More Bouncing Ball Please

black-fangWhen we last left our intrepid adventurers they had driven off Black Fang, the young black dragon, and headed back to Sandpoint for their rewards.

Today’s adventure started off with Galadriel, Gimli, and Buffy drinking ale floats (our boy because root beer floats was not being sold), shopping, and hoping that the next adventure would smack them in the face.  What do you know, within minutes the clarion call for adventurers to go adventuring was heard.  Four thugs had robbed a local store and took off out of town for another town. The chase was on…

…well after Galadriel and Buffy bought horses.  Gimi did not like horses, so he bought a wagon and then being a thinking man’s dwarf bought a chest to transport all of his gold around with him.  Then had a chain crafted to keep the key to the chest’s lock close to him at all times.  Then the chase was on.

A two day trip to Galduria, the town the thugs were seen headed off to; along the way they encounter some friendly merchants who confirm that there was some trouble from Galduria.  NOTE HERE: Since this was their second adventure I wanted to make everything as simple as possible.  Thus if I said the thugs were headed off to Galduria, the thugs were going to Galduria.  I did not want our kids looking for clues that didn’t exist or taking off on tangents because I said something that caught their attention, but that something really meant nothing.  Alas, as you will see in a moment, I did not go simple enough.

Upon getting to the west side of Galduria, which they learned from the merchants, they find a watch post, an inn, and a temple.  Gimli, the least socially skilled of the three gets down from his wagon, walks up to the watch post, opens his mouth-rolls a 2 (bad rolls would plague our boy in every situation other than combat today)-offends the guard and then the next words out our boy’s mouth, “He must be a thug in disguise!”

What what?!  Not now, I immediately think to myself and then set the record straight, this is your second adventure, I am not going to trick you. When I say that person is a guard, they are a guard, not a thug disguised as a guard.

I don’t know if this worked or not because they were treating all of the non-player character’s (NPCs) weird for the whole adventure.  Once they give up on the guard; give up meaning that our boy was the only one who talked to this guard, they go to the stable and inn.  The innkeeper gets the once over by the dwarf (who rolls a 1), the elf-who doesn’t share what she learned and then takes the room keys, goes upstairs and takes a bath…the cleric walks over to the temple to find worshippers, but no clerics.  Uninterested in the worshippers the cleric leaves.

Not getting anywhere, the group gathers over dinner and reassigns tasks: the elf who is the talker will do the talking, the dwarf who is observant will look, and the cleric who is a figure of authority with authorize (fine I made that last bit up).  Roughly at the same time Galadriel learns about a disturbance at the graveyard, Gimli learns that Galduria’s cleric went to the graveyard, and Buffy learns that there is a strange light at the graveyard.  Now, Galadriel learned more than just a disturbance, but forgot to tell the other two what she learned and then, no lie, forgot the information herself.

skeletonwarriors.jpgConvinced that the graveyard is where they need to go, they head off to the graveyard. There they find a mausoleum with a light shining from inside.  Without waiting for Buffy to finish her sentence, Gimli and Galadriel rush inside to find five skeletons waiting for them: the four thugs and the now dead cleric from Galduria. Suffice to say they pay for their rushing, suffering a lot of damage before Buffy is able to drive the skeletons off.

Bloodied, but unbeaten the group figures out how to extinguish the magic candle that the thugs stole that caused the dead to rise and collect their reward.  What did I learn?  The next few adventures are going to be “Go here and do this” types of adventures, if nothing else just to avoid watching them try to interact with villagers.

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Dungeon on a River

DungeonAnd I ran really fast for the door clutching onto my bag of goodies.”

That is how my story of Dungeon! ends.  I remember playing Dungeon! when I was younger.  I remember feeling a sense of wonder, excitement, and most of all having fun.  I would like to think that why I didn’t experience that with this new “updated” version of Dungeon! from Wizards of the Coast because I am oldish and I have a good memory.

Our game was over in under a half-hour.  I took the wizard and went into the toughest area where I racked up $30k in treasure (see photo of my loot), then ran for the door.  Meanwhile the kids and Barb were stuck in the lower levels, as in less challenging, of the board getting their collective asses handed to them.

