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. 🙂



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. 🙂

Games We Play: This Is The End, Pandemic Legacy

We had to know. We had to learn how the story ended. To do that we had to play. Two to four games is all. Two games if we won, four if we lost. How hard could it be? Four games hard. I pushed us to complete Pandemic Legacy. I HAD to know. I was not alone is needing to know.

MASSIVE SPOILERS: November began with the shocker that we failed. We did not find patient zero. We thought we would have November to find patient zero, thus we were not worried about it, then November begins with “You didn’t find the patient, but here is another team who did and you get their information.”  What does this mean? For the moment only good things.

All previous objectives are removed and the focus becomes placing vaccine stations, producing vaccine, and curing the Faded. Yes, curing the Faded. Then November fell off the rails.

Our team focused on curing the Faded which consisted of producing vaccine tokens, picking them up, and taking them to faded cities to cure the faded then vaccinate the city. A vaccinated city could not get more Faded figures, meaning in the process of achieving an objective we made our game easier. Unfortunately, due to setup Faded figures were clustered creating clusters of outbreaks that actually added new Faded cities for us to cure. The second half of November went better because the work we did get done in the first half paid off. By the end of the game we had five remaining Faded cities. This would pay off in December.

December the last month, two objectives find the hidden stash of virus and cure all of the Faded cities. With five remaining Faded cities we took care of that quickly leaving finding the hidden stash. To find the hidden stash, stay in Atlanta and turn in cards that match the pattern on the search track. Each time an epidemic occurred finding the stash became harder. Due to bad card draw we never got the right combination of cards and epidemics pushed the stash into not findable.

1:30 am we are determined to finish Pandemic Legacy. The board is setup one last time. We have one objective find the hidden stash. No cures. No quarantines. Just find the hidden stash and hope that we draw the right cards. Clustered in Atlanta we looked at our cards and saw hope. Six, maybe seven turns later, we turned in the last set of cards to find the hidden stash. Did we win?

That depends on how you view the end game scoring. Yes, we won December; we found the hidden stash of virus and blew it up preventing further infection. However…pulling out the last card there was a scoring system. Take all of your records of wins and losses, combined with the statuses of cities, and then calculate bonus points. That second team, while a bonus to game play was a huge penalty to points.

Our final score: 487 with some work humanity and society will rebound.

Our final score if we had found patient zero: 687 with a lot less work humanity and society move on.

Final thoughts: Get Pandemic Legacy. Does not matter which color, blue or red box are identical.

Games We Play: Betrayed!, Pandemic Legacy Spoilers

Warning, if you are playing or want to play Pandemic Legacy you may NOT want to read this post as there will be SPOILERS! I normally would not do spoilers, but last night was such a shock and punch to the gut that I need to write about the experience.

Last chance to avert your eyes.


As I wrote here in one of my reviews of Pandemic Legacy, you play Pandemic with a twist. The twist being that each new game builds upon what happened in previous games. Each game takes place during a month of a year. Win a game advance to the next month. Lose a game advance to the second half of the current month.

We have had some really good luck, some really good games, and some really good lucky games. People familiar with Pandemic know just based on how the board is set up how a game will end after a turn or two. We knew starting the month of September that odds were we were going to lose; 6 of the 9 starting disease locations were yellow, which meant that first epidemic card would likely blow up in our faces unless we cured yellow fast. We had NO yellow cards in any player’s hand. Thus we planned to do the objective of find the solider and do what we could otherwise, hoping to get lucky.

MASSIVE SPOILERS: The Faded were located in Russia, we have done a great job of containing them to the black disease locations, no spread. We have six military bases built at the start, automatically completing that objective. Our team of the solider, quarantine specialist, medic, and scientist worked well to quarantine the faded (7 quarantined faded city objective) and cure the diseases. Thus, even though the set up was not in our favor we thought we had a good chance of pulling something out.

September came with another “Find this person…” mission. We had completed each previous “Find this person…” mission in the month we got the mission. And we did so with this one. So as the world is succumbing to the yellow virus we find the missing solider who…

knew of a spy/traitor in our midst…our own soldier. How did this happen? An upgrade sticker we thought worked great with the soldier was given to the soldier a few games earlier. WHAT! Seriously shocked looks around the table. What did this mean? As Barb picked up her character and began to tear the card into pieces. Yes, pieces. Through no fault of hers, such as a bad turn, her character was lost AND a traitor.

Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, this happened during a turn, we lost one of our team, the cards she had, and got a civilian to replace her. Civilians have no skills or upgrades or anything. Add to this, now we are supposed to blow up the military bases we spent several games building and all us sat back in shock. The next turn yellow blew up, a single outbreak turned into four and that was the first month of September.

We rallied for the second game of September for a win. The twist really did catch us all off guard and did affect how we played.

Games We Play: Con Games

Hope everyone is having a good Memorial Day and remembering why there is a Memorial Day and no it is not a national day to get drunk, eat hot dogs, and party. We are doing our part here at home.

When we went to Motor City Comic Con we took a few games with us, but due to the hectic pace we kept we were unable to play more than a game or two. This time because C4 has shorter hours we packed several games including a new one, We Didn’t Play Test. Before that some suggestions from us about games and travel.

When packing games here are some things we learned:

  1. Smaller games are better, think pack of cards big
  2. Make sure the games do not have a lot of small parts
  3. While you hope this won’t happen, if something should get lost or damage make sure you are okay with that
  4. Quick games are better than long games, people are tired and distracted
  5. Packing more games is not better than packing a few good games
  6. Have games that interest as many people as possible
  7. When playing in public get used to all sorts of interest from passerby’s

For C4 I packed, Get Bit, Star Realms with Colony Wars, Roll For It, and We Didn’t Playtest This. All of them are self-contained, small games, that fit in one bag. Further, if something happened to them I could get another copy at worse.

Here is what happened:

Roll For It is too much for very tired people. I know, a game where you roll dice and match pictures can become frustrating when the dice won’t roll the pictures. Tired people get frustrated quicker, see where this is going?

Get Bit is a great little game, except when people play in a easy to recognize pattern. Then Get Bit becomes repetitive and boring.

Star Realms was the favorite of the trip. We taught two people how to play and they loved the game. I expected to play a game or two, at most. We played every day, a couple of games each day. We even played a quick game before C4 opened on Sunday. Star Realms is an extremely well designed game making games close and keeping everyone engaged. Adding Colony Wars to allow 4 players made games more interesting.

We Didn’t Playtest This was…the adults expected a lot more. The kids had no clue what to expect. The gamer in me hoped for more and got what he expected. We Didn’t Playtest This is played as such, deal two cards to each player. On your turn draw a card from the draw pile. Pick a card and place the card in front of you. Follow the instructions on the card in front of you. That’s it.

Here’s the rub, the goal is to win. Many of the cards are instant win, everyone hold up 1 to 5 fingers, those with an odd number lose. Now, if we were drinking, this probably would’ve been fun. As it was there were no drinks and there were children. Children and adults don’t like instant lose over and over and over again. So here is my recommendation, IF you are looking for an extremely quick game (longest game was 4 minutes) to carry around, you are not looking for things to make sense, fun cards to read (the cards are very fun to read), then pick up We Didn’t Playtest This. Otherwise stick with Cards Against Humanity.