for the Throat are specialized kill for the times slip won’t be good enough. Finally, Smelt is to destroy Swords.

Conclusion

This version of Delver, while not having the super fast clock of the blue-white version, should have a much better late game and can pull wins in situations other Delvers can’t. I welcome anyone who wants to try this design to give it a test run, and let me know what happens.

GenCon 2012 Thoughts, Thursday

We went up Wednesday night for the Best Four Days in Gaming.  I’ve been several times in the past, but I’ll be honest, I had more fun this year than I ever have before.

First, my wife and I have both lost a significant amount of weight since our last visit.  We were much more able to stay active, and not wear out, and just downright enjoy the visit.  And despite the recent development of us being expecting (she’s at 11 weeks), she didn’t fatigue nearly as often as we worried she would.

Highlights! Mice and Mystics!  Libertalia!  Wil Wheaton!  the new Star Wars Roleplaying Game!  Many many other things.

There’s really too much to list in one post, which is why there will likely be several updates.  I think this post will be about Thursday.

Jason and Jamie at GenCon 2010 with Wil Wheaton

Jason and Jamie at GenCon 2010 with Wil Wheaton

Overall, we got to see a lot of great things on Thursday, with my very first stop being the AEG booth to pick up a bag and a cheap copy of Nightfall and one of their comically oversized bags.  We then made a beeline for the Media Guest of Honor booth to get some stuff autographed by Wil Wheaton.  Two

Jason and Jamie at GenCon 2012 with Wil Wheaton

Jason and Jamie at GenCon 2012 with Wil Wheaton

years ago, we saw Wil at GenCon just before our wedding.  He gave us some great advice then, and we got our picture taken with him.  We gave him some of the dice we had made for our wedding, and got a new picture taken with him.  As always, he was super-nice, and talked to us at length about Tabletop, and some of the things they have coming down the road for retailers.  We also got to talk a bit about the Leverage RPG

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Infinite City
Somehow, I hadn’t heard of this.   It’s a pretty simple tile placement game from AEG.  As you play tiles and place your markers on it, various effects will change the play of the game.  Draw more tiles, force tile placement, etc.  The first player to run out of markers triggers the endgame.  We had fun demoing it, and my wife snuck in the win.  I may pick up a copy soon, but I’m not in a huge hurry for it.

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Netrunner
Though I had Netrunner cards back in the late 90s, I never got to play.  It wasn’t popular enough in this area to generate a following, sadly.  I enjoyed the asymmetric method of play, and look forward to playing this on both sides of the board.  I look forward to the official release of this, as I didn’t get to the FFG booth in the first seven minutes of the convention.

Jamie had to work from the hotel room for a bit, and I had an event to run (kind of), so we didn’t get to enjoy the Exhibit Hall much more on Thursday, though we did manage to sneak in a game of…

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Summoner Wars
Oddly, I’ve never been able to get Jamie to sit down and play Summoner Wars with me, though she’s wanted to.  We were hoping to get into a demo of Mice and Mystics, so we sat down to get her a quick how-to on Summoner Wars.  She played the Jungle Elves vs my Mercenaries, and outmaneuvered  me.  She enjoyed it enough that I might be able to get her to play with me again (she doesn’t generally like playing competitive games against me, though she likes gaming in general).

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Snake Oil
This was an unexpected one for us, as well.  We attended the Dice Tower dinner, and our table-mates had picked up a copy, so we tried it.  Snake Oil is an Out of the Box Game that is similar to Apples to Apples.  The judge is a certain type of person (Police Officer, Babysitter, etc) and the other players choose two single-word cards from their hand, and then try to sell the judge a product whose name is made up of the two words.  A great party game, with some room for easy expansion.

After dinner, I wandered the board game hall and ended up at the Pick-Up and Play room, which was easily my favorite place outside of the exhibit hall (the Retailer lounge and the Auction house were tied for second).

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Libertalia
This game slipped under my radar entirely.  I think I heard it mentioned on a podcast or two, but the description wasn’t enough to do it justice.  This is the game I enjoyed most that I had NO intent of trying.  There are other and better reviews of it floating around, so I’ll leave that to them, but I’ll give a quick synopsis.  Libertalia is a 2-6 player game where each player sends out one crewmember to collect booty a day for six days.  The other players (pirates) will also be doing the same, and each card has one or more effects that might affect other crewmembers, the booty, or the dubloon supply of one of the players.  The game plays over 3 weeks (rounds) and is really easy to pick up, and a LOT of fun.

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Divinare
A fun quick game I played with some of the same people I played Libertalia with.  Divinare is a prediction/guessing game where you have a deck of 36 cards, with cards of 4 different colors, and 3 different quantities of each color.  Each round you will play with 24 of those 36 cards, and your goal is to predict/wager on how many of each of those cards are actually being used.   We enjoyed it, and I was able to get Jamie to the Asmodee section on Sunday to try both of those, but I’ll tell that tale when I make it to Sunday.