“FUCK!” our girl shouted when the werewolf beat her for the third time in a row and took her loot.

Her’s was not the only fuck uttered in frustration at the table, not by me I was blasting monsters left and right.  The board has a ton of rooms in different colors, which represent the theoretical difficulty of the room, connected by corridors and large chambers.  On a turn a player can move their character-rogue, cleric, fighter, or wizard- five spaces. If they enter a room or chamber they encounter a monster.  Combat consists of rolling two six-sided dice, if the total of the roll is equal or higher than the number on the card (number is dependent upon the class you are playing), you defeat the monster.  If you are in a room, gain a treasure.  If you are in a chamber, tough luck.  Treasure has a monetary value, collect enough treasure to equal or exceed a monetary total determined by your class and win.

Really Dungeon! is that simple and it felt that simple the entire time.  There was no strategy. There was no planning.  Just move, roll, collect, and wait for my turn.  The kids got so bored that they started doing their own thing, such as repeatedly trying to open a secret door even though they didn’t need to or fighting in chambers where there was no treasure just because.  That I was playing the wizard, who according to the rules, could attack in a certain way (using spells) and suffer no consequences even in the “toughest” area of the board seemed really off.

After Dungeon! and dinner, we played another game of Carcassonne.  Carcassonne is turning into a family favorite like Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is.  We got our hands on a copy of the River expansion which seemed small, twelve tiles, but turned out to have a much bigger impact on the game than expected.  Instead of using one start tile, with the river you alternate laying out the river tiles, which you can score on, until all twelve tiles are on the table.  The completed river becomes the new starting tile (s).

The effect upon game play was immediate, each of us was able to start something without having someone interfering.  The board was more spread out and problem tiles, such as the four sided city tile, were not as problematic.  The Rivers expansion comes with base sets, but did not come in The Big Box.  If you got the Big Box, get the Rivers expansion. Next up for our Carcassonne games, adding the Builders and Traders expansion to the mix.

Qapla’

Isn’t Klingon fun, one of the only times you will get to use the letter Q and whatever letter you want next.  Yes, I do own the Klingon Dictionary. 🙂

fc2Yesterday I told you about the issues with Star Trek Fleet Captains from Wizkids games.  Today I am here to tell you about our first game.  Upfront this is not a quick set-up game, before you can play you need to do the following:

  • Assemble the hex tile board.
  • Assemble your fleet which is done in a semi-random, points buy system: draw ship cards until you equal or exceed the point total.  If you exceed draw a new ship and keep doing so until you get to the point total.
  • Draw missions which are based upon which ships you have just assembled.
  • Build your command deck.  There are 100 cards for the Federation and Klingons divided into ten 10-card mini-decks.  Choose four 10-card mini decks to make a command deck of 40.  Shuffle, draw four.
  • Then put the rest of the components-counters, dice, encounters, and reference sheets in place.

Now you are ready to play.

fc3Play consists of the following:

  • Move each ship.
  • Take an action per ship.

There you go.  That sounds really simple doesn’t it?  Yes it does, but bare with me at the heart of the game those are the two primary things you can do.  Movement is based on how much energy you have allocated to the ship’s engines.  While this sounds complicated each ship has a handy chart that shows how much energy is allocated to all of the ship’s systems at a glance and this was never an issue during game play.  Ships move from hex to hex stopping when a random encounter occurs or to perform an actions.

Actions include, scanning adjacent hexes, expanding your sides influence which can lead to assembling bases, dealing with enemy ships, transporting away teams or cargo or playing cards. There are a lot of actions that each player can take, but none of them are overly complicated or hard to understand.

Star Trek Fleet Captains was a joy and blast to play.

Barb as the Federation got a lucky draw which resulted in her having the Enterprise-E, Voyager, and the Equinox.  I got a bird of prey, a D-7 cruiser, and the Bortas which was a flagship.  She got lucky further by only having pleasant encounters in space: two starbases for free, free crew, and well let’s just say for the Federation the universe was all rainbows and unicorns.

fc4Me, the Klingon, encountered nebula after nebula or barren uninhabitable planets.  Not all was bad, I did find a civil war where I helped one side beat the other.  Then in an attempt to keep Barb from winning, I put two very large holes in the Equinox.  As an aside combat and all encounters are resolved like this: System + d6 +/- modifiers from any cards play total must exceed encounter number.  So when the Bortas and the D-7 Cruiser attacked the Equinox the weapons of my ships + d6 compared to the Equinox’s shields + d6.  Higher result won. That winner was me.

She won through a clever use of treachery (exploration is what she is calling it): sensor scans in nebulas, rescuing away teams, and delivery candy to children.  Ugh it was sickening.  Of course she won.

To reiterate, Star Trek Fleet Captains was fun to play.  A pain to set-up, but once play started the game felt very Star Trekie, was fast flowing (even for our first game), and was very obvious that this would be a different game each time we played.

One Tile At A Time

Carcassonne 2Carcassonne is a city in France, there ends the history and culture portion of this post.  Carcassonne is game from Z-man games.  Carcassonne is a hideously simple game to learn, here let me show you:

  1. Draw a tile.
  2. Place a tile next to another tile with a matching edge: field, city, or road.
  3. Optional, place a meeple, one of seven, onto a road, city, monastery, or into a field to claim that road, city, monastery, or field for scoring points.
  4. If you complete a road or city, score points.  Fields are scored at the end of the game.  Monasteries are scored when all of the spaces around them are filled in.

There you go, that simple.  No lie either.  There are a coupe of rules related to placing meeples next to each other, but that is the rules.  The person with the highest score at the end of the game wins.  The game ends when all of the tiles have been placed.

We have played three games now.  The first game was a learning experience, but by the end both kids were able to place tiles without asking for help and a couple of times to make good plays for points.  The biggest hurdle was placing their meeples, but that centered more around our girl placing them all of the time, thus running out later in the game, and our boy refusing to place them in fields or in his words, “My knights don’t need any farmers.”

Carcassonne 3Game two, went much the same way, except that both of the kids gave us fits by purposely placing tiles to keep us from easily scoring large cities or roads, while working together to score points.  That was pretty cool to see.  However, age and experience, won out with the adults taking first and second place.

For our third and final game of Carcassonne of the night we added the Inns and Cathedrals expansion to the mix.  Inns affect road scoring in that you either finish the road and score double points or none at all.  Cathedrals do the same for cities, finish a city with a cathedral and score more points or none at all.

Carcassonne 1The third game was a bit longer, due to the extra tiles and having to figure out how to place some of them.  The scores were a lot higher than before, but Inns and Cathedrals fit into gameplay and learning curve without any problems at all.

If you are looking for a quick, especially if you have everyone draw a new tile after they play their tile for their turn, game that is easy to learn then I highly recommend Carcassonne.  No history lesson needed, just match up the tiles.

The photos are from our games.

Weekend Gaming Plans

Our boy is cleaning his room.

Our girl is holding an ice-pack to her forehead, due to an errant foot from our boy while they were cleaning.

Barb is cleaning off what we affectionately call her table and piles of messes.

I am upstairs writing this blog mentally planning out the weekend’s worth of games and food.  This is something that I do each Thursday and Friday.  Family Game Night is something that I, no scratch that, we as a family enjoy, but it does take some planning.  Regardless of how much planning I do nothing happens if rooms aren’t cleaned and the table isn’t cleared off.  Thus they work while I plan.

Why don’t I work?  Good question.  Normally I do help, but the time has come for the children to learn to do on their own, Barb is an adult, and I had a bunch of small homework things to get done so I did them.  The whole time thinking to myself, what food and games for the weekend?  I don’t want the kids playing a ton of video games, I want to play with them, and I like to cook and eat.

For games the line of thought goes like this:

The boy had been wanting to play Carcassonne before we got the box and the sight of the box sitting around is driving him nuts.  Thus we will play that.  The girl has been interested in Dungeon! but I think that has to do with me saying that I thought Dungeon! and Clue had some common elements.  I am pretty sure that we will end up playing Road Kill Rally so she can take out her brother’s car in revenge for the foot to the head.

I’m hoping to get in a game or two of A Game of Thrones LCG (Living Card Game) with Barb to see how invested that we will get with the game.  We do love our Game of Thrones books and TV show.  If we can squeeze a game of DC Deckbuilding Game or some other game like that I will be over the top geeked.  A plan was to give Dungeon Fighter a try, but the target board looks as big as our table, so we are trying to figure out where to play.  Don’t worry Dungeon Fighter will get played.

I am hoping to continue training with KrosMaster, but that depends on the kids for the moment.  If they are in the mood, great, if not-delay.  The latest expansion for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is soon to be delivered to our door and I really am pressing to get a game or two in before the end of the weekend.  Plus we just another pound of dice, which means they have to be tested out. I have been jonesing for some role-playing, but like all role-playing games everyone has to be in the mood. Crossing my fingers.

What about food?

Oh yeah, I am working on a menu.  Looks like tonight will be nothing special, primarily prep work for the weekend.  We found actual plums yesterday, of course we found them after we had bought a bunch of plum jelly/jam at another store, but now I am gearing up to make that plum sauce with real plums.  No worries, I will tell you how that goes.

To go with the plum sauce is another round of crab Rangoon.  I want to make an Orange Dish, such as Orange Chicken, but we have had so much chicken of late that I am toying with making Orange Pork or Orange Shrimp.  I know neither rolls off the tongue, but both are different than chicken and both work with orange sauces.  Other dishes for the weekend could be cashew chicken or moo goo gai pan or a good noodle dish.  I quite settled yet.  I do know that I will be making Sichuan cucumber salad though with the ingredient that makes the dish pop.

Lastly, there is a page called Games We Play with a list of all of the games that I have written about and links to the blogs.  I am in the process of finishing the page and will keep the page updated, but for those of you who want to find out what I have to say about a game that should make the job easier.

Arena Training Underway

Krosmaster ArenaWe have been slowly working our way through one of the coolest board game presentations that I have seen in a long time.  Krosmaster Arena by Ankama was not something that I had seen before Amazon, who unlike Netflix, knows how make a suggestion that I will like.  Hoarders indeed, please Netflix try harder.

When I did my background search I found out that Krosmaster is an online game that they turned into a board game.  Taking the various characters in the online game they turned them into some impressive looking figures. In fact, the figures alone are worth having, if you like that sort of thing and we do.  Do not get us started on the Skylanders disaster…but we do have a lot of cool figures.  Other objects of interest in the box, are a two sided board that is very colorful and easy to look at.  Three-dimensional trees, bushes, and boxes that you construct out of sturdy cardboard.  The counters and cards are all well done.

Figure Front-BackThe concept of the game is four characters on a team attempting to defeat another team of four, with up to four players.  Each character is unique having a diverse range of abilities and powers.  There is also a good dispersion of male and female characters, a plus with our daughter.  A sample of powers include a character that can shoot and move backwards at the same time and another character that summons ducks (they look like ducks) that make the character stronger for each kiss that the ducks deliver.  Yes, you read that right, kissing ducks.

Gameplay breaks down into movement, and actions.  Characters can move and perform actions as long as they have movement and action points available.  The goal being to defeat the other team either by knocking them out or taking all six of the large coins from them.  At the start of the game each team gets six large coins, as long as they have at least one coin and a character left they are still in the game.  Scattered around each board along with trees, bushes, and boxes are smaller coins that can be collected to turn in for a large coin or a power up which come in three power levels and two varieties.  Power ups take what could be a common beat-em up game and add a lot of spice and variety to each game.  Ranging from permanent additions to a character, like armor, to one time use power ups can alter the field of play quickly.

Krosmaster Arena 1Learning how to play is massively different from any other game.  Instead of reading the rulebook and jumping in, which you can do, there is training.  Each section of the rules has a small board printed out on the next page where you can set up a small board and practice what you have just read about.  Following training sections build upon previous lessons which culminate in a full game with four characters on a team.  The rules are very easy to read and understand with plenty of examples, if the training session isn’t enough.  Unlike previous games where I teach the family on the go, we have been using the training sessions which have really been helping the kids retain the rules and understand everything that they can do.

