Cats in Tanks…That Would Be THE Game For Us

The point of reading rules is to one day play the game, right? I certainly hope so because over the past week I have been reading a lot of rules. Since cleaning the library/office/gameroom and sorting the games into Go, Keep, and We’ve Never Played This Piles someone has to read the rules for Never Played This Pile. That someone is me.

Plus, I have other games that we do play that have rules that need to get read. One of my roles around here is teacher of games. Teacher of games comes with the lofty sub-roles of researcher of games, purchaser of games, piler of gamers, and eventually teacher of games. I take these roles semi-seriously.

Researcher of Games is the most fun. Taking into account the likes and dislikes of each family member, such as our girl loves games with tanks, but hates games where she has to build the pieces, I know I can be relatively certain if the game has tanks that I or our boy won’t mind building she will enjoy the game. Another factor, current interests around the house, for whatever reason around here diseases that wipe out humanity or humanity is attempting to wipe out is a current trend, perhaps having a pharmacist in the house pimping flu shots has something do with that. Cats or cute animals are also always possible. Thus, the day I find a game with cats driving easy to assemble tanks our girl and everyone else will be very happy indeed.

Other factors during researching games, replayability. How many times will we play a game before the game ends up on the shelf, is an important consideration. Unfortunately, other than legacy games which have a built in number of games, determining replayability is a crap shoot, aided by free rules online (if available), reviews, and years of experience. Suffice to say even with everything inline there are games that looked great for us and were total crap.

Purchaser of Games is the most serious role. Games are expensive.  I try to avoid paying full price if possible. You should to. Maybe one day games will come down in price to make them not only affordable but desirable to purchase. As it is, shopping around is a must.

What do I do with games when they arrive home? Toss them into a pile. Not the best method, explaining how we have a large pile of games that we have Never Played. Something we are working on.

Teacher of Games, I read the rules, I break out the pieces, and I teach the games to the family. Most of the time I enjoy the role. After reading the rules I generally want to teach the game to others. Lately though I am attempting to get the children to learn the rules and teach them to us. This is important to being a good gamer. Good gamers can teach games to other people, spreading the joy of playing games to others.

All of which leads me to where I started, I have read the rules to six games, mostly disease related and mostly with similar rules, and I am hoping that we play them before I catch the flu…guess that pharmacist has more influence on games than I thought. 🙂



We Have A Game Issue

I’m hoping this is a local problem. I hope in other parts of the States and World this problem does not exist. Keep in mind I made this sound big, but it’s not. What do gamers do when they have games they no longer want? My hope would be that they give them away, sell, them, or even better there is a store that takes unwanted games in trade or whathaveyou.

Around here there is nothing.

There are stores for DVD’s, music, video games, clothing, and so on. If you, like us, have board, role playing, and card games other than Magic the Gathering your recourse for unwanted games is to ask if friends want them, see if the local gaming group wants them, sell on Ebay or whatever sell site, or do like we have for a long time sit on them, watch them gather dust, and ponder how your back will be after another move.

Friends don’t want the games, the local gaming group is rather snobbish about games, Ebay is more a pain than a boon, and we are tired of sitting on them. After a move where a gaming cabinet ended up in the library we decided enough was enough and went through our games. We set up two and a half tables, brought out all of our games, and began sorting.

Each person was allotted a keep, go, and never played pile.

Surprisingly, we agreed on 98% of the go pile. A pile that kept growing and growing. There were games that everyone despised-Robotech RPG Tactics, Oregon Trail-there were games that were one off, meaning you play it one or two times and that is all there is to the game, and there were games that we liked a lot, but have not played for years because some other game came along and did the original game better.

The keep pile is an assortment of games that everyone agreed on such as Pandemic and games that one or more of us had to keep, for now, because cats. Yes, if a game involved cats it likely stayed, thankfully those are all small games. We have yet to find a large cat game.

What caught all of us off guard, the number of games that one or more, often all of us, have never played. How is it possible to own games that you have not played? If you are us, you buy games on sale or that you really find interesting, get home put them on the shelf and well…forget about them.