Coming up Friday: Tabletop, Mice and Mystics, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

 

Selesnya Champions

Deck of the Week
Shannon Lindsey, August 14, 2012

After a long break from writing, due mostly to internet issues, I am back with not a hypothetical deck, but one I have actually been using and won 80% of my matches with so far. If I still had a major tournament close before rotation, I would take this deck, not only because it would be unexpected, but because it has a tendency to roll opponents with major tournament archetypes.

Selesnya Champions

The White and Green champions deck is an aggro deck that utilizes the synergy between the Champions of the Parish and Lambholt with cards that provide multiple creatures and also with cards that give +1/+1 counters. I give it the guild name because of the surprisingly high number of tokens it creates, combined with the heavy religion theme of the creatures.

[mtg_deck title="Selesnya Champion""]

Creatures
3 Hero of Bladehold
3 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
4 Champion of Lambholt
4 Grand Abolisher
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Ulvenwald Tracker
3 Fiend Hunter
4 Doomed Traveler

Spells
3 Increasing Devotion
4 Gather the Townsfolk

Land
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Gavony Township
8 Plains
4 Forest

Sideboard
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Celestial Purge
3 Corrosive Gale
3 Ranger’s Guile
[/mtg_deck]

Every Card Has A Role

This decklist is actually very tight, as every card plays an important roll in reaching victory. The cards fit four roles; multi-creature, frustration, pumps, and Must-Kill. Part of the success of this deck is that the best pump and frustration cards are also must-kills. I also avoided Razorverge Thicket, because this deck can afford an enter tapped land turn 1 or 2, but not on turn 4 or 5.

Multi-Creature cards

The first role is filled by cards that give me multiple weenies, that can both pump the champions, as well as become deadly by receiving +1/+1 counters. These are Doomed Traveler, Gather the Townsfolk, and Increasing Devotion. The cards also provide fast recovery against board sweeping, as the travelers become spirits, and Devotion can be flashed back.

Frustration

The Frustration cards are Fiend Hunter, Grand Abolisher, and Ulvenwald Tracker. Since they are all creatures, they also pump the champions when they enter the battlefield and can receive +1/+1 counters. Fiend Hunter is simple creature removal; he enters, and they go away. Grand Abolisher is a bit more specialized and subtle. He is primarily meant to derail tempo and control strategies by preventing them from casting or activating on my turn, which is spectacular against both Delver decks and Control decks. Ulvenwald Tracker is removal via the fight mechanic, and also counts as a must-kill, because if he remains on the field, he can snipe an entire opposing field over many turns.

Pump

There are two cards that function in the role of +1/+1 pump. The first is the land Gavony Township. On turn five, when this land can be activated, I frequently have a field of many creatures, and the ability to make them bigger any turn I don’t cast anything is a huge boon. This land’s dual role is why I ran 24 land instead of 22. In this deck, there is a lot I can do with extra mana in the mid and late game. The other pump is Mikaeus, the Lunarch. Since he can spread +1/+1 love to other creatures, or make himself bigger, he also counts as a must-kill, especially since once he is on the field, he no longer needs mana to pump other creatures.

And a Lot of Must-Kill

Probably the biggest reason this deck is so successful is the large number of cards that can end the game if they aren’t killed quickly. Mikaeus and Ulvenwald Tracker have already been discussed, but the other eleven are the creatures that really do the damage most of the time. Champion of the Parish may be the second best one drop in standard after Delver of Secrets. The ability to get bigger from other humans entering the battlefield can’t be overstated, especially with so many human tokens coming in. Champion of Lambholt is a green improvement to Parish, not only getting larger on any creature instead of just humans, but also by preventing opposing creatures that are smaller from blocking, giving the deck outstanding evasive capability. Finally, Hero of Bladehold’s place as a powerful win condition is already well established, and the fact that it spawns more creatures to pump Lambholt along with its Battle Cry ability is just gravy.

The Sideboard of More Frustration

All of the sideboard is meant to more acutely frustrate decks by improving the frustration element in games 2 and 3. Thalia’s enhanced frustration of tempo is well known, and the uses of Oblivion Ring, Celestial Purge, and Corrosive Gale are very self explanatory. Ranger’s Guile is my favorite to actually get to use. It frustrates removal by not only making the spells miss, but also making the target bigger for a turn, which is devastating in a deck with so many threats already.

Conclusion: My 5-step Program

Step one: lay Cavern of Souls naming human, cast Champion of the Parish
Step two: lay Plains and cast Gather the Townsfolk. Attack for 3.
Step three: lay Sunpetal Grove and cast Champion of Lambholt.
Step four: lay Forest and cast Hero of Bladehold.
Step five: lay Gavony Township and cast Increasing Devotion. Attack for 34. Win game.

See you in the game store.