Chinese Furnance Game

Furnace Follow Up

Beef and BroccoliYesterday, way too early in the morning I told you about the strange odor, the police officer who couldn’t smell, and the firefighters.  We fell asleep as befitting people who were tired and woke up to a very cold house.  I fiddled with the thermostat, nothing happened, I called the emergency number and this time got through to a tired sounding woman with a very thick accent.  Myself tired of the problems and tired of trying to understand her told here where we were and to send over a maintenance man.  She sent him to the wrong house.  When he did arrive he sniffed once and said, “Furnace fan is out.”

Yep it was.  He was surprised the firemen didn’t know what the smell was because at least two of them own furnace repair shops in town.  We agreed that those two probably didn’t come inside.  Best to be positive about an annoying and increasingly funny in an dark way event: send an officer with no sense of smell to an odor event, two people who could have immediately sourced the problem not on the call, and the on-call person not being available and when available sends the repairman to the wrong house.

To end this saga on a high note, we have heat and we apparently have not had heat for several months as this place is actually warm inside.

Super Dungeon Explore

CAM00110However, since we were up late, woken up early, and napped through the day our gaming was kept short.  Super Dungeon Explore was the only game we played.  Super Dungeon Explore is not a cooperative game.  I thought it was when I bought the game, but turns out there is the Counsel and the Heroes.  The Heroes are trying to defeat the Counsel player and the Counsel player is trying to defeat the Heroes.

The Heroes have a ton of advantages.  They get multiple actions or attacks.  They have more life, more armor, more skills, and can equip even more gear, found as Loot, to further increase their advantages.  The Heroes share just about everything regardless of distance or location, thus potions are shared, treasure, and so on.  The downside is, that in our games there are only three Heroes and they MUST work together as a team.

The Counsel has Spawn Points, lots of disposable creatures, a big creature, and finally a boss.  The Spawn Points are where monsters enter the game.  When a Spawn Point is removed it is one less location for the Counsel player to put monsters into play and one step closer to Hero victory.

The Heroes win when the Spawn Points are destroyed, the Boss summoned, and defeated.  The Counsel wins when the Heroes are eliminated.

Fried RiceSuper Dungeon Explore is divided into two distinct stages. The 8-bit Stage (yes video game terms) is the first stage.  The Counsel player can only summon weak monsters, the hope-at least mine-was to overwhelm the Heroes.  The Heroes mowed through them quickly.  As the players score damage a meter goes up, when the meter reaches the 16-bit Stage, the Counsel can summon the big creature and give a power to all monsters.

Our game, went like this: The Heroes mowed through the first batch of creatures and Spawn Point.  Then they split up, which turned out to be their mistake.  One Hero went for the treasure chest, the other two went for the monsters.  The Hero who went for the treasure was the slowest, which kept him out of the game for three turns while he moved to catch-up.  The two female Heroes got overwhelmed by a horde of small monsters, but did enough damage to take the game to 16-bit stage.  The big monster destroyed the Heroes one at a time as they split apart to attack different monsters.  The Counsel won. The Heroes learned to work together more.

Here are the pros: Super Dungeon Explore is fast to play-everyone alternates so downtime is at a minimum.  The game is bright and colorful, even the colored translucent dice, which kept the kids and adults entertained.  The game is easy to explain, I know that we got some stuff wrong, but the basics are quick.

There are no cons. There are some warnings: The Heroes have a lot of powers that need to be used, which means the player needs to be able to read or be told about them.  There is bookkeeping for the Counsel player, not a ton, but making sure the bookkeeping gets done can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Chinese

Cashew ChickenThe photos are all of Chinese dishes that I have made this week using Diana Kuan’s The Chinese Takeout Cookbook.  I can’t or I won’t share recipes from the cookbook, but I will say this, if you like to cook Chinese but have a hard time with ingredients or consistency or just want something different than traditional Chinese cookbooks, get this.  Every recipe has been a success.

Pictured:

Beef with Broccoli

Lemon Chicken

Fried Rice

Cashew Chicken

Not Pictured:

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Homemade Egg Rolls

Egg Drop Soup

Cold Sesame Noodles

Sneak Peak

Provide next week goes better than this one-quick recap: power outage, dead phone (did not blog about this), odor, and furnace we will be trying out this game:

Krosmaster Arena 1