Which brings us to today and the next few weeks, maybe months. The go games are bagged up and heading to Good Will. Yes, Good Will. I have been on a “if nobody wants this and I cannot easily get value out of this, donate it kick.” If you happen to live where we are or nearby travel to Good Will in a few days for board games…that is if Good Will does anything with them.

Meanwhile, we have several stacks of games we have not played, which you will end up reading about, starting with the “Disease-friend or foe” a selection of games revolving around curing a disease or being a disease.

Games We Play: Imperial Settlers

A few months ago our boy picked out Imperial Settlers by Portal Games and we just played our first game. He picked out the game because you can play as the Egyptians, he has a big thing for ancient Egypt.

Imperial Settlers is a card game where each player plays as one of four civilizations-Barbarians, Romans, Egyptians, and Japanese. The goal to score the more victory points. Victory points are accumulated via card actions. Simple enough.

Each player has a center board that represents their civilization. Divided into three areas-production, features, and actions cards are played on either side of the board and represent the various actions a player can take or receives. Such as, cards in the production row produce goods at the beginning of a turn for use during the turn. Feature cards are long term such as storage of goods or do X and get X. Action cards require the player to do something to get something, such as pay X to get X.

Players have access to two types of cards, faction and common. Faction cards are specific to that faction and common cards are in a central draw pile for everyone. Fundamentally the only difference between the two is that most faction cards require you to discard a card in play to use. To put either type of card into play, a player pays the build cost, typically an amount of wood, stone, or people, then places the card in the appropriate row and has immediate access to the card unless a production card. Production cards activate at the beginning of a turn.

There are five rounds to a game. Players perform each of the phases together starting with drawing cards. At the start of each round players draw one faction card. Then the first player (first player token passes each round) draws common cards, laying them out for all to see. The first player chooses one, then the next, and so on. Then a second round of common cards is drawn, only the last player chooses first and the order is reversed.

Next up, gather resources from the faction card, production cards, and deals. Deals are an interesting mechanic. Pay a food to turn a card into your hand with the deal symbol into a permanent addition to your faction. For example, I have a card that has the deal, make one food. I pay the cost, one food, put the card underneath my faction card with the deal showing and at the beginning of each turn I get a food.

The action phase where players take turns performing one action. When a player passes they are done for the action phase. When all players pass the action phase is over. Actions are build, deals, raze (essentially sacrifice a card in your hand or ANOTHER player’s card that is in play to get resources), take an action on a card in play, trade people for goods (need a good or have excess people turn in two for any one resource or a card).

Our first game went fast. The biggest hiccup, our girl refused to listen to my advice (and the game’s advice) not to play the Japanese as they are the most complex out of the box. She had to work extra hard to get going, I feel if she had attacked she would have done better, but for our first game nobody wanted to attack, focus solely on seeing how the cards interacted.

The one thing all of us noticed was card draw determines the flow of the game. For our first game the cheap cards, did not appear until round 3. This made for a very non-productive first and second turn. With a better mix of drawn cards the game would have been exciting and interesting throughout.

Despite that we had enough fun to give it another try or two. Rules are easy. Play is easy. Overall a good first game.

One Turn, Six Hours A Learning Experience

Build, paint, and play that was the plan for the weekend. Build, paint, and play Warhammer 40k. Our girl had a great idea for a girls vs boys game. Excellent, except for a few things.

  • The players with the most experience, myself and our boy would be on one side.
  • The players with the largest armies, again myself and our boy, on the same side.

Other than those things the only other issue, the same issue we keep running into because our printer/scanner is not the best we flip through the indexes when we need to refer to a unit’s stats. This happens often. For our boy and I this is less of an issue because we have played a lot of games with our respective armies. For everyone else, problematic.

Building and painting went well. I mean, I finished another unit of Death Guard and Nurgle demons. I even painted a Demon Prince for Barb’s army; that makes at least one unit painted by me for each player. Our boy painted a unit or two of orks. Everyone else, not so much. Barb did finish her Hell Drake and it looks great. I doubt there will be another Hell Drake. Watching her paint and assemble the model showed me that I don’t want to deal with hassle. Shannon worked on her Tau, fiddly models, that look great, but make me really glad I am not building an army of them.

Game Day: The table is a mix of buildings and deathworld forest. Objective and Twist cards drawn from Open War.

  • Boys Objective Card: Each side designates a figure that is the courier, kill the opposing courier and win.
  • Girls Objective: Turn 3 a meteor crashes into the warzone, control the meteor at the end of turn 5 and win.

The Twist cards were uninspiring as there were already two objectives (we play slightly differently with each team having an objective instead of one objective for both teams) and there was only one psyker.

Set up, as expected, took a while as there were five armies to deploy. However, as I watched I removed my army to make the sides closer to even. Plus this left me to flip through the books and offer advice to both sides. Having someone to flip through stat books did allow players to focus. Still our goal is to have an easier way to refer to stats during a game.

Boys Side: Our boy’s entire ork army minus his plane and helicopter.

Girls Side: An Imperial Guard force of a Leman Russ, Chimera, and 25 infantry. A Slaanesh force of a Demon Prince, Hell Drake, and 10 Chaos Space Marines. A Tau force of a Devilfish, a Stealth team, a Battlesuit Team, a Warlord, and 20 some Tau.

Based on appearances, our boy should win handily. Based on objectives he should lose because his courier was in the middle of the board; their behind a building. Opening turn, girls get first turn. Barb descends upon the unit covering our boy’s courier inflicting heavy damage; this was the best their side got during turn 1.

Our girl couldn’t see much and didn’t move much. In fact her Leman Russ was the only thing of hers that moved and then missed most of the time. Shannon’s Tau looked and sounded fearsome.  Unfortunately no matter how many troops you have, no matter how many bonuses to hit, and rerolls you get shitty die rolls are still shitty die rolls and Shannon saw more than anyone’s fair share.

At the end of their turn, roughly 20 orks were dead or fled the field. Then the green surge happened. Our boy tied up most of the Tau in hand to hand, which eliminated their ability to shoot, the demon prince was killed by his dreadnaught, and the Leman Russ locked down by a Battlewagon.

Then the game ended. Not because a courier had died, but for the simple reason 6 hours had passed from start to the end of turn 1. If everyone had more experience playing the game would have gone a lot faster and with time this will happen. Until then slower games, but much smaller. 🙂

Gaming Stories 2, Bolian Death Dance

I can be a pain in the ass. I know this. People who know me know this. Me being a pain in the ass is one of the reasons why I run role playing games instead of playing in them. I have yet to find a person who can run a role playing well enough that I am interested and not bored. I have a very low threshold for losing interest…does the adventure have a “follow the bouncing ball” element, bored; are the non-player characters stereotypes and not interesting, bored; does it take too long to get back to the  players i.e. game master monologing, bored. Get the idea. Knowing all of this I warn people who want to run games.

Steve is or maybe now was a Star Trek Fan. He put other Star Trek fans to shame with the length and breath of his knowledge and fandom. Going so far as to offer toasts in Klingon during parties…before he was drunk. My knowledge of Star Trek up to this point limited to the television shows and movies. Everyone else in the group, less than that. Still, Steve was eager.

I warned him. Everyone else warned him not to run a game with me. He said he could handle me. Okay, warning issued. Something else I should mention, the craziness I cause is infectious, I start and others start. We wanted to be like the people we saw on TV, you know the bridge crew of the starship, not the helping hands. Eventually he agreed after telling us how hard it was going to be to be the bridge crew. Whatever, I was the Captain.

The setting, us as bridge crew of some starship with the singular task of meeting the USS Hood at some star base to fight the Dominion. I should mention, that none of us, other than Steve, had watched Deep Space 9 thus had ZERO clue what the Dominion were or why he was trying to convince us that they were SOOOOoooo bad.

On our way, first crisis a murder. Ah ha! I knew how to handle that, since everything was recorded on the starship (saw that on the TV show) I wanted to recreate the murder in the holodeck. Gathered on the holodeck, we discover that it is mysteriously broken. One of the players had a Bolian character, imagine a human half blue-half white with a zipper looking line separating the halves, dancing. Why dancing, because nothing was happening.

Fine, not able to solve the murder and having zero interest in the case due to a complete lack of information from Steve, we moved on…to discover that for whatever reason we were traveling really slow. I mean really slow. So slow that Steve kept mentioning it, but none of us were engineers and the engineer, guess what…had no clue.

Bored, the Bolian player continued to dance everywhere and every chance. I was not the Bolian, I was the Captain and I was getting bored too…then we arrived at the star base…

“You come out of warp to find the hood is missing.”

“Maybe that is why we took so long getting here.”

“Do we have starship sized bungie cords to hold the hood down.”

“Yeah, we don’t want the hood flapping about while we fly around space.”

At this point the Bolian player really began to dance. Steve developed a throbbing anger vein in the center of his forehead. Determined to get control of the game we were attacked by the Dominion, at this point we asked what they looked like. Unfortunately for him, the Bolian was our weapons officer and began his Bolian Death Dance and the best our group could determine was the Dominion were lizards and we needed to shoot bugs at them.

Vein red and throbbing, Dominion defeated, Steve informs us that someone fixed the holodeck. Yes, some enterprising (see what I did there) crew person took the time to fix the space VCR during the fight of our lives. I don’t think we actually won, I think we wore him out with the Bolian Death Dance and constant references to the bungie cords holding our hood down.

And here we are at the end, the entire group of players gathered round the holodeck the whole murder plays out and when we ask who did it, Steve points to the only person who had not joined in on the craziness and shouts, “She is the murderer!”

She, like the rest of us, looked baffled. She, unlike the rest of us, recovered faster and shouted, “If I am the murderer I phaser everyone to death.”

“I do the Bolian Death Dance!”

We never did find out what happened to the hood.



Gaming Stories 1

Every gaming group has gaming stories to tell, I have a lot. I usually keep them to myself or people who I gamed with because outside of the event gaming stories tend to sound…well, odd. Just the nature of any story that relies on a specific event. Still there are some that are just fun. Inspired by Big Man who shared one of the better gaming stories with others I am sharing some with you.


For three years I ran a continuous game of Legend of the Five Rings, imagine a Japan with magic and monsters. In our first game, Big Man who was playing Jubei a ronin (masterless samurai) found himself in a duel with a Unicorn Clan samurai. Jubei won and took the dead samurai’s swords intending to take them back to his clan.

The gaming group passed through Unicorn Clan lands several times over that three years. Jubei’s “legend” grew with each passing year. Fought in several wars, including a few he started, survived a trip into the Shadowlands, and won numerous duels. Near the end of the three year run a woman non-player character joined the group. She claimed to want to chronical the exploits of the famous Jubei.

And she did. She also spent a lot of her time slowly poisoning Jubei. When his death finally came he discovered much to his dismay that the woman was the sister of the first samurai Jubei had killed and she was there to restore family honor. Picking up the family swords she left Jubei to die.

A Potato Gun?

I don’t remember the exact game, one of those D20 side projects that Wizards shit out for a while. The gist for our gaming group was the players were FBI agents investigating paranormal activity, in the vein of X-Files. Assigned to investigate a town in the middle of Montana they immediately got into trouble.

For any game I run, which is all but a few, I have multiple story lines, villains who act on their own, and lots of things of interest. The players are on their own as to what they do. In this case they bumped into a family of ghouls. A point of interest for my setting, not a major or minor plot point, the ghouls had lived in the town since the town’s founding. They were the “weird” people. Their biggest crime, stealing cattle instead of raiding graveyards.

However, since they were the “weird” people in town the players took that as “they must be the bad guys.” To handle the ghouls instead of investigating or even attempting to contact the family they raided the house. Yes, players in role playing games often do completely illogical things that make “sense” to them.

Which is how the first player through the front door found their character on the receiving end of a potato gun which knocked the character out. The other players taking this as a sign of “must be the bad guys” went all commando. Except, because they did zero in game research did not know how large the family was nor how much damage a potato gun can do to an unarmored human. Three characters knocked out, two fled the scene, and the ghoul family left town until the characters